Chapter 7: Saving Severus Snape
Snape did not ask Hermione for any more details about Voldemort's defeat. He went about his days as usual, leaving early in the morning and returning very late at night.
The next evening they spent together was filled with silence, as Hermione pretended to be absorbed in her book. After a while, she cleared her throat.
“Any news?” she asked.
“Should there be?” he replied.
She did not answer at first.
“It will happen this week,” she said.
He sucked in a breath and stood.
“Have you anything else to share with me?” he asked, beginning to pace.
“I don't know that I should tell you the exact day or time,” she said. “Just... be prepared.”
The tension in the room palpable, Hermione felt compelled to fill the silence.
“Are you nervous?” she asked.
He scowled and said, “I am... not.“
Snape paused before saying, “It is exhilarating, in a way, knowing I will cheat death. I do not look forward to allowing a bloody possessed snake to sink its fangs into me, if you must know.”
“I always wondered why you didn't even attempt to escape,” she said. “I figured you didn't want him to suspect you weren't loyal and have him... prolong things.”
Snape was still pacing.
“You thought I put no effort into getting Dumbledore's message to Potter,” he said, sounding upset.
“It's not an easy task you were given,” she replied.
He laughed and said, “As always.”
Hermione stood and neatly folded the grey throw, placing it gently on the sofa behind her.
“You must have the Pensieve available to Harry,” she said. “My younger self will help Harry collect your memories, and he will take them to the Pensieve immediately. ”
“It is just as Dumbledore left it, in the headmaster's office,” he replied.
Hermione studied Snape as he continued to pace the floor in front of her. He would learn the truth about Harry soon enough, but she wanted so badly to tell him that Harry would live.
“Will you miss them? The memories?” she asked.
Snape stopped and looked at her.
“No. I should have gotten rid of them long ago,” he said.
Hermione blinked in surprise and said carefully, “It's good that you didn't, since you need them now.”
“They have been useful to me,” he admitted. “After this is done, and the Dark Lord is gone... they will be a burden.”
Hermione frowned and asked, “How does that work, exactly? I've always wondered what it feels like to remove a memory. Is it just gone?”
“There is an imprint left,” he said. “If you are so inclined, you can reconstruct the memories entirely through meditation and certain memory charms. Otherwise, the events in question remain marked in your subconscious in vague detail. Unless you choose to think of them, they do not come to mind.”
“Why don't more people remove their painful memories in that manner?” asked Hermione.
“Likely because you would begin to feel less like yourself if you start forgetting past experiences,” he replied. “Though Healers sometimes use this method to help those who cannot overcome certain traumatic events in their past.”
A silence stretched between them. He sat down again.
“Dumbledore kept my memories of Lily Potter for ten years after her death,” he said suddenly.
Hermione sat down, holding her breath, hoping he would keep talking.
“He returned them to me shortly before Potter arrived at Hogwarts,” he continued. “I knew why he wanted me to have them back, though he claimed it was simply 'time to remember'. He wanted me to suffer, to keep my distance from her son, to make sure I could not bear the sight of him. He did not want me to become attached to the boy. When he returned the memories it was like living all of it again in the same moment.”
Hermione took a breath and said, “Perhaps he just wanted you to remember how much you loved his mother so that you would be protect her son.”
“I had already promised to protect Potter,” Snape said quickly. “Returning the memories was unnecessary. It would have been disastrous for me to feel anything other than contempt for Potter. I would have been dead the moment the Dark Lord returned if he suspected otherwise. Albus knew I would be tortured by her memory every time I saw her son.”
“Maybe he thought the Dark Lord would notice the missing memories,” said Hermione. Snape was silent for a moment.
“Don't defend him,” he said. “He doesn't deserve it.”
Hermione walked over to where he sat.
“Maybe not, but he did believe that love was a real and powerful thing. Even if he had an ulterior motive, I think he would not have wanted you to forget her.”
Snape looked up at her.
“I would never have forgotten,” he said. “The memories he returned grew stronger in my own mind while he had them, so much so that when they were returned they took over my consciousness completely. I relived them constantly – in every waking moment and in my dreams – for weeks. It was nearly three years before they faded back into a normal pattern of memory.”
Hermione felt her face twist into a look of horror.
“That's terrible,” she said softly. “Though it explains why we thought you were trying to kill Harry that first year.”
“Controlling my mind during that time was.... often impossible. I do not know whether the memories weakened with time, or whether my improved skill in Occlumency was such that they were forced to fade into a manageable ebb and flow of thought.”
“Why did you not simply remove them again?” she asked.
“I feared even a brief period of relief would undo the progress I had made in controlling them. In addition, they had such a strong effect on me that they were akin to an addiction. I did not wish to remove them, even though they were sometimes all-consuming.”
Hermione stood still in horrified silence.
“The mental struggle with my own memories prepared me to keep anything I wish from the Dark Lord,” Snape said. “It has proven useful.”
Hermione hugged herself to keep from reaching out and touching his arm.
“I should go to bed,” she said, as it dawned on her that she was feeling something more than sympathy for Snape in that moment.
She took her empty glass to the kitchen, her heart beating too quickly. She heard Snape walk down the hall toward her, his footsteps stopping at the doorway. She put away her glass and turned to look at him, standing in shadow, clothed in black, still wearing his teaching robe, his pale face shining in the moonlight from the window.
“Goodnight,” she said, unable to hold his gaze as she crossed the kitchen. Their paths crossed as he took his own glass to the sink. Hermione shivered when his robe brushed her arm.
“Goodnight,” he said as she walked out, his back to her.
Hermione did not sleep that night. The sort of dreams that had plagued her before coming back in time returned, and now there were others. Interspersed between the visions of war and Snape's bloodied body were dreams of him being carried away by Death Eaters before she could save him, dreams where he still died, this time in her arms rather than Harry's, and perhaps most disturbing, dreams where Lily came to save him instead and carried him off into the heavens, a steady stream of blood pouring from his neck as he floated up and away above Hermione's head.
She woke multiple times drenched in sweat. Eventually, she gave up on sleep and pulled out the texts on Healing Magic that she had been reading for the third time since she began living in Snape's quarters. She still did not feel prepared for the task before her – putting him back together after the attack. It would not be pretty, that much she knew.
The next few days passed in a feverish haze of anxiety and anticipation, with very little sleep. In the wee hours of the morning, Hermione ran into Snape in the kitchen.
“I couldn't sleep,” she said.
“You haven't all week,” he replied.
She sat down at the kitchen table and wrapped her arms around herself.
“It was like this the week before you showed up in the future,” she said. “I think time is trying to punish me for my meddling.”
He did not comment, but joined her at the table.
“I have potions that could help,” he said.
Hermione shook her head.
“No, thanks,” she said. “I'm going to start a fire. I know it's not necessary, but I like it.”
She got up and went to the living room. Soon she was asleep on the sofa under the grey throw, a cheery fire dancing in front of her. She woke hours later to a cup of steaming tea under a stasis charm and a note on a bit of parchment that read:
Dreamless Sleep is in the bathroom cabinet, top shelf.
Hermione was tempted to take the potion and pass out for a few more hours, as it would be the last sleep she got for a long while. Today was the day. In just hours, her younger self, Harry, and Ron would escape from Gringott's on the back of a dragon, and from there the battle would begin.
Instead of sleeping, she paced Snape's quarters, checked and re-checked that her beaded purse was packed and organized, and tried to eat.
Snape did not return to his quarters that evening. Hermione checked the time obsessively. Once night fell she threw the Invisibility Cloak over her Disillusioned body and slipped out of the corner cabinet doors. She waited in the headmaster's office for Harry to appear.
When he did, Hermione felt tears come to her eyes. Poor Harry, about to learn the truth about Snape, Dumbledore, and his fate. Poor Snape, lying in pain until she could rescue him.
Harry wasted no time in finding the Pensieve and pouring Snape's memories in. She watched his body tense as he entered the memories, his face illuminated briefly before turning downward into the basin.
Harry was soon gone, off to sacrifice himself to the Dark Lord, and still Hermione waited. Her mind was screaming at her to go now, while Voldemort was off in the woods waiting, nobody would see her sneak down to the Shrieking Shack... but Snape had told her to wait until Voldemort returned to the castle with Harry.
Finally, she heard Voldemort give Harry his final warning. It was time. The final battle would ensue.
Hermione left the headmaster's office and snuck out of the castle, past the grieving and wounded, refusing to look at them, thinking only of the spells she must perform to save Snape.
She hurried down to the Whomping Willow and through the tunnel, wondering where she was going to find a Death Eater to transfigure into Snape's likeness. Then, she heard voices.
“Oy! What do you think you're doing?” came a voice.
Hermione froze and pressed herself against the side of the tunnel. A muffled, unintelligible response was given.
“I'm the one who's supposed to be staying with the body,” said the first man. “The Dark Lord gave me the job himself. If I wasn't here, I suppose you'd be grabbing up whatever provisions you could find and running. Now, why would you be doing something like that?”
A vehement denial came from the muffled voice.
“Ah, you see, I don't believe any of that,” said the first man. “Because I know that he knows you tried to get information into the castle ahead of us tonight. And I know that you know what the Dark Lord does with dirty traitors – ”
The man's voice was suddenly gone as a great thump signaled his body hitting the floor. Hermione heard the frantic scrambling footsteps of the other party, a Death Eater on the run. He was gone within minutes.
She crept out of the tunnel and hurried over to the fallen Death Eater, who was indeed dead. She grimaced and pulled out her wand. She levitated him over to where Snape lay in a pool of blood. She got the Blood Replenishing Potion – all five vials of it – into Snape and then administered the antivenin.
Next, she went to work on the dead Death Eater. He was remarkably close to Snape's size already, though heavier. She worked quickly, but was so focused on her task it seemed to be hours before she was done. The sight of Snape's body double was frightening – more grisly than his actual wounds, but it would keep anyone from questioning that it was him. She spread plenty of blood over the body double's face for good measure.
Snape's clothes were soaked in blood. She removed them quickly and clinically, then pulled an extra robe from her bag and put it on him. Once the Death Eater was dressed in Snape's bloodied garments, Hermione carefully moved Snape and levitated the Death Eater into the spot he had fallen.
She levitated Snape after making sure she had not left any bloody footsteps around the shack. Then she made her escape into the Forbidden Forest.
It was too risky to Apparate with Snape in such a delicate state. She found a tree under which to hide, not too far into the woods. She did not want the centaurs to find them.
Hands shaking, she removed the robe from his upper body and vanished the blood that had dried on his skin. She had to look away from the gaping wounds for a moment and compose herself.
He had four deep punctures on his neck and shoulder, and two shallow ones on his face. She collected a few vials of blood from the wounds, doused his injuries in the topical antivenin he had given her, then set to work knitting his flesh back together.
The snake's bite resisted the spells, but with persistence Hermione was able to get them closed. She stabilized her spell-work with binding and protective charms, and hoped for the best. She could already see the skin bubbling as latent snake venom was forced to the surface – she collected that as well.
Hermione took a deep breath and tried to stay calm. It was working, she reminded herself. Surface scarring was far preferable to internal infection. Thank Merlin the bite had not been just a few inches higher or deeper. He would not have survived.
Wishing she could spare him the pain of returning to consciousness, Hermione sat him up against the trunk of the tree. Hopefully the potion would wear off soon and he would wake. She watched him like a hawk for the next couple of hours, until dawn had broken and the sun began to rise.
He started moaning after a while, still not awake. Hermione cast a few charms around the tree to muffle the sound. She crouched beside him and brushed the bloody, matted hair back from his face.
“Severus,” she whispered, enjoying the sound of his name on her lips. “Can you hear me?”
He moaned again and his arm twitched. Hermione held his head still with a hand on his opposite cheek.
“Severus, wake up. It's time to come back,” she said gently.
His eyes fluttered open, still unfocused.
“Severus, it's done. You made it,” she said.
He made a choking sound and his eyes tracked over to her face.
“Pain Potion,” he rasped, grabbing her robe and yanking on it until she was nose to nose with him.
“Here,” she said, raising it to his lips. It had been unstoppered in her hand for the past ten minutes, at the ready.
“And you'll need more antivenin, too,” she said, as she lifted the second vial to his lips.
Within seconds, he relaxed his grip on her.
“Better?” she asked.
“A bit,” he croaked.
“You probably shouldn't talk,” she said. “But I don't know how to get you out of here. You're in no condition to Apparate.”
“Jus... do ih,” he whispered, trying not to move his jaw. His eyes fell shut for a few seconds.
“Okay. Okay...” said Hermione, “If you think that's best. Bloody hell, this is a bad idea. I need to calm down. Hold on.”
She stood, then froze when she heard the crash of underbrush.
“All right, Tom?” came a voice.
“Just tripped over a rock or something,” said someone farther away.
Hermione threw the cloak over her head and peeked through the tree's branches. A pair of Aurors were scouring the woods for Death Eaters. They soon disappeared, moving deeper into the forest in their search.
Hermione gathered her wits and checked her beaded bag.
“Do you think you can stand?” she asked him.
He opened his eyes and began to draw his legs underneath himself, leaning to one side on his good arm.
“Wait, I'll help you,” she said, slipping her arm under his. He leaned heavily on her as he pressed himself up against the tree trunk.
“Okay, let's just take... one step forward,” she said, moving away from the tree. “Ready?”
He made an impatient sound. She gulped down her nerves and pictured her destination. They Disapparated and arrived at Grimmauld Place. Snape did not look pleased to be there.
“I know it seems too risky to be here,” she said. “But trust me – nobody will come back here for at least three weeks. Harry and I are the first to step foot in here after the battle. Not even Kreacher will return here, since Harry ordered him to live at Hogwarts and he loves it there.”
Severus was frowning at her. He mouthed, “Potter?”
Hermione realized what she had just said.
“Harry's not dead,” she said. “He survived the battle after sacrificing himself and then somehow came back from the dead. He defeated Voldemort in the end. I'm so sorry I couldn't tell you.”
Severus sunk into the bed where she had dropped him, his eyes falling shut.
“Can you rest?” she asked. “Are you in too much pain?”
He waved her away, eyes still closed.
“Go,” he breathed.
Hermione left for a bit, but returned after he was asleep. She was terrified to leave him unattended, in case her healing work did not hold.
She fell asleep at the foot of the bed and woke before him hours later. Dinner was soup – the Muggle kind from a can, warmed with a spell. He could not swallow without turning white from pain. Hermione administered more potions, the highest dosage she dared. It would have to last.
He healed quickly during the next three weeks, but Hermione still felt compelled to watch over him at night. That is, until he woke her one morning after she had fallen asleep sitting next to him on the bed, her back slouched against the wall.
“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, startling her awake. He still could not use his arm or turn his head, and had only just started talking again.
“What?” she asked blearily as his words registered in her mind. “Oh, ah... you were breathing strangely last night. I was worried.”
“So you decided to sit on me?” he asked.
“I'm not on you at all!” she said. “I was observing my patient for signs of distress and difficulty breathing.”
“Your feet are on me,” he said. “And cold as ice. Haven't you any socks?”
Hermione glared at him and vacated the bed.
“I'll get breakfast,” she said.
He improved greatly during the last week, enough to take care of himself without her help. He claimed to have no pain, but Hermione knew he was lying. She saw how he carefully rationed the last of the pain potions.
“We've got to leave this morning,” she reminded him. He had just woken up and was surly from the stiffness and pain. “So if you're planning on one last hot shower, now's the time.”
He was soon up and showering, and Hermione stood anxiously by the window looking out. She could not remember exactly what day or time they would arrive, but it would be soon.
He came into the room wearing nothing but a towel.
“Merlin's left bollock, what are you doing still in here?” he asked, hastily pulling on a shirt. Hermione looked away.
“Watching for my younger self,” she said. “You've got the only upstairs window with the proper view. Are you decent yet? We really should go.”
He cursed again as he grabbed his clothes and went to change. As soon as he was out of the room, Hermione caught a glimpse of someone Apparating onto the front stoop.
“Severus!” she called. “Get back in here right now!”
He stumbled back into the room, his robe half-on.
“They – er, I'm here!” she said, pushing him aside and shutting the door. They stood stock still and listened.
“Ugh, Harry it looks like someone's been squatting here,” she heard her younger self say. Then, “At least they aren't complete slobs – look, there's dishes done.”
“Do you think they're still here?” asked Harry.
Hermione's eyes widened.
“Out the window, now!” she whispered. She threw it open and jumped through, helping Snape climb out after her. She grabbed his arm and Disapparated from the roof of the front stoop. Her younger self and Harry would walk into the room and find the open window, she suddenly remembered.