May 4th, 1998
Harry stood before the white tomb in the quiet peace of evening. The past two days had had a hard effect upon him and the rest of the school. The war was won—but they had dead to bury and to mourn. That very afternoon, Harry had attended the funeral of a man he had once believed to be his enemy.
But Severus Snape had been buried a hero, in large part because Harry had testified to the many sacrifices he had made in order to bring Voldemort down. After the Pensieve—Harry found that he could do no less for Snape. Studying the resting place of Dumbledore, he wondered how many times the Headmaster had almost told Harry the truth of Snape. But Dumbledore had always been a man of his word, no matter the cost, and had kept Snape's secret to the end.
Sighing, Harry placed a hand upon the smooth marble of the tomb. "I guess you weren't quite as crazy as everyone thought."
"He was a great man."
Harry blinked and turned quickly. Standing a few feet behind him was a cloaked and hooded figure, face hidden by the shadows of coming night. He frowned and started to speak, but before he could, the figure reached up to lower their hood.
Raven smiled at him, her silver-white hair cascading down her back, crystal blue eyes glittering with mirth at the shock in his face. "Hello, Harry."
Harry stared at her. "R-Raven? You—you're—?"
"No worries, Harry, I'm no ghost." As though to prove it, she strode forward and took his hand in hers. "I'm very much alive."
"I thought Voldemort had killed you," Harry whispered.
"Briefly, actually," Raven replied with her wry smile. "Rather like you, really. I'm sorry," she told him. "It was necessary."
"I understand," Harry said. "But where have you been all this time?"
"Hiding," Raven said. "Staying under the radar so that Voldemort wouldn't catch wind of me." She toyed with a lock of her silver hair. "He thought I was dead, and it was safer to let him keep assuming that."
"What happened?" he asked, gesturing to her hair.
"A side effect of my final confrontation with Voldemort," Raven replied. "It's part of the reason I wasn't here to help with the war. I don't have the power I used to."
"So no one knew you were alive?"
"Oh, there were a few that knew," she said lightly. She put her hand beside Harry's on the tomb. "Him, for one, and Severus, of course."
Harry focused on the tomb again, his face sober. Raven thought he looked a great deal older than he had the last time she'd seen him. "He was a great man," he agreed quietly, an edge of grief in his voice.
"Yes," Raven said, "and a great friend when I had few. I'm sure he's very proud of you, Harry," she added, smiling sadly. "And so am I." She sighed and flicked a tear away from her cheek. "I heard your speech at the funeral today. I wanted to thank you for it."
"You were there?"
"Of course I was," Raven said with a small laugh. "I had to say goodbye. I'm only sorry I couldn't be here for Albus's."
"You were close to Snape," Harry said, blinking at her in sudden realization.
"He was like a father to me."
"Did you know about my mother?"
Raven glanced at him, amusement breaking through the grief. "Found out about that, did you?" When Harry nodded, she couldn't help but smile. "Yes, I knew about her, and how he felt about her. Practically had to drag it out of him, but—" She was hearted by Harry's quiet laugh. "I'm going to miss him," she murmured. "Both of them."
"You heard about Lupin?" Harry asked softly.
"I did," Raven said with a nod, the grief rising again. "The last of the Marauders. I heard a rumor he got married, had a kid. That true?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "His name's Teddy. His mom, Tonks, she's gone too."
"An orphan," Raven whispered. "You and I can relate to that. When is he now? Does he have someone to care for him?"
"He'll have plenty," Harry pledged. "His grandmother took him in. I'm his godfather," he added, in an incredulous tone.
Raven smiled. "Like Sirius was to you. How does it make you feel?"
"Responsible," Harry said, "and very nervous."
Raven chuckled warmly, but after a moment of contemplative silence, she sobered. "It's been a long, hard year, hasn't it, Harry?"
"Yeah," he agreed quietly.
"But it was worth it?" she asked, her hand going to the mirror she wore.
"More than worth it," Harry told her firmly, his eyes on the tomb they stood beside.
Raven sighed and brought the hood of her cloak back up. "I couldn't agree with you more," she said, flashing that satirical smile of hers once more. "It was good seeing you again, Harry."
"You too," he said. "Thanks for, you know, letting me know you were alive."
She snorted at the irony in his voice and reached out to tweak his nose. "Good to keep you on your toes, Potter," she shot at him as she turned away. She lifted a hand in farewell without looking back. "I'll see you, Harry. Take care."
In Hogsmeade, there was a melancholy air that remained. The village was still weighted down by the heavy grief, but there was a good strong hope beneath it all. Raven walked along the sidewalk of the main street, and she made sure to keep her face hidden beneath her cloak. Halfway down, she paused, her eyes locking onto a relatively new shop sign. After a moment, she covered her mouth to stop herself from laughing out loud.
Blackbird Books, the sign read in neat letters. Beside the words was an outline of a crow standing on top of a short pile of books. Well, that just figures, she thought as she shook her head at the sign. Edging carefully along, she peeked into the store's window.
Inside, the light was warm and welcoming, the walls were lined with shelves upon shelves, all filled with neatly organized books and scrolls. There were a few customers quietly browsing those shelves, taking pleasure in their finds. Across from the window was the counter where the cash register was set. Sitting beside the register was Clara, happily leaning back to chat with Alexis, who stood behind the counter. Raven blinked in slight surprise at her friends, for the year had changed them as well. They were a little leaner, a harder look to their eyes, but the troubling year had not broken them.
No, not in the slightest. Clara had shorn her chestnut locks to hang just above her shoulders, and while Aly had let her hair return to its natural light brown shade, she'd kept the tight curls. Both looked happy and content, and still very much in love with one another. Raven could tell even across the room and through the window.
Raven sighed and pulled the edges of her hood closer around her face as she hurried past the window to the alley beyond. Glancing down the darkened path, she saw a set of wooden stairs that led up to the second level of the building that held the store. Raven blinked at it and then slowly made her way down the alley and up the steps.
When she reached the door at the top, she hesitantly lifted a hand to knock once. And then she waited.
Only a moment later the door opened. Edwin smiled at her, seemingly unsurprised to see her there. With a quick gesture that told her to enter, he stepped back to allow her passage. "I've been waiting," he told her, tugging down the hood of her cloak to see her face. "I felt someone brush my hand at the funeral. I was fairly certain it was you."
"Yes, well." Raven shrugged and glanced around the room. It was rather austere, which surprised her. "I've missed you," she told him. Then she smiled and reached up to touch his face and the little beard he now wore. "I like this," she murmured.
"I figured you would."
They shared a flash of emotion in their eyes. Tobiah had worn a similar beard in his lifetime.
Edwin shook his head at her before leaning down to kiss her. "Do you feel at ease knowing Voldemort dead and gone?"
"You have no idea," Raven said dryly. "I had a near miss with him abroad. But it was my fault, really."
"I've been keeping my ear close to the ground for any news this past year," she told him. "I'd heard a rumor and I couldn't help but follow it. There was a town where Gregorovitch lived, another wandmaker like Ollivander. I was curious…"
"And he saw you there?"
"Only for an instant," Raven assured him. "I managed to mysteriously disappear when he tried to get a closer look. Perhaps he thought I was ghost. It hardly matters now."
"I suppose not," Edwin conceded. "But you have a habit of courting disaster, little bird."
She gave him a sweet, but unconvincing smile and shrugged again. "I hope you won't be angry with me," she said hesitantly. "I was here—at Hogwarts—a few months ago."
Edwin raised an eyebrow. "Visiting Snape?"
"Like I said, I'd been listening to the talk," Raven said. "I wanted to be sure he was alright. He wasn't really, but…in any case, he was glad to see me."
"And why would I be angry with you for that?"
"Because I was so close and didn't come to see you too."
Edwin chuckled and placed a hand under her chin. "Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not angry. I understand." He kissed each cheek and then her lips once more. "So," he said, moving back. He went to the bed and reached for something out of Raven's sight. When he straightened, he was holding a packed bag. He slung it over his shoulder and grinned. "You want to talk to Clara and Aly before we go?"
Raven blinked at him. It was true she did not want to remain in Hogsmeade, but she thought she was going to have to convince Edwin to come away with her. Seeing her stunned look, Edwin's smile widened.
"I know you, little bird," he said gently. "I've already written the girls a note. I figure we can send them a letter once we're settled."
"How long have you been packed?" Raven asked, crossing her arms.
"A couple of days," he replied evenly. "I knew you'd come back to say goodbye to him."
Raven waited a beat. "You sure about this?" she asked him.
"Of course," he said.
"Then let's go."
Edwin, still grinning, beat her to the door and opened it, gesturing for her to exit first. "Time to fly, little bird."
And so they did.
Little bird, little bird, why do you smile?
I've found love and it has made life worthwhile
Little bird, little bird, what do you dream?
My dreams are as endless as the sky, it seems
And so, little bird, little bird, what will you do?
Spread my wings and see if they're true
Little bird, little bird, thy wings doth shine bright
Then take my hand and my heart and we two shall take flight