Please please read this before you read the fic! If you ask me one of these questions (which I will already have answered) in your review, I will laugh and throw rotten pineapples at you. So save us both a little time and PLEASE READ THIS A/N!
This story has been in existence for a couple of weeks, and I previewed it to a couple of close friends so I could gather some of the most frequently asked questions. Here are the questions and answers, which I think will clear up a good deal about this story before you begin to read.
Q: Is this a Harry Potter / Phantom of the Opera crossover?
A: Well, no, I wouldn't say that. Call it…more of a 'Phantom' inspired story. Meaning, characters from 'Phantom' aren't going to be popping up, though I may mirror them with Harry Potter characters. You won't need to know the story of 'Phantom' before reading this. That said, I'm not going to follow the 'Phantom' plot line exactly. Parts of the fic will be ripped straight from the Phantom of the Opera novel, parts will be ripped straight from the Harry Potter books, and parts will be ripped straight from my brain (which doesn't hurt quite as bad as you may think).
Q: Who is the Phantom?
A: In this story, the character that mirrors the Phantom will be :drumroll: Severus Snape! Come on, who else could it possibly have been?
Q: Who are the other characters?
A: You'll have to read to find that one out. However, I will say that the lead female in the story will be Hermione. In regards to Hermione, I will say that she is not my favorite HP character. I prefer Ginny by far, but when put to logic, Hermione is really the only HP female that I think would work with Snape. And you will just have to read to figure out who the other lead male (Hermione's other love interest) is.
Any other questions? Leave me a review and I will do my best to reply quickly.
"He is injured."
Albus Dumbledore was a flash of magenta robes, tearing out of his private office as fast as the physical world would allow. It was all Hermione could do to keep up with him, hearing her heart pounding somewhere in the region of her ears.
"Where is he, Minerva?"
"Hospital Wing," came the breathless reply.
Hermione's slipper caught on the edge of a cobblestone, nearly sending her prostrate across the floor. She gathered herself quickly, breath searing in her lungs, and continued in the desperate race to a dying man's side.
The Hospital Wing was dark. The white canvas beds were empty, save for one. In the farthest corner of the black room, a pale blue curtain was drawn around the last bed. One glance at it made her arms being to shake, the blood soaring to her head.
Even as she watched, the curtain was torn back to reveal one of the most horrific sights her honey-colored eyes had ever settled on.
It was Severus Snape. But then, it was not. His face was not recognizable. So thoroughly had he been destroyed. Where the hooked nose and gracefully arching eyebrow should have been was a mass of purple and red gore. The left side of his face was blocked from her view by the way Snape was lying on the bed, but if it looked anything like the other half…she felt her knees start to buckle.
Albus and Minerva had already raced to their colleague's side, joining Madam Pomfrey around the unrecognizable creature.
The world began to swirl in front of her eyes. In hear ears she could hear a low, monotonous humming. The last thought that forced its way to the top of her mind before she lost consciousness was, 'Some great Healer you're going to make'.
She could hear her name. Why was someone in her private quarters? She cracked an eye open.
But above her was not the pale burgundy ceiling of her bedroom. No. It was the sterile white of…the Hospital Wing? What the devil was she doing in…?
Then she remembered.
"Professor!" she croaked, pushing herself up off the mattress to look Albus Dumbledore in his wizened face. "How is he? I'm sorry I…"
She couldn't bring herself to vocalize the fact that she had fainted simply upon seeing a little blood. She was training to be a Med-Witch for crying out loud, she should be able to handle something like this. Well, alright, it wasn't a little blood. It was a lot of blood. And it was marring the face of someone she thought should be very recognizable…
Her head was swimming again.
"He is not very well, Hermione," came Albus' reply, as he reached out and gently took her arm to steady her as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. "Which is why I've had to wake you."
"Anything I can do, Professor," she managed to say, rubbing her knuckles into her forehead.
"Well, given that you saw Severus last night, I'm sure you can imagine that he is in no position to resume teaching his classes at the moment. Under normal circumstances, I would have shifted the teachers around so that his classes were merely supervised. However, it is January, and I am sure that you realize what a critical time this is for students to conduct study in preparation for the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. examinations. Therefore, I have asked Madam Promfrey if I may remove you from your duties as a Healer-in-training, and instead place you in position as the deputy Potions Mistress."
"And what did Madam Pomfrey say?" Hermione asked, her eyes going wide. She knew that one of the biggest parts of Healer schooling was her practical work experience. Volunteering in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing had seemed a prudent choice, being that Madam Pomfrey rarely dealt with anything more than a botched acne charm and the occasional dragon injury (courtesy of Harry, of course).
"Well, as I'm sure you know, Miss Granger, an extensive knowledge of potions is necessary to be a successful Healer. Therefore, Madam Pomfrey and I have agreed that your role as Potions Mistress can still be applicable to your practical work experience. So, should you be willing, you will take over Severus' classes until such time that he is able to return to work. I need hardly tell you that you may very well be working in his stead until the end of term, but I also need hardly tell you what a great service you would be doing both myself and the Order. We would like to keep his injuries as quiet as possible."
Hermione blushed a little when he referred to her as Miss Granger, the name he always used to address her with at school. Now that she was working at Hogwarts as an adult, he had begun calling her Hermione. But despite that, he had mentioned how greatly her working in the Potions classroom would help the Order. This made her consider her answer to his proposition very carefully. Only the summer past had she been inducted formally into the Order, having now reached the age of twenty, and she felt very eager to accomplish something for the cause.
It was a moment before the air in her lungs found the way to her vocal chords and then out of her mouth.
Severus was nervous. It didn't show, of course. It couldn't. He could never allow it.
There was a rustling of robes beside him, and then the man to his immediate left fell prostrate on the ground, arms outstretched to the tall, pale man in the center of the room.
"My Lord," came the murmured reply from the masked figure on the floor.
"The escape went well, then?" Voldemort's lips were thin, his voice was high, and Severus fought to repress the shiver that went coursing down his spine.
"Better than we ever may have hoped," Lucius replied, still facing into the cold concrete floor. "We have escaped, all of us, completely intact."
"Excellent. You shall be rewarded. You may stand."
Lucius hurried to obey, resuming his position beside Severus with the dignity and grace of a king.
'You have just been lying on the floor with the rodents and insects, you disgusting piece of…" Severus' thoughts trailed off into an angry hiss at the back of his mind as he surveyed the profile of the man beside him.
Without pausing for thought, Snape threw himself forward onto the floor, assuming the position Lucius had held moments ago.
"You are still in place at Hogwarts, I assume?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"And yet you have not been able to provide me with relevant information from Dumbledore for months."
It wasn't a question. Shit.
"I had expected better from you, Severus. One would think that after I so graciously forgave you for not attending my rebirth celebration," some of the Death Eaters exchanged humorless laughs, "you would be clawing for the opportunity to assist me. I have placed you in one of the most important positions in my camp. And you appear to have failed. I do not appreciate failure."
"My Lord, I apologize," Severus murmured, his brain working frantically to draw up an excuse, while at the same time making sure to keep his Occlumens in place. "Albus has not been at the castle very often lately, and my interrogations of the staff members have not been going well. I am currently brewing a potion which I hope can rectify these problems."
"I do so hope that you are honest, Severus." Snape could hear him moving. He was coming closer. Shit shit shit… "Because it would be terribly disappointing if I were to discover that you were not. In fact," (he was right above him now), "to serve as a reminder to you of to whom you have sworn your allegiance, I will give you a little gift."
Snape sensed rather than heard that circle of masked figures above him shift nervously.
Voldemort laughed softly. "Crucio."
Four hours later, Snape was thrown, bleeding, battered, barely conscious, out into the hall. His mind was filled with a blank buzzing. What little he could see through his swollen eyes was tainted red by his own blood.
Gathering the last shred of his energy, Snape reached in his pocket and withdrew the quill that Dumbledore had charmed to act as a Portkey. Tapping his wand to it, he blacked out just as he felt a swooping sensation just behind his navel.
"What is it, Madam Pomfrey?"
Hermione stopped folding the long bed sheet over her arm to look over to where her mentor was rummaging around in her supply cabinet.
"We're entirely out of the Merliflous draught."
"Is that a problem?" Hermione asked, raising an eyebrow. The particular draught Madam Pomfrey was referring to was used to stop one from projectile vomiting Christmas decorations. She doubted it had been used even once in the previous twenty years.
"Number one rule about Healing at this school," Madam Pomfrey muttered, still buried in the cabinet from her waist up, "expect the unexpected."
Hermione grinned to herself, laying the sheet down on the nearest bed.
"Shall I go and ask Professor Snape if he has any in his stores?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes, yes, go on," Madam Pomfrey replied distractedly, withdrawing from the supply cabinet, examining something that looked suspiciously like a Dung Bomb in her hand.
Still grinning, Hermione exited the Hospital Wing, and headed for the nearest staircase leading down to the dungeons.
Dusk was falling, and the castle was lit with a translucent pink light as she walked briskly down the empty corridors. Being a Saturday evening, most of the castle was outside on the grounds, enjoying the wintry wonderland. Snow lay on the ground in thick heaps, and the lake was frozen over to provide an ideal skating rink. Glancing out a window as she passed, Hermione felt a pang of longing for her simpler days.
But then, she supposed as she skipped down the first few stairs, her days had never really been that simple. Almost immediately after her introduction to the wizarding world she had met the best friend (and bane) of her life, Harry Potter. No one with a close relationship with the boy could have a simple life. Not that she minded in the least.
Reflecting on her friendship with Harry brought her all the way to the dungeons without realizing the path. She only realized she had arrived when she felt the cold air curl around her, seeming to reach for something much deeper than her skin.
Shivering lightly, she drew her robes around her and began to tread the all-too-familiar path to the Potions classroom.
However, the lights were off. The heavy oak door was locked.
'Of course', she thought. 'Snape must be in his private chambers.'
'Wait. What? Why am I so complacent about going to Snape's private chambers?'
Turning, she set off down another corridor. At the beginning of the year, Albus had shown where all the teacher's private rooms were, so that, if she should need one of them, she would be able to find them.
Snape's, ironically enough, was located behind a giant engraving of a serpent, just one corridor past the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room.
"Uh…" she murmured, staring up at the enormous serpent with its glowing ruby eye. "Er…"
She had no idea what his password may be.
The ruby eye narrowed.
She closed her eyes and thought. What password would no one expect him to have?
"Greasy git," she murmured under her breath.
The ruby eye closed as the snake dissolved into the wall, leaving a large hold amidst the stones.
Hermione stood still, amazed. Greasy git was his password?
"No, Miss Granger," said a voice behind her, "the password is 'Immorlious", but I don't think you heard me speak it, as you were busy trying your own…guesses."
Hermione blushed deeply, turning to see Albus Dumbledore smiling down at her, his eyes twinkling.
"I came to ask about a potion for Madam Pomfrey. Merliflous draught," she murmured, staring at her suddenly highly interesting left shoe.
"Ah," said Dumbledore. "Well, I'm afraid that Severus is not in the castle at the moment."
"Where is he?" she blurted, before realizing how nosey she was being.
Dumbledore smiled gently. "If you would like to accompany me back to my office, I should be happy to tell you. Besides, I think I may have the potion Madam Pomfrey is in need of."
Hermione didn't even bother to ask why.