Rating and notes: R18 (with many canon twists).
Summary: Hermione makes a choice. (sequel to A Single Night)
Disclaimer: I'm just playing with other people's toys. May I be forgiven in my next incarnation! Flamers and thieves will be adopted by my blood relatives (if you don't believe it's a threat... too bad for you!).
Editor: Mikee. The remaining mistakes are all mine, and I apologize for those.
Hermione Granger managed to convince Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley to go get some sleep. She told them that the war might be over, but the Wizarding community was in complete chaos, and it'd take them all a lot of time to manage a semblance of order and normalcy.
The young men knew that she was right, and they announced that they'd go to their old dorm.
Hermione pretended that she'd do the same. Instead, she had different plans.
For over a year, Hermione had done everything in order to make sure that she could spend the rest of her life with the man she loved, and that man had been cruelly murdered right in front of her tonight.
They'd had one short night together. That was all.
She'd hoped to have years with him, but he'd bled to death, assassinated by a demented Dark Lord.
To protect the man she loved, she'd kept their attraction secret, even from her best friends.
When Severus Snape was killed, she felt as if she'd died with him.
Hermione looked at her reflection in a glass-pane, and she gasped. She looked like a zombie.
She knew, as if she were a seer, that there was no one else in the world for her, and now that he was dead, she didn't see the point of remaining in this world.
Her parents were living happily on the other side of the world, and thanks to her Memory-charm, they'd never remember that they'd had a daughter. If they were to read about her death, they wouldn't even acknowledge their loss, and she thought that it was for the best. There was no point in telling them that their only daughter was another victim of Voldemort; besides, she wasn't sure that they'd have understood her love for a Slytherin wizard, who was old enough to be her father – that wasn't a good choice, by Muggle standards.
Hermione walked to the desk, and saw a letter opener that looked quite like a dagger. She took it and let the blade caress her wrist; it'd be so easy to cut her veins. She was good in anatomy, and she knew what she had to do to be efficient.
Then, she realized that someone would have to clean up her blood, and she thought it'd be unfair.
"Poison," she thought.
She would go down to the dungeons, and she'd brew some poison. It'd be clean, and it'd be linked to Severus.
A potion was the best choice, since she was still breathing, and he was not.
She briefly contemplated the idea of writing a letter, but that felt… useless.
She didn't give a fig about what people would say when she was gone. All she wanted was to be closer to him; if she hurried, she'd catch up with his soul, and they'd be together again.
The voice almost made her jump out of her skin.
She turned towards the portrait of the late Albus Dumbledore.
'You look terrible, Miss Granger,' Dumbledore said.
The old wizard in the frame looked so concerned that Hermione's heart broke. Her silent tears truly frightened Dumbledore.
'Miss Granger… The war is over now. You can rest and heal,' he said.
She sobbed, and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she said, 'He's dead.'
Dumbledore blinked once. 'Who?' he asked gently.
Hermione sobbed again and attempted to dry her tears. Her feelings were overwhelming her more and more as she said, 'Severus.'
The Dumbledore in the frame had been visiting other paintings during the last battle, and he'd had a hard time keeping track of the victims of Riddle and his minions. He gasped.
'I'm sorry that you've lost your former Potions master,' he said.
Hermione snorted. 'Tell the others…' she began to say.
She reflected that no one would understand. She waved her hand in dismissal, dried her tears and murmured, 'Goodbye.'
'Miss Granger?' Dumbledore said.
She walked towards the door, ignoring the portrait. She had such a look on her face that Dumbledore called, 'Hermione!'
She didn't answer, and that truly worried the magical painting of the late headmaster. He decided to go look for Minerva McGonagall, in the hope that his faithful old friend would be able to help the young, distraught witch.
Dumbledore believed that Hermione was reacting to Snape's death so strongly because she'd been on the front line, helping Harry face the ultimate evil for years now, and that the loss of a mentor was just a nasty blow. He couldn't begin to imagine that this was the last straw that just broke Hermione's heart and soul.
After her single night with her lover, Hermione had never even hinted that anything had happened between her and Severus Snape. All she knew was that, in the morning, he hadn't cast a Memory-charm on her because she'd managed to convince him that they could hide their feelings. The only thing that had kept her going throughout the darkest moments of the war was the prospect of going back to her lover.
Severus had kept their secret well, too. No one would have believed that he'd decided to turn the page, heal, and move on; most believed that he was cold-hearted, and those who'd known him when he was reading at Hogwarts were convinced that he was still in love with the late Lily Evans. No one had ever understood Severus Snape; not when he was attached to Lily, not when he fell for Hermione.
Severus had fought to protect Harry because the young man was Lily's son and her most precious legacy to her world, but by the end of the war, protecting Harry meant making sure that Hermione was safe, not that the young woman needed much protection.
In fact, Severus was convinced, which deeply surprised him, that if Lord Voldemort had had to face Hermione when she joined the Wizarding community, the Dark Lord wouldn't have been able to keep on existing. In spite of the Horcruxes that protected Tom Riddle, there had been one opening against him when he went after the Philosopher's stone, and Severus was convinced that the little witch, who'd deciphered his riddle then, would have found a way to poison the demented warlock.
Severus had begun to hope that he might see the end of the war and escape to some quiet spot. He'd begun to hope that Hermione would come back to him.
He'd vowed to himself that, if she did come back to him, he would propose to her. If they both survived, if they hadn't changed their minds, then it would be illogical to waste time. Just as Hermione knew that there was no other man, Muggle or wizard, who would accept her fully, Severus knew that there was no other woman who'd want him.
As he lay dying, Severus had wanted to ask Harry to look after Hermione, but the energy he'd used to give Harry the memories that the young wizard needed in order to understand a few key moments of the past had depleted him of all strength. Severus died without being able to voice his fears for Hermione; he'd just hoped that Harry was honourable and caring and would protect and take care of the young witch, who was now all alone.
Severus hadn't been able to look at Hermione, and that saddened him.
Severus's soul was hanging around his body, waiting for… something. He didn't know what, but he felt it was important.
Hermione went down slowly. It reminded her too much of the night she'd collided with Severus and ended up in his arms.
She walked into the Potions class. It no longer looked the way it had the last time she'd had a lesson there.
When she reached the door to Severus's private lab, she felt that there were very strong wards on the entire room. Even months after Severus had fled from Hogwarts, the spell was still working.
When she placed her hand on the door handle, she heard the door magically unlock itself.
She fought her tears as she smiled and said, 'Severus.'
She cast a spell to relock the door, and she cried again when Severus's magic gave her full control of the room.
She looked around. She reflected that she might not have to brew a poison; her Severus might have kept something among his phials.
She took a deep breath and tried to figure out where he'd have hidden a lethal potion. She found jars, ingredients and bits of parchments with which he'd been working when he left, and it broke her heart to think that his body was lying in a dusty old shack and that she was the only one who cared.
As she'd deciphered his mysteries throughout the years, she tried to think like him.
She tried to remember everything she knew about him, and then… she remembered his opening speech the year she'd arrived at Hogwarts. She wondered why he hadn't taken steps to protect himself… or had he?
Suddenly, she was panicking, which she knew was counter-productive.
'Where would you hide something important, Severus?' she inquired aloud.
When she was stressed, she tended to do that.
Right then, there was a chime, and the Invisibility spell on a tiny, glowing phial stopped shielding it from her eyes.
She'd been observing him, but he'd been doing the same with her. She felt as if her heart were being stabbed, literally; she snorted at the idea of having a heart attack, because that would be too ironic.
Her poor heart almost stopped when she read the label on the glass container. "Drink me", it said, and she seriously doubted that his father had been the kind to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to him; Severus must have read the Muggle book for her.
Trusting him entirely, she drank the contents of the phial.
She felt as if she were falling. She was being taken into a recorded memory left for her.
The image of Severus in that memory was in a place that she didn't know, and he was using a mirror to record his goodbye.
He smiled sadly and said, "My dearest Hermione, if you're seeing this, it means that I've been killed, and that you still care about me. If you're seeing this long after my death there's nothing that can be done now, and I can't tell you how sorry I am to leave you alone in this world."
Hermione saw and felt that he was sincere. She wanted to cry, but she was unable to in her present state.
He went on, "However, if I've been recently killed, there's a potion I hid in an empty sugar bowl in the kitchen. I ordered the house-elves to keep it safe, and you know how they are. If you can make me swallow a few drops of it within six hours of my death, that potion should take care of the spells that killed me."
He paused, cleared his throat and went on, "Even if it doesn't work, Hermione, I want to give you all my love."
He kissed the tip of his fingers, and the instant he touched the mirror in the memory, Hermione felt the warm wave of his feelings rushing through her veins, and she was brought back to the here and now of the lab.
'I can save him!' she said as she rushed to the kitchen.
She was too distressed to realize that, when he brewed his potion, he'd thought that he'd be killed with a spell, and that the time-frame was almost up.
[Next part as soon as possible]