AUTHOR'S NOTE: "Vale" means Good-bye in Latin. Rest peacefully, Alan. The impact you've had is far greater than you'll ever know.
"To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."
“Miss Granger!” If you’d be so kind as to cease caterwauling.”
“I c-can’t.” Hermione dashed at her eyes with the back of her sleeve, her sobs turning to sniffles as she focused her attention on the man standing before her. She’d run from the castle hours ago, seeking solace in the darkness of the Forbidden Forest.
“And what, pray tell, has provoked such an inopportune tantrum?”
She detected no malice in his tone, the thin curiosity in his words striking her.
“You left.” Her voice was flat, yet accusatory.
With a dismissive wave of his hand, he cut her off. As the tears began to flow earnestly from her eyes, his tone gentled.
“Don’t be asinine, Miss Granger, I’ve gone nowhere.”
She reached out and grabbed hold of his robes, her brow furrowing.
“You… You promise that you’ve not gone, Professor Snape? I have your word?”
She exhaled, a large puff of her warm breath expanding outwards.
“What has you awake at this hour, Miss Granger?” Snape murmured, turning to face her at last. “What’s buzzing around in that impossibly bushy head of yours?”
The word was blurted before she’d had the chance to properly consider her response, and she colored as the insinuation of her response hung between them.
“You’ll have to be more specific, I’m afraid. Contrary to popular speculation, Miss Granger, I do not ‘read minds’.”
“You’ve done it. It’s… Finally finished.”
“We, Miss Granger. We’ve done it. And yes, it is finished. I’d expect you to be inside with your cohorts.”
“There’s too much going on right now,” she hedged, “I don’t expect anybody to be able to relate to how I’m feeling, anyways, and so I’d rather feel it privately.”
“It shouldn’t come as any surprise to me, I suppose, that she who seeks ardent praise in her work would also seek privacy while emotionally accounting her perceived failures.”
“You’ve no clue how I’m feeling, nor were you ever one to give me the satisfaction of allowing me to know that I’d done well in your eyes.”
“You’ve never needed my praise to succeed, Miss Granger. I’ve known that since the beginning; I wanted you to know so, as well.”
“So, you’ve been affectionately unaffectionate, then.”
“I merely knew that you had the presence of mind to succeed regardless of—perhaps in spite of—the opinion of others. Whether you choose to take my word or not, the fact remains that I believed in you, quite possibly before you had belief in yourself. My disinterest in your scholastic ability stemmed directly from your lack of use for my attention.”
“You could’ve said it! You could’ve fucking told me!” Hermione’s second outburst surprised her nearly as thoroughly as the first.
His voice was so low that she nearly missed his words.
“In regards to today, and every other day, you have everything to be proud of and nothing to feel shame about.”
Hermione shivered, pulling her arms tightly around herself in an attempt to self-soothe. Snape slipped off his woolen frock coat, extending it to her with a quirk of his brow. Reluctantly, she accepted the jacket, wrapping it about herself, swimming in the oversized garment.
“Come inside from the cold, Miss Granger.” He extended a hand to her. She resisted.
“I’m not ready, just yet.”
“Miss Granger. Please. Come in. You’ll catch your death if you remain outside.”
Maybe that’s what I want, she considered retorting, maybe that’s exactly what I came out here to seek. She met his eyes, his gaze alerting her that she had no need to speak the words, he’d figured out for himself exactly what she was up to.
“I’ll have no part in allowing you to die today, Granger. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but eventually, this world will be different because of what was done here today. I’ll be damned if you don’t live to see it.”
She momentarily considered fighting him, but his tone brooked no argument, and so she allowed him to take hold of her hand, using his assistance to pull herself to her feet.
They walked together in silence back towards the castle, stopping at the threshold.
“This is where I leave you. Get some rest, Miss Granger. You may find things to be clearer when you wake.”
Hermione made to remove his jacket.
“Keep it, Miss Granger. It suits you.”
“Thank you, Professor Snape. Good night, sir.”
Hermione was slow to rise the next morning, awaking to the pleasant smell of sandalwood, snuggling closer to the warmth all around her. As she cracked an eye open, she sat up with a start, pulling Professor Snape’s jacket from her shoulders.
“You’be gone nowhere,” she said aloud.