6 Months Ago- May 2nd, 1998
It was finally over.
Seven years of pain and suffering, of uncertainty and torment. She didn't remember what it was like to NOT be afraid. Harry had survived and Voldemort was dead for good. They were free! Every day since she arrived on the Hogwarts Express had been leading up to this moment.
But, they weren't free. Oh yes, they were free of an insane despot's tyranny that threatened to destroy her kind and enslave the rest of the Wizarding world. But the pain: the pain was still there. A horrific ache in her chest, beating through her veins, as she leaned against Harry and tried to cry. And yet, the tears wouldn't come, even as they were bringing in the bodies of the fallen.
It made her sick to see the bodies of Lupin and Tonks lying before them, their lifeless bodies coupled together even in death. Hermione starred at their bodies and felt Harry's hand tighten on her shoulder, "I can't believe they are d…" Covering her mouth she choked on her words.
"I know…" Harry's voice sounded coarse in her ears. "Voldemort has orphaned another little boy," he said swallowing deeply.
Hermione gasped and tore her gaze away from their dead comrades to stare at Harry. She hadn't even thought about their young son. A little boy who, like Harry would only have stories and pictures to help remember his two loving parents. "Oh Gods! Teddy! Who is going to raise Teddy?" The question hung in the air, heavy like fog rolling in over them.
Harry sighed and shook his head, "I.." he stopped as they were levitating another body into the hall. It was a familiar black form, whose pale white skin was a sharp contract to the rest of him, "Professor Snape…" He whispered, turning to follow the two aurors to the end of the row, all the while holding Hermione close to him.
Hermione moved with Harry, her eyes never leaving the new body they had brought in. She couldn't help but feel sorry for the man, continuing to stare at him she asked Harry. "Is what you said true? Did he? Was he Dumbledore's man?"
Harry nodded sharply and starred at the man lying before them, "Yes he was…"
"Harry! Hermione!" A familiar voice sounded behind them, causing the duo to turn quickly. Arthur Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt were moving quickly down the isle to their side, Arthur grabbing the young couple in a tight embrace. Leaning back he smiled at them, "You both did a wonderful job, it's finally over."
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," the two said, the smile never really reaching their eyes.
Shacklebolt moved around them to view the fallen and sighed, "I'd hoped that it wasn't true…that he had made it through." His statement caused Arthur to move around the couple. At the sight before him, Arthur shook his head and sighed, "Oh, Severus."
"You knew?" Hermione asked incredulously. "You knew he wasn't a traitor?"
Shacklebolt nodded, "Not until just recently, but yes, we knew. He played his part well…it is such a shame." Moving beside Severus he knelt down to examine him, "Do you know what happened to him?"
Harry nodded slowly, looking at the two elder gentlemen, "Voldemort sent Nagini after him. She was in this protective magical barrier." Harry was confused as he watched Shacklebolt and Mr. Weasley share a shocked look, "What?"
Arthur Weasley spoke up first to answer his question, "Severus had been taking an anti-venom potion made from Nagini's own venom. After she attacked me at the Ministry, he was fearful of the magical components of her venom. He hoped that if he could protect himself against certain attacks, his likelihood of surviving this war would increase."
Shacklebolt shook his head, "He was always so careful, so meticulous in his research and calculation. I don't understand what went wrong."
Hermione stood there stock still, her unfocused eyes looking downward towards the potions masters' body, "He didn't take into account the magical bond between Voldemort and Nagini, and the power gifted to her by being his horcrux." She answered mindlessly, as if it was common knowledge.
The four shook their heads at the long row of deceased. Harry put his arm around Hermione again to offer support. "I wish I could bring them all back…like some type of reward, you know. Maybe we could use the Resurrection stone… I think it would be justified. For their sacrifice they would be given a second chance. They would all be free…they could live in a world free of Voldemort for the first time in their lives." Harry said softly, remembering his time at Kings Cross with Dumbledore after being hit by Voldemort's killing curse.
A confused look crossed Hermione's features as she looked up at Harry once more, "A second chance at life…like we have?" At Harry's nod she shook her head in agreement, "I'm going to go tell Professor Dumbledore, I'm sure he would be interested in hearing that this war is finally over."
The men nodded and headed for the rest of the Weasley clan, whom were still mourning over the loss of Fred. Watching them for a moment, she played over in her head what Harry had said. 'A second chance.' Turning slowly, she made her way up to the headmaster's office, not surprised to see the gargoyle open and waiting for her. Her mind was working on overdrive. She pushed the door open slowly, and looked around the walls, searching out the new portrait that was sure to be hung by now.
Professor Dumbledore's portrait was surprisingly empty, which meant that he was probably already aware of the victory in the Great Hall. Hermione began to move around the office, the last home of Headmaster Severus Snape. She took her time and moved slowly among the many rows of books and rare potion ingredients. It was such a shame that such a complex and brilliant man was boiled down to nothing more but a few books and bottles of colored liquid.
"I assume you are looking for Headmaster Snape's portrait?" Dumbledore said softly, re-appearing in his portrait and taking a seat in his large stuffed chair.
Hermione turned quickly at the voice that startled her, "Yes sir, I meant to inform you both that it was over. Voldemort is dead. But I guess it takes longer to get the Headmaster's Portrait up-"
"There will be no portrait for Headmaster Snape, Miss Granger," Dumbledore explained with sad eyes.
Hermione spun around once more, "What? Why? I thought every Headmaster received a portrait upon leaving his post or death?"
"Unless he deserts his post, whereas the Board of Governs believes there is no need to idolize or encourage cowardice." Dumbledore practically spit the word out; it felt dirty in his mouth and disgusted him to even say it. "I am sure that once the true story of Headmaster Snape is revealed, then he will gain his rightful place among us." Cheers of agreement sounded among the rest of the previous Headmaster portraits.
Feeling the familiar burn of unshed tears, Hermione turned away from Dumbledore, and continued to look at Headmaster Snape's priceless book collection. "Who will tell his real story?"
Dumbledore sighed, "I believe between Mr. Potter and my portrait self that we will be able to clear the good name of Severus Snape."
"What about his possessions? Does…did he have family? They should be notified." Her voice was soft, and the tell-tale sign of emotional turmoil was beginning to seep into her tones.
Dumbledore's portrait sighed heavily, "No, I'm afraid he had no family. His parents died while he was at Hogwart's and he never married, nor bore any children that I am aware." Adjusting in his seat, he waved his hand gesturing at the office. "To my knowledge this is all that is left of Headmaster Snape."
Hermione looked up at the Headmaster, and the weight of the day finally broke her. Sinking down against the bookshelves she finally let the tears come, tears for Fred, for The Weasley's, Tonks and Lupin, and Severus Snape. She had tried to be so strong for everyone else, that the weight of her pain finally crushed her. Laying down she hugged herself tightly, it felt like she couldn't cry enough.
Albus watched the grieving woman and felt her anguish, "Miss Gra…Hermione, please, take a seat. The floor is far to cold and unfeeling to offer any support or comfort." It was minutes before Hermione could compose herself enough to move to the Headmasters chair, tucking her feet beneath her she curled tightly into the arm rest. Refusing to look up Hermione keep her eyes trained on the desk sitting before her. "Hermione, I think you have done a marvelous job in your assistance of Mr. Potter, and though we have suffered great losses, out of the ashes I truly believe greatness shall arise."
Wiping her tears from her cheeks Hermione looked up at his final words, "You mean, like a second chance, sir?" She asked looking up at him, "You are the second person tonight to tell me that, sir. I can't help but think that you are correct."
Dumbledore smiled at the young witch, "Now Miss Granger, I believe it is time for you to join your fellow comrades and celebrate your victory, and celebrate those who gave their lives for that victory." Watching Hermione nod and stand up from the chair, he too stood. "By the way Miss Granger, I couldn't help but notice your open appreciation for Headmaster Snape's book collection."
Glancing around her eyes fell on the mass collection once again, "Yes sir, I can only imagine the titles that he has amassed over the years, the information stored in these tomes I-" ducking her head she gave a soft grin that couldn't quite reach her sad eyes. "I hate to see such beautiful work be confined to a library, or worse sold off to the highest bidder, after years of collecting and I'm sure a large amount of galleons."
"I believe that had Headmaster Snape knew of his fate, he would have likely desired for his collection to be bestowed upon a worthy wizard or witch." Dumbledore smiled at the young women, "I believe you fit that category quite nicely. If you are interested, I would like to offer them to you. Before the next Headmaster arrives I can have them shrunken and boxed for you?"
Unable to believe what she was hearing she had to ask, "All of them?" Hermione looked around again, "I can have his entire collection?"
The twinkle in his eyes seem to shine brighter than ever as he nodded to her, "I believe it would be a waste to let such a collection collect dust in some library, when a promising young woman with her entire life before her could benefit from such a treasure. I'm sure Potions Mistress is something in your long list of accomplishments you wish to achieve."
Nodding Hermione smiled, "Thank you sir…Thank you," she gestured towards the door. "I should…get back down stairs."
"Miss Granger," Dumbledore called out watching as the woman turned back to him. "Well done."
Stopping at the door she starred at him for a moment then nodded to him, "A second chance, right Headmaster?"
AN: Please read and review, love or hate is always welcomed. I have lost both of my Beta's so this isn't going to be as clean as it could be. This is my attempt at getting back into writing, it has been a long time and I have been completely blocked. I am hoping that this story comes quickly to me and I can upload frequently. Looking forward to having you on this ride, I have no set length I guess it will know when it is over. Thank you in advance for sharing this journey with me.