Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 23 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

The room came into existence around her, and she was immediately overcome with the smell of smoke. She stayed crouched over, sobbing into the dust-covered carpet. She gulped in air in attempt to get herself under control, and steel herself for the confrontation that was about to happen. But she knew she had very little time before Harry would be coming out of the Pensieve. She needed to figure out everything before he returned. One look at Dumbledore's portrait sent a wave of rage rushing over her, and she grabbed a fallen book and threw it at the ornate frame.

"You bastard!" she shouted, reaching for another book to throw. "You knew what was going to happen, and you still sent me back there!"

"You made the choice, Hermione," he replied calmly, despite her hitting him in the nose with An Advanced Study of Herbology.

"I thought I was going to push him out of the Death Eaters. I thought maybe I would be his friend. I never thought..."

"That you would help him get to the point he's at now?" he raised an eyebrow.

"Of course not!" she shouted. "If I thought I was going to go back and not make a damn bit of difference..."

"Did you not?" he asked quietly.

Her eyes widened, and she threw another book, this time hitting his forehead. "Severus Snape is dead!" she shouted. "I watched him die in the Shrieking Shack! That memory is still with me; it hasn't changed a bit!"

"And you were sure he was dead? You verified that yourself?" he asked calmly, tapping his fingers together.

Her mouth snapped shut. She hadn't checked to make sure Severus was dead. But it looked like he had died. His eyes had slid out of focus, his head had lolled to one side, and it looked like he stopped breathing. Everything looked like he had died. But she hadn't checked for a pulse or if his breathing had stopped. His horrific injuries looked like too much for anyone to overcome. But if she was there, with the time and the equipment to save him, she could have made a valiant effort to save his life. But she was now too late. If Severus wasn't dead when she left the Shrieking Shack, it was now nearly an hour later and there was no possibility of him still being alive.

"Even if he wasn't then, he is now. My memories of him are the same. You sent me back to save him, but you put too much faith in me. I failed."

"Your memories were never going to change, Miss Granger. You remember everything that had happened because it already happened. There was never going to be any changing those facts."

"I don't understand," she whispered.

"Think, Miss Granger. What would have happened if you never came back here. If you stayed with Severus. He couldn't teach at Hogwarts, he figured out the same day you arrived who you were. And if he couldn't teach at Hogwarts, you would have no reason to return to him. It would never work out. Everything that happened to that point had to have happened to motivate you to do what you needed to do. Think of the reasons you went back to save Severus. Why you didn't even ask if you could save Fred, or Professor Lupin, or Sirius Black..."

"I felt sorry for him. He was never truly happy, anyone with eyes could see that. He had to serve two masters," she said with a scathing look towards him, "which hardly affords him the time to serve himself. If he had anything worth fighting for, he would have fought. Even if he had still been killed in the end, if he had a reason to fight he would have. Fred, Remus, Sirius... they died fighting. They died defending what they loved. Hell, both Fred and Sirius died with smiles on their faces. None of them wanted to go this early, I know that, but they would view their deaths as the way they wanted to go. Protecting those who are important to them, because they love those people. Fighting for what is right. Death, to them, is the next great adventure. To Severus, death seemed like a release. He had nothing here but more misery. He had just one more thing he had to do when he went, and that's why he gave Harry his memories."

"Severus has something to fight for now. You didn't know it in the Shack, but perhaps he was protecting something, or someone, he cares about."

"What was the point of sending me back to save him if I'm only going to return when it's too late?"

"It is hardly too late, Miss Granger."

"But he's already dea..."

Her hand had plunged into her bag before her brain fully finished her thought, coming up with the box Dumbledore had given her. Inside lay the only chance she had to save Severus. The Time-Turner. One Dumbledore must have hidden away before they had all been smashed during the fight at the Ministry, that had been sitting in the box awaiting the time she was ready to make the trip back in time. And that only could be after she had witnessed the horror of Severus' death. After she knew the truth, that her Professor was trying to help them. That he was unwilling to fight for his life. She needed the realization of how horrible of a hand Severus had been dealt. Her trip back in time hadn't just been to give Severus something to hold on to, or hints about how he would meet his end so he could prepare himself. It was also to give him someone who cared enough to help him. Because he was still going to be attacked in the Shack. And afterwards, he wouldn't be able to help himself. He didn't just need someone to love him if he survived the night, he needed someone who loved him enough to pick up the fight for him, to tend to his wounds, and get him to someone who may be able to save his life.

The top of the Pensieve started churning, and she knew Harry was about to return.

"He needs to make this journey on his own," Dumbledore called before disappearing from his frame.

Hermione stuck the chain of the Time-Turner around her neck and looked at the clock.

"Good luck, Harry," she whispered, forcing herself not to cry as she turned the tiny hourglass four times. She closed her eyes as she traveled through time, as the smell of smoke cleared from the air. She felt her feet settle on solid ground, and she tucked the Time-Turner back under her shirt.

"Miss... Miss Granger?" Snape asked behind her, and she spun around to look at him. He was sitting behind the headmaster's desk. Everything about the scene looked normal except the portraits were either asleep, or their frames were empty. Severus' hand still hovered over a piece of parchment as he stared at her in surprise. All her doubts about seeing him as an adult, and having the memories of how he treated her as a teacher vanished. She felt the same way about him in her time as she did when she left his.

"Severus," she whispered, wanting to go and throw her arms around him, but not sure how he would react. Instead, she started ringing her hands, and chewing her lip.

"What are you doing here?"

"Going back in time twice in... well, I guess it's only a few hours."

"So you...?" he trailed off.

"I just returned. And I can't apologize enough..."

"Don't," he cut her off, standing and coming around the desk, but not approaching her. "I don't want your false sympathies."

"Why would you think they're false?" she snapped, cheeks burning.

"You left me. You asked so much of me, and when I asked for you not to leave me, you ignored me."

"Do you think I wanted to?" she replied, a tear running down her cheek. "Don't you think I begged Dumbledore to try to change the spell? I couldn't stop it, I was bound by the magic of the spell."

They stared at each other for a long moment before she carefully continued.

"But knowing what I know now, I would have come back either way. I needed to come back. Staying would change too much. Our world needed us to get to this point. Harry needed us, both of us, to keep him on his path. If I had stayed, we would have to run, to hide. You would never become a teacher, because I couldn't risk you seeing me as a young girl starting at Hogwarts. You wouldn't have begged him for Lily's life, and he never would have given Lily the opportunity to stand aside. I don't know if that would have diminished the sacrifice she made for her son, but Harry might have died that night. You wouldn't have been there to turn spy. You're too valuable to this war to take out of the equation. And, of course, if I hadn't met you as my teacher, what motivation would I have to come back? I hate that I hurt you. I hate what I did to you. If you never forgive me, I'll understand why. But I had to do what I did."

"What do you expect of me, Hermione?" he growled.

"Not a damn thing. I'm not your master, Severus. I will not tell you what to do or how to feel. I won't even hold you to your promise, because I want whatever ending comes of this to make you happy."

"Is that promise going to be tested soon?" he raised an eyebrow.

She opened her mouth, but a sharp rasp on the door cut her off.

"Quick," he hissed, striding towards her and grabbing her elbow. He dragged her across the room and shoved her into a corner. She felt his wand jab into her ribs, and the trickle of a Disillusionment charm covering her. She stood as still as possible as he made his way back to the desk.

"Enter!" he barked, dropping into the chair and writing on the parchment as if he hadn't moved at all.

"Snape," a Death Eater Hermione didn't recognize entered the room, panting and harried-looking. "There's been a disturbance in Hogsmeade. Someone out after curfew. Aberforth says it was him, but Lourdis swears he saw Potter's Patronus."

"What was it?"

"A stag. Barman claims it was a goat."

Severus snorted. "No one has summoned the Dark Lord."

"We've got to find him, first."

"He's most likely gone."

"What do you want us to do? Should we start to protect Hogwarts?"

"Hogwarts is protected enough. Stay in the village. Make sure he's gone. And woe become the fool who summons the Dark Lord without Potter secured. They've slipped out of so many situations to this point, you'd better make sure he's unable to move, and the other two are dead before anyone tries summoning him. My guess is he was taken by surprise by the security measures in the town, and they moved out at the first opportunity."

"Whatever you say," the man grumbled, then turned and left. Severus stood and strode across the office to the window, and waited for a few seconds to make sure he was gone, then lifted the charm off Hermione.

"Are you in the castle?" he asked, looking out the window.

She glanced at the clock. "If we aren't yet, we're in the tunnel on our way in." She was surprised at how easily the words flowed from her mouth. Had she not trusted Severus completely, she wouldn't dare give any hint on their position, or at what might be coming.

"How? The tunnels are all blocked off."

"There's one from the Hog's Head to the Room of Requirement. It'll be crawling with Order members before too long."

He stared at her in surprise, and nodded once.

"How is your mission going?" he whispered.

"There's a reason we're back. But before too long it'll be down to the snake and Vol... him himself," she caught herself, not wanting the Taboo to alert someone to someone in Snape's office saying the name.

He took a deep breath and straightened up. "Do you think it'll end tonight?"

"Yes. Though I can't tell what the final outcome will be."

"You left in the middle?" his eyes widened.

"Yes. I had to. Nothing is guaranteed, not even the next few hours. I was given the opportunity to go back, and I took it immediately. Though, to tell the truth, Dumbledore never told me what was going to happen."

"You blindly took Dumbledore's orders?"

"It wasn't an order so much as encouragement. And yes. I did. He seems to be good at getting people to do that."

He closed his eyes and sighed. Cautiously she walked up to him, brushing her fingers against his, and to her surprise, his moved to hook around hers. She looked at their linked digits, and up at him to find he was looking as surprised at their contact, as though his fingers had moved of their own accord.

"What can I do to help you?" he whispered.

"Remember your promise. And help Harry. You'll know when."

"Ten minutes ago I still would have told you to fuck that promise. I don't owe anyone anything."

"No, you don't. We owe you so much. And I promise I'll pay it back and more, in any way I can."

"Why? Why would you do that for me?"

"That's what someone does when they love someone else."

"Love," he scoffed.

"You didn't believe me when I said it?"

"That was twenty-two years ago!" he hissed.

"It was twenty-two minutes ago for me," she replied evenly. "You've been watching me since I was eleven. Do you think I would lie to you about something like that? That I could lie about that? You probably know better than anyone I'm pants at lying."

His eyes met hers, and confusion filled his orbs.

"I don't want or expect any declarations or anything else from you right now, Severus. You need to make your own choices. But I'm not going to lie when I say I hope you pick me. Because I didn't lie. I want you. I want to be with you. It'll take work and determination on both our parts to make it through this, and Merlin knows even if we do, our relationship isn't going to be easy going. But I do want to make a go of it.

"So many years ago we both asked, at one point or another, to tell each other if we were finished with what we had. I'm not, but I will accept if you are. And you don't need to make a decision right now. It's really not a good time to be making life-altering decisions right now. And it won't stop me from fighting to make sure you can freely make that decision."

"Why would you want to be with me?" he asked softly.

"For your rapier wit and pleasant personality, I suppose. Couldn't have anything to do with having fallen for you," she replied, with a cheeky grin.

The corner of his mouth tugged upwards for a second.

"Would it be crass of me to offer another serenade if you make it through this?"

"You hated that the first time," he pointed out.

"I like what it got me by the end of the day."

"What was that?"

"Something I didn't know I wanted until the moment I got it," she muttered, then she reached up to touch his face, and drew him down to her. Her lips met his, and he was hesitant for the first few seconds, but soon he was kissing her back furiously. He spun her around until she was pressed against the desk, both hands wound into her hair, locking her to him. It was every bit as intense as their first kiss, and she melted against him, gripping his robes tightly, afraid of the moment where they would have to let go.

Without warning he tore away from her, cursing and clenching his left fist.

"What's wrong?" she whispered.

"Someone's summoning him. To the castle."

"The Carrows," she whispered.

"Do they have Harry?"

"No. I don't know the whole story, but they're both going to be at the top of Ravenclaw tower. Professor McGonagall is going to make sure they're unable to continue."

"He won't be in the grounds, then," Severus muttered. "Otherwise he'd kill them for calling him like that."

"You have to go," she encouraged softly.

"Where are you?"

"You don't need to worry about running into me. Ron and I are in the Chamber of Secrets."

He raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

"We needed Basilisk fangs."

"What happened to the sword?"

"Harry traded it to a goblin."


"It has been an extremely long day."

"So that was you in Gringotts," he murmured, a look of amusement on his face.

"Yes. And before I went back, we had ridden across the bloody country on that damn dragon until we dropped into some frigid lake out in the mountains. And before that I had to drink Polyjuice to turn into Bellatrix, which was completely disgusting. After all that, you were a walk in the park. At least I wasn't worried you were going to eat me."

"I didn't exactly make it easy on you."

"You know me, I love a challenge."

His fingers ran over her face, wiping away a tear she didn't know was running down her cheek.

"Do you remember the cupboard in the Potions classroom?"

She nodded.

"Do you remember the password?"

She nodded again.

"Good. I'll try to keep my promise."

She stood on the tips of her toes to give him one more lingering kiss. "I'll be there. I promise. I love you."

She closed her eyes as he swept from the room, and she shuddered as she heard the door slam behind him. The silence and empty feeling of the room started to close around her, and she reached up to swipe another tear from her face to find her cheeks drenched with tears. Sinking to the floor, she let the sobs overtake her, wanting to get all her emotions out so she would be prepared for the battle ahead.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 23 of 29

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