Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot of this fic, which would be in the books if I owned them, wouldn't they?
Creatress: Okay, guys, I'm freaking out!! This is my first attempt at a serious SSHG!!
Mione: I'm a little scared…
Sev: Pft. I'm not.
Creatress: This is it, guys. There's no banter, no potions puns, no Mac N Cheese –
Sev: Thank God for small favours.
Creatress: Even Eileen Prince doesn't have a cameo!
Sev: (rolls eyes).
Mione: I like her…
Sev: You say that now…
Creatress: Hold my hands, guys, here goes…
Summary: An experiment gone wrong results in Severus Snape waking up with retrograde amnesia. Having lost eight years, he tries to gain them back while trying to adjust to his new life, but Death Eaters are trying to convince him that his new life is all a charade, and Snape finds himself relapsing between the light and the dark… This wouldn't be as problematic as it would be if he wasn't married to a muggleborn.
Reality Kisses Like You
Chapter 1 Awaken to Blindness
Severus Snape forced his eyes open and almost snapped them shut against the blindingly white glare of his surroundings. He scowled and opened them fully, though and quickly recognized the setting of a hospital. What in the hell…?
He quickly caught sight of Albus Dumbledore, who was sitting near the bed, and staring at him, afraid to speak. "Albus," Severus said, his voice even, and yet questioning.
Upon hearing his name, relief washed over Dumbledore's face. "My dear boy, thank Merlin, you remember me!" he said with a smile.
Severus frowned. "Why wouldn't I remember you?" he asked.
Dumbledore looked at him. "I shall tell you in a second… But first, let me ask you a few questions. Where do you work?"
Severus stared at him. "Do you suspect me of being an imposter or have I suffered a brain injury?" he asked.
Dumbledore blinked, and then smiled, softly. "At least we know your personality is in check," he said. "I do not accuse of you being an imposter. But where do you work?"
"Hogwarts," came the prompt answer. "But it's summer now."
At this, Dumbledore's face fell. "Alright…" he muttered. "What year is it?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes, and murmured something inaudible.
Severus frowned, starting to feel a little nervous and irritated. "Albus? What is it?"
Dumbledore opened his eyes and looked worriedly at the younger man. "No, Severus, it's 2005."
A small seed of panic unfurled at the back of Severus' mind and this unsettled him as much as the fact that he just realized that he had amnesia – he would've thought that he might have reacted more… strongly. Outwardly, he showed no emotion, but fixed Dumbledore with a calm, but demanding gaze. "What happened?" he asked, calmly.
Dumbledore sighed. "For the past five years, you've been working at the Ministry of Magic's Research Facility as the head of research team that studies dark arts and potions. One of your experiments went horribly wrong and resulted in…" Dumbledore gestured around them. "This."
Severus stared at him, waiting for him to go on, but he didn't. "Well…?" he prompted.
Dumbledore looked at him. "We figured it may have been best if I be here alone with you when you woke up… You see, that potion was a new invention and nobody knew what state of mind you would wake up in or in what time frame. Some people - " At this point, the headmaster glanced at the closed door before turning back to the potions master. " – would really like to see you, but I must first ask you a few questions to see if you remember anything at all… Do you understand?"
Severus nodded once, jerkily, still not feeling anything.
"How many out of the past six years have you been a spy?"
Severus drew up a blank, and suddenly wanted to know what was happening in the war, but seeing that the younger man had no answer, Dumbledore continued.
"Is the war still going on?"
"Do you remember the potion you invented for Remus last year?"
Severus thought it must have something to do with transformations, and the idea must have shown because Dumbledore looked at him earnestly.
"Severus?" the headmaster asked. "Do you…?" Severus shook his head and Dumbledore nodded before asking, "Where do you live now?"
"I've left Spinner's End?" Severus suddenly asked. I should be surprised, he thought. Why would he leave?
Dumbledore nodded. "You've moved to a gorgeous house on Zeus Road, north of London…" he trailed off, and saw that Severus was taking in this information with the same calm inertia that he had woken up with. "What award did you win six years ago?"
Severus shook his head, indicating that he didn't know.
"Order of Merlin, First Class," Dumbledore said, with a hint of something like a proud smile, but Severus, once again, looked at him as if this information was completely irrelevant to him. "Do you remember where Shacklebolt recently moved to?"
"Do you remember the battle at the Forbidden Forest?"
Growing a little tense, Severus shook his head again. "No."
"The capture of Gregory Xavier?"
"The murder of Rudolphus and Bellatrix Lestrange?"
"Do you remember Plan Winchester?"
"Do you remember the words 'Light the silver torch?'"
Growing mildly frustrated – but not as frustrated as he should be, a voice stated in his head – Severus scowled. "No."
Dumbledore looked tortured, and closed his eyes before opening them again and giving Severus a look that screamed 'Please remember!' "I can only think of one other major event in your life in these past six years. The most major." Dumbledore paused and gave him a begging look. "Severus… What's your wife's name?"
Severus – finally – felt something then, but couldn't place his finger on it. He narrowed his eyes at the man in front of him. "My… What?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes again, as if trying to block out what was happening. "Don't react badly," he said and for a second, Severus was unsure of whether he was speaking to himself or not.
"Albus," Severus suddenly said, a warning in his voice.
Dumbledore looked at him. "I'm trying to think of the best way to tell you."
"What possessed me to…" Severus stopped here, and then scowled a little. "Marry?" he finished.
Dumbledore found himself finding comfort in the fact that the younger man didn't say the word contemptuously. Thinking about the answer to the question, he smiled, softly. "Remus and I believe it is love," he said and ignored the annoyed and exasperated expression on the Potions Master's face at that point. "Your other witnessing wizards for the ceremony – Kingsley, Alastor, Rubius, and Stephen – all said that it was probably a deep sense of lust and unexplainable possessiveness, but, in secret, they all agree with Remus and myself." He didn't even fidget under the scathing look he received from the younger man then. "Severus, please…" he muttered.
"Please what?" Severus snapped. "I would never! Who - ? Who was the woman who stupid enough to - ?!"
"Severus," Dumbledore said, his voice firm. "She is a very bright woman – one of the greatest doctors I've ever known. I would be dead if it wasn't for her." He stopped and smiled a little before sweeping his beard to the side and tugging down on his robes a little to reveal the side of his neck. A scar, about two and a half inches in length, ran horizontally around it. "She gave me this... Saved my life." He sighed, and looked at Severus with a serious expression on his face. "She is the greatest thing that's ever happened to you, Severus." He ignored Severus' less than positive reaction and continued. "She is a kind, sweet, gentle, strong, beautiful woman, and if you wanted me to tell you about her, I could go on forever."
"Tell me something negative about her and I may be less irritated!" Severus snapped. "I've woken up with amnesia and you're going on about how perfect some woman is?!"
Dumbledore only smiled, softly. "Very well, then." He chuckled dryly. "She has a bit of a hard time keeping her head in chaotic situations. She can not lie on the spot to save her life. She is young; twenty-two years your junior - " Neither man reacted to this; such age differences were not uncommon in the wizarding world. "And has been through so much in her years." He stopped and his lips quirked a little. "You've complained about her cat." This drew an irritated sound out of the potions master ('Great, she has a cat,' he thought, shuddering inwardly.). "You've also commented on her hair," Dumbledore mused. He stopped for a second. "You never liked it when she cried," he suddenly said. "It irritated you." This Severus could believe - he found crying to be not only unproductive, but a sign of weakness. Dumbledore glanced at the door. "She was just crying now… She's probably still doing it in the hallway." He looked at Severus, who stared evenly back at him. "Whether you get your memory back or not, please don't shut her out of your life, Severus – you married her for a reason." Severus didn't respond. "Promise me that you will give her a chance."
Severus didn't say anything for a second. And then… "I promise."
Dumbledore nodded, thankfully, knowing that Severus was a man of his word. He smiled a little, bracing himself, not believing what he was about to do. "You've also complained about her level of curiosity. Her thirst for knowledge and… retaining most of said knowledge." At this point he noticed Severus sit up a little straighter and look at him with a raised eye-brow. Dumbledore gulped a little, but also wanted to smile at the same time and turned away. "A few days ago... and many years ago, also, I believe... you deemed her an… 'insufferable know-it-all.'"
Hermione physically withdrew into herself, feeling a little cold, although the hospital was wellheated and she was flanked on both sides by Remus and Tonks. Seeing her action, Tonks slipped an arm around Hermione and pulled the younger girl closer to let her head rest on her shoulder. Hermione glanced up at her with a grateful expression.
Hermione's face was pink, though not tearstreaked, because she'd kept wiping her tears away as fast as they came. Her amber eyes, however, were still red. Tonks ran a hand over her head comfortingly - the mediwitch's hair had come undone from the ponytail she had pulled it into at work, and it's curls, now simply quite curly only and not frizzy, hung around her shoulders and down her back.
She had been downstairs, doing regular clinic duty instead of the usual complicated diagnostics work she usually did, when Remus had burst into the exam room. He ignored the patient's indignant shouts and looked worriedly at Hermione as he panted, trying to regain his breath. Nobody could apparate into St. Mungo's and obviously, Remus had run all the way to the exam room. He looked at her with panicked eyes and gasped, "Mione... dark potion... Severus... accident..."
Remus worked at the MMRF as well, though he worked only in the Dark Arts Defense... His job mainly consisted of research and he sometimes worked with Severus in the development of the actual countercurses.
Remus sighed and thought about what had happened that morning... The werewolf had been sitting in his office, going over some notes when loud explosions rang out, coming from the Potions Department's lab, which happened to be a few doors down from his office. Remus had run in, helping anyone injured as the Potions researchers ran around the fogged room trying to subdue the potion. Most of the others who had been injured weren't badly hurt - they had just been thrown back by the sheer force of the explosion. As Remus hurried around and helping each of them, his eyes kept darting around the chaos, looking for the Potions Master, who was nowhere to be found.
Finally, Remus had crouched down to help someone up, when he saw a man, robed in dark colours with ink black shoulder-length hair, lying right at the foot of the potion that'd exploded. The fog was considerably clearer near the floor and Remus quickly crawled over to Severus and cast an "ennervate" on him. Nothing happened and Remus was forced to use the wingardium leviosa charm to lift him a bit and carefully get him out of the room.
All anybody knew about the potion was that it was supposed to cause the person it was splashed on to feel as if they were experiencing the Cruciatus curse... Something odd for the MMRF to be doing, but the real plan was that the development of this potion would hopefully lead to a potion that would help reverse the nerve-damaging effect of the Cruciatus. No one knew for sure if the Potions Master had experienced any pain - his face had twisted and he'd doubled over when he'd been splashed with the potion, but he hadn't screamed... Which wasn't a hint to anything because Severus had been one of the few Death Eaters that Voldemort had chosen to teach how to take the Cruciatus without screaming.
"Hermione, you look like you're about to collapse," Kingsley suddenly said, snapping Remus' thoughts to the present.
Hermione did look quite tired, but her fatigue was only physical - she could never go to sleep after knowing what had happened to her husband.
If she hadn't been so shaken up and scared, she would have examined him herself, but the head, Marcia Gouiliana, asked her to wait and let other doctors deal with the situation before giving her the next few days off to be with him.
She had spent the whole day at his bedside, holding his hand. As soon as she sat down and took his right hand into both of hers, she sadly felt a wave of familiarity wash over her. This had been her third vigil for him... It had also been the shortest and Hermione didn't know how to feel about this. Not that she either minded or enjoyed the wakeful nights, reading out loud to him, praying to God - one of the habits from her Muggle childhood that she never left behind - and softly begging him to be alright. It was just that after learning about the potion that he'd been injured with, she wasn't looking forward to learning about what damages he may have experienced... Especially because his condition might have been bad enough to be reason for everybody but Dumbledore to be absent when he woke.
All of a sudden, a woman with long blonde hair and misty gray eyes appeared in the hallway, followed by a blackhaired man with emerald green eyes. Both said nothing before pulling her into their arms and giving her a tight and comforting hug.
"Luna, Harry..." Hermione murmured in greeting.
"Are you alright, Mione?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded and Harry hugged her again.
Luna glanced at the door of the private room Severus was in. "Why aren't you in there?" she asked.
Hermione shrugged and stiffeled a sob. "They don't know how he'll be when he wakes up..." she whispered. Her face crumpled up and Remus filled the Potters in on what happened. Just as he was finishing, the door opened and Dumbledore stepped out, quietly closing the door behind him.
The headmaster then looked over everybody in the hallway and his blue eyes lingered on Hermione's face before he turned to the floor. This was accepted by everybody as a bad omen - Dumbledore always met the eyes of whoever he was speaking to. "I have good news and bad news. I know you will all want the good news last, so here is the bad: Severus has amnesia." He tried to ignore the gasps that went around the group then. "Or, more specifically, what muggles call 'retrograde amnesia.' He has lost the past six years." He was aware of Hermione fall back into her chair and bury her face in her hands in distress and had to force himself to look at the positive. "On the bright side, however, he suffers no other brain damage and is fit to recieve visitors - Well, mentally fit, it's not that he wants to - " Dumbledore stopped as his lame attempt at humour died. The headmaster sighed. "It's better than what we could have hoped for." He finally looked up and met the eyes of the group before him.
The people in the hall were still looking at him expectantly. Finally Luna turned to Hermione, whose face was still hidden behind her hands. "Mi?" She asked.
Hermione quickly nodded. Her hands left her face to run through her hair and brush them back behind her shoulders. "It's alright..."
Harry walked a little closer to Dumbledore. "Let me get this straight, Al - " Harry started and Dumbledore smiled fondly at the nickname. Started by Harry and Hermione, everybody had taken to calling him that... Well, everybody except Severus, that was. The Potions Master had never been partial to broken names... But he always let Hermione call him "Sev" and as small as the gesture might seem, Dumbledore knew it to be large. It was strange, but Dumbledore had always counted on it as one of the signs that the Potions Master truly loved his wife. The thought made Dumbledore smile, a little sadly. Harry continued with his queries. "Snape thinks we're still in seventh year?"
Dumbledore looked weary. "Yes," he answered.
Harry blinked. "Does he... know...?" He jerked his head toward Hermione.
Dumbledore looked at the mediwitch and replied evenly. "Yes. Excuse me for a second, Harry." He walked up to Hermione and offered her a hand to help her out of her chair. Hermione took it and stood up, looking at him, anxiously. "I won't sugarcoat this for you, Hermione," Dumbledore said and her face fell. "He doesn't remember anything past June of that year..." The headmaster looked a little uncomfortable. "And your love affair started some time in late July, correct?" After recieving a jerky nod from Hermione, Dumbledore sighed. "It did however go better than I how I percieved it might," he mused. Hermione's eyes snapped up to meet his own and there was a flicker of hope in them. "I think he accepted the information, but it may take more time for him to accept you fully. We can only hope that his memory will come back. Perhaps seeing you will get the process going." Hermione eyed him curiously and Dumbledore smiled, encouragingly. "Perhaps you should see him first."
After Dumbledore left, Severus had pulled himself out of bed and went to the adjoining bathroom, forcing himself to act and move in a controlled matter to contrast what was happening in his head. From the short walk from his bed to the bathroom, millions of thoughts and questions whipped around his head, occasionally two banging into and bouncing off one another, creating whole new questions and queries. His emotions were reacting likewise. It was funny - he felt so many contrasting emotions at once, all of them connected to different aspects of his last six years of which he knew next to nothing about.
The fact that he'd moved from Spinner's End seemed to be the one he was still indifferent with. He had hardly ever lived at the house and whever he was there, he never bore any kind of attachedness to it. On the contrary, he had always found himself complaining dejectedly to himself that the lab was too small for his research and the study was too small to hold of his books. The other rooms were just as small, but he had not cared because it had never mattered. He was just happy to know that his new house was more three times bigger than his old one and gave him an ample amount of work space.
During the six years, he had spent the first two - 1999 and 2000 - spying. According to Dumbledore, he had been found out in October of 1999, given away by Miss Weasley who had been captured and forced to give up his name in order to save herself. However - and Dumbledore himself wasn't quite sure of what had really happened - her capture might have been staged. The wizarding world still buzzed with rumours, trying to piece together whether Ginevra Weasley had been captured by Death Eaters or simply defected to the Dark Side. In any case, after his treachery had been discovered by the Dark Lord, Severus had gone back - this time, as a raven. As an illegal animagi, he had closely watched the goings on of the Death Eaters and reported back to Dumbledore.
Everything had come to a climaz at the battle of the Forbidden Forest, where the Death Eaters had planned to go sneak through to get to Hogwarts, which stood as a fortress and headquarters against the Dark Side. Snape had reported the plans to Dumbledore, who'd laid out an attack. Basically, when the Death Eaters entered the forest that August night of 1990, the Light Side was waiting for them. "Light the Silver Torch" was the command which told the Light Side to attack. A massive battle ensued at which Voldemort died... Or seemed to.
The curse that had finally brought down the Dark Lord was Severus' own Sectum Sempra. Done by the master who had developed it, the curse managed to slice from Voldemort's chest through to his back, leaving gaping holes in the Dark Lord's chest and torso. As Voldemort gasped for breath, the Boy Wonder, who had been beaten to inches close to death before the Potions Master had shown up at the scene, managed to raise his wand and murmur "Avada Kadavra." There was no green light, but the Dark Lord had led out a shallow breath and fell forward, body turning to ashes and ripped soul disappearing to the heavens. It was because of this end that Dumbledore still harboured a worry that Voldemort was not completely gone... There was no green light, so how could Harry have cast the Killing Curse to finish him off? Even if he had, why did Voldemort's body disappear? And if he hadn't, what had happened to Voldemort? However, after masses of Death Eaters had been captured and six pieces of Voldemort had been destroyed, Dumbledore had deemed the world safe... It was not a peaceful, calm 'safe' but it the was the kind of peace they had the night the Potters died and Voldemort disappeared. The Wizarding World could rejoice, but its leaders would need to keep an eye open.
Severus had listened to Dumbledore's story of the battle, decidely refused to show his feelings of joy and elation show on his face. To an extent, it was over...
And with it were his years at Hogwarts. He didn't teach anymore. After developing a potion that would keep Remus from transforming into the werewolf during the nights of the full moon, he'd been set... After the war, the product had been marketed for werewolves everywhere. Governements and individual werewolves had been clamouring to purchase them, and the millions that had rolled in were more than enough to make up his mind to leave. However, he missed having power to terrorize others and that was the only reason he'd accepted the post at the MMRF. Of course, the dimwits that the Ministry offered were quite different that the dunderheads of Hogwarts. "Apparently, after your first day, you declared that you'd already discovered something - an entire new level stupidity," Dumbledore had told him.
"Oh?" Severus had asked, stoically, not too amused.
"Well, yes," Dumbledore had replied. He looked at the Potions Master then. "That's what you told Hermione."
There was a topic that Dumbledore had steered clear of after Severus' initial reaction, which had been admittedly less than positive. Severus had wanted to ask questions, but he and the headmaster both knew that Dumbledore was probably not the one to be answering them. Therefore, Severus was completely in the dark as to what had actually happened between them, but he could intelligently estimate that whatever it was had been long, trying and complicated.
In any case, she was the only occurence of the past six years that he had mized feelings about. Every other major event had emotions associated with it that were labeled with neat little tags that said "happy," "sad," "frustrated," "angered," etc. Her, however - shock, disbelief, pride, joy, anger, and a bunch of others he was sure that not yet been discovered by mankind... No man can feel all of these emotions simultaneously, unless he is suffering from some kind of mental illness. And after his life, Severus would not be too surprised if he'd looked down on his right hand to see a metal bracelet around it with the word "CRAZY" in luminescent pink writing.
Severus sighed and pushed the bathroom door open. The lights instantly came to life and he looked in the mirror and did a double take.
He looked... different. Healthier. Actually, he looked none the worse for just having suffered from a dark potion.
His skin did not look sallow anymore, but it was pale, like it had been when he had been much younger. His hair was not oily or stringy, but actually wispy. It was a bit shorter, as well... Instead of falling below his shoulders, his hair barely grazed his blades.
His nose hadn't changed a bit. It was still hawkish, but he had always been fine with that. More than fine, actually. Not only did it suit him, but there was always that myth about men with large noses... The thought made him twist his lips in a wry smirk, which made him realize that he had a bad taste in his mouth.
He performed a quick "scourgify" and that was when he noticed his teeth. They were white. How in Merlin...? He had never been pleased with his teeth. He'd gone to all lengths to try to whiten them, but none of them had seemed to work. The yellow hue they'd had before had always made him feel unclean and old, both of which he really wasnt partial to being. Anyways, all attempts had been in vain and they'd failed one after another, until he'd finally grudgingly accepted his teeth as they were. Severus made a mental note to ask Albus what had happened.
His eyes were the same as ever... Cold, glittering shades of charcoal. His eyes had been what he liked best about himself, actually...
Deeming his appearance satisfactory (to say in the least) to face the world, Severus stepped out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He spotted the robes he'd been wearing over his black pants and black shirt at the foot of the bed. He picked them up and slipped them off when he heard a knock at the door. "Enter," he said, annoyed at having intrusion when he wanted to be alone with his thoughts for a while. Scowl firmly in place, he turned around, expecting to see Dumbledore, but instead met the eyes of a woman he instantly recognized as Hermione...
And Severus suddenly found himself wondering if she had kept her last name or taken his...
End of Chapter 1
Creatress: Okay, I think that was a good start...
Sev: But there's no interaction between Hermione and myself...
Creatress: Yeah, but the next chapter starts off with it, so it all evens out...
Mione: This is going to be a long, dark fic, isn't it?
Creatress: Well... Um... Severus starts relapsing between the light and the dark, so... Yeah...
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