“Promise me to enjoy this time abroad,” Hermione whispered, tears glittering in her eyes. It had been three weeks since the attack on her home, three weeks she had thoroughly enjoyed spending with her parents at Hogwarts. She had shown them everything she could without getting into trouble. They had enjoyed several picnics and walks outside on the grounds, as the weather had been as great as it could be in Scotland. It had been wonderful and the three of them had grown much closer to each other. But no matter how pleased Hermione was about this new understanding between her and her parents, it made saying goodbye to them even harder now. “I’ll write to you as often as I can, but I’m not sure how often I can ask the school owls to travel to Germany and back.”
"We know, pumpkin," her dad said and pulled her into a hug. Usually, he wasn't as openly affectionate with her, especially not with others watching, but everything seemed to be different now, and Hermione was not complaining. "But we'll be fine, don't worry, and you'll be too. Just don't let those boys tease you too much, you hear me?"
Hermione nodded with a smile. “I can take them, dad, and I promise to be careful whenever I’m leaving the castle."
Her parents smiled and behind them, she could see Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape stepping closer to them. The Headmaster had already regained his second arm and Hermione could see him smile broadly at her and her parents. Professor Snape, on the other hand, was still lacking his left arm and Hermione could not help but wonder why he had still not chosen to regrow it, as the potion was finished for a few days now. But then she remembered that it was none of her business and focussed her attention back on her parents.
“It’s time,” she heard the Headmaster say and a moment later she saw him present an old-looking key on a delicate gold necklace to her mother.
“This is your port key. It will take you directly to your new home.”
Her mum took the offered gift with a wide smile. “Thank you, Headmaster Dumbledore. You have done so much for us and I don’t know how we’ll ever be able to repay you for your kindness.”
Her father nodded. "It's still a miracle how you restored our house that quickly, without any of our neighbours wondering about it. But I guess we'll slowly need to accept that magic can do even more incredible things than we'll ever be able to grasp." With that, her dad stepped closer and shook Professor Dumbledore's restored right arm. "If there is ever anything you need from us, Sir, don't hesitate to ask."
Professor Dumbledore smiled. “Your daughter Hermione did already more than I would have deemed possible for any witch or wizard her age. Trusting us with her care and education is all I could ever ask. I can imagine that parting from her is not easy. There is nothing more I could ever ask from you.”
Hermione’s parents nodded, as suddenly the port key in her mum’s hands started to glow.
“It activates in a few seconds,” Professor Snape said, his voice totally unimpressed. “Hold on tightly and don’t let go,” he instructed while gently putting his hand on her shoulder. Then he stepped back and pulled her with him.
"Goodbye mum, goodbye dad," Hermione said with a teary smile. But there was no time for them to reply, as her mum, her dad and Professor Dumbledore were pulled away from her a moment later, leaving her and Professor Snape standing alone in the grass close to the apparition point. She'd miss them, Hermione realized - more than she had after having finished her first year at Hogwarts. Yes, her first friendless months at the castle had been hard, but ever since she had found Harry and Ron being away from her parents had gotten more and more bearable. Now she realized that it was because they had slowly started to drift apart, with them being unaware about most things going on in her life. Today it was different. Now her parents understood why Hermione desperately wanted to stay and it made her love them even more for it.
“We should go back inside,” Professor Snape said behind her, his hand now gone from her shoulder. She had not even noticed him putting it there. “It will take the Headmaster a while to come back, as he wants to make sure your parent’s new home is properly protected. You should consider yourself lucky he has taken such an interest in your and your parent’s wellbeing.”
“I am,” Hermione said solemnly. “In more than one way, Sir. But I guess you are right. We should head back.” She turned back towards the castle.
“Wait,” he suddenly said, stepping next to her with two long strides. “I wanted to inform you that I will start regrowing my arm tonight. It might not be very pleasant and as you are forced to experience my… discomfort, I wanted you to be aware of what is happening.”
“Thank you for warning me. It’s alright, Sir. I’m sure I’ll somehow be able to handle it, especially now that I know that it’s not actually my own pain. Please don't worry about me."
Professor Snape nodded, his almost black eyes looking at her with an intensity that was hard for her to interpret. "I will not be able to take any pain-reducing potions," he said ”as they would interfere with the other one so…” his hand slipped into his robe and he took out a phial with a milky, purple potion. He offered it to her with a solemn expression. “In case you are not able to handle it, here’s some Dreamless Sleep for you. Regular pain potions would not help you, but this should be able to knock you out and let you rest. Tomorrow… things hopefully won’t be as bad any longer.”
Hermione carefully took the potion from him, their fingers brushing together as she did so. Now, that she was fully aware of the contact, her skin started to tingle and her heart stuttered in excitement. Merlin. She could only hope the Professor wouldn’t notice. “Thank you, Sir,” she mumbled, while pocketing the potion. “This is very thoughtful of you. I wish you a speedy recovery.”
“Indeed,” Professor Snape said, before he suddenly turned around and walked away from her. Hermione followed him with her eyes for a moment, her heart strangely aching with every step he took away from her. He would be alright, she told herself as she slowly followed him back to the castle. If something went wrong, that strange connection between them would let her know, Hermione told herself, and she realized that she was secretly glad about it.
Time of exposure: 31 minutes, 45 seconds
- 3 seconds (touching her shoulder to guide her into a safe distance for the port key to activate)
- 2 seconds (accidental brushing of fingers)
Now that our daily brewing sessions have come to an end, I find myself more and more restless. After meeting the girl at mealtimes, the urge to see Miss Granger seems somewhat lessened and even though no physical unwellness can be detected from my side, I find myself constantly wishing for her presence. Still, I forced myself to stay away from her as much as possible.
Tonight, I will finally take the potion to regrow my arm. I am not worried about the pain, as I have suffered through much worse. Still, I find myself uncomfortable at the thought of her experiencing it with me, which lets me hope she will take the phial of Dreamless Sleep I have given to her. I am used to suffering alone, after all, and I don’t need an innocent teenage girl to suffer with me.
The pain started right when Hermione was about to go to bed. She had expected it, of course, but for a moment she still sharply sucked in her breath from the intensity of it. Mercifully it wasn’t as bad as when the Professor had needed to remove his arm, but she still felt queasy at the thought of suffering through it all night. Maybe she should take the potion Professor Snape had given to her. But no, she wanted to know if he was alright, or if he was in too much pain, even though she wasn’t even sure if she would be able to do something for the man, if it came to that.
The minutes trickled by, one by one with maddening slowness. It was only fifteen minutes until she found herself pacing the room restlessly. More than once she found herself at the door, about to storm to the hospital wing but then she realized that the Professor would probably not want to have her there. It wasn't like she could do something for him anyway.
But still… Was the pain worse for him? And was anyone with him to see if he was alright? He would be at the hospital wing, right? There Madam Pomphrey would take care of him. Because no one should be alone while experiencing such an amount of pain.
After thirty minutes she found herself questioning all her decisions, her legs more and more carrying her towards the door, while she was clutching her arm below the shoulder. The pain was like a sharp throbbing, that slowly seemed to move downwards. Was that indicating that the arm was growing? Probably.
Merlin, she wanted to see him… she even neede d to. Why? Whatever this was, it was more than a stupid crush or anything she had so far experienced.
Hermione found herself moaning in frustration and walking out of her room a moment later. Somehow it was like her feet were carrying her without her guidance, seemingly knowing where to take her, without Hermione consciously being aware of her destination. She did not care. With every step she took her nervousness seemed to lessen, while her heart grew lighter and lighter until she found herself at a door, next to Professor Snape’s private lab, a door she had never before even realized being there in the first place. Strange. Why hadn’t she walked to the hospital wing? Somehow she knew she was at the right place though, her body humming in satisfaction, even though that did not make sense. But Hermione didn’t care, because being here felt right in a way her logic could not explain.
She did not even hesitate to knock on the door, even though her heart had started to beat nervously in her chest. Would he send her away? Or would he even open the door?
He did, Hermione realized a moment later, as the man was suddenly standing in front of her, his eyes completely black and his expression unreadable. “Professor Snape...I…” she mumbled, realizing that his upper body was only clad by a black vest, leaving his stump clearly visible for her. She stared at it with wide eyes.
“What are you doing here?” he asked with gritted teeth, even though she could have sworn that his voice was quivering for a moment.
What was she even supposed to say to that? There was no logical explanation for her being here. “I know I should not be here, Sir, but somehow it felt like I just needed to be. I didn't even know this door existed a few minutes ago, but still, I'm here and I… Merlin, I do sound completely insane, do I not?"
Professor Snape studied her for a long moment, his eyes taking in her wild hair and her nervous expression. “Indeed,” he replied, leaving it open which of her previous statements he was referring to. But a moment later he stepped aside, motioning with his head for her to step inside and Hermione hastily did so, without saying a word. As soon as she entered the room Hermione realized that she was in Professor Snape's private quarters. After stepping through a small cloakroom she entered a rather large living room with a comfortable looking leather sofa in the middle and at least ten stuffed bookshelves, lining the walls. There was also a large fireplace on the wall facing the sofa, as well as a large, fluffy, green carpet in front of it. Altogether the room was much more comfortable than she had thought, or Ron and Harry would ever believe, in the unlikely case she would ever tell them about her presence in these quarters.
“Sit,” she heard Professor Snape’s voice from behind and when she turned around she saw him walking towards her, before throwing himself on the sofa, his mouth set in a grim line. Hermione watched him worriedly for a moment, before she hastily chose one of the matching armchairs to sit down on it.
She was at a loss what to say, but she found her eyes being pulled towards him, seeking out his face and the area of his body, she knew was in pain right now.
“Are you alright, Sir? I… want to help…” she mumbled, fully aware how stupid she probably sounded. What could she even do, that he could not do himself?
“The pain is bearable,” Professor Snape answered, his eyes closed while his head rested on the sofa’s backrest. “At least for me. Why did you not take the potion I gave you? It was meant to help you through this.”
Hermione nodded, a weak smile on her lips. Now that she was with him, the pain had somehow lessened and was now totally bearable. It was like being close to Professor Snape and seeing his condition, somehow lessened the pain that was projected to her, if that made any sense - which it didn’t. “I’m alright, Sir,” she said, considering if she should tell the man of her theory. She probably should, as the Professor had already told her that information on their condition was difficult to find. But maybe now, when the man was suffering, wasn’t quite the right time. “I don’t know how to explain this, but taking the potion somehow felt wrong. I wanted to know if you are alright, Sir, or if I needed to get help.”
Professor Snape looked at her with a dark smile. "We are at Hogwarts, Miss Granger. One word and the house-elves would have taken me to the hospital wing. But I didn't see the use of submitting myself to Poppie's nagging, when I could instead heal in peace and quiet."
"Do you want me to go, Sir?" Hermione found herself asking nervously while taking in the man's appearance. There was a line of sweat on his forehead, while his long black hair was clinging even more to his skin than usual. And then there were his eyes: black fathomless orbs that did not have any expression in them and somehow that made her worry about him the most.
“If I didn’t want to have you here, I would not have let you in,” he answered simply, his voice even. “And I will not throw you out as long as you don’t start to annoy me.”
“I’ll try not to, Sir,” Hermione said, a hesitant smile creeping on her face. “Is there anything I can do for you, Sir? A cup of tea maybe? Or I could read to you from a book, to distract you from the pain, you know? Just tell me what you need. I’d do anything to help.”
At that, his eyes snapped open and he raised his head to stare at her with a look that made her shiver for a moment from its intensity . “Anything, huh?” he asked with a dark undertone in his voice. “I very much doubt that, girl. But I guess a cup of tea wouldn’t be so bad right now.”