Disclaimer: Everything belongs to our revered queen JKR; I just play with her creations every once in a while ;)
Author Note: First story, Reviews make me happy!
It had always amazed her that every member of the Weasley family snored.
Hermione rose from the old wooden desk and shifted the heavy window of Percy's room open. The night was mild and the slight breeze still carried the heat of the spent summer's day.
Some nights, as Hermione sat engrossed in her research, she fancied they managed to snore in unison. She wondered how Harry had coped all those years cooped up in Gryffindor tower. Perhaps one Weasley wasn't too loud. Maybe the Burrow simply had fantastic- or terrible- acoustics. Sleep was hard to come by for her anyway, so she supposed the nocturnal symphony was doing no harm.
Moving back across the small room, Hermione curled up with her notes. She was so close to a breakthrough; she could feel it. She had run the calculations again and again. She knew her Arithmacy was right. She knew it could be done. Hermione Grange refused to believe there was no way to reverse her mistake. Prolonged deterioration of memory links after Obliviation could be overcome. Running her hands through her uncontrollable mane of hair, Hermione sighed. She could practically feel the bags forming under her eyes. If only she wasn't constantly tired, she knew she'd be able to think more clearly.
She'd woken up hours earlier at the mercy of another night terror. Yet again, Malfoy Manor merged with the Shrieking Shack and all her worst memories replayed themselves.
Well, her worst memories, and her greatest failures.
A year and a half after the final battle and Hermione still couldn't help but relive all her past actions and decisions. None more so than her choice in the Shrieking Shack.
There was no way she could have left him there.
Her austere potions master, the Order's trusted spy, the murderer of Albus Dumbledore. He didn't look like any of that. Just a man, twitching on the floor, high-collared shirt soaked in his own blood; Hermione Granger knew there was no way she could walk away.
She had trusted Albus Dumbledore, and so she trusted Severus Snape. While Harry leant over him to hear his last strangled breaths, Hermione dug through her tiny beaded bag. Looking at the small bottle of dittany, a wave of hopelessness threatened to wash over her. How stupid was she, to think she could pull this off. She could imagine Snape sneering down at her foolishness. Only he was shuddering on the dusty floor of the Shrieking Shack, long elegant fingers stained crimson red.
Taking in a deep breath, Hermione closed her eyes and kept the panic at bay. If only Dobby could come and save them now. But she knew full well that there was no help left.
Snape's breathing was becoming more and more erratic as he gestured to the pools of silver dripping down his face. His tears. Hands shaking, she conjured a flask and gave it to Harry. Hermione Granger, happy little house elf to the boy who liv-
"KREACHER!" Her panicked shout pierced the tension of the room, and all eyes sparked to hers. Ron's confused blue ones, Harry's watery green, and Snape's empty black. She didn't have time of this. Reaching over she roughly splashed the dittany over the worst of the gaping wound before plunging her hand into her bad and pulling out a blood-replenishing potion. She cut off Snape's screams of pain (dittany was no walk in the park) and poured the purple potion down his throat, angling his mouth and forcing him to swallow. She was sure he would kill her later.
Kreacher appeared with a sharp crack, turning around with wild eyes and a pair of bloody butcher's knives held aloft. Her voice sounded alien to her as she belted out methodical instructions. This strained harsh tone couldn't be hers, surely…
"Take him to the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey should be there. Make sure she treats him, Kreacher. Make them. Tell her to trust us, to trust Dumbledore. Make them. Then get the potion from St Mungo's that they made for Mr Weasley. Steal it, trick them, bribe them, whatever. Make sure you get it."
Kreacher's eyes were wide as saucers as he nodded furiously,
"Yes Miss Mudblood, right away". With a crack he and the limp form of Severus Snape were gone, leaving only a stir of dust and a puddle of blood.
Harry stood gaping at her, vial of memories clasped firmly in hand.
"He murdered Dumbledore. He, the school, Ginny and the Deatheaters- Hermione are you sure?" His tone lacked its usual hatred. The accusations just sounded tired and weary, like Harry didn't have enough energy left for hatred. Hermione simply bit her lip and nodded. Ron was still dumbly staring at the dark pool of blood.
"Right." Harry tiredly rubbed his scar and sighed. "I need the Pensieve. We need to go back to the castle."
They all nodded. Hermione tried desperately to mirror the determined faces staring back at her. As they made their way down the stooped tunnel, she did her best to ignore the blood coating her hands.
Her hands, however, still had his blood on them. Oh, everyone else lauded her actions, and sang praise at her compassion and mercy. What a fantastic victory for the Order that their trusted spy had survived. No harm, no foul, to use the Muggle expression. Oh they'd slapped him on the back and handed him an Order of Merlin, and with that he was out of their hair. Awkward situation averted, no guilt laid on anyone's conscience.
Except for hers, of course. Severus Snape had made it very clear she was to blame. Whether for his continued tortured existence, or the immense scarring, she was not to know. When she had tried to apologise he merely sneered and turned her away. She would always remember him lying in that hospital bed. The standard infirmary robes did nothing to hide the extent of his scarring. Neither did he. He merely glared at her horrified expression. Dittany was one of the most barbaric healing tools. He may have survived, but the once pale skin of his neck and jaw was nothing more than a ragged mound of scarlet flesh. They weren't as much scars as mottled rifts, and nothing Madame Pomfrey had tried would work on them. Hermione's haste had left him this way forever. She had robbed Severus Snape of his beautiful, silky voice.
Shaking her head tiredly, Hermione resolved to clear her mind. All that mattered were the notes in front of her. Dawn greeted her through the dusty windows and it wouldn't be long until the sun plunged them into yet another day.