Title: Forever Idyll
Character and Pairing: Severus Snape, Regulus Black, Rabastan Lestrange, Evan Rosier, Abraxas Malfoy; Severus/Rabastan implied
Beta Reader: 00sevvie
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Canon character deaths.
Summary: Severus sketches out his future, and that of several of his friends, assisted by a young Regulus Black.
It was summer hols. For once in a way, Severus had a true holiday.
No child was permitted to stay at the school in summer, though some few remained at Christmas. Severus' first year he had been packed back to Spinner's End. There he had kept and repaired the house as bidden. He had dodged glares from his mother while his father alternately avoided him and raged that he was just like his mother. He was not, but his tight lips and defensive demeanour made him appear to be as cold, heartless and unbending as she was.
In later years he had been taken into the Malfoy's home as Abraxas' protégé. He had worked with fierce joy, studied in the great man 's laboratory, and applied himself to conscious adoption of his host's manners, customs, grace, and accent.
This year they were all on a real holiday at the Rosier's estate in Cornwall. It was an educational stay to be sure, but in the mornings they were free to roam in the fields, to amuse themselves in the small lake, to generally enjoy the outdoors and their friends' home.
Rabastan was closest to him. The older boy had once kissed him at Christmas under mistletoe he had hung in a quiet corner by Severus' bed. Once, after the Yule ball, he had danced with Severus in the silent deserted dormitory until the others had returned. They never mentioned these moments. There had been no discussion at the time or after, but they had created an atmosphere of companionable trust that Severus had never had. Rabastan was big and solid, somehow giving the impression of curling a warm coat about himself, even in light summer robes. They sat together and looked for one another with quiet understanding.
Today, however, it was Regulus with him before breakfast in the shining dew and still-pale sun. He was youngest and brightest — agreeable quicksilver in movement and thought. Everyone loved Regulus, and Severus was always enchanted by his irresistible presence.
They had Bernard &mdash Rabastan's loping irish setter — with them and even as he bounded ahead to the pond, he looked back for them over his doggy shoulder with a doggy grin. Severus had brought his sketchbook and colored pencils, and he sat against the wall — the stone hedge, Evan had said.
Regulus followed Bernard down to the water with a stick to throw. The big red dog simply plunged in, but Regulus tucked his robes up into his belt, leaving his white linen drawers reaching to his knees. He was modest. Evan would have simply stripped. Bernard paddled, his nose seeming to float in the water after his initial huff at the cold. Crouching, Regulus bent and ducked his head over into the water, still careful of his silk robes.
"What a grand way to wake!" He laughed over at Severus and threw his head back, swinging his hair up over it in a shining black arc trailing a glitter of flung water drops as high again as Regulus was tall.
Bernard joined in, lumbering cheerfully from the clear pond, shaking himself in a wet ginger puffball that produced its own halo of sun and water sparks.
And that was the way Severus drew them. He sat on the morning stone, so cold it almost seemed to burn him. But he chose not to cast a warming spell, leaving the experience as pristine as the water was. He drew Regulus with his first instant of laugh, calling to him, eyes bright and teeth smiling. He drew Bernard, eyes squinted shut in happiness, his mouth open as if he too were about to laugh. Behind them, Severus sketched in the pond and the stone wall, the edge of the stone manor house with morning light reflected also in its windows. The grass was studded with violets here and there. The path wound through the field, reddish tan to contrast with the grass, made more detailed by an occasional stone. The sky was big and blue behind them with small curls of cloud.
And that was the way Severus drew them, on an idyllic holiday morning in Cornwall in 1976.
Regulus ran and played with Bernard, throwing the stick again and again, trying to trick him, trying to cast it in different ways, casting charms on it in the air so it whistled or turned to rainbow colours.
When Severus had nearly completed his picture, Regulus collapsed next to him on the stone and Bernard, dry now, nudged his leg for pets. "Let's see what you have drawn, then. It's such a perfect morning."
Severus passed him the drawing, and submitted to Bernard's requests. Regulus' attention was gratifying. Though Severus' nonchalance was studied, he noticed the easy acceptance and interest, and he was deeply relieved and grateful. He belonged. Regulus peered at his picture eagerly.
"Oh, but you've forgotten something!" Regulus reached for the pencils. "May I?"
Of course he could. Severus loved the younger boy.
Alas, he was no artist, but the picture soon contained an almost scribble of a black triangular figure against the stone wall. It had black streaks of hair and black smudged eyes, but also a prominent white nose and handfuls of bright little lines to represent pencils. "And look! Here comes Rabastan!" On the porch of the house Regulus quickly added another irregularly-sketched shape of dark green. This one had an arm raised waving, a flat grey and green cap, and a big smile.
And then Rabastan was there, summoning them in for breakfast. He slipped Bernard a couple of the special treats he made himself and kept in his pockets. As Severus tucked his drawing away in his book, Rabastan put an arm around his neck. "It's a beautiful morning."
Severus pressed his head against his friend's briefly as they entered the house behind Regulus, more pleased than he thought he would ever dare say. "It's just wizard," he answered, in the parlance of his father's own schooldays.
Abraxas was dead. Severus did not know how such a thing could be. How could the world continue without his mentor, who had saved him from the squalor of his parents' lives and home?
Regulus was missing, presumed dead.
Evan was dead.
Rabastan was in prison.
Antonin was in prison.
Rodolphus and Bella were in prison.
Lucius was free, but he and Narcissa had a small son.
And Abraxas was dead.
Of course Lily was dead, and the Dark Lord, and his parents, but all that was different and less immediate because he had not seen them every day. They had not been so surely woven into his life. Lily had once been, it was true, but she had extricated herself. And of course Sirius was in prison and James was dead — the downfall of his enemies did not please him as much as he thought it would.
Severus was packing his trunks from the dungeons of Malfoy Manor to move them to his new dungeons in Hogwarts. He had left the school with triumph and bitterness not five years ago, never expecting to return. He had been happy here with Abraxas. This had been home. One trunk was filled with potions, precious and often so rare as to be irreplaceable. Abraxas had spared no expense for Severus' research. He wiped his eyes again and turned to his papers, his selection of black clothing and mementoes from his childhood. These would go in a much smaller trunk, though he had a third for his cauldrons and apparatus and a fourth for his books.
He pushed the potion trunk out of the way a little more suddenly than he intended into a small stack of his schoolbooks. They not so much toppled as slid to lie spread in a fan.
Severus wiped his eyes again, which seemed to be swimming though they were dry now. Something... There, between the books. Something was moving. He investigated. Perhaps it was the elusive Wrackspurts or Nargles for which they were always searching in The Quibbler. No, his papers were moving. No. He peered closer.
And then he was reaching quickly for the paper, snatching it to his chest. He clenched his eyes and clenched his teeth with emotion. A beautiful summer day. Oh, Regulus. There was a sound, muffled from his shirt. "Severus! You're smothering me!"
He peeled the picture back to look at it. Five years since they had been happy in that distant meadow. And now, in a wizarding picture because they were wizards, a tiny wet-haired Regulus was jumping up and down, and at his side a red dog was barking to get his attention. He touched the picture and little arms reached up to embrace his finger, but all he felt was the smoothness of the pencil and the flexible parchment behind it. Regulus moved in three dimensions, but it was as if he were behind a sheet of glass.
"Oh, Regulus." How could he tell him, the beautiful happy boy with all his life before him?
But ever-gentle, as he had been in life, Regulus looked at Severus closely and his miniature face immediately showed care and attentiveness. He stroked Severus' finger against the paper. "Tell me. Are you in trouble? It cannot be sorrow for me still, for I have been here sleeping, shut in your book for a long long time. We are still in Mr. Malfoy's dungeons I see." He was too tactful to mention how old and worn Severus had become.
"I'm so sorry. I would have given you light; I would have talked to you. I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were here." The thought of Regulus feeling his way blindly through the picture for all these years constricted his chest and heart with guilt.
"Don't worry so. Please. It has been dark, but look! I can go into the house, and sometimes Evan is there. You must have been thinking of him when you drew the picture, and after all it is his house. Severus... has Evan died? Is that what is wrong?"
And Severus poured his heart out to his sympathetic friend, who he had thought lost forever.
"I will be here to share your sorrows always, if you wish, Severus. And your joys, for there will be joys. Maybe not right now, but there will be joys." The tiny Regulus was weeping for him. For him. And for the others for whom no one else cared.
And Severus brought Regulus with him to Hogwarts, his solace and companion through all the years of teaching. He made a beautiful frame and a mat of green and silver silk. He brought the picture with him to France when he visited Paris on the anniversary of the revolution. He brought him to the sea one summer, standing his picture in the window so Regulus could watch the waves and light. He took him on train trips, where Severus frowned at the Muggles, foreboding in his black robes, the small framed portrait of his friend tucked close, enjoying the scenery.
He drew constantly, pouring his nervousness into creativity for Regulus while his potions were brewing peacefully, when his lessons had been planned and the others were plying small-talk in their salon. He drew remembrances of their travels, so Regulus could move from picture to picture, exploring them again at will. He drew the Quidditch pitch, so Regulus could delight himself with the sport at which he had excelled. He drew places and shops, libraries and laboratories, so Regulus would never be bored, never feel finished. When he conducted his own experiments, he drew its components for Regulus as well, so that he became a colleague as well as a friend to the lonely young professor.
At Hogwarts his own rooms were kept absolutely private. They were not the dark gloom his students would have doubtless expected. They might have been, but the walls were ringed round with an ever-growing frieze of hand-drawn or painted panoramas and still-lifes in bright colours. There were blacks and pastels for spring, with blues of water and melting snow. There were deeper greens and blues for summer, with twilit skies of purple and turquoise. There fire colours for autumn. For winter there were not just the white and black of snow and bare trees, but a whole panoply of richness for the holiday season. Though them Regulus ran and flew, and Bernard loped and gamboled.
Severus had drawn a particular hillside he had visited in Wales, studded with unshorn sheep of white and black. This was specifically for Bernard, who learned to herd them on happy autumn days.
One particularly frustrating Monday, after a disastrous lesson with the Gryffindors, Severus had returned to his rooms charred and missing his eyebrows. On this day he found the fluffy sheep all shorn and Regulus emerging from the shepherd's cottage with a whistle and a secret smile.
The year he was awarded the post of Headmaster, Severus moved every single picture and every single portrait to his old room at Spinner's End, warded so securely that nothing would ever remove or harm them. The world could have ended and they would have remained hovering in space. And if Regulus would then have no view, he still would have had his fields, cottages and landscapes, his potions, his library, his Quidditch pitch. And presumably, if Evan's real picture were still safe, Regulus could continue to enjoy his occasional companionship in the big stone house. One winter afternoon, when only warming spells had kept his fingers subtle enough to hold his pens, Severus had returned and sat on the wall drawing the whole Rosier manor with snow, with Christmas candles in the windows, and with a wreath at the door.
When their friends had broken Rabastan out of prison, broken himself, shaky and scarcely responding, Severus had brought him home. Rabastan had wept at the presence of the pictures and their beloved young friend. He had wept again at his beloved Bernard, bounding up and licking his hand, forgetting he could not move beyond the paper in his joy. Regulus had comforted him, and Rabastan's face had grown more focused and peaceful. Rabastan had not wanted to move from the parlour.
That day they had seen Evan's face in the window of the Christmas house, waving.
Severus drew up a will that very night, leaving Rabastan, appreciative as he was, the house at Spinner's End and all he had. He further left it, with indelible spells, to Lucius and then Draco in the event of his death. Even though his wards were secure and sure, Regulus and the pictures must stay safe, along with all Severus had ever told Regulus of himself, his inventions, his dreams, and his... his heart.
After the terrible incident with the snake, Severus had found himself in King's Cross Station, but his choice was not only to return to earth or to move beyond, or to haunt the Shrieking Shack or the school. He moved forward to the world awaiting. But he also went back to Spinner's End, not to the parlour, the yard or kitchens, but to the pictures in the parlour. He went not to haunt it, but to live forever.
Sixteen-year-old Severus rose from the cold stone wall, the hem of his robes wet with dew. Regulus was waiting for him, leaning forward on his toes with excitement as Severus ran forward to embrace his dear young friend.
"Come, Severus, come with me!" And after wrapping his arms about the warm bounding form of Bernard he had followed Regulus, led by the hand to the Welsh hillside. He saw that daisies bloomed over the hillside even though he had not drawn them. He smelled he the grass, the woodsmoke from the shepherd's fire, and... was that oxygen? The earth was cold under his bare feet and the grasses brushed his ankles as he was drawn towards the hut. He noticed his knees did not ache, and everything appeared significantly greater clarity.
"I knew you would come someday, my dearest friend!" Regulus had knit him a sweater, and warm socks, with little Slytherin snakes of white wool knit into the dark wool sweater. "I have kept it to welcome you... home."
Years later, Severus and Regulus were playing keep-away from Bernard by the Rosier pond. Evan was making pasties in the kitchen, on one of his ever more frequent visits. He insisted he bake them himself. It was a family tradition. Severus' and Regulus' mouths were almost watering, they smelled so good. Soon the pasties would be done for dinner.
Something changed — not behind the scenes, but something integral to the picture around them. The collection of scribbled, waving, smiling lines on the porch shivered, coalesced, and reformed into a young man.
Rabastan ran over the field, straight and whole as he had been before Azkaban, his hair crisp and brown again. Bernard leapt into his arms all tongue and delighted wriggles. Regulus and Severus were next, and they dragged him off to meet Evan. This time Severus' arm was about Rabastan's neck in joy and wonder. He and Regulus had hoped and looked for this day, but its reality diminished nothing. They had knit a sweater for Rabastan as well, and planted him a garden beyond the pond, for he loved Herbology.
They would remain strong, happy and young, friends forever. Lucius would ensure it, and Draco, and his son. And all the heirs of Abraxas would benefit from all the accomplishment, resource and knowledge their forefather had offered to a young boy with nothing but ambition and brilliance.
It would always be an idyllic holiday morning in Cornwall in 1976. It would always be a beautiful day.