To listen to the song:

http:// www. youtube. com/watch?v=BXqop7ZsAMo


It seemed as though it would never quit raining.

Spring in the Scottish Highlands around his castle home was not the season full of sunshine, green rolling fields, and bird songs of hope that so many imagined it to be.

One foot in front of the other, he plodded through the rain, the silvery shower a shroud around him, hiding him more effectively than he ever could alone.

Perhaps that was why he didn't mind it so much.

Pausing, he took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of damp, warm earth. The musk of foliage in early blossom. The tang of the once sun soaked and now rain drenched stones that marked his path around the grounds.

Whether small or large, the drops of water were no match for the thick woolen armor he wore, his tightly woven black jacket underneath the heavy cloak more than enough to keep him dry. The cold would seep through before the rain, although after so many years in the bowels of the castle, the cold didn't bother him anymore.

Or at least that's what he told himself.

One foot again in front of the other, he resumed his circuit. It was the same path most nights. Around the greenhouses, past Hagrid's hut. He would skirt the Forbidden Forest and the lake, then around the castle, passing the Astronomy tower and the tower of Gryffindor.

And every night it was the same. High above him, there would be one lit window. The same window, every evening. It would contain three candles, burning brightly against the depths of the night, chasing away the dark.


He was fascinated by the candles.

He noticed them for the first time nearly two years ago. It was only one then, and in a different window. One night, he was following the path- his path, as he had walked it for twenty years or more – after a particularly trying session with Potter. The boy could not shed the genes of his father. He would not able to control his emotions enough to learn the subtle and exact art of Occlumency.

He had failed Harry, and thus had failed her.

His mind was quick to follow such well worn trails in his mind, and was spiraling deeper down until there was a sudden flick of light that caught his attention. Looking up, he saw the solitary candle, meters and meters above him. He stopped to watch, wondering if he would see its creator, but he never did.

Shortly, he resumed his walk, and although he tried his damnedest to achieve his previous level of melancholy, the mood was broken.

Ever since that night, he would notice the candle.

After that first summer, on his first night back in his rightful home and not the one he was forced to occupy during the summer months – perhaps he and Potter had more in common than he would acknowledge – he was surprised to see his candle hadn't just switched windows.

It had gained a companion.

Steadfastly, he watched as the two weathered the whole year. Never once did they fail. Every night he had had enough of the constant hum of activity in the castle, every night he returned from performing for one master or the other, they were there.

Even on that night. The night of Dumbledore's death. It was odd, the things that you remember in the stress of battle. So much was a blur. He could barely remember who was present, or the words he had yelled at Potter in an attempt to penetrate his mind one last time, to give him an edge over what was to come.

But he could clearly recall the word 'coward' falling from the lips of James' son. He could remember as he lost focus, caught up in the years, the generations, of anger as it welled inside his chest, the fury threatening to overtake him. And as he looked over the shoulder of the younger man – for a man was surely what he was becoming – he saw them.

The twin beacons slammed his mind back to the earth with a shatter. "Don't call me coward!" he managed to retort before escaping from the winged beast of Hagrid's into the forest to continue the duplicitous bidding of the Dark Lord.

Suffice it to say, he was surprised when once again, August found him at Hogwarts. But not as Potions professor this time, or even Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Now he was Headmaster.

That first night, after the feast, he should have gone up to his office. Albus's office. He should have gone over the upcoming schedule and the roster of students. He should have been conversing with the portraits of his predecessors, determining the best and most subtle ways of keeping the students as safe as he could, and which were in the most danger of falling to the ways of the Dark.

He took a walk.

That night, in the clear and shining moonlight, he was startled to see his candles were still there.

Once again, they had moved a window.

Once again, they had gained a companion.

Three candles were now blazing from a room almost at the top of the tower, the middle one slightly taller than the others.

It was nearly dawn when he stood up from the bench where he had been watching the lowering flames keep vigil over the slumbering castle and its occupants. Though he knew not the reason for their existence, watching them, observing them, imagining the dance and the flicker of the light on the walls inside the room they protected, gave him enough peace of mind to organize his thoughts. Though he had not slept, he felt much more rested than on the nights in which he had, and he was ready to face his first full day as the replacement for Albus Dumbledore.


Now, it was spring. The rain had come down for probably a full week, if not more. However, it was not enough to suspend his evening solitude. In fact, it increased the temptation.

He imagined, on occasion, when he was in a more capriciously sullen mood, that he could feel the rain through his many layers of clothing. That the cool droplets of water kissed his skin, rolled down his bare arms, torso and back, cleansing him in a way he had never felt. Washing him clean, inside and out, until the only darkness left clinging to him was the damp strings of hair clinging to his forehead.

On other occasions, he was grateful for the blanket of sound and sight. On nights like tonight, he could only hear the rain. He could only see the rain. He could only feel the rain. It became his method of mediation, and the irony did not escape him that the one thing that repelled most from venturing outdoors was the one thing that called him the most. Was it surprising that he was most comfortable in places and conditions where others would not be?

No. In the rain, he was guaranteed his solace like nowhere else on the grounds. And even on the nights of the strongest downpour, he could still see the light from the high Gryffindor room, as the candles shown down like three fiery seraphim, their flames kindling in him the fire he would need to survive another day.

The shock was apparent on his face when he heard footsteps shuffle along the path toward him. His first instinct was to hide, to dive into the bushes and observe the person who disturbed his isolation. But something in the shuffle made him pause and hold his place. Something told him those footsteps knew he was here, and were seeking him.

Slowly out of the mist came the dark green robes of Minerva McGonagall.

Theirs had been a strange relationship. They had gone from exasperating student and strict professor, to moody young teacher and haughty colleague, to quietly accepting acquaintances working in the Order of the Phoenix, to traitorous Headmaster and aggrieved instructor. Minerva had not spoken to him once unless it was unavoidable for the first four months he occupied the highest office, and it pained him more than he would admit. It wasn't until the bastards he had been forced to employ left the castle over Christmas that he was able to speak to her freely. Even then, he almost had to put her in a Body Bind to get her to listen. He was afraid she would draw her wand, because he wasn't sure what the outcome would be. Minerva could be a fierce lioness when cornered.

Once she fully understood his position, she had cried for nearly an hour. She attempted time and time again to apologize. She was merely told he would probably have done the same, and not to dwell on it. In truth, he was more grateful than he could say to know he had an ally within the castle walls.

As her feet brought her closer to where he stood, gaze resting upon the familiar lit spot, arms behind his back, he heard her speak through the drone of the rain.


He did not turn to face her.

Slowly, she brought herself to him and mirrored his position. They stood like that for a time, sharing in the communal silence, before she broke it.

"You should go up there some night."

"I beg your pardon?" he asked, never once turning his head, but letting his features register his confusion nonetheless.

"To her room. I think you know where they come from, even if you haven't admitted it. You'd be interested in hearing the origins of those candles. Go up there one night. You'll see."

Minerva slowly walked away, continuing down the path, leaving a very confused and very curious Severus Snape behind her.


More than a week had passed since the night Minerva spoke with him. Where he used to go for one of his walks perhaps once a week, he found they were rapidly increasing. He was able to stave off for three days at first. Then only two had passed. Now, he had been out each of the last three nights, staring at the window, feeling strangely like Cyrano de Bergerac, waiting to aid in Christian's wooing of a lady.

Tonight, however, found him on no path. Instead, he was outside her door.

It had taken time to find the correct location. He had slowly circled up and up and up through the tower as stealthily as he could. Denial had kept him from heading straight to the proper door. It was ludicrous that he had been watching through the window, her window, more evenings than he cared to remember over the last two years.

But ludicrous it was, for as he reached the top of the tower, where the seventh year girls had their bedrooms, her voice could be heard through the creak in the door.

"I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses. Nor that you might never need regret, nor that you should never feel pain."

The soft voice of Hermione Granger was as clear as the flame of left candle she slowly lit, reveling herself to him. She sat kneeling on the floor, in her Muggle night shorts and t-shirt, bushy hair an illuminated halo. She looked like a modern Madonna. This appeared to be a final step before she was ready for bed.

"No, this is not my wish for you. My wish for you is that you might be brave in times of trial, when other's lay crosses upon your shoulders. When mountains must be climbed and chasms crossed, when hope scarce shines through. That every gift God gave you might grow along with you, and that you give the gift of joy to all who care for you.

"That you might always have a friend who is worth that name. Whom you can trust. And I hope will be, in times of sadness, who will defy the storms of life by your side."

She lit the other two candles, and slowly stood, stretching her slender legs. "Goodnight, Harry," she said as she looked up at the stars before sliding underneath the covers of her bed.

She never saw the shadow move, nor did she hear a sound as it passed over her door like the frame was brushed in lamb's blood.


That night found him tooling away in his small private lab. Old habits died hard, and he never minded the act of brewing potions. It was knowing his presence in the classroom would be better served in other subjects that made him seem so vehement.

As he brewed – a burn-healing paste, protection from the seraph? – he couldn't keep his mind off the girl.

Why had Minerva sent him up there? Why did she think he would be interested to hear that Granger whispered words for Potter in her nightly devotions? What possible intrigue could it hold for him to know what she wished for the boy?

The more he ruminated over what he had heard that evening, the more embittered he became. It was hard to believe this was some foul trick of Minerva's, to make him hear the soft pleas of a woman for the man she cared for, but not so hard it was impossible. To know that wherever there was a Potter, there was an intelligent, strong willed, and beautiful Gryffindor woman following him to the ends of the Earth was not news to him. However, he could come up with no reason that Minerva would intentionally bring this to mind. Perhaps there was something else he was supposed to hear.

There were, of course, three candles.


The second night, he arrived earlier, knowing – and admitting – where his destination was. He could hear her as she softly hummed to herself, brushing her hair as she readied herself for the night. Shortly, however, he watched her select three white tapers from her nightstand drawer, and place them in their holders in her windowsill.

Kneeling once again before her makeshift alter, she began to speak.

"Let the rain come and wash away the ancient grudges,

the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors. Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven.


He sat back with his breath held, worried that even just his exhalation would break the spell woven into the room and alert her to his presence.

Who was this prayer for? For whom did she light this candle?

She lingered tonight after she lit the other two candles, resting her head in her palms and her elbows on the sill. Perhaps it was because this was the first clear night out of so many that she felt the need to watch the stars rise and fall and race across the sky before finally standing. In front of the window, with her arms crossed in front of her as if to ward off the chill, she asked the stars, "Please watch over the Order of the Phoenix."

Then as she had the night before, she headed straight for her bed and slid beneath the covers.


So it was she who was the seraph, believing she had a direct line to God, or the stars, or whichever deity to which she prayed, if there was one at all. She was the being of fire and light that had looked down from her heavenly perch, lighting his path for the last two years. She who was raining down her prayers and blessings in a fervent hope for peace.

And while he was, in fact, a member of the Order, he still did not think this was the reason Minerva had called him forth.

He knew the reason must lie in the third candle.


The third night, he was settled in front of her door almost before she had even arrived from her nightly bath. He found that sudden departure from his nightly exercise left him restless and without occupation in the evenings, thus he had nothing to keep him from going to her so soon.

Or at least that's what he told himself.


Hermione felt something different about this evening. Something strange lingered in the air, as though she wasn't alone. Glancing over her shoulder but seeing nothing, she shrugged it off and continued with her nightly routine.

Three new white candles were placed ramrod straight into the small brass holders her mother had supplied when Hermione had asked. She wondered if her mum had ever questioned why each year, it seemed, her daughter needed one more candle holder.

Hopefully, thought Hermione, next year she would need zero instead of four.

She lit the first candle, and as she did every night, she tuned her mind into the person for whom it was dedicated. The candle on the left was for Harry. Poor Harry, who had grown up so alone, only to find he was one of the central figures in the fight for the wizarding world. The candle on the right was for the Order of the Phoenix, whom Hermione was officially a part of, along with Harry and Ron. Everyone who had dedicated their lives to the cause needed to be bolstered in any way, and this was why she had her nightly devotions. She didn't know if anyone was listening, but it helped to renew her personal vow to assist in any way she could. If it was helping keep Harry focused, Ron calm, the fifth years from mutiny or researching horcruxes, she would help. And every night, she would set aside a few minutes to reflect on who she was helping, and why to reinforce her resolve. Each one needed security, luck and strength to make it through the days until Voldemort was defeated.

For he would be defeated. In this, Hermione would not allow any doubt.

And thus brought her to the third candle.

With the small flame rising just a little higher than the others, she began to sing alone.

"I pray you'll be our eyes and watch us where we go. And help us to be wise in times when we don't know. Let this be our prayer as we go our way. Lead us to a place, guide us with your grace to a place where we'll be safe."

Did he know? Did her headmaster know how much she watched him? Watched him as he gazed through the Great Hall each morning and each evening, his piercing glaze searching for any indication of revolt amongst the staff and students. For any indicator that a student might be leaning towards the path of Voldemort. For any sign that one of his colleagues might be being too heavy handed with the children, and needed a well placed reminder.

He could never be brazen, but he was, as ever, the Slytherin. As with his duel with Harry, his wisdom and guidance were evident for those who chose to seek it.

"La luce che to dai. I pray we'll find your light. Nel cuore resterò. And hold it in our hearts. A ricordarchi che. When stars go out each night. L'eterna stella sei nella mia preghiera. Let this be our prayer when shadows fill our day. Lead us to a place. Guide us with your grace. Give us faith so we'll be safe."

And she did. She did pray that the people around her would find his light, and that he was part of the Light. That when times became difficult, for they could only get worse, that they would remember who their allies were.

For surely he had been living in darkness that she had never known. And if he had survived such unknown horrors, she could survive another day and rejoice that she had only tormenting from the Carrows to fear.

"Sognamo un mondo senza più violenza. Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza. Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino simbolo di pace e di fraternità.

"La forza che ci dai. We ask that life be kind. E'il desiderio che. And watch us from above. Ognuno trovi amore. We hope each soul will find. Intorno e dentro a sé. Another soul to love."

Only the frequent repetition made her Italian flawless. And only her letter to her uncle, the band instructor, made the duet a solo. But since she had first heard the lyrics of the song, she could only think of one man.

For as the Italian suggested, she did dream of a world with no more violence. A world of justice and hope. Hermione did pray that each of them would find someone to love, and to be loved by in return. That they would all know the true bonds of friendship as she did with Ron and Harry.

She only feared that the man in question, her lugubrious and mercurial professor, had had and would have none of these things.

For even she could see that his chances of survival were slimmer than any of theirs.

"Let this be our prayer. Just like every child…Just like every child needs to find a place. Guide us with your grace. Give us faith so we'll be safe. E la fede che hai acceso in noi sento che ci salver."

Sento che ci salver, indeed. She did feel that he would save them. Hermione hoped that it would be by opening their eyes to the truth, and teaching them that which they would need to know to survive a battle against the dark which he knew so well.

She hoped it would not be by sacrificing his life.

Hermione always held on to hope.

She leaned forward and lit the bracketing candles, stopping to give the middle one a soft caress with her finger. With a soft sigh, she stretched her limbs.

"Good night, Severus, and peace be with you," she whispered out her window, letting her words hang on the soft tapestry of stars.

Hermione turned to walk to her bed, before looking over her shoulder. "As am I," she gently added before going to seek slumber.


He returned to his walks. Around the greenhouses, past Hagrid's hut. He would skirt the Forbidden Forest and the lake, then around the castle, passing the Astronomy tower and the tower of Gryffindor.

And every night it was the same. High above him, there would be one lit window. The same window, every evening. It would contain three candles, burning brightly against the depths of the night, chasing away the dark.

Though once in a while, when it was the thrice night, especially on those that rained, he would stay inside his fortress, and wind his way up, and up, and up around the tower, seating himself outside her door, to assure himself that it was real.

That there was someone who understood. Someone who didn't need an explanation. Someone who cared enough to make him her candle. Her center candle.

And on the stormy night the Dark Lord fell, the night Potter was victorious, there was only one thing on his mind. One person rang through him like the bells of a cathedral, and her hair was not red, and her eyes were not green.

As he found her in the field, his fiery seraph soaked to the bone and catching her breath, he barely registered the surprise in her eyes as he came forward and embraced her. After only the slightest hesitation, she embraced him in return.

It seemed as though it would never quit raining.

Hermione held him close for as long as he needed, never questioning the fierce clutch of his arms, the rapid beating of his heart, or the silence that surrounded them in the roar of the rain.

Perhaps that was why he didn't mind it so much.


For Harry, an Irish blessing.

For the Order, A prayer for the world - Rabbi Harold Kushner

For Severus, The Prayer, sung by Charlotte Church.


The light that you give us
Will stay in our hearts
Reminding us
That in my prayer
You are an everlasting star

We dream of a world with no more violence
A world of justice and hope
Grasp your neighbors hand
As a symbol of peace and brotherhood.

The strength that you give us
Is the wish
That everyone may find love
In and around himself

And the faith that
You've lit inside us
I feel will save us