When Hermione stumbled back into the Gryffindor Common Room some hours later, her feet were shaky and her head was throbbing. Today’s detention had been tough, not because she had found the task appointed to her in any way unpleasant, but because she felt like Professor Snape’s watchful gaze wanted to split her head open in the attempt to tear all her secrets from it. Not that it really felt like he was using Legillimency on her, but he could and she totally thought him capable of doing this to her, after she had denied giving him the information he sought. She did not trust the man, not any longer, and she would be damned if she let herself be used by him again. Hermione had done her best to occlude her mind, as there was no way in hell she would let the Professor skim through her thoughts and access the knowledge those books on Kindred Magic had provided her with. This knowledge was hers and even though she felt like she was paying him back with the same coin, she could not find to care about it. Professor Snape had not wanted to share his knowledge with her, not even now after she had discovered his secret and even though she usually thrived to do better than those who had wronged her, it was an entirely different matter with him.
“You look like hell,” Ron’s voice announced, as soon as she was close enough to hear. He had waited up for her again and Hermione found she enjoyed the fact, that he had cared enough for her to do so. Maybe this evening would end as badly as it started…
“Yeah,” Hermione replied, sitting down next to him on the sofa with a sigh. “I’ve had better evenings. But I don’t think I want to talk about it, right now.”
Ron looked at her for a long moment, before he carefully put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “You don’t have to, Mione,” he said understandingly. “Everyone knows that Snape’s a bastard, especially during detentions, which means I can vividly imagine how your detention went. Only two more, Hermione, then you’ll be rid of him.”
Hermione nodded and after a moment of hesitation, she leaned her head against his shoulder. “I know. And I honestly can’t wait…” she mumbled, staring unseeingly at the fire in the fireplace. She could feel Ron’s head resting on top of hers, the feeling of it reassuring and soothing for her strained nerves. Ron understood, even though he didn’t even know all the facts but he also did not ask for them or forced her to explain. Ron was just there for her, supporting her and she was determined to do the same for him, in any way possible for her.
“Well, Saturday is the first Hogsmead-weekend,” her friend said happily. “Maybe thinking about this will help you to get through those last two detentions. We could also visit the bookshop on Saturday if that makes you happy…”
“You mean it?” Hermione asked, turning her head so that she could judge his expression. Ron stared down at her with a happy, reassuring smile on his face and it was, like she was seeing him for the first time.
“Sure,” he said, shrugging with an awkward smile on his lips. “I know you like it there and it’s not like we can spend all day at Honeydukes and Zonko’s.”
She acted out of an impulse, throwing her arms around him and pulling him into a stormy kiss. For a moment she felt Ron stiffen, before his arms closed around her and he repeated her kiss enthusiastically, his tongue plunging into her mouth like he owned it already. Hermione let him do it, smiling against his mouth while her heart fluttered happily in her chest.
“What was that for?” Ron asked her some minutes later, when they had ended their kiss, flushed and heavily breathing for air. Hermione did not mind, not in the least as she felt happier and more alive then she had in months.
She shrugged with a grin. “I just felt like I could not wait until Saturday, even though kissing you then might have been more romantic. But you just made me very happy right now, you know?”
The redhead looked at her with a smug expression on his face, his arms snaking around her and his forehead leaning against hers. “No one said you could not kiss me again on Saturday, or on the days in between now and then,” he said with a cheeky smile. “That is, if you want to…”
Hermione looked at him with an amused grin, saying: “If you keep on seducing me with books, I think I just might.”
Ron chuckled before his lips attached themselves to her mouth again. Hermione sighed happily. This evening was definitely turning out to end much more satisfactory then it had started, Hermione thought, Professor Snape and his stupid research almost forgotten.
Severus rushed into the Headmaster’s office with billowing robes. He had not bothered announcing his presence beforehand, the warning the Gargoyle gave the old man being warning enough. It was an emergency, after all.
“I totally messed this up, Albus,” Severus said, falling down on the man’s cushioned chair with a dramatic sigh. “If I had only known that this bond can be undone and that this is the l ast thing I want …” He pulled his hair, the oily strands feeling sticky in his hands. Merlin, he should really wash it more often.
He could feel Albus watching him with calm, blue eyes, the man’s ability to read a person filling in the gaps between his words. Because Albus Dumbledore could very much read in between the lines.
“Now, now, my boy. Try to calm down and then tell me, how exactly you messed up,” he said, a grandfatherly smile on his lips. “Because I assume you are referring to the lovely Miss Granger?”
“Of course I do,” Severus scoffed, looking at the Headmaster with a dark expression. “Whom else would I be talking about?”
Dumbledore looked at him with a small smile. “Well, you could have been referring to Horace or Draco, but I already guessed that those two would not have gotten you into such a state.”
Severus grumbled. “No, this is about her. Did you know the bond could be undone?”
Dumbledore looked at him, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes. “I wasn’t aware, my boy. How did you stumble about that bit of information?”
Severus told him, related the whole embarrassing truth of starting a research journal and the consequences of it being found by the last person, that was supposed to see it. He told Albus about his attempts to see the girl without her being aware of it and what he did to assure this hideous plan would work. Albus listened patiently, not disturbing him once as he unburdened his heart, but bit by bit Severus saw the twinkle in his eyes disappear. And he did not like the implications of that one bit.
Severus could barely sleep that night, Dumbledore’s assurance of “I will think of something” not nearly enough, to set his mind at ease. Maybe it was because Severus could not imagine what Dumbledore could actually do to help him, as he was probably the only one able to mend bridges with Miss Granger. Only did he not know how . Yes, Albus had advised him to simply apologize to her, telling him that Miss Granger as a Gryffindor would appreciate honesty and a direct apology more than he could probably imagine. But that was easier said than done.
Why should she even consider forgiving him the things he had done and written about her, when there was nothing he could offer her in return? And why in Salazar’s name should she consider him as a potential… lover? boyfriend?... when he could barely stand his own presence or look at himself in the mirror? He’d never been handsome or overly interesting, to begin with, his intelligence the only incentive he had to offer to a potential partner. It was no surprise that the women did not exactly seek him out, but until now he had never cared, as he found the carnal desires and everything they led to quite disappointing anyway. Fucking a woman wasn’t more satisfying than a wank in the shower, he realized, and the latter came with less messy feelings and drama attached. That was at least how he had felt until he had understood, that there was indeed a woman he was interested in. Only that probably hell would freeze over, before Hermione Granger would show an interest in dating an ugly, unkempt wizard that was her Professor and almost twice her age. Fuck!
With a groan, Severus poured himself a generous amount of firewhiskey and drowned it in three big gulps. He usually wasn’t one to seek his comfort in the booze, as this had been his father’s strategy to drown his sorrows. It had often resulted in him or his mother being beaten up by the uninhibited bastard. Severus had sworn to himself, that he would never stoop so low, but the circumstances called for an exception.
One glass later he stumbled into his bathroom and stared into the spotless mirror with a dark expression. He really was no catch, he realized, gritting his crooked teeth. Until now he hadn’t given a flying fuck about his appearance or even the state of his teeth, but faced with the possibility of losing her, his repulsive appearance suddenly irked him on, even disgusted him. He could not go on like this, not taking care of himself or the people around him. Not that he would suddenly start coddling his students, but the circumstances called for a clear cut - and he wasn’t only talking about his overgrown hair.
Minerva McGonagall had learned to keep a very close eye on her cubs but also on the people around her. She may not have been a Slytherin-spy, but years of teaching the Marauders and later on the Weasley twins, as well as living through a war had taught her, that paying close attention to her surroundings was a must. Therefore, it did not go unnoticed by her, when Miss Granger and Mr Weasley entered the Great Hall hand in hand, a happy smile on their faces. This was not a development she had seen beforehand, she thought, a crisp smile in place while she sipped her tea from the tartan-coloured mug, the house-elves so kindly provided for her breakfast. She did not think those two were very well suited for each other, but for now, they seemed happy enough, even though there would probably be some teenage drama in their future. But such was probably an unpreventable part of reaching adulthood, because how should those young lads know what they wanted if they did not first find out what they did not want?
Miss Granger and Mr Weasey sauntered to the Gryffindor table, the recent change of their relationship status unperceived by many. There was only a smile from young Miss Weasley and the friendly pat Mr Potter bestowed on Mr Weasley’s shoulder that showed, that they had understood and approved. Good. For the moment they all seemed happy enough, even though drama would most likely follow, soon. She had seen the same pattern too often, to believe otherwise.
“Well Minerva, it looks like you’ll have to reorganize the schedule of your Prefect patrols again,” Severus drawled, looking at her two freshly enamoured cubs with a dark expression. “At least if you don’t want me to stumble across them in dark alcoves and broom cupboards, which would force me to take away quite a number of house points, don’t you think?”
Minerva looked at her younger colleague with a tired smile. She had known Severus since he was a shy, awkward schoolboy who had befriended one of her cubs. His fallout with Lily had without question changed him, had made him the bitter, relentless man he now was. But even though Severus did not have a kind word for anybody those days, she still had come to appreciate his snark and dry humour.
Already in his years as a Prefect, he had had a talent for sniffing out romancing students and he had only gotten better over the years.
“It does appear like it, doesn’t it?” she said with a sigh and the man’s mouth formed a grim smile. That was, when Minerva saw it. Somehow, Severus finally seemed to have decided to fix his teeth, after he had neglected them for years. What had given him the impulse to finally do so? And had he done something to his hair? Instead of being oily it seemed fresh and clean, falling down his head in soft, black waves. The sight of it was absolutely baffling.
Years of observing and studying her younger colleague had taught Minerva that Severus Snape never did something without a reason. Was it possible that he, too, had finally found someone he wanted to impress? Minerva smiled to herself. Wouldn’t that be a curious coincidence indeed?
Severus watched Miss Granger at mealtimes, every smile and look she bestowed on Weasley, the idiot, a stab into his heart. He could almost feel their bond weakening, strand after strand of it untangling until nothing of it was left. It was only logical that such a bond could only persist, when none of the parties had any other attachments. Now, he could suddenly see such an attachment be formed in front of his eyes and for a moment Severus thought, that fate was, once again, trying to punish him for his past sins. How else could it be explained, that only when he was finally ready to admit his romantic feelings for the girl, she suddenly decided to date the most clueless Gryffindor there was on earth, well maybe apart from the Longbottom spawn. Fate was indeed playing a cruel game with him, but Severus had submitted to its injustice once by losing Lily to Potter, the unworthy idiot, he would not do so again.
Luckily Miss Granger had two more detentions with him, which meant that he would have at least four hours of her undivided attention. And going by the sappy looks the girl and her wannabe-lover exchanged, he better made good use of the time. If he only knew how...