The Devil Within Chapter 10
There was no other word Severus could use to describe how he felt at this precise moment. Unaccustomed to the feeling, especially ascribing the word "glib" to anything associated with himself, he felt free as his strides took him on a quick stroll around the lake.
He was sure that within a day or two, he and Miss Granger would have found their way around this curse. Curing her and putting an end to this insanity. He was as sure of her feelings for him now, not understanding them at all, yet acknowledging their validity.
Once they were free of this, he decided to let fate have her merry way with them both. He would take his time. He would court her. He would let them both explore the newness and the pleasure in—
He heard the crack and spun; his wand already pointed at the source. In that brief second before casting any spell, he recognized the witch as she barreled toward him.
Severus, however, kept his wand at the ready by his side, seeing Molly Weasley in such an alarming state, he bristled at whether not aiming was going to cost him his life.
Molly bore down on him like a Dementor, a wraith, some wild thing feral and angry…and she was already screaming at him as she bolted toward him.
No wand in her hands. No wand in her hands. He stood still, catching snatches of her wild rant, watching her to see if she were going to do him harm.
"Not another one of mine!" She was crying. Frantic. She stopped just a few paces shy, sobbing, "Severus, please! I don't want another one of my children to die!"
"I will not harm your boy, Molly-" Severus held up his hands, trying to motion her to calm down.
She looked at him confused, like he was speaking a foreign language, before she realized that he didn't understand anything she said from the apparition point to here. "Hermione, Severus. I don't want HER to die!" Her trembling hands clutched his sleeve and she began dragging him toward the castle.
"Molly, stop. We are making progress-"
"You don't understand! He did this to her FIVE DAYS AGO, Severus! I don't care if you have to get down on your knees and beg her to marry you. I don't care if you sire a quidditch team in front of me, YOU HEAR ME! Please…you just save-" He could hear the pain as it constricted her vocal cords, already worn and frayed. She couldn't continue, but he was already running, somehow realizing that he had Molly Weasley in tow.
Her hand tightly gripped in his, and he wasn't even trying to shrug her off of him. Somehow he knew if he let go of Molly Weasley's hand at this moment, his whole world would uncontrollably spin until it burst into fragments.
Somehow this woman was channeling his own feelings and projecting them into the universe, and he held fast, squeezing as tightly as he thought she could bear, perhaps tighter, he couldn't tell. In an odd way, her wails comforted him. Never had he felt a kinship for any of the Weasley clan, but this—the most gentle of battleaxes—was here by his side in hopes of saving Hermione.
Her body was in full seizure when he barged into the room. Finally, Molly's and his hand broke free from one another. He scrambled over scrolls, just a glance made him realize that even in her condition, she was trying to write notes, although he couldn't decipher any of it as being legible. The jagged scratches on the paper mimicked his heart rate as he scooped her into his arms.
Severus felt Hermione's body go limp for a moment, only to have her grab him with both hands and crush herself to his chest. It was a gasp for breath, as if she couldn't breathe during her fit, and she labored to tell him what was happening. "Miscalculation" Gasping, "So sorry!" Another set of inhales, and her tremors started to increase yet again, even with him holding her. With a new lungful of breath, Hermione finally churned out, "I fought it, Severus. I don't want to die with my fingers in my knickers." She tried to joke about it as the tears begin to flow down her face. Her body stiffened, and her smile morphed into a grimace. He could see her fading. His heart was trying to beat out his chest as he saw he had only seconds.
Knowing death so well is a double edged sword.
"NO!" Severus gripped her head and looked her full in the eye. "You aren't going to die, Hermoine. I will be damned if I let you leave me here awash in a sea of dolts!" She was slipping further, he could feel her going. "Please! Hermione. Stay!" He gathered her up and squeezed her to him, his face buried deep in her hair. "I couldn't take it if—Hermione, Please, I love you. Don't leave me here alone."
He kept murmuring, feeling her body go limp completely in his arms. He knew she was gone. He felt a hand on his back, the warm, small, soothing hand of Molly Weasley, and he gripped even tighter to Hermione, and in the forest of her hair, he wept unashamed. Grieving as he bared his soul in whispers to Hermione's ear.
From Molly's point of view, it looked as if Severus and Hermione were in a lover's embrace, hearing Severus whispering what sounded like whispers of undying love and unyielding devotion, but as she averted her eyes, she saw Hermione's upturned hand, lying still on the covers. Molly had to turn her back to the scene, staring at the sun dipping lower in the sky.
She couldn't see them, although she couldn't quite remove her hand from Severus's shoulder, as if rubbing small circles on it could ever erase the pain.
It was the second hand on his back that alarmed Severus, He felt it run from his hip, slowly up his side. He grabbed at the source, at the same moment breaking his death-grip on Hermione to look at her. It could only be her hand moving from that angle, and Severus looked down at the half-lidded appraisal staring back up at him.
He sputtered in disbelief, and gently cradled her head back in his hands. His tears rolled down, wetting her cheek and lips, and she weakly smiled, "Thanks, I was thirsty."
Molly's joyful cries went unheard by the couple on the bed.
Severus barked out a sobbing noise only to pull her to him. He rocked slowly once, twice, and on the third time, he gently reached forward to the small glass of water on the bedside table. Offering her small sips, he alternated between kissing her on the top of her head and slowly rocking with his body as he cradled her. "I don't understand how it happened, but I am most pleased you are still here, and am not about to complain."
Hermione emptied the glass eventually, and slid her hand ever-so-gently to his face, positioning it to look into his eyes now. "I love you too, Severus." To which his only reply was a slow and gentle kiss.
At one point, the two regained their bearings, and realized that they weren't alone in the room. Severus bristled slightly, but Hermione's hand on his arm kept those negative thoughts at bay. The couple silently viewed the man before them.
At some point, Molly must have left, and now Albus Dumbledore stood to the right of the door, the small book clutched between two hands as he read from it like scripture. His was not a face of mirth at this moment, but of dawning understanding.
It was not the act that followed that had saved his life those many years ago, but the declaration itself the key. Had the words…the sincere words…not been said aloud, no amount of intercourse would have saved him.
And while Albus realized that Severus had finally found true love in this lovely young woman, his heart couldn't fully rejoice for the two.
If this was the case, then….
Albus shook off his realization and focused on the pair.
Hermione was tucked under the covers, Severus perched slightly behind her, one foot still anchored to the floor as his arms ensconced the recovering lady—a long set of cradling arms her pillow and brace from the outside world. "If you two need anything, you know how to reach me." And with that, he walked to the bedside table, fished out two large bars of chocolate after much to-do from his robes, and gave the briefest of smiles before wandering out of the room to ponder his own history.
Hermione dragged her father up the aisle, gave him a peck on the cheek and all but shoved him back toward the first aisle where her mother, and Molly and Arthur sat.
She giggled as she bounded up the two small stairs to the altar where Severus waited for her. His grin was barely contained as she took his hands in hers and looked on to Albus to get started, eagerness clearly written all over her face.
Severus noted the blush on her cheeks was definitely real as it went from pink dusting to a blossoming red. He knew she was happy; her smile unstoppable and all because they were finally going to be wed and they'd be ready to make good on all those fevered promises they'd made hourly since her recovery months prior. She whispered that revelation into his ear before they parted for the night, just before she went to bed.
He felt a pride he had never before felt as she gazed at him, flashes of devotion, and love, and desire hit him in waves as she gazed deeply into his eyes.
Albus wasn't quite finished reciting the full incantation for their hand-fasting when Hermione impatiently tugged at Severus' hands, pulling him closer to her. Obviously in her opinion they were done, and rolled up onto her tiptoes in order to deliver a very promising kiss.
In the small gathering totaling all of seven, Severus allowed himself to fully experience and enjoy this public display with his loving wife, unabashedly and whole-heartedly.