The Sugar Quill
Author: Rachael DuBois (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Traitor: Epilogue  Chapter: Traitor: Epilogue
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The cemetery was small, and except for wet breezes rustling through the trees, it was quiet

The cemetery was small, and except for wet breezes rustling through the trees, it was quiet. It had rained earlier, leaving a few puddles and oppressive skies in its wake. Only one woman was there.

She wore black, which was not unusual here. Her face was sad and thoughtful, which was also not unusual. The only unusual thing about her, in fact, was her long, black cloak, hanging damp around her shoulders, which made her look older than she actually was. She clasped her hands in front her as she stood at a new grave.

It was a Muggle graveyard, of course--no wizarding one would have held the body laid to rest here.  The Ministry had been most reluctant to even release the body, as if any burial at all would have been inappropriate.  The cemetery was old, the years testified to by the worn, mossy headstones unsystematically strewn about. There were not so many visitors here that it was necessary to pay for much upkeep of the grounds. It was lonely too, cut off from the rest of the world by a strand of fragile trees.  Somehow, it seemed appropriate, though. The man buried here was lonely and solitary.

The woman was quiet as she looked at the freshly turned earth and the black grave marker. She had set the stone with charms that would keep the elements from wearing away at the polished exterior. She felt he would appreciate the preservation of order, and she did not think she could bear to watch the marker degrade with time.  Beneath the smooth surface the stone was flawed here and there with rivulets of gray, giving it depth and character. So much like the man buried here.

The grave had no flowers on it. Most of the other graves around it did not either, for which she was grateful. They would have seemed almost festive, in a day that begged for solemnity. And she did not think he would have wanted them anyway. He had never seen beauty in such fragile, temporary things.

She was pulled away from her thoughts as another person approached. He was tall and thin, with a wild shock of dark hair. She recognized him at once, even at a distance. Everyone knew him. His picture was in every issue of the newspaper, and his story had been told until voices were hoarse.

"I'm glad you could come," she called as he slowed. He didn't know who she was, as they had never met, but there could only be one reason for her to be here today.

"I didn't want to interrupt you," Harry replied, apologetically. He came to stand next to her and looked at the grave. "Were you a friend?"

”Friend?” She laughed a little, quietly. "I don't know. Acquaintance, yes." She paused. "During a hard time, I trusted him." She laughed again. "It's complicated."

They were quiet a moment. "I couldn't come for the funeral," Harry said, wanting to be honest. "It was just too hard."

She smiled ruefully. "It doesn't matter. No one else could come, either. Old wounds are difficult to heal." She eyed him closely. "He would have been glad you came at all, though."

Harry smiled politely, but disbelievingly. "I’m not so sure of that."

"Of course he would have," she said firmly. "He did hate you, but that was such a part of him that he could never get over it. He wanted you to have your chance, in the end."

"I feel like I should be more grateful, or something." Harry paused. "At least I don't hate him anymore."

The woman nodded and did not reply. Harry gestured to the marker.

"Did you get that for him?"

She nodded again. "We never talked about this sort of thing, of course, but I think he would like it."

At the top of the stone was the engraving of a large bird. The Muggles who passed the grave would not know what it was, but Harry had recognized it immediately. "You chose a phoenix."

"I thought it was accurate."

Harry silently read the words chiseled into the stone.

SEVERUS SNAPE
TRAITOR TO THE DARK
REDEEMED TO THE LIGHT



"No one's ever going to believe that."

"I know. That's why it was so important that the truth be told somewhere." She sighed a little. "He knew he would never be recognized as anything but a traitor, after that night. And he was a traitor. Just not how everyone will remember it."

They were quiet again. A breeze blew through a strand of trees, shaking loose leaves to fly around their faces.

"Should I say something?"

"If you want, that would be nice."

Harry thought a minute. Then he said firmly, "Severus Snape, you were a terrible professor. I hated your class. I hated you. You were out to get me, and I despised you."

He paused, and then continued. "I still don't know that I understand everything that happened, but I do know now that you were loyal to Dumbledore, through and through. That's enough for me. The world may not appreciate your sacrifice, but I won't forget you." He stopped then, because he didn't know what else to say.

Harry realized the woman next to him was crying silently. Wind rattled the trees again, and in the distance thunder rumbled.

"I've got to go. There's so much left to do," he told her. He wished he had a tissue or something to offer her.

She nodded and smiled, though she was still crying. "Thank you for coming. I appreciate it."

"I really won't forget. Maybe someday the rest of the world will understand better."

"I hope so."

Only a little reluctant, Harry turned and left. The wind howled after him, and it began to drizzle again.

The woman reached out to touch the headstone. "I won't ever forget either," she said quietly. She gave one last, longing look at the grave. She would be back, but she wanted to hold onto this moment of farewell. Thunder rumbled again, and it began to rain more steadily.  She pulled her cloak more tightly around her.  Refusing to shed more tears today, she bowed her head and Apparated away. 

And the sky opened up and cried for her.

 

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