TITLE: A Cold Coming We Had Of It
SUMMARY: After death, there are still decisions to be made.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing. Dur.
NOTES: Title taken from "Journey of the Magi", by T.S. Eliot. This has nothing to do with that, I just thought it sounded cool.
Written in response to #48 - "Remus and Severus are soul mates, but both of them died before they realized it. Will they get the chance to be together in the afterlife?"
[The last thing he remembers is the sound of breaking glass.]
The room is white and he's standing next to the wall, carefully watching the creature across from him. It's made of potions bottles and vials, held loosely together with air, and is swaying slowly in a circular motion.
The glass knocks together gently, like a windchime.
"Have you chosen your answer?" it asks him in a voice like tree branches scraping against stone.
Severus shakes his head.
The glass-creature bows, then folds itself through the wall. The sharp clinking noises gradually fade away.
Time does not pass, here. Sometimes Severus pretends it does, and keeps it by counting the number of his exhalations. He loses track, though, and occasionally forgets to breathe.
He has never been in love.
There is a table of old dark wood, cuts from knives running alongside the grain. He runs his hand along the side of it, circling the knots with his thumb, pressing the pads of his fingers against the sharp edge of the metal-lined corners.
Suddenly he is on top of the table, tied down with thick, fraying rope. Staring down at him is a Dementor wearing Dumbledore's gold-threaded dress robes. He cannot open his mouth to scream.
In a memory of a life he might've led, he's crying.
The tears fall and elongate into silver needles that splash soundlessly onto the floor, and there is a hand that slices gracefully through the air, intersecting with his head. He flinches, but it passes through him with a ripple of static-electricity. He looks up, vision blurred, at the buzzing crackling form of his father.
"Don't you know what you've *done*?" his father shouts. Severus shakes his head.
He meets Lucius in a restaurant painted bright red, empty except for the two of them. Lucius is sagging against the back of his chair, his hands held limply on the table in front of him. The wet, gleaming skull smiles at Severus, and he can hear the dull click of bone knocking against bone.
"You've been dead for a while, I suppose?" Severus asks.
"You've got a long way to go," Lucius says in a low purr.
"That's *not* what I was *asking*," Severus snaps.
There is no conversation, briefly. The bones of Lucius' fingers tap out a military rhythm against the tabletop. Severus looks at the floor, noticing the intricate pattern of animal footprints that swirl their way around his feet. They look like Remus', he thinks, and that idea sends a scratching swarm through him that does not hurt at all.
"Who will you betray?" Lucius asks, but his mouth does not move.
Severus says nothing.
He's on the table again, but this time there are no ropes. He almost misses the feel of them across his chest.
Voldemort is looking down at him from fifty feet tall, his legs and torso stretched out like taffy. He bends over stiffly, his joints creaking audibly, and caresses Severus' face. Severus reaches up and grabs Voldemort's arm, but his hand goes through it like it was made of forgetfulness potion. He shudders and snatches his hand back, and rubs the liquid off on his robes.
"I came to claim you," Voldemort says, only it comes out as a series of handclaps.
"I haven't chosen yet," Severus replies. "I have other options, you know."
"Of course," Voldemort says. In his eyes is the reflection of a wolf.
"Yes, yes, that's one of them," Severus says. The words hover over him for a second in blue-black inkclouds and then dissipate.
"So what got you?" Remus asks.
Severus sighed, and leaned back in his chair. "A potions accident, predictably enough. I dropped vials of henrow and ivinin, they broke next to each other, and they exploded. And what felled *you*, Lupin?"
"Oh, very dramatic. I'm sure you left a lovely corpse... I was killed in the line of duty by Draco Malfoy."
"How Gryffindor of you," Severus says with a sneer.
Remus looks at him oddly, then grins. "I've been dreaming of you for days," he whispers conspiratorially, and winks.
"Ah." Severus says quietly.
//Well?// Remus' eyebrows ask.
"I've never been in love before," Severus mutters sharply, defensively.
"Now's as good a time as any," Remus replies, and holds out his hand.
Severus hesitates only slightly before taking it.
"Have you chosen your answer?" the glass-creature asks him in a voice like fur rubbing against wool.
"Yes," Severus says, and smiles faintly.
x The End x