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Kindred Magic

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Kindred Magic

Severus stared at the motionless girl in front of him with a contemplative expression. Her small, unconscious body was covered with a white hospital sheet, hiding the big, white dressing around her chest from sight. It wasn't the first time that Hermione Granger followed her self-centred friend Potter into danger and not even the first time she almost got herself killed. Never before had he felt the need to visit the girl on her sickbed; he did not take an interest in people or worry about them. That wasn't who Severus Snape was. He had stopped caring long ago, when he held Lily's dead body in his arms and the pain and the guilt almost ripped him apart. It was the day he even stopped caring about his own godson. He still pretended to care and spoiled the brat to not draw unnecessary attention to the fact that he was hollow inside and could not be arsed to care if the boy won his next Quidditch match or failed all of his exams. Not even when the idiot had gotten himself bitten by a fucking Hippogriff did Severus feel the need to coddle or, god forbid, visit him in the hospital wing. So why was he here today? Why did he care?

 

Severus was not sure. It all started with Potter and his band of trouble-makers being caught by Umbridge and her chosen guard dogs, mostly consisting of his Slytherins. Potter had begged him for help then, mumbling some disconcerting stuff about his godfather being tortured. It was ridiculous, of course, which made him leave those teenagers with Umbridge in the hope that they wouldn't get in any more trouble. He should have known better. It was two hours later when the feeling of desperation and fear gripped his chest, urging him to do something, to help. It came out of the blue, with no evident reason and still, he knew in his guts that something was wrong. That's when he started to rally the troops and sent the Order to search for those stupid kids, hoping that they wouldn't be too late.

He could not accompany them, of course, as he needed to uphold his position as Dumbledore's spy, which meant that he could not be seen duelling his Death Eater comrades. Usually, he would not have minded, but today he could barely sit still and paced his chambers in nervous agitation. What was wrong with him? 

He did not know, but the feeling of desperation grew until he suddenly experienced an excruciating pain in his chest that almost knocked him from his feet. It was gone a moment later, being substituted by despair and the fear of losing something, someone . But that did not make any sense, did it? There was no one he particularly cared about these days. 

Still, he found himself at her bedside now, following a strange pull in his chest that brought him here. Why was he here? He did not even particularly like that bushy-haired witch. Still, he could not deny the fact that the feeling of urgency and restlessness subdued as soon as he had seated himself next to her bed and had Poppy explain her injuries to him. She was not mortally wounded, thank god, but the curse she had caught herself was still a painful and complicated one. This girl would experience a lot of pain in the next few days - probably weeks - and would require extensive treatment and specialized potions, which would make a hospitalization at St Mungo's very much advisable for her. But the thought of not being able to monitor her recovery, of not being able to see her, made him feel miserable beyond belief. And there was no explicable reason for that sort of attachment

 

He pushed himself up from his chair with a growl, very much intending to let the girl rest in peace. But the sound of the chair scraping across the floor must have been enough to wake and alert the girl on the bed. She opened her eyes a moment later, blinking rapidly before she looked at him in confusion.

"Professor Snape," she mumbled groggily and stared at him as if she could not comprehend why he was here. But there really was no appropriate reason, at least none that he could tell her about. For fuck's sake!

“Miss Granger,” he greeted her neutrally. “It was brought to my attention that you’ve been hit with a dark curse. How are you feeling?” 

She looked at him with a grimace. "Like I was run over by a bus," she admitted and closed her eyes for a moment. "But I guess I am lucky to still be alive. How are the others? Is anyone…"

She could not say it, but he knew what she meant and so he helpfully supplied: “Dead?”

Miss Granger nodded anxiously, making him suppress the urge to roll his eyes at her naiveté. “Sirius Black is the only casualty, as far as I am aware. Your… friends will be fine and so will you. But you will be confined to the hospital wing for quite some time, I am afraid.”

The girl nodded grimly but did not respond.

And so he continued: "That is if you decide to stay at Hogwarts and forgo being treated at St Mungo's. In this case, I would supply you with the necessary potions for your recovery."

It was the most he had ever talked to the girl, he realized, as he usually cut her ramblings off as soon as possible. 

Miss Granger looked at him with a considerate look. “I’d rather stay here,” she said after a while. “There are still some days left until the holidays start and I’d rather stay close to my friends.”

Of course , he thought with an internal sneer. Her friends . He should have known that this stupid girl would cling to them, and especially Potter, even after the boy had almost gotten her killed. He could only shake his head at her stupidity. 

But he did not say anything that could agitate her and schooled his face in an expressionless mask. “Of course,” he replied with a curt nod. “I will inform Madam Pomfrey of your decision. Try to sleep now. I’ll deliver your potions in the morning.”

He did not wait for her reaction and turned around, before walking out of the room, his robes billowing behind him. Her staying at Hogwarts would mean that she would spend the first days of summer break at the castle. He would be required to stay behind as well.

Severus thought he should be pissed at the prospect of additional brewing work, but instead, he felt tempted to smile. He crushed the urge down mercilessly, while he hastily strode through the castle towards his rooms. He really had to get a grip on himself, soon, because this situation was totally unacceptable as it was.

 

Sssssss

 

When Hermione awoke the next time her head was thrumming and her mouth felt dry. She didn’t know how long she had been out, but it seemed to be the middle of the day now. 

“Good morning, my Dear,” the friendly voice of Madam Pomfrey greeted her, as soon as she had pulled herself up in bed, her ribs heavily protesting against the movement. Merlin, this curse really was a nasty one. “I have your breakfast here and some potions Professor Snape left for you. He told me you’d prefer to stay at the castle for the time of your recovery?”

Hermione nodded and attempted to smile. But it probably came out more like a grimace. “If it isn’t too much of an inconvenience?”

“Not for me, Dear, as the castle is my home and I rarely leave it these days. Professor Snape usually leaves it over summer break, but he has agreed to prolong his stay until you are recovered.”

She guessed she could consider herself lucky then, that the Professor had agreed to stay behind. He could as well have refused and sent her to St Mungo's, right? No one would have begrudged him the decision to enjoy his summer away from Hogwarts.

Madame Pomfreycast her a motherly smile and placed a tray in front of her on the bed. "Eat as much as you can, Miss Granger. Your body will need the energy to fight the curse. As soon as you are finished we will change your dressing and then it is time for you to take those potions."

Hermione agreed with a nod and looked at the food in front of her with a sigh. She wasn't hungry at all. But Madame Pomfreywas right, she needed to eat in order to get better. And she did not want to spend more time than strictly necessary confined to the infirmary. Her parents would be worried enough as it was. Had Dumbledore already informed them? And if so, what had he told them?

 

It was almost half an hour later when Madam Pomfrey had her sit on the edge of the bed, peering down at her chest with a thoughtful expression. The curse had hit her side, right under her right breast and left an ugly, dark red mark that almost looked purple at times. Hermione looked at it with a resigned expression.

“Will the mark stay?” she asked and looked at the medi-witch with a worried expression. 

The elderly witch smiled. “A curse as dark as this one always leaves a mark behind, my Dear. The colour will fade in the next few days, I believe, but a scar will remain.”

Hermione sighed. Looked like she had gotten her first battle scar. She guessed it would not be the last one until this war was over and Voldemort was hopefully gone for good. Still, she really did not fancy having to explain to her parents how she had gained a scar of this size. Until now she had always avoided telling them about the dangerous adventures she, Harry, and Ron got into year by year. But this would definitely raise a few questions - questions she was not ready to answer.

“Isn’t there a way to hide this? A long-lasting glamour maybe?” she asked the elderly witch hopefully.

Madam Pomfrey smiled kindly. “There is no reason for you to be ashamed of this,” she said, while she spelled the wound clean and covered her skin with a slick, greenish cream that somehow smelled of mint and disinfectant. It could have been worse, she guessed, but as soon as the stuff touched her tender skin, it left an uncomfortable, tingling feeling that made her want to wipe it off, right away. “Whoever is going to see this, one day, will not think any less of you because of a scar. And if he does, he is not worth your attention anyway.”    

For a moment Hermione could not follow her train of thought, but when it finally dawned on her what the older witch was saying, her cheeks flushed and she nodded. "I'm sure that won't be an issue for a while," she hastily assured the medi-witch with a smile. "There's no one I care about in that way.”

Madam Pomfrey smiled knowingly while she carefully covered the wound with a new dressing. Hermione sighed inwardly. She couldn't tell her that this wasn't about some future boyfriend, that might or might not exist one day, but her own parents that she still tried to convince that the magical world was safe and just wonderful. If her parents knew half of the stuff that had happened to her over the years, they would probably have withdrawn her from Hogwarts long ago. But Hermione couldn't leave Hogwarts, couldn't leave her friends. It was the first time in her life that she had found people who did not see her as a nerd or a freak. Finally, she had found a place where she belonged and she'd rather face another Basilisk than let anybody take that away from her.

 

Ssssssss

 

It had taken all his self-control to stay away from the infirmary during the day and instead concentrate on his daily tasks. Now that the school year was over there wasn't much to do for him and therefore brewing the potions could have been a welcome distraction, except his mind simply would not be distracted. His mind unhelpfully pictured Miss Granger's tiny body in the white sheets, her forehead covered in sweat while she moaned in pain. It was the most annoying thing! The girl had gotten herself in trouble and now she was having to deal with the consequences, end of the story. Sooner or later Granger and her idiotic friends needed to learn to take responsibility for their actions and from all he had heard Potter had started to understand just that. Losing his idiotic godfather must have been a hard blow for him, his face looking drawn and his eyes haunted while he pushed around his food without eating a single bite at breakfast or lunch. Severus could not care less about the man's early demise, he and Black had never gotten on particularly well. Severus could not even find himself to care for Lily's son, even though he had tried to warm up to the boy. Severus had protected him from his own idiocy as best as he could, but he had done it more out of obligation and guilt towards his mother, never for the boy himself.

 

When dinner was over Severus first contemplated going back to his rooms, but soon he found his feet carrying him to the infirmary. It was like his body had suddenly discovered a will of his own, not caring in the slightest that his brain inwardly sneered at the ridiculousness of the situation. Severus Snape did not care about his students, or people in general, and he sure as hell did not visit a sick student in the infirmary! Except he did. 

The room was quiet when he entered it through the wooden door, Madam Pomfrey enjoying her evening sherry with Sybil Trelawney as she usually did at that time. Weasley and the other rule-breakers had thankfully been released too so that the Granger girl was the only occupant of the room right now. Good. Explaining his presence to her would be hard enough as it was.

At first, he thought she was asleep, as her body was lying motionless on the bed, but when he came closer he saw that her caramel brown eyes were open, staring at the ceiling, probably without seeing a thing. For a moment he considered just leaving the room silently again, but an instant tug in his chest made him discard this idea a second later. Seven hells, he really needed to get a grip, or things would start to get out of hand rather soon.

“Miss Granger,” he greeted her calmly and her reaction was immediate. Her eyes travelled towards him and studied him intensely for a moment.

“Professor Snape,” she replied and tried to pull herself up on the bed. She did not make it far though before her face contorted in pain and she sank into the mattress with a frustrated sigh. 

"You are still in pain," he stated calmly before carefully stepping closer. "Would you like me to… get you another pain-relieving potion?"

The girl blinked at him in surprise. He could not fault her for it. It was probably the nicest thing he had ever said to her.

"I… that would be very kind, thank you, Professor."

Severus looked at her silently for a long moment, before he got up and got her the promised potion. She drowned it greedily and he could time the exact moment when it took effect, as her features relaxed with a sigh of relief.

"I will adjust your potions for tomorrow, accordingly," he said before he registered what he had just so generously promised to her. Why did he just say that? It did not matter though, as she had obviously heard and looked at him with a grateful smile.

"Thank you, Sir. I am very grateful for everything you are doing for me. I know you aren't in any way obliged to. I really appreciate it."

Severus looked at her speechlessly, her words making him suddenly feel strange - almost happy . It did not make sense at all. 

“It’s nothing,” he said dismissively, suddenly eager to leave the room. “Do you need anything else? If not I will retreat to my chambers for the night.”

"No, I'm fine, Sir. Thank you for visiting me and good night."

For a brief moment, their eyes met and to his astonishment, he saw the girl smile a moment later. There it was again, that feeling in his chest which made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

"Good night," he replied briskly and turned on the spot, hastily walking out of the room. Whatever it was that was happening here, was not normal and more importantly: it did not make any sense. Luckily Severus Snape was, next to the Dark Lord, the best Occlumens known to the wizarding world. Whatever those feelings were, he would lock them up in a safe place and toss the key away, figuratively speaking. Severus Snape would not be manipulated by feelings again, no matter for whom and where they came from. This chapter of his life was long closed and he would not succumb to that weakness again. 

  

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It took almost one more day for Harry to come to visit her. Her friend’s face looked drawn, tired, and his eyes were so full of grief, that Hermione's heart clenched in sympathy for him. She had not known Sirius well and therefore his death did not affect her in the same way as it did Harry. To Harry, Sirius had been the only family he had left; to her he was only a damaged, reckless shell of a man. 

“I’m sorry it took me so long to come visiting," Harry apologized and put a box of chocolate frogs on her nightstand. "It is my fault that you're in pain, that you got hurt, Hermione. It's just, I felt like I did not have the energy to face you yesterday. You told me that we could possibly run into a trap and…"

 

"And you thought I'd rub it under your nose, that you didn't want to listen," Hermione finished for him and looked at him with a sigh. "Oh Harry, I'd never have been so cruel after…" she took a deep breath "after you've just lost Sirius."

Harry looked at her with a guilty expression. “I’m sorry, you’re right. I didn’t think.”

“It’s alright,” Hermione replied with a sad smile.

Harry looked back at her with a hesitant expression. “How are you, Hermione? Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t tell me much, just that you'll have to stay in the infirmary for a while longer. You're not going to be on the Hogwarts Express tomorrow, are you?"

She shook her head sadly. “No, it will probably be a few more days until I can go home. I... could you do me a favour, Harry?”

Her friend’s green eyes focussed on her instantly. " 'Course Hermione. What is it? What do you need?”

She shyly gnawed at her bottom lip. "I wrote a letter to my parents, where I explained why I would not be able to come home tomorrow. Could you post it for me? I can't go to the owlery myself and I'd rather not ask a teacher."

" 'Course I'll post it for you. I'll give it to Hedwig right away. Do you think your parents will be mad because of what we did?" Harry asked, his gaze unsure.

Hermione shrugged. "I didn't tell them, to be honest. I just wrote that I got hurt while practising some spell for next year because I wanted to work ahead after finishing my exams." She smiled ruefully. "They'd take me out of school if they knew half of the stuff we got ourselves into."

 

Harry looked at her inquiringly. “You haven’t told them anything, have you?”

"Not much, no. I know I probably should, especially as this situation seems to get worse and worse. But what am I supposed to tell them? That they better leave the country because there's an evil, dark wizard who will probably start coming after Muggles and muggle-borns? They would most likely believe me, but if they did, they would never let me return to Hogwarts."

Her friend nodded. “I’m not saying I want you to leave, Hermione, but what will you do if things keep getting worse? You can’t lie to them forever, can you?”

"I know," she admitted with a sad expression. "It's just... I don't want to leave this school. I'm almost sure I wouldn't be able to convince them to let me stay, which is why I keep putting off this discussion. It's not very Gryffindor-like, is it?"

Harry nodded with a grin. “Probably not. But I get it, I really do. Hogwarts is the place where I finally feel at home. I’d never let somebody take that away from me.”

Hermione nodded. At least Harry understood. It made her feel a bit better about the fact that she was lying to her parents, again . She knew she'd probably have to tell them one day. But that would have to wait until she was of age because she did not plan on leaving the country, and therefore her friends, behind. And come next September nobody would be able to force her to.

 

 Ssssssss

 

The day was dragging on endlessly and Severus felt himself being annoyed by the smallest of things. The later it got, the darker became his mood and when he found a pair of Ravenclaws snogging in a hidden alcove on the third floor, he took 30 points from each of them, making the fourth years break out into tears. Severus did not care, just watched them skitter away with a dark expression before he continued roaming through the castle. Several times he caught himself suddenly walking in the direction of the infirmary, but every time he became aware of what he was doing, he turned around sharply and hastily marched away.

When it was finally time for him to sink into bed, he tried strengthening his Occlumency shields. But even though the mental exercise made him sweat and gave him a headache, it did not help against the growing hollowness and longing in his chest. It was like these feelings were not simply a mental problem and could not be shooed away with mental discipline. But that was impossible. There was always a way to control one's feelings, he had done it for years!

Around 3 a.m. he gave up to try falling asleep, as sleep simply refused to come to him. Even though he had his thoughts tightly under control and his head was decisively empty, which meant that he did not think about the girl, his chest felt tighter and tighter and the desire to just leave his room got unbelievably strong. This was not possible, this couldn't be possible. What kind of foul magic was this?

With an annoyed huff, he threw his heavy blanket aside and slipped into a heavy black robe. A muttered disillusion spell later he left his private chambers and slowly walked through the empty corridors. At this time of the night hardly anyone was out of bed, he knew, as this was usually the time he returned from his monthly Death Eater meetings. Still, he needed to be careful. Whatever kind of madness had befallen him was his business and his alone. Had the Granger girl bewitched him? Given him some sort of potion maybe? He’d test those theories first thing in the morning - or better, as soon as he returned from the infirmary, hopefully feeling more calm and collected. Why hadn’t he thought of diagnosing himself right away? It was probably a sign of the severity of the strange madness that had suddenly befallen him. 

Severus passed the door to the infirmary about ten minutes later. The room was coated in darkness, but luckily his eyes were exceptional and he did not need light to move around the room. He also cast a silencing charm on himself, as the last thing he wanted was to alert the sleeping girl on the bed. She would probably have a heart attack, if she realized her Potions Professor secretly visited her sickbed at night, standing next to her to simply stare at her in silence. It was more than a bit creepy, now that he considered it. Fuck!

She looked peaceful in her sleep and there were no signs of pain on her face. Good. Obviously, the changes he had made to her potions had the desired effect. The thought that his efforts had made the girl feel better, made a feeling of satisfaction bloom in his chest. Suddenly he thought that he had made the right choice staying behind at Hogwarts for her. It wasn't like anything pleasant awaited him at Spinner's End anyway.

He would allow himself the satisfaction this strange spell brought, even if it was just for a few moments, Severus decided. There was no harm in just watching the girl for a bit, right? She wouldn't even know he had been here and he did not plan on repeating this creepy performance anytime soon. For now, he just wanted to feel better and finally be able to sleep

He carefully took two more steps towards her and, making a quick decision, he transfigured a chair for himself and sat down. He was close enough to her to see her chest rising as she breathed in her sleep and when he concentrated, he could smell something like peaches and coconut, probably the girl's hair products, now that he thought about it. It wasn't a bad scent, he thought, even though he had never wanted to smell like something to eat himself. The idea was somewhat ridiculous. Still, he found that breathing in her scent calmed him down to some extent and it wasn't long until the pressure on his chest seemed to lessen again. He'd sit here just for a few moments longer, Severus told himself and without realizing it, his eyelids dropped, once, twice, and finally they stayed closed. It wasn't long until his body sagged forward and he bedded his head on her mattress, close enough that the scent of coconut and peaches lulled him into a peaceful if somewhat uncomfortable sleep.

 

 

It was almost two hours later when Severus awoke with a gasp, finding his head on Miss Granger's bed, his nose suspiciously close to the girl's unruly brown mane. One of his hands had even wandered towards the girls head, carefully holding a strand of her hair. He let go of it, as if it had suddenly burned him. Severus cursed inwardly. His disillusionment had long faded, his body not being able to feed magic to the spell while he was asleep. He was clearly visible, for everyone walking into the infirmary as the morning light already fell through the large windows, shining on his dark form that stood out in stark contrast to the white bedding in front of him. Seven hells! How was it possible for him to let his guard down enough to suddenly fall asleep in the most inconvenient place? What if somebody had seen him like that? Poppy or Dumbledore would have been one thing, still annoying and probably pressing him for answers he was not willing to give, but what if a Slytherin had seen him like that and decided to report his strange behaviour to the Dark Lord?

Severus hastily cast a silent disillusionment over himself and carefully rose from his chair. When he turned around, he realized that the movement must have woken the girl, as her eyes suddenly blinked open and looked around the room in confusion. Only seconds later they came to rest on the lonely chair that was still standing close to her bed and she stared at it with furrowed brows and a contemplative expression. It was obvious that she was trying to solve a puzzle for which she was lacking the necessary pieces. He saw her hand rake through her hair with a sigh before she tried to pull herself up on the bed. Again she was forced to give up the attempt with a pained expression on her face. Severus stood there, only metres away and watched the girl with a fascinated expression, his heart hammering agitatedly in his chest. A single Finite Incatatem cast by her would be enough to reveal his presence and bring him into a very uncomfortable situation he would not be able to explain. He could only pray that it would not come to that.

The next minutes felt like the longest in his life. Standing motionless next to the girl's bed, forced to watch her slowly fall back asleep again, was terrifying and exciting at the same time. At first, he could still see her eyes flicker searchingly through the room from time to time, but as they did not find anything suspicious after a few attempts, Miss Granger must have decided that her mysterious guest must have been long gone. He had counted to 451 when her eyelids slowly started to drop again and to 739 when her breath started to even out, indicating that the girl had fallen back asleep again. He forced himself to wait another five minutes until he dared to move again and silently crept out of the room. Only when he closed the door behind him without making a single sound, did allow himself to sigh in relief before his steps sped up and he hurried towards his own quarters. It was about time that he uncovered this strange curse that had befallen him and found a way to break it, because otherwise he was fucked.

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione woke up in the morning, she felt rested and strangely good-humoured, considering that she was still not able to get up from her bed without assistance. It was like the pressure that had lasted on her chest had lessened during the night, indicating that her wound was slowly starting to heal. Thank Merlin. That strange feeling had gotten worse and worse over the day and had been almost unbearable in the evening, making her almost believe that the potions Professor Snape so graciously provided did not have the desired effect. This morning though the strange ache in her chest was gone, while her curse wound, on the other hand, had started to sting and pucker again. It was the strangest thing. Why was the one pain gone only to make room for another one? Did this mean something with her medication was wrong? She'd ask Madame Pomfrey about it when she saw her the next time.

And then there was the strange, nightly visitor she had had last night. She wasn’t even sure there had been somebody there, but why would there have been a chair next to her bed otherwise? Who was it that had visited her at night, unwilling to wake her or alert her of his presence? Professor Dumbledore? Harry? Hermione wasn’t sure but there weren’t many other options she could think of. 

Whoever it was, Hermione hoped he would come back in the morning, as they had not been able to talk during the night. Maybe Harry had already gotten an answer from her parents? No, she guessed he would just have left it on the nightstand for her if this was the case. So, if it wasn't Harry then it probably was a teacher. Who else would visit her after curfew? It wasn't like she had many friends in the castle, to begin with. Could it have been Professor Snape? He was the only teacher that had visited her at the infirmary so far and he had been surprisingly kind while doing so. Could it have been him? Hermione found herself strangely liking the idea. She felt like she could trust him in a strange way she could not explain. The Professor had always protected her, even though they had barely realized he had been doing so. It was thanks to him that the Order arrived at the Ministry and got them out and he was the one brewing and modifying the potions that slowly helped her to get better. Maybe Professor Snape wasn’t half as bad as he let them believe? He was a spy for the Order, risking his life every time he went to one of those Death Eater meetings and did... whatever it was they were doing. He was probably not doing it out of pure charity, but whatever reasons he had, it made the man firmly stand on their side, no matter what he outwardly let his Slytherins believe.  

 

Harry and Ron came to say their goodbyes in the morning. Harry handed her a crisp white envelope as soon as he reached her bed, which could only have come from her parents. Hermione would read it later when everybody was gone. Right now she wanted to enjoy the last minutes she had with her friends before they disappeared into their summer holidays and she wouldn't be able to see them for weeks. Usually, Hermione was fine with that. She enjoyed spending her holidays with her parents as they always travelled and made the most of the time they had together. But this time she did not like the idea of leaving Hogwarts at all. Was it because she feared her parents would not let her return? Hermione didn't know but the thought of having to leave the castle in a few days made her strangely nauseous.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Severus banged the door to his quarters shut and immediately started casting diagnostic spells on himself. Potions, curses, jinxes, he checked for everything but no matter what he tried, he ended without a satisfying result. Everything came back clear, indicating that he had neither been slipped a potion nor been cursed. It was impossible, it didn’t make sense . Everything hinted towards the fact that his sudden change of feelings was a natural occurrence, no matter how crazy or unlikely that sounded. But if it was really a natural thing, then this implied that those feelings would not go away anytime soon, and this realization terrified him more than he could say. 

He was not one of those teachers, stalking young girls and lusting after them. The thought alone disgusted him. Still, he had found himself sleeping on Miss Granger's bed mere hours ago, sniffing her out like some sort of animal . Merlin! He could not let this go on, whatever this was, not under any circumstances. As a teacher of this school, it was his duty to protect the girl, even from himself, as it seemed. He would not go and see her again, no matter if he could not sleep or those feelings threatened to rip him apart. Until a few days ago he had fared quite well without one Hermione Granger, thank you very much, so whatever his body tried to make him believe, Severus was sure he would be just fine. He would just send the girl's potions via house-elf for now and travel to Spinner's End after the school had closed and those brats had used the Hogwarts Express to finally travel home. Maybe distance would break that strange spell and finally let him return to normality once more.

 

Spinner's End was cold and dusty when he stepped inside a few hours later. He had never been overly fond of the place, which was the reason why he never saw the need to invest much time or money into his parents’ house. But he also could not bring himself to sell it, as he still needed a place to stay for the holidays and he always liked the idea that Spinner's End would keep reminding him where he came from. Severus Snape was not a Pureblood, even though most students probably assumed he was, as he was Head of the House Slytherin by now. No, his father Tobias Snape was a bastard, a muggle and a drunkard and luckily dead for many years. His hate for the man was one reason why Severus joined the Dark Lord's forces many years ago and no matter how much he regretted the decision later, this house reminded him of what had been his reason for it. It reminded Severus of his miserable childhood, his mother who never dared to show any affection toward him, and of Lily, because the place where he had once met the red-haired witch was only a few miles away. He still visited it from time to time, sat below the large willow tree and stared into the water. Once in a while, he let his thoughts drift back to her and the only happy moments he had experienced in his life. He had spent all of them with her.

 

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to visit this place today. Maybe his memory of Lily could help him to overcome whatever madness had befallen him? It was a long shot but by now he had slowly started to run out of ideas. 

With a sigh, he dropped his travelling case and changed into his standard muggle clothes. He would use the chance to take a walk and see what had changed in his neighbourhood. Maybe the fresh air would help him to clear his head. If not it would still be a chance for him to exercise his body for a bit, now that the stairs of Hogwarts, which he climbed during his daily patrols, were out of reach for the next few weeks.

It didn't take him long to get out of the house, his wand carefully tucked away in the back of his jeans, hidden under the T-shirt he now wore. He did not expect to get into any trouble here and if he was, he would be able to defend himself without magic. Growing up in a rough neighbourhood taught you a thing or two. But he never knew what surprises waited for him; having agreed to serve two different masters made his life pretty hard to plan.

Cokeworth hadn't changed much over the years. No one had enough money to build or renovate a house these days and if anything the neighbourhood had gotten even poorer than it used to be. The streets were mostly empty of people, garbage and stray cats being what he most encountered on his way to the river. He knew the way by heart, would have probably been able to walk it with his eyes closed, but as it was he enjoyed reconnecting with his old hometown.

When the old willow finally came in sight his heart gave a small leap, like it expected to find his red-headed friend there. But Lily Evans was long gone, no matter how much he wished she was not. But fate did not give a fuck about Severus Snape’s wishes, this much was obvious by now.

“What am I going to do, Lily?" he mumbled, as he finally sat down on his usual spot and stared down at the river like he had done so many times before. "I'm not interested in some school girl, I’m not interested in anyone but you . So why am I suddenly feeling like this? I don’t want to feel like this, hope, misery... this is all suddenly so close together now. I’m suddenly content when I'm close to her, I feel like it would be a good idea to spend more time with her. But that's ridiculous. She's my fucking student and apart from that she'd probably run away screaming if I invited her for tea." He stared at the water with a heavy sigh. The knowledge that he had silenced the area around him was reassuring him that this embarrassing monologue would not be overheard. He knew that there would be no answer from Lily, there never was, but usually talking to her still helped him to unburden his black soul. “But when I’m away from her I feel like I suddenly can’t breathe . My chest just seems too tight, all of a sudden. It doesn’t make sense, Lily! You know me, you know who I am, what I have done. Until a few days ago I was pretty sure my heart was incapable of feeling anything positive or overly emotional. I have no right to feel these things after what I did to you and your family. But it’s like I can’t help it. I’ve tried, I swear I have. But whatever this is, it just won’t go away!”

  

The only answer he got was the chirping of birds, who had started to resettle in this area, now that the mills were no longer running and polluting the air. Fuck! He really was a mess, wasn't he? He could feel the ache in his chest slowly returning, distance seemingly not helping with whatever strange condition had befallen him. But he would not go back to the castle. He needed to finally get the upper hand in whatever strange battle he was fighting with himself. 

He was just about to pull himself up to his feet again when he suddenly heard the pop of a house-elf apparition to his right. Indeed, a Hogwarts house-elf was standing only a few feet away, looking at him with a scared expression.

“Headmaster Dumbledore is seeking your immediate help, Professor,” the little female squeaked and wrung her little hands. “He is badly hurt, Sir.”

Severus felt like cursing. What had the old man done now? It wasn’t even a day since the students left the castle. Had the man already gotten bored and gotten himself into trouble? 

"Take me to him then," Severus said with a sigh and took the little servant's arm. Not a second later they were gone.

 

Ssssssss

 

The others were only gone for half a day and Hermione already felt lonely. Harry and Ron had said their goodbyes in the morning and Ginny had even brought her two books from the library to help her against getting bored. But Hermione had almost read through the first one and felt hesitant to start the next, as there was no saying when she would be able to get up herself to check something out from the library. But that wasn't it. The strange feeling in her chest was back and slowly Hermione was no longer sure if it was really connected to the curse injury. The pain from her scar slowly started to get better, whereas the pressure on her chest seemed to get worse and worse over the day. In the evening it was bad enough that she could barely breathe any longer which scared her enough to call for Madame Pomfrey. But for some reason, the Mediwitch was not available and did not answer to her call, which unsettled Hermione even more. Did somebody get hurt? And what was wrong with her? Had she maybe gotten hit by another curse, one that so far hadn't been detected and was now slowly killing her?

Hermione didn't know and she hated not knowing. But for now, she could only wait for the Mediwitch's return. Hopefully, her chest would feel better by then, but somehow Hermione doubted it.

 

Ssssssss

 

"For fuck's sake Albus, this thing almost killed you," Severus muttered, wiping his sweaty forehead. "In fact, it is still killing you, only not right away."

That idiot! That arrogant old man! How could he have thought that slipping an old, cursed ring onto his finger had been a good idea? 

When Severus arrived at the man's office an hour ago, Dumbledore had already passed out on his desk, Madam Pomfrey furiously puttering about the man without any visible effect. The medi-witch was at her wits’ end and it was no wonder. She was specialised on students and everything those dunderheads got themselves into. But this was the darkest kind of magic. Luckily for the Headmaster, Severus had spent years of his life studying exactly that kind of thing.

He had been able to trap the curse within the man's blackened hand. It wouldn't stay there forever but slowly spread through the body until Albus' heart would slowly give out. He probably had a year, maybe longer, but his fate was still sealed. Severus told him exactly that after Poppy had rushed back to the infirmary because the other patient , as Severus insisted on thinking of her, apparently had some kind of issue and had been calling for her. His Headmaster did not even seem overly worried over the news, though. He just thanked him with a kind smile.

“You’ve always been one of my brightest students, did you know that, Severus?” he said instead and looked at him through his half-moon-glasses. 

Severus stared back at him with a scowl. “No. And it’s not like my intelligence was of much use for you here. You’ll still die Albus, as I find myself unable to save you. I am sorry.”

“Don’t be, my boy,” the old man said and offered him one of his disgusting sweets. When would he finally learn that Severus despised them? “You have given me enough time to prepare for my imminent death. That is more than I deserve for my foolishness. This last year is a gift, my boy and I promise I will use it wisely.”

Severus’ lip twitched. “I will brew you something with the aim of keeping that curse at bay. It might also help with the pain and buy you some more time. But don’t get your hopes up. That curse is a nasty one. I’ve rarely seen anything comparable.”

Dumbledore nodded. “I thought that by destroying the stone on the ring I had broken the curse. Obviously, I was wrong and I’ll be paying the price now.”

Severus left the man's office shortly after helping him into his bed. The house-elves would take care of him from there on and Poppy would probably be back soon, too. Now that he had promised the old man another potion, staying at the castle would be unavoidable, at least for tonight. Luckily he would be busy enough to not be tempted to visit the girl again, no matter how bad the ache in his chest got. For now, it was still bearable, but things would probably get worse as the night progressed. It didn't matter.  He needed to learn how to deal with this new situation because everything else was simply not an option. 

 

Ssssssss

 

“I can’t find anything wrong with you, Miss Granger,” Madam Pomfrey said, staring at her with a worried expression. She had taken off Hermione’s dressing again and carefully inspected Hermione’s chest. There was nothing to see and even the colouring of Hermione’s newly-gained scar had visibly improved. Everything hinted that everything was healing as it should, so where did this terrible ache suddenly come from? It didn’t feel like anything Hermione had experienced so far, not painful per se, more like a massive weight that settled on her chest and seemed to increase with every breath she took. Was she possibly experiencing some sort of heart attack? She had read her parents’ medical books and a heart attack was often described as the feeling like an elephant had just settled on somebody’s chest. And this was exactly how this felt. 

But no, Madame Pomfrey reassured her that her body was indeed fine and her heart was in perfect order. So why wasn’t she feeling fine then? Maybe she should transfer to St Mungo’s in the hope that they would be able to find something? Or should she simply wait and hope that the pain was going away? No, it felt like she really needed to do something, she just didn't know what. Maybe going to the library could have soothed her panic and helped her find an answer, but as it was she was still confined to her bed and a sleeping draught was everything Madam Pomfrey would offer her for the night. 

Hermione sighed. She needed to trust the witch, she was the professional, after all. Still, if things hadn’t improved tomorrow, she would seek help somewhere else, even if that meant leaving Hogwarts behind.

 

Ssssssss

 

When Severus finally delivered Albus' potions it was again the middle of the night. He felt horrible again, his chest too tight to enable him to take a deep breath. But what was worse was that his need to visit the girl was strong enough to force him to walk towards the infirmary, his feet no longer listening to his commands to simply carry him back to his chambers. It felt like somebody had put him under the Imperius, except being controlled by that Unforgivable Curse felt pleasant. This, on the other hand, was not. Still, with every step he took into her direction, the urge to visit her grew, whereas the pain in his chest seemed to lessen somewhat. And so it was only minutes until he was back at her bed. The girl was asleep, but it wasn't a very peaceful one by the look of it. There was a bottle of dreamless sleep on her nightstand, but she still tossed and turned, while tiny pained moans and whimpers escaped her mouth. His chest contracted at the sight of it.

Something was wrong with her too, he realized and without realizing what he was doing at first, he stepped closer and carefully touched her sweaty forehead. Her temperature seemed to be fine, Severus noted and he already wanted to pull back his hand, when the girl made a relieved sigh before leaning into his touch. He froze. For a moment he feared he had woken her, but no, knocked out by the Dreamless Sleep the girl slept on and suddenly her body seemed to relax and seemed much more peaceful than before. It was impossible, he thought, but when he considered himself, he realized that he instantly felt better, too. The pressure on his chest was almost gone, substituted by something that almost felt like happiness. It was a long time since he had felt anything like it, but he remembered the feeling from his childhood. He should probably have been glad to be able to experience it again, but instead, he felt terrified and hastily snatched his hand away. What did he think he was doing here, touching a student for his own satisfaction? But was it really just him? Miss Granger's sleep did seem more peaceful now, as her moans and whimpers had stopped and she now lay still in her bed. The physical contact seemed to have helped her too, he realized, but that did not help to settle his nerves in the least. What if the girl felt the same desperation as he did? Did that mean they would be forced together by whatever condition had befallen them? Would he maybe even be forced to touch her again? No, there needed to be a solution to all of this. Luckily he knew a man that was currently in his debt. He could only pray that Albus Dumbledore would agree to help him once more. 

 

 

Chapter Text

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.

 

Sssssssss

 

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!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Time of exposure: 1 hour, 32 minutes, 5 seconds

Physical interaction : none

Observations:

The test subject did not seem averse to spending time together, as she tried initiating an intellectually stimulating conversation three times during our encounter. I played along, satisfying her curiosity whenever I could, even though it was sometimes tedious for me to do so. Spending time with her isn’t too much of a sacrifice though, if she is mostly keeping quiet, which she thankfully did, most of the time. Furthermore, I recognized a particular fondness for Transfiguration and Charms, which can possibly be used to initiate further contact in the future. 

 

Severus put his quill aside and read over his notes one more time. Now he only needed to measure the time until the effect of this last interaction wore off and he would have the first set of data for his analysis. He had to admit that it hadn't been too painful to spend time with the girl, especially as they were spending time in the library, which was totally free of any students who might have gawked at them. He followed her patiently through the rows of books and even offered to levitate her choice of books back to the infirmary for her. It earned him another pleased smile from her that made his heart beat agitatedly for exactly 112 seconds, another fact he noted down in his lab book. It wasn't affection, or heaven forbid attraction, of course, more some sort of weird physical reaction to their magic being in sync, or something like that. He'd use the next hours to go over the book he had managed to secretly check out of the library during their visit. It contained a whole chapter dedicated to Kindred Magic and even though it was over a hundred years old, it probably contained lots of valuable information. He would use his evening reading-time to take detailed notes of everything that seemed relevant to him and maybe he could even use the summer break to visit the magical section of the British National Library. If there was a place where he could find out more about his condition, then it was there.

 

Ssssssss

 

Going to the library had been a brilliant idea, Hermione decided, balancing the book on advanced Transfiguration on her knees while lounging on her hospital bed. The time outside of bed did not seem to have tired her out in the least, it was actually quite the contrary. When Professor Snape accompanied her back to the infirmary, she felt strangely refreshed and almost giddy with excitement, which was strange if one considered how horrible she had still felt yesterday at the same time. Her Professor was actuallymuch better company for her library visit than Harry or Ron had ever been. He did not stress her to hurry or started wiggling around impatiently behind her back. No, whenever Hermione found a section or a book she was particularly interested in, he started to browse the shelf himself and in the end, he checked out a few books too, the variety of topics surprising her. But was it really so surprising that her Potions Professor was interested in fields varying from his teaching position? As far as she had heard, he regularly applied for the position of the DADA teacher. Maybe she should try to be more open-minded when it came to Severus Snape. The man had surprised her more than once during the last few days, which made her realize that she barely even knew him. Wasn't that strange if one considered that the man had taught her for five years now? 

The day progressed fairly quickly while she browsed through the various books she had brought back from the library. Some of them were fairly interesting but as Madam Pomfrey forbade her to take notes or practise any spells, she put them aside fairly quickly. She couldn't wait to get out of bed again as there was only so much she could read before her feet got restless or her back started to hurt from lying around in bed for days. Merlin, she didn’t  remember that it was so boring to stay at the infirmary, but the last time she had been there, her friends had been over to visit her as often as they could. But Harry, Ron and Ginny were gone and there was no saying when she'd be able to see them again.

It was around dinnertime when she could feel herself getting more and more restless, but Madame Pomfrey was nowhere to be found. Instead, Professor Snape strode through the infirmary door, studying her with an unreadable expression as he stepped next to her bed.

"Professor Dumbledore sent me to look after you as Madame Pomfrey is currently … busy," he said with a sour expression. "You could, of course, wait for her, if this is what you prefer, but if you'd rather get this over with, I will change that dressing and help you administer the salve."

Hermione looked at him worriedly. “Is Professor Dumbledore alright? I somehow got the feeling that Madame Pomfrey was worried about him all day.”

The Professor sighed. "He's fine," he replied matter of factly before he focussed her with an impatient expression. "So? Do you want me to tend to your curse wound?"

She nodded. “It’s gotten itchy again and the salve helps to keep that at bay. I’d rather have it now,” she admitted. “Do you want me to take off my shirt? Or is it alright if I just lift it?”

The man looked at her unblinkingly for a long moment. "I guess taking this off would make things easier. Do you…" he paused, taking a deep breath. "Are you wearing anything below that, so that your modesty will be preserved? Otherwise, I could also transfigure your pyjama top accordingly."

Hermione looked at him with wide eyes, her heart fluttering nervously at the idea of undressing in front of him. Thankfully that would not be necessary, she realized and looked at him with a thankful smile. “I’d appreciate it if you could transfigure my clothes accordingly, Professor. This is… you are very thoughtful, Sir.”

He looked at her with an unreadable expression. “Sit at the edge of your mattress then and try not to fidget.”

She nodded and swung her legs out of bed. Carefully she shifted her weight and moved right in front of him. Hermione could feel him watching her and for some reason, her belly fluttered nervously at the realization. Why was she suddenly feeling nervous? She trusted Professor Snape, Dumbledore trusted him as did Madame Pomfrey. He obviously knew what he was doing, as the Headmaster himself had sent him to take care of her. It was therefore unlikely that he would hurt her, right? Still, she could not deny she was suddenly feeling fluttery when the Professor stepped in front of her, silently pointing his wand at her chest. Right away she could feel her clothes change, without him having uttered a single word, her pyjama top just shortening and getting slimmer, until it snugly fitted around her, perfectly covering everything she would rather the broody Professor not see. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. 

Professor Snape looked at her neutrally. “All right, next I’ll vanish these dressings. Hold still.”

She blinked at him in surprise. “While they’re still on? Shouldn't you take them off first?" she asked nervously. "Madam Pomfrey always…" she snapped her mouth shut when she saw his gritted teeth and the stormy expression in his eyes. "Sorry, Sir. I'm sure you know what you are doing."

He nodded with a dark expression, but to her surprise, he did not scold her in return. Instead, he just non-verbally vanished the dressings, before his eyes fixed on the large, purple scar on her side. At first, he did not speak, just studied the broken skin with his brows pulled together. "I will adapt the formula for your healing potions once more," he said and opened the little black container that held the green salve. "This still looks pretty angry. Are you still in a lot of pain?" Hermione nodded mutely, her eyes fixing his slim hands when he dipped two fingers in and scooped a generous amount out of the container. Finally, she could see him step closer and for a moment he towered over her before he kneeled down, to her surprise. It was a strange shift of perspective, as she could suddenly see the top of his head, right in front of her. But before she had the chance to study the structure of his ink-black hair, she could suddenly feel his hand against her ribs. For a moment she stiffened and sucked in her breath in surprise. She had not expected his touch to feel just like that . Madam Pomfrey’s hands were somehow always cold, and her touch was efficient and deliberate, but never overly pleasant. Hermoine had expected it to be the same with Professor Snape, she had been sure that his hands would feel cold and somewhat stiff, but to her surprise, they didn't. His skin was warm, his touch gentle, almost hesitant as he carefully rubbed the oily salve into her tender skin, sending a pleasant tingling through her skin where he touched it. Hermione inwardly shook her head about her own stupidity. Hadn't she already realized that she didn't know the man at all? So why was she surprised that he again behaved differently than she expected?

It was only a few seconds until she felt the itching and puckering of the scar lessen and she caught herself sighing happily as she felt the relief brought by the salve. She was glad she had agreed to Professor Snape helping her. Until now she hadn't realized how much the wound actually still bothered her.

"Thank you, Professor," she said a while later, when the man had finished dressing her wound. "It feels much better now."

Professor Snape rose to his feet, his eyes resting a moment longer on her side before his eyes snapped up and he undid the transfiguration on her pyjamas so that the top covered her chest completely once more. Hermione looked at him with a thankful smile.

"It was nothing," he said slowly, sounding like he was somehow deep in thought. "Good night, Miss Granger. I believe you do not need my assistance for taking your potions." He motioned to her nightstand, where ten little phials were neatly lined up. They had not been there a few minutes ago. When had he put them up?

Hermione watched him go and suddenly realized that she wished he would stay a while longer. Merlin, she was really starved for some company, wasn't she? Her eyes followed his retreating figure with resignation. It wasn't like she could ask the man to give up any more of his free time for her. "Good night Professor," she instead replied calmly and saw him nod in acknowledgement of her words. He did not turn around,  but strode out of her room without saying another word.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 16 minutes, 5 seconds

Physical interaction : touching the subject’s skin for exactly 2 minutes in order to tend to her curse wound

Observations: 

The test subject does not seem to be averse to physical contact, as no form of reluctance could be observed as I tended to her wound. I did so reluctantly, but as she is not particularly appealing in her physique, it was not much of a temptation to touch her more than strictly necessary. Therefore the situation was every bit as proper as it should be expected between a Professor and his student. 

The test subject worded some doubts considering my magical abilities, but there did not seem to be a general distrust towards my person. Still, the physical interaction with the test subject provoked an acceleration of my heart rate to 145 bpm and left the feeling of contentment for over 30 minutes afterwards, which is quite remarkable given the fact that the girl is mostly plain and did not say much at all. Apart from that, a refreshing effect could be observed, as I felt more alert and magically rested after ending my interaction with the test subject. This could indeed indicate a replenishing of magical reserves through interaction with the girl, a theory that is worth a further investigation.

 

Severus read over his notes with a dark expression. One day he would kill that meddling, old fool of a Headmaster. It was obvious that this sudden need for Madam Pomfrey was one of his schemes to bring him to interact with the girl, like this… condition wasn't already enough to motivate him to visit her at the hospital wing. But tending to her - touching her skin for Merlin's sake - was more than he ever planned to do. The girl was his student, for god's sake! Still, the interaction with her had felt nice, which could only be explained through this strange situation they found themselves in. He could have sworn that Miss Granger's scar looked less prominent after he had finished tending to it, an effect that could not be explained through the application of another layer of salve. Could this Kindred Magic somehow enable them to heal each other, as well? It was possible, he guessed, even though he had found no evidence for that in the book he had brought from the library. But that did not mean anything, right? He had just begun his research on Kindred Magic, but he got the impression that it was a fairly unexplored field, probably because most of the affected witches and wizards just took their condition for granted and did not have any inclination to do the necessary research. Well, he intended to do better, even if that meant he would have to ask Albus to take up even more of Madam Pomfrey’s time. Severus was sure the old man wouldn’t mind, as he would probably think his scheme had worked. It was ridiculous of course! Severus was only doing this for science and nothing else. 

He was just about to put his quill aside when his Dark Mark suddenly started to hurt. Severus pulled himself to his feet with a curse. Merlin, he had almost forgotten about the fact that his master would want to see him today. He could only hope that this evening would not include a round of torture for him, because since he had been able to feel Miss Granger’s pain while getting wounded, so she would probably be able to feel his, too. 

 

It was fifteen minutes later when he apparated to the front gate of Malfoy Manor and walked through the impeccably groomed gardens of the huge house. He could never understand his friend’s weakness for shaped bushes and exotic birds, but when he passed the gardens he could not help but think that they looked somewhat grey and gloomy today. In his youth, he would have thought the observation was a figment of his imagination, but after years of serving the Dark Lord, he knew better. This would not be a pleasant evening. 

When he strode into the parlour, he could see that most of his comrades were already there and seated at a large table, the Dark Lord enthroned at the head of it with a calculating expression on his face. 

“Ah, Severussss,” he greeted him, as soon as he saw him enter, and he hurried to his master's side, to kneel down in front of him. 

“Master,” he said and lowered his head. “I find myself most grateful to be back at your side.”

For a moment there was no reply from the Dark Lord and instead, he could feel the man's red eyes scrutinize him for what felt like an eternity. Severus had expected nothing less and therefore had his Occlumency shields firmly in place. "And still I hear you have decided to stay at Hogwarts even though the term is closed. How does it come that you have not returned to your family home by now?”

"The Headmaster has been in need of my services," Severus replied evenly and looked at the snake-faced man with an unflinching gaze. "One of the students is still in need of specialized healing potions, as she had a rather unfortunate run-in with a pretty nasty dark curse." He let his mouth twitch with a smile before his eyes travelled to the other end of the table, where Dolohov lounged and focussed him with dark, hungry eyes. "I told the Headmaster I would only be available for a few more days and he should, therefore, send the girl to St Mungos, where she belongs, but he was rather reluctant to let her go."

His master focussed him contemplatively. "I see," he finally said, and motioned for Severus to get back to his feet. "See that you keep an eye on that mudblood," his master instructed before his eyes travelled through the room and came to rest on a pale-blond boy, who was seated next to his father and mother, who looked drawn and tired. "Dumbledore would not keep her close if she did not have any kind of use for him. Depending on what we discover, we might have to eliminate her, eventually."

Severus nodded even though those last words no longer seemed directed towards him, but to his godson. Somehow he got the feeling that the boy and his family were in the Dark Lord’s focus today, a fact that would have him worried if he had any sort of affection for the boy. Luckily he had not, because he got the feeling that this evening would get pretty ugly for Lucius and his spawn. 

 

 

Chapter Text

When Hermione awoke the next morning, she felt as well-rested as she hadn't in weeks. Ever since before her OWLs, she had problems falling asleep, first from stress and now, during the last days, due to the pain and the strange restlessness that had befallen her lately. But finally, things were looking up for her again and even though her wound was still hurting, the pain was much more bearable and she felt strangely energized and rested. Also, her appetite had very much increased and she ate the scrambled egg and toast with an eagerness that reminded her of Ron.

"I was told to take you on a slow walk through the castle grounds," a well-known baritone suddenly said from the direction of the door. When she looked up from her tray, she saw Professor Snape standing in the doorway, his brows raised at her questioningly while his mouth was set in a straight line. "Madame Pomphrey told me you would have to build up your strength again before she could release you from her care and send you back home. Therefore she asked me to take you out."

 

Hermione looked up at him with a surprised smile. She had hoped he would see him today as he was the only company she currently had apart from Madame Pomphrey, who seemed to be rather busy again. "I would love to get out of bed for a while," she admitted calmly. "And if I am unable to continue, you would take me back to the Infirmary, right?"

 

The Professor nodded neutrally. "Of course I would. Change into something comfortable. I'll wait for you outside." Without waiting for a response from her he was gone. 

Hermione sighed and did as she was told. She changed into a T-shirt and some sweatpants because she felt not strong enough to put on some more uncomfortable or complicated clothing. It wasn't a fancy outfit, by any means, but it wasn't like anybody would care - least of all Professor Snape. 

When she walked out of the room about five minutes later, the man was leaning against the wall, staring out of the window with unseeing eyes. He seemed deep in thought but when the door behind her closed again, his head snapped up and his dark, brown eyes focussed on her again. "You're done," he stated neutrally and stepped away from the wall. "I suggest we go down to the edge of the forbidden forest. It is a hot day and it's the only place with enough shade to not get uncomfortable right away. Do you approve of my suggestion?"

 

Hermione nodded with a smile. "I'll go almost anywhere as long as you're getting me out of the Infirmary, Professor" she admitted with a smile. "I think I'm slowly starting to get cabin fever."

 

Professor Snape looked at her for a long moment and it was absolutely impossible to guess what he was thinking. "Very well," he finally said, the corner of his mouth twitching into something like a smile. "Come on then, Miss Granger. And let me know if you start to feel tired or want to return. It is not advisable to tire yourself out too much."

"Yes, Sir," Hermione answered him and followed him through the corridor with a smile on her face. Her belly was fluttering happily at the prospect of finally getting out, even if it was with Professor Snape as a chaperone. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Miss Granger was in surprisingly good shape for having suffered such a strong curse. Severus still remembered the picture of her cursed flesh, still swollen and tender from the foul magic, that had seeped into it. He hadn't been aware of it right away, but he suddenly felt the strong need to curse Dolohov or at least hurt him, when no one was watching. Maybe one of his curses could accidentally stray and hit him during the next Death Eater raid? No, that would probably be too risky as he could not compromise his position as Dumbledore's spy. Still, the need to somehow hurt this bastard grew stronger with every time he watched the girl slow down and lean against a wall for support. 

"Maybe we should go back," he calmly suggested, after it happened for the third time. Miss Granger's eyes immediately snapped up and she fixed him with an almost desperate expression. 

"No Sir, please. We are almost outside, now. I would really enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery," she pleaded. 

His first impulse was to scold her for being unreasonable, but a moment later he realized that going back would mean his visit being over, which would not leave him with any new data to work with. No, he needed to spend a bit more time with her, for scientific purposes of course. "As you wish. We can walk a bit further. If I remember correctly there is a tree pretty close to the castle. It will provide enough shade for us to sit down and enjoy the fresh air."

He deliberately underlined the last words to remind her, that she had been the one uttering them. To his astonishment, the girl simply smiled at him in return. "That would be brilliant!" she uttered and a moment later she had started walking again. Somehow he was strangely pleased by her words, his body humming happily, filled with the strange energy that seemed to seep into him, as soon as she was near her. He would have to be careful to not get too dependent on this feeling of contentment he had started to experience in her presence. Because when it was done he would only have an unnecessarily hard time to readjust to the loneliness again.

They sat down below the tree, Severus making the quick decision to transfigure a large blanket for them. The action was promptly rewarded by another appreciative smile from the girl. 

"It's a beautiful day," she exclaimed with a happy sigh and sat down. Severus carefully chose a spot a bit farther away from her and lowered himself to the ground. He chose to not reply. He would not ridicule himself by talking about the weather. On the other hand, they could not simply sit here in silence, even though this usually was what he preferred. But if he wanted to find a way to regularly interact with the girl without her realizing they had a special connection, then this would take some planning and effort from his side. Therefore he chose the first topic that came to his mind and said: "In your last potions essay you wrote, that the addition of Moonfairy dust would improve the effectiveness of the Cramp Reliever. Where did you get the idea from?"

He could feel the girl's focus shift towards him, as her eyes suddenly fixed him with a proud expression. Every other student had probably refused to answer or mumbled something about not being able to remember. But this was Hermione Granger, the witch that was always eager to answer his questions and she did not disappoint. Severus saw her taking a deep breath before her caramel-brown eyes lighted up with interest. It was probably the first time he encouraged her to share her thoughts with him and a moment later she did so with an eagerness that was rather catching. Her argumentation was sound, he realized with a pleased little smile. Maybe these next hour wouldn't be as dull as he suspected. Luckily Miss Granger was an intelligent conversation partner. This would make this whole situation much more bearable, Severus thought.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposition : 2 hours, 34 minutes, 45 seconds

Physical interaction: none

 

Severus stared at the notebook in front of him with a shake of his head. Things had rather gotten out of hand, considering that he had only wanted to spend an hour of his time with the girl. But somehow time had flown by rather quickly with them discussing various aspects of potion-making, he had never even suspected her to have an understanding for. And Merlin he had enjoyed it! Dumbledore had been right. The both of them were more similar than he had first realized and he didn't only mean them being able to share an intellectually stimulating conversation. No, in some ways the girl really reminded him of himself as a teenager, only that she had been lucky enough to find herself some loyal friends that supported her and kept the bullying at bay. Weasley and Potter had always been eager to defend her against anyone trying to bully her and for a moment Severus asked himself if his life would have taken a different turn if he had had equally loyal friends. It might have. Well, there was no going back for him now. The past could not be undone, he had learned that the hard way.

With a sigh, he dipped his quill into the ink and after a moment of hesitation he continued to write:

 

Observations: 

 

The subject could be easily swayed to indulge in intellectual discussion,  which made being exposed to her presence much more bearable. I should remember that approach if the need arises to instigate further contact. She has proven to be more intelligent than I so far realized, as she was able to properly discuss several topics, without permanently citing from a book. Therefore the conversation was much more manageable as I did not constantly feel the need to silence her as I do in class. 



He left it at that and started to note the measurements of his heart rate and other relevant factors he had magically tracked during his meeting with Miss Granger. Later that day he would visit her again, to change the dressing of her wound again, as Dumbledore would keep Madame Pomphrey otherwise occupied. If things went well, Miss Granger would soon not be too averse of meeting him, which would make seeing her regularly during the new school year much easier. Her holidays were a problem though. As it looked it would only be a few days, until the girl returned to her parents. In order to keep their strange connection a secret he would still need to see her during that time, but he would find a way to do that, without her noticing.

 

Ssssssss

 

"Professor Snape?" Hermione asked carefully, as the man carefully took off her dressing in the evening. Their walk in the morning had gone rather well and the man hadn't insulted her once. This made her hopeful he would not sneer at her right away when she addressed him.

She was right. The man just looked up at her with a contemplative gaze. "What is it?"

"Madam Pomphrey told me that this scar would never totally fade. Is there some way to hide it for a while? Maybe a long-lasting glamour or a cream?"

Hermione saw his brows knit together in annoyance and she could tell he attempted to brush her off, so she hastily continued: "I… might not have told my parents the truth about my injury, Sir. I don't want them to remove me from school and so I did not tell them about our trip to the ministry, the basilisk or You-Know-Who."

"You did not tell them anything, did you?" he asked with a shake of his head. At least he no longer sounded annoyed with her.

"Not really, no. Hogwarts is the place where I finally don't feel like a freak, where I found some friends. I don't want to lose that, Sir. I know I'll have to tell them, probably soon, but maybe I could just enjoy this last summer…"

She broke off, realizing how stupid and egoistical she sounded. The Professor would be right to scold her for her childish behaviour. But he didn't.

"I would strongly advise against casting a glamour on a cursed wound, Miss Granger," he said pulling a face as if he spoke from experience. "It usually does not end well. But there might be other ways to hide it for a shorter amount of time. I'd have to look into it, though."

Hermione looked at him with wide eyes. "You'd do that for me, Sir?"

The man looked at her with a crooked smile and gleaming eyes. "I might if you are willing to make up for the time it takes me, to create something for you. You seem to be rather efficient in preparing potion ingredients. Would you be willing to work some evenings in my lab and assist with brewing?"

Hermione had expected anything but not that, which might be the reason she simply stared at the man, her mouth hanging open. "I'd love to, Sir. I'll work very hard and I will not disappoint you, I promise!" she said and for a moment she had the urge to just hug the unruly man for his unexpected kindness. But that would probably end with him sneering at her and taking his offer back. 

"You better not," he said and dipped two of his long fingers into the container holding the green balm, that he would once again have to apply to her wound. Hermione followed the motion with a small smile on her lips. She could not believe how lucky she was. Working with him in the lab wasn't a chore for her at all. She would surely be able to pick up some things while she watched a potions master brew. Merlin, she could not believe how lucky she was!

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposition: 20 minutes 33 seconds

Physical interaction: for 2 minutes and 30 seconds

Observations: 

 

Again, the test subject did not show any aversion against being touched. The change of the wound dressing showed a massive improvement in the wound. The application of the healing salve alone again stimulated a vast regeneration of the curse damage within minutes, that can not be tracked to the ingredients of the salve alone. This is supporting the hypothesis of increased healing or self-healing due to physical contact. 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. 

The test subject agreed to assist me in my lab after the holidays. She was not even hesitant to do so. Maybe this will provide a chance to extend the length of exposition to her even further and therefore note any other effects on my magic or mental state. Spending time in her presence, however tedious it might appear to me, seems to have a positive effect on both . I will need a plausible reason for the subject to be seen near me or in the classroom after hours. Also I will need to ascertain what the girl tells her “friends" of our continual interactions.  



Sssssssss

 

"Why did you agree to accompany Potter to the Ministry, knowing that this was probably a suicide mission?" Severus found himself asking two days later. He had again taken her on a walk and this time they managed to walk to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, where he again transfigured a thick, soft blanket for them to sit down on. When Miss Granger continued to make as much progress, he would soon have to send her back to her parents, which was when the problems for him would start. He still did not know how to meet her then, especially as he did not want to point out their strange connection to her. Knowing about it she would probably feel pressured to spend time with him or feel obliged to befriend or Merlin forbid fall in love with him and that was a disaster he wanted to avoid at all costs. 

For a moment Miss Granger did not react to his question and stared unseeingly towards the castle. Finally, she sighed and looked at him with a resigned expression. "Harry is my friend, Professor and I'd do almost anything for him. I know this sounds stupid, but I had always problems making friends. Before Hogwarts, kids used to avoid me. They thought me strange and not just because of the strange accidents that used to happen around me. I was too bookish, or too grown up in their eyes and so I was often bullied or simply ignored." The girl's expression was guarded, probably because she expected some sort of nasty comment from him. How should she know that he exactly knew what she was talking about? It had been the same for him, only that he had already made a friend before coming to school - a friend he would have done anything for. But that wasn't the point right now. 

"Just because Potter is your friend does not mean you should help him getting killed, Miss Granger," he said, focussing her caramel brown eyes with a serious expression. "I know this is not easy, as your friend tends to be reckless and to not think things through. But that is what you can help him with. Don't tell me you haven't at least considered that this… vision could have been an attempt to trap him?"

The girl sighed and finally lowered her gaze. "I told him it probably was, which is why he finally agreed to floo-call Grimmauld Place and check if Sirius was alright. We only reached Kreacher, the house-elf though, who told us that Sirius was not there."

"I see," Severus replied calmly. He could not help but ask himself what would have happened if he had sent somebody to the Ministry right away that day. Miss Granger would probably have never gotten hurt and the strange connection between them might have remained undetected until today. He found himself not knowing if he liked that idea. "It is not my place to judge your decisions, Miss Granger, but let me tell you the following: before this war is over, you'll have to make many difficult and probably dangerous decisions. Not only you but all of us. If you want you and your friends to survive, then you'll not only need to be a brave Gryffindor, you'll need all the cunning and carefulness of a Slytherin as well." He looked at her meaningfully. "Mr Potter and Mr Weasley do have enough bravery to last you through the war, but from time to time it will be your job to hold them back and let them reconsider. This might not make you very popular with them for the moment, but maybe this will make the difference between dying and surviving."

The girl looked at him with wide eyes and for a moment he had to fight the strong urge to comfort her. He was already almost overstepping the fine line between teacher and student, but he had to make sure the girl understood the danger of being too careless. "I know that the right decision is not always the easy one, Miss Granger and considering that I am a Death Eater I know plenty about making the wrong decisions."

Damn, he did not want to say that, but somehow the words just slipped out without him realizing until it was too late. The effect was immediate, as the girl's gaze suddenly grew hesitant and her bottom lip disappeared between her teeth. A moment later he could see her tormenting it nervously. "Why did you join the Death Eaters, Sir?" she finally asked quietly but still loud enough for him to hear. He looked back at her with a regretful smile. 

"There is no simple answer for such a complicated question, Miss Granger. I had several reasons back then but to explain them I would have to tell you about my past, which I will not do," he said calmly and immediately he saw her nod.

"Of course, Sir. I didn't mean to pry or to disrespect you," the girl hastily assured him with downcast eyes. 

"A question is rarely a form of disrespect, at least if it is asked accordingly. As long as you accept your question not being answered…"

"I don't," she assured him, interrupting him mid-sentence.  

"Good. And now we should probably head back to the castle. It's almost lunchtime," he said and without waiting for her reply he pulled himself up to his feet. Miss Granger followed his example a moment later. Somehow this discussion with her had developed to be much more personal than he intended to. But somehow he realized that he could not find himself to regret that. Miss Granger had not flinched away from him after his confession of being a Death Eater, she had not judged him for it, just asked after his reasons for making this discussion. What would have happened if he had told her about his past? Would she have understood or maybe even tried to comfort him? He pushed the thought away with a sigh. Trusting people was always a mistake, one that he would not make again. He would make no exception to this self-made rule, not even for one Hermione Granger.




Chapter Text

“You are not going to tell her, are you?” Albus said, his blue eyes looking at him with mild disappointment. Severus looked back at him in annoyance.
"Of course not," he said, decidedly ignoring the cup of tea the man had offered him in his office. "I can't see her reacting rationally to this kind of news. Either she shies away and makes this more difficult than it needs to be. Or she feels pressured or trapped into doing something she'd rather not. Miss Granger is a teenage girl, Albus. She's supposed to be allowed to make her own decisions and not…" he waved through the air, as no appropriate words would come to him.
The Headmaster looked at him with knowing eyes and sighed. "Who said she could not? She is an intelligent woman, as you surely realized by now. Kindred Magic is not a curse, Severus, it's a gift. But more importantly: it is not something that is suddenly forced on you out of the blue. It’s not some charm, Severus, as it’s most likely always been there. You’ve just never realized that it was. Think of it like the question of what was there first: the egg or the hen?”
Severus could not help but roll his eyes. "The egg, of course, it's obvious. But I guess I get what you are trying to say. Still, if it is like you're saying, not telling her will not make any difference. Either this is meant to happen, or not, end of story."
The Headmaster stared at him with a shake of his head. "You are making a mistake, my boy and I fear that you are coming to regret it one day."
He shrugged. "I'm sure you won't be too shy to tell me when that day arrives. Is there anything else you need from me?"
Albus studied him with a grandfatherly expression. “You will be the one to escort her home tomorrow,” he said and took a sip from his cup. “As you’ll have to visit her from time to time, even if it is in secret, I can as well give you the chance to find out more about her home.”
Severus nodded. "As you wish," he said and got up from his chair. This was probably another one of Dumbledore's attempts to manipulate him, but right now he did not care because the man was right. He needed to at least get an idea of the girl's living situation and her plans for the holidays. Visiting her in secret would be hard enough as it was.

Ssssssss

The time started to fly and soon Hermione was healthy enough to finally leave the infirmary and Hogwarts and go home. Over the last days, Professor Snape had visited her regularly. In the morning he usually took her on a walk over the grounds and day by day she could see her fitness return until they made a long walk along the Black Lake without her tiring out. That was yesterday and as soon as they returned, the Professor told her that she would be able to leave the castle tomorrow. It was good news of course, as she would finally be allowed to go home and see her parents. But somehow the thought of leaving Hogwarts behind also made her sad, which was ridiculous as she would all too soon return for the new school year. Still, the thought of leaving the castle felt wrong and she could not help but sigh when she tugged her last school uniform away and closed her suitcase.
"You might want to open that again," a well-known, male voice suddenly said and when she looked up, she could see Professor Snape standing in the doorway of her dorm. It was strange seeing him here as she had somehow always thought that only other Gryffindors could enter the Gryffindor tower. Now she realized how ridiculous that was. Professor Snape was a teacher at this school and therefore he was probably able to visit all the rooms of the castle, well most of them.
“Professor Snape!” she said and looked at the man with a pleased smile.
The man studied her with an unreadable expression, before he suddenly took an old book out of an inner pocket of his robe. "I thought you might enjoy some additional reading material for your summer break," he said and for a moment Hermione could have sworn that her Professor sounded nervous. But that was ridiculous, right? Why would he be nervous when talking to her?
Hermione looked at him curiously. "That is very thoughtful of you, Sir. I always enjoy a good book to read, but I guess that's not a secret." She blushed. Hermione was, of course, aware that many students and probably also some teachers called her a book-worm and most of them surely did not mean that in a good way. Usually, she did not care about being called names but with him, she suddenly found that she did.
"Not really, no. But it's never a bad thing to strive for more knowledge, as long as one can hold a conversation without constantly citing from a book." His lips twitched and Hermione blushed in mortification. He was right. She should really stop doing that. "This is an old book of mine," he continued "my old potions book to be exact. I believe you'll be needing it next year, but this is not why I am giving this to you. This version has a lot of notes at the sides that might be of interest for you.”
Hermione blinked at him in surprise. "I can't accept this, Sir," she finally said hesitantly and immediately she saw his expression darken. Therefore she hastily added. "I mean no offence, but using that book would be like cheating in class. I don't want to earn my potions grade by having a secret advantage, especially since I would be cheating on you."
For a moment he just stared at her silently, before he said: "I am most likely not going to teach potions next year and if you feel uncomfortable doing so, you would not have to use the book during class. You could also just read through and hand it back to me at the beginning of the school year if this is what you prefer."
Hermione could not help but smile at the man’s thoughtfulness. Somehow it was harder and harder for her to see the snarky Professor in him, that he had been during the school year. When meeting him now, without his Slytherins or any other students around, he was behaving so differently that it almost made her dizzy. No wonder the man was a spy when he could change his behaviour like that. Was this how he really was? "I would," Hermione said and with a happy smile, she accepted the book. It looked very old and worn, but she did not care at all. Professor Snape had just given her something very personal and considering how private the man usually was, the gesture almost took her breath away. "This is very thoughtful, Sir. Thank you. I'll handle it with care and hand it back to you after the summer break."
“As you wish,” Professor Snape replied and nodded calmly. “I also do have something else for you. You asked me after a way to conceal your curse scar and I developed a creme for that purpose.”
The girl looked at him with a stunned expression, before her face broke out in a wide, pleased smile. “Thank you, Professor!” she said, her voice eager. “This is… I can’t believe you did this for me. I don’t know how to thank you for this, Sir!”
"I told you, that you'll have to make up for my lost time during the next school year. Especially at the beginning of the year, I am usually very busy restocking the infirmary. You'll be helping with that," Snape said in a bored tone, but Hermione's smile only widened at his words. She couldn't wait for those evenings if she was honest with herself. Even if the Professor would not directly teach her and probably scold her if she did things wrong, she'd surely be able to learn at least something from working with him.
“I know, Sir. I’m looking forward to it,” she admitted, before accepting the container with cream he handed to her. She carefully stored the small jar and the Professor’s book in her luggage, before snapping it close and looking at the man with an expectant look on her face.
“Are you finished packing? Or do you need me to wait outside for you?”
“No, I’m good, Sir,” she said and cast the featherlight charm on her travelling suitcase. But before she could take it, Professor Snape grabbed it and lifted it with his right arm.
“Well, then come along, Miss Granger. I’ll lead you to the apparition point. It’s only a short walk from the castle.”
Hermione nodded with a hesitant smile and gripped Crookshanks' pet carrier. She had never travelled via apparition before, but she guessed it would be the quickest and safest way for her to get home. "Is there anything to pay attention to while you are apparating us, Sir? I've never done that before."
The Professor looked at her with a grimace. "Yes. Try not to vomit on my shoes," he said dryly.
She looked at him with wide eyes. He must be joking, right? But his face was entirely serious. Merlin! Maybe she should have asked the Headmaster to use the floo and let her parents pick her up from the Leaky Cauldron? But she guessed now it was too late for a change of mind.

Ssssssss

Merlin, he had behaved like a desperate teenager, Severus thought, leading the girl through the castle. He wasn't even sure what possessed him to give her his old, shabby potions book but half an hour ago he had thought it a good idea. Reading his notes could maybe spark another scientific discussion between them, or several. And he thought the girl responsible enough to not use the darker spells he noted in this book. But then the girl had refused to take it, her reasoning was quite understandable actually, and he should have left it at that. Instead, he had almost begged her to take the damned book and could not help but scowl at himself now. What a pathetic, old man he had become!
They slowly walked towards the apparition point. He could feel the girl’s nervousness radiate in waves from her, he just wasn’t sure about the reason for it. Was she afraid of side-along apparition? Or of her parent’s reaction? It was probably the latter, as he himself had never looked forward to going home or telling his parents anything that happened at school. His father, who was a Muggle like Miss Granger's parents, was an abusive bastard and Severus could not fault her for not telling them the truth about her little stunt at the Ministry. He would have done the same. Maybe it was good that he'd decided to keep an eye on her during the holidays…
"We're almost there," he said calmly and out of the corner of his eye, he saw the girl nodding. She hadn't said a word since leaving her dorm and even though she hasn't been as annoyingly attention-seeking as during potions class in the last days, her silence felt somewhat strange. Merlin, he really shouldn't have given her this damned book, should he? It was an explanation for her to suddenly behave so shy towards him, wasn't it?
Only a few steps further had them arrive at the apparition point. Miss Granger looked at the marked area wearily and he could see her eyes nervously dart between her travelling suitcase and the pet carrier, that held her huge orange beast of a cat. It stared at him calculatingly, while its long bushy tail whipped back and forth. The ugly, flat-nosed cat hated him, this much he could tell. He guessed it didn't matter, as he wasn't a fan of cats either.
"I will apparate you and the luggage at once," Severus calmly explained and looked at the girl to judge her reaction. "You'll have to grip my arm tightly and use your other arm to carry your cat. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, I could apparate you first and come back for the rest later."
The girl looked at him with a hesitant expression. “We can do it all in one go, Sir. I just… I’d really like to avoid vomiting at your shoes or any other part of you.”
The Professor shrugged indifferently. “Getting sick after your first side-along apparition happens to most people, Miss Granger. You shouldn't worry too much about it. Instead, try to concentrate on not letting go. Can you do that?"
His student nodded. “Yes, Sir,” she said, sounding determined. Severus nodded and offered her his right arm.
“Very well then. Hold on tight," he instructed and a moment later he could feel her hand gripping his arm in determination. It was the first time she touched him and even though he could feel her hand only through his robe, he felt goosebumps spread all over his arm. Merlin, he needed to get a grip on himself, otherwise, he would risk splinching her. "Are you ready?" he asked and saw her nod in confirmation. A moment later they were gone.

Ssssssss

Hermione felt her stomach lurch in protest, as her whole body was squeezed through what felt like the eye of a needle while she was riding some sort of invisible rollercoaster. The feeling thankfully only lasted a few seconds, before she had once more solid ground under her feet. It all happened so suddenly that she still stumbled forward, feeling horribly dizzy and definitely sick. Professor Snape must have expected it, as she could feel his strong hands grip her shoulders and keep her upright, preventing her from falling to her knees.
“Deep breaths,” he instructed her calmly and Hermione nodded. The small movement of her head was enough to let her stomach clench in protest though and she could only rip herself away from him and stumble to one of her mum’s rose bushes. There she immediately lost her breakfast. Merlin, how embarrassing! At least she managed to not hit the Professor, even though she had probably just killed one of her mum's prized flowers.
"Hermione, love, are you alright?" she suddenly heard her mum shout from the backdoor of their house and a moment later she heard her run towards her with quick steps. Brilliant! Just when she was about to pull herself up, she saw Professor Snape appear next to her, shielding her from her mum's view. She saw him silently vanish her vomit with a movement of his wand and could not help but thank him silently for his quick thinking. It was just in time as her mum arrived at her side a moment later.
“ ‘M fine mum,” Hermione mumbled hastily. “Travelling through magical means always seems to be somewhat unpleasant but I think apparition is my least favourite way of transport.”
"Oh Dear, is it worse than the brooms?" her mum asked sympathetically. Hermione nodded miserably before she remembered Professor Snape standing next to her.
“Mum, this is Professor Snape, my Potions Professor,” she hastily said and prayed that her mum would not embarrass her but saying something Hermione had written her about in her letters. She had often complained about the man’s unfairness or and unfriendliness, so it would not even surprise her if one of her parents felt appointed to set things right for their daughter.
"Professor Snape, huh?" her father suddenly said from behind her. She hadn't even seen him coming, but it was only a moment before she felt herself being pulled into his strong arms. "Hello Pumpkin," he murmured against her hair, so that hopefully only she was able to hear it. "I'm glad you're finally back home. Took you long enough, hey?”
“ ‘m sorry daddy,” she mumbled before pulling away with a sheepish smile on her lips.
Her father looked back at her with twinkling eyes. "I bet you are," he said before his eyes focussed back on Professor Snape. "Thank you for bringing my girl home," he said and offered the man his hand. "I am Dan Granger and this is my wife Emma."
Her Professor shook her father's hand with an acknowledging nod. "Severus Snape," he introduced himself with an unreadable expression on his face.
"We'd be glad if you joined us for lunch. I know it's still early, but we'd really like to finally meet the Professor that is featured in almost every one of Hermione's letters."

Hermione groaned inwardly. Leave it to her parents to embarrass her in front of Professor Snape. If it ever came to that lunch, the man would probably hate her even more than he already had before. Would he start regretting to having treated her kindly for the last days? She hoped not.
"I'm sure the Professor is quite busy," Hermione said hastily and plastered an apologetic smile on her lips. "He already agreed to stay behind at the castle to provide the potions needed for my recovery. I'm sure he's glad to finally be able to go home."

Her father looked at her with a knowing smile, before his eyes moved to her travelling companion. “In this case…” he said, but Professor Snape interrupted him with a shake of his head.
"I am sure I can make some more time for eating lunch with you," he answered and then he smiled. Hermione looked at him with a stunned expression, as his features were suddenly friendly and nothing reminded of the unfriendly man she had often described in her letters. That’s when she knew that the next hour would probably be one of the longest of her life.

Chapter Text

Severus could tell the girl was uncomfortable with him staying longer at her parent's house and even though Dan and Emma Granger seemed to be completely different from what he imagined them to be, he could understand Miss Granger's feelings. As a teenager, he would have hated the idea of his Professor talking to his parents, especially to his father. He would have been almost sure that the man would have found fault with his Professor's words and beaten him up afterwards. Whereas his parents would probably not have given the best of pictures about his home life, but probably not bad enough that someone had been worried enough to get him out of there.

 

But Severus still could not miss out on the chance to get to know the Granger’s house, which he was going to secretly visit over the next few weeks. He would also need to learn about the family’s holiday plans as he did not wish to suddenly stand in front of an empty house realizing the family was no longer there. Maybe it would also be possible for him to erect some simple wards around the Muggle family’s house, as there were no magical protections in place. And he could not help but feel worried about the girl’s security.

Dumbledore was right with one thing: not telling Miss Granger about the bond was a risk and it would need careful preparation from his side, to not mess things up. Which meant Severus needed all information he could get, even at the price of making Miss Granger uncomfortable. 

"I am sure I can make some more time for eating lunch with you," Severus said as friendly as possible. It couldn't hurt to make a good impression with these Muggles, especially as he planned secretly spending time with their underage daughter. Merlin, it really sounded creepy when he put it like that. 

“Excellent!” Emma Granger exclaimed, clapping her hands together in delight. “Come in then.”

He was just about to move, when he heard a scratching sound to his feet and when he looked down, the ugly, orange furball tried to break out of his carrier. His student must have heard it too, as she kneeled down a moment later and released the animal from its prison. The cat did not lose any time and darted towards the next tree, his tail erect and strangely reminding him of a bottle brush. Well, side-along apparating surely hadn’t helped to gain the monster’s affection, he guessed. 

The Grangers led him inside their house, a well-kept two-storey building that spoke of a good income and people caring about it. The rooms were all painted in light colours, the interior of the house organized and lovingly decorated while almost every room he passed had at least one shelf brimming with books. The Grangers were no doubt intellectual people and at least one of the elders enjoyed reading as much as their daughter did. It reminded him painfully of his childhood and what he had been missing from it.

"Mum, Dad, I'll take my luggage upstairs first before joining you in the kitchen," Hermione said, her expression almost haunted. A moment later she left, her suitcase in hand and Severus could not help but think that the girl just fled the room. She had never done that before. Her parents did not seem to mind though, as they just followed her with an amused expression.

“I’m sure she will be right back,” her mother assured him and led him into a pristine kitchen with a big dining table. “Would you like a cup of tea, Professor? Or would you prefer joining my husband in his study until lunch is finished?”

“We could play a game of pool or I could introduce you to my favourite Scotch,” Mr Granger added with a friendly smile and Severus realized that this might be the perfect chance for him to get the information he needed.

Severus looked back at the man with a friendly smile. “That would be lovely,” he replied and followed the man into a luxurious study that contained a huge desk, several bookshelves but also a pool table. Merlin, those Muggles were really well off. It was a far cry from how he had lived as a child and teenager. Miss Granger could really consider herself lucky for such an upbringing. Still, he could see that she wasn't even aware of how lucky she was.

Severus sighed. It was time for him to collect as much information as he could from those Muggles and he would start by using the time until lunch. If he had problems finding some things out, he could always use Legillimency on Dan Granger and wipe the man’s memory afterwards. None of the other Grangers ever had to find out. 

Lunch would afterwards be a perfect chance for him to make a good, “first impression” with these muggles. He needed to gain their trust in case he would meet them in the future. Considering that he was linked to their daughter that wasn’t even unlikely.

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione hurried down the stairs, Professor Snape was gone. Well, at least he wasn’t in the kitchen like Hermione expected him to be. 

"Where is he? Where's the Professor?" she asked her mum, looking around the kitchen with wide, agitated eyes. Merlin, she had just wanted to get her suitcase out of the way because she knew her mum hated it when she left things lying around.

Her mum looked at her with a knowing smirk. “He went to your father’s study,” she replied, washing salad in the sink. “Calm down. Your dad invited him for a game of pool, I believe.”

“But…” Hermione started, her shoulders sinking. Merlin, what would her father say about her? And what would Professor Snape tell him about her adventures at Hogwarts in return? She groaned.

“It will be fine honey,” her mum told her with a shake of her head. “Come, help me with the salad. You can cut the tomatoes and the cucumber.”

Hermione nodded, even though her stomach was still in knots. But there was nothing she could do now. She sliced the veggies as carefull y as she could, imagining the Professor to raise his brows at a sloppy cut piece of cucumber, even though that was probably humbug. Still, she could not help but want to impress the man, even if it was through a skillfully prepared salad. She did not want him regretting to have asked her to help him out in the lab, after all. Still, her thoughts often enough drifted towards her father’s study, nervousness gripping her the longer the man stayed away. Were they talking much? Was the Professor sneering at her father and her father was throwing back every nasty comment she had written to her parents in her letters? After half an hour she felt like she was going to be sick. What were they even doing in there for such a long time?

“Hermione?” her mother asked, pulling her out of her frantic thoughts. “Stop wanting to control everything. I told you it will be fine. Whatever the Professor says, your father will take it in stride and not think too much about it. And I hope you trust him not to embarrass you in return.

"No, of course, I trust him," she mumbled with a scowl. "And it's not that I want to control everything. I'm just worried, that's all."

"Worried," the other woman repeated tonelessly. "Was that your excuse for trying to trap house-elves into freedom? In the end, they did not really like it that much, did they?”

Hermione winced then nodded mutely. “ Not really, no.” She hated to be reminded of that failure.

“And wasn’t there that story of you letting Professor McGonagall confiscate Harry’s broom? I remember him being terribly mad at you afterwards,” her mum continued, caramel brown eyes studying her reaction carefully. 

“Not to forget your love for making detailed plans without anyone else’s input of their time . I get that, I really do, but maybe others are not so fond of having their life planned out for them. Or did Harry and Ron like the planners you had as a gift for them? Apart from that planning bathroom breaks seems like a bit much, even for me.”

Hermione furrowed her brows. She had forgotten about that particular incident. It was true that she had tried to organize Ron’s and Harry’s revision schedules, but she only wanted to help them. Why couldn’t her mum see that?

But her mother still wasn’t finished. “Not to forget your tendency to budge into other people’s conversations you weren’t originally included in. You did that a lot before you went to Hogwarts and I remember you writing to us about your problems to find friends in the beginning. You found Ron and Harry after a while, but that’s it, isn’t it?”  

Hermione sighed. “Alright, alright. I might be a bit controlling and bossy, but I’m not doing that on purpose,” she admitted sulkily. “I’ll try to better myself from now on, but it’s hard, you know?”

“I know, believe me, I know,” her mum said, tossing the salad. “But you really need to work on this controlling side of yours as I am constantly working on mine . Boys tend to be not overly impressed with bossy women, at least not for a very long while.” She smiled fondly and Hermione thought that she probably referred to her father and herself. Her mother could be a bit bossy and controlling sometimes, after all.

“Alright mum,” she said anyway, before taking some plates and carrying them towards the dining table. “I’ll work on it, I promise,” she said and meant it. Harry and Ron had often enough complained about her bossy side. Maybe she really needed to slowly get a grip on herself.

Her mum smiled. “Good,” she said, twinkling towards her daughter. “Because next year I want you to introduce us to a boy- or girlfriend.”

Hermione groaned. Not this discussion again!

 

ssssssss

 

Hermione shut the door to her room behind her with a relieved sigh. Even though her parents had luckily not repeated Hermione’s stories from her letters to the Professor, lunch seemed to drag on for ages. Hermione had barely spoken a word and instead watched her parents excitedly chatter about her childhood, her outstanding memory and her interest in Muggle science. It was embarrassing watching them praise her, when the man had known her for years. Her mum even recalled the story of her slicing up her mother’s prized black roses in order to study them under the microscope, which led to the Professor standing in her room shortly after, interestedly staring at the scientific equipment she had accumulated all over her desk. 

“Fascinating,” he said a while later while staring through the oculars of the machine she had just loaded with a sample from her collection. “Using this device would be most helpful for studying the properties of different magical plants or other ingredients. It is a pity that Hogwarts prevents Muggle technology from functioning inside its walls.”

Hermione nodded understandingly, before a thought crossed her mind and she started gnawing on her bottom lip. “Well, if you are really interested in checking some samples, you could always install a microscope at your home. Or you could come back here and do so. I am sure my parents would not mind.” 

Professor Snape looked at her for a long moment and at first, it appeared he even considered her invitations. But then he said: "I don't think this would be appropriate, Miss Granger," his voice scolding.

It took a while for her to understand her words but then she realized that he probably referred to the fact that they were in her bedroom, alone. For a moment her belly fluttered at the realisation, but she hastily shooed the feeling away and said: “Of course, Sir. I didn’t think. The microscope could be moved downstairs though, to the kitchen or to the living room.”

The man stared at her with an unreadable expression. Finally, he said: "I cannot be seen travelling to your house again, Miss Granger, as a connection to your family could unnecessarily endanger your parents." She sighed. But Professor Snape was not finished. "I could apparate into your hallway though, but only with your parent's explicit permission, as such behaviour is considered very rude in a wizarding household."

Hermione nodded with a smile. Why was the thought of Professor Snape visiting her during summer break making her so happy? Was ist because she considered herself in his debt? Probably. He did help her a lot during those last days, after all. 

“I’m sure my parents will not mind having you here once or twice,” she said and switched off the microscope. “Even though they will probably want to know every story about my time at Hogwarts you’re willing to tell them.” Hermione rolled her eyes, suddenly thinking that this maybe wasn’t such a good idea, after all.

“I could tell them about you stealing potion ingredients from my storage, brewing Polyjuice and transforming yourself into a cat,” he said, looking at her with his mouth in a straight line, while his eyes twinkled in amusement. Hermione stared at him in disbelief. Where was this humorous side suddenly coming from?

"You've seen that?" she squeaked in mortification, before realizing that he probably was the one who had brewed her antidote. Merlin, of course, he had known about this embarrassing episode of her life.

Professor Snape nodded, the corners of his mouth twitching in amusement. “I have. Don’t worry, I won’t tell them. I don’t tend to blabber about things without at least considering the consequences. And I’m not an overly chatty person, in general.”

Hermione couldn’t help it, she snorted. “No, you aren’t, Sir. And suddenly I’m very glad about that.”

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposition: 3 hours, 2 minutes and 46 seconds

Physical interaction

  • Side-along apparition (4 seconds)
  • Steadying the subject after the apparition (10 seconds)
  • Handshake (3 seconds)

 

Observations: 

 

The test subject felt comfortable enough to joke in my presence and even invited me for a visit to her parents for the purpose of doing scientific research together. Not even the thought of being alone in her bedroom with me seemed to unsettle her. Both actions indicate growing trust or a strengthening of the connection between us, even though they also indicate a lack of awareness of what the appropriate behaviour for a witch her age should be. It seems like her upbringing is to fault for that though, as Muggles seem to be much more careless about their children’s reputation and how it will affect them in life.

 

It was easy enough to pick her father's brain for the information I needed. Most of it he told me on purpose and I only had to retreat to Legillimency 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. At least the girl seems safe enough staying with those Muggles, as they do not seem to be overly abusive towards her.

 

Furthermore, the test subject has a vast knowledge of Muggle science. I should polish up my knowledge in that area as well, as it will be helpful, should we engage any further.

 

Severus stared at his notes with a contemplative expression. The day had taken a strange and unexpected turn, indeed. He even came to realize that he enjoyed the time he spent with the girl and her parents, especially as the elder Grangers treated him totally without prejudice, which made him wonder about the content of Miss Granger's letters, where he seemed to be featured on a regular basis. What had the girl written about him? It couldn't have been overly negative, could it? Otherwise, those Muggles would have surely treated him with less friendliness and hospitality. But he guessed it could also as well have been an act on their side, as he had definitely tried to be as pleasant and friendly as possible. Going by their reactions it had worked, as the elder Grangers didn't have any qualms for inviting him back next week. Still, he’d be back at their house by tomorrow, without any of the family members even knowing and now that he knew them he couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty about that.

 

With a sigh, he looked around his dark and dingy house at Spinner’s End. The contrast to the Granger’s warm and inviting home only made him realize, in what kind of shithole he allowed himself to live. Maybe it was time to make the place more habitable and if he cleared out the second bedroom upstairs, he could even make some space for one of those microscopes. Using them without Miss Granger’s assistance could not be too difficult, after all. 

 

Ssssssss

 

After only one day at home, Hermione felt herself getting cranky and nervous. Her parents encouraged her to spend as much time as possible outside and so Hermione retreated to her favourite reading spot in the garden. Already as a little girl, she had regularly climbed the cherry tree and spent most of her free time dreaming and reading at one of its thick branches. If she was lucky enough, there were sometimes also ripe cherries for her to eat and today was such a lucky day. Somehow her thoughts always drifted back to Professor Snape and her mind started replaying the time they had spent together in the last days. It was maddening. Suddenly Hermione remembered seeing him smile and how strange she felt suddenly seeing him like that. Had it been all an act or was the Professor a totally different person, when he wasn’t surrounded by students he had to teach? The more time she spent with him the more she thought that the latter might be the case, as he had been civil with her during the last days and there was no reason for him to pretend. 

He must be very lonely , she thought and a moment later she found herself opening the book he had given her. This book is the property of the Half-Blood Prince, she read, furrowing her brows at the words. Why did the Professor call himself the Half-Blood Prince? Wasn't he a pureblood? Hermione had always thought so but why would he call himself by that name then? It didn't make any sense. With a sigh, she realized that she hardly knew anything about him, apart from the obvious. She only knew that he was a reformed Death Eater that now worked for the Order, but slowly she started to realize that there was so much more to the man. Wouldn't it be worth finding out what was behind the man's snarky facade?

With a smile, she turned back to the book on her lap and turned the page. Its backside was packed with notes in the familiar spiky handwriting that so often covered her essays. Here it covered every inch of the page and before Hermione knew it she had started reading. Halfway through the introduction to his revised copy of "Advanced Potion Making", she found herself smiling while imagining a much younger version of the man, scribbling away in his common room. Yes, Professor Snape was a very private man, but he might have just willingly given her a way to get to know him better anyway.  

 

Ssssssss

 

It was evening when Hermione finally closed Professor Snape’s book on potion making and let herself fall into bed. Somehow, it had been a long tiring day, with her parents bugging her about her accident and about stories of romantic adventures, that were simply non-existent. Especially her mum was convinced that there had to be something romantic going on in her daughter’s life, and even though Hermione had considered Ron in that way, the boy’s immaturity had put her off that idea not long after. It wasn’t like any of them shared her interest in reading or books and if they did like for example Thomas Miller, they mostly were sleep-inducingly boring. So no, there was no boy- or girlfriend in Hermione’s life, no matter how often her mum asked about it with a seemingly knowing gaze. She could only hope that her parent’s curiosity would calm down in a few days, otherwise she would go mad. And she didn’t fancy spending her time in France with painfully awkward conversations that somehow gave her the impression that she was simply different than other teenagers. 

One day I’ll find somebody or I’ll simply have ten cats and I’ll live happily with them, owning a bookstore , she thought and carefully put the Professor’s book on her nightstand. Or I’ll end as a Hogwarts Professor like him, she added realizing that she probably wasn’t the only lonely person in this world. 

Just then a soft knocking on her window pulled her out of her thoughts and Hermione scrambled to her feet, expecting Hedwig or another owl. Instead, there was a black raven on her window sill, staring at her with black, intelligent eyes and offering her a small package he carried in its beak. Hermione looked at the animal with a smile. She had a guess whose animal that was.

"Let's see what you're having for me," she mumbled and accepted the small parcel before she absently stroked the bird's feathers. For a moment she could have sworn that the black messenger even leaned into her touch and she used the observation as an excuse to pet him once again.

“You really are a beautiful bird,” she mumbled before taking the package with her to the bed. There she set down and unwrapped two small potion bottles as well as a short letter. With a smile she started to read: 

“In order to ensure your wound healing properly, I recommend prolonging your medication for another two weeks. SS”

 

"Well, that doesn't say much," she mumbled and eyed to two phials interestedly. She knew them from her time at the hospital wing, as she had taken them on a daily basis for several days now. It was only logical that she would have to take them a bit longer, wasn't it? Only that the poor Professor was now forced to spend even more time brewing for her. Well, she'd just have to make it up to him after the holidays, she told herself, opening her desk to take out a fresh piece of parchment and a quill. The least she could do was write him a thank you note, she decided just as her eyes fell on his book, resting on her nightstand. And maybe she could also ask him about his modifications on the Aging Solution discussed on page 4. Because somehow she felt that after such a tiring day she could really use some intellectually stimulating conversation, even if it was through a letter.

 

Sssssssss

 

Four days of carrying letters back and forth and Miss Granger didn't have any idea that he, in fact, was the black-feathered messenger. He rarely used his animagus transformation as there usually was no reason for him to. But now that he needed a chance to visit the girl his rusty Animagus transformation was the perfect solution. He did not fly all the way to Surrey, just apparated to a place close enough to her home, where he transformed and then flew the rest of the way. He figured out that seeing her once a day was enough when he stayed long enough, often even receiving an affectionate stroke of his feathers. Severus had come to secretly enjoy those short moments, even though his subconsciousness punished him later for his weakness. He meticulously kept track of everything, the time he spent with her, his heart rate during their encounters and even the small tidbits he could learn about the girl, that was supposed to be his kindred spirit - no matter what Albus said, this term was much more usable than the other one. The only problem was her cat. The orange beast stalked him whenever he entered her room and stared at him with yellow, intelligent eyes. Whenever his mistress stroked Severus feathers, he could see the cat creep closer, until it was one day right next to him and Miss Granger, pressing his flat nose against his beak. It took all of Severus’ willpower not to flinch back or flee and instead stare back unblinkingly, because he knew that a stroke of the beasts claw could seriously hurt him while he was transformed. It didn’t though and instead licked his beak a moment later, showing its approval of him. And even though it was just a stupid cat, Severus could not help but feel pride for being approved.

“You’re a clever one, aren’t you?” the little witch told him, while he sat on her desk watching her write her next letter. He had started to read them upside down from there, watching Miss Granger’s fingers casually stroking her wild curls behind her ears almost constantly. “Very much like your owner I guess.”

He couldn’t answer her of course, so he just blinked before continuing to stare at her. Still, her words of praise made his heart swell with pride. Usually, people did not tend to like him, let alone say something nice about him. But this young witch just did.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him again, you know? I’ve started to like him, now that I’ve started to know him better,” she admitted, her eyes drifting towards his old potions book. “I know this is just a textbook, not some sort of diary. Still, I’ve learned so much about him through it and I still have so many more questions. But I’ll probably never get the chance to ask them, will I?”

She sighed and put the quill aside, before rolling up the sheet of parchment and fixing it, so that he'd be able to comfortably carry it in his beak. She never wrote anything personal, just kept asking questions about several potions or the occasional spell he had invented during his sixth year. He had come to enjoy these little discussions on paper, but even more, he liked the silent monologues she had in front of his animagus form. 

"Can you take this to him?" she asked and smiled at him affectionately. He took the little scroll out of her hand, blinked and hobbled towards the window sill. Two strokes of his wings and he was gone, gliding through the night sky towards the next deserted alley. And unbeknownst to him, a pair of grey eyes followed him, before disappearing as soon as he was too far away to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Severus had barely returned home, when a knock sounded at his door, indicating that it must be a wizard or witch visiting him. Muggles usually rang the doorbell, in the rare case they decided to bother him. Unfortunately, the selection of possible visitors was pretty slim and he liked none of the options presenting themselves in front of him. Still, ignoring the knocking was not an option, as he would only make himself suspicious and considering his precarious situation that was simply not an option.

With heavy steps, he walked towards the door and opened it. In front of it was the almost last person he wanted to see in this world, accompanied by her less crazy, once beautiful sister Narcissa. Merlin, help him. This wasn’t just a casual visit. 

“Narcissa, Bella,” he greeted the two women neutrally and stepped aside. “Do come in.”

He led the two women into his living room. Narcissa followed him with a nervous expression on her face, while Bellatrix took in his simple quarters with a gleeful look in her grey eyes. There were only a handful of reasons for those women to visit him and none of them was particularly appealing. 

"To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?" he finally asked after having offered them a place on the sofa and found that they preferred to stand. Narcissa was pacing the room nervously, while her sister's eyes were focussed on him, studying him like a tiger was watching its prey.

“I know I should not be here,” Narcissa started while finally stopping in front of him. She looked at him with a desperate expression in her eyes. “But I came to seek out your help, Severus.”

He looked at her with his head inclined in faked interest. “Is that so,” he said, focussing his eyes on her sister, who had started to go through his things. “Put it down Bella, we mustn’t touch what isn’t ours.”

The woman looked at him with a sneer, but Severus ignored her and returned his attention to Narcissa. From the corner of his eye, he could indeed see Bella putting the old trinket down, she had dared to touch.

“What kind of help is it you came to seek from me then?”

At that, the woman looked at him with something akin to panic. "The Dark Lord…" she started, her voice quivering with fear and probably unshed tears. “He gave Draco a task, a task he’ll never be able to accomplish. I know I shouldn’t even speak about this, as the Dark Lord has forbidden…”

He interrupted her with a dark expression. “If the Dark Lord has forbidden to speak about this, then you should not do so.”

He could feel Bellatrix’ eyes on him, could see her biting her lip in anticipation. Something was wrong here, he thought, as he could literally feel the invisible traps being placed all around him. There was no way those two were here without his master’s knowledge and if one considered Bella’s impatient behaviour this most likely meant that he was in serious trouble. 

“I know Severus,” Narcissa said, staring at him with huge eyes. "But Draco is just a boy. There is no way he can kill a wizard, like Albus Dumbledore.”

“He wasn’t supposed to know this,” her sister hissed, staring at her sister with a reproachful look in her eyes. “The Dark Lord has honoured you and your family by giving Draco such an important task, can’t you see this Cissy?”

The blonde woman shook her head, her eyes never leaving his. “Please Severus, you must help him. Promise me you will do it, if Draco is not able to,” she said, her voice suddenly winning strength. 

“You want me to kill Albus Dumbledore, even though I’m not even supposed to know of Draco's task?”  he asked back, his eyebrow raised questioningly at the woman. “What makes you believe I will accept such a task, against the Dark Lord’s wishes I might add?”

“Draco is your godson, Severus,” Narcissa continued, staring at him like this was all the explanation he needed. It probably would have been, if he had any feelings for that boy. He looked at her with a stony expression on his face. He could see it clearly now, the way that was lying in front of him. This visit was nothing but a test, not by Bella or Narcissa, but probably by the Dark Lord himself. They expected him to accept the task, to kill the Headmaster, who was unbeknownst to them already dying from a curse that would slowly be eating him away. Dumbledore would want him to accept. He would prefer a clean and quick death instead of withering away by that blasted curse.  The action would cement Severus's position within Voldemort's ranks and ensure that the bastard would be brought down one day. Albus would have loved the plan.

A few weeks back Severus would not even have hesitated to do it, as he no longer cared about himself or anybody for that matter. But now… Suddenly he saw Miss Granger's eyes, beaming at him with gratefulness. He saw her cursed flesh, remembered the feeling of her skin and the smell of her hair.  He remembered their lively discussion and imagined that many more such encounters could follow in the future, given the chance. And suddenly he realized that he wanted this, whatever this was. With the strange connection between them he could finally have something like happiness in his life, maybe not love, but with a bit of luck, camaraderie or even friendship. Killing Dumbledore would take this all away from him, as there was no way she would not hate him afterwards. He realized that being hated by her would probably rip him apart, not only because her Magic would probably punish him for such a betrayal, but because he had somehow already gotten attached to the girl. When had that happened? 

 

Severus stared at the blond witch in front of him with a cold expression. "Draco might be my godson, Narcissa, but I will never betray my master, not even for him," he said, knowing that he would probably come to regret his words soon. But it did not matter, not when he was faced with the prospect of losing what he didn't even know he wanted until now. Merlin, help him!

“I told you, you were wasting your time, Cissy,” Bellatrix hissed and stared at him with small eyes. “I told you he is a traitor. Refusing to kill Dumbledore only showed what I knew all along: Severus Snape is a dirty little traitor - a traitor that has gotten himself attached to a dirty little mudblood once more.”

Severus felt his innards freeze, realizing that he had indeed made a grave mistake. 

“Yes, I have watched you, Severus, seen you visiting that little mudblood-whore,” Bella said, a gleeful smile on his face, while he started to circle him like the predator he was. “I’ve waited so long for this, I have watched you without finding proof for what you were. But I can’t say it wasn’t worth it, as I will enjoy killing that little slut before your eyes, before handing you over to the master.”

Severus saw her whipping out her wand, striking it in his direction like a snake attacking its victim. Time seemed to slow down for him, his brain still contemplating her promise while his body already started to react. He dodged Bellatrix's curse with a fluent motion, the bookshelf behind him erupting from the impact of the witch's Unforgivable. Killing her would have been the safest thing for him to do, as it would protect his secret and more importantly Hermione. But as soon as he spoke the first curse, Narcissa would turn against him as well and there was no way in hell of him killing an innocent woman. Severus Snape was not a killer, the Dark Lord hadn't made him one and neither would fucking Bellatrix Lestrange. 

Unfortunately for Bellatrix, Severus was a Slytherin at heart and he had long ago planned for things going south. With him being a spy in Voldemort’s ranks he had always considered the need for getting out at a moment’s notice and he had long ago prepared for that possibility. One word from his lips was enough to activate the portkey, he always wore in the form of an invisible bracelet around his wrist. He was whisked away a moment later, leaving behind a murderous Bellatrix Lestrange and her wide-eyed sister.

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus landed on the floor of the house, he had set up for himself a long time ago. He'd never planned to actually use it, to turn his back on the Dark Lord, because doing so was downright suicidal. It would only be a matter of minutes until the Dark Lord learned of his betrayal and that's when the hunt for him and his torture would begin. There was no defecting from the Dark Lord, no hiding, at least not for long. Karkarov had learned this the hard way. The Dark Mark ensured that his master always knew where he was, which would make it easy to find him, once he had been sufficiently tortured through his connection with the Dark Lord. When his former master called him through the Dark Mark, it had mostly been a short, unpleasant burning, but over the time he had learned that Voldemort could inflict as much pain as he wanted to. He had seen other Death Eaters wind themselves on the floor, begging for mercy, as they had only done under the Cruciatus, which did not bode well for his immediate future. Severus had to get rid of that damned Mark and soon, because he did not fancy such a fate. He had suffered his fair share of torture and I did not plan on bearing another round. 

But there was really no pretty way of doing so. A few years ago he had tried to develop a potion that could burn the Mark and the connected spell out of his body. But as quitting his role as a spy never had really been an option, he had never actually brewed the potion, just noted the recipe somewhere in one of his notebooks. Brewing it now would take too long, as he barely had any time left as it was. 

Severus cursed. He'd have to do something, now, and the only thing that would work and came into his mind was cutting off his left arm. Even though he could seal the wound and regrow his arm with a potion later this would hurt a lot . And brewing this potion would take time, probably weeks that he would have to live one-handed. Still, it didn't matter. Severus had withstood torture and he was sure he could take the pain and still cast the necessary healing spells afterwards. It wasn't like he had much of a choice anyway.

He took out his wand and weighed it in his right hand. There wasn't any reason for him to stall this, he thought. He could do this. And with a deep breath, he aimed his wand at his left arm, right below his shoulder.

 

Ssssssss

 

It was about an hour later when Severus dragged his sorry arse into Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts. His body was feeling numb from the amount of pain and healing potions he had drowned and he guessed he should regard himself lucky that he didn't splinch himself while apparating in his almost drunk state. But somehow he managed, probably due to years of experience, some of it gained while he could barely hold himself up from the pain the Dark Lord had inflicted on him during a meeting.

Dumbledore sat behind his desk when he stumbled into the man’s office, his blue eyes serious and somehow old. The man looked at him with a grave expression on his face and Severus could see his eyes travel towards the part of his body that was now lacking his left arm. 

“Do you have her?” the man asked, his voice sounding strangely hopeful. Still, Severus could not really contemplate what he was saying, probably due to his intoxicated state.

“Have her? Who are you talking about, Albus?” he found himself asking and saw the man’s face turn confused. Again he found the man’s scrutinizing gaze on himself, before he finally said:

“I’m talking about Miss Granger, of course. I hoped you might have felt something from her and gotten her out in time.”

"Gotten her out?" Severus found himself repeating, before his head started contemplating Albus's words. And then it dawned on him, that Bellatrix might have actually taken a detour before going back to her master. He looked at the man in horror. How could he have forgotten about the girl and Bellatrix's tread concerning Miss Granger?

“What happened?” he asked, his voice strangely hoarse, while he felt his intestines clench in fear. Dear gods have mercy, he prayed, awaiting the Headmaster's words. 

He could see the man's gaze turn pitiful. "About ten minutes ago I received the news that the Dark Mark was spotted in the sky above a muggle home," he said gravely. He didn't have to say any more. Severus knew that the house was Miss Granger's house as he knew that Bellatrix had been the one casting the Dark Mark. What else had she been casting? Was the girl even still alive? "The message has come directly from Tonks, so it can be trusted. It is Miss Granger's house. Nymphadora says it has been destroyed but there was no evidence of the elder Grangers or the girl, which is why I hoped you got them out in time.”

Severus stared at the man in front of him, while his legs threatened to buckle from the misery that slowly took hold of him. He’d done it again, he had mucked things up. If he had only told the girl they would have found a better way to keep contact, so that he wouldn’t have to fly to her home - repeatedly. Severus had been the one painting a target on her back before showing the mad Black-sister exactly where to find her prey. Merlin, he was going to be sick! If something happened to the girl, he was never going to forgive himself, or even look into the mirror again. Because his own face was the last he wanted to see right now. 

“Now, now, my boy. We won’t give up hope just yet,” Albus said, his voice soothing. Do sit down and tell me what happened to you. Maybe we can figure out what happened to your girl," he said and Severus didn't even feel like correcting the old man in his wording. Instead, he took a deep breath and told his story, Albus listening to him with calm, blue eyes. 





Chapter Text

This morning Draco had thought, his life could not get any shittier. That was before his mother and aunt Bella returned from their little excursion to his godfather’s house - an excursion that would probably cost all of them dearly. His mother explained to him what happened in hushed tones, while her sister had rushed into what had once been their ballroom to inform their master of their failure and, more importantly, Severus Snape’s betrayal. Draco could pinpoint the exact moment when the news was received as his master’s cold livid voice rang throughout the manor making the hairs on his arms stand up in alarm. A moment later a sharp burning of his Dark Mark signalled that he was called and with him probably every single Death Eater there was. It should not have been a surprise. Severus Snape had been one of the Dark Lord’s most trusted Death Eaters, a man whose loyalty had been almost a given. Losing him - or better realizing that it had all been an act - was something the Dark Lord would want to discuss and Draco didn’t mean in a nice way.

His legs felt heavy while he walked down towards the Throne Room, his meagre options presenting themselves before him with growing clarity. His task to get Albus fucking Dumbledore had just gotten even more impossible, not that it hadn't been difficult enough already. But now that his mother had gone blabbering about things she wasn’t even supposed to talk about - to a traitor nonetheless - Draco had another obstacle on his way. Severus Snape was aware of his task to kill the Headmaster and by now he had probably shared his knowledge with the man himself. If he had, it would be impossible for Draco to fulfil the task he had been given, as there was no way Albus Dumbledore would just stand by and watch him while he attempted to assassinate him - not that Draco had any experience in killing anybody, to begin with. He did not want to kill the Headmaster but Draco did not need to see the Dark Lord's livid face to fear for his family in case he turned his back on the Death Eaters or failed in his attempts. There would be no saving his mother and father from torture and death and the downfall of the Malfoy name would be an inevitable consequence. But if there was something Draco valued more than his own life, it was his family. He had to save his parents, no matter the costs. But how?

The key to this question was Severus Snape - the traitor, but also his godfather. His betrayal was both fortunate and unfortunate for him. If Draco attempted to kill Dumbledore, the man would be his worst nightmare and there was no way he could succeed. That left him with two options: Option A was to assess the man’s loyalty towards himself and his family. If there was any chance he could trust him, he could always seek out the man’s help. Because his godfather’s betrayal showed one thing: it was possible to betray the Dark Lord. Uncle Severus had done it for years after all. If there was someone understanding his situation and being able to help him out of this mess then it was Severus Snape. If Draco found he could not be trusted then there was always option B. Killing Dumbledore would not be possible for him as long as Snape had an eye on him. But maybe he did not have to, to save himself and his family from the Dark Lord’s wrath. Because there was another man Lord Voldemort wanted to see dead now quite desperately - Severus Snape. True, his chances for killing him weren’t much bigger than for killing Dumbledore but the man was his godfather and maybe still trusted him to a certain extent. And this was an advantage he could use - one way or the other.

When Draco finally entered the Throne Room most of the other Death Eaters were already assembled. His aunt Bella was lying at the Dark Lord’s feet shivering with what could be fear or delight - with her it was always difficult to tell. He took his place in the back of the room, right next to his father, who was only a shadow of his former self. Lucius Malfoy had once been a proud strong man but after disappointing his master in the Department of Mysteries his pride had been substituted by fear and submissiveness. Even though Draco was disgusted by his father’s sudden weakness he could understand as he had been there for most of his punishments. Draco kept seeing the images whenever he closed his eyes at night, kept hearing his screams and pleas whenever the room fell silent. Lord Voldemort had broken his father into pieces and no matter how thoroughly he was put together afterwards, the cuts and breaks would always stay visible for anybody watching closely enough. 

“It has recently come to my attention that there was a traitor amongst ussss,” the Dark Lord’s cold voice rang through the room and brought him back to his current miserable situation. “Severus Snape has not only decided to turn his back on us, but he was also found to have betrayed us for years, while secretly being Dumbledore's dirty little spy. Tell me, how was it possible for him to do so without anyone but Dear Bella suspecting a thing?"

He looked at them all, small red eyes digging into their heads looking for answers. None of his followers dared to reply, each of them being aware that there was no right answer to their lord’s question and so Lord Voldemort finally continued: “Is it maybe because Severus Snape was not the only traitor amongst us? Who else of you is serving another master, secretly betraying everything we stand for?”

Distrustful red eyes roamed the room looking for any sign of betrayal or weakness. Draco knew he had to appear strong even though he could clearly see the tremors that started to run through his father's hand. Still, his master's eyes came to rest on him a moment later.

“Draco,” the Dark Lord said, staring at him calculatingly. “It has been brought to my attention that your mother decided to ignore my orders and seek out the traitor to ask for his help. How did that come to pass? Is it possible that your own mother does not believe in your abilities? Tell me Draco, are you able to do what I asked of you?” 

There only was one possible answer for him here because the consequences of him negating the Dark Lord’s question were none he was willing to bring over his family. “Yes, my Lord,” he said, bowing his head respectfully. “My mother acted without my knowledge. She should not have worried as I already have a few ideas." He lied, keeping his eyes on the floor. “I will not disappoint you.”

“See that you don’t,” his master hissed. “Or you and your family will learn what it means to  disappoint Lord Voldemort.”

Draco nodded even though his innards turned to ice at the man’s words. Luckily the Dark Lord seemed to be finished with him as his eyes returned to the woman lying at his feet. 

"Now to you, Bella," he said, his voice suddenly sounding almost gentle. "You have done us a great service in exposing this dirty little traitor. As a reward, I give you the permission to hunt that dirty little Mudblood you told me about earlier. What was her name again?”

“Hermione Granger, Master.” His aunt said, much to Draco’s surprise. Hermione Granger? What had the mudblood done to gain his aunt’s interest?

“Ah, yes, Miss Granger. Do with her and her dirty Muggle-parents as you please, as long as they are dead afterwards."  The snake-faced man said, an evil smile on his lips. “Play with them as long as you want, my Dear. You deserve to be rewarded for your services.”

"Yes Master, thank you, Master," Bellatrix replied, her voice sounding almost aroused. For a moment Draco felt almost sorry for the girl. Her death would not be a quick one that was for sure. 

“Now to the rest of you,” the Dark Lord continued, his eyes travelling through the room. “I want that traitor, Severus Snape, dead. Whoever brings me his corpse will be greatly rewarded. Kill that bastard,” he hissed, his voice getting louder and more aggressive, “and bring me his remains. Whoever does so, will be granted a wish, any wish as long as it is in my abilities to fulfil it.” 

Draco looked around the room and saw several Death Eaters murmur in excitement. He was sure that more than one of them already made plans on how to kill Severus Snape. How much time did he have to make up his mind about his own plans? Would the man ever still be alive when the new school year started? Draco didn’t know which meant he would have to be ready to quickly adjust his plans. For now, he would start reading up on several things, most importantly Occlumency. Because whatever path he chose in the end, this would be the skill he would need most in the year that followed.

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus told the Headmaster about Bellatrix’s and Narcissa’s visit and relayed their conversation as carefully as possible to him. Dumbledore listened to his words silently and did not flinch or even comment when he told him of his decision to leave the Dark Lord’s ranks and therefore give up his position as Dumbledore’s spy. When Severus finally explained his decision to cut off his arm, Albus only nodded, his gaze understanding and yet disappointed. After the potions master finally finished his tale, he could hear the old man sigh and say: 

“I understand your decisions, Severus. You found yourself on a crossroad in your life, as you now have something to live and fight for. After you decided to end your service for the Dark Lord, you were suddenly under a lot of pressure and ridding yourself from the Dark Mark most likely saved your life and sanity. But still… More than ever I now wish you had told the girl about the link between the both of you. She will have felt your pain and will not even have had any idea what happened to her."

Severus stared at the Headmaster with wide eyes. The man was right! Merlin, how could he have forgotten that not long ago he had felt Miss Granger being cursed, that he had felt her pain as if it had been his own? The pain he had inflicted on himself had been so much worse and she had probably felt it all. It hadn’t even needed Bellatrix to torture the girl, as he had already done so himself. 

Severus looked at the Headmaster in desperation. “We have to find her, Albus. If she is still alive, we need to rescue her, get her back,” he said, fully aware how frantic he sounded. Severus did not care. He needed the man’s help and he needed it now

Albus looked at him with calm, blue eyes. “Listen into yourself, Severus, concentrate. You have a connection with the girl. If she is indeed alive, you should be able to tell. Maybe you can even find her..."

He looked at the man with a sigh and did as he was told. But it was of no use. His senses were blurred by all the potions he had taken, rendering him unable to feel… Well, anything. Or was it because the girl was no longer alive? He shook his head, fear gripping his insides once more. Had fate been so cruel to take Miss Granger from him before he even had the chance to get to know her?

“It is of no use, Albus. Right now I can hardly feel my limbs, let alone someone who’s most likely hundreds of miles away,” he said gloomily. “Is there nothing else we can do?”

At that, Albus Dumbledore looked at him with blue, reassuring eyes, before he nodded. “Don’t worry, my boy. If your Miss Granger is still alive, Fawkes will find her,” he said and called for his phoenix. The majestic creature appeared between them a moment later and listened attentively to the words the headmaster whispered into his ear. Finally, the bird nodded and disappeared in a ball of flames and smoke, Severus’ heart beating heavily as he waited for any news - preferably good ones. 

 

Fawkes reappeared in the office only minutes later. Severus watched him land on the Headmaster’s desk, standing proud and tall in front of the man, before he leaned his feathered head against the man’s forehead. Severus guessed that some sort of communication was going on, as he saw Albus close his eyes in concentration. It took all his willpower to remain seated instead of pacing the office, but doing so would have probably broken the man’s concentration. And that was the last thing he wanted. 

Finally, after what felt like ages, he saw the man look up, his eyes looking at him in a way that gave him hope. "It appears Miss Granger and her parents are alive. Apparently, the girl is in a Muggle hospital. There do not seem to be any visible wounds, but she appeared to be unconscious,” he explained and immediately Severus jumped to his feet, causing the phoenix to jump in surprise. 

“In a Muggle hospital, you say? Sweet Salazar, we have to get to her. Who knows what they will do to her? I've heard Muggle tend to cut people open…” Gruesome pictures appeared before his eyes and Severus found himself shudder in horror. He needed to get the girl out, safe her from whatever fate he had brought over her. 

“Now, now, Severus,” Albus soothed him and carefully got up from his chair. “I am sure Miss Granger is not about to go into surgery,” he said and smiled knowingly. Severus wanted to choke him, but that probably would not be advisable, as he still needed the man to get him where he wanted to be. And somehow that was Hermione Granger’s side. 

“That may be as it is, but we still need to get her out and into safety. They will keep looking for her and I am not going to lose her, too,” he urged the man and earned himself an inquiring look.

“So you admit it?” Albus asked him, a knowing smile on his lips.

“Admit what?” Severus asked, slowly losing his patience.

“That you care for her,” Dumbledore answered. Luckily the man did not expect his immediate answer, as his phoenix jumped from the table in this very moment and started to fly in front of them. His schoolmaster grabbed one of the bird’s legs and Severus hurried to do the same. Only a moment later they were gone, disappearing in a ball of fire and smoke.

 

Sssssss

 

It could have only been seconds until Severus and Professor Dumbledore appeared in a dimly lit hospital room, causing the elder Granger’s to jump from their chairs in surprise. Severus could not fault them, as it had most likely been the first time, somebody appeared in front of them out of thin air, travelling with a phoenix. 

“What the… Professor Snape?” Severus heard Dan Granger say, before the man rushed towards him, a confused expression on his face. 

“Mr Granger, Mrs Granger,” Severus greeted back, his eyes involuntarily travelling to the motionless girl on the bed. She looked pale but seemed to rest peacefully and Severus would feel relief, if she hadn’t been connected to several scary looking muggle devices, her mouth and nose covered by some sort of transparent mask. “The Headmaster and I were informed there was some sort of emergency concerning your daughter,” he stated and focused the girl’s father with a serious expression. “We came to see if we could be of any assistance.”

It wasn't a lie, he thought and from the corner of his eye, he already saw Dumbledore nod in confirmation. Good, at least the man was playing along.

Emma Granger nodded and looked at them full of wonder and relief. “Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape," she greeted them, stepping closer. "We are so glad you are here. Maybe you can help her. The doctors… they don't know what's wrong with her, you see? Hermione suddenly experienced terrible pain in her left arm… she’s been frantic. I’ve never seen her like that. We did not know how to contact you so we did the only thing that came into our mind: we called an ambulance.”

Severus nodded, guilt flooding him. All of this was his fault. “But why is shy unconscious then? Couldn’t they just give her something for the pain?” he heard himself ask, staring numbly at the silicon tube disappearing in Miss Granger’s arm. Those Muggles were barbaric.

This time it was Dan Granger answering him, his voice sounding grave: “They did, at first. But somehow it did not help. She just kept screaming and tossing, no matter what they gave her. So they finally knocked her out. They did brain scans, you know? The pain receptors in her brain are reacting like crazy, but physically there seems nothing wrong with her. We are at a loss.”

Severus wasn't. He knew exactly what had happened to her. If they woke her now, she probably wouldn't feel a thing, as he was drunk with potions and therefore without pain. But for some reason, he didn't think it would be advisable to tell the Grangers that bit of information. Instead, he said: "The Headmaster and I believe that this might be a magical issue. You see, your home has recently been under the attack of a wizarding terrorist group that has recently resurfaced. We believe that Miss Granger might have fallen victim to one of their curses.”

The Muggles stared at him with wide eyes. “She is cursed?” her mother said, while her father at the same time exclaimed: “We were under attack?”

Severus nodded. “As it looks calling the…” be searched his brain for the right word “ambulance and leaving your home might have saved your lives.” It was a big, fat lie, of course. But he remembered Miss Granger’s words well and he didn’t plan on them taking her from him. This simply wasn’t an option. 

The muggles looked at him with wide eyes, before Mrs Granger sagged on a chair, next to her daughter’s bed. “That is… what are we going to do now? Do we even have a home any longer?”

At that, the Headmaster moved forward and Severus silently prayed that the man would play along and not ruin the story, he had just sold them. Surely the man understood that they had to avoid causing a rift between those Muggles and the magical world, if they wanted the girl to stay in school?

“Your home can be easily restored with magic,” Albus Dumbledore said, his eyes looking at them with calm reassurance. "I will do so, as soon as Miss Granger is recovered and safe. I would advise moving her back to Hogwarts for the time being, as the castle has the strongest wards in wizarding Britain.”

Mr Granger looked at him with a doubtful expression on his face. “Do you think she might still be in danger?” he asked, looking back and forth between Severus and the Headmaster. 

“As far as I know those… terrorists aim their aggression towards non-magical people such as you,” Severus said, staring at the elder Grangers meaningfully. “But as long as we have not found out what has caused her such an amount of pain, we can not be sure. I would recommend relocating yourself to another country, until this unfortunate situation can be resolved. Miss Granger could always visit you using an international port key, while being able to finish her education at Hogwarts.”

Miss Granger’s parents looked at each other, a lost expression on their face. It was obvious that they were overburdened by the amount of new information and decisions they had to make. Albus seemed to have reached the same conclusion, as he said: "There is no need to decide anything right away. For the time being, I would like to invite you and your daughter to stay with us at the castle. It is usually inaccessible for non-magical people such as you, but as the Headmaster of the school it is within my rights to make exceptions."

The muggles looked at each other and even though Severus was pretty sure that they were incapable of mind-speech, some sort of conversation seemed to be going on between them, even though no words were exchanged. Finally, the woman sighed and said: "Alright, take us and Hermione to the castle then. Even though I am not sure how we can leave the hospital without causing a ruckus. It’s not like we could cause people to forget about us and Hermione’s strange condition.”

Severus’ heart was feeling much lighter already. He looked towards them with a grim smile and said: “Well, actually we can.”

 

 

Chapter Text

When Hermione awoke, she did not know where she was. The last thing she remembered was being rushed into the hospital, an excruciating pain in her arm threatening to eat her up. But this wasn’t a hospital room, she thought after opening her eyes, staring at the Gryffindor-red curtains of a richly decorated four-poster bed. This place somehow reminded her of Hogwarts, but this couldn’t be as she saw her parents sitting next to her bed, staring down at her with a worried expression on their faces.

“Mum? Dad?” she rasped out, her throat feeling dry and sore.

“Hello pumpkin,” her mum said, looking at her with a watery smile. “How are you feeling?

Hermione listened into herself and with relief, she realized that she wasn't in any sort of pain. But still... "I... I feel strange," she admitted, furrowing her brows, frustrated by her incapability to find a better word. It was like her brain was still somewhat foggy from all the medication, she had surely received in the last hours. "It's like I can't think properly and my arm now feels somehow numb."

"This might be due to the potions I gave you," a familiar but totally unexpected voice answered her, making her realize that her parents were not the only people in the room. Professor Snape loomed in a chair in the back of the room, while Headmaster Dumbledore was standing at the other side of her bed, looking at her with twinkling eyes and a kind smile. Somehow their presence only confused her even more. The Headmaster had never come to speak with her, not even after she had landed herself in the Infirmary, after her recent visit to the Department of Mysteries. Why was he here now, wherever here was? The questions kept piling up in her head, but Hermione felt too tired to even start to make sense of any of this.

“What happened to me, Sir?” she finally asked, seeking out the old man’s blue eyes in confusion. The Headmaster looked at her with a reassuring smile.

“Ah, you will find that this is a rather complicated matter that I am sure Professor Snape will be able to explain to you, while I am showing your parents their temporary quarters at Hogwarts. They were unwilling to leave your side, as long as they could not be totally sure that you are well.”

So they were at Hogwarts, Hermione thought foggily. She saw her dad nod at the Headmaster’s words, his face looking tired and drawn. Witnessing her being in so much pain must have been rather shocking and terrifying for both of her parents, maybe even more terrifying than for herself. 

“I already feel much better,” she assured her parents with a tiny smile on her face. “Professor Snape is brilliant with potions. He’ll have me up and healthy in no time. You’ll see.”

It wasn’t even a lie. Somehow she found that she trusted Professor Snape. If he was here and taking care of her, things were going to be alright, she thought.

Her mum looked at her with a little smile. “Alright, Pumpkin. If you’re sure we will go with Professor Dumbledore and get a bit of rest. The last hours have been a bit much, I admit.”

Hermione nodded. “Go ahead, I’ll be fine here. And who knows? Maybe I’ll soon be able to show you the castle?”

From behind she heard Professor Dumbledore chuckle. “I am sure this can be arranged, Miss Granger, but not today.” With that, he saw the man move towards the door and only then she caught a look at the man’s right hand. It was blackened and looked like it had been burned to a crisp. What had happened to him? He did not appear to be in pain, but Hermione was almost sure that this was the reason why he had recently been in need of Madam Pomphrey’s attention. She decided she’d ask Professor Snape or the Headmaster himself about it later. But right now, there were more important questions on her mind, questions she was desperate to get some answers for. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Miss Granger seemed… fine, for the most part. No matter how much pain she had been in, it had not broken her, as it had not broken him. Still, Severus was sure, that it had been the first time in her life, she experienced something comparable to torture and it pained him deeply to know, that he had been the one doing that to her, even if it had been unintended.  

Miss Granger silently watched her parents leave the room, before her gaze shifted towards him and she watched him stepping closer without saying a word. Somehow her silence unnerved him, as he had expected she would bombard him with questions right away. Instead, she seemed to wait until he started the conversation or did anything at all. But somehow he found himself at a loss for words. 

"I'm sure you have lots of questions," he said after clearing his throat and stepping closer, until he was standing right next to her bed. He saw her nod, but her facial expressions remained annoyingly hard to interpret. Then, suddenly the girl inclined her head, her caramel brown eyes staring right into his. She said: "For the start, I have just one. What happened to your arm, Professor?"

For a moment he felt like laughing, as she had picked the question he couldn't answer without answering the others first. But he'd have to tell her, wouldn't he? Severus looked at her with a sigh, before he found himself dragging a chair towards her bed and sitting down on it. Finally, he looked at her and said: "I quit my position as Dumbledore's Death Eater spy, because I was facing a rather impossible decision. My true allegiances are now known to the Dark Lord and you can imagine, that he is now trying to hunt me down. To make sure I couldn't be tracked or tortured through the Dark Mark, I had to remove it, rather quickly I might add."

She stared at him with an unnerving calmness. “What are you saying, Sir? To remove the Dark Mark you amputated your whole arm ?”

He nodded affirmatively. “I did. I plan to regrow it later, but therefore I’ll have to brew a special potion, which is rather difficult to do with only one arm,” he admitted with an ironic smile on his face. “Fortunately you do owe me several hours of work in the lab, which might solve this unfortunate situation.”

Miss Granger did not answer, just contemplated his words with a serious look on her face. He forced himself to wait for her to finish her assessment of his words, even though he found her silence rather unsettling. 

“And Professor Dumbledore? What happened to him?” she finally asked, her voice totally calm. Somehow he had expected her to at least comment on his decision, but she didn’t. 

“That is not for me to tell you,” he replied, which was the truth. Dumbledore was very private about his condition, as he hadn’t even told Madame Pomphrey of the severeness of his injury. Severus understood. If it had been him dying, he hadn’t wanted the others to be aware of the situation either.

Miss Granger nodded, even though she did not really seem happy about his answer. But she knew better than to press him and Severus was thankful for it. “Sir? Professor Dumbledore implied that you are aware of what is wrong with me. Would you tell me?”

He nodded seriously, carefully deciding how much to tell her. "It is a rather complicated matter," he said looking at her with a solemn expression. "I am still trying to find all the answers myself, which is rather difficult, I have to admit. But it is safe to say that there seems to be some sort of ...  connection between us. The Headmaster is convinced that it has to do with our magic being in tune, but unfortunately, such incidents are rather scarcely documented which has been rather unhelpful in researching this condition. It seems to be quite certain though, that you are able to feel the pain I experience and vice versa."

For a moment the girl seemed speechless and just stared at him with wide eyes. Again he forced himself to stay outwardly calm, even though his heart had started to beat agitatedly in his chest. He could only hope she would forgive him for having caused her such an amount of pain. 

“And the numbness I am feeling now? Is it a result of this… connection?” she asked, her face carefully studying his face. Why wasn’t she snapping at him, our shouting? She had to understand that he had been the one causing her this amount of pain. 

Severus nodded. "I am forced to take a rather large amount of potions right now, to keep myself functioning. I am afraid the numbness you are experiencing is a result of that. I apologize if that causes you any more inconvenience." Again, Miss Granger remained surprisingly calm and slowly Severus started to ask himself if that coolness was a result of the potions he had given her. It was possible, which meant that she would probably snap later. Still, he had to apologize for the pain he caused her, as she had suffered because of his idiocy. "I never intended to hurt you, Miss Granger, but the recent situation forced me to make some decisions rather quickly. I hoped I had handled the situation better, forgive me."

Her caramel brown eyes sought him out and for a moment she did not reply. But then her mouth turned into a shy smile and she said: “There is nothing to forgive, Professor. You were in an impossible situation, Sir, because of the work you did for the Order. All the pain I felt, you felt, too and maybe more. You did not hurt me on purpose, you did it because you had no other choice. I understand and I am thankful for everything you did for the Order. I never took your work for granted, Sir and I never got the chance to thank you properly for it. So, thank you, Sir.”

Severus stared at her in disbelief and as no fitting reply seemed to come to him, he simply acknowledged her words by nodding at her. It luckily seemed to be enough as she continued a moment later: “What about my parents, Sir? Why are they here? I somehow got the impression that Professor Dumbledore did not just invite them to be able to sit at my sickbed.”

He nodded gravely. "Indeed. As it appears your parent's house has been destroyed by a group of Death Eaters, while you were being treated in the muggle hospital. I believe the Headmaster promised to set the house back to its original condition, but for the time being, we encouraged them to stay at the castle."

It was the first time during their conversation, that the girl truly looked shocked and a moment later he could see her start to shiver. “I’ve almost lost them,” she mumbled, her eyes staring unseeingly at his chest. “And if they had died it would have been my fault.” She shook her head in disbelief.  “I swear, I had no idea they were already in so much danger. Merlin, what am I going to tell them? How am I going to explain?”

Severus had the strange impulse to comfort her, but he resisted by clasping his robe tightly with his remaining hand. This was not the time to lose control over his body and touch her. “Professor Dumbledore and I already talked to them. They understand that the appearance of this… terrorist group has been a recent development. We also informed them that it would be advisable for them to leave the country, as Muggles seem to be the main target of the Death Eaters, while we assured them that you would be perfectly safe behind the wards of the castle. They let us believe that they were considering this proposal, but I expect them to want to talk to you about the situation first.”

“I don’t know what to say, Sir,” Miss Granger said. Severus found that her eyes suddenly were full of gratitude and a warmth, that he had not expected to see during that conversation. “I have feared this conversation with my parents for years and now you just… thank you, Sir. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Her eyes shone with a sincerity that warmed his heart and before he could avoid it, a small smile spread on his lips. “Don’t thank me yet, girl,” he said and got to his feet. “You’ll have enough time for that once they decide to leave without you, if that is even what they will be deciding. For now, try to rest. Your body needs time to recover, as does mine."

It was the truth. Severus could slowly feel the effect of the potions lessen and he wanted to take a new dose, to prevent the girl from being committed to his pain again. 

Miss Granger nodded. “Good night, Sir,” she said, a soft smile on his lips. “And don’t worry. We will find a way to undo this strange connection between us. We can look into it, as soon as we are both recovered.”

He nodded, even though his innards turned to ice at her words. Severing that connection was the last thing he wanted, but of course, he could not tell her that.

 

Sssssssss

 

Severus had never been a big fan of Order meetings, but today he wished he could be anywhere else instead of the stuffed kitchen at Grimmauld Place, with several redheads and a bunch of other idiots gawking at him and his missing appendage. The noise in the kitchen was almost deafening, everyone around him speculating what might have happened to his arm. It was no wonder the Headmaster had to raise his voice, to finally make those idiots shut up.

"I've called you here, because there have been some unfortunate developments today," Albus said, and one by one the ten assembled Order members fell silent and looked at him with wide, anxious eyes. "First of all, Severus has faced a seemingly unbreachable obstacle that made him resign from his position as a spy and therefore leave Voldemort's inner circle of Death Eaters."

Those words were all it took, to let the room erupt in chaos again. Merlin! Those adults were worse than a bunch of Hogwarts students sometimes.

“You defected ! ?” Was exclaimed throughout the room in either incredulity or surprise.

Severus stared the lot of them down, his face an expressionless mask. He calmly waited until the first bouts of surprise had died down, before he explained in an almost bored tone: “I was recently presented with the task to kill the Headmaster, a task I found myself unwilling to agree to. Therefore I turned my back on the Dark Lord, with the unfortunate side effect of losing my arm in the decision to rid myself of the Dark Mark.”

"Wicked!" the terrible two exclaimed behind him, making him roll his eyes at their naiveté. Of course, they would think him saving his arse by cutting off his arm was a great prank against the Dark Lord or something equally stupid. Gryffindor idiots!

"Oh, Severus!" Molly exclaimed to his right and before he grasped her intention, the woman put her clammy hand on his shoulder, probably in the hope to comfort him. "You did the right thing, of course. None of us blames you for your decision and if there is anything we can do for you…"

"Want some extra hands in the potions lab Professor? Forge and I wouldn't mind," one of the twins said mischievously as some people snickered at their joke.

"How kind of you to offer Messers Weasley. I will gladly take you both up on your offers," Severus purred dangerously. He turned to Arthur. "You wouldn't mind ensuring your sons floo over to the school every day for the rest of the summer would you? I am sure making fun of someone who just cut off an arm to not have to kill the Headmaster is something you and your wife would never condone."

Fred and George had turned green by now as they saw the looks both of their parents were sending them. But Severus was not finished. “I might not really need your help with brewing potions , as the two of you were next to useless in class. But you do have quite a bit of experience with scrubbing cauldrons, a task I currently find myself unable to complete with just one arm.” 

They slowly seemed to realize that they may have screwed up. Good. He’d teach those idiots a lesson, a lesson that he was not to be joked about. Never again he would be the victim of humiliation, he’d had enough of that in his youth. 

“But we can’t!” one of the redheads, probably George, protested and stared at him with wide eyes. “We’ve got the shop to take care of now.” 

"You should have thought about that before you made fun of your poor Professor," Molly scolded them angrily. "He's risked his life for years and for that he deserves your recognition. Apologize to him, at once.”

“We’re sorry, Sir,” they chorussed, looking properly scolded. “We never meant to insult you.”

He looked at them with a raised brow, before he sighed. “You better not,” he growled, before he focussed his attention back on the gawking crowd. The Weasleys and Minerva had followed their exchange with unhidden interest, but now they seemed to remember the cause of this Order meeting and focussed back on Dumbledore. The man studied him for a moment and as he found that Severus did not want to say anything more he continued: “With Severus’s true allegiances exposed we have unfortunately lost our most important source of information concerning Voldemort and the ongoings of his Death Eaters. It will be one of our utmost goals to come up with an alternative strategy now, that we are unable to predict what his next moves in this war might be.”

Several Order members nodded, Moody, looking moodier than ever. "That's a heavy blow for us, Albus. We need to start recruiting again and we need another source of information or else it's only a matter of time until they hand us our arses…" he growled and Severus silently agreed. The whole situation was a mess, a mess that was basically his fault. But what would have been the alternative? They would have been even more pissed, if he had killed Albus, even though the man was already destined to die anyway. But that small piece of information the old goat of course kept to himself. Foolish old man, solely relying on him and his information until now! They should have started recruiting a year ago, when the Dark Lord stepped out of a god-damned cauldron . Had Albus really thought Severus would spy for him to the bitter end? Because the likeliness of him getting killed in his position as a spy in the course of the war, was staggeringly high. But maybe Albus hadn’t cared about that, because his death would have been for the “Greater Good” or something equally moronic.

“Unfortunately, my friends,” Dumbledore said, his voice raised as to get all of their attention, “those were not the only news I have for you. Earlier today, there has been a Death Eater attack in a Muggle neighborhood, affecting our dear Miss Granger and her parents.” Again, there were shouts of sorrow and disbelief, most of them coming from the Weasleys. Molly let out something like a wail whereas the twins suddenly looked ashen, probably realizing that this was a war and they had just signed up to be soldier s in it. 

“They got Hermione?” one of them said, staring at Dumbledore for confirmation. 

The old man shook his head with a grandfatherly smile. “Luckily, Miss Granger and her parents were not harmed in the attack. They are currently at Hogwarts, recovering from the shock and figuring out what to do.”

Again, there was murmuring, but this time it was much calmer than before. Still, Severus could tell that especially the newer Order members looked somewhat shaken. No wonder. None of them had been there during the last war. Towards the end, there had been at least one Death reported during each meeting, with their members dying or getting tortured into insanity left and right. He could only hope, that it would not be the same this time, because those idiots had no idea what they had signed up for. 

The meeting slowly wound down afterwards, as only minor topics were left to be discussed. He could tell, that Dumbledore would need some time to come up with an alternative to having Severus as a willing pawn and spy, and for a moment Severus felt sorry for having disappointed the old man. But then, he remembered Miss Granger, lying in this huge bed, white as a sheet. He had other priorities now, priorities Dumbledore would have to learn to respect. He would not let the old man ruin his life by letting himself be manipulated into doing something that he would come to regret later. Because Severus had done enough idiotic, self-sacrificing things to last him a lifetime.      

Half an hour later the meeting was over and even though most of the other Order members stayed behind for a short chat, Severus could not wait to get back to the castle. It had nothing to do with the fact that the girl was there, he usually steered clear of small-talk wherever he could. But today, he had no such luck.

“I wish Siri u s was still here,” Lupin said as he suddenly appeared in front of him. Severus looked at him with a scowl, but before he could reply something, the werewolf continued. “He’d owe me ten galleons, you know? The idiot always believed you were secretly a traitor and made me take a bet. Idiot. I knew you were on our side,” Lupin said, looking at him with a rueful expression. “I wish he’d been around to see that he was wrong about you.”

Severus looked at his former enemy with a cool expression. “Black was never very good in judging people’s loyalties, as him suggesting Pettigrew as a secret keeper for Lily showed.”

Lupin stared at him with a sad expression. “You’ve never forgiven him for that mistake, have you?” he asked and shook his head before Severus could reply. “Me neither.” With that, he offered him his hand. “If there’s anything I can do, Severus, let me know. I am forever in your debt, and not just because of the Wolfsbane you made for me. Not all of them might realize what it cost you to work as a spy for Dumbledore, but I do. And I’ll never forget it,” he swore, his eyes full of emotion. 

Severus's first instinct was to sneer at the man's sentimentality, but giving it a second thought he decided against it. Instead, he accepted the man's offered hand with a nod. "Indeed," he replied, shook the man's hand and stepped away. That was when his eyes fell on Fred and George Weasley, who stood in the back of the room discussing animatedly while inconspicuously looking in his direction. He carefully stepped closer.

"I tell you, Georgie, this will be a hit," one of them murmured with a crooked grin. "We'll call them Limb Limbos. There are enough people out there missing a limb. Imagine you could restore it for one day, only being left the surprise that you could also end up with a tentacle or a horse leg instead." The redhead snickered. "By chopping off his arm Snape probably set a new trend amongst the Death Eaters. I bet most of them did not even consider that option until now. But with the war continuing there could soon be a growing market for our Limb Limbos, don't you think?"

The both of them snickered and Severus felt his hackles rise. Those idiots. During the meeting, he had considered letting them get away with their idiocy but now he realized, that it was probably time to teach them a lesson - a lesson both of them would not forget anytime soon.

 

 

Chapter Text

After a long nap, Hermione could feel her world slowly set itself right. The pain she had experienced yesterday - or has it even been yesterday? - had been terrifying, but knowing that she had shared it with Professor Snape, as it had originally been his, helped her to at least comprehend what had happened to her. And with her growing understanding the fear that had gripped her slowly disappeared. So she was in some way magically connected to Professor Snape. This was odd, but since she had entered the magical world, Hermione had experienced even more extraordinary things, being petrified by a gigantic Basilisk roaming the castle was only one of them. In comparison, that particular experience being connected to a grumpy Potions Professor did not even unsettle her … much. Especially now, that he had openly broken with You Know Who and even amputated his arm to be rid of the madman, there was really no question about the man's allegiances, so there was really nothing to worry about, right? And it wasn't like Professor Snape wouldn't fervently search for a solution to their problem, because Hermione could imagine he wanted to be linked to her as little as she wanted to be magically linked to him. He would probably fervently look for a solution and Hermione was glad. Who wanted to be magically linked to another person, if that meant having to share their pain but nothing else. But had the Professor actually said that? Could it be that they also shared other feelings? Or magic? What if they did? Would the benefits maybe even be worth keeping that strange connection? Possibly, but Hermione guessed that depended very much on the costs. Maybe it would be worth asking Professor Dumbledore about it, as he obviously had been the one talking to Professor Snape about their condition.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 2 hours, 54 minutes, 55 seconds

Physical interaction : none

Observations: 

 

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. Luckily she took the news well, even though she voiced the wish to undo said connection. Lately, I find myself more and more unwilling to do so, as I have gotten used to the positive aspects of this strange condition.

If all goes well, her parents will leave her at the castle and as I am forced to seek refuge here too, for the time being. It will be much easier to expose myself to her here, without behaving suspiciously. Utilizing her for the purpose of brewing a restorative potion for my arm will only be one way of keeping in touch with her from now on.  

After departing the girl's room, I directly went to the library and checked out all the books only marginally relevant for researching our condition. This way I can assure that she only learns as much as I need her to. Too much knowledge about certain aspects would surely only unsettle her.

 

Severus stared at his notes with a sigh. He had tried to put the last hours down as rationally as possible, even though it got harder and harder for him to do so. Seeing the girl in this weakened and unconscious state had been… challenging for him, especially as he could not allow himself to show his concern. It would have been strangely out of character for him and considering what an old crooked- nosed fool Dumbledore was and that her parents were now around to watch them, he had to be very, very careful. First and foremost, he had to make sure the Headmaster kept his mouth shut. Severus knew the man's tendency to chatter only too well and it was only a matter of hours or days, until Miss Granger would seek him out in the hope to gain some more answers from him. Severus had to make sure the old fool did not scare her away with tales of white, love-based magic or equally terrifying stuff. Because this would be the most direct way to send the girl packing and leaving with her parents, only to realize that there would be no running from him, as fate seemed to have chained her to him. And he would prefer to spare the girl the heartbreak that realization brought with it. The girl was a teenager for Salazar's sake and being shackled to a man that could actually be her father was just… not what she probably wanted. Not that this whole mess meant that they would have to end up together… romantically speaking, as even maintaining a friendship would probably be challenging enough - and difficult for her to explain to her other friends.

 

Severus sighed. This whole situation was a mess. Still, he realized that the thought of seeing Miss Granger again made him almost happy, especially now that he would be able to talk to her again as the girl recovered and he would not be trapped in his animagus form. Depending on how she felt, they could maybe even start brewing his potion, which would mean that they would spend a significant amount of time together, doing the thing he loved most - brewing. And the thought alone of this happening soon made him almost giddy with anticipation.

 

Sssssssss

 

“So this is where you’re having breakfast every morning,” her mum said while staring speechlessly at the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall. Hermione was thrilled that she was well enough the next morning to eat her breakfast down there and not in the infirmary or her new private room, like she feared she would have to. She was joined not only by her mum and dad, but also Professor Snape, Hagrid, Madame Pomphrey, Mr Filch and even Professor Dumbledore. To her surprise, she felt completely fine the next day, as even the strange numbness she had felt before had vanished. Now, that her curse wound had properly healed, she felt better than she had in quite some time. As if that wasn't enough to make her feel happy, her parents were at Hogwarts, for a visit she'd never even allowed herself to dream of. Usually, the castle was protected against Muggles, even if they were a student's parents and she could not believe how lucky she was, for the Headmaster having made such an exception for them.

"You should see this place at Christmas or Halloween," Hermione gushed and from the corner of her eye, she could see the Headmaster smiling. "It's truly breathtaking. If Professor Dumbledore does not mind I would love to show you everything!"

Professor Dumbledore chuckled. "I'm sure there will be enough time for that, over the course of the next few days. Did you and Professor Snape already discuss the possibility of you helping him to prepare his potions?"

Hermione nodded, casting a quick look at her former potions Professor, who had been completely silent throughout the meal. “I agreed to help him, but we did not discuss the timeframe yet,” she answered, focussing back on Professor Dumbledore. “If it is alright with you, Sir, I would like to first talk to you though. Only if it isn’t too much of a bother, of course.”

The Headmaster looked at her with a kind smile. “On the contrary, Miss Granger. I find talking to such an intelligent student as yourself very refreshing. How about we have tea at my office around three?  This would leave you with enough time to show off Hogwarts' excellent library to your parents and still assist Professor Snape, should he ask for it."

Hermione nodded eagerly, but she did not miss the dark look that Professor Snape bestowed on the Headmaster. Somehow she had the feeling that the man was not happy, though she had no idea why. 

 

Ssssssssss

 

Professor Dumbledore's office was a small miracle of its own. Hermione was fascinated by the various devices that were scattered on almost every surface, ticking and wiring away and spiking her curiosity. She wondered what they were all for, as their function was sometimes hard to even guess. Maybe she had the chance to ask the Headmaster later, but for now, there were more pressing questions on her mind.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet me," Hermione said, carefully sitting down on the cushioned chair he offered her. There were already two steaming cups of tea on his desk, together with a plate of biscuits that looked positively sinful. And even though she would usually have been careful ingesting too much sugar, she had lost some pounds during the last weeks, which made her decide that she would make an exception in her diet today.

 

"It's really no bother, my Dear. I'm sure you have a lot of questions," Professor Dumbledore said, looking at her with twinkling blue eyes. "You are in quite a special situation, after all."

Hermione nodded. “Professor Snape explained that we are forced to share each other’s pain until we can find a way to undo this strange connection between us. He couldn’t tell me much though, as this seems to be a rather unexplored area of magic.”

The Professor looked at her with something like pity and Hermione imagined it was because of the pain she had recently experienced. She could still remember it, but somehow it already started to blur and shift to the very back of her mind. And Hermione was thankful for it. “Was that all Professor Snape said?” he asked, his eyes imploring. 

Hermione nodded shyly. "There were lots of other things we discussed yesterday, and I imagine he was rather tired or in pain. He didn't say anything, but I could feel something wasn't quite right."

The Headmaster nodded with a sigh. “I think you might be right with that assumption, Miss Granger. So what is it I can do for you?”

Hermione thought or a moment. There was especially one question, Professor Snape would not be able to give her the answer for. “Sir, I don’t mean to pry, but what happened to your arm? It looks really painful and to be frank: Madame Pomphrey seemed to be really worried about you.”

The Headmaster looked at her, his eyebrows raised in surprise. He had probably expected she would ask him after Professor Snape, but Hermione got the feeling that the man would not appreciate being talked about behind his back. 

"Well, I happened to have come to the conclusion that trying on a cursed ring would be a good idea. I thought I had broken the curse but obviously, I was wrong."

Hermione stared at him with wide eyes. A cursed ring? Merlin. "It does not look like the curse could be broken, Sir." She said hesitantly and at that, the Headmaster's eyes seemed to turn serious. For a moment he seemed to consider his answer, as his eyes studied her for a long while without him saying a word. But finally, he took a sip from his cup and said: "No, it, unfortunately, could not. Professor Snape did the best he could and trapped the curse within my hand, therefore its blackened state. Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before the curse spreads and therefore kills me. But Miss Granger, this information is not intended to leave this room."

She stared at the old man in shock, her head buzzing with the information he had just given her. Professor Dumbledore was going to die? How could he be so calm about this? Why wasn’t he looking for a cure or some other way out? “You are going to die, Sir?”

The old man nodded, a fatherly smile appearing on his face. "We all will, eventually. And believe me, when I say, I've lived a very long and full life."

 

Hermione listened to his words with disbelief and growing sadness. She did not know the Headmaster very well, but she doubted that she or Professor Snape had accepted that terrible fate without at least trying to fight back. And just when she thought about her Potions Professor, another thought occurred to her. "What if one decided to cut your arm off, Sir - I mean just theoretically. Would the curse remain trapped within your arm and therefore no longer be able to kill you?"

She saw the man's eyes regard her with a thoughtful expression, before his mouth suddenly twitched into a smile. "Well, it appears, sometimes it takes an extraordinary young mind to come up with the most simple and still effective solutions, Miss Granger. It is of course not sure if it would work, but as it appears you and Professor Snape are going to brew a potion to restore an arm anyway. Maybe you should make it a double batch."

 

Somehow Hermione had not expected this answer, but she was thrilled that thanks to her idea there maybe still was hope for the old, kind Headmaster. “I’m sure we can do that, Sir,” she replied eagerly, which caused the Professor to smile even wider. “Shall I go and see Professor Snape right away?”

Albus Dumbledore chuckled. “I suggest you take your parents for a long walk around the Black Lake, Miss Granger, while I will talk to Professor Snape. I am sure he will be happy to meet you after dinner.”

 

Hermione nodded. “Of course, Sir. Tell me if there is something else I can help you with,” she said, before getting up from her chair. She realized that she hadn’t even touched the biscuits, even though she had very much planned to do so. 

"Shouldn't it be the other way around, Miss Granger?" Professor Dumbledore asked her, his eyes twinkling. "Usually it is the Professor's job to take care of the students. But I see that with you, it can also be the other way around."

He smiled and Hermione nodded. Somehow she had the impression that he was not only referring to himself, even though she had no idea who else he could mean. But it did not matter, because Professor Dumbledore was right: she really liked taking care of others.

Still, there was one problem, she would indeed need the Professor's help with. "Sir? Have you already been to my parent's house? Because, my cat, Crookshanks, is still missing."

 

Professor Dumbledore looked at her with twinkling, blue eyes. “I see. I will send somebody over to your house and see if your furry friend can be found. Is there anything else?”

Hermione shook her head. “No, Sir. And thank you for doing this. I really hope Crooks is alright.”

At that, the Headmaster smiled. “Don’t worry, Miss Granger. I will send my best man to get him for you.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Sir. And have a good day.” The Headmaster saw her off with a grandfatherly smile and a twinkle in his eyes. She could already feel herself relax, knowing that Professor Dumbledore would take care of Crookshanks. Because the prospect of not seeing her beloved cat again, filled her with sorrow. But no, if Crooks was still alive, they would find him and bring him back to her - they had to.

   

Ssssssss

 

Albus Dumbledore stared at the leaving girl in contemplative silence. Miss Granger was unlike every other student he had met at Hogwarts and somehow he found himself fascinated by the girl's strong morale and kindness. He had met many intelligent students, Tom Riddle and Severus Snape were only two of them. But Hermione Granger united some character traits that made her unique: intelligence, loyalty, kindness and cunning. She could have fit easily into each of Hogwarts' houses, even though Slytherin might not have welcomed her with open arms due to the fact that she was Muggleborn. But to him, being a muggle-born witch made her even more extraordinary, as it gave her a completely different perspective and mindset. When she had proposed to simply cut his arm off, it had happened in total innocence, unknowing that proposing to cut a wizard's wand arm off, was highly offensive in the magical world. Most wizards would be rendered helpless through it and would have outrightly refused such treatment.

Albus sighed. It was a risk to follow her suggestion, as there was a good chance they would not be able to regrow an arm, after having suffered such a fatal curse. But even if he could never regain the lost limb, he would still be very much alive. Considering that he still had to find an unknown number of Tom's Horcruxes, that was more than he could have hoped for only a day ago.

But that wasn't what actually blew his mind. He had been mulling over Severus' and Miss Granger's connection for a while now, and he had to admit, that when Severus' told him of it, he had been surprised. Being able to establish such a connection to a kindred magical being was extraordinary, not only because there was rarely such a being even close enough to you, but also because it needed two pure souls to do so. Albus had always known that Severus was a good person, deep down, but he had been a Death Eater for years now, and such a life usually left marks on anybody's soul. Albus had made the experience himself on the fateful day his sister died and his world fell apart. He, too, had done terrible things, things he had been trying to set right for years now. He couldn't though and the realization of it had almost broken him apart and made him discard this idea of anyone being pure enough to perform any kind of white magic. Then there had been Lily Potter, saving her son by sacrificing herself in an act of untainted love. She had done what Albus had thought impossible, and once again his world had been turned upside down. And now there were those two… Severus Snape and Hermione Granger. He had no problems believing the girl to be innocent enough to establish such an extraordinary bond to another magical being. She had championed the innocent and helpless more than once during the last years, her attempt at freeing the house-elves only being one of the things she did. But Severus? The man had studied Dark Magic for Merlin's sake! He had played a double game for years, had been tortured and had probably tortured himself. Albus did not know for sure, of course, as he never thought it fit to ask. So how could the man's soul still be pure enough to be receptive to the call of miss Granger's magic? Albus had doubted his conclusion for a while. He had even searched for another explanation for Severus' and Miss Granger's strange condition, only to realize that there wasn't one. And then, yesterday, he saw the man do the first Gryffindor-like thing ever, a thing he had deemed impossible for Severus Snape. He had turned away from his master, knowing that he had probably just signed his death warrant. How could he begrudge Severus finally making a clean cut and turning away from his dark past, when it finally proved what Albus had hoped for him so long: there was still the chance for something good and pure in the boy's life? It was not too late to save Severus Snape. It had only needed the right person for him to realize, that there was more to life than self-preservation and survival.

Why had it taken an innocent Gryffindor girl for Albus to realize that Severus Snape could actually be saved, that he could be the light, they so desperately needed in the times ahead of them? He had almost let the man walk down the darkest path and asked Severus to kill him, when the time came - everything to strengthen the man's position as a spy. Albus had been just about to ask him, when the man stumbled in his office the morning after he had put that damned Horcrux on his finger. But then Severus had told him about his connection to the girl and it had been enough for him to pause and rethink his decision. Now he thanked Merlin that he did. There would have been no turning back once Severus had committed that particular crime, a crime which Albus had thought would no longer ever register with the man's soul. How wrong he had been! Well, Albus guessed, sometimes he, too, was an ignorant fool that needed somebody to point him into the right direction. Now he only needed to do the same for his stubborn Potions Master.

 

 

Chapter Text

“I never took you for a coward, Severus,” the Headmaster said looking at him in mild disappointment. “I hoped you had finally decided to no longer keep secrets from Miss Granger, as we just saw what damage keeping secrets can cause. But no. I see you can’t help it to keep your cards close to your chest.”

 

Severus looked at the man with a scowl. “Wh at do you expect me to do Albus? Tell the girl that she's my destined soulmate? That she will start feeling unwell if she decides not to constantly seek out my presence? How well do you think that would go down with her? What about her parents? I am nearly two decades older than her and she is underage. Its pedophilia Albus! ” he growled, leaping from the man’s cushioned chair and pacing in front of his desk. “She already wants to undo the connection as it is. Not that she could, mind you.”

 

Albus looked at him with a shake of his head. “This might be due to her not having all the facts. She thinks the only thing you share is pain. Of course she would not want that. This is why you finally need to talk to her, my boy. And if you do, try to be honest about your feelings.” He said reasonably while completely ignoring the underage problem. 

 

The words were enough for him to choke. “My feelings? My feelings ? I don’t have feelings, least of all for Miss Granger. Merlin Albus, have you finally lost your marbles? The girl is my student . I have no feelings for her, none whatsoever.” He stared at the meddlesome man defiantly. But Dumbledore did not seem overly impressed with him.

 

“Really Severus? Or is this just what you are telling yourself? Because I certainly think you do," he said and looked at him over the rim of his half-moon - glasses. "I think you decided not to feel, as there was only pain and misery in your life for years. Don't think I'm not aware of that, my boy." The Headmaster's gaze did not waver, but Severus could have sworn that it softened a bit. "But now there suddenly is something else and even though your mind keeps denying it, your heart knows. You do feel Severus, and there is nothing wrong with that. Miss Granger will be an adult soon enough but even then, no one asks you to bed her if you feel uncomfortable doing so. You could, however, try to establish some sort of friendship or companionship with the girl. I can see her appreciating a skilled mentor or even a reliable, mature friend." The old man had even the audacity to twinkle at him. It took all of Severus's willpower not to snap at him. The nerve of that man! 

 

“A mentor, Albus. How well do you think that will go down with the Slytherins?” he asked, but then he suddenly remembered that most of them had probably already heard that he had defected the Dark Lord. That next year would be a nightmare!

 

“You will no longer be Head of the House Slytherin,” Albus said as if he had read his thoughts. But Severus guessed he didn't need to, as his recent decisions had put him and the Headmaster in quite a difficult position. Still, Albus had not scolded him for it once. Why? 

“As you are aware, I will try to persuade Horace to come back to us.” Dumbledore continued. ”He will not only fill your position as Potions Professor, but he can also take over House Slytherin from you. You will take over the position as Professor for Defense against the Dark Arts and there’s another side project I would like to talk to you about - well, two actually.”

 

At that, he saw Albus’ features turn into a smile, which made him suddenly feel nervous. What would the man be expecting from him now, that he had disappointed him by giving up his position as a spy? “Side projects? What kind of side projects?”

 

“Well, the first one was actually inspired by your Miss Granger, Severus. She proposed a way to actually get rid of that unruly curse that has befallen my arm. She really is a clever girl, you know?” 

 

Again, there was that blasted twinkle in the man’s blue eyes. He tried not to let it get to him. “What did my clever Miss Granger suggest then?” he asked, while making his voice sound as mocking as possible even if his insides became warm at his voicing of her being his.

 

Albus looked at him with a smile. “How do you feel about cutting off my wand arm Severus?”

 

Severus's jaw dropped. He couldn't be serious!

 

 

sssssssss

 

When Hermione knocked at Professor Snape’s office door after dinner, she could not help but feel nervous. The man had not been at dinner in the Great Hall, and neither had been the Headmaster. Had they already talked about her suggestion or maybe even put it into practice? When suggesting it to Professor Dumbledore earlier, she had thought it a good idea to get rid of his cursed arm, especially if that curse was slowly killing him, as he said. But would it even work? What if part of the curse still remained in his body and killed him anyway? Or what if the missing arm could not be regrown? After all, they did not know if Professor Snape’s potion ever worked or if she was skilled enough to brew it, with Professor Snape only watching and instructing her?

 

She stared at the office door in dismay and before she could finally convince herself to knock, the door opened on its own, revealing a tired-looking Professor Snape. “How long did you intend standing there, staring at my door?” he asked, his face lacking any form of emotion. 

 

Hermione looked at him in embarrassment and mortification . “I was just about to knock,” she mumbled. “I just wanted to finish my train of thought first.” She said lamely.

 

"You can finish it inside," the man said and stepped aside, making room for her to enter. Hermione could not remember having been to Professor Snape’s office before. It wasn't very comfortable, if she was honest, as most of the shelves were filled with potion ingredients, most of them looking rather unappealing. The middle of the office was taken up by a large desk though, that was covered in various papers, quills and scrolls. Somehow the chaos there surprised her, as she could have sworn that the Professor would have everything neatly organized. But she guessed, she didn't know him very well, not even after reading through his potions book - twice. There was so much she still did not know about him and Hermione realized that she wanted to change that. She just did not know how, without being disrespectful . Right now there was a more pressing question on her mind though.

“Sir? Did you… is Professor Dumbledore alright?" she asked, stopping in the middle of the room and staring at the man in hesitation. He did not answer her right away and instead calmly walked towards his desk. He sat down on his chair, his hand resting in front of his chin as he said: 

“Are you asking if the Headmaster could already convince me to chop off his arm?” He smiled darkly, but at the same time, he looked at her with furrowed brows.

Hermione nodded and saw the Professor sigh tiredly in response.

“Miss Granger,” he said and for a moment it seemed like he was struggling for patience. “Suggesting such a thing to the Headmaster or actually to anybody, is considered an extremely rude thing. I know you are nor aware of it, which is why I am explaining this to you now. Cutting off somebody’s wand arm is considered a crime in the wizarding world, as it usually renders the person in question totally helpless. Doing such a thing is considered a taboo.”

She stared at the man with wide eyes. “I… wasn’t aware of that, Sir. Do you think I should apologize to Professor Dumbledore?”

At that, Professor Snape shook his head. “No. But you should probably avoid telling anybody else of your … unconventional suggestion. Professor Dumbledore is aware of your… heritage and your obliviousness of certain wizarding customs. He does not hold it against you. In fact, he was quite taken by the idea and asked me to perform the amputation of his cursed appendage right away."

 

Hermione looked at the Professor with a hopeful smile. “He did? And is he alright?” She said trying to crush the overwhelming embarrassment she felt at not knowing about the "taboo" she committed. 

 

“Indeed. And he seemed most pleased by the result.”

 

“Was he really?” Hermione asked, unable to hide her relief. “I’m glad. Now we just need to brew those potions to help you and the Headmaster to recover. Shall we start right away?”

 

“In a moment,” Professor Snape said and walked to a door to his right. Hermione did not know what was behind, but as the man opened it a moment later, an excited, orange fur ball dashed in her direction, leaping in her arms with an excited meow.

“Crooks!” she shouted, cradling her faithful companion against her chest. “I’ve been so worried about you!”

 

Her cat answered by licking her hand, before rubbing her head against her chest. Hermione enjoyed his affection for a moment, but then she got aware of Professor Snape’s gaze lingered on her. Reluctantly she let her companion go and Crookshanks leapt out of her arms, climbing on the Professor’s desk instead. Hermione was almost sure the man would shoo him away, but she was mistaken. 

 

“I found him in the neighbourhood of your home,” t he Professor explained, looking at the scene, his face bare of emotions. For a moment she seemed to consider his reaction, but finally, he nodded with a sigh. "I believe we should start with our first brewing session. It will take some experimenting to make the potion work properly and I would prefer to have that arm back, before the new term starts. Follow me into the lab. You can pick up your cat later.” 

 

Hermione nodded eagerly. She couldn't wait for them to start, and as it looked Crookshanks seemed to be quite happy, where he was.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 2 hours 23 minutes 40 seconds

 

Physical contact: none

 

Observations: 

 

The subject shows sufficient skills in potion making, which will make her useful enough to complete the potion I need to recover. Luckily she can mostly keep her mouth shut while brewing and refrains from asking questions at every chance, like she usually tends to do. It makes her presence in my personal lab much more tolerable.

 

My missing appendage keeps bothering me and I hope to regrow it soon. I still have problems comprehending, how the stupid girl talked the Headmaster into deciding to simply let me cut off his wand arm. We can only hope that we manage to regrow it, before the new term starts. As soon as the Dark Lord hears of the man's helplessness, he will not hesitate to try assassinating the man. But the little Know-It-All, of course, did not consider that particular outcome, as she tends to be way too naive in her thinking. I hoped her little stunt at the Ministry taught her a lesson, but she, unfortunately, seems to be rather incorrigible.  

 

Severus read through his notes with furrowed brows. Working together with the girl had been… challenging and it wasn't because he found her incapable, or even overly chatty. Ever since she was back to Hogwarts, her behaviour towards him had changed. She had always treated him politely but now it was like she constantly smiled at him and genuinely cared about his opinion of her. But that also wasn't the problem. The girl's presence in his private lab had been most distracting for him. As he stood close behind her to watch her moves, he could suddenly smell the scent of her hair products mixed with something that had to be her . It took all his willpower to not walk closer and sniff her out like some wild animal would probably do. But oh did he want to, wanted to bury his nose in her hair and put his arms around her small body from behind, pulling her close to never let her go. He did not know where those thoughts suddenly came from, but they were unmistakably there and no matter how much he raised his Occlumency shields, they simply would not leave him again.

 

Fuck! When she came to his office earlier he had considered telling her the truth about their connection, or at least let her know that there was a need for them to see each other more frequently than the both of them liked. But how was he supposed to explain why she had not been unwell during the days she spent with her parents? The girl did not know he had regularly visited her in his Animagus form and it wasn’t that he could just admit it now, could he? And so he had not said anything, even though Albus had strongly advised him to finally spill the beans. But he could not do it, not when he risked driving the girl away by doing so. He knew it was probably a big mistake, as the truth would come out eventually. But maybe the girl had come to like him until his secret was revealed and would not consider leaving him behind. If she just got to know him a bit better, maybe after working in the lab with him for a while, she would hopefully be able to understand his reasoning. As it appeared they needed each other and he did not mean those disgusting thoughts that had started tormenting him a few hours ago. Severus would get them under control. He had not been interested in a woman for almost twenty years now and he would be damned, if he suddenly succumbed to that weakness now. His life was already complicated enough as it was.

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione finally sunk to her bed she felt tired but happy. Ever since she had woken up from her artificially induced sleep, things had been pretty exciting. Having her parents at Hogwarts was great. It had always been one of her dreams to finally be able to show them everything here, and hopefully, it would make them understand why the wizarding world was so important to her. Especially considering the recent attack on their home, her parents would make a decision soon. Hermione could see them leaving Britain behind, as they had many international contacts and friends all over the globe. But would they agree to let her stay at the castle? Hermione hoped so. Showing them everything definitely would make it easier for her to explain to them why she wanted , no needed, to stay behind. Luckily Professor Snape and Headmaster Dumbledore seemed to support this idea, at least when she was going by the bits that Professor Snape had told her. 

 

Hermione had already shown her parents the library and even her father, who has visited many international libraries before, had been impressed by its size. Afterwards, they had been to the greenhouses and even though Professor Sprout was not around to give them a tour, Hermione knew the place pretty well after years of Herbology classes. She had been able to lead her parents to the plants that were sa f e enough to watch. Her mum had loved the place from the beginning, her interest in Botany making her want to stay until they had almost missed dinner. Hermione promised her they could come back another day, knowing that they might be here frequently from now on. Maybe she could even convince Professor Snape to join them, as his knowledge on plants was most likely very impressive as a Potions Master.

 

Professor Snape… the man continued to be a mystery to her. Working under his watchful eye had been surprisingly hard, as she wasn’t used to him breathing down her neck. He had not scolded her once, only interrupted her when she was about to do something stupid before carefully instructing her how to do better. Still, she had been nervous throughout the whole brewing session. Her skin had tingled all over, while she had been aware of his every move, which was ridiculous, as the man almost hadn't moved at all. She guessed it was because she did not want to disappoint him, at least she hoped it was. But after having had a stupid crush on Professor Lockard and after him Professor Lupin, she wasn't entirely sure. She had admired both m e n before her feelings had grown into something… more. Merlin, she only hoped this would not happen with Professor Snape too, especially if she was going to spend a big chunk of her next weeks with him in his lab - alone. Doing so would provide a multitude of chances for her thoughts to run wild, but with him being a Legillimens ... holy Gryffindor! No, she could not let it come to that, as the man would probably throw her out as soon as he learned about her stupid teenage crush. Unfortunately, it did not help that he was much nicer towards her now, or that he had given her his old potions book. Whenever she opened it now, she could see a young version of Severus Snape before her inner eye, hunched over his desk, scribbling enthusiastically. She had not been able to resist looking him up in the Hogwarts yearbook when she visited the library earlier. At that chance, she had learned that Severus Tobias Snape was indeed a half-blood like his old potions book had suggested. But now the picture of the broody-looking young man haunted her whenever she closed her eyes. He had already worn his hair long back then and his features had not changed much over the years , if anything they had gotten better . He had never been classically handsome, Hermione thought, but then she realized that she did not care about that one bit. The man was definitely not ugly and he wasn’t plain either. His dark, mysterious aura, his dark eyes and his long hair had something that fascinated her - or better would have fascinated her if she had been interested in boys right now - which she wasn't. Hermione groaned. Oh, whom was she kidding right now? Of course, she was interested in him, in a way she definitely shouldn't. The man was her Professor and he had already refused to behave improperly by only staying alone in her room with her. What would he say when he found out about this stupid teenage crush? Hermione could not see him reacting too kindly towards her, which meant that he would probably at least cancel their brewing session, or heaven forbid, talk to her parents! She could not let this happen, any of that, which meant she had to get over those blasted feelings and fast! The question was how?

 

ssssssss

 

"What are you doing here, Miss Granger?" he heard himself ask, staring at the girl's petite body that was only clad in a silky nightshirt. It was the middle of the night and he was already about to get ready for bed, his black outer robe already resting in his wardrobe for the next day. But then a strange feeling had pulled him towards his door and there she was: Hermione Granger, clad in a thin white nightshirt, shivering in the coldness of the castle walls.

"I don't know, Sir," she replied, her brown eyes huge as they looked up at him. She should not be here, not at this hour and definitely not in this state of undress and yet there s he was. “It was like I was somehow pulled towards you, like I somehow needed to be here. Does that make sense?” 

Of course it did, considering their strange connection, only that the girl wasn't aware of that. Merlin, he should send her back to her room or at least escort her back, but he too found that he did not seem to have a will o f his own. “It does,” he said, his voice deep and mysterious. “But this is not the right place for an explanation and you’re cold.”

Miss Granger nodded, her lower lip trembling. Somehow his eyes could focus on nothing else but that pink, glistening lip for a moment, and it took all his willpower to turn around and lead the girl inside, into his private quarters. There, the rooms were still warm, as he let the fire in the fireplace burn all night. She did not hesitate, but followed him inside, her bare feet making almost no sound on the cold stone floor.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” he heard himself say, offering her a place on the huge leather sofa, before he carefully sat down next to her. “What if somebody saw you?”

 

Miss Granger shook her head, her lower lip caught by her teeth. “I was very careful, Sir. And I just… I needed to be here, I can’t explain why.”

 

“There’s no need to explain anything to me,” he said, and somehow his hand found its way to her face, carefully cradling her cheek, while his thumb touched her lips. “I understand the need to … be close.”

 

Her eyes went wide. “You do?”

 

"I do." No more words were needed, as his lips found their way towards hers a moment later. It was like none of them could help it, their shared urge to feel each other silencing all rational thoughts. For now, there were only her lips and the soft moans and whimpers that escaped them now. His hands found their way below her nightshirt stroking her tight breasts with nimble fingers. The sensation was enough to make her shiver and press herself stronger against him. He found himself kissing her even harder at her actions. She was so receptive and not shy at all, like he had expected!

 

Only moments later the girl whimpered below him, her body no longer sitting but lying on the sofa. Severus covered her almost from head to toe, her body trembling with need below him.

“Please Sir, I need you closer,” she whimpered, her pupils blown wide. “I need you inside me…”

 

That was when Severus woke up, his body bolting upright in his bed. It was only a dream , he realized, even though his traitorous body was pretty much convinced that it wasn’t. It was like he could still feel the girl’s lips on him, her hard nubs below his fingers as he rubbed them making her gasp with pleasure. But no, Miss Granger had never been here. She had never even seen his rooms, let alone asked him to… Merlin’s hairy buttocks! How could his traitorous mind come up with such an absurd fantasy? Now that he thought about it, his dream could have sprung from one of the cheap, nauseating novellas his mum used to read and hide under one loose floorboard in the kitchen. He didn't know, but no matter how absurd that dream had been, his body did not care. His throbbing member demanded its release and ached for the witch from his dream to finish the job. But no, he would not touch himself thinking about this particular student. He was not this kind of man. But Merlin, he wanted to, because he knew that in this state it would be impossible for him to fall asleep anytime soon. 










Chapter Text

“Are you alright, love?” her mum asked her over breakfast the next day. “You look like you’re going to fall asleep on your toast any moment.”

 

She probably was, Hermione realized. There was no reason denying that. Last night had been… sleepless, at least after she had awoken from a pretty confusing dream, one containing her, Professor Snape and some pretty hot kisses on his sofa. Luckily Crooks had woken her up before things went too far and for a moment she could not say if she was glad for her pet's intervention or not. Falling asleep afterwards was… hard, as her thoughts kept returning to her mysterious Professor whenever she closed her eyes. Her mind started replaying scenes from her dream and more than once she found her hands creeping under her bed cover towards her pyjama pants. At first, she had wanted to resist, but after more than one hour of fighting, she had finally given in and touched herself. It hadn't taken her long afterwards, not when she felt like she could still feel his hands on her skin, which was ridiculous of course. Professor Snape would never touch her in such an inappropriate way, but last night she fantasized he did. Now, at the light of the morning, she felt ashamed of herself and could barely look at him, not even when she felt his eyes resting on her from time to time. She could only pray that there would never be the need for him to teach her Occlumency, otherwise she was screwed.

 

"I had some problems falling asleep," she finally admitted, looking at her parents with a tired smile. "So much has recently happened, and I can't help but worry about what we're going to do." It wasn't a lie per se, because she really was worried. 

 

Her mum nodded understandingly. "We'll talk about it later, my Dear," she said, petting her hand affectionately. "Professor Dumbledore wanted to discuss some things with us after breakfast, but maybe later we could go down to the Black Lake and have a picnic, what do you think?"

 

"Sounds lovely mum," Hermione mumbled and she meant it. She'd never had a picnic at the lakeshore, but suddenly she found that she was eager to change that and make some nice memories with her parents. Who knew what the future would have in store for them, with You-Know-Who on the rise? There was no saying when they would be able to see each other again after th is summer, or if they would even all be alive at the end of the war. And what if they never managed to bring that maniac down? 

 

Hermione saw her mum cast her a happy smile. "I'm sure there will be enough time for us to talk," she said and winked. "And who knows? Maybe we can even put on our bikinis and have a long swim in the lake..."

 

For a moment Hermione thought, she heard Professor Snape choke at those words. But as he seemed totally unfazed when she looked at him a moment later. It had probably just been her imagination.

 

sssssssss

 

"Where is she? Where's Mione?" an only too well-known voice rang through the Great Hall, making Dumbledore and the other staff members look up in surprise. Severus didn't need to look up as it was fairly obvious that the intruder was the second youngest Weasley spawn, obviously hoping to find his bushy-haired friend.

 

“Mr Weasley,” Severus heard the Headmaster say, his tone showing mild amusement. “I’m afraid Miss Granger is not eating lunch with us today. I believe you will find her and her parents down by the Black Lake, enjoying the sun and the water.”

 

“Does that mean our Hermione is alright? We were all so worried about her,” another voice said, this time a female one. So Molly had decided to bring the boy here, disturbing whatever little bit of peace Severus had found at the castle. Not that his thoughts had been very peaceful today, knowing that the girl was prancing around the lakeshore in a bikini for everybody to see. 

 

"Miss Granger is well Molly, don't worry," Albus soothed the woman and from the corner of his eye, Severus saw the man patting the chair to his right, inviting her to sit down. "Why don't you sit down with us and have lunch? I am sure young Ronald will easily be able to find his friend on his own."

 

"Don't worry mum," the brat replied casually. "I'll find her and ask, if she and her parents want to stay with us until the Order managed to rebuild their house," the boy said and a moment later Severus heard him running out of the room, not even bothering to say his goodbyes to any of them.

 

Severus looked at his plate with a moody scowl before stabbing one of the potatoes with his fork, imagining he was hurting that red-haired pest instead. Dumbledore could not permit the girl and her parents to leave the castle now, not when they had just started to work on their potions. Their recovery was of utmost importance now, and it wasn't like the Weasleys had enough space at their hovel for three more people anyway. No, Miss Granger would stay, she had to, even if the girl herself wasn't aware of that because he still had not found the right words to explain the situation to her. But the two of them were dependent on each other right now, a fact that Albus was luckily aware of. Therefore, Molly could nag him all she wanted. The girl and her parents would stay here, right where they belonged.

 

sssssssss

 

"Isn't that your friend Ron?" her mum said when they were about to start eating dinner. The three of them had enjoyed their time splashing and swimming in the water and after a while, they had even attracted the giant squid, much to her mum's shock. It had taken Hermione some time to explain to them that the magical animal was indeed a friendly one but in the end, the three of them had played with the squid jumping and sliding off its arms with squeals and laughter. It was brilliant!

Hermione had often heard the twins or Ron and Harry talk about swimming with the giant animal but she had always been too occupied with learning to try it herself. Now she was glad she finally had the chance to enjoy the friendly animal's company herself, even though it had taken a horde of Death Eaters destroying her home to finally do so.

 

"Yeah, that's him," Hermione replied, spying her friend run down towards them from the castle. It was only a few days since she had last seen him, but Hermione could have sworn, that he had already grown taller again. It was barely a minute until her friend finally reached them, his long legs and the Quidditch training making it easy for him to reach them in almost no time.

 

“Ron, hi,” Hermione said with a happy smile. “What are you doing at the castle?”

 

The boy looked at her in disbelief. “What do you think we’re doing? We heard about the attack, of course, and we wanted to know if you’re alight! Are you… alright? I mean…” his eyes trailed towards her parents, seeking them out with a hesitant expression. “...all of you?”

 

“Yeah, we’re fine,” Hermione assured him, a fond smile on her face. “We weren’t at home when our home was destroyed.”

 

Ron nodded and for a moment he seemed to contemplate her words. “Huh. Oh, hello Mr and Mrs Granger, I’m Ron Weasley. Do you remember me? Sorry for not saying hello earlier.”  

 

“Of course we remember Hermione’s friend,” her mum said, a friendly smile on her face. “It’s so nice you came looking for our Hermione. Would you like to sit down with us? We were just about to start eating lunch.”

 

"Sure," Ron replied and eyed their lunch that was already spread out on another blanket to their right. A moment later he sat down with them next to Hermione, and she could not deny that she was happy to have him there. After all, she had missed Ron and Harry terribly in the days she spent alone in the hospital wing, and now that her friend was here, she was determined to enjoy the time she had with him. Who knew when she'd see him again?

 

"How's everybody?" she asked and offered him the plate with sandwiches, being very much aware of her mum's watchful gaze. Hermione had rarely interacted with her friends in front of her parents, simply because she did not have any before Hogwarts and she, Ron and Harry used to spend the holidays apart from each other. So she guessed it was only natural that her mum was curious about the boys her daughter had befriended.

 

"Fred and George opened a joke shop at Diagon Alley," Ron told her, while chewing a cheese-sandwich. "Mum was nervous about it for days, but it seems to be a big hit. They moved out at home two days after they quit Hogwarts and from there on, they have constantly been working to build up everything. Can't wait to see everything with my own eyes!"

 

Hermione nodded. She still could not understand how those two could have been so careless to just quit school so shortly before their NEWTs, but remembering the conversation she recently had with her mum, she decided that it was their decision - and their decision alone. "I'd love to see it, too," Hermione said, a curious smile on her lips. "But I'm not sure if I can, as we still haven't decided what we will do now." She hesitantly focussed her gaze on her parents. "Professor Dumbledore said that it would be best if my parents went abroad for a while, you know?"

 

It seemed to take Ron a moment, before the implications of such a decision hit him, but when they did, he looked at her with wide eyes. “But you’re staying here, right? You can’ just…. Merlin Mione, please don’t go!”

 

Hermione looked at him with a sad smile. “Believe me, Ron, I don’t want to. I love you and Harry and I’d hate to not be able to see you, and I also love studying at Hogwarts. But I can understand my parents, too. We… still haven’t talked it through.”

 

She saw how Ron’s shoulders sagged as he suddenly turned to her parents. “Please let Hermione stay with us, let her stay at Hogwarts,” he said, his voice full of honest friendship. “Harry and I would be lost without her. She’s brilliant and…” suddenly, Hermione saw his cheeks turn pink, but he did not finish the sentence. Instead, he said: “Please don’t take her from us.”

 

Hermione could tell that her parents were stunned by Ron's plea, but she could not be more pleased about it. Following an impulse, she pulled him into her arms and hugged him fiercely, and he hugged her back without the slightest bit of hesitation, unaware that more than two pairs of eyes were watching them.

 

When Hermione finally let go of him, she saw her mum look at them with a watery smile. “Your dad and I would hate to pull such a strong friendship apart,” her mum said, before she turned towards her father. “Isn’t that right, Dan?” 

Her dad nodded. “Yeah, if you want to finish your education at Hogwarts we will not take you away from here against your will. We’d never do that to you.”

 

Hermione looked at both of them with wide eyes, before she leapt towards them and pulled them in a hug. “You’ll let me stay? Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!”

 

Her dad chuckled. "Anytime, Pumpkin. And it's not like you can't come visiting us, using one of those clever means of magical transport." He winked at her. "How about you and Ron go for another swim as soon as we're finished eating lunch? The weather is glorious and your mum and I wouldn't mind taking a short nap in the shade."

 

“Sounds brilliant!” Ron said, grabbing himself another sandwich. “I’ll simply transfigure my clothes and we’re good to go. You up for another swim, Mione?”

 

There was never a question about how her answer would be. Hermione had decided to enjoy her summer, and swimming with Ron sounded like a brilliant way to do just that.

 

ssssssss



Severus Snape was not in a good mood and the reason was not this red-haired menace that stumbled into the castle three hours ago, lounging at the black lake like there was no plan for him leaving anytime soon. It was most annoying as Miss Granger had somewhere else to be, namely his lab, but she, too, seemed in no hurry to leave the idiot's side. Their potion was in a fragile state right now, wasn't she aware of that? Obviously not, Severus thought, combing his beak through his black feathers, watching the two teenagers lying in the sun, chatting with each other.  It was of no use, waiting here for the girl. If Miss Granger proved to be as unreliable as it seemed, he would have to try continuing the potions himself. He wasn't dependant on anybody, especially not for brewing a fucking potion, missing limb or not.

 

Half an hour and three ruined giant’s toes later Severus had to realize, that he, indeed, needed the girl to continue. It was simply impossible to prepare them satisfyingly with only his right arm, no matter what he tried to fixate the damned ingredient. He was frustrated beyond measure! Right when he was about to storm out of his lab, there was a knock at his door, so he halted before ripping the door open. There she was, the unreliable chit.

 

“You’re late,” he growled, blocking her entrance. “But I guess you thought prancing around with that useless idiot was more important than finishing a stupid potion, didn’t you?”

 

She looked at him with wide, surprised eyes. "I… we never actually agreed on a particular time, Sir," she said before her gaze suddenly hardened and her eyes stared at him in determination. "I'm sorry to have disappointed you, Sir. I wasn't aware you were already waiting for me. Why didn't you send a Patronus to fetch me, Professor?"

 

Why indeed? He could have had her away from that idiot a while ago and spared himself the frustration of messing up valuable ingredients. Damn. “I thought you were aware of all the facts,” he sneered, before he stepped inside. “Get in here then and hurry. We already lost enough time as it is.”

 

Miss Granger stepped into his lab without giving him any sort of reply and strangely it was hard for him to read her thoughts. Her posture seemed stiff, her chin raised defiantly and her brown eyes seemed to spark with fire. But at the same time, she seemed somewhat hesitant around him, shy even, but that did not make much sense, did it?

"Cut the giant's toe first," he instructed, positioning himself in a safe distance to her and her distracting scent. Today, he would not be lured into that sort of mindframe, neither in the days that followed. He did not plan on getting addicted to Dreamless Sleep, after all.

 

Time of exposure : 2 hours, 4 minutes, 1 second

 

Physical contact: none

 

Observations

 

Working in the potion went smoothly after the girl finally showed up in the lab. Her potion-making skills seem to improve with every brewing session and 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. Her tendencies to garner her Professor's approval seem to have somewhat improved though. Today the girl seemed almost hesitant to talk to me and she just silently followed my orders.

While carefully watching over her preparing the potion, I avoided standing too close. Even though I found my heart rate to be still somewhat elevated, I am positive that I will be spared from unpleasant dreams tonight.

 

 

 

 







Chapter Text

Hermione did not know what to do. Her parent's presence at the castle and their shared adventures were what kept her sane through the days that followed. Ever since she had unknowingly been late for their brewing session in the evening, the Professor's behaviour had significantly changed. At first, he was just distant towards her and Hermione was thankful for it because her embarrassing dream made it hard for her to even look him into his dark eyes. With him mostly being a silent observer she had hoped that her crush would somewhat lessen but when the next night brought another heated dream she realized that it wouldn't be quite so easy. Even though the Professor grew colder and harsher every day her dreams stayed very much the same. In them , he was sometimes gentle, sometimes passionate while they were lying in each other's arms and kissing like there was no tomorrow. They never got any farther than that and Hermione was glad as her evenings in the lab were already hard enough as it was.

Because Professor Snape’s mood seemed to get worse every day, his expression back to the cold sneer, while his comments about her work had gotten significantly worse. It took all her willpower to not snap at him and instead tell herself what a great chance it was to work under a real potions master, but as the days went by and his comments grew even nastier, Hermione could barely motivate herself to knock at his office door any longer. His words kept echoing through her head and taunted her no matter how hard she tried pushing them away.

 

“No! You need to crush those Sophorus Beans hard ! Otherwise, it's impossible to get all the juice from them."

“Do you really want to do that girl? Let’s see what that leads to shall we?”

...

“I told you to evenly stir the potion clockwise 13 times exactly. Your stirring was way too slow in between!”

“I told you to crush those beans, not to destroy them.” 

“Merlin girl, the way you are stirring this potion I could swear you did not pay attention in class.”

... 

“Just take your time, Miss Granger. Maybe, with time, I’ll get used to having only one arm.”

“It seems to me you’re enjoying my company because I get the impression, you’d like to start again from scratch.”

... 

“This is not a stew , Miss Granger, it’s a potion : Do I need to explain the difference to you?”

...

"Mince not dice!"

...

"This is not Polyjuice potion Ms Granger, so keep your damned hair out of it! Do you not know how to tie back your own hair?"

“Stop regurgitating the textbook as if you have two peanuts in your brain that keep clanging around in the surrounding void. Think!”

...

 

It was too much. Hermione could no longer take his more and more nasty comments, that didn’t even seem remotely helpful any longer. She tried taking them with ease, she knew Professor Snape for years after all and most of the time being taught by him meant having to learn to deal with harsh criticism. But ever since being cursed, Professor Snape had behaved differently towards her and somehow she had hoped that all his unfriendly behaviour during class had just been an act to play his role as a loyal Death Eater. But suddenly it was like the “old” Professor Snape was back, only that his whole ire now seemed focussed on her. And Hermione had no idea why. 

One should have thought that the man’s unpleasant behaviour would help her to get over her stupid crush, and even though she could have sworn that she was not attracted to him throughout the day, her dreams told an entirely different story. It was like her dream world and the real world drifted more and more apart and her dreams had never been very realistic, to begin with. There was no way she would have thrown herself at a man like that , least of all Professor Snape.  

 

"Tell me, Ms Granger, do you prefer me having only one arm?" his deep baritone pulled her out of her thoughts and she cursed herself for not focussing her whole attention on the potion.

 

“No, Sir,” Hermione said, carefully stirring the simmering potion. “I wouldn’t wish such a thing to anybody I know.”

 

“Then tell me, why you’re trying to corrupt the potion by over-stirring it,” her Professor sneered and Hermione decided that she would not take his abysmal mood any longer. 

 

“Two minutes ago you presumed I was trying to burn the potion because I was not stirring enough,” she said, while carefully taking the stirring rod out and putting it aside. “Which is it, Sir? Because I slowly get the impression you can not quite decide how I am trying to ruin your and the Headmaster’s chance of recovery.”

 

Professor Snape looked at her with raised brows, his mouth drawn into a straight line. "The art of potion-making does require a lot of finesse and the ability to adapt one's strategy to the potion's requirements," he said. "A fact you should be aware of, if you read the book I have given you before you left the castle."

 

That was the last straw for her and even though she had sworn to herself she would not snap at him, she did. “Of course I know that one has to adapt one’s brewing strategy depending on the humidity, outside temperature and other factors. I just wasn’t aware those factors change within mere minutes, especially while staying in a perfectly isolated lab like this one."

 

Hermione saw the corner of his eye twitch, while a vein at his temple started to grow more and more prominent. It was no surprise that he snapped at her a moment later. “Then you’re an idiot, very much like your friends ," he said and for some reason, those were what suddenly made her grow calm.

 

"You're right, Sir," she said, before carefully wiping her hands at a cloth on the table. "It's obvious I am not skilled enough to help you with this potion and as you have pointed out more than once, it would be regrettable if we had to start over. Luckily, we are almost finished for today and you should not have any problems finishing by yourself. While you do so, I will visit the Headmaster and ask him to provide another assistant for you. Maybe one of the other Professors could be persuaded to help you."

 

Hermione looked at him with a calm expression but somehow her words only seemed to have agitated him even further. His eyes suddenly seemed even blacker and he took a quick step in her direction that automatically made her take a step back. "No," he said, his voice sounding suddenly dangerous. "You still owe me some more hours of work, Ms Granger, or have you forgotten that?" he said, before taking another step towards her and then another. Suddenly Professor Snape was right in front of her, towering over her while looking at her with black, unreadable eyes.

 

"No, of course not," she mumbled, while her heart started to beat rapidly in her chest. She knew he would not hurt her and there probably wasn't any insult left she had not already heard from him, but still, she felt the need to back away from him. Only that right behind her was the workbench, leaving her no room to do so. “I will help you when the school year starts once more ,” she promised and somehow her eyes were drawn to his. “But this potion is difficult and much too important for me to mess it up. Therefore I think it would be better if...”

 

She did not get any further, as Professor Snape took another step, leaving only a few inches in between them. His eyes never left hers while he did so, but suddenly he was towering over her, making her feel uneasy and… excited at the same time.

No ,” he said once more. “You seem to live under the misimpression that you are to choose when you’ll work for me. I don’t have time to instruct one of those other assistants you suggested. Most other order members are out of practice for years and therefore it would take weeks to get them back into shape. No. I've already invested too much time and effort into your brewing skills, girl. Therefore, you will stay, is that understood?"

 

Hermione swallowed heavily and found herself nodding, while she trembled under Professor Snape’s intensive gaze. Somehow one of her dreams suddenly sprang into mind, a dream where he had kissed here right here, in this lab, probably even at that same desk. Why did she have to think about this now? It wasn’t that anything like that would happen here right now. “Yes, Sir,” she replied, her voice suddenly hoarse. 

 

“Good,” the stern man growled, before motioning his head towards the door to the lab. “Now go. I’m expecting you back here tomorrow after dinner.”

 

She nodded, staring at him with huge, brown eyes and he stared right back at her. For a long moment, none of them moved, before Professor Snape suddenly stepped back, making room for her to get away from him. It took all her willpower to start moving and hurry past him towards the door. But she did so with only a moment of hesitation, feeling his eyes on her as she did. "Yes, Sir. Good night, Sir," she mumbled and without waiting for a reply Hermione stumbled through the door, closing it behind her with a heavily beating heart. A few minutes ago she had been pretty sure that she did not want to see him again, until she had to and rationally speaking she still felt that way, after what he had put her through the last week. But then there was her traitorous heart, remembering the fire in his gaze and hoping that this one, stupid dream could have become reality just now. It was insane, of course, but Hermione could not help it. Her heart yearned for Professor Snape, the man that only tolerated her presence because he did not have time to instruct anybody else. Merlin, she really was in trouble.

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus barely held it together until the girl closed the door behind her. As soon as she did, he warded the entrance to the lab, cast a stasis charm on the damned potion and collapsed against the wall, pressing his forehead against the cold stones, gasping for air. He had almost lost it and had done something truly unforgivable - he had almost kissed Hermione Granger,  his underage student in his care, and pulled her petite body against him to claim her with his remaining hand and his mouth. After she had asked him to take another assistant instead of her, he had realized his mistake, only that it was almost too late. Taunted by those insane and oh so alluring dreams, he had tried pushing her away, not to make her run but to distance himself from her - his student . He had tried finding fault with her but whatever he did, the dreams had stayed pretty much the same, making him wake up sweaty and needy night after night after night - forcing him to take cold showers or drowning himself with Dreamless Sleep. Now, that his stupid behaviour had almost driven her away he realized, that he could not do this any longer. He could not lose Miss Granger, but he also could not have her, at least not for a painfully long while, maybe not ever. Those feelings were getting too much for him to bottle up, to reign them in, they needed an out or otherwise, he would explode and do something he would regret for the rest of his life.

With a frustrated groan, he smashed his forehead against the wall in front of him, before his remaining hand trailed down ward, opening the fly of his trousers with trembling fingers. His member was already throbbing with need, having been ignored by him far too long. But whenever he thought about wanking, his thoughts had returned to her and he had disgustedly refrained from touching himself in that way. 

Now, he forced all his thoughts of one Hermione Granger back behind his strongest Occlumency walls and locked them away, before his hand roughly grabbed his cock, fisting it with long, slow strokes while his forehead was pressed against the wall, keeping him upright and steady. He was not thinking of her when his motions grew more and more frantic, his eyes closing and his lips painfully biting his lip to stifle the moan that was threatening to escape his mouth. Neither was he thinking of her when his balls contracted and his seed spilt over his hand a moment later, leaving him calmer, the sexual tension released for now.

With a deep sigh, he steadied himself, before wandlessly vanishing the mess he had made and buttoning his trousers again. Only then he set himself to finish today's brewing session, still without thinking about Ms Granger. Maybe he finally found a good way of dealing with this need he felt. A good wank had never harmed anybody, right? Especially when he was carefully avoiding thinking about a certain student he should most definitely not think about in this context. Luckily, Severus Snape was a master of Occlumency and he was not ashamed to put this skill to good use, as often as the need arose. It was for the girl's protection and his own sanity, after all, he was not a pervert .

 

Ssssssss

 

 

Chapter Text

The following night was the first one where Hermione was not having awkward dreams of her and Professor Snape. However unpleasant he had been towards her, it had been good for one thing: for the first time since those dreams started, she'd had a good night of sleep. It left her hopeful that her teenage crush on him was slowly disappearing because pining after Professor Snape was a hopeless cause anyway.

 

Still, she did not want to go back and work with him in the lab as his insults had gotten harder and harder for her to ignore. Suddenly she could understand Harry who regularly snapped at him when he encountered injustice but from her friend's actions, she also knew that sniping back would only make things worse. 

 

Still, she had to go back and brew with him, no matter how little she wanted to. She owed the man a debt for having made the salve, that helped to treat and hide her curse scar. And no matter how little she liked Professor Snape at the moment, Hermione was thankful for that. With a sigh, she knocked at his office door.

 

She didn't have to wait long as the man himself greeted her a moment later.  "Good evening, Miss Granger. Do come in," he said and surprisingly the scowl was absent from his face today. Instead, she was almost sure to spot a small smile, when he made room for her to step inside.

 

 

"Good evening, Professor Snape," she greeted back politely and stepped inside. From her previous days working with him, she knew, that he did not value it when she wasted time by trying to talk to him. Therefore she directly hurried to his lab and read the written instructions he had left for her on the workbench. Luckily today's steps did not look too difficult. Maybe she could get this over with without being insulted too much. But whom was she kidding? This was Professor Snape and lately, he didn't seem to see any more competence in her, than in Neville.

 

“Would you like a cup of tea, before we start?” his silky voice suddenly said from behind, making her jump in surprise. She hadn’t even heard him coming. 

 

"No, Sir, it's alright. I know you prefer keeping these meetings as short as possible," Hermione mumbled before busying herself with the preparations. 'And I do, too,' she added in her thoughts.

 

His eyes seemed to rest on her for a long moment. Finally, she saw him nod from the corner of her eye, his long legs slowly walking closer until he was standing almost right behind her, peering over her shoulder. Apparently, he had decided that she needed to be watched even more closely as he had watched her from a distance during the last days. But now his black eyes were fixated on her hands and she had to work very hard to not let her nervousness show. This would be a long evening, Hermione realized and grabbed the Fairy Wings with a deep sigh. But she would get through it, no matter how often she had to recite the rune alphabet to stay calm, because Hermione was determined to pay her debt with him, better sooner than later.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 1 hour, 20 minutes, 32 seconds

Physical interaction : none

Observations: 

Miss Granger seemed rather distant and unwilling to talk to me, which isn't much of a surprise, considering my recent treatment of her. I could tell she was reluctant to return for today's brewing session, seeming more and more nervous during mealtimes and when she entered the lab. I, therefore, tried to keep my interventions at a minimum and instead talked her through most of the steps, encouraging her whenever she did things up to my standards. I could tell she was slowly starting to relax when today's session was over, even though she barely talked or even looked at me. As soon as the session was over, she excused herself and left, again refusing my invitation for tea. Next time I'll try encouraging a scientific discussion. Maybe this will get her to talk to me again at it is the only way to convince her, to agree to meet me, even after the brewing process is finished. Not, that I would overly miss her presence, but it seems to be necessary due to the bond that we are sharing.

 

Ssssssss

 

To say that Hermione was confused would have been a vast understatement. She was beyond confused. Suddenly it was like the last week had not happened for Professor Snape, as he was back to his other more sociable self. From one day to another he had stopped to criticize her. When she did something wrong, he corrected her and explained why another approach would be more helpful. But he never sneered at her or made another insulting comment. Was it just because she had been about to quit her brewing sessions with him? Probably, because there really was no other explanation for his sudden change of behaviour. 

Unless he got laid last night , she thought to herself with a small snort. Then she froze. The thought alone made her heart ache and her insides run cold. Why though? Why should she get upset at the thought of some nameless woman touching him? Kissing him? Pleasuring him? It wasn't like that man's private life was any of her business, after all.

 

 

Still, Hermione did not trust the current situation. His unpleasant behaviour during the school year she had attributed to his role as a spy and the need to act a certain way as the Head of the House Slytherin. But his rough treatment of her during the last days could not be based on that same reason, as there were no Death Eaters or Slytherins around. The only logical conclusion was therefore that Professor Snape truly despised her and only played nicely because he needed her help. Her help he could get - she had not been able to deny it to him after he had pointed out that she was still in his debt - but she would not let her guard down around him again anytime soon. Because his last sudden change of behaviour had hurt her way too much for that.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 1 hour, 10 minutes, 45 seconds

Physical interaction : none

Observations: 

Miss Granger behaviour remains hesitant and she mostly keeps silent in my presence. It is rather worrying, considering the lively discussions we once had. Today, I tried engaging her into a scientific discussion concerning the different preparation techniques of poisonous potion ingredients. She only replied in two sentences, never meeting my eyes as she did. I will try again tomorrow and the following days but I need to make an alternative plan in case my time runs out and the potion is finished before I can find another reason to meet with her again or spark her interest in further scientific collaboration. It is most annoying, but I am sure I will find a way to manipulate her accordingly.

 

Ssssssss

 

This really is a beautiful place," her mum sighed while walking along the lakeshore with her. "I'm really glad your dad and I got a chance to see Hogwarts with our own eyes, even though the circumstances leading to that privilege were rather worrying."

 

 

Hermione nodded. Feeling that sudden pain in her arm had been terrifying, but realizing that they had barely escaped a Death Eater attack even more so. Luckily, the memory of this fateful day was rather blurred and her body seemed to have forgotten how it felt to receive the Professor's pain. It was probably because it had not been her own pain.

 

 

"Yeah. I don't want to imagine what would have happened if we had not already been in hospital. Do you and dad already know where you will go?" Hermione asked, while staring at the smooth surface of the lake. The Giant Squid was nowhere to be seen.

 

 

"We considered Australia but decided it would be too far away to keep in touch. Instead, we decided that moving to Germany would not be such a bad idea. Your Professor Dumbledore said that you could easily reach us there via Portkey or owl. And as your dad and I do already have some contacts in Munich…"

 

 

Hermione nodded. That did make sense. She told her mother as much, while they slowly walked along the Black Lake, the still water reflecting the blue sky above them. Afterwards, they walked for a while in silence and Hermione was just about to lose herself in her thought, when her mum said: "What is it, Honey? You seem kind of out of it today."

 

 

Hermione looked at her with a sigh. Her mum had always been able to tell when something was wrong, but she guessed today even Ron would have realized something was amiss. "I… I do have some problems with Professor Snape," she finally confessed silently. "Sometimes I just don't know what to think about him. He's always been rather unfriendly towards me but after I landed myself in the infirmary, I somehow got the impression he changed. But now I'm not so sure. It's like his behaviour towards me is constantly changing and I just don't know what to think …” she moaned and threw her hands in the air. Her mum watched her with a contemplative expression. 

 

"What is there to think? Maybe the man just has some good and some bad days, like we all have. He's only your teacher, love. You survived his grumpiness for five years now, you can manage another two, right? After the holidays you just have to see him twice a week."

 

 

Hermione nodded mutely. Her mum was right, of course. It was only a few more days until the potion was finished. Then, Professor Snape could be as grumpy as he liked, because she wouldn't have to stand his bad mood until the beginning of the school year. So why was she still bothered by this? "Mum? I… I think I have a crush on him," she hastily admitted with pinkening cheeks. "I know it's insane, the man probably doesn't even like me but…"

 

 

Her mum stopped in her tracks and focussed her with calm, brown eyes. “Lots of girls do have a crush on their teacher at least once in their life,” she said, a knowing smile gracing her lips, “I certainly had one on my PE teacher, when I was your age. Usually, those feelings fade after some time, as they should . You’re still so young, love, and considering you’ve barely even got to know boys…” She sighed. “Try not to read too much into it. Just remember: He is your Professor and nothing can come of it, at least not for  quite a while.”

 

 

 

 

“I know that,” Hermione said tiredly. “I really do. It’s just all so confusing. Some days I don’t even like him but then again…” she sighed. “Arrrgh, puberty sucks!”

At that, her mum chuckled. “I know love. How about you try going on a date or two? How about your friend Ron, for example? He’d definitely be interested in you, that much was obvious from his recent visit.”

“You want me to date Ron?” Hermione asked wide-eyedly. 

"Why not? It doesn't need to be something serious, love. Just try it out. And who knows? Maybe the two of you get along better than you expect? It will definitely help you to get your mind off certain dark, broody Professors, don't you think?" her mum asked, winking at her. Hermione chuckled at her mum's gesture, but then she started thinking. Would Ron really agree, if she asked him on a date? And did she actually want that? She did not know, but maybe the thought was worth considering it. Until the holidays ended she still had enough time to think about her mum's suggestion. And who knew? Maybe she would even find the courage to ask Ron on a date, as soon as he met him back at Hogwarts.

 

ssssssss

 

“Mr Granger, Sir!  Mrs Granger! The Headmaster has asked Dobby to invite you into his office!” a well-known voice squeaked, making Hermione look up from her book in surprise. She and her parents were sitting by the lakeshore again, as this had quickly gotten their favourite place to spend the afternoons. But now her parents looked at Dobby in surprise and confusion, unable to formulate a reply.

"Hello Dobby," she quickly greeted the elf, a friendly smile on her face.

 

"Professor Dumbledore wants to see my parents, you say?"

 

 

“Yes, Hermione Granger, Miss. I could take them, if you wish!” the little fellow chirped enthusiastically, bouncing on his feet excitedly. 

 

 

 

Hermione nodded, before turning to her parents. “Mum, Dad, this is Dobby. Dobby is a house-elf and a friend,” she said and looked at the little servant with a smile. “He is working at Hogwarts, you know?”

Her mum looked at Dobby with a polite smile. “Hello Dobby, it’s so nice to meet you!” she said, crouching down to be at the same height. “I am Emma and this is my husband, Dan.”

Dobby looked at them with wide eyes. Even though Hermione and her friends had treated him civilly for years now, it was still unexpected for him to be treated with friendliness, Hermione thought sadly.

“Dobby is honoured to meet you, Mr and Mrs Granger! The Headmaster is wanting to speak with you. Shall Dobby take you to him?”  

 

 

Her mum looked at Dobby with a friendly smile. “That would be lovely, Dobby. Wouldn’t it, Dan?”

“Absolutely, Dobby. Lead the way!”

 

Ssssssss

 

“So this is where you work, Dobby,” Emma Granger said two hours later, staring at the interior of the Hogwarts kitchens with wide eyes. 

 

 

 

"Yes, ma'am," Dobby chirped excitedly, his little chest puffed in pride. Apart from him, only a few other elves were around and most of them stared at the three newcomers with hesitation or even distrust. Hermione could see some more elves hiding behind the stoves or under the cupboards, but she chose not to say anything about it, while the little fellows could hear them. She could explain the house-elves' hesitancy to her parents later.

 

"Those are Hogwarts' kitchens. Many elves is proudly working here, as Headmaster Dumbledore is a very good master."

 

Hermione saw the assembled elves nod in agreeance and smiled. That was when Dobby continued: "House-elves are very proud to work hard for their masters, Ma'am. I is not only working in the kitchens but also taking care of the Gryffindor dormitories, as most other elves still avoid going there."

Her mum looked at the house-elf with a kind smile. "This indeed sounds to me like you are a very hard-working elf, Dobby," she said. "Why are the other elves avoiding the Gryffindor tower? Is it haunted or something?"

 

 

At that, Hermione saw Dobby getting uncomfortable, as he started wringing his hands while looking at her with wide, scared eyes. Hermione sighed. "I guess the reason would be me," she finally said and looked at her mum with an apologetic smile. "You know, house-elves are usually not paid for their work, as they are bound to their masters like slaves. They can only be freed by being given clothes." Hermione saw the assembled elves nervously shuffle their feet, some of them retreating back from her for a few steps. She sighed. "In my fourth year, I tried freeing them by putting out clothes for them to take. Because Slavery is wrong and I couldn't let it happen in front of my own eyes and do nothing about it."

 

 

Dobby looked at her with hanging ears, while the other elves retreated even further. “Miss Hermione surely did not mean any harm,” he mumbled, while nervously wringing his hands. “And Dobby is already a free elf, therefore the clothes did not bother him. And Dobby does not mind cleaning the tower on his own.”

 

 

 Emma and Dan Granger looked at him with furrowed brows. “Did the other elves not want to be freed?” her dad asked, before looking around the room. There, numerous elves frantically shook their heads. Hermione looked at them with dismay.

"I stopped putting out clothes more than a year ago," she defended herself, when her dad's eyes finally came resting on her. "I realized what I was doing wasn't working and that I have to find another way to help them," she said, oblivious to the fact, that some of the elves retreated even further. But Dan and Emma Granger saw and focussed their daughter with a stern expression.

 

 

“Let me get this straight,” her father said, his voice dark, “you tried freeing those elves by tricking them?" He did not wait for her answer though, but instead, focussed the other elves in the room. "Does anyone of you want to be freed?"

 

 

Again, the little creatures shook their heads, their ears tottering as they did so. “No, Sir,” a little female answered, carefully walking closer, more than once looking cautiously into her direction, like she was expecting Hermione suddenly throwing clothes at her. “Being freed is seen as a disgrace among the other elves. Being freed means being without a master and being without a master means being without work,” she squeaked, her huge green eyes slowly filling with tears, “It is the worst that can happen to an elf, Sir. Elves love to work, we’s live to work, Sir. Masters free their elves as a punishment for being a bad elf, you see? But Hogwarts elves are good elves, Potty swears !”

 

 

Her dad's eyes slowly focussed back on her, disappointment and anger reflecting in them. “Hermione?” he asked, in a tone that urged her to explain. She sighed.  

"They can't see that it's wrong, dad. It's the way the wizarding world worked for hundreds of years, the way they are bred and brought up for generations. It's causing them to want to be enslaved. I know it sounds foreign," she said, but if possible her dad's expression grew even darker.

 

 

“No, Hermione. What sounds foreign to us is you ,” he said, the other elves seemingly forgotten. “Did we not teach you to respect other cultures and customs or to respect other people's wishes?” he said, shaking his head. 

 

 

 

“You did,” she answered with downcast eyes. “But…”

“No buts, young lady. You just heard the house-elves. They don’t want to be freed and it is not for you to decide otherwise. Do you understand?”

"Yes, Dad," Hermione mumbled embarrassedly. Suddenly she remembered her mum's words - the conversation they had right after she came home from Hogwarts a few weeks ago. Her mum had told her she needed to stop forcing her opinion on others but suddenly she realized, that she'd done it again . Merlin, her mum was right. This had to change.

 

 

Suddenly, Hermione could see some of the elves coming closer, staring at the scene with wide, disbelieving eyes. 

“Is young Miss going to be punished, Sir?” the house-elf Potty asked, her voice sounding a bit too excited for Hermione’s liking.

 

 

Still, she saw her father nod. “I promise you, she will be taught a lesson. My daughter did wrong, on all of you,” he said, his eyes travelling through the room, “and we will teach her to do better on you in the future. You will not have to fear entering the Gryffindor tower any longer, I will make sure of it.”

Potty nodded, her green eyes shining with excitement. “Thank you, Sir. Potty is so happy to hear that, Sir. I has missed cleaning the Gryffindor tower very much .”

 

 

Her parents looked at the little fellows in dismay. “Hermione? You will apologize to those elves, are we understood?” her mum said sternly. “And afterwards we are going to talk about your punishment.”

Hermione nodded embarrassedly, but before she could reply something Potty said: "If you want to punish her right here, Sir, Potty is only too happy to borrow her pressing iron. It makes very memorable punishments, you see?"

 

Ssssssss

 

Officially apologizing to the house-elves was one of the hardest things Hermione had ever done. It wasn't that she didn't want to apologize, she did, but doing so in Professor Snape's and the Headmaster's presence during lunchtime, was more than a little bit embarrassing. Still, her parents were convinced that it would teach her a lesson and it did. Because Hermione did not want to do such a thing ever again.

She decided that she did not want to stall the inevitable until after lunch. As long as she hadn't put this task behind her, she wasn't hungry anyway. This was why she only waited until everyone had sat down, before she cleared her throat, got up and said: "It has been brought to my attention, that I have terribly wronged the Hogwarts house-elves during the last two years. Probably most of you remember my campaign to free the house-elves, even against their own will. Today I know, that this was wrong." Hermione bit her lip and stared down at her plate. She did not want to see Professor Snape's face and the disdainful sneer that was surely there. He would tell her soon enough how immature and stupid she was. "Therefore I want to formally apologize to all of you house-elves at the castle and as a punishment and reparation…" she swallowed, "I will provide you with additional work for the next year. I am truly sorry for what I did to you and I promise, to not interfere with your work again."

 

 

For a moment Hermione remained standing, her face red with embarrassment. She was just about to sit down again, when she suddenly heard somebody knocking on the table at the other end of the table. Hermione looked up in surprise and across from her, she could see Albus Dumbledore doing so with a pleased smile on his face.

"Thank you, Miss Granger," he said a moment later. "It takes a lot of courage to accept and admit one's mistakes and you have shown great courage by doing so. It is a feat most adults are still too proud to perform. I am sure the house-elves will be pleased to receive and accept your apology. Elves are very forgiving by nature, you know?"

 

Hermione nodded awkwardly, before sitting down again. She'd rather not discuss this embarrassing incident any longer and therefore she was only too eager to start lunch. Luckily, Professor Dumbledore did not say anything else on the matter and a moment later their meal appeared in front of her on the table. And there it was. Right in front of her was a small vase, containing a single, yellow tulip. For a moment Hermione looked at it with a stunned expression, before she decided to look up its meaning later, when she had time. For now, she carefully put the vase aside, before silently starting to eat her lunch. While she did, she carefully avoided looking in Professor Snape's direction, even when she clearly felt his eyes resting on her more than once.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 1 hour, 8 minutes, 32 seconds

Physical interaction : none

Observations: 

The girl's meetings with me get shorter and shorter, with her skills in the lab and her efficiency improving day by day. She is still hesitant to talk to me, even after a week of me walking on eggshells around her. It is most annoying. She never refuses to answer the questions I am asking her, but her answers are always short and precise, never the wordy monologues they used to be in the past. I find myself pleased at her gain of self-control, but at the same time, it is more and more evident that meeting her on a regular basis will be most difficult after the potion is finished. Only three more days and I will only be able to see her during mealtimes, or when I decide to stalk her in secret, a thing I find myself more and more reluctant to do. My Animagus form is currently not very helpful in doing so, as it is short of a wing right now. Of course, I can always approach her while being disillusioned or even levitate myself up a tree, before transforming, but doing so is very risky and more than a little cumbersome.

But what other options do I have, without having to spill the whole, embarrassing truth? I should have listened to the Headmaster for once and told her right in the beginning, because now telling her without driving her away is absolutely impossible.

 

 

Ssssssss

 

The potion was finished. Hermione could not believe her luck. It had almost taken three weeks until the potion's colour shifted one last time and Professor Snape carefully bottled two phials of a thick sky blue potion with a blank look on his face. 

 

"It's done," she murmured, unable to hide the relief and pride reflecting in her voice. Relief that this was the last private brewing session with Professor Snape and pride that she had really done it. She had brewed a potion that wasn't even in the Curriculum or available at St Mungo's. As far as she knew, Snape had invented the recipe himself and given his high standards, it was a miracle she had not been told to start over. She hoped that meant the potion would work for him and Professor Dumbledore.

 

“It is,” he replied neutrally before pocketing both phials in his robe. She never caught his grimace at her obvious relief to be done with their work. 

 

Hermione asked herself if he would take the potion right away after she was gone. Probably. And for a small moment, she wished she'd be able to see it when he regrew his arm. But then she remembered how inappropriate that would be and hastily pushed the thought away. "I will go now, Sir." Hermione said, after she made sure that all tools and surfaces were clean. "I really hope the potion works because no matter what you might think, I do prefer you with two arms, Sir."

It was her attempt to say something lighthearted as her heart suddenly clenched at the realization that from now on she would spend her evenings in the library again - alone. No matter how unpleasant the start of her potions work had been, during the last two weeks, Professor Snape had taught her a lot, as he had never been too proud to explain the different steps to her. By that, Hermione did not only improve her brewing skills, but she had also a growing understanding of potion development and what different factors needed to be taken into concern. It was a completely different thing than following a recipe and she was pretty sure that she'd never been able to learn those things during a regular potions lesson. It also pained her to lose this chance for private tutoring now but more than anything, she felt relieved - relieved that she would finally get a chance to get a grip on herself and her hormonal feelings again.

 

 

Professor Snape looked at her with a crooked smile on his lips. The sight was so unusual but the amused undertone in his voice even more so. "Oh? I will consider myself lucky then, as any other student of mine would not have expressed that sentiment. I would not have been able to do this on my own Miss Granger."

 

Hermione blinked a hesitant smile creeping on her lips. “I’m glad I was able to help, Professor. I did learn a lot, both from you and the book you gave me,” she said while pulling Professor Snape's old potions book out of her robe. She had kept it way longer than she had planned to and by now, she knew all of the notes he had taken by heart. It was time for her to give it back and start distancing herself from the man whose written words she had secretly re a d on an almost daily basis. “I am thankful too,” she admitted, handing him the book as carefully as possible. 

 

Professor Snape took it from her with an unreadable expression on his face. “Consider your debt with me as paid, Miss Granger,” he said, after putting his book down on the table at his left side, “I know working with me isn’t always easy, but you did remarkably well.”

 

For a moment she was stunned by his words. It was the biggest and probably only praise she had ever received from him. “Thank you, Sir,” she said, unable to suppress the smile that broke out on her face. 

 

They stared at each other for several seconds and Hermione could have sworn that Professor Snape wanted to say something else to her. But when he remained silent, she nodded towards him with a smile and said: "With your permission, I will go now. Good night, Sir."

 

"Good night, Miss Granger," he replied, while his dark eyes stared at her almost contemplatively. But she forced herself not to think about it too much. Her mum was right. The man was her Professor, for god's sake, and nothing could come out of this stupid crush of her's. Therefore it was totally useless to mull over the fact, that his voice had sounded somewhat hoarse and what that could possibly mean.

 

 

Chapter Text

“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.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure:   31 minutes, 45 seconds

 

Physical interaction: 

  • 3 seconds (touching her shoulder to guide her into a safe distance for the port key to activate)
  • 2 seconds (accidental brushing of fingers)

 

Observations

 

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. 

 

Ssssssss

 

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.”

 

 

Chapter Text

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. 

 

 

Ssssssss

  

 

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.”

 

Ssssssss

 

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.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hermione’s heart heavily throbbed in her chest, while her right hand slowly moved towards Professor Snape’s left arm - or what remained from it. She could not deny that she was scared of touching it, because being in contact with such a vulnerable part of the Professor’s body felt intimate and almost forbidden. She could see him watching her with dark clouded eyes - probably from the pain, she thought - but Hermione’s focus was on his arm, as the last thing she wanted to do was to hurt him. 

When their skin finally came in contact, a small bout of electricity seemed to rush through her. A moment later it was gone, substituted by a prickling on her skin and a comfortable warmth, that seemed to radiate from his hurt limb.

 

Hermione’s concentration was broken when she heard a moan from Professor Snape. “Professor? Did I hurt you?” she asked, scanning his face in concern. She hoped not, because she had been as gentle as possible and if she was honest with herself, touching him felt… good in a way she was unable to explain. 

 

“No,” the Professor replied, his brows knitted together while his eyes travelled to the spot of his arm that was touched by her. They were black and unreadable, Hermione thought, wishing to be able to look into his head for once. 

 

“Is it helping?” she therefore asked, her voice hopeful. 

 

“Indeed,” the man replied after a moment of consideration. “There is no logical explanation for it, but the pain has lessened, considerably so.”

 

Hermione sighed in relief. “I’m glad, Sir, glad that I can do something to make this better for you,” she murmured, feeling her magic humming beneath her fingertips. 

 

“I will consider myself lucky then,” he said, his head lolling back on the backrest while a tired smile appeared on his face.

 

Hermione stared at him uncertainly. Was this a permission for her to touch him or even a plea to do so? With a man like Severus Snape, it was impossible to tell. “Sir? Do you want me to… I could simply hold you arm, for a while, if you wish as long as it takes for it to regrow. Would you… would you like me to do that?”

 

The Professor’s eyes snapped open and he raised his head with a sigh. “I will not tell you what to do girl… not in this case. What you’re suggesting is highly inappropriate for a Professor and his student, do you understand?”

 

Hermione nodded, but at the same time, she looked at him with furrowed brows. "I'd do it to help you, to heal you, for nothing else," she said, determination creeping in her voice. Professor Snape must have heard it as his eyes grew hard a moment later.

 

“If you decide to do so… to touch me … we need to be clear that I did not ask this of you and that it means nothing except you attempting to help me with my arm. Are we understood?” he said with steel in his voice. 

 

"Of course, Sir," Hermione mumbled, hoping that she would not blush now. Of course, Professor Snape had no other interest in her touch, except for it to help him improve, which made her stupid crush on him even more annoying. But she could not let it get in the way, not when the man needed her help. "It doesn't mean anything, I know that," she murmured, burying the odd pain in her chest she felt at those words. 

 

Professor Snape nodded sharply, seemingly satisfied by her words. “Very well. You better sit down then. Or do you prefer to stand in front of me for the next several hours?”

 

“No, Sir,” Hermione replied, pulling her hand away from his arm before carefully sitting down next to him. Only then she moved her right hand towards him again, putting it around his slowly growing arm. For a moment she felt the man next to her stiffen but he did not say a word. Instead, he stared straight ahead into the room, his expression in an unreadable mask. She could not blame him, as this was a strange situation, especially with him being well… him. Professor Snape wasn’t known for his sociability, after all. Sitting next to him on the sofa, almost holding ' hands ' felt totally surreal. But it was real, this was really happening, with all the awkwardness one would expect with such a situation. They would probably sit like this for several hours, Hermione thought, desperately searching for something to talk about. She really did not want to spend the next hours in awkward silence. Finally, she chose the next best thing that she thought they could safely talk about.

“Sir? Would you mind telling me about what you’re going to teach us next year? I did not have time to buy any new books and…”

 

“Already considering to work ahead, Miss Granger?” Professor Snape interrupted her, amusement reflecting in his voice. Amusement was good, Hermione thought. Amusement was way better than awkwardness.

 

“You know me, Sir,” she replied, looking at him with an almost teasing smile. “I love to be well prepared.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

ssssssss

 

Severus glanced at the girl that had fallen asleep next to him on the sofa not long ago. She had questioned him about school and kept the conversation going with several questions on defence, and he (glad for distraction) had answered them all patiently and as detailed as he could. Most of the time he had looked straight ahead but the few times he dared to look at her, a happy smile played on her lips. No sign of discomfort was visible on her features. And slowly he had started to relax next to her. 

They were not doing something untoward, merely sitting next to each other, like friends . There was nothing wrong with that, he decided, as long as he would not favour her in class due to their growing familiarity with each other. Not, that she would not get top marks anyway…

Hermione Granger, the girl was a miracle to him. How could she sit there, touching him, healing him and chatting about school like nothing of significance was happening right at this moment? There was not an ounce of discomfort to feel from her, no hesitation to touch him and that even though she had barely been willing to look at him during the last days. Severus did not know what had changed, but he was secretly thankful for it - thankful for her and her ability to make him feel better. The pain was almost gone. What was left was the feeling of his stretching muscles and bones and a slight buzz in his arms, that could or could not have come from her. It seemed to negate the pain, while the warmth radiating from the girl’s small body lulled him into security, that finally made him let go of the worry that had been nagging on him all evening long. 

 

The girl gave a small whimper in her sleep, before her body shifted against him, her head falling on his shoulder. He should probably wake her, but it was already past three in the morning and he guessed she wasn’t used to a bare minimum of sleep, like he was.  And there was no harm in letting her sleep. He still needed her with him, as his hand still needed to regrow and judging by the amount of pain the development of his elbow had caused, he very much wanted his kindred spirit by his side.

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione awoke a few hours later, Professor Snape was gone. She must have fallen asleep sometime during his healing process, she realized, but as soon as it was finished, the man must have retreated into bed himself, leaving her to rest on the sofa. He had even provided a thick woollen blanket for her and covered her with it. It had kept her warm throughout the night, as had the fire that he must have left burning in the fireplace in front of her.

What was she supposed to do now? Should she just go? The man was surely still asleep, as it must have taken almost all night to let his arm regrow and she imagined that he would need to rest now. Professor Snape surely would not appreciate her roaming his quarters alone or even reading his books, considering what a private person he was. On the other hand leaving felt wrong. She wanted to talk to him about what happened last night, not them staying on the sofa together, but her feeling this strange pull towards him and being able to help him through the pain. Suddenly she was sure that this connection between them was more than the ability to feel each other’s pain and wasn’t that something worth exploring?

 

“You’re awake,” his voice suddenly sounded from the door in the back of the room and when Hermione raised her head, she could see Professor Snape standing there. He had put on a white, crisp shirt and black trousers and Hermione could have sworn his hair was still wet, indicating that he’d just taken a shower or a bath. But what was important was, that the stump was gone, substituted by a healthy-looking arm. She felt a jolt of happiness rush through her. 

 

“I am, Sir. Sorry, I must have fallen asleep, some time during the night. Thank you for letting me sleep here.”

 

Professor Snape nodded, his face back to the unreadable mask she was used from him by now. “It wasn’t a bother as your alertness did not seem to affect the healing process or amount of pain I felt.”

 

"That's interesting, Sir. In fact, this connection between us is something I wanted to talk about with you. Because after what happened last night, I am sure that it is more than just the ability to feel each other's pain," Hermione found herself saying, while the Professor strode into the room. His feet were still bare, Hermione realized and found herself strangely affected by the sight of it. So this was what Professor Snape looked in the mornings, before he buttoned up his long, black teaching robes. The realization was almost startling and she felt very happy to be seeing him like this.

 

“We’ll discuss it over breakfast,” the Professor replied, looking her over with a calm expression. “Go and freshen up in the bathroom. I’ll get us something to eat.”

 

Hermione nodded with a hesitant smile, before she swung her legs down from the sofa and padded towards the direction, the Professor pointed for her. Freshening up in his bathroom before eating breakfast together - how very … domestic. But strangely, the thought of it made her smile with amusement and happiness. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus let the elves set up the breakfast table in the other corner of the living room, on a small table by the window he almost never used. Usually, he took his breakfast in the Great Hall, where he could have an eye on his Slytherins while listening in to the gossip Minerva, Pomona and Sybil used to exchange. He wasn’t one to tattle, but he found it useful to keep himself informed about what was going on in the castle and the most useful bits one learned at mealtimes. 

Therefore he first had to remove several piles of books from his small table, before the elves could prepare it for them to use. 

 

When Miss Granger emerged from the bathroom, she looked a little more put together. He knew there was only so much one could do with magic and without access to fresh clothing and one's personal toiletries. Not that he cared about the girl’s grooming habits, or anyone’s for that matter.

 

“Sit,” he instructed her, pointing at the chair across the table.

 

Miss Granger did not hesitate, just walked towards him and slowly sat down on the appointed seat. 

 

“How are you, Sir? Sorry that I forgot to ask you earlier,” she said silently, while looking at him with a curious expression on her face. 

 

“You tell me,” Severus challenged before looking at her expectantly.

 

The girl looked at him in concentration, her eyes shifting to his regrown arm, analysing what she saw with furrowed brows. Finally, her eyes returned back to his face, before she said: “Your arm looks fine to me, Sir, and I can no longer feel any pain in mine which leads me to conclude that you aren’t in any pain either. Or are you?”

 

He shook his head. “The pain is gone and the arm is functioning well enough. But what is more important…” he carefully pushed up his sleeve and showed her the unblemished skin of his arm. “The mark is gone. I am free.”

 

Miss Granger stared at his arm unblinkingly, her eyes focussing his pale skin until he pulled his sleeve back down. Only then her eyes blinked and her gaze shifted back to his face. “I am glad it worked, Sir, glad that you’re finally free from him.” 

He saw her bottom lip disappear between her teeth, a nervous gesture that indicated she was probably attempting to stop herself from saying more. Severus forced himself to wait calmly, until she found the courage to do so, buttering his toast in the meanwhile. Luckily it did not take long for her to find her words.

 

“Professor Snape?” she asked, her voice quivering ever so slightly. “Yesterday I felt this strange pull, a feeling like I was supposed to be here. Then later, I helped you with the pain. I know it sounds strange, but this connection between us, it does not only seem to be about feeling each other's pain.”  

 

Severus nodded. There was no reason for him to deny it, not when she had already guessed all the facts. "No, it doesn't. Whatever this is… it seems to be much more than we can possibly understand. But maybe we will find out - with time."

 

This seemed to satisfy the girl, as she nodded with a serious expression on her face. “Do you think we should, Professor… try to find out about the connection I mean? Because I really would like to know more.”

 

Severus' lips twitched, as this was more than he could have hoped for. From the sound of it, Miss Granger no longer wanted to undo the connection between them, but instead explore it. It seemed like they were more or less on the same page now, except for some minor details he would keep to himself. But what difference did it make that he had been aware of those facts for a few weeks now, or that he had secretly followed her? Miss Granger knew about the other aspects of the bond now, which was all that mattered, was it not?

 

 

Chapter Text

"I'm going to take Miss Granger to Diagon Alley tomorrow," Severus stated while calmly sipping the tea the old man had offered him in a way too small porcelain cup. 

 

“Are you indeed?” Albus Dumbledore replied, his blue eyes looking at him with an amused twinkle. 

 

Severus did not let the man's behaviour unsettle him so he simply nodded coolly. "The girl needs new school supplies and after our extensive brewing sessions, I need to restock my supply of potion ingredients. It is only logical to combine both endeavours. Or have you already arranged a guard for Ms Granger?"

 

"I thought about possibly asking Hadrid to take her shopping for school supplies," Albus said while calmly sipping from his own cup. 

 

“Hagrid? Really?” Severus replied, unable to hide the sneer in his voice. "I know you have a soft spot for him. But even though his heritage makes him quite resistant to spells, there is only so much he could do to protect Ms Granger from a group of Death Eaters without being able to use a wand. I don't see Bellatrix engaging in a fistfight, do you?"

 

Albus’ lips twitched. “I guess you are right,” the old man admitted. “But you are possibly one of the most sought-after wizards of Britain right now. I surmised you would not want to leave the castle under these circumstances.

 

Severus huffed in annoyance. “I won’t let myself be locked up like Sirius Black, not after finally freeing myself from the Dark Lord. And it’s not like I am a reckless Gryffindor, Albus. Of course, I and Ms Granger will go in disguise.”

 

"Very well, my boy," Albus finally agreed with a nod. "I trust, you will protect the girl to the best of your abilities. Especially now that you finally started spending more time with her again. Or did you think I would not realize the two of you have been missing for breakfast?” 

 

“I don’t know what you are implying, Albus,” Severus said coldly. “I did not touch the girl if that is what you are thinking.”

 

He received a knowing smile as an answer. “Of course not my boy. I was merely referring to the fact that your arm seems to have regrown just fine last night, which might have led me to hope that the girl assisted you in some way. Or wasn't she alerted of your pain?"

 

"She was," Severus admitted coolly. "And surprisingly her mere presence indeed dulled the pain. Were you aware such a thing was possible, Albus?"

 

The man looked at him in evident surprise. "I was not. Your condition is not very well documented, as you are aware by now. But after what you just told me, I once more envy you for what you have found in Ms Granger."

 

Severus assumed he was referring to the increased healing abilities and considering the old man had recently regrown his wand arm too, Severus could very much understand.

 

ssssssss

 

Breakfast in the Great Hall was mostly a silent affair ever since her parents had left the castle. Now it was just the Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, Hagrid, Madame Pomphrey and Mr Filch and even though one of them sometimes tried to make polite conversation with her, meals were usually done without much talking. But today she had barely sat down when the Headmaster suddenly addressed her with a kind smile: "I asked Professor Snape to take you to Diagon Alley today, Miss Granger."

 

Hermione looked at the man in surprise. "Thank you, Sir. But I haven't even received my list of school supplies, yet."

 

The Headmaster looked at her with a twinkle, before he handed her a sealed envelope with a knowing smile. "The owls will be sent out today, Miss Granger. But I do have your list here."

 

She took the envelope and opened it with a smile on her face. A trip to Diagon Alley was exactly what she needed! She'd finally be able to start reading her new schoolbooks and with Professor Snape taking her there, she had nothing to be afraid of, right? Because if there was someone she trusted with her life, it was him.

 

Sssssssss

 

"Merlin, those colours are really eye-cancer inducing," Severus growled as he looked at the absurdity the Weasley twin called a shop. He wasn't sure how those two had managed it, but there was a big queue if one wanted to enter the shop, indicating some level of success for the Weasley's terrible two.  

 

“I find the look refreshing,” Miss Granger told him while brushing her now straight black hair behind her ear. 

Severus had decided it was best to transfigure them. Luckily he had a certain degree of talent for transfigurations so that they were now totally unrecognizable to the world. Miss Granger sprouted black straight hair and stunning blue eyes, while he had gone for brown, wavy hair and caramel brown eyes himself. One could think they had pretty much switched roles, which in his case might even be true, considering that he had thought of Miss Granger when transfiguring his face in front of the mirror. 

 

"Refreshing like taking a bite from a lemon, maybe," he grumbled, but it only caused the girl to chuckle.

 

Miss Granger strode into the store with bouncing steps, while he followed her with a bit of distance. He'd never been much into pranking and joke items and he had thought Miss Granger wasn't either. It was, of course, possible he had been wrong about her, but it was more likely that it was just her curiosity leading her here.

The Weasley-pests pranced around the store like they were on a stage, advertising and demonstrating their products like this was all some kind of game or a big joke. Still, one look at them told him that his spell was still in place, even though none of them seemed to be overly bothered by the new situation they found themselves in. He shook his head in irritation.

 

Miss Granger must have seen the change too, as she looked at them with furrowed brows, before hesitantly continuing to inspect the different products: Love potions, fireworks, daydream charms… Merlin, the next school year promised to be a hard one, considering the variety of banned products one could buy at that shop.

 

“How can I be of service to you, lovely?” he suddenly heard a voice in front of him, and when he focussed back at Miss Granger, he saw that one of the redheads had found her, leaning against one of the shelves with a winning smile. “Such a pretty bird like you surely isn’t in need of a love potion. But what about one of these daydream charms? Or maybe one of our Pygmy Puffs?”

 

Severus saw the girl go rigid and for a moment he considered intervening, pulling her away from that shameless redhead. But before he could even move a finger, he heard her chuckle. "Are you trying to make me buy something by flirting with me, Fred?" she asked, her voice sounding amused. "I'm afraid this is not going to work."

 

For a moment Fred Weasley gaped at her like a fish, before his brown eyes focussed more intensely on her, taking her features in with concentration. "How could you tell I was…" he mumbled before he furrowed his brows and whispered: "Hermione? Is that you?"

 

Merlin, he hoped the girl was not stupid enough to outrightly answer that question. 

 

"Where would be the fun if I told you that?" she replied a moment later, making him think what an unusual answer it was for her. "Anyway, I love what you did here. Some of those products are really extraordinary pieces of magic."

 

“Thank you, stranger,” Fred Weasley said, winking at her. 

 

Miss Granger did not seem impressed. “Did you two do product testing again? Or why are you walking around the shop with one tentacle, instead of an arm? And why does George have a lizard’s arm? Or is this some way to advertise your stuff?”

 

“Do you like our new look?” the boy asked with a grin. 

 

The girl shook her head, sending her long black hair flying. At that, the boy sighed. “Well, pity that,” he said with a lopsided grin. "Because as it looks, George and I are going to keep it for a while longer. Still looking for a cure, you know?”

 

“So you did test your products on yourself again," Miss Granger grumbled, shaking her head in disapproval. "Why don't you go to St Mungo's? I'm sure they could help to undo this."

 

Mr Weasley shook his head. “No, this is us being pranked. Snape did this to us, after we made a bit of fun at the last Order meeting. I guess Georgie and I kind of deserved it, at least that’s what mum told us afterwards.”

 

“Professor Snape did this? He hexed you?” 

 

The boy nodded with a lopsided grin. “Yeah. We’ve tried to undo it for a while now, but as it looks the man is pretty skilled in hexing people. So it might take us a while longer to come up with something. Mum and dad refuse to help, as does Bill.”

 

Miss Granger shook her head. “Have you tried apologizing to him?”

 

Fred Weasley shook his head. "Nope. First, we wanted to try getting rid of this ourselves. Not that we had any success, mind you. But we learned a lot through it, that much is for sure."

 

“See? Even now, that you are out of Hogwarts, he can still give you detention,” the girl said, turning around to him with a smile. “I have to go now, Fred,” she said, walking towards him with an unreadable expression on her face. “But think about what I suggested. Go and apologize.”

 

Fred Weasley followed her with an amused look, Severus realized, while he led the girl out of the colourful story. She hadn’t bought anything, he realized, much to his satisfaction.  

 

Sssssssss

 

“Where do you want to go next?” Professor Snape asked her lowly after they exited the bookstore an hour later. Once more the man had proved what a patient companion he was when it came to browsing bookshelves, sampling way more books than was strictly necessary. Sometimes she found him looking over her shoulder mumbling his opinion of the book, if she was lucky. Hermione found that she enjoyed his recommendations when he gave them.

Now, she had spent way too much money on books but there was one last stop on her list.

"I'd like to go to the pet store," she said, already walking into the right direction. "Then I'm ready to go."

 

“What do you want there? Cat treats?” he asked, making her shake her head with a smile. 

 

"No, Sir. Actually, I'm looking for an owl or maybe another type of messenger bird. Now that my parents are in Germany, I need a way to write to them and I don't want to afflict such long distances on the school owls. There should be other owl breeds more suitable for such  long journey s."

 

The Professor nodded in understanding. "In this case, the pet shop might not be the right place for you. But there is another store about 15 minutes from here. They're selling all kinds of messenger pets and artefacts."

 

Hermione looked at the man with a thankful smile. “Is this where you bought your raven, Sir?” 

 

"No," Professor Snape replied without looking at her. "But I'm still positive they will have what you are looking for. Do you want me to take you there?"

 

“Absolutely!” she said enthusiastically.

 

Half an hour later Hermione had spent way too much money on a pair of two way mirrors the Professor had encouraged her to buy. They weren't as fancy as the one Harry had gotten from Sirius, as they were lacking any kinds of decorations on the frame . They were exactly what she needed . Hermione did not mind it in the least because she had been able to afford them even though she would have to be canny with her money for the rest of the year. But being able to actually talk to her parents and even show them things, was totally worth it.

 

“Was that everything you needed?” the Professor’s deep voice pulled her out of her thoughts and Hermione found herself nodding. 

 

“Yes, Sir.”

 

"Good. I'll have to make another stop on my own. Do you mind accompanying me to a shop in muggle London?" he asked, looking at her with a raised eyebrow. It was strange seeing him with that new face especially, as his expressions were still pretty much the same.

 

“To muggle London? What are you looking for, Sir?” she asked, unable to hide her curiosity. She grimaced internally at her blatant questioning of her Professor. 'Mom was right, I need to stop being so intrusive.'

 

At that, Professor Snape smiled before saying: “A microscope, of course.”



Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: 3 hours, 20 minutes, 35 seconds

 

Physical contact: two times 5 seconds (side-along-apparation)

 

Observations: 

 

Today, I was finally able to purchase a microscope. Going by Miss Granger's enthusiasm at the shop, the girl can not wait for us to modify the device, making it work at the castle . The microscope project will be beneficial to me in many ways . I do have several ideas for suitable spells, but I will talk them through with her first before ruining the thing. Still, I cannot wait to use the device as it will open a whole new perspective on several potion ingredients and their potential uses.

 

The girl has been most adamant about questioning the shopkeeper about several messenger birds. 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. Luckily, she forgot the idea of a messenger raven soon after, sparing me the awkward questions that would have followed, once she realized, that ravens are usually not used for such purposes as delivering letters. Those animals are way too stubborn to do a wizard's bidding. I should have never used my animagus form to meet her in the first place. I'll refrain from using it in her presence in the future and hopefully, with time, she forgets about it altogether.

 

 





Chapter Text

"I take it your trip to London was a success?" Albus asked while studying his stubborn Professor's expression. The man and Ms Granger had returned rather late from their trip yesterday, but considering that the girl had been in a cheerful mood over dinner he surmised, that Severus had behaved and not driven her away, again. Merlin. Making Severus Snape see reason and accept his feelings was more difficult than taming a Hungarian Horntail, or cheering up the Grey Lady. But Albus would not give up, even if it took him months to make his stubborn friend admit his feelings for the girl. Because Albus could feel them simmering deep inside him, burrowed by the man's iron will and determination to feel nothing for the girl, that was, in fact, his soulmate. It was ridiculous, of course, as the girl was biologically speaking already of age, thanks to her extensive use of the time-turner. But maybe it wasn't just the girl's age but also Severus clinging to his childhood friend Lily Evans, that made him reluctant to let himself feel again and that Albus could understand. He had loved once, too, and the pain of his broken heart was memorable enough for him to never love again. But he would have if he had been presented with a kindred spirit like Severus had, as there could be nothing more fulfilling and healing than the unconditional love of one's soulmate and the powers that came with it.

 

"We got everything we were looking for," Severus replied vaguely to his question and Albus could tell that he tried sounding as neutral as possible. Still, there were some telltale signs of the man's improved mental state, signs like his hair, that was frequently washed now, or the fact, that Severus actually drunk his tea instead of scowling at his cup until it was time for him to leave his office again. He had also noticed the man was eating more during mealtimes and it was hopefully only a matter of time, until the man started gaining a bit of weight. It certainly wouldn't hurt, once the stubborn idiot decided finally romancing the Granger-girl.

 

“Good,” Albus commented, a small smile on his face. “I take it there haven’t been any problems as you two went in disguise and were surely careful about revealing your identities.”

 

Again, the man nodded, grunting as a reply.

 

“Good,” Albus said, focussing his staff member with an intensive gaze. “Now, there is something else I’d like to talk to you about. You might remember the little side-project I mentioned a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I could convince Horace to join us for the next school year and to overtake most of your duties. This will hopefully free enough of your time to help me with the task I have for you.”

Convincing Horace to return to Hogwarts had not been easy. Even with young Harry in tow, the former Slytherin had been very hesitant, for good reasons. Horace Slughorn had always strongly opposed Tom Riddle, ever since the boy had taken a turn to the Dark Side and proclaimed himself a Dark Lord. Horace could not have been more disappointed and disapproving of his formerly favourite student. But his strong refusal to support Lord Voldemort brought many enemies for his former Professor, making him constantly run and hide as he feared for his security. Because first and foremost Horace Slughorn was a Slytherin and self-preservation was one of his most pronounced character traits. Luckily, Dumbledore had another ace upon his sleeve, as the prospect of witnessing Kindred Magic unfold for once in his life, had been too tempting to resist for the former Potions Professor. He hadn't even needed to tell the man who the affected persons were, as the man was only too excited to find out himself and invite them into his Slug Club as soon as possible, together with the boy who lived. He said it would be a nice little side-project for him apart from brewing, something to pass his time and Albus, who had a fondness for gossip and teenage drama could totally understand. 

 

Albus could tell that Severus was wary about what came next and he could not blame him. What he wanted him to do wasn’t only difficult, but probably as dangerous as the work, Severus had done for the order. Still, there was no better man to help him with this. 

 

“Help you with what?” he heard the man ask wearily. 

 

Albus smiled. “To kill Tom, of course. Unfortunately doing so will require us destroying several Horcruxes at first. I assume I don’t have to explain that particular piece of Dark Magic to you.”

 

Severus looked at him with a watchful gaze. “Horcruxes you say? Are you sure?”

 

“Unfortunately so. Two of them have already been disposed of, but I do have the unfortunate feeling that there are more…” Albus said with a tired sigh. 

 

“How many?” his young friend shot back, his eyes dark from the attempt to hide his emotions from him. It would have worked, if Albus hadn’t known the boy for years, seeing him at his lowest and learning how to detect the signs of Occlumency. 

 

“That will be your first task to find out. I believe Horace to be in the possession of a certain memory, one that he is too ashamed of sharing with us. I asked him for it once, but all I got was a tampered version of it. I hope you’ll have more luck in finding out that particular piece of information from Horace,” Albus said, a hopeful smile in place. 

 

Severus was a master Legilimens and a Slytherin at that. If there was someone as determined as him to see Tom gone, then it was Severus Snape. 

“And how do you expect me to do that, Albus?” Severus Snape asked him, his eyebrow raised challengingly at him.

 

Albus smiled. “That is entirely up to you, my boy.”

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus poured himself a firewhiskey, before tiredly sinking back on his sofa. It had been a long day for him. Not only were the meetings with Albus always taking a toll on him, but he had also travelled to Germany, delivering one of Miss Granger's two-way-mirrors to her parents. The Granger's had been most delighted to see him and had invited him to stay for lunch, even before they had known about the new means of communication with their daughter. And somehow eating with the two dentists had been agreeable, as both Granger's were intelligent and well-read, making excellent conversation partners. They treated him most friendly, which was strange considering they only met each other a few weeks ago. But Severus did not let it phase him and instead patiently chatted with them, until he could bid his farewell, without insulting them by going too soon.

 

Now he was happy to finally sit down and enjoy the peace and quiet of his quarters, getting the chance to digest the information Albus had given him. If Voldemort had indeed created an unknown number of Horcruxes, killing him would be almost impossible. Still, they had to try if they hoped to finally have peace and equality in the wizarding world. No matter how much he had supported the man’s ideals in the past, through the Grangers Severus had learned, that there were indeed decent Muggled out there, people that were nothing like his father. And even though he had always known theoretically, that there had to be decent muggles out there, he now finally had proof. He could not let Voldemort rule Britain, suppressing muggles and muggle-born alike. But to prevent that, one would have to kill the Dark Lord, once killing him was even possible.

 

With a deep sigh, Severus took a sip from his glass, before swirling the amber coloured liquid while contemplating his options. Regaining that memory from old Slughorn would be … difficult. It was years since he last saw the man and even though Severus had once been a member of the man’s Slug Club, he could not imagine still being overly popular with him. He was neither rich nor famous and to make things worse he had also joined the Death Eaters in his youth. Slughorn would not appreciate this and therefore he would probably keep his distance from him. But for handing over that memory to him, Severus would need the man to trust him. Or wouldn’t he?

 

A knock at his office door pulled him out of his thoughts. Who had the audacity to disturb him at such an hour? It wasn't like there were too many people at the castle, to begin with, so Miss Granger was possibly the most likely visitor. But what did she want?

Severus hastily put his glass of firewhiskey aside and hurried into his office. Only that it had not been Miss Granger, knocking at his office door, but Fred and George Weasley, standing in front of his office door with an apologetic smile on their face. He stared at them with a dark expression.

“What do you want?” he asked, not in the mood to deal with the annoying pranksters right now. 

 

“We’d like to apologize to you, Sir,” one of them said, a friendly smile plastered on his face. 

 

“...and to ask you if you could possibly undo the curse on our arms. It was fun at the beginning, but slowly it starts getting annoying,” the other one said, a crooked smile on his lips. Severus looked at them with a sneer. 

 

“Is that so?” he replied, his voice giving none of his emotions away. 

 

The tentacled twin nodded. “I swear we’ve learned our lesson. No Limb Limbos and no more making fun of you, Sir,” he swore, making the matching gesture with his hand. Severus looked at him with a measuring gaze. He’d love to let them stew a bit longer, but the both of them would probably go whining to one of their siblings and then Miss Granger would know. And he could not afford to drive the girl away from him again, not after it had taken all his finesse and patience to win her back. 

 

“Let me be clear with you Messer's Weasley. If you ever go against my wishes again, I will ensure that you can hear your parents shagging whenever it happens. No matter if it’s day, or night, you’ll have those images in your head and nothing will make them go away,” he growled and saw their eyes go wide. But he wasn’t finished. “Nothing will help, not even Dreamless Sleep. And next time I won’t that easily lift the curse. Therefore, I recommend thinking before doing anything stupid in my presence again."

 

The red-headed idiots nodded vehemently , the horror and nausea evident on their faces. “Don’t worry Sir, we learnt our lesson,” they swore in unison, their faces serious for once. Good. They would not cross him again, Severus thought, pulling out his wand and silently undoing the curse on their arms. He almost hoped they would be stupid enough to mess with him again, because trying out that particular curse, which he had designed as a desperate teenager with Sirius Black in mind, would surely be a most interesting experience. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Hermione had thought that her days of privately working with Professor Snape were over and here she was, back in his private lab, a microscope resting in front of her on the table. The man had outdone himself and bought an expensive one, with many and high amplifications and he had not hesitated to add a generous amount of equipment. Now they only had to get the thing to work. 

 

“We’ll need to find a way to add a magical light source into the microscope,” Hermione mumbled, staring at the device in concentration. “I don’t think casting bluebell flames would work. We need a light that can be dimmed and that gives a constant amount of light.”

 

The Professor nodded with furrowed brows. “Maybe if we find a way to infuse the light bulb with magical energy? But I guess the Muggle technology would not be able to transfer and use it.” He rubbed his chin. “But as far as I know there are some magical crystals that show the ability to emanate light. If one could infuse those with magical energy… and then charm them accordingly…”

 

“That could work!” Hermione exclaimed excitedly. “What a brilliant idea!”

 

The Professor looked at her with a small smile. "Why, thank you, Miss Granger. It could be a problem procuring such a crystal, as they seem to be quite rare. We should also try to get one that is still in its original state. We best avoid using one, that has already been tampered with.”

 

Hermione nodded with a hum. “Right. But there are surely places where those crystals are still growing, right? Could those places be noted in a book? If so, I could go through the library if that would help.”

 

“I will join you,” her Professor replied calmly. “This way we’ll be faster and there are some dangerous books in there, that I don’t want you to touch, even though you’re allowed to do so by now. And as Madame Pince is not at the castle right now...” 

 

"Of course, Sir," Hermione replied in a serious tone. "We could start right now, if you like." But then she got aware that this was not for her to decide and she hastily added: "Or any other day. You're deciding whatever is best for you, Sir."

 

At that she found Professor Snape smiling at her. “Today fits my plans rather nicely, I think. We could head there right away, if you like.”

 

Hermione nodded with an excited smile. “I’d love to.”

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus looked at the sleeping girl with a smile. It was the second time she had fallen asleep in his presence within days, he thought with a headshake. But somehow he also found that he did not mind. 

They had stayed at the library until it was rather late, Miss Granger totally engrossed in their research, tirelessly skimming book after book. He had known she was a bookworm, much like himself, and therefore he wasn’t surprised how enjoyable he found her silent presence while researching their shared project. It was almost like combing through the library with Lily as a teenager. Before their fallout, this was where they met most frequently, doing homework together or simply studying. He had loved those hours full of creativity and concentration, enjoyed having someone to share his passion for books. Only that Lily had one day no longer been there, the place at his side empty for many years.

Now, there was suddenly her. Hermione Granger had somehow started to fill the emptiness that Lily had left in his heart, not romantically of course, but as a silent companion and an intellectual equal. Over the course of the last weeks, he had seen her maturing and by now he realized that she truly started to become a woman, instead of a girl. 

 

He should probably wake her, he thought but on the other hand, this was his chance to enjoy her presence a little bit longer, satisfying the strange urge to be in her presence that he felt ever since the link between them had been established. And who knew? Maybe he would find something in the next book, if he stayed a little while longer? 

 

With a smile he got up from his seat and unbuttoned his robe, carefully covering the sleeping girl with it a moment later. As the library currently wasn't officially open, it was not heated and could get terribly cold during the nights, even in summer. But his robe would keep the girl warm and comfortable, while he went through some more books on magical minerals and geography. He had the feeling they were close to finding the answer, the answer that would bring them one step further to finishing the first magical microscope, a discovery that could potentially reform pioneering. And they would have discovered it together , he and Miss Granger. If that wouldn’t bring them closer together he didn’t know what else would. 

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione awoke two hours later in an armchair, she was disoriented and confused. The room was dark, apart from a little bluebell flame that was glowing in a glass to her right side. Its light was illuminating several bookshelves, painting them in a ghostly, bluish light. And suddenly she remembered that she was in the library, where she had fallen asleep over a book. Professor Snape was probably long gone, the only thing remaining from him was his black robe. He must have thrown it over her sleeping body, in the attempt to warm her and indeed it had. Professor Snape's heavy woollen robe was comfortably warm and big enough to cover her from head to toe. It smelled of him, she realized, a spicy, herbal scent that comforted and at the same time infatuated her. Before she knew it, she found herself burying her nose in the rough material, inhaling deeply before sighing with satisfaction. One deep breath was enough for her, to feel herself relax, a deep boneless satisfaction coming over her, that made her want to roll together, burying herself under those robes and fall back asleep again. It didn't matter that she was still at the library, as she did not want to leave behind the Professor's robes anytime soon. But of course, this wasn't an option. He would want them back, rather sooner than later and burying herself in his robes any longer would not help her to ban those thoughts from her head - thoughts that kept returning whenever she did not pay attention - like now. 

With a sigh she pulled herself up from the armchair, carefully putting his robes aside, positioning them over the armrest. Should she just leave them here? Or ask a house-elf to take them to him? Or should she do so herself? Before she could make up her mind, her eyes fell on a little book on the floor, right next to her armchair. Had Professor Snape forgotten to put one of his books back? Or had he found something and left this book for her to read? It didn’t look like a library book though, more like a classic Muggle-notebook with a black cover. Hermione frowned. Did this belong to Professor Snape? It was possible. It was probably best if she checked, because if this was his, she could return it to him together with his robes. 

Making a quick decision, Hermione picked the book up from the floor and with a small smile she opened the first page. She immediately recognized his spidery handwriting as her eyes ghosted over the word and she read:

 

A scientific study on Kindred Magic

By Severus Tobias Snape

 

Test subject: Hermione Jean Granger

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Chapter Text

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?




Sssssssss

 

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…

'Never wanted.'

...I am sure I will find a way to manipulate her accordingly…

'How Slytherin.'

...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. 

 

Ssssssss

 

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. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: none

Physical contact: none

Observations: 

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. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It took Hermione one night of crying her eyes out to come up with the idea to use the Room of Requirements for her research. It was one thing for Professor Snape to despise her, to use her, but withholding knowledge about a condition that affected both of them was more than she was willing to take from him , let alone forgive . Hermione needed to know about the Link that connected them against their will because never again would she make a fool out of herself by stumbling blindly to his quarters, not even being aware of what brought her there in the first place . No, if she would have to see him, she wanted to know exactly how often and to what extent, because she would keep their contact at a bare minimum if she really could not avoid it. But there had to be alternatives, right? They could not be the first persons affected by Kindred Magic and somewhere those other cases must have been documented. Unfortunately, Professor Snape had taken all the books from the library, but luckily Hermione knew of another place where she would find answers.

 

It wasn’t long ago that they had used the Room of Requirements for their DA meetings and by now Hermione knew the best ways to reach it by heart. Therefore going there without meeting Professor Snape was child’s play, especially since he had no reason to expect her anywhere near the seventh floor. Her requirement for the room was clear. “I need a place where I can find everything about Kindred Magic,” she chanted, walking up and down the floor and the room did not disappoint. Hermione was greeted by a cosy little reading room with a soft, red armchair in the middle and a little shelf with about twenty books. It wasn’t much, but way more than she could have hoped to find on her own. 

"Thank you," she whispered into the room, even though she was not sure if it would be heard before sitting down, a little smile on her face. She'd probably spend the days until the new school year started here, reading everything the room provided. She was pretty sure the house-elves would gladly provide her with enough food to avoid meals in the Great Hall altogether. It probably wouldn't be possible, due to her unfortunate connection to Professor Snape, but she would very well try.

 

Ssssssss

 

Time of exposure: none

 

Physical contact : none

 

Observations:  

 

It is the second day of not having seen Miss Granger and I feel myself getting antsier with every second that passes without me seeing the girl. Earlier, I went to her room in the hope to speak to her, because I do have the unmistakable feeling that something is wrong. A plausible explanation is her having read the book so that she is now attempting to avoid me. I do hope I am wrong, but one can only appoint so much of her behaviour to her preparing for school or her missing her parents, which was Dumbledore's excuse for her absence today. I find myself suspecting that the Headmaster knows more about Miss Granger's whereabouts than he is willing to share with me, which is more than a little annoying. But rushing in and demanding answers is rarely the right way to seek knowledge and therefore I am willing myself to stay patient, even though my feet keep carrying me aimlessly through the castle, pacing corridors up and down, before I catch myself and force myself to go back to my chambers. More than once I even ended up on the seventh floor today and Merlin knows that I usually do not even frequent this part of the castle. But it does not matter.

I am sure tomorrow Miss Granger will come down for meals, she has to, or I’ll need another way to seek her out. I am unsure of how to approach her, though, as I am still uncertain how much she knows. Therefore I am better off treading very carefully around her. 

 

Ssssssss

 

On the third day, Hermione found that she could no longer stay away and had to attend at least one meal - maybe even more of them - to satisfy the bond between her and the Professor. She could only guess that he, too, felt the effects of her self-isolation by now but she could not be bothered to care. At least he would be aware what happened to him, much different than herself when it happened to her after her injury. Therefore, she could not feel sorry for him and instead felt some sort of grim satisfaction for being able to pay him back, at least a little. It would only be a few more days until the new term started and when it did, Hermione had to be ready and composed enough, to face Professor Snape on a regular basis, during mealtimes as well as during the lessons. She could only hope that this contact would be enough to satisfy the bond because she really did not want to see him in private, not after she learned that he could barely stand her presence and only did so to satisfy their Kindred Magic.

 

When Hermione arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast, all of the staff members were already seated and she resumed her position at the small table with a murmured greeting and a nod towards the Headmaster. The old man looked back at her with a kind smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. Professor Dumbledore probably knew that something was up, as he seemed to be aware of their magic connecting them, but he hadn’t said anything to her and Hermione was thankful for it. 

She ate her breakfast as slowly as possible and even though Professor sat across from her at the table, his presence there seemed to be enough to make her feel better, at least physically. She could feel his eyes on her from time to time but she decidedly did not look up or converse, as she simply lacked the energy for polite small talk right now.

When she had finally emptied her plate and felt well enough to retreat again, she got up with a nod towards the headmaster and slowly walked out of the room. She barely made it into the seventh floor, as Professor Snape's voice alerted her from behind.

 

“Miss Granger,” he called her and she could hear his steps rapidly approach from behind. “A word, if you please.”

 

Hermione felt herself stiffen, her feet pausing to take another step. She could do this, she told herself and took a deep calming breath. She could face him without embarrassing herself.

 

“Sir?” she asked, slowly turning around and looking at him with her brows raised questioningly. 

 

It was only seconds later that he had caught up with her, his long legs enabling him to walk much faster than her, without even getting out of breath. “You haven’t been at meals lately,” he said, his dark eyes fixing her intensely. 

 

She willed herself to stay as calm as possible. “I have not.” 

 

That was all he got from her, but he did not seem satisfied in the least. “I was told you were busy with preparing for the new term,” he said evenly. 

 

“I was,” she lied. “And still am.”

 

He stared at her contemplatively. "I was hoping to continue looking for light crystals before I'll be busy with teaching again. Do you think you could join me for that?"

 

Hermione did not even blink. “No. You’ll have to continue on your own, Professor,” she said, without much emotion. “As I said, I am preparing for the new term.”

 

He stepped closer, his eyes never leaving her face as she did. “And you have been lying,” he said, his voice almost a growl.

 

She forced herself to not back away from him but hastily remembered to hide her thoughts in case he would try to use Legilimency on her. The books also suggested that it would help to keep her emotions in check. He would not intimidate her or agitate her in whatever way. "So have you," Hermione replied, her voice deadly calm. "Good day, Professor Snape."

 

She tore her eyes away from him and without another word she turned around and started to walk away from him. She half expected for him to hold her back, to demand answers or chastise her for her lack of respect, but luckily he did not. There was no response for him at all, Hermione found, hastily walking around the next corner. Professor Snape did not follow her and she felt nothing but relief at that - she thought.

 

Ssssssss

 

She knew, Severus thought with an internal curse. Miss Granger knew and probably avoided him as a consequence of reading his fucking journal, a journal he couldn’t even call scientific any longer. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Albus had warned him that his secrecy would endanger what little progress they had made, and of course, the old man had been right. 

 

The feeling of experiencing Deja vú hit him with a force that made him stumble. He had fucked up, again , but this time things seemed even more hopeless than they had been with Lily. He and Lily had been friends, they had years of history behind them and it still had not helped him one iota to mend bridges with her. And what he had done to Miss Granger - what he had called her - was indefinitely worse. What was he supposed to do now?  Memories of him begging for Lily’s forgiveness in front of the Gryffindor common room came rushing back to him. He had wanted her forgiveness so badly and still had not gotten it. No, he had humiliated himself and made himself a laughing stock once, but he would not do so again. He was an adult now, a Professor nonetheless and he could not afford to lose face in front of his students. 

 

Still, he would have to do something to make her understand and forgive him because now that the whole mess had come to bite him in the arse, he realized, what an idiot he had been. Weeks ago he had realized that he wanted the girl at his side, in whichever way possible. Yes, he could not romance her, yet , but he still wanted her close and not only because of the bond that connected them. He had started to genuinely like her, to appreciate her intelligence, bravery and kindness. He still wanted her, as a research partner, friend or lover, someday, and he would take whatever she was willing to give. Right now that unfortunately would not be much. But with time, Miss Granger would hopefully realize that they would have to see each other from time to time and as soon as the chance arose, he would talk to her and explain.

 

Luckily the girl had a forgiving nature, as several fallouts with Potter and Weasley had shown. Those two idiots had treated her like shit more than once, but the girl had always forgiven them. This let him hope that she would forgive him, too, maybe not right away but with time. Yes, he was a proud man, but for her, he would not be too proud to apologize, after having planned his argumentation very carefully .



Ssssssss

 

The field of Kindred Magic was fascinating, Hermione found while putting the third book on the topic aside. It was some sort of diary written by a young witch named Viola, that must have been about her age when she found out about being connected to a man, Damian, who was two years her senior. There were interesting parallels with her own story, Hermione found, for example, that Viola had been hurt right before their connection was discovered. They, too, had felt the pull towards each other but Damian had left Hogwarts soon after, while Viola was forced to stay.

 

Somehow those two had survived being parted from one another, Viola stating that she had gotten used to his absence, the pain coming with it lessening day by day.

For Hermione, this information was a good start.

 

Two books later she discovered, that the relationship of the linked partners seemed to have a strong effect on the bond, too. There seemed to be many influencing factors for its strongness but a certain amount of trust and sympathy seemed to be needed for an establishment and preservation of the bond. Yes, a “kindred spirit”, how it was known and found among muggles, was key, but the more Hermione read, the more she realized that being alike was only one part of the puzzle. There were ways to undo the bond and her having lost her trust in him was probably the explanation of why she had been more or less fine for two days without even seeing him. From what she had read in the Professor’s notes, he hadn’t managed to stay away from her nearly as long. This indicated some sort of progress in undoing the bond, did it not?

 

Hermione sighed. That information wasn't a solution in the long term, but they were at least a start to make the next days and weeks more bearable. She would only have to see the Professor from time to time, mealtimes would probably be enough and there, Professor Snape barely said a word. Therefore it would be easy enough to ignore him. It wasn't long until the new term started and as soon as Harry and Ron would be back at the castle, things would hopefully be more… normal again.

 

Ssssssss



It was on her way back from the Room of Requirements, that Hermione was suddenly gripped from behind and yanked into a near alcove. She did not even have a chance to resist, her attacker’s grip too tight to have a chance to move away, so all she could do was scream. But as the school was still closed, there was no chance that anybody would hear - not at this deserted part of the castle. 

A moment later her back was crushed against the wall, not really hard enough to hurt, but enough to squeeze the air from her lungs. That’s when she saw him. Professor Snape stood right in front of her, his black eyes boring into her with a mix of anger and desperation.

"You've been avoíding me," he growled while gripping her shoulders. "Don't you realize that we need each other?"

 

Hermione looked at him with wide eyes, her heart racing in her chest. “I don’t need you,” she mumbled, unable to tear her eyes away from him.

 

“No? Does this mean you don’t feel this ache in your heart? This longing? Because I most certainly do,” he said, his thumb slowly stroking the base of her neck. “And I think you do too, even though you’re adamant to admit it.”

 

Hermione wanted to tell him to let her go, to stop touching her, but she found that she couldn’t. He was right, she had been longing for him, longing for his presence and for his touch, even though it was complete madness, after what she had recently learned.  

“No, it’s true. I don’t need your presence to feel content and neither do you need mine. You can’t even stand me,” Hermione exclaimed and started to struggle against his grip. “Now let me go, Sir!”

 

“No,” he said, his hands holding her firmly while he made another step towards her so that she could soon feel his firm, lean body against hers. “We need to talk about this, about us, because we know both that you’re lying - that I’ve been lying to myself. I need you Hermione and I want you in ways that I most definitely shouldn’t.” 

 

She stared at him speechlessly, no longer struggling against his grip. “No, Sir, you’re lying,” she said, even though her heart started to believe him. “You’re just saying this because of the bond, you're…” 

But she didn’t get any further as a moment later his lips sealed her mouth and pulled her in a hungry kiss. One of his legs snaked between hers and he pressed himself against her, his manhood clearly showing the truth of his words. He did want her and Merlin, she wanted him back. 

 

“I’m done lying, Hermione,” he said, his eyes focussing on her once more.  “I’m done denying those feelings, because I’ve decided to no longer hide things from you. God help me, girl, I want you, I want everything you’re willing to give me.”

 

“I…” Hermione did not know what to say, her mind bussing with this new information and the different feelings that were raging through her: confusion, disbelief, hope, longing… there were so many things she felt and was unable to express. But Professor Snape did not seem discouraged by her lack of verbal response. His hands started to wander from her shoulders up to her face, which he cupped with both hands, his eyes seeking out her’s as if to ask for permission. 

 

"I will not touch you if that is not what you want," he whispered and even though she clearly felt his arousal, she believed him. "Just tell me to stop and I will."

His mouth was only inches away as he waited for her answer. She could feel his breath tickle her, tempt her. It was only moments until she gave in, her mouth closing the small distance that was left between them and he welcomed her with an eager kiss. His mouth opened up for her, his tongue teasing, licking and tempting until she could feel her legs get shaky. But his hands travelled down her sides and cupped her waist, before pressing her against the wall and holding her steady. 

 

It was minutes until they broke apart, both breathing heavily after having deprived themselves of oxygen for far too long. She did not care, because kissing him felt like nothing she had experienced before. And suddenly she realized that she did indeed want him back.

 

Ssssssss

 

Hermione awoke with a gasp only to realize that it had all just been a dream. Seven hells, and what a dream it was. She could have sworn that her lips still tingled from the kisses Professor Snape had just given her, her heart still racing from the intensity of their encounter. Only that there had been no encounter, to begin with. Professor Snape despised her, the words in his journal being the unmistakable proof.

This dream was probably just her subconsciousness’ attempt to deal with her self-isolation, as seeing him for mealtimes might not have been enough to satisfy the bond. But that did not make this dream any more true. 

Merlin. She had really hoped to be over her feelings for her Professor, but it seemed like this link was working against her, tricked her by letting her believe things that could not be farther from the truth. 

Well, or maybe those dreams were just her way to process things. She would just have to be careful not to confuse them with the truth and she would definitely not read anything into them. Because Professor Snape admitting his feelings for her was nothing more than wishful thinking. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus had hoped that dreaming of Miss Granger was a thing of the past, as he hadn’t had one of those dreams ever since he had allowed himself to vent some sexual energy by taking matters in his own hands - so to speak. It had worked perfectly for weeks and by now he had almost perfected the skill of occluded wanking. So where had this dream come from?

Luckily he'd at least had a few hours of good sleep and after a cold shower, he'd hopefully be able to function for the day. There was still lots of time until breakfast, but he would spend it by reading in his favourite armchair. It wouldn't be long until he had to teach stupid dunderheads again, which meant that reading in the mornings wasn't possible for much longer. So he'd better make good use of the time he had left.

 

 

Chapter Text

The last days of summer break dragged on with painful slowness. Hermione spent most of her time in the Room of Requirements while she forced herself to eat meals in the Great Hall with the staff. It was enough to keep the unpleasant side-effects of her self-isolation at bay, well apart from those dreams. They came back to her night by night and made her wake up sweaty and aching for more. But she refused to touch herself after having dreamt of a man who did not even like her. She would not fuel those feelings for him by giving in and fantasizing about something she could never have - not that she wanted to, after the things Professor Snape had done and didn’t even seem to regret. 

Still, something kept nagging her in the back of her mind and after having awoken from yet another similarly agitating dream, she suddenly knew what it was. When she had first entered Professor Snape’s private quarters she had not realized it right away, but now she remembered that she had seen his sofa before - in one of those dreams . Suddenly, she was wide awake, her heart hammering with panic in her chest. Could it be that they shared those dreams through the bond - that he had them, too? Merlin, she hoped not, because this would give this current madness a whole new, mortifying perspective. But Hermione guessed, there was only one way to find out and she hastily slipped on her nightgown. She would go back to the Room of Requirements and do some research because sleep would not come for her anytime soon after this discovery.

 

One hour and one book later Hermione was certain. Again, the Room of Requirements had provided her with the book she needed and it had not taken her long to find the answers she sought. But they did not make her feel better in the least, because now she knew that dreams containing the both of them were usually shared and dreamt by both partners of the bond. It did not mean that they were any more realistic for that, as one could only influence small portions of the dream. That did not make her feel any better, though. Professor Snape was experiencing those dreams with her. He was dreaming of kissing her, touching her and desiring her. Sweet Merlin. She could only pray that he was not aware of this fact. Looking at him and bracing his lessons would be hard enough as it was.



Ssssssss



Severus watched from the teacher's table as student after student started filling the Great Hall, each of them eager for the Welcoming Feast to start. He could spot Weasley, a wide grin on his face, as he joined Miss Granger at the Gryffindor table after hugging her way longer than it was appropriate, he thought. The girl did not seem to mind though, as she closed her arms around him with almost as much enthusiasm, a pleased smile playing at her lips. Had those two been this close last year?

More than once he had found himself wondering how it would be to simply hold her, encircling her with his arms, while his nose was buried in her curls. It was what those recent dreams left him aching for, this and her forgiveness, which he had at night only to be snatched away from him in the mornings, after he had woken up. Getting her forgiveness was always so easy in his dreams, usually, he kept convincing her of the truth of his feelings by kissing her until she whimpered against his mouth - until she forgave him. But as far as dreams went, the reality would not allow him to do such a thing, especially as he wasn't sure if Miss Granger would even welcome his advances. It was more likely that Minerva would be having words with him, soon after, and no amount of conciliation from Albus would stop her from having his balls. Fuck!

 

He needed to find another way to convince her, that he did care for her and that he indeed was sorry for what he had done. But how to do that without crossing the invisible line between teacher and student was beyond him. It was what he mulled over for days, without finding a solution. And now the last precious days of summer break were gone, without him having said a word to her. Morgana's tits! Even finding a chance to talk to her undisturbed would be hard enough with all those morons flooding the castle now. 

 

Severus’s eyes drifted through the crowd. Potter and Malfoy were strangely absent and he could not help but ask himself if he’d already be forced to give his first detentions for the year. He would not be surprised if the two of them had gotten in trouble, probably even with each other. Their rivalry strongly reminded him of James and himself, only that it wasn’t quite clear who was taking James’ place in this peculiar comparison. 

 

“Well, Severus, isn’t it lovely to be back at the castle?” Slughorn’s voice pulled him out of his musings. The man had gotten even more massive throughout the last years, even though Dumbledore had stated the old fart had been on the run. Must have been a slow run then, Severus thought, his mouth twitching with amusement. “I hope you won’t hold it against me that the Headmaster has offered me your old position.”

 

Severus schooled his features into a friendly smile. Dumbledore had given him a task concerning old Horace and he’d want the man to feel unworried about having Severus as a competition. If he wanted a good chance to get this memory from him, he’d need him to feel safe enough to relax in his presence. 

 

“The Headmaster has found that my talents are needed elsewhere, Professor. There is no reason to begrudge you anything, as I have finally gotten the chance to try my hand in Defense against the Dark Arts - a topic, I have taken an interest in long ago.” It was the truth. Severus was actually quite happy to no longer be forced to teach potions, as most students were either free of talent or enthusiasm which made those hours hard enough to bear. 

 

“Very good, very good,” old Slughorn exclaimed, his saggy cheeks wobbling as he nodded. “You can call me Horace now, of course. We’re colleagues now, aren’t we?” Slughorn laughed, before taking a generous swig of the wine, the house-elves provided for his dinner. 

“I always found you were one of the most talented and promising students from my collection. Pity, that you did not put those talents to good use. But I guess not all of us can end up in politics, can we?” 

 

With that, Severus felt a massive hand clap his shoulder and he immediately stiffened in discomfort. It was probably only meant as a friendly gesture, but it still took all of his self-control to not sneer at the man for his touchiness. “I found that not all of us have the desire to be famous,” he said, schooling his features into a mask of indifference. “As some do prefer to make use of their talents far away from the spotlight. But that does not mean, they have any less of an impact. Teaching those dunderheaded students is surely not what I envisioned myself doing, but I find myself unencumbered by my duties as a professor from time to time. Those moments are filled with experiments and inventions that strike me on a regular basis. And the patents I am holding do make for a nice, additional income.

 

"True, true," Slughorn admitted with a sigh before he finally removed his clammy hand from Severus' robes. Severus was sure he had wanted to say something else, but his concentration was broken by Potter and Malfoy, entering the Great Hall after dinner had already started. Much to Severus' satisfaction James's son sported a bloody nose as he made his way to the Gryffindor table where he was greeted with worried expressions from his friends. "This is Harry Potter, is it not?" Slughorn inquired, a hesitant undertone in his voice.

 

“Indeed,” Severus confirmed as neutrally as possible. Then he decidedly started savouring the food on his plate. Luckily his colleague got the hint and refrained from bothering him any longer. 



Ssssssss

 

“Merlin Harry, what happened ?” Hermione found herself asking, as soon as she and the boys had found themselves a silent corner in the Gryffindor common room. Hermione had moved back into the dorm this morning, the house-elves had been more than eager to help her with the luggage she needed to transfer back. Some things she left behind, knowing that Professor Dumbledore had allowed her to continue to use the room even though the new school year had started. But Hermione did not want to put too much attention on the fact, that she was now a permanent resident of the castle and therefore she would only use her private room in emergencies. 

 

“Malfoy,” Harry said and gruffly rubbed his chin. She had asked him the same question during dinner, but her friend had only mumbled the name of his rival, before putting her off until after dinner. “I’ve been watching him in the Hogwarts Express.”

 

Hermione looked at her friend with furrowed brows. “Why?” 

 

“Long story,” Ron mumbled next to her on the sofa and Hermione got the feeling that he already knew the full story. But luckily both of her friends did not hesitate to fill her in about their observations in Knockturn Alley. For once, Hermione did not scold them for their reckless behaviour and did not question what Harry had observed, even though something told her that there was more to the story than Malfoy suddenly being a Death Eater. 

 

“So you suspected he was up to something and spied on him in the train?” she summarized and looked at her friend with a raised brow. “Looks like that didn’t go too well.” 

 

Ron next to her snorted, while Harry looked at her with a grumpy smile. “Not really, no,” he muttered, ruffling his black hair. “Still, I just know he’s up to something. I just don’t know what that is…”

 

Hermione looked at him with a supportive smile. “Well, if he hides something, we will find out, alright? We’ll keep out an eye for him, carefully , and now that it’s the three of us again, I’m sure one of us will observe something eventually.” 

 

“Does that mean you believe me?” Harry asked with a hopeful smile and even though Hermione was not thoroughly convinced, she would not tell him that. Not, when she finally had her friends back and needed their support as much as they needed hers. 



Ssssssss

 

They had potions first thing in the morning. Hermione half expected to see Professor Snape when entering the potions classroom, but instead of him, a large, grey-haired man was standing in the middle of the room, looking at the incoming students with happy, friendly eyes. The contrast between him and Professor Snape couldn't have been bigger. Professor Slughorn was probably twice the size of her former potions Professor and he had the aura of a friendly, good-natured grandpa. Where Professor Snape was all edges and unfriendly grunts and sneers, his successor invited them in enthusiastically and wasn't shy to chat to them or answer their questions. It was a refreshing change and even though Hermione had never minded Professor Snape as a teacher, she was sure that the old Professor who took his position now, would do a good job instructing them.

 

Ten minutes into the lesson Harry and Ron suddenly rushed into the room, explaining that they would now be able to join the course, as Professor Slughorn would be satisfied with their OWL scores. The Professor seemed most pleased with their appearance and after lending them some potions books their lesson finally started. 

 

“Now, I was saying, I prepared some concoctions this morning,” The Professor continued while looking at them with a good-natured smile. “Any ideas what these might be?”

Hermione did not even have to look at the displayed cauldrons again, as she had already studied them as soon as she had entered the classroom. Therefore she eagerly raised her hand, before any other student could. 

The Professor looked at her with a pleased smile. “Yes, Miss…?”

 

“Granger, Sir,” Hermione supplied helpfully and stepped forward. She halted at the first cauldron and looked at its contents with concentration. “That one there is Veritasserum. It’s a truth-telling serum,” she explained before motioning to the cauldron to its left. “And that one - it’s terribly tricky to make. This is Amortentia, the most powerful love potion in the world. It’s rumoured to smell different to each person, according to what attracts them,” Hermione continued and took a deep breath.  And truly the smell of it was intoxicating: new parchment, freshly mown grass but also a more earthy smell, that strongly reminded her of Professor Snape. Her eyes widened. Merlin, she could not share that bit of information with the class, she realized and hastily took a step back from the cauldron that tempted her with its intoxicating smell. Without realizing it, she had slowly crept closer, sniffing it and now she could see several other students doing the same. But according to Professor Slughorn’s explanation Amortensia was the most dangerous potion in the room, after all. 

 

A moment later Professor Slughorn closed the cauldron and introduced them to a potion he had brewed as a prize for the best student of this lesson. One small phial of Felix Felices was offered for the student who managed to brew a perfect sample of the Draught of Living Death, a potion Hermione had read about before in Professor Snape’s potion book and which she still remembered by heart. She was sure that with Professor Snape’s help she would indeed be able to brew a perfect potion for Professor Slughorn, as she was sure that the modifications the Half-Blood Prince made, would help her do just that. But should she? Would Professor Slughorn maybe even tell her former potions teacher of her success? Professor Snape would surely make the right connections and know, that she had used his notes to win the prize. 

 

Hermione nervously chewed on her bottom lip, while she could see the students around her start setting up their brewing equipment. She would have to make a decision soon. Without doubt, a dose of liquid luck would be very useful in the dark times that might lay ahead of them. It could save her life, or Harry's life, if they used it wisely.

She nodded. This was the only answer she needed. Soon, there would be a war and she would secure every advantage she could get for her side. If that meant using Professor Snape’s knowledge, which he had freely offered to her, then she would do that. There were more important things than her wounded pride, winning the war and killing You-Know-Who for example. 



Ssssssss






Chapter Text

“You did it, Mione!” Ron said, bouncing excitedly as they made their way back to the Gryffindor tower. “I mean, we always knew you’re brilliant, but even Professor Slughorn seemed to be impressed with you.”

 

Hermione nodded and said: “I think he’s a very good teacher, don’t you think? Many of you did pretty well and Malfoy’s potion was almost as good as mine.”

 

“But yours was better,” Ron said, a happy grin on her face. “What are you gonna do with the Felix Felices now?” 

 

“I’m going to save it. With You-Know-Who being around, one of us will probably be in dire need of a perfect day, don't you think?"

 

“Yeah,” Harry murmured to her right, his eyes focussed on Malfoy, who was walking some metres ahead of them. "We really might. Pity we can't make more. Or can we? Do you have any idea how to brew that stuff?"

 

“No, Felix Felices is a really advanced potion, Harry. It’s definitely not on the curriculum. It probably needs an experienced potion master to brew it,” she said and involuntarily her thoughts drifted back to Professor Snape. Had he ever brewed it, or even used it? It was possible of course, as Professor Snape definitely had the skill to brew such a complicated potion. Would it be possible for him to brew some of it for the Order? It surely wouldn't hurt to have it in the next fight.

 

Ssssssss



As the day progressed, Hermione could feel herself get more and more tired, while she also seemed to be more and more on edge. The reason, of course, was not hard to guess, as Professor Snape now took his meals at the teacher’s table and the increased physical distance to him was probably no longer enough to satisfy what remained of their connection. But it wasn’t of any consequence, she would not seek Professor Snape out, being forced to admit, that she could not stand to stay away from him. It wasn't like he had sought her out, or would, because he had only done so because he had had had no other choice. But now, with their connection weakening, it probably wouldn't be much longer until they would not have to see each other at all. And honestly, it was for the best. Professor Snape would probably never see more in her than the student that had annoyed him for years, and she would not beat herself up over something that she could not have - what exactly that was, she did not dare to formulate. 

 

“Hermione? Are you alright?” Harry’s voice suddenly pulled her out of her musings and when she lifted her eyes from her still untouched plate, she could see him looking at her with concern. "You look kind of peakchy."

 

“I…” she did not even know what to say, as her head was simply buzzing painfully, her thoughts a jumbled mess. “I don’t feel very well,” she mumbled, pushing her plate away. “I think I’ll just go to bed, ‘m not hungry anyway.”

 

“You sure?” Ron asked next to her and she just nodded and rose from her seat. 

 

“Yeah. I probably just need a good sleep and I’ll be better in the morning.” Without another word she turned around and walked out of the Great Hall, unaware of the pair of black eyes, that watched her intensely. She could only hope that sleep indeed would help her recover, even though she started to doubt it. Maybe it was finally time to use that bottle of Dreamless Sleep that Professor Snape had given her. They had DADA first thing in the morning anyway. She just had to make it until then, but going by the ache in her chest, she would unintentionally seek him out before the night was over. It was, like she did not even have a choice. But she had. She would not embarrass herself in front of Professor Snape again by seeking out his door like a stray cat. No, she had a bottle of Dreamless Sleep and she was going to use it. Mabe a night without a dream of him was all she needed. 



Ssssssss

 

“What do you make of young Mister Malfoy’s behaviour, Severus?” Albus asked his new DADA Professor while patiently stirring his cup of tea. “Do you think he still has the task to kill me?”

 

The younger man looked at him with a thoughtful expression in his tired face. “I doubt the Dark Lord has suddenly cancelled the boy’s task, even though he can not hope for him to be successful. I am sure by now he knows, that I have been told of Draco's assignment and therefore will try to stop him. But even if he still thought me on his side, young mister Malfoy never had a very good chance of succeeding. Therefore, I can only conclude that this task is meant as a punishment for the Malfoy family.”

 

“You think Tom set the boy up for failure?” Albus asked while thoughtfully stroking his beard. “He must know, that I would never kill a student .”

 

Severus shrugged silently and once more Albus realized how drawn and spent he looked. A few days ago he had hoped, that his boy, because that’s how he saw him, had finally found his Gryffindor courage again. His and Miss Granger’s trip to Diagon Alley let him hope, that they had finally found some common ground, where their happiness could be sown out. But during the last days, he had seen Miss Granger more and more distance herself from Severus, which could only lead to the conclusion, that Severus had once more taken the wrong path.  

 

“Others might,” the young man finally said, before rubbing his temples with a sigh.

 

Albus nodded. “What do you suggest we do with the boy then? Should we offer him an alternative?”

 

Severus looked at him with a dark expression. "Are you suggesting to make him the new spy of the Order, Albus? To make him my successor in the Dark Lord’s ranks?” the man sneered in evident disapproval.

 

He looked back at his young Professor with a small smile. "Don't you think the boy is worth being offered a way out? He is even younger than you were, before Tom lured you in."

 

“Gah, I'm too tired for this conversation," Severus groaned, rubbing his temples. But his black eyes stayed focussed on him, while he continued: "Draco will never leave his parents behind. Unlike me, he is very focussed on his family, even though his regard for his father might have taken a vast blow during these last months. But it does not matter."

 

Albus nodded. He had expected as much. "We could offer his parents protection if that's what the boy wishes."

 

Severus looked at him with a raised brow. “Could we? Where? Do you want to invite them to Hogwarts as well? Because I can tell you, that you can never be sure if they would not simply try to assassinate you in the attempt to rise in the Dark Lord's graces again." His younger friend sighed tiredly, rubbing his forehead again. "Albus, the whole Malfoy clan has the first and foremost goal to survive. They will not join you, as long as they are not convinced, that we will be on the winning side of this war. If they are, then you might even convince them to join the fight. But their support will not come without making them a good offer, this much I can tell you."

 

Albus smiled at the other man, thankful for his insight. “I see. Well, not everyone is as selfless and dedicated as you, my boy,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “What is your suggestion concerning young Draco then?”

 

“We watch him, closely ,” Severus replied, steepling his fingers in front of his chin. “Time will tell us about the boy’s intentions. We can still approach him later on. I also suggest staying on our watch around the castle. The Dark Lord obviously wants you gone and it is possible, Draco is not the only one tasked to assure that you don’t see the end of the year.”

 

“Then we will be on our watch,” Albus answered with a reassuring nod. 

 

“Is there anything else you wanted?” his favourite Slytherin asked in a tired voice. 

For a moment Albus considered asking him after his problems concerning Miss Granger and the bond, but then he could not see this conversation end well right now. No, he would let Severus be for now and start making his own plans.

 

“No, this would be all for tonight, my boy,” he replied kindly and it was only a moment until Severus Snape stormed out of his office, his robe billowing behind him. Albus followed his retreating figure with his eyes. It was obvious that the man needed help, as he himself seemed either too hesitant or too proud to set things right himself. Therefore it was almost his duty to help his friend out. Luckily he got the feeling that Miss Granger would be far more approachable than the grumpy potions master himself. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus did almost not find the energy to drag his sorry arse out of bed in the morning.  More than once he had considered storming into the Gryffindor tower at night, demanding that Miss Granger come with him. But it didn’t take a genius to realize that this was a shitty idea and would end with his arse getting grilled by an angry Minerva. And that was nothing he ever wanted to experience again - once had been enough. 

Therefore he stayed in his rooms and after many restless hours of pacing and shifting around in bed, he must have fallen asleep. Not that he felt rested in the morning. 

Luckily his first lesson was DADA with the stubborn Gryffindor girl and he planned on making good use of that time. 

 

Severus swept into the classroom and let his eyes travel over the students. Miss Granger was there, sitting in the first row as she usually did. But her eyes were firmly fixed on the table in front of her, avoiding to even look at him. Still, it was not difficult to see how tired she was. There were dark shadows under her eyes and her skin looked pale and waxy, which made her look like she should have been at the hospital wing and not in a classroom. But Severus knew better, as already her physical presence in the room made him feel like he was finally able to breathe again. 

“You’ll be learning some proper defence this year,” he stated, giving his voice its typical emotionless tone. “The last years you’ve had the misfortune to be mostly taught by idiots and imposters, resulting in many of you being next to helpless.”

There were many murmurs throughout the classroom and a snort, coming out of Potter's direction. Of course, the brat felt the need to question him again. "Is there anything you wanted, Potter?" Severus asked in a bored tone.

"Nothing, Sir," the boy replied, even though his resentful, green eyes spoke an entirely different story. But Severus did not care for his input or the fact, that Potter found himself superior in defence. He’d teach him otherwise. 

“This year you will learn to cast silently. Does anyone have an idea why doing so would be desirable for a witch or wizard?” 

Several hands raised, but Miss Granger felt the need to continue ignoring him. He sighed. “Potter?”

“It gives the advantage of your opponent not knowing in advance, what spell you’re casting,” the Gryffindor replied proudly. 

Severus nodded. “Correct. What else?”

The first students started to look at him helplessly, but not all of them. “Mr Malfoy?”

“It assures that self-invented spells can not easily be copied by others,” his godson replied in a proud, nasal tone. 

"Indeed," he confirmed, his eyes scanning the classroom. Miss Granger still was not looking at him, but slowly he could feel the energy flowing back into his body, indicating that her physical presence was enough - for now. Still, this lesson was his chance to assure that both of them would make it through this week. But he sensed that the headstrong Gryffindor attempted to be less than helpful with that. “Any other ideas why casting non-verbally might be beneficial?” He waited for a moment and as no hands raised, he fixed the bushy-haired girl with his dark eyes. “Miss Granger? Any insights on that matter?”

Her eyes snapped up and fixed him with a stubborn glare that made his heart jump for a moment. “It enables you to cast, even after you’ve been silenced in a duel,” she said, without breaking out in her typical long explanations. He nodded with a small, satisfied smile.

"It does," he said, before focussing the rest of the students again. Now that he had driven home the importance of non-verbal casting, he went on to explain the process itself. To his satisfaction, he saw many students listen attentively, even Potter who seemed eager to improve his duelling skills. Good. It appeared the brat wasn't as lazy in defence, as he had been in potions.

“Split up in pairs and start practising”, he instructed, knowing that there was an uneven number of students. It was the chance he had been waiting for. “Miss Granger, you’ll be practising with me.”

It was the second time her eyes focussed on him and this time he could read not only fierceness but also surprise in them. He half expected her to resist, but she did not say a word and just rose from her seat to walk towards him, with her head raised proudly. 

Severus waited until all the students had started practising before he led her to the back of the room. "Take your position, Miss Granger," he said calmly. "Start casting as soon as you feel ready to do so."

Only a small nod indicated, that she had heard him. But it was enough for him right now. As long as she did not outwardly refuse to work with him, he would still count it as progress. 

He felt her eyes fixing him in concentration and for about a minute nothing happened. Then, suddenly he felt her magic lick over him and he felt her curse building before she managed to cast it. Be blocked her stunner non-verbally, without even making use of his wand. 

"Good," he commented calmly. Of course, she was the first student to manage a non-verbal spell. No surprise here. "Again.”

The girl glared at him. This time she managed the spell faster, but he blocked it effortlessly nonetheless. "Good. Now try defending yourself," he said and pulled out his wand. For a moment she saw her flinch, but she hastily composed herself and stared at him defiantly. He gave her a moment to concentrate before he disarmed non-verbally and caught her wand with an experienced motion. He did not comment on her failure, just offered her the wand in his hand. She'd have to collect it from him, when she wanted it back, but he could tell that coming close enough to do so was not what she wanted to do.

"Try again," Severus said, in an almost bored tone and waited for her to approach. For a moment Miss Granger just stared at him, before her eyes hardened and she walked towards him with her chin raised proudly. She plucked her wand out of his hands, turned and walked back to her position, her back ramrod straight. He waited for her to collect herself, as her agitation was clearly visible on his face. It was only a moment before she was forced to collect her wand from him again. Severus smiled.

“Looks like there is still some room for improvement here, Miss Granger. Let's swap roles for now. Obviously, you are more comfortable attacking, right now," he stated, a small smile on his face. He did not have to wait long for her first spell to connect with his shield. When he blocked it again, he saw something in her expression shift and a moment later he could feel her ire turn on him. What followed was a rapid succession of stunners, aimed at him with growing vigour and speed. He blocked them, one by one without comment, but he could tell that something had snapped within her and her anger had finally found a way out. Miss Granger did not even seem aware of her surroundings any longer, as her caramel brown eyes were now trained at him, as her wand spit out spell after spell, no word leaving her mouth but her eyes aflame with fire. Severus could tell, that the class had gotten aware of the little show her classmate so willingly displayed and when he saw them grouping behind her with stunned expressions on their faces, he raised his hand and told her: "Enough."

It was, like she had not even heard him. The next stunner left her wand only seconds later, the class gasping at her blatant ignorance of his command. He blocked her spell without much effort. That's enough," he repeated himself, only to earn himself another curse. He could not let this go on, he realized, while blocking the spell. "Miss Granger! Enough!", he shouted, his voice hard as steel.

The effect was immediate. It was like the girl awoke from some kind of trance, as her eyes suddenly snapped away from him, widening in horror at the realization of what she had done a moment later. It was probably the first time she had outwardly defied a teacher, he realized as his black eyes settled on her. 

"I expect you to obey, when I tell you to cease the fight," he stated, his eyes focussing on her a moment, before they moved on to the other students. "That goes for all of you. We would not want any unfortunate accidents, at least not more than strictly necessary."

“Yes, Sir,” the class chorussed. A grim smile formed on his face and he turned towards his stubborn bond-mate. “Miss Granger, obviously you still need to learn the importance of following orders as soon as they are given ,” he stated and he saw her cheeks pinken with embarrassment. “You’ll be in detention with me for the rest of the week and hopefully you will remember to do better, next time.”

He saw her eyes widen at the realization that she would spend the evening with him but at the same time, he could feel their bond tingle with satisfaction.

“Yes, Sir,” she mumbled as a reply, her caramel brown eyes avoiding to make contact with him. 

"Good. For the next lesson, I expect ten inches on the advantages and disadvantages of non-verbal casting," he said dismissing the class. One by one the students trudged out of the room, Miss Granger flanked by her two Gryffindor heroes. He watched her go, knowing, that she would be back in his study in the evening. Now he just needed a good way to explain things to her, or to win back her trust, without imitating his recurring dreams and crossing the fine line between teacher and student. It was easier said than done.

 

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you did this Hermione,” Ron said in a disbelieving tone while they were walking towards their Transfiguration class. “I mean, I get it. Snape’s a git and all that, but he’ll make you pay for attacking him like that and making him look like a fool.”

“Yeah,” Hermione mumbled while staring at the floor in dismay. How could she have lost her restraint like that? Attacking him had just felt good , in a way that made her feel embarrassed now. There were just so many feelings she had bottled up over the last days and now there was finally this way out for them. While throwing spell after spell towards him she could pretend that she, too, was able to hurt him, as he had hurt her. Not that she’d ever had the chance to land a hit, to begin with. “I don’t know why I did that,” she said. “It just felt so good to curse him, you know?”

The boys snorted. “Course we do,” Ron said and squeezed her shoulder.

Harry, at her other side, nodded. “Yeah. He’s singled you out again. You did not deserve that. It’s like he knew what happened in the Department of Mysteries. But I guess his Death Eater friends have been bragging about it.”

Hermione sent him a doubtful look. “He’s no longer a Death Eater, Harry,” she mumbled. “Don’t you know?”

“Know what?” her friends chorused, staring at her curiously.

Hermione sighed. There wasn’t enough time for a lengthy explanation now, but she knew that the boys wouldn’t just let it go like that. Making a short decision she pulled them into a broom-cupboard around the corner, before casting a Muffliato around them. Harry and Ron watched her with wide eyes.

“What was that spell?” Harry asked, furrowing his brows.

“Muffliato,” she explained. “This way we won’t be overheard.”

“Wicked,” Ron mumbled, shifting next to her in the small space and involuntarily she felt his arm brush her chest. Hermione ignored it.

“It’s useful,” she admitted with a small, pleased smile. “Anyway, Professor Snape is no longer a Death Eater. He... something must have happened, I don’t exactly know the details, but I know that he cut off his arm to get rid of the Dark Mark.”

“He cut off his arm?” Harry asked, his voice full of disbelief. “But Hermione, he still has both arms.”

She rolled her eyes. “He regrew it, of course. I mean, there must be potions for that sort of thing, right? If you’re able to regrow a bone with Skelegrow, why not a whole arm?” she added resourcefully. ”Remember? I spent a big part of my summer break at the castle and I’ve seen it. For some weeks Professor Snape just had his right arm. The other one just grew back a couple of days ago.”

Hermione wouldn’t tell them that she had helped the Professor brewing the potion or regrowing his arm. That was none of their business. But she was sure the Order had been aware of his condition and the circumstances that led to it. Therefore she thought it was alright to share the knowledge with her friends. They needed to know, that Professor Snape was on their side of the war, without a way back to his former master.

“Wicked,” Ron mumbled, sounding impressed.

“Doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a git,” Harry added, before pushing the little door back open. Ron snorted before they one by one climbed back into the corridor again. They’d have to hurry if they wanted to make it in time for their next lesson. But Hermione thought this little talk would be worth Professor McGonagall scolding them, because with Ron and Harry back at the castle she finally had the feeling not to be alone any longer.

 

Ssssssss

 

Hermione was just about to walk to her afternoon classes when Neatly, the house-elf, appeared right in front of her. 

“Professor Dumbledore invites Miss Granger into his office,” the little female squeaked, staring at her with huge, yellow eyes. “Neatly is to tell Miss Granger, that she should get there right away and will be excused from her classes for the time of the meeting.”

Hermione stared at the little elf with wide eyes. Why did the Headmaster suddenly want to talk to her? Was something wrong with her parents? Or had she somehow gotten herself into trouble? She stared at Ron and Harry, who waited next to her, with a lost expression. 

Harry, who must have understood her unasked question shrugged. “We’ll tell Professor Flitwick that you’ll be late. Don’t worry, I’m sure everything is fine.”

Hermione could only hope they were right. But she guessed she was about to find out in a few minutes.

 

Ssssssss

 

“Ah, Miss Granger! Do come in,” Albus greeted the nervous girl and motioned for her to come inside. Miss Granger stared at him with an almost panicked expression, probably trying to access if she was in trouble. He could not fault her, as he rarely invited students for a friendly chat into his office. “Tea?”

The girl slowly came closer, looking at his cheerful expression in puzzlement. “Did something happen to my parents?” she asked, a hint of panic in her voice. 

Albus shook his head with a reassuring smile. “Do not worry, my girl, everything is in the best order. I merely invited you here to talk about possible plans for the time after your birthday.”

He had decided to take things slow in this first meeting. As the girl was connected to Severus, she would not go anywhere anytime soon. Therefore, there was no reason for him to get careless and give away the game. He could afford to take his time to convince her of his position and the ideas he had for her and his DADA professor.

The girl’s relief was clearly visible as she sunk back into the cushioned chair he had provided for her. “I do not understand, Sir,” she said, carefully sipping the tea he had carefully laced with a mild calming draught. Nothing that went over the top, but enough to make her feel relaxed in his presence. Going by the pressure radiating from her body and the dark shadows under her eyes, she needed it.

“Did you consider joining the Order, after you are of age?” he asked, his grandfatherly smile firmly in place. “Because we could use such a bright and brave woman like you.”

Miss Granger looked at him with a confused expression, but the little smile on her lips told him that she was pleased by his compliment. Good. It would make her listen to what he had to say. “I’d love to, Sir. I just thought you only started recruiting once a person has left school.”

He nodded with a smile. “Usually we do. But in your case I see myself making an exception. Thanks to your intelligence and your out-of-the-box-thinking I am going to see the end of the school year, as well as hopefully many other years, after that. Apart from that, I have been told, that you are currently in a very special position.”

The girl looked at him with a considering look, but her face darkened as soon as she understood, what he had hinted at. “You mean my connections with Professor Snape?” she asked, her voice suddenly a lot more distant. 

Albus nodded with a kind smile. “I do. Kindred Magic is a rare gift, my girl, even though it might not seem like it at the moment. But a fully established bond comes with many magical advantages, increased magical power being only one of them.”

She nodded with a tired sigh. “For that, Professor Snape and I would at least need to trust each other and from my side, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

“Ah,” Albus said, his understanding smile firmly in place. “I take it things are not going well then. Well, I am not going to ask for any details, as that is none of my business. Professor Snape can be a bit rough around the edges, but I assure you that he does mean well and has a good heart.”

The girl looked at him with a doubtful expression, but the tension was slowly starting to leave her shoulders, indicating that the tea was working. Good. He at least needed to implant a seed of hope and understanding in her, a seed that could be grown into something more, with time. “He has been a spy for a long time and he did not have anyone else than himself. But with this connection between you, the two of you could really have an impact on this war, that is if you are willing to work with each other. I am not going to ask anything of you just now, Miss Granger. There is still time until you reach adulthood. But maybe you would like to consider my words until then and see, what it is you’d like to do for the Order and to end this war endangering people like yourself and your parents.”

He hated to play that particular card, but from the expression in her eyes, he could see, that it was working. Apart from that, it was true. Tom and his cronies endangered the magical world but especially young wizards and witches of non-magical heritage. To end this war, they would have to do their part, too, no matter how hard or unfair it might seem to them. 

“I understand,” Miss Granger mumbled, her eyes taking on a glassy look as she started considering his thoughts. Well, or maybe he had putten a bit too much calming draught in her tea, Albus thought, as he could see her keel sideways on the armchair a moment later. He sighed, his wandless magic catching her gently, stabilizing her as he called for a house-elf to carry her back to her quarters. He had said everything he wanted to, anyway and now the girl would have time to consider his words. He would let her sleep in her quarters for the rest of the afternoon, because going by her tired appearance she really could use a rest. And as far as he was told, she had detention with Severus in the evening and he wanted her in a good mood and well-rested for that.



ssssssss

 

Walking down to Professor Snape’s office felt like the hardest thing Hermione had ever done, even though that was probably total nonsense considering the trouble she, Ron and Harry had gotten themselves into. It was, like she was down in the forest again, together with Harry, facing a horde of dementors. But this time there was no getting away, as Professor Snape would be expecting her and if she somehow backed out today, he would only double her number of detentions - she knew he would. So she would simply have to brace those hours with him and scrub cauldrons, or whatever it was he’d make her do. That didn’t mean she had to talk to him.

She had barely knocked at his office when he opened the door, his dark eyes scanning her calmly. It was the first time she felt truly insecure under his gaze, which was strange considering she had found pleasure in cursing him in the morning. 

“You’ll be serving your detention outside, Miss Granger,” he announced, before stepping towards her, closing the door behind him. “Follow me.”

Hermione did not dare to question him. Instead, she walked behind him as they exited the castle through a small door in the dungeons that led them to a place close to the Black Lake. Now the water surface was almost orange, reflecting the sun that was about to disappear behind the forest and for a moment she could not help but stare at the beauty of the scene in awe. No matter what Professor Snape would put her through tonight, that moment would almost make it worth it, Hermione told herself. 

They walked for some minutes, always along the shore, until the Professor finally stopped and turned around her with an unreadable expression. “Here we are,” he said calmly. “Considering the amount of time you spent swimming in the lake during the summer, I concluded that you are able to swim well enough. Tell me if I am wrong.”

For a moment she just stared at him, unable to contemplate his words. “You want to take me for a swim?” she asked in total disbelief. Because this was Professor Snape, the man she had only once seen in less than his buttoned-up teaching robes and who did not appear like his idea of detention was taking a student out for a swim in the Black Lake. 

“Not for leisure,” he commented in a dry tone. “You will help me procure something that is reported to be found below the surface of the lake.”

His words prompted a myriad of questions, that immediately started to float around her head, but she found herself unable to ask a single one of them. It wasn’t her place to question him and apart from that, she still did not feel inclined to talk to him, not if she could avoid it. Still, her curiosity wanted her to ask, even though she was not even sure if he would give her an answer. Professor Snape had an affinity for keeping things from her, after all. And she would not give him the chance to lie to her again, she thought, deciding that she wouldn’t say anything at all.

“Transfigure your clothes into something you’re comfortable to swim in,” Professor Snape instructed her and without waiting for her to do so, he took out his wand and transfigured his black robe into a short-sleeved and short-legged swimsuit, that reminded her of the clothes she had seen surfers wearing during the colder season. She decided to aim for something similar, as she would not feel comfortable wearing a bikini in his presence. The Professor patiently waited for her to finish at the shore, his eyes scanning the lake surface like he was looking for something particular. Considering their destination he probably was.

“Do I need to remind you of the lesson you’re supposed to learn from this detention, Miss Granger?” he asked in a deep voice. 

“No, Sir,” she croaked out, her eyes fixed on his chest. Now that his body was not hidden beneath layers of black fabric she could see how lean and wiry his body indeed was. It looked like there wasn’t a bit of fat on him, as his body just seemed to consist of bones and lean muscles. Against the dark contrast of the ground, she could also see his pale arms, each of them unblemished, without the Dark Mark. Hermione blinked as soon as she caught herself staring. 

“Good,” Professor Snape said, slowly stepping towards her until he was almost standing toe to toe with her. “I expect you to follow my commands, Miss Granger, without question and as soon as they are given . Did I make myself clear?”

“You did, Sir,” Hermione answered without raising her eyes from his chest. 

“Take that,” he continued and offered her a simple bracelet, that seemed to be made out of thin thread or hair. “As soon as you slip this over your arm, you will be able to communicate with me mentally. I expect you to return it to me, as soon as our little trip has come to an end.”

“”Yes, Sir,” Hermione replied and took the bracelet out of his hand, careful as to not touch his skin. She slipped it unto her left arm a moment later, the soft material warm and comforting against her skin. 

“Very well. Do you prefer the Bubble-Head Charm, partial Transfiguration or Gillyweed?” the man in front of her continued and suddenly Hermione felt the need to lift her eyes and look at him. They seemed black, as they usually did and looked at her with a reassuring calmness, that made her pause. He really had planned this trip very well, even leaving her the choice of the method enabling her to breathe underwater. 

“I think I would prefer the Bubble-Head charm,” she said hesitantly. Ever since her Polyjuice-accident that temporarily turned her into a cat, she did not like the idea of turning parts of her into something resembling an animal. Not that she planned to share this information with him. “I never learned to cast it, though.”

“I will do it for you,” he said and offered her a second item. “Put your wand into this wand-holder and strap it onto your wrist. Your wand will come to your hand, once you make this motion,” he said and showed her what to do with his right arm. There, he too wore a black wand-holder that looked well worn. He probably had worn it for a long time, she realized. “We might have to use our wands later on,” he said, finally stepping away from her. “Your ability to cast non-verbally is luckily well enough established to do just that.”

Hermione blinked. Had he just praised her? Maybe not directly but taking her on such a trip after only one lesson on non-verbal casting seemed more than a bit… unusual.

“I will do my best, Sir,” she promised and stepped next to him into the water. I was still surprisingly warm, but then again it was still summer. 

“I expected nothing less from you, Miss Granger. Now come. We will have to swim for a while until we’ll hopefully find the place I have been looking for,” Professor Snape said and walked into the water. Suddenly Hermione found her nerves tingle with anticipation and nervousness. She had expected to scrub cauldrons or prepare big batches of ingredients. Compared to that, accompanying Professor Snape on a trip into the Black Lake did not feel like detention at all.  

 

ssssssss

 

Severus felt strangely pleased with himself when he glided through the water next to the girl. Miss Granger was indeed a true Gryffindor, as she had accompanied him into the depth of the lake without questions and without fear. All it took was for him to cast the Bubble-Head Charm on her and she followed him willingly underwater, deeper and deeper into the Black Lake. It was a stroke of luck that he stumbled across the location during his studies in the library and when he had given Miss Granger her detentions in the morning the idea to have her accompany him immediately sprang to his mind. The girl strived on knowledge and adventure and today he had a chance to offer both to her. 

What are we looking for, Sir?” he heard her question in his mind, accompanied by a pleasant tingle of their slowly strengthening bond. Severus had felt their connection weaken over the last days and the dread accompanying this realization had been nothing he had been prepared for. 

A cave ,” he replied, squinting his eyes against the darkness. “ It is reported to be located in the rocks beneath the castle.

I see ,” Miss Granger answered before falling silent again. It didn’t matter. She had spoken to him out of her own free will, which was more than he expected her to do today. It was progress and progress was good. He would not mess this up like an impatient Gryffindor idiot. No, Severus had time, and he would win back her trust bit by bit.

They were probably diving for about twenty minutes when the cave appeared in front of them. The opening in the rock wasn’t huge but big enough for the two of them to swim inside. And one look at it told them, that they were at the right place, as a ghostly bluish light came streaming towards them.

It’s here, ” he said and looked at the girl. Her hair was floating around her like a halo while the light from the cave painted her in ghostly blue. For a moment he thought she looked like a Nymphe, the excited smile on her lips making her look more beautiful than he’d ever seen her. Gods, he wanted to kiss her so badly!

Professor Snape? What exactly will we find in this cave? ” he heard her ask uncertainly. 

He could not help but look at the girl with a smile. “Magical light crystals, of course.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Hermione was torn between uncertainty and curiosity when she followed Professor Snape through the narrow gap in the rock. Behind, there was a tunnel,  illuminated by a strange, bluish light that probably came from the light crystals the Professor was looking for, even though she could spot none of them. 

Professor Snape swam ahead of her without hesitation, his black hair reflecting the bluish light and trailing behind him like a curtain. It was strange seeing him like that, in a surrounding that was as far from a Hogwarts classroom as it could get. And strangely, the pale man in front of her looked almost content, the tell-tale scowl on his face substituted by a curious smile that made him seem years younger. 

It cannot be much farther ,” she heard him whisper in her head, the tone of his voice strangely reassuring for her. And indeed, he was right. The tunnel widened into a big cave after only a few metres; a cave that was illuminated by hundreds of blue lights, some coming from the walls, some tiny ones floating around them in the air like dust. Hermione gasped in surprise and awe. She wished she could show this place to her parents, share the moment with them, but she supposed it would have to be enough to tell them everything later. 

This place is truly magical ,” she thought, realizing only shortly after that she had shared the words with him. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him smile.

It is ,” he answered, turning his head in all directions. 

They did not speak and Hermione used the time to take everything in. They were in a cavern-like room, which was mostly filled with water. Only in the very back of it, there seemed to be a small area that was not flooded and she could see the Professor aim towards it with slow swimming strokes. For a moment she just watched him before she remembered that he had probably taken her along so she could assist him. As she started to swim towards him, she could see him climb out of the water, his eyes roaming over the wall in front of him with a calculating  expression. Most of the crystals here were far up, Hermione realized, which meant that they would probably have to climb or find another way to get up there to collect some of them. 

“I will take a look at those different crystals first,” the Professor said, and  a moment later Hermione realized that he had cancelled their Bubble-Head charms and truly spoken out loud. “Climb out of the water and rest for a bit. I will be back with you in a moment.”

For a moment she thought he planned to climb up the wall, but then she saw his form blur and shrink, morphing into the raven that had visited her at home some weeks ago. She had known he was an animagus from his journal, and seen his raven-form, of course, but ever since she had read it, she had been distracted by all the other things she had learned, forgetting about this little detail altogether. Now Hermione could not help but stare at him, taking in his glistening black feathers with curious eyes before the Animagus took off from the ground with a raven cry. He circled the room a few times, the flapping of his wings echoing loudly in the cavernous room before she saw him land on the wall, his wings stabilizing him while his beak was testing the stone around one of the crystals. 

“I will need your assistance to remove one of those crystals,” he said after he had landed in front of her, transforming back into his human form as if nothing of significance had happened. But it had. Hermione was pretty sure that no Hogwarts student was aware of the fact that Professor Snape was an Animagus, and considering what a private person he was, she was aware of the significance of him transforming in front of her. She wasn't sure if this was him acknowledging the fact that she had read his diary, but she strongly suspected it was. But was it also meant as an invitation to talk about those things? Because she wasn't even sure if she was ready to hear those hurtful words being repeated directly by him. 

“What do you want me to do, Sir?” she asked, pushing those thoughts away. Right now wasn’t the time to talk anyway. 

Professor Snape looked at her with dark, serious eyes. “I think the best approach would be if you levitated me up there, stabilizing me enough to remove the light crystal with my wand. Do you think you can do that, Miss Granger?”

Hermione felt his eyes on her and involuntarily her eyes were pulled towards his face. “What if I let you fall, Sir?” she asked, her voice quivering ever so slightly.

At that, his lips twitched in amusement. “Then, I guess, I’ll be the shortest DADA teacher in the history of Hogwarts.”

She stared at him in disbelief. Had he just made a joke?

  

Ssssssss

 

‘What an idiotic plan,’ Severus thought as he felt the girl’s magic wash over him, levitating him into the air. There were so many different solutions for this problem that would not risk him falling to his death - conjuring a platform for him to land on, for example. But then again, his animagus form would save him if Miss Granger lost her nerve, which made the whole endeavour safe enough. Letting her levitate him required a certain amount of trust from him, trust that he would not have had in any other student and only a handful of people. But he trusted Hermione Granger - at least to a certain extent, and he thought it important for their relationship to show her just that. And he thought he was doing a decent job at it.

Miss Granger’s precision with magic was remarkable. He softly floated through the air like he was carried on an invisible pillow, her magic humming reassuringly around him, lulling his nervous mind into security. Then he was there, right in front of the light crystal he had picked for their little project, because he refused to work on the microscope without her. This was their project, he thought, realizing how sentimental that sounded. 

Good, ” he praised her through the mental connection he had established. “ Now hold me steady. I will start loosening the light crystal now.

Yes, Professor ,” the girl answered in evident concentration. 

Everything went well until the crystal broke free from the stone, landing in his hand with a soft thud. He felt a soft wave of magic rush over him before suddenly thousands of blue glowing particles from the air came rushing towards him, connecting with his skin a moment later. From below he heard a surprised squeak from Hermione, her magic around him disappearing a moment later, making him rush towards the ground with breakneck speed. He reacted without thinking, his body transforming into its animal form and catching him on its own accord. The crystal meanwhile fell down into the lake below, its blue light slowly sinking towards the bottom. He landed on the ground with a silent curse, Miss Granger staring down at his raven form with wide, frightened eyes.

“Professor, I…” she mumbled, her body shining blindingly from the glowing dust, which must have sought her out, too.

“Are you hurt?” he found himself asking after he had hastily transformed back into his human form, his annoyance replaced by worry for her. “What happened?”

She looked at him helplessly, the lights on her skin dancing around like little glowing stars. “I don’t know, Sir. Those lights came suddenly rushing towards me and I just sort of… panicked.”

He did not speak right away, as his eyes just took her in, trying to assess what had happened to her, no to them , because he, too, was glowing like a fucking Christmas tree. “Things coming rushing towards you are usually not a good sign,” he said calmly, before raising his wand and casting some diagnostic spells. There was nothing wrong with her, he realized with a sigh of relief, also noting the fact that he wasn’t in any form of pain. “I do not hold your wish to protect yourself against you.”

Miss Granger nodded, averting her eyes. But he could see the look of insecurity and wariness on her features. Even though he had shown his trust in her, she was far from trusting him, he realized. Did she expect him to sneer at her? To mock her that she had failed and let him fall? If so, she would be disappointed.

“Let us dive for the light crystal and get out of here,” he said, watching her calmly. “If we are lucky this glowing dust - or whatever this is - will wash off. If it is still there when we reach the shore, we can look for a solution at Hogwarts.”

“Yes, Professor,” she said shakily, before squaring her shoulders. 

Severus nodded in satisfaction before he recast their Bubble-Head charms. She did not even wait for him to enter the water before she dove down with a closed-off expression. It almost seemed like she could not wait to get out of here, he thought with a sting in his heart. But then again he could not blame her, after the unfortunate incident with his research journal. 



 

Kindred Magic_Comission

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione’s feet connected with the solid ground again, she could barely keep herself upright any longer. All in all, they must have spent about two hours in the lake and even though their magic had provided them with oxygen and warmth, she felt tired to her bones. Playing and splashing in the water was one thing, but swimming such a distance quite another. Not to mention the strain that the whole endeavour had put on her nerves and magic. 

They had barely left the cave when she had felt her muscles getting tired, but she had soldiered on in the hope of not embarrassing herself even more in front of the Professor. Losing control over her levitation spell had probably been enough for him to see his opinion, that she was a useless schoolgirl, confirmed. Would he write about today's encounter in his research journal? Would he mock her naïveté or incapability, maybe even in front of his colleagues?

No, she would not embarrass herself any further, by asking him to slow down or let her take a break. She could rest as soon as they were out of the water, Hermione thought. But it hadn’t been long until the cramps in her legs started.

She hadn’t even needed to say a word, as Professor Snape was instantly at her side, gripping her arm forcefully. “ Stop moving ,” he instructed her, his teeth gritted in discomfort. That’s when she realized that he was feeling the pain, too. “It will only make it worse.”

Hermione knew that, of course. “ But we need to get to the shore. We’ll drown if we don’t, ” she sent her thoughts towards him mentally, unable to suppress the panic she was feeling. She did not want to spend a minute longer in the lake than she absolutely needed to. 

You are under my watch, Miss Granger ,” the man in front of her replied calmly, while his other arm gripped her waist to steady her. “ I will make sure to return you to the castle unharmed. I give you my word ,” he swore and sought out her eyes. “ Now stop moving so we can get this cramp under control .”

Hermione stilled immediately, the Professor's words about following his instructions still ringing in her ears. He was right, every movement of her leg just made the pain worse, their pain, which really was not helping. 

" Good ," Professor Snape praised her and indeed she could feel the pain lessen shortly after. " Now let's see that we get you to the shore. Try moving your leg again very carefully, toes first.”

She followed his command, only to flinch from another cramp. It was of no use. She would not be able to move that leg anytime soon. 

This will not do,” Professor Snape said with a shake of his head. “ You’ll have to hold onto me then, so I can pull you to the shore.”

Hermione looked at her Professor in discomfort, but he was right. There was no way she could reach the land herself. 

I’ll need my wand-arm to transfigure my legs ,” he said, matter-of-factly. “ You can grip my left shoulder and arm to stabilize yourself until I am finished .”

She did not want to, did not want to touch him, cling to him , knowing that he detested her touch. But it wasn’t like she had much of a choice. The hand from her shoulder disappeared and as instructed she gripped his arm to hold onto him. From the corner of her eye, she saw him pulling out his wand and a moment later his legs started to morph into what looked like a merman’s tail. She stared at him in wonder. Who would have guessed that he was this well-versed in transfiguration, too?

Good enough ,” she heard him exclaim in her head and a moment later he pulled her in front of him, his arms closing around her waist. It was a strangely intimate gesture, very much like a hug, and for a moment she felt safe and protected in his arms. Then she remembered that he would have never touched her in such a way by choice and stiffened. 

Hold on tight ,” he instructed her and even though she did not want to, her arms closed around his chest. She had barely found a comfortable position to anchor herself, when she felt his muscles flex, propelling them forward a moment later. She found herself clinging to his chest even tighter, burying her head against the thin fabric of his swimming suit. Only then she realized that their bodies had indeed stopped glowing, as the strange dust must have washed off by now, like he had suspected it would. Thank Merlin! Now she could hopefully head back to Gryffindor Tower as soon as they were out of the lake. Because no matter how exciting and interesting their little expedition had been, it did not change the things she had learned through reading his journal. And some of them she would not easily forgive or ever forget, no matter how comforting his arms around her body felt.

 

ssssssss

 

Time of exposure : 2 hours, 54 minutes,3 seconds

Physical contact : 12 minutes, 24 seconds of full body-contact which was required to help the girl to get back to the shore

Observations

Miss Granger’s ‘detention’ turned out to be even more successful than I had anticipated. Even though the girl had clearly emotionally distanced herself from me, she was still willing to follow my commands and touch me, as it became necessary. I find myself highly content after the time spent in her presence, the tiredness and physical discomfort that I felt the last days completely wiped away from my body. I am aware that this is the effect of the Kindred Magic, but on the other hand, I also find myself seeking out the memory of the feeling of her soft skin below my fingers. I have to admit that holding her like this had felt right, in a way that I find myself unable to describe. Even now my fingers tingle in the hope of touching her again, which of course I can and will not do, as it would be most improper given the girl’s age. Still, I cannot help thinking about the fact that it will be the girl’s birthday soon. With the Headmaster supporting the idea, I could start considering a relationship with her. But is that truly advisable given our different stances in life? She would still be my student, after all.

 

ssssssss

 

When Hermione climbed through the portrait hole of the Fat Lady and into the Gryffindor common room, it was already past curfew. She felt tired to the bones as swimming through the lake was more physical exercise than she was used to, but she also felt mentally exhausted. This whole detention had not been what she had expected. Professor Snape had been different and once more she felt conflicted by what she had read in that book of his. A few weeks ago she had also thought him almost kind, as he had more than once challenged her intellect or discussed things with her like he was really interested in what she had to say. Today, it had been the same. She was pretty sure taking a student for an excursion to the Black Lake was not what his detentions usually looked like. So why had he taken her along, asked her to levitate him, if he did not value her presence? It did not make sense, this whole diary did not make sense , and the contradictions were mentally ripping her apart.  

“Hermione, you’re back!” Ron greeted her and waved her over to the corner of the common room they usually claimed. She walked towards him with a smile, happy that he had obviously waited up for her. Harry, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.

“What did the greasy git make you do?” her red-headed friend asked as soon as she sat down next to him, and for a moment Hermione did not know what to answer. But then she decided that there was no reason for her not to tell Ron at least parts of her strange evening, as Professor Snape had not forbidden her to do so. And Hermione felt like she just needed to talk about what happened. 

“He took me to the Black Lake,” she murmured while casting a Muffliato around them. “He needed to collect some ingredients from the lake and he took me along.”

Ron stared at her with wide eyes. “He took you into the lake?” he asked in total disbelief. “Don’t tell me he made you wear a bikini!”

“What? No!” Hermione hastily answered while shaking her head in irritation.

Her friend exhaled in obvious relief. “Good. Because the greasy git’s not supposed to see you like that,” he mumbled a moment later, his ears reddening at his words. 

Hermione stared at him in confusion. But as her friend did not say anything else she continued: “He cast a Bubble Head-charm on us, so we could dive down to get his stuff. It was actually not so bad, definitely not what I had expected.”

For a moment Ron stared at her in total disbelief, but then he shrugged and shook his head. “Only you can think that collecting potion ingredients with Snape is fun,” he said with a snort. And somehow she felt herself getting affronted by his words.

“Not potion ingredients,” Hermione found herself saying, suddenly feeling the need to explain her excitement. “We’ve been to a cave with hundreds of light crystals. The place was beautiful !”

“Huh. Then you must have been the first student that ever had a nice detention with Snape.” Ron snorted. “And Snape doesn’t do nice.”

Somehow Ron’s words exactly fit with the doubts Hermione had, but that she could not tell him without telling him the rest of this embarrassing story. And how was she supposed to explain that she was somehow bound to Professor Snape by Kindred Magic? She was pretty sure Ron would not understand and neither would Harry. They hated the man with a passion, after all. No, it was better she kept those things to herself.

“I was probably just lucky,” Hermione replied with a shrug, hoping that this would end this part of their discussion. There was no use in mulling over why Professor Snape had taken her along to the cave. He had probably tried to manipulate her again; he had done so before, after all. But she would not fall for it, not this time. Now she knew what he really thought of her and how important it was to keep her emotional distance. And suddenly she had an idea of how to do just that.

“Ron? How do you feel about going to Hogsmeade with me next weekend?” she asked with a shy smile. 

Her friend looked at her with furrowed brows. “Sure. ‘s not like we wouldn’t go together anyway, right?”

Hermione shook her head at his obliviousness. “No, I mean just you and me, Ron,” she said, focussing her eyes on his face. She hoped her mum was right and he really liked her, not just as a friend. Otherwise, this conversation would get pretty awkward now. 

“Like on a date ?” Ron asked, his blue eyes looking at her in disbelief. 

Hermione smiled. “If you like?”

At that, Ron broke out into a wide smile. “I’d love to!”




  



 




 





Chapter Text

“Hermione? Can I carry your school bag for you?” Ron’s voice came from behind her as she was walking down the corridor as she had just left her Arithmancy Class. Ever since their conversation last night, Ron had been different towards her, more attentive and Hermione could not help but smile at his sudden chivalry.

“Hey Ron,” she said with a wide smile on her face. He greeted her back with a huge smile himself and then, a moment later, he took her bag from her, causing his ears to pinken at the cat-calls he got from Seamus or the giggles of some Hufflepuff girls behind them. “Thank you Ron,” she said, suddenly walking with a little spring in her steps. It felt good to be treated like someone special, like someone cared about her , not just as a friend. Obviously Ron did and Hermione found herself exhilarated at the idea of being someone else's centre of attention. If her heart whispered that she wished for someone else to see her like that, she did not acknowledge it.



Sssssssss



“I could accompany you to your Quidditch tryouts,” Hermione said at lunch, smiling happily at the redhead next to her. Ron, who was just about to take a bite from his pasta, looked at her with wide eyes and flushed bright red. 

 

“You’d come down to the pit, watching? Me?” He asked while staring at her with a mixture of disbelief and happiness. “But you’ve never watched the tryouts, Hermione. You don’t even like Quidditch!” He said with no little incredulity. 

 

Hermione smiled at him and shrugged. “So? You care about it and I’d really like to watch you play. I’m sure you’ll do brilliantly.”

 

She saw Harry watching her from the side, like she’d just grown a second head. Well, maybe she was laying it a bit thick, but if Ron could make an effort for her, she could very well do the same. And watching him play, cheering him on, sounded like a brilliant thing to do. 

 

“You think so?” Ron asked, the food on his plate forgotten. Something that had never happened before.

 

Hermione smiled sweetly. “Absolutely! I’ve seen you playing with your brothers and Ginny for years . You’re a brilliant keeper Ron. The others don’t stand a chance!”  Okay, maybe she should reel it in a little but who cared? Ron wanted to be supported and who else would do that if it wasn’t her or Harry? 

 

Ron looked at her like he’d never seen her before, a wide happy smile blooming on his face. “You’re right!” He said motioning towards her with his fork. “I’m used to playing against Fred and George - and Bill! I’ve played Quidditch since I was five. There really isn’t anyone better for the position, is there?”

 

Hermione looked at her friend with a fond smile. “No, there really isn’t,” she said before taking a huge bite of pasta herself. She hadn’t been hungry at all, those last days, but suddenly she felt like she was starving. Supporting Ron felt good, she realized and the smile he had just given her was worth a bit of boredom in the afternoon. After all, she really cared about him and unlike certain others, he seemed to care for her, too. 



Ssssssss




“I did it, Mione!” Ron exclaimed, before swooping Hermione up into an embrace. “I made it into the team!”

 

Hermione giggled happily. “Of course you did! I told you the other’s didn’t stand a chance.” She said, enjoying the feeling of being twirled around. She could feel Harry’s and Ginny’s eyes on them but suddenly she found she did not care. Ron seemed to like her and not just because some obscure connection forced him to interact with her, he seemed to be genuinely interested. 

 

Ron put her down with a happy smile, his eyes looking at her for a long moment before he returned his attention to their other friends. Hermione watched him with a fond smile for a while and listened to him relaying every Quidditch move to Harry, who answered him enthusiastically. But it was only a while until Ginny was suddenly at her side, slinging an arm around her waist. 

“So you and Ron, huh?” she asked, smiling like a Chesire cat. “Are you two dating now?”

 

Hermione shook her head with a smile. “Not quite. I asked him to take me to Hogsmeade though, and he accepted.” 

 

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Of course he did. You’re good for him, you know? Haven’t seen him this happy in a long while. Can’t wait to see how happy he’ll be, until you snogged the breath out of him.”

 

The redhead winked at her and Hermione found herself blushing at the thought. “You wouldn’t mind if I snogged your brother?” she whispered, but the boys were too occupied with discussing Quidditch to hear. 

 

Ginny snorted. “Why would I? It would make him shut up about me dating other guys, would it not?”

 

Hermione looked at the other girl with a smile. She did have a point. “It probably would,” she admitted with a grin. “Ginny? Would you mind showing me some stuff I could do with my hair? I feel like I’m in need of a little change.”

 

The youngest Weasley looked at her with an excited expression oh her face. “You really want this date to work out, don’t you?” she asked with a knowing smile. “Don’t worry, my brother will like you no matter what you do with your hair. You don’t need to feel like you have to prove something to him, alright?”

 

“Alright,” Hermione said, pushing the thought away that maybe it was not Ron whom she wanted to prove something to. “Yeah, maybe you’re right,” she said, feeling slightly disappointed. “It’s probably best if I just stay true to myself.”

 

At that, Ginny shook her head with a grin. “I never said I wouldn’t help you, Hermione. I just meant that you shouldn’t feel the need to change it for a boy . But I’ve been waiting for a chance to do your hair for years .”

 




Ssssssss

 

Something was wrong, Severus thought, staring down at the students that were streaming into the Great Hall for dinner. It did not take a spy to realize that the dynamic in the golden trio had shifted, Weasley’s attention now focussed on Miss Granger, probably in the sorry attempt to get her attention. He was clinging to her side like a desperate puppy, his watery eyes looking at her like he expected her to pet his head any moment. Twice he had seen him carry her books today and now it was the third time he stared at her with this sickening, sweet smile, that made Severus want to stab his sausage, or even better, banish it into the idiot’s face. But he couldn’t, as he could clearly feel the Headmaster’s eyes on him, watching him, like he was expecting him to make a scene – which he would not. After all, there was no saying, that an intelligent girl like her would ever be interested in a moron like Weasley. She was probably only trying to be kind, or to not ruin their questionable friendship. Not that she could. Potter and his redheaded sidekick probably depended on her help with their homework, which would have them grovel for her forgiveness sooner or later. 

Still, Severus would keep an eye on the situation - keep an eye on her. Luckily that wouldn’t be overly difficult, at least for the rest of the week, when the girl had detention with him. The next one would be in not even one hour and Severus was determined to make good use of the time. He needed her to trust him again, no he wanted to, because he wanted her in his life. And he would use all his Slytherin cunning and other abilities to assure just that. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus had carefully cleaned his office and organized all the papers on his desk into neat piles. It wasn’t just to pass the time until Miss Granger’s detention was about to start, he wanted her to feel comfortable, well as comfortable as it was possible in the current, messed up situation. And it wasn’t like he would ever let the house-elves touch his desk or his bookshelves. 

It was exactly 7 p.m. when Miss Granger knocked at his door. Usually, she was always a bit early, even though he had never found out why, but today she was exactly on time.

“You are rather late, Miss Granger,” he said, without the usual snide in his tone for once

But Miss Granger just looked at him with a calm expression before saying: “I am pretty sure I am on time, Sir.”

He looked at her in silence and for a moment he asked himself, if she had waited in front of his door for the latest possible moment to knock. It was possible, h e realized with a growing heaviness in his belly. 

“Do come in, Miss Granger,” he finally said, deciding to divert her attention to the project at hand. “I have prepared everything we will need in my lab. Follow me.”

The girl did so without a word and when he brought her to the table where he had built up the microscope and the box containing the light crystal, she looked at the items with a neutral expression on her face. There was no saying, if she was overly interested in the project, even though he was pretty sure she was, going by her exclamations during their last discussions concerning the topic. But now, all her emotions seemed to be wiped away and for a moment he could not help asking himself, if she had practised Occlumency. 

“I thought it fitting that we continue the work on our microscope today,” he said, motioning towards a chair to invite her to sit down. “First, we need to study the properties of the light crystal, see if it can be split into smaller pieces while still remaining intact.”

The girl remained silent for a few seconds. Finally, she said: “Will you start another research journal for this project, Sir? I understand it would be most useful, to note all your observations in precise, unadorned words. It is useful for remembering all the details later on, is it not?”

For a moment, he did not know what to say. But then again he thought that this was probably her not so subtle way to start a conversation. “It surely is,” he admitted in a neutral tone. “Especially with projects where one is not sure about the outcome.” He considered his next words for a moment, then he said: "I imagine you read my old potions book very carefully, did you not?"

The girl gave a small nod in confirmation.

"In it, I carefully describe the perfect methods to produce those advanced potions. I did so by crossing things out, changing things to improve a recipe that was already considered good in other brewer's eyes." He focussed her with an almost gentle expression. "Still, all those dry facts and comments could never relay the beauty of potion-making or the thrill of finishing a perfect potion. Those things are to be felt and can hardly be written down."

There, he had said it. Those words were as good as an apology and Miss Granger was an intelligent woman. She surely would understand them.

For a moment the girl stared at him in silence, her eyes showing disappointment? Pity? He was not sure. Finally, she said: “I always wondered how you saw the world, Sir. Now that I know, I finally understand why you are such an isolated, cynical man. It is hard to not take offence when one is treated like a potion ingredient, pride and self-esteem crushed and sliced with an efficiency that is worthy of a potions master. Luckily those crystals and the microscope will not mind being treated with such precision, as they most likely don’t have any feelings you’ll be able to hurt in the process.”

Severus sighed discreetly , the meaning of her words not lost to him. “I never meant any offence, Miss Granger. The notes in my research journal were private. Of course, I would never address you or talk to you in such an improper way, as it was done there.”   

At that, Miss Granger’s eyes were suddenly full of fire, the hands in her lap clenched to small fists. “I was not hurt by your words about me , Sir, because that would require me caring about your opinion on my person. I never had the illusion of being particularly liked by you, as I knew you saw me as nothing else than an annoying, plain and attention-seeking Know-It-All,” she said, her voice strained with tension. “What I do care about is you obliviating my father, whom I deeply care about, or keeping knowledge for yourself, even though this condition does affect both of us. You had no right to do either of those things, Sir, especially as you do not even seem to register how hurtful and offensive those actions were.”

She was right, Severus realized in dismay. Obliviating her father had been a mistake, even though he had not deleted any other memories than the ones of him using Legilimency on the man. But that, she could not know. “Neither of those things were done lightly, Miss Granger, as I intended to keep the unfortunate truth from you as long as I could. I did not want to burden you with the knowledge of being shackled to me by such an obscure condition. Therefore, I decided to take care of the situation myself and make sure that you would not be bothered by the unpleasant side-effects that are induced when being apart from each other.”

Miss Granger looked at him with a humourless smile. “Then you will be glad to hear that we are not ‘shackled to each other’ as you so kindly phrased it. The bond can be undone, Sir. All it takes is for both of us to let go, to not wish to be bound to each other . One does not even need a ritual of some sorts, as this connection between us is based on sympathy and trust. Yes, one needs to find a kindred spirit at first, one that is compatible with one's magic. But that alone does not result in Kindred Magic, which is the reason for this condition being so rare, I believe.”

The girl had once more taken on her lecturing tone, repeating facts that she must have gotten from a source that was still unknown to him. But when? And how? “Where did you get this information from?” he asked, his eyes staring at her with a mixture of disbelief and… something else. 

Miss Granger stared back at him with a raised eyebrow, the humourless smile still in place. “It appears I have read at least one book, which you did not have the chance to hide from me, Sir, one book that you have not read ,” she said with evident satisfaction. 

Severus looked at her with a dark expression, his heart suddenly beating much faster than only a moment ago. Was it really possible to undo their connection? And would he be able to prevent it, if she really tried to do so? “I need to see that book, Miss Granger,” he said, his voice betraying none of his emotions, not even the panic that he suddenly started to feel. 

But the girl just looked at him with an unimpressed look in her eyes. “I can imagine. And I needed to see those other books, which you decided to withhold from me. I am not going to risk losing another book on Kindred Magic, Sir, because I do not trust you to give it back to me, you see?”

He wanted to snap at her, rage and demand from her to hand it over but that would probably only further damage the fragile trust that was left in the girl. She had accompanied him into the Black Lake yesterday, which indicated that she did not totally distrust him, but would that be enough to preserve the bond between them? He did not know but he desperately needed to find out. Only that it would need patience and time to do so, as it appeared. But what if he did not have either at the moment? How much time was there until their bond would collapse and she would be lost to him? Was there, maybe, a way to restore the bond in case it really got broken? There had to be because he simply could not lose her. He shuddered at the mere possibility.

“I see,” he croaked out, his face carefully blank. “Then it appears this part of our discussion is closed for now. Shall we proceed with your detention then?” he said, taking a new, blank notebook from his robes. “I will do some tests with the light crystal and I expect you to take detailed notes on your observations,” he said, handing the slim, green notebook over.

Miss Granger nodded, with a detached expression on her face. “As you wish, Sir.” 

 

Chapter Text

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. 



Ssssssss



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. 



Ssssssss



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.



ssssssss



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?



Ssssssss




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...




Chapter Text

“Well Severus, I must say that I have rarely seen a student more talented in potions than Miss Granger - well maybe apart from you, of course,” Slughorn bragged, stuffing his mouth with mashed potatoes from the table. The day had dragged on painfully, the students getting on his strained nerves more than ever. He simply did not have the patience for old Slughorn dumping his new discoveries and potential Slug Club members on him now.  “She is a muggle-born witch, did you know? But very bright and very talented.”

 

Severus looked at the old fart with a disdainful sneer. It was typical for him to emphasize the girl’s heritage, even though he widely advertised that he did not care about a student’s blood status. But why did he feel the need to talk about such things at every occurring chance then? It was the same scheme over and over again. He took them in, made them members of his little club only to brag about how successful they were, despite being brought up by muggles. It was truly sickening.

 

“She does have a certain amount of talent,” Severus said while forcing himself to take a bite of his steak. He wasn’t particularly hungry today, but he still wanted to be well nourished for the evening laying ahead of him. “But she tends to get distracted by those idiots she’s frequently trying to save from blowing themselves up.”

 

“I imagine you are referring to Harry Potter and his red-haired friend,” Slughorn said in a patronizing tone.  “Well, I have to admit, that the boy’s strengths must lay elsewhere. But they can’t all be potioneers, can they?”

 

Under other circumstances that comment would have made his day, but as it was Severus could not find himself to enjoy Horace’s disappointment with the famous Harry Potter. The man would still invite him into his little club, of course, as Slughorn would not risk missing such a celebrity as him from his collection.  

 

“Indeed, they can not,” Severus commented, the meat in his mouth tasting like rubber. How much longer would he have to sit through this, Slughorn boasting about this and that while he had to watch Miss Granger and Weasley holding hands below the table. How much longer until he could escape this personal hell and Albus’ knowing eyes, that seemed to haunt him ever since he had spoken to him the day before?

 

"But Miss Granger is a true gem, I can tell you," Slughorn went on, totally oblivious to Severus' mood. "She reminds me of Lily, Lily Evans that is. I take it you still remember her, don't you?"

Severus closed his eyes, taking a deep, calming breath through his nose. Slughorn did not even wait for him to answer, but took a generous sip from his wine saying: "She was a Muggle-born witch, too, you know?"

 

In his head Severus started listing all the ingredients of Painful Death, a potion he'd love to test on old Horace right now. But there was nothing for it. The old walrus went on and on , totally oblivious to the fact, that Severus was ready to choke him in front of Dumbledore and the rest of the fucking Great Hall. He was beyond caring, because in Azkaban it would at least be quiet and he would not have to see Miss Granger batting her eyelashes at a fucking Weasley . Merlin, those were really desperate times and they called for desperate measures. 



Ssssssss



“I can’t believe they changed the schedule for the Prefect patrols,” Ron mumbled, staring sullenly on the plan Professor McGonagall had just handed out. She had explained that Hogwarts was now trying to advertise inter-house-friendships and therefore Prefect patrols would, from now on, consist of two persons originating from different houses. Hermione did not mind so much, even though she had looked forward to patrolling the castle hand in hand with Ron, but she had also gotten Hannah Abbot, who was a kind Hufflepuff girl, who had always been nice towards her. Ron on the other hand…

“I can’t believe I’m going to patrol the castle with the ferret twice a week,” her redheaded friend (or was he already her boyfriend?) moaned and she did not really know how to console him. This really was bad luck.

 

“Well, at least you’ll be able to keep an eye on him now,” Harry murmured at Ron’s other side. “I’m still sure he’s up to something. Maybe you could slip him some Veritasserum one evening or you get a chance to look at his left arm. I tell you he took the Dark Mark.”

 

Hermione looked at the boys with a sigh. She did not think Malfoy would try something while being on patrols, but Harry had at least found one positive aspect to this whole situation. And indeed it seemed to cheer Ron somewhat up. 

“You’re right mate,” he said, clapping Harry’s shoulder. “I’ll keep an eye on him. And who knows? Maybe I’ll find out something. Everything could be important, right?”

 

“Absolutely,” Hermione agreed with an encouraging smile. But her thoughts had already started to drift to the detention, that was about to start soon.




Ssssssss



Hermione waited until the last possible moment to knock at Professor Snape’s door. Only two more days of detention, until she would not have to see him again, at least not if they finally found a way to undo the bond connecting them. 

 

“Come in,” Professor Snape said, this time refraining from commenting on her late arrival. Still, he looked at her with a weird expression on his face, not the blank mask he usually wore. 

He led her into his office and then to a wooden door leading into another room. When Hermione stared at it undecidedly for a moment he said: “We’ll be in my private quarters today, Miss Granger. What I have to discuss as better done while seated comfortably.”

 

His private quarters? Hermione stared at the rooms with wide eyes, but then she started walking towards the sofa that had featured in more than one of her dreams by now - and in his too - she remembered. Merlin, how was she even going to look at him now, knowing that last night he had dreamt kissing her senseless just there, his arms cradling her against his chest while his mouth mumbled words of adoration and love into her ears. But it was not real, none of those dreams were. The words Professor Snape said to her there, were probably only a result of her subconsciousness wishing for just that to happen. She closed her eyes in the hope to compose herself again, hastily reciting everything she had read about Occlumency and trying to make use of it. But it was of no use. As soon as she saw the sofa, her heartbeat stuttered and her thoughts were back in the gutter. Hermione could only pray that Professor Snape did not perform Legilimency on her just now.

 

“Don’t you want to sit down?” she finally heard him ask, aware of his eyes that seemed to study her with great intensity. It was better to avoid eye-contact just now, otherwise, he would surely know how she replayed the scenes from their shared dream, last night. And that would be more embarrassment than she could take.

 

“I think I prefer to stand,” Hermione finally stated, staring at her shoes. 

 

“As you wish,” the Professor replied with an audible sigh. For a moment she hoped he would still sit down, but then she heard him shuffle around in the back of the room until he was suddenly standing in front of her. 

 

“Here are the books I took from the library. It was wrong of me to take them in the first place and I want to give them to you now. I realize that I should have told you about our condition right in the beginning, as I now see that you would have reacted much more maturely than I had expected you to.”

 

Hermione glanced at his hands and after a slow blink, she started scanning the book titles. “This is not necessary, Professor. I have read all those books already. You can keep them here for all I care.” For a moment Hermione asked herself if she had gone too far, but then she realized, that she did not care. 

 

“I see,” Professor Snape said, his figure retreating to put the books back on the table by the window. “I would have offered you the knowledge I have gained during the last weeks, but as you have read my notes, I don’t have that to offer either.”

 

Hermione raised her eyes a bit so that she was now staring at the man’s chest. “You don’t have to offer me anything, Sir.”

 

“Nothing but an apology, you mean,” he said and again he was in front of her. “Because that you deserve, for everything that I did to you and your parents.”

Suddenly she could feel his hand below her chin, raising it gently so that she was soon forced to look at him. He looked somehow different, he realized, his dark eyes full of emotions instead of the dark, expressionless orbs they used to be. Somehow, they were pulling her in, the intensity of them taking her breath away for a few seconds. “I was a coward to not talk to you right away, a coward and a fool. But I was afraid, afraid of your reaction to the news of being connected to me.”

 

Hermione swallowed heavily. “I understand, Sir. You operated under the assumption that the bond is permanent and wanted to save yourself the humiliation of being connected to an awkward teenager. But you are not. As I said, the bond can be undone, if that is our wish.” She did not understand, why her chest finally felt so heavy at those words. It had never been an option for them to act on the bond and be more than just student and teacher, not with him looking down at her like that.

 

“No, you do not understand,” he said, his eyes never leaving hers. “I do not have the wish to undo the bond between us, Miss Granger, not any longer.”

 

“You don’t?” Hermione asked, her eyes staring at him in disbelief. Was that another attempt to manipulate her? “Why? I refuse to play your test subject any longer, Sir.”

 

At that, a pained expression flickered across his face. “I want to keep the bond, because I am a very selfish man. Your observations yesterday were correct, Miss Granger. I am indeed a lonely man and have been for many years now.” Slowly the grip on her chin loosened and his hand let go of her. Hermione did not move though, as his eyes had somehow paralysed her and she did not mean in a physical sense. But she found, she did not know what to say and more importantly, did not want to move herself or even her eyes away from him. 

“Those last weeks have been some of the least agonizing in my life and that is due to your presence. I have come to appreciate it and I would hate to lose it now.”

 

For a moment Hermione thought she was back in one of her dreams, as this man in front of her simply could not be the same man who had written all those hurtful words. Was her subconsciousness playing tricks on her again? 

“I don’t think I know what you’re saying, Sir,” she whispered, her voice sounding small. 

 

But the Professor did not mock her for it. His face took on a kind expression as he said: “I like spending time with you, Miss Granger. I like discussing magical theories with you or brewing together in the lab. This bond exists for a reason, but I am sure you are aware of that. You and I are alike, Hermione, in many ways. Only that I took a different turn in life, which I have come to regret dearly. Still, I think we could make good friends, or research partners if that is what you prefer.”

 

Hermione could just stare at him, her mind still contemplating his words and the fact, that he had just addressed her by her given name. He wanted to be her friend? But that would mean he cared for her in some way, liked her even. But why did he write those hurtful things about her then? 

“Do you mean it, Sir? Because I remember you saying in your diary, that you found it tedious to spend time with me. Or are you just saying this, so I will agree to meet you from time to time to stabilize the bond?”

 

For a moment Professor Snape looked frustrated with her. She could see him pull his hair with a pained expression on his face. “As I said, I’ve been an idiot . This diary has been my pitiful attempt to distance myself from you, not because I disliked you, but because I wanted to convince myself that I did not need this, that I don’t need anyone .”

 

Suddenly Hermione could see it all, the sadness in the man’s face speaking volumes. She could see his loneliness, the fear of being alone again after finally having found someone and the need to convince himself that he would be fine, if she turned him down. And suddenly she understood

“But you do,” Hermione continued for him, before breaking out in a hesitant smile. “And that is alright, Professor. There is no shame in wanting the companionship of another human being.” 

 

Professor Snape stared back at her in silence, his eyes ghosting over her face, taking in her features as to judge what she would say next. Somehow this man was not her Professor right now, but a man who was hoping to have found someone who finally understood.

Hermione sighed. To this, she could relate, as she too had lived twelve years of her life without gaining a single friend. 

She sighed. “I think you are right, Sir. We do have many things in common and we could make good partners or even friends one day. But for that, I first need to learn to trust you again. Because right now I cannot but fear that you are just trying to manipulate me again.”

 

“Understandable. Trust, once lost, is hard to gain back. I have made this experience myself. I will do my best to not disappoint you,” he swore with a serious expression on his face. “How about we continue testing the light crystal we have brought back from the cave? I suggest we switch roles today, meaning I’ll be the one taking notes. Maybe this way we’ll discover something the other one of us overlooked.”

 

Hermione nodded. It was a good idea, also because it made her feel equal in this newly established research-partnership. “I’d like that, Sir,” she said, a hesitant smile on her face.

 

“You have the permission to call me by my given name, Severus, as long as it is only the two of us. Would you feel comfortable enough doing so?” her Professor asked, a hopeful glimmer in his eyes. 

 

She considered his offer for a moment. “I could try, Sir. But I might slip from time to time, as I am not used to calling you anything else than Professor Snape. And you should probably call me Hermione, too.”

 

At that, his face broke out into a happy smile, which suddenly made him look years younger. Also, his teeth looked much better, now that she thought about it.

“It would be my pleasure, Hermione,” he said, the sound of his name mouthed by his deep baritone making her shiver for a moment. Somehow it reminded her of those dreams that revisited her night after night, dreams that were shared among the both of them – a fact he was currently unaware of. Should she tell him?

 

Hermione considered the thought for a moment, but the thought of confessing this embarrassing detail seemed too much for at the moment. Still, she guessed he would need to know sooner or later. After all, she hated it when he had kept their condition a secret. Hermione was pretty sure that he, too, would dislike not having all the facts and she was not going to make the same mistakes that he had. She was better than that, even though letting him know would require all her Gryffindor courage. Luckily she did not have to tell him herself. 

“Sir?” she asked, looking at him with a questioning expression. “Maybe we could postpone our research to a later date. I think I would like to show you something, instead.”

 

“Show me what?” Professor Snape asked, his eyebrow raised in curiosity.

 

Hermione smiled. “The Room I used to research Kindred Magic.”



Ssssssss



Severus stared at the girl in front of him in amazement, his eyes taking in the room, that had just appeared out of thin air. It was a small, comfortable sitting room with two cosy armchairs and a little shelf, which was nothing special per se , if there wasn’t the little fact that the room should not have been there . Severus knew the castle by heart, he had wandered its halls for over twenty years now but he had never come across this particular room. 

 

“This room is called the Room of Requirements,” Miss Granger explained, her voice almost shy. “It can morph into whatever shape is required by the one seeking it out. Last year Harry, I and a few others used it to train defence, for example.”

 

It was proof of the girls' growing trust in him that she told him those things and Severus would be damned if he would not honour this second chance to be freely given to him. The girl was truly a miracle and more forgiving than he could ever deserve. 

“How peculiar,” he said, carefully walking towards the shelf, scanning the books resting inside. Some of them he knew, but some of them were titles he had not heard about before. “So this is how you found all those books...” he said, carefully taking out one of the unknown volumes. 

 

“Yeah. I asked the room to provide me with a place, where I could find out everything about Kindred Magic, Sir,” she admitted, staring at her shoes with pink cheeks. Why did he have the feeling that she was suddenly embarrassed? There was no reason for her to be. 

 

“Thank you for showing me this place, Hermione,” he said in a friendly voice, using her given name on purpose. It would probably take a while for her to feel comfortable in his presence again, but hopefully, she would, with time. “Shall we sit down and read for a bit? Or do you prefer going back to my office to continue with your detention?”

 

At that, her cheeks reddened even more. “I think we should go back to your office, Sir,” she said, ignoring his invitation to use his given name. He did not mind... much. “I did not attempt to find a way around my detention by showing you this. And I have read all those books, by now.”

 

He sighed. “Very well. Let’s head back then. I can always come back later on.”

Miss Granger nodded with a smile and for a moment Severus thought that she looked relieved at the prospect of leaving the room behind. Somehow he got the impression that there was more to it then her wanting to rightfully serve her detention with him, but he guessed he would find out, with time. 




Chapter Text

‘Shared dreams,’ Severus thought while he stared at the page in the book with growing horror. This is why Miss Granger had looked so embarrassed when showing him those unknown books. No wonder she hadn’t wanted to wait and sit at his side, while he discovered that bit of information. Merlin’s hairy balls! As if things hadn’t already been difficult enough. The thought alone that Miss Granger, no Hermione , had shared every one of those dreams, had felt every kiss and every embrace they had shared, but not shared at the same time…

Had she been disgusted after she woke up? Afraid? Aroused? Had she maybe even touched herself afterwards? Morgana’s tits, he needed to stop that line of thoughts immediately and get his thoughts out of the gutter. Nothing good could come out of it. He was her fucking Professor and they had just moved on to a less awkward and strained relationship. He could not risk messing that up again. But how was he supposed to speak to her, to teach her now? Knowing that she knew ? It was impossible and still, he had to do it, not only because it was his damned job but because he did not want to make things awkward between them again. And avoiding her now after she had shown him such an amount of trust would send the entirely wrong signal to her. 

 

Severus closed the book on his lap with a groan, burying his face in his hands. Somehow he had to do this, he had to face Miss Granger, watch her and the fucking Weasel hold hands, knowing that it was him she dreamed of, not that red-haired idiot. Would those dreams now slowly stop, that she was about to fall in love with somebody else? Maybe. But what if they did not? Could that be a sign that she was secretly thinking about him, too? Or would it be his fault, because he wished there could be more between them? Would she think it was his fault? God, he hoped not, because he was already feeling bad enough as it was, without Hermione blaming him, too. 



Ssssssss



To say that the rest of the week was awkward would have been the understatement of the year, Hermione thought. 

It all started with another dream the night after she had shown her Professor the Room of Requirements. And strangely enough, it played out in that very room, featuring one of the armchairs she had so far only used for reading. But this time she was not reading at all, but climbing onto Severus lap, straddling him with her thighs, burying her fingers into his soft black her, while she kissed him senseless. His growing erection was grinding against her core, making her want more than she ever seemed possible. Luckily the dream ended before things got even more heated and she woke up, gasping for air and aching in all the wrong places. Once more it was like she could still feel his hands on her, cradling her against his lean body, making her feel so good, so wanted and aching for more. But no, she would not touch herself, she had not done so for a long while, definitely not after she had discovered that they were sharing those dreams. But knowing that he was probably awake now too, probably feeling the same ache and longing like she was made her feel strangely excited and mortified at the same time. Would he relieve himself? And if he did, would she be able to feel it through the bond if she just listened carefully enough? No, she mustn’t think about that now. It was none of her business what Professor Snape did or did not do in his bed, or in the shower or… no! She had to stop this train of thoughts immediately. 

 

Merlin, why did she tell him about those dreams? Was it her damned need to show off her knowledge again? It was possible, even though she had not thought so yesterday evening. But did it even matter now? Professor Snape knew and she would have to face him in the morning for her DADA lesson. She could only hope he would not again ask her to duel with him because that was probably more than she could take right now. 

 

During breakfast, she could not even glance towards the teacher’s table, glad for any form of distraction the boys so freely offered. 

“Patrolling wasn’t so bad,” Ron told them while savouring his ham and eggs. “Malfoy was mostly silent, like he was brooding over something, but he didn’t even insult me. Isn’t that strange?”

 

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, staring at the blonde Slytherin with a contemplative expression. “He seems different this year, don’t you think?”

 

Hermione shrugged. To be honest he hadn’t given Malfoy a second thought since the new school year started, even though she should have , if Harry’s theory was right. But somehow her heart just wasn’t in it, right now. “Maybe,” she admitted, picking at her food. “He hasn’t insulted us, or talked to us, at all. Maybe he’s just finally starting to grow up.”

 

Harry, who was sitting across from her at the table, snorted. “Yeah, sure, and Hagrid is going to teach ballet classes from next week on,” he said in an amused tone.

 

“What’s ballet?” Ron asked and Hermione was thankful for the bit of distraction that explaining the concept of Muggle ballet to him offered.  

 

Only that the awkwardness continued as soon as Hermione entered the DADA classroom. Luckily, Professor Snape did not ask her to duel him today, choosing poor Ron instead for a partner, only to wipe the floor with him. Hermione was paired off with Harry instead and for once in her life, she felt like she was doing better in defence than him. But she guessed during her last lesson, Professor Snape had given her a head-start in non-verbal casting.

“Well, Mr Weasley,” the Professor drawled until Ron had once more gotten back on his feet, a grim expression on his face. “If you really want to make a career as an Auror one day, you’ll have to do better than that .”

 

Hermione felt like rolling her eyes. If she didn’t know better one could have thought, Professor Snape was picking on Ron on purpose. But that was ridiculous. He had always used the method of intimidation and pointing out one’s mistakes to teach, and with most of them, it worked pretty well. At least Hermione thought that Ron was indeed improving. 

“Potter, your turn,” Professor Snape barked, releasing a gruff-looking Ron, who seemed completely fine except for his wounded ego. Harry stalked over to the Professor with a proud, stubborn look in his eyes, while Ron hurried towards her with a relieved look on his face.

“Merlin, now I know why you felt the need to hurt him,” he mumbled, before taking on his duelling position. “The man is an arrogant prick. I would have tried to hex him too, if I thought I’d had a chance. Then we could have been in detention together,” Ron said, casting her a shy smile.

 

Hermione nodded and smiled back awkwardly. Considering that Severus would probably ask her after those shared dreams today, she almost wished Ron would have done just that.



ssssssss

 

 

Severus equally dreaded and anticipated Hermione’s last detention in the evening. It wasn’t that he did not look forward to seeing her, he just did not know what to say when he did. What did one say to the woman, he was sharing highly inappropriate dreams with? Should he even say something? Gods, this was so difficult and totally outside of his comfort zone.

 

The girl knocked at his door at exactly seven again, indicating that she, too, did not look forward to this meeting. He could only imagine how embarrassed she was, those dreams being probably the last thing she wanted, after having been disappointed so badly by him. Not that he was the man teenage girls fancied and dreamed about, to begin with. Still, she had let him know what was happening to them and even though he somehow wished he had no idea about those shared dreams, he was still forever grateful that she had told him. 

“Good evening, Miss Granger,” he greeted her more politely than he usually would and ushered her into his office. His private quarters maybe would not be a good choice of location today and neither would his lab, as both places were frequently featured in their dreams. “Shall we work on the light crystals today? Or is there anything else you’d like to show me… or talk about?”

 

“Nothing, Sir,” she said, her cheeks pinkening as soon as she raised her eyes to look at him. Good, he did not want to talk about this either, he thought. It wasn’t like any of them could influence those embarrassing dreams anyway, therefore talking about them probably wouldn’t change a thing or only make things worse.

 

He looked at her with a decidedly neutral expression.“Then I guess we should start right away. Today it will be my turn to test the crystal again. I think one or two more of these sessions and we will be able to start integrating it into the microscope, don’t you think?”   

 

Hermione stared at the crystal on his desk contemplatively. “It is possible, Sir.”

 

“Severus,” he corrected her, a small smile on his face.

 

“Severus,” the girl repeated, a shy smile on her lips. But it did not matter. She had used his first name which meant things between them were good, right? Well, maybe they were not perfect , yet, but they could still get there, with time. And luckily Severus Snape was a patient man. 



Ssssssss



“Mum, dad, tomorrow I am going on a date,” Hermione announced into her two-way mirror, after she had gotten back from her last detention with Professor Snape. She would not call him Severus in her head, as she did not want to risk slipping in front of the other students because that would definitely raise awkward questions. 

 

“Really, Pumpkin? Pumpkin, we’re so happy for you!” her mother announced with an excited squeal and Hermione was glad she had silenced the curtains of her four-poster bed. “Whom did you ask? Is it Ron?” 

Hermione smiled. “Yeah, I asked him, like you suggested I should. You were right. He was very happy to join me.” 

Her mum beamed at her, while her father looked at her with an encouraging smile. He was never one to talk much, but his eyes said it all.

Her mum, on the other hand, could barely reign in her excitement. “I’m sure you’ll have so much fun. Just... don’t eat any onions beforehand and don’t forget to brush your teeth very carefully .”

Hermione cringed internally, but at the same time, she could not hide her amused smile. “It’s too late for that kind of advice, mum. I... already kissed him.” 

At that, her father started to look slightly green, whereas her mum looked, like she wanted to climb through the little mirror to pull her into an excited hug. “That’s my girl,” she cooed with a smug grin. “Sometimes it is us girls who need to take the initiative. It was the same with Dan and me. Isn’t that right, love?” 

Her dad suddenly looked, like he wanted to be anywhere but at her mum’s side, chatting about how he got hooked by the firey Emma Jankins. Not, that Hermione did not know the story already. It was one of her mum’s fondest memories.

“Sure it is,” her father mumbled and Hermione could see him petting her mum’s leg. They still seemed happy with each other, Hermione noticed with a happy feeling in her chest. 

“Well? How was it?” her mum finally asked her, an excited glimmer in her eyes. “Is he a good kisser?” 

Merlin! That wasn’t really wasn’t something she wanted to talk about with her parents, at least not with her dad, who had been suspiciously absent whenever the subject of love and ... sex was mentioned ... in an educational sense of course. Now, too, he seemed growingly uncomfortable and it was only a moment until he got up, an awkward smile on his lips. “I think I have forgotten to turn off the water in the garden,” he said and Hermione did not believe him for a second. Not that she minded him leaving, because there were some topics she rather discussed without him listening in. “I’ll just...” Hermione saw him motion towards the door in the background and a moment later he was off, much to her and her mum’s amusement. 

“Well, so much for dating advice from your dad,” her mum said, as soon as the door closed behind her. “He’d probably say something like: stay true to yourself and don’t be too nervous about the whole thing.”

 

Hermione thought it was a piece of rather sensible advice and not too hard to follow, as she knew Ron for many years already. 

“I thought about doing something with my hair...” Hermione admitted, gesturing at the wild mess of hair on her head. “And maybe putting on some lipstick? Or so you think that would be too much?” 

“Nah, I’m sure it will be fine. We want your boy to understand that he’s special to you, after all. Don’t we?” 

Hermione nodded with a smile. Ron was special to her, in his very own way. 

“So, back to that kiss. How was it?” her mum whispered conspiratorially. Not that anyone would have heard her, as her dad was probably as far away as he could get in their house. 

“Uhm, well... It was nice, I guess. Ron was very enthusiastic, you know?” she admitted with a blush. “I mean, it was exciting and everything but maybe we just need to practise a bit more.” 

Her mum laughed. “I’m sure tomorrow you’ll get the chance to do just that. And don’t worry, there’s no right or wrong way to kiss, there’s no perfect technique or something like that. Just do what you enjoy and you’ll be fine...”

“Alright, thanks mum,” Hermione said with a small smile on her face. Do what feels right , maybe wasn't very concrete advice but it sounded sensible enough. And going by the number of kisses she and Professor Snape traded in their dreams, one should think that she had done a fair amount of practising already , if only in her mind. Only that those kisses felt a hundred times more natural than her fumblings with Ron, but they were only a dream and those could rarely compare to reality. 

Hermione sighed. She probably just needed to practise more and get used to the feeling of Ron’s tongue and the wetness of it and things would start getting more enjoyable. And maybe those dreams would then finally stop.

 

Chapter Text

Saturday, in the end, came faster than Hermione could have imagined and even though Hermione missed breakfast because Ginny kept fussing over her hair she could not really find herself caring. She would see Ron soon enough and Hogsmeade offered plenty of possibilities to grab a bite. And Hermione was pretty sure that Ron would get hungry again sooner rather than later. 

 

Finally it was ten and Hermione strolled down into the big entrance hall where Ron already waited for her. Harry was indeed nowhere to be seen and for a moment she asked herself if he would go to Hogsmeade alone today and if she should feel guilty about it. 

 

“Hello Mione,” Ron greeted her with an almost shy smile on his lips. “Erm, you look great.”

 

Her heart made a tiny pleased flutter at his compliment. Looks like her lessons with Ginny already paid off. “Thanks, Ron. Should we go?” Hermione looked around and unsurprisingly they seemed to be among the first ones to leave the castle. Most of the students rather used the Saturdays to sleep in and head to Hogsmeade for lunch. 

 

“Sure,” Ron said and offered her his hand. Hermione took it with a happy smile. They had been holding hands now a few times, mostly during mealtimes when they sat next to each other. Hermione had come to enjoy this sweet, innocent proof of his affection for her. It was something they could do in public without getting scolded for it and therefore it was a good way to show the world, that Hermione Granger indeed had a boyfriend - or something coming close to that. It wasn’t official just yet, well at least they hadn’t really spoken of it, just … snogged a bit. Did this mean they were together now? Huh, she didn’t know, but she decided that this was something they would talk about today.  

 

The walk into the village was beautiful; the last days of summer leaving the air warm enough to just head down in a T-shirt and jeans. It wouldn’t be long until temperatures dropped again and Hermione was determined to make the most of the day and the weather.

 

“Where should we head first?” Hermione asked while gently pressing Ron’s hand that was still holding hers. His hand was much bigger than hers and there were quite a few calluses on his palm, probably from his Quidditch training. She did not mind though as the feeling of his rough skin just made her feel protected, in a way she could not explain. 

 

Ron looked at her with a happy grin. “Maybe Zonko’s first? Later on, the shop’s always crowded, same for Honeydukes. Afterwards, we could grab a bite. Somewhere there’s supposed to be some sort of café, that seems to be quite popular for dates. What do you think?”

 

She looked at him with a disbelieving smile. “You want to take me to Madame Puddifoot’s? Really? Don’t you think it will be a bit too…”

 

“Nah, I’m sure it will be fine,” Ron answered with a shrug. “Can’t be so bad when they all go there, can it?”

 

Hermione smiled. “I guess we’re about to find out.”



Ssssssss



Severus hated Hogsmeade patrols with a passion. Usually, Saturdays were the days where he could finally have some time to himself, reading, researching, sleeping, but whenever those hordes of idiots decided to roam the village now, he would have to be on patrol, because the Dark Lord would just be waiting for a chance to strike. Why Dumbledore did not cancel those useless little outings under the given circumstances was totally beyond him.

Instead of keeping the students safe behind Hogwarts’ walls, the Headmaster let them roam free, while the whole fucking Order was ordered to watch after them like they did not need a damned break too, from time to time. Severus knew he definitely needed a break and a good night of sleep that wasn’t interrupted by him waking up with a fucking boner that just did not want to go away . It was like he was a seventeen-year-old again, wanking away in the shower in the hopes of finally getting his raging hormones under control. But it was a futile attempt. 

 

Luckily he had gotten the first shift, which meant that most of those teenage idiots would still be in the castle and there was less for him to do. Sometimes he had half an hour of blissful silence before the first students arrived, leaving him with enough time to stroll through the village, sipping coffee, but not today. He had barely reached his post, as he could see the first students stroll down the path to the village and it did not take long for him to recognize who it was. Good gods, Weasley was taking Hermione on a date and going by the content smile on her face and their entwined hands, she was enjoying herself. 

 

Severus tried not to look too close and instead forced himself to check the surroundings to make sure they would not be attacked on their little romantic outing. But whenever he wasn’t paying attention, he felt his eyes shift back towards her, taking in her petite figure, her smile and her hair, which she had somehow tamed into soft curls. He had only once seen her do it, at the Yule Ball, and the realization that Weasley was the one she was doing it again for, made him want to choke the red-headed fool with his bare hands. Why did she have to fall for the most unworthy fool there was at Hogwarts? This was Lily all over again, Severus realized, wanting to pull out his hair in frustration. How could such intelligent women not realize what a stupid choice they had made?

 

Severus watched the two lovebirds as they made their way to Zonko’s, where they stayed for exactly 25 minutes and 20 seconds. Through the window he could see Hermione look around the shop in fake interest, a wide smile plastered on her face, while her fingers kept thrumming on whatever surface she found. Just when the two of them entered Honeydukes, the next students arrived and left him with less time to… guard Miss Granger and Mr Weasley, but at least she seemed to have bought something this time, when they left the shop 16 minutes and 30 seconds later. That’s when they entered fucking Madame Puddifoot’s. Of all the places to go, Weasley just had to pick the most unimaginative destination for a date… this absolutely sealed it. The boy was an unworthy idiot. If he just had a way to let Hermione realize it, without shredding the little trust they had just built up!



Ssssssss

 

Hermione saw Ron eyeing the pink and golden decorations in disgust and it took all her self-control to not snort into her cup of tea. She could tell he hated it here, hated drinking tea out of tiny cups that did not hold more than a few sips. The over-sweetened biscuits probably held some appeal for him, but by the look of it, they did not help to make him feel much better.

Hermione could not blame him. This place was ridiculous and the girlish giggles coming from the table behind her made her want to get up and run. But she could not do that, right? Because it surely would insult Ron, if she bolted from the place he had chosen for them.

 

“Errr, how’re your parents?” Ron asked after a while, an awkward smile on his face. She saw him eyeing the table behind her and really, he just had finished his sentence as another fit of giggles erupted behind her. Dear god... How was she supposed to concentrate on talking to him if she felt like they were permanently watched?

“Good,” Hermione said, plastering a smile on her face. “They settled in pretty quickly and I even think they like it, where they are now. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to convince them to move back. Not when wizarding transportation allows me to visit them within the blink of an eye.”

Ron nodded understandingly. “Yeah, apparition and port keys are pretty brilliant, once you got used to the feeling of it. The ride to Egypt was pretty rough. Think I was sick for a whole day afterwards.”

Hermione smiled understandingly. “Yeah. But I’ve been told side-along apparition is much worse than doing it yourself. Can’t wait to learn apparating myself.”

Her words were followed by another fit of giggles from behind her and she saw Ron eying the two girls behind her with an annoyed expression on his face. “Hermione? Could we… would you mind if…”

He mumbled, his face slowly rising in colour.

Hermione smiled. “You mean if we can get out of here?” she asked, a hopeful smile on her face.

“Yeah,” Ron said, awkwardly scratching his neck. “It’s just…” It was obvious that he did not know what to say. But he did not have to, as she was sure she pretty much felt the same. 

“This here… this isn’t really us, is it?” she supplied helpfully and saw Ron nod in relief. 

“Not really, no,” he said, with a small smile. “You really don’t mind? We can also stay a while longer, if it makes you happy.”

Hermione shook her head with a laugh. “No thanks. I think I’ve had enough. Let’s pay and get out of here. This place is...” 

“Awful?” Ron said, an awkward smile on his lips. 

Hermione nodded. “I wouldn’t have said it like that, but yeah...  pretty much.” 

It was only five minutes later that they stumbled out of Madame Puddifoot’s café arm in arm, vowing to never enter that horrible place again.

“Merlin, have you seen the decorations in the ceiling?” Ron asked her, his voice a disbelieving laugh. “It’s worse than Lockhart on Valentine's day.” 

Hermione giggled next to him. “It is beyond me how other girls can like that place. Even the food was horrible.” 

Ron snorted. “And fucking expensive. And I’m not even nearly full enough to enter the bookshop, yet.” 

She giggled. It almost sounded like facing more than ten books was something Ron did not want to do on an empty stomach, which was ridiculous, of course. It was probably just that Ron could not do anything on an empty stomach, which was so totally him, that it was almost cute...almost. 

 

Ssssssss

 

This day was getting worse and worse, Severus thought two hours later. He had been right, Hermione and her boyfriend did not make it for ten minutes in the ridiculous café, but when they came out, they were snorting and giggling with laughter. It was wrong! She wasn’t supposed to react like that and she definitely wasn’t supposed to cling to his arm and laugh at his jokes, which were surely far from funny. But she did and with sinking heart Severus watched her accompany Weasley, the lucky fool, into the Three Broomsticks and later on into the bookshop. What did the moron even want there? It wasn’t like he would ever look into a book, if he wasn’t absolutely forced to...

While carefully patrolling the area around, because that was what he was doing, he saw the redhead fidget and look at several books without much enthusiasm. When Severus passed the store the next time, ten minutes later, the boy was even carrying some books for the girl with an idiotic smile plastered on his face – like he would ever enjoy doing such a thing. It was absolutely ridiculous . But going by the blissful smile on Miss Granger’s face she was falling for it, chattering to the oblivious boy like he was able to understand a word she said – which he surely didn’t, as Severus could not see him say very much in return.

When Severus passed the bookstore for a third time, about 28 minutes after they had entered, he saw the two of them exit it again. Weasley had made it in there for 28 minutes, he should have been impressed. Miss Granger surely was, going by the enthusiasm with which she clung to the boy’s arm. Severus snorted. He had been book shopping with her for fucking two hours , a feat that Mr Weasley was far from achieving. In direct comparison to him the boy didn’t stand a chance – theoretically speaking. Maybe he should take the girl to Diagon Alley once more, just as a friendly outing of course. It had to be enough to make her realize her mistake, right? Because considering their momentary situation there wasn’t much else he could do.

By the look of it Miss Granger and the idiot decided on a stroll through the village. There wasn’t anything to say against that, well, apart from the fact that a Death Eater could lurk behind every fucking corner. Severus sighed. He guessed he’d have to follow them, because there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d let something happen to his bond-mate.

“Ah, Severus!” the loud voice of Horace Slughorn greeted him from across the street. The fucking walrus was using his patrol time for some additional shopping, going by the bags that obediently floated after him. “Always on duty, always on duty...” he commented, looking him up and down like he was hoping to find some shopping bags with him, too, that could excuse his unacceptable behaviour. Of course, the old fart would find none, as Severus knew his duty.

“I’m only doing what the Headmaster asked of us,” Severus replied coldly, his eyes inconspicuously tracking the two teenagers on their way towards the less frequented part of the village.

“Yes, yes. Of course,” Slughorn assured him, a smile spreading on his face. “I’ll join you in a moment. But there’s this nice little wine shop around the corner and I really need to stock up my collection. I need some more bottles for the next Slug Club meeting - I plan on holding one in a few days. And we wouldn’t want the  students disappointed by this little outing, would we?” The man laughed pompously. “I’ll join you afterwards. Most of the students are in the Three Broomsticks anyway and Hagrid was happy to keep watch there.” Slughorn chuckled good-naturedly and Severus had to do his utmost to not sneer at him. Hadn’t this idiot been on the run for months? How could it be that he was so careless now? 

“See that you do,” Severus said before he turned into the direction that Miss Granger and the Weasley-idiot had taken a moment ago. “You know what trouble those students can get themselves into.”

“Right, right,” the other man mumbled, before dashing off towards the wine store. One could almost think that he had not heard a word of what Severus had been saying. Idiot. 



Ssssssss

 

“How about we sit down here and talk for a bit?” Hermione asked after they had aimlessly wandered around in Hogsmeade for about fifteen minutes. Now, they had reached the edge of the village and Hermione looked at a beautiful meadow that was lying ahead of them. 

“Yeah, why not?” Ron said, looking around before pointing towards a nice spot. It was shaded by a large tree and once Hermione had conjured a nice picnic blanket for them, it was the perfect place for sitting down. Hermione lowered herself on the blanket and Ron sat down next to her, taking her hand into his a moment later. Hermione looked at him with a happy smile. Ron was suddenly so kind and suddenly he was so attentive with her. 

"Ron? I wondered if…” Hermione started, as she felt the question could suddenly not wait any longer. She wanted to know, no needed to know, what kind of label she could put onto… this. “Are we… I mean… can I call you my boyfriend now? Or is this just… I mean… are we just trying things out?”

The redhead looked at her with a hesitant smile. “Dunno. Would you like to be? My girlfriend I mean. It’s okay if you don’t…”

Hermione chuckled. “Look at us. We’re both too hesitant to say it, aren’t we? Yes, I’d love to be your girlfriend, Ron. You’re kind and brave and we’ve known each other for years,” she said, enjoying the happy smile she brought onto his face. ‘With you I know what I’m getting myself into,’ she added in her head. ‘With you I’ll be safe, and to get hurt.’

“Brilliant!” Ron exclaimed, before pulling her into a high-spirited kiss. Hermione welcomed his mouth readily and kissed him back enthusiastically. They were really doing this, she realized when she felt his tongue enter her mouth and his arms close around her. It felt good, she thought, and grabbed the front of his T-shirt, her tongue exploring her boyfriend’s mouth on her own. Doing that felt… exciting... and suddenly she was glad for her mum’s hint to brush her teeth carefully. Because as it looked they wouldn’t stop kissing each other anytime soon - and Hermione was absolutely fine with that. Because that’s what you were supposed to be doing with your boyfriend, right?

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

By the time Severus found Miss Granger and the redhead snogging under a cherry tree at the edge of the village, Severus had thought the day could not get any worse. Seeing them like this was like being stabbed in the chest, repeatedly, and all he could do was stumble backwards and transform himself into his animagus form, as soon as he was out of their line of sight. Someone still had to watch those randy teenagers that had sauntered so far away from where it was safe, after all. Not that he wanted to witness Miss Granger’s face being almost licked off by an over-enthusiastic and clearly inexperienced Weasley. The sight alone was enough to put him off of his food for the rest of the day. The girl did not seem to mind though, at least not enough to pull away, even though she seemed much more hesitant about this than her wannabe boyfriend. It couldn’t be for the lack of experience, for Mr Weasley obviously had none

Severus picked a hiding spot within the trees of the edge of the forest. From here he would not be seen, not even by Miss Granger, who was aware of his animagus form. It wouldn’t do for her to witness him lurking around, while she made her first real experiences with… boys. He turned his head away, so that he was just aware of them from the corner of his eyes. Therefore he would be aware if there was any danger to her without having to witness any details. Because what he had seen was enough to make his heart clench in… annoyance? Angst? Jealously? He wasn’t even sure what it was, that he was feeling. But did it even matter? Miss Granger was his , she was connected to him by their magic for Salazar’s sake! She wasn’t supposed to snog some stupid Gryffindor idiot on a crappy date and let him lick her face like a goddamn dog ! It wasn’t supposed to be like this, Severus realized, and he could have sworn that he felt his magic confirm this new train of thought. He was pretty damn sure that Kindred Magic was meant to be two persons together, exclusively , meaning that there was no room for a third, unwelcome intruder. But what was he supposed to do about it? The girl still wasn’t of age and even then she would still be his student. But he could not endure this torture for another two years and he was pretty sure that their bond wouldn’t withstand such a hardship either. 

 

It must have been almost an hour before the two teenagers finally decided to head back towards the castle and Severus decided to follow them in his bird form, at some distance. By now, it was early afternoon and the village should have been brimming with children. Strangely enough, there were only a few trailing the streets now and then. Luckily the end of his shift had approached now too and therefore it was without having a bad conscience that he flew back to the castle, as he did not feel much like walking back in his thick robes. He could still watch Miss Granger’s way back from a window sill and would be able to see any approaching attackers long before they would be able to reach his bond-mate. And if one of his former Death Eater comrades tried, he would rip them to pieces. 

 

He had barely landed on the windowsill of his current DADA classroom though, as a house-elf appeared next to him, wringing his hands while focussing him with a nervous expression in his saucer-like eyes. 

“Headmaster Dumbledore asks Professor Snape to join him at the hospital wing immediately,” the creature squeaked and for a moment a detached part of his brain asked how the elf had been able to recognise him in his animagus form. He definitely was not able to answer the house-elf like that, not that he needed to. The message had been transmitted and that was all the little servant was expected to do. 

He stared at the house-elf with his black eyes, before his beak started to peck onto the glass of the window. Luckily the batty-eared creature understood and opened it for him, so that he could fly inside and transform back without being spotted by a nosy colleague or student. 

 

“I will head to the hospital wing right away,” he announced and turned towards the door, his black robe billowing behind him. He wondered who had gotten himself into trouble now. It couldn’t have been Miss Granger, as he had watched over her the whole time. And the knowledge that this was not about her, made him feel better, no matter what new problem lay ahead of him.



Ssssssss

 

Hermione and Ron had barely stumbled through the Fat Lady’s portrait hole, when Professor McGonagall came to find them. Her face was grave and Hermione knew immediately that something must have happened, something bad.

“Professor?” she asked, looking at her Head of the House with wide, worried eyes.

 

“Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, are you alright?” she asked, her eyes looking them up and down. 

 

“Sure,” Ron asked with a puzzled expression on her face. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

 

At that, Professor McGonagall’s face took on a sorrowful expression. “There has been an attack, you see? An attack on Mr Potter.”

 

Somehow it was like the rug under her feet had been pulled away. This was like the Triwizard Tournament again. “Harry? What happened? Is he hurt?”  

 

The older woman sighed. “We do not know exactly. He is currently unconscious and at the hospital wing. Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape are there, examining him.”

 

Hermione nodded, the heavy feeling in her chest growing. “Can we go and see him?”

 

“In a bit. I will tell a house-elf to fetch you, as soon as the Headmaster and Professor Snape are finished,” Minerva McGonagall replied, unable to hide the worry in her voice. This sounded bad, really bad. If Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape were there to see him, then this didn’t sound like Harry just had a bleeding nose from a quarrel with Malfoy. Up to now, Madam Pomfrey had usually been able to patch them up on her own. What had happened to Harry, that she now couldn’t? 



ssssssss

 

“Well Severus, do you agree with my assessment of the situation?” Albus asked him, his blue eyes focussing Severus with a scrutinizing gaze. 

 

Severus sighed, rubbing his temples in the hope to drive away the headache that threatened to form just there. It was of no use. This wasn’t good, far from it actually. 

“He’s been attacked with the killing curse,” he said, his voice flat, even though he could feel the panic that was building up inside him. “The residual energy from the curse is lingering in his body, attacking him. Still, the boy should be dead, but I guess Mister Potter has a history of surviving life-threatening situations.”

 

Albus did not even smile at his comment. Why would he? This situation was indeed grave. “Have you seen anything suspicious, Severus? You were on patrol duty, after all. I know you cannot have seen the attack itself, as I know you would have tried to protect Lily’s son, but they must have hidden somewhere, waiting for the right moment to strike.”

 

That was the thing. Severus had been so focussed on protecting his bond-made, that he had not been much more helpful than old Slughorn. The realization that his behaviour had almost cost Lily’s son his life, made his stomach drop with guilt. It would also be his fault if the boy died from the curses’ leftover energy that still flooded his body. “I haven’t seen anybody,” Severus confessed without admitting the fact that he had not really seen much else other than Miss Granger and Mr Weasley. “I’m sorry, Albus. Who found the boy?”

 

“Strangely enough that was Draco Malfoy,” Albus replied, his blue eyes seeking out his, probably to judge his reaction. “Do you think it possible that your godson was the one trying to kill him? Could it be his attempt to get back into Tom’s graces and save his family from his anger?”

 

Severus considered the Headmaster’s words. It was possible, even though he was inclined to believe that the boy did not have it in him to kill another human being in cold blood. But who knew what pressure Voldemort or maybe his aunt Bella put on him? Maybe if he had been desperate enough?

“I do not know Albus, but I guess it would be possible. Do you want me to fetch the boy and interrogate him?” 

 

At that, Albus shook his head. “No. I need you to stay here and try to help Harry. I know there is not exactly a cure against the Killing Curse, as it is not meant to be cured but… I can not help but hope that you still have the means to help him, that is... you and Miss Granger.”

 

Severus looked at him with a puzzled expression. “What do you expect us to do? This case is totally unprecedented and I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

 

Dumbledore looked at him with a small smile. “I think calling the girl in question into the infirmary wouldn’t be a bad start, don’t you think?”



Ssssssss



“Miss Granger, the Headmaster asks you into the hospital wing,” the squeaky voice of Squirmy, the house-elf, had announced, only minutes after Professor McGonagall had informed her and Ron about the situation. 

 

“What about me?” Ron had asked, but the little servant had adamantly shaken its over-sized head. 

 

“Only Miss Granger is asked to come,” the little male announced, his chest puffed proudly. “Squeaky is tasked to take her there himself and without delay. The Headmaster sounded very urgent, Miss.”

 

Hermione looked at her boyfriend with an apologetic gaze, before hastily jumping to her feet. “I am ready to leave right away, Squeaky. Will you be so kind as to apparate me?”  

 

The elf nodded determinedly and as soon as Hermione had taken his little hand, they were gone, Ron’s confused and disappointed eyes following her until she disappeared.

 

When Hermione reappeared at the hospital wing a moment later, the Headmaster and Professor Snape were already waiting for her at Harry’s bed. Her friend had been moved into a private room, which could only mean that things were bad or at least ... complicated.

“Harry…” she whispered, staring down at her friend’s lifeless form in dismay. Only then she remembered the Professor’s presence and how rude it was not to greet them first.

“Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Snape,” she said, unable to hide the emotion in her voice. 

“What happened to Harry? What’s wrong with him?”

 

She saw the men trade a look at her question and a moment later she saw the Headmaster nod.

“He’s been attacked with the Killing Curse,” Severus explained to her with a sigh. 

 

Hermione’s eyes went wide. “Someone tried to kill him? Who? How? And will he… is he…” She felt panic gripping her, her eyes trailing from the two men to her friend on the bed. Professor Dumbledore looked at her with sympathy and she could slowly feel him walking closer towards her. 

 

“That, we do not know, Miss Granger. We do know that your friend is not dead, which is a miracle in itself. Still, the residual energy from the curse remains in his body and it is slowly but steadily attacking him. We do not know how much it will be able to harm him.”

 

Hermione looked at the man with a pleading expression, but he just returned her look with a sad smile. Finally, her eyes shifted to Severus, who still sat next to Harry’s bed, his eyes dark, unfathomable orbs while he held back ramrod straight. “Is there nothing we can do?” she asked into the room, not sure which of the two men she was addressing. Both of them were known to have the answers and they wouldn’t have called for her to come here alone , if it was just for her to say goodbye. That did not make any sense.

 

“There is no known potion that could help your friend,” Professor Snape said calmly, while he focussed her with a steady expression. “As I earlier told the Headmaster this case is unprecedented, as the victims of the curse are usually killed right away.”

 

She nodded her understanding, even though her mind refused to accept the possibility of Harry dying here, with her standing next to him, unable to help. “But you do have an idea, am I right, Sir?” she asked, her eyes focussing on the Headmaster this time.  

 

Professor Dumbledore stroked his beard, while his eyes studied her with a calm, almost calculative expression. “I might, even though I cannot say if it’s any good. Tell me, Miss Granger, how much do you know about White Magic?”

 

Hermione looked at the man with wide eyes, her mind frantically searching for all information she had read on the topic. It wasn’t much, she realized in dismay. “White magic is usually associated with healing or protective magic,” she said, looking at the Headmaster for confirmation. “It is a very pure form of magic though and therefore almost impossible to use.”

 

Headmaster Dumbledore nodded with a pleased look on his face. “Exactly, Miss Granger. It is also the absolute opposite of Dark Magic and both forms of magic are stated to neutralize each other. White Magic was what enabled Harry to survive the killing curse as a one-year-old, his mother’s wish to sacrifice her life for his protecting him from a curse that is known to kill its victim without delay and mercy.”

 

Hermione nodded. Harry had told her about the protection his mother had bestowed on him. She just had not been aware that it had been White Magic. “So you think one could counter the curse with White Magic? Is that what you’ll be trying to do, Sir?”

 

At that, the old wizard looked at her with a kind but sad smile. “Unfortunately it takes a pure and unblemished soul to cast it, Miss Granger, which is the reason why I find myself unable to do so. You and Severus on the other hand… I believe you have read the books on Kindred Magic, Miss Granger. You know that your connection is of the purest kind.”

 

Suddenly, Hermione’s eyes widened in understanding. Of course, this is why he had asked for her. “What are you suggesting, Sir? What do you need me to do?”

 

The man’s blue eyes looked at her steadily, while his mouth formed a sad smile. “Kindred Spirits are only known to work White Magic on their bond partner,” he started and Hermione became aware of Professor Snape’s eyes that had come to rest on her, too. “You would probably be able to protect each other from the Killing Curse, if your bond was strong enough, but that would still not help poor Harry.” He smiled sadly. “There might be a way to transfer the residual energy from the curse to another person though.”

 

Professor Snape’s reaction was immediate. “Absolutely not,” he growled, suddenly rising from his chair. “I refuse to risk her life for one of your… experiments. This is madness, Albus!” 

 

“It is,” the Headmaster agreed with a nod. “But it’s the only idea I have, Severus. Do you have another suggestion on how to save young Mr Potter?”

 

The younger man remained silent, while he stared at Professor Dumbledore with a hard expression. “I have not,” he finally said, his eyes trailing over the boy on the bed. “But if I have to make a decision on whose life is more important to me…”

 

"I understand, my boy," Professor Dumbledore replied, seemingly unfazed by the other man's words. "It is your decision Severus, Miss Granger. I can not blame not wanting to risk your life for the mere possibility of achieving a positive result, especially if we could not even be sure if your bond would be strong enough to protect each other from such vile magic."

 

Professor Snape looked at him with a growl. "I know what you're doing, old man, and it's not working," he said, staring at the Headmaster with a cold expression. “Get out. I’d like to talk to Miss Granger alone.”

 

Hermione looked at Severus in surprise and confusion, but the Headmaster did not object and bowed his head towards her Professor. “As you wish, Severus. I am going to wait for you outside and make sure that you are not disturbed.”

 

She watched Severus look at the man with a dark expression, before the Headmaster retreated from the room a moment later. Suddenly it was just them and Harry - and Hermione could not help but wonder what the Professor had to say to her. 










 



Chapter Text

Severus could not help but feel trapped in this whole situation and it was a feeling he did not like at all. He could see Dumbledore’s insane plan clearly now, even if the man had not done much more than hinting towards it. But he had witnessed the old goat’s manipulations for years, and understood what he had been doing. It was what Albus had been doing with him for years now, never giving concrete orders and rarely asking him to do anything at all. It was always a helpful suggestion here or a brilliant but somewhat reckless idea there, inspiring him to draw the right conclusions himself. It often resulted in him making the necessary decisions without the man’s input, decisions that were often accompanied by hefty sacrifices he had to make. Severus had endured this tactic for years despite being aware of Albus’ manipulations. For years he had not cared, as he had the opinion that there was nothing left for him to lose after Lily’s death. But now that he had Miss Granger, or at least hoped he’d have her one day, he realized how wrong he had been.

 

Today it was the same, only that this time Albus’ scheming was directed towards her - his bond mate. And Severus would not allow her to be manipulated like this. 

 

“What was it you wanted to talk to me about, Professor?” he heard the girl ask, her voice sounding small and confused. He could only imagine how lost she felt, facing the threat of losing one of her best friends forever. She was still so young, so pure, and had not faced a loss such as this in her life.

 

“The Headmaster wants you to sacrifice yourself for Mr Potter,” he said, without sugarcoating the truth. “He hopes that the bond will save you, but there is no saying if that would truly work. But in Dumbledore’s great scheme, in which we are all mere chess pieces, Harry Potter is the king and you are merely the queen. He would risk your life in the hope of still winning the game.”

 

Maybe those words were too harsh, but Severus thought she needed to hear them. She needed to have all the facts, to make an educated decision. 

Miss Granger looked at him with wide eyes, but he could see he was considering his words very carefully. 

“It sounds like you do not have a very high opinion of the Headmaster, Sir,” she said, her caramel brown eyes staring at him as if she tried to read him and judge his intention. She still did not trust him, Severus realized, and he could not blame her. 

 

Severus sighed. “I have served Albus Dumbledore for years, Hermione,” he said, giving his voice a gentle and understanding tone. “I have faced losses and endured torture under the man’s watch and the only consolation I got was that it was done for “the Greater Good”. Do not misunderstand me. Headmaster Dumbledore was the one making sure Lord Voldemort did not reach his goal, he was the man making the plans and pulling the strings. And he did so masterfully, very much like a muggle General.”

 

The girl stared at him with a thoughtful expression. “Do you think that is what he does? Treating people like troops, like canon fader, instead of seeing the fate of every person? Do you think that’s what he’s doing here - with me ?” She had not spoken those last two words aloud, but Severus had still been able to hear them somehow. 

 

She looked almost sick at the thought, but her gaze did not waver. Her eyes took on a sad and almost pleading expression. “But I can’t just let Harry die , when there’s something that could save him,” she said, her voice sounding small and lost. And for that moment he wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and comfort her. But he was not sure if she would even allow it. Probably not. Still, his fingers ached to touch her, to hold her and never let her go again. Because the prospect of losing her, of sacrificing her for someone that did not mean nearly as much to him, was more than he could take.

 

“I do understand, Hermione. I once had a friend I would have done anything for,” he confessed, his heart thundering because of the confession he was going to make. “I… lost her,” he said, his eyes trailing to the boy lying unmoving on the bed in front of them. “She gave her life to save her son, Hermione, and losing her almost ripped me apart. I can not stand to lose you too, not after I just found you.”

 

“Your friend was Lily Potter,” the girl breathed, her voice full of wonder and disbelief. 

 

"Indeed," Severus confessed, his heart heavy with sorrow and fear of losing her, too. “We met before we both entered Hogwarts. I was the one who told her she was a witch. She was my first and only friend.”

 

Miss Granger did not speak for a long while, but her eyes said everything her voice did not. She pitied him, Severus realized and even though that meant the girl felt something for him, he did not like the feeling at all.  

“I am sorry you lost her,” the girl said and suddenly he felt her hand softly touching his arm. “I can't imagine how hard it must have been… well I can , considering…" Her eyes drifted towards the unconscious boy on the bed. 

 

For a moment Severus allowed himself to close his eyes and relish in the feeling of her touch. 

 

“But you do understand it too, Severus, you’ve said it just now. You would have done anything for your friend, for Lily . Therefore you surely understand that I would do the same for her son.”

 

Of course, he understood, he understood only too well . He was pulling the short straw again and he would be once more abandoned for a Potter. He took a deep, steadying breath. No, he would not give up so easily this time. He would not be abandoned again, not if there was a way to prevent it. 

 

“The bond will not be strong enough to heal this, Hermione. The Headmaster is insane if he thinks this could work. You barely trust me any longer, which is understandable given the circumstances. And I…” he did not finish the sentence aloud. She did not need to know that he had watched her snogging another man for most of the day and that the memory of it was ripping him apart. It was almost like he could feel the bond unravelling below his fingers, unable to do anything to stop this. 

 

“I do trust you, Professor - Severus. I always knew you would protect me and all the other students from the school, I never doubted that for a second. It is just that I was hurt by what you did and said, because I always wanted you to like me, and to want to spend time with me, not because you had to,” she said and her voice was so full of emotions, that he just had to open his eyes and look at her. Her eyes were huge and he could see the tears building behind them, threatening to spill over and run down her cheeks. But she held them in and plastered a brave smile on her face. Gods, he could have had it all, could have had her , if he had not been such a fucking idiot . If he’d just told her he liked her from the very beginning, she would not have dated Weasley the idiot and the three of them would have been in Hogsmeade together and he would have carefully watched all three of them. History was indeed repeating itself, considering it would be his fault again, that one of his friends sacrificed herself for Harry bloody Potter - Lily’s son or not, this just wasn’t fair .

 

“I do like you, Hermione, I already told you so, but I guess I was never very good with words,” he said smiling crookedly and before he knew what he was doing, he pulled her against him, closing his arms around her back to pull her into a tight embrace. “And see where that brought us. I swear I’ll spend as much time with you as you want, because there’s nothing else I’d rather do. I could take you book-shopping to Diagon Alley or, in your holidays, we could visit the magical section of the British Museum. There’s so much I’d love to show you, teach you,” he mumbled, burying his nose in her hair. “Please Hermione, you don’t have to do this.”

 

To his surprise, she did not pull away but melted into his embrace, her face burying itself in his robes. It felt so natural to hold her like this - so right - that he was almost sure she’d be able to feel this too. They belonged to each other, not just their mind and their magic, their bodies too.

 

 “I know I don’t,” Hermione mumbled after they had stayed like this for a while, her small hands gripping his robe at his chest. “But apart from the fact that I could never again face myself in the mirror if I just stood back and did nothing , Harry is the one who can vanquish You-Know-Who, Severus. There is a prophecy about him, you know? We heard it when we went to the Department of Mysteries last year.”

 

Severus closed his eyes in despair, her use of his given name tugging on his heart strings as much as the question that followed. Of course he knew of the fucking prophecy, it had been what had started this whole misery. And here it was again, coming to bite him in the arse…

He sighed heavily, while his hand carefully gripped one of Hermione’s curls, testing the feeling of them between his long fingers. He at least wanted to do this once, before…

“Very well,” he said, before abruptly letting go of her. “I see you are determined to save your friend, no matter what.” 

 

His wand was in his hand a moment later, the spell to cast a Patronus leaving his lips, while his eyes remained focussed on her. That was why he only realized some moments later that the ghostly animal waiting in front of him was no longer a doe, it was a lioness

Severus stared at it in silence for a long moment, his heart shuddering as he understood the implications of this change. But finally he cleared his throat and said: “Headmaster, you can come back in. Miss Granger and I have finished our discussion.”

The proud animal stalked away momentarily, a thin trail of mist following it as it disappeared through the wall. 

 

It was only a moment until the door opened, the Headmaster walking in more quickly than one would think possible at his age. Severus did not give him or Miss Granger the chance to say a word, the decision in his mind unchangeably made.

“I will do it,” he said, staring at the man that also somehow had become a kind of father to him, with an unwavering gaze. “I am going to absorb the curse in Mr Potter’s body, Albus. Don’t try to change my mind in this. This is the only solution you’ll get, because I’ll not let you use Miss Granger as a pawn sacrifice.”

 

“Very well,” the Headmaster replied, while he heard Hermione behind him gasp. Obviously she had just caught on to the fact that he had never planned to let her die. 

 

“No Professor, you can’t,” she whispered, her voice pleading, and Severus could not help but wonder if she at least felt part of the agony he had felt with facing the possibility of seeing her die. 

 

“I can and I will,” Severus said, before slipping off his black robe and throwing it onto the next chair. “But you can try to stop me from dying through that curse, if you wish to try working a miracle.”

 

He looked at her with a crooked smile that was hopefully at least partly disguising the heartbreak that he felt. He was not doing this for Lily, or Harry, not even for Hermione. He was doing this for himself, as life without her would be no life at all. And therefore sacrificing himself was probably the most selfish thing he could do, given the circumstances. 



Ssssssss



Hermione stared at the scene unfolding in front of her in horror. Until now she had somehow still felt she was in control of things, even though the situation had been dire and somewhat hopeless. But she had known a way out, had known what she could do to help, even though it would have probably cost her life. Only it suddenly wasn’t her life on the line any longer, but Professor Snape’s. This simply couldn’t be happening!

The man had been Dumbledore’s spy for almost two decades! He was an incredibly powerful wizard, one that could really be an asset to the Order. And still it looked like Dumbledore would just let the man die, without even trying to change his mind. Why?

But then again, what was he supposed to do ?

 

Like in slow motion Hermione watched Professor Snape walk towards the sick bed, now only clad in a crisp white shirt and black trousers. He pulled a chair close and sat down on it, looking first at her, then at the Headmaster, while she seemed frozen in place. 

“Promise me you’ll watch out for the girl, Albus, I want your word on it,” she heard Severus say and just when the Headmaster gave his promise to do just that, her legs finally started to move. Without caring about how it might seem, she dashed towards Severus' side, closing her arms around his upper body, pinning his arms in place. 

 

“Please Professor. Tell me what I can do, how I can save you…” she pleaded, the tears welling up in her eyes. But the man just looked at her with a calm but reassuring smile. 

 

“This I do not know,” he admitted, ignoring the Headmaster’s or Harry’s presence in the room. “But if you could hold my hand while the energy is transferred to me, I would very much appreciate it.”

 

Hermione nodded, slowly releasing his chest, before carefully taking his left hand into hers. She could feel Professor Dumbledore’s eyes on her - on them - but she did not find it in her to care. She would stay at Severus’ side, no matter what, and she would not let him die, she could not, because suddenly she realized that her life would never be the same without him. She wanted those hours of friendship and companionship he had promised her and other things she did not dare to think about right now. Hermione wanted Severus at her side and she would not let something as mundane as death take him from her.    

 

“Of course, Sir,” she mumbled, gripping his hand tightly. “I’ll stay right here, don’t worry.”

 

“Good. Now brace yourself.” 

Hermione did not have the chance to say something else, as an unknown spell left his wand a moment later. For a moment there was a blue light that seemed to connect Harry’s and Severus’ bodies. It was gone a moment after, the body next to her going limp and keeling forward until it landed on the bed with a muffled thud. Hermione watched it happen in shock, her mind only registering briefly that a moment later Harry opened his eyes on the bed. But to her it did not matter, as her world had just broken apart.

 

 











Chapter Text

“Severus!” Hermione shouted, staring at the limp figure next to her in panic. This couldn’t be, this couldn’t be , she thought, her mind repeating those same words over and over again like a mantra. 

Somehow her whole world had narrowed down to him and just him; the people around her forgotten. The only important thing right now was his hand, which was limp but still warm within hers. She would not let it go, she mustn’t. She had promised it to him, after all.

 

Hermione was only marginally aware of her name being called, not reacting to it, at all. Then there was a shuffle of movement around her and after a while, she could feel Severus being lifted into the bed in front of her. She allowed it but did not let go of his hand, even though it probably would have been more practical if she had. Hermione did not care, as she could feel an inexpressible sadness swallowing her up and pulling her down. What was she supposed to do now? Was there even something she could do or would she witness Severus’ slow death with her being unable to do a thing for him? No, this could not happen. She would not allow it. 

Severus Snape was her Kindred Spirit, the man destiny had appointed to her. She would not let him go, she would find a way to save him and work the miracle her friend had been asking for. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Albus looked at the girl at Severus’ side with a sad smile, before he carefully levitated Harry out of the room. The boy was waking up, but Albus was pretty sure he still wasn’t fully aware of what was happening around him. Good. He would give Miss Granger and Severus all the privacy they needed, because if there was somebody able to save his… friend , then it was this girl. But it would be a close call.

Still, what he saw let him hope that the girl truly cared about Severus and his boy did not deserve any less. 

 

“Professor Dumbledore, what happened?” he heard Harry ask him groggily from the bed he had settled him in. The boy was back to the public ward, which would make it possible for him to receive visitors, as soon as Albus had found out what had happened to him. 

 

“Harry, my boy. How are you feeling?” he found himself asking, focussing his most kind smile and his whole attention on the boy in the bed. 

 

The teenager looked at him with a tired smile. “Horrible, like I was run over by the Knight Bus or something.”

 

Albus smiled at the boy’s comparison. “I can imagine. Somebody attempted to murder you, after all. Do you remember who attacked you, Harry? Or anything else for that matter?”

 

Harry looked at him with a shocked expression, before his gaze turned contemplative. “The last thing I remember was going to Hogsmeade. I was alone because… well, Ron took Hermione on a date, which is fine. I am happy for them.”

Well, this was indeed unfortunate news, but he’d deal with that information and the eventual fall-out later. For now he patiently waited for the boy to continue his story.

“I followed Malfoy, because, well... he has behaved somewhat suspiciously this year,” Harry continued, his forehead wrinkled in concentration . “I wanted to keep an eye on him, Sir, just in case he was meeting someone or planning something. But he disappeared around a corner and a moment later I was attacked from behind. I didn’t see who did it, though.”

 

Albus nodded seriously. “That is unfortunate. Someone tried to kill you, Harry, and he almost succeeded. Do you remember hearing the person speaking the curse? Or was it done silently?”

 

“I don’t know, Sir. I don’t think I heard anything, to be honest,” Mr Potter confessed, his face taking on a lost expression. The boy was probably still in shock. Maybe he would remember later.

 

Albus sighed. He was slowly starting to get too old for this. “Very well. Then I will let you rest now. I will come and visit you again in the morning.”

 

The boy nodded, even though Albus could tell he still had plenty of questions. But those had to wait. He had to call a staff meeting and inform his Professors about the attack. Later, at dinner, he would have to make an announcement in the Great Hall. That was something he did not look forward to.

 

Hopefully, Severus would get better under Miss Granger’s care. He could not help but feel that he would terribly miss the other man otherwise. Over the years he had gotten used to Severus’ wit and his insightful perspective. 

 

Later that evening Albus crept back into the private room he had provided for his former spy and his bond mate. Already from the door he could see the girl had fallen asleep, resting her head on his Professor’s unconscious form. But what really caught his eye was that both of them had started glowing in a strange bluish light, a thing Albus had never seen before in his life. What kind of magic was that? Was this how it looked when a Kindred Spirit healed one's bond partner? He did not know what else it could be.

A wave of his wand and some analytical spells confirmed his suspicions. Yes, there was definitely something happening there, what exactly he could not say as this form of magic seemed completely raw and unrefined to him. But it did not matter, because Severus Snape was definitely improving. Compared to before, when his body was even more vigorously attacked by the curse than Harry had been, things had looked... bad. Now it suddenly seemed like there was a good chance of the man recovering. It was a miracle, but then again it was not. Albus had always known what a powerful force White Magic was, if one knew how to use it. For many years this form of Magic seemed lost to him, but suddenly things seemed to look up for their side of the war. With Miss Granger and Severus suddenly being able to use this rare form of magic, they now suddenly had a way of defeating Tom. He just needed a way to bring those two even closer together and then teach them what to do with their newly-awakened powers.

 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus felt warm and cosy when he slowly drifted back into consciousness. For a moment he wondered if he had finally bitten the bullet and ended his pitiful existence, but a moment later he became aware of the feeling of one small hand cradled into his and a scent in his nose he knew only too well. Hermione! And suddenly the memory of what had transpired in the hospital wing came rushing back to him. Merlin!

She was still there, Hermione had not left him. Instead, she had kept her promise and stayed at his side. But more importantly: she had done it. She had pulled him back from death’s door. This wonderful, brilliant, kind witch!

Before he felt the desire to open his eyes, his hand twitched in the attempt to hold Hermione’s hand even tighter. It seemed enough to alert the girl, as her hand immediately reacted to his touch, her voice whispering:

“Severus?” 

Her voice was somewhat slurry, indicating that she had not been fully awake herself, but it was also so full of hope and other raw emotions, that it made his heart ache.

Severus opened his eyes and squinted them against the darkness of the room. Obviously it was night, but he could see Hermione’s delicate form hover over him, studying his face with huge, concerned eyes. 

“Severus! You’re awake! Thank god! I was so worried! I thought I’d lost you!” she whispered, one of her hands gently touching his forehead. “I am so so sorry to have put you into this impossible situation. I had no idea but the thought of losing you… forever… please forgive me.”

 He looked at her with a soft look in his dark eyes. “We were both thrown into an impossible situation, Hermione. There is nothing for me to forgive. Just… don’t do this again.” 

I swear it. Are you in pain? Shall I call for Madame Pomfrey?” she asked, her voice sounding panicked and excited at the same time. 

He could not help the dazed smile forming at his lips. “ ‘m fine,” he mumbled, his eyes focussing on her, taking her in. “You fixed me, Hermione. Your presence here is all I need, right now. Don’t want that old hag fussing over me and shooing you away.”

It was the most unguarded he’d ever been with her and he attributed it to the fact that he had just escaped death. Propriety be damned, he wanted her to know that he wanted her here, that he cared about her. 

Hermione looked at him scoldingly. “Madame Pomfrey is not an old hag, she’s always very kind. But, well, I guess she would tell me to go, now that you’re awake.” The girl smiled shyly. “And I’d rather stay a bit longer.” 

“Good,” Severus mumbled, pressing her hand softly. 

For a while they fell silent, Hermione watching him attentively. He wasn’t sure if she was afraid to disturb him, or just uncomfortable talking to him after what had happened and he decided to find out. “How long have I been out?” he asked, his voice still sounding raw with sleep. 

“A few hours,” she replied seriously. “It’s probably only a bit longer until breakfast.” 

He nodded. Good, at least he hadn’t been unconscious for days. That would have fuelled the students’ gossip mill. “I guess I’ll have to skip breakfast then,” he said, a rueful smile on his lips. “I don’t imagine Madame Pomfrey will let me loose on the students today. Pity. Would have taught your class today, but then again I don’t see you going to classes today, either.” 

Hermione smiled back at him. “Yeah. I feel terribly drained, to be honest. Whatever I did to heal you must have drained my magic pretty thoroughly. Do you think the Headmaster will excuse me from classes today?” 

He could not help but snort at her obliviousness. “He’d excuse you for the rest of the year for what you did. Apart from that, there’s probably not much you haven’t taught yourself by now, anyway.” 

The girl looked at him in disbelief. “You really think so? You think I could skip the whole year?” 

Severus replied with a chuckle. “If you wanted to? You’d be ready to take your NEWTs in a few months if you wished to do so. But knowing you, that is not what you want to do. You enjoy studying way too much for that, which is fine. Just do not stress yourself if it takes you a few days to recover, all right?” 

Hermione did not question him. She just smiled. “All right.”

 

Ssssssss

 

She must have fallen asleep again, Hermione realized, because when she became aware of her surroundings again, it was already daylight outside. Her head was resting on Severus’ bed again, her hand still laying in his, their fingers entwined. 

For a moment she simply stared at their hands, taking in the strange sight. Holding him like this felt right in a way that it should not. Severus was still her Professor, which should have made things awkward. Only that they weren’t. Was it the consequence of being bonded to him, the knowledge that they were in a strange way “meant to be”? It sounded totally cliché when she put it like that. 

“Good morning,” Severus’ voice pulled her out of her musings and she lifted her head with a smile. 

“Good morning, Professor,” she mumbled, studying the man’s face. He looked better than a few hours ago, Hermione realised in relief, his face looking less waxy and almost back to its normal colour. 

“Are you back to calling me Professor now?” he asked, his mouth twitching in amusement. “Well then I should probably also go back to calling you Miss Granger,” he said, his voice imitating the tone he wore during their lessons. She could not help but chuckle at how ridiculous that suddenly sounded, considering that she had just spent the night at his bedside, holding his hand. He was right, they were definitely more than just Professor and student now. Only... she could not say exactly what they were. 

“Better not,” she answered with a smile. “Otherwise I shall feel inclined to wave my hand again, before I dare to address you. And I don’t see you appreciating that .”

Severus chuckled. “I wouldn’t. So better call me Severus then.” 

Hermione planned on giving him an answer, but their moment was disturbed when the door opened and Professor Dumbledore strode inside with a wide smile on his face.

“Ah, I see you are awake. Excellent!” he said, his blue eyes looking at them with a happy twinkle. “Miss Granger, I must congratulate you. You did what Severus deemed impossible only hours ago, which is saying you worked a miracle.”

Hermione heard Severus grumble something unintelligible, but she himself looked at the Headmaster with a small smile. “Thank you, Sir. I was glad I could help, even though I would have appreciated being told your plan and the associated risks directly. I do not like being manipulated, Sir, nobody does. And most of us would still help, even after having all the facts.

I understand, my dear, and I appreciate your willingness to save your friend. Not everyone would have been so selfless, you’re being too modest here , my dear,” Professor Dumbledore said, while looking at her with a kind smile. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Hermione replied truthfully, letting go of the man’s other comment

At that, Severus rolled his eyes. “She’s drained her magical core, Albus. She’ll need at least a full day of rest and a few good meals. See that she gets it. Maybe she should also move back to her private room, for the time being. I can imagine Miss Granger is still too tired for being questioned by a horde of over-excited Gryffindors. What did you tell them, by the way?”

At that Professor Dumbledore looked at them with a serious expression. “That Mr Potter was attacked and seriously wounded by an unknown wizard while visiting Hogsmeade. I also mentioned that you are currently working on a cure for him and therefore will not be available for quite some while. I cannot say the students were disappointed, that I will in the meantime substitute for you.”

“You’ll be teaching DADA today, Sir?” Hermione asked, suddenly feeling disappointed that she could not attend the lesson. Professor Dumbledore would surely teach them so many amazing things! 

At that, she saw Severus roll his eyes dramatically. “And here I thought you liked having me as your Professor.”



Ssssssss

 

When Hermione entered the Great Hall after having not been seen for over a day, agitated whispers erupted in the room. Severus, too, was back at his place at the teacher’s table, even though it had taken some convincing for Poppy to let him go. But considering the circumstances Severus felt fine , definitely good enough to join meals in the Great Hall and see Hermione again. Because yesterday she had not come visiting him again. 

Severus clearly felt her absence from his side, felt the old longing to be close to her - a longing that a shared meal in the Great Hall would not be able to fulfill. The pull he suddenly felt towards her was even stronger than what he had felt at the beginning of their magic forging this connection. He realized that this probably meant that their bond had strengthened again. And even though that meant they would have to see each other more regularly again, he could not help but feel thrilled at the prospect of spending more time with the girl. The only problem was how they should explain this fact to anyone other than Dumbledore, as people would surely wonder. He would have to discuss the problem with the Headmaster, because he did not want to run into problems when they were discovered. The last thing he wanted was somebody assuming they had a torrid affair and therefore ruin the girl’s reputation. 

Hermione had barely made an appearance at the Gryffindor table, as her two male friends jumped from their seats, attempting to pull her in their arms. She permitted it, but Severus could see her stiffen nonetheless, especially as Weasley tried touching her. As the red-head tried approaching her, Severus could feel an unpleasant tingle through the bond and going by the grimace on Hermione’s face she had felt it, too. It appeared that now with their bond strengthened, her magic started rejecting every contact it deemed hurtful to their connection. Severus did not know if he should feel delighted or panicked on the prospect of the girl feeling discomfort when facing her boyfriend. He definitely felt sorry for her, as this would make things incredibly difficult, especially as he could not see Weasley taking her rejection well. But on the other hand he was pretty sure the boy would not be a problem for him any longer and Severus could not help but feel smug about it. 



 

 

Chapter Text

It did not take long until the Headmaster came to visit him and for once Severus was actually glad to see the old man. Ever since he had woken up and Hermione was gone from his room, Severus had started to ponder over what he had seen, no felt , the short moment his and Potter’s magic connected. Severus had had too much experience with Dark Magic to not realize what happened to the boy, what was desperately trying to keep him alive. Because the energy from the killing curse should have killed him within mere minutes. The answer to that question was complicated - and not in a good way.

“The boy is a Horcrux, Albus,” Severus said without repeating the man’s greeting. He did not have the nerve for polite conversation right now.

The Headmaster did not even seem shocked, just resigned, when he slowly walked over to his sickbed, sitting down next to it with a tired expression on his face. “I feared as much, even though until now I did not have direct evidence to support my theory.

Severus growled. “Would you have told me? Or would you just have kept it to yourself, like you tend to do with most things, these days?”

Albus looked at him tiredly. “I did not want to worry you unnecessarily. I am aware that the boy is Lily’s son and that you hold some affection for him, because of that. But I would have told you, eventually.”

‘Probably at the latest possible moment ,’ Severus thought sarcastically. “Do you already have a plan for how to get rid of it? You don’t plan on killing the boy off, do you?”

“Only if there is no other way for us. But with the connection between you and Miss Granger, we might not have to. White magic is a powerful tool, Severus. You would be dead if it wasn’t for Miss Granger’s determination to keep you alive. Once you learn how to use your connection, you might be able to do so much good with it.”

Severus felt sick at the man’s words. “I am not going to use that connection, Albus, I am not going to use her . She is the best thing that has happened to me in my life and I will not compromise that. To hell with Potter! He is just the shadow of a person long gone, one that did not even like me in the end. Hermione is alive and she cares about me, more than anybody ever has. I will not lose her,” he said, adding silently: ‘Even if that means never telling her that I would like her to be more than my friend.’

Albus looked at him with a calm expression, like Severus’ words weren’t bothering him in the least. “Of course, my boy. But what about Miss Granger? Will she feel the same way?”

Severus wanted to jump from his bed, to hit the man’s crooked nose or at least to scream at him. But that would mean showing the man that he had found a weak spot - which he wouldn’t. “She might or might not,” Severus said cryptically, schooling his face into an expressionless mask. “To find out about that, you would have to tell her about the Horcruxes and I would not disclose such information to a school girl that is unable to occlude her mind and therefore protect such an important secret.”

Albus nodded slowly, his thin fingers stroking his long beard. “I know,” he said, his blue eyes staring calculatingly but unseeingly into the room. “Luckily there is no pressure for making that decision anytime soon. Not with all those other Horcruxes still around.”

Severus nodded. The Headmaster did have a point. Still, he would be on the watch, because with Albus Dumbledore one could never be sure they were not being manipulated… again.



sssssssss

 

Hermione did not know what was happening, but ever since she returned from the hospital wing, things with Ron were… different. She was happy to see him, as happy as she had been the day before - she thought. But as soon as the boy touched her, it just felt wrong . It took all her restraint to not flinch back from his touch and she suffered through the long hug he greeted her with, while putting on a happy face and patting his back awkwardly. Luckily nobody seemed to realize something was amiss, not even Ron himself.

 

Hermione, on the other hand, had a very good idea what had happened, as she had read her fair share of books on Kindred Magic now. Her heart to heart with Severus and their shared experience of saving Harry from dying had made their bond stronger, but also exclusive. Merlin!

Also, the old longing for her bond-mate was back, the tug in her chest that signalled her she needed to see him. Unfortunately, her next DADA lesson was about three days away and Hermione wasn’t even sure if Severus would be back to teaching by then. But waiting such a long time before being able to see him again seemed totally unacceptable if not impossible. Just thinking about the possibility of not being able to properly see Severus for such a long time, made her break out in anxiety. She wanted to see him, to talk to him and she was pretty sure it wasn’t just because the bond forced her to. She genuinely looked forward to continuing their project of building the first magical microscope and the idea of sitting in his quarters, discussing magical theory made her feel like there was nothing else she’d rather do. Only she couldn’t…

“Professor Dumbledore told us you had to help Snape brew several potions for Harry,” Ron murmured, his voice full of sympathy for her. “He said the git asked for your assistance, as you obviously got used to his methods during your last detentions. You really do have some rotten luck, Mione.”

 

Hermione answered by making an unintelligible sound and a nod. It wasn’t like she could tell them she had spent the night at Severus’ bedside, holding his hand . Considering what the boys knew and thought of the man, that would probably only sound absurd and she could easily imagine their reaction. It wasn’t anything she wanted to experience.

 

“But it seems like I once again have to thank Hermione for saving my sorry arse,” Harry said, grinning crookedly. “Dumbledore said someone cast a Killing Curse on me...”

 

Hermione nodded with a sigh. “Yeah. Strangely enough that did not kill you, at least not right away. But it would have, eventually. Do you have any idea why you... why it didn’t work?”

 

Harry looked at her with furrowed brows. “I... not really, no. I mean, I’d like to experience a year when nobody tries to kill me, for once. Until now they haven’t been very successful, have they?”

 

She could not help but roll her eyes. “Yeah, but there was always a reason for it, Harry. The protection from your mum is gone and it also cannot have been the twin cores from yours and You-Know-Who’s wand. I mean, somebody would have noticed, if he walked through Hogsmeade. Apart from that, you were attacked from behind and didn’t even fight back.”

 

Ron nodded thoughtfully, even though he seemed somewhat in a bad mood. “Well, maybe Harry was just lucky, Mione. Does it even matter now?”

 

Of course it matters , Ron,” she said passionately. “What if this unknown person tries again and finds a way to succeed next time? I don’t see them just giving up, do you?”

 

The redhead grumbled silently, but Harry looked at her with a considering gaze. “What if it was Malfoy and he just mucked it up? I mean, to successfully cast this Unforgivable one has to mean it, right? What if he just couldn’t do it?”

 

It was a possibility, Hermione thought, nodding towards her black-haired friend. “Maybe,” she said, before looking at Ron. “We should definitely keep an eye on him. Don’t you have patrols with him today, Ron?”

 

“Yeah,” her boyfriend replied, his arms crossed in front of his chest.

 

“Then you’ll maybe notice if he behaves differently. I guess talking about Harry being attacked and studying his reaction to that would be a bit too obvious,” she added, the boys nodding in agreement .

 

“Probably,” Ron said, before taking her hand into his possessively. “I’d rather spend the evening with you, you know?” he mumbled, looking at her and then away, as though trying to judge Harry’s reaction towards his words. But Harry just stared into the fire, decisively ignoring the both of them.

 

“I know,” Hermione said, smiling at him. “But you know what? I could take a look at your potions essay while you’re gone and... I was thinking...” she chewed her bottom lip, considering what else she could do that would make him happy and not act against the bond she had with Severus. “You know I bought those two-way mirrors to communicate with my parents. I’d like to take them to your Quidditch match on Saturday. They said they’d really like to see you playing.”

 

“Really?” Ron asked, his bad mood seemingly forgotten. “Brilliant! I’ll show them all my best moves, then!”

 

Hermione nodded encouragingly. “Do that. My dad had so many questions about Quidditch and I couldn’t really answer them to his satisfaction. You could talk to him after the game, if you like...”

 

Ron beamed at her proudly. “I’d love to,” he said, pressing a quick kiss onto her cheek. “I’m sure we’ll get on splendidly. Anyway, I think I need to go. We wouldn’t want to leave the ferret waiting.”

 

Harry snorted, while Hermione just smiled at her boyfriend. She couldn’t really say she was sorry to see him go, she realized in dismay. Merlin, why had she been so eager to declare him her boyfriend? It wasn’t really like they had many things in common. But she couldn’t just break things off now, not after a day... How should she explain her sudden change of heart? She wouldn’t drag Severus into this mess, especially as their bond wasn’t really the reason things between her and Ron could not work out. A few days ago she had thought liking each other and trusting each other would be enough for starting a relationship, but she wasn’t so sure now. Even if Ron was willing to be dragged into a bookstore and she could stomach sitting through his Quidditch games, would they really like to discuss those things afterwards? Would Ron ever enjoy discussing magical theory or history with her? Probably not... But it wasn’t like they could spend all their free time kissing or doing other things . Because even after doing the former for quite some time yesterday it had still felt kind of… awkward. And Hermione was sure that it wasn’t just because their technique was still somewhat lacking and Ron had managed to bite her tongue while being overly enthusiastic. 

They would have to talk to each other at some point but apart from saving Harry and fighting You-Know-Who they didn’t have so many common interests, if she was honest. So what were they actually going to talk about? 

 

 

Ssssssss

 

Hermione decided to retire early after combing through Ron’s essay and leaving it for him with Harry. Her head had slowly started to ache and she knew it wasn’t because of Ron’s sloppy work but the fact that she had not seen Severus for the whole day. She would somehow have to make it through the night, she thought, just as she suddenly became aware of a black raven sitting on the dorm’s windowsill, staring at her approaching figure with black, expectant eyes. There was no doubt of who that raven was, especially as their bond gave a pleased hum when she approached him.

Hermione hastily walked to the window and opened it, the raven entering her dorm with a confident flap of his wings. Hermione saw him landing on her bedpost and for a moment Hermione asked herself how Severus had been able to tell which bed was hers. But then she noticed the huge stack of books on her nightstand and remembered that he had been to the room before, making the question void. 

She wanted to ask him what he was doing here, but then she saw that he held a letter in his beak. Hermione took it from him with a small smile and a nod, before slowly sitting down on her bed and opening it. There wasn’t just a sheet of parchment inside, but also a familiar black bracelet, the same one she had worn when accompanying him into the black lake. 

Hermione looked at Severus with her eyebrow raised questioningly at him, but his only answer was a clicking of his beak while adamantly staring at the letter. Right. With nervous fingers she unfolded it and started to read. 

 

Hermione, 

This is the only way I’ll be able to see you privately right now, as Minerva would probably kill me if I gave you another round of detentions. The Headmaster has approved of it, knowing that I will stick to your side and avoid those other girls like a plague. Through the bracelet we’ll at least be able to communicate and talk about all those interesting books you’ll provide for our shared time come tomorrow. I’ll be happy to discuss all of them with you, if you wish to do so.

Now burn that letter and slip on that damned bracelet, girl. I’d rather discuss things in person with you.

SS

 

Hermione looked at the animagus with an amused expression on her face, casting a silent Incendio on the letter before tossing the remains out of the window. Then she slipped on Severus’ bracelet and climbed into her bed, patting the blanket next to her.

“Come in here,” she invited him mentally. “It might not exactly be proper, but I’d rather not have the others question me, why I am staring at a raven for god knows how long. Because I will not talk to you while pretending to ignore you. That’s just rude.”

Hermione heard the older man snort in her mind, but he did as she asked. 

“Not that I would have cared, ” he replied, traipsing across her blanket. “But I guess this is more comfortable, if we want to read together. You’ll have to turn the pages, though.” 

Hermione smiled, grabbing the book on warding techniques from her nightstand, before pulling her curtains shut. “I’m currently trying to figure out how to cast some basic and slightly advanced wards. Pity Hogwarts does not offer classes on that sort of thing,” she mumbled, opening the book in front of her. 

“I could teach you,” her friend offered, sounding genuine. “It is not so difficult. I did all the warding of my office myself. ” 

Hermione looked at him with wide, excited eyes. “You would do that? Really?”

Severus inclined his head. “I would. The spells I would have to teach you without being transformed though, but we will find a way to do that. In the worst case you’ll have to provoke me into giving you detention again.”

“Absolutely not,” she said, looking at him with a scandalized expression. That’s when she saw the smug look in his raven eyes and realized that he had been teasing her. She huffed and before she knew what she was doing, she tossed her pillow towards him, making him dodge it with an amused raven cackle. 

It was almost like they were already friends, for months or even years , with him teasing her like that. Hermione realised that she came to like this new way he treated her. Severus was right, they would make good friends if they allowed it. And there was no logical reason for her not to, considering how much she already enjoyed spending time with him. 



Ssssssss

 

The week progressed without too much excitement, Severus dividing his time between classes, keeping an eye on his godson, and spending his evenings with Hermione in her bed . He made it a matter of course to stay inside of her bed-curtains until she assured him that no other girls were around, so that she could help him leave the room without anyone noticing a thing. Because even though he secretly snuck into a girls’ dorm night by night, he did so for the most harmless of reasons - to read - and not to look at things he had no wish to see

Hermione had accepted him into her life and her bed without making a fuss, eagerly providing book after book he recommended for her from the library. Most of them he had not read himself and so he made it a habit to sit next to her on her pillow, staring into the book while she turned the pages for them. Sometimes they did not speak much at all, reading in companionable silence while at other times they animatedly discussed the topics from the books. It was like behind those curtains they were really friends now, with Hermione treating him like he was an equal and not the grumpy Professor she was respectfully but dispassionately talking to, during their DADA lessons. Severus was careful to treat her the same as he had before, in class. He did not ask her to duel him again and usually paired her off with Potter, taking Weasley’s education into his own hands. He was careful not to hurt the boy, but more often than not he made a show of humiliating him, a bit. Severus just could not help it, but seeing the boy scramble for his wand or picking himself up from the floor was just too satisfying to watch. Apart from that Mr Weasley was a bad choice for an Auror and if he really attempted to become one, it would only be a matter of time until the reckless redhead got himself killed. But going by the boy’s clenched jaw and the fire in his eyes, he was still too stubborn to realize that. 

“Don’t take it too personally, Ron,” he heard Hermione soothe the agitated redhead, after another lesson on Friday was over. “Your shields are already much stronger and maybe next week…”

“Stuff it, Hermione,” the boy scowled at her. “While you had fun duelling Harry, I was made a laughing stock, again ! I swear that bastard hates me and he’s doing that on purpose.”

Mr Weasley wasn’t wrong, Severus mused, while putting the room back in its original state. He could have done that much faster, if he tried, but somehow listening in to this little encounter was way too satisfying. It definitely looked like there was trouble in paradise. 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Ron,” he heard Hermione saying. “Why would Professor Snape do that? You should be glad he’s tutoring you himself. I’m sure he has many useful comments that help you improve. And he is right, you know? If you really want to become an Auror, you’ll have to face much more dangerous spells than what he’s throwing at you.”

Severus could make out the exact moment when Mr Weasley snapped, his eyes taking on an angry glimmer while his head took on the colour of a ripe tomato. “You’re one to talk, Hermione. You landed yourself in detention because the man disarmed you, twice. I’d love to see your reaction to being repeatedly stunned or thrown off your feet. Or maybe Snape would also find a way to use that ridiculous hair of yours against you!”

Severus sighed. He had always known that Weasley was a moron, but this sealed it. Even Potter seemed to think so, as he could see him trying to calm down his friend and help Hermione. But that only seemed to anger the redhead even further. 

“Of course you’re taking her side now,” Severus heard Mr Weasley shout, his fists clenched angrily at his sides. “After all Hermione even ran from our date to sit at your bedside, holding your hand. She even agreed to work with Snape to save your sorry arse! Well, good luck mate! You can have her. She’s terrible at kissing anyway!”

Severus heard his friend gasp and look at her boyfriend in shock. It took all of his self-control to not storm towards them and wipe the floor with the arrogant prick that hurt her. But he didn’t. Instead he left the room quietly and strolled towards the Great Hall, where lunch was already waiting for him. Strangely enough he felt almost hungry, all of a sudden. He was sure Hermione would be fine without the prick that was her ex-boyfriend now. The idiot hadn’t even managed to keep her for a week, Severus thought, and felt very much like grinning. But that would have been strangely out of character for him and he did not want to scare the poor first graders that hurried past him with ducked heads. 

 

Chapter Text

When Severus’ animagus form landed at the windowsill to Hermione’s dorm at the appointed time, the girl was not waiting for him, like she usually did. At first, he thought she was late, but after a moment he could see her through the window, lying on her bed in a position that did not leave any doubt that she was crying. 

For a moment Severus felt a twinge of guilt for provoking Mr Weasley the way he did during DADA. But then again he had not been the one directing all his anger on the least deserving person in the room, which was Hermione. He had done so once, with Lily, but Severus had learned his lesson well and found a way to control his anger and all his other feelings through Occlumency. Yes, he still had a terrible temper, sometimes; he had probably gotten that from his father. But never again he would focus it on his friend, because there was no saying if one would be able to fix such a stupid mistake. 

 

Severus patiently waited on the windowsill for a while, but when Hermione did not make any move to get up from the bed, he knocked at the window with his beak. Immediately, the girl scrambled from her bed and hastened to the window to open it for him.

“Sorry, I wasn’t aware of the time,” she mumbled, her eyes red and swollen from crying over that idiot.

He did not reply, as Hermione wasn’t wearing the bracelet anyway, and just flew over to her bed, staring at her with an inclined head. She slowly sat down next to him and pulled her curtains shut, before propping up her feet in front of her, hugging her knees with her arms. But she did not speak, did not even look at him, and stared unseeingly at the closed curtains instead. And she did not make any move to slip on that damned bracelet. How the fuck was he supposed to talk to her like that? And how in Salazar’s name was he supposed to comfort her? 

For a while, he just sat there, staring at her patiently while waiting for her to do something. But the only thing that happened was that the girl started crying again. And even though he thought being rid of Weasley was the best thing that could have happened to her, he did feel pity for the girl’s wounded feelings. Because obviously she had gotten more attached to the moron than he had deemed possible.

Finally, Severus could not take it any longer and making a quick decision, he silently transformed back into his human form, before hastily warding her bed against intrusions. Several layers of silencing and notice-me-not charms would make sure that they would be undisturbed and  - more importantly - undiscovered. 

 

“Weasley is an idiot,” he said, carefully sitting down next to her, his long legs stretched out in front of him. “Nevertheless I am sorry if I provoked him into lashing out at you. I should have considered that was a possibility.”

 

Hermione sniffed pitifully, but then she wiped her eyes with her sleeve, saying: “I don’t think this was your fault. I know you only tried to teach him something. But Ron doesn't do well with pressure," the girl tried defending her arsehole of an ex-boyfriend. "But I don't even think it was that. He kind of got jealous of Harry, I think. He always was, you know?"

 

Severus had figured as much. "That is still no reason to lash out at you like that. I… heard him."

 

His friend nodded, but somehow his words did not seem to comfort her, as she kept staring at her knees sullenly. "I know," she mumbled, her teeth chewing at her bottom lip. 

 

"I really tried to improve my hair, you know?" Hermione mumbled, just loud enough to hear her. And suddenly Severus knew what was wrong.

 

"Don't tell me you believe a word of what that moron said," he sighed, looking at her with a disbelieving expression. "There is nothing wrong with your hair, Hermione. Just because his words were meant to hurt you, doesn't mean they're true."

 

His friend was silent for a moment. Then, almost inaudibly, she said: "Well, you wouldn't know about the other thing he was complaining about."

 

It took a moment for him to catch the meaning of her words. When he finally did, it took all his willpower to not roll his eyes about the ridiculousness of it. Because from all he had seen, she hadn't been the one slobbering through their kisses. But saying such would give away that he had been watching them.  

“And you think Mr Weasley is an expert on that matter?”

 

Hermione shrugged helplessly and for a moment he considered telling her that her kisses in their shared dreams felt just fine , but that, too, probably wasn’t something she’d appreciate hearing. 

“I don’t know . But I can’t deny that kissing him felt kind of wrong, even when our bond was still much weaker. Afterwards… things were even more difficult.”

 

“And now you’re assuming it was your fault,” Severus concluded dryly. “Why?”

 

She shook her head, signalling that this wasn’t a question she wanted to answer. But she didn’t have to, as he could see it clear as day. She didn’t have much to compare this experience to, which probably made her feel like she was lacking the necessary skillset. He sighed tiredly. How he wished he could just pull her into his arms and show her how wrong she was. He couldn’t, at least not now, but oh, how he wanted to.  

“How can I make you feel better?” Severus found himself asking, after they had been silent again for a while. “I am not really an expert on human interaction, so just tell me what to do. Because I would like to comfort you, if this is even possible right now.”

 

The bottom lip was back between her teeth again, Severus observed.

“Could you just distract me for a bit? You could tell me about warding or… maybe you could just read to me for a bit?” 

 

He shrugged. “Whichever you prefer. I am fine with both.”

 

“Tell me about erecting some useful wards then? Which ones did you use for warding my bed?” Hermione asked, her voice starting to sound more like hers again. 

 

Severus found himself smiling with fondness. They really were alike, he thought before he launched into a lengthy explanation. And after only a few sentences, he could feel the girl next to him relax. 



Sssssssss

 

When Hermione awoke the next morning, Severus was gone from her bed. She could not remember seeing him off, but he must have snuck away after she had fallen asleep, listening to his deep, soothing voice. Hopefully, he would not be offended that she hadn’t been able to stay awake until the end of his explanations, but crying over Ron had tired her out more than she had realized. 

Breakfast was a silent affair, as Ron didn’t talk to her or Harry and instead sat with Dean and Seamus, leaving enough distance from them to make it obvious they weren’t talking. And even though Hermione had expected it, his behaviour still hurt

“He’ll come around,” Harry mumbled, eying his redheaded friend with a doubtful look on his face. “Maybe after the Quidditch match…”

 

She’d totally forgotten about that . Now, with Ron not even talking to her any longer, she did not really feel like going, but moping around the castle when everybody else was at the Quidditch match probably wouldn’t make her feel better either. And so she went and got to witness what must have been Gryffindor’s worst Quidditch match of the century. It started with Ron sitting on his broom, a big scowl on his face, that only got worse with every Quaffle he let through. Things got even worse, when the boy outwardly refused to listen to Harry’s commands, stubbornly crossing his arms in front of his chest while ignoring every word his former friend and team captain said. Finally, after only 45 minutes, the game ended with Slytherin winning and Harry bestowing upon Ron a broken nose, after the redhead had arrogantly declared that the result had been somehow Harry’s fault. It was probably the first time Harry earned himself cheers and whistles from the Slytherin ranks, in addition to the detention he would serve with Professor McGonagall in the evening. Their Head of House was in a visibly bad mood and Hermione was pretty sure that only part of it could be related to the fact that Harry’s team was already 340 points behind. Hermione couldn’t blame her. Ron’s behaviour had been abysmal and she would not be surprised if this had been his first and last game as a Gryffindor keeper. Because by the look of it, not only Harry and Ginny could not wait to have words with him before throwing him out of the Quidditch team. 



Ssssssss



It was all Hermione’s and Harry’s fault, Ron thought sullenly, while waiting for Madam Pomfrey to patch him up. A broken nose wasn’t a big deal and could probably have been fixed right away, but somehow no one did and he was instead directed towards the Hospital Wing. Whatever. He didn’t want to be in Gryffindor Tower anyway, because he could already see Ginny and the rest of the team waiting for him, claiming that it had been his fault. But it had been Harry who had ended the match, even though he must have known that they did not have enough points to win it. Wasn’t a team captain at least supposed to be able to count the fucking points?

But no, Harry was the Chosen One , and no one would see fault with him. They never did, not even after all that shit he’d gotten his friends into. Well, Harry had always been special and it was no surprise that Hermione still prioritized Harry over him. Who was she kidding? Snape could have brewed those fucking potions alone, without her help. Or he could have asked Slughorn, if things had really been that difficult, right? If Hermione had just wanted to, she could have stayed easily at his side, but she didn’t. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Ever since Harry returned from the hospital wing, Hermione had been different. He could tell that she had been avoiding his touch, sticking closer to Harry’s side instead. She probably thought he wouldn’t notice, but Ron was much more observant than people expected. He had grown up with two of his brothers being notorious pranksters, after all, and he seemed to have been their preferred test subject. Therefore it had been essential for him to pay attention to certain things and Hermione had not been very good in hiding her… shift of attentions. 

Well, for all he cared, she could have Harry and bore him with her talk of books. It wasn’t like he needed any more of that or going into bookshops. He had endured it, for her, but as Hermione obviously did not even appreciate his efforts she could go to hell, for all he cared. Because he would be just fine without her. 

“Hello Ron,” a female voice greeted him and when he looked up he saw the pretty face of Lavender Brown grinning down at him. What was she doing here? “I think I sprained my ankle,” the girl explained a few seconds later, helpfully. “I don’t think it’s too bad. How are you, Ron?”

 

“What do you think?” he asked gloomily. “My nose hurts and the only thing my two best friends care about is how to go behind my back. I’m just so sick of it!”

He hadn’t planned on saying this, Ron thought, but Lavender did not seem to be put out in the slightest.

“Harry and Hermione? Really? That is awful , Ron!” she sympathised, taking his large hand into hers. “How could they do this to you, to a friend ? But I always knew that Hermione was an awful person. She’s not worth mooning over her, you know?”

Ron nodded, even though for a second he thought that those words sounded a bit harsh. But then again Hermione had discarded him for Harry… “Yeah. It’s just that I thought she liked me.”

“I like you,” Lavender said, staring at him with a smile and those pretty, blue eyes. She really wasn’t bad to look at, he realized. “I know your heart is still hurt, but… I could help you to make it heal.”

For a moment Ron just stared at her, his head contemplating what Lavender had said. When he did and saw the hopeful expression on her face, he could not help it. He kissed her, his hands grabbing her face and pulling her down towards him in a bout of desire. She came to him willingly, her mouth opening up for him just nicely, while she came closer, closing her arms eagerly around his neck. It was hot, it was messy and it was brilliant, Ron thought, when the girl pulled away from him with a wide, happy smile on her lips. And suddenly his broken nose was almost forgotten. 

“Oh Ron,” she whispered, her breath ghosting over his lips, before she kissed him again, just as eagerly as she had the first time. Ron did not mind, not at all, but before he could get overly excited, they were interrupted, by someone clearing their throat.

“This is the Hospital Wing, children, and I expect you to behave accordingly,” Madam Pomfrey’s voice scolded them a moment later and Ron felt Lavender pull away hastily, even though she did not look like she was sorry at all. 

“Sorry, Madam Pomfrey,” Rom mumbled, grinning at the girl in front of him. Her lips were still swollen from his kisses, he realized, and found himself liking the sight of it. He thought he would kiss her again, later, when the medi-witch had taken care of his nose. Maybe Lavender would even be willing to snog him in the Common Room, where Harry and Hermione would be able to see it. Ron grinned. The more he thought about it, the more he found himself liking the idea. Hermione had been the one hurting him, after all. Therefore she could not blame him, if he sought comfort somewhere else.

 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus had been sure he would find Hermione in a better mood, when he arrived on her window sill, but if anything things seemed to be even worse today. The girl was crying again, sobbing, if he wasn’t mistaken, and it took him several minutes of knocking his beak against the window to get her attention. Shortly after he found himself in her bed again, the curtains warded in a way which would not even make it possible for a horde of agitated centaurs to disturb them. 

“What has that idiot done now?“ he asked softly, staring at her with a worried expression. 

For a while she could not answer him though, her body being wracked by horrible sobs. He watched her crying helplessly until his body seemed to react on its own, pulling the girl against his chest without even thinking about it. There was no resistance from her; on the contrary, her body seemed to meld against him, her face burying itself against his chest. And even though he felt sorry for her - pitied her - he could not help but feel elated at her touch and the show of trust. 

Severus held her silently for a while, his eyes closed to be able to enjoy the feeling of her body against him to its fullest. She was small, much smaller than him, but her womanly curves were still pronounced enough to make him realize that it was definitely a woman lying in his arms, not a girl. 

Finally her sobs died down, until there were mere sniffles, but as Hermione made no move to disentangle herself from him, he kept holding her, soaking in the smell of her hair. He would never get tired of it, Severus realized, a content smile forming on his lips. 

“Ron’s gotten himself a new girlfriend,” Hermione mumbled, after her breathing had started to normalise and she had found the strength for talking about what had happened. “When he came back from the Hospital Wing he walked in, arm in arm with Lavender. I spent ten minutes watching him bury his tongue inside her mouth, then I couldn't take it any longer.”

Severus stared at the bed curtains in stunned silence. The boy was even more of an idiot than he had thought possible. He should have been begging the girl for forgiveness, to at least try to fix their friendship , but even that seemed of no interest to him. He wouldn’t be surprised if such hurtful behaviour was too much for even Hermione to forgive.

“Do you want me to put something into his pumpkin juice?” he asked, making his voice sound casual. “I could make him taste like rotten eggs for weeks, or vomit green slime, if that is something you prefer.”

For a moment she was silent, until he finally heard her chuckle against his chest. “You wouldn’t,” she said, her voice almost sounding breathless with amusement.

At that, he snorted. “I am a Slytherin, Hermione. I do understand the desire to get revenge, after one was hurt. And that idiot did hurt you, badly. So yes, I would.”

Again, she was silent but after a while he could feel her shake his head against his chest. “But you shouldn’t. I don’t want you to get into trouble because of this. I appreciate the idea though. I’ll just have to let it play out in my mind the next time I see them together.”

Severus did not reply. Hermione had not told him no, not directly , and there was no chance he would get caught on this. He’d been a spy for years after all and the look on Hermione’s face when she saw that idiot vomiting green slime all over Miss Brown would be worth every bit of careful planning. He might not do it right away, or at all , but Severus would keep it an option, if that idiot kept hurting Hermione, because that was something he could not allow. 






Chapter Text

Severus watched Hermione carefully the next day and the days that followed, but even though Weasley kept being an idiot, his friend did not break down again or even show the slightest bit of discomfort. And she would have had every reason to. Seeing the redhead and the naive little chit together, being so obviously taken with each other, was like watching a bad theatre play, with the actors being too unprofessional to make the whole thing believable. But it was not for their lack of trying. 

 

Severus could tell he was not the only one being put out by that little display. Minerva, who was sitting next to him today, was seething with anger and he could tell she was itching to comfort Hermione about her ex-boyfriend’s abysmal behaviour. But she wasn’t the only one. He was pretty sure the boy would receive a dressing down from his sister because Ginevra Weasley looked like she was going to choke him right over his breakfast and Severus thought that he would enjoy watching her. The boy hadn’t done himself a favour by hooking up with the most naive Gryffindor girl he could find, and it wasn’t just because the girl didn’t seem to have two brain cells to rub together. But by the looks of it, she did not seem to mind the smooches the boy eagerly bestowed on her in the hallways, broom cupboards, or even before and after lessons, and maybe that was all Weasley was interested in. Well, that and maybe having a girl letting him get into her knickers, Severus thought, knowing the hungry look in the boy’s eyes only too well. 

 

Hermione held her head high and kept her spine straight and during their shared evenings, they kept their routine of reading and discussing whatever crossed their minds, even though Severus now stayed in his Animagus form thereon. Everything else felt highly inappropriate and even though he had crossed that line twice already, he had done so for her benefit. But he would not cross it for his own. 

 

Another big portion of Severus’ time was spent researching Horcruxes. He was quite versed on the topic of their existence and creation already, as he had been fascinated with Dark Magic in his youth. But now he focussed on the possibilities to destroy them - preferably without destroying the vessel - and the Room of Requirement readily supplied him with every book it could find on the theme. Hermione had really shown him a precious place, one that would give him all the resources he needed. And she had done so in a moment when she didn’t owe him anything, having every reason not to trust him. But she had. 

 

When Severus left his new research base around midnight, he was actually looking forward to some hours of sleep, for once. But he had only made a few steps, when he found his god-son lurking around in the hallway.

 

“Draco, what are you doing here?” he asked evenly, even though he knew what the boy had been looking for. Hermione had explained to him that the room could only be used for one purpose at a time, which meant that the boy had not been able to enter it while he had still been inside. But instead of giving up, the boy had decided to wait. Very suspicious. 

 

“Nothing,” the blonde boy replied evasively. “I couldn’t sleep.” 

 

“Obviously,” Severus replied dryly. “But I guess falling asleep does not work, as long as you are staying upright, in a deserted corridor. You will have to lie down for that.”

Last year, he would have tried to support the boy, probably even to help him. But with his allegiances officially changed, he would have to be careful and cautious around the junior Death Eater. Especially as Potter’s attacker was still not found. 

 

“Your advice used to be more helpful than that, Sir ,” Draco said, staring at him with cold, grey eyes. “Sleep is not coming for me, no matter where I am.” 

 

“I see,” Severus replied with a sigh. It was understandable, of course, as the boy found himself in a pretty desperate situation. But Draco was still lying, because Severus knew where he had been headed to. “I assume you have not considered seeking help with your… situation. There might be people around willing to help.”

 

His godson replied coldly: “You know what he would do to my parents if I did. Apart from that, not all of us can be traitors.”

 

Severus shook his head. “Indeed. I recommend going to bed now, Mr Malfoy. I would hate to take points from my own god-son.”

 

“Do you even care about that, any longer? Because it does not seem like you do,” Draco said, his eyes never wavering. 

 

Severus stared back at him with a calm expression. “I cannot help you, if you do not want my help. And you might not like what I have to offer. But you can come to me in case you do not know where else to go. My side in this conflict is very clear though and I will not waver from the path I have taken, not for anybody, not after I have finally found freedom.”

 

“Freedom? Are you not Dumbledore’s lap-dog now?” the boy sneered.

 

He shook his head. “Standing on the same side of this war does not make me his servant, or whatever it is you are assuming I am. I have not traded one master for another.”

 

The boy stared at him with a contemplative gaze, his eyes trailing towards Severus’ left arm. His unblemished skin was well hidden beneath his robes, of course, and it would stay that way until he could be sure he could trust the boy. He had offered him a way out of this mess, if only vaguely. But it had to be enough for now. 

 

“Go to bed, Draco. You will not find the solution to your problems tonight,” Severus said, taking in the boy’s stubborn expression. “Do you need me to accompany you back to your dorm? Or will you manage to not get yourself into trouble?”

 

“I don’t need your help,” Draco replied, turning and walking away a moment later. Severus was not sure to which of his offers the boy was referring, but then he thought that it did not matter, as long as his god-son rejected them. 



Ssssssss



On the morning of her birthday, Hermione awoke without having any high expectations for the day. With her parents out of the country and Ron not even talking to her, it would probably be a pretty sad day, especially as Harry’s mind seemed to be occupied elsewhere most of the time. She could not really blame him, but if it hadn’t been for Severus’ constant company, she would have felt pretty abandoned.

 

To her surprise, there was a small stack of presents at the end of her bed and she went to open them, still clad in her pyjamas. 

There was a stack of books from her parents, all of them being novels from several modern muggle authors. It was a good gift and Hermione enjoyed reading casual literature from time to time if she felt the need to relax her mind for a bit. And as the magical world did not have any technology to offer distraction, a book was always a good choice. 

 

Harry had gotten her a new self-inking quill, a beautiful one that must have come from an eagle. Hermione stared at it with a soft smile and touched the soft material, before carefully putting it aside. She would use it for her classes today, even though her old quill was still in good shape, but somehow she wanted to make the day special, as much as it was possible under the given circumstances. 

 

There was only one more present for her and it came in a small, wooden box. For a moment Hermione just stared at it, unsure who might have sent it to her, because there was no note attached to it. But as soon as she opened it, she knew, because inside she found a delicate, golden necklace, with part of a blue light-crystal added to it as a pendant. It was beautiful, even though the design was rather simple, but staring at the crystal alone reminded her of their hours in the cave, their cave, and she realized that probably no one except them knew of the place. 

 

“Wow, that is beautiful!” she heard a female voice behind her and when she turned around, she saw Parvati and Lavender staring at her present in awe. “Who sent this to you?” Lavender asked, her eyes full of speculation, while Parvati seemed more fascinated with the design. Now that she looked closer at the pendant, she could see a delicate strand of gold winding itself around the crystal, tiny scales engraved in it that made it look like a snake. Only the very precise use of magic could have created something as detailed as this. 

“I have never seen a necklace like that before, Hermione. Do you know where it was bought?”

 

Unfortunately for them, Hermione would not answer either of their questions. Instead she said: “There was no note added to it. I am pretty sure it’s not from my parents and Harry sent me a quill. I don’t know who else would get me something for my birthday.”

 

At that, she heard Lavender snort. Parvati, on the other hand, stared at her with a curious expression on her face. “Very curious indeed,” she said, rubbing her chin. “Maybe it is from a secret admirer,”  she murmured, a little smile forming on her lips. “Wouldn’t that be the most romantic thing?”

 

Hermione sighed. She and Lavender had never been friends, but ever since she had dated Ron the girl’s behaviour had been outright hostile. It wasn’t just that Lavender seemed to pull Ron into a kiss when she got aware of Hermione’s presence, Hermione could have also sworn that the girl talked about her behind her back. She knew the signs, as such things had happened to her before, in primary school. But back then she had learned that things got only worse if one showed how much one was bothered by it. As long as Hermione had complained about that treatment to her parents and teachers, things had gotten worse and worse. Only when she had stopped caring and held her head high instead, those girls had suddenly stopped bothering with her. With Lavender it would be the same, Hermione thought. With time she would lose interest and realize that Hermione was not a threat to her - or Ron. 

 

Hermione stared at her dorm-mates with an unreadable look on her face that would have made Severus proud. She knew for a fact that Severus was not a ‘secret admirer’, even though a part of her wished it to be otherwise. Still, the necklace was the most beautiful gift she had received in years and she would be only too proud to wear it under her sweater. And every time the stone rubbed against her naked skin, she would remember the cave with all its beautiful lights, and smile. Maybe this seventeenth birthday wouldn’t be all that bad afterall.



Ssssssss



Severus had planned the day very carefully, determined to make that 17th birthday special for his friend. It was what he would have wished someone had done for him, when he reached majority, but the only “special” thing that happened to him was being locked into a cupboard by fucking Potter and his bully-friends. It had been a horrible day in a string of horrible days for him, a never ending humiliation that only ended when Lily started dating the unworthy idiot. Even then his tormentors did not stop, but they sought him out much less frequently. 

For Hermione her 17th birthday things would be different, better; that much he had sworn to himself. The first had been the gift, the necklace he had spent many hours crafting and enchanting. It would not be obvious from just looking at it, but he had exerted all his knowledge on protective spells, layered enchantment over enchantment over the crystal and fed it with his own magic, until he knew his bondmate would be protected from most magical attacks. The necklace would not really help her survive a full Death-Eater attack, but it would buy her time until he was there to help her.  

 

But that wasn’t all he had in mind for today and the rest of it had taken as much careful planning and scheming.

 

“We will be trying to improve your duelling skills today,” he announced, staring at his class of sixth years with a hard expression. “You will be practising in pairs and trying to disarm or immobilize your opponent. You’re allowed to use any spell from your repertoire, verbal or non-verbal, except Unforgivables.”

 

The class stared at him with wide eyes. They all knew they were an uneven number of students and that he would ask one of them to duel him. Today, his choice was an easy one. 

“Miss Granger, you will be facing me today. I have been made aware that you value the gain of knowledge that a private lesson can provide.” He gave his face a disdainful look and from across the room he heard Weasley and several Slytherins snicker. They, of course, assumed he wanted to humiliate her, but Hermione knew better. She did value having a private instruction as she had told him so many times. 

 

“I do,” she replied, her chin raised proudly. Then she walked over to him and positioned herself in duelling distance, her wand waiting readily in her hand. Severus saw the pitying looks she received from Potter and Longbottom, whereas Weasley looked like he was waiting for her to be humiliated the way he had been. What a jerk, Severus thought, before giving the students the signal to start. 

He had barely closed his mouth, when he felt Hermione’s first, non-verbal spell rushing towards him and he blocked it, with a practised flick of his wand. She was taking this lesson seriously, he thought, feeling pride for the girl. Still, he did make a plan for today and that required her losing this duel. Not that she would have had a chance to win against him, having years of duelling experience. But he would not humiliate her, not ever again, Severus swore and send a silent stunner back at her. She blocked it with a determined expression on her face. Good. 

 

Hermione did have a vast theoretical knowledge on spells, Severus knew, and he went through his own repertoire of non-lethal duelling spells and five times he managed to beat her, leaving her unable to fight in one or the other way. Hermione, of course, took it in stride and thanked him politely but breathlessly every time he revived her or handed her wand back. She was treating this duel for what it was, a valuable lesson, and even though he could see her getting frustrated with herself, she never lost her patience, like her friends would surely have at this point. 

“Enough,” he shouted after he had deflected a well-aimed cutting curse from her and slowly he could see the duels around him die down. There were no major injuries, Severus realized with satisfaction as he scanned the classroom with a dark gaze. Then he focussed his attention back on Hermione, putting on his best sneer and said: “Well, you at least did learn to hold your temper, Miss Granger, even though your duelling skills are still rather… lacking. Theoretical knowledge is not all, you see?”

 

Hermione nodded silently, her eyes downcast. He could only hope this would not be too rough on her, but he did want to spend the evening with her and there was only one way on how to go about this. “You will be spending the evening in my office, girl, practising , as you don’t seem to be able to make use of the things you have read in those thousands of books.”

He stared at her without blinking hoping that she would understand what he was trying to do. 

She remained calm and collected, her back ramrod straight as she asked: “Are you putting me in detention, Sir?”

 

He looked at her with a bored expression. “No. I asked you into my office to be taught a lesson, girl. Call it whatever you want.”

 

She nodded silently, before retreating into the back of the room. He could see Potter waiting for her, whispering agitatedly while his green eyes stared at him with a calculative expression. 

 

“...it’s your birthday… unfair… overstepped a line…” Severus could only hear snippets of what the boy said, but it was enough to get the message across. Harry Potter was not happy with him but he could not find it in himself to care, not even a little bit. 

 

 












Chapter Text

“What do you think you’re doing, Severus?” Minerva’s stern voice asked him, as he left the Great Hall after lunch. Severus turned around slowly and looked at his colleague with his eyebrows raised questioningly at her.

 

“I don’t think I know what you’re referring to, Minerva,” he said, realizing that the woman was seething. 

 

“It’s the girl’s birthday, for Merlin’s sake! You can’t just put her in detention over… over… nothing!”

 

“Ah,”  Severus exclaimed, schooling his face into a mask of indifference, before casting a quick Muffliato to protect their privacy. Secretly he had prepared himself for the old woman to approach him. She had always been protective of her cubs, and especially Hermione. “Call it private lessons then, if it makes you feel any better. I did not take any House Points from her, if that is what you’re worried about. ”

 

Minerva looked at him with a dark expression and he prepared himself for her to try and box his ears. “Private lesson? Really? You never give private lessons, not even for your Slytherins. So why would you do it now?”

 

He looked at her calmly. “I was told it was the girl’s birthday.”

 

Minerva stared at him open-mouthed for a few seconds and for a moment Severus feared she would have a stroke. 

“Are you… are you trying to be nice ?” she asked, her voice full of disbelief. 

 

He shrugged nonchalantly. “There are dark times ahead of us, Minerva. Maybe you should consider giving private lessons to your favourite cubs, too. They will surely need them. Good day.”

 

Severus turned around without waiting for the woman’s answer. She would surely make her own conclusions about what he was doing. Probably she would come to the decision that he was indeed trying to give the girl a birthday gift. And she would not have been far off.




sssssssss



Hermione was not worried about the detention Severus had thrown at her, even though she could hear some other Gryffindors hear complaining loudly about the unfairness of it all. Harry, of course, was the one who complained the loudest, even after Hermione assured him that she did not mind another duelling lesson with Professor Snape.

“Can’t you see what he’s doing, Harry?” she asked him with a shake of her head. “He’s teaching me, Harry, really teaching me how to duel and hopefully survive. I told you he is on Dumbledore’s side and I think this is his way of helping us improve.”

 

Harry looked at her with a stunned expression, his forehead wrinkled as he was considering her words. But she was not finished. “Think about it, Harry. He never even asked a Slytherin to practise with him. Why? He is trying to help us improve, even though some of us might not appreciate his methods. But he is a powerful and skilled wizard and one of the best teachers we’ve had for DADA.”

 

She could tell that Harry was considering her words, even though he still did not seem happy with them. “But it’s your birthday , Hermione. Don’t tell me you didn’t hope for something different than spending the evening with Snape wiping the floor with you.”

 

“He is giving me a private instruction, Harry,” Hermione said with a small teasing smile. “What else could I wish for on my birthday?”

 

At that, her friend snorted. “Only you could see it that way. You’re such an over-achiever, Hermione,” he said, but there was a fondness in his voice that made her smile. Maybe Harry did not think the same way she did, but he at least tried to understand and that was all she asked for in a friend. 




Sssssssss



Hermione knocked at Severus' office door two minutes early, but she hoped he would not mind. It did not take long for him to open the door and ask her inside and even though his tone was brisk, she could see their friendship reflecting in his eyes. 

As soon as the door closed behind him though, his whole facade dropped and back was her friend, staring at her with an awkward smile. 

“Sorry if I was too rough on you in class. But I did not want to celebrate your birthday as a raven, confined to Gryffindor tower.”

 

Hermione looked at her friend with a small smile. “But you already sent me a present, Severus, and I love it. It’s beautiful!” she exclaimed, carefully pulling out the necklace from below her shirt. The crystal still glowed in blue light and by now it felt warm and… familiar against her skin. She could not help but smile while looking at it.

 

“You like it then,” Severus stated neutrally. “Good. It’s more than a pretty piece of jewellery though. There are some protective spells on the crystal that you will hopefully never need. But these are difficult times, Hermione and I want you well protected.”

 

She stared at her friend with wide eyes. His last statement had a weight that made her realize how serious he was about this… about her. He really valued her company, her friendship, on a whole different level than anybody else ever had. It made her feel… odd and she could not help but ask herself if she could give him back enough in return. “I… I don’t know what to say to this. I.. this is…” she could only stammer and look at the man in front of her helplessly. Slowly, she started to sense his discomfort and when she saw the anxious look forming on his face, she leapt forward and pulled him into a tight hug. Because she definitely did not want to make him feel like she did not appreciate his efforts. She did, but it also made her feel slightly overwhelmed. 

“I am not used to being spoiled like this, to feeling protected like this…” she mumbled while pressing her ear against his chest. “But I do appreciate it, even though I do feel young and stupid now. Sometimes I feel so stupid compared to you, you know?”

 

Slowly she felt his arms close around her, holding her close. “You are not stupid Hermione, you are young. Knowledge comes with age and experience and it’s not your fault that there’s such a large age gap between us. I plan on staying your friend for a very long time, Hermione, and eventually, things will get more even between us. Don’t worry about it now.”

 

Hermione nodded. He was right of course. She would not be his student forever and there were so many things she planned on learning. “Alright, sorry,” she mumbled, slowly pulling back from him. “It’s just that I have the feeling that I cannot give anything back to you.”

 

He stared at her with an unreadable expression on his face. “How is it then, that these last days have been the happiest in my life? Do not dwell on this, Hermione. Your friendship is all I want.”

 

She accepted those words with a nod. “Alright. So… what do we do now? I don’t exactly see the two of us eating birthday cake together, especially as we’ve just had dinner.”

 

Severus chuckled. “I did not plan for us to stay here. I’d like to take you somewhere… a place outside of Hogwarts that is.”

 

“We are going out? Really?” she asked, suddenly feeling excited. “But what if somebody sees us leaving the castle? Everyone assumes you are teaching me defence in your office.”

 

Her friend smiled. “No one will see us leaving. We are taking a portkey, directly from this office.”

 

Hemione smiled. “Looks like you have given this a lot of thought. I cannot wait to see where you’ll be taking me…”

 

Severus smiled. “Excited? Wait till we get there.”




Ssssssss



Severus thought that this evening was as much a present for him, as it was for her. Not only did he enjoy seeing the look of wonder and awe on Hermione’s face; visiting the Timeless Collection had been a dream of his, too. The place was truly magical, not only because the cathedral-like room contained thousands of rare books and magical artefacts, but because time was literally standing still in this place. As he explained as much to the girl at his side, he could see her eyes bulge at the revelation. 

 

“Time is standing still? Does that mean we can stay as long as we want?” she gasped and it took all his willpower not to chuckle at her enthusiasm. 

 

“Indeed. Some wizards stay for weeks and months. I did not plan on spending the night though, as I have not booked us a room. But we can stay as long as you can keep yourself awake and after we return, you can nap on my sofa before I am sending you back to your dorm after an appropriate time for your detention has passed. You might still be tired in the morning, but this second gift comes with a bottle of Energy Replenisher, so you should be fine.”

 

For a moment Hermione just stared at him in stunned silence, but then she pulled him into a hug, that was surprisingly strong for such a small person. Severus did not mind and even though he had never enjoyed physical contact with another person ever since Lily, he found himself soaking in her touch. Asking Albus to get him the permission to enter that secret Refugio of Knowledge has been totally worth it. 

“You are spoiling me, Severus,” she said, her caramel brown eyes beaming at him with happiness. 

 

He smiled. “This is as much a gift for myself, as it is for you. You might remember that I am a very bookish person, too.”

 

Hermione nodded and before he realized what she was doing, her hand took his, so that they were standing side by side, their fingers entwined while they stared at the seemingly endless shelves with books in front of them. “And no one appreciates that more than I. Shall we go? Because I can’t wait to see what they have here…”

 

Severus smiled a happy smile. “Neither can I.”



Ssssssss



When Hermione stumbled back into the Gryffindor Common Room she was beyond tired, despite the short nap she had taken on Severus’ sofa. They had been to the Timeless Collection for hours, browsing book after book, reading side by side on one of the plush sofas that were provided for them. Hermione could not remember feeling this content in her life, this happy, because she had the chance of doing what she loved most without needing to feel guilty about it. Severus did not mind that she did not speak a word for hours while she buried her nose in a book, the world around her forgotten. Because the man at her side understood and enjoyed those hours of silent reading as much as she did. They were indeed Kindred Spirits.

Now her head was pleasantly buzzing with all the new information she had taken in and she could not wait to discuss the things she had read with Severus, tomorrow when he would come visiting her again. But for now, she just wanted to stumble into her bed and sleep.

“You are back,” a voice said when she was about to stumble towards the stairs to the girl’s dorm. Immediately she halted in her steps and turned around, realizing that Harry had been waiting up for her on a sofa in the corner. 

 

“Harry,” she said, slowly walking over to him. “What are you doing, staying up that late. Have you been waiting for me?”

 

The boy nodded, staring at her with intense, green eyes. “I have. I was worried about you. That’s why I watched you on the Marauder’s Map. Strangely you were only in Snape’s office for a few minutes, before your and his dots disappeared from the map for a few minutes. But that wasn’t the strangest thing. After your dots reappeared, the both of you entered his private quarters where you stayed for hours. Isn’t that strange? And then there is something else, I suddenly remember. I saw you at the hospital wing, Hermione - you and Snape. First I thought it was just a dream, but now? Where have you been, Hermione? What’s going on?”

 

Hermione stared at him helplessly, her mind suddenly blank and devoid of an appropriate answer. Because there was none. “Harry I… it’s complicated…” she tried, but at that, his expression only hardened. 

 

“Complicated, huh? Are you having an affair or something? Is that what this is?” the boy asked while staring at her heatedly. 

 

Hermione saw red. She hastily cast a silencing spell around them, before she started to shout. “Harry James Potter! How dare you accuse me of such a thing? Relationships between teachers and students are forbidden!” She paced in front of him and the sofa. “What is it you’re even accusing me of? Using the first possibility after coming of age to ensnare my Professor during detention? Maybe even to improve my grades ?”

She looked at him with a fiery expression, while Harry just stared at her, taken aback. But she was not finished. 

“Or are you implying that we have been shagging for weeks and months while I was still underage ?”

 

“What? No!” her friend replied, taken aback. “That’s not what I meant.”

 

She stared at him with a cold expression. “No? Because it very much sounded like you did. Merlin Harry, I thought you knew me, but it seems like Ron isn’t the only one with his mind in the gutter. Maybe you should tell him ! He would love that new theory of yours!” 

 

With that she stormed off, not even looking back to judge Harry’s reaction. His words had hit her hard, not just because she was a stickler for rules. They could have been true, as far as she was concerned, because somehow, she could see herself falling more and more for Severus - for Professor Snape . More than once she had felt the impulse to not just hug him but press her lips against his, to let him know how she felt. She wanted him, not just as a friend. Except she would ruin their friendship if she only as much as hinted into that direction. Severus had always been concerned about her behaving properly and he had good reason to. Having a romantic relationship with a student would be a scandal and would probably cost his job. He couldn’t - they couldn’t. But apart from that he probably was not interested in her that way. Because only a few hours ago he had said it: “Your friendship is all I want.”

He wanted her friendship, nothing more, Hermione reminded herself, just as she threw herself onto her bed, not even bothering to brush her teeth or remove her clothes. She, too, needed to pull her mind out of the gutter, because when she was honest with herself, she wasn’t any better than the boys. But she would not ruin her friendship with Severus by wanting things she could not have, not in a million years.






Chapter Text

It did not even take Severus five minutes of watching Hermione during breakfast to know that something was wrong. Today she sat all by herself, staring down at her book with a look that read unmistakably “Do not talk to me.” And even though Potter looked at her several times, his face full of guilt, nobody else did. Whatever the idiot had done, Hermione seemed thoroughly pissed at him. Not that Severus was surprised, as Potter and Weasley had repeatedly treated her like idiots. It appeared Hermione was no longer taking all their shit, maybe because she suddenly had a real friend instead of a bunch of immature, egomaniac al teenaged-idiots.

But as soon as he entered the girl’s dorm that evening and took a look at her face he knew that something was indeed wrong. Therefore he lost no time in landing on her pillow, fixing her with a questioning gaze, while she thoroughly closed the curtains and warded them. It hadn’t taken long for her to learn the necessary spells for it, as Hermione Granger soaked up knowledge like a sponge.

We have a problem ,” she told him mentally, as soon as she was sure they would not be disturbed. “Yesterday… Harry saw us in your private chambers.”

His raven face probably did not transport the confusion he felt. “That is impossible, Hermione. My rooms are very well warded. No one could enter without my invitation, not even the Headmaster… or you.”

The girl just shook her head. “No, he did not need to enter your chambers. He has a map that shows the castle and the position of all its inhabitants. It was made by Remus Lupin and his friends back when they were students. I believe the y somehow tied it to the wards of the castle but I am not sure.”

That was a lot to take in, Severus found. Those bullies had been in possession of a map? No wonder they had always found him seemingly without effort. He’d never even had a chance to hide, Severus thought in frustration. 

But that wasn’t the problem Hermione had hinted at. She had said Potter had the goddamn map now. And he had seen them, in his quarters. Ah.

“So Potter saw your and my marker in my rooms, ” he repeated calmly in her mind. “What did he make of that?”

Hermione stared at her folded legs, her cheeks slowly turning pink with embarrassment. “He also saw us together at the hospital wing after you… after he woke up. He asked if we were having an affair,” she admitted through their mental connection. And once more he was glad that his raven form was helping him to hide his emotions. Because ever since he and Hermione had gotten closer, he tried not to occlude his mind when he was with her. He wanted to show her his real self, to give her a chance to get to know him better.

“Ah, ” he replied as neutrally as possible. “ What did you say in return?”

Her eyes slowly trailed towards him, until they looked at him. “I… asked him if he was assuming I was trying to better my grades through sleeping with you as soon as I was old enough to do so, or if he thought this has already been going on as I wasn’t even of age.”

Severus gave a mental snort. He could see the whole scene playing out in his mind now. Of course, the boy would have received a dressing down for accusing them of such a thing. Hermione was usually a stickler for rules and she would have hated to be unrightfully told that she had broken them.

“I imagine he realized how ridiculous that accusation of his was?” Severus found himself asking, his voice not giving any of his feelings away. 

At that Hermione started chewing on her bottom lip. “I kind of stormed off after that. I do have a temper sometimes, especially when those boys are just so damned thick.”

He looked at her with an inclined head. “Understandable. But we do have to talk to him again because I assume it will be only a matter of time until he cannot keep his mouth shut. And we do not want him ruining your reputation.”

“And yours,” she added. “I do not want you getting in trouble, Severus.”

Severus did not say anything to that. He was glad that Hermione was so considerate of his situation, but her words also made pretty clear that she would not risk their reputations for something more than friendship. It totally made sense, but he still felt … disappointed somehow. Still, her birthday was just yesterday and only a few days ago she had been too young to even consider starting a relationship with her. She was only days older now… but did that really make a difference? Hermione was still incredibly young and had barely had the chance to make her own experience with romance. On the other hand, he did not think he could stand watching her make some, especially considering that their bond would probably not allow her to do so. So where did that leave them? He could not ask her to sa v e herself until he deemed her old and experienced enough… that was, if she would ever want him in that way.

He sighed internally, before he remembered, that he should probably say something to her. “ Do not worry, Hermione. There is no proof to Mr Potter’s words and if necessary we could both swear under Veritaserum, that we are not sexually involved. Still, we should talk to Mr Potter and maybe give him some basic information. But we can not tell him much; not because I do not trust him to keep his mouth shut for your sake, but because he is still mentally connected to the Dark...ah...Voldemort. And as my attempt to teach him Occlumency was not very successful…

“Yeah, we should talk to him, even though I have no idea what we should tell him. If we cannot tell him of the bond, then what is there even left to say?” Hermione said, the nervousness obvious from the tone of her voice in his head. 

“I will think of something, Hermione. Do not worry about it,” Severus promised confidently. He saw her nod, her posture slowly relaxing.

“I don’t. I trust you, Severus,” she said and the small smile she bestowed on him was enough to make his heart jump with pride. 



Sssssssss

 

Hermione could not help but feel nervous throughout the next day. She knew that she and Severus would talk to Harry in the evening, Severus had promised her they would, but she had no idea what he would tell her friend, or how Harry would take whatever facts Severus would be throwing at him. Harry hated her bond mate and no matter how often Hermione tried to imagine the conversation in her head, it always ended in disaster. That, of course, did not help to make her feel any better or less nervous about the meeting that was fast approaching. 

Lessons and mealtimes had never gone by so fast, even though Hermione was mostly just picking at her food. Then dinner was finally over and Hermione was hastily walk ing back to her dorm, where a house-elf would come to collect her to transport her into Severus’ office without being seen. Last year she would have been hesitant to accept such a service from the elves, but now she knew that they had been proud to be asked and trusted with their secret. Severus had promised her that the house-elves would never tell, and Hermione trusted his judgement. 

“There you are,” Severus greeted her, as soon as Worry, the elf, had apparated her into his office. Her Professor was calmly seated behind his desk, his fingers steepled in front of his chin. And even though he greeted her with a small, friendly smile, he wore the facial expression that she now called his “public mask”. “Potter will be here in about two minutes, I believe. Sit down.”

He pointed at one of the chairs in front of his desk and suddenly Hermione felt like his student again, not like his friend. But it was fine, Professor Snap e was still her teacher, after all, and he would be for almost two more years. And even though they had formed a friendship, she had no problem accepting his authority over her. 

Hermione sat down and tried not to fidget in her seat. She did not have to wait long, as there was a knock at Severus’ door just a few moments later. Severus calmly rose from his seat and walked over to the door, his face now devoid of all emotions.

“Potter,” he said in an almost bored tone, after opening the door.

“Sir,” Harry greeted back and a moment later Hermione could hear him stepping in. “Hermione?”

Ah, he hadn’t expected her here, then. “Hello Harry,” she said, looking at him over her shoulder. 

“Sit down, Potter,” Professor Snape’s voice instructed him from the door. Then he brushed past her with billowing robes, to sit down behind his own desk. Harry followed his command without saying anything, but Hermione could tell how tense he was. What would he expect to be said here?

“You have questions,” their Professor said, his dark eyes focussed on Harry, for now. “Before Miss Granger and I agree to give you some answers, though, I do have some questions on my own. You will answer them, truthfully, or you will not get any answers at all. Is that understood?”

“Yeah,” Harry mumbled and Hermione could not help but be embarrassed by her teenaged friend’s bad manners. She glared at him and Harry, who saw it, hastily corrected: “I mean, yes, Sir.” Severus did not comment on it. Instead he said:

“Has your scar hurt since you returned from the Department of Mysteries, or have you experienced any strange dreams lately?”

“No,” Harry replied irritatably. “My scar has not hurt since I last encountered Voldemort, not even before or after I was attacked at Hogsmeade, if that's what you’re referring to. The dreams have also stopped, as far as I can tell.”

Severus nodded. “Good. Do you experience unexplainable bouts of anger or do you feel compelled to do things you normally would not do? You did break Mr Weasley’s nose, after all.”

Harry stared back at his Professor and shook his head. “Yeah, but he deserved it for being a prick.”

“He did,” the older man replied and suddenly Hermione saw the small smile that tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Well then, it appears we can at least give you some basic information. If that is not enough for you, you will need to improve your Occlumency skills - noticeably.” Professor Snape paused, probably to give Harry the chance to reply to his words. He didn’t though, therefore the Professor continued: 

“You have been made aware of Miss Granger and I saving your life. We did not do it by brewing some mysterious potions, though. There is no potion to cure the Killing Curse, Potter, because usually there’s no one left to take it.” 

Harry nodded in understanding. “How did you cure me, then?”

Severus stared at him calmly. “Miss Granger and I used very old magic and could only succeed in saving you by combining our powers.”

“How?” the young man shot back, his green eyes staring at his Professor doubtfully. 

“This I can tell you, after you have learned to protect your mind,” Severus replied and slowly Hermione felt herself relaxing. Her bond-mate would know how much he could safely disclose. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus used all his strength to be as sociable as possible with Lily’s son. He was Hermione’s friend, after all, but the boy’s lack of… manners was somewhat infuriating. Severus could tell that Hermione was somewhat embarrassed for her friend too, but he would not hold Potter’s lack of respect against her. 

“How can I learn Occlumency? You tried teaching me once and I wasn’t able to learn,” the boy pouted and Severus had to restrain himself from rolling his eyes. 

“You could apply yourself for once, Potter,” he said, matter of factly. “You know the basics, I repeated them over and over again. All that you’re lacking is discipline and the right motives to do it.”

Pother sighed. “I will try, Sir,” he promised, staring at him with his arms crossed in front of his chest. “Is there anything else you can tell me? For example, why Hermione was spending the evening of her birthday in your quarters?”  

Now came the difficult part, Severus thought while grinding his teeth. But before he could even say something, Hermione replied: 

“Professor Snape and I are friends, Harry. I was allowed to browse some of his books, as a birthday present, so to speak,” the girl said, the lie undetectable from her tone. If he had not known better, he would have fallen for it himself. Still, her words were totally unexpected in the given situation, as he had assumed the girl wanted to keep their friendship a secret. Obviously, he had been wrong.

Potter looked like he had just been confunded, looking back and forth between them like he was expecting one of them to erupt in giggles, telling him that it had been a joke. But no one did. “Wait, you’re serious, Hermione? Snape’s your… friend ?”

Professor Snape, Harry. And yes, he is,” Hermione answered, her voice brisk. If she had been a cat, she would have put up her fur, Severus thought, but Potter, ever the idiot, did not seem to see the warning signs.

“Why?” he asked, staring at her like she had suddenly gone insane. One look at his friend was enough to realize, that the boy was about to receive one of Miss Granger’s famous dressing downs. 

Why ? Because apparently Professor Snape finds me interesting and intelligent enough to be worth his while, Harry,” she said, raising her chin proudly. “He has been very kind and patient with me, Harry, and I am most grateful for it, as you should be . Because without his kindness and selflessness you’d be dead , Harry.”

The boy nodded, staring at him with a dumbfounded expression. “Yeah,” he mumbled, his whole posture somewhat deflating. Hermione looked at him for a long moment, her eyes glinting with disappointment and fire. 

 

“Is there anything else you wanted? Because some of us still have homework to do,” she snapped, before getting up from her chair. “Merlin Harry, I thought it was enough that one of my friends behaved like an idiot, but apparently I was wrong.”

Potter was silent. He looked like he was still in shock and Severus found himself enjoying the scene in front of him. The idiot had made his own bed, he thought, looking at Hermione calmly.

“I think I am finished here, Severus,” she told him and he could have bet that she was using his given name to make a point. The effect it had on Potter was not lost on him.

“It appears that way,” he said, inclining his head. “Good night, Hermione,” he said, causing Potter to stare at him, like he had just grown a second head. Hermione did not pay the boy any mind though and instead turned around, before storming out of his office. Severus let her go, knowing he would see her later, when he visited her in his Animagus form. 

Instead his whole attention was on Potter, who looked even more uncomfortable now that his Gryffindor friend was gone. Severus looked at the boy with a cool expression in his black eyes, his fingers steepled in front of his chin. 

“Well Potter, you’d better get used to Miss Granger having chosen me as her friend, because I am not planning on going anywhere,” he said, causing the boy to shift uncomfortably on his chair.

“Yes, Sir,” Potter croaked and for once he remembered how to correctly address him. Good. He’d endure the idiot’s presence for Hermione’s sake, but only after having taught him some manners. 

  





 

Chapter Text

“Hey Hermione, can we… can we talk?” Harry said. He had come to find her after their DADA class finished and even though Hermione was still mad because of the boy’s abysmal behaviour towards Severus, she knew they had to talk eventually.

She turned towards her oldest friend with an audible sigh. “Of course, Harry. We can always talk, as long as you’re not behaving like an idiot again.”

Hermione pulled the boy into an empty classroom and warded the door as soon as she had closed it behind them. She could see him watching her with a curious expression.

“Did Snape teach you how to do this?” he asked and motioned towards the warded door. “Or did you teach yourself?”

She looked at Harry with a stern expression. “ Professor Snape taught me how to do the most important wards,” she said, carefully walking towards a desk before leaning against it. “Amongst other things. He is always very generous when sharing his knowledge with me.”

“Is that why you like him?” her friend asked, staring at her with scrutinizing, green eyes. “Because I don’t get it, Hermione. The man has been a git towards you. He has mocked you more often than I can count and sometimes he’s just been outright mean. Why would you befriend someone like him? And how? When did this happen?” 

Hermione sighed. “He was the one who took care of me after I got wounded in the Department of Mysteries,” she explained calmly, because she could somewhat understand her friend’s confusion. To him, this friendship really must seem strange, even though it was the most natural thing for her these days. “I realized he was totally different when being alone with me and after a while, I realized that this was just the mask he wore in public.”

Harry looked at her with furrowed brows, restlessly pacing the floor in front of her. “What do you mean: ‘He took care of you?’ Did he sit at your bedside or what?”

“Sometimes,” Hermione admitted. “He took care of my medication and as Madame Pomfrey was sometimes busy, he took me for a walk to improve my stamina after being confined to bed for such a long time. We talked, mostly about books as you can imagine. He love s to read, like me, you see?”

Harry nodded, even though his expression was still somewhat pained. “What can I say? Hermione I… I’m happy for you, I’m happy that you found a… friend that seems to share your interests for once. I know it’s sometimes difficult for you with me and Ron being so… different. We never really got your passion for books or for studying and by what you’ve just told me he … does.”

Hermione nodded with a small smile. “Yeah.”

“It’s just all so… strange. He’s our Professor and during classes, he’s still pretty much a git, even though his behaviour has somewhat improved. You know, it’s actually really considerate that he let you read his books as a birthday present. I bet you loved that.”

At that, Hermione could not help but start smiling. Their shared evening at the Timeless collection came back to her mind and suddenly she wished they could go back there, maybe for an extended vacation or something. And who knew? Maybe they would, one day?

“I did,” Hermione admitted, her voice taking on an almost dreamy tone. She did not see the strange look in Harry’s eyes as he saw the little smile playing on her lips, especially as it was gone a moment later.

“Good. But if he hurts you, I’ll get the twins’ help and make his life a living misery,” her friend promised, before pulling her into a spontaneous hug. “You’re the only sensible friend I have, Hermione. You’re almost like a sister to me. If Snape hurts you or uses you for some nefarious scheme, he’ll wish he was never born. You hear me?”

Hermione let go of Harry and looked at him with a confused expression. “I don’t think I know what you’re saying, Harry…”

At that, the boy dug his fingers through his hair. “He’s a man , Hermione, a grown man . Who says it’s only friendship he wants?” He shook his head with a sigh. “I’m not saying that’s what he’s doing, Hemione. Just, be careful, please. And if he as much as lays a finger on you, you tell me or McGonagall, alright? I won’t stand by and watch you being taken advantage of.”

Hermione nodded, even though the whole conversation suddenly seemed somewhat awkward to her. Severus would never take advantage of her like that. He was an honourable man and sometimes, when Severus left her in the evening and her bed still smelled like him, Hermione wished that he wasn’t. But that was something she hadn’t better tell Harry, not when he had just taken the news of hers and Severus’ friendship so well.  

 

ssssssss

 

Severus spent the next weeks closely watching Draco and making a plan on how to get those damned memories from Slughorn. Ever since the old man had mucked up his patrols at Hogsmeade, he had seemed to avoid him like a plague. During dinners he usually sat at the other end of the table now, his eyes watching over his Slytherins with an almost haunted expression. Maybe it was the guilt making him act this way but considering the fact that Severus still needed those memories, it was most inconvenient. But in the end, it did not matter, as Severus could always go back to using Legilimency on him and obliviate the old fart afterwards. Dumbledore had handed him a Carte Blanche here and he was not too shy to use it, if the man did not leave him any other choice.

The relationship between Hermione and her moronic friends still seemed pretty strained. The redhead was usually glued to Miss Brown’s side, or actually her face, but after a while, most people had just started to ignore those two, all except Minerva. She glared at Weasley like he had personally affronted her and more than once the older witch was reported to keep him for detention or take points whenever she found his work too sloppy.

Potter, on the other hand, seemed to at least try to improve his relationship with the girl. He sat with her for meals and he could see them having conversations of sorts, even though both of them looked like they were trying too hard. But they were trying, both of them, and even though Severus did not like Potter, he knew that the boy was important for Hermione and that she would never abandon him. 

 

In DADA Severus mostly concentrated on Hermione and Potter now. Sometimes he ordered Longbottom as well to duel him, but the boy was surprisingly stubborn and had much more backbone than Severus had deemed possible. And even though the boy hardly dared to throw anything more dangerous than a stunner at him, his shielding skills were truly remarkable. Maybe it was the boy’s wish to protect himself from Severus’ attacks, but Longbottom was as concentrated as Severus had never seen him before. Maybe the boy wasn’t a total disappointment, after all. There was more of his parents in him than Severus had realized so far. 

Draco was an entirely different matter. Severus could tell that the boy was watching him. Twice more he had found him close to the seventh floor, but mostly the blonde wizard kept his head down and avoided trouble whenever possible. Severus would have been relieved about it, if he didn’t have the distinct feeling that the boy was up to something. He couldn’t tell if his godson had been the one attacking Potter, but Severus was sure that whoever tried it the last time, would try it again. They could only hope that Potter’s luck held or they found the attacker before he had the chance to strike again.

I think Neville is really improving in defence, now, ” Hermione told him mentally, while holding their current book for the both of them. “ Even though he’s still scared of you, duelling you really helps him. And I think he’s aware of it and appreciating the effort you are making… unlike others.

Today Hermione was just lazily lounging on her bed, Severus’ Animagus form seated on her pillow, right next to her head, which was resting only a few centimetres away. He was always careful not to touch her, but he could still feel the warmth radiating from her body and he found himself enjoying it way more than he should. Today had been a hard day, the progress he was making with Slughorn frustratingly non-existent, and those one or two hours of peaceful reading were what he had been most looking forward to. 

He has definitely improved ,” he found himself replying. “ He will never be a grand dueller as he is still too hesitant with his attacks. But his shielding skills are decent, which could indicate that he has more interest in protecting himself or others than hurting people. It would speak for his character, if you ask me.

“You think so?” Hermione answered, her voice almost hesitant. He could feel her roll over a moment later, until she was lying on her side, her forehead almost touching his feathered chest. “It’s really hard for me, too. I think I could do it, when faced with a real enemy. But I really don’t want to hurt you and I think that’s why I’m not really trying. Even though I would probably never be able to land even a single hit.”

“I’ve had many years of duelling practice,” Severus replied, while his eyes studied the different shades of her curls. Some of them were almost golden, he thought, and felt the urge to touch them again. Luckily he was only in his raven-form now and therefore the urge was much easier to control, as his feelings were partly overlapped with what he called his raven-self. He barely acknowledged it, as those Animagi that were more beast than human had always been a warning to him. But right now it was good to have wings instead of fingers, because those he could not bury in her hair. As a bird he could not kiss her - thank Merlin, as upholding propriety got more and more difficult as the days passed. 

Being a Death Eater for two decades came with an abundance of violence , fighting and being bullied at school was also a hard but helpful lesson in self-defence ,” he explained calmly. Somehow, with Hermione, he did not mind talking about his past because he knew she would understand. Hermione would not judge or think less of him for the things he had done or experienced.

Hermione nodded, her brown eyes focussing him with an intensity that made his skin prickle. “Harry told me what his father and his friends did to you,” she admitted and a moment later he could feel her fingers gently stroking the feathers of his back. He did not move, did not dare to lean into her touch, even though every fibre of his body wanted to. “For some time I thought Professor Lupin to be a bit like me,” she mumbled, her voice suddenly speaking directly to him, instead of in his mind. “I thought our shared love for books made us alike, but I was wrong. I would have never stood by and watched, while Ron and Harry did such a terrible thing. And I am sure you wouldn’t have either.”

Of course not ,” Severus mentally answered, his heart aching when Hermione removed her hand a moment later, as she got distracted by her large, orange cat, which had just jumped on her bed and walked towards them, its tail proudly raised into the air. Somehow the beast had just ignored the wards Hermione had erected, or better, Hermione had designed them in a way to let the disruptive beast pass. Severus could have sworn the cheeky bugger knew exactly what he was doing, as a moment later the cat rubbed his face against Hermione’s belly, making her hand wander from Severus' head to Crookshank’s fur. 

Severus looked at the beast with small eyes and for a moment he was almost sure that the cat looked back at him with an almost smug expression on his ugly face. Cheeky bugger!

I would have loved to witness you having a go at Black and his consorts, ” Severus admitted, his Animagus form unable to reflect the smile he was feeling. “ I would have loved going to school with you, having you as my friend back then. Things could have been so different.

He rarely looked back at his past but right now he could not help it. He envisioned Hermione there, with him, facing Potter and Sirius with fire in her eyes and her hair prickling with angry energy. It would have been brilliant, he thought. ‘I would have dated her, married her, maybe even sooner than Potter had convinced Lily to do so.’

“I know,” Hermione said, no longer bothering with the mental connection. And even though her fingers were stroking that orange beast of hers now, her eyes remained fixed on him, saying much more than her mouth did. He could have sworn the girl had similar thoughts as he had, but there was no use in mulling over what-ifs. She had not gone to school with him and even though they were still kindred spirits, he was also still her damned Professor. 

For a while they just stared at each other. Severus was not sure what else there was left to say and slowly he could feel the tension between them growing thick with… something. It was probably best if he removed himself from the situation, as staying would probably start being painful… for both of them. 

I should probably go now ,” he said, shaking his feathers before taking some steps back. “ I still have some work left and then I do have some things to research, for the Headmaster. ” His words were true and still they were only an excuse right now. Usually, he would not have cared how much work there was left, if it still felt like he could stay with her a bit longer.

“Alright,” Hermione said, her eyes trying to hide the sad glint in them. She wanted him here, he realized, but right now he thought it was better if he left anyway. He did not want to destroy the friendship they had just built up and make things awkward between them. “I actually also have some homework left to do.”

She got up from the bed and offered him her hand. Making a quick decision he leapt into the air and landed on her palm. If someone unexpectedly entered that dorm, they would just see Hermione carrying a messenger bird to the window. 

Good night, Severus, ” Hermione told him mentally, while opening the window.  

Good night, Hermione ,” Severus replied gently. Following an instinct he carefully rubbed his beak against her fingers before he took off into the night, missing the cat’s knowing look from the bed. 

 

Ssssssss

 

Crookshanks  waited for his mistress when she returned to the bed, throwing herself onto the mattress with an emotional sigh. Those humans were really strange sometimes, dancing around each other like a cat would dance around a mouse… no, a snake. A mouse would just be watched for a while until one would pounce at her, but those two had watched each other for ages and by now they should have easily made the decision to pounce at each other or look for a better mouse. But neither of them made a move, and instead they skittered away as if afraid that the other one might bite only to start with the watching game anew. Was this a game of sorts? If it was meant as one, it wasn’t overly successful. His mistress was getting more and more agitated the longer the circling and stalking went. It was really tiresome to watch sometimes. Today he had tried to give the raven-man a little nudge, but all it did was drive his mistress’ potential pouncer away. Very strange and confusing. Those humans were strange, dismissing all the right persons for all the wrong ones, like the smelly redhead his mistress had been licking just recently. He could not let that happen again, as that particular human had never liked or even accepted him. No, the raven man was nice enough, he had gotten him back to his mistress, after their house had been destroyed. The raven-man would have to stay and with a bit of finesse he could even teach him how to stroke his fur with those long fingers of his just right



 

  

 




Chapter Text

“Did you get an invitation, too?” Harry asked her the next morning over breakfast. Just an hour ago a house-elf had delivered a crisp white envelope to her, containing an invitation for the first Slug Club meeting of the year. She had looked at it with furrowed brows for a couple of moments, but when she had become aware of the other girls’ looks, she had hastily thrown it into her school bag and left for breakfast.

 

“You mean from Professor Slughorn?” Hermione asked while buttering her toast. “I did indeed. I guess it would be impolite to refuse to go, even though I have no idea what this Slug Club is even supposed to be.”

 

“Professor Slughorn seems to invite students he views as talented or otherwise promising to those gatherings,” Harry explained while digging into his pile of eggs. “Professor Dumbledore told me about it after he and I visited Slughorn during the holidays. My mum was a member of that club once, did you know?”

 

“No. But you definitely make it sound like it’s worth going there…” Hermione said, completely ignoring the look Lavender bestowed on her. She had decided not to pay the girl any mind from now on, because it was obvious that Lavender strongly disliked her, for whatever reason. “Should we go together then?” she asked, noting that Ron had stopped eating, two places to her right. Idiot. How could he even assume that Hermione and Harry were something more than friends? The thought alone was ridiculous. But sometimes Ron’s jealous streak made him forget all rationality. Still, she had not done anything wrong, not anything at all and therefore she really had no reason to feel guilty.

 

Harry nodded happily, totally oblivious to what happened around them. “Yeah. Sounds like a good plan. If it’s awful we at least still have each other,” he mumbled and even though Hermione thought the wording was a bit unfortunate, she nodded. 

 

“Maybe it will even be nice,” she said, smiling a little. “Professor Slughorn is a very nice and competent Professor, after all.”

 

Harry did not say anything to that, but for a moment she thought he was rolling his eyes at her words. Whatever. Now that she had Severus, Hermione did not care that much about Harry’s approval of her love of learning. It was okay to be different than all the others, because she knew that there was always a person who understood.



Ssssssss



“How did your first Slug Club meeting go?” Severus asked while sitting on Hermione’s pillow in his raven form, staring at her with curious, black eyes. They had not properly seen each other the whole day, which would not have been a problem a while ago. But somehow he had not been able to make it through the day without her, his heart aching from being separated from her for too long. 

 

Well ,” Hermione mumbled while an awkward smile was playing on her lips. “It felt like being under the microscope, to be honest. This dinner was like a never-ending interrogation, mostly focussed on my heritage. Professor Slughorn was of course very polite about it, but…

 

You still felt like an oddity ,” Severus finished for her. “ You don’t have to say it, Hermione. I was a member of his little club myself when I was still a student. I have suffered through at least twenty of those dinner parties and seen it all play out, in all its awkward, stiff glory. Horace Slughorn advertises being very tolerant towards Muggles, but he still can not help being a bigot.”

 

Hermione stared at him with a stunned expression. She probably had not expected him to be so openly disapproving about a colleague. But he had never been one for sugarcoating things. “At least he’s trying to be nice about it. Not like Draco Malfoy. Whenever I spoke he looked like he had an awful smell in his nose, ” his friend mumbled, staring moodily at the bed’s ceiling. She was already clad in her pyjamas, as it was already rather late. But luckily the other girls had already gone to bed, so that she could let him into the dorm without problems. And it wasn’t like they had to get up in the morning, as tomorrow was a Saturday. Therefore he could stay a little longer. 

 

A bigot is still a bigot, Hermione, no matter how polite they are about it. They will still pass you over for someone of ‘better breeding’ ,” Severus said, looking at her seriously. “ You do not have to take that kind of behaviour from a ny one . Do you hear me?

 

Hermione nodded, stunned. He knew she would not change her behaviour right away, as she was brought up to be polite and she was still unsure how to navigate the wizarding world. But he would teach her if she let him do it. 

 

“Draco has done that thing with his nose ever since he was a child, by the way, Severus said in the hope of lightening the mood again. Lucius does it, too, which sometimes made me think it was a Malfoy family trait. Do not worry. He will not insult you during those meetings and if he does, Slughorn will not tolerate it. Horace does not tolerate bullying and he is very averse to Death Eaters. I wonder what even made him invite the boy…”  Maybe it had been Albus’ idea, he thought. Maybe this was his idea of keeping an eye on Draco Malfoy or to let him connect with people outside his own house. It really wasn’t a bad idea, now that Severus thought about it. Maybe that was also the reason his godson was patrolling the corridors with Weasley now…

 

“Well, Draco is talented with potions. I am sure you as his godfather are aware of that, ” Hermione said, a yawn escaping her mouth. Subconsciously she snuggled deeper into her blanket and Severus had to hide the smile that he felt at the sight. It would not take long for her to fall asleep, he thought, and realized that he was looking forward to it. Watching Hermione sleep was one of his favourite things to do, but he rarely stayed long enough for it to happen. Today he had barely arrived though and he could feel the bond urging him to stay a bit longer. He would gladly oblige it, as those were the moments where he could uninhibitedly stare at her and study every freckle and dimple on her relaxed face. 

 

I am. He might not show it, but he is working very hard to achieve good grades. Lucius has communicated his desire for his heir to be amongst the best students very unmistakably, ” Severus explained while shifting on Hermione’s pillow, to make himself more comfortable. “ Not all parents are as understanding and supportive as yours. ”     

 

“I know,” Hermione mumbled, her eyelids slowly dropping. Then, suddenly, he could feel her shift closer, her forehead coming to touch his feathered wing ever so slightly. Severus closed his eyes, determined not to move an inch. The girl was obviously tired and he would not disturb her or make her feel unwelcome by shifting away. No, he would just sit here, enjoying her feather-light touch until she was deep enough asleep, that she would not feel him leaving. It might take a while for her to do so, but it wasn’t like he was in any kind of hurry right now; on the contrary, he had rarely felt so comfortable in his life.



Ssssssss



Severus awoke when he felt a body shift against him, mumbling his name accompanied by a delicate, little sigh that went directly to his groin. He knew without a doubt who it was snuggling into him and burying her face into his chest and he realized that he must have unintentionally fallen asleep in her bed. It was time for him to go, to get back to his own chambers before the girl awoke and realized how much he was enjoying himself, because he was, and his body reacted quite unmistakably to the witch in his arms.

“Severus,” he heard her mumble in her sleep, her body pressing even more against him before he heard her awake with a little gasp a moment later. She did not move right away, her mind probably needing a moment to process the situation and following an impulse, he closed his eyes in hopes of being allowed to stay a little longer. 

Finally, he felt her move, her body disentangling from him ever so slightly and while he was still contemplating what she was doing, he suddenly felt her fingers on his face, her fingertips touching his lips ever so slightly. His body reacted instinctively, his arms closing around her possessively while his eyes snapped open, staring at her and searching for an answer to the question, that repeated itself over and over in his head. But he could not find it and instead registered as her pupils widened when she locked eyes with him.

“Sorry, I did not want to wake you,” she whispered, her breath tickling the skin of his neck as she spoke. He shivered. 

 

“It’s alright, I should go,” he said, willing himself to let her go. 

 

Before he could make a move though, her hand tenderly cupped his cheek, her eyes looking at him pleadingly as she said: “Please stay. I want you here, with me…”

 

Somehow he knew that she wasn’t just asking for some more innocent cuddles between friends, but for so much more than that. And for a short moment he considered giving it to her. To hell with what the others thought, she was of age and she wanted him.

But then his mind caught on and the doubts started to creep back. “Hermione I… we cannot… we should not…” he said, but he was unable to move, to pull away. His eyes could not help but focus on her lips, which were opened ever so slightly and glistening with moisture where she must have licked them a moment before. Gods, he wanted to kiss her so bad, to pull her against him but…

He could not finish that thought as she was suddenly moving against him, her eyes never leaving his as she moved closer until her lips finally brushed against his. It wasn’t really a kiss, more a question, or a silent invitation for him to continue, to close that little bit of distance remaining between them. And without consciously deciding to do so he did, his arms cupping her waist while his lips moved against hers slowly and gently. Hermione melted against him with a sigh as she closed her eyes and her thumb brushed against his cheek, his stubble scratching against her skin. She did not seem to mind, as her lips curved into a smile before she kissed him back, her fingers playing with his black hair as she did. 

It felt glorious to just hold her like this, press her against his body while his lips showed her how he felt for her, pouring his heart into every kiss she eagerly received. Kissing her felt so right but also oh so tempting. Gods, it had been ages since he had been with a woman and his body quickly made him realize what he had been missing out on. Every little sigh from her lips seemed to pool up in his stomach, encouraging him to deepen the kiss and pull her even tighter, his right hand wandering down her back ever so slowly until it reached the hem of her pyjama pants. There it stilled, waiting for her to give him permission to move further and the little nod against his lips was all that he needed. His fingers trailed lower, admiring the delicate curve of her arse that seemed to fill his palm just right. Gods, this was heaven and at the same time a torture more intense than he had ever known. 

Severus heard her moan into his mouth, before she deepened the kiss even further, her fingers digging into the hair at his neck, her fingernails scratching his skin just enough to make it obvious that she liked what he was doing. N either of them spoke as there was simply no air left to form words with and talking seemed like a waste of time anyway. They understood each other perfectly, using the ancient language of passion. Her shivers and sighs told him everything he needed and wanted to know right now. 

Severus' hands were eager to feel even more of her skin and one of them trailed back upward, following her spine until it reached her shoulder blades, the loose fabric of her pyjama top giving him enough room to explore her back below her clothes. Hermione arched into his touch, before her hands let go of his hair, coming to rest against his chest where they started to fiddle with the small buttons of his robe. He could feel her hands shake a little, if from nervousness or passion he could not say. 

“Not fair,” she mumbled, breaking her kiss to look down at his chest with furrowed brows. “You’re all buttoned up and I don’t think I’m able to undo a single one of them. But I want to touch you, too, just a little…”

 

Severus smiled down at her understandingly. “I could help you,” he suggested, his hands trailing over her back before letting go of her to get his wand from his sleeve. “It’s just a little flick of my wand.”

 

Hermione nodded, her eyes staring at him with eagerness and adoration. To see her like this made his heart melt, as well as his resolve to not do this, to wait until she was no longer his student. A silent spell undid the buttons of his robe and the shirt below, making the fabric spring open to expose his pale and almost hairless chest. He could see Hermione’s eyes taking in the sight of him, full of curiosity, her hands reaching for him carefully as if she was afraid he would pull away any second. He did not, but kept himself perfectly still to let her explore his skin without feeling pressed or intimidated. And Hermione did so with growing courage and interest. First her fingers traced his ribs, finding his nipples a moment later, her thumbs stroking them while a little smile broke out on her lips. It was obvious that she had never before touched a man like this and the realization that he was her first, that she chose to do this with him, was almost enough to make him lose his restraint. But he did not, the shiver running through his body the only reaction that could have given him away. 

 

Severus watched her in fascination for a while and enjoyed the touch of her skin. But finally he could not take it any longer, because he desperately wanted to give something back. His hands reached for her face, cupped her chin and pulled her into a lingering kiss, while his other hand trailed back towards her bum, pulling her closer against his body. She went willingly, one of her legs wrapping around him, so that her midsection was pressed against his straining erection. He groaned at the contact and for a moment she stilled, staring at him with wide eyes, before she continued to kiss him, her hands roaming his chest with nimble fingers. It took all his restraint not to grind into her and instead just to enjoy her attentions, his body not taking more pleasure from her than he was freely given. Still, they lost themselves more and more in their desire, her mouth travelling from his mouth across his face to his throat, kissing and sucking his chest eagerly. It was just when he brushed her hair aside to reciprocate her attentions that he heard her moan…

 

...and awoke to the realisation that it had all just been a dream, a dream they had just shared while sleeping wrapped around each other in her bed. But now they were awake, both of them, her eyes staring at him with a mixture of panic, embarrassment and arousal. There was no denying that he had enjoyed their shared dream. His arousal pressing into her thigh made that pretty clear, for both of them. Fuck.



Ssssssss



Hermione awoke to the realization that it had all just been a dream and that Severus was still there, right in her arms. He stared at her with wide eyes, his body stiff like he was frozen in place. Merlin, she could have sworn she could still feel him, taste him, and her body was still aching for him in a way that made her feel hot and cold at the same time. Was he feeling the same? Was his heart thumping as heavily in his chest as hers?

“I should go,” Severus whispered, his voice sounding strangely hoarse. Her mind knew he was right, that those feelings for him and the aching for his touch was madness, but on the other hand this whole scene felt like a dejá vu of her dream and she ached to know what kissing him would really feel like. 

“Please don’t,” Hermione found herself whispering, like following an unwritten screenplay that only the both of them knew.

His black eyes stared at her contemplatively, his brows furrowed like he could not understand what she was saying. Was he not feeling the same desire, the same ache to be close to her? Because if she was reading his body language correctly he very much did. 

 

“Hermione, please, I need to go now,” he murmured, his body suddenly starting to move away from her. “This…”

 

But she did not want him to continue, did not want him to go and so she did what she had done in her dream; she grabbed the front of his robe and pulled him into a kiss. His lips felt dry and soft against hers and for a moment she could have sworn he kissed her back, his eyes closing for a moment and his lips moving against hers before Severus suddenly pulled away. His eyes were open again and stared at her unreadably, but Hermione still realized that she had made a mistake, that he did not want the same things she did. 

“Hermione, please, this was just a dream. You must not confuse it with reality. I know it’s hard, especially with those… hormones still raging through our bodies. But it is not real, this is not real,” he said, while pulling even farther away. “No matter what you think you’re feeling right now, it is just the dream playing you, playing us. You’re still young, you might not know the difference…”

 

Hermione could just stare at him, the dream fading more and more into the background leaving her with this strange situation, where she had just kissed Severus, swearing that it was the right thing, only to be pushed back by him. “Severus, I…” she tried, but she did not really know what to say to him. 

 

“It’s alright. I am not holding this against you. It is not your fault. Let us just… cool down a bit and we will talk about this tomorrow, alright?” her friend said, while carefully getting up from her bed, his body transforming back into his Animagus form. 

 

“Alright,” she mumbled, because what else was there to say? He did not want her, not in that way at least, and she would have to learn to accept this. Could it be that those dreams were just created by her desire to be more to him, to be more than just a friend? It was possible. 

‘What a mess!’, she thought while carefully climbing out of her bed, opening the window for Severus to get out. She watched him leave her bed and the dorm with three quick strokes of his back wings, his small figure disappearing into the night, while the heaviness in her heart and the aching need in her body remained. It would be impossible for her to fall asleep anytime soon with those feelings still raging through her body. Gods, she wanted to continue her exploration of Severus' body so badly, wanted to see and taste that scar she had felt at his chest. And in the seclusion of her bed she would, Hermione decided, her mind replaying all the details she still remembered from the dream while her hand would take care of the ache she felt. It was probably a mistake to give in to that urge and focus on things that were not meant to happen, but right now Hermione found that she did not care. 




Ssssssss

  








Chapter Text

Severus did not return to the castle that night. He knew he would not have been able to fall asleep anyway and so he instead stayed in his raven form, flying over the tree-tops of the Forbidden Forest and beyond until his muscles hurt and the restless energy that had been flooding his body dissipated. It did not help the ache he was feeling in his heart, but there was nothing he could do against that particular feeling. 

 

Pulling away from that kiss had been one of the hardest things he had ever done, but it was obvious the girl’s decisions had been clouded by her raging teenage hormones. In the morning she would have regretted whatever would have followed that kiss and Severus could not risk losing her because he did not have control over his traitorous body.  

It was not her fault that she had gotten carried away by her hormones, confusing what she had felt in that dream with the reality. He could have easily made this mistake himself, his body urging him to continue where they had just left off. But he would have never forgiven himself in the morning, when their friendship had fallen apart because he had not been able to keep his fingers to himself.   

 

His chambers were cold and empty when he finally returned to them after sunrise. Groggily he downed an energy restoring potion and went for a quick shower, carefully washing his hair as he did. For a moment he considered ordering breakfast to his private chambers, but he did not want to give Hermione the impression that he was avoiding her. And so he went, his black robes carefully buttoned up and billowing behind him, as he strode through the corridors towards the Great Hall.



sssssssss

 

“You look like hell,” Harry said, his green eyes looking at her in concern. Hermione could not blame him, because she had not been able to fall asleep again, even after her bodily urges had finally been sated. She had been so sure that Severus would welcome her kiss, that he wanted the same as she did. But now in the light of the day she felt stupid for assuming that a grown man and established Professor could ever be interested in an inexperienced girl like herself. Gods, she was so stupid!

 

“Yeah, that is also pretty much how I feel,” she mumbled, staring at the breakfast table without appetite. From the corner of her eyes she could see that Severus was back at the teacher’s table and by what she saw he looked pretty much like nothing happened, probably because for him nothing had. She sighed. “I just had a rough night, strange dreams and all that.”

 

Harry nodded understandingly. “Believe me, I know about having those . Flying usually helps me to clear my head, but I know this is not how it works for you. Maybe take a walk? Or read a book?”

 

Hermione looked at Harry with an appreciative smile. “I don’t think I feel like reading very much,” she said, while carefully sipping her black tea. Reading would just remind her of Severus and right now thinking about him and their quiet evenings in bed was nothing that she wanted. “Maybe going outside isn’t such a bad idea. Even if flying is not for me, a walk might be exactly what I need.”

 

Harry nodded encouragingly. “Do you want me to come with you?”

 

First, Hermione considered declining Harry’s offer, but walking alone would not help her to distract herself. God, she wished she had somebody she could talk to about this whole mess, but as long as Harry did not manage to learn Occlumency, she would not be able to talk to anybody. But they could talk about other things, could they not? 

 

“That would be great,” she said, smiling kindly. “We’ve barely had time to really talk to each other, lately. Shall we meet in the Common Room at ten?”  

 

Harry nodded with a grin. “Sure.”



Ssssssss



Neither of them spoke much on their way through the castle , but as soon as they got outside, Hermione’s mood started to lighten when she spied all the leaves that autumn had painted in a variety of her favourite colours. It was usually around her birthday that autumn really started to hit the country and Hermione found herself staring at the trees with a longing gaze in her eyes. 

 

“It must be beautiful to just fly above the forest, staring down at this sea of colours,” she mumbled and involuntarily thought of Severus’ animagus form. Maybe she should try to get over her fear of being stuck in an animal’s body and work on transfiguring herself. But who said she would end up with a bird form, in the end? It probably was a longshot…

 

“It is,” Harry said next to her, his eyes following her gaze to the forest. “You know… I could take you along on my broom if you are uncomfortable using one by yourself. I’d fly very slowly of course and we could stay close to the castle. But I could show you the treetops if you like.”

 

It was a crazy idea, Hermione thought, but maybe crazy was exactly what she needed. Sitting on a broom would definitely take her mind off Severus and the humiliation of being rejected by him -  her soul mate. Who would ever want her, if not even he did?

“You don’t have your broom,” she tried lamely but at that Harry’s smile broke out into a grin. 

 

“I learned to accio it more than a year ago, Hermione,” he replied, a twinkle in his eyes. “So that won’t work as an excuse for you.”

 

She looked at him hesitantly. “Well, why not? Just promise you won’t let me fall from your broom,” she mumbled while chewing on her bottom lip. 

 

Harry chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’ll hold you tight.”



Ssssssss



“I don’t know how you manage to play Quidditch on this thing,” Hermione mumbled while tightly gripping the handle of the broom. Harry was sitting close ly behind her, his chest pressed against her back while his arms came around her to be able to stabilize the broom and direct them into the right direction. Having him there felt like being hugged by him from behind and with anybody else it would have felt strange, too intimate, but Harry had always behaved like a brother towards her and therefore she was pretty sure that this would not lead to another misunderstanding. Thank Merlin. She’d had enough of those in the last weeks. 

 

“Flying just feels kind of natural to me,” Harry said, while the broom rose higher and higher. It was only a bit further until they would be above the forest and Hermione could feel her heartbeat pick up with every metre they rose further into the air. "Pretty much like reading feels to you, I imagine. For me, it's always an effort to even open a book. I’m more one for learning by doing.”

 

Hermione nodded understandingly. “I know  there are different types of people. Everyone learns differently. I’ve never been very good at sports and I hate heights,” she admitted, her heart now thumping heavily in her chest. “And years of watching your Quidditch games being sabotaged haven’t helped to make flying feel safe for me.” 

 

“Don’t worry, Hermione. We will not be going higher than this. Just enjoy the view, alright?”

 

Hermione did, her eyes travelling over the seemingly endless forest in front of them. “Harry? Do you think that there’s someone out there, whom we are meant to be with?”

 

“Dunno,” the boy behind her said, contemplatively. “Maybe for some of us. Why are you asking? Is this about Ron?”

 

Hermione shook her head, a sad smile playing on her lips. “No, not about Ron. He and I… we are better off as friends, I think ... if he even still wants to be friends with us. Right now I am not so sure what he wants or doesn’t want.”

 

“That makes two of us then. I threw him out of the Quidditch team, did you know? McLaggen got his place. He’s an arrogant git and probably not much better in accepting orders, but the team would have crucified me if I had kept him after that horrible game just because we’re friends,” Harry told her, his voice sounding sentimental. “Ron did not like it, of course. I don’t see him talking to me anytime soon.”

 

She nodded sadly. “I’m talking to you. And no matter who else I am friends with, I’ll always be there for you. Do you hear me?”

 

“Yeah, I know. And I appreciate it, Hermione,” Harry said, carefully stopping the broom until they were just hovering unmoving in the air. “Do you want to go down again? Or do you want to stay a bit longer?”

 

Hermione considered his words, her eyes taking in the colourful leaves that were stretching out below them like a beautiful carpet. “I think I’d like to stay a little longer if you don’t mind,” she said and Harry behind her chuckled.

 

“Are you kidding me? We are flying , Hermione. For me, it doesn’t get any better than this.” 



Ssssssss



Severus had forced himself to stay away from Hermione for the day. He watched her from afar, during mealtimes and her little excursion with Potter and even though his heart protested at seeing her mount the boy’s broom he told himself that it was none of his business. He had no claim on her, he had denied any attraction towards her just yesterday and therefore he had no right to complain now. But from what he saw, Potter had no romantic interest in Miss Granger anyway, and most of the time the two of them acted like siblings, which made Weasley’s accusations even more laughable. Still, it was strange seeing Hermione with the boy that looked so much like his father and not feel threatened by his closeness to his soul mate. But strangely the bond did not protest like it had done with Weasley, and so Severus had just himself to blame for his current misery. 

 

As the evening approached he could feel himself growing more and more nervous. By now it was an unwritten agreement between them that Severus would visit Hermione in her bed, but after yesterday entering her bed felt… forbidden. It was his only chance to see her though and with them growing emotionally closer, the bond demanded that they spend some time together . 

 

When he carefully approached her window, he could see her sitting on the window sill, a book in her hands. It was still early but he had wanted to avoid falling asleep in her bed at all costs, and luckily his friend seemed to have thought the same. He barely landed on the other side of the glass panel, and she was already jumping up and opening the window for him. 

Severus ," she greeted him, her voice sounding somewhat hesitant and small. " You came. "

 

" Of course I did. Did you doubt I would? " he asked, landing on her pillow. " We are friends, Hermione, and there is not much you could do that would change that.

 

Hermione nodded and slowly walked towards the bed. He could feel the tension radiating from her and he concluded that she had probably started regretting things already. He had known she would. She sat down on her Gryffindor-red blanket and positioned her legs in front of her, so that she could hug them with her arms. She did not say a word though, just stared at him with huge, searching eyes. 

 

Severus sighed internally. “ All that happened was us falling victim to those blasted dreams, Hermione, nothing more. So there is really no reason to feel awkward or ashamed now. Nothing happened.” 

 

Finally he saw her nod, a weak smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. It was a start, Severus thought, and was proud with himself for having dealt with that awkward situation so maturely. Everything would be alright, once they had gotten past the initial awkwardness of the situation. 

 

“Alright, sorry,” his friend mumbled, while staring at her knees. “I really don’t want to make this any more awkward than it already is. It is just… it is difficult with those dreams feeling so…”   

 

She did not finish the sentence, but she did not have to. “They are not, though. Unfortunately I have found no way to influence them, but there might be a way if we start working on it from both ends. It might take a while, but if we are successful we could use those shared dreams for discussing our projects or improving your casting technique. I imagine once we’ve got the hang of it, those dreams could be much more enjoyable, for both of us.”

 

Slowly Hermione raised her head, her eyes seeking him out a moment later. “Do you think we could do that? Influence those dreams?” she asked without using their mental connection. But her voice was barely more than a whisper. 

 

“With a bit of practise. Have you heard about the theories dealing with lucid dreaming?” he found himself asking and when Hermione shook her head, he started sharing his knowledge in extensive detail. Soon he could see her relax, her eyes taking on a glassy look as she contemplated the information she got from him. Severus decided that he would read more on the topic so that they could finally get rid of those dreams. He was pretty sure they could do it, with him being an expert on mental discipline and Hermione being her curious, studious self. Yes, getting rid of those passionate dreams was the only sensible thing to do. With them gone they would finally be able to concentrate on what was really between them, without being distracted by some unrealistic fantasies. 



Ssssssss



Hermione forced herself to stay outwardly calm while Severus explained to her what she would have to do whenever she went to sleep. The mental exercises reminded her of the things she had read about Occlumency, if only vaguely. This was less about emptying one's mind but more about becoming aware of the dream being just that - a dream. Once they could recognize that they were just having a dream, they would be able to influence it, Severus explained, and Hermione found herself nodding at his words, even though her innards started to feel more and more numb. Severus did not want her as anything more than a friend - a discussion partner - not even in his dreams. Therefore he looked for a way out, assuming that she felt the same, except she didn’t . Ever since last night she had been wanting to kiss him again, even if it was only in her dreams. But now even those fantasies would come to an end - sooner or later. Because she had to try implementing his theories, even if it was just for his sake. 

Severus explained that once they had learned to influence those dreams, their nights would get much more enjoyable. So he had not enjoyed those dreams, not enjoyed the kisses they had shared. Dammit. Ron had been right. She really was no good at kissing, or any of that other stuff, not even in her dreams. Gods, she really was an idiot. But maybe it was like she had told Harry that morning. Some things could not be learned from books, but by practicing them. But the thought of kissing anyone other than Severus made her stomach roil in protest. No, there was no other man she wanted, at least not now. It was Severus or nobody for her - a realization that made her situation look even sadder - because Severus had been pretty obvious that he had no romantic interest in her whatsoever.  

 

   




 

 

  

Chapter Text

Hermione spent the next days buried in her books, barely speaking, and no one, not even Severus or Harry, questioned her about it. There was not much she really had to do for school right now, but every minute she spent studying was one minute she did not spend thinking about Severus or the fact that he did not like her the way she liked him. 

Whenever he visited her in her dorm now, he shared new insights on lucid dreaming. It was the thing he seemed to spend most of his free time researching, usually returning to the Room of Requirement after only thirty minutes of visiting her. He was always kind, always seemed relaxed in her presence, but he never stayed long and Hermione got the impression that there was now an invisible wall separating them, keeping them apart. And she hated it. But at the same time, she felt ungrateful for thinking so. Having Severus as a friend was so much more than she could have ever hoped for. His intellect was stimulating and challenging her in a way that Ron and Harry never could. Severus understood her in a way that nobody else ever had and she was grateful, but she could not help but yearn for more. 

Gosh, it wasn't so long ago that she had sworn not to ruin their friendship by doing something stupid, like kissing him, and even though she had , Severus had been forgiving and not made a fuss about it, even though he was her Professor and she had probably endangered his job by doing so. Merlin, why was she so unhappy about the situation? Because she had no right to be. 

Most of their time was spent with Severus talking about the new knowledge he had acquired and even though they had not made any progress in the area of lucid dreaming so far, they had not shared another dream either. And Hermione did not know if she was relieved or disappointed about it. 

 

Then, almost two weeks later, her evening routine was suddenly interrupted by a squeaky voice: “Headmaster Dumbledore asks Miss Granger to join him in his office, please,” a young, so far to her unknown house-elf said. He must have appeared on her bed, while she had been absorbed by her book on privacy wards. “He has left Sparkly a scroll for young Miss and said that he would be happy to see her for tea tomorrow.”

 

“Alright, thank you Sparkly,” Hermione mumbled, a thankful smile on her lips. And before she could say anything more, the little servant bowed and disapparated again. Hermione stared at the spot where he had just disappeared for a while longer, before she unrolled the scroll containing a polite but vague invitation as well as the password to the Headmaster’s office. She wondered what Professor Dumbledore wanted from her but she guessed she would find out – tomorrow afternoon.

 

 Ssssssss

  

“Ah, Miss Granger! Do come in!” Albus invited the girl standing hesitantly in his office door. Ever since she had saved Severus with white magic, he had not spoken to her, as he wanted to give things time to settle down a bit. Apart from that Miss Granger and Severus seemed to be doing well enough on their own, for now.

Miss Granger slowly sat down on the chair he had prepared for her. He had decided to offer her the big, cushioned one as he wanted her to feel comfortable and welcomed for this conversation. “Thank you for accepting my invitation. How are you, my dear? You look a bit tired...”

 

The girl smiled weakly. “I am well enough, thank you, Sir. May I ask why you invited me here?“ 

“Ah, you want to get right to the point, I see,” he said, watching her in amusement. The girl had changed since their first interaction this summer. She behaved less awe-struck in his presence and instead stared at him with a careful, calculating expression, one he had seen so often on Severus. The man had changed her, and Albus did not only mean that Miss Granger held herself much more confidently and maturely now. “Some weeks ago I talked about the possibility of you joining the Order, my dear. Now that your birthday has passed, I wanted to inquire if you have given this possibility some thought.” 

“I have,” she replied, while her eyes remained fixed on his midnight-blue coloured robe. “But I have not reached a conclusion yet. I think it would depend on what you wanted me to do, Sir. Is there anything you would want my help with?”

 

“Not at this moment, my dear. But you see, you joining the Order would make it possible for me to give you special training. For example, I think it will be necessary for you to learn Occlumency. You are aware of the unfortunate mental connection Harry has to Voldemort, are you not?”

 

“I know that they seem to be mentally connected in some way,” the girl admitted carefully. “Which is why I am unable to tell Harry certain things. I thought this was why he had to learn Occlumency – to protect his mind. Why do I need to learn it, too? I was not aware that the other members of the Order were schooled in it.”

 

Albus smiled. Of course, the clever girl had quickly found the weak point of his argument. “Most of them are not, Miss Granger. But most of them are also not friends with Harry or have access to Kindred Magic. We do not know if Lord Voldemort could use his connection to your friend to control him, or invade your thoughts, but I think it possible. Therefore I find it strongly advisable for you to learn to protect your secrets and if things go well, you could also help Harry to improve his Occlumency skills as well. What do you say?”

 

Miss Granger furrowed her brows as she contemplated his words. He had not expected her to be this hesitant, as he had gotten the impression that the girl eagerly sought out any form of knowledge. Maybe she would agree if he sweetened up the deal for her? “You would not have to be instructed by me, if that is in any way uncomfortable for you. I am sure Professor Snape could be persuaded to assist you, if that would be preferable for you.”

 

“No!” the girl interjected, her eyes suddenly looking almost panicked. “He can’t...” she caught herself and Albus could see her taking a deep breath, her composure returning almost immediately. “Is there no one else that could teach me?”

 

He stared at her contemplatively. That wasn’t the reaction he had expected to this suggestion at all. What had his idiot of a DADA professor done now? He sighed. “There are only very few people able to do Occlumency, Miss Granger. At Hogwarts the only other person is me. I would be willing to teach you once a week, if that is what you prefer.”

 

The girl stared at him silently for a long while, her eyes dancing from left to right, as if she was skipping through the pages of an invisible book. “What about people outside Hogwarts? Maybe Tonks would be willing to assist me or... I don’t know...”

 

“Occlumency is unfortunately not part of the standard Auror training program. But I could request Alastor Moody, if you would prefer being taught by him,” Albus suggested, irritated by the girl’s resistance. But it was not long until she shook her curly head in declination of his offer.

 

“No, I was hoping for a female instructor,” she admitted, her cheeks growing pink. “But if there is none available...” The girl started chewing on her bottom lip. “And you think I really should try to learn it, Sir? You think that my secrets would otherwise be in danger of being discovered?”

 

He nodded without hesitation. “I do. It is not only because of your friendship with Harry. But one day your connection to Professor Snape might be discovered and that could make you a target, too. I do not mean to frighten you, but I want you to be prepared for the worst case. I do not know what Tom would do or would not do if he discovered that you are able to perform white magic...”

 

The girl swallowed nervously. “I will learn it, then. That is if you would be willing to teach me, Sir.”

 

He nodded, a reassuring twinkle in his eyes. “Most definitely. I was told you are a very enthusiastic student, Miss Granger. Maybe we will not need more than a few lessons and I assure you, that I will be very discreet  with whatever I discover from your mind. I could also offer you my pensieve, to protect your most sensitive  memories.”

 

Miss Granger nodded, now seeming very much reassured. Good. Persuading her had been harder than he thought. He would have to be careful not to lose that hard-gained trust from her. No, he would nourish it by tutoring her and giving her as much knowledge as she desired. Given the circumstances, he wanted Hermione Granger firmly on his side of the war, and Severus and Harry with her.

 

 

Sssssssss

  

“Alright, Hermione, I will be going now,” Severus said, already moving his Animagus form towards the edge of Hermione’s mattress.

 

From the corner of his eyes, he saw her nod. “ Alright. Good night, then. I don’t think we will be able to see each other tomorrow, though. I do have classes with the Headmaster after dinner.

 

Severus stilled in his movements, his mind going blank. “ What kind of classes?”

 

Hermione shrugged, a guilty smile forming on her lips. “ Occlumency. He said I would need to learn, with Harry’s mental connection to You-Know-Who and us being... linked.

 

I see ,” Severus replied, but he could feel his innards turn to lava or ice – he wasn’t sure which one it was. “ I could have taught you, I still could. You don’t have to endure Dumbledore snooping through your mind.

 

But his friend just shrugged. “ It is fine, Severus. The Headmaster offered me his Pensieve, to protect my secrets. He has been very kind.”

 

I am sure he was, ” he bit out, before turning to leave. Old meddling goat! What was Albus playing at now? Severus could see this move clearly for what it was, his last discussion with the manipulative bastard still fresh in his mind. He had told Albus that before Hermione could learn about Harry’s condition, she would have to learn Occlumency. And it seemed like his friend had agreed to do just that. Fuck. 

It looked like his research in the Room of Requirement would have to wait a bit longer, because it looked like a visit to the Headmaster was in order. If he found out the man was trying to manipulate Hermione in some way, he would choke him. Hermione was his and he would not allow her to become the old man’s chess piece. “ Good night, then ,” he said, his voice sounding colder than he had anticipated. 

Hermione did not comment on it though. She only wished him good night, her eyes glistening with emotions he could not decipher.

 

 

Ssssssss

 

“What do you think you’re doing, old man?” Severus sneered, while waltzing into the Headmaster’s office. Albus was sitting at his desk tinkering with one of his hundreds of inventions, that were scattered on almost every surface now. How could the man endure all this ticking and whirring all day without going mad? 

“Ah, Severus,” the man said, his eyes twinkling knowingly. “I have been expecting you. Sit down, sit down.”

Severus huffed and sat down in front of the man’s desk, his black eyes staring at him calculatively. “Miss Granger said you will be teaching her Occlumency.”

“I will,” Albus said, an almost amused smile playing on his lips. “We both established the girl would have to learn, before she can learn more. But I also explained to her, that she will want to protect you, in case your connection ever becomes common knowledge. I am sure you are aware that it is only a matter of time before people will notice. This castle is full of very observant people and bored portraits.” Albus smiled, and Severus needed all his self-control not to sneer at him. That old fool really needed to learn to mind his own fucking business. 

“Doesn’t mean you need to be the one teaching her. She’s mine , Albus. I should be the one allowed to do it,” he said, staring at the man with a hard expression. But at that Albus’ eyes only seemed even more amused.

“Actually I did suggest that you could be the one teaching her. I assumed she would jump at the possibility of being tutored by you. Interestingly she was most adamant that you should not be the one teaching her. Therefore I offered myself as an alternative and she accepted, if very reluctantly,” Albus explained with a twinkle in his eyes. 

Severus stared at the man with a dumbfounded expression. “I don’t understand…” he said, while his mind already began to mull over the possible reasons why Hermione had rejected him as an instructor. 

Albus smiled knowingly. “I imagine there is something she does not want you to find out, Severus. Has there been a recent misunderstanding between you? Has something happened?”

Severus found Albus’ blue eyes studying him with an intensity that was almost uncomfortable. “Yes. No. Maybe,” he said, their shared dream and its consequences instantly coming to his mind. Fuck. He had not thought she still had problems with that little encounter. He needed to talk to her, as soon as the chance arose. Until then he needed to work harder on his skills for lucid dreaming. Hopefully, Hermione would feel more comfortable in his presence again, as soon as she did not have to fear sharing another awkward dream with him again. 

 

Sssssssss

 

Hermione was terribly nervous when she approached the Headmaster’s office the following evening after dinner. Even though Professor Dumbledore had assured her that she would be allowed to use his Pensieve, she felt nervous about having him in her head, especially after the things Harry had told her about his own Occlumency lessons with Severus. True, Severus had never been one for coddling his students, but who said that it would not be the same with the Headmaster? She did not know his teaching methods, his motives, or, well… him. Was he really as cold-hearted and calculating as Severus described him? It was possible, which made her dread this lesson even more. But it did not matter; having Professor Dumbledore in her mind was still better than having Severus discover her feelings for him - her ungratefulness . She did not want to ruin what they had and if she could only do that by keeping her attraction to him a secret, then so be it. 

“Ah, Miss Granger. Do come in,” Albus Dumbledore invited her as soon as she had reached the end of the staircase leading into his office. “You are precisely on time, as always.”

Hermione stepped into the room, noting that it was strangely devoid of all the strange objects that were usually scattered on several surfaces. Today they were all packed away, so that the room was strangely silent. “Thank you, Sir,” she said, sitting down on the comfortable chair in front of the man’s desk. “I must admit that I am a bit nervous about today, Sir. It is just that the prospect of having somebody else in my head is a bit…”

“Frightening? I can imagine,” the old man said with a kind smile. “But I can reassure you, my dear; I will not enter your mind today. First, we will make sure you have all the knowledge you need. I am sure you have already informed yourself of what will be required of you to do.”

Hermione nodded, a shy smile on her lips. “I have indeed. The theory is very fascinating, Sir, and I did try to implement it in the past. But don’t think I was very successful.”

“I am sure your talent for self-organization will have you pick up the necessary techniques in no time. We will use today’s lesson to broaden your knowledge and afterwards I will tell you about possible ways to hide your secrets and thoughts,” the Headmaster said, pushing up the half-moon-glasses on his crooked nose. “So tell me, Miss Granger. What do you think is the most important thing when one wants to occlude one's mind?” 

Hermione thought for a long moment, several possible answers rushing through her mind. But finally, she said: “I think it is self-control, Sir.” And when she saw the Headmaster’s encouraging smile on his lips, she started to explain why that was.



 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ever since the new school year potions had become one of her favourite classes at Hogwarts. Yes, Professor Slughorn’s teaching methods were very different from Severus’ and even though Severus was her friend, she had to admit that it was a good thing. While she herself didn’t mind her friend’s snarkiness, the insults he bestowed on her friends could be a bit much, and more than once she had felt terribly sorry for poor Neville, who could have done much better in potions if he hadn’t been terrified of Professor Snape . Even though Hermione had learned a lot from Severus, his classes had never been very enjoyable, even if they had been very educational. 

 

“Today we will be brewing a batch of Energy Replenisher,” Professor Slughorn said while looking at them with kind, watery eyes. “I imagine I don’t have to explain to you what it is used for, because in my times the potion was fairly popular during exam times, even though our nurse was pretty hesitant to hand it out. I imagine it is the same these days.”

 

There were agreeing murmurs throughout the classroom, but Hermione stared at the older man with furrowed brows. The only person that ever offered the potion to her was Severus, but maybe that was because she had never dared to ask Madam Pomfrey for something to make up for her lack of sleep. But could she have? Probably, even though that somehow would have felt like cheating. 

“This is why you should be especially careful with your potion today. Because all of you who have acceptable results will be allowed to keep their potions. How does that sound?”

 

The class broke out in agitated murmurs and Hermione, too, found herself excited at the idea. The one time she had taken an Energy Replenisher had felt brilliant. All traces of tiredness had been totally blown away. And by her calculations, the amount they would make in class would be enough for at least 4 phials. Brilliant!

 

She immediately set herself to work, carefully slicing and mincing the ingredients as described in the recipe. She knew it by heart, of course, as well as the changes Severus had made to it in his days as a student. This shouldn't be too difficult.

 

“Hey Malfoy, be careful!” Harry suddenly shouted next to her, staring at the pale blonde boy with a thunderous expression on his face. When Hermione turned towards them she could see that all her ingredients were strewn all over the floor, while Malfoy was looking at her with an almost guilty expression. 

 

“Next time better put your stuff in the middle of the table, Granger. Things could fall down to the floor when someone is walking past your table otherwise,” he said with a sneer, before turning around and walking away with his chin held high. 

 

“Arsehole,” Harry cursed, hastily kneeling down to help her pick up her stuff. He could see Professor Slughorn hurrying to help them. Hermione hastily bent down and collected the Asphodel Root, while Harry whispered towards her:  “Gods, I hate that guy. I bet he did that on purpose. Your stuff is never close to the corner of the table. You’re way too careful with your equipment for that.”

 

Hermione nodded, angrily chewing on her bottom lip. She could only hope that her ingredients were still all right and had not gotten contaminated while lying around on the floor. “I know,” she mumbled and nodded towards Harry, to thank him for his assistance. 

 

“Everything all right here, Miss Granger?” Professor Slughorn asked, looking down at her and Harry with a worried expression. “Ah, I see young Mister Potter has already been a gentleman and assisted you. Very good, very good. Now get to work, you two. If you want to brew that potion successfully, you are on a tight schedule.”

 

Hermione nodded. Professor Slughorn was right. They had better get to work immediately. Because she would not let Malfoy get in the way of her good grades and those potions she could earn for herself. 



Ssssssss

 

Severus was just in the middle of teaching a class of second years when he felt his bond flare up in alarm and pain. There was a burning pain all over his left side accompanied by the feeling of panic hitting him like a bludger and it took all his self-control to not stumble backwards or show the panic that had just gripped his heart. Hermione! Something was wrong, terribly wrong. 

“Stop,” he told the students that had just gotten their instructions and were about to start practising the jinxes he had shown them. But that would have to wait. Hermione needed him, now . “You’re dismissed,” he barked, already hurrying towards the door. “Get to your Common Rooms. No homework today.” That was all he could grit out, before he was out of the room, hurrying towards the hospital wing with quick steps. He did not even have to ask where Hermione was, as the bond clearly guided him and urged him to hurry. Fuck.

 

When he reached the room, Poppy was already buzzing through the room, while Slughorn stood in the door, wringing his hands in agitation.

“What happened?” Severus bellowed, brushing past the useless idiot, hurrying towards Hermione’s bed. 

 

“Severus! Thank god you’re here!” the medi-witch shouted, her eyes wide with worry. “Potions accident. Mr Potter’s cauldron blew up,” she explained, motioning towards Potter, who writhed on the bed in obvious agony. His body was covered in green goo that seemed to attack his skin like some kind of aggressive acid and a glance at Hermione showed that the same had happened to the left side of her body and face. Fuck!

 

“What potion?” he bellowed, already taking out his wand and starting to cast cleaning charms, removing the potion from Hermione’s face and body layer by layer after giving her one of his personal pain potions, which he always carried with him. From the corner of his eye, he could see that Poppy had started treating Potter the same way, while Slughorn, the useless idiot, seemed frozen in the doorway. 

 

“We’ve just been brewing Energy Replenishers,” he said, a confused expression on his face. “It’s a harmless potion, Severus. It’s almost impossible for somebody to ruin it enough to cause such a reaction…” he tried, but Severus had already stopped listening to the imbecile. 

He just nodded, before focussing all his attention on Hermione, who was staring at him with one wide, terrified eye. Her other one was closed, the eyelid swollen and covered in thick, red blisters, that seemed to boil on her skin. Gods, he had seen a lot of potions accidents in his career as a Potions Professor, and even though a number of them had been worse than this one, seeing Hermione like that ripped his carefully built up walls apart. Fuck! Slughorn, the worthless idiot, should have vanished the potion right away, instead of bringing them here. Gods, once he had sorted out that mess he would kill the idiot for not paying better attention in his own potions class. Potter would be next, he swore, that useless, scatterbrained moron . Hadn’t the boy learned anything in the years he attended potions classes with him? 

 

After a while he could see Slughorn leaving, probably to sort out the mess he must have left in his classroom. Severus did not mind to see the useless idiot go.

“We will have to get them out of their clothes and wrap their skin in bandages coated in Regenerative Skin Tonic,” Poppy urged, before rushing to his side. “I will treat Miss Granger, while you’re taking care of Mister Potter. I will get the screens up, to protect the girl’s modesty.”

 

Severus wanted to growl at the old witch, to tell her to piss off and leave him and his mate alone. But he had no right to because the Medi-Witch was right. Hermione was a young, unattached female, his student. It would be highly inappropriate to undress her, even if only to treat her, but leaving her to the nurse while taking care of Potter felt wrong. Still, he had to do it - no matter if he liked it or not. But he would be back at her side, as soon as the situation allowed it and then nobody would make him leave her, not even Poppy or Voldemort himself.

 

He treated Potter with cool professionalism, undressing him and taking care of his wounds with careful precision, after having given the boy something against the pain. Potter swallowed the potion greedily, his green eyes fixed on his face with an unreadable expression. Once it would have unsettled him to see Lily’s eyes staring up at him like that, but now he realized that his former best friend no longer had any power over him. Yes, Harry was Lily’s son, but that no longer held any significance for him. Still, the boy was Hermione’s friend, which made Severus still do his best to help him. He was confident that the damaged skin and the muscle below would heal and that there would be no scars left. Hermione and Potter had indeed been lucky that he had felt Hermione’s need for his assistance through the bond. If Poppy had been forced to treat both of them at the same time, things would have ended much differently - for both of them.



Sssssssss

 

 

Hermione did not know when exactly the day turned out to be a total nightmare. She had not been aware that something was wrong until the moment Harry’s cauldron exploded, throwing the boy against her right side so that only her left side was sprayed by whatever Harry had been brewing there. The green slime burned on her skin like fire or acid, but instead of screaming like Harry and most of the other students did, she did the only sensible thing that came to her mind: she called for Severus. From there on she seemed to view the chaos playing out around her, like her mind was in some way detached from her body. Some girls were screaming, or crying, while Harry thrashed and moaned in front of her on the floor.

“The hospital wing! We need to get them to the hospital wing!” somebody, probably Professor Slughorn, shouted and it was only a few moments, until they were levitated out of the room by their Professor, leaving the chaos of the classroom behind.

 

It was only minutes until her friend was by her side, helping her, the steady look in his eyes assuring her that he would take care of things. She trusted him, with her life and her beauty, or whatever would be left from it after that horrible accident. Were wizards able to regrow skin without leaving scars? Or would Harry’s mishap leave her disfigured and even less desirable than she had already been before? She did not know and the only things that kept her panic at bay were Severus’ eyes and the feelings of reassurance seeping through the bond.

That was, until Severus was suddenly gone, his calm presence exchanged for Madam Pomfrey who started to undress her, pity shining in her eyes. Hermione wanted to protest, to demand for Severus to return to her side, but as she had followed his and the medi-witch’s conversation she knew that this would not be possible. Severus would not be allowed to treat her any further, as propriety seemed to forbid such a thing. Gods, she had never hated propriety as much as right now. She did not care if Severus saw her exposed or if he touched her skin. She trusted him more than she trusted anybody else in this world. He was her friend and he had made it more than clear that he had no interest in touching her in an inappropriate way. But that, she could not say, because apart from the fact that her mouth did not seem able to form coherent words at the moment, nobody would have listened to her anyway.

 

It seemed to take ages for Madam Pomfrey to finish her treatment, but finally Hermione’s body was wrapped in clean, horrible smelling bandages that probably made her look like a mummy. Even one of her eyes was covered, leaving her totally helpless and unable to see much. Only her right eye, arm, and leg and her mouth and nose were uncovered and she could imagine that Harry must look even worse. But there was no chance for her to check, as the white privacy screens were pulled close, leaving her totally isolated as Madam Pomfrey finally left her side.

She could not say how long it was that she stared at the ceiling, her mind buzzing with panic, helplessness and confusion of what had happened. Then, suddenly Severus was back and Hermione could see him sit down on a chair to her right, the familiar buzz from the privacy wards signalling that he had put them into place. His dark eyes stared down at her with an intensity that took her breath away and a moment later she could feel him taking her hand, holding it gently but firmly with both of his palms.

“You will be all right, Hermione, I promise,” he said, his deep voice sounding firm and reassuring. “Whatever absurdity Potter created in his cauldron – it did not have time to do irreparable damage to either of you. Still, healing will take time, especially for him, as he does not have a Kindred Spirit able to assist with that.”

Severus gently squeezed her hand and just then she became aware of the magical energy flowing into her, buzzing warm and reassuringly through her veins.

Hermione nodded, a gentle, thankful smile forming on her lips.

“Thank you,” she croaked out, a lonely tear running down her cheek. Her voice sounded somewhat strange and slurred, probably because the pain potion he had given her had started to relax her facial muscles, making it hard for her to speak. “I’m so glad you came. I wish you could stay.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere, Hermione,” he promised, a gentle smile on his lips. “No one will take me away from your side, as long as you want me here.”

 

“I always want you here,” she admitted seriously, her uncovered eye staring unblinkingly at him. There was so much more she wanted to say, which she could not, but she hoped he still somehow understood.

 

For a moment he did not say anything, just stared at her like he was trying to decipher the meaning of her words. Finally he blinked, shook his head and said: "You should try to rest for a bit, sleep if you can. I cannot give you another potion for a while, but my magic and your own should be enough for now.”

“ ‘m not tired,” Hermione mumbled and it was true. Her body was still full of adrenaline, even though the danger had long passed for her. But her fingers were still trembling in Severus’ hands and her heart was beating wildly in her chest. “I can’t stop thinking about what happened, Severus,” she slurred, her one eye seeking him out. “What if this wasn’t Harry messing up his brewing? Draco Malfoy had been at my table and somehow my things were suddenly on the floor. Harry helped me to pick them up. I know it doesn’t have to mean anything, but…”

Some months ago she wouldn’t have dared to accuse Malfoy of something, especially not to Severus Snape, who was his godfather. Now everything was different, though, and Hermione trusted him to at least listen to her. And he did. 

“You think Draco could have done something to Potter’s cauldron? Did you see him doing something?” he asked, his eyes staring at her contemplatively. 

“I don’t know, not really. It is just a feeling I’m having. Someone wanted to kill Harry just a few weeks ago. What if this was his or her second attempt?” she asked, her voice quivering slightly. “I really don’t want to make any false accusations, especially as I have no proof, but I just can’t stop thinking about it…”

Severus nodded slowly. “I see. Unfortunately there is not much we can do now, as the classroom has surely been cleaned up by now. Do you think Mr Potter would agree to me watching his memory of this last lesson? Maybe I would notice something he has not…”

Hermione looked at him anxiously. It was an idea and maybe their only chance to check if Harry’s potion had been tampered with. 

“I don’t know,” Hermione murmured. “But you could ask him. If he refuses I could at least show you mine…” she suggested, even though her heart was starting to beat even faster at the thought of Severus accessing her mind and accidentally discovering what she desperately tried to hide. 

Severus nodded, his eyes studying her intensely. “I will ask him right now, if you wish.”

Hermione nodded. “Yes, please.” 

She really wanted Severus to look into this, even if this meant she would have to let go of his hands. But if someone really had tried to assassinate Harry for a second time, they had to find him rather sooner than later.



Ssssssss

 

When Albus entered the Hospital Wing after having received Severus’ Patronus, he found the man sitting next to Miss Granger’s bed, their fingers entwined. The girl and Harry were in a horrible state, their bodies covered in white bandages from head to toe. But as Severus was not raging or seeming in any other way agitated, he concluded that at least Miss Granger would be fine after Mr Potter’s little mishap. 

He could see Poppy busying herself in another corner of the room, while her eyes trailed back to Severus and Miss Granger several times while he slowly walked through the room. It was obvious that she was questioning Severus’ motives or the history behind the man’s unexpected show of affection and Albus decided that it was necessary to speak to her rather sooner than later. Even though she was already partly aware of this extraordinary bond, she did not seem to have fully understood what it meant for Miss Granger and her Professor. He would have to spell it out for her and demand her silence before transfering the girl into the private ward afterwards. Because the last thing they needed now was those two shying away from each other, because they could not deal with the backlash that would surely follow to such a revelation.

Harry too seemed awake, his eyes fixed at the ceiling. But Albus could read from his face, that something was wrong. It did not take long for Severus to tell him what exactly it was. 

“Someone has tampered with the boy's potions book,” Severus explained, his face grave. “Mr Potter kindly agreed to let me view his memories of the event and as I watched him brewing, the instructions for the potions were clearly wrong. The potion was meant to explode, Albus. The recipe was designed that way.” 

Albus cursed internally. “So it seems that whoever is attempting to kill Harry is in the castle or maybe even in his potions class,” he concluded, but at that Severus shook his head.

“Not necessarily. The book could have been manipulated in the boy’s common room or even during mealtimes. I did not find any direct evidence that the recipe was rewritten during Mr Potter’s class. But there are two things we can say for sure, Headmaster. The assassin is inside the castle, and he has not given up after his first failed attempt to kill the boy.”

Albus nodded, his stomach growing heavy with worry. This development was indeed worrisome, especially as this recent murder attempt had not only almost cost Harry’s life, but Miss Granger’s too. If either or both of them had died, it would have been a heavy blow for their side.

They needed to do something, but once more Tom seemed to have positioned his pawns very carefully. Therefore planning his next move would be most difficult, as Albus could still not see all the moves that had already been made. And that was a thing he did not like at all. 

 

Sssssss

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry and Hermione were transferred to private rooms within the Hospital Wing shortly after Albus left and instructions to move their things to private quarters within the castle were left with the house-elves. Severus was impressed. The Headmaster seemed to have finally understood what a dangerous situation they were all in. All it took was for The-Boy-Who-Lived having almost died under their watch, twice, within the month. It was a disaster, especially with them still being totally clueless of who the assassin was. 

 

Draco was indeed the only suspect they had, for now, and even though Severus still doubted that Lucius’ spoilt brat had the guts to attempt murder twice, he decided to investigate the boy - thoroughly. But only after Hermione had recovered, because as long as she was still healing he would stay at her side, so that his magic would help her heal. 

Luckily Albus was fully supporting him in that endeavour, having granted him access to the girl’s hospital room day and night as long as Hermione agreed to let him stay - which she clearly communicated to the Headmaster and the worried medi-witch. 

 

This time Albus was not sugarcoating anything, and he told Severus that there would be an announcement in the Great Hall explaining that Harry’s accident had not been an accident at all and that Potter, as well as Hermione, would no longer live in Gryffindor tower for the time being. Strictly speaking, transferring Hermione would not have been necessary. But doing so would make his daily visits much easier and minimise the risk of being detected, for now. 

 

And so it was early afternoon when Severus found himself alone with Hermione in her sickroom, the girl carefully positioned on a large four-poster bed in neutral colours, while he was sitting on the chair next to it, holding her hand. Not that Hermione was awake any longer. She had fallen asleep only minutes after they were finally alone, far away from any danger or prying eyes. Finally! Her body needed the rest to restore the magical energy it used to regenerate those ghastly wounds. Yes, she would be fine in the end, but the healing process would without question tire her out. But he would be there to help her and support her every step along the way.

 

 

Sssssssss

 

 

When Crookshanks entered his mistress’ new, improvised chambers, he could only wrinkle his nose at the strange smell of the room. The air was thick with strange fumes that insulted his nose and almost made his eyes water, but his Missy needed him, as did the raven man sitting next to her bed. Today he wore a grave expression, staring at the girl’s unmoving form with worried eyes. And Crookshanks could easily see why that was.

His mistress’ body was wrapped in those smelly white things, for some reason. Those humans did the strangest things sometimes. The raven man seemed worried, though, and Crookshanks did not like that at all.

 

With slow steps he walked closer, staring at his mistress’ bed for a while before deciding that he did not want to get too close to those white, smelly things. The smell would be almost impossible to get out of his fur. No, the raven-man’s lap seemed a much better place for him right now. With his mistress asleep he was the much more promising option, not only because he smelled much nicer. But with a bit of luck, he could also be persuaded to stroke Crookshanks’ fur. Most humans came to like doing that after only a few moments of enjoying his purrs. It was best if he seemed overly enthusiastic today. Then the raven-man would hopefully stroke him long enough to learn just how Crookshanks liked it best. Those long fingers looked very promising in that aspect, even though one of the man’s hands seemed currently occupied with stroking his mistress’ fingers. But that was all right. Crookshanks could share the raven-man with her. He was a very generous cat, after all.

 

 

Ssssssss

 

 

When Hermione woke up the room around her was already dark, except for the small blue light orb that seemed to float around Severus, who was still sitting by her side. Hermione was not sure if he had moved at all; probably not, as she would most likely have woken up, if he had let go of her hand. But it must have been hours for him and apart from the fact that he had probably needed the loo or something, he didn’t even seem to have a book at hand.

“You’re still here,” she mumbled, her uncovered eye looking at him, full of gratitude.

 

“I told you I would not leave, Hermione. I meant it,” he said in a serious tone.

 

She smiled. “I know you did. But I also know you’ll have to leave at some point, if only to get something to eat or have a quick shower.”

 

He waved her off with an amused smile. “Unimportant. I can eat as soon as you are better, Hermione. Do not worry about such trivialities.”

 

She stared at him in confusion. “Your own needs are no triviality, Severus. Or would you want me to starve myself for your sake? I will be fine on my own for a few minutes, I promise.”

 

Severus stared at her contemplatively before he finally nodded. “Very well. I will be back in half an hour, Hermione, no more. Is there anything you want me to get for you, apart from your cat - who seems to have found his way on his own?”

 

Hermione considered his question for a moment. “Maybe a book or two? I probably won’t be able to read them myself, but maybe you could read to me later, just for a while?”

 

Her friend looked at her with a kind smile. “Of course,” he said, carefully getting up from his chair, Crookshanks leaping from his lap as he did. “I’ll get us a good selection, because it looks like we’ll spend at least one more day within these walls. Seems like the perfect opportunity to study that book on Microscope engineering, your parents sent over last week. Don’t you think?”

 

Hermione looked at him with a happy smile, her injury for a moment forgotten. “Absolutely. I can’t wait to go through it and discuss all that new information with you.”

Severus nodded. “I will bring it, then.” With that, her friend let go of her hand and even though her heart gave a little twitch when she lost his physical contact, Hermione put on an encouraging smile. Within seconds he hurried out of the room, his voluminous black robe billowing behind him. As soon as he was out of the room, she called for a house-elf and asked him to get her Madam Pomfrey. Hermione had some bodily urges of her own and she preferred that the school nurse assisted her with those . She did trust Severus, but there were some things she really did not want him to see.

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus returned to Hermione’s room exactly 29 minutes and 31 seconds later. His basic needs were met and for the rest, he had hastily grabbed some potions from his personal storage, so that he would not have to leave Hermione anytime soon. 

His friend was still awake and propped up into a sitting position, indicating that Poppy had been there to take care of her. 

“You’re back,” she said, a happy smile on her face. “Madam Pomfrey just left. She said the bandages would have to stay on for at least another day.” Hermione sighed defeatedly. “I won’t be able to do much until then.”

“Well, you are supposed to rest. The more you sleep the faster you will heal. And every bit of movement will irritate your regenerating skin. But I am willing to read to you, or quiz you, if that is something that would entertain you,” Severus suggested neutrally. 

Hermione looked at him with a happy little smile, that was half hidden by her bandages. “I’d love that. Could you… would you like to lie down on my bed while you do that? I don’t want you to sit there all night and get a stiff back or something…”

He stared at her with a serious expression, while his heart started to beat excitedly at her suggestion. “Do not worry about my back. I spent hours kneeling in front of that snake-faced bastard, I will survive a night in a cushioned chair.”

He heard her sigh. “I know that. It is just... “ He saw that she tried to chew on her bottom lip, but her bandages seemed to prevent her from doing that. “I am sorry that by kissing you I made things awkward between us. I know you’re trying to keep your distance because of that, I get it. I swear I won’t do it again. But could you just lie down next to me, so that I could lean into your shoulder? That way I could peek into the book, and in case I have a nightmare…” she sighed heavily, her one visible eye staring at him, pleading. 

Severus knew he really should not do it. It would make keeping his distance from her even harder afterwards. “What if we share another dream, Hermione? I would hate to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“You’re not. I know that you would never… act inappropriately. And if you are worried about me… well, I would not even be able to move closer, as long as I am wrapped up like a mummy.”

He stared at her contemplatively, his heart battling his mind until his heart finally won and he gave in. “Very well. I am going to lie down next to you. I did not mean to make you feel like I am keeping my distance from you. It was unintended.”

Hermione nodded, a little smile on her face. “Thank you. You will have to levitate me a bit though. Right now I feel like there would not be enough space for you.”

He looked at her with an amused snort, before pulling out his wand and gently moving her to the left side of the bed. Then he slowly peeled off his dragonhide shoes and walked over to her uninjured side, climbing onto the mattress with measured movements. He carefully positioned himself on his back and summoned the promised book from the nightstand. He had barely opened it on the first page, when he felt her head moving closer, until it carefully rested against his shoulder. Even though it was the most innocent of touches, his heart made an excited dance in his chest, very much like an agitated pixie. 

“Is this alright?” he heard her ask, her voice almost shy. Oh Hermione! She obviously had no idea what she was doing to him.

“Of course,” he replied, his deep voice giving nothing away. Then he forced himself to focus on the book in his hands, instead of the feeling from one of her curls, which was gently brushing against his cheek. Luckily Severus was a very disciplined man and therefore it was not long before his deep, calm voice filled the room, reading about light installment and amplifications. It would have been the perfect evening for him, if his bond mate had not been dangerously wounded a few hours ago, but now that he could feel her steady presence next to him, he could feel his agitated nerves and his heart rate slowly calming down. She was right, there had been a distance between them ever since they had shared that dream. Now he could feel that distance disappear, the bond between them tightening with a pleasant tingle of their magic. And Severus could not help but smile, because to him it felt just perfect. 

 

Ssssssss

 

When Hermione awoke some hours later she could feel that her head was cushioned by Severus' shoulder, her arms having snaked around his upper body while she had been asleep. She was lying on her good side now, her body cradled by his strong arms, while his nose was buried in her hair, breathing calmly and deeply as he slept. 

This feels perfect ,’ Hermione thought. ‘ Waking up in Severus’ arms feels absolutely perfect - peaceful. Like home .’

She wished it could always be like this; him sleeping next to her, instead of the cold loneliness that awaited her morning after morning after morning . It was so much nicer to wake up next to somebody you cared about, somebody you loved… Hermione froze. Where had that thought just come from? Was it possible that she had really fallen in love with her Professor - with Severus? The thought alone was frightening but at the same time it also made sense . Who else could she have ever fallen for if not him? But no, love was such a big wor d. It had such a gravity to it -but more importantly, it would mean that her feelings for Severus would not go away anytime soon. And considering  that he did not love her back, maybe never would, the thought of pining after him, possibly for years, positively terrified her.

No, it could not be, she could not love him, but the more she tried to push the thought away, the more she realized that she did

“You’re awake,” Severus’ voice pulled her out of her thoughts and a moment later she could feel his arms letting go of her, her heart aching in protest at the sudden loss of contact to its other half. “How are you feeling?”

For a moment she thought about saying ‘cosy’, but then she went for: “Much better. My skin feels a bit itchy, but I am not in pain or anything.”

“Excellent,” he said, pulling himself up in a sitting position. “I imagine Poppy will be eager to change those bandages and take a look at the healing progress. I will leave the room for that and look after Potter in the meanwhile, but I will talk to her afterwards.”

Hermione nodded, even though she really did not want him to go. But she had to let him go, no matter how wrong it felt. “Alright. Thank you, Severus,” she mumbled, a thankful smile on her lips. “And thank you for staying with me, for being my... friend.”

The last word suddenly tasted like a lie on her tongue, but she said it anyway, hoping to assure him that everything between them was okay - well, as okay as it could be, given her newly discovered feelings.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It was the first time Severus had witnessed the miracle of Kindred Magic and had a direct comparison of what would have happened to Hermione without his magic working to heal her. Yes, he had experienced its magic working on himself, twice: first when he regrew his own arm and Hermione took away the pain, and the second time when she pulled him back from death's door. But this time he was the one helping her recover and even though hers and Potter’s treatment only varied by the physical contact he and Hermione had shared, Hermione was so much better off than her friend.

Potter’s skin was pretty much gone in the morning, his open flesh still red and angry, and it was obvious that the boy was in pain. Severus did what he could for him by applying a regenerative salve and giving him a strong pain potion. In the end, Harry would be all right, and his skin would still regrow without leaving scars, but it would be a long way for him.

Hermione, on the other hand, greeted him with a big smile when he re-entered her room, all of her bandages gone, exposing a new layer of rosy, unblemished skin. She was clad in a loose nightshirt now that left her arms and feet bare. Poppy had obviously applied a warming charm onto the girl’s bed, as Hermione did not see the necessity to cover herself with her blanket. And involuntarily his eyes were pulled towards her exposed ankles, fixating on the creamy skin like he had not seen anything as fascinating before. Merlin, he needed to get a grip, and soon.

With the willpower of a true Occlumens he forced his eyes back to her face, assessing the healing process underway. She looked much better. Yes, the formerly wounded areas still looked new and tender, but there were worlds between hers and Potter's recovery. And he had been the one making it possible, all without speaking a single spell. Somehow this realization was it, what made the whole thing real for him. Because this should not have been possible, Hermione recovering almost completely in a matter of hours when all he had been doing was holding her. Still it had happened, he had made it happen - something good – and not the usual catastrophes that seemed to follow him throughout his life. Severus had been the one making a difference – really making a difference – and it wasn’t through Albus’ scheming or by serving an evil master.

“Madam Pomfrey said tomorrow I would be able to resume classes,” Hermione said, greeting him with a beaming smile. “How is Harry?”

Severus walked closer, unable to take his eyes from her face. “He will recover,” he said seriously. “But for him, it will take time. I expect the results to be equally... satisfying though.”

Hermione nodded, her face signalling that she had understood why that was. “I see. Do you think I could still visit him though? Just for a bit? I imagine you will resume your teaching duties today.”

He sighed inwardly. He did not want to go back to teaching those brats and leave Hermione in this room, all by herself. Well, not totally. There was still her grumpy-looking, cheeky cat. Still, leaving her felt wrong, it felt like he would have to leave a part of himself behind. But he would have to do it, because how in Merlin’s name should he explain this sudden attachment to her, or anybody else? Or was it possible that this was their bond acting up again, making him feel the way she felt? Was this desire to stay with her even his, was it real ? Well, it was as real as Severus healing her without casting a single spell, he realized with a jolt of panic - which made it pretty real in his eyes. 

Merlin, he was being sucked into this bond deeper and deeper, and he did not know how to get back out. But what if he was not meant to? 

 

Ssssssss

 

“Harry, how are you?” Hermione found herself saying an hour later, sitting at her friend’s bedside, wide-eyed. If Severus had not told her Harry would be all right, she would have surely panicked, seeing him like that. Because it was only now that she realized that she must have looked almost the same some hours ago, and how bad things could have been, for both of them. 

“Singed,” her friend replied with a crooked smile on his lips. “I feel like a skinned rabbit - or maybe a boiled lobster. Decide for yourself which one it is, I think either comparison is quite fitting at the moment.” Hermione looked at him sympathetically  and it was only a moment until his smile disappeared and his look turned serious. “I am glad you’re already feeling better, Hermione. How did Professor Snape patch you up so quickly? It was him, was it not?”

Hermione nodded shyly. “It was him. He did everything for you he could, Harry, and he promised me you’ll be all right, too. For you, it just takes a bit longer.”

Her friend nodded seriously. “I imagine you can not tell me why, until I’ve finally learned Occlumency, right?”

She nodded sadly, but Harry just smiled. 

“Well, it appears I do have a lot of time now, all of a sudden. And confined to this private room there won’t be much distraction here anyway. Before I get bored out of my mind, I might as well put that time to good use, huh?”

Hermione nodded again, this time with a happy smile. “I could teach you, a bit. I don’t know much, but I have read some books…”

Harry snorted. “Of course you have. Alright, teach me. And who knows? With you, I might even finally learn. I definitely want to, because I can feel that there’s a lot you’re not telling me.” He looked at her meaningfully. 

“I… there is.” She sighed. “And I wish I could tell you, at least some of it. Because I feel like I desperately need someone else to talk to.”

Harry smiled understandingly. “Then let’s get into this. I might not be as brilliant as your Professor Snape, but I will not let you down, Hermione. Or at least I’ll do my best not to.” Harry grinned crookedly, half of it hidden by the bandages still wrapped around his head. “So how do I go about this?”

 

Ssssssss



When Hermione entered the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning, whispers could be heard throughout the room. She could see several students turning around to get a better look at her, before concentrating back on their food, with something like disappointment on their faces. Hermione sighed and for a moment she wished to be back in the private ward, or the new private quarters she had been given by the Headmaster. What did they expect to see? The answer came as soon as she sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Ginny. 

“They said you were badly injured,” Ron said to her, his tone dark. “Can’t have been so bad then, when you’re back already, with not even a mark on you.”

For a moment Hermione just stared at her former friend, unsure what she should even say to this. But finally, she replied: “I was lucky to be treated immediately, Ronald. Things could have been much worse.”

Ron looked at her with a disappointed headshake, before turning away without saying another word to her. Instead, she heard him say to Lavender, who was sitting right next to him: “I can’t believe Dumbledore gave them private quarters, just because Harry messed up his potion. But I guess they were always his favourites.”

Hermione wanted to say something, but she was held back by Ginny’s hand on her leg. “Ignore my prick of a brother. It’s just his usual jealousy talking,” she mumbled. “I’m glad you are alright. I was so worried about you - both of you.”

Hermione nodded, casting Ginny a friendly smile. “Thank you, Ginny.”

“Did you see Harry? How is he? Dumbledore hasn’t said much, but from what your classmates told me, it was bad...” the female redhead murmured in a worried tone. 

“Harry will need some more days to recover. But I was told he will be all right,” she assured the girl. “You could ask Madam Pomfrey if you could visit him - maybe not today, but tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see you. He’s pretty isolated right now.”

Ginny looked at her hopefully. “Do you think Madam Pomfrey would let me see him?”

At that, Hermione shrugged. “Just ask her, Ginny. The private ward is just for Harry’s protection after… after what happened. But that doesn’t mean he should be forbidden from seeing his friends, don’t you think?”

Ginny smiled. “Absolutely. You’re right. I’ll ask her right after school. Thank you, Hermione!”

Hermione nodded with a happy smile, before starting to butter her toast. Harry would be so happy when Ginny came to visit. It wasn’t like he was trying to hide the crush he had on the youngest Weasley. And maybe it wasn’t too late, and Ginny still wanted him. Then at least two of them could be with the person they loved. With a rueful smile, she took a bite from her toast, her thoughts returning to the day before. Severus had dutifully visited her after he had finished his lessons, and entertained her by reading to her and discussing some advancements they could make on their microscope, once they had finally implemented the light crystal. But after a while he left, reminding her that he still had work to do, and Hermione let him go, knowing that she would not see him until the next day, when he hopefully came to visit her in her new quarters. There would be no more waking up in his arms or listening to his heartbeat, Hermione thought, and given the fact that she was still his student and Severus did not even seem attracted to her, she would have to learn to accept that. 



Ssssssss

 

Those humans could be frustratingly thick, Crookshanks thought, casually strolling through the corridors of the castle. He had thought that after having slept in the same bed, obviously enjoying each other’s presence, his mistress or the raven-man would have realized that it was finally time to make a move and pounce already . But even though it was obvious that it was what they wanted to do, they skittered away again, acting like they were not interested at all. Idiots! 

The raven-man was the perfect mate for his mistress; his fingers were gentle and patient and scratched his ears just right . He did not have a high or unnerving voice, was not smelly, and he had a collection of most interesting snacks on his shelves. Crookshanks had eyed them all himself, when the raven-man had briefly housed him in his chambers. What else was there to want? The raven-man would be the perfect master for him, this Crookshanks could feel in his whiskers. But obviously his mistress could not see it, or was still undecided. 

Maybe it was time for him to do something about it, time to show his mistress just what she was missing out by letting that human roam the castle unclaimed. What if he instead attached himself to another human instead? No, that could not be tolerated, it would be a total waste of opportunity. Which meant Crookshanks needed to do something to prevent such a totally unacceptable outcome. Luckily his mistress usually followed his advice, and he already had a pretty clear idea of how to advertise the raven-man to her as a worthy mate. 

 

ssssssss

 

‘What a shitty day’, Hermione thought while strolling back into her new private quarters, which were located in another part of the Gryffindor Tower. She had really looked forward to joining classes again, but all she got from her classmates was dark or jealous looks. Especially her old dorm-mates seemed unhappy or jealous about her moving out of their shared room and a few times she could hear Lavender talking about her behind her back. The most laughable theory she heard was that she and Harry had orchestrated his accident themselves, to get private quarters, so that they would be undisturbed in their lovemaking. The idea was absolutely ridiculous, but somehow it was still worth spreading. Gods, Hermione hated teenagers, herself included, because those ridiculous hormones were really not helping to remain calm and not start crying in front of her classmates. 

With Harry still confined to the hospital wing it felt like back in first year again, when she was friendless and ridiculed by her classmates. Of course it was not true, because she had friends now, except that none of them were at her side during the day. And so she struggled on, alone, while keeping her mind focussed on the fact that she would see Severus in the evening. 

She would have been fine , even though her heart ached most of the day and her chest tightened, making it hard for her to breathe, as her desire to be reunited with her mate grew. But Hermione knew they would see each other in the evening and that this would have to be enough. 

With a sigh she put her bag down on the floor and walked to her bed, attempting to throw herself onto the soft covers and close her tired eyes for a bit. Only when she came closer she saw that there was already something on it. Right on her pillow there was a huge giant's toe, while her blanket was holding several eyeballs and something that looked like the brain of a rat. It had already left wet spots on her blanket. 

What a gruesome sight! And even though Hermione objectively knew that those were only potion ingredients, someone would still have needed to put them there. And the wards on her new rooms should have prevented just that. Currently Severus was the only one she had given the permission to, to enter her chambers, and he, for sure, would not have done such a thing to her. 

Bugger. Somebody had been to her supposedly secure chambers. And he had left a gruesome message for her. 

“Grumpy,” Hermione called for one of the house-elves, her voice toneless. It was only a moment until the black-haired, batty-eared servant appeared in front of her, looking at her expectantly.

“How can Grumpy be of service to Miss Hermione?” 

Hermione sighed. “Could you please go and get Professor Snape for me? And possibly Professor Dumbledore, too?” 

The elf nodded dutifully. “Of course, Miss. Grumpy will go and get them right away,” the older male elf squeaked, before apparating away. Hermione stared at the place where the little servant had just disappeared and waited. It would be better if she did not touch anything in the room until her Professors were here. Because who knew what else the intruder had left for her?

It was only a few moments until her door opened and Severus strode into the room, his face alarmed when he sought her out. 

“What happened?” he asked, just as the Headmaster appeared right in front of her out of thin air, and only a moment later she remembered that Albus Dumbledore’s position allowed him to apparate inside the castle.

“Somebody has been to my room,” she explained, motioning to her tastelessly decorated bed. “I think they left a message or something.”

The men turned towards her bed and while the Headmaster’s expression remained calm, Severus’ expression became dark. “No one should have been able to enter these rooms,” he said, his eyes seeking out the Headmaster. “Miss Granger has to grant permission to someone seeking to enter these rooms personally, as you very well know. Apart from the both of us and Miss Granger, no one should have even been able to enter.”

Professor Dumbledore nodded. “This is indeed quite worrisome.”

“We need to look into this, check the wards,” Severus said, before his eyes sought her out. “Have you touched anything?”

Hermione shook her head. “No. I only dropped my bag onto the floor, that is all.”

“Good. Leave everything here. You’ll be staying in my quarters until we find out who did this to you. And we will find out, I promise.”  Hermione nodded hesitantly and watched Severus turn back towards the Headmaster. 

“Can I trust you to look into this, Albus? Because I am not leaving Hermione all by herself, after yet another incident. Do you have any objections against her staying in my rooms? Next to yours, they are the best warded rooms of the castle…” her friend said calmly.

But Albus Dumbledore looked at Severus with a kind, grandfatherly smile. “Why would I have objections? I think it is a splendid idea. As you said, there is hardly a place where Miss Granger would be better protected.”

For a short moment, Hermione thought she saw a twinkle in the old man’s eyes, but when she looked again, it was gone. “Do you have any objections against staying with Professor Snape, Miss Granger? Just until we have discovered who did this to you.”

Hermione shook her head, a little smile appearing on her lips. “Professor Snape is always very kind. I have no objections against staying with him,” she said as calmly as possible. 

The old man nodded. “Splendid!” he said, clapping his hands together. “Then I suggest you take Miss Granger to your rooms immediately. I will stay behind and assess the wards.”

Severus nodded. “Very well. I suggest we use the house-elves’ services to get us there and remain silent about the incident for now. We would not want to tip off whoever did this. Maybe they’ll try to enter your chambers again if they believe you’re still living here.”

Professor Dumbledore nodded. “A good suggestion, my boy. Do not worry, Miss Granger. We will have caught the culprit in no time.”

 

Ssssssss

 

It was only moments until Hermione and Severus stood in his private chambers, the house-elf that had just apparated them disappearing with a silent pop. Under normal circumstances, Hermione would have been thrilled to be back here, especially as it looked like she would be allowed to stay in Severus’ quarters for a while. But right now happiness was the last emotion she felt, fear and shock being most prominent on her mind at the moment. And so she just stood there, in the middle of Severus’ living room, staring at the fireplace without really seeing it. 

Even though lots of things had happened to her at Hogwarts over the years, the place had always felt safe to her. But after the last few days, she just felt like danger was lurking behind every corner and she wouldn’t even recognize it when staring it in the face. The thought that this intruder would have been able to reach her in her sleep terrified her, especially as he had not decided to do so and instead just left this unsettling message for her. What did he or she even want? 

“Everything will be all right, Hermione,” Severus said from behind her, his tone reassuring and gentle. “Nothing will happen to you inside these chambers, they are safe.”

“How do you know?” she asked tonelessly, not even turning around to face him. “My room was supposed to be safe, too. This schoo l was supposed to be safe but I no longer feel like it is. I’m scared…”

“That is only natural,” her friend replied, his voice now sounding much closer than before. He must be standing directly behind her, even though he did not touch her in any way. “Fear is what makes you pay close attention to your surroundings and by that, keeps you alive. I have been afraid for years, Hermione, and I am not ashamed to admit that. Still, I swear I’ll protect you, from whoever wishes you harm. You’re safe here.”

She nodded, telling herself that he was right, but she could still feel the tears well up behind her eyes. Her bottom lip started to quiver as she tried holding them back, but it was like the waters were rapidly rising behind a dam and she knew it would be only a matter of time until they just flooded over. 

“I think I need to sit down,” she mumbled, her voice already shaking.  She could slowly feel her torso tightening, making it harder and harder for her to breathe, even though Severus’ presence usually helped against this kind of feeling. “I don’t feel very well…”

“Of course,” she heard Severus say from behind her, his hands carefully gripping her arms, guiding her towards his sofa. She went with shaky legs, stumbling the last steps, as she felt the corners of her vision darkening already. She barely made it to the sofa, her legs giving out just as she reached it, so that she fell down on it with an inelegant thud. Severus sat down next to her without hesitation, turning her around so that she was sitting sideways now, her legs propped up in front of her on the seating, her head resting on her knees. She could feel her friend move closer, his arms closing around her from behind. Shortly after, her back was pressed against his lean chest, his arms and legs closing around her body like a shield, giving her the feeling of being held and protected. 

“I’m here, all right? And I’m not going anywhere,” Severus murmured into her hair. “Just breathe.”

She nodded mutely, taking a deep shaky breath, then another one. But it was of no use, because a moment later she could feel her tears flood over, the dam behind her eyes breaking. “Please don’t leave me,” she sobbed, hiding her face in her knees. “Don’t leave me alone.”

“I’m not,” Severus promised, his voice calm and soothing. But Hermione just shook her head, knowing that he would leave her again, sooner or later. And she dreaded that moment already. 

 

Ssssssss

 

It had been an excellent plan, Crookshanks concluded, as he watched his mistress and the raven-man from his new spot in front of the fireplace. Both of them were seated on the sofa, their bodies entwined in a way that told him they would not let go of each other anytime soon. Perfect. All it had taken were a few well placed gifts from his mistress’ suitor and the girl had already moved into his quarters - taking Crookshanks with her. And it looked like they were going to stay, he thought, looking at his mistress’ trunk that had just appeared in the corner of the room. His feeding dish and his basket arrived a moment later and he walked over to the latter, lying down with a satisfied purr. He should have intervened much sooner, he concluded, his fur heating up just nicely by the fire. Here he could lie in peace, without any other humans shooing him away or disturbing his well-earned rest. Never again. No, his mistress would stay right where she belonged, Crookshanks would make sure of that. As soon as she decided otherwise, a few well-placed gifts would probably be enough to remind her what she was missing out on. It had worked perfectly this time, after all. But looking at those two he doubted if that would even be necessary. Because the raven-man looked like he would not let go of her anytime soon. Excellent.

 

 







Chapter Text

Severus held his friend, as she sat on his sofa, her petite body wracked by terrible sobs. There was not much he could do to reassure her now, nothing more than holding her and murmuring words of comfort, because right now he had no idea how to proceed. He would have to wait for Albus’ findings from checking the wards on her room, and even then he did not feel like he wanted to leave Hermione by herself anytime soon. She was safest when she was close to him because she was right: just because his rooms were among the safest of the castle, did not mean they were safe. And that was a worrisome realization indeed.

It took a while for Hermione to finally calm down, but when she did she slowly straightened herself and leaned her curly head against his chest, looking up at him with huge, caramel brown eyes. There seemed a million questions hidden in them, and if their situation had been different, he could have gotten lost in them, probably forever. But given their current situation, there was nothing he could do or say, that would help her - or not be totally inappropriate. He could not promise her everything would be all right, not when he did not have any clue what was going on; he could not even tell her how he truly felt. And he most definitely could not kiss her.
Therefore he did not do anything, just held her while staring at her silently, and for a while she just stared back, her eyes searching for something he could not grasp. But finally, she turned back around with a sigh and said:
“Could we stay like this for a while longer? I know you probably have loads of work to do, but could we just chat for a bit? Just to take my mind off of… things.”

He nodded understandingly. “Of course. Just give me a topic - maybe not fashion - and I will do my best to entertain you.”

Hermione nodded. “I have wondered for a while now; why did you decide to become an Animagus?”

He looked at her with a gentle smile. “There are two reasons for that - at least. The first one was that James Potter and his little gang of bullies managed it, and as soon as I found out, I think I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it as well. I know it sounds petty when I say it like that now, but back then… things were… hard.”

“I understand,” the woman in his arms whispered, her head leaning against his chest, while her eyes were full of melancholy. “I was bullied in school too, but for you, it was so much worse. I am not sure if I could have lived through seven years of that. I would have probably given up at some point.”

“You wouldn’t have,” he said, closing his arms around her torso and pulling her closer. “You are stronger than you think, much stronger. You would have given those idiots hell, I am sure of it.”

Hermione did not reply right away but after a moment a little smile formed on her lips. “Did Malfoy ever tell you that, in third year, I punched him in the face and broke his nose?”

“He did not,” Severus replied, smiling fondly. “But I am sure he deserved it.” She nodded and for a while she was silent. But Severus was not finished. “You should do that more often; fight back, I mean. I feel like you’re taking too much shit from others, like from Weasley, that idiot. Tell me, if he came and apologized to you, even if it was only half an apology, would you just forgive him? Would you just take him back as your friend and act as if nothing happened?”

Hermione shrugged. “Maybe. Because that’s what you do. You forgive others. You try to be nice and helpful because friendship is important, right? Especially when one hasn’t that many friends…”

Severus sighed. “That is no reason to allow others to treat you like shit, Hermione. I’d rather have no friends, than constantly being used by them,” he replied, more vehemently than he intended to. “Which probably is the reason for me being alone for such a long time.” He snorted. “But it does not matter. What is a friend if you cannot rely on them, or if they will turn against you at the first chance?”

Hermione nodded with a sigh. “I guess you are right. It is just that Ron and I also had good times. How can I just give that up?”

He did not reply right away. “Have you told your parents what he did? Because I would love to hear what they had to say…”

“I told them we split up shortly after our first date,” Hermione mumbled shyly. “They assumed it did not work out between the two of us, which is the truth. He and I… we were just not right together. And it was not his fault I distanced myself from him.”

Severus closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “You are still protecting him, after he treated you like shit. Why? You should have punched him in the face and broken his nose. Instead, you waited for Potter to do it.”
Hermione was silent, but the look on her face told him that she was considering his words. And so he continued: “I am not telling you what to do, Hermione, this is your life. But if you really accept him back as a friend, do not allow him to use you again, like he did before.”

At that, she nodded. “I promise. You know… ever since we became close, I have learned a lot about friendship, about how it’s supposed to be. And I think you are right.”

She did not clarify her words, but he assumed she was referring to Weasley, and therefore he smiled. For a while, neither of them spoke, and Severus just allowed himself to enjoy the physical contact, the smell of her hair, and the warmth radiating from her body.

Then, a while later, she said: “What was the other reason? For you becoming an Animagus, I mean…”

Ah, yeah. He had forgotten about how their discussion had started. “I was actually hoping for a more… dangerous... Animagus form. In my youth, I envisioned myself as a black panther, which would have been great when encountering a rat, a stag, and a stray dog. Unfortunately, that was not what I got and it took some time for me to see the advantages of being a raven, but eventually, I did.”

Hermione nodded. “You were just looking for a way to fight back,” she concluded, nodding understandingly.

“I did. As a student, I was involved in more duels than I could count. They were usually not one on one, and I rarely started them, but the Professors rarely asked after that little detail.” Severus laughed humourlessly. “Still, no matter how much I hated Potter and his lackeys for what they did to me, they taught me a valuable lesson, Hermione. They taught me to fight back, to not be a victim. And you aren’t a victim either, if you don’t want to be. You can always fight back and if you want to, I can help you to learn how.”

“You are right,” Hermione sighed, and even though her voice still sounded gloomy, she already seemed more like her old self again. Good. He would gladly protect her, if he had to, but it could never hurt to show her how to defend herself, even if it was by fighting dirty. But he would not force his help on her. He would give her time to contemplate his words and then hopefully she would ask him to teach her. And then he would teach her every dirty little trick that he was legally allowed to.

 

Ssssssss

“I think it’s time for us to go to bed now,” Severus said after they had sat in silence for a few hours. He had been correcting a stack of essays he had collected from his students today, while Hermione sat silently at his table by the window, taking glimpses of the Black Lake while she did her homework. After she had gotten over her initial panic it was actually quite nice sitting here, enjoying the view and the fact that no one disturbed her in her work.
But now she could suddenly feel how tired she was. Her past injury and the day’s events had indeed tired her out. The only problem was that going to bed would mean being alone again, and she dreaded the moment she had to close her eyes, being alone in the darkness.

“If we must,” she mumbled, carefully putting her books aside. “I am not sure if I can fall asleep right now,” she admitted, getting up from her seat.

She could feel Severus’ eyes on her, as he slowly got up from his desk as well, walking towards her with measured steps. “You are tired, Hermione, have been for a while now. You need to try to rest, to restore your energy for tomorrow.”

“I know,” Hermione admitted defeatedly. “But I can’t help being afraid of the moment when you leave that room, wishing me a good night.” She stared at her shoes, afraid to look at the older man, as he approached her.

He was silent until he was standing right in front of her, his hands gently gripping her shoulders. “I understand,” he said, his voice soft. “After the recent events, I too feel uncomfortable leaving you behind. But I would rather avoid having another shared dream with you sleeping right next to me.”

Hermione shook her head, before she forced herself to look at him, her eyes trying to convey what she felt. “I’d rather wake up after sharing a dream with you, than not sleep at all, Severus. Yes, the last time it happened was… embarrassing, but nothing we could not handle. I trust you, Severus so, please…” She would not beg him, she decided, but she had made her preferences on the matter clear enough.

“All right,” her friend replied with a sigh. “Come to my room then. You can sleep in my bed if it makes you feel better. But we will work on our lucid dreaming skills before falling asleep. That is my condition.”

She beamed at him. “Thank you. We can work on it until we fall asleep if you like,” she said, determined to do her best to satisfy her friend. If she was allowed to sleep next to him, it was worth letting go of those dreams, even if that meant never feeling Severus’ kisses again.

“Good. Make yourself ready for bed then. You can use the bathroom first,” Severus said, and a moment later the physical contact with him was gone. Hermione saw him stroll towards what was probably his bedroom and she hastily turned around and walked towards his bathroom. Readying herself for bed in his quarters was something she had never expected she’d do one day, but now she was, and even though she could not help but feel nervous about being in Professor Snape’s quarters - in his bedroom - the domesticity of it made her smile.

Severus’ bathroom was simple compared with what she had expected for a Professor. She had been to it before, of course, but today she appreciated the simple design of the room even more. Making a quick decision, she opted for a shower, washing her hair and her newly regenerated skin, because even though Madam Pomfrey had kindly used some cleaning spells on her, it wasn’t quite the same as using water and soap. When she stepped out of the shower there was a fluffy white bathrobe waiting for her, and next to Severus’ mirror, a second glass with her toothbrush had appeared, and Hermione took it, quietly thanking the house-elves for assisting her so kindly.

It was about twenty minutes later when she finally emerged from the bathroom, a cloud of steam following her outside. She padded in her bare feet towards the living room, where Severus had sat down on one of the armchairs, casually reading a book. He had already removed his outer robe and shoes, Hermione realized, and smiled happily. She liked this more casual version of Severus, and she took the sight in greedily to be able to replay it in her mind later.
“I see you found everything you needed,” Severus said and turned towards her. Somehow his eyes looked even darker in this light, Hermione thought, even though she had not considered that to be possible. “I’ll show you the way to my bedroom, before freshening up myself. I won’t be long...”

“Alright. Thank you,” she replied, feeling suddenly shy. But Severus did not comment on it, and led her through a door at the other end of the room. The room lying beyond was cosy and even though the huge four-poster-bed with green curtains took up most of the room, Severus had crammed one more shelf loaded with books against the wall next to the door. Interestingly it did not hold magical books, but a variety of Muggle literature, mostly thrillers as far as she could tell. It took a moment for her to rip her eyes away from the unknown titles but Severus, of course, had taken note of her interest.
“You can borrow one of them and start reading it, for as long as it takes me to get ready. Some of them are quite gruesome though, so maybe not something you should read before attempting to sleep.”

“I am not much into thrillers anyway,” Hermione confessed with a smile. “I just did not expect you to read them. I do have a weakness for drama and science-fiction though. If ever you’re getting bored with those ones, I do have a little collection of books of my own.”

Severus smiled. “I will keep it in mind. Make yourself at home then.”

Hermione nodded and before she found a fitting reply, Severus had left the room, closing the door behind him silently. For a moment she stared at the bed undecidedly. Did he prefer one side of it? Probably. But as he had not told her which one it was, she opted for the side that was facing the back of the room, because having Severus between her and the door made her feel safer.
Some moments later she had shrugged off her bathrobe, put on her soft, tartan-coloured pyjamas and climbed into bed, noting that there was only one large blanket. She would not mind sharing it with Severus of course; she was even secretly looking forward to it; but somehow she thought that Severus would probably transfigure a second one for himself. With a sigh she turned on her back and stared at the bed’s ceiling, and with a startle she realized that it was charmed, and showed several trees, making her feel like she was lying in the middle of the Forbidden Forest. The trees were mostly dark now that it was night outside, and here and there she could see a star blinking in between the treetops, but Hermione could not help but wonder how those trees would look in the morning. Hermione did not know how long she was lying there, admiring the view and watching the leaves gently moving in the wind, but suddenly she could hear the door open and Severus strode into the room. She turned towards him with a happy smile, realizing that he too had changed into a pair of pyjamas, but his were dark green and made of a soft, silken fabric. Strange. She had always envisioned him in a long, grey nightshirt, but suddenly she realized how ridiculous that thought had been.
“I love the enchantment on your bed’s ceiling,” she admitted dreamily. “I could stare at it all night - I probably will.”

Severus smiled and walked over to the bed, sitting down on the mattress before lifting the blanket and climbing beneath. “I enchanted it myself. It was not very long ago that I had problems with insomnia as well. Sometimes I still have them, but staring up into those trees usually helps me to calm down. Maybe it will help you, too.”

“I am sure it will,” Hermione replied, turning towards him with a happy smile. “But first I promised to work on my skills for lucid dreaming. So what do you want me to do?”

Severus turned towards her with a smile and Hermione could catch a whiff of peppermint in his breath. “I think it would be best if we go about it like this...” he said, and then he started to explain.

 

Ssssssss

 

Severus watched Hermione’s sleeping figure next to him with a gentle smile, taking in her beautiful features that sleep had finally relaxed. Her hair was still slightly wet from the shower and she smelled like peaches, he realized, and it took all his willpower not to stretch his arm out and bury his fingers in her curls.
The girl had trusted him enough to ask him to share his bed with her, and he would not dishonour her trust by risking another embarrassing situation between them. Still, this night was special, more special than Hermione would ever know, because Severus had never brought another woman to this bed, or even this room, and he had never intended to. Inside these walls was his sanctuary, the place he had retreated to whenever the outside world had gotten too much for him. Here in this bed, he had nursed his tortured body back to health, covering his sheets with his blood and sweat while the bed ceiling’s enchantment made him keep his composure and sanity as his body slowly recovered.

Severus had never wanted to sully those sheets by lovelessly fucking a woman here, but more importantly: he had never trusted anybody enough to show them this part of himself – until now. Now Hermione was here and the awe he had seen in her eyes when looking at his books, at his bed, at him, was tugging at his heart-strings and made him feel accepted in a way he never before had. It made him realize once more what a special gift it was to have found her - his soul mate - Hermione - the woman that had slowly but steadily wormed her way into his heart, and now into his bed. For a short moment, he wished she would stay here forever, sharing this blanket and warming his bed and his heart. But that, of course, was not possible... at least not for a very long while.

Chapter Text

Hermione woke up to Severus’ hands carefully stroking her face, as if he was trying not to wake her. His fingers were soft, trailing along her cheeks, her brows, her nose; and even though Hermione’s eyes were still closed, she would have recognized them anywhere. For a moment she was simply laying there, enjoying his touch and the excited flutter in her belly, but finally, it became too much for her to take and her eyes snapped open and she stared at him. A moment later she grabbed his raspy chin and pulled him into a desperate kiss. And to her surprise and delight, Severus moved towards her willingly, his lips kissing her with at least as much hunger as she herself felt.  

 

Gods, she wanted this, wanted him and here finally he was, kissing her like there was no tomorrow. Severus’ kisses felt hot and cold at the same time, they made her heart beat faster, like nothing else ever had. His hands buried in her hair made it impossible for her to move her head much, but her hands were free to roam his body, which was only clad in the elegant, soft pyjamas he had picked out for the night. Only hours ago she had wondered how it would feel to touch them, to feel his lean muscles below the soft and thin fabric, and now she realized that it felt even better than she had imagined. 

“Ah, Severus…” she breathed before pulling him into another kiss, burying her fingers in his silky, black hair. But she could only enjoy his lips a moment longer, before a thought hit her like a bludger, making her insides turn to ice. Severus would never kiss her like this, he did not want her like this, not really, which meant that this…

She stiffened and immediately the man in her arms froze.

“Hermione? Love? What’s wrong?” he asked, and for a moment she just looked at him, her heart beating wildly in panic. She had to tell him, she had promised, but for a moment she wanted nothing more than to continue to enjoy his attentions. 

“This isn’t real,” she finally whispered, her voice almost breaking. “This is a dream, Severus, we’re sharing a dream.”

 

Severus did not react right away, but finally he blinked and let go of her. “Right, sorry,” he murmured, clearing his throat. “You did well in realizing that. I would have fallen victim to it again.”

 

Hermione found herself nod, her heart growing heavier with every second that passed. She had done it, she had taken the first step towards lucid dreaming, which probably meant that soon, she would not feel his kisses ever again. But she could not think about that right now, not with Severus studying her like that, his eyes seemingly looking directly into her soul. 

“It does not matter. We have the advantage that there’s two of us. Maybe next time you’ll be the one noticing that we’re just dreaming. Anyway…” she trailed off, her eyes taking in her surroundings. Interestingly they were in his bed now, a location that before now had never featured in their dreams. “What shall we do now? Or better, what can we even do? I have never done this before.”

 

“Neither have I. But I would love to find out,” Severus said, getting up from the bed, his clothes suddenly transforming back into his black teaching robes. He looked at her expectantly, offering her his pale hand to help her get up. “What have you always wanted to do and never could?” he asked, his lips forming a curious smile.

 

‘Kissing you properly or telling you that I love you,’ Hermione thought, but hastily pushed the thought away. “Flying,” she said instead, her naked feet connecting with the cold stone floor a moment later. “I’ve always been terrified of flying, whether I was on a broom or a thestral. I’d like to try it without being afraid.”

 

Severus grinned. “Brilliant. That is something I can easily teach you. Come on. I just happen to know the best place for it.”



Ssssssss

 

 



When Hermione awoke some hours later she felt more conflicted than she ever had before. Those last hours of dreaming had been intense, with Severus helping her mount a broom all by herself and showing her Hogwarts’ surroundings from a bird’s perspective. They went far beyond the Forbidden Forest until they could see the sea in the distance, guided by the memories Severus had made when exploring the area in his Animagus form. Now, in her dream, Hermione felt fearless, because even if she managed to fall from her broom, she knew that nothing could really happen to her if she did. This was just a dream after all - one of the best dreams she’d ever had, if she was honest. Usually, she was not really in control of what was happening to her; now, she suddenly was, or they were. Which meant that Severus now acted firmly as her friend, but never more. And Hermione could not help but yearn for his touch. 

 

Now, as the daylight streaming through the small windows had woken her, Hermione found herself resting on his shoulder, his arms holding her firmly against his body. She had slung one of her hands across his chest, her fingers buried in the soft fabric of his pyjamas.

Hermione decided that she would just remain still and enjoy the contact with Severus as long as it lasted because she was sure that he would pull away from her as soon as he woke up. And that would probably be soon enough. But she should probably consider herself lucky to have as much, because Severus was still very much her Professor and therefore a physical relationship with him was totally off-limits. Would it really make that much of a difference though? She had already slept in his chambers and the Headmaster had not questioned them once. But Severus would , Hermione realized a moment later, remembering that he had not even enjoyed kissing her in the first place. Bugger.

 

Hermione was pulled out of her thoughts by a weight suddenly landing on the mattress next to her and it did not take her long to realize that it was Crooks worming his way into the bed to beg for her attention and probably some food. She wanted to shoo him away, but just at that moment, Severus awoke and stared, first at her, then at her cat.

“I should probably be thankful he did not seek you out a few hours ago,” he mumbled sleepily, his arms holding her body slowly sliding away. “Cheeky bugger. What do you want?” Severus asked, staring at her cat with an amused smile on his lips. 

 

Crooks meowed and stared at him, before climbing on the man’s chest, settling there with a demanding purr. Severus stared at him, sceptically at first, but then the corners of his mouth twitched in amusement. “I see,” Severus answered and to Hermione’s astonishment he lifted his hand a moment later, his long fingers disappearing in her pet’s long fur. For a moment Hermione just stared at him, but then she chuckled before carefully climbing out of her friend’s bed. 

“I think he might have just claimed you,” she said light-heartedly before slowly walking towards the bedroom door. “Don’t spoil him too much, or he won’t leave you alone.” 

 

“I doubt that very much,” Severus replied, just as she opened the door. “Cats usually tend to avoid me, at least the ones roaming the castle. I’m sure your cat will follow you as soon as you leave the room.”

 

Hermione smiled at him before she turned around and left the room, to freshen up in the bathroom. Crookshanks did not follow her, though. He stayed firmly at Severus’ side until Hermione left his quarters to head to her lessons, which was really remarkable, as her cat had not played favourites with any of her friends or her parents so far. 




Ssssssss



“Harry’s feeling better!” Ginny greeted her as soon as she reached the breakfast table. The redhead stared at her with a wide and happy smile and pulled her right next to her, when Hermione walked towards her. “I’ve seen him yesterday and again this morning. He told me he might even be released from the infirmary tomorrow or the day after. Isn’t that great?”

 

Hermione nodded and sat down next to Ginny with a smile. “It is. He’s been to the Hospital Wing way too often in the last weeks for my liking. I imagine he was happy to see you.”

 

“He was. The afternoon was amazing. We’ve been talking so much, not just about Quidditch. It’s really funny but Harry just gets me in a way that no one else does. Does that sound strange?” Ginny asked hesitantly. But Hermione shook her head with a melancholic smile. 

 

“Not at all. I love the idea that someone like that is out there for every one of us, someone who really gets us. If Harry is this somebody for you... “ she swallowed and making a quick decision she said: “..then you are lucky to have found him. Fight for him, for what you want, because you’ll probably regret it later, if you don’t.” Then she realized that she had said those words louder than intended and several students around her, Ron and Lavender included, stared at her with a dumbfounded expression. But Ginny just looked at her with a genuine smile.

 

“You really think so? You think I’d have a chance with Harry? Because I’m afraid all he sees in me is Ron’s little sister,” her friend mumbled, oblivious to the looks her brother bestowed on them. 

 

Hermione resolutely ignored him and instead looked at Ginny with an encouraging smile. “I don’t think you’re just Ron’s little sister to him now. But to find out what else you are or could be for him, you should probably start spending more time with him. Sometimes that’s all it takes to fall in love.” She realized that her cheeks slightly pinkened at those words, but she did not care. No one, not even Ginny, would ever guess the truth. 

 

“That sounds like you’re talking from experience,” Ginny murmured knowingly but at that Hermione sighed, before forcing a careless smile onto her face.

 

“Well, I do spend a lot of time with my books and Crooks and without doubt I love them very much.”

 

Ginny stared at her for a moment, but then she broke out into a grin. “You’re impossible,” she said, before continuing to eat her breakfast with a wide grin. Hermione chuckled, even though her heart still felt heavy from the conversation. Maybe she should follow her own advice, she thought, but that would mean risking her friendship with Severus. She was terrified to lose him, but maybe she should start trusting their bond and the fact that they were indeed Kindred Spirits. She was sure that he was the one for her, but how could she ever make him see her as more than a student and a friend?




Ssssssss



“What do you think you’re doing setting up my sister with Harry like that?” Ron’s voice shouted after her, as she made her way towards the DADA classroom. She had half expected him to follow her, as she had been aware that he had listened in to her conversation with Ginny. “I thought you’re the one dating him now.”

 

Hermione turned around, her eyebrow raised questioningly at her former friend. “If you would have ever bothered to ask either of us, Ron, you would have been aware that Harry and I are nothing more than friends, that we will never be more than friends. But you just assumed , didn’t you? Well, you assumed wrong.”

 

Ron just stared at her, the colour in his face rising while his hands were balled into fists.  “You dumped me for him ! Not only did you run off from our date, you avoided touching me afterwards. What was I supposed to think?”

 

“I did not dump you, Ronald. I went to help Harry! You were the one insulting me before running off snogging Lavender Brown, without even bothering to talk to me !” Hermione shook her head, staring at her former friend in disappointment. “But that is what you always do, isn’t it?”

 

Ron stared at her, his teeth and fists clenched. “That is not fair, Hermione, and you know it. You could have said something after Harry got hurt but instead you acted like nothing happened. You didn’t tell me anything. Not how brewing with Snape went or why you suddenly avoided touching or kissing me.”

 

Hermione took a deep breath. She would stay calm here and not shout at him, because doing so would tell him that he had found a sore spot. “I did not kiss you because I hated it, Ron. I hated how it felt and how wet it was, but gods . How was I supposed to tell you that without you being hurt or simply running off? I know how easily you feel hurt or insulted.”

 

The redhead stared at her, dumbfounded, his mouth gaping open. “You weren’t very good at it either, Hermione. It’s not like you can learn everything from a book. Lavender on the other hand… she knows what she’s doing.”

 

There it was again, the stab in her heart, the thought that maybe it was her fault. But no, Severus' words still clearly rang in her ears and it gave her the strength not to cower before him. Instead she proudly raised her chin and said: “Just so you know, Ronald. I did have prior experience, with Victor. And we did just fine together. But that doesn’t even matter now. Maybe we were just not meant to be, Ron, maybe the chemistry between us was simply all wrong.”

 

He shrugged gloomily. “Whatever. So what now? Are we just going back to being friends now?”

 

For a moment Hermione just stared at him, and maybe a few weeks ago she would have agreed. But having Severus now and knowing what a real friendship looked like, and especially after their conversation yesterday, she could not help it. She laughed. “No, Ron. I do not think so. So far I have not heard any apology for you r abysmal behaviour towards me, which probably is because you don’t even realize how hurtful the things you did and said were . But even if you did apologize. What kind of friendship did we even have? You and Harry talking about Quidditch while I did half of your homework - not even bothering to ask about the stuff I was interested in. I honestly don’t think I want to go back to that, Ron, not really.”

 

She could tell that she had hit a nerve, because suddenly the expression on Ron’s face became… ugly... and Hermione braced herself for what was to come. “Then don’t,” he said with a snort. “ You’ll be the one not having friends afterwards, because it’s only a matter of time until Harry gets bored by you as well.”

 

Hermione looked at him coldly, an expression that would have made Severus proud, and shrugged. “I prefer having no friends to have a shitty one like you, Ron. I wish you all the best though, you and Lavender, but I w ill ask you to leave me alone from now on.”

 

With that she turned around and left, without waiting for his answer. She had heard enough, and after knowing Ron for years, she was sure that his behaviour would only get worse from here. And that was not something she planned to endure. Not any longer.



Ssssssss



Severus watched Hermione march away from the red-headed idiot, her chin raised and her back ramrod straight. Weasley watched her leave, his face morphed into a mask of anger. But luckily the idiot did not move, and therefore Severus had no reason to intervene, not when Hermione had held herself so admirably. She had not needed his help, and with this idiot, she probably never would again. He was so proud of how she had taken his words to heart. She had fought back and most importantly, she had not just forgiven him and gone back to letting herself be used by the unworthy git. And Severus could not help but think that it was because of what he had said to her the day before. 

Still, he felt like Weasley needed to learn his lesson, and he would see that he did. That moron would not hurt Hermione again, not when he could prevent it.  He would need to be clever about it, though. Luckily he did already have an idea of what to do and he was kind of looking forward to seeing the result. 







Chapter Text

The next afternoon, as soon as he had some time to himself, Severus started brewing a special potion. The potion would have to be made very carefully in order to remain undetected, and harmless to anyone else but Mr Weasley, which would take time. But with the right monitoring and stirring charms, it would be doable for him without taking up too much of his time. With a bit of luck, his little experimental potion would be finished within a week, and going by the boy’s idiocy (and years of experience with supervising teenagers), Mr Weasley would have upset Hermione enough by then to deserve what Severus had planned for him. 



Ssssssss



“Any news?” Severus asked, staring at Albus calculatingly. The Headmaster had been suspiciously silent, the seemingly ever-present twinkle in his eyes missing. He was worried, this much Severus could tell, and he did not like that at all.

 

“The wards placed on Miss Granger’s room were unchanged. They were not taken down or manipulated in any way. Still, the intruder found a way to pass them without any of us being alerted. It is most worrisome,” Albus explained, his expression grave. 

 

“Indeed,” Severus agreed darkly. “Do you have any ideas about how such a thing is possible? I do not think any of the students would be capable of such a feat, which would rule out Mr Malfoy, don’t you think? He might be a Death Eater now and determined to kill you, but he is not that clever or resourceful.”

 

Albus stroked his beard. “I must agree. Not many would be able to trick the wards in such a way. But why suddenly Miss Granger? Do you think Tom has already guessed her connection to you? After all, Bella did try to kill her not too long ago. Could this be her, trying again?”

 

Severus felt sick to his stomach. “She liked to play with her prey, and this message left for Miss Granger could indeed be her handwriting. Which would be most worrisome. If it is Bella being after her, Miss Granger is not safe on her own. Bellatrix is dangerous, not only because she is a capable witch. She is mad as a hatter, Albus, and has an appetite for blood and torture.” He paused, then said, almost in a whisper, “We cannot let Hermione fall into her hands, Albus.”

 

“Of course not, my boy. We will do everything we can to protect your bond-mate. Her staying in your quarters is only the first logical step. I do have a few more ideas. But those are best discussed with the girl in person. Should we fetch her right away?”

 

Severus nodded. There was no reason to put this off, not if it was indeed Bellatrix after Hermione. With that crazy witch potentially inside Hogwarts, things did indeed look grave. One reason more to keep his mate as close as he could.



Ssssssss



By now Hermione must have been to the Headmaster’s office more often than Harry ever had, and that in a pretty short amount of time. It was strange that Albus Dumbledore suddenly had such a big interest in her whereabouts, because even though she seemed to be a target now, Harry was too. So why was it only her talking to the old man? Harry had told her why the Headmaster had been avoiding him in their fifth year. Was it possible that he still did, at least as much as he could? It was possible, she guessed, or was this Albus Dumbledore treating her like the adult she now was, trying to manipulate her? her conscience whispered with Severus’ voice. 

 

“Ah, Miss Granger. Do come in,” the Headmaster greeted her as soon as she had reached the top of the stairs to his office. The man was sitting at his desk, like he usually did, but at his right side, there was Severus, staring at her with a serious expression. And even though his presence in this office probably meant bad news, she could not help but feel reassured that he was here. 

 

“Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape,” she greeted politely, nodding towards  both men while slowly walking into the office. 

 

“I hope you find yourself back in good spirits and health. I am aware this is quite a challenging and stressful situation for you. Which is why Professor Snape and I want to support and help you as best we can, and why we have called you here today."

 

Hermione nodded, and carefully walked towards the middle of the room. For a moment she considered sitting down, but as Severus was still standing, she decided to remain standing as well for now.

"That is very kind of you," she said, smiling shyly.

 

"Actually, it is what he promised your parents. Apart from that, it is his job," Severus said dryly. "And mine too."

 

Professor Dumbledore did not say anything to that and instead pointed towards the cushioned chair standing in front of his desk. "I suggest you sit down, my dear, and maybe help yourself to a lemon drop, too. Some things are better discussed while seated comfortably."

 

For a moment Hermione hesitated but then she followed the man's invitation and Severus sat down shortly after, transfiguring a chair for himself right next to her. It felt strange having him there instead of facing him, like it used to be when facing one of her Professors. It showed her once more that Severus was now more to her - and more importantly, that she was more to him than just a student. 

 

"Unfortunately we have so far not discovered who the person intruding into your chambers was. But Severus believes that Bellatrix Lestrange is a possible suspect in that matter and I agree with him," Professor Dumbledore explained calmly, but Hermione felt a pool of dread settle in her stomach. If it was really Bellatrix Lestrange after her - and maybe Harry too - then that was ten times worse than if it had just been Draco Malfoy, like Harry had expected. Against Draco Malfoy she would have been able to defend herself in a duel; against Bellatrix Lestrange on the other hand… 

 

She is very dangerous, is she not? Do you think she is using Polyjuice or something?” Hermione asked, her eyes seeking out Severus. “Because if she is, she should appear on the Marauder’s map. Barty Crouch Junior did, back in my fourth year, only we did not realize it was him, as everyone assumed he was dead.”

 

Severus nodded, his lip twitching. “We should definitely check that map then. Would you collect it from Potter as soon as this conversation is finished? I will accompany you to the hospital wing.”

 

Hermione nodded.