Disclaimer: All rights are awarded to JK Rowling and her affiliates.
I'll Look For You
Hermione hunched her shoulders against the wind and the rain as she made her way up the flooding garden path to the little cottage in the English countryside. Held protectively in her arms was a black bag full of supplies and she shielded it carefully. It was coated in protective charms, of course, but she could never kick the habit of trying to keep things dry the muggle way.
She arrived on his doorstep dripping wet and irascible. He could have lowered the apparition wards, but forced her to walk instead. Her knock on the door was impatient and angry, and the wait for the door to open did not improve her mood.
'Ah, Miss Granger,' he said as he pulled the door open. 'There you are.'
'Hmph,' she replied and pushed past him into the warmth of the cottage, shedding her coat as she went. A few drying spells later and her hair was a ball of fluff the size of an independent animal, but her clothes were dry and her temper was receding over a cup of hot tea.
'Oh that's better,' she said in relief, leaning back in the wide armchair.
'Why didn't you apparate?' Severus asked her over the top of his own tea.
'I tried!' she said indignantly. 'Your wards threw me off.'
'Did they?' he said in surprise. 'I thought I had lowered them.'
'Sure,' Hermione said. 'Are you sure you didn't think it would be funny to watch me arrive sopping wet?'
'For once, Miss Granger, your assessment of my motives is wrong,' he informed her, and it was the look of concern on his face that made her realise he could be telling the truth.
'If you took them down then someone must have put them back up,' she said with growing alarm. 'Who knows you're here?'
'Whoever you have told,' he shot back. 'Nobody else knows I'm alive.'
'We hope,' Hermione muttered back but said nothing else.
'What did you bring me?' he asked into the silence.
'The usual,' she replied and pulled her bag forward onto the coffee table in front of them. 'Though I did find you some strawberries. It's hard to buy groceries for a whole other person when you're living with people who believe they're your only contacts.'
'I know,' Severus reassured her. 'And I promise I appreciate it. Without you my resources would depend entirely on what I could grow myself. Which would mean a lot of vegetables and fruit and not much else.'
'You're welcome, sir,' Hermione said, and continued to sip her tea. 'Have … have you heard from him?'
Severus nodded and sighed, running his hand over his forearm in that unconscious way he had.
'It will be soon. You will have to warn Potter.'
'He knows,' Hermione assured him.
'Yes he knows,' Severus muttered. 'But is he ready?'
Hermione bit her lip for a moment and then shrugged.
'As ready as we can be, I suppose. We've destroyed all the horcruxes except the snake, so hypothetically all that remains is to take You-Know-Who down in combat.'
'Hypothetically?' Severus prodded.
Hermione bit her lip again and began to play with a curl of her hair.
'Well … something just seems wrong about this. Something out of place. Something I'm missing. It hasn't been easy to destroy the horcruxes, but I think once we discovered what we had to do it was so straightforward. There's no catch, as it were.'
'Does there have to be one?' Severus asked, his dark eyes on her.
Hermione shook her head slowly.
'No. But still … I'm not going to relax until he's been in the ground 50 years and those who remember him are beginning to forget. Only when the fear of him and his memory are gone will he truly be gone, I think.'
'That's possibly very wise,' Severus allowed. 'But you can't think the worst. You need to stay positive, otherwise Potter is going to fall. You're his backbone, you know that.'
Hermione smiled at him in pleasant surprise.
'Professor, that's almost kind of you. Can I dare to hope you have some belief in Harry after all?'
'Of course I have faith in the boy. I wouldn't risk everything for him otherwise. I just wish it wasn't …'
'Harry,' Hermione finished for him. 'I know.'
'Not really you don't,' Severus told her and drained his tea. 'But you should be going now. You always stay too long.'
'Perhaps I have nowhere else to go,' Hermione said playfully, but caught a dark emotion flashing across his face.
'I hope some day you will,' he said quietly and motioned her in front of him. She paused as she passed him and looked up into his eyes.
'I'll still come,' she said quietly.
Hermione waited on his doorstep, her mind on the strange portents she'd seen that day. She almost hexed him as he pulled her roughly into the house, warding the door with heavy spells after she was inside.
'You shouldn't be here!' he said desperately, his eyes darting, and she noticed he was wild eyed and his clothing was in disarray. His white shirt hung so far off his frame she could see his shoulder and almost all the way down his chest.
'Professor!' she exclaimed. 'What's wrong? Tell me.'
'Potter. Today. Tonight. It will be tonight. You must warn Potter. I go to him soon. One hour. One hour and it begins. You must not be here.' She heard the wild desperation in his voice, and pushed back her own rising fear to calm him.
'Sir,' she said, and stood solidly in front of him. 'Sir, stop it. Stop, now. It's okay.' She straightened his shirt, boldly ran her hands through his hair to tame it, brushed the dirt off his shirt. He stood still to her administrations, his hands fluttering futilely at his sides. 'Now speak to me in complete sentences.'
'Harry Potter,' he said slowly and carefully, 'is in danger. The Dark Lord strikes tonight. You must warn him, you must help him prepare. I have one hour before we gather.'
'Oh,' she said softly, and unconsciously clenched her hands in his shirt. 'I see.'
'Hermione,' he said quietly, and she looked up at him. 'You have to go.'
She stared into his eyes, and slowly she shook her head. His eyes widened in surprise and anger.
'It could end for you tonight,' she said. He nodded slowly.
'It is likely,' he admitted, and she heard the restrained horror in his voice at this admission.
'Then I want to…' she said haltingly but determinedly, and her fingers fumbled clumsily with the buttons on his shirt. His hand closed over hers and stilled them.
'Hermione,' he said in a deep, commanding voice, and she looked up into his eyes. 'Don't.'
'You won't stop me,' she said daringly, and began to work at the buttons again. 'You can't stop me,' she breathed into his ear, stepping forward and standing on her toes. She abandoned the buttons for a moment and wrapped her hands around his neck and pulled his head down to hers.
She was right. He couldn't stop her. Soon she had his shirt removed, and he had her pressed up against the hallway wall. The only sound was their breathing and the sounds that come with two people caught up in a desperate act.
There were no words, only the simple, human need for something to cling to, for an outlet. There was an understanding between them that this moment existed only for the two of them, and they accepted it, and embraced it. Whatever else there was or could be between them was suspended for this simple moment of togetherness.
His hands roamed over her, feeling her soft form against his hard one. He took the time to release her breasts from her bra, and exalted in her reaction when he took her nipple between his fingers. She pushed against him and he squeezed her breasts hard, which only drove them both on.
They moved unconsciously to the sitting room, found themselves on the couch, shedding clothes like memories. Hermione was caught up in the feel of Severus's lips on hers, of his hands on her body, and the consuming feeling of his body so close to hers. She heard the sound of skin on skin, and only realised her skirt had fallen away when she felt cool air around her legs.
He was slick with sweat, his eyes dark as he loomed over her, and they bored into her as he lowered his weight down onto her. She welcomed the heat and the pressure, and held him tightly as he slid into her. She arched up as she felt him, and she relished the exhalation of air near her ear as he gasped.
He held for a moment, and she bit into the skin at his neck. He began to move, and it was like everything and nothing at once. She lost herself in the rhythm, in the knowledge she held Severus Snape inside her. She felt the need to keep him there forever, to protect him.
Severus looked down at the witch in his arms, and he somehow involuntarily gave himself over to her keeping. Her strong arms around him made him feel more needed than ever before.
He pushed himself to the limit, bringing her with him, and when he finally released, it was with the distraction of one who knows he is lost.
It was only as he lay atop her moments later, their bodies heaving together as they recovered, that he remembered who they were, and why they were there. He realised he had her only for this instant, and that he had given himself to someone who would walk away from him at the end of this battle. He opened his mouth to say something, but his words died in his throat as he felt the searing pain open up on his forearm again.
Hermione felt him stiffen and the small tremor of pain that ran through his body.
'It's time,' she said, and it wasn't a question. She felt his nod, and he held her eyes as he slid slowly from her. She stopped him with her hand as he stood up to find his clothes.
'Promise me something,' she said, and her eyes were warm pools of determination. He nodded jerkily. 'Promise you'll look for me. When – at the end. Look for me. And I'll find you.'
He stared mutely at her.
'Look for me,' she repeated, and her eyes held a command he could not ignore. They swallowed him in their depths and he found himself nodding before he could help himself. With an abrupt motion he left the room, piecing his clothing together as he went.
He left her naked on his couch, watching him. When he came back from his room she was gone, and only the warmth on the couch indicated she'd been there at all.
'I will see him!' someone demanded in a voice reaching a shriek. 'I have a right.'
'Nobody has the right to see him,' said a calm voice generic to all mediwitches and it gave him an indication where he was. 'Close family only. He is badly hurt.'
'He has no family,' said the first voice, and he wished they'd lower their tone a little. 'I am his family. I saved him. I was there. I brought him here. He is mine.'
He heard the venom in the tone, and a moment later the curtains to his bed swung savagely open and revealed who the owner of the shriek was, although when he saw her he realised he knew already.
Hermione Granger stood before him, her hair singed and bedraggled, her arm in a sling, and angry burns covering one side of her neck. Her clothing was torn and filthy, and he guessed there were other injuries that he couldn't see. He noticed a limp when she moved hastily towards him as she noticed he was awake.
'Severus,' she breathed, her eyes roaming over him, reassuring herself he was alive. 'Oh Severus. You didn't look for me.'
'I didn't?' he rasped, and coughed to clear his throat. 'I don't remember.'
'You have the memory of an elephant, Severus Snape. I bet you can tell me what my first essay was on.'
'The property of Ashwinder eggs,' he said promptly, and then cursed himself as he realised he had walked into her trap. He sighed. 'Fine. I didn't look for you. I … wasn't sure you meant it.'
Hermione looked down on him with sympathy and pity.
'Well, I don't suppose you've had too many people keep their promises to you,' she allowed with a small smile, and in the involuntarily quivering at the edges of her mouth he realised how tightly she was holding herself together.
'What … happened?' he managed before he had to cough again. He seemed unusually short of breath.
'Well, we won,' she said, and sat down at his side to press a cold cloth against his forehead. 'Harry is okay. He was actually killed and came back,' she said with a slight waver in her voice, and he wished he had told her earlier. 'But basically he's fine. Ron is with him, in fact all the Weasleys are, so I came here.'
'You… found me.' He said, and she nodded.
'I told you I'd look for you. I saw you fall just before Voldemort, and you didn't look for me.' He was beginning to realise just how much she had really meant that.
'Hermione,' he began, but had to cough again. 'What did they do to me?' he asked instead.
'Some of the residue from the curses got inside your lungs,' she said bluntly and reached for an orange potion on his bedside. 'We're repairing your lungs as we go. You've got a head wound,' she said and her hand reached out and traced a bandage over his forehead he hadn't even noticed. He noticed that her hand lingered a little longer than was necessary. 'You also have some serious damage to your legs, burns mostly, it seems a lot of us got caught with fire-based jinxes.' He noticed the pain instantly after she told him it was there and she reached for another potion.
He downed them both in short order and sighed at the relief from pain he hadn't even noticed.
'You woke up earlier than we expected so that's one less thing to worry about,' she said and then chewed her lip nervously. 'But your arm. Well … you should probably just look.'
He looked into her eyes for a moment before he carefully peeled back the dressing over his forearm and his eyes were instantly drawn to the place where the dark mark usually taunted him.
In its place was a dark mess of blackness. No pattern, no skin, just a dark black cloud.
'It's sort of gone,' Hermione babbled, suddenly uncomfortable with his silence. 'I mean, the mark is gone, and obviously the power is gone, and some of the healers think it's possible that blackness will go away too. With time.'
'Hermione,' he cut in, and smiled at her as she started. 'It's fine. I'm free. And I'm alive. And I think I owe that to you.'
He looked at her as her eyes brimmed over, and he reached out carefully to cup a hand to her face.
'Thank you,' he said, and they both knew he meant more than for his life.
'Severus,' she said and a moment later the tears had left her eyes, and she moved closer to him, burying her head in his shoulder. She found a sensitive burn spot but he said nothing, and held her to him instead. 'I thought I'd lost you. When I hadn't even had time to really find you.'
He chuckled a little and then coughed.
'I doubt you'll find it that easy to get rid of me,' he said wryly. Her head came up suddenly and she stared at him, sudden hope in her eyes. He smiled into her uncertainness, and pulled her forward so her forehead rested against his.
'I'll look for you,' he said. 'I promise.'
'Where?' she whispered.
'In the future,' he shrugged, and kissed her.
Again with the slightly sappy ending, but I like them so go jump off a cliff if you don't! :P
I think the plot might be slightly done, too, but not by me, so that makes it okay in my eyes. :P
And I did some mixing up with AU and canon, obviously, but I hope you can figure it out okay.
Thanks for reading.