Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter. I just torture Aurora.
A/N: You will need tissues throughout this entire story. It's horribly depressing (according to DA), so you're forewarned. However, it gets better towards the end. I mean, I'm Lan. I don't write depressing stories without a semi-happy ending. :D
Secondly, the date scene mentioned in here actually happened during MiM (Magic is Might, a roleplaying game that was on Facebook).
Lastly, this story would not be possible if not for MiM especially Severus Snape MiM, DaughterOfAres (my ficwhore who makes sure I write constantly), and SnapesWidow (the main person who got me involved with MiM). I hope you enjoy. :D
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
The dream started out like every other dream. It was dark, and there was little noise. Gradually, the sounds of wood creaking echoed followed by quiet pain filled groans. Whispers then filtered out of someone attempting to lend a helping hand to another. Silence suddenly pierced the air, and once again all was calm.
Dark eyes watched the swaying decrepit house as the person approached. A shuddered breath was drawn before the person swallowed harshly. Taking a step inside, the individual silently walked towards where the noise had come from earlier. Every now and then, the floorboards creaked from the weight, but nothing more was heard. The figure then stopped, frozen to the floor by the sight before it. Down ashen cheeks rolled large mournful tears, splashing against the wooden floor.
Blood pooled around the black robed victim. The majority of crimson seemed centered on the pale man's neck from a deep laceration, actually soaking his white collar. His lips were ghostly white as he lay there, unmoving.
"Look . . . at . . . me," he rasped, staring at the other with fading black eyes.
Before the figure could even say a word, the scene darkened into nothingness. Cold and despair, the person awoke, feeling the tears and grief wash over once again. Eight years had come and gone, but it still didn't hurt any less. They had lied.
"Rora, are you all right?" whispered a concerned male voice.
"I'm fine, Alan," she replied just as soft. She then inhaled slowly, running a hand through her dark hair as she stared out the window. Eight years, and it still hurt like hell. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before getting out of bed, wrapping her silk robe around her, and silently walking out of the room. Alan luckily knew her ritual so she didn't need to inform him that she was going downstairs.
Unconsciously, she rubbed the thin silver band on her ring finger as she headed towards her favorite chair to curl up in for the rest of the night. She smiled softly at Alan's cat as it stretched and moved to the side for her to sit. She gently stroked the soft fur of the tabby, absentmindedly wondering if her mentor would be awake to talk this late at night. Eight years, who would have known?
She awoke several hours later to Alan staring at her as he wore his crisp, clean button down shirt and trousers. She forced the smile to her face, wanting nothing more than to flee his eyes. She knew what he was thinking. Everyone always thought it upon seeing her like this. She closed her eyes in relief when he was the first to glance away.
"Are you sure you're going to be all right by yourself tonight, Rora?" Alan asked quietly.
"Yeah," she answered emotionlessly. "Go on." She could feel his eyes watching her again like she was some interesting specimen about to crack.
"You know," he said, laughing nervously. "Traditional weddings are a bit old. How about we just throw out that old ritual of me spending the night elsewhere and stay with you tonight? I don't need Tucker and the boys taking me out for some wild night that I probably won't remember anyway, not when I have you."
"Go, Alan. I'm fine," she repeated, wondering idly if she ever would be fine again.
"I'm fine. Really, I am." She then sighed softly, chewing on the inside of her cheek. "I mean, I'm sort of the type who wants a traditional wedding. And it really is bad luck to see the bride on her wedding day, so go, Alan. I'll be fine." She could see the hesitation in his blue eyes. "Fine," she exclaimed, forcing herself to roll her eyes in amusement—even though she wanted to cry truthfully. "If it gets you off my back, you should know that I'm not going to be alone tonight. One of my longtime friends is planning on coming here a bit later to stay with me."
"Oh," he replied, nodding slowly as if that was the answer he wanted to hear. "Well, that's good I guess." He then frowned before shaking his head at something he must have thought. He gently pressed a kiss against her forehead a moment later and sighed. "If you need anything, Rora, I'll be at the hospital until seven. After then, call my cell."
"Yes, Alan, I know," she drawled, forcing herself to do it. She just wished he left. She couldn't be around him anymore, not after dreaming about . . . She nearly sobbed at her thought. It still hurt too much to say his name. Eight years, and it still felt as if she had lost him just yesterday.
"I can't wait until we're married, Rora," Alan softly whispered, kissing her lips gently. "We're going to be so happy."
She sincerely hoped that he wasn't counting on that. She could only pretend to be happy now. With another forced smile, she merely nodded and waited for him to leave. As soon as the door shut behind him, she sighed, closing her eyes.
She loved Alan, or at least she believed she did. Sometimes, in fact, the pain seemed to lessen when he was around. However, the heartache always came back at night, though. She had spoken to Mind Healer after Mind Healer and therapist upon therapist. None of them helped her. She had taken medicine, Muggle and Magical alike, to go back to normal again. Not a single one did that, though. In fact, it only made her more drugged and out of it. She had even tried escaping her pain by running away from it. However, no matter where she went, he was always there with her.
Everyone had said that the pain would lessen. Everyone promised that she'd move on. And when she didn't move on quick enough for them, they worried and interfered. Sometimes, in fact, they'd send professional help to assist her in dealing with the pain. After awhile, she finally just stopped caring and forced herself to pretend that everything was all right again. That she was fine. That she was heartless and cold and everything she wasn't. But that was what they wanted from her. And since she just wanted them to leave her alone, she gave in and pretended for them. It had worked. They had all left her alone to live her life, leaving her absolutely positively alone in the world.
Alan had rescued her from the darkness of her despair, or so everyone thought. He had met her in a pub, offering to walk her home after she had one too many drinks. Since she had long since stopped caring what happened to her anymore, she let him. At the time she had thought he might have been a serial killer, but he wasn't. In fact, he was a surgeon at a nearby hospital. He was the perfect gentlemen, helping her into her apartment, holding her hair back as she continued to sick up into the toilet, and staying with her to make sure she was fine in the morning.
It had taken several months of meetings before she realized that her heart hurt less near him. And when she did, she figured that she was starting to move on, becoming normal again. The dreams had lessened with time, allowing her to dream about happy things again like seeing a solar eclipse. So, she said yes when he asked if they could start date one another. And a few more months, she said yes when he asked her to marry him, feeling as if everything was returning to ordinary again. That was when the dreams resurged, ripping her heart open again. She then fell into a ritual. She'd dream about him, leave to go downstairs, and sit in her chair until morning, eventually falling asleep. The first time Alan attempted to get her to talk about her dreams. However, she outright refused, saying that he couldn't help her, that she'd be fine, every lie she could use. And after awhile, he just stopped asking like everyone else in her life, assuming that she was better now.
Settling in for the rest of the morning, she sighed and closed her eyes. She didn't want to do anything right then. She just wanted to lie there, pretending that everything was all right. She gently pet Alan's cat, focusing on each soft stroke. It was not long before she was whisked back to her dreams.
Upon awaking in her dream, she opened her eyes, only to close them again upon the sight in front of her. He was there, standing there as if nothing had happened as if he was still . . . She then inhaled, shaking her head. This was a dream, a wonderful dream that would break her heart even more when she awoke later.
"Aurora, dear, you're not having second thoughts, are you?" asked a stern-looking witch in emerald robes. "I'm rather certain that Septima will kill you if you are after the amount of time she's put into this wedding."
"I'm fine, Minerva," she quietly replied, swallowing slowly. This was how it was supposed to be. This was the man she was supposed to marry, not Alan. She found it easier to smile as she walked down the aisle towards him. She didn't care what she was wearing. She didn't care who was there. All that mattered was that he was with her.
"You look stunning," said the hook-nosed, pale man with long raven locks who stared at her.
She gave him a shy smile, glancing down. That rich baritone voice was what she longed to hear more than anything. She had missed it so much. In fact, she nearly burst from happiness as she felt his voice surround her. She closed her eyes, revealing in the feel, when he gently kissed her cheek before he turned back around.
A shudder passed down her as she noticed the figure in front of them. While it was nowhere near its real life version, the Dementor stared back, rasping as it did. Its eerie tattered robes swayed gently in the breeze with a low hum coming from its mouth.
"I do," announced the man she loved more than life itself beside her.
Her eyes darted from him to the Dementor. Was the humming a question? If so, she couldn't understand it. She, however, stared at it, brushing off her uneasiness. She had wanted for so long to marry him. She wouldn't let reality get in her way. When the Dementor paused in its humming, its face turned towards her as if watching her every move.
"I—" Her words, however, were cut off.
The Dementor quickly drew in a breath, sucking the energy out of them. Its head then cocked to the side before it inhaled deeply. It seemed to concentrate all of its energy on him, extracting his life right in front of her very eyes.
"No," she cried, reaching for her silver wand to blast the wretched creature from them. Her hand, however, met the soft silk dress. "No, no, please, Circe, no," she sobbed, rushing forward to shove it far from him. She couldn't lose him a second time. She wouldn't lose him. Her hands went through it, though, with a deep eerie laugh echoing around. As she fought against it, trying everything humanly possible to get it away, she stared into his obsidian eyes, watching them fade as he slipped away from her once more. "NO!" she screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks. "NO! Severus!" she yelled, grabbing his arm to hold him, something she hadn't been able to do before.
However, she wasn't quick enough. She never would be. Within a second, the pale man she had been so close to marrying was gone, faded into nothingness. Her body shook uncontrollably as she sobbed. Why? Why had it done that? Why had it taken him away from her? She idly heard the Dementor's humming again, but she didn't care anymore. She had lost him . . . yet again.
When the moon was high up into the sky and the stars twinkled majestically, she awoke to her unending harsh reality. She stood, sighing heavily while wiping away the tears. Her dreams were so vivid, forcing her grief to the surface once more. She silently walked towards her loo, but stopped when she heard the familiar humming sound.
Investigating, she headed towards the noise, frowning when she saw the automatic vacuum cleaner that Alan had insisted on buying for their flat. Of course that had been the Dementor noise she dreamt about. She should have known. It was that damn vacuum's fault. So, being a tad bit irrational, she stamped her foot down onto it, exhaling with satisfaction when she heard its housing crack before it powered down for the final time. Now there was an idiot invention if ever there was one.
She then walked into the small kitchenette, pointedly ignoring the soft purrs. She personally was more of a dog fan. When the phone rang a moment later, she glared at it, waiting for it to stop. The answering machine picked up, of course, making her a bit moodier.
"Rora, it's me . . ." There was a long pause before he continued. "Alan. I know you're probably busy with your friend or something, but I just—well, I wanted to see how you were doing." He paused again, seemingly waiting for something. "If you need anything—to hear my voice or whatever, please call me." He then sighed heavily, obviously wanting to add more but not knowing what to say. "Rora, I love you, and I can't wait until—"
A series of sizzles and crackles then cut him off followed by tiny flames licking the answering machine. She didn't react at all as she watched it burn. In fact, she sighed a moment later when the fire extinguished itself, leaving behind only charred remains.
It was her first display of magic—albeit accidental—in seven years. She shook her head at this realization before gently pushing the badly burnt contraption off the counter into the rubbish bin. She'd have to come up with an interesting excuse to explain that one. She was rather certain the old 'I'm a witch' story wouldn't fly with him.
Alan was right earlier, though. She needed someone with her, if only to stay sane and not burn down their flat. So, she whirled around, heading towards the bedroom. She said nothing when the tabby followed her. She pointedly ignored everything but her closet. She pushed back the screen and gently rose up onto her tiptoes to bring down a rather old looking box that was hidden near the very back of the shelf. She walked to the bed then, sitting on the edge before brushing back the thick layer of dust that had collected on top of the box.
Without a word, she opened the box and pulled out a tray full of family heirlooms. There at the bottom was her silver wand, where it had been for the past eight years. With a deep frown, she picked it up and flicked it to the side to cast a nonverbal Patronus Charm. She didn't glance at the corporeal animal when it pounced out of her wand. It was still too hurtful to look at, knowing that it had once been Severus's Animagus form.
"Go to Septima and bring her here," she instructed the graceful creature. She closed her eyes when the silvery light animal disappeared. It had been years since she used magic. In fact, she had often wondered if she had lost the ability to cast anything anymore. Clearly, she hadn't, though.
A knock at the front door a moment later made her sigh. Septima was always prompt. Placing her wand back inside the box again, she closed it and quickly hid the box on the top shelf again. Being a witch wasn't her life anymore. It hadn't been for years. So what good would that wand do anyway?
She briskly strode out of the bedroom towards the front door. She hoped that Septima had the foresight to wear Muggle-style clothing this time. It had taken her forever last time to talk the neighbors into believing that Septima wasn't a raving lunatic. Opening the door, she gave a soft smile towards the light-brown haired witch on the other side.
"Are you all right? Did something happen? He didn't hurt you, did he? Tell me. Aura—" Septima corrected herself immediately at the pained expression on her friend's face. "I mean, Aurora. He didn't hurt you, right?"
"No. He's with his friends," she replied, closing the door behind them.
"Oh," responded her friend. "Well, are you having second thoughts then?"
"Not exactly," she answered, shaking her head slowly. "I, well, I don't want to be alone."
"Yeah, I can understand that." Septima then inhaled, glancing around with a slight grimace. "I take it he doesn't know about your secret yet?"
"No, I haven't told him yet. I don't want to scare him away."
"Muggles do tend to get a bit . . . sketchy around us, don't they?" She sighed before she walked into the room further. She, however, didn't sit down. "What does your mum think about you marrying a Muggle anyway?"
"She hasn't said much. In fact, the only thing she has said is that she's not coming, which is perfectly fine with me."
"Do you want me to—?"
"No. Her not coming is just fine, Septima. I don't need her."
"Aurora, she's your mother. She should be there."
"Like I said, I don't care if she is or isn't," she snapped. She then inhaled slowly, running a hand through her hair. They were arguing again. Why was she always arguing with the people who actually gave a damn about her? She released her deep breath, hoping it'd relax her enough. She knew that sitting there would drive her completely nutters. She needed to get away. She needed to go somewhere that—
"What is it?"
"I, I realize it's stupid, but . . ." Aurora's voice trailed off as she considered her idea. Septima would likely be against it. After all, this was the night before Aurora was supposed to marry Alan. But she needed this.
"Aurora, what is it?"
"I want to visit Severus's grave." She glanced towards the fireplace instantly when she saw Septima's look. She didn't think she was asking too much with her request. She only wanted to visit.
"Sweetie, you know what'll happen when we get there."
"I just . . . I need this, Septima. Please?" She closed her eyes as she waited for the answer. So, she was getting married tomorrow. It didn't mean anything, not really. Alan would understand. Well, once he knew about Severus, the only man she'd ever truly love.
"Fine," Septima replied with a sigh. "We'll go to Godric's." Her green eyes then narrowed on her. "However, you're going to dress before we leave because we're sure as hell not going to show up with you in your nightgown."
Normally, Aurora would be sharing a laugh with her, but this time she only stood and quietly walked to her bedroom. She could feel Septima's eyes on her, but she said nothing. Instead, she closed the door and headed towards her armoire to grab fresh clothes, a long black skirt and black blouse. She silently dressed before retrieving her wand once again and finally returning to Septima.
She didn't respond. What was there to say to that question? Was she ready to visit the grave of one of her longtime friends, a man that she had fancied for decades and had died in order to save all of them while he had suffered in silence for years from a manipulative bastard who blackmailed him whenever he had the chance? She merely inclined her head, though, and locked the front door. Closing her eyes, she concentrated on Godric's Hollow before feeling the familiar sense of Apparation. From years of non-use, magic felt so foreign to her now. She brushed off the uneasiness that coursed through her veins, though. She had bigger things than that to think about now.
"Goodness, it's almost midnight," mumbled Septima beside her a second later. "Do you want me to stand in there with you? Or will you be all right?"
Aurora shook her head, her voice not wanting to work. She remembered the last time she had visited his grave like it was yesterday. She and Septima had a terrible row over Aurora wanting him to be honored or at least mentioned for his heroic deeds in the Prophet. Septima had thought he wouldn't have wanted that sort of recognition. So, to the world, Severus Tobias Snape was just another Death Eater who had been killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. It was half the reason Aurora had left that world behind and lived as a Muggle. Everything, all the work he did, all the pain he suffered, all the blood he spilt, and he didn't even get an Order of the Merlin or a thanks or anything from anyone. Sure, Harry Potter, Savior of the Wizarding World/Vanquisher of Tom Riddle/the Chosen One, tried to tell them, but no one listened so he just stopped.
Staring at the black marble headstone, Aurora felt a soft smile reach her lips. She had been the one who had requested that he be buried there next to Lily, his true love. She could still recall the look on Harry's face when she had approached him about it. She had never seen the war-weary seventeen-year-old more shocked before in his life. However, he had agreed, stating it was likely the only thing he could ever do to repay the man who had kept him alive for so long. She then closed her eyes as she remembered his memorial service all those years ago.
Severus's funeral was a small affair, about thirty people, consisting of former students, coworkers, and acquaintances. Since it was a small gathering, Harry decided to take the main lead, offering to eulogize and presenting the idea of pallbearers during the pre-planning stages.
Harry had kept his eulogy short by merely stating that he would not have been alive if it had not be for Severus . . . that he should be considered a hero to all. The audience slowly nodded in agreement. There was nothing else any of them could really do, though. It had all been said before and ignored by the public at large. The Wizarding World quite frankly just didn't want to believe it, refusing to listen. The young man then thanked Severus, stating that he was the bravest man he had ever known, which Severus was undoubtedly.
Harry's idea, however, on using pallbearers resulted in a compromise since it was not a tradition Magical folk partook in usually. Instead of carrying the coffin as Muggles would, each pallbearer raised his or her wand and levitated the coffin into the ground. In a sign of solidarity, they all decided previously that a pallbearer would be chosen from each House, specifically the Heads of Houses.
Wearing crimson robes with green crests to signify Slytherin, Harry and Minerva McGonagall were Gryffindor's pallbearers. Contrasting slightly, Filius Flitwick wore a dark blue robe with a silver Slytherin patch attached to his breast as he represented Ravenclaw, while Pomona Sprout, wearing sunshine yellow robes with a dark green Slytherin emblem, was the Hufflepuff pallbearer. Wearing their majestic emerald robes with their silver Slytherin crests, Draco Malfoy and Horace Slughorn were the final Houses' counterparts. They raised their wands as one—Gryffindors, Slytherins, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff alike—levitated the black marble tomb over the six feet hole, and slowly lowered it into the earth in perfect sync with one another. Each then bowed his or her head before slowly stepping back.
They then took turns in paying their respects. Aurora waited and watched as Minerva, Filius, Horace, and Pomona thanked Snape, conjuring white lilies on top of the black marble before they moved on. She then closed her eyes as Poppy Pomfrey, Rolanda Hooch, and Sybill Trelawney did the same. A tear-filled Hagrid and stone-faced Argus Filch both tossed in lilies that Septima had conjured for them. Then was the Weasley family minus Fred who had unfortunately died in the Battle of Hogwarts also. Molly was wiping tears from her eyes as she moved past.
Hermione Granger, Fleur Delacour-Weasley, and Angelina Johnson conjured their lilies silently, closing their eyes as they walked past. Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom walked together, bowing their heads in silence as their lilies floated down on top of the black. Blaise Zabini conjured a silver-edged lily before he walked past. The Malfoys, who had seemed uneasy during the entire ceremony, left their lilies with identical pained expressions. Septima then conjured hers before glancing at Aurora. Together, Harry and Aurora magically placed theirs on top of the others with Harry gently wrapping a supportive arm around her waist as they stared down at the lily-coated tomb.
"Aurora?" Septima said quietly, instantly bringing her out of her memories.
"I'm here," she replied, closing her eyes. She had buried her heart in that tomb with him.
Slowly, she sunk to the ground, kneeling before the black marble grave marker. Her slender fingers gently traced his name, feeling the tears well up in her eyes. She missed him so much. Sniffling slightly, she shook her head. This was supposed to help her, not cause her to suffer another breakdown.
"I'm sorry," she whispered so only he'd hear. "I'm so sorry, Severus. I wish I could move on. I wish I could just turn off this so I'd leave you in peace with her. But I can't. I can't do this. It's too hard. It hurts . . . hurts too much." She angrily swiped at her tears. "I understand now why . . . why you did what you did. She was the only woman you'd ever love, and . . . and here I am being selfish and wanting you back." She then choked back her sob. "Severus, please, I'll do anything. Please come back to me. Please? I can't . . . I can't do this anymore. I . . . I don't love him. You know that. Everyone has to know that. Please?" She then lowered her voice. "Please do something, anything, to tell me that you're there . . . that this is a horrible nightmare and that I'm going to awake in the hospital wing. Please! Please! Don't let me marry him. I can't . . . I can't . . . I can't do anything or they'll know." She then placed her cheek on the smooth stone. "They think . . . they think I'm better, that I'm dealing. You know the truth, though. You know. Please . . . please do something. Please . . . please, Severus, please!"
"Aurora, sweetie, we need to go," Septima quietly said behind her, approaching slowly.
"NO!" She instantly tightened her grip on his headstone. She couldn't leave before he helped her. She needed him. The others didn't understand that, but he did. She knew he did.
"Aurora, don't do this."
She had to, though. She didn't love Alan, nor would she ever probably. She had buried her heart with Severus. They just didn't understand that, though. They didn't experience this sort of loss. They all thought everything was fine. That she was fine because it was better for them to think that. It was better for them to pretend that she wasn't broken, never to be whole again. It was better that way for everyone.
"Aurora, please!" Septima sighed softly. "I understand that his death deeply affected you, but you've been doing so well these past years. You love Alan. You're going to marry him tomorrow. You've moved on, sweetie. You know this."
No. She just became a better liar. Severus would have been proud if he had been there to see it. She was almost a Slytherin now, deceiving everyone just as he had. He had taught her well. Her grip tightened even more when Septima grabbed a hold of her shoulders and tried to pry her from the headstone. She, however, refused to let go.
"Aurora, don't do this. Please?"
She had to. Why didn't Septima realize that? Why was she thinking Aurora had a choice in the matter? She needed Severus, not Alan. She needed the man she loved with all her heart, not some copy.
With a soft grunt, Septima tried once more, yanking Aurora for all she could away from it. However, Aurora's body snapped back when Septima slipped in the mud. Aurora cried out as her temple connected with the side of the headstone, causing her to loosen her grip from the force of the blow. Her vision quickly blurred, and the darkness settled in. Perhaps now she'd be with Severus.
Sounds of someone breathing near her slowly brought her into consciousness. She blinked owlishly, moaning quietly because her head throbbed like none other. She frowned when she caught the cold blue eyes staring down at her. She should have known that Septima would have brought her here.
"Mother," she said with a frown.
"Child," her mum replied, her eyes narrowing even more on her. "Drink this." A millisecond later, she thrust into Aurora's hand a potion bottle. She sighed heavily when Aurora drank it not long after. "You were at that grave again, weren't you?" Her tone was full of disapproval. Then again, it was rare to hear any other sort of tone from her mother than that. "Of course you were. You are always at that man's grave."
"I can do without your condescending attitude, Mother." She then attempted to sit up, only to be shoved back down. She growled quietly, glaring at her.
"You can do without loads of things it would seem except him." Her mother's frown deepened before she shook her head, her long blond curls bouncing softly. "You love him. I understand this. Your heart broke when—"
"Oh, please," Aurora drawled snottily. "You don't understand a damn thing, Mother. Now, if you'll forgive me, I do believe I have a wedding to ready myself." She brushed off her mother's attempts to push her back down again, glaring at the witch. She ignored the pounding in her head as she stood a moment later. She needed to get to the church, if only to keep the act going.
"Do you love this . . . Muggle?"
She whirled around when her mother's words reached her ears. Her dark eyes glared at her as she clenched her teeth angrily. She felt oddly defensive for Alan, even though she truly didn't care all that much for him. It wasn't anything personal, though.
"I wouldn't be marrying him, Mother, if I didn't love him," she growled before turning back to Apparate herself far from her family manor. She turned back, though, a moment later. "And his name is Alan, Mother, not Muggle or any other such filth you want to call him. You best remember that since he'll be your son-in-law soon."
"I doubt that," her mother replied quietly, "but very well. I apologize."
Aurora shook her head, though, Apparating herself out of Windsor with a harsh crack. Ugh! Sometimes she just wanted to use an Unforgivable on that horrible hag of a mother of hers. Where was she to come all high and mighty anyway? She wasn't even coming to her own daughter's wedding. Not that Aurora was complaining about that.
When she reappeared in her flat, she sighed, glancing around. Septima, it seemed, had stolen her wedding dress. The crazy light-brown haired witch was likely talking everyone into postponing the wedding, which would only make this harder. Aurora clenched her teeth, shaking her head. She didn't want to postpone it. She just wanted it over.
So, turning, she quickly rushed out of her flat, down the hall, descended down the stairs, and out onto the sidewalk. Luckily, the church wasn't far from home. She headed off for the two minute walk, madder than a hornet. What did it matter anyway if she loved Alan or not? It wasn't as if he cared about her. Sure, he called to check up on her, but that was it. Hell, he likely only wanted to marry her because he thought she was good in bed or something. He didn't care. No one in her life cared. So what did it matter if she loved him or if she was just using him? Hell, he likely was using her. So what?
She silently walked up the steps to the church, entering a moment later. She forced herself to smile when she saw one of Alan's friends in his tuxedo. The wedding wasn't off yet.
"Ouch. Hen night get a little out of hand last night?"
"It's nothing, Matt," she replied, shrugging. "Is Alan around?"
"Oh, no you don't. It's bad luck for the groom to see his bride. In you go," Matt said, gently prodding her into the bride's room. "Your dress is in there already. Your friend brought it."
"She's not around, is she?"
"Last I saw, she was talking to your dad about something. Want me to get her?"
"No. It's fine." She turned to get ready, only to stop. "Actually, Matt, I'd appreciate it if you don't tell her that I'm here." She kissed his cheek, shuddering inside, before she closed the door. Somehow through her grief, she had lost herself along the way. Idly, she wondered if she'd ever find herself again. She then scoffed as she caught her reflection. If this wedding was truly based on love and all that crap, she'd have cared that she had a goose egg the size of Black Lake on the side of her head. But this wedding was far from love. It was . . . well, perhaps a marriage of convenience worked. She needed everyone off her back, and Alan, like most Muggle men she knew, needed a trophy wife.
She closed her eyes when she saw her white, pristine dress. It shouldn't have been like this. She shouldn't have been here, marrying a Muggle that she cared so little for. But she was. She drew in a slow breath. The dress really was perfect in every way. Any woman would have died to wear it. She carefully withdrew her wand, flicking it once to switch her clothes with it. She felt her lips quirk slightly when she caught her reflection a moment later in the mirror. This would have been a dress she'd have worn to her wedding with . . .
Clenching her teeth, Aurora shook her head angrily. Alan was not Severus. He'd never be anywhere close to him. He didn't deserve to see her in this dress. She set her wand down on the vanity table before grabbing a handful of the gauzy sleeves and ripping them off. She then tore the long satin skirt in various places, making it into an outfit a belly dancer would wear. When she finished effectively destroying her wedding dress into shreds of cloth, she sighed contently. She'd certainly get a reaction from some, but Alan likely wouldn't say a word. He'd probably even tell her that as long as it was what she wanted, then he wouldn't get in her way. Niceties, she didn't want niceties. She wanted to hear snarky remarks about how she looked like a common whore. She wanted to hear growls of how idiotic she was. She wanted to hear dark sarcasm that made most people cry. She wanted . . . Severus. She wanted him, not Alan, not that son of a bitch, but she had to do this. She had to do this for them. It was what they wanted. Who was she to argue? She was nothing, just a shell.
A knock against her door made her close her eyes. If it was Septima, she was going to punch the witch. She, however, inhaled slowly, just in case it wasn't.
"Enter," she spoke loudly. Her eyes glanced down involuntarily out of shame when her father walked in. It was hard lying to him about how 'well' she was doing.
"My, Muggles are quite interesting, aren't they?" her father said softly as he stared at her dress. "Perhaps I could mend it for you. He'd be none the wiser."
"No." She shook her head instantly. "No, Dad, it's fine. I like it." She watched the sadness enter his warm chocolate eyes instantly. "Septima told you?"
"That you went to see Severus this morning?" he replied quietly. "Yeah, she told me." He frowned slightly before he ran a hand through his now salt-and-pepper hair. "Aura, I know you'll just say you're fine, but, sweetheart, you're not."
"Dad, really, I am. I just . . . I needed some closure."
"And you think that bump on your head gave you that?"
"Of course not, but I spoke to him, well, his grave. I can move on, Dad. I'll show you." She whispered in her head million and one prayers to Circe that her father would just take her word. She hated lying to him, but she had to do it.
"Sweetheart, you don't . . . never mind." He shook his head sadly. "You're an adult, and you know yourself probably better than I do now. So, if you think you're fine, then I believe you."
"Thank you, Dad." The smile she gave her father was much easier and less forced. "What do you think of Alan?"
"I think he's going to be rather surprised to learn he's marrying a witch."
"That's not my life anymore, Dad," she quietly whispered, glancing down at the floor.
"You know," her dad started to say, inhaling as he glanced out a window. "I remember when you told me that you needed some time to think after Severus died. I recall thinking that it might do you some good to get away from everything for a bit. A few weeks later, I received that owl that stated you had resigned from Hogwarts and were going to live among Muggles. I can remember convincing myself that you just needed some time alone. So, I gave you my blessing. A few months later, you stopped visiting me all together, only writing. Then the letters stopped coming too, and I remember trying to find you. But you hid yourself away from all of us for years. For nights, I'd wake up out of a dead sleep, wondering if you had been killed. And then that letter came, telling me you had met someone, that you were sorry for not writing me, and that you were getting married in just a few days. And I recall thinking how everything's going to be all right now."
"Dad, it is!"
"Then why aren't you smiling on what should be the happiest day of your life?" His eyes narrowed on her when she didn't answer. "You know what I think? I think you still love Severus, and that you're just doing all this for us. I think your heart is still broken, and I think you just don't care anymore. And that, my baby girl, scares me more than anything in the world."
"Dad, I love Alan."
"No, baby girl, you don't."
"You may tolerate him. You may even have some sort of feeling for him, but you don't love him. No one can transfer feelings of such affection, devotion, as you had for Severus that quickly. Baby girl, you don't love Alan. And I bet you know this." He then inhaled slowly, raising a hand to cut her off when she opened her mouth to speak. "But you are my daughter. So, I'll be here for you then, just as a father should be. However, I want you to know this, Aurora. I hope to Merlin above that something stops this wedding. Not just because I think this whole thing is an act, but because I want you to be my baby girl again, not this . . . thing you're acting like for us. And if Severus was ten times the wizard you and that young Mr. Potter claim he was, then I know that there is a chance of that. Because I doubt that young man was too oblivious to notice how much you loved him. And I doubt he'd stand by as you threw your life away on making everyone else happy." Her dad then kissed her cheek before silently walking out of her chambers.
Eight years, and finally someone showed he cared. Of course she knew her father cared what happened to her. He was her dad. Any good father would. But it still made her feel hopeful. Sure, he had pretty much told her that he knew she was faking everything, but he had said that he was still going to be there for her. How many people had said that? Septima was a life debt and possibly still her friend, but her dad was the one who counted the most. He was the one man in her life that she still had.
The veil covered her face, shielding her from their prying eyes. She was thankful for that. Closing her eyes, she slowly walked towards Alan, feeling her heart clenching painfully. She wasn't supposed to be here, marrying him. She didn't love him. She loved Severus.
Drawing in a slow breath, she remembered the last time she had seen her true love alive. It had haunted her for years, knowing that what could have been was ripped from her. They had met the day before the Final Battle for drinks in Hogsmeade. They had, of course, needed to reschedule it a few times since Severus was the Headmaster of Hogwarts at the time. But she understood how busy he was, just grateful that he accepted.
She was so nervous around him, practically on pins and needles. She recalled her idiotic worries about her choice of wine. Sure, she had seen Severus drink it before, but perhaps he had wanted something a bit stiffer. He, however, said nothing in complaint about it. They had chatted idly about silly little things at first, if her dreaded mother had written him as Syra had promised she would. She was quite glad to find out that her mother hadn't. Worry then crept into his obsidian eyes as the silence filtered in after a few students had noticed them while they walked past the window. She recalled trying to make him feel better, but ultimately in her opinion failing in the end.
A soft smile etched her lips as she remembered his remark about him not counting Sybill out entirely as being a fraud. Her playfulness had made an appearance, causing her to joke that Sybill predicting that he'd find himself in love with a long haired witch with mesmerizing eyes was likely Minerva. He didn't speak with her for several moments afterward. When he did, though, he had pouted (something she still found rather uncharacteristic, even though she knew he had lowered his mask with her) and stated that she'd clearly have to make it up to him somehow.
She had been so afraid to do what she had wanted to do for years. To be honest, at that point, she wasn't quite sure if he was being sarcastic or not, so she hesitated and kept attempting to figure out if he was joking. If she'd had a do-over, she might have just asked him flat out if he was being sarcastic instead of acting like a complete imbecile.
His words about the battles between the two noble Houses echoed in her mind then. He likely was right. Her self-preservation kept her from nearly everything. Hell, she hadn't even fought in the Final Battle. In fact, she hid . . . like a coward as hundreds of people were killed.
She hated Death Eaters. Severus was the exception of course, but she hated them with a passion and had for decades. She was an Order member, one of Dumbledore's secret Slytherins. However, she wasn't exactly visibly active by any means. Dumbledore had only sent her on a few raids, about five she counted, but only as a last resort when Emmeline Vance would be unable to participate. In fact, he specifically instructed her never to lower her hood when on raids to ensure that the other Order members wouldn't know the truth. So, only Minerva (her long-time mentor), Poppy (someone she owed over and over again for saving her life when things went sour), and Alastor Moody (her partner on raids) knew the truth. Hell, Severus likely knew also, but he never said a word.
Oh, that kiss she gave him. Truthfully, it was horrible. She had practically assaulted him, likely even bruised him, but she needed him caught off guard. So, grabbing his outer robes and yanking him was the only solution she could think of at the time. She remembered pulling back a second later, expecting him to hex her to hell and back. Severus hadn't, though. In fact, he stared at her for awhile before he kissed her. She, of course, was convinced she was dreaming then, waiting for Septima to wake her from her dream. Only it wasn't a dream. It was happening.
That second kiss, the one he initiated, was positively mind blowing. Circe, they were like teenagers again, snogging in the Three Broomsticks for all to see and not caring whatsoever. They weren't Headmaster and Astronomy mistress. They weren't even Snape and Sinistra. They were Severus and Aurora, innocent and free. Well, at least until she had to pull back just to ensure they didn't die from oxygen deprivation. She could barely form coherent sentences, reveling in the feelings swirling around her. This was Severus, her love, the man she'd lay her life down for. Hell, she had only fancied him for twenty-four years after all. Was it any wonder then she couldn't think?
They played their familiar cat-and-mouse game afterward, daring the other to make the next decision as where to go from there. She didn't want to decide, fearing that she'd make a mistake and he'd leave. He clearly didn't want to decide either. But she still wasn't certain if that was because he know how frustrating it was to her or if he too was fearful ruining it.
Truthfully, it was rather idiotic, though. They were adults. If things went sour, they were mature enough to handle it without hexes being cast or anything. Or hell, there was always the option involving an Obliviate or two.
She then suggested that they go for a walk around the grounds. She didn't care that a storm was approaching. The storm could be damned for all she cared. She was with Severus. They headed towards the boulder by the lake, her head resting against him as they walked. It was peaceful, comforting. She then suggested that he could show her his amazing skipping stone prowess. That had gone over like a Bludger to the head, though. He clearly didn't want to have any part in that, though, offering instead that he tell her about some interesting variation on Veritaserum he had been researching. She unfortunately knew how hurt he'd be if she wasn't as excited as he was about it. She just could not for the life of her understand anything about Potions. Hell, she had received a Troll.
Time, however, had slipped away without her realizing. They didn't skip rocks across the lake. She didn't even get to hear his voice as he told her all about his latest experiment. Instead, she kissed him good night, flirting with him for the last time that he'd have to see the next day if she chose snogging or just talking with him. However, she hadn't seen him the next day. She had remained in her tower, worried sick that something terrible would happen. And something terrible did happen.
She recalled Harry's words how Severus had died. She remembered falling to her knees, sobbing hysterically. She'd never see him again. Why? Why hadn't she gone to see him that day? Why had she just stayed there in her godforsaken tower? They should have run away together, far away. But Severus was brave, everything she was not. He traveled the hardest path one could and did so for the witch he had lost all those years back. He was Lily's and always would be. So, she ensured that he'd be buried next to his lost love, so they could be together forever just as he wanted. She knew he would have liked that. It was how it had to be in the end.
Standing next to Alan now, she forced a smile to her face. The priest smiled back at her before he turned to address the crowd. She made no reaction, no noise. She just stood there in hopes that time would somehow speed up so it would be over.
"Rora, I love the alterations to your dress," Alan whispered beside her. His eyes devoured her.
"Welcome, friends and family of this joyous couple," announced the priest, a thin man with strawberry blond hair. "We are gathered today to witness a most blissful ceremony of love between this man and this woman." He then gave a short laugh. "Let's get to the vows shall we."
Aurora closed her eyes in relief. At least Alan had listened to her when she told him to make the wedding short as possible. She then inhaled slowly.
"Do you, Alan Manrick, take this lovely woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
She glanced towards her fiancé, just barely keeping the frown from her face as Alan squeezed her hands. She understood how happy he was. Really, she was glad for him, but he didn't need to rub it into her face.
"I do, Father."
"And do you, Aurora Sinistra, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Thousands of voices screamed in her head. She ignored them, though. Drawing in a slow breath, she sealed her fate.
Within seconds, she felt something snap inside. Why had she said yes? She didn't love Alan. She tolerated him. That was it. Personally, she wished he just vanished from her life if she was being honest.
"If there are any objection as to why this couple should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace."
Time ticked slowly in her mind as she waited. Seconds felt like days. The priest smiled at her again with that familiar cocky grin that she so desperately wanted to wipe off his face. She watched the priest open his mouth to pronounce Alan and her as man and wife, only the priest's hazel eyes widened into saucers as if something strange had just occurred. The sounds of people gasping then echoed around the church, forcing her to turn around.
Her mouth dropped as she stared at the ethereal doe standing in the doorway. It couldn't be . . .
"Severus?" she whispered, yanking her hand out of Alan's instantly.
"What in the nine hells is that . . . thing?" her fiancé asked horrified.
She stepped down into the aisle, heading towards the Patronus she had long since seen. It couldn't be him. He had died. She had buried him, but it was his. She noticed the surprised looks from the highly Muggle audience, so clearly she wasn't hallucinating.
"Help . . . me. Veil . . ."
Severus's voice ricocheted throughout the pews. She felt her knees weaken instantly, nearly sending her to the floor. Luckily, someone had caught a hold of her and kept her upright. The Patronus repeated its message, weaker than before and fading slowly.
"Let's go, Aurora," a brisk, stern voice commanded.
She didn't hesitate for a moment or even look to see who had a hold of her. She followed the doe, forgetting all about Alan. That was Severus's. She knew it was. She felt the warmth from the sun on her a moment later followed by the familiar feeling of Apparation. She said nothing, just followed.
Her eyes narrowed when they reappeared in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic. She turned her head slightly to figure out what was going on, but stopped when she saw the doe in front of them heading towards the elevators. She and her companion slowly entered it, minding the doe.
"Department of Mysteries," the voice announced a second later. The person held onto her tight as the elevator zoomed off to its destination. "Come on, Aurora," the voice whispered. "We have to move now."
Had it stopped? She hadn't noticed. All she saw was the faded doe leading them. A moment later, she felt the person helping her suddenly gasp. There were voices, hundreds of voices speaking near them. However, they weren't loud. In fact, it was as if they were background noise.
"Help . . ." Severus's garbled voice whispered. The doe vanished into a tranquil wispy waterfall arch in front of them a second later.
The Veil, where souls went after they died, stood majestically before them. Aurora inhaled a shaky breath. She could hear the voices of the souls, catching Severus's (or whom she believed to be) voice every now and then. Was this a trick? An attempt to drive her mad?
"You hear them too, right?" she quietly asked.
"Yes," her companion replied quietly.
"Hel . . ."
She pushed away her companion's arm. Severus's voice was weaker now as if he was barely there. She felt the person grab her as she attempted to reach out and touch the Veil. However, she fought against the attempt. She'd take death if it meant she could be with him again. After all, he was calling to her. Wasn't that what he wanted?
Her fingers were mere centimeters from the ethereal like water of souls. She could feel the charge of magic surrounding her. But still she reached forward, wanting to be with him. A crackling noise, however, filled the air before something struck her in the chest and sent her flying back. She cried out when she slammed hard against the ground a moment later. She glanced towards it, hoping to catch a glimpse of who struck her. Only her breath caught in her throat. Something was emerging from the Veil.
"Severus?" she whispered, barely audible. She then heard a thump as a small white cocoon dropped in front of the Veil. There was singing, a soft haunting melody coming from it. She felt herself tremble as she stared.
"What in Circe's good name . . . ?"
Aurora then noticed her mentor beside her with Septima and Aurora's father entering. They were all staring at the small cocoon in complete disbelief. Soft indiscernible sounds then floated to them from the area of it. She drew in a slow breath, attempting to stand to walk over to the object. Her father, however, quickly wrapped an arm around her and kept her still as Minerva slowly picked the cocoon up.
"What is it?" Aurora turned her head to catch a better glimpse as her mentor pulled back the tightly woven threads of material. Some sort of liquid seeped onto the floor, but no one said a word.
"Minerva, what is it?"
"It's, well, it's an infant, a male I believe," her mentor replied, brushing aside the mess left from the cocoon.
"I don't know." Minerva's green eyes then glanced towards her. "We'll take him to Poppy straight away and find out, though." She looked towards Aurora's dad. "Orin, if you will please."
Once more, Aurora felt Disapparation. She said nothing when they reappeared in the middle of the hospital wing. Obviously the anti-Apparation wards had been removed sometime during the last eight years. She felt . . . different, out of sorts, being there.
"Minerva, I thought you were—" The matron's voice quickly vanished as her eyes noticed the small infant in the other witch's arms. "Is that a child you're holding?"
"I need you to compare his DNA to Severus's," replied Minerva, seemingly brushing off the question entirely.
"What? Why on Earth would I do that?"
"Just do it, Poppy."
Aurora inhaled slowly as she watched Madam Pomfrey's wand trail down the small babe in Minerva's arms. Her heart beat rapidly while she waited. She wasn't quite sure this is what she meant by having Severus return, but she wasn't going to look a gift elf in a tree or whatever that saying was.
"Goodness gracious, it . . . How?" Poppy's head snapped up. "Minerva McGonagall, you better start explaining this moment," she growled.
"Severus's Patronus," Aurora softly whispered, staring at the infant. "It wanted us to go to the Veil. It's him, isn't it? It's Severus."
"Yes. He's, well, a newborn, if you could believe that." Poppy frowned, shaking her head. "How in the world did you manage to bring him back?"
"I don't know." She inhaled slowly, gently running a finger against his rosy cheeks. She smiled when he opened his eyes, blinking owlishly up at her. "He's adorable."
"Hmm," Pomfrey softly said a moment later. "His body attempts to be re-aging itself."
"Re-aging? How is that possible?"
"I haven't the slightest, Minerva." The matron's wand slowly waved across the little one's chest then as she seemed to be checking something. "Every two weeks, he'll be a year older, though, by my estimate. So, in twenty months, he'll be back to his correct age." She then frowned, pressing her wand against her lips as she contemplated something. "He's going to need fed, of course. I'll see if I can find some baby formula for him. Though, someone will need, well, to babysit him for awhile."
Aurora opened her mouth to speak, but Minerva cut her off. Her eyes widened when she heard her mentor state that she'd watch Severus. To say she was shocked was an understatement. Minerva with Severus was a really bad idea. On the best of days, they were at each other's throats. However, it wasn't as if she could take him. That would just be too awkward for all, considering that they were romantically involved prior to . . . the event.
"Minerva, are you sure? You're not quite as young as you used to be."
"Oh, please, Poppy. I think after being a Headmistress for this long qualifies me as being able to care for him." She then laughed softly, lowering her voice. "And it gives me the opportunity to put him in little Gryffindor nappies."
"Merlin save us," Pomfrey mumbled.
"Hmm, I think I have the perfect little outfit for you, Severus." Minerva then gently snaked her hand into her robes before she withdrew her wand and tapped it against him. She smiled widely when an outfit with a lion in the middle appeared on him. "Who's a cute little baby? You are." She laughed.
"If he recalls any of his memories, Min, he's going to murder you. You do realize that, right?"
"Poppy, I think I can handle a cute little baby who doesn't have his magic fully yet."
Aurora laughed loudly, listening to the two witches. Soon tears streamed down her face. He was back. Her sweet Severus was back, alive and well. She was luckily patient, so she knew that once he was back to his snarky self, all would be well in the world again. For now, it was close, but not quite there yet. She wiped the tears from her eyes, still laughing softly. He was back with her.
A/N: See? Happy ending? Sev's alive. All is finally well. :D If only, J.K. could have kept Severus alive. Thanks for reading.