Laurel awoke in the middle of the night. The candle on the mantle had burned down hours ago and the fire in the fireplace was but a faint reddish glow. Lazily she reached out for Severus. But her hand only touched the cool linen on his side of the bed.
Sitting up and hugging her knees, she looked out of the window at the clear night-sky. Only then she remembered with a gasp that she was in the dungeons, in Severus' bedroom. A big grin split her face. He had conjured a window, had done something to the dungeon wall to make it imitate the sky outside like the ceiling in the Great Hall. Why would any woman ever want a ring when she could get a window?
She glanced at the chair by the fire, used from so many nights to see Severus asleep there, huddled in a blanket. But the chair was pushed to the side, the blanked carefully folded on the armrest.
Laurel looked around. She was alone in the bedroom. Cold fear trickled into her heart. Had Severus been summoned in the middle of the night and hadn't found the time to wake her? They didn't even know if he could resist Voldemort's calls. What if he, in one of his acts of foolish bravery, had let her sleep while he had followed the summons - into certain death?
She jumped in surprise when a sudden bout of cold air pushed the books and parchments from the nightstand to the floor. Her ghost-pad fell open. Stark letters appeared. From the generous handwriting she concluded that the Bloody Baron had pushed the books to the floor to get her attention.
"What do you want?" she asked, as always not sure what segment of thin air she had to address when she had to talk to one of the ghosts. "I really have no time to play your games right now." She remembered all to well the day the ghostly bully had tried to strangle her because, in his opinion, she had hurt Severus.
The ghost-pad slid over the floor until it came to a halt at her naked toes.
"The Potions master is currently in the North wing, on the fourth floor. Third door to the right."
She stared at the words. "Thank you. I … thank you, Sir."
The page turned and more words appeared. "Get dressed and see to him, wench." For a heartbeat the letters froze, and then the last word was viciously erased and another one appeared. "My Lady."
Laurel felt incredibly foolish, but before she left the bedroom she curtseyed to a Baron she could not see.
The third room on the fourth floor had a thick oak door that had obviously been sealed and barred until lately. From the many locks Laurel concluded that more than a mere 'Alohomora' had been necessary to gain access.
She pushed the door open and entered a room that was completely empty, bare of any furniture but a big standing mirror in a beautifully carved frame.
Severus was sitting on the floor in front of the mirror, his legs crossed, totally engrossed in what he saw. Laurel sighed in relief. He seemed to be unhurt and well if a little pale.
He had heard her enter and reached out for her without turning away from the mirror. Laurel sat down next to him and let him gather her into his arms until she was safely wrapped in his embrace.
"Is this the Mirror of Erised?" she asked.
Severus nodded and placed a quick kiss onto her temple. "Did they tell you what it does?"
"Sort of. It shows us what we desire."
"The one desperate wish each of us harbours deep down in their heart. What do you see, Laurel?"
She cleared her throat. "I see the hill at the lake. The tree on top, it has grown. We are sitting in the shade."
His hand lazily stroked her arm and she settled back against his body with a sigh of contentment.
"You have your head in my lap, your eyes closed, and I read to you." She squinted. "It is …"
"Of Dragonblood and its Use in Multiplying Potions."
"No. Actually it is 'Hogwarts - A Revised History' and - wow, I seem to be the author." She chuckled. "You bravely endure it."
"I suppose it's a case of 'Close your eyes and think of potions'. Don't let it go to your head."
"You look happy. Grey hair becomes you, my darling."
"I know you fell for my beautiful face," he laughed softly. "I like that white streak in your hair. You'll grow old lovely. The shawl becomes you as well."
"The grandchildren gave it to me for our wedding anniversary." Her voice trembled. "How do you know, Severus? How do you know I am wearing a shawl?"
The Potions master stayed silent for a long moment. Then brought up her hand and kissed the pulse at her wrist. Burying his face in her hair and taking in the scent of burned almonds, he whispered softly into her ear.
"Because I see the same."
* * *
Well, friends, this is it. The End.
"Whole again" was the first fanfiction I ever wrote. The first story I ever wrote in English. I can hardly convey how much I enjoyed it. Not only did I learn a whole bunch of new words and phrases (- my English teacher is pleased) - it also was so much fun to spin a yarn chapter after chapter. And to write for an audience! Thank you all so much for your reviews and e- mails!
I had never planed this to continue longer than five or six chapters, but now I just can't stop - although I should probably go and get one of those lives everybody keeps telling me about.
I kind of fell in love with my characters, not just Snape (sigh …) but also Laurel and Sirius and Remus and of course Serene. So I decided to start another story - about Sirius ("Whole again - Sirius") and get the poor guy a family of his own besides Harry. And I'll let all the others appear in it as well. Just as Dumbledore said - neither of them can stand alone. And then, if I still have words and breath left, I'll bring Serene and Remus together ("Whole again - Remus").
Whatever happens on the way there - I do believe in Happy Endings.