Author: little beloved PM
Hermione Granger is charged with the task of preparing Severus Snape's memories for trial.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Severus S. & Hermione G. - Chapters: 6 - Words: 12,456 - Reviews: 59 - Favs: 53 - Follows: 36 - Updated: 02-21-13 - Published: 02-04-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8978677
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Severus looked around at the faces in the courtroom. The numbers in the chamber had increased with each day. Once the topic of the fake memories had come up and had been reported in the Daily Prophet, there'd been a veritable avalanche of interested spectators. This morning, on the day when the Wizengamot was due to deliver its judgement, the room was packed to capacity, with a throng of witches and wizards standing in the viewing bay, many of them using Omnioculars to get a better look at him. He scowled at them; wizarding society hadn't improved since last he'd been exposed to it.
The first day of his trial had been entertaining: there'd been a loud gasp when the Prosecution had first brought up the subject of the fake memories. Harry and Ginny Potter had been among the onlookers that morning, and Severus thought the look of complete astonishment on the young man's face had almost been worth everything he'd gone through to save him. It had been most amusing to watch them when Hermione Granger had been announced as the collector and verifier of the remaining memories, and the accusatory glances the Potters had thrown her way had not gone unnoticed.
Hermione had hidden behind the safety of her curls for the rest of that day and most of the next, and he'd experienced a faint stab of remorse that he'd been the cause of such trouble with her friends. She'd been called to the stand to verify the authenticity of the additional memories she'd collected over the months, and the beaming smile she'd given him upon her dismissal had made his heart skip a beat.
The second day had looked promising: his Defence team had spent most of the day going through his memories of all that had transpired between himself and Albus Dumbledore, and he'd felt a sensation of hope begin to grow in his chest. For twenty-four hours, he'd truly believed that he might, at last, be about to become a free man. The members of the Wizengamot, many of them friends of Albus Dumbledore, had seemed sympathetic to the story of the prearranged death, and the Prosecution had done little or nothing to discredit his story.
He'd lain awake for hours that night, wondering what sort of life awaited him outside the prison walls, allowing himself to imagine a happy ending for the first time since his incarceration. And the highlight of that happy ending involved a scene where he gathered Hermione Granger in his arms and kissed her senseless.
But on Wednesday afternoon, it had all gone badly wrong, just as Hermione had predicted it might. The Prosecution, realising that their case was slipping away, had raised the issue of his turn to the light, and the public did not seem eager to accept the simple account of regret and remorse. His Defence had valiantly argued that his defection from the ranks of the Death Eaters was not the matter under scrutiny, but the Wizengamot had upheld the Prosecution's right to follow such a line of questioning, judging it to be relevant to the case. And just as public belief in his innocence had evaporated, so his hopes had plummeted.
Since then, he'd met Hermione's anxious eyes across the courtroom as often as he'd dared, and the pinched look of concern on her face had increased his fears. She had access to the newspapers and to the wizarding wireless and was more aware of how public opinion had evolved during the week, and her apprehensive expression did little to ease his mind. As the Prosecution and Defence made their closing arguments, he allowed the lank curtains of his black hair to fall forward, obscuring his face and allowing him to watch her unobserved.
He could tell she'd dressed with great care today, and her usually unruly mop of hair had been charmed into sleek waves, framing her pretty face. He wondered why she'd gone to such trouble, if she'd done it, perhaps, in anticipation of the possibility of his becoming a free man.
It was finally announced that the Wizengamot was to retire to consider its verdict, and Severus rose slowly from his seat, locking gazes with Hermione as he did so. She flashed him that small, uncertain smile he knew so well, and he gave her a brief nod in return. He turned to follow Albert from the huge chamber into the small holding room behind the dock.
"Will I fetch you something to eat, Severus? Or a cup of coffee?" Albert asked, concerned.
Severus shook his head. "No, thank you, Albert. I've not the appetite." He began to pace the tiny room.
"You need to be keeping your strength up," Albert insisted.
Severus stopped in his tracks, rubbing his brow. Four months ago, he would have been perfectly calm; it would have mattered little to him whether he'd been convicted or proclaimed innocent. The only thing he'd stood to lose was his wand, but now, there was so much more at stake. Yes, he wanted his magic back, but what he wanted more than anything in the world was Hermione Granger, and he couldn't have her if he was behind bars. The situation had once seemed trivial, but now it felt desperate.
Albert watched him above his little round glasses. "If it's any consolation, Severus," he said, dropping his voice to a whisper, "the young lady has begged to see you time and time again during the week, but they've denied her."
Severus folded his arms and scowled at the old man. "What young lady?"
Albert rolled his eyes. "Severus Snape, stop playing the fool. I ain't blind, you know, or deaf. I was a happily married man until my wife passed on, bless her. I know love when I see it!"
"You know what when you see it?"
"Love, you stupid old bat. I've seen the way she looks at you; I've seen the glances the pair of you have shared all week."
Severus stared at him for a moment, and then his shoulders sagged in defeat. He sank into the seat nearest the door. "It's hopeless, Albert. I'll be convicted of manslaughter, if not murder, and I'll return to Azkaban. I cannot expect a beautiful, intelligent young woman to sit around pining for me. It would be kinder to reject her, to let her go."
Albert shook his head and tutted. "I'd imagine the young lady will do as she pleases, and if she wants to pine after you, she will."
They remained silent until a tap at the door announced it was time to return to the courtroom for sentencing.
Severus examined the faces of the Wizengamot, but their expressions gave little away. Most of them seemed neither pleased nor displeased, so he assumed they'd reached something of a compromise. He exchanged a glance with Kingsley Shacklebolt, and the apologetic look the Minister shot him confirmed his fears. His gaze flew next to Hermione, who was chewing nervously on her bottom lip. Her hands rose to cover her eyes as Kingsley Shacklebolt started to speak.
"It is the opinion of the Wizengamot that the charge of murder cannot be considered, owing to the insurmountable evidence that the death of Albus Dumbledore was brought about by prior arrangement, and with his consent."
There was an outbreak of muttering among the spectators, and Severus knew a brief moment of hope.
"However," Kingsley continued, raising his booming voice to command silence, "it cannot be denied that a life has been taken, and that in order to cast the Avada Kedavra curse, one needs to mean it. There are no precedents in Britain for this case; there has never been, as far as we can establish, a case where one wizard has ended the life of another under such unique circumstances. And while we believe all we've heard from Severus Snape's Defence, we cannot allow such an act to go completely unpunished, lest it be interpreted that such actions are deemed acceptable. With that concern foremost in our minds, we've no option but to find the accused guilty of manslaughter."
There was a renewed murmuring among the throng, and Severus locked gazes with Hermione, whose hand was clapped over her mouth, her eyes wide. Although only a second or two passed before his sentence was read out, it felt like hours as he looked upon the girl who had captured his soul.
"We hereby sentence the Defendant to five years in Azkaban, to include the three already served awaiting trial. Case dismissed."
He rose from his seat as if in a dream, aware of nothing but the thought that he had lost her; that his happy ending had slipped away. And as Kingsley Shacklebolt banged his gavel and stood to leave, the vast chamber suddenly erupted into chaos: There were flashing light bulbs as reporters took pictures for the papers; there was applause from members of the public who thought he'd gotten what he deserved; and there were cries of protestation from those who either believed he was innocent, or that his sentence had been too lenient.
But above all the noise and all the shouts, a screeching, distressed cry of, "No!" rang out around the courtroom, and Severus Snape looked up to see Hermione Granger spring to her feet and scramble desperately to the front of the seats.
Every head had turned her way, and when she reached the front of the public section, she angrily shrugged off the protesting arms of his Defence team and flew across the space towards him. She climbed onto a now empty chair and clambered over the wooden barrier separating him and his guards from the rest of the people in the room, and before he could do or say anything, she had launched herself at him.
No longer caring that they were under the scrutiny of hundreds of witches and wizards, and not giving a damn what a single one of them thought, he tangled his hands in her glorious curls and brought his lips to hers.
He kissed her passionately, frantically, as if she was the only woman in the world and as if he might never see her again.
The courtroom fell completely silent, and some part of his brain vaguely registered the flash of a camera to his right, and he knew, but he did not care, that their embrace would make the front page of the Daily Prophet. All that mattered were her hands entwined in his hair, her body pressed against his and her warm lips upon his own. Nothing else really seemed important.
After a moment, the murmuring of the crowd began again, and he felt a firm hand upon his arm.
"Severus," Albert hissed, "I think we need to leave now, before there's a riot."
Reluctantly, he pulled away from her, his gaze fixed upon her tear-filled brown eyes.
"I'll wait for you," she said, her voice choked.
"Hermione," he whispered, "two years is an awfully long time."
"I don't care," she insisted, her arms still around his neck. "I would wait ten years for you, Severus Snape. Even twenty."
The prison guards prised them gently apart, but his gaze did not leave her face.
"I'll write to you," he said, his voice ragged. "As often as I can."
"I'll visit you every weekend," she said, tears running freely down her cheeks.
"And I'll think of you every minute of every day," he said as they led him backwards through the door.
The door closed, and she was lost from sight, and when he turned around, Albert was beaming at him.
"Told you so," the old man muttered.
And as they led him back to Azkaban, he thought that two years wasn't so very long after all, not when he had something worth waiting for.
A/N: Yes. THE END. I mean it. No sequel. Rest assured: all was well, in the end. They let Severus out of prison eight months early for spectacularly good behaviour, and he and Hermione had hot steamy sex on a very regular basis for the rest of their lives.
To every single one of you who reviewed, a massive hug. Now go read Denial - only 27 chapters to go!