Author's Note: To be perfectly honest, this fic is a mixture of two things. On one hand, it's inspired by the music video to Ed Sheeran's song “Give Me Love”. (If you have not seen it, I do really love it and recommend it.) But despite having the idea rattling around in my head for aaaaages, I couldn't make anything come of it until I got a prompt from lily-mj-fae on Tumblr. She said: “I heard you were looking for SS/HG prompts. There's a OTP prompt that I've wanted for them for so long and i'm feeling tragic, so I thought I would submit it: Person B is about to die, from a gaping wound, and instead of calling for help, they call Person A and carry on a completely casual conversation, making sure to mention how much they love them before they run out of time. “
But it's me. I need happy endings. I can't quite do that, and her prompt actually filled in the gaps for the song-inspired goodness and this was born in the middle of the night on my cellphone while I should have been sleeping because I'm sick. Many thanks to Toodleoo for doing a quick beta-read and catching my many errors!!! :)
It's me, I promise it ends happily But for this journey you may want tissues.
Give Me Love
He never should have gone alone. That was his thought as he lay dying on the filthy stone floor. He should have taken his partner. But then, he reasoned, she may have been injured or worse.
Yes, it was better this way. No one would miss him. Still, he found his hands at his neck, pressing down to try to stop the flow of blood that had him gurgling and rasping.
To think, he hadn't died seven years ago to the Dark Lord, back when he hadn't cared, but tonight he was going to die thanks to some fucking morons who thought they were dangerous. Instead, they were stupid and had gotten lucky.
His vision was going black and he was finding it harder to breathe.
And then, suddenly, with very little ceremony between one quiet, laboured heartbeat and the lack of the next, Severus Snape died.
It was common knowledge in the Wizarding world that some passed on and some remained behind. You couldn't really count Inferi, but ghosts were commonplace enough.
Dementors, too, were a by-product of dark wizards. The difference was that their souls were able to fester and grow their numbers. This was not common knowledge, of course, and the Ministry liked to keep it that way. It was half the reason they used the Kiss, after all. Population control. Consumption meant no extra Dementors hanging about.
The least-known phenomena would eventually be studied.
Some magical folk, you see, having died, became cupids.
Hermione rubbed her eyes and went over the photos again. She needed a clue. Something. Anything to tell her what had happened to him.
The blood pool was there, and though magic had confirmed that, yes, it did belong to Severus Snape, and that the amount of blood loss was fatal, there was no body.
No drag marks.
No trace of transfiguration.
Blinking back tears, she wiped at her cheeks angrily. He shouldn't have gone without her. They were partners, for fuck's sake. Merlin only knew why he'd taken up with the Aurors, but he had, and he'd been shuttled from partner to partner until he'd landed with her over a year ago.
He shouldn't have been alone, Hermione thought, putting down the entirely unhelpful photo and going back to the case file. She should have been there. Her heart ached at the thought of him lying there, alone and dying.
He's not dead! she told herself fiercely. There's not body. He's a potions master, no matter what the board says, and he's not bloody stupid. It's only been a month and he hasn't turned up. He's got to be out there somewhere.
The problem was that she was the only one looking.
Hermione looked over the notes written in a cramped, spiky hand, trying to decipher his reasoning that night. She was convinced that if she could somehow retrace his steps that she could find him.
"Again?" Ron asked, his voice full of disbelief.
Hermione shrieked, dropping the case file and jamming her wand under his chin before it registered that he was no threat. She relaxed, her wand disappearing into a sleeve once more.
"'Mione, he's dead."
"He's not." Her voice was firm.
"Well if not dead, then he's finally run off," Ron reasoned.
Hermione glared at him, picking the file back up. "Without any of his things? He hasn't been home at all, nor St Mungo's or Hogwarts. The blood wasn't preserved in any way, he was injured and didn't seek help. No one matching his description or magical signature has booked any sort of transit. And I haven't found any trace of Polyjuice in any of his things. He's alive, Ron."
The red head threw up his hands. "You're mental. You've really gone and warded his property? How much longer do you think Kingsley's going to let you run your own investigation?"
"It took six weeks to find Pembrooke," she said quietly. "We never closed his case. He was an Auror, too."
"Right. Well, I was just stopping in to say hullo before I went home. See ya."
Hermione watched him go. At least he'd had the decency this time not to say that people had liked Pembrooke. That they'd cared about him.
She was determined to find Severus, even if she was the only one who cared.
Severus awoke, as much as he ever did, on the small dingy mattress he'd claimed as his own. Not that anyone could see him, he'd realised.
He was exhausted. Every day was growing more and more tiring, and yet he still forced his eyes open and went about what passed for his afterlife.
He dragged himself off the mattress and to the filthy bathroom. He didn't need to take care of any physical needs, but at least he had a reflection. He turned and craned his neck to see every angle.
The wings were definitely getting worse.
Growing the damn things had been painful, and he'd found himself clawing his way out of his robes as the gleaming white had burst from shoulder blades. They had been beautiful then, when he'd first found the quiver and bow. White and full. Oh, he couldn't fly very well with them, but he didn't need to.
It hadn't taken long for him to realise his task. He had been unable to leave the room until he'd picked up the bow and quiver, and when he'd first come across some couple shyly making eyes at each other, instinct had made him draw and fire a silver-tipped arrow at them both.
His lips twisted as he picked up the quiver. It never emptied, and he figured this was a sort of punishment. For what, he wasn't certain, but he probably deserved it.
No, definitely deserved it, after his sins.
Severus repeated them to himself like a mantra most days, a way of keeping himself going. He dragged his darkening, bedraggled wings and his smooth bow. He'd dropped some of the smaller sins and kept the bigger ones for the sake of time.
Gotten Lily killed. Killed Albus. Lusted after a former student. Didn't have the decency to off himself.
The words rattled around in his head even as he drew and fired.
Gotten Lily killed. Killed Albus.
The quiver never emptied, and his hand never plucked the one different arrow from the bunch.
Lusted after a former student.
He knew what it was for, with the black fletching and obsidian arrowhead. The last sin on his list.
Didn't have the decency to off himself.
He was standing in the middle of London, staring blankly at the entrance to the Ministry, when he noticed someone staring at him.
Severus's head whipped sharply to meet the eyes of a worn-looking cupid. Her lips were dry and cracked, her eyes tired, and her wings were almost as dark as his.
"Hello." Her voice cracked but she seemed not to care.
"Hello." It felt strange to speak.
One black eyebrow rose. "How long what?" he bit out.
She sighed, a sound like dying leaves. "How long have you been a cupid? I haven't seen anyone else in days."
"A little over a month," Severus said curtly.
She looked surprised. "Then you're the oldest. The others I've met hadn't stayed so long, nor mentioned it."
Others? Curious. "You?"
"Two weeks. And I'm already so tired. Is it hard?"
Severus thought about the woman he was waiting to catch even a glimpse of, of how it had been to sit at his desk across from her every day. "No and yes."
The woman looked impressed. "The last one of us I met... He's gone. I saw him do it, turn into a real person, lying there out of nowhere, dying. People screamed." She blinked back tears. "He just...couldn't do it any more. Apparently we all can't. Do you think we finally move on?"
Severus laughed, the sound harsh and mocking. "Move on to where? We're clearly not wanted."
"That's not what I was told," she whispered. "We're to find the love we never got in life."
"No wonder we end it." His voice was bitter on the wind and out of the corner of his eye he saw that chestnut brown he'd been waiting for. He turned to watch Hermione leave late again, her steps almost sluggish on the way to the Apparition point.
"Perhaps." She gave him a wan smile. "But if I can spread even a little love, that will have to do, won't it?"
"It doesn't matter," Severus said.
"I wasn't wanted, once my parents found out I was a Squib," she said softly. "I was almost two. A lot of the others...they're so young. I hope they find love, after they're gone."
Severus held his tongue. Hermione disappeared around a corner. He wanted to follow her. He owed her something, for the little light she'd unwittingly shed in his life. Maybe if he followed her, he could find her a match.
He looked over at the other cupid. On impulse, he wished her luck. He doubted he'd see her again.
Hermione found herself scanning the streets on her way to and from work, as if Severus was watching and waiting for her to find him. It was an utterly insane thought, she knew. Sometimes she even thought she'd smelled his aftershave, or heard the familiar rhythm of his footsteps.
Guilt was devouring her, making her crazy. If only I'd done more, she kept telling herself.
Maybe if she'd been more open with him, he wouldn't have gone alone. At best, if she'd revealed her feelings to him, he'd have switched partners and been off the case.
Five weeks, five and a half, she'd lost count. Ron had stopped coming by. Nemsy, one of the filing clerks, had started leaving pastries on her desk. The other girl was sweet to care, but Hermione simply wasn't hungry.
She had to know what had happened to him. It consumed her.
That fragrance again, the feeling of eyes on her, and Hermione's head jerked up, scanning the room. Nothing. No one. Just cold tea on the corner of her desk growing colder.
Severus held his breath as she looked around their office, letting out when she looked past him once more.
He had given in the urge again today to follow her, this time to work, and was surprised to see she was working solo.
More surprising, his desk was untouched. It sat just as he'd left it, minus the notes that had been put into the file that Hermione was thumbing through.
That was most surprising of all, really. That the Aurors had opened a file. Well, Hermione had, and was clearly working the case on her own time.
It touched him that she was trying, and his heart wrenched to see how she was neglecting herself.
He added it to his mantra of sins. It was probably his imagination but his wings, molting now daily and nearly as dark as his hair, felt heavier with the burden.
"Where are you?" she whispered to the file.
"Here," Severus replied.
But of course she couldn't hear him.
Today had been the most difficult. Waking was like swimming through mud, and forcing himself to get moving was worse. Every step ached and he used the bow as a crutch now. The instinct to turn and fire at couples was gone.
He was running out of time, he thought, but he had to see her. Just one more day, he told himself.
Gotten Lily killed. Killed Albus. Loved a former student. The woman he loved was neglecting herself because of him. Didn't have the decency to off himself.
Right. He'd told himself every day that it was the last day. But he had to see her. He wanted Hermione to find love.
Severus watched her almost hungrily, noting that she'd lost more weight and that the circles under her eyes were darker.
She deserved better.
He wanted it to be the last thing he did before he went, finding her the love he should have shown her. Severus didn't care if he was the one who loved her or not. She deserved better. So she would never become what he was now.
His lungs burned as he took labouring breaths on their path through the bowels of the Ministry. No instinct to fire, to pierce her or another with an arrow, arose from their journey.
Severus glanced into his quiver. One arrow was all that was left next to the black one, but it was almost translucent.
He was running out of time.
Hermione froze as she entered the room. "Stop! Stop it! What are you doing?! Leave it alone!"
Her wand blasted the hapless two Aurors away from Severus's desk. Harry, the only one who'd had the sense to move when she'd entered, held up his hands.
"Hermione. Please. It's been seven weeks. We—you have to assume he's gone."
"I can't," she said, stricken. "Harry, I know he's out there. I can't abandon him! He'd do the same for me!"
Her best friend tried to embrace her, but she drew away. "Harry, please..."
"Hermione, Snape is gone. We haven't even found a body. I'm so sorry." He motioned for the other Aurors to leave. "Kingsley's closing the case today. Cold file."
"No," she whispered, staring at his chair. Severus couldn't be gone.
Harry sighed softly. "Look—I'll give you today, okay? Take what you need. You're killing yourself over this, Hermione. I'll clear it out after you've gone home. You can't...you can't do this to yourself. I'm sure Snape wouldn't want you to, either. I...I'm sorry we couldn't even find his body to give you closure."
Hermione stared dully at Harry and accepted his awkward pat. She watched him leave, warding the door with a flick of her wand before sinking to her knees and sobbing. Her heart was breaking.
How could she come to work without him here? Without even the reminder? It was killing her, knowing she'd failed to bring him home. He couldn't even rest peacefully in a grave! She would have nothing, just a marker and an empty plot and an empty desk.
Severus blinked, touching his face and surprised to find tears. His heart was breaking at her tears. He couldn't even comfort her.
Gotten Lily killed.
This was his fault. He should have given her closure.
Selfish of him.
Fell in love with a former student. Who was neglecting herself, her career, her friendships, because of him.
There was one arrow left.
The very least he could do was off himself. Leave a corpse for her.
"Hermione," he whispered. The bow was gone. The quiver was gone. His wings burned as feathers fell. The arrow was smooth and sturdy in his hands. "Hermione, I'm sorry. I lo-I loved you."
Hermione inhaled sharply, her head turning. He knew she couldn't see him, but still he watched her eyes as he plunged the arrow into his heart.
The arrow stung, worse than dying, worse than the Cruciatus. He gave a fleeting thought that at least she would have some measure of closure.
Severus crumpled to the floor, feeling the warm stickiness of blood spreading under him.
Hermione gasped as the impossible happened. Severus was there—shirtless, dirty, and bleeding from a gaping wound in his chest.
She gave a wordless cry as he crumpled, crawling across the tiled floor and cradling his head in her lap. He was solid! Solid and real. Hermione pressed her hands to his wound; the blood flowing weakly through her fingers warm. Severus? Oh, god, Severus! Oh, please, don't die!"
His eyes searched hers. Yes, pain or not, this was a better way to die than before. "Hermione..."
"No, no, no, don't speak," she babbled. "Just—just hold on. You can't die, alright? You—you owe me tea still. From the last case, remember?"
She was drawing her wand, trying to seal his wound. Severus tried to dissuade her, knowing she couldn't see the arrow protruding from it.
"Don't," he croaked. "It will be alright."
"It won't," she said, switching tactics and summoning potions. He complied, swallowing them all willingly. The pain was immense but he could endure it, prolong it for even a heartbeat more with her. "You're going to live. I'm going to make you live, Severus—don't you shake your head at me—and we'll be better partners for it. We'll do lunch together. See a museum. Go to a bookshop. Something-something normal. You can't leave me."
Her tears splashed onto his face and he forced one hand off of the shaft of the arrow to reach up and caress her cheek. He frowned at the smear of blood he left behind.
"I don't...want to," he managed. He wanted, needed, everything she'd said.
To go out.
To spend time with her.
To stay with her.
Hermione gave a strangled laugh, and he recognized the next spell as the one to alert an emergency medical team.
"So don't. Please, you can't leave me." She bowed her head until her forehead touched his. "Severus, you can't. I can't lose you."
He shook his head. Everything was going black. He couldn't see her any more. His heart was labouring, slowing. Dying hurt. Leaving her hurt more. "Hermione..."
Her breath hitched. "Please, Severus. Stay. I—I need you to stay. Even if you never speak to me again, I need you alive and well. I—" She choked and he felt the press of her lips to his cool skin. "I love you."
And just like that, the arrow seemed to compact in on itself before it shattered outwards.
He gasped, pain radiating from his heart and suffusing all his limbs. He could see her again, her stricken face, so lovely, stained with tears and blood. The feathers he'd left behind were a brilliant white, and they scattered as the emergency team burst through the doors.
He felt both lighter and heavier than before. Relieved of his past, his sins, promised a new future.
Hermione clung to his hand, unsure what had caused the light, the explosion. But Severus squeezed her hand, his black eyes fathomless. His grip was growing stronger, more sure. She knew what words his lips were forming, unheard by the healers.
He loved her.
He was going to stay.
And they lived happily ever after.