Dear Readers: I was going through some of my old stories and had forgotten that Death in Small Doses had never gotten an epilogue and remained in the Uncompleted category. Well, here it is. Looking forward to some reading and Writing on my time off. Cheers, Indianpipe.
I turned to Harry, he was crouched on the floor near the spot where Voldemort had disintegrated. Severus still had a hold on me but I broke away and knelt beside my friend.
"You've done it, it's finally over." I placed my hand on his arm, it seemed he needed reassurance; there was a faraway disconnected look in his eye.
He looked up to me… "he was part of me…" his voice dropped low, "…on some level. If things had been different I could have been him." The admittance drained the small amount of energy he had left and he wavered on the spot. I drew him into an embrace and while I comforted him I thought of the kiss I had shared with Voldemort. The need, the longing for love he had so desperately wanted all along brought tears to my eyes and validation to exactly what Harry was feeling. We stayed like that for a few moments until I heard a grown and rustling nearby. Snape had successfully doused the flames about the room and was attempting to rouse Lucius from his unconscious state.
"I understand the need for respite but I fear our Mr. Longbottom may be drowning at the bottom of Hogwarts lake as we speak. I need to deliver Lucius to the Aurors , you two go ahead, quickly!"
Harry and I jumped to our feet, I had forgotten about Neville in the fray. Lucius had said he was at the bottom of the Lake by now.
Just as we were about to apparate Snape gave me a hard look, "They used the Imperius on him…I'm sure now." With that we were gone, and all I could think of was that he knew all along.
We landed near the gates of Hogwarts and ran to the lake on the eastern shore. Immediately, we saw what we knew must be Neville. Harry and I ran and as we approached we saw a giant tentacle slither back into the water. The giant squid had saved him!
"Neville, Neville…" I sat him up and he sputtered.
"Hermione…Harry? How did I get here?" I looked into Harry's eyes and mouthed the words Unforgivable.
We hoisted him up and started off for the castle.
Harry cleared his throat and tried to explain to Neville what may have happened. He started with the fugum…for we had no idea of knowing how far back he had lost control of his own actions.
He had no recollection and with each piece of information his cheeks grew redder with shame and indignation. I grabbed his hand and held him…he had come so far in life I dreaded that he would lose ground over something so out of his control.
He wanted to know it all and begged Harry not to leave anything out but I gave Harry a stern warning look and he knew it was concerning Professor Sprout.
Neville indeed had created the fugum powder and had come up with the idea to use it against Voldemort but after that his recollection was dim.
I thought back and knew our first meeting then had been under his own volition and my stepped faltered realizing that he had indeed offered me a job and perhaps more…
I let go of his hand and we walked side by side inside the castle.
"Neville I think you need to go up to the Hospital wing, you've been through a lot." He acquiesced, looking like he wasn't sure what else to do.
"Hermione, I need to speak with Dumbledore and make sure the aurors have been dispatched to Malfoy Manor…we don't want Snape getting ambushed by deatheaters." Harry said.
My eyes widened. "Yes..go, hurry."
Poppy scurried about Neville, asking questions, checking him over and I lingered on the outskirts. Harry had set me off to worrying over Snape. I hadn't thought of the other deatheater's, what if somehow Lucius summoned them.
Neville was pronounced fine but tired and Poppy had given him a potion to make him sleep. I walked over to him, just as he was getting drowsy.
He looked up to me… " I am sorry if I hurt you…or anyone…I know you and Harry want to spare my feelings."
"Oh, Neville…you were not yourself…
"Longbottom, if I hear one more word of self pity I will hex you back into the lake where you and the squid will I'm sure be very happy." Severus advanced behind me, filled with determination and purpose. My hand drifted towards Snape's and immediately he grasped it, firm and warm. "Finally we have something legitimate to celebrate and all I see is tears. Do you not understand…We are free and alive, two things I was not sure until today would come together." His eyes glittered as he spoke.
He was so positive I hardly knew him…oh he was Severus all right, challenging, brow furrowed but all the energy was directed up. Neville was getting drowsy but he let out a laugh at Severus' threat.
"We have some points to discuss before the fesitivities I think?" He turned to me.
We made to leave quietly as Neville was sleepy but then Snape turned back to him.
"Oh and Longbottom, Excellent potion, that fugum. I always knew you would do it someday."
At this both Neville and I let out a laugh and shook our heads. Snape even joined us and laughed out loud, which was more than a bit disarming.
We retreated to the hall, still holding on to each other, perhaps feeling that our admission at Malfoy manner might disappear like a glamour if we let go.
For a moment we just stared into each others eyes, smiling at the notion of how silly we had been for not realizing our love for each other sooner and then something came back to me.
"You knew all along Neville was under the Imperius? How could you not have told me?" I caught him by surprise.
He raised his hand in defense, "I was never sure…but towards the end I suspected. Lucius was intercepting your missives to Longbottom, he must have showed Voldemort and then he sent Malfoy to control his actions. I was only sure on the night of my abduction. You see Neville and I had a meeting set about the fugum, I was going to test out my theory and see if he was under the influence but Malfoy knew I must have been suspicious so the idea was to drug me, as they had Sprout and take me from the castle. He brought a bottle of wine to our meeting and pressed me to drink. I had a feeling this was the plan so I faked unconsciousness. I had to follow the thread to Voldemort…I knew it might be Harry's chance to finish him off.
But how did Harry know to come to Malfoy Manor?" I asked this question with an idea of what the answer was going to be and it was getting me more than a little angry.
"I had told Albus my fears and we both decided Harry should know as well." He explained it without any regret.
"But what about me?"
"As I told you I was torn on that point. I did it to protect you…I did not want you vulnerable with knowledge nor did I want you having to 'act' out your feelings. Do not underestimate your role in this…Hermione. Without you we could never have brought him down. You have loved us all, perhaps in different ways, and Voldemort had to see that…that innocence and honesty or he never would have faltered."
"Yes…well…" How could I really argue now? "I still like being informed."
He took me in his arms and just before kissing me he said, " Once we are married Miss Granger you will be privy to all my notions of people being under the Imperius Curse."
He growled softly.