Chapter 7

A/N: Thanks everyone for reading! This is the last chapter. Enjoy...

"HERMIONE!" Severus watched, as if in slow-motion, as Hermione's fragile body crumpled to the stone floor. He wrenched himself from the spot he had been standing, everything still moving strangely out-of time.

He didn't notice the blood until he reached her side, and when he did notice it he had trouble not vomiting at the sight. Hermione's face was peaceful, as if she were experiencing a particularly restful dream, but for her eerily pallid skin and the blood. "Hermione!" Severus knelt next to her fallen form and cast a quick charm to check her vital signs.

She was alive, but barely.

Pulling his scattered wits together took nearly all his mental strength. He had to get Hermione to the hospital wing and quickly. If the amount of blood pooling out of her head was any indication she was going downhill quickly. He quickly conjured a stretcher and magicked Hermione onto it. Using a simple levitating charm he steered her from her chambers and walked as quickly as he could to the infirmary.

"What's happened?" Poppy met him at the door and levitated Hermione to the nearest empty bed where she set to work immediately.

"She misjudged her positioning and hit her head on the ridiculous antique breakfront that Albus insisted was harmless," there was bitterness in his tone, "and the collision was enough to knock her to the ground. I brought her here as quickly as possible."

"You've done well," Poppy took a precious second away from her patient to reassure her panicked colleague. She put away the questions about his relationship with Miss Granger for a later date when she could do the musing justice. "Now," her tone returned to the brisk businesslike one that kept her patients in line, "I need a bottle of the new healing potion you made me last week and a bundle of bandages. We're in for a long night."

With one last desperate look at Hermione's alarmingly pallid face Severus left to gather the requested items, silently cursing Albus Dumbledore the entire time. If it hadn't been for that owl this never would have happened.


"Is that...?" Alastor found his voice and sent a concerned glance to the ancient man standing beside him.

"Yes." Albus' heart was heavy as he looked at the frail form lying prone in the mud. To be killed for such a purpose, not for one's self, but for one's connections. He shivered slightly.

"Should I photograph this as well?" Matilda looked back and forth between the men making no real attempt to understand the baffling occurrence she had just witnessed.

The body that had formerly been that of the celebrated Boy-Who-Lived was now that of a girl who could not have been older than 16. The signs of torture were in greater evidence on the girl's white skin. There were large yellowing bruises along her arms, across her naked torso and all over her head. Along with the bruising came swelling that disfigured once beautiful features. Matilda didn't recognize the girl at all, but she couldn't help but want to cry for her. It was obvious that whoever had taken her life had had their fun with her as well. Three years of photographing crime scenes for the Aurors had increased her observation skills ten-fold.

She snapped another full roll of film of the girl before putting her camera back in its case. "Who is she?" Matilda's voice shook slightly.

Neither the Auror nor the Headmaster seemed to hear her question. Albus was staring at the body with sorrowful eyes, feeling intensely guilty for the relief that had washed over him when the body had proved to be some else's other than Harry's. Alastor was casting quiet spells to try and determine when the death and transfiguration had taken place and if they were cast by the same wand. Neither man paid the slightest attention to the woman with them.

Silence stretched as Alastor ran out of spells to practice and Albus continued in his guilty musings. Finally the silence was broken. "How do we tell Arthur?" Albus' voice was horse. "It will kill him. He's already lost so much."

It was at this point that Matilda realized who the girl must be, for there was only one family with hair that color and a man named Arthur: the Weasleys. The family hardest hit in the final battle, or at least that's how most saw it. Of the nine Weasleys who had fought only three had survived intact. Ron had been killed in battle as had Molly, Fred and Bill. Charlie had lost an eye and both legs and George had been sent to St. Mungos after he learnt of his twin's death. The Weasley tragedy had been missed by none and the three of them would have given anything to be able to undo this last wrong, but of course there was nothing they could do.

They stood for a moment more before Albus shook his head gravely, "There's nothing we can do. Come, Alastor, we need to move her back to headquarters."

"Mobilacorpus" Alastor raised the fallen girl with a swish of his wand only to drop both the wand and the girl with a sharp gasp. "He's ... he's..." gesticulating wildly with his hands Alastor turned an uncharacteristically flustered face to Albus. "Albus...? When did...? How?"

Albus sighed broken heartedly. "I don't know. We'll talk about it at headquarters. Lets go." He reached out and placed a hand on the dead girl's arm and apparated the two of them away leaving a frustrated and confused moody to stare at the place they'd been and wonder how long Harry Potter had been amusing himself with rape and torture and why he would leave such a blatant clue carved into his first known victim.



The headmaster did not even turn to face his visitor. "Severus," he said mildly, "I was expecting you sooner. Please have a seat; I feel we have a few things to discuss."

Severus threw himself into a chair with the same faultless grace he did everything sending a stern glare at his employer who was still sitting, quietly contemplating the view from his office window.

"A rainbow is an interesting thing," Albus' tone was wistful, "such beauty from something as seemingly awful as a rainstorm. Now," he turned to stare piercingly at his Potions Master, "what is it that you wanted to speak to me about?"

"You know very well why I'm here Albus." Severus' voice was sullen and earned a twinkle from the man across from him.

"Miss Granger's condition is stable or so I've been told."

"If by stable you mean consistently unconscious certainly she's stable." He was fuming by this point. His hands gripped one another fiercely and he couldn't seem to breathe normally.

Albus looked grave and for a few moments his eyes lost their infernal twinkle. "I understand that you blame me somewhat for Miss Granger's current condition Severus, but I feel that more than that you blame yourself."

Severus clenched his teeth. Damn Albus and his infernal meddling. He glared harder, if that was possible, and stubbornly refused to admit how accurate the headmaster's statement was. Guilt was something he was very used to, but guilt for something not his fault was something he had extreme difficulty coping with. Then again, he mused, he was not entirely blameless. He was the one who told Hermione of the letter's contents, the one who upset her so much that she panicked and tried to escape.

"I'm sorry for wasting your time." He said, standing quickly and walking out of the room still lost in thought.

--- The next few days passed in a blur for Severus. He spent his days helping Poppy in the infirmary and watching fretfully over Hermione's still unconscious form. Albus visited him a few times but was received with open hostility so he soon learnt to simply send his messages through another source. Unsurprisingly Minerva spent nearly as much time watching over her prized student as Severus did. Though her state of mind was as calm and pragmatic as ever Severus had caught her blinking back tears more than once as she looked down on Hermione.

Severus fought daily with the guilt of what happened, playing it over and over in his mind until he was nearly driven mad. It was Poppy who finally suggested that he empty the memory into his pensive so he could "stop fidgeting and be of some use." He gave into her suggestion with ill grace and a plan to punish himself further by watching the incident as an 'unbiased' observer so he could see that he truly was at fault and even show Albus so.

It was with these morbid thoughts in mind that he took an evening away from Hermione's side, leaving Minerva with strict instructions to call him if there was any change, and holed himself up in his chambers. His pensive, a gift from Albus many years before, was stowed away in a seldom opened cupboard. He found it easily and wiped away the thick layer of dust with a simple spell. The memories slipped easily from his mind and floated in an icy vapor into the basin. He peered into the fog as it cleared giving him a distant view of himself, Hermione pressed against him. He saw her whirl away from him and crumple to the floor, saw himself reaching for her a second too late. With a resigned sigh he reached out to touch the memories anticipating the icy sensation of being sucked into the past.


The shout jerked him away from the pensive. "Minerva?"

"She's stirring." Minerva's voice was excited. Her head in the fire practically danced as she regarded him. "Severus, what are you doing?"

"Nothing important," He said quickly jumping to his feet and striding to the fireplace. A moment of sickening twirling later Severus was in the Infirmary. Two long strides carried him to Hermione's side where he saw possibly the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.

Two cinnamon eyes their depth no longer clouded and unseeing, the white, white once again instead of the sickening red he had dreaded. The eyes blinked rapidly, tears seeping unguarded from them and pooling on pale cheeks. His view was blocked by Poppy's hurried presence and he found himself pushed away so the women folk could tend to the patient. He stood silently where they had left him, completely oblivious to the fact that the heartfelt grin on his face would terrify a first year more than his sternest glower.

--- "Severus?" Poppy stood in front of him, her eyes bright from unshed tears. "She's ready to see you now, but there's something you need to know first."

"What is it?" Severus cocked his head to one side and held his breath praying for good news but knowing not all of poppy's tears were of joy.

"She can see," Poppy began with a small smile. "Unfortunately the damage was substantial and she will need glasses for the rest of her life." Poppy swallowed and Severus' heart clenched knowing that the glasses were not the worst of it. "She can't see colors Severus." Finally the tears she had been suppressing escaped and ran haphazardly down her face.

Severus took a steadying breath. "Will she ever be able to?"

"We don't know. No one has ever regained their color vision before, but we must hope."

"Thank you," Severus said simply. He took the few steps to Hermione's side slowly allowing himself to adjust to the news. It was not wholly bad. At least Hermione would be able to function still in the wizarding world, even if she could never brew another potion. All too soon he was at her side, "How do you feel?" He asked taking a tentative seat beside her.

"My head aches a bit," she confessed shamefacedly.

"I should think so." He retorted with a half smile before once again turning serious. "Poppy told me about everything. Are you certain you're alright?"

"I'm fine honestly." She said, ignoring the tears that seemed unwilling to stay in her eyes.

"It alright to be angry Hermione." He said gently.

"N-no, I'm fine Severus, more than fine." She wiped the tears away with one hand. "It's perfect."


"No." her voice was firm and she held his eyes with her own, the fierceness in them surprising him. "It's perfect. I don't care about the colors or the glasses; all I want – all I've wanted for weeks - is to see you." She smiled at him with quivering lips, "I could hear your expressions in your voice, and it broke my heart, because I was so sure I would never get to see them, but now I can see you smile."

Severus took her hand in his and pressed it to his lips, kissing it softly. He couldn't find the words to say how much her caring meant to him. His heart, which he had meticulously starved of feelings for most of his life, had warmed towards this woman in the past weeks, without either his notice or permission. He didn't know if this was love, he didn't have anything in his life to compare it to, but he looked forward to spending the rest of his life finding out, if she would allow it.

--- A few days later ---

At the Order of the Phoenix headquarters Alastor Moody sat alone the only table in the room pouring over the crime scene photos. His brow furrowed in concentration as he jotted down quick notes on a spare sheet of parchment. It all made sense, the carved threats in the corpse, the simple deception of transfiguring the body to resemble the Wizarding World's hero, the pieces were all there but no one in the ministry or Order was willing to hear reason. Well, he thought with a resigned sigh, he knew there was one person who would listen to reason. He stood and walked over to the fire tossing a pinch of dust into the flames he called out the name. "Severus Snape."


Thick cold fog drifted across the moor, breaking like waves against the thick stone walls of Malfoy Manor. A light in the East tower was the only hint of life in the ministry condemned building. Not that there was anyone around to see the light, nor the messy haired man silhouetted by its glow. Neither was there any living, breathing soul to hear the mirthless laugh that echoed off the walls and faded into the misty night.

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A/N: insert dramatic music here so... that's a wrap. I hope you enjoyed it. It was definitely interesting to write. Sorry to all you smut-bunnies out there, as you can see... I don't do smut, or anything remotely close because it ends up being ridiculously corny. I did leave room for a sequel but I'm not promising anything anytime soon.

So sorry it took ,me until... well July to finish this thing. What can I say? The end of high school is a busy busy time.

Anyways... HUGE HUGE thanks to all who reviewed for me during this story.

Cianna Greenwood – Thank you for all your reviews! Hope the ending lived up to all expectations.

On-A-Rainy-Day – Your reviews are probably the only reason I got this far in this story so Thank you for reviewing every chapter and even visiting my LJ. I hope you liked the ending.

Crazley – Thanks for reviewing!

Unicorn Lady – Alright... How did you guess my plot twist pouts childishly And here I am thinking I'm all genius for coming up with something so twisted. wink Thanks so much for reviewing.

Claire Rickman Snape –thanks for your review!

Aegina – wow thanks for the confidence in my abilities hope this lived up to every expectation. Thanks for reviewing

Bronwyn – thanks for your review!

The Brain - lol... not bad for your first Fan Fic review ever. Thanks both for the review and for caring enough to bag me into finishing this chap

Junella – Thank you for your review. A little dark fic keeps you sane. Hope you liked the end.