Goodbye My Lover
Disclaimer: I do not own HP or anything related to it. JK Rowling created everything. The title of this chapter is from James Blunt\'s song \'Goodbye My Lover\'. Obviously I do not own this either.
Author\'s note: This is set post HBP and is in Snape\'s mindset, it is slightly AU though.
Severus Snape, ex-Potions master and Defence Against the Dark Arts professor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, couldn\'t believe what he had just done. He had been bound by an Unbreakable Vow but that did not excuse his actions and he knew that he would never forgive himself for them. There were two people in the world that he cared about: he had murdered one and betrayed both. He could imagine what she was feeling â€“ hate and disgust and revulsion. He felt that as well and all that he could see was what expression would be on her beautiful face when she found out. Disbelief? Perhaps. He had promised her that he would never hurt her and now he was sure she was devastated. Angry? That was an understatement. Hermione was passionate â€“ those whom she loved, she loved strongly. And those she hated â€“ well, Merlin help them. Now he was one of those himself. He suspected that she would hunt him down and â€“ no, he would not think of that. However all these things he could handle, he had faced them all before, but there was one emotion that he could not deal with. Her disappointment. No one had ever been disappointed in him before her. No one had cared and even if they had they, like Dumbledore, would probably have the misguided notion that weakness was an integral part of the human condition and as such to be disappointed in a person\'s behaviour was to be a hypocrite. She would be disappointed. He\'d seen it before whenever he would make a snide remark to Potter or Weasley, or even the useless dunderhead that was Neville Longbottom. She\'d frown slightly, her brow creasing, and her lips would narrow. Then a slight shake of her head. He recalled all too well the feeling of shame welling up inside him, threatening to burst. But she would always come to him later that day and as she lay in his arms he knew that she had forgiven him. Her forgiveness meant everything to him
He\'d always known that their relationship would end with tears and betrayal. He knew that it would be her tears, his betrayal. Still, every time he saw her all those thoughts would flee from his mind and all he could think about what a unique girl she was, how special. How could anyone else not see it? In class she continued to blind him with her intellect and in her very soul Severus found his equal: someone who would not be intimidated by him, someone who would challenge him, maybe even inspire him.
The first time that his feelings had led anywhere was just before Christmas. Students were packing up to go home â€“ rejoicing that they wouldn\'t have classes for a precious couple of weeks and attempting to ignore the fact that their exams were looming closer, but Hermione was in the library. Studying. Only she and, if Severus admitted it, he himself would do such a thing. Memories of his own time as a pupil at Hogwarts were stirred up inside him â€“ hiding out in the library from Potter and Black, from Lucius Malfoy. Suddenly he was jerked back into the present when Hermione â€“ she had not been Miss Granger to him for a while now â€“ turned a page in one of the books. She was completely absorbed in what she was doing. Couldn\'t he take this opportunity to watch her without being noticed? However his baser instincts, to his shame, over-ruled the mind and before he realized what he had done he was almost beside her. Then she stopped writing and turned her head to face him â€“ a wry smile playing on her face. Somehow she had known that he was behind her.
â€śHello Professor Snape. Merry Christmas.â€ť She offered him a shy smile.
No one had ever really smiled at him like that before.
Those words, spoken with no sarcasm and no fear, and that wonderful, beautiful smile threw him over the edge. Before he realized what he was doing he touched her lips with his own, feeling that in her arms he was in some sort of Elysium. Abruptly he pulled away, ashamed of his behaviour and worried about what she would say â€“ he could imagine the look on the Headmaster\'s face when he had to dismiss Severus due to improper conduct.
He could not, would not look at her face. He felt her fingers on his cheek and a whispered, â€śThank you.â€ť
But now everything was ruined. All those months of bliss and contentment were destroyed by a single incantation; he had always known that wand waving was foolish. Hermione would never again kiss him or thank him or lie in his arms or do any of those things which he had come to need from her. She would never let her emotions cloud her understanding of the facts and of she did then she was not the woman he had thought her to be â€“ he was a murderer as well as her lover. With a jolt he remembered that objective behaviour was what had attracted him to her in the first place.
That attraction had soon turned to love, no matter how much he had tried to stop it and no matter how much fire whiskey he had imbibed in a vain attempt to forget about her and the strange feelings she was evoking in himself.
At that time he had believed that she did not love him and never would. He would wait though. Wait until all his life and all her life had been thrown into death\'s welcoming arms. Then again perhaps the fates were as vindictive as some legends had them to be and upon his death curse him with immortality; doomed to live forever with the memory of her always plaguing his mind
She had completely reversed his outlook on life. Undoubtedly in class he was still the bitter, cynical, and hated professor. But in private he understood why his colleagues were so shocked at his behaviour, why Professor Sprout was suddenly babbling on to him about the qualities of whichever plant she was teaching to the students at that time and why Professor Trelawney even lowered herself to speak to him. Apparently he no longer clouded her inner eye.
What utter rubbish.
When he had discovered his love for Hermione he had been shell-shocked, moved away from her for weeks until he realized that no matter what he tried to do she would still be an integral part of his soul. He had hurt her with his coldness, he saw it in class when he would bellow at her and she would take it all as a Gryffindor should but the pain was all to evident in her eyes. It had in turn wounded him. He had tried to make it up to her but something always got in the way and things were never as they had been before. There was a possibility that prior to him murdering Dumbledore she had begun to trust him again. Now that trust was shattered like the pieces of his heart.
Sitting in a pub in Knockturn Alley and with a plentiful supply of alcohol close at hand he remembered their first night together with a mixture of happiness and regret. Regret that such bliss as he was sure they both felt afterwards could not stay. She had lain in his arms and he held her so tight as though he would never let her go and in truth he had not wanted to let her go. He had been afraid. Afraid that she would discover what sort of a monster he was, find out about the Dark Magic which coursed through his body. And then of course she would run from him just as everyone else had and she would never return. He had been petrified that he love he felt would be torn away from him, and most of all he was terrified of himself. He had known then that Draco would never be able to kill Dumbledore, the boy was too weak and too showy like his mother and had inherited few of Lucius\' malevolent traits. It was clear to Severus that he would be the one to murder the man who he had been almost as close to as he supposed a son and a father should be. He\'d had a sneaking suspicion that Dumbledore had seen what was in his mind and accepted it. But during the year Severus could not face up to what he had to do. He remembered gazing down at Hermione and marvelling at how innocent and perfect she was. After that night he couldn\'t stop himself â€“ she was all that he could see of the future. She made him forget about the promise. She made him a man again.
Those days were long gone and would never return. All those whispered words of love and devotion and bliss were wiped out as if they had never existed. Never meant anything. To her at least. He would always cherish her and all the sacred moments spent with her. The ecstasy which had filled his body when he so much as glimpsed her in a corridor.
The future that he had stupidly built in his head crumbled into oblivion. All he saw of tomorrow was darkness, evil and despair with Voldemort as leader. With Dumbledore dead no-one, not even Potter, could defeat the Dark Lord, and all happiness and all hope must disappear. In weak moments such as these he forgot about the miraculous quality of alcohol which made you not feel anything. He much preferred remembering past conversations with Hermione allowing him to pretend that hope and happiness did still exist.
They had been sitting in silence together for a few minutes, each reflecting on the revelations that their relationship brought with it. Hermione\'s head was on his shoulder, her hand placed on his heart like a mark of possession.
â€śYes?â€ť He glanced down at her and ran his fingers through her hair.
â€śWill this go anywhere? You, me, Us?â€ť
He heard the anxiety in her voice and everything in his body screamed at him to tell her everything would be fine, to reassure her. But he could not lie to her. â€śI don\'t know Hermione. I just don\'t know.â€ť She had been quiet after his reply and he had been ashamed at his uncertainty. After a few moments she surprised him and spoke again.
â€śSeverus, I want us to go somewhere.â€ť He had not answered her. Perhaps that was the worst mistake of all.
He had thought in those divine months that without her he would cease to exist, not physically of course but mentally. Emotionally. She had opened his heart up to a world that it had not known existed and somehow made him purer and better. He now knew, to his expense, that life did go on without her daily presence â€“ it was just a hell of a lot harder than it had been.
All he had wanted was for them to have a future, to get married perhaps even have children who would hopefully have not turned out like Longbottom or Weasley. However his cowardly, despicable betrayal had ruined that. In the bar, with several empty tumblers in front of him he realized the enormity of his actions. He had changed the entire course of the War. The Dark Lord was sure to win. Would Hermione live? The chances were against her. The Dark Lord would be sure to make her suffer because of her friendship with Potter. And more than likely he would just stand there and watch her die.
Some part of himself which delighted in cruel fate wondered what would happen to her if she survived? Would she get married? Have children? Most certainly. With Weasley if he was utterly honest. Severus knew that the boy was enamoured with her and that Hermione, unconsciously, was too. In fact he recalled the jealousy and suspicion that had overtaken him when he saw the boy touch her. But he knew that if all the love which he professed for her was true then he would not deny her this joy, a better life.
It still hurt though.
If she lived he would watch her life progress, watch her at her wedding if he lived and feel the sting of tears and hopelessness when he saw her pregnant with Weasley\'s children.
Every night he dreamed of her. He had not stopped since the moment he had killed Dumbledore. She invaded every part of him and he was powerless to hinder it. The punishment that the Dark Lord exacted on him occasionally was almost welcome. The agony tore the numbness away. For he was numb without her love, without her near him. Even though she despised him he longed to be close to her and catch the scent of her perfume as she walked past as he used to at Hogwarts when he prowled the corridors, hoping to see her.
Exactly a year later he snuck into where she resided while she was sleeping. Rather foolishly she was at a muggle hotel with only the simplest wards to protect her. If he wasn\'t so relieved that he could break them then he would have been furious at her thoughtlessness. He could have been any Death Eater. One that wanted to kill her and rape her, not clasp her close to him for eternity.
It was her honeymoon, or as much of a honeymoon that these times could afford. No longer was she Hermione Granger, now she was Mrs Ron Weasley. He had gone to her wedding as he had vowed he would â€“ he had stood as far away from her as he could without losing sight of the blushing bride, he had been clad in an invisibility cloak. Now her husband was lying flat on his back with her hugging him in her sleep like the way she had lain with him all those years ago. It cut him to the quick that she had replaced him with such ease. Still what else could she do? But he knew that in her place he would never have forgotten her. Ironically while she was lying in another man\'s arms he still loved her with a depth of passion that he couldn\'t even have imagined. Looking at her face it seemed that she had grown even more beautiful.
He knelt down and stared at her. She was so peaceful. He had always loved to watch her sleeping. Severus desired to touch her so much that it nearly drove him mad but he knew that he could not. The slightest caress and she would waken. And kill him. It was what he deserved but he could not bring himself to put his hand on her cheek and smooth away the hair from her face. It was not out of fear for himself that he did not do this but rather he would not let Hermione deal with the guilt which any death, even the death of such a worthless being that he was, would bring.
As Weasley stirred slightly he clasped Hermione closer to him and she responded. Severus could not take it any more and broke down, something which he had not done for years. Decades even. The tears blinded him and he confessed all his sins to a sleeping Hermione. Neither of the people in the bed heard him and in his despair he did not wonder why. All he needed was absolution. There were only two people who could do that and both were lost to him.
He left the room moments before the sun rose, fleeing like a spectre in the night and realizing with a bitter laugh that he was one. The tears had not healed him, if anything they had made him even number as there was no more crying to be done. He struggled not to break down again and was immediately ashamed of his own weakness. He tried to apparate but like some foolish first year found that he could not focus himself on the task at hand. Again and again and again he tried but to no avail. All was lost.
Then he heard a voice.
Goodbye My Lover by The Oracle