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Making sure the boy who lived, actually does

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Harry glanced around at his small apartment in central London and offered a wistful sigh. 

Today marked the start of the first year where he wouldn’t be in constant fear of Voldemort. A life lay ahead of him pregnant with possibility, open to him and his war hero status.

In a few short weeks he would begin his Auror training with Ron and the chance to change and evolve the Ministry into something good.  It would be something that brought everyone together instead of creating division.

He should be excited, shouldn’t he? So then why wasn’t he? It was this thought that finally dragged his lean body out of bed as he yawned, stretching a bit until a satisfying popping sound emitted from his back.

He looked out the window of his room, seeing an owl gently tapping at the window. Harry went to it, smiling as he opened the sill.

His friends never forgot about him, no matter what. The owl looked exhausted fluttered over to Harry’s bed dropping several large parcels.

“You’ve been busy,” Harry said to the barn owl, nuzzling its feathers a moment before placing giving her some feed. The creature made a soft sound in response, watching Harry a moment before falling into a light sleep. Harry smiled and went back to the parcels, opening the first card.

Hullo Harry, Romania’s so fun, you wouldn’t believe it! Mum’s keeping an extra close eye on Dad during these trips, she’s sure he’s going to get stitches again! I wanted to telly-phone you this week, but Dad says I’ll be back soon enough and I’m also rubbish at using it.  I can’t wait to start training next month, it’s going to be mental! I hope you like your presents, they’re from all of us!
Ron

Harry tore open the present to reveal a large box, inside it was a mountain of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes . Harry laughed at the miscellaneous items, picking them up and looking at the random gags. There were sneezing saucers, Blotto blips and so much more, it was almost overwhelming. He felt a small pang at his side as he looked at them, his mind drawing back to Fred for a moment. He wondered how George was doing managing the shop without him.

He glanced at a few of the other parcels. Hermione had sent him a book on famous Quidditch captains, which he eagerly set aside to read later on. He snatched up the long piece of parchment with her familiar looping scrawl.

Dear Harry,

I hope your summer has been well! So strange to think that I’ll be returning to Hogwarts without you this term. I know you think it’s silly wanting to finish my N.E.W.T.’s and all, but I really have my sights set on a very specific Ministry position. They only accept you if you have the right grades (Even if you were part of the team that took down Voldemort). Besides, you know me, I can’t NOT finish something. But it won’t be the same and I admit to feeling a bit of trepidation going back alone without my best friends.

I hope you’re having such a wonderful birthday. I know you said you’re busy these days, but I hope you come to visit me at least once before you go off and start your training! I miss you terribly and I know that its my fault for going to Australia right after, but you know why I had to. Mum and Dad are doing so much better and we’ve just finally moved back home! It’s so nice to be at home amongst all my books and neighbors and everything just feels so safe. I can’t remember the last time I actually felt safe in the past few years, can you?

I hope Ron is having a wonderful time in Romania! I miss him terribly as well. Maybe you can convince him to join you when you visit? I’m afraid I’ve been a pretty terrible girlfriend so far! So far we’ve murdered a monster together but not actually gone on a proper date! I know, I know this is likely very boring so I’ll ask you about a topic you are sure to enjoy: how is your beloved Ginny? I suppose she’s rather downhearted to be in Romania, so far away from her Romeo! (I couldn’t resist)

I hope you enjoy your book, I know that reading on your time off isn’t your favorite pastime but I do think you’ll enjoy this one!

Much Love,

Hermione

Harry smiled at his friend’s missive, knowing that Ginny was indeed missing him terribly as Hermione had alluded to. The many letters they’d sent back and forth to one another had been a very large indication of that.

All of a sudden there was a small peck from outside his window and another owl with a squished face was pressing itself up against Harry’s windowpane. Harry smile, recognizing Ginny’s script on the package from where he stood.

“Goodness I am popular today,” he said to himself opening the window.

Moments later he opened the package and smiled fondly.  Inside was a small yellow cake with red icing. Gryffindor colors from his favorite girl.  

To the boy who lived. Happy 18th Birthday. May all your wishes come true!

Harry nodded to the cake as if conversing with it. It was true he was free now. Free from Voldemort, free from his continual need to be on guard. Free to pursue a normal wizarding life with his friends and girlfriend as a war hero. This should've cheered him up but it didn't.  Instead his mind drew back to those final moments, watching as Voldemort’s red eyes glowed furiously.

There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me now, Riddle. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good. "

“You have survived this long crouching behind greater men and women ,” Voldemort sneered with a coughing laugh. “You are alive because they died!”

Harry closed his eyes against the onslaught of tears that were beginning at the corner of his eyes. It was true. In the pursuit of defeating Voldemort they had lost so many. Sirius, Dumbledore,  Moody, Fred, Lupin, Tonks, even Snape.

Harry’s eyes closed as he recalled the man’s last moments. Insisting that Harry take his memories. Harry shuddered as he recalled watching the light of the man’s dark eyes going out. It was so strange when viewing his memories in the pensive to see Snape young. Seeing him with his parents and knowing of Snape’s enduring love for his mother.  Harry felt a tightness in his chest. 

He wanted things to go back to as they were. He didn’t mind going back to a school where Malfoy teased him or Snape hated him.  He would welcome the man’s blind hatred with open arms. He would be fine with a school where he was in danger at every moment if it meant the people who mattered so much were alive.

He absently smoothed his hair out of his eyes. He knew that going back to Hogwarts would prove too much; that’s why his Auror training would be starting so soon. He couldn’t face a year of classrooms and Headmasters that were no longer there. It was a cruelty he couldn’t fathom.

Was that the cause of this suffocating darkness? Is this what caused the empty feeling within him some nights? It had all started when he'd gone to the Weasley's for a few weeks after the war.  Molly had insisted on it. She didn't want him alone and he was grateful to be surrounded by them all in their loud, busy home. During his stay he had idly wondered if his presence was to combat the loss of Fred. 

He would have stayed longer if it weren't for their family venture to Romania, and even though they'd offered Harry to come he’d declined politely, knowing full well he wasn't a Weasley.

That was it, wasn’t it? He had no family. They were all gone. Forever.

Family. He walked casually over to the album Hagrid had given him his first year, the one collection of his parent's that he had. He opened its first page, glancing at the waving figures of his parents as they held an infant Harry between them. Harry felt the tears well up in the back of his eyes but quickly dismissed them with a flick of the page.

There was another of his parents, looking at each other with looks of admiration whilst in a soft embrace. Harry often looked to this one over the years, knowing full well that the image before him was one of total undeniable love. He supposed that's why Cho had never really done it for him because he could never imagine loving her as much as his father had loved his mother.  

But Ginny had been different. Harry smiled at the thought of his sweet girlfriend with her kind eyes and her soft mouth. Their weeks at the burrow had been spectacularly intimate; stolen kisses, broom rides, the feel of Ginny’s body against his.

He drew his attention back to the photo book and time slipped past quickly. Harry went through each and every image before him, smiling and laughing when he came across those including a mischievous looking James and Sirius. They must have been worse than Fred and George, (No wait, was that possible?) and Harry found himself longing to be included in their mischief.

There was one he didn't care to look at all that often, and strangely enough it was one quite comical. It was one of James, Sirius and Lupin all making odd faces into the camera. Judging by James head boy badge, it had been their seventh year. It wasn't Sirius' death that made him skip over the picture though, nor was it his father's. Harry almost felt like he was looking at his own doppelganger when he gazed in that picture. But that's not what deterred him.

What did turn Harry off from the picture was faintly in the bright background stood a lone figure stood with arms crossed sneering at the trio with disdain. It didn't take him long to note that it was a teenage Severus glaring at his father with such hate. Whenever Harry came across that certain picture, he was sure to pass over it quite quickly.

 Despite what he knew about Snape he couldn’t help but be uncomfortable at the sight of such open disdain for his father. He closed the book quickly, his emotions still unsettled around his former Potions Professor. Yes, the man had done a lot of good. But at the same time he'd also done a lot of bad. 

"Well then," he said to himself, breaking from those thoughts. "What to do first?"

Cleaning, making dinner or organizing things for his Auror classes next month. All of these options seemed a little dull to him at this current moment. He went for a swipe at his cake's delicious icing, looking with longing to the slightly sloppy message one last time.

May all your wishes come true

Harry scoffed openly at this, shaking his dark head in response. I only have one wish Ginny. I want my parent's back. I want the people who sacrificed themselves for me to be alive again.  

The icing hadn't even made it halfway way to his mouth when he stopped. A powerful realization came to him. It was like a shock from a thunderbolt, much like the one he wore on his head. He knew what he wanted to do, he knew what had been ailing him, he knew how to set things right.

He would fix everything.

Chapter Text

 

She hadn't even been in the Hogwarts Express compartment five minutes when the door to it was thrust open and a very excited looking Harry and Ron piled into the small room with looks of anticipation clearly written upon their ruddy faces.  

"Hey Hermione!" They crowed in some bizarre chorus as they clamored over to her, pulling her into tight embraces. She looked to Ron with a shy smile before placing a gentle kiss on his welcoming lips.  She didn’t want it to go on too long after all, with Harry standing there at their elbow.

“I thought you were in Auror training,” she said with a large grin, still gripping onto the very happy Ron.

“We wanted to surprise you,” Ron explained, pressing a kiss to her temple.

“We have the week off for research for a presentation on poisons and antitdotes,” Harry explained as Ron nodded. “We said we wanted to do some of the research at Hogwarts and they agreed. It has the best library in the UK as you know, Head Girl.”

Hermione looked slightly taken aback as they all took their seats. Her eyebrows did a dramatic dip as she spoke. "How did you two know?"

Ron and Harry exchanged looks of good humor at their friend's bewildered stance. A confused Hermione Granger of all things! Something told them to take advantage but they refrained, she was after all a good friend.

"Who else would have gotten it Hermione?" Ron asked settling himself across from her in the seat with a wry grin. Hermione blushed slightly as she gave a good-natured smile in the direction of her boyfriend and settled back in her seat. With Ron’s presence she was suddenly all shook up. She had her entire first week back planned, but with him sitting there mooning away across from her how could she possible hope to get any work done?

She sighed gently, wondering if it would be possible for her and Ron to sneak away after the feast tonight to catch up. She hadn’t seen him since she bolted off to Australia to recover her obliviated parents. Now that life was back in order, she found she was happy to resume their romance and in Hogwarts of all places! How perfect!

"When did you get the letter?" Harry asked with interest as Hermione gave a modest shrug in response. She was trying not to act too smug about the whole thing"In the summer sometime, I don't really recall."

"Hermione," Ron gave a knowing look accompanied with a dramatic eyebrow raise that could only be described as Snape-like. Hermione gave a resigned shrug before mumbling her answer.

"August 2nd, 11:32 a.m. I was eating a late breakfast when the post arrived."

Harry and Ron burst out into laughter as Hermione ignored them, a bemused look on her face as she feigned reading the book on her lap, tapping her fingers absently upon the pages.

"What kind of girlfriend doesn’t tell her boyfriend something like that right away?”  Ron teased, digging through his pockets for some spare knuts as the woman with the chocolate trolley came around to their compartment.

Before he could even begin frowning at his absence in change, Harry had already sprung up from his seat, thrust several galleons into her hands and taken the cart for all of them to share. Ron turned a little pink around the ears, never really comfortable with Harry's constant treating.

"You don't have to," he started mumbling as everyone else reached for some of the candy on the trolley, he trailed off looking rather pink.

"The way I figure it Ron," Harry had said across from him, nibbling at a chocolate frog that didn't have the chance jump away from him, "I don't have any brothers or sisters to spend my money on. You and Hermione are the closet things I have to siblings. So what if I want to treat you now and again?"

Ron looking better soothed and nodded a bit, reluctantly grabbing some of Botts beans and carefully inspecting one as Harry continued with a bright smile upon his face.

"Plus, you're not getting anything for Christmas this year."

With that out of the way Ron offered an easy laugh and soon the three of them were eating candy and talking about their summer adventures. Well, Hermione and Ron were - Harry seemed rather preoccupied with hearing of their ventures instead of relaying his own. He was a little embarrassed to admit he'd spent the summer reading (Hermione would be proud but Ron surely wouldn't.)

"Charlie even let me help him some of the time." Ron said excitedly,  “I nearly got my eyebrows singed off, but it was worth it."

"Makes you wish you'd paid more attention in Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures, doesn't it?" Hermione said haughtily, giving a smug look at her old friends. Before Ron could protest about Hermione's know-it-all attitude she sobered.  “it feels a bit strange going back, doesn’t it?”

At this Ron and Harry acquired pained looks a moment before they all lapsed into thoughtful silence. Hermione had made a good point; while this time on the train felt comfortable and familiar, the truth is that when they got to Hogwarts it would be different. Strange and empty feeling even.  

In the moments of lapsed silence she looked across from her to see that Ron had nodded off, bits of chocolate sprinkled on the front of his jumper. She smiled softly to herself before looking down to the Transfiguration book on her lap.

Hermione herself was a bit anxious about their return, and she went over these thoughts as she pretended to read her book. She had so many ideas about what she wanted to do with her life that it was overwhelming. Should she go to work in St. Mungo's? With her revolutionary ideas she'd surely be an asset.  The ministry wasn't her ideal choice, but she assumed a position there might hold her interest. Once she'd gone through from Muggle Sciences to Herbology for career choices she stopped, knowing full well the only thing left. The one thing she would never major in if her life depended upon it. Potions.

She wouldn't say that she was horrible in it, but it was the one class that she had to try extra hard in. Whilst reading and writing was part in most of her studies, her essays for Snape had to be exemplary. Too often she found herself working her fingers to the bone after re-writing a Potion's essay in hopes for an Outstanding. Sadly all hopes and dreams dashed upon the proverbial rocks as he continually handed her back Exceeds Expectations and on the odd occasion an Acceptable. She knew it was because she was Harry's friend, but she also knew if she ever called Snape on it she'd live to regret it.

Snape. Hermione felt a lump come to her throat then, her dark eyes filling with tears that she blinked back. Snape had been one of those individuals that she had devoutly believed was on their side in their later years. To see the memory he bestowed upon Harry however made her realize she had truly underestimated his sacrifices.  He was a true hero, even if he had been a rather large git as a teacher.

She glanced up at Harry’s glazed expression, wondering if he ever thought about the man that loved his mother so dearly. A man that he had maligned for so many years. Harry must have sensed her staring because he glanced over at her with a questioning look on his narrow face. His hair had parted a bit and the scar shot out from behind a few stray locks. She was sure not to look at it for too long, she knew how that bothered him.

"You look cheery," she observed as she stifled a yawn. She'd been reading her new class books into the wee hours of the morning and just now in the cozy confines of the train's compartment she felt the drowsiness beginning to catch up with her.

Harry nodded to her emphatically, giving her an uncharacteristically large smile, one usually reserved for won Quidditch matches. There was a sparkle to his eyes she couldn't place, and somehow she knew something big was going to unfurl.

"Going to tell me why?" she said with a small smirk  as Harry continued to smile. Going a bit pink on his cheeks he took a in a shallow breath, looking as if he couldn't contain his good news.

"This year is going to be the best," he said absently tapping his feet against the floor of the moving train. His light eyes acquired a rather moony look to them and his voice dropped to barely above a whisper. "I just know it."

Hermione looked to her friend, seeing a strange look pass over his normally placid features. “What makes you say that?”

"I-I," Harry shot a nervous look at the still dozing Ron and gave Hermione an imploring look. "It actually involves you."

"Me?" Hermione felt her curiosity growing, a sudden look of inquiry upon her face as she looked over to him, lowering her book and giving her undivided attention to Harry. "How?"

Harry was about to speak more when he noticed Ron's snoring had lessened slightly. As surreptitiously as he could muster, he looked to Hermione with a severe look as he mouthed, I'll tell you later.

Hermione nodded with a feeling of curiosity tugging at her. She looked back to her book of Seventh Year Transfiguration and became engrossed. Harry rolled his eyes at his bookworm friend, some things never changed.

"You know," Harry said absently, "My Mum and Dad were Head Girl and Head boy in their seventh year," he trailed off suddenly getting a funny look on his face. Hermione merely nodded, knowing not to say anything.

It was the last thing spoken between the two before Harry drifted off to sleep himself and it wasn't soon after that Hermione joined both he and Ron.

She awoke a few hours later to the sound of paper being shuffled through near her. If it weren't for Harry and Ron in the compartment she would have sworn someone was rifling through her papers, but she knew better. She raised her head though, feeling a bit disoriented in the process and her sight was blurry a moment as she blinked back the fuzziness. She had a horrible cotton taste in her mouth as she sat up and immediately regretted it as a harsh sting went across her back.

That's the last time I fall asleep in that position. she internally sulked, rubbing her sore neck. Her book had fallen to the floor during her siesta and bending over to get it she saw a flash of something near her bag out of the corner of her eyes.

Sitting straight up she looked over and saw it had only been Harry absently grasping her bag in a haze of drowsy distortion. She smiled good-naturedly at the dark haired boy as he blinked a few times, pulling on his discarded glasses before looking over to Hermione.

"You'd better wake Ron up," she said standing slowly and opening a small suitcase she had with her on the seat next to her.  Harry, still a little disoriented squinted at Hermione and gave off a small yawn.

"Huh?"

"Harry," she said in that usual no-nonsense tone. "We're almost at Hogwarts."

Stretching soundly with an incoherent mutter he walked over to Ron and nudging him in the back. Ron absently swiped at Harry's hand with a backward's slap.

"Just gimme five more minutes Mum," he sighed in a dreamy haze as Harry and Hermione shot each other a smirk. Harry cleared his throat a moment and then looked down at Ron's sleeping form.

"RONALD WEASLEY!" he screeched in his best Molly Weasley impression, (one that sounded remarkably like one of Ron's array of Howler's) "YOU GET UP THIS INSTANT!"

Ron, in a turn of utter shock and dazed confusion rolled over in his seat and promptly fell to the ground with a loud thump as Hermione and Harry burst out in childish giggles. Groaning, Ron pulled himself into a sitting position so that he was able to give the laughing Hermione and Harry the glare they deserved.

"Impressive Harry," Hermione said through her giggles, "his face was priceless!"

She and Harry collapsed into more laughter as Ron stood on shaky legs and went to his own carry on bag grumbling about their immaturity.

"I hope McGonogall doesn't drag on the sorting speech too long," Ron said to no one in particular, obviously having come out of his sulk at the idea of food. "I can't stand the wait."

"Neither can I,” Hermione said with a light flick of her wand as she pointed it at her carry on suitcase. Within a matter of seconds it had shrunk and she placed it delicately into her pocket. "It’s going to be strange having her as Headmistress. What do you think, Harry?"

Harry looked momentarily stupefied, then realizing what they had been talking about moments before hand he offered a brisk, "I think she’s a good fit.”

Hermione looked to Harry curiously, the wheels in her constantly dissecting brain were in full motion as she looked to the distracted Harry. She assumed it had to do with whatever he'd wanted to share before.

But for once, Hermione Granger, know-it-all ,had no idea what it could be.

* * *

When the three of them arrived in the foyer of Hogwarts instead of doing their trademark dash up the stairs to the common room, most of the seventh years were walking slower than most, basking in the fact that they were top of the heap this year.

The three of them turned to see Hagrid waving in a bunch of first years from outside, looking as large and friendly as he always had. The first years were all bunched together looking nervous and excited as they waited to be sorted.

I wonder if we looked like that, Hermione wondered bemused as she viewed one of the girl's pointing to Harry shyly and starting to giggle with her friend. Honestly.

"Hey Hagrid!" The all chimed in, giving the giant a large hug before Hagrid's stance became more professional as the children behind him watched in curiosity.

'I'll see yous lay’er,' he said quietly with a wink to them before bellowing over his shoulder; "Come on now first years, to the Great Hall!"

The three friends watched Hagrid's large figure make its way down the hall with the new students, and something in the familiar tradition struck a solemn chord with each of them. There was a sudden sort of feeling that passed through the three of them, realizing full well that this was in fact the end.  As soon as they were done researching this week, their time together would be over.

No, Hermione thought with a frown. Perhaps it was a beginning.

She looked to the hazy looks on the boy's faces and registered they felt the same way as she did. This was the last time they would ever see their beloved Hogwarts.

“Oh my Gods,” Ron suddenly broke into their thoughts from behind. “No one said Malfoy’d be here!”

Hermione and Harry glanced to their left to see Draco walking down the corridor quietly, his eyes on the floor, his stance impossibly feeble.  

 The three weren’t sure what to say or what to do. Should they ignore their former enemy? Embrace him into the fold? His allegiance had been more in question than others and so they remained quiet. He didn’t even glance up at them as he walked towards the Great Hall.

Harry let his gaze drift on Draco a moment before looking around the vast foyer once more, trying to remember every detail as time spent in this castle had proven to be the best of his life.

They walked into the Great Hall to see McGonagall stand up at the front of the hall, the same place Dumbledore always had. 

"Students..." McGonagalls clipped voice emitted, as she smiled to the students, new and old. "Welcome to Hogwarts..."

* * *

"Here it is." Hermione said throwing open her door and looking at the Head Girl bathroom s with a look of utter rapture and admiration. The two boys glanced at once another and then back into the bathroom. It was rather unremarkable, containing a vanity, a toilet, a claw foot tub, a sink and a large mirror. Fairly standard.

“Erm, it’s nice Hermione,” Ron said, unsure of why having ones own private loo was such a large deal. Still he was proud of her accomplishments, giving her a small smile.

"It's nice," Harry added, looking around the room before placing a purring Crookshanks down on the floor. She giggled excitedly, placing all her toiletries down and looking at her surroundings.

“This would have been so useful in second year,” Hermione mused. “Maybe I wouldn’t have turned myself into a cat.”

The three of them smirked at this.

“I’m going to check in with McGonagall about Harry and I getting a room,” Ron suddenly remembered, looking to them in passing. “I’ll be right back.”

With that he was off, leaving the two friend’s alone.  Hermione smiled, having had been most enchanted when McGonagall called she and the other head boy, Anthony Goldstein, to her office after his speech during the feast, after a small speech on the rules and regulations of Head Girl and Head Boy they were given special keys and pins and trust from the Headmistress. The latter to Hermione was the most important of all, and she'd be sure not to misuse it.

"Yeah well," Harry said absently, looking a bit nervous as he spoke, pacing around her rather bare room loudly, blinking rapidly behind his glasses, and resembling a rather twitchy owl. "I hope McGonagall doesn’t have us bunking with first years.”

"Are you alright Harry? You look a little peaky. This may be serious. Do-"

Harry suddenly whirled around, coming to Hermione in a sudden rush of non-contained anticipation. "Hermione, before Ron comes up here I have to ask a favor. It's been weighing on my mind the whole summer."

"Oh sure Harry," Hermione said sitting on her chair placidly, this is what Harry must have been so eager about on the train. Was he planning a surprise for Ron? He looked beside himself and so putting on her most professional look she nodded at him to start.

"Hermione, you know I've been pretty depressed lately," Harry said in a somber voice, "Right?"

"Well," Hermione said mulling the situation over a moment before answering. She was surprised at the topic and liked to give clear, well-thought answers to her friends instead of being rash. "You seemed better now. When you got on the train you seemed different. Happier."

She saw as Harry nodded with a grin, his eyes acquiring a twinkling look that would have rivaled Dumbledore's own. "That's because I have a plan."

Hermione's eyes widened in fear at those words. Those were the words of expulsion if she ever heard it. She quickly covered her ears, shaking her head emphatically as Harry looked to her in shock.

"I REFUSE!" She shouted as she squeezed her eyes shut, "I will NOT risk my life for some little escapade you have planned for us Harry, I simply won't! You may be one of my best friend's but I've worked too hard for my Head Girl title an-"

She felt Harry's hand on her elbow and saw the tears that had begun welling up in his eyes. Slowly her hands were lowered and placed on her lap and her attention was on the sober boy in front of her.

"Hermione," Harry said slowly, his eyes falling to the ground in shame at his emotion. "I want to meet my parents."

Hermione was silent a moment, only the distant sounds from the Great Hall entering into the room and his echoing words in her head. She frowned deeply, feeling her heart thumping painfully against her ribs. What was he saying?

This wasn't natural. He wasn't making any sense. What had Harry gotten up to during the summer? Why was he acting so mad?

"Harry, I don't-"

"Hermione please, I want to meet my parents," Harry repeated as he interrupted in a sudden gust of enthusiasm. Hermione held back another protest and raised an eyebrow in confusion as Harry continued.

"And you're going to help me."

 

Chapter Text

"I didn't think it could work out at first," Harry said excitedly as he continued talking to a remarkably shocked Hermione. "Just think, I'll be able to meet my parents, we’ll be able to save Sirius and Snape and even Dumbledore!" His voice grew dim, "Will you help me?"

It took poor Hermione a full moment to process what Harry had just said and another moment for her to speak in her usual rational tone although her stomach was doing flips. When her answer did come it was short, sweet and very to the point.

"No."

"No?"

"No."

Harry sat on the edge of her bed looking unnaturally solemn. If she hadn't been so logical about everything in life Hermione would have gladly given into her inner desire to make Harry happy, but this idiotic rambling was too much. She refused to indulge his delusions with false promises.

"But Hermione," Harry finally said in a most unbecoming tone. "I need to save them and I need to say goodbye to my parents,” Harry insisted gently. “I need to do this to move on. Once I do this, I’ll be able to move forward.”

Hermione sat with arms crossed over her chest, her mouth slightly parted in shock as she stared in mute horror at Harry. Had he gone mad? Was the murder of Voldemort still affecting him?

Under normal circumstances she would have kicked him out of her new room and said in rather placating tones, "Perhaps you should have a lie-in Harry." and shooed him up to bed. But now looking at the deranged and desperate look on his face she couldn't help but question his thinking.

"Just how do you plan on doing that?" she asked in dull wonder.

"Your time turner."

That was the last straw. Hermione stood with wide eyes as she stared down at the still seated Harry, her head shaking sporadically as she conveyed just what she thought of that plan.

“Harry I know you’ve been under a lot of stress, especially with the end of the wizarding war, but what you’re suggesting is completely insane,” Hermione said carefully, trying not to upset Harry. She loved him dearly and she could see he was in a great deal of pain.  “But this is a horrid plan."

“It’s not,” Harry insisted like a petulant infant.

“It is,” Hermione said firmly. “Not only do you want to do something really dangerous and illegal, but you’re also suggesting we change the future. Harry, you’re smarter than this. You know it’s not possible. One difference and Voldemort could win the war. You may not even be born!”

Harry’s eyes were filling with furious tears that he brushed away with the back of his palm.

“Fine,” Harry said solemnly. “I won’t change the past then. I just want to see my parents. Just for an hour, then we can come back.”

"You don't understand what you're asking of me, it's unfair," Hermione said exasperatedly.  She knew that Harry was struggling but really now, he was verging on mental.  “Aside from the future ramifications, I don't even have the time turner anymore. I gave it back to McGonagall. She won't let me have it back, I guarantee you."

Harry gave Hermione an even look as he stood as well, his eyes flashing at the girl before him who looked completely beside herself. He understood her panic and felt sympathy at the fact that he had caused it, but surely she'd understand in the end. With that he gave a jaunty smirk on his face and answered coyly.

"You have it."

"Excuse me?" her voice had gone dangerously low.

"You heard me," Harry toyed playfully. "You have the time turner. You're taking all those classes again this year."

Hermione was in a state of shock at this exaltation, having decided to keep her classes a secret. In becoming Head Girl she had delegated that she should take as many classes as she could for the sake of a breadth of knowledge to assist her in the Wizarding world.

McGonagall had been reluctant at first to say the least, but after deliberation and many begs and pleads later the Headmistress had finally broken down and allowed Hermione access to the coveted time turner for her final year at Hogwarts.

How did Harry know?

"What are you getting at?" she said dangerously, not appreciating the way Harry was grinning at her with that smug look on her face.

"I read it."

"You read what, exactly?"

"Your timetable. When you were asleep on the train."

"That was you?" Hermione hissed furiously, recalling the flash of movement by her baggage aboard the train.

"And so here we are,” Harry said in a somber tone.  "And we both know that you have the time turner. The only question is are you going to help me?"

“Haven’t I helped you enough?” Hermione shouted, not caring if anyone heard. “I’ve helped you survive attacks, I went on the run to hunt Horocrux’s with you, I have this awful scar because of you!”

At this she raised her arm and showed him the ‘mudblood’ scar in plain sight on her inner arm just below her wrist.  She knew that she was being unfair – it was Bellatrix after all who had given her the scar, not Harry. But Harry winced at this, clenching his jaw resolutely before glancing back at her.

“When will it be enough?” Hermione spat almost disgusted. “Do I have to almost die to show you that I care? That I’m on your side?”

"Hermione. Please listen," Harry said gently, feeling awful. He tried to grip her arm and bring her frantic squeals to a close. She pulled from his grasp on her forearm and sat hastily in her chair.

"I refuse Harry. You ask too much," she was muttering to herself, much like the time they had all spelled Snape in the Shrieking Shack. "I'll be expelled. I'll never get a good job-"

Harry shook his head, getting a bit testy over her selfishness in accordance to the whole situation. "Please just listen Hermione."

Hermione's dark eyes finally made their way up to Harry's face, and with a heavy sigh she sat straighter up in the chair, her lips in a thin line of displeasure as she prompted him to go on with a flippant wave of her hand.

Harry nodded thankfully and stood, pacing a bit before he started his story. It was a hard one, and something he didn't wish to share with many. Deciding that Hermione was the most mature of them all, he was sure she'd be willing to be diplomatic about the whole thing and not pity him in the end.

"I never knew my parent's Hermione. Ever. You're lucky; you've got two that love you so much they send you here whilst they live like Muggles. I've had to live with the Dursley's for a good part of my life, never feeling like I had a family, never understanding them. The only things I've ever heard concerning my parents came from sources like the Dursley's or Dumbledore or Snape."

He winced at the latter, a flashback of the Pensieve coming back to him. He could still hear the smashed container of cockroaches smashing by his head. Snape had been mad then, a crazed look in his tunnel like eyes. He quickly moved past this image, to the one of his parent's embracing and felt a slight tilt to his heart, a warm feeling washing over him as he thought of them. Thought of meeting them.

"What I'm saying is, I want to know what my parents were really like. I want to see my parents when they were happiest, at Hogwarts. Before the war, before they had me," his voice was getting shaky then and it was taking all his willpower not to break down. He knew that deep down he would always blame himself for his parent’s demise.

"I want to know my parents Hermione, if only for one day."

It was then that he saw the lone tear slip from the rigid Hermione's eyes, viewed the quivering lip that threatened to spew out tears of anguish at the sight of her friend's pain. It was at that precise moment that Harry knew he had won.

"I'll think about it."

Harry smiled gratefully, knowing that he needed to give Hermione some time to think. He slowly nodded his head before heading out the door and running directly into Draco.

“Ooof,” Draco grunted, falling to the ground harshly as if the wind had been knocked from his sails. He looked up to Harry with a very strange look on his face.  It wasn’t quite anger or disdain, but more complicated than that. Hermione couldn't quite place it, but she knew she didn't like the sight of it.

The two looked at one another, their eyes fixed upon each other’s face. How strange after all they went through to look at one another like strangers. Finally Harry remembered himself and he extended his hand downwards.

“Sorry about that,” Harry offered kindly. “Wasn’t looking where I was going.”

He may not fully trust Draco, but with the war over he just wanted bygones to be bygones. Harry gave him a strange smile. Draco ignored the handshake, pulling himself to a stand and fixing Harry with a severe look.

“Its fine,” Draco said quietly, reminding Harry of the shadow of whom he once was. He surveyed the boy in front of him with his cold grey eyes, about to say something to Harry when he snapped his mouth shut. “G’night.”

With that Draco had rushed off, leaving Harry looking after him curiously in his wake.

* * *

McGonagall stood sternly at the front of the class, her eyes warily glancing from student to student.  She had decided to teach Transfiguration along with her Headmistress duties. Something Hermione had been very thankful for; she wanted to learn from the best and Minerva McGonagall was the best. 

But even that scholastic coup couldn’t be enjoyed as Hermione sat down on her seat with a sigh, her heart rather heavy today. In even agreeing to think about Harry's  moronic whim last night she'd gone against everything she stood for. Reason. Responsibility. Trust. She looked up to McGonagall’s gently smiling face and felt her stomach twist. She didn’t deserve to wear this Head Girl badge.

Hermione frowned with a small inward sigh. Harry and Ron were waiting for her in the library, finishing their research. She knew Harry would be waiting for an answer to his question. They had decided not to bring Ron into it – that would only complicate things.

But shouldn’t you tell your boyfriend these sorts of things?

Hermione frowned deeply, thinking that perhaps her first instinct should have been to make Ron privy to the stresses she was under. That’s what couples did, right? She idly wondered if she was tired of always having to worry about Ron’s feelings. From the time they were young she had tiptoed around her feelings for him, around his affections and now she was doing it still!

Before her mind could conclude anything else McGonagall had cleared her throat and the room had gone silent. Whilst everyone had feared Professor Snape for his intimidation and crass, the fear chart in McGonagall's class wasn't far behind. Her difference was in her teaching, she wanted the student's to succeed and in there lay her talent. She could command the attention of students without scaring the daylights out of them, and for that they respected her. And feared her a little.

"Class," The woman said in a rapt tone as she stood, surveying the students that milled about and suddenly sat in their seats. Her face looked the same as any other year, her hair pulled back in a tight bun on her head and her gnarled hand grasping her trademark wand.

"Welcome to another year of Transfiguration. I have accepted those of you whom display true talent in the field and have received marks I deem adequate."

Hermione smiled to herself at this, she remembered McGonagall's praise at her O.W.L.S. from her makeup exams at the end of last year, she had worked hard and it had paid off. She put her mind to rest at this as McGongall continued talking, walking up and down the aisles and looking to the various students. Malfoy sat at the back, murmuring to a Slytherin Hermione didn’t recognize, only stopping as the Professor drew nearer. Hermione busied herself with setting up her page of parchment for the day. Name, date, subject, time. She'd be busy tomorrow. She had five classes whereas most of her peers had three.

"As seventh years I expect a lot from you. You are examples for this school. You are what we hope the children of the lesser years grow to be," with this she gave Hermione a small surreptitious smile and headed back to her desk. "With that in mind, I hope that you will all make an effort to try your best and reach your potential."

With every word Hermione felt her confident air and inward beaming wilting. Here McGonagall was going on, praising them whilst she and Harry concocted some plan to go against everything that was right. Hermione glanced down at her Head Girl pin again, remembering the trust placed in her by the Headmistress. 

I need to tell him tonight. No point postponing the inevitable. He’ll be upset with me, but that’s just too bad.

Tonight she would have a talk with Harry.  Her mind was made up.

* * *

She berated herself later in the Room of Requirement, knowing full well that Harry would be here momentarily to ask her what her decision was. And she knew he was going to hate it and the very thought of disappointing him was more than she could take at present. She hated disappointing her friends, especially about something that obviously meant so much to him.

The door to the room opened quickly and Ron and Harry walked in with small smiles on their faces.

“Did anyone see you?” Hermione asked, suddenly paranoid.

“Uh, no,” Ron said with a laugh and a shrug. “I think we passed Malfoy coming up the stairs but I think we’re safe from. . . Blimey Hermione, what are you so paranoid for?”

Hermione’s eyes went to Harry’s and then back to Ron’s.

“Nothing,” she said with a weak smile, pointing to the chairs in front of the fireplace that the room had believed them to require. 

“I thought we could play a game,” Hermione said cheerfully. “Or you two could play wizard’s chess while I read. Like the old times.”

Ron and Harry exchanged a strange look. What was going on with their friend? She looked completely manic then, strolling around the chairs with a perturbed look on her face. While Harry could take a stab at what was upsetting her, Ron looked bewildered.

"I'm actually still hungry from lunch," Ron muttered, breaking Hermione from her reverie of the afternoon's 'delights'.  

“Oh,” Hermione said shaking her head. “Ron I’m so sorry, I didn’t think of food.”

“S’no big deal,” Ron said with a shrug. "I'm gonna go bribe the house elves with some socks or something. Be back in a flash."

Before Hermione could utter a well placed word about S.P.E.W. Ron was already out the door and on his way to the kitchens via some secret passage way. It was she and Harry alone now.

There appeared to be a storm brewing outside, the flickering fireplace suddenly gave Harry and almost unearthly glow about in his glasses. His shadowed face looking more than menacing.

"Well?" he faced her instantly, snapping up the opportunity to talk with her about the developments. She saw the hope that lit in his eyes and witnessed as it faded as he viewed her look of displeasure.

She pulled the time turner out from under her blouse, looking to it and thinking harshly. Was she doing the right thing? Harry was watching her face intently, seeing the inner battle his friend was fighting. Moments later she dropped the pendant slowly and let the heavy piece fall against her chest on its long chain.

"I thought about it and, no, Harry. I can’t do it."

Harry grew tense, nodding at her whilst looking to his bunched up hands. The hair on the back of his neck stood up with anger and his knuckles were slowly turning white.

"Why?"

Hermione held in a sigh. "You remember Dumbledore's speech on time travel. You could be responsible for something that would seriously affect the future. You could be killed; you could get stuck in the past."

"Then come with me."

"McGonagall would kill me!” Hermione exploded, then sensing she needed a different approach stopped. “We aren’t the same people at seventeen and when we grow up Harry. You may not even like your father as a teenager. If anything it may ruin the image you have of him now. Do you want to take that chance?"

Harry looked up suddenly, his lips thinned and responded tersely and Hermione knew she had asked the wrong question. "Yes. I do."

Hermione shook her head, trying to stop the shaking of her hands and stomach. She felt utterly horrible about what she was about to do, and she shook her head. The time turner jangled around her neck as she did.

"I'm sorry Harry. I can't. It's not right."

Harry nodded and stood, looking around her neck when something shiny caught his attention and his lips curved into a small smile.

“Can I just see it?” Harry asked gently. “The Time Turner?”

Hermione noticed his stillness and felt her breath leave her as he quickly plucked the turner from where it lay dangling just above her belly button.  Suddenly his hands started to twist the knobs and Hermione tried to pull back.

"Put it down Harry." she protested, her throat closing in panic. "It's not to be messed about it."

"I will," he said defensively, still gazing hungrily at the time turner in his hands as Hermione tried to pull it from his grip. "I just want to see what it looks like."

"You've seen what it looks like."

"Not up close."

"Put it down Harry," she warned dangerously, "If you don't I'll get McGonagall or . . . I'll get Filch!"

She didn't know why she believed Filch would be a threat to Harry of all people, but for a moment he seemed to relent and she felt her heartbeat slowing to a normal tempo.

"Alright alright," he said holding it out to her. She was reaching out her hand, her heartbeat slowing. That had been a close one.

Suddenly Harry snatched it back to his chest with a stormy look in his eyes and a strange giggle that actually frightened Hermione.

"Give it back. I've made up my mind Harry," Hermione said sympathetically but with a severe detection of stern command as she started to walk over to Harry.  "It's much too dangerous to go rooting about in the pas-"

She was about to continue with, the right thing when she viewed Harry's fingers moving about on the dial and her heart leapt into her throat. How did he know how to turn it? How did he know he’d go to the right time period?

Suddenly Draco appeared in the room, his robes swirling regally behind him as he watched the excited Harry and the horrified Hermione. He had been debating coming in for the last five minutes, but hearing Hermione’s shouts he had decided that the decision had been made. He had heard them talking last night. The time turner was still in her possession! It was then at the moment he walked in that he viewed the small time turner in Potter's hand and his eyes grew wide with possibilities.

Lucius.

Father.

Revenge.

"HARRY STOP!" Hermione shouted, her stomach sinking as the time turner began to whirl. Her eyes widened as she tried to pull Harry from the time turner and smack it out of his hands.

Draco came running from the other side, much to Hermione and Harry's shock. They hadn't even heard him come in. He was trying to grasp the time turner from Harry with a wild look in his light eyes, as all hell broke loose.

"I'm sorry Hermione," Harry breathed earnestly as a small tear trickled down his cheek, the long chain from the time turner linking around their wrists as they all protested, trying to grasp the turner for themselves.

It was at the precise moment that Hermione's hand tried to strike the time turner from Harry's hand and Draco grasped it, that all went white, a spinning feel took them all over and with a brilliant pop they were out of sight.

No one saw their departure in the isolated quarters, and the only almost witness arrived moments later with a armload of pastries in his arms and a smile on his face that quickly disappeared as he viewed the sparse room.

Ron's eyebrows furrowed in sudden confusion and he said the only thing he found appropriate at the current point in time.

"Hey, where'd everybody go?"

Chapter Text

 

"Headmistress?"

The knock and question came upon McGonagall’s door's rather late that night. Her tired eyes were bleary and her eyelids were feeling rather swollen. She'd fallen asleep at his desk again. Obviously teaching and being headmistress was catching up with her.

 She tried to distinguish whose muffled voice that was behind the door in front of him, but still in a sleep-grogged haze mere called out for the individual to enter.

A very tall, very anxious looking Ron Weasley walked in, looking rather shaken and clutching a small piece of parchment in his white knuckled hands. His years of Quidditch had made him lean and muscular, he didn't even resemble the wiry, permanently bewildered boy Minerva had met in his first year. Ron shut the door behind him and marched up to her desk, his eyes wide with fright.

"I knew you'd be able to help," Ron said shakily, "I'm afraid something terrible has happened."

Oh Merlin’s Beard. Voldemort’s dead and still something terrible is happening?

Minerva's sleep fogged head instantly cleared, her heart doing a decided flop in her ribcage. The fact that Ron was so solemn was great cause for alarm. She motioned for Ron to sit in the chair adjacent the desk that he sat behind, looking decidedly wary. Ron slid into the chair, his right leg bouncing up and down absently as he glanced around the office with a pensive look on his face.

"Mister Weasley, what are you talking about?"

Ron suddenly thrust the parchment he'd been holding under the older woman’s nose. Minerva realigned her reading glasses and then taking the parchment from the redhead squinted down at it.

"Ah, the Maurader's Map," Minerva said with a small chuckle, "I remember this. What's the trouble about? Has it been insulting you? I'm afraid they do that from time to time Ron, Profes-"

"No," Ron interuppted, "here."

He was pointing to the map. Several dots were scurrying about on the floor and Minerva could only look to Ron and offer a slight shrug.

"I see nothing Mister Weasley."

"That's just it! Nothing!"

Minerva gave Ron a confused look and frowned deeply, several new creases now starkly evident on the pale forehead of the woman. Ron was positively shaking now, looking a mixture between confused and angry.

"Mister We-"

"Hermione and Harry!" Ron shouted frantically, "They're nowhere! The map, it says they're nowhere. They're not on the map! And when I went to the Room of Requirement they were gone!"

Minerva gave Ron a severe glance, wondering if the boy wasn't up to some Fred and George persuasion. She really hadn't time for jokes this late at night. Hermione and Harry? What would they be doing off Hogwarts grounds? Surely Miss Granger had enough sense not to do something that stupid and Potter, well, the boy was reckless at times he supposed, but only when he needed to be.

"Are you sure you didn't miss their leave Mister Weasley?"

"That's just it," Ron said with a exasperated throwing up of his hands, "I left for the kitchens to get a snack and when I got-"

"You snuck into the kitchen?"

Ron stopped his speech mid-sentence, looking to Minerva in dull shock. Was she really interrupting his tale to berate him about taking food from the kitchen after hours? He wasn’t even a student anymore!  

"Yes, I snuck into the kitchen!" Ron said, rushing on with his story. "I got back and they were gone."

"Are you sure they weren't just playing a prank?"

"They'd be on the map."

"Or sneaking off school grounds?"

"I'd expect that from Harry, but Hermione going against the rules?" Ron said in gruff disappointment at the mere suggestion. "After she just got Head Girl? I think not. If anything she'd talk Harry out of doing something so stupid."

Minerva grew grim, realizing that what Ron was saying was very true. "I see."

"I haven't any clue about where they are," Ron said lamely, collapsing into the chair as the light went on in Minerva’s eyes.

"I can't find Hermione, Harry or..." Ron suddenly grasped the parchment back into his grip, scanning it lightly and added the last name with a grimace,

"Or Draco Malfoy."

* * *

The three of them fell to the ground with a mighty thud, the time turner that Hermione had slapped in her current time now smashed to the ground into several pieces as they three of them fell atop each other, Harry was at the bottom. His glasses were pushing painfully into his cheeks and he rushed to push the other two off of him.

"GET OFF!"

Hermione was sandwiched in the middle and trying to push the still dazed Draco off of her. It took him a full minute to understand where they were and when he did he was horrified.

Draco yelped as he jumped off the pile of writhing Gryffindor's, looking at them in shock. Hermione and Harry staggered to a standing position. Her stomach was still churning from their journey and she glared openly at both of the boys she was with.  

They stood shakily, looking to the room they were in, knowing full well they'd actually traveled to the past. Hermione felt her stomach drop as she viewed the broken time turner once more and shook her head darkly, placing the broken pieces into the pocket of her skirt.

"That's just splendid," she said roughly, "now we have to find Dumbledore and get a new time turner. That is if he doesn’t turn us immediately over to the authorities.”

Draco suddenly wrinkled his pale nose, looking around at the darkened they were encased in. Were they really in the past?  Harry glanced over to the side table next to the bed, seeing the animated photos that waved to him. He held in an excited gasp, about to say something when Draco interrupted.

"Where are we?"

"I know where we are," Harry said softly, gazing around at the room. "We're in the past Head Girl room."

The three of them fell silent, looking to the unfamiliar room. Hermione saw the different layout, the bed that was decorated with red and yellow stripes.  The private bathroom that was off to the right. How had Harry known?

“They used to give the Head Boy and Head Girl their own chambers,” Hermione acknowledged with a nod, remembering that she’d read it somewhere. “Up until a few years before we arrived at Hogwarts. Apparently too much illicit activity went on so they had to stop that part of the programme.”

Malfoy wrinkled his nose in distaste for the array of collectibles. How anyone could live in a room filled with such things was unthinkable. He may have fallen from society’s grace, but he still knew tacky when he saw it.  

Hermione couldn't help but survey their surrounding and noted with great pleasure the extensive amount of books on the shelves and felt herself going closer in curiosity, seeing the impressive titles and realizing that she had several of the same volumes. She viewed the shining prefect badge, gingerly placed in a small stand up box for viewing and decoration.  Obviously this Head Girl had been a Prefect last year.

“This is my mother’s room,” Harry finally offered with a large smile.  Hermione looked to him in surprise before going back to her investigating of the bookshelves. Perhaps something in them could give them a clue as to how to return home. Besides, she wanted Harry to have a moment to collect himself.

Parchment littered her desk, as did books and Harry found himself thoughtfully looking to her writing, noticing the way she wrote was almost identical to his own. He felt a sense of kinship then, felt that this really was where he belonged and that this trip had been worth it, if even only a few moments.

The large closet at the end of the room stood half open, skirts, cloaks and ties were hung up neatly and orderly, much like Hermione's own wardrobe. Draco went around the room sneering and prodding at things on occasion, his eyes fell on the closet and then he took a sweeping look at the room.

“I can’t believe we’re here,” Harry said gently, drawing the attention of Draco from across the room. He saw the wistful look on the boy’s face and held in a grimace.

The two others look at him but said nothing. Harry ignored them, so satisfied with walking around the room and taking it all in. His fingertips trailed along the cottony feel of the bed's blanket, the smooth desktop. He smiled softly, holding in the tears that threatened to fall. He refused to let Draco see him cry.

He saw a small picture of his mother Lily with some other girl, smiling and waving at the camera. He felt his heart skip a beat, it was as if she were waving right at him. He smiled widely, pulling the photo into his hands and Draco glanced over at this.

"She was pretty," Draco murmured absently, looking at the picture in mild interest. "Whoever she was."

Harry made a horrified face, looking to Draco in mute horror."That’s my mother!"

Draco's face dropped as he shook his head. "I wasn't serious." he sputtered, moving away from Harry and slightly shuddering.

Harry shook his head and placed the picture back on the dresser top. He looked around the whole room, the soft smell of perfume playing about around them. This was where his mother slept, this is where his mother studied, this is whe-

"I can't believe you did this Harry," Hermione said furious to Harry as Draco held in a smirk from a few yards away. Harry sighed and tried to ignore her nattering. He wanted to remember all of this without her annoying screech in the background.

"We have to go find a new time turner! You know what's going to happen when we get back? I’m going to be expelled! McGonagall is-"

"Just shut up Hermione, will you?!" Harry seethed angrily, "I've only a little time here, at least let me enjoy it while I can!"

Hermione's mouth snapped shut in humiliation, if Draco hadn't been watching the whole thing she wouldn't have cared, but he was. And even though his gaze was impassive, all the memories of him picking on her surfaced and she felt her fury building.

 “Easy for you to say! You’re off to Auror classes. I’m the only one who has anything at stake!”  

Hermione suddenly whirled around and fixed Draco with an angry look. “And you! What is wrong with you? Why would you come along anyway?"

"I have my reasons," said Draco gently.  

Hermione was about to continue on her lecture of both of their idiocy when there were sudden voices outside the door. She felt her blood run cold as the two voices grew louder.

"I don't see why you're being so difficult about all of this."

"Oh just sod off, Potter!"

The three of them shot looks of equal horror and under Hermione's hissed command followed her into the nearby closet. The three of them fell silent, looking through the small crack in the closet door and holding their breath as they scrunched near the back, hoping that Lily didn't notice that her closet door was now almost firmly shut.

"That James Potter," Lily said angrily as Harry's breath caught in his throat. His Mum was talking about his Dad! He was seeing her in the flesh! This was a strange feeling to encounter as he looked at the contorted anger on his mother's face. Her cheeks were crimson and she looked near tears. His father had done that?

She tossed her books onto her bed and smashed her fists against the desktop as the door behind her slammed shut. Hermione nearly jumped at the sound as they watched the irate young woman in fascination.

Lily was a very pretty girl, evidently in her seventh year judging by her room and headgirl badge. She had rosy cheeks, long dark reddish hair that hung at her slim waist and large green eyes that sparkled. Harry's eyes. She doffed her cloak while still seething and looked past furious, Harry was captivated.

"If I have to put up with him one more time. Ugh. Just because he's Head Boy? Why did he get it anyway? I worked so hard for my position. He just sashays around here all the time, bloody Quiddditch and his stupid hair. It's so unfair!" she continued along her room, muttering to herself in fury.

Harry absently smoothed down his own hair, feeling a small flush starting at his cheeks and neck. His mother didn't even like his dad? He recalled bits and pieces of what Snape had said to him, but he didn’t recall his mother actually hating his father.

Hermione meanwhile was pensively thinking of a way to get them out of danger. Perhaps they could find the past Dumbledore? Would he be of any assistance? Would he turn them over to the authorities? Hermione was mostly worried about being seen by people, she hated to go rooting about in the past, they were sure to screw up history in some way.

Now with Draco in tow this whole situation had escalated to a full out emergency, whilst she had some reason over Harry, she didn’t know how much Draco would care or follow instruction. Not only was he a stubborn boy, he'd evidently come along for alternative reason's the other two knew nothing about. This was worrisome. Surely he'd come to see his father as well, but, Hermione could barely hold in a shudder at that thought. Two Malfoy's.

She viewed absently as Lily fell into the chair at her desk, pulling out some parchment and scribbling something hurriedly. The frustrated tears slipped down her cheeks and she hurriedly brushed them off of her burning cheeks. One tear fell onto the bright white parchment she wrote upon and she wrinkled her nose in distaste as she saw the ink around it smudge. Hermione noted that from where she was viewing, it appeared as if she and Harry had almost the same writing;  scratchy and almost illegible.

Frowning Lily finished off the note with six eyes watching her and blowing on it to aid the ink drying faster, she folded it neatly, pressed her seal in it and whistled for her owl. It arrived quickly, hooting cheerfully and landing on her shoulder. She laughed gently and digging around in her desk found a package of Botts Beans.

"Here you are,” she said as the owl plucked a purplish one from her hand. It chewed thoughtfully as she placed the letter in one waiting claw. It grasped the parchment and took flight around her room, gently floating near her head as it waited for her command.

"Severus Snape," she whispered gently to the owl, giving a sad look out the window as she watched the bird zoom out. Her light eyes followed the bird's venture until it had flown around the other side to the Slytherin Boy's Dormitory and then she whirled around.

Why's she writing to Snape? Harry wondered to himself, I thought she hated him. He called her a Mudblood.

Before Harry could deliberate on this any longer, Lily had stood and was now removing her robe and moving to the closet. Harry's eyes widened and even Hermione was at a loss. Lily was suddenly in front of the wardrobe, folding her robe absently and reaching for the doorknob.

Fuck.

Lily's hand was on the doorknob of the wardrobe.

Hermione's heart was pounding furiously fast and she didn't know what else to do. They would be caught. They would be expelled. This was the end of her wizarding career as she knew it. The doorknob was turning. Hermione closed her eyes, praying for a miracle as Harry and Draco in an odd form of combined panic exchanged worried looks. Just as the door was about to be pulled open, there was a knock at the door.

The trio breathed collective sighs of relief, their heartbeats slowing down as they saw Lily back away from the wardrobe and head over to the door. She pulled it open to reveal a rather handsome looking man with lighter hair and a day’s worth of stubble on his chiseled face.

"Hello Remus," Lily said somberly as the three in the closet looked on in wonder. This was their Professor Lupin? He seemed so painfully shy. He was a peaky looking young man and although tall and lean didn't seem to fit into his own body and under his eyes were dark circles. Lily looked to the teenage boy in front of her patiently.

"What can I help you with?"

"Hello Lily," he said in a soft voice, ever the gentleman. He was a friend of James and therefore expected nothing but hostility. As usual Lily had seen past that and was being as polite as she could muster.  "I wanted to apologize for James’ behavior today-"

"Couldn't apologize himself could he?"

Remus went ashen as he tried to search for the right words. "He didn't think you'd see him. Lily he's truly sorr-"

"No need," Lily interrupted with a wave of her hand. A small scowl entered on her pretty features as she spoke next. "That's just how Potter is, isn't it?"

Harry's stomach did a flip as he watched and heard his mother speak so furiously about his father. Had he been that horrible? What could he have possibly done?

"He feels really bad though Lily," Remus said anxiously, "I swear. He's-"

"I don't want to talk about it Remus," she interrupted again stubbornly, folding her arms over her chest and looking to the floor. She was furiously shaking her head slightly and her voice was laced with pity. "He was really horrible to Severus today. So horrible."

Hermione felt a pang of sympathy then for her Potion's professor, Harry had told her of their shared and how he suffered. She understood his hatred for Sirius and his love for Lily and she knew that he had done his fair share of being a prick. But sitting there in the closet and listening to Lily talk, Hermione couldn't help but start to despise James a little, knowing what Snape had done for them all.  

"But it wasn't just James. Sirius and I-"

"James Potter can think for himself can’t he?" Lily demanded furiously, moving towards Lupin as he backed away slowly. "He thinks he can swagger about talking about Quidditch and acting like a snob to everyone else. You and Sirius and that little prat that follows you around are no better."

"But Lily, you're not even listening!" Remus said adamantly, he tried to speak rationally, appealing to Lily with logic. He knew how much James' actions had hurt her and he desperately wanted to make peace. "If you'd just lis-"

"I'm sick of listening," Lily said pushing Remus out of her room and looking at him with fury. The words she spoke next hurt Harry more than he could ever explain, and hearing them from his mother's lips were more crushing a blow than ever thought imagined.

"I hate James Potter."

With that she slammed her door in Remus' face and whirled around furiously, her heart pounding from the confrontation and a grimace on her face.

The three in the closet hadn't even had a chance to panic when Lily suddenly rushed over to the closet and threw the doors open to reveal one scared Malfoy and Granger and one emotionally crushed Harry Potter.

Chapter Text

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOT DOING IN MY CLOSET!"

Lily's face was a mixture of fright as well as anger at being invaded. She looked to see that her clothes hadn't been trampled upon and then looked back to the almost shaking trio.

"Uh," Hermione started as the two boys looked to her, hoping for her to say something brilliant. Sadly Hermione often depended on books for such occasions, and thinking on her feet today just didn’t seem to be working.  She finally choked out another "Uh" before Lily got exasperated and looked to the faces of the two boys.

"Well?" She asked furiously, wondering if they'd heard or said anything. Merlin knew how long they'd been hiding in her bloody closet! Her eyes caught those of the dark haired boy, his eyes reflecting her own. She felt her breath catch in her throat; there was something about this boy that was so familiar yet foreign. He smiled softly at her, not breaking the eye contact and she was about to say something to him when the blonde boy spoke.

"Well that's the last time I leave you with directions," Malfoy said loudly, brushing his arms off as if they were dusty from travel, looking to the two of them to do the same. They began frantically brushing their arms in mute horror, watching for his lead.

Draco Malfoy wasn't in Slytherin for nothing. Lily watched him in subtle, wary interest. She couldn't help but notice he reminded her a hell of a lot of one of Snape’s rude friends, and instantly she didn't trust him.

Malfoy stepped out of the closet, smiling gentlemanly at Lily and nodding in respect before he straightened, a particular glow about him then.

"My name is Draco," he said regally bowing to her, then seeing her eyebrow raised he went on. "Draco M-Draco Parkinson. And you are?"

Harry and Hermione stifled laughter as he spoke, and couldn't help but be impressed with him. Malfoy Parkinson indeed. Although they had to wonder, where was this all going?  How was he planning on getting them out of this one?

"Lily Evans,” Lily said before turning her attention to Harry and Hermione. "And you two are?"

"We're on leave from our own Wizarding School," Draco interrupted dramatically, looking around Lily's room as if for the first time. "Your Headmaster Dumbledore. . .You mean he didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

"Well, you're Head Girl, are you not?"

"I am indeed," Lily said, trying to look more authoritative than she felt. This Parkinson boy was a sneering intimidation machine. She felt he was trying to fool her, and this set her on defense.

"Well then," Malfoy said, "He should have told you that we were to arrive. Exchange students from another Wizarding school."

"That still doesn't explain why you were in my closet."

"Ah," Draco said off handedly, "That was a minor miscalculation. You see my assistant Miss Lockheart miscalculated where we were supposed to end up. We were supposed to Apparate into the main foyer, but as it turns out you can't Apparate on Hogwart's grounds."

Assistant? Lockheart?! Hermione felt a flash of angry crimson shoot up her neck and had to wrestle internally within herself to stop from throttling the little prick. Lily though, seemed none too impressed with the haughty blonde.

"I'm aware you can’t."

"Well then," Draco said snippety at her rude tone. "Then you see that we had no other choice but to travel by floo and I’m afraid we miscalculated. You see we were supposed to go to the Head Faculty room. But we ended up here."

Lily looked to her fireplace in mild interest and then back to the three teenagers standing in front of her, shifting uneasily from foot to foot. That explained a bit but, not much.

"And you all hid in my closet, why?"

"Yes well," Draco stammered a moment, "Pot- Harry here is half Muggle."

At this Lily shot Harry and intrigued look before Draco went on emphatically. "And as such, he suffers from the Muggle malady agoraphobia."

"Fear of open places?"

Draco looked mildly perturbed that she knew what he was talking about, but nodded nonetheless as Harry stood by in idle frustration.

Brilliant, Harry thought dimly. So far he looked like a royal bloody moron. A scared one at that.

"So we rushed him into your closet so he could regain his composure when you burst in and scared us half to death."

Lily glanced over at Harry. "He seems fine now."

"It comes and goes."

Lily seemed more at ease as Hermione and Harry nodded, trying to look authentic. She glanced at their robes, which seemed a bit different from her own, but not much. They wore the same trousers and in the girl's case, skirt and blouse. She gave them a scrupulous look, circling them halfway and the stopping as she spoke.

"Let's see your wands then."

Draco, Harry and Hermione all dug around in their robes, grasping the handles of their wands and dragging them out for Lily's inspection. She glanced from Hermione's to Draco's, and her eyes stopped on Harry's.

"Is that an Ollivander wand?"

Harry felt his heart thump happily as he nodded, the adrenaline of actually having a conversation with his mother threatening to take him over. Harry was furious for not thinking of something before Draco, but now as he finally looked to his Mother, the one who had loved him so much all he could utter a f a feeble: "Yeah."

Lily smiled grandly, looking more like Harry than she realized and then brought out her own wand as she compared the too. "Mine is too. You must go to a school nearby if you pick up your supplies at Diagon Alley."

"Oh."

“Do you play Quidditch?” Lily asked with a gentle smile. This Harry boy seemed gentle and in a strange way, familiar when she looked at him.

“I do,” Harry nodded with a broad smile. “I’m a seeker.”

“Oh,” Lily nodded enthusiastically. “I really enjoy watching the games.”

"As fascinating as all this is," came Hermione's polite tone, interrupting the two, "I think we need to speak to the Headmaster. It's quite urgent."

Lily looked perturbed at being interrupted in the middle of a conversation she found quite intriguing and scowled at the big haired brunette girl a few yards away. Then realizing her position of Head Girl suddenly got a very impressive air and began speaking rather authoritative to the three.

"Which school did you say you were from?"

The three of them exchanged surreptitious looks of worry; their minds whirring as they tried to think of one Lily wouldn't know anything about. But judging by her Head Girl status, and the array on books on her shelves, it didn't seem that was probable.

"Surely not Beauxbatons?" she said with a laugh, "You don't seem the types," she glanced Draco up and down a moment, "except maybe you."

Draco smirked. "Actually we're from, Longbottom Academy, and we need to speak with the Headmaster right away."

Lily glared at Draco a moment and was about to speak furiously at the rude young man when Harry interjected politely.

"You see," he added gently, "We're very tired from the trip, and we’d really just like to talk to Dumbledore.”

Lily regarded Harry a moment before she motioned for the three of them to follow her out the door, swinging it open.

Peter Pettigrew stood there, his hands up and fat head at a slight angle, as evidence that he'd been spying upon them a good few minutes. Lily growled lowly, looking at him with sudden disdain as Harry and Hermione had to bite back the growls that were building in their own throats.

"What are you doing here?" she spat, eyeing his pathetic frame with anger. The mass of jelly was sweating profusely, his beady eyes wandering over the four of them.

"Oh...L-lily," the sputtering simp went on, "I was just passing er...here and I happened to hear shouts. I-I came to see that you were alright."

"In other words, James Potter sent one of his followers to spy on me," Lily said shoving the pudgy teen out of her way. "Well you can tell him I said for all of you to sod right off."

Peter scowled at her, offering a muttered hiss as he backed away, still straining to hear their conversation. Lily turned to look at the three future Hogwarts students and tilted her head to the left.

"This way."

Peter sputtered a few more minutes, eyeing the three of them as they came glowering at him out of Lily's chambers. How Harry wanted to kill him then, smash his ugly face into the stone walls. How dare the loathsome rat even come NEAR his mother? But remembering Dumbledore's advice about altering the future he kept to himself and simply glared at the pudgy teen spotted with acne.  

When they were all out of earshot from the quivering mass of the spy Peter Pettigrew, Lily turned to them speaking hurriedly.

"I may not like James Potter and his lot -you'll find out who they are soon enough- but, I don't trust that one especially," she motioned over her head where Peter had been. "I know for a fact he's mixed up with You-know-who."

"The Dark lord?" Draco said, trying to be nonchalant as Harry and Hermione shot him looks of angered perturbed worry behind Lily's currently turned back.

"Of course the Dark lord," Lily said as if it were obvious. "Anyway, just stay away from him and that ilk. That includes a certain tosser by the name of Lucius Malfoy."

"Who's he?" Draco said through clenched teeth, trying to be inquisitive without being obvious. Lily didn't seem to care as she took them through the familiar corridors of Hogwarts.

"He's a rich snob who graduated from here years ago. He and a few others here at Hogwarts are into the Dark Arts," Lily said as she opened one of the doors, as Hermione stopped Draco from lunging at her. "He comes by every so often to visit with his friends. I wish the Headmaster would do something to stop it."

"Why doesn't he?" asked Harry.

"Hogwarts is a very safe school and the Headmaster is a busy man," Lily said with a shrug as she looked to Harry briefly, "And he trusts his students to make good choices. Anyway, here's his office. I'll just wait outside in case you need a guide."

"No I-" Draco started before Hermione elbowed him in the ribs roughly as she turned on a wide smile for Lily.

"That'd be lovely. Thanks."

* * *

Back in the future, Minerva and Ron were still huddled around the Marauder’s Map, looking at the dots and frantically scanning it for Draco, Hermione and Harry.

"Well this is just nonsense," Minvera babbled as she stood behind her desk pacing frantically then, looking to Albus’ sleeping portrait before glancing back at Ron.

Ron watched in anxiety as his former professor frantically paced around the room as she'd been doing for a good fifteen minutes. Ron was decidedly peeved at his friends, thinking that this may be a prank on him, and then he could almost hear Hermione’s berating tone of voice in his head.

Oh yes Ron, that's why we brought along Malfoy.

True. They may have a strange alliance with the boy, but they sure wouldn’t be bringing him along for fun and pranks. No, something sinister was going on here.

Ron looked back over to Minerva who seemed strained, her normally conservative stance leaving her. Ron supposed that's what happened when the Head Girl and Boy who lived disappeared.

He wished he could help, but he himself had no bloody idea as to where his friends had gone. And why would they go with Malfoy anywhere? Or why would Malfoy- --

Suddenly fear clutched him.

"You don't think this may have been a trick by Malfoy do you?" Ron asked shakily, "I mean, isn't it a little too convenient that he and Hermione and Harry -who he has always hated- all go missing at the same time? I mean it makes sense. We don’t actually know where Malfoy’s allegiance was at the end of the war! Maybe this was all just a revenge tactic, involving Hermione and Harry."

Albus couldn't help but pity the young Malfoy, after all he'd been through and all. The death of his father, his Mother being sent to St. Mungo's (luckily not many knew about that) and still he’d returned to Hogwarts to complete his final year. But still, the situation did seem highly suspicious.

"It’s something to consider, Mister Weasley.”

Ron nodded graciously, "what should we do then?"

Minerva frowned, more creases starting in her forehead, and then offered a solemn and authoritative nod of her head.

"For tonight I think it would be best that we don't speak of this to anyone. For all we know it could just be a small prank, or something else as equally trivial. There's no point in scaring the students into thinking its Voldemort's return something equally foolish. The war is over but the tension is still here. If anything happens, or I change anything I'll let you know."

Ron nodded as he made his way to the door. He'd just opened it and was about to step outside when Minerva’s voice reached him and he stopped.

"And please Mister Weasley, don't do anything stupid."

* * *

Hermione followed the boys into the unwarded office of Albus Dumbledore, thanks to Lily the Head Girl. Obviously times had changed. Students back in Lily's day were more trustworthy.

Harry had busied himself with looking around the office, not wanting to touch anything. He saw Fawkes sleeping in the corner. He smiled at this, a little melancholy that their adventure was almost over. His heart beating quite quickly at the thought of seeing him once more, alive and in the flesh. They were all quiet, anticipating the arrival.

"He's not here."

Hermione looked up from her gaze around the office and let it fall on a sneering Draco. Suddenly what Draco had said made a resounding clunk in Hermione's mind and she whirled around the office and then faced him once more.

"What do you mean he's not here?" Hermione said frantically, her dark eyes widened in fright while she paced around the Headmaster's office. "He has to be here."

"Well unless he gets kicks off of wearing Invisibility Cloaks around the office," Draco observed as he kicked the nearby footstool, "he's not bloody well here."

Hermione sighed deeply, angry tears starting at the corner of her eyes. "Well this is just fantastic. Thanks a lot Harry." with this disparaging and regrettable comment she let her face fall into her hands as she tried to calm down.

"Oh just stop it." Harry said frustrated yet secretly delighted at this turn in actions. Perhaps he'd see his dad after all. Honestly, Hermione was overreacting as usual. They were here – what would an hour or two extra really cost them?

Hermione stood, shaking from fury as well as pure panic. "I will not just stop it! This is a serious situation Harry and you’re both not seeming to understand that, otherwise you wouldn’t have stupidly shot yourself back through time!”

Harry scowled deeply as Draco watched in mild interest a few feet away. So things were a bit tense in the Granger - Potter circle of friendship. He could barely contain a smile.

"It's not as bad as all that! Don't things usually turn out well in the end?" Harry said desperately, trying to get that scowl from her face. Hermione's voice grew low and dark as she spoke next.

"Tell that to Cedric Diggory."

Hermione's stony face was emotionless and Draco from the corner offered a low whistle of surprise. "Low blow on that one Granger."

"Oh just sod off!" The two exclaimed simultaneously, then slinging their arms over their chests the two walked away from each other. Harry to the window, and Hermione to the door. She pulled it open with a thundering swoosh to reveal a confused looking Lily.

"Well?"

"He's not here," Hermione said angrily through clenched teeth, trying to be calm. Lily looked confused a moment, her nose wrinkling up in surprise before realization flashed in her eyes.

Lily suddenly went a slight shade of pink as she looked to Harry and Draco who had come out of the office as well. Seemed there were three enemies now.

"Oh, I completely forgot," Lily began blushing madly, "it’s dinner! C'mon, you can find Dumbledore there."

The three exchanged looks of equal disdain and followed the now exuberant Lily down the hall, tired, worried and now above all hungry.

“How do you know Dumbledore won’t throw us out? Or hex us?” Draco asked Hermione in a forceful whisper, suddenly very concerned.

"Well if Dumbledore now is anything like he is in the future," Hermione whispered back fiercely, "I'd say we're in good hands."

The three didn't speak for the rest of the way to the Great Hall, the rumbling of their stomachs from the smells emitting from the hall were embarrassing. Suddenly without warning the door slammed open from one side, as a tall and handsome man entered out of it.

He was lean and tall, he had glasses over light eyes, his dark hair fell into his eyes and a small cowlick at the back of his head was the instant affirmation of who Harry believed it to be.

Its my dad" Harry observed in dull shock as he watched the tall teen. Hermione saw Harry start and her eyes drew over to the figure. Normally she would have engaged in his surprised fancy, and even joined in on the joy that this experience must be bringing him. But she was still furious with him and refused to bow down, especially after he'd been so cruel to her despite what she'd done for him.

She looked to James in interest though, after all she'd heard from Harry, he was just as she imagined him to be.  Egocentric perhaps, his hair was purposely messy. Strong jaw, handsome features and she assumed a well-toned body under the robe he wore. Even the way he wore his robe gave an aura of cool superiority to his peers. A self-assured smile here, a wink there and he'd have any fan girl running.

But not Lily.

James' gaze fell on Lily's as her back straightened in growing apprehension. All body language pointed to stiff anger and resentment, even Harry could see that. Lily looked to her troupes behind her and prepared to move past the desperate looking James Potter as he waltzed over to them.

"Lily," he said softly coming up to her, his eyes searching her blushing face. "I trie-"

"This is the Great Hall," Lily said turning around and talking to the three of them, promptly ignoring the crestfallen James. Harry could only gape at his father, the man that he had always wanted to be. James bloody Potter, alive and here.

"Lily," James said cooly, making it quite evident that he was above begging for forgiveness. Harry wondered what his dad had done that was so wrong this time. Couldn't be worse than the Snape underpants debacle could it?

"I don't have time for games Potter," Lily said in a warning tone, motioning to the three behind her, looking sheepish and inquisitive. James let his eyes fall on the three of them a moment before capturing Lily's face with them.

"You have no rig-" James tried to say roughly, hoping to convey emotion whilst still looking respectable in front of his peers. Lily didn't seem to want to hear any excuses though, she looked impossibly furious and leaned forward to show her malice.

"You were impossibly cruel," Lily said scathingly, poking James' muscled chest with one finger forcefully. "How could I ever fancy a man who humiliates his peers for no reason?"

"No reason?" James almost bellowed, drawing stares from students heading into the Hall. "Didn't you see what happened? He was ready to bloody well hex me for-"

"Perhaps you deserved it," interrupted the laconic reply from behind Hermione and the rest of the group.

Hermione felt an instant jolt of shock course through her as she realized only one man, even as a teenaher could sound so silkily contemptuous with such deliberate pauses in speech. She didn't dare look around; for fear that she may jump or scream in fright. She instead looked to the faces of Harry and Draco, both of which looked surprised as well as a bit frightened. She remained still, not able to see and not wanting to for the moment.

James looked over the heads of the group and sighed angrily. This little twerp was the cause for this anxiety. This hook nosed, sallow faced, brainiac who knew more dark curses than James knew in Quidditch plays. He said the only thing his weary and overworked brain could muster.

"What do you want Snivellus?"

"Brilliant nickname Potter," came the quiet reply. Hermione had far before learned that the softer and quieter Snape spoke, the more dangerous he was. And at this moment, his silken voice was like a light breeze. "Not out with your dog? Shame. They say dog's are a man's best friend-" he was about to go on when James interrupted haughtily.

"Hmmm friends. Something you'd know nothing about then eh Snapey?"

“Oh enough,” Lily said, breaking the tension. Hermione felt the breathing of Snape quicken in regulation, he couldn't have been more than five steps away from Hermione. He was obviously growing angry at James comment. Lily must have seen this as a look of quiet desperation crossed her features.

"James, Severus," she said cordially, motioning to the three future students. "These are transfer students from Longbottom Academy. This is Harry, Draco an-"

"You play Quidditch Harry?" James interrupted interestedly, shooting a snotty glance at Snape before resuming his interested look at Harry who was elated.

"Erm, a bit," Harry said nervously, barely being able to find his voice. It had become cracked and hoarse, and he felt himself growing embarrassed at his lack of cool in front of his dad. "I was a seeker."

"Brilliant," James said interestedly, "You should come out to the matches sometime. Maybe I can find you a place on the team." he leaned forward gently, trying to look as if he was letting Harry in on a big secret. "It’d do some good to get some new blood on the team."

"Yes well," Hermione said in her usual tone, reddening as everyone looked to her. "We actually probably won't be staying that long."

"And you are?"

The voice behind her was flat, emotionless and she couldn't tell if he really even cared. But given the fact that he had indeed asked, Hermione bottled her courage and gently turned to face him.

Severus Snape.

He was as tall as he was in the future which meant he still towered slightly over her, adding to his intimidation. His dark hair ended just below his ears and his nose still ran rampant over his other features. Even as a young man he had been striking looking and sullen.

Strangely enough Hermione felt a desire to hug him as she looked to that young face, knowing what he’d be going through in the future. Of the pain and the agony and the broken heart he would be living with until he died at the fangs of Nagini. A death that he didn’t deserve.

Of course she refrained, instead taking the time to take in the rest of him. He was pale, his long fingers as tapered as in older years, but fresher looking, not so worn. He was in his trademark stance, arms crossed and a look of narrowed superiority about him. His eyes darted around her face, looking at her as if sizing her up.

She instantly crossed her own arms in defense from his penetrating gaze, part of her hoping he wasn't trying to get into her mind. She watched his lithe frame remain completely still as he watched over her, as an animal would prey.

Hermione would later recall that she found the younger Snape slightly friendly at first, even pleasant. But that could be the future clouding her judgement. Then of course younger Snape did what older Snape was infamous for in managing to ruin a perfectly good moment.

He spoke.

"Oh, don't tell me. Let me guess. One of Potter's fans?"

He quietly said the words laced with formidable repugnance, and Hermione felt her cheeks flaming. How dare he? Snape paused a moment, savoring the insult he'd just bestowed on her. Draco chortled a few feet away, perhaps on instinct and Snape gave him a hidden approving look.

His lips barely moved as he spoke, and as Hermione stewed about in inner anger, the lips of her former professor curved up into an oily smirk.  Harry watched the interaction in a detached fashion, not quite believing what he was seeing. He too had the strange desire to rush forward and thank Snape for all he had done for them, for the order. But he held back, his eyes watching the tall figure sizing Hermione up and suggesting she was a fan of his father.

“Only fools make judgements without facts,” Hermione finally offered flatly casting a dark look in his direction.

Lily, trying to rectify the moment stepped forward and glancing between the turned Hermione and the now glaring Snape, interjected.

"This is Hermione, Severus," Lily said softly. “Hermione Lockheart.”

 Snape didn’t reply, instead glancing Hermione over one more time before glaring at the little group culminated in the hallway and whipping around on one heel, he entered the Great Hall.

Hermione was offended as she watched him, thinking it strange that Professor Snape had managed to insult her in the past and the future. Seems some things never changed she supposed. He’d truly always been a git. All her admiration she had felt for the double agent were suddenly melting away and she was left wondering; could she idolize a man who had done such good when he was also so cruel?

He swept from the room, the cloaks only adding to the mysterious drama of it all. There was something delicate about him when he walked, along with its unseen power. He strode swiftly wherever he went, and Hermione found herself thinking he must have been the perfect spy for Voldemort.

"That," Lily said with a saddened voice, "is Severus Snape."

The three didn't answer, only moved to follow Lily and the now furious James into the Great Hall. He didn't bother to say anything to Lily, and instead pulled Harry aside and offered him a seat next to him at the table where they could talk about Quidditch more at leisure. Harry had nearly wet himself in excitement.

The rest of them headed to the other end of the Gryffindor table as Hermione noted Dumbledore talking animatedly with another Professor. Now was a bad time; they needed to approach him when he was more isolated.  In the meantime, dinner was served and it smelled delicious. They all clunked into their seats at the Gryffindor table and Lily began talking with her other friends.

"I'm not feeling so well," Draco said lazily, his hands in his pockets as he surveyed the busy and jubilant hall. His eyes had wandered over to the Slytherin table and saw the isolated form of Snape, his eyes stuck in a book.

"I'm going to just take a walk outside."

Hermione looked to him warily and just as he was about to exit she grasped his wrist, which he immediately pulled away from as a certain Slytherin watched on in interest at the interaction from his seat.

"What are you doing?" Draco hissed, clutching his wrist as if he'd been burned. The rest of the table was immersed in talks of exams and luckily didn't hear. Hermione ignored Draco's sneer and whispered fiercely.

"Don't be long. We have to meet up with Dumbledore soon."

Draco made a face and was about to go outside for some air, walking by the Slytherin table when suddenly he caught Severus’ frame near the end of the Slytherin table.  

Draco's eyes darted back to the Gryffindor table and then back to Severus who sat at the end of the table alone, reading while he ate.

"Mind if I sit down?" Draco said, motioning to the array of empty chairs around Snape.  The young man glanced up and gave Draco a sneering look before glancing back at his book.

"If you must," he said out the corner of his mouth.

Draco slipped into the chair, happily picking up a spoon as he prepared to eat the newly delivered soup. Snape was interested in a book in his hands, his hair over his face as he read rapidly, licking his fingertips and turning pages at a remarkable speed. Draco was searching his mind for something to say, to see if he could turn the conversation towards his father.  

"So you’re an exchange student, Dragon?" Severus said smirking lightly as he finally glanced up from his book.

"Draco. And yes,” Draco said tearing a piece of bread and buttering it lightly, trying to seem aloof and cool. Obviously it was working because Severus was intently looking to him. He took in the porcelain complexion of his former Professor, almost in awe of the youthful assurance and power he exuded.

"Are you from pureblood family?” Snape asked bluntly, taking a small sip of his drink.

"I am," he puffed out his chest proudly.

“I see,” Snape nodded, taking in the blonde form across from him. He reminded him quite a bit of Lucius. Perhaps another welcome addition to the Dark lord's army, Snape mused. The Dark Lord was always pleased when he brought a new brother or sister into the fold. They ate in stony silence before Snape spoke up, lowly and thoughtful.

"You go to school with that rude girl?"

Draco looked up in surprise, his face alight with interest and humor. "Yeah."

Snape nodded, taking a sip of juice. "Is she always like that?"

"Like what?"

"Acting like she knows everything?"

Draco smirked and nodded, "she's usually worse."

Snape nodded once more, looking over top the tip of his book from behind his curtain of hair, to the down turned face of the rude girl, Hermione. Her cheeks were rosy from the steam emitting from the soup, her reddened mouth downturn in displeasure.  She bothered him, greatly. How dare she insult him? Of all bloody people? Evidently she didn't know who he was, but he’d show her.

Hermione looked to her soup in disconcerted anxiety. This stupid trip was turning out to be much more time consuming and emotionally taxing than she'd ever thought. Would Dumbledore be able to help them? She didn't know why, but she felt the compulsion to look over to the Slytherin table but refused. She instead let her eyes look around the Hall as if observing.

"Why's your friend er, Dragon sitting at the Slytherin table?" Lily suddenly piped up.  

"Draco's always been sort of… Social like that," Hermione offered lamely as she looked up and let her eyes fall on enigmatic Snape talking with Draco. My how youth changed a person.

"He really shouldn't mess about with Snape ," Lily said in a low voice. "Snape's another one into the Dark Arts. Knew more dark curses in first year than Seventh years."

"Oh," Hermione said, acting as if she didn't know all of this. Her eyes drew back to the pale figure. Suddenly Snape's eyes darted over to her as if expected, and he raised a quizzical eyebrow in her direction. She immediately averted her eyes, staring pointedly at her soup as she tried to hold down a humiliated blush.

"Don't worry," Lily said, seeing the interaction. "He's rude to everyone, you mustn't mind him."

"I don't," Hermione lied, looking to her nearly empty soup bowl. She looked up to where the teacher's usually ate, and saw to her shock that Dumbledore was suddenly gone.

Bollocks.

"We better go see Dumbledore." Hermione said standing quickly, Lily prepared to do so as well. "Oh no, don't worry about it. I think we know our way around, but thanks for your help."

"No problem," Lily said genuinely, "I hope we can become friends while you’re here."

Hermione nodded back, smiling at the kinship she felt with Lily. "I'd like that. I suppose I'll see you around then."

She walked up the table, waving to Lily and tapping an excitedly conversing Harry on the shoulder. He looked up to her with anguish pooling in his eyes. Seeing her there meant that their time was almost over. Suddenly as a distraction to himself he spoke loudly.

"Guys, this is Hermione. She's a transfer student from my school. Hermione, these are the guys."

Hermione looked around the table as the young men introduced themselves. Hermione already knew Peter who sat in the corner of the table, picking away at his meal and occasionally glancing up at Hermione to give a wan smile.

"I'm Remus," Lupin said with a warm handshake as he smiled up at her from his seat.

“Pleasure," Hermione said as she looked to the scruffy young man, remembering him from earlier on. Hermione knew for a fact that he was as sweet as he looked.

A handsome young man from across the table leaned over, capturing Hermione's hand in his own and pressing his lips to her knuckles. Hermione blushed and giggled, knowing full well whom this was.

"Sirius," Black said with a boyish grin, "And believe me, the pleasure is all mine."

Hermione felt the blush rising more readily as she glanced at Sirius' handsome face and hair sloppily seductive. Add in a remarkable firm jaw and kissable looking lips, and you had a heartthrob any young witch wanted to get into the sack.

"It was nice to meet all of you," Hermione said when the introductions were complete, "But we have a meeting to go to. Harry, shall we?"

“Just five more minutes?"

"No Harry," Hermione said sternly, trying to be patient. "Now would be best."

Harry made a face at her, and then promising James and the rest of them that he'd see them the next day at Quidditch practice stood, and slowly walked with Hermione over to the Slytherin table.

"Why'd you say you'd meet them tomorrow?" Hermione whispered angrily, "You know we're leaving in a matter of minutes. As soon as we see Dumbledore."

Harry shrugged, absently ruffling his hair a moment in wistful hope. "I wanted it to be true."

Hermione wanted to say more but stopped herself; this was hard enough as it is. She noticed that the Slytherin house members were all sneering and making rude faces at them, and she tried to ignore them as she and Harry advanced on Draco.

"Then it’s decided,” Snape was saying as Hermione walked up behind Draco with her arm extended. Snape’s eyes snapped up to her hand and he made a face at Draco. "Watch out Parkinson. You’re nursemaid is here.”

Draco whirled around, glaring at Hermione openly. "If you don't mind, we're trying to have a conversation."

Hermione noted the approving way that he and Severus exchanging smirks of delight. Hermione in a daring move glanced at Snape, seeing that now he was staring at her as well.

“Draco,” Hermione said with a warning tone. Draco rolled his eyes dramatically in response.

"Time for me to leave," Draco said standing and breaking the gaze Hermione had been holding with Snape. Draco leaned forward to Snape and the two of them exchanged a murmured conversation. Hermione didn’t want to eavesdrop but she distinctly heard the term mudblood and felt herself tense as Snape’s eyes snapped over to her openly. He obviously didn’t care if she’d heard.

Hermione felt the tears starting at the corner of her eyes; evidently Draco had mentioned her heritage. She reeled in humiliation as Draco made his way back over to her.

“What are you staring at?” Snape said irritably, the smile dropping from his face as he realized Hermione was staring at him furiously.

“Not much,” she replied angrily before heading out the door as the two boys headed for the door with her in close pursuit.  

* * *

"Come in," Came the almost melodic voice of their former Headmaster. Hermione gave a hopeful glance at the two who looked utterly disenchanted with the whole idea as she swung the door open. Dumbledore sat at his hearth, looking into the crackling flames and now at the three that had entered his chambers. It smelled of lemon, and several cloaks were strewn about on the backs of chairs.

Dishes of candy were littered about on tables and a few chairs were huddled around the fireplace. Dumbledore looked a bit younger, but not by much. Him looking the same actually brought Hermione a bit of relief as the reluctant boys followed her in. Harry held back the urge to throw himself into the man’s arms and break down.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry I let you die.

"Why hello," Dumbledore said standing and coming over to them, "I don't believe I know you three."

"We’re students of Hogwarts from the future,” Hermione said boldly, knowing that it wasn’t a time to mince words. They needed his help and fast.  Dumbledore looked at the three young people in front of him, squinting slightly at the girl’s words.

"The future?"

Harry nodded lightly, feeling the fatigue of the moment settling over him. He’d been keyed up all day, and after actually meeting his parents and the rest of the Marauders he was feeling exhausted.

Albus believing this to be a hallucination offered the only thing he knew how.

"Tea?"

The three shook their heads and took the seats soon offered by the Headmaster. "So," he said stirring his own cup, "I’m afraid I can’t see how I may be of service, but I’ll still ask; what can I do for you three?"

"Well, my name's Hermione," Hermione said in a hurried tone, "And I promise what I have to say won't take up much of your time..."

With this Hermione launched into her story, her hands moving as fast as her mouth as Dumbledore sat patiently in his chair nodding and listening. She told him of the time turner and how integral it was that nothing be changed. She didn’t mention the end of the war or, more importantly, Dumbledore’s death. When she'd finished her story, and he his tea, he placed the empty cup on the table and folded his hands.

"I'm your Headmaster in the future?"

"Erm...yes sir."

"And you've traveled back in time to see James and Lily?"

Yes."

"And now you can't get back."

"Yes sir."

"Hmmm...I suppose it all makes sense."

"Anyway sir," Hermione said in worried anticipation that he'd call the Ministry on them. "You've always helped us in the future, and I was wondering if you could help us now."

"Why of course," Dumbledore said nodding, looking to the three of them with the utmost of sincerity. "I shall do my best."

"Alright then," Hermione said joyfully, knowing that all along Dumbledore was their best source of help. "All we need now is a new time turner."

"A new time turner?" Dumbledore said with a laugh, his blue eyes twinkling. "Why, those haven't even been approved by the Ministry yet."

At his laugh and those words, Hermione's stomach sank in fear. "What are you trying to say?" she choked out in a high pitch.

Dumbledore looked to her in intensity, wondering if the girl was serious about the time turner. Seeing her grave look he himself sobered and spoke hesitantly.

"My dear, Time turners are illegal."

Chapter Text


Dumbledore looked grim as he'd realized Hermione was serious about the time turner. He'd gone slightly pale in the face, his voice hitching.

"I will try my best to find a way for your return home. All that’s within my power. Meanwhile as you've already been seen, I shall find you accommodations here and you shall attend classes. We mustn't rouse suspicion and whatever you do, do not tamper with the past. Go to classes, eat your meals, keep your heads down, do you understand me?"

The three of them had nodded, listening politely. Dumbledore noticed only the Hermione girl looked actually upset. The boys looked rather chuffed, their eyes sparkling as they realized their time would be extended.

"Now I’ll assign you all to the Gryffindor House," he had started, looking to them for reassurance. “Lily will be sure to take good care of you.”

“Sounds good,” Harry said with a broad smile. Already his mind was far and away with thoughts of Quidditch, hanging out with the Marauders and his Mum and-

“In the future I’m actually a Slytherin,” Draco interrupted smoothly. “My entire family line lineage is Slytherin. And I’m sure you understand with house pride and all that it would feel like a dishonor to be placed elsewhere."

Dumbledore nodded, understanding but still hesitant. There was something about Draco that reminded him of something or someone darker. 

Hermione looked over to Draco and then back to Harry.  She had a choice to make. She could either stay with Harry in Gryffindor and make sure that the boy didn’t do something irrational like confess to his parents about their foray back in time.

Or she could stay with Draco in Slytherin and keep an eye on him, because his motivations still weren’t quite clear to her. She’d still see Harry, but she’d be able to keep a close watch on the pale blonde beside her.

“I’ll go to Slytherin.”

Both Harry and Draco whipped their heads around to look at her. She avoided their gazes, thinking of how she was going to accomplish this feat of not ripping the space-time continuum with the two most fool-hearty boys she knew. One too brave and stubborn, the other weak and crafty; it was going to be very stressful.

“Hermione,” Harry faltered. “Are you sure?”

“Yes Granger,” Draco added with a dramatic nod. “Why on earth would you want to be sorted into Slytherin?”

“I have my reasons,” Hermione sniffed, raising her eyebrow superciliously. Harry looked over to his friend and felt the first pang of regret go through him.

Hermione looked so impossibly stressed and he knew it was directly a result of his actions. He knew it was a selfish decision, yet seeing his parents in the flesh earlier today? It had all been worth it.

"I'm sorry Hermione," Harry said quietly, though not looking that sorry at all. 

"I don't want to hear it Harry," Hermione said with her teeth clenched and her dark eyes narrowed in the distance. She was more furious with him than she'd ever been, and that was saying something. 

"Right then," Albus said looking to them seriously. “You three are transfers from Longbottom Academy, was it? You’re here a short while because your parents are here on business with the Ministry and they insist on you continuing your education while they do so.”

"Brilliant," Harry said as they rounded the Gryffindor common room. "Thanks so much, Headmaster."

"It's the least I can do Mr...Well, what was your last name again?"

  Harry responded with a shrug. "I thought Finnegan might be appropriate.”

“Very good,”  Albus said with a wry grin before glancing at Hermione and Draco.

“Lockheart,” Hermione winced, shooting a dark look at Draco.

“Parkinson,” Draco mumbled.

"Just fine," Albus said pushing back his chair and indicating that the three should follow him out of the office. They walked up the stairs as he called over his shoulder. “We’ll stop at the Gryffindor common room first.”

With that he whispered the password and urged Harry through along with him. Hermione and Draco stood in the hall, waiting silently for the Headmaster’s return. Harry took a glance back at a pale looking Hermione and Draco before nodding and walking through into the familiar yet very strange Gryffindor common room, looking to the students around the hearth, or playing Wizards chess, or just talking about Quidditch.

Harry stood awkwardly by the entrance with Dumbledore as if he were six year olds on their first day of primary school. With a sudden exhale Harry caught sight of James who gave him a quick smile and indicated he should come over.

"Students," Albus said quiet yet commanding way, causing the heads of the students to turn in attention. "We have a new Gryffindor among us. This is Harry Finnegan and he will be visiting a short while here while his parents do some work for the Ministry. I expect you to show him your respect, warmth and extend the hand of friendship that I know you will.”

With that Albus gave a small nod, looking over to see Harry blushing as the group gave a smattering of applause.  Harry walked over to where James and Sirius sat playing wizard’s chess, their eyes following the trail of Harry’s steps.

“I knew you’d be a Gryffindor,” James said enthusiastically. “I could just tell.”

“I thought your pretty friend might be as well,” Sirius said with a small wink. “Where is the darling Miss Lockheart?”

Harry blushed at the open way Sirius was hitting on Hermione. Gods if he only knew.

“She’s been sorted into Slytherin actually,” Harry acknowledged. The two boys furrowed their brows in surprise. Sirius looked ready to fall of his chair.

“Really?” 

“She didn’t seem the type!”

“Yes well,” Harry shrugged uncomfortable with the way they were scrutinizing him. “I think your knight can take that rook.”

The boys attention was back to the game and within minutes Harry was sinking into the warm and comfortable room, listening to the idle sounds of carefree chatter and observed the feeling of feeling at home for the first time in his entire life.

Returning outside Dumbledore led them down the winding steps and Hermione could feel the temperature drop with every step. When they finally came to the concealed passageway Hermione felt her eyes widen. She had never actually been down to this common room before and she felt a little thrill go through her. She always loved cultivating knowledge of all sorts and she peered curiously around them.

“The password is Bloody Baron,” Albus told them gently before ushering them through the common room door.  Hermione bit the inside of her lower lip, trying not to gasp as more cold air assaulted her. Draco however strode in confidently, knowing the place by heart.

In contrast with the warmth of the Gryffindor common room, the Slytherin common room was very cold. Stark black wood and sumptuous green wallpaper dotted every available wall.  The heart was large and picturesque with a large emblem of a serpent  adorned overtop. The lamps were covered in thick green shades, giving the entire place a bit of a green tinge. If anything it reminded Hermione of an old shipwreck with the sound of the Great Lake out their windows. She couldn’t help but be a bit impressed with the location.

Hermione glanced over the exquisitely carved chairs, her eyes drawing over the large green button-tuffed leather sofa’s that were fairly draping with Slytherins of all ages and backgrounds. The noise was demure, hushed. Hermione observed it was late and perhaps only the seventh years were up in the common room at this hour. The two of them walked into the room more fully after Albus, shooting nervous looks at the new faces who turned to see them.

"Students," Albus said as the crowd of young folks grew quiet. "We have two new Slytherin’s among us. This is Draco Parkinson and this is Hermione Lockheart. They will be visiting a short while here while their parents do some work for the Ministry. I expect you to welcome them, protect them and guide them as long as they are our guests.”

Unlike the gryffindors, at the end of Albus’ speech they did not bother with a clap. Instead giving them the once over and going back to their conversations.  Albus glanced over at Hermione and a more confident looking Draco.

“With that I take my leave,” Albus mumbled, regarding Hermione primarily. “Should you need me, you know where to find me.”

“Yes, thank you Headmaster,” Hermione said warmly, watching in silent defeat as the tall wizard left the common room, closing the door behind him with a resound thud.  Draco moved over towards the nearest sofa, about to take a seat when a short boy drew over to him.

“Hullo there,” he said, eyeing Draco critically. “Name’s Avery, that over there is Mulciber.”

He jerked his head in the direction of a stocky looking wizard with auburn hair and pimples dotting his cheeks. He smiled venomously, exposing several rows of sharp looking teeth and Draco held in a wince.

“I’m Draco Parkinson,” Draco replied smoothly, knowing exactly who these two would grow up to be. Mulciber was very good at the Imperius curse if he recalled his father correctly. And Avery was a short figure with the beginning of a moustache and a deep set pair of brown eyes.

“We heard about you from Snape,” Avery continued. “He said he had a feeling you were Slytherin material.”

“That I am,” Draco said proudly, knowing that he simply exuded Slytherin spirit.

“Probably a wise idea to stick with us,” Avery said meaningfully looking over Draco’s shoulder at Hermione.  He lowered his voice. “He also said that we should look out for you when he’s not around. You don’t want to be caught up with the wrong sort of people after all. We heard all about your. . . friend’s background.”

Draco felt himself blushing in embarrassment. “She’s just a schoolmate.”

“Good,” Avery said leaning back and speaking at a normal volume. “Come over then, I want you to meet Mulciber.”

Without even a glance over his shoulder at the nervous looking Granger, Draco walked over to the hearth, leaving Hermione standing awkwardly at the entrance, feeling utterly wretched. In that moment she was keenly aware that Malfoy didn’t feel responsible for her in the way that she did for him. If anything he saw her as a bothersome annoyance. She was as much on her own as if she'd been tossed into a deserted island in the middle of the sea. She had no one to turn to and trust.

As he left her to join the other boys in the room, Hermione shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably. She surveyed the room and felt her breath release when she realized that Snape was nowhere to be seen. Thank goodness for small favors. There were several very pretty girls all crowded by the fire, glancing over at her and giggling to themselves. She immediately felt embarassed and even more out of place. She didn't even have the comfort of Ron or Harry here to make her feel more brave in such awful social situations. With the comforting presence of Albus gone, Hermione suddenly felt more than alone than ever and quietly wished she had just taken his advice and stayed at Gryffindor.

What a remarkably huge mistake.

“Hullo,” a voice from her left remarked and Hermione turned to see a very tall girl with large grey eyes and raven black hair in a shorn style. “My name’s Hestia Taylor. It’s nice to have some new blood here in Slytherin. Nice to meet you!”

“Nice to meet you too,” Hermione offered graciously gripping the proffered hand of Hestia. The girls thin smile didn’t quite touch her large eyes. She was glancing over Hermione in thought, her eyes dating over at the popular girls snickering and then back to Hermione.

“So since you’ve never been here would you like a tour? It’s a short one.”

Hermione hesitated, looking to the friendly face with questioning.  She glanced over at the pretty girls sitting by the fireplace, looking to Hestia and Hermione with disdain. Hermione didn’t trust any of them, even this earnest looking girl in front of her. She winced, unsure of how to operate here. She knew she had to fit in, but everything in her body was telling her to run back to Gryffindor tower and away from these people who seemed so unlike her.

“You’re a fellow Slytherin,” Hestia whispered conspiratorially, noting Hermione reluctance. “We don’t harm out own. You’re safe here.”

Hermione felt her shoulders relax at this and she nodded, following the tall girl down the corridors. She couldn't help but observe that Hestia was remarkably tall and exceptionally fast at walking. Hermione had to virtually jog to keep up with her as she wandered down the spindling corridors, commenting on the portraits that hung on the walls.

“This is the lavatory,” Hestia said pointing to several doors to their left. “The boy’s dormitory is down and around that corner there, obviously we're not allowed in there. This is the girl’s dormitory. “

She pushed open a large oak door to reveal a large room that was almost identical to the Gryffindor one, save for the colors and general bleak color scheme of the walls.  Hermione walked into the chilled space, looking to the knick knacks and clothing strewn about the room and realized that the Slytherin girls were just as messy as the Gryffindor ones.

“You can bunk beside me if you want,” Hestia offered shyly, pointing to the empty bed next to hers at the far side of the room by the windows. Hermione looked over to the space, noting that Hestia’s bed was perfectly made, no knick knacks to be seen.  A large array of books were placed on her nightstand and Hermione felt something of a kinship. She glanced up to the windows and realized something interesting.

“What a view,” Hermione observed gently, looking to the wavering dark blue outside her window. It was dark and only a bit of the lake could be seen in all its shimmering glory. “It’s gorgeous.”

“Yup,” Hestia said proudly, looking out the window. “It’s what sets Slytherin apart from all the other houses. Not only that, but did you know that Merlin himself was a Slytherin? All the other houses like to gloss over that particular piece of Hogwarts History.”

As Hermione listened to the very sweet Hestia she had had the distinct feeling that the girl wasn’t very popular with the rest of the Slytherin and perhaps even a bit desperate for friendship of any kind. Hermione smiled gently, about to move to the bed when she realized she had nothing with her. Hestia cast her a curious glance when she realized this.

“Where’s your trunk?”

“Oh,” Hermione paused, trying to think of something logical. “My parents will be dropping it off in the morning.”

“No matter,” Hestia shrugged, looking to her side and producing a house elf. “Bring Miss Lockheart some toiletries and appropriate clothing.”

The house elf reappeared a few moments later, handing Hermione the necessary items.

“Thank you,” Hermione said graciously, taking the items into her arms with a thankful smile before erupting into a long yawn that cracked her jaw.

“I know you’re probably tired,” Hestia observed Hermione’s yawn with a small smirk. “Settle in and if you need anything just ask. Otherwise I’ll see you at breakfast tomorrow.”

With that she had sauntered out of the empty bedroom, her skirt swishing around her lanky legs as she left. Hermione was so thankful she wasn’t going to have to make some small talk when all she wanted to do was pass right out.

Hermione crawled into her new bed covered in emerald sheets and looking to the ceiling. She could hear the sound of water sloshing nearby and counting down the minutes until everyone awoke. This was a horrid night, and one she wanted over with. She snuggled under the thick, down comforters, noting that they warmed her quite quickly. She supposed they had to when they were down in the dungeons.

What am I doing here? This is a nightmare. Imagine all the things I'm going to be behind on when I get back to the future. I wonder if the Library will even have a decent reference section now. That is if I even still EXIST in the future.

She was worried about many things. About work, about family, about school -did they even know they were gone yet?- and about Ron, sweet Ron, dear Ron. He'd probably blown a gasket when he'd returned to see thin air in the Room of Requirement!  She hoped against hope that he had found it suspicious and gone to see McGonagall.

And Draco, imagine the nerve of him as if she were below him. She grinded her teeth, remembering all too well his inflicted rudeness. It turns out that things didn’t change, despite how much she may want them to. She rolled over onto her side, tensing as she heard a snore come from above her on the bunk.

Most pointedly she couldn't forget the look that Snape had shot her at dinner tonight. A look of infinite loathing, contempt and something else. Him and Draco; two peas in a pod those two. How odd. She frowned, tossing on her bed again, trying to calm down. She knew that he turned out to be a war hero, but actually meeting him tonight had been awful. And she wasn’t sure but she had a feeling he’d been the one to call her a mudblood. She ground her teeth, thinking it remarkably unfair that she was caught up in this situation in the first place and truly wanting to punch the young Snape right in his oversized nose.  She suddenly had a resolute notion that this was going to be a very painful experience. She was going to see firsthand just how cruel Severus Snape could be, now that he wasn't her Professor.

This thought only gave her chills.

***

"Hermione!" came a voice from her side as Hermione cracked open a tired eye. Brilliant grey eyes awaited her and she yawned lightly, looking to Hestia as she struggled to sit up. "Sorry for waking you up."

"Oh, I was awake," Hermione said in a sleep-filled voice, her throat sore and her voice cracked from lack of use. She blinked a few moments, looking to the short-haired girl in front of her and then around at the empty dormitory. "What're you doing here? Shouldn't you be at breakfast?"

"I was waiting for you," Hestia said with a smile, "But you’re awfully slow. I’ll meet you there!”

Hermione nodded and watched as Hestia rushed out the door like a newborn colt, all legs. 

Standing shakily and walking over to her dresser she took a fresh set of clothes and headed to the bathroom, not wanting to hurt the kind Hestia she showered quickly.  As she came out of the shower, uttering a drying spell on her hair running a hand through it she paused thoughtfully.

Was all this innocuous fraternizing with these people going to upset the future? Was her mere conversation somehow going to alter those in the future? Was Snape going to be more vicious? Was Albus going to be more trusting than usual? This worried her, quite a bit. But it didn't seem there was anything she could do.

* * *

"Thanks for lending me the clothes," Draco said with an air of thanks, but superiority. "I suppose mine got lost in the transition."

"No trouble at all Draco," Avery said coolly, smiling at the blonde young man before him. "If you're going to be around us for your stay, you might as well look it."

Draco nodded, sipping his pumpkin juice and noticing the short boy’s eyes going to the door of the Great Hall. He saw Mulciber’s eyes narrowed in seething anger and he clenched a pale fist at the sight before him.

"Potter."

Draco looked around, worriedly expecting Harry to be behind him. Then realizing that Harry was under some new name now -Finnegan if he'd heard correctly- relaxed and saw he was referring to James.  James. Remus, Sirius, Peter and now Harry beside James sauntered into the Great Hall, almost every one of them wearing the same looks of confident indifference. Peter lagged behind, looking jealously to Harry and quickening his stride to match the rest of them.

"Hmmm," Mulcifer crooned, "Pettigrew looks absolutely furious. I wonder...."

He trailed off, looking with interest at the rough faced young boy, his ruddy face glistening with sweat as beady eyes shot back and forth from face to face. Peter Pettigrew was such a bizarre sore thumb in this group of confident young men that he seemed comically mismatched. They took their places at the Gryffindor table, shouting jokes to one another loudly. The rest of their house laughed or smiled at their approach, feeling the good cheer radiating from the group.

And then like a grey rain cloud, Severus suddenly marched into the hall, his hair falling on either side of his face as he approached the Slytherin table. His dark eyes slipped over Avery, Mulciber and Draco a moment. For a moment he felt a pang at the realization that Draco looked as natural a leader as any with this group making Severus wonder if he’d made a mistake by willingly bringing the boy into his fold.

“Morning,” Draco said placidly to Snape before turning back to his breakfast.  Snape was about to say something when noticed then that several girls at the end of the Slytherin table were looking over at him, giggling and muttering to themselves.

Probably saying how ugly I look,  Snape thought miserably, taking his seat across from Draco and giving them all a rough scowl before going back to his newly presented breakfast. He subconsciously scanning the room as he took a large sip of black coffee.  He viewed Potter and his group and held in a snarl. That new Harry boy was sitting and joking around with them as if they'd been friends forever.  James erupted suddenly, clapping Harry on the back and exclaiming, "That's exactly what I said!"

"Lord,” Mulciber said boredly as he looked to the group. "They're so boorish it's disgusting. They'll be eating with their hands next."

"Time to break up the Dream Team, if you ask me," Snape sneered over his plate, looking to the group and not hiding his obvious loathing. Draco nodded and was about to answer when another familiar face entered into the Great Hall. He viewed as the rest of his group seemed to still, their eyes going into defensive slits as they took in the figure.

"There's that little Mudblood now,”  Avery growled, looking to Hermione as she came into the Great Hall, looking anxiously for Lily before smiling and waving. "Imagine her being sorted into Slytherin. Can you imagine?”

Severus watched her, his dark eyes glancing at her from under thick eyelashes. He noted she was fairly plain, her dark hair reaching to the small of her back in odd waves. She looked like the mousy type that loved to read, a girl that was quite naive to the ways of the world. A very strange sort of girl to be sorted into Slytherin, though not completely out of place.

“What does she think she’s doing?” Mulciber said, a note of irritation in his voice as Hermione strolled over to Harry. “Doesn’t she know anything about house pride?”

Draco winced a bit, feeling a bit disingenuous. Yes, he couldn’t stand Granger, that was a fact. But he couldn’t deny that she had balls. He remembered the mudblood scar she wore proudly after the battle. The way she'd fought and the way she'd been keen to forgive him for his sordid past. But still, she was a friend of Potter and.  .  . He shook his head of the thought.

“She’s friends with everyone,” Draco hurriedly explained, not knowing why but feeling that he had to explain her bizarre behavior away. “Just ignore her, I always do.”

Snape listened to what Draco was saying but his eyes were slowly working their way over to the girl’s pinched face as she spoke to the new boy.  They spoke a few moments before she nodded and walked over to the Slytherin table, seating herself right across from Hestia and giving the girl an open smile. If he was careful, he could still see her out of his peripheral vision.  He noted that she suddenly looked over to his table and Severus dropped his eyes, sullenly looking to his plate.

"Ohhhhh," Avery breathed, nudging Snape absently with his elbow. "Looks like the new girl likes our Severus here."

"What?" Draco said, almost spitting out his pumpkin juice. He whirled around, giving Hermione a bewildered look as she looked away, feeling her cheeks burn. She'd merely looked over to see if Draco was at the table for breakfast when she'd caught Snape peering at her through his curtain of hair. Now they were all staring and gossiping as if she was staring at him.

What immature little boys.

"How do you stand her?" Avery asked Draco, looking to the young man in keen interest. Severus looked up, looking to Draco as he awaited the young man's nonchalant response.

"I barely do," Draco said with a sneer, eating his eggs at a rapid rate. "She's always being such a know-it-all, always telling everyone what to do. That's all she's got is her ruddy books."

"Really?" Mulciber said with a look that was positively cat-like, his eyes gleamed dangerously as he leaned forward, rousing Snape's interest.

"Tell us more."

Chapter Text


“Alright class we have three new students with us today,” said Professor McGonagall with a smile on her less-lined face as she looked to Hermione, Draco and Harry.  “Be sure to greet them as we would any guest of Hogwarts.”

She and the class offered a brief applause for the new students as they nodded red-faced, looking embarrassed and quickly taking their seats and pulling out the supplies they’d been given.

To make things simple, Dumbledore had given them all the same time table -"I informed your Professor's you were quite advanced"- Unfortunately for Harry that meant Hermione would know when they had homework. And he had no interest in homework – nope, he only cared about two things: getting to know his parents better and having fun.

After years of torture and torment at the knowledge that he’d caused their death, at being chased by Voldemort, Harry was elated to finally kick back and be a simple seventeen-year-old boy again. Breakfast had gone swimmingly – he had immediately been welcomed into the Marauder’s fold and he couldn’t contain his delight.

Today it was Transfiguration, Herbology and History of Magic. Tomorrow it was Potions, Muggle History and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Sitting there in Transfiguration felt very similar to being in the present day Hogwarts, with a younger but still severe Minerva looking to her students and speaking with authority.

Harry sat with James and Sirius on one side of the room, doodling in their notebooks when they should be writing. Draco sat with Snape near the front. Hermione sat between Hestia and Lily who kept ignoring the obvious looks of adoration shot from James a few feet away.

"Why don't you just talk to him?" Hermione suggested, looking imploringly to Lily as James shot her another look, whispering her name to get her attention. "He really seems to fancy you."

"You don't understand." Lily answered darkly, writing something on her paper as the class settled down, waiting for the Professor at the front of the class to go on. "He's insufferable. Just when I think he can't get more egotistical or rude, he does."

“It’s true,” Hestia said shyly from Hermione’s other shoulder. Lily gave the girl a small smile, nodding for her to continue. “James is always terribly rude and he’s always picking on Snape.“

“More like they’re always picking on each other,” Lily finished, causing Hestia to flinch.

“I suppose you’re right,” Hestia offered, turning a bit pink. Lily was a very popular girl and to have such a girl against you was not wise, especially when you were perceived as a nothing like Hestia. Lily glanced over to see she’d embarrassed the girl.

“I know he’s in your house,” Lily said gently. “I know you’re just sticking up for him. I’ve just known him a long time is all.”

Hestia nodded, feeling a bit less like a third wheel. Hermione felt her eyes absently drawing to the back of Snape's dark head as Lily spoke. He was slouched over his paper, writing something hurriedly on it even though Minerva had barely said anything. Actually, she noted, he was scribbling into a small textbook, his spidery scrawl all over it.

Interesting.

"God this is a waste of time," Draco said leaning back in his chair at the front of the class as he sighed heavily. Why the hell did Snape want to sit this close anyway?  He glanced over to see Snape ignoring him and writing hurriedly into the margins of some old potions book.

Gods, even young Snape was boring.

Severus didn't answer, and was starting to regret having Draco at his side at all. Sure the boy had given off an odd tidbit to them about his classmates, but other than that he was proving to be a haughty, annoying little ferret.  Draco mumbled something to himself about a ‘waste of time’ and started doodling skulls into his parchment.

He leaned back a bit, looking to the board in boredom. Today was very much a note-taking class, something that Severus found remarkably dull. His peers could barely keep up with his reading and often he was chapters ahead.  Suddenly hearing the sound of light giggles he craned his neck absently -as if he was trying to rub a muscle out- and looked to Hestia, Hermione and Lily who  all sat side by side, giggling over something in the book and looking at James Potter.

Of course.  

"He's looking at you again Lily," Hestia said giggling as Lily blushed into her notebook. The girls had an easy banter now and Hermione was pleased to see that neither was preoccupied with house nonsense. Hermione however, was determined to keep her mouth shut. She had no interest in altering the future and if she hadn’t been here there was every chance that this conversation would have gone on anyway.

"I don't care."

Hestia was about to go on when she caught Snape surreptitious glances at Hermione. He looked completely interested in her and at the same time as if he couldn't stand her. Barely moving her lips she looked to Hermione.

"Looks like someone may fancy you, Lockheart," Lily muttered lowly. It took Hermione a full moment to remember that she was indeed Lockheart.  She was suddenly worried –she didn’t want anyone fancying her! That’s how timelines got disrupted!

"Who?"

"Severus!" Lily muttered urgently behind the book as Hermione looked t the front where Snape sat, still half turned and looking at her. When she finally looked to his youthful face he sneered at her and went back to facing the front.

"I doubt it," Hermione said with a strangled voice. The mere thought that Snape could every fancy anyone, let alone her, seemed beyond absurd. He was Professor Snape. In her mind he had no sex drive. None of the professors did. He was just. . . There. He was a overbearing bully who wore a lot of black and slept in a coffin. Well, all right Hermione knew better but still. The thought of Snape ever truly caring for someone seemed foreign, even if she did know of Snape’s love for Lily, thanks to Harry.

“I don’t think he’s the type to open his heart to many,” she finally offered weakly, causing Lily to look at her strangely. Lily was about to speak when McGonagall rapped her wand at the desk at the front, causing everyone to start.

"Now, I assume all of you have read Chapter twelve?" McGonagall said looking to the class and finding it surprising to see the new girl, Hermione, nodding her head along with the rest of the class.

"Let's start with the basics, since we have some new students with us," she said trilling, looking from one face to the other. It was still early in the year, and there were several who wore looks of malcontent.

"Who can tell me the proper spell for transforming a pig into a Muggle bicycle? Hmmm?"

Oh, I know this one. Hermione thought excitedly, her hand whipping into the air as the words were spoken, her pulse quickening in anticipation at getting the answer right. There was something so self-satisfying about getting a right answer and feeling the approval from one's teachers.

"After uttering 'Sonorous' its one brisk swish up and down with the wand, one uttering of 'Porcus' and then one stroke down before lowering the wand."

Hermione lowered her hand dejectedly at the words, looking to Snape who had rudely burst out with the answer that she herself knew beforehand. She was a bit miffed at the rudeness, especially when Professor McGonagall nodded emphatically going, "exactly right Mister Snape."

Mister Snape? Gods that sounds bizarre.

She couldn't see his face, but judging by his arms and casual way of seating she could only assume that he was smirking superciliously at those who looked to him in hidden awe. Draco looked out the corner of his eyes at him and held in a suppressed groan. He was sitting next to a teacher’s pet. Brilliant. 

"And how does one do the counter curse for such an act? Hmmm?"

"Two swishes left, utter 'bimestris' and then lower the wand."

"Very good Mister Snape. Very good indeed."

Hermione lowered her hand for the third time in a row before she looked around the room, everyone either seemed to be in awe of Snape or just making it through the class without sleeping. How could one learn with Snape taking up all this education?

"Oh Lord," Hermione muttered under her breath, barely containing the glee in her voice. "He's a know-it-all!"

Snape went on answering questions left and right as if the Professor were asking him to recite his alphabet. McGonagall wasn’t the grim figure Hermione remembered, if anything she looked a bit green as she taught them. Snape was sitting rim rod straight, though his shoulders were tensed and almost rounded. He hadn’t quite acquired that confidence that he would in later years. Still, Hermione couldn't help but find him smug and irritable.  

"Does he always blurt out answers like that?" Hermione asked quietly, looking to Hestia in curiosity. Hestia nodded gently, a small grimace crossing her features.

"He's very bright."

"So?" Hermione said whispering fiercely. "Doesn't he ever give anyone else a chance?"

"Not really," Hestia said darkly, "he's always the first to answer whatever the Professor has to ask. His Transfiguration is brilliant too."

"Really?"

"Really," Lily answered with a nod from the other side. "But if you ask me, Potions is where he really excels."

Hestia nodded as Hermione bit back a laugh, the distant voices of the Professor calling out questions and Snape answering them growing dim. Suddenly Professor McGonagall took a look to the right side of the room where James and Harry talked animatedly.

"Mister Potter," she called out, looking miffed. "Can you tell me how to Transform a common pencil into a garden snake? Hmmm?"

Hermione glanced over her shoulder to see Harry and James looking sheepishly down at their hands. Hermione could see they’d not been paying attention at all. Almost in sync both the boys pushed their glasses up the bridges of their noses nervously.

"Erm," James went pink; he and Harry looked embarrassed. "Sorry, I don't think I could."

"Did you even read the chapter? Hmmm?"

"Well. . . " James trailed off, the answer all too apparent in his eyes. Harry was trying to conceal nervous snickering upon feeling the teacher's angry gaze upon them.  Sirius looked as if he were going to bust out in inappropriate laughter at any moment.

"Tell me Potter," Severus said softly without turning. "Can you read?"

"That'll be quite enough Mister Snape,” Professor McGonagall said angrily at him for undermining her authority as the class erupted into bored laughter. "Ten points from Slytherin."

The irony is so thick I could choke, Hermione thought as she noticed the smug look James was giving Severus and sighed in response to their immaturity along with Lily.

"And ten points from Gryffindor, Mister Potter," the Professor added, "for coming to my class so woefully underprepared.”

James ducked his head, looking angrily to the parchment in front of him. Harry glanced over at his father, feeling a strange sense of detached amusement. They were so alike it was staggering. He hoped James wouldn’t be too sore and cancel their Quidditch practice.

"The proper way to perform such a task is to have two swishes right and one uttering of Penicillus Anguineus," Snape said haughtily, making sure that James knew just how stupid he was. "Then it’s simply a matter of three swishes left and a lowering of the wand."

He glanced over his shoulder and gave James an oily smirk. James and Harry glared back, openly despising the snob. Harry couldn’t believe at how much he found this Snape irritating. He knew he should be more patient but Merlin’s Beard he was a prat! Even more so as a teenager! James was about to go off with another insult when a loud, bossy voice rang out at the back.

"Actually, it's four swishes to the left."

Snape closed his open mouth, turning slightly although he already knew who had been stupid enough to have said it. That annoying little blabbermouth Lockheart. James and Harry shot her looks of equal admiration and surprise, Hestia looked so blanched she may fall over and even Lily had to suppress the smile that was threatening to break out all over her face.

Severus Snape had been challenged.

"Correct Miss Lockheart," Professor McGonagall said impressed as Lily shot Hermione an impressed look then. "Pleased to see you noticed."

Murmuring began in the class, the students looking to Hermione -the new girl- in moderate awe. No one wanted to outmatch Severus, even if they knew the answer. Harry flashed her a small grin that she responded back with happily. That'd serve Snape right.

He was sitting almost at a loss, looking to Hermione with infinite loathing in his eyes intermingled with something else. Was it intrigue? Perhaps. Right then, Snape wondered if he'd met his intellectual match for the time being. A nice change of pace from the dunderheads he was normally surrounded with. He turned back to face the front of the class.

"Now," Professor McGonagall went on, trying to break the awkward moment within the class as she smiled. "Could I have a volunteer to come and assist me in a little experiment? Hmmm?"

"I will!" Hermione and Snape exclaimed simultaneously, standing at the same moment, both glaring at each other as they faced one another and the class went silent. Professor McGonagall looked confused to each of them, seeing the fire in their eyes and then shrugging, smiling weakly.

"Erm, both of you come down. Two would be better I suppose."

Hermione rushed down from her seat, looking eagerly to the covered table that Professor McGonagall had rolled out into the center of the classroom. Snape stood regarding it, and then Hermione a moment. He made sure they didn’t stand too close to one another. It didn’t matter she was in his house, she was still no chum of his.

"Now, I know you’re all quite good at transforming normal household items. But here I have a small challenge, one that I can tell you're both up for."

She whipped off the tablecloth, and underneath in a large terrarium sat a full-grown animal, coarse hairs upon it with a squished up face. It was grunting slightly but remained very still. Hermione bent down a bit, looking at the animal through the glass and exhaling softly.

"Mmmm," Hermione said interestedly, brushing past Snape to get closer to the table. He frowned at the contact and regrettably followed over to the table as the class watched on in interest.  It wasn’t every day that Severus Snape had competition and it was fun for them to see.

"A full grown blast ended skrewt," Hermione said proudly as the Professor nodded. "My, it's a big one."

"Not that big," Snape said breezily. "I've seen many quite larger."

Hermione didn't answer him, openly refusing to cater to his obvious lack in confidence if he had to lie about seeing bigger skrewts. What a bloody phony. She stood up straight, awaiting further instruction.

"What I'd like you to do," Professor McGonagall said with a clap of her hands that roused the skrewt and the class’ attention, "Is to put the animal out safely for the class, and then proceed to turn it into a Muggle umbrella."

"Shouldn't be too hard," Severus murmured with ease by Hermione's ear, noticing the way she flinched from him. He had to contain a smirk, for he knew at least one of her weaknesses. Draco on the other hand was trying to stifle the yawn that was threatening to burst from his pointed face.

Although Hermione could see no use to such an idea as pulling out the skrewt from the terrarium she nodded to the professor, and before Snape could even move had already started. He scowled at the back of her head and watched quietly.

"Concubius-" Hermione started as the animal shut its eyes, firmly falling into a dead sleep.  Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that her wand was still faulty here in the past. It was a miracle that the thing had even fallen asleep. Severus watched from behind her with a stony expression that Lily couldn’t help but smirk at.  

Harry watched all of this in careful silence, still kind of out of sorts with the fact that he was seeing Snape alive and young. The mouth that wasn’t yet bracketed by lines, the eyes that were still quite clear, the skin not quite as sallow. He still seemed so calculating, so cold and Harry found he couldn’t look away from the scene playing out in front of him.

"Your friend's very good," James murmured to Harry. "Very smart and quite brave. It isn't anyone who'd stand up to Snape like that."

"She's always been like that," Harry boasted proudly, looking to Hermione with admiration.

"She's very pretty as well."

Harry made a face. "I suppose."

He looked to his father and held in a small shiver of revulsion that ran through him. James was staring at Hermione, his light eyes almost entranced by her as she circled the beast,  ignoring a suddenly slighted Lily who glanced over to see him looking at the new girl in interest.

Hermione stood unaware of all of this at the front, circling the beast and feeling Snape's eyes on her every movement. It made her feel clumsy and foolish and she wanted to elbow him out of the way as he always appeared so close.

"Careful," Severus said softly, his voice a husky whisper almost felt against the back of her ear. She shivered as his breath whirled past her earlobe, emitting an oily smirk from the tall boy who stood behind, watching her increasingly flustered actions.

Let’s get on with this Hermione. Just do it and sit down and shut up for the rest of the term. You don’t need any more close encounters with Severus Snape; the teenage years.

When she was certain the skrewt was soundly asleep, Hermione opened the lid to the terrarium. Severus watched this with a shrew look as Hermione reached her hand into the terrarium as the animal should be sufficiently knocked out now. She was about to dip her hand in to grasp it by its tail to drag it out when two simultaneous voices called out.

"You stupid girl!" Snape said jerkily, grasping her hand out of the tank as Professor McGonagall interjected with a loud 'Stop!'.

Severus pulled her away from the tank by her wrist, looking to her as if she were daft.  "Are you mad?”

"I know what I'm doing," Hermione said in frustration. "The female's have suction like things on their stomachs, their tails are harmless-" she was about to go on when Snape grasped her wrist.

"It's a male," he said, looking to the Professor and then back to Hermione as she blushed furiously and looked back into the tank.  To her dismay she was now seeing the large red mark at the side - that she hadn't noticed before thanks to Severus’ heavy breathing behind her- She was humiliated for the entire world to see and Severus didn't hold back the smirk on his face.

"Thank you Mister Snape," Professor McGonagall  said worriedly as she came over to the pair. "Miss Lockheart, this skrewt is indeed a male and as such their stingers are quite painful. I was under the impression that you were familiar."

"I am," Hermione said defiantly. Snape just makes me nervous. She dragged her wrist away from his grasp and he eventually dropped it as if it were a hot potato. Though not before running his fingers lightly over her knuckles. Hermione pulled away, looking to him defiantly and then back to the Professor. "I suppose I was just out of practice."

"Let me show you the real way to perform such a task,” came the waspish reply from Severus as he elbowed her out of his way. She watched as he muttered his spell, carefully avoiding eye contact with everyone. When he levitated the skrewt out of the terrarium there were a few gasps, but as it firmly sunk onto the table it lay in an almost catatonic state.

"I thought you didn't care for foolish wand waving," Hermione muttered to angrily herself, not seeing the look of surprise that crossed Snape's features before they were schooled once more in concentration.

"Disserenat - aetherius!" Snape spoke quietly, the words still reverberating around the room as the students watched on impressed as he flicked his wand resolutely. With a bubbling look that took over its skin soon the skrewt let out a small cry and lengthened before it turned into a large parasol. A strangely colored one, but an parasol nonetheless.

Snape raised it over his head, letting the class see it and then handed it back to Professor McGonagall. There were some claps from the Slytherins, and the rest of the class couldn't help but looked impressed...save for Harry, Draco and James.

"Well done Mister Snape!" Professor McGonagall said with a clap of her hands, "Ten points to Slytherin."

Hermione looked angrily to Snape, knowing that those points were rightfully hers. He'd stolen them.  It didn’t matter that they were in the same house, she was furious. The bell suddenly tolled, signaling the end of class and the students quickly stood, gathering their things and heading out the door.

"Until next class!" Professor McGonagall claimed excitedly, "And Miss Lockheart, Mister Snape, well done today."

Hermione didn't answer and neither did Snape. Instead she opted to grab her book bag and get out of class as soon as she could. Lily and Hestia were nowhere to be seen and she held in a small groan. She hoped they weren’t too embarrassed with her showboating.  At least class was over, now she could go back to keeping her head down and keeping to herself. She needed to keep to herself and she needed to make sure that Harry and Draco were doing the same.

With that thought in mind Hermione stepped down the aisle to the door, not seeing as Snape glided over to her, pretending to be heading towards the same door and effectively blocking her way. Hermione winced as he blocked her way to the door

“Excuse me,” she muttered angrily, indicating that he should move. Snape looked down on her, that familiar smugness taking him over as he took in her uncomfortable frame.

"For what?” Snape asked in a low, sneering voice. “Your laughable oversight earlier?”

Hermione looked to him slowly, seeing the callous smirk that seemed to perpetually rest on his face when she was around. She wanted nothing more than to throttle the little prat, but she kept her hands at her sides. It would only cause future trouble if she were to pummel him right now. Besides, he was a great deal taller than her and could likely take her on.

Before she could speak and tell him to move out of her way, James, Sirius and Harry had come rushing over. All three had large grins on their faces, dragging her away from the furious Severus and causing her to drop her book bag in the process as they congratulated her.  

"Well done Hermione! Putting ol’ Snapey in his place," James said broadly, coming over and giving her a large smile. She smiled back at him, timidly and looked to Harry with exasperation. She was suddenly beginning to see why Harry hated Snape so often and why Lily got so tired of James. They were both quite trying in very different ways.  

"He's a very talented wizard," Hermione had to admit softly to the both of them as she picked up her bag once more. James and Harry exchanged looks of surprise as they followed her out the door. Severus watched the interplay from a few feet away as he gathered his books, looking to the new girl with interest. She certainly wasn't what he'd expected. She was almost toler-

"But he's also a terrible git!" Hermione added loudly, allowing for the hallway and Snape to hear her remark. The tips of Snape's ears went red -not that anyone could tell- as he hurriedly packed his things up, clenching his teeth and brushing past them as he made his way out the door to the classroom.

Harry and James laughed loudly, clapping her on the back as she tried to smile back. But seeing Snape's fuming, lanky frame heading down the hallway, she couldn't help but feel she'd made an enemy, and a dangerous one at that.

* * *

"Have you heard anything?" Ron asked breathlessly as he ran into the Headmistress’s office, seeing the aged witch at her desk. It'd been a few hours since the occurrence, and keeping it under wraps was not an easy thing to do when all he wanted to do was scream.

"I'm afraid not Mister Weasley," she said with a light frown. "There are no time turners left available to me. The soonest the Ministry is allowing is a month from now after the proper paperwork has been put in place.”

“Six months?” Ron shouted, his voice echoing in the small office chamber. “Are you mental?”

“Watch your tone young man,” Minerva shot back in irritation. “I've taken it upon myself to find the assistance of someone I think can help us.”

"Who?" Ron asked with a ragged breath.

“Slughorn,” McGonagall responded resolutely. “He’s very wise in the ways of potions and I’m hoping he can come up with something for us should we need it.”

“Slughorn?” Ron moaned, “that posturing blowhard?”

"Precisely," came the pinched voice from behind him. Ron blanched and turned, seeing the bald Professor looking over at him in disdain. Ron felt a flush of embarrassment cover his cheeks, creeping up his neck as he slowly backed towards the door to the office.

"Er...I have to be going." Ron gulped as he headed out the door.

When the office door was closed Slughorn walked up and stood in front of the desk.

"You owled for me, Headmistress?"

"Indeed I did Horace," Minerva said with a nod, "It seems that Harry, Hermione and Draco have been missing for quite a while."

"Missing?" Horace said dangerously quiet, his eyes narrowing in the process. "How so?"

Minerva sighed, informing Slughorn of the night's events. The missing students, the map, everything as  the man nodded, taking in every detail and memorizing it for faults. What had they done? Was he never to be rid of this horrible Potter boy and his mischief? Merlin’s Beard! Would he never be able to formally retire?!

"Do you have any idea where they might be?" Minerva said with a worried look in her eyes, "I’m at my wits end. We’ve sent out the officers to search the forest and nothing has come back. I have this horrible feeling that it’s something much more sinister.”

“But what can I possible do?” Horace asked genuinely, surprised that she had owled him of all people. She fixed with an unsteady gaze and he swallowed thickly.  

“I thought you may be able to make a tracing potion,” Minerva offered feebly. “We can use it in the Room of requirement and see if it leads us anywhere. You’re were the best at Potions, Horace. Aside from. . . “

She paused, not wanting to continue. Horace felt a bit of a sting at that. He'd surely undertake this endeavor, but he wouldn't be happy about it. If this didn’t give him an Order of Merlin first class he would be very irritable.

"I'll see what I can do,” Horace said with a bit of gloomy tone.  "But I don't promise anything."

* * *

 Hermione avoided Severus at all costs in and outside of classes for the rest of the day, sticking mainly to Hestia during classes or in the Library when she had some free time. She didn’t want to go to the common roon.  She'd made sure not to make any more friends. The more friends she had the more dangerous it was muddying the future.  When she rushed through the common room and into the dormitory she was thankful she could go to sleep without having to see him again.

It went like this for the next several days. In this time Hermione kept her eye on Draco and Harry. Both of the boys seemed distracted in their own way –Draco with Severus talking secretly, often flanked by Avery and Mulciber. She couldn’t ever get close enough to hear what they were talking about since whenever she was near they would sneer and move away.   

Harry was permanently dirtied or eating at a mad pace whenever she spoke with him. Quidditch practice was obviously just as enjoyable in the 70’s as it was in present day.  Thankfully it seemed the boys were only moving in these small circles and Hermione could only do so much in terms of babysitting. When she wasn’t supervising them, she was in the Library trying to find all the books she could on time travel, coming back with not much. It seemed all the books she’d need were in the restricted section and the librarian was not keen on allowing her in.

It seemed the only thing worthwhile about the whole thing was seeing how much people changed when young.  Hermione could barely believe that Sirius for example had been such a heartbreaker! She always found herself gaping when he chatted up a young woman who blushed and refused to meet his eyes. She could feel a pang of sadness when she realized what fate awaited such a charming boy.

Lupin she hadn’t seen much of, he was even more shy and soft spoken than she could ever remember. When he was around he was withdrawn and peaky looking, eating little and drinking even less. She wondered how he survived on such little sustenance.

Snape however was the most intriguing and infuriating. Why, on her way to the Library just this afternoon she'd viewed as he roughly bumped into a shy looking young Gryffindor. Avery and Mulciber laughed crudely as the girl stumbled, sending her books and parchment spilling everywhere. She winced as if this were an everyday occurrence and bent down to pick up her items. Hermione stood at her position just inside the library doors, hidden and watching this happen.

“That’s where you belong, MacDonald,” Avery said cruelly, “kneeling before us.”

“While you’re down there you should make yourself useful,” Mulciber added with a sickening smile.

Snape said nothing, but Hermione could see the delight in his eyes as the girl squirmed under their words.  She didn’t respond, choosing instead to pick up her items quickly. Hermione knew she should stay away but she couldn’t help but insinuate herself. They were being so cruel to the girl! Hermione rushed over, helping the watery-eyed girl to pack up her things before the two of them stood.

“You awful bullies,” Hermione snarled at the three of them, noting Draco’s lack of presence. Perhaps he’d gotten the good sense to stay away from them. “What they hell is your problem anyway?”

Her eyes were firmly on Snape, knowing that he of all people should know the pain of being teased. He narrowed his eyes at her, looking none too impressed with having been disturbed.  She helped the girl up and she scurried away, casting a thankful look to Hermione before rounding the corner.

Hermione realized with a sickening wince that she and the three boys were now alone in the hallway to the library, and on a sunny day like this the odds of more students coming their way was slim. Hermione raised her head defiantly, preparing to head off back towards the library.

"How dare you speak to us like that," Mulciber rasped, looking down at her with hatred. Draco stood nearby along with several other Slytherin boys who glared openly at Hermione.

“Leave me alone,” Hermione said flatly, trying to move past them. Avery held up an arm to stop her as Hermione backed up into the frame of Severus. She whipped around to face him, her dark eyes flashing as she glanced at the tall boy.

“You’re the one who interrupted us,” Severus offered silkily. “You could have minded your own business. But you seem intent on putting your nose where it doesn’t belong.”

“Oh yes,” Hermione countered. “You were remarkably busy harassing a girl. Three on one, sounds terribly fair. You’re cowards, the lot of you. You should all be ashamed.”

Severus blinked rapidly, not quite used to a girl talking to him like that. Had she just called him a coward? He stepped forward menacingly, noting with pleasure that a look of fear was bleeding into her dark eyes.

“What did you just call us?”

Hermione swallowed thickly. “You can’t hurt me,” she whispered. “I’m a Slytherin like you.”

The boys laughed darkly before Avery spoke.

“You may have wormed your way into Slytherin, mudblood, but you’re nothing like us.”

Draco walked slowly onto the scene then, watching as the three of them surrounded her. He couldn’t help but feel a pull of two emotions; concern that the girl was being harassed and would likely report his malfeasance to McGonagall in the future. The second was dark delight at the fact that the girl was finally getting a come-uppance.

"I'm not afraid of any of you," Hermione said roughly, although the light in her eyes showed otherwise. Mulciber grasped her wrist, drawing him near as he looked to her, his acidic breath falling over her face in sour waves.

"It's not us you should fear, you filthy mudblood. It's The Dark Lord."

Hermione had wrung her wrist away, glaring openly at the group and resisting an urge to slap them all. Before she could stop herself she'd started to speak, and couldn't seem to stop.

"Why don't you just shut up you pathetic ferrets?" She demanded angrily. "I don't fear Voldemort and I most certainly don’t fear you! Now why don’t you just fuck off! I've done nothing to offend you yet you seem to enjoy being cruel to me."

"You were born," Draco rasped from beyond the group as the boys looked over to him impressed, he believed as a father would a son. "That's offense enough to us."

“Draco,” Hermione started, her brows knitted in surprise and disappointment.

“Save it,” he said with a flippant wave of his hand. “Stay out of our way and if you’re lucky we won’t have to bring you down.”

Hermione stared at Draco in complete shock as the rest of the boys stood behind him like some hideous crew of creeps. Severus was casting her an unreadable look and she found her blood boiling. She had tried to forgive the future Draco, believing that his beliefs were simply because of his horrible father. But no, the Draco that stood there before her was his own man. His own horrible, twisted man.  

"You pathetic, loathsome little-" Hermione had raised her hand and had been about to slap the smirk right off of Draco's pale face when something stopped her.

"Miss Lockheart,” a soft voice said behind her as she stopped and lowered her hand, her blood running cold at the authoritative sound. Dumbledore stood behind her, looking down to her severely as he looked to her unimpressed. "A word, if you don't mind."

Hermione had looked to Dumbledore defeated and nodded; looking to him sorrowfully as Severus and his gang snickered in her wake. Severus watched her from behind his curtain of inky black hair as he watched her leave before he looked to the group seething before him.

"Can you believe her?" Mulciber said with a humorless chuckle as he shook his head lightly. "Trying to touch one of us? The nerve!"

"I know," Avery added with a crossing of his arms. “It’s unthinkable.”

 Mulciber ignored him and instead glanced to Severus with a look of dark questioning all too apparent in his light eyes. Draco watched all of this from outside the circle, feeling more left out than ever despite his obvious allegiance.

"I heard she humiliated you in front of the class a few days ago," Mulciber said pointedly to Snape as the pale boy glowered and glared angrily at Draco who looked all too nonchalant.

"Is this true?"

"She merely answered a question before me on one occasion," Snape said with folded arms as he leaned against the wall of the school, looking to the schoolyard of those who feared him. "But I showed her right again."

"Good,” Mulciber said with a smirk, looking to the group. After a moment of silence, and Mulciber tapping his lip listlessly he spoke. "But she does present a problem."

"How so?" asked Avery.

"Isn't it obvious?" Mulciber said heatedly beginning to pace in the empty hallway. "She's not properly intimidated by us. This could be quite detrimental to the network we've set up here. Imagine, being brought down by a Mudblood. Why it's absurd."

"Well then," Avery said with a smirk crossing his face, one that his friends had seen all too many times before.

 "It would appear we have to do something about that. And I know just the wizard to help us."

Chapter Text

Because of her meeting with Dumbledore, Hermione was late for Potions that day. He'd given her a firm yet understanding lecture on getting into fights -verbal or not- with the likes of his fellow students. Hermione had sat there, feeling the weight of this world bearing down on her.

“You’re supposed to be keeping your head down,” Albus had reminded her  gently. “I don’t think engaging in fights with fellow students is really doing that effectively. I thought you understood the dangers of interfering in the past?”

“I’m sorry, Headmaster. “

"You'd better tell that Draco friend of yours to smarten up as well," Dumbledore had added before she was ushered off to class. She'd nodded emphatically as she moved to the door. She looked to his face once more, taking in the sweet sparkle to his eyes and the kindness of his smile before shutting the door firmly behind her. 

She'd headed to Potions and had been halfway there when a voice called out her name. She looked over and held in an exasperated sigh as James came jogging up to her.

"Hey there Hermione," James said lightly, running a hand through his hair as he gazed at her. Hermione merely smiled politely, making it sure that she looked as if she was in a hurry.

"Hello James," she viewed as he blushed slightly, looking around awkwardly as Hermione sighed rather heavily through her nose, making her agitation very evident. She looked to him exasperated, wondering why he wasn't off playing Quidditch or trying to flirt with Lily. It was a wonder those two every got on.

"Late for class?" he suddenly inquired as she tried to brush by him politely.  He was lacking in his usual troupe of friends and Hermione took note of this before answering.

"Yes actually-"

"You know there's an outing to Hogsmeade coming up," James blurted, looking less than confident.  Before he could continue that train of thought Hermione was already halfway down the hall, looking over her shoulder and waving as she ran.

"Sorry," she shouted, "I don't want to be too late! I'll see you and Harry at dinner."

He nodded with a wan smile at her before she rushed down the stairs and into the Potions lab; her heart in her throat the prospect of a detention. In turn she didn't see James lower his eyes in embarrassment at the rejection, his fists angrily tapping at his sides as he watched her frame dart around the corner and out of his sight.

One pudgy teen remained unnoticed, hidden in the shadows, his beady eyes taking in the scene as the discouraged James Potter made his way to the common room. The spy let out a small snicker of triumph.

* * *

"Headmistress!" Ron shouted that afternoon as he burst into the office, his face flushed and clutching something glossy in his hands. He was about to speak when Minerva had interrupted.

"Mister Weasley," Minerva said tiredly, pinching the bridge of her nose in irritation. "I told you I would inform you the moment I-"

"I know, I know,” Ron said wheezing, "but I had to show you these."

He thrust the objects into McGonagall’s hands as. The Headmistress flipped through them worriedly, her light eyes widening in horror as she flipped faster and faster before ceasing completely, her hands trembling.

"Where did you get these Mister Weasley?"

"The boys dormitory, there's a bunch there."

"Has anyone else seen them?"

"I don't think so," Ron said pacing the room, "I only noticed them this morning."

"Good. Go and retrieve all of them, as many as you can and bring them to me."

"Yes ma’am," Ron said and without another word was out of the room rushing down the halls at a breakneck speed. He was beside himself with these latest developments and he wondered if Slughorn was making any progress.

"Oh my," Minerva said with a grimace, lowering the objects onto her desk with a heavy sigh. She'd have to speak with Horace the moment she could.  

“This is a serious problem.”

She suddenly glanced up to the sleeping portrait of Albus Dumbledore, wishing now more than ever he was there to give counsel.

* * *

Thanks to her run-in with James, Hermione was even more late for Potions and trying in vain to make her way into the class without causing a disturbance. No such luck. As soon as the door was opened Professor Slughorn gave her an irritated look as she ducked her head and made her way inside as the class tittered with giggles from immature students.

She saw with displeasure that both Harry and Draco weren't in class today, and Hestia and Lily were sitting with another girl at a table near the front leaving her completely alone. They cast her a regretful look and therefore Hermione had to depend on herself to survive the class alone. There was one supreme irritation though, one by the name of Severus Snape. She felt his eyes on her the moment she rushed in.  

She gave him a look of total indifference as she passed his row before seating herself directly in front of him and beside two Gryffindors she didn’t recognize. It was the last seat available and she winced darkly as his voice found her ear 

"Late for class," Snape whispered behind her with a smirk as she slid into her seat. "I suppose your meeting with Dumbledore went longer than expected.”

Hermione ignored him, choosing to pull out her parchment and laying her quill beside it without a fuss. She turned her full attention to the front of the class, listening to professor Slughorn drown on and on about some draught they were going to make. She started taking notes from the board, observing that they looked familiar.

A young and not-quite-bald-yet Horace Slughorn proceeded to drone on about properties of lacewings as Hermione sat idly taking her notes and wondering if she could convince Albus to let her have access to the restricted section of the Library after dinner tonight.  

Hermione was busy writing, all the while feeling the eyes of someone on her back. She wasn't stupid, for it had to be Snape glaring at her for humiliating him that day. Curiosity finally took over and she glanced over her right shoulder, confirming that Snape was indeed looking at her. Avery and Mulciber were casting her equally obnoxious looks and she grimaced.

She gave all three boys an irritable look before going back to her notebook. She was hurriedly writing down what she’d missed when a giant glob of something sticky and hot hit the back of her head.

"Ouch!" she yelped, gripping the back of her head in pain as the stinging sensation subsided. Raking her hands through her tangled hair she found a large, fiery enchanted spitball in her hair. She sucked in her breath and pushed it to the floor and out of her hair. It turned black as a crisp and evaporated as soon as it hit the ground.

"What's the problem...Miss..." Slughorn bubbled loudly, searching for her name. All he could remember from his few classes with her was that she was bright, but what was her name? Grant?

"Lockheart," Hermione said defiantly, showing that she wasn't about to fall for the pranks of Severus and Draco behind her. "And I apologize for my outburst sir, it was nothing."

Slughorn gave a curt nod, going back to the chalkboard and writing a few more sample instructions up on the board. The noises of the classroom were quickly becoming dim in Hermione's mind. She felt the mournful gaze of Lily and Hestia on her, but she refused to look up. If she did, they would see the glassy sheen to her eyes.  

I just want to go home. Hermione internally wailed, her eyes growing glassy as she wrote her notes and ignored the snickers behind her. Home. Friends. Family. Professor's she could trust not to spit at her when her back was turned.

She wasn't sure she'd ever look at Professor Snape the same way. True he'd done alot for Harry and them, but knowing what he was like as a teenager was seriously being called into play considering his character.

"Alright," Professor Slughorn finally said, his hazel eyes scanning the room of students. "Bring out your cauldrons class, today we're creating a blinding potion. This potion will allow you to blind your opponent for up to and including six hours. This process-"

He offered a few more words of instruction before everyone had brought out their cauldrons and begun. Hermione's fingers worked hurriedly, following the instructions to the letter as per usual.  She could hear Slughorn up at the front as he stopped in front of Lily’s cauldron.

“Perfect as usual Miss Evans,” he exclaimed with glee, drawing a strangely proud look from Severus (not that anyone else could see).

They'd all been working a few minutes when Mulciber swished by her table with Avery. He looked to Hermione a moment, smirking in delight as he looked to her flustered frame.

"Nice hair Lockheart" he said with a gleeful grin.

“Looks a bit singed if you ask me,” Avery added as they moved to the front of the classroom to gather supplies.

Hermione worked on ignoring them, mixing in two droplets of asphodel as she spotted the two Slytherin’s making conversation as they walked into the ingredients cupboard. That meant Snape was on his own. She turned back a moment, wanting to say something cutting to Severus without his cronies around when'd she stopped.

She'd never really gotten the opportunity to see Professor Snape make a real potion himself, and so the sight before her was quite amazing. Severus didn't even seem to acknowledge her presence; instead he was looking intently to his cauldron.  On the odd occasion he’d write something hurriedly in what Hermione observed was his potions text book. Lily had been right, Potions was when Severus was truly in his element.

His long fingers moved delicately, as if in some strange graceful dance, which surprised her on some levels and then again not. Surely when describing Professor Snape, the term 'graceful' wasn't the first term in anyone's mind. But remembering the long strides he took as he walked, the fluid gliding motion in his speech, it would seem that graceful was a perfect word to describe Severus Snape at times.

Severus himself at that moment looked like one filled with Zen like concentration, his dark eyes fixated on the cauldron and his hands moving rapidly as if detached from his lank body. He was utterly enraptured with the cauldron while at the same time looking utterly bored with it. Then again, that was always Snape's style. Looking at something with utter indifference whilst still paying close attention. Quite a talent one would need in the spy world.  

Suddenly -as if he felt his privacy being invaded- Snape's charcoal eyes darted up to Hermione's surprised face. His lip curled in hidden disdain as she gaped at him, and before another word was spoken she'd whirled around and gone back to her cauldron.  She felt his eyes on her back a moment, but then became engrossed in the task before her. Her own dark eyes measured everything with precision, her hands sweeping along the desk and dropping in the various ingredients. When the potion before her had become a lovely, violent color she allowed it to simmer before measuring it into her sample tube and placed the stopper in it.

Perfect.

She tidied up her workspace quickly, thankful that for the rest of the class the Death Eater trio had left her alone. She looked over to Hestia and saw as she scooped out the mirky purple substance littered with flecks of debris. She gave an indifferent shrug to herself and dripped it into his sample tube, marking her name on it and placing the stopper in it.

"All right, cauldrons off everyone!" came the booming voice of Slughorn. "The class is over. Samples to the front on my desk and then you can all leave."

There was the sound of stools scraping as everyone scurried about with their samples to hand in and leave. Avery and Mulciber were first in line fairly bursting to go out of class. If she were lucky, she wouldn’t have to see them again until her next class.

She herself decided to wait for the herd of students to thin out before going up herself to hand in her sample potion. She didn’t want to risk another rude comment from the boys.

Lily and Hestia told her they’d meet her outside and she nodded gently scooping up her vial and making her way up to the front of the class.  In time she noticed as Snape made his way up to the front of the room in a twitchy manner,  as if he were ready for an attack on all sides. Hermione had seen enough of his past to completely understand the stance, but still was rapidly starting to lose empathy.

When she believed he would be rounding back to his desk -on that well placed heel of his- to grab his belongings, she bent down to retrieve her bag, turning her back on him as he passed. She was about to turn back to take her sample to the front when there was a small sound of glass shattering.

She stood rigidly in the near empty classroom, her heart beating painfully fast. She'd already cleaned out her cauldron; it was the end of the class. That couldn't be her sample that had smashed on the floor.

Snape stood with arms crossed and sneering smile on his pale face as he waited for her to turn around and see her sample in shambles on the floor.

“Stupid of you to place your sample so near the edge,” he smirked widely for Snape knew from several talks with Draco that knowledge and education was something Hermione Lockheart favored above all things. And in this fashion, something like a poor grade would distract and upset her.

Hermione turned slowly, her eyes on the ground as she viewed her perfectly brewed potion in a mess on the floor. Her lip trembled in fury as she looked to the black boots in front of her, slowly leading up to the tall boy in front of her.

"Whoops," Snape whispered, looking to Hermione with infinite glee in his normally hateful eyes as her newly made potion sample lay in ruins on the floor. "I suppose that'll be a zero for you then."

Hermione looked down in shock at the remains of her sample potion, her body quivering in indignation. He'd done it on purpose. But why? Why was he continually picking on her? She wasn’t the one who hung him upside down with his underpants for all to see! She wasn’t the one to lead him to a werewolf’s den to be killed! So then why did he hated her so much all of a sudden? One sudden look at the smirking young man before her led her to that ultimate conclusion.

"You smashed my tube!"

Snape gave her an incredulous look, a look of a young man that's about to put on a horribly dramatic act. First he blinked his eyelids in surprised shock -the sweeping up and down dance was horrifying- then his eyebrows rose in mock concern as Hermione gaped at him in mild horror. Then -and this irked Hermione the worst- he had the gall to shake his dark head at her and frown as if it pained him.

"I can't believe you'd blame your own clumsiness on me," he whispered with false indignation, a glimmer in his dark eyes the only thing giving him away. "How childish."

"You liar!" Hermione sputtered outraged, her hands curled into angry fists at her side, so tightly that her nails dug into her palm.

"Say say, what's the problem here?" said Professor Slughorn coming over and looking mightily concerned to see two very gifted pupils in the throes of an argument.

"He smashed my test tube!" Hermione exclaimed, pointing a shaking finger to the calm Severus in anger. "He knocked it over when I was retrieving my bag to leave."

Snape tsked maliciously, looking to Hermione as if he pitied her.

"What lies Miss Lockheart," His face was inscrutable then as he looked then to the Professor. "I did no such thing Professor Slughorn. When she turned with her bag she knocked it off herself. I was merely pass-"

"You're a liar!"

"Now now, I won't have name calling in my class. Severus is most advanced in this class," Slughorn said with a grim look on his face, "I see no reason as to why he'd do such a thing as sabotaging your potion sample."

"It wouldn't be to any advantage," Severus added diplomatically, looking to his Professor earnestly. They both looked back to her, one set of eyes imploring and the other maliciously filled with glee.

“He did it because he hates me,” Hermione said through clenched teeth.

“Come now, Miss Lockheart,” Slughorn said with a trilling laugh. “Let’s not say such things.”

“It’s true,” Hermione said, glancing at Severus for confirmation. His flinty eyes gave nothing away and she grimaced before looking back to Slughorn.

"I'm afraid that I'm just going to have to give you a failing grade for the day,” the professor said with a stiff nod as he prepared to walk off.

"Use Veritaserum!" Hermione exclaimed, noting the sudden worried look on Snape's eyes. Although it was only that flicker in his eyes that gave himself away, the rest of him became stoic. "That'll get the truth out of him!"

"We don't use such supplies on trivial matters like this," Professor Slughorn said, looking more and more irritated with Hermione. "Now I'm sorry about your loss in sampling Miss Lockheart, but enough is enough. Clean up this mess before I remove house points."

Hermione felt the angry tears slipping down her cheeks as the Professor stalked off to his office, leaving she and Severus alone in the classroom. She viewed as he pointed his wand to the door, closing and locking it.

"I thought we might have a chat," Severus said plainly, pointing his wand to Slughorn's now closed door and muttering something under his breath, Hermione noticed it was a rather ancient silencing spell.

"We’ve nothing to talk about," she answered haughtily, giving him one last hateful look before preparing to brush past him to grab a sponge.  Her want would be of no use to her, it seemed every day she was here it was becoming less and less useful.

She was beyond terrified at being along with Severus, but she refused to show it. She knew boys like Severus; they liked power any way they could get it. And if she showed fear, she was playing right into his hands.

She gripped the sponge and made her way over to the spill. To her chagrin Snape was still standing there, observing her like some greasy snake.  She bent down, quickly cleaning the spill and praying he’d be gone before she was finished. When she’d righted herself she was disappointed to see him still standing there looking at her with an inscrutable look on his pale face.

“What do you want?” Hermione snapped. She felt his pincer like grip on her wrist before she'd even finished the question. He pulled her back viciously to him; his dark eyes regarding her flustered worry every moment. She was like a bird, fluttering against him, desperately trying to be freed from her confining cage.

He lowered his face until they were inches apart, his eyes hypnotizing her along with his voice. He was agonizingly slow in his speech, knowing it was the anticipation and not the words that frustrated and frightened people. His grip grew tighter as he finally decided to grace her with the words she already knew.

"We warned you."

She tried desperately to pull away, her eyes overflowing with furious tears. She raised her left hand and prepared to scratch at his hand for her release when he grasped it with his own hand, bringing her daringly close.

He backed her into the desk where her potion had once sat, his hips pushing hers so tightly against the table that it was impossible to escape. She wanted to cry out but wouldn't. She refused to let him win. She saw his hooded eyes rest on her face and she felt the blunt end of his wand under her chin.  

“You need to stop insinuating yourself with us,” Snape hissed, his eyes darkening. “You need to stay as far away from us as possible. Do you understand? If you don’t, the next conversation we have won’t be as pleasant.”

He tapped his wand roughly against her chin, causing her to whimper. She found she was too afraid to actually speak. Too confused and rooted in spot by the younger version of her former professor being cruel to her. She’d never been this up close to him in the future and she found she was having a very hard time breathing as his hips pressed against her own.

Suddenly all her preconceived plans of heroism and defiance were gone as his pale pink tongue licked his lips eagerly, his eyes slowly descending to her trembling lips. She wondered in slow horror if he was going to kiss her.

"No- don't- please," she pleaded desperately, trying to wrench from his grasp as his lip curled in triumph. That was all he needed to hear to keep him completely in power. With the word 'please' had come her submission, and in that, his victory.

Before she could call out for Slughorn who was engrossed in paperwork in his office, Severus had darted -in an awe inspiring imitation of a snake attacking prey- and kissed her soundly on the lips. Hard. Only this wasn't a kiss of tender feeling, this was a rough, demanding kiss of anger and frustration. His lips were full and passionate and demanding her supplication.

She tried to fight against him, pushing against his chest. But his hands easily encased hers, gripping and pulling her mouth more deeply into his own.

Before she could fully understand what was happening Snape had drawn blood from her lower lip, causing her to cry out. He felt her trying to pull away from his lips and his body, the coppery taste of her blood mixing about in their mouths as he kissed her roughly, their teeth grinding against one another as he pushed her farther into the desk. He felt her squirming, but he was too powerful for her. Finally he pulled away and she was breathless, her eyes filling with furious tears.  She noticed his teeth were covered in blood as he smiled at her darkly, reminding her of a vampire.

"Don't cross us again," he whispered hoarsely, his eyes still on her reddened mouth. Hermione flinched as she heard him use the term and she sneered at him. He felt his anger boil as she looked to him defiantly and answered.

"You don't scare me."

He was about to say something more when the door to the classroom opened again and Horace Slughorn walked in, surprised to see his students still there. Snape moved away from Hermione instantly, his head held high as Slughorn walked over to them oblivious.

“Oh, hello you two,” he said cheerfully. “Finished cleaning up that mess, Miss Lockheart? Oh no, my dear. Have you cut your lip?”

“I’m fine professor,” Hermione replied shakily, wiping her mouth for any grabbing her bag and rushing out the door.  Snape watched her leave, dark amusement clear in his eyes.

She ran the entire way down to the dungeons, not even stopping as Lily and Hestia tried to catch her attention.  She rushed through the common room and into the women’s dormitory before falling onto her bed and burying her head in her pillow to sob.  

She had a stitch in her side from all the running and her breath was coming out in small huffs. But none of that compared to the pain she was suffering now that she truly knew the cruel heart of Severus Snape.

Chapter Text


Hermione awoke the next day to see Hestia looking at her worriedly from the edge of her bed.

“Are you alright?” she asked quietly as not to rouse the other sleeping girls. “You didn’t come to supper last night.”

“No,” Hermione acknowledged with a shake of her head, her eyes shut tightly. “I’m afraid I wasn’t feeling very well.”

In truth Hermione had come to bed last night sobbing after her horrible altercation with Snape in the potions classroom. She hadn’t the stomach to see him again at supper so she’d hidden in the room and fallen into a restless sleep.

Hestia nodded, looking to her new friend uncertainly. “Today is the trip to Hogsmeade. Would you like to come? Did your parents sign the form?”

Hermione was about to slump back into her warm bed and mutter something about being too ill when she suddenly recalled Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop. It was a charming little shop that Hermione had been to before, and she had of course noted that it had a section in the back dedicated to books of all topics.

It wasn’t as extensive as Flourish and Blotts, but it would have to do in a pinch.  Perhaps something there could help them in their way getting back home.

“I think so,” Hermione said thoughtfully, noting that she would have to speak with Albus before leaving the grounds.  She’d also have to speak with Harry and Draco to see if they were leaving as well.  “I’ll have to check with the Headmaster.”

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Lily better,” Hestia said brightly. “I suggested the three of us get some tea at Madame Puddifoots this afternoon and she seemed very keen.”

“Sounds brilliant,” Hermione said, jumping out of her bed and into the bathroom. She only hoped that Dumbledore would understand why she needed to go. 

***

Harry bounded out of bed that morning, eager to see Hogsmeade and its delights. Would it be so much more different back in this time? Would they have the same shops? He brushed his teeth quickly, excitedly replaying the conversation the group of them had had last night.

“We need to get a butterbeer tomorrow,” James said over dinner, his eyes glancing over at the Slytherin table before back to the group.

“I’d much prefer a firewhiskey,” Sirius said, causing the group to chuckle.

“I think I’d actually love to take a look in Zonko’s,” Lupin offered gently. “I hear they’ve got some cracking new stink pellets.”

“Or Honeydukes,” Peter offered with a small smile. “They have the most delicious fudge and-”

“Maybe we should get Snapey an early Christmas gift,” Sirius said, ignoring Peter entirely. “Merlin knows he can’t afford one himself. I say we all pitch in to get him an entire set of nose-biting teacups!”

The group gave a great laugh at that, all trying to imagine a teacup dangling off the end of Snape’s large nose. Harry laughed as well, but there wasn’t much glee behind it. If anything he felt rather disingenuous. Plus, he hadn’t really enjoyed Sirius comment on Snape’s lack of finances. He felt himself bristle a moment as Sirius clapped his shoulder in amusement.

“Besides we need to show our new mate Harry here, Madame Rosmerta!” Sirius added with a thundering whoop.

The boys chuckled and “ooh-ed” at that, and Harry felt the tips of his ears turn red. Madame Rosmerta? She was there back then?! He smiled gently into his pumpkin juice before he heard James ask quietly:

“Do you think your friend Lockheart will be coming?”

Harry faltered a moment as he looked at his reflection in the mirror, thinking about his father’s seeming infatuation with Hermione. He wondered if he should intervene – would his father ignore Lily altogether if he pursued Hermione? Or was this a normal natural crush that he would grow out of? He paused, thinking a moment before deciding that today he would talk James out of ever liking Hermione.

At this he thought of Hermione and how angry she’d been at him. These past two weeks she’d done nothing but ignore him in the halls, speaking quietly to him about obeying the laws of time travel and otherwise not giving him the time of day.  He missed her and her annoying know-it-all attitude. He missed that sweet, mothering way she had about her with he and Ron.

He missed Ginny in that moment as well, wondering what she must be thinking right now. Surely she’d been notifie that he’d suddenly disappeared. What if he was never able to get back to see her? The thought was crushing.

There’s nothing you can do about it right now. Enjoy what you have.

With that resolution in mind he rushed over to where James lay snoring in the dormitory; his hair mussed and his one leg hanging off the bed. Harry smiled as he looked down at this, observing that both he and his father held their arms out the same way when sleeping.

Best stop staring like a creep before someone sees me!

“Wake up!” Harry crowed, pushing the sleeping frame of James awake.  “Let’s go to Hogsmeade!”

***

Draco paced in the Slytherin common room early that morning. He’d been awake for hours waiting for the rest of the group to wake up. He glanced at the doorway to see Snape walking over with a scowl.

“Good sleep?” Draco asked, trying to look impassive as the boy came over, pulling a light jacket on and flipping his slytherin scarf around his neck. It looked old and beat up and Draco could see small holes near the end.

“Are you coming with us to Hogsmeade today?”

“I thought I might,” Draco said, trying not to let his excitement show. “I believe you said you wanted to introduce me to someone while we were there? A Malfoy someone?”

Draco tried to school his features as Severus looked to him suspiciously. “Indeed.”

“Are the rest of them coming?” Draco indicated his head towards the boy’s dormitory.

“No, they rarely leave the schoolgrounds,” Snape was about to go on when two Slytherin girls walked by and he suddenly stopped talking. Draco glanced over to see the two girls dressed warmly and chatting quietly between them. It was Hermione and that tall girl if he were correct. He gave her a small nod which she returned.

She saw Snape glancing over at her and she paled before they rushed up the stairs, taking two at a time. As if feeling physically compelled to pursue her, Snape headed in the same direction, his long legs carrying him quickly. He moved like a great spider, all legs and twitching.

“Are you coming or not?” he called over his shoulder to Draco as he made his way up the stairs. Draco needed no further prompting and he joined Severus as they drew into the Great Hall.

Dumbledore stood at the front, surveying the students and telling Filch (goodness Filch was here back then!) which names should be on the list. Filch looked much the same, just younger. Hermione was displeased to see him all the same.

Hestia went to grab a pumpkin juice, leaving Hermione alone at the Slytherin table. She looked up to see Harry leaving his group of Marauders and strolling over to her.

Look at him so content. He won’t be so happy when I tell him there’s a good chance we’ll never make it back home!

Harry strode over to Hermione, gathering her into a hug that she hadn’t been expecting. His grip was tight and intense and she returned it awkwardly, feeling the many eyes on them in that moment. Harry pulled back, his eyes searching her face.

“Do you forgive me yet?”

“Not completely.”

“That’s fair,” Harry agreed, pushing a hand through his hair. Hermione couldn’t help but grin at the familiar motion.

“Are you enjoying yourself Harry?”she asked in genuine interest. “I know how much you’ve been wanting this. Even if it didn’t come about in the most honorable way, I hope you’re making the most of it.”

Harry felt his cheeks redden at his friend’s earnest response. Even though he’d done something so awful she was here and she cared that he was enjoying himself. What had he ever done to deserve a friend like Hermione Granger?

“I know you think I’m a selfish prat, Hermione. But I hope you also realize that I just needed to see them once. To actually talk to them. To spend time with them.”

“I do think you’re selfish,” Hermione agreed quickly noting her friend’s frown. “But I also understand the need for ones parents. Having to obliviate my parents was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

Harry nodded, regarding Hermione a moment.

“So are we friends again?” he asked shyly, looking to her with those bright green eyes of his.

“We were always friends you git,” Hermione said, throwing her arms around her friend and smiling as he held her tightly. They broke apart quietly, glancing over to see their prospective friends looking to them queerly.

“Do you think we’ll be able to go to Hogsmeade?” Harry suddenly pondered.  “I just assumed we would, but what if Dumbledore says no?”

“I’ll take care of it,” Hermione promised, giving Harry’s hand a small squeeze before breaking from him and moving towards the front of the room. Harry jumped back to join his group of Marauders, minus one annoying Peter Pettigrew.  This was thankful, as Harry had to try especially hard not to strangle him.

“Are you and that Harry boy dating?” Hestia asked, catching up with Hermione as she strode towards Albus. “I just saw you hugging.”

“Me and Harry?” Hermione let out a sharp laugh that made nearby students wince. “No Hestia. He’s more like the brother I never had. Excuse me one second.”

Albus was quietly talking to a first year Hufflepuff, but quickly ushered the child along when he viewed Hermione approaching.

“Hello Headmaster,” Hermione said as she drew to the tall figure. “I assume our parents have signed our forms to allow us a trip to Hogsmeade?”

Oh please don’t tell me no. You don’t understand how important it is we go.

Albus surveyed Hermione’s raised eyebrows a moment, the intent behind her tone before turning to Filch.

“Ah yes, I forgot there will be three more names added, Argus. A Hermione Lockheart, Draco Parkinson and Harry Finnegan.”

Filch gave Hermione a glare before quickly writing down the names. She knew he hated letting the students out and keeping track of them.

“Thank you sir,” Hermione said warmly. She turned back to see Hestia and now Lily looking to her with large, expectant smiles. It was time to go to Hogsmeade.

***

"Why hello Pettigrew," Lucius said lazily as Peter rushed over to him in the Shrieking Shack, his bug eyes nearly bulging in nerves. The handsome blonde sitting motioned to a chair across from him.

Lucius had chosen the rather desolate section of Hogsmeade for their meeting. No one ever came to Hogsmeade this early and none of the students ever actually dared to come in.

 "Pull up a seat." 

Peter nodded grunting, pulling out the chair and seating himself rather squeakily on the chair. Looking to him Lucius could almost see the young man as a giant rat. They sat staring at one another a moment, sizing each other up as the gentle hum of laughter outside permeated through the walls. Lucius sat comfortably back, crossing his arms lazily.

Peter had on a ripped cloak -probably all that he could afford- and was practically raining sweat onto the shack’s creaking wood floor. He was nervous to be meeting with the powerful Lucius Malfoy alone.

"We-well, hello Malfoy,” Peter said nervously, his voice hitching on the words and his hands rubbing back and forth at a frantic pace. His nose sniffed the air on occasion absently; Lucius watched it go back and forth until it became quite trying. "I'm here like you said."

It had been most deceptively easy. All Lucius had to do was have Avery walk by him in the hall and slip a small note in his pocket. He knew all too well that the ugly teen hated his position in his clique and would do anything for a new role. Even as a follower of Voldemort.

"Indeed you are," Lucius said with a fake smile, "And, alone I presume?"

Peter looked perplexed a moment nodding, "Yeah. The rest of them are out shopping. I didn’t even tell them I was leaving.”

"They often leave you out in that regard, don't they?" Lucius said smoothly, making himself seem more approachable. "How cruel."

"Oh well, I don’t care much for shopping," Peter said with a shaky laugh, "So I'm not really left out."

"Yes," Lucius said a bit perturbed. "But, Peter, from what my friends tell me, they notice that when you are all together, you seem to be the odd man out."

"Oh I wouldn't say that."

"But I would," Lucius added silkily, thankful that no one could see him skulking about with this ridiculous looking teen. The craters in his face were unmistakable, his beady eyes disturbing. "Even that Finnegan get's along better with them and he hasn't even been here a month."

"Oh, Harry." Peter said with a shrug, "He'll be leaving soon. It'll be like the old times then."

"Do you really believe that?" Lucius asked thoughtfully, looking to Peter as if he felt for him. "Peter, don't you ever grow weary of being the fourth wheel to those ridiculous fools? Don't you long for the days when you won't have to hang at the back of the group, for a day when people look to you in admiration? Don't you yearn for the days when you're not the follower and sidekick of those morons?"

Peter was silent, and Lucius took this as a good sign. He hadn't bolted from the seat to leave or tell his friends. He hadn't really tried to defend them or their 'honor'. He was a puppet waiting to be manipulated, a wanderer wanting to find his niche. Lucius was merely acting as an aid to do so.

"Peter, what I'm offering is a position into power. I'm offering you a position, in You-know-who's army."

Peter's beady eyes grew wider as he looked to the pale young man in front of him, the silvery eyes waiting for a response to his imploring look. The eager smirk already playing about on Lucius' lips as Peter held in a gasp.

"He who must not be named?"

Voldemort? His Army? That meant evil. But evil meant Power. Respect. Peter's mind wandered with thoughts of him marching down the halls of Hogwarts with people respecting him, not asking where James was. James would be his sidekick-

"But...but,” Peter breathed heavily, his eyes bulging even more out of his ruddy skull. He wanted to say 'Voldemort is evil' but knew that offending Lucius Malfoy -whilst alone in the Shrieking Shack- was a truly stupid move. Instead he trailed off, refusing to meet the smirking boy's face.

"The Dark Lord is taking over everywhere Peter," Lucius said with hands clasped on the table. Obviously it was going to take a bit of negotiating on his part to sway the ugly boy. "His has weapons you can't possible imagine. He is powerful Peter, powerful and he rewards his loyal followers. What gain would there be in refusing him?"

"None I suppose...but-" Peter said lowly as Lucius' smirk faltered. He'd been sure the boy would bend easily. "Why are you offering me this? Of all the people here?" He made motion to himself that only proved his lack of confidence. "Why, I'm not even in Slytherin. I'm horrible at dueling-"

"That may be true Peter." Lucius interrupted with silken ease, as Peter looked to him in minor admiration. Lucius exuded power, evil, dark power. "But in my mind I know you deserve it. I've seen the power you could have. You have ambition, you have links to influences."

"Oh, Potter and them," Peter said sullenly, "I see, you just want me so you can take them down in this ruddy school. You don't want me-"

"Calm down boy," Lucius hissed, darting his eyes around to ensure that they were still alone. "I meant nothing of the sort. I only wish to inform you of the leverage you already contain." He saw Peter was interested again and continued speaking.

"All I mean is if we had those pathetic egocentrics out of the picture, why we of the dark arts and of Voldemort's following could run all of Hogwarts...and after that, perhaps more. Just imagine it," Lucius said smirking as Peter's eyes fell shut at the thought.  "No more laughter Peter. No more jeering. You'll be more influential and well known that James in this school. People will be begging to sit with you at meals. You'll be untouchable."

Peter was silent a moment, his eyelids fluttering open as he looked to Lucius' wolfish grin. His round stomach was paining him, and he licked his dry lips slowly.

"I guess I just don't see how I fit into all of it." Peter said glumly, "I'm nothing like you Avery and Mulciber and Snape-"

"There’s always room for more,” Lucius said with a shrug, "As for Severus however, I'm afraid he might be out of the picture soon enough. I believe he might be growing soft on me."

"How so?" Peter asked interested, as if he could already visualize filling Severus' boots. These were men with power in the school. Instead of being friends with those influential and well liked and failing, it seemed only natural that he should be friends with those that were powerful and cast off like himself.

"I’ve noted with displeasure how often he speaks of Lockheart," Lucius said with a look of distaste as Peter looked to him in surprise. "There's something there that he won't admit. He's never looked at any girl around here like that. I'm beginning to question where his loyalties lie. But you Peter-" Lucius added with great praising tones, "you would be a most esteemed partner in all of this. Why, if you proved yourself enough to Voldemort- this school would obey you."

"Me?" Peter squeaked, his chubby face lighting up at the mere thought. People obeying him? All these indoctrinated thoughts of fame and respect were slowly overtaking him, James and the rest of that snobbish group becoming a memory.  He remembered how he'd felt a few nights ago, seeing James being turned down by that Lockheart girl. He'd looked so defeated, and Peter had felt vindicated. He wanted that feeling again.

"Yes," Lucius said with a grin. "Do we have a deal?"

Peter seemed to consider this, his beady eyes gleaming with thought as he looked to his new comrade. No more Peter the rat, no more Potter's sidekick. If he was lucky, perhaps he'd be one of Voldemort's powerful army men. A captain perhaps. There was pride in that. With a defiant nod of his chubby head Peter stuck out his shaking hand to seal his fate.

"We have a deal."
***

The students piled out of the train and into the town loudly, some kicking up the fallen leaves, shrieking in excitement as they approached the shops. Goblins, witches, wizards and more of all ages were already shopping and eyed the students with disdain.

“I need to get some new robes for ol Sluggy’s party,” Lily said as they walked along. “Do you mind if we stop at Gladrags before tea?”

“What party?” Hestia said sounding put out.

“Oh it’s this silly thing Professor Slughorn throws every year,” Lily said with a shrug of her shoulders. “It’s for the students he picks to be in his Slug Club. Most of the time we just sit around talking and eating dessert. He’s really quite sweet, but goodness his parties are dull.  Once a year either around Halloween or Christmas, Slughorn holds a party. Old Slug Club members come out and we’re expected to enjoy ourselves but we rarely do. Usually we just eat the food, drink and chat. Don’t feel left out, Hestia. You’re really not missing anything.”

Hermione could see the girl contemplating this and despite Lily’s assurances, Hermione could see that Hestia would give her right leg to be part of such an exclusive club. Hermione wanted to add that she too had been to a Slug Party and it truly was a grim as Lily was saying. But of course she couldn’t, and simply glanced over to her new friend.

“If you two don’t mind I’d actually love to get to Scrivenshafts shop before tea. I wanted to get a new quill. How about you go look at dresses and I’ll meet you at Puddifoots after?”

“Oh we can come with you,” Lily offered.

“It’s really quite boring,” Hermione deflected. “Honestly I wouldn’t want you to fall asleep. I’ll meet you for tea though! Save me a brandy snap if they have them!”

The two girls nodded, suddenly engrossed with talk of dresses and dancing as Hermione slipped away, her eyes intently in front of her as she rounded some of the thatched roofed stores before coming upon the small shop on the High street.

The door opened with a twinkle that sounded like the coo of a dove and a small, older female witch looked to Hermione warmly.

“What can I find you dear? A silver goose feather quill? Some strawberry scented parchment? Anything we don’t have can be brought in! I think a black-and-gold pheasant-feather quill would suit you just fine!”

“Actually I wondered if I might have a look at your books,” Hermione said, quickly adding, “and then of course your quills.”

The old woman nodded, motioning for Hermione to follow her to the back. “Now, what can I help you find? I’m afraid we don’t have any of those romance potion books if that’s what you’re after. Strictly forbidden here.”

“Certainly not,” Hermione said offended at the suggestion. “I’m looking for some books on time travel or time turners if you have them.”

The woman gave Hermione a curious look before nodding and drawing her to the back of the shop. She drew over to a tall beech display cabinet. Inside were about thirty books. The woman pulled a muggle key from her robes and began the task of unlocking it.

“Not many come in here for books,” the woman explained as she worked. “Those that do are usually looking for more unique subjects than can be found at Flourish and Blotts.” 

Hermione nodded, watching as the woman opened the display case gingerly, not wanting to upset the tomes that sat there waiting to be read. Hermione’s eyes ran hungrily along the spines as the woman spoke slowly.

“Now we don’t carry anything on time turners per say as they’re illegal,” the woman said pulling on a large pair of spectacles from her robes. “But I believe I saw something on time travel just the other day when I was tidying. Been here for ages so it may not be of much use to you.”

She was about to say something more when the cooing tinkle of the store bell rang and her head darted in that direction.

“Oop, new customers,” the woman said apologetically, dashing off to help whomever had come in. Hermione didn’t mind, she rather enjoyed that the woman was gone and not prattling on in her ear while she tried to concentrate. Her eyes ran along the spines of the books, hoping to find something that would suit her needs. She read the titles aloud, mumbling to herself.

“Olde and Forgotten Bewitchments and Charmes.”

Nope. No good.

“Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century.”

Useless.

“Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches.”

For goodness sake.

“Unfogging the Future by Cassandra Vablatsky.”

Hmmmm, maybe.

“Time travel and the wizards who’ve gone before us.”

Perfect!

Hermione took the large black book off the shelf, her eyes greedily taking in all she could from the index. Her eyes came upon one phrase that made her start: Potions and wormholes. Well, it was a start!

“Time travel?” said a voice from over her shoulder. She whipped around, clutching the book to her chest and fixing the boy with a nasty glare.

Of course it’s him.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but it’s for a project,” Hermione said darkly, pulling the book even closer to her chest. “A personal one.”

“Why would a seventh year witch who can barely get through potions be doing with a book on time travel?” Snape said wickedly. “Trying to go back in time to before you made the mistake of interfering with us?”

Hermione shook her head at the boy looking at her with such disdain. Without another word he’d slunk off towards the register, trying to hold in the grin that threatened to spread further across his features.

He had to admit that he liked riling up the Lockheart, girl. It was quite funny to see her gape at him or get angry and get red in the face.  His mind went back to the potions lab where he had cornered her and kissed her roughly. The way she whimpered against his mouth, her body so warm against his. His lips fairly tingled at the memory and he felt his stomach twisting pleasurably.

I want to do it again.

He blanched as this though flitted across his conscious mind, almost flinching as he walked.  Severus had to admit that female attention was not something he had ever become accustomed to. The only girl he’d ever wanted had soundly rejected him. And although he would surely love Lily for the rest of his life, he knew that this was a one-sided affection. He knew that deep down women in general couldn’t stand him. And why should they? He was ugly and arrogant and kept to himself and most thought him dangerous. If he was honest, that’s how he liked it and until this Lockheart girl, he’d never felt the need to rectify it.

But now, recalling the girl’s soft mouth he found himself rather disconcerted. Was it the power over her he’d craved? Was it the joy of humiliating her? Or was it that she was a delightful challenge? A mind as keen as his and a face that wasn’t completely appalling? He glanced over to see the girl pursuing the parchment, likely waiting for him to leave the shop he mused.

“I’m here to pick up a parcel for Lucius Malfoy,” Snape said quietly to the shop owner, his eyes darting back to see Hermione still shopping. The old witch nodded, heading to the back before coming back and producing a small package wrapped in twine.

“Two galleons, four sickles and five knuts please.”

Severus passed her the money Lucius had given him, waiting patiently for his change. He could see Hermione out the corner of his eyes preparing to make her way to the register. The old woman handed his change back to him and he shoved it into his robes before he drew over to the side of the register, pretending to look at quills.

Hermione dawdled a few moments before assuming that Snape had left by then. She brought the book up with her to the front of the shop and held in a groan. Snape who stood glancing at the quills in front of him by the register. He’d obviously finished shopping as evidenced by the parcel under his arm. She assumed he was there to spy on whatever she was purchasing or just to cause her distress in general.

She ignored him resolutely placing the book on the counter and shielding it with her body the best she could. The sound of the cooing tinkle went off and she breathed a sigh of relief, assuming Severus had gone.

“I’ll take this one please.”

“Oh so you did find something useful,” the woman said cheerfully ringing up her purchase as she glanced at the title. “That’ll be fourteen sickles and twelve knuts, my dear.”

Hermione nodded, about to reach into her robes to grab her change purse when she stilled.

I’m so bloody stupid.

She didn’t have her purse. She didn’t have anything because all of that was waiting for her back home in the 90’s, along with Ron and her sanity! She immediately felt he cold creep of trepidation cross over her as she glanced up bashfully to the old witch.  Hermione leaned forward conspiratorially, hoping that no one could hear her.

“Oh,” Hermione whispered, turning a bit pink. “I’m afraid I don’t have any money with me.”

She heard a small scoff from beside her and refused to look. Obviously Snape hadn’t left and was in fact enjoying her humiliation.

“Is it possible to pay you the next time I’m in?” Hermione continued, feeling her face go bright red. “Or send you the money by owl? I promise I’m good for it.”

“This isn’t a charity my dear,” the woman behind the desk said gently. “If you don’t have the money, we don’t give you the item.”

“But you see I really need this,” Hermione insisted tapping the book and feeling Snape’s eyes on her and wanting to be swallowed up. She must look utterly pathetic. “It’s imperative I have this book.”

The witch gave Hermione a small shrug as if to say “oh well” and went to take the book back. Hermione felt her hands shaking as she saw her one chance at escaping the past being slowly pulled away from her across the desk. Snape slowly lowered his hands into his robes pocket.

“Let me buy that for you,” came a voice from behind her. Hermione slowly turned at the honeyed voice to see Sirius standing at her elbow, giving her a warm smile. Hermione could have thrown her arms around his neck and kissed him for that. As it was she gave him a grateful smile instead.

“Oh thank you,” she breathed, trying not to sound too pathetic. “You have no idea how much I appreciate this. I will pay you back of course.”

She of course wouldn’t be, but if she recalled Sirius Black was not hurting for money in any way. Snape watched in disdain as the Lockheart girl fairly fawned over Black and his chivalry. He removed his hands from his robes, clenching his teeth and watching them through his curtain of hair.

“Nonsense,” Sirius replied, throwing several sickles onto the desktop and glancing back over at Hermione with a large grin. Snape rolled his eyes at the display, trying not to wretch at the pathetic display. The woman behind the counter gave them a knowing smile before taking the book.

“I’ll just wrap this up nicely for you so it doesn’t get damaged on your way back,” she said with a wizened smile. “I’ll be back in a jiff.”

“Thank you so much for this,” Hermione gushed, knowing that Sirius didn’t truly grasp how much he was actually helping her. He gave a shy shrug before placing a palm on the register casually looking to her from under impossibly long eyelashes.

“Listen Lockheart, you can consider us square if you’ll consider being James’s date for the Slug Club Party.”

Hermione immediately grew cold, pulling away from the boy in displeasure. Was there no decent boys in all of this decade? What kind of person did they take her for? Some bimbo to hang off of James Potter’s arm?

“I’m not going to any party with anyone,” Hermione insisted, flashing a dark look in Sirius’ direction. “Like I said, I’m very thankful for your help and I’ll pay you back for the book and we’ll be square. But I have no interest in being anyone’s date for any party.”

“James is keen on you,” Sirius insisted, giving Hermione an imploring look. He had come into the shop after he’d spied Hermione specifically so he could give his mate a chance! He knew how much James wanted to ask Hermione to the dance, but knowing James and having been rebuffed by Lily so many times he was trigger shy.

“He’s keen on Lily,” Hermione countered.

“Lily never gives him the time of day,” Sirius said with a shrug, not noticing as Snape’s lips curled into a grin. “I’m sure he’d love to attend the party with you.”

“Well I’m afraid I don’t fancy him,” Hermione insisted gently, trying not to be cruel. “Not just him, I have no interest in anyone. It’s nothing personal, I’m just very focused on my studies. Please let him know that I’m very flattered, but I can’t.”

Sirius seemed to mull on this a moment before nodding. He couldn’t force the girl could he? Perhaps James should give Lily another try?

“Well you won’t go to the party with James then will you consider putting in a good word for me with Hestia? Those legs of hers go on for days.”

Hermione surprised herself with a short snorting laugh, Sirius’s response truly upending her. She couldn’t help but think that Hestia and Sirius would make a disastrous couple, and she knew she couldn’t mess about with their timelines even if she wanted to.

“I’ll think about it,” she said giving him a playful shove that surprised even her. She didn’t know why but Sirius seemed like the flirty friend one had that felt almost brotherly. It was if he were a bit like Harry in that regard.  

“I’ll see you outside,” Sirius said with a playful grin before departing.  Hermione watched him leave, purposefully bumping into an eavesdropping Snape’s shoulder. His parcel fell to the floor and he scrambled to pick it up, muttering about dogs under his breath.

Serves him right.

The old witch came back with the book wrapped in brown paper and tied with a piece of twine. “Here you are dear,” she said handing the book to Hermione.

“Brilliant, thank you,” Hermione said effusively, gripping the book close to her chest and preparing to walk out the door. She groaned as Snape’s tall frame loomed into view. Her hand was on the doorknob to the shop when Snape intercepted her. 

“So you’re on the Sirius Black bankroll now are you?” He sneered. “How convenient it must be to buy ones friends.”

 Hermione saw a dark flash go through his eyes and she stepped towards him in defiance.

“I thought I was supposed to be staying away from you?” Hermione demanded, not caring that the shopkeeper could hear them. “It’s pretty hard to do that when you won’t stop following me around! So get lost and leave me alone!”

With that she angrily pushed by Snape and rushed from the shop, feeling his malevolent glare on her as she went. 

***

“I think I’d like to play a prank on ol’ Snapey,” James said gleefully as they walked along the high street. “It’s been a while since we really got the git.”

 They had previously been talking about the best way to spend their afternoon when Sirius had taken off, claiming he needed some supplies for school. While Lupin, James and Harry waited outside the shop for him, James had made this bold proclamation.

“We shouldn’t,” Harry offered gently, feeling traitorous as his father glanced over in surprise.  

“Why would you stick up for Snivellus?” James asked harshly. “He’s impossibly rude to your friend Lockheart!”

“Yes, well, we wouldn’t want to get in trouble,” Harry offered feebly. “Not in our short time here. Besides, I’m sure he’s harmless. Just a lot of hot air.”

The other boys exchanged a look that didn’t set well with Harry at all. Did they know Snape was a Death Eater? Harry tried his best to school his features impassively.

“Do you know what he and his lot did to Mary MacDonald last year?” Lupin said quietly. The rest of the boys looked away, obviously knowing something that Harry didn’t.

“What?”

Lupin debated whether or not to share, but then deciding that Harry was like one of them, he went on in his usual quiet way.

“Mulciber used the Imperious curse on her. He made her take off her knickers and give them to him in the middle of the corridor one day.”

Harry felt his stomach recoil at that. Thinking of Snape being a part of that gang made him wince. He was having a harder and harder time imagining Snape as this war-hero of the future.

“Then before he could do anything worse, the Headmaster came to see what the issue was. But by then they’d all taken off and no one wanted to tell her the truth. Poor Mary didn’t even remember what happened. They still tease her now about it.”

“Were you there?”

“Of course not,” James said with a snort. “If we’d been there he never would have stood a chance.”

Judging by the looks on the boy’s faces, Harry knew that what James was saying was the truth. They never would have stood for that sort of thing, especially when it targeted one of their own.

“Why don’t you tease Mulciber then?” Harry asked curiously. “Or Avery for that matter?”

“I dunno,” James said with a shrug. “Snape is just so much more fun to tease, I suppose. He always gives such a good reaction. Yelling and shouting and threatening. Plus, he gives as good as he gets. It’s rather more like a competition than anything. He’s the one who started it all those years ago.”

“Really?”

“Yep,” James agreed. “Our first year. It was the Valentine’s party, Lily and Severus were friends back then. Well anyway, I’d gotten Lily this large box of chocolates.”

“He was quite sweet on her back then,” Lupin interjected. “Still is, actually.”

As I was saying,” James continued with a patch of pink starting on both his cheeks. “I’d gotten her this large box of chocolates. I gave it to her during the party and when she bit into one a large cockroach came crawling out. The entire box was full of them!  She was so furious she threw the entire box at me and didn’t speak to me again until our third year. And there was Snape, standing beside her and giving me the smuggest look I’ve ever seen.  I knew in an instant he’d been behind it. He even admitted it last year when we had his head in the toilets. But by then he and Lily weren’t speaking so it didn’t matter much. And I suppose ever since then we’ve engaged in pranking one another.”

“Why did Lily stop talking to him?” Harry asked, even though he already knew. He was curious to her father’s take on all of it.  Sirius suddenly rushed out of the shop, listening in politely as James continued.

“I don’t really recall,” James said with a shrug. “He got mad at her one day. Called her a mudblood. She never really forgave him.”

“Can’t blame her,” Harry said. “Hermione’s got muggle parents and if I ever hear someone use that word I just lose it.”

“Yeah well, after that Snape got worse. He started hanging around more and more with that lot Mulciber and Avery,” James suddenly looked solemn. “I hear they’re tied up with you-know-who. They’re completely obsessed with Dark Magic. It’s why I’m so concerned for your friend, Lockheart. She shouldn’t get caught up with them.”

“She won’t,” Harry insisted.

At that very moment the door to Scrivenshaft’s jangled open and Hermione walked through the door angrily. Hot on her heels was Severus Snape fixing the back of her head with an unreadable look. She took off down towards Madam Puddifoots and Snape towards the Hog’s Head. No one could deny that the two of them had exchanged words before their dramatic exit.

The three boys looked over to Harry with uncomfortable glances before James spoke softly.

“From what I can see Harry, she already has.”

***

Draco walked towards the Hog’s Head tavern, his mouth dry and his breathing accelerated. Severus had told him to meet Lucius there at 11 o’clock and that he would arrive shortly after. He himself had something he needed to pick up first. Draco had tried not to jump at the opportunity too quickly, casually saying he’d meet him there.

But now it was 10:55 and Draco glanced up at the worn wooden sign over the door that displayed the severed head of a Boar. Draco had never actually been in this pub, often favoring the Three Broomsticks. The Hog’s Head had always been known as a bit dodgy, a bit dirty. As Draco walked in the front door he was chagrined to find that the rumors were true.

A tall, grumpy looking wizard with blue eyes peered back at Draco from over the bar before going into the back. Sawdust was strewn about the floors, and Draco was dismayed to find it even smaller than it had appeared on the outside. Grime of centuries clung to every window and he grimaced as he realized that even the rags behind the bar seemed filthy. Just being in this room was making his skin crawl.

Yet he knew why his father had suggested such a place. It was off the main street, no students ever came here. Not even the teachers of Hogwarts. Even now while the rest of the shops were bustling, the Hog’s Head was veritably empty, save for the silver-haired man with his back to the door in a booth in the shadows.

Father.

Draco felt his throat tighten as he saw the familiar back of his father’s head. He longed to rush over, to hug him tightly even though his father had never been one for emotional demonstration. But of course he stilled, trying to take on an air of casual indifference. He walked haughtily over to the table. He saw the man tilt his head in interest as he approached.

“Are you Lucius?” Draco asked, feeling idiotic because he knew it was.

At this Lucius glanced over fully, taking in the pale boy in front of him. It surprised him, for the boy could be a relative of his own! He stood, giving Draco a formal once over and finding favor he nodded to himself.

“You must be Dragon,” Lucius said extending his hand to the blonde boy in front of him. “I’ve heard much about you from Severus. Please, take a seat.”

“It’s Draco,” the boy corrected, shaking the wizard’s hand and openly gaping.

While many could agree that Lucius Malfoy outwardly grew up to be a very handsome wizard, as a young man he was fairly beautiful. His was so silver it glistened and his cold grey glittered under thick blonde eyelashes. His pale, pointed face held an air of sophistication and Draco tried to look away for fear of staring.  

It was strange seeing him here now, only a few years older than Draco yet so much more confident, self assured. He looked down his pointed nose at the boy, giving Draco a cold smile.

 “So you’ve come to learn more about the Dark Lord,”

“Yes,” Draco nodded, his throat constricting slightly.  With that Lucius brought out his wand, casting a silencing charm over the both of them so they could talk in privacy.

“The Dark Lord is the only true power left in this world,” Lucius said finally, taking a large sip from the tumbler in front of him. “He intends to bring pure-blood wizards the power and status that is rightfully ours. He no longer believes we need a world of muggles and mudbloods sullying our lines. What do you say to that, Draco?”

Draco nodded gently, trying to digest the information. While his father had told him many things about Voldemort in the future, actually sitting here with him talking so openly made his skin crawl. Right now, in this time, Voldemort was on the precipice of taking over.

“I say that it’s about time,” Draco offered shakily. “I’m sick to death of having to work alongside those who are unworthy.”

He was about to say something else when Severus strode into the abandoned tavern, his countenance grim as he strode over the pair. He slipped in beside Draco, pushing the package towards Lucius, along with a few sickles and knuts

“Oh please keep the change Severus,” Lucius said with a sickening smile. “Treat yourself to something from Honeydukes for your trouble.”

Severus blushed furiously before shoving the money back into his robes and crossing his arms in front of him. Everyone knew he was skint, even the jacket he wore looked threadbare. Lucius looked to the package before them and gave a small smile.

“Gents, this is exactly what we need to bring that mudblood down.”

Chapter Text

 

“We have to make our own wormhole,” Hermione explained to Harry as they sat in the Library two afternoons later. She pointed to a small bit of text in the book she’d bought. She’d spent the entire last two nights reading until her eyes were crossed and she’d fallen into a deep sleep. From what she gathered it was rather complicated mix of magic.

“See right here. It gives the potion and spell that could make it happen.”

“So if it’s so simple why doesn’t everyone do it?” Harry asked, shocked that Hermione had figured this out. He never failed to be impressed with Hermione when she set her mind to something. She was animated as she spoke, pointing to the book and the piece of parchment she’d scribbled on.

“Well firstly it’s not that simple,” Hermione said, pointing to the list of supplies they would need. “Look at all this; it’ll take weeks to find it all. Then when we actually have everything we need that’s still not enough. We need those in the future to open one on the other side.”

“Hermione that’s impossible.”

“Don’t say that,” Hermione said, biting back anxious tears. “I know we can do it. We just need some time and we need some supplies. I think I can get the first three, but I need you to grab the last three. Do you think you can manage?”

“I’ll try my hardest,” Harry said, meaning it. He knew Hermione had given up so much for him. They’d been stuck in this past almost three weeks. Three weeks away from the comforts of home, away from family and loved ones.

“And while you’re at it, think about how we can contact those in the future without irreparably ruining the timeline,” Hermione added. “That’s where I’m getting rather stuck.”

“Consider it done.”

Hermione continued to read on in silence with Harry glancing over his shoulder every few moments as he mulled over how to reach the future.  Hermione noticed this and looked up from her book.

“Waiting for someone?”

“Erm, the guys,” Harry said sheepishly. “We’re going to do a bit of dueling for fun.”

“Don’t you think you should be focusing on how to get these items?” Hermione asked strictly, holding up the parchment in front of Harry’s nose. “Or how to contact the future?”

“Yes,” Harry agreed, taking the parchment and shoving it into his robes pocket. “It’s just, well, can’t I do both?”

Before Hermione could reprimand him, the door to the library creaked open and Sirius’ dark head had peeked around the corner. His eyes settled on Hermione and Harry and he gave a small wave in their direction.

“C’mon Wings,” Sirius whispered loudly, earning him a loud “shhhhh” from the irritated Madame Pince.  Hermione glanced over at Harry with a raised eyebrow.

Wings?”

“Because I’m so good on a broom,” Harry said with a self conscious laugh.  Hermione rolled her eyes good naturedly as her friend took off, leaving her alone and considering the book.  The eggs of a lolligo. She didn’t even know what a lolligo was! She’d have to continue researching that one.

She frowned deeply, thinking about how she would acquire this before glancing at the second item. A phoenix feather – that shouldn’t be too hard. She hoped Albus would be on board with it. She couldn’t see why not. But if he wasn’t, she could always try Ollivanders. Her eyes drew down to the third item, her head pounding as she re-read what she’d need to procure: Unicorn blood. Bloody Unicorn blood! Why she might as well just get a lock of Tom Riddle’s pubic hair at that rate!

She glanced up to see she’d been in the library almost two hours. She needed to take a walk and stretch her legs. Most importantly she needed to see Albus about the phoenix feather. She pulled the book into her book bag and slung it over her shoulder before heading to the Headmaster’s office.

She made her way down the corridor, thankful not to run into anyone she knew. She rushed up the winding steps to the office. She knocked gently, waiting for him to welcome her in and opened the door. Albus sat in his office looking happily to Hermione.

“Welcome Miss Lockheart,” he said softly. “Please shut the door behind you.”

Hermione did as she was asked before taking a seat across from Albus.  “Can I offer you anything? Tea or pastries? A chocolate frog perhaps?”

“No sir,” Hermione insisted, placing the book on Albus’s desk and opening it to the pertinent page. “I’m here because I actually think I might know a way of getting us home. But I need your help.”

Albus leaned forward in interest, his eyes wide. He had been so consumed with Tom Riddle and Order business that he’d not had as much time to devote himself to their cause as he would have liked. He was delighted that she seemed to have made some progress.  He glanced over the page in the book, reading quickly and nodding.

“I see,” he said nodding. “You’ll be needing Fawkes then.”

“Yes sir,” Hermione said solemnly. She watched as Dumbledore stepped over to the cage, petting the bird gently before grabbing one of its fallen wings on the bottom of the cage. And handing it out to her.

“Will this do?”

“Brilliantly,” Hermione said with a large grin. She pulled the feather from Albus’ grip and shoved it into the envelope she’d grabbed off his desk. “Only a few more items needed and then there’s the matter of future contact.”

“Future contact?” Albus said with a raised eyebrow.

“We need to contact our future selves,” Hermione said with a shrug. “They need to open their own wormhole in the future to allow us to travel through. But I’ve no idea how to actually do that without upsetting the timeline.”

Albus pursed his lips at this, considering Hermione for a moment before a light came on in his twinkling blue eyes. He leaned across the desk excitedly. “Do the portraits still hang in the headmaster’s office in your time?”

“Yes,” Hermione said, looking to Dumbledore in interest. “Why?”

“Let me handle that,” Albus said with a smile. “It’s about time I was able to give you some sort of reprieve in this predicament. Continue about your day, Miss Granger. I assure you that all will be taken care of.”

***

Firmly in the future McGonagall looked at the photo's Ron had brought her hours earlier and shook her head sorrowfully, refusing to wallow in despair but finding it all too difficult.  She had been pacing back and forth for the last little bit, trying to clear her head before glancing back at the items on her desk.

"Oh Harry m'boy," she said lowly, "what have you done?"

The various photos lay about on the large mahogany desk, and in each of them were Ron, Hermione and a shadowy looking Harry.  It wasn't that he was dark and smoky, it was as if in all the photo's that Harry had been in, he was near transparency, quite opaque.  His smile the same, his waving was still emphatic. But he was ceasing to exist in the photos as if he were being erased. 

But why? And why just Harry?

Her eyes drew to the door of the office opening with a creak. Horace walked into the office tiredly, his eyes bleary. He held out a small sloshing vial and handed it to McGonagall with an air of deference. 

“It’s the best I can do in such a short timeframe.”

McGonagall nodded, grasping the vial and rushing off to the Room of Requirement.  Minutes later she and Ron stood there, looking at what Ron assured her was the room when they’d left. She unscrewed the potion, slowly tossing it into the air and waiting.

A small pink cloud of smoke began from the floor slowly curling up into billowing curls. It travelled the length of the Room of Requirement as Ron and Minerva glanced over at it. It seemed to before coming to settle over the turning into a bright purple. It stayed like this a good five minutes before disappearing completely.

Having no experience with this type of potion, Ron glanced over at Minerva.  “What’s that mean?”

Minerva glanced over at Ron with a dark look on her face, her lips thinning into urgent lines of displeasure.

“It means they never left this room, Mister Weasley.”

***

“Hermione!”

Harry rushed over to Hermione who was on her way up from the Slytherin common room on her way to the library. The common room had been mercifully empty since everyone else was out at a Quidditch match. Slytherin versus Gryffindor if she was correct; always a heated match. Hestia had promised to tell her all about it when she got back, not noticing that Hermione could care less.

“I’m surprised you’re not at the match!” Hermione said in surprise. “Weren’t you going to be an alternate?”

“I told them I was ill,” Harry said breathing heavily, obviously having run all over to find her. “It gave me a bit of time to sneak off and get this.”

He passed something to Hermione in a small unmarked vial with a thick cork. “It’s the Lobalug venom. I used James invisibility cloak to get it from Slughorn’s stores. I’m working on getting some of that moonseed powder listed, but Slughorn didn’t have any that I could see. I’ll check in with the Herbology teacher and if nothing turns up I’ll-”

Hermione threw her arms around Harry’s neck before he could finish, nearly choking him. He had come through for them! She wasn’t completely on her own here! She could have cried for the relief that this simple act brought her.

“Oh Harry, you’re an absolute star!” Harry pulled back from the embrace with a shy smile on his face.

“And I’ve spoken to Dumbledore,” Hermione added excitedly. “He’s got an idea of how to contact the future. Oh Harry, it’s going to happen, I can feel it! We’re going to go home!”

She was about to say something more when Lily rounded the corner, viewing the two and giving a wave.  Harry watched as she approached, never quite believing that this slip of a girl would one day in the not too distant future give her life for him. He sometimes found himself staring at her, wondering if she had any inkling of what lay ahead.

When he saw her youthfulness, her vitality he felt a pang of sadness go through him. And she was so nice to everyone! Even the students no one would give a second glance to! She would speak to them, patiently listen to them, give them helpful advice. It was no wonder that from Severus to James men were captivated with her, that they were drawn to her sweetness.

“Hello you two,” Lily said as she approached, giving them both a beaming smile that raised a lump in Harry’s throat. “Did you see the match? Very gripping!”

“Actually I was just heading back to bed,” Harry said, trying to cough into his hands. “Not feeling so well. See you later.”

With that he’d taken off down the hall, feeling the tears that were starting to build every time he saw his mom. Hermione watched him go; knowing what must be going through his mind.  She looked back to Lily who was shooting Hermione a large smile.

“What have you been up to the last few nights?” Lily asked with a grin. “Hestia was hoping you’d show up to her Gobstones match.”

“I know,” Hermione said with a pang of regret as she recalled Hestia’s disappointed face. “I’ve just got this project I’m working on – for my other school. I just really need to focus the next little bit.”

Lily nodded, about to add something  when Hermione viewed Horace Slughorn approaching them with a tottering nod. Hermione lowered her gaze, assuming he’d want to speak to Lily about some Potions project. She was surprised however to see his gaze firmly directed at her.

“Miss Lockheart I wanted to speak to you a moment if you please,” Slughorn said gently. Hermione felt her stomach drop. What now? She wasn’t even in Potions again until next week! Lily nodded towards Hermione before walking over to the side of the corridor, waiting patiently. Hermione looked up to her professor expectantly.  

“Yes sir?”

“I’ve noticed these past few weeks that aside from that one unfortunate accident, you are a mighty talented witch. I’ve heard from the other Professors that you’re just as formidable in your other subjects,” he said with a jubilant tone.

Hermione couldn’t help but preen at the compliment. Even in moments such as these she enjoyed being appreciated for her mind.

“Thank you sir.”

“And on that note I’d like to extend you entry into my Slug Club. It’s a bit of a social club where students come together to discuss the events of the day. We even have a party coming up in time for Halloween. It will be a wonderful chance to rub elbows with individuals of high society; all former Slug Club members of course.”

Hermione faltered a moment, recalling this exact moment almost twenty years from now.  She knew what awaited her at the Slug Club – a lot of boring talks, sickly sweet deserts and parties that she found interminable.  She tried to extricate herself politely.

“Oh I don’t know, Professor. I’m very honored, please make no mistake. But I’m afraid I don’t know how long I’ll be here. My parents and working with the ministry at the moment and we could be whisked away at a moment’s notice,” Hermione could see he wasn’t budging. “I would hate to take the place of a much more permanent student of Hogwarts. Someone who is more deserving of such an exclusive invite.”

“You are most thoughtful,” Horace said with a large smile, feeling pleased that this Lockheart knew the importance of his little Club.  “And quite charming at that! But I assure you, Miss Lockheart, there is room for all in the Slug Club that hold promise. Now, our next club meeting will be two weeks from Tuesday. To be held in my office at eight o’clock promptly. Be sure to bring your appetite!”

With that he strolled off down the hall, whistling in delight at his newest procurement. Hermione groaned inwardly, looking over to see a very overjoyed looking Lily Evans.

***

Draco drew into the common room, seeing Severus and the rest of the gang over by the far window engaged in solemn talks. No one bothered them; they seemed to hold an air of quiet power around them when together that the rest of the students tended to shy from.

“Ah,” Avery said when he viewed Draco. “Our newest member.”

Draco gave a grim smile before walking over to them, coming to stand beside Severus. The rest of them resumed their conversation in earnest, casting a silencing charm over them to ensure privacy.

“Severus was just informing us that Lucius is in the process of creating the perfect hex from that book of dark spells,” Mulciber said with a shark-like grin.  “That mudblood won’t be bothering us for much longer.”

“What sort of hex?” Draco asked, trying to remain casual. Inside his mind was whirring, his face trying to remain impassive. A hex against Granger?  But she was their best shot at actually returning to the future! But how to protect her without seeming like it?  He couldn’t think of any way to do it that wouldn’t rouse suspicion in his direction. And he needed the trust of these fools if he was to complete what he’d started.

 “Its one of his own invention,” Severus replied flatly. “Lucius has always been quite good with a wand. We’ll know soon enough.”

“But what will it do?” Draco urged, knowing that he was starting to appear quite desperate. “I’ve always had such an interest in curses and hexes.”

“It’ll get her out of our hair for a while,”  Avery said with a dark chuckle. Mulciber joined in, leaving Severus and Draco standing with their mouths in firm lines. They boys seemed to notice this and immediately looked to their newest member in suspicion.

“You won’t be running off to tell her, will you Parkinson?” Mulciber threatened darkly. “I’m afraid the Dark Lord doesn’t take kindly to mudblood sympathizers. And neither do we for that matter.”

“No, of course not,” Draco replied indignantly, knowing that he had no chance of saving Granger now. All eyes would be on him, and he still had his original plan to work on.

“Good,” Mulciber said without conviction before turning to them. “Now, I think the Quidditch match is about to start. I’ve got twenty sickles on Slytherin trouncing Gryffindor. Who’s in?”

The rest of the group gave a solemn nod before following the lanky boy up the stairs. Draco glanced over to Severus to see that the boy had a rather curious look on his face. Did Severus really believe that a hex was a good idea or was he simply going along with it? Could he trust Severus to confide in if he thought this was an unwise idea. In the end Draco decided that he wasn’t really sure what side Severus would choose.  

But then again that was Snape all over; you never knew if you could trust him or not.

***

Hermione walked out into the courtyard of Hogwarts, needing some fresh air and a chance to collect her thoughts. How on earth was she going to get out of this party?

“Hermione!” Hestia and Lily called out to her at once, giggling at their sing-song voices in unison. Hermione gave a small smile and headed in their direction before plonking herself down on the bench next to the girls.

“Have you heard?” Hestia said with a broad smile.

“Heard what?”

“Sirius asked Hestia to the Slug party,” Lily said with a grin. Hestia continued to smile like an idiot, looking moonily off into the distance. Suddenly she sobered, looking to Hermione with a sad face.

“What’s the matter?”

“I just realized you both still don’t have dates,” she said with a frown.  Hermione tried to contain a smirk that was pulling at the corner of her mouth. If only Hestia knew how content she was with that outcome!

“There’s still plenty of time,” Lily assured Hestia with a small smile.

“I’m quite fine with not having a date,” Hermione said with a dramatic sigh of joy. “I don’t even think we’ll be here that long.”

“You’ve been saying that for weeks!” Lily countered, clearly unimpressed with this excuse. Hermione was about to counter with Hestia suddenly jerked off the bench with a small screech.

“I forgot! Today is the semi-finals of the Gobstones tournament!” she shouted, suddenly scrambling away from them. “If I don’t play today I’ll lose my spot!”

Her long legs carried her quickly away and Hermione and Lily smiled after their rather endearing friend. The two remaining girls sat on the bench, soaking up the silence until something niggled at Lily.

“Hermione, I know you like to keep a low profile. And I understand that may be your personality. But just in case you do decide you want a date for party, who do you think you’ll go with?"

"Probably Harry," Hermione said idly, her eyes closed as she faced the warm sun. Harry was as safe a bet as any. Lily made a face, knowing she had to tell Hermione but wondering if it wasn't an intrusion. Deciding Hermione needed to know either way she finally decided to speak.

"Erm, I believe he's going with Miranda Jones from Hufflepuff" Lily said tersely as Hermione's dark eyes darted up to meet her own. "She asked him last week and he agreed. That was why I was certain you were staying for the party."

"Oh.”

"So, if you're not going with Harry, you’ll need a different date.”

"I don't think so,” Hermione said stretching her back on the bench as she recalled her fourth year with a bit of a puzzled look on her face. "To be perfectly honest, I've never been that fond of parties.”

"But everyone who’s invited goes." Lily looked completely gobsmacked that Hermione might not attend. “Ol’ Sluggy will be quite slighted if you don’t.”

I don’t really care what ol’ Sluggy thinks, Hermione thought meanly. “I’ll think about it,” Hermione finally said, though her tone was flat. Lily turned on her, giving her the most dramatic pouty face she’d ever witnessed. It was so overdone that Hermione laughed out loud at the sight of it.

"You need to go! I want you to go," Lily continued pouting dramatically. "You're a good friend and I want you to enjoy yourself. You're always pouring over books, scurrying from class to class as if you're trying to hide from something."

Or someone.

"Oh fine," Hermione said evenly, "I suppose I'll go, for a few hours at least."

"Oh brilliant!" Lily said with a grin that slowly died as Hermione looked to her in question. "But, who are you going with?"

"I'll just go alone."

"But at the Slug Club dates to events are rather. . . expected." Lily said with a worried look on her face. Hermione merely shrugged her shoulder. Lily was quiet a few moments and then got an interested look on her face.

"What about Draco? I don't think he has a date."

"Not even if you paid me a thousand galleons."

Lily looked rather surprised at that. "Remus?"

"I'm afraid he's a bit too shy for me," Hermione lied, not wanting to tell her new friend that the ball -if her calculations were correct- fell on a full moon. Lily nodded, looking around the room as if for inspiration.

"Peter?"

Hermione didn't dignify that with an answer.

"Right. Sorry," Lily said with a laugh, "Stupid suggestion."

They lapsed into silence a moment as Hermione idly wondered how she'd get out of this obligation. If she flat out refused Lily would be disappointed and if she agreed she'd have to take a ruddy date.

"Oh I know!" Lily said with a smile, "Severus!"

Hermione actually cringed at the name, her mouth downturned into an angry glare at her paper. Severus Snape. Severus-nearly-shag-you-in-the-Potions-room-against-your-will-and-then-turn-out-to-be-a-monstrous-prat-Snape. How appealing.

"I hate him," Hermione muttered furiously as she wrote her essay whilst Lily looked on in question. She knew that they hadn't gotten on right away, but she hated him? She'd actually mentioned the name as a joke, but seeing Hermione's face and expressions she stopped.

"Oh he's not so bad," Lily said with a wayward smile, hoping that Hermione was just exaggerating. "He's just a bit irritable at times."

"How can you stand him?" Hermione said exasperatedly throwing her arms up in the air.

"Oh well," Lily looked to the sky as if her reason lay there. "I've known him since before our first year. He was a bit different then. He was quite wonderful actually."

"You've known James a long time and you loathe him," Hermione said sympathetically, looking to the blushing redhead in triumph.  

"I suppose in the matter of James, it's not that he's mean to me, but he preys on those he deems to be unpopular and in turn, less able to fight back. The weak."

"Severus surely isn't weak," Hermione said with a snort as she thought back to the Potions class. "He could kill me if he wanted to." the word were spoken lightly, but in light of recent events Hermione assumed the latter was true.

"He wouldn’t," Lily said knowingly as Hermione raised a questioning eyebrow. "Severus could do a number of things and he doesn't. It’s just that he’s caught up with those Mulciber and Avery prats. They’re one of the main reason I don’t speak to him anymore. He changed once he got involved with them."

Hermione wanted to pat Lily on the hand then, and tell her everything. That Severus was indeed as vicious as he appeared, and that yes he was a follower of Voldemort. She'd then want to tell her that he'd become a spy in his later years and that he'd turned out half decent. Suddenly the thought of the real Professor Snape and home seemed so far off that she felt suddenly sick and she dropped her eyes to the grass below. The Snape of now and the Snape of the future felt like such different people sometimes.

"I suppose you're right," Hermione said with a weak nod. "But aside from Mulciber and Avery, don’t you find that he has a very close and vested interest in you know who?"

"I think it’s all a ruse,” Lily said excitedly, her green eyes sparkling as she held in a smile. "I think that Severus is just spying on you know who, you know, using all of those awful Slytherin lot as a type of pawn. He's terribly clever that way."

Clever enough to get you murdered.

"Right," Hermione finally said with a nod. "As you keep telling me."

“It won’t matter if you go with him or not,” Lily finally observed with a shrug. “He’s one of Slughorn’s hand-picked originals. He’s been a member of the Slug Club since his third year.”

“Oh great,” Hermione grumbled.

They lapsed into thoughtful silence a moment as Hermione recalled the looks James had been giving her this the past few days. Wasn't he supposed to be acting like this towards Lily? She looked to the redhead with a look of interest then.

"Lily, do you often talk to Severus?"

"Oh no," Lily said with a shake of her head. "Not for a long time."

"Then, if you don't mind me asking, why were you writing him a letter that day we were in your closet?" Hermione held her breath, hoping this conversation wouldn't blow up in her face.

Lily looked to Hermione in surprise. "You saw that?"

"Erm, yes,” Hermione said remembering the first day. "We weren't sure when to exit the closet, so we saw a bit. Nothing to be worried about-" she added as Lily's face blanched. "I just saw that you were, writing a letter- to Severus. And it seemed, well, odd, considering. . ." she trailed off.

Lily looked to her hands, a small blush rising on her cheeks as she did so.

"You want to know the truth?" Lily said with a small giggle as Hermione nodded excitedly. Lily opened her mouth to say something, a glimmer in her eyes when suddenly she turned red and shook her head. "Oh I couldn't."

“Yes, yes you can!" Hermione said with a small laugh. She nudged Lily playfully on the arm as she spoke. "Of course you can."

"Oh I can't," Lily said resolutely, looking back to her book and shaking her head until her light hair almost covered her face. "You'd call me a terrible hypocrite and everything else."

"Oh come then, I won't!" Hermione said sternly, trying to look authoritative. "Tell me now Miss Evans, I demand to hear it."

"Oh fine," Lily said with a giggle before glancing around to make sure they weren’t being overheard. "The truth is, I was writing to Severus to well, tell him to stop bothering James."

"WHAT!?" Hermione exclaimed in shock. "After all that talk about James being so cruel!"

"Well he can be!" Lily said defensively as Hermione gaped at her. "But that day, Severus was asking for it."

Hermione finally laughed out loud at the absurdity of it all, her eyes almost overflowing with amusement at the situation. It was the traditional love-hate relationship, and with Lily and James it was just too much.  Sometimes it was like night and day with those two. Lily was an compassionate young woman who had no time for proud boasting. James on the other hand was a show off plain and simple.

"So," Hermione asked when she'd finally composed herself. "Are you going with him to the party?"

Lily blushed slightly, "he asked me a few weeks ago, but I turned him down."

Hermione shook her head, bemused with the situation. How James and Lily had become married was beyond her. "If I know James he'll probably be banging on your door to ask you within the week, trust me."

Lily nodded, "I was sort of hoping he would. I want to give him a second chance. He seems to have changed these past few weeks, for the better I hope. Why, he and Severus haven't had one bad word between them."

That's because Snape's been too busy bullying me. Hermione thought for a fleeting moment, then forced a smile on her face.

"Hermione, don't be too hard on Severus," Lily suddenly said, much to Hermione's surprise. "I mean, he's come from a horrible family. His parents were always fighting and-"

"How do you know?"

"We used to be friends," Lily admitted reluctantly, "Until we got older. Snape got meaner. I suppose it all ended when James had him upside down with his underpants on full display. I tried to reason with James but Severus took one hateful look at me and said, 'I don't need help from you Mudblood.'"

"What did you say?" Hermione said with a lump in her throat. She too understood the pain of being called such a cruel name. She could almost feel the tears at the back of her eyes.

"I told him to wash his underpants."

The two of them broke out into laughter then, as horrible as the situation was, but picturing Severus upside down with his underpants on full display was too funny a mental image to be stifled. And for the first time since she’d arrived in the past, Hermione felt herself let go and truly laugh.

 

Chapter Text

 

It had been a full week since her altercation with Snape in Hogsmeade and thankfully it had been the end of it. No more Snape spit balls, he sat as far away from her as possible during classes, ignored her in the halls and at meals and was effectively tuning her out. She had done the same in turn and found it to be a most pleasant and tension releasing turn of events.  She could concentrate on getting back home and out of the past whilst not having to worry about being sabotaged by the ridiculously strange Severus Snape.

Albus had told them that he’d put his plan into action to contact their future selves and Hermione took him at his word. She’d also been working hurriedly to find the rest of her own supplies. While she’d managed to get the phoenix feather and had a rather dangerous plan for getting the unicorn blood, she couldn’t help but feel she was failing immensely. She’d scoured the library for any hint of what a lolligo was and had come up empty. She’d prepared the rest of the potion in Dumbledore’s office – he’d given her special use – but it was still not close to being ready.

On the nights she wasn’t hiding out in the library, she'd been trying every spell in the book with her wand, and had suckered Harry into several nights of spell making only to find that their wands were practically useless in this realm of time.

"It just doesn't work," Harry had said exasperatedly one night with another flicker of sparks coming out his wand. "We can only use the simplest of spells. And even they can be faulty sometimes. My transfiguration class today was bollocks. I couldn’t even turn a rat into a teacup at this point!"

Hermione had been quite discouraged to find that the only spells available were those of barely used energy. Gods it was annoying. Every day they stayed here she could feel the magic of her wand growing weaker and weaker. It was already drawing to mid October for goodness sake!  She knew that time was different between the two realms now that they were so immersed in the past. What was a month for them was perhaps only a few hours back home. But still, the fact remained that they were no closer to getting home.  

But they'd know by now that we're gone, she thought miserably as she brought out a fresh piece of parchment and tried to start on her blasted essay once more. Ron must have told them by now.

But in this short month at Hogwarts Hermione had grown quite attached to the people, and she knew Harry was in complete euphoria every time he passed her in the hall with James.

Ah James. He was starting to be a bit more of a problem. Whenever she wasn't with Lily or Hestia he'd be there, chatting with her and trying to get her to come to Quidditch practice to watch him play.  She hadn’t been sure if Sirius had given him her prior message, but she certainly hoped so. Each time she turned him down she could see a flicker of disappointment cross her features and she felt poorly. But genuinely, even if she wanted to she couldn’t date Harry’s dad! She could only imagine the bizarre change of world that would exist if she did. Besides, Lily would hate her and Hermione couldn’t stand the thought of that.

Draco on the other hand had been as slippery as Nagini. She tried following some some afternoons to see where he went as he was rarely around for classes or meals. But often she would come to a dead end. Or he’d catch on that he was being followed and go into the gents washroom. It was very frustrating and Hermione wondered how she was going to wrangle Draco into going home. He hadn’t seemed particularly moved when she’d finally caught up with him and told her of their plan to get home.

Today she walked into Potions with her mind on the lolligo and saw as Horace gave her a particularly overt wave, causing her to inwardly groan when she recalled her plans for tonight.

Ugh. Right. The Slug Club Supper.

Hermione forced a smile on her face, not wanting to appear rude and took her place in between Hestia and Lily. They’d chosen a seat near the middle back and Hermione wondered if it was so the former girl could moon over Sirius during the class. When she saw the covert looks Hestia was casting towards Sirius as soon as class started, she knew she’d been right.

“All right class, last week we talked about the properties of hellebore. Today we’ll be drafting the draught of peace.  Can anyone tell me the side effects of such a draught?”

Hermione flung her arm into the air, recalling that they had made this in her sixth year and it had been very difficult. Hannah Abbot had needed it to make it through her O.W.L.’s. But of course before she could say anything, the lazy tone of Severus Snape sounded out behind her.

“It soothes all anxieties and provides a personal feeling of comfort.”

“Precisely right Mister Snape.  With the essay I assigned last week I thought this would be good timing,” Horace said with a small chuckle.  “In what order do the ingredients need to be added?”

“Moonstone, syrup of hellebore, powdered porcupine quills, powdered unicorn horn, more powdered moonstone, more of the quill powder and then exactly 7 drops of hellebore,” Hermione blurted before Snape got the chance. She hadn’t even bothered to raise her hand, but Slughorn didn’t seem to mind at all. Harry looked over at his friend impressed, and giving her a bright smile.

Very good, Miss Lockheart!” Horace said with glee, obviously glad to see that taking a chance on her entry into the Slug Club had been a wise idea.  Hermione didn’t have to look behind her to know that Snape was likely seething.  

Answering a few questions in class won’t change the future, Hermione decided with a small grin. I may as well enjoy myself in some small fashion while I’m here.

“Now because of the complexities of this particular potion, you’ll be working in groups,” Slughorn was saying as he walked between the rows of students, watching as they opened their spell books .

“I’ll grab the ingredients,” Lily offered before rushing to the storage room. Hestia began to pour the base of the potion into the cauldron, setting the flames on low. The amount of heat added to this potion was precarious and she didn’t want to blow it.

 Hermione glanced over to see Snape walking over to join Lily at the shelves on the far side of the room. She couldn’t help but be fascinated by them together, seeing how Snape seemed to visibly soften when she was around. Hermione viewed as Lily tried to reach something off the top shelf. The taller Severus pulled it down and handed it to her absently, ignoring as Lily thanked him. James came up beside them then, saying something to Lily and causing her to blush before she turned from him. Hermione saw as Snape glowered at the interaction, bumping into James and sending one of his vials crashing to the floor.

“Be more careful Mister Potter!” Slughorn admonished from his desk. “And clean that mess up.”

Snape’s face was impassive as he walked back to his table, his arms full of the necessary ingredients. He glanced over to see Hermione watching him and gave her a scowl. Lily returned moments later, looking excitedly to the two girls.

“Are you ready?

Before long the entire class had fallen quiet, preoccupied with the bubbling cauldrons in front of them. Hermione glanced up to see James looking at her and she gave a thin-lipped smile. He blushed at having been caught before going back to his cauldron with Sirius and Harry. Peter and Lupin were working with another Gryffindor boy, their attentions firmly on the creation in front of them.

Hermione took a moment to glance over at the table behind her to see Draco, Mulciber and Snape working quietly on their own potion. Well, in actuality, Draco and Mulciber were talking lowly to one another while Severus did the entire potion himself.

“Your potion should be turning a lovely shade of orange by now,” Slughorn called from the front of the room. Hermione was gratified to see that their potion was in fact the correct color. At this moment Slughorn received a small note from one of the house elves and he blanched. Apparently not all the items would be in place for his supper that evening and what kind of impression would that make?

“Pardon me students,” Slughorn said as he stood and rushed towards the door. “I’ll be back shortly. Just some business I need to take care of. Continue working on your draughts. Be sure to pay attention to your heat levels.”

With that he was out the door and rushing down the corridors at a mad pace. Hermione passed Hestia the moonstone, making sure that the girl wasn’t adding too much. While she waited for her friend to measure it out exactly her attention drifted and she could hear the boys a table over speaking in hushed tone.

“You don’t need us here,” Mulciber observed to Snape. “You’re always so good at potions. We’re not even helping. Draco and I are going to head out. We’ll see you later.”

Snape didn’t even hear them, so preoccupied was he on their assignment. It wasn’t a particularly hard one to brew, it was simply that the cauldrons were so old and finicky that Snape was concerned this one would alter his end result.

The two boys nodded to one another before heading out the door a few moments after Slughorn, leaving Snape working hurriedly alone. Hermione shot Snape a sympathetic look that he didn’t see, noticing that Lily was doing the same.  Before she could say anything to the girl, Hermione caught movement out the corner of her eyes.

Sirius and James were moving in between the rows of students, their eyes trained on the currently oblivious Severus. The rest of the students had their heads down in their work; only Hermione noticed their stalking advance.

 When Sirius saw that she was glancing at them he gave her a roguish wink.  She furrowed her brows in confusion before she saw the wand that he’d brought out of his robes; James as well. But now their eyes were trained on the tall boy behind her working to ensure that his potion turned out perfectly. But why now of all times and places? It was so risky!

It’s the only time his defenses are down, Hermione observed with a flash of horror. He thought he was safe in his haven of Potions and Hermione was furious at James and Sirius for even thinking of taking that from him. Her assumptions proved correct when Sirius and James both raised their wands at once.

“Don’t!” Hermione called out as she pulled her own wand from her robes in order to disarm James and Sirius. It didn’t matter that Snape was being a prat to her in this time period, she couldn’t let him be attacked like this. Who knew what kind of cruelty they had in store?  She just needed to knock their wands out of their hands.

“Expelliarmus!”

Her wand sputtered pathetically and the boys didn’t even hear her attempt. But it had been enough time to give Snape a fighting chance. He quickly raised his own wand and Hermione heard Snape call out a jinx of some sort that the boys in front of her easily deflected; it was two on one after all and Snape had been caught unprepared.

“Nasusauego!” the boys crowed eagerly as a violet light shot out from both of their wands and directly into the face of Severus Snape.

Why is that spell familiar?

Hermione and the rest of the class whipped around to view Severus Snape having fallen to his knees at the impact. His dark hair was curtaining his face as he struggled to stand. Suddenly it all came back to Hermione and she felt her fingertips absently go to her front teeth at the memory.

She and the other girls at the table watched Snape’s nose growing to a colossal size.  The entire class of students were gaping as the poor lad’s nose expanded at an alarming rate, reaching down below his chin before stopping completely. Snape stood angrily, his dark eyes barely visible behind his newly acquired affliction.

“HOW DARE YOU!” Snape shouted, his voice muffled as he spoke under the weight of such a proboscis. The class tittered with laughter at the sight, many of them trying to watch the spectacle and ensure that their potions weren’t ruined. Slughorn could be back at any moment and no one wanted to get in trouble this close to Halloween.

“What’s Snape on about?” Sirius said dramatically, looking to James with an exaggerated look of confusion before his eyes fell on the green-eyed boy standing at the desk behind them. “Harry do you know?”

Harry didn’t answer, his eyes currently on the floor. Hermione had been completely right when she warned him back in the Room of Requirement. He hadn’t wanted to see this side of his father. He hadn’t wanted to know that Snape had been justified in some of his hatred in the future. And now watching the cruelty inflicted by the two men he had always admired, Harry wished nothing more than to return home at once.

“I dunno Sirius,” James said in a horribly affected tone when he saw Harry wasn’t going to play along. “He seems to be quite agitated by us.”

“Do you suppose it’s that giant nose on his face?” Sirius said to the eager James, reminding Hermione of a particularly cruel version of the Weasley twins. “Do you think he blames us for it?”

They were starting to circle around Snape then and he was having a hard time keeping an eye on them. He could barely even grip his wand enough to raise it, his nose was so large and heavy.

“He couldn’t,” James said with a cruel laugh. “The only ones he can blame for that monstrosity are his parents!”

The entire class roared with laughter at that one, even Hestia was trying not to giggle from behind her hands. The only two figures in the room not smiling in the least were Hermione and Lily. Snape cast a look in their direction before clumsily gathering his books and pushing by the still laughing Sirius and James and out the door to the lab.

Hermione felt her blood boiling at this and before she could do or say anything Lily had marched over, raised her hand and slapped James Potter across the mouth harshly. The thick sound of her hand across his face made the entire class grow quiet. They stared at the Head Girl staring at the Head Boy wither overwhelming disappointment.  

“How could you be so cruel James Potter?” she shouted, her eyes filling with angry tears. “You’re just as big a prat as you’ve always been. I don’t know why I even bothered!”

With that Lily grabbed her own books and rushed from the potions lab, heading directly up to her Head Girl rooms where she could cry in private. Hermione could only stare at the two boys with a mixture of revulsion and horror at what she’d witnessed. She was about to say something more when she saw Harry, eyes glassy, running from the room as well.  

***

 In the darkness of the forbidden forest there stood three figures. One was a tall, handsome faced man with the haughty air of nobility. His figure was slim of build, his eyes were a delicate light grey that held a gaze that could still and cool anyone.

The other was a young man that resembled a great deal the other blonde, his face was narrow and pale, his sneer almost a habitual occurrence, only his hair was short, his face more prone to good natured mischief than carnage.

And the last was a small young man, a large stomach supported by beefy, short legs. He had a hunch; one could almost see him clutching his hands together in the front as if hiding something. His nose was long and offsetting from his ruddy features.

The three of them talked in earnest, the fat boy talking at great detail, his hands whirling all around as the other two looked on in interest. They wore their cloaks due to the biting weather and looked on around in case of spies. Suddenly something caught the leader of the group's attention in the chubby boy's words. His features grew stormy and his lithe body trembled in sudden rage.

"She did what?" Lucius roared in the forest, his eyes glimmering in anger as Peter stood before him, shaking in anticipation of what his words would mean, and then in fear at Lucius' response.

"She tried to stop them,” Peter repeated obediently. He was wearing a new cloak, trying to fit in with his new peers. James and the rest of the group hadn't missed him much, and he couldn't say he minded. He had new friends now. “She could see they were trying to perform a spell on him and she intervened.”

"And?”

"It didn’t work," Peter said lowly. "She must be very poor at spells."

Draco was silent, taking in this information passively.

"And then what?” Lucius said curious. "Did he allow her to defend him? A Mudblood?”

"He didn’t even notice," Peter said with a grin, "He was too busy trying to fight them off.”

"Bastards," Lucius spat angrily, pacing about in the small clearing they’d made for themselves.  "I can't believe it. Allowing those pathetic cretins to do this to Severus. And where were you Draco? You should have been at his side! Defending him! We’ll never garner the respect of that pathetic lot if we’re continually being shamed by them!"

Draco felt the harsh sting of his father’s words, even now 20 years ago his father could still cause him to want to void his bowels at the mere tone of his voice.

“I’m sorry,” he said deferentially. “I was with Mulciber.”

I was with Mulciber,” Lucius mimicked, causing Draco to pink in embarrassment. Peter took all of this in with secret delight. It was a such a change not to be the one being mocked or held up in disdain! He held a smile inward, his teeth biting into the flesh harshly.

"Pathetic," Lucius said angrily as Draco lowered his head in shame. "Some Death Eater you’ll be Parkinson.”

Peter grew quiet then, his beady eyes bulging as he took in this view.  Perhaps without Draco he could be the new favored one in Lucius eyes?  But he’d need new information, new gossip to keep the older boy interested.

"I’ll continue to report back anything I see or hear" Peter squeaked.

 “Very good,” Lucius said with a lazy drawl before glancing over at the ashamed Draco and then back to the desperate boy in front of him.  "However considering the facts I believe it's quite obvious what our next course of action shall be."

"What?" Draco said eagerly as Lucius smiled at him. The boy was one after his own heart, even if he had made a mistake earlier. He felt he could trust him with anything and he would obey blindly, just as the Pettigrew vermin would.

“It appears that it’s not just the mudblood who deserves our ire,” Lucius said with a wicked smile in their direction. “And it falls upon us to teach both she and those pathetic boys a lesson they won't soon forget."

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Hermione and Lily got ready for the Slug Club Supper silently in her Head Girl room. The red-haired girl’s eyes were pink and puffy from crying and Hermione wanted nothing more than to blurt out everything. That James would mature and she’d fall so desperately in love with him! That Harry would go on to save the wizarding world. But instead she brushed Lily’s hair and told the girl she looked beautiful. Lily gave her a grateful look and insisted she get to do Hermione’s hair as well.

“I hope you have a lot of product,” Hermione said with a sigh as she pointed to her hair. “It takes a lot of work to make this mess look decent.”

“Leave it to me,” Lily said with a smile as she swapped seats with her friend. She gently began to brush Hermione’s hair in long pulls downward that felt quite heavenly on Hermione’s tense scalp. Each brush seemed to take away a bit of her anxiety, her eyes falling shut as she was pampered.

“Your hair is so thick,” Lily commented, her brush taking away the tangles as she viewed Hermione’s shoulders relax. She grabbed a pink potion bottle from her nightstand, pouring some of the sticky mixture into her hands and rubbing before slowly sliding it through Hermione’s thick tresses.  After a few moments of diligent work, the hair was starting to become a bit less frizzed.

“There you go,” Lily said with a warm smile. Hermione opened her eyes to see her reflection in the mirror and she raised her eyebrows in surprise. Seeing her hair more managed was such a welcome treat. She never had the patience to do anything with it aside from large events like the Yule Ball.

“Do you often dress up for these suppers?” Hermione asked, her eyes on the reflection of Lily in the mirror. She didn’t remember really trying to dress up and impress for one of Slughorn’s suppers in the future and she wondered if it was a generational thing.

“Sometimes,” Lily said with a shrug as she walked over to her closet to pull out some lavender dress robes. “I suppose I feel it shows a level of respect for ol’ Sluggy. He’s such a sweet man, and he’s using his own personal time to host such events.”

Hermione smirked to herself, thinking of Slugorn’s ulterior motives. There was no selflessness on his part, but Hermione wasn’t about to break that to the sweet girl.

“I think you’re determined to see the good in everyone,” Hermione said admiringly to her friend.  Lily frowned a moment before shaking her head.

“Not everyone,” she said with a frown. “Not James Potter.”

Hermione wasn’t sure what to say to that. Should she intercede? Or was this simply how things were meant to play out? She hesitated before deciding to tow the line as best as she could.

“I don’t think he’s all bad.”

“Hermione!” Lily admonished, looking to her friend in absolute horror. “I thought you of all people would be on my side about this!”

“Well I mean he is rather. . .  immature,” Hermione acknowledged.  “But he is also very bright, and he’s very loyal to his friends. He’s very charming and personable and I do think he’s quite keen on you.”

Lily fixed Hermione with a grim look and Hermione felt terribly transparent.  She didn’t answer that and instead began to pull on her dress robes. Hermione looked down at her own everyday robes and wondered if she should change; but into what? No, she wasn’t there to make an impression anyhow. Her school robes would do just fine.

She realized with growing interest that tonight may well work out in her favor. She had been rather reluctantly heading to meet Lily in her Head Girl room when she’d been struck with something rather obvious.  She’d gone to see Albus earlier this afternoon but he’d had no idea what a lolligo was, and when she showed him the book he’d simply observed that it had been written several hundred years ago and they used much different language then. But Slughorn would surely know! He was the potions professor and he had been for a while. If any professor would know it would be him! And tonight during the supper would be the perfect time to ask without raising suspicion! She felt idiotic for not thinking of it sooner.

“Do you suppose Hestia’s very cross at not being able to come tonight?” Lily wondered, looking worried for her new friend as Hermione broke from her reverie. “I don’t want her to feel left out. But we aren’t allowed to bring dates to the suppers. Slughorn’s rule.”

“I think as long as Sirius gets to bring her to the party, she’ll be just fine,” Hermione said with a large smile.  The two girls smiled at one another a moment in private amusement. Hestia had been talking non-stop the past week about the party, what she’d be wearing and more.

“I thought it was very kind of you to stick up for Severus today,” Lily suddenly said from her place at the wardrobe, tightening the belt at her robes.

“Yes well,” Hermione gave an absent shrug. “I’d do it for anyone. They had him two on one and during classes. Terribly unfair.”

“I agree,” Lily said with a nod. “Still I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone stick up for Sev before.”

Hermione chose not to acknowledge the pointed gaze that her friend was shooting at her. Instead she stood and motioned towards the door.

“Shall we go?”

***

“Where are you off to?” Draco asked as Severus strolled out of the dormitory and into the common room. He was dressed the same as always, but his face looked freshly washed and his breath smelled of peppermint from where Draco sat on the sofa by the hearth.

“I’m off to the Slug Club supper,” Snape replied tiredly. He’d had the most awful day and he wanted nothing more than to hide inside his dormitory for the entire rest of the year. Knowing that he would be seeing Sirius and James tonight made him want to wretch.  

And of all things the Lockheart girl had come to his aid this afternoon! How embarrassing! If it hadn’t been for the damned weight of obscene nose he could have cast a counter hex back with no problem. As it was, he had had to rush off his dormitory where a very amused Draco and Mulciber had been sitting, smoking tobacco and speaking of Draco’s meeting that evening.

When Severus burst into the common room they recognized the handiwork of the Marauders immediately, with Mulciber casting a “Reducio” charm upon the frantic young wizard. When they’d tried to push him for information on what exactly had occurred he’d not answered, instead shutting himself up in his room for the remainder of the day.

That evening Draco had met Lucius and found out what had happened. He hadn’t known of Granger’s involvement until then, but he wasn’t shocked. She was such a Gryffindor do-gooder.  It was so predictable and yet he couldn’t fault her completely. If anything he should be thankful she gave him a fighting chance. If anything worse had happened to him, Draco knew it would have been on his head.

He’d had to rush back to Hogwarts quickly; worried his disappearance would set Granger into an even more heightened state of stalker-mode. He didn’t need her peering in on him at all hours of the day. It was bad enough he saw her at meals, the common room and classes. Would he have no privacy here? She was so remarkably bad at it as well – peering around corners, walking paces behind him with her bushy head half-hidden behind a book when he went for walks. It had been going on so regularly he often had to go into the gents lavatory just to get some peace, otherwise he feared he may strangle the girl.  

How had she survived the wizarding war with stalking skills this poor? He supposed wand being not quite up to snuff may have a small part in it, but he liked to pretend she was really just getting stupider with each passing year. It gave him a small sort of amusement.

Now in the confines of the Slytherin common room he remembered the parchment Lucius had given him in the forest and quickly pulled it from his robes pocket.

“I think I may have something for your supper,” Draco said, sliding off of the chair and waltzing over to Snape. The rest of the room was quiet, only a few students remained and those that did were caught up in their own passionate conversations. No one even noticed when Draco produced a small rolled piece of parchment, handing it to Severus covertly.

Severus didn’t break eye contact, quickly palming the parchment and slipping it into the pocket of his robes with a terse nod. Draco gave Snape an oily smirk.

“Use it in good health.”

***

 Hermione and Lily arrived early to the event, watching as Horace placed several delicate flowers in the center of the circular table that held nine beautifully carved wooden chairs with plush purple seat cushions. He heard them approach and gave his hands a gleeful clap as he viewed them.

 “Ah Miss Evans, Miss Lockheart,” Horace said with a wide smile and a twinkle in his eyes. “I’m so pleased you could make it. My dear girls please take a seat either side of me so we may chat!”

Hermione cast a desperate look to Lily, but she merely smiled and acquiesced before taking a seat next to Horace on his right. Hermione forced a smile onto her face and lowered herself onto the chair. So much for having Lily as some sort of buffer for tonight. She glanced around the table, seeing that it was a much more fanciful affair then in the future. The goblets and plates were pristine with gorgeous purple linens to match the chairs. Instead of the bare wood there was a delicately made tablecloth thrown over the circular table with an arrangement of expensive looking florals in the middle.

She realized that the Slug Club must have been a very popular thing to get into back in these days. An exclusive club everyone wanted to be in with a professor that seemed to see the best in his students. In the future it was more a tedious, embarrassing affair that Hermione had only agreed to out of sheer politeness.

The door opened and a freshly scrubbed James Potter bounded in, looking to Lily and then seeing Hermione and blanching slightly.

“Ah, James!” Horace said joyously. “Come, take a seat my boy. Right here, next to Lily Evans.”

 Hermione saw Lily stiffen, her eyes refusing to meet James as he sheepishly came around and sat himself next to her. The air was rather thick with tension and Hermione coughed softly to ease it.  

“I’m afraid that Sirius can’t make it tonight,” James said with a frown, breaking the silence. “He’s come down with a nasty bug.”

“He seemed very healthy in class today,” Horace observed obviously disappointed.

“It came on rather quickly,” James lied.  Lily looked at him out the corner of her green eye in displeasure.

It was common knowledge that Sirius despised the Slug Club and all its suppers. He only ever went to flirt with the girls and considering Hermione and Lily were going to be there he had decided that it would be best if he were as far away from them as possible. He had been rather galled that James was going and warned him that he may want to ward against future slaps.

“Never mind,” Horace said with a small wave of his hand.  “Rispey, take one of the chairs away will you?”

Hermione watched tight lipped as a house elf appeared and disappeared with one of the chairs next to Hermione. Hermione noticed another empty seat next to her and she wondered if she was being ostracized for being the new member, a Slytherin, a know-it-all, or the girl that had tried –and failed – to stick up for the hubris-wrapped Severus Snape.

A few more students walked in, but Hermione’s attention was on James and Lily who were sitting next to each other uncomfortably. Hermione caught Lily’s eye and the girl raised her eyebrows in question. When she was sure James was looking elsewhere, Hermione overly mouthed: Talk to him. Lily  shook her head quickly, suddenly very interested in speaking with Professor Slughorn about tonight’s dessert.

When the clock in the far corner of his office sounded eight, Slughorn smiled widely at his collection of prizes circling him around the table. It seemed everyone – besides Hermione- had gone to the effort of dressing sharp for the evening. She was suddenly thankful Lily had done something about her hair.

“Now Miss Lockheart, as our latest member, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to the rest of the Slug Club,” Horace said starting to his left. “Of course you know Miss Lily Evans Gryffindor Head Girl, and next to her Mister James Potter, Gryffindor seeker-”

“Yes, I know James Potter,” Hermione interrupted with a dark look in the boy’s direction. He didn’t even have the nerve to make eye contact with her.

“That is MIss Wendy Slinkhard from Slytherin,” Horace continued on unfettered. He pointed to a very blond girl with dark brown eyes and impossibly long eyelashes. Hermione wondered if they were glamour-ed. She had been one of the pretty girls Hermione had seen her first day in the Slytherin common room, laughing with her friends. 

“I’ve seen you around the common room,” Hermione acknowledged to the girl. Wendy glanced over Hermione’s wardrobe with a disdainful look before nodding adroitly.

“Miss Miranda Jones, Hufflepuff seeker and a mighty fine one at that. And beside her is Mister Reginald White, a Ravenclaw with more creativity in the arts than I have ever witnessed in my entire teaching career.”

The two students gave Hermione polite smiles and waves before looking back to Horace. He was about to say something more when the door to the room creaked open, drawing the eyes of the figures inside. Hermione glanced over her shoulder and tried to fight the urge to scream.

 “And ah, there you are Severus,” Slughorn said with a large smile.  “I was beginning to worry that you wouldn’t arrive.”

Hermione tried to hold in the groan that was threatening to spill from her lips. Severus fucking Snape. Really? Tonight? As if she didn’t have enough to contend with?

“I’m sorry sir,” Severus said unconvincingly. “I’m afraid I lost track of the time.”

 She watched his dark eyes slip over the faces of the individuals around the table before his eyes settled on Hermione and he let out a small huff of displeasure through his now normal-sized nose. Well, normal sized for Severus.  

The feeling is mutual you prat.

Snape took in the view of the hostile students staring at him the moment he walked in. Potter, Evans, Slinkhard, a few students he didn’t know and. . . Lockheart. Of course that annoying girl had somehow wormed her way into this exclusive club. Did they let just anyone in? Would he be haunted by her no matter where he went? And of course, he noted with dark dismay, the only available seat left to him was the one right next to his aforementioned nightmare.

He glanced over at Lockheart as he lowered himself slowly into his chair, seeing that the girl looked different and not in a good way. He thought she looked ridiculous with her hair all slicked down.

“What’s wrong with your hair?” he murmured quietly to her when the rest of the group started chatting absently.  

Hermione closed her eyes, praying to the heavens for patience. She didn’t have time for this nonsense. She turned to Slughorn, about to ask him her question when Slughorn suddenly called forth the house elf to bring out the desserts. Within moments each student and Horace had a Maids of Honor tart sitting on a high glass cup of Eton Mess. It looked delicious and remarkably sweet and Hermione couldn’t stop herself from digging into the flaky pastry of the tart, popping it into her mouth and enjoying it immensely.

“Now Mister Potter,” Horace said as he swallowed a bit of strawberry, “I know that Gryffindor is having a very good year in Quidditch. What do you attribute your success to?”

Arrogance,” Snape muttered under his breath, spooning some cream into his mouth. Hermione was the only one that heard and she couldn’t help but give a small surprised laugh at the comment. The sound was sharp and strangled and drew the attention from the rest of the table, including Snape.  

“Sorry,” she lied turning red. “Choked on a strawberry.”

The group went back to discussing Quidditch and Hermione took a swig of her pumpkin juice.  She turned just in time to see Snape’s lips curving into a small, non-malicious smile.  Hermione listened in on the conversation as Horace went around the table, lauding the compliments on the students around him. Hermione felt herself growing rather bored, as she often did in modern day Slug Club suppers. She was waiting for the man to stop talking a moment so she could interject quietly.

She noticed that she and Severus were being obviously left out from the conversation by the rest of the students. She wondered if they were doing it to punish her (aside from Lily of course who seemed just as disenchanted with this evening as Hermione) or if this was just what happened when you aligned yourself with Severus Snape?

“How’s the personal project going?” Severus said gently at her side, surprising her. What on earth was he on about? She narrowed her eyes in confusion and watched him take a forkful of tart.

“Personal project?”

“The time travel book,” Snape said quietly, not wishing for others to overhear. Hermione’s eyes widened as she recalled him running into her at Hogsmeade that day.

“It’s was a fascinating read,” Hermione said evasively, turning to see Slughorn taking a break from talking to take a sip from his teacup.  Snape’s eyes moved to the table in embarrassment, suddenly furious for trying to be kind to her. He piled more tart into his downturned mouth.

“Professor Slughorn,” Hermione said quietly at his elbow. “I was wondering if I could ask you about something rather. . . private. You see I’m trying to find out about a lolligo-“

“Ah,” Horace interrupted loudly, causing Hermione to cringe as she had hoped her hushed tones would indicate that she wished to keep their conversation quiet. “We don’t discuss schoolwork here, Miss Lockheart. Not during a Slug Club supper evening! Now, Mister Potter did I hear correctly that your family invested in Sleekeasy quite early on? Quite extraordinary!”

Hermione felt her mood turn sour and she turned back to her Eton mess glumly. Obviously he wouldn’t be answering her questions until the next time she saw him outside a supper. She assumed he’d rush her from his office after the supper tonight and she sighed darkly.

“Care to share the details of your secret project?” Snape teased lightly, looking at her through his curtain of dark hair. Hermione glanced over, seeing that he was still on about her project.  

“It’s fine,” she said exasperatedly, waiting for him to pile on the disdainful comments or snide remarks. When he didn’t, she glanced over to see he was looking at her in interest.

“Just fine?”

Hermione gave him a wary look, not completely sure of his motivations. Why was he talking to her like this? And why wasn’t he making fun of her? Was he waiting for her to share and then mercilessly tease her? It definitely sounded like him. She guarded herself, only letting a bit of information out.

“There are some challenges,” Hermione admitted without going into further information. “But I’m navigating them the best I can.”

She waited for the mockery then and the roll of his dark eyes. But instead he nodded, taking a sip from his goblet and then turned back to her.

“What types of challenges? Perhaps I can be of help.”

Hermione stared openly at him then, her brows almost touching they were so knitted together. Was he actually offering to help? No, this was another angle for his mockery;  he was suggesting she was too stupid to do it herself.

“No, I’m fine,” Hermione said airily, glancing over at Lily to see that the girl was just as miserable looking as her. Perhaps they could both find an excuse to end this interminable evening? Having Snape pepper her with questions was beginning to stress her out and she was certain it was leading to something. But to what? Her humiliation, surely.

“Will anyone be participating in the winter games this year?” Snape said to the table, surprising everyone into near silence. Lily was looking to Severus with an inscrutable look and even Slughorn looked interested in this change of topic.

“I will be,” James finally offered proudly, looking to Snape with a level look. “You?”

“Of course,” Snape said drily, meeting the boys eye. “I have to ensure that Slytherin retains its title as winner for the sixth year in a row.”

“Sorry,” Hermione interjected, confused at what was being spoken about. “The winter games?”

“It’s a silly thing that Gryffindor and Slytherin participate in every year,” Lily said with a good-natured roll of her eyes. “The winning house gets bragging rights. Each year there is an obstacle course that the houses compete in that takes place all over the grounds of Hogwarts.”

“It changes every year,” Wendy added haughtily from her seat near the left. “But it’s usually an obstacle course scavenger hunt. You start at the Quidditch arena, then you may be sent to the boathouse, the Greenhouses, the covered bridge and so on. There’s an aquatics section where you need to grab something, usually a pearl, from the bottom of the great lake without disturbing Lola.”

“She’s harmless,” James said with a smile. Lily nodded at this, making Hermione’s heart jump with hope for the two of them.

“I agree,” Lily said her smile wide and beaming.  “Everyone makes it seem like Lola’s so horrid but I know for a fact that she’s quite sweet.”

“Lola?” Hermione inquired with a small tilt of her head. She couldn’t remember meeting a Lola in all her time here. And why did she hang about in the lake?

“Lola is the great squid,” Wendy said primly, trying to be polite but hating every moment she had to talk to the plain girl with poorly done hair. “Sometimes she comes and looks in on the Slytherin common room. You haven’t seen her?”

“No,” Hermione said with a surprised smile. It was no wonder that the Winter Games no longer went on – how unsafe! She couldn’t imagine Minerva approving such a thing and she realized that the competition was probably so strong soley because of the two young men sitting across from each other.

“But Lola,” Hermione acknowleged, “that’s a strange name for a giant Squid. Doesn’t really suit her does it?”

“It’s because it comes from the latin Lolligo,” Snape said from his seat in a prissy, condescending tone. “It means squid in Latin. No one ever remembers that so they call her Lola.”

“No one was talking to you,” Wendy bit back, much to Hermione’s surprise. After the latest prank on Snape, the silent authority and power that he seemed to be cultivating was crumbling before him. And she realized it was because he had brought shame onto the house of Slytherin. And Slytherin, as Hermione was starting to realize, had immense pride in their house and would turn their back on their own if they brought shame onto it.

Wendy had said it in such a way that made the rest of the upbeat conversation cease. All eyes were on Severus, save for Hermione who stared at her dessert in embarrassment for him. James was trying to suppress a smirk. Snape glowered openly at Wendy before pushing back his chair. In a fluid motion he moved towards the door on his long legs, yanking the door open and leaving with a resounding slam.

“That was quite rude,” Lily said boldly looking to the girl. Wendy rolled her eyes and the conversation quickly changed as Slughorn started to speak.

“I wanted to let you know that the Slug Club Party this year will take place a week before the Halloween feast,” he said with a jovial smile. “It will be a masquerade and I encourage you all to dress your best. Many esteemed alumni will be in attendance-“

But Hermione’s thoughts were far from this office and Slughorn’s stupid party. Her only thought was on what the young Snape had said about the lolligo. She had her next potion ingredient which meant she was one step closer to home.

Chapter Text

 Hermione looked sleepily across the table at Hestia the next morning, trying to stifle a yawn as her breakfast appeared before her. Eggs, bacon and toast and a delightful smelling cup of black coffee. A perfect way to start her morning after the dull evening she’d had before.  The Slug Club supper had gone on far longer than she would have anticipated last night and she crawled into bed long after the rest of the girls in the dormitory were sleeping. Now this morning she couldn’t stop the anxious jiggling of her leg, the tapping of her fingers along the wood tabletop.

“What’s up with you?” Hestia asked over her tea, stilling Hermione’s hands under her own in concern. “You look like you’re going to shake right out of your skin!”

“Oh nothing,” Hermione said with a soft laugh. “Sorry, I’m just daydreaming. Hey Hestia, do you know anything about Lola?”

“The squid?”

“Yeah.”

“Uh,” Hestia gave Hermione a weird smile. “I know she’s a giant squid who lives in the great lake. I know that she’s bright red and she mostly keeps to herself.”

“Has she ever hurt anyone?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” Hestia said with a shake of her head. “Why?”

“It’s for Care of Magical creatures,” Hermione lied. “I’m doing a report on it. I wanted to see her up close, but I wasn’t sure if it was safe.”

“Oh,” Hestia nodded understanding now. “From what I know she’s quite docile.”

Hestia couldn’t quite understand her friend’s obsession with perfection. What was the point when there was so much fun to be had? And speaking of fun. . . Hestia took this opportunity to glance over her friend’s shoulder at Sirius who was giving her the most suggestive of looks. Last night she and Sirius had been enjoying themselves immensely in the stacks of the library. She felt a blush creep onto her cheekbones and she glanced back at Hermione.

“Hermione is it true that the Slug Club party is a masquerade?” Hestia suddenly whispered excitedly. “And we can dress up as anything we want? That’s what Lily said.”

Hermione nodded. “As long as you don’t use a glamour or a Polyjuice, Slughorn wants people dress to impress, whatever that means.”

“I’m so excited,” Hestia said with a trilling laugh, much to the chagrin of the Slytherin on either side of them.

Hermione noticed that Draco and Severus were headed into the great hall for breakfast. Hermione darted her view back to her meal, praying she could escape without their notice.Last night have proven to be uniquely strange with Severus treating her as a human being and she had no desire to read more into that.

She was already under enough stress; aside from the giant squid, Hermione had other issues on the docket. She needed to figure out a way to get unicorn blood and fast. But she knew the dangers of doing such a thing, for unicorns could be very temperamental. Not only that, but how to get it from the unicorn willingly? She knew the dangerous of taking blood from a unicorn for a potion and she didn’t want to risk it.

She was still mulling this over when Draco sat himself next to her. Severus sat across from them, watching them as he raised a book on charms and pretended to read it. Hermione glanced over at the boy’s intrusion in surprise – he normally liked to stay as far away from her as possible.

Draco gripped the freshly brewed coffee in his bony hands, raising it to his thin lips and sipping deeply. He seemed quite tired, his eyes heavy. Hermione didn’t bother asking him what was keeping him up at night – she knew. He had been sneaking off to meet with Lucius in the middle of the night.

While she wanted to berate him, she knew that this would only cause the boy to defy her more and she hadn’t time for that. He seemed so agitated here, so much more mysterious than she remembered.

Wendy Slinkhorn appeared at their peripheral, taking a seat between Severus and Hestia and directly across from Hermione.

“So Lockheart, rumor has it that you take exceptionally detailed notes,” she said, drinking a glass of water and fixing Hermione with a fluttering of thick lashes. “And that your assignments are always outstanding.”

“Oh,” Hermione said, knowing where this was going and not desiring it at all. Wendy took a deep sip from her drink, waiting for the girl to respond in any positive way. Hermione merely went back to her breakfast, popping a piece of bacon into her mouth and chewing thoughtfully. She could feel Snape’s eyes on her and she felt herself growing uncomfortable. Why was he always around?

“Yes, well,” Wendy continued with an inward roll of her eyes. “I thought you might lend me your charms homework that’s due Friday. I’ve got a date with Richard Nettleship tonight and I really haven’t time to complete it.”

“And how is your date my issue?” Hermione replied, knowing she’d never give the pretty girl in front of her the notes or the homework. Not only was it directly interfering with history, she just plain and simply didn’t like the girl after what she’d done to Severus last night. She could still see the reserved humiliation on his face before he’d rushed from the table.

Wendy, obviously not used to being rejected stared for a moment with her mouth parted at Hermione. Snape continued to pretend he was reading, but really his dark eyes had slid over his right shoulder to see Wendy silently fuming.

“Because I want to do well in charms,” Wendy replied taking a dainty sip of her water. “And if I miss an assignment I’ll be given detention and if I’m given detention then I’ll lose house points and you wouldn’t want Slytherin to points for something so silly. We Slytherin’s take care of our own, you know.”

At this, Snape visibly stiffened and his lips turned into a deep frown that Hermione found herself matching. She could still see the humiliation on his face from last night when Wendy had so cruelly mortified him in front of everyone. Hermione lowered her fork gently onto her plate, looking up to catch Wendy’s waiting gaze.

“Actually I don’t know that,” Hermione replied icily. “I’ve seen the exact opposite, from yourself in fact. So forgive me if I don’t want to take the word of a Slinkhard Slytherin. You’ll have to do your own homework I’m afraid.”

With that she went back to her breakfast, puncturing her egg and watching the yolk spill onto the plate. Wendy gaped at Hermione a moment more before jerking to a fuming stand.

“You’ll regret that, Lockheart.”

With that she was rushing from the table in fury leaving Hestia staring at her friend in horror. She offered a low whistle of disbelief as she looked to the very calm Hermione.

“Aren’t you worried she’s going to make your life a nightmare?” Hestia finally asked softly. “Wendy Slinkhard has ruined a girl’s reputation with one well-placed rumor.”

“I’ve known girls like Wendy Slinkhard’s my entire life,” Hermione scoffed. “They don’t scare me.”

“Not much does,” Snape said from behind his book. It was an innocuous comment and Hermione wasn’t even sure anyone else had heard it. She glanced up at him, meeting his dark eyes and seeing no malice in them. Curious. She was about to say something when Draco slammed his coffee cup down onto the wood table below.

“So any chance you’re going to that Slug party next week, Hermione?” Draco asked silkily, looking to Hermione as if he may have finally have use of her. She could see right through this – turns out some things never changed. Draco hated not being involved in something others considered higher class. She gave him a contemptuous look.

“And if I am?”

“I thought you may want to bring me as your date,” Draco said with a haughty turn of his head.  “We’d make quite the pair.”

“Yeah, a pair of idiots,” Hermione replied taking another sip of her coffee. Severus, who still hadn’t looked up at them, smirked at this banter, realizing that she had no interest in the boy at her right.

“C’mon,” Draco insisted, his grey eyes drilling holes into her. “I think you should take me.”

“I don’t think I’m even going to that stupid party,” Hermione shot back, feeling scrutinized from all the figures around her. Draco, Hestia and even Severus was regarding her with interest at this proclamation. Hestia’s eyes grew wide and sorrowful as she looked to her.

“Oh Hermione you have to come!” she said almost wailing. “We were all going to go together! Sirius and I, James and Lily –“

“Wait,” Hermione said, her gaze shooting up to meet Hestia. “Lily and James are going together?”

She realized she must have sounded far too keen because six pairs of eyes were suddenly on her and she faltered slightly.

Jealous, Lockheart?” said Severus silkily across the table from her. She saw the eyes that had been so soft before were now quite flinty. She gave him a withering look before looking back to Hestia’s face for confirmation.

Hermione had been trying to understand why James kept pestering all the while until she came to the conclusion that he was trying to get through her to get to Lily. Quite crafty actually on his part. He was trying to flirt with her so that Lily would get jealous and agree to date him. It was actually quite ingenous and Hermione would happily play the part of idiotic girl who doesn’t see it coming if it mean they would end up together!

“Well, I just assumed,” Hestia said with a shrug. “I heard him saying he was asking his girl today. I assumed it was her. Everyone knows he’s been in love with her since first year.”

Hermione saw the scowl that crossed Severus’ face at that, but she couldn’t contain her own smile. Lily and James were finally back on track! Thank goodness! They hadn’t tampered too much with the past! She could almost jump for joy at this turn of events.

She happily bit into her toast, not even unnerved by the feel of Draco’s light eyes still on her. She ate the rest of her breakfast in silence, feeling as Draco continued to fume.  When she was finishing up her coffee she felt him sigh dramatically beside her.

“Oh, Draco,” she said as if she hadn’t remembered he was there. “What’s the matter?”

“Well, what do you say then?” he asked grumbling. “Am I going with you to this party or not?”

Hermione wanted nothing more than to dance a happy jig in that moment. Draco had been avoiding her for weeks now, going off to hang with his new mates, being impossibly rude to her from one moment to the next. Now here he was begging to spend time with her at the party and she had all the power!

“Hmmm,” Hermione pretended to contemplate this as she stood, preparing to head off for her next class.   “I’ll think about it.”

With that she turned and left the table, leaving Draco fuming, Hestia giggling and Severus trying very hard to suppress a pleased grin. She floated out into the corridor, finally feeling a bit lighter of spirit as she walked. She was going to get the eggs tonight – she didn’t have time to research it.

Normally she would have asked Harry to do this, but the boy barely had any time to himself in the evenings. Besides, he had told her yesterday that this evening he had an appointment with the Herbology professor.  She was going to have to pull a Harry and just go for it, sod the dangerous that presented themselves. Speaking of which there he was right now.

“Hello sleepyhead,” she said, looking to his tousled locks and sleepy eyes as he walked over to her, his head down and his hands in his pockets.

“Hey,” he replied looking downhearted. Immediately Hermione was on edge, as Harry was only like this when things were truly monumental.

“What’s wrong?”

“You were right,” he blurted with a small quake in his voice. “You were right about everything, Hermione. We never should have come back here. I’ve buggered everything up.”

Hermione inclined her head and led her friend out into the clock tower courtyard where they could have more privacy, pulling him onto a stone bench and looking to him in question.

“Harry what’s the matter?”

“My dad is a prat,” Harry said with a small cry as he buried his head in his hands. “So is Sirius. Sometimes they’re so wonderful and fun and I’m so happy to be with them. Then they say something or do something and I hate them. It makes me hate myself.”

“Harry,” Hermione said gently touching her friend’s shoulder. “No one’s parents are perfect. Hell, some parents are all around awful. But not your parents.”

“My mum is great,” Harry said graciously.

“And so’s your dad,” Hermione insisted, giving Harry a stern look. “Why Harry he’s been in love with your Mum since they were eleven.  He’s utterly besotted. And we know in the future that he’s going to go into hiding to protect you all.  And in the end Harry, you know he’s going to die at Voldemort’s hand protecting both your Mum and you. You can’t fault him for being a bit of a prick when he was a teenager. We weren’t so perfect ourselves.”

Harry’s eyes weren’t as glassy now and he was looking to Hermione with something like gratitude in his eyes.

“And as for Sirius?” Hermione continued, feeling that she needed to come to his defense as well. “We know what lengths he’d go to if only to protect you. Someone who’s not even his own blood, Harry. He dies for you. And no matter of pranks and silly boasting will take that away.”

Harry sat for several moments just blinking and looking ahead of him. He finally sat up, his eyes more clear and his face not as tensed.

“You’re really the cleverest witch I’ve ever met,” Harry said wrapping her into a tight hug.  “And the kindest.”

“I know,” she said with a laugh, pressing a chase kiss to the top of his head. “Now go have breakfast. I’m off to Charms.”

She was about to make her way down the now bustling corridor when she felt the hand of Wendy Slinkhard on her shoulder, pulling her roughly back. The girl looked at Hermione with a harsh and calculating look, if not a bit pale.

“Look, I don’t know where you get off denying me things and sticking up for Severus, but you’d best watch your-“ she looked as if she were going to continue but stopped.

She suddenly gripped her stomach with her one free hand, the other still clutching Hermione’s shoulder. But instead of doing it in malice, she was doing it to stop from falling.

“Wendy,” Hermione said, gripping the girl’s arm in concern. “Wendy, are you alright?”

Before she could say anything more Wendy had fallen to the stone floor of the Hogwarts corridor, shaking violently and foaming at the mouth.

“SOMEBODY HELP!” Hermione shrieked, suddenly unsure what she should do. Should she move her or would that make it worse? Should she sit her up or-

She felt relief flooding her as she viewed Albus and McGonagall rushing out of the Great Hall, their eyes wide with sickening terror. McGonagall suddenly urged Hermione out of the way, levitating the girl and rushing down towards the infirmary. Harry rushed back over, having heard Hermione’s scream and gripped her forearm in his palm.

“What happened?”

Hermione was about to reply when Albus suddenly intercepted them, looking at them with a look of barely hidden anger.   

“Lockheart, Finnegan,” Albus said icily, his teeth clenched. “My office. Now.”

Hermione and Harry shot each other a surprised look at Albus’ tone and followed the man’s stalking stride to his office. Hermione felt her gut churning, because something frightening was happening. They’d never seen Albus so out of sorts before. And his ire had never been directed at them like this.  

They reached the door and Albus allowed them in before shutting and warding the door. At this he paced in front of the desk, looking to his ‘students’ with poorly concealed rage.

“I need you to tell me what’s going to happen,” Albus demanded. “I need to know how to stop it.”

Harry’s grip went tight, his fingers digging into Hermione’s forearm. She could sense his growing apprehension; this was a man after all that had been like another father figure.

“You know I can’t do that, Headmaster,” Hermione insisted forcefully, rather aghast that he would suggest such a thing. “You know that I can’t alter the future by telling you anything.”

“A student of mine may die,” Albus spat, looking at Hermione and Harry with a fury they’d never been witness to before. “And I want to know how to save her. I want to know how to save them all.”

Hermione and Harry exchanged a look of sympathy at Dumbledore’s words. They’d had this talk so many times themselves in the common room, since their third year. About going back in time to defeat Voldemort with Hermione’s time turner. Killing him when he was a baby, a child, a teenager.

But they’d known what Dumbledore had told them later; that it wasn’t possible. That anything they did now would forever rock the future and maybe for the worse.

What if they killed Voldemort and an even more wicked wizard took his place? One whom Severus didn’t know and wasn’t in alignment with? Who would be their double agent?

They would be at an even larger disadvantage. They could understand with deep empathy what their Headmaster was going through but they could not acquiesce.

“You know we can’t,” Hermione said gently, not able to meet Albus’ eyes. She could feel the tears that were threatening to spill onto her cheeks and she didn’t want him to have to see it.

“I know,” Albus relented, knowing that the students before him were completely right. But that didn’t stop the anguish building in his chest.

“Headmaster-“ Harry began, wanting to offer some words of comfort to the man who had always done the same for him.

“Just leave,” Albus muttered with resigned tone, turning his back on them and leaning on the desk. Hermione quickly dashed out with Harry glancing over his shoulder before exiting.

Harry felt a stabbing pain go through his chest as he realized that that the old man was crying.

Chapter Text

Hermione stood at the edge of the Great Lake that evening, her eyes on the water and her mind elsewhere. According to rumors, Wendy Slinkhard was in an induced coma Pomfrey had put her in to stop the swelling of her brain. Hermione could still see the girl shaking and salivating at her feet, her eyes wide with terror. Hermione shuddered at the memory, wrapping her arms around herself. But she needed to focus herself now.

She had walked like zombie through the rest of her courses that day, skipping dinner and waiting for the rest of the girls to fall asleep before cracking open one of the common room windows. She had slipped out easily, not even having to worry about running into Filch. She’d clung to the side of the castle, slowly inching her way around until she’d made it to the shore.

She was in a dark green bathing costume and with the chill in the air she found herself shaking. But was it from fear or the cool weather? She couldn’t tell, but as she looked into the dark, glassy lake she felt her stomach flip.

Get into the water, fast. Stop delaying!

She placed the towel on the grass along the shore of the lake, knowing that she was only putting off the inevitable. She needed to get those eggs and quickly. She pulled the satchel crossing over her body, tightening it to make sure it wouldn’t float away when she got down there.

She raised her wand to her feet, whispering a fin-creating charm. She watched as her toes began to web before lengthening, enabling her to swim quickly. She hadn’t been able to get gillyweed from the stores, but she recalled the bubble head charm that Cedric had used during the Tri-wizard tournament. She only prayed that her unreliable wand would do its job.

 “Bulla capitis!” Hermione said, flicking her wand in a small circle around her head. She was more than relieved to see that the bubble formed around her head, securing itself just below her chin and around her throat.

She could hear and feel her warm breathing and she tested it under the water a moment, pleased to see that it worked.  She slid her wand under the strap of her bathing costume and took a deep breath.

With that she swam more fully into the lake, praying Filch wouldn’t see her in the moonlight. But it was fairly deserted here – what student would be foolish enough for a midnight swim with a squid after all? She dipped under the water and began to push herself down into the chilling depths of the great lake.

It wasn’t clear and clean looking, as Hermione had been hoping. If anything it looked rather dingy down here under the water, with sharp rocks and odd looking fish slipping by her as she passed them. Several brightly colored moving creatures that looked like coral skittered down on the lake’s grainy floor.  

She knew there was a merpeople colony here in the great lake as well, but she also knew that if they were not attacked they would give her no trouble. She only prayed that they weren’t good friends with the great squid.

She also knew she had to act quickly, she had maybe an hour before this bubble would pop, leaving her completely vulnerable in such a spot. Her eyes suddenly saw the bright red slash near the left of her, barely moving. She assumed it was asleep and she wanted to keep it that way. Even if she was docile, Hermione didn’t want to take any chances. She swam slowly, sure not to go in the front of the squid for fear she would be seen.

Her eyes were drawn to the base of the squid and Hermione felt her heart hammer in delight. There were hundreds of eggs there scattered along the lake’s floor– like large pearls shining in the shafts of light that made their way into the deep of the water. She drew nearer to them, fairly entranced by their shimmering opalescence.

She slowly reached out a forefinger to slide over the large egg, surprised to find it was rather sticky and soft. When she lifted one up she was shocked to see how light it was, despite its large size. The eggs were opaque and when she tilted them she could see their luminescence.

Hurry hurry.

She quickly palmed three eggs just in case there were issues (she most certainly did not want to make this trek again) and prepared to slide them into the satchel at her side.  She had just loosened the satchel’s clasp when she felt a slick tentacle grip her ankle.

No.

She stilled, hoping that the squid would assume she was just a closely swimming fish. But no luck; the tentacles were feeling around her ankle and coming to her finned feet. She had been found out. Obviously Lola had woken up from her nap and was none too pleased to see a student poaching her eggs. The squid’s tentacles tightened painfully around Hermione’s ankle, sliding upward to her calf and securing another tentacle there.

Hermione screamed in terror, the sound reverberating off of her bubble head charm and causing her to wince as she viewed the first sliver of interwoven lines. Her scream had effectively cracked her poorly charmed bubble helmet. She watched helplessly as water began to trickle in.  

In this moment more tentacles found their wrap around her stomach, pulling her painfully down. Hermione watched the moonlight from the top of the water growing fainter and fainter as she was dragged further down. Her hands tightened around the eggs, knowing that it was fruitless but determined not to drop them.

I can’t lose the eggs. It’s the only way we’ll get home.

The tentacles wrapped tighter around her middle, and Hermione wriggled around, trying to release herself. The water was murky and she could barely make out anything aside from her reflection in Lola’s twitching eye.

The water was pooling at her chin as Hermione fumbled about with her belt before she raised her wand above her in the water, moving sluggishly and trying to shout a rising charm that would send her jettisoning upwards. But no matter how many times she repeated it, her wand did nothing.

It lay in her palm like a useless stick and she wanted to cry in frustration as the water reached her nose.  She’d obviously used up the last of the magic she’d had back here and she could have screamed at this knowledge.

She felt as the squid began to shake Hermione like a rag doll and as she tried to stop herself from becoming too disoriented her hands loosened and dropped the eggs into the murky sea below. Hermione wanted to cry out at that, but the entire bubble head was suddenly filled with water and Hermione began to choke.

I can’t die here.

She the tentacles loosen around her waist, carelessly pushing her away. Hermione could just make out Lola sinking back to the bottom of the lake, protecting her eggs like any mother would. Now was Hermione’s chance for escape, but she had been submerged so long, and there was no way of reaching the top.

Oh please help! Someone!

Hermione could feel the darkness at the edge of her vision, her body suddenly feeling too heavy for any further movement. Her eyes began to roll back into her head and in that moment, Hermione Granger surrounded to the fatal deep of the great lake.

She was unaware how much time had passed before she felt herself being pulled upwards. An idle part of her subconscious wondered if the squid had suddenly had a change of heart, wanting to help her in the end. But no, she could feel the taut arm of a human being wrapped around her torso, pulling her upwards to the top of the water at a remarkable speed.

They broke the surface like a cork, bobbing a moment before the figure used their wand to pop the bubble around Hermione’s head. The figure moved its arm from around her waist to her shoulders, pulling her by her swimsuit onto the grass beside the lake.

Feeling the land underneath her, a very thankful Hermione quickly rolled onto her knees, wretching and blinking rapidly, feeling her eyes stinging from the water.  She coughed thickly, water pouring from her throat, burning the entire way. Finally she looked up to see her savior and felt a wave of confusion wash over her.

“I should have known you’d do something foolish like this,” Snape said, his black hair plastered to his pale face.  Water clung to his dark eyelashes, clumping them together and making him appear younger somehow.  “What kind of an idiot goes into the Great Lake at night so unprepared?”

Hermione was too tired to fight him back; she could only muster the energy to struggle to a half seated position. “How did you find me?”

 “What spell was that?” Snape ignored her question, breathing heavily. “I’ve never seen something like that. Most just use gillyweed if they’re going to be underwater a great length of time.”

“The charm is more effective than gillyweed,” Hermione rasped, her chest heaving as the last of the water poured out her mouth. “It usually last longer if the charm is stronger.”

“I need to learn it,” Snape said, forever wanting to accumulate vast knowledge. And for saving her life, she would have given it to him freely. However at this moment she felt like she was going to vomit and pass out all at once.

She saw then that Snape was in his uniform and it clung to his body tightly, giving him the appearance of a drowned rat when combined to his drenched hair. He’d swam in after her fully clothed?  She reached for and eventually pulled the towel around her shoulder, shuddering as the cold of the night hit her.

Snape watched this intently, his brows knit together in mild confusion.

“Where’s your wand?”

“Here,” Hermione said, holding her damp wand up shakily. A lot of good it did her under the water. A very dark part of her wanted to break it over her knee in irritation.

“Warm and dry yourself.”

Hermione pointed it to herself, muttering a small warming incantation only to feel the wand twitch a moment before growing cool.  Severus watched all this in idle curiosity before she shook her head slowly.

“I can’t,” Hermione admitted, delirious from her near brush with death. “It doesn’t work very well here.”

Severus gave her a queer look, raising his wand in her direction and quietly murmuring a drying spell. Hermione felt her hair dry and blow up to its normal bushy mane. The warmth suddenly came flooding back into her body and she wanted to thank him, but refrained.

“How did you find me?”

Severus didn’t answer, instead waving his wand over himself and casting a warming charm. Within moments his hair was dry and his clothes were no longer damp. Hermione stared up at him, her dark eyes surveying his face.

“How did you find me?” she repeated, this time more firmly. Snape sighed grimly before lowering himself to sit cross legged across from her on the grass.

“I knew you were looking for eggs,” Snape said simply. “When you asked Slughorn at the supper. Why else would I have mentioned the winter games?”

“Wait,” Hermione said with a soft shake of her foggy head. “You were helping me? On purpose?”

Snape chose not to answer that, instead opting to shrug noncommittally and look back towards the increasingly calming lake.  From his pocket he removed two squid eggs, rolling them along the grass in her direction. She gasped in surprise as the cool, slick texture met her palm. He had retrieved them for her, but why? She dragged her eyes from the shining eggs in her hand and up to the face of the pale boy across from her.

“Why did you save me?” Hermione asked, her breathing becoming normalized. “I figured you’d want me dead. It would have solved all your problems.”

“If I wanted you dead I’d prefer to do it by my own hand,” Snape said with a twisted smirk, leaning back into the lush green grass.  “Much more satisfying that way.”

Hermione smiled weakly in response, realizing that this was Snape’s bizarre and very morbid version of a joke. He stood for a moment, pulling something out of his pockets which Hermione recognized as a piece of toast.

Without warning he quickly threw it into the air and Hermione could faintly make it out silhouetted against the large crescent moon. With a sloshing sound a bright red tentacle leapt from the water, quickly snatching the toast in the air and pulling it back into its murky depths. Hermione gaped at this, her eyes widely going to Severus.

“It likes you?”

“Lola likes most students,” Snape replied with a shrug as he wandered back over to where she sat. “She’s rather domesticated.”

“She tried to kill me.”

“You were trying to take her eggs,” Snape replied flatly as if it made all the sense in the world. Which, in a way it did. “She was merely acting on instinct.”

Hermione nodded at this, realizing that Snape was –as per usual- quite right. She didn’t know what else to say and so they lapsed into silence as she looked at the eggs in her hands. Her partial salvation.  He sat back down across from her, regarding her severely.

“Thank y-“ Hermione started, only to have Snape interrupt.

“Why did you try to stop them in the Potions class that day?” Snape suddenly asked, his eyes giving nothing away. She recalled how she’d tried to intervene, how pathetic her wand had been that day and she gave a shrug.

“I was worried they’d hurt you.”

“Why would you care?” Snape inquired, leaning forward a bit to catch her gaze. “Why would you feel compelled to assist me?”

Hermione stared back at him, confused by his flummoxed response to being treated as a human being. “Don’t you ever just do things because it’s the right thing to do?”

That wasn’t the answer he’d been hoping for obviously, for he leaned back and absently began to pull grass from the ground without answering her. It was a passively destructive motion and Hermione watched quietly for a moment as he did this.

Being that they were in this unique situation where he wasn’t trying to actively harm her she figured this was as good a chance as any to broach the questions that had always burned within her. 

“Have you killed anyone before?” Hermione asked gently, not sure if she really wanted to know the answer.  Snape looked surprised at this, his normally half-mast eyes widening for a fraction of a moment. He regarded her, unsure if he should be honest with her. 

“No,” Snape replied after a moment. But the no was heavy with meaning. It wasn't so much a "no" as it was a "not yet".

Hermione looked to the pained face of Severus Snape and held in a small cry of despair. How could a boy this young be resigned to such a fate? How could he care so little for his life and his very soul? Before her sat the boy who would turn into the man that would play a part in Voldemort’s downfall.

“You're so clever?” she whispered with a soft shake of her damp head. “So creative. You can be so nice and so empathetic. You could do anything, be anything! Yet if the rumors are true, you’re choosing to blindly follow a man that will only---“

She stopped, realizing she’d said too much already.  She bit the inside of her cheek harshly to keep from saying anything further.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” Severus said without malice behind it. “I have my reasons for what I do.”

“But Lily,” Hermione said with a feeble raise of her palms. “Lily was your best friend. You gave her up-“

“You don’t know anything about it.” Snape looked like he was going to dart away from her, his eyes narrowing and his entire body clenching at the mention of the girl’s name. Hermione quickly ceased the line of question she’d been pursuing.

“Don’t get upset,” Hermione said gently, as if she were calming a spooked horse she raised her hands in supplication. “I’m just trying to understand you.”

Why are you trying to understand me?” Snape countered aggressively; his endless eyes raking over her face. “What could you possibly gain by understanding me, Lockheart?”

Because I want you to live! I want you to be happy! I don’t want you to have to live a double life! I want so much for you to come out of the war unscathed and joyful! I want you to survive to know how much we care for you and acknowledge all you did to save us!

“I can’t explain,” Hermione said with her eyes falling to the ground. She knew she couldn’t tell him the truth, that would get her nowhere. It was dangerous enough that she was saying this much to him.

“I just. . . I think your life is worth something.”

The two of them sat in silence, Severus looking to Hermione with a stern look on his face. No one had ever spoken to him like that. Not his alcoholic father or his neglectful mother. Not even Lily, his best friend, had ever said anything so. . . pure to him.

He stared at the Lockheart girl, unsure of when she had wormed her way into his affections. But the fact of the matter was she had and he was done trying to ignore it.

Tentatively he raised a tapered finger to her face, tracing along her jaw and causing her to start.  She felt the crackle of electricity between them and she felt her heart begin to pound.

This is Professor Snape.

Images of her surly professor began to fly through her mind. The cruel way he called her a silly little girl. The lack of empathy he’d shown her when he made fun of her teeth. The constant berating of her for being an insufferable know-it-all.

But mixed in those images were the memories of Snape’s exhausted frame working diligently for both the Order and the Dark Lord. The way he’d stopped Kreature from calling her a mudblood. The way he’d protected them from what he viewed as a dangerous Sirius Black. And finally she remembered the frantic way he’d looked at Harry when he died and she felt her heart crack. 

“There’s so much I want to say to you,” Hermione said as tears pooled at the edges of her eyes.  Severus Snape was not a hero, but he was not a villain and she was having a hard time rectifying this in her mind when his full mouth pressed against hers.

This kiss was nothing like the first. While the first had been a burning, hateful thing, this kiss was gentle, demure even. His soft lips pressed against hers in soft reverence.  

Hermione’s eyes flew open at the intimacy of the act. She wanted to push him away and run, she wanted to scream at him that he was her professor. But. . . He wasn’t yet. And as Hermione slowly lowered her eyes and leaned more fully into the kiss she realized that she was incredibly turned on.

Was it that she had narrowly escaped death and it was thanks to Severus? Was it that she’d been working so hard this past month in a state of constant stress that she was just enjoying the release? Or had she been without oxygen so long she was well and truly delirious? Whatever it was, it made her lean more fully into him and part her mouth as his tongue danced along the seam of her lips.  

She felt his hand come to cup her face, his palm cool against her blushing cheek. His thumb absently ran along her jaw, back and forth, enjoying the feel of her soft skin underneath him. Goosebumps started out on her arms, her nipples tightening painfully as he groaned against her. The vibrations rang through her mouth and into her body, causing her to shiver.

Suddenly as physically pulled back he tore from her mouth, breathing heavily and staring at her as if she’d slipped him a love potion.

“I have to go,” he said standing. Before she could say anything more, the young and enigmatic Severus Snape had rushed from their seats on the grass, leaving Hermione staring after him.

Chapter Text

 

Minerva and Ron sat across from one another in silence in the Headmistress’ office. Ron’s leg bobbed up and down anxiously as the silence grew between them.

“What does it mean if they didn’t leave the room, Headmistress?” Ron asked with a frustrated running of his hands through his hair. He had grown so pale that his freckles stood out even more on his pinched face.

“I don’t know exactly, Mister Weasley,” Minerva said with a soft shake of her head. “But I have a theory. If I’m correct however, it’s much worse than I originally thought.”

“What do you think happened?”

McGonagall stood then, needing to move about the room and regulate her breathing. She paced around the small circular office, glancing at the sleeping portrait of Albus and shaking her head.

“It is my belief that Mister Potter, Miss Granger and Mister Malfoy have gone back in time,” Minerva said in a hollow tone. “Miss Granger had asked for use of a time turner for her last year here. She wanted to do extra classes and of course I acquiesced. She had always been the most responsibly student.

“She’d never do that,” Ron said resolutely, crossing his arms and coming to his girlfriend’s defense. “She would never betray your trust like that.”

“I believe you,” Minerva said. “But I don’t know the same of the two young men with her.”

“Draco may do something like that,” Ron agreed readily. “But Harry? Harry would never do something like this! He’s just finished the war for Merlin’s sake!”

“Are you so sure, Mister Weasley?” Minerva’s eyes narrowed in thought. “Harry Potter is many things; brave and forthright most definitely. But he is also a young man with a lot of pain he carries. Maybe pain that you aren’t privy to.”

Ron fell silent at this, thinking of the lack of letters his friend had sent him this summer. He had attributed it to their busy schedules but was it something more? Hadn’t he seemed quite off during the first part of the Auror training? A bit unfocussed, a bit more secretive. He had to admit that perhaps Minerva was onto something. If anything Hermione would have gone with Harry to ensure he didn’t muck about in the past. She was responsible like that.

“But if that’s what happened, then when did they travel back to?”

“I have no idea,” she replied with her palms up in dismay. She was disappointed she didn’t have a better answer for the anxious looking boy. “And I don’t know of any way we’d be able to know.”

“But then how do they get back?”

“If they haven’t returned by now, Mister Weasley I fear that their time turner has been damaged beyond repair.”

“But, then how will they get back?”

“That’s just the thing Mister Weasley,” Minerva said with her eyes growing glassy. “I don’t think they can.”

***

Draco and Lucius took a turn around Hogsmeade, looking more like brothers and less like father and son. The older boy was haughty, his silken hair blowing in the breeze of the autumn afternoon. The two of them had just finished up at the Hog’s Head tavern and Draco was enjoying the warm feeling of being rather buzzed.

“So Draco,” Lucius said, “you’ve been here almost a month and I find your dedication to the cause to be quite. . . Impressive. I find that you possess all the qualities one needs to make a remarkable Death Eater.”

“Thank you,” Draco said with a sinister smile.

“And that’s why I’ve decided to include you in my next little plan,” Lucius said with a regal air.  The two men continued to walk until they were at the edge of the Shrieking Shack property. Draco cast an anxious look up at the creaking building, the shattered windows and dark looming façade still enough to make Draco wince.  

“Have you ever been here?”

“No,” Draco lied, casting an anxious look in Lucius direction. “What is it?”

“It’s the Shrieking Shack,” Lucius replied, his silvery eyes cast on the building in front of them. “And it will be instrumental in our revenge against the Mudblood and the Potter gang. I happen to know for a fact that Albus Dumbledore himself commissioned the shack for the use of a particular student. A Remus Lupin. Have you heard of him?”

“Yes.”

“Well, apparently the young man suffers from a terrible case of Lycanthropy. At each full moon he transforms into a horrid beast,” Lucius sneered at this thought. “He comes to the shack to live out his episodes before he’s returned, a little worse for wear, but unharmed to the school. Our dear Severus found this out the hard way, you see. If not for the sudden emergence of James Potter’s conscience, the boy would be dead.”

“I see,” Draco said with a nod. He had no idea! That bloody Lupin had taught them in year three! Did Albus Dumbledore care nothing for their safety? He could feel his blood start to bubble at the thought, only breaking from this when Lucius began to speak again.

“And were you aware that there is an entrance from the grounds of Hogwarts to the shack?”

Draco stopped, his eyes widening in surprise. “No, where?”

“The base of the infamous Whomping Willow,” Lucius said with a small grin. “It’s quite ingenious, really. Considering how terrified everyone is of that ridiculous tree. You simply poke the knot in the base of the tree. It paralyzes it and allows passage.”

A comfortable silence fell between them as Draco considered the information set out before him.  He stole a glance at the elder Malfoy, wondering if he should show his ignorance and ask or simply pretend he knew where this was going. He decided on the former, not wishing to displease Lucius with the wrong course of future action.  

“But how will this help to get the Mudblood and her ilk out of our hair?”

“You know there is to be a masquerade of sorts?” Lucius asked with a rise of his perfectly shaped eyebrow. “Hosted by the dreadfully mundane Horace Slughorn?”

“Yes,” Draco nodded.

“Well, I happen to notice that it falls on the eve of a full moon,” Lucius said with a smile that could only be described as malevolent. “And that my dear boy is where you come in.”

***

Boil cure potion: An in-depth essay by Hermione Lockheart.

The ingredients of the infamous Boil Cure Potion are a varied collection of dried nettles, stewed horned slugs, porcupine quills, crushed snape fangs-

"Oh bugger," Hermione grumbled angrily to herself as she used her ink eraser on her parchment to remove the sentence that included 'Snape' fangs. Ever since last night at the lake she hadn't been able to concentrate on a thing. She hadn’t wanted to continue going to classes or continuing on with her homework assignments here but she knew if she suddenly stopped participating in classes, suspicions would be aroused. So here she was in the library in the mid afternoon trying to write about a topic she couldn’t currently care less about, completely distracted. She furrowed her brows and started again on the next paragraph.

If a porcupine quill is added to the mixture before the cauldron is securely and completely taken off the fire, the darkened mixture produces clouds of acid green smoke and with a loud kissing sound-

"Oh forget it!" Hermione said exasperatedly crumpling her parchment and throwing down her quill in frustration. Snape instead of Snake, kissing instead of hissing, Gods it was too much. Would she ever think of anything else? She had been so thankful he wasn’t in Potions class today she didn’t even notice the looks the other students were giving her.

 Apparently the rumor that Hermione had poisoned Wendy Slinkhard was going around the gossip mill, causing many students to avoid her altogether. Only Hestia and Lily would speak to her now, the rest of the students gave her a wide berth. If this had been any other time Hermione would have been shamed by it. But now, it was a most welcome reprieve.

But now as she sat there her mind couldn’t help but go back to last night. The kindness Severus had displayed. Saving her from drowning, gathering the eggs, ensuring she didn’t catch a cold. It had been so foreign to her to receive such tender care from such a terse figure. And then the kiss. . . That kiss had rocked Hermione’s entire world. Having only felt the lips of Viktor Krum and Ron Weasley, Hermione had assumed she’d had enough worldly experience. All of that illusion was shattered the moment that Severus had placed his aching mouth on hers.

She was furious with him for kissing her and for good reason too. She'd been perfectly content to live her life not knowing the seduction skills of Severus Snape and now she'd tasted his lips first hand and could think of only him. His touch, how he felt being so open and vulnerable with her. It had been tenderness she’d felt from him that night, the warmth of his mouth and the tickle of his hair on her cheek.

Snap out of it.

Gods she hated him for doing this to her. It was a distraction from everything. She had to skip breakfast for fear of seeing him there. Now she was hiding in the library this evening, writing her essays. And not just a distraction, there was also the matter of a certain redhead waiting for her back home.

Dear Ron Weasley who had no idea that his girlfriend had been enjoying the forbidden kisses of Severus Snape down before the Great Lake.  Hermione cringed in embarrassment at this. She was horrible! She and Ron had always had a tumultuous relationship over the years- Vicktor, Lavender and now. .  . Snape.  Hermione could still feel his hot breath against her own, still smell the soapy scent of his hair. It was all too much and Hermione buried her face in her hands a moment in shame.

What was I thinking? I have a lovely boyfriend back home! A boy who cares about me very much. A boy I have desired so deeply for over five years! And here I am gallivanting about with my future professor? What am I doing?! What is wrong with me?!

She pushed herself back from her chair, needing to go for a short walk and in her pursuit, grab a book that had caught her eye earlier. She had to ignore the aching in her belly, the thrumming of her heart. Something was changing within her and she couldn’t quite pinpoint it.

She walked over to the magical creatures section slowly, stretching a bit as she walked. It was fairly empty here this time of night and it was Hermione’s favorite place in all of Hogwarts. She wished it were open longer than eight o’clock, but she would take what she would get. She stopped in front of the section she’d been searching for, crawling up the ladder and grabbing the large black and olive book that clearly read: Care & Health of Unicorns. It was a heavy tome and she grunted as she pulled it down, carrying it back over to her table and letting it fall onto the wood table with a resounding thunk.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,”came the shrill silencing of Irma Pince, her beady eyes narrowed on the girl who’d made the noise. Hermione ducked her head and sat quickly, opening the book and looking to the index. When she found the section she desired she quickly flipped the aged pages, pulling out her quill and starting to take furious notes.

 “Some light reading?”

Hermione glanced up to see the tall Severus looking down at her with a pull of a smirk on the corner of his full mouth. She glanced over to see Irma Pince glaring at them from where she stood at the counter. Severus noticed this as well and Hermione watched as he pulled out a chair and sat across from her, his eyes going over her face.

He looked like he wanted to say something to her, but Hermione was determined to continue ignoring him. He had been so bizarre rushing off from her last night – why should she even bother being polite to him? She continued reading from the book, making the odd note on her parchment as Severus watched her. It was unnerving- like when Viktor watched her doing homework in her fourth year. It was unsettling to be watched like an animal and he seemed to notice this.

He pulled a piece of parchment from his robes pocket along with a quill and began to write something hurriedly in his spiky scrawl. The handwriting Hermione recognized from the Potions book by the Half-Blood Prince. She noticed a note being pushed towards her and she glanced over to it to see he’d written her a note.

I see you’re researching unicorns now. Part of your secret project?

Hermione glanced at the parchment before nodding adroitly. She could feel her cheeks reddening at the proximity of him to her. He took the paper back and wrote hurriedly before pushing it back. Hermione sighed, trying to show her irritation before looking it over.

Would you like some help?

Hermione wrinkled her nose at that. Did he think she was too stupid? She shook her head in irritation and saw as his dark eyes slid over her notes which clearly read: Unicorn blood retrieval – foals more willing to part with? How to gain their trust? Seeing that her notes were being read she quickly wrapped her arm around the parchment protectively as if shielding a fellow student from copying her test answers.

She heard him continuing to write scratchily on the parchment. She didn’t look up when he pushed the parchment back to her. She continued making notes, making sure that she looked as irritated with his presence as possible. She felt the insistent push of Snape’s parchment against her left hand and she exasperatedly looked over to it.

If you’re looking for Unicorn blood I can help you.

Hermione paused then, her eyes re-reading the sentence three times before she understood what she was seeing. She felt her dark eyes slide over the parchment and up into the open eyes of Severus. She paused a moment before jerking her head and standing, indicating that he should follow. Their footsteps made dull noises as they walked hurriedly to the far corner of the library, near the section on hexes, away from the peering eyes and listening ears of Irma Pince. When Hermione was certain that they couldn’t be heard she whirled around and spoke in a forceful whisper.

“What do you know about retrieving unicorn blood?” she demanded.

“More than you do, obviously.”

Hermione grimaced, trying to ignore that Severus was drawing nearer to her, almost backing her into the bookcase behind her.  She planted her feet firmly on the ground, raising her head and giving Snape as intimidating look as she could come up with. She did this even when at this very moment she could feel her heart beating rapidly at the nearness of the boy. 

“Why would you help me?”

“Don’t you ever do something because it’s the right thing to do?” he said with the ghost of a smile on his face. Hermione gaped at this as her own words repeated back to her by Severus bloody Snape of all people.

“I don’t trust you,” Hermione replied flatly, crossing her arms. While he had most assuredly saved her from a watery death she had assumed he had done it simply to be even with her for sticking up for him. Now this extra kindness seemed out of place, suspicious to the highest order and she needed some answers.

“That’s probably wise,” he replied, his dark eyes dancing in a way she’d never seen before. “It’s up to you Lockheart. Either I can help you with this strange little project of yours or you can continue to fritter away your free time trying to find out the information I already know.”

He stood there waiting for her answer, his dark eyes boring into her own. He knew from experience that Hermione was just as impatient as he was when it came to the pursuit of knowledge. She wanted it all immediately and he had just dangled this particular piece in front of her delectably.

“If you help me what do you want in return?”

“In return?”

“Yes,” Hermione said quietly, her chin squaring in defiance. “I’m not a fool. I know Slytherins are cunning and ambitious and they don’t do something for nothing. I assume you’re doing this for something in return and I want to know what it is before I agree.”

Snape got a look on his face then, one that Hermione had never seen on the adult Snape. It could be described as a predatory gleam to his shimmering gaze, his legs carrying him closer to the bushy haired girl in front of him. He touched the hand at her side, slipping up until he was stroking her arm. The girl shivered and Severus smiled. He had her right where he wanted her.

“I had thought it was rather obvious Miss Lockheart,” Severus replied silkily, backing her completely against the ladder. Hermione gripped behind her, slowly going up one of the rungs of the ladder as she tried to back up and move further from him.

No no no. This can’t happen again.

She saw too late that this only served to bring her up to his height, their eyes level. He took advantage of this, standing against her by the ladder and raising his arms and placing his palms on either side of Hermione, effectively stopping her ascent.  Before she could speak he had pressed a fierce kiss to her trembling lips.

She gave a surprised whimper, trying to push him off of her. But he was more determined than last night. His mouth was eager to taste her own, his dark eyes watching as the girl’s lids fluttered closed, her mouth parting and allowing his tongue passage. Hermione felt her entire body run alight as his tongue slipped into her mouth, dancing with her own before retreating.

You’re fucking about with time, Hermione. Stop kissing him.

His hands slid around her waist, pulling her hips against his and startling her. He saw her eyes squeeze shut as she focused on pulling away, trying to get him away from her. She whimpered under his ministrations, wanting to be released instantly but feeling the oddest sensations whirling within her abdomen. She wanted him to stop holding her wrists, and she wanted to be free but at the same time she was amazed at his rough kisses and the jolts they set inside her.

This is Professor Snape, she thought as her mind whirled, her wrists shaking along with her body as he kissed her with a passion she had long suspected he kept hidden. I’m kissing Professor Snape. He made fun of your teeth. He made Neville’s life horrid. He terrified you your entire life. Think of Ron! Sweet Ron

Pinning her wrists at her sides Severus continued ravishing her soft  and increasingly pliant lips. As he did this he began making gentle circle movements with his pelvis against her own and Hermione couldn’t deny the perverse thrill that was going through her. It was wrong, but it felt so good.

She wanted him against her more, she wanted his kisses to deepen. This was a thought she would later condemn herself for, but in the throes of passion -which overruled the mind and reason- she wanted nothing more than for Severus to take her there in the stacks of the Hogwarts Library.  She would later hate herself for this lapse in judgment, but in this moment the feeling of Severus Snape was like she was a woman in a vast oasis and he a cool glass of water.

She moaned into his mouth at the delightful pressure, and he himself was surprised at her sudden reception to his touch. So much in fact that he pulled away a moment -still pinning her to the ladder- and looked to her flushed face whilst breathing heavily.

She wants me?

He paused a long moment, his eyes traveling to map of Hermione’s face in shock. He’d never actually been with a woman who had desired him – Voldemort’s boons had first been introduced in order to keep the talented young wizard enticed. There was no easier way to keep control over a young man like through his cock. But Severus had quickly tired of the whores and the fellow female Death Eaters. There was something quite repulsive about being shagged because one was being paid or ordered, not that his other ‘friends’ felt the same.

But here was this girl, this brilliant and open girl and she wanted him! With that confusing observation  Severus captured her unwilling lips in his own once more, sucking at her tongue as she finally gave herself over, her lips starting to mimic his own as her tongue searched his own mouth. He almost jumped at the jolt it sent down his spine, his stomach flipping as she did so. She too was enjoying herself for he was a delightful kisser. The fine hairs on the back of her neck were poker straight up as he caressed her lips and body with his touch.

He was surprised at first to see her so eager to continue the kissing. He decided to test this theory, slowly loosening his grip on Hermione’s wrists at her sides and holding onto the ladder behind her instead. Within seconds Hermione’s arms had snaked up his chest and wrapped around his neck, pulling his mouth more eagerly against her own.  He'd been ready to pull away when he'd been overcome with the need to continue kissing her. She was so sweet tasting, and none of the other girls here at Hogwarts were like her. She was a know-it-all like him and didn't hide it. She wasn't afraid of him, and here she was kissing him back and enjoying it. And yet, there was a niggling in the back of his mind.  He pulled back slowly disentangling himself from the girl.

“We should stop,” he breathed, swallowing thickly as he stared at the girl’s swollen lips still parted in desire.  Her eyes opened slowly, drinking his face in. For a horrible moment she wondered if she were a bad kisser. Was this why he had run off? Was that why he was pulling back now? But if so why would he kiss her tonight?

“Why did you run off yesterday?” Hermione asked, her eyes searching his. “At the lake?”

Snape licked his lips absently, causing a shudder to go through Hermione, making her nipples tighten. He didn’t even realize how enticing he was, did he? Was he enticing though? Or was he just simply so good at kissing that Hermione was skipping over his faults?  Was it that he’d been so strangely kind to her? She didn’t know, but whatever it was had caused Hermione’s entire perception of her future Potions Master to shift.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop if I kept going,” Severus finally said in a soft tone raising a tapered finger and slipping it over Hermione’s bottom lip thoughtfully. She held in a whimper at this. “At least here we have the sharp tongue of Irma Pince to stop us if things go too far.”

He smiled boyishly at this and Hermione felt her heart thump painfully her ribcage at the sight. She had never really seen Professor Snape smile unless it was a twisted variety, usually a predecessor to some bad news or event. Hermione returned the smile shakily before Snape continued talking.

 “I really could use your help,” Hermione admitted aloud, trying to break the spell he currently had over her. “With the unicorn blood. I need it rather quickly.”

“Oh course,” he murmured, his eyes finally moving from her mouth to meet her eyes. “Meet me in the common room at one a.m. Be sure to bring your wand – however faulty it may still be of use.”

“Okay,” Hermione nodded. Before she could say anything more, the tall boy had moved back from where he had her pinned against the ladder. She clutched against it, not completely trusting her legs not to be rubber.

“I’ll see you tonight,” he promised, giving her an appraising look before whipping around and leaving the library. Hermione watched his lean frame turn around the stacks and she let out the large exhale that had been building in her chest. A burning question remained, a rather pressing one that Hermione was currently fixated on.

What the fuck had just happened?

Chapter Text

Hermione felt her heart hammer as she crept into the common room that evening. She had eaten a speedy dinner, played a game of wizard’s chess with Hestia and then headed to bed for an ‘early night’. She pretended to be asleep while the girls began to draw into the dormintory. They got prepared for bed and slid into the covers before falling asleep. Some of the older girls took their time in the lavatory before making their way out speaking in hushed whispers.

“I heard it was some dark magic that did it.”

“Dou really think she’d do something like that to Wendy?”

“I doubt it,” the other replied snarkily. “She doesn’t seem the type.”

“Yeah, but they never do, do they?”

The two girls giggled and settled down for the night and Hermione felt a twist in her gut. Poor Wendy Slinkhard – Hermione had tried to visit her earlier but had been summarily rushed from the room by a frantic Poppy.

But now as she drew her cloak over her shoulders and made her way towards the common room, Hermione decided to focus her mind on the task at hand; retrieving unicorn blood for the potion they’d need to get home. She saw Snape’s tall frame standing by the hearth, staring at the embers.

“You came,” he said, not without a hint of surprise as he heard her approach.

“You’re surprised?”

“A little,” he admitted. “I thought you might back out.”

“And why is that?” Hermione asked determinedly.

“Because it’s quite dangerous to go into the forbidden forest at night,” he replied as if the answer were obvious.

“Yes, well,” Hermione admitted with a twisted grimace on her face. “Let’s not fixate on that. Let’s just go.”

Snape gave her a ghost of a smile before he went to the window and opened it with his wand. He quickly pulled himself up, much like Hermione had done the night before. He lowered himself onto the small lining of grass just outside the window. He could hear the gentle lapping of the lake behind him and he watched as Hermione lowered herself to meet him.

He gripped her as she came down, his hands lingering around her waist longer than necessary, she noticed. They slowly inched their way around the lake, not wanting to draw more attention to themselves than necessary.

When they’d made it safely to the shore, Severus gripped Hermione’s hand in his. She noticed his was damp and she smiled. He was nervous. It was a completely innocuous yet somehow  intimate gesture. As if they were two third years on a date in Hogsmeade. Severus muttered a something under his breath that Hermione recognized as a disillusionment charm, before flicking his wand around them both.

They were concealed by the charm, no one would be able to see them as they blended seamlessly with their background. But Hermione couldn’t help that notice he wasn’t dropping her hand.  

“Lumos,” he whispered, holding the wand in his left hand as they walked on. Hermione glanced around them, making sure no one was out and about. It was eerily quiet on the grounds this early in the morning and she was suddenly thankful she didn’t have to do it alone.

“Thank you for coming with me,” she said honestly. Snape grunted in return, his dark eyes fixed on the path in front of them.  When they’d made their way to the edge of the forest Hermione took a soft gulp. It was always nerve-wracking going into this place; one never knew what awaited them; giant spiders, trolls, vampires!

They walked on for what seemed like hours, their fingers entwined and in complete silence before Snape suddenly stilled. He tilted his head a moment, his large nostrils seeming to pick up on a scent that Hermione could not.

“They’re close.”

Hermione glanced up at him in surprise, seeing the calculating look in his coal black eyes. She felt a pang of pity for the life the clever boy would be leading. What a waste of such a keen mind and a talented potions master.

She glanced up ahead and saw a slash of pure white through the gnarled roots of the large trees. The moonlight seemed to bounce off of their shining coats as they drew closer. Before long they were at the edge of a clearing where several unicorns of all ages and sizes were resting comfortably.  Several pure gold foals were struggling to walk, obviously fairly newborn. Hermione felt her heart sing at the sight, for she never saw a newborn before.

The older ones were leaning against the trees, surveying the scene like grandparents would their grandchildren. The entire thing was completely calm and serene and Hermione felt fairly poorly about interrupting it.

“They’re so beautiful,” Hermione said with a wistful sigh. It was the same thing she said every time she saw one, but their majesty and their ethereal beauty did not ebb over time. If anything they became more beautiful every time she saw them.

“The foals won’t come near you,” Snape said judiciously. “I saw in your notes that you thought they might be more willing. But it’s the older creatures who are more likely to part with their essence.”

“How do you know?”

“Just trust me,” he said in way of explanation. With his larger hand still wrapped around hers he led her to the side of the clearing, slowly as not to startle the creatures. It didn’t work however, as several already alerted to their presence had rushed off, including the foals.

From his robes Severus produced two things; a small pouch and a large vial.  Hermione opened the pouch as he handed it to her, surprised to see it contained at least thirty ruby red rose petals. She looked up to Severus in confusion – what message was he trying to send here?

“It’s their favorite treat,” he explained. “As a cat is to catnip, so are unicorns to rose petals. And these ones are freshly plucked, their favorite.”

“Oh,” Hermione said surprised. “I never knew that.”

“Now,” Snape continued on as if she hadn’t spoken, “You need to put the image in your mind of what you desire. You need to have that in your mind for the unicorn to sense. If your mind is cluttered or anxious, they will know and they will flee.”

Hermione closed her eyes as he said this; her mind immediately envisioning a vial of unicorn blood. The beautiful shimmering color of it- like spilled petrol sluiced by rain on a motorway. The blue-ish hue mixed about with silver, giving a unique and almost hypnotizing visual.

“Are you ready?”

“I think so.”

“This part you’ll have to do on your own,” he said with a gentle shove at the small of her back. “They don’t trust men as much as women.”

Hermione nodded as this was something she did already know about the mystical creatures. She took a tentative step forward, her mind suddenly jumbling in anxiety. She felt her heart hammer, watching as one of the unicorns already startled by her appearance rushed off.

Damn.

“Calm your mind,” Snape whispered harshly from behind her. “Focus on what you desire. They will know.”

Calm my mind. Calm my mind. Unicorn blood. Getting home. Unicorn blood.

She approached the still slumbering unicorn slowly, terrified that this was her last chance. The others had seemed to have disappeared during her drawing nearer to this one.

Oh don’t wake up. Don’t be afraid. I need your help.

As if reading her thoughts the unicorn slowly raised its head, its dark eyes taking in the pale girl inching towards it. It rose shakily to a standing position, towering over the girl. Hermione stopped a moment, swallowing thickly before kneeling politely before the creature in supplication. She prayed that this would communicate with the creature that she meant it no harm.

She quickly removed a handful of rose petals from the sash before sprinkling them in front of her. She retreated back onto her knees and waited a moment, her eyes deferentially on the grass between them. Within moments the beautiful creature took a gold-hoofed step towards her, the gold fairly glinting in the moonlight.

With its eyes still fixed on the kneeling girl, the unicorn gently lapped up several of the rose petals, eating quickly before stepping back once more.  Hermione watched as the hoofs retreated and she tried to focus her mind once more.

Unicorn blood. I need your blood, please. I mean you no harm.

She sat like this for several moments, but when she bowed her head and glanced up from under her eyelashes she saw the unicorn stilled before Hermione, looking to her warily. It had made no move to approach her.

I’m thinking of the unicorn blood. Why isn’t it responding?

“Show it your arm,” Snape hissed from the bushes. “Roll up your sleeve.”

Hermione glanced at him over her shoulder in confusion. Her arm? Why should a unicorn care about her arm? She saw the boy giving her a meaningful look that was completely lost on her. Snape indicated to her left arm, his wand tapping against his own forearm in demonstration as the unicorn watched this passively.

When she realized what he had meant she felt her stomach clench. She knew what he was getting at now. He wanted her to display the horrendous ‘mudblood’ scar on her forearm. Once an angry red carving and now a silvery reminder of her pain. She winced before rolling up her shirtsleeves suddenly red with shame at the knowledge that he’d known about it all this time.  

She gently rolled the shirtsleeve the rest of the way above her elbow and as she viewed the whisper of hatred on her inner forearm she felt hot tears spill over her cheeks. All the pain, the humiliation, the shame she had felt at the mercy of Bellatrix Lestrange were suddenly assaulting her at once. She felt just as small and scared as she had in those moments. The tears slipped traitorously over her burning cheeks as she presented her pale arm shakily.  The unicorn surveyed her before taking a soft step forward.

“I need a bit of your blood,” Hermione whispered through her choked sobs. “I need it to get home. Please. You’re my only hope.”

The unicorn stepped closer now and Hermione could see it watching her, its eyes moist. It slowly lowered its great head and using its horn, made a small incision on its side. Hermione watched this in dull surprise, wondering if the unicorn felt much pain when it did this. It didn’t seem to as it moved its large body over towards the girl.

It looked back to Hermione, offering its side to her. Hermione stood quickly, popping the cork out of the vial and placing it gently at the unicorn’s warm side. She could feel the ribs under her hands as she watched the silvery liquid slip into the vial.  The unicorn didn’t look at her, choosing instead to glance at the dark haired boy in the shadows. When the vial was almost full Hermione pulled away gently, placing the cork upon the vial and standing back.

“Thank you.”

The unicorn turned now, putting its muzzle to its open wound and licking quickly. Within seconds the wound was sealed as if it had never been injured in the first place. The beautiful creature glanced once more at the girl before it quickly moved away, back to join its kin.  Soon it was just Hermione in the open field and Severus walked over to see her.

“You got it,” he said with a glance at the vial she was putting into her robes.

“Yes,” Hermione whispered, watching the foreground in some desperate desire to see it once more. To adequately show appreciation for such an act of kindness. But instead Severus blocked her view, his dark eyes capturing her own.  

“What did you say to it?”

“I don’t remember,” Hermione lied. “Just that I needed it. Why did it give it to me after it saw the scar?”

“They recognize pain,” Snape said as if reading from a book. “Unicorns as you know are singularly attuned to the emotional nuances of human beings. They’re born with an inner desire to help. I assumed that showing your arm would lend itself to your cause and I was right.”

“How long have you known about my scar?” Hermione asked stiffly.

“I noticed it earlier,” Severus said with a neutral expression. “By the lake.”

“I see.”

He was quiet, looking thoughtful before he spoke almost against his will. “Who did it to you?”

Hermione was quiet, thinking over what she would say. She was twisted about inside, wanting to shove him away from her for touching the scar and reminding her of that awful night. The other part wanting to scream that he needed to run away, to get away from Voldemort. But she knew that either way she would be upsetting the future.

“i don't want to talk about it."

Without thinking he grasped her hand in his, tightening its grip.

Hermione shifted from his touch, uncomfortable with the way he was gripping her so tightly. He seemed angry then, his jaw clenching. She wondered what had him so upset but she was also too tired to go into it.  

“Let’s head back.”

With that the  two of them walked back in companionable silence through the forest. Hermione would never admit it, but having him with her made their trek seem more safe. She felt that even as a young man Snape had the wherewithal and the talent to stop anything that may attack.

“You’ll need help brewing for your project,” Snape observed conversationally as they walked. “I could help you.”

“There’s no need,” Hermione said with a shake of her head. “I’m perfectly capable, thank you.”

“Even with a faulty wand?”

Hermione paused at this, realizing that what he was saying was completely true.  While the wand wasn’t completely needed for the potion, it would make things remarkably easier to have one that worked. She glanced over at him, seeing that he wore such an open look of eager readiness that she couldn’t help but agree.

They approached the castle and Hermione and Severus began the precarious climb around the wall of the castle before hefting themselves up through the large window to the Slytherin common room. They landed softly onto the carpeted floor, Hermione first then Severus. She was about to bid him a goodnight when he looked to her expectantly for an answer to his previous offer.

“You’re sure you wouldn’t mind helping me?” she asked curiously. “It’s quite a lot of work.”

“I wouldn’t mind.”

But why? She wanted to ask. But she knew what happened the last time she did that. The feel of his mouth had left her lips tingling for hours afterward.  She could see that his dark eyes were surveying her much like they had in the library and she knew she had to stop it quickly.

“Alright,” Hermione nodded with an air of professionalism that belied her thrumming heart.  “Do you know somewhere secure we can work without being disrupted? Somewhere the potion can sit for a few days undisturbed?”

“I do,” he nodded, trying to contain the small smile that was twitching at the corner of his mouth. He could see that the girl was anxious to be so close to him and it secretly delighted him.  “I’ll come and fetch you tomorrow at three pm. Meet me at the library.”

“Alright,” Hermione said, about to turn when she felt Snape grab either side of her face and lowered his head to meet hers. His lips brushed gently against hers in a remarkably restrained, yet tender kiss. Hermione felt her eyes shut immediately, her mouth parting in desire as he gently moved his mouth languidly against hers. They stay like this in the Slytherin common room, the tall boy and the bushy haired girl. The girl’s hands on the boy’s forearms, leaning into the kiss before the boy pressed one more full-lipped kiss against the girl’s mouth before moving his mouth to the shell of her ear.  

“Goodnight,” he rumbled against her ear, causing her stomach to topple. She watched him as he broke from her, giving her a small whisper of a smile before he was gone down the corridor to his dormitory. Hermione watched after him, as she felt she was continually doing with the realization that she was starting to feel something very much like tender feeling for Severus Snape.

***

Severus walked into the Hog’s Head the next afternoon, exhausted and his entire body heavy with dread. Lucius Malfoy had sent him an owl early that morning, insisting that they meet up immediately with a date and location. The tone had been curt and insistent. Snape had replied that he would indeed do so, all the while feeling quite anxious. Lucius didn’t often send for him like that. It had taken all his stealth, and a missed class of Potions to slip away from the school without being seen.

The aged wizard behind the pub’s counter was drinking an amber liquid, giving Severus a severe look as the young man drew into the tavern. Severus glanced around the fairly empty pub, drawing over to the blonde wizard who sat facing away from the door.

“Hello Lucius,” Severus said conversationally as he slipped into the booth across from the older wizard. “Been waiting long?”

“Severus, I’ve trusted you with everything, have I not?” Lucius said without means of polite introduction. His gaze was on the table between them, his jaw ticking as he clenched his perfect teeth. “I brought you into the dark army, I trusted you with my most innermost secrets, correct?”

 “You have,” Severus replied cooly.  “Just as I have shared everything with you”

“And yet you repay me with treachery,” Lucius began, his eyes on his drink before darting finally up to Snape’s face.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to explain yourself better than that,” Severus said folding his hands on the table and fixing Lucius with an even gaze.

“The poison you were supposed to slip into their drinks? The parchment was drenched in it.” Lucius said with a seething tone. “All you had to do was dip it into their drinks! So simple a first year could have done it. And yet I hear today that none of them were affected. The only one who has been to the infirmary for it is the Slinkhard girl, not even one of our targets!”

“I see your little rat is doing his job well,” Severus scoffed.

“Watch it Severus,” Lucius replied. “Peter Pettigrew is fast becoming more useful to me and the Dark Lord than you are. If you don’t want to suffer the same fate as Creevy senior, I suggest you smarten up.”

“It was too risky at the supper,” Severus explained flatly. “There was no chance I could administer it without being seen. I took my chance in spiking the coffee of Lockheart this morning. Turns out she was sitting very near Wendy Slinkhard and the glasses got swapped.”

“It’s not only that which has me concerned, Severus,” Lucius continued with a purring tone. “I’m concerned at your apparent lack of focus.”

“You’ll have to explain that as well,” Snape said with an irritated sigh.  “I’m afraid I don’t speak Malfoy today.”

“Fine, you want it in plain terms? You were seen fraternizing with the mudblood,” Lucius spat angrily, his grey eyes flashing. “There out by the lake, plain as day with anyone to see.”

“I was winning her favor,” Snape replied with ease. “Do you really think she’d give up any pertinent information if she thought I’d harm her? I need the little twit to trust me.”

Lucius gave a gentle scoff at this, obviously not believing what he was hearing. Snape could feel his teeth clenching in irritation at that. He would not be undermined because of some silly girl like Hermione Lockheart.

"Do you think me soft?" Severus sneered, "you believe me to have fallen weak for the dubious charms of a mudblood?"

"Yes," Lucius said plainly, startling the dark haired boy across from him. "If I didn't know better I'd say you enjoy the thrill of the chase. Of finding someone you think is just like you; clever and talented. Except she’s not like you Severus. She’ll never be like you and when she realizes the truth she’ll leave you just like Lily did."

Snape felt as if he’d been punched in the stomach at this. His eyes flashing a moment before he blinked rapidly, unsure if he could find his own voice. Lucius watched the young man across from him, knowing that it had been cruel but know it had also been necessary. If anything Lucius was helping his younger friend to remain on the good side of Tom Riddle.

"Is not the first step in attacking an enemy, finding its faults?" Severus finally said smoothly, finding his voice after all. "It's easier to attack something when weakened Lucius, even you know that. The first tactic in war is to know thine enemy is it not?"

"And you've found something of interest?" Lucius scoffed. "Through these kissing games perhaps? I fail to see how that could ever assist us in the future."

"Because of those, 'kissing games' as you so call them," Severus said haughtily, "you'll be interested to note that her wand is faulty and that she's beginning to trust me."

"A faulty wand and the trust of a Mudblood. That's a laugh."

"Don't you see?" Severus said angrily, "she'll do anything I say."

"What?"

"I lied to her," Severus said with a horrible smirk, "I’m gaining her trust day by day.  She submitted to my kisses and lies so easily it was almost laughable. She cares for me. At first I was against her, but I realized getting close to her could be of benefit. She’s in with the Potter ilk and she’s besotted with me."

A bit of color seemed to come back to Lucius' face as Severus recounted his story, his fists losing their clench. "Truly?"

"Look at her the night of the masquerade," Severus said with an oily smirk, "see the devotion so clearly written in her eyes. See the way she watches me. She's cares for me, she wants me."

"You?" Lucius' scoffed as Snape's teeth ground into one another as he surveyed Lucius with a sneer.

"I'm glad to see you haven't submitted to the weak side Severus, for I have a plan in store for that special little Mudblood." he was grinning mercilessly, "Draco and I conversed about it. He hates her almost more than we do."

"Oh?" Severus said warily, not liking the glint in his blonde friend's eyes.

"Yes," Lucius said eagerly, "If all goes to plan let just say we won't have to worry about that filthy mudblood anymore. Draco is very keen to please and will be instrumental in our plan going forward.”

"Well then," Severus said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "how could anything possibly go wrong?"

"Indeed," Lucius said, choosing to ignore his friend’s sarcasm. 

"Well mark my words," Severus said smoothly, "a few more days of dark seduction and Hermione Lockheart will be putty in my hands. And then..." he drawled, the words echoing around them before the silence.

"Then we will have our revenge."

 

Chapter Text

 

Severus leafed through the potion book on his lap as he sat cross-legged in the dormitory. The rest of the boys were out in the common room playing wizards chess, smoking and carrying on with the girls. But the pale boy on the bed had eyes only for the cramped writing before him. He was one of those figures that could survive on little sleep – he could wake up after 5 hours full rested and his mind already whirring on the issues of the day.

He scribbled something into one of the margins, his lips thinned in concentration. When he was satisfied he pulled the large book that Lucius had instructed him to buy from Hogsmeade that day. It was hefty and settled onto his lap, resting heavily on his calves. There had been something in there that he wanted to test and adjust and–

“Mister Snape?”

Snape’s eyes immediately snapped to the balding man standing in robes at the doorway.

Oh wonderful.

Slughorn stood there with his beady eyes looking to the boy with concern. When Slughorn met the young man’s eyes he drew closer into the room, closing the door behind him gently. Severus noted this with irritation, quickly closing his potions book with his quill in the seam to serve as a placeholder.

“Yes, professor? What can I do for you?”

“I wonder that you’re not with the rest of the students in the common room,” Horace said with a bit of a concerned look on his face.  “I notice that you’re often on your own.”

“I prefer it,” Snape said stiffly. His back was completely rigid, giving the boy an air of extreme discomfort. As if he were being physically pushed up against a stone wall. Slughorn came and sat on the bed across from him – on the Mulligan boy’s bed if he were correct - and fixed Severus with a most officious look.

“I am concerned with your lack of socialization, Mister Snape. While most of the students take advantage of the common room activities, you seem to keep rather to yourself, hidden away with your books. It was brought to my keen attention the night of the  last Slug Club Supper.”

Snape winced at the memory, clenching his jaw in irritation and not replying. Was he really being condemned for not being a social butterfly? Was it not enough to be the best potions student at this bloody school, did he also have to be the most popular as well? He wasn’t James bloody Potter! But he knew he couldn’t jump on Slughorn, the man meant well and he could become useful.

“The only person you did seem intent on speaking to was Miss Lockheart,” Slughorn added. “Which I was rather overjoyed to note.”

“And why would that be?” Snape all but hissed.

“You are very much alike,” Horace observed. “Very clever, creative and confident. But where you lack certain social graces, Miss Lockheart seems to have them in spades. I wonder if it may do you some good to spend more time with her? Learn from her.”

“She is bright,” Snape conceded dimly.

“And from what I can tell you two work well together,” Horace said affably.

“Yes, well. . .“ he was about to go on when a sudden look crossed his features. Severus forced a twisted smile on his face, exposing his uneven yellow teeth.

“It’s funny you should mention this Professor, because I had a rather large favor to ask of you. On behalf of myself and Miss Lockheart.”

“Please proceed young man,” Slughorn said looking animatedly at the boy.

“You see, only yesterday she and I were speaking of conducting a few potions experiments ourselves, “Snape tried to look as if his interest were purely academic. “But with classes and homework and studying I find there aren’t enough hours in the day for additional educational pursuits. When I mentioned this to Miss Lockheart she was in complete agreement.”

Horace listened to this politely, his beefy hands on his knees and his interest keen on the boy in front of him. Where was this going?

“If we were able to have permission to stay out, oh, I don’t know, perhaps an hour past curfew each night for the next week it would be a great asset to our findings,” Snape continued. He looked to the man eagerly, wondering how the information would be received.

“Oh I don’t know about that, Severus,” Horace said blustery with his brows knitted. “I wouldn’t want to show favoritism-“

“I would immediately come to you with any findings that may be of interest to you or any periodicals,” Snape emphasized the last word. “With full credit to you of course. Without this favor you’d be doing, our research would be non-existent.”

 Horace suddenly looked more than keen; any chance for the blowhard to look good in the eyes of others. He was pitifully transparent in all he did and he knew that Snape was the best student in Potions, aside from Lily. The only difference was that Lily wasn’t continuing on with it past her time here at Hogwarts – Snape however, had expressed a keen desire to do so.

“And this would also give me the advantage of spending more time with Miss Lockheart,” Snape said silkily, “just as you so wisely suggested.”

Horace stared at the young Mister Snape a moment in consideration. It did make sense – the two of them would make a very good team. And it was also true that any findings they did come across would be under his jurisdiction.

“I would need some supplies,” Snape said pulling out a piece of parchment he’d marked with spiky handwriting and handing it over to the Professor. “Ones I believe only you would have in your stores.”

Horace glanced at the list, one bushy eyebrow rising in surprise. “My my, Mister Snape, some of these items are quite dear you know. Quite expensive.”

“If you can ensure the supply available to me, I can guarantee payment,” Snape said smoothly.

Horace fell silent a moment, seeming to internally debate this before looking to his Slytherin with a grim look on his face.

“For this week only?”

“Yes sir.”

“And you’ll pay for the items straight away?”

“I will sir. Leave me a bill and I’ll be sure tomorrow you receive your payment.”

“And you'll leave the entire place tidy if I give you use of my rooms?"

"That won't be necessary," Snape said courteously. "I've already secured a location to do our brewing."

"You have?"

“The only thing I ask is discretion,” Snape said smoothly. “I would hate for the other students to catch wind of this, preferential treatment and misconstrue it for favoritism. Especially when it is so clearly a case of supporting the academic advancement of your students.”

There was a large pause in which Horace gave Severus a severe look, obviously pondering if what he was about to do was appropriate.

“Come to my office after dinner tonight,” Slughorn said standing and slipping the parchment into his robe’s pocket. “I will write you and Miss Lockheart a pass for the week. You will have use of my stores and any items used will be billed to you at the end of the week.”

“You’re too kind sir,” Snape said with a deferential nod to his superior. But already Slughorn’s eyes were glazed with a look of far off daydreaming, surely already envisioning the accolades  he would receive when he presented a new potion to the periodicals that he often kept in his office.

Slughorn withdrew from the room, leaving Snape smiling in his wake. When he was sure there would be no further interruption from the man he again hefted the book he’d been working from -the large one from Lucius- onto his narrow lap. Snape opened the book to a certain page and smiled as he marked off several ingredients, lingering over the final ingredient with a sardonic smile before marking it off with a vicious slash.  

Unicorn blood.

***

Hermione approached the bustling common room and exhaled gently. Today had been remarkably long and she was feeling more than exhausted. Between her vigorous course work, her late night with Severus and the increasing pressure to gather the last of the ingredients she was feeling more than zapped. But despite all her exhaustion, today had been a good day.

Draco had been amiable towards her and even expressed gratitude when she informed him that the potion would be started soon. He had asked if she needed any assistance but his wand was as faulty as hers and Harry’s. No, Snape was the person for the job but she didn’t disclose this to the fair-haired boy.

Harry had rushed over to slip her the moonseed in between classes before asking how she planned to brew the potion. She had told him not to worry, that she would handle it. That it would likely be complete around the time of the masquerade. He had looked relieved for once at the prospect of going home and she didn’t blame him.

It was a strange, mixed up world here at Hogwarts in the 70’s. They were beginning to form strong attachments to these people, these figures that had loomed so largely in their modern life. Hermione, who had never been one for making friends with girls easily, would desperately miss the camaraderie between she Lily and Hestia.

Not only that, but she was also rather observant of the fact that she was going to miss Severus Snape. His acerbic wit and his brilliance in classes. The first boy she’d met who made her feel academically challenged.  The selfless young man who saved her from the Great Lake, who was tender enough to show her how to retrieve unicorn blood. The boy who had everything to gain by shutting her out and everything to lose by befriending her.

Oh be honest with yourself, Hermione. It’s because he’s the first boy who’s ever made you feel anything like that when you kiss.

It was true.  She had never felt the same intensity with Viktor or Ron as she did when Severus kissed her. His calming hands and his urgent mouth that set off fireworks inside her chest. And there was a large part of her that was genuinely concerned she would never again feel those things.  She wasn’t sure if it was the forbidden aspect – he would after all grow up to be her cruel Potions professor. Or if it was because Severus Snape as a young man had been enigmatic, complicated and fascinating.  The kind of young man who was formed by a horrible upbringing – who didn’t deserve the future he was going to be dealt. 

Don’t even think it, Hermione.

Hermione couldn’t deny that the thought of saving Severus Snape had crossed her mind more than once. The more time she spent with him, the more she considered how she might save him without altering the course of his future. But each and every time she remembered that this a bad course of action; a stupid idea brought on by a silly girl’s crush and she would quickly move past it.

Slughorn suddenly appeared from around the corner, brushing past her as if he hadn’t seen her. She glanced up to see him looking rather distracted, a small smile on his plump face. Obviously he was going to be adding someone or something to his collection soon enough. Hermione rolled her eyes before stepping into the common room fully.

A glance to her right saw several of the pretty seventh year girls chatting animatedly to themselves.

“They say she’ll make a full recovery!”

“She was lucky they caught it so soon!”

Hermione’s attention was immediately drawn to them and despite their universal hatred for her, she walked over to them quickly.

“Are you talking about Wendy Slinkhard?”

It was as if she had screamed that she wanted to walk around Hogwarts naked and painted in owl dung for the reception it got. All the girls stared at Hermione with icy glares, a particularly nasty one from the brunette in the middle with the pale grey eyes.

“What do you care?” she said primly. “From what I hear, you’re the one who poisoned her!”

Hermione bristled at the suggestion. It was one thing to have whispered rumors about her going around, but to actually have someone say it to her face with such vehemence was quite another. But it had been poison? When and how had the girl been poisoned? They had been sitting together at breakfast!

“That’s not true,” Hermione said shaking her head and blinking rapidly. “I’m the one that found her.”

“Convenient,” the red-head to the right of the brunette said with a sneer.  Hermione felt her face color with embarrassment as most of the other students had stopped their conversations and were watching the interaction.

“I’m glad she’s doing better,” Hermione finally offered in a mutter before she backed away from the girls who quickly resumed their whispered conversations. She clutched her books tighter to her chest, her legs wobbling as she made her way over to the dormitory. She was halfway there when Hestia burst into the common room.

“Hermione!”

Hestia squealed as she viewed her friend come into view and rushed over to her, gripping her by the arm and dragging her down onto a nearby sofa. She was fairly trembling in excitement as she looked with shining eyes to Hermione.

“I made first place!” she crowed, producing a small silver glinting trophy which clearly read that Hestia had won first place in the Gobstones tournament. “Can you believe it?”

“Oh I’m so happy for you!” Hermione said, throwing her arms around her friend and beaming. She knew how hard Hestia had been working towards this – despite the fact that it wasn’t that popular. And she was genuinely so chuffed to see her friend so elated. Hestia was so kind and understanding and she deserved all the good things that came her way!

“It was quite intense near the end,” Hestia was saying with a large grin on her face. “But just before Amelia from Hufflepuff was going to cast her yellow marble, I darted in-“

Hermione continued to smile gently but her attention was already wandering. And it wandered over to where a tall raven-haired boy was exiting from the dormitory and into the common room. Hermione immediately bristled at the sight of him, never truly comfortable when he was near her. It didn’t matter that there was a room full of students, whenever she saw him she couldn’t help but hold her breath.

As if he could sense her gaze on him, his dark eyes slowly moved over to where she sat facing Hestia. Hermione and Snape locked eyes intently and without thinking Hermione shot him a small smile of recognition. Hestia noted this as well, turning to glance over her shoulder at a very impassive looking Snape and then back to her bushy-haired friend.

“Are you looking at Severus?” Hestia whispered incredulously.

Noticing immediately that they were being watched, Snape ignored Hermione’s kind gesture, instead allowing his eyes to slide over the rest of the room.

“No,” Hermione answered with a forced laugh. “You were talking about how you beat Amelia?”

Hestia quickly began to recount her story, and Hermione tried to focus on what her friend was saying. But she couldn’t help but keep Severus in her peripheral, her entire body attuned to him. She couldn’t fight of the strange wave of desire that seemed to crest in her abdomen whenever he was around.

She noticed as he now twitchingly walked over to where the pretty girls sat. The ones who had humiliated Hermione so easily before. Why on earth was he talking to them? Hermione listened to Hestia, but her eyes were slowly trailing over to where the girls sat giggling with one another. Severus approached them boldly, looking to them with intensity.

 “Miss Butler?”

The brunette glanced over to Severus and seemed to tense. She rolled her eyes dramatically before facing him.

“What do you want, Snape?”

“I wanted to ask you to the masquerade,” Snape replied simply. “The one Slughorn is hosting.”

Hermione felt her stomach drop the minute the word’s had left his mouth. The three girls on the sofa gaped at Snape a moment, the brunette’s façade suddenly turning coquettish. She glanced up at Snape from under her impossibly thick eyelashes and smiled gently up at Severus.  It was common knowledge that to attend a Slughorn bash was one of the highlights of the year. The man always went to great lengths to provide wonderful food, entertainment, guests and more for all who attended. It was the social event of the year at Hogwarts and only a select few were able to attend.

Obviously this Butler girl realized how unique it was that she would be invited for now her previous glance of indifference had melted into something that could be considered sweet and alluring. Hermione wanted to vomit all over the common room floor at the mere sight of it. 

“You want to take me?” she said demurely, suddenly delighting in the attention of the boy that she normally ignored. Severus continued looking down at her, his face impassive as he responded.  

“I do.”

“I’d love to, Severus,” the girl fairly cooed. Her friends giggled alongside her now, as if she’d just been asked to the ball by her own personal prince charming.

Hermione felt her cheeks redden at the slight, her eyes wet with unexpected tears. What was she hoping for? That’s he’d sweep her off the chaise and into his arms and ask that she come to the masquerade with him whilst peppering her face with gentle kisses?

Yes, she had to admit. A part of her had. And she hated herself for it.

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” Hermione mumbled to Hestia, gathering her books up into her arms and rushing from the room. She didn’t even bother to steal a glance and see if Snape was paying attention to her escape - she had a feeling he wasn’t.

***

Hermione rushed out into the emptied corridor, her feet guiding her quickly towards the staircase. She didn’t know where she would go – perhaps the astronomy tower. She needed to collect her thoughts. Just as she began her ascent she heard her name being called and she paused.


"Hermione!"

Hermione held in a groan as James came over to her in that sauntering fashion. He looked merrily to her, alone without any of his faithful followers. She knew he was likely coming to as her about Lily, but she was so flustered, so humiliated that all she wanted to do was run from everyone.  But then knowing her luck he’d follow her.

So instead she gave him a small smile, hoping to hide her reddened cheeks. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to have a nice, long think and mentally berate herself for being stupid enough to think Severus Snape was anything other than every other teenage boy – obsessed with pretty girls and kissing anything with a pulse. How could she have been so stupid? She felt herself getting upset all over again.

"Oh hello James, Lily was going to Hogsmeade today I believe," she said hurriedly, attempting to brush past him and up the stairs.  James made a queer face and nodded.

 "That's nice," he commented hollowly, wondering if he'd motioned Lily. Hermione sighed softly, wondering if he'd get the impatience in her tone. No use. He was still grinning, still smiling merrily at her as she frowned. It was then she realized that in order to get through to this boy she'd have to be about as subtle as a bludger to the head.

"Where's Harry?"

"Asleep I think. He was pretty tired today."

"Mmmm." Hermione said dryly. “Well, I was in a bit of a rush-“

"So," James said coming close to her in the hallowed hall as she tried to walk faster. It was like trying distance oneself from a leech attached to the skin, it was proving to be quite impossible!

"What are you doing here at this time of night?"

"Nothing."

“You seemed in a bit of a rush.”

"You're right, I was," Hermione commented lamely as James gave her a confused look. She moved back towards the staircase. "I forgot something in the Library and was going to retrieve it."

"Do you have a date for the dance ol’ Sluggy is throwing?"

“No,” Hermione said, her cheeks reddening as she recalled Snape and the annoying Miss Butler. “But I’m sure I can just go alone.”

"I don’t know about that," James said tentatively, grasping her arm and slowing her. She turned to him in surprise, what could he want? She wrenched her arm out of his grip, noting that he seemed to be rather agitated. But she hadn’t time for his feelings right now because at this very moment Hermione wanted to scream .

"Yes?" she snapped impatiently.

"Would you go to the party with me?"

Hermione gaped at him a full moment. This was beyond wrong. He was supposed to ask Lily- that was probablw thw they got along and then fell in love even deeper than now. They'd marry out of Hogwarts, have Harry and he'd defeat Voldemort. Why was James buggering it up?!

"What?" Hermione asked in confusion. “I thought you already asked Lily.”

“No. I’m asking you.”

“But the other day, someone said you were asking  ‘your girl’ to the party.”

James went red at this, his green eyes dropping to the floor. “I meant you.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

"No, this is wrong. You're supposed to ask Lily."

"But I don't want to ask Lily!" James said petulantly. "I'm asking you!"

"No," Hermione said waving her hand. "You ask Lily. You and Lily fall in love. You have a baby."

"What?"

"Just, just listen to me, James!" Hermione said with panic in her voice as she gripped James by his collar. "Ask Lily to the Slug party. You must."

"Oh Hermione," James said gently, drawing nearer as Hermione looked to him in confusion. "If you're nervous about going with me it's alright. I know you don’t know me very well. But I promise I’m a stand up chap and we’ll have a wonderful time.”

Hermione felt as if she were suddenly simple. She blinked rapidly in James’ direction as he spoke, knowing that he was saying English words but not quite comprehending them. Was he mad? Why on earth was he asking her?

“Excuse me?”

"C’mon Hermione,” he said lightly, “I promise I’ll make it a night you won’t forget."

With that he quickly pressed his lips to hers, gripping her tightly about the waist.  Her stomach flipped unpleasantly as she was assaulted with his amateur lips – rubbery and wet.  This was nothing like kissing Severus. She tried to push James' muscled hands from her, noting he wasn't half as pleasant feeling as Snape and wasn't succeeding in getting away from him until a gasp emitted from their right.

"I thought you were supposed to be my friend!" came an angry shout from Hermione's side. She finally broke away from James' kisses in time to see a flash of long red hair go sailing around the corner.

Lily had seen them.

Chapter Text

 

Hermione threw herself onto her dormitory bed the next evening and buried her face in her pillow. At this point she didn’t know what else could be fucked up. Harry resenting his father? Check. Draco being an enigmatic git? Check. Hurting one of the few friends she had here? Check. Hermione feeling hurt by Snape’s slight? Double check. Falling for said former Potions professor? Triple check. With all these cock ups it was only a matter of time before the future was irreversibly ruined and she returned to her own world as a pile of ash and Voldemort ruling the wizarding world.

Hermione had been completely ostracized from all Gryffindor students. Even the ones who had politely smiled at her in the halls before last night. The boys had heard she was in mix with Severus Slytherin Snape and the girls thought she was a remarkable tart for kissing James behind Lily's back. It was a horrible mess, and Hermione wished she could just explain what had occurred to Lily thinking the girl might understand! But no, Hermione had tried time and time again to speak to the red head, only to have doors slammed in her face or a flash of red hair in her mouth as Lily whipped away from her.  The girl had a temper much like Harry – swift and bursting and Hermione hated being on the receiving end of it. She had grown so close with Lily and Hestia – had considered them friends.

There was a rustling beside her ear and she glanced over to see a house-elf putting a small envelope on her bedside table. Hermione was about to say something before the creature disappeared and Hermione reached clumsily for the envelope, pulling it onto the bed with her.

Hermione Lockheart, it read in cramped script. She didn’t need to be a divination professor to know who it was from. She opened it quickly, still laying on her stomach and read it within seconds.

Room of Requirement at 10 pm sharp. Bring this pass and all ingredients with you.

S

Inside the envelope was a small written pass from Professor Slughorn of all people, indicating that he approved of their additional hour outside of curfew for this week on the basis of academic research. Hermione didn’t know how he’d done it – but she was mightily impressed with Snape for having secured this so quickly.  Actually, if she were honest, she felt very mixed up about Severus Snape.

She was still rather angry at him and his actions towards her in the last twelve hours. He had given her the kissing of a lifetime, asked another girl to the masquerade in front of her, ignored her resolutely all day in and outside of classes and had now sent this professional sounding missive requesting her presence. What was she supposed to think of him?

She groaned before sliding the note into her pocket and flopping her head back down onto the bed. By her estimation she had about two hours before she needed to meet Severus and she was determined to fill this time with angry sleep. She had just began to feel the lulling tendrils of fatigue when she heard someone enter the dormitory.

“I’ve been looking for you all day!”

Hermione felt a small pull on her shoulder and she turned her tearstained face to her left, viewing as Hestia came blurrily into view.

“Hermione you didn’t,” she said with a grim look on her face. “Tell me you didn’t.”

“That depends,” Hermione grumbled as she pulled herself up to a sitting position. “What am I meant to have done?”

“Did you really kiss James Potter?” Hestia sat on the bed beside Hermione, bringing her longs knees to her chest as she stared at the bushy-haired girl. “Lily’s James?”

“He kissed me,” Hermione insisted, her stomach dropping.  “I didn’t have any say in the matter.”

Obviously news had already reached the entire dormitory – if not the entire school. She had skipped dinner but evidently her lack of presence was further confounded when Hestia confessed that James Potter himself wasn’t at the meal either.

Hermione could only assume it was because she had pushed James away from het in a hurry after being seen by Lily. Hermione’s horror had been evident on her face and James had at least had the good graces to look embarrassed before rushing off towards the Library.  She’d tried running after Lily, but desperate pounding on the Head Girl bedroom door would never happen because Hermione wasn’t privy to the Gryffindor passcode in this era. It was all beyond frustrating, really.

Now on her bed Hermione put her face in her hands as Hestia looked on at her, her lips in a thin line of displeasure.

“Hermione this is really awful,” she said with a small shake of her head. “We need to do something.”

Before she could continue, Hermione felt a surge of anger go through her. Did Hestia really blame her for James’ advances? Did she even care that Hermione was obviously under so much stress?

“Why should I have to do anything?” Hermione demanded, suddenly red-faced and angry. “I’ve done nothing wrong! I didn’t kiss James! I didn’t even kiss him back! I never would have done that to Lily! And what do you care anyway, Hestia? This doesn’t concern you or Sirius or the masquerade so I fail to see why you’d be interested!”

Hermione was almost breathless after that, her heard hammering angrily in her ears. Hestia blinked a few times and before Hermione could do anything, she saw the tears begin to spill from the girl’s eyes.

Fuck.

Hermione immediately softened, feeling so guilty she could barely focus. She reached out a hand to grip Hestia but the girl pulled back immediately out of reach as if Hermione’s touch were poison.

“I’m sorry I bothered caring,” Hestia said in such a sad and quiet voice that Hermione had to close her eyes at the sound. “I won’t bother you anymore.”

With that Hestia stood up and rushed from the room, rubbing angrily at her eyes as she did. Hermione looked after the girl suddenly realizing that she had just pushed away one of the last people here that would talk to her.

She had never felt more alone.

***

Severus sat in the dormitory across from Draco Parkinson, feeling a strange sense of unease in the pit of his belly.  The two of them were playing wizard’s chess and Draco was proving to be a remarkably gifted opponent. However, this isn’t what had Snape uneasy.

What had him feeling so concerned was that he had been trying to stay away from the Lockheart girl the entire day. He’d missed meals, ignored her during all shared classes and resolutely kept his head when stalking through the corridors.  But the question was why? Why did he suddenly feel so anxious around her?

You know what it is Severus. Admit it.

For a few days now Severus had had a feeling that he knew what it was –and it rested squarely on the shoulders of a red-haired girl who he felt he was repeatedly betraying every time he ravished the Lockheart girl’s mouth.

She’s not yours Severus. She never was. Move on.

It was hard to explain, this strange hollowness in his chest. He supposed it came from the dark knowledge that he would never move on from Lily – not from that almost sacred time together in their youth.

He accepted that and he had always assumed he’d simply carry a torch for her until they both matured and she finally came to him. Until she saw the truth about James Git Potter.  Then they would finally be together in the way he’d always dreamed. And he supposed he was paranoid that if Lily caught wind that he was carrying about with that Hermione Lockheart, the chances of that happening were slipping through his fingers.

The other unsettling thought that was starting to bubble within him was that he may not mind if things continued with Lockheart. He enjoyed her company, he enjoyed her kisses and he truly enjoyed her passion. There was something about her different from the other girls – was it the way she spoke? Carried herself? She seemed as if she had seen a lot despite her age. Something that Severus was drawn to – something he could understand.

She’s a temporary student. She may be leaving at any moment. Why fall for another girl who could simply walk out?

 “Do you often play this?” Draco asked conversationally motioning to the game board and distracting Severus from his clouded thoughts.

“I do,” Severus nodded adroitly. “I find it good to keep in practice.”

Draco raised an eyebrow at this and Severus continued.

“Chess is a keen example of strategizing,” the boy said as if the blonde was an idiot. “Something that Slytherins’s at large should be well-versed in.”

“True,” Draco nodded before offering a small thin-lipped smile. “However I believe there’s a larger object that not all are quick to acknowledge.”

“Oh?”

“I find with wizards chess there is a large amount of brutal deception involved in fact,” Draco offered. “You want your opponent to think they have the upper hand, lulling them into a false sense of confidence.”

Too true, Snape thought idly, watching as the boy’s pale finger came to slide his king over one spot to the left. The king made a mighty hop one spot to the left, his small gold crown glinting.  There was a sudden murmur around the common room, but the boys ignored it.

“War is based on deception,” Severus ceded silkily, his gaze on the board before him. “And wizarding Chess is much like that. Knights, horses, queens and kings all waiting to be taken down, engaged in battle and-”

The murmuring that had begun in earnest around the common room was suddenly capitulating into a full on buzz, drawing Severus’ attention over his shoulder at the source.

Hermione walked into the common room, looking rather diffidently around at the sea of faces. Tonight was a busy evening – something she hadn’t been counting on. She winced, clutching her notebook tighter to her chest. Her hand was going to her robes and Severus assumed she had the supplies there, ready for tonight. She looked as if she were going to retreat before Hermione’s gaze landed squarely on him.

“Yes and when it comes to war and the king, we all know he’s much less powerful without his queen,” Draco murmured as Severus turned quickly, his gaze suddenly fixated on the board as if it were the most interesting thing in the entire world.  He made a sloppy move, his heart hammering in his chest as Draco contained a large smirk.

“You have to lie in wait,” Draco continued, enjoying the boy’s distraction and moving his knight quickly atop Severus’ queen. “Waiting for the perfect moment to strike.”

But Severus’ gaze and attention was no longer on the game which he was about to lose – in fact he was glancing over his shoulder once more at the bushy-haired girl who looked as if she were about to retreat. Had she received his note from the house-elf? Did he dare chance an inquiry in front of all these students? No, best not.  

Before he could decide on which course to take, Hermione was rapidly being approached by the pretty and popular Slytherin girls who normally resided before the hearth, gossiping. Miss Butler leading the gang with her beautiful eyes focused intently on the girl before her.

“Hello Lockheart, I don’t think we’ve properly met yet. I’m Rebecca Butler.”

She offered her dainty, perfectly manicured hand at this and Hermione paused only a scant moment before weakly shaking it. Her initial reaction had been to scowl at the girl that had captured Severus’ attentions. But she couldn’t do that – she needed to remain stoic.

Besides what did she care if Severus pursued another girl? If anything that was for the best – no messing about with changes in the future. He would fancy a girl in his own year and his life would continue on as if she’d never been in it. Yes, Hermione decided, this is what needed to happen.  She gave the pretty girl a wan smile.  Rebecca inclined her head slightly towards the sofa.

“Come sit with us,” she said in a voice that was syrupy sweet. The two girls behind her nodded emphatically, suddenly looking to Hermione as if she weren’t utter trash. Hermione glanced over to see that Hestia wasn’t in the common room – the only people she knew here were Severus, Malfoy and a snoring Mulciber under the far windows and they didn’t seem to care that she’d come into the room.  However she didn’t know what these girls were up to and that made her anxious.

“I should really leave-“

“C’mon,” the brunette said gaily, taking Hermione by the forearm and dragging her over to the chaise. The girls quickly surrounded her on all sides of the chaise, looking to her as if she were a new member of their pack. She felt they were inspecting her, all tilting their heads slightly to the right before the blonde spoke.

“Is it true you kissed James?”

“Excuse me?”

“Agatha!” Rebecca admonished the blonde, looking at her angrily before looking back to Hermione. “Sorry Hermione, Agatha is a bit of a blabbermouth.”

Hermione felt her eyes draw to her folded hands on her laps by way of response. At this the girls broke out into shrill giggles, her lack of response seeming like an affirmation. Hermione felt trapped stuck between them on the furniture, wishing she could be led away without causing a fuss. 

Severus felt his teeth clenching at this as he overheard this. James fucking Potter. Would he never stop pursing the women Snape had already laid claim to? Hermione Lockheart was his! Without him she would have died in the Great Lake. She would have never gotten the eggs or the unicorn blood.  How stupid of him to think she was any different than the dizzy cows here at Hogwarts.

Draco could see as Severus’ eyes went steely, blinking rapidly before standing stiffly and making his way to the dormitory. Hermione didn’t witness this, but she did feel the need to remedy the misinformation happening around her.  

“I didn’t kiss James,” Hermione confessed, clenching her jaw. “He kissed me. And I pushed him off.”

“And Evans caught you?” Agatha probed eagerly, her dark eyes glittering. Hermione gave a small nod at this as Draco listened closely nearby – his interest piqued.  

“Lily Evans is one of the most stuck-up girls in our year,” the dark haired girl on the other side of the sofa said. “It’s about time someone took her off her high horse.  And for it to come from a Slytherin?  One of our own? Even better.”

“We thought you were soft,” Rebecca offered in a prim tone. “When you first got here we thought it was a mistake you were sorted into Slytherin, but now I see it. You were winning her favor, drawing her in just so you could stick it to her.”

“Brilliant,” the raven-haired girl from Hermione’s right said in reverent tones.

“I bet she never saw it coming,” Agatha intoned.

“I didn’t do anything to take Lily Evans down,” Hermione bit back, squirming away from them and standing angrily. “I was really friends with her. And what happened with James Potter was a huge mistake. One that I didn’t encourage or welcome!”

With that she’d turned on her heel angrily rushing from the dormitory. She could hear the angry whispers of the girls from behind her, but she didn’t care anymore. She didn’t care what a group of callous teenage girls thought about her. She’d seen and fought worse.

 It was an hour until curfew was over and she had to think of a plan.  She had to think of a way to get Lily and James together. If they didn’t, there was a large chance that Harry wouldn’t exist in the future and then their entire world would be finished. She needed to find a way to bring the future Mr. and Mrs. Potter together.

But how?

She spotted some benches by a large window and sat down heavily, looking through her notebook filled with hurried scribbles about potions.  The potion that would be of no use if they returned to a future without Harry! She was there a few moments, tapping her hand against her chin absently before coming to a solution that didn’t sit well with her, but seemed to be her only option.  Her nose wrinkled up in thought. Some Gryffindor's passed her and frowned deeply, whispering about her as she frowned.   She felt bad for Lily; the poor girl was really enamored with James. And as for James - she knew he was only acting this way towards her because he didn't believe Lily reciprocated his feelings – she’d turned him down so many times.

Alright, I tell James I'll go to the dance with him. Then I'll get Harry to take Lily to the masquerade. I'll get Lily and James alone together somehow and I’ll get them to admit how they feel about one another. Then everything will be righted -  they'll fall in love and the rest is history. She smiled inwardly, knowing that this plan had to work.

She beamed as she gathered her books, wondering where she'd be able to find James when he appeared down the corridor,  looking as if he'd just come out from the Quidditch field. She took a deep breath and forced a smile on her face as he approached her, his head down sheepishly.

“Hello James. Have a good practice?”

James glanced over at Hermione sharply, not expecting her to be this cheerful. She had been so angry at him last night, aggressively throwing him off of her that he’d almost expected to be hexed. But now she was sitting there looking quite pleased to see him and he felt an easy grin cross his features.

"Hello Hermione," he said gently, looking to her through his thin glasses. “I thought you were rather mad at me after. . . “

He trailed off and Hermione tried not to grimace at the knowledge that this was her best friend's father that she was going to have to lead on. Instead she forced a bright smile on her face.

"Actually," Hermione said shakily, forcing herself not to look disgusted as she spoke. "I was-  I was thinking that I'd like to go to the Slug Club masquerade with you."

"You would?" James said hopefully, his smile brightening.  This was turning into quite the day for him!  First he’d done a mighty fine job in practice tonight and now the cute new girl was going with him to the dance!

"Yes, if the offer is still valid,” Hermione said with another forced grin. "It was awfully rude of me yesterday. It was just unexpected."

"Oh," James said with a smile, "Brilliant. I'll pick you up at seven then on Saturday?”

"Sure," Hermione said nodding, relieved as she moved to stand and make her way to the Room of Requirement. It was almost ten and she had no interest in being late.

She viewed as James leaned over, misinterpreting her stance and preparing to kiss her once more as she leaned away from him, trying not to look completely disgusted.

"Uh...let's save that for the dance," she offered weakly, putting her finger to his lips to stop him. He smirked widely, nodding and walking away from her with a bounce in his steps.  She watched him leave and tried to hold in a groan.

"Merlin’s pants,” Hermione muttered under her breath as she gripped her notebook in her hands. She honestly couldn't see what Lily liked so much about James. He was really quite annoying – strutting around, arrogant even.

She began walking down the hall to the common room, her mind wandering as she passed several students. She was a bit perplexed a how she was going to get Lily and James alone together against their will at the dance. What if they screamed at each other? What if she couldn’t convince Lily to go with Harry? What then?  No, she would attend. She had to -  she would never want to would ‘ol Sluggy as she called him.

She was deep in thought of how to devise a more thorough plan when she felt her arm being grasped roughly. She felt herself being dragged and before she could even scream out in panic she'd been tossed into the nearby lavatory with the door slamming harshly behind her.  The lavatory was empty as far as she could tell, and for a horrible moment she was petrified at the fact that it was Mulciber or Avery grasping her tightly. She'd never make it out alive if that were the case.

Her mouth was covered by a lean hand from the figure behind her. She writhed against it until she felt familiar and soft lips at her earlobe making her shiver. She leaned against the young man behind her, her eyes falling shut as her heartbeat slowed.

"Don't scream,” Severus murmured silkily, his hand lowering from her lips and sliding down her throat gently. Her heart was slowing its pounding in her ears as he placed a locking and silencing charm on the door of the lavatory. Hermione turned slightly, enough for Snape to gaze down at her with a smile. She leaned against the cold wall of the lavatory, thankful that it was rather clean.

"I take it you got my note,” he said softly. Hermione nodded, looking to him in earnest. Her pulsating neck entranced him; he saw the ticking in the hollow of her throat where her heartbeat hammered below. Did he truly frighten her? Or was she excited? The tension crackled between them, Hermione found herself fixated with Snape's lips as he stared at her. A blush made its way up her neck as she remembered their last encounter.

"Aren’t you going to thank me, Hermione?" he suddenly implored, guiding her hands to the wall at her sides. Her palms were flat against the cool stone and he was holding them in place as he pinned her to it with his hip. “It wasn’t easy after all, doing these favors for you.”

She was shaking, but from fear or from want he couldn't tell, nor did he really care. 

"Thank you," She whispered and shivered as the tip of Snape's forefinger found its way to her bottom lip. He began tracing the outline of it in mild interest. He watched her with his head tilted, his dark eyes holding her own.

"Is that the best you can do?" he teased lightly, his hand sliding over her clothed breasts as her nipples pebbled instantly under his warm palm. She wondered idly if he was hypnotizing her with his voice and caress. This thought disturbed and aroused her, but she forced herself to remain in control of her body.

"Yes," she finally uttered, knowing it was a lie. She could do better – she wanted to do better. But she couldn’t.

“I don’t believe you.”

She forced her eyes open to see Severus looking to her blouse with a hungry gaze. Achingly he moved to the top button, slowly undoing it as he smirked at her response. She was transfixed with his lean fingers, she wanted to tell him to stop but found it impossible. Slowly, one by one her blouse buttons were undone, leaving him staring pointedly at her creamy breasts encased in her bra. His teenage hormones drummed within him all over as he looked to her swelling breasts, lightly licking his bottom lips as he descended.

She turned her head to stop his gaze, her eyes squeezing shut as his lips lowered to her neck, gently nibbling and sucking at it. If only she could look away from him – perhaps she could – Oh no. Any thought that simply closing her eyes would help her was quickly and deferentially non-assuaged. If anything closing her eyes just opened her entire body up to sense she that had been dimmed. The feel of his petal soft lips against her bare skin. The way his tongue danced along her collarbone. She felt her knees buckle and felt herself sliding down the wall slowly.

This is so wrong. I need to stop.

Severus pulled her up, pinning her body against the wall with his own as he continued his downward exploration. Sufficiently pleased with the trail of love bites he'd started on her neck, he slowly moved down to her collar, teasing it with the tip of his tongue as she moaned above him.

Suddenly he stopped, knowing she was in a state of lust and care. He looked down to her, holding her face in his hands and placing a small kiss upon her lips before pulling back. His eyes had suddenly turned stoic, as if a great glass wall now separated them.

“We should get to work,” Severus said in a silken purr against her mouth. “We only have an hour.”

With that he pulled back, indicating that she should follow him into the hall. With that she quickly began doing her buttons. Hermione stared after him in shock at the way he could switch so quickly from one mode to the other. She was still heavy-lidded and lust drenched and he looked as if he’d just had a brisk walk through the corridor.

She followed him outside the lavatory, grateful that despite his changeable nature that he’d secured time to brew with no other distractions.  The corridor was empty and even if they were caught, they had the notes from Slughorn.

They arrived at the Room of Requirement and they both walked back and forth three times before entering the room and greeted with a small, mini potions lab.

She quickly retrieved the items from her pocket and placed them on one of the tables. The unicorn blood, moonseed powder, lolligo eggs and more. She couldn’t quite believe that this was actually going to work and that she had Severus Snape to thank for it! Already he was hard at work, raising the cauldron and waving his wand to create the fire below.

“We need the recipe to work from,” he offered Hermione with a sardonic eyebrow raise. Hermione nodded, quickly pulling the rumpled sheet from her pocket and placing it between them. She had copied everything perfectly from the book – not wanting the book to be seen for Severus. He may have had an inkling about what she wanted to brew for, but she didn’t need him knowing everything.  There would be too many questions that way.

“We’ll begin with the eggs,” Snape said, referencing the recipe in front of him with squinted eyes. “They take the longest to brew.”

Hermione nodded, gripping the knives that were in the center of the table. The room had thought of everything – beakers, vials, cutting boards, two rubbish bins, a sink, several cauldrons and more. Hermione gripped one of the eggs in her hand, wincing at the clammy and sticky feeling of it on her bare skin. Severus gripped his with ease, not even seeming to notice the disgusting texture.

They worked together in silence, cutting the lolligo eggs lengthwise on the long table between them. Snape watched her, gently chiding her if one of the slices was too long. She watched him dispose of several of her useless cuttings into the bin – thankful he’d grabbed two eggs just in case.

“Next is the moonseed powder,” Hermione observed as she glanced at the paper. She handed the packet to Severus, surprised when he lifted it to his large nose and inhaled gently. He looked displeased and walked over to the other table where the cauldron rested.

He bent down to retrieve a few beakers and dipped a small amount of liquid into the bottom. Before Hermione could question him he’d tipped the packet of moonseed powder and tapped his long forefinger, urging several clumps to fall into the beaker. When he raised the heat on it, the color turned to a muddy brown color and Hermione noticed he looked displeased.

“What’s that mean?” Hermione offered, nodding towards the dark brown beaker. Snape turned down the heat and shook his head in disappointment.

“I was testing if this moonseed powder was fresh,” Severus replied distractedly. “As I suspected, it seems that it’s not. We’ll have to get more before Thursday, when we need to add it.”

“Where?”

“Leave it to me,” he replied. Hermione nodded, going back to chopping before risking a glance over at the young man doing the same across from her. She noticed his dark hair falling into his face, shielding him. It was like armor that hair – keeping everything out. 

“Thank you for all your help,” Hermione offered, ducking her head embarrassedly as she recalled his demand of thanks from earlier. “I really couldn’t have done any of this without you.”

Severus said nothing, his lips suddenly thinning as she spoke. How had her kindness angered him?  She huffed a bit, her distraction clear as she sliced one of the milky eggs improperly. She could tell immediately that it was too wide and she prayed the boy across from her hadn’t seen – but of course he had.

“You’re much too sloppy,” Severus snapped, grabbing the rest of her egg and bringing it to his side of the table.

“I’m not sloppy,” Hermione defended weakly, knowing it was a lie.

“Perhaps you’re too distracted then,” Snape offered, the word laced with double meaning. He finished slicing the rest of the egg perfectly before gathering several slices into his hand and gently adding them to the mixture bubbling on the other table.  Hermione watched all of this quietly, not wanting to risk a temper tantrum from the tall young man.

"Did you kiss James Potter?” he suddenly asked hoarsely, wondering why it was so hard to ask her. He wondered if it was because he didn’t really want to know the answer. He hadn’t stayed around in the dormitory long enough to hear her response earlier.

"He kissed me," she stuttered in surprise. She suppose she shouldn’t have been surprised. News travelled fast in Hogwarts and Bad news travelled twice as quick. He jerked his head up swiftly, his dark eyes growing cloudy as he looked to her flushed face.

"Why?" he asked lowly, his frame suddenly stiffening.  “Why would James Potter kiss you?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione replied honestly. “Boredom?”

“Lies.”

“I thought it was maybe to make Lily jealous,” Hermione finally offered awkwardly. She hadn’t been sure of it, but it was as good a guess as any. Snape winced at this, turning his back on her and facing the flickering project before them.

“I suppose he’s taking you to the masquerade?” his voice was quiet, soft even.

“He is,” Hermione replied trying not to tremble. Why was he suddenly so angry with her? Hadn’t he already asked out the beautiful Slytherin girl only yesterday?

 She saw he was stiff, and knew he was stewing about in anger. It sort of reminded her of Ron in fourth year, getting mad because he hadn't been fast enough to ask her to the dance.  It was rather ridiculous.  She watched as Snape put a statis charm on their project, realizing that he was protecting the project until they could return tomorrow evening.
 
"Tell him no," came the sulking tone from Snape. Hermione stared at him a moment, realizing that the boy was jealous! He was actually jealous that James was taking her to the masquerade! It shouldn’t have pleased her, but it did. She felt her heart making a quick staccato against her ribcage.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” Snape said, turning to face her then. He was gritting his teeth together and he looked furious. Hermione actually took a step back at this sight in sudden anxiety.

"I can't," Hermione said shakily, backing away from him slowly. Could she make it out of the room before he gripped her? Would he upset the brew they’d been working on almost an hour? Would he still help her? So many questions ran through her mind and she tried to school her features. However these questions were laced with something else – an indignation at the situation.

“Why does it matter? You’ll have your hands full with Rebecca Butler that evening,” she said with a jealous spite she hadn’t known she possessed. “What does it matter if I go to the masquerade with James Potter?”

Rapidly he strode over to her, his face unmoving.  Hermione panicked at this before he gripped her upper arms in his grasp, moving her against the wall and pinning her there with the rest of his lean body before burrowing himself in her neck as she yelped.

She tried in vain to push him from her but he was too rough, too angry, too aroused. He didn't listen, his lips sucking at her sensitive neck as his knee came in between her thighs, parting them. She tried to wrench from him but found him all too powerful and she found that as much as she were fighting, she was also tilting her head back, welcoming his mouth and groaning slightly at the knowledge that what she was doing was wrong.  Slowly his lips made their descent upwards, moving to her jaw, her cheek.

"Because you're mine," he murmured against her cheek as his face was lifted, kissing her temple softly as she whimpered against his rough frame. He felt her trying to break free weakly.  

"I'm not anybody's," she said breathlessly as Snape kissed the corner of her mouth repeatedly. She attempted to wrestle from him in this state, a bit worried that he wasn’t as in control of himself, but simultaneously enchanted at his touch. Everywhere his mouth had been left tingles that shot through her entire body.  She'd too easily forgotten the strength and dark power of a Death Eater, especially one in his prime.

His knee moved from between her parted thighs and hips ground roughly against her own; her body pressed to the hard stone behind her had no choice but to nestle against his throbbing member through his clothing. She moaned as he thrust against her most sensitive and private area, the friction delicious between their layers of clothing.

"Oh yes you are," he said darkly as Hermione finally succumbed to him, realizing she just wanted to kiss him, to feel him. Her mouth sought his and she began to undo the buttons of her blouse. He kissed her back eagerly, pulling her opened blouse to the crook of her arm. His lean fingers found the straps of her bra, lowering them over her shoulders as he tilted back and gazed at their descent.

Rapidly they went down, exposing her creamy breasts to the chill in the air. Her nipples crinkled immediately – the chill and Snape’s rapt gaze causing her entire body to tighten in anticipation. She watched as Snape’s hand slowly came to caress one, his fingertips sliding over one of the pea-sized nubs. He felt his breathing hitch as Hermione whimpered at his touch, feeling more power in this moment than he ever had at the side of Voldemort. This young witch desired him - that much was clear. She leaned her swelling breast more fully into his grip, her eyes shuttering closed. 

He began kneading it slowly, rejoicing silently as the girl sighed in bliss at the feeling. He wanted more of this – more of the girl’s shuddering sighs. He bent his head forward and his tongue found her other nipple, aching for his mouth now.  She all but thrust it into his mouth. He teased it a bit, licking and smiling inwardly as she arched against him. He didn’t want to wait any longer and he quickly engulfed her nipple into his hot mouth.

He felt as Hermione's fingers found their way into his dark hair, winding in it erotically as she moaned gutterally against him. He moved quickly, sucking at each one as Hermione shuddered. She could feel a curl of pleasure coiling in her stomach and she knew she was sopping wet. She wondered if he could tell. But before she could pursue this thought she suddenly felt her eyes jolt open.

What am I doing?

"We have to stop," she finally uttered breathlessly, disentangling herself from Severus’ hair and gently pushing him back. He gazed down at her with lust-filled eyes and a damp mouth. The sight was far too erotic for Hermione to focus on and so she closed her eyes, hurriedly pulling the straps of her bra up.  Severus watched her, calculating the next moment he would strike with precision. She pulled back her blouse, doing the buttons up for the second time that night before looking back to him.

"Tell me why you're going with Potter," Snape said gently, his body still against hers. She felt so sweet and soft against him, nothing like the whores and unwilling women he'd come across during the raids. She liked him. She’d moaned and desired him tonight!

"I have to," she said gently, her dark eyes looking to him as he looked to her. She could tell he was angry, perhaps even hurt at her actions, and this truly pained her.

"Why?"

"I can't tell you why."

Snape growled loudly, smashing his fist against the stone wall a few feet from her head as she looked to him in worry. He was more than furious to know that Hermione – his Hermione was going to be gallivanting off with James Potter of all people. But instead of being fearful she was shot through with a wash of injustice.

“Why are you going with Butler?”

Severus paused at this, knowing the answer wasn’t one she was going to want to hear.

“I need to.”

“Why?”

He fell silent, knowing that he couldn’t admit to her that it had been Lucius suggestion. Proof that he hadn’t been falling for Lockheart. To do so would leave him exposed, embarrassed and giving far too much away to a girl he still didn’t know that much about.

“You see?” Hermione said victoriously. “We’re not so different.”

Severus narrowed his eyes at that, suddenly irritated that the little chit thought she was so clever. How clever would she be with a potion she couldn’t finish brewing? Besides, his act was one of self preservation! He couldn’t say the same for Lockheart attending a party with Potter.

"Fine," he spat out angrily, preparing to stalk off when her small voice called out to him urgently and he found he couldn't quite go on.

"No, Severus," she said breathlessly, grasping onto his arm as he turned from her. He felt his body thrumming and wanted nothing more than to capture her against him. "Please don't go like this."

"Why shouldn't I?" the headstrong teenager asked, looking to Hermione with obvious anger in his dark eyes. Hermione saw the older Severus in those eyes, and it frightened her. It seemed almost strange to hear Severus' voice, so deep and thundering even when quiet, coming from his younger frame. A smooth face, full lips and eyes that read and calculated everything. A young man that she was desperately falling for, and wanting nothing more than to tell the truth to.

"Because I want to tell you everything," Hermione said on the verge of tears, her honesty overtaking her.  She wanted to tell him everything! She wanted to change the future so that he would live. But she couldn’t.

"But I can't tell you. It'd ruin too much. I know you don’t know me, but I need you to trust me. All you need to know is that I'm not from Longbottom Academy."

"No?" Severus asked in surprise. "Where are you from then?"

"I can’t say,” Hermione answered, not able to tell him the whole truth. He was giving her a quizzical look as if she was mad, talking in riddles and such.

"That's rather ambiguous."

"I know," Hermione hesitated, trying to find the right words. "All I can tell you is that going to the dance with James will eventually save some lives. It’s something I need to do, not something I want to do."

Severus was silent the whole time, watching Hermione's sorrowful face as she retold her tale. He felt her anguish as she spoke, but couldn't understand her cryptic speech.

"Will it?"

"I know it doesn't make much sense," Hermione said in a solemn voice, still holding onto his arm tightly, feeling that he was tensed and ready to spring off. "But please trust me."

Snape didn't answer at first, he was completely muddled up. Part of him wanted to scream at her for this choice of action and another part wanted to trust her. To believe her. To hold her in his arms and not let go. But the furious side flickered within him, and he felt his blood jump.

"Just remember," Snape hissed, "every time he touches you that night, you'll know its betrayal against me. You're mine Hermione Lockheart, whether you like it or not."

And with that small speech he gathered Hermione tightly to him in a rough embrace, placing a rough and demanding kiss on her lips. She responded hungrily, her hands against his chest as he danced his tongue along the seam of her lips before pulling away.

"Goodnight," he stated simply, watching as Hermione nodded slowly. He nodded, tracing his fingertip along her jaw once more before opening the door and walking out, leaving Hermione breathless and very confused.  

Chapter Text



"Alright," Harry agreed as he and Hermione walked around the Great Lake the next day after classes. “So you bring my dad so he can meet my mum at the masquerade and we get them alone. I can work on that part, don’t worry.”

Hermione had managed to drag Harry away from James and the rest of the Marauders for a few hours this afternoon, but it had been more than enough time to share in her idea for getting his parents back together.  He had agreed to the plan readily, for he too had heard his father mooning over Hermione in the common room last night, bragging about taking her to the dance. Harry had been beyond repulsed at this but having to school his features as his father talked about snogging his best friend.

He'd tried to talk James out of it, had tried in complete earnest  to try and turn him off of Hermione. He'd even tried stalking Lily through the corridors before getting her alone and insisting that James was mad for her. But she hadn’t wanted to hear it – turning from him and resolutely ignoring him. But now as they walked in the brisk weather, pulling their robes around them Harry looked almost relieved as they discussed the plan futher.

"So who are we going to get to take her?" Harry asked in earnest, eager to know the rest of the plan Hermione had presented. She gave a nervous look in his direction.

“Hermione?”

As he studied it a moment he saw worry intermingled with moderate horror and the reality came upon him in an instant.

"Oh no," Harry said, making a face and trying to shake his head even more than he was at the current moment. "NEVER! Are you mad? I’m not going to take my ruddy mother as a date to the Slug Club party!"

“Exactly right,” Hermione insisted with her hands on her hips. “You’re not! You need to convince her to ask you. You’re not part of the Slug Club – you need to get her to ask you.”

“Easy for you to say! You don’t have to snog your MUM!”

A few heads turned to look at them as Hermione and Harry ducked their heads in embarrassment, walking briskly away from the group. This was turning out to be a harder thing to seal than Hermione expected.

"It's nothing so horrible," Hermione insisted, almost glaring at Harry as he looked to her in disgust. "You don't have to kiss her. Just escort her there! We'll get she and James together and fate will come into play.”

"Isn't there someone else?"

"Who?" Hermione asked irritably, "Almost every other boy is taken."

"But Sunny already asked-“

“Then you’ll have to tell her you can’t go with her! We can’t risk Lily with someone else - someone she might actually form feelings for. You’re the safest bet!” Hermione insisted in a furious whisper. “And that’s the end of it, Harry. Because this is really not something we have time for. Now man up and ask your mum if you can escort her to the party!”

Harry made a face, looking to Hermione with minimal loathing. He knew this was the right thing, he knew he'd buggered up History. He himself had been feeling rather lightheaded these past few days, he'd been retiring early in hopes of rejuvenation, but inside he knew it was cause of this rift in history.

"She hates me though."

"She hates James," Hermione insisted, shaking her head at Harry's moronic attitude. "She'll be bowled over to have you take her to the dance. And I promise nothing untoward will happen – I’ll make sure of it."

Harry was quiet a moment, his face bearing that of complete uncertainty. He was beyond repulsed at the thought that something may happen that would scar him for life. What if his Mum got sloshed? What if she put the moves on him? The thought was unbearable.  But the thought of having his friends return world where Voldemort dominated appealed even less.

"You promise?" Harry finally asked with an awkward smile.

"I promise," Hermione said, raising her pinky to her friend as Harry took note and did the same, a dark and pensive look on his face.

"We can do this," Hermione chirped happily, a weight being lifted off her shoulders as their pinky fingers entwined, shaking up and down once.  “Here’s to the future.”

"To the future."

* * *

Hermione made her way back to the common room later that afternoon,  her head heavy with fatigue and running thoughts. It hadn't been easy staying away from James

She was about to walk into the castle when she viewed a figure rushing out past her. It was him. Not only had she been trying to avoid James, but she had also been trying to avoid Severus as well. His possessive nature was admittedly attractive to her – as much as she was loathe to admit it. However, he was also a massive distraction which was not welcomed. Take for instance this morning when he'd come gliding down the  corridor, brushing past her as the students headed for class.

She'd thought she was safe from his lusting until he had gripped  her upper arm and dragged her behind one of the founder statues. He’d caught her when the rest of the students had tapered off – no one noticed as he had her pinned against a nearby wall, kissing her roughly and breaking away. Without a word he’d left her, stalking off towards his class. It hurt her in a sense, feeling that he only saw her as a possession but knowing with that look in his eyes that it was something different. He yearned for her as she did he.

But now he looked distracted, wearing different robes and dark gloves that seemed too loose. She looked to him strangely as he lifted the hood of the cloak over his head, not seeing her. She wasn't sure, but she knew something was wrong with this picture.

"Where are you going?" she asked tentatively as he jumped at her voice. He'd been sure he was alone. He whirled around to see her pale face, worried for him. He knew he had to hurry; Lucius was waiting outside the shack for him.

"None of your business," he uttered resolutely, pushing her away with his tone. He couldn’t taint her by telling her the truth. He didn’t want her to see this side of him right now. He’d put it off as much as he could. “I’ll be to lab by our usual time.”

“I don’t care about the lab,” Hermione said and without thinking her hand gripped her arm, where the mudblood scar was hidden under layers of clothing. "You're going to a meeting aren’t you? A meeting for-“

"It’s none of your concern," Snape hissed quietly, searching her face and finding only pain and anguish. She was trying not to angrily cry, petrified that he was going to get himself killed.

Hermione, you've met him in the future, obviously he'll survive now. Remember the plan – you don’t need this distraction and neither does he. Let him go.

"You have to be careful," Hermione insisted nonetheless, moving closer to Snape and trying to see his face hidden in the shadows of the cloak. He knew she cared for him; no one else would have bothered questioning him or telling him to be safe and the realization made his chest tighten.

She suddenly hugged his tall frame tightly, her cheeks against the rough fabric of the cloak. He looked down to her in surprise and gently moved his sinewy arms around her smaller frame, hugging her tightly to him.

"I will be," he uttered before his mind had urged against it.

Before he could help himself he'd dipped forward, placing a gentle kiss upon her lips, feeling the tears she’d shed against his cheeks, before tearing from her and out the front door of Hogwarts.

Hermione replayed the memory a moment and then shook her head. She was certain he'd return to the school, and he would been safe. She knew that much. Severus Snape was powerful, even as a young man.

It was strange still trying to rectify in her mind Severus and Professor Snape. Most of the time they felt like separate entities, different men altogether.  It was quite easy to refer to him as Severus when he was younger. Severus. She'd never dream of merely calling him 'Snape', or 'Professor' whilst in the future she'd thought of calling him nothing but. How time did change a person.

She found her recollection of Professor Snape to be fuzzy now. And why shouldn't it be? He had just been her overbearing Professor. Nothing more and nothing less. He was just an adult that she had passing moments with. She had never felt extreme feelings for him, even after they recognized him a hero. She had simply been pleased that he’d been hailed as a hero after all he’d done. But she couldn’t say she saw him as anything other than another Hogwarts teacher. She really tried at that moment to remember his older looking face; pale, haggard on occasion. How bizarre to think that he'd been so charming and passionate and striking in his youth. When she got back - -

Hermione suddenly stopped, drawing over to a nearby bench and planting herself into it heavily.  The future – when she got back – he wouldn’t exist. The Severus Snape of the future had died in the war. Victim to Voldemort’s snake Nagini. A sudden tightness gripped Hermione’s heart, causing her breath to come out in short huffs. She bent over her knees, her hair falling forward as she tried to breathe.

 This was the only time in which she would ever see Severus Snape. After she went back, that was it – those eyes would be gone. Those hands, that voice – everything she was coming to love about him would be gone. Love, was it love? Whatever it was felt strong and deep and she didn’t want to leave it when she went. It was at that moment Hermione wasn't sure she wanted to leave and that disturbed her.

She was trying to process her emotions in total detail. Was it love? Was it lust? How could she tell? She'd never felt love before, nor had she felt lust this overpowering. She knew she wanted to be with Severus all the time...but would that fade in time? Would he grow to resent her?

"No," she reprimanded herself as she rounded up to the Great Hall, barely registered joyful squeals emitting from inside. "I'd completely bugger up history if I did that. I can't stay. I have to stop. This is so silly of me. I need to end this."

She turned into the hall to reveal a smirking Draco bereft of his usual comrades sitting with Lily, Hestia and a few of the other girls. A few girls glanced over to Hermione and began whispering. Before long the entire crowd was looking to Hermione malevolently; Lily’s green eyes flashing.  Draco turned and murmured something to Lily to which she giggled. He stood and walked over to Hermione, heading out into the hallway.

"Hello Lockheart,” he whispered. “Enjoy your supper.”

She didn't care to know why he'd been speaking with the Gryffindor girls, but at this moment she didn’t much care. She made her way to her seat at the table, her stomach growling. She hurriedly drank the water at her side, her eyes taking in the feast but her ears still on the group to her left. 

Lily was there, surrounded by all her friends that had glared at Hermione when she entered. All but Hestia, who had simply glanced away with a wounded look. Lily didn't look to Hermione, instead immersed in loud giggles that Hermione wasn’t privy to the sources of.  Lily suddenly made a face at Hermione, not hiding her disdain one bit. She looked back to her friends gathered around her as they squealed in excitement.

"I can't believe it!'

"He's so handsome!"

"I never would have thought!"

Hermione rounded her shoulders in sorrow at being excluded and prepared to finish her supper when she saw Hestia walking out of the hall, obviously finished dinner and socializing. Before she could pass, Hermione suddenly turned, capturing Hestia’s eyes with her own.

"Hey," Hermione whispered fiercely to the young girl who looked to her warily. "What's all the commotion about?"

"Haven't you heard?"

"No, I haven't." Hermione said irritably. "What's it all about?"

"Draco asked Lily to the dance."

* * *
Minerva sighed deeply, her eyes narrowed on the photograph in her hand. Harry Potter, boy who lived, was fading so quickly she could barely tell he’d even been included in the original photography.  Ron sat slumbering across from her in his chair, his chin against his chest.

Minerva stood, glancing behind her at the wall of portraits of former headmasters behind her. There was one spot empty – soon it would hold the portrait of Severus Snape. He’d only been the Headmaster a short time, but for all that he had sacrificed it was a small consolation.

Her eyes drew over to the slumbering Albus Dumbledore, his beard blowing a bit with every exhaling snore. Sometimes she would sit here just staring at him, not quite accepting that he was no longer here. It was the joy and pain of magic – he was gone, but a part of him remained. She wondered if that made it harder in the long run?

“Oh Albus I wish you were here,” Minerva said with a gentle frown. Tears burned at the corner of her eyes but she blinked them back.  As if prompted, Albus suddenly ceased his snoring, blinking rapidly and glancing at Minerva from under his heavy brows.

“Oh, hello Minerva.”

“Albus,” Minerva breathed, her hands coming to cover her mouth. It was the first time he’d spoken to her through the frame and she felt her tears – previously blinked back – falling readily down her cheeks.

“Oh none of that,” Albus chided gently.  “Besides I’m just here to remind you to look to the portrait of Armando Dippet.”

“The former headmaster, Dippet?” McGonagall said, her eyes drawing to the top of the wall of portraits before glancing back at Dumbledore. “Who told you that?”

“I. . . I don’t quite remember,” Dumbledore replied with a rapid blink, looking sleepy. “There’s always so much in my brain it sometimes feels like cotton. But all I know is that right now you need to speak to him.”

With that Albus slowly slipped back into a deep slumber – his brief sojourn having obviously taken a lot out of him. Why would he insist she speak to Armando all of a sudden unless. . .

Miss Granger!

Minerva nodded to herself, holding out her wand and transfiguring her nearby ruler into a ladder. She clamored atop it until she was eye-to-eye with the portrait of Armando Dippet, his bald head shining in the candlelight.

The man was rarely awake, and when he was he systematically ignored her because she was a woman and he didn’t approve of women being in the position of Headmistress.  He was rather feeble looking with a beard that was yellowed at the ends, making him look vaguely dirty.  He opened his eye a crack, taking in the form of Minerva and

“What do you want?” he said shrewish. “Shouldn’t you be teaching? Leave the big jobs to the men.”

“You have a message for me?” Minerva said tersely.

“I do not,” the portrait replied irritably, wanting to go back to sleep.  “I don’t carry messages to wom-“

“You do so you ridiculous thing!” Minerva shouted, waking Ron from his sleep and startling the rest of the portraits. Armando opened his eyes with a buldge.

“How dare-“

“Albus Dumbledore told me that I am to expect a message from you,” Minerva interrupted, holding up a hand to the man’s face to indicate she didn’t want to hear any foolishness. Armando looked puzzled a moment, his eyes darting to the side of Minerva deep in thought.

“Do you have a message for me or not?” Minerva said in exasperation.

“No.”

With that the horrible portrait turned from McGonagall and walked out of frame, leaving a velvet black curtain for her to stare at in anguish. 

“Professor?” Ron asked quietly from down below.

“Albus told me to look to this blasted man,” Minerva seethed, pointing at the now empty frame. “A fat lot that did.”

“Why?”

“I believe it was a message from our time travelers,” Minerva said with a frown. She ran a hand over her temple, rubbing there in gentle circular motions, something she did when she was anxious.

“Have you checked the back of the portrait?”

“Pardon?”

Ron walked over to the base of the ladder, looking up to his teacher in hope.

“Some of the students- they liked to write filthy things on the back of portraits. When they got cheeky, you know? They get all out of sorts because they can’t read it. Did you check the back?”

Minerva turned back and quickly retrieved the portrait from the wall before she hurriedly brought it with her down the ladder. She turned it over, her eyes scanning the large back of the ornate piece before she glanced up at Ron.

“Mister Weasley, you darling boy!”

“What does it say?”

“It’s a message,” Minerva explained excitedly, her eyes jumping as she floo’d for Slughorn to join her in the office.  “It’s a message with a potion and spell we need to complete and soon.”

Moments later Slughorn arrived looking sleepily to the two figures. Minerva anxiously shoved the frame and its written contents into his hands and he scanned it blearily, his eyes clearing as he continued.

“My word,” he said softly. “But-

“They will have one in their time,” Minerva said with a joyous tone. “Miss Granger is making one. We need to begin immediately. The sooner we’re finished, the sooner they may return!”

“Wait,” Ron asked, suddenly interjecting and feeling lost. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but what’s the bloody hell is going on?”

“Language,” Minerva said as a knee-jerk reaction.

“The potion makes almost a wormhole of sorts, through time,” Horace explained excitedly looking to the portrait frame. “The spell opens it on both sides, allowing us to retrieve them. I don’t know Miss Granger found all of this information back wherever she is, but I am elated she did.”

“Does it say what year she’s travelled to?” Ron inquired.

“Yes,” Slughorn said with a small squint. “According to this, its October of 1977.”

“Which means neither of us may go to retrieve them, Horace,” Minerva objected. “If we see our younger selves it would be disastrous.”

They shared a knowing look before McGonagall took a deep sigh and glanced over to where an oblivious Ron Weasley stood, his eyes still puffy from fatigue.


“Mister Weasley,” Minerva said simply, “you’ll need to retrieve them.”

Chapter Text

 

 

Draco walked down the hallway with a small spring in his step and an ugly smile plastered across his pale face. He wanted to whistle in victorious glee, for his plan was going so well. These past few weeks scheming with Lucius had been brilliant.

Hours of plotting over firewhiskey, chatting up the girls at the Hog’s Head Tavern, laughing over Potter and his ilk. And so many hours of conversation. Not just of the Dark Lord and his burgeoning army, but of moments of joy (for Draco is had been his first time on a broom) and excitement (For Malfoy it had been bedding Narcissa Black) of life and regrets.

“I regret not traveling more,” Lucius had confessed over a few drinks one evening in the tavern. They had been finishing the plot for the Masquerade before deciding they needed to celebrate their plan. The tavern was quite empty and it felt safe sitting with his father here in the candlelight and darkness.

“You can travel wherever you want,” Draco insisted with a blurry smile. “You’re a bloody wizard.”

“I meant with my family,” Lucius’ slurred, blinking sluggishly. “Before I got so busy my parents often summered exotic places and I put off joining them even though they asked. I felt compelled to be with Tom and the rest of the boys. I felt like I was changing the world for the better and we were the driving force. I thought summering in Italy with my parents while the rest of the men plotted and worked would be remarkably pitiful.”

“Yeah?” Draco said slowly, not quite convinced.

“Why do you think that I continue on fighting alongside him?” Lucius nodded.  “Its certainly not for the glamour, I assure you. I know there’s backlash and we have to scrounge around in the darkness. We have to hide like animals because we could be found out. But that’s only because people are sheep – afraid to admit that the work we’re doing means something. I am part of a revolution, Draco. Just as you are. The things we’re doing- the wars we’ll be fighting in? It’s all for the greater good.”

Draco listened to this impassioned speak a moment, a question he’d long since buried since the war coming to the forefront of his mind. “I know we’ve talked a lot about Tom and the tenants of his teaching, but what part of his mission particularly speaks to you?”

Lucius leaned back in his chair at the pub, his eyes scanning Draco a moment in thought. Draco never would have dared to question his father like this in the future – he

“Tom Riddle, Dark Lord, whatever you want to call him – he has a vision,”  Lucius finally said. “A vision of a future where a pureblood race of wizards will finally reach their greatest potential. No more sullying our lines with mudbloods and the lot. It’s them that’s caused squibs you know? It’s common knowledge that if even a drop of tainted blood gets into your lineage, your odds of producing a squib are monumental.”

“And what of your parents?” Draco inquired, realizing he had never heard anything about his grandparents his entire life.

“My parents understand the cause, but they don’t want to sully themselves with actually doing anything about furthering it,” Lucius grimaced into his tankard. “And now I feel I’ve grown so distant from them that I wouldn’t even know what to say to them. Best just keep them out of it.”

Draco swallowed thickly, noting the far-off hurt his father’s eyes had acquired. Lucius blinked rapidly before taking the glass and downing its contents, glancing over to the tall wizard behind the bar and insisting on another. The grumbling wizard sent one over without delay.

It was in those tender, unguarded moments with his father that Draco had moments of doubt. Moments when he wanted to shake his father by his expensively-robed shoulders and insist he run. Insist he rush from the side of Tom Riddle and move far, far away. But at the end of the day he knew that any delineation from the past’s events could mean Draco never existed.

But still, there were so many questions he had. So many things he wanted to ask the alive and powerful Lucius Malfoy. Things that he would never have been able to say to the foreboding and often cruel man he’d grown up to be. This Lucius was softer, more thoughtful. Even the affectation of his speech wasn’t quite there yet- he spoke without aristocratic airs, his voice less clipped.  And so he had asked the question he had been wondering these past few weeks.

“If you knew you’d fail,” Draco said quietly, his eyes on the glass before him. “If you knew there was a chance of losing, of being betrayed, of having the Light come out on top. What would you do differently?”

Lucius looked rather quizzically at Draco then, noting the boy looked positively green. Draco could feel his eyes growing glassy and he blinked the tears away, rising his tumbler in front of him, hoping that Lucius hadn’t noticed. Lucius cocked his head to the left, taking a sip of the drink before him and answering slowly.

“I’d want to kill all who betrayed me.”

***

The next evening Hermione paced around the makeshift potions lab in the Room of Requirement, her hands clasped behind her back tightly. She knew there was no reason to be anxious about working with Severus tonight, but that didn’t stop the traitorous thrumming of her heart.

Last night’s meeting had been quite uneventful – Severus had looked exhausted when he finally met her at ten o’clock. They’d worked in silence with the young man snapping at her to pay attention with the venom, that she was being sloppy in the cutting of the roots. She had been patient, putting up with it all until they’d finished. They’d he’d put the stasis charm over the cauldron and rushed off without a word.

Tonight she noted he was running behind and she felt her mouth tighten.

“He’s fine,” she mumbled, trying to distract herself with the item on the cutting board that she’d brought for the evening. She knew that they’d only needed to add drops of unicorn blood over the course of an hour, stirring often.   She pocketed the vial once more, not feeling safe with it sitting there in the open.

She brought out a book from her satchel then, decided that just staring at the potions supply would do nothing to distract her from thoughts of Severus. Instead, she pulled out a book on snakes and venom that she’d taken out of the library earlier that day and began to flip through the pages.

You’re playing with fire, her mind warned.  No good can come of this.

She knew it was true – she had gotten this book with the single aim of finding a spell that would help Severus survive Nagini’s bite. She needed to brew a potion that would cauterize the wound immediately. She flipped through the pages until she landed on basilisk, her eyes darting back and forth as she read.  

“Would it really be so bad?” Hermione wondered aloud, “if he were to survive?”

She looked back to the book, her mind full of philosophical ponderings. If she didn’t change anything else, would it be alright if she helped Snape survive the bite? Was it right to do such a thing? Her eyes scanned the materials needed – a beozar was the main ingredient in which the potion was built upon. Where would she find one at this late a date?

“What’s this now?” said a soft voice over her shoulder. “Another secret project?”

“Just some light reading while I waited ,” Hermione quickly shut the book, her face giving nothing away as she glanced at the boy over her shoulder. “I can’t help but notice you’re late.”

“Yes, well, Miss Butler wanted to discuss matching robes for Saturday,” Snape said with a sharp roll of his dark eyes, sitting in the stool across from her at the table and dropping his schoolbooks onto the table.

Hermione felt her entire body stiffen at the mention of his date, her cheeks turning an angry pink in irritation.  She knew that it had been stupid to feel anything for the boy, idiotic even to think that a few stolen kisses meant anything to him. She was more furious with herself however, that she cared at all about his romantic conquests. This was Professor Snape in the future – what had she been thinking? She should thank her lucky stars that he was interested in a girl of his year.

“I see,” she replied simply. “We’d best start then; we don’t want to run out of time.”

She saw a whisper of a smirk cross Severus’ face then, he raised a fingertip to his mouth in exaggerated thought.

“Are you jealous, Lockheart?”

“Of course not,” Hermione tossed her hair over her shoulder as if the thought hadn’t even passed her mind. “I suppose James and I need to discuss our couple costume as well.”

Severus glanced up at her, his gaze hardening in response to what she’d said in her frosty tone before he nodded. He grasped the cauldron and placed it over the heat before he moved back to the table. “You’ve brought the blood, I assume?”

“Of course,” Hermione said lightly, pulling the vial from her robes and placing it with a clink against the table. Snape nodded, gripping it in his lean fingertips before they both walked over to the now bubbling cauldron.

 Locating a stopper within the drawers of their enchanted potions lab, Snape quickly brought the shimmering blood up before standing over the cauldron. He leaned over slightly, his dark hair almost touching the surface.

“Bring over the spoon – the wooden one,” he said over his shoulder. “It needs to be wood, not the metal. The metal-“

“Would render it un-useable,” Hermione finished for him with a sigh before handing him over the large wooden spoon. “I know.”

Snape glanced at her sideways before taking the spoon and stirring gently.

They needed to stir like this for several minutes before moving to a rapid pace.  Hermione watched Severus looking into the mixture before he reduced the heat and produced his wand from his robes. With a small circle and then rewind motion of his wrist he spoke the incantation - “Mobillarbus Circumage” – and the ladle began to stir slowly.

“There,” he said in grim satisfaction. “Now we wait a few moments.”

“Fine,” Hermione replied, trying not to seem flippant but finding it increasingly hard to be in the same room with him. He made her feel such a flurry of contradictory emotions. First she wanted to throttle him for bringing up Miss Butler – then she wanted to thank him profusely for helping her with this potion.

She was about to add something more when she saw Snape slip the vial attempting to covertly slip the remaining unicorn blood into his robes.

“I’ll take the rest back,” Hermione said, noticing as the boy began to pocket the vial.  He ceased his movements, fixing her with a pointed stare.

“Excuse me?”

“I want the rest of the unicorn blood back,” Hermione said sullenly, unsure of why it mattered so much to her. “I’m the one who retrieved it, I should have the remainder.”

“Without my assistance you never would have had it at all,” Severus countered, his dark brows drawing downward.

“Yes, well, it was still me who got it,” Hermione demanded, holding her hand out like a spoiled child. “Give it here.”

Severus mumbled something under his breath, his jaw tightening.  Hermione tilted her head, not able to actually hear what he was saying. “Pardon?”

“I said I need it,” Severus replied.

“Why?”

 “I have my own potion to brew,” he said simply, his tone giving nothing away.

“But why would-“ Hermione started before her voice trailed off.

As if her experiences with Severus had been a giant puzzle thus far, it seemed the final piece were being placed. All her confusion around his motivations and his touch and his desires for her suddenly righted themselves and she felt breathless at the realization. Hermione felt her stomach dropping as she looked into the deadened gaze of Severus. It was suddenly so clear and she felt like an utter fool for not having seen it sooner.

“That’s the only reason you’ve been kind to me,” Hermione said slowly, her eyes growing wet. “It wasn’t to do what was right. It was so that I would help you to get unicorn blood for your potion. You knew you wouldn’t be able to get it. So you saw that I needed help with my potion and you thought if you helped me that I would feel compelled to do the same. It’s true isn’t it?”

Severus said nothing, choosing to stare at her from between a curtain of inky black hair. But she didn’t need to hear his response – it was all too apparent in the way he was jutting his chin out defiantly. He had been seen and his motives had been understood.

“I feel like such an idiot,“ Hermione said, blinking back humiliated tears. “When you saw me in the Library that day, when you saw that I needed unicorn blood myself you must have been elated. Your plan had just become so much easier.”

Still Severus said nothing, his dark eyes fixed on her face.

“And here I was thinking you wanted to help me, that we were becoming friends or. . . “ Hermione trailed off, no longer able to vocalize her own naivety to a young man who was staring harshly at her. It seemed her words were upsetting him and the twitch in his jaw began to jump animatedly.  

“And I’m supposed to think that your interest in me was anything but the same?” Severus sneered in reply. “That all of a sudden I went from being an annoying git you took pleasure in besting in classes to someone you want to kiss be a lakeside? I’m not a fool, Lockheart. This was a mutual taking and you’re just upset because I’ve finally come to collect.”

There was a sickening silence that fell between the two students then and Hermione felt the tears she’d been suppressing coming to the forefront at his words. His cruel and very cutting words. How stupid she had been to think that he’d cared for her! Her head fell forward onto her chest and the tears fell freely now, despite her humiliation.

Severus took all this in with eyes that widened at the sight. Why was the girl crying? Hadn’t this been what she wanted? She needed someone to use to further her cause, much as he had, and now when he told her so she cried?

These past few weeks had been so strange for Severus who had never been looked at the way Hermione Lockheart looked at him. He’d never had a girl kiss him like she had, or allow him to touch her eager body. No, not girls as brilliant and kind as this one. He had been suspicious all along, assuming that he was being played with.  In the back of his mind he had just assumed that this was her plan all along and he’d been happy to taste her lips and feel her body as a form of repayment. Was she embarrassed that she had been so transparent?  It wasn’t like her – this brave, know-it-all girl to suddenly crumble under such-

Oh no.

The realization that Hermione Lockheart may have actually held some true affection for him suddenly hit Severus like a thunderbolt. He found himself secured to the spot, his eyes widening as she brushed the tears angrily from her eyes. The staunch resistance that surrounded him like a shield suddenly ebbed away and he took a step towards her, his right hand drawing towards her.

“Hermione.”

“No,” Hermione said, raising a palm towards him, trying to make him still his steps towards her. “No, I don’t want to hear it. This is a mutual taking as you say, so then we’ll make a trade. Your services for the rest of the week and you can have the entirety of that vial.”

Snape said nothing, his eyes glittering as she spoke. He dropped his hands to his sides, listening to her patiently before answering.

“Deal.”

“And given that the only thing that remains to be done is ensure the mixture is stirred properly for the next half hour, I assume you’ll be fine if I leave for the evening and see you tomorrow?” Hermione jutted her chin defiantly,

“No,” Snape replied tersely. Hermione felt her heart jump at this and she arched a brow.

“There’s no need to meet until Friday evening,” he continued unfettered. “I can do everything myself until then. Friday evening I’ll need an extra set of hands to ensure the extracting process goes smoothly. Other than that I don’t require your assistance.”

“And the spell?”

“Will be ready in time for Saturday.”

“You’re sure?”

“Quite.”

 “Thank you,” Hermione nodded, her dark eyes surveying the tall stringy boy. She moved to the door of the Room of Requirement, her satchel hanging heavily on her shoulders. She opened the door and stopped at the doorway before turning back to see his back was to her. He was laboring over the potion now, his shoulders hunched in concentration.

“You only needed to ask me to get it for you,” Hermione said in a small voice, watching as his body stiffened as he heard. “I would have said yes.”

With that she closed the door behind her, her eyes filling with fresh tears that she swallowed as she made her way back to the Slytherin dormitory.

Chapter Text

 

Friday morning arrived sluggishly with Hermione already out of sorts. Since she had left Severus in the room of requirement earlier that week, she felt abysmal. She was having a hard time registering that he’d been using her- that the only reason he’d kissed her by the lake was to get something. But hadn’t he wanted to kiss her? Even a little bit? The way he’d held her – it hinted at something more than just a plot. Or was she really that naïve to think that it was something more?  

Hermione groaned, dragging herself to the loo to freshen up before pulling on her uniform and robes, piling her hair into a messy bun at the top of her head and marching out into the Slytherin dormitory. Thankfully it was near empty, save for Hestia looking out the window onto the great lake. Hermione took a steadying breath before walking over to her.

“Hello,” Hermione hedged gently, hoping that Hestia wouldn’t run off. The girl looked over her shoulder at Hermione, unable to keep the hurt out of her clear eyes.

“Hello, Hermione.”

“I’m really sorry for what I said,” Hermione said in a rush of emotion, her eyes filling with sorrowful tears. “I didn’t mean it. I was just upset. But I never should have spoken to you like that- it was impossibly rude of me. It’s just that I don’t fancy James at all and-”

“Then why are you going with him to the Slug Club event?” Hestia interrupted, looking to Hermione suspiciously.

“Do you promise not to say anything if I tell you?” Hermione’s dark eyes scanned Hestia’s open face and she saw the girl nod emphatically. “I was hoping to have Harry bring Lily and for me to bring James to the party and get them together somehow. At least that was my plan until bloody Draco asked Lily. Now I don’t know what to do.”

Hermione slumped into a nearby chair, looking discouraged as Hestia took the seat opposite her, looking thoughtful.

“You seem really upset,” Hestia offered.

“I am,” Hermione said, brushing the tears from her eyes angrily with the back of her hand. “You don’t understand how important it is for me that they get together – I mean, erm, if it weren’t for my appearance they likely would be together already! I feel so impossibly guilty.”

Hestia nodded, apparently pleased with this reason for Hermione’s agitation. She adopted a coquettish look, glancing up at Hermione shyly.

“Perhaps I could help,” Hestia said with a Cheshire cat grin.  “I think I could distract Draco at the dance.”

“I don’t know about that,” Hermione said with a sigh. “He’s a man on a mission I think.”

“Trust me,” Hestia said with a voice of silken promise. “I have certain. . . ways of distracting boys.”

Hermione glanced at her sweet friend in surprise. “But what about Sirius?”

“Only a deluded witch would think she has a real chance with Sirius Black,” Hestia said with a dramatic roll of her eyes. “The man is allergic to commitment. A few dances and kisses is enough for me.”

 “Oh Hestia,” Hermione exclaimed, throwing her arms around the giggling witch. She returned the hug gently and Hermione felt herself soften.

“Does this mean we’re friends again?” Hermione dared to ask.

“Of course,” Hestia replied with a large grin, pulling Hermione once more into a tight hug. “Now let’s go to breakfast. Plotting always makes me hungry.”

***

Hermione skipped down the hall towards the Library, her mind focused on the evening ahead of her. She was to meet Snape later in the Room of Requirement to finish the last of the potion and ensure he’d understood the spell. She felt so much better being mates with Hestia again- the girls had giggled over breakfast and as Hestia headed to class Hermione had snuck off to go to the library.  

Besides, in just over 24 hours she was going to be going home! Home to the time period in which she came from! Home to parents and friends and a world where she could use her real last name!

Home to a world without Severus.

Hermione stalled a moment in the corridor, her heart suddenly heavy. Despite what he’d done to her in this time – he was still the man who would become a double agent. Still the man who would sacrifice everything to save Lily Evan’s son. He would welcome death in pursuit of having good triumph over evil.

She had originally been going to the Library to hide out from the aforementioned double agent. She didn’t want to risk seeing him anymore than she had to this week. So far she’d hid in the washroom with moaning myrtle, beside the Great Lake behind a bush and now she was ducking into the Library. But now she entered the Library quickly, her eyes peeled for a specific volume.

Bad idea, Hermione.

 The book she was searching for was the one she had been reading earlier this week –  when she had been waiting for Severus, right before that horrid confrontation with the unicorn blood. The book about snakes and venom that she had thrust unceremoniously back onto the desk of Irma Pince in a fit of hurt and anger right after.

Now she scanned the section where she had found it before only to find the shelf bare of it. Nothing else came close to what she needed and she sighed in frustration. She rushed up to Irma Pince’s desk, watching as the woman’s wary gaze fell over her.

“Excuse me, but do you have A Serpent’s Kiss; venom and antidotes of the 19th century?”

Irma glanced over to her left at a sheet of names and books before looking back at her book, speaking to Hermione but not looking up.

“It’s been checked out,” Irma replied, licking a forefinger and turning the page in her book.

“How is that possible?” Hermione demanded, “I just returned it three days ago!”

“Must be popular,” Irma replied tersely. Hermione frowned deeply, knowing that this wasn’t the case! Odds are it was in the back, waiting to be re-shelved. She fixed Irma with her most saccharine smile in hopes of winning the woman’s favor.

“Is there a chance it’s in the back somewhere? Waiting to be re-shelved?”

Pince’s eyes suddenly narrowed on Hermione, much like they did in the future when Hermione asked about specific volumes.

“Are you suggesting that I don’t know my own library, Miss Lockheart?”

“No ma’am,” Hermione said, gathering her schoolbooks and rushing out the doors of the Library. She didn’t want to risk having Irma Pince give her detention – she didn’t have time for it! Besides, she realized that this was for the best. The plan she’d been about to pursue was a silly and dangerous one.

She was deep in thought when a flash of red hair appeared at her side, both girls lost in their own private reverie as they collided.

“Oh, excuse me,” Hermione said automatically when she bumped into the girl.  Lily turned her gaze on Hermione, offering a small “sorry” before realizing who it was she was speaking to.

“Oh,” Lily said flatly, her tone turning flinty. Hermione felt her frustration growing – she refused to leave this time period having Lily Evans spreading rumors that she was some kind of man-eating monster. The lies would end today! She stood her ground, raising her chin defiantly.

“Are you off to start some new rumors about me?,” Hermione said cooly. She knew she sounded petulant, but she couldn’t help it. Lily had hurt her feelings. Lily stopped her walking, coming to turn and face Hermione directly. She placed a hand on her hip, looking to Hermione with a dark look.

“I never said anything about you,” Lily insisted, looking quite offended.  

“Oh I’m sure you sitting and laughing at me with the other girls the other day was your way of being my friend?”

Lily seemed to mentally be trying to reference what Hermione was talking about. When she finally did - the morning that Hermione had been embarrassed by the girls laughing at her – Lily was indignant, her cheeks pinking angrily.

“I was talking about fancying Draco Parkinson!” Lily insisted, her eyes filling with angry tears. “The girls were laughing because they knew how I felt and then he asked if he could take me to the Slug Club Party!”

Hermione faltered a moment, looking to see if Lily was lying. The girl looked upset, wretched even and Hermione realized that Lily was telling the truth. The girl was blinking rapidly, her full lower lip was trembling. “Besides how does kissing James Potter make you a friend of mine?”

“I wasn’t kissing James!” Hermione insisted hotly, her cheeks red with the shame of the suggestion. “He kissed me! And he’s only doing that because he thinks he can’t have you!”

There was a large stretch of silence between them and the girls regarded one another stonily. Lily seemed to be contemplating what Hermione suggested, her eyes softening a moment. Then the bell rang to indicate the start of classes and the two were broken from their silent stand-off.

“I have to get to Ancient Runes,” Lily muttered, gathering her books tightly to her chest and marching away from a gaping Hermione.  Hermione watched the girl walk away from her down the busying hallway.  Someone in their rush to get to class bumped into Hermione’s hands, knocking her books out to the ground and Hermione bent to retrieve them.  When she stood and her eyes sought out Lily’s retreating frame she felt her stomach drop.

Hermione watched as Severus rounded the corner, his eyes coming to rest on the red-haired girl. He gave her a shy smile before saying something briefly to Lily. Lily replied politely, giving Snape a small smile of her own before disappearing into her classroom. Hermione watched as Snape looked after Lily, his eyes soft and full of warmth. She felt her own stomach sour, the realization quite obviously laid before her.

Of course Hermione would never be his – not when his heart would forever belong to Lily Evans.

Chapter Text

Harry took another turn around the perimeter of the great lake Friday morning, his eyes unfocused and his hair in disarray. He had been walking for hours, the air was crisp but he felt only warmth from the amber colored October sunrise.

He would enjoy his last night with his father and godfather and Lupin. Peter hadn’t been hanging around them as much – much to Harry’s delight. He’d been able to laugh with them, create inside jokes that he would replay forever. He swam in the great lake on a dare with them, he got Sirius to eat a flobberworm sandwich at lunch and he’d raced James around the Quidditch pitch in the black of night. He had made memories with them and for that he was endlessly thankful.

But he also saw the ugly side of his father. The side that Snape had alluded to his entire life but that he hadn’t believed until now. The cocky, swaggering braggart that Harry had never envisioned his saintly father could be.

Perhaps it was good, he had finally decided. Good that he had a realistic portrait of his father now – a man with many layers instead of a halo. Despite the harshness of this reality, Harry was glad for it. He was glad to have experienced it. And he was forever grateful to Hermione for keeping her wits about her.

His thoughts drifted to his bushy-haired friend then. Her serious countenance had increased as of late – her eyes focused and her body taught with anticipation as if she were expecting an attack from all sides.  He realized then that it was that same intensity that he often saw in Snape, and that observation alone worried him.

***

Draco rubbed his eyes with his fists in an almost infantile gesture. He was exhausted – he’d been up all night with Lucius at the Hog’s Head drinking fire whiskey and now he was paying for it. He realized that he only had a day and a half left before the masquerade. Before Hermione had told him that they would be returning home.

He glanced over to the sleeping boys in the dormitory – Snape was the only one already out of bed and gone. He was always like that – Draco wondered when he found the time to sleep between homework and his Death Eater duties – having to be in close quarters with Voldemort.

Draco felt a ripple of nausea go through his abdomen at the thought of being in Voldemort’s presence. He could still feel the icy grip of the man’s mind in his – the sight of those scarlet eyes slashing through him like prey. How he hated that creature.

He’d had his time with his father – it had been a saving grace in a time he thought he’d go mad. Seeing Lucius alive and well had been so overwhelming pleasant, despite the man’s superior and often cruel attitude. When he talked to his father in his unguarded moments however, Draco had seen the humane side of Lucius – the joking, confident man that Draco had always wanted to be.

When he thought back on how his father would end up in the future – broken and weak - it caused Draco so much frustration that he thought he would scream. Yet, he knew if he were to warn his father in this time, it would do no good. Lucius was far too enmeshed with the world of Voldemort and the Death Eaters. While Severus may have had two minds about the Dark Lord, Lucius would follow blindly until almost the bitter end.

Tears began to form in the corner of Draco’s silvery eyes and he blinked them back rapidly, swallowing thickly. He hoped none of the other chaps had seen him silently weeping – a glance to his left and right confirmed that he was still the only one awake.

He rose out of bed, staggering towards the window where the light of dawn was just breaking. He peered through the glass to see Potter wandering around the Great Lake, deep in his own thoughts. If they were anything like his, Draco mused, the boy would be walking for hours.

***

Hermione stepped into the Room of Requirement Friday night feeling sick to her stomach. Severus was already there, working hurriedly over a bubbling cauldron, his lank hair on either side like a greasy curtain. He didn’t even look up when he heard her enter, deciding to just speak to her over his shoulder in rumbling boredom.

“You’re late.”

“Yes,” Hermione said laconically. “I was held up.”

The truth was she had been standing outside the room of requirement for several minutes debating on how she would approach him. Should she be kind and effusive and pretend that nothing had happened in order to stay on his good side? No, he’d see right through it. Should she be withdrawn and taciturn? No, that would only enrage him. Should she just be neutral? Yes, that was what she had decided on.

“You need to stir this,” Severus said, motioning with his head to the ladle in his hand. Hermione nodded, realizing by the perspiration that dotted the boy’s brow that he’d been working for quite a bit longer than she suspected. “Constantly for twelve more minutes,” he added, setting a timer with his wand.  

“Alright,” Hermione said stiffly, taking the ladle from his hand. Their fingertips brushed and Hermione felt the jolt of electricity from him. She wanted the thrumming of her heart to stop – she was so painfully concerned he could hear.  He walked away from her, heading to the table with ingredients laid upon it.

Focus Hermione. Focus. The sooner this is done the sooner you can leave.

Severus regarded her from the other side of the room, pretending to be crushing nettles when in fact he was simply taking in her form. She was upset with him, that much was clear. His avoiding of her hadn’t cooled her ire. In fact she seemed just as frustrated as when she had marched out of here a few days prior.

He’d had a lot to think about in that time – mostly how he was going to kiss her again. He couldn’t stop thinking about her soft body and pliant lips.  And in those moments his mind would also drift to Lily – beautiful, kind Lily. Lily who would always be so dear to him but was so obviously enamored with Potter. It was bizarre really, these conflicting emotions.

He frowned deeply at this and Hermione caught it out the corner of her eye.

“I’m doing the best I can,” Hermione huffed from the cauldron, taking his frown as criticism. Snape broke from his thoughts and his long legs carried him over to where she stood, her hair frizzing from the vapors. He glanced into the bubbling mixture to see the potion turning the exact violet shade he’d been hoping for.

“You’re finished,” Snape said from behind her and noted with satisfaction as the girl stiffened. Hermione breathed heavily through her nose, determined not to let him see her squirm. She handed him the ladle, watching as he dipped it into the steaming potion a moment to test its viscosity.

“Looks good,” he muttered absently. “We’ll let it cool and then it’ll be ready to bottle.”

“I’ll need three phials,” Hermione reminded him.

“I’m aware,” Severus said with a look in her direction. “And what exactly are you hoping to do with it? Skip through the Slug Club party tomorrow? It’s sure to be dreadful.”

The spell that Hermione had Severus learn had nothing to do with time travel. In fact, when combined with the potion they’d brewed it would simply act as a Time Fly By creation. It would give the traveler the ability to skip through hours at a time within seconds.  She couldn’t risk him learning her true motivations – escaping!

“I don’t need your help with the spell part anymore,” Hermione said giving him a weak smile and trying to avoid his question. “It turns out I just needed the potion.”

Severus fixed her with a disbelieving stare. “Really.”

“Really,” Hermione said with a forced smile. “So you’re off the hook. Enjoy the party tomorrow!”

“The potion alone does nothing,” Snape observed critically, ignoring her well wishes. He watched her through hooded lids as Hermione moved to the table, picking up three phials with their corks.

“Oh I know,” Hermione said breezily, glancing everywhere but his face. “But I have everything else taken care of.”

“Meaning you found someone else to perform the spell,” Snape said flatly.

Yes, Dumbledore.

“What does it matter?” Hermione snapped back, suddenly exhausted with the tall boy in front of her. “You’ve got what you want and you don’t have to spend another second helping me. I thought you’d be jumping for joy.”

Snape said nothing as Hermione handed him the phials. He took them from her angrily, going over and filling them up to the top. When he’d corked all three he returned to where Hermione stood, her eyes on the floor. She took the warm phials from him, placing them gently into her schoolbag and giving him a resolute nod.

“Thank you for all your help,” Hermione said with a strength she didn’t truly possess. Snape said nothing, instead his arms were crossed and he was looking to her with an unreadable expression in his dark eyes. Was it hurt? Wounded? No. It was likely relief.  

I want to kiss him.

I want him to care for me like he does Lily.

I’m such a bint.

She turned back to the desk, trying to calm her erratic heartbeat when she felt his hands on her shoulders. He whirled her around and before she could register what was happening, his mouth was over her own. Instinctively she pushed from him, her arms trembling as his lips pressed hungrily against her own.

“Kiss me back,” Severus demanded against her mouth, upset that she was pushing from him.

“Are you mad?” Hermione demanded hotly, finally pushing him from her roughly. He stood before her with his lips reddened, his gaze lusty and his mouth curved into a playful smirk.  “What are you doing?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Severus said with a playful tone, gripping her around the middle tightly. His attitude was light and flirtatious. Hermione was completely flummoxed by this change of behavior.

“But you’re not interested in me so why are you doing this?” Hermione sputtered her eyes wide with confusion. “You got the unicorn blood like you wanted! Why are you still-”

Snape pulled her back to him, his hand on the back of her head and guiding her mouth to his. He wanted her so badly and she could feel it. Her own pulse was pounding all over as she came into contact with his lean body.

“It wasn’t just the blood, Hermione,” he interrupted, his mouth covering hers roughly. “I want you. I want this.”

He wants me. He wants me.

Hermione’s head sang and her heart followed suit. The words she’d been longing to hear from him were finally here and she wanted to believe them so badly. His eyes were closed lightly and his long hands were on either side of her jaw now, holding her in place as he placed reverent kiss after kiss on her welcoming mouth.

Without thinking she wrapped her arms around his neck and hungrily began to kiss him back. She parted her lips and let him travel and taste her. He groaned lowly in the back of his throat, gripping one of her clothed thighs and bringing it around his waist roughly.

He feels so good.

Their hips met roughly together and she could feel his warm and insistent cock through the layers of cloth between them.

He loves Lily. Not you.

 His hand travelled down from her jaw to her clavicle as these harsh words that she tried to push from her mind, tilting her neck as Snape began to kiss down her jaw, sucking lightly on the part of skin just below her ear. It felt like heaven and she wanted to surrender completely to it, but the ugly voice returned.

Just like James kissed you to get to Lily. He’s doing the same. When will you learn, Hermione? And besides, this is foolish! You’re going back to your time! Stop!

“I want you so badly,” Snape was murmuring against her throat, nipping gently at the sensitive skin there. All in an instant Hermione had stiffened under his ministrations.

“No you don’t,” Hermione demanded, turning her head away from his warm and seeking mouth. “You want Lily.”

As if she had belted him in the stomach with a bludger, the air went out of him. She could almost see him deflating in front of her. His eyes that were previously filled with such lust had turned flinty and cold and he dropped her wrists roughly as if she were on fire.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Severus said.

“I see it when you look at her,” Hermione insisted, blinking back the hurt and angry tears. “The way you’re so gentle around her. You’re besotted! You’ll always be in love with her!”

“Enough.”

“I’m just some distraction for you,” Hermione continued, feeling the tears beginning to slip traitorously down her cheeks.  “And I don’t deserve it. Not when I feel-“

She stopped, brushing the tears from her eyes angrily. Severus watched this quietly, his entire body still. Hermione slung the school bag over her shoulders before rushing to the door. She caved and gave herself one last fleeting look at the stoic Severus before whipping open the door and rushing into the cold night of the castle.

Chapter Text

Harry and Hermione met each other at the top of the third floor landing. Each was dressed in the best dress robes they could borrow from house-mates. Hestia had insisted on doing Hermione’s makeup and hair and the girl felt she looked passable. She’d also lent Hermione an ivory caplet that she wore loosely about her shoulders.

“Got your mask?”

Harry nodded, pulling on the sleek black mask of a panther and settling it over his eyes and nose.

“Remember the plan?”

“Yes. Dumbledore is finishing the spell in his office, we all meet in his office at eleven and then. . . We go home.”

The two of them smiled conspiratorially with one another.

“And Draco?”

“I told him,” Hermione nodded with a roll of her eyes. “But best we make sure he actually makes it.”

Harry nodded, his green eyes blinking back at Hermione through the eyeholes. He’d borrowed it from Sirius who had an entire bag full of masks to choose from for the evening. Harry looked quite ridiculous but Hermione didn’t have the heart to tell him. He had ended up going with Miranda Jones after all –  he hadn’t had the chance to break it off with her. For that she was thankful because she needed him there for the plan to work.

“I’m nervous,” Hermione said with a small wince, her fear suddenly overtaking everything else. “What if it doesn’t work? What if we’re trapped here forever?”

Another eight months of watching Snape fall more and more in love with Lily! Hermione felt her stomach sour at that thought.

“Don’t think like that,” Harry said with a confidence that belied the trembling fear he truly felt deep in his gut. “And besides, our dates are here.”

Hermione glanced over her to see Miranda and James wandering over to them, conversing politely before waving to their respective dates.  Hermione took a deep breath, trying to still the panic that pooled in her belly.

“Hello James,” she said politely as he reached her.

“Hullo,” James replied nervously licking his lips and adjusting his mask a bit. Upon inspection Hermione could see that his mask was that of a horse. He’d paired it with very smart looking robes and his shoes were shining from a recent polish.

“You’ve not comes as a stag,” Hermione said with a small smirk as she thought of the Marauders and their animal counterparts. Apparently the lot of them and their dates would be animal themed for the event tonight.

“The boys and I thought we’d shake things up just a bit,” James said, returning the smirk. “Not our usual looks.”

Hermione nodded awkwardly before glancing over at Harry and Miranda who were fixing their masks to fit properly. Miranda had her hair slicked down over a very tight fitting robe and her mask was that of a great cheetah.  

“I picked this up for you,” James suddenly said, shyly handing Hermione the mask for the evening. He had requested he pick out their costumes mask and Hermione couldn’t have been happier. She couldn’t have cared less about her costume! She looked down at the mask she now held in her hands.

“A unicorn,” Hermione observed with a small smile touching her lips. A fleeting image of her experience with Severus and the unicorns flipped through the forefront of her mind but she pushed it back aggressively. Instead she smiled up at James, clutching the beautiful and ornate mask.

“I hope you like it,” James said with a small smile. “I had it sent from a shop in London.”

Of course he did. The Potter’s never had to worry about money, Hermione mused. She let her fingertips trail over the beautiful carved piece in her hands, amazed at how lifelike it was.  The horn was a beautiful shining gold pearlescent – like the inside of an oyster shell.  The face was a shimmering ivory trimmed with dark black lines around the eyes to mimic the creature’s long eyelashes.

“It’s beautiful,” Hermione acknowledged, gripping the silvery ribbon around it. “Do you mind tying it for me?”

James nodded grateful at Hermione’s easy-going nature this evening. He had been worried she’d be a right chit after everything. But she was smiling warmly at him and she looked fantastic – a bit more subdued than the rest of the girls in terms of costume but he didn’t care. When she turned to face him he felt his heart jump.

“You look wonderful,” he breathed.

"Thanks.” She tried not to look totally disgusted at the knowledge that Harry’s father fancied her. "I like your...glasses."

"Oh," James said perplexed a moment, "thanks."

They didn't talk a while after that and Hermione was more than thankful. There was no point trying to be charming for her task this evening was to get him away from her and to Lily. The two couples made their way down the corridor; all the rest of the school was making their way to the large office of Slughorn. They could hear the muffled din of music from inside and a large gargoyle stood out front the door, casting a suspicious gaze at the four of them.

“Password.”

Pineapple Mead,” James said boldly. The gargoyle nodded before stepping aside and allowing them entrance. They walked into the already crowded space and Hermione could barely believe her eyes. All of the walls had been covered in faint bright white shimmering curtains so that it looked like something out of a dream. It was already quite bustling inside – several groups of wizards sat at a table near the far left. Their costumes were minimal and their conversation already deep.

A roving tray holding food and drinks approached them and Hermione realized it was being carefully maneuvered by a squeaking house elf.

“Thank you,” Miranda said taking a small glass of punch and hors d'oeuvres from the platter. Harry  and James followed suit but Hermione declined, distractedly combing her eyes through the crowd for some very specific people.

She could see Wendy Slinkhard – beautiful and blonde as some type of mermaid. Her shirtless companion was someone Hermione had never seen before and he looked quite uncomfortable. Despite the girl’s prior cruelty, she was glad the awful girl was alive and looking quite well. She recognized several of the other Slytherins, all resolutely ignoring her.

She took a step back from the group, her eyes still scanning the room furiously. She saw more individuals older than her classmates chatting in costume – Slughorn’s students were varied in age, background and more. But they all wore that same look of accomplishment, Hermione observed.

Her vision tilted slighty around a tall wizard and without warning he came into view – the one she’d really been searching for if she were honest with herself.  

Severus’ face was mostly covered by an ebony mask of a raven – a little cruel considering the boy’s nose , but the end result was quite striking. With it, Severus wore his traditional black robes, a little worse for wear but completely passable. Butler must have sprung for his costume because he wore a heavy black cape atop his robes with a silken emerald lining underneath. He looked dashing and lovely and despite her better judgment, Hermione wanted to snog him senseless.

Keep it together.

At his side Butler wore a skimpy emerald robe on which peacock feathers of all shapes and sizes had been magically sewn on. With every step she took they shimmered in the light of the ball. Hermione glanced up to see her delicately carved peacock mask, rife with gems and feathers. It was a spectacle and surely the most ornate costume of the evening.

“A peacock,” Hermione observed with a barely suppressed grin. “How appropriate.”

As if he had heard her from clear across the crowded room Severus’ head turned and his cool gaze fell on Hermione. She wrenched her gaze away, her heart thrumming as she tried to engage with James, Miranda and Harry.

“Quite a good turnout for ol’ Sluggy,” James said, his tone impressed.

“Yes, isn’t that ?”

“Oh and there’s Lily,” Hermione said, her eyes immediately picking up the copper hair woven into an elaborate chignon. “I think she’s come as an angel. Doesn’t she look beautiful, James?”

James glanced over to see Lily, her white robes truly angelic in the sea of garish colors. It fell in light waves around her white-heeled feet and when she turned Hermione could see ivory feathered wings that were charmed to flutter and drop glitter behind her as she walked. Hermione glanced over to see that Snape had viewed her and was gazing raptly at her as she walked past him. Lily looked stunning and Hermione had to push down the wave of jealousy that knocked her.  

Draco stood at her side, his hand possessively around her waist. He was clad in a dark set of robes that made his light hair stand out all the more. He wore an exquisitely carved mask of a devil, the horns pointing out. He wore a scarlet cape over his costume and Hermione couldn’t help but acknowledge that he looked quite smart. In his hand he held a small pitchfork that reminded Hermione a moment of Lucius and his walking stick.

“Suppose they ran out of ferret masks,” Harry muttered, causing Hermione to swat him good-naturedly.  He was about to say something more when a tall figure caught Hermione’s eye.

“There you are!” Hestia crowed, rushing through the crowd and throwing her arms around Hermione. Hermione could already smell the punch on her breath – spiked with Ogden’s if she were a betting woman.

“Don’t have any more of that punch,” Hermione whispered to a nodding Harry. “We need to have our wits about us.”

Hestia looked gorgeous in her shortened robes, her lips a ruby red and her half-mask that of a fox that matched Sirius’ slightly more masculine one as he came up behind her. The two of them were delightfully crimson and matching of their personalities – crafty and quite loveable and when Sirius gripped her gently by the waist Hermione could see the girl blush happily.

Gods I hope she still goes through with the plan.

“Don’t look now,” James muttered, looking sour behind his half-mask. “Looks like Snivellus is headed our way.”

“I won’t have you be cruel to him tonight,” Hermione snapped, irritable and on edge. She may be in a loathing spiral with the boy, but she wouldn’t have him slandered. Especially after all that he would sacrifice in the future. James looked suitably admonished and muttered a small “sorry” just as Severus and Rebecca Butler approached their small circle.

“Hello all,” Rebecca said loudly, her attitude an obvious bid for everyone to look and be amazed by her mere presence. “Beautiful party isn’t it? Are Slughorn’s events always like this?”

“Quite often,” James had to admit, making polite conversation at Hermione’s behest.  “He always likes to make a splash with events.”

Snape and Rebecca drew closer into the group and Hermione felt as Snape’s shoulder brushed against her own. She immediately stiffened, drawing herself more into herself. Snape made no move to adjust where he stood, seeming instead intent to make her uncomfortable.

 “Love the costume,” Hestia said kindly to Rebecca, trying to be amiable. That Hestia – kind to everyone, even horrid tarts like Rebecca Butler! Hermione couldn’t help but admire that about her friend and she tried to hold her contempt when the girl took a dramatic spin to show off her costume before replying.

“Thank you,” she said preening under the compliment.

“Cracking mask,” Harry said to Snape, still reeling at the fact that he was trying to be civil to Snape of all people. Even young the boy was off-putting.  Snape replied with a cursory nod, passing a cup of punch to his date for the evening.

“Thank you,” she said up at him, patting his arm gently. Hermione felt her stomach flipping at the contact and she had to wrench her gaze away from them.

“Good evening, Lockheart," Snape murmured in her general direction while the rest of the group chatted. Hermione made sure to ignore him, crossing her arms and glancing around the room as if she hadn’t heard him. Despite her attitude she could feel his dark eyes peering out from behind his mask, staring at her temple as she pretended to be engrossed in the conversation between the group.

“I heard that he’s going to make a grand speech at the conclusion of the party,” Sirius was saying with a dramatic eyeroll in regards to Slughorn. “Let’s be sure we leave before then, yes?”

“Agreed,” Hestia said emphatically before tippling back another glass of the punch. Hermione wondered if the girl would be able to walk independently in a moment – it didn’t look like it and her plan almost hinged on it.

New plan.

“I wonder why a masquerade ball,” Butler said from beside Severus, her voice a tinkling chime amongst the group. “Why not just a costume party?”

“They were usually reserved for the upper crust of Italy in the sixteenth century Renaissance,” Hermione answered automatically without thinking. “It’s no wonder that Slughorn would want to emulate such a thing given his penchant for-”

Hermione stopped herself midway through her sentence, seeing as Rebecca whispered and giggled something into Severus’ ear conspiratorially. He gave a small chuckle in response as if he loved the private joke before they glanced over at Hermione. She knew that they had to be mocking her and her know-it-all ways and this caused her face to turn red.

She glanced over to see Lily and Draco approaching the dance floor, his hands protectively around her waist. Hermione had a sudden impulse and she turned to her date for the evening.

“James, let’s dance,” Hermione insisted, gripping the boy’s hand and dragging him to the dance floor. She noted with satisfaction as she was leaving that the smile had dropped quickly from Severus’ face and his eyes were following them out onto the dance floor.

A slow dulcet song was playing gently by the band. James gripped her left hand in his, the other falling to her hip as they danced awkwardly. Hermione tried to hold in the amusement before glancing over the throng of dancing wizards and witches.

“Doesn’t Lily look stunning tonight?”

James looked surprised to Hermione. “Not as stunning as you.”

Oh for fuck’s sake.

“Thank you James, but have you actually looked at her?” Hermione insisted, trying not to groan in frustration.  “She’s like something out of a dream.”

At her insistence James glanced over the crowded dance floor and saw Lily dancing with Draco.  Despite being hidden by their half-masks, neither of them looked particularly interested in the other. Hermione was amused to note the large gap between their hips – almost as if Umbridge herself had been by with her measuring tape.  But Hermione could immediately feel the tightening of James’ hand wrapped around hers, squeezing almost painfully.

“She’s here with that Draco boy,” James observed, his jaw clenching. “I’ve seen him in classes and . . . I don’t trust him. I hear he’s in cahoots with that Malfoy.”

“I don’t blame you for not trusting him,” Hermione jumped at the opportunity, fanning the flames of jealousy. “Back at our school he’s quite the Casanova. Flitting from girl to girl… Not before getting into their knickers of course.”

She felt James stiffen and knew she had to play it casually, for fear of scaring him off. Or worse having him get into a fight with Draco and ruining all chances of getting together with Lily.

Hermione glanced over James’ broad shoulder to see Snape and Rebecca standing stiffly at the side of the room alone, their heads tilted away from one another, each of them gazing around the room awkwardly. Seemed no one was really enjoying the revelry Slughorn had prepared.

Hermione tried not to be too delighted.

She saw as Snape’s gaze came to land on her and she quickly looked away. There was no chance she was going to encourage him in any way. Instead she noticed with silent satisfaction as James kept looking over to the redhead. She couldn't help but keep in a smile. Perfect. She knew he fancied her. It was just a matter of time now. They continued to dance, talking about classes while James tried to covertly steal glances at Lily.

Hermione watched as Draco said something to Lily and he broke from her. She saw he was grabbing her some punch, handing it to the pretty girl gallantly. She smiled graciously at him and took it, sipping delicately. Hermione made a face at the display and proceeded to subtly guide James in their direction.

She saw as Lily glanced over at them, her gaze darkening as she saw James and Hermione dancing together. If only she knew – Hermione wanted to scream! But she had to play her cards right.

“I really enjoy being your friend James,” Hermione said gently, trying to sound breezy.  “I’ve had such fun with you all these past few weeks. I love how much you and Harry get along.”

“He’s a fun chap,” James said distractedly.  Hermione could see they were advancing closely to Lily, her back to them.

Now or never.

Hermione pretended to trip over her feet, nudging him harshly away from her. She hadn’t accounted for his distraction and Hermione watched as he suddenly tripped backwards and Hermione felt her stomach dropping as her miscalculations reared their ugly heads.

James tripped fully into Lily, landing hard on his rear as she wobbled widely, her pink punch spilling down the front of her beautiful ivory dress. James whirled up looking suddenly flustered. Hermione couldn't hear over the music, but saw as he animatedly used his hands.

“Oh James!” Lily complained, her eyes filling with tears. “Why?”

James sputtered something that Hermione couldn’t hear and he fumbled for his wand, his cheeks blotching in humiliation. Draco intercepted them, waving his wand in front of Lily’s dress and the stain was gone. Hermione watched as Lily looked over her shoulder to the crestfallen James as he placed his wand back in his robe's pocket. He marched over to Hermione, feeling utterly despondent as they danced a while longer without a word.

A new slow song came on and Hermione felt James’ grip tighten around her waist. She saw the defeated look in his eyes and knew exactly what he was thinking. He couldn’t have Lily –so he may as well pass some time with her.  She felt her eyes filling up with angry tears.

"May I cut in?" came a smooth voice from behind her and Hermione felt her stomach melting to butter inside. James looked over Hermione's shoulder and held in a scowl. Hermione forced herself not to beam as she felt the heat of Severus radiating into her back. 

Stop it. Stop it. This is the man who sacrifices everything for Lily – not you!

And yet, even as her mind told her to run, Hermione turned to see the tall boy directly behind her, giving Hermione a look that was far too intense. James lowered his hands from Hermione’s -much to her relief- and gave Severus an even look of irritation. He was about to object when Hermione spoke up nervously.

"Why don't you ask Lily to dance?" Hermione offered, looking to James imploringly. She suddenly leaned in, whispering to him as if they were sharing a secret. "I've seen the way she's been looking at you all evening."

"Has she?" James asked with a bright look in his eyes. Rapidly he frowned, looking from Severus to Hermione.  “But the punch-“

He looked over to see Draco chatting with some other wizards at the buffet. Lily was standing awkwardly a few meters away, her gaze dejectedly on the ground. Obviously Draco was just as bad a date as he was a Death Eater.

“She won’t care,” Hermione insisted. “She’s besotted with you. I guarantee if you’re just kind and honest with her, she’ll jump at the chance to dance with you.”

“Are you sure?”

“I am.”

 “But you’re my date for tonight,” James insisted, his misguided conviction slowly irritating her.  “It wouldn’t be right-“

"Go on then," Hermione interrupted with a friendly nudge. "Seems she’s alone for the moment, and she's over there by the wall. Don't miss your chance!"

James gazed over to where Hermione was motioning and felt his heart pounding. Lily still stood at the wall, looking completely detached from the evening's festivities.

James gave another look to the smirking Severus who stood so close to Hermione. She was sure James believed he'd be a traitor leaving her alone with Severus like this, but knowing that Lily really did fancy him was playing with his emotions. Hermione gave him one more resolute smile before he nodded in agreement, kissed her hand dramatically -much to Severus’ chagrin- and wound his way to the crowd over to the bored looking Lily.

Once he was out of sight, Hermione felt a strong arm around her waist, twirling and pulling her to the figure.  She tried not to look up at him, tried to look as if she were completely put out by being near him. She winced as he leaned down, his mouth at the side of her face.

“You look beautiful,” he murmured against her temple before pulling to a standing position. He noticed Rebecca casting daggers at him with her eyes but he couldn’t have cared less. All that mattered was the girl in his arms.

"I didn't think you’d actually attend tonight," Hermione confessed shyly, feeling the warmth of his body as he pressed himself to her. She blushed at the contact, hoping she wasn’t too obvious. He was grasping her around the middle tightly with one hand as the other gripped her hand in traditional ballroom fashion. Hermione idly wondered if he'd had lessons.

"I had my reasons," he mused lightly, his dark eyes boring into her own.

“Rebecca Butler being one of them,” Hermione muttered to herself. She noticed as Snape’s mouth quirked into a bemused smile.

“My reasons had nothing to do with her and everything to do with you, Hermione.”

Hermione felt her stomach jump as he said her name. She wanted to accuse him of loving Lily, of just using her as a distraction. But once she allowed herself to meet his steady gaze she felt all protestations dying on her lips. She swallowed thickly as his fingertip stroked her knuckles.

The mere contact was enough to send her head spinning, and as he urged her closer to him, more fully into his arms, she felt all resolve leaving her. She leaned into the warm embrace, her head falling gently onto his chest. She heard the steady thump of his heart under her ear and she smiled. Slow and steady.

She glanced over to see Lily and James dancing in the corner, their body language intimate. Hermione saw with satisfaction that Lily’s eyes were closed, her arms wrapped around James’ neck as they danced. James had his head balancing on the top of her head and for a moment Hermione felt the pang of jealousy.

Oh to be wanted like that.

She glanced up, half expecting Severus to be glowering at the sight. Instead he was staring down at her, peering into her masked face with an inscrutable look on his face.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be dancing with Lily?” Hermione finally muttered. She stiffened when she heard Severus give a heavy sigh.

 “You’re a strange girl, Hermione,” Severus chided gently, not answering her question and yet saying everything as he pulled her closely to him. The look on his face was intense and his eyes fairly burned with naked desire for her. Had anyone ever looked at her like that? Or was she imagining it? Did she just desperately want it to be true?

“What time is it?” she whispered. Snape pulled the pocket watch from his robes and glanced down before bringing her into his arms once more.

“A little after nine.”

Hermione nodded. They still had several hours before they needed to meet at Dumbledore’s office. She smiled gently up at Severus’ face and felt all air leave her as he leaned forward, planting a deep kiss on her mouth that caused her entire body to go up in flames. She leaned into the kiss, trying her best not to tremble before he pulled away, looking down at her serenely.

Now in the arms of her younger Professor she felt a strange sense of maturity, that she was indeed a woman. He made her feel. . . She couldn't find the perfect word, but a part of her was content to stay in his arms the rest of the evening, gently swaying. And yet the stronger part of her couldn’t stop the words she whispered inches from his lips, her tone heavy and laced with intent.

“I need some air, would you care to join me?”

***

Ron stood nervously in front of McGonagall and Slughorn, his pale face looking even more peaked and causing his freckles to stand out dramatically all over his face. They had been there for several hours –  Slughorn had produced the phial of potion and thrust it into Ron’s trembling hands.  Minerva had a large book open on her desk, the incantation to the time spell was there waiting to be read.

“You must be quick and try your best not to be seen,” Minerva said, her own brow furrowed dramatically. “The potion will last an hour – any longer than that and I’m not sure it will be that easy to return.”

Ron shot her a worried glance, about to say something when Minerva raised her wand above her head with a flourish. The two men watched as Minerva made a large circular motion with her wand, speaking the incantation aloud.

Fortunam circulus: et carmina omni tempore. Praeteritum et futurum proferet.” This continued on for several minutes, the entire group tense as she concluded the spell. Her face was terse and perspiration dotted her upper lip. She stole a glance at the almost trembling Ron – knowing that despite all he’d seen, this was an adventure that could result in his not being born.                                                                                                                 

“When the circle turns gold, it will be time to go,” Minerva said. “You need to drink the entire phial before you enter.”

“Right,” Ron nodded with a grimace.

A few minutes passed and then before them the large spinning circle turned a beautiful and glistening gold. The reality of the situation sunk into each of them. Two elderly gazes fell on Ron, licking his lips nervously in anticipation.

“Are you ready Mister Weasley?” Minerva offered kindly. Ron tipped back the phial into his mouth, downing the contents and then handing the phial back to a nervous looking Slughorn.

“Not really,” Ron answered with a shrug. “But when has that ever stopped me before?”

 

Chapter Text

"Well that was bloody awful," Ron muttered angrily to himself as he stepped through the glittering gold circle of the Room of Requirement and into the small office of Albus Dumbledore. The trip had been hellish –he felt as if he’d been swung in circles a million times and then thrust through a canon.

He tripped over to the tall figure behind the desk, trying to focus his eyes the best he could. Albus looked to the young man as if he had been expecting him, sitting casually behind his chair, his wand raised and holding the glittering circle strong on his end.

“Hullo m’boy,” Albus said with a cheerful grin. "I'm glad to see you've made it."

“Hello Headmaster,” Ron replied, his light eyes taking in the younger form of Albus, looking just like the face of so many beloved chocolate frog cards. He felt tears stinging the corners of his eyes but he remembered Minerva’s warning of not sharing any information. Albus motioned to the chair before him.

“Take a seat.”

“I really can’t,” Ron said with a firm shake of his head. “We’ve not much time. Where are they?”

“They’ll be up by midnight,” the Headmaster said casually motioning to the clock. Ron read the time and his eyes darted to Albus’ face.

“That’s hours away!” Ron replied, his pulse quickening. “We need them now. We’ve got just over an hour before this entire thing could close, leaving us stranded here forever!”

He saw the tic of worry in Albus’ cheek, but despite this internal worry the man’s voice was the same serene, calm guiding tone that had been with Ron through some of his hardest times.

“If that’s the case young man, then I suggest you find them.”

***

Did I really just say that?!

Before a surprised looking Severus could answer there was a booming round of applause as Slughorn stepped to the center of the room. There was no mistaking him under the elaborately designed mask of Merlin himself. Horace pressed the tip of his wand to his throat, his voice becoming amplified.

“My dear guests, what a great honor it is to have you here!” he crowed, victorious as he gazed around at all his accruements with glittering eyes. “Please eat, drink and mingle! But before we officially begin the evening with a song by a dear friend of mine, Celestina Warbeck!  Let us raise our glasses!”

At this the entire group of masked figures raised their glasses – save for Hermione and Severus who hadn’t stopped gazing at one another the entire time.

“A toast!” Slughorn said as he raised his champagne flute high, filled to the brim with pink punch. “To the best and brightest!”

To the best and brightest!” responded the crowd before drinking along with Horace who smiled broadly underneath the half mask. There were whoops of laughter and cheers as a mocha-skinned witch came to the center of the room, holding her wand in front of her like a muggle microphone.

Celestina Warbeck was quite possibly the most well-known wizarding singer Hermione knew of and she was here! Horace Slughorn truly did know everyone.

 “I've got a cauldron full of hot, strong love
And it's bubbling for you!
Say Incendio, but that spell's not hot
As my special witch's brew-”

The crowd had now formed around Celestina Warbeck, whistling and cheering her on as she smiled gaily, continuing to sing and wink at the wizards who looked up at her with adoration. Several couples were entwined like two basalisks as they danced slow and suggestively.

A sudden rush of blood went to Hermione’s cheeks as she felt Severus’s hips grind into hers. Thoughts of leaving for a breath of fresh air were somehow growing distant. What she wanted more of was this tall young man and his lean fingers digging deeper into her flesh.

If they left, there was no way she could control herself. There was no way that she would be able to stop whatever he suggested or desired. Mostly because, she admitted to herself, she wanted it so badly she ached.

But to do anything more with Severus Snape was asking to have the future changed. She couldn’t do it. It would be the most foolish thing in the world. And so she would have to be content here in his arms on the dance floor.

“Perhaps we can stay for one last song,” Hermione suggested with a smile up at Severus. She noted the small dimple by his cheek when he smiled in return.

“I’m sure that could be arranged.”

***

Ron was terrified. There was no other way to describe it – he was terrified that this wouldn’t work, that he’d be stuck, sent to the wrong time period. You name it – Ron was terrified of it. But he had to do this – not just for Harry, but for the girl he loved dearly; Hermione.

 Even now he felt his mouth go dry at the thought of her. Imagine if he couldn’t get to her! They’d loved each other so long and he hadn’t even had the chance to really spend time with her as a proper boyfriend should!

Some students waltzed by chatting absently and he pulled on the hood of his long cloaks and took a deep breath. A flash of blonde skidded into his side, throwing him off balance a moment.

"Watch it,” Ron hissed furiously, rearranging his hood and glaring in the shadows of it at the young blonde man. His eyes widened in realization and he gave the figure a once over.

"Malfoy?”  

Lucius brushed his cloak dramatically, not seeing Ron’s face. Ron could see he was looking mighty panicked and opted to rush off without a word.

How on earth was Malfoy here? Wasn’t he graduated by now? Ron couldn’t help but notice how eerily similar he and Draco looked.  The boy was already gone down the hall, his stream of pale hair behind him as he rounded the corner.

Prat.”

Loud music from the corridor drew him to Slughorn’s office. Ron wrinkled his nose in distaste – he’d never been to a Slug Club event. And even now thirty years in the past he still wasn’t actually attending one – he was breaking into one! A large stone gargoyle stood outside in wait.

“Hullo,” Ron said as cheerfully as he could muster.

“Erm-“

“Pineapple Mead,” came a singsong voice from behind him. Ron glanced to see a blonde girl giving him a sweet gaze. The two of them looked back to the gargoyle who wasn’t  moving an inch. Ron cast the blonde girl a concerned look.

“You’ve forgotten your mask,” she said encouragingly from behind the mask of a monkey. “They won’t let you in without one.”

Shite.

“Oh,” Ron said like a gormless idiot, trying his best not to panic. Where was he going to find a bloody mask at this point?  

“S’okay,” the girl said with a smile handing him one from her small beaded bag. “I was bringing this for my friend but she can’t make it. It’s not exactly-”

“Thanks!” Ron said, taking the mask from her and shoving it on without letting her finish. He looked back up to the menacing face of the gargoyle. “Well then?”

With what Ron could have sworn to be a subtle rolling of stone eyes, the gargoyle stepped to one side. The two of them entered into the dark room, their eyes adjusting to the dark.

“How do you know Slughorn?” the girl asked from beside him, obviously intrigued with this tall, handsome ginger who seemed charmingly befuddled. Ron had forgotten she was still there at his side.

“Potions,” Ron said absently, trying to fit the mask better onto his face but finding it rather snug.

“Oh, what year are you?”

“I guess technically Seventh,” Ron replied.

“Oh, so am I. How have I never seen you?”

“Sorry music’s too loud,” Ron said over the pulsating beat. “See ya.”

Ron didn’t have time to come up with some brilliant reasoning and so he instead he rushed from the pretty girl and scanned the crowd for the missing trio. It was so dim inside that he briefly saw a flash of black hair, but in the darkened room, it could be anyone.

Students pushed past him, looking confused at his face before rushing by him.  He nearly bumped into a figure, hidden in the shadows of the dance floor. Her back was against the wall as she looked wistfully out to the sea of faces. Ron leaned against the wall himself, surveying the students and keeping his eyes peeled. A soft sigh from his right made him glance over at the girl who had removed her mask, and as he did so he held in a startled gasp.

Lily Potter!

Harry’s mum!

He’d know her from anywhere with all the photos Harry had of her lying around the house. Weirdest yet was that she was quite fit – and Ron internally admonished himself for even thinking of his mate’s mum.

"Oh God," Ron heard her mutter then, and saw her becoming flustered as a tall boy approached her.

“Hello James,” she said primly.

JAMES?! James Potter! Ron couldn’t handle this. He felt so strangely rude for eavesdropping but he couldn’t contain it.

"Hi Lily," James said, nervously combing his hair back with his fingers. He was obviously nervous, and having Lily look at him with that cold look in her eyes was more than he could bear. "Would you care to dance?"

"Wouldn't your date mind?" Lily asked snottily, looking to James with hurt flashing in her bright eyes. James shook his head briskly, trying to show he was being completely truthful.

"She's the one that suggested I come over and ask you, actually."

"Oh, she did?" Lily asked lightly, looking over to Hermione and feeling her anger fade. Evidently Hermione had been speaking the truth earlier. Why else would she have sent James over here to dance? James looked to Lily, seeing her face soften a moment before her curious gaze met his own.

“You must be having a lovely time,” Lily offered generously. “Hermione is quite a fun girl.”

“Yeah,” James said with a shrug. “Nothing compared to you though.”

“Is that why you asked her to the dance instead of me?” Lily sniffed, trying not to seem like she cared too much. Ron tried to keep up with this conversation, the snatches that he was able to hear without looking like a total knob.

“I asked you heaps of times Lily,” James defended. “And you said no every time. I have my pride you know.”

Lily couldn’t help but duck her head a bit at this –for this was the truth after all.

“But as soon as I saw you tonight, I knew I had to ask you to dance,” James continued, his eyes full of adoration for the girl in front of him. “I would have asked even earlier if that Parkinson wasn’t around.”

“James Potter,” Lily said with mock horror as she saw the boy’s face turn into a glower. “Are you jealous of Draco?”

“Of that prat?” James scoffed with a shrug. “Never.”

“I think you are,” Lily replied with a cheery giggle, delighted that the boy was jealous and rather ashamed of the fact.

“And what if I am?” James said defiantly, his cheeks stained with red. “I don’t like the way other boys look at you. Draco and Severus and-“

“You’re jealous of Severus?” Lily said, her eyes wide. This was a new admission from the boy. She saw as he licked his lips nervously.

“You’ve always had a soft spot for him haven’t you?” James said, miserable that he was admitting to such a thing. “No matter what he does, you defend him. And I. . .  We’ve always had this rivalry going on and. . . “

He suddenly ripped the mask from his face, feeling that he needed to look at the girl without hiding behind it. He looked so much like Harry that Ron started a moment before he saw the difference – the sharpness of Harry’s features that James didn’t have. The slightly rounder cheeks and longer hair of James.

“Well, the thing is Lily,” James was saying with a slight tremble in his voice. “I quite fancy you. I have for a very long time. And I’d very much like to dance with you. And after this dance I’d like to take you to dinner and after dinner, well. . . I’d like us to have a go at a real relationship.”

There was a long stretch of silence in which James stared at his shoes and Lily stared at James. Ron meanwhile stared at both of them, feeling quite surreal as if he were witnessing a very pivotal moment in time.

Just wait ‘til I tell Harry this.

Lily gazed over at James, seeing as his shoulders dropped in humiliation at having told her such a thing. She had always known James might fancy her, but he’d never been so forthright, so vulnerable. The sight of it made her heart melt.
 
“I'd be more than happy to dance with you, James."

James’ gaze darted up and a sudden beam spread on his handsome face, his eyes shining as he offered Lily his arm. Lily blushed and took the proffered arm, her eyes staying on James' as they made their way to the dance floor, looking completely content.

Still leaning against the wall, now alone, Ron’s eyes lazily drifted over the students until they landed on one young woman, her hair -how could he have missed it before?- in all its frizzy glory, despite being obviously slathered with Sleekeazy. His eyes narrowed in focus as he looked more intently to her, realizing that it was in fact his darling Gryffindor girl dressed as a unicorn.  

"Hermione," he whispered in the low of his throat, watching her dancing intimately with some tall figure. He viewed her flushed face as she spoke, the close proximity she was sharing with her dance partner, her eyes glancing up under a mask to a figure he couldn’t place.

How on earth am I going to bloody well find them if they’re all in masks?

Ron looked to the two of them dancing and felt a strange sensation pass through his stomach. He was utterly and completely confused.  Hermione had never looked at Ron like that- even in his most dashing of moments.

He was about to move towards them when he viewed the tall masked figure swooping down and placing a very firm, and full kiss upon Hermione’s waiting lips. He was stilled to the spot, watching as Hermione –his girlfriend- closed her eyes in pleasure, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply back. Their bodies were molded to one another; their hips doing a suggestive dance all themselves. Ron  watched on, feeling himself getting nauseated.

He turned a moment, his stomach heaving as he blindly groped for the wall. A few students gave him an odd look as he bent at the waist, trying not to be sick. Everything was wrong in this time. Surely Hermione would explain everything – surely there was a reason for this? He could hear Slughorn and some woman starting to sing behind him but he needed to still his thoughts.

McGonagall surfaced in his mind, repeating her instructions and reminding him of how imperative it was that he quickly find the trio. He only had an hour to find them and bring them back to the office of Dumbledore. At least fifteen minutes had been eaten up by all this ridiculous spying nonsense. Talking to Hermione was just going to have to wait.

"Focus," he muttered to himself before he twirled around quickly, looking for Hermione where he last saw her. His eyes frantically scanned the ballroom, racking through the couples as he grew more and more anxious. His light eyes searched the room once more before he realized the obvious.

She was gone.

* * *

I need to tell him how I feel.

No you don’t, you idiot.

But maybe if I tell him how I feel-

Enough Hermione. There’s no changing the future. End it.

"Severus-" Hermione started, her dark eyes wetting with tears. "I need to say something to you.”

“Yes?”

“I-“ a sudden flurry of movement caught her attention and looking over Severus' shoulder as Harry made his way out of Slughorn’s office. Harry looked rather frightened and he was alone, his date looking after him in confusion.  “Where’s Harry going?”

"Not sure," Severus said lightly, taking in Hermione’s face. "Why?"

"He looks beside himself."

"Mmm," Snape murmured, holding her to him as they danced. "Well I did hear him speaking to someone about going to the Shrieking Shack earlier and-"

"The Shrieking Shack?" Hermione asked nervously, her heart suddenly pounding with fear. She gripped Snape's hand tightly within her own. "Are you sure?"

"I'm fairly certain that's where he said he was headed," Severus answered languidly, watching as Hermione's face grew serious. "Why? Did you need to follow him?"

"Yes," Hermione said firmly, still holding Severus' hand as they made their way through the crowded dance floor. Didn't Harry remember? Hadn't he seen the type of moon it was tonight? Didn’t he realize there wasn’t time? Was he going to try and help Lupin? Oh for goodness’ sake Harry!

The two of them zigzagged out of the hall; their hands intertwined as a few students looked on. They were on the grounds of Hogwarts within moments, and without any sign of Harry, Hermione was growing frantic. Her breathing was coming out in short little huffs and Severus looked to her as they approached the whomping willow.

"What's the matter, Hermione?"

"Nothing," Hermione insisted, her breathing tight in her chest. Severus was frowning deeply, his dark eyes looking almost black. Hermione gave him a tentative smile before she poked her wand into the tree’s knot. Within seconds it was paralyzed and opened the passageway to the Shrieking Shack.

"We'll take the passage,” Hermione said, ignoring the look of surprise on Severus' face. She leaned in, listening for any growling and hearing none. This was either a very good or very bad sign. "Bring out your wand Severus."

"I'm way ahead of you,” Snape answered dryly. Suddenly Hermione felt a gentle poke at her back, unmistakable the feel of a wand's tip at the middle of her spine.

She swatted at it, irritated that her usually taciturn Severus was suddenly in a playful mood.

"Stop it Severus, this isn't the time."

"Actually, it’s exactly the time," Severus answered darkly, his voice low and warning. "If you wouldn't mind, Lockheart, hand over your wand and step into the tunnel. We’re playing by my rules now."

Chapter Text

It was a cold panic that gripped Hermione at his words. One that made her breath slip out of her and made her stomach drop. The feel of the pointed edge of Severus' wand in the small of her back was the constant reminder that this wasn't a joke. Was it? She tried to peer into his face.

"Sever-"

"Now."

Hermione could almost feel the violent resolution in his voice, and shakily she reached for her wand. She knew it would be powerless against him and handed it over without much of a fuss. Her magic in this time period was so minimal that it was more or less a fancy stick she carried with her.

Without warning he ripped the unicorn mask from her face harshly, the ribbon slicing into her cheek before it was laying in the ground in a heap along with his own.

"Step into the tunnel," Snape ordered, nudging her sharply with his wand.

"Seve-" she tried numbly, moving to turn and face him, but feeling the wand’s jab stopped her.

"Do it," Severus rasped in her ear, digging the wand harsher into her back. His hand came to pinch the back of her neck lightly as she cried out. "Now."

Hermione didn't dare turn then -and really couldn't- as she heard the menace in his voice. How utterly stupid of her to have let emotion rule over everything else. How stupid it was of her to believe that Severus would be different back here. He used her with the potion and he was using her now. How could she have done this to herself? She had never felt so wretched in all of her life – and that included being under the fury of Bellatrix.

All of a sudden she heard a muffled sound from the end of the tunnel and panic gripped her. It was a full moon tonight.

Lupin.

She knew what happened the last time she had met a werewolf. She peered into the tunnel, her eyes widening in fear. She expected a giant werewolf to come rushing down towards her, jaws snapping, saliva dripping. It wouldn't matter that she knew it was Lupin, for it wouldn't be. It would be a shell of a werewolf with Lupin trapped inside, and utterly defenseless against his own body.

"If you're worried about that flea bag," Severus said airily, his wand still cutting into the small of her back, "we took care of it before the dance even started. You see, your little friends may have fooled me once, but I refuse to be shown up again."

"We?"

"Lucius, Draco and I."

Draco. He'd been in it as well. He hated her, he hated Hary still after all this time? After all they’d been through? Would he really risk so much just to get back at them? She felt the angry tears welling up within her. Her hands were at angry balls at her side, she clenched them so tightly the nails bit into her flesh leaving crescent marks in the palms.

"You unfeeling bastard."

"Now now," Severus mocked. "No need for such language. We had a fun run, didn't we Lockheart?"

Hermione didn't answer, the words alone mocking her affection for him. She'd been so naive to feel something for him. To fool herself into thinking he of all people would actually feel affection for her. She was so very violated then.

"I know your type Lockheart. Naive, innocent, smart," he sounded so bitter as he spoke. "You try and make yourself in the world through books and knowledge because you think that will give you the power. But it doesn't.”

As he spoke Hermione felt her ears tuning into the words he wasn’t speaking. The slight grounding in his voice that betrayed suppressed emotion.

“You think I say this to be cruel, but I don’t,” Severus insisted in a tone that sounded almost sincere.  “I was once just like you. But books didn’t protect me from being attacked by Potter and his ilk.  Knowledge didn’t stop my father’s drunken rages against my mother and I.”

Hermione was stilled against him, her eyes widening into the darkness before them. He was beaten by his father? There was still so much she didn’t know about him. So much that would come to explain his adult self.

“And then I realized, do you know what gives true power, Lockheart?”

Hermione was still, saying nothing.

“Fear.” Snape pushed her further into the tunnel harshly. “The fear I can instill in others. It yields such delicious power. And more often than not, fear will give way to lust. Just as it did with you.  In turn it gave me the power I had over you in that potions room. Power over you in my kisses and words. You wanted me then, you would have given it all to me. That's the kind of power I have."

“How dare you,” Hermione ground out, furious at the insinuation. Her entire body was flushed with both fury and the shame of the partial truth to his words. She had considered giving herself to him only moments before. She felt sick to her stomach.

“How dare I what? Be truthful?” Severus said humorlessly.

“You think I feared you? That I kissed you because I was scared of you? That I spent time with you out of terror? Are you mad?” Hermione continued their walk, but she felt as the grip on the back of her neck loosened. “Do you honestly think it was fear that made me dance with you tonight? Or work alongside you? Or kiss you? Or care if you got hurt during your meetings?”

“Why then?” Snape scoffed, looking to the back of her head in curiosity.

“It doesn’t matter now.”

“I say it does,” Snape hissed, the pinching back at the base of her neck.

“Because there’s something about you,” Hermione said, her cheeks a flaming red at the admission. “Something I-I can’t explain.”

“Attempt to.”

I know you in the future, you git! You’re a really horrible man but you sacrifice so much! And now, having met you I’m beginning to understand you! And I thought I loved you!

There was so much she wanted to say and knew she couldn’t and so she tried her best to explain without giving anything away.

“You said we’re alike,” Hermione observed, her hands groping blindly in front of her as they made their way down the winding tunnel. “And I agree. You’re intelligent and you think things through. And you’re also brave and kind when you want to be-”

“You know nothing of me,” Snape interrupted with a flinch.

“I know more than you realize.”

"Rubbish," Severus said, stopping them both and twirling her to face him. His wand was still trained on her and she gave it a fearful look before looking into the young man's troubled eyes alit by the end of his wand. "You don't know what you're talking about you silly girl."

“It was in your gentlest of moments that I adored you,” Hermione said, jutting her chin proudly as she spoke. If she was going to die, she was going to do so with nothing left to hide. Fuck him if he thought he would take that from her. “When you rescued me from Lola. When you helped me with my potion. When you stopped me from getting hurt in class.”

Severus’ faltered and she could see it in his eyes. But her own were growing watery and she was irritated beyond belief that she was in this situation. That she had let her guard down with a young Deatheater.

“In none of those moments did I fear you. Quite the opposite, actually.”

Severus looked to her down turned face in moderate confusion, his wand still aimed at her. She had felt something for him greater than he could have expected or imagined. This was slowly making his chest tighten, forcing him to speak the words that rang through his head.

"You love me?"

Severus managed to make out, the faint flush on her cheeks confirming his notion. He felt an overwhelming urge to comfort the then, but stopped it instantly the moment it passed through his mind. Instead his forefinger touched under her jaw lightly, guiding her face up to meet his eyes. He needed to see the truth.

He saw the anger, pain and betrayal in those dark eyes almost mirroring his own, and he felt his stomach dropping. He was about to speak when Hermione jerked her head away, knocking a small tear down her cheek as she whispered angrily.

"I never said that. Don't ever touch me again."

Snape's hand recoiled and lay at his side, feeling humiliated for even trying to search for something more. Not that it mattered if she did care for him. She was silent and obeyed slowly as Severus' ordered her to turn and continue walking down the tunnel to the shack.

"Why are you doing this?" Hermione finally uttered weakly, her cheeks moist with fallen tears. "Have you actually hated me all along? Was this all a trick to humiliate or hurt me?"

"Shut up," Severus said darkly, his grip on her arm growing weaker. Hermione struggled with him, pulling and trying to break free. She didn’t know exactly what awaited her in the Shrieking Shack and it was more than she'd be able to bear. She was beyond terrified and beyond furious.

I helped win the war. I came back to finish school. I did everything RIGHT. Why am I here now? Why am I suffering?

"This isn't fair,” she loudly exclaimed.  “I always do everything right. And how am I thanked? This way!”

“What are you on about?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Hermione said, her shoulders slumped as she strode on. “I’m going to die.”

Before he could say anything she let out a frustrated growl as she wrenched from his grip a moment until she was facing him, flat against his torso.

She wanted to make him see what she felt; she wanted to make him realize what he was doing. She couldn't dissuade him from being a Death Eater, for she had mucked up History enough as it were. But she had a future she wanted to get back to and she'd be damned if a dodgy teenager was going to stop her. But what could she do? She was powerless against him and his maddeningly tight grip.

“Look at me,” she demanded, knowing she had no bargaining chip whatsoever. And yet the tall boy’s eyes fell onto her face as if compelled.  “You need to look into the face of the person you’re going to help kill.”

Snape said nothing, but she noted the thick swallow bob down his slender neck as he stared at her. The two stood breathing heavily, looking to one another in the darkened tunnel.

“I don’t believe you’re evil,” Hermione said, her voice holding a small tremor. “I believe you’re doing what you think you need to do to survive. And while I may not agree, I can’t stop you. But this, Severus. What you’re about to do to me and Harry. . . That’s beyond the pale. It’s not who you are.”

Snape said nothing, but his eyes grew a bit steelier, the tip of his wand moving from her sternum to her chin. For a moment Hermione remembered him in the Shrieking Shack – his bloody leaving him and the naked terror on his face. The realization that he had sacrificed everything and it may not be enough. Without warning she wrapped her arms around his narrow waist and buried her face in his chest.

"Please don't do this." Hermione begged softly, hoping against hope that he'd stop this sick game. "I'm begging you Severus. Whatever you have planned for tonight, don't go through with it. You’re better than this."

Severus looked to the top of her head and held in a small sigh of confusion. He had been so ready to do this to her the moment he'd seen her dancing with James. He'd even been ready to go through with it as he danced with her, his mind on the evening tonight. But now with her arms around his like that night not so long ago, he felt himself growing a fraction weaker.

"You don't understand," he finally whispered onto to the top of her head, reluctantly letting his chin rest on the top of it as she pulled him tighter to her. He didn't dare put his arms around her for fear of losing all resolve. "I have to do this."

"Why?"

" It's expected of me," Severus held his wand firmly in his hands, expecting that she was trying to worm her way out of tonight's activities by sobbing to him. But she was different, she was more betrayed than vengeful and he could see it.

"I don't know what to tell you," Hermione said powerlessly, "All I'm asking is to let me go. I've done nothing wrong. And Harry...let him go as well. We've done nothing to harm you...we've done nothing." she broke off, the anxiety of the situation overpowering her as she let her head rest on his chest in  despair.

Severus tried to remain stoic though his heart ached as he felt her shaking body against his own. It was so much easier to pillage when the victims were faceless. But Hermione was real flesh and blood to him. She was knowledgeable and patient and sweet. He had been intimate in emotions as well as physicality, and that had never happened with any girl, aside from Lily.

He wanted to let her go, and tell Lucius and Draco to shove it, but he knew the real conclusion. If he did so, it would mean his life. They would take him to the Dark Lord, and it would mean the end of him. He would die at the hands of the Master he'd just begun to serve loyally. He would die a coward and he simply could not let that happen.

But now, looking into Hermione innocent brown eyes, Snape felt a pain rip through him like none other. She loved him. It was a mystifying, cutting sensation that went through his chest and actually made him wince as she gripped onto him. She trusted him to do the right thing. Her cheek was against his rough cloak she hugged him to her tightly, hoping to make him feel through osmosis what she was going through. But she really needn't have bothered, for he'd already made his decision.

"Go."

Hermione lifted her head and gazed at him, wondering if she'd just imagined what he'd said. His eyes locked with hers intensely, darkening with the weight of his words.

"I said go. Now you silly girl."

"But Harry-" Hermione started, her heart beating rapidly as Snape gripped her upper arms, dragging her face to meet his as he stared down her preconceived ideals of some sort of rescue for her friend.

"Worry about yourself Hermione," Severus hissed venomously, giving her a striking kiss before pulling away. The kiss was passionately overwhelming,  but too brief for her to respond to as the fleeting moment passed. Somehow he knew this would be the last they saw of each other.

Worry about yourself, Hermione.

Had she ever really just worried about herself? In her entire life? No. Worried about Harry, Ron, her parents, the Weasley’s, Dumbledore and even Professor Snape himself? Yes. Of course without question. But did she ever worry truly about herself?

Rarely if ever. And now was no different. She couldn’t let Harry submit to death. Along with Ron they were a team.  And so she would either leave Harry to his inevitable doom and just pray he made it out alive if she got to Dumbledore soon enough, or she would join him and hope that a miracle occurred for the both of them.

Before she'd even a chance to think over any option logically, the door leading from the Shrieking Shack to the tunnel swung open. Severus gripped her arm, and she felt the doom enter her belly swiftly. She had chosen her fate.

"Ah, Severus," Lucius said with sadistic glee as his eyes scanned the two figures. "I see you've brought the entertainment for the evening."

"I have indeed," Severus said stonily, grasping Hermione by the arm roughly and dragging her struggling body into the shack. Her heart was leaping into her throat as she stepped through the threshold and into the dark fate that awaited.

Hermione was dragged into the decrepit shack, looking quite similar to her adventure there in her third year. She glanced around in wild fear as she was dragged in by the tall boy who'd tried to give her freedom. A small groan sounded from the corner of the room and as her eyes adjusted to the dim light she could see a familiar face.  

There was Harry, poor Harry, magically bound to the wall with Lucius pointing his wand at him, a sinister smirk on his pale face. Hermione felt the anger and fury welling up inside of her, reaching her fingertips and toes with a crackle.

"You traitor!" Hermione screamed, as Draco looked over, his face somber. He gave her a once over, seeing that she was sobbing and trying to wrench free from Severus. His face was impassive. Hermione’s attention back to Harry as the dark haired boy struggled, trying to move but doing so sluggishly. He seemed off kilter, almost drugged.

"Shut up girl," Lucius said disgustedly, spitting at her as she ducked. She tried to kick at him but found herself moving almost in slow motion. She felt her stomach bottoming out as her eyes met those of Severus. His eyes which once held such warmth were now cold; emotionless now that he was with his mates.

"Where's Pettigrew?" Severus asked lazily, scanning the room for the pudgy teen. "Didn't he say he wanted a hand in all of this?"

"Don't know." Draco answered absently, “But good riddance."

"Bind the Mudblood up there," Lucius ordered lazily to Severus, motioning to the empty space next to Harry.  Snape glanced over to his blonde friend, raising a questioning eyebrow.

"Is the werewolf taken care of then?"

"Not for good," Lucius answered, his pale face almost beaming. "But perhaps when he's changed back we might have a bit of fun."

"Brilliant," Severus said with an approving nod before turning to face Hermione fully. Raising his wand he bound her magically to the wall, never meeting her eyes as she glared at him. She felt her ankles and wrists being bound magically, and held in a sob as Snape's eyes pooled over her, taking a lingering look over the young woman before sighing deeply, his jaw clenched firmly.

"Severus," Lucius said in a singsong voice from the other side of the room, dragging his attention there momentarily. "After seeing the fruition of all our hard work and planning, I think I've decided to have a change in plans."

“Oh?”

“Yes,” Lucius said the word slowly as if tasting it.  “Something I think we’ll all enjoy.”

Severus took a deep breath, taking one last look at Hermione's face before coming over to his blonde comrade. Lucius was grinning sinisterly, the sick grin taking up almost his entire face. He whispered something into Severus' ear and Hermione viewed as Snape's eyes went cold. He pulled away from Malfoy’s smirking face, shaking his head jerkily.

"It’s too risky," Severus said agitated, shooting a look at Hermione and then looking back to Lucius. He was paler in complexion now, as if it were possible. His eyes were widened, a face that Hermione had never seen before.

"Risky?" Lucius scoffed, turning to his friend with a vicious sneer. Suddenly his eyes narrowed on his taller, darker comrade in the dark army. "As if we haven’t done risky things before, Severus?”

“Never on Hogwart's grounds."

"This isn't the grounds," Lucius said with an eye roll.

“Well technically-“

“Technically nothing,” Lucius spat, looking at Snape with disgust."I can't understand your reluctance in all this, Severus. What's changed?"

As if an inkling washed over him, Lucius's pale eyes widened a fraction of a moment as he looked from Snape to Hermione and then back again. “Don’t tell me you’ve gone soft for this Mudblood?”

"Of course not." Severus answered automatically with a grimace as Hermione looked to him. She tried to look neutral, but found it hard when having her heart torn out and stepped upon. "I'm just considering things from all angles. How are we to obtain Dumbledore’s trust if he ever finds that we were responsible for the death of Hogwarts students?"

“He’d never know,” Lucius replied.

"What's going on?" asked Draco from the other side of the room, his wand poised a few inches from Harry's nose. Hermione knew it wouldn’t do much damage, and there was no way she and Harry would be able to break from these binds.

"The Dark Lord wants a sacrifice tonight." Lucius crowed happily, looking Hermione up and down with a wicked grin that had her shaking. Lucius smirked at Draco and then looked back to Hermione, letting his eyes caress her body as he finished.

"And we're going to bring him his favorite...a Mudblood one."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"Where are they?”

Ron was muttering angrily to himself, swooping down the careening halls with his mask in his hands. His light eyes were narrowed even further, his frustration evident. He'd been rushing about the castle a good five minutes, his mind completely void of where they might be.

His pale face was growing gray with sickness, an inner malady that none could remedy. For once he was the mature and responsible one in this entire debacle and the thought horrified him.  

If something happens to them...if something happens...I don't know what I'm going to do.

There was the tug at his stomach though that kept shaking his insides. The one that replayed the moment of Hermione being kissed by the tall boy. It kept going over and over as if on constant rewind even if he tried to focus on the task at hand.  

There was also the niggling feeling he got when he knew that trouble was afoot. He knew that something bad was happening, something of a detrimental nature. All he knew was that he needed to get to them immediately before something went completely tits up.

But where were they?

He allowed himself a moment to collect his thoughts and sat on a large bench outside a classroom. There he let his hands cradle his head as he closed his eyes in concentration. Nothing came to him. Not even one little hint.

He'd been on the bench a good five minutes when a sound came at his right. Immediately his head darted up, his dark eyes scanning the hallway before falling several figures. It was a long shot, dangerous even, but if it worked…

They may just get out of this time.

* * *

"You can't do this!" Hermione shrieked in terror, looking from one pale face to the other. "You'll never get away with it! Why, our school-"

“Doesn’t exist.”

Hermione faltered a moment, her eyes darting to the pale face of Severus before glancing over at a victorious looking Lucius Malfoy as he spoke. He stood next to Harry, his wand twirling merrily in his gloved hands. 

How had he found out?

Harry's once calculating eyes were dim, his glasses smashed in places, blood trickling from an unseen wound in his head. Hermione frantically tried to meet his eyes, to wordlessly give him strength, but Harry was past that. They'd surely done something to him.

"You don't go to Longbottom Academy," Lucius sneered with a flippant wave of his hand as Snape's eyes fell to the ground. "It doesn’t even exist. Severus and Draco told me everything. No one will miss you or your annoying friend. No one will even know you were here."

Hermione looked to Severus in hopeless betrayal, her eye wide and unblinking. So, Severus had told them everything. Every encounter they'd had she was sure, every stupid, sappy thing she'd said to him in confidence. She was probably ridiculed a thousand times behind her back, and stupid and naively she gone back to him.

"How could you?" she uttered lowly, not bearing the thought of meeting those now hollow eyes. Eyes she'd cherished, lips she'd kissed, skin she'd felt against her own. All a lie. He probably wasn't even going to let her go before. It was all an act and she'd been stupid enough to fall for all of it.

“I know you’re all orphans,” Lucius said with a braying laugh. “There’s no one to miss you when you don’t return home. No one to come searching.”

Hermione felt her eyes sting at this. It was true – Harry and Draco no longer had parents in the future. Her own parents’ minds had never returned to them and they were living their lives in Australia without a care for a child they never knew they had. They were orphans, the lot of them.

“Brought up as Muggles,” Lucius continued on with a snort, walking over to where the bound Hermione glared at him openly. “And now, years too late trying to understand your magical heritage. Draco told us of how you only just got your wands. No wonder you’re all useless with them.”

Hermione didn’t risk meeting the gaze of Draco who stood silently at the corner of the room, his eyes downcast. What exactly had he told Lucius?

"Now," Lucius said with a glowing smile shot at his two friends as he swayed around the room. "All we need to do is put a permanent binding spell on that one-" at that he pointed a hand at Harry, "and we can leave him here with the werewolf, once we've released it and left of course. Imagine the disgrace of Dumbledore then – a student of his, a murderous beast!"

"Everyone has seen us!" Hermione shouted, wriggling in her unseen bounds. "What are you going to tell them then?"

"We're very powerful in the Dark Arts, Lockheart" Lucius said with a mirthless chuckle. "Especially Severus here. Why, we've already spiked the punch bowl at the dance with a certain potion I've been working on, under Severus' tutelage no less. In a matter of time, you and Finnegan will be only a memory...and then? Nothing at all."

“And Dumbledore?” Hermione demanded, sure that if she kept them talking she could think of a way to escape.

“When word gets out that he let a student under his care be killed by another,” Lucius said with a sneer. “He’ll be thrown into Azkaban before he can say a word. Not only that, but his favorite sweets were delivered to him only moments ago. Filled with the potion of course – just in case”

"You wouldn't," Harry breathed in a daze, his pupils growing and shrinking at an alarming rate. The two Malfoy's let out small snorts as they tsked at the piteous Harry.

"Oh, but we did," Lucius said with a sneer.  “Soon no one will remember either of you. And if there’s a  chance that they do. . . Well, let’s just say their pumpkin juice may be spiked. Or a box of tainted chocolates will arrive to their common room. Or they’ll suffer as Slinkhard did – only unlike Severus, I’ll be sure to give it to the right victim.”

Hermione felt her entire body stiffen at this. She recalled Wendy sitting directly across from her, sipping delicately from that water glass before she was a foaming wreck in the hallways.

The fate intended for her. He was going to kill her those weeks ago! Actually murder her!

Of course he was. He’s a Death Eater and you’re a Mudblood.

But he didn’t, another part of her reasoned. He didn’t because he cares for you.

She cast a baleful look in Severus’ direction, horrified when he made no move to explain his actions or even have the decency to look ashamed of himself.  

“And now, we’re done with this little chat,” Lucius finished as he glanced over to where Harry was slumped and bound, his breathing ragged.

“I wonder. . . “ Lucius said with a small smile on his lips. “I wonder what sounds this one will make when I cast an unforgivable on him.”

"NO!" Hermione howled, trying fruitlessly to free herself. “GET AWAY FROM HIM YOU MONSTER!”

Lucius glanced over at Hermione, his eyes narrowing into silver slits. He moved over to her quickly and with a sharp snapping sound slapped her roughly across the face. Hermione winced at the suddenly pain across her cheek before coming to fix him with a level look of fury.

“This one has fight,” Lucius said with an appraising and almost impressed look. As if he were watching a wild stallion win a race.  “I wonder if I should keep her for myself.”

Severus felt his hand turn into an involuntary fist as he watched the other wizard circle Hermione like a shark.

“You’re disgusting.”

Lucius seemed to be deep in thought, walking over to Hermione and ducking as she tried in vain to spit at him. Her hands were gnarled into useless claws, and she tried in vain to scratch at him as he grinned.

"Hmmm," he sighed softly, "what to do with this pathetic creature? Evidently we can't kill her yet. That'll be Tom’s job."

Hermione shook visibly, her eyes falling shut as she tried to still herself. She'd need her energy if she was going to attempt to fight the Dark Lord. Not that she'd even get the chance. She was wandless and getting weaker by the moment. All that could go through her mind was Severus' betrayal. Why hadn't he stopped all of this long before? It didn't occur to her at that time that Severus' betrayal meant a fate worse than death, all that she could feel or see was deceit on his part and it cut her deeply.

"We'll need a simple silencing and complex invisibility and binding spell for transport to the headquarters without detection," Lucius finally said airily, “And to make it easier I say you use some memory altering charms on her as well. Make her a bit more… Pliant.”

“Why not just use Imperio?” asked Draco from the other end of the room.

“It’s more fun this way,” Lucius said with a sickening smirk as he tossed his long hair from his shoulder, his eyes roving Hermione’s shaking body with obscene pleasure. “I like it when they obey of their own accord.”

With that he moved past Hermione, shouldering her as if she were a piece of bothersome drapery before coming to stand next to his taller and darker counterpart. The two of them exchanged somber glances before he finished.

“I believe the answer is clear. You're the most clever when it comes to spells, Severus. So let’s get on with it. Time is of the essence after all."

Severus blinked rapidly, looking to Hermione in a moment of naked anxiety that was quickly masked. He had a job to do. She felt the tears slipping down her cheeks in rivulets, her mouth trembling as she realized this was well and truly the end.

“Of course,” was his murmured reply before he came to stand in front of Hermione.

 Hermione nearly cried out in anguish as she saw the cold acceptance flashing into his eyes. Watching the pale hand that shakily made its way into his cloak and pulled out his wand. His lips were in a thin, determined line as he looked to her with a glassy seal over his usually expressive eyes.

Severus pointed the wand at Hermione then as she let out a gasp. Lucius were a few feet behind giving her a devilish smirk over the tall Severus' shoulders. Hermione saw that Draco had turned his back, covering his ears as well. What a coward.

Hermione prepared to take it like a warrior, like part of Dumbledore's Army. She let her head look skyward, waiting for the inevitable lash of sensation that would mean her doom. A lone tear slipped down her cheek at Severus' betrayal as she looked into his cold eyes.

"Colligo Placidus!"

Severus called out loudly, and Hermione almost expected to see a flash of green coming out to envelop and numb her. She closed her eyes and when feeling nothing, opened them once more. A mere green sparkle had fizzed at the end of the wand in Snape's hand.

She saw Severus giving a perplexed look at the wand in his hands, shaking it a moment and sputtering to himself. The spell hadn't worked? Coming from him of all people? Something was wrong. Severus stood stonily, looking up to her as if angry. Then, just as Hermione thought she'd lost all hope in him, he let out a small and surreptitious wink. It was so quick and fluid, she’d almost believed she’d imagined it.

She was confused at the altercation and then viewed as he held up the wand in front of himself, as if trying to see what the problem was with it. As he did so, Hermione viewed the wand he was using and held in a gasp.

It was her own wand.

He had been using her very faulty wand that could barely cast a healing charm, let alone a paralyzing and binding charm! He'd planned it all along! She suddenly wanted to throw her arms around his neck and hug him for his ingenious move, for Lucius could barely cast spells himself! They were momentarily saved, buying some time.

Lucius came over to Severus from behind, shaking his and and looking to the darker boy. He looked from Hermione back to Severus and gave his friend a quizzical look.

"It's not working in here," Severus said in a calm voice, flipping Hermione's wand around in his hand as if inspecting it. "It must be the shack. We have to leave it. We must get them somewhere else before we depart."

"This wasn't the plan!" Lucius bit off angrily, looking to his friend with a furious gaze. Suddenly his steely eyes saw the wand in Severus' lean, pale fingers. He plucked it out of Severus' grip before he'd had a chance to protest. Hermione and Severus watched as Lucius looked at the dark brown wand, his features suddenly becoming stormy.

"You stupid dolt!" Lucius said angrily, throwing Hermione's faulty wand from his grasp as his eyes met that of Severus'. "This isn't even your wand!" He came close to rigid young man, so close that their noses almost brushed against one another.

"You better not be playing me Severus. You purposely used this wand to buy them time. The only question is why?"

"I must have dropped my own on the way here," Severus said coolly, flicking a speck of dirt off of his robes, looking utterly disenchanted with the blonde man in front of him. "I took hers before we came into the tunnel. Nothing more, nothing less. There's nothing I could do about it."

"Fine," Lucius said with a furious look on his handsome features. Hermione could tell he was trying to formulate another plan, anything that would please his master. Before Severus could continue, Lucius had brandished his own wand and pointed it very roughly against Hermione’s throat. She felt her heart flipping at the sight, but she knew if Severus said anything it would give away the entire future.  He would no longer be trusted by Lucius or Tom Riddle.

She gave a sorrowful look to Draco who looked as if he were about to be ill. Her eyes wandered to Harry, dazed and defeated and finally she looked into the eyes of Severus Snape. Severus’s eyes were still locked with Hermione's and he felt a trickle of sweat go down his left temple. He viewed her shaking body as she tried not to sob, her eyes telling all that he needed to know. He was shaking from the internal battle, for what could he do?

I love him.

She closed her eyes, accepting the darkness when all of a sudden there came a mighty crash from behind them.


Before Lucius could even begin the spell, his wand was knocked from his hand in a sudden purple shock from the other side of the room. He howled and gripped his palm, blowing on it loudly and peering at the figures in the doorway to the tunnel leading into the Shrieking Shack.


It was that tall, red-headed young man from earlier this evening. He darted a look at Severus who was gaping at the man like a fish out of water. Severus was beyond confused, who was this ginger menace?

Hermione's heart sang as she viewed the familiar form of Ron draw into the room, his wand drawn and his eyes fixed on the two young Death Eaters in front of him. His cold eyes, his constant frown. He was here! He’d come to save them!

"Ron!” she called in loudly, her eyes filling with thankful tears as he looked over to her. She saw the panic in his eyes a fleeting moment before he looked back to Severus and Lucius gaping at him in confused horror.

Sirius stood outside the door as well, holding onto the round Peter Pettigrew who was squealing and trying to break away from his death grip. Harry raised his head a moment weakly, giving the faintest of grins.

“Sirius.”

"Remus told me to keep an eye on this creature tonight," Sirius said with a grin to Hermione as she looked to him gratefully. "I suppose it's a good thing I did."

Peter squirmed in Sirius’ grip, looking around the room to the furious Death Eaters.  

"You pathetic traitor," Lucius hissed angrily, gripping his hand still and glaring. "Just wait until the Dark Lord hears of your deceit!"

Suddenly Sirius opened his hand, letting his hold of Peter loosen enough for the little worm to go crawling over to his new friends and comrades. Peter bowed at Lucius' feet, kissing the ground in front of him as Severus looked over in dull shock.

"Forgive me Lucius!" Peter sobbed, tears making their way down his ruddy cheeks as he wailed. "I couldn't help it! They were going to tell everything to Dumbledore if I didn't come! I was trying to save you!"

 “And just who do you think you are?” Lucius sneered at Ron, making to pick up his wand before Ron pointed his own, knocking it out of the man’s reach. It rolled to the entrance of the tunnel, out of anyone’s reach.

“I’m an Auror in training,” Ron replied evenly, looking to the two Death Eaters with so much malice they winced. Lucius didn't answer, sensing now that with this imposing young man in the room, things had changed dramatically. Azkaban was suddenly more real than he'd ever thought possible. In a fleeting moment of panic he looked to the roomful of people.

"Run," Ron said simply, trying his best to sound officious. "Run before I send the lot of you to azkaban!"

The three of them gave the tall red-head a scrupulous look. He looked very in command of the room despite looking around their age. But why was he letting them go? Before they could say anything Ron had moved from blocking their escape route out the tunnel.

"GO!"

They didn't need to be told again, and in a sudden fluid march the three Slytherin’s began rushing for the tunnel entrance, scrambling to get away. It was Severus who lingered last in line, looking to Hermione over his shoulder willfully.

Hermione locked her eyes with him, knowing it was the last time she'd ever see him. She felt a welling within her, a sob starting in her chest as she gazed at him one last time. The young man she'd loved and lost twenty years before she was even born. She couldn't be certain, but she swore his eyes grew wet before he ducked into the tunnel, scurrying after his comrades, surely wondering who the tall ginger boy was and why he had released them.

"What are you doing?" Sirius yelled frantically, trying to break free of Ron’s sudden grip on his arms then. "You're letting them get away! Are you mad!?"

"Obliviate," Ron said with a lazy swish of his wand pointed at the now stoic face of Sirius. The boy stopped struggling in his arms, suddenly shaking his head and blinking as he shot a dazed look at the ginger.

"Where am I?" he asked Ron, rubbing his eyes. "I was just at the dance."

"So you were," Ron said, ushering him out to the tunnel entrance as Sirius in a daze, allowed himself to be guided while Ron continued to speak. "And thank you for showing me to your friend Lupin. I am after all the foremost expert in Lycanthropy.”

"Uh-" Sirius said confused, looking ahead at the tunnel and frowning in confusion. “Right.”

"Now, go back through the tunnel and finish your dance.”

Sirius was shaking his head, his blurry eyes not quite accustomed. "And who are you again?"

"Enough questions," Ron said, pushing him into the tunnel. "Get a move on."

He finished with, closing the door to the tunnel and sealing Sirius off. He then whirled around to Hermione, releasing her from her binds as she fell to the ground, her wrist and ankles aching. She winced as she rubbed the sore spots, looking to the three figures a few yards away. He wrapped her into a tight embrace which she felt herself returning emphatically.

Draco stood shakily looking to Ron who coolly ordered him to step forward. Draco did so, his will suddenly bent. He was in a cold state of shock after what had gone on. Before he could speak, Ron had grasped him by the back of the neck roughly -emitting a yelp from Draco- and they were gone.

Hermione gaped at the empty space a moment, about to move over to Harry when suddenly Ron reappeared before her, looking more peaked than she’d ever seen him. He eyed her a moment before looking over to Harry's limp form on the ground a few feet away.

"What happened to Harry?" Ron asked anxiously. He went to the side of the lifeless Harry, his green eyes glazed and opened wide.

"He's been paralyzed," Hermione said as she limped her way over to him, not noticing as he watched her. "If my wand was working better I-“

"Just stand there,” Ron interrupted. “ I think I know what I'm doing.”

Ron began muttering the spell, his wand traveling the length of Harry’s chest. There were a few taps on his sternum and then Harry was suddenly gasping for air. He made it to a sitting position, coughing and sputtering before his eyes focused on the man standing beside him, looking down with such a familiar gaze.

"Ron?”

"Bloody hell, Harry. What are you trying to do? Kill us all?”

Harry suddenly looked to the near empty shack, his eyes widening further as he struggled to stand. Ron tried his best to help him, giving him a hand up as Harry took in the shrieking shack. He shakily turned, seeing it was just the three of them left.

"What happened?" he asked groggily. “Where are Snape and Malfoy?”

"I let them go. Had to.”

"You what?" Harry asked quietly, much to Hermione's surprise. She'd expected Harry to lose it. Instead he was just swaying, tilting and staring at Snape hardly as he spoke in a quiet tone. "But they tried to kill us."

"I had to let them go!" Ron snapped, his face wet with sweat. "If I alter too much in this time, it will alter the future. I’m scared you might not even exist in the future when we get back, Harry!”

"I think he will," Hermione said softly, remembering Lily and James at the dance, their hands intertwined sweetly.

"Let's go," Ron said moving to the shaking boy, seeing the way his friend’s eyes were rolling back into his head. This was troublesome, and not a normal side effect from the counter curse of a paralyzing spell. He frowned deeply, a crease in his forehead deepening, and he noticed then that Granger was staring at him, her brows furrowed.

"I'll be back for you in a minute Hermione," Ron promised lightly, glancing her over before disappearing with his hand around Harry’s armpit, hoisting him to a standing position. With a pop they were gone in mid air, leaving Hermione in the shack alone with her thoughts. She saw her fallen wand on the floor and picked it up hurriedly, putting it in her pocket and sighing shakily.

Severus. She could still see those dark eyes looking to her with such a mix of anguish and warmth. She would never see him again and the realization hit her  like a bludger to the gut. She felt the sobs taking over her body, so loudly that she didn’t hear Ron return.

“Hermione, it’s okay,” she felt his arms wrap around her from behind. “You’re safe now. We’re going to Dumbledore’s Office. We’re going home.”

It was all wrong. These weren’t the arms that she longed for.

"It's time to go."
 
He was surprised when she spun in his arms, hugging Ron tightly and burying her sobs into his cloak. She wrapped her arms around his middle until he was almost breathless. He held her just as tightly as he began to Apparate them to the Headmasters Office.

Looking down at her pale cheeks pressed against his chest, and her arms tightly wrapped around him,  Ron couldn’t help but have his mind flash to the same embrace she’d shared with the tall boy in the mask. In that moment Ron realized things had changed dramatically between them and the only question was... Could they ever change back?

Chapter Text

With Hermione's arms still around Ron’s waist, they returned into the Headmaster's office in a strange blur. No words were spoken as they appeared in the office with a resounding pop that made the several parties in the room turn in anticipation. Ron was near breathless with Hermione's firm grip still around him when they made their way into the office.

Hermione had her face buried deeply into the chest of his robes and Ron tried to ignore the strange flipping in his stomach. Hermione, his Hermione had been kissing someone else.

How do you know she wasn’t doing it to return home? Perhaps it was part of a plan?

Ron tried to reason this, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it.  She felt very frail against him, as if one shove would send her falling back at an alarming rate. He half assumed this was from her fragile emotional state, and he looked down at the top of her dark head in question before glancing over to see Albus still holding open the time portal.

“Ah, we’ve all returned and just in time,” Albus said nodding towards the golden circle wavering before them. Four pairs of eyes gazed into its welcoming depths, though Harry’s were half-lidded and Draco’s were encased in shadows at the corner of the office.  

“It’s time to return home,” Albus continued looking to Ron and Hermione especially. “But you need to know that the world you return home to, may not be the one you left. Depending on the marks you’ve made during your time here.”

Hermione felt a cold stab go through her abdomen at this realization. What if they didn’t make it? What if Lily and James never went forth with their relationship? What if Severus’ meeting of Hermione had changed his beliefs? Would they still win the war? There was so much that was left in question.

“When you step forward together into this new time, you will feel its effects.”

“Meaning what, exactly?” Ron inquired his arm still casually about Hermione’s shoulders.

“Meaning that the time you step back into will be a future all but you four will know. There is a good chance you will feel as outcasts if there are radical changes. You must be brave and you must soldier on. So is the price of time travel.”

“And the students here?” Ron asked, his concern palpable. “We don’t want to mess about with history. Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, Peter Pettigrew… They saw me. They know our faces.”

“Their memories will be dealt with,” Albus said with a solemn nod.

Hermione felt panic seize her. If that were true then. . . Albus was sure to wipe Severus’ memory! But he wouldn’t forget her would he? Would he forget their time together? Would it be a memory in the back of his mind or would it be completely taken?

What does it matter, Hermione? When you get back to the future, he won’t be there.

A sudden wave of devastating pain ripped through her at the realization that the boy she’d fallen in love with was dead. Dead at the hands of Nagini. So much pain went through her at that moment that Hermione’s knees buckled, sending her to the ground gritting her teeth and silently willing the tears in her eyes to stop from falling.

“Hermione!”

Draco watched as Ron bent down, his arms around Hermione protectively. He continued watching as Ron brought Hermione to a standing position. What was wrong with the girl? She looked as if she were about to shatter into a million pieces. He looked into the girl’s dark eyes and saw it – the look of absolute anguish.

Before she could meet the rest of their eyes, she produced the phials from her robes pocket. The ones she had made with... Him. She handed one to Draco and Harry each.

"For the journey," she said miserably downing its sour contents. The boys followed suit, though Harry did so sluggishly before looking to Hermione. She looked so ito of sorts it disturbed him.

He was about to say something to her when the gold color of the portal seemed to waver and Albus’ voice broke into the thick silence. 

“There’s no time left. You must leave. Grip hands now, yes, all of you,” he looked to Draco who took Hermione’s hand limply. “And make your way through the portal.”

Ron gripped Harry’s hand, pulling him to a standing position.  Hermione’s free hand took Harry’s other hand while Draco pulled on the other. The four of them gave a solemn look to Albus, all knowing without saying that this would be their last chance to see him ever again.

“Goodbye sir,” Ron said with a misty look that Harry matched, even despite his drowsy state.

“Goodbye,” Albus said with a knowing smile as they stepped through the shimmering gold circle hand-in-hand and were suddenly gone.  The sudden silence of the office was deafening and he lowered his wand, the shine of the portal erased and the entire office seeming dimmed. He looked around to the empty air around him.

“Good luck.”

 ***

If Hermione had to describe their return to the future it was as if the four of them had been walking down a very bright, very narrow tunnel at a very high speed towards a large circle of light at the other end.

She could vaguely discern Malfoy's hand in hers, gripping so tightly his nails bit into her wrist. Harry's hand was limp and loose in her own ferocious grip.

There was a low moan that seemed to encase them and it took a moment before Hermione realized it was her.

The light at the end of the tunnel approached so quickly, as if they were swimmers finally coming up for air. However when they reached the end, instead of light flooding them it was blackness.

And then, nothingness.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The first thing Hermione registered was that she was lying down.

The second was that she was under some very warm sheets.

The third was that she was extremely thirsty.

Her eyes shuttered open a moment as she licked her dry lips. The brightness of the daylight hurt her eyes when she widened them and so she winced, bringing a hand up to shield her from it before attempting to prop herself.  As she did, a remarkable feeling of sharp, hot pain shot through her head and she collapsed back onto the bed.

“She’s awake! Call Minerva!”

She could faintly register the sound of Madame Pomfrey’s excited coo before she cracked her eyes open once more to see the Infirmary matron rushing over to her. Everything assaulted her at once – the brightness of the starched robes, the loudness of her voice, the scent of ointment and cotton. She cringed, steadying the sudden onslaught of nausea.

“Miss Granger, oh I’m so glad to see you doing alright,” Poppy exclaimed, pressing a small phial of amber looking liquid into the palm of Hermione’s hand. “Drink this up. It’ll stop the migraine.”

Without asking questions Hermione did as she was told, her muscles immediately relaxing as the cool potion seemed to make its way through her body, taking away the sting of her migraine and loosening her muscles pleasantly.  She blinked rapidly, her panic suddenly seizing her as she realized she was in fact, back in her current time. She glanced over to the curtains on either side of her, giving her privacy but also shielding her gaze.

“Where are Harry and Ron?”

"Mister Wesley is quite well and in the Great Hall having breakfast, I believe.” Pomfrey placed a calming hand on the girl’s shoulder, looking anxiously to her. “Mister PotterPot asleep just as you were until recently.”

Pomfrey stood and pulled back the curtain to Hermione’s bed and a quick glance told her that Harry and was asleep a few beds down. Relief flooded her, causing her to go slightly lightheaded. They had all made it back alive. Thank Merlin. A small niggle in the back of her head prompted her next inquiry.

“And Draco?”

“He was up a few hours after Mister Weasley. He was in fine health so I sent him on his way.”

Hermione felt completely out of sorts, glancing around the infirmary wildly.  It looked the same as when they had left – but was that any real indication? Yes, Poppy was the same. Harry and Ron and Draco had made it back. But what if something dark was waiting in the darkness?

“Voldemort…Did we win?”

“Oh my dear,” Poppy was about to say something more when McGonagall burst through the doors, looking every bit the furious Gryffindor and Headmistress. Her boots clacked on the stone floor as she drew over to her favorite student and fixed her with an even glare.

“Miss Granger!”

“Headmistress,” Hermione said, trying to contain the joy she felt at the woman’s presence. She was alive and well! She couldn’t help but be glad for it, despite the even look the woman was shooting her. McGonagall glanced over at Madame Pomfrey, her gaze softening a moment.

“Poppy do you mind giving us a bit of privacy?”

Pomfrey gave a curt nod before pulling the curtains around Hermione’s bed, leaving Minerva and she in a small square. Minerva quickly cast the Muffalato spell, giving them additional privacy before fixing Hermione with a dark stare.

“You were given that time turner for your studies, Miss Granger. When we met this summer you assured me that you could be trusted with it. That you would be discreet in your possession of it and that you wouldn’t do anything that may jeopardize our present, did you not?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Imagine my confusion when I found out that you had taken this said time turner – one of the last of its kind I might add- and gone traipsing about in the past. Do you have any idea what could have happened?”

“Yes ma’am,” Hermione’s cheeks burned red in shame and indignation.  “I agree that it was a stupid thing to do.”

At this Minerva seemed to have the furious wind in her sails taken out. She sighed and sat at the edge of Hermione’s bed and gave her a concerned look.

“Why did you do it, Miss Granger? It’s not like you at all.”

“I agree,” Hermione said, risking a glance over to where she knew Harry was lying. “You see, Harry wanted to see his parents one last time. I know I shouldn’t have allowed it, but…”

She trailed off, not wanting to say anything more than may get Harry in trouble. Stealing property such as a time turner was a highly illegal act. Minerva pursed her lined mouth, fixing her gaze on Hermione with reproach.

“And you decided to stay in the past why?”

“The time turner was damaged,” Hermione said, indicating with the empty chain she wore around her neck. “The minute we got to the past it broke. I tried to get Dumbledore to get me a new one but they were illegal in his time. That’s why I had to do the spell. But finding it, plus all the ingredients was tricky. Not only that, but our wands were rubbish back there – fairly useless.”

She continued on, explaining the entire trip from start to finish, including Malfoy’s malfeasance. Minerva’s eyes got bigger with each passing moment until Hermione finally finished in a huff, explicitly leaving out any romantic altercation she had with Snape.

After a moment of silence, the Headmistress nodded slowly, her mind taking in the information and she gave a small pause.

“I suppose you need a bit of a catch up,” Minerva offered quietly as Hermione nodded. “You, Mister Potter and Mister Malfoy have been gone a little over a week in our time. Your classmates have not been informed as to the nature of your departure and I suggest you adopt the excuse we’ve come up with – a sick relative.”

“Of course,” Hermione agreed, ever the perfect student. “I can say it was my aunt.”

“Very good,” Minerva said with a nod.

“What about Harry?”

“Mister Potter is no longer a student here and therefore a visitor. When he is well enough to rise, he will be sent to Saint Mungo’s for further treatment. His Auror training will be decided by his training officer.”

“And Draco?”

Minerva winced slightly at the name, obviously not looking forward to what was to come next.

“If what you claim about Mister Malfoy is proven true, he will be summarily dismissed from Hogwarts and as he is of age, likely be sentenced to Azkaban.”

Hermione winced at this, despite Malfoy’s horrible behavior to know that he would be sent to the same place his father had gone mad gave her pause. Minerva looked down at the young girl, seeing the flurry of emotions that passed her face. She’d known Hermione since she was eleven and if anything she was the only reason that they’d survived.

“Thank you for all you did,” Hermione said, her eyes filling with warm tears. “I know you must have gone to so much trouble to get us back. I know it must have been hard on you all.”

Minerva felt a lump come to her throat which she swallowed thickly. “Miss Granger-“

“I’d like to see Harry, if that’s alright,” Hermione interrupted as she reached for the blue cotton dressing gown next to her bed.

“Very well.”

Hermione pulled the dressing gown on as Minerva stood, waiting for her. Throwing back the covers, Hermione shakily made her way from her cot over to where her friend lay sleeping, his eyes moving rapidly behind his eyelids.

“Seems I’ll need some more Wideye potion,” Pomfrey tsked, glancing up as the two women approached, looking nervously from one to the other. “I’m concerned that Mister Potter doesn’t seem to be close to waking up.”

Hermione looked at the doting woman and was about to say something to her, an utterance of thanks when her eyes were drawn to Harry’s right hand. She rushed over to him, pulling back the sleeve of his sleeping garment and held in a low moan.

There, leading from his middle finger all the way to his elbow was a hideous, jagged scar. It looked as if he’d been hit by lightning as the scars branched off in all directions.  It was horrifying thing to see and Hermione felt her breath leave her at the sight. The most confusing of all was that it didn’t look fresh – it looked months old at least.

“What’s happened to him?” Hermione cried out, gripping Harry’s hand tenderly as if it were a small bird as she looked at the damage. “What’s happened to his arm?”

“What do you mean?” Pomfrey asked with a furrowed brow. Minerva drew closer, placing a comforting hand on Hermione’s shaking shoulder.  

“This scar!” Hermione exclaimed, holding her friend’s hand tightly and looking to the women before her in horror. “What on earth happened when we got back? How did he get this?”

The two women glanced at one another before simultaneously looking back to the frightened girl at the side of Harry Potter.

“Hermione, it happened that night,” Poppy said, giving Hermione a queer look. “The night Voldemort fell.”

“Don’t you remember?” McGonagall added, looking to Hermione in concern. “He wasn’t quite able to dodge the Sectumsempra spell properly. Took a mighty beating to his arm, but all was well. He can still use it and he even said he liked that scar. Said at least he properly earned that one.”

The woman gave a humorless chuckle, but Hermione couldn’t help but feel her stomach flip at her words. As soon as they said it she could remember – the fight, the blood that poured from the wound. It was as if it were a memory she was trying to recall from a dream becoming clearer. But… Had it always been like that?

“Wait… Has anything else changed?”

“Changed?” Minerva furrowed her brow.

“Voldemort is dead but who else? Did Dumbledore survive? Is-”

“Miss Granger,” Pomfrey interrupted, looking to the flushed and wild-eyed young woman. “ I think you need to return to bed. You’ve obviously not recovered from your trip back.”

Hermione registered Pomfrey’s hand on her elbow, leading her back to the cot and pulling the covers up to her chin, tucking her in gently. Hermione’s eyes were wide, confusedly looking from Minerva to Poppy.

Collect yourself, Hermione. Remember what Dumbledore said. Things might be a bit different here. Stop creating chaos. Just relax and move on. Voldemort is dead, everyone who was alive is alive.

Hermione turned onto her side and forced herself back to sleep. Perhaps she was still weary from the trip. Perhaps her mind really was still all over the place. And perhaps… Before she could pontificate further she felt the lull of sleep calling and her eyes fell shut in silent surrender.

Chapter Text

 Draco felt his heart beating a brutal staccato against his rib cage as he rushed through the halls of Hogwarts under the guise of his Notice-Me-Not charm. He’d managed to get his wand back and break out of McGonagall’s office thanks to a friendly and rather chauvinistic portrait– but who knew how long until she returned? Who knew how long before she sentenced him to Azkaban?

He closed his mouth tightly as Professor Flitwick walked by, speaking animatedly to a tall female Professor that Draco didn’t recognize. He gripped his wand in his pocket, his other hand tightly around his broom. He would need to make a quick get-away – one that couldn’t be traced by an apparate. He knew where to go, he just needed to get there.

His plan was already put into action and he couldn’t believe his good luck. He had the galleons and he had the motivation. All he needed now was a few months and then… He didn’t have time to dwell on that now. He could hear students coming up the stairs towards him and he needed to act fast.

He held his breath as two Ravenclaw’s passed, speaking quickly about astronomy class before rounding the corner. It was almost luncheon and the rest of them would be littering the halls, making it impossible for him to escape undetected. As it was, the wards to Hogwarts would surely alert the headmistress to his departure and he had to be quick about it.

He rushed out the large front door, grabbing his broom and waiting until he’d made it to the edge of the Forbidden forest. He glanced into its darkened depths and smirked, thinking of how at one time what lay within that deep forest scared him. It had been a luxury to be scared of such a thing. Now he’d seen too much to be chilled by anything. That part of him had died in Malfoy Manor.

He jumped onto the broom, feeling its comfortable and familiar planes before taking a deep breath and taking off with a jolt.  At first he was gliding through the treetops, making use of their natural camouflage. When he felt their leaves softly dance along his cheeks he let himself smile for the first time since he’d returned.

Hogwarts was behind him.

For now.

***

Ron sat in the Great Hall trying his best to eat something. It had been hours since he’d been awake, but being in the Great Hall without Harry or Hermione felt… foreign. He smiled and gave weak waves to his friends when he saw them. But now, surrounded by upbeat chattering students he felt summarily awful.

Yes it seemed that all was as it should be. Voldemort was dead, the friends around him were alive and everyone was safe. But still his mind stuck to only one thing: The kiss. What had Hermione been doing back then all this time? Who was that tall boy she’d been with?

A stab of jealousy ran through him, strong as when he had worn that cursed locket and been sure of Hermione’s love for Harry. It was vitriolic and surging and made him feel nauseated and furious all at once.

It didn’t help that they’d barely had any time together since the fall of Voldemort.

Had he not proven his love for Hermione a thousand times in their time together? Helping to save her from a troll, sticking up for her in classes, thinking of her S.P.E.W. interests and more and more and more. How could she have just callously tossed that aside the minute she was away from him?

You’re being unreasonable. Hermione would never do that.

It was true, he couldn’t argue with that. Hermione had never shown even the slightest interest in anyone else. She played chess with him even though she openly hated it. The summers they spent together before Harry arrived. The way she’d Confunded Mclaggen to ensure he got the spot of Keeper. The list of their shared moments went on and on.  She’d always been there – entwined up in his life in school, at home in the Burrow. He supposed when they got together it just felt right.  It was like a puzzle piece finally slipping into place and making the entire picture whole.

At least that’s how he had felt up until he’d seen her. It was the face she’d made that upset him the most. The look in her eyes – this open lust he’d never seen her show for him.

Ron and she had kissed a bit, no time for more than that before she was off to Australia to find her parents. But during their moments of intimacy her face had never worn anything close to the burning desire so evident in her eyes.

But with that tall boy? She had been different – a woman of sexual need and wants. Something he sometimes had trouble rectifying in his mind. The way she touched and kissed him was tentative, gentle. With the boy in the dance she had been needful and pliant.

Ron could feel eyes on him and he glanced up from his soup to see several first years giving him a frightened look. He realized he was scowling openly, quite frightfully if his reflection in the soup bowl told him anything. He dropped the spoon with a clatter and stood before making his way out the door.

He had to talk to Hermione.  

***

She didn’t know how long it was before she was roused again by the sound of boots marching briskly across the stone floor. She kept her eyes closed and pulled her blanket up over her head, not completely awake. She didn’t want to quite come back into this world.

Not only did she have so many questions and concerns about this time. But there was a key figure missing. A figure that as she thought about him, caused Hermione’s eyes to well up. She sniffled under the confines and privacy of her scratchy blue blanket and tried not to sob aloud.

He wasn’t here.

She would never see him again. The very thought made her want to retch. The young man she’d fallen for – so different than his older counterpart (in truth she sometimes forgot that Severus turned into Snape). He was a separate entity, like a strange dream. He had betrayed her so cruelly and yet… He had also tried to save her. It was a conflict of emotions that had her all over the place. She hated that she was torn at all. She was back here with Ron after all!

Oh dear Ron!

Hermione quietly despaired, thinking of her dear boyfriend (was he still her boyfriend?) and the trouble he had gone through. How long had he been at the dance? Had he seen her with Severus? The thought made a knot in her stomach tighten painfully.

She loved Ron. She’d always loved Ron. Being with him was natural and easy (save for when they were bickering about something silly). She laughed at his jokes and she was good-natured when he was being a bellend. She loved his bright smile and the way his red hair shone in the sunlight.  And when he had shown genuine concern for the house elves during the final battle, Hermione had felt a welling akin to pure elation before she’d leapt into his arms.

He was a good man. And he loved her. So why did she feel this hollowness in her chest?

The boots she heard quietly marching across the infirmary came to a stop and Hermione did her best to stop her sniffling. She didn’t need an audience for her maudlin emotions. Likely this was just a side effect from time travel after all.

“Oh thank you,” Pomfrey said and Hermione could hear the tinkling of glass phials being passed from one person to the next. “I hadn’t realized the Wideye supply was running so low.”

Hermione could hear the shuffling of boots before a response came low and silken.

“So it would seem. Do try to keep better track of your inventory. Making medicinal potions in my own personal time isn’t something I want to get in the habit of, especially when they involves copious amounts of billywig sting and take up my best copper cauldron.”

Hermione’s eyes immediately darted open, her entire body tensing at the voice.

No. It wasn’t possible. 

Professor Slughorn was the Potions professor at Hogwarts in this time. Not only that but… He…Him…He was dead. She knew. She'd seen it happen.

She could hear Pomfrey giving a taciturn reply before the sound of his boots began to quickly move away. Hermione whipped the blanket off of her head just in time to see his sneering face make its way past her best and out into the hall. She watched in mute shock as his black cloaks billowed out from behind him, bringing to mind an oversized bat.

Before Hermione fell into a sudden faint, one singular thought went with her into the abyss:

Severus Snape was alive.  

Chapter Text

When Hermione finally awoke from her groggy mindset it was to Ron standing over her, giving her a severe look. The sight of him there, looking to her so seriously caused tears to well in her eyes immediately. She sat up briskly, her eyes never leaving his.

"Ron," she blubbered, pulling him into a desperate hug that surprised them both. "It’s so good to see you. I was so scared."

Ron returned the hug emphatically, feeling idiotic for coming to see her in such a huff. Just having her in his arms feel right and safe. And she was trembling in his arms, obviously still out of sorts. A pang of regret went through him, followed quickly by guilt.

“How are you feeling?” Ron sat at the edge of the bed, holding her right hand in his. She wiped her damp eyes with the back of her left hand and forced a watery smile on her face.

“Completely knackered and terrified.”

“Terrified?”

“I don’t know what’s changed here,” Hermione said slowly, not wanting to even speak Severus’ name aloud. “But I know things aren’t the same as we left. The only thing I do know is that it’s September and that we all survived coming back.”

Ron looked at her as if she’d said something monumental, his normally animated face rather drawn and serious.

"Things have gone absolutely pear shaped," Ron said simply, his tone serious. "Before you woke up, I was on my way up from the Great Hall and ran into Professor Flitwick. I asked him about the potion Slughorn made and he got all twitchy and looked at me like I was a total pillock. Then he told me that Slughorn didn’t see the end of the final battle and that I should see Madame Pomfrey because I was obviously ill.”

“What!?” Hermione’s eyes were wide, blinking rapidly. How was this possible? Slughorn was dead? And Severus alive? Harry had some strange scar up his arm that they claimed he’d always had?

All of a sudden the information seemed to be seeping into her brain, affixing itself to her memories like a strange parasite. The scar, Slughorn’s death, it was all seeming to appear foreign and familiar all at once, giving her a splitting headache.

“It's strange,” Ron said before she could interject further. “I know they've changed but suddenly I can remember it like it actually happened. Almost like I've been living my life wrong all this time."

"I know what you mean," Hermione agreed with a slow shake off her head. "It's like living two lives. One before we went back in time and now this. It's like they're melting into one another. I suppose it's a side effect of the time travel."

The two grew quiet, looking solemnly to the blankets over Hermione’s lap. It seemed so isolating to be in a future that only they knew. How would they ever catch up? Would they forever be bumping into people, events, moments that were utterly foreign? How much had truly changed?

“I wonder if I’ll even be able to pass my NEWTS now,” Hermione said, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. “What if everything is messed about? How will I pass if I remember the wrong things?”

Ron gave a barking laugh which surprised them both. Hermione looked to see Ron shaking his head incredulously at her.

“You’re utterly mad,” he said with a large smile. “The world changes and all you can be arsed to care about is whether you’re going to do well on your NEWTS.”

“My NEWTS are important!” Hermione defended with a small giggle.

“Ah, well it’s good to know not everything is changed,” Ron said with a laugh. The  two lapsed from small giggles into silence once more before looking at the empty space between them, contemplative.

“I can see why you mustn’t mess about with time travel,” Hermione said hollowly. “Because only the travelers know what happened. When you come back to the future, it’s the future everyone else knows. It’s like forever living as an outsider.”

“Well at least we experienced it together,” Ron said warmly, squeezing her hand gently and giving her a small smile. “Plus Harry. At least the three of us will remember together. It’s always been us against the world, eh? Why should now be any different?”

Hermione cast a grateful look up to Ron, about to reply that he was wonderful when she felt his mouth cover hers. It was quick and a bit wet, but it was gentle and comforting and she was still too tired to do much more than acquiesce.

“I missed you,” he told her gently as he pulled back. “I was so worried I’d never see you again.”

Hermione smiled weakly, unable to say anything more when Madame Pomfrey opened the curtains around the bed and popped her head in.

“Mister Weasley, I told you, Miss Granger needs to sleep as much as possible. Out with you!”

Ron flashed a boyish smile in Hermione’s direction before pressing a quick kiss to her temple and rushing out of the infirmary. Pomfrey shook her head in a most frustrated manner and drew over to Hermione’s still sitting up in bed.

“Here you are,” Pomfrey said handing the girl a small brown phial. “Something to help with the fatigue. A fairly normal side effect, don’t you worry. You’ll be as right as rain in a few days.”

“And Harry?”

“I’m afraid Mister Potter has been moved to Saint Mungo’s.”

“What?” Hermione nearly leapt out of the bed in horror.  

“He is no longer a student of Hogwarts and is therefore not under my care,” Pomfrey explained pragmatically, pushing Hermione gently back to her seated position in the bed. “I ensured that he was in a stable condition before the staff came to retrieve him. Don’t worry, he’s under a pseudonym in the best and most private room they have. He will not be disturbed.”

“I’m not worried about him being disturbed!” Hermione insisted, her cheeks reddening with frustration. “I’m worried about him being alright!”

“I wouldn’t worry yourself,” Pomfrey soothed with a knowing smile. “Returning from deep time travel can be a very tricky thing. Some bounce back immediately, while others need a bit longer.”

“But how long do you think until he’s awake?” Hermione demanded, wanting nothing more than to speak to the one other person who had truly experienced the past as she had. Save for Malfoy of course, but she had no desire to see him ever again.

“In my medical periodicals I believe the longest time to return to a normal, conscious state was three months. And considering the years you all traveled I’m hardly surprised that he’s taking a long while than normal to come back to us. I conferred with the Healers at St. Mungo’s and they were in agreement, especially due to the emotional component of your time there.”

This explanation satisfied Hermione for the moment, but her mind still whirred. Harry was in St. Mungo’s, Slughorn was dead, Snape was alive… What else had changed? She needed to do some serious investigative work into this ‘new’ future of hers.  

“Do you think I might have the Daily Prophet for the last six months or so?”  Hermione asked, looking to Pomfrey with a hopeful look.  The woman was tucking her blankets in and attempting to fluff the pillow behind her head.

“If you promise to drink that,” Pomfrey indicated to the phial in the girl’s hand. “I will ensure you have them when you wake up.”

Hermione nodded politely before tipping back the drink into her mouth. It scorched a fiery trail down her throat and into her belly.  It seemed to invigorate her from the inside out but also tasted faintly of flowers and seemed to stick to the roof of her mouth.

“I’ve never heard of this potion,” Hermione said, forever the inquisitive student as she held the phial up to the light, noticing the flecks of what seemed like asphodel root at the bottom.

“One of Professor Snape’s latest inventions,” Pomfrey said off-handedly as she continued to tuck the girl’s blankets in.

She started when the empty phial tumbled from Hermione’s hand and onto the floor with a smash.  

Chapter Text

 Still situated in the hospital bed of the infirmary, Hermione spread out the litany of newspapers on her lap. All had been shrunk down the size of a two pence. She had been reading for hours and during this, she had found so much information on the last six months that her mind was whirring.

Rita Skeeter’s article only a few hours after the final battle had been illuminating and extremely helpful. Likely the only time the horrible woman had ever made life easier for Hermione.

The final battle had happened in much the same way as she remembered. The only difference was that an unnamed death eater had managed to hit Harry with a sectum sempra, causing the boy’s scar. Sprout had been in the midst of fighting a tall dark wizard and had her pinky finger had been hexed clean off. She showcased it proudly for the newspaper, citing that a pinky was a small price to pay for the fate of wizarding-kind.

A paper from days later had detailed that Horace Slughorn had been taken down by several hexes during the war and died surrounded by his many admirers in St Mungo's a week later. His funeral had been massive, flowers from all over the world had littered the room and with a variety of effusive praises from individuals of all manner of celebrity during the ceremony. It was a service that would have suited none other than Horace Slughorn.

"He would have loved that," Hermione said to herself, wiping the tears from her cheek. So far this had been the hardest thing for her to read. Knowing that this sweet man was no longer walking about, running his beloved parties caused her heart to clench. A part of her recalled McGonnagal’s warning in her third year.

"You understand the danger of time travel, Miss Granger?"

"Yes ma'am." Hermione had been nodding eagerly, her dark eyes on the time Turner in the box before her. "I read all the literature from the Ministry."

"And I will reiterate that you must only go to your classes,” Minerva said strictly. “Nothing more. No trips around Hogsmeade. No extra lie-ins. Any diversion from your schedule will result in punishment and possibly expulsion."

"Of course, Professor."

"Time demands fairness,” McGonagall added in a strange voice. “And as with all things, time will eventually come to collect."

"Fairness?" Her fourteen year old self had asked. This hasn't been a part of her ministry-instructed reading when applying for the time Turner. Fairness being attributed to something as abstract as time had her puzzled.

"Yes fairness. Time can be a brutal thing," McGonagall explained her thin mouth growing tense. "Greedy and demanding. But it demands recompense. If you take from it, it will take back."

"I don't understand," Hermione had admitted, her cheeks flushing from the admission. She didn’t enjoy being uneducated in anything, especially in front of her Head of House.  But McGonagall had done nothing other than shake her head.

"I pray you never will, Miss Granger."

Now sitting there surrounded by papers  Hermione realized the wisdom in McGonagall's words.

***

Ron sat at the side of Harry’s in Saint Mungo’s, his blue eyes bleary.  He hadn’t felt right being at Hogwarts, stuck with all those peering faces. All wanting an autograph or the first years wanting to hear firsthand how frightening Voldemort was.

It was bloody annoying and Ron decided he would rather hole up here with Harry in his private room than risk being surrounded by flashbulbs and eager questioning from all who saw him. He knew Rita Skeeter had heard that Harry was in hospital, but thankfully the wards had held her out.

It had been a hard couple of days. Returning home and he still hadn’t spoken to Hermione about her foray into the past. It seemed not worth it – they were home safe and how did it matter how they did it? What did it matter what she did when she was in the past? Ron knew resolutely that anything she had done, she had done to help them escape back to their time. When he was feeling more up to it, he’d ask her.

But as of right now he felt nothing but somber. This world was not as he left it. Instead he had found out when he returned home the other night for a bit of supper that things had changed but not necessarily for the better or worse.

“C’mon mate,” Ron said, whispering to his friend who despite outward appearances was not doing well. He was growing thin and no manner of potion was waking him. “You need to wake up. I need to talk to you.”

Molly had prepared him supper last night, inviting him over. He hadn’t spoken to anyone of his adventure back in time and at McGonagall’s suggestion, he doubted that he ever would. Who would believe him?

The only person he had given somewhat of a hint to was Ginny who was surprised she hadn’t heard from Harry in over a week. Ron had given some pathetic excuse about work being mad and Harry having to stay behind to do extra projects. When she had tried to push him further he had started to ignore her and dashed over to Molly who was muttering to herself whilst stirring a large pot.

“Soup’s on!”

Ron had kissed her forehead, holding out his plate and preparing for her to drop a spoonful of spaghetti onto it when all of a sudden a tall and lanky figure appeared in the doorway. Without warning Ron had dropped the plate to the ground, his face growing pale.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“Ron,” Molly admonished. “Pick up that dish immediately! And language!”

Ginny was looking queerly at her brother, noticing the trembling of his lower lip and the thick choking sound emanating from him. He had made no move to retrieve the dish or its contents and was instead backing away as if seeing Voldemort himself.

“Ron,” Arthur said gently. “You heard your mother.”

“Is everyone bloody mental?” Ron demanded his eyes so wide the white showed all around the pupil. “Are you all seeing who I am?”

“You mean this gorgeous creature before you?”  Fred said with a laugh, entering more fully into the room and giving Ron a strange look.

The boy rushed over, fairly tackling his older brother to the ground and insisting on seeing his ear. With trembling fingers Ron saw that his brother’s ear was in fact intact. This was not George. This was Fred. Fred who had died in the final battle. Fred who hadn’t had his ear damaged.

“You died!” Ron shouted, his eyes filling with tears.

“What?” all the humor in Fred’s eyes were gone, replaced by a piteous hollow look.

“What’s going on?” Ron screamed into his face. “You died! You died!”

“RON!” Molly shouted as she and Arthur pulled the boy from off of Fred. “That’s a horrible thing to say!”

“This is wrong!” Ron had insisted, feeling as if his tenuous touch of reality was slipping through his fingers. “The wrong twin died!”

At this Molly had walked across the room and slapped Ron harshly against the cheek before breaking into blubbering sobs and running from the room. Ginny sat gob smacked at the table and Fred could only look at the ground with tears slipping down his face.

It had been too awful. Too horrible to try and explain. And so Ron had dashed over to St. Mungo’s, only to see Harry still asleep and worse for wear.  It was as if his brother had died all over again, except this time it was George. George the impossible flirt and creative genius. The brother that no longer existed.

Now Ron sat at Harry’s bedside and for the first time in several days, he lowered his face into his hands and allowed himself to cry.

***

Hermione continued to go through the papers on her lap, her eyes bleary but never stopping. She had been reading for the better part of the day and now she glanced up to see the sky darkening outside her window.

“Here you are my dear,” Poppy said, administering another potion that Hermione didn’t recognize but made her insides feel warm and cozy.  She drank it down and finished the dinner that had been left for her but she hadn’t noticed.

“Thank you.” Hermione watched as Poppy left her side, going to tend to a new young first year that had just walked through the door covered in pus-oozing sores. Hermione winced before going back to her reading.

After a few hours she found it - There it was, an updated list of the dead.  This would be the quickest way to find out if any other ugly surprises waited for her.  Her eyes skimmed the familiar names of the fallen in the great war.  So many great wizards and witches dead. And then suddenly her eyes saw it- a name that rattled her.

Dead: George Weasley 1978 – 1998.

Twenty years old. A child. Even though she had gone through the same emotions with Fred dying, she couldn’t help but feel a fresh wash of tears slip down her cheeks. Without thinking further she grabbed a nearby quill, ink and parchment, writing hurriedly.

Ron, I’ve just read. I don’t know if you’ve been home but it’s important you write me back. I found this in my reading today. I’m so sorry. If you need me you know where I am. I am here for whatever you need.

Hermione.

Inside the envelope she stuffed the list of the dead, wondering if her friend had even seen it yet. Would it be a horrible way to find out? She didn’t have time to think, having asked Madame Pomfrey to send it out immediately. The mediwitch did so with a curt nod, not particularly pleased to be a mail messenger.

Hermione leaned back on her pillow, wondering when she would finally be released. She wanted to go home a few days. Get her bearings and then come back to classes refreshed. It was only a week she was behind, she could always do her studying from home the next week or so. She just needed some time to thing, to re-adjust to this new reality.

She was still deep in thought when the doors to the Infirmary opened dramatically and with equal subtly Professor Snape strode into the Infirmary, walking towards Pomfrey with several phials of what Hermione recognized as Pepper-Up. She stared openly at him, her heart beating madly and unable to form a coherent thought.

He was there, inches from her, moving past her bed and striding with purpose towards Poppy. He smelled strongly of spicy potions – he must have just come from the dungeons. A faint waft of peppermint reached Hermione’s nose and she realized she had been correct in assuming the phials were full of pepper-up.

“As requested,” he said dimly, his baritone reverberating in the fairly empty room. He handed the phials to the older witch. “But consider this my last act of charity. I’ve my own lessons to tend to.”

“Many thanks,” Pomfrey said, choosing to ignore the man’s icy tone. He had done much for the school and for the fate of wizard-kind but that didn’t mean she didn’t feel like giving him a thrashing every now and again.

Hermione felt as if she were being transported. The way he held the phials in his long fingers, just as he had when in the past. The dark hair that hung just below his ears was still stringy and a perfect curtain to shut out the outside world. 

She couldn’t stop openly staring at him, even as he’d made an abrupt turn and headed for the exit. Before she could mask get observation he'd suddenly stilled at the foot of her bed. 

It was as if her gaze was electric and she watched as her dour Professor glanced over to her frame trembling in the bed. He noted that she was surrounded by papers from the last six months and he realized it must be the time travel.

How like Hermione Granger to already be studying up as if her life were one large N.E.W.T. exam. He almost scoffed aloud at the thought when he noticed her dark eyes were wide and still focused solely on him as if mapping his face and frame as he walked by.

Immediately he was irritated at the silent inspection, wondering what the girl was thinking and finding it unnerving that she wasn’t looking away when he fixed her with his most withering stare.

He could read her mind of course, but that came only with dire situations and wasn’t something he enjoyed any longer.  However the way she was staring at him, piercing him with that look of naked hunger was disconcerting.

“What are you staring at, Miss Granger?”

Hermione dropped her eyes back to her paper, unable to actually look him in the face any longer. If she had to stare into those eyes, those eyes which held no regard or remembrance she would shatter into a million pieces.

“Nothing sir.”

Only a small huff of air through his large nose gave her indication he’d heard her. Within seconds his boots had marched out the door of the infirmary, closing it behind him with finality.  

She stared after that closed door for what felt like an eternity, until Madame Pomfrey announced it bedtime and

“He doesn’t remember,” she whispered to herself, suddenly aching painfully all over. “No, I must concentrate. I need to know all that happened.”

As if by some cruel twist of fate, Hermione flipped to the next newspaper and felt her heart sink as she read the headline.

Former Spy Finds Love at last?

There it was. A flashbulb gone off and a very pissed off Professor Snape and ‘unnamed witch’ on his arm glaring out at Herimone from the aged newspaper. He glowered into the camera before he and his date headed into the building.  

It it possible that our very own anti-hero has finally found love? Severus Snape, Order of Merlin second class, has been found in the company of an unnamed witch every day this week. Sources say they are often found cozying up with a bottle of wine and chatting until the wee hours of the morning. Says one source “…[They] talk for hours. Barely come up for air. Hate to be disturbed but tip well.” Could wedding bells be in our double agents’ future? It would-

She couldn’t read anymore.

As if she had been punched in the stomach, Hermione dropped the paper onto the bed with a strangled cry. Thankfully it was late and the infirmary empty aside from her, the sleeping first year and a drowsing Poppy.

It can’t be. He’s mine. He loved me.

No, another voice reasoned. He loved Hermione Lockheart. And she’s gone along with all his other memories of you, thanks to Albus in the past. As far as he knows you never existed until your first year. It’s as if you never went to the past at all.

Hermione rolled onto her side, her dark eyes narrowing in thought as she pursed her lips at the darkness.  This was the future that she must now know. The future where she had tasted Snape’s lips and not found wanting.

 A future where George Weasley was dead instead of Fred and Slughorn had followed suit. A future where Harry was more battle scarred and Snape was alive.  Snape was alive and he didn’t remember her. A world that she couldn’t quite fathom was real yet seemed more likely with each passing moment.

She felt her chin quivering as she looked out into the darkness, her entire body shaking with unused tears. In time she felt the small droplets making their spiraling trail down from her eye to her cheek and then silently onto the pillow she rested her head on.  She let her lips form the name she could never speak of again.

"Severus."

Chapter Text

By the time she woke up the next morning, Hermione had decided to put all thoughts of Severus out of her head. There was nothing to be done there. She'd need to move on.

"Harry," she suddenly said to herself, throwing the covers from her body and standing beside the bed with a resolute thud. "I must see Harry."

An hour later and McGonagall wasn't thrilled with the idea.

"St Mungo's is taking fine care of him."

"I need to see him," Hermione explained tiredly. It felt as if she'd been running a marathon the last week. "I can't explain it."

After much hemming and hawing she had permitted Hermione to leave for the morning as long as she was back for afternoon classes.

"You've missed quite enough already," she chided, passing Hermione her timetable. A quick scan of the parchment informed Hermione she had charms this afternoon and...

Fuck.

No.

Double Potions.

A tremor went through her.

"I'm not ready for that."

"Ready for what?"

Ron had agreed to accompany her before heading off back to auror training and he drew into the infirmary, watching as Hermione pulled her robes overtop her jeans and jumper, thrusting the parchment hastily into her pocket.

"To see Harry," she lied, leading the way out into the corridor with the gangly ginger behind her. He looked upset and as if he hadn't slept a wink all night.

“Doesn't feel right," be commented as they made their way out the large Castle door. "Going back to training without him feels wrong. We’ve always done things together. We’re more brothers than friends."

"I know," Hermione said softly. Moments later they had apparated to St. Mungo’s. Or more accurately, a rundown red-bricked building called “Purge and Dowse Ltd”.  

They took a moment to pause outside the building. They knew every time they went somewhere public there was a chance for public mobbing. Ron and Harry had found that out the hard way in Diagon Alley when shopping one afternoon in the summer.

An elderly man sat out front, smelling strongly of alcohol and holding a small tin can in his lap. He didn’t notice them or even turn his head when they approached the building.

“Wait!”

A familiar voice rang out from behind them and the two of them stopped in surprise. Ginny ran towards them, her coppery hair in a tight plait down her back. Her eyes were bright.

“What are you doing here?” Hermione said, gathering her friend into a tight hug which the the girl returned fervently.

“I could ask you the same!” Ginny said, her voice animated. “Imagine going to see Harry without inviting me!”

“It’s not like that Gin,” Ron explained in a hush, unable to meet her eyes after all that had occurred earlier in the week. “We didn’t think you’d want to see him like….”

“I’m going to visit my boyfriend,” Ginny said with a flush, noticing as Ron trailed off. “And I don’t care what you say, just like I didn’t care when McGonagall tried to tell me that I couldn’t join you. So let’s stop dallying and get on with it.”

She couldn’t quite meet Ron’s eyes, after all he’d said earlier this week and how odd he’d been acting she felt as if he were a stranger.

“Wait,” Hermione said, suddenly feeling herself. “Does McGonagall know you’re here?”

“She doe

When there was a break in the traffic on the street, Hermione and Ron wordlessly crawled through one of the cracked looking windows before stepping into the bustling hospital.

The wand and bone emblem blazed before them, familiar and foreboding. It was frightening to be here – Madame Pomfrey’s seemed less intimidating, less scary. Here was where the more serious magical cases came to rest.

 A steady stream of Healers in lime green robes and patients of all ages were milling about at the front reception. Hermione noticed with vague interest that one witch was standing uncomfortably against one of the walls, trying in vain to cover the fox’s tail that sprouted from underneath her dress. Another man with several branches sprouting from his forehead was casually flipping through an outdated Witch’s Weekly.

Hermione and Ron moved past the individuals in rickety chairs and drew to the receptionist who looked frazzled. Her many moles seemed to make a pattern on her ruddy cheek. As she wrote something down before her she grimaced. She could sense the two approaching but she didn’t look away from the parchment she was furiously scribbling on.

“What can I help you with?” the witch sniffed, barely looking up from her typing.

“We’re here to see Harry Potter,” Hermione said quietly, her voice barely above a whisper. The witch rolled her eyes, glancing up and about to say something biting when her eyes fell on the two in front of her.

“Oh,” she said slowly, not quite believing that she was actually seeing two of the war heroes. It had been shocking enough to see Harry Potter here, but now the entire trio and the Weasley sister rumored to be Potters paramour? What a coup!

Her entire demeanor changed, a wide smile crossing her face. “How wonderful that you’ve come to visit. I just need to do a scan and ask a few preliminary questions.”

“Of course.”

The trio stood as the witch scanned them with her wand, noticing with satisfaction that they were not under the guise of any potion or spell to make them look like the famous Granger and Weasley’s.

Many had attempted to do so this past few days, including a very persistent Rita Skeeter, hoping for the latest updates on the boy’s recovery. As of right now every magical newspaper had an outdated photo of Harry with the words “The Boy who might not live?” accompanied by an article detailing the boy being rushed to St. Mungo’s.

When the witch had scanned and written something down on her parchment she turned to them with a clipboard, her hands writing furiously.

“Have you travelled out of country in the last month?”

Hermione and Ron got strange looks on their faces before the three answered simultaneously. “No.”

 “Brilliant,” the witch said with false enthusiasm. “Any gifts for the patient?”

“Yes,” Ron said, pulling a chocolate frog package from his pocket. Hermione smiled at the sweet gesture – so like Ron to do something like that for the comatose boy.

The witch nodded before scanning the item. “It seems that’s fine to take up with you.”

“Has there been any improvement to his condition?” Ginny asked, her eyes wet with concern.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to ask the Healer that,” the woman said before indicating with her head that they should go to the stairwell to her left. “Your friend is on the fourth floor. Room seventeen – the suite.”

 ***

The trio walked to the room of Harry’s suite, looking to see the team of Healers and Mediwitches who were talking in hushed tones to one another, stopping only when the two figures at the door made themselves known.

The entire room was covered in flowers of all sizes and shapes. Apparently the news that Harry Potter, defeater of Voldemort, and his illness were reaching more people than before – likely thanks to the venomous Rita Skeeter.

“Hullo,” Ron said pleasantly to the figures. “We’re here to see Harry.”

Ron took her hand and Hermione felt herself inwardly jump at the contact. It felt wrong somehow, as if she were betraying-

Enough.  Stop that. As far as you’re concerned he doesn’t exist anymore.  Only Professor Snape remains and there’s no love lost there.

Hermione forced a polite smile on her face as the team glanced over, their eyes filling with recognition at the sight. They were Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley after all. Part of the trio that brought down Voldemort. They were forever going to be recognized. Then they recognized the ginger girl with them, the girlfriend of Harry Potter.

Her eyes drew to the curtain that they drew back, showcasing Harry propped in the bed with heaps of plush pillows and blankets. To Hermione it seemed that he was paler than normal. She looked to the now silent group to her right.

“He is breathing unassisted,” the tall female Healer offered in a officious tone. “His vitals are all good.”

“That sounds good,” Ginny said hopefully, her heart sinking when she noticed the way the healers looked to one another in silent disagreement.

“Are you any closer in finding out what’s wrong?”

“There are more invasive diagnostic procedures and we were just discussing if we needed to attempt them when you came in,” A man who later identified himself as Healer Jones said without thinking.

“How invasive?” Ginny’s face was pinched.

“I’m afraid we cannot discuss that with you,” Jones said, his voice even. As if trying to convince them that his hand would be just as sure and steady during the procedure. Hermione knew there were privacy laws and she knew that there was little they could do.

“We understand,” she said with a nod. “We’d just like a few minutes alone with him.”

The healers looked at one another, a few mumbled of protest between them. Hermione could feel Ron getting agitated by her side and she slipped her hand from his.

“We won’t be long,” she assured them, wishing they would all just leave. There was a small indication of assent from the group.

“We’ll give you some time with him,” the eldest Healer said, recognizing the distress in their faces and wanting to give them privacy. The crowd shuffled from the room, closing the door soundly behind them.

When they were finally alone the two drew to the side of Harry’s bed.

“He looks awful,” Ron said in true brash form.

“He does look a bit peaked,” Hermione agreed, taking Harry’s hand in hers. The unfamiliar scar that ran jaggedly up his arm was showcased against the pale pallor of his skin.

“Oh Harry where are you?”

Hermione sighed, looking to her friend. She could see the eyes that were moving behind eyelids at a rapid pace as if he were dreaming. Why wasn’t he waking up? What kind of invasive procedure would they do on him? What if he never came back as himself?

“Brought you a chocolate frog, mate.” Ron placed the proffered item on the table next to the infirmary bed. Hermione saw as he brushed at his eyes angrily, turning and looking out the window for a moment, overcome at the sight of Harry wasting away.

Hermione had a sudden flashback to the first day they’d all met on the train. They had just been children then – and now? After all they had seen they were no longer children. They were forever changed. The boy in the bed most of all.

Ginny stood at the foot of the bed, looking to her lover with a face full of tears. She was trembling slightly, her slim throat bobbing with each thick swallow as she stared at Harry’s slumbering form.

“What kind of procedure do you think they’ll do?” she whispered, her eyes finally going to Hermione. “What if he never comes back? Or if he does he’s a totally different person?”

Ron gave a small noise in the corner of the room, unable to accept what was happening. It reminded Hermione much of the forest when he’d had to leave them, overwhelmed. Only this time there was no malice – only devastation.

“It’s not a guarantee that they’ll do it,” Hermione said, drawing over to the girl and placing a sisterly hand on her forearm. “He’ll come out of it before that, I’m sure.”

“How can you be sure?”

Hermione was at a loss for words, so completely unlike her. Without warning Ginny capitulated to the side of Harry’s bed, placing her head on his chest. She listened to his breathing, low and steady and his heartbeat much the same.

“You silly boy!” Ginny said, her voice breaking, her tears wetting the front of his hospital robe. “What happened? You were fine two weeks ago! And now you won’t wake up?”

She sat up, moving to a chair next to the bed and gripped Harry’s hand in hers.  Where are you, Harry?”

Hermione shot Ron a look over Ginny’s head. It must be killing him being unable to tell his sister the truth of their time travel. However it was what was instructed and Ron knew it was for the best. Bringing Ginny into this would only cause more questions they couldn’t answer.

“I need a minute with him,” Ginny said, rubbing her eyes harshly. Hermione and Ron left the room wordlessly, closing the door gently behind them. When they were alone Ginny looked down at the placid face of Harry.

She brushed some of the messy hair from his face, a small smile appearing on her lips. Even now his hair was a dark mess. Something about the familiar sight of his messy hair caused a pang in her heart.

All she knew was that Harry had been injured by an unknown spell during Auror training, that he hadn’t woken up even after a week.

“It’s time to wake up Harry,” Ginny cooed, a tear slipping down her cheek and landing with a plop on the boy’s left eyelashes.

“Come back to me.”

With that she placed a gentle kiss to the boy’s limp lips. She could feel the cool touch of his lips and she gave a hiccupping sob. This was the boy that she had loved for so long. They had faced life and death and come out stronger and now? Now he was lying in a bed unable to wake up.

Images of Harry at all ages of their courtship flew through her mind. The smile he did when he was nervous. The way he wrinkled his nose when he was frustrated. The way he kissed her gently and the way he held her close when they made love.

She sat up, scrubbing at her face with her hands and smoothing her plait the best she could. She didn’t want Hermione and Ron feeling sorry for her. She stood, she had to leave. She took a deep, ragged breath and stood, facing the door.

“You can come back in.”

She stood as Ron and Hermione came into the room. It looked as if they were about to suggest leaving when Hermione’s gaze fell behind Ginny and she let out a small gasp. Ginny heard a rustling from behind her and turned, her eyes widening as she saw Harry shuffling in bed. He let out a small groan.

“Harry!” Ron shouted, not believing what was happening. The boy in the bed continued to struggle, pushing himself to a sitting position before moving the hair out of his eyes.

“You’re awake!” Ginny said, rushing back to the boy’s side and throwing her arms around him. She noticed that he immediately stiffened, his eyes narrowing on her face. He looked confused, irritated even. He didn’t return her embrace, instead just staring at her and taking in the form of Hermione and Ron coming to stand next to his bed.

“You had us worried, mate.”

Harry continued to stare at them, his eyes wide and unblinking. He looked as if he were coming out of a fog and the three smiles in front of him faltered a moment. The bushy-haired girl had tears in her eyes when she spoke with a small laugh.

“Harry, say something!”

Harry’s emerald eyes swam over the three eager faces in front of him.  He licked his dried lips, feeling as if he hadn’t used his voice or body for months. So when he spoke his voice was a sharp rasp.

“Who are all of you?”

Chapter Text

 Hermione's breath caught in her chest as she gaped at Harry from the side of his hospital bed. Harry continued to survey her with a look of utter confusion. Hermione's own minimal freckles seemed to jump out of her now ghastly pale complexion.

"W-what?"

Harry frowned deeply, a single crease deepening in the middle of his eyebrows as he sat up straighter in his bed. His lips were set in a thin line of displeasure, as if he felt he was the butt of a joke he wasn't privy to. He pulled the covers more tightly around his frame and glared more severely at the shaking Hermione.

"I said," he offered rudely. "Who are you?"

Hermione gaped a moment longer before pulling herself together. Evidently this wasn't Harry trying to be funny, for it was hardly the time or the place. Along with that, Harry just wasn't the type to do such a thing, and the hollow look in his light eyes made it all too clear that he wasn't in jest. Ginny rushed over to his side along with Ron, their matching light eyes stuck on Harry.

“Harry-“ Ron tried to interject, giving his friend a wary smile just as Ginny gripped his hand tightly in her own.

“And who the hell are you?” Harry shouted – his anxiety at being surrounded by several people. He looked at Ginny who was still holding his hand and staring up at him. “And what are you holding my hand? Who are you bloody people?”

Ginny jumped back as if bitten, her eyes large and wet. Harry had never spoken to her like this in all the time she knew him. And now he was bringing his hand tightly against his body as if merely touching her had rendered it sickly.

Hermione moved from the bed to the window. Her hands were shaking, and the pit in her stomach seemed to be growing larger. So large in fact she was finding it almost impossible to breathe properly. Judging by Ginny’s horror and Ron’s confusion they were feeling similarly. Harry himself sat in his hospital bed, glancing at them all haired girl with a puzzled look on his face. He had gone from looking angry to frightened.

“Here!” Hermione said, her eyes alighting on Harry’s glasses on the table next to the bed. She shoved them into his hand. “Put on your glasses!”

Surely that was it!  Harry shoved the circular spectacles onto his face and blinked a moment as the three of them came into focus.

“Are you going to tell me who you are?”

Hermione immediately deflated.  How was it that Harry couldn’t remember who they were? Was it possible that in this time travel he'd lost track of his own identity? But why him and not the rest of them?

Hermione mentally scanned her mind, through all the books she'd read on time travel, and never had she come across such a case. There were tales of those who knew too much of their future and past, but none who had actually forgotten.  This entire thing was strange and it caused her to feel momentarily weak in the knees.

Hermione turned then, her dark eyes set on Harry's solemn figure in the bed, looking around the room suddenly as if he'd never seen it before. She slowly sat herself in the chair again, seeing that Harry was still rigid with unease.

"Har- Do you know who you are?" Hermione offered tentatively, punctuating her point by pointing her trembling finger at Harry. His green eyes surveyed the movement and then grew cloudy once more. Ginny and Ron had come to stand behind Hermione at the side of the bed, wanting to give Harry some breathing room.

"Of course I know who I am," he said indignantly, "I'm...."

He trailed off then, his brows furrowing as he looked to the blanket he was wrapped in, as if it would give some sort of clue to his persona. Nothing. He looked up at the strange group once more, frowning deeply and spoke gently.

"I-I don't know."

Hermione nodded, her mind still whirring with explanations but finding none that were plausible. Why would Harry forget who he was? She frowned deeply, looking to Harry in earnest.

"Harry. That's your name. Harry Potter."

"Harry?"

“This is Ginny,” Hermione said motioning towards the redhead to her right. “And this is Ron.”

Harry nodded politely at the trio, deciding that they didn’t seem very dangerous. As far as he could tell he was in some sort of hospital. It was bright and clean and expensive looking. Did he have money? Was he rich? Did he know these three?

"And my name is Hermione," the bushy-haired girl said, wincing as Harry wrinkled his nose in distaste.

"Hermione? What kind of name is that?"

"Never mind that," Hermione said huffily. "The matter at hand is that you are a most powerful wizard. You’re a legend, a hero. And the fact that you don't even know who you are is more than frightening."

Harry who had listened patiently to the story almost bemused and leaning back into his pillow, now narrowed his eyes at the girl -Hermione?- and got a completely serious look on his face. She looked so desperately truthful that he almost believed the story.

"I'm a wizard?"

"Yes."

"So I can do magic? Spells? Broomsticks? The whole lot?"

"Yes Harry, but-"

"And who are these behind you?” Harry offered bemused. “Are they wizards too? Do we all do magic together?”

“We’re your best friends,” Ron said quickly, his face a very picture of hurt feelings. “And Ginny- Ginny is your girlfriend Harry!”

Harry gaped a moment, glancing at Hermione in wide-eyed surprise and then frowning. “Really?”

Hermione tried not to be offended. “I’m Hermione.”

“I’m Ginny,” the redhead said, her eyes leaking. Harry’s eyes went to the tall and fetching red-head and he smiled while coloring instantly. She was quite fit and rather beautiful. Her long hair was curled and her neck swan-like.  He gave a lopsided grin in her direction.

“That’s more like it.”

Hermione shook her head a moment, clearing it as she glared at Harry defiantly. "Harry, this is serious.”

"And I’m seriously confused,” Harry replied, resentment sneaking into his tone at the girl’s pinched face and ordering voice. “I’m exhausted and you three have come barging in here telling me that you’re my best mates and my girlfriend. You’re telling me I’m a wizard and that I’m magical and I-I…”

He trailed off, unable to formulate what he was thinking further. He seemed suddenly exhausted and even though she knew she shouldn’t push him, Hermione couldn’t help herself.  "You mean, you don't remember anything?"

Harry shrugged aimlessly, looking around the hospital wing in exasperation. "Look, I don't know what to tell you. I don't even know who I am."

"Do you remember the Dursleys?” Ron said in an animated tone, trying to grasp at straws. “Remember when Hagrid gave Dudley a tail?”

Harry peered at Ron from behind his glasses, wondering in his mind how he ever became friends with such a bizarre troupe.  "Who?  I told you, I don't know anything."

"Aren't you worried?" Hermione insisted, looking to Harry with an absolutely horrified look on her face. Harry frowned, not liking the way she looked when she got all anxious like that. She was being far too annoying for his liking.

"Of course I'm worried," Harry spat angrily, finding this whole ordeal to be overwhelming. He didn't know where or who he was. He didn't know if this was some dream or nightmare. He didn't know any of the answers to the questions this girl was asking. He was growing frantic and suddenly wanted nothing more than to be left alone. "Just leave. All of you.”

Hermione felt as if she'd been slapped. She frowned deeply, her dark eyes watering in humiliated anger. Harry didn't notice, for he'd already rolled onto his side, his back to her. The three of them sat staring a moment at the boy they had all hailed as the conquering hero. It was suddenly very evident that he was a teenage boy – a scared one at that.

Suddenly Healer Jones was back, looking to them expectantly. A few minutes of discussion between them all about what had just happened – not including Harry who still lay with his back to them – Healer Jones had insisted that they leave the patient.

“He’s likely just disoriented after coming out of such a sleep,” Healer Jones insisted, causing the three of them to breathe sighs of immediately relief. “It’s not uncommon for individuals to suffer from bouts of amnesia for up to a month after his experience.”

 “We’ll be back to see him on Friday,” Ginny insisted firmly. “And I don’t know who you’ll be informing of his progress as he has no magical next of kin. Hermione and Ron like his brother and sister and considering Harry and I had been talking marriage up until the time he got sick, I am as close to family as you’ve got.”

“My files suggest otherwise,” the Healer replied primly. “But I assure you that should anything change drastically, I will be in contact with you all. Good day.”

With that, they had been summarily dismissed.  The three fumed as they left the hospital, crawling through the window of store before brushing themselves off on the sidewalk. They glanced around, seeing they were alone save for the sleeping vagrant.

“I can’t believe how rude that Healer was,” Ginny said in almost a growl. “Imagine telling us that they’ll contact us only if something drastic changes!? The nerve!”

“Agreed,” Ron hmphed, crossing his arms and baring his teeth angrily at no one in particular. “You’d think after all we’d done they’d be treating us like celebrities.”

“Yes, well,” Hermione shrugged. “I think that to many, they still see us like children.”

“Tell me what happened to you all,” Ginny said suddenly, her eyes imploring. “Please. It’s bad enough seeing Harry like that, but knowing that I’m completely out of the loop is awful.”

Hermione and Ron shot a look at one another, knowing that they couldn’t go back on their promise to McGonagall. “We can’t Gin.”

At once her eyes turned stormy. “I don’t see why not. It’s like you’re all keeping a secret from me.”

“McGonagall made us promise,” Ron added, looking sorrowful. “You know we’d tell you if we could. And what does it matter? Harry’s gonna be alright! We should be celebrating, not arguing!”

Ron was about to go on when the vagrant from before waved his tin can at them dramatically and gave a small belch. “Spare some change?”

Hermione shoved some muggle currency into the tin, wincing as the scent of soiled clothing and alcohol assaulted her. She hoped he would be able to afford a hot lunch and shower. When he’d nodded and gone back to sleep she turned back to her friends. Ginny looked hurt and like she wanted to throttle them both.

“Speaking of secrets, I didn’t know you’d talked marriage with Harry,” Hermione said, a small smile crossing her features as she looked at the suddenly shy Ginny.

“Yeah well,” Ginny gave a small shrug, avoiding Ron’s eyes. “We talked about it a lot this summer. We’re waiting until I graduate.”

“Oh Ginny!” Hermione grabbed her friend and swallowed her in a tight hug. “That’s splendid! You must be so excited!”

Ginny giggled and returned the hug before stepping back.  It seemed all was forgiven and while Ginny wasn’t happy with being out of the loop, she was also so thankful that Harry was alright. She knew in time she would come to understand what had happened. What had made her brother go strange that night in the Burrow. For now she would wait.

“That’s so wonderful Gin,” Ron agreed, squeezing his sister’s hand tightly before dropping it. Ginny felt her eyes grow wet and she threw herself into her older brother’s arms.  All the resentment and anger from the past few days was gone and all that remained was joy.  For a minute the three of them allowed themselves a bit of levity and laughed. It was Hermione’s worried eyes that eventually made Ron pause.

“He’s going to be fine,” Ron said, giving Hermione a small kiss and pulling her into his arms. “You heard the Healer. It’s completely normal. Now stop that frowning and let’s go get a drink and celebrate! Gin you coming?”

“I’ve got no afternoon classes today,” Ginny said with a small nod. “Hermione?”

“I wish I could,” Hermione said with a smile before pulling back. “But I promised I’d return to afternoon classes. You two go off and have fun without me. I promise I’ll be in for the next one.”

“You sure?”

Hermione nodded, watching as the two of them walked off chatting gently between them. She smiled, looking at the protective way Ron looked at his sister and she wondered in the deepest part of her why she wouldn’t want a man as wonderful as that? Hermione let out a small groan as she glanced at her wristwatch. She had just enough time to make it back for her afternoon class.

Potions.

Chapter Text

When she finally made her way back to Hogwarts Hermione realized she was ten minutes late. A large part of her considered simply not attending – pretending she was ill. But another part of her knew that if she continued in that vein, she may as well give up doing her final year full stop.  

With a large sigh, she tossed on her school robe, and gathered her potions book and parchment from her room before rushing down into the dungeons and preparing to face his wrath.

She couldn’t hear anything from the other side of the door when she approached and she considered knocking. She’d never been late for his class before – she didn’t know the right way to go about it. So she decided to push the door open gently, wincing as a loud creak sounded in the echoing room.

She poked her head around the frame, greeted with twelve sets of eyes on her, not counting the blackened gaze of Snape who had also turned his attention to the door. He was standing at the front of the class, standing with arms folded. She’d obviously interrupted him mid-speech.

Just my luck.

“Late,” Snape said simply, his eyebrow cocking in minute surprise as the Head Girl of Hogwarts shuffled inside the room, closing the door behind her. “Five points from Gryffindor.”

“Yes sir,” Hermione replied respectfully, sliding into a seat near the back. She had no interest in drawing more attention from Snape than necessary.

“As I was saying,” he continued as if he hadn’t heard her. “You’ve got fifty minutes to prove to me that you’re not the dunderheads I assumed you were. The potion is on the blackboard. Begin.”

At this, cauldrons were placed atop work tables and fires lit under them. A small line began in front of the gargoyle’s mouth, the clear water pouring over the student’s hands as they washed.

This potion was highly sensitive and required perfectly clean hands. Then they were back to their desks, looking to the board and starting their potions. All of this was done in absolute silence.

Hermione looked to the blackboard, scanning what they would be making.

A draught of Living Death? But we covered that in sixth term!

Deciding that she didn’t want to suffer his ire any more than she had to, Hermione took the opportunity to recall everything she’d learned in her sixth year under Slughorn’s tutelage.

***

“Fifteen minutes remain,” Snape drawled from the front of the classroom, his dark eyes piercing each of the students before him.

Hermione glanced down at her potion, very pleased with what she’d created during her time. It had been a struggle however not to stare at the tall man at the front of the classroom as she worked.  Every flick of his hair out of his eyes sent her stomach flipping. The sound of his voice reaching out to remind them to stir counter-clockwise had her insides melting.

But then he would glance coldly out at them from behind his curtain of hair and Hermione would be reminded that he wasn't the boy he once was. The boy she had fallen very quickly for.

He’s not the same person. I mean, he is. But he’s also not.

It was rather hard trying to separate Severus from Snape, but Hermione was determined to do it. She just needed to keep reason at the forefront of her mind.

I just have to remember that Severus and Snape are two different people. Severus I loved. Snape? Never. 

As soon as she’d thought it, Hermione noticed his approach. He was peering into each cauldron, making a small note on his parchment and moving to the next. He looked so remarkably like his younger self that Hermione had to shake her head to dislodge the comparison.

Snape gave a disappointed shake of his head when he came to the cauldron beside Hermione’s. She saw the girl next to her trying not to cry. Finally Snape was approaching her and Hermione tried to calm herself with the internal mantra she’d begun: I don’t feel anything for Professor Snape. He’s not the person I fell in love with.

He stood beside Hermione, glancing over her shoulder at her cauldron and making a small huffing noise through his large nose. Hermione felt it through her hair and she felt as her body broke out in gooseflesh.

“Acceptable,” he murmured, making a small note on a piece of parchment before moving on.

Hermione let the air out of her chest, feeling she could finally breathe. Her heart was pounding and she could feel her entire body trembling.

I am in such trouble.

***

Dinner that evening was a somber affair. Ginny had returned, looking withdrawn and depressed.

“I just don’t understand how he’s forgotten everything,” Ginny said, taking a sip of juice. “You were gone just as long as he was and you don’t have trouble remembering anything.”

“I know,” Hermione agreed, pushing the broccoli around on her plate. She hadn’t much of an appetite that day and now was no different. Everything tasted sour and bland to her.

“But we needn’t fret yet Ginny. You heard the Healer, it’s likely nothing serious.”

But even as she said it, she didn’t believe it.

With Harry ill and Snape alive her entire world felt as if it had turned on its axis. The world made no sense and she had no anchor save for her friends. But Ron and Ginny hadn’t gone through the experience with her.

Besides that, Malfoy was still out there, dangerous and unpredictable.  His face was splashed all over Hogsmeade and other Wizarding towns. But nothing had come up – not a sign that the boy was even still alive. Would be come back to finish the job he'h started in the past?

Hermione’s eyes drew to the head table against her will. Snape sat there, talking quietly with Pamona as he ate slowly and in small bites. He seemed distracted, more moody then usual.

“I wonder why he came back,” Hermione mused aloud.

“Rumor is no one else wanted to teach the class,” Ginny said with a shrug, finally taking a bite of her chicken. “After the war, everyone was a bit scared. McGonagall was desperate so she called him back. I suppose he had no other choice. He may be a hero, but he’s still an ex Death Eater.”

“But he gave up everything,” Hermione insisted,

“Only when he had to,” Ginny countered. “Harry told me what he saw in the Pensieve. Snape did what he had to do to cover his own skin. And he only came to Dumbledore’s side when he knew Lily was in danger. I know that Harry has forgiven him, and that’s wonderful on Harry’s part. But I don’t trust Severus Snape one bit.”

Hermione jumped back as if she’d been slapped. A part of her wanted to immediately come to his defense, to explain that Snape’s upbringing and more had contributed largely to the person he turned out to be. But instead she bit the inside of her cheek.  

Before Ginny could continue a large sound of windows creaking open sounded and several parcels and pieces of mail sailed down from the ceiling and into the outstretched hands of Hogwarts students. Hermione glanced over to Neville at her right, seeing as he unwrapped the Daily Prophet that he’d been delivered.

“Neville!” Hermione almost shrieked as she saw the front page. “May I see your paper a moment?”

“’Course,” Neville said, handing it over. “My gran tells me I need to keep updated on world events, but I just like doing the jumble.”

Hermione didn’t reply, instead her eyes scanned the title in front of her. Ginny read from across the table, her eyes as large as saucers.

The Boy Who Lost his Mind by Rita Skeeter.

It seems that the Boy Who Lived to Defeat Voldemort is now the Boy who can’t remember his first name! This reporter has it on good authority that Harry Potter, Order of Merlin First Class, hero of the Wizarding World, has been taken to St Mungo’s under a mystery affliction.

“How could she have found this out?” Hermione demanded outraged, glancing up from the article. “I never spoke to anyone! You?”

“Of course not!” Ginny replied huffily. “And Ron wouldn’t either. It-“ she stopped, her eyes widening. “It was that bloody vagrant. ”

“What?”

“I guarantee it was Rita Bloody Skeeter,”  Ginny said, slamming her hand down on the wooden table. “Who else was around when we were talking?”

“The nurse had said Rita was trying to sneak into the hospital all day,” Hermione groaned, holding her head in frustration. “So she disguised herself and waited.”

The two girls looked to one another in silence, quietly fuming before turning their attention back to the newspaper.

This author wonders if Ginny Weasley, fiancée of Harry Potter, will make any public statements on the health of her dearest beau.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Ginny grumbled,

And speaking of romance, it seems that Hermione Granger, Order of Merlin First Class and Ronald Weasley, Order of Merlin First Class, were in attendance to visit their sick friend. Sources report that they were very affectionate, even as their friend lay sick in his bed.

Hermione lowered her head to the table, trying her best not to scream in frustration before she continued to read.

With news of Harry Potter’s mystery illness, there are fears in the Wizarding World that another attack will be imminent.

“Having Harry around made me feel safe,” says one unnamed Hogwarts student. “With him sick I’m scared of what could happen.”

This student isn’t the only one in fear for their lives. When a poll was taken, several wizards and witches expressed that with Harry Potter ill, tensions had risen, even as high as the wizengamont.

“He took down the most powerful wizard in the world,” says another unnamed source. “It’s inevitable that other wizards and witches are going to come forth and with Harry [Potter] out of the way, it just became much easier. Just as Voldemort came after Grindewald, mark my words, something wicked this way will come.”

Hermione lowered the paper, unable to read anymore. Not only was the speculation far-reaching at best, but it was downright offensive.

“This is ludicrous,” she spat.

“The court of public opinion has always been powerful,” Ginny said, glancing around to see some of the students looking solemn. “If enough people believe it, it becomes true.”

Hermione fell silent, her eyes drawing up to the Head Table where McGonagall had fixed her with a sympathetic look. A quick slip of her eyes revealed Snape glancing at her through his hair with an unreadable expression on his pale face.

Suddenly Harry laying in bed at St. Mungo’s wasn’t just a frustrating turn of events. His mystery illness not just an obstacle to overcome.

Now it was a race against time.

Chapter Text

That Friday after classes Hermione Apparated to the Burrow.  She had several books with her on memory charms and wizardry. She had spent every free moment that entire week trying to find something that would hint at what was happening with Harry.  Nothing had shown up and she was beyond frustrated.

Ron met her at the front door and she smiled at him warmly, always cheered to see his familiar, freckled face.

“Ready?”

“Five minutes,” Ron said, pressing a chaste kiss to Hermione’s temple and leading her to the kitchen table. “Ginny’s just getting ready. She’s convinced if she wears something that Harry got her, that he’ll suddenly remember her. Tea?”

Hermione nodded and sat across from Ron at the table, noting that the rest of the house was out for the day judging by the clock on the wall.  A cup of tea was pushed towards her and Ron collapsed into the seat across from her. His freckles stood out against the pale pallor of his skin. He hadn’t looked this horrible since Voldemort.  He gave her a weak smile, taking a sip of his tea.

“Having any more trouble with this time?”

“It’s strange,” Hermione said, taking a sip of her own tea, noting that Ron made a horrible brew. “Some things are very familiar and others are a bit off. Like this week we had to make a potion we learned in sixth term.”

“Well if Snape’s running Potions again he’d want to make sure everyone actually learned something under ol’ Sluggy,” Ron offered logically.  “He wouldn’t want to send you out into the world underprepared. It’d look bad on him.”

 “You’re completely right,” Hermione said, feeling foolish for not seeing it before. “Snape is such a perfectionist, of course he’d want to see that we can brew as well as he expects of us. It’s not about us at all, it’s about him. As usual.”

Ron looked across the table at Hermione, his palms sweating. He still fancied her so strongly, but since her return home they’d been so distracted with Harry that he hadn’t even thought to broach it with her. And now, looking at her with that strange look on her face he didn’t know if it was the right time now. Would it ever be the right time, though?

He was about to say something when Ginny suddenly appeared, padding her way into the kitchen with a wobbly smile on her face and wearing the sweater Hermione knew Harry had bought her a few months ago.

“I’m ready.”

***

“What’s the last thing that you remember?”

“Oh enough of this,” Harry said, laying in the hospital bed and giving Hermione a disdainful look. “If I hear that question one more time-“

“Well just answer it!” Hermione demanded shrilly.

They had been visiting with Harry for just under an hour and he was proving to the most difficult and stubborn person Hermione could ever recall meeting.

Not only had he not remembered Ginny, but he’d had the nerve to say that the sweater looked like something a grandmother would wear. At this point, Ginny had rushed from the room and not returned. Ron had gone after her a few minutes ago, leaving Hermione and Harry alone.

“I’m telling you I remember nothing!” Harry retorted, his face turning red. “I can’t remember who I am or who you lot are. I don’t know where I am or what I’m even doing here.”

 “So you simply remember waking up and that’s it?” Hermione said with a sigh, pressing a hand to her temple.

“Oh for fuck’s sake!”

“Don’t you dare swear at me, Harry Potter!” Hermione thundered, moving towards Harry who suddenly looked surprised (and a little frightened) at the formidable young woman. “Since the day I met you I’ve been trying to protect you. And you may not remember who I am, but I know you. You’re brave and strong determined. So stop acting like a toe-rag and try your best to help!”

At this she whirled from Harry’s side and to the window of the hospital room. Thankfully Rita Skeeter’s vagrant had been reported and the three of them had been careful this morning in saying nothing outside of Harry’s room. 

She gave a large sigh, her shoulders and head aching. All her free time was in the library or having meetings with McGonagall who was just as lost as she. Now it seemed like there was no hope to be had and Hermione wanted to cry. She pressed her forehead to the cool pane of glass and took a steadying breath.

“I’m sorry,” Harry mumbled from across the room, his head shaking and his tone exhausted. “I am completely confused about all of this.”

Hermione glanced over to see that Harry was staring up at the ceiling, his face tight. She saw a small tear leak down the corner of his eye and he brushed it away angrily.

Hermione felt her entire body soften as she walked back over to Harry, placing herself on the chair next to the bed and taking the boy’s hand in hers. He pulled his hand away, confused at the contact. Hermione had to remind herself – just because she knew him didn’t mean he was okay.

“It’s alright Harry,” Hermione said softly. “I’m going to figure this out.”

***

“Miss Granger?”

Hermione cracked one eye open, wincing as she pulled herself to a sitting position. Her mouth was dry as cotton and she peered up at the severe looking face above her.

 “Madame Pince,” Hermione sputtered, realizing in an instant that she had fallen asleep researching in the library. She had been at it vigorously since she returned from seeing Harry on Friday.

“It is past curfew Miss Granger,” Madame Pince said, looking down her long nose at the bleary-eyed girl as Hermione shifted in her seat. To Hermione’s utter dismay she realized that she’d fallen asleep on a particularly ancient spell tome, and one of the pages was creased quite severely.  Madame Pince sucked in a deep lungful of air into her tiny, shriveled body. The books were like the children she never had and to see them being so dis-used caused something inside her to snap.

“You are suspended from this library for a week,” Madame Pince said, her voice shaking with a barely suppressed fury.

Hermione needed no further prompting, pushing herself from the table and rushing from the Library.  Her footsteps were loud on the stone floor as she propelled herself around the corner and nearly knocked down the familiar figure standing there.

 “Miss Granger!” McGongall said, surprised to see Hermione out past curfew and looking beside herself as she leaned against the wall, looking haggard. “Out past curfew?”

“Oh, Professor,” Hermione’s cheeks pinked in embarrassment. Her voice was frenetic as she spoke. “I’m afraid I fell asleep in the library. I’m sorry. I’m headed back to my room and-“

McGonagall held up a finger to silence Hermione. She gave the girl a sympathetic look. “Come with me to my office.”

Minutes later Hermione was seated across from the Headmistress, a steaming cup of tea before her and a biscuit placed precariously on its saucer.

“Miss Granger I’m concerned about you,” McGonagall’s voice was soft, her brogue gentle. “These past few weeks you’ve not been yourself. I know you’re concerned for Mister Potter, but I worry its coming at a great cost to yourself.”

Hermione took in what the Headmistress was saying, her body seeming to sink into the large tufted chair. McGonagall watched as the girl brought the tea to her lips, sipping delicately. Under this scrutiny Minerva could see the dark shadows under the girl’s eyes.

“You understand we as staff are working at all hours for a cure to Mister Potter’s malady?” Minerva prompted, taking a sip of her own tea. “That you alone are not working at restoring Mister Potter’s memories.”

“You’ve told the staff?” Hermione was surprised at this. She had assumed it was kept q

“Only a select few,” Minerva admitted. “Upon your return Madame Pomfrey and  Professor Snape were informed.”

She didn’t notice as the girl bristled at the latter’s name.

“I needed their combined expertise in health and the Dark Arts for fear that something more sinister was afoot. They have given many brilliant insights, but unfortunately even as they work together with the Healers at St. Mungo’s there has been no progress.”

“I see,” Hermione acknowledged. She took a large sigh,  

“So you see, Miss Granger, it doesn’t rest on your shoulders alone,” Minerva added in a voice that was almost motherly in affection. She gave Hermione a look that was a minute smile.  

“I suppose I just feel responsible,” Hermione admitted readily, her eyes stinging with tears that threatened to fall. “I never should have let Harry find out I had the time turner. I should have reported everything to you. If I had, we wouldn’t be in this mess. I just wish I could go back and fix everything.”

“If wishes were Thestrals then beggars would ride,” Minerva mused, leaning back in her chair. “You are not responsible for Mister Potter’s actions. You weren’t as a child and you aren’t now, as a grown woman.”

Hermione nodded, feeling her eyes growing wet. “I have a lot on my mind. Not just Harry.”

“Did something happen during your trip?” McGonagall’s voice was tinged with concern.  Hermione finally let her eyes meet the wizened gaze of Minerva.

I fell in love with Severus Snape. He doesn’t remember me. I’m in love with a man that despises me. The man I love doesn’t exist. He was supposed to be dead. But he’s alive and with someone else and that’s somehow worse. I’m in love with a ghost.

Hermione shook her head slowly, trying to push the dark thoughts from her mind. She clutched her hands together on her lap, trying to quell the uneasy feeling that was threatening to overtake her completely.  

“No, Headmistress,” Hermione lied, her stomach churning as she lied to her mentor. “It’s just a lot of pressure with my studies and researching about Harry. That’s all.”

“You are welcome to take a few weeks off if you think it would help,” Minerva said with genuine understanding. “You’re the only student that I think would be able to catch up in time. Perhaps you need the time to gather your thoughts.”

Hermione shook her head emphatically. “No thank you, Headmistress. I’ve got it all under control, I promise. I’m just a bit overtired.”

McGonagall looked Hermione over severely before nodding. “Then you should get to bed.”

With that Hermione had stood, shooting Minerva a grateful smile before rushing from the room and up to her quarters where she collapsed into her bed, sobbing herself into an uneasy sleep.

***

The next afternoon Hermione and Ginny walked towards their Double Potions class, both dragging their feet. Ginny because she always wanted to be at Harry’s side, reminding him of why he needed to fight for his memories. Hermione because every time she saw Professor Snape, a small part of her wanted to scream.

“I just feel going to classes is worthless,” Ginny moaned gently. “Harry bloody Potter is sitting in St. Mungo’s completely confused and I’m going to a bloody Potions class pretending like I don’t have a care in the world.”

“There’s nothing you could do for him in the hospital,” Hermione said comfortingly, trying to stop a yawn from emerging. She had gotten a very poor sleep and subsequently she was bleary-eyed and a bit irritable.

“How are things with you and Ron?” Ginny asked, suddenly changing the subject. Hermione felt herself stiffen before glancing at her wristwatch.

“Come on Gin, we have to hurry or we’ll be late.”

***

Inside the classroom there was already a crowd murmuring inside. Ginny and Hermione drew over to the rest of the students who were surrounding the large cauldron in the front of the class. Snape was standing behind it, looking like the gargoyle that spewed water at the corner of the room.

Hermione was sure to stand near the back of the group, not trusting herself to get closer. Snape didn’t move his gaze from the potion he was brewing.

When the last student had arrived a minute later, the door to his classroom shut with a grim finality. A chilling silence swept the room as all eyes were drawn to where Snape stood. His voice was soft and deadly and everyone strained to listen.

“Can any of you correctly identify this brew?”

Hermione peered into the large cauldron, immediately recognizing the mother of pearl sheen to it. She glanced at the spiraling fumes and immediately her hand swept up into the air. Snape glanced her over before offering a short nod, prompting her to speak.

“Amortentia,” Hermione said swallowing slowly.

 “Correct,” Snape said without feeling.  “And its purpose?”

He seemed to be encouraging Hermione to respond and so she did. “It’s the most powerful love potion in the world.”

At this, several of the girls tittered behind Hermione, obviously excited about what they would be creating.  They were immediately silenced with a dark look from Snape who stood over the cauldron, looking like their own hideous boggart.  

“It is also the most dangerous,” he continued.

“But sir,” a seventh year Ravenclaw interrupted. “How can a love potion be dangerous?”

“Five points from Ravenclaw for interrupting,” Snape snapped. “And it is dangerous because the potion will create a powerful obsession. And when underestimated, obsession is very dangerous.”

At this he seemed to lose himself in the curling tendrils of the potion before he backed up, as far from the fumes as he could manage.

“Of course this isn’t real love,” Snape continued on, wincing as if the word love caused him physical pain. “Not even the most skillful potioneer has ever been able to create such a truly unbreakable attachment.”

The classroom was quiet, watching the tall and sullen man before them. They had never considered him to hold tender feeling, but now the news of Lily Potter was free for all to know and the potion between them suddenly seemed like a tone deaf lesson for him to participate in.

“Pair up,” he said suddenly, not looking at any of them.  “You will brew this together and at the end of the class we will see how successful you are.”

“What do we get if it’s successful?” the same Ravenclaw from earlier asked, obviously unaware that Horace Slughorn and Severus Snape taught very different Potions classes. Snape fixed him with a dark glare before answering.

“The satisfaction that you’re not a complete idiot.”

***

A little under an hour later Hermione and Ginny stood looking at their bubbling potion, the mother of pearl sheen matching that of Snape’s batch.  Hermione had done the majority of the work, finding that Ginny was remarkably distracted – not that it was surprising.

“Take a sniff,” Hermione suggested, wanting to draw Ginny’s attention to something more tangible than worrying about Harry. “See what you smell.”

Ginny gave Hermione a weak smile before leaning forward.  Her eyes crumpled a bit as she inhaled, her cheeks pinking from the heat of the potion.

“The Burrow at Christmas… the Quidditch Pitch in the fall…And… Harry’s peppermint kisses.”

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said, patting her hand gently and glancing at her friend. Perhaps this had been a foolish idea.   

“I’m not,” Ginny said, her smile a bit brighter. “It smells lovely. And it reminds me that not all hope is lost. Harry is still in there somewhere, we just have to draw him out.”

Hermione exchanged another secret smile with her friend, noting that Snape was coming to see the student’s progression. She wanted to make sure that it was finished to his standards and so she leaned forward, wafting the scent towards her face with her right hand. Her eyes fell closed as the comforting scent took her over.

“Well?” Ginny prompted.

“Fresh mown grass,” Hermione said, breathing deeply the familiar scent. “Fresh parchment and….”

She paused. Expecting that same scent of Ron’s hair to come wafting into her nostrils as it had before. But instead there was something different… It was dark and masculine. She couldn’t quite pinpoint it.

“And?”

“Nothing ,” Hermione answered quickly, stepping back, her eyes warily on the potion. Perhaps she’d done it incorrectly? Suddenly Ginny jerked in her seat, looking to the potion with renewed interest.

 “Maybe if I gave this to Harry-“ Ginny began, her eyes hopeful.

“Then you would have an obsessed wizard who still doesn’t know you really are,” Hermione finished for her. She felt so hideous for saying it, but she knew what Ginny was going through. “Potions and-“

She had been able to go off on a philosophical tangent when all of a sudden her world suddenly seemed to fall in on her. As if she were at the bottom of the ocean and could finally kick herself to the surface.

“I know what it was!”

With that, Hermione grasped her books to her chest, being sure not to knock the cauldron off the table in her excitement.

“Where are you going?” Ginny asked gently, trying not to draw the attention of Snape. Precious little good that had done, for the overgrown bat was heading in their direction.

“I’ll explain later,” Hermione promised, her eyes bright. Before the tall man behind her could stop her, Hermione had run from the room, her hair flying out behind her.

“Miss Granger-“ Snape roared, but the sound of him calling her name fell on deaf ears. Her legs carried her quickly up the stairs from the dungeon, into the fresh smelling main level of Hogwarts. Still she continued at her frenetic pace; she had to see Headmistress McGonagall.

She knew how to save Harry.

Chapter Text

 “HEADMISTRESS!”

Minerva glanced up from the Daily Prophet, where a scowling Severus Snape glared back at her. All of this was forgotten at the sound of an anxious student’s familiar voice outside the door. She dropped the paper onto her desk and made her way across her small office.

 “Miss Granger?”

Minerva opened the door, stepping back as a frazzled Hermione bounded into the room.  The girl looked completely beside herself, wheezing as she stepped towards McGonagall.

“Headmistress, I know why Harry can’t remember anything! I think I know how we can help him!”

McGonagall motioned for Hermione to sit in the chair opposite the desk that she now sat behind. The room wasn’t much different then when Albus had once dwelled within. Still the same cozy feeling, but more organized, less whimsical. 

Minerva fixed Hermione with a serious look. “May I ask why you haven’t gone straight to St. Mungo’s if this is the case? There’s precious little we can do to help Mister Potter here.”

“I can’t go to them,” Hermione explained, her brows furrowed. “If I were to tell them everything, then our trip into the past would become common knowledge. I’m worried The Daily Prophet would find out.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.” Minerva fixed the girl with a queer look.

“In potions class just now, Ginny told me that she considered giving Harry a lust potion,” Hermione explained, ignoring Minerva’s disapproving look. “And it made me realize something about why Harry’s having such a difficult time remembering everything.”

Minerva crossed her hands on the desk, leaning forward in interest. “Go on.”

“It all comes back to our last night in the past,” Hermione explained, her voice rising. “We were at the Slughorn Masquerade, and Lucius Malfoy slipped a potion in the punch. He did it to wipe all memory of Malfoy, Harry and I from the student’s and staff’s memories. To ensure that if something were to happen to us, that nothing would be amiss.”

“Terrible,” Minerva tsked under her breath.

“But we didn’t know that until later, in the Shrieking Shack when he confessed. And I told Harry not to drink anymore,” Hermione said with a hopefully look in her dark eyes. “You see he’d already had some of the punch along with the other students! That’s why he can’t remember anything, especially himself!”

“Merlin’s sake,” Minerva whispered softly, realizing where Hermione was going with this. “What potion was it exactly? Do you recall?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione answered honestly.  “All I recall is that it was an erasing potion that he slipped into the punch. It must have been complex to only take Harry and I out of the student’s minds and leave everything else intact.”

“Professor Snape was there that night, was he not? As a student?”

“Yes ma’am, but-“

“Then we shall bring him here at once-“ Minerva was already raising her wand, about to call forth her owl to send a missive when Hermione hopped up, shaking her head dramatically.

“He won’t know anything!”  Hermione insisted. “His mind was altered. Dumbledore told us he would be erasing all traces of us from their memories. I don’t know that he would even remember that night.”

“Of course,” Minerva said, pinking in the cheeks for her rash behavior. She slumped slightly into her chair, pondering a moment. Hermione sat across the desk, her own mind whirring with possibilities.

She closed her eyes and tried to go back to that moment in the shack.  Lucius’ ugly sneer as he mocked her fighting against him.

"Everyone has seen us!" Hermione shouted, wriggling in her unseen bounds. "What are you going to tell them then?"

"We're very powerful in the Dark Arts, Lockheart,” Lucius said with a mirthless chuckle. "Especially Severus here. Why, we've already spiked the punch bowl at the dance with a certain potion I've been working on, under Severus' tutelage no less. In a matter of time, you and Finnegan will be only a memory...and then? Nothing at all."

“I’ve just remembered,” Hermione said blinking rapidly. “Professor Snape taught Lucius the potion. He told me so himself in the shack!”

“Well then it seems obvious that our first solution is to speak to Professor Snape,” Minerva said quietly.  She noted as Hermione swallowed thickly, her cheeks pinking. “If he truly has no idea what occurred then we will move onto our next plan.”

Hermione was staring at her hands, unable to meet Minerva’s face. Instead she gave a short nod, wincing as Minerva wrote hurriedly and passed the parchment into the clutches of her favorite owl.  It took off with a swooping lurch out the door and presumably to the dungeons.

The two women sat in silence, listening to the soft ticking of the clock behind Minerva’s head a few minutes. Hermione glanced up to look behind her, noting that Albus Dumbledore’s portrait form was missing from its large frame.

“Do you often see the Headmast- erm, Dumbledore?” Hermione inquired, catching herself from calling him Headmaster. She had no desire to insult her former Head of House. “He seems to be missing from his portrait.”

 “He’s rarely there,” Minerva said absently drumming her fingers on the desk. “He pops in for a quick chat every now and then or a nap. But I’m quite busy.”

Hermione nodded, about to say more when there was a sudden rap on Minerva’s door. With a swish of her wand, the door was unlocked and while Hermione didn’t dare turn around, she knew that in stepped Severus Snape. She could tell it was him with the slow, deliberate steps taken towards them. Hermione tensed immediately as the silken voice sounded from behind her.

“You wanted to see me?”

“Yes Severus, please come in and shut the door.”

Hermione heard the door close gently before those quiet footsteps drew near once more. She felt the trembling of her hands and she gripped the seat arms so tightly she thought she might break them. From the corner of her eyes she could see as his frame came to stand a few inches from her own chair.

“Take a seat.”

“I’d prefer to stand.”

“Very well,” Minerva said, not caring to argue with the man on his choice of sitting or standing. “Miss Granger has come to me with some insight into the Potter boy’s malady.”

“So this is the reason for her impromptu departure from my classroom,” Snape offered without mirth. He noted that the girl had no intention of facing him and he suppressed a smirk at that. She must feel remarkably ashamed.

“Miss Granger, please explain what happened to Professor Snape.”

Hermione took a deep breath, willing her voice not to wobble. She glanced at Snape’s black boots, finding them a welcome substitute for the intense stare he was undoubtedly fixing her with at this moment. And so with candor she spoke to his boots about their situation.

“When Harry Draco and I were in the past, we attended the Slug Club Masquerade. That evening Lucius Malfoy told us that he had slipped a potion into the punch. The aim was to erase Harry and I from everyone’s memories so that he could. . .  Well, it doesn’t matter. Point is, Harry drank some of it before we knew it had been spiked. Thankfully I didn’t – I believe that’s why Harry can’t remember anything and I can. The potion took away his own memories of himself.”

“An interesting theory,” Snape murmured.  He was surprised to hear that she had been at the Masquerade. He himself had attended, with a young woman he couldn’t quite recall. The moments of that night were fuzzy and he could barely remember attending.

Thankfully he never drank from the communal punch bowls at public Hogwarts events – he didn’t trust that the Marauders wouldn’t have something horrible waiting for him if he did.

He recalled one event when every student who had the misfortune of drinking from it blew bubbles from their mouths every time they spoke. This had gone on for hours until Sirius had confessed and gone willingly to detention for a month.

“Lucius told me that he’d made the potion under your tutelage,” Hermione continued in a small voice.

Snape was surprised at this. He couldn’t recall any time when he’d actually taught Malfoy anything.

“We thought you may have an idea on what the man slipped into the punch, Severus.” Minerva looked so openly hopeful. “With Lucius dead we have no one else to question. And your knowledge of potions is prodigious.”

“I’m sure the Healers at St. Mungo’s would love this information,” Snape said uncertainly.

“There is also rumor of a mole inside the hospital feeding information to The Daily Prophet,” Minerva said meaningfully. “We want to keep this incident as close to our chests as possible.”

“I see.”

There was a long moment of quiet between the three of them and during the time Hermione allowed her eyes to travel up from Snape’s boots to his shoulders. He looked so similar and yet so changed. Her eyes slipped up the neck, glancing at the raven colored hair that hand just at his jaw. And finally she allowed her eyes to fall to his face, now in profile. He was peering at Minerva with an inscrutable look on his face. Hermione’s head swam at the memory of his younger self.

“I have my notes from seventh year,” Snape finally offered, his voice not full of the usual malice. “I promise nothing, but I will go through them after classes and tell you what I find, if anything.”

Relief.

Sweet relief flooded Hermione at his words. Despite the fact that he could be arrogant, rude, blisteringly cruel Snape was also brilliant, astute and analytical in a way that outshone all around him. If she had to have the fate of a friend rest in anyone’s hands, she was glad it was his. She would have Harry back!

“Thank you,” Minerva said, exhaling loudly, obviously feeling the same amount of relief. As an afterthought she motioned to the newspaper on her desk. “And I apologize. I know this comes at the most inopportune moment Severus. Congratulations on the engagement by the way.”

Snape said nothing but nodded respectfully in her direction before leaving the room and closing the door behind him. During the entire exchange, Hermione sat rigidly in her chair; her eyes wide and unblinking. She wasn’t completely sure that she had heard the exchange correctly. Engaged?

I must have misunderstood.

Hermione looked to the newspaper on Minerva’s desk, her heart sinking as the title danced before her.

War Hero Finally Finds Love After all this Time

Underneath was the image of Snape and a woman coming out of a shop in Hogsmeade. They were both scowling at the camera. She was a small woman with large grey eyes and a serious countenance. Her hair was rust colored and piled on top of her head in a sleek. It was clear to see that the woman was wearing a small, ornate ring on her left ring finger as she was holding tightly to the crook of Snape’s arm.

After much speculation, it is confirmed that wedding bells are finally in the air for Severus Snape, Order of Merlin Second Class! And we finally know more about his bride-to-be, Alice Crockford, Portkey Office administrator. How these two met is still a mystery but-

Hermione couldn’t bear to read anymore. She dropped the paper on McGonagall’s desk and stood shakily.  

“I think I’m going to lie down,” Hermione said, forcing a smile onto her face.

“Of course,” Minerva said, standing and guiding the girl to the door. “Thank you for all your insight, Miss Granger. And please don’t look so worried. I’m sure that we’ll solve this and you’ll have your best friend back and better than ever.”

Hermione tried to nod, but moving her head made her feel as if she were going to be sick. Instead she slipped through the doorframe and up to the Head Girl room where she collapsed into bed and welcomed the darkness.

***

Hours later her stomach rumbled and a quick glance at her watch indicated that it was nearly supper. She splashed some water onto her face, smoothing her rumpled robes and rushed down to the Great Hall.

Her eyes went to the Head table, and her heart slowed thankful that Snape was nowhere to be seen. Likely he was encased in his chambers going over his notes as he’d promised.

Or he’s off shagging his fiancée.

“Hermione!”

She saw Ginny at a nearby table waving her arms wildly. Hermione had planned to eat by herself and climb back into bed. Seeing her friend waving her over could prove a good distraction and so she change her mind.  

“You practically flew out of class today,” Ginny said with a small smile as her friend sat across from her. “Snape was bellowing after you for a good minute until he realized you weren’t coming back.”

“Yes, well…” Hermione shrugged, noting that before them on the table was all manner of roast and gravy. She helped herself to a serving, grabbing a flaky roll and buttering it.  Out of habit her eyes drew to the Head Table before she remembered that Snape wouldn’t be there.

“So did you get in trouble?”

“Hmm?”

“With Snape,” Ginny said, looking to her friend queerly. “For dashing out of class.”

“Oh,” Hermione had to think on this a moment, her mind still blurry with sleep. “I don’t think so.”

The two ate in silence a moment with Ginny staring at Hermione pointedly through the meal. Hermione noted that McGonagall was nowhere to be seen either and she wondered if the two of them were working together.

The thought warmed her until another part of her imagined Snape in his bedchambers, a woman with rust-colored hair riding him and calling out his name.  In her mind Snape stared up at the woman in awe, his own eyes shuttering in pleasure.

Hermione scowled into her supper before taking a generous sip of water.

“So are you going to tell me what’s going on?”  Ginny blurted.  “You’re acting like a nutter.”

Hermione swallowed her drink quickly, sputtering a moment in surprise at Ginny’s forceful questioning. Part of her held back, wondering if she should even be involving Ginny at this point. But seeing her friend’s desperation she abandoned any idea of keeping her in the dark.

“Do you promise not to say anything?” Hermione’s voice was barely above a whisper in the gradually crowding Great Hall.

“Of course,” Ginny replied emphatically, her tone matching Hermione’s.

“Good.” Hermione glanced around them a moment to ensure they were not going to be bothered. “Ginny, I think I’ve figured out what’s wrong with Harry.”

"Do you really?" Ginny asked, hey eyes hopeful. She dropped her fork onto her plate, her hands coming to press against her mouth in a silent look of awe at her clever friend.

"Yes," Hermione said, her smile splitting her face. "I'm almost positive. And it’s thanks to you!"

“Me?”

“It was when you were talking about that lust potion,” Hermione observed. “But I can’t say anymore. Just trust me that we’re on the right track.”

 Ginny, a normally very stoic girl surprised Hermione by suddenly bursting into tears. Her shoulders began shaking and her palms moved to her eyes. Hermione moved to Ginny’s side of the table and wrapped her arms around Ginny, keeping her from falling in exhausted relief.

 "I'm just so relieved," Ginny said, wiping her eyes with her arm. "I'll get my Harry back."

“Yes you will,” Hermione said, surprising herself with a smile. “Then everything will be back to normal.”

 Sort of. Normal for Ginny and Harry. Normal for everyone else. Normal but not normal. Nothing will ever be normal for me again.

"I'm a little embarrassed now that you mention that lust potion," Ginny said, giving Hermione a shameful look. "I know you said I shouldn't, but when you left class I bottled some of our brew."

 "Ginny-" Hermione began to admonish the girl, stopping only when Ginny raised her hand on supplication.

 "I know it was silly, Hermione. But I was desperate. I thought a love potion was the answer. Here," Ginny said, digging into her satchel and passing the small pink vial of amortentia to Hermione. "I don't need it anymore. You're going to get my Harry back."

 Hermione took the vial, giving Ginny a small nod of understanding.

"Oh have you heard the news?" Ginny said, her face alight with mischief. "Professor Snape is engaged! Engaged!"

"I read about it in the paper," Hermione offered hollowly.

"I know he's a war hero and all, but can you imagine actually being married to that git?"

Hermione didn't reply.

Chapter Text

The weekend passed by them all in a blur. Hermione did all she could not to leave her rooms or the library (thanks to a note from McGonagall herself to Irma Pince.) If she wasn’t in one place, she was in the other.  Her meals were sent to her room and she’d even skipped bathing until this afternoon – not that Crookshanks cared. He spent most of his time preening and sleeping.

Every spare moment was spent going over any information she could gather on ancient memory potions. Turns out there were very few and the information she could find was next to nothing. Memory charms were more likely to be used, or a good ol’ Obliviate. But none of them rang true to what had occurred with Harry.

And so it came to be Sunday night and she was exhausted and dreading seeing her Potions Professor the next day for class. Rumor of his engagement had gone around the school and before burrowing herself away in her rooms she had the misfortune of coming upon two sixth years pondering about how Severus Snape would be as a husband.

The only reprieve she had was a small cuppa with Ron on Sunday evening at the Burrow.  She needed to get away from that bloody school. She needed a chance to breathe. And now she stood in his kitchen, watching him pour her tea. He handed her the watery beverage before they took their tea outside. There was a chance to see a shooting star tonight.

“Where’s Ginny?”

“At the hospital,” Ron replied with an amused grin. “She wants to be there the instant you bring him back to himself.”

“She does realize that it won’t be tonight?” Hermione smiled at her friend’s sweetness.

“You know Ginny,” Ron offered with a shrug. “She just wants to be near him all the time. You know how people in love are.”

Hermione gave a nod of reply, taking a sip of her drink before placing it on the step below her feet.

Ron’s words hung between them, but only the young man seemed to feel their weight. Seeing his sister’s dedication to Harry had made the own cogs in his mind begin to whir. Sure, Hermione had never been one for tremendous outward affection. A hug or a kiss there. And sure, they had barely any time to themselves since the school year had started for her.

But wasn’t it supposed to be different? Wasn’t she supposed to snuggle up to him while they looked at the stars? Wasn’t she supposed to talk about a future together? Was he missing something? He looked to his girlfriend, deep in thought.  She glanced up into the night sky, allowing a feeling of rest to fall over her. She was unaware of the scrutiny coming from Ron, seated next to her.

“Hermione is there someone else?”

Hermione’s relaxed demeanor changed immediately and she stiffened at his sudden blurted inquiry. Her eyes widened as she looked to Ron. She took in the frazzled look on his face and the way his freckles seemed to disappear under his slowly brightening face.

“Why on earth would you say that?”

“The night that I came for you I saw you at the dance,” Ron answered, his face reddening in shame at the memory. “You were snogging another bloke.”

Hermione’s own face went a bright shade of scarlet and she covered her face with her hands. She had no idea that Ron had seen she and Severus snogging, but the knowledge that he had made her want to die of shame and humiliation.

“I can explain,” Hermione began, unsure of how exactly to phrase it. “This boy in the past, he helped us to make the potion to get back to our future.”

Ron stared at Hermione a full moment, trying to understand the weight of what she was saying to him. Some bloke had forced himself on Hermione? That didn’t add up. She had seemed very into the kiss when he’d come upon her.

“Well, did you care for him?”

“Of course not!” Hermione lied, her eyes squinting. “I barely even knew him! He was kissing me and I didn’t want to upset him. I worried if I didn’t kiss him back that he’d foul everything up. I couldn’t take a chance that we wouldn’t get back.”

Hermione felt sick. She was terrible at lying but poor Ron seemed to be nodding in agreement. How could she lie to him like this? With such ease? She was turning into a horrible person! The kind of person that snogged boys behind her boyfriend’s back.

“Who was he?” Ron inquired warily.   Hermione never lied to him and so he felt his anger slowly abating, turning into petulance.

“Someone who died in the war,” Hermione finished quickly.  There. That didn’t feel so much like a lie. Snape had died in the war… in a way. In another life… In another time.  It was easier to say it aloud.

“Well I’m not interested in being your second choice over some dead bloke,” Ron huffed, looking crossly off into the distance. Hermione could  see that he was grinding his teeth in anger. “We’ve been through so much Hermione-“

“I know,” Hermione interrupted, knowing that Ron was about to go off on a rant. “It’s just that I’m so preoccupied with Harry. I haven’t given much thought to us. I swear Ron I care about you so much. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to show it more.”

She surprised herself at the realization that what she was saying was true. She did care for Ron. Ron who had been by her side to defeat the Dark Lord. The same boy who liked her because she was brilliant and funny. The same boy who saved the House Elves not because he was trying to impress her, but because he saw their value.

Before she could think more on it she had gripped Ron’s face in her hands and launched herself against him mouth-first.

“Oh!”

Ron gathered her into his arms immediately, responding to her mouth on his. He kissed her hungrily, his body stiffening as Hermione perched herself upon his lap. His hands were travelling her body, wanting to touch every inch of her.

“’Mione,” Ron murmured against her mouth, his hands fumbling for the buttons on her robe. “I want you so badly-“

Their mouths were pressed together once more, Hermione’s eyes shuttering closed as he worked his hands down her body. This is what she wanted; a boy who wanted her back. Not a man who looked at her as if she were nothing. An engaged man at that!

Stop thinking about him.

She allowed Ron to open her robes, his hands sliding upwards to cup her breasts. She moaned into his mouth, feeling a bit disingenuous as her minds turned to Severus. Severus’ own hands had been more deft, his kissing not slobbery like Ron’s.

Well Severus isn’t here anymore. Best move on.

Ron’s hands were coming to ghost over her nipple and Hermione’s own hands were on the belt of his trousers, unbuckling him at a mad pace. They only stopped at the sudden clatter of pots being dropped on the floor accompanied by a very surprised:

“Merlin’s Beard!”

The two lovers jumped apart like scared cats as Molly Weasley’s voice broke through their fevered kissing.  Hermione threw the woman a stricken look before pulling her robe closed once more, praying that Molly hadn’t seen her in just her bra. She staggered to a standing position as Ron stared up at her, looking drowsily to her face.

“No need to rush off Hermione!” Miss Weasley insisted, feeling poorly for interrupting the two. She wanted so much for their match to work out. She could only imagine the wondrous marriage the two would have.

“No no,” Hermione mumbled, pushing her hair behind her ear. She was unable to meet Ron or Molly’s eyes. “It’s fine. I’ve got to be getting back to school. Curfew. Bye Ron.”

Humiliation staining her cheeks she rushed away from the two of them, into the clearing and Disapparated. Ron watched after her, long after Molly had chided him for snogging on the front steps. His lips still buzzed from their ministrations and a large, goofy smile spread over his pale features.

“See you later, Hermione.”

Chapter Text

“Severus?”

Snape looked up from his notebook at the sound, his eyes squinty from fatigue. Glancing at the clock on his far wall he was surprised to note that he’d been reading for hours. He hadn’t even stopped to take tea or supper.

He was determined to help aid in this dilemma. It was the least he could do for Minerva, a woman who was more like a mother to him than he let on. Besides, he still felt a bit shite for hitting Potter with the Sectum Sempra during the battle. An accident of course, but still something that shamed him if he thought about it.  

 He straightened, wincing as his back gave a crack and turned his attention to the woman at the door of his office. His fiancée Alice stood there stiffly, a placid look on her features. Her high cheekbones and sleek chignon gave her the air of sophistication.  She was a few years his senior, but still remained a trim figure and pleasing countenance.

“Hello ,” Snape replied with a small furrow of confusion sliding across his brow. “Were we meeting this evening?”

“No,” Alice shook her head lightly and stepped further into the office. “I was going to grab drinks with some of the lads from work and I wondered if you’d like to come along? ”

 “I’m afraid not tonight,” Snape replied wearily indicating to his notes. “I’ve been tasked with a rather time sensitive task. No time for drinks with your colleagues.”

“A shame,” Alice frowned a bit. She wasn’t the type to pout or act overly emotional.  She stepped into the room, glancing over Snape’s shoulder to see the notes he was glancing at. It was all gibberish to her. She always found Snape’s spiky writing to be quite unreadable at times.

 “Are you nervous?” Snape asked over his shoulder.

Socialization was a key part of advancement in the Portkey office of the Ministry. Many nights were spent with Alice formulating plans on how to become more endearing to her workmates. It was quite the gentleman’s club and she was not particularly effusive or warm with them. She was however, quite clever and deserved advancement.

“A bit,” Alice said with a shrug. “It’s just ever since Vincent-“

“I know,” Snape cut her off gently, not needing her to keep explaining. He didn’t enjoy when she got that withdrawn look on her face.  

Vincent Crockford, Alice’s first husband had died years ago on the job. He had also worked at the Ministry in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastophes. Alice had thrown herself into her work, spending all her time at the office. And yet despite all her hard work she was still in a low-level position. It hadn’t mattered when Vincent was alive, but when she was alone with her thoughts all she wanted was to be busy.

Meeting Severus had been a balm to her weary soul. Of course she had heard of him in the papers. Knowledge of his double agency had been whispered for months within the Ministry. In photos from the papers he looked feral and angry. So when she met him at an apothecary shop looking for the extra strength valerian she had been surprised to see how… Normal he appeared.

He’d been polite and kind and even explained what proper materials she needed for the  extra strength wide-dreamless sleep potion she had been trying to brew. 

He’d noticed immediately how exhausted she looked; the dark circles under her eyes and the grey-ish pallor to her skin. He’d invited her for a coffee at a nearby café. She had surprised herself by saying yes. It had simply been a drink between friends where they spoke of work and he of research. It had been so comfortable for both that they had agreed to meet again the next week. Upon their second meeting Snape had given her a month’s supply of Dreamless Sleep potion.

And so it had carried on until they were meeting twice a week, then four times and eventually they began to live together in her small flat. He told her of Lily and she told him of Vincent. They were a good match of personality; calm and collected.  Soon she didn’t need the Dreamless Sleep.

He would never replace Vincent- both of them knew that. But hurtling into middle age with someone who was patient and understanding? It seemed more than either of them could hope for.  She never asked much of his time or his attention.  He never showed jealousy when she was out for drinks with her peers. Making love was perfunctory and at times minorly pleasurable. But the ghosts of their former loves were like a shroud over them, never fully shaken. And so it was a rare occurrence at best.

Now she stood there with the small family ring on her finger, twiddling it nervously.  She always got anxious before events with the lads.

“Just remember that you’re so much cleverer than the lot of them,” Snape said with a small smirk. “No need to fear them.”

Alice gave him a small, warm nod.  “I suppose I’ll see you this weekend then? I thought we could visit Ireland and see about that convention.”

“Of course,” Snape replied with an easy nod. “I look forward to it.”

“Well, good night then.”

She pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of his mouth and was gone. Snape watched after her a moment before going back to his notes. So far his researching of old notes had given him no further indication of what the spell could be.

His mind flitted to his previous meeting with Minerva and the Granger girl. A small frown spread across his features as he recalled her stiff posture and almost terrified expression. That girl was so strange. Much more reserved and withdrawn than she had been in previous years. What had changed?

Something niggled at the back of his mind as he recalled what Minerva had said – Miss Granger had been at the Masquerade. Likely she had been at Hogwarts a short time before and yet he couldn’t place her. Even as a youth he had been particularly attentive to the goings on at Hogwarts.

You were also very distractedly working for Tom Riddle.

Still something didn’t settle well in his chest.  The Granger girl had also mentioned that Lucius had been under his tutelage. In all his time he had never had the displeasure of trying to teach Lucius anything. The man was arrogant as a teen as much as he had been as a grown man.

Lucius.

A pang went through him as he recalled his friend and his death in St. Mungo’s. Suicide. Had he ever foreseen that fate for such a man? He felt a tear threatening to fall and he quickly blinked it away.  And now with Draco’s disappearance on top of everything? A resolution fell over him, distracting him from other thoughts: as soon as he was done trying to help with Potter, his next task would be to find Draco Malfoy.

***

Hermione blustered down the hall, horrified to see that she was just past curfew. She prayed she wouldn’t be running into any professors. She couldn’t handle detention on top of everything else this week.  She turned the corner quickly, her mind elsewhere.

With my luck it’ll be Snape that-

Her negative train of thought was immediately broken as a tall form bumped into her harshly around the corner. Hermione winced, falling backwards and glancing up the lavender colored robes.

“Oh, I apologize,“ the woman with rust-colored hair offered primly. She brushed at her robes as if Hermione were covered in dirt. “I was in a dash and didn’t see you.”

“It’s fine,” Hermione said in a voice barely above a whisper.  She staggered to her feet, bringing her bookbag onto her shoulder as she did. “You’re Se- You’re professor Snape’s fiancée.”

“I am,” the woman offered with a small smile that didn’t quite touch her eyes. “And you are?”

“A student of his,” Hermione said with a shallow smile. “He’s a very good professor.”

“Oh good.”

The two women stood awkwardly across from one another in the quiet corridor. The portraits littering the walls were quiet and many slumbering. Alice took a glance and saw how flustered the young woman looked.  She took a moment to truly look at her face and recognized her immediately from the papers.

“You’re the Granger girl,” Alice said in quiet admiration. “You’re one of the-“

“Yes,” Hermione said, stopping her from going on. She hated it when people talked about it. She didn’t feel like a hero, especially right now. She felt remarkably like dung.

“Yes, well,” Alice had the good grace to look a bit awkward. “I thank you for all you did. Especially at such a young age.”

Hermione nodded stiffly, her eyes glued to Alice’s fashionable shoes. How could she meet her eyes? The eyes of the woman who Snape now had and called his own? How could she do it in good conscience knowing that she was in love with him?

“I’d best be off,” Alice offered suddenly noticing that the girl looked uncomfortable. “I’m to meet colleagues. It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Granger.”

She stuck out a hand quickly, and Hermione swallowed.  It was perfectly manicured a nice shade of pale pink. Snape was marrying a woman with pink fingernails. The thought made Hermione lightheaded. And yet, she took a deep breath and shook the woman’s hand firmly.

“Pleasure,” Hermione offered sotto voce. The two woman nodded and stepped past one another, moving down the corridor in opposite directions. Their footsteps were slow and measured.

“I hope you make him happy.”

Hermione’s eyes widened, shocked that she’d actually said the words aloud. Alice turned slightly, her eyes suddenly narrowing on the young woman a few paces from her. Hermione’s back was to her.

“I beg your pardon?”

“He’s a good man,” Hermione continued, unable to stop or face her. “You need to treat him well. He’s been through so much. Be good to him.”

Before she could say anything more incriminating and with her heart in her throat, Hermione rushed down the corridor and out of sight.

Alice stared after the bushy haired girl, long after she’d run from the corridor. After a few moments of silent thought she continued her way down the corridor and out into the cold night.

***

Hermione sat on her bed, taking a moment to reflect on the day’s events.  Snogging Ron. Being caught by Molly Weasley. Running into Snape’s fiancée. Blurting all of that out. Running from her like a coward. It was all too much.

She sighed sadly to herself, rubbing Crookshanks behind the ear as he crawled onto the bed to join her.

She leaned back against her pillows, noting that she should take some notes. Write down all she could remember of that night. Perhaps it would give them some insight into how the potion was made. She had to stop feeling sorry for herself and actually contribute.

She reached for some parchment on her nightstand, irritated to find that it was bare.

Bare. Naked. Naked as Alice as she and Snape-

“Stop!” Hermione shouted aloud, scaring Crookshanks into climbing down and under her bed. She slammed a fist into her duvet, angry that he was continuing to invade her mind.

She was tired of thinking of him. Caring about a man who couldn’t care less for her. She needed to distract herself. She had to make some notes, to refresh her memory of that night. She wanted to make sure she didn't miss anything. She had to focus. She reached into her book bag, frowning a bit as her fingers brushed something warm and solid.

She pulled the glass item from the bag, instantly recognizing the vial of amortentia that Ginny had given her at dinner. She uncorked the vial, bringing it to her nose and inhaling deeply. There was more concentration in this small dose and more scents began to assail her.

Fresh mown grass in the summer.

Peppermint toothpaste in her parents dental office.

Fresh parchment.

Cinnamon cookies that her grandmother used to make.

And there, beneath it all. A musky, masculine smell. When she recognized it she nearly dropped the vial. All of a sudden she was transported to that moment beside the lake.

She felt his hand come to cup her face, his palm cool against her blushing cheek. His thumb absently ran along her jaw, back and forth.

It was the scent of his warm skin on hers. It was the scent of his hair, damp from saving her in the lake. It was that moment crystallized. That moment she had first begin to feel something for Severus.

The tears began to fall freely then, dampening her pillow as she curled up into a ball.

Chapter Text

 

“I went over my notes extensively this weekend.”

 Snape was seated across from McGonagall that Monday afternoon, looking more than a little exhausted. The two had been in private counsel for only a moment, but Snape was never one to mince words. His arms were folded over his chest, a cup of untouched tea before him.

“They gave nothing of value.”

Minerva uttered a swear under her breath, surprising Snape for he rarely heard the woman utter such phrases. She looked older somehow in the past month than she ever had. He leaned back in his chair, his shoulders aching from his weekend long surveying over his desk. 

Suddenly Minerva looked on the edge of tears, another first for her and Snape surveyed her quietly from between the parting curtain of his hair.

“I bloody knew it,” she moaned lowly. “I just knew that my run as Headmistress was going to end before it even began. Following a man like Dumbledore? How could I ever live up to-“

Snape suddenly raised a palm in her direction to still her from speaking. “As someone quite wise once said to me when I was a student; comparison is the thief of joy.”

Minerva gave him a watery smile before nodding.  Minerva’s chair creaked as she pushed back from it and stood, walking in a line behind her chair and back again. She found it good for helping her focus. Snape watched this completely still, only his eyes moving as she journeyed.

“Your research truly indicated, nothing, Severus?

Snape stretched his long legs out a moment before shifting back. “Not only was there nothing of value, there was also nothing that suggested the three of them made any mark in that timeframe whatsoever.”

“Well, Miss Granger did say that many of the students drank the punch which erased all memory of them,” Minerva offered with a shrug. “A very complicated potion. My assumption is that to ensure the safety of timelines, Albus likely used a memory charm on everyone who came into continual contact with the three of them to ensure they would be forgotten.”

“That sounds like Albus.”

“Do you think you were similarly affected?”

“Doubtful. As Potter grew, The Dark Lord would have found such memories within my mind with ease,” Snape said with a shake of his head. “No, nothing remains. If anything, Albus likely Obliviated me.”

“Surprising,” Minerva mumbled.

“Not if you knew him well,” was Snape’s sardonic reply, complete with a shadow of a sneer.

Minerva looked contemplative a moment before sighing. “You know what must be done then?”

“Of course,” Snape nodded. “Someone is going to have to go back to the night it happened.”

 “And that’s where we end,” Minerva finally said, rubbing her temples in frustration. “Because without the opening in the other time, or the timeturner, we’re completely out of luck.  How can we possibly do it? I’ve researched into and there’s no way to piggy back off of the initial wormhole they’ve created. We do that and there’s a chance they’ll never make it back at all.”

There was a pause, and Snape replied in his usual direct way. “Did you not think it strange that the time turner was able to take them so far back? Usually a few twists will give you a few hours at most.”

“I thought it was perhaps a malfunction?” Minerva offered. In truth she had been so distracted and anxious during their departure and then so relieved at their safe return that thoughts of how they’d managed it had been pushed aside. Now that he was saying it, she was shocked she'd overlooked it. 

“A time turner would never malfunction like that independently,” Snape said with a posturing look. “But with the aid of something else? Entirely possible.”

“But they had nothing else with them.” Minerva’s brow furrowed. “Miss Granger explained everything to me. No other items were involved.”

“Tell me everything Miss Granger told you,” Snape insisted, his eyes narrowing.

Minerva took her seat once more, taking tea cup in hand and began from the start of the entire journey. Ron coming to her to inform her of his friend’s departure from the Room of Requirement, the disappearing from photographs, the note on the back of Dippet’s frame and more. Severus sat listening patiently until she finished and then looked thoughtful.

“I need to speak with Miss Granger.”

***

Hermione was seated in charms, taking furious notes when there came a knock at the door. All eyes drew to it as it creaked open and Severus Snape of all people darkened the doorway. He scanned the room before his eyes finally sought her out.

“Miss. Granger.”

He said each word as if separate. Each set of eyes in the room turned to stare at Hermione. She, the golden girl of Hogwarts, was in trouble?  The entire room was silent and even Professor Flitwick, stood on a large podium at the front of the class was uncharacteristically silent.

Without further instruction, Hermione dropped her quill back into its pot and shoved her notebook in her book bag. She hastened a glance upwards to see Snape staring at her with a bored expression on his face.

The mere sight of this caused Hermione’s stomach to drop unexpectedly. Was he angry? She couldn’t tell. Had that fiancée of his told him what she’d said when they’d run into one another? Had she been found out? Her cheeks immediately reddened as she ducked her head and gathered her things.

“Miss Granger, I’ll ensure the notes from the rest of the class are passed along,” Flitwick said with a curious look. It wasn’t like Hermione Granger to be in trouble.

She nodded politely, weaving her way through the students towards where Snape stood watching her from the doorframe.

He shifted slightly to allow her to move past him into the empty corridor. His eyes followed her the entire journey. When the door to Flitwick’s classroom was closed he indicated for her to follow him.

His footsteps were nearly silent as he moved past her. Her eyes were on his back as he led her silently down the corridor, down the long meandering staircases until they were at his office door. He mumbled something as they entered and Hermione strained to hear it.

“Take a seat.”

Hermione watched as he stood behind her, walking slowly around his desk. Was she going to be in trouble? Was he going to admonish her? Worse, humiliate her? His back was to her as he glanced at the shelves of his office, looking remarkably unaffected by her presence.

“I want a detailed account of your journey with Mister Potter and Malfoy.”

Oh thank goodness. He doesn’t know.

“I already told the Headmistress everything.” Hermione looked confused, twisting in her seat to keep her eyes on him.  “When I woke up in the Infirmary”

“I’m sure you did,” Snape replied flatly, moving stealthily towards his seat and sitting heavily. “However I am not the Headmistress. And I require information that only you yourself can give me.”

His dark eyes seared into her and she found herself flustered. Her dark eyes fell to the floor, and her hands twisted in her lap.  She hated being this close to him, alone and so uneasy. She hated that she was close enough to see the whites of his nail bed, the eyelashes sweeping over his cheeks as he blinked.

“Specifically I want to know how everything started,” Snape said quietly breaking her of her thoughts. “When you left here and arrived in the past.”

Hermione nodded, inhaling deeply before raising her eyes to meet his a moment before moving swiftly to the wall of jars behind the Potion Master’s head. There. That was better.  She could do this. She simply needed to think of it as an assignment. Homework.

“Ron, Harry and I were in the Room of Requirement,” Hermione said, her mind going to that fateful day.  

“Why?”

“Pardon, sir?”

“I said why, Miss Granger?” Snape said exasperatedly. “Why were you three in the Room of Requirement?”

“Oh,” Hermione’s cheek pinked at the passive aggression in his tone. “I wanted a chance for the three of us to catch up. To visit like old times. But Ron was hungry so he dashed out to grab some supper.”

“And I can only assume that Potter didn’t care much for catching up. More focused on having the Time Turner in his grasp.”

Hermione said nothing. She wouldn’t do Harry the disservice.

Snape inwardly sighed. The girl looked so anxious sitting across from him. She had always been an annoyance in his classroom, a blight of a thing with Weasley and Potter. But she’d never been this cagey before. Had the war done this to her? Was the Miss Granger of easy smiles and continual questioning gone, never to return? A part of him privately mourned that thought. War was such waste.  

“When you entered into the past and you exited the Room of Requirement-“

“We didn’t exit from the Room of Requirement,” Hermione interrupted. “We found ourselves in the closet of Lil-… Of Harry’s mother.”

She saw Snape’s eyes widen a fraction before he nodded, looking thoughtful.

“You were in the Room of Requirement and when you were sent into the past, you found yourself in the Head girl’s room.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re quite sure?” his eyes narrowed on her.

“Yes, sir.”

Snape nodded, moving towards the hearth before indicating that she should join him. On shaking legs she made her way over to him. Without warning his hand reached out, grabbing her to him as his free hand reached into the floo powder. Hermione felt her stomach and heart lurch as the Professor pulled her towards him and they entered the hearth.

Headmistress McGonagall’s Office.

***

Her hearth roared a green spitting fire and Minerva watched as Hermione and Snape made their way through the green flames.  The man looking anxious and the girl looking flushed as they ambled towards her desk.

“Severus? Miss Granger?”

“Speaking with Miss Granger  just now I’ve realized something rather extraordinary,” Snape came to stand before Minerva, his hands braced on the edge of her desk.

“By all means,” Minerva dropped the quill she’d been writing with and looked around Snape’s frame at Hermione standing on the far side of the room. “Go on, Miss Granger.”

“I’m afraid I don’t really know what’s happening,” Hermione faltered. She was watching Snape’s back, confused as to why she’d been brought here. And another part of her tingled all over at having been momentarily brushed up against him in the hearth. He’d felt so warm and his mouth so close…

“We know that Granger, Potter and Malfoy left via the Room of Requirement, correct?"

"Correct."

"But I’ve just been informed that this is not where they ended up in the past.”

Immediately Hermione felt her skin prickling. She thought she knew where he was going with this and suddenly her body felt electric. She drew over to the two others, her eyes widening.

 “But why would the Time Turner send them to another location?” Minerva was asking aloud. But as she asked it, slow realization slowly crossed Minerva’s and Hermione’s face.

“Because it wasn’t the time turner,” Hermione offered slowly, raising her face so that she could meet Snape’s eyes. He gave her a small nod.

 “Indeed. I postulate that it wasn’t the time turner that did it at all,” Snape said with a raise of his brow. “But the Room of Requirement itself.”

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The three of them stood in the office looking thoughtfully at one another. Snape’s observation was laying heavily upon the trio. As usual, it was Hermione who broke the silence with an question of her own that she couldn’t keep contained.

“So you’re saying that the Room of Requirement can transcend time?” Her brow furrowed. “I don’t understand. From all I’ve read the Room shouldn’t be able to do that.”

“The Room of Requirement is by its very nature a room that appears when you have need of it,” Snape said flatly. “The Room can anticipate your needs before you enter it, can it not?”

“Yes.”

“Then we can deduce that the room anticipated you’d need a way to enter the past. To that specific time.”

“But I was there first,” Hermione deferred. “I wasn’t thinking about going back in time. Just that I wanted things to be like old times. Before the war.”

Snape rolled his shoulders as if they were excessively sore. Hermione watched this motion, remembering when young Severus did this when he wrote too long. A pang went through her chest at the familiar sight.

She watched as he pursed his lips in thought and Hermione couldn’t help but feel her own mouth part.

I’ve kissed those lips.

As if he could hear her, his eyes drew over to where she stood. Hermione immediately drew her gave over to Minerva, giving her a shaky smile. She had to stop drawing attention to herself. She was behaving ridiculously. She was supposed to be focused on Harry for goodness sake!

 “You said yourself you were thinking you wanted to go back to the way things were,” Snape said softly. The sound of it broke Hermione from her momentary reverie. Yet she still didn’t meet his eyes.

“Yes, sir.”

“And Potter, when he entered, was thinking he wanted to see his parents? You said he desired the Time Turner.”

“Correct. But Ron?”

“Mister Weasley was likely thinking of nothing,” Snape smirked before continuing. “When he left and Malfoy entered, the latter too wanted to see his father. The mutual desires likely overwhelmed the Room and it gave you exactly what it perceived you wanted. A chance to go back to the way things were. Only the way things were in the seventies when the young Potter and Malfoy were both alive.”

Hermione watched as he gave her a smug look. It was the exact look he’d given her when they’d dealt with the blast-ended skrewt and she’d messed up. She felt her body tensing with a barely suppressed irritation at the sight. He shouldn’t still be able to do that face. He should be a stranger in every action.

 “The way you talk about it, almost like the castle is…sentient,” Hermione offered with a strange disbelieving smile. “I don’t think that’s possible.“

“Stop thinking like the Muggle you were,” Snape snapped. “Think like the witch you are. The Room simply took your combined desires and did exactly as you wished. Why is that so hard to believe?”

“But the Time Turner?” Minerva broke in, her own brow furrowed. She had heard of the magic within the halls of Hogwarts. But still the fact remained – what did the time turner have to do with all of this?

“A mere conduit,” Snape replied tersely.

“My goodness.”

Hermione who had been silently taking in the information and watching the two cleared her throat. “What do we do now?”

“It seems my nursemaiding of Potter is never to be done,” Snape looked at Minerva darkly as he spoke. “We must go back.”

“We?”  Minerva fixed him with a shocked look. “You can’t be serious, Severus. You don’t propose the three of us return?”

“The three of us? No,” Snape shook his head. “Your presence is required here at all times, Minerva. Miss Granger, however, will be accompanying me.”

“Me?”Hermione nearly yelped in surprise at that statement. Not only did she have very little interest in going back in time and possibly being stuck there again; she had absolutely zero desire to do it with the tall sullen man standing across from her.

“Nonsense,” Minerva huffed.

“You know the dangers of time travel,” Snape said with a cavalier shrug. “Going in doubles is always advised should something happen. Especially given the strange way the travel itself occurred.”

“It’s too risky,” Minerva shook her head. “Even with a mask on you’d stand out, Severus. How could you blend in and test the punch? It would be a disaster. Worse if they called the Aurors on you. How could you explain it? That you’re from the future? They’d never believe it.”

“I wouldn’t be the one entering the party,” Snape replied coolly. “If what you’ve both told me is true, then Miss Granger was at that party. She mingled with the guests and was not the least suspicious. She will be the one to gather a sample and I will be there to ensure her safe return.”

“But what if you run into your former selves?”

“We won’t,” Hermione interjected suddenly. She knew that what Snape was saying was correct. She needed to do this to save Harry.  “I know exactly where I was before the party. I was in my rooms getting ready for the Masquerade. We simply need to go before the party even began. Malfoy surely dropped the potion into the punch before everyone arrived.”

“That’s a lot of guesswork. What if you never return?” Minerva asked, her hands trembling slightly at her side. “We’ll have no way of communicating.”

“No, we will,” Hermione insisted. “You know the portrait of the Fat Lady?”

“Yes.”

“If something goes wrong, we’ll write on the back of her frame.”

“It’s too risky,” Minerva shook her head. “It’s bad enough to have Mister Potter partially gone. To think of losing the two of you as well? It’s unimaginable.”

Hermione glanced over at a taciturn Snape. She could tell he was uncomfortable with the showcase of emotion. His features were schooled and his shoulders were scrunched up in silent irritation.

She could understand Minerva’s despair. Just imagining having him ripped from her entirely once more was a frightening thought. Was better to have him here and alive in this time, even if he wasn’t hers. Her heart could survive it, if he continued to live.

“I will not speak for Miss Granger,” Snape sniffed. “But regardless I leave in ten minutes.”

With that he had strolled from the office and out into the inky black of the night. He was likely headed to the Room of Requirement. The two women watched him leave in quiet observation.  A large part of Hermione knew that this had to be done. Harry’s life depended on it and she needed to brave on.

I could see Severus again.

The thought crossed her mind unbidden, surprising her into a desire for action. She knew it was wrong to harbor such a selfish sentiment.  Especially given their dramatic end. But the thought of being held in Severus’ arms and tasting his lips once more had her entire body crackling with sudden desire and energy.

“You know I need to go,” Hermione said softly to Minerva. The woman stared at her a long moment, looking as if she was battling internally. A small, pressured smirk appeared at the corner of her twitching lips.

“When have I ever been able to stop you before?”

Hermione launched herself at the Headmistress, wrapping her in a large embrace before pulling back.

“I promise we’ll be safe. I promise.”

With that she had rushed from the Office and towards the room of Requirement. Minerva’s eyes were on her until she too blended into the darkness of the night and was gone.

Perhaps forever.

 

***

Hermione rounded the corridor on the seventh floor and suddenly paused. Would she need her costume?  She rushed to her room, grabbing her mask and robes from the evening she returned. Then she dashed towards the Room of Requirement, her feet sounding out loudly against the flagship floor.

Snape was there, standing in the corridor before where the room usually appeared. He looked tired and frustrated. But when he saw her approach she could have sworn she saw a flicker of pride cross his features.

“Do we need to bring anything?”

“I fetched a vial.” Snape held up the small vial with its cork stopper.  “We need to go over details as quickly as possible. Without knowing of the potion and its ingredients we may be already be fighting a lost cause.”

“You mean Harry could stay like this?” Hermione felt her eyes filling with tears. “Forever not knowing who he is?”

Thoughts of Ginny’s sorrow and Ron’s disappointment clouded her vision. The image of Harry trying to hold back tears in the hospital bed assaulted her.  She felt her own eyes growing wet and she blinked rapidly to stop their descent down her cheeks.

“It’s possible.” Snape didn’t look to perturbed one way or the other. Then he noticed her wet eyes and rolled his own in disgust.  “Do stop your maudlin tears, Miss Granger. Unless they possess the same qualities as a phoenix, they are completely useless to me.”

Hermione was struck by his dismissive tone coupled with the confusing observation that Snape no longer owed anything to Lily. He had done as she’d asked. He’d helped Harry defeat Voldemort. And yet here Snape was, still risking his life for him. But why?

“Why are you doing this?” She peered into his face and found only an unreadable expression there.  

“Miss Granger, do you never do things simply because they are the right thing to do?”

He took advantage of the girl’s sudden silence, not noticing the way her eyes widened and mouth slightly parted. She looked downright shocked, but he had no desire to venture why. They needed to focus and they needed to act quickly.

“Now, I need you to think of the singular thought: I need to go back to the afternoon of the Masquerade. Over and over. Do you understand?”

“Yes sir.”

“Very well.”

The two of them began to walk side by side down one end of the corridor and then back to the other. Back and forth. The entire time Hermione thought of what he requested. And along with that, her mind filled with Severus. She wished it didn’t, but she couldn’t help it. 

Finally a door appeared and the two of them walked through it. Hermione was surprised to notice that it was much smaller than anticipated.

“Interesting,” Snape murmured.

The space was not much bigger than a closet. She was uncomfortably close to Snape. He stared down at her from his long nose.

“Do you have a timepiece?”

“I… I don’t,” Hermione offered lamely.  She hadn’t thought of that part. What could act as a conduit for them now? Snape didn’t seem too bothered.

“No matter. This will do.”

In a dramatic motion he had begun to pluck the top buttons of his cloak with his right hand. Hermione watched transfixed as he loosened the top of his collar, showing a hint of a silvery scar that ticked along with his heartbeat. Nagini’s bite.

What the fuck is he doing with his shirt?

Hermione felt her insides roiling at the sight. Was he going to undress? But why?  But before her thoughts could turn more carnal, he had slipped a forefinger underneath the collar and brought out something he was wearing around his neck.

It was on a long, gold chain and it the circular pendant nestled in Snape’s palm. It looked expensive and beautiful and Hermione was immediately enchanted.

“It’s a compass,” Hermione said with a small tilt of her head. “How strange. I’ve never known a wizard to carry one.”

It was true – why would a wizard have need for one when they could easily use a Point Me charm?

“It was a gift,” Snape replied tersely and immediately Hermione stiffed. A gift from Alice? A small niggle of jealousy clouded her vision. She frowned deeply before turning her attention to the task at hand.

“Now focus, Miss Granger,” Snape was saying.  “I need you to grip one end, much like you would have the Time Turner. I will grip the other.”

Hermione did as he asked, feeling a jolt as her fingertips bumped into his. He didn’t notice her discomfiture, or if he did he paid it no mind.

“Close your eyes and imagine that afternoon. Just before the party.”

He closed his own eyes and Hermione found herself staring at him a moment longer. His lovely dark lashes against the pale pallor of his cheeks. The softness of his mouth when not pursed in irritation. She let her eyes slide closed slowly, taking it all in.

And soon that face in front of her had grown younger until in her mind she saw the Severus Snape of Slytherin House as a young man. A brooding teenager who wanted her.  Her heart sang at the memory of Severus. By the lake, brushing her hair from her face. Saving her from drowning. Kissing her roughly against the wall. The tender looks of admiration as they brewed together. All of these feelings suddenly overwhelmed her and she felt breathless.

It was at that moment that she realized the room was spinning. Much like it had that first night they were sent back in time. A brilliant white light seemed to be encasing them in the small closet. She felt Snape’s fingertip absently brush against hers as the brightness enveloped them completely.

Hermione closed her eyes and surrendered.

Chapter Text

She knew they’d arrived before she even opened her eyes. The past felt… different somehow. It was like slipping into a familiar book – it just had the feeling of ease.

“We’re here.”

She opened her eyes finally to see Snape staring down at her with an unreadable expression on his face. She dropped her hand from the compass, watching as he slipped it into his robe pocket.

“We’re in the Room of Requirement still,” Hermione observed lamely. “Not in the Head Girl room like last time.”

“The room obviously knew that wouldn’t be imperative.”

“Professor, why didn’t this happen before to other people?” Hermione asked quietly. “I mean, why did it send Harry and Draco and I through time in the first place? I’ve never heard of it happening before.”

“Perhaps it felt it was necessary.” He stood with his arms crossed, looking glumly at the small space they occupied. H

“But there have been so many other times others may have wished for the same thing,” Hermione said with a frown.

“Perhaps they never found the room,” Snape shrugged. “Or perhaps there was a specific thing the room thought you needed to fix.”

Thoughts of a young boy with no friends, who loved Hogwarts more than anyone flashed through Hermione’s mind. Was it possible that the castle had wanted her to save Severus Snape?

She could never really know, could she?

“Now, if you’ve finished asking me mundane questions, I suggest you get a move on. Time is short.”
He handed her the vial, his fingertips brushing hers. She immediately prickled everywhere, swallowing lightly as he spoke.

“You’ll also need this. Place the strip into the punch bowl. Should it turn green, this means it’s been tampered with. You’ll know its time to collect the sample. Keep your presence subtle. Simply go to the great hall, collect the sample and return here. Be quick.”

Hermione shoved the strip and the vial into her pocket, looking up to Snape. “You’re not coming, sir?”

“I’ll remain here,” Snape said. “Lest my younger self be prowling about. I trust you can follow simple instruction?”

“Of course, sir.”

“Then go quickly. We haven’t all the time in the world.”

Hermione took furtive look at him, her dark eyes scanning his face a moment before she gave a resolute nod. She took a deep breath,pulling on the door and slipping out into the corridor.

***

Hermione gave a terse smile to the students that she passed. But she did her best not to be drawn into conversation. Instead she looked straight ahead, barreling down the corridor.

When she came upon the office of Slughorn she saw that the gargoyle who had been guarding the party had not yet been enchanted. The doors opened with a creak. Hermione poked her head inside and observed that things were being finalized for the party. Many of the food items were still not places and Hermione could see a few elves finishing the final decorations.

She saw the large punch bowl sat where it had been the night of the event. She quickly drew over to it, ignoring the elves muttering that she shouldn’t be at the party yet. Seemed she was just as popular with elves in the past as she was in the present.

She drew the small strip from her pocket and slipped it into the peachy punch. She pulled it back and looked for the green shade. Instead it stayed a peachy pink and Hermione felt panic grip her.

Shite.

The punch hadn’t been tampered with yet.

What was she going to do? Judging by the state of things, the party wouldn’t actually be starting for another hour at least. Was she too early?

“What am I going to do?”

She heard the door being creaked open behind her and in a moment of panic she threw herself under the buffet table. The skirt of the tablecloth hid her from view, or so she hoped.

She watched as two brown loafers casually strolled over towards the table. There was the unmistakable sound of a vial being uncorked and liquid being dropped into the punch bowl. A soft dark chuckle sounded and Hermione winced at the sound.

Lucius Malfoy.

She watched as the shoes quickly moved away from the table and out the doors once more. Hermione let out a sigh of relief. She slipped thevial into the punch bowl, until it was filled to the brim. When she was satisfied she corked it and plopped it back into her robe.

Alright. Time to head home. Fix Harry.

She smiled, knowing that this was the right course of action. She had done it – she had saved her friend! She felt her heart jump in joy at that. But suddenly a dark train of thought crossed her.

Back to the present where Snape is engaged.

Where I don’t love Ron.

Where I still love Severus.

All of a sudden her feet started moving, as if of their own volition. She knew that what she was thinking was absurd.

She knew what she had to do.

***

Snape was going to kill her if he found out.

The third floor was rather desolate, and in Hermione's opinion far too quiet on a night like this. But she supposed most of the students would be preparing for the event.

“I just want to see him one last time,” Hermione muttered aloud. “I just want to say goodbye.”

She needed the closure. She needed to be able to look him in the eyes and say goodbye within her. To break that connection of her own personal choice. She couldn’t continue to be in love with a man who knew nothing of their past.

She heard some chuckles from down the corridor and she ducked into the right to avoid them. She passed a case holding several antique broomsticks and nearly gasped in shock as she gave it a passing glance.

There reflected, standing at the side of the corridor was Snape. His nose was buried in a book and he was anxiously tapping his thigh as he read. He was so achingly beautiful in his own way to her. His dark features and his serious countenance.

"Severus," Hermione breathed, looking to the boy of her fascination. I still want you so badly.

As if feeling her eyes on him, Severus looked up and saw Hermione staring at him with a confused look in her eyes. “Hermione?”
Hermione stood in place, suddenly feeling stupid. What could she say? What had she been thinking? She watched as the tall boy walked over to her, his face tense.

“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the dance?” Severus sneered. “Preparing for your date with Potter?”

All resolve broke within her and Hermione leapt forward into his surprised arms. She pressed her face against his cloak and Severus surprised himself by gripping her back tightly. She felt so right against him.

"Severus," she murmured again against his chest, reveling in the feel of his arms lifting and carrying her as if she were weightless. It was like coming home, feeling his arms around her.

“I’ve missed you,” she said softly, allowing her head to fall on his shoulder, watching his lips from an odd angle as he spoke

“It hasn’t been that long.”

“It feels like forever,” Hermione insisted, nuzzling into his neck. Severus was surprised at this turn of affection, but welcomed it. He pressed a kiss to her temple, suddenly feeling his blood pumping. They felt electric pressed against one another and their bodies hummed in tune.

“Come with me,” Hermione blurted, surprising herself.

"Where are we going?"

"The Astronomy Tower."

That was all she said and his decision was obviously made as he followed her. They made their way into the deserted Astronomy Tower in a matter of moments, avoiding most of the students.

"Oh Severus,” Hermione whispered, feeling strangely emotional as she saw the face of the boy she loved. They stood there a moment, until Hermione dragged him into another tight embrace, wanting to feel him against her. Her cheek was pressed to his chest and in that one, singular feel and smell of the boy she'd fallen for, she lost all resolve. Large tears slipped down her cheeks

"Hermione?" Snape asked curiously, looking to the top of her head. "I thought you were going with Potter to the dance...what's wrong? Why are you crying?"

Hermione brought her tear-stained face up to meet his, seeing only worry in his eyes. The eyes that would soon hold so much more pain than any man should endure. She knew all that he would go through, all that he had been through. It was unfair to ask so much of a boy or even a man. And yet he would live it and she would never be able to tell him.

"It's you," she uttered softly, the unspoken sob lurching in her throat. She let herself trace the back of her hand on his cheek, seeing the confusion in those familiar eyes of his. The fresher looking mouth, the vivid darkness of his hair in contrast with the pallor of his skin.

"Of course it is," Snape said slowly, arching a dark eyebrow skyward as she gazed at him through tear-laden eyelashes. Hermione said nothing, watching the mystic power of his tunnel-like eyes.

With the feel of his warm face against her palm she knew that this was real. She was touching him, feeling him, with him once more. Before she could make herself stop, she'd lurched up on tiptoes, bringing his face to her own. In a matter of seconds, Snape's mouth was on her own, greedily taking all that she had to offer.

They were under the starry sky, the sounds of muffled laughter radiating from inside the castle. But all Hermione heard was she and Severus, the moans and groans that emitted from them as their lips touched. He felt her hands raking down his back, trying to kiss him as deep and full as she could muster. He wasn't used to this much force from her, but wasn't about to object.

Hermione didn't know what she had expected when she saw Severus. She really didn't have a plan. All she wanted to do was kiss him. To feel him. Suddenly her thoughts were clouded and she knew what she felt she wanted. She didn't take the time to rationalize. She was tired of being logical. Right now she just wanted to feel.

Snape backed her against a bench at the far side of the tower, bathed in the starry blanket above them. Hermione barely noticed, her eyes were closed and her senses were her guide. It was Snape that lay her on the bench, kissing her mouth deeply before making a trail of kisses down her chin.

She giggled as his lips reached her neck, tickling and exciting her as she looked to the sky. Twinkles of light, flashing above her as the boy she loved caressed her with his mouth. He was at her collar now, sucking and making her moan.

He had her hands at her side, pinning her body down on the bench with his own. He wasn't that heavy, and part of her loved the rougher side of him. She knew that Professor Snape could never be like this. The man was void of all sexual desire, he had to be. She pushed thoughts of Professor Snape from her mind, refusing to ruin this moment with Severus.

She saw the tip of his dark head, his eyes closed in rapturous abandon. She could feel his arousal, rubbing against her inner thigh as he continued his exploration of her exposed flesh.

Slowly his hands moved to her clothed breasts, pausing before lowering back to her waist, pulling him into her as his mouth returned to her own. Part of him always wanted to ravish her, but another part of him couldn't do it. She seemed above him, as if he should never aim to taint her..

"Severus," Hermione said lightly, slowly bringing his hand up to cup her clothed breast once more, her voice thick with arousal, one leg coming to wrap around his own. "Don't hold back."

Severus was silent a moment, panting slightly, his hair mussed all over looking quite endearing. As if he were processing the words his eyes flicked back and forth over her face.

"I have to." Severus finally said lightly, looking a bit uncomfortable, some of his usual confidence having ceased. Didn't she realize what she was asking him? She knew his volatility; she knew he wouldn't be able to hold back. There was also another reason for his lack of confidence, but he refused to dwell on it. "You know-"

Hermione pressed a light finger to his lips, shaking her head and signaling him to stop. When his lips fell stoic she removed her finger, placing a gentle kiss on his slightly parted lips.

"I know exactly what I'm asking."

Severus suddenly crawled off of her to sit next to her on the bench, his brows suddenly furrowing. She wasn't normally like this. She wasn't normally so intent on this sort of physical contact. She was the type to hug, to kiss. She was never this demanding. And all of what was expected of him tonight assaulted him.

"Please?" she suddenly inquired, ducking her head embarrassed before raising her eyes to meet his. He saw her dark eyes filling with uncertainty, mirroring his own he made his decision. He looked over to her, giving her a shy smile before nodding.

I care for her.

She smiled back at him, sitting up before he moved over to her, allowing her only to prop herself up on her elbows. She was transfixed as she watched his slender fingers coming up to her collar, knowing he had to be gentle. He unbuttoned the first button of her blouse, his eyes never leaving hers.

In a matter of long, sexually charged moments, Snape had unbuttoned every button on her blouse without tearing his gaze from hers. Hermione was certain that she was under some delightful spell, and she couldn't care less. She loved the look of him, she thought he appeared positively regal. He had an air of grace about his movements, making him almost unearthly.

Slowly his hands slipped to the collar of her blouse, slipping it down her shoulders slowly, letter his fingers dance across her arm as she shivered. Her lips parted in subconscious pleasure and he had to smirk. Her eyelids were dropping every now and then, in a mix of pleasure induced fatigue.

"Hermione," Severus said lightly. “Why do you really want to do this?"

Hermione gave him a shy smile, wishing it wasn't all so awkward. "Why do most people do it?"
Snape turned a bit pink at her words, not really appreciating the slight patronizing tone in them. He got a more professional look to him, trying to appear mature about the whole thing.

"It just doesn't seem that you want to do it." He faltered as she looked to him incredulously and went on. "By that I mean...it seems as if you don't want to do this, but need to."

He was right. This was her closure. This was her final step and she was convinced that once she’d felt him, all of him, she could move on. She ignored him, choosing to unbutton his cloak and help him shrug it off.

"Please no more questions. Just know that I want you."

Severus nodded, seeming to appreciate the comment. He gingerly placed his robe across the back of the bench, not wanting to get it needlessly dirty. Hermione watched in agitation, part of her wanting to completely enjoy his striptease, but the other part worried that they'd be caught.

"And Severus," She finally added with a smirk. "You don't have to be so gentle you know. I won't break."

Slowly a gleam went into Severus' eyes, accompanied by a sudden grin that Hermione was instantly wary of. As if it were old times when they were enemies, Snape was raking his eyes up and down her body as if mapping out where he'd lay his claim.

Oh what have I gotten myself into now?

Although she was frightened, part of her was also remarkably aroused at the sight of that familiar predatory look coming into his eyes. His mouth and body was savagely upon her before she'd even gotten a real chance to get settled. It was electric, and she actually felt her toes curling at the feel of his mouth sucking at her neck as she arched into him.

Suddenly his shirt was ripped from his body, tossing it over his shoulder as he looked back to Hermione in careful interest. He knew she loved the feel of him, especially his mouth and fingers. Slowly his hand trailed over the mounds of her breasts, soon released from their lacy confines. She shivered as the night air hit her bared breasts, her face flushing.

"Don't worry," Severus said as he lowered his mouth to her ear, her eyelids fluttering at the feel of his breath against her earlobe. She felt his hair tickling her neck, slowly moving downward as he licked the edge of one erect nipple. Hermione felt her stomach bottoming out at the feel of it, as if everything he did was fire igniting.

She felt him pinning her shoulders down, stopping her from jerking away from him. Slowly he took the nipple into his warm mouth, sucking at her as she was moaning, her eyes shut and the sky becoming blurry. It was bliss.

But as if feeling her urgency, Severus began to move faster. Slowly his hands came to cup her thighs, parting them generously as her breathing hitched. He didn't seem to notice as he slid her skirt up, over her hips. She was trembling, suddenly concerned she'd made the wrong choice.

This was only furthered as he unbuttoned his trousers, lowering them and revealing a most impressive and large looking member that she'd ever seen. Hermione's eyes widened at the sight of it, and her breathing became erratic. Severus gave her an odd look, a mixture of question and worry.

"What is it?" his low voice rumbled, exciting and terrifying her. It was suddenly realized that she was about to have real sex, with Professor Severus Snape, young man or not.

"It won't fit," she suddenly blurted, not able to tear her eyes away from it. Severus suddenly covered himself, looking rather embarrassed. She could tell he was agitated as well as embarrassed and wasn't really surprised at his next comment.

"Well, this wasn't my idea, Hermione."

"I know," Hermione said, her eyes filling with tears at her own meek words. "I just....I don't know."

She suddenly stood, rushing over to far wall of the astronomy tower. She needed to breathe. She needed to- She felt as Snape’s hand came to rest on her shoulder.

“I’m not going to force you.”

Hermione wiped her eyes, not seeing the look that had crossed Severus features. If she had she couldn't have been more surprised to see the compassion mirrored there. It lasted a flicker of a moment before she turned to face him.

"I want to," she stated simply, trying not to be weepy. Severus said nothing, moving strands of hair that had slipped into her face. She sniffled a bit, watching him as he touched her softly. She knew then that he was capable of so much. A breadth of emotions that she'd underestimated him for. She smiled gently, tracing a forefinger down the side of his jaw, preparing herself.

"I'm ready."

Severus said nothing, choosing instead to begin removing her panties with a gentle, downward motion. She shivered at the feel and the contact of the fabric sliding down to her calves. She stepped out of them, watching as Severus’ eyes drank in her naked frame. Hermione’s own eyes feasted on every inch of flesh before her. His cheeks were pinking and his eye bright and glittering.

I want him so badly.

He pressed his mouth to hers; his tongue slipped her own open, tasting all of her as her body practically melted into his own. She could feel as his hips were pressed against her own. She was silently hoping that this would be worth all the awkwardness and worry and agitation. Hoping it-

"Oh God."

Hermione cried out in pain, feeling as he forced his way into her suddenly. She hadn't even been ready for it. She had been right. He was much too large for her. It couldn't be this painful for other girls during their first time, could it? It didn’t matter that she was wet between her legs, he felt massive and she was terrified.

She grasped the back of his neck, hissing through her teeth as he ground into her. He looked to her with uncertainty written on his pale face, his dark brows furrowed in a mixture of concentration and worry.

"Hermione?" when she didn't answer he began to get angry and pull away, looking down at her. "I warned you."

"Please!" Hermione cried out, grasping onto him and panting, needing him to continue. She wasn't going through all of this for nothing. Not only that, she didn't want him to leave. "Don't stop. Just try to be a little bit...gentler."

She frowned at her own indecisiveness, knowing that he was probably getting quite irritated with her flustered requests. But surprisingly, he didn't seem to be as expert she thought he'd be. He seemed rather worried and strained all at once, concentrating at the task. Wasn't it supposed to be rejuvenating and fun?

Severus nodded, thrusting into her more gently, watching as her eyelids fluttered at his ministrations, her body arching into his. She had been ready for him, that was for certain. She was tentative at first, but soon her hips were grinding along with his, her eyes closed and his body guiding her own as she moaned.

He groaned along with her as he pumped into her, and as much as there was pain there was pleasure. Hot, white pleasure that made her quiver inside and out. She was trembling, holding Severus' pale form against her own, their arms locked and her hands on his back, holding him. He pressed her into the stonework, his hips holding her and thrusting upward.

With every thrust she felt the rough stonework against her back, causing delightful texture to the moment. She was sure that she would recall every moment of this. The sky, the feel, the smell of Severus soapy and herbal mix. This was a moment she could never forget.

"Hermi-ione," Severus suddenly groaned, thrusting himself into her once more, feeling his eyes slam shut at the force. She was maddeningly tight, but the reward was overwhelmingly worth it.

Hermione's eyes were shut, their sweating bodies going at it madly. Hermione was taking as must of him as she could, feeling a sensation welling up within her that could only be released by having him deeper inside her. She grunted and sighed as she kept up with him, each thrust bringing her closer to that inevitable apex.

It finally came to her as he growled a rough "Come for me Hermione” into her ear. She felt her insides tightening around him. A feeling of pleasure and abandon seared through her

“I love you,” she groaned without thinking, a loud moan turned shriek resounded into his mouth as he covered hers with his own. He followed soon after, shuddering a moment before spilling himself inside her.

Hermione was dazed, looking to the starry night in shocked surprise. So that was it. It was over and done with now. She and Severus had done it. she was no longer that prudish virgin. She didn't mean to, but a small tear trickled down her cheek. He stood there, between her thighs a moment, panting into her neck.

Hermione's eyes filled with sudden tears, perhaps all that had happened was coming to her full force, or perhaps it was the realization that she'd done just about the stupidest thing of her entire life with her Professor. What made her think that making love to his younger self would make him want her any more in the future? Now that all was said and done, she knew she'd been fool hearty and too curious for her own good. She felt her eyes spilling over.

"Would you stop sniffling?" Severus said harshly, pulling back. He assumed that she was sobbing because he'd been so horrible and this only infuriated him. "I never forced you to do this."

"I know." Hermione said defiantly, her tears drying as she looked to the tall boy who was pulling on his clothing. "I never said you did."

She quickly pulled on her panties and skirt, feeling humiliated at being vulnerable as well as naked before him. She pulled on her bra before looking for her blouse and robe.

"This was a horrible idea," Severus said, pulling on his own robe. Hermione felt her stomach bottoming out as he spoke the words, her heart sinking as he looked to her. It had come out wrong. He’d meant that rushing it – doing it here on the tower had been a horrible idea. Not the actual feel of her shattering around him.

Suddenly he realized what he'd said aloud, and felt his heart sinking. How foolish to say that. He parted his mouth to speak, to explain what he’d meant, when a door to the Astronomy Tower slammed open, and before he could apologize to Hermione, he was send sailing against the other side of the tower room.

Hermione shrieked in surprise and looked to the door, seeing that it was none other than Professor Snape himself. He looked over to Hermione in fury, coming over to the bench in slow measured steps, seeing that she was only half dressed.

"Get dressed this instant," he growled lowly, his teeth grinding so roughly he was getting a migraine. It didn't take a genius to see what had happened here.

Hermione felt herself crying openly now, in fear as well as regret. He did not look like a man that was there to whip her into his arms and proclaim his love for her. No, Professor Snape looked like a man who was about to severely reprimand a student. A bothersome, annoying student.

"Cease your sobbing immediately,” Snape hissed as he came over to her, his dark eyes flashing with malice. She pulled on the rest of her clothes, robes included and tried to stop her sobbing at his words. Everything had gone wrong. Everything!

She glanced over at Severus, obviously having been hit with a sleeping spell by the senior Snape. His dark locks fell over his pale face.
Snape gripped Hermione by the wrist, dragging her quickly through the halls and into the room of requirement. It was still the same as when they left. Thank Merlin for small favors.

When inside Snape was still pinched-faced and looking livid. He looked as if he would love nothing more than to throttle the girl in front of him.

“You retrieved the sample?”

Hermione gulped through her sobs, nodding brokenly. She held out the vial to him, wincing as he took it harshly from her and placed it in his robes pocket. He brought out

“Back to the present. That’s all you need to think about. Do it now.”

She knew he wanted to say something more. Something cruel. But he didn’t. The two held onto the compass. Snape’s eyes were closed as he muttered to himself. Hermione watched him a moment, the tears still spilling down her face before her eyes too fell shut.

Back home to Hogwarts.

Back to the present.

Back to the pain.

Forever.

Chapter Text

The bright white light was gone and they were home. Back in the present. They could feel it washing over them like an oily shower. Snape opened the door to the Room of Requirement, pushing it open with one furiously curled hand. 

“My office. Now.”

The walk was like a death march. Hermione hurried to keep up with his long strides, trying to quell the thrumming of her heart. All she could see was the billowing of his cloak, his hair flying out angrily behind him.

The minute they arrived inside his office, his door was soundly shut and he began pacing around his desk at a mad pace, his face paled with fury. His dark hair hung heavily on the sides of his face, his hands clasped behind him studiously as if he were admiring a painting in a museum. His lips were so thinned; he seemed to have no lips at all. Just a long, thin, straight line of barely restrained fury.

She watched his frame drawing closer, and for a horrible moment Hermione thought Snape was going to slap her, even though she felt she deserved it.

Hermione backed up until she seated at the chair across from his desk. Her hands were folded and her head down. She couldn’t bear to face him any longer. She was humiliated and confused. She’d been caught by Professor Snape half-dressed. She’d been rebuffed by the boy she thought she loved. She was now in the present and sure to be expelled.

Before she could even formulate what to say, he’d slammed his hand down on his desk. She jerked at the sound, her eyes wide and drawn immediately to his face.

"How dare you," Snape hissed, letting his dark eyes swallow the frail looking girl, as she looked to him in frightened silence. "How dare you mess about with my past?"

He was furious.

No.

 That didn't even grace the tip of what Snape was now. Hermione was sure that livid and enraged didn't even come close to what he was feeling. In fact, Hermione wasn’t even sure there was a word in the English or Wizarding dictionary that could accurately describe the intense and overwhelming anger Snape felt at the moment

He was so engulfed in this, that he couldn't even think straight. His vision was tinged with red, and he felt that if he didn't hex something into oblivion soon, he would die of frustration. He sat himself down in his chair slowly, his body moving with fluid grace. She gazed at his expressionless face a moment, knowing that they had much to talk about. Suddenly her heart sped up, her imploring eyes searching his.

She'd done the stupidest thing he could ever conceive a student doing. Hermione Granger of all people! The good girl swot having sex with his younger self! He felt completely repulsed at the thought. He looked at her disheveled frame and kiss-plumped lips across from him and held in a shudder.

“Sir, I-“

He surprised himself by pushing back from the table angrily, needing more room to breathe. His hands were itching at his sides, almost as if he was commanding himself to remain calm. He faced away from her, needing to collect his thoughts before he spoke again.

He'd taken something from her, and she had him. He felt cheated somehow. As if he had something precious stolen, and would never hope to garner it back in his possession. And worse, how much had the girl seen and known of him?

“What did you do to him?”

Her voice reached out to him in the quiet office. His head whipped around so quickly that his inky hair flicked into his face.

What did you just ask?”

Hermione ducked her head further, her cheeks reddening. “I… I just wanted to know what you did to him when you arrived.”

“You mean what did I do to myself?” Snape’s voice was deathly quiet. His forefinger was on the lid of the table, touching it gingerly. His eyes were cold steel, cutting into her.

“Yes sir.”

He knew he should let her stew away in things and not answer her. But he was exhausted. The entire event had him haggard and frustrated and there was nothing to lose by telling her.

“I cast a memory charm to ensure the last hour was wiped from my mind,” he said quietly. “The disgusting display will be forgotten the minute he woke up.”

It wasn't even a memory now. Everything tonight would go as planned in the past. Everything was as it should be...If not for the girl’s ridiculous behavior. Behavior that they would both have to live with.

He looked over to the chair where Granger sat, her posture slumped in dejection. Her dark eyes fallen shut in silent misery as tell tale tears slipped down her cheeks, only to be hurriedly brushed off by her shaking hand.

She was petrified of him, of his power and what he may do. Her voice was soft, a whisper barely heard. "I'm sorry Professor."

She knew her apology was futile. And she knew that he could never forgive her for what she'd done. She’d tainted his past somehow. Whether he remembered it or not, she had damaged him as well as  herself. She let her eyes look up at him underneath her fringe, his dark eyes downcast in inner anger. She felt the tears welling up, clouding and blurry her vision of him.

"I don’t know what I was thinking."

She had to cover her face with her hands then, her head slumping forward in disgust in her actions. She'd been nothing but some, trashy tart desperate for male attention. Snape was silent, watching as the young girl sobbed on the chair across from his large desk, looking so lost. Still his anger boiled.

"It doesn't appear you were thinking," Snape lingered, ensuring his voice was as cutting as he'd intended. "By acting in such a shameful manner you put the wizarding world at risk."

At these words Hermione looked to her hands, the blush that had started on her cheeks now swam across her features, her heart sinking with every passing moment she wasn't in his arms. With every cutting remark she felt her loving hold on him slipping, as if he were cutting the invisible string that connected them together in the past.

She wrapped her arms around herself, trying to hold in the overflow of pain that was coursing through her. She knew at this moment that she was to be divided from the one man she loved for eternity.

"Foolish girl."

Snape fell silent after the remark, regarding her with speculation as she sat there, rocking back and forth slowly on his chair. She seemed true in her regret and her grief. She seemed honest. She seemed tormented as he. But still, she infuriated him. His thoughts he knew, from this day forward would be ones of her; he would never stop thinking about her. She was yet one more torment he would suffer from. He continued to watch her from between his curtain of hair, watching as she wriggled uncomfortably in her chair.

"How did you find me?" Hermione finally muttered, a question to fill the empty spaces between them, the only sound in the room being that of the fireplace. "How did you know we were in the Astronomy Tower?"

Snape, whom had had his hands curled around the end of the arms on his chair, gave the wood under his grasp a mighty squeeze. So tightly in fact, that his knuckles were a yellowish tinge in comparison to his pale hand's complexion. His teeth were ground so tightly together that his temple throbbed and his jaw was sore.

"When you didn’t arrive back speedily I knew there was a hiccup.” The last word sounded strange coming from him. “As for the astronomy tower, it was a lucky guess.”

In truth he had been drawn to the tower for an unknown reason. Now that he had seen what he had it made sense why he’d felt compelled to go there. He had paused outside of the door, hearing the sounds of moans and groans. He had been certain that he'd merely come upon the romantic entanglement of some past students. He had no idea that it had been with Granger and himself as a young man. But that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part was that when he had paused outside the door he heard the gutteral moan from the other side.

"Herm-ione."

Snape had paused long enough to look through the crack in the door that led to the Astronomy Tower. Long enough to see Hermione Granger, backed against the the far wall with her cheeks flushed, her chest bared and her thighs wrapped around the waist of a young man that faced away from the door. 

Snape had stilled, his eyes widening at the sight at the good girl Gryffindor with her body arched into the body of the young man who was panting against her. They continued, close to the end for both. Granger had been clutching at his back, her body jerking with every thrust from the young man between her legs. He couldn’t deny the sight had been erotic, even though that internal admission shamed him.

Then he’d heard it – the sound of her whimpered “I love you.” His wand had been poised and he had been ready to burst in when those words stilled him. The words he had always longed to say to Lily. And he faltered a moment. In a strange way there was something sacred about those words to him.

Love

The two finished and Snape had flinched when the boy turned around to pull on his robes and he recognized his younger self. The shock of seeing his younger self flushed and panting had caused his stomach to churn. Thank Merlin he hadn’t recognized his older self when Snape finally burst through the door. It was a miracle that they weren’t all dead.

And now the ridiculous girl was sitting across from him, looking sick to her stomach. A dark gleeful part wanted to laugh – how had he managed to convince Hermione Granger she was in love with him? Misguided girl. It was laughable!

And yet… Now they were back and the reality of what had been done wasn’t lost on him. He turned completely, coming to rest in his chair. He felt shaky and sick. How was he going to explain this to Minerva?  He began to drum his fingers on his desk absently. A habit he had when he was excessively nervous.

Hermione let her eyes fall on his hands, their finely sculpted excellence. She had a flash of watching him in the classroom the first time. The intensity in his gaze. The roughness of their passion, and the tenderness of their tentative feelings. Never again would that voice pass through the lips she longed to kiss.

Her chest grew tight once more, and her eyes seemed to be perpetually wetting and overflowing. The memories she'd had of Severus were never real. He'd fallen in love with an image. He didn't know of her occasional foul ups in spells, or the horrid way her teeth had looked in fourth year, or the way she whined and bossed Harry and Ron about.  But Professor Snape knew. He knew her more than his younger self could ever hope to.

And he despised her.

He had despised her since he met her. Telling her he noticed no difference when her teeth were huge. Calling her an insufferable know-it-all. Deducting points from her at every opportunity. With this onslaught of realization, it was no wonder that she started crying softly to herself once more, as Snape watched on, not prepared for what she was about to say next.

"I’m such an idiot,” she choked out, feeling as Snape stood glaring down at her.  He had never seen the girl belittle her own intelligence before and the sight was disconcerting.

"Enough of your histronics. Grab a hold of yourself.”

Hermione looked up at him in confusion, her dark eyes blurry and her face tearstained. "I’m so sorry, sir. You have no idea how sorry.”

Her vision became blurry again, his dark eyes melting and shimmering in her eyes. He was like a strange inkblot in her vision. Slowly his voice came to her, grumbling and low and irritated. Hermione wondered if he intentionally sounded like that, or it was merely the tone and timber of his voice.

“Calm yourself.”

Hermione took a deep intake of breath, refusing to let herself look at him. This was hard enough without having his piercing gaze on her the entire time, for she was certain he would never look away. She didn't know whether to admire or detest that, but knew that it was singularly Snape.

Suddenly he needed her out of the office. Away from him this instant. He felt himself unraveling at an alarming rate, and needed to be free of her imploring gaze and passionate words.

"Off to your dormitory," Snape said standing, his back rigid and his eyes focused on something on the horizon. "I’ve a potion to brew in order to save your friend and my own personal nuisance.”

Hermione said nothing as she listened to him, her body numb all over from the inner pain and despair. Her breath was coming out in short, soft gasps, her eyes burning with unshed tears.

"You will serve detention with Filch until the end of this school year. The house points you will lose are immeasurable and if you put one toe out of line..." Snape trailed off, refusing to go any further for she knew what he meant.

Detention? House points? Hermione's heart skipped a fervent beat as she looked into the face of Snape, his eyes guarded as he stared back.

"Does that mean..." Hermione replied tentatively, not wanting to set him off as she continued. "You're not going to have me expelled?"

“The headmistress has enough to deal with,” Snape said in his familiar dulcet tones. “The foolish actions of a teenage girl are not something she needs to be distracted with.”

Hermione's eyes widened in surprise at this. Her gaze searched his face for any trace of falsehood. Her brow furrowed.“ So you’re not going to tell her about-“

“No.” Snape’s dark eyes flickered over her face, reminding her of a candle's movements as he tore them from her face. “And neither are you. If any word of this gets out, Miss Granger, I assure you that expulsion will be the least of your worries. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir.”

"Then leave.”

Hermione realized that her foolish heart was holding out for just one hint of uncertainty in his voice. Just one shadow of indecision. What was she thinking? Professor Snape was not her Severus. Hermione merely nodded, her eyes still closed. She took a short moment to compose herself and smooth down her skirt before taking a deep breath of control. She was not going to let him see her cry anymore.

She walked out the door, shutting it quietly behind her as Snape watched in silence. Hermione walked slowly back to Gryffindor Tower, her steps unsteady and her soul crumpled. When she finally reached her bed, she collapsed into it and felt as if the world were being torn asunder.

She came to the rapt conclusion that this was what happened when one's heart was broken.

Chapter Text

Hermione didn't feel any desire to arise the next morning. Not even to see Harry, and if Snape's potion remedy had been correct. She didn't want to risk running into him in the school as she left. She didn't want to see his face, lips or those eyes. The eyes would be her undoing.

She rolled over in her bed, looking around at her room with deep and decidedly forlorn sigh, one that made her almost dizzy with the lack of oxygen. Her eyes began to well up again and she rubbed them furiously.

No more tears wasted on him. No more.

After last night, Hermione was convinced that she would never be so foolhardy when it cam aff affairs of the heart. She held her breath a moment in mortification, letting it out slow hiss, like air leaking out of a balloon.

She could still see Snape's eyes, those penetrating and patronizing eyes. She felt her stomach roiling in despair and humiliation. What had she been thinking?  What made her think that Snape of all people could change? For her? That he would suddenly want her? He didn’t even have memories of their time together!

She knew why. She’d been hoping that he’d see her and the pieces would fit back together. That she’d understand why they were such a good fit. It had been a foolhardy thought and one that she couldn’t quite believe she’d allowed herself to indulge in.

Had she changed so much since the war? Was she so desperate for that connection with another person? With her parents gone and Ron and Harry in training perhaps she was clutching at proverbial straws.  Perhaps she truly was just desperate for a connection and Snape had been the unlikely and unwitting volunteer. Was it truly love she felt for him?

She had been certain of it last night, but perhaps she was just caught up in the moment? She had just lost her virginity to his younger self. She still couldn’t believe the erratic behavior. She truly had changed. No longer was she the swot determined to appease everyone. In that moment as he’d taken her, she’d just felt… lack of control. She’d felt extreme bliss and abandon. It was such a foreign feeling that she relished it.

But now in the cold light of the morning she couldn’t be more hurt or embarrassed. Imagine losing her virginiyy like that.  And after it all? Young Severus had been so cold towards her. Telling her that it hadn’t been his idea. She felt a pang of hurt go through her at this.  Had she meant nothing more to him than a quick shag?

 

She pulled the covers over her head, groaning into them loudly. She heard a mew as Crookshanks tried to grab her attention. She slipped a hand out between the sheets and waved him off. She couldn’t get up quite yet.

It was if having such intense feelings for the younger Severus had somehow made Hermione's heart just a bit bigger, swelling to hold all that she felt for him. And now with all of it gone, she just felt incredibly empty.

"Oh,” she moaned with a small cry, covering her face with her pillow. "I’m such a fool."

Part of her had almost known it would come to this. Part of her had known that Snape was not a man to be tossed about from moment to moment, and one that rarely dealt with baser emotions. She had almost known he'd reject her from the start, and yet she still did it? Still went on? What had she truly thought would happen?

Hot, angry tears melted into the pillow that she pressed to her face, drowning her angry cries and furious sobs before she sat up with a jolt, flinging her pillow across the room with a growl. Crookshanks gave it a liberal sniff before jumping into Hermione’s chair and giving her a warning look. 

"Your owner is pathetic, Crooks," she muttered, her cheeks staining red. "I won't ever be able to look him in the eye again. Not that I would want to anyway. Oh and I have so much of the school year left! I’m stuck obsessing over a man who has no interest in me and going to his class every week. This is a nightmare."

She knew classes with Snape for the rest of the year were going to be horrid. How couldn't they be? Her cheeks burned at the thought of him purposely trying to embarrass her in front of everyone, just out of malicious spite, just to teach her a lesson. Her fists clenched then, her nails digging into the soft flesh of her palm.

"Enough self pity," she whispered to herself, her heart heavy as she stood, making her way to her private bathroom. She had a quick shower, drowning herself in its humid depths before emerging feeling just a bit better. After brushing her damp hair back and using a drying spell, she pulled on her robes and headed for St. Mungos.  

It was time to see Harry.

***

When she entered into the hospital wing of St. Mungo’s she felt her heart and stomach give a little flutter. She could only hope that Snape had been right and brewed the correct antidote. If he had been, Harry would be bright eyed and itching to get out from under everyone’s suffocating coddling.  If he’d been wrong… Well, Hermione didn’t want to think about that.

She was almost to his private room when a shock of red hair darted by her right. Hermione felt her eyes drawing to the floor, humiliated at the way she'd acted towards him in recent days. There Ron was, spilling out his heart and professing his love and she was stupidly convinced that there was something between she and Snape. She closed her eyes a moment; as if she'd been literally hit with the knowledge of her stupidity was just now recovering.

"Ron?" she called timidly, seeing that he was about rush right into the room. He turned slightly, looking to her over his shoulder. The moment he recognized her, his movements stopped and he came over to her, standing in the middle of the hall.

"Hermione? You’ve come to check up on Harry as well then, have you?"

“Yes," Hermione said, trying to be warm. "How are you?"

"Haven't heard much from you lately," Ron said with a shuffling of his shoes, his hands were in his pockets and his hair was falling into his light eyes. The morning light hit his fair skin, showing a mass of freckles  across his cheeks that Hermione found rather endearing. With all this Snape commotion, she realized just how much she missed her friends. Guilt gnawed away at her stomach as she looked into his ardent face.

The last thing that happened between them was furious snogging. And now in that time since she’d last seen him, she’d lost her virginity and her heart to her Professor as a student. Whew. It was all too bizarre to fathom. And so in that vein she decided there was no business trying to explain what had happened.

Why bother? Ron was flesh and blood and here. And he fancied her. It was evident in the way his eyes searched her face, in the way that he stood angled towards her. Even his mouth couldn’t help but curve into a small smile of delight at seeing her. And yet, at the thought of Snape she felt herself quiver.

"I suppose I've been busy," Hermione said with a soft shrug, trying to keep her voice even. Ron nodded, saying nothing as they stood in the hallway. Several clusters of patients and visitors made their way past them, looking and whispering.

"I understand. I just thought. Well, I thought we might have dinner sometime soon,” Ron said awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck and looking to her. “A date. We are dating after all. Seems a bit silly that we haven’t had a proper date yet.”

 Hermione’s body broke into gooseflesh at the comment. She went to decline, saying she was busy with studies and everything else when she paused. Why shouldn’t she go to dinner with a man who fancied her? Why not enjoy some delicious food and good company?

“I’d love to.”

Ron flushed a deeper shade of pink and then gingerly took her hand in his.

"Do you think he'll be awake?" Ron suddenly asked with a worried look on his face as he pushed the door open with his palm.

Hermione barely heard him, for her gaze was sweeping around the room as they entered. There it fell on the familiar, tall figure standing beside Harry’s bed. Harry was propped up, still fast asleep. His lips were parted and Snape was slipping the potion between them. 

Hermione watched as long fingers snatched back a now empty vial from the boy's lips and turned to view the newcomers. His dark eyes took in Weasley at first, most probably because of the hair and he sneered. Then of course they traveled snake-like over to Hermione before slipping to where their hands joined.

Interesting.

Feeling his lingering focus on her, Hermione shifted uncomfortably and dropped Ron’s hand. She glanced up to Snape’s face and their dark eyes locked a moment before she tore her eyes to the ground, blushing madly. Hermione could feel her breath catch in her chest at the sight. Snape.  Would he tell Ron what had happened? Had he told Harry? Her heart began to thud a painful staccato against her rib cage as she and Ron drew towards the bed. She managed to stay a step behind Ron, giving Snape a wide berth.

"Sorry Professor," she whispered lowly. "We didn't know you were in here."

"Indeed," Snape snapped as he straightened icily, finding he couldn't even look to her face when he spoke.

She had to be confused, for she wasn't in love with him. She was in love with an illusion that shared his name. And while most of him was furious at her for doing what she'd done, another part of him was jealous.  How would it feel to be loved with such passion? He'd never know. She was his student.

"Is Harry going to be alright?"

Ron's voice broke the moment, and giving the boy a steely gaze Snape felt himself slowly coming back to the room and the moment. Hermione's eyes were downcast, and she almost appeared trembling. His gaze flicked over the both of them, making sure his words were given with the exact, dramatic timing they'd come to expect from him.

"Only time will tell."

With that whispered ambiguity, he slipped the vial into his robes. Glancing at the pale Potter boy once more he moved to the door behind his two students. Hermione stepped out of his way, feeling as the bottom of his robes brushed against her clothed calves. She resolved not move at all. She couldn’t show weakness right now.  Instead she closed her eyes, silently counting to one hundred trying not to inhale his familiar, tingle-inducing scent.

Snape watched as the girl tensed when he passed. He felt compelled to say something about Harry's condition and was about to attempt such a feat when he noticed the Weasley boy staring at him strangely. Giving the boy a thorough sneer he turned his back on the two figures standing, and slammed the door behind him as he left.

Ron looked to Hermione, seeing as her eyes blinked opened rapidly a bit now that Snape was gone.

Suddenly he knew.

"It was Snape," Ron said lowly, scarcely letting Hermione hear for he himself had seen the look, felt the tension.

"What?" Hermione asked shakily.

"That's who it was,” Ron said, his voice barely above a whisper. “At the dance. It wasn’t just some bloke that died in the war. It was Snape. He went to school with Harry’s parents. Oh Merlin, Hermione. You didn’t.”

"What are you talking about Ron?" she said with a shaky laugh, panic slowly starting to settle within her chest. "Professor Snape what?"

"Don't act coy with me Hermione,”  Ron said with a disbelieving look on his face. "When I saw you snogging that boy in the past at the dance. Don’t deny it. It was Snape.”

"That's Professor Snape, Ron." Hermione said with a false chirp.

"Do-"

"Ron!" Hermione interrupted, "It's Harry...I think he's waking up."

Ron's attention was suddenly diverted to his friend in the bed, slowly moving about as he sat up, rubbing his green eyes. Blinking a few moments until the two figures in front of him became less blurry, Harry gave a small smile.

"Hey guys," he said in a croak, his hands searching for his glasses when he realized that he wasn’t at home. Panic suddenly clutched him although he didn't know precisely why. "Where exactly am I? Where's Ginny?"

Hermione burst into relived tears as the look of recognition passed Harry’s face. Ron gave a shaky smile before they both drew over to either side of his hospital bed. Hermione pulled him into a tight hug which Harry returned easily, if not a bit confusedly.  Ron handed Harry his glasses from the side table.

"You're at St. Mungo’s," Ron said. "Do you remember coming here?"

"No."

"Do you recognize us?"

Harry gave them both a strange smile as Ron asked this. "Erm, yeah. Unless you've gone and Polyjuiced Hermione and Ron. Then I have no idea who you are."

The three of them exchange a small chuckle of relief and amusement. But it was Hermione who needed to understand just how much better Harry was.

"Do you remember going into the past?" Hermione's voice was sharp. It caused Harry to wince.

He looked blearily to his friends, feeling his body growing heavier the more he attempted to sit up. His head slowly slumped back to the pillow. The world was spinning for him, and he suddenly just wanted peace and quiet. The pillow was so soft, and his head welcomed it readily.

Ron moved forth towards his friend, his rust colored eyebrows furrowing in perplexed worry. He went to shake Harry out of the trance, anything to keep him awake as Hermione grasped his wrist, knowing that Snape's antidote had indeed worked. Their friend was back -- a bit tired, but most decidedly himself.

"Stop," she urged gently, dropping his wrist. "He needs some sleep."

Ron sighed in minimal defeat and took a small, reluctant step back. "I guess you're right."

"I know I'm right," Hermione said firmly, and Ron was pleased to note she was starting to sound more and more like her old self. He nodded as they moved to the chairs by the window, deeming that now was as good a time as any to discuss what had happened.

"So?" Ron said as soon as they were seated, the morning sunlight filtering dusts specks around their heads. "Are you going to tell me or not?"

Hermione sighed deeply, letting her chin rest on her hands that lay on the windowsill. Her dark eyes glanced everywhere but Ron’s face.

"I don't want to talk about this anymore." she stated simply, her jaw clenching.  “I’m sick to death of thinking about the past.”

"But-"

"I mean it," Hermione insisted. "What I did back then was to ensure our safety. Not just mine and Harry’s but the entire magical world. I had to do things that I didn’t particularly want to do. I’m glad I did them because we’re all safe. But I never want to talk about it again."

"Hermione," Ron insisted lowly, "If that git did anything to hurt you-"

"He didn’t," Hermione answered quickly.  Ron surveyed her face a moment, clearly not impressed. What had happened? How could kissing Snape have solved anything about the past? He couldn’t wrap his mind around it and yet, seeing his girlfriend sitting there near tears he knew he had to ask one last thing.

“Are you okay?”

“Okay?” Hermione threw him a quizzical look.

“Yeah,” Ron caught her hand in his and held it there. “Do you need to talk about it? What happened back then?”

"No,” Hermione shook her head almost violently. She was shocked at this side of Ron, this calm and empathetic side. “All I want is for this discussion to end right here and right now. Harry doesn't need to know of this, and I never want to hear these questions from you again."

“Alright,” Ron nodded gravely.

Hermione took a deep breath. "Swear it."

"I swear," Ron finally muttered after a reluctant nod. They lapsed into a comfortable silence, patiently waiting for the inevitable arising of their friend.  Ron put his arms around her shoulder, pulling her into a calm and comforting hug.

Ron watched as Harry's chest rose and fell as he slept. It was a strange realization then, that he could have lost the most important people in the world to him. His hand tightened around Hermione's upper arm, suddenly feeling a gushing gratitude that they were both here and alright.

Hermione leaned her head against Ron's shoulder, contemplating various things. The most prevalent thoughts were those of her Professor and how she would move forward with him so close. And how could she hope to move on with Ron if she wasn't truly over Severus? With this jumbled thought in mind she shut her eyes tightly, firmly blocking out Professor Snape’s last haunting gaze.

Chapter Text

The antidote had proven completely useless. Not on the Potter boy, if Minerva’s joyful refrain could be trusted. No, but on the Potioneer himself.

Like any skilled and confident brewer, Snape had made a test batch of the potion before taking it to St. Mungo’s. He knew that it had been brewed properly and he knew there were no adverse side effects. After his experience with Miss Granger he also knew that he himself would be the best guinea pig.

Twelve drops, that was all it would take to loosen the bolts of his memory and allow them to come flooding back. It should have been simple and straight forward.

And yet in the safe confines of his office he had been greeted with nothing but a sour taste on his tongue and the frustrated realization that it wasn’t working. Convinced that it was down to potency, he’d given himself a few more drops, stopping only when the world became a bit too blurry.

In bed that evening Alice remarked that he seemed a bit off – but she didn’t push him on it. She gave him a kiss and rolled back onto her side of the bed before sleeping soundly. Snape himself lay in the darkness, waiting for the eventual return of those days in his youth.

Nothing returned to him. No memories of his younger self and Hermione Granger. Nothing from that period in his life that seemed to stand out as new. He couldn’t even remember attending the Slug Club event at all.

And now he was here days later, sitting in Minerva’s office and listening to her sing his praises from across her desk.

“Honestly Severus, you don’t give yourself enough credit.”

It was all he could do to hold in the dramatic eye roll that was threatening to break free. He was beleaguered and frustrated and couldn’t understand why it had worked on Potter and not on him. What had been different?

“It was masterfully done,” Albus insisted in the portrait behind Minerva’s head. “Truly Severus, we are all so thankful for your talent and dedication.”

Snape sat in the plush red chair, his arms balanced on either side of him. His eyes were gaunt and it was obviously he hadn’t been sleeping. But it didn’t matter as long as Harry bloody Potter was safe, did it? Didn’t matter that he’d been having sleepless nights confused and frightened as the memories never returned. Was he damaged? Had he suffered something under the hands of Voldemort and it had rendered him broken?

A thought suddenly crystallized as Minerva spoke absently about the Quidditch pitches needing to be done and would Snape himself like to oversee the project? It was busy work, but he knew she was trying to involve him.

She had been doing it since he’d been brought back on staff – unwillingly – but acquiescing only when she said “But Albus is convinced it’s the right place for you.” He had been desperate for distraction.

So he’d returned to Hogwarts. He’d returned to his position and tried to survive the attention of being outed as a double spy. He buried himself in his work and ignored the articles written about him. He ignored the students that seemed to fear him but in a different way. In a way of awe at his abilities, not his surly attitude.

And now he was seated here, being hailed as some strange hero. But he wasn’t, was he? He was a wizard trying to survive. He was wracked with guilt at having killed Albus. He was forever mourning the loss of Lily. He didn’t deserve a normal, quiet life. He deserved the punishment of walking the halls of the school that held unhappy memories.

 “Minerva I would love to speak with Albus,” Snape suddenly said as gingerly as he could manage. “Would you mind giving us the room?”

“Of course!” Minerva insisted, slowly raising herself up. “I have a meeting with Pamona now anyway. Take your time.”

She strode past Snape, giving the man a motherly grip on the shoulder before leaving the room and closing the door behind her. When he felt he had sufficient privacy he moved towards the portrait like a serpent.

“What did you do?”

Albus looked momentarily thrown for the change in disposition. He narrowed his eyes on the dark haired man beneath him and gave a soft shrug of confusion. “Pardon?”

“To my memories,” Snape said exasperatedly. “The ones that include Potter, Miss Granger and Draco. The ones of my time as a student when they arrived. I tested the memory restoring potion and nothing came back. I can only assume that in true Albus fashion, you tampered.”

Snape expected him to deny it right to his face. He expected Albus to try to give Snape some long-suffering reason why he hadn’t been a part of anything. Instead he gave a weary sigh and blew out a small huff of painted air.

“The night of the dance,” Dumbledore spoke with his eyes downcast. “I brought you and the rest of the students caught into my office. I extracted all the memories of the travelers that I could. It took hours and was quite taxing.”

“What happened?”

“It’s a long story,” Albus said as if he hadn’t all the time in the world. “And it’s distressing.”

“But I have no recollection at all,” Snape snapped, finding himself frustrated with this entire cryptic way of speaking “You know as well as I that when memories are retrieved they leave behind traces. Fuzzy or blurred fractures that one can recall but not precisely. I have none of those.”

“I left no traces,” Dumbledore replied tightly. “I couldn’t take the chance that you’d remember. It would have ruined everything. I knew that much, even back then. I didn’t know of course the extent of things, but I did know that it was imperative you or the rest of the student body not recall them.”

Snape silently seethed, knowing that what Dumbledore said was true. And yet on the other hand they were his memories were they not? Didn’t he deserve to know them? Of course he did. And he damned well wanted to see them now.

“Where are they?”

“Pardon?”

“The memories,” Snape said, addressing Dumbledore as if he were dim. Without thinking Albus’ eyes darted to the far corner of the room before coming back to rest on Snape’s forehead.  He shook his head as if trying to jostle it for a new memory of his own.

“I don’t recall. It was so long ago. I might have destroyed them.”

The corner of Snape’s mouth hitched a moment before being brought back down into a firm line.

“I’ve known you a very long time,” Snape said, slinking towards the portrait with menace written across his features. “At times you’re incredibly easy to read.”

With that he had marched to the other side of the room as quickly as his long legs could carry him. He was in front of the large cupboard with its glass doors when he heard Albus’ agitated voice ringing out behind him.

“Severus, stop!”

Snape ignored him, throwing open the cupboard doors and scanning the deluge of contents. Vials of all shapes and descriptions met his eyes. But he knew that he would recognize his own. It was a part of him after all.

“No good will come of it,” Albus warned him. “It’s useless. Everything is as it should be. There’s no reason for you to go trolling back through your past. It will only be harder on you.”

Snape stilled, turning to face the portrait over his shoulder. “Harder how?”

“Regret is a powerful thing,” Albus said, his countenance sorrowful. “And as a man who lives a large portion of his life within his own head, it could be a true precursor to your own destruction.”

“How adorably maudlin,” Snape sneered in reply before turning back to the vials.  “I see you haven’t lost your penchant for the dramatics, even in death.”

“You have a fiancée now Severus,” Albus continued, the desperation clear in his voice. “A chance for happiness.”

At this, thoughts of Alice flashed through Snape’s mind and he faltered only a moment. It was true, Alice was a good companion. She was a soothing salve on his burning past.

Yes, their relationship had progressed quickly. Far too quickly for many. And if he was honest with himself he had done it out of self preservation. He was tired of the newspapers reporting on his love for Lily Potter.. He had been convinced that Alice would be the perfect conduit for this new chapter of his life.

And she had been a constant, stable presence. She was predictable and non-confronting. She lived her life and he lived his and often their paths would cross. It was nice to talk to someone over dinner. It was nice to attend conferences with something intellectually on his level.  Was she the great love of his life? No. Such a thing would never exist for him. But she was pleasant and clever and she felt the same about him.

True, he felt a bit disingenuous during his lackluster proposal which included them reading papers one day and him handing her the ring with a casual “So?”. He knew a dark part of him was doing it so the papers would report on something else. He did it because Alice had been hinting that being engaged to a war hero would help her Ministry ascension. And she truly asked so little of him, what was the harm in giving her a piece of jewelry? A wedding didn’t always have to follow a proposal did it?  And if it came to that, what was the harm in waiting a few years? Surely there was no rush.

“Why do this to yourself?” Albus now continued in a firm tone, seeing that he was getting through to the younger man. “Why look back instead of forward?”

It was simple. Because Severus Snape craved knowledge. It was the thing that set him apart from his peers during in his youth. He wanted to learn and know everything. Not just the fun spells or easy transfiguration. He wanted to know the hard and ugly things about magic. He wanted to know everything there was to know and he wanted to master it.

Not knowing something a personal as his own memories was distressing.  He couldn’t control it and he couldn’t master something he had no grip on. But he couldn’t accurately put it into words. And so in response he lifted a pale palm in the air, his forefinger parting from the rest of the digits.

Accio Severus Snape memories.”

All at once the small silver glass vial jumped into his hands, warmed and eager as if it had been waiting for him all this time.  His free hand raised.

Accio pensieve.”

The large pensieve floated from behind the back of the room until it was sitting on the desk. With a wave of his hand over it and a murmured incantation, the cauldron was the size of his fist. He took it gingerly within his grasp and gave Albus a final withering stare.

“I assume you don’t mind if I borrow this?”

Chapter Text

“Severus? Are you feeling alright?”

Snape heard the dim voice of Alice and it broke him from his reverie. She sat across from him, wineglass in hand, peering at him with a studious expression on her face.

“What was that?”

“I said, are you feeling alright?” Alice peered into his face, surprised to see the fatigue etched there. “You look ghastly.”

Snape offered a twitching smile in response before his mouth drew into a familiar line of displeasure. “I’m fine.”

In truth he was anything but fine. The afternoon had passed by in a blur of memories found in Albus’s pensieve. Albus hadn’t been exaggerating when he said that he had systematically gone through young Severus’ mind and taken all that remained of the trio. There were hours upon hours of memories to sift through. 

He was more than upset. The things he’d done made him feel sick with shame. Not just carnally – but the horrible plan he’d been willing to go through with Potter and Granger? He had been ready to willingly turn them over to the Dark Lord!

As if I didn’t already despise myself enough.

He groaned lowly, cupping his forehead in his palm.  His eyes shut tightly as he internally battered himself. When he blinked it was the face of Hermione Granger looking at him with a look of betrayal. Or it was Lucius sneering that they would be rid of them completely.  He felt sick to his stomach.

You’re not that person anymore.

No. He wasn’t that person anymore, but he had been that person.  In the years in Albus’s service he had almost been able to convince himself that he had simply been mislead; that he was a young man full of anger and a desperate need to belong.  He could almost fool himself into believing that after almost dying he had paid his penance.

But these Pensieve memories showed a different perspective altogether. A vindictiveness that he had convinced himself he’d never possessed.  He’d always been able to cite Potter or the rest of the Mauraders as the reason for his hasty exit into darkness. But it wasn’t them that were targeted in these memories. It was the very innocent Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.

Snape had let himself be swayed by Lucius and Draco – he hadn’t even put up that much of a fight. He had done it because he enjoyed the power. The only thing that had stopped him were the burgeoning feelings he’d been starting to feel for the Granger girl. What would have happened if he hadn’t paused in the tunnel? What would have happened if he’d willingly taken them to the Dark Lord?

He’d seen the growing feelings he had developed for Hermione during their time together. He watched as his younger self slipped the poison into the Slinkhard girl’s drink. Not enough to kill her, but enough to make her violently ill. It had been intended for Hermione Lockheart, but he hadn’t been able to go through with it. He had chosen Slinkhard instead.

Another remarkably alarming thing had been what played a large part in his survival.

It was Draco who had saved him. The compass Snape had worn around his neck since he could remember had been a gift from the boy a few days before the dance. The compass that now sat on his office desk having been hastily torn from around his neck earlier that afternoon.

“You need to wear this,” Draco insisted in the common room late one night. They were alone and his light eyes were burning with an unusual fire of intensity. He pushed the compass into the man’s hands. “You can’t take it off. Ever.”

“What’s in it?”

“You’ll know when you need to use it,” Draco said, purposefully vague. “You’ll use it for yourself when you feel you’re at the end. You can’t tell anyone about it. Not Lucius or any of your other mates. And especially not Him. Not Albus. Not anyone, do you understand me?”

Snape had been confused and wanted to decline, especially at the insinuation he would He felt he was being manipulated and the thought caused him distress and frustration. He fingered the vial on the end of the cord, glancing at it before looking haughtily to the blonde before him.

“What are you on about, Parkinson?”

“Swear it,” Draco insisted. Snape looked at him a long time, unsure of what to say in response. The boy had never been this intense with him before.  “You need to trust me, Severus.”

There was something in the tone of the young man that suggested he knew more than he was letting on. This piqued Severus’ interest as he looked down at the compass once more. What harm could come from it? If he never used it there would be no issue. In the meantime he simply had to wear it around his neck, hidden under his robes.

“I swear it.”

“Make the Unbreakable Vow,” Draco whispered, urging Snape to close the space between them and extend his right hand. Snape hesitated only a fraction of a moment before something in Draco’s eyes stilled him.

“We need a third party.”

“You’re powerful enough to do it for us,” Draco said, the sweat starting to bead at his temple. Again Snape paused before nodding and gripping the other boy’s right hand tightly in his.  He raised his wand, pointing the tip to their hands.

“Severus Snape, will you wear that compass around your neck until you have need of it?” Draco rasped.

 “I will.”

 “Will you use it when the time is right?”

“I will.”

“And will you keep its a secret until such a time?”

“I will.”

A thin tongue of brilliant flame issued from the wand and wound its way around their hands like a red-hot wire. Severus who had never completed such a thing independently looked to it in passing interest. Then the spell was broken and the two broke apart.

And he had kept his vow. Lying on the floor of the Shrieking Shack with his neck gushing warm blood around him. He had felt the compass begin to vibrate against his sternum, suddenly burning hot against his flesh. With trembling fingers he’d brought it out from beneath his cloak. It opened readily as if it had been expecting him. It was then that he saw the center of the compass was filled with a clear liquid – he’d never inspected it this closely.

Without thinking his fingers pressed the center and the immediately liquid began to seep from it. He raised it to his mouth and drank greedily.  He dipped the contents back, feeling as the cooling properties ran the length of his twitching body. The venom ceased to run through his veins. The tendons in his neck began their slow repair and he felt his body beginning to rebuild. After a few hours of laying there he’d been well enough to rise and Apparate himself off to see Poppy.

She had initially refused to help him, assuming that he was still the heinous monster that killed Albus. An affirmation from Potter who came rushing into the infirmary. Insisting that Snape was on their side. He didn’t go into detail -for once the boy held his tongue- but he had been seen to.

He owed a part of his life to Harry Potter. But he owed the largest part of his life to Draco Malfoy.

But why? Why on earth would the boy save him? Was it because of his allegiance to Lucius? They had been close in the past if the memories were correct. Or was it Snape taking the unbreakable vow to save him?  Upon reflection he could only assume that it had been Draco’s last chance to pay him back in some small way. The thought caused a blooming warmth to spread through him at the thought. The small spark of hope that there was hope for Draco Malfoy after all.  

Perhaps.

The authorities were still after the young wizard. There had been no hide or hair of him since his unceremonious return to this time period. And now the feelings within Snape were jumbled. The boy had done such terrible things, but under the desire to please his father. The boy deserved punishment, that was for sure. But was there a chance for redemption after the fact? Did he? It was something that Snape continued to wrestle with.

He still wore the compass around his neck, and now he fingered it absently. Alice was still looking at him expectantly and so he straightened, looking down at his forgotten dinner before he turned his attention on her. He dropped the compass and gave her a reassuring curl of the corner of his mouth. It was a grim smile that she returned tentatively.  

“You look like you have something on your mind, Alice.”

“I thought we could talk about something a bit serious,” Alice offered, her cheeks pinking under his gaze. “Something I’ve been thinking about for a little while.”

Alice was fumbling with her words in a way which was uncharacteristic for her. She was usually calm and polished.  Her change in disposition caused Snape’s stomach to clench uncomfortably. “Go on.”

“Well, you see,” Alice was talking to her wine glass now. Her eyes were firmly planted on the stem of the glass which she traced absently with a forefinger. “We’re both getting on in years. And, well, I’ve always wanted….A child.”

Snape felt his breath leave him. “A child?”

“Yes,” Alice nodded emphatically. “A child. I don’t need an entire Quidditch team, of course. One child would be satisfactory for me.”

Snape continued to stare at her without blinking. Children? That had never been part of the bargain. In all their talks this had never come up. It was forever assumed that it would just be the two of them living companionably together. She was changing the rules and Snape could feel his hackles rising in response. A sudden feeling of being cornered was starting to creep over him.

“I feel that I only have so many viable fertility years left,” Alice continued, unaffected by his lack of enthusiasm. “I think we should start sooner rather than later. I know that wizarding adoption is always a choice, but-”

“We only just became engaged,” Snape interrupted carefully, not wishing to create a scene. He was tired and he wanted nothing more than to slink off to bed.  But if he attacked her a row would surely ensue and he had no interest in such a thing.

“I know,” Alice said, a little defensively. “But time is a thief. And we don’t know how long any of us has, do we?”

“Indeed,” Snape murmured thoughtfully.

“I want a chance to create life,” Alice said with a shy smile. “I want a chubby cheeked angel trotting around. I want to be able to talk to my mates at work about my child. I want a chance to pass on all I know to a little one. And you’re so brilliant Severus, you’d make such a wonderful father.”

Snape hadn’t replied and instead seemed to be focused entirely elsewhere. In truth he was trying to concoct an image of a child borne of he and Alice. All that came to mind was a gaunt baby with an overly large nose sneering  and screaming at every Healer at St. Mungo’s. The thought made him shiver with revulsion. He barely registered as Alice reached across the table towards him.

“So what do you think?” Alice said, giving a brave smile and covering the top of his hand with her own. “Do you think you’d want to get me pregnant? We could try tonight?”

It had been meant to come off as carefree and sweet, perhaps even sexy. She had hoped to put the image of a sweet child with dark eyes into Severus’ mind. Instead the word seemed to hit Severus like a bludger to the head. He immediately jerked up out of his sweet with his eyes wide.

“I need to go to my office. We can speak more about this later.”

With that he had whirled off in a mass of dark robes and self contained murmurs.  Alice tried her best not to sigh in defeat as the door to his chambers slammed with a grim finality.

***

Hermione was in the middle of having a Gryffindor common room meeting when the note arrived via owl post.

“Headmaster McGonagall wanted to remind everyone that the new Transfiguration teacher Professor Gudgeon will be gone for the next few weeks,” Hermione said officiously. “She’s been called away for some urgent family business. McGonagall will be filling in until a suitable replacement is found.”

The collection of students all gathered within the common room were looking to Hermione with a variety of fatigue, boredom, interest and respect. She was the best Head Girl in terms of keeping by the rules and being there for when the students needed her. There was never a time that she wouldn’t be available for them- outside of lessons of course.  She was always ready to lend a hand or an ear.

Many wondered how she had the time for herself. In truth since her return Hermione had been actively doing all she could do distract herself from thoughts of Snape. She needed to put as much distance between her mind and that man as much as she could. Not only that but she also needed a break from Ron. The letters and chocolates had been sweet at first, but now she felt herself feeling quite suffocated.

She was thankful for the reprieve of being at Hogwarts while he was off doing Auror training.  She needed time to think and there was no better place to do that then Hogwarts.

“Hermione there’s a letter for you.”

One of the first years, Alphard Coote, was standing by the open window waving a missive in his hand emphatically. Hermione frowned, irritated at the interruption. Nontheless she gestured that the boy should bring the letter to her.

“Just a moment,” she said to the waiting students who immediately launched into speaking and laughing amongst each other as she read the letter. She felt her entire body thrumming as she took in the short message.

Miss Granger,

Your presence is requested immediately in my office.

  1. Snape

Hermione’s legs felt like rubber and she knew her face had gone a bright shade of red.

“Are you alright, Granger?” one of her peers asked worriedly.

“Fine,” she trilled with an enthusiasm that belied the complete terror that was currently taking her over. Terror mixed with the faintest feeling of deep forbidden desire. She shouldn’t be excited to see him – especially when his note had been so brusque. No doubt he had a clarifying question or something Head Girl related.

“I’m afraid I have to cut our meeting short,” she finally said in a tight voice. “Have a great rest of your night.”

The students barely noted her departure and even fewer noticed the slight tremble in her legs as she strode from the room.

***

Snape was pacing back and forth as he awaited her arrival. Surely she had gotten the note by now? He felt himself grimacing at what was going to happen next. He had stupidly assumed he’d never have to be alone with the girl again. Because it wasn’t just the Draco Malfoy memories that had captured his attention. There was also the not-so-subtle issue of the memories involving Miss Granger -or Hermione- as his past self had begun to think of her.  He could only thank Merlin above that he himself had knocked the memories of his frenetic coupling with Granger out of his mind back during their trip.

But many still remained – stolen kisses in the library, moments of quiet reflection beside the great lake. The intimacy of brewing together in silence.  This was far too complicated. When he first brought Granger back with him he couldn’t help but think she was some love-starved teenager who had seen war and was desperate to cling to something or someone she viewed as “safe”. He couldn’t quite understand why he’d become the unwitting touchstone, but he accepted it under the circumstances. He was a familiar face in a sea of strangers.

But now? After seeing all that they had shared? He couldn’t deny that it had been a mutual attraction. Very mutual. The swirling lust and desire he’d felt for her, obvious even in the Pensieve caused his entire body to flush. The memories of how he felt with her in his arms, the panic he’d felt when he thought she was lost to him.

She could no longer go back to being the bushy-haired know-it-all that drove him mad in class with her incessant chattering. No, now she was Hermione Lockheart! He suppressed a small laugh at that. But then his countenance grew grim once more. Things had changed.  They had changed so abominably poorly that he didn’t know what he would do.

The girl could be pregnant.

The realization had come upon him at Alice’s suggestion that they themselves start a family. The word ‘pregnant’ had hung there until he recalled the memory of himself and Miss Granger. The deep moans and lusty cries of need. The knowledge that they’d had intercourse -  two fertile teenagers!   He wanted to bury his head in his desk. Was nothing ever to be simple?

What would he do if she was? How could they raise the child and still hold their heads up in society? She was his student! There would be no hiding this pregnancy or the birth from the papers. That Skeeter woman would nose it out eventually. Then how could he explain it to Alice? That his student had travelled through time, they’d fallen in love and acted carnally? Who would believe it?!

Most of all, how was he going to raise a child with the girl? She wasn’t even twenty. And yes, surely their cherub-faced bundle of joy would be clever and brave. But it would also be forever maligned. Born of two parents – one Muggle born and the other a half blood? It wouldn’t matter that they were both Order of Merlin recipients. Their child would already be at a disadvantage.  And beyond that – where would they live?

With me of course, Severus reasoned until the other part of his brain drew to Alice. The woman he had pledged himself to.  What would become of Alice?

He was about to throw his hands up into the air in frustration when he heard her coming through the floo. He hadn’t wanted her to be seen entering his office with no reason. He couldn’t take the additional stress.

 She stepped out of his hearth red-faced and tentative.  She saw that Snape was standing behind his desk and so she made her way over to where he stood, ignoring the specimens in jars and the frightful chill of the evening. She cleared his throat, finding it hard to speak.

“Hello Professor.”

Snape said nothing, crossing his arms defensively over his chest and simply taking her in. This was his first time seeing her since his viewing of the Pensieve and he felt his entire body reacting strangely. Instead of being frustrated as he had been moments ago, he felt his entire body alight with some strange inner fire. He viewed as Hermione bit the corner of her mouth absently, a habit she engaged in when under duress.

I’ve kissed that mouth.

Snape almost physically jumped back as the thought skittered across his lecherous brain. He felt simultaneously repulsed and aroused. He draped his robe around him more fully before fixing her with a look that he hoped conveyed severity.

How did she not hate him? The last time they were together he had been bringing her to the Shrieking Shack to face her doom or death! How was she standing there looking at him with that wide-eyed open look of vulnerability? Was there desire there that licked at the edges of her gaze? How could she feel anything for him but disdain? What had made her want to consummate anything with his horrid younger self?

Focus. Remember what you asked her here for.

 Thoughts of pregnancy and children were clouding his brain and he felt uncharacteristically tongue-tied. What he meant to say next was “We need to talk about something serious” but what came out instead was:

“We need to talk about the baby.”

Hermione felt her entire body seizing at the intensity of his gaze. But his words didn’t make any sense to her at all. She stared at Snape a long moment, her brows furrowed before she spoke with respect. “Pardon me, sir?”

Snape flinched, regretting the verbal vomit that he had just displayed. He motioned for the girl to take a seat across from his desk. She did so, her eyes wide and unblinkingly staring up at him. He took a moment to collect himself before setting in the large chair behind the desk.

“When you and I were…” he paused, wondering how to delicately put this. “When you engaged with my younger self. Did you take precautions?”

 “Sir?”

“Contraceptive,” he hissed, furious that she was making him spell it out. Hermione immediately went a bright shade of red before looking as if she were about to be sick.  He himself felt the top of his cheekbones pinking uncomfortably.

No. She hadn’t been. She hadn’t been thinking of anything other than having Severus. She just wanted something that time couldn’t steal from her. A piece of him to carry with her until she expired. But now standing across from Snape in the dim light of his tapered candles she couldn’t help but feel nauseated at the reality of the situation.

“No.”

The word was barely above a whisper but it felt like a shout. She thought she saw Snape’s face blanch further.  He raised a hand to his mouth, wiping at his lips as if he were going to be sick. He turned and began rifling through a pile of potions on the shelf next to his desk.  Hermione recognized the veritaserum immediately as he plucked it from the shelf and turned back to her.

“Open your mouth.”

Hermione paused, concerned at what would happen if she did. What if she asked him questions? Questions that she didn’t want to answer? What if he asked more details of what had occurred between them in the past? She twisted her fingertips anxiously as she stared at the dropper in between his tapered fingers.

“My questions will pertain only to the matter at hand,” Snape reassured her, seeing the concern in her dark brown eyes. This seemed to appease her and so she nodded, parting her lips and waiting. Snape discreetly sucked in a lungful of air before the dropper travelled the length of his desk and onto the tongue of Hermione.  Two drops later and she winced at the sour taste as Snape returned the vial back to his collection on the shelf. She sat in the chair opposite the desk, feeling as the potion flowed aggressively through her veins.

“Have you told anyone what happened between us that night?” he asked smoothly without turning around. “Headmistress McGonagall perhaps?”

She was surprised by the lack of emotion in his question. But the answer was said before she could even think of a response.  It slipped through her lips before she had even truly registered what was asked. He still faced away from her, his body language stunted.  

“No sir,” Hermione shook her head emphatically at his back. “I would never tell anyone. I don’t want to get you in trouble. And I don’t want to get in trouble myself.”

Snape drew his finger across his bottom lip, darkly amused at the girl’s earnest answer. She looked as if she wanted to say something more but he raised his hand in front of him, silently urging her not to speak. She closed her mouth immediately at the sight.

He was quiet a long moment before he gripped his wand in his hands, twirling it between his long fingers. He turned on his heel, taking in her form dramatically before speaking.

“Stand.”

Hermione remained seated, looking to Snape with a worried look on her face. The veritaserum still coursed through her veins. “I’m afraid to stand. What are you going to do?”

“A simple diagnostic spell to determine if you’re pregnant or not.”

“Oh.”

Hermione watched as he came around from behind the desk, his movement’s fluid like a stalking jungle cat. He watched her as he came around, his eyes never really leaving her face.  She stood as she felt his cloak brush against her knees.  Licking her drying lips she looked up at him.  She would fall back on what she was familiar and comfortable with – learning

“How does it work?”

“It’s a revealing spell,” Snape said quietly. “I hold the wand to your abdomen and it reveals if anything is growing within.”

“Isn’t it too soon to tell?”

“Not for magic.”

Hermione viewed as the corner of his mouth hitched a fraction of a moment.  She nodded bravely, unsure of where her inner strength was coming from. She was determined to know the answer and whatever the spell revealed she would deal with.

“Alright.”

She could see that Snape was pausing, looking at her from the corner of his eyes uneasily. She wanted to ask him what was taking so long, but she also was reveling in this quiet moment with him.  She had been trying so hard not to think of him that being this close was something of an obscene pleasure.  He stood a few steps away from her, unsure of how to proceed. When he spoke his voice was strangely shy.

“It needs to be done on… Bare flesh.”

The realization of what he was asking her hit home and she felt her cheeks pinking. At this rate she would be permanently red-faced. She looked away from his face, unsure of how she would continue if she did. Without speaking she pulled the outer robe from over her head. He watched this, his stomach jumping as she pulled it off. He noted with that her hair frizzed further as she pulled it off. With a determined sigh she folded it neatly on the chair she had been sitting in.

Then she stood across from him in her uniform and she suddenly felt her Gryffindor bravery fail her. Her fingers trembled as they reached for her bottom button of her shirt. She kept trying and failing to unbutton them due to the shaking of her hands.

Calm down. Calm down and focus.  

He leaned over and his mouth was inches from her face.  She instinctively knew that he was anxious. She could see it in the reflection of his dark eyes when she glanced up at him. He was looking at her mouth and his voice was a quiet rasp that blew warm huffs of air against her cheek.

“Would you prefer Poppy do this?”

Hermione knew that he was giving her the option of having the mediwitch perform the spell. No matter what the result or how his reputation would suffer, he was still giving her the option of being less uncomfortable. She wanted to thank him for that, but instead she shook her head.

“No.”

“Then may I help you?”

Again Hermione couldn’t control the response that flowed immediately out her mouth.  “Yes.”

Without warning Snape had covered her hand in his, undoing the button for her. His fingers grazed the bare skin underneath as he worked and she held in a gasp. Her abdomen twitched in nervous anticipation. She watched mesmerized as his lean fingers undid the bottom four buttons of her shirt, each a delicate dance, before stepping back from her entirely.

She immediately missed the warmth of his body. He looked at her expectantly and she raised her shirt a few inches until her navel was exposed. Her entire body broke out in gooseflesh as the cool air of the dungeon hit her stomach. Or was it because his eyes were suddenly fixated there? She couldn’t be sure.

Snape looked at the smooth expanse of her naked skin and felt his mouth run dry. Everything in him burned to trace a finger down her soft abdomen, but he resisted. Instead he averted his eyes and focused on the wand in his hand. Clearing his throat he made a small circular motion in the air.

Graviditas revelar.” With that he pressed the wand to her lower abdomen, blinking as she flinched at the contact. He made a small circular motion with the wand on her belly, repeating the phrase until she saw the pale yellow light starting to blink. Snape brought the wand between them, his eyes unwaveringly fixed on the colored tip.  The blinking yellow stopped and then suddenly flashed a brilliant crimson. Gryffindor red. Hermione realized they had both been holding their breath when they both exhaled simultaneously.  “Well?” 

“You are not pregnant,” Snape said quietly. Hermione surprised herself by biting back tears. No, she hadn’t wanted to be pregnant of course. But an irrational part of her had considered if she was that in some strange way she would be carrying Severus with her forever. He would be etched within her and their child.

Hermione pulled down her shirt with a jerking motion before pulling her robe back on in a flash. Snape turned, somehow feeling that watching her would be disrespectful. He felt strangely lightheaded after all that had happened. He wanted a stiff drink.

Hermione knew that she should leave. Their interaction was over and they could go back to pretending that they were nothing more than teacher and student. She could go back to pining over his younger self and fighting off Ron’s advances. But she had a burning question that she simply needed to ask him, no matter what the answer.

“What would you have done if I had been pregnant?”

He turned swiftly as she spoke and she saw as Snape’s eyes widen a fraction.  He knew what she was asking and it was a dangerous path to go down. He schooled his features immediately, knowing that she needed to be treated at a distance.

 “You should leave, Miss Granger. We have nothing more to discuss.”

Hermione nodded, preparing to leave when something stopped her. She didn’t want to leave yet. She didn’t want to be away from him. She wanted to stay in this moment despite the circumstances. She felt safe with him. It felt strangely familiar to be around him, even when he was sour. But in those moments when he’d unbuttoned her shirt there had been tenderness. A kindness that he had never reserved for her before her trip back in time.

Snape was surprised when he didn’t hear the shuffling of shoes away from his desk. He glanced over his shoulder in irritation at the girl who was quite obviously staring at him. Her mouth was set in a determined line but there was something in her eyes that unsettled him.

“Why are you staring at me?” Snape asked with his most impressive sneer. Hermione seemed not to notice it. Instead she had a strange smile on her face, subtle like the Mona Lisa. If he wasn’t looking directly on, he doubted he would have noticed it.

“Because he’s still in there,” Hermione said, her eyes searching his face. “Somewhere.”

Before Snape could respond Hermione had slipped into the hearth and disappeared back to her room.

Chapter Text

Hermione walked up the long trail towards the Burrow, her feet crunching along the snow that covered the landscape outside of Ottery St Catchpole. Her breath huffed small clouds as she exhaled and glanced up at the familiar home, still amazed at how similar it looked to before the fire.

After her meeting with Snape the previous week, Hermione had come to the grim realization that he held no affection for her. As much as she saw his younger self reflected in those dark eyes, she also saw the futility of having her heart reserved for a shadow. Severus Snape and Professor Snape were like two separate entities and caring for the later was rather when in love with the former seemed somehow wrong.

She had also been mightily distracted with getting back into her studies. She had a future to think of – not just a romantic one. She had her sights set high. Being distracted she was in fear of falling behind. Most of her nights were spent holed up in the library pouring over the books she brought. Even today her right hand ached from over-use. She had the terrible habit of holding her quill quite tightly the entire time she wrote.

And she’d also been distressed to hear no further news about Draco Malfoy. Time was passing quickly and still nothing had been heard. She scoured the papers for any insights and found none. His pale face and sneering countenance still graced the front of every wizarding newspaper as Undesirable Number One, but aside from a few wizards and witches claiming they'd seen someone that looked familiar, nothing had come up.

And soon even he was starting to fade from her mind. He could do no more harm - they were home after all. It was if things were somehow slowly returning to normal. Not the normal they had been, of course. But slowly she was climbing back into a sense of normalcy. A belief that she could start her life once again.

She glanced up the length of the Burrow and saw Ron’s pale face peering out from the top window. He gave her a merry wave that she returned with a small smile. When she got to the door she opened it gently and pushed inside.  Ron greeted her with a cheeky grin and pulled her into a tight embrace.

“I missed you,” Ron said against her mouth.

“I was only here last night,” Hermione said, her face turning red as they broke apart.

Ron was her friend and he was now formally her boyfriend. He treated her well, listened to her when she was feeling upset and only last night in his room they had shared a newer level of intimacy that left Ron with what seemed like a permanent smile on his face.

 “I’ve got a surprise for you,” Ron said, gripping her hand and dragging her into the kitchen. When Hermione saw her surprise she squealed delightedly and flew across the kitchen. Ron watched the scene with a silly smile on his face.

There sat Harry, looking much more like his old self. Gone was the gauntness of his cheeks and the hollows under his eyes. What remained was a slightly tired looking Harry Potter with a beaming smile on his face.

“Hermione!”

She launched herself into his waiting arms, crying and laughing all at once. Ron watched the two of them from where he stood, his own eyes filling with grateful tears.

“I thought you weren’t being discharged until tomorrow!”

“I convinced them to let me go a day early,” Harry said with a lopsided grin as Hermione took the seat across from him. “I’ve been a model patient.”

“And you’re Harry bloody Potter,” Ron said with a laugh as he took a seat at the table. “I doubt they’d refuse any request you gave them.”

According to the clock the rest of the Weasley’s were either at work or out doing shopping. This allowed the friends peace and quiet in which to catch up without being disturbed.

“Do you remember anything at all after drinking the punch at the party?” Hermione asked anxiously over a cup of watery tea that Ron served them all.  

“What does it matter?” Ron asked with a narrowing of his eyes. “You’re back safe and sound.”

“It matters quite a bit,” Hermione answered sharply. “Do you remember, Harry?”

“Afraid not,” Harry said with a frown. “I remember us being in the Shrieking Shack and I think I was bound against the wall?”

“You don’t remember how you got there?”

Harry pondered this for a long moment, as if shaking the cobwebs from his mind. Suddenly his wide green eyes flashed in recognition.

“It was Malfoy,” he said in grim tones. “Draco told me that something had happened to Lupin. He told me that Lupin needed my help. So I followed him to the Shrieking Shack.”

“Do you remember anything else?” Hermione asked.

“When we got there it was Lucius waiting for us,” Harry looked suddenly furious. “He disarmed me the minute I walked in and… He must have set a spell on me. I don’t remember anything else.”

The three of them grew quiet and Harry focused his attention on Hermione. “What else happened, Hermione?”

“Lucius wanted us killed,” Hermione said into her teacup. “He and his gang had been plotting a way to do it since we arrived. Draco went along with it.”

Harry’s hands curled into a tight fist. “Pathetic ferret. Where is he now?”

Hermione detailed what had occurred since Harry had been brought to St. Mungo’s. Of Draco’s escape into the night and the inability to find him. She omitted much of the night, focusing on the later. She didn’t want to think about that awful night in the shrieking shack any longer.

“I’m going to find him myself,” Harry almost growled.  “And when I do, I’m going to-“

Hermione placed  a hand over his still curled fist stilling his violent promise. “Harry, the Aurors are doing all they can.”

“They really are, mate,” Ron agreed from beside Hermione. “It’s all anyone’s talking about at the office. He’s undesirable number one. They’re offering a hundred thousand galleon reward.”

This seemed to calm Harry and he eased back into his creaking chair. The three fell into a thoughtful silence that was only broken when the front door to the burrow was pushed open loudly.

Ginny walked through the door, chattering away with her Mum still outside. When she saw Harry sitting at the table her eyes grew wide and she dropped her parcels. Harry stood and before a word could be spoken, Ginny had thrown her arms around his shoulders and began kissing him ferociously.

The tips of Ron’s ears went red at this sight and Hermione glanced away uncomfortably. It wasn’t that the sight of such intimacy was detestable, but more that it felt very personal.

The two broke apart when Molly bustled into the room, and she too dropped her parcels before rushing over to give Harry a tight embrace.

“Oh Harry dear!We were so worried about you! Would you like some tea?”

“Oh Ron’s made-“

“Ron’s tea is rubbish,” Molly insisted, giving Ron a tender tap on the head. “Let me make you all a proper pot. I’ve just brought back some freshly baked pumpkin pasties as well!”

Hermione looked to Ginny as the girl cozied up to Harry in the chair next to him. She was looking to Harry with a mix of complete adoration that Hermione found utterly sweet.   

Molly began pelting poor Harry with questions about everything that had happened and Harry responded politely with Ron interjecting every couple of seconds.

Hermione took the reprieve to smile over at the redhead across from her. “You must be so glad he’s back.”

“I am,” Ginny replied with watery eyes. “And I’m never letting him go again.”

Before long a proper pot of tea had been brewed and some freshly warmed pumpkin pasties were set on the table before them. Before long Arthur and Fred had returned home and soon the home was loud and everyone’s belly was full of pasties.  

For once in a very long time, all in the world felt right again.

Chapter Text

“Did you get your invitation yet?”

Ginny’s voice was just above a whisper since Madame Pince had been in a foul mood this week. The old woman was currently re-shelving items on the far side of the library, giving Ginny a chance to corner Hermione quietly at one of the tables.

“I can’t imagine that you haven’t yet,” she continued in a soft rush. “Ron and Harry received theirs only this morning. I assume there’s one waiting for me at the Burrow.”

Hermione glanced up from her papers to see Ginny standing across from her at the table with an expectant look on her face. Hermione was surrounded by books of all her subjects and her fingers were stained with ink. She looked blearily to her friend.

“Invitation?”

“To the Ministry Awards Ceremony,” Ginny said with a wide grin. “The one they throw every Halloween for the Order of Merlin recipients from that year?”

“But we already had a ceremony,” Hermione insisted confused. “A month after Voldemort was defeated. Harry, Ron and I all got Order of Merlin First Class medals, remember?”

“I know,” Ginny said looking at Hermione as if she were barmy. “But that was for just the First Class Order of Merlin recipients. This one is for everyone involved in the taking down of Voldemort. All the other Order members will be receiving medals. Dad and Mum are being honored. You have to attend.”

Hermione trusted Ginny’s judgement – she was, after all, from a long line of wizards. She would know best whether something was normal or not.

In truth Hermione hadn’t seen much of Ginny the past few days. All her time was spent with Harry and Hermione couldn’t blame her. But it did leave her feeling rather… Alone. She found herself longing for the familiarity of the female companionship she’d had with Lily and Hestia. Girls who had similar interests in the academic and similar in disposition. It’s not that Ginny had no interest in the former, but she was forever preoccupied with Quidditch and Harry.

Hermione had never been able to make friends easily – much like riding a broom, this seemed to be a lesson one could not read about from books. Being friends with Ron and Harry had assuredly opened doors, but Hestia and Lily had been her friend out of choice, not because she had been dating their brothers.

But perhaps that was disingenuous. Ginny was looking excited for Hermione to attend after all, wasn’t she? Many of the people she respected most would be there, and it was a chance to get away from the castle for an evening and be distracted by something pleasant for a change.

“That sounds lovely,” Hermione said with a broad smile. “I’ll check for an invitation when I go back to my rooms.”

“Brilliant!” Ginny exclaimed in a way that was far too reminiscent of Ron.

“Shhhhh!” Madame Pince called from a few rows away. She was holding several thick books in her arms and fixing the two girls with a pinched look of displeasure.

 With a muffled giggle, Ginny sped out of the library flashing Hermione an excited grin. As she watched her friend leave, Hermione couldn’t help but feel relief. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about running into Snape at this party, despite him being part of the Order. There was no way the great introvert of Hogwarts would have any desire in attending.

***

Snape strode into the Three Broomsticks for lunch later that week with a sour look on his face. His eyes scanned the tables until they landed on Alice facing away from him at the far side.

He hadn’t seen her all week, citing that he’d been far too busy with schoolwork and meetings. In truth he had no desire to broach the subject of children with her after that unnerving episode with the Granger girl. He’d felt rather ill about the whole thing and even cut his afternoon classes short.

When Alice had asked for lunch today he knew he had to be up front with her. Having a child had not been in their initial agreement and he would be letting her know immediately. Severus Snape didn’t suffer fools and if Alice thought she’d be changing her mind, the woman had another thing coming. The engagement had been enough of a sacrifice on his part.

He drew to the booth and she turned, facing up to him with a tense little smile.

“Hello Severus.”

“Hello Alice.”

Snape took a seat across from her, glancing around the curiously quiet pub before dragging his gaze back to her serious looking face. She was dressed all in grey today, like a slim little raincloud. He cast a silencing spell around them, lest Rita Skeeter be in her animagus form waiting to write another article on he and Alice. When he was finished he fixed his eyes on the menu before him. He knew what he wanted, but he desired a few more moments of reprieve. 

“You’ve been so busy this last little bit,” Alice finally said with a small degree of warmth in her tone. “It’s lovely to see you.”

“And you,” Snape said respectfully. A barmaid came to take their order and they did so quickly. When she left the two of them were lapsing into an uncomfortable silence. It was Snape who broke it.

“Alice, about what we were speaking of-“

“Oh we don’t need to talk about that,” Alice said officiously, her cheeks pinking slightly as she cut him off. “I don’t know what I was thinking with all of that ridiculous baby talk.”

Snape was surprised at this turn of events. He had expected a row when she’d asked to meet him in a public place. He’d had an entire speech prepared. But now he was delighted and found himself relaxing back into the booth. No child talk? Brilliant! Things could go back to the way they were.

“Alright then,” he said with a small little smile on his face.

Their food and drinks were quickly brought to them, steaming and smelling delicious. A sheperd’s pie and butter beer for Snape and a green salad and ice water for Alice. They tucked into their meals and chewed thoughtfully.

“There’s a Ministry Awards Ceremony coming up at the end of the month,” Alice said as she dabbed the corner of her mouth with her napkin moments later. “I believe you should have received your invitation.”

“Yes,” Snape said with a sour look on his face. “I did.”

“Oh,” Alice said a little taken aback. “You never told me.”

“It didn’t seem important,” Snape said, pouring a liberal amount of gravy over his pie.

 “You don’t mean to say you won’t be attending?” Alice looked scandalized. Imagine turning something down from the Ministry! A chance to be lauded? She looked completely horrified as she watched Snape’s deft movements.

“Correct,” Snape said shoveling the pie into his downturned mouth. This conversation was going from dull to irritating in a matter of moments. He knew where this was going and he didn’t like it. For not the first time, Snape was beginning to question whether having semi regular sex was worth the headache of being in a functional relationship.

“You’re to be honored,” Alice was continuing, her meal forgotten. 

“Mmm.”

Alice started to get huffy. “And may I ask why you won’t be attending?”

“I have no desire to be brought out like a Ministry show Hippogriff,” Snape snapped irritably. “You know as well as I, that the moment I accept this Merlin award, second class mind you, it will be assumed that I will attend any and all functions put on by the Ministry. I will have to wear that ugly purple ribbon and shake hands and mingle and act the part for the rest of my blasted life.”

“I thought you’d want an Order of Merlin,” Alice insisted. She couldn’t imagine a higher honor.

“There was a time when I did,” Snape said taking a swig of his butter beer.  It was true – when he thought that he’d be receiving one for bringing in one of his most despised of the Mauraders, he had been elated. The world would have to treat him with respect after that!

Then it had all been buggered by Potter and his mates and in a moment of ire Snape had let it slip about Lupin’s condition to the press.  This still caused him a pang of regret if he thought about it too much. Especially since the werewolf was no longer alive.

“But the circumstances have changed and so have I,” Snape continued. “I was a puppet for far too long, I have no desire to go back into that role.”

“Oh Severus it’s not as bad as all that,” Alice insisted. “There aren’t that many events! Besides you’re forgetting you get a handsome amount of galleons when you become an Order of Merlin, Second Class.”

“There aren’t enough galleons in the world.”

Alice prodded at her salad and Snape observed how deflated she looked despite the rigid way that she sat. He felt a small flutter of sympathy for the woman. There were still many that called Snape a coward and a murderer, despite all he’d done. He would never be completely forgiven for Albus’ murder – this was evident in the Second Class distinction of his award.

But Alice stood by him through it all and seemed to care for him, despite his foul moods and his less than sterling reputation. He knew that being on the arm of an Order of Merlin recipient would put her in good stead at the Ministry. Who knew, maybe it would even help her achieve that promotion she’d been long chasing.

You’re not giving her a baby. Give her something.

He gave a small sigh before placing his fork onto the plate and fixing her with a patient look.

“However if it would please you, we could attend.”

Alice’s eyes jumped to his face, suddenly filled with warmth. She was not the type to hug or cry out in joy. But her small nod and “thank you” was enough for him.

***

Hermione walked into Madam Puddifoots with her bookbag on one shoulder and a broad smile on her face. She saw Ron’s brightly colored hair the minute she stepped into the shop and she rushed over to her friends sitting in their booth, wrapping them both in an enthusiastic hug before sitting next to Ron.

“It’s so nice to see you both,” she said, her heart full. It felt like old times being with the both of them. Even if her relationship with Ron had changed, it still felt comfortable and familiar to be surrounded by them.  Ron gave her a wet kiss on the side of her temple.

“Good to see you too,” Harry enthused warmly. He was about to say something more when one of the new waitresses walked over, looking at the three of them with wide eyes. As she took their orders (treacle tart for Harry, cauldron cakes for she and Ron and a pot of tea to share), her hands shook.

They were very aware of the many eyes on them in the crowded space. Madam Puddifoots had always been a rather comforting space that they could enjoy treats and warm drinks without being disturbed. But now since the fall of Voldemort they were something akin to major celebrities. Whispers went off like small hissing fires around the room.

“Defeated Voldemort as teenagers.”

“That’s Hermione Granger!”

“I hear she’s dating Ron Weasley!”

Harry who had lived with this sort of constant attention his entire life was unfazed. Ron seemed to be adoring the attention, pinking pleasurably. It was only Hermione who frowned at the peering eyes.

The waitress carried over their tea and treats, placing them with trembling hands on the table between the three of them. When she had finished she seemed to grow bolder.

“Are you… Is it true, that you’re the ones who took down He who—Voldemort?”

“Yes,” Ron said, preening. Hermione held in a groan as he puffed out his chest, giving the girl a wide smile.

“I thought so,” the girl said with a shy grin. “I’ve seen your pictures in the paper. I couldn’t believe someone my age could do something so brave and wonderful.”

“It was pretty scary at times,” Ron said in a voice that seemed a tone deeper than Hermione had ever heard. Was he actually puffing out his chest? “But it was worth risking our lives for the wizarding world.”

The girl looked as if her eyes were going to turn into hearts right then and there. She cooed a gentle sigh and seemed about to say something more when Hermione huffed beside him.

“Yes, well, we’re eager to catch up,” Hermione said bossily. She hadn’t meant to sound so sharp, but she couldn’t stand the simpering of the girl. “Thank you.”

With that she had turned to face the boys, casting a silencing spell over the table. The girl flushed a deep scarlet and ran from the table into the back room.

“Hermione!” Ron admonished. “That wasn’t very nice.”

Even Harry looked a bit embarrassed at what had happened. He ruffled his hair absently, starting to eat his tart without looking at either of them.

“I only have so much tolerance for boot licking Ron,” she said snidely. She knew it wasn’t like her, but the scene had been nauseating and she’d had a front row seat.

The three grew quiet, eating their treats and sipping their tea. Hermione tried not to be too upset but Ron’s reaction had been the embarrassing part! Honestly, who fell for that sort of sycophantic behavior?

“So how is Hogwarts now that we’re not there to get you into scrapes?” Ron asked with a small smile, breaking the silence. Immediately the tension was gone from between them.

“Stable,” she replied with a grin that touched her eyes. “And predictable which is how I like it these days.”

“That sounds good,” Harry said, taking a large bite of his treacle and smiling widely at her.  

“How is training going, you two?” Hermione broached, taking a small sip of tea. “I suppose you’re learning heaps of exciting things. Do they ever talk about Muggle investigation? Or is it all wizarding? And do-“

Harry dropped his fork gently to his plate and Hermione stopped talking mid-sentence. Half of his tart lay on the plate – a sure sign that something was up with her friend.

“Hermione I wanted to talk about something a bit… Different, if you don’t mind,” Harry’s face had grown cloudy. Hermione felt the cauldron cake in her stomach turn to lead. Even Ron looked a bit confused at his friend’s tone of voice and sudden change of subject.

“What about?”

“That night,” Harry said darkly. “The night Malfoy wanted to kill us.”

“What about it?” Hermione’s lips thinned. She noticed as Ron stiffened a bit beside her. Surely recalling the kiss with Snape. She make sure she kept her gaze on Harry.

“I need you to tell me everything that happened that night. I don’t remember it all after drinking that potion,” Harry continued seriously. “

“You ran out of the ball to the Shrieking Shack. I don’t know why exactly. I assume that Peter told you that Sirius was in trouble. When I saw you rush out I followed you and Snape followed me.”

 She knew it was partly a lie. But she couldn’t stand the thought that Harry would hate Snape again. He’d come so far in trying to forgive him that telling Harry that Snape was involved would just set it all back.

“Then I found you and Lucius and Draco in the shack. You were unconscious and bound.” Hermione winced at the memory. “They were going to feed you to the werewolf and sacrifice me to Voldemort. Draco suggested they Imperio me.”

“Did Snape try anything?” Harry asked with a frown.

“He tried to help actually,” Hermione said truthfully. “He pretended to cast a binding charm on me, but used my wand instead so it didn’t work.”

“Clever,” Harry said with a weird smile on his face. It was hard for him to admit that the man he’d loathed so long could do something like that.

“Then Ron came in,” Hermione said turning to face her boyfriend.

“Yeah,” Ron nodded. “Sirius was following Peter Pettigrew. I saw him following him out and I followed them, on a hunch. When I came in you were unconscious, Hermione was bound and Lucius looked ready to cast an Unforgivable.”

Hermione felt her eyes filling with tears as she recalled that night. It hadn’t just been Snape that had betrayed her, but also that Malfoy was just as awful as she’d always thought. He’d been willing to go along with that plan.

 “So I told Lucius and Snape to piss off otherwise I’d send them to Azkaban,” Ron finished. “Then we all came back.”

Harry looked as if he were going to scream in anger. Hermione reached across the table and placed a hand upon his, calming him.

“I’m going to find him,” Harry insisted. “Right after the Ceremony on Friday. I’m going to find that little ferret and I’m going to take him to Azkaban myself.”

“Harry, you’re still in training,” Hermione insisted worriedly. “And they already have heaps of Aurors on it.”

“Not ones that know Malfoy like I do,” Harry insisted, his hands clenched. “I’d leave right this minute if I didn’t know how much this ceremony means to Ginny.”

“I’ll come with you,” Ron insisted, giving Harry a brotherly nod. “Two heads are better than one, after all.”

Harry smiled tensely in agreement.

“No!” Hermione exclaimed, thankful for the silencing spell. “Harry you can’t!

“Hermione we love you,” Harry said in a soft voice. “But this is going to happen.”

“Then I’ll come with you too,” Hermione insisted, feeling as if it were the hunt for horcruxes all over again.

“No,” Harry shook his head quickly. “Hermione, you’re here to finish school. Ron and I are training to be Aurors and this is our field. I’m not saying you’re not capable, but you came back to Hogwarts for a reason. I’m not going to drag you off again.”

Hermione understood where he was coming from, and yet she went to voice her opposition when Ron swiveled slightly in the booth, bumping her shoulder.

“Is that Snape?” Ron said suddenly looking out the window. Their eyes drew to the tall figure, moving stealthily past the restaurant. His arms were linked with Alice. Hermione felt her throat constrict ever so slightly but she answered.

“I think so.”

“Is that his fiancée?” Ron continued the awe apparent in his voice.  

“She’s quite fit,” Harry observed, a little surprised. He had always assumed Snape would carry a torch for his mother until she died. A strange part of him was relieved at the realization that the petulant Potion Master was moving on.

“Yeah,” Ron agreed, the shock clear on his face. “I never really thought of Snape as… human, you know? Wanting a wife and all that.”

“Me either,” Harry agreed.

Hermione allowed a fleeting glance out the window and watched as the last of Snape’s robes disappeared from view.  

“They look happy together,” Hermione offered quietly.

“Happy?” Harry said with a laugh. “I don’t know if he’s capable of it. But he doesn’t look half as nasty as when he was our teacher. Maybe she’s changed him.”

 “That or he’s getting a leg over on the regular. Mental to think about, isn’t it?” Ron said with a goofy smile. “Snape and sex!”

“Ugh,” Harry gave a dramatic shiver. “Obliviate that image from my mind immediately, please.”

“Excuse me,” Hermione said in a fierce tone, pushing herself back from the table. “I’ve got to use the loo. You can continue this disgusting conversation while l’m gone.”

While she left the boys continued their quiet appraisal over what type of woman Alice had to be to want to marry Snape. They didn’t notice that their friend’s shoulder’s were shaking from fiercely restrained sobs.

Chapter Text

Hermione recited the charm in her mind, moving her hand in a half moon shape in the air as she mouthed the words. She needed to get in all the practice she could get.

“Hermione for Merlins’ sake!” Ginny said with a good-natured groan. “Take a night off!”

“I need to be prepared for next week’s test in charms,” Hermione insisted, repeating the movement of her hand holding an imaginary wand. “I need to get an O in this class if I wanted that Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures position when I graduate. They’re quite strict you know.”

Hermione and Ginny were standing in the entrance hall of Hogwarts in their best dress robes, smiling as they waited for their dates to arrive. Hermione felt it was very reminiscent of her anticipating the Yule Ball.

Several of the first and second years were huddling in grounds nearby, several peering out a few moments before going back to their conversations. They were hoping for a rare Harry Potter sighting. Hermione glanced over at Ginny, noticing that the girl was fairly glowing in anticipation.

“Hermione you helped to defeat Voldemort,” Ginny said with an eye roll. “I’m sure you could have Kingsley’s job as far as the world is concerned.”

“Ha!” Hermione snorted with a roll of her eyes. “Hardly. And besides, I don’t want to get a job because of what I’ve done. I want a job because I deserve it. If I get a job because of my reputation and not because of my hard work and my scores, I’ll be very irritated. I’d be no better than Malfoy paying his way onto the Slytherin Quidditch team.”

“Speaking of which,” Ginny offered as she looked at her friend. “Have you heard anything more about the git?”

“Not so far,” Hermione hedged. She wondered if Ginny knew about Harry’s plans to go after Malfoy. Hermione had owled Harry every day this week listing reasons he shouldn’t go after Malfoy, but never heard back. Hermione decided not to say anything to Ginny just in case she wasn’t informed. The last thing she wanted to do was spoil the evening for any of the Weasley’s.

Molly and Arthur had talked Hermione’s ear off when she joined Ron for dinner earlier that week.  Molly was running from room to room insisting that she was running out of fabric. Arthur meanwhile was trying to get Hermione to tell him more of this “internet” the Muggles were raving about during his last trip to London.

He and Molly had looked so upbeat and excited to be receiving the awards. Hermione had even brought them a box of Honeydukes chocolates and a card, congratulating them on their win of the award and how much they deserved it.

“They’re doing a special award too,” Molly said, dabbing her eye with her napkin during dinner. “One for all of the witches and wizards killed during the war. My George will be honored properly.”

Hermione felt a lump form in her throat at the memory. She was glad when Harry and Ron appeared at the foot of the stairs, looking up at their dates with wide smiles. Hermione gave a weak smile at Ron, noticing the eyes that were on them both.

Ginny threw herself down the stairs and into Harry’s waiting arms, pressing a firm kiss to his lips before grabbing his hand and dragging him out the front doors and towards where the portkey would be waiting to take them to the awards.

Feeling awkward, Hermione made her way down in a quick shuffle. Ron was standing at the bottom, grinning up in her direction. He was dressed in navy blue robes and looked smashing with his hair brushed back. He was looking at the gaggle of whispering students behind her. Many were pointing and he was sure he heard the word hero being bandied about.

Wanting to give them all a show, Ron reached for Hermione as she approached the bottom of the staircase. She squealed in surprise as he gathered her into his arms and pressed a scorching kiss to her surprised mouth. Red-faced and furious at being embarrassed, Hermione began pulling back. As she did, she felt as she was struck roughly in the shoulder by a passing figure.

Hermione went to say something in irritation when she saw the tall, dark form of Snape moving past her and headed for the dungeons. His strides were long and quick and his robes were flapping around his body. He was obviously in a rush.

Hermione felt her heart and stomach drop significantly before she turned her attention back on Ron.

“Let’s go.”

***

Hermione was still in a huff when they arrived at the awards ceremony. Ron was pleading with her to cool off and that he’d just been excited to see her.

“I suppose the smile you shot all the students when we were leaving wasn’t anything?” Hermione asked stiffly as they entered the doors. “Do you honestly need all that adoration every minute of the day?”

Anything Ron was going to say to defend himself was lost as the doors parted and Kingsley Shacklebolt greeted them by giving them both emphatic handshakes. Ron got a companionable clap on the back that made him wince.

“So glad you two could make it,” Kingsley said warmly. “Wouldn’t be the same without all of you here.”

The three of them chatted a bit until Kingsley saw another figure entering into the Ministry and excused himself. Hermione took a deep breath before she and Ron plunged into the roomful of people. The ballroom of the Ministry of Magic had been transformed completely into a glowing night. Blue velvet hung on every walk and ceiling, bewitched with millions of twinkling lights.

There were dozens of circular tables with various dignitaries, witches, wizards and other guests who were going to be getting awards. Hermione and Ron waved at Molly and Arthur who returned the wave before falling back into conversation with Luna and her father. Harry and Ginny sat at the same table and as they approached all of the surrounding tables stood and began clapping emphatically.

Hermione went red, waving a bit in thanks before ducking her head and sitting down quickly in the seat opposite Harry. Ron gave a leisurely wave and bright smile before sitting next to Hermione. He took a glass of wine from the center of the table and began chatting with his parents.

“They did the same cheering for me when we arrived,” Harry said out the corner of his mouth. “Humiliating.”

“Completely,” Hermione agreed.  Ron didn’t answer, but she couldn’t help but notice that he was looking quite proud of himself at the attention.  Hermione took a sip from her own wineglass, wishing that this evening was already over.

“No way,” Ginny said softly, looking over Hermione’s shoulder. Hearing Ginny, Harry glanced up and fixed his gaze in the same spot.

 “I can’t believe he came,” said Harry with wide eyes.

“Me neither.”

Curious, Hermione took a glance over her shoulder and felt her entire body freeze. There stood Snape, looking down his nose at the entire room. He was dressed in his formal black robes, his hair looking freshly washed. His fiancée Alice stood next to him, dressed in mauve robes with her hair in a low chignon. She was clutching Snape’s arm and beaming at everyone she made eye contact with.

Snape’s own eyes were heavy lidded, and his posture rigid. He looked like he’d rather be anywhere than at this event. So then why had he bothered attending? Hermione couldn’t understand why he would be there. He had no interest in revelry of any sort, especially the Ministry related kind.

Hermione watched as Kingsley approached the couple, shaking Snape’s hand politely and speaking lowly. Snape looked as if he was barely listening to what the Minister said but Alice looked as if she were ready to faint. Snape’s dark eyes scanned the busy room slowly, resting on familiar faces until- -

Hermione whipped around the instant his eyes found hers until she was facing Harry and bringing her wineglass to her lips. Sipping deeply she tried to quell the surprise clearly written on her face. Harry was speaking with Ginny, the topic of Snape’s arrival already old news.  Ron was talking to his parents, so Hermione took a moment to enjoy the silence and internally wail.

She was supposed to be getting away from Professor Snape! What on earth was he doing here at the Ministry Awards? He didn’t like events like this! He didn’t even enjoy leaving Hogwarts more than once a week as far as she could tell. She was supposed to have one bloody evening off of obsessing about that tall git and his stupid fianc-

“Congratulations Arthur, Molly,” came a low purr from directly behind Hermione’s chair. She felt her entire body tense as the familiar voice of Snape enveloped her. She could feel the warmth of his body on her back. Harry and Ginny were looking up, giving small polite smiles in Snape’s direction.

“Congratulations yourself,” Molly said warmly, standing and giving Snape a small handshake. After all that had happened it was still strange for Molly to see Snape before her, knowing all that had happened to the lad. She was pleased that he seemed to be moving on, even if Alice seemed a bit… Well, not Severus’ type.

Hermione could only see his hand, going to shake Arthur’s proffered hand across the table from where she sat. She had no desire to turn around and see him. Ginny excused herself, seeing a friend across the room. Hermione watched her leave the table, unable to move. She felt completely rooted to the spot.

“Surprised to see you here,” Arthur said, pumping Snape’s hand chummily. “I didn’t think Ministry events would be your cup of tea.”

“Oh we simply had to attend,” Alice gushed, clinging even more tightly against Snape. “It’s not every day a wizard gets an Order of Merlin!”

“Second class,” Snape added with a dark smile.  Alice went pink immediately, all the way down to the hem of her robes. Molly and Arthur exchanged a strange look between them. Snape didn’t seem too fazed, looking casually around the table until his eyes landed on the back of Hermione’s head.

“And I hear congratulations are in order,” Molly said, desperate to break the uncomfortable silence.  Snape’s eyes didn’t move, but Alice seemed to come alive, moving on from her embarrassed flush. She raised her head in a dignified manner, slowly detaching her hand from Snape’s arm.

“Yes,” Alice said with a subtle grin. “Thank you. We’re very pleased.”

“When is the big day?” Arthur asked.

“We haven’t set a date,” Snape said in his sonorous tone. Hermione still hadn’t the strength to look behind and up at him. But she could tell that he still standing just behind her. Why on earth wasn’t he moving to sit elsewhere? She couldn’t stand hearing any more about this bloody engagement.

All of a sudden Kingsley took the stage nearby, obviously readying himself to give an opening speech for the event. Alice observed as much to the rest of the table, looking at Severus anxiously.

“Have a pleasant evening, Molly, Arthur. Potter, Weasley,” Snape’s voice dipped a fraction. “Miss Granger.”

The group chorused a farewell and with that he was gone, the warmth of his body already leeching from her body. Hermione felt she could finally breathe again. She heard Kingsley clearing his throat and was about to turn when she felt Ron’s eyes on her. He was watching her, his eyes inscrutable.

Hermione glanced over at him, giving him a weak smile. She was so flustered she failed to notice that he didn't attempt to return it.

***

Snape watched Alice over his wine glass. She was droning on beside him with some of the Ministry folk, laughing gaily and ignoring Snape completely. He was rather thankful for it, hoping that the entire farce of an evening would be over sooner rather than later.

The minute he’d arrived he’d been bombarded by flash bulbs and simpering wizards and witches that wanted to shake his hand and thank him for all he’d done.

“A true hero!”

“So misunderstood!”

“Thank you for all you’ve done, young man!”

This sycophantic display repulsed him. Yet he nodded politely and moved his way quickly to the bar. Alice clung to him like a ship in a port until more dignitaries came over to speak with them. When it was clear that Snape was only interested in the high end alcohol, she took over completely.

It was a side to her that he was appreciative for this evening, but completely turned off by.  And so he’d scanned the room in casual interest until a familiar cloud of dark hair caught his attention.

“So glad you could make it, Severus,” Kingsley said, shaking the man’s hand quickly. “I know that events like this aren’t exactly your scene.”

“Mmm,” was the noncommittal response from the tall man. Snape had never really trusted Kingsley and now that he was Minister of Magic he trusted him even less.

“Nonetheless I’m pleased and honored you’ve chosen to attend.”

“It’s our pleasure,” Alice burst out, smiling so widely her face may well split in half. Kingsley and Alice spoke a moment, about nothing that interested Snape. A moment later Kingsley had moved past them and into a group of witches that looked ready to faint.    

Snape was left with the strangest feeling of… pride. He hadn’t felt it in so long that he barely recognized it. He could feel Alice practically vibrating on his arm, so delighted at having met the Minister for Magic.

His eyes drew around the room, falling on some familiar wizards he’d seen around town. Some were former students. Many were staring at him. Unwillingly his gaze went to the back of a bushy haired brunette. She was sitting with the Weasley clan and Potter.

He had been so unhappy seeing her with Weasley at Hogwarts. It was all he could do not to lunge at the boy and toss him off of her.  Kissing and carrying about in front of everyone! Where was the decorum in that? He frowned into his drink.

Kingsley gave his formal address, citing that they were all to drink and be merry and that in a few hours they would begin handing out the Awards for the evening. Snape barely heard him over the buzz of the excited folks at his table.

He noted that Hermione and the rest of the table were digging into their recently arrived meals. Snape looked down at his own resplendent dinner, having no desire to eat a bite. Imagine the chit’s rudeness. That was all it was – the girl had been acting without decorum. Not becoming of a Head Girl at all.  That’s why he was so upset.

That’s all it could be.

***

Hermione was full of good food and drink when she heard the band begin to strike up. She turned, curious to see who would be playing. She saw a dark woman at the center of the stage, beckoning to the banshees at the side of the stage to join her.

 “That’s Celestina Warbeck ,” Hermione said in shock. The woman hadn’t changed much in the last few years. She could still hear her infectious voice from the Slug Club Ball.

“Good ear, Hermione,” Arthur said with a surprised laugh from across the table. “Not many people your age know her. She was more popular with my age group.”

Hermione didn’t answer, only giving a small nod at Arthur before her attention was taken back by Celestina as she began to sing.

“Hello wizards and witches,” Celestina said with a broad smile. “It’s my pleasure to be performing you tonight. What a great honor to be in a room of such distinguished heroes and heroines. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve done. I hope you know how indebted we are to you all. And to start the evening off, let’s begin with one of my classics.”

With that she had twirled and before their eyes her robes became a sparkling flower shaped dress. The crowd clapped and cheered as she began her familiar refrain.  The banshee’s howled behind her, starting the tune.

I've got a cauldron full of hot, strong love
And it's bubbling for you!
Say Incendio, but that spell's not hot
As my special witch's brew-”

Immediately Hermione was transported back to that moment at the Slug Club Dance. Secure in Snape’s arms as they danced.  The song fell over her like a strange time-travelling blanket. With every blinks she was back twenty years ago, being held by the strong arms of Severus.

And now in the present, as if drawn by magnets, Hermione and Snape locked eyes across the room. Hermione’s body began to prickle at the sensation of Snape’s eyes travelling her face. Did he remember? Could he remember what had happened between them? The only way that was possible was if… He’d actually chosen to look at the memories in the Pensieve. But why would he?

He was a spy. He needs to know everything. It’s part of his nature. It wasn’t so he could look back on your romantic past, you idiot. When will you understand that Professor Snape has zero interest in you?! Move on!

Celestina continued to sing her familiar haunting tune and Hermione turned to face the group.  Ron was talking to his parents and Ginny still hadn’t returned. Feeling as if she would scream if she had to sit there, being stared at by Snape for much longer she cast a desperate look at Harry.

“Let’s dance,” Hermione insisted, tugging her friend gently by the wrist onto the dance floor. Harry acquiesced with a look of surprise on his face. The tune was rather low and sultry, but Hermione didn’t care. She needed the escape. She pulled them to the far side of the dance floor – away from Snape’s gaze and the throng of people who stared at them. They danced a few moments with Harry looking at Hermione as if she were mad.

“Thank you,” Hermione offered.

“No problem,” Harry said, moving her stiffly. “But why the urgency?”

“I can’t explain.”

“It’s Ron,” Harry offered bluntly. Hermione furrowed her brow.  “Isn’t it?”

“Ron?”

“You two haven’t been the same since we got back,” Harry offered thoughtfully. “Ron knows it.”

“He does?”

“Mhmm,” Harry nodded. “And I think you know it too.”

Hermione said nothing, choosing to sway gently in Harry’s arms. She decided she still had so many questions for Harry, now that he was out of harm’s way (for now). She didn’t want to talk about Ron. Her mind was still stuck in the past and the night of the dance.

"Why didn't you spend much time with Lily during our trip?" Hermione asked thoughtfully. "You wanted to see them both but I can only really remember you with your father and the rest of the Marauders."

She was surprised to note that Harry’s pale green eyes were quite damp.

 "It was too hard," Harry replied softly. "Every time I looked into her eyes I saw myself reflected back. Then it's like all I could think of was how she was going to be dead soon because of me. My dad had no chance, but my mom? Voldemort would have let her live on account of Snape. She died directly because of me." 

"Oh Harry." Hermione gripped him tightly around the shoulders. "Don't think like that."

 "But I do," Harry said resolutely. "And that's why I need to make sure Malfoy pays for what he's done."

 Hermione felt her eyes shutter in frustration and anxiety. She hated that Harry was going to put his life in danger again. But she also knew that no matter of talking or warning from Hermione was going to stop him one bit.

 "I really wish you weren't going after him," Hermione said as he turned her in a slow circle. "I'm worried is a trap."

 "I need to do it," Harry insisted. "You know it's not right that he's out there not paying for what he's done. Voldemort is gone. We don't need Wizards like Malfoy out there, prepared to do horrible things. For all we know he could be preparing to become the next Voldemort." 

"I can't see that," Hermione said with a frown. "He's not got the stomach for mass evil. Likely he’s just going to hide out for the rest of his life. Isn’t that punishment enough? To be living in disgrace and wanted? Always having to look over his shoulder?"

 "He was going to kill us," Harry insisted. He slowly dropped Hermione's arms as the song came to a close.  He looked as if he were about to say more when he was stopped.

 “May we cut in?” came the dual voices of Ginny and Ron, standing a few steps away.  Ginny’s eyes were full of mirth and Ron looked strangely uneasy. Hermione and Harry nodded, smiling and changing their respective partners without question. 

 A quicker song came on and Hermione felt as Ron’s hand tightened around her waist, giving her an inscrutable look as he moved with her around the dance floor clumsily. She couldn’t quite meet his eyes – she felt she didn’t really know Ron anymore as he smiled for the flashbulbs that went off nearby.

He had spun them around the circumference of the dance floor. Hermione did her level best not to search out Snape’s eyes among the throng of attendees. But as they neared his table she let her eyes dart out. He was speaking to Alice, looking remarkably unimpressed.

 She felt her heart give a hiccup at the sight before turning her attention on Ron who was smiling over her head at the clapping witches nearby. It wasn’t really Ron’s fault, was it? He was who he was. He had always been the glory seeker, the attention desire-r. He was brave and he was funny and he was always so desperate to be out from under his siblings shadow. Well he was now – so what more was he trying to prove? Or was this just how he’d always been and Hermione hadn’t noticed?

After all, it was Hermione who had changed. She no longer found Ron’s boyish ways appealing. The damp hand that held hers as they danced didn’t cause her heart to race as it had at the start of their summer. The scent of his hair no longer --  She paused as if struck.

The Amortentia.

She recalled its contents when she was in her fifth year, when Slughorn had taken over Potions. She knew exactly what she had inhaled. Freshly mown grass. New Parchment. Spearmint toothpaste. Ron’s hair.

And now she recalled that her current Amortentia held nothing of Ron. Not a whiff. Only the scent that took her back into the arms of Severus. She didn’t feel for Ron like she had and they both knew it.  Ron wanted glory and adoration. She wanted knowledge and to change lives for the better. They weren’t bad people, they were just bad for each other.

A slow song came on and she sighed a bit as Ron pulled her closely against him. They were nearing the vicinity of Snape’s table and she ducked her head the best she could. She didn’t want to see him. Or did she not want him to see her in Ron’s arms?  Whatever the case, she pressed her head to Ron’s chest, closing her eyes to shield herself from Snape and listening to the welsh songstress continuing on the stage.

You charmed the heart right of me
To my whole life you hold the key
You cast your spell and suddenly
I cannot forget you!

Hermione’s opened her eyes, realizing that Ron had turned them slightly as they swayed. She was now looking directly at Snape. He was taking a sip from his wineglass and staring at Hermione overtop of it before breaking his gaze and looking over at the group that was trying to speak to him at his table.  Hermione hurriedly pulled Ron to the far side of the room before they continued dancing, citing that there was a draft.

This feeling's utter bliss
Yet something seems amiss
Like a Dementor's Kiss
You're consuming me!
And now you've torn it quite apart
I'll thank you to give me back my heart!

The two didn’t speak, but as the song continued on Hermione felt Ron holding her tightly against him. Her eyes filled with tears as she clung onto his shoulders. This was the boy she had always assumed she’d marry. That they’d have red headed children and he’d be a Quidditch player as she worked hard at making the wizarding world a better place.

But now? Now none of that would happen. It didn’t matter that Snape didn’t want her. She had found a passion that she knew she couldn’t live without. And this was a passion she may never have again from Snape, but it was a passion that Ron could never give her. This realization caused her heart to crack.

 “It’s over, isn’t it?” Ron said softly above her, dragging his hand through her hair softly. She was surprised at this gentle response, having expected a furious red-faced Ron shouting at her.  Perhaps Ron had changed more than she gave him credit for.

“I don’t want it to be,” Hermione sniffed. Part of her believed it and desperately wanted their life to continue as they had both imagined. Not having him there in her life would be hard. But could he remain her friend? She wasn’t sure.

“I know,” Ron said, his voice rumbling in his chest against her ear. “But I can’t be someone’s second choice. I’ve lived my life with hand me down clothes and hand me down wands. I can’t have hand me down love as well.”

Hermione pulled back, looking up at Ron’s face in confusion. “What?”

“It’s Snape,” Ron said simply, looking at her with a mildly disgusted look on his face. Despite all the git had done, thinking of Snape as someone that his girlfriend found attractive was confusing and a little gross.  “You care for him.”

“Professor S-“ Hermione stopped herself from correcting him. “No, Ron. It’s not. I think… I think I’ve just changed. After all we’ve been through I don’t know who I am anymore. And I need to figure myself out before I’m in a relationship. But I don’t want to lose you.”

She sniffled, trying her best not to draw stares from the dancers around them. She wiped discreetly at her eyes.

 “We defeated a troll together when we were twelve,” Ron said with a smile. “We helped to take down the most evil bloody wizard in the world. If you think something like a break up is going to stop us being friends well, then, you’re not half as clever as everyone thinks you are.”

She surprised herself by giving a short laugh and throwing her arms tightly around Ron’s neck, standing on her tip toes to do so. He captured her in a large hug, whispering in her ear that he would always be her friend and that she had to promise to take care of herself and Ginny while he and Harry were gone.

“I promise,” she said, wiping the tears from her face. Hermione was about to say something more when a figure entered into the great room. Her dark hair was cut into a glossy bob and she wore dark purple lipstick to match her robes. But there was no mistaking the familiar warmth  in her pale grey eyes as she nodded to the wizards she was speaking with whilst taking delicate sips from her delivered champagne glass.

She was still long legged and her skin still pale with pink cheeks, but she had lines around her mouth and eyes now. She was also wearing quite a bit of mascara and Hermione could see the silvery shadow of a scar across her eyebrow.

“I can see there are quite a few eligible witches here tonight,” Hermione said, looking to Ron with a smile. “Why don’t you use your newfound glory to introduce yourself to one? A girl who likes being on the arm of a war hero instead of hunched over a book.”

“Thanks for the suggestion,” Ron said with a wan smile. “I may just do that.”

With that the two had parted and Hermione had slowly made her way across the floor and to the side of the room. She had seen a flash of the woman’s robe and was worried a moment that she’d lost her. Her eyes scanned the vicinity until they landed on the woman heading for a table. Hermione walked quickly over and pressed her hand against the woman’s shoulder. 

The woman turned, tossing her dark glossy hair as she did. She gave Hermione a tentative smile, confused at the approach.

“Hestia?” Hermione blurted out before she could stop herself. “Hestia Taylor?”

Hestia paused, glancing down to see the infamous Hermione Granger looking up at her with wide brown eyes.

“Hestia Jones for about ten years now,” the woman replied with a surprised laugh.  She raised a hand to showcase the large square diamond on her ring finger. “And you’re Hermione if I’m not mistaken.”

Hermione felt all her breath leave her. “You remember me?”

“You and your friends are rather famous,” Hestia said with a small smile. “It would be rather shameful to be here and not know the individuals responsible for taking down Voldemort.”

Hermione immediately deflated.  “Right.”

What had she been hoping for? That this almost forty-year-old woman would remember her and want to start a friendship? How strange would that have looked? Hermione felt a wash of self pity taking her over and she felt her lower lip begin to quiver slightly. Hestia’s hand came to land gently on her shoulder.

“Are you alright, dear?”

“Yes,” Hermione said biting back tears at the sincere concern in her old friend’s voice. “Completely fine. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

With that she walked off, seeing that Ron was off chatting up some giggling witches and Harry were talking to a few of the Ministry workers. Hermione took this opportunity to slink off onto the darkened and mercifully empty balcony that had been conjured for the evening. It was cool and barely illuminated with a few candles. 

She stood, bracing the cold and looking out into the blackened night. So many lights shone in the inky sky that Hermione couldn’t help but be reminded of the Astronomy Tower.  Thoughts of the past, of Lily and Hestia and a friendship she’d never have again. Thoughts of Severus’ arms and mouth and a love she’d never have again. So much had been lost and she felt her entire body trembling.

She had lost her friends, she had lost her boyfriend. Yes, Harry and Ron would still be in her life. But the life she thought she would be living had evaporated. There would be no family Christmases at the Burrow. No shopping for their dual baby clothes with Ginny. There would be no foursome gathered around the table for family dinners. She would forever be an outsider – a friend on the edges.

She had always been like that – no true friends until those two. Her parents had been supportive but not keen on emotion. Harry and Ron had accepted that she occasionally got weepy or emotional. And now they were headed off into danger and she was so worried for them.

She felt so summarily overwhelmed with all these thoughts that her entire body seemed to convulse. Without warning she began to sob quietly into her hands. The raucous music from inside drowned out her cries and she let it all out. The months of insecurity and confusion and fear.  When she felt she had no more tears left she let out a shuddering exhale.

“Miss Granger.”

Hermione gave a sharp gasp of surprise as she turned at the sound of the familiar baritone.  She wiped at her eyes quickly, inwardly humiliated that he was seeing her like this. She took a deep, steadying breath and glanced over her shoulder.

“Hello, sir.”

He said nothing in return, choosing to walk slowly towards her, looking down his long nose at her. She watched his every silent footfall, looking less like the boggart that came from the closet and more like a predatory jungle cat stalking its prey.

“Congratulations on your award,” Hermione said nervously, hoping that her eyes weren’t too red. “I think you deserve a First Class, but you know how the Ministry is, so political.”

Snape smirked slightly. “Indeed.”

“At least you’ll walk away with something,” Hermione continued, needing to fill up the silence. “I imagine getting a Third Class would have been a real slap in the face, but considering how long Cornelius Fudge was running things I wouldn’t be too surprised. I just-“

Snape had long stopped listening to what the girl was saying. Instead he was taking in the splotched neck and face, the red eyes and the wet cheeks. She’d obviously been crying, but why?  He drew his attention back into the charmed night sky, enjoying the reprieve of the hall behind them.

He needed a break from the cloying sweetness of ministry toadies. He needed a break from Alice gripping his arm tightly and announcing that her fiancé was going to be honored this evening.  He needed a break, full stop from all this madness.

The two stared into the night sky and Hermione could see from the corner of her eyes that Snape was now standing directly beside her. If she tilted her body just so, she may have been able to brush up against him. She wouldn’t of course, but still the fact remained that it was a possibility.

“I’ve rather been enjoying your classes this year,” Hermione said to break the quiet between them. “Especially the lessons on alchemy. I’ve always had a keen interest on how it works in the magical community.”

“It’s a fascinating subject,” Snape said without his usual malice. “I suppose you’re just lucky that it doesn’t call for lolligo eggs.”

Hermione started a moment before she saw that Snape was smirking off into the distance. After a moment Hermione gave a short huffing laugh, recalling her horrible attempts at stealing from Lola.  

Another thought occurred then – If he recalled Lola, then he recalled their moment by the lake. He recalled all of it! He’d looked at the memories! The realization caused her to feel a mixture of giddy and terrified and it came out in her shaking voice.

“I suppose you’re right,” Hermione agreed, desperate not to show that she knew. “Although I do hope we’ll be learning more about the Snargaluff and its uses.”

“That will be in the spring months,” Snape replied easily. “It’s safer to collect then.”

“Will we be collecting it ourselves, sir?”

“Trying to get a head start already are we, Miss Granger?” Snape asked with a small smirk as the girl’s cheeks pinked “Although at this point I’d rather be drinking an entire bottle of Snargaluff juice if it meant avoiding this event.”

“You and me both,” Hermione said, surprising him. “I only came because it was expected. Especially with Ron’s parents winning the awards.”

“Of course,” Snape’s countenance suddenly changed. Hermione noticed this and decided to press her luck.  She took a step towards him and he forced himself not to move. He wouldn’t show any weakness.

“Why did you view the memories, sir?” Hermione asked tentatively. “The ones of our time back? You’d already made the antidote, hadn’t you? Why bother looking at them?”

Snape turned to face her, his obsidian gaze sliding over her features. He looked tense and as if he were about to say something when there came a loud sound of heels clacking behind them. Alice stood at the entrance of the balcony, her stony gaze moving fluidly from Snape to Hermione and then back again.

“Severus,” she said, forcing a thin smile. “They’re announcing the Order of Merlin awards. We should head back inside.”

Snape’s eyes slid over to Alice and he gave her a perfunctory nod.  He didn’t glance back at Hermione as he moved back to the entrance of the balcony, offering Alice his elbow.  Hermione watched as the woman gave a supercilious look in Hermione’s direction before being escorted indoors.

He’d viewed the memories. Hermione was sure of it now. His innocuous comment of lolligo eggs had sealed her desperate suspicions. But then… He’d viewed them and still chosen Alice, hadn’t he?  He hadn’t come to her desperate to whirl her away. In fact he’d done all in his power to keep away from her. Tonight he likely just took pity on her.

This realization caused Hermione’s chest to tighten painfully. And while she had been convinced that she was out of tears, she was hardly surprised when more slipped down her cheeks and dropped onto the cold stone floor.

Chapter Text

Hermione spread out the Daily Prophet on the long table beside her breakfast. As she sipped her morning tea, her eyes scanned for anything of significance.

It had been almost a month since Ron and Harry had left to go searching for Malfoy. According to Ginny (who was well aware of what Ron and Harry were doing, much to Hermione’s relief) they were going on holiday together before settling into more serious studies are Aurors. It was a weak cover up at best, but it would have to do.

Hermione was thankful when on the second week of their departure, she received a small note on the leg of a familiar owl as it came sailing into her room.

“Hello there,” she said to the grey creature, pushing Crookshanks’ bowl of water towards it. The owl lapped it up happily, seeming to collect itself and then went sailing back out the window of the dormitory. With trembling fingers she opened the parchment, reading speedily.

Hermione,

Sorry we don’t have much time to write. Me and Harry are quite busy interviewing people and going from place to place. We’ve traveled quite far and our leads have mostly ended up dead. There is one woman we’re to meet in Wales tomorrow. She reported to the Aurors there something suspicious she’d seen. Hopefully it won’t be a waste. At this rate we’ll end up in the Americas before we find that horrid little ferret.

I hope things are good back home. Harry’s writing a love letter to Ginny  as I write this so I expect she’ll be pleased.

If you could make sure to keep a watch out for her and my parents, I’d appreciate it. Hope that studying for N.E.W.T.s is just as fun as you’d remembered (ha ha). I have to admit that being away from your studying timetables gives me a bit more joy than it should.

I don’t know if I can write again – Harry is concerned that we’re leaving ourselves open to having our post intercepted so this may be the last you hear from me for a while.  

Take care,

Ron

She had been so delighted to get that note that she hadn’t even minded when Flitwick chastised her for humming to herself during his class later that day.

But Ron’s letter didn’t stop her from opening the Daily Prophet every morning in hopes of seeing something that would help them. Some clue that may assist them. Malfoy still stood at Enemy No 1,  but so far nothing new of interest had popped up – if anything the Prophet had moved on from Harry Potter and was now focusing its attentions on Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Does our new Minister have our best interests at heart? An exclusive interview by Rita Skeeter.

Hermione rolled her eyes, not bothering with the trash Rita Skeeter was putting out. She pulled out the Quibbler instead, scanning its articles and finding it much the same in its aid for Harry. She frowned before taking another sip of tea and placing the newspapers in her book bag.

***

Up at the Head Table, Snape watched as Miss Granger read her papers hungrily, devouring every printed word. She seemed lost in her own little world, not even responding when Longbottom attempted to speak to her.

When she finally did look up at Neville she looked tired and wan. It wasn’t surprising – rumor around the staff room was that Potter and Weasley had taken off to retrieve the Malfoy boy.  He wanted to laugh at their bombastic efforts – always needing to be heroes. No doubt the girl was pining for her lost love. He did his best to contain his sneer as he recalled Miss Granger and Mister Weasley dancing at the Awards Ceremony. They had practically been melded together. It had been nauseating.

He turned his attention back to his meal, poking at the sausages listlessly. He was exhausted himself, having had to mark all his first year’s essays. He had been putting it off in hopes that they would magically mark themselves, he supposed.

Thank Merlin Christmas holidays were approaching quickly.  A glance out the large window to his left showed that the landscape of Hogwarts was blanketed in a sheet of deep snow. The Lake was frozen solid and he wondered how Lola was faring. Occasionally she broke through the sheet of ice – desperate for attention from staff and student alike.

 It was a Friday, and Alice was gone to some conference which meant he had an entire weekend to himself to do as he pleased. And he was pleased to do absolutely nothing. Alice had asked him to come but he’d deferred. He had done quite a bit for the woman in the last little bit – including being humiliated by accepting an Order of Merlin, Second Class, in front of everyone.

The room had come to their feet and clapped loudly when his name was announced. He had taken to the stage alongside the other winners and raised a brow at the crowd.

You weren’t clapping for me a year ago. You weren’t highlighting my talent when I was young. You thought I was rubbish. Evil. Worthless. Your adulation means nothing.

He contained the sneer directed at the crowd and let his eyes fall on the brunette near the back. Although he could still detect the redness of the Granger girl’s eyes when he scanned the room she clapped loudly. She was standing next to the Weasley boy who was whistling merrily as his parents took the stage after Snape. Alice was in the crowd near the front, clapping so enthusiastically he worried she’d break her hands.

He had been good and ready to sneer at Kingsley when he was awarded the ghastly purple ribbon. He’d even prepared a withering comment directed at the Minister for putting this spectacle on.

However, as the ribbon became affixed to his chest and Kingsley spoke in a quiet tone: “You saved the Wizarding World. You deserve more than a ribbon and galleons” Snape felt himself lose all resolve. It had finally happened – he had done right by Lily. He had saved Potter. And along the way he had become a hero of sorts.

Having the purple ribbon affixed to his chest by Kingsley felt… Well, it felt good. It felt good that they were thanking him for all his hard work. He couldn’t deny that. Seeing the sea of faces, many streaked with thankful tears did make him feel appreciated. Even if minutes later he reminded himself that they would do the same for any Ministry puppet Shacklebolt had brought up on stage. But for a moment he felt the impossibly warm feeling of being appreciated.

 It was safely in his rooms, in a small walnut chest that Alice had thoughtfully bought for him. He had to admit that she did seem to have his best interest at heart. She may go about it in a strange way, but Snape couldn’t deny that she cared for him. So the evening, while tedious, hadn’t been the worst of his memories.

And the thousand galleons he’d been awarded didn’t hurt either.

***

"Incorrect, as usual Mister Fenton," Snape hissed at the first year boy in of him.  “Five points from Hufflepuff for coming to class so woefully underprepared.”

The student sputtered an incomprehensible reply while turning beet red. It was a response that was far too familiar for the dark Potion’s Master.

Splendid, Snape thought sourly, looking at the boy. Just what the world needs - another Longbottom.

Even with his war hero status firmly showcased in the Daily Prophet Severus Snape was terrifying. Because of all his spying being known he was even more fearsome. This was a man that had been Voldemort’s right-hand-man.

Despite knowing that he had been on the right side the whole time, there was still unpredictability about Snape. A quiet intensity that seemed to radiate from within him. The last few months he had gotten worse – he more ill tempered than ever before. But for what reason? Voldemort was dead! He was a hero! Then why be such a git?

"Now," Snape said, his hooded eyes taking in the full classroom of nervous students around him. "Who can tell me the correct ingredients to a simple boil cure potion? Hmmm?"

Suddenly there was a small rap at the door. Snape faltered as he glanced at the door, squinting and glaring at it as if it were animate and had personally offended him.

"Enter," came his waspish response. The students had their gaze on the door, waiting to see who had the gall to knock during one of Snape's lessons.  It would have to be someone of daring. Someone brave. Someone not afraid to come face to face with death-

"Longbottom."

 Snape sneered as the young man came into the room, bumbling and clumsy as usual. Snape swooped over to the young man, still a bit gangly, but no worse for the wear. His spots were almost all gone, his hair shorter, his nails cleaner, his teeth straighter, his posture still a bit slumped as he approached.

 "I thought I finished with you years ago."

"You did sir," Neville said shakily, giving a glance around him as if expecting some sort of companion. Snape looked disgustedly to the young man, thanking heavens he'd only had to put up with him until his sixth year. It wouldn’t matter that Neville Longbottom had killed Nagini – he would forever be the biggest dunderhead he’d ever had the displeasure of teaching.

"Well, what do you want?" Snape finally said, watching the quivering boy give a terse glance around the room before meeting the sinister Professor's eyes, ducking his head a bit.

"Professor McGonagall wanted us to come and-"

"Spit it out boy," Snape warned, giving a swooping motion around the classroom. "I have a class of dunderheads to teach."

Neville glanced at the wide-eyed students staring at him. He straightened, suddenly remember that he was part of the reason Voldemort was dead! Why was this big-nosed git still acting like he was still his forever boggart? But even as he thought this, Snape’s raven gaze pierced him. 

"Well, Professor McGonagall is teaching us today and she wanted us to come by and borrow some materials for class," Neville managed to get out without stuttering and holding out a small list to Snape. "You see we have to transform-"

"Us?" Snape scoffed lightly, ignoring the boy's paper and responding with an oily smirk. "I see only one of you."

"Oh," Neville said perturbed. "Hermione'll be here in a minute. She's just getting the other list."

If anyone had been paying close attention to the Professor (and no one was), they might have noticed the sudden drop of the smirk he'd had, or the creeping worry in his eyes that flickered there a mere moment at the mention of the girl's name. Then it was gone.

Before Neville could say anything more, Snape had turned his gaze back onto the class.

"To your textbooks this instant," Snape said darkly, his gaze sweeping around the classroom. "Chapter 3, pages 39 to 44 and read. And if I hear one word - just one, it will be fifty points from every house. Begin."

Immediately twenty textbooks were thrown open, and student after student began their fervent reading of the said chapter. Snape turned his attention back to Neville, uncrossing his arms in a flourish to grasp the paper from the boy's hands. He scanned it with his dark eyes a moment before instructing Neville to remain where he was. The boy looked relieved.

Snape made his way to his ingredients room, glancing over his shoulder to make sure his students were still being productive. They were. Such attentive little sheep. Sneering he made his way into the small spicy ingredients room, glancing at the list and shaking his head. He'd be having a word with Minerva. Interrupting his classes for supplies. Did he command such little respect?

Absently he smoothed down his hair. A habit he'd been slipping into lately and one he was starting to loathe. It made him appear as if he actually cared about his appearance. No matter. Grasping a small wooden box from a nearby shelf, he placed the several ingredients into it, making sure they wouldn't tilt or easily fall. He fully intended on being calm when she came in. She was just a student after all.

Just a student that I was in love with. Just a student that I shagged when I was a teenager. Just a student that I can’t stop thinking about.

He had gone to great lengths to resolutely ignore her. At every moment in classes with her he ensured she was ignored.  In the corridor he strode past her without even a glance, even as he felt her gaze on him. At meals he ensured that he was deep in conversation with the staff or looking at his plate. He didn’t dare glance up, for fear of catching her gaze.

But now, knowing that she would be entering into his space and that he’d have to interact with her? He felt strange. As if his entire body were electric and the frisson of the moment overwhelming him. He took a few deep breaths before plucking the appropriate vials from the list.

He came out of the ingredients room in enough time to see her walk into the classroom, her eyes scanning the room and smiling widely at any student who happened to look up. It was as if she were trying to soothe them over the trauma that was inherent in taking a Snape class.

It was as if for a moment he could only see and hear her. The rest of the world fell away as he drank her in. The way she stood confidently and yet with such vulnerability showcased in her dark eyes. The way one foot always tapped impatiently when she was waiting for something.  And then the sound of the real world overtook him and the spell was broken. He glided over towards she and Longbottom.

"Here," Snape said, handing the boy the supplies and noticing that his tone had turned softer. "Try not to drop anything Longbottom, if that's possible."

Neville gave a small nod before scurrying out of classroom, not bothering to thank him or look back as he did so. A moment later when Snape hadn't heard the slight tinkling of shattered glass he deemed it safe to look to her.

Hermione.

She stood there defiantly, as if knowing what to expect. Humiliation. He would say it pained him for her to think like that, but in admitting even that would mean he cared for her at all. More than any other student. This was not part of the agreement he’d made with himself.

Already he felt the thrum of his heart, distracting him a moment. He viewed her eyes, already dropped to the floor in submission. Already uncomfortable with her presence and now recalling where they were standing he felt his spine grow rigid.

"Why did the Professor need two of you to come and inconvenience me?" Snape inquired haughtily. "During one of my lectures of all times?"

"I apologize sir.” Her tone was polite and stilted. “She didn’t want to bother you, but she’s covering for the new Transfiguration teacher. She explained it all in this note.”

It had been several months since he’d viewed the memories of his younger self in the Pensieve. Several months since he’d touched the bare skin of her abdomen.  And one singular week since he’d talked with her on the balcony at the Awards ceremony before being interrupted by Alice.

Seeing her in the corridors and in his classroom these last few days had been hard. She hadn’t even had Weasley over – perhaps there was trouble in paradise? Not that it was any of his business outside of the Potions' classroom. It wasn't. He was her Professor - a teacher, an advisor. That was it. That was where their 'relationship' (and he used the term loosely) ended.

She no longer raised her hand in his class. No longer acted the brainy know-it-all. Her marks were still exemplary and she had merely taken up saying; "What's the point in answering questions in his class? He never gives points to Gryffindor" to those who inquired about her sudden lack of scholarly intensity in his classes.

But now she was standing so close to him that he could see the tick of her pulse in her neck.  So close he could see the slight, focused purse of her lips. It brought back a mixture of emotions within him that he wished would remain dormant.

"I suppose in order to carry all of the supplies she thought sending the two of us would be better," Hermione finally said with a slight shrug of her shoulders, her eyes still at his shoes. He internally longed for her to look at him as she continued. "Since that policy about using magic in the halls-"

"Indeed," Snape said lowly, seeing the parchment in her shaky hand. He yearned for her to calm. To stop her inner worry and panic. He didn't want to panic her. He just simply couldn't be with her. It would be unethical. Shagging one of them in his classroom didn't seem exactly good or honorable. Although the image didn't help the situation one bit.

"Miss Granger-" he suddenly said sharply, watching as she slowly dragged her eyes to his face, which was precisely the effect he'd been hoping for. He allowed himself the barest of moments to take in the color and feel of her eyes before breaking away and holding out his hand. "The list."

Hermione held the bottom of the parchment, watching as two long and elegant looking digits of his placed themselves on either side of the top of the page. He suddenly snatched it away from her. Her eyes were still on his face.

"Wait here,” he muttered lowly, glancing one last time at her face before turning his back on her. She watched his long, dark back slipping into the ingredients room before she let out a small sigh. A ripple of desire swept through her as he left her.

He'd been so close she could detect that familiar herbal, soapy scent that seemed embedded in him. A scent that triggered something in her mind that made her perpetually perceptive to him. The low reverberating of his voice, the delicate way his hands moved, the sweeping way his eyes searched her face, the gliding way he moved from place to-

"Enough,” she muttered to herself, ignoring the looks she was getting from nearby students who'd dared to look up from their books. She needed to stop.

Passing in halls, noting his resolute ignoring of her during meals and in classes. She was actually counting down the days until her Christmas break. A few weeks away from Hogwarts were exactly what she needed right now. A Snape-less break. She needed to breathe.

She had been convinced that somehow something would have clicked. That he would have understood the depth of her feeling for him when he viewed the memories. The way that they had connected when he was young. But no flicker of realization crossed his features. She knew he had viewed the memories, which meant that he knew of their affection for one another. And yet he still chose to walk away with Alice that evening.

Was he just denying it all? Perhaps from his perspective it had all been a manipulation. Perhaps she had fooled herself into thinking that he truly cared? The thought stabbed her heart with an icy point.

No. That wasn’t a possibility – Severus never would have tried to help her if that were the case. She sighed softly, her mind going to the young Severus and his soft lips.

Snape returned, looking decidedly uncomfortable. He was carrying a small wooden box of vials and ingredients. The list she'd given him was wedged in-between the few bottles. She thought she caught him casting a lingering look at her, but decided in the end it was her own overwhelming desire for him to do so.

"Here," Snape said gruffly, motioning for Hermione to take the box from him. Hermione gulped a moment, her breath coming out shallowly. It always happened when she was close to him like this. She hated herself for being so weak. She tingled all over.

Slowly, tentatively she took the box from him, not expecting Snape's fingertips to meet her own during the transport of items. It came as a shock when she grasped the large box, feeling Snape's long fingers brushing her hand in the process. It was undoubtedly an accident, but it made something in Hermione jolt, causing her to flinch as electricity shot through her fingertips down through to her lower belly.

She also wasn't expecting the weight of the box, as she had - at Snape's unsuspected contact- gone completely weak in the arms as well as the knees. And in what seemed to be a slow motion flurry of items falling to the floor, it had been much more rapid. The entire box and its contents spilled to the floor, leaving all the students staring at the mess at the front of the room in horror.

"Oh no," Hermione breathed, her eyes filling with tears as she viewed the mess, refusing to see Snape’s furious eyes. "I'm so sorry sir."

I never should have touched her, Snape thought angrily to himself as she dropped to her knees, picking up the items that were large enough to be plucked. He had tried to stop himself, but the lure of her was too much, and he'd gone and brushed his fingertips along her hand, feeling the satiny feel of her smooth and familiar skin.

Weak. He was repulsed with himself. How could he act in such a fashion? He was a grown man for Merlin’s sake.  He hated himself for it.

"Stand, Miss Granger," he ordered silkily, watching as her misty brown eyes turned skyward, capturing his own a moment before she stood shakily, brushing the remnants of dirt from her robes.

"I'm sorry sir," she intoned once more, folding her arms in front of her waist, looking at the mess she'd created. She was going to get it now. The students were silently gaping. Before Snape said anything to Hermione, his head whipped about to face the students.

"Did I tell you to stop reading?" he barked. The students jerked their eyes back to their texts, their ears waiting for the punishment, perverse curiosity winning over fear for the moment.

Hermione's waited for her punishment, her body almost shaking at the anticipated silence.  Her months of detention with Filch had been tiring to say the least.  Like any good student she was punctual, pleasant and worked hard. Filch had tried to give her disgusting jobs only to have her do them without complaint quickly and efficiently.  Soon Filch seemed to be bored of her constant presence, often sending her back to the dormitory claiming that he had no more work for her.

But now what would happen? More detention? With whom? It would reflect poorly if she tried to get references from Minerva. She needed a cleaner record than the one she already had. She could only hope that Snape would take pity on her today. Her dark brown eyes made their way up the regal, pale throat of Professor Snape until she met his face. She was surprised to see the tender humanity there reflecting back to her.

"There was no real harm done," Snape stated simply, bringing out his wand slowly. A student in the back whispered what she had immediately been thinking.

"I thought there wasn't supposed to be any foolish wand waving in this class?"

"That'll be thirty points from Ravenclaw, Mister Brighton," Snape said lazily, his eyes still trained on Hermione. She felt her cheeks prickling, and before she could say anything, he tore his gaze to the clutter at his feet.

There was a