A.N. - So, this little thing right beneath was the random writing prompt that I got, and then this whole story came out of it. I used part of a song by Augustana as inspiration, as well as a poem called "Never Lost" by Beatrice Jean-Baptiste. I hope you enjoy it!
(write for) 30 minutes * dialogue * reunion at the cemetery
"Carve your name in a black stone
Swear to god we won't let go
If you can't love babe, then you can't hurt
We take the good times, with the worst
Take your time honey, take your time"
- Rest, Shame, Love by Augustana
Hermione Granger had been standing there for two hours, staring at the stone in front her. Her hand finally reached up and brushed the black marble face, delicately tracing her fingers along the engraved letters. How many times had she traced these letters? How many times had she stood there, staring…waiting?
She sighed, and then a slow smile stretched across her lips as she heard footsteps. Finally. Just the mere rustling of cloth against the ground let her know that it was him.
Her words drifted into the air, more breath than actual sound, almost as though it had merely been a sigh.
There was a long silent pause, leaving her words to linger between the two of them, waiting for an answer, but she heard him take a single step closer, and his voice resonated with the one word he spoke, sending a brief tremor through her body.
She thought carefully about her next words, finally realizing how complicated the situation really was. As she spoke them, she could barely believe that it was really happening, that he was finally here after all of this time.
"You know…no one else will believe you. No one else will understand," was all that she said, but it was enough.
His low chuckle reverberated through the dead air between them and she smiled at his next words.
"You mean, not like you?"
A soft smile crossed her lips once more at the sound of his voice. "Yes…that's exactly what I mean."
He stepped closer and she could feel him next to her, feel his robes brushing against her shoulder. His proximity wasn't in the least bit unpleasant. In fact, it was quite the opposite for her. It was surprisingly reassuring and comforting to her.
"So…a memorial stone?"
Hermione shook her head, a soft laugh falling from her lips. "It was Harry's idea. He hated not having anything to commemorate your heroism, so he had it made. I told him that you would have hated it, and he said he didn't care, so long as you noticed it."
A short bark of laughter escaped him. "Typical Potter."
The silence pervaded once more, but this time obviously less strained. Instead, it was comfortable and it felt as though it were a blanket that wrapped around the body just right, and you didn't want to move for fear of ruining the feeling.
"It's not…" He paused, gathering his thoughts. "It's not all too surprising that you were the one to figure it out after all these years. It just goes to show how truly ignorant some people are…"
She felt his hand sneak into her own, giving it a soft squeeze.
"Yes…I suppose it does."
The silence was longer this time, but no more uncomfortable than before.
She relished the feel of his hand in hers and she unconsciously tugged him closer, needing to feel him near her to know that he was still alive. That he had survived, just as she had suspected only two years earlier when they'd been unable to find his body.
She'd had the feeling that he wasn't really dead. She'd never been able to understand how she knew…but she had. Then it had occurred to her that he must have known that he didn't have much time left, so what would he have done to save himself from that horrible fate? Then she'd realized…it was the only thing that had made any sense. He'd had the access to the required connections to make it happen, and the fact that his hand was slightly cold only proved that she was right.
She finally turned her eyes towards him, and she tried to hold in her gasp at the sight that met her.
A smirk crossed his lips, which were pulled back slightly and revealed rather sharp canines.
He continued to smirk, and she quickly dropped her eyes, ashamed that she'd been caught staring. Of course she knew what he was, but that didn't mean that she'd been fully prepared for the reality of it. The look in his eyes had been practically ravenous.
He tugged her closer and she tried to ignore the fact that he was just behind her and to her left. Just right for if he wanted to…but no. He wouldn't.
Hermione's breath hitched as she suddenly felt his breath brush against her neck.
He slid his right hand from her left, sliding it along her back towards her right shoulder, and moved his left hand to her left wrist, effectively trapping her from behind.
She held her breath as the hand that was now at her shoulder moved up her collarbone and his long fingers slid across her neck, moving towards the opposite side of her jaw. It was the perfect position for him to snap her neck.
Instead, he drew his hand back and moved it behind her and slid her hair from her left shoulder, exposing her neck, and then pulled her in closer.
"Severus…what are you doing?"
She tried to keep the quaver out of her voice, but some fear lingered in her tone and she silently berated herself for showing any weakness to him.
He was quiet for a moment, and then he took a deep breath.
"I was…hoping that you might join me. I am rather...alone." He paused, sliding his left hand from her wrist to around her waist, giving her the option of fighting him if she chose. "Think about it. We would have forever to learn, to know everything there is to know. And even if you don't…care for me now, you could possibly learn to love me as time goes by."
His fingers, no longer holding to her waist, began to trace a faint, irregular pattern across her lower back, causing faint tingles to run through her.
She forced herself to ignore it as she recovered her scattered thoughts.
"Severus…I already do care for you. And," she paused for a second. "I think I could fall in love with you very easily."
At those words, his fingers suddenly ceased their movement. Instead, they now slid back to her waist and seemed to grip her with something akin to desperation. Like she was his anchor in a stormy sea, and to let go was to be lost to the buffeting of the metaphorical emotional storms of the reality of his existence.
She took a deep breath, reminding herself, silently, of what he was and how easily he could hurt her.
His lips barely brushed her neck and she stiffened almost immediately. He couldn't possibly be thinking about it. Not here. Not now.
His canines were the ones to barely brush her neck this time, and she shivered. It would be so easy.
She stared resolutely ahead, determined not to give him the satisfaction of seeing the fear that was growing in her eyes. However, her heart was pounding and she was fairly certain that he could hear it loud and clear.
His right hand tightened on her shoulder, and she knew that he was thinking about it.
It was such a simple thing, but hearing her name on his lips for the first time caused something inside of her to weaken, and the "please" had caused that something to break. She knew exactly what he was asking for…and she could no longer resist.
Inwardly, she knew that she wanted it, though she would never admit it aloud. Instead, she simply nodded.
At her nod, she felt his right hand move to the opposite side of her jaw and pull her head to the side, exposing her neck to him. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain, but was surprised when she felt his lips gently touch her neck, as though blessing her.
"Thank you," was all he said before she felt a stabbing pain shoot through her neck and down her spine, suddenly rendering her immobile.
She wanted to scream in absolute agony, but she couldn't. The scream caught in her throat, held tight by invisible bonds. Then her body began to seize up, her limbs twitching and flailing, but he wrapped his arms around her body and she felt, as well as heard, a few bones crack under the pressure of his grip.
Soon, she felt herself going limp, but before she could drift into the oblivion that was wanting to welcome her with open arms, she felt his own neck beneath her lips.
In her haze, she wondered how that had happened, but she let herself welcome the hot liquid that slipped into the corner of her mouth, and the texture on her tongue was thick and heavy. She found the taste to be heady, rich, almost overwhelming, but surprisingly pleasant.
She was vaguely aware of being lifted into someone's arms, but then she was gone.
Hermione slowly woke and was dimly aware of the fact that she was starving, her hunger gnawing at her insides.
As her vision cleared, she realized that it was early morning…and that she was outside. In the graveyard. At that, she sat up quickly, trying to figure out why she wasn't burning. Then that was when she heard Severus's soft laughter coming from behind her.
She turned her head to find him sitting on the ground, leaning against his memorial plaque.
"Why…why am I not…?"
He grinned. "Burnt alive? Rendered into nothing but dust and ash?"
She nodded her head, trying to understand why he was acting so strange… But at the same time she was amazed at what she was hearing. Was that…? Yes, it was. Termites in the wood of the tree that was just beyond where he stood.
He was still grinning, and that was when she realized what was going on.
A self-deprecating grin crossed her lips right before she said, "So…that's myth number one broken, right?"
He nodded, and then reached out his hand towards her to help her up. She gave him a searching look, trying to understand what his true intentions were, and then she tried to listen to…oh, that's right. He didn't have a heartbeat anymore. In fact, for that matter, neither did she.
But then she realized that she heard it. She gave him an inquiring look, and he smiled once more. "Myth number two, my love."
She looked at his still outstretched hand and took it gladly. He easily lifted her to her feet, showing strength that was obviously more than he'd had since she'd previously known him, causing her to realize that not everything was myth. He gave her a deep, searching look, one that had her squirming uncomfortably under his gaze, wishing she were somewhere else.
Suddenly, however, he used his grip on her hand to pull her into his arms so that her back was flush against his chest and his arms crossed over her midriff.
For a split second, she felt fear run through her…but then she relaxed into his embrace, realizing that he would do nothing to hurt her. His arms tightened slightly, as though afraid that she might bolt from him at any moment. She reassured him in the only way she knew how.
"I'm not leaving, Severus."
There was a long silence before he responded to her reassurance. "I know."
It was strange to be here, but it felt strangely right, familiar, as though they had been in that position so many times before.
As she stood there with him, she realized that she had never felt so complete in her life. For once, she felt as though she fit somewhere in the most absolute way possible. All of her sharp edges were tucked in and snug against the person that knew how to take the pain.
At that thought, a snippet of a poem flashed through her mind…
I haven't lost my way and life isn't so complicated, I don't feel like I'm drowning, I don't slowly fall apart, I'm not wounded at all and my blood does not drip, never in pain, never lost…
She wracked her mind for the title and author, but for the life of her, she could not remember.
Maybe Severus knew the author. She moved slightly in his arms and tilted her head back, so that she could see his faint profile in the shade of his memorial plaque.
"Severus…you wouldn't happen to know who spoke the words I haven't lost my way and life isn't so complicated, I don't feel like-"
He cut her off.
"The poem is called "Never Lost", and it's by a Muggle poet named Beatrice Jean-Baptiste. The poem goes like this: "Deep in my soul there's no dying light, my heart does not cry and is not filled with tears, my heart is not bruised, empty nor torn, but is filled with hope and belief, no pain, no anger inside, I'm strong at heart and strong at mind…""
He paused, and then took a deep breath and continued.
""My memories aren't black like a cold lonesome night, I haven't lost my way and life, isn't so complicated, I don't feel like I'm drowning, I don't slowly fall apart, I'm not wounded at all and my blood does not drip, never in pain, never lost, never frozen…"" He paused again, but pressed forward with the rest of the words. ""My water floats to rivers with no poison, I can breathe, wanting and wanting, I keep moving, keeping my head up, life has a great meaning, wanting and wanting, I keep it moving.""
He finished and she sighed, amazed at what a wonderful lyrical voice he had...and also amazed that he knew the poem.
She stood there in his arms, and she realized that he was much as the poem said.
He was strong at heart and strong at mind, and he constantly tried to move forward, but had been hampered for years in his progress.
As she fit herself back into his arms, snuggling just a bit deeper into his chest, she realized that he, of all the people in final battle, deserved to live on the most. Everyone else had at least had a somewhat fulfilling life…but Severus had never had a chance for one.
This was his chance.
And like the poem said to her…he was never lost. At least, not to her.
"Deep in my soul there's no dying light,
My heart does not cry and
is not filled with tears,
My heart is not bruised,
empty nor torn, but is filled
with hope and belief,
no pain, no anger inside,
I'm strong at heart
and strong at mind,
my memories aren't black
like a cold lonesome night,
I haven't lost my way
and life, Isn't so complicated,
I don't feel like I'm drowning,
I don't slowly fall apart,
I'm not wounded at all
and my blood does not drip,
never in pain, never lost,
never frozen, my water floats to rivers
with no poison, I can breathe,
wanting and wanting, I keep moving,
Keeping my head up, life has a great meaning, wanting and wanting,
I keep it moving."