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!


14. His Chosen One

Like rain trickling down the windowpanes, moments merged and morning flowed into afternoon, its passing marked only by the rustle of turning pages, exasperated sighs, and the soft whumph as one book after another assumed its place in a growing stack on the floor beside Hermione. In the academic setting, the scope of emergency medical treatment seemed limited to regrowing bones and undoing botched spells (petrification of one's classmates was not such a rare occurrence after all). She took a sip from her mug, and grimaced. Her tea, much like the room, had gone cold. While many of the texts had sections addressing toxic ingestion, all tended to hail the bezoar as the "universal antidote for almost all poisons in the known world." Only one mentioned the poison she sought and then, only in an inscription beneath the sketch of a tall plant with pale blossoms and tapered leaves:

Asphodel, more commonly known as Devil's Spike, was a familiar sight in cemeteries between the late 13th and early 17th centuries. Witches would often plant them around graves or at the opening of crypts, believing their flowers protected the living by offering sustenance to the newly deceased. While many ancient poems and ballads refer to this custom, the prudent practitioner, especially if unskilled in the proper distillation of such plants, should always forgo experimentation and consult their institution's Potions Master...

Hermione groaned. While the Potions classroom was the most logical place to look for answers, it was also the place where she'd be most apt to encounter another manifestation of the late professor. "Consult him? Not bloody likely." Though the sound of her own laughter soothed her, something still bothered her, clinging to her consciousness like a stubborn cockle-bur. She reread the passage. Like the poem in the locket, it referred to appetite, only now, as appeasement for the hungry dead. "Late 13th to early 17th centuries," she murmured. A memory of lessons past stirred, history recounted by another ghost, only this one, far more pleasant. Her eyes widened and she sat bolt upright. "Of course! Professor Binns taught us this during Third Year: the Plague of Revenants!"

Now, she recalled his lecture. Born of ignorance, the Plague had swept across Europe, affecting Mages and Muggles alike. Plague, because a lack of scientific knowledge about the nature of death, coupled with numerous superstitions, turned morbid preoccupation into pestilence. Like a virus, it spread like wildfire, compelling those held sway to employ all sorts of spells, charms and talismans to prevent the return of spirits from the dead—in some instances, even digging up and disfiguring their bodies. She scowled. No, not just spirits and revenants, but those believed to have been taken by blood magic and assumed an aspect of its darkness after death: shapeshifters, werewolves, and vampires.

Vampires. The word rang like a bell through her. Undying appetite, protection from its bite, fangs: it fit with the poem in the locket and correlated with the earlier idea she'd had about numinous transference via snakebite. That is, until a certain professor had intruded upon those thoughts. My thoughts, yes, providing answers to a question I hadn't even asked! Even now, she could still feel his strange, deep gaze in the pit of her stomach. A flush swept over her, bringing sudden palpitations that made her tremble. Pale, intense and enigmatic in life, death—if it was death—had given Snape an even darker, more dangerous aspect. But a vampire?

"Aspect, yes," she said, hoping the sound of her voice could quell her racing heart and shaking hands. "Fangs." She turned her thoughts to Nagini, whose markings had resembled those of a python—a hideous and enormous python, but a constrictor, nonetheless. Pythons did not have fangs, so where had they come from? Inanimate Horcruxes exuded a poisonous aura to protect the shred of soul hidden within them: that much she knew. Animate ones, already possessing souls, however, might pose an entirely different set of obstacles.

The soul or the Horcrux: which was the key? Springing to her feet, she began pacing about the room. What she knew of the psyche, the "twin of light" and essence of both life and afterlife, she had not learned in a classroom, Comparative Religion being conspicuously absent in the Hogwarts curriculum. Instead, she focused on lessons from experience. Two souls in the same body always vied for dominance. She knew this was true; having witnessed the effect on Professor Lupin during his were-transformation, as well as in the mind connection Harry had shared with Voldemort. She stopped at a window and drummed her fingers against its wooden sill for a moment; then she crossed to one of the columns, her eyes following the carved ivy up and into its arch: all twists and turns, tangles and knots. Sighing, she leaned against it. During her attack, could Nagini have created a Horcrux or sub-Horcrux, for lack of a better word? Could Snape having captured part of Nagini's essence, use it to transform and ultimately save his life? It certainly helped explain his altered Patronus and its eerie message of a path with neither end nor beginning. She paused, considering the path of the lemniscate, the eternal return. Now, it spoke more to a state of suspended animation than to one of transcendence. Suspended—but for how long? She knew only one way to cast out a Horcrux.

Her stomach did a little flip, leaving behind an unbearable heaviness. Here, finally, was the real reason behind McGonagall's summons: she wanted it—no, not it—him destroyed! A year ago, being entrusted to perform a daunting task by those whom she respected most had filled her with an immense sense of pride and purpose. Senses now usurped by despair and dread, now that she was about to become the newest Chosen One. "With all your power and wisdom, you could see no other way? Whatever happened, he never asked for this. After all he did for Harry, for the Order, for you, this is how you repay him? It's not fair, Professor! It's not fair and it's not right!" Across the room, as if answering, Minerva moaned and stirred in her sleep. Wheeling on her, eyes streaming with righteous indignation, Hermione said, "If there's a way to save him, I will find it. I've had my fill of death!"

Far beneath her, tucked behind a frame in a space where night always held sway, Severus felt the trill of her rising blood, finding its fury every bit as revivifying as her erotic fascination, every bit as exquisite as the ambrosia in her veins. He ran his tongue over his teeth, probing the places where her coppery tang and peppery heat still clung to him. However muddled her reasoning, she had uncovered his essential nature. In doing so and in the keen sting of perceived betrayal that had followed so quickly on the heels of that discovery, Hermione had given him a precious gift; one he'd thought lost. Her fear, now subsumed by fierce loyalty, made her his protector. Let Minerva awaken! Hermione would neither willingly listen nor would she leave. He'd make certain of that.

Light crackled over the barrier. "Eh, what's this?" Hagrid's voice echoed through the chamber. "Hermione, you alright in there?"

"Sorry, just a precaution," she said. Two flicks of her wand set the bookcase back in order and dispersed the charm. "I think all Mr. Filch's ghost stories got the better of me."

"So he's been here then? Good. I was beginnin' to wonder where he'd got off to." Coat swishing, he made his way to Minerva's bedside. "Hate to think of you havin' to spend most of the day up here."

Before she could tell him the truth, bedsprings creaked. "Sweet Merlin, what happened? How did I get—Ooh!" Minerva said, gingerly touching the bandage on her head.

"You shouldn't try to move so quickly, Professor."

Kneeling beside her, Hagrid patted Minerva's arm and said, "You've just had another one of yer whifty spells and bumped your head is all."

Her hands flew to her chest and then, her neck. "Oh, my spectacles—where are they? I hope I haven't broken them again. And my brooch—I must have my brooch!"

Hermione's eyes narrowed.

"Shh, you just lie nice and still."

"Hagrid's right. You've been unconscious most of the day." She picked up the glasses and brooch from the bedside table and handed both to Hagrid.

"It must have been quite a bump, indeed," she said. "In fact, I'm still hearing things. Just now, I could have sworn I heard Hermione."

"You did." She moved closer to the bed. "I came, just as you asked."

Minerva adjusted her spectacles but after taking one look at Hermione, she moaned and tugged at Hagrid's sleeve. "It's worse than I thought," she said, hands tightening around his arm. "I'm seeing things now, too." Pulling herself up, she said, "Oh, please help me back to my room, Hagrid."

"Well, yer not walkin'." He scooped her up in his arms and nodded for Hermione to follow them out of the Infirmary and down the long corridor. "And you're not seein' things, neither. Hermione's here and she's every bit as real as you and me."

"Oooh, stop a moment, Hagrid, please. My head's throbbing," she said. Then, she looked up at him. "What did you say?"

"Our Hermione's right here." He angled her so she could see. "Been with you all day, she has."

Eyes widening, she said, "You shouldn't be here, Hermione. It's not safe. You must leave at once." She motioned for Hagrid to resume his pace.

"Leave? You asked me to come, Professor," Hermione said, struggling to keep up as he hurried to a set of narrow stone stairs, an alternate access to the seventh floor that had escaped damage during the conflict. "You sent me an Urgent Owl yesterday afternoon. I came straight away but Mr. Filch said you'd left before I arrived."

"You've been here all night?" McGonagall's face turned ashen. "Where did you sleep?"

"Mr. Filch let me stay in Professor Snape's rooms," she said.

"He did what? Oh, no! Oh, no no no-no!" With a final moan, Minerva fainted again in Hagrid's arms.


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