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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30. The Wolf and the Dragon

Severus was on his feet in a flash. "Werewolf," he snarled, baring his fangs at the shaggy creature that had burst through a patch of briars and now stood not fifty yards from them. Close behind, wand light bobbed through the trees and he could hear the pounding of feet and the snapping of branches. 

Bathed in the glow of unnatural moonlight, Sybill flexed her claws and growled at them, but instead of pouncing, shook her long mane and howled. Then she began rocking back and forth on her haunches, repeating Severus' name in her guttural, broken speech. While barely human, her voice was still brimming with shock, and betrayal.

"The moon will weep," Hermione whispered.

"What are you talking about?"

"Trelawney! Her prophecy!"

"You think that's her?" Severus snorted. "That's impossible."

"No, it isn't. Greyback snatched her from St. Mungo's."

"Something else you might have mentioned," Severus hissed. "How long have you known?"

Before she could frame a retort, Weasley picked his way through the bushes and sauntered to the creature's side. Bidding her follow with a wave of his wand, he advanced on the pair, saying, "Do you see now, Sybill? While you waited, pining after your darling Severus, while you endured kidnapping and torture at the hands of a monster, your precious Severus abandoned you!" Halfway to them, he stopped. "You don't need a crystal ball to see he's been carrying on with a mere slip of a girl—and one of his students, no less!" His gaze flickered to Hermione, taking in the nakedness beneath her open robe and her curious lack of wounds. "Ruined her too, from the look of it; such a pity, Hermione, you had so much potential, but now, no decent Wizarding family will want anything to do with you—including mine!"

Fists clenched white, Hermione silently glowered at him.

Sybill snarled again, spraying Weasley's face with droplets of thick, white spittle. Recoiling in disgust, he wiped his face with his coat sleeve. "All in good time, Sybill."

"Going to sic you doggie on me? What an unforgivable waste of a good curse," Snape drawled.

"I'd prefer to use an Immolatus, but my wand is otherwise engaged."

"That's a coward's tactic, Weasley, although I'm sure some of your fellow inmates in Azkaban will give you a hero's welcome."

"Oh, I'll be a hero, but it won't be anywhere near Azkaban!" He raised his wand.

Nearby, Hermione heard the slight but unmistakable whoosh of apparation. "You won't get away with this," she said, joining Severus.

"Stay back! You're not strong enough to fight." Hissing, Severus unsuccessfully tried to wave her off.

"No, not until I feed, isn't that right!"

Severus pushed her aside. "Hermione, please, if Trelawney bites you—"

"I'm not leaving!"

"Quarreling already? Didn't take long to shake the dew off that lily, did it." Weasley laughed hollowly.

Tilting her chin at him, Hermione said, "You're already outnumbered.

"Outnumbered by a wandless witch and her blood lusting bedfellow? You must take me for a fool, girl! I've gone to great lengths to ensure a complete lack of witnesses to tonight's events."

"Not great enough, Arthur." Hagrid stomped out from behind one of the huge oaks. "Guess that means you'll have to kill me, too."

"And us," Minerva said, her crisp tone cutting the air like a knife. "Are you sure you possess that much vitriol? I believe you already know Olga."

Weasley's face fell when he saw the imposing figure at her side. The tall woman with long, white hair, whose pale eyes flashed in the gloom like an owl's. His cruel smile faded to a grim line; his back stiffened.

"This is unconscionable. Unhand my patient this instant," the elderly Healer said in her thick, Romanian accent.

Now, it was Severus' turn to laugh, "Remind me, Weasley, what's that old Muggle saying about the best laid schemes of mice and men?"

"The Aurors will be here soon," Minerva said. Leveling her wand at Weasley, she said, "Lift your Imperius Curse immediately." Behind her, the air crackled with static as a group of St. Mungo's Attendants appeared. Brandishing short, thick wands, the phalanx of frightened young men tightened around the two elderly witches.

"Empty threats don't suit you, Minerva. I know those are just Medi-Wands!" His mirthless laughter was soon swallowed the mist-shrouded trees.

Stepping forward, Olga raised her hand. A ball of fire appeared in her palm. "Stop this now, while you still have a choice," she said.

"A firebrand? Save your Gypsy trickery for the Muggle carnivals," he spat at her. "Go, Sybill!"

Zombie-like, Sybill loped towards Snape and Hermione on all fours.

"Lift your curse or—"

"Or what, Minerva?" Arrogance restored, Weasley rounded on her. "You'll petrify me? Kill me?" Casting a withering glance at Hagrid, he said, "And you, Hagrid, what will you do? You, who can't even perform the simplest cleansing charm!"

Eyes on Sybill, who'd picked up her pace and was rapidly closing on the pair, Minerva said, "Please, Arthur, Let's all go back to the castle and sort this out. You cannot take the law into your own hands."

"I am the law!" He pounded his chest with his fist.

"Must. Protect. Master." Filch flung himself out of the woods and onto Weasley's back, knocking him off balance. Losing his grip on the wand, Arthur pitched forward.

"Atta boy, Argus!" Hagrid cried. "Keep him busy and don't let him get ter that wand!"

"Get away, you old fool!" Weasley's fist slammed into the old caretaker's face.

Filch's nose shattered with a sickening crunch. Rolling clear of Weasley, he curled into a fetal position and bawled. While Hagrid ran to his aid, Hermione started towards Weasley's wand, but before she could utter the retrieval spell, he snatched it up and screamed, "Attack, Sybill—Kill!"

Claws bared and jaws snapping, Were-Sybill sprang at her.

"Hermione! No!" Severus threw her aside, placing himself directly into Sybill's path.

She slammed into him, a fury of fangs and claws, tearing at his face and neck, and snarling at him in her gravelly voice. Her claws gouged bloody furrows across his upper chest. "Muheye vishhuhnn!"

"I've had enough of your bloody visions!" Grabbing one of her forearms, he twisted, hard, relishing her enraged shriek and the unmistakable 'crack' as bone snapped. "I should have killed you when I had the chance!" An upward thrust dislocated her shoulder with a sickening 'pop'.

"Get off him!" Hermione twisted a fistful of Sybill's filthy mane and yanked hard.

"Paralyze her!" Snape snarled.

"Immobi—I can't get a clear shot, Severus!" Minerva cried.

A wordless curse from Severus sent Sybill careening into the trees. "Now, Minerva! Do it now!"

As McGonagall took aim, Sybill rounded on Hermione, one swipe slamming her back against a boulder and then sliding face down in a puddle of rainwater. While Sybill resumed her attack on Severus, McGonagall hurried to Hermione's side.

Severus tried to counter with a sidelong assault, but Sybill ducked his blow and lunged at him low, taking him out at the knees and sinking her teeth deep into his upper thigh. He screamed, clawing at her back for purchase as they toppled, and then, sank his fangs into her shoulder.

The rain ceased.

A sliver of red light erupted between the sparring creatures. Hovering between them like a floating sliver, it pulsed and shivered, then shimmered outward, its aura widening and brightening until the eerie corona encompassed them both, encasing them in a shared crimson cocoon. It blazed for a split second, before imploding with a monstrous sucking sound. Lightning tendrils erupted beneath Sybill and Severus. Buoyed by them, trapped by their inherent forces, the pair rose skyward, unable to speak or move on a climbing column of pure, whirling energy. Then, as quickly as they began, the fireworks vanished completely, leaving Sybill and Severus suspended in midair.

"She bit him! She bit him! Oh, gods, noooo!" Moaning, Hermione gazed up at Severus.

"Shh, I'm here, Hermione," Minerva pulled her close. "I'm right here."

He said he'd do anything to prove his love and he did. He sacrificed himself to save me! " You don't understand! I thought I could help him, but he—and Mr. Weasley wouldn't leave us—leave Severus alone and now, now it's too late! It's all my, all my..." choking on rage and tears, Hermione trailed off.

"It will be over soon," Olga said, laying a hand on her shoulder. "Do not dwell on such things now."

"None of this is your fault, Hermione," Minerva smoothed Hermione's hair and rocked her like a baby in her arms. "Here now, don't look; it's best you don't see this."

But Hermione could not—would not look away.

Deep in the earth, a rumbling began beneath the suspended pair. Rippling out at first, like waves of an invisible sea, it overturned boulders and uprooted tall trees. Olga bowed her head, while Hagrid and Filch watched dumfounded. Bracing themselves, Hermione and Minerva clung to one another and screamed. 

Gathering its preternatural source back into itself, it shot upward, a column of pure light, shaking Sybill and Severus with bone rattling intensity before blasting them apart in a single thunderclap.

Sybill struck her head on a rock as she landed. Snape, thrown further by the blast, sprawled over a fallen log.

"Severus!" Hermione hurried to his side.

"She did it! He's dead! The bastard's dead!" Laughing, Weasley leapt to his feet.

Olga, quickly conjuring blankets and bandages, directed the Attendants. Leaving Hermione to tend to Severus, Minerva picked her way across the decimated forest to Sybill and gently rolled her over.

Rushing over, face flushed with glee, Arthur wheezed, "Can you hear me, Sybill? You killed him! You—Merlin's beard!" Ashen-faced, he withdrew from her. "What's happening to her?" The longer he stared, the more Were-Sybill seemed to shrink before his very eyes. Her claws retracted, their ebony coloring draining away as they reformed into pale fingernails; the powerful muscles in her elongated arms and thighs atrophied and her limbs shortened, resuming their former size. The tawny lanugo that had once covered her body fell away, revealing patchy, battle-scarred flesh. Her hair lightened and shortened; her snout receded and her features softened, becoming more recognizably feminine until at last, she lay before him naked, bleeding, and utterly broken. "My gods, she's—she's human again," he gasped.

"Of course she's human, Arthur, what did you think would happen?" Minerva covered her with a blanket, pausing just long enough in her ministrations to glare at him over the tops of her half-moon spectacles. "You still have no idea what you've done here tonight, do you?"

Sybill groaned. One of her legs twitched.

"No, dear. You just lie still. We'll take you home soon." Minerva patted her uninjured shoulder and then signaled for the Attendants to bring a floating litter.

"She bit him, he bit her, then boom!" Weasley scratched his head with the tip of his wand. "I saw it with my own eyes!'

"She's a Muggle now, you idiot. Thanks to your meddling, they both are! Muggles, Arthur! Mortal, powerless as a pair of Squibs—such a senseless waste of magical potential boggles the mind! You should be ashamed of yourself!"

Glancing over at Snape, he muttered, "Well, at least he's dead."

"He most certainly is not," Olga snapped.

Weasley spun on his heel. "Still alive, you say? Well, I can fix that!" He aimed his wand at Snape's blanketed form. "AVA—"

"Fractus!" Olga cried, cutting him off mid-curse, one snap of her fingers shattering Weasley's wand into a million little pieces and leaving him with a handful of splinters. 

"Gypsy bitch! You're not the only one who knows wandless magic," Arthur growled, raising his uninjured hand.

"I was afraid you'd say that. Petrificus Totalus!" Minerva tapped his shoulder with the tip of her wand. Arthur stiffened, listed to one side briefly, and then toppled over, gape-mouthed and goggle-eyed.

"Hagrid? What happened?" Sitting up, staunching his nose with his pocket handkerchief, Filch eyed his surroundings suspiciously. "Where the blazes am I?"

"Er, that's kind of a long story, Argus. Here, let me give you a hand."

Minerva stepped back, allowing the Attendants to levitate Sybill. Following their example, Hermione and Olga did the same for Severus' limp, still unconscious form.

"Hagrid, if you'll help Mr. Filch, I believe we'll be able to get everyone back to the Infirmary safely."

"Uh, Perfesser, what about...?" Hagrid jerked his thumb at Arthur Weasley.

The night erupted with more swooshing and popping sounds. A team of Aurors appeared in the woods.

"Better late than never," Hagrid muttered under his breath.

"You'll find Sybill's kidnapper and Fenrir Greyback's murderer over there," Minerva said crisply to the Aurors. "Oh, and if you haven't done so already, send Kingsley to my quarters at once, I'd like to have a few words with our Minister." In the distance, thunder rumbled again. "Come along everyone, I think the rain's about to start again. With that, she began leading the small procession back to the castle.

 

 

 

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