An Anniversary

Odd little snippet that popped into my head. Obviously AU since Severus is alive after DH, although it's kind of depressing all things considered.

Severus considered the contents of the glass on the bar in front of him…liquid with a sharp, biting smell and a cloudy reddish appearance with a bit of sparkle here and there. Or, rather, it would have had such characteristics if the smell of overcooked ham from the tables behind him wasn't forcing him to breathe through his mouth for fear of being ill and the dim lighting around the bar hadn't rendered everything a rather inert brown. He tapped the side of the glass lightly. At least the barman here portioned out tolerably generous amounts of Ogden's Old Firewhisky when he served his customers, or at least waited until they were obviously drunk before serving that vile watered-down concoction so many places offered. Severus wasn'tentirely certain how much he'd had to drink so far—more than two glasses, but certainly less than five—and apparently he still appeared sober enough to get the good stuff.

He reached out again and traced a drop of condensation down the outside of the glass, listening to the quiet murmurs of conversation around him. Why, precisely, he was alone in a bar drinking an unknown quantity of Firewhisky was escaping him at the moment—getting intoxicated wasn't necessarily a bad way to spend an evening, after all, but in general he preferred to do so in his overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fire—and with a sigh he let the bead of water slide off his finger and fall to the scarred wood of the bar.

"'S not my birthday," he decided after a moment of deep thought. He was quite certain of that…for one thing it was nearly summer, and for another his birthday was hardly a day that he cared to acknowledge.

"'S not a holiday." That was slightly less certain, but since he didn't usually leave his little cottage on those days, it seemed a reasonable assumption. Besides, if it was a holiday there would be some kind of celebration going on. Celebrations annoyed him. He considered a bit more, and then slapped the counter. "'S an anniversary!"

One of the other patrons a few seats down muttered something rude, but Severus' glare was enough to shut him up. He knew who Severus was, Severus was certain…that Merlin-be-damned Brat-Who-Wouldn't-Die had spread it around often enough. Spread around a bloody stupid story about love and sacrifice and Merlin-knew-what until Severus didn't even recognize his own life anymore. And they'd believed him, of course…the whole buggering Wizarding world. Of course they believed him—he'd defeated the Dark Lord, after all, ergo he could do no wrong. Severus grabbed the glass and took a mouthful of the burning liquid before slamming it back down on the counter. Azkaban would have been better. Death would have been better.

On the first anniversary of the Vanquishing of Voldemort—and only a Gryffindor would have come up with a title that idiotic—one little dunderhead in the guise of a reporter had shown up at his private residence and actually tried to interview him. Not about the war, no, or about his time as a spy. He wouldn't have talked about any of those things either, of course, but at least they mattered. No, she'd wanted to know about his childhood, about his 'feelings'. He snatched up his glass again and drained it quickly. Interview him! As if he would ever endorse the mawkish sentimentality that the rest of the world seemed determined to put into his actions. She'd been from Beaubaxtons , at least…no one who'd attended Hogwarts during his tenure there would even consider attempting something so idiotic.

A filled glass appeared in place of the one he'd just drained, and Severus glared at it for a moment. "An anniversary." Anniversaries were good times to be in bars; he was fairly certain of it. But was it that anniversary? He looked around the bar carefully. Probably not. Technically that was a holiday, now, and he'd already decided that it wasn't a holiday. Besides, if it were there would be a decidedly different crowd in here. Quasi-familiar faces…none who'd borne the Dark Mark of course, but those whose loyalties tended toward shades of grey rather than the side of light. No, today the bar patrons were just your average witches and wizards—mostly wizards—who'd stopped in for a drink and perhaps a bite to go with it. Although from the smell of it, the cook's efforts with the ham were still suffering.

He moved the glass off to the side a bit and ran his finger through the ring of condensation it left behind. So what anniversary was it? For all the drama the rest of the population seemed intent on putting into it, there had been precious few truly momentous occasions in his life. His parents' lives and deaths…his grandparents' lives and deaths…it all blended together now. Hadn't been much of a childhood for him anyway. The only bright spot during that time of his life he didn't dare think about anymore, not after what Potter had told everyone and his sodding brother about Severus' feelings for Lily. The Prophet reporters would be camping out at his front door for even a whisper of a chance at such a story, just like that worthless twat had three years ago. He snorted. 'Star-Crossed Love' or something equally idiotic, that's what they'd call his first meeting with the little redhead. And never mind that that day had ended with a shouting match between the two of them.

He flicked the water off his fingers and reached for his glass. It wasn't that anniversary either.

What else was there? His memories of school and his time teaching had been mostly without remark…there was the odd moment of humiliation, the occasional attempt on his life, but those weren't the sort of things one marked on a calendar. As a Deatheater…well, he didn't think about that time anymore either. But perhaps the anniversary of his leaving Hogwarts for the last time? He considered for a moment before shaking his head. No…no, it had been cold then. Snowy. He'd forgotten to bring a scarf when he'd finally gone back to clean out his quarters.

He traced the rim of the glass. Rolanda had helped him pack his belongings; being a former professional Quidditch player had probably given her more experience with such things than most. She'd come down while he was gathering the potions' ingredients that belonged to him rather than the school and had started shrinking his books without a word. She had been the only one to help…from the students that was expected—he'd been mildly impressed that they'd managed to quell their shouts of joy until he was off the grounds—but he'd thought his colleagues….

Severus took a deep swallow of Firewhisky and wished it was stronger. Most of the Wizarding world had believed Harry-bloody-Potter's story. Saw him as some kind of tragic hero. And maybe his colleagues at Hogwarts had too, at least to a point, but he'd never know. To most of the Wizarding world Albus had been just a figure, a title…the Defeater of Grindlewald, Supreme Mugwump, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Headmaster at Hogwarts, greatest wizard of his age. To those who'd worked with him Albus had been a friend and a confidant, and whatever had precipitated Severus' actions he had been the one to take Albus Dumbledore from them. They might tell themselves that they'd forgiven his betrayal—and it had been a betrayal—but he knew better.

Another swallow, even deeper than the last. What would they have done if Potter's poison had killed Albus before his promise had forced him into that situation, he sometimes wondered. Would they have been so quick to see the end of him? Bitter laughter drew a few stares, but he paid them no attention. A third swallow…he was going to need another glass soon. But no, it wasn't the anniversary of the day he had finally left Hogwarts.

Nor was it June 21st.

"An anniversary." He finished off the glass and decided that it didn't really matter. Even if he couldn't remember what the significance of the day was to him…well, no doubt that someone, somewhere, was having an anniversary. "May it be a damn sight better than mine."

He set the empty glass down on the bar, unsurprised when two clinks followed indicating the arrival of a full glass for both himself and the person who'd taken the seat to his left. Severus stared down into the Firewhisky for a moment and then shook his head and waved the barman back over. He might as well figure out just how much he owed this fine establishment and then go home…as he could no longer remember why he'd even come here in the first place, he could see no real point in remaining.

Thanks in advance for reviews… since there's a fair chance that this will be left as a one-shot rather than continued, it's likely that I will have trouble thanking you in later chapters.