The funeral of Severus Snape was a small, quiet affair on the lone hillside outside of Spinner's End.
It was fitting. Just the way Sev would have liked it, thought Lily. He had always hated large crowds, always hated people who told him 'good job, well done' without knowing a damn thing about him.
In fact, she was quite sure that she and Albus Dumbledore were the only ones there of their own volition. The short list of guests included just her husband James, Remus, Sirius and the Headmaster. They all kept glancing at their watches surreptitiously. If Severus were here, he'd probably kick them all out. Especially James. Sev would call him an arrogant toerag, and Lily would let out an irritated huff while concealing a smile. It was so comfortable, watching them bicker like they were back at Hogwarts...
Fighting against the painful memories swirling around inside of her, she cracked a smile and held onto it like a lifeline.
It was the least she could do, really. All he'd asked of her, as he prepared to run headlong towards his death, was that she smiled when she thought of him.
The recollection brought tears to her eyes. She'd been crying a lot lately, and the only thing that helped was reading his words, over and over again.
She had no idea that he had kept a journal, however infrequently he wrote in it. She had no idea that he'd bequeathed it to her, that it contained the truth about Severus Snape. She never knew how beautiful and terrible his words could be. She never knew how ignorant she had been. It shamed her to discover how little she really knew about her best friend.
She never knew that her husband had hurt him so badly because of her. Even though it had happened years ago she never realized he had lost the use of one eye, never once wondered why he would disappear seemingly at random while he dealt with yet another migraine that she inflicted upon him with her nothing more than her presence... How could she forgive herself for never noticing things that were so readily apparent?
She never realized how deeply he had loved her. She never wanted to think about it, never wanted to dwell on how poorly she had treated him. She only cared that her best friend continued to be there to pick up the pieces when she was falling apart, never noticing that what he wanted more than anything was to hold onto the pieces that he'd put back together.
She was so incredibly blind, so unforgivably selfish.
He deserved so much better than her.
Tears fell easily from the corners of her eyes as guilt overwhelmed her once more. She felt wretched.
It had been six days since Lily had received that fated letter from Hermes.
In the aftermath of Voldemort's demise, parties were being thrown spontaneously all across the Wizarding World. The Obliviators were working long hours trying to cover up all the casual, careless displays of magic that were being performed in front of muggles across the country.
Voldemort was found dead at Malfoy Manor, the victim of a new and particularly gruesome spell that transfigured his intestines into a thick noose of brambles which cinched around his heart until it burst. Lily now knew exactly what Sev meant when he said he'd created a spell to show Voldemort what love truly felt like. Realizing that he had loved her was one thing, but actually seeing the physical manifestation of the metaphor he equated loving her with... it was just too much. For her best friend, love was a noose of brambles cinching down around his heart, getting tighter every time he saw her smile. That knowledge would haunt her for the rest of her life.
But nobody knew who had actually done it. Nobody knew that Severus Snape had defeated the darkest wizard since Grindelwald. There were Unspeakables combing over the area, ensuring that the facts were indeed the facts. You didn't just announce that someone had killed someone else without having proof, after all. They wouldn't know for perhaps another week, and even then, the only thing that most people would say is, "... who the hell is Severus Snape?"
Remus asked her why he never joined the Order. He was on the side of light, and he did manage to kill Voldemort, right? He was obviously out to save the Wizarding World... the Order could have helped him. The Order might have kept him alive, even.
She couldn't bring herself to tell him that Severus Snape had killed Voldemort for her and her alone. He had wanted no part in their Order, wanted no part in their war. It sounded so arrogant to say it like that, but that was the honest truth.
Who even did that? Killing a dark lord and saving the world just for the sake of one wretched, selfish and slightly mad redhead...
It was just like him.
As the funeral wore on and snippets of conversation caught her ears, it became even more apparent that Severus was not well-liked. Sirius and Remus were reminiscing about their favorite pranks at Hogwarts. James was adding his running commentary for Dumbledore, whose eyes were twinkling rather mischievously, considering he was a member of the faculty.
This wasn't a funeral, it was a social gathering. She felt like she was the only one who really knew the deceased. She walked closer to the headstone, away from the chattering guests. It felt so quiet up on the hill, only the sound of the gently blowing wind reached her.
It had hurt her deeply to finally understand how alone Sev had been. She hated knowing that she had ruined him. Her meager, oblivious and depressingly platonic smile was all he knew of love. She'd always assumed that he had other friends to occupy his time, always believed that he declined their invitations simply because he was too busy to come. The truth was far more terrible and damning.
The truth was that he had no other friends, no flings, no girlfriends at all. No blokes to fly with and chat about birds with. Hers wasn't just the best present he received on his birthday, as he always said. Hers was also the only present he received on his birthday. Nobody else cared to send well-wishes or gifts while he was alive, and nobody else came to his funeral; nobody else cared enough to pay their last respects to the man who had just saved them all from Voldemort's reign of terror. Nobody remembered him with fondness... Nobody remembered him at all.
She hated them for their indifference towards the unique and incredible man interred before her... but she hated herself so much more. She hated herself because she knew precisely how unique and incredible Severus had been... and she had been indifferent towards him anyway.
She'd been his only friend. The only one he'd ever had, the only one he'd ever wanted. But he'd wanted so much more than her friendship. He'd wanted her heart, her soul.
She only regretted that she could never give him what he desired. What did she give him, instead? Pain. An overwhelming amount of pain inflicted consistently over more than a decade, without even the slightest compensation. Pain so keen that he cried tears of blood. Severus had never once relied upon her the way she had always relied upon him. He had always been so strong...
And he had loved her. He had loved the terrible pain of loving her, simply because she had caused it. He'd even created a spell that physically expressed the emotional agony that was all he had ever learned of love. Sadness overwhelmed her at the thought of how frustrating that must have been; how incredibly lonely. She hated herself for being the source of so much pain and never once realizing how incredibly obvious it had been. She felt the tears forming at the corners of her eyes again.
A sharp prod from her 'passenger' distracted her.
She rubbed circles on her distended belly affectionately, cooing quietly to her unborn child as he squirmed inside of her. It was a boy, they knew that much already.
She had wanted to name him Severus, but James was set on the name of his own father, Harold. Well, that was fine. There was another space for a name on the birth certificate, after all.
Harold Severus Potter.
It was a good, strong name.
As she stared at the white marble headstone, she withdrew a small box from her pocket. Opening it, she placed the contents—an Order of Merlin, First Class—on top of the smooth stone. He had unwittingly bequeathed his award to her along with his estate, but she could think of no better place for it then next to its recipient.
"Sev..." she said, blinking back tears as she ran her fingers over the name engraved in his headstone. "There's so much I wish I would have said and done differently... So many things that I now regret. I wish I could've loved you the way you wanted me to. The way you deserved to be loved. I wish I could've taken away your pain just once the way you always took away mine. I wish you were still here, patting my shoulder and telling me that everything is going to be okay. I wish you could've stayed long enough to see my son come into the world. I wish you could've stayed long enough to spend Christmas with us, a hundred Christmases together and a hundred years in between.
"I miss you so much... and there are so many things that I never had the courage to say. I just hope that wherever you are, you don't feel any more pain. I wish more than anything that you will never have to hurt again." With a mournful sigh, she wiped her eyes on her sleeve and gently kissed the top of the gravestone. "And I wish I would have kissed you when I had the chance." A secret smile brushed her face as the wind picked up, blowing her hair about as she spoke to her dearest friend.
"Thank you for everything. Thank you for loving me. I'll be back to visit you soon, Sev, and I'll make sure that your life wasn't wasted. I'll live my life for both of us, now. So just sit back and watch me, and let me make you proud... Goodbye for now, my friend. I love you. Sit tibi terra levis."
Wiping her tears away one more time, she stood and smiled once more, turning towards the setting sun and thinking of the future. The bright future that her best friend had forged for them all.
As they walked away from the solitary grave on the hillside, she found herself hoping for only two things:
1. That Harry would inherit her piercing green eyes.
2. That her son would grow up to be at least half the man that her best friend had been.
See you on the next great adventure, Sev.