A/N: This was written for Clare009 on the SSHG exchange on LiveJournal. Because it is already finished, I will be posting about one chapter a day.

Endless thanks to RenitaLeandra who was so helpful in making this fic better than I ever could have made it on my own.

The Snape Charmer

Chapter 1

Years later, the subject of who to blame for Hermione Granger and Severus Snape falling in love would become a common source of entertainment and argument amongst their friends. Most frequently it was Harry Potter, who was alternately credited or criticized (depending on who was involved in the discussion), for the role that he had played. Generally, Kingsley Shacklebolt was also mentioned, since Harry couldn't have done what he did without the Minister's approval. There was also Hermione, who had certainly been heavily involved and, of course, there was Severus himself, who had had a significant hand in the matter. Even, a few would argue, Voldemort and Nagini had played their part. After all, had it not been for the nearly successful attempt on his life, Severus would not have paid Hermione the slightest notice

That attempt was so successful, in fact, that two months after the defeat of Voldemort, as far as everyone was concerned Severus Snape was dead and buried in a hastily dug and poorly marked grave on a stretch of land between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. This was in the same manner that all those who'd had no family to lay claim to their bodies had been buried. It had been enough to create a small cemetery in which about a dozen undersized headstones could be seen from the road. It was not an attractive place and many people whispered about what a shame it was that so many of the fallen had not been given a better resting place. However, when the Battle of Hogwarts had ended, and Voldemort was defeated, the true devastation of the war could be seen everywhere in Britain. From the damage and injuries inflicted at Hogwarts, to the hundreds of people who had been wrongly imprisoned, to the devastated economy resulting from a year of living cut off from the rest of the wizarding world. Because of this, all the resources were put towards helping the living survive and painfully little was left to be spared for those who had died.

This was why, eight weeks after the battle, Harry made it known that he felt it was time that Snape should have a proper burial. His announcement, made at the kitchen table of The Burrow, was met with the general astonishment of all those present. That morning, it happened to be Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Xeno and Luna Lovegood, who were staying at The Burrow.Repairs continued on their own home which had suffered greatly from both the exploding Erumpent horn and from being unoccupied for the following six months. Most everyone was still having a hard time coming to grasp with this new Snape-friendly version of Harry that had manifested itself since the Battle of Hogwarts. This was why, as soon as the words left his lips, everyone stared at him, several with their mouths hanging open.

"What?" he asked defensively, shoving a piece of bacon into his mouth. "It's shameful the way everyone was just tossed into the ground like they did."

Molly made a pained, choking noise and Harry immediately regretted his choice of words. Fred had had a beautiful funeral, complete at the end with a magnificent display of Wild-Fire Whiz Bangs. Still, it had probably not been the best way for Harry to explain his feelings.

"What I mean," he said, hastily clarifying his statement, "is that Snape did as much for us…me… as anybody. I thought perhaps burying him next to Dumbledore would be the right thing to do."

This was met with more stunned silence and it seemed that everyone was at a loss of what to say. It was Luna who was the first to recover and express her opinion.

"I think that's a lovely idea, Harry," she grinned at him. He returned her smile, his eyes conveying his thanks that she, at least, had stood up for him. "After all, it's a little known fact that Professor Snape not only participated in bringing down the Death Eaters, but he was also a hero in exposing the whole Rot-fang conspiracy."

Harry tried his best not to wince, but was not entirely successful. It didn't matter, though, as Luna had turned to her father who was beaming with pride.

"Right you are, Luna dear!" Xeno exclaimed, patting his daughter on the back. "Why, just as soon as I get my printing press back up, I intend to do an entire story on the secret life of Severus Snape."

"I'm sure he would have loved that," Ron muttered under his breath and both Harry and Hermione, who were sitting closest to him, snickered. "Ol' Snapey would love to be the headline of the Quibbler."

"Professor Snape," Hermione corrected. "Just because he's dead doesn't mean that we shouldn't still treat him with respect." She turned to Harry, her eyes bright with enthusiasm. "I think that is a great idea, Harry. I'm sure Professor Snape would have wanted to be buried on Hogwarts grounds. If there is anything I can do to help, I'd be more than happy to assist."

"Would you?" Harry sounded more than a little relieved. "That's good because I don't really know how to go about it. I mean, we'll have to exhume his body won't we? Do we need to get permission to do that?"

Hermione sat in thought for a moment. "I don't know. Obviously in the Muggle world you can't go around digging up graves, so I'm sure you can't in the wizarding world either. Mrs. Weasley, do you know what we will have to do?"

Molly had been busy drying a stack of dishes and turned when Hermione asked her the question. Harry noticed her face looked a little red and puffy and once again regretted bringing the subject of burials up in her presence.

"Well," she began,drying her hands on a dishcloth and making her way to sit at the head of the table, "you'll need to get permission from the Ministry. I know they've put wards all around that cemetery to keep people out who might harm the graves. I'm sure Kingsley wouldn't mind, though. I can have Arthur talk to him if you would like."

"Great!" Both Harry and Hermione spoke at the same time.

Molly returned to her dishes and, now that everyone was done eating, the room began to clear out. Xeno and Luna both left to go work on the repairs to their home and Ginny looked as ifshe was heading outdoors to practice Quidditch. Harry was intent on joining her with the hope of finding something more interesting than Quidditch to practice when Ron stopped him.

"Look, mate," he said quietly, although not so quietly that Hermione didn't hear him and move to join in on the conversation, "I know you want to do something to pay Snape back for saving you and all, but this isn't going to be cheap. Tombs like the one Dumbledore was buried in cost a lot of Galleons. Why don't you do something easier like, putting up a plaque in the Potions classroom or something?"

Hermione rolled her eyes at this suggestion. "Honestly, Ron, a plaque? What's it going to say? 'Here in this room, war hero Severus Snape terrorized his students'? Harry is right. The way he was buried is shameful. It needs to be fixed."

"Yeah, but why do we have to be the ones to fix it?" Ron asked.

"Because if we don't, no one will," Harry answered. "Look, don't worry about the money. I've got enough to cover it and we're going to be starting Auror training soon so I'll have an income in addition to what my parents left me. Besides, the money came from my mum and dad and I don't think my mum would have liked to see him in that tiny grave either. I might not have liked him, but he at least deserves our respect."

"Fine," Ron sighed. "You know I'm not going to make you do this on your own. If there is anything I can do to help, you know I will."

True to her word, Molly had Arthur speak with the new Minister of Magic about moving Professor Snape's body to Hogwarts and burying him next to Dumbledore. Although the Minister was bogged down with trying to rebuild the wizarding infrastructure that had nearly been destroyed in the previous year, he was enthusiastic about Harry's idea and promised to do what he could to help them out. As a result, the request to exhume Snape's body was pushed through the necessary committees in record time.

Meanwhile, Hermione, with the occasional help from Harry, Ron and Ginny, began working on the arrangements for the new grave. When she had agreed to help Harry out, she should have known that this wasn't going to be much different than the times when she had helped Harrywith his Transfiguration homework. Once again Harry had great intentions but lacked the organization necessary to put those intentions into action.

Auror training started two weeks after their discussion at The Burrow and both Harry and Ron were spending nearly their every waking moment working towards their mutual goal of becoming an Auror. Harry had moved back into number twelve, Grimmauld Place, along with Ron.They usually set out early in the morning and didn't return until well past sunset, exhausted and unwilling to do anything more than go to bed.

Some evenings Hermione and Ginny would join them at the house. The four of them would sit around the kitchen, eating the fantastic meals Kreacher fed them, and pretending that they weren't all thinking of those that could never eat with them again. Those evenings were also the only chances that Hermione had to spend any time with Ron. Since the Battle of Hogwarts, their time together had been limited and each of them jumped at the chance to see the other. It was made all the easier by Harry and Ginny who usually disappeared as soon as the last of the dessert was cleared away.

The rest of Hermione's evenings, however, were spent at her childhood home. She had moved back in with her parents whose memories she had successfully restored. At first, they had been furious with her for altering their memories without any warning, but once she explained the seriousness of the situation, their belated fear overrode their anger. Therefore, in an attempt to appease their sudden overprotective tendencies and her own lack of funds, Hermione agreed to move back in with her parents until she found gainful employment. When that would be she had no idea, however. Considering that the plans for Professor Snape's re-burial was taking up all of her time, she would not have the spare time it would take to search for a job.

Having never planned a funeral for anyone, Muggle or wizard, Hermione didn't realize how much work was involved. She thought it was rather like planning a wedding. There were colors and fabrics to choose for the coffin, tomb styles to worry over, and wording for the inscription to write and rewrite. In the process, Hermione realized just how very little she had ever known about any of her professors, especially Professor Snape.

Therefore, Hermione consulted the only reliable sources she could think of- his fellow teachers at Hogwarts and, most importantly, the portrait of Professor Dumbledore. Her conversation with the former Headmaster had been both enjoyable and enlightening. He was able to give her a lot of information on the man who had lived in the dungeons and taught the students, but unfortunately, even he did not truly know much about Professor Snape's personal life. It seemed that the man had beennothing more than a spy and teacher who had never genuinely cared for anyone beyond Lily Potter. It seemed so sad that he had lived such a lonely life. From what Professor Dumbledore told her, in the rare moments when Professor Snape would let his guard down, he had shown himself to be an intelligent, interesting man with,surprisingly enough, a good sense of humor in a dry, sarcastic sort of way. Hermione thought he seemed like someone she would have liked, had circumstances been different.

As a result, Hermione was left on her own to determine what Professor Snape would have most appreciated. This wasn't an easy decision and the more Hermione learned about her former professor, the more driven she was to honour him in the best way she could. After a considerable amount of deliberation, she finally decided that if Professor Snape had been such a private person that even Professor Dumbledore hadn't truly known him, then the best way to pay tribute to him was to respect his privacy. Therefore, she and Harry together made the decision that the tomb should be simple and understated and there would not be any ceremony to mark the occasion.

The tomb itself was to be fashioned out of grey granite; smaller than the imposing one Dumbledore was buried in; and marked only with Professor Snape's name and dates of birth and death. Ginny had argued in favor of some sort of inscription, but in the end, nothing could be agreed upon that Hermione wouldn't have felt to be too presumptuous. After all, they had not been friends with the man and he had despised them. The only personal touch given to the entire tomb was a carving of a doe standing in a forest, much like the one where Harry had first seen Snape's Patronus.

It took over a month before the preparations were complete and a date and time could be decided upon to transfer the body. Everyone agreed that it should be done as discreetly as possible. In the Ministry, only Kingsley, Arthur and Percy knew all the details. Hermione considered it a personal triumph when, on the morning they were going to move Professor Snape's body to Hogwarts, not a word of it was printed in the Daily Prophet.

Kingsley alone was the only representative from the Ministry that was going to be present. He had agreed that he would only go so far as to lower the wards at the cemetery and magically exhume the coffin. From there, Hermione, Ron and Harry would take it through the gates of Hogwartsto the waiting tomb. Harry, as he had done with Dobby, insisted this should be done without magic. When Hermione pointed out that it was unlikely the three of them could manage on their own, he had finally conceded to a lightening charm, but was adamant that they i would /i carry the coffin themselves.

Ron had balked at the idea, but privately Hermione wondered if perhaps this was somehow Harry's way of trying to atone for his misjudgment of Snape. Granted, everyone else had misjudged him as well, but for this different, more mature Harry that had emerged, that didn't seem to be a good enough excuse.

They arrived by Apparition to the cemetery early in the morning. The day was promising to be blisteringly hot and even with the sun just beginning to rise, it felt uncomfortably warm.

"Hello, Harry, Ron, Hermione," Kingsley said, his deep voice as calm and comforting as it had ever been. Although he had always been well dressed, his robes appeared to be even finer than what Hermione had remembered.

"How have you been Kingsley?" Hermione asked, as they trudged through the gate of the small fence that lined the small tombstones. Harry and Ron frequently saw him at the Ministry, but Hermione had not had a chance to speak directly with the former Order member since the war had ended.

"Very busy," Kingsley replied with a wry smile as they walked through the grass, the hems of their robes becoming damp with dew. "I would not have thought it possible that one wizard, even one so powerful as Voldemort, could nearly destroy our entire society in less than one year in power. It is not common knowledge, but Britain being cut off from the rest of the wizarding world caused some serious problems in other countries as well. There has been civil unrest in the magical communities of Russia, Germany and France. Would you believe that a group of Potions Masters stormed Beauxbatons earlier this spring? We export large quantities of certain potions ingredients, and as a result the potions trade has been brought to a near standstill. They were convinced the school was hoarding supplies for themselves. Of course, had they bothered to check with Madame Maxime first, they would have realized that Potions class had been cancelled months ago because of the same shortage."

Hermione was shocked by Kingsley's news. She had been so consumed with her own problems and those of her friends, that she hadn't stopped to consider the ramifications the war would have on those outside of Britain. She knew it had been unrealistic to expect everything to return to normal within a few months, but she had not realized how great an impact the war had truly had. The feeling was overwhelming and disturbing.

They had now reached Professor Snape's grave and Kingsley turned to speak directly to Harry. "I spoke with Minerva. She will be waiting for you at the new tomb."

Harry nodded and, now that it had come down to it, was beginning to look a little sick. He took a few deep breaths, as if to prepare himself.

"You all right there?" Ron asked, patting Harry on the back and looking a little queasy himself. Harry nodded and looked back up at Kingsley.

"Let's get on with this, then."

What spell he used, none of the three could tell as it must have been non-verbal. Privately, Hermione suspected it was some variation on a Summoning Charm, perhaps similar to how the food appeared on the tables at Hogwarts, because no sooner had Kingsley completed a complex set of wand movements, than Snape's coffin appeared in front of them.

"Well, that's a bit easier than I expected," Ron whispered with a relieved sigh.

Cautiously, they moved towards the coffin. Had it been any less somber of an occasion, Hermione might have found the situation amusing. It's as if we expect him to jump out of the coffin and deduct House points, she thought to herself, wryly.

Once they were all standing in front of it, Hermione realized just how hastily the former professor must have been buried. The coffin looked cheap and poorly made. Even after only a few months since his burial, it was already beginning to deteriorate. She tried not to think about the man who was inside of it as Harry pulled out his wand and performed the lightening spell on the coffin. He glanced over at both Hermione and Ron and, without saying a word the three of them reached down, grabbed a hold of the handles, and picked it up.

It seemed to Hermione that Harry's charm work had greatly increased since the last time they were in a classroom. It felt like the coffin barely weighed a thing and the three of them were easily able to carry it. Solemnly, the three of them walked through the narrow gate and, as they began to trudge up the hill towards Hogwarts, Harry nodded his thanks to Kingsley. The Minister of Magic smiled back and turned to Apparate back to London.

Although it was still early, the sun's heat was making them all uncomfortable. Even so, none of them said a word of their discomfort; not even Ron spoke. Instead he stared down at his feet as he walked, casting nervous glances at the coffin every so often. Harry, who was walking on the opposite side, stared straight ahead. His face was set with a fierce expression of determination and it seemed as though he didn't even realize anyone else was with him. Hermione watched him for a moment and wondered about the Penseive memories that had changed Harry's opinion so drastically. Although he had told them everything he saw, he had never allowed them to watch the memories themselves. Instead he had carefully gathered the memories, returned them to the flask and now kept them hidden in his room. Harry's secrecy only added to her curiosity of the man who had given those memories up.

Hermione, who was walking behind Ron, found she couldn't take her eyes off of the coffin. She thought about everything she had learned about this man as she had made the arrangements and she was shocked to realize she felt sorry for him. Granted, Professor Snape had been a horrible teacher, making his personal feelings about her, Ron and Harry blatantly obvious to everyone. But when she took into consideration the life he had been forced to live, required to spend countless hours with the man who had murdered the only woman he had ever loved, she discovered that she couldn't bring up the old feelings of anger and dislike. Instead, all she felt for him now was pity and sadness.

It was as she was contemplating this, that she felt the coffin jerk suddenly. She looked up just in time to see Ron begin to stumble over a loose rock on the road.

"Ron!" she screeched. "Watch out!"

But the warning was too late and Ron was already falling to his knees, grunting as he landed. His hands, which were sweaty from both his nerves and the heat of the sun, slipped and he dropped his part of the coffin.

It all happened so quickly that, despite her warning to Ron, Hermione couldn't stop herself in time and she tripped over his lanky body that was in her path. Instinctively she put her hands out to cushion the blow and, with no one on their side to hold up the coffin, it fell to the ground with a crash.

"Oh Merlin, oh Merlin," Ron was mumbling to himself, his eyes shut tight and an expression of horror on his face. "Don't make me look."

Hermione groaned as she rubbed an elbow that had taken the brunt of her fall. She, too, did not want to look over at the coffin for fear that Professor Snape's body had fallen out.

"You two all right?" Harry asked, standing over them.

"Don't make me look," Ron whimpered again. "Just put him back in and don't tell me."

"Actually," Harry said slowly, "I think you might want to look."

"Are you mental?" Ron's voice rose by an octave and his eyes remained tightly shut. Hermione on the other hand, tentatively opened her eyes and glanced over to where the destroyed coffin lay.

She wasn't sure what she was expecting to see; she was not sure how long it took a body to decompose. But whatever she was imagining, it certainly wasn't Severus Snape looking exactly as he had the day he had been put into the ground. Hermione sat up quickly and moved over to where he was lying on the ground.

"Is–is this normal?" she asked,looking up at Harry. "I mean, shouldn't he be…"
Her voice trailed off as she searched for the least offensive word possible.

"Well, I'm not sure," Harry said tentatively. "But I think by now he should have begun decomposing"

Hermione tried to think back to all she knew about wizarding burial practices. Admittedly, it wasn't much. She did know from Fred's funeral, that there were spells that could be used to preserve the bodies. But she also knew that, given all the injured and dead there were to attend to after Voldemort's defeat, such consideration had only been given to those who had family members capable of performing such spells. Molly had performed the spell on Fred, Remus and Tonks's bodies. Hermione was almost positive no one had done so for Professor Snape.

"What are you guys talking about?" Ron's voice sounded panicked as he called out to them.

"Ron, I really think you need to look at this." Hermione responded calmly to him. With that he, too, cautiously opened his eyes. But instead of looking relieved, as she had expected, he became even more anxious, scooting away from the coffin and the man who had fallen out of it.

"Oh bloody hell," he whispered frantically. "He's a vampire!All those rumors were true! We need to get McGonagall."

Hermione and Harry both stared at him with expressions of amusement. Hermione reached out a comforting hand but Ron flinched even from that small gesture.

"Ron, I really don't think he's a vampire." Hermione tried to speak as reassuringly as she could. "I mean, he left Harry all those memories. And besides, if he had been a vampire, don't you think we would have seen him around before now?"

Ron did not look the least bit comforted. "Then how do you explain it Hermione? He should be… well I don't know what he should be, but he shouldn't look like that, should he?"

Hermione frowned and looked over at Professor Snape again. "No, I don't think he should. After all, he was buried in a hurry, wasn't he? Could there have been some sort of charm put on him?"

Harry shook his head slowly. "I don't think so. Remember, we were in such a hurry to get everyone buried it was all we could do to get them all in the ground."

Those words confirmed Hermione's suspicions. It was highly unlikely that someone had put a charm on him. And besides, who would have wanted to? He may have not been a traitor, but he certainly wasn't well liked.

"Well, Ron's right about one thing," she said. "We do need to get Professor McGonagall."

"I'll go." Ron jumped to his feet, continuing to keep as much distance between himself and Snape as he could.

"All right," Harry agreed. "Hermione and I will stay here with… him."

Ron didn't need to be told twice. He nearly broke into a run as he hurried up the road to the castle. While he was gone, both Harry and Hermione sat in confused silence, occasionally glancing over at the body but never saying a word. After a relatively short amount of time, Ron returned with Professor McGonagall walking briskly next to him. Hermione jumped up and hurried forward to meet them.

"What is all this about, Miss Granger?" Professor McGonagall asked. "All I can get out of Mr. Weasley is some nonsense about Professor Snape and vampires."

"You look for yourself!" Ron said defensively, pointing towards the body. Professor McGonagall gave him a harsh look for his tone but he didn't even flinch. "I'm telling you, he must be a vampire."

Professor McGonagall stopped short as her eyes fell on the body sprawled out on the road. "Merlin's beard," she whispered under her breath and then hurried forward. Harry backed away to give her room. She immediately pulled out her wand and began muttering spells under her breath.

Harry moved around so he was standing next to Hermione and Ron. Together the three of them stood in silence as they watched their former professor work. After several minutes of nearly constant spell work she looked up at them sharply.

"Go get Madam Pomfrey. Quick!"

"I'll go," Harry said under his breath and Hermione nodded as she continued to watch Professor McGonagall work. Whatever it was the woman had discovered, it seemed that Professor Snape was definitely not a vampire. It seemed to take an eternity, although in reality it couldn't have been more than ten minutes, when Harry arrived back with Madam Pomfrey.

"Minerva, what is going on?" she asked as she arrived. Then she, too, saw Snape. "Great Gryffindor!" Her voice was nearly a shout.

"I've run all sorts of spells, Poppy," Professor McGonagall said, looking up nurse. "It seems he's been put under some sort of stasis spell."

"Well who would do that?" Madam Pomfrey asked, kneeling down next to the body and pulling out her wand.

"Poppy," Professor McGonagall began slowly, "I think it was Severus."

"What do you mean?" Madam Pomfrey spoke sharply as she waved her wand. Professor McGonagall did not respond and after just a few moments, Madam Pomfrey let out a small gasp of shock. Her wand hand dropped suddenly as if the piece of wood was too heavy to keep holding up.

"Do you see it as well?" Professor McGonagall asked.

"See what?" Harry spoke up for the first time since returning from the castle. "What's going on?"

Madam Pomfrey glanced at Professor McGonagall, almost as if asking permission for something. The professor gave a small nod. Madam Pomfrey stood, brushed the dirt off her robes and turned to speak to Harry, Ron and Hermione.

"It seems that this stasis spell was cast prior to Professor Snape's demise."

"What does that mean?" Ron asked.

"What it means, Mr. Weasley, is that from what Professor McGonagall and I can tell, Professor Snape is not actually dead."

This pronouncement was followed with complete and utter silence. And then downright chaos erupted.

"What do you mean not dead?" Hermione asked, rushing towards Professor McGonagall and pulling out her own wand.

"I was there!" Harry nearly shouted. "I would think I could tell if I saw the man die or not."

"So he's not a vampire?" Ron asked in a relieved voice and looked as if he could collapse into a heap. No one bothered to dignify his question with a response.

"How could this have happened?" Hermione asked, settling down next to Professor McGonagall. "Doesn't anyone check for these kinds of spells before they bury people?"

Madam Pomfrey looked uncomfortable. "Perhaps if his had been the only death. But there were so many bodies and so many people who were alive that needed tending to. I didn't… I didn't think…" Her voice trailed off and Hermione was shocked to see tears in the older woman's eyes.

"Don't blame yourself, Poppy," Professor McGonagall said comfortingly. "Severus must have known he was taking a risk when he cast the spell. We didn't have time to check everyone and there was so much blood when we collected him. There was no reason to suspect he wasn't dead."

"I don't understand." Harry sounded frustrated as he, too, joined them. "I was there. I watched him die! I never saw him cast any sort of spell."

"This spell is non-verbal," Professor McGonagall replied. "You never would have heard him say the words."

"But he never even waved his wand. Nothing!"

"Potter," Professor McGonagall began in a lecturing tone that Harry had heard many times in Transfiguration class. "You know that each spell requires a different wand movement, correct?"

Harry nodded his head.

"Has it ever occurred to you that there are spells that require no wand movement? Perhaps spells which are designed to disguise the fact that they are being cast? Did Professor Snape have his wand out at any point just prior to his death?"

Harry thought back to the events in the Shrieking Shack. Although it had been over three months ago, he could still remember the events as clearly as if they had happened the day before. He recalled the moment when Snape had pulled out his wand, seemingly to defend himself. And then he had paused. As if he had expected a reprieve from Voldemort. But that didn't make any sense. Voldemort was not exactly known for his leniency and Snape of all people would have surely known it. As realization dawned on his face, Professor McGonagall smiled triumphantly.

"There was a moment when I thought he was going to defend himself," Harry said quietly. "But he didn't. He just stood there with his wand out."

"That must have been when he cast the stasis spell," Madam Pomfrey nodded.

"But then why did it look like he had died?" Hermione asked. "I was standing there too and his eyes went blank and he stopped breathing. Surely if he had cast the spell earlier…"

"He must have invented some sort of variation to it," replied Madam Pomfrey. "From what I understand, Severus was adept at creating variations to spells and even invented some himself."

Hermione, Ron and Harry all glanced nervously at each other. They knew exactly how good Snape was at creating new spells. Madam Pomfrey did not notice them and continued on uninterrupted.

"It appears that the spell was activated only moments before death. Very clever of him. Very clever indeed." The admiration in her voice was clear.

"Can you treat him, Poppy?" Professor McGonagall asked and it was at that point when Madam Pomfrey frowned.

"If we had no other options, perhaps. But I think he would be better served to go to St. Mungo's. They keep the anti-venom on hand that Severus needs to treat his bite ever since Arthur's attack. They also have much stronger Blood-Replenishing Potions than what I have access to."

Professor McGonagall nodded briskly. "I will contact Kingsley and inform him about what has happened. Severus will need Auror protection while he is being treated."

"When we get up to the castle, I will floo Healer Smethwyck," Madam Pomfrey said as she conjured a stretcher and levitated Snape onto it. "He will want to have the necessary potions on hand before we bring Severus over."

The walk up to the castle was as silent as it had begun when Harry, Ron and Hermione had been carrying the coffin. Now, rather than a coffin, it was Severus Snape on a conjuredstretcher. Hermione's eyes were drawn to the empty tomb that they passed on their way to the castle and she shuddered. What would have happened had Ron not tripped? How long would the spell have kept Snape alive?

It was a lucky thing that there was still a week before the start of term. Hermione could only imagine the panic that would have ensued at the sight of Professor Snape, still alive, being carried through the castle.

As soon as they reached the hospital wing, the two older women moved fast, each of them moving towards fireplaces to contact the necessary people. Harry, Ron and Hermione stood back, afraid of getting in the way and watched them.

"Yes, that's what I said, Kingsley," Professor McGonagall said, her head stuck in the fireplace. "He's alive. No… no, I haven't been in the Firewhisky. Floo over here yourself if you don't believe me."

"We'll be transferring him as soon as we can get permission from the Minister." Madam Pomfrey was speaking in another fireplace. "Yes, all the Blood-Replenishingpotions you can get your hands on. The poor man is going to need it."

A few minutes later there was another flurry of activity as Kingsley, Percy and two Aurors came through the floo. Seconds later, two Healers arrived from St. Mungo's. They all crowded around the bed in which Snape had been laid.

"He's in a fragile condition," the Healer that Madam Pomfrey had greeted as Smethwyck said, running his wand along Snape's body. "I'm not sure he will handle the transfer. It might be better to just treat him here."

"That would be better for security as well," Kingsley agreed. "We're going to have a difficult time keeping this quiet. Poppy, will you be able to keep him here?"

"Of course!" Madam Pomfrey sounded insulted that she was even questioned. "As long as we have the needed potions, I will do whatever I can for Severus."

"We have brought everything necessary with us," Healer Smethwyck said and, as he spoke, the other Healer gently lifted Snape's head while he other poured the Blood-Replenishingpotion into his mouth. Seconds later that potion was followed by the anti-venom.

Once they had settled him back on the pillow, Healer Smethwyck said, "We are ready to lift the stasis spell."

Reluctantly, Hermione and Harry both moved closer to watch. Ron took a couple steps back and seemed to be cringing. Both Percy and Kingsley were standing next to Professor McGonagall at the foot of the bed while the Healers and Madam Pomfrey were up by the head.

"Go ahead," Kingsley said with a nod of his head.

"Finite Incantatem!" Healer Smethwyck's voice was barely above a whisper and it seemed that everyone in the room was holding their collective breaths.

For several long moments the man in the bed didn't move and Hermione had the thought that they had been wrong after all. Perhaps he really was dead. And then, just when she was sure nothing would happen, Snape's chest began to rise and fall. Professor McGonagall exhaled loudly and Hermione heard a squeak behind her that she knew had come from Ron.

The Healers once again began working, casting numerous spells that Hermione had never even read about. Eventually, though, they stopped and took a step back. She leaned forward so she could better see and realized that Snape was beginning to open his eyes. He was obviously too weak to lift his head, but his eyes darted around the room taking everyone in. When his eyes at last fell on Harry and Hermione, they stopped and Harry shifted nervously where he stood. Snape then turned to look at Professor McGonagall who was smiling encouragingly at him.

"Merlin," he gasped, his voice so hoarse that his words were difficult to make out. "I'm in hell."

And with those words, Snape promptly passed out.