Disclaimer: These aren’t my characters. I’m just snatching them for a spot of entertainment.
Thanks go to CocoaChristy for beta reading this for me.
I’ve written this for NotSoSaintly as a birthday gift. This is part two of a trilogy, which I have plotted out in my mind. I will be posting one chapter each day until all three are posted.
Hermione blinked rapidly upon opening her eyes in attempt to lessen the bright glare. Her head felt extremely heavy, her throat painfully dry, and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was floating on a raft in choppy water. It was as if her entire body was swaying to a dizzying beat.
“Are you with me?” asked a soft, silky voice.
Snape. Her eyes popped open fully and focused on the dark shape sitting next to her. Everything came into focus—the room, the bed, the scent, him. It was the same cottage she’d been staying in. “Wh—”
“Don’t try to speak until you’ve had some water,” he said soothingly, taking a glass with a straw from the small table next to her bed and extending it towards her in an attempt to give her a sip.
She shook her head slightly. “N-no…” It could be poison—something to keep her from escaping. But what was she doing back in this bed? Hadn’t she jumped from a cliff? Why wasn’t he acting like Harry again?
“I assure you it’s only water, Hermione, and if you intend to ask any number of the questions lingering in your mind, you’ll need this… for your throat. I’m certain your medicine has left you dry-mouthed at the least.” Again he moved to place the straw against her lips.
Needing the water, she warily accepted his offering, her throat rejoicing as the cool substance slid down and moistened it. She couldn’t detect any foreign taste, but then, why should she think that she could? He was a master of potions, was he not? He could easily lace a poison into anything, and it wouldn’t be easy to detect.
Moving her head to the side to indicate she wanted no more, he placed the glass back on the table and then looked back at her, brow creased slightly in… worry. This was something new. Last she’d seen of him, he’d been sneering at her and casting a Stunner in her direction.
“Professor! Stop!” Hermione yelled, wand pointing at him shakily. “We just want to talk to you.” The dark lighting of the room made him nearly impossible to discern amongst the blackness. His sallow, sneering face, though, seemed to glow.
“Forget talking!” Harry said coldly. “You’ve a lot to account for, Snape! Who cares if you’ve been sending those notes under the pretense of helping us!”
“Yeah,” Ron added. “And you can start by—umph!”
At that moment, a Death Eater hit Ron in the head with a heavy vase, shattering it all over the room. A shard cut through a gloved hand and caused a shriek from his attacker. It was a woman from the sound of it—one who had no wand and was now dodging Harry’s hexes. Not paying attention to Snape was a mistake she shouldn’t have made, but she’d turned her head for an instant and was promptly disarmed and tossed back against the wall magically. A jet of red light headed for her, and she only managed to move aside at the last second, causing it to hit the wall and bounce off towards the ceiling.
This had drawn Harry’s attention, and he was concentrating on trying to outwit Snape. In the end, Snape was able to Disapparate, taking the Death Eater with him and leaving a wounded Harry, a knocked out Ron, and a winded Hermione in his wake.
“We were only going to talk to him,” she said, crawling towards Harry, wishing the professor hadn’t taken her wand.
“Can you speak now?” Snape asked.
“Wh-why did you stop me from hitting ground?”
He sat back and stared at her for a long moment. “Hit ground?”
“From the cliff… I jumped off.”
“Hermione, you’ve not left this bed for several days now,” he said quietly before rising and beginning to pace in front of the bed.
“But, no, I escaped you! I found out you weren’t really Harry,” she said in confusion, voice finally sounding like her own.
This made him pause and turn to look at her with a surprised expression. “I wondered what was going on, what with all that mumbling you were doing,” he said quietly, finally moving back to sit next to her. “Tell me everything you remember.”
“No,” she said firmly. “I won’t tell you anything. Where’s Harry? Why do you have me here?” He reached for her hand, only to have her snatch hers out of reach. “Don’t you touch me!” It then hit her full force. They’d had sex—him disguised as Harry. He’d lied to her, used her, and toyed with her… but why? Tears welled in her eyes as the shame and disgust washed over her, warring with each other and attempting to make her even more miserable than she felt. “How could you?” she asked brokenly, sobbing slightly.
“How could I what?” he asked seemingly distraught.
“How could you take advantage of me like that? Have sex with me under false pre—”
Snape sat back in his chair as if he’d been slapped. “Are you saying you remember nothing from before?”
“I remember you living here with me and pretending you were Harry, giving me hope, making me think we still had a chance to win this war!”
This time he leaned forward and took her hand in his forcefully. “Hermione, no, I never did any such thing. We’ve been living here together in hiding for well over a year after the Dark Lord won, and when we became lovers, it was you who approached me first. In fact—”
“What?” she asked shrilly. Nothing made sense. She felt hot, cold, dizzy… “I thought I was making love to Harry, and your glamour dropped! I… Oh, my God.”
Hermione could see the blatant hurt in his eyes as his hands slipped away from hers. A sudden vision filled her mind.
“Yes?” he asked, looking up from his book and pushing over so that she could sit next to him on the couch.
“I’m tired of sleeping alone.”
“Are you saying that you want me to sleep in your room with you?”
“I want you to make love to me,” she said softly, leaning closer and pressing her lips against his uncertainly. There was a thud as his book hit the floor, forgotten.
“There was something… We did… I’m so confused.” Her tears began anew, this time from frustration.
“How could you confuse me with Potter?” he asked, lower lip curled in disgust.
“I don’t know. Something’s just so wrong. What’s wrong with me?”
Visibly swallowing and taking a deep breath before speaking, he said, “So much has happened. Things with the war. You couldn’t cope with all that had happened to your friends… to you. We discussed it, and in light of your depression, mood swings, and inability to deal with what you witnessed, experienced, and partook in, you wanted to turn to medicinal potions to help you. You were taking two each day.”
“But… no, that doesn’t make sense. They wouldn’t keep me dazed like this and make me lose my memories.”
“It seems that you thought you were better and opted to stop taking them, without telling me, and I must admit that I wasn’t the wiser, aside from a couple of small rows, as you seemed fine. However, you began reading in my journal, and I’m afraid you became upset—dramatically so. You revealed you’d stopped taking your potions, and I knew immediately that you were having withdrawals from their absence and your old symptoms were crashing down on you.” He looked away.
“And I tried to force you to take them, causing you to run out—where you slipped and hit your head. You’ve been unconscious off and on since.”
“You’ve started giving me the potions again?”
“But it seemed so real—my life here…” Her hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, no, is Harry dead?”
Snape shrugged. “We do not know. He simply vanished. Some think he made a Horcrux in the event that he failed, but he’s yet to resurface.”
“He never made one,” she said softly, feeling as if she’d lost her friend all over again. What troubled her was that his explanation seemed too good to be true. Why could she not remember more? She closed her eyes and tried to draw any memory.
“I think your memories will return in time,” he said as if guessing what she was attempting. “I can only say that you’ve tried to blot out everything that’s been hurting you. Will you tell me of all you remember? What you dreamed of?”
She spent the next thirty minutes describing everything she could remember and listened as he told her what he thought. The more he spoke, the more things made sense.
“So… you think that I imagined living here with Harry because it was the safest thing for my mind to imagine?”
“Yes. So long as you remained safely tucked away with him here,” at this he frowned, “you didn’t have to face the fact that all of your friends are gone, that the Dark Lord now rules our world with a vengeance, and you didn’t have to cope with all that you’ve seen and done. It makes sense—a self preservation if you will, self-imposed detachment.”
“If I love you—er, do I love you?” she asked suddenly, cheeks reddening. Shouldn't she be able to feel it still?
He smiled tightly. “I’d like to think so.”
“Do you love me?”
“I’ve come to, yes,” he said immediately, nodding firmly.
Part of her felt suddenly at ease. He would take care of her. He would help her sort this mess out. Snape. No, Severus… Another part of her wanted her to ask questions about Dumbledore’s murder, about the help he’d secretly given them, about their life together… Was it wise?
“How did we end up here together?” she asked finally.
“Think about it. Try to remember.” He moved to lie next to her in the bed, and she felt only a little unease with it. There was something familiar about his body lying next to her, the touch of his hand on her face, cupping her cheek gently and gazing into her eyes intently.
Ron was screaming loudly as a Death Eater cast a Cruciatus at him, and Hermione turned her head, not wanting to watch his writhing body as it flailed about. It was then that she noticed a man moving along the shadows of the cave. It was Snape. He drew near and put his finger to his lips as a command for her to remain still. It wasn’t as though she could speak through her gag anyway, but all the same, she nodded minutely, pretending not to hear the laughter and taunting—Ron’s torture.
Snape lifted his hand and opened it to reveal Harry’s glasses. So it was true. Harry was gone then. Why was Snape not joining his comrades in their fun then? Why did his eyes look haunted? She’d long since thought he was only in Voldemort’s camp to carry on Dumbledore’s work, even after all that had happened, had always imagined there was some explanation for his treachery.
“Leave this place with me,” he whispered. “There’s nothing more we can do for him—or anyone else.”
She said nothing, eyes wide.
“I’ll only ask once.”
Feeling only a minute amount of guilt, she nodded vigorously, wanting to leave the place before the others made good on their threats. There was nothing she could do for Ron but to escape and find a way to make things right. If Snape was the only way out, she’d have to take it. She would mourn him later… avenge his death later… avenge Harry’s as well.
Severus lowered his head slowly; closer and closer to her mouth, he moved. She licked her lips and prepared herself for his kiss, but turned away at the last minute. Something still wasn’t right. Thoughts of Harry flashed through her mind. How could that seem so real and what had supposedly truly happened seemed so staged?
“I just have a lot to be taking in right now,” she said quietly, not meeting his eyes. "I can barely think straight. It seems like only yesterday that I wanted to die, that being dead was better.”
“We’ll start over again. Our life together will come back to you. I swear it.”
At the catch in his voice, she turned to meet his intense gaze. She unexpectedly remembered kissing him heatedly, hungrily tearing at his clothes, riding him until they were both sated… his eyes closed in ecstasy and his head arched back as he murmured her name as he filled her.
“Severus,” she said softly and met his lips in a soft kiss, losing herself in him, his taste, his scent, and the feel of his body against hers.
Yes, he would help her, he would help her reclaim their life piece by piece, and all would be well.
Minutes later, he reluctantly pulled away. “It’s nearly time for your second potion. Would you like to take it before or after a light meal?”
“I’d really like some toast,” she said, smiling for the first time.
He nodded. “I’ll be back shortly.”
Watching as he left, she willed any lingering uneasiness to disappear. He was right, and what he’d said had made sense. She’d take her potion and continue to get better. It was no wonder Severus had replaced Harry in her “dream.” It was simply her mind finally pointing out that her reality was wrong, that another one awaited her.
Although she was somewhat dazed and confused with all that had happened, she stretched languorously and slid down beneath the soft duvet, waiting for the return of her prince and her meal… and then the medicine that would help clarify things, help heal her mind.
Southern’s Notes: And so, the second chapter has been appended. Any comments? Bwahahaha. I wonder if things truly are this easily explained and brushed aside? The final chapter is forthcoming.