A/N: This is my first story I'm doing that will be worthy of having other people read, so please be patient with me. Reviews, as always, are highly appreciated! I haven't written in a while so any tips or constructive critisism is also welcomed :) It might be slow going at first, but stick with me, it'll get better, I promise. Short chapter, but they'll get longer, don't worry!
As she marched down the uneven steps, Hermione wondered what she would find in the old boathouse. She had not wanted to go herself, and had pleaded with anyone and everyone to go in her place. But everyone seemed to have other jobs to do. It made sense, she admitted to herself. There was certainly a lot to be done after the battle, but her task was undoubtedly the one she was least willing to do.
"We can't just leave him there, Hermione. If Snape's still there, and I can't see how he wouldn't be, we need to know, and organize a team to bring him back up to the castle and give him a proper funeral," Harry had informed her, with an air of newfound authority.
Hermione sighed. Why did it have to be her? Did they know something of her fretted-over feelings she refused to admit even to herself? Impossible.
As she neared the boathouse, she slowed almost to a complete stop. Terror and nausea enveloped her at the thought of entering the decrepit stone building. Would she find his body? Mangled and starting smell and attract bugs after the few days he had been dead? She had seen him, Harry had spoken to him, mere moments before he had passed. They had witnessed Voldemort setting his vicious snake on him, just to gain the power he wrongly thought Severus had possessed. Hermione wasn't sure she was ready to see what was left of their Potions Master.
Hermione finally gathered enough courage, stepped through the crumbling archway and looked around the dark space. A single, battered rowboat floated dejectedly in the dark water, tied to a post by a fraying rope. The windows, many broken, all clouded and extremely dirty, let in a tiny splattering of light. The young witch squinted to aid her eyes in adjusting to the dark surroundings.
"Professor Snape?" she whispered into the darkness. As soon as she uttered those words, she smiled inwardly at herself, and immediately felt horrible for smiling at a time like this. Even if he was indeed still here, he was certainly in no fit state to answer. Carefully tiptoeing to the wall where he had been murdered, she gave a small gasp. Bloodstains surrounded the area where her professor had lain, but Snape was nowhere to be found.
"S-Severus? What happened to you?" She was mostly speaking to herself at this point, as different emotions raged in a silent battle inside her head. Fear, for what had happened to him? Had Voldemort or another death eater taken him away? Loss, knowing she would never see him again, not even as a dead man. And relief, in knowing she did not have to see the man she had feared and admired, lying on the cold hard ground, dead.
Hermione burst through the doors to the great hall and lurched to a stop, her eyes scanning the room searching for Harry. He was standing near the shattered house point counters, instructing a group of fourth years on their various tasks. She ran over to him, still gasping for air after running all the way from the boathouse.
"He's gone! Vanished! All the bloodstains are still there, nothing missing except for… well, him."
Harry gaped at her, and the fourth years looked back and forth between them, then set off the complete their duties.
"…Gone. Just… disappeared? But how? He certainly didn't have enough strength to drag himself away, he practically died in my arms. D-Do you think… did another Death Eater take him away? Or Voldemort himself, maybe he came back for him?" He scrambled for words, trying to find an explanation.
"I don't know Harry, but whatever it is, we're not getting him back." An intense sense of loss filled Hermione, frustrating her. Stop it. He was just your potions master. You hated him. Alright, he was brilliant, but you still hated him. Get over it. She tried to convince herself, but she knew it was more than that. Stop it! She scolded herself, and turned her focus back to Harry, who was fretting about the news.
"But what will the Daily Prophet say? They expect a detailed description of his life and his efforts in the war, how he was a spy and all that. But they also expect coverage on his funeral! How are we supposed to have one when we don't have… him? And everyone else, they were planning on attending his funeral too. Saying last goodbyes, thank you's, all that. What're we going to do, 'Mione?"
"Harry, it's okay. We can still have a funeral, a memorial of his life. Everybody can still attend; say what they need to say. The Daily Prophet can still cover it," A single tear rolled down Hermione's face, and she rushed to brush it away with her sleeve. She had wanted to have a chance to say goodbye, one last time. To him. Not some memory, or a framed picture on an altar. Him, as dead as he may be.
Harry nodded, an unsatisfied expression on his face as he scurried away to address some other issue. He had become the expert, the Hero, and he now needed to do everything, apparently. Of course, Hermione had her fair share of the attention, but he was still the one, the killer of the Dark Lord and the bringer of happiness to the wizarding world. And she was fine with that.
The funeral was a small affair, with Hogwarts students, teachers, some Daily Prophet reporters, and a few friends. The Malfoy family sat quietly in the back, keeping very much to themselves.
Part way through, Harry got up and made a speech. About how his parents grew up with Snape, how his mother was "good friends" with him. Of course, nothing about how the group of friends tormented him. He spoke of how throughout the war, Snape had been of unfailing fealty to Dumbledore for his entire life, and after his death. Always playing both sides, with such expertise many truly couldn't be sure which side he was really on. Harry told the audience how without Snape, his spy efforts and everything else he did, for Harry and for everyone else, his victory would not have been possible. A standing ovation met the end to his long, heartfelt speech. Before Harry went back to his seat, however, he leaned towards the microphone once more.
"He was horrible to me, and we hated each other, but he was a good man." A few laughed at this, and the clapping continued for several minutes before it finally died down.
The rest of the memorial continued without much eventfulness. Ron, who had been forced to stay with his family since immediately after the battle (while mourning Fred's death) had come for the funeral and escorted Harry and Hermione back to the Burrow after it concluded to stay for the time being.