Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR…more's the pity.

Flickering Candles

It was better this way.

Far better.

Yes, the fact that it had gone forgotten once again hurt slightly, especially given how his circumstances had changed in the past year. Really, he had not expected fanfare or flocks of congratulatory owls.

No, it was for the best.

Why remember the passing of another year? One was much the same as another

Sitting down at the Head Table in the Great Hall, Professor Severus Snape looked angrily over the empty tables of the four houses. It was far too early in the morning to expect any students…even the Headmaster was not up yet.

He glanced at the memorial that stood in one corner of the Great Hall. A dignified cenotaph dedicated to the memory of those who had fallen in the final battle against Voldemort. Severus could read the names by heart although some affected him more than others.

Regret. Always regret. Things he should have done that he would never have the chance to do again.

Tell Longbottom that he was sorry for making Potions such a terror for him.

Tell the Weasley twins that their antics made the school year far less tedious than he would ever have let anyone believe.

Tell Finnegan that the opportunity to grow up in a loving family was more important than whether or not he was a pureblood.

Tell Potter that he was everything like his father and nothing like his father.

Severus sighed as he massaged his temples. So many regrets.

"Severus?" A small voice roused him from his reverie.

"Yes?" He answered without turning around.

"You left our bedroom with hardly a word…I was afraid that I had upset you," delicate fingers rested on his shoulders.

"You did nothing wrong…I simply could not sleep any longer."

"Well that is one matter resolved. I have brought you something."

Curiosity made Severus turn and his eyes widened in surprise. On a small golden plate was a cauldron cake, his favourite wizarding confection, with three small candles burning brightly.

"I…did not…"

"You thought I would forget? Severus, there is very little that I do not know about you and, although I respect your need for privacy, you cannot expect me to let the day go by without any sort of acknowledgement."

"Thank you. It is very thoughtful of you."

"No, it is very loving of me. Now, make a wish and blow out the candles." She set the little plate down on the table directly in front of him.

"Is that a muggle tradition?"

"Yes, it is…now, make a wish…the candles are charmed to stay lit until you do."

Severus smiled and pulled his wife into a warm embrace. "I already have you, what else could I possibly wish for?"

She caressed his cheek softly and looked at him…cinnamon eyes and obsidian eyes locked in a gaze of love. His eyes widened in an unasked question and she nodded shyly.

"Are you certain?" He asked, scarcely daring to believe that this most cherished wish of his could possibly come to be.

Again, that shy nod and he pulled her into a fierce embrace.

Neither one noticed the flickering candles that flamed brightly for a moment and then were extinguished.

"Are you happy with this unexpected gift, Severus?" She asked with tears in her eyes.

He let go of her and looked at her intently. He smiled as he looked at her abdomen and passed a hand protectively over it.

"Yes, Hermione."

And he embraced her again, silently thanking the deities above…for sparing her…for sparing himself…for the present and for the future.

A future lit…by the light of flickering candles.

A/N: An odd little piece to say the least but it is my birthday today (July 14) and my hubby and children are the most precious parts of my life. Happy birthday to me…all I want is a gift-wrapped Potions Master!!!!