Recognise it? It's not mine :) J.K Rowling owns it all...she's lovely but I'm not going to take on her scary lawyers and claim her characters as my own - much as I love them.
Dawn broke in a chorus of blinding light, obliterating all traces of night and banishing the darkness. But still no birds sang and that peaceful lull of morning, that moment when you first wake up and think everything is ok was shattered by the overwhelming truth - Voldemort was gone but many loved ones had fallen along the way.
The Great Hall, the once grand and opulent room was destroyed and as many bodies as shards of glass littered the length of the floor. Harry felt guilt gnaw at the very heart of his being, the guilt that comes with surviving something of such a magnitude, the guilt that this was all his fault. The guilt that he too was not sleeping beside them, dreamless and peaceful as the wizarding world welcomes the dawn of a new era.
Quietly he left them behind, the loved, the loathed, the dead and the living, and made his way to The Forbidden Forest. He allowed his feet to trace a route which felt familiar, if a little uneasy. His mind was so full of thoughts it was empty, void of all things as though it were protecting him from the brutal truth of the previous night's events.
The Forest was by no means a safe place for a walk, nor indeed would anyone consider it the ideal place for a leisurely stroll but alone in the wood, which was lit only sporadically as the light struggled to make it through the trees, offered him an eerie solace. Here the real world felt like a very long way off.
As he continued his journey his foot landed on something small but solid enough to cause a sharp pain to seer on his sole. Moving in order to see what he had stepped on he saw it, what his mind in it's emptiness had seemed determined on finding, glistening as a ray of light hit the spot where it lay.
Picking up the ring he felt temptation rush through him. How many people could he make happy by taking this ring back to the castle and letting them say a final goodbye to their loved ones? He thought most especially of the Weasleys…of Fred. Selfish instinct forced his mind back to his parents. How easy it would be to bring them back again…and Sirius…and Remus. Surely Remus and Tonks deserved to see their son one last time?
But where would it end? Some things in life you cannot go through without being changed, and on this new day, this fresh start, Harry realised he had grown. He thought of Dumbledore's words all those years ago, "To the well-organised mind death is but the next great adventure."
He had always found these words to be most profound but now he felt he understood them - death is not the end. He felt comforted by the words but still he did not drop the ring. There was one last thing he had to do.
Harry turned the ring three times in his hands while allowing his mind to think of only one person.
He kept his head bowed as he did so, listening to a light flutter of wind and rustling and he knew it had worked. There before him, neither ghost nor truly alive, stood Severus Snape.
After a moment Harry slowly and rather hesitantly raised his eyes to meet Snape's once more only to find his face wearing a familiar scowl, his arms folded and a customary feeling of dislike emanating from the almost-but-not-quite-alive being.
"To what do I owe this pleasure, Potter?" he said in his usual drawl.
Harry couldn't quite find the words and he silently wished he'd taken the time to think about what he ought to say before summoning Snape back to earth.
A long silence settled between the two, partly because Harry didn't know what to say and mainly because he felt that words were not quite enough.
"You brought me here for a reason, Potter, so say what you must and then let us both move on. I'm sure neither of us truly wants to be here so make it quick." Even in death he was assertive.
"I wanted to say…"
What did he want to say?
"I wanted to say…I guess I just wanted...to thank you. You …uh… did a lot for me, for all of us and I hate that you…" Harry inhaled deeply, "I hate that the world never got to hear your story from your own mouth."
"I'm sure you can regale everyone with the hilarity of my past."
"No!" said Harry defiantly, "They'll only know what they need to know. At heart you were…you were one of us and the role you played in all of this…without you…I don't know where we'd be right now." Harry bowed his head again not really wanting to look Snape in the eye for too long. That feeling of guilt was creeping its way back through his body and frankly, no matter how grateful he was to Snape, these words were not easy to say to the man he once loathed.
"I don't think I can bear to hear anymore of this drivel Potter. If that's all you have to say then I think it's best that we…"
"I'm not done yet!" Harry cut across him, voice raised. This was certainly the Snape he was used to and in an odd way it made him more at ease. Snape was here on his bidding and he was going to listen.
"I need to say that I'm sorry for always thinking the worst of you. Personally I'd say it's not my fault as you made it so bloody easy!"
Snape made to interrupt, a sneer playing about his mouth, but Harry raised his hands to silence him and said a word that softened every line, every feature on his face. "Lily, my mother…I know that she was your reason behind it all, behind every noble act you've done. Some might say you were selfish, some a hero…personally I don't care what your motives were. We owe a lot to you Snape and I thank you."
"Are you finished now?" he asked but the bite in his tone was gone. He didn't sound quite as bitter and there was a delicate air of civility between the two that neither of them had ever felt in life.
"Almost." Harry stared directly into Snape's dark eyes which no longer seemed void and unfeeling, a glint of something inexplicable glittered there that Harry had never seen before.
Snape stared back at him but this time he did not interrupt.
"You were anything but a coward. In fact…you were the bravest man I ever knew, Severus."
For some reason Snape's first name did not feel odd on his tongue, it felt natural, like a sign of respect Harry had never shown to him in life. Likewise Snape did not seem startled at being addressed in such a manner and a gentle breeze filtered its way through the forest, enveloping them in their reconciliation.
Never would they like each other in life or in death but they had come to a much deeper understanding and a realisation that their lives were so intricately linked through one woman, through Lily. Regardless of circumstance, of whether or not Snape would have cared had Voldemort hunted down the Longbottoms instead of the Potters, or indeed what would have become of him in such a scenario, one fact remained; in the end Severus Snape had proven himself capable of love.
That made all the difference.
Another silent moment passed between the two of them and after a long pause Snape merely said "Thank you."
No grovelling apology for years of torment, no words of praise or kind thoughts for the future. Just a thank you. For Harry it was enough…more than enough coming from Snape.
At that moment Harry realised what the fresh glint in Snape's eyes was - peace. Somewhere in the beyond, in the next great adventure Snape had made peace with his life and death. Harry liked to think their final moment together contributed to that in some way and hoped that wherever Snape was going to next he would find eternal rest.
No more words were needed and so Harry simply turned the ring another three times in his hands and watched as Snape slowly disappeared from view, fading gently from life on earth.
A similar pair of green eyes were waiting for him on the other side welcoming him home.
Peace certainly had found Severus Snape and somewhere in the land of the living, or at least the land before death, Harry knew it and was glad.
A/N: I realise that Jo covers the moment after dawn but dawn is a good metaphor so I had to use that to introduce this story =P
If you're reading this I do hope you enjoyed it. I have a feeling this story has already been done - I think fresh ideas are hard to come by in HP fanfic these days - but this is my way of letting Snape move on.
Reviews are nice but I won't twist your arm to leave one…I just do this for my own enjoyment and the hope that someone else might like what I do along the way. Having said that I'm not against you hitting that review button ;)