Chapter One – Death of a War Hero
Disclaimer & Story Warnings: The characters and the world of the HARRY POTTER universe belong to JKR. The plot is mine. This story plot is rated MATURE. If you are not 18 years or older, this story is not for you. You have been warned!
Hermione stood motionless with a look of numbing distress as others around her moved in a blur. The smoke that hovered over the ground made things difficult while people searched the bodies strewn across the grass.
Voldemort was dead.
The carnage he left behind seemed to loom over her mind, preventing her from stirring from the shock of her surroundings. Mad-Eye, Dobby, Hedwig, Remus, Tonks, and Fred were among many of their friends and fellow Order members who were gone, but Hermione could only think of one person—a man who had sacrificed his life for the wizarding world, who had been hated and reviled by so many yet had never been given a chance to be happy.
Severus Snape is dead; he will never get his chance.
As these sorrowful thoughts swirled around in Hermione's head, her feet started to move without instruction. It was as if her soul was forcing her to go to him.
I need to see him one last time, she thought.
As she carefully stepped over the bodies of allies and enemies alike, she ignored the few who noticed her and called out to see if she was okay. Of course I'm not okay! she thought as she kept walking towards the Whomping Willow. It seemed only moments before she reached the entrance to the Shrieking Shack, where she paused briefly before carefully opening the trapdoor and stepping into the room. A sob bubbled up from deep inside of her as she gazed at the broken body drenched in blood; his eyes were open and staring at nothing. His body didn't move. He was gone.
Not caring that the floor surrounding him was covered in blood, Hermione knelt down next to his body and hesitantly reached her hand out to his head. With the utmost care she smoothed the greasy hair away from his face. With the gentlest touch she closed his eyelids, the coldness of his skin wrenching painful sobs out of her throat. Why did you have to die? Why did you not get a chance for even a few seconds of happiness? she wondered over and over.
She cried until finally her emotions were washed out. Gathering her strength about her, she pulled her wand out of her sleeve and proceeded to siphon the blood off Severus. When his clothes looked cleaner, she levitated him for a few moments while she Vanished the large puddle and siphoned the blood off his back. Then she lowered him to the ground and cast a charm to repair the few rips in his robes around his collar, concealing most of the mortal wound from view.
When she had finished, she just sat there staring at her Professor, wondering what could have been if he had lived, whether life would have been kinder to him. Suddenly an all-consuming idea came to her. She reached out to his neck and unbuttoned several of the countless buttons on his robes, revealing the whole of his fatal wound. She waved her wand over a broken picture frame on the floor near her, Transfiguring it into a glass phial. With a determination she hadn't known she possessed, she pressed the edge of the phial against his neck below the wound; with her other hand she pressed down on the skin and watched as a trickle of blood and venom started to flow slowly into the phial. When the wound ceased to ooze, she carefully stoppered the phial and re-buttoned his collar. With a last lingering touch to his icy cheek, Hermione Granger left the broken body of Severus Snape.
Hermione breathed through her mouth to avoid the stench of death as she made her way towards the massive entrance to Hogwarts. People were still buzzing around her everywhere, cataloguing the dead and preparing them for disposal either on a massive pyre or by ceremonial burial, depending on who the deceased was.
As she made her way into the main entrance, she noticed Harry and Ron talking quietly with Arthur Weasley. All three of them bore looks of grief as they gestured to the body that was wrapped lovingly in a white robe at their feet. From the profile she glimpsed beneath the oversized hood, she knew it was the body of Fred Weasley.
Hermione held back the heart-wrenching cry that threatened to escape when she finally noticed George's pale face looking at the body as well. Swallowing her grief, she turned towards the hall that led to the Headmaster's office and slipped away from the scene without being noticed by those closest to her. When she reached the gargoyle she stared for a moment as she wondered what Severus' password could have been. Taking an educated guess, she asked quietly, "Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore?"
The gargoyle looked at her strangely for a moment and then nodded and stepped aside, the wall opening to her. She thanked the gargoyle and stepped forward onto the rising stairway. When Hermione reached the top the stairs stopped moving; she stared at the door for a moment, hesitant to go in. Severus was the last person in this room, she thought sadly, not bothering to wipe away the few tears that spilled over her cheeks at that thought. She opened the door and stepped inside, closing it firmly behind her and locking it with a flick of her wand.
The room was quite different from the last time she had stepped foot inside it. Long gone were the many mysterious silvery instruments that Dumbledore had placed around the office. The cheery, haphazard look was gone as well, replaced with an organized collection of shelves and a profuse quantity of books. Green velvet curtains were hung over the windows and large black candelabras provided an eerie light to the whole room. It was exactly the type of look Severus would create.
"Hem," came a sound from the right wall, startling Hermione out of her reverie. She stepped closer to the large painting and gazed sadly at its occupant, who smiled at her. His eyes normally showed a distinct twinkle, but for the moment it was sadly missing. "Hermione Granger. To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit? We expected that Professor McGonagall or someone from the Ministry would have graced this chamber by now."
Hermione conjured a chair and sat down before Dumbledore's portrait. "I take it you know there was finally a battle?" she asked quietly. When Dumbledore just nodded, Hermione continued. "You will be happy to know that we were victorious. But it came at a high cost to us…all of us."
"Who have we lost, dear girl?" Dumbledore asked her gently.
"Headmaster Severus Snape, Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, and Remus Lupin, of those closest to us…and there were many others," Hermione said, a sob escaping her as she said the names aloud.
As Hermione cried, her face in her hands, the portraits of past Hogwarts Headmasters and Headmistresses exclaimed amongst themselves over her news. It was several minutes before Dumbledore could hush them all and try to calm Hermione.
She sniffled and wiped the backs of her hands across her eyes. "Sorry, Professor," she said apologetically. "It's just hard losing so many, and Professor Snape is the worst of all. He did so much for all of us, even though everyone hated him. He never had his chance to live. He should be alive. He deserved a chance!" she said vehemently, nearly shouting the last words.
"Yes, he did. Alas, fate had a different journey for us all…" Dumbledore observed. The other headmasters murmured and nodded in agreement. Hermione sat there in silence for a moment, only brought back to the present by a polite clearing of the throat. "Hem. Miss Granger, I hate to interrupt your thoughts at such a moment, but I'm sure an official will be here quite soon; not to mention your friends will most likely need your assistance at such a time..."
Hermione collected herself and said, "Sir, I would like to formally volunteer to go through…through Headmaster Snape's possessions. I realize that a member of the Hogwarts staff would usually be delegated for such a task, but I feel very strongly about doing it myself. I feel I owe it to him, in a way—to make sure his possessions are taken care of properly."
"I will say that having someone who is not a member of Hogwarts' staff or a Ministry official perform this duty is unprecedented," Dumbledore mused, "but if I remember correctly, you had tentatively signed on to our Apprenticeship Program for a Masters in Potions…therefore I see no problem with you taking on the duty of clearing out his things. I can't make any promises, as I am no longer an active member of the staff, but you have my word that I will most earnestly recommend you," he said easily.
"Thank you , sir, I truly appreciate it. I guess I'll be going—like you said, my friends need me."
Having just finished dressing for the mass funeral that would take place in one hour, Hermione appraised herself in the mirror. It had been two whole days since the end of the war, and after much discussion it had been decided that only one funeral would be held, for the majority of those who had died; a handful of families had decided to bury their loved ones elsewhere and more privately. It was odd to think about, since the funeral would almost resemble a graduation ceremony; except the immediate family members of each of the deceased would step up to accept an Order of Merlin, First Class, on behalf of their loved one, then proceed with a Ministry official to their assigned plot.
Hermione was asked by the Weasleys to be with them when they were called to bury Fred, but, asking their forgiveness, she had declined. They accepted her apology, although they did ask why she would sign her name to the list as family to Severus Snape. Hermione explained that she didn't feel it was right that he be buried without anyone other then the Grave Wizard at his side. The Weasleys, still torn up over their Fred's death, didn't question her again.
The graves themselves would be placed on the grounds of Hogwarts castle, between the Owlery and the west wing of the castle. A lavish wall and cemetery entrance had been built within a mere twenty-seven hours after the Ministry had given approval. A temporary podium and hundreds of chairs had been positioned just outside the new entrance. Sprays of flowers were strategically placed in honor of the deceased, each of them containing hundreds of ivory roses and lilies.
Pulling herself out of her reverie, Hermione walked to her dresser and pocketed her wand. With her head held high she left her dorm room and proceeded downstairs to await the beginning of the service.
Ron sat one row behind Hermione, having given her the cold shoulder after an argument they'd had just minutes before the Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had called the service to order. Hermione had known Ron would not quite understand her decision to stand for Professor Snape as he was buried; but she had honestly not expected him to accuse her of indecency for "skipping out on his brother's burial to attend to the greasy dungeon bat". Harry had walked away from Ron to escort Andromeda Tonks and Little teddy to their seats.
So without looking back, Hermione stood and walked forward when Snape's name was called. When she reached Kingsley she couldn't help but hug him after he presented her with Professor Severus Snape's Order of Merlin, First Class. An elderly wizard by the name of Keneford escorted her through the entrance to the cemetery.
They passed row after row and turned right when they reached the last one. Severus' grave was all the way back in the corner. Hermione held back her tears at the thought of him being shoved off in a corner by himself. Mr. Keneford asked her to pull out her wand and point it at her late Professor's body whenever she was ready. Hermione nodded and was barely able to mutter a simple, "I need a few moments, please." Mr. Keneford stepped back to give her a moment, and Hermione stared at the body draped in a rich emerald green, the crest of Slytherin House adorning his chest. Below the crest was his name. The wrap itself conformed to his body, being magicked to cover him perfectly.
"I'm so sorry, Professor. All I can say is that I'll do my utmost to give you that second chance," Hermione whispered, placing her hand on his chest. After composing herself and wiping the tears from her face, she signaled for Mr. Keneford to proceed.
"All right, miss. If you would hold out your wand and repeat after me." Hermione held her wand over Severus Snape's body; then she listened closely to Mr. Keneford's words and repeated them.
A bright white light issued from her wand and encased Severus' body; then it burst into blindingly white flames, causing both onlookers to cover their eyes. When the light finally faded, a white tomb stood before them. It was simple and smooth. Across the area where Severus' chest was, the Slytherin crest and his name appeared carved into the white marble, along with his age and the date of his death.
Mr. Keneford excused himself to go back and help another family. Hermione remained at the tomb; she could hear other families near her, and saw the occasional bright light as other victims were buried as well. But her eyes held firmly to the white marble that encased Severus Snape.
The next morning a meeting was held for all Hogwarts staff, including the Head Boy and Girl and the Prefects. Among the topics for discussion was the idea of sending the students home early. The problem was how to go about the testing for each year before the new school term started. It was finally decided that the students would come to school two weeks earlier than usual, at which time they would take their tests and then rest for four days before September first. In the meantime, it would be the students' own responsibility to study over the summer, so as to be properly prepared for their exams.
After the meeting, Headmistress Minerva McGonagall asked Hermione to accompany her to her office for a private discussion. Once they were seated, the Headmistress got right to the point.
"I understand you had a talk with Professor Dumbledore the day of the battle, and I have thought it over thoroughly. After consulting with the Ministry, I hereby grant your request to personally take care of…of Professor Snape's possessions. I, as well as the majority of the staff, will be staying at Hogwarts for the entire summer so that we may prepare for the tests and clear up a number of other issues that need resolving before next term. Since there will be staff here at the school, you are welcome to stay as well in order to perform this service for Professor Snape. As to your quarters, you have several choices. You may of course stay in your old dorm, or you can stay in one of the guest rooms that are in the staff quarters tower."
Hermione looked at her hands, then looked up at McGonagall. "Professor, I was wondering if I might stay in Professor Snape's old quarters. I mean, there is a lot to be done; and as I understand it, all of his things have been relocated to his old rooms. It would be easier, I think, to be near everything, since I have a tendency to stay up all manner of hours when I'm work on something as big as this…job…will be," Hermione said hesitantly. Before Minerva could reply Hermione added, "Besides, the potions lab is down there. I know that Slughorn has already resigned, and I could be of use there as well. I can restock the classroom and help brew potions for the Hospital Wing, so things will be caught up before next term."
Minerva looked over Hermione's face and smiled gently. "That would be fine with me, Miss Granger. I'm sure Poppy would welcome the help, and it would certainly save me the trouble of taking care of the classroom laboratory myself. I will have enough on my hands filling the position before term begins. Very well. If that is all, I shall see you at dinner. I suggest you visit with Arthur and Molly before they leave. You may use the staff Floo if you need to stop off at home and bring any of your things for the summer. The password to the staff tower is 'Rowena Ravenclaw'. Also, before you go, the password to Severus's old quarters is 'Draught of Living Peace'. Good day, Miss Granger," she finished, and she pulled out a stack of forms that were waiting for her perusal and signature.
Hermione exited by way of the spiraling staircase and headed straight for the Great Hall to inform the Weasleys that she would not be staying at the Burrow for the summer as she and they had planned.
A/N: Whew. The first chapter of my new Sevmione. I'm excited! Please remember to read and review! *HUGS*