Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR.

Beloved

The sad-looking group of wizards and witches are gathered around the open grave, oblivious to the rain that is pouring down from an equally mournful sky. The normally colourful robes abandoned for those in sober shades of black or navy blue. There are few flowers…sympathy wreaths from the muggleborn witches and wizards as that is their custom. Fairylights sparkle in iridescent displays of affection from those who have lived in the wizarding community from birth. Differences of custom, united in sorrow.

"This can't be happening," I think to myself in sorrow.

A small procession approaches the group of mourners of which I am a part. They walk solemnly, wands pointed downwards in respect and they levitate a simple wooden coffin which floats along effortlessly among them.

"This isn't real!" I cannot seem to grasp this horrible event…do not want to even acknowledge it…

The coffin does not bear a mark or any means of identifying the person inside. However, the sorrow etched on the faces of the bearers and of the mourners shows that the person had left behind many friends. That surprises me…I would not have expected that.

One, however, is crying violently…great heaving sobs as if her very heart has broken in two…which I know it has.

"I feel so powerless," I think in quiet despair, watching her cry and wishing there were something I could do.

The coffin has come to a rest immediately in front of the frail witch. Her eyes, red-rimmed and weary, take one look at the coffin and throws herself upon it, screaming in anguish…every cry cutting me to the core.

"Useless," I shake my head as tears threaten to spill onto my cheeks…my fists balling in frustration.

Her friends embrace her and pull her back into the group. Several of the older witches and wizards look at her in sympathy and understanding.

The service is short but the words convey such depth of emotion that not a single mourner is left untouched…not even me.

"We gather here today to bring our dear brother back into the earth from which he was born. He was never one to covet personal gain…never one for public recognition. In fact, the fact that we are gathered here at all and speaking well of him would irk him to no small degree."

A brief smattering of laughter…yes, the description is appropriate.

"He was a man who lost his way and yet found the strength to come back to us. He never forgave himself even though we forgave him long ago. When the final battle came, he did not waver but fought bravely and with a cunning that Salazar Slytherin himself would have been impressed with. But Severus would not have cared about that. All he cared about was ridding the world of an evil that had permanently left its mark on him. He did it for love…for his love…his wife, Hermione."

She looks up for a moment and I can see the tears that have yet to be shed. Some women have the misfortune to look truly a sight when they cry. Hermione is not one of those women…if anything, she becomes even more beautiful.

"He loved you a great deal, Hermione. More than anything. More than his own life. I know for a certainty that the day you accepted his proposal of marriage was one of the happiest days he had ever known. The day you wed was another. The day you discovered that you were pregnant was yet another."

The old wizard looks kindly on Hermione and she unconsciously places her hands protectively around the slight swelling of her abdomen.

"What is it that makes a pregnant woman so beautiful?" I wonder quietly.

"Alas, the happy ending was not to be although I am pleased that the Ministry of Magic has taken swift action. Not only has Dementor's Kiss been administered to the perpetrator but the Ministry has also seized this individual's sizable estates and holdings, the process being made easier since his wife and only son perished in the final battle. These will be held in trust for your child, Hermione. It is, I believe, an adequate sentence and I feel that justice has been served."

Again, subtle sounds of approval. But not from her. She is suddenly angry.

"I do not want it," she whispers hatefully. "I will donate it to muggle charities if I have to."

I think I would laugh if it were the place for it.

"Oh, Hermione. I hate to see you so unhappy over this."

"And now it is time for us to return Severus to the earth. We do not come into the world alone and we do not leave the world alone. This is not an end but a beginning. The beginning of Severus living on in our memories. May he do so for many years."

"So be it," comes the quiet reply.

I watch the coffin float to where the open grave is and slowly lower itself into the ground. Each mourner conjures up a flower and, passing the grave in single file, carefully kneels and places the flower on the coffin. Each flower somehow indicative of its owner. I take no note of any of them until it is her turn. She is last and she stands alone for the longest time, hair streaming in the wind, cheeks bathed by her own tears and the tears of heaven itself. Her friends are back a respectful distance but they are watching her…they are worried. So am I.

With a shuddering sigh, she conjures her flower.

A forget-me-not…delicate and lovely. Just like her.

"While you are away from me, Severus, please do not forget about me…about us," she whispers as she kneels kisses the little flower before placing it on top of all the others. She gets up with difficulty. Her expression is so bleak…so full of pain. I cannot bear it. I must have the power to do something…anything…just this once.

Walking up to her, I place my hands on her cheeks and kiss her shaking lips…offering through this merest of touches…comfort…hope…light.

When I pull away, she looks confused but says nothing. I put my finger to my lips. Only this has been granted to me. Only she can see me.

"I cannot stay, Beloved," I whisper.

She nods.

"You know that I love you always and could never forget you?"

Again, a small nod.

I reach down and pick up the little flower she created just for me. I feel myself being pulled away. With every ounce of determination I reach out a hand to caress her cheek and then touch the gentle swell within which is the life we both created.

"Until the next time, Beloved," I whisper and return to my home…my place of light…where I will patiently wait.

Wait for my Beloved.

A/N: This story was inspired by our son. We had to attend a funeral for my husband's Uncle Jack(wonderful man) and we had brought along our son as he knew the man quite well. Our son asked me if the dead people who go to heaven are sad to see their families so sad. He's only 5 and it was a question which shook me.