“Professor Snape?" asked a small voice.
Another knock but he continued to ignore it.
Another persistent knock.
It was half-past eight in the evening and he was halfway into his glass of wine.
"Professor Snape! I would like to ask something important about-"
"What do you want, Miss Granger?" he asked irritably as he waved his hand for his office door to open.
The wine glass had vanished from his table but Hermione was quick to notice and take note of it.
"I'm sorry to disturb you tonight sir but-"
"Just get on with it." he abruptly said. "What is it?"
She reluctantly entered and the door behind her closed and locked itself.
Suddenly, she wasn't sure if it was a good idea.
"You're well aware that it is almost curfew time, yes?"
"Almost sir." Hermione bravely answered him.
He sneered at her.
"What it is it that you couldn't wait till morning light? If this is about any error about my grading in the previous work, I assure you that you got lower than-"
"It's about Potions." Hermione quickly said before she let her cowardice at that moment eat her up. "It's about something that professor Slughorn asked us to do."
He raised his brow at her as she approached him and settled a parchment on his desk.
"Kindly respect that I now teach Defense Against the-"
"I know what you teach, sir." Hermione said adding the title quickly. "But you were our previous Potions Master and I would like to clarify something he taught us."
"Why don't you go to him?" Snape spat at her. "Why do you have to disturb me with this-"
"It's about a paper he asked us to write - "
"I'm no longer your Potions professor. I suggest you inquire with him any concern-"
“As I was saying,” Hermione continued, ignoring his reaction to her persistence, “this assignment that we have is due next week and the research material that he—“
“I said, I am no longer your Potions professor!”
“Yes, I know that, Professor!” Hermione interrupted him with a raised voice.
Snape looked up at her in astonishment.
“Please,” Hermione’s voice was desperate. “Professor, you’re the only one who can help me. You see, I think his details are incorrect, and I need to double-check with you so I can prove that my argument is valid.”
Unwelcome and uninvited as she was, Hermione moved to the other side of the table to stand next to the flabbergasted Potions master to show him a chart she had created an hour ago in the library.
“Please just take a look at this reference list and chart I’ve made. I’m quite sure there’s something amiss about his details regarding this potion.”
Hermione handed him the chart. He took one glance at it and then turned and walked away.
Snape heard the frustration in her voice as he walked toward his storage room, which led to his private laboratory. He could hear her hurried footsteps behind him, but he continued ignoring her.
He reached his storage area and swiftly turned to her. She halted in shock.
“I will repeat,” Snape breathed out at her, “I am no longer your Potions professor, therefore, any inquiries should be directed to Professor Slughorn.”
“I already told you that I’m aware of that and you're not listening to what I have to say!!” Hermione argued, raising her voice.
He stared down at her unbelievingly.
Hermione blinked; realizing her mistake, she looked away from him.
Snape saw her consider the idea of running.
He stared down at her with both anger and question in his eyes.
What could be so important in that assignment for her to be this desperate for his knowledge?
Hermione glanced right back up at him, and he gave her his most terrifying glare.
“I know you’re not our Potions professor anymore.” She sounded as if she was on the verge of tears. “But I already double-checked in the library, and I know he’s wrong. I was only thinking that perhaps you can help. You know this better than anyone else.”
“You are one insolent little—“
“I wouldn’t come to you if I didn’t think that you were the better Potions master.”
“Miss Granger, will you please hold your tongue?“
“You were my Potions professor for five years. I’m not going to let all that I learned from you go flying out of the window just because our professor now doesn’t know what he is doing!”
“Watch your mouth, Miss Granger!” he warned her, terrifying her with his loud voice and cold eyes.
He grabbed her wrists and pulled her farther into the laboratory.
“He was my Potions professor, in case you are forgetting, Miss Granger. He taught me everything I know—everything I have ever taught you.”
He pushed her away and settled himself across from her behind a long wooden table. “Everything that I have taught you came from him. Have some respect. Just because he’s getting older does not mean he doesn’t know his craft.”
Hermione didn’t say anything as she stood there, transfixed by the fuming form of her professor. She stood quiet and still, determined to get the answer she came for.
There was nothing but silence between them. He continued to glare at her, but it was no use. He finally shook his head and angrily grabbed the chart from across the table.
“Which reference books have you been reading?” he spat as his black eyes moved left to right.
Hermione blinked and came back to her senses the moment she realized that he was actually going to help her.
“Just the ones which are written there, Professor.” She pointed to the end of the parchment and waited for him to finish reading it. “The library books seemed to be missing some important selections that might be—“
He shoved the chart back at her, cutting off her words.
She watched as he swiftly moved toward two large bookshelves at the end of the room. She gawked at what looked like the most complex and significant collection of Potions books she had ever seen.
Hermione stared in complete excitement, anticipation, and curiosity as he opened the glass door of the shelves and quickly scanned the titles. She waited nervously behind him. Her eyes roamed over the shelves of potions and books around the room.
“Here.” Snape’s voice snapped her out of her reverie. “Bring it back in one piece the moment you finish reading what you need.”
Hermione stared open-mouthed at him.
He was offering her what looked like a priceless Potions reference book.
Her hands were trembling as she took the book from him. Her eyes were filled with excitement, and she breathed in the familiar smell of stored books. She could not wait to read it. She knew it was one of his most prized possessions.
“I’ll take good care of it, Professor.”
Snape watched as her eyes locked on the book. He was struggling to keep from smiling. He knew that look too well, and he knew what it felt like to hold such a precious and informative book. He could already imagine that she would not be present at dinner as she would surely spend hours in her room indulging herself.
He continued to stare at her in amusement. She was too preoccupied with the book to notice that his black eyes had run from her fingers and arms to her waist and skirt, which was askew from chasing him.
Snape suddenly blinked away when he realized what he was staring at. He made a mental note to take off points from her house for not wearing the proper uniform. Hermione was not wearing her usual school robes. Instead, she was wearing a dark blue Muggle blouse and a skirt that was shorter than her usual uniform. His eyes strayed to her legs, and the idea of taking off points flew out of the window.
“Thank you, Professor!”
Snape looked up at her excited expression. His brow furrowed, and he tried to look sour again.
“Where’s Potter?” he demanded.
“In the library with Ron,” Hermione answered.
“Tell him that the Headmaster is expecting him in his office at exactly eight tonight.”
“Why would the—“
Snape had already turned and walked away.
“If you do not need anything else, Miss Granger, I would appreciate it if you would remove yourself from my office. Now.”
“Oh, sorry,” Hermione said quickly, realizing that she was no longer welcome. She grabbed her bag from the floor and gathered the chart.
Hermione thanked Snape again as they returned to his office, but he was already acting as if she was no longer in the room with him.
Just as she made it to the door, Snape called her back.
“Yes?” she asked politely.
“Miss Granger, I am assuming you will be using this book as your personal reference and not for something sinister like cheating.”
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that Professor Slughorn had been bragging to the faculty that your idiot best friend is at the top of his Potions class since the term began.”
His black eyes met hers, and she saw a gleam of hatred in his eyes. Snape crossed his arms.
“He’s been telling us that Potter is a natural at the subject. We both know, Miss Granger, that Potter is almost as bad as Longbottom.”
“Professor, Harry has been—“
“Cheating in class. However, I have no evidence, so we’ll just say he’s doing something rather peculiar for Professor Slughorn. Miss Granger, you know better. Warn your friend. Cheating at Hogwarts is prohibited and will be severely punished. I suggest you take a look at his copy of Advanced Potion-Making. If you’re as smart as everyone claims, you will not let yourself be outdone by a cheater.”
There was a long pause, and Hermione felt that his black eyes were searching through her soul. “Professor, Harry is just really—“
“Get out, Miss Granger. I don’t need to hear your lies to cover up that boy’s shameful actions.”
Hermione’s eyes were filled with tears as she stared at Harry’s old Potions books. She had been cleaning their apartment all morning, and Harry had let her work her way through his small office, where she was free to go through his selections.
“Want to go to a Muggle movie?”
She felt a pair of hands wrap around her waist, and his lips melted along the nape of her neck.
“Harry, please,” Hermione whispered, pushing herself free from his grasp.
Harry blinked. He watched her turn away from him and return the Potions books to the shelf.
“It’s quite cold outside, and I’m sure that the rain is terrible.”
“It’s just a drizzle.”
“Harry, go if you want to watch a movie or something. I’m sure Ginny or Bill can accompany you after your Ministry duty. I’m not really up for it.”
“You’re not up to doing anything.”
“Harry, I just want to—“
“When will you ever be up to do anything again?” Harry’s eyes narrowed and grew dark.
“Harry, it’s just that—“
Harry turned away, and she quickly followed him out of his small office. She saw the frustration and anger in his eyes.
“Harry, wait.” She caught up to him and grabbed his hand.
“Harry, it’s raining. I just don’t feel like going out. If you want I’ll cook for us tonight, all right?”
Harry stared at her for a moment before pulling his hand back.
He shook his head and gave her a spiteful look.
“Eat here and read books again for the whole day, Hermione?”
His voice was growing angrier, and Hermione could tell that another row was about to begin.
“Harry, it’s not like that.”
“Yeah, it’s nothing that I could understand, is it?”
Her eyes watered, but she tried her best not to cry. She knew what he was pointing out and understood his frustration—she was also very frustrated with herself.
“Harry, I’m just trying to adjust. Just give me some time. I’m sorry.”
“Have I not given you enough?” he demanded as he moved away from her. "We've been here for three months! Three months, Hermione!"
Hermione didn’t answer.
She could see the hatred and disappointment all over his face.
But the anger written all over his expression was the reason she was seriously considering Mr. Oswald's offer.
“Harry, I’m sorry.”
Tears started leaking from her eyes, and the moment this happened, Harry turned back to her and quickly took her in his arms.
"I don't know how to do this.. how to start again.. Harry you've got to."
"It's fine, I'm sorry." Harry said taking her into his arms and sighing heavily.
He tried to calm her down—as he tried to calm himself down.
He was losing it. He was losing her.
He didn’t understand their situation any longer.
He thought that saving her from that criminal was enough to stabilize her life. But nothing he’d done since she’d returned had put her back to normal. The deeper his frustration grew, the more he wanted the trial to finish so Severus Snape would finally meet his fate in the hands of the Dementors.
Snape threaded the dark corridors of the castle.
It was past curfew already, and he was bound to go back to their cottage.
This was his daily routine for the past few months. Since he had taken Hermione Granger—hidden her from the Wizarding World—he had crossed from the cottage, Hogwarts, and Malfoy Manor. Back and forth his life went into this cycle.
Most of the time he was either at their cottage or at the castle, and the rest of the hours were spent at Malfoy Manor when the Dark Lord needed him.
He no longer took teaching duties at the castle—having been named Headmaster—and he had endured enough from Minerva and some of the school governors. But these little annoyances didn’t hold his attention.
The teaching duties were given to the usual professors and to the Carrows. All he had to do was to make sure that no blood was spilled. At times, the Dark Lord would need him to brew a potion or he’d be called in for a meeting. But most of the time he spent in the cottage with Hermione.
He made sure that she was comfortable. He made sure that she was well-fed and that she was healthy. He wanted to make sure he took care of her as well as he possibly could.
It was his duty.
Of course, it wasn’t an easy task. She was constantly having tantrums and asking about the outside world, demanding to know the whereabouts of the people she loved and cared for.
It was a struggle, but he needed to keep to his mission. There was no way in hell that he was going to let her out of his sight just because she wouldn’t listen to him. And now he had to go back to the cottage and relay the news that her beloved best friend—Ronald Weasley—was already gone after an attempted attack and rescue with some of the Order members. He could only sigh heavily as he walked out of the castle grounds to return to the cottage; Hermione had no idea what the future years would hold.
“Granger?” asked a voice behind her.
Hermione was taken out of her quiet musings as she stared by the Ministry lobby's extravagant windows where the rain outside was clearly pouring.
She turned and gaped at the sight that greeted her.
"Malfoy?" she gasped in surprise.
Draco Malfoy was standing in front of her with that familiar daunting look over his pointed pale face.
"I didn't.." Draco began not really knowing what to say. "I mean.. I've read the papers..and.. How have you been? I didn't expect..I didn't expect to see you this close."
Whatever Draco meant, she wasn't sure but she shook the hand he offered nevertheless.
"I'm.. I'm adjusting." Hermione said unable to contain her surprise at seeing him there. "How have you been? Your parents?"
She wasn't sure if it was the right thing she asked because she barely really knows what happened to the people after the war, let alone after ten years.
But Draco didn't seem to mind her question and seemed to understand her condition and situation prior to being rescued.
Hermione could only stare back at the boy she had not seen in many, many years.
He was no longer the boy she could remember that taunted and bullied her back at Hogwarts. And though his features were fully created out of his father's, something seemed different about him.
He had kept his hair short unlike his father; his physique, by all means, was obviously well-built than that of his father and but his facial features remained as handsome and had only grown mature.
"Why are you here?" she asked after finally finding her voice. "I mean.. Do you work here?"
"I just came back from a business trip," Draco admitted to her. "And I.. I was hoping to attend your trial."
Hermione felt stupid.
Ofcourse he would be there for the trial - Snape was his godfather.
Draco's smile widened a little upon seeing her encouraging nod towards him.
"I hoped to have been here at the previous trials," Draco said. But now I am here, I promise that I'll be attending the rest."
“I understand.” She was still not comfortable with the conversation or anything to do with the Malfoy heir.
“You all right?” he asked her with a genuinely concerned look over his face.
"I'm fine. Settling but good." Hermione replied. "You managing everything?"
"Yeah. Family business keeps me busy." Draco chuckled but looked flustered. "I've been around, traveled.. learned a lot about life."
"That's good for you," Hermione said. "you were made for this life to do well that."
He looked her in the eye, and Hermione could swear she saw a flash of interest or curiosity in those beautiful eyes.
“I know that things have not been well since I last . . .” he paused for a moment as he chose the right words to use. "What I mean is that-"
"Malfoy, I really need to go back to Harry." Hermione cut him short with a small smile.
Draco nodded in understanding as he extended his hand again towards her.
"It was good to see you. But I want you to know that I'm really sorry about what happened to Weasley."
Hermione nodded at him, her eyes averted as she reluctantly reached for his hand.
"Thank you, I also wish you and Mrs. Malfoy well." Hermione chirped in as she tried to make up for the small talk Draco had been dragging along.
"Oh, I'm not married. Granger." Draco was quick to correct her as he noticed her looking at one of the rings around his fingers. "It's not - it's just a-"
"Oh, that's not what I meant-" Hermione quickly corrected herself as they both wore a surprised expression and a glaze of red over their faces at the passing of misunderstanding between them.
Draco's eyes lit up and his face turned quite red.
"Oh, you meant - I mean, ofcourse you meant my mother-"
"Yeah, Mrs. Malfoy would have been - your mom, I meant your mom-"
"She..she passed away." Draco said shaking her hand and unconsciously holding it still as he went on. "It was bound to happen. She was very ill. Nothing at St. Mungo's could help her. It was something along the bloodline or something."
"I'm so sorry to hear that." Hermione apologetically said holding his hand still. "I didn't mean to.. I didn't know."
A moment of pause came across them and they just stood there, holding one another's hand and staring at one another.
"I have to go, Malfoy."
"Please call me Draco. I do hope to see you around." he offered unsure why he said so. "I know. I know.. we weren't exactly friends back at school but I don't think formalities are still needed-"
"Enjoying ourselves and getting re-aquainted?"
They both looked up and saw Harry striding closer towards them.
Hermione quickly broke their hand contact but without Harry nor Draco missing the movement.
"Comfortable?" Harry asked Hermione before turning to Draco to acknowledge his presence. "Malfoy."
"Potter." Draco nodded in response.
"Come, we have to go. I want our usual place." Harry said kissing her over her forehead and placing his hand around Hermione's waist as he pulled her closer to him without taking his off Draco as he moved her away from him.
"It was nice seeing you, Granger." Draco could only call out nodding at Harry.
"See you around, Malfoy." Harry said in a monotonous tone.
The last time he had seen Draco was a few years back—the court trial of Lucius Malfoy and at the hospital when he heard about the death of Narcissa Malfoy.
Harry was there at the hospital when she was dying; she was being transferred back to the Manor to die in peace, per her wishes.
He had been there for two reasons that day. The first one was because of his duties as an Auror, to trace the lives of those who had been connected to the Dark Lord. And the second reason was that it was the day Fleur was feeling ill, and he had to accompany her to St. Mungo’s instead of Bill, who had been assigned on a three-day trip to Germany.
Although he had made the decision to make all Death Eaters liable for Hermione’s disappearance, he had to admit that the death of the famous Narcissa Black Malfoy was something he hadn’t anticipated. And at the funeral, which he had attended, it was the very first time that he had felt the briefest pity for Draco Malfoy.
"Malfoy was warming up to you." Harry made a comment as he walked them back to the. "Were you feeling the same cozy way?"
"I didn't expect to see him." Hermione said in defense looking at him in an offended manner. "He was the one-"
“I didn’t say you did.” Harry stared at her, slightly annoyed.
"He mentioned Narcissa Malfoy." Hermione softly said.
“She died a few years ago." Harry simply said as Hermione hanged onto the story. "It was agonizing to be at that funeral. Lucius Malfoy wasn't there. Malfoy had limited the hours and the people who were invited. He stood there after hours when people were gone. I didn't expect to feel that much pity for Malfoy that day."
“He seems happy now,” Hermione pointed out. "Peaceful life."
"He's just like his father," Harry said as they settled on their usual bench. "Why wouldn't he enjoy the life he has now. He has everything."
“I didn’t hear that Lucius Malfoy died,” Hermione said ignoring his last bitter comment.
“Lucius Malfoy was sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban,” Harry told her. “His mind gave away just a few weeks after he heard about the passing of Narcissa. Draco has never visited him.”
That was a tough truth and she didn't expect it from Harry nor the story of Draco never visiting his father he seemed to idolize so much growing up.
Hermione wanted to ask Harry what else had transpired, but her attention was already taken by the Aurors and Ministry officials who arrived in the courtroom, dragging Snape along with the usual magical bonds.
Hermione’s heart leaped at the sight of him.
It pained her to see him like that. He seemed to be growing thinner every time she saw him. It was obvious that he had lost the will to live.