This one-shot is a part of the Sunday One-Hour challenge on Underground Fanfictioners. The prompt this Sunday was "picnicking" and as soon as I saw the word, this idea came to mind. I hope you enjoy it. I was in tears as I was writing the ending and I could barely see the document as I was typing because I was crying so hard.
Watching the sunrise on May the third was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen. As soon as the sun broke the horizon, there were no regrets. All that he had been worrying about slipped from his mind.
He wasn't like most men. He didn't celebrate the New Year on January 1st like everyone else in the country. Instead, he celebrated it on May 3rd, because that was truly the start of a new year for him. There was no special meaning behind January 1st. It was simply the day when the number of the year changed. That was it. May third, however, was the day after everything had come to light. After all his secrets had been revealed. May 2nd had been the final day of his life and represented the past. May 3rd represented the future, where he would no longer be judged by the scar he bore.
Silently, the dark-haired man set down the materials in his hands. The blanket was unfolded and set on the ground by hand. There would be no magic used today. The man fidgeted with the blanket until it was laid out perfectly, with no bumps in the middle and no edges or corners curled up. Then the basket was opened and all of the food was laid out. Each plate had its place on the blanket, just like each wrapped particle of food had a plate that it belonged to.
The sun was fully above the horizon by the time he was satisfied with how everything looked. It was a simple layout but it was perfect. There were no mistakes. Nothing was even the slightest bit out of place. Only when he was satisfied did the man take his seat on the blanket. There was room for one more but he wasn't sure if that spot would ever be filled. It hadn't been in years past but this was the first year that he celebrated his new year on this particular day. Before he had always celebrated it on Halloween, in his chambers. It had been cold and alone. It had been fitting.
The food remained untouched for the longest time. The sun had continued its journey through the sky and was nearing the highest point in the sky before he even considered touching the food. His body could take the lack of nourishment no longer. Before, his needs had been pushed away by the memories that had overwhelmed him but no he could no longer do that. The dark-haired man reached for the first bit of food, a tiny grape. Before he could pick it off, a large cracking noise caused him to look behind, back towards the looming school that had never looked the same since October 31, 1981.
He raised an eyebrow at the source of the noise.
"Clumsy as ever, I see," he remarked. His voice was naturally sarcastic. He had always found it easier to make cutting comments than comforting words. He wasn't meant for certain experiences in life and most of those revolved around being a caretaker. How he had managed as a teacher was beyond belief.
"I was wondering where you got to. I didn't want you to go off and do something stupid." The younger man replied, brushing off the dust from his robes where he had fallen.
"Like going off to face a Dark Lord on my own?" The elder of the two remarked. The younger one laughed.
"I think we're both at fault for that one," he agreed. "I can't remember how many times I did that."
"Nor can I."
"Can I sit?" The dark-haired teacher looked up at the younger man, who was pointing to the empty spot on the blanket. Like always, he was struck by the familiarity of the green eyes. They sparkled in the sunlight and he wondered just how much the boy knew he was like his mother.
"I suppose. It's not like there is anyone else, contending to take the spot."
With that invitation, the boy who he had watched grow into a man plopped onto the blanket, messing up his carefully laid out order.
"I couldn't sleep last night," the boy admitted after a few minutes of silence. "I haven't been able to sleep for the past couple of nights. Everyone wanted to party last night and I just wanted to be left alone."
It was understandable. The boy probably had different memories of May 2nd than everyone else did. The people who partied were the ones who had survived but that boy had experienced death and had come back to tell the tale. He probably had a different outlook on the subject than everyone else did.
"Then I saw you before dawn. I wanted to follow you at the time but I figured you wouldn't take kindly to me interrupting. You never have."
That was true.
"But then you didn't come back and I got worried. I thought…"
The older man snorted.
"I can assure you that I can take care of myself," he said. The green-eyed boy smiled.
"I knew you would say that. You're quite easy to figure out. Most people are once you've known them for a bit."
The silence resumed. The two sat in silence for hours. Nothing needed to be said between them. They both knew what the other wanted.
"I wanted to thank you," the boy finally said when the silence became more overbearing than comfortable.
"Thank me? For what?"
"For always being there. For doing whatever you could to make sure I stayed out of trouble and for making it clear that I should be punished whenever I got into trouble. You tried to make sure I had as much as a normal childhood as possible and trying to prevent others from giving me special treatment."
That was an odd thing to be thankful for.
"My aunt and uncle never punished my cousin and he turned out awful. If it wasn't for you, I probably would have ended up like him."
Ah. Now things made more sense. The boy believed that he had prevented him from becoming everything he had feared to become.
"You know. There's always been one father figure in my life. One person I would do anything just to hear the words 'I'm proud of you, boy.' Contrary to what most people think, it wasn't Professor Dumbledore or Mr. Weasley. Professor Dumbledore was more like a grandfather to his students, content to sit back and watch them make mistakes, saying that it would be a learning experience."
That was true. That was one of the things that had aggravated him most about the man.
"Mr. Weasley was more of an uncle. I wanted to make him proud but it was never the same."
There was silence for another minute.
"You were my father figure," the boy got up the courage to admit it. "I did everything I could. I tried my best to succeed and when that didn't work, I acted up. All I wanted was for you to be proud of me. You were more of a father to me than anyone ever was or could have been. Even James Potter."
The hook-nosed man didn't know what to say to that.
"Don't say things like that. You can never know what things could have been like," he finally said. The boy looked away. Clearly that was not what he wanted to hear.
"Every year, my father would take me on picnics," the older man said. "I looked forward to them and was crushed when they stopped."
The green-eyed boy looked at him again.
"They stopped when I went to Hogwarts. As soon as I went to Hogwarts, I was no longer his son. When your mother found out, she made sure that we had a picnic every year, even after she married your father. It wasn't the same though. It wasn't that father-son experience. When she died, I did them alone, every year on Halloween. I didn't think I would have anyone to ever share them with again."
It was clear that the boy didn't know what to say. It was probably the most personal and private thing he had ever heard the man admit to. Severus Snape pushed one of the plates closer to the boy.
"Eat up. Let's finish this before it gets too dark."
Harry Potter's eyes sparkled. He knew what the man was trying to say.
Less than an hour later, the food was gone and the blankets were packed back into the basket. The sun was beginning to set as they headed back. The front doors of Hogwarts loomed closer with every step they took. They were nearly at the stairs when Severus Snape grabbed his former student by the arm. There was one last thing he had to admit.
"I'm proud of you, boy. I always have been."