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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21. Reparation

Fire crackled in the grate. Hermione stared into the flames, still trying to process everything that had happened. After they returned to the castle, she'd expected her own punishment to take the form of an icy condemnation: a swift imprisonment in the windowless guest chamber. McGonagall did not disappoint her in this, leaving her to pass a silent and restless night from which she'd awoken feeling feverish and slightly queasy. The last time she'd seen the professor so enraged, she'd cast Severus from the Great Hall with a fiery volley. As she recalled that night, comparing it against events of the previous, she discovered an interesting similarity: on either occasion, McGonagall could have killed Severus, but she hadn't. An expert dueler by all accounts, every single one of her shots in the Great Hall had fallen short of their mark, just as last night's fire bolt had whizzed over his head. She can't kill him; she won't. She still believes we can help him!

Outside a door groaned open and the charmed barrier over the door adjoining her room to the professor's disintegrated. "Come down, Hermione," she called. "It's time for brunch."

Brunch? She'd slept longer than she'd thought. Hermione pushed herself off the bed. As soon as her feet hit the floor, a wave of cold washed over her and stars bloomed before her eyes. Bracing herself against one of the bed's carved posts, she took a few deep breaths. When the dizziness finally passed, she donned a fresh sweater and jeans. Filch had retrieved her backpack from Snape's quarters before her impromptu incarceration. When she'd finished dressing, she slung it over her shoulder and made her way through the professor's chamber and down the small stair to the main gallery.

Minerva, who had just set a brunch tray on the table by the large stone fireplace, looked up as she entered the room, but before she could say anything, Hermione said, "Harry left me a spare key to Grimmauld Place. I'd forgotten it was in my pack."

"Once we've eaten, perhaps you could take it back up to your room," McGonagall said quietly, her tone as soft as the fog that pressed its nose against the mullioned windows.

"My...room?" Hermione nearly dropped the pack. "I thought you wanted me to leave."

Minerva shook her head. "I think we both know Severus would never allow it. Seeing you with him last night, the hold he had over you, frightened me more than I care to say. While he's made his feelings towards you quite clear, the ultimate motive behind his intentions still remains to be seen."

"You think he's using me?"

"I wish I knew. Whatever you might think of me, all I want to do is keep you safe. Come, sit down, have a cup of tea and something to eat. You look pale, Hermione. Do you feel unwell?"

"I'm fine, I just didn't get much sleep."

"Nor did I. Last night gave me a great deal to consider. I regret that I've withheld so much information from you, but I'm sure you understand that it was necessary to do so at the time." She indicated a seat on the divan and as Hermione moved towards it, said, "How much do you really know about Severus? How much has he told you about himself or his reason for bringing you here?"

"He needs me—my help, but he's been maddeningly unclear about the details. I can only assume it has something to do with his current state of being. If Severus, as he said, has always been...what he is...how exactly did that happen?"

"The potential for vampirism has always been in his blood." Minerva handed Hermione a cup of tea. After pouring one for herself, she settled into a nearby armchair and took a sip. Then, she said, "You see, before he met Eileen Prince, Tobias Snape had been bitten by a vampire, a fact he concealed until after he'd impregnated her."

"That means Severus is half-mortal," Hermione said.

Minerva nodded. "A dhampir—as if conceiving a child out of wedlock wasn't scandalous enough. It's hard to say which devastated Eileen more: his deception or its unwanted consequence. She was barely older than you when they married," she said, with a pointed look in Hermione's direction, "although she tried to end the pregnancy so many times, Tobias had no choice but to send her to the asylum at St. Mungo's."

"Where is Tobias now?"

"He disappeared under very mysterious circumstances, just before Severus became a student here. Eileen said he abandoned them but..." She shook her head.

"You think she killed him."

McGonagall set her cup on the table. "It wouldn't surprise me a bit. The abuses she heaped on him for being a half-human half-blood—for being born at all—make Petunia Dursley look like Mother Teresa. Not that I'm offering that as justification for his recent misdeeds, mind you."

"That's just horrid," Hermione said, overwhelmed by all she'd just learned. If anything, the professor's revelations raised more questions than they answered. "I've never heard of a dhampir before. Does one need to drink blood to survive?"

"As a rule, no; but succumbing to bloodlust even once turns a dhampir into a full-fledged vampire," Minerva said, as she buttered a slice of toast.

"Murder...the Malfoys, Petunia...It's so similar to creating a Horcrux," Hermione said. The scrape of the knife against bread set her teeth on edge.

"One only splits their soul to create a Horcrux; to become a vampire, transcend mortality, one must sacrifice it entirely. Where there is no soul, there is no conscience." McGonagall nibbled her toast.

No soul, no conscience...Hermione stared into her cup, the questions in her mind roiling like its milky clouds. If he didn't have to drink blood, what set him off? More importantly, was he capable of turning others? She'd already tasted his blood, forging a connection with him that she could still feel, one as palpable as the throb of the wounds on her wrist and the sudden chills that shivered through her body. Was she turning? Having suppressed the potential for his true nature for so long, could Severus have turned her without knowing it? Was there a way to reverse it?

"Reverse what, dear?"

The bones in Hermione's neck cracked as she looked up. "Vampirism," she said, wondering just how long she'd been mumbling to herself. "Severus wants me to help him reverse it; that's why he brought me here. Surely, there must be some form of counter-curse or spell. Vampirism is blood-borne, why couldn't one use Blood Magic to cast it out?"

"Blood Magic?" The professor dropped her toast. "While your knowledge of arcane Dark Arts continues to surprise me, Hermione, the only 'blood cures' for vampirism are decapitation or a stake through the heart."

"Then there must be a way to call his soul back: a resurrection spell," she said.

"Yes, because the stone by the same name worked so well in that regard. The restoration of a lost soul is an extremely dangerous business. You'd do well to remember the Tale of the Three Brothers." McGonagall pursed her lips.

"Extremely dangerous, but it can be done! You know a way!" Wide-eyed, Hermione leapt from her seat.

McGonagall shook her head. "I know of only one way and even if it worked, a soul is not like a dog that comes running when you whistle. There's no guarantee that Severus would ever truly be himself again."

"He's not himself now! No matter how dangerous it might be, we have to try. Severus wants us to try! He's been taking that potion to quell his bloodlust for so long, what if he turned himself too fast and the shock of it is now killing him? I watched him die once, I won't just stand by and watch him die again." Kneeling before her, Hermione said, "Please, Professor, does it matter what he comes back as, as long as he comes back mortal?"

Eyes glistening, Minerva reached out to Hermione, but her hand trembled as she stroked her cheek. "You're in love with him."

Flushing, Hermione stared up at her. "I...I...don't...maybe..."

"You have no idea what you're asking."

"Please, just tell me what I need to do," Hermione said, clasping Minerva's hand. But before she could respond, the flames in the fireplace guttered and brilliant green light flooded its inner hearth with a loud whoosh. Hermione scooted back to her seat, seconds before Arthur Weasley stepped out of the fireplace and into the room.

 

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