summary: It has been fifteen years since the fall of Voldemort, and the Snape family meets once again at Hogwarts.
beta: Apple Blossom
A/N: As this story is now coming to an end, it is time to say 'Thank You' to a couple of people.
Thank you, Apple Blossom, for being such a thorough beta reader. I hope we will be working together for a long time to come.
Thank you, star_girl, for looking over my chapters and helping me out when I was stuck.
Thank you, Memory, for your motherly advice.
Thank you, Kyria of Delphi, for the lovely spell Morgaine used to protect Demeter and call for Severus.
Thank you, Mugglechief, for encouraging me to write this story. I learnt a lot from it.
And thank you, faithful readers and reviewers, for sticking with me and the story through forty chapters. Hopefully, I'll soon have something new for you.
Chapter XL: Where They Ought to Be
Leaning with her back against the wall, Morgaine let her eyes wander through the room. The moonlight that fell through the window illuminated the room just about enough for her to make out the outlines of the furniture around her. She couldn't see how shabby it was, or how dusty. Neither could she see the dark stain on the wooden floor. But she didn't need to. She had come to the Shrieking Shack often enough to know how everything looked, and when she closed her eyes, she could see everything even more clearly. She could even see the man whose blood had created the stain on the floor.
Fifteen years it had been. Fifteen years ago to the day, the Dark Lord had set his snake on the man whom so many had believed had been the most loyal of Voldemort's followers. Fifteen years ago, Severus had died on this dusty floor, his only company the boy he had protected and hated for seven long years. And then that boy had gone to save the Wizarding world, and Severus had been left behind.
Morgaine sighed. No matter how many times Severus had told her that he had not been alone in the moment of his death, that he had seen her eyes and heard her voice, she still wished that she could have been by his side to hold his hand and tell him that he did not need to be afraid. Maybe, if she had been there and said goodbye, he would have been able to move on.
Would have. Should have. Didn't.
Morgaine rubbed her aching neck and shook her head at herself. She shouldn't dwell on those thoughts. Severus had long since accepted that he was still tied to this world, to her, and he had gladly accepted his fate. He didn't mind waiting for her. So why could she not follow his example and accept his fate as well, and hers with it?
Most of the time, she did. She had learnt to live with Severus the ghost, and many times over the last couple of years, she had admitted to herself that she was more than grateful for what they had. Of course, she sometimes missed his embrace and wished she would be able to find something else than empty sheets beside her when she awoke in the middle of the night. But when she felt his mind brush hers, when she heard him whisper to her although they were in different parts of the castle, then she was happy. He was truly hers, and she was his. They were linked forever.
But once a year, during the night that marked the battle of Hogwarts and the death of Severus Snape, Morgaine would allow herself to mourn him. She would sneak out of the castle shortly before midnight, enter the Shrieking Shack and keep vigil in the room that was inhabited by nothing more than ghosts and memories. Every year so far, she had crouched on the floor where his body had once lain and had cried bitter tears that had fallen onto the bloodstained floor. But this year, she did not cry. This year, she felt calm. And somehow she knew that she would never return to the Shrieking Shack again.
She left at sunrise, gratefully breathing in the clean morning air. She didn't feel tired, and although she knew that she had a long day ahead of her, she did not even consider going to bed. Instead, her feet carried her to the same place they had carried her fifteen years ago.
Carefully, she parted the grass that covered the slab of black granite at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Some years ago, she had played with the thought of raising a proper headstone or at least cast a spell that would keep the weeds from covering the inscription on the granite. But she hadn't done either. It seemed appropriate that no one knew where Severus Snape lay buried. He, if anyone, deserved to rest in peace.
'You have been missed, Morgaine of the Lake.'
Morgaine looked back over her shoulder. The ghost of the man she had buried fifteen years ago was barely visible in the light of the morning sun, but it didn't matter to her. When she looked at him, she never saw the ghost anyway. She saw billowing black robes, raven black hair and obsidian eyes.
'It still looks the same in there,' she said quietly, nodding in the direction of Hogsmeade and the Shrieking Shack. 'But the ghosts are gone. I didn't cry tonight.'
Severus nodded. He knew. Just as well as he knew about the tears Morgaine had shed in the Shrieking Shack over the years. Some years, he had feared that she would never stop crying, that her pain would one day rip her apart. And his inability to console her had almost done the same to him.
He had watched her leave the castle last night, and as so often before, he had followed her and waited outside the Shack. He wanted to be close to her in case she needed him, but at the same time, he did not want to intrude. He knew that Morgaine needed that night. He knew that it was the night when she fought her demons. But last night, the demons had not come. Morgaine had been calm all night, and when she had left the Shack at sunrise, she had held her head high.
Was it over now, Severus wondered. After all those years, had Morgaine finally found peace? She, if anyone, truly deserved it. For far too long, she had put her own needs aside to care for others, for him, for their child. Only over the last couple of years, when Demeter had left Hogwarts and started a life of her own, had Morgaine allowed herself to relax. And only then had she realised how tired she was.
'Come on now, beloved,' he said and gently brushed Morgaine's cheek with his ghostly hand. 'Come down to the dungeons with me. You need to rest.'
It was midday when Severus looked at his daughter, smiling. She had arrived at Hogwarts shortly before lunch along with many others who had come to honour the fallen and celebrate the defeat of Voldemort. But while everyone else had had gone to lunch in the Great Hall, Demeter had come straight down to the dungeons, just as she had done every year since she had left the school. Now she was sitting in the armchair by the fire with her baby on her knee, showing the boy his grandfather's potion bottles.
The boy was the spitting image of his mother, with raven black hair and heavenly blue eyes. But thankfully, Severus thought, he had not inherited the Snape nose. That feature, he seemed to have inherited from his father. The boy's name was Severus Aleksandr. Severus Aleksandr Snape, since Demeter had not taken her husband's last name when they had married two years ago. Melvin had not objected. He understood how proud his wife was to be the daughter of Severus Snape. And Riverbed, he had said, was too common a name anyway.
His little girl had grown up, Severus concluded once again. She was a mother now and a wife, and she was quickly becoming one of the most skilled and popular Trainee Healers at St. Mungo's. She had a knack for closing wounds and refused to give up on even the most hopeless cases. Many of her colleagues called her stubborn, but Severus knew that Demeter had a special gift, a gift which she used to do good in the world. And he was endlessly proud of her.
She had given him many reasons to be proud of her over the years. While still at Hogwarts, Demeter had been a diligent student, excelling in Potions, Charms and Herbology. And just as Severus had predicted back in her first year, she had been the youngest student to ever conjure a corporeal Patronus. She had done it in the beginning of her third year, down by the edge of the Black Lake, during one of those extra-curricular Defence lessons. Oh, so stubborn she had been that evening. Professor Siguri had urged her to give it a rest after she had tried for what seemed like a thousand times and produced nothing but a faint vapour. But Demeter had refused and kept trying. When curfew had been approaching, Siguri had gone to fetch Morgaine and found her in the dungeons. And so Severus had gone with her, hoping that together, they might persuade Demeter to go to bed. But Severus and Morgaine arriving at the lake together had had a very different effect. Demeter had beamed at them and raised her wand, and from it, her Patronus had risen.
Everyone, especially her Head of House, had been surprised and, maybe, even a little shocked, that a Gryffindor would conjure a serpent, but to Demeter and her parents, it had not come as a surprise at all. They had known at once what the serpent meant. It was Demeter's true guardian and a link between her and her parents. No other creature could have suited the girl better.
Thankfully, Demeter had never needed to use her Patronus. Peace had settled for good over the Wizarding world, and no Dark forces had ever extended their cold hands towards the daughter of Severus Snape and Morgaine duLac again. It seemed as if the interest for that child had died with Lucius Malfoy.
'Have you seen your mother yet?' Severus asked, slightly amused by Demeter's furtive attempts to make little Severus Aleksandr let go of her hair. The boy was stubborn already, it seemed. A family trait, no doubt.
'Yes,' Demeter replied. 'Up in the Entrance Hall. I think she was trying to persuade the Minister to cut down his speech from four hours to three.'
Severus sneered. Good old Kingsley. After fifteen years of giving speeches, he still had not learnt how to be brief. If anything, his speech seemed to get longer every year. Lately, he had taken to re-telling the whole story about the rise and fall of Voldemort. Severus himself found this more than tedious, but he could see Kingsley's reasons behind it. People needed to hear the whole story. Cold, hard, verifiable facts, as Professor Binns would call it.
'How is Mother?' Demeter suddenly asked, ripping Severus out of his musings. 'She looks pale.'
Severus nodded. 'Your mother did not sleep well last night,' he explained. 'You know that today is a difficult day for her.'
'Yes, I know.'
Finally, Demeter managed to get Severus Aleksandr to let go off her hair. Instead, the little boy promptly took hold of her necklace, the silver-cast Phoenix, which was once more carrying three obsidians in its claws.
'I'll go and keep Mother company,' Demeter announced, not even trying to make the boy let go of her pendant. 'I know she hates listening to those speeches, but she is too duteous to sneak off. One would never think she is a Slytherin.'
At the door, Demeter once more turned to look at her father. 'I assume you won't be coming up to listen to the speeches this year either, am I right?'
Severus shook his head. 'No, I will not,' he confirmed his daughter's suspicion. 'I have fought in that war. I know what happened, and I know how much pain it caused. I do not need to be reminded of any of it.'
But he accompanied Demeter all the way to the entrance hall, where he bid her good day and promised that he would have tea and chocolate ready once she returned to the dungeons after the speeches.
Standing on the top step of the stairs, he let his eyes wander over the grounds. Every year, there seemed to be more people coming, but Severus had noticed a change in generations. Many of those who had fought the Dark Lord weren't coming anymore. Some of them shunned the speeches, very much like himself, others were too old to make the journey to Hogwarts, and others had already passed away. Instead, their children were there now. In some cases even the grandchildren. Time had been flying, indeed.
Fifteen years. To his surprise, Severus caught himself wondering how his life would have turned out, had he survived the war. Would he have stayed at Hogwarts? He had always despised teaching, but still, the castle was the only place he had ever called home. Where else would he have gone?
Iceland, maybe. There, he had spent some of the most peaceful days of his adult life. Had he gone there, he would have seen his daughter grow up. She had been five when he had died, turning on six. Old enough to learn about herbs and fungi, and tall enough to reach up to a cauldron. And maybe, by the age of seven, she would have had a little brother or sister to play with.
Severus frowned. Now, what was that? He wouldn't be getting broody, now would he? On his death day of all days. But maybe, the day of one's death was exactly the right day to reflect upon one's life?
He would have deserved a nice and quiet life after the war, Severus concluded. He might have opened up an Apothecary, grown his own ingredients and just let life take its course without thinking too much about it. He might have bought a little house for himself and his family, somewhere secluded, by the sea perhaps, or up in the mountains. Morgaine would have helped him with his potions, and Demeter would have been home schooled until it was time for her to attend Hogwarts. Surely, they would have been happy.
Not that Severus had been unhappy over the last fifteen years. Certainly, the first years after his death had been dull beyond reason, and he had despised the fact that he had been unable to move on. He did not care to remember how many times he had cursed his fate then. But when Morgaine had returned to Hogwarts, Severus' life – his afterlife – had suddenly become meaningful again. He had made it his task to help Morgaine let go, to dry her tears and make her smile again. It hadn't been easy. And many times, Severus had wondered if him still being around just made everything harder. How he had hated to see the look in Morgaine's eyes, that look of endless longing and bitter despair. It had always cut right into his heart.
When Demeter had stepped into his life, he had been given a new task, the task to love and protect a child whom he had not even known existed. He had been clumsy in the beginning, unable to show the girl how much he cared for her, but she had helped him. She had smiled at him and shown him that she was both brave and stubborn enough to learn what it meant to be the daughter of Severus Snape. And he had learnt what it meant to be a father. Surprisingly enough, it hadn't been half as hard as he had thought that it would be.
Other things had been much harder over those fifteen years: dealing with Morgaine's heritage, for instance. That revelation had come as a shock, claiming anything else would have been a lie. But once the first feelings of revulsion had subsided, Severus had told himself that it didn't matter. He had known Morgaine since she had been a teenager. He knew that she had inherited nothing from her father, except her ability to read minds and talk to snakes. There wasn't a trace of evil in her, and neither was there in Demeter.
Demeter. Severus couldn't help but smile. Of course, the girl, too, had been shocked at first when she had been told that Lord Voldemort had been her grandfather. But soon the stubbornness that she had inherited from both her parents had kicked in, and she had decided to show the world that she was nothing like the man who had happened to sire her mother. She had worked hard, had learnt her Defence textbook by heart and would even have made Hermione Granger pale at the speed with which she had ploughed through all the books about White magic in the library. And the way in which she now took care of her patients showed that she was, indeed, a good witch.
Severus saw them walking through the grounds now, Morgaine and Demeter. It looked as if they had decided not to listen to Kingsley's well-written speech after all. Who could blame them? Certainly, mother and daughter had more important things to talk about, Severus was sure of that. And he also knew that they would come down to the dungeons to see him once they were ready. Just as they always did.
'When are you due, little one?'
'Early January,' Demeter replied, smiling broadly.
'Have you told your father yet?'
Demeter shook her head. 'I thought I'd tell him over tea later today. I'd like you to be there when I break the news.'
Morgaine grinned. 'You wouldn't be scared of his reaction, would you?' she asked.
Demeter vehemently shook her head. 'Of course not. I just thought you might keep him from giving me another lecture about the proper use of contraceptive potions.'
'He didn't mean it that way, you know that. He was just not prepared to become a grandfather. And look at him now. He can't wait for little Severus Aleksandr to start walking so he can teach him how to play Gobstones.'
'He's a good teacher,' Demeter pointed out. 'Melvin still cannot understand why I beat him in eight out of ten games.'
'Why don't you win all of them?'
'Because I like the way Melvin smirks when he wins. You know, Slytherin competitiveness. You guys feel ever so smug when you win.'
Both mother and daughter laughed heartily, and Morgaine crooked her arm into Demeter's, enjoying having her little girl so close and at the same time relying on the strength of her daughter's young body.
'Should we go back?' Demeter asked carefully.
'And endure Kingsley's speech?' Morgaine seemed appalled. 'Have you been Confunded, little one?'
'No, but I thought you might like to sit down.'
Morgaine straightened immediately and looked back towards the edge of the lake where Kingsley was giving his speech, thereby avoiding her daughter's examining gaze. She didn't want Demeter to know just how tired she was. She didn't want her daughter to worry. Not now. Not today.
'We can sit in the grass over there,' she suggested instead. 'There is something I want to show you.'
Once they had had reached the edge of the forest, the sun had disappeared behind the clouds, and Morgaine felt herself shiver as she showed her daughter the slab of black granite. But she did not care. Her arms might be covered with goosebumps, but when she saw Demeter kneel down at her father's grave, Morgaine felt a warmth in her heart which she could not describe with words.
'Never Forgotten,' Demeter whispered, caressing the stone with her fingers. 'You knew you'd never forget him, didn't you? Even before you knew that his ghost was still around.'
Morgaine nodded. Yes, she had known. When she had buried him she had heard Severus whisper to her. But back then, she had thought that she had been imagining things. Now she knew better. He had been there, right by her side.
'Why are you showing me this now, Mother?'
For a second, Morgaine hesitated. She wasn't sure, to be honest. For fifteen years, she had kept this place a secret and had never considered showing it to anyone, not even her daughter. But today, it suddenly seemed important.
'I want you to know where it is, little one,' she said, the words forming themselves and leaving her lips without her really noticing. 'I want you to be able to show your children one day where their grandfather lies buried. And I want you to promise that you'll never forget him either.'
'Of course, I will never forget Father. How could I? I love him a lot.' A frown appeared on Demeter's brow, and she looked intently at her mother. 'And I love you, Mother. Very, very much.'
'And I love you, little one. I always have.'
'You should be in bed, Morgaine,' Severus pointed out. 'You did not sleep last night either. You must be exhausted.'
Morgaine gingerly shook her head. 'I have too many thoughts running through my head to sleep.'
Severus nodded. 'Are you still trying to come up with a plan to keep Demeter from naming her daughter after you?'
Morgaine laughed. 'Morgaine Snape,' she said and shook her head once more. 'The poor child.'
'I think it sounds rather nice,' Severus said and repeated the name. 'Morgaine Snape. I wish you had been able to carry my last name, too.'
Morgaine swallowed drily and carefully put her tea cup onto the little table beside her armchair before looking up at him, and Severus looked back at her, unblinkingly.
'I wish I could have asked for your hand in marriage and be with you forever, Morgaine.'
She smiled wistfully at him. 'What difference would a piece of paper and a ring have made, Severus?' she asked. 'What promise could we have written down that we had not given to each other already?'
'For us, it would not have changed anything,' Severus admitted. 'But I wish the world would have known how much you meant to me, Morgaine.'
'I have never needed the world to know, Severus. And those concerned have always known.'
How he wished that he could embrace her now. How he wished that he could take her into his arms, cover her face with kisses and make love to her until the morning, feeling her body against his and savour the feeling of closeness. Instead, he looked deep into her blue eyes and brushed her mind with the greatest care and tenderness he could muster.
'I wondered today how things might have been,' he told her, 'if I had survived the war. I think we would have been happy.'
'I am happy now as well, Severus. Despite all the heartache and pain, I wouldn't want to miss what we have shared. I wouldn't want to miss what we have now.'
They talked for hours, about what they wished would have happened to them had Severus survived, about Demeter and their grandchildren. The only thing neither of them mentioned was their future.
When the clock struck midnight, Severus rose. 'I am going to give you a potion now, and you will not protest. You need to sleep, Morgaine.'
She nodded, and Severus floated towards the cabinet where he kept his potions. He had come halfway when Morgaine called for him.
He turned to look at her and found himself looking at a scene he had not seen for many years. The fire was burning in the grate, making Morgaine's hair shine in a warm, golden-red tone. Her eyes were sparkling, and she was smiling, just for him.
'I love you, Severus.'
'I love you, too, Morgaine. I love you, too.'
'Take care of yourself, little one. And Melvin, and the babies.'
'I will, Mother.' Demeter sobbed silently and furtively attempted to wipe away her tears.
'Don't be sad, little one,' Morgaine pleaded and carefully dried the tears of her daughter's cheek. 'Everything will be alright. And never forget that I love you, that I always have.'
Demeter shot off from her pillow, her heart hammering in her chest. The dream had been so real that she could still feel her mother's touch on her cheek. But how could that be? Her mother wasn't anywhere close. She was at Hogwarts, and Demeter herself at the Three Broomsticks, where she, Melvin and little Severus Aleksandr were spending the night. Could this dream have been a premonition?
Quickly but silently Demeter slipped out of bed and started pulling on her clothes.
'What's going on, love?' Melvin asked sleepily. He had rolled around in his sleep and reached out for his wife. As he had grabbed nothing but empty sheets, he had awoken. 'Why are you getting dressed?'
'I need to get to Hogwarts,' Demeter replied in a whisper so she wouldn't wake up the child.
'Hogwarts?' Melvin sat up in bed. 'It's in the middle of the night. What could be so important that it can't wait until tomo...'
'I need to be there now,' Demeter interrupted her husband and placed a quick kiss on his lips. 'Tomorrow morning, it will be too late.'
No one at Hogwarts was surprised by her early arrival. Minerva had dispatched an owl ten minutes ago, and now they all assumed that the bird had flown at the speed of light and that Demeter had Apparated to the castle as soon as she had received the message. They had no idea that the owl had not arrived at the Three Broomsticks yet and that it had been Morgaine herself who had called for her daughter.
'It happened very quickly,' Poppy informed Demeter, answering her unasked question. 'Her heart simply stopped beating.'
Demeter nodded wordlessly and looked down at her mother's face. She was pale, but at the same time, Demeter had never seen her so peaceful.
'We'll be in my office, child,' Minerva announced, wiping off her tears and offering Demeter a heartfelt hug. 'In case you need us.'
Again, Demeter nodded but did not say anything. And she barely noticed that the Headmistress and the matron left the room. She didn't even move until the door had fallen shut. Then she raised her head and looked straight at the ghost of her father, who was standing opposite her on the other side of the bed.
'Is it true?' she asked quietly. 'Did it happen quickly? Did she really not suffer?'
The ghost shook his head. 'Your mother could not sleep and came down to the dungeons. She drank tea, and we talked by the fire. At midnight I told her she needed to sleep. I was about to retrieve a Sleeping Draught from the cabinet when I heard her cup shatter on the floor.'
Demeter gave a little sob. 'Is she with you now?' she asked, desperately hoping that he father would say yes. She didn't think that she could bare it if he said no. 'Did Mother find you?'
Slowly, Severus nodded. 'She is right here by my side.'
Demeter blinked furiously and strained her eyes, staring at the spot to where her father had extended his hand, hoping against hope to see her mother once more. But she knew that it was in vain. Her mother would not become a ghost. She had no reasons to. She had no unfinished business, and she had never feared death. In the end, Demeter thought, her mother might even have welcomed it. Therefore, the spot where she knew her mother was standing, remind empty. To Demeter, at least. But she could tell from the loving look in her father's eyes that he was seeing more than she was.
'You will be leaving now, won't you, Father? You promised you'd wait for her, and now ...'
Demeter's voice broke, and she gave in to her tears. She knew that the sole reason for her father not having passed on a long time ago was that he had been waiting for her mother. They were soul mates, destined to spend eternity together. Now that her mother was gone, they would pass on together. But Demeter did not want her father to leave her. Not now. There were still so many questions she had never asked him, still so many things he could tell her. And he was supposed to teach her son how to play Gobstones, just as he had taught her.
'There is no rush,' Severus said softly, and Demeter felt his ghostly hand brush her cheek. It was the first time she felt his touch, and it saddened her to know that it would also be the last time.
'Your mother and I have waited for fifteen years, and now eternity lies ahead of us. This night, I will gladly spend with you, my child.'
For quite some time, they sat in silence, each absorbed in their thoughts. Minerva's owl returned with a reply from Melvin, who asked if Demeter wanted him to come, but she sent him back to bed. As much as she longed for her husband's embrace now, she did not want him to come. This night was all about her and her parents and taking farewell of them.
'People always pointed out that I had had my Mother's eyes,' Demeter suddenly said. 'Will you tell me about them, Father?'
Severus nodded. 'They say that the eyes are a window to a person's soul. In your mother's case, that was more than true, I noticed that early. When she first came to Hogwarts, she would look at me with a curiosity that rivalled any Ravenclaw's. And over time, those eyes started to hold something I had not seen for many, many years.'
His voice trailed off, and Demeter looked up at her father. His head was turned, but he wasn't looking at Morgaine's earthly shell. Instead, his eyes were once more lingering on a spot right beside him, and Demeter knew that he was looking at her mother, right into her eyes.
'Kindness,' Severus started again, talking slowly, as if he were describing what he saw in front of him. 'Warmth and trust. And a smile. The day that smile disappeared, my heart broke.'
Demeter remembered. Or she thought that she remembered. She had been little, and during the first years of her life, she had only seen her mother during the summer holidays. But she remembered the smile in her eyes. Some days, it had outshone the sun. And then it had disappeared.
'When Mother returned to Iceland after the final battle, when she told me that you had fallen, I understood that she was sad. But back then, I did not know just how much she had lost. I did not understand that she missed you so much that it tore her soul apart. She hid it well. She never cried, and she never talked about you. But everyone who looked into her eyes understood that something was terribly wrong.'
Demeter shifted uncomfortably in her chair, not sure whether to go on. What she was about to say was private, between her mother and her.
'Granny often talked about that smile in Mother's eyes, and when that smile disappeared ...' Demeter took a deep breath. If she didn't tell her father now, she would never be able to. 'For some time, I thought Mother was only looking at me that way. For some time, I thought she didn't like me.'
Severus swirled around. 'You mother loved you, Demeter! She would have done anything for you. She chose life for you.'
'I know that now,' Demeter explained quietly. 'But I was little back then. It hurt that Mother didn't smile when she looked at me. Today I understand how much it must have hurt, how difficult it must have been for her to look at me and see you. She missed you so much.'
'I missed her, too.'
With tears once more welling up in her eyes, Demeter looked up at her father. She had known him for almost a decade now, and they had talked about many things. But he had never before mentioned his feelings for Morgaine.
'You must know, Demeter, that your Mother was more to me than just a lover or a friend. For many years, she was my light in the dark. Her unconditional love gave me the strength to fulfil the promise I had given the night the Dark Lord had murdered the Potters. She was my reason to survive.'
He told her a lot that night, about how he had sometimes pushed Morgaine away in order to keep her from harm, and how she had stubbornly waited in the shadows until he had needed her. And Demeter listened, only now truly understanding how much her parents had meant to each other.
Severus stayed until the morning, giving Demeter the time to ask all the questions she had and take farewell. She also had the time to tell him that she loved him. And he told her that he loved her, too.
He disappeared with the first rays of sunlight, and Demeter stayed seated beside her mother's bed, blankly staring at the spot where she had last seen her father's eyes and where she thought that her mother had been standing all night, watching them. To her own surprise, she did not feel sad anymore. Despite having lost both her parents that night, she felt that their happiness outweighed any sadness she could feel. The two people she had loved with all her heart, her mother and her father, were now finally at peace. They were finally together, and no one and nothing would ever stand between them again. They were where they belonged, by each other's side. For eternity.
In loving memory of my dearest friend. He's sorely missed.