One Last Caress
Snape was in tears.
He was alone of course; he would never allow anyone to witness such a moment of weakness, no one except her. He had spent years building walls inside his head and she had torn them down in an instant. He had closed himself off to the world so many years ago that he had forgotten what it was to feel like this, to feel love, to feel loved.
He ran his long, thin fingers through his lank, black hair and started at the floor through tear stained eyes. A single saline droplet ran down the length of his long, beak like nose and hung there for a few seconds before finally falling to the ground. He wrung his bony hands in quiet desperation while a torrent of emotions coursed through him like never before. He was used to rejection, throughout his life he had never been what you would call popular with the ladies, but this hurt in a completely different way. She had loved him; she had accepted him, and now this.
Part of him did not want to believe that it was happening, it just wanted to push it away like it had done to so many other things, but it was happening, it had happened. He only had to look at her to be reminded of the full weight of the situation, not that it ever fully left his mind. It was right here and now, there was no escaping it, something had to be done, responsibility lay on his narrow shoulders; at least that is how he saw it. He felt responsible; he blamed himself, how could she have known what she was doing?
He tried to look at her again but had to turn away, afraid that he might break down if he gazed upon her for too long. Why? That’s what he wanted to know, just why? The situation was never perfect, they both knew that from the start, but why this? Surely there were other answers, other solutions; they could have worked something out, they could have at least tried. All he had were questions; she held all the answers, lost to him now.
He stood up and began pacing around his darkened chambers, his hands still running over and over each other. He absentmindedly checked the lock on the door, now was not the time for interruptions. He knew that it would be locked; he had checked it several times in the last few hours, but he tried to keep his mind busy with unnecessary little jobs. He would check the lock, straighten his bookshelf, rearrange the potions, but nothing worked. No matter what he did he could not keep his mind away from her for more than a few moments. She swam in his blood, he was infected, saturated with her and he had relished every moment. Finally, he had found someone who he could let in, someone whom he could reveal his true self to.
The Serverus Snape that people saw on a daily basis was the product of years of hurt, pain and rejection. He had opened himself up too easily in the past and had paid dearly for it. People had betrayed his trust, taken him for a fool and humiliated him. The years had made him hard, made him cold, but the real Snape still dwelled somewhere within. The real Snape that craved acceptance and affection like rest of the world was still alive, but he was so well hidden that it was easy to forget he ever existed. A lot of the time it was easier to forget this Snape than try looking for him.
She had changed all that. He still did not know how she had done it, but she saw through his granite exterior and found the forgotten Snape, alone and scared. She had nurtured him; made him strong, given him confidence to surface and it was because of this that he loved her. He had not realised it at the time, but she was exactly what he was looking for, a kindly soul to draw him out of himself, to allow him to be Serverus from time to time, and not just Snape.
This was why it hurt so much, she was everything to him, and she had taken it all away in the blink of an eye. He knew they could not last, she knew they could not last, but they could have had more time together. She could have at least given him that. No, the deciding move was now up to him, and he had hoped they would face it together. He loved her too much to brand her selfish, she did what she had to do.
She did it well though, he thought, with a moment’s pride. She was such a bright student, untraceable, perfect. He held this thought for a moment, turning it over in his mind. Could it be the answer? Had it been staring him in the face all this time? The more he thought of it the more it made sense; there would be questions, far too many for him to answer, and a lot that he would not want to face. They had been a secret, it was the only way, no one would have understood. There was no keeping the truth from the people now, a day or so and it would be everywhere, leaving him no refuge. The repercussions of everyone finding out rushed past his mind’s eye with terrifying speed and even more terrifying clarity. A cold chill overcame him and with a shudder he resolved that they would never know the truth, any of them.
With his mind made up, Snape was like a man possessed. He went quickly to the shelves containing his potion bottles and started mixing ingredients. Bottle after bottle, jar after jar, Snape worked, mixing, adding, perfecting. It was a complex procedure, which is why he was so impressed that she had been able to do it. No doubt she had read up on it, that was her way. After an hour or two, which seemed to go by in a heartbeat in Snape’s mind, he was adding the very last ingredient. The colour of his potion went from slime green to royal blue, indicating that he had mixed it correctly. He ladled some into an ornate glass bottle that had the Slytherin emblem standing proudly on it. She once told him that she would change houses just to be in Slytherin alongside him, if that were possible, and it had melted his heart.
He hung the ladle on the side of the cauldron and slowly approached the bed, to where she had been lying, peaceful and serene.
‘One last caress Hermione my sweet,’ he said, almost in a whisper. ‘And then we shall be together again.’ He stroked her cold, dead cheek with a curled finger and gazed into her lifeless eyes.
One sip, that was all it took.