The Human Cure

Chapter 14: Stay

This is the final chapter of "The Human Cure" and I am so thankful to all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, and enjoy the story. I hope this ending doesn't disappoint you, even though I'm sure some may not be too happy with me. Still, thanks for reading and being patient. I'm working on a second degree right now, so my studies have taken top priority to this hobby, but I hope to have an easier spring semester. As always, feedback is always welcomed.

As the two made Hermione's bed on a random Sunday morning, Severus watched her with utter awe as she tucked in the sheets and put the pillows in their proper place. There was a way that her hair hung off of her face when she did such things. Her fingers, he noticed, were smeared with a bit of ink. Her nails, slightly grown out, drew lines on his flesh the night before as they made love on the couch in the lab. He didn't know exactly what he was thinking before she walked out of the room when he impulsively blurted out,

"Marry me."

Hermione stopped in her tracks and looked at Severus, finding his random proposal rather funny. Blowing him a kiss, she then walked out of the room chuckling and grabbed her books before heading out for a busy day of academia.

Severus could tolerate the sun more and more as the weeks progressed, and while he was only feeding from Hermione twice a week, things were slowly moving forward. There was more color to his skin. He craved foods that he almost forgot about. Hermione experimented one time by having him try a piece of steak, remembering their conversation about the effect the vampirism had on his taste buds. As soon as she saw the smile on his face, she knew that he was experiencing a beautiful rebirth.

He still craved blood every now and again. His fangs would emerge, but he was beginning to notice that they weren't as sharp as they used to be, and it took them a little longer to come out.

Hoping to still find a cure through chemistry, Severus devoted his days researching and testing out new theories. It was a simple way to pass the time, but it also forced him to focus on anything besides the slow changes that were happening to him. He genuinely imagined a life with Hermione. There were days when he wanted nothing more than to just communicate every single shred of emotion that she stirred up in him, but he knew that she felt it too.

Later on that evening after dinner and tea, the two occupied themselves by reading. Severus was reviewing an article she planned on submitting to a medical journal, while Hermione relaxed with his collection of Poe's work as her feet were propped on Severus' legs. There was the silent swishing of the dishwasher as the two relaxed.

Needing a break from the article, he placed it down and began to delicately massage her feet.

"That feels divine." Hermione said as she continued to read.

"You're feet are cold."

"Well, now you can warm them up." She replied, as she lowered her book and winked at him.

"I was thinking today about something."

Lowering her book, Hermione gave him her full attention.

"I always imagined I would stay here in London, or at least in some metropolitan area, but now that things are changing… now that I'm changing I think I am beginning to reevaluate that thought."

"Where would you want to go?"

"The country; at least, outside of the city. All of this work has made me miss my time with potions. What if we were to open a little apothecary somewhere? With your background and our knowledge combined, I don't think we would fail. I'm not saying we should do it next month, but I was hoping you would at least think about it." Severus said as he continued to massage her feet, not once looking at her.

"You would really want to start a business with me?"

"You would be in charge of everything, publicity wise. I couldn't just show up at an opening and reveal to the world that I am still alive. I would prefer being your 'wing man' as some people call it."

"It's mighty presumptuous of you to assume that I would want to run an apothecary." Hermione said with a smirk.

"If you wanted to open a family practice I wouldn't care – as long as I was there with you. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I am with you in the long run."

Placing her book on the floor, Hermione moved to the other side of the sofa and met her companion.

"So your little proposal this morning wasn't in jest?" Hermione asked as she wrapped her arms around Severus' neck and melted into his arms.

"Have I ever 'jested' dear girl?" Severus replied as he held her.

She never replied to him, but he could sense that she still needed time. He knew that she would at least want to finish her program before taking a bold new step. Maybe in a year or two, who knew really? Hermione knew that he wasn't just proposing a business and a life long commitment; he wanted her to be the mother of his children. He wanted to grow old with her.

Later that evening he carried her to their bedroom and placed her in the bed. Not bothering to change into their nightclothes, the two automatically moved next to each other. As Hermione wrapped her arm around Severus, she knew that she would follow him to the ends of the Earth if it was what he so desired. Even in the darkness their eyes held each other, the gaze communicated all that they wanted to say.

Breaking the silence, Hermione was the first one to crack.

"I love you." She whispered before she drifted into sleep.

"I love you too." Severus replied as he felt her pull him a little closer to her.

It was just after three in the morning when Hermione woke up; her mind riddled with the conversation from the night before. Trying to fall back asleep, but failing at the task, Hermione figured that a pre-dawn run would do her some good.

Lacing up her trainers and zipping up her jumper, Hermione silently crept out of her flat. Leaving a note for Severus, she locked the door and hoped that a brisk jog would do her some good. She loved running when the streets of her London neighborhood were empty. Hoping that her pounding on the pavement would take her mind off of the recent developments, she smiled knowing that she was overanalyzing something so simple. Rather than try to break it down to a point of exhaustion, she knew that it would be best to just go with whatever changes were happening. Yes, Severus was still a vampire, but that was slowly changing. Realizing that she truly was worrying about nothing, she continued to run towards a future that never looked brighter.

Severus opened his eyes and noticed a cold spot where Hermione usually slept. He could tell that there was a good ninety minutes before the sun was set to rise. Curious as to her whereabouts after noticing that she wasn't in the loo, he got out of bed and walked towards the fridge to grab a bag of blood. Pouring half of the bag into a mug, he warmed it for a few seconds before discovering the note she taped to the cabinet. As he sipped the liquid he smiled, knowing that she was probably using the exercise as a way of clearing her head. It was still dark outside, but it was always his favorite part of the day.

Walking out of her flat, he walked towards the entry of the building. Sitting on the top step, he smiled at the knowledge that he was going to wait for her to return. Clutching his mug, he could hear the city start to wake up. The traffic wasn't even light, but he knew that would change in a little over an hour.

Seeing her run on the sidewalk across the street, Severus watched the gracefulness of her moves as Hermione's pace continued towards their home. She had yet to notice him watching her, but knew that such a welcome would be much appreciated. He made a mental note not to kiss her with blood still on his tastebuds as she approached the building.

When she reached the pedestrian friendly zebra crossing, Hermione noticed Severus sitting on the steps and couldn't help but smile. Jogging across, and before either of them even realized what was happening, out of nowhere, a speeding car tried to pump its breaks, but not before hitting Hermione.

Severus could feel himself dropping the mug in slow motion as he began to run towards Hermione's still body. Not noticing the driver of the vehicle getting out and panicking, Severus was thankful that his memory was sharp enough to remember the car's license tag number.

"I'm so fucking sorry! Is she alright? She just came out of nowhere!"

"She had the bloody right of way you imbecile!" Severus stormed, a look of bloody murder in his eyes. "At least call for help!"

"Yeah… yeah! I… I've got my mobile in my car!" The driver nervously replied before running back to his vehicle.

"Hermione… Hermione!" Severus whispered as he tried to find a way to hold her that didn't injure her body even more.

It was then that he noticed the driver of the Saab quickly back his away and drive off.

"YOU BASTARD!" Severus shouted as he observed the vehicle drive off. Too scared to leave her, Severus knew that rather than get Scotland Yard involved he was going to seek out his own form of justice. Never before was he so thankful to still be a vampire.

"I WILL FIND YOU!" Severus shouted, as if the driver could hear him.

Looking down at Hermione, she appeared to be fine except for the blood that was slowly oozing out of her lips. He knew internal bleeding when he saw it. Not knowing what to do, he wanted to bring her to the hospital, but they were so close to the flat.

"Severus…" Hermione whispered.

"I'm going to get you help. You're going to be fine." Severus said as he lifted her from the cold, wet cement.

"I can't… I can't feel anything." She whispered.

"I'm going to take you to the hospital. One of our neighbours must have a car we can use."

Not thinking clearly, he brought her to the flat. Hoping not to injure her more, he gently placed her on their bed as she ran towards the kitchen to grab the phone. Trying to stop the tears, he knew that moving her from the scene of the crime was just as foolish as the driver leaving the scene. The thought of having her leave his sight was too much to bear.

"I'm sorry." Hermione said when he returned to her room to see if she was okay.

"No, no, no! Why do you say that?" Severus said as he noticed the pink tears fall onto her skin. They were his own.

"I wasn't paying attention. I shouldn't have been running so early."

"You had the right of way." Severus replied. "You had the right of way! I'm going to get you help. You're going to be fine."

"Severus, I can't feel my legs. I… I can't move anything below my waist." She responded before adding, "I don't want to go to the hospital."

"They will be able to help you!" Severus said, wanting to grab the phone. He watched her, watched as she tried to move something, anything. Her foot wouldn't budge an inch.

"Please. Please Hermione, you can't leave me. I can't go back to the life I had before – that loneliness. I swear to you, I will find the bastard that did this. I will make him pay!" Severus begged.

"You can fix me." Hermione whispered, tears now welling her eyes.

"What are you saying?" Severus asked, even though he already knew the answer.

"Yes, I'll marry you."

It was then that his hunch was confirmed, his tears, still stained with blood, continued to fall on her cheeks.

"It's a curse Hermione!" Severus said, trying to convince himself that it wasn't what he too wanted. "I don't know if I can truly change or heal you given what has been happening to me." He knew he was running out of time.

"It won't be a curse if I'm with you." She simply replied as she grabbed his hand. "I'll finish my work and we can leave this all behind."

The blood continued to trickle down her mouth; he knew he was slowly losing her. A heartbeat he once heard so clearly was beginning to slow in its pace. There were two choices: either rush her to the closest hospital, knowing she would spend the rest of her life a paraplegic or he could acknowledge her request, be selfish, and spend an eternity with her.

"I can take you to the hospital. Please, let me take you there!" It was his last attempt.

"I love you." Hermione replied as her eyes got glassier.

"No… no, no, no, no, no!" Severus clutched her to him, and without thinking, licked the blood from her chin, knowing that it would immediately attract his fangs. Feeling them come out, he knew that if she were to survive this through the traditional method her life would be lived out in a wheelchair. Even if he could save her, there was no guarantee. Without hesitation, he bit into her neck, draining her of her life force. Never wanting to take her blood in this kind of scenario, he forced himself to remember that he was doing to save her. His own future, mortal or immortal, hinged on her existence.

He could feel her dying heartbeat as he continued to drink, hoping that he could save her in time. He knew that he was giving up the human cure. Living a life without her would be too cruel, but making her a vampire was the same thing. Conflicted, he knew that she would never blame him for the ultimate decision.

As he felt her heartbeat slow down to the point of death, he let instinct kick in and opened up his shirt. Running into the lab, he grabbed and sterilized a scalpel before heading back to the bedroom. Wondering if he was too late, hoping that he wasn't, Severus sliced the skin above his own barely beating heart. Knowing that he was no longer going to hear it in a matter of moments, he knew he wouldn't miss it if she were to take the gift.

Bringing her mouth to the wound that was slowly oozing blood, he continued to hope, praying to Merlin that he wasn't too late.

"Drink!" He softly begged.

"Drink Hermione! Drink!" Brushing her lips against the wound, he waited, but she wasn't responding.

"Please! It's the only way we can be together. I would give it all up for you – mortality, anything and everything! Drink my love. Drink and we shall walk through this world together. I'll stay in this darkness with you."

With relief he closed his eyes, clutching her head to him as he felt her lips moving against his chest. Slowly, she was taking his offering. Looking down at her, he felt her get a little more aggressive as each passing second occurred. His blood was making her stronger; it was going to ultimately change her. He felt himself growing hard, a natural reaction, as she continued to take in his life force.

Relief flooded him as he tried to think of reasons why he shouldn't have done such a thing. As Hermione continued to feed from him, he looked down at her, his tears, now a darker shade of red, fell onto her flesh. As he gently pulled her away from his wound, her blood stained lips stood out. Feeling the guilt of his actions, he pulled her to him.

"Forgive me! Please forgive me!" Severus begged.

"Severus." Hermione whispered.

He could already feel the transformation begin; their bond was now going to be stronger than ever.

"I'm tired." She said.

"I know. My love, it will get better. Rest."

Severus gently lowered her onto the bed, her eyes still open, staring at him. The wound on her neck was already beginning to heal.

Before stepping away to grab towel to clean up the drying blood on her mouth, Hermione grabbed his hand. Looking back at her, still seeking forgiveness, he awaited her words.

"There's nothing to forgive Severus. I wanted this." Sitting next to her on the bed, Severus ran his fingers through her hair, tucking the loose strands behind her ear as she closed her eyes and gave into the sleep that would heal, but ultimately change her.

Moments later Severus returned with a warm washcloth, wiping away the flecks of dried blood on their skin. Tired too from such an activity, Severus still didn't know if she would truly heal. As he lay beside her, he noticed her right leg twitch a little. Never so thankful for such a spasm, he felt his heart beat one last time before it ceased. As he looked to Hermione, he noticed the movement of her chest slowly wind down. In a matter of hours, she too would be damned. Severus still didn't know if he should be happy or guilt ridden.

3 years later

The doors to Nature Cures were set to open up in two hours; Hermione made sure the awning that surrounded the store in Ampthill was fully set out before she officially opened their little apothecary for the day. Even now, in her state of immortality, she was still a morning person.

It had taken her a few weeks to adjust to the change in her senses, the cravings for blood, and the low tolerance to sunlight, but ever the proper know-it-all, Hermione would have made the highest mark if such a class on adapting were offered. As she made sure the window displays were neat, she smiled at thought of Severus telling her that she was know-it-all in life, and was still one in death.

"We should be getting those dried fig leaves today. I especially had them shipped from the States!" Hermione said as she climbed the stairs to their flat. A warm mug of type B awaited her as Severus sipped on his.

As Hermione savored the metallic taste, she gently rubbed circles on her husband's back.

"Anything interesting?" Hermione asked.

"Actually, yes. According to this article, my wife is supposed to be giving a lecture in two weeks on her advancements in hemophilia at her old alma mater in London."

"I heard she's a brilliant scientist, that woman." Hermione playfully joked as she leaned her head against his, reading the article in front of her.

"Do we really have to open the store up today? I'm sick and tired of making that bloody potion for runny noses!"

"It's one of our best sellers dear, what do you think?" Hermione said as she kissed her husband's cheek.

Walking towards the sink after finishing up her drink, Hermione rinsed out her glass and saved up the dishes from the previous night. Even though their taste buds weren't the same, the two did enjoy the ritual of preparing and eating a meal together. As Severus watched Hermione, he never expected to see their lives turn in such a skewed direction.

Hermione never once blamed him for his decision. Shortly after she was turned, she reminded him that she was one who asked for it. Still, Severus sometimes wondered if he could have done more to prevent such a decision from ever having to be made. He never vocalized his fears and he knew that was why he still worried.

"Are you happy?" Severus asked before Hermione could leave the kitchen.

"What spurred on such a question?"

"I just sometimes wonder about things."

"Such as?" Hermione asked as she sat next to him.

"I wonder if that night I could have done something more."

"Are you happy?" Hermione asked.

"The happiest I've ever been." He replied, faster than he realized.

"You took the words right out of my mouth." Hermione said, smiling. "I know you feel guilty; you don't say it, but I can feel it. I won't lie, I do miss some things, but those pale in comparison to what a life without you would be like. I am thankful, so thankful to you, to have found you, to love you."

"I wanted us to have children."

It was then that Hermione kneeled down next to his chair. Grabbing his cold hand with her own cold one, she continued,

"Yes, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. We both fought a war; we knew what could happen, what does sometimes happen before we ever met again. I sometimes wonder what this home would sound like with children running around, but do I regret the choice I've made… no. I'd rather not have children in my life than live a life without you Severus. You saved me in more ways than one, and you're not a stupid man. You found me. We were close to a cure, but you gave it up for me. You found me." Hermione said, gently gripping his head in her hands.

"You found me." She repeated before kissing him.

As Severus pulled her into his lap, the two continued to kiss each other before Hermione tucked her head under her husband's neck.

"So… about those dried fig leaves." Hermione said as she fell into the comforting embrace that only her husband could provide.

A/N: Thanks so much for taking the time to read this story. I hope you all enjoyed it, even if it wasn't the ending that you were expecting.