Chapter 9 A Bright Future?
AN The end. Thank you for the reviews
Professor Granger sat in her study sipping her firewhiskey. It was disconcerting to see the twins of Harry and Luna Potter sit on the rickety chair, the girl being sorted into Ravenclaw and the boy sorted to Gryffindor. It made her think of the past, everyone's future bright except for hers.
She picked up the picture that she forced Severus to take all those years ago. It was hard to believe that eleven years had passed. "I still miss you Severus and I hate that I am here and you are not with me. I think I understand your future self now. Potions Mistress that I am and I cannot brew the untraceable poison to take my own life despite the fact that I desperately want to die and be done with it all." She spoke to the still portrait in her study.
He never arrived into his portrait so Headmaster Flitwick endorsed a still portrait of Severus to fill in the blank four years ago. When the other portraits in the Headmaster's office protested at being uncomfortable at having a still portrait amongst them he owled her suggesting that there was a mystery to be solved and readily accepted the still portrait on her arrival and placed it in her quarters.
During her apprenticeship there were rumors of a ghost of a wizard dressed in dark robes haunting the students of Hogwarts. The older students interviewed said that it was departed Headmaster Snape. She quickly accepted the position of Potions Mistress based on the letter and what she heard. But in seven years she never found him. She confronted Headmaster Flitwick several times about it and all that he would say is that the ghost kept their own counsel.
She shakily stood up and raised her glass to the still portrait. "I remember when you told me that this was not a starter drink Severus, yet this is the only thing that keeps me going." She drank the contents of her drink down and placed the glass on the table. "Off to bed now dream about the past again. I wonder what happened to you and if I will ever be free." Fighting off the temptation to drink more as the morning would bring the first day of classes and wanted to make a good impression despite the fact that her reputation was tarnished anyway as being a lush ranked up with Trewlaney.
Hermione fell onto her bed fully clothed and dreamed…
Harry and Luna watched Hermione tap the back of Severus's diary and names appear.
"Blimey Hermione that list is nearly three quarters of the entire Ministry." Harry whispered.
"They'll never believe us Harry. You've read the Prophet. The Minister claims to have been Imperio'd and moving to strengthen his position. And he put many that are on this list into the most powerful positions." Placing her finger on a name. "Yaxley has been named the next head of Magical Law Enforcement."
Luna pointed to the bottom of the list. "This has been properly witnessed by Kingsley Shacklebot and filed under the State Secrets act. See the number, classification and the official seal?" She pulled out an official Ministry of Magic envelope and handed it to Hermione. "Kingsley gave this to me just before he died. The number on this matches what he gave me."
Hermione opened the parchment and read it, disbelief on her face.
Harry noticed her distress. "What's wrong Hermione?" He asked concerned.
"Luna you know what you have to do." She whispered out.
Gone was her dreamy voice. "I do Hermione. Harry I need you to go with me."
Harry looked to Hermione confused.
"Go with Luna Harry. You will understand shortly." She muttered out and handed the parchment back to Luna.
Turmoil rang out through Wizarding England as the Americans arrived in force and effectively took over, instilling curfews and headed up the Inquisition. While those on the list were not given council, they allowed the editors of all the Wizarding newspapers witness the administration of Veritserum and the questioning. The Wizarding American President personally headed it up himself. Within one year they were gone with Luna Lovegood placed as the Minister of Magic based on the secret agreement.
The American Minister met her after the last minion of Voldemort was given the Kiss. "John Smith wrote to me of the future that you went to and I thank you for giving us a future Hermione Granger. I know that you did it at great personal cost. If we can ever do anything for you, let me know."
Hermione looked to the kind eyes of the President. "As a matter of fact there is. I wish to apprentice in Potions but not here."
The President observed her and saw the desperation in her eyes. "I am leaving in two days and you are welcomed to join me. You will have the best Potions education that we can provide."
Hermione took her leave of Harry, despite the pleas that she had to help them.
"No Harry. Don't look at me that way! I have done enough!" She growled out in anger and then her voice softened. "I need to think for myself for once and need to heal and it cannot be here. There are too many memories Harry."
Harry looked to her sadly, debating on begging and really looked to his friend. The past year had been hard on her and understood her request. He pulled her to him and softly kissed her cheek. "Go Hermione and come back when you are ready."
Hermione tossed and turned all night.
Headmaster Flitwick called a meeting of the House Ghosts and watched them float before him.
The Bloody Baron, Grey Lady, The Fat Friar, and Nearly Headless Nick floated silently, waiting for him to speak. It wasn't often that they were called out.
The Headmaster squeaked out. "I know that you do not involve yourselves in the affairs of us live ones but I am insisting on it and remind you of your duty to stand by the school."
The Grey Lady spoke. "I know what you want Headmaster and it will be difficult."
Filius addressed her. "My Lady, she has suffered too much. I know that you have seen it and I know that he has as well. It needs to end."
"He is willful and bitter Headmaster, but we will do the best that we can." The Bloody Baron promised.
He sighed. "I know based on his actions but try. There are complaints and I have to address them. I plan on releasing Professor Granger from her contract at the end of the school year. I fear that it will be worse for her when I replace her, but I have a school to run and a broken witch is not conducive to our goals here. Potions injuries have gone up in the last two years and I can no longer ignore the fact."
Hermione skipped dinner again and reflected on the dream from last night. Everyone's future was bright except for hers, and the eagerness of Harry's progeny confirmed it today. Ah to be young and innocent she reflected.
She poured herself a large portion of Firewhiskey and drank it down, looking to the still portrait. "At least you are free Severus. Not like me cursed to the living and my memories."
Hermione went to her bath chambers and took a shower. She looked to the mirror and noticed the limp hair and her sallow features from the years of alcohol abuse. She prayed. "Please let me not wake up tomorrow." Finishing her evening ritual and turned away from the mirror.
"Hermione I told you to move on." A voice growled out to her.
She gasped in shock. "Severus! You're still here?"
The ghost looked to her, his arms crossed. "Why are you like this? I warned you and I wanted you to move on. You are not living Hermione." He admonished.
"This cannot be. You left me after the battle to move on." She muttered out. "You are a figment of my imagination and I have seen you so many times before. I know how to deal with this, figment of my imagination."
Hermione walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Firewhiskey and drank down half of it in one go and sat in a chair and waited for oblivion.
Severus floated before her. "I'm not leaving Hermione and we need to talk once you have sobered up."
Hermione eyed the figment of her imagination. "Sure." She slurred out. "But you will be gone when I wake up. It is always that way. Life is that way. It's like that every day." She eyed him. "The only thing I wish for is to die and I cannot even do that so the cycle continues."
"You think that your death would solve everything witch?" He snarled out.
"It would be a start…" She muttered.
He watched her eyes glaze over and close, passing out in her chair.
Ghost could not summon the house elves but he learned to pick up physical things from the castle poltergeist Peeves. He picked up a blanket that was folded on the couch and spread it over her. Waiting for a few minutes he floated out of her chambers deep in thought reflecting about his time spent at the castle.
Oh that was a riot when he revealed the fact that he could pick up things and his fellow ghost avoided him like the plague. He was a poltergeist and not a ghost and out of their click.
Peeves tutored him and he used the knowledge to his advantage for years to torment the students until he heard that Hermione was returning to the castle.
He saw her arrival to the castle all those years ago, eyes sparkling in anticipation and then watched her for years trying to find him. Being a poltergeist had its advantages as he could attack his fellow ghost and he did with zeal warning that if he was revealed to Hermione that unspeakable things would happen to the poor ghost that revealed it.
Even the Bloody Baron avoided him. It was one thing to control a poltergeist that only wanted to pull pranks but dealing with one that had full control of mind and intent of other levels was one not to be controlled.
He went into the Headmaster's chambers and woke Filius with a sharp prod. "We need to talk Filius."
Hermione woke up with a pounding headache. The figment was gone just as she planned, feeling a pang of regret. It seemed so real him floating before her. The other figments never floated.
She dug her wand out of her robes and caste Tempus realizing that she was five minutes late to class. Running her fingers through her hair and smoothing her robes she rushed to the door leading to her classroom and stopped when she heard the silky voice of long ago instructing her class.
Severus turned around. "Professor Granger the Headmaster told me of your illness and I will teach your classes until you are recovered. Rest and I will meet with you later to go over your curriculum."
He was not a figment after all. "Thank you Se...Headmaster Snape." She stuttered out and left the room.
Severus turned around and heard a Seventh year Gryffindor. "When she is sober." Snickering and making a motion tilting back a bottle with his hands. The entire class laughed out.
"Silence!" Severus shouted out and advanced on the student. "So you mock one of the three that saved our world and received the Order of Merlin First Class for her actions?"
The student eyed his professor. "Yeah I do. Everyone here knows that she tilts the bottle every night and does not bother to use a Hangover potion before teaching. Besides you can't do anything as you're a ghost."
"I am not a ghost." Severus snarled out and grabbed the student by his robes and pulled him out of his chair.
"Fifty points from each student of Slytherin and Gryffindor." He snarled out and threw the student to the floor. "Everyone here will proceed to the library now and write a report about Professor Granger and her actions to defeat Voldemort. If you knew it then you would not be disrespecting her openly."
"I will be your professor for the next week and I was at the battle. You might want to research me first as I will be the one grading your pathetic report. Move now before I deduct more points!"
He watched the students jump up and leave his classroom in haste at his command.
"Merlin! Did you see that? Ghosts are not supposed to be able to pick up physical things."
"Yeah but he said he was not a ghost. I'm researching that before I write my report. Did you see Professor Snape's eyes? I think he could kill us."
Severus floated through the wall and watched Hermione tearing through her quarters searching. "The Headmaster has removed all Firewhiskey and you are not to leave your quarters until you sober up. In one week we will talk."
The rest of his classes went smoothly as word got around about his actions. At the end of the week he entered her chambers and observed her sitting on her couch.
Hermione looked to the grey form of Severus. "I'm completely sober now Severus and the Headmaster had a chat with me. You lied to me Severus."
"When I left you I did travel to the Veil Hermione. It decided that I would not be rewarded Hell but assigned here to pay penance for my crimes. It is Hell because I watched your bright spark dim throughout the years"
She watched the grey form place a phial down on the table. "Do you still think that death will solve your problems?"
She looked to the grey form. "Yes Severus. I have nothing to live for."
Severus looked to his love. "That is the phial of poison that Potter gave you at the final battle. Still potent after all these years because it has a shelf life of twenty years. I loved you Hermione and cannot bear to see you like this. I wanted you to live life but you have suffered. Coming back here was a mistake Hermione. You should have moved on."
"I tried Severus when I was in America and could not do that. I long for you." Hermione stated miserably.
"I tell you once again to move on. Live life witch! It is unlikely that we will ever meet again as I remain here." He looked to her. "I have seen your suffering and have given you the means to the Veil if you decide it. I am dead and a poltergeist cursed to roam these halls. You have life and I want you to pursue it. I love you and it is the only reason that I have provided the phial."
Hermione watched Severus fade away and picked up the phial deep in thought.
The students and staff gathered at the gravesite listening to the eulogy that the famous Harry Potter gave. He spoke of her sacrifice and broke down. "You remember her as a broken witch and don't deny it. She was the brightest spark and the reason that I succeeded against Voldemort. It was the power of love. She is here to be buried next to one that she loved."
The attendees gasped out in shock, reading the tombstone of Severus Snape in the Muggle cemetery.
Harry continued pleased. "Yes next to a Deatheater who was a savior to our world though you forget it. They found one another amongst the death and destruction that many of you do not remember. She loved him and always stood by him and it was the reason that I succeeded for she reminded me of love."
Harry tossed a handful of dirt into the grave and pulled his wife to him. "My wife and I are the only ones living except for a handful of Americans to remember her true sacrifice. Hermione I miss you and I hope that you will find peace. I know that you suffered." Breaking down and sobbed into his wife's robes as the attendees threw roses into the grave and watched the casket lowered down.
Luna whispered to her husband. "It is because of Ron and Hermione's sacrifice that we are together with three beautiful children. Let's go home and rejoice in the future that they have given us."
Four months passed since her death and Severus floated in the rafters watching yet another graduation feast. He knew that he freed her but still felt guilty at providing the poison. Still she moved on to the Veil and at peace now. That was all the mattered to him.
A ghostly form appeared next to him. "Finally." She breathed out.
Severus looked to her. "Hermione?"
She smiled. "Surprised to see me here?"
"Yes but how are you here?"
"The Veil went on about the nonsense of me sacrificing all and said that I should go to Nirvana. It took me four months to convince the damned thing that I wanted nothing but to be with you so it finally sent me here. I have missed you Severus."
Severus reached for her hand and grabbed it, hearing the ghost cheer as a bright light encased them and they found themselves in Nirvana.
"Hermione I can touch you now and I desired it for so many years." Moving to kiss her lips and relished the taste of them.
"Let's forget about the past and take what the veil has given us." She murmured. "After all we have eternity to taste one another and remember once again."
Severus looked to the perfect cottage that he dreamed about when he was alive. "I intend to do that now." Pulling her towards the cottage. "Our future awaits us Hermione Snape. The live ones have theirs and now we do."