Epilogue and Coda
A few hours earlier…
Severus Snape sat alone in his office, woring over a few last papers. That was the on thing he never quit got used to, all the paperwork. Dumbledore had made it look effortless, but he'd been doing for the last thirty years or so. In truth, it probably wasn't really all that bad, but the monotony of it had started to wear on his mind, and having a sharp mind had been more important than ever.
"You have done well, Severus."
Snape did not look up. He knew who had spoken. "I'm aware of that." Snape set down his quill. "What is it?"
"Just a feeling that it will be over soon." The voice came from the wall, above him.
Snape narrowed his eyes. "What do you mean?"
"I think you know what I mean." The portrait took a deep breath. Out of habit, Snape supposed. "The time of your long charade is almost over, Severus."
"I… had a feeling as well," Snape said. To any observer, both his face and his mind would appear perfectly impassive.
"I just wanted to make sure I told you that you have done an excellent job," the portrait repeated.
"Had some doubts, did you?" Snape said. "Weren't sure how I would do without you watching over my shoulder?"
"In a manner of speaking," Dumbledore said with a small smile. "I am glad to see I was right about you, Severus. I could not have hoped for a better friend and confidant. You have performed your task perfectly." If Snape felt anything at this remarks, he made no sign. "Indeed, you have done a marvelous job getting everyone to hate you. Though I daresay you may have enjoyed it a bit much." Snape's only response was the ghost of a smile before picking his quill back up.
A few minutes later a young girl ran into Dumbledore's portrait and whispered something in his ear. Snape had no idea who the girl was, and Dumbledore always pretended to sleep when Snape asked about her.
"He's here, Severus," Dumbledore said. Snape set down his quill. "Severus?"
"I heard," Snape said, standing up. "I am ready."
"Good. Oh, don't forget to change the password on your way out."
Snape stopped with a hand on the door. "What? Why?"
"In case Harry needs to get in here."
"What would Potter possibly need from this office?"
Dumbledore was pretending to sleep again. Snape snorted and left the office.