The Lily and the Onyx

Every year, on Christmas and Halloween, Harry came to his grave. The man who had saved his life over and over, but had never been thanked. Not once, when he was alive, anyway. He felt the familiar clench as he saw the grave, ebony-colored stone, etched only with the date and name in English lettering, half covered with a white Christmases blessing. The inscription would be intelligible to anyone who hadn't taken Ancient Runes in school. Hermione had told him the letters needed, and, like a good friend, hadn't asked why.

It read; "Spy he may have been

But this Slytherin

Had more courage

Then has ever been

For a Gryffindor.

Severus Snape

Feared and Revered

Forevermore

Harry heard a rustle in the bush. A young black haired girl poked her head out of the tree into Godric's Hollow cemetery.

"Merlin!" Harry yelped, "Vivian, you are supposed to be at the Burrow, with everyone else!"

The fourteen year old smirked. And then Viv grew serious, "Seriously, I can't stand Granma Molly. She's so… so… so… stifling. She's nice, but…"

"I know. Feeling stuck?"

A nod.

"I was just visiting an old war friend."

"Dead?"

It was just like Al's pal to be so blunt. He looked at her wearily, a birdlike girl who still looked younger than she should be. Her black hair, so like the man he'd come to visit, was very long, down to her waist when bound in its usual thick braid. Someone had braided holly sprigs into her hair, most likely when she wasn't looking. Vivian just wasn't the type to do that, as she was mostly stuck on Potions (another similarity) and only occasionally loosened up, mostly if Albus asked. She adored Harry's youngest son.

"Why are you looking at me like that, Harry?"

He was silently glad she wasn't as good a Legillemense as Severus.

"Someone braided holly sprigs into your hair," Harry said, smiling slightly as she made a face.

"Aargh! Probably Rose. She's always doing silly stuff like that," Vivian sighed crossly, black eyes glittering in irritation.

While Vivian pulled all the Holly she could reach out of her hair, Harry smiled at the antics of his niece and his adoptive daughter. They had always quarreled like this, sisters to the end. However, he knew it wasn't Rose this time. He had seen his son James spell it into her hair near the end of the evening.

He placed his yearly tribute while Vivian was still busy, a single white lily and an ebony wood ring on a small spar of black stone. The first spar, white marble, stood for the first ten years after the war, with ten rings still clinking in the wintry breeze. The second, a spar of grey shale, stood for the next ten, and so on. They were near the grave, like decorations.

"This is Severus's grave, isn't it?"

Blast her perception. She really was a lot like Severus Snape, but more like his own Mum, in a way. Ever since he had taken her away from the horrible Muggle orphanage she lived in until second year, she had a quiet respect for him. And, most wonderful and rare of all, she trusted him.

"You know, you can tell me."

"Yes."

"What are the rings for?"

And so he explained. His heart and mind hurt afterwards, like he had reopened a sore that still festered. To his surprise, she awkwardly hugged him.

"Nurse always said that talking made things better. I hope telling me helped you. I… thank you for all you and your family have done for me. I… you're as good as o-o-or b-better than my own dad to me. Thanks."

He silently squeezed her in a hug, an unexpected well opening as he fought it down. But he couldn't hold them any longer. And so he cried, and hugged her close to him. All Harry's sorrows that he had never shared with Ginny poured out, his stupid mistakes and all his misconceptions, especially about Severus, one of his few regrets being he couldn't apologize to him.

After he calmed down, Viv looked at him with those clear, piercing black eyes and said, "I hope I helped. And no, I won't tell Mum about this either, as long as you don't tattle about my present."

Without explaining, she dug in her pockets and pulled out a seed. Kneeling, she dug a small hole in the cold ground, covered the seed, and whispered an incantation. The plant grew at a swift pace, green vines twirling artfully over the gravestone. A single, fiery bloom developed, and then finally bloomed as the spell ran it's course. A single, fire-colored lily hung from a greenest of green vine, with what looked like onyx jewels crowning the center. Harry was amazed. It was perfect.

"A plant I developed. Lilliana Lily, a species of ever-blooming flame lily."

"Amazing…"

A blush stained Viv's sallow cheeks.

"You think he'll like it?"

With a smile, Harry said, "It's perfect. Now let's go home."

"Home. Whatta wonderful word."

"You said it, Vivian."

Arm in arm, fourth year and Father Apparated home, leaving the onyx and the lily to rest in peace for another year.