This idea came to me while cleaning. As usual feedback is greatly appreciated, of course on the story as such, but also on any embarrassing grammar/spelling errors I might have made, so that I can go back and fix them=)
Disclaimer: Sadly, I still don't own any rights.
October 31, 1991
It was cold and dark outside. Most people were still peacefully sleeping in their beds when a lone dark figure entered the old graveyard. He was completely on his own but for a few birds that had already started twittering. The figure was clothed in a long cloak, as pitch-black as his hair. The only thing that stood out was his face, which looked unnaturally pale.
The man seemed to be in a hurry, taking long strides, yet walking so quietly that not even the nearby birds were disturbed by him. He seemed to melt in with the shadows and if one didn't look closely, he would simply be overlooked.
The figure stopped in front of a grave, staring at it for a long while. Then suddenly he started talking, mumbling really, the sound of his voice only audible in a very close range. He seemed to grow more agitated and started pacing in front of the grave.
You know he has your eyes. Every time I look at him, it is you I see. But he's nothing like you, no, he's just as cocky as his blasted father.
There were cards lying at the grave. It was one of the reasons this grave stood out among all the others at the graveyard, there were always strange things lying there. Cards, letters, amulets among others. There was never a shortage of flowers either, though they had decreased in numbers in the last years. While for the first two years hardly a day passed without at least one person visiting the grave, now there would usually be one to two visitors a month.
Suddenly the figure bent down and picked up one of the cards. His eyebrows rose when he read the text and he snorted angrily. "Thanking you for producing such a wonderful, powerful son", the man mocked sarcastically. "Oh yeah, your biggest achievement. Surely, one doesn't come to a grave to remember the dead, but to rather congratulate them for having left such nice off-spring."
The man angrily crumpled the card and tossed it back onto the grave.
They didn't even know you, they have no right to come here.
He seemed to take a moment to recollect himself.
When he spoke again, his voice had lost some of its hard edge and its sarcastic ring. It sounded nearly soft.
I wanted to tell you that I will try to protect him.
The man heaved a sigh.
I miss you.
His voice sounded almost tender now and a soft expression crossed his face, shortly followed by one that seemed like despair, but both were gone before they could really register.
The man kneeled down in front of the grave once more, remaining in his crumpled position for a while.
Abruptly he got up, staring at the gravestone's inscriptions, though he seemed to focus on one name only.
The man turned around sharply and headed back out of the graveyard, a stern mask placed on his face, back out through the gates and in the next moment he was gone, disappeared as if he had been swallowed.
Nobody had noticed his entrance and nobody took notice of his departure, not even the birds that were still singing in the trees, the volume of which had greatly increased since the man had first arrived.
The first sunlight was finally peeking through and brought with it the promise of a nice day.
October 31, 1992
It was deathly quiet, not a single thing awake, neither human nor animal. Not one stream of sunlight was coming through yet and it would have been completely dark but for the small light that was moving through the graveyard. If one looked closely, they would discover that the light seemed to come out of the tip of a stick, and that that stick was attached to an arm of a lean, dark figure.
The figure was moving swiftly, halting in front of a grave that was plastered with flowers and strange things like little stone figures, cards, necklaces and more.
The man seemed to grow irritated at the sight and swiftly bent down, picking up the objects and carelessly throwing them at a corner at the very back of the grave. He only left the flowers, everything else was moved on to the rapidly growing pile.
Finally he seemed to be convinced that he had not overseen anything and got back up. The light was briefly in front of his face and illuminated his pale cheekbones and his contrastingly dark eyes. It was the same mysterious visitor that had been there exactly a year before.
Your son is far too reckless.
The man stared at the gravestone accusingly.
How am I supposed to protect him if he doesn't have a healthy sense of self-preservation? In fact, he has none at all, thinks he can just take on the world on his own. Or maybe along with his two sidekicks.
The man groaned.
You know of all the people in the school, of course he had to befriend the two worst ones. That dumb Weasley-boy, who seems to be good at absolutely nothing other than fretting around famous people. And our little know-it-all Granger, who has to annoy me every class by putting her hand up in the air, waving it FRANTICALLY just to recite answers from textbooks, not even bothering to rephrase it at all. Of the two, I think she's actually the worse one, at least I can ignore Weasley if I want to, unless he's managed to ruin a potion once again due to his humongous incompetence, but with her practically shoving her hand in your face, that's impossible.
Put those three together, and add another incompetent Longbottom, and you have the worst imaginable Potions class possible.
The man snapped angrily .
I still miss you, you know.
His voice had taken on a softer edge, and he stared at the graveyard absentmindedly, reminiscent of past events.
Well, I can promise you this much. I'll keep on trying. Even if he makes it damn near impossible for me!
He bent down and looked at the gravestone sadly.
I hope that wherever you are you are happy.
His voice was but a mere whisper now, that didn't carry any farther than a few inches.
He ran his hand over her name on the gravestone in a way of saying goodbye and for one short moment, his mask slipped and it revealed a soft expression that hadn't been present on his face for a very long time.
He got up and left without a backwards glance. With a soft pop he was gone and the place was once more bathed in darkness.
October 31, 1993
The sun had already started to rise when the man went to visit the grave the following year. He still appeared much the same as before, as pale and as dark-clothed as ever, maybe with a wrinkle more here and there.
As he had done the year before he started rearranging the things that had been laid down at the grave until he was satisfied.
Have you ever heard of the Chamber of Secrets?
He gazed at the gravestone imploringly, as if he was expecting an answer.
Well, knowing you, you probably read about it in a book.
He chuckled, but it didn't sound joyful, rather nostalgic, as if he was reminded of some rather memories that he hadn't wanted to remember at all.
I'm just glad that you weren't here to have to live through it. I don't think I could have borne it if you had been among those petrified.
There was an earnest expression on his face now.
And I'm starting to think that your son has a serious death wish.
He raised an eyebrow at the gravestone, as if daring her to contradict him. Of course, no answer ever came.
He sighed softly.
Well, I promised you I'll do my best to protect him, and I don't want to disappoint you – not again. I'll keep on trying even if he's a self-centered, attention-seeking, reckless prat who…
He interrupted himself, noticing that he was getting carried away. He sighed again, this time a lot louder than before.
You know his best friend, Granger, was among those petrified. He visited her every night.
He was staring at some of the flowers lying there, unseeing, his gaze being far-off.
Can you imagine that she figured it all out on her own? That she had interpreted the clues correctly before any of us had?
There was a rustle of leaves behind him and the man turned around sharply. Even though it had only been a squirrel causing the noise, he still seemed to reprimand himself mentally for having let his ever-present alertness slip for just a tiny second.
I have to go. I'll be back though.
As he had done the year before, he knelt down in front of the grave and ran his hand over the inscription of her name, looking at it somewhat longingly.
He got up shortly afterwards, leaving the graveyard in a hurry and as soon as he passed through the gateway he was gone.
October 31, 1994
He was back exactly one year later. As had become his custom, he started by cleaning up the grave before he stopped in front of the grave, for a while just staring at it before voicing his thoughts out loud.
Why couldn't it have been him?
He stared at the gravestone imploringly.
I so wanted it to be his fault, but no, of course he had to turn out bloody innocent.
If any passerby had heard him, they would have probably wondered what could possibly cause someone to be mad at another because they proved that they hadn't done anything wrong and were in fact innocent? As it was, the man was alone in the graveyard and there was no one to listen to what he was saying, other than a few birds sitting in a nearby tree.
Then again, things hardly ever went my way now, did they?
His tone was bitter, yet his balled fist was the only outward evidence that this bothered him and that fist quickly disappeared under his cloak. His facial expression remained stoic, non-descriptive and impossible to decipher.
And once again, your son had to get into the middle of it all. And once again, he nearly got himself killed doing just that.
He sounded as if the boy did it as a personal offense to him.
I can't stay for long today, Dumbledore needs me at the castle and I don't want him to get suspicious. He's already meddling in enough parts of my life as it is, he doesn't need to know even more.
As had become his custom, his hand ran over her name before a soft 'goodbye' left his lips. A few seconds later he was gone, no trace left behind that could prove that he had ever been there.
October 31, 1995
It was raining like mad, and that at such an ungodly early hour. However, the man that stepped through the gate and into the graveyard didn't seem to be affected by it all, the rain seemed to bounce off him.
He started with his usual ritual, cleaning up the grave before starting to talk to her.
I'm frightened, Lily. I've been frightened for a long time, frightened and feeling helpless.
He seemed to be surprised at his own admission, but it didn't take long for him to go on.
I was frightened in your son's first year, when I had to find out that a fraud like Quirrel could deceive even Dumbledore. I felt helpless because if they could deceive Dumbledore, how could anyone else hope to see through their disguises. Even though I had my suspicions, I wasn't fast enough. Your son and his two blasted friends had to get in the middle of it all, and none of us had been able to prevent it. I felt frightened because it confirmed our deepest fears, that the Dark Lord had indeed not been vanished as we had hoped.
I was frightened in his second year, when the Chamber of Secrets was opened and none of us teachers knew what to do. I felt helpless when muggleborn students were getting petrified and I didn't know what to do, how to prevent it, how to get to the source of it all. I felt frightened when I realised that it had once again been the Dark Lord's doing, and even worse, those of his younger self. If he had been able to achieve something like that at such an early age, who knew what his older self had been able to achieve, who knew whether there weren't some other manifestations of his persona lingering around. And frankly, that thought frightened me beyond anything else.
I wasn't as frightened in third year. Black's escape gave me something to focus on, gave me a purpose in life, as I wanted to bring him down, avenge your murder, and I was sure it would only be a case of time until it drew him back to the castle. I was filled with a strange satisfaction when my suspicions proved right, when Black actually managed to break into the Gryffindor Common Room. I was sure I was going to get him then, and I was sure to bring Lupin down along with him. Somehow I get the feeling that things are just not supposed to work out the way I want them too. I was oh-so-close to my aim, when everything was ripped from me once again. Gone was the chance to blame it all on him, and I was left helpless again, not able to do anything about it. Worse, I even had to accept the fact that it hadn't been Black's fault all along and that he had somehow managed to gain Dumbledore's trust. But what frightened me even more was the fact that I had never known that Pettigrew had turned a spy for the Dark Lord. It meant that he had never let me as close as I thought he had.
I was frightened in fourth year when your son came back carrying Cedric Diggory's body. I was even more frightened when I realised what the news he brought with him meant with me. I was frightened when I had to go back to him.
The man had grown more agitated throughout his little speech, and yet it seemed that some weight had been lifted from him, as he had finally been able to tell someone.
Well, I am still frightened, frightened of what the future will bring for me and for everyone else, but at least I don't feel as helpless anymore. At least now I have a chance to contribute, at least now I can take an active role in this war that is coming. At least I have a purpose in life once again.
The man stayed silent for a long while, staring at the grave contemplatively.
Your son is still fine, though that's hardly his own achievement, he seems to have been born under a lucky star.
The man snorted.
And then I suppose there's Granger to pull him out of the mess he's gotten himself into. She never seems to leave his side, unlike that Weasley boy.
He stayed silent for a while.
I know I'm not doing the best job at protecting him, but I tried. I tried to persuade Dumbledore that he could under no circumstance take part in that cursed tournament, but he wouldn't listen.
He sounded somewhat desperate now, as if he needed her to understand him and to tell him that it was okay.
He stayed for another while, though he didn't say anything else, his gaze lingering on the gravestone and not once wavering.
At last he bent down to run his hand over her name, that was so precious to him, before leaving with the promise of coming back the following year.
October 31, 1996
There were no cards or any other objects there to clean up for him this year. Since the Dark Lord had not been vanquished after all, their grave was obviously no longer worth a visit.
I didn't want him to die.
His words sounded apologetic.
I tried, I really tried. I never wanted to be guilty of yet another death.
His voice was raspy now. He wasn't looking at the gravestone anymore, as if he was afraid that he would be judged if he did.
I never liked him, but I didn't mean for him to die.
I tried, I really did, but he was just so stubborn, he didn't want to learn and when he managed to break into my memories I just freaked out.
His gaze was finally back on the gravestone.
I never thought that it would lead to this.
There was a long silence.
He asked me to kill him.
His voice had become nearly toneless now.
I wonder whether it is because I am the only one he can trust to do it, as he puts it, or because he knows that I'm already a villain, that it can't possibly taint my heart even further.
He sounded bitter then, and somehow old and worn out.
It's still not fair.
He's the only father-figure I've ever had, the only one who ever gave me a second chance, and now I'm going to lose him, and be the reason for losing him all the same.
His gaze was becoming more and more distant.
They're going to hate me, hate me even more than they do now.
I suppose I deserve it.
It doesn't make it any easier to accept though.
His gaze lingered on her name, as it did so often.
And you know what? I still feel frightened. Frightened because I have no way of knowing what will happen, how it will all end. Frightened because any day could be my last one. Frightened that I could die before the Dark Lord has finally met his demise. Frightened because we're wandering on a fragile path and just a little misstep could end it all. Frightened because the future is not set in stone, but is affected by every little choice we make. Frightened because our aim seems to become a little more impossible with every day passing.
I just can promise you this much: I will keep on trying until the very end. I only hope it'll be enough.
His hand ran over her name, desperately, as if he was looking for some reassurance.
Goodbye , Lily. I can't promise that I will be back, because I have no way of knowing what will happen until then, but I fear a lot of things will change, and most probably not for the better.
His gaze lingered on the gravestone a little while longer. For the first time, he didn't turn around and leave through the gate but disappeared on the spot.
October 31, 1997
It was still so dark that one could not see one's hand in front of one's eyes. And even if there would have been any light, nobody would have noticed the invisible, dillusioned dark figure that had entered the old graveyard. His pace was not as fast as usual, his step not as graceful, as he had to find his way in the complete dark. But he knew his way and soon enough he had arrived in front of the grave he had intended to visit.
It was a simple enough statement, yet it seemed to carry all the weight in the world.
He is dead and I murdered him.
His voice sounded cold, detached, void of any human emotion.
He is dead and everyone blames me for it. And rightly so.
He had started pacing in front of the grave.
He is dead and everyone hates me for it.
His steps didn't make any sound, the only noise being the song of some nearby birds.
He is dead and there is no one left I can turn to.
The graveyard appeared even more desolated than it had before.
He is dead and still there's no guarantee that it will ever work out.
The man stopped his pacing and stopped in front of the grave, staring at it imploringly for a long while.
I am so sorry, Lily.
The birds in the nearby tree had stopped twittering, as if they somehow sensed that this was a very important moment. It was eerily quiet.
I know I never said it before, Lily, and I'm sorry for that, too. I'm sorry I let you down. I'm sorry I ever called you that, I'm sorry I destroyed our friendship.
There was a sharp intake of breath.
I'm sorry I ever joined him. I'm sorry I gave him all the information I did and I am so sorry that I was the cause for your death.
His eyes seemed wet then, an emotion that was new to him, and he harshly blinked away the tear that was threatening to spill from his eye.
It's just not fair, it should have been me that died, me, because I deserved it. Not you, not sweet, innocent you.
It should be me lying in this grave, not you.
Life's just not fair.
His voice was barely above a whisper now.
I'm sorry I failed you, once and again. I'm sorry I'm doing such a bad job at protecting your son and I'm sorry that I bereaved him of the only father figure he ever knew.
I'm sorry I had to murder him. I'm sorry I had to bereave the Wizarding World of their figure of hope.
I'm sorry that your son will have to face him. I'm sorry that I can't be there to protect him. At least he has Granger with him, if anyone can protect him, I bet it is her.
And yet I am sorry that I never treated him the way I should have. I am sorry that I bereaved him of all guidance, all counsel.
I'm sorry, Lily, so incredibly sorry.
He didn't say another word for the length of his stay, but he silently sat in front of the grave for a long while.
Eventually, he seemed to have recollected himself, and after he had ran his hand over his hand over her name, he left the graveyard.
It wouldn't be for another half an hour that the birds would start to sing again.
October 31, 1998
The man that stood in front of the grave looked beaten and worn out. There was a large scar running down from his neck, disappearing underneath his cloak. He seemed to have lost a lot of weight just recently, leaving him as bony as a stick.
I can hardly believe it myself, but as you can see I am still alive – more or less.
He sneered at his own bad attempt at a joke.
We made it, we somehow made it and yet I can't help it but regret that I am not one of the dead corpses that have been buried over the last few months.
I never wanted to survive this, I didn't want to live with the guilt any longer, I thought that helping them destroy the Dark Lord would be my ticket for absolution. Obviously I was wrong.
He sighed resigned, nothing had gone the way he had wanted it to for a long time.
I don't even understand why she was so determined to save me. No one would have missed me. There would have been no one there to shed a tear upon my death.
He paused for a while.
She reminds me of you somewhat. Obviously the whole muggleborn thing. She's at least as strong-headed as you, and as fiercely loyal. She's incredibly smart, probably even more so than you were, though not as pretty as you.
I still don't understand why she saved me though. She didn't owe me anything. At least not that she knew of. Everyone still believed me to be the evil villain that I am, when she saved me. Saved me against the protest of her best friends nonetheless.
He looked intrigued, and clearly puzzled, not able to understand her motivations.
You know they call me a hero now, when I am so clearly anything but. I never wanted to be a hero, never wanted to get more attention than what was strictly necessary.
Now people either hate me, still convinced that I was a deatheater all along and somehow managed to fool your son, or admire for my oh-so-heroic deeds.
I suppose things could be worse. I still don't like it though.
He had settled down in front of the grave, absentmindedly picking at some weed.
They asked me to go back to Hogwarts to teach next school year. I said I'd consider. At least Minerva's there. I'd like to think she's something akin to a friend. And yet, she too believed that I had betrayed them all.
Truth be told, I simply don't know to do with my life. Before, there was a purpose. There was something to overcome. There was someone to fight against. But now…
He trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
He sat in silence for a long while, until the first sunrays started to peek through.
I guess I'll see you next year.
His hand briefly touched her name, before he turned around and left.
October 31, 1999
The man that entered the graveyard this year looked a lot better than he had done the year before. His scars seemed to somewhat have healed up, he looked healthier and had obviously gained some weight. His face didn't look as shallow anymore. A lot can change in just one year.
He stopped in front of the gravestone that was so familiar to him.
I wanted to tell you that I didn't take the job. I don't think Hogwarts would have been right for me after all those years. There are too many bad memories attached to that place, and I've never been the students' favourite teacher and I don't think that would ever change.
Besides, I didn't want all the publicity. I prefer living in solitude, no one there to bother me. Minerva visits from time to time, she more or less apologized to me every day until I accepted it if only to get her to shut up.
It's good to have her back as a friend though.
A year ago, that man would have hardly made that admission. But a year is a long time and obviously more than just his physical appearance had changed.
I'm running a potions company now. It's actually going really well, earning me a little fortune. It even forced me to employ someone else, though I never wanted to. Well, at least Miss Granger is quite capable at brewing and she seems to have grown out of her incessant chatter.
Your son is doing great. He has turned into a decent sort of man.
He sounded surprised at his own admission.
I have to get back. We're awfully busy at the moment, there never seem to be too many potions around.
He leaned forward, softly running his hand over her name.
See you next year.
Not a minute later, he was gone.
October 31, 2000
He was back and for the first time ever he had brought flowers, white lilies, which he carefully laid down at the grave.
He paused for a moment.
You know how I told you that Hermione reminded me of you? Well, I was wrong.
Compared to how I treated her throughout her school years, calling you a mudblood was a little offense. And yet, where you weren't you able to forgive me, she had it in her to forgive me for it all.
His voice had taken on a tone of awe and of admiration.
She is everything I could have ever asked for. She's smart, she's intelligent and she understands me. She listens and she knows when to stay quiet. She doesn't force me to talk but she is simply there for me when I need her. She is brilliant at brewing and doesn't cower down from arguing with me when we don't agree on a point. She is probably the worst cook ever, but she knows all the numbers to order take-away food. She works with me on most projects and yet respects that there are some things I need to do on my own, some projects that I need to complete on my own. She has her own projects also. She has the most brilliant smile and she just seems to know what to say then.
His gaze was somewhat dreamy now, and more open than it had ever been before.
I love her.
There was a long pause, as the words sunk in.
I love her and I am going to ask her to marry me.
At that admission a small smile appeared on his face and quickly spread. And while he had learnt to smile throughout the last year, it was the first time that he had ever worn that expression in front of the grave.
I am happy, Lily. I didn't think I could ever be this happy again, I didn't think I deserved it, I still don't really think I do, and yet I am.
The smile was still on his face and it made a different man out of him. Though he still didn't look exactly handsome, it turned his before always sour and grim looking face into a much more likeable version.
I just wanted to let you know this.
He stared at the gravestone for a while.
And, Lily, I forgive you. I forgive you for never giving me a second chance.
I just hope that you have it in you to, one day, forgive me too.
He leaned forward to run his hand over her name one last time, before he got back up.
And that's how Severus Snape's lonesome visits to Lily Potter's graves ceased. Not that he stopped going there, no, he would still go there every Halloween and pay his respects to her grave, but he wasn't alone anymore. Instead he would be accompanied by a woman with brown curls, his wife. Each year he would stand in front of the grave, while she respectfully stood a few feet behind him, their hands still inter-linked.
The other important change to his previous visits was that there was no more talking involved. He had told her everything he needed her to know, and now Severus Tobias Snape was ready to move on with his own life, together with the one woman who had had it in her heart to forgive him and to love him despite all his ugly faults.