Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. In other words, I don’t own J.K.R.’s characters. Please don’t sue me; I’m not worth it anyway. Once I’m done, I’ll buy them dinner, several good bottles of wine and put them back where I found them.
1. A little trip into some angst. Sometimes, life has paths for us that are not what we expect. Set post DH and AU as Snape is not dead.
2. As a gremlin ate my story in the reversion I have re-submitted it. Alas, (takes handkerchief out and dabs at eyes) all my reviews for it have also been eaten by the same gremlin. So please read and review, I have a partner and an ego to support.
Many thanks, as always, to simply the best beta mtnwmgirl
The Road Not Taken.
He sits on the ornate chair staring vacantly forward. The festive atmosphere feels bitter to him and leaves a sour taste like ash in his mouth. He sits in the very last row of seats in the hall, hidden in the shadow of an alcove, and quite, quite alone.
He slipped inside after everyone else had taken their places. Not that he supposes anyone would have actually expected him to attend, not after their last incandescent argument.
He hears the opening bars of Handel’s music for the Royal Fireworks and reflexively stands, just as everyone else does. Her choice doesn’t surprise him; she always disliked the overused, trite cloying tones of Wagner’s march.
The buzz and hum of chatter stops as the crowd grows silent and waits expectantly. The doors to his right open and swing back. They hide him from her view, but he can see her with perfect, aching clarity. He also sees the man who waits for her straighten slightly. The groom doesn’t turn to watch her entrance. He doesn’t know what he is missing. She is quite simply…magnificent. All the clichés he has ever heard about a bride on her wedding day are true at least of her, at least today.
He watches hungrily as she smiles, and it seems to him that the lights in the room dim in comparison. All the other people fade into the background, into obscurity, and he sees only her.
He should not have come. He doesn’t know if he can bear the agony of watching her knit her soul to another. How, he wonders for the thousandth time, did he lose her? When? He had assumed they would be together. Perhaps that presumption was his error. He should have tried harder, seen she was unhappy, done something, anything to keep her. The recriminations are old and bitter. He has chased them round in circles to exhaustion. Rather like following an Escher drawing, ever winding, without conclusion.
The music stops; she has reached the man who waits for her. She turns slightly, facing towards her choice, and smiles that beautiful benediction of radiance again. His fierce stab of envy is so great he looks away momentarily. Then he sees her soon-to-be husband turn, at last, to see his bride. The groom swallows hard against the emotion he feels. She reaches out and takes his hand in hers and squeezes gently. The groom looks at their entwined hands, then smiles for her alone. It is a small smile, but infused with all the love he never expected to find in his life. The smile transforms his severe features. The warmth it lends to them is an alien thing on his face. It is a painfully intimate scene to witness, and Ron can bear it no longer.
Before the congregation sits down, he slides out of the still open doors. She has chosen. He has lost her. If he is truthful, (and the bitterness of that truth is all that is left to him), he lost her long ago. It is time he realised that. Time he started to live again. Somehow.
Together Severus and Hermione, already bound by their love for each other, turn to face the priest to formally bind each to the other’s soul for a future they have chosen together.
‘Beloved friends, we are gathered here today in celebration of the binding of this man to this woman. By witnessing today we share in the gift of their love for and commitment to each other…’
The priest’s words follow Ron and are the last he hears as he walks away out of earshot and towards his future—whatever it may be.