Obscuram per Obscurios

Summary: It was in the midst of the final battle, separated from her friends and scouting for Death Eaters, that Hermione came across Snape, left to die in the Shrieking Shack. Enraged and grief-stricken, she took on hell itself to save him. So what now? What could be scarier than Voldemort? For Hermone, loving the dark hero. Rated for the M action that's yet to come- no pun intended.

A/N: The title is Latin for 'The obscure by means of the more obscure.' It fit the story and way it came about, so it seemed perfect. What's possibly the longest 'songfic' ever started out listening to 'If you're Gone' by Matchbox 20. For some reason my favorite HP 'verse pairing popped into my head and, randomly pondering alternate meanings to the lyrics, I not only came up with an idea for another story, but a possible solution to the problem on Snape's death in the last book. So I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Skohl!

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, their universe, or Matchbox 20, much to my disappointment.

Chapter One

I think I've already lost you

I think you're already gone

I think I'm finally scared now

You think I'm weak- I think you're wrong

It was fitting that the day was overcast, smog thick in the air and a light drizzle upon their heads. It would've just felt wrong if it had been a clear sunny day with so many dead or gravely wounded. Not that the air would've stayed clear for long with all the hexes zinging about. Hermione shivered in the chilly air. Like the rest of them, she lost all sense of time and place long ago.

Feeling like the world was moving around her in slow motion, she trudged across the clearing with wand clutched tightly in hand and an eye peeled for danger. Or for her friends, who she'd lost along the way. It was amazing how fast one could get to that place in their head [that numb state] where the sights, sounds, even smells of death stopped registering. Curse or be cursed became the mantra in your head when you first woke up in the morning. The motto when the toll of killing got too rough.

Once it was barely enough to keep one together, to save their sanity in the moment after muttering the unforgivable, when the body hit the ground cold and reality sunk in. Because even after facing loss a dozen times over, nothing could prepare you for that. But now it was second nature. Bleakly she thought back on a quote she'd once read: 'Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.' And it was true…

Before it had seemed inspirational, motivation for change… to 'soldier on' passed the trauma of their everyday lives as Harry had to do, remember death was part of life and instead strive to never suffer that greatest loss, the loss of self… These days, like much she'd idealistically soaked in or took to heart over the years, it was just cold fact- depressing because she now knew exactly what they meant.

Hearing a sharp noise behind her, she spun around in a blink, wand ever ready and glowing with magic, body tense- only to realize it'd just been a branch from a skeletal tree. With a nervous laugh, she tried forcing herself to relax enough to continue scouting. The Death Eater ranks were certainly thinning, as theirs were, but enough remained to serve their master and strike fear into the hearts of 'Dumbledore's Army.'

So many young souls, so many unprepared for the horrors they faced, especially once the Dark Lord released his horde of wicked beasties such as Fenir's werewolves… she trembled as a chink fell from her armor, leaning against a nearby [scorched] oak for support as her free hand fisted in the tangled mass of curls atop her head. Seamus and Dean, poor silly Lavender and Cho… then Severus disappearance mid-mission that might be more…

She let out a ragged breath and allowed a tremulous smile to touch her lips. He'd probably zap her on the spot if he knew how freely she used his given name in her head. If he was able. The smile fell as she remembered Harry's dream [she refused to say vision on this one] of the man's death. He got so much slack from those who didn't truly know, much less understand, him… that had turned to hate and murderous intent after Dumbledore's death. Angry and vengeful with no outlet for the violence tearing them up inside, they couldn't understand it was a sacrifice as well as a mercy.

But how could they have known of the bond the two shared, the Headmaster's slow and painful impending death via poison and his plea to Snape? They certainly hadn't appreciated the assertion he'd saved another life with that act as well- because that life was Malfoy. Harry, who'd come to a quiet [grudging] respect and understanding for Snape beforehand, hadn't even wanted to see the facts after he'd unwittingly blurted them out himself. Like about the poison, and the obvious bond, and that Dumbledore had seemed to know what was going to happen and had put him in a full body bind before confronting Draco then Severus…

Stubborn idiots. But maybe I'd just been clearer to her because while she knew emotion could blindside a person, she'd always been more fact-oriented and 'coldly logical.' Would the spy have continued withdrawing/hiding as he had and taken that suicide mission if everyone hadn't been so… against him? Tears pricked Hermione's eyelids. But maybe it was all the smoke in the air. He gave everything for students he seemed to care nothing for, and a cause he only half-believed in who couldn't know of his danger and heroism, and if he died alone and mistreated…

That brilliant, snarky, wonderful man… She took a deep breath. If it was the last thing she did, she'd make sure he got the acknowledgment he deserved. She'd gladly take whatever she had coming for the sins she's committed if she got one last chance to tell him what he meant to her, rather, to all of them. Biting her lip as a sad, desperate feeling welled in her heart, she scrubbed one hand over her pale, ashy face. She needed to find him. Alive, hopefully. She'd made a promise to herself. And if there was still time...

As that thought solidified in her mind, a shrill noise pierced the air, and the still of the ominous looking battlefield erupted into activity. The Shrieking Shack. Of course. She ran with all the strength she had in her legs. Harry and Ron were already there when she got there, surprisingly enough. She didn't stop to wonder how. "Voldemort?" she panted with anticipation and trepidation as she reached the decimated Whomping Willow. "Already left," the Boy-Who-Lived supplied grimly with a tick in his jaw. "We arrived too late."

"Snape?" she ventured a tick later, heart stilling as if afraid to hope. The two boys exchanged a long look that made the bottom drop out of her stomach. "Mione'…" Ron began hesitantly, almost hopelessly, not meeting her eyes. Whatever breath she'd gathered whooshed right back out of her. "He was gone when I got here." A slow, painful thump in her chest. Though before the light of optimism could touch her eyes, Harry took off where his friend failed, both somehow sensing the importance and not understanding but not wanting to hurt her with either the truth or the crushed hope later on.

"He's… been… struck down, Hermione. Before I even arrived," the brunette added quickly, half-afraid of her reaction, "But he was able to impart some information… and memories to clear him…before…" He didn't need to go on. He could tell by the dawning awareness on his long-time friend's face she was beginning to get it. Or he so he thought. "And you just left him there?" she whispered harshly, a chill running down her spine… and subsequently theirs at her expression. "He was bitten! By Nagini! He had no chance!" Rob blurted defensively, startled.

"You too!" she hissed, turning on him. "He was a Slytherin. The youngest Potions Master in generations. It didn't occur to you he'd been building immunity for years against such trivial things, especially knowing the perils of his work and Voldemort's instability? Whoever Nagini's master, she was nevertheless a snake! Or didn't you think Snape had the intelligence to consider this possibility?" Her tone was deathly quiet, low and measured. Dangerous. The pair winced.

"No, but-well- Hermione, I was there! There was nothing we could do. The problem was obvious, but still I tested for outside spells," Harry broached carefully. "Spells," she spat out, "What great lengths you went through. I see your debt has been far repaid." She gave them a sneer that would've made Severus proud. "Did you even think to test for other causes… say potions?" "I couldn't just- there's no time to- I have to find Voldemort! I must end this! We can't delay- who knows what more havoc could be wrought if we do!" The redhead agreed silently. "We need you, Mione', come with us. There's nothing more we can do here."

She took a step back slowly, then another, shaking her head and looking at them aghast, like she's never saw them before and they just jumped up and slapped her. "No! No. I won't just abandon him! We'd all be dead several times over if it weren't for him! He deserves more than this." Her expression became one of disgust as they pleaded their case, taking another step back, tinged with fury as Ron let something slip about 'seeing reason'. "You two leave if you must, I see you've done your part- as usual. Now I need to do what I must. I need to see for myself what you've deemed obvious."

Silently she dared them to tell her it was beyond her capabilities so she could let loose again. Wisely, for once, they kept their mouths shut. Whether out of fear, shame, or finally realizing nothing was beyond her capabilities. With fierce determination that radiated from her rigid stance, she gave them one last look, pressing the knot and running inside before she could see them turn their backs to her and her beliefs. She'd given up begging them for understanding. That Hermione was gone.

Yet she was shaking as she climbed the stairs. But when she stepped into the room to see the dreadful disrepair [uncommon since it'd been fixed up as a hide-out before the war], and an all too familiar black-clad form collapsed to the floor in a disjointed position, she nearly broke down on the spot. No. it was a chant and a prayer as she flew to his side on wobbly legs, even her heart and lungs refusing to work properly. Despite her terror of what she'd see, her sense of honor and… who was she kidding?

Her frantic desires wouldn't let her hold back. Going straight through the debris like it didn't exist, her knees gave out only when she'd reached him. Staring helplessly for a stretch, trying to steel herself, she grasped one icy hand. 'So still. So cold.' She thought she felt a tremor run into her hand from his, heard a low keening, and wondered it was just her imagination. But when turned his head her way with two fingers, barely noting the pallor before the murmured "Experiorus", a scream split the skies. Then everything went black and she was somewhere else…

A/N: That's it, what do you think?Reviews would be lovely. It's sad writing if nobody tell you what they think of it, lol. This would probably be my longest piece of fiction ever, filling up one and a half notebooks and twenty pages on Microsoft Word. Completed, but still being pieced off into chapters and final edits being made. Experiorus, from my notes, basically means 'status' or 'check'- so I figure would make a good diagnostic kind of spell for Hermione to use checking on Severus.