The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

There was a harvest moon in the sky, illuminating the brilliant night. Even the stars seemed closer than usual. It was also very chilly, however, everyone in Hogsmeade was asleep, wrapped in their warm blankets for the night.

Everyone except the man who made a determined, though erratic, path to the gates of Hogwarts.

"Another drink," he mumbled, lifting the half-empty bottle of Firewhisky to his lips.

Flashes of light –

"No…"

Chunks of earth exploding...

"Fuck," he slurred.

Snake shooting at his neck! –

"Come on, you shtupid liquor!" the man yelled, upending the bottle into his esophagus. After rising from his fall, the natural consequence of swallowing seven ounces of Firewhisky at once, the man resumed his bourn to the looming castle.

A hissing from the wall sconce's flame in the library wakened a grateful Hermione Granger from her uneasy slumber. Sleep was not something Hermione enjoyed anymore. She assumed there was something about epic battles, blood and death which did that to a person.

Stretching out her creaky joints, Hermione bit her lip to keep from crying out. The Cruciatus had left her nervous system damaged, she feared, beyond repair. Now her joints felt like that of an eighty-year-old witch. And it didn't help that…she shook her head. Now was not the time to think of that. Sometimes she wondered when it would be the time, but that thought just made her crazier.

Sighing shakily, she put her head in her hands as she scooted to the edge of the armchair. Her parents had taught her their Muggle deep-breathing exercises they had learned in La Maze. Perhaps she should utilise those now.

"AGH!"

Hermione's head shot up, a twinge of pain running the entire length of her spine as she did so. Who was that? It was a man's voice. Drawing her wand from the pocket of her jeans, she slipped off her shoes quietly and trod, sock-footed, through the bookshelves, making as little noise as possible.

As she drew closer to the main entrance, she heard mumbling. She paused. Drunk mumbling. She paused again. Cursing, drunk mumbling.

"Fuckin' Albus Dumbledore…bloody Machiavelli…damn you…makin'…me…Lily...fuckin' 'Arry Potter…Bloody…"

There was no denying it any longer. Even smashed to the gills, there was no mistaking the dulcet tones of Severus Snape.

Wasn't he supposed to still be at St. Mungo's?

Lowering her wand, yet feeling her heart speed up, Hermione stepped quietly out into the open, approaching her…was he still her professor?

He was standing in front of Madam Pince's desk, shuffling papers around with the palm of one hand, and holding a bottle of Firewhisky in his other. Hermione, without drawing her wand again, tightened her grip on it. Why would Professor Snape be wearing Muggle clothes? He was supposed to still be in the hospital. Why was he utterly pissed off his head in the Hogwarts library?

She came up behind, giving a good ten feet of space between them. "P-Professor?"

It would have to be that bushy headed altruist who found him. It couldn't be Poppy or Minerva or someone who might actually do something useful or who could be reasoned with to let him finish himself off.

"Miss Granger," he said, grandly, then stumbled.

"Professor, I think perhaps we had better…"

"You think too much," he snapped. "If you would be so good as to allow me to finish my sentensh…my sentence…it's possible we shall get on rather better."

There was a pause, while he concentrated on not swaying.

"Professor?"

"Always interrupting," he snapped again. "Now if you'll excuse me, I intend to enjoy the remainder of my drunkenness alone," he snarled.

Unfortunately for the former professor of Hogwarts, there was a table situated rather inconveniently in his way, which, if the library hadn't been so dark, or perhaps if he just hadn't been so drunk, he would have noticed. The library was dark, however, and he was quite drunk and consequently fell into Hermione, who grabbed his emaciated biceps and gasped as they careened into the many chairs and tables in their way.

Severus' brain exploded.

Hermione's brain exploded.

Everything was fuzzy…he couldn't tell what was going on. Nagini had just bitten him, of that he was certain. The numbing effects of the poison would soon fade and leave him in excruciating agony, of that he was also certain. Lily…no, Harry. Lily! No…Hermione. Pain…pain…pain, pain, pain, PAIN!

Hermione was thrown back as if it were happening again. The memories…the battle…Harry dead, then alive…going back to find Snape…feeling his pulse…panicking…attempting to suck the poison from his neck….spitting it out…feeling the vial in his coat pocket…pouring it down his throat. She had called for help, then, as exhausted as if she hadn't slept her whole life, she lay down next to her most hated professor and let a few warm tears trickle down her dirty face.

Severus was suddenly completely sober.

"Damn," he muttered. "What the deuce, girl, let go of me."

"Sorry," she whispered, releasing her death grip and rubbing her temples. "What was that?"

Wandering back to where he had dropped his bottle of Firewhisky, he asked sourly, "What was what?"

Sounding irritated, Hermione rejoined, "You know bloody well what. Come to think on it, why are out of the hospital? And wearing Muggle clothes?"

"Why are you out of the hospital and wearing Muggle clothes?"

"Because I'm – I asked you first!"

He sighed heavily. He no longer had the energy to be irritated. He just wanted to go to his chambers and sleep, if he could.

"I exited the hospital without the doctor's written consent and I am wearing Muggle clothes because they were the first ones I found."

"But you have to go back, you…"

"I have to do nothing of the sort," he snapped. He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Miss Granger, I am rather tired. As it seems my plan of drinking myself into oblivion has been foiled, my next recourse shall be a Sleeping Draught. I would suggest you do the same. Good even, Miss Granger."

"But Sn – Professor…"

Sighing, he turned back. "Yes?'

"Did – didn't they tell you what happened?"

He debated lying. "Yes, they did. Good night."