Don't own anything and don't make any money.

xx

The only noise he heard was the crunching snow underneath the soles of his black boots and his own, cold breath. The branches of the trees hung low from the weight of the white masses still falling from the sky. He barely noticed it falling on his shoulders, his head, and wetting his coat and his hair. He kept his head down, watched where he was going, focusing on the sound it made when he set foot after foot on the white-blanketed ground. Nobody had walked there before him since it had begun to snow. His footsteps were the only ones marring the white innocence but he daren't look back on them. He daren't see what he had done to the purity.

He breathed deeply, or at least tried to pump his lungs full of cold, cold air, inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. Little puffs of white fog coming from between his clenched jaw, vanishing quickly as he trod through the Forest. His hands were shoved deeply into his pockets, one of them curled tightly around his wand, since, despite the fingerless, woollen gloves, his fingers were cold and clammy from touching the snow earlier.

He ducked when there was a branch hanging too low to walk straight. Apart from the traces he left in the snow, traces that would vanish within the shortest amount of time due to the ever falling snow, he did not want to disturb this peace and the quiet he encountered and craved.

The sky was grey, the sun hidden behind thick layers of clouds. Clouds filled with snow. And the heavens shed their most beautiful tears on him and the trees and shrubs and stones. All darkness existing in his world hidden underneath them, hidden underneath the full presence of light and all colours and despite his unwillingness to disturb this light peace, he knew he was a blemish in his dark, black clothes. The dark boots contrasting with the light ground they stepped upon and it almost felt like a violation of that pure innocence.

His head was as empty as it could be without having to force any thoughts back. And here, here alone in the snow with sleeping trees and hibernating animals as the only beings close, he could let his head, his mind, his heart feel, do, think what they wanted, what he wanted. Here, in the light depths of the otherwise so dark Forest, with the little light filtering through the treetops reflecting on the white blanket of snow, he did not have to fight. Here, he could just walk. Here, nobody could see him, nobody could see the dark blemish mutilating the light and he looked up, suddenly, and saw the branches of the trees, weighed down and he knew those trees did not know light and dark, good and bad.

Everything surrounding him was neither. Everything surrounding just was. A consolation. Those trees, shrubs, stones, rocks, the sleeping seeds down in the earth, waiting for their awakening, they would last. When nothing, nobody else would.

He shook his head to himself. He was here to gather strength, not delve into philosophical profundity. He was here to draw deep breaths, not feeling choked by the insignificance of his very being in the hugeness of the world.

Throwing his head back into his neck, and letting the snowflakes brush his face, wetting his cheeks, he walked on, trying not to think. Slowly, daringly, he opened his mouth and felt the coldness on his tongue, the exceptional taste tickling his palate.

There was a cracking sound and immediately, his wand was at the ready, and he spun around wildly. Maybe it had just been a silent bird, or an animal stepping on a fallen branch.

"It's just me," he suddenly heard a voice and spun around again. There, on a log, on white, cold, deadly blanket of snow sat one of his students. One he had to look out especially. Someone who had to look out for herself. Luna Lovegood. Another bit of light in the Forest. Her hair was almost as light as the snow surrounding it and her purple-chequered cloak the only bit of colour around. It seemed that she had glimpsed at him for only a moment, then had let her head fall back as well, much as he had done, and her mouth was wide open.

"It tastes like nothing else," she said after a moment dreamily and he put his wand away back into his pocket though his fingers remained curled around it. "It's just the typical taste of snow. In my opinion, if peace had a taste, this is what it would be like. Snow."

"Miss Lovegood, go back to the castle. The train will leave early in the morning," he answered slowly, unsure what to make of it, of her, sitting there, or rather, hovering half an inch above the log and the snow. She blinked at him and then smiled a little.

"Did you notice how much darker the castle seems when there's snow outside?" she asked and only now, he noticed that there were tears running down her cheeks, slowly, thickly, streaking her face, yet her breathing remained even and deep.

And he had noticed that the inside of the castle seemed darker, or was darker. So much darkness in it now. And all the night outside. It would probably seem even darker when all the students had left. Darker but less worrying for him.

"Miss Lovegood," he began.

"I just want to say good bye, Professor Snape. I mean Headmaster Snape," she looked at him directly now, her piercing, light blue eyes fixed on his black, dark orbs. "I'm not sure I will ever be coming back."

He nodded barely perceptibly. He too said good bye. To almost everything. In silence. And a moment later, he pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her, let it hang in the air for a second before Luna Lovegood took it, smiling.

"Thank you," she whispered. "And thanks for all the rest," she added and it seemed she knew. Or maybe she was referring to something else.

And he, Severus Snape, only nodded and with a quick charm applied on himself, he hovered next to her, only staring into the white coldness surrounding them, the trees weighed down under the masses of light. He just sat with Luna Lovegood and listened to her breathing and his breathing and the dabbing of his handkerchief against her cheek. And those were the only noises and he could finally draw a deep breath and enjoy the quiet of the Forest and the taste of snow.

xx