The Order meeting was dragging on for ages, Severus thought, listening to Albus’ lengthy explanations with growing boredom. When the Headmaster had called him earlier via Patronus, things had sounded rather important. But now all necessary aspects of Albus’ plan to protect Potter on his little shopping trip tomorrow were discussed and Severus just wanted to go home, back into the library with his new, favourite research partner. If she was still asleep, covered by his robe? Or had she woken up by now, returned to her own rooms? He’d definitely check on her after he returned, as she could not remain sleeping in an armchair for the whole night. He knew from experience how uncomfortable this could get. But Albus just would not finish because the fucking Weasleys kept bringing up suggestions and further problems, that could possibly occur. For fucks sake, why could they not transfigure the boy and themselves and split up, like any other sensible wizard would have done?
Severus found his mind was slowly starting to drift, this ongoing conversation unable to capture his interest any longer. Instead, he started going through the information he had read tonight, information that hinted towards a hidden cave somewhere in North Scotland, where they would probably find what they were looking for. With a bit of luck, they would be able to find further hints and maybe they could even procure some crystals before the term started. Not that he did not find the evenings in the library quite enjoyable, but Severus honestly could not wait to look at the first probes of flixweed. He had always had the theory that depending on the area he picked the flixweed from, its properties differed, making it more or less effective for the potion.
Severus sighed with a small smile. He would also have to formulate an entry for his research diary. Not that something special had happened tonight but he had made it a routine to note every encounter he had with the girl, even though most of them were of no scientific value whatsoever. But if he was honest with himself, the little notebook had turned out to be more of a personal diary weeks ago and now that he thought about it he found, that he did not mind. Reading older diary entries helped him remember and more often than not they brought a smile on his lips. What should he write about today?
Severus was just about to plan the next diary entry in his head when a thought hit him with the impact of a bludger. His diary was in his robes , the same robes he had used to cover the girl with. He always used to carry it around, as he did not want it lying around for somebody to stumble upon his thoughts. In his robes it was safe, he thought, his stomach dropping with horror. It would have been safe if he would have thought for a moment before giving in to the sentimentality that made him want to see Miss Granger covered in his robes for once. Salazar, he was a fucking moron!
"I need to go, Albus," he found himself suddenly exclaiming, his chair scratching loudly over the kitchen floor of Black's childhood home. "I do have some urgent business I need to attend to, business that can not wait I'm afraid."
For a moment Albus' eyes met him and he could see the curiosity that reflected within them. It took all of Severus’ willpower to not openly growl at the old, nosy fool.
“Of course, my boy,” his answer came a moment later and Severus saw it as permission to bolt from the room into the cold streets of London. One apparition later he was back on the Hogwarts grounds. His feet barely touched the grass as he started to hurry back towards the library, his head once more mulling over the words he had written down in this fucking notebook. With the prospect of Miss Granger reading them, they did not make him smile at all. She would find out that he had stalked her for weeks and known about their connection way longer than he let her believe. Severus groaned. When had this evening turned out to be a fucking nightmare?
She was an idiot, Hermione thought, skimming over Professor Snape’s notes - notes about her, about their interactions of the last weeks. It was bad, his cold analytical words on each of their encounters stabbing her heart like an invisible dagger. She remembered most of them, some of them being fond memories she had made in the last weeks. But now the Professor’s words suddenly twisted them into something… tainted.
The subject could be easily swayed to indulge in intellectual discussion, which made being exposed to her presence much more bearable.
Hermione’s heart clenched at the title of 'subject'. The man didn’t even feel the need to call her by her own name. Was that what he saw in her? Not a girl or a woman, just a subject? 'But you are a girl, remember? Just a silly little know it all.'
So that was what he thought of their meetings, they were bearable for him after she had finally learned to shut her over-enthusiastic mouth. She scoffed. Now she could almost see him sitting at her sickbed, counting each damn second until he finally could leave her side again, once the strange bond of theirs had calmed down once more. How could she not have realized that Professor Snape would have never sat with her like this out of his own free will? She had known him for years, after all. Of course, he was just there because of some sort of outside force, be it an unexplainable bond or Professor Dumbledore making him do so. She was just an annoying Gryffindor-Know-It-all, after all. 'Unwanted even by the one magic bound me to,' she thought with a growing heaviness in her heart.
Even though I feel highly uncomfortable exploring that particular path of my studies, any further as it will require touching the girl in the future, the subject’s need for medical care leaves me with no other choice than to tend to her injuries. Still, mutual healing may be useful in the future, should I need healing once returning from a meeting. It is definitely worth it to find out if the dual healing could go both ways.
Hermione closed her eyes in mortification after reading this one next entry. He had hated touching her, tending to her wound, but he had done it to help her healing and to explore their possible self-healing abilities, abilities that he had suspected to exist for weeks! Why hadn't he told her? And what would have happened if he had braced to touch her curse wound longer, to really try to heal it through his touch? Would it be gone by now, without the ugly scar that was still left at her side? Or would it have healed much faster, sparing her the throbbing pain she had felt for many days afterwards? She did not know, of course, but the possibility alone that he might have taken this chance of a better recovery taken away from her, made her stomach clench in anger. Did he care about her this little? 'Does it matter? He doesn't want to touch you, let alone see you naked.'
With a shake of her head, she turned the page and started to read the next entry, seeming unable to stop reading his poisonous words that slowly kept burning a hole into her heart. What else had he been hiding from her?
It was easy enough to pick her father's brain for the information I needed. Most of it he readily told me himself and I only had to retreat to Legilimency to find out the last bits of the puzzle. I carefully wiped his memory of it afterwards, leaving him totally clueless of what had happened.
No, Hermione thought in disbelief . He hadn’t done that… but he had. Severus Snape, whom she had trusted , had invaded her father's mind and wiped his memories of the incident afterwards. What if something had gone wrong? What if her father had suddenly forgotten her or his wife? The Professor could have unintentionally destroyed her family, but slowly Hermione started to doubt if he even had cared. Probably not.
How could I forget that the girl would be able to feel the pain I was experiencing when cutting off my arm? It was a foolish mistake that has forced me to admit certain aspects of that strange condition to her.
One page and a diary entry later, and Hermione could no longer hold back the tears. That was all he had felt when he realized that his actions had caused her pain: the discomfort of trusting her with certain information? She clearly remembered the day when it happened, the agony and terror she had felt when her arms suddenly lit up in pain. Back then she had not known what happened to her, but she remembered her screams for her parents or for anyone actually to help her. She also remembered how thankful she had been after waking up, thankful and understanding towards Professor Snape. He had seemed to regret his actions back then and he had, only for the whole different reasons as she now realized. If she had only known...
Hermione kept flipping through the diary, her eyes skimming through the pages. But she could no longer read the entries in total, could not stomach the full amount of his hurtful words. Therefore she just skimmed over the next entries, only reading some selected words or sentences.
… luckily she can mostly keep her mouth shut...
'Why would he want to hear your opinion?'
...I get the impression that she is trying very hard to gain my approval. It is probably due to her reliance on praise, as I have found her to be an attention seeker long ago…
'You sound like a dog.'
...Not, that I would overly miss her presence, but it seems to be necessary due to the bond that we are sharing…
...I am sure I will find a way to manipulate her accordingly…
...I am not worried about the pain, as I have suffered through much worse…
'The heartless bastard can still feel?'
...Of course, she had to inquire about ravens and it took all my stealth to confound the shopkeeper and redirect her to the artefacts, instead…
‘He could not even trust me with the fact, that he’s an animagus. But why would he if he didn’t even see the necessity to fill me in about things, that also effected me?’
She could not take any more of this. It was obvious that all Professor Snape cared about was to explore and use the bond that seemed to have formed between them - a bond she wished did not exist. By everything she had learned, it seemingly forced them to see each other from time to time or experience physical unwellness like she had, right after being cursed at the ministry. Now she realized that the reason for it had been Professor Snape trying to stay away from her - without success.
It wasn’t long until the first angry tear escaped her eyes. Before she could wipe it away, it fell down on the notebook, smudging the ink on one of the pages. Hermione hastily spelt the damage away, before closing the book and putting it on top of the robe, unwilling to touch one of the items again. Luckily, the Hogwarts house-elves were only waiting for her to give them something to do.
“Blinky?” she asked into the empty library, her voice shaky as she could barely hold herself together any longer. Only a moment later a young, female house-elf appeared right in front of her.
“Miss Hermione has a task for Blinky?” the little servant asked, bouncing on her feet eagerly. Especially now in the holidays, the house-elves were desperately looking for something to do.
“Yes, Blinky. Could you please take those items back to Professor Snape’s quarters? He happens to have forgotten them here,” she said sniffing, her voice only quivering at the mention of the man’s name. Only a bit longer, than she would be back in her quarters, where nobody would see or hear her tears.
“Blinky will do as Miss Hermione said,” the female squeaked, disappearing with the robe and the book a moment later, without commenting on Hermione’s emotional state. Hermione was thankful for it.
The first sob escaped her, as soon as she left the library but as it was already night, the corridors were thankfully empty. No one saw the tears streaming down her face or heard her sobs, as she walked back towards her room - no one, except a portrait, that followed her silently on the way. Hermione did not even notice it, nor would she have cared. She barely made it back to her rooms before she broke down on her bed with heavy sobs. Her mum had been right, she needed to get the man out of her head and soon. But considering what she had just learned, Hermione was only too happy to ban Professor Snape from her broken heart.
When Severus rushed into the library he found it dark and empty. There was neither a sight of Miss Granger nor were his robe or his research journal anywhere to be seen. The girl had probably gone back to her room and it would be more than inappropriate for him to disturb her at such a late hour, especially when there was no saying if she had even found or read the damned book. He could only hope she had not.
With quick steps he hurried back into his chambers, his mind spinning with what-ifs. There, he was just about to throw himself on the sofa, when he found his robes neatly folded on the coffee table and in front of it, his diary, no longer hidden in the inner pockets, but piled on top of the heavy fabric. For a moment he stared at the items in disbelief, then his heart started to beat faster. But no, this didn’t mean anything. She had most likely just asked a house-elf to take those items back to him. Maybe the nosy creature had just taken the book out, to arrange everything neatly on the table. Yeah, that must be it, Severus thought, skimming through the pages of his journal with the precision of an Auror. There was nothing, no sign of her, no torn out pages, added comments or tear streaks. The only thing reminding him of her was the scent still clinging to his robes. Following an impulse he sunk down on the sofa and pulled the heavy material over himself, his long nose buried in the black fabric. Tomorrow, he would know more, he told himself, taking a deep, calming breath. Until then he’d just rest here and pretend the girl was snuggling against his chest - totally platonical of course.
Time of exposure: none
Physical contact: none
Miss Granger was not to be found at breakfast, neither was she there at lunch or dinner. This is very unusual for her, as she has not missed a single meal since she is back at the castle. When asking the Headmaster about the girl’s absence, the old man just shrugged nonchalantly and said that Miss Granger had formulated the wish to eat in her room today, as she was busily preparing for the new school year. It isn’t that out of character for her, but I can feel a slight twitch of our bond at the thought. Today, I will probably be fine without seeing her, considering the intensive contact we had the day before. Tomorrow, the girl will hopefully join us for meals again. If not, I can still send her an invitation to join me in the library again, because even if she feels like working ahead, she can as well do so there.
Severus closed his journal with a snap before carefully warding it against everybody that wasn’t him. He should have done so from the very beginning, he thought, before slipping it back into his robes. Such sensitive data wasn’t supposed to be read by anyone but himself, least of all the girl this was all about. If there was a chance of her not already having read this, he had to use it and make sure such a thing never happened. He valued their friendship, after all, which meant he had to be more careful. He would not risk messing things up with Miss Granger, like he had done with Lily so many years ago. He would not hurt her, even if that meant keeping a secret from her.