Severus watched the girl leave the room with hungry eyes. She hastened towards his small kitchen, her wild curls bouncing behind her while she hurried away in the hope to be helpful . Dear Merlin, she had no idea what she was doing to him. Somehow her scent was right in his nostrils even though she was several metres away. Her wild curls made him want to bury his fingers in them, messing them while his mouth kissed her pink lips until she whimpered beneath him. It would indeed help to distract him from the pain or in fact from anything that was not her but that was of course not the kind of help she meant when she offered to be of service to him. The innocent young girl that she was, she probably hadn't even considered him having such sinful thoughts.
But unbeknownst to her, she was still helping. Ever since she had entered his rooms, the pain had somewhat lessened until it was more of a dull throbbing that he did not feel the need to drown in Firewhiskey any longer. Not that he could have done so, as intoxicating himself could have ended with him having everything but a usable arm afterwards.
The girl being here with him was a small miracle itself. His private quarters were incredibly well warded, unable for any student to even find. Usually, he directed them to his office which was accessible for him in the blink of an eye and the wards there would alarm him whenever he was needed. Still, Miss Granger had found him and knocked at the door, that shouldn’t even have been there for her . It could only be due to the bond between them and the fact that he had desperately wished for her to be there with him. Severus could only imagine that his magic had called out for her, after the pain had started to set in, pretty much like her magic had called for him after she had been wounded in the Ministry of magic. Obviously, his magic gave a flying fuck about property, when it lured an innocent girl into his quarters while be barely had himself under control.
“Here’s your tea, Professor,” Miss Granger’s voice pulled him out of his thoughts. There she was, walking back to him with a tray, laden with a teapot and two big mugs, a friendly smile gracing her lips. How different and open she suddenly behaved in his presence, considering that she had barely talked to him in the last weeks. He wasn’t going to complain, even though his logical side already started to chastise him for letting the girl in. But right now he gave a damn about his logical side, not when having her here was feeling so good .
“I can see that,” he said, watching the girl as she poured him a cup of strong, black tea and offered him lemon, milk and sugar, which he refused. Then she settled back down in his armchair, adding two spoons of sugar to her own tea. Weren’t her parents dentists or something? Not that broken teeth mattered for a witch or wizard, as this was a thing magic could easily fix.
“Is there anything else you need, Professor?” the girl asked, eagerness substituting hesitancy in her voice. “Or should I just sit here and stop nagging you?”
He snorted. Then he considered her words. There was no question that he wanted her to stay. He could very well use their time together to build something like a friendly relationship with her, much like he intended to do during the last weeks. “How about you distract me by telling me about these microscopes, Miss Granger? Now, that I was not able to try yours with different potion ingredients, I started to ask myself if it would be possible to modify one with magical means, to make it work for the magical world. What do you think?”
Miss Granger looked at him with furrowed brows. “It could work, Sir. The only problem is the lack of electricity. But I guess as it is only needed for the light source, it could be replaced with a magical light, as long as it can be dimmed. If one was invested and creative enough, there could even be a few ways in which the device could be improved. That would be for later though, after one managed to get the microscope to work properly.”
Severus nodded. He could tell the project had gained her interest, as he could already see her planning out the first steps in her mind. Good. Maybe she would be interested enough to work with him on this little project, if he did not ruin things between them again by being an arsehole to her. “That sounds promising and very useful, if one could get it to work. But for that one would not only need a good grasp on Muggle science, but also a talent for Charms and Transfiguration.”
Miss Granger nodded, while her eyes seemed to stare unseeingly into the distance. He patiently waited for her to contemplate his words. After a while, she said: "Sir? I do not mean to pry but I wonder. You are a half-blood, are you not? Why do you need me to tell you about a microscope? Have you not attended Muggle school before Hogwarts?”
Severus considered how much he should tell her. His private life and especially his past were actually none of her business. On the other hand, her question was understandable, considering her upbringing, and to answer it, he would not have to reveal much. Still, it would be a good way to gain some of the girl's trust and maybe convince her, to work with him again.
“I was taught at home, as it is the case for many wizarding children. My mother was a pureblood and even though my father was a muggle, she would not have it any other way,” he explained, leaving out that he had begged her more than once to let him attend school, only to get away from home for a few hours. But it had been of no use.
“I see,” the girl answered, a pleased smile on her face. “Thank you for telling me. I will readily explain everything you want to know, Sir.”
“Very well,” he said, pleased to have found a thing they could work on together, as soon as he was recovered. “But not tonight, as my capacity to listen attentively is rather limited due to my current condition. As soon as I am recovered, I will gladly listen to your explanations, though.”
Miss Granger nodded, a smile on her lips. The sight of it, of her in his armchair, touched something deep inside him and for a moment the hungry animal within him reared its head again, demanding him to make her his. He pushed it away, squashed it, with everything he had. He would not touch the girl, at least not for quite a while or never, if she did not want him to.
For a while, there was silence between them and even though he enjoyed the girl's quiet presence, he could see her nervously gnawing on her bottom lip, probably unsure what to say to him. The gesture was enough to distract him from his pain for the next minute, until he realized he was staring at her mouth again and hastily lowered his gaze. Sweet Salazar. Those next minutes or probably hours would be a true challenge for his self-control. But he did not want to change the girl’s presence in his rooms, even if it made him happy and desirous at the same time.
Hermione felt… strange and that wasn’t even starting to describe it. The pain in her arm was almost gone and had been substituted by a strange prickling on her skin, that started to spread from her left arm, all over her body. It wasn’t uncomfortable per se, but she felt more and more restless, the longer she stayed in the Professor’s room, especially as she could feel his eyes on her now and then. Had he noticed something was wrong with her? She hoped not.
It was when she next glanced at him, that her eyes fell on his stump. It had definitely grown and now reached down until shortly above the point, where his elbow would hopefully soon be. The new skin was still rosy and fresh, but for now, everything seemed in order from what she could see.
“You’re staring, girl” he chastised her, making her realize how rude she had been. Of course, he would not want her to study that particular part of his body, no matter how fascinating it was to her.
“Sorry, Sir. It’s just that the potion seems to be working,” Hermione explained, her cheeks pinkening with embarrassment. “I hoped it would, as it had restored Professor Dumbledore’s arm, but I still could not help but be worried.” The Professor stared at her in silence, his eyes studying her with an intensity, that made her want to squirm in her seat. But she tried to remain still under his gaze.
“You were worried,” he repeated, his voice flat with a disbelieving tone.
"Of course I was." She said a little indignant. "I said I preferred you with both arms, Sir," Hermione replied defensively. "And I meant it." She added with a small smile that she felt fell flat.
“I see.” Professor Snape replied before he suddenly leapt from the sofa and started pacing the room. He hadn't even touched his tea she realized, forcing herself to slowly sip from her mug. The black tea would hopefully help her to stay awake because there was no saying, how long it would take for that arm to grow. It would probably be hours - but she did not anticipate to be allowed to stay for such a long time, even though she desperately wanted to. But with this awkward silence stretching on between them…
"What are you going to teach next year, Professor?" Hermione asked, in an attempt to keep the conversation going. She remembered him telling her that he would not continue teaching potions, but as he was still here she assumed, he would remain at Hogwarts in another position.
“I’m finally getting the chance to teach you some defence, Miss Granger,” he said, his eyes resting on her. “But it took Dumbledore running out of other options to finally give me the position.”
Hermione stared at him with wide eyes. “But they say there’s a curse on that position,” she said without thinking about it. But as she saw the Professor’s mouth curl into an amused smile she realized, that she probably shouldn’t have said anything.
“Then I guess you’ll only have to suffer my presence for one more year,” he replied, smiling crookedly at her. “Potter and your friend Weasley will be delighted.”
“I won’t,” she said, before thinking twice about it, and hastily added: “You’re a good teacher, Sir, and I am sure you will be doing much better than some of our previous defence teachers.”
“That’s hardly an achievement,” Professor Snape said mockingly, sitting back down on his chair. “It’s a miracle you’ve learned anything at all during those last years,” he muttered, before taking a large sip from his mug.
Hermione nodded with a sigh, but she did not comment. She was not going to complain about Professor Umbridge or Professor Lockard in front of another teacher, because that would have been incredibly rude. And Hermione was brought up to be better than that. Instead, she said: "I'm sure I'll learn a lot from you, Sir."
He looked at her with a dark smile, while his eyes focussed her with an intensity that made her shiver again. “We’ll see.”
The girl was killing him. Her innocence and naivety made him want to sneer at her, but at the same time, she really seemed to look forward to having him as a teacher and her concern for his well being seemed to be genuine, a realization that made him feel disgustingly warm and fuzzy inside. She cared about him, if only in a very impersonal or indirect way, which was more than he deserved after years of mocking the girl in front of his Slytherins. Most of the other students would have been gleeful at him losing his arm, or being the victim of the curse, that everyone believed befell every DADA teacher. He would not put it past the Dark Lord to indeed curse the position, as it had left the wizarding world with a generation of badly trained half-bloods and muggle-born students, as most Purebloods arranged private tutoring for their spawns during summer break. There, of course, was no proof of such a curse existing, but just in case he would terminate his contract for the position for a year, as he did not fancy dying now that he had finally found something akin to freedom and a person that seemed to care for him if only marginally.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a sharp pain in his growing arm. With a sharp intake of breath, he grabbed it with his other hand, staring at the growing stump with a dark expression. Of course, they had reached the elbow. Growing a whole joint would most likely be painful.
“Professor? What is it?” Miss Granger asked, hurrying to his side. Her face, too, was a grimace of pain and he realized that she must have received his discomfort, at least to some degree.
He felt himself sway on the sofa, leaning back heavily against the backrest, now desperately wishing for a pain potion again, like he had done before the girl arrived within his quarters. How had the Headmaster endured this without a Kindred Spirit to help him through the pain?
"Professor?" he heard her ask again, but apart from a groan, there was no answer from him, as he was simply in too much pain to explain. But he guessed he didn't have to, as the girl was able to feel everything anyway.
Then, a moment later she could feel her, as her small hands took his remaining hand and cradled it with worry. With pain clouded eyes he could see her caramel brown eyes studying his face, looking for answers to her questions, that he was currently unable to give. But her hand… it radiated a warmth into his body, that slowly crept up until he could feel the pain easing, if only slightly. Of course, he already had the theory of their bond being able to stimulate self-healing powers, as him touching her curse wound seemed to have helped with her recovery, too. What if… but no… he could not ask that of her.
“Growing an elbow,” he tried to explain with gritted teeth, “is apparently more painful.” He couldn’t see her reaction, as he had closed his eyes against the pain, but her hands did not let go of him and he tried to focus on her touch instead of the pain. If only…
“Is there anything I can do, Sir?” her small voice asked while her fingers shifted ever so slightly. “Should I get Madam Pomphrey or…”
“No. Stay,” he said, opening his eyes and locking eyes with her. “You are helping with the pain, can’t you tell?”
He saw her eyes go wide in realization. "You can feel it too?" she asked, looking down at their entwined hands and he slowly followed her gaze. Her hands were smaller than his, less wiry but still, the sight of his hand in hers made his heart jump with happiness and joy. She had touched him, out of her own free will, her eyes shining with wonder instead of disgust or resentment. It was a small miracle.
Severus nodded, too tired and in too much pain to keep things from her. Instead, he said: "Your touch seems to help…"
Miss Granger nodded, her eyes seeking him out as if to judge his reaction. “I could… I could try touching the… other arm…” she mumbled, so that he was barely able to hear her words. But he had heard, his heart stuttering at her suggestion.
"That would be inappropriate," Severus replied, but the usual sneer was absent from his voice. Instead, his voice was silent, almost hesitant, because he wanted her to do it, inappropriate or not.
"I know and I won't do it, Sir, if you are uncomfortable with me touching you there. But I want to help and if there is a chance of me being able to ease your pain…" The girl focussed him with her huge, caramel brown eyes, that seemed to almost beg him to give his permission. He could get lost in those eyes, he realized, could stare into them for hours, studying the different shades of caramel without getting bored. Those eyes could hold so many feelings, he thought and right now he found he could not deny them anything, not if the thing the girl asked was, what he secretly wanted, too.
“Do it then,” he replied, his eyes studying her as he did, looking for some kind of unwellness or fear. But there was none, only determination and kindness. “Touch me,” he said, his voice sounding hoarse, while his heart hammered agitatedly in his ribcage.
And she did.