"The Magic of Midday"
May 4, 11:58am, a random corridor
It was a letter from Severus Snape that started it all off. The letter was unusual, and it was addressed to Miss Hermione Granger, one of his former students, and recent war heroine. The letter only appeared in the pockets of his robes the moment he died.
Dear Miss Granger,
To start this in so very a corny way, by the time you read this, I will be gone. Of course, in this case, I am dead. With any luck, you may even know my true loyalties, assuming that the Dark Lord loses the war.
As you are indeed the brightest student to have ever graced the halls of Hogwarts—yes, I did use the word 'graced'—it seems fitting to wish you good luck in the life that lies ahead of you. You remind me of me in so many ways, when I was your age. You are so studious, so desirous for full knowledge, and you have such a passion for books. I have always felt it a pity that you were a student, and a Gryffindor at that.
I shall be frank with you, Hermione. Perhaps if we had met twenty years earlier, I could have even found it in my heart to love you. Not the love that I thought I had for Lily Potter, but a real love. Maybe the respect that I have always held for you was indeed love. However, if you are reading this letter, we were clearly never meant to be.
Use what you read in this letter how you like; I care not. I hope that I have not stirred any regrets in you through this; call it a last confession if you like, even though I have really, on reflection, confessed to nothing.
Prof S Snape, spy and Potions Master.
Hermione stumbled blindly through the halls of Hogwarts. Why had he never told her? Or was she reading too much into this letter? Of course she was reading too much. She had to be. She just felt so much pity for this man, this lonely man, who had never truly been loved, not even by his closest friend. Harry had never been that good at picking up on emotions—look at how long it took him to get together with Ginny—so it's little wonder than he misinterpreted the relationship between his mother and the former professor.
Tears stung her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, her lips, her chin. She wished that he had known about the night Professor Dumbledore died. How, when Harry kept telling people that it was Professor Snape who had murdered the headmaster, nobody would believe him. They didn't believe that he was capable of killing the headmaster; and he wasn't. He simply euthenased him, maintaining his cover as a spy in the one stroke.
It wasn't fair. It simply wasn't fair. He was a man, capable of feeling more tender emotions, and life had forced him never to experience them. A man who deserved love, and never received it. This was the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, romantic letter that Hermione had ever received, and the tragedy of it was that… he was dead.
He was dead.
"Hogwarts," she whispered, pressing her hands into a wall, the letter clutched in her fingers. She had placed a Stasis Charm on it first, fearing that she would cry when she saw who it was from. The note was in her bag, the bag she had been carrying around the last… almost a year, wasn't it?
She continued to weep tears for the dead hero. "Hogwarts, you're supposed to protect us, all of us. But you didn't protect him. You didn't protect him. You let life get him down, trapped him inside your walls. I know you're a building, but you're a magical building, Hogwarts. You're magical!"
Beating her hands against the unmoving flat of a bare wall, she continued to shout, just as the clock ticked over the midday, and the gong started.
"You should have looked after him! Why didn't you? Why didn't you?"
"Calm yourself," a voice said, and Hermione felt herself be wrapped in a pair of cold, hard arms. "Dear child, please don't cry. I can only do so much."
The sound resounded through the halls, but Hermione didn't notice. She was too busy listening to the strange, echoing voice.
"You know what they say, surely? Wands don't hurt people. People hurt people."
"I know," Hermione said hollowly, and the arms of Hogwarts pulled her closer to the wall.
"He needs your help," Hogwarts said, and Hermione disappeared into the stonework.
"How?" Hermione asked. "Isn't he dead?"
"He was," Hogwarts said. "But not where you're going."
The sound was decidedly muffled. What was going on? Hermione could feel something around her neck, a strange tingling. What was it?
She looked down, and fingered the pendant at the end of the chain. It was the crest of Hogwarts. She looked around in confusion, and then felt words coming to her.
"Speak them, dear child, and do not be afraid," Hogwarts whispered, turning Hermione around and then letting her go, so that she was standing alone in the darkness, facing the way she had entered. Hermione spoke slowly, her voice strange.
As the hour nears,
Send me through the years.
Two decades will do,
To find my love so true.
Give me full free rein,
To save lives again.
To mend each Hogwarts wall,
Magic, heed my call!
Hermione stumbled out of the wall, tears streaming down her face. She fell to her knees, the necklace swaying, and she saw a hand offering itself to help her up. Hands grasped at her waist once she was standing, steadying her. She looked up and saw him.
I realise that this is just the same as the start of my one-shot, A Note of Regret, but that's because this is the infamous mid-quel. I figured that we needed the proper introduction to it. As the end of A Note of Regret will be at the end of this story, the last chapter... or possibly part of the last chapter.
The title of this fan fiction story, Hogwarts to the Rescue, was the original title for A Note of Regret.