Severus Snape stood on the top of the North Tower, as the North wind blew crisp and clear in the growing autumn chill. Atop the railing, beside the drop, sat crystal glasses.
Severus strode to the first one, a bonny gin; the sort he'd never seen his father drink, nor his mum. But he had smelt it, just a bit, when Lily's wedding party had come through. Not that they'd seen him, of course. He'd known better than to use magic, naturally, and a wizard without an alarm was as good as deaf. Lily had eyes only for James, anyway, so what did it matter?
Gin, local gin, the sort the distillery down the road made.
"For Lily," Snape thought but did not speak. Even if the wind made to steal his words from his mouth, someone might still overhear. He sipped the glass slowly, making the drink last as long as the memories, and there were many, up here in the gloaming cold.
There were eleven glasses of scotch, each one for a fighter, as Scots were so often born - and Borderlanders even more likely. As he sipped the fine, smooth liquor, he could smell smoke - hinting of far-off fire. Some he'd set himself, others he was dousing. "To comrades in arms," he said inside the welcoming caverns of his own head, not letting even a hint of his melancholy pass his lips.
Two shots of ouzo, for the strangers in this Mad British land, one on each side of the fight, and both uncaring for whom they fought. Mercenaries, hard men, and yet with that ready Greek grin that said The Devil May Care, but I don't!
Twenty glasses of wine, a third red, and the rest white, for the Continental Wizards - the reds for the French, and the white for the Germans. The Germans, trained at Durmstrang, had fought effectively as a unit, and Snape paid them tribute as such.
A snifter of apricot brandy, Snape poured, remembering how the Dark Lord had smiled at the Swiss Guard he'd purchased, and how he'd smiled more when told they'd perished, "More British Wizards live, for their deaths!" And the English crowd had roared.
Three glasses of sherry, for the Spaniards,and then two glasses of port for the witches from Portugal, who Snape had bet Dolokhov that he couldn't get to say a word, and Snape had won. Bella insisted that they'd speak to girls, but Snape had never seen it to be true.
Snape poured two glasses of rotgut gin, saving the worst for last. These he did not drink, but poured on the ground, a libation that would not pass his own lips. "Black, Potter." He said with his jaw still closed, and let himself remember. He'd had laughs at their expense, and they at his, but there'd been so much bad blood and fighting that they'd never truly reconciled, nor did Snape think they would, if given a thousand years and divine intervention. Still, they were dead before him, he thought, a wry smile on his face remembering - a thousand times, in a thousand places, how he'd told Lily the same thing. They'll be dead before me.
"Doing the right thing is so rarely even possible." Snape bleakly growled, and drowned out all the voices with a Sobriety Potion. As if it was a normal day, and as if he was on his normal insomniac rounds, he headed back down to the dungeons.
[a/n: I could go on. A friend of mine does the same ritual, but only for those dead within the past year. He's often quite drunk by the end.
Snape's had comrades on both sides of the war, and remembers them all.
... also, he Usually does this on Halloween, long after the students are in bed, but they're having a bloody dance then, and the children won't be truly abed before 3am.
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