An Unexpected End

Chapter One:

Hermione saw him slump limply against the wall of the Shrieking Shack. Snape collapsed unceremoniously and raised a trembling hand in a feeble attempt to staunch the gushing blood from the wounds at his throat. His wand lay forgotten on the floor of the shack. Hermione could only watch, horrified, as the man in front of her struggled for breath.

Her friends had turned toward her to save Dobby when he had been grievously injured earlier in the year. No one turned to her now, but the sinking feeling of helplessness was just the same.

Harry had bent over their former professor and placed his hand over Snape's as the former potions master murmured something to him. Hermione couldn't understand the words through the sickly wet, gurgling sounds that accompanied them. However, she understood well enough when pearly white faux tears snaked their way down Snape's bloodied face. Suppressing a sob, Hermione produced a glass vial from her purse and thrust it toward Harry. She was unable to tear her eyes away from the bloody mess that was Severus Snape.

She wracked her brain for any spells or herbs that might be of use. It felt like a hopeless endeavor. The man's lifeblood was steadily pooling at her feet and she could think of absolutely nothing.

'What good is being a witch,' she thought miserably, 'if I can't even ease a dying man's pain! Think, Hermione. There must be something… anything…'

She combed her brain once more as she turned her wand around and around in her hands.

'Healing spells! There must be some sort of healing spell that can set him right.'

Kneeling down beside Harry, she shoved her friend aside just as he finished gathering Snape's proffered memories. She hed her want at the ready, pointed straight at the oozing mess that had once been Professor Snape's throat. Harry shot her a wild look, but said nothing as he scrambled out of the way.

"First thing is first," she mumbled to herself, trying to build a confidence she could no longer feel.

"Tergo!" She whispered hoarsely and the blood surrounding the wound was scourged away. Immediately, Hermione wished she had left the blood, as it covered a quickly festering gash the length of her hand wrapped around Snape's neck. She thought she could see his carotid artery pulsing faintly beneath the still sloshing blood.

"Oy!" Ron cried out suddenly from behind her. "What do you think you're doing?"

Hermione didn't have time for questions.

"I'm trying to save him you dolt! Help me think! There isn't much time."

She glanced at Snape's pained face through the tears in her eyes and fought back a grimace. No one deserved this. Whatever he might or might not have done before didn't matter now. He was a human and he deserved her best. The rest of it could be sorted out later.

"But, but he killed D-Dumbledoor!" Ron stuttered, completely ignored by the others.

Harry approached once more, crouching next to Hermione and peering uncertainly at the wounds she sought to mend. But Harry had only seen a couple of healing spells in his short stent in the wizarding world. Surely those wouldn't be enough. Still though, his mind flashed back to a time when Tonks had mended his broken nose. That spell healed bone though, not flesh. Slowly, another memory came to him. In this one, Snape flashed daggers at Harry before healing Malfoy of the Sectumsempra curse. Yes! That was it!

"Vulnera Sanentur!" Harry half shouted. He encouragement was all it took for Hermione to repeat his words.

The bleeding stopped with the first casting. Hermione gulped and tried again, her hand shaking with the weight of her task.

The wound began to knit, and with one final casting, the visible wounds drew completely closed. The skin was raised in scarred ridges and had a sickly purple tinge to it. Hermione could already see the tell-tale runners of blood poisoning stretching out from where Nagini's poisonous fangs had torn at Snape's throat.

Snape looked, if possible, more pale that ever before. He had lost massive amounts of blood and Hermione had no way of knowing what other internal injuries had been inflicted upon her former professor. But she couldn't focus on those. Instead, she summoned a crushed bezoar and a water flask from her pouch. As gently as possible, she coaxed the mixture down her professor's throat. Snape was barely able to swallow on his own and his eyes remained eerily distant. The process was agonizingly slow.

Ron watched her cradle the man's head and upper body as Harry aided her in persuading Snape's battered body to accept the drink.

"I don't understand it," he muttered morosely. "What are we going to do with him now, anyway?"

Hermione shot a sideways glance at Harry, who appeared just as perplexed as she felt.

"I mean it's not like we're busy trying to fight You-Know-Who or anything!" Ron continued, standing with his arms folded over his chest.

"I know," Hermione squeaked. It all seemed so terribly out of her hands, despite her best interests. There were people, friends, dying up at the castle at this very moment she could do nothing. She tightened her grip on Snape's trembling shoulders, trying to assure herself that she was helping somehow.

Snape stirred, as if sensing their distress.

"Leave me," he rasped, his thin chest heaving with the effort of speech.

Hermione shook her head frantically, tears falling freely down her cheeks.

Shape's mouth opened as if he wished to say more, but no sound escaped. Apparently he lacked the strength for further communication.

"Mungo's," Harry interjected. "They can care for him there and you can return to help us here. We're going to need you Hermione."

Hermione wasn't so sure, but Harry looked set and it wasn't as if there was anything else she could do. Nodding to her friends, she shifted her grip on the dying man and disappeared with a sharp pop.

Author's Note: Yes, this is one of those 'what if Snape survived' fics. I can't seem to find one that really satisfies what I'm looking for, so I figured why not write one myself? Let me know what you think of this. I'm still working on my Harry Potter duet. My hard drive crashed and took everything I had so far on that one. I'll be updating my Bleach fic shortly too, I hope. Please, please, please review! I'm not above begging for reviews. Second chapter should be up within a day or so.