Funerals, flowers, friends and family
Draco followed the dark brown coffins containing the bodies of Pansy's parents, walking beside the white coffin that he had insisted on for Pansy. The procession moved slowly down the path toward the lake and then turned to the right, through the wrought iron gates, into the small cemetery overlooking the school grounds and the glass smooth black water.
It was a cloudless summer day. Draco had a small smile on his face as his mind recorded the fact that Pansy was missing a great opportunity for working on her tan. He rested his hand on the edge of the lid.
"It's a beautiful day, Pansy. Hope you can see how nice the weather is," he whispered.
Flitwick positioned the three coffins over the gaping holes into which they would be lowered. Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Draco, Hagrid, Filius Flitwick and Minerva McGonagall had been joined by Madame Pomfrey and Professors Trelawney and Sprout. Mr. Filch stood behind the teachers. Also present were a few of the Parkinsons' distant relatives and family friends; brave souls to venture to Hogwarts when they knew they risked the Dark Lord's displeasure.
The vicar, Henry Grant, who had married Severus and Anna only a week earlier, led the short interment service. The coffins were lowered into the earth and Draco stepped forward and threw a white rose onto the lid of each, where they landed with soft thumps. Various members of the surrounding crowd walked over, took handfuls of dirt and threw it down onto the coffins, then watched as Flitwick filled the open holes with the remaining earth, which had been piled at the end of each grave. The grass then folded back over the mounds and Draco placed a second rose on Pansy's resting place.
Suddenly, Hedwig swooped down from the sky and dropped a white rose on Pansy's grave, then Pig dropped a pink rose bud, then Errol, with a little assist from Dumbledore, dropped two more white roses.
More owls flew past, dropping rose after rose after rose after rose. The owls then wheeled around and headed to the owlery.
Draco watched them and then looked down at the profusion of flowers. He glanced up at Dumbledore.
"It would seem your friends in the DA have all heard the sad news, Draco."
"Apparently," whispered Draco, heaving a sigh. Tears were forming in his eyes, but he brushed them away and smiled sadly at the Headmaster.
Dumbledore waved his wand and all of the little white tags on the stems of the flowers flew into his hand. He gave the small pile to Draco.
"So you'll know whom to thank."
Draco nodded again and then he turned and walked swiftly away, breaking into a run after he was through the cemetery gate. The rest followed, slowly and silently, back to the castle.
"I've never understood wakes," Flitwick observed, looking around the Great Hall at the small groups of people, talking quietly to each other. "Either everyone has a grand time, without the guest of honor, or no one speaks above a whisper, fills their stomachs and leaves. It's quite the most bizarre type of gathering."
"I agree," nodded Professor McGonagall. "It almost seems inappropriate under the circumstances of the Parkinsons' deaths. I wish this was over."
"I notice Draco isn't in attendance," observed Snape, looking around.
"Do you blame the boy?" Minerva questioned.
"No. I would be loath to attend myself, if I were he. In any case, his absence is understandable."
Dumbledore joined the teachers, having just said goodbye to the Parkinsons' relatives and friends, who were now being escorted to the gates by Mr. Filch.
"I'm sure he'll rejoin us at Dinner. He needed some time to himself."
"It was a wonderful show of sympathy and support from the DA, wasn't it?" Professor McGonagall commented. "Who coordinated /that/, I wonder?" She tilted her head, looking at the Headmaster.
"Miss Granger and I, as you suspect, Minerva," Dumbledore informed them. "She contacted everyone, who sent the note tags and I supplied the roses. The house elves worked with the owls that arrived bearing the tags and some of our own school owls to do the flower drop. It was quite an impressive display, if I do say so myself."
"Indeed," replied Severus. "At the very least, it will re-enforce their acceptance of Draco and his change of heart and attitude."
"That should be of some comfort to him, then, don't you agree?" Flitwick looked around at his fellow staff members, who nodded.
"Well, I will see all of you at dinner." The Headmaster smiled at them and took his leave, as the others then drifted off in various directions.
Draco sat upon his bed, the notes spread out in front of him. He was trying to absorb the fact that the sentiments expressed and greetings and words of sympathy were real and heart felt. He knew, deep down, that they were sincere. Otherwise, the lot of them wouldn't have taken the time or made the effort to show their support.
Potter...Harry, had obviously told them everything on the Express home and they'd believed him. If they had any reservations, Pansy's death had erased all doubt that he was really serious about his decision to renounce Voldemort.
'The 'new' Draco...but still alone. Damn it! Why Pansy?!? No!' He shook his head, angry at himself 'stop thinking that way. /Voldemort would use anyone he could, to punish me for my defiance./'
He reached out and unfolded another note and there was Anna's handwriting. Draco smiled. 'Yeah, she'd still be in contact with Harry and Granger...Hermione. I wonder how it's going to be when they all come back? How will the rest of Slytherin House treat me?'
"Oh, well," he said out loud, "no use worrying about that now; September is a long way off."
Getting up from his bed, Draco gathered the notes and put them on his night stand. 'I'll finish reading these later, when I can bear it a little better' He heaved a sigh and then looked around.
"Think I'll go see what Hagrid is doing," he told his reflection in the mirror on the nearby wall.
He headed up the stairs from the Slytherin dungeon and out into the sunshine. Wandering towards Hagrid's hut, Draco was looking down at the ground, not really watching where he was going and as he rounded a hedge near the paddock, walked straight into Buckbeak's side. He fell backwards, landing flat on his back. He looked up into the golden eyes and swallowed, hard.
"Buckbeak. Sorry about that...my fault."
Buckbeak cocked his head, then turned and walked away. Draco scrambled to his feet as the huge creature wheeled around and regarded him. Draco thought back to that fateful class when he'd been so stupid as to insult this proud animal. Now, he took a deep breath and bowed, slowly, never taking his eyes from Beaky's, waiting. Then, to his relief, Buckbeak lowered his head. Straightening up, Draco took one step closer.
"Buckbeak, I owe you a big apology. Last time we met, I was terribly, unforgivably rude and insulted you and I'm truly sorry."
He bowed his head and waited. After a moment or two, Buckbeak walked over and nudged Draco's arm and burrrr'd at him. Reaching up Draco stroked the beast's neck.
"So, you believe in the 'new' me, too, eh?"
Buckbeak cocked his head, regarded the young man and then stretched out his neck and rested his head on Draco's shoulder and burrr'd again.
Draco put his arms around Beaky's neck and finally let go; crying like he'd never cried before in his life. After he finished and calmed down, Beaky stepped back, lowered his shoulder and bumped Draco with his head, as if to say, "Climb on."
"What? A ride?" Draco sniffed.
The hippogriff nodded. Draco smiled and using the paddock wall, climbed on.
"Wait until Pot...Harry hears about this!"
Soaring over the lake, all thoughts of death and Voldemort forgotten, Draco reveled in the rush of air, glorious sunshine and the feeling of complete freedom. This is what it felt like, soaring above everything.../free./ He loved it!
As Buckbeak banked gently and descended, Draco waved to Hagrid, who was standing, looking up and watching them. Hagrid waved back, smiling. After landing, Draco slid off and hugged Buckbeak's neck.
"Thank you, Buckbeak. That was great. Let me get you a treat."
Walking over to a box hanging on the paddock railing, Draco opened the lid and took out a dead ferret and turning, tossed it to the hippogriff, who caught it, flipped it up in the air and /crunch, crunch/; downed it, in two bites.
"Beaky and you made up then, eh?" Hagrid came over, carrying a bucket of water, which he put on the ground next to paddock fence.
"Yeah, we have an understanding." Draco smiled.
The huge animal walked up behind him and draped his head over his shoulder, clicking his razor sharp beak.
"No; one's enough. You'll get fat."
Buckbeak raised his head and snorted and then pushed Draco forward, playfully and shook his head. Hagrid laughed and scratched the hippogriff's neck.
"Beaky's a right smart animal, but maybe a wee bit spoiled."
"Where's he been all this time?"
"Well, I suppose it won't hurt for 'ya to know. He was with Sirius Black until he...well, then I brought him back here and hid him in plain sight, so to speak."
"Brilliant. I never suspected, so, now it's my secret, too." Draco beamed.
The clock tower sounded out the hour and Hagrid looked up.
"Blimey, dinner time soon. The day's just fly by, don' they?"
"Let me help you finish the chores, Hagrid, and then we'll head up to the castle. I haven't eaten all day, come to that."
"Oh, tha's not good, Draco. But, what with the funeral and all. Lovely bit with the roses, din't 'ya think?"
"It was the DA. I'll send my thanks to them all. Pansy would have loved it; roses were her favorite flower."
Heaving a sigh, Draco patted Buckbeak's neck and then walked with Hagrid to his hut to help him finish the feeding chores.
"Your nephew conducted himself with great poise at the funeral, Bella. Until some owls dropped flowers on the late Miss Parkinson's grave. Poor boy was shattered by that pathetic gesture from his 'friends', I was informed."
"Pathetic /boy/, you mean, Master. If he was a true /Malfoy/, he'd have laughed at their show of 'friendship'," Bella replied, smirking. "Blood traitor /brat/."
"Now, now, Bella, don't be too hard him...that's my job," Voldemort replied silkily, and then threw back his head and laughed, though there was no humor intended. "He's all alone, with lots of time to rethink and regret his decision. And /wonder how /he will meet his /end. I have /such wonderful plans for him, after I've gotten rid of /Potter/. This next year at Hogwarts, and it will be the last /year of Hogwarts, should be /very /entertaining, Bella. We are going to have /so much fun: repaying old injuries and insults, tying up loose ends and finishing bits of business. Ah, the plans I have, and they are starting to come together nicely, too."
"When will we attack, Master?"
"/Bella/...what have I told you, time and again?"
"Patience, Master...I must learn patience."
"Yes. You bad, bad girl. 'Crucio'." Voldemort waved his wand and Bella fell to the floor, writhing. Rolling over and looking up at her Master, she smiled. He flicked his wand again.
The Death Eaters in the hall could hear Bella's screams and cringed.
The funeral, yesterday, was small and the service, mercifully short. But the most amazing thing happened. A couple of dozen owls flew down and dropped roses on Pansy's grave. They each had a note attached, from the DA members and Tonks and Anna.
It was a bit overwhelming and I had to get away from the cemetery as soon as I could. I couldn't stop my hands from shaking for a good hour; then I calmed down and opened the notes and read most of them. I'll send thank you notes, of course. (You really instilled THAT in me, over the years, didn't you?!) Gives me something to do in the evenings, besides reading, anyway.
I think things will get into a routine now, here at the castle, and I'll be busy and that's a help. Professor Dumbledore said to tell you hello and extend his sympathies to you, as he understands you and Pansy's mother were friends. So, greetings from the Headmaster.
I've been talking with Christopher (he insists I use his first name) and we've had some lively discussions about what I'm doing and he's really become a part of the school, it seems. The other paintings all like him and he's quite funny. Has two beautiful dogs, too, Chester and Beau; they're Labs. Takes them for 'rambles', he calls it. I think that's his way of covering up when he gets lost here in the castle. HA! HA!
Well, it's late and I have to get up at some ungodly hour tomorrow as Professor Sprout needs me to help her transplant something or other that HAS to be done in the early, early morning. She said she'd explain as we work. Another day up to my elbows in dirt and dragon dung. Yippee! HA! HA! again. I'm beginning to understand why Anna was always walking the halls with a big mug of coffee in the morning. It does help.
Hope this note finds you well. Speaking of Anna, have you owled her, yet? Let me know how that goes.
Your loving son,
My love to ... have you decided on a name yet? ... my little sister.
Narcissa had passed Draco's letter around the table at breakfast and the three women had discussed the difference between Draco's version of the funeral and what had been reported, via an interview with one of the Parkinsons' relatives who attended, in the /Daily Prophet /that Wally had brought from London.
"Honestly, it reads as if Draco practically threw himself into the grave on top of Pansy's coffin." Gwen tossed the paper onto the table. "I know he was probably upset, but I seriously doubt he lost his composure in front of /that /crowd."
"No, he went back to his room and didn't come out for a few hours, after the wake was over and all of the visitors had gone home. Christopher and I talked last night. He said Draco was handling it quite well." Narcissa told them as she put marmalade on her toast. "He's not one to show his feelings in public. Male Malfoy pride, I suppose."
"No, just male macho pride, Cissa; they all think they have to be brave and tough and all of that silliness. If they only realized how good you feel after letting go and having a real, full blown crying session." Anna said, refilling her coffee mug. "Well, be THAT as it may, we need to make a grocery list for your trip to town, Gwen."
"I have it, all written out, right here," replied Cissa, pulling a page of parchment from her pocket. "Dobby, Winky and I worked it up this morning while you two lazy bones slept in."
Gwen and Anna exchanged looks.
"Oooooo, guess she told us, huh?" Anna leaned over and whispered to Gwen.
"Cocky little prego, isn't she," Gwen answered. "Although.../little/ is becoming harder to use as an adjective around her, round being the operative word."
"Better watch it, Gwen, she'll come after you," advised Anna, grinning at Narcissa, who sat there, with her mouth open in astonishment at Gwen's description of her.
"Maybe, but I can still outrun her, if I have to," Gwen answered.
"Try out running a spell and then we'll talk, young lady," Cissa replied, twirling her wand around her fingers and then pointing it at her.
"Point taken, if you'll pardon the pun." Gwen reached out and pushed the end of Cissa's wand away, so it wasn't directed at her. They all laughed.
"Ok, well, don't do the shopping in Ollerton, it's too small a town and people will wonder who you are and where you're staying. Better to drive over to Mansfield; then you'll just be another customer in one of those supermarkets. Be sure and come back a different way, don't use the same route twice in a row."
"That bit I know; you've grilled me on 'procedure' before, remember? Here's the question of the day, though: how will I get the trees and the gate open and closed? I can't do magic."
"Dobby can ride with you and wait for you in the van while you shop."
"Anna, I can't leave him sitting there, people will see him. I'll get arrested for animal cruelty or child abuse, which ever they decide Dobby is."
"In that case, Dobby will just have to wait out there by the road, inside the gate, hiding behind the hedge row, until you come back. /Dobby/!"
"Yes, Missy Anna?"
"Will you ride out to the hedgerow with Gwen, open the gate and then stay there, hidden, of course, until she returns from shopping? It'll mean about an hour and a half or two hours of sitting and waiting."
"Oh, I doesn't mind, Miss. Dobby likes the countryside and I won't be seen by anyone, so I's going to enjoy watching things. I'll stay out of sight, Missy Anna, don't you worry."
"Good, that's settled. Cissa, will you do the honors and change Gwen's hair again. I'd like to see this 'new' look she had when you two were coming here." Anna looked over at Gwen and waited to see the difference.
"Certainly, here goes." Waving her wand, Gwen's hair shortened, curled and turned ginger.
"Good Lord, it's a Weasley!"
They all laughed.
"It is a bit scary, isn't it? I should go to Fred and George's shop like this and complain it's an after effect of their 'Canary Creams'," Gwen suggested as she looked in the mirror.
"Oh, no, no, no! That would just give them ideas for new 'creams'; for changing your appearance as a party favor or some such nonsense." Anna laughed and shook her head.
"Well," Gwen said, picking up the grocery list and reading it. "This shouldn't take long. Ready, Dobby?"
"Yes, Missy Gwen."
"Take your time and keep your eyes and ears open. Not that you should have to worry. Witches don't go shopping in Muggle supermarkets, usually, but be careful, none the less," Anna admonished.
"Yes, Missy Anna." Gwen did a passable imitation of Winky, which earned her a swat on the butt as she passed Anna's chair.
"Ha! Look who's talking."
An owl landed in the tree outside the kitchen window. Petunia saw it and turning, checked to see what her husband was doing. He and Dudley were watching the telly, so she hissed at Harry, who was bringing the dishes from the dining table and jerked her head, indicating he should look out in the back yard.
Puzzled, Harry set the dishes on the counter, walked through the small glass conservatory and then he spotted the owl. Walking out into the yard, he untied the letter and the owl took wing and disappeared. Harry returned to the kitchen and pointing to the ceiling, silently indicated to his aunt that he was going up stairs. She nodded. Gaining the solitude of his bedroom, Harry opened and started reading the letter.
Just a quick note, to thank you for your letter and to let you know I really appreciated the flowers that were delivered and dropped by the owls at the funeral service. I know XGXrXaX Hermione arranged it, and I'll thank her when I write to her. I'm sending notes to everyone who sent a flower. That should occupy my spare time for a while.
The service was short and I skipped the wake. I just wasn't up for that. I decided to go down, after a while, and see what Hagrid was doing and I ran into Buckbeak. And I mean ran into /him/; BANG, knocked me flat on my butt. I apologized, not only for crashing into him (I wasn't looking where I was going) but for what I did in our third year. He accepted my apology!
Then, and I don't mind telling you this, as I'm sure you'll understand; I put my arms around his neck and cried like a baby. It just sort of all came rushing out, all the pain and tears that I hadn't been able to shed until then. I felt loads better afterward and guess what?!? Beaky took me for a ride, like you did that first time we ever saw him! It was fantastic! Didn't you think so, too, when you rode him? Maybe, when you get back, he'll take both of us for a ride.
Oh, the clock just struck, so I'm going to be late for lunch if I don't hurry. Send a note if you get a chance. And, again, thanks for writing and understanding and all.
About two and a half hours later, Gwen pulled up to the old gate, which swung open in front of her. Driving through, she stopped and opened the passenger side door. Dobby jumped up onto the seat and turned to grin at Gwen.
"Hello, Missy Gwen, you is back quick!"
"Well, it took about as long as I figured it would, by the time I found a supermarket and then bought everything we needed. It won't take as long next time. Oh, I got you and Winky a surprise."
"A surprise, Miss?" Dobby looked around and then his nose twitched. "Is Dobby smelling cheeseburgers, Missy Gwen?"
"Yes, I bought you and Winky a kid's meal each, with a toy, for doing your jobs so well and taking such good care of us."
"But Missy Gwen, that is what we do; house elves takes care of Witches and Wizards. We isn't looking for rewards, Missy Gwen, although I does like getting paid. With my money, Miss, I can buy wool so's I can knit, Miss."
"Ah, I picked up some of that for you, too. We noticed your supply was getting low."
"Oh, Missy Gwen, you is too good to Dobby, Miss. Thank you Miss."
"Don't thank me, Dobby, thank Missy Anna, it was her idea."
"Yes, Miss, when we gets back to the house, Miss." Dobby looked out the windshield. "Oh, 'Alohamora'!"
The wall of bushes in front of them parted and then closed behind them after they drove slowly through.
Soon everyone was unloading groceries and supplies from the back of the van. Later, as Gwen, Anna and Narcissa enjoyed their lunch, Dobby and Winky sat on a bench in the garden, happily eating their special meals and exclaiming over their toys.
Albus Dumbledore walked down to the potions classroom, where he knew Severus would be working, sorting through his potions stores and making his list of supplies he'd need for the coming school year.
As he entered, Severus looked around, mildly surprised to see the Headmaster.
"Good morning, Severus. I see you're busy, but I've brought something I think you'll rather enjoy seeing."
"And that would be?" Severus put down the parchment and quill he had been using to write his lists.
"A letter from Anna." Dumbledore held out the rolled parchment and smiled. "She sent it, enclosed in a letter to yours truly, asking me to pass it on to you. Her owl, Wally, is waiting in my office to take your answering letter back, but don't hurry, he's taking a snooze." Waving a hand, he turned and left the classroom, closing the door behind.
Severus stared at the parchment and then unrolled it as he sat down on the nearest bench.
Dearest Severus, husband of mine,
I finally forced myself to sit and write you a letter, rather than sending a message via Christopher. I'm not the world's best letter writer, so consider yourself special. Of course, you are to me, anyway; that's a given.
Gwen and I have been quite busy; making this place a bit more habitable for us three (I always include Winky - as she is an integral part of this little family). We've been puttering in the garden, weather permitting. Gwen runs that show as I'm hopeless unless given instructions - very simple instructions (dig a hole, put plant into the hole - leaf side up - fill in gaps with dirt and firm down, water, etc.). HA! HA!
Ok, so much for news, now the mushy bit.
I miss you. I miss giving you a hard time at the staff table. I miss sticking my tongue out at you when your head was turned. I miss trying to make you smile in front of the students. And I miss your arms around me and your body next to mine. And your kisses; I think I miss them the most. Well, almost the most, if you know what I mean, hint,hint.
This is the hardest thing I've ever had to endure. At least when I was there at Hogwarts, I could see you, if not hold you. Ah, someday soon, I hope, I'll be with you again, and all of this will be a memory.
Mrs. Severus Snape
I'm like a schoolgirl writing my name to see how it would look on personalized stationary. I know I'm being silly but it's fun in a basic girly way. Humor me and ignore this little paragraph. Simple mind: simple pleasure. HA!
I hope you are feeling well. Don't brood over the little things and get plenty of sleep. This is your wife speaking and fussing at you. And eat your veggies!
How is Draco? Please work with him and be there for him as I know you probably already are. You have the list of spells the DA are proficient in using and the exercises for agility, so you two should have plenty to occupy your time. When Harry returns, he'll be a help, too, I'm sure.
Remus sent us the /Daily Prophet/. I can't tell you how it tore at my heart to see Draco pounding his fists on the ground. And the scowl you gave the photographer!!! If looks could kill, darling, he'd be six feet under, as I write this.
Well, it's nearly lunchtime, so I will close for now.
Tell everyone I said hello. Oh, wait, you can't, can you?!? Ok, tell Albus I send my love. I'll have Christopher relay my greetings to the rest.
I'm holding the heart necklace tight to my own heart, thinking of you.
All my love,
My morning sickness is gone; must be the fresh air and sunshine.
Wally returned with Severus' answering letter the next morning. Anna tore off the string that had bound it to the owl's leg and quickly scanned the tightly written script.
Greeting to Mrs. Severus Snape, also known as Anastasia Snape, my darling wife,
Does that satisfy your craving for seeing your new name in print? You're welcome.
I've read and re-read you letter and I thought something was missing but it was as I was reading the part where you described our pictures in the paper I realized what it was that was bothering me. You hadn't mentioned the Parkinsons, Pansy or Voldemort. Please tell me you're not still blaming yourself for their deaths. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!
I say that because Christopher told me that you had a rather explosive reaction to the news. I feared as much. Please, darling, talk with him, and with Gwen. DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF! I know you well enough to realize you would do just that. Draco isn't the only one suffering from guilt, it would seem, but neither of you did this, Voldemort is to blame.
I wish I could be there to hold you in my arms and make you feel better, physically and mentally. Know that if I could, I would. Physically first, I think. (I'm good at ' therapy' I've been told). The 'mentally' bit would take care of itself. Don't you agree?
To change to a lighter subject (and speaking of Draco) he has been very busy, occupying his time helping either Hagrid or //Pomona/ Sprout. He's also working on his spells but I believe I'll let Potter do the defensive exercises with him, as he is used to the way you've trained the DA. I wouldn't want to confuse him with directions contrary to your teaching method./
Now my 'mushy bit', I believed you called it in your letter.
It's only been a little over a week since we parted, but it seems a lifetime. I miss you, too...terribly. You're better at putting your feelings down on parchment than I. But know I share you sentiments and wish with all my heart that I had you here with me, in my arms. I fall asleep each night, holding the pendant that you gave me in my hand, thinking of you.
Before I sink into an abyss of maudlin treacle, I think I'll close.
All my love, my heart and soul,
WHEN did you stick out your tongue at me? We will have a talk about that!
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