A/N: Here we go with the final chapter, get excited or something. Super thanks to everyone for liking it.
Chapter Twenty-Two: Scorned
Well. There that was. Severus had gone, he'd left me at the hotel, and I was alone, once again. A breeze picked up where I was standing on the balcony, frozen, and it ruffled my still-damp hair. But I couldn't move. I felt as paralyzed as I had in the staff room, when I thought that he was dead. He'd left me. And despite what he'd written in his stupidly eloquent letter, he couldn't possibly have loved me as much as he said he did. If he had, he wouldn't have left. I didn't care what stupid reasons he gave for leaving me, whether it was for my own good or not. If he'd loved me, he wouldn't have left. It was as simple as that. So logically, he couldn't possibly have loved me. That realization hit me like a hippogriff in a thunderstorm and I was physically knocked back, broken from my paralytic state to stagger about the hotel room, taking in great breaths to stop myself choking on my own grief. Eventually I hit the side of the bed we'd shared the previous night, our first night as a married couple, and I fell down upon it, nearly screaming at the prospect of having to live without Severus. I was lying on my back, getting sand in the sheets, staring up at the pure white ceiling with a look of abject horror on my face. I clutched my face with my hands and screwed my eyes shut, hoping against hope that this was all just a horrible nightmare and I'd wake up next to Severus, and I could throw my arms around him and tell him about the awful dream I'd been having. And of course he'd tell me that I was being stupid, that he'd never… oh, Merlin. He did. He'd actually done it. He'd left me. It was no dream, and I couldn't wake up. This was my life, this was real, this was my life without Severus. It wasn't getting off to a particularly good start.
I couldn't say how long I remained lying on the bed, hands on my face. Eventually I must have gone to sleep, though, because I had the most wonderful dream. Severus was with me. I'd leapt at him and hugged him tightly, telling him that I'd missed him, and begged him not to leave me again. Pathetic, really. The worst part was waking up and realizing that it wasn't real. It was dark outside. I stood up and pulled on a pair of jeans that were lying on the ground, over the lower part of my new, sand-covered bikini. I took one last look around the room and turned on the spot, apparating to Hogsmeade so that I could go up to Hogwarts. I couldn't say what my goal was, or why I was even going there. I was numb all over, and I seemed to have misplaced the part of my brain responsible for rational thought. I barely noticed the sticks and stones poking onto the soles of my bare feet, tearing the skin and embedding themselves in my flesh. It was freezing cold outside the castle, but the fact that I was only wearing my bathing suit and a pair of jeans didn't seem to register in my head as my arms hung limply by my sides, my face gormless as I moved zombie-like towards the castle. The warm air inside Hogwarts was welcome, though I wasn't really in a mood to care if I was in Africa or Antarctica as far as temperatures went. I was going to go down to the dungeons, and see Severus, and… I really didn't know what I'd do after that. I just needed to see him. I didn't work properly without him.
The dungeons were deserted. He was true to his word. All evidence that he'd ever been there was gone. There were only my things left in the room we'd once shared. I sat down on the cold stone floor and stared at the bedpost. Why hadn't he loved me? Had I done something wrong? Could I have done something… anything differently, to make him stay? I must have done something, but for the life of me I couldn't think of what it was. Maybe it was that I'd forced him to go down to the beach with me. But that wasn't that horrible, was it? I just… I just wanted to see the fishies… and I wanted him to be with me. I just wanted him with me. I couldn't understand what I'd done to warrant his departure. I started to pick the splinters and tiny rocks from the soles of my feet, barely feeling their pain. Well, at least there was that upside to my complete and utter destruction. It made me so numb that I couldn't feel anything anymore.
I hated that he wasn't with me. I hated that he hadn't loved me enough to stay. I hated that he'd gone through with the whole stupid wedding when he knew that he didn't really love me at all… well, I had kind of forced him to marry me, after he'd had his doubts. Was that why he'd left? He… he'd never really wanted to marry me at all? Oh, Merlin, I couldn't think about the wedding anymore. I was so happy at the reception… and I'd thought he was too…
"I'm sorry, Raphaela." McGonagall's voice came to me from somewhere behind me, but I didn't turn around. I stared into the sole of my foot, searching for any debris I had missed. "He's been and gone. I tried to talk to him, but he seemed determined to leave." I heard footsteps behind me and a hand came down on my shoulder, squeezing it in a reassuring sort of way. "I'm sorry."
"I need to…" I trailed off, not sure where that sentence had been heading. I needed something. What did I need? I just... I didn't know. There was a gnawing feeling deep inside of me, like there was something that I had to do. "Give me his address."
"I don't think it will help, Raphaela. He was very determined."
I turned around and shot my most blazing glare at McGonagall, one I had learned directly from Severus. She looked taken aback, and stood up straight, taking her hand off my shoulder in the process. "Minerva," I growled quietly. "I'm not going to ask you again."
And that was how I found my way to Spinner's End, walking towards the address that McGonagall had reluctantly given me. I was furious. I was angry beyond words. How could he have done this to me? When all I'd done was love him. He'd left me for no reason, no reason at all, and I was fit to strangle the stupid dunderhead. I reached the house and pounded on the door. It swung open.
"Don't you listen to a damned thing I tell you?" For a moment I thought there was someone else in the house, but then I realised that the shouting I heard was directed at me. I entered the house and shut the door behind me, and saw Severus, back in his robes, facing away from me and leaning against a bookshelf. "I told you not to look for me, and what do you do?"
"I look for you," I said defiantly. All I wanted to do was to run over and throw my arms around him, never to let go, but I stood my ground. "Because I love you. Because I thought you loved me, but now I see that I was just being foolish."
"Then why have you come, if that's what you think?" he asked, sounding slightly deflated.
"I… I don't know." I had outright accused him of not loving me and he hadn't denied it. I was determined, though, I wasn't going to collapse into a sobbing mess on his floor and make him think I was even more pathetic. "Why did you stay with me so long if you didn't… if you never…" I couldn't make the words come out. I tried, but they kept on getting caught in my throat and I had to keep wiping the tears off my face so that he wouldn't see me crying.
"Raphaela…" he turned and saw me trying vainly to stop myself from crying, and so I turned away from him. "Don't… I don't want to see you like that…"
"Then why did you leave?!" I spun back and faced him, trying to glare at him but probably looking deranged. "Why did you… I don't…" I stopped trying to stem the flow of tears and simply put my hands over my face, shaking slightly as I tried not to sob too loudly. I felt his arms rest hesitantly around my shoulders but I turned around and shoved him in the chest as hard as I could. He staggered back a few paces but kept his ground. So, maybe I wasn't very strong. But I was angry.
"I left because I love -"
"Don't you dare try to tell me that you love me now," I spat, still glaring up at him. "You would never have left if you'd loved me."
"I thought I was doing the right thing for you."
"Does it look like you've done the right thing for me?"
"I didn't want it to be like this," he said, moving to the couch by a bookshelf and sitting down on it. He motioned for me to sit down too, but I remained standing. I didn't feel up to moving. "I… I had hoped that you would do as I told you and found someone else… someone better…"
"Don't be stupid," I said, letting out a small, gasping laugh. "I never do what you tell me."
"I know," he smiled wryly up at me, though it vanished when I didn't return it.
"I don't want anybody else. How many times do I have to say that before you'll believe it? I love you. I will always love you. That means forever. I don't want anyone else. Only you."
He looked up at me, staring piercingly. "And I would never consider anyone but you." He motioned for me to sit down again, and this time I accepted.
"What happens now, then?" He put one arm about my shoulders and this time I didn't throw him off, but rested my head on his shoulder. "What are we going to do?" For once, Severus seemed lost for words. "We are married."
"It will remain so," he said. "No matter what you believe, I have always loved you. And I will never stop. I do believe that what happened at the hotel was a most grievous mistake."
"Of course it was," I said irritably. "Every time I let you out of my sight, you're convincing yourself that you're not good enough. Am I going to have to be everywhere you are?"
"I can see no flaw in that suggestion," Severus muttered, looking down at me with a peculiar half-smile on his face. "As it stands, whenever I let you out of my sight, men are swarming about for you."
"That's a bit of an exaggeration," I said huffily. "Well then, it appears that the solution is obvious."
"I quite agree," he muttered. I looked up at him and smiled at the glimmer of… something that I saw in his usually-blank eyes. I had Severus back, and he was mine forever. Everything was wonderful. "I'll be anywhere you are."
A/N: Ta-da! The end! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would really love to do another Raphaela story, but I'm all out of ideas for them. Le sigh. She's had a good run, anyway. And I hope you all catch the little reference at the end of this story. If you don't, you may want to read the last chapter of the original Internal, Infernal. Or not. I mean, I won't cry if you don't. But I might. And do you really want that on your conscience?