(Highlight to View) Warning(s): Epilogue compliant.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: Snape was poisoned by Nagini's bite ala "Sleeping Beauty." Hermione is not going to wait one hundred years for him to awaken.
Summary: Parents' Day should be a time for families to be together enjoying the wonders of Hogwarts, but Hermione finds herself alone with her thoughts—and someone else's.
It was raining when they portkeyed onto Hogsmeade station, a cold dismal drizzle that threatened to penetrate the strongest of repelling charms and which perfectly matched Hermione's mood. Ron, blissfully unaware as ever, strode forcefully from the platform towards the carriages waiting to take them to the castle, leaving her in his wake amid a throng of other parents.
Headmistress McGonnagal had made many changes after The War, mostly for the better but Hermione could never wholeheartedly agree with Parents' Day. In theory it was fine — a chance to show off the school to parents and governors. In practice it wasn't all it promised. The School v Old Boys Quiddich match was always popular, but many a muggle parent left confused or even frightened by what their child had become, after seeing rounds of Competitive Charms and Formation Transfigurations. Not only that but when it started there had been too many students without parents that could come and visit.
By mid morning the weather had cleared. Ron had gone to change for the big match taking Hugo with him, and Rose was showing round some of the parents, so Hermione had some time to herself. She wandered about the castle, revisiting in her mind the events that had happened during her school days. After exchanging pleasantries with Neville at the greenhouses she headed into the grounds, away from the throng of visitors and was not entirely surprised when she found herself near the lake standing between twin sepulchres, the one white marble, the other black obsidian.
"Release the stopper."
She glanced around but could see no one.
"Harry? Ron? Is that one of you idiots trying to scare me? You're doing a good job."
"Release the stopper."
It was coming from the black tomb, Snape's tomb, the man who had claimed he could "put a stopper in death".
"Release the stopper."
The idea was preposterous, but still...
"Release the stopper."
It sounded more insistent this time and definitely inside her head. She ran towards the tomb and threw herself against the cold glassy surface so that as much of her body as possible was touching it.
"Release the stopper." Louder now, with a hint of desperation. "Hurry."
She cursed herself for never having studied Legilimancy and its related disciplines. Remembering snippets she had read and comments from Harry, she did her best to empty her mind and project her thoughts through the stone. "Hold on Professor, I'm going to fetch help."
Faced with a need for haste, Hermione muttered a short counter-charm against the castle's wards and apparated to the Headmistress' office.
Minerva McGonnagal was entertaining the Crawfords, a muggle couple who were having problems coming to terms with their daughter's magic. Mrs Crawford let out a shrill scream when a strange woman suddenly appeared between her and her husband. Hermione caught her before she could faint and muttering an apology, lowered her into a chair.
"Mrs Weasley. What is the meaning of this intrusion?"
"Sorry Min... Sorry Headmistress. There's an emergency by the lake."
"An emergency?" asked Mr Crawford. "Has one of the pupils been hurt?"
"Oh my poor Chelsea," wailed Mrs Crawford. "I knew this place was dangerous. Someone's probably turned her inside out or let her get eaten by a dragon or..."
"Nobody's been eaten by anything." Hermione snapped at the distraught woman. "Headmistress, it's Professor Snape."
"So one of the teachers has been hurt. Not dead is he?"
"No Mr...whoever you are. I don't think he is. That's the emergency."
Minerva calmly put down her cup. "Hermione, would you be so good as to go outside and count to one hundred while I obliviate these good people; then knock and come in like a normal person who can't bypass the Castle's wards, and we'll see what we can do about it."
A little later, the two women stood beside Snape's sepulchre.
"Can you still hear him?"asked McGonnagal.
"Not at the moment. Let me try..." She pressed her temple against the wall of the tomb. "Professor?"
"You came back. Hurry, I don't think I have much time left."
"He's in there. He's starting to sound desperate. We have to get it open."
"That could take days. After what happened with..." She glanced across to the white tomb,
"Well, the stones were magically sealed, even Grawp couldn't pull them apart. And then the whole thing was enchanted with the same wards..."
"...As the rest of the Castle." Hermione completed excitedly.
Minerva put a hand on the younger woman's shoulder. "You don't know the layout of the tomb. Are you sure you want to do this?"
"I have to. He did so much for Harry, for me and we never knew it until it was too late. If there's any chance he cold still be alive in some form...I couldn't live with myself if I didn't try. Besides, I don't have time to teach you or anyone else the counter-charm. I'm not sure the Castle would let me teach it to anyone else for that matter. So it has to be me. It has to be now."
"Is there anything I can do?"
Warn Poppy to prepare for, for anything. I'll meet you in the infirmary."
Minerva gave Hermione a quick hug. "Good luck and be careful." Then she changed into her cat form and bounded back into the Castle.
Hermione watched her go then turned to face the tomb, shut her eyes and cast her spells.
She opened her eyes in total darkness, cast a Lumos and was nearly blinded as the beam reflected back and forth from the polished walls. She had calculated her destination from what she remembered of the ruins of Dumbledore's tomb and was relieved to find that she had not arrived partly embedded in the stones. The tomb was empty but for a central plinth on which lay a black clad body. No dust, no cobwebs and as Hermione realised, very little air.
She examined the...body. He was little more than a skeleton with parchment thin skin stretched over the bones.
"I'm here, Professor. What must I do?"
"Release the stopper!"
"I know that, but how? Is there an antidote? Let me take you out of here and we can get Poppy to help."
"No time. Release the stopper! End the spell!"
"End the...Finite Incantatem!" Blue St. Elmo's fire leapt over Snape's body causing the tomb to light up like the inside of a furnace. When Hermione's eyes cleared Snape was laying exactly as before.
"Professor? Professor?" There was no reply. She leant over him tears welling up in her sore eyes. "Professor, I did what you asked. Professor!" She was shouting out loud now ignoring the diminishing air. Tears fell on his face. "God damn you Snape. Wake up!"
She screamed when his arm fell across her back and, skeletally thin though it was, pulled her down to within an inch of his face. Slowly he opened his eyes, as bright and intelligent as ever. He tried to speak but the skin on his jaw was too tight. "Thank you."
She visited him every day over the coming weeks. Each time he was slightly stronger, due in part to Madam Pomfrey's acceptance of muggle techniques ̶ saline and glucose drips could rehydrate and feed the damaged tissues and allow her magic to do its work. He was still painfully thin but now he could sit up by himself, eat solids and hold a conversation, although he still tired easily.
Today he was reading, catching up on twenty lost years. He smiled as she entered. "Still checking to make sure I haven't run away before I can take the punishment for my sins?" His voice was croaking but still stronger than the day before.
"You know full well that your true involvement has been on record for years and that you are counted as one of the great heroes of The War."
"So why do you invade my room every day and ruin my peace?"
"You saved our lives, more than once."
"The first time I saw you, no not the first time,that would have been at the feast after the Sorting Hat. The first time in your class, you said you could put a stopper in death and obviously you can. I want you to teach it to me."