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!
Note to readers:
1. As far as this story is concerned, Ron and Hermione never had that kiss after destroying the horcrux in the chamber of secrets in DH. They have long come to agree they are better off friends.
2. When the trio walked to the bridge and Harry destroyed the Elder wand, he explained all about Snapes true allgiance and past.
Hermione walked a few paces behind Ron and Harry. The Elder Wand was now in pieces far below the bridge as they made their way back up to the castle. As joyful as she knew she should be feeling, Hermione knew that the aftermath of the war lay before them and that they had to deal with all the death and destruction that they had pushed aside in the heat of the moment. She fell further behind the closer they got to the castle, and her mind started to slowly comprehend their new reality.
Arriving at the courtyard that connected to the bridge, she watched as Harry and Ron went to work, combing the rubble for bodies and wounded with other survivors already elbow deep in the ruble beside them. Hermione stood motionless with a feeling of numb distress as the people around her seemed to move in a blur. The air crackled with static left over from the amount of magic that had been released during the fight, dust and smoke that hovered over the ground adding a surreal quality to the scene as everyone desperately tried to focus on doing their work, even as they tried not to think about what they were doing.
Voldemort is DEAD.
The carnage he had left behind loomed over her, causing her to go in and out of shock.
Mad-Eye, Dobby, Hedwig, Remus, Tonks, Fred...
They were among many of their friends and fellow Order members who were gone. Her friends were draping sheets over the bodies that were being levitated into the Great Hall and other areas as makeshift morgues, put in stasis so they could be cleaned and prepared for their final resting places. As she watched Lavender Brown being put on a stretcher, Hermione's thoughts seemed to freeze. Care was being taken with each victim here at the castle, but her mind, her stupid, stubborn, detail-oriented mind, screamed at her suddenly that someone had been forgotten.
Headmaster Severus Snape.
A man who had sacrificed his life for the wizarding world, who had been hated and reviled by so many and yet been denied any chance at contentment, let alone happiness.
Severus Snape is dead; he'll 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 something beyond her control was forcing her to go to him.
I'll recover him, since no one else around me has, or will, think about it until much later, she thought grimly, glad to have a concrete goal to work towards.
As she carefully stepped over the bodies of allies and enemies alike, she ignored the few who noticed her, who called out to her.
She didn't want to deal with them. She couldn't handle the meaningless platitudes and empty stares. She closed of her mind and her eyes to them, focusing solely on getting to the Whomping Willow, strangely calm in the wake of so much destruction. It seemed almost second nature by now to levitate a stick to prod the knot near the base of its trunk, and she slipped in, almost glad to have the heavy silence enveloping her.
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 her (from that place where all her indignation about broken people and mistreated house elves were buried) as she gazed at the broken body drenched in blood, eyes open and staring at nothing, body motionless.
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. She closed his eyelids, painful sobs sticking in her throat.
Gathering her strength about her and wiping her tears on her dirty sleeve, she pulled her wand out of her other sleeve and proceeded to siphon the blood off Professor Snape. When the front of him looked cleaner, she levitated him for a few moments while she Vanished the large puddle of blood 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 fatal wound from view.
When she 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 idea came to her. She reached out to his neck and unbuttoned several of the numerous buttons on his robes, revealing the whole of the gaping hole in his neck. She waved her wand over a broken piece of glass on the floor near her, Transfiguring it into a phial. With a strength of mind she hadn't known she possessed, she ignored the gore and open ragged hole in his body as she pressed the edge of the phial against his neck below the wound, while pressing against the skin around the wound with her other hand and watching as dark, congealing blood mixed with venom started to flow 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 cast Mobilicorpus and started to carefully guide the late Hogwarts Headmaster, Severus Snape, back to the castle.
Hermione breathed through her mouth to avoid the stench of death that was starting to pervade the area as the sun heated the air as she made her way towards the massive entrance to Hogwarts with Professor Snape floating in front of her. The few people who noticed her, sunken as they were in grief and work, looked at her in surprise when they realized who she was levitating towards the castle.
When she entered the Great Hall, were the body-count was rapidly growing, Harry and Ron looked up from where they were gathered around Fred, yet they said nothing as she carefully floated Professor Snape towards the end of the line near the wall and lowered him. A mediwitch she had never seen before gave an assessing look at him and shook her head at Hermione, but stepped forward anyway to cast a stasis spell and conjure a sheet to cover him, his name and title, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Severus Snape, now stitched in black thread over his face for identification.
After speaking with the mediwitch for a moment and learning about the funeral arrangements, Hermione put her name down not as next of kin obviously, but as the person of contact since she was not related but was volunteering to act as next of kin; she then turned to approach her friends. She thought she had cried more in this one night than she had cried her entire life, and she was fairly certain that she would never be able to cry again. Even so Hermione had to hold back a heart-wrenching sob when she finally noticed George's pale face looking at the body of his best friend and twin, such a lost expression on his face that it made her tear-ducts, which felt dried up and almost in pain, itch as if aching to shed more tears but unable to do so.
Swallowing her grief, she turned towards the hall, thinking to escape, get away from all the sad faces and entreating eyes. She took the route that led to the Headmaster's office, slipping 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 Professor Snape's password could have been. Taking an educated guess, she stated quietly, "Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore."
The gargoyle shook his head, yet having seen her walk past with the now previous Headmaster of Hogwarts, it stepped aside for her anyway, the wall opening. She thanked the gargoyle quietly and stepped forward onto the rising stairway. When Hermione reached the top the stairs stopped moving and she stared at the door for a moment, hesitant to go in. I wonder if his portrait will be up already, she thought musingly. She opened the door and stepped inside, closing it firmly behind her with a flick of her wand.
The room was quite different from the last time she had stepped foot inside it. Gone were the many mysterious silver instruments that Dumbledore had had placed around the office, in part, she had always thought, to cause people to think him strange and mysterious, unknowable. 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 Hermione would have expected Professor Snape to create. Or at least the type of room that Voldemort and his followers would expect from a fellow Slytherin.
A polite cough emanated from the right hand wall, startling Hermione out of her reverie. She stepped closer to the large painting and stared at its occupant, who smiled at her. While in life his eyes had never been without their signature twinkle, now it was missing. She didn't know whether it was because the resident was now a painting or because he realized the seriousness of what had happened at the castle. "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 in front of Professor Dumbledore's portrait. "I take it you know there was finally a battle?" she asked quietly. When Dumbledore simply 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. Hermione thought it a strange question, given that she would have thought he would know, given how the occupants of portraits can flit between them. But she wanted to say it. Wanted to talk about it. She felt it like a festering sore upon her soul and she knew that if she didn't talk about it, it would make her sick.
"Headmaster Severus Snape, Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Dobby and…and so very many more," Hermione said, a sniffle escaping her as she said the names aloud. As soon she finished speaking there was a bright flash and a large frame covered in a black cloth appeared on the wall next to Dumbledore, seemingly as if the castle had heard her say that another Headmaster had been relieved of his post. The portraits of past Hogwarts Headmasters and Headmistresses exclaimed amongst themselves over her news and the appearance of the new, yet to be unveiled portrait. It was several minutes before Dumbledore could hush them all. Hermione was no help, as she was merely staring at the portrait, feeling curiously numb to all the proceedings.
"Miss Granger, I hate to interrupt your thoughts at such a momentous moment, it's not every day you see a portrait appear out of thin air, I'm sure, but I'm sure an official will be here quite soon, not to mention your friends will most likely require your presence at such a time..."
Hermione collected herself. "Sir, what will happen to Professor Snape's belongings?" she asked as she took in the room around her once more.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "That particular duty will fall to Professor McGonagall as long as she and the others are quick enough to ensure the Ministry themselves don't step in. Severus will have to be formally pardoned so that his things will not be confiscated. If we are successful in clearing his name in a timely fashion, Professor McGonagall will have the dubious honor of deciding what is to be done with his things if no will is to be found, as Severus had no living relatives," he said easily. "In fact, I imagine that as Deputy Headmistress, and soon to be official Headmistress I'm sure, there will a lot of things requiring Minerva's attention. I wonder if I may ask you, when the time comes, to offer to sort through Professor Snape's belongings yourself. It will make Minerva's life infinitely easier, I'm sure. Of course, that's only if you have the time, of course."
"It would be no trouble sir. I'll soon need the distraction, I think. I have to reverse the memory charm on my parents and I'm not sure they'll want me around this summer, after they found out what I did. I should go—as you said, my friends need me," she said. She gathered herself and left the Headmaster's office, giving the covered portrait one last, inquiring look.
As soon as she left, the previous Headmasters started hopping from frame to frame in a fervor, trying to figure out not why the portrait was there but why it was covered, as this had never happened in the history of Hogwarts.
Having just finished dressing for the mass memorial and burial service that would take place in one hour, Hermione appraised herself in the mirror, clad in her Gryffindor uniform, the red and gold a cloak a comfort in times where everything seemed to have turned on its head. It had been two whole days since the end of the war, and after much discussion it had been decided that a mass memorial and burial service would be held for those who wished to have their loved ones laid to rest at Hogwarts. The Ministry, under the newly elected Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had stepped in and in record time put together an occasion that even met Hermione's high standards.
Words would be spoken about those who had been at the forefront of the war by those who had volunteered to honor the dead. After that, names would be called and the families of the deceased would come forth and join their fallen loved one, a burial wizard from the Ministry accompanying them to the newly established cemetery that had been assembled up the hill a few minutes hike from the Quidditch pitch. Not all would be buried at Hogwarts, as some families had private cemeteries and had already departed with their loved ones and every enemy, creature and Death Eater alike, had been gathered into a large pyre nearly a half mile into the dark forest and burned to dust. The centaurs had surprised them all when they agreed to allow the Ministry officials to clear an area and dig out a hole large enough to pile the evil ones together for the pyre.
The funeral would then proceed to form a somber awards ceremony, the immediate family members of each of the deceased stepping up to accept an Order of Merlin, First Class, on behalf of their loved ones. On the not rare occasion that all immediate members of the family were deceased, the award would be received by a Ministry witch or wizard in lieu of the dead. Hermione tried not to dwell on the irony of the awards ceremony, as it should have been a graduation ceremony for those who had completed their seventh year. But that was not to be. She was unsure what would happen to the students as the entire previous year seemed not to count towards their education at all. Kingsley had mentioned that a meeting with McGonagall and the Board of Governors would take place after a period of mourning to address the problem.
Pulling herself out of her reverie, Hermione walked to her dresser and pocketed her wand. With her head held high she left her old dorm room and proceeded downstairs to await the beginning of the service.
Hermione clasped hands and hugged Ron and the rest of the Weasley family as she made her way to her seat in the front row, near, but not with, the Weasleys. At her and Harry's insistence, the Prime Minister had finally agreed to watch the memories provided by Headmaster Snape in the Pensieve. Afterwards, he had Flooed straight to the Daily Prophet offices and insured that the truth of Headmaster Severus Snape's war-time deeds be announced immediately. After that, Hermione had formally volunteered to act as next of kin during the memorial, a fact that had annoyed Ron a bit even if he understood why she was doing it. Hermione had known Ron would not quite understand her decision to stand for Professor Snape, but she honestly had not expected him to accuse her of indecency for "skipping out on his brother's burial to attend to the greasy dungeon bat". Knowing Ron was speaking largely out of grief, she had ignored his words and watched Harry walk away from Ron to escort Andromeda Tonks and little Teddy to their seats.
The service was not as long as one would have expected when a total of fourteen witches and wizards spoke before the Minister approached the lectern and proceeded to call out the names. Hermione stood and walked forward when Snape's name was called. When she reached Kingsley she held her head high and looked the audience in the eye, daring them to say or do anything disparaging, as she was presented with Headmaster Severus Snape's Order of Merlin, First Class, which she held carefully as she walked away. An elderly wizard by the name of Keneford escorted her and Professor Snape's levitated body through the entrance, around the courtyards, and up the hill towards the Battle of Hogwarts Memorial Cemetery, as it had been dubbed.
They passed under a large columned archway into the graveyard and passed row after row of graves, turning right when they reached the last row. Professor Snape's grave was all the way at the back of the cemetery, hidden in a dark corner. Hermione held back disappointment at the thought of him being shoved off in a corner by himself, yet she knew that regardless of the fact that he had truly been on their side and everyone who read the Daily Prophet knew he was innocent and a hero, his personality had always been harsh and not well liked even inside his own house.
Mr. Keneford asked her to pull out her wand and point it at her late Professor's body whenever she was ready. Hermione smiled tightly but 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, magicked to cover him perfectly and giving her a green profile of the face she had both feared and respected in equal measure.
"I'm so sorry, Professor. I know you never liked me but that's okay. I know I was a bit over-enthusiastic in your classes," she said, emitting a quiet chuckle. "I just hope you know how much I respect what you did for all of us, and I'm sorry that you never had your chance to live. I don't know if my idea will work but I will take all you ever taught me and try my best," she finished in a whisper, speaking softly enough that Keneford, just a few paces behind her, had no hope of hearing her. She placed the Order of Merlin where she could see his hands gathered together on his chest. After stepping back she took a deep breath and waved Keneford over.
"All right, miss. If you would hold out your wand and repeat after me." Hermione held her wand over Severus Snape's body and listened closely to Mr. Keneford's words before repeating them.
A bright white light issued from her wand and encased Severus' body, bursting into blindingly white flames that were tinged with green, 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 Professor Snape's chest had been, below the crest of Hogwarts, it said
Headmaster of Hogwarts
Hero of the Order of the Phoenix and the Battle of Hogwarts
Order of Merlin, First Class
Mr. Keneford excused himself to go back and help another family but Hermione remained at the tomb. She could hear other families near her and saw the occasional bright light as other victims were entombed. But for some time 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 and many of the remaining Order members. One of the topics for discussion was the dilemma of the students being taken out of school by parents or concerned family members and the utter lack of education received in the past year. 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 while the staff and the ministry worked out each students placement. Many of the staff and some of the prefects argued that the coming term should be delayed to allow people to spend time with their families and heal. Yet it was thought by the rest and the majority present that getting their world and the school back a semblance of normal sooner would make it easier for everyone to heal together and move on with their lives. So as a compromise for the students arriving earlier than usual, the winter break would be extended by two weeks to give the students and families as well as the staff extra time with their loved ones for the hardships that would be their first Christmas after so many deaths. In the meantime it would be the students' own responsibility to study over the summer, so as to be properly prepared for their exams.
Those who had missed most if not all of the past year were given the choice of either going back to join the school next term or testing from home for their N.E.W.T.s if they didn't feel they could be students once again. Harry and Ron, of course, chose the latter option. Hermione surprised them and did the same since she had no intention of coming back if her friends would not be there with her
After the meeting, Headmistress 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 you permission to personally take care of…of Headmaster 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 present throughout the summer, you are welcome to stay as well in order to perform this service for Professor Snape. As to your quarters, you have several options. You may of course stay in your old dorm, or you can stay in one of the guest rooms that are near the staff room."
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 to all hours when I'm working 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. I will of course need a few days to take care of my parents, then I can return and get to work," she added, feeling her body tense at the thought.
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 drop in on Arthur and Molly before they leave. You may use the staff Floo to return; I will have it keyed to your home for the week. Also, before you go, the password to Severus's old quarters is 'Draught of Living Peace'. It used to be keyed to his wand but I've had it changed to a password for you. Good day, Miss Granger," she finished, and pulled out a stack of forms that were waiting for her perusal and signature, a clear dismissal.
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.
A/N: Whew. The first chapter of my new Sevmione. I'm excited! Please remember to read and review! *HUGS*
Update 2016: So much has changed in this first chapter that will affect the rest of the chapters I have up, as well as the rest of the plot going forward lol. I do hope you enjoy the changes. As I delved back in I noticed a lot of plot holes where I could expand my story and explain my ideas/reasoning to make the story more plausible.
Please feel free to review. Reviews feed the plot bunnies :)