September 1998

The late summer sun bathed Hermione as she made her way across the grounds. Her feet led her to her destination automatically, following the same path that she took every day. Her mind was therefore free to wander, and wander it did: to memories of her school days, to visions of her future, to reflections on the changes in her life over the past few weeks. Thoughts of the final battle, however, were banished in the bright sunlight and whispering wind.

The grass swished softly beneath her feet as she reached her goal. The inky black marble of the tomb nearly exactly matched his eyes. As she approached the cool stone, she noticed - not for the first time - the way all sound fell away in the small clearing where his and Dumbledore's tombs were. It was almost as though even Nature herself was awed by the powerful wizards put to rest here.

Hermione sat in her customary spot beneath the tree near the monument. It had been her idea to plant it here. She suspected that Snape would hate it, but she'd known from the beginning that she would need a place to sit when she made her frequent visits to this hallowed spot. All of Snape's monument had been her idea, actually, from the inscription - "I can teach you to brew glory, bottle fame, even put a stopper in death" - to the placement of the tomb itself - next to Dumbledore's, not behind.

Sighing deeply, she fingered the small vial she kept in her pocket at all times. It was a deep green color and was simply labeled: "Amortentia, 1991 (HJG?)". She'd discovered it while cleaning out Snape's old chambers, and her initials had caught her eye, since they had clearly been written in many years after the date the potion was brewed. She wasn't sure why this bottle had been singled out and stored in the heavily locked part of the cabinet... Just one more mystery surrounding the man that had been Severus Snape, she supposed.

Uncapping the vial, she inhaled deeply, closing her eyes. She'd kept it for herself after uncorking it the first time. She had not been prepared for the overwhelming reminder of him, that was for certain. The scents of pine needles, expensive ink, and hot pewter cauldrons had nearly brought her to her knees at the first sniff. The bout of tears that followed had only been stopped when Harry and Ron had come looking for her after she failed to show up to breakfast.

Shaking herself, Hermione rose and moved forward to place her customary kiss upon the unyielding onyx marble before heading back to the castle. If the others knew how much time she spent here, at his graveside, they would surely commit her to St. Mungo's immediately, but she didn't care. It was her own tribute to a man that had in turns infuriated her and fascinated her, but always, always, looked out for her.

Stepping back, a movement at the edge of the clearing caught her eye.

"When are we going to tell them about you, Severus?" she asked calmly, turning to face the man now gliding out of the brush.

His eyes were hard as ever as they stared at his tombstone. "Now is not the time, Hermione," he said, his constant refrain to her questioning.

She shivered at the sound of his voice. She imagined it would affect her for the rest of her life - it was not a voice that one grew to take for granted. That same voice could terrify, command, seduce, instruct, inspire: she was eternally thankful that Nagini's bite had not, after all, destroyed it completely.

"If you say so," she replied simply. "I've got to head back - it's nearly dinner. Will I see you tomorrow?"

One shoulder lifted in a jerky shrug. His eyes never left the grave as she turned and made her way back to the castle. Hermione tucked the Amortentia back into her pocket and hoped that tomorrow would be the day he'd change his mind.

A/N: Syrup of Hellebore is used in the Draught of Peace, and furthermore, legend has it that it is used by witches to summon demons - take that however you like with this chapter. This epilogue is entirely un-beta'd, as I realized I couldn't bear to kill him off entirely. Let this chapter also serve as a PSA for my latest work - a companion piece, of sorts, to this one. I've just started writing it and look forward to getting at least a chapter or two published soon. In the meantime, I am still not JK Rowling, despite my best attempts to brew a real Polyjuice.