Author's Note: This is just a quick one-shot I wrote...contemplated breaking it into chapters, but then realized I didn't have nearly enough there. I tend to be heavy on the description and scarce on the plot, but it's there, under the pretty words! Hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Characters don't belong to me. Story does. But not the world.
Through everything, she found him. Through the darkness, the smothering presence of evil, the rubble, the remnants of people she loved closing in around her, through it all, she found him. She crawled, pulling herself along the ground until her face was scratched by stones and covered in dirt, her robes even filthier than they had been when they had been touching her. She had found him, and she would use every last bit of strength in her body to get to him.
When she reached him, he was lying on his side, back to her. Her desperate fingers found his shoulders and tried to turn him towards her. She feared only the worst when he fell, finally, onto his back, unmoving and staring at a starless, emotionless sky. Immediately her eyes filled with what she knew would be very dirty tears. She bent over and buried her face in his bloodstained robes. “Goddamnit…” she muttered, muffled by the heavy fabric. “I…I wanted to tell you.”
She continued speaking in a somewhat possessed manner, temporarily unaware of the violent jets of light nearby, unaware of the giant green, glittering sign now hanging densely overhead, unaware of the screams and yells issuing from those still moving. She spoke to a button on his coat, unable to look him in his eyes, unable to see the nothingness, the stillness of death that must be lurking there. “I couldn’t tell you. You were my teacher. You were mean to me, cruel, even. Never giving away anything. And you were my teacher.” Something exploded loudly nearby, and she heard the dull, unmistakable thump of a body hitting the ground. “But yet, the hours spent working with you were far more enjoyable than anything I’ve ever done. Maybe I’m a masochist. The verbal abuse a constant challenge, sparring with words, arguing over ingredients…you sharpened me. My previous admiration could only grow in the light of your instruction, your daily achievements. Even despite people calling you turncoat, calling you treacherous, cowardly…you always did your duty to the Order. Others may overlook it, and you may never have spoken to me about it, but of course I would know. I’m not stupid. I don’t believe I’ve ever really loved anyone before, but I know I love you. I don’t necessarily know how, or why, but I know it’s true. And now, fate would take you away. And I never told you. GodDAMNIT!” she yelled, beating her arm uselessly to the ground. And she let her eyes roam, finally finding his.
She was slightly taken aback to find them not lifeless, but moving, sharply. They promptly locked with hers the moment she dared to take him straight on. Something welled within her as realization washed over. “But…” she whispered. She ran a tentative hand along his stiff arm, all the while studying his face with its eyes still moving. Then she pulled out her wand. “Ennervate.” She hissed the incantation.
Like a blessing, he silently rose to a sitting position. His silhouette was dark, the backdrop of flickering curses throwing him into harsh relief every so often. Then he turned, and looked at her. His dark eyes seemed to drink her in. His hands groped through his robes, then around the ground, searching for his wand, but all the while, his gaze pierced her.
“Professor…?” She talked again to the button on his coat. She too had risen to a sitting position. Her hand was raised, as though about to touch him, to confirm his prolonged existence, but she could not move herself to actually do so. It hung there, useless, in the middle of the extraordinary revelation. Their bodies were touching, just barely, her knee brushing his hip. Then she felt his hand take hers, more gently than she would have thought, and lower it, slowly, back to her side.
“Hermione.” He spoke her name for the first time. It was everything and nothing like she’d imagined, and his tone was impossible to decipher. The smell of death whirled around them but his hand was still on hers. And then there was the feeling of being snapped backwards, very quickly, and the world closed in on them and they thought no more.
“Ah, Severus. My…loyal…servant. I heard you were dead.” The man turned to face another, black-clad wizard. “Dead, Mulciber. Really? What an unfortunate confusion. But you I will deal with later.”
The Dark Lord stood, regally, on a slightly raised platform. Hundreds of witches and wizards surrounded him, all lower, all either kneeling, or lying down, bound. The sun was peaking just above the lip of the horizon, sending long fingers of light poking discreetly through the haze and smoke of the previous night’s battle. Outside the ring of people were the dead, some lying neatly, side by side, others thrown into a haphazard, unceremonious pile. At the very top lay Harry Potter, glasses missing, limbs flung in every direction, blood in rivulets down his face and seen beneath torn robes.
“Today we begin. Today, we rebuild this world. Those with the extraordinary gift of magic will reclaim our position of power. The champion of the weak, the Muggles, the filthy blooded, is dead. I had the great pleasure of disposing of Harry Potter, finally, just last night. Those who ever counted themselves in his league will suffer much the same fate shortly. But first, I must turn my attention to this man here.” Voldemort paused, and turned to face Snape.
“This man…the trickiest of all. Many believed him to be on their side. And for all the world, so did I. How very unfortunate. For him, that is. He could have been my downfall. But alas, no. And now, I will get my revenge. Will you talk your way out of this, Severus? Try to plead your innocence?” The snake-like eyes narrowed on Snape, who did not return the look, but instead sought out another.
Hermione was bound, silenced, in the inner circle, awaiting her chance at death. She stared at Snape, like a woman dying of thirst staring at an oasis, with all things wretched, all fear, all sorrow, all longing clawing maniacally at her insides. When he spoke, it was heard by all, but directed to her and her alone.
“I have been stupid. There is much I did that I regret, and much I never did that I regret just the same. But I do know that I love you. I wanted to tell you.” And he fell silent. Slowly turning away from her, he met the Dark Lord’s eyes.
When he died, he did not look anguished. He bore the look of a man waiting. Slightly bored, and put-off by someone’s lateness, almost as though he would check his watch in a moment, just to see how many minutes had gone by. His eyes never closed.
When she died, she had the look of someone anxious, but excited. She looked as though she were running towards something, a hope, a dream, a lover just around the corner, waiting with an impatient air and outstretched arms.