Fandom: Harry Potter
Spoilers: Post Deathly Hallows, slightly AU
Prompt: 172. Harry Potter - Snape/ Hermione - Nagini's bite didn't entirely kill Snape. But how can she remove the curse without making his death permanent?
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any related characters. All belongs to JKR.
Summary: Hermione knew that Nagini's bite wasn't the end… at least, not yet it wasn't.
Author's Note: I really hope that whomever wrote this prompt likes what I've given them. I adore this ship, but I'm afraid I didn't get to the shippy-ness enough… if that makes sense. Even still, I still hope it's a good story that you can all enjoy! Written for zombi-fic-ation 2013 and for my hc-bingo square, severe/life-threatening illness. Also, I'm a day late posting this, and I apologize. I'm 31 weeks pregnant and my stomach decided it was going to explode on me. Not pretty.
Ron and Harry didn't understand. They hadn't studied like she had studied. When Nagini had bitten Severus Snape, both the boys had labeled him as dead and gone. And Hermione had gone along with it, even helping Harry gather Snape's memories. But, once Voldemort was dead, once Hermione had shared her moment with Ron, she had snuck away. The sun was rising, and it was brighter than Hermione had ever thought she'd seen it before. Lips pursed, she made her way back to Severus Snape's all but forgotten body.
Harry, in the briefest of moments, had shared with her what he had seen in the man's memories. Hermione knew that time was not on her side, no matter how she looked at it. Either the venom would spread and finally do what everyone thought it had accomplished already, or Harry and the remaining members of the Order would remove the body and give it a proper resting place.
But it wasn't just a body. Not yet.
Hermione found Snape right where she had left him, the bite that Nagini had given him blacken and spreading out from its point of origin. Hermione sighed, pulling out her wand. Thank Merlin, she still had time. Harry had mentioned a part of Snape's memory, Snape stopping the curse of the ring from spreading any farther than Dumbledore's hand. The principle of what Hermione wanted to do was not much different… only what the end result would be if she failed. She fell to her knees beside the Potions' Master, and waved her wand over the wound. She muttered the words, and said a quick, silent prayer that it would work.
A moment passed. Then another. Was she wrong about Nagini? She was sure that she hadn't been. Another tense moment, and then finally, a gasp. Sputtering as if he had almost drowned, Severus Snape's eyes flew open, his hands grasping at her arms. He was confused, as he should be, but he was quick to recover. Hermione could see the effort within him, making himself focus all of his attention on Hermione. A dark brow arched.
"Miss… Granger?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
Hermione smiled, nodding. "It's a long story, Professor, but we have to go. Now."
"Go?" he asked, even as he allowed her to help him to his feet.
"I'll explain on the way. But time is an issue here."
He seemed ready to argue, to ask more questions, but Hermione was honest with him. At the moment, there was no time. Grasping the weakened professor, she apparated away.
It had been hours since their arrival. Hermione had taken him to the Order's old headquarters, Sirius Black's old home. She knew it would be some time before Harry or any of the others would think to return here. There was too much cleaning to do at Hogwarts and the Ministry—places far more important than an old house with minimal significance. She had written to Ron, to explain away her sudden absence. She told him that she had gone after her parents, to restore their memories. This wasn't a total lie. After all, she intended to do just that… there were just other things to be done first.
Hunched over a bowl of soup that Hermione had hurriedly prepared, not a drop of it touched, Snape shook his head. His breath was still a little ragged, and Hermione wasn't entirely sure if the hunched position had to do with a tiredness… or if it was another effect of the venom.
"A death snake?" Snape said, finally glancing up at the young woman.
She nodded. "I recognized the markings when I saw Neville kill Nagini at Hogwarts. I knew then that you weren't gone."
"Not yet," Snape said through gritted teeth.
Hermione sighed. "Not because of this, if I can help it."
"But can you, Miss Granger? You may have been Hogwarts' top student, but this might be a tad out of your league."
Well, he sounded like his old self. Hermione crossed her arms, eyes set in a glare on her former professor.
"Would you prefer I not try? Would you rather face the consequences of that?"
Snape straightened his posture, his lips in a thin, grim line. "Are you waiting for a thank you?"
Hermione's eyes widened. "No."
"Then why are you doing this?"
"Because nobody deserves to die like that. Especially you."
He laughed, and it was a sight that Hermione realized she had never seen. It might have been nice had it been at a joke, but as it was, it was cold, unyielding.
"Especially me? Not hours ago, Potter and the rest of you were ready to throw me to Azkaban for aiding the Dark Lord."
"Voldemort," Hermione corrected automatically. "He's dead. There's no reason to fear the dead."
Snape grinned. "Given my current predicament, I'll beg to differ."
Hermione's eyes flew to his wound, still black, and wondered if her spell was still holding. He had changed clothes, apparently still having one of his infamous black robes stored away here in the house. He saw her look, and huffed. Reaching up, he undid the first several buttons to his garment until he could pull it away, revealing the injured shoulder.
A large, black, festering wound that looked more like inky tentacles had covered his entire shoulder. But it had spread no farther. Hermione sighed.
"My spell's holding," she breathed.
"For now. The venom is strong… I feel it."
Hermione didn't respond. Instead, after a moment of silence, Snape continued.
"I'm not hungry… not for soup, anyway. It's… gnawing at me. I can feel it, deep down, scratching to get to the surface. My thoughts are… fogged. And, Miss Granger, as I sit here across from you, they occasionally drift to wondering what your pale flesh would taste like."
The young witch stiffened. This was the death snake's venom. Zombie juice was the more common name of it. Not a very fancy or convoluted name, but an appropriate one. Once the venom completely cycled its way through one's body, you were no longer human. You were dead, but no rest would come to you. Instead, you would walk the night, feasting on the flesh of humans and always craving more. You lost most motor functions, and all coherent thought. The vocal cords deteriorated until only grunts and moans could be managed.
"Don't worry, Miss Granger," Snape sighed, lifting his spoon and forcing down a sip of soup. "It's just at the edge. More than simple enough to fight off. But you must know, from what Potter learned from my memories, that the spell you used is not a permanent solution. For Albus's hand, I was able to buy a year. This poison is stronger than that curse. Nine months, at best… six at worst."
"I intend to cure you long before then, Professor."
Snape huffed. "And how do you propose that? There is no known cure to this venom."
Hermione's hands curled on her lap, hidden away underneath the table at which the two sat. "I intend to change that."
"Well, for my sake, I hope you succeed."
It was hard to keep slipping away from Ron. And Snape had long been moved away from the Black's old house. Harry had done his part to declare Severus Snape a hero of the war, and the Potions' Master, secretly alive, found it all terribly amusing.
She had rented a flat—using stored funds that Severus had managed to gain her access to—and housed him there. It was in Hogsmede, but it was far enough removed that many did not bother with it.
She told Ron that she was busy with research for a job she was scouting after completing her Seventh Year—he had thought it mad enough that she had gone back to school. And, being one of the heroes of the war herself, Hogwarts did little to make sure she stayed within its halls.
She entered the flat, the chill of September setting into the air as she closed the door behind her.
"I brought you some more supplies," she said, dropping a sack full on a nearby table. "Professor?"
From within the flat's kitchen, he emerged into the sitting room. Hermione sighed. The venom was spreading, slowly. She did not know how far down it reached on his chest—he assured her not much farther from the last time she had seen it—but it had grown a bit to creep farther up his neck.
"How are you today?" she asked.
Snape shook his head. "Horrible."
Her brow furrowed. "The… cravings… Are they getting worse?"
He nodded, taking a seat on the sofa. She nodded, turning toward her sack.
"I thought so. I don't know if this will bring any relief… but I thought it might."
She withdrew a wrapped parcel, blood soaking through the brown wrappings. Snape's eyes all but lit up, and he leaned forward.
"Raw meat," Hermione said. "Still bloody. It's beef… but it might help take the edge off."
He rose from his seat, snatching the meat from her as if she might pull it away at the last second. He undid the twine, unwrapped it, and inhaled deeply. Serene bliss covered his face as he bit into the meat. Hermione's hand snaked to her lips, trying to hide the small gag that had occurred. Three bites in, his mouth covered in blood, Snape stopped. He looked down at the meat, then back at Hermione. Hurriedly, he re-wrapped it and disappeared from the room. When he returned, his face was clean and the meat was nowhere in sight.
"What have you brought to try on me today?" he asked.
"Another herbal cure. Possible. Possible cure," she said, withdrawing a bundle of small, purple flowers from the sack.
"Do I ingest them?" he asked, sitting back on the sofa.
"No. I, um, pack them into the wound."
Nodding, he undid the top of his robes once more. Once they were pulled away, she was more than relieved to see that he had been truthful. It had not spread any farther on his chest. Plucking the flowers as she moved, she sat down beside him.
"This may… well, honestly, I have no idea what it might feel like," she said.
"Can't be worse, Miss Granger."
"Maybe… this is best," Snape had uttered during one of Hermione's many tries.
The venom had spread, consuming almost half of his torso. Hermione smacked him, hard, on the arm. He seemed amused by this, but said nothing.
"You can't think like that," she scolded. "You can't."
"I've done a lot of bad, bad things, Hermione."
She was taken aback. Several months gone, and this was the first time he had addressed her by her first name.
"You're a hero," she said, when she could manage a retort.
"Isn't it wonderful what dying will do for your reputation?"
Hermione stood, glaring down at him. "I won't have you like this."
"You're giving up. I won't have it."
"How many cures have you tried?" he asked, wearily. "And how many have worked?"
"I'm just not… I'm not thinking outside of the box enough. That's all."
"I'm running out of time, Hermione. How long do you think I have left? Three months? Four? The meat you've been bringing me isn't enough anymore. I still… I still hunger."
"I'll figure it out. I will."
If she had said that being alone with the Professor now didn't scare her at all, she would have been lying. The venom was almost completely spread. His motor functions were beginning to get impaired. And though speech was something he was still capable of, she could see that it was a struggle.
"Kill me then," he said at this meeting.
She had just confessed that she was all out of ideas. Eyes glassy, she shook her head.
"No. No! There has to be something! Something I've missed."
Snape sighed, his chuckle ragged. "You've… you've tried every magical treatment possible."
"I must have missed something."
"It's time to give up, Hermione. Please," he said.
Every magical treatment… something sparked. Was it really that simple?
"I have one more idea," she said, leaping to her feet.
She dug out an old cauldron from the kitchen, dragging it into the living room. Then, she whirled on Snape, undoing his robe.
"What—?" he managed in surprise.
"I'm doing to suck the venom out," she said. "It's an old muggle remedy. I've seen it done in hundreds of movies."
"Too… dangerous!" Snape protested.
His limbs lifted, trying to push her off of him, but he had lost a great deal of strength over the past few months. She had the top of his robes down in minutes, batting his hands away as if they were nothing more than flies.
"It'll be fine," she said, bending over the source of the wound—the puncture wounds Nagini had left behind.
"No…" Snape argued as Hermione's lips wrapped about his neck.
It was working. She did not even have to look to see. She could taste the sour venom filling her mouth. She sucked in as big a mouthful as she could handle, turning to spit it into the cauldron. She was careful. Careful not to swallow and possibly condemn herself to this fate. She had the former Potions' Master pinned, sucking as hard as she could at the wounds. Every so often, she turned away, spitting into the cauldron. She repeated the process as long as she could until, finally, strong hands gripped her arms, pulling her back.
She pulled back, eyes wide. That had been the clearest he had sounded in months. When she forced herself to look, she could hardly believe it. The black, festering wound was all but gone. She turned, spitting into the cauldron.
"Once more," she said.
"Granger," Snape said warningly.
But she ignored him, launching herself forward. She was at the end. That sour taste of the venom was still in her mouth, but it was quite a bit less noticeable than it had been at the beginning. She pulled away, spitting the last of it into the cauldron.
Snape's breaths were heavy, but it had nothing to do with the pain of the venom now. He smiled up at her.
"I didn't give you enough credit," he said. "You've saved a dead man."
"You're not dead," she said.
"But I am. As far as your friends and the rest of the Wizarding world are concerned."
Her brow furrowed. "Then…. Then I'll fix that too!"
Snape laughed and eased her off of his lap. "I'm sure that Mr. Weasley would be more than happy to hear how you saved me."
"What do you—?" but she stopped, a deep blush coloring her face.
"I think I like being dead," he said, a hint of mirth in his tones. "Will you still come visit?
"Why wouldn't I?"
Snape shrugged. "Perhaps your project holds no interest to you anymore."
"You're not a project. You never were."
"Then what am I, dear?"
At this, she paused. Shrugging and shaking her head, she sighed.
"I'm not sure. A man? A hero? A friend?"
"I like friend. Though, I'm not sure how you are going to go out into the world and share your, ahem, cure."
At that, Hermione laughed. "Maybe I'll figure something out for that too."
Snape returned her laugh. "I'm sure you will."