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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28. Night Crossing

Darkness roiled below and raged above him; the wind screamed in his ears and rain lashed at his face, but Severus quickened his flight, determined to outdistance the reach of Weasley's wand and the edge of his map. That blasted map! As if Potter and his band of Animagi hadn't buggered him enough with that rank lump of parchment in life, they now sought a posthumous encore through that wretched red head! Hermione had tried to warn him. If only he'd listened, he might now know a place where they'd be safe and unseen! Lightning flashed and the lake rose beneath him, a precarious wall of darkness rolling like thunder, every crash of its waves scattering shadows in its shoals. Further out, near its middle, he knew there was a small island chain, but one glance at Hermione told him she'd never make it there alive.

The first rule of concealment: hide in plain sight. His earlier words taunted him, but when no other choice magically presented itself, he followed the shoreline along the Forbidden Forest. Deep within, he knew of an overhang formed by a long ledge. He'd taken refuge there more than once on his foraging expeditions. Although it offered little else in the way of protection, its distance from the castle might stall Weasley, at least for a time.

Time: the one thing Hermione didn't have. Already, he could feel her blood cooling, her body growing heavier in his arms.

That settled it. Turning, he flew over the forest and when he'd reached its heart, dove down through the treetops.

"You'll be safe here," he said, as he touched down beside the ledge. Safe...The lie tasted as bitter on his tongue as his earlier promise: I will never let him hurt you. What an utter fool he'd been, so blinded by his own arrogance, he'd misjudged Weasley and in doing so, destroyed—

Had she moved just now? He looked, only to discover his rain-slickened hands had just loosened their grip. She was slipping away from him, body and soul, the hole above her heart mocking him with its ragged mouth. Blood pooled in the deepest part of it, but no longer welled. Between Weasley's blow and his thirst, he wondered how she could have any blood left in her at all. "Why didn't you let him hit me? The cast would have rebounded; he'd be dead and you'd be free."

Free...another lie to burn down his cheeks with his tears. He carried her under the outcropping and slid down against the rocky wall, feeling neither its roughness bite into the cuts in his back nor its dampness, only the sudden, terrible stillness of the body in his arms.

Dead stillness.

Eyes closed, but not asleep, she lay with her head thrown back and lips slightly parted. Tendrils of damp hair clung in curls against her forehead, and a few, loose strands, raked by the wind's careless fingers, caught in her mouth.

He pulled her across his lap and kissed her. It wasn't supposed to end like this. She wasn't supposed to end this way! "I know you didn't want this, Hermione," he said, opening his wrist with his long nails. Blood streamed from the cuts, a pale steam rising from them like a ghost. "I know you'll be furious; I deserve that." Voice cracking, he cradled her in the crook of his arm and angled his free wrist over her mouth. Blood slopped against her teeth, her lips, and down her ruined shoulder. "I don't even know if I'm doing this right."

This, however terrible, was true. His Turning, accomplished through more antiseptic means, severely limited his understanding of a process that should have been integral to his very nature. He'd never tried to turn anyone else before: never Minerva, certainly not Lucius or Narcissa, and he hadn't lingered even that long over Petunia, leaving before her body hit the kitchen floor. As far as he was concerned, the last three were necessary casualties of his former life, loose ends, neatly knotted; none of them worthy recipients of immortality's Dark Kiss.

Curse was more like it. He glanced at Hermione. If his blood was working its will through her, he'd be damned if he could tell! How long was it supposed to take? The forest sheltered them now, but wouldn't do so indefinitely, and with Weasley on the rampage, how much longer could they afford to wait?

He leaned over and kissed her again. Her lips yielded against his, but they were still as cold as ice. Did she need more blood? Uncaring of how weakened he might become, Severus dragged his nails down his arm again, letting the long gashes shower her with gouts of steaming, sticky red. Still, nothing happened. He slumped back against the stone. All he could do now was wait. Wait and hope. Forgive me, Hermione, I couldn't let you go, he said, reaching out to her with his mind. Come back to me. Give me a sign!

In the distance, a wolf howled for its mate. Severus raised his head in the direction of the sound, the feral song of longing and estrangement, of soul calling to soul. Long after its echo faded, its desperate ululations continued to resonate in the still chambers of his heart. I cannot sing you back, he thought sadly, turning his gaze back to Hermione's deathly form. I have no song. All my longing and love, no shining beacons to guide you home, only darkness on my lantern: I have no light, no soul. I have set you on the path without end or beginning: a path that you must walk alone.

Guilt crashed over him. Arms tightening around Hermione, he fisted her robe and rocked her, while chanting the strongest healing counter curse he knew like a silent, unholy litany: Vulnera sanentur...vulnera sanentur...Come back, Hermione. Come back to me!

Time tightened its coils about him. Far above, an angry wind tossed the trees and the thunder rolled.

 

 

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