I know it's been a while. But here it is. Enjoy.
Hermione had washed her face and reapplied her makeup – she didn't make any drastic changes to her appearance this time; she just wanted to accentuate her features to make her feel special. Tonight, after all, would be the night she would lose her virginity. To Severus Snape.
The thought made her heart pound intensely. She was wearing the dress she wore to the party where she saw Ron and Lavender kiss. Someone had once told her that to let go of the past, you needed to make new memories. After tonight, this dress she wore would no longer signify her ignorance about boys, but would forever be the dress she had shed to finally become a woman.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she realized how much she had changed: finally, she had learned to tame her curls to tumble attractively around her face, finally she had learnt how to make her features look slimmer and more feminine. Finally, she felt like a girl who boys would find attractive. Even perhaps Ron.
But none of that mattered anymore. What did the opinion of any boy matter when a strong, clever, powerful man found her attractive? Not at all.
It was with that thought that she took a deep breath and put on high-heeled shoes, and draped a black, satin evening cloak over her shoulders to cover her dress as she walked through the corridors; a cloak that only just covered her bare knees.
After one final look in the mirror, Hermione descended the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room.
The person she encountered at the bottom of the staircase, however, was the last person she expected, or wanted, to see.
Ron was standing there with his arms crossed, his bruised cheek and cut lip – injuries she had indirectly caused - were pulled into a grave expression.
After a moment of awkwardness where neither knew how to react, Hermione remembered Snape and his strict time limit, and made to the portrait hole.
'Hermione, I'm sorry,' he said just as she walked past him.
She stopped in her tracks. Had she heard him right?
'I'm sorry.' There, he said it again.
She turned around to see if he was joking. But he was deadly serious.
'For everything. I'm sorry for everything.'
Hermione's brows knit in confusion, her eyes searching his for any sign of sarcasm. But there was none. Where was this coming from? After her mind puzzled the question in vain, she patted him on his shoulder.
'That means a lot,' she said, not sounding like it meant anything at all, and then immediately made her way to the portrait hole.
She needed to see Snape.
Evidently, Ron wasn't done with the conversation: he darted in front of her, his towering figure blocking the exit entirely.
'Where are you going?'
'Ron, I appreciate your apology, really I do, but I need to be somewhere-'
Hermione rolled her eyes. Not having any time for games, she used her hands to physically push him to the side.
But he wouldn't move, not one bit.
'Seriously, get out of my way.'
'Tell me where you're going.'
'For the love of-'
-it's a simple question: Where. Are. You. Going?'
Hermione narrowed her eyes.
'You should know by now, that's none of your business.' She tried to keep her tone even but the iciness still bit through. Ron, to his credit, held her gaze evenly, accepting every bit of blame that radiated through her gaze.
But still, he wouldn't move.
'What's wrong with you?' she seethed.
'I know who you're going to see. That's what's wrong with me.'
Hermione let out a growl of frustration. 'It's not Harry, not that it's any of your business.' Before she had only half-heartedly attempted to physically move him, hoping he would get the hint. Now, however, she used every shred of force in her to knock him to the ground. But he merely grabbed her arms tightly before she had the chance to bulldoze him over. If anyone had looked in on the scene it would almost seem like they were about to embrace. But the pain in Hermione's arms and the anguish in Ron's face said otherwise.
'Snape,' he said in a strained voice, 'you're going to see Snape.'
Hermione faltered for a split second. Her heart beat fast.
How the hell did he know? He couldn't know. And even if he did, he couldn't possibly know the whole truth.
Hermione pulled herself out of Ron's grip, and tossed back her hair.
'If you must know, I am indeed seeing Professor Snape to discuss Order business,' she said nonchalantly. 'Now if you'll excuse me-'
But Ron still blocked the entrance, his arms out like a goalkeeper determined the ball would never ever hit the net.
'Don't you think you're a bit dressed up to see a Professor?' his eyes, refusing to give in to the temptation of travelling down her body, continued to pierce her.
Hermione's heart beat faster and faster. How could he know? He couldn't know, he couldn't possibly know-
'He's using you, Hermione, can't you see? He was boasting about sleeping with you to Harry. That's how I know.'
Her heart pumped so violently, she thought she was going to be sick.
'You have no idea what you're talking about,' she hissed.
It couldn't be true…
'I'm sorry, Hermione. I never meant for you to get involved-'
'-do you really think everything is about you? I knew you had a big ego, Ron, but I didn't realise it was this big.' She was furious, her whole body felt on fire.
'I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm really, truly, deeply sorry, for Lavender, for everything-'
'-do you really think you can just come along and say you're sorry and everything is ok?' She was hysterical, on the verge of tears. 'Do you really think that now you've decided so, everything can be ok? It's too late, Ron. You're too late.'
'You can't go to him. I'm serious,' Ron said, his own voice starting to break with the threat of tears. 'I won't let you. I don't care if you'll hate me forever, I don't care if we never speak again, but I will not let you make the biggest mistake of your life.'
'You know what? The biggest mistake of my life was thinking I actually liked you. Now get out of my way.' Hermione drew out her wand. It was, in reality, an empty threat. She hadn't been able to summon enough energy for a decent spell in months.
Ron raised his wand as well and spoke quietly. 'Do you know how to cast Aveda Kedavra? Because that's the only way you'll get past me'.
For a moment, Hermione was stunned into silence as she realized she had never seen Ron so truly, sincerely angry. Before she could think of her next move, she heard a shaky voice from behind her.
'If she wants to go, she can go.' It was Ginny.
Hermione growled in frustration and turned to face her ex-best-friend. Ginny's eyes were red and puffy. She was wearing an oversized hoodie and jeans and looked much smaller than Hermione remembered.
'Can you please tell your idiot brother to move.'
'If you want to go, no one can stop you. But, please, just hear me out first. I know about you and Snape. Harry told me.'
Hermione rolled her eyes. 'Trust me, you don't know anything.'
'I do. I've seen you're scars. I know how badly you're hurt, how badly you're hurting.'
'Oh please!' Now Hermione was really angry. Who did they think they were? Did they really think they could just rock up here and boss her about?
'Hermione, I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you, that I was so wrapped up in my own problems to help you.'
As if she hadn't heard Ginny, Hermione turned to Ron. 'Move. Now.'
Ron had a puzzled expression on his face. 'What does she mean by scars?'
Hermione raised her left arm from beneath her cloak to let him see her scars from Sectumsempra in all their glory.
Ron's red face instantly turned white. 'He did this to you?'
'No. I did this to me. You have no idea what I'm capable of. So if I were you, I'd move. Now.'
In complete shock, Ron watched as Hermione lowered her arm and came right up close to him. 'Move.'
He stared at her with a broken expression, before he reached in his pocket.
'Take this,' he said, handing her the Felix Felicus, 'you're going to need it.'
Hermione gritted her teeth. Somewhere in her subconscious she acknowledged that it was a big move for him to hand her the potion he had envied Harry for having so much. But at that moment, she was more insulted than impressed.
'No thanks,' she seethed.
'Wait,' Ginny cried from behind, 'if- if you really love him, you can be with Harry... I - I don't mind… please don't go to Snape. All I really want is for us to be friends. Like before.' Her words almost had an effect on Hermione. Was Ginny really willing to give up Harry?
At the end of the day all of these words and selfless gestures were simply a little too late. Why did it take for her to sleep with Snape for them to want to help her?
Sleep with Snape.
That's what she was about to do. The very thought of the mysterious man made her knees tremble and her stomach flutter with nervous, excited butterflies making her forget all about Ron and Ginny.
Sure, he had revealed their secret to taunt Harry, but she knew what kind of a man he was when she had signed up for this.
With a steely determination, she turned her back on a distraught Ginny and Ron and finally made her way through the portrait hole, hoping she wasn't too late to see Snape.
But as she briskly walked through the corridors and down to the dungeons in her heels which caused a sharp pain in her calves and at the balls of her feet every time her shoes hit the ground, she realized something wasn't right.
How on earth did Snape expect Harry to take the news lying down? Did he expect to just taunt Harry and then for him to forget about it?
Even though she knew she was cutting it fine time-wise, Hermione suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, her mind and heart pounding furiously as she, reluctantly, finally realized the truth…
….Snape had planned this: Snape had planned for Harry to- somehow- stop her.
Hermione began to run at break-neck speed to his office, the pain from her shoes battling desperately with the pain tightening in her chest.
Snape's actions only meant one thing - he had never intended to sleep with her...
Dumbledore had always said Snape was a clever man, but unfortunately he was too clever. Too clever for Slytherin that's for sure. The Sorting Hat should have chosen Ravenclaw or Gryffindor at a push. It was moments like this that Snape agreed entirely with Dumbledore: he was too clever for his own good.
He had told the boy everything in the hope that he would get his friends to stop Hermione from visiting him tonight. But even now when, as the clock struck the hour, he knew he had been successful, he couldn't help feeling disappointed that she hadn't arrived. It was his one chance at just a few happy moments. Why couldn't he allow himself just that?
But as the door suddenly burst open, and the girl was standing there as beautiful and innocent as ever, he knew why: it was wrong. Plain wrong.
'Did you really think that they would've stopped me?'
He stared at her in silence, his face an unmovable mask.
'Isn't that what you wanted?' There was a light perspiration on her forehead, her legs shook under her impossibly thin, high heels, her body was covered in a black cloak, which, if her face was anything to go by, would reveal a body prepared for him.
'I was saving you,' he said finally.
'How noble of you. And along the way, you taunted me and my friends and ruined my life. Those were all just perks of saving me from myself, were they?' her eyebrows were raised high in accusation.
'I was saving you from me.'
'You were the one who suggested we meet.'
Snape couldn't hold her gaze any longer. She was right. He couldn't deny the satisfaction of seeing her choose him – choose him over her friends, over Potter.
All this time he had pretended the girl was obsessed with him because she needed validation. But the reality of the situation was that it was he who needed validation.
If the muscle that allowed him to genuinely laugh hadn't been inactive for over seventeen years, he probably would have chuckled, or smiled at least at this ridiculous but true realization. All he could manage, however, was a sneer, a sneer that instantly reduced her angry face into hurt eyes and quivering lips.
'Did you just do all this to mock me?' her wavering voice may have shattered Snape on the inside, but his cruel, taunting façade refused to even falter for a split second.
'Because of you,' he began slowly, making sure she understood every single syllable, 'I've lost control of my temper, my magic, and my ability to reason. Not just once, but many times. Surely, deep down, underneath all your insecurities which you have used to imprison your bright mind,' Snape paused, 'you know the effect you have on me.'
His voice was so even, his penetrating stare so unforgiving, he was sure she hadn't really heard what he had said.
But as her cheeks delicately tinged red and her chest rose and fell more rapidly, he knew she had.
The girl bravely took a step closer towards him.
Once again, she had been able to see past his exterior, the role he had to play, to see what he really meant, what he really wanted.
She unclasped her cloak to let it fall to the floor.
Snape gulped at the sight before him, the sight she had wanted only for him to see tonight. Not Potter. No one else. But him.
'And you must know by now that I'm...,' the girl began breathlessly, '…I'm in love with you…'
'You think you are.'
This girl, who was selflessly offering him everything when he had only given her cruelty, sent a shimmer of doubt through his normally iron-clad resolve. What if there really was hope? What if letting himself love her would rescind some of his sins? After all, you only needed one atom's worth of light in an ocean of darkness to have chance to make it to shore. It was a small chance, but a chance none the less.
But even if all the clichés were right - even if love could save him, he wouldn't let it.
This grave he had willingly chosen, he had chosen himself.
And he would lie in it alive.
This decision, which he had made many years ago, he would honor to the end.
Snape had no choice.
He had to show her what kind of a man he really was.
'Miss Granger, give me your hand…'
The girl obliged.
With his eyes never leaving hers, Snape lowered his head to kiss her knuckles, whispering a spell as he did so…
A searing scream split the air in the room as white hot pain shot through Hermione's arm. A blackness surrounded her, and even though she couldn't feel anything but the piercing pain in her arm, she knew she had hit the ground.
When she came to, the pain had reduced to a slow throb.
Snape was gone.
She didn't know then, but she would never see him again.
Not alone anyway.
Her brain was completely shut off, apart from the part which could focus on the now and the immediate future. With her arm cradled against her stomach, she returned to Gryffindor tower.
'Hermione!' Ginny gasped at the sight of her friend 'You didn't see Snape… You came back! I knew you would….'
Hermione merely nodded before Ginny flung herself at her best friend, and Hermione had to shield her painful, heavy arm from the embrace. Across Ginny's shoulder, Hermione saw Ron's eyes fill with tears before he looked away.
Hermione pushed Ginny gentlyback and took a deep breath.
'Listen,' she said in a tone that made both Ron and Ginny swallow anything they were about to say, 'let's just forget everything. Everything that's happened today, these past few months, since the beginning of this year. There's something big happening in Hogwarts tonight - let's just focus on that. Afterwards, we will sort everything out. Ok?'
But even after the war, they never did discuss it ever again.
The other two nodded.
They all embraced in a hug.
All was well.
That night, when Hermione learnt that Snape had killed Dumbledore, she felt nothing. Her brain refused to process anything. It was only when she heard Snape had fled Hogwarts, did she have the courage to pull back her sleeve and look at her arm. Her scars from Sectumsempra were all gone – instead there was writing, three words in black, gothic script etched into her skin. Three words she had been dying to hear for what felt like a lifetime: you are beautiful.
Instantly, those black words staring at her made her feel so sick and ashamed that she had wanted - no needed - so desperately to hear those words from such a man, or any man for that matter. But especially him. He had killed Dumbledore without any sign of remorse. There was no good in him at all. How had she been so stupid?
Never able to find an answer to this question. Hermione simply learnt to block out the memories of him entirely and either charmed to conceal the writing or wore long-sleeved tops that she refused to take off even in the heat.
But sometimes, especially when they were on the run, Hermione's mind would wonder... What about the connection they had had? What about the words he had permanently burned into her arm - were they all lies? Had she imagined them? She must have. Look at what he was doing. He had turned Hogwarts into an academy for Deatheaters…
The last time she saw him was when he died. He took one look at her before he asked Harry to stare him in the eyes.
The next day, a jet black raven brought her a letter.
It informed her that the Patent Rights for "Sectumsemrpa" had been passed to her from the previous owner who was now deceased. As the new Intellectual Owner of a Dark Spell, she had the right to decide whether to ban persons under the age of 17 from using it on anyone including themselves. She agreed.
She knew the truth now. She knew that he loved Lily. That Harry had reminded him of James, that she had merely been an echo of a ghost of someone he had once loved, if that.
She was grateful that the memories he provided Harry did not contain her. The people most important to her - Harry, Ron, Ginny, and McGonagall - knew the truth. The whole world didn't need to know. Gratefully, no one, not even McGonagall, ever brought up the subject of her and Snape's brief relationship around her. It was always assumed that, at some point after the war, they would discuss it. But the deaths of their loved ones had cleansed all memories and marks of the past.
Harry never knew about her scars from Sectumsempra. And Ron never asked again. Even when they saw the writing on her arm: they assumed it was a symbolic tattoo to remind herself of her own strength.
It was only after the war had ended did she try to find methods of removing the writing. But even after countless of advanced Healers had looked at her arm, even after trying Muggle laser surgery, the writing would not move. Hermione noticed, that in the times she was happiest, the scar had almost faded completely. But whenever she had a serious argument with her husband, Ron, whenever she felt like running to Harry –Ginny's husband - she would see the scar as bold as ever.
Forever etched into her skin would be his voice saying: you are beautiful…