Disclaimer: I am making no profit. Nor am I claiming creation or ownership of anything Harry Potter related. All of it is J. K. Rowling's
Author's Notes: The following 56 hundred-word drabbles were written in response to the Back From The Dead challenge on Granger Snape 100.
With thanks to the wonderful people on GrangerSnape100 who caught my mistakes!
The best and the brightest were gathered to celebrate the defeat of Voldemort. It had taken some time to sift through the aftermath. To find all the truths hidden under the deceptions, and to discover who the real heroes were. Tonight, six months after the end of the war, they would receive their medals.
Of course initially honoured was Harry Potter, no one was surprised by that. Hailed with him were his friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger; along with the members of the Order of the Phoenix; and posthumously Albus Dumbledore. Of those there had never been any doubt.
The biggest of the surprises came in the early days after the final battle; that being the posthumous exoneration of Severus Snape. The Daily Prophet had run a month long series of front page articles detailing his activities as a spy for the Light. George Weasley had come forward the very day after Voldemort was finally defeated. He went straight to the Wizengamot with hundreds of Albus Dumbledore's memories. Each one involving Severus Snape. Each memory was verified to be real, complete, and unaltered. The Wizarding World was shocked to learn that Snape had only been working for the Light.
The Wizarding World was astounded by the revelation that Severus Snape had, since the death of Harry Potter's parents, been Albus Dumbledore's closest and most loyal ally. Everything about Snape from that night forward was a facade. He had kept his true self carefully hidden since nineteen eighty-one; deeply buried under the false persona he allowed those around him to see. That fateful night had been his epiphany. For the first time he had seen Voldemort's cause for what it was: evil perpetrated by insecure people to make themselves feel important; and he loathed himself for ever associating with them.
When the Potters died, Severus Snape chose his path. Since that night every breath he took was the breath of atonement and reparation. It came to be known that since that terrible Hallowe'en night - and the realisation of his mistake - Severus Snape's every thought and action had been wholeheartedly dedicated to the Light. No one, except Albus Dumbledore, had committed so much to the battle against evil. It was disclosed that the information which allowed the destruction of the last Horcrux, as well as the time and place that Voldemort would launch his great attack, were provided by Severus Snape.
After Albus Dumbledore's death, Severus Snape passed critical information about the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters to Hermione Granger. It was recently discovered that she had been acting as Snape's sole contact within the Order of the Phoenix.
Without Severus Snape's years of staunch fealty to the Light, and deep personal sacrifice; Voldemort would reign in the Wizarding World today.
The public was told that after thoroughly searching, not a trace of the self-sacrificing ex-professor could be found. Many swore that they had seen him die during the final confrontation with Voldemort; therefore, he was presumed, and declared, dead.
It was the lesser heroes that proved to be the most difficult to discover. Only Hermione had known that Neville Longbottom created a botanical agent that weakened Voldemort's powers. Using a fragment of Voldemort, scraped from beneath Harry Potter's fingernails years ago, Neville had dedicated himself to the creation of the ultimate personalised allergen. Neville passed it to Hermione; who then passed it to Severus to administer. The allergen caused a significant decline in Voldemort's health and subsequent performance during the final battle. Without Neville's years of hard work, Voldemort might not have fallen that fateful day, six months ago.
Nobody realised that Daphne Greengrass had worked silently within Slytherin circles to sabotage Voldemort's supporters. No one knew that it was she who caused many Death Eaters to be more than a little distracted, by one fabricated tale or another, during the final battle.
No one had known of Rose Zeller's tireless dedication to the fostering of awareness. She caused many ambivalent witches and wizards to realise the terrible and imminent threat that Voldemort posed. No one knew it was her work that drastically increased the number of active participants on the side of the Light before the final battle.
There were countless other heroics that very slowly came to light. Just as there were several evildoers that had been previously unknown; and were slowly being discovered.
A dose of fair justice was finally being dispensed in the Wizarding World; as a byproduct of that, a fair bit of injustice was dispensed, as well.
Just last week three young wizards who had been held as prisoners since the end of the war; under suspicion of supporting Death Eater activities, were finally exonerated and released from Azkaban. Their freedom was at last regained; yet, their lives would never be the same.
Those falsely imprisoned young wizards lost their jobs, and as a consequence: their homes. Their exoneration gave them the opportunity to mend rifts between family and friends who failed to support them. However, the memories of the indignities and pain they suffered in prison would remain forever burned into their very souls. Never again would they be able to live normally: without the fear of false imprisonment. Nor would they be able to tolerate small, closed spaces. Their lives might be rebuilt, but the piece of them that was lost in Azkaban; their trust in humanity, could never be reclaimed.
None of the merry-makers were giving much thought to any of the repercussions of the war with Voldemort and his Death Eaters, right now.
They accepted their medals with smiles and waves. There was not a dry eye to be seen when Albus Dumbledore was awarded a posthumous medal. Almost everyone nodded gravely and smiled sadly when Severus Snape was awarded his posthumous medal. The honorees received many congratulations; and bestowed the like on others.
Tonight was not a night for introspection, nor was it a time for lamenting societal injustices. Tonight was the time for food, drink, and laughter.
One person, one heroine, wasn't laughing. No one expected her to; although, her friends and acquaintances hoped she might. However, they might hope for her happiness, they knew that particular hope had little chance of realisation. Hermione Granger hadn't laughed since before the final battle. Nor had she smiled. She rarely even spoke anymore, and when she did, it was as direct and succinct as possible. She had withdrawn almost completely since Voldemort was vanquished. Her friends, her compatriots, and even her former teachers had tried to talk to her; to help her, but, it was all to no avail.
Hermione's friends tried to help her, but they couldn't force her. She ate, she bathed, she took perfunctory care of herself; she performed her duties and did her job efficiently, albeit as quickly as possible. She even attended three functions. She stood by Harry's side at his wedding to Ginny. She attended Alastor Moody's funeral, yesterday. Now, at the insistence of her friends, she was attending this ceremony; with it's formal dinner and dancing. Those who knew her, thought it was a miracle that she was even present tonight. Sadly, however, they noted that she was not present in spirit.
Hermione sat, as she had at Harry Potter's wedding feast, in a dark corner. Now, as then, she was rebuffing every attempted conversation, and declining every request to dance. She was the epitomy of unapproachability. There had been much conjecture and speculation; but, no one had any idea what exactly it was that so utterly broke her spirit. The once vibrant young woman, was no more. It broke the hearts of her friends. Some assumed that the change in her had something to do with her obvious pregnancy. However, she steadfastly refused to speak about her pregnancy in any way.
Hermione Granger's despondency, was in actuality, mourning. She was mourning the death of Severus Snape. She remembered seeing him duelling with Alastor Moody. She saw him fall to Moody's Cruciatus and tried to get to him, to help him. On her way, she was caught up in another part of the battle. By the time she found his body, he was long dead. She Side-Along Apparated his body into the Forbidden Forest, where she burned it by herself. She couldn't bear to have Severus Snape's body subjected to the indignities that would surely be perpetrated on supposed Death Eater's bodies.
The tartan robed member of a small group of witches and wizards clustered by the doors nodded in Hermione's direction. She bent close and whispered to Harry Potter, "Still no change?"
"No, Minerva," he answered, not bothering to whisper as he sipped his drink. "I don't know how to help her. I've tried everything I can think of." He sighed wearily.
"How can you help, if she won't tell you what her problem is? Don't blame yourself Harry. No one knows what to do. She just won't say what the matter is," Ron said as he patted his friend's shoulder.
Remus Lupin's gentle tone said, "There's nothing more you can do right now, Harry." Gone was his sick look and usual rags. Tonight Remus Lupin looked well in his stylish robes. Wizarding society had lost a lot of it's prejudices in the six months following the war. Not only was Remus hailed as the hero he was; but he had his pick of good jobs. "I was the closest one to her," Remus whispered, "when she shattered, and I have no idea what caused it. And, when I say she shattered, that's not an exaggeration. She was inconsolable and incoherent."
Ron was about to speak; when he was stopped as Lavender Brown kicked him. He reunited with his old flame months ago, much to her elation.
"We've talked this to death," Lavender whinged.
More than one censuring look was directed to Ron's date.
"We have! I'm sorry for her. I am. But," she exclaimed defensively, "we all know Hermione's a total wreck. We all know that we don't know why she is; and we all know that it's not healthy for her or her baby. We also all know that everyone's tried, but no one can seem to help her."
"When the battle was over," Lavender continued, "Hermione was running around frantically. No one knows what she was looking for. She was sighted several times, then no one saw her for a few hours. After that, she reappeared near Remus, where she had a total breakdown. No one has a clue as to why, and she's still a wreck. We have all been trying to figure it out for six months. We can't; and she's not talking." Lavender huffed. "That sums it up I should think," she pronounced, looping her arm through an irate Ron's.
"Leave off, Lav," Ron hissed.
"The poor woman. Just look at her, she seems... I dunno..." Charlie Weasley trailed off looking thoughtful.
"Dead. Hermione looks dead," Neville Longbottom supplied.
"Well, she certainly doesn't look dead," Minerva bristled.
"Her eyes do," Neville argued.
Minerva shook her head, and sounding defeated said, "You are right about that."
"Do you think maybe she's gone mad?" Tonks asked in an undertone.
"No! She's not mad, she's just ... sad," Ron answered. Clearly remembering the many times he accused her of being mental. "Why would you ask such a thing?"
"Because of what Hagrid told me yesterday," the purple-haired Auror replied.
"I didn't want ter say nothin'." Hagrid looked sheepishly at the faces around him. "And I think I was the only one what noticed, but Hermione, she was acting strange at Mad-Eye's funeral yesterday. She had this look on 'er face. I can't describe it right. But she was feeling summit vera strong. Then after we was all headed back, at the end you know, after... Anyway, she spit on Mad-Eye's grave, she did."
There was a tense silence following this revelation.
Then Molly Weasley said brightly, "That's wonderful!"
Several people looked at her as if she had gone mad.
"Don't you see? Hermione Granger was never one to hate; but, her hate of Mad-Eye was impossible for anyone to miss! She loathed the man. I never understood why, and she wouldn't talk about it. She hated him so much, that I wondered why she agreed to go to his funeral; when she refused to join in on, well... anything else. But if she spit on his grave, I think that's as sure a sign as you can get that she's not mad. Somewhere, underneath whatever is upsetting her, she's still herself."
"Let's go talk to her," Arthur Weasley suggested.
The group of Hermione's friends looked surreptitiously over at her. She was glaring at those who dared approach her. Suddenly, as if she felt their eyes on her, Hermione turned to the group that had been discussing her. Her glare intensified, only to be suddenly replaced by shock. The group watched in confusion as Hermione stood, her hand clutching her throat and the colour draining from her face. Her other hand covered her mouth, as her eyes grew wide. The group as a whole assumed that she was looking at them, when in fact she was looking just past them.
The group of her friends moved towards her, but she looked through them. Her gaze was fixed near where they had been standing; by the massive oak doors.
As the group approached Hermione, fragmented whispers reached them.
They were overtaken by a tall, thin wizard that was striding unswervingly towards Hermione. They saw him stop a few feet from her, he seemed to hesitate.
Hermione immediately closed the distance between them.
From around the back of this wizard her friends saw her whispering something; and, as they drew closer, they stopped as one, in utter shock.
"Severus?" Hermione whispered. "Severus... it... it can't be... you're dead." She reached a hand out towards him. "Is it really you?"
"I assure you, that it is," a smooth deep voice returned.
"Severus," Hermione breathed, "Severus, are you sure you're real? I've dreamt you so often..."
"Indeed, Hermione, I am quite real," that same silken tone replied.
"How?" she asked, "Where- " she began, only to stop herself. "It doesn't matter," she whispered. "It doesn't matter," she repeated, her eyes glistening. "You're here now, that's all that matters."
Severus Snape's black eyes bore into Hermione's as he said simply, "Ask me."
"So long, I've waited so long for you to say that to me!" Hermione's face lit up, and her eyes welled with tears. She could feel the unused muscles in her cheeks, and behind her ears, staining painfully with the width of her smile. "Say it again, so I know this is really happening," she implored.
"Ask me," Severus Snape repeated in a dark whisper.
"Severus, will you touch me now, please?"
Severus reached out and caressed Hermione's face, his large hand coming to rest on her cheek. They became lost in their memories; as she leaned into his touch.
Severus Snape was not pleased when Albus ordered him to work with the insufferable Gryffindor know-it-all; not pleased at all.
It was the summer before Hermione Granger's sixth year at Hogwarts when she got an owl from Headmaster Dumbledore, requesting her presence. She left her meeting with the Headmaster utterly stunned. She was going to be working with Professor Snape. Aiding him in any way that she could. She was afraid that she wouldn't be able to meet Professor Snape's expectations. She couldn't fathom what those expectations might be; but, she had no doubt they would be high. Very high.
From that moment Hermione became dedicated to her work for Professor Snape. Almost every minute of her time that she did not spend with her friends that summer, she was working for Professor Snape.
Every minute that Professor Snape could get away from the Dark Lord's watchful eye, was spent working with his forced assistant, Hermione Granger. As time went on Severus was able to escape the Dark Lord's watchful eye more often; under the pretense of spying on Dumbledore for him. Subsequently, Severus and Hermione spent most nights working together; catching what little sleep they could during the day.
At first, Hermione brewed simple potions for Professor Snape. As time wore on, he became more confident in her abilities. Soon, the complexity of the potions that he assigned to her grew. By the middle of summer break, she was assisting him with his research. They were primarily looking into ways to weaken Voldemort, and protect the Order.
Then, Hermione found herself trusted with the secret, and the responsibility, of helping Severus brew the potions to keep Albus Dumbledore alive.
By the time they returned to Hogwarts that September, Severus began treating Hermione more like a colleague, than an assistant.
As the school year passed, Hermione found herself grading the first-years' Defense Against The Dark Arts work. Not long after, she took on the burden of the second-years, as well. Eventually she was correcting all the classes homework, excepting hers; Professor Dumbledore graded hers.
Severus and Hermione continued to research late into night. The wee hours of the morning often found them pouring over all sorts of texts, and experimenting with potions, charms, and spells. As they grew more accustomed to working together, Severus allowed Hermione to have unlimited, unsupervised, access to all his books, including his Dark Arts texts.
Professors Snape and Dumbledore began to openly confide in Hermione. She found herself being treated as a full member of the Order of the Phoenix would be. She, along with George Weasley, who was acting as an assistant to Headmaster Dumbledore, were told of Professor Snape's unbreakable vow with Narcissa Malfoy, and the circumstances surrounding it. They were encouraged to contribute freely in the meetings between Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore. Eventually Hermione and George became integral in the planning of Albus Dumbledore's impending death, and just how they could make it work best for the Order, and everyone involved.
Sometime in the early winter, Severus Snape and Hermione Granger realised that they had become friends.
They challenged each other intellectually. The skills of each complemented and augmented the other. They spoke of everything, and found themselves laughing together frequently.
Individually they realised that whenever something happened in their time apart, they couldn't wait to tell the other; therefore, the time they spent together increased substantially.
When they each woke in the night, wishing that the other were there to awaken and share an idea with; they realised how deep their friendship ran. Neither spoke of it to the other.
When Severus Snape fled from the Astronomy Tower with Draco Malfoy, only George Weasley and Hermione Granger knew of his innocence in Dumbledore's murder. Hermione raged inwardly at being unable to defend Severus, even though her rational mind knew he still had an important part to play for Voldemort. She dearly wanted to scream when she was forced to listen to people slander Severus Snape. However, she played her part, and held her tongue. The closest she came to revealing her thoughts and feelings was when Harry asserted that he had proof that Severus was evil. She couldn't keep silent.
Hermione had been unable to prevent herself from responding to Harry. She chose to speak to the word harry had used: 'evil'; in reference to Severus. She said that is was too strong. It was the only defense of Severus she allowed herself to indulge in. On the heels of even that small defense, she worried that she had compromised Severus's position by speaking it. She forced herself refrain from disagreeing when it was said that Severus, as a student, had exhibited the potential for murder. Thereby, she inferred her concurrence with Harry and the others. It made her sick.
After Dumbledore's death, Hermione was Severus's only contact while he was immersed in Death Eater circles, and ingratiating himself to Voldemort. He brought her information as often as he could. She would disguise the information, cleanse it of any connection with Severus Snape, and pass it on. No one knew where the information originated; but, they were glad to have it. Severus's inside information saved lives time and time again. Hermione kept meticulous records, so that she could defend Severus when the time came. She had decided long ago that she would do everything she could to keep him safe.
The first time Severus was late to a meeting with Hermione, it was a few weeks after Dumbledore's death. Severus and Hermione were to meet in the Shrieking Shack, at nine. By two in the morning Hermione was frantic with worry for Severus. She was sure that something terrible must have happened to him.
When Severus stumbled in at half six, she flew at him. She berated and cursed him in her shrillest tones; for making her think he was dead, or worse. By the time her anger wore off, silent tears of relief were flowing freely down her face.
Severus and Hermione looked into each others eyes, caught by the depth of emotion each felt for the other. Finally Hermione broke the silence, asking for what she needed. "Severus," she breathed into the silence, her heart racing, "touch me; please?"
For an agonizing minute no one spoke. Then Severus lowered his gaze to the floor and whispered, "I can not, Hermione."
When he looked at her, naked pain and need was written clearly on her face. "I need to touch you, Severus. I need to feel that you are alive and whole. Please, Severus?"
"I said, NO!" he hissed.
"I need to touch you, Severus. Please, won't you just let me hold your hand?" Hermione begged through her tears.
"You can not touch me!" he barked.
She looked so lost and hurt, and he became intensely frustrated.
"I can not touch you!" he growled, through clenched teeth.
She continued to look at him with devastated eyes, and in that moment he hated himself. Moreover, he hated the damned war, and he hated his damned position in it.
"We can not, Hermione!"
His voice was low and dangerous as he finished with a command, "Do not ask it of me."
"Severus," Hermione continued through her tears, "I-"
"Hermione," he cut her off, this time saying her name as if it were a sacred word.
She looked up at him.
"Hermione," he repeated gently, "do not say it. Do not speak of it." He stepped closer to her and looked into her eyes. "We can not act on.. this... not now. You would not be safe. I am a master Occlumens, Hermione, but this..." He reached towards her, but stopped his hand short, and drew it back. "This, can not happen."
"You don't -" she began, only to be cut off again.
"Apparently," he said in his deep, dulcet tones, "I do. Very much." His eyes penetrated Hermione's as he spoke, "I simply won't. Not now. Someday later on; if you still wish it..." He put up his hand to forestall her protests. "I know that you know your mind. I know all the arguments, and I have considered them all, many times. I discount everything against, except your safety." The corners of his mouth quirked. "I meant what I said. When all of this is behind us, and I am no longer a wanted fugitive; when this damned war is over..."
Severus stepped closer to Hermione, their bodies almost touching.
"If you still wish it at that time," he said softly, "then, ask me again."
"I will, Severus," she said as seriously as if she were making a life altering vow, and indeed she was. "I promise."
"If you do ask me again; my answer will be a resounding yes; to whatever you wish to ask of me."
"I will ask you again, Severus," she said with unquestioning surety, "have no doubt about that." She looked deeply into his eyes. "I will ask you again, and I will ask you more.
"I do not doubt you, Hermione," Severus replied, with a smile. Severus and Hermione talked for as many hours as he could safely spare. When they parted, it was with an even stronger will to end the war, as quickly as possible.
Hermione gave Minerva the information that Severus had given her. It saved the lives of two Muggleborns. Minerva and the Order pressed; but, Hermione maintained that she didn't know the identity of her anonymous source. She insisted that the information would stop if their identity was discovered. The information was always so valuable, that they let it go.
Hermione took time to thoroughly clean the Shrieking Shack where she and Severus continued to meet. They met there whenever he had information, as well as every time that he could just get away without danger. Each time, they sat near enough to one another so as to be almost touching; but not quite. They would talk for hours, usually from evening until well past dawn. These meetings were the highlight of Severus Snape's life; they were his secret indulgence. Just as they were Hermione Granger's most cherished moments. It was something they both looked forward to with great anticipation.
Severus and Hermione continued in this way for almost two years, until their final meeting before Voldemort launched his ultimate attack on the Light. When Severus moved to return to Voldemort, in order to attack from the inside; Hermione called him back.
He turned, and made the mistake of searching her eyes. He couldn't deny her. He caught her in his arms and held her close. They stood like that for a very long time. Hermione with her arms around his neck holding him down to her; and he with his arms around her waist holding her tightly to him.
Hermione whispered into Severus's ear, her breath warm on his skin; moving his fine hair as she spoke, "I will ask you, Severus. I will ask you tomorrow, when this is all over. I promise."
Severus allowed himself to close his eyes and breathe in Hermione. "I," he whispered into her neck, "shall say yes; to anything you choose to ask of me. That is my promise."
They held each other for as long as they dared. When they reluctantly pulled apart Severus slid his hands up Hermione's arms and buried them in her hair. Whispering a soft, "Oh, hell!"
Severus lowered his face to Hermione's and brushed his lips softly against hers. She responded with an unexpected ferocity.
Clothes were torn in a desperate attempt to become closer. "Contraceptive potion..." Severus whispered raggedly.
"Don't worry," Hermione responded, as she pressed herself to him.
Passions soared, bodies merged, and souls cried out in union.
They hurriedly fixed their clothes.
Severus held Hermione, one last time. "Tomorrow," he said simply.
"That's a promise!" she said, her tone half pledge and half beseechment.
"A promise," he echoed, with more assurance than he could logically believe.
With a last devastating kiss, Severus departed.
In the space of a moment it had all flooded back to them.
Now in the present, Severus's other hand came up to caress Hermione's other cheek. He leaned down and kissed her chastely.
Not to be denied Hermione wrapped one of her arms around Severus's waist and pulled him to her. Her courage was rewarded as he touched her lips with his tongue. Hermione opened to Severus. She shivered in delight as his tongue entered her mouth. They melted together, each lost in the other; rejoicing at the acceptance they found.
Severus and Hermione forget all but each other.
A jovial voice interrupted Severus and Hermione's reunion. "Hey, you two - get a room!"
Severus and Hermione reluctantly pulled apart; but, not too much. Hermione held tightly to Severus's side. "George!" she exclaimed.
"I see you've found your present." George grinned at Hermione's perplexed expression. "I thought you might like to see this bloke." George thumped Severus on the shoulder. "So, I brought him to you."
Severus winced at the unexpected pain.
"Oh, sorry, mate," George said. "He made a right mess of you didn't he?"
"Who made a mess of you?" Hermione turned sharp eyes onto Severus. "What happened?"
"I could ask the same of you," Severus said, as his eyes swept over Hermione's wan, pregnant form.
"I wasn't dead," Hermione retorted firmly, "you were. I burned your body myself."
Gasps were heard from the people surrounding them.
"I was dead," Severus concurred, "however, it was not my body that you -"
"Whose was it?" Hermione interrupted.
"Sadly, that, I do not know," Severus said. "I was, as I said, actually dead. However, the man who killed me, cast spells to put me into hypothermia. My body was preserved until he could use Muggle means to restore me to life."
"How? Why?" Hermione asked, desperation creeping into her voice.
"I shall explain," Severus said gently. "Perhaps, you should sit?" He guided Hermione into a chair. She refused to loosen her hold so he sank to his knees before her. "My killer told me that he Disillusioned my dead body. He said that he fed Polyjuice with one of my hairs in it, to a dying man. The change, I was told, 'conveniently finished him'. It must have been that man's body that you burned."
"I thought it was you," Hermione said in a trembling voice. "I wished for death too."
"You are well?" Severus asked Hermione. He was unable to mask the concern in his tone and his dark eyes.
"Yes, I am. Please, tell me what happened. Where have you been? If your killer saved you, why -"
"My killer intended to kill me again; when he was through with me."
"He only saved me so that he could amuse himself with me." Severus stroked Hermione's concerned face. "It was not so terrible. He was no Death Eater. I've suffered worse at the hand of the Dark Lord. My suffering was my worry for you. Are you well, truly?"
"I'm fine, now that you are here, Severus," Hermione said earnestly.
Severus looked disbelieving.
"I really am. So is your son."
"My son? How?"
"You didn't think... Oh, Severus. I would never!" Hermione cried.
"I would have understood," Severus said emotionlessly, "I have been gone a long time."
"Forever wouldn't be long enough. You were my first, Severus; and, you are my last. Do you hear me? You are the only man I could ever... How could you think... But; then, you told me to ask you, even when you thought..."
Severus pulled Hermione to him, and held her close.
"Hermione," Severus began, in a slightly roughened version of his smooth baritone, "I would have asked you to ask me; no matter what."
"But why would you assume such a -"
"Because, contraceptive potions always work perfectly." he interrupted, "And, I asked you if you were on one -"
Hermione lifted her head from Severus's shoulder and looked him in the eye as she interrupted him, "I said, Severus Snape, that you needn't worry about it. I said that because I wasn't worried about it. Not because I was taking the potion; but, because I wanted you - regardless of the potential consequences."
Hermione hugged Severus to her. They were oblivious to the stunned witches and wizards around them.
"Severus," Hermione asked, "if your murderer planned on torturing you, and killing you for good, how did you escape?"
"My killer kept me locked in a secret room. He stopped coming back a few days ago. I thought he had decided to starve me. If I weren't worried about you, I might have welcomed it -"
Severus smiled, "It was the thought of you that kept me going. When it seemed unbearable, I thought of you, Hermione. I remembered, and I dreamt, of you."
"After a few days the wards my killer cast failed. I didn't know why." Severus explained. "But, nor did I hesitate when I discovered it. I was weak, but, I was sure I could make one wandless Apparition. I had no idea where I would be able to find you. So, for reasons beyond my understanding, I chose to Apparate to the Burrow. My starved brain must have been thinking of Molly's food."
Quiet laughter erupted around the Severus and Hermione, but they remained absorbed in each other and failed to notice.
"Our friend George, was the only one there."
George knelt by Hermione and Severus and joined their conversation. "I knew you'd want to see Severus right away," he said to Hermione. "But he was in no shape. I healed him the best I could, and brought him the potions he asked for; mind you, all the while he was demanding that I take him to you. I insisted that he eat, and his body made him agree. Once he was fed, I convinced him that he'd scare the life out of you if he didn't clean up. He did, and here you are."
"Who did this?" Hermione asked.
"It was Moody. George said he died," Severus intoned coldly, "that explains why I was able to escape."
At this, pandemonium broke out. Severus and Hermione were rudely reminded that they were surrounded by people.
The following night found Severus Snape laying entwined and sated with Hermione Snape, his bride. He had been reticent to acquiesce to her demands for the consummation of their marriage. He feared he might harm her, considering her pregnancy. She insisted that he couldn't, and in the end he had been powerless to answer with anything but a resounding, 'yes'.
Severus finally found his life.