Severus waited until after breakfast before he decided to visit the Headmaster. Now that school was over he had eaten comfortably in his own chambers, lounging in his favourite armchair while browsing through the newest issue of "Moste Potente Potions", his favourite potions paper. He felt great, he realized, and there was no logical reason for him to. Dumbledore had been gravely wounded just yesterday and if he wasn't wrong, tonight or tomorrow the Dark Lord would call him and his other followers to celebrate the end of the term. And those celebrations usually meant that there were at least a few of them punished or rewarded. Severus found both options equally unappealing.
When Severus entered Dumbledore’s chambers, the man was already back at his desk and apart from his blackened hand, there was no sign of something being amiss. Severus knew the truth, of course, but he wasn’t even sure if Poppy was aware of the man’s condition, as she probably wouldn’t have so carelessly allowed him out of bed otherwise.
“You’re up,” he said instead of a greeting, looking at the old man with an almost accusatory expression. “You shouldn’t be.”
Albus smiled good-naturedly. "My old bones aren't made for lying in bed for an extended amount of time. Apart from that, I feel like I still have a lot to do, before I can leave this world without feeling like I failed you."
Severus nodded. He could relate to that. “Maybe I can help with this feeling, as I have come to seek your... help.”
Instantly Dumbledore's eyebrows rose in interest. "You have? Interesting. Apart from the one time so many years ago, you haven't asked for anything, my boy. You have always done as I told you, you never complained and never asked for anything in return; until now, which is why I find this discussion most intriguing." The man smiled at Severus, his blue eyes staring at him full of interest. "What can I do for you, my boy?"
For a moment Severus found himself frozen in place, as he suddenly felt like he was a schoolboy again, his heart thudding with nervousness. Merlin, how should he even begin to explain his sudden problem? For a moment his mind seemed to have gone blank while his throat felt unusually tight, which made him feel like he wouldn't even be able to get a single word out. But it was laughable, of course. He had served an evil megalomaniac for years, betrayed him and he was still alive. He could face Albus Dumbledore, too. “Something is wrong with me, Albus,” Severus finally admitted, looking at the old man desperately. “First I thought I was unwillingly given some sort of potion or had been cursed, but I checked and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with me. But there is .”
Albus stared at him, his blue eyes calm. “How do you come to that conclusion? Are you feeling unwell? Have you checked with Poppy?”
Severus waved him off with an annoyed grunt. “It’s complicated,” he said, trying to find the right words. “It is more like I have suddenly gotten emotionally attached, which I did not . But for the last few days, I feel the constant need to be close to a certain person and if I stay away for an extended period of time, I start feeling... unwell." It was an understatement, but Severus didn't want to sound too dramatic.
"Is that so," Albus said, the spark of interest clearly visible in his eyes. "Tell me, Severus, does the malaise disappear if you are seeking out said person? How does it feel if you are close to him or her?”
The potions master sighed. “I feel... content, sometimes even happy. I know it doesn’t make sense as...”
The Headmaster silenced him with his hand. “Oh, it does. I’m assuming we are talking about a student, which is why you seem especially... agitated. Am I right?”
Severus stared at him with a dumbfounded expression. “I... how did you know?” he asked. When there was no answer for him, but Albus continued to look at him with raised brows, he sighed and said: “Yes, it’s a student. “
Albus strangely didn’t seem unsettled by his words, just nodded, like this confession was only another puzzle piece that fit his theory. He didn’t know if that fact unsettled or reassured him.
“Are you aware if said person displayed equal signs of unwellness if you are apart?” the Headmaster continued, and Severus looked at him with his lips pressed into a slim line.
“I haven’t spoken to her about this,” he admitted. “But from what I came to observe, it might very well be the case.”
Albus’ mouth twitched and for a moment he studied his former student, stroking his beard. “Well Severus, the good news is that you are not cursed or in any other way outwardly manipulated. What you experience is a very rare occurrence, also known under the term of Kindred Magic. Some people do also use the term of Kindred Spirits, which might be better known to you, but in my opinion, this term is highly overused and does not describe the situation very well."
“Kindred Magic,” Severus repeated tonelessly, without really understanding.
“Yes, my boy. There seems to be a person very similar to you, who a short while ago came of age. If I would have to make an educated guess this person found herself in a severe amount of danger a few days ago, which caused her magic to call out to the person it recognised as a mate.”
“A mate,” he echoed dully, only to find the Headmaster nodding affirmatively.
“You must admit that you and Miss Granger are similar in character; your shared thirst for knowledge only being one thing both of you have in common,” Dumbledore said, with a knowing smile.
Severus looked at him with wide eyes. “I never said it was her,” he defended himself and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “But more importantly, your theory has one major error: Miss Granger does not come of age until September.”
Dumbledore looked at him smugly and for a short moment, Severus felt the strong need to wipe that grin from the man's face. But he forced himself to remain as calm as possible. There was no use in losing his temper now. "Officially. But the official records do miss the fact that Miss Granger was in the possession of a Time-Turner for almost a full year."
"You gave her a Time-Turner," Severus said and stared at his conversation partner in shock.
Albus nodded. “I did. She is a very ambitious student, as you are very well aware. The poor girl could simply not decide which courses to choose for her third year, so she chose them all.”
Severus snorted. He simply could not help himself. Of course, the little Know-it-all had wanted to sit through every lesson that the school had to offer. "But that doesn't mean we are kindred spirits, Albus. Merlin, look at me. I am dark and snarky, not to forget a fucking Slytherin. We couldn’t be any more different if I tried .”
“Really, Severus? I remember you well, as a student and since then, there has only been one girl methodically digging through the library as you did. But that is not everything, my boy. She is fiercely loyal to her friends and so are you. Granted, you don’t have many friends, but the one friend you made... Do I have to bring up more?” the man asked, looking at him with blue, inquiring eyes.
Severus pinched his nose and took a deep breath. “There has to be another explanation, Albus. This cannot be it…” he mumbled, the desperation slowly creeping into his voice.
The headmaster smiled at him good-naturedly. “You spent an extensive amount of time studying the Dark Arts, Severus. I did the same, only with the opposite kind of magic. Many wizards smile about my inclination towards the magic of the light and that I firmly believe that love evokes the strongest kind of magic. But this is not the point here. The point is, that I have studied this branch of magic for many years and Kindred Magic is the explanation for the condition you find yourself in, no matter if this is what you want to hear or not.”
“I don’t, Albus, I really don’t. Merlin, what do you expect me to do with this kind of information?” Severus asked, staring at the man in bewilderment. “I am old enough to be the girl’s father. I cannot simply… mate her, I am not an animal!” The last words he had shouted towards the old man, leaping from his chair as he did.
Dumbledore did not react to his outburst though, just stared at him calmly. “That is for you to decide, Severus. You don't have to do anything with it at all, of course. But I assume you'll at least not want the girl and yourself to suffer unnecessarily, which means that some contact would be required. It doesn't have to be physical contact, you see."
Severus looked at him with a contemplative expression. That could actually work. He could calculate the maximum amount of time that he could spend apart from the girl, without either of them feeling any form of discomfort. The girl wouldn't even have to know about this unfortunate connection between them, if he planned and executed things right. He'd been a spy for years, after all, able to trick even the Dark Lord. He could surely do it with one teenaged schoolgirl, too. "I'll find a way to do it," he finally grunted absently, his mind already planning out his first steps. He'd try finding some book on Kindred Magic, and starting a research diary was surely a good idea as well. He could use Miss Granger’s last days at the castle to get this study rolling and plan out his further interaction with the child.
"Very good," Albus replied with a satisfied nod. "You will find that strengthening that kind of connecting will have certain magical advantages. I wouldn't be surprised if you soon experience a rise of magical power, for example."
Severus nodded absentmindedly. Maybe there was also a way for him to quantify his magical power and add those numbers into his research diary, too? It would surely be an interesting factor for him to monitor.
“Would you like me to join your discussion with Miss Granger? I can imagine this is not your most anticipated conversation , but I could be there and answer the questions she will undoubtedly have,” the old man suddenly said and it took Severus a moment to understand the meaning of his words. But when he did, his head snapped up and he looked at the Headmaster intensely.
"I don't plan on informing Miss Granger of this unfortunate situation," he said decisively, and rose from his chair. "And neither will you, Albus. I don't want her to feel pressured or confused by the news and I don't fancy her chattering to Potter or her other friends about her being shackled to the bat of the dungeons." He pulled a face.
“Now, now, Severus,” Dumbledore tried to soothe him. “I think you are underestimating Miss Granger here. I am sure she could be persuaded to see the advantages of such a connection, especially once she realizes what great importance your newfound power gain could have for this war. She is a rational being as far as I know.”
Severus glared at him. “You are going to keep yourself out of this, Albus. I am warning you. There will be no meddling here. I am going to take care of this situation and I’m going to do it alone!”
With that, he rose from his chair and with a last warning gaze towards the meddlesome man he left his office with a huff. He’d have to keep an eye on Dumbledore, as the man could hardly resist sticking his long nose into things that were none of his fucking business. But he guessed the Headmaster had still given him some sort of good news. Severus was not cursed and even though there didn’t seem to be any sort of healing on the horizon, this situation seemed somewhat manageable. He would go about this methodically, like when he was creating a new, dangerous potion. If he gave this new project his full attention, then he was sure he could come up with some sort of satisfying solution – he usually did.
To Hermione's big surprise she felt fine when she awoke the next day. At some point during the night, her body must have calmed down, because whatever had bothered her yesterday was completely gone now. It was the first time in days Hermione actually felt like she would be able to leave the infirmary soon, at least for a few hours. Maybe she could ask Madame Pomfrey if she could go to the Library today, even if it was only for an hour. She longed to get out of this bed - or better, this room - even if it was just to stretch her legs or find somebody willing to talk to her. It probably sounded pathetic, but ever since she had been here, she felt a nagging loneliness inside her that made her realize how much she had already started to miss her friends. Was it too soon to write them a letter? Here, the school owls were still at her disposal and it was a shame not to make use of that, right?
Before she could come up with any sort of decision though, the doors to the infirmary opened and Professor Snape strode inside. He still wore his teaching robes, Hermione realized and his face was schooled into the usual unreadable mask. At least the sneer seemed to be absent from his features, probably due to the fact that he did not have to teach dim-witted students today, as he would surely say. Maybe she could persuade him to talk to her, at least for a bit?
“Professor Snape,” she greeted him happily and for a moment his eyes seemed to rest on her face.
"Miss Granger," he greeted her back, and for the tiniest of moments, she thought she saw a smile tug at his lips. But it was probably just her imagination. "How are you feeling this morning?"
“I’m feeling much better, Sir,” she said with a smile. “Yesterday I was feeling a bit under the weather, but your potions seem to have taken care of that, too. It’s brilliant!”
Her Professor blinked at her for a moment, before he nodded distractedly. “Is there anything else you need?”
Hermione thought for a moment. He’d probably sneer at her, but it was worth a shot. “I... I would like to get out of bed for a bit, Sir. Do you think it would be possible to make a short trip to the library? I really do feel a lot better, Sir. Maybe you could ask a house-elf to keep an eye on me, in case I faint in the corridors or something like that. Do you think that would be possible, Sir?”
To her surprise he did not mock her, just looked at her with a neutral expression. Somehow her Professor had seemed different these last days, less hostile than he used to be in class. Was it because there were no Slytherins around that forced him to pretend to hate all Gryffindors? Probably.
“I will accompany you,” Professor Snape suddenly said, making her stare at him in astonishment. “Madam Pomfrey will not be happy if you overexert yourself and I’m pretty sure she wants your health as closely monitored as possible. Would me accompanying you be acceptable for you?”
At first, she was too stunned to reply, which probably meant she was gaping at him like a fish. Finally, she caught herself beaming at him, full of gratitude. "This would be absolutely fantastic, Sir. But I don't want to be a bother or..."
“You are not,” he interrupted her, making a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Do you need help with getting up? Or will you manage?”
"I'm sure I'll be fine, Sir," she said hastily and pushed her blanket aside. A moment later she already swung her legs out of bed and got up. There was no dizziness or any other sort of discomfort, she realized with satisfaction. Indeed, she felt more energized than she had in days. Professor Snape really was a master of potions, she realized, and right now it looked like he could even be more collegial than he let anybody believe. Hermione was almost looking forward to spending time with him, even though it was probably just a matter of time until he sneered at her again. But she would take any amount of sneering if it got her out of these rooms for a while and if she got to visit the library at the same time, that was even better!