Vespertine

Got Love? Whether it’s unrequited, extramarital, obsessive or completely otherworldly, this fic’s got it covered. Contrary to public opinion, Severus Snape didn’t die at the Battle of Hogwarts. Although he’s not exactly “alive,” he is on a mission to possess the very thing that eluded him in life: love. While love might be the best revenge, it’s never easy. When murder and madness are part of the mix, desire has teeth—and this kind of love really bites!

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29. Dressed in Blood

Finally, she stirred, making a sound like that of a small animal deep in her throat. "Hermione, can you hear me?" he whispered, his voice trembling with both anticipation and dread.

Her eyes fluttered open, confused and fearful at first, but then softened when they found his. "Severus," she said, thickly.

"Yes, I'm here. I've been waiting for you." He tried to smile, but a lump rose in his throat.

"I dreamed," she said, her voice still heavy from a sleep that lay beyond all rest, all dreaming. "Lost in the dark...I heard you..." trailing off, she struggled to sit up.

"Do you remember what happened before your dream?"

"Light...Pain..." Cloth rustled and he made no move to stop her as she braced herself against his shoulders and rose on shaky legs. "Then snapping...more pain..." Her hand moved to her chest, to a wound no longer as wide or weeping as it had been. "Then, nothing...Then you called...You called and I came..." The hand stopped and she looked over him, her dark eyes focusing on some unknowable spot in the distance.

She looked like a sleepwalker. Having discovered students in the midst of their somnambulistic rambles, he was no stranger to the almost-drunken swaying stance, the thousand-yard stare, and the fragmented speech. Even her voice sounded far away when she said, "I feel different..."

"Yes." Severus watched her, afraid to say more on that subject. If waking a sleepwalker posed certain hazards, he could only imagine that agitation in the hands of a new vampire. He wanted to go to her, but his knees buckled when he tried to stand. "I'm fine, Hermione," he said quickly, although she hadn't asked, wasn't looking at him at all. He noticed the punctures on her neck had disappeared. "I think I just need to—"

Her panicked voice cut him off before he could finish. "I can see, Severus. I can see in the dark! I see...trees. Trees?"

So much confusion in those eyes! So many questions, stealing across her face like storm clouds. "Yes. We're in the Forbidden Forest," he said, slowly. Never having experienced this degree of disorientation with his own Turning, he now found himself in a situation that left him completely poleaxed.

"Everything's so clear...I can hear..." She cocked her head. "I can hear the grass crackling..." Throwing her arms around a large tree, she pressed her ear against it and said, "I can hear the scratch of claws, the hum of wings..."

"Indeed?" The too-high pitched giggle that followed this sent a frisson of fear through him. With her new nature came a host of heightened senses, sensations that were now flooding her. Again, this was an area in which he'd had precious little experience: thanks to his blood heritage, his own powers of perception had been abnormally enhanced before he became a vampire. Terror rising, he watched her spread her arms and spin in the rain, her robe flapping about her like an enormous black wing. He had to stop her before her skin started singing or the night wind began whispering in ancient tongues: before the enormity of the situation drove her to utter madness.

He cleared his throat sharply. She looked at him. Good. "We came here because we had to leave the castle. Someone found us, Hermione. Do you remember?"

She tilted her chin and sniffed. "Wet dog..."

"A wolf, I think. I heard it earlier, before you...." He only hoped it was a wolf and not attar of Weasley. He scanned the woods, but could see nothing.

"Weasley," she said, echoing his thoughts. "Weasleyfoundus..."

Severus nodded. "He found us. We argued. Do you remember what he—"

Her eyes grew wide as saucers. "He shot me! Here!" She pulled the robe away, revealing pale, unblemished skin. "Gone," she said, her fingertips tracing over the spot. Then her hand flew to her heart. Her lips moved, but Severus couldn't hear what she was saying. When she looked at him again, new fear found him: the sleepwalker had most definitely awakened. "I'm a—you made me a—a—vampire," she said, eyes blazing like coals. "How could you?"

"I had no choice. Would you rather have died?"

"Yes—no—I don't know! Oh, gods!" She turned away.

"I know it's not what you wanted. You made yourself quite clear on that point but your wounds were too severe." Pulling himself up by a nearby tree, he stumbled over to her. "I'm sorry, Hermione, but I couldn't bear the thought of losing you."

"But you have lost me, Severus, don't you see," she said in a small voice.

"Don't say that, Hermione!"

"Don't call me that!" She wheeled on him. "I'm not Hermione anymore! I'm not me anymore, Severus! I'm this—this—thing!" She pulled at her tangle of wild hair and clutched at her robe. "You've made me a monster!"

"Out of love for you! And you're no more a monster than I am," he said sullenly.

"Love? Right. Because you loved your own immortality so much you preferred drowning it in a potion to becoming something so unnatural. Yes, I believe that was the term you used to describe it earlier: unnatural," she spat.

"Things are different, now." He knew how banal this sounded, even before she snorted. "Circumstances are different, but my feelings towards you haven't changed. Herm—"

"How many others have there been, Severus?"

"Others?" he echoed.

She ticked the names off on her fingers: "Lucius, Narcissa, Petunia—I know you hypnotized Mr. Filch—'Master,' indeed! And you did something terrible to Professor Trelawney too, something so heinous, it drove her mad—and now, I make six. Six, Severus! How many more have you lured into your trap, used as your personal blood bank?" She pummeled his chest with her fists. "I trusted you! I wanted to help you! I cared about you and I thought you cared for me, too.No! No, don't touch me," she cried, twisting free when he put his hands gently on her shoulders. "I can't look at you! Just leave me alone! Leave me!" She stomped over to a fallen log and stared into the rain.

"Before you, I Turned only one other."

"Just stop! Stop! I can't listen to any more of this!" She clapped her hands over her ears.

"You will hear me," he said, his words knife-edged. No longer shaky, he strode over to her and pulled her hands to her sides. "I went to great lengths to bring you back, but my purpose was never entrapment! As for my role in the war, I had a part to play and though I loathed it, I played it to the last, even engineering my own death at Voldemort's hands—and would have died, had I not taken a certain measure beforehand."

Her eyes flashed in the gloom. "Whose blood was it, Severus? Whose life did you sacrifice?"

"Mine."

Silence stretched between them, the tension in each moment thrumming like a living current. Finally, in a small voice, she said, "I watched you die."

"And I regret that, truly. I hadn't anticipated your discovery. When I saw you there, when I heard what was in your heart—"

"No, stop! Please! It's all too much! I can't—I just can't!" Breaking free, she ran away from him, crashing through the brush.

"I couldn't stop thinking about you!" He raced after her. "I dreamed of you, dreamed about being with you. You'd completely bewitched me. Before that night, I'd only caught flashes of your thoughts, glimpses of your daydreams at times in class."

That stopped her. She turned to face him. "Is no private thought safe from you, Severus Snape?"

"If one excels at Occlumency, yes," he drawled.

One corner of her mouth twitched.

"You loved me then, but I needed to know that your feelings were not some schoolgirl fancy," he said, softly. "That is why I summoned you back to Hogwarts. That is why I chose to give myself, my gift to you—you and you alone. I have never wanted anyone more than I want you, Hermione. That is why I Turned you." Trembling now, eyes gleaming, he knelt before her and clasped her hands in his. "I love you, Hermione. I love you."

"I want to believe you, Severus, really, I do. Before this happened, you were all I thought I ever wanted but I—I just wish..." She stared over his head and into the darkness.

"I would do anything to prove it to you." His blood had made her immortal, but it would take more than words to turn her heart. "Anything at all, Hermione," he said, thinking the squeeze she gave his hand a sign of reassurance.

Then Hermione screamed.

 

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