“Look at me,” he rasped out. The boy paused, and Severus drank in the sight of the sweater he was wearing. It was undoubtedly made by the Weasley’s brat’s mother, but it looked so like his …
He closed his eyes, and everything went dark for a few minutes. When he opened them, he was sitting in the childhood park where he’d once played with Lily Evans, where he’d retreated when it seemed certain he’d lost her forever, just after she married that fool Potter.
Severus looked around hopefully, but he wasn’t there. Dumbledore, however, was, merrily swinging.
Severus walked over and sat on the swing nearest the trees at the edge of the park. “I’ve failed, then. I’m dead.”
“Dead? I’m afraid so, my boy. But failed?” Dumbledore looked into the distance for a moment, pumping his legs, his robe occasionally sweeping up to show some calf. “No. No, you haven’t failed.”
“The Brat who Lived will defeat the Dark Lord, then?” His face twisted into a sneer when the ridiculousness of that sentence struck him. Too many titles.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “I believe he will. You kept him safe —”
“It’s not as if I wanted to,” Severus muttered belligerently, hoping he’d not mixed in his most treasured memories. He didn’t want anyone knowing about that.
“— and your memories will help him grain victory.”
Severus digested this in silence as Dumbledore swung higher. “So I can move on then?”
“If you’d like,” Dumbledore said. “But we’re waiting for someone to join us.”
Severus narrowed his eyes at the old man, who gracefully leapt from the swing and floated down to the ground. “Who?”
“Why don’t you turn around and see for yourself?”
Severus whipped around, but there was no one in the trees. He turned back to ask Dumbledore a question, but it died on his lips when he saw his mentor was gone. Scowling, he turned back around — and saw a brightly patterned sweater, and above it, a face he’d never hoped to see again.
“Severus!” Bill said, delight plain in his voice. “I’ve been waiting and hoping to see you again, lurking around and scowling and eating jigglers after dinner.”
Severus couldn’t speak. In fact, he could barely blink. And he realized in horror, when he tried, that there were tears in his eyes.
“I got us a picnic right through these trees over there,” Bill said. “There’s sandwiches and lemonade and pudding pops. I know it’s not the Forbidden Forest, but you do still like picnics, don’t you?”
Severus cleared his throat. “Yes,” he creaked out, and swallowed painfully. “Yes, I’d like that very much.”
And Bill Cosby took Severus Snape’s hand and led him into the afterlife.