Warnings: EWE, some lemony content

Disclaimer: © 2007 Mundungus42. All rights reserved. This work may not be archived, reproduced, or distributed in any format without prior written permission from the author. This is an amateur non-profit work, and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by J.K.Rowling or any other lawful holder. Permission may be obtained by e-mailing the author at mundungus42 at yahoo dot com

Author's Notes: Written for the winter 2007 round of the SSHG Exchange on Livejournal for Maliciouspixie5, who gave me the following promt: As a youth, Snape enchanted his Potions journal to ensnare Lily. It didn't work until years later when it got Hermione instead. Just use your imagination- this can go anywhere.


She stood atop the Astronomy Tower and gazed down at the field of battle below. One by one, her friends were felled by curses or mauled by monsters, until there was nobody left but her.

'We have triumphed!' crowed Voldemort, his magically amplified voice cutting through the din. Across the battlefield, black-robed men and women raised their fists and cried out their support.

The voices seemed to fade as the spirits of the dead began to rise from the corpses strewn across the lawn. They rose like a silver mist, dozens of dead faces and hands reaching skyward, toward what she was unable to determine. Perhaps heaven, perhaps others among the dead, perhaps seeking in mute anguish the point of it all.

Suddenly her reality shifted, and instead of reaching out to the sky the spectral hands were reaching for her. She raised her arm, in part to deflect them and in part to keep from looking at the disappointed and envious faces of those who had died.

She lowered her arm and found herself facing the spirits of Harry and Ron. Her eyes filled with tears.

'Don't cry, Hermione,' said Ron, who looked ready to cry himself. 'We'll be together again someday.'

'Yeah,' agreed Harry. 'Don't feel bad for us. We're getting out. You're the one who's going to have to deal with the world under Voldemort's rule.'

Ron winced. 'What'd you say his name for?' he demanded.

'Weasley, you and Potter are dead,' came a sardonic voice from behind them. The shade of Severus Snape stood before her, his neck streaked with silvery blood. 'The Ministry is no longer tracking your taboo words. And I hope you're happy now, Miss Granger.'

Outrage overcame fear. 'What are you talking about? I didn't want this!'

Snape's ghost smirked at her. 'You always wanted definitive proof that Divination is rubbish. The Dark Lord has given you just that.'

'This isn't real,' she said firmly. 'This is a nightmare. We won, you see, but loads of people died. I don't think I'm taking it too well.'

He smirked at her. 'Welcome to the world of the traumatised survivor, Miss Granger,' he said. 'You may take comfort that your visit here will be of short duration.'

'Is that a threat?'

'No, Miss Granger,' he said with a sigh. 'It's time for you to wake up.'

Every muscle in Hermione's body clenched, and she jerked into wakefulness, covered in sweat.

She immediately threw back the covers in an attempt to cool her overheated flesh and sighed as the night air hit her skin. Her bed in the infirmary was closest to the open window. The spring breezes carried with them the smells of the forest and blooming flowers but also the sulphurous tang of the day's battle. If the nearby duet of snores was any indication, Ron and Harry were fast asleep.

Despite having sent all the other wounded off to St. Mungo's, Madam Pomfrey had insisted that they spend the night in the infirmary. Hermione was profoundly grateful not to have to answer any questions about Voldemort's demise just yet. However, it seemed that her conscience was not deterred by Madam Pomfrey's insistence that they rest undisturbed.

She slid out of bed and carefully opened the infirmary door just wide enough to slip through. The moon was visible from the corridor windows, and she found herself winding down the hallway between patches of moonlight.

She knew that no teachers would be about; she'd overheard Professors Sprout and McGonagall describing the last time the Hogwarts staff had reason to celebrate, which involved cleaning Madam Rosmerta out of mead and Professor Flitwick somehow collecting a pair of knickers from every female staff member. She wondered how anybody could be celebrating tonight.

She paused by the window and gazed out over the lawn, where Ministry officials were cataloguing and removing the dead. Given the scope of the battle, they would be at the task for quite some time. Moving lights behind the windows of the Great Hall led her to conclude that efforts were still underway to stabilise parts of the castle that had been damaged, in spite of its ancient magical protections.

Hermione wondered if they'd fixed the wall that had collapsed on Fred Weasley or cleaned where Lavender Brown had fallen. Hogwarts had stood for a thousand years and would likely stand for thousands more, but its hallowed halls were now stained with blood, and she feared it would never feel safe to her again.

Hermione found that her feet had carried her to a familiar tapestry with dancing trolls. She smiled ruefully at the blank wall where the Room of Requirement's door had appeared to her so many times before.

The Room was another safe place that had been violently taken from her. She felt very foolish for not having understood that the room wasn't just there because she needed it, it was there for anyone, regardless of their intentions. Apparently, Neville and the rest of Dumbledore's Army had learned from her mistake, but she knew the error had been one of the causes for Sirius's death.

She knew that she was not entirely to blame, but she couldn't help but imagine how the night might have been different if they hadn't been caught by the Inquisitorial Squad that night. Harry might have had the sense to search Grimmauld Place for Sirius instead of taking Kreacher's word for it that he was gone. Powerful Order members might have taken the Death Eaters by surprise without bloodshed.

Silent tears began running down her face as she wondered how the previous day's battle would have been different if she'd thought to check the Room of Hidden Things for the diadem first, or if she'd been brave enough to use Fiendfyre to destroy the Horcruxes, or if she hadn't broken Harry's wand. Perhaps Hogwarts never would have been attacked. How many more would be alive today if she'd been smarter and more determined? She sank down against the wall by the portrait and cried, her entire body wracked with silent sobs.

She wished fervently that there were some way to make amends to the victims of her stupidity.

No sooner had the thought formed in her mind than a soft scraping sound came from across the hall. She lifted her head and was surprised to see a door in the opposite wall. It wasn't the brass-finished oak of the Room of Requirement, or the ancient ironwood of the Room of Hidden Things. Instead, this door's fixtures were made of metal that was so dark a silver that it was nearly blue.

Too surprised to cry any longer, Hermione lifted the latch and opened the door.