This series is dedicated to stgulik on her birthday.
Title: It’s Alright, Because I’m Crying Too
Challenge: Snow, Exposed
Team: Death Eaters
Warnings: Sadness, complete lack of beta
A/N: NO money is made from this story.
Edit: A dear friend, Teresa Cullen, drew companion pieces to this drabble and its companion piece – you can see it at the end of the drabble. I am so blown away by the emotion and the sheer talent this amazing lady has brought to these drabbles:
She saw him, standing at the edge of the Forest. If he saw her, he gave no indication, and she was too stunned to wonder why he was there. She was layered behind a blanket of wards and enchantments, but she knew he knew she was there.
Enemies of old, scarred by life and the rough buffeting of his anger against her veracity – and voracity. Sentinels of knowledge, and victims of a war that seemed to focus down to one moment in time – this one, looking across the expanse at one another.
She should have been terrified. She was tired.
Hermione wondered if he knew how miserable and afraid she was, if he cared how fast hope was hemorrhaging from her heart. She wondered if he would laugh at her dirty hands or her hazy, almost forgotten dreams of normality.
She suddenly wanted him to care – more than anything on this earth, she wanted someone to care about whether or not she would live or die. But mainly, she wanted Severus Snape to care, because he had seemed to think so little of her as either a person or a witch.
She felt the gut-wrenching need for him to acknowledge.
He turned, and looked her straight in the eye, into her, through and beyond her, toward a black pit of nothing far from her reach. So he didn’t know she was there, and she was surprised at her disappointment. No one was there, perhaps not even himself. Hermione saw the bleak, empty, numb grief in his eyes, and the death in them made her recoil.
She thought she had known loneliness, and sorrow and loss. Looking into his eyes, she knew loneliness had a colour and texture, sorrow had a flavour and a scent, and loss had a name.
His breath ghosted from his lips, which looked dark and smudged in the waning light. His skin, lavender-pale, was drawn tight over his cheekbones, and as he stood, looking into the nothingness that was her, tears spilled from his black eyes and dropped like diamonds into the snow. He was a statue, a holy relic revealing a mystery and a miracle, and Hermione felt sick with anguish.
If Severus Snape grieved, it was because he had nothing left that could hold it back. And still he stared into the not-quite-Hermione landscape, clay-soldier still, and wept, as if he had no choice.
Hermione felt her chest ache, and for a moment she thought he was imprinting his own misery and uselessness into her heart. A soft cry fell from her lips, and she looked away, unable to stand his silent, still desolation.
Later that night, she crawled into bed with Ronald, and cried as if her heart would break. He held her, and tried his best to apologise for leaving her, but all she could see was the deep dark resignation and longing in Snape’s eyes, and the answering regret in her heart.
The next time she saw him, he was dying.
It shouldn’t be so hard to lay to rest a man she never really knew, seeing him so still in his coffin, looking so curiously unlike himself. It made Hermione want to shake him, to force him to open those snapping black eyes, to hear his remarkable voice berate her about how unremarkable she was.
Gods, why couldn’t she have been smarter? Why hadn’t she read the clues, understood the silent, still message he sent into the world that night? Why did so much death make her feel so alive, and ashamed of the callous, celebrating survivors of the battle?
“It’s not fair,” she whispered to his tranquil, pale face, searching with idiotic hope that his brow would furrow with indignation. Others were waiting to pay their respects, and she wanted to make them all leave, so she could watch him, trace the trail of those tears down his sallow cheeks, maybe nag him into life again. In their world, stranger things had happened.
No. He would never want to come back. That night had been his farewell. Now, Hermione had to honour that.
Walking away from his eternally silent form was the hardest thing she had ever done.
Years later, Hermione dreams of that night, watching a condemned man shedding his final tears. In dreams she reveals herself, or duels with him, or gives chase – she brings the statue to life, replaces the silent, burnishing tears with rage or triumph or confusion.
They are foolish dreams, of course. She had her role to play, as he had his. But on the cold nights, she dreams that he sees her, and accepts her, and she wipes his tears away, and lies to him that it will be alright.
She always wakes from these dreams weeping her own futile tears.
Title is from Randall Bramblett – It’s Alright.