Disclaimer - I do not own it. If I did, I'd be able to afford to go to college...
A/N- It's been SIX YEARS since I first started this story. How insane is that?! I'm sorry for all of the waiting, but at the same time, I feel so happy to see that those who started reading this when it was first posted were still following it. I hope you've enjoyed it and I hope that this last chapter is a closure for many of you. It's not what I had originally planned, but once I started it, I couldn't stop and when I was done it felt right. Anything else I had planned wouldn't have fit into this somehow.
Again, thank you all for sticking with me on this. You guys are awesome!
A big thank you to my beta, nargles lurk in the mistletoe for working her magic on this!
The hot sun stung against the exposed neck of the man as he tried to make it to his destination as quickly as possible. He marveled at how suddenly the weather had changed from the cool cloudy morning he had awoken to a mere three hours ago. He suppose that it was just Mother Nature letting them know that soon the harsh summer weather would be upon them. But complaining wasn't something he was going to waste his time doing, as he knew that even if the whole bloody country was flooding, there was nothing that would stop him from completing his task. Besides, it was the least he could do after everything that had happened. He had promised, and he always kept his promises. His godmother said that in that he was very much like his father.
He still couldn't believe it had been five years since his passing. The cancer had spread too quickly for even magic to contain it. His only consolation was that he had tried everything in his power to make it as painless for him as possible. He recalled being one of the few who hadn't been mourning during the funeral. Yes, it was sad, but it had almost killed him to watch his father suffer so much. To watch a man who had once stood tall and proud be reduced to such a fragile human being had been heart wrenching. At least now he knew that wherever he was, pain was not with him.
Upon reaching his first destination, he took the time to read the headstone:
Augustus Joseph Pye
Born: April 22nd, 1978
Died: May 3rd, 1998
Twenty-eight years had passed since the man who had saved his father's life had died. He recalled, as a young boy, asking his father to tell him of that day- the day after the Battle of Hogwarts, the day after the Second Wizarding War had officially ended. There was always a haunted look in his father's eyes as he recalled that day. So much had happened that he couldn't remember all of it and would tell him that as soon as he started Hogwarts, he could ask the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor all the questions he wanted. Of course the professor could answer his questions;he was the Boy-Who-Lived, after all. Or as his father would sometimes say, the Boy-Who-Lived-To-Cause-More-Trouble-Than-He-Was-Worth.
His godmother would sometimes tell him of that time, but even she didn't know everything, no matter how many times his father had called her a know-it-all. He knew his father hadn't said any of that in ill will, at least not after the war. He owed the Golden Trio too much to not respect them. Hermione Granger wouldn't be his godmother if his father had truly disliked her.
Stories of Healer Pye were few unfortunately, but even that didn't stop him from admiring the man when he was first told the story by his grandfather. Healer Pye was the reason why he was now about to start his first year at St. Mungo's. His father had been the reason why he had studied to become a potions Master first.
Saying a quick prayer for the man he never knew but looked up to, he set about cleaning the area around the tombstone. His friends didn't understand why he did this. They would tell him that the old man wouldn't know if he kept his word or not. They would never understand, and he really didn't want to try to make them. As his father would say, they were just a bunch of dunderheads. They wouldn't understand what promising to do this for his grandfather meant to him.
He had loved his grandfather and was extremely happy that his father had given the man a second chance. He recalled how his grandfather would tell him that the day he had been born had been one of the happiest days of his life, fourth to his son finally forgiving him for the hellish childhood he had bestowed upon him. As soon as he was able to walk and talk, his grandfather, along with his father and Harry Potter,had taken him to visit the resting place of Healer Pye. His mother hadn't approved, but couldn't find a plausible reason to forbid the men from taking him there. And just as he was now, cleaning the grave, he had done the same with his grandfather, father, and Uncle Harry.
It had become a tradition. When his grandfather had fallen ill nine years ago due to kidney failure, he had promised that he would continue the tradition with his father and Harry. He recalled that shortly after that his grandfather had passed away, and on the first year visiting Healer Pye's grave after Tobias' death, they had found Pye's mother waiting for them at the gravesite. She had thought for years that the people who took care of the cemetery were the ones who had cleaned her son's grave on the day of his burial, until they had told her that they had nothing to do with it. Frazzled by who could be doing such a kind thing, she was shocked, but probably not so surprised to find out that the man whom her son had saved was the one behind the tending of the grave. As a fourteen-year-old, he recalled how awkward he had felt as Ms. Pye gushed about how sweet and caring he was for helping his father and uncle (somehow through the whole thing, she never took notice of the fact that Harry Potter was his uncle) to tend to her son's grave each year.
Ms. Pye had passed away just last summer. He had attended the service along with his godmother and uncle. Ms. Pye was cremated and her ashes were scattered over her beloved Rome.
There was no one now to tend to Healer Pye's grave. He didn't mind doing it;he knew that even if he hadn't made that promise to his grandfather, he would still be there. It was a time for him to think about his life. To wonder what life would be like if Augustus Pye was still alive. Would he be head of the Dai Llewellyn ward at St. Mungo's? Or would he be a regular Healer, enjoying his work and doing his best to help those who needed it? He liked to think that at the very least, Healer Pye would be happy.
With a satisfied smile, he looked back and admired his work. The stone was clean, the leaves and other trash were gone from the area, and a bouquet of flowers lay on top of the grave.
It was all he ever said. He could never bring himself to say anything else. To him, thanking the fallen Healer meant more than anyone, besides his family, would ever know.
After another moment of silence, he stood and made his way back towards the main road. He never Apparated or used magic inside graveyards. There was no real reason behind him doing things the Muggle way, except that his father had always said that magic made people lazy and that there was nothing wrong with using some elbow grease every once in a while. He agreed with that one hundred percent.
Once outside the gates to the graveyard, he took one last look at the area before turning on the spot and Apparating to his hometown.
Instead of landing out in the backyard of his mother's home, he found himself looking at a different pair of gates that lead into yet another graveyard. His mother still found it hard to make her way there. She had loved his father so much and felt,like all wives do, that he had been taken from them much too soon. His death had been hard on her, on all of them really, but for a while they had all feared that she would follow her husband beyond the Veil. She hadn't, yet that fear he had felt the first couple of months after his father's passing would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Severus Tobias Snape
Born: January 9th, 1960
Died: August 4th, 2022
Beloved son, husband, father, and friend.
"I thought I'd find you here, Andy."
He turned around to find a man with shaggy dark hair, glasses, and a lightning bolt scar walking up behind him.
"Uncle Harry, how many times do I have to tell you, it's Andrew. No one is going to take a Healer seriously if everyone calls him Andy!"
Uncle Harry chuckled, and as he stood in front of the young man who resembled his father so much, he draped an arm across his surrogate nephew and looked at the grave of the bravest man he ever knew.
For a while neither man spoke, each lost in his thoughts and memories of Severus Snape.
"Mum says I look just like dad did at my age."
With a nod of his head Harry said, "Yes, but there are also some notable differences between you and your dad at this age."
"You're happy," Harry said bluntly. "I know I was just a toddler when he was your age, but ask anyone who knew him at that time and they'll tell you the same. He wasn't happy until the day he met your mum and had you."
Andrew didn't know what to say. Whenever something from his dad's past came up, things that happened before his parents married were still hard for him to listen to.
"You paid a visit to Augustus." It wasn't a question. There were three places his family knew to check if they wanted to talk to him: St. Mungo's, the library, or his lab at home. If they couldn't find him there, he was most likely visiting his two biggest role models.
"The last storm that blew past there left a lot of debris," Andy said as a form of explanation; excuses really.
"He would be proud, you know. Both him and your grandfather."
There was a lump in his throat at this statement,and all he could do was smile and nod. That's what made it all the harder, that they couldn't be there with them. His Aunt Ginny would say that even if they're not physically with him, they would always be with him in his heart.
Taking a deep breath, he said suddenly, "Tell me again about that day."
He knew he didn't have to specify what day he was talking about. It was the story he would always ask for, even if it gave him nightmares, even though his mother didn't approve of Tobias telling him about it.
For a couple of minutes Harry was quiet, thinking back to that day with a haunted look in his eyes. Then, in a low voice, he retold the story of how he defeated Voldemort, the friends he lost and the lives he was able to save. And when he came to the part about the young Healer that found Harry after he had lashed out on Molly Weasley, Andy seemed to stand a little taller and paid closer attention to the story. It didn't matter how many times he'd heard it, the importance of that day would never be lost to him.
He always did find it a bit amusing at how everything had ended, much to his godmother's chagrin.
"Once Lestrange died, the wards around the house fell and Kingsley was able to get help," said Harry, his voice somewhat monotone at the end of the story.
"Mum says Kingsley was a fool for letting you go in on your own." Turning to look at Harry he continued, "She said that the smart thing would have been for him to knock out the doctor and go in himself, instead sending a teenage boy to risk his life."
"Your mum would say that," Harry said with a chuckle. "Hell, your dad said the same thing too once he was released from St. Mungo's. And don't even make me remember what your grandfather said to Kings; that still makes me blush even to this day!"
The light blush that dusted Harry's cheeks made Andy laugh. For a man in his mid-forties and renowned Auror, it was still too easy to embarrass Harry.
"Did it surprise you when dad married a Muggle?"
Harry was thrown off by the question. It was one that the curious Andy had never asked any of them. "Honestly," he said, "no, not really. He loved her too much for him to care what anyone thought."
Andy knew that to be true. His father might have been cold and cruel to those outside his family, but behind closed doors, he had been a kind and affectionate husband and father. He recalled as a first year at Hogwarts asking his father if he would be proud of him if he became a Potions Master. His father had responded by saying that as long as it was something he loved and chose because it was what he wanted to do and not what his friends wanted him to do, that he would always be proud of his son.
"What did surprise me was him returning home. Back to a place that held so many bad memories for him," said Harry.
"There were some good ones though," Andy put in. "He made his first friend here. Maybe he wanted a second chance to make new and better memories once he and grandpa had made amends. He met mum, got married, had me, made more friends. He finally got the life he had always wanted, even if it was short lived."
With a small smile Harry said, "You're right, Andy. Mission accomplished."
"I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death…"