A few days later it was time to add the next ingredient to the potion. Everything had gone well during the past few days and the potion seemed stable. Everything was how it was supposed to be, but Hermione was nervous. Every time she had to add another set of ingredients, there was a possibility of disaster. She had exploded countless cauldrons when she developed the current salve and every failure affected her self confidence. She knew it was a part of research, but she hated to fail. And to possibly fail in front of Severus made it even worse.
”Relax Hermione. You either succeed or we start all over.” He calmed her.
”I know. But failing means so much more work. And it means I need to suffer from these scars for so much longer,” She huffed.
”We will find a cure for you. If it is not this one, it will be the next one. The point is not to give up.”
Hermione nodded and took the next ingredient from the table. Normally at that point the potion would turn thicker and start to smell stronger. They expected it to happen again but the reaction should be stronger.
She added the powder to the cauldron and took a step back. She took her wand and prepared herself for the worst. Seconds turned into minutes and still nothing happened. Hermione took a cautious step towards the cauldron and peered in
Something had happened. There was a thick clump on the bottom of the cauldron. She took her glass rod and carefully poked the clump. The wand sank into the clump and when she pulled it back, there was a string of the substance attached to it.
”I believe this was not our goal. It’s ruined.” She sighed sadly.
Severus came closer and poked the clump with his wand. ”Examinado substantus.” He whispered and a white string appeared from his wand and touched the clump.
Hermione saw several shades of green, blue and purple glowing on the surface of the string. She looked at Severus and saw he was extremely concentrated. Mutliple emotions flashed on his face while he studied the response his magic gave him.
”It is not harmful," he said as he finally pulled his wand away and the string faded.
”…But?" Hermione asked.
”It is impossible to say without trying.”
Hermione shivered and let out involuntary sigh. Severus looked at her frowning and saw she was extremely uncomfortable.
”Please don’t tell me you used yourself as a test subject?" he asked and pulled her chin up so she would look him straight into eyes.
”You are one of several people in the world who knows about my condition. Before I came here there were only few of them. So no. I did not have anyone to help me with testing.” She admitted.
”You should have at least tried them on those two dunderheads instead of yourself.”
”They don’t know.”
His eyebrows flew up in surprise. ”The golden duo do not know about your scars?”
”No. Everyone think that we are so close that we share everything but that is not true. Yes, I love them both very much, but they are not the kind of people I feel comfortable to share things like this.” She explained. ”We grew up together but after the war and school, we kind of separated. I still write to them and see them as often we all have time, but these past years we just didn’t have much free time.”
Hermione walked past him to wash the glass rod to get away from his intense stare.
”So yes, I tried them on myself with variable outcomes. And I can assure you not all of them were pleasant.” She ended her explanation with siur grimance.
All the memories from blisters and burns came rushing back. She had almost quit several times when she developed her salve when the wrong potions caused her more pain than she already had. Not to mention her desperate explanations to the school nurses why she had strange blisters and cuts all over her hands every now and then.
”You will not try these on yourself anymore, you hear me?” Severus stated. ”Ever. Again.”
”Fine with me. Though who will be the happy subject? Too bad Molly killed Bellatrix, I’d love to try these on her. I wouldn’t bother to fail few times if I had a chance to burn her skin off few times.”
”Burn off skin…?” Severus asked and gave her a stern look.
”Test number twenty-seven. Turned out luna moth wings have a burning effect if combined with shark tooth powder.” Hermione replied and subconciously rubbed her palm with her thumb.
He took her hand and looked at her palm. Hermione had healed all scars when she finished the current salve so there was nothing to see.
”If I had been your supervisor at that school…” He murmured.
”You what?” She grinned mischievously to lighten the mood. ”Given me a detention? Hmm… I think I would have liked that.” She continued with lower tone.
His eyebrows flew up. He lift his head, looked at her in the eyes and began smile a half smile. Damn he looked sexy when he smiled! He let her hand fall and took a step closer. ”I could give you detention retroactively.”
”Don’t you have enough students to scrub your cauldrons?” She teased.
”Plenty enough. I had other things in my mind…” He murmured and leaned to kiss her. Hermione sighed and leaned closer to deepen the kiss. At that moment she was unable to remember the just completed experiment and the result was waiting for testing.
All she could think of was his passionate kisses and his hands that started to caress her body. His light touch on her sides sent pleasurable jolts through her body and she yearned for more. Her own hands seemed to have a mind of their own as she became aware they had begun to caress his abdomen. Suddenly things were progressing a little too fast. Hermione wasn’t sure if she was ready to move on to next level with him just yet.
Severus noticed immediately her mood change. He stilled his movements and lightened the kiss. ”We are in no rush Hermione.”
”I.. I know. I just…” She begun to babble but Severus interrupted her by kissing her once more. ”You are not ready yet. I know. And I don’t expect anything. But don’t expect me to be able to keep my hands off you completely.”
”I don’t want you to keep your hands off me. Quite the opposite. I’m just insecure because of my past,” She explained as she subconciously brushed her abdomen.
”There’s nothing to be insecure about. We all have our scars, some more visible than others. But now we have other business that requires our attention. We need to test this experiment. I’ll contact my colleague. He has an excellent way to test potions,” Severus told her and turned back to look at the cauldron.
Hermiome smiled at his back. Who would have guessed he could be so compassionate and understanding.
”How soon can we begin testing?”
”What is it?” Hermione asked and poked the strange-looking clump.
”It is a fake skin. My colleague created these so people can test their potions. There are also different types of tissues to test drinkable potions and their effects.”
”Had I known about these…” Hermione sighed.
”I won’t even begin to scold you about the mistakes you made back then. It would take ages. Now we will make things as they are supposed to be made.”
Severus placed the fake skin on one table and flattened it on the surface. To Hermione it looked like skin-colored styling wax, but there was something strange about it. It seemed like it was actually alive.
”Now. This clump acts as real human skin. If you cut it, it will bleed and in time the wound will close.”
Hermione stroke the ”skin” in awe. How her life would have been easier if she had this back at school. It would have saved her from so much pain. It felt like real skin though it was cooler than normal body temperature.
”So. First we test your old salve to see what reaction it causes so we can compare it to the new solution,” Severus said and made one cut to the clump which started to bleed.
Hermione took her salve and applied it to the wound. They both watched carefully how the wound reacted and Hermione made notes. The fake skin reacted like her own skin so they assumed the results from the new experiment were reliable.
”Ok. Moment of truth. I’ll make a cut and you apply the new substance to it.”
With shivering hands Hermione took a small portion of the new salve onto a stirring rod and applied it to the cut. She held her breath as she watched how the wound closed even faster than the first one.
”It worked!” She gasped.
”So it seems,” Severus murmured.
Hermione let out excited squeek and turned to hug him tightly. ”Oh my god it really works!”