A/N: This story was written for the SS/HG exchange, winter round 2007/2008.
I wish to thank my beta readers, Maggie and Melusin, for their patience, support and hard work. There wouldn't be a story without them.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Danger of fluff-induced asphyxiation
Summary: Hermione and Severus are both heads of their houses and compete for the Quidditch Cup and the House Cup. However, a few things have changed since Hermione was a student. Prompt: may be DH-compliant. Hermione and Snape are both heads of their houses at Hogwarts and their houses are neck and neck for the Quidditch cup. Humor, romance, snark.
The body of the lifeless man on the ground twitched slightly. That had to be good enough, Hermione Granger thought. She took a phial out of her bag and gently prised Severus Snape's lips open. She poured a few drops of the liquid onto his tongue and then massaged his throat, repeating the process again and again until she noticed him swallow on his own. Then she fed him phial after phial of the potion.
Eyes that had been staring blindly only a moment before were now blinking rapidly, trying to moisten the dry cornea, trying to see again.
"Lie still," Hermione hissed when Snape struggled faintly. "Not a sound." She took another phial out of her bag and poured its content carefully onto the still bleeding wounds on Snape's neck. The wounds healed instantly.
"For good measure," she whispered. Pushing a bezoar into Snape's mouth, she commanded, "Swallow!"
He did as he was told and continued to stare at her confusedly.
"That first one was a blood replenishing potion. The second was a phial full of phoenix tears. It was in Professor Slughorn's private quarters. The third was a bezoar; I don't know what other effects the snake venom still has. All three together should get you back on your feet in an instant." Hermione was still holding Snape's head and looking at him warmly. The last few hours had changed her view of the man completely.
"Lily?" he whispered and then pulled her head down for a kiss. Hermione was so surprised that, at first, she couldn't resist and later didn't want to resist. It wasn't a passionate kiss; Snape was still far too weak for that, but it was a kiss filled with a tenderness, love and devotion she had never experienced before. It made her head spin and her knees weak.
After a long moment, she gently pushed him away; she didn't want to deceive him.
"Not Lily. Don't you remember?"
Snape's eyes were clear and faintly glittering now. "Miss Granger?"
"Yes," she nodded and stroked his cheek. He didn't object.
"Why what? Why am I not Lily; why did I help you; why are you here?"
"Nagini. The Dark Lord. Potter! I must…" He started to struggle, trying to get up.
Hermione held him by his shoulders and gently pushed him back to the ground. "You did. Harry saw. We won. Or will win, whichever way you want to see it. And this is thanks to you, your bravery and devotion. Everyone knows what a hero you are. Harry told everyone."
"Bloody Hell," Snape whispered and closed his eyes with a grimace.
"Do you remember anything?" Hermione asked curiously. "After you gave all your memories to Harry?"
"Of course, I do," he rasped. "I didn't give him all my memories. They were filtered for the boy to understand, just in case, but then… Why are you here?"
"I couldn't leave you like that. We should have helped you right away, but Voldemort… and Harry… There was no time, and we were scared. We thought you were…"
"I know what you thought. Why are you here?" he snapped impatiently.
Hermione was actually glad to hear him snap at her. That meant he was feeling better. She gave him a faint smile that widened when she saw his scowl.
"When we won, there was chaos. And so many died… Remus and Tonks… and Fred… and Colin…" Hermione's voice faltered, suppressed tears threatening to choke her. "Later, when everyone was celebrating, Harry went to sleep and Ron stayed with his family." She wiped her face; some tears had managed to spill over. "I was restless, and a bit drunk… and I felt guilty… about you, you know. I couldn't stop thinking about you – how brave you were, and how we didn't help you."
Snape shook his head and looked pained.
"I borrowed Harry's cloak and went to the Headmaster's office. The gargoyles were drunk, you know – they would have let anyone in. And there was the Pensieve with your memories still in it. The portraits were empty; the headmasters were celebrating. And your portrait hadn't appeared. I was wondering about that, I mean, you were accepted by the castle, else you wouldn't have been allowed in the office, like Umbridge, you know?"
"Stop babbling, Miss Granger, and get to the point."
"Sorry, sir," she whispered. "I saw the memories, and then I cried a bit." She sniffed when she saw his angry look. "Be as angry as you want; it doesn't matter, sir. Then I ranted a bit, because I thought if anyone deserved help, it should have been you, and no one ever made an effort. And then I had this idea that there might be a Time-Turner in the office. There had been, in my third year. So I Summoned Time-Turners, and they came."
"Just like that?"
"Well, it worked once before with the Horcrux books, didn't it?"
"Horcrux? Merlin help us… that's how? Merlin, Potter! He… You have no idea. I must…" He tried to get up again, but Hermione restrained him. "It's over. Harry knows, and the Horcrux in him was destroyed. All of them have been destroyed, Voldemort is dead. Gone, and won't come back. The last one… It was Neville, you know; he killed Nagini with Gryffindor's sword. Nagini was the last Horcrux."
Snape closed his eyes again and leaned back. "Longbottom, of all people, killed the snake? Will the humiliation never end?"
"You're free, sir, free from both masters. Doesn't that count?" She smiled at his surprised look. "You can live your own life now, accountable to no one. I refuse to believe that you don't have any other interests besides Lily Potter."
Snape stared at her thoughtfully. "Not bad, Miss Granger. Finally, an independent thought…"
Hermione smiled. "Whatever. I was thinking about your injuries, and what I would need to help you. I figured if I travelled back to the moment in time when we'd just left you, it might not be too late. So, I looked in the hospital wing for blood replenishing potion. There wasn't all that much there because of the many injured, but I took what I could find. Then, I went to Professor Slughorn's office and Summoned a bezoar. I was worried about the venom, though, and not certain if you had taken anti-venom…"
"I had, but proceed. A bite in the neck will kill you faster than the anti-venom can kick in."
"That's what I thought. I wondered if I could Summon Fawkes, but that didn't work. And then I remembered how Professor Slughorn had always collected precious and expensive potions ingredients, so I went to his private quarters, broke his protective charms and Summoned phoenix tears. I had guessed right; a phial came. And here I am. At the moment, Harry will be pretending to be dead. He was connected to Voldemort, you know. They were each other's Horcruxes, or something like that. I don't really understand it…"
"Spare me," Snape whispered. "This is an amazing tale." He took her hand. "I have to thank you, I think."
"There's no need. We can't ever thank you enough for everything you did – for Harry, for all of us. You kept us safe and because of you, we won." She squeezed his hand, her eyes shining. "In about an hour, when everything is decided, you can go wherever you want, sir. Just not now, that would mess up time. Badly."
Snape just stared at her quietly. Hermione remembered his kiss while she stared back, mesmerized.
"I have some strengthening potions. You should take them, sir," she whispered. He nodded and swallowed everything she fed him. Then they sat quietly, their hands still clasped, listening to the sounds from the battle.
After some time, a triumphant roar, shouts and singing told them that the victory was theirs, that the wizarding world could go through another period of imaginary safety again.
"That's it," Hermione said. "Now you can go wherever you want. You're free. Will you come to the Great Hall and celebrate with us?"
"No bloody way," Snape croaked, his voice still weak. "I could never live up to… Merlin, everyone knows? That silly boy…"
"He meant well, sir," Hermione said with a huff. "He wanted everyone to know what a hero you are. And Voldemort knew, in the last minutes of his miserable life, that you'd fooled him all this time." She smiled wickedly.
"He did?" Snape seemed relieved. His lips twitched. "That's… something."
Hermione took two more phials out of her bag. "I have something for you." She handed him a small phial with a shimmering silvery substance in it. "These are your memories."
He took the phial and stared at her with an odd expression.
"And this..." She gave him the second phial. "...is Felix Felicis. I found it in Professor Slughorn's office, too. It's full; I only took a small sip before I came here. There should be many more lucky moments for you in it."
He took it. "You surprise me, Miss Granger."
Hermione smiled. "So what will you do now?"
"I shall go to my house, get what I need, and disappear somewhere. Perhaps travel the world. Enjoy my life. None of your business." He smirked at her.
"Very good," she said and used his weakened state to modify his memories as she had modified those of her parents. She told him to forget that it was she who had saved him – that she was there at all. He would remember everything else. Stepping carefully back while he was still unconscious from her spell, she hid under Harry's invisibility cloak.
Snape woke up, blinked a few times, looked around confusedly, touched his lips with his fingers and Disapparated.
Hermione went back to the corridor where she had used the Time-Turner and waited until her younger self arrived. When she saw herself pull off the invisibility cloak and disappear into the past, she slowly walked back to Hogwarts. Only now, their triumph over Voldemort had become a true victory for her.