Last Will and Testament
Hermione stood up gingerly and flexed her feet against the cold tile stone floor. She dressed, for the first time in several weeks, shedding her lightweight hospital gown for a set of black robes. She pulled the robes over her head, forcing her sore limbs to thread through the holds in the garment. She flinched slightly as the coarse fabric scraped against the newly-formed scars on her body.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before gathering her things and heading towards the door. She should stay a little longer, she knew that. But she had been in the St. Mungo's for several weeks now and what she wanted more than anything was to go home and sleep in her own bed. The beds at that hospital were terrible, she wasn't sure how the healers expected anyone to get better if they couldn't get a decent night's sleep.
She stepped out into the nurses' area and picked up the quill to sign her voluntary release forms. Her gaze rose from the parchment to meet a familiar set of green eyes.
"Harry," she gasped, pulling him in for a tight hug.
"Hermione," he whispered, pulling her close, holding to him as the nurses bustled around them, oblivious to anything except each other.
"Is it really over?" he whispered finally. "Did I really kill him?"
"Yes, Harry, you killed Voldemort."
He had done it himself, heard it verified by hundreds of people, yet he hadn't completely been able to accept it until she had confirmed it for him.
"Let's go, Hermione. Come to Grimmauld place with me. It has a ton of beds and all of them are softer than the ones here."
They turned to leave when they heard a voice behind them.
She and Harry both turned to stand face-to-face with Kingsley Shaklebot.
He nodded politely to Harry and then continued to address Hermione.
"Hermione, if you'll just come with me to the ministry, we have a few questions for you."
She felt her heart sink. All she had wanted was to go home and sleep. What more could the ministry have to ask her? While they had been in the hospital, each survivor had given a long, detailed account of their experiences in the war.
"Kingsley," Harry implored him, but the man simply help up his hand to stop Harry from speaking.
"It will just take a few minutes, Mister Potter, and it cannot wait." Kingsley said kindly but firmly
Harry looked at his friend.
"Do you want me to come with you?"
"That will not be necessary," Kingley said before Hermione had a chance to answer.
A few minutes later, they were sitting in a conference room at the ministry. She sat on one side of the table, across from Kingsley. Percy Weasley sat to his side, scribbling notes on a large notepad.
Kingsley sat across from her, looking her straight in the eye.
"What was the nature of your relationship with Severus Snape?"
She was speechless. That was not a question she had expected, not a question she could even really understand.
"Professor Snape?" she asked in confusion, "he was my teacher at Hogwarts."
"Besides that, in what other capacity did you know him?"
She hesitated, unsure of what the wizard meant.
"He was a member of the Order of the Phoenix…a spy."
Kingley studied her in silence for a few moments, as if trying to ascertain if she was hiding something. Finally he decided to get right to the point.
"Did you have a sexual relationship with Severus Snape?"
Her mouth dropped open. It took her a second to recover her ability to speak.
"I think you heard me, Hermione, but I will repeat the question. Did you have a sexual relationship with Severus Snape?"
"No! How would you even…Why would you even….What would make you think that…."
She took a deep breath.
"He was my teacher. He was nearly twice my age. He hated me. I wasn't even at Hogwarts this year. Do I need to keep listing reasons why your question is so ridiculous?"
Kingley reached into the folder he held and pulled out a piece of parchment. From the insignia at the top she could tell it was a copy of her transcripts from Hogwarts.
"You did very well in his classes," he remarked suspiciously.
"I did very well in all my classes," she snapped at him. "I worked hard for every point I got, especially in his class. How dare you suggest my grades are a product of anything other than that."
"I know this must be hard to talk about, Hermione," he said in a warm but condescending tone, trying a different approach. "He was in a position of power and took advantage of you. It must have been hard to say no to a wizard of his power, of his authority."
She stood, indignantly.
"I don't know what this is, I don't know what you're getting at, but this isn't worth my time. If someone made some ridiculous accusation…If someone was trying to get some revenge, to stir up some rumors... I could see this being the type of thing that would interest Rita Skeeter, But certainly the Ministry has better things to do with its time than investigate outrageous claims of a dead professor having an affair with a former student."
Shaklebot pulled out another document from the folder he held, this time it was a photograph. He slid it across the table towards Hermione. She stared at it, a shiver running down her spine. It didn't move. She had never thought about it before, but a muggle photograph and a magical photograph looked exactly the same when they were of a dead body. And there it was, written in blood, his own blood, written on the splintered wooden floor of the shrieking shack. It had been scrawled in a hurry as he was counting down the seconds until his death, but the handwriting was unmistakable.
To Hermione Granger, I leave everything.
She sat back down.
"Why would he do that?" she whispered.
"That's what we're trying to find out."
The utter look of horror and bewilderment on her face was enough to convince the auror that she was telling the truth. He let the vial of veritaserum slip quietly back into his pocket.
She stared silently at the photograph. The corpse lay still in the picture, the only movement discernable was the faint reflection of the flash of the camera in the blood, looping over and over again. She was hit by the horror of the situation. He had not been dead when she and Harry left him in the shrieking shack. Why had they assumed? Why had they not checked for a pulse?"
"I don't want it."
He studied her for a moment. "Miss Granger, this is a will written in blood, it carries magical power with it. You have no choice. He left you everything."
Percy walked to a small table by the wall and picked up a box from it, carrying it over and setting it down on the table in front of her. It contained a wand and a few other odds and ends.
"What is this?"
"These were his personal effects… found on him when he died. They're yours."
She fastened the lid on the box.
"His Gringotts key is in the box. His wards should be adapted to recognize you now. Hogwarts needs his chambers cleared out by the end of the summer. I take it you don't want this matter to become public?"
A mumbled reply was the best she could do.
She looked at the photograph again. This had not been planned, had not been premeditated, this had been a dying man's last desperate act.
She made it back to Grimmauld Place in a daze. It was a miracle she didn't splinch herself. She opened the door to find a mass of people, celebrating the return on their heroes. She made her way through the crowd, barley aware of the people around her. Finally a familiar voice broke out over the din.
She looked to her side to see Harry emerge from the crowd.
"Mione, I was worried about you. You've been at the Ministry for a while."
She looked at him and he could tell that something was wrong.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her into the large pantry, shutting the door behind them.
"What happened? Where were you?"
"I was at the ministry being interrogated about my illicit affair with the late Severus Snape."
She handed him the photograph.
He studied it for a few moments and then looked up at her cautiously.
"Hermione, did you.."
"Of course not. Merlin, Harry, give me some credit."
"Sorry," he muttered. "So what did you do?"
"I accepted it. I had to, it was written in blood."
"He was a Slytherin." Harry stated after a long silence.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that he was a Slytherin and as much I don't want to sound horribly cliché, he wouldn't have left you anything unless there was something in it for himself."
"He's dead, how could there be anything in it for him?"
"I don't know, but there is."
"Revenge? We left him, Harry. He was still alive when we left him. Maybe he wanted me to feel guilty."
"If he wanted revenge, he would have gotten it on me."
"True." No matter how much he had hated her, he had obviously hated Harry more.
"And Hermione, even if we had stayed, even if we had gotten him help…there is no cure for Nagini's bite. There was nothing we could have done."
"I know," she whispered.
"He didn't like you, Hermione. That wasn't acting, that wasn't pretend, you genuinely irritated him."
"I know," she said again, this time a sad smile creeping onto her face.
"Which makes it just that much harder to understand."
Harry studied the photograph, his eyes taking in each and every detail.
"Hermione…If I died, I would leave you everything I had, because you're my best friend and I love you…but if I didn't….I would leave you my things if there was something that I wanted to be found."
She stared at him intently, not speaking but slowly digesting each word.
"We have to look at it from Snape's point of view. He didn't know much about you, only the part he saw in class. He knew you as the girl with her hand in the air, the girl of nothing but questions and answers. He saw your intelligence and your insatiable curiosity. Maybe he knew that he could spark that curiosity, that you would go through the things he left you until you found what he wanted to be found. Maybe he held some secret that he wanted brought to light."
"What were you up to Professor?" Her voice echoed in the empty chamber. A chill ran down her spine. He was dead, she knew that, but she could still feel his presence here. Maybe it had been a mistake to come down to the dungeons alone, but she was there now.
She had gone through the box of his personal effects first, his wand, various potions he had carried with him, and a strange object she did not recognize. It was small and golden, a magical object of some sort. But it did not fit the description of anything she had come across in any of her readings. She tucked it into her pocket and carried it around with her constantly, taking it out and studying it whenever she got the chance.
She spent the next month sorting out and boxing up his possessions. Hogwarts was going to have a new professor in these quarters before the school year began. It was hard to imagine. She was thankful to have something to do, something to give her purpose besides studying for her NEWTS. She poured through his books, through his laboratory equipment, but found nothing that explained why he had left these things to her.
Then one day, she made a discovery. She was emptying out his desk when she came across a black leather notebook in the back of a drawer. It was heavily warded. It took her two days and five books from his personal library to open it. Finally, the covers fell open, revealing page after page of the angular handwriting she knew so well. It seemed to be a laboratory journal of sorts, detailing his experiments.
She turned the page and there it was, a sketch of the object she had been staring at for weeks. She took it out of her pocket and set it down on the page. It was nearly identical. She looked at the smooth lines on the paper. She had no idea that the man could draw. The sketch was so…him. Each line was carefully and precisely drafted with exact dimensions and angles marked, but then parts were shaded with deep charcoal shadows, complex and mysterious, making the object on the page seem almost three-dimensional. She skimmed through the pages of calculations that accompanied the drawing. There were variables, amounts, volumes, but the end of the equation always ended up in years.
She picked up a quill and a blank piece of parchment and went back over the calculations, this time following along. She worked her way through the same complex arithmantic formulas, pulling books off his shelves to assist her when she got in over her head. Day turned into night which turned back into day but she barely noticed as she worked her way through the formulas. Finally she threw the quill down and stared at the object which sat gleaming and still on the desk.
A modified time-turner, based on entirely different principals than the original. A time-turner that manipulated time not in hours but in years.
She could do all the calculations, all the research she wanted, but it always came down to the one unknowable factor: how many times had he spun it?
A/N: Just a short little story, only one more chapter after this one. Just something that kept me writing when I got stuck on some of my longer stories.