Prompt: 47 - Haunted
Warnings: Implied character torture
Word count: 4,100
Summary: Our job is simple, really. All we’re meant to do is weave together different strings of fabric into the tapestry of life. But sometimes a mortal catches our attention, and it’s a struggle to not try to help them along.
A/N: Happy Birthday, irishredlass!
I can’t help but look in on them from time to time.
Oh, I know that I’m not necessarily supposed to do so, but the rules say that I’m not to interfere, not that I can’t peek now and then. And if I did, perhaps, give them a little help along the way, well there certainly was no way to prove it.
My job is simple, really. All I’m meant to do is weave together different strings of fabric into the tapestry of life. I do not get to choose what strings go where, for mortals are gifted with free will, and should I attempt to put a string where it does not belong, the consequences would be disastrous.
One of my two sisters discovered that the hard way almost four thousand years ago.
No, our job is simply to weave the tapestry of life as it plays out. It sounds simple enough, right? Most of the time, it is, but sometimes a mortal catches our attention, and it’s a struggle to not try to help them along.
Severus Snape is one such mortal.
Severus Snape had taken measures to ensure his survival. Of course he had, he wasn’t an idiot, thank you very much. That didn’t mean that he wanted to have anything more to do with those people or that world. He was quite finished with having a Master of any kind. He was ready to discover what was important to him now, now that the past was where it belonged: in the past.
After the mania of the end of the war had finally settled, he’d managed four years of a peaceful existence with only very limited communication with those from his past.
So when she arrived on his doorstep, broken, bleeding, and unconscious, he wasn’t sure which emotion took precedence: concern or irritation. He wasn’t a heartless man. He wasn’t going to just leave her there.
There was no choice once he had her inside and laying down on the bed in a spare room in his home. He had to undress her. He did so with professionalism and indifference. She was not a woman lying on his bed, she was an injured human being, and he would treat her as such. That didn’t mean that he didn’t see.
There would be time for wondering what had caused them later. His first task was to determine whether her wounds were still bleeding. They weren’t, so he next had to wash away the blood and dirt so that he could properly treat her injuries. Leaving her in the room, he went to retrieve some basic potions that he always tried to keep on hand. He would have to brew some of the less common ones he was sure she would need, but in the meantime, these would do.
He poured a potion over her wounds expertly, watching as they bubbled and sizzled any infections away. He went to work, pressing the folds of skin together while pouring another potion over them, then running his wand along the seam to encourage her skin to mend back together.
It was a time consuming task, but when he finished, he pulled a chair up next to the bed and sat. He’d transfigured a simple black, conservative nightgown for her, but when he looked at her, he still saw her broken and bleeding. It disturbed him more than he’d ever imagined possible.
With all that he had done and seen in his life, why would her injuries shake him so?
“Just what happened to you, Hermione Granger?” he asked her still-unconscious form.
You may be wondering why Severus Snape caught my attention. The truth of the matter is that there never was a specific reason. Sometimes we are drawn to a mortal for no apparent reason. I was the one of my sisters who was to weave Severus’ thread into the tapestry, therefore I became aware of him from the moment of his conception.
That’s not when he caught my attention, though. It wasn’t much long after his birth that the moment came. He was nearing his first birthday, and his father was upset for some reason or another. Tobias Snape backhanded his near-toddler son, and in the first time in many years I cried for a mortal. I cried for the child who did not understand, who did not know love in his own home.
After that moment, I kept a special eye on him, hoping that he would be able to learn about love elsewhere.
Well, you all know the story of his life, so I won’t repeat it for you, but I have cried for him many times since that first. Why should I, an Immortal, care so much for this mortal?
With all he’d gone through, I had to give him something, I had to try…
She slept soundlessly for the first ten hours. He sat by her bedside the entire time, only getting up to relieve his bladder or to gather snacks to keep his energy up. As the tenth hour stretched on, she began whimpering. She began tossing and turning, a thin sheen of sweat covering her body.
For a moment Severus worried that he’d missed something, that perhaps an infection had taken hold in her body. A few well-placed diagnostic spells eased his worry and made him realize that there was no infection, she was simply having a nightmare.
Only when she shot up screaming, tears rolling down her cheeks did Severus realize there was nothing simple about it. Her eyes looked so haunted and terrified through the layer of salty tears.
“Miss Granger,” he said softly, keeping himself firmly seated in the chair so that he would not startle her.
Her eyes stared out, filled with pain and sorrow, then flickered to him. “Professor Snape?” she whimpered, blinking as though trying to focus. Her knees curled up, pressed against her chest, and she wrapped her arms around them as she rocked herself.
“Miss Granger,” he repeated once she seemed a little more focused. “Can you tell me what happened? I have treated your wounds, but there was only so much I could do without knowing the circumstances.”
The young woman shook her head, then hid her face in her knees. Though she wasn’t looking, he motioned to a tray on a stand next to the bed. “There is food and water, if you find yourself in need of it. The lavatory is down the hall, last door on the right. I will be downstairs should you need me.” He nodded at her once before standing and leaving the room.
I am sure by now that you are wondering just what happened to that young woman, and how I might have helped things along. All I will say on the matter is that it is truly terrible some of the things you mortals do to one another.
You cannot imagine how difficult it is to not interfere more often. If we did, They would begin to notice, and then They would punish us. Severely.
And then who would weave the tapestry?
No, our interferences must be quite minor and extremely infrequent for them to go by unnoticed.
That is why, for the first time in over three hundred years, I decided to help again. And so, when that young woman was on the cusp of unconsciousness and about to Apparate with only a face in her mind, the face of the man she knew would be able to help her, I gave her his location.
She might have managed to find him with his face alone, but why take the chance? My interference wasn’t so big, after all, was it?
She didn’t come downstairs for quite some time. In fact, it was a while before he even heard the telltale creak of the floorboards shifting as she walked across them. She still did not come downstairs.
Severus made tea and dug a tin of biscuits from his cupboard. As he waited on the tea and munched a biscuit, he pondered the young woman upstairs.
He heard the pipes rattle as she turned the water for the shower on. He certainly didn’t blame her. A cleansing charm was never as thorough as a good washing, and after what she’d gone through (even though he could only imagine the extent of it) he would have wanted to wash up, too.
It had been five years since he’d seen her last, but he would never forget those wild curls or that fierce look in her eyes when she’d told him in no uncertain terms that if he wanted to be alone, then it was his own choice, but not to be angry at those who deemed him worth of their friendship.
He’d chalked it up to her habit of taking up causes. He hadn’t wanted friends. All he’d wanted was to leave all of it behind him. And he did. The last time he’d seen her, they’d had a vicious argument, and he’d walked away and never looked back.
But he’d never forgotten that look in her eyes.
Now he wondered if he would ever forget the look in her eyes when she’d come screaming back to consciousness.
The tea was long past cold when she finally came down. Her hair was dry, and it looked as though she’d transfigured the nightgown into simple black robes. She looked perfectly normal, so long as one did not look too closely into her eyes. She tried, oh he could tell that she tried, to close off from her emotions, but they were there, if you looked close enough.
“I’ll be leaving in just a moment,” she said, her voice carefully controlled. “If you would let me know the cost of the supplies you used for my… care, I will of course, compensate you for them.”
Severus could respect her obvious wish to not discuss just why she needed cared for, so he did not pry. He wouldn’t deny that he was curious, he’d just learned a valuable lesson in tact that many others had seemed incapable of learning. “All right,” he said simply.
Hermione nodded once and then turned to leave. She even took a few steps before pausing. She did not turn around, but he noticed that her hands raised, and he could imagine that she was covering her face against some emotion.
“Thank you,” he heard her whisper before she fled from his home.
I will never understand how mortals are so blind to what is right in front of their eyes. I do not know that I have ever been so sorely tempted to interfere unnecessarily as I am at this moment. It should not matter that they were both too stubborn to move forward, that she was too broken to stay and let him help her heal.
For now, I will have to exercise patience and hope that I have planted a seed that will grow and bloom into the love that I can see the potential for.
For now, I will continuing weaving, and I will keep watching.
Severus tried to sleep. He gave it his best effort. And, really, he ought to have been exhausted. The problem was that he could not get her off his mind. Not only was he curious about what had happened to her, but he wanted to know why she had come to him. Ever more curious was how she had found him.
And just why was someone knocking on his door at—he glanced at the clock beside his bed—four o’clock in the bleeding morning?
Severus slid out of bed, pulled on his robes, and went downstairs. Whoever was at the door was still knocking insistently, and he went to see who it was. When he saw her on the other side, he opened the door swiftly.
“Back so soon?” he quipped with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes,” Granger replied simply. “Please, may I come in? It’s urgent.”
He stared at her for several moments before finally nodding and motioning her inside. She hurried in, and he shut the door, turning to look at the young woman with his arms folded across his chest.
“It certainly doesn’t seem to be as urgent as your previous intrusion upon my doorstep,” he noted. She flinched.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. After letting it out slowly, she looked at him and said, “I need your help.”
“Obviously,” he stated simply. With what, he couldn’t help but be curious. He wondered if it was anything to do with the mess she’d apparently got herself into not even twenty-four hours prior.
“By the way, one galleon, six sickles, and three knuts worth of supplies were used for your care last night,” he informed her as he turned and made his way into his kitchen. “Would you like some tea?” he offered.
“Will there be a charge for that, as well,” she replied tartly.
Severus glanced over his shoulder at her, one eyebrow raised in derision. “If I am to suffer your presence this early in the morning after having spent several hours seeing to your survival, then I am going to do so with tea. Black, with just a spot of firewhiskey. Now, if you would prefer to stand there being rude to me in my own home after I have treated you with nothing but professionalism, I will kindly ask you to leave immediately.”
She looked appropriately abashed. “My apologies, sir. It’s simply been a very long… few days,” she admitted. “I would love a cup of tea, thank you.”
Granger slid into one of the rickety chairs at his table and folded her hands in front of her. He could tell she was watching him make the tea, but he was determined that he would not press her just yet. She had come to him for help, and he was curious, so he would wait until he’d had his whiskey-laced tea before demanding an explanation if she hadn’t offered one yet.
He didn’t have long to wait, however. Just as he was pouring the tea into cups, she spoke up. “Have you heard of the Illuminati?”
Severus’ hands stilled at her question. He turned sharply, pinning her with a furious glare. “Just what have you got yourself mixed up in, Miss Granger?”
Granger flinched, but it was such a small gesture that he would have missed it had he not been watching her so closely. She didn’t back down, however, and for that he found himself respecting her just a tiny bit more.
“Trust me, I know this is big—bigger than me or you or Dark Lords and heroes.”
He detected a trace of fear in her voice. Good. She should be worried. He didn’t know what her predicament had to do with the Illuminati, but if they were involved in any way, it did not bode well for her. And now she was wanting to drag him into it, as well.
“That is an understatement, Miss Granger. I have lived through far too much to pit myself against a force I have no chance of besting. I would appreciate if you did not bring such conflict to my doorstep.”
“They left me for dead, sir,” she informed him abruptly. “As far as they know, Hermione Granger no longer exists, and I need your help making sure it stays that way. There’s going to have to be an investigation and official declaration of my death. I’ll have to take on a new identity.”
Severus raised an eyebrow. “What purpose would it serve me to help you?”
Granger smiled slowly. “You healed me. You don’t think they’ll take kindly to your interference, do you?”
His eyes flashed, and he crossed the distance between them in three long steps. “Don’t you dare threaten me, Miss Granger,” he said in a low voice as his hands fell on the table on either side of her.
She sighed, closed her eyes, and shook her head. “I either must appear to be dead to the world, or I will end up dead. Please, they will never stop looking for me if I can’t make them believe that I’m dead.” She opened her eyes, then, and looked directly into his eyes. “Please help me.”
Severus stared into her eyes for almost a minute before he pushed away and went back to the tea. He brought it to the table and sat down before speaking again. “How did you get mixed up with them?”
She took a sip of her tea, and then said, “I was approached by an individual and offered the opportunity to take part in a highly confidential undercover assignment. I was given key, unrevealing details of what the assignment would entail and told that if I chose to accept it, I would not have the opportunity to change my mind.”
“And you accepted the assignment blindly,” Severus deduced.
“Not blindly, no. He impressed upon me the risks involved,” she explained. “And after I accepted, I went through a year of rigorous training before I was given my instructions on how to infiltrate the organization.”
“Why would they choose you. Forgive me, Miss Granger, but you hardly have the makings of a competent spy.” Though his words were somewhat apologetic, they were said with derision.
“Apparently you’re correct. However, I was able to investigate from the inside for nearly five months before being discovered. I managed to gain enough information and relay it back to my boss before being discovered, that I have accumulated significant compensation.”
Raising an eyebrow, Severus pointed out, “Which you will not have access to because you will be dead, real or faked.”
To his surprise, Granger grinned. “Give me some credit, please. Said compensation has been liquefied from the start. My account merely holds my meager Ministry wages which, according to my will, I’ve left to the Hogwarts Scholarship Fund.”
Severus was not planning to admit it, but he was impressed with her forethought. All things considered, he really shouldn’t have been surprised, seeing as it was a credit to her ability to anticipate and plan ahead that Harry Potter had managed to survive time and time again.
A silence settled between them, thick with tension. Severus leaned against the table, looking down into his cup as he thought about what she was asking him to do for her. If he was found out (which he had absolutely no intention of, should he agree), the consequences would be severe.
The muggle conspiracy theories surrounding the Illuminati were mild and innocent compared to the truth of them. He was already involved now, he knew that much. Whether he helped Granger now would only serve to cover his own tracks, and as long as he did so thoroughly, he should have nothing to fear for retribution.
He knew what he had to do, and they were wasting time, time that they didn’t have.
“I’m going to need some of your blood, Miss Granger.”
I continue weaving their threads, my mouth set in a tight, annoyed line.
Stubborn, infuriating, sacrificing mortals.
He just let her go without asking her where she was going. I had hoped - oh, how I had hoped! - that he would see the potential in her, as I have seen.
Stupid free will. What is the point of them having it when they don’t understand what they can do with it?
I am determined that this will not be the last time that their threads will cross.
HERMIONE GRANGER’S BODY DISCOVERED
Early this morning the body of Miss Hermione Granger was discovered near the Lockwood Reservoir in Walthamstow, London by a group of muggles which included Muggleborn Justin Finch-Fletchley, who recognized her and contacted the Ministry’s Magical Law Enforcement Department immediately.
Miss Granger’s death has come at a time when most have finally been able to put the ugliness of the war behind us, and so it is doubly tragic. Most remember her as a bright young woman who was full of life and eager for each challenge that came her way.
As she was an up-and-coming employee in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, she had already encountered many challenges and, we are told, was quite proud of the successes she’d managed during her years there.
Her career aside, Miss Granger had many other accomplishments to be proud of, not the least of which was her part in helping Harry Potter prepare for and defeat You-Know-Who in what has been deemed The Battle of Hogwarts on May 2, 1998.
Though he is Deputy Head of the Auror Office, Harry Potter will not be leading the official investigation into the death of his long-time friend. When asked why, he responded, “I loved Hermione like a sister, and though I will do everything I can to discover what happened to her and bring her murderer to justice, I can’t trust myself to view the facts objectively.”
Severus didn’t know why he continued to check his mailbox every day. He never received mail through the Muggle post, but even though five years had passed since Hermione Granger had disappeared from his life and their world forever, he couldn’t help but wonder if he might receive something from her to let him know that she had managed to find her refuge.
He hadn’t asked where she would go, and she hadn’t offered the information. He’d done his part to ensure that the body found in Walthamstow would be confirmed as hers no matter how they tested it, thus ensuring that she would be unequivocally pronounced dead.
The investigation into her death hadn’t come anywhere near him, though he followed it as closely as he could through the little tidbits that were printed in articles here and there.
Her murderer was never found, and over time people went back to their lives. Every once in a while, someone would remember, but for the most part, people simply let it go. There wasn’t another murder that anyone could relate to hers, and the investigation dead-ended, so why would they continue to focus on it?
He had given her his address, in case she should ever need to get in contact with anyone, though, so he checked every day.
It was on the fifth anniversary of her official death day that he received the letter. It was addressed in neat handwriting that was similar enough to hers that he could recognize it, but not so similar that someone who hadn’t graded six years worth of her essays would recognize.
Severus took the letter inside, slipping his finger between the folded bit of paper to peel the seal away as he sat down. It was a short letter, and as he read, he felt a grin stretching across his lips.
Dear Mr. Snape,
I hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the peaceful life you have worked so long and hard for. I wanted to thank you for your help and to assure you that I am doing very well since last we spoke.
I hope that I am not being too forward, but I thought I would give you the opportunity. You have spent a very long time in England and should you desire a bit of a holiday, I know of a fantastic bed and breakfast in Collingwood, New Zealand.
It’s quiet here in the fall, and so lovely. I do hope you’ll come and visit. There is so much I’d love to talk with you about.
Before he could find a reason not to go, Severus set up everything he would need for it and began the first true holiday he’d had in… well, ever. A holiday that would include long walks on the beach, engaging conversation, and an unexpectedly beautiful witch sharing his bed.
It was a holiday that began and turned into the rest of his life.
It may have taken longer than I’d anticipated, but that is a result of the free will mortals are blessed with. In the end, I always knew that these two threads, both a surprisingly bright silver, were meant to be entwined.
I am hardly ever wrong.
And really, what is five years compared to the lifetime together ahead of them?
I am sure that my assistance will no longer be needed in these mortals lives. It is time for me to keep an eye out for another worthy mortal…
A/N (again): I twisted Greek mythology and the concept of the Illuminati to suit my story. I hope that the results were worth the tedious research :-) Credit goes to gelsey for suggesting the Illuminati.
I also hope, Irish, that you have had a very lovely birthday, and that this prompt response turned fic was a pleasurable read for you! *hugs*