When We Last Left Our Heroine:
"Are you okay love?" he asked sincerely. I nodded in compliance and leaned against his body, resting my head in the crook of his neck. He held me there for some time before I finally spoke.
"And Severus, I will marry you."
Chapter 10: Transformation
We walked back to the Great Hall in amicable silence. I couldn't help myself from looking down at my left hand periodically, just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming. Severus had proposed! It was almost impossible to believe that the great bat of the dungeons and I were engaged; that just a few short months ago, we despised each other (or at least I despised him).
As we walked into the hall, we found that Dumbledore and McGonagall were dancing together again. I was having such a lovely evening, despite Malfoy's attempts to ruin it. The only thing that I truly missed was the presence of my friends. I so desperately wished that I could share this moment with Ron and Harry, even though they may not believe it or accept it at first, but they would eventually come to terms with it.
Severus seemed to notice a change in my demeanour and asked what was wrong. He comforted me and told me not to worry, that I would see them soon. I also think that he was a little worried of what they would do to him if they found out just now. I needed a chance to talk to them first and he was just now thinking about that. But all this was forgotten as quickly as it came because Severus swept me to the dance floor once more.
Oh how I relished my dancing partner and how gracefully he twirled me around. I smiled up at him and wished that this night would never end. I was incandescently happy.
Suddenly, Hagrid came bursting through the Great Hall doors covered in a mix of dirt and blood. Everyone gasped and the music came to a screeching halt. My heart stopped for a fraction of a second, trying to comprehend the situation. I took one step towards my friend to help him as he fell to his knees yelling "He's coming….he's coming!" But a strong hand on my arm stopped me before I could run to Hagrid. I looked up at Severus confused and hurt that he wouldn't let me help my friend.
"Everyone will know it's you if you go to him. You are not supposed to be here, remember? Dumbledore will take care of him," Severus whispered. I nodded in acceptance and stayed where I was.
Dumbledore called Severus and Minerva over and I followed impatiently. I wanted to know what was going on and what Hagrid meant. I soon found out.
I stopped in my tracks as I looked out the windows to the grounds surrounding the castle in horror. There were thousands of people all dressed in black robes and masks and at the head of this army was one that was unmistakable. Voldemort.
Voldemort was at our door and we were unprepared with hundreds of innocent students out and about the school. It was going to be a mass slaughtering.
"…just returning from Hogsmeade and he was there. He tortured me and sent me to tell you," Hagrid said quickly. He had lost a lot of blood. Madam Pomfrey was there trying her best to mend his wounds, but they re-opened with every breath Hagrid took, like they were cursed to remain that way.
Severus remained impassive the entire time. Children screamed in panic. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. Minerva was trying to gather the younger years to lead them to safety. Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey were trying to save Hagrid as he lay dying on the cold stone floor. The musicians ran with their instruments out of the hall; some of the Slytherins (Malfoy leading) were throwing curses at other students and professors. I stood in shock, unable to move or think. Then, out of no where, I spotted Harry and Ron at two opposite sides of the hall, ripping off their masks, defending the closest students.
Severus grabbed my upper arms and shook me, trying to reel me back to reality. I finally focused enough to understand the words his lips were forming: "Run! Barricade yourself in my rooms. Stay safe and I'll come get you when it's over. Hermione! Can you hear me?"
"I don't have my wand!" I replied, ignoring his demands.
"You are absolutely not fighting!"
"Yes I am! These are my friends and I need to be close by to make sure you are okay! I'm not going anywhere, and I am NOT hiding. I told you that I would be fighting when I first went into hiding with you and this is it!" I yelled back.
"No! I'm not arguing any more! Go to my rooms. NOW!" he roared. I didn't cower away from him, but instead I moved closer to him, barely a finger's breadth away from his face.
"No," I replied defiantly. His faced changed from anger to worry then and he sighed.
"Hermione, I cannot lose you. I told you earlier that I almost died the first time I lost my love. I will surely die if I lose you too."
I gently caressed his face and kissed him soundly. "I know," I whispered back, "It would kill me to lose you as well. This is why I need to stay and fight, to protect those I love." I could see him start to understand and he pulled something out of his sleeve.
"I brought this, just in case." He handed me my wand. I smiled.
"Let's do this…together," I said and whirled around, joining the fight for peace.
Severus was never more than ten metres away from me at all times. Where I went, he followed, always vigilant. Together we gathered all the students who were fighting for Voldemort and sent them to the dungeons to wait out the battle.
Dumbledore had thought way ahead of everyone when he invited the Order to the ball. Everyone that was needed to fight this battle was here already, but we were severely outnumbered.
I waited for orders on where I was to defend when we heard screaming again, but this time, it was from Voldemort's army. We all rushed to the windows to watch as hundreds of griffins flew over and picked up several people and dropped them from impossible heights. Magic or no, no one could survive those falls. Witherwings trotted into the Great Hall and nudged Harry. We were just as ecstatic as we were surprised at this show of great loyalty.
The battle commenced in a whirlwind of curses and counter-curses, friends and foes alike dying before me. I tried not to look at the faces. I didn't want my emotions to cloud my fighting. I would mourn later. Right now, lives depended on me staying alive. I saw Harry rush out onto the grounds and followed him, with Severus on my heels. I saw several house elves from the kitchens fighting the Death Eaters as well. The loyalty to Harry and Hogwarts was unbelievable!
When I caught up to Harry, he and Voldemort were caught up in a duel. Voldemort saw Severus approach and screamed, "TRAITOR! I'll deal with you, Potter, later!" and threw a knock out spell at Harry. I ran to his side as his limp body crashed to the ground. Nothing I tried reversed the spell. I couldn't help him. I didn't know what to do. I was panicking now. Pull yourself together Hermione! I told myself. I glanced up to see Severus fighting Voldemort and I could see the evil gleam in the Dark Lord's eyes and I knew that Severus was going to die. In a fit of desperation, I yelled at Voldemort.
"Tom! I want to surrender. I see how powerful you are and I want to join you." I almost couldn't believe the words as they spilled over my lips.
Both Severus and Voldemort stopped and stared at me. Severus was hurt and shocked, but Voldemort looked at me with lust and superiority.
"You think I want a mudblood in my elite world?" he grinned cruelly, "I wouldn't even use you as a whore!" He laughed maniacally and raised his wand.
"Cruciatus!" as he finished the spell, Severus jumped in front of me and took the torture for me. He writhed in pain and I screamed in terror as I crawled across the muddy ground to reach him. Voldemort threw another curse at Severus and slashed began to appear all over his body. I tried heal charms, but nothing would close the wounds that kept materialising. It was much like the curse that Harry used on Malfoy our sixth year and it was at that point that I wondered if Severus had given Voldemort all of the spells he had created as a young child. "Severus! What do I do?" I screamed at him. I couldn't save him. He was bleeding too badly. "Severus!"
He pulled me close and whispered, "I love you," as he closed his eyes and his body went limp.
"NO!" I screamed and jumped to my feet. I ran straight for him, forgetting that I had a wand and could kill him with one spell. I caught him off guard with the physical contact and he had no time to draw hi wand for a curse. As my hands wrapped around his throat, I could feel his body disintegrate beneath my hands and then I remember what Harry did his first year: because of his mother's love, Voldemort was unable to touch him because of the spell. Severus had done the same thing to protect me and now my touch was burning him alive. I took his face between my hands and shouted, "LOOK AT ME! THIS IS WHAT LOVE FEELS LIKE! YOU ARE SO FAR FROM LOVE THAT IT BURNS YOU!" I held his face until it was completely disintegrated. I needed to be sure that he was never coming back.
He had killed Severus. My love. I fell backwards and began to bawl. The person who I would have spent the rest of my life with was no longer alive. I crawled back to Severus's body and held him.
Harry came around and tried to ask me what had happened but I was in such a state, all that came out was blubbering. At some point, Dumbledore came up behind me and put a hand on my shoulder.
Blood stained, weary, and muddy I eventually stood up and stepped into Dumbledore's embrace. "It's okay child. It…." He stopped comforting me and turned me around. I gasped and backed away. The most incredible sight greeted me: Severus's body was floating and rays of light were emitting from him at every angle. What was going on? Dumbledore answered my questioning gaze with a shrug of uncertainty.
We continued to watch in fascination and puzzlement. His body rose and rose and the light became too bright to look at him directly anymore. I blocked the blinding light with my hand and watched as Severus's lifeless body was lowered back to the ground. I stood rooted to the ground, unsure of what to do or what just happened.
I was paralyzed and couldn't tear my eyes from the scene unfolding in front of me: Severus was struggling to get up. He started ripping his blood-stained shirt off and turned to face us.
"What happened?" he asked.
I ignored his question and opted to tackle him with a soul-crushing hug. Every other voice was white noise. All I could hear was Severus whisper in my ear, "I'm fine. I'm here. I'll always be here for you. I love you…" over and over again.
Harry and Severus asked what happened and Dumbledore told them. Ron and Ginny came up at some point and several more people. I closed my eyes and fell prey to the darkness.
I woke up, back in Severus's bed at his house. A cup of freshly brewed tea was waiting on the side table. My wrist was bandaged as well as my right ankle. I winced as I tried to get off the bed. I lifted my shirt to find that my ribs were wrapped as well. I don't remember getting this hurt. I suppose that was one thing that adrenaline masked.
"You can't go…she's resting…Potter!" I heard Severus's voice on the other side of the door and I saw Harry as he burst through unheeded by Severus.
He sat on the edge of the bed and simply said, "Explain."
So I told him everything. From what I was whisked off that first day back to the engagement at the ball. Severus stood by the door the entire time, ready to throw Harry out when I should the least bit over-exertion. I was extremely tired and needed rest, but I need Harry to know; to approve. I told him that I had a dairy and he could read my adventure for himself. He agreed and left to break the news to Ron.
Severus closed the door behind Harry and quickly made his way to my side. "How are you my dear?"
"Me? How are you! How did you…I saw you die!"
"Whoa, slow down Hermione. It's all okay. I will tell you everything and more when you have recovered. For now, sleep."
Severus and I married a year after the battle to commemorate our second chance at life together: a new year, a new life. Dumbledore could never really explain what happened with Severus except that it was magic beyond anyone's comprehension.
Voldemort truly was gone this time and everyone was surprised that it wasn't Harry who killed him. I guess prophecies don't always come true or can change based on the paths we chose. Who knows?
Harry and Ron never really like Severus, nor Severus them, but they tolerated each other for my sake.
Most of the Death Eaters were sent to Azkaban, we are still searching for others, which is a tedious process.
But the most important part is that Severus and I live happily ever after.