As the Spider said a couple of posts ago, he's on his way to New Jersey to help celebrate "the end of an engagement." Ladybug and I are getting married this very weekend, and the Spider is one of the groomsmen.
Since this effectively turns off the Hive for a little while, it's only fair to answer a couple of requests. The first is from fellow blogger Ms. Maggie, who writes: "But I would have liked for there to have been some words between Harry and Snape AFTER Harry learned the truth. I would love to have known what Snape would have said to Harry."
Yes - she does write; but it's in Spoiler Vision, because it refers to the dratted Seventh Book. (Tracey's take, with a big spoiler alert, can be found here, as can the above comment in context.) Mentally, I and others are already mentally re-writing hunks of the thing. May as well make this bit stick as well. I will warn you, of course, that it may hint at spoiler information, but I am not going to use the Spoiler Vision on the following.
As Harry walked onward into the clearing, a thin-fingered hand stretched down to slip gently over the cracked engraving on the Stone, now lying cool amid the dirt and twigs.
"You should have said something to him," a voice behind said.
The hand withdrew into its black-sleeved robe, and the man straightened but did not turn. "As I'm sure you know, he only saw the people he asked for, James."
"And as you know, Severus, the help we never expect is often the greatest benefit."
"You really think that he would have bothered to reply?" he answered, turning on the others. "Your son has always had the annoying habit of 'knowing it all.' At least Ms. Granger usually has the excuse that she actually DID know the facts. Mr. Potter acts before he even gets that far, and gets insulted when anyone informs him otherwise."
"Fair's fair, Severus," Sirius said. "You know exactly how he felt there."
The shadow of old hurts passed across Snape's face, clouding it like smoke. Sallow even in life, the living memory of the headmaster was paler still, but it did not have the steady pearl sheen of the others. But he did not fire back. He admitted the justice of the statement. For a moment he glanced back over his shoulder, to the jeering of the other Death Eaters as Harry faced them, out of sight. It seemed to be happening a lot farther off.
"Something you wanted to say, Severus?" asked Lupin lightly.
Snape did not answer, but stood still, expecting at any minute that the shade of Harry Potter would walk back into the trees; would join his family, walk away into the sunlight of the grounds, happy at last, forsaking the world's troubles. He would not be surprised. He felt almost like it would not be enough, even, to see them turn their backs on him and go. Would they just gather in a bright circle and then fade to gold before his eyes, without so much as a word?
Maybe nothing else would have gotten him to turn back at that moment but his old nickname, spoken by the voice he best loved in life. He turned to her. She appeared to him almost like the portraits in the castle, as if in a frame, with a unique background, cast about with a billowing glow. The others were worn, sepia prints beside her. Then he blinked and looked at them more closely. Sirius was as he remembered and hated him most, from their school days - he had always lorded it over the House of Slytherin, proud to have "escaped" as he put it - but as he looked more steadily, something in him shifted slightly. Hadn't he been proud to have escaped his childhood home, proud to have been elevated forever beyond the Muggles' filth and prejudice and mulish fears? What appeared to be proper pride in him must have seemed rot to Sirius Black.
And looking for that instant through Sirius' eyes made him see Sirius' smile differently: the joy of it, the feeling that life was long and free and happy, that he could write anything he pleased within its pages. Lupin, too, snapped into focus at once - a shy youth, forever shunned and set apart, through no fault of his own; grateful for his few friends.
James was last, but Severus would possibly have succeeded in avoiding his gaze altogether if he hadn't slipped his hand into his wife's. His eyes felt drawn up the arm to the face that was so like his son's, with the unruly black hair, glasses, and smile. Only the eyes were different.
"I wanted to be misunderstood," he said at last, surprised. He would never have believed it to be true until the instant he heard it, and wondered that he could speak the words without exactly knowing them beforehand. "I knew I could never be liked, so I wanted to be disliked for a good reason, so I could enjoy it. So I could feel like I had a valid grudge against the world."
As he spoke, it all came back to him - all the arrogance, the sniping in the halls, the hexes and plots and crude practical jokes, the cutting words, the dreams of a final vengeance. Severus did not run away from it this time. He had certainly paid it out as good as he'd gotten, and each side had felt justified. For what end? In the end, he had come round to fighting the Dark Lord, though he had to confess, now, that he never quite understood what would happen to him after it was over. But had he ever switched sides?
"It was easier than hating him simply because his eyes were in the wrong face."
He'd been so busy dreaming of Lily's eyes all his life that he had never permitted himself to see what was in James' eyes. It was the final shock - a force so solid that the headmaster's form seemed to waver before it. He recognized them. They were the wrong color, for sure, but they were Harry Potter's eyes. Reaching out, always, to others; disregarding any restriction in order to set things right, if he could - the strengths that of necessity led to his blundering forward until maturity and insight could catch up.
It had gotten quieter behind him. He looked, but could see nothing through the trees, could barely hear what he knew must be shrieks of triumph... but then he heard a whisper as if in his ear. "He's in the castle?"
Cissy, and Harry. Even Draco Malfoy was someone to reach out to for Harry Potter, if he could. Even Severus Snape - though it was too late to be spoken between them.
"Does he realize how shockinly lucky he's been?" he said suddenly, with his old asperity.
They all roared with laughter, even Lily. Perhaps only the dead could fully appreciate the difference - Severus' tone and manner were unchanged, but drained of the venom they'd borne before. It wasn't Severus and his bitterness, Severus and his hate, but just Severus alone; for the first time in many years, Severus Snape, not as he was but as he could have been.
"He was lucky enough to have you," James said, holding out his hand in welcome.
"So he won't be along presently, I expect."
"I expect not."
"Pity," he said, with his old smile. "It would be worth it for the look on his face. But I suppose it would quite spoil the whole point."