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Saving Severus Snape by Unicorn_Charm

Format: Novel
Chapters: 28
Word Count: 108,465
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme, Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Hermione, Dumbledore, Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Hermione/OC, Snape/OC

First Published: 11/12/2014
Last Chapter: 10/12/2017
Last Updated: 10/12/2017

Summary:
Perfect Banner by LightLeviosa5443@tda
**2017 Dobby WINNER for Best AU.**
HPFT 2017 FROGs WINNER for Best Novel
HPFT Slytherin SotM - July 2016
HPFT My Father Will Hear About These Awards 2017 - Best Chaptered Fic




Hermione's Plan: Travel back in time and show Severus Snape that he does have a life worth fighting for.

Not Hermione's Plan: Fall in love with him.


Chapter 1: i.
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Chapter Image by TreacleTart@TDA


 

***
2nd May 1998 - 10:30am

Twenty-eight hours - could that have been right? It felt like days - since she had last slept. In the last twenty-eight hours, she had broken into Gringotts - disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange - escaped on a dragon, fought a battle the likes of her kind had never seen, and witnessed more death and devastation than anyone - especially any eighteen-year-old – should have ever experienced. By all rights, she should had been exhausted. But she wasn't. It was a few hours since Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter left Dumbledore's office for the comfort of their four-poster beds, in the Gryffindor dorms. They begged her to follow, yet for some reason, she could not bring herself to leave. There was something Hermione Granger had felt was just... wrong. There was something that happened, in the early hours of the morning, she felt was not meant to be. Of course all of those who had lost their lives really should not have, but there was one death, that deep down in her gut, she knew should not have been.

Hermione paced in front of Professor Dumbledore's desk - well, technically, she supposed, it was Professor Snape's. The sun was shining through the windows and, since the sounds of battle have ceased, it was eerily quiet. Her brow furrowed as she spoke to herself aloud.

"It should not have been like this," she whispered. "It was unnecessary. All because..." She trailed off.

She continued trekking back and forth in the complete silence. All of the previous Headmasters and Headmistresses had left their portraits, the better to see what was going on throughout the rest of the castle. The only occupant which remained was Dumbledore, who was apparently sleeping in his frame.

After Harry had repaired his wand, and spoke to Dumbledore's portrait, he explained everything to her and Ron. They knew about the Resurrection Stone, Harry being the unintentional Horcrux and Professor Snape truly being on their side. Even though Hermione was surprised by all of the information, in a way, she wasn't. She had had an idea about Harry, since he was so easily able to look into Voldemort's mind, all of this time. The fact that the Hallows truly did exist, and the stone was in the Snitch Dumbledore had given Harry, was the biggest shock of them all. But Snape... She had had a feeling, all along, that maybe he really was working for The Order. Why else would Dumbledore have trusted him so completely? Obviously, she had never spoken her suspicions out loud. Ron would have thought she was mental, and Harry would have been sure to never speak to her again, let alone allow her come with him on his hunt for Horcruxes. And it was Professor Snape's death that she felt had been so wrong.

"He had killed Dumbledore, by Dumbledore's own request," she began speaking to herself again. "Therefore, the wand never really was his, just as Harry had said. He should not have been killed."

If there was just a way that she could have stopped it from happening... What could she have done to change things and make sure he did not meet the same fate? Obviously a Time-Turner was definitely off the table, as they had all been destroyed, so how could she possibly prevent it?

"His life had been so tragic," she sighed. "The man truly did not know happiness - which is dreadful. Maybe that is the reason he did not even attempt to stop his death from happening? He just - he just let Voldemort kill him. After everything that he has done, and has sacrificed, he - more than most - deserves to live. To live and to be happy."

Just at that moment, almost in response to her musings, a drawer opened next to where Dumbledore kept his Pensieve. Hermione's head turned towards the noise and she saw a box that levitated out of it. Curiously, she walked over and grabbed it out of midair.

"What in the world...?" she wondered.

She quickly rushed over to the desk and opened the box. Upon seeing the contents inside, she gasped in shock. "Oh my!" Laying in front of her was a Time-Turner, an envelope and a folded up piece of parchment. As her hand shook slightly, she reached in and picked up the envelope first. Written on the front in purple ink, the handwriting slanted, it read, "A.P.W.B.D." She looked at the initials, not having any idea what they meant and noticed the yellow discoloration of the paper; the envelope was very old. She flipped it over and saw it was sealed in purple wax - the Hogwarts coat of arms. After slowly placing it back in the box and still wondered what all of this could possibly be about, she picked up the - also yellowed with age - piece of parchment. She unfolded it carefully with a trembling hand.


Dear Miss Granger,

If you are reading this, then it is time. As you by now should have noticed,
there is a Time-Turner, which lies in front of you. It has been set
accordingly for you to begin your journey. If you would, please, give
the envelope - also is contained within - to myself once you arrive.
All will make sense to you shortly, I am sure.

Most sincerely,
Professor Albus Dumbledore


Hermione had to read the letter over once more, due to the fact that her hands trembled so badly, she could hardly make out the words after she had read, "Time-Turner."

"The box appeared after I mentioned wanting to save Professor Snape. Is that - is that what I'm meant to do?" She looked desperately at the portrait of Professor Dumbledore, hoping he would give her some answers. "Sir, please. Is that the meaning of all of this?" she pleaded. No sound came from his portrait, save for a soft snore. Yet, Hermione could have sworn she saw the corners of his mouth turn up in a slight smile. Truly she did not need Dumbledore to respond, for deep down, she knew what she had to do.

With her heart pounding ferociously, she looked towards the door and then back at the golden necklace which, for an innocent-looking object, appeared so frightening to her in that moment. She sat down in a chair in front of the desk and put her head in her hands.

"Do I go? And if I do, do I tell the boys where I'm going?" she wondered out loud. "No." She shook her head. "They'll only try to stop me. Or worse, attempt to come with me. This would be something I’d have to do on my own. I could not lead them into any more possible danger."

Hermione sat and truly thought this through. She did not have any idea as to what time period this Time-Turner would take her to. She did not know where she would end up, once she used it.

Is it worth it? she thought. Should I use this? I have no doubt that Professor Dumbledore sent this… but why? If I am correct, and it does have something to do with Professor Snape, is he really worth possibly putting my life on the line for?

Hermione twisted the golden chain around her fingers as she worked out the reasons she should do this.

He should have attempted to save himself, and he just did not. Maybe if I go back and just show him that he truly is not a horrible person. That he will, one day, be a true hero. Maybe he would fight. Fight to live. This man put his life on the line, for many, many years, all for the benefit of the Wizarding World. He was forced to kill, what I am sure, was the only man he truly considered a friend. Voldemort could have found him out at any moment and ended his life without a second thought. Surely a man who has sacrificed love, friendship, family – and a bit of himself along the way - in the line of duty, deserves a second chance. A chance to live. Not just to breathe, pump blood through his veins and exist, but truly live. And if there is even a chance that by using this Time-Turner, I could achieve that, then I must use it.

And with her decision made, Hermione stood up. She took a deep breath, three steps towards the desk, reached for the envelope, then placed the Time-Turner around her neck. Her heartbeat reached an alarmingly dangerous rate, sweat formed on her brow, and her legs were shaking. As she activated the Time-Turner, the last thing she saw, before the room around her began to spin, was the portrait of Professor Dumbledore wink at her. 

Hermione soon found herself thrown to the ground, and judging by the rug near her face, she was still in Dumbledore's office. Or, once again, in his office. Quickly, she stood up - which was not the best idea. She began to feel woozy, swayed on her feet and attempted to keep down the vomit that was threatening to explode out of her. Her eyes were out of focus, so she heard his voice before she really saw him.

"Dear girl, what has happened to you and how did you come to appear in my office?" Dumbledore asked calmly as he stood up from his chair.

Hermione completely forgot that she was still covered in blood, dirt and wearing torn clothing, and could only imagine what Dumbledore must have thought, despite the tone of his voice. She could not believe she had been so foolish not to wash up and change her clothes. Self-consciously, she looked down at herself and attempted to straighten out her shirt when she noticed the envelope clenched in her hand.

"I'm - I'm not quite sure what is going on, actually," she admitted a bit weakly.

As her eyes finally focused, she saw a much younger Dumbledore in front of her. Although his hair was still long and silver, his face was much less lined and slight hints of auburn could still be seen in his beard. She watched Dumbledore's eyes take in her disheveled appearance as she walked closer to his desk. He looked concerned for her, but also a bit confused - which was certainly something she had never seen before.

"I was told to give this to you," she said and placed the envelope on his desk.

Dumbledore's eyes rested on the Time-Turner around Hermione's neck as he picked up what she had laid in front of him. He glanced down at the initials, which Hermione still did not quite understand, and his eyes twinkled.

"I see. Now this is becoming clearer," he whispered as he tore the seal and pulled out the parchment within.

Hermione kept her eyes on Dumbledore and was becoming more nervous with each moment that passed. "Sir, I'm still not quite sure where, er - I mean, when I am," she said as Dumbledore read the letter.

Looking up, he smiled at her kindly. "Well, Miss Granger, I know you are aware that you are at Hogwarts." Hermione nodded. "As for when," Dumbledore continued, "you have traveled to the 30th of August, 1976."

That was all that Hermione could bear. The thought of being sent back twenty-two years was enough to make her knees go weak. She did not anticipate traveling so far into the past. The vomit she attempted to keep down came flowing out, all over Dumbledore's floor. The room seemed as if it were closing in around her and it began to look like she was seeing Dumbledore from the end of a long tunnel. There was a ringing in her ears as she felt herself begin to fall; everything went dark.

Chapter 2: ii.
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Chapter Image by TreacleTart@TDA


***

31st August 1976


Hermione came to slowly. Her throat felt very sore and her body was stiff. What in the – Where am I? Hermione wondered. First, she realized she was far too comfortable to still be lying on the floor in Dumbledore’s office. The soft, feather-filled fabric, on which her head rested, the firm mattress underneath her, and smooth sheets that kept her warm, told her that she was in a bed. The next things she noticed were the sterile smell of disinfectant products and the pungent odor of healing potions. After that, she found - upon trying to do so - that she was able to wiggle her fingers and shift her position slightly. Then, finally, she heard voices.

“Albus, I expect the girl – your niece, correct? – will open her eyes at any moment, as she is stirring for the first time in hours,” Hermione heard Madam Pomfrey say.

Why am I in the hospital wing? And why is Dumbledore here? More importantly, why does Madam Pomfrey not know who I am and think I’m his niece? I was just in – Oh Merlin! That’s right! I’m – I’m… in the past. I traveled back to when Harry’s parents attended Hogwarts! How am I going to deal with seeing them? And Sirius! And Lupin! And, holy cow, Professor Snape, as a teenager! What was I thinking, doing this?

Once again, Hermione began to panic. Her breath came out in choked sobs. Tears streamed from her eyes as she realized the gravity of her situation and how alone she felt without Harry and Ron by her side. She opened her eyes, sat up quickly, and saw the concerned faces of Professor Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey looking back at her. The sight of a twenty-two-year-younger Madam Pomfrey, standing in the setting sunlight that poured through the window, stunned Hermione to silence. Hermione continued to stare at her with wide, wet eyes.

“Poppy, perhaps a calming draught for Hermione?” Dumbledore suggested quietly.

“Of course, Albus,” she responded and hurried away, her chestnut-brown hair escaping from her bonnet.

Hermione wiped her eyes with the back of her hands and spoke quietly.

“Professor, what is – “

Dumbledore held his hand up to stop her. “Now is not the time, Miss Granger,” he said quickly and glanced back towards Madam Pomfrey.

Hermione knew what Dumbledore implied. He did not wish to speak of where she had come from, or why she was here, in front of anyone. Which is why he must have begun to tell the staff that she was his niece.

She nodded softly. “I understand, sir.”

At that moment, Madam Pomfrey rushed back to Hermione, carrying a small glass that she handed to her. Hermione took it and gave Madam Pomfrey an apologetic smile. She downed the peppermint-flavored liquid in one gulp, and immediately felt the effects of the calming draught; warmth spread slowly throughout her body. Her heart rate slowed, her shoulders lost the tension they held, and her fist – which she didn’t realize she was clenching – relaxed as well. She was lucky she had her head turned away when she placed the empty cup on the bedside table, as Madam Pomfrey spoke to her.

“Miss Devereux, feeling better now?” she asked.

Hermione jolted slightly upon hearing the foreign name and realized it must have been an alias that Dumbledore took upon himself to give her, while she was in the past.

Her eyes skimmed past Dumbledore – yet she caught him nodding subtly – and rested on Madam Pomfrey’s wrinkle-free face.

“Y-Yes. Much better now. Thank you,” Hermione hoarsely whispered.

“Well," Madam Pomfrey began briskly, “I’ve cleaned and healed most of the injuries you sustained from The Whomping Willow –”

“The what?” Hermione’s brow furrowed. She knew she had been nowhere near that tree.

Madam Pomfrey fixed Hermione with a piercing glare as Dumbledore cleared his throat.

“The tree in the grounds, which you unfortunately came into contact with. I must admit, it was foolish of me not to warn you of it before you arrived. I never dreamed you would have been anywhere near it,” Dumbledore said with such sincerity that for a moment, Hermione almost believed she had had a run-in with it.

“Oh, yes. That. Well… I – I had no idea such a tree existed. I now know never to go near the – Whomping Willow, you called it? – again,” Hermione quickly recovered, which earned a satisfied grin from Dumbledore and a snort from Madam Pomfrey.

Hermione thought that she really needed to get out of the Hospital Wing and speak to Dumbledore on her own. Obviously he had covered for her quite a bit, and seemed to have created a backstory for her that she must learn immediately. Before she slipped up any more tonight.

As if he read her thoughts, Dumbledore turned to Madam Pomfrey.

“Poppy, it seems that Hermione is feeling quite better. I think it would be safe to say she may be excused from the Hospital Wing? She still requires sorting and – I am sure – would like to become settled in her dormitory.”

After Madam Pomfrey checked Hermione over with her wand and seemed satisfied with the results, she agreed that Hermione may leave. Needless to say, Hermione was extremely relieved.

“Of course, Albus,” Madam Pomfrey said.

Hermione was stunned. Normally it took a lot more than that for Madam Pomfrey to release a student from her care.

She looked at Hermione and added, “Miss Devereux, if you should find yourself feeling faint, or have any severe headaches come on, I insist you come back immediately.”

As Hermione agreed that she would come back if she began feeling ill again, she recognized a bit of the Madam Pomfrey she would come to know in the future. Her lips were set in a thin line and her brow was furrowed; she meant business.

“Hermione?” Dumbledore gestured towards the door and indicated he would wish for her to join him.

She felt it a bit odd to be referred to as Hermione, by Professor Dumbledore. But if they were to pretend they were related, it would be a bit peculiar for him to call her, Miss Devereux – she had no idea where he had come up with that surname.

Hermione swung her legs over the side of the bed and slid off the end slowly. As she placed her feet on the ground she swayed on the spot, still a bit off-balance. Dumbledore grabbed her by the elbow to help her remain steady, and Madam Pomfrey looked like she was ready to order Hermione back to bed. She mumbled a thank you to Dumbledore, slipped on her shoes, and looked down at her clothing. She gasped out loud. They were perfectly intact! She assumed Dumbledore must have syphoned off the blood, dirt and vomit from them, and had repaired the holes she had gained in the battle.

“Are you sure you’re alright to leave, Miss Devereux?” Madam Pomfrey asked sharply.

Hermione felt her face heat up and nodded. “Yes, I’m positive.” She smiled, and hoped it was convincing enough.

Madam Pomfrey snorted once more, as it seemed she did not quite believe her, and Dumbledore began to walk towards the exit, with a dazed Hermione trailing behind.

Walking through the Hogwarts corridors was a surreal experience for Hermione. Only mere hours ago for her, the walls were blown apart, bodies were strewn every which way, spells were being fired left and right; complete and utter chaos. They walked in silence as Hermione tried to reconcile with the fact that she was not in that time now. The students who would be arriving the next evening had known no war. They only knew the beginnings of war. Whispers. Rumors. Nothing of what Hermione had been through.

As she continued following behind Dumbledore, they passed a tapestry. One that made her stomach jolt and her heart rate pick up, despite the calming draught she had taken. It was where she and Ron had shared their first – and only – kiss. She had not even thought about that until this moment.

Ron…We haven’t – we haven’t even had a chance to speak about what happened. What we even are. I mean, he did call me his girlfriend, but we were having killing curses shot at us. Not exactly the appropriate moment to define a relationship, or lack of. What is he going to think of my being missing? Or – will he even know that I’m gone? Will I return at the moment I left? Or will I even return at all?

Her mind was going a mile a minute. Hermione internally cursed herself for doing this so rashly. It was not like her to behave so foolishly. Her judgment was clouded from everything that she had been through in such a short amount of time, and how sleep deprived she was. Not only was she worried about what she would do while she was there, but now she wondered if she would ever return.

Well surely I would have to return at some point. She tried to rationalize. I mean – I think I would have realized if I had run into an older version of myself at some point. Unless… What if she – I mean – I left the country? Went into hiding? She – I could have a husband, children…a career, in the future. Hermione was beginning to feel the bile rising in her throat. And everyone will have been left without an explanation. Ron would think I had just run out on him…I would just. Disappear.

No. No, it won’t be like that. Of course I’ll go back. You’re just letting your nerves get the best of you. Dumbledore would not have sent you on – whatever this is – without a chance of returning to the future.

Hermione was so distracted that it caused her to slam into the back of Dumbledore and nearly topple onto her backside. She had not even realized they arrived at the entrance to his office.

“Sir! I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed. She was absolutely mortified.

Dumbledore chuckled softly. “That is more than alright, Miss Granger. I expect, after what you had been through, your head would not be – as they say – with it, at the moment.”

“Not exactly sir, no.” She smiled sadly.

After he gave Hermione a tight grin, which did not quite meet his eyes, Dumbledore turned to the gargoyle statue. “Pixie Puffs,” he said.

The gargoyle moved out of the way as the familiar stairs began to rise, leading the way to Dumbledore’s office. Dumbledore gestured for Hermione to go first and then began their ascent up the stairs.

Once they were sitting in Dumbledore’s office, he took out the envelope which Hermione had given him when she first arrived. Hermione sat and fiddled with her fingers while Dumbledore read the letter over once more. Her heart started beating quickly again and her legs shook. She was still unclear as to why she had been sent so far back into the past. She had only meant prevent something that happened hours before, not years. Why had she been sent back to the year 1976?

“I am sure you have many questions, Miss Granger.” Dumbledore finally spoke.

Hermione cleared her throat and sat up straighter in her chair. “Yes, sir. I do.”

Dumbledore sighed as he gently set the letter on his desk. He placed the tips of his fingers together, as if in prayer, and appeared to be surveying her over the tops of his glasses. Hermione squirmed nervously in her chair.

“You may ask me anything you wish. But, I am afraid, there are some things I simply cannot answer,” he explained.

Hermione’s mouth puckered in frustration. There was nothing she hated more than not having all of the answers, and it was obvious she was not going to get them. “I understand, sir,” she mumbled.

In her head, she sifted through the many, many things she was unclear of.

“Do you know why you – the future you – had sent me to this time?” It was her first question; the most important one of them all.

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair while he exhaled deeply. “I am sorry, Miss Granger. The first question you ask is one I cannot answer.”

“Can’t or won’t,” came flying out of her before she could stop it. She quickly covered her mouth, terribly embarrassed. “I’m so sorry, sir,” she said through her fingers.

To Hermione’s relief Dumbledore did not become angry with her outburst. He smiled compassionately at her and shook his head softly.

“I understand your frustration, Miss Granger. I truly do. Please understand that there are things that I myself am not clear on. My future self has given me limited information,” he explained.

Hermione cocked an eyebrow, not understanding why Dumbledore would have sent her into the past practically blind. If Dumbledore – the one who sat in front of her – did not have the answers…who would? She was not even exactly sure why she was there.

“I believe it may save a great deal of time, if I share with you what I do know,” Dumbledore said.

Hermione nodded, indicating Dumbledore should continue.

“You are Hermione Jean Granger and are visiting from the year 1998. I have sent you to this time to set a certain student on the right path –“

“Yes. I wanted to save Pro-“

Dumbledore held his hand up to stop her.

“Please, Miss Granger. Do not interrupt,” he said, not harshly. It was more urgent than anything else.

Once again, Hermione felt her face heat up in embarrassment. “I’m sorry, sir.”

“Now, as I was saying. You are here to help a student realize their full potential. I am not to know any more details regarding your journey to this time. You are only meant to do what you have sought out to do, nothing more.” Dumbledore fixed Hermione with a piercing stare.

“I’m – I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean, Professor.”

Hermione was undeniably confused. Her only goal there was to get to know Professor Snape. Show him that he was not as bad as everyone – including himself – thought he was. Make him see that his life was valuable and worth fighting for.

“What I mean,” Dumbledore continued, “is that you must not alter anyone else’s future whilst you are here. You know what will become of some – if not most – of the students in this school. Not to mention, I am sure, the teachers and staff. No one must know of their future, Miss Granger. The consequences could be severe.”

I didn’t even consider that! But now that he has mentioned it… If I just possibly hint to Harry’s parents, Sirius and Lupin. Everything can change! Harry could grow up with his parents and a loving family! Why shouldn’t I stop them all from being murdered?

“Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said sternly. “It cannot even be considered. No matter what you may know, it must not, under any circumstances, be shared. Do I make myself clear?”

Hermione sat and mulled it over for a bit more. She was still not sure why she shouldn’t warn everyone of what is to come. Then just maybe she wouldn’t have to grow up in the same world that she had.

But that just might be Dumbledore’s point. It would not be the same world I grew up in. I might not even exist in the world I create, if I am to tamper with anything. Maybe he’s right. Just stick to what you’ve come back here for, Hermione.


Dumbledore looked seriously at Hermione. “Your word, Miss Granger?” he pressed.

If there was anything that Hermione had learned throughout her life, it was that Albus Dumbledore had never steered her, nor anyone she knew wrong. If he said that something was important, then she would not go against that. She took a deep breath and looked him dead in the eye.

“My word, sir,” she promised.

“Excellent! Now,” he continued, “we must decide which house you will be residing in. Do you wish to be sorted, or would you wish to remain in Gryffindor?” he asked, surprising her that he knew which house she belonged in.

Her eyes widened slightly. Dumbledore laughed quietly and raised the letter, which she had given to him, up for her to see.

“It stated which house you belonged in. Although, the bravery it has taken for you to accept this task, I would have ventured an educated guess at Gryffindor,” he winked at her.

Hermione thought for a moment. If I am resorted, odds are, the hat will place me back in Gryffindor. But is that where I should go? If I am here for Professor Snape, I am sure he would not give me the time of day if that’s what I am. He is a Slytherin, not to mention, one who is on his way to becoming a Death Eater. Gryffindor may not be in my best interest. Not if I intend on succeeding here. Plus, that is where James, Lily, Sirius and Remus are. I don’t know if I could trust myself not to tell them of what I know.

It was becoming clear to Hermione that Gryffindor was not where she belonged. Not in 1976, that was.

The Sorting Hat did strongly consider Ravenclaw. There is no doubt that I would fit in with them. People have asked me all throughout school why I wasn’t in Ravenclaw.


“Sir,” she began softly. “Would it – I mean – do you think I can just choose a different house?” she asked.

Dumbledore seemed to be considering this option. He stroked his chin with his thumb and forefinger. “I do not see why not,” he eventually said.

Hermione cleared her throat and spoke confidently. “Then I wish to be placed in Ravenclaw. I think – considering the reason I am here – it would be my best option.”

Hermione and Dumbledore then continued to discuss the details of her stay for an hour longer. She had learned that while she was there, she would be known as Hermione Devereux - Dumbledore’s niece through her mother’s side and cousin of the Delacours through her father’s. She would be posing as a sixth year Ravenclaw who, due to conflicts with her parents’ work, would need to leave her home-schooling and attend Hogwarts for the remainder of her education. She would have been originally from England and had moved to France as a young girl. Her parents would have relocated to the United States for an indefinite amount of time. The story would be they were there on business, as cauldron merchants. Hermione, who wanted the opportunity to sit her N.E.W.T.s, did not accompany them and convinced them to enroll her into school. Her uncle, who was Headmaster at Hogwarts, agreed to accept her into the school for her final two years. Dumbledore had insisted – much to Hermione’s discomfort – that she would refer to him as “Uncle Albus,” for the remainder of her stay, lest the students and staff become suspicious of her.

Before she left his office, he had given her books she would need for classes, school robes - which were already donning the Ravenclaw symbol – and a small pouch of galleons to purchase clothing, or anything else she may need during her time there. Dumbledore conjured a trunk for her belongings, gave her permission to walk down to Hogsmeade the following morning – to do some shopping – and sent her on her way.

“Good luck, Miss Granger.” He smiled as she reached the door. “And, please, if there is anything you may need, do not hesitate to find me.”

Hermione’s throat grew thick and the corners of her eyes prickled – tears threatened to brim over.

“Thank you, sir. I will,” she responded coarsely.

As she turned around and dragged her trunk out of his office, before making her way to Ravenclaw Tower, Hermione’s head was still spinning, not quite sure how the following day would go.

Once inside the Ravenclaw Common Room, Hermione was completely blown away. It was the most beautiful room she had ever been inside, and a part of her began to feel a bit disappointed she hadn’t been sorted into Ravenclaw during her time at Hogwarts. The room was wide, circular and airy. There were large arched windows, which gave the most spectacular view of the Forbidden Forest, Quidditch Pitch, Herbology gardens and the mountains in the distance. Blue and bronze silks hung from the windows, and as she looked up at the ceiling, she saw it was a deep, dark blue, painted with stars; resembling the nighttime sky.

Straight ahead of her was a large marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw with the staircases – she assumed – that led to the dormitories behind it. The walls were lined with bookcases filled with books. The only break in the many, many books was a bronze fireplace that had two couches and three armchairs sitting in front of it. Desks and chairs were sporadically placed alongside of the walls. Despite not truly belonging there, Hermione unexpectedly felt a bit at home.

She decided that she would take advantage of having the Common Room to herself for the evening, set down her trunk and made her way over to the bookshelves in the walls. As she slid her hand across the different spines, her heart stopped when she read the title of a deep green book.

Time-Travel and You: The Advantage and the Danger.

Why on earth would this be in a room intended for students? she wondered as she slowly pulled the book out. Almost feeling as if the book was placed there for her to discover, she tucked it underneath her arm and brought it with her to one of the couches in front of the fireplace. She assumed Dumbledore must have informed the house-elves she would be staying there this evening, since a warm fire was crackling away. She tucked her legs under her and sat reading the book for nearly an hour, until she could not keep her eyes open a moment longer.

“Well that was just silly,” she said as she closed the book and stood up. “Basically everything written there were things I had already known. Keep my head down, don’t intentionally change things, don’t let yourself be seen – although that has already been thrown out the window – and be prepared to deal with whatever consequences your actions might bring. What a load of rubbish,” she grumbled to herself as she placed it in her trunk.

“Still. I might as well keep it and continue to read it. Maybe there will be more information that I may actually find useful.”

After Hermione had washed and changed for bed, she sat up for a little while longer and stared around the dormitory, lost in her thoughts. There were four additional beds in the room - each with bronze and blue bedding and arched windows behind them - which told her she would have at least four roommates. She was very nervous as she wondered who they might be, if she would know them, or if they would remember her in the future. Maybe it would be best if she did not become too close with any of them. To try to remain unmemorable.

“Just keep to yourself as much as you could, Hermione,” she whispered. “The less anyone thinks about you the better. Go to class, do your coursework and stay out of everyone’s way. Except, Professor Snape – well I suppose it would be Severus here. Might as well try to break that habit now. It wouldn’t do me any good to slip and call him Professor while I’m here.”


Hermione sighed, got herself under her covers and lay down on her side. I’m going to have to try to get close to him, she thought as she tried to fall asleep. But how? Merlin knows he’s not the friendliest person. How am I going to do this? She punched her pillow and rolled over onto her other side; she found it very difficult to fall asleep with her mind reeling the way it was. I’ll just have to take it one day at a time, I suppose. It’s not exactly like I can plan this out this time.


 

A/N - I would like to first dedicate this chapter to Emma (GeekTilTheEnd), who was one of my first ever reviewers, and continues to leave the most incredible reviews on different stories of mine. She has been exceptionally encouraging and extremely lovely. I always love when I receive a review from her! 

This is also dedicated to my amazing friend and beta, Em(Pointless-Proclamations). I can't even begin to tell you how amazing you have been! I am so happy and lucky to have become friends with you, through this wonderful site, and I hope we continue to speak for a long, long time.

I adore you both!! 



Chapter 3: iii.
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Chapter Image by TreacleTart@TDA


***


1st September 1976


Hermione woke the following day, and for a moment, completely forgot where she was. It took her a few seconds to remember that she had slept in the Ravenclaw dormitories, twenty-two years in the past. She sat up, wiped her eyes sleepily and felt her heart rate pick up, as she thought of the evening ahead of her. It was the first of September, which meant that a train full of students, who were adults in her time, would be arriving at Hogwarts. James Potter, Lily Evans, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and – the person who she was the most apprehensive about seeing – Severus Snape would be on that train. As her pulse accelerated even more at the thought, she heard and felt her stomach rumble, despite her nerves. She had not eaten since she, Ron and Harry were taken into the Hog’s Head, by Aberforth Dumbledore, the night of the battle.

She got out of bed slowly, put back on the clothing she had worn for the last two days, and thought it was a good thing Dumbledore had cleaned them for her. Hermione looked down at the hooded sweatshirt and jeans ensemble she was wearing and thought that she did not look too inappropriate for the time period she was currently in, which was comforting since she would have to venture into town to purchase things she would need. The clothing and other items Dumbledore was not able to provide her with.

As she walked over to her trunk, to retrieve the pouch of money Dumbledore had given her, her stomach growled once more and she placed her hand on it. Where do I go to eat? I don’t think The Great Hall would work, as there are no students except me here. Maybe I’ll just get something in Hogsmeade, she thought.

Still having her beaded bag with her, she put the pouch inside it, stuffed her wand in her front pocket and walked out of the dorm, through the common room and out onto the stairs. As she walked down them she realized, judging by the position of the sun in the sky, she had slept in quite late. It must had been early afternoon at that point. She walked through the silent castle, not seeing anyone on her journey out of the entrance hall, and into the grounds. Upon arriving outside, she stopped for a moment, to take in her surroundings. The sky was mostly cloudy, the sun barely peeked out through breaks in the clouds and the wind blew softly, throwing off the musky scents of late summer. She looked around at the scenery in front of her, still amazed that, for her, everything here was just blown apart and destroyed.

Shaking the thoughts of war from her head, Hermione took a deep breath and started her walk towards Hogsmeade. The journey down seemed to take twice as long alone, which was not a good thing for her. It gave her more time to get lost inside her head.

Okay, so this evening… Don’t speak to anyone unless they speak to you first. Do not bring attention to yourself. She kicked a rock in frustration. Oh, of course people are going to speak to you! You’re new. Different. An object of curiosity. How are you not going to draw attention to yourself? Just simply being here will be enough for everyone to notice you.

As the skyline of the familiar village grew nearer, her anxiety reached its highest point yet. She knew that it would be best if she did not stand out, but she honestly couldn’t figure out a way to achieve that. There was simply no way that she would be able to stop herself from being remembered by some of those students. Surely the girls who she would share a dorm with would recognize her in the future? Should she change her appearance?

No, that won’t work. Madam Pomfrey has already seen me. How in the world would I explain that? If only Dumbledore didn’t bring me to the Hospital Wing…

While she entered the village, and made her way to The Three Broomsticks, she tried to think of any way she could alter herself, without making it too obvious to Madam Pomfrey, but enough to look a bit different.

Girls dye their hair all the time. I could, perhaps, change the color of my hair, she considered as she opened the door to the pub.

When she walked inside, Hermione’s shoulders immediately relaxed and she exhaled in relief. The pub was relatively empty. Only a handful of witches and wizards were scattered around at different tables. She looked behind the bar and saw a very young  and – as much as she hated to admit it – extremely beautiful, Madam Rosmerta cleaning a glass and smiling kindly at her. Hermione gave a tight grin in return and briskly made her way to an empty table in the back corner of the room.

She pulled out a chair and sat against the wall, facing the entrance. So many months on the run and constantly looking over her shoulder left her with the feeling of not keeping her back to a door. She slouched down low in her seat, tried to remain unseen and continued thinking of ways she could keep her identity concealed. Her concentration broke when she was approached by the statuesque barmaid, who was basically just walking, talking legs and breast. Old habits die hard, and Hermione couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of jealously while she took in the friendly smile of the woman in front of her.

“Hello, dear!” Rosmerta greeted warmly.

“Hello,” Hermione mumbled.

“Can I get you something?” She flashed a brilliant smile while holding a quill and pad.

Hermione, who tried to avoid eye contact, ordered a Butterbeer and a sandwich. After Rosmerta took her order and sashayed away – with a few of the wizards’ eyes following her short black skirt – Hermione reached into her beaded bag and pulled out a book to read.

Her eyes didn’t really take in the words as they scrolled across the page. She was distracted by the sounds of whispered conversations, glasses slammed onto tables and silverware clanging on plates. She peered over the top of her book and looked around at the patrons in front of her. It was a painfully familiar scene. The way the people were conversing; quietly, looking over their shoulders, sideways glancing. It was obvious; the first Wizarding War was in its infancy.

As she observed the tense atmosphere around her, Rosmerta returned with her food and drink.

“Here you go,” she said as she placed them in front of Hermione.

Hermione gently placed her book on the table and chanced looking her in the eye. “Thank you,” she replied softly.

Rosmerta eyed Hermione curiously. “You look a bit young to be on your own, dear. Like you could still be at Hogwarts,” she said.

Being taken aback by her bluntness, Hermione wasn’t sure what to say.

“I – er – Well.”

“I don’t mean to pry,” Rosmerta said, smiling. “It’s just not exactly safe to be travelling alone at the moment.”

Hermione couldn’t help but notice that there was nothing but compassion in Rosmerta’s eyes.

She shook her head. “No it’s alright. I understand,” Hermione reassured her. “I am at Hogwarts, actually.”

“Oh!” Rosmerta looked confused and a bit surprised. “I assumed the students still arrived on the train.”

“They – I mean – we do,” Hermione confirmed. Rosmerta’s eyebrows knitted together. “I arrived yesterday,” Hermione continued. “I’ve never attended Hogwarts before - I was home-schooled - but I will be finishing my final two years there. My uncle is the Headmaster and has agreed to admit me. I wanted to have the opportunity to take my NEWTs.”

Hermione felt her face heat up as she lied and wished that Rosmerta would just leave her to eat in peace. Sadly, the opposite happened. Rosmerta pulled out a chair and sat down with her.

“Oh, you’re Dumbledore’s niece? How lovely!” she exclaimed and held out her hand. “I’m Rosmerta, dear. Your uncle is a wonderful man.”

Hermione took her hand and returned her handshake. “Nice to meet you,” she muttered. “I’m Hermione Devereux.”

Rosmerta remained at the table with her while Hermione ate her lunch. She told Hermione how her father owned the pub and would one day leave it to her, gave her advice about Hogwarts – as Rosmerta had only left the school two years ago – told her stories of some of the students. She went on for nearly ten minutes about two young trouble makers – Sirius Black and James Potter. Hermione noticed Rosmerta blush a bit as she spoke about Sirius, which made her almost choke on her Butterbeer. It seemed the curvy barmaid harbored a sweet spot for her best friend’s godfather and it made her wonder if Sirius really was as charming as he was rumored to be, when he was young. Before Azkaban hollowed him and death claimed him. Hermione shivered at the thought.

When Hermione had finished eating and pulled out money to pay for her meal, Rosmerta waved her off.

“No, no, Hermione! It has been such a pleasure speaking with you. It’s on me!” she insisted.

“I couldn’t possibly-“

“Really. It’s nothing at all. Your money is no good here,” Rosmerta winked.

Hermione, who never really liked Rosmerta – mostly due to Ron’s infatuation with her – was touched by her kind generosity. She smiled a genuinely thankful one and put her money back in her beaded bag.

“Thank you, Rosmerta. That is truly very nice of you.”

“Don’t mention it. Just make sure during your next Hogsmeade visit, you stop in and visit. I really enjoyed speaking with you,” Rosmerta told her, as she started to gather Hermione’s empty plate and cup.

So much for not leaving an impression on anyone, Hermione internally grumbled. “Absolutely. It was really lovely speaking with you as well,” she replied, a bit more cheerfully than usual for her.

After Hermione and Rosmerta said their final goodbyes, Hermione gathered her things and started to leave the pub. When she opened the door her bag dropped to the floor and bent down to pick it up. As she stood up, she ran right into a woman who made the hairs on her arms stand up and bile rise in her throat. A young Bellatrix Lestrange. Azkaban had really done a number on the stunning young woman in front of her, she realized. Bellatrix’s hair was long, jet black, shiny and full. Her teeth – as she bared them at Hermione – were white and straight. Her face was full and flush, the sunken in cheeks and dark circles under her eyes missing. She was tall, lean and dressed impeccably. The woman was as gorgeous as she was terrifying.

“Watch where you’re going, filth!” Bellatrix spat at her. She looked like her hand was reaching for her wand.

“I – I’m so sorry,” Hermione barely choked out.

Just as Bellatrix looked like she was about to rip Hermione apart – either verbally or magically – a pale hand with long slender fingers gripped her upper arm. Hermione truly felt like she was about to lose her lunch upon hearing the smooth silky voice that belonged to the man holding onto Bellatrix.

“Now, now, Bella. Surely we mustn’t lose our temper at every small incident,” Lucius Malfoy gently scolded.

Bellatrix snorted in disagreement and ripped her arm out of his hold. She walked past Hermione, and made sure she slammed her shoulder into Hermione as she passed. An identical replica of Draco then stood before her; blond hair, straight nose, grey eyes, pointed chin and an unmistakable aura of wealth. The only difference between Draco and his father was Lucius’ long, shoulder-length hair. Hermione was still frozen.

“Please excuse my sister-in-law,” his lip curled around the title, as if it highly displeased him.

“N-No problem,” Hermione said softly. “If you’ll excuse me.”

She ducked around Lucius and hurried out of the pub as quickly as she could, without flat out running.

She nearly jogged down the street, and took a turn between two buildings. As she stood with her back against a wall and tried to catch her breath, she unconsciously cupped the inside of her left forearm with her right hand. It was where Mudblood had been carved into Hermione’s arm – by Bellatrix –  just a few short weeks before. Seeing Bellatrix, or Lucius Malfoy, was nothing she anticipated. She was aware they were a few years older than Harry’s parents and Professor Snape, so she knew there would be no chance of running into them at the school. She felt foolish for not even thinking about them being in Hogsmeade. Of course there was the possibility of running into them there – or any of the Death Eaters.

Hermione remained in that spot for nearly five minutes while she calmed herself down. She figured she should get her shopping done as quickly as possible, so she didn’t run into them once more. Something told her that Bellatrix may not be as lenient with her a second time.

With an hour to spare – before the students arrived – Hermione was back in the Ravenclaw dormitories, changing into her school robes. She took the miniature boxes, which she had transfigured to a tenth of their actual size, out of her bag and returned them to normal. She was very surprised to find a specialty shop in Hogsmeade which sold Muggle clothing – it did not exist in her time. She was able to find a few time-appropriate outfits, undergarments and a few accessories for her stay here. There was also a shop that sold school uniforms that she had purchased some items from.

As she put her new clothing away in her wardrobe, her stomach was in knots. It would not be much longer until she would see so many people she had known. People who had died. She had been through a lot in her short life, but she knew nothing would compare with what was to come. Her nerves began to overwhelm her. Her palms were sweating, her heart felt like it was beating in her throat, she shook from head to toe, and she started to feel a bit dizzy. She sat down on the edge of her bed and placed her head in her hands.

Breathe, Hermione. Just breathe. She began to give herself a pep-talk. You can do this. Yes, it will be quite a shock seeing James and Lily. You know that is going to be the biggest shock of them all. And seeing a young Professor Snape is going to be just…odd. But you can do this.

Hermione got up and walked into the bathroom. She took out her wand, and using a Glamour Charm, she changed her hair to be long, poker-straight and a deep black. After that, she lifted up her left sleeve and made her scar disappear. If she were to pretend she was not a Muggle-born, it would not be ideal for someone to see what was carved into her arm. She looked into the mirror and was pleased with the results of the charm. She still looked like herself, but not quite; exactly what she hoped to achieve. After one last glance at herself she squared her shoulders and left the bathroom.

She continued to repeat her mantra of, You can do this, as she forced herself to walk out of the dorm and through the common room. When she reached the bottom of the stairs she wasn’t sure if she should arrive into the Great Hall with Dumbledore, or try to filter in with the rest of the students. She stood in the corridor and shifted her weight back and forth, each time she changed her decision. Finally she made up her mind and walked towards the Great Hall on her own. On her way down she began to hear the excited babble from the students who now just arrived. She stopped dead at the sound. Fear paralyzed her.

Deep breaths. Come on. You know you can do this! She forced her feet to move again and continued her slow walk towards the oncoming students.

As she turned a corner, she saw them – the students. She almost stopped once more, but something inside her forced her to keep moving. A few girls stopped at the sight of her, whispered to one another, and continued on their way, giggling. Hermione kept her head down and marched straight into the hall, right behind them. She spotted the Ravenclaw table and quickly sat down all the way at the end, and took the nearest seat to the exit.

Even though she planned on not looking around, her curiosity got the best of her. She watched the students as they filed in and began to recognize some faces. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she saw a very young, extremely handsome, blond wizard with a wide, gorgeous smile and sparkling blue eyes strut in and sit down, a few spaces away from her at the Ravenclaw table. It was Professor Lockhart.

Wow… Hermione thought as she looked at him.

Lockhart caught her staring and offered her a wink and a smile. Hermione blushed and put her head down, then suddenly remembered how he looked when she, Harry, Ron and Ginny saw him at St. Mungo’s on Christmas their fifth year. Her smile quickly disappeared.

More and more students filtered in, all laughing and catching up from the summer apart from one another. Ravenclaw table was nearly full, as were the rest of the tables, yet she still hadn’t seen the people she was the most nervous about.

After a few more moments she heard loud laughter behind her, then the sound of someone falling to the ground. Four boys stood around a huddled figure, who was sprawled out on the floor in front of them, his things scattered everywhere.

“Oops! Sorry, Snivelly! Didn’t see you there,” a gorgeous young man, who Hermione immediately recognized, yelled and let out a bark-like laugh. It was obvious, by the tone of his voice, that he absolutely did see the boy he knocked to the ground.

Two of the other boys laughed, one of which – who was wearing glasses and looked strikingly like her best friend – clapped his hand on the handsome boy’s shoulder. They were both extremely good-looking, Hermione thought. Sirius was tall, tan, muscular, had playful grey eyes, and a mischievous grin. The Harry lookalike she knew was James. The only differences were his hair was a bit longer, he had hazel eyes and he was obviously missing a scar. James was a bit more built than Harry and maybe a tad taller.

The other boy who laughed she knew was Peter. He was every bit as unremarkable in his youth as he was as an adult. He was short and chubby with messy, sandy hair and watery brown eyes. He had a very unattractive laugh; it was more like a cackle. It made Hermione’s skin crawl.

The only one who wasn’t laughing was Remus. Hermione thought that James would have been a bigger shock for her, but now that she was looking at him, it was Remus who surprised her the most. He had some scars on his face, but nowhere near as many as he did in her time. His blond hair was thick, shiny and down to his shoulders. But what was most different about him was his eyes. They were wide, golden and full of life. She never realized how dead his eyes had looked in her time, until she saw them then, while he was young.

Hermione couldn’t take her eyes from them all.

“He probably slipped on the grease that’s falling from his hair,” James laughed as he kicked the boy on the floor’s wand away.

“James…” Remus warned.

“Wha-“

“James Potter!” a girl shrieked from behind them.

James went rigid; his eyes wide and fearful.

“Uh oh. Warden’s here,” Sirius joked and walked quickly towards the Gryffindor table.

Peter took off after him and Remus shook his head, then followed the other two boys.

“James!” the girl yelled again.

“Bloody hell,” Hermione heard James mutter. She watched him turn around slowly. “Yes Lily?”

Lily? Really? All of them at once?! Hermione complained in her head.

While Hermione stared at the beautiful red-headed girl - who was berating James for bullying yet another student - she almost forgot about the boy on the floor, until he stirred and stood up.

Hermione stopped breathing.

Lily’s eyes narrowed when she seemed to recognized the boy. “Oh…never mind, James,” she said coolly before she turned her back on the two of them and went to join the rest of the Gryffindors.

“Lily! Wait!” James yelled and ran after Lily, but Hermione’s eyes were still on the boy who just stood up.

There was no mistaking him. Long curtains of black hair, a long, hooked nose and deep black eyes, with a look of utter loathing in them as they followed James' and Lily’s retreating figures.

It was Snape.


Chapter 4: iv.
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Beautiful CI by TreacleTart@tda


 

***


1st September 1976 - Evening



Hermione was not sure what she should do. Should she help him or just pretend that she did not notice what happened? She kept her eyes on Snape as if in a trance, while he continued to glare at Lily and James. Without another thought Hermione jumped out of her seat and rushed over to him. At first, Snape did not notice her.

Hermione cleared her throat, bent down, then started to pick up some of his books. “Let me help you,” she offered quietly.

When she caught the look in his eyes, as she glanced up at him, she immediately froze. Snape’s eyes were narrowed and his fists were balled up tightly. He did not say a word, but stared at her for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Hermione kept her gaze locked in his and felt goose bumps form on her arms due to the glare he gave her. What in the hell am I doing? Say something, Hermione! She gulped. “Er – That was – What they – I saw what happened,” she stammered.

Snape’s eyes widened briefly before his expression returned to the unfriendly mask it was a moment before. He looked at her like she was a different species.

“Who are you?” he demanded, quite harshly.

Hermione flinched, stood up quickly and extended her hand. “Oh,” she said. She felt her face heat up, she was mortified. “I’m sorry,” she continued. “I’m Hermione. Hermione Devereux.”

Snape looked down at her hand in disgust and then back into her eyes. Hermione remained completely still, her hand outstretched. She maintained eye contact. She felt like she approached a dangerous animal and did not even dare to breathe.

Hermione’s arm started to shake from holding it out for so long, but she did not lower it. She was determined to make headway with him. Snape’s head cocked a bit to the side as he looked down at her hand once again, then rolled his eyes. He quickly turned his back on her, snorted, and bent down to pick up his belongings. Hermione dropped her arm and stood there dumbfounded.

“I didn’t ask for your help!” he spat at her from the floor, which caused her to jump.

Oh this is going fantastically well, she thought sarcastically. She took in a deep breath, exhaled loudly and joined him on the floor.

“Yes, I know. It’s just - I saw what happened and thought it was terrible.”

She did not actually lie. She knew that James and Sirius did not get on very well with Snape, but the whole exchange seemed completely unprovoked and it bothered her terribly. Hermione hated seeing anyone bullied or mistreated for seemingly no reason. She was more than aware of how that felt.

Snape grunted. “I don’t recall asking for your opinion either,” he mumbled.

Hermione rolled her eyes. Well this is going to be quite fun getting to know him. “I’m sorry. Have I done something to offend you? I just thought you could use a hand,” she snapped. Great, Hermione. Start shouting at him. I’m sure he’s going to take that well. She watched Snape’s shoulders tense up and heard him let out a deep breath.

“I don’t need your help, or anyone else’s. Just – Just leave,” he hissed. Snape still had his back to her. He seemed determined not to look at her for some reason.

She flinched again at his words as she clutched tightly to three of his books that she held in her hands. Her heart dropped and she felt an irrational surge of anger at his bitter tone. She couldn’t understand why he was so cruel to someone who tried to be nice to him. The way he treated her...it was as if she were the one who had just knocked him to the ground.

She stood up slowly and walked over to Snape, who was still crouched down. She watched him stiffen as she neared and bent over to hand him his books. He looked at her hands only, quickly snatched them away from her, and returned to gathering the rest of his things. He did not thank her.

Hermione shook her head sadly then turned around and noticed some of the students looking at her in blatant disbelief. “Yep. You’re welcome,” she whispered sarcastically as she walked away.

She returned to her seat at the Ravenclaw table and ignored her housemates who openly gawked at her. As she chanced a glance over towards the Gryffindors, she saw Sirius nudge James, whisper something in his ear and, at the same time, they both looked right at her. Immediately she looked away and focused her attention on Dumbledore, who now stood up to address the returning students and the anxious first years.

Hermione felt hurt, angry and a bit disappointed. Her first exchange with Snape went even worse than she imagined it would. She could not concentrate on what Dumbledore was saying, or what the Sorting Hat warbled, but she knew that it didn’t really matter. Dumbledore always saved the important information for after the sorting, and whatever warning the hat may have given was irrelevant to her. She knew of what was to come.

Right as dinner first appeared, Hermione turned around to look at the Slytherin table. She scanned up and down until, finally, her eyes rested on Snape. He had his head down, sat away from the rest of his housemates and had a book opened next to his plate. She couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him as she watched him sitting all alone. No wonder he was so miserable. He doesn’t have anyone, does he?

Suddenly, Snape looked up from his book and locked eyes with Hermione. Oh bugger! He’s going to think I’m a nutter! Once again, he did not look very welcoming towards her. His nostrils flared and his eyebrows looked like they became one. Not knowing what else to do, Hermione offered a tight smile – although it looked more like a grimace – and she turned around hastily.

Come on, Hermione. He’s obviously not a very open person. You need to take this slowly with him, she scolded herself.

“I can’t believe you actually went over to help Severus Snape. He’s honestly not the nicest person,” a girl whispered beside her, which caused Hermione to nearly fall out of her seat. She hadn’t even noticed the short-haired brunette.

The girl giggled softly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” she apologized.

After the shock had worn off, Hermione fixed a smile on her face. “No, that’s alright. I guess I just didn’t realize you were there.”

“So it seems,” she laughed. “I’m sorry, how horribly rude of me. I’m Amelia Bones.”

Hermione felt a sting of sadness as she looked at the young woman in front of her, with her short bob haircut, warm brown eyes and full lips, which were turned up in a friendly smile. She knew that Amelia was brutally murdered – presumably by Voldemort, himself – the summer between Hermione’s fifth and sixth years. Her death had been very public. It even made the Muggle news. She tried as hard as she could to push those thoughts away for now.

“Pleasure to meet you, Amelia. I’m Hermione Devereux,” she introduced herself.

“Lovely to meet you as well, Hermione.” Amelia smiled kindly. “I don’t believe we’ve ever received a transfer student before. What brings you to Hogwarts?”

And it begins, Hermione thought, before she told Amelia the lie which would be her life there. She explained how she was home-schooled in France, her parents were on business in The States, she was now a sixth year and how her – she cringed – Uncle Albus agreed to let her attend Hogwarts for the remainder of her Magical Education.

When Hermione mentioned she was Dumbledore’s niece, Amelia’s jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

“Wow… You’re related to Professor Dumbledore?” she asked in awe.

Hermione knew that would not be the last time she would see that look of utter astonishment at the mention of she being his relation. Until that moment, she never realized how uncomfortable it truly would make her feel.

“Yep,” she responded, her mouth popping on the P.

Hermione quickly stuffed a large forkful of potatoes in her mouth to avoid further conversation for the time being.

“Well it’s lovely to have you with us,” Amelia said kindly.

Hermione nodded her thanks as she continued to eat the way Ron usually would and she would scold him for. The comparison made her smile sadly.

As she ate, she realized just how famished she was, since all she had eaten in the last two days had been the sandwich she had that afternoon.

Amelia must have taken the hint that Hermione did not wish to carry on and the two girls ate in mutual silence. Although, it seemed that they were the only two who were eating quietly. The Great Hall was just as loud as it was in her time; lots of chatter, laughter and silverware clanging on plates. Despite the scene being so familiar to her, she had never felt so out of place and alone. Soon the noise died down and Dumbledore rose to address his students.

“Good evening to you all!” he greeted warmly. “Now that you all are well fed and hydrated, please excuse me while I bore you with some start of term notices,” Dumbledore announced with the familiar twinkle in his eye. He went on with the usual information; the Forbidden Forest was off-limits, a list of banned items, when Quidditch tryouts would be, and when Apparating lessons would begin for all of those who would be seventeen on or before the 31st of August. Hermione knew she would be skipping out on those as she already knew how to Apparate and would risk being splinched if she tried to pretend she did not know how to do it.

“And finally,” Dumbledore continued, “I would like to welcome two new faces to Hogwarts this year. First,” he inclined his head towards a young-looking, stocky wizard with short black hair, thick-framed glasses, a toothy grin, round face and wide nose, who sat to the right of Professor McGonagall. “Our new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor; Professor Leonard Crabtree.” Dumbledore paused while a round of light, polite applause broke out across the hall. Professor Crabtree bowed his head in acknowledgement and smiled jovially.

“Yes, welcome, welcome, Professor,” Dumbledore said as the clapping died down. He waited until it was silent once more and went on. “Next, as I am sure all of you have noticed by now, we have a new student.” He looked directly at Hermione. Now that Dumbledore had acknowledged it, it seemed like every student felt they had permission to turn and stare at Hermione. She had never felt more uncomfortable in her life. She slouched down in her seat; her face felt like it was on fire. “Hermione Devereux – my niece – has graciously agreed to join us here at Hogwarts for her final two years of schooling. Up until this year, she had been home-schooled by her parents. I trust you all will welcome her with open arms and help her become settled in, to the best of your abilities,” he said lightly.

“Oh, it would be my pleasure to help her to the best of my abilities,” Sirius yelled out across the hall.

Most of the students erupted in laughter and Hermione felt like she would be sick. She looked at Dumbledore, who was obviously not very amused by Sirius’ outburst at all.

“That will do, Mr. Black,” Dumbledore scolded sternly.

Hermione was completely mortified. She watched Sirius smirk smugly, James and Peter laugh and Remus shake his head. She then turned around and looked at Snape. He was giving Sirius death glare and looked like he was gritting his teeth. She knew that he didn’t like Sirius, but she couldn’t understand why what he said about her had made him appear so angry. It’s probably because Sirius didn’t really get in any sort of trouble for that. Dumbledore basically just gave him a slap on the wrist for that comment. Snape then glanced towards Hermione and saw her looking at him. His eyes opened widely and he shook his head as if silently asking, “What?” She turned back around and was now convinced he thought she was mental.

Dumbledore said a few more things, but she was not listening. Her plan of remaining unnoticed went completely wrong for her. How would anyone forget something like that happening at the Welcoming Feast?

“Hermione, are you alright?” Amelia asked and looked very concerned for her.

She nodded. “Yes. I’m fine. That was just a bit rude, that’s all.”

Amelia let out a short laugh. “Don’t pay attention to Black. And don’t let his good looks fool you, either. He may be very charming, but he’s a slug. He’ll only show interest until you show it back, and then he’s finished with you. He must run through a dozen girls each year.” She shook her head. “You would think they would wise up by now.”

Hermione noticed she sounded quite bitter and wondered if Amelia had been one of those dozens of girls at some point.

“Well, I really couldn’t be bothered. I’m not here to date. I’m here to finish my education,” Hermione lied smoothly.

Amelia looked surprised and very satisfied by that response. “Seems like you have your priorities sorted out quite well.”

“Not always,” Hermione laughed. She couldn’t help but be amused by that comment when she had been told the opposite by Ron and Harry so many times throughout her life.

While the girls were talking, Dumbledore must have dismissed everyone for the evening. The students all rose and the prefects called out to the first years.

Amelia stood up first. “Come on, Hermione. I’ll show you to the common room if you’d like,” she offered.

“Oh – Well. I arrived last night, so I do know where it is. But I would love some company for the walk up,” Hermione said.

As the girls walked out into the corridors, they heard someone yell behind them.

“Devereux! Hey, Devereux!”

Hermione’s stomach churned. She knew exactly who that was. This cannot be happening to me.

Amelia looked behind and groaned. “Ugh, it’s Black. Just keep walking, Hermione. Maybe he’ll go away.”

“Here’s to hoping.” Hermione laughed uncomfortably as the girls continued on.

“DEVEREUX!” Sirius bellowed.

Hermione rolled her eyes and walked a little more briskly. She had a feeling something like this might happen. Just like she thought earlier that day, she was an oddity. Of course she would spark interest in the students. Why did Dumbledore have to introduce me that way?

A few seconds later, Hermione felt a tap on her shoulder. She immediately froze and gave a panicked look to Amelia, whose eyes turned to slits.

Amelia turned around quicker than Hermione would have thought humanly possible.

“Leave her alone, Black,” she hissed. “Haven’t you already embarrassed her enough?” She drew herself up to full height and placed her hands on her hips.

Hermione brought herself around to face Sirius and could not believe what she saw in front of her. Everyone had been right, he really was quite stunning. She thought he was good-looking when she saw him earlier, but up close, he was even more handsome. Regardless, she could tell he was an arrogant arse and that did not sit well with her. Plus, what he did during dinner was completely unacceptable.

“May I help you with something?” Hermione asked sharply.

Sirius looked a bit shocked by her tone, his eyes went wide and he opened and closed his mouth a few times before he finally spoke.

“I – I just wanted to apologize and introduce myself.” He ran his hand through his hair and arranged his face back into a cocky grin.

Wow. He really thinks quite highly of himself, doesn’t he?

Hermione sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. “Fine. Let’s hear that apology then.”

“I am so very sorry for the way I behaved,” he said with phony formality.

He’s really laying it on thick.

“And if you’d let me, I would love to make it up to you sometime.” He winked at her.

Amelia laughed and quickly covered it up with a cough. “Oh, get a grip,” she muttered. Sirius shot her an irritated look and then brought his attention back to Hermione, who was staring at him in disbelief.

He hasn’t even told me his name yet, and he’s trying to pick me up? I can’t believe he was like this before…Azkaban.

Thinking of how he looked after he spent twelve years in prison wiped all feelings of annoyance from her. Now she was filled with sadness and a bit of pity.

I shouldn’t be too hard on him, she sighed. He only has a few good years left before his life is turned completely upside down.

She looked into his clear grey eyes and smiled slightly. “I’m flattered, but I don’t date.” He opened his mouth, presumably to argue with her. “And, don’t you think it’s a bit rude to hit on me without even telling me your name yet?”

Amelia full out laughed at that and Sirius stared at her like she was a new challenge. He raised an eyebrow and smirked mischievously.

“How horribly inconsiderate of me,” he said with an air of utmost regret. “The name is Sirius Black.” He puffed out his chest. “I’m sure you’ll hear all about me.”

“Oh, please!” Amelia scoffed. Sirius quickly told her to hush and Amelia stuck her tongue out at him.

Be nice, Hermione. Remember, he has a long, hard road ahead of him, she reminded herself. “Pleasure,” she said through gritted teeth.

“Oh no.” Sirius took her hand. “Trust me. The pleasure is all mine,” he crooned.

Hermione hated to admit it, but he was pretty charming. Yet he really did not have any effect on her. She found the whole ordeal rather silly more than anything else. She pulled her hand out of his, shook her head and laughed.

“Come on, Hermione. Let’s go.” Amelia tugged on her arm and shot Sirius one last icy glare. “Goodbye, Sirius.”

Sirius chuckled. “Yeah, yeah. See you later, Bones.” He winked again at Hermione. “Hopefully I’ll be seeing much more of you.”

“Well as we both attend the same school, I don’t believe that is out of the realm of possibilities, Sirius,” Hermione said dryly.

The two girls turned around and Hermione stopped dead in her tracks. Snape was right in front of them. He glanced behind Hermione towards Sirius and then looked her up and down. “Typical,” he sneered and walked away quickly.

Great. Lovely. Just fantastic, she thought bitterly as she watched him hurry away.

When the girls entered their common room, it seemed like every member of Ravenclaw was in there, waiting for Hermione to arrive.

“How wonderful. A welcoming committee,” Amelia mumbled sarcastically. “They’re really not that bad though, Hermione.” She smiled apologetically at her.

Hermione squared her shoulders and prepared herself for the initial meeting of her housemates. She was not looking forward to it at all, not after all that had just happened. “Come on. Let’s get this over with so I can go to bed.”

A mix of sixth and seventh years were all sitting around the bronze fireplace and all smiled widely at Hermione. It looked like they all were bouncing with excitement. Hermione, on the other hand, wanted to melt into the carpet.

The first person to approach her looked vaguely familiar. She had tight blonde curls, green cat-eyed glasses, bright blue eyes and vivid red lipstick on her thin lips. She looked at the girl’s calculating eyes, as they seemed to take in Hermione’s every feature with a hungry curiosity. Suddenly, it clicked. She knew exactly who it was. Oh no. It – It couldn’t be…

The girl held her hand out for Hermione to shake. “Hello, Hermione. Rita Skeeter – sixth year. It’s a pleasure.” She introduced herself with such false politeness, it made Hermione’s skin crawl.

“Lovely to meet you,” Hermione lied as she returned her handshake.

The boy who she knew as her professor in her second year – Gilderoy Lockhart – walked over and snaked his arm around Rita’s waist. Rita looked up at him with sickeningly loving eyes. Hermione almost wretched.

“And this is my boyfriend, Gilderoy Lockhart,” Rita nearly purred.

Lockhart flashed Hermione another brilliant smile and shook her hand as well. “Don’t forget, love,” he said to Rita as he pointed at his chest. Hermione saw the badge he was proudly displaying. “And Head Boy,” he chuckled.

Hermione could only imagine how he must have lied and cheated to earn that title, if he was anything then like he would eventually become. She plastered a fake smile on her face.

“Congratulations. That is quite an accomplishment.” Hermione forced the words out to sound as genuine as possible.

It had all begun to become a bit much for her. First Snape, then Sirius and now Rita and Lockhart? She had no idea how she would get through it all.

After the first two, she was introduced to the rest of their friends. Besides Amelia and Rita, her other dorm mates were Alice McKinnon and Dorcas Meadowes. They were both beautiful girls. Alice was very petite with long dark hair, large green eyes, a tiny nose, and perfectly crafted, arched eyebrows. Docras was tall and thin with shoulder-length blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a perfectly straight, white smile. They seemed friendly enough, but almost bordering on phony. She didn’t take to the three girls as well as she had already with Amelia.

Next, Amelia introduced Hermione to her twin brother, Edgar. Edgar was just as kind as Amelia, but Hermione could tell, a bit more outgoing. He was very muscular, Keeper on the Quidditch team and looked a lot like Amelia. They each had the same shade of brown hair, brown eyes and full lips. Edgar’s two best friends were introduced to her after that; Otto Bagman and Sturgis Podmore. Otto was Ludo Bagman’s younger brother, Captain and Chaser on the Quidditch team, very loud and overly friendly. Instead of the typical handshake, the curly blond-haired, blue eyed, stocky boy pulled Hermione in for a hug, which completely shocked her. Sturgis – who was another Chaser on the team – was tall, lean and soft spoken with hazel eyes, a squared jaw and thick, straw-colored hair.

Hermione was mildly overwhelmed with all of the introductions, although everyone seemed nice enough so far.

Hermione yawned loudly. “Well, it was absolutely wonderful meeting all of you, but I’m actually pretty exhausted,” she announced to them all.

“Aw, don’t tell me you’re going to bed already? We’re just getting started!” Bagman complained.

“Yeah, Hermione. Stay up with us a little bit longer,” Edgar tried to convince her.

Just as Hermione opened her mouth to decline, Rita spoke up. “Oh, let her go to bed if she wants to! It’s not like she will be missing much.”

Hermione couldn’t help but notice the slightly jealous tone in Rita’s voice. Oh well isn’t she just as lovely as a teenager.

“Guys, leave her alone. She’s not going to suddenly disappear overnight. You’ll all see her tomorrow,” Amelia spoke up for her and looked at Hermione. “I’ll come with you if you want,” she offered.

“That would be lovely, thank you.” Hermione honestly felt pretty comfortable with Amelia already and genuinely did not mind her joining her. “I’m sorry, everyone,” she said to the room again. “It really was nice meeting you all. I guess I’ll see you all in the morning.”

The boys said goodnight to Hermione and Amelia while Rita and her other dorm mates remained in the common room. Hermione climbed the steps slowly; she wasn’t lying, she was exhausted. It had been an extremely long and stressful day.

They entered their dorm, each took a turn using the bathroom to change and wash up, then climbed into their beds.

“I need to warn you about Rita,” Amelia said from across the room.

Oh Amelia, trust me. You really don’t have to. “Yeah?” Hermione asked with feigned ignorance.

She heard Amelia exhale loudly. “Don’t trust her, Hermione. She’s been known to spread some awful rumors about people. And fairly often, they usually end up being true. Or – at least- partly true. I – I don’t know where she even gets her information.”

I might have a theory about that… “Thanks, Amelia. I’ll keep that in mind.” Hermione smiled.

The girls each got under their covers, Amelia pointed her wand at the lights and turned them out.

“So what do you think, so far?” Amelia asked in the dark.

Hermione almost laughed out loud at the thought of Amelia truly hearing her thoughts. She turned on her side and gave the best response she could think of. “It’s not so bad, I guess. Besides the whole thing with Black, everyone has been pretty nice.”

And Snape. Merlin’s Beard, was he a complete git. Well…Could you blame him? I mean, you did see how he was treated and how he sat all alone. It was like the rest of the Slytherins didn’t even acknowledge that he goes here. I’m sure anyone would be a miserable bastard if they lived like that.

“Hermione? Did you hear me?”

Hermione jumped. She did not pay attention to a word that Amelia just said. “I’m sorry, Amelia. I didn’t. What did you say?”

“That’s alright,” she laughed. “I suppose you are a tad overwhelmed today.”

You have no idea. “Yeah. Maybe just a little,” Hermione giggled nervously.

“I said, what made you go help Severus earlier?”

Oh you know. I’m just a lonely time-traveler who is here to try to save his life eventually. No big deal. “I don’t know, really. I just saw what Black and his friends did to him and how no one stepped in or did anything to help. I – I felt horrible for him,” she admitted.

“He didn’t seem like he took it very well,” she pressed on.

Hermione laughed. “No. Not exactly. I think his exact words were, I didn’t ask for your help,” she said in a deep imitation of his voice. “And then he kindly asked me to leave.”

Amelia snorted and then sighed. “Well, Hermione. There was a reason that no one helped him. He’s not exactly a warm and inviting person. I mean, I’m not excusing what Potter and Black did – they’re usually pretty vicious towards him, but Snape is rumored to be very much into the Dark Arts. He can be quite scary sometimes.”

“You don’t say,” Hermione responded sardonically.

“Just – Just be careful around him,” Amelia advised.

Hermione couldn’t help but wonder what Amelia would start to think of her if she eventually spent more time around Snape. Would she believe Hermione was the type of person who was into the Dark Arts as well?

“I will,” she said softly.

The girls said goodnight to one another after that. Hermione flopped onto her stomach, stuffed her arm under her pillow and thought about everything that had happened today. From her lunch with Rosmerta, the frightening encounter with Bellatrix and Lucius, meeting a teenaged Snape for the first time, Sirius and his arrogance, seeing Lily, Remus, James and Peter and meeting Amelia and the rest of the Ravenclaws. Today she had been on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Her mind ran wildly as she tried to fall asleep. She wondered if she would have any classes with Snape the following day and if she should attempt to speak to him again. She already assumed he thought she was a bit off her rocker, from all of the times he caught her staring at him. She couldn’t imagine it going well if she attempted to strike up a conversation with him again, but she knew she had to try.

The look he gave her, after her run-in with Sirius, was a worrisome. She could not understand what he meant by, Typical. Did he think she would be just another girl who fell down at Sirius Black’s feet? Because, she wasn’t flirting with him. At all. And why was she bothered that he thought she might have been? More importantly, why was he bothered by it?

Soon Hermione heard the other girls quietly enter the room, and not too long afterwards she fell into a deep sleep. All her worries about the following day were temporarily gone as she drifted off.


 

***

A/N - EM! {Pointless-Proclamations} My wonderful friend!! Thank you, again, so much for your amazing beta services on this story!!  Now go study! ;)




Stunning CI by TreacleTart@tda


 
2nd September 1976

 

The following morning Hermione’s stomach was in knots. She thought that after she saw everyone for the first time, and had a good night’s sleep, it would have calmed her nerves. She could not have been more wrong. Her mind raced as she thought of the day ahead of her – Which courses should she take? Who would be in them? How long should she wait before she spoke to Snape again? Would Sirius continue to bother her? How should she handle it? Had she made a mistake by befriending Amelia so quickly? Should she distance herself before she possibly does any damage? All of those seemingly unanswerable questions ran through her head.

She and Amelia sat together during breakfast at the Ravenclaw table; Hermione with an untouched plate of food, growing cold, in front of her. Absentmindedly she glanced over at the Gryffindor table and saw James, Sirius, Peter and Remus all with their heads together, looking down at something. It was obvious from their mannerisms that they were up to something secretive and, most likely, a bit of trouble. As she had her eyes fixed on the boys, not really focused on them, Sirius looked up. He caught Hermione looking over and flashed her a wide smile and a wink. She narrowed her eyes, huffed and quickly looked away. Amelia nudged her with her elbow.

“Are you alright, Hermione?” she asked, a bit of egg dangled from her fork.

Hermione grabbed a piece of toast and began to butter it. “Yes,” she said quickly then her shoulders slumped. “Well – no. I suppose I am a bit nervous about my first day,” she admitted. She found it strangely easy to be honest with Amelia. Well, as honest as she could be.

Amelia swallowed her food and smiled reassuringly at her. “It is pretty overwhelming; your first time here. But you’ll adjust quickly. Promise.”

Hermione gave her a tight smile in response and took a bite of her toast. She knew that would be all she would eat that morning.

A few moments later Rita, Alice and Dorcas all sat down across from the two girls, and began to load up their plates. Hermione and Amelia greeted them as Rita started to eye Hermione, once again, with that hungry curiosity.

“So,” she began. “You’re Dumbledore’s niece, eh?” Rita asked as if interviewing Hermione.

And so begins the inquisition. Hermione exhaled loudly. “Yes,” she answered, her eyes remained on her plate.

Alice and Dorcas giggled. “That must be so – so… weird,” Alice said. Dorcas’ head bobbed enthusiastically, it seemed that she agreed.

Hermione looked up at them; a crease formed between her eyebrows. “Why? My uncle is an amazing man. I don’t see anything weird about it at all,” she responded a bit heated.

The two girls laughed more at her response and Rita smiled condescendingly at her. “Of course he is, Hermione,” she said.

Amelia looked at her from the side of her eye, shrugged and shook her head lightly. Hermione rolled her eyes.

She continued picking apart her toast as the girls gossiped and caught up on the latest scandals that – supposedly – happened over the summer holiday. She couldn’t concentrate on a word they said. She peered over her shoulder, at the Slytherin table, and noticed Snape had not yet arrived; a wave of disappointment washed over her as she turned back around. She was hoping to speak to him, to let him know that she was not insane, just new there and wanted to offer help to someone who looked like they needed it. While she rehearsed her conversation with him in her head, a familiar squeaky voice pulled her back into the present.

“Miss Devereux?” A young Professor Flitwick stood behind her and smiled brightly.

Hermione could not believe just how young he looked. If she had to guess, she would have assumed he was only teaching a few years at that point. He was still tiny as ever with dark, brown hair – not a grey in sight –  and the crows-feet around his blue eyes were missing.

“Y-Yes. That’s me,” she answered softly.

“I’m Professor Flitwick, Miss Devereux. I’ll be your head of house,” he introduced himself cheerfully.

Having Flitwick as her head of house, would be another thing that Hermione had a hard time wrapping her head around – after six years of having McGonagall.

“Pleasure to meet you, sir,” she smiled.

Flitwick looked down at a stack of parchment he was holding. “I was wondering if I may have a brief word with you. We need to discuss which courses you will be taking this term.”

“Sure, Professor.” Hermione picked up her bag, told Amelia she would see her after breakfast and followed Professor Flitwick out into the corridor.

He shuffled through the parchment in his hands and muttered softly. “Devereux? Devereux? Devereux…? Ah! Here we are.”

Hermione looked down at Flitwick in shock as he read over whatever fabricated information Dumbledore must have passed off about her.

“Professor Dumbledore has kindly given me your transcripts from your mother – from your homeschooling,” he informed her.

Even though she should not had been amazed; she was. Her eyes widened the tiniest amount while she wondered what else Dumbledore might have forged. She wouldn’t be surprised if she had a fake birth certificate somewhere as well.

“Oh. That’s good to hear,” she mumbled. She did not know how else to respond.

She watched Flitwick’s eyes as they scanned over her falsified grades and waited for him to speak.

“Your marks have all been extraordinary, Miss Devereux. Very good. Very good, indeed,” he praised her.

“Thank you, sir.” Her face flushed while she fiddled with the cuff of her sleeve.

He shuffled the papers around a bit more, and pulled out one that Hermione saw was blank.

“Well. You may choose to move on with whichever subjects you would like,” he smiled.

Hmm… Should I take on a full course load? Or should I, perhaps, take it a bit easy while I’m here. I have overworked myself for the entirety of my education… But I’m afraid if I have too much free time, I may be tempted to do something stupid. Maybe the busier I keep myself, the less chance I’ll have of seriously putting my future at risk.

“Miss Devereux?” Flitwick pressed.

Hermione snapped herself out of it. “Sorry, Professor,” she quickly apologized. “I think I will go on with Ancient Ruins, Arithmancy, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. If – If that’s alright?” she asked uncertainly.

Flitwick tapped his wand to the blank piece of parchment and Hermione watched her schedule appear. “Yes, Miss Devereux. That is perfectly fine.”

Before he handed it to her, he turned it over and tapped his wand to it once more. Hermione saw black ink spider out and form a small map of Hogwarts. The routes to her classes were highlighted in red.

“Here you are.” Flitwick handed the parchment over to Hermione. “This is your time-table. I had also taken the liberty of putting a map of the school on the back of it for you,” he smiled. “The easiest routes to your classes are marked in red.”

Although she already knew how to get to each of those classrooms – and knew better shortcuts – she couldn’t help but be touched by this kind gesture.

“Thank you, Professor. That was very kind of you,” she said; her voice grew thick.

He patted Hermione on the elbow and started to walk back towards the Great Hall; Hermione alongside him.

“Now if you have any trouble, or need help with anything, have one of your housemates show you to my office. I would be more than happy to help with whatever I could,” he told her as they reached the entrance.

“I will, sir. Thank you again.”

Flitwick wished her luck and made his way towards the staff table. Hermione remained behind, in the doorway, and looked over her time table to see which classes she would have that day.

So it looks like Transfiguration with the Gryffindors – lovely – will be first today. Then it’ll be Arithmancy, free period, lunch and then, her heart dropped. Potions… Well. He’ll definitely –

Suddenly she stumbled forward as someone crashed into the back of her and she heard books fall to the ground.

“Oh! I’m so sor-“ she immediately stopped speaking as she turned around and saw who was glaring at her.

Of course… she thought sourly.

Snape took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of his nose. “What are you doing - blocking the doorway like that?” he growled.

Hermione automatically took a step back. As much as she did not want to admit it, the young Severus Snape intimidated her as much as the older Professor Snape had.

“I – I was just – I’m sorry,” she stammered.

Her heart was pounding. So far, her first encounters with him had not gone well at all.

He exhaled loudly as Hermione dropped down to the ground and hastily collected his books. Snape did not help her. She looked up and saw he was staring down at her in complete disbelief. His eyebrows met his hair line and his mouth was slightly agape. She quickly looked back down, stacked his books, stood up and held them out for him.

“Here you are. Again, I’m sorry about that,” she said quickly.

Very slowly, Snape took them from her. He raised an eyebrow and shook his head. Hermione felt her face heat up.

“We – er – we have to stop meeting this way,” she joked lamely with an uncomfortable laugh. His brow furrowed.

We have to stop meeting this way?! Seriously, Hermione? This is not helping the whole he-thinks-you’re-a-nutter situation.

She shuffled her feet nervously and was at a loss for words. Snape cleared his throat.

“Why did you keep staring at me last night?” he asked bluntly.

Hermione was taken aback. She had no idea what to tell him. She certainly couldn’t tell him the truth.

“I – um – I – I was?” She kept her eyes wide and innocent.

Smooth, Granger.

Snape snorted angrily. “I saw you with Black. Is he putting you up to something?” he accused her heatedly. His pale face gained a bit of color.

Hermione made a horrible mistake; she laughed. It was completely absurd to her that he would have come to that conclusion.

“I’m sorry, but… what?” He’s off his rocker!

He took a step towards her which caused Hermione to take a step back. There was true anger in his eyes.

“You just stay away from me,” he hissed and pushed past her.

She was completely flabbergasted as she stood and watched him hurry to the Slytherin table. She was routed to the spot and still had her eyes on Snape – who, it seemed, actively tried not to look back at her –  when she felt an arm around her shoulder; she jumped. “Oh!”

“Sorry, Devereux. Didn’t mean to scare you,” Sirius smirked.

Oh, Sirius. Not now! This couldn’t possibly be a worse time!

Hermione jerked away from him and glared. “What do you want, Black?” she snapped.

Sirius took a step back and put his two hands up; palms forward.

“Hey, easy there. It looked like you were having some trouble with dear old Snape, and I thought I’d come over to see if you needed my assistance,” he said with a wicked gleam in his eye.

Hermione huffed, took a step towards him and jammed her finger in his chest. “I wouldn’t ask for your help with tying my shoes, Black!” she shouted.

Sirius took a quick step back and his mouth was wide opened in shock.

She did not realize that everyone had been watching her exchange with Sirius until she heard the deafening silence and a piece of silverware fall to the floor. Hermione felt her body go cold and slowly turned her head towards the students in the hall when suddenly loud laughter erupted throughout the four tables. She threw a panicked look towards Amelia, took a quick glance at Snape and then stormed out of the Great Hall. She was completely embarrassed. Great. Now everyone will think I’m total nutter.

As she marched down the hallway she began to feel a bit badly about snapping at Sirius that way. There was no way he would have known of what was just said between her and Snape. She thought of the hurt and bewildered expression on his face and began to feel worse. She also happened to catch Snape’s look of utter disbelief before she walked off. His eyes were as wide as saucers and his jaw dropped. She hoped that little scene with Sirius cleared any thoughts of her plotting something with him from Snape’s head.

Why would he even think that? Is it really that hard for him to believe that someone is genuinely being friendly towards him? How horribly does he have it here?

“Hermione!” Amelia called out from down the hall.

She stopped and turned around to wait as Amelia ran to catch up to her.

“Hey Amelia,” Hermione said when she reached her.

“Hey. What was that all about?” she asked as they reached the entrance to the Transfiguration classroom.

They were early, the door was locked, so the girls leaned against the wall to wait for Professor McGonagall to arrive and let them in. Hermione still had not answered Amelia’s question.

“Well?” she pressed.

Hermione took in a breath. “I was standing in the doorway, looking over my time-table and Snape knocked into me. His books went everywhere, again. I gathered them for him and then he became a bit short with me,” she explained.

“You’re not having very good luck with him, are you?” Amelia asked while she attempted to stifle a smile.

Hermione shook her head softly. “Nope.”

Loud voices accompanied with laughter traveled down the hallway. Hermione looked down towards the source of the noise and tension filled her body. It was James, Sirius, Remus and Peter coming their way. Bloody fantastic.

“What happened with Black?” Amelia asked quietly as she noticed the boys arriving as well.

Hermione turned her head and checked to make sure they were still far enough away. “He thought he would be my knight in shining armor and come save me from big bad Snape,” she whispered quickly. “I told him to bugger off and left. I’m not interested.”

Amelia looked at Hermione with something close to wonder. “You’re certainly in the minority there, Hermione. Most girls here would kill to have him pursue them.”

“Well, I’m not like most girls,” Hermione laughed. “Plus, like I’ve said, I’m not here to date. Not just him, but anyone.”

The boys came nearer which caused Hermione’s pulse to accelerate even more. She was about to possibly have her first encounters with James and Remus. She tugged on Amelia’s sleeve and dragged her closer to the door, hoping they would leave them alone.

She heard James’ voice. She knew it was James because he sounded so much like Harry. It made her stomach flip and the color drained from her face.

“Oi, Sirius? Isn’t that the bird who actually has the sense to turn you down?” he joked loudly.

“Oh, she’ll come around,” Sirius answered smugly.

Amelia rolled her eyes and looked at Hermione who stood frozen. She still could not get over just how much he and Harry sounded alike.

“Hermione? Are you ok? You look like you’re going to be sick,” Amelia asked in alarm.

“No. No, I’m fine,” she lied.

Don’t let them come over. Please don’t let them come over. She pleaded in her head.

“I think I’ll go and introduce myself,” James announced.

Shit… Ok. Breathe.

“Oh for the love of…” Hermione heard Amelia mutter.

Hermione turned around and watched James duck as Sirius attempted to hit him and then he walked towards her. She felt like her heart was beating in her throat. James strutted over with a wide smile; Sirius glowered behind him. Remus and Peter were laughing quietly.

“Hello there!” he greeted her.

Here it goes. Pull it together, Hermione. “Hi,” she said shyly.

“James Potter. Devereux, right?” he said and stuck his hand out; Hermione nodded. “I just thought I would come over and congratulate you.”

She returned his handshake and raised her eyebrow. “Congratulate me?”

“For knocking Sirius down a peg. It’s about time someone did,” he chuckled.

Hermione’s eyes went wide. She did not know what to say.

“Oi!” Sirius yelled.

James turned around. “Shut it, Pads.” He brought his attention back towards Hermione. “Don’t be too hard on him though. He’s relatively harmless,” he winked.

“O-Okay,” Hermione mumbled and began to fidget.

“Alright Potter. Leave her alone, would you? It’s only her first day, which I’m sure is hard enough without you lot bothering her,” Amelia scolded.

James looked like he had just noticed Amelia was there and smiled brightly. “Hey Bones. Good summer?”

Hermione was, once again, extremely grateful towards Amelia for getting her out of an uncomfortable situation. Maybe it wasn’t so bad for her to accept her friendship after all.

“Yeah, just ducky. Thanks,” she replied dryly and crossed her arms. “Now would you please just leave her be?”

As James opened his mouth to make a retort, Professor McGonagall arrived. Hermione let out a sigh of relief at the sight of her. Even though, at this point, Hermione was expecting it, the younger version of her Transfiguration professor was another shock for her. Her tight bun was jet black, the lines around her eyes were still there, but much less prominent and her lips were a bit more full in her youth.

At the sight of McGonagall, James sank back with his group and left Hermione and Amelia alone. She opened the door for the students and they filed into the classroom. The two girls grabbed a seat right in the front of the classroom together while the four boys filled the seats all the way in the back. Hermione felt relieved that she would not be near them during class.

“Aren’t they just a lovely bunch?” Amelia jerked her head back towards Sirius, James, Remus and Peter. “Well,” she added quickly “Lupin isn’t so bad. He’s a Prefect; kind of quiet actually. I don’t know how he got mixed up with those guys, to be honest.”

Hermione noticed, as she spoke about Remus, a slight blush appeared on Amelia’s cheeks and couldn’t help but wonder if she had a bit of a crush on him. If she did, Hermione thought it rather sweet.

Maybe I can try to get them together, she thought. No, I can’t, she quickly reminded herself. I’m pretty sure that would fall under the category of ‘meddling.’

“They’re a bit much,” Hermione shrugged. “But they seem pretty harmless. Just your typical teenaged boys.”

She reached for her bag, pulled out her book, a quill, ink and some parchment and waited for class to begin. Soon all of the seats were filled, Edgar and Otto sat behind them, Alice and Dorcas sat across from the girls and Rita and Sturgis sat behind them.

“Alright, Hermione?” Edgar asked as he sat down.

Hermione turned around and offered a smile at the two boys. “Alright. You?”

“Excellent. I saw you knock Snape down this morning. What did he do?” Edgar laughed and Otto joined in.

“I didn’t knock him down!” she quickly denied. “He ran into me. It was an accident.”

The two boys completely ignored that. “And then you attacked Black. I think you’re my new favorite person,” Otto smiled widely.

Even though it was completely ridiculous, Hermione couldn’t help it and laughed softly. Otto was just one of those people who had a very infectious smile. You couldn’t help but smile back.

“Alright, settle down,” McGonagall called out. Hermione immediately turned around and focused her attention to the front of the room.

Her first Transfiguration lesson went quite the same as it did in her original sixth year. McGonagall spoke briefly about their N.E.W.Ts, explained how they would be required to do work with non-verbal spells and they began learning and practicing Conjuring spells. Being that she had already done this, Hermione was the first student who managed to conjure a fluffy white rabbit onto her desk.

Amelia looked over with her mouth wide opened. “How – How did you manage that so quickly?” she whispered.

Hermione shrugged. “I don’t know. I – I just did it?”

“Excellent job, Miss Devereux. Ten points to Ravenclaw,” McGonagall smiled at her.

Hermione beamed back at her. She couldn’t help it and felt that familiar feeling of satisfaction and happiness that came along with the approval of her professors and – even though she had never admitted it out loud – the jealous looks that her classmates had on their faces. A part of her truly did revel in being the first to accomplish a task in her classes.  

By the end of the class most of the students had managed to conjure something; rabbits, toads, ravens. Those who did not were told to practice for homework, those who did had none. Hermione put her things back in her bag, stood up and waited for Amelia to collect her things.

“What do you have next, Amelia?” she asked.

“Muggle Studies.” Her answer was muffled due to the fact that she was bent over stuffing a book into her bag.

Hermione felt disappointed that she would be attending her next class on her own. She was beginning to cling to Amelia like a life preserver since she had helped her out of some many uncomfortable situations. Her brow furrowed and her lips puckered.

“Oh,” Hermione said sadly. “I have Arithmancy.”

“Did I hear someone else is actually taking Arithmancy?” Sturgis said from behind her.

Hermione knew that was not exactly a popular class and was grateful that it looked like she would have at least one familiar face in there with her.

“I am. You’re taking that as well?” she asked happily.

He nodded. “Yep.”

“Oh good. Sturgis can show you the way then,” Amelia said as she stood up and hoisted her bag over her shoulder. She looked a bit frazzled. “I better run. I don’t want to be late.” She eyed Hermione carefully. “You’ll be alright?” 

She reassured Amelia that she would be perfectly fine and Amelia quickly rushed off towards her next class.

“Shall we then?” Sturgis asked.

Hermione and Sturgis walked together to Arithmancy with the awkward small talk which happens between two people who had just met. He asked her what she had thought of Hogwarts this far, if she preferred it to being homeschooled and what she thought of the students. She answered the best that she could.

When they arrived to the classroom Sturgis asked if Hermione would wish to sit with him for the class, as they would be the only two Ravenclaws continuing on with the subject. She agreed and they took a seat in the middle of the classroom. At that point there were only two other students in the class; two Hufflepuffs she did not recognize. After a few more moments she heard others enter and turned around to see who it was. She found herself looking right at an exact copy of Harry’s eyes. It was Lily who was accompanied by Remus. She swallowed loudly.

Lily and Remus walked past her and Sturgis laughing. Hermione gawked at Lily. She was stunning. Lily had long auburn hair, large, sparkling green eyes, a pale, clear complexion and rosy cheeks that most girls would trade their soul for. As they sat down in their seats, Hermione heard bits of their conversation.

“-can’t Rem. He’s just – just… an arse!”

Remus chuckled softly and shook his head. “I know Lils, but he’s nowhere near as bad as he used to be. Really, what would be the harm in one date? You’d finally shut him up.”

Ahh. They must be talking about James.

Hermione was fascinated and continued to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“Not happening. So you can tell James you’ve tried, but you couldn’t talk me into it,” she said knowingly.

“He – he didn’t. He didn’t ask me to talk to you,” Remus stuttered.

Lily let out a loud laugh. “Sure he didn’t.”

Hermione tried to stifle her laugh, so they didn’t know she listened to them and bent down to collect her books. When she sat back up she saw that Sturgis was chatting up a pretty blonde – one of the Hufflepuffs and felt someone walk by her. When she looked to see who it was, once again, she was blown away by a younger version of one of her former professors. She thought at this point she would have been used to it, but as she saw each of them, she was just as captivated every time.

Professor Vector greeted the students, had them open their books and began to give a lecture. Hermione scribbled across her parchment vigorously as she took her notes. She knew she really didn’t have to be as thorough as she normally would have been, but the habit of being an over-zealous student was etched far too deeply at this point in her life.

When class was dismissed, Hermione stretched out the cramp in her hand and put her things away. She heard Remus tell Lily he would see her later and then she jumped when someone said her name.

“Hermione Devereux, right?”

Hermione looked up slowly; it was Lily.

“Yes, that’s me.” She tried to give the most natural smile that she could. This was the most nervous she had been yet.

Lily smiled warmly at her.

“Hello. I just wanted to introduce myself. I’m Lily Evans,” she said kindly.

“It’s lovely to meet you,” Hermione responded in a high pitched voice.

Bring it down a bit, Hermione.

“Nice to meet you, too. How are you finding Hogwarts so far?” she asked.

Overwhelming. Heartbreaking. Confusing. Terrifying. “It seems really great. Everyone has been very nice.”

“That’s good to hear,” Lily smiled. “Well I know that you probably will have friends in your own house, but if you need anything, I would be more than happy to help,” she offered.

Hermione realized that people had not exaggerated. Lily truly was a genuinely kind and warm person. Even in the thirty seconds that had spoken, Hermione felt very comfortable with her. It seemed that Lily just had that way about her.

“Thank you, Lily. That is very kind of you,” Hermione said.

“I don’t want to seem rude, but I really must be heading off to my next lesson. Again, it was a pleasure meeting you. I hope you like it here!”

As Lily pulled her bag onto her shoulder, Hermione thanked her once more. Sturgis took off without her – she assumed he chased down that Hufflepuff he was flirting with – and Hermione stood in the classroom alone. She took out her time-table and saw that she had a free hour before lunch and was more than grateful. She needed a bit of time alone and decided she would spend that free time out in the grounds having a walk. She needed to mentally prepare herself before her first lesson with Snape.



A/N - {Pointless-Proclamations} EM! My wonderful, lovely, amazing, incredible, awesome beta-friend! Thaaaank you for everything!!




Gorgeous CI by TreacleTart@tda



2nd September 1976

Hermione sat in the cool breeze under her favorite tree and stared out across the Black Lake, deep in thought. Her first day had been pretty intense so far. As she watched the sunlight sparkle on the water like millions of diamonds, she tried to wrap her head around everything that had happened so far. It was completely surreal that she had a row with Sirius, as she had always got on quite well with him when he was alive in her time. Although sometimes, when he was older, a glimmer of the immature prat did shine through, she realized, but he definitely grew up quite a bit between now and when they originally met – or when she would first meet him might be more accurate. She supposed being locked away in a dank, dark, six by nine cell, surrounded by Dementors for twelve years would cause someone to grow up mighty quickly.

It wasn’t just her minor tiff with Sirius that had her feeling uneasy, it was meeting James and Lily and, most of all, her incident with Snape.

How on earth am I going to gain his confidence if he doesn’t want me anywhere near him? I mean, clearly he wants nothing to do with me. He’s told me twice now to leave him be…

She brought her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs and took a deep breath. She began to feel discouraged already and started questioning her decision to blindly use that Time-Turner.

Why did I even do this? What exactly am I hoping to accomplish here? I’ll give it a week. If he doesn’t let his guard down, even slightly, after a week… Well. I’m just going to tell Dumbledore I need to go back.

Hermione happened to look down at her watch and felt her heart drop. She had been out there so long that she missed lunch and now had exactly fifteen minutes to make it to Potions on time.

“Shit!” she exclaimed, quickly grabbed her belongings and ran back to the castle.

She arrived to the Potions classroom out of breath, with seconds to spare and ran through the door. Professor Slughorn – who was just as round, yet less wrinkled and had a full head of auburn hair – smiled happily at her.

“S- Sor – Sorry. Pro – Professor. Got – Got lost,” she huffed.

As she glanced around the room, and saw that almost every student sat in groups of three, she froze. She felt like a bucket of ice water had just been dumped over her head and her hands shook slightly.

Amelia – who turned around and mouthed, I’m sorry – sat with Alice and Edgar. Lily and Remus were with a brunette, who also wore Gryffindor robes. Otto, Dorcas and Sturgis sat behind the other Ravenclaws. There was a table of three Hufflepuffs and another table comprised of three Slytherins. There was one student who sat entirely alone with this things spread out in front of him. Hermione knew that would be where she would end up, there was no one else in the class to sit with.

“Not to worry, Miss Devereux, not to worry,” he assured her. He gestured towards the empty seat, next to the boy who seemed to be completely content sitting on his own and horribly irritated that he would have company. “Go ahead and take a seat next to Mr. Snape. You didn’t miss anything my dear.”

As Hermione walked slowly to Snape’s desk, her heart was in her throat. He moved his books over to his side, with such force, that she could tell that he was not at all happy about his seating arrangement. Gently, she pulled her seat back and quietly sat down, not quite sure if she should say hello, I’m sorry or something. She gave him an uncomfortable smile; he glared at her and turned his head. Yep, he’s definitely not thrilled. Quickly she looked away and began to clumsily pull out her things. As she dropped her potions book to the ground, she earned an annoyed grunt from the sullen boy sitting next to her.

“Wonderful,” he grumbled.

Hermione’s body stiffened. All she did was drop a book. Why was that such a horrible offense? She turned towards him and gave him an icy look of her own. She had dealt with enough today and was not going to let him intimidate her the entire lesson. As she narrowed her eyes, he at first looked a bit surprised, then rolled his eyes at her and fixed his gaze on Professor Slughorn. Hermione uttered a quiet, Humf, and looked at Amelia, who gave her an apologetic smile as her eyes flickered between Snape and Hermione.

Slughorn began the lesson speaking about N.E.W.Ts, which seemed to be the theme with her lessons that day, and gave them their assignment. Just as she had in her time, she would work on Draught of Living Death although, unlike her original first lesson, there would be no Felix Felicis given out as a prize.

Drats… Hermione thought. She could have really used it.

The students were all given the go-ahead to begin and Hermione left to gather ingredients in the back of the room with the rest of the students.

“I’m so sorry, Hermione,” Amelia whispered as they dug through the cupboard together. “There was really nothing I could do. You weren’t at lunch and I wasn’t even sure if you were taking Potions or not. I tried to save a seat just in case, but they just both sat down and I couldn’t tell them to leave,” she said all in a rush. Her eyes begged for forgiveness.

Hermione smiled at her. Even though she was disappointed, she didn’t want Amelia feeling badly. She had no reason to. She had only known Hermione two days whereas Edgar was her brother – her twin no less - and Alice had been her dorm mate for years.

“It’s absolutely fine, Amelia, really. No need to apologize,” she reassured her and Amelia immediately perked up.

When she brought her things back to her seat, she saw Snape scribbling furiously in the margins of his textbook. Obviously she knew what he was writing. It would be the directions that Harry would come to follow twenty years from now. He stopped writing abruptly and whipped his head around to face her.

“What?” he snarled.

Hermione jumped slightly from the tone of his voice and then her lips pressed down into a thin line.

“Nothing,” she said through her teeth.

This had all become ridiculous. She had not shown any animosity towards him thus far and felt she did not deserve the treatment she had received from him. She crossed her arms tightly and tapped her foot on the ground. She was very irritated with his attitude towards her.

“If you think you’re going to copy my work, think again,” he sneered.

Hermione completely stilled and felt anger travel through her body at that remark. She had never copied so much as a single letter of anyone’s work. Ever. How dare he think she would cheat that way. She let out a humorless laugh.

“Please. Copy your work? Trust me. That will certainly not be a problem,” she hissed.

Oh. He is infuriating! How could he be so – so… callous towards a complete stranger?

He gave her a snort in response then angled his chair so that his back semi-faced her and continued to scribble notes in his book.

Hermione was outraged. Her face felt as if it were on fire as she stared at his back in complete disbelief.

Merlin. He might be worse now than he was as an adult!

“Is everything alright, Miss Devereux?” Slughorn asked.

Hermione jumped violently, she had not realized he walked up to her desk.

“Oh! I’m sorry sir. Yes. Yes everything is perfectly alright,” she smiled up at him.

Slughorn eyed her empty cauldron – which did not even have a flame lit under it yet – suspiciously and plastered a phony smile on his face.

“It is perfectly understandable for you to feel a bit behind, with coming from being home-schooled. If you’re having trouble, feel free to have Mr. Snape help you.”

She looked to her left and saw his back tense up.

“He is the best in your year – possibly the school – at potions. You won’t go wrong with him as your partner,” Slughorn boasted. She heard a girl snort loudly from across the room.  

It took all of the strength Hermione had not to roll her eyes at her professor. Instead, she smiled widely at him.

“Thank you, sir. But that won’t be necessary. I’m sure I will be able to handle this on my own.”

“Very well, Miss Devereux. Then I suggest you get started,” he scolded her.

“Yes, sir,” she responded and immediately got to work.

Hermione opened her textbook, pointed her wand under the caldron to light it and began. She threw in the Infusion of Wormwood a little more forcefully than she normally would have and crushed up her asphodel root angrily. Snape worked next to her in a similar fashion. The tension between the two students was almost palpable. She glanced at him from the side of her eye and noticed he had an intense scowl on his face as he was adding the powdered roots into his cauldron. She sighed heavily and took out her silver dagger to begin cutting up her Sopophorous beans. Before she pierced the first one with the edge of the blade, she remembered what Harry had done and how it extracted more of the juices. She was determined to make a better potion than Snape and began to crush them. The juice seemed to pour out. She smiled smugly as she glanced to her left once more and noticed he was cutting his.

“How are you doing that?” Snape asked sharply, still with the scowl on his face.

Hermione tore her eyes from his, returned them back to her desk and continued crushing. She did not answer him.

She felt him staring at her and tried to ignore it while she juiced three more beans. Snape exhaled loudly.

Why should I help him after he was so rude by assuming I would copy from him?

“I said, how are you doing that?” he repeated. Still in an unfriendly tone.

But maybe if you do offer your help, it will help him warm up to you a bit, she reasoned with herself.

“Crush them. You produce more juice,” Hermione answered quietly.

Snape mumbled something she couldn’t make out and returned to scribbling into the margins of his text book once more.

The two of them went back to working in silence at about the same pace and both began stirring their potions at around the same time. Hermione added in the one clockwise turn after the seven counter-clockwise ones. She heard Snape take in a breath as she did.

“How did she…” he whispered softly to himself. Hermione had a difficult time keeping another smirk from forming on her face.

At the end of the lesson, Slughorn came around to check on the final results. When he arrived at Hermione’s cauldron, he smiled happily.

“So, I see you took advantage of Mr. Snape’s assistance, then?” he chuckled.

Hermione tensed at the accusation and felt her face heat in anger. As she opened her mouth to tell him that she most certainly had not received any help from her partner, Snape spoke up next to her.

“She did that on her own, Professor. I did not help her,” he nearly mumbled.

If she did not see his lips moving, she would have never believed that Snape had just said that. Her mouth remained opened for a few more moments. She looked at Snape, who shrugged and kept his eyes on his own cauldron in front of him. Slughorn looked at Hermione with a familiar spark in his eyes.

“Oh ho. Very good, Miss Devereux. This potion is perfect! I think ten points to Ravenclaw will do!” he exclaimed.

“Thank you, sir,” she muttered embarrassedly.

To say she was stunned was an understatement. She assumed she would have had to really work hard to convince Professor Slughorn that she had not received any help with her work. She never thought, after Slughorn asked her, that Snape would have spoken up for her. Maybe being there wasn’t a lost cause yet…

Slughorn awarded ten points to Snape, after looking over the contents of his potion, and checked on the remaining students’. Hermione vanished hers, cleaned up and then collected her belongings. As the bell rang and she stood up, she dawdled for a moment while Snape packed his bag. They had spent the entire lesson being rather short and rude with one another, and she wanted to let him know she appreciated what he had just done for her. Needless to say, she was nervous.

“Thank you,” she said sincerely when he stood up.

When he turned around after she thanked him, the hostility in his expression was gone for a brief moment. He cocked an eyebrow, looked at her oddly and then the unfriendliness in his eyes returned.

“Whatever,” he said, threw his bag on his shoulder and quickly walked away from her.  

Hermione’s shoulders slumped as she watched him leave.

Well. So much for thinking he was warming up a bit, she thought dejectedly.

Amelia walked up next to her. “Ready to go, Hermione?” she asked while looking concerned for her.

Hermione quickly fixed a smile on her face. “Yep!” she replied brightly.

Neither Hermione nor Amelia had another class for the rest of the day, so they decided that they would go back to the common room and get whatever homework they were assigned finished before dinner. Amelia had a foot long essay on the advantages and disadvantages of automobiles verses brooms for her Muggle Studies class, while Hermione only had a bit of Arithmancy homework to do.  They sat in one of the many desks against the bookshelf-wall in the Ravenclaw common room and worked quietly together for a little over an hour. Hermione found it exceptionally difficult to concentrate on her work the entire time.

She couldn’t help but think of the not-as-unfriendly look Snape had given her and what he said to Slughorn. Was she beginning to make some head-way with him? Or was that just his way of becoming even for the advice she had given him during class? The fact that he was, once again, sitting all by himself bothered her. She couldn’t understand how someone who had attended the school for six years, at this point, would not have at least one friend. Was his isolation of his own volition? As she thought of the man who was her Professor, she thought it was a good possibility that the boy he was now may have chosen to be a bit of a loner during his time at school. As opposed to being ostracized and cast aside by his classmates.

Well. I don’t care how hard he tries to shut himself away from others; I’m not going to let him. He really should experience what it is like to have someone care for you. Maybe I was being a bit rash with giving myself a week’s deadline. If he is keeping himself at a distance from everyone, a week would most certainly not be enough time. This may take a while…

As the sun began to set, Hermione’s stomach rumbled loudly. Amelia looked up from her work and smiled. “Yeah, I’m hungry too,” she laughed.

Hermione blushed at Amelia hearing that and cast her eyes down.

“It’s nearly time for dinner anyhow. Why don’t we put this away for now, and then after dinner, we can go up to the library to finish,” Amelia suggested.

“Sounds good to me,” Hermione agreed.

The girls closed their books, put their belongings in their bags and hoisted them over their shoulders. Otto and Edgar saw them from across the room and ran over to join them for the walk down to the Great Hall. When the four of them reached the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, Otto draped his arm around Hermione’s shoulders.

“So what do you think so far, Devereux?” he asked her.  

Hermione could tell this was more of a friendly gesture than Otto coming on to her, so she did not squirm away from him and continued to walk with his arm around her.

She smiled up at him. “Not too bad. The Professors seemed really nice so far – really focused on our N.E.W.Ts. But all in all, it was alright.”

“We thought you ran off when we didn’t see you at lunch. What happened?” Edgar asked from the other side of her.

She supposed it was just the novelty of being a new student that was gaining her all of this attention from members of the opposite sex. She most certainly didn’t have that kind of attention in her time.

“Oh. I had a free period before lunch and thought I would take advantage of the nice weather. I was sitting out by the lake and completely lost track of time,” she explained.

Otto squeezed her a little tighter. “We were hoping that Black would have bothered you again,” he said seriously.

Hermione stopped walking and pulled away from him; a crease formed between her eyebrows. “And why were you hoping that?” she snapped.

Otto smirked. “Well, after what we saw during breakfast, we were sure you’d really give it to him if he were to pull something again. We just hoped it would be enough to take him out of the match next month,” he chuckled.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I’ll make sure to keep that in mind for next time,” she replied dryly.

Amelia and Edgar laughed at Hermione’s tone and she couldn’t help but to join in with their laughter as they walked into the Great Hall together.

As they sat down at the table, Hermione couldn’t help herself and peeked over at the Gryffindors. James, Sirius and Peter were laughing loudly, she assumed at Remus, as he scowled at them and slapped Sirius upside the back of his head. Hermione, who found that very amusing, laughed and quickly turned it into a cough. Amelia raised her eyebrows at her; Hermione shook her head to indicate that it was nothing.

While they filled their plates Alice and Dorcas joined them and began to fill plates of their own. Everyone sat and talked about their first day and began to plan a party for tomorrow evening in the Common Room to celebrate their first week back at school, as tomorrow would be Friday and they would not have to be up early for classes the following morning. Hermione tried to join in as much as she could. She laughed, offered some opinions on which types of food and drinks to get for the party and answered questions about what she thought of different students or professors. She began to really like her new housemates and friends.

She looked down the table and saw Rita and Lockhart sitting entirely too close together; Lockhart fed Rita a bit of food from his fork. Hermione had to suppress a gag.

“Ugh. They’re ridiculous sometimes!” Amelia exclaimed. She was looking at them with her nose scrunched up in disgust.

The rest of her friends heard Amelia and all turned their heads towards the lovebirds.

“Oi! Some people are trying to eat here!” Otto yelled.

“Seriously. I’d like to actually keep my dinner down, thanks!” Edgar added.

Hermione, the other girls and Sturgis all laughed at the indignant look on Lockhart’s face and the look of pure anger on Rita’s.

“Sorry gentleman!” Lockhart called back.

“No one said you had to watch!” Rita hissed.

Alice snorted. “How could we not? It’s like a train wreck. We can’t look away!”

Dorcas giggled and nodded.

Rita rolled her eyes at her friends and focused her attention back to Lockhart. They began to snog.

Hermione couldn’t help but notice how forced their interactions seemed to be with each other. It was like Rita and Lockhart were trying to prove a point by being so lovey-dovey with one another. Almost as if they were putting on a show.

“Hermione, are you ready to leave? I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” Amelia said as she grabbed her bag from under the table.

With one last glance at the couple, Hermione reached and picked up her school bag as well. “Yeah. Even if I wasn’t finished with dinner, I would be finished with it after seeing that,” she laughed.

“Library?” Amelia asked.

“That’s fine with me,” Hermione replied.

When she stood up and said goodbye to her classmates, Alice asked Amelia something, so Hermione looked around the hall for a moment while she waited. She turned around, and as was becoming habit, scanned the Slytherin table. Once again Snape sat on his own while reading a book that laid open next to his plate. His hair hung down and his nose was nearly touching the page. He must have sensed that someone was staring at him; he looked up and locked eyes with Hermione.

Instead of quickly looking away, she maintained eye contact with him and offered a small smile. Snape didn’t smile back, but he didn’t glare at her either. As she stared into his black eyes, she felt her heart rate pick up. There was something about him that completely intimidated her, and she hated it. Even though he did not seem to have many friends, he just seemed so sure of himself. Almost confident. He continued to hold her gaze and she felt her face slowly heat up. She went to open her mouth, to say hello or something, but before she could, he – once again – rolled his eyes at her and went back to reading his book.

Hermione jumped when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. “Merlin!” She clutched at her chest.

“I’m sorry,” Amelia laughed. “I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you ready to leave?”

“Yes. I’m – I’m ready,” she said.

Hermione and Amelia made their way to the library. Amelia told her how Alice wanted to borrow some of her notes from Muggle Studies and that was why she stopped her before they had left.

As the girls walked on, they began discussing their futures and possible career opotions for after Hogwarts. Amelia told Hermione that ever since she was a little girl she wanted to work for the Ministry and Hermione felt her heart skip a beat, yet she shrugged and stated she wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do yet. For a moment, Hermione almost thought of discouring Amelia from thinking of a future at the MInistry. She thought that maybe if Amelia did not work there, it may end up sparing her life. Before the words left her mouth she reminded herself, once again, that she was not to meddle and, as much as it pained her, agreed that working for the Ministry would be a wonderful career option.

When they reached the entrance, Amelia stopped Hermione.

“I hope you don’t mind, but I told a friend that they could join us.” Amelia’s face went bright red and she shuffled her feet.

Hermione smiled. “A friend, huh? And who might this friend be?”

Amelia avoided Hermione’s eyes and twisted her fingers. “Er – Well. Remus Lupin asked if I wanted to meet up in the Library later and I told him yes, but that you were going to be with us and he said that was fine. I hope you don’t mind,” she rushed out.

Oh she does have a thing for him! Hermione thought happily before the realization of her meeting Remus really registered with her. She suddenly felt a bit sick to her stomach.

“I don’t mind at all,” Hermione assured her.

Amelia thanked her and rushed into the library with Hermione trailing behind. They walked to the back of the room and saw that Remus had already found a table and was sitting working on his homework. He looked up as the girls approached and moved some of his books out of the way so they could join him.

“Hi Remus,” Amelia said shyly. “This is Hermione Devereux,” she gestured towards Hermione.

Keep it together, Hermione. You’ve already spoken to James, Lily, Sirius and Snape. You can handle one more for today.

“Pleasure to meet you, Hermione,” Remus said in a soft voice.

“N-Nice to meet you, too,” Hermione nearly whispered.

“Please,” Remus pulled out two chairs next to him. “Have a seat.”

Amelia gave Hermione a sideways glance, smiled and took the seat to Remus’ right – it was one that was a bit closer to him. Hermione took a seat to his left and scooted it a little bit further from him.

“I’m sorry about Sirius,” Remus smirked as Hermione sat down.

That was the last thing Hermione really wanted to talk about at the moment. Her stomach did a somersault.

“Oh. You don’t have to apologize for him,” she mumbled.

“I know,” he exhaled. “But after so many years – let’s just say I’m used to doing it by now.”

Hermione giggled and thought of her time spent at Grimmauld Place before her fifth year. Even then, anytime Sirius did or said anything inappropriate, it was always Remus who apologized while Sirius told him to loosen up a bit.

The three of them all worked together quite well. Hermione helped Remus with some of their Arithmancy work while Remus, who had a Muggle mother, helped Amelia with some of her Muggle Studies homework. Hermione noticed every so often Remus and Amelia would look at one another and blush, brush their arms against each other or laugh at private jokes – it made Hermione feel surprisingly lonely.

She found herself liking the younger version of Remus as much as she did the adult version. He was sweet, funny, soft spoken and brilliant. Definitely someone who she could easily see herself becoming good friends with, which saddened her. She knew that when she returned home that Remus would be dead. It made her wonder if she should distance herself from him while she was here, so she didn’t have to go through the pain of losing him all over again once she returned.

After a few hours, they were finished and began putting their books away. Suddenly they heard loud voices and laughter coming through the library.

“Son of a… I told them not to bother us,” Remus grumbled. “I’m sorry girls.” He gave them each an apologetic look.

Hermione’s stomach dropped. She knew exactly who they were.

“Reeemus! Oooh Reeeemus!” Sirius called out.

“Come out, come out and plaaay!” James sang.

Amelia placed her hand on Remus’ arm. “Do you want me to hex them?” she offered.

Hermione laughed quietly. “I would be more than willing to help,” she added.

Remus fidgeted and slung his school bag over his shoulder. “I appreciate the offer, but that’s alright,” he chuckled. “I’ll go head them off so you don’t have to deal with them.” He looked at Hermione. “I’m sure you’re not in the mood for Sirius again, am I correct?”

“Not particularly, no,” Hermione said.

“Then I better go. Bye girls!” he said and quickly walked away.

Amelia and Hermione whispered goodbye then Amelia pulled Hermione by her arm behind a bookshelf. She cocked an eyebrow at Amelia once they were hidden.

“I figured we should wait here for a moment. Just to make sure they’re gone,” she explained with a shrug.

“Good idea,” Hermione giggled.

They stood quietly, peered between a space in the shelves and watched the three boys. James put Remus into a head-lock while Sirius ruffled his hair.

“Knock it off!” Remus shouted.

James and Sirius laughed while allowing Remus to stand upright and Sirius started to look around hopefully.

“Where are the girls? I thought you said you were studying with Bones and Devereux,” he whined.

Hermione stiffened. She hoped that he wouldn’t start looking around for her, because she was not sure she would be able to keep her temper in check with him, if he started to come on to her once more today. She had to figure out a way to make it perfectly plain that she was not interested and not playing hard to get.

Remus tugged on the cuff of his robes and avoided eye contact with Sirius. “Erm – They left, mate. Been gone a good few minutes before you came storming in. Said they were tired or something,” he lied.

Oh Remus. You are just the most wonderful person ever. I definitely owe you one, she thought thankfully.

She watched Sirius’ lips turn into a pout while Amelia stuffed her fist in her mouth to keep from laughing at his expression. Hermione shook her head.

Soon the boys left, the girls waited a few more moments and then returned to the Common Room for the evening. They didn’t realize it, but they returned rather late. The only ones who were still awake and sitting near the fire were Otto, Edgar and Sturgis. They tried to convince the girls to stay up with them for a while more, but Hermione and Amelia were exhausted. After ten straight minutes of begging, the two of them said a final goodnight and trekked up to their dormitory.

They each got ready for bed quietly, as not to wake up the other girls, and climbed into their beds. Hermione closed the curtains around her four-poster bed and flipped onto her stomach, she sighed heavily. As she tried to fall asleep, the entire day seemed to replay before her eyes. Sirius Black had a crush on her – which was beyond bizarre – and Snape had done her a favor, albeit a slight one, but a favor none the less.  

She thought about how he did not know about crushing the Sopophorous beans in potions class until she had advised him to. That was when he wrote it down in his potions book. An odd feeling came over her. I was the reason he had that written in? That means that if it weren’t for me, Harry would have never won the Felix Felicis… Harry would have never received that memory from Slughorn and Ginny, Neville, Ron and I could have died the night the Death Eaters broke into the castle without it. The sudden realization took the breath from her. Was I destined to return to this time? What else will I unintentionally change?


A/N - {Pointless-Proclamations} Em! Em! EM!! Thank you so, so, so much for your enthusiasm, love, encouragement, help, suggestions and wonderful beta-ing!! You're the bestest hpffbff anyone could ask for! ;) 


3rd September 1976

Now you may have begun to realize that something – or things – you’ve said or done had already impacted the future you have come from. Do not panic or do anything foolish. It is very important that you do not - and I repeat - DO NOT try to reverse it. Obviously your lack of judgment had already caused you to alter the timeline, therefore, you must let it be. It is safe to assume that you have let yourself, not only be seen, but interact with individuals in the past. Now you must deal with the repercussions of your actions. 

Hermione sighed heavily while she pinched the bridge of her nose. She picked her head up from the book she was reading – the one which seemed to appear just for her, in the Ravenclaw Common Room, her first night there – and looked out the window of the library. The sky was lightening. Her eyes burned from lack of sleep; she had been awake all night. After tossing and turning for a few hours she had given up, decided to get dressed and went down to the library, where she figured she would have less of a chance of someone catching her reading a book about time-travel. Her revelation that previous evening had shaken her horribly and she needed answers. 

She became quite frustrated as she leafed through the pages of the book. Most of it only applied to someone who traveled back in time on their own accord. What she tried to find was a section pertaining to someone who had been told they needed to go back. Someone who was – for lack of a better word – ordered to go back in time. Just as she was about to give up, she found what she was looking for, towards the back of the book. It was a small passage, one which made her mouth go dry and her stomach drop. 

If someone had sent you into the past, and you did not venture into it on your own volition, it is very possible that you were meant to change what you have altered – or will alter. Even if you are trying not to, just by being in the past – and coming into contact with people there – you are meddling. Try, if you can, to live your life as normally as possible. Follow your instincts, but do not change anything intentionally. It is a fine line to walk, but one you must. There is a reason you are where you are. And as much as you may be tempted, do NOT, by any means, tell anyone anything about the future you have come from. Doing so could cause disastrous results.

Hermione looked up and focused her attention out the window once more. The sun was now above the mountains and casting a yellow glow over the misty grounds. “So it is possible,” she whispered to herself, her eyes unfocused. “There are things that have happened, which might not have happened if it weren’t for me.”

It was an alarmingly difficult concept for even someone as bright as Hermione to wrap her head around. There were things in her life that she had experienced which may had been a direct result of her already being in the past. The thought made her a bit dizzy and she laid her head down on her arms on the table.

Maybe it’s more… She thought. More than just saving Snape’s life. Maybe there is a larger purpose here.

Just then she heard footsteps approaching. Her head snapped up; she quickly shut her book and stuffed away and out of sight. As she was bent over with her head still in her bag, a soft voice she immediately recognized called out.

“Hello, Hermione. What are you doing here so early?” Remus asked as he stood in front of her table.

Hermione sat up and smiled sadly. “Couldn’t sleep,” she shrugged. “So I thought I would come here to read. I didn’t want to disturb any of my housemates,” she half-lied.

Remus gestured towards the chair across from her. “May I?”

“Of course,” she answered.

The scrape of the chair on the floor, in which Remus pulled out, rang through the library like thunder in the early morning silence of the castle. Hermione bit her lip and her pulse began to race. This would be the first time she would find herself completely alone with one of the students she had been close to in their adult years. She blinked rapidly, as she suddenly begun to feel her eyes prickle as she thought of how the boy who sat smiling across from her, would not be alive when – or if, she thought sadly – she returned home.

“Is everything alright, Hermione?” he asked kindly.

Hermione took a deep breath and slouched down in her chair. “Yes, I suppose. It’s just a bit surreal; being here,” she admitted honestly.

Remus folded his hands on the table between them and gave her a sad, lopsided smile. “I guess it would be quite a shock coming from home and being thrown into this environment. But I promise, you’ll adjust quickly and if you need anything, I’m usually around.”

“Thank you, Remus. That’s very kind of you,” Hermione choked out.

“Now,” Remus exhaled. “I hate to be a complete stick-in-the-mud, especially when you’ve had a rough night, but as a Prefect, I do have to tell you that you’re not,” he blushed and cast his eyes down. “Exactly allowed to be out of your dorm this early.” Remus shrugged and looked as if he felt terribly for telling Hermione off when she so obviously was feeling low to begin with.

Being that Hermione was a Prefect in her own time, she was more than aware of the rules of Hogwarts. She just did not expect that anyone else would have been up and out of their dorms that early as well. She could see that he was looking extremely uncomfortable and she figured that he was not exactly as at ease as she had once been enforcing those rules. The corners of her mouth lifted slightly.  

“I’m sorry, Remus.”

“No worries, Hermione. You didn’t know,” he said.

Hermione raised her eyebrow and smirked. “So what are you doing out of bed this early then?”

Remus’ eyes widened a bit and he turned even redder than he had been just a moment before. He gave her a smirk of his own and cocked his head a bit to the side. “Prefect’s privilege,” he joked.

“Must be nice,” Hermione giggled.

“Oh yes,” Remus laughed, “nothing like doing rounds at the crack of dawn. I’m living the dream, Hermione,” he announced with his arms spread wide open.

Hermione laughed her first full out belly laugh, in what felt like ages. It felt fantastic.

After the two of them regained their composure, Remus began to fidget. He was twisting his fingers and his cheeks took on a reddish hue once again.

“Erm… Hermione? Can I – I mean – I have a question for you,” he mumbled.

She sat straight up, her brow furrowed in concern. “What is it, Remus?”

Remus opened and closed his mouth a few times, looking like he was having extreme difficulty forming his question. Hermione did not have the slightest idea of what he wanted to ask her. With her being new to Hogwarts, she couldn’t imagine what he would need her help with. After a few more moments, he seemed to have worked up enough nerve.

“Has – er – has Amelia… Has she possibly mentioned me at all?” he nearly whispered, then looked around, assumingly making sure no one else was around.

Hermione didn’t know how, or if, she should answer. She wasn’t sure if this would be a prime example of interfering, sticking her nose where it didn’t belong, or altering the future. If she told Remus the truth, that Amelia did seem to fancy him, then it would be because of her if they proceeded to take their friendship to the next level. But then, maybe it would have ended up happening anyhow. Maybe, by her telling Remus of what she knew, she was only just speeding up the process. Obviously she knew that their relationship, if they did end up having one, would not last after Hogwarts, so why should she begrudge him a little bit of happiness while he’s there. Especially since she knew that years of solitude and despair were just around the corner for him.

She chewed on the inside of her lip and felt her mouth curl up despite herself. “Possibly…” she answered cryptically.

Remus' head whipped up and there was a new light in his eyes. “What did she say!?” he nearly shouted at her, then covered his mouth quickly. “Sorry,” he apologized through his fingers.

It was quite strange to be sitting there and having a normal teenage conversation with Remus, Hermione thought. Also, it was wonderful to see him so carefree and having nothing more to worry about than if a girl he liked felt the same way. It filled her with the strangest assortment of emotions – sadness, glee, loss, and a bit of anger. The anger was due to the fact that he would very soon lose that  - and she thought the term very loosely – innocence of adolescence. He, just like she, Harry and Ron had, would be forced to grow up very quickly in the near future.

Hermione smiled and let out a small laugh – to Remus, he would have never known all of those thoughts had just run through her head – and told him it was more than alright.

“Well, she hasn’t said anything specifically.” She watched his face fall. “But,” she continued quickly, “I do get the feeling that she may be wishing for more than friendship with you.”  

Remus perked up, “What makes you say that?” he pressed.

Hermione cocked an eyebrow, “This stays between us, ok?” Remus nodded. “I don’t know, Remus. Just the way that she seems to light up when she sees you, or talks about you. The way you two were last night; blushing, brushing against one another, joking together. I just get the impression that she fancies you, too.”

“You really think so?” he asked eagerly.

She let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes, Remus.”

Remus smiled widely and seemed to sit up a bit straighter. Hermione suppressed a laugh.

“Why don’t you ask her to be your date for the first Hogsmeade visit?” Hermione suggested.

Remus scrunched his eyebrows together, he looked a bit confused. “How do you know about those?” he asked, surprised.

Wonderful, Hermione. Watch what you say, you’re new here, remember? You’re not supposed to know things like that.

She squirmed a bit uncomfortably in her seat. “Oh – erm – Uncle Albus,” she flinched, “mentioned the trips to me,” she lied.

Remus chucked, “I keep forgetting that you’re related to Professor Dumbledore. He’s just so – I don’t know – Dumbledore-y. It’s hard to picture him as a normal person, with family and everything.”

Hermione knew exactly what Remus meant. There was such an aura of power and greatness that radiated from the man that to think of him having something as mundane as a niece like her was kind of outlandish.

She gave Remus a half-smile in response and shrugged. “I can see that, I guess.”

Hermione and Remus then both agreed that they should get going, as they both realized it was time for breakfast. She knew it was a mistake, becoming close with Remus, but it was just so easy to get along with him – she couldn’t help herself.

As they walked into The Great Hall together, she glanced towards the Gryffindor table and saw Sirius’ eyes narrow considerably as he hit James’ shoulder and pointed to her and Remus. James wolf-whistled and gave Remus a thumbs-up; Sirius looked like he was grinding his teeth.

Hermione heard Remus exhale loudly. “I better get over there, before they come over here,” he grumbled.

Hermione smiled apologetically. “That’s probably for the best,” she agreed. “Thanks for keeping me company this morning. I had a nice time.”

“Yes, it was nice,” he smiled back.

She bumped her shoulder into his. “And don’t forget what I said about Amelia,” she winked.

Remus' eyes widened as he looked around quickly, making sure no one overheard. Hermione giggled, waved goodbye and made her way to her table to sit down next to Amelia.

As she sat down, Amelia did not greet her or look away from her plate.

Uh oh, Hermione thought. She realized how it must have looked – her missing this morning, only to reappear looking very friendly with Remus. Hermione knew she had to smooth everything over quickly.

“Morning, Amelia!” she said brightly and began to load herself a plate of bacon and eggs.

Amelia looked at her from the side of her eye and sat up very straight. “Good morning,” she replied stiffly.

Yeah. She is definitely not pleased with me.

“How was your morning?” Hermione asked, acting as if she did not notice the indifferent – almost cold – way Amelia was treating her.

Amelia swallowed a bit of toast and still would not look at Hermione. “Fine.”

Hermione reached for a piece of toast and began to butter it. “I found out something interesting this morning.”

Amelia snorted and it sounded like she muttered, “I’m sure you have.”

Hermione fought the smile that was tugging at her lips. “Well if you don’t want to know that a certain Remus Lupin was asking about you, then I guess I’ll just keep it to myself.”

The effect of that sentence was instantaneous. Amelia choked and whipped her head around to face Hermione – who had to bite down on her lip to keep from laughing. “WHAT –“ Amelia shouted, blushed then cleared her throat. “I mean – what did he have to say?” she asked, feigning indifference.

“Oh nothing really,” Hermione teased airily. She was amazed at how comfortable she was; joking and having girl talk with Amelia.

Amelia playfully hit her arm. “Come on, Hermione. What did he say?”

“Alright,” she resigned. “He may have eluded to being interested in asking you on a date. Possibly to our first Hogsmeade trip.” Amelia smiled widely and blushed profusely. “But I did not tell you anything,” Hermione added.

“Tell me what?” Amelia winked.

Both girls then tucked into breakfast and afterwards, on their way to Ancient Ruins, Amelia seemed to have a new spring in her step. 

Ancient Ruins was another one of those classes not many students went on with after their O.W.L.s. When the girls entered, there were only a handful of students already seated. Lily and Remus – he turned around and smiled brilliantly at a blushing Amelia – were sat in the front desk to the right, Sturgis and Edgar were behind them, two Hufflepuffs were in the front desk in the middle and – Hermione’s heart skipped a beat – Snape was sitting in the front desk to the left with a Slytherin girl she did not recognize, sharing the desk with him.

As Hermione and Amelia took the center desk – Next to the other two Ravenclaws – Snape looked back at Hermione. Once again, he did not full out glare at her – Progress, she thought – but his expression was not overly friendly either.

After Hermione gathered her belongings for class, and placed them on her desk, she thought that she had already been bringing enough attention to herself; by answering questions correctly, making a perfect potion in Potions class and the things that had happened with Sirius. She decided she would lay low for the hour. She took her notes, kept mostly silent and only raised her hand twice. She glanced at Snape a few times during the lesson, but he seemed completely unaware. He kept his head down and scribbled non-stop throughout the entire class. She was very impressed, but altogether not surprised, at the level of commitment he had towards his studies. It was definitely something to be admired, she found herself thinking.

When the bell rang, and the class shuffled around, preparing to leave, she debated on whether she should try speaking to him again or not. She stood and waited for Amelia to finish packing and looked over her shoulder towards Snape. He had just stood up, threw his bag over his shoulder and looked directly at Hermione. She gave him a tentative smile, which unsurprisingly he did not return. He opened his mouth, as if he were about to say something, when she felt an arm around her shoulders.

“What do you have next, Devereux?” Edgar smiled at her.

Hermione felt a wave of disappointment wash over her, as she turned her head back around and saw Snape’s robes swoosh by her. Her shoulders dropped the tiniest amount as she forced a smile across her lips.

“Oh – next? Erm,” she pulled out her time-table to double check.

Her eyes scanned across her courses for Friday: Ancient Ruins, Free Hour, Charms – w. Hufflepuff, Lunch, Defense Against the Dark Arts – w. Slytherin. She felt that dropping sensation in her stomach once again as she read which house she would be sharing her DADA class with that afternoon. It was another opportunity to make a complete fool of herself in front of Snape and the rest of her classmates; as that was how her luck had been running thus far.

Edgar, who must had read her schedule along with her, squeezed her and then let go. “Free period, too? Excellent! We were all thinking of heading out to the lake, want to come with us?” he asked.

Hermione looked at the hopeful expressions on Amelia, Edgar and Sturgis’ faces, took another glance at Snape’s retreating figured and sighed. She thought about maybe going after him – accidentally bumping into him, perhaps. But figured that would most likely not be in her best interest. Maybe a little leisure time outside with her house mates wouldn’t hurt.  

“Sure,” she agreed. “That sounds lovely.”

As Hermione and her new friends all sat out near the lake, she looked up at the sky. It was cloudy and looked as if the sky would open and pour rain upon them at any moment, but that did not seem to deter any of them from remaining outdoors. The temperature was lovely – probably one of the last warm days left of the year.

She had taken her cloak off nearly five minutes after arriving to their destination as she found herself beginning to sweat and rolled her sleeves up to her elbows. She took a quick peek at the inside of her forearm and was pleased to see her glamour charm still appeared to be working, yet felt a peculiar emptiness in its absence. There was no scar engraved in her. The sight of her blemish-free arm made her begin to feel a bit homesick. The Mudblood which was permanently carved into her served as a talisman. It reminded her of who she was, what she fought for and why she was currently sitting around the Black Lake with a group of Ravenclaws in the year 1976.

“Oh Hermione?”

Her attention was brought back to the present by the snide tone of Rita calling her name. She looked over towards the grinning blonde and tried with all of her strength to answer in a civil manner.

“Yes?” she called back.

Rita smiled sweetly and scooted nearer to where Hermione was sitting with Amelia, Edgar, Sturgis and Otto.

“We were just wondering, why now, all of a sudden, did you decide to grace us with your presence?”

Hermione went to respond with her – by now routine – answer.

“Because my parents – “ But she was cut off by Rita.

“Yes, speaking of your parents. If you are related to Dumbledore, why did they not just send you to Hogwarts to begin with? What do they have against your,” she smirked, “Uncle, which would cause them to homeschool you instead? Was there some sort of falling out within your family?” Rita’s eyes burned into Hermione’s. Hermione had never seen her so eager for information.

Although her backstory was completely fabricated, Hermione was astounded by the personal questions Rita had just bombarded her with. Normal people did not inquire about someone’s home life after only knowing them a few days. She is nothing more than a nosey gossip, Hermione thought.

As Hermione’s mouth opened in utter astonishment, Amelia – once again – spoke up for her.

“That’s enough, Rita.” She said coolly.

Rita kept her eyes wide and innocent. “I didn’t mean anything by it, dear. It’s just that inquiring minds want to know.”

Hearing Rita say the same thing that she had told Harry, before she printed fabricated information about him in the Daily Prophet, caused Hermione’s blood to boil. She placed her hand on Amelia’s shoulder. “It’s alright,” Hermione said and looked Rita directly in the eye.

“First of all, what you are asking me is quite personal – and before you jump to any conclusions, no. That does not me that there had been a falling out between my parents and my uncle.” Her eyes narrowed. “But if you must know; my family and I resided in France and did not want to offend my Uncle by sending me to Beauxbatons. That is why I was homeschooled. And like the whole school already knows, my parents are away on business in the states, which is why I am here now.”

Rita’s face betrayed nothing but polite interest, except for her eyes. Her eyes, once again, had that hungry curiosity in them. Hermione became a bit self-conscious because it seemed as if Rita looked right through her. 

“So I am assuming you are fluent in French then?” Rita asked politely. Hermione wanted to hit her.

“Yes,” she said through her teeth. “Do you speak it as well?”

Rita full out pouted. “Sadly I do not, yet it is a beautiful language. Would you mind indulging us with a little, teeny-tiny sentence?”

Hermione rolled her eyes and thanked her lucky stars that her actual parents had her learn French when she was a small child. She actually was quite fluent in the language.

She exhaled loudly and looked directly into Rita’s eyes. “Very well then. T'as une tête à faire sauter les plaques d'égouts. Je déteste tout de toi. Si je le pouvais, je te maudirais si fort que tes aïeux le sentiraient.” *

Rita’s eyes flashed dangerously as she smiled sweetly at Hermione. “Like I said, truly a beautiful language.”

***

Later on, after Charms class, as they all made their way to The Great Hall for lunch, Amelia fell behind and whispered to Hermione. “What did you say to Rita? In French, I mean.”

Hermione chuckled softly and let a mischievous grin spread across her face. “I told her she had a face that could blow off manhole covers and if I could, I would hex her so hard that her ancestors would feel it.” She had left out that she had also told Rita she hated everything about her, because as far as Amelia was concerned, Hermione had only just met Rita and it may seem a bit odd for Hermione to hate her so strongly so soon.

Both girls exploded into a fit of laughter, which they barely had contained even as they sat down at their table and filled up their plates.

After lunch, when the girls arrived to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, they found a crowd gathered around the door. As they craned their necks to see what the holdup was, Edgar pushed through everyone and came to a stop facing the two of them.

“Class is outside today,” he huffed. His hair was disheveled and his robes were twisted from squeezing through their classmates.

Hermione raised an eyebrow at Amelia, who shrugged.

“Well that’s different,” Amelia said.

They made their way outside – Hermione was relieved to see it hadn’t rained like it looked like it was going to earlier – and found Professor Crabtree waving them all towards him, very eagerly. The stocky wizard, who wore a bow-tie and kept pushing his glasses up from sliding off his nose, clapped his hands together once everyone had arrived.

“Good afternoon, class!” He had a very pleasant voice which did not sound anything like Hermione would have imagined it would. It was smooth and very deep. Exceptionally soothing. “I thought that since this is probably one of the last nice days we’ll have for a while, that we would have class outside today,” he explained.

Someone scoffed quietly near Hermione. She turned her head to see who was being so rude to this young teacher and felt her heart freeze as she looked into a pair of unfriendly black eyes. Snape boldly looked back at her almost as if challenging her to speak to him. She cocked an eyebrow at him, watched his pupils dilate the tiniest amount then she brought her gaze back on the Professor.

From that brief exchange, she noticed just how deep and full of sorrow his eyes seemed to be. She just had to find a way to break down some of his walls. There had to be a way. There had to be something she could do or say that would help shed a little more light on the puzzle who was the teenage version of her former Potion’s professor.

She was vaguely aware of Professor Crabtree giving instructions for the lesson, but found herself completely distracted. It truly began to bother her that there seemed to be so much pain in him, that he tried to hide with a permanent scowl and by isolating himself.

The Professor clapped his hands together again, which caused Hermione to jump and bring her attention back to the class.  

“So let’s break into pairs and see if you can manage pulling off a bit of non-verbal magic!” Crabtree exclaimed.

The poor guy, Hermione thought sadly. He seems so excited to be teaching. It’s really a shame he won’t be back next year.

Amelia placed her hand on Hermione’s forearm. “Partners?” she asked hopefully.

Hermione agreed with a smile, yet her thoughts were still on the enthusiastic Professor. She really hoped nothing horrible happened to him that caused him not to be back the following year. He seemed like a nice enough young man.

The students all started to pair off and spread out; facing their partners. Hermione and Amelia stood under a few trees, right on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. She looked around and saw most of the students looked a bit nervous and unsure of themselves, just as they all had in her time – during her first lesson dealing with non-verbal magic. The only student who did not appear apprehensive, which surprisingly did not shock her, was Snape. He almost looked bored, she thought.

Snape stood across from the same Slytherin girl he had sat with during their class that morning. He stood with his shoulders hunched over just a bit and levitated a small twig in the air. His partner, on the other hand, kept running her hand through her chestnut hair and looked extremely nervous.

Hermione felt the corner of her mouth turn up in spite of herself and couldn’t help but to admire the way Snape seemed so sure of himself, for a teenager who appeared to spend most of his time alone. She realized that he almost had that same air of confidence that was present in the adult version she had known.

“Alright, class,” Crabtree called out from somewhere in the middle of them all. “You’re going to work on disarming your partner without speaking the incantation aloud. Only disarm them! Got it?”

A few students – she suspected the Slytherins – sniggered and sounded like they had no intention of merely disarming their partners.  

“You may begin!” he announced.

Hermione turned back to face Amelia, who had her wand out and ready to go.

“Ready, Hermione?” she smiled.

“Ready!” Hermione called back.

She watched as Amelia flourished her wand a few times, yet hers remained firmly in her hand. Amelia, she could tell, started to become a bit irritated. Her face grew red and her teeth were clenched as she tried again and again to remove Hermione’s wand without speaking. Hermione shouted out words of encouragement with each try.

“I think I felt it move that time, Amelia! You’ve almost got it!”

All around her she could her students swearing or mumbling under their breath as they all tried to disarm their classmates. She looked away from Amelia’s increasingly frustrated face and allowed herself to watch Snape for a moment.

His sleeves were pushed up to his elbows and a scorching intensity was in his eyes. He waved his wand again and again, each time with no results. She could tell he was becoming angrier with each failed attempt; his teeth were bared and she even thought she heard him growl at one point. She shivered slightly and found herself glad that she was not on the receiving end of that glare and growl. Truth be told, he looked pretty frightening.

Suddenly Hermione’s wand went flying out of her hand and she turned her head back around to see Amelia standing there sweating with a smug smile on her face. She was the first one to have done it.

“Well done, Miss Bones!” Crabtree called out. “Five points to Ravenclaw!”

Amelia smiled even wider and wiped her brow with the back of her sleeve. “Thanks, Professor!”

Hermione yelled her congratulations to Amelia and prepared herself for her turn. She knew that she would have to pretend to struggle with disarming Amelia non-verbally, lest she bring more attention to herself. She wasn’t quite sure how she would do it, since performing simple spells without speaking had become second nature to Hermione by that point. Never the less, she took a deep break, squared her shoulders and pointed her wand at Amelia’s.

Actively not doing magic, while appearing to be trying, proved to be extremely tiresome. Hermione, as she held back the spell to disarm, which was almost begging to come out of her, began to sweat like the rest of her classmates. It almost felt like holding in a cough, or a sneeze. Like she was trying to suppress something her body did naturally, of its own accord. It almost became painful.

Amelia, who must have assumed Hermione was just having trouble with the spell, cheered her on as Hermione had done for her.

After nearly ten minutes, Hermione could not hold off any longer. She flicked her wand and watched as Amelia’s sored high into the air. As hard as she tried not to be, she was still the person to do it the quickest.

“Merlin’s sweaty socks,” she mumbled under her breath as Crabtree exclaimed excitedly.

“Miss Devereux! Excellent, excellent work! Ten points to Ravenclaw!” he shouted.

As she mumbled her thank you to the professor, she felt her cheeks heat up as the entire class looked at her. Some with wonder; others with pure jealousy. One person in particular had an unfathomable look in his black eyes. It wasn’t quite openly hostile, as she had become used to, it was more… impressed might had been the closest word she could think of to fit his expression. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it made her feel a small flip in her stomach.

***
A/N. - I apologize, I – just like Rita – am not fluent in French at all.

T'as une tête à faire sauter les plaques d'égouts. Je déteste tout de toi. Si je le pouvais, je te maudirais si fort que tes aïeux le sentiraient. - "You have a face that would blow off manhole covers. I hate everything about you. If I could, I would hex you so hard your ancestors would feel."

The translation was done by a very kind French reader, since what I originally tried to translate through google (You have a face that could blow off manhole covers. I hate everything about you. If I could, I would hex you into the middle of next week), did not translate well. :)


3rd September 1976 - Evening




Later that evening, Hermione decided to walk to the library. She had spent at least fifteen minutes convincing Amelia that she really just wasn’t in the mood to party that evening, since a wild one was raging in the Ravenclaw common room. It wasn’t that she did not want to be around her new housemates, she just needed time to be alone. She had to come up with a substantial plan; something that would help her get close to Snape. She wasn’t quite sure how she would do that, but she figured she would have a better time coming up with something in the one place that always seemed to help her think clearly.

Hermione stepped out of the common room and began slowly making her way down the stairs. The sky was clear that evening and the moon was shining brightly. It was nearly full, which gave the illusion of everything around her being saturated in an eerie tint of grey. The air was chilly and she suppressed a shudder and she continued her walk through the corridors. Curfew wasn’t for another hour, so she had plenty of time to clear her head and think.

The halls were quiet, deserted and dark.  She walked slowly and ran her hand along the stone wall, once again feeling exceptionally alone. She missed Harry. She longed for Ron. Until that moment, she really hadn’t given them much thought; it was too painful not knowing when, or if she would see them again. Were they worried about her, or had they even realized she was gone?

She shivered delicately as a chill ran through her. She stopped and wrapped her arms around herself as a single tear fell from her eye. Once again she was wondering what she had been thinking – using that Time-Turner. The war was over; they had won. She and Ron had finally made some sort of headway towards a relationship with one another. Why had she been so quick to possibly give that all up? To maybe live through another war – the first war. Would this all even end up being worth it in the end? Not only would she possibly lose her friends from her time, there were new people – such as Amelia and Remus – she was becoming closer to who she knew she would definitely lose.

Before she could stop them, tears began flowing freely from Hermione’s eyes and down her cheeks. She spotted a bench near a window and sat down for a moment, hoping to calm down and collect herself. She had certainly been through a lot, but before now, she was never completely alone during any of it. Ron and Harry had almost always been by her side, through thick and thin; she didn’t quite know how to handle doing something of this magnitude with no one to really confide in.

Hermione’s head, which rested in her hands, snapped up suddenly when she heard someone clear their throat next to her. She blinked a few times, attempting to clear her eyes of the blurry moisture. Her heart seemed to stop when she finally saw who it was awkwardly standing next to the bench she sat on.

Looking down at her with a mixture of pity, annoyance and apprehension was one of the people who she fretted over moments before – Severus Snape.

Not quite knowing what to say, Hermione wiped her cheeks hastily and offered a small smile. “Erm… Hello,” she whispered, her voice still thick from crying.

Snape cocked his head to the side and shifted his weight – almost as if he were considering changing his mind and turning away from her. Instead he let out a loud sigh and leaned up against the wall next to her.

“Hello,” he surprisingly responded.

Hermione didn’t know how to proceed. It was the most cordial he had been to her up until that point. It was almost like being near a wild beast; one wrong move and it could attack. She nodded her head and waited for him to speak again – or to not. Regardless, she was leaving the next move up to him.

She noticed him shuffle his feet, almost as if he were nervous and she couldn’t help but wonder if it was because she was new, because he was socially backward, or because he had limited experience speaking to girls. Especially girls who had obviously been crying. As that thought crossed her mind, a sniffle escaped her.

Snape cleared his throat again. “Er… Every – everything alright?” he mumbled.

To say she was shocked would be the understatement of the year. Hermione was downright flabbergasted.

She didn’t answer at first – she was still so shocked that he had actually seemed to care enough to not only stop when he saw her crying there, but actually ask if she were alright. It was definitely the last thing she would had expected.

The longer she sat there, the more he looked at her like maybe she wasn’t all there in her mind. When the look on his face finally registered with her, she snapped herself out of it and answered.

“Oh, yes. Yes, I - I’m fine,” she lied.

To her utter astonishment, he snorted. “Yes, because people who are fine, as you said, always sit alone in dark corridors crying,” he scoffed.

Hermione’s heart skipped a beat; she was completely taken aback and her eyes widened considerably, “Excuse me?” she asked.

Snape rolled his eyes at her and a familiar sneer formed on his face. She wondered if he even realized that he did that.

“You’re openly sobbing in the middle of the hallway," he gestured around them both. "I wouldn’t exactly call that fine,” he went on.

Hermione huffed and turned her body away from him. His snarky demeanor irked her; she could not understand why he bothered to stop at all.

“Why do you care?” she bit back with.

Snape laughed humorlessly; his eyes narrowed. “Who said I did?”

Crossing her arms tightly and sighing, Hermione brought her body around to face him. Severus Snape might have been the most insufferable person she ever met. For some reason, even these small interactions made her blood boil, yet also intrigued her. She had never experienced someone who was so hot and cold - and that’s taking into consideration her experiences with Ron. Snape seemed to be another person who was going to give her emotional whiplash.

“Then why even bother stopping to talk to me to begin with?” she asked with a mix of ire and genuine curiosity.

It seemed Snape was not expecting that question, or just didn’t know how to answer it himself. He continued to tug on the cuff of his sleeve and looked away from her, out the window.

“I – I, er… I don’t know,” he almost whispered and sounded like he was legitimately wondering the same thing.

Hermione was emotionally exhausted and just did not have it in her to deal with his rapidly changing moods that evening. With a little more venom that probably necessary, she snapped, “Why don’t you just leave then?”

Snape looked surprised by her tone. His eyebrows raised halfway up his forehead before he scowled at her.

“Fine!” He hissed and began to stalk off.

After walking about five steps, he stopped abruptly and hung his head. She saw his shoulders slump.

“You – erm – you were quite impressive in Defense today,” he complimented her with his back still turned.

“Oh!” she gasped in surprise. Out of all the things he could have said to her while walking away, that certainly wasn’t what she was anticipating.

As she started to awkwardly thank him, something caught her eye across the hall and behind him. She thought she saw a boy’s shoe and the swish of a robe for a moment. Her heart sank when she heard whispered voices – they apparently thought they were being quite secretive.

You stepped on my foot!” one of them complained.

“I told you that we can’t both fit anymore,” the other one retorted.

It was James, and who she assumed was Sirius, under the invisibility cloak that she had found herself under numerous times in her life. The same cloak, she realized, that currently was stored away in the beaded bag under the bed in her dormitory.

She heard a sharp intake a breath come from Snape and her pulse began to quicken as she watched him narrow his eyes.

“Did you hear that?” he asked.

She knew she had to lie. “No,” she responded quickly.

He looked at her suspiciously and started to walk in the direction of where she assumed the two boys to be standing. Nothing but trouble could come from the situation unfolding in front of her.

“Shhh! Shut it!” one of them hissed from under the cloak.

Hermione shook her head at the nonexistent subtly those boys had. She nervously bit her lip as Snape continued to walk towards them, his arm outstretched.

“What are you doing?” she asked, still trying to pretend like she heard nothing.

Snape took another tentative step forward, looked back over his shoulder and shushed Hermione. She felt like a bomb was about to go off and only she knew which wire to cut, yet no one would let her make the attempt.

Just as she watched him grasp at, what looked like was, thin air, she heard an annoyed grunt.

“Oh bloody hell, fuck it – Petrificus Totalus!” Sirius exclaimed as he threw the cloak off of both him and James and hexed Snape, who went ridged and fell backwards with a very audible thump.

Hermione jumped right up off of her bench, took her wand from her robes and pointed it directly at Sirius’ smugly smiling face.

“What is your problem, Sirius Black?!” she screeched.

As she bent down to perform the counter curse on Snape, Sirius chuckled – she felt a rush of heat quickly rise up both sides of her face.

“Come on, Devereux. Don’t be sore! We were just having a laugh, that’s all,” he said.

Hermione nearly growled and gave him the best death glare that she could muster; it seemed to have the desired effect. Sirius took a step back and James reached up and ruffled his hair nervously – until then he was completely still and looked shocked at Sirius giving up their little secret.

She let out a short, shrill, bitter laugh. Snape hadn’t done anything. He was just there! If that were the way that Sirius just had a laugh, as he said, Hermione found herself very disappointed in this boy who became a man she cared very much about.

“Just leave,” she said quietly while Snape came to and began to stir.

“Come on, Padfoot. I don’t want Lily finding out that I’m causing trouble again. I’m trying to get in her good graces; for real this time,” Hermione heard James plead with Sirius. “Sorry, Devereux,” he then said to her. “We don’t want any trouble. Sirius was just being – erm…”

She looked back and gave a tentative smile to James as he ruffled his hair again; a nervous habit she assumed. Hermione was glad at least one of them had their heads on straight.

“I understand, Potter,” she said gently. It felt strange for her call him Potter, yet he used her surname, so she felt it was only appropriate.

Her attention was brought back to Snape when she heard him groan. He looked a bit confused as he attempted to sit up and then slowly she watched compression dawn on his face as he looked from her, to James, then to Sirius. He bared his teeth, and quicker than she would have thought possible, he was on his feet and drawing his wand.

“BLACK!” he roared.

Hermione flinched at the sound of his anger and the fire in his eyes – he truly could be quite frightening.

Sirius smiled widely, “Yes, Snivelly?” he answered with mock sweetness and pulled his wand out once more.

“NO!” Hermione yelled. She stood up and placed a hand on Snape’s shoulder. He shrugged it off hard; she fell to the ground.

“I’ve told you before, Devereux,” he glared at her. “I do not need nor want your help! Now go!

Hermione felt tears come to her eyes once more - irrational and unexplainable tears. She was so mad her hands began to shake. How dare he speak to her in that way when she had just come to his aid! She could have left him passed out in the hallway, but she did not! And now he would shout at her for trying to help? She was not having any of it. But before she could stand up and do anything about it, James and Sirius had their wands pointed at him.

“What is the matter with you, Snape?!” James shouted, his wand aimed right at Snape’s face.

“Pushing girls to the ground? It’s not bad enough you call them despicable names, but you're going to lay your filthy hands on them now, too?” Sirius also yelled with his wand directed at Snape as well.

It seemed to dawn on Snape, as they screamed at him, that he did in fact knock Hermione down. When he looked back at her once again, she unmistakably saw remorse in his eyes.

“I – I,” he stammered.

Sirius began to mock him. “I – I – I nothing, Snape.” He stalked towards him.

Things started escalating. Hermione had to do something.

“It’s alright, Snape. I know you didn’t mean it,” she said then looked at Sirius. “And that’s enough. It was an accident.”

“But-“ Sirius began to protest, but James stowed his wand away and placed his arm on Sirius’ shoulder.

“Come on, mate,” James said softly; Hermione almost didn’t make the words out. Sirius scowled and reluctantly placed his wand back in his robes. “Sorry, Devereux,” James sadly smiled at Hermione. “If you’re really alright, we’ll leave. Like I said before, we really don’t want any trouble,” he looked pointedly at Sirius, “right, Sirius?”

Hermione heard Snape snort behind her and she found herself fighting her lips as they threatened to pull upwards in amusement from it. She looked back over her shoulder to give him a silencing look then brought her attention back to James; she returned his smile. Relief washed over her like a cool summer rain on a hot day as she realized that the fight, which seemed inevitable, seemed to dissipate – just as she hoped it would.

“No worries,” she breathed, the relief even evident in her voice.

She nearly laughed while looking from Sirius and Snape; both boys were standing in almost an identical pose. Each of them had their arms crossed over their chests and looks of pure hatred plastered on their faces as they continued to stare the other down. She had a feeling that the small respite they seemed to be having would end up being extremely brief if one of them – or both of them, had not left the immediate area soon.

Feeling the tension mounting once again, she quickly said goodbye to James and Sirius, “Potter. Black,” she nodded at each in turn. She then spun around and made to reach for Snape’s arm, “Come on, why don’t we walk,” she suggested.

It was that small gesture that changed everything.

Snape nearly growled at Hermione, who stood frozen in shock as he bellowed at her, “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE, DEVEREUX?!”

Hermione blinked rapidly and took a small step back.

The rational part of her knew that he must had been embarrassed that she had seemed to come to the rescue for him, which was why he then lashing out at her. She knew Severus Snape was a prideful man, and assumed he was the same as a teen. And having a girl – a new one never-the-less, save him from Sirius Black and James Potter, she figured, had to infuriate him.

That was the rational part of her – the logical part, which thought all of that out.

The emotional part of her. Well, to be honest, she was pretty frightened of him at that moment. The rage in his scorching black  eyes would be enough to make even the strongest of men cower, she was sure. She was scared, she was mesmerized, she was awed, she was intimidated, she was impressed and most surprisingly of all, she was becoming a little captivated by him.

Of course with James and Sirius being chivalrous Gryffindors, they were not ones to stand idly by as Snape screamed at Hermione that way. Then when he shoved her once again, it seemed all hell had broken loose.

Before Hermione was able to fully comprehend what was going on, she saw the jets of light flying from all the boys’ wands. James and Sirius worked together, yet Snape seemed to be holding his own against the two of them. Even amongst the chaos, Hermione couldn’t help but notice the grace in which he casted his spells, and the precision in every move he made. It was extremely impressive and, the thought came unbidden into her mind, sort of beautiful, too.

One of the spells - she wasn’t exactly sure which one of them it came from - wizzed right in front of her face; it took her out of the small trance she seemed to be falling into. With the speed and reflexes of the experienced fighter she was, Hermione was on her feet, with her wand in hand, in no time. She had to stop this, or one of them were bound to become seriously hurt.

Hermione hurried, trying to make her way between the three of them and stop them from fighting one another. Just as she was casting a shield charm around her, she felt a searing pain on her right shoulder. Everything went quiet and she had an extremely sickening feeling in her stomach as she looked and saw what looked like a chunk of flesh missing from her. Blood started to pour out.

“Black! Potter! Snape! What is the meaning of all - “ she heard McGonagall yell as she ran up the hall. Spotting the blood gushing from Hermione’s arm seemed to have stopped the Transfiguration teacher right in her tracks. “Mr. Snape, get her to the hospital wing. Now,” Hermione heard McGonagall say quietly, yet firmly. “Black. Potter, I want an explanation. With me. Immediately,’ she ordered.

“Yes, Professor,” they answered in unison.

“Mr. Snape, you will come to my office the moment you leave Miss Devereux with Madam Pomfrey.” Snape nodded his understanding. McGonagall took another look at Hermione and pinched the bridge of her nose; she looked very tired and extremely disappointed. Her lips were nearly nonexistent they were stretched so thin. “Detention. The four of you. Every Saturday for one month,” McGonagall informed them all, before leading James and Sirius away.

Hermione, who was exceptionally woozy, felt strong, yet gentle hands lift her and carry her down the hall.

As they traveled, she fought to keep her eyes opened, due to the loss of blood she was experiencing. She winced when Snape seemed to stumble which caused her to be jolted a bit in his arms. Like it was coming from the other end of a long tunnel, she heard Snape apologize at her inward hiss of pain.

They came to a sudden stop, and even in her befuddled state, she judged they were still about half-way from the Hospital Wing. Hermione had no idea what he was doing, but she recoiled slightly when she saw him take out his wand and point it at the gaping hole in her shoulder.

Her eyes fluttered closed at the intense and strange sensations invading her wound. It almost felt as if it were being suctioned and caressed by a soft, cool breeze at the same time. The effect was immensely soothing.

She realized, as she heard Snape sound like he was partly singing and partly chanting something in a language she did not understand, that he was healing her. Never before had she seen or heard a spell like that. She was astounded.

Right before her eyes closed for good, she looked at his face - it was set in concentration. She weakly lifted her arm and wrapped her hand gently around his.

"That was beautiful," she whispered with a slight slur to her speech. "Thank you."

She managed to catch a softening in Snape's eyes she had never seen before followed by jerky nod of his head. She couldn't help the smile that spread out across her face, then everything around her faded.

 

***

A/N - Hi there! So sorry for how long it has taken me to update. RL got in the way a bit, sadly. :( But finally there is some substantial Hermione/Snape interaction in this chapter! *flails arms* I hope you all enjoy it!! And Em, my BESTESTHPFFBFFSOULSISTERTWIN, thank you so, so much for everything!! *hugs* <3

P.S. Hope you all don't mind that this was a "bottle episode" lol. But this chapter was essential in pushing the plot forward a bit. ;)



4th September 1976

 

Even though Hermione hoped they wouldn’t, it did not take her friends long to find out what happened with James, Sirius and Severus. Hermione awoke the following morning to Amelia and Remus sitting near her bed, both with identical looks of worry on their faces. She sat up slowly, due to her shoulder still being rather tender, and groaned.

“I’m fine,” she whined, instead of giving a proper greeting. The last thing she wanted was for anyone to fuss over her.

“Sure you are,” Amelia said sarcastically. “Just felt like kipping in the Hospital Wing for the night then?” She raised a challenging eyebrow.

Hermione rolled her eyes then reached for her glass, which was sitting on her bedside table. Her mouth felt sticky and hot, so she welcomed the room temperature, stagnant water.

Amelia clicked her tongue impatiently. “I told you that Snape could be dangerous, Hermione.”

Hermione choked and dribbled a bit of water down her chin, which Remus kindly siphoned away with a swish of his wand. How did Amelia know what happened already? Then she realized, as she glared at him – his red face was a mixture of apologetic and guilty – that Remus most likely told her. Of course James and Sirius would have complained about their upcoming detentions, and the reason for them, when they arrived back to Gryffindor Tower the previous evening.

Her breath came out in an exaggerated huff of aggravation; she kept her steely gaze on Remus, who would not look at her. “James and Sirius blamed everything on Severus then?” she asked in a voice as cold as ice.

Amelia’s brow furrowed. “Wait. So – So Snape wasn’t the one who did this,” she gestured at Hermione’s bandages.

Hermione shrugged – and immediately regretted it due to the sharp pain that shot down her arm. “I’m a little fuzzy on the details to be honest,” she admitted.

Although she was more than aware that it was Severus who caused her to end up in the hospital wing – she remembered George Weasley’s ear and knew that had to have been the same spell he used - she wasn’t lying about her memory of the event being unclear; even if she could tell from Amelia’s expression that she thought Hermione was being untruthful. From the moment Hermione ran in between the boys until she woke up in the hospital wing was mostly a blur. She vaguely recollected placing herself in the midst of the boys’ duel, an intense pain and a lot of blood. After that, everything went blank.

“Hermione,” Remus spoke for the first time. “It wasn’t James or Sirius who did that to you. They don’t use magic like that.” He looked angry as his eyes focused on her injury.

“It wasn’t exactly as if Sirius or James were completely innocent either, Remus,” she spat. Remus’ eyebrows shot up as he leaned back in his chair.

She didn’t know why she was being so defensive of Severus, or why their placing the blame solely on him was making her so angry.

“If it were not for Sirius acting like the arrogant prat I’m starting to know him to be, I wouldn’t be in this state. Period.”

Hermione could feel the heat rising up her cheeks. Amelia placed a hand on Hermione’s calf and asked quietly, “What happened then, Hermione?”

After taking another drink of water, Hermione spent the next quarter of an hour explaining everything to Amelia and Remus. She left out the small detail of James having the invisibility cloak, knowing that Harry would have that in the future, and not wanting a future Ministry employee being made aware of its existence. Not when she knew how vital said cloak was to her, Ron and Harry’s survival in the future.

When she finished, Amelia looked livid, her fists were clenched and her jaw tightened. Remus, she could tell, was embarrassed of his friends’ behavior.

“I’m sorry Hermione. I know they can be completely out of line at times, but honestly, they’re alright once you get to know them,” he tried to convince her.

Hermione smiled sadly; she knew he was right. Sirius was one of the bravest men that she had ever known, which was why she lost her temper so much with the teenage version of him. It was like night and day between the boy and the man. The way he behaved made it hard to believe that he would become a man she cared for very much. The same man who loved and treated her best friend as if he was his own son.

"I'm sure they are, Remus. I'm just not seeing that side of them yet," Hermione explained, trying to ease the tension.

Soon Madam Pomfrey came to check on Hermione and give her more tonics and potions to take for the pain and to replenish the blood she lost. As the pain potion was due to make her extremely drowsy, Madam Pomfrey ordered Amelia and Remus away, assuring them they may come back and visit her later that afternoon.

Amelia promised to return with some books for Hermione to read, so she did not go bonkers while confined to the hospital bed. Hermione thanked her and mumbled a goodbye; the potion seemed to be a fast working one. Her eyes felt heavy and a sense of calm and peacefulness washed over her like a warm blanket. As much as she tried to fight it, her eyes were closed before her friends were out the door.

***

5th Spetember 1976

 

Much to Hermione’s irritation, she was told she must spend one more evening in the Hospital Wing, which meant she would spend her whole first weekend there. It also meant that two days of free time was wasted that she could have spent trying to get to know Severus.

It was very early in the morning, still hours from sunrise, when Hermione was jolted awake suddenly by someone coughing quietly next to her.

Her heart felt like it was about to fly out of her chest as she sat straight up in bed and immediately reached for her wand. For a moment, she thought she was still on the run, sleeping in that tent with Ron and Harry, and thought she was being ambushed by Death Eaters. Jumping out of bed, she pointed her wand directly at the chest of the young man standing in front of her.

Severus’ eyes widened in surprise as he raised his hands to show her he meant no harm. The coldness of the concrete floor beneath her feet and the sight of her former professor, twenty years younger than what she had known, brought Hermione to her senses. She lowered her wand slowly and felt her heart rate return to a normal rhythm, then sat on the edge of her bed.

“I suppose I deserve a welcome like that,” Severus whispered dryly.

There was no denying it, Hermione was confused. She was mildly disoriented from being woken up so suddenly and also had no idea how or why Severus Snape was standing beside her bed, in the middle of the night. She tilted her head to the side as her eyebrows knitted together.

“What are you doing here?” Hermione hissed. “Madam Pomfrey will skin you alive if she finds you!”

Hermione looked anxiously over Severus’ shoulder for any sign that Pomfrey heard the commotion, she was sure she made, when jumping out of bed and nearly attacking Severus. Sitting completely still, she held her breath and strained her ears for any sounds of movement while Severus reached into his pocket.

He flicked wand he whispered, “Muffilato," immediately put it away, then sat on the chair next to Hermione’s bedside table. “There. She won’t hear anything now.”

Hermione shook her head and gingerly shifted her position to face him better. He looked at the ground, out the window, to the objects on the table; he seemed to be trying to look at anything that wasn’t her.

“Severus,” she said sharply. He stiffened. It was the first time she had addressed him by his first name. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she saw the corner of his mouth pull up the tiniest amount when she did. “What are you doing here?” she repeated.

"I - I..." He fiddled with the cuff of his sleeve - a nervous habit she assumed, as she had noticed him doing the same the evening before. "I'm not sure," he said slowly as he looked her directly in the eye.

"Well there had to have been a reason for you sneaking out after hours to come here and wake me," Hermione probed.

She thought she saw a flicker of annoyance flash briefly in his dark eyes followed by a hint of indecision. Why had he taken the risk of earning a detention to come and see her, she wondered.

While she waited for him to respond she drew in a sharp breath. Suddenly she remembered exactly how she ended up in the Hospital Wing the night before.

"You - you carried me here last night, didn't you?" she said so quietly she was surprised by his nod of agreement. "And you healed me, too," she added, not asked.

He nodded once more.

Hermione remembered the entire thing. The strange spell he used to seal her opened wound, the look of worry and determination in his eyes as he worked on her, how cold his hand felt when she wrapped hers around it to thank him, and how surprisingly strong his arms felt as they held her close to him the entire time - until she fainted. Maybe he wasn't as cruel and uncaring as he tried to portray to the world.

"Thank you," she smiled.

Severus' eyes narrowed. "Thank you?" he repeated incredulously. The smile quickly melted off Hermione's face. "Why in the world would you thank me?"

Hermione shrugged. "Well. You brought me here. You stopped me from bleeding out," she stated as if it was obvious.

With a cruel twist to his lips, Severus snorted. "I was the one who injured you to begin with, Devereux."

"Yes, well-"

He shook his head. "How are you - Why are - What is wrong with you?" he spat.

Hermione felt the anger begin to bubble in her chest. What was wrong with her? He was absolutely insufferable!

“Are you always this lovely to people who are genuinely trying to be nice to you?” she asked in a venom filled voice.

“Why are you meddling in my business?” he countered.

The anger was now fusing with irritation. She was becoming more furious by the moment.

You were the one who stopped to talk to me last evening! And you were the one who snuck up here to see me now!” she shouted.

Severus gritted his teeth and gave her a glare scarily reminiscent to the one she had seen on multiple occasions, in the Potions classroom – normally when she had spoken out of turn, or on the occasions in which she would help Neville with his work. However, she did not back down nor let it shake her, as she might have whilst he was her professor. Now she was his peer and she was not going to let him intimidate her any longer.

Hermione inched closer to him and squared her shoulders. “Now I’m going to ask you again, Severus Snape. Why. Are. You. Here?”

He took a deep breath. “Because I needed to see if you were alright!” he growled, seemingly unable to contain himself. Even he looked surprised by his response.

Slowly her indignation towards him faded away and was replaced with pure astonishment. Hermione cocked an eyebrow and observed his embarrassed expression thoughtfully. He cast his eyes to the ground and twisted his fingers. He was truly an enigma. One she was determined to figure out.

“Oh. Well yes. I’m – I’m perfectly fine. Just a little tender, that’s all,” she answered in a small voice.

Severus gave a jerk of his shoulders and a small grunt.

“You’re really not as taciturn as you pretend to be, are you Severus?” she mused out loud.

“You don’t know anything about me,” he responded in a sad quiet voice.

Hermione couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him. He sounded so lonely and broken. It made her want to get to know him and offer her friendship more than she already had up until that point.

Tentatively she reached forward and placed her hand on his shoulder. “So let me get to know you.”

He pulled his shoulder out from under her touch and shook his head.

“You don’t want to get to know me, Devereux. Trust me,” he scoffed.

“Hermione,” she corrected.

They sat in a mutual silence for a few moments until out of nowhere Severus stood up.

“I – I can’t. I don’t need anyone. I don’t want to be your friend!” His tone returned to the unfriendly, cold tone she had been accustomed to.

“But Severus-“ she stood up in front of him.

He looked down at her with a burning look in his eyes she had never seen before; quickly his face rearranged itself into an emotionless mask as he stepped away from her and began to walk away.

“Please. Just – just stay away from me. You’d be better off.”

Severus waved his wand – she assumed he lifted the Muffilato spell – and swiftly made his way towards the door. He stopped for a moment before opening it, looked back at her and opened his mouth, as if he was about to say something. Instead he exhaled loudly, opened the door and left, leaving a thoroughly confused Hermione staring after him.

***

11th September 1976

 

The following week at school passed excruciatingly slowly for Hermione. Severus seemed to be avoiding her at any cost, even to the point where he skived out on Potions class that week. Even though he had been attending their other shared classes, Professor Slughorn had been under the impression that Severus was ill and would not be making it to class. She assumed he was also arriving to the Great Hall extra early for his meals, since would be finished with his food the moment Hermione would arrive and would be gone by the time she sat down.

Amelia noticed Hermione’s sullen demeanor and questioned her about it, which Hermione chalked up to her just being homesick and a bit overwhelmed by being in the new atmosphere of such a large school. She wasn’t completely sure, but it seemed as if Amelia bought her lame excuse.

She started to fear that befriending Severus and ultimately saving his life would prove to be impossible. The only silver lining was their detention that Saturday evening – which James cheerfully reminded her of during Transfiguration class that week, as Hermione had no memory of McGonagall assigning them to her. She hoped that she would at least get to spend her detention with Severus, because she knew there would be no chance of him avoiding her there.

“I still think it’s completely unfair that McGonagall gave you detention along with the boys,” Amelia complained as she plopped down on the couch in front of the fire in the Ravenclaw common room. “It’s not like you were dueling. You were trying to stop them for Merlin’s sake!” This had to have been at least the fiftieth time Hermione had heard that from her.

“I know, but what can I do?” Hermione said, sitting across from her in an armchair.

“Hopefully you won’t get back too late. Bagman managed to nick some Firewhiskey from his brother,” she whispered with a huge grin.

Hermione was still utterly shocked by these students. She couldn’t remember the Gryffindor parties having alcohol like these Ravenclaws seemed to have every weekend. The 70’s were just a different time, she assumed.

“Yeah, hopefully,” she answered half-heartedly.

Hermione checked the time and saw she had fifteen minutes to make it to detention on time. She said goodbye to Amelia and promised she would try to make it to their get together afterwards. Honestly she did not care either way. She knew there would be no way she would be drinking.

She was informed earlier in the week that her detention would be served in the Potions classroom with Professor Slughorn - apparently he had requested to supervise. She assumed it was due to her outstanding work in the class and knew he was probably itching to get a chance to invite her into his Slug Club. Unfortunately she would have to endure that once more in her lifetime, she thought with a heavy sigh.

When she arrived only Slughorn was there, sitting at his desk at the front of the dimly lit classroom. She noticed two rags and an assortment of cauldrons and other supplies were scattered on top three of the desks in the front row. Her shoulders dropped. She didn't anticipate cleaning for her detention.

"Oh Miss Devereux!" He greeted her with a wide smile. "Early, I see?"

"Good evening, sir," she tried to smile back.

"Well take a seat anywhere my dear. I suspect Mr. Snape will be arriving shortly. Then the two of you could get to work."

"Yes sir."

Hermione reluctantly made her way to the table she and Severus shared her first week, sat down and waited for her instructions.

"I have to say, Miss Devereux, I was a bit disappointed upon hearing the news of your detention -- and Mr. Snape's for that matter," he tried sounding stern, yet he offered a toothy grin.

"I'm sorry, Professor. Hopefully it won't happen again," she mumbled and felt herself blush. After all she had been through, she still hated the thought of disappointing one of her professors.

"Oh ho! Speak of the devil and he shall appear! Good evening Mr. Snape," Slughorn called towards the doorway.

Hermione felt a chill run through her. This would be the first time she would be face to face with him since nearly a week prior. She froze and remained facing forward.

"Professor," he greeted as she heard his footsteps grow closer.

Severus sat in the desk furthest from her; he did not so much as look in her direction.

"Now that you've both arrived-"

"You mean it's just us, Professor?" Severus asked with just a touch of relief to his voice.

Slughorn laughed. "Of course, dear boy. Professor McGonagall thought it would be… er – more constructive if you were separated from your Gryffindor friends during your detentions."

"They're no friends of mine," Severus mumbled.

"We did not want a repeat of what happened last weekend," Slughorn finished, acting as if Severus did not speak. "But just between us," he stage whispered, "You're better off with me. Rumor has it Professor McGonagall has them cleaning bed pans in the Hospital Wing. No magic," he winked again.

Hermione couldn't help herself and giggled picturing the looks on Sirius' and James' faces when hearing what their punishment would be. She glanced at Severus and saw that he had cracked a smile and she assumed he was imagining the same thing. When he looked at her, however, the smile quickly left his face; he immediately looked away.

Professor Slughorn then assigned the pair items to clean - Hermione would be tackling scales, stirring sticks and vials. Severus would be doing the cauldrons. For the following month, they would continue to clean all of the items, even the spares which normally rested in the storage cupboard and did not see any action in the classroom.

As Hermione scrubbed a particularly filthy scale she tried to work out a plan as to how she could corner Severus after detention, since she could not exactly speak to him in front of their professor. She hadn't come up with anything concrete and was almost settling on placing a full body bind curse on him, but decided that would most likely earn her a few more weeks of detention.

She watched him out of the corner of her eye a few times throughout the evening; he meticulously cleaned every last inch of the cauldrons nonstop. He didn't stop, stretch, rest or look away from the items in front of him the entire time. He really did seem to be going out of his way to pretend that Hermione did not exist.

After nearly three hours Professor Slughorn cleared his throat. "Alright, alright. I think that will do for this week."

Hermione was grateful as she put down the rag and the stirring stick she was cleaning, and stretched out her arms, flexing her cramped fingers.

"Don't worry about putting everything away, I'll take care of that for you," Slughorn said kindly.

"Thank you, sir," Hermione and Severus said at the same time, then both turned to look at one another. Hermione gave a half-smile which Severus replied by snorting and rolling his eyes.

Slughorn eyed them both with a bit of something close to suspicion in his eyes. "Right. Well, off you go then."

As Hermione said goodnight and turned to leave, she saw Severus basically run from the classroom. She went to go try to catch him, but right before she reached the door Professor Slughorn stopped her.

"Oh Miss Devereux. A word please?"

Hermione felt the disappointment run through her as she plastered a phony smile on her face. "Sir?"

"I don't know if you have heard from Miss Bones, but I have been known to throw together a supper party every now and then."

Here it comes, she thought. "No, sir. She hasn't." Hermione noticed his mouth turn down in a small frown. "At least not yet. Maybe she just did not want me feeling left out of something so exclusive," she added, playing into his ego, which was nearly as large as his bulging stomach. It seemed to have done the trick, since the smile returned to his face in a heartbeat.

"Of course," he nodded. "Well it is for Hogwarts' best and brightest and I would love for you to join us some time."

It took all of Hermione's strength not to roll her eyes. "Thank you, sir. I would be more than happy to!" Her face was beginning to hurt from keeping the fake smile on it.

"Excellent! You shall receive an owl soon, my dear!" He beamed. "Now you better be off. You don't want Filch catching you out of bed after hours."

"Goodnight, Professor."

Just as she suspected, Severus was long gone by the time she got out of the classroom. She felt a little sting of saddness as she glanced down the dark and empty corridor. Another day wasted.

As she trekked back up to Ravenclaw tower, she promised herself that she would make some substantial progress the following week, if it was the last thing she'd do.

Apparently she missed quite the party, she thought as she stepped into the common room. Rita and Lockhart were passed out - still sitting up - on one of the couches. Edgar was sprawled across an armchair; an empty bottle was still clenched in his hand. Bagman was face down on the rug in front of the fireplace - the fire seemed to have burned out long ago. The other two girls and Sturgis were draped across one another on the other couch. The snoring was unreal.

Hermione laughed quietly to herself, conjured several blankets and covered up her classmates before making her way up to her bed. When she entered the dormitory, she heard gagging coming from the bathroom she and the other girls shared.

When she walked in Amelia was sitting on the floor, her head rested on the wall next to the toilet.

"Her - Her-minn-oh-knee," she groaned, massacring her name.

"Oh Amelia..." Hermione couldn't help but laugh. "Look at you. Do you need anything? Water perhaps?"

Amelia nodded. Her eyes then widened, she covered her mouth and quickly stuck her head over the toilet, where she became violently ill.

Hermione scrunched up her nose and felt her stomach turn from the smell. "I'll be back with your water." She hurried out and back into their dorm.

There were pitchers of water and glasses left next to each of their beds every night; Hermione went to Amelia's table and poured a glass to take back with her. She wasn't sure if the students of this era were more wild than in her time, or if the teachers were more lenient, but the scene in the Ravenclaw tower was nothing she had ever seen before. It amused her as much as it horrified her.

When she arrived back to Amelia, she was now as unconscious as the rest of her friends. With a heaving breath, Hermione took out her wand and levitated Amelia into her bed.

As she took her shoes off for her, Amelia stirred.

"How was detenshhhun," she slurred.

"It was detention," Hermione shrugged with a small giggle.

"Shame you m-mmmisssed out."

Hermione full out laughed and chucked Amelia's shoes to the ground. "Yes, definitely a shame," she agreed.

Amelia rolled on her side, which Hermione was glad to see, and snuggled into her covers. She yawned loudly.

"Was Snape a git?" She whispered.

Hermione changed into her nightdress and got herself into bed before answering. Technically he wasn't. He didn't even speak to her.

"We didn't say a word to each other," she responded flatly.

"That's nice," Amelia muttered before she began to snore.

With a small shake of her head, Hermione got herself comfortable and closed her eyes. But that will change, she thought. Even if she had to stalk him around the castle, she was going to get to him. She had to, otherwise, what was she even doing there?

Soon she drifted off to sleep. Her dreams were filled with flashes of dark eyes, enchanted bubbles, large snakes, loads of blood and a high, cruel laugh. It was not a restful night.

 

A/N - Thank you all so, so, so much for the amazing reviews and unbelievably kind feedback you've been leaving on this story. I'm completely overwhelmed by the love you've all shown me, and even though I'm horrible at responding to reviews, I appreciate them more than you know! *hugs* 

I think this is my favorite chapter so far. I hope you all liked it! Why do you think Severus snuck in to see Hermione? Do you think it was more than what he told her? Do you think Hermione will FINALLY get through to Severus soon? Are you glad that there was more Hermione/Severus interaction this chapter? Anything you would like to see or hope will happen? Let me know it that little box below!! 

Oh and just in case you might not have seen, there is also a companion piece to this told from Snape's POV. It's called The Exchange Student, if you were interested in checking that out, too. :D 

Thank you all again! <33

xoxo Meg



17th September 1976

 

The following week Hermione remained true to her word - Operation Stalk Severus was in full effect. Hermione had taken to keeping the Invisibility Cloak with her at all times; it was stuffed inside her beaded bag, which she carried in the pocket of her robes daily. After her classes she would excuse herself, saying she had to use the loo or by making up some other random excuse, such as needing to speak with a Professor or stating she had forgotten something in the dormitory. Once she separated herself from her friends, she would use the cloak and follow Severus. She tried to learn his schedule, which routes he took to his classes and where he went during his down time. 

One thing that she had noticed was that Severus was not as much of a loner as he originally appeared. It seemed that he had at least two acquaintances whom he spoke to on somewhat friendly terms. It sickened her a bit when she realized the two young men were future Death Eaters – Avery and Macnair. However, there was something about the hint of disgust in Severus’ eyes when he was near them that satisfied Hermione. It seemed that he had not really cared for them at all, and she assumed that their friendship, if you could have called it that, was more out of convenience than anything else.  

She learned after a few days that Severus Snape was very much a creature of habit. His schedule barely changed from one day to the next, which made her life a lot easier. He ate breakfast in the Great Hall, went to his classes – any free periods were spent in the library, had lunch, returned to his classes, disappeared to the Slytherin dungeon, reappeared for dinner and then ended his evenings in the library once more. 

Hermione had not attempted to speak with him at all during the week. She had come to that decision for two reasons. One: she thought it would be better to study him a bit beforehand. Learn what he did during the day and possibly what his interests were, so she could come up with something substantial to speak with him about. Two: she was afraid that if she continued to try to force him into a friendship, which he seemed to not want, she would risk pushing him away for good. She had time, quite literally, and figured she ought to use it wisely. 

During their Potions classes, Hermione would enter, nod a quick hello – that he surprisingly returned later in the week, and would spend the rest of the time quietly working on her assignments. A few times she thought she caught him looking at her, or what she was doing, but she had not acknowledged it. Only once did he speak to her. Hermione had not been paying attention as well as she normally would have in her own time - she was too preoccupied with her thoughts, and almost missed a step while working on her potion. She nearly added the armadillo bile before the scarab beetle in her Wit-Sharpening Potion before Severus stopped her. 

Scarab beetle,” he hissed as her hand nearly tipped the vial into her cauldron. 

She jumped and let out a small squeak of surprise before thanking him and continuing on with her coursework. Afterwards, Severus went on acting as if Hermione had not existed.

The more she watched him, the more she noticed little things that made her feel confused and conflicted. For one thing, she found herself admiring the way he was so dedicated to his school work. She started to see that he was quite a brilliant young man; a person who she honestly could have seen herself wanting to be friends with. He was someone she imagined she could have had meaningful and intense discussions and debates with. Someone who could have stimulated her intellectually. 

He was kind of funny, too. In a dry, sarcastic sort of way. There were a few instances in which she heard him mutter something about one of their classmates; she’d have a hard time keeping herself from giggling at his remarks. A few times he said some things that she might had thought, but never would have voiced out loud. Of course when you’re a bit more advanced than some of your peers, you were bound to become frustrated with them. Severus just didn’t seem as capable of keeping his opinions to himself as Hermione had been. 

There was one day, during Ancient Ruins, a thought crossed her mind which completely threw her for a loop. She actually found him slightly attractive. Not that she was attracted to him, per say, but she couldn’t say that he was ugly. There was something about his dark eyes and the dark curtains of hair which contrasted with his pale skin that she found sort of beautiful. Even his nose seemed more distinguished than obtrusive. And, on the rare occasions that she actually saw them, his teeth seemed quite a bit straighter and whiter than they had become in his adult years. 

She tried very hard after that day to shake any of those thoughts from her mind. She had a… boyfriend? Actually, she wasn’t exactly sure what she and Ron were, but she did not feel right looking so closely at another boy. Especially considering who that boy was. 

***

8th October 1976

For the next few weeks it went on relatively the same way. She attended her classes, spent her free time either following Severus or becoming much closer to Amelia and Remus than she would have preferred. She worried more and more that they would recognize her in future. Then, much to her horror, after a conversation in the library Friday evening, she feared that Remus might have remembered her. The way their conversation ended was eerily reminiscent of a similar one she had with Remus and Sirius during her summer at Grimmauld Place, before her fifth year. 

Somehow, Hermione, Amelia and Remus had gotten on the subject of House Elves and Hermione, who was unable to contain herself, went on a long winded rant of how they deserve to be treated better. How they should receive pay, sick days and holidays, just as anyone else would. Amelia somewhat agreed with her, yet Hermione suspected from her tone that she was just placating her, but that didn’t bother Hermione. She received the same response from Harry. She always knew that Harry had not taken her seriously, but she appreciated the fact that he did not outright make fun of her about it, as Ron did. Amelia, it seemed, was being just as polite.

Remus however did not hold back his laughter. Not only that, but what he said to her nearly caused her to fall out of her seat, because it was the same exact response that he had given her in the future. 

“Hermione,” Remus chuckled. “I do agree that House Elves get a raw deal, but have you ever met one before?” 

“Of course, Remus!” She responded indignantly. “They –“ 

Remus cut her off. “Then you would know that they’re perfectly content making the families they serve happy. It’s what they were born to do, Hermione. It’s what gives them purpose.” 

“Yes but-“ 

He held up his hand. “I can see that we’re not going to agree on this issue,” he smiled. “I think it would be best if we dropped it?” 

Hermione’s heart stopped for a moment. 

ooo


Hermione could not sleep and found herself in the basement kitchen of Grimmauld Place with Remus and Sirius, who all sat drinking some tea. Although, from the smell of it, Hermione suspected Sirius’ cup held a much stronger drink. 

Kreacher had entered the kitchen mumbling hurtful words about her under his breath, causing Sirius to throw a soup ladle at the old elf and order him out of the kitchen. Of course his actions horrified Hermione, who apparently had a difficult time keeping the angry expression from her face. 

“What?” Sirius snapped after looking at her. 

Hermione jolted a bit in her seat, it was the first time Sirius had ever used that tone of voice with her, and it took her off guard. Still, she had not felt right watching an elf being abused right in front of her. Kreacher hadn’t known any better, she understood that, therefore she did not take his words or actions to heart. 

“That was rather harsh, Sirius,” she scolded. 

Sirius snorted loudly. “Harsh? You’re taking the piss, right?” 

An argument then began between the two of them and started to become quite heated. Hermione shouted about how they should have freedom, or pay; more rights in general. Remus intervened. 

“They’re perfectly content making the families they serve happy. It’s what they were born to do, Hermione. It’s what gives them purpose,” he said in a tired voice.  

Hermione looked affronted. “But surely you could see my reasoning behind-“ 

Remus raised his hand to stop her. “I can see that we’re not going to agree on this issue. It would probably be for the best if we dropped it.” 

At the time, Hermione had not understood the smirk on Remus’ face. Also, the knowing look he shared with Sirius immediately after confused her at the time. But then she wondered. Had he remembered her? 

ooo


Then suddenly, more things started to make sense to her. Like a brief conversation she had once with Sirius during Christmas break her fifth year. 

ooo


Hermione was passing by the drawing room and noticed Sirius sitting in a chair, all alone and holding onto a bottle like it was his long lost lover. 

She felt horrible that he was spending his holiday cooped up by himself in a place that caused him so much pain. Instead of just walking by, she decided to enter the room and sat quietly in a chair across from him. 

“Happy Christmas, Sirius,” she said quietly. 

Sirius picked his head up in a jerky motion, his bloodshot eyes wide and full of surprise. After looking as if he was trying to focus on the person who had just spoken to him, a smile slowly spread across his lips, though it did not meet his sad eyes. 

“Same to you, Hermione,” he responded, and lifted his bottle in a mock toast before taking a deep drink of the amber liquid. 

Hermione smiled sadly as he wiped his mouth with the back of his dirty sleeve. 

“S’hard to believe you lot are the same three scrawny brats I met nearly two years ago,” he joked. “Breaking any hearts yet?” 

Hermione never understood why some adults would ask that of teenagers. Like the only thing that mattered about their adolescence was if they dated or not. She laughed out loud. “Hardly.” 

Sirius shook his head. “Don’t worry, Hermione. You will soon enough, trust me. I’m sure a bloke will come along who pesters you almost daily. Don’t be too hard on him though.” His eyes slowly began to close. Hermione was increasingly becoming more confused, but just chalked it up to Sirius being intoxicated. “It’s not like he had any idea who you were. If he did he wouldn’t have…” he trailed off before passing out.   

ooo


Hermione called it an early night after realizing she may not have remained as unmemorable as she had hoped. She claimed she had a stomach ache, which technically wasn’t a lie. The whole ordeal made her feel exceptionally queasy. 

***

9th October 1976

The evening of Hermione’s final detention, she entered the Potions classroom ready for another uncomfortable evening of Slughorn doting on both her and Severus while they continued to clean, not speaking to each other, only to their professor. 

She hadn’t been expecting anything from Severus, which was why it was an absolute shock to her when he hadn’t rushed out of the room after Slughorn dismissed them, as he had done after each of their previous detentions. 

Both of them wished their professor a goodnight and turned to leave the room; Hermione trailed a bit behind Severus. She walked behind him for a few steps when suddenly, he stopped. 

“May I speak with you for a moment?” he asked her with his back still turned. 

Hermione’s heart raced and, for some reason, her stomach felt like it was filled with fluttering butterflies. 

“Of course!” she responded a bit too eagerly. 

Severus turned around slowly, but did not make eye contact with her. He looked down at the ground, pushing a strand of his hair behind his ear. 

“I’ve noticed during Potions that you do not seem as stupid as the rest of our classmates.” 

Hermione assumed that was intended to be a compliment. The corner of her mouth turned up a little in spite of herself. 

“Er… thanks?” 

Once again, he started to tug on the cuff of his sleeve. “There are still some areas you could improve on, however,” he continued, condescendingly.  

She flinched. It was almost like she was his student once more, listening to him belittle her and her hard work. 

Her eyes narrowed as she placed her hands on her hips. Severus did not seem to notice. 

“Potions requires instinct and imagination. You don’t always have to rely so heavily on what is shown to us in textbooks.” 

Why was he telling her that? He had not seemed to her as the type of person who would offer advice to fellow students. Still, she didn’t speak. She waited to see if he would continue. 

Severus reached up and rubbed the back of his neck; he still had not looked at her. “If – if, erm…” He stopped and shook his head. 

Where was he going with all of this? She wondered. 

“If what, Severus?” she asked. 

She noticed him jolt slightly again when she said his name and once more wondered what that was all about. 

Finally he looked up and locked eyes with her. She saw his Adam’s apple move up and down, like he was swallowing. He seemed nervous.


“I – I could help you if you want,” he offered quietly and again fixed his eyes on the floor. 

Hermione noticed a hint of red tint his pale cheeks. She almost laughed. All of the plotting and sneaking around she had done and it hadn’t even mattered. She shouldn’t have been surprised that the way to get him to notice, or even possibly respect her would be for her to do well in class. Not only that, but what also must had helped her was how she hadn’t been raising her hand or answering every question that was asked in her classes either. She was determined, while she was there, not to come off like a know-it-all, only because she figured it would have helped her blend in with everyone better. 

He must had taken her silence as the beginning of a rejection. 

“I only offer, because it would be a shame for someone with even the most minimal amount of talent let it go to waste. Not many people appreciate Potions,” he added with a snide tone Hermione recognized quite well. 

She rolled her eyes and was thankful he wasn’t looking when she did. 

“I would like that,” she finally answered and thought she saw the hint of a smile form on his lips. 

He nodded once and looked at her with a furrowed brow. “Right. Meet me in the library tomorrow evening. Eight o’clock.” 

“I’ll be th-“ 

“Don’t be late,” he cut her off. 

Without waiting for an answer, he quickly turned around and half-ran away from her. Hermione shook her head softly. Severus was truly a different sort of person. 

“…there,” Hermione finished as she watched him leave. 

For some reason, she had a difficult time keeping a smile off of her face the entire walk to Ravenclaw tower, which she still must have been wearing when she entered the common room. 

“Well you look awfully cheerful for someone who just had detention,” Amelia said with a suspicious glimmer in her eyes. 

Hermione shrugged. “It was the last one.” she responded as if that clarified everything.

She began to head towards the dorms saying a quick goodnight. 

“Where do you think you’re going Miss Devereux?” Amelia demanded looking over the top of the book she was reading. “If you think for one moment I’m buying the whole, ‘It was the last one’ excuse, you’re sorely mistaken.” 

Hermione stuck her tongue out at Amelia then continued her walk towards the stairs. Amelia quickly followed after. 

“Really, Amelia, it’s nothing. I’m just glad to be done with it, that’s all,” she tried to convince her. 

As she trekked up the stairs a little more quickly than she began, Amelia jogged to keep up with her.  

“You’re clearly lying, Hermione. I haven’t seen you smile like that since you’ve arrived here. Now what’s going on?” she asked, slightly panting.  

Hermione shook her head as a snort escaped her. As they walked into the empty dorm Amelia would not let up.  

Truthfully Hermione didn’t even know where to begin. Why was she smiling like a fool? Why was she feeling nervous, yet excited about the prospect of spending the evening with Severus? Was it simply because she was finally making some progress towards her goal in the past? Or was it something else?  

She sat down on her bed and tucked her legs beneath her; Amelia watched her face carefully.  

“Well?” Amelia tried once more.  

Hermione drew in a deep breath. “Severus asked me to study with him tomorrow night,” she admitted quietly. A blush slowly crept up her face as she watched Amelia’s mouth pop open. “I – er – I agreed to go.”  

The look on Amelia’s face was very similar to the look someone who had just been clubbed over the head would be wearing. She looked dumbfounded.  

“He – he asked you out?” Amelia whispered.  

Hermione shook her head. “No, it’s not a date or anything,” she clarified quickly. “He just mentioned that he’s noticed my work in potions class and thinks that he could help me become better.” She had a hard time not sounding bitter at the end of that sentence.  

Tucking a lock hair behind her ear, Hermione squirmed uncomfortably under Amelia’s astonished stare. To Hermione, it seemed like it was the first time Amelia had ever heard of anyone asking another student to study with them, she looked so shocked.  

She couldn’t take the awkward silence any longer. “What?” Hermione snapped.  

Amelia seemed to realize she was behaving a bit rudely. She shook her head and sat up straighter while forcing a smile on her face.  

“No, nothing!” she said quickly. “It’s just – just that…” she bit her lip. “I’ve never seen him with a girl. Well besides Lily Evans.”  

Lily and Severus had been childhood friends, up until the end of their fifth year; Harry had told both her and Ron that the morning after the battle at Hogwarts. Harry hadn’t gone into details as to why Severus and Lily stopped speaking. All he told them was that Severus had done something Lily couldn’t bring herself to forgive him for. Hermione was exceptionally curious as to what that was and wondered if Amelia had known what happened.  

“Lily Evans and Severus are friends?” Hermione asked, as if she were ignorant.  

Were friends,” Amelia clarified. “Up until the end of last term. Right after we finished with our O.W.L.s.”  

Hermione didn’t have to fake her curiosity. “What happened?” she asked eagerly and leaned forward.  

Amelia scooted to the edge of her bed and crossed her legs underneath her.  

“I wasn’t there,” she began. “But Alice was. She told us what happened afterwards. Actually,” she snorted, “the whole school knew afterwards.”  

Hermione’s heart was pounding. What had Severus done that was so bad the whole school knew about it within minutes? 

“Apparently Severus was sitting under a tree near the Black Lake. Potter, Black, Remus and Pettigrew were out there as well."  

Hermione felt her stomach drop. She had a feeling she knew where this story was headed.  

She listened in horror as Amelia described the scene by the lake that summer afternoon. She felt sick to her stomach as she heard what James and Sirius had done to Severus, who had done nothing to them. It was amazing to her how similar James and Harry looked, yet how different they both were in personality. Who knew? Maybe James changed. It already seemed like he had grown up quite a bit since last year, from what Amelia was telling her, but still. Harry had never hexed anyone just because he and Ron were bored. That behavior was more of something she would had expected from Draco Malfoy, never Harry. Was Professor Snape right all of those time he had told Harry that James Potter was arrogant and a bully? 


However, whatever sympathy she was feeling towards Severus disappeared the moment Amelia told her what he had called Lily in the heat of the moment.  

“He called her a what?” Hermione gasped threw her fingers which were covering her mouth. “No, he couldn’t have,” she whispered, more to herself than to Amelia.  

Amelia nodded. “He did,” she answered matter-of-factly.  

Hermione hung her head. How could have done such a thing? Lily was his best friend. She was a girl he cared for. Why would he call her that?  

Her heart broke for Lily, as Hermione tried to imagine how she would have felt if Ron or Harry let that word slip from their mouths. She would had been crushed. Heartbroken. Horrified. Livid. Devastated. No wonder Harry had not told her or Ron what caused the end of their friendship. She was disgusted with him and was questioning if she really wanted to see him the following evening. Was he worth it? Was being there worth it?  

“He tried to apologize immediately after, but Lily wouldn’t have any part of it. According to Mary, he threatened to sleep outside of the Gryffindor common room if Lily didn’t come down to hear him out,” Amelia continued while watching Hermione’s reaction carefully.  

Hermione couldn’t seem to speak. She didn’t know what to say, so instead she nodded slowly. What if Ron or Harry had let that slip and tried to apologize? How would she have handled that? Obviously Lily did not accept Severus’ apology, as she clearly still was not on speaking terms with him. But would Hermione had been able to shut Ron or Harry out of her life for a mistake, albeit a horrible one, but a mistake nevertheless.  

When you love someone, regardless if it’s a significant other, friend, or family member, you have to be able and willing to forgive them. Even if, or especially when, they mess up badly. Yes, what Severus did was horrible, but was it unforgiveable? She tried to look at the whole situation objectively. He had just been suspended in midair, robes falling down and his pants displayed for the entire school to see. James and Sirius had physically and emotionally abused him in front of an audience for their own entertainment. Severus was a proud young man and his ego had to have been severely damaged in that moment. Then Lily came along to fight his battle for him; something which Hermione was sure would not have sat well with him.  It didn’t excuse what he had done, but Hermione understood why it happened. If she were in Lily’s position, she thought that she most likely would have come to forgive him. She would have been furious with him, shouted at him and probably given him the silent treatment for a few days, but if he was her friend, she would have found it in her heart to let him back in it.  

“And she never forgave him?” Hermione asked after minutes of silence.  

Amelia looked taken aback. “Well of course not!” she said as if it was obvious. “Would you have?” 

“Yes,” Hermione answered without hesitation. Amelia looked like she was having a hard time believing her. “Sometimes the people we love are the ones who have the ability to hurt us the most. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t forgive them when they do. Everyone says or does things they don’t mean at times. It’s part of being human. I’m sure he didn’t mean what he said, and it sounds as if he regretted it the moment the word left his lips. I’m not excusing what he did, or saying it was right, but I don’t think it’s fair of Lily to hold it against him forever. Especially if they were as close as they were.”  

Amelia shrugged gently. “I suppose you’re right, but still. It was a shit thing for him to do.”  

“I’m not saying it wasn’t,” Hermione agreed.  

“Just be careful around him Hermione,” Amelia said sincerely. 

Hermione was taken off guard by the sudden turn in their conversation. “Oh!” Her eyes opened wide. “Right. I – I will,” she promised.   

Amelia did not look anywhere near comforted by Hermione’s half-hearted response.

 

A/N - My dear HPFFBFFSOULSISTERBRAINTWINFRAND, thank you so much for wonderful betaing, friendship and advice on this chapter! *hug* I know how busy you are with RL, and I so appreciate the time you took to look this over for me.


*This chapter is dedicated to some wonderful people. My NaNo family for pushing me to write and just being so amazing! Kaitlin, Kenny and Kristin, I adore you all!! <33 Also, to a wonderful friend, Frankie, who I just need to say thank you for being such an awesome human being. I'm so lucky and happy that I've had the chance to know you and become your friend! <33*

 

10th October 1976 

Sunday evening found Hermione wringing her hands anxiously as she paced back and forth in front of the library. She was nearly twenty minutes early, but knowing Severus, she assumed he was most likely already in there awaiting her arrival. She couldn’t deny it, she was incredibly nervous. What would she say to him? She had spent the majority of her time there so far just working on how to get him to notice her and then speak to her. Now that she had done both of those things, she wasn’t quite sure what to even speak with him about. What if she said the wrong thing and ended up right where she had begun?

Mentioning what she learned from Amelia, about him and Lily, was definitely off the table. There was no doubt in her mind that if she brought that up, he would leave quicker than she could say royal screw up. No, that conversation would have to be saved for a later date. If, and hopefully when, they were to become closer friends.

A few students passed by casting her strange looks, most likely wondering what the new girl was doing trekking up and down the hallway. Hermione gave a few of them half smiles, half grimaces as her anxiety continued to crescendo. She glanced down at her watch and saw that it was nearly time to go in, lest she be late, which would had been sure to anger Severus. After adjusting the strap of her school bag and taking a deep breath, Hermione lifted her head and marched into the library, hoping she did not look even a fraction as uneasy as she felt.

When she walked in Severus was nowhere in sight. She scanned a few of the tables not seeing his mane of stringy black hair amongst any of the students. A wave a disappointment came over her; she found herself wondering if he had stood her up. But, since she was already there, she figured she shouldn’t waste the evening moping around and should probably get some studying done anyhow. She had a two foot essay due for Slughorn in three days and decided she ought to get a start on it.

Not wanting to be bothered by any of the students, Hermione quietly slipped between the scattered tables and made her way towards some of the less frequently used ones in the back of the library. She hoped that perhaps Amelia and Remus would have ended up coming to join her at some point in the evening; she didn’t like spending too much time on her own. It gave her too much time to think. She didn’t enjoy becoming too wrapped up in her mind recently, if she could have helped it.

As she walked, she was not paying attention to what was or was not surrounding her, therefore she received quite a shock when an annoyed and silky voice spoke up quietly behind her.

“You’re late,” Severus said flatly.

Hermione jumped and let out a low cry of surprise.

Severus was sat at a table to her right, his books were scattered out in front of him, taking up nearly half of the table. He looked up at her with an expression that seemed torn between partial amusement and pure exasperation. The corner of his mouth lifted the tiniest amount forming a smirk that, for some reason, made Hermione’s heart pick up double time. With a small shake of her head, she attempted to convince herself she had not felt any reaction to him whatsoever, but subconsciously thought he looked almost handsome when he smiled.

“Well are you going to sit down, Devereux? Or are you going to hang about looking as if you were hit with a Stunning Spell all evening?” Severus raised an eyebrow while gesturing to the seat across from him.

Hermione mentally collected herself, walked over to the table Severus occupied and sat down in the chair he had just pointed at.

“Please, call me Hermione,” she told him for what she figured was the fifth time since the two had begun – somewhat – speaking.

Severus rolled his eyes as he let out a quiet snort. “Fine,” he exhaled. “Hermione. Better?”

She smiled widely and tried to ignore the fluttering sensation that erupted in her stomach at the sound of him saying her name for the first time. “Loads,” she answered brightly.

Hermione removed her school bag from her shoulder and dropped it on the table with a loud thump. Severus’ eyes widened a fraction as he looked at her overstuffed bag. She seemed to have continued her habit of carrying all of her school books with her at one time, as opposed to just the ones she needed at that moment. Although to Hermione, every book was one that she may possibly have needed.

“What’s on the agenda this evening? Would you like to work on the paper for Slughorn, or perhaps our assignment for Crabtree?” Hermione asked tentatively as she pulled a few books, parchment, several quills and a bottle of ink from her bag.

Severus placed his index finger along his bottom lip, looking thoughtful. “Potions, I think.”

Hermione reached for her copy of Advanced Potions Making. “Potions it is then.”

Without asking, Hermione shoved some of Severus’ belongings aside, nearly causing two of his books to fall off of the small table. She had not noticed and therefore received a start at Severus’ low growl of annoyance.

“Something wrong?” she asked in a tired voice. She was in no mood for his rapidly changing mood swings when he was the one who had invited her to study with him that evening.

Severus opened his mouth to answer but seemed to change his mind at the last moment. Instead, he sighed loudly while shaking his head.

“Good,” Hermione said. “Now we’re supposed to be outlining, in detail, the steps and procedures in-“ she began in a tone more suitable for a Hogwarts Professor than a student of the school.

“Stop,” Severus interrupted her.

“Pardon?” Hermione’s eyebrows rose.

Hermione watched in surprised as Severus reached across the table and closed her book. He had been lucky he didn’t pull back a bloody stump. In her time, everyone had known better than to reach for, or touch one of Hermione’s books when she was in study mode.

“What are you doing? I thought we were-“

“I wanted to talk to you,” Severus interrupted her once more.

Severus would not meet her eye line, yet the expression on his face was very serious. Hermione squirmed uncomfortably in her seat. What on earth had he wanted to speak with her about?

“Oh?” she responded lamely. “About what, exactly?”

She watched Severus shift in his chair and glance out the window to their left. It looked as if he was choosing his words very carefully.

After a few uncomfortable moments, Severus finally looked Hermione in the eye. For the first time, he had not glared or looked hostile. If anything, he appeared more apprehensive and confused than anything else.

“Why have you continuously rejected Black?” he asked bluntly, his mouth curling in disgust at the mention of Sirius.

Out of all the things Hermione thought he was planning to ask her, that had not even come close to crossing her mind. She was completely taken off guard and, as had become more commonplace for her in his company, was rendered speechless.

“I – Why have? I’m – I’m sorry?” she sputtered, undeniably confused as to why he would want to know.

“Girls in this school repeatedly fawn over the disgusting git,” he continued as if Hermione had not spoken. “Yet you have not seemed even remotely interested. Why is that?” he asked quietly, almost like he was asking rhetorically.

Hermione had a choice to make in that moment. She could tell the truth, that she thought Sirius was harmless - annoying perhaps - but was not romantically interested in him whatsoever. However, if she complimented him, even in the slightest, she could have run the risk of turning Severus away from her completely. If she wanted to keep Severus around – to gain his trust, and more importantly his friendship, she knew she had to speak poorly of him. No matter how much she truly did care for Sirius Black.

Not breaking eye contact, Hermione sat up straight and answered. “I find him to be insufferable, arrogant and a bit of a prat, to be honest.” She noticed Severus’ lips turn up a fraction. “I prefer to spend my time in the company of people who are intelligent and sincere. Not bone-headed and cruel.”

Severus’ eyebrows knitted together as he appeared to be considering her response. Hermione felt terribly for what she had just said, but she knew it would help her in the long run.

After a few more moments, Severus nodded stoically. “Right,” was all he said. He sat back in his chair and Hermione would have sworn she saw him actually smile for a second.

Hermione’s curiosity had gotten the best of her. “Why?” she asked in earnest. “Why would that even matter?”

“It doesn’t,” he answered quickly.

She almost laughed out loud. Of course it mattered! If it truly had not, then he wouldn’t have asked her to begin with. She cocked an eyebrow at him as she bit her bottom lip.

“What?” he almost growled at her as she continued watching him.

Hermione cracked a small smile. “Nothing,” she answered innocently and reopened her Potion’s book.

She pretended to read for a few minutes, but could feel Severus’ eyes still on her. The longer she ignored him, the more irritated he seemed to become. She heard him huff impatiently several times, all the while still staring a hole through her.

“Fine!” he finally said, causing Hermione to jump.

Gently she closed her book and looked up at his frustrated face in silent amusement.

“Yes?” she asked sweetly.

His pale face started to gain some color; she chuckled silently to herself. Truth be told, she was quite enjoying herself in that moment.

“Black and Potter like to have a laugh; usually at my expense,” he began to explain in a venom filled voice. Hermione’s smile quickly left her face. She had seen it firsthand. “I wasn’t sure – I just didn’t know,” he looked down at the table. “Just forget it, Devereux.”

Hermione almost corrected him again, but decided against it.

A part of her figured that Severus, at one point or another, was probably just as guilty as James or Sirius when it came to starting fights. But she had to admit, it was a bit unfair. Severus only had himself, whereas with the others… there were at most four, at the very least two against one, when it came to their ongoing rivalry. As she watched his face screw up in anger and a touch of sadness, she found herself feeling exceptionally sorry for him.

“I’m sorry,” she told him sincerely.

His head snapped up immediately. “I don’t want your pity,” he spat. She flinched.

Hermione sighed. “Let’s just get on with our coursework. That’s why we’re here, right?”

After their brief conversation, the two sat and worked on their essays in almost complete silence. The only sounds were their quills scratching across the parchment, and the occasional cough or sniffle. For two hours they sat and worked. What started out as an uncomfortable silence eventually melted into a mutually compatible one. Hermione quite liked his company. Severus seemed to be surprisingly similar to Hermione. He worked quickly and diligently, and didn’t feel the need to fill their silence with mindless prattle.

Hermione peered at him a few times throughout the evening, watching him intently. She began to notice little things about him. Like the way his nose scrunched up after he wrote something he seemed not to be happy with; he would scratch out the last thing he had written directly after. His hair never stayed tucked behind his ear for long, he had to push it out of his face almost every few minutes. She smiled when she noticed he had a habit of biting his quills, just like she had, and wondered if he went through loads of them each week, like she did.

At the end of their study session, or perhaps it caused the end of their evening, Severus looked up and caught Hermione looking at him. His eyes widened, then he quickly masked his surprise with a sneer.

“Need something, Devereux?” he asked sardonically.

She hadn’t even realized that she was staring at him at that point, and knocked her bottle of ink over. “No! No, thank you,” she said as she swished her wand and siphoned the ink from the table, and a few of her books.

Severus shook his head and started to pack up. “I think that should do for tonight.”

Hermione mentally kicked herself for letting him catch her.

“You’re right,” she lied. Honestly, she wanted more time with him. But she knew she should not push her luck and try to convince him to stay a little longer. She felt it had gone well that evening; possibly he would ask her to study again some time.

It was almost as if Severus had read her thoughts. He stood up, placed the strap of his bag on his shoulder and cleared his throat. “That was not nearly as painful as I assumed it would be.”

A real charmer, this one, she thought with a snort. “I suppose you're right,” she said with a small amount of acid in her voice. Severus seemed as if he tried to hide a smirk at her tone.

“Perhaps we could meet again tomorrow evening? Same time?” he asked much to Hermione’s astonishment.

She blinked a few times and nodded. “I would like that,” she smiled.

Severus stood up just a bit straighter at her response. “Tomorrow then.”

He shocked her once more when he waited for her to collect her belongings and walked out of the library with her. When they reached the corridor, they both stopped and stood awkwardly, each not really knowing how to part from one another.

“Well, erm…” Hermione started.

“Enjoy the rest of your evening,” Severus said in the kindest tone she’d heard from him thus far. Unexplainably, her heart felt like it skipped a beat. What was going on with her? It must had been the shock of him sounding so, so… nice. Something she had never heard from him before.

She felt her face burn softly as a light blush rose up her cheeks. “Yeah. You as well.”

Severus dawdled for another second, looked as if he was going to say something else, then quickly turned and rushed down the hall. As Hermione watched him leave, she stood there feeling increasingly more confused by the strange reactions he seemed to be bringing out in her.

Her feeling of confusion quickly left her and was replaced with pure irritation at the voice that spoke up loudly from behind her.

“Merlin’s pearly white pants! Devereux?! What the hell were you doing with Snape?” Sirius asked in disgust.

Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose as she turned around slowly to face him.

Sirius stood in the center of the hallway looking past her, towards Severus. His eyes were as wide as saucers as he came nearer.

“Homework,” Hermione answered shortly and pursed her lips. “You know, those assignments the professors ask us to complete in the evenings? The same ones you seem to hastily scribble out during the beginning of each lesson.”

Hermione had once heard that James and Sirius were two of the cleverest students in their year. But from what she had seen so far, she wasn’t exactly sure how they achieved that reputation. She wasn’t even quite sure how they ever had their work finished at all. She rarely saw them in the library, and when she actually did, they were never doing work. Almost always she saw them wandering the halls; goofing off or messing with the Slytherins.

Sirius barked out a loud laugh. “Pssh! Life’s too short to worry about doing homework at night, Devereux.”

Hermione scoffed at Sirius’ words and began to walk away from him. Sirius ran to catch up to her.

“But seriously. Why Snape?”

Hermione ignored him and hoped he would leave her alone if she refused to speak to him. She had a part to play while she was there, and it now included pretending to hate Sirius Black.

Sirius didn’t seem deterred by Hermione’s cold shoulder. “Don’t you usually study with Remus and Bones? I assumed you had good taste,” he continued to ramble on. Hermione did not respond, save for an annoyed snort. “He’s a complete git, Devereux. Ask Lily Evans, they used to-“

Hermione was at her limit. She stopped suddenly and rounded on him. “That’s enough, Black!” she shouted. Sirius looked hurt, his lip jutted out in a small pout.

“But-“

“No. You have no right to tell me who I can or cannot be friends with, because,” she hissed. “We. Are. Not. Friends!”

Of course, Hermione was laying it on pretty thick. She wasn't nearly as irritated with Sirius as she pretended to be. Not that she didn't find his pestering slightly annoying, but she certainly would not have been as cruel under normal circumstances.

Until she stormed off, leaving a bewildered Sirius behind, she had not noticed there was a small audience during that exchange.

When she looked down the hall, she noticed Severus peeking around the corner. The satisfied look in his eyes was noticeable, even from the distance between them both. Then, almost as if he Disapperated, Severus was gone.

 

***

14th October 1976

 

Slowly things began to change between Hermione and Severus. During their classes on Monday, Severus nodded to her and even said hello in the ones they shared together. The few times she glanced at him in the Great Hall, he hadn’t given her any dirty looks. Amelia even seemed to notice during lunch.

“Hermione,” she whispered the third time Hermione looked towards the Slytherin table.

“Hmm?” she responded distractedly. She was busy staring at Severus long fingers as they gracefully held a quill, which he used to write in the margins of his Potions textbook. It was something he had done a lot.

“You’re staring again,” Amelia pointed out unnecessarily.

Hermione was well aware of what she was doing, but still did not like that she had been caught. She looked away quickly and began to push around the food on her plate with her fork.

After that, Hermione worked very hard to keep herself from looking over at the boy who intrigued her more than any other she had met before.

Later on, once again, she met Severus in the library at eight in the evening. Neither one of them discussed what Hermione knew Severus had seen transpire between she and Sirius the evening before. But something had become different between them; it was obvious.

Severus was starting to become completely separate from Professor Snape in her mind. She had come to think of them as two different people. One was a mean, cranky teacher, who bullied her and her friends relentlessly the entirety of her Hogwarts education. But also a man who had become a hero. Severus, on the other hand, was a peer and an equal. A boy whom Hermione found herself becoming more and more determined to know everything about. Something about him had begun to stir something inside of her that she had not felt before in her life, and it scared and confused her.

The way he spoke so confidently, when discussing their studies; how he would get the most passionate sparkle in his eyes when discussing the theories behind different spells or potions; the way he seemed as determined as she had been to find the answers to questions others would not even think of asking; the way he wasn’t afraid to challenge her and truly make her stretch her knowledge to the limits. He was one of the most fascinating people she had ever known.

The next few days went on pretty much the same way. He even had started to wait for her after Potions, where they would walk to the first floor corridor together before going their separate ways. They didn’t say much to one another. Severus at times would make a small compliment regarding an impressive technique she used in either potions, or most especially Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Severus had pleasantly surprised Hermione Wednesday afternoon, when he made a comment about her, as he put it, “Impressive wandwork.”

Hermione blushed and flashed him a brilliant smile, all the while feeling those annoying butterflies in her stomach again. Much to Hermione’s astonishment, Severus’s lips turned up the tiniest amount and a touch of red filled his cheeks.

One thing she noticed over the course of the week, had been the obvious gawking she and Severus received from most of the student body. Of course she understood why. She was this new, brilliant, quiet student who had first made friends with one of the members of the infamous Marauders and Amelia Bones. All of a sudden, she was spending her time with the person whom was the Marauders favorite target. A loner from Slytherin who was heavily rumored to be immersed and infatuated with the Dark Arts. She assumed that most of the students wondered if Hermione herself was one of those blood purist, future Death Eaters. The thought almost made her laugh.

Thursday evening, Hermione and Severus continued their week of doing their homework together in the library. They hadn’t been there an hour before a small, mousy haired, third year Gryffindor trotted over to their table.

“Hermione Devereux?” he asked tentatively.

Hermione looked up from her work and offered the nervous little boy a warm smile. “Yes, that’s me.”

With a slightly shaky hand, he gave her a folded up piece of parchment. “Professor Dumbledore asked for me to give this to you.”

Hermione took the note from the boy and thanked him. Severus, she noticed, was shooting daggers at the poor kid. The Gryffindor shivered softly and quickly scurried away from the two older students.

“What does Professor Dumbledore want?” Severus asked while eyeing the paper with curiosity.

Hermione shrugged. “Not sure. Probably just wants to check up on me and see how I’m doing?” she answered uncertainly.

 

Hermione,

I was hoping that you would join me in my office this evening,
as there are some issues in which I wish to discuss with you.
Please, if you would be so kind, be at my office no later than
nine o’clock.

Pumpkin Pasties are quite wonderful this time of year, are they not?

Yours Most Sincerely,

Uncle Albus

 

After refolding the note from Professor Dumbledore, Hermione’s heart began to race. What issues had he needed to speak with her about? She also still felt uncomfortable referring to him as “Uncle Albus,” and seeing it written there gave her a sick feeling in her stomach.

She looked up and saw that Severus was staring intently at her; she quickly rearranged her face to a calm expression.

“Just like I thought,” she lied. “He wants to check in.”

Severus nodded. “Mmm,” he grunted and returned to writing his paper.

Hermione checked her watch. It was ten minutes until nine, which meant she had to leave if she did not want to risk being late. She started packing up her belongings.

“He wants to see you now?” Severus asked. She hadn’t realized he was watching her gather her things and she smiled when she saw that he was frowning.

“Yes. He wants me in his office by nine, which means I have exactly ten minutes to get there,” she said sadly.

She could not lie to herself, there was a large part of her that was happy seeing that Severus was sad to see her leave. Her heart felt like it skipped a beat at the disappointment in his eyes, that he did not even seem to be trying to hide.

“Right. Well… Tomorrow again?” he asked with just a touch of uncertainty to his voice.

Hermione smiled. “Of course, Severus.”

With a small wave, she slung her bag over her shoulder and said goodnight then quickly made her way out of the library. She jogged almost all of the way to Dumbledore’s office and arrived at the entrance out of breath and a bit sweaty. She huffed the password – Pumpkin Pasties, as she assumed from the out of place line in his letter – made her way up the spiral stairs and knocked softly on the large wooden doors.

“Enter,” Dumbledore called out.

Hermione walked into Dumbledore’s office and found the Headmaster seated behind his desk, smiling politely at her.

“Please,” he gestured at one of the armchairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat, Miss Granger.”

Hermione sat down and looked towards Professor Dumbledore expectantly. He sat with his hands folded on top of his desk, wearing that familiar twinkle in his clear, blue eyes.

Dumbledore lifted a small box off his desk. “Cockroach cluster?” he offered.

Hermione’s nose wrinkled, disgusted at the thought of that candy. “Oh. No thank you, sir.”

Setting the box back down, Dumbledore went straight into it. “I am sure you are wondering why you are here,” he stated pleasantly.

Hermione nodded, “Yes, sir.”

Dumbledore opened a drawer in which he pulled out the parchment Hermione had given him upon her arrival. “I wish to discuss with you how we are achieving your return to your original time line.”

Hermione’s heart felt as if it had stopped beating altogether.

 

A/N - I totally wasn't planning on updating again so soon, but I was just too excited about this chapter. This, for real this time, will be the last update until December. Hope you all enjoy! <3

Em!! My HPFFBFFSOULSISTERBRAINTWINFRAND!! Thank you again bunches for everything!! xoxox



14th October 1976
 

Hermione’s mouth went dry; her blood ran cold. She could not have possibly returned home now! Not when she had only just begun to penetrate the wall in which Severus so carefully guarded himself with. She wasn’t finished, her mission had not been completed. How could Dumbledore have wished to send her back already?

Hermione swallowed loudly. “Sir?” she whispered in a rough voice.

The panic started to settle in. Her breathing was becoming erratic and she had begun to sweat.

“My dear girl,” Dumbledore began softly, “please do not worry.”

Don’t worry? How could she not have? She failed. The floor started to look like it was spinning.

“Miss Granger,” he said a little more sternly. “Please listen to what I am saying. I only wish to discuss with you how we are sending you back to your time. I am not stating that it is happening at the present moment.”

Upon hearing him say that, just as quickly as it had come on, the anxiety she had felt a second before began to melt away. He had not intended to send her back. She still had time.

Hermione looked up at Dumbledore sheepishly, as she had started to feel foolish for allowing herself to start falling apart that way. “I’m sorry, sir. The thought of returning home, at this moment, was just a bit of a shock.”

Dumbledore’s eyes softened. “Miss Granger. I will not force you to return if you are not prepared. When the time arrives, come to me, and only then will I assist you with your journey home,” he promised.

When she first arrived to the year 1976, Hermione worried that she might not have been able to return to her original time. She feared that she may had been stuck in the past; forced to live out the rest of her life in a period of time in which she had not belonged. But, from what Dumbledore said, she then knew that she would go home. That was at least one giant weight lifted from her.

“Thank you, sir.”

Dumbledore nodded and smiled sadly. “The burden in which I have placed upon your young shoulders to bear,” he mused quietly as he twisted the golden chain of the Time-Turner between his fingers.

Hermione cocked an eyebrow. Professor Dumbledore had allowed Harry, Ron and herself to find their way into dangerous situations since she was eleven years old. Never once had she remembered him sounding remorseful about it. It struck her as sort of ironic that the Dumbledore of the past, the one who never witnessed children taking on such life risking tasks, was the one who seemed apologetic about it. Perhaps it was her traveling to the past, and taking on that responsibility, that changed his perspective on what young men and women could handle, and the reason he permitted her and her friends to take on much more than any youths should have been allowed.

“Now,” Dumbledore began, snapping Hermione out of her thoughts. “Why I have called for you this evening.”

“Yes, sir?”

Dumbledore gently placed the Time-Turner back on his desk and folded his hands. He began to speak as if they were discussing nothing more complicated than the weather, or what they might have eaten for supper.

“Fortunately, my future self has been gracious enough to leave instructions on how to potentially tweak the device which brought you here to us. From what I have surmised thus far, it appears this will be no easy task, Miss Granger, and will require much time and an abundance of complex spells,” he explained.

“So you will definitely be able to send me back?” Hermione hoped aloud.

Dumbledore sighed. “Definitely is a strong word, Miss Granger.”

Hermione felt her heart drop. “So it’s still not for certain that I will return home, sir?” she asked in a deflated voice.

He shook his head. “How does the saying go? In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Yes?” he asked lightly. Hermione felt a strong impulse to scream.

Had he not realized the seriousness of her position? How could he have sat there and make light of it? Dumbledore is brilliant, that is for sure, but at times he is downright infuriating, she thought sourly.

“Yes, sir. That is how the saying goes.” Acid coated her voice.

Dumbledore chuckled softly at her tone; Hermione could have hexed him.

“Now before you turn your wand on me, as it looks like you are itching to do,” he eyed her wand hand with humor in his eyes. “Rest assured that there is an almost definite possibility of you returning home. I have much confidence in my ability to follow the directions that I, myself, have so generously provided.”

Hermione’s head started to hurt. She didn’t like resting her faith on almost definite. However, if that was all that she had, she decided to trust Dumbledore.

“Thank you, sir.”

 

***

15th October 1976
 

The following day the entire school was abuzz with excitement, due to the first Quidditch match of the year being that weekend; Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw. Apparently it was a highly anticipated match, since the championship game last year were the same two teams. Much to her housemate’s disappointment, they had lost the cup by a mere twenty points and were determined to see the Gryffindors lose spectacularly.

Hermione really couldn’t have been bothered, but she put on a smile and pretended to be invested in tomorrow’s outcome. Only due to the fact that she had recently become friends with nearly half of the Ravenclaw team.

Breakfast was quite similar to what she remembered from her own time at Hogwarts. Members of Gryffindor attempted to poke fun at the Ravenclaws by doing an overly dramatic impression of Otto flailing his arms wildly when he apparently was hit in the head with a bludger, courtesy of Sirius Black, and fell off his broom. It was the play that cost them the game, Otto sadly recounted over a hardly touched plate of food.

“Don’t let them get to you, Otto,” Hermione said while glaring at Sirius, who was just hit in the head with a roll James had thrown at him, then proceeded to flap his arms like a bird and fell backwards onto the floor. The Gryffindors were in an uproar of laughter.

After breakfast, Hermione and Amelia packed up and walked out of The Great Hall together. Hermione was brought up short when she saw Severus leaned up against the wall looking straight at her. Amelia looked at Hermione wide-eyed then to Severus with the same expression. Severus didn’t spare a glance in her direction.

“Devereux,” he nodded. “I was wondering if you wanted to walk to class with me?”

Without intending to, a smile spread across Hermione’s face; she felt jittery, and a part of her knew that it had nothing to do with the coffee she just downed. She heard Amelia sigh beside her.

“I’ll see you in class, Hermione,” she whispered, giving her a look as she left, that told Hermione she would most certainly be questioning her later. The entire time, Severus had not taken his eyes from Hermione.

When Amelia was out of sight, Severus walked towards Hermione and gestured down the hall. “Shall we?”

It was a first. Recently they had only walked together briefly after classes they shared together, never had he greeted her in the morning. That time was usually spent with Amelia.

She found it strangely comfortable to be with him, however. She was nowhere near as intimidated by him as she was when she first arrived. She would even say they had ventured their way towards friendship.

“How was your meeting with Dumbledore last night?” he asked.

Truthfully it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would have been, but still, she would have been lying to herself if she said her discussion with Dumbledore had not left her on edge that morning. It only served to remind her that she was there for a reason. And that reason was looking at her with a neutral expression, waiting for a response.

“It was fine, thank you. He asked how term was going and if I’d made friends yet. If I was finding it difficult to fit in or not. You know, typical Uncle stuff,” she joked with a short laugh.

Severus nodded. “And are you adjusting alright?”

He sounded concerned, she noticed, even if his face tried to portray otherwise.  

“I am,” she admitted and was shocked to realize she’d meant it.

Severus cracked a smile. “Good to hear.”

If someone would have told Hermione a month ago, that she would be walking to class with Severus, having a pleasant conversation with him, and actually would have made him smile, she would have told them they were bonkers. But recently, there had been a change in him. She couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but it seemed that it began that night he snuck in to see her in the hospital wing. That night when he had tried to tell her something – warn her might have been a bit more accurate. She knew the warning was in regards to her attempting to become friends with him, but it seemed it wasn't something that worried him any longer. Not since they had begun studying together each night. The last week in particular, the two of them seemed to be falling easily into a routine. She quite liked the thought of it.

“Hey Devereux –“

She rolled her eyes. “Really, Severus. I think we’re past Devereux, don’t you? Aren't you ever going to call me, Hermione?”

He exhaled over dramatically. “As I was trying to say,” he went on loudly. Hermione pursed her lips. “Are you going to the Quidditch match tomorrow?”

That was an odd question, coming from him, she thought. She figured if anyone would have been less interested in Quidditch than she was, she assumed that would have been Severus. She really hadn’t planned on going, but then she wondered if she should. If he wanted to go with her, that was.

She didn't know how to answer. “Erm…”

The corner of his mouth lifted. “Because if you weren’t, I was going to suggest perhaps practicing non-verbal banishing spells. I…” he trailed off, but it sounded to Hermione that he had mumbled something along the lines of needing her help with them. She perked up immediately at the thought of spending the afternoon alone with him in the castle.

“Of course!” she agreed with genuine enthusiasm.

Severus cleared his throat and gave a stiff nod in response.

When they entered the classroom Hermione took her usual seat next to Amelia and Severus took his next to the Slytherin girl. Hermione tried to ignore the hole Amelia was staring through her, but after a few minutes she couldn't any longer.

“What?” Hermione hissed.

Amelia took a quick glance towards Severus, who was busy unpacking his things for class, then turned back to Hermione with a smirk on her face.

“You fancy him!” she whispered with her nose scrunched like she smelled something rotten.

Amelia couldn’t have been more wrong. Of course Hermione had not fancied him! What an absurd thing for her to have thought. Had she thought that Severus was interesting? Yes. Had she found him oddly attractive? Maybe a little. Had she recently noticed an annoying habit of developing butterflies in her stomach when she’d see him? Possibly. But fancied him? No. No that was just totally off the mark. She was with Ron – sort of. Hermione was not the type of girl who went off with another bloke as soon as the other one was out of sight. She only enjoyed Severus’ company, that’s all. Not to mention, she was trying to save his life.

Hermione snorted. “You could not be more wrong, Amelia,” she scoffed.

Amelia rolled her eyes. “Right. Whatever you say Hermione.”

For the rest of the class, Hermione went out of her way to ignore Amelia. Truthfully, she was irritated with her for coming to such a preposterous assumption. Couldn’t Hermione just have wanted to make a new friend? Would that have been so hard to believe?

Needless to say, she worked extra hard to keep her eyes from landing on Severus’ hunched figure for the entire hour.

During Hermione’s free period, she sat with some of her house mates outside of the castle. To her discomfort, some of the Gryffindors were out there as well. When James, Sirius, Peter and Remus walked by, she thought she heard James say, “But really, Padfoot, don’t you think we should? I mean, I reckon we could get in a lot of trouble if we don’t register and are caught.”

“Prongs,” Sirius whispered, “think about the trouble we'd get into when Dumbledore finds out what we were up to with Moony here each month.”

“I agree with Sirius,” Peter piped in.

“Of course you do,” James hissed.

Hermione turned her head and locked eyes with Remus, who turned bright red and immediately looked away.

“Let's drop it, alright? We’ll discuss this more later,” Remus said quickly.

Hermione had a sinking feeling, because she thought she knew exactly what they spoke of. James, Sirius and Peter were all unregistered Animagi, and she knew it must remain that way. If James was having second thoughts, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to try to nudge him in the right direction.

“Hey, I wanted to ask you all something,” she began loudly, speaking to the small cluster of Ravenclaws, hoping the Gryffindors would listen in.

Her friends’ heads all turned in her direction. “What’s that, Hermione?” Edgar asked.

“Have any of you ever thought of trying to become an Animagus? Because I’ve been tossing the idea around for some time now.”

Her question had the desired effect. She took a glance to her right and noticed that the four boys all stopped dead in their tracks. Each of them tried to act like they were not listening, but not exactly doing the best job at hiding it. Remus threw a panicked look towards James and Sirius, almost like he thought Hermione had just heard them, and understood what they were talking about. James quickly shushed him, and they sat on the grass a few yards away.

Amelia tapped her quill against her lips, “It crossed my mind briefly after seeing Professor McGonagall transform. But it's a lot of work, and also, rather dangerous, isn't it? I don't know if it's something I want that badly to risk permanently damaging myself, should something go wrong.”

In addition to the Gryffindor boys eavesdropping on Hermione’s conversation, she noticed a certain blonde - who was wrapped around Lockhart so tightly, it was almost as if they were one person - future reporter’s attention suddenly turned her way.

Hermione mentally slapped herself. Of course it would be a subject matter of interest to Rita, as well! Rita Skeeter would also be another unregistered Animagus who must remain that way. Without Hermione blackmailing Rita at the end of her fourth year, Harry would never have been able to do that article for The Quibbler during her fifth year.

“If it's something you're seriously considering, Hermione, I'm sure McGonagall would be happy to help you out. Maybe give you some pointers and let you know how to register once you achieve it,” Sturgis suggested.

Hermione could have kissed him for mentioning registering. It was the perfect segue into what she wanted to say, without making it totally obvious.

“See, I don't think I would want to register,” she said with a quick glance towards the boys. She thought she caught a satisfied smirk on Sirius’ face aimed in James’ direction.

“But you'd have to, Hermione,” Amelia began in a serious tone; her forehead creased. “It's the law.”
Hermione hoped beyond hope that her words would resonate with the currently unregistered Animagi, pretending not to listen, all around her.

“But why?” she asked. “Think about it. How would the ministry ever know? And would you really feel comfortable with them keeping such close tabs on you? I don't think I would.”

Sturgis and Amelia looked appalled. “But if you were caught…” Sturgis trailed off.

Edgar smiled. “I agree with Hermione, actually. Just think of what you could get away with if you weren't registered. And how exciting it would be with nobody knowing what you could do.”

Amelia rolled her eyes. “What you could get away with? Tell me, dear brother, what kind of shenanigans do you think you could get into as an animal?”

“Well for starters, my lovely sister, I'd have an easier go of it sneaking into the girls’ lavatories,” he laughed with everyone, except Amelia, joining in.

Amelia closed her eyes and exhaled loudly. “Of course,” she sarcastically agreed.

The conversation died down soon after, then with a sneaky glance towards the Gryffindor boys, Hermione thought that James’ eyes looked glazed over, and she sincerely hoped that he was considering what she had just said.

***

16th October 1976


Saturday morning, as the students filed out of the school after breakfast, Hermione turned the opposite way, in the direction of the Charms classroom where she and Severus had agreed to meet. She hadn't told her friends that she wasn't going to the match, and she hoped that they either wouldn't notice her absence, or wouldn't be too upset with her if they did. A part of her was glad to have a reason not to go. She felt that seeing James play would have reminded her too much of Harry which would have caused her to become incredibly homesick. And she couldn’t afford to lose focus.

When she entered the classroom, she was surprised to see that Severus had not arrived yet. She expected that he would have been in there already, since she had not seen him at breakfast. While she waited for him, she pulled out her wand and summoned the fluffy, purple pillows which Professor Flitwick kept in the room for them to practice banishing and summoning spells, and stacked them neatly into two separate piles on the floor.

She took a look at her watch and decided that if he hadn’t shown in fifteen more minutes, she was going to assume he wasn’t coming and head off to the library to take advantage of its emptiness. With another swish of her wand, she removed one of the pillows, placed it in front of her and sat down cross-legged. To kill some time, she pulled her Defense book from her bag, opened it and began reading the chapter on Vampires she was required to read before next lesson.

After reading for only a few moments, she heard the low thud of a door closing, followed by soft footsteps and the clearing of someone's throat. Hermione closed her book and placed on the floor next to the pillow; Severus towered over her looking more uncomfortable than she had seen him thus far. He shuffled his feet and was playing with the cuff of his sleeve.

“Devereux,” he greeted her as she looked up.

She rolled her eyes and she decided she wasn't going to bother with correcting him again. Hermione hoped one day he would become comfortable enough to use her given name, but for the time being, she'd just let him address her by the false surname. No matter how unhappy it made her.

“Good morning, Severus,” she smiled. “Ready to get to work?”

As she shifted her weight and tried to stand up, she was shocked when she noticed Severus’ outstretched hand. She froze for a moment, completely taken off guard by the surprisingly kind gesture, then hesitantly reached forward and wrapped her hand in his. It was much warmer than she anticipated and once again that lurching feeling jolted in her stomach at his touch.

“Thank you,” she whispered. He nodded once in response and released her hand as soon as she was on her feet.

Severus looked passed Hermione at the pillows on the floor and cocked an eyebrow. “Planning on having a nap?” He asked.

Hermione shook her head. “Why are we here, Severus?” She asked as if speaking to a child. He had not looked amused by her tone. “They're for us to practice.”

“Oh. Right.”

“Come,” she ordered as she made her way next to one of the pillow piles, took out her wand and silently summoned the stray one to rest on top of the others.

Once each of them were stood next to their own stack, Hermione quite easily slipped into the tutoring mentality she was accustomed to from her days of helping Ron and Harry.

“Now,” she began. “As it states in Standard Book of Spells, page two-hundred seventy-“

Severus groaned. “Devereux, I don’t need to hear you regurgitate the textbook. As it happens, I own a copy and could just as easily read it myself.”

Hermione pursed her lips and felt like a bolt of anger flashed through her body. “I thought you needed my help, Severus.”

“I never said that,” he answered in a rush. It was the fastest she’d ever heard him speak.

She laughed out loud; his eyes narrowed. “Oh? So it must have been some other tall, overly cranky, cantankerous, dark-haired boy who mumbled yesterday, I, erm… may possibly need some help,” she challenged in a spot-on imitation of his voice.

At one point she would have been unsettled by his flaring nostrils accompanied by a hostile glare he was throwing her way, but not any longer. Now she stared right back into his black eyes wearing the smirk of a person who knew they had just won an argument.

“You’re insufferable, you know that, don’t you?” he snarled.

Hermione chuckled, “So I’ve been told.” By him, many, many times in the future.  “Well come on then, let’s see what you’ve got. Since you clearly didn’t say you needed any help,” she further taunted.

Severus let out a loud sigh and grasped his wand so tightly, Hermione saw his knuckles turn white. She watched him flourish his wand, but the pillow on top of his pile remained firmly in place. With each wave of his wand, his face grew increasingly more red. After nearly ten minutes of nothing happening, he bared his teeth, and Hermione heard him actually growl. She knew better, however, and stifled the giggle that was threatening to explode from her lips. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep silent.

Hermione couldn’t stand watching him struggle any longer. “Severus?” she asked timidly. Just because she hadn’t been completely intimidated by him at that point, it hadn’t meant there were not still times that he made her nervous.

“What?” he growled through clenched teeth.

“A little advice?”

He dropped his arm to the side and rounded on her; sweat poured from his forehead. “If you must.”

She honestly expected him to tell her to bugger off. If you must was as good as, yes, Hermione, please show me your ways, in her eyes.

“You’re trying too hard. Try not to think of what you’re doing as much. Just sort of… do it,” she explained.

Severus let out a short, bitter laugh. “That’s helpful. Just sort of… do it,” he said in a squeaky impression of her voice.

“Do you want my help or not, Severus?” she snapped. Merlin he was infuriating at times, she thought.

He didn’t respond, but looked at her expectantly. Pretty much a yes in Hermione’s book.

“Alright then. Try not to shout the incantation in your head. Think more of how the spell feels when you cast it. Watch.”

Hermione raised her wand and pointed it at her stack of pillows. As she swished her wand, she wasn’t thinking of the name of the spell, more as she was picturing the pillow moving from point A. to point B. It was like her mind was connected to the wand in her hand, which was furthermore connected to the object she intended to move, all by an imaginary string.

After she was finished, she smiled upon seeing the impressed look Severus quickly tried to hide on his face.

“If I can do it, you can do it, Severus,” she encouraged him.

She thought she saw a small smile flash briefly across his lips as well as him standing a little straighter.

“Alright. I’ll give it another go,” he said.

As she watched him try and try again, Hermione studied his face closely. She tried as hard as she could to ignore the thought of, He’s really quite attractive, that popped into her head. Her attention was taken away from his black eyes when she saw the pillow shake in her peripheral vision.

“That’s it, Severus! You’re getting it!” she cheered on.

She wasn’t sure if it was because of her encouragement or not, but right after, the pillow lifted into the air and soared its way across the room, landing smoothly in front of the door.

“You’ve done it!” she exclaimed.

Severus full out smiled, then began to send the rest of his pile across the room, one pillow at a time.

They continued practicing together for an additional half hour, then decided that was enough for the day. The two of the each took a pillow, placed them on the floor and sat down across from one another. Severus reached for his bag.

“Hungry?” he asked while digging through it.

They had been in there for a few hours, but Hermione hadn’t realized she was hungry until he asked.

“Yes actually.”

“Good,” he said as he pulled out some cucumber sandwiches and two bottles of butterbeer.

Hermione was downright stunned. How - how… thoughtful? She thought.

“I snuck into the kitchens,” he explained, answering the unspoken question that was clearly written on Hermione’s face. “That’s why I was late.”

“That was very considerate of you, Severus. Thank you,” she said as she reached for her sandwich.

The two of them ate in silence for a few moments, but when Hermione looked up, she saw that Severus was staring at her with the most peculiar expression. The way he looked at her, it was like he was trying to figure out a riddle, or trying to translate a particularly difficult Rune. It made Hermione feel uncomfortable and exposed.

“Yes?” she asked after swallowing a bite.

It seemed Severus hadn’t noticed he was staring at her. He casted his eyes down and took a large bite from his food and shook his head.

As she watched the young man in front of her continue with his lunch, she found it hard to believe that he was the same person who would, very soon, join up with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. He hadn’t seemed like the type of person who would buy into that nonsense and it made her wonder what happened that caused him to venture down that dark path. In that moment, he seemed like just a misunderstood boy who was a little awkward, super intelligent and very lonely. Maybe all he needed was a true friend? That was something she would be able to do. That was why she was there.

Soon they were finished eating and agreed it was time to part ways for the afternoon. Surely the match was over and her friends were probably worried, since she hadn’t been seen since breakfast.

After they packed up and left the classroom, before heading off in opposite directions, Severus stopped directly in front of her. He cleared his throat and avoided eye contact with her.

“What is it, Severus?” she asked.

He dawdled for a moment then looked directly into her eyes; Hermione’s heart pounded.

“I just wanted - I mean - erm…” he ran his hand through his hair, it was clear he was incredibly uncomfortable. “Thank you, Hermione,” he said with such weight, it seemed he was thanking her for more than just her help that day.

Hermione’s eyes softened and she mentally cursed those damn butterflies, which now seemed to transform into bats in her stomach. Never had her name sounded more beautiful to her.



A/N: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Is a quote credited to Benjamin Franklin. As always, thank you so, so much Em for looking this over and all of your help and encouragement!! <33



20th October 1976

Hermione was not fancying Severus. There was no way in the name of Merlin that she fancied Severus Snape; no matter how much Amelia had teased her about it, it just wasn't true. At all.

As she walked out of The Great Hall and saw him leaned against the wall, the small smirk that formed on his face at the sight of her caused her heart to stop. Her insides swirled as a wide smile spread across her lips, and her breathing became shallow. She paused and pinched the bridge of her nose. Amelia stopped next to her and snorted

“Still going to deny it?” she whispered with a small laugh.

Hermione was definitely lying to herself, but still narrowed her eyes at her friend.

Please, Amelia. Give it a rest already,” she snapped.

Foolish! Dangerous! Pointless! Impractical! The words sounded off in her head loudly, trying to keep her grounded.

He strode towards her with his head held high and with an air of even more confidence than what usual surrounded him. It seemed she had quite the impact on him as well. Watching him close the distance between them, then wordlessly gestured for her books caused her mouth to run dry.

How had this happened? How had she allowed herself to succumb to such emotional nonsense? She was Hermione Granger, for goodness sake! She was not one to become distracted by crushes, or whatever this was, when there was a life or death task at hand.

Oh yeah? Lockhart; second year. Ring any bells? popped unwelcomed into her mind.

“All right there, Snape?” Amelia asked cheerfully. Hermione nearly elbowed her.

He nodded curtly at Amelia, but again, kept his eyes locked with Hermione's. She felt her cheeks burn.

“Well I'll just leave you two at it then,” Amelia said in a sing-song voice.

Hermione’s wand hand twitched. She hadn’t wanted to to hex her closest friend, but Amelia was making it awfully difficult.

“I'll see you later, Amelia,” Hermione said through her teeth, causing Amelia to laugh loudly before walking away.

When the two of them were alone, Severus raised an eyebrow. “What was that about?” he asked.

Hermione felt her face flush deeper. “No idea,” she lied. “Ready for class?”

A mischievous look flashed in Severus’ eyes and a genuine smile appeared on his face. Hermione felt the breath leave her body at the site of his expression. He looked so young and carefree! She'd never seen that side of him before, and with another punch to the gut, she found herself really liking it.

“I was thinking, if you were up to it of course, that perhaps we...take the day off?”

He looked so hopeful and so excited in that moment. For as much as Hermione shied away from the idea of skiving class, the anxious look on Severus’ face tugged at her heartstrings, and made it damn near impossible to say no. How could she deny him a bit of happiness when she knew how hard it was for him to come by?

She remained silent for so long while, internally deliberating on what to do, that Severus must have assumed she was about to turn him down. The corners of his lips sank into a frown and sadness slowly clouded his eyes.

“I can understand if you don't want-”

Hermione shushed him. “Don't be silly, Severus.” She looked around to make sure no one was around. “Let's go.”

Once again his face lit up. It was so out of the norm of what she had been used to, she couldn't help but to let a small giggle escape her. However, Hermione had already been through her sixth year, so what would be the harm in missing one morning of classes?

“Yeah?” he asked eagerly.

Hermione nodded, then let him lead her through the Entrance Hall and out into the grounds.

It was a chilly October day, the wind was crisp and strong, causing strands of Hermione’s hair to cover her face; it was clear that winter was on its way. She shivered as she wrapped her robes tightly around her and placed her hands in her pockets.

Severus raised his wand and casted a warming charm on each of them. The effects of the charm were instantaneous; it felt like she had just downed a thermos of hot soup the way the warmth slowly traveled throughout her body. She was grateful, but also slightly irritated. She had spent months on the run using that same exact charm. Why hadn't she thought of it?

Her growing feelings for Severus were beginning to become a distraction; that was something she couldn't afford.

Regardless, she flashed a brilliant smile at him. “Thank you for that.”

Severus waved off her apology then reached for her school bag. He tapped his wand to it and Hermione watched as it shrunk down to the size of a sewing nimble.

“You won't be needing this weighing you down. Put it in your pocket for now,” he instructed as he placed it in her hand.

She wasn't sure if he had done it on purpose or not, but he let his fingers linger for just a moment on her palm. His eyes were unsure and she thought she saw just a hint of red fill his cheeks.

When she took her hand away and placed the charmed bag inside her robes, Severus cleared his throat.

“I thought that you might like to accompany me to a place I go to quite often. Usually to be alone.”

It wasn't exactly a question, but the tone in his voice suggested he was still giving her the opportunity to deny him, if she should so desire. By all logical reasoning she should have. She should have kept their meetings in somewhat public places, where she would not subject herself to fall any deeper into whatever her feelings for him were becoming. But as she looked into his hopeful eyes, she faltered. She was only human after all.

“That sounds lovely, Severus.”

Her heart melted when she noticed the way his lips pulled up when she said his name, and the bright look in his otherwise dark eyes when she agreed to go with him.

Severus more or less jogged towards the Black Lake, and Hermione had to full out run to keep up.

“Severus!” she yelled. “Sl - slow down! My legs aren’t as long as yours!”

Thankfully he stopped and waited for her to catch up. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

Hermione arrived next to him and clutched at the stitch that developed in her side. She took a moment to catch her breath and then stood up straight.

“Where are we going?”

They were venturing much further than most students tended to go on a casual walk around the castle on a school day. If she hadn’t known any better, she’d have thought he was taking her to the boathouse.

Severus shook his head. “Nope. Don’t want to spoil it on you.” Then began walking again with Hermione trailing behind.

The inside of her chest fluttered at seeing how excited Severus seemed to be. She had never - not when he was an adult, or while she had known him as a teenager - seen him appear to be so - so…happy.

Just as she suspected, she and Severus stopped when they reached the boathouse. Looking over both shoulders, Severus appeared to be checking to see if anyone was around before grabbing her by the wrist and taking her inside.

“What are you doing?” Hermione hissed. “We could be expelled for this, you know!”

A low chuckle came from Severus. “Don’t worry, Hermione. We’ve - I mean, I’ve been doing this since third year.”

Lily, she assumed, was the we he had just referenced in his slip of the tongue. For some reason, a small bubble of jealousy formed in the center of her chest.

“Oh. Alright then.”

Hermione stood back with her arms folded as Severus untied one of the small boats she had once travelled in on her first night entering Hogwarts. She looked around the small shack, seeing it for the first time ever in the daylight. Cobwebs hung from the ceiling, the wood was warped in most places - she assumed from the moisture that lingered in the air - the windows were fogged over with grime, making it almost impossible to see anything outside, and the musty smell was so strong it turned her stomach.

She turned her attention back to Severus, who was grunting softly as he untied the ropes which bounded the boat to the dock. A bit of water slapped up from all of the movement and caught him right in the face, causing him to freeze in place, stopping what he was doing. Hermione was silent for a heartbeat and then began to laugh hysterically. The surprised look on Severus’ face, with his hair now sopping wet, was one of the funniest things she had seen.

As he used his robes to dry himself, Hermione heard him mutter, “Har, har. Very funny,” before he reached down and splashed her.

The water was ice cold. Her mouth popped opened comically from the sheer shock of what he had just done. Slowly she raised her wand and stalked towards him, a playful smile on her lips.

“You really shouldn’t have done that,” she threatened.

Severus tried to hide his amusement, and instead settled on an exaggerated apology. She found herself easily laughing and having fun with him, which was something she most certainly had never expected to happen. Who was this person? she wondered. He was beginning to let some of his walls down, and the more he did, the more she found herself liking what she saw.

“As frightening as you are, I reckon it’s probably for the best if we get going,” Severus said, gesturing towards the boat he untied.

Hermione casted a quick drying spell on herself and nodded, then stowed her wand back into her pocket.

Severus climbed into the boat first as Hermione stood nervously at the edge of the dock. She had no idea where he was planning on taking her, or why they needed a boat to get there. Also, what if they were caught? She was sure that Dumbledore would not be pleased with her breaking the rules and taking unnecessary risks, due to the nature of her existence in that time period. But when she watched Severus extend his hand to help her into the boat, and saw the small crease form between his eyes, almost as if he was waiting for her to change her mind, all of her doubts washed away, and she placed her hand in his.

As they travelled across the lake Severus seemed to be almost buzzing with excitement. Again it was so unusual to see this teenager, who she had known as a miserable and at times downright mean man, appear so young and normal. Even the younger version that she had first met was completely different than the boy sitting across from her at that moment. She couldn’t help but to smile.

“What are you thinking about?” Severus asked.

Hermione shook her head. She could hardly tell him what thoughts had just run through her head. “Nothing, really. Just enjoying the ride,” she lied.

He cocked an eyebrow, apparently not believing her, but did not press on any further.

The journey across the lake had them in a mutual, yet comfortable silence. Each lost in their own thoughts - Hermione still extremely curious as to where they were going. Suddenly, ahead in the distance, Hermione saw a tiny patch of land and assumed that was where they were headed.

“Is that where we’re going?” she asked and pointed towards the small island. Severus nodded, but did it elaborate.

In no time at all the boat bumped into the shore causing Hermione to lurch forward, and nearly landed on Severus’ lap. Their faces were mere inches apart, and Hermione felt a tension stronger than any she had ever experienced before. She looked into his eyes and felt goosebumps all over - his gaze burned into hers with an inferno like intensity. With a shake of her head, she stopped herself from leaning in and quickly scooted away from him.

Not appropriate! Her conscience screamed. She had to stifle whatever weakness she was developing for Severus. This distraction could potentially cost them both of their lives if she was not more careful.

“So - erm...you come here often?” she asked in a sandpapery voice.

The frown on Severus’ lips, after her backing away, did not go unnoticed by Hermione. His disappointment, and the way it made her stomach twist, certainly was not making things easier for her.

“As often as I can manage,” he responded. The light and playful tone of his voice now gone; he sounded colder.

Hermione stood up and almost lost her balance as the boat swayed from the sudden movement. She steadied herself and this time was the one to extend her hand. “Well we’re not staying in here all day, are we? Show me what’s so special about this place,” she teased.

He glanced at her hand for a moment. The way he looked at it, it was like he was almost afraid it would bite him. But to her delight, he tentatively lifted his arm and wrapped his long fingers around her palm, while she tried to ignore the almost electric feeling his touch caused. Hermione pulled and helped him up - the boat rocked even more. She had to grip onto the side tightly to keep from going over.

“Let’s get out of this thing before I lose you in the lake,” Severus said, while rolling his eyes and letting out a short laugh.

Together they climbed onto the shore and the moment their feet hit the ground, she let go of his hand. It was a small piece of land, no bigger than a Quidditch Pitch. Willow trees were sporadically growing from all places on the island, and the grass was well up past her ankles. It was obvious the place was rarely, if ever visited. Yet there was something kind of charming about the space. It was almost as if they were in their own world, not only completely separate from Hogwarts, but from the rest of the Wizarding community as well - and most of all, from the developing war happening outside of the castle’s walls.

“It’s beautiful here,” Hermione whispered.

Severus placed both hands on her shoulders as he smirked at her. “You haven’t seen the best part yet.”

Hermione stiffened.

He applied light pressure, gently turning her back towards the lake. Hermione sucked in a sharp breath. The view was the most wonderful she had ever seen.

Hogwarts was off in the distance, it’s silhouette dominating the most of the space before her. The mountains behind the castle seemed to stretch on for all eternity, and the Black Lake looked as if it had a Shimmering Charm placed upon it. Two birds soared through the air above them, and for a nice change, patches of white fluffy clouds filled the sky. The scene in front of her looked more like a painting than anything that could exist in real life. She almost felt like she was seeing Hogwarts for the first time all over again.

“Severus...it’s - it’s the most wonderful thing I think I’ve ever seen. It’s honestly magical,” she said in a voice as soft as the wind that blew around them.

Until she had broken the silence, she hadn’t noticed that Severus still had his hands resting on her shoulders. She shivered lightly from the contact, and then again when his breath tickled her ear as he spoke to her.

“I thought you would appreciate this.”

Hermione was at a loss for words. Never would she have pictured Severus Snape coming to a place like this. He always appeared to her as someone who would rather spend his time hiding in a dark and quiet place, such as the dungeons of the castle, or as they had been in often, the Library. She was continually seeing more and more of an entirely different side of him, one that was making it nearly impossible for her to deny her feelings for.

Very gently, as to not offend him, she removed herself from his grip, pretending to take a walk around to see more of his secret place he decided to share with her.

“How did you come to find this?” She asked as her hand gently grazed the leaves from the Weeping Willow she stood under. It was so far from the school, she had never noticed it before, not even once the entire time she attended Hogwarts.

When she turned around, a dark shadow crossed over Severus’ face. He exhaled loudly and lowered himself to the ground, where he sat with his legs stretched out before him. Hermione hesitated for a moment, then went to join him, tucking her legs to the side as she sat down.

“An unpleasant event, which turned into a lucky surprise,” he told her with steel in his voice.

Hermione’s interest was piqued. She tilted her head to the side and waited for him to elaborate.

Severus looked over her shoulder, back towards the school, as she watched his expression morph into a scowl.

“I’m sure you have noticed my…relationship with Potter and his merry gang of morons,” he stated.

“Erm...yes,” Hermione answered, knowing that if this story had anything to do with those boys, it was not going to be a particularly happy memory for Severus.

“During our third year - it was our first trip to Hogsmeade, actually - I was the fortunate target of another one of their ludicrous pranks.”

The sneer that was so uniquely Severus’ returned to him, making him look much more like the older version of himself than the teasing and almost cheerful teenager she was with minutes before.

“Obviously I was excited to visit the village. We all were. But on my walk down, I had the good luck of running into them. Of course they ganged up on me, as they tend to do. It’s not as if any of the cowards would face me on their own. They always have to band together, like a pathetic little pack of rabid dogs.”

Hermione couldn’t help but to feel a small twinge of dislike for James, Sirius and Remus at that moment. Peter she had already despised, so her opinion of that man hadn’t changed. But to watch Severus as he recalled being so outnumbered - even though she had seen it first hand at that point - made her want to go back to the school and hex the three of them silly. Perhaps she would have a little chat with Remus next time they were together.

Severus continued with his story, pulling Hermione out of her thoughts.

“They found me walking alone, on my way to meet a friend, and thought it would be a right laugh to immobilize me. We were near the boathouse, and Potter suggested stuffing me in a boat and setting it free.”

Hermione inhaled sharply. What an awful thing to do to someone, she thought. It was no wonder he hated them all so much. “Oh Severus,” she whispered and placed her hand on his calf. His eyes widened a fraction when she had done so, but very quickly his expression went dark once more.

“As you could probably guess, they went on with their plan. Here I was at thirteen, frozen and floating Merlin knows where across the lake.”

She assumed that he must have arrived at the island at some point, but there was one thing she couldn’t work out.

“How on earth did you manage to get back?” she asked.

“Dumbledore.”

Of course, she thought.

“When all of the students returned from Hogsmeade, it was brought to the headmaster’s attention that I was not seen the entire day. The person who went to Dumbledore also suspected, or knew, who was behind my disappearance.”

Severus began pulling pieces of grass from the ground. He looked so pained that Hermione fought the urge to wrap her arms around him and to let him know that he had her now, and no one would mess with him like that again while she was around.

“Six hours I was stuck in that boat. But when Dumbledore finally arrive and lifted the curse on me, I saw this.” He gestured around the land they sat on, and towards the view of the school and the mountains. “I knew it would be the perfect place to get away when needed.”

She took a moment to look around and found herself agreeing with him. No one would ever find someone there, not if they did not want to be found.

“What happened to Potter and his friends?” Hermione asked.

Severus smiled at her sarcastically. “Detention. Just one.” He threw the handful of grass he had just plucked back on the ground. “They should have been expelled,” he grumbled.

Hermione felt horribly for him. “That’s all? One detention? But Severus, you could have been seriously hurt! What if the boat capsized? You could have been killed!” She felt her face flush with anger.

“The old - erm...your Uncle seems to have a bit of a soft spot when it comes to the moronic foursome,” he said through his teeth. “As do half the school - including staff.”

She was starting to work out how Severus ended up so miserable and bitter. He had obviously felt alone and mistreated while he was in shool. Even by his Professors, who were supposed to remain neutral and not show favoritism. But even she couldn’t deny that from her own personal experience, she, Ron and Harry were the ones who always seemed to receive a free pass from Professor Dumbledore. If she were being honest with herself, there were too many times to count that she and her friends should have been expelled from the school.

“I’m so sorry, Severus,” she whispered.

He jerked his head up and looked at her with anger still in his eyes. “I don’t need pity,” he snapped.

Hermione sighed. “Yes, I know that. And I’m not pitying you. I am truly sorry for what happened to you. No one deserves that.”

Severus shrugged his shoulders, almost like saying to her that it was no big deal. “I’m used to it.”

“Well...you shouldn't be,” she told him.

They sat together quietly for a few minutes. Hermione was trying to figure out a way to change the subject, to talk about something that would pull him out of the sulky mood he was slipping into.

Then she thought of something.

“Severus?”

He looked back to Hermione and jerked his head up, as if silently asking, ‘what?

“Are you planning on attending Slughorn’s Halloween party?”

Severus was another member of the ever exclusive Slug Club, which in their last meeting they had all been informed about the Professor’s party he planned on throwing for them with, as he put it, “Some of the most important and influential Witches and Wizards in Britain,” attending. Hermione rolled her eyes at the thought.

“Sort of have to, considering I'm part of that ridiculous club, and he's my head of house,” he answered, then eyed her suspiciously. “Why?”

“Just curious, that's all,” she said with a shrug.

After she responded, Severus dropped his gaze to the ground. He started to tug on the cuff of his sleeve and cleared his throat.

“Hermione?” his voice cracked a bit. “Do - erm. I mean, would you like to perhaps, er...would you like to go with me?” he mumbled, not looking at her as he asked.

“Like as in a date?” Her voice went up an octave in a panic.

As much as her heart was fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird, and as much as the idea of him asking her on a date sent her pulse into overdrive, she had to remind herself that it was not why she was there. If she had feelings for Severus that was one thing. It was something she could tuck away and manage. But if he started to have feelings for her as well...that was a mess did not want to happen.

He obviously picked up on her tone and began to backtrack. “No, of course not,” he said in a rush. “Not unless you want it to be.”

Hermione had to nip this immediately.

“Severus, I think it would be best if we went as friends,” she stressed.

When he looked back up at her, it tore at her heart to see the strained smile he gave her. “Of course. Friends,” he agreed in a monotone voice.

The disappointment was plainly visible on his face and Hermione knew it was not the first time that Severus had heard the just as friends response in his life. She hated to do it to him, but truly she had no other choice.

After the awkwardness of the moment passed, Hermione and Severus slipped back into easy conversation. Severus began asking her questions of her childhood and what her life was like before she had come to Hogwarts. Mostly she tried to stick to the truth, obviously omitting details which would have revealed her true identity. But for the most part, every story about her youth that she told him was true.

Hermione learned a little about Severus’ past. There were some things that he remained vague about when he spoke, and some questions that he just would not answer. However she did learn that he'd come from a neglectful and borderline abusive home. His father being a Muggle alcoholic, with a mother who had given up years ago, and accepted the abuse of herself and her only son without putting up a fight.

Her heart ached for Severus, and the more she learned about him and his past, the more she began to understand the choices he would come to make in his future. She only wished there was a way she could stop him from making those choices, but knew she was not able to. The reality of that fact made her want to vomit.

About midday, Hermione and Severus decided to make their way back to the castle, as both of them had grown rather hungry. The morning with him was an enjoyable one for the majority of the time. Only those few moments when they had come across difficult and painful topics had been a little rough. But other than that, she laughed with him and felt more carefree than she had in many, many months.

When they arrived back at the castle, Severus remember that he needed to get something from the Slytherin common room and told Hermione he would meet up with her later. They parted ways in the Entrance Hall and Hermione began to make her way to the Great Hall for lunch.

Just as Severus disappeared around a corner, she heard a girl’s voice call her name. When she turned around she felt like all the color had drained from her face.

Lily Evans was standing alone and glanced down the hall Severus had just been in, then back at Hermione with a look of deep concern on her face. As Hermione looked at her long red hair, flawless skin, and stunning green eyes, she couldn't help but to think Lily was exceptionally beautiful. I could never compete with that, she found herself thinking.

“I hope you don't think I'm completely mental, but I was wondering if I may have a word?” she asked.

Hermione nearly went numb. “Erm, absolutely Lily. What can I help you with?”

Lily looked every bit as uncomfortable as Hermione felt. Her face was bright red and she seemed to be having trouble making eye contact with Hermione.

“I just realized that we haven't had the chance to speak much since that first day. How has term been treating you so far?”

Hermione had a feeling that that was not why Lily had stopped her, but Hermione played along. She put on an innocent smile and slipped easily back into the character of Hermione Devereux. She hadn’t realized that she was behaving more like Hermione Granger during her morning with Severus.

“Really well, actually. The coursework isn't as difficult as I feared it might have been, and everyone I've met has been very lovely,” she responded in the shy voice she had adopted for her alter persona.

Lily nodded and smiled back at Hermione. “I'm glad to hear that.”

The thing that saddened and surprised Hermione was that Lily genuinely did sound as if she was happy to hear that Hermione was settling in smoothly. Yet she remained tense, waiting for the topic she was sure Lily was bound to bring up.

Hermione didn't have to wait long.

“Please forgive me for prying, and I'm sorry if I come across as meddling, but I've noticed you're spending a fair amount of time with Severus Snape.” The slight curl of Lily’s lip when she said his name, and the way her cheeks darkened more did not escape Hermione’s notice.

Keeping her expression as neutral as she could manage, Hermione responded. “Yes. He's become one of my closest friends actually.”

Lily nodded slowly and looked down towards the ground. She didn't exactly look sad, but there was some emotion that Hermione couldn't quite read that briefly crossed her face.

“I know it's not my place, but since you're new, I feel like I should at least give you a little bit of a warning,” Lily said quietly. “I know he may seem like a decent person now, but there is a dark side to him, Hermione. And, well...just be careful is all.”

Under normal circumstances Hermione would have been entirely annoyed by someone prying into her personal business the way Lily had just done. But considering she knew what happened between Severus and Lily, and who Lily was, Hermione felt a small amount of gratitude towards the obviously uncomfortable girl standing before her.

A genuine smile formed on Hermione’s lips. “Thank you, Lily. I will certainly keep that in mind.”

Lily looked up and smiled back at Hermione. Once again she found herself a little taken aback when looking into her eyes - Harry’s eyes, but quickly shook herself out of it. Even though she had been there for nearly two months at that point, some things were still surreal for her.

“Come on, I’ll walk with you to lunch,” Lily offered.

“Thanks, Lily. I’d like that.”

And in a bizarre turn of events, Hermione found herself walking side by side, having a now delightful conversation, with Lily Evans for the first time since she had arrived to Hogwarts that year.



23 October 1976


If there was one thing that the past had in common with Hermione’s own time, it was how quickly news spread throughout Hogwarts. She wasn't sure how everyone in the school seemed to know that she was attending Slughorn’s Halloween party with Severus, but it was clear they did. Whispers followed her down the corridors and throughout the Great Hall, and all of that extra attention was the last thing she wanted.

Saturday afternoon Hermione sat across from Amelia during lunch, when she noticed three Slytherin girls with their heads together giggling and looking in her direction. Hermione's face burned as she lowered her head and tried to concentrate on the food in front of her.

“I'm sorry people are being so rude,” Amelia said quietly with a glare towards the Slytherin girls.

Hermione shrugged and took a bite of her sandwich. It wasn't the first time she had been the subject of cruel whispers and misinformed rumors.

“I mean, I sort of understand why people are talking,” Amelia continued. “Snape isn’t typically the type to have a date.”

“It's not a date,” Hermione grumbled quietly.

Amelia ignored Hermione’s protest and went on. “And face it, Hermione. You're new, pretty and extremely intelligent. You could probably have taken any bloke in the school you wanted.”

Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes.

“Amelia. I've told you at least a hundred times. We’re just going as friends.

The corner of Amelia’s mouth lifted in a patronizing way. It took all of Hermione’s strength not to storm off on her friend.

“Alright. It's not a date. But you have to admit, those who are just hearing it through the rumor mill would take it that way.”

“I suppose so...but I don't care what people think. Severus and I know where we stand,” Hermione said firmly.

Amelia looked like she was about to say something, but then thought better of it and instead focused on her food. Hermione glanced over towards Severus and gave him a tight smile when she saw he was watching her as well.

Her attention was taken away from Severus when Remus sat down besides Hermione, which caused Amelia to immediately sit straight up with a huge smile.

“Alright there, Remus?” she asked brightly.

Hermione noticed a touch of red tint Remus’ cheeks as he nodded and quietly said hello.

“Hey, Remus. What brings you to our table?” Hermione asked.

It wasn’t completely unusual for Remus to sit with them towards the end of lunch, or sometimes breakfast, but he also didn’t do so frequently. This was the first time in about two weeks since he last did.

He looked uncomfortable, Hermione noticed, as he cleared his throat and shifted in his seat. She wondered if there was something wrong.

“Erm...please don’t get angry for me asking, but I heard something from James and Sirius, and I was just wondering if it was true,” he said while keeping his eyes on the table.

Hermione glanced towards Amelia, who was covering her mouth with her hand, clearly trying to keep from laughing. It was obvious that both Hermione and Amelia knew what Remus was inquiring about. It was an enormous feat for Hermione to keep from growling.

After a loud breath, Hermione twisted herself so that she was facing Remus.

“If they’re talking about me attending Slughorn’s Halloween party with Severus, then yes, Remus. It is true that we are going together as friends.” She made sure to emphasize again that this was strictly platonic.

She wondered what was the matter with the teens of this era that they had such a difficult time accepting that two people could go to a party together with no romantic intentions. Yes it was true that she and Severus spent quite a bit of time together, but so did Remus, James, Sirius and Peter. And that didn’t mean that they were all dating.

Remus nodded then finally brought himself to make eye contact with Hermione. Instead of the contrite, apologetic look she was expecting, he looked more concerned for her. He reminded her so strongly of Professor Lupin, rather than her friend Remus at that moment.

“Hermione...I -- I don’t know if you know, but he and Lily --”

If she had to hear about that one more time, she was certain she would hex someone.

“I’m going to stop you right there, Remus,” she began with more steel in her voice that she normally would have used, but her patience was worn thin in regards to the subject of she and Severus, and people telling her what had happened between him and Lily Evans. So far Amelia, Edgar and Otto felt they needed to warn her. She knew they had her best intentions at heart, but it angered and insulted her that they didn’t think her capable of taking care of herself, or having good judgement when it came to the company she chose to keep.

“What happened between the two of them is really no one’s business besides theirs. I haven’t even brought it up to him, because quite frankly, even though it was rotten, people do make mistakes. He and I get along, and I’m not going to ruin a friendship because of something that happened before I even attended this school.”

The rueful look she had anticipated a moment ago made an appearance on Remus’ face. A large part of her felt satisfied seeing it, if she was being honest with herself.

“Of course, Hermione. You're right. It really isn't my place to say anything. I'm sorry,” he told her.

“Thank you, Remus,” she answered shortly.

After that Remus and Amelia fell into a conversation regarding the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend, which just so happened to fall on the same day as the Halloween party. Hermione’s mind drifted away from the pair of them talking, travelling to the small island that she and Severus had visited a few days prior, and how her heart seemed to skip a beat when he held her hand in his.

The more she thought about it, the more she understood why most of the student body had thought she and Severus had become an item. The two of them spent nearly every evening alone together in the library, walked together to most of their classes, and had become Slughorn’s prize students in their potions class. Certainly she wasn't the only one who had noticed Severus smiling and actually laughing when the two of them were together, and she was also certain everyone knew how unusual that behavior was for him.

Without intending to, her eyes travelled towards the Slytherin table and she found a familiar black pair looking back at her.

What was that about? Severus mouthed as he glanced at Remus.

Hermione gave a minute shake of her head. Nothing, she mouthed back.

He jerked his head towards the exit and stood up from his seat. Hermione nodded.

“So I'm going to…” Hermione trailed off as she stood up.

Amelia turned around and let out a short laugh when she saw Severus headed towards the door.

“Right,” she said with an eye roll. “Have a nice time with your friend,” she joked, which caused Remus to choke on his pumpkin juice.

Hermione glared at the two of them. “I'll see you in the common room,” she said to Amelia, pretending she didn't hear her comment. “Bye, Remus.”

“See you ‘round, Hermione,” said Remus after he caught his breath.

“Severus,” she said when she reached the door.

His eyes seemed to lighten when she said his name, she immediately felt a flutter at the sight.

“Hermione,” he responded with a half-smile.

She really enjoyed the agreeable and pleasant side of Severus she had been seeing recently. He was like a new person, not at all the man she had come to know in her lifetime. She was definitely thinking of them as two different people, and that could potentially become quite dangerous for her.

“What would you like to do today?” he asked as they left the Great Hall and began a slow walk through the corridor.

“Well,” she began and looked out the window with a frown. “I was hoping we could have gone to your island again, but the rain sort of put a damper on that idea.” She giggled at her own sad excuse of a joke and then full out laughed when Severus snorted and rolled his eyes at her.

“That was pathetic,” he told her in a dry voice, yet the smile on his face told her he found it funny.

She flashed him a wide smile then playfully elbowed him. “That was brilliant and you know it.”

“Yes, absolutely stellar. Hermione Devereux, ladies and gentlemen. She'll be here all week.”

Hermione loved when Severus genuinely laughed, as they did together then. It was wonderful to see him appear so human and normal. Not to mention, she found the deep baritone of his laugh to be rather adorable.

Once they both had controlled themselves, Severus stopped and looked down at her.

“Library?” he asked.

They did have a two foot Potions essay that was due the following week. It probably wouldn't have been a bad idea to get a head start on it since the weather was so miserable.

“I'll go get my bag and meet you there?”

“Sure. I’ll see you shortly then.”

Just before they parted ways, a lock of hair fell into Hermione’s eyes, which Severus immediately reached for and carefully tucked behind her ear. She took in a sharp breath when he let his hand linger there for a moment. He froze, almost like he was just as shocked as she was at what he did. She was positive that her face was as red as his when she cleared her throat and awkwardly thanked him.

He took a step back while rubbing the back of his neck. “Erm...right. So we’ll meet up in -- in a little bit,” he stammered.

“Right,” Hermione whispered.

While making her way towards Ravenclaw tower, Hermione could still feel the ghost of Severus’ hand on her cheek. Her mind began to wander forming pictures of him leaning in towards her, and her standing on her toes to close the distance between them as he placed his lips onto hers.

“No,” she said aloud, causing a boy in a nearby portrait, who was attempting to steal sweets from a kitchen table, to yelp and run out of his frame into a neighboring portrait.

“Sorry,” she mumbled to him as he tried to hide behind a sheep in the field he was now standing in.

When she arrived into her common room, Edgar and Otto were hunched over a model Quidditch set going over moves for their upcoming match against Slytherin.

“Hey, Hermione!” Otto called over to her while Edgar gave an enthusiastic wave.

Hermione smiled and said hello to the boys, then stopped to have a brief chat. Otto tried to explain to her what they were going over, but when the boys spoke of Quidditch, they might as well have been speaking Chinese to her. She still didn't understand Wrongski Fainting, or whatever blasted thing it was. So mostly she just nodded politely and threw in a, “Sounds wonderful,” or “That should work,” when it seemed appropriate.

When she told them that she was sorry but had to go, Edgar frowned.

“You're meeting him again, aren't you?” he asked sounding disappointed.

Hermione felt a small stab of guilt at his tone. She really hadn’t made as much time for her housemates lately as she did in the beginning of term. Even though she did have a purpose there, she supposed it wouldn't hurt to make more of an effort with her friends.

She nodded. “Coursework,” Hermione said as if that explained everything.

“You're always doing coursework,” Otto whined. “We miss you.”

It was a mistake to let them become so attached, she knew that deep down. But she tucked those thoughts away and promised them that she would devote the entire following evening to them and Amelia. Edgar and Otto immediately brightened up and began planning what they could all do in lieu of school work. Hermione had to remind them a few different times that they needed to keep their ideas within the rules of the school. There was no way she was going to sneak out, steal brooms and fly down to Hogsmeade for the night. No matter how many times they begged.

Much later than she anticipated, she finally arrived to the library to find Severus seated in the back checking his watch. When she pulled her chair out to sit across from him, he frowned.

“What took so long?” he asked.

A part of her knew that he was worried she wouldn't show after what happened before they parted. As she took her books, a quill and a bottle of ink from her bag, she sighed.

“Otto and Edgar cornered me in the common room.”

The small flash of something that looked like disapproval in his eyes did not go unnoticed by her. She knew that Severus was not exactly fond of her friends, since he usually mumbled something about ‘big shot Quidditch prats’ when she mentioned them.

Hermione tried to hide her smirk when he scowled and responded, “Lovely,” though his tone suggested he thought it was anything but.

“Severus,” she scolded gently. “They're really pretty alright when you get to know them.”

“I'm sure they are,” he said in the dry way that was uniquely Severus’.

Hermione laughed as she opened her book.

“Fine. Let's just get started, shall we?”


***
24th October 1976


The Ravenclaw Common Room was alive with ruckus laughter as Hermione and her friends played a Muggle game called Truth or Dare.

Otto had just stripped down to his pants and gave an off key rendition of the Hogwarts school song from the top of a table near the wall. After that most of the first and second years cleared off, clearly intimidated by the older students.

After everyone caught their breath and settled down, Otto looked carefully between the group, who were all trying to avoid his gaze in the hopes that they wouldn't be next.

“Hermione,” he finally said with a Cheshire grin.

She covered her face with her hands. It was the first she'd been called on, and since most of the dares consisted in losing some or all articles of clothing, she whispered, “Erm...Truth,” through her fingers.

There were some moans of disappointment and someone called her a chicken, but everyone fell silent after Amelia yelled for them to shut it.

Otto stroked his chin, looking like he was in deep thought over what to ask her. Hermione’s palms were sweating as she waited. From the corner of her eye she noticed a wide smile cross Rita’s face before she leaned in and whispered something into Otto’s ear. His eyes lit up as he chuckled.

“Perfect!” he exclaimed.

Rita aimed an arrogant look Hermione’s way as she tucked herself back into Lockhart’s arms.

“Alright, Hermione,” Otto began. “Is it true that you're having some sort of secret relationship with Severus Snape?”

She should have seen this question coming. Perhaps it would had been better for her to have ended up in her bra and knickers singing something ridiculous after all.

Every eye was on her. You could hear a pin drop in the common room at that moment.

“Look how red her face is!” Rita yelled with a snide laugh. “There's your answer right there!”

“No -- I. There's nothing --” she stammered.

“Oh come off it, Hermione,” Alice said. “You're together all the time. And you never smile as much as you do when you're with him.”

Hermione threw a panicked glance Amelia’s way, but she just shrugged.

“It's sort of true, Hermione,” Amelia said softly.

Traitor! Hermione shouted in her mind.

“There's nothing wrong with it. Even if he is a little gross,” Dorcas told her with a giggle.

Hermione’s limit was reached. She stood up quickly and glared at all of them.

“For the last time, he is just my friend!” she shouted. Everyone’s eyes widened at her outburst. “And that's cruel, Dorcas. There's nothing gross about him at all. In fact, he's highly intelligent and quite funny once you get to know him. He's a good friend! Better than you're all proving to be at the moment!”

With her chest heaving in anger, she turned from the group and stormed through common room without sparing a glance in their direction. Even with a few of them calling her name and shouting hasty apologies as she went.

“Well that's an obvious yes,” she heard that wretched Rita say, before the door closed behind her.

As she stormed her way through the corridors, her feet seemed to automatically take her to the one place that always brought her comfort -- the library.

She skirted around the tables and through the aisles of books seeking out the back table she and Severus always shared. Her mind was a jumbled mess of anger and confusion.

Why did she become so angry? Oh who was she fooling? She really couldn't deny it any longer. The moment that Dorcas called him gross she realized it. She had moved passed Ron and her affections had fallen upon someone else. Someone who was more like her. Someone who valued learning and knowledge. Someone who debated with her and challenged her. Someone who pushed her to her limits. She indeed had fallen for Severus Snape.

Now the question was, what would she do about it? She didn't know how long she would be in the past. And the more she thought about it, Severus had been giving off some hints that he possibly developed feelings for her as well. That stunt he pulled with her hair the day before, and the way he left his hand on her cheek more than proved that. Or when they were in the boat together, face to face, the tension in that moment was so thick you could have cut it.

Would her pursuing a relationship with Severus end up being part of the reason she was sent back to that time period? Would that be how she would show him his worth? And if she did, she would only hurt him once she had to return to her own time.

It was a lot to think about, and she knew she couldn't make any rash decisions. Besides, it was completely possible she had misread the signs she thought she saw from him.

She needed some time to mull this over. Possibly even a few days away from Severus to clear her head.

She jumped violently when a hand grasped her shoulder.

“Hermione? Are you alright?” he asked softly.

When she turned around and looked into those deep black eyes, which were filled with concern, she knew then and there that she wouldn't be able to stay away from him. Not even for just a few short days.

Damn, she thought.


30th October 1976 - Hogsmeade

His hand rested on Hermione’s shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. Resisting the urge to face him, she remained still, only tentatively lifting her arm to place her hand upon his long, slender fingers. The silence of the library was heavy, and only further reminded her of how alone they were in that moment, since it was nearly curfew. Her entire body reacted to his closeness, an electricity seemed to flow through her veins as she felt his breath warm on the back of her neck.

“Hermione?” he asked in rough whisper.

Slowly she stood up from her chair and turned to face him. Looking up into his black eyes, they seemed to have a spark in them which she had never seen before; her stomach clenched at the sight. Severus’ lips parted just a hair and Hermione saw the resolve form in his eyes. She gulped as she realized what was about to happen; Hermione had no intentions on stopping it.

With purpose and a steady hand, he reached forward and wrapped his fingers in her long black hair, pulling her head back. She took in a sharp breath as she watched his pupils dilate. When he leaned in towards her, Hermione closed her eyes -- her heart pounded with anticipation. She was finished fighting it. Who knew how long she would be in the past? Her feelings were too strong and too real to ignore. She would grant herself, and Severus, this little slice of happiness in their lives.

After what felt like an eternity, Severus’ lips lightly pressed against Hermione’s. She then threw caution to the wind, and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer.

He was more experienced than she would have expected, as his lips formed around hers almost like they were two pieces of a puzzle which were destined to fit together. Her heart swelled; she felt a happiness she could not ever remember feeling before. She felt whole.

“Hermione?”

Suddenly everything around her began swirling, like steam in a hot shower. It started becoming difficult to see Severus through the mist. An iciness crept up her stomach and formed a tight grip around her chest.

“Hermione?”

Her surroundings continued to fade.

“Wake up, Hermione.”

Severus, along with everything else around them began to evaporate. She reached out for him, but her hand went right through him, as if he was a ghost.

“Hey, it's time to get up,” Amelia quietly coaxed from the side of Hermione’s bed.

“No,” Hermione groaned, as she attempted to cling to the remnants of the dream she was rudely ripped away from.

Her eyes remained closed, but all she saw now was darkness. All she felt was the warmth of her pillow against the side of her lips. The only thing wrapped around her was her comforter. Severus and his embrace were gone.

Amelia chuckled as she pulled the covers off Hermione.

“Come on, we’re going to be late if you don't get your arse out of that bed.”

Hermione scowled at her friend, sat up and wiped the sleep from her eyes. She didn't know what she was more aggravated with, the fact that she was taken out of a wonderful dream, or that she was currently freezing after Amelia had taken her blankets off of her.

“Don't get your wand all in a twist, I'm coming,” Hermione grumbled.

As Hermione stretched and swung her legs over the edge of her bed, the dream was still fresh in her mind. Of course that night in the library hadn't played out quite like that at all. Yes, he did place his hand on her shoulder, but instead of reciprocating the contact he initially made, Hermione shrugged him off, terrified of her newly realized feelings for Severus Snape.

The week that followed was one of the more confusing ones she had ever endured. Every word, every action, every touch, and even every last breath she took was carefully measured. She had reached the decision of not acting on her feelings for Severus whatsoever. Doing so would have been incredibly foolish, not to mention exceptionally dangerous. But that did not make being near him any easier. In fact, being in his presence was proving to be more difficult than she would have anticipated. When she first realized she fancied Ron, the most she had to worry about was whether or not he fancied her back, but with Severus, she worried she could potentially ruin the very fabric of time. She could not let her emotions jeopardize the lives of so many people -- including her own.

“Are you going to sit there all morning, or are you going to get ready to go to Hogsmeade?” Amelia asked, standing in front of Hermione with her hands on her hips.

Hermione forced a smile and stood up. “Sorry,” she mumbled. “I'll get ready now.”

When the girls arrived to the Great Hall, the excitement in the air was palpable, as it always the first Hogsmeade visit of term. Conversations seemed louder than normal while the students quickly stuffed food into their mouths, trying to eat as fast as they could so they could hurry to the Wizarding village. Nearly all of their friends were just about finished with breakfast by the time Hermione and Amelia arrived.

“What took you so long?” Edgar whined as the girls sat down.

Amelia jerked her head towards Hermione.

“Someone -- not mentioning any names -- had a little bit of a sleepy start to their day,” she jokingly complained.

Hermione’s cheeks flushed as Edgar shook his head in mock disappointment.

“Tsk, tsk, Hermione,” he said.

Otto playfully elbowed Hermione’s side.

“Maybe if someone wasn’t out so late with a certain Slytherin, then just maybe they would have had more sleep,” he scolded with a wink and a cheeky grin.

Hermione's face burned hotter as she rolled her eyes and told him to shut it. For the last week she had tried to control her temper when it came to the jokes she had to endure regarding Severus -- she realized they were unavoidable, considering the amount of time she spent with him.

Amelia, who felt terrible after Hermione storming off the previous weekend, immediately changed the subject.

“Edgar, don't forget mum’s birthday next week. I reckon we should get her something while we’re in Hogsmeade today.”

While Amelia and Edgar began arguing over what to get their mother, Hermione drifted off into her thoughts. Severus still hadn’t given her a straight answer on whether he wanted to go to the village or not. She knew he was worried about James and Sirius, since he had not had any good experiences with them any time he attempted to join the rest of his classmates in the village. If he wished to stay behind, she would remain at the castle with him, but truthfully, she wanted to go. There were some items she was running low on, and also she felt it would be nice to get away from Hogwarts, if only for a few hours.

Suddenly she noticed that her friends grew uncharacteristically silent, and Amelia looked passed Hermione, wearing an expression equivalent to someone who had just witnessed a Hippogriff come dancing into the Great Hall on its hind legs. It didn't take long for Hermione to figure out what caused that flabbergasted look.

“Hey, Snape…” Amelia said, with an inflection which made it sound more like a question.

Hermione was stunned. Severus had never come to her table before. Edgar and Otto narrowed their eyes, before quietly returning to their food.

“Bones,” Severus responded as Hermione turned around. “Are you ready?” he asked, looking down at her.

His discomfort would have gone unnoticed by her housemates, but Hermione noticed the small crease between his eyebrows, and the way he pulled at the cuff of his left sleeve.

She wasn't nearly finished eating, but her nerves seemed to fill up the rest of her stomach. She wouldn't have been able to have another bite if she tried.

“Erm...yes. Yes, we can go now if you'd like,” she said, earning a loud sigh from Amelia.

“You're not coming with us, I take it?” Amelia asked.

Hermione’s stomach twisted guiltily upon hearing the disappointment in her voice. Again she had to remind herself not to feel badly about it; Severus was her number one priority.

“I'm sorry, Amelia. We’d already made plans, and…” she trailed off, not quite sure how to explain further.

Amelia’s eyes travelled between Severus and Hermione, before her shoulders slumped in defeat.

“I get it,” she said. “Make sure you save a little time for me later on, yeah?”

“I will, Amelia. Promise,” Hermione said sincerely.

With a quick goodbye to the Edgar and Otto, Hermione stood from her seat and followed Severus out of the Great Hall and into the corridor.

“So...Hogsmeade?” he asked once they were alone.

“What made you change your mind?” Hermione tried to hide her smile.

Severus glanced at her from the side of his eye and a small smirk spread across his lips.

“I had a feeling you didn't want to be cooped up in the castle,” he said then shrugged. “Besides, I've seen your wandwork. If any…problems should arise, at least I won't feel so outnumbered.”

Hermione beamed at the compliment. He was correct in his assumption. She had no intention on letting anyone or anything spoil her day in town with Severus.

When they arrived to the village, it was buzzing with excitement from the third years, who bounced around with the exuberance of people who might have thought if they moved quickly enough, it would be possible for them to physically be in two places at once.

The tinkling bells of shop doors, innocent laughter, and the sweet odor of Honeydukes filled the air around them. The scene before her was so light and devoid of the darkness that seemed to have followed her for the better part of her adolescence, that it caused a small giggle to come from her lips. The younger students’ excitement was as infectious as it was intoxicating. She felt like a normal teenager for the first time in so long.

“What's funny?” Severus asked with a furrowed brow.

Hermione pointed at a group of the third years who were tugging at each other’s robes and pointing towards Zonko’s.

“They're just so excited to be here,” she answered with a smile.

Severus grunted noncommittally.

For a moment, she'd forgotten that his first Hogsmeade experience had been the complete opposite of the children’s in front of her.

“Are you alright being here?” she asked.

“Of course,” he responded immediately. “It's where you wanted to be, correct?”

Hermione bit her lip. How sweet of him to go there because of her.

“It is…” She turned to better look at his face. “But I also want to know that you're having a nice time, too. I mean, if you're uncomfortable we can leave.”

The corners of Severus’ lips twitched, as if he was fighting a smile. “Don't worry about me. Let's just have a walk around, yeah?”

Hermione nodded before briefly pausing as he offered her his elbow. She looked down at it like it was a lethal weapon. Should she really continue to blur the lines of their friendship? Perhaps he didn't mean it in the way she feared. Finally deciding that it was a harmless gesture, she linked her arm through his, and the two began a leisurely pace down the road.

When they reached the entrance to The Three Broomsticks, Severus brought Hermione to a stop.

“Fancy a Butterbeer?” he asked, jerking his head towards the pub.

It was rather chilly outside, and a Butterbeer was always a sure way to warm up.

“Actually yes, Severus. That sounds lovely.”

It was quite busy inside, considering how early in the morning it was. It hadn't even reached noon yet, and already most of the tables were occupied with ruckus teenagers. Hermione's eyes automatically locked on the loudest table and her heart skipped a beat when she saw who sat at it.

“Fuck…” Severus cursed under his breath. It appeared he had seen them too.

Sirius and James both turned and looked towards them. Sirius whispered into James’ ear, and she watched the mischievous grin spread across his face. She knew nothing good would come out of them all being there.

“We can leave,” Hermione said quickly.

Before he could answer, a voice called out across the room.

“Oi! Devereux! Why don't you ditch Snivelly and come join us!” Sirius shouted while waving her over.

She felt Severus stiffen and begin to shake from anger beside her. Remus, who must have arrived early to spend time with his friends before going off with Amelia, rolled his eyes and mouthed, I'm sorry, then slapped Sirius’ arm.

“Let's just leave, Severus. We can come back later,” she said again, once Sirius’ attention was diverted.

When she looked up at him, she saw Severus’ jaw was clenched and true hatred burned in his eyes.

“Fine,” he agreed through his teeth.

Without a glance back at the four boys, Hermione and Severus turned around, and she half-pulled him through the doorway, before any fighting could happen.

Perhaps it was a mistake going there, she thought. Severus’ entire mood had changed in an instant. Why couldn't they all just leave one another alone?

Severus kicked a rock in frustration. “I'm sorry, Hermione,” he said angrily. “Those -- those -- those --”

She watched his normally pale face gain a great deal of color, while he struggled to find a word to describe the four young men. It wasn't as if anything had transpired between them, other than a rude word, so she tried to calm him down and make the most of the rest of their day.

As he stood with his back towards her, his robes flapping in the strong wind, Hermione stepped forward and locked her hand gently around his bicep. Other than a reflexive twitch of his muscle, he did not move.

“Hey,” she said softly. “Nothing happened. Let's just go somewhere else and continue on with the nice day that we were having.”

Silence.

“Please, Severus?”

Slowly he turned around then gave her a tentative smile, the tension she was holding in her shoulders released.

“Again, I'm sorry,” he told her with his eyes cast down to the ground.

“For what?”

He had no reason to apologize.

As he looked up and met her eyeline, his dark eyes were wide and sincere.

“I just wanted to have a normal trip here. Like...like everyone else…” he trailed off.

Hermione’s heart broke upon hearing the pain in his voice. Severus never did get to experience Hogsmeade without some sort of altercation between him, Sirius and James.

Almost as if on instinct, she took his hand in hers, intertwining their fingers together. His eyes widened for a fraction of a second, before the corner of his mouth turned up the tiniest amount.

“And so you shall,” she answered in a sure voice.

They both decided to stop in Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, since the two of them both had the terrible habit of biting on their quills, they figured it would be best to stock up while they were there.

After, they took a look around Dogweed and Deathcap to see if there were any potions ingredients they could pick up. Then they took a slow walk to Dervish and Banges so Hermione could purchase her own scale, since she had been borrowing one of the spares in Slughorn’s classroom.

By the time they were heading back to The Three Broomsticks, the incident earlier was all but forgotten. Hermione and Severus talked nearly nonstop the entire time they were together -- she actually never would have believed Severus could talk that much. He seemed very interested in everything she had to say, from the most mundane things, such as her favorite foods, to more in depth topics, like her thoughts on different spell methods and new techniques she was contemplating trying out. Their hands remained linked together the entire time.

The coast was clear when they entered the pub for the second time, and the two of them found a small table all the way in the back. Hermione sat there alone while Severus bought them drinks, when suddenly her entire body felt as if it was encased in ice, as she noticed a familiar mane of white-blond hair, three tables away. Lucius Malfoy was there.

“Oh no…” she gasped.

She realized that Lucius seemed to be looking directly at Severus, as he stood waiting for their Butterbeers. Desperately she hoped she was wrong, but her fears were confirmed when his eyes followed him all the way back to their seats.

“This should warm us up a bit,” Severus said as he placed a cup in front of her before sitting down.

Hermione’s thank you died on her lips due to Lucius and a burly, sandy haired man, with cruel eyes appearing on each side of Severus. The man seemed vaguely familiar to Hermione, and for a moment she couldn't put her finger on who he was, until he spoke. The hairs on the back of her neck stood straight. It was Yaxley. Another Death Eater.

“Severus,” Lucius drawled in greeting, yet he kept his eyes on Hermione.

Hermione tore her eyes away from the two men, and locked hers with Severus’. His shoulders sank, she could almost feel his annoyance coming off of him.

“Lucius. Yaxley,” he responded, sounding bored.

“I apologize for interrupting your...date?” Lucius raised an eyebrow, still looking at Hermione. “But I was wondering if I may have a word?”

Severus glanced to his left, then to his right, and audibly exhaled.

“If you must.”

The cold and carefully placed, indifferent mask was back on Severus’ face. Gone was the younger, almost carefree expression he had adopted for most of the time they had spent together that day.

Hermione tried silently pleading with her eyes, trying to tell him not to go; she had had a feeling of what -- whom, they wished to speak with him about.

Lucius, who must have mistaken her expression, gave a forced smile.

“We won't keep him from you long…” he trailed off, as if waiting to be introduced.

“Hermione Devereux,” Severus said. “Hermione, this is Lucius Malfoy and Corban Yaxley.”

Lucius extended his hand, which Hermione took, knowing she had to keep up pretenses, and could not appear to loathe the men standing before her.

“Pleasure,” she said shortly.

Yaxley merely grunted in her general direction.

Excusing himself from the table, Severus promised he would return shortly, then followed the two Death Eaters to the table they had just vacated a few moments before.

Hermione clasped her cup with both hands as she watched the three of them intently.

The conversation seemed to be quite serious. Lucius and Yaxley’s brows were furrowed, yet Severus almost appeared to have a twitch, since he would look back at her over his shoulder every few seconds. She noticed, much to her dismay, that the two men had their wands out on the table, their hands both resting on top of them. She feared they were threatening Severus, but trying to appear to the patrons that nothing more than polite conversation was happening. Hermione placed her hand in her robes and firmly grasped her wand, just in case she would need it.

She knew they were trying to recruit him. It wouldn't be much longer until he did join Voldemort; just a little over a year from what she learned from Harry. How she wished she could stop him. But no matter how much it pained her, she knew she had to let it run its course. Severus had to join Voldemort, otherwise Harry would never become The Chosen One. Then who would stop Voldemort? Perhaps someone would, but Hermione knew she couldn't leave that up to chance.

She fought back tears that were threatening to brim over as she thought of what Severus would go through in the upcoming years. So badly she wanted to shield him from all that pain.

After just a few minutes, they all returned to the table. Severus took his seat, looking a touch paler than when he first left, as the other two remained standing at his sides.

“Thank you for letting us borrow him, Miss Devereaux. It's an absolute delight seeing him with a proper witch for a change,” Lucius sneered.

Severus knuckles turned white as he squeezed the handle of his mug.

Hermione’s nostrils flared at the obvious dig regarding Severus and Lily Evans.

It was a rare occasion for Hermione to bite her tongue, but considering where she was, who she was with, and the role she had to play, it was one of those times she had done so. She settled on a tight smile, then returned to her Butterbeer, acting as if she was completely uninterested in any further conversation with them.

“Think it over, Snape,” Yaxley threatened, his gravelly voice giving her goosebumps.

When they finally left Hermione and Severus alone, Severus had become his usual withdrawn self. He barely said a word to her, and all but ignored the drink he purchased, what felt like a century ago.

After an uncomfortably silent twenty minutes or so, Severus looked at his wrist watch.

“We should head on up if you want to be ready for Slughorn’s party on time,” he said.

With all that had happened, Hermione forgot about the party completely. And if she was being honest with herself, she'd lost any ambition that she'd had to go.

“You still want to go?” she asked.

He looked up quickly with wide eyes.

“Of course,” he said. “Don't - don't you?”

He looked so disappointed in that moment. Hermione felt terrible for even asking. Even though he was confident in most things, she knew there was a large part of him that was still unsure of himself. Especially when it came to the opposite sex.

“Yes,” she lied. “I just wasn't sure if you still did or not. You…” she bit her lip. “You seemed different after that,” she admitted.

His mouth parted opened so you could just see the top row of his teeth. She only barely made out his small intake of breath, before his eyes softened. She was taken by surprise when he reached across the table and folded his hand around hers.

Hermione didn't know how to explain it, but something felt like it shifted in that moment. Yes, she held onto his hand for most of the day, but this somehow was different. The way he looked at her, like she was the only person to have ever shown him true compassion, and how he gently ran his thumb back and forth across her knuckles. She had no words, but she had feelings. Feelings she was certain she'd never had before.

“Of course I still do, Hermione,” he reassured her in a soft voice that was so unlike anything she'd heard from him before.

Her heart fluttered. She tried to tell herself to get a grip. That she wasn't there for this. Whatever this was.

When she smiled and looked into his black eyes, it was clear that she'd finally broken down his walls. But what was he doing to her in the process?







30th October 1976 - Slughorn’s Party


Why Hermione didn't charm her hair all during her time at school was beyond her, she wondered while she easily curled it around her wand. It wasn't until two hours later, when her hair fell in soft ringlets around her shoulders she remembered why, as she stretched out her cramped fingers. It took too much bloody time. Far easier to just pin it back and out of her face. But since tonight was a special occasion, she figured she ought to have made an attempt.

She got ready slowly, only half-present, while Amelia lamented about how disappointed she was that Remus had to go home for a family emergency, and could not attend the Halloween party with her. Hermione knew differently. It was a full moon that night, and she knew her friend was currently being escorted to the Shrieking Shack, through the secret tunnel beneath the Whomping Willow. Even though she felt horribly about the pain Remus would be in that evening, a part of her was relieved, since that meant that James, Sirius and Peter would also be with him, and nowhere near Slughorn’s Halloween Party.

As she slipped the black, sleeveless, dress over her head, her mind’s eye seemed hell bent on flashing pictures of her afternoon with Severus. Not the good ones, of course not, but the ones of him with Lucius and Yaxley in the Three Broomsticks. The way the color had drained from his face when Severus had returned to their table, the most prominent image in her head.

Trying to distract herself, she took a long look at the finished outcome in the mirror in her dorm. Her new hair color suited the outfit, which she was pleased about. The dress hugged at her curves in all the right places, and flowed like water from her hips down to her mid-calf, making her appear more her actual age of nearly nineteen, rather than the sixteen year old she was playing the role of.

“You look beautiful, Hermione,” said Amelia after a few moments of silence.

Hermione turned and smiled, feeling butterflies in her stomach, as she hoped her partner for the evening felt the same way.

“You as well, Amelia.”

The bronze, bell-sleeved, shift dress Amelia wore was far more modest than what Hermione had chosen, but suited the girl all the same. Hermione began to wonder if she perhaps would be too overdressed for a school party as she looked at her friend. But it was no matter, Hermione had no time to change, since Severus would be calling to collect her in mere moments.

She had to admit, as Hermione entered the Common Room, that she felt a small bout of satisfaction in seeing Rita’s eyes nearly bug out of her head, before turning her expression into neutral indifference. Lockhart flashed both Amelia and Hermione a jovial smile, as he complimented each of the girls, which earned a huff from his girlfriend.

In another time - another universe really, Lockhart’s words would have made Hermione’s knees go weak. Her twelve year old self would have swooned and immediately written about it in her journal, but this Hermione was unphased by his superficial charm. Instead she offered a polite thank you, then a subtle wink to Rita, knowing it would make her blood boil.

Edgar, Sturgis, Otto, Alice and Dorcas were not members of the ‘Slug Club,’ therefore sat in their nightclothes in the Common Room. The boys wolf-whistled and threw a few well meaning jokes their way, as the two girls pouted, wishing they had a reason to wear a fancy dress and dance the night away. Hermione would have traded places with them in an instant, she assured them.

While everyone was talking, Hermione anxiously glanced down at her watch, hoping she wasn't running late by stopping to chat with her housemates.

“Someone looks a little nervous, considering it's not a date,” Amelia said discretely, mimicking Hermione’s voice.

“Oh quiet yourself,” Hermione retorted, yet couldn't suppress the nervous giggle that escaped her.

“Go on then,” Amelia told her, then shoved her gently. “Don't keep him waiting.”

The normal jealous edge to Amelia's voice, when she would discuss Severus, for once was gone. Hermione knew that Amelia sincerely wanted her to have a good time, regardless of her personal feelings about the boy.

“Thank you,” said Hermione. “And please try to have fun this evening.”

Amelia smiled sadly. “I will. Now off with you.”

Hermione laughed quietly before saying goodnight to the rest of her Ravenclaw friends, then quickly made her way out of the Common Room.

She took the stairs carefully, not exactly comfortable walking in heels, she did not exactly fancy the idea of tumbling down them and breaking her neck.

Her pulse accelerated as she landed on the ground floor - where she and Severus had agreed to meet. She wrung her hands together while she watched the other students, who were attending the party, meet up with their friends and dates from other houses. She breathed a sigh of relief when studying how the other girls were dressed. Not too unlike what Hermione was wearing, which made her feel better knowing she wouldn't completely stick out.

At first she did not recognize the young man who walked towards her. The fact that he was in deep, forest green dress robes, and not his signature black, was the first thing that threw her off. Next was his hair, which he had tied back with a thin leather cord, allowing only two strands of his hair to fall in his face. With the majority of his hair no longer obstructing them, she noticed how deep and dark his eyes were in contrast to his pale skin. He looked striking, and above all else, exceptionally handsome.

She watched his eyes, as they briefly traveled the length of her body, and in that moment, she felt entirely exposed. Hopefully he liked what he saw, she thought.

When he stopped in front of her, she swallowed hard. “You clean up nicely,” she told him, unable to keep the smile from spreading across her face.

A rare blush appeared on Severus’ cheeks as he reached back and ran his hand over the small nub of hair that hung down the back of his neck.

“Thanks,” he mumbled. “You - erm. You look lovely, Hermione.”

Damn it all, she thought, knowing that fighting her feelings would be next to impossible if he continued to look at her in the way he was then, and if he spoke to her again as he just did. It wasn't often, if ever, that Hermione Granger melted, but she was nearly a puddle on the floor at that point.

“Shall we?” he asked, offering his arm to her, which she took without hesitation.

Together they walked down to the dungeons, with all the awkward silence of a first date. How strange it was that they had been able to communicate so easily that afternoon, yet formal wear, and the promise of dinner and dancing would clam them both up, as if it were the first time they had ever met.

Occasionally she would look up at him, and be met with a shy smile she would reflexively return. When she first decided she would use that Time-Turner, never in one hundred lifetimes would she have imagined it would eventually take her there. On the arm of Severus Snape with an overwhelming attraction in her heart.

Finally they reached Slughorn’s office, and Hermione barely had chance to take in her surroundings before their professor bounced his way towards them in his emerald smoking jacket, completely abandoning a conversation he was having with a Gryffindor fourth year.

“Miss Devereux! Mister Snape!” he exclaimed, his arms opened wide. “Come in, come in! So many people I'd like too to meet.”

Hermione wanted to crawl beneath the nearest table. It was bad enough that she had already been seen by all of the students and staff at Hogwarts, now Slughorn intended on showing her off to prominent members of the Wizarding community, like some sort of show pony.

Severus quickly glanced down at Hermione, she gave him a panicked look, hoping he would take the hint.

“Erm, perhaps in a bit, Professor. Hermione and I would like to get some refreshments first, if that's alright?”

Slughorn’s face fell into a comically exaggerated pout as he looked between his two prized students.

“Very well, you two. But don't think you can hide from me all evening,” he joked, before his attention was taken by a curvy brunette who had just passed by.

“Esmeralda, my dear. I was just speaking with Albus regarding…” he trailed off as he chased the woman down.

Hermione heard Severus snort, and she looked up to find him shaking his head in silent laughter.

“He’s certainly something, isn't he?” Hermione asked.

“Something, indeed,” he agreed, then took her hand, once again intertwining their fingers together. “Come on. Let's find a seat.”

As they crossed the room together, Hermione noticed Lily Evans, dressed in tight, shimmering gold, blatantly staring right at them. Her mouth was slightly agape, and Hermione wasn't certain, but she thought she detected a hint of jealousy in her expression. Lily quickly seemed to realize she had been caught staring and lifted her arm to tentatively wave at Hermione, who smiled as if she hadn't noticed a thing and waved back.

Severus led Hermione to a small table in the back, away from the rest of the crowd, which Hermione thought was perfect. As they sat down, a House-Elf appeared with a tray of mead, red wine, Butterbeer and water. Hermione grabbed herself a glass of the wine, Severus a glass of the mead.

She finally took the chance to look at the room around her. Carved pumpkins floated in the air, giving the room a warm orange glow, charmed purple bats flittered around the ceiling, and the candles on the tables burned with deep green flames. Some Wizarding string quartet played background music, raised up above the crowd on a platform normally not present in the office.

“Slughorn definitely goes all out,” Hermione commented.

Severus grunted noncommittally. Even though his hand was still firmly holding onto Hermione’s, she could tell from his expression that he was miles away.

“What's wrong, Severus?”

He didn't say anything for entirely too long - or at least it felt that way to her, until he shook his head and told her it was nothing. Yet, Hermione didn't miss the way his eyes flickered towards Lily when he said it, and she couldn't help but to wonder if he'd seen their brief exchange.

“You and Lily Evans are friends?” he asked bluntly. Hermione saw the way he flinched when he said her name.

A wave of envy struck Hermione, as she wondered if he still had feelings for Lily. Again she found herself silently comparing herself to the beautiful Gryffindor, and again she thought herself not measuring up.

“Acquaintances, more like it. I've only spoken to her a handful of times,” Hermione said with her eyes on the table. “Why do you ask?”

She chanced looking up at him. There was no mistaking the obvious sadness in his eyes. Apparently those wounds were still fresh.

“No reason,” he answered.

Everything inside of Hermione was screaming for her to press the issue. To understand more of what happened. To hear his side of the story. However, she knew that it was not the time. Their afternoon in Hogsmeade had already been tainted, and she was not going to let her evening be spoiled either.

“Are Slughorn’s parties always this extravagant,” she asked, trying to change the subject.

“Are Slug- what? Oh.” He blinked a few times, appearing confused, taken off guard by her sudden topic change. “Yeah. Pretty much.”

Soon they feel back into easy conversation. Severus preparing Hermione for Slughorn inevitably showing her off, and introducing her to his former students and important guests. He pointed out of few of them that he had known -- a couple Ministry higher ups, a famous Wizarding author who wrote mostly romance novels Hermione had never read, and Damocles who she knew would very soon perfect the Wolfsbane Potion.

Although their table could have seated four, none of the other students joined them once the food had arrived. Hermione was content with that, as she and Severus ate their way through a delicious roast, potatoes and about as much food as was normally served during special occasions in the Great Hall. By the time she finished, she was amazed that her dress had not burst opened.

As the plates vanished and the lighting became dimmer, the music picked up and their classmates filled the floor to dance. Hermione watched on with a smile as she saw Amelia bouncing around and genuinely appearing to be enjoying herself, with a small mixed group of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs. Rita and Lockhart were, as always, wrapped around one another in a way that was bordering on indecent. Hermione shook her head.

It wasn't long before Severus and Hermione were the only guests their age who had remained seated.

Severus cleared his throat, yet kept his eyes on the dance floor. “Did you, erm. Did you want to…” he gestured towards everyone.

Hermione bit her lip to keep from laughing at the fact that Severus Snape was attempting to ask her to dance. She couldn't picture it -- him dancing.

“Only if you want to,” she responded in a rushed voice.

“If you want to I will,” he mumbled. Still avoiding her eyes.

Knowing that if she didn't act, they would go back and forth that way all evening, Hermione made the first move and stood up.

“Come on,” she said, offering him her hand. “It'll be fun.”

The expression on Severus’ face was wary, regardless, he took her hand and allowed her to tow him towards the group of dancing students.

At first they stood quite awkwardly, not exactly dancing, but sort of swaying to the music. Amelia must have noticed them and rushed her way over.

“Hey Hermione!” she exclaimed out of breath. “Snape.”

Hermione chuckled, taking in Amelia’s pink cheeks and disheveled hair. “Having a good time, are we?” She smirked with a raised eyebrow.

“Too much wine,” Amelia laughed, as if that explained everything. “How about you? Much more fun that his usual supper parties, don't you reckon?”

Since the only other experience Hermione had had at one of Slughorn's parties, she was spending the evening trying to escape from Cormac, she really hadn't ever had a chance to properly enjoy one. But now that she was there with someone of her choosing, and not worrying about being assaulted, she had to admit, she was having a rather good time.

“Absolutely.” Hermione smiled.

Amelia then glanced between she and Severus and her face fell. Hermione noticed the scowl that was forming on her partner’s face, most likely due to the unwanted interruption.

“Right. I'll leave you two at it then,” said Amelia. “Have fun! We’ll catch up in the Common Room later,” she said with a subtle wink. Hermione rolled her eyes.

As Amelia ran back towards her friends the music slowed and Hermione felt the blush creep up her face. She hadn't anticipated this when she first dragged Severus out there. What happened to the lively music?

“Do you still want to…?” Hermione asked, glancing around them.

Severus looked down at her for a moment, then taking her by surprise, he placed his one hand on her waist, and the other took her right hand. She froze at first, before he started to lead her around in a waltz, which he was shockingly good at.

“You can dance?” she asked.

He raised an eyebrow. “Surprised?”

Hermione laughed and felt her heart skip a beat. There was just so much that she was learning about him. So much that was making it more and more difficult to stay away.

“Actually, yes I am,” she admitted.

As they spun and made their way around their small corner of the room, he kept his eyes locked on hers the entire time. She found it difficult to breathe.

“My mother taught me,” he said suddenly. “When I was small, after a…rough evening, she would come to my room and turn on the radio. The two of us would dance. I don't know who she was trying to benefit more, me or herself. But she was different when she danced. Her eyes would light up and I would actually see some life in there. I would see mum smile.”

Hermione felt her heart breaking for him, as he shared that detail with her. She was sure it was something he hadn't told many people and she felt honored that he thought enough of her to share it.

Knowing how he hated any sort of pity, Hermione didn't say a word, yet she took the hand that was resting on his shoulder and gently placed it on his chest, spreading her fingers over his heart. She looked up and gave him a warm smile, he squeezed the hand he was holding a little more firmly in return.

When the song finished neither of them let go of the other. Their faces were in closer proximity to each other than they had ever been, and Hermione could feel every bit of tension in that moment. Like a moth to a flame he brought his head down closer, their lips were millimeters apart. Realizing what was happening, Hermione snapped herself out of the trance the moment seemed to have placed her into. She took a quick step back.

“I need to go to the loo,” she said, then hastily made her way away from him, through the crowd of students and out into the hall.

When she slipped into one of the stalls, she stood with her back against the wall, holding her face in both hands.

“No. No, no, no, no, Hermione,” she scolded herself.

What was she doing? She didn't belong there. How could she have let this happen? What would it do to Severus when she returned to her own time? Because, clearly he had some sort of feelings for her now as well.

“Ugh!” she yelled.

Her head was a mess. Every single rational part of her brain was telling her not to let this happen. Not to let she and Severus explore any kind of relationship that wasn't platonic. Yet, her heart was telling her head to bugger off. She had never felt the way she did for him before. Not with Ron and not with Viktor. What she felt for Severus was on an entirely different level. Was it love? She wasn't sure. She'd never been in love before. She thought she was with Ron, but now she'd realized that she hadn't been in love with him. What in the name of Merlin was she to do?

Hermione sniffled and wiped a tear that had fallen down her cheek.

“Hello?” a voice called out. Hermione jumped. “Are you alright?”

It felt like the floor gave out underneath her feet. She recognized that voice.

“I'm fine,” Hermione answered, her voice cracking.

When she stepped out of the stall, Lily’s face was full of surprise when she realized who had been crying. Her surprise quickly turned to anger, however.

“What did he do to you?” she demanded with fire in her eyes.

Hermione blinked rapidly then her brow furrowed. She understood why Lily had come to that conclusion, but truthfully, it miffed her horribly.

He hasn't done anything to me,” said Hermione with steel in her voice. “We’ve been having a lovely time, actually.”

Lily looked taken aback by Hermione’s sudden change in attitude with her. Her face went blank, devoid of any emotion.

“Oh. Well lovely then,” Lily said dryly. “I just assumed-”

Hermione cut her off. “You shouldn't have assumed anything, Lily. I know what happened between you and Severus, however, it isn't fair of you to interfere with any relationships he may be developing now.”

Lily narrowed her eyes and seemed to be looking at Hermione for the first time. “Well if you know, then you should understand why I would have thought he'd done something that caused you to end up alone here, crying.”

Hermione was truly angry now. Whatever happened between Lily and Severus was in the past, and she didn't feel it right for Lily to intrude. She had no claim on Severus any longer.

“I think it would be for the best if you were to keep your opinions to yourself from now on,” Hermione said cooly, then walked passed Lily and out the door, without waiting for a response from her.

One thing she knew, as she made her way back to Slughorn's office, was that she would never tell Severus about that exchange with Lily. And she also knew that nothing between she and Lily would ever be the same again.

***

A/N - I want to thank everyone who voted for this story in the Dobby's. I was completely blown away when I saw that it won, because honestly I never ever expected it. *squishes everyone* Thanks to everyone, old and new, who has read, reviewed and favorited. I sincerely appreciate it more than you know. I'm really going to try for an update either every two weeks, or at the least every month. So far I've keep my word to myself, as both chapters 15 and 16 were posted within 10 days, and chapter 17 is already started. But if an update ends up being late, don't worry, I will never ever ever abandon this fic. I love it too much haha. Thanks again to you all!
So much love,

Meg ♥




3rd November 1976


After the Halloween party, Hermione vowed to herself that she would do everything in her power to make sure Severus survives the night of the battle. She wasn't sure if being in 1976 and being his friend, or whatever she was turning into, would be enough, so she had come up with a backup plan.

Wednesday evening she was sat by herself in the library researching antivenins, determined to be as prepared as possible. Normally Severus would have been with her, but she was grateful for the detention he had earned himself, due to another spat with Sirius in the Charms class Gryffindor and Slytherin had together. She didn't want to lie to him about what she was doing. Not yet at least.

Her eyes grew heavy while she copied down different ingredients and methods she had found, hoping she could brew something that would prove useful against Nagini’s venom, if things would come to that after her presence in the past. Some of the items would prove difficult for her to get ahold of, unless she spoke to Slughorn and perhaps hinted at an interest in a Potion’s apprenticeship, and could lead him to believe she'd be working on the potion for her application into the program. She didn't fancy the idea of stealing, as she did in her second year to make the Polyjuice Potion, since these now were completely different circumstances.

Deciding to call it a night, Hermione packed up for the evening and began her way back towards Ravenclaw Tower. As she travelled the nearly empty corridors, her thoughts drifted back to the end of the party the other evening. She knew that Severus had been upset over how she'd run off when they'd been so close to a kiss, but she eventually had him back in higher spirits by the time the night was finished.

She had that swooping sensation in her stomach when she thought of the way he had taken her hand, slowly brought it to his lips and pressed a soft kiss to the back of it, in front of the entrance to her Common Room before saying goodnight. The fact that he'd insisted on walking her all the way there also touched her heart. He was proving to be much sweeter than she'd ever anticipated.

A shiver ran through her as she walked, due to the chill in the late autumn air. The nights had become much colder as of late, and she cursed her foolishness in not taking her heavier cloak with her to the library.

When she turned a corner, she swore under her breath. Sirius and James were walking towards her, most likely heading to Gryffindor after Sirius’ detention.

“Alright there, Devereux?” Sirius called down to her as they approached.

Hermione told herself to stay calm and try to have a brief and pleasant exchange with him for once.

“Black. Potter. How are you?” she said politely.

“Hey, Devereux,” James said with a genuine smile.

Even though she knew he could be a prat at times, Hermione honestly liked James Potter. Not that she'd ever admit that to Severus. But James had never been anything but nice to her, so she had no reason to dislike him. That and he so resembled her best friend, it felt like home looking at him at times.

James looked down towards her bag and let out laugh. “Library again?”

Hermione nodded. “Just finishing up some Potions work.” Which wasn't technically a lie.

Sirius snorted and stepped in a little closer than she would have preferred.

“You, Remus, Bones, Evans. You're all way too uptight,” he mockingly scolded.

James slapped Sirius, for what Hermione assumed, was due to the insult about Lily.

“Oi!” he yelled. “On my birthday, Prongs?”

Hermione had completely forgotten the date, but she hadn't felt too badly. It wasn't as if she was supposed to know when Sirius Black’s Birthday was.

“Many happy returns,” she told him.

Sirius flashed his teeth at her and winked. “Thanks, beautiful.”

“Well, don't let me keep either of you. I'm sure you must have plans for this evening, considering…” She gestured at Sirius, and attempted to step her way between the two boys.

She nearly growled when Sirius blocked her way while shaking his head.

“Ah come on, Devereux. Don't leave yet,” he pouted. “I've wanted to ask you something anyway.”

Hermione closed her eyes and let out a deep sigh. So much for a brief pleasant exchange she thought bitterly.

“What?” she asked through her teeth.

Sirius barked out a laugh which sounded so much like his older self, it brought Hermione up short.

“Don't be like that. Besides, you have to be nice to the birthday boy. It's a rule.”

She couldn't help it and laughed. “Oh? Do I?” She challenged with a quirked eyebrow.

James quickly coughed to cover up his laugh.

“You're losing your touch, mate.”

“Piss off, James,” Sirius retorted playfully.

It was like watching Fred and George, she sadly noted. Knowing that three out of those four would be dead when she returned home caused a small lump to form in her throat.

“What did you want, Sirius?” she asked, wanting to leave badly.

Sirius lost the playful look he was wearing. He ran his eyes over her and shook his head. “Are you honestly involved with that git?”

Hermione’s nostrils flared. She took a deep breath to calm herself. What business was it of his anyhow?

“So what if I am?” she responded with a question of her own.

“Well…” he lowered and raised his hand out in front of her. “Look at you. And then, look at him. You could do better.”

She gripped her wand so tightly that it actually hurt, as she tried to control the urge to hex him right then and there.

A bitter laugh came from her lips. “Do you mean you?” she hissed.

Sirius’ gaze touched on her wand hand before averting back to her eyes. She watched his cheeks darken.

“Well yeah, or erm, no. I mean -- anyone really,” he stuttered.

Hermione brought herself up to full height, and spoke loudly and forcefully.

“First of all, that is incredibly rude. And second of all, I do not see how it is a matter of your concern, Sirius Black. Who I choose to spend my time with is up to me, and me alone. And truth be told, Severus has proven to be twice the person you have shown yourself to be.”

Sirius was rendered speechless, yet James felt the need to interfere.

“Hermione,” he began gently. “You don't know what he's done, or who he hangs ‘round with.”

Of course she was more than aware of the types of people Severus knew, but that hadn't meant that he liked those people. Hermione viewed those relationships as more of a matter of convenience; a way for him to live unbothered in Slytherin. The more she had come to know Severus, the more she had realized he was nothing like those people who were, or would become Death Eaters.

“He associates himself with me, James. Do you believe I am a bad person?” she challenged.

“Of course not,” James immediately assured her. “Remus has said nothing but good things about you, so I know you're a good person. I know we’re not close, but a friend of Remus’ is a friend of mine, and we don't want to see anything happen to you.”

Hermione had to admire the loyalty James had for his friends. Yet it saddened her that said loyalty would be what eventually ended his life. As she looked at the concerned face of her best friend, just with the wrong colored eyes, Hermione felt her anger deflate.

“Look. I appreciate your concern, but honestly, it's misplaced. I'm fully capable of handling myself,” she said in a softer tone than she'd previously used.

Sirius and James went to argue, but Hermione put her hand up to stop them.

“Sirius, James, I'm exhausted, so if you two don't mind, I'm going back to my Common Room now.”

Her face was set, and clearly they both realized they ought not to argue. Reluctantly they both wished her a goodnight and finally allowed her to leave.

By the time she arrived back to her dormitory, she was dead on her feet. She barely even remembered getting changed for bed, or speaking to Amelia. Hermione had fallen asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

***

4th November 1976


“And don't forget I want two rolls of parchment on the antidotal properties of Unicorn Horns by Tuesday,” Slughorn yelled out over the commotion of students leaving class Thursday afternoon.

“Ready?” Severus asked when the classroom was nearly empty.

Hermione dawdled for a moment. “You go on,” she said. “I need to speak with Professor Slughorn for a moment.” She watched his face fall. “I won't be long, if you wanted to wait outside,” she added.

“Alright. I'll just be outside the door,” he told her, eyeing her suspiciously.

It was a first since they'd began walking to classes together that she had done this. Any other time she remained behind to speak with their professor, she did so with Severus there. Hermione assumed he figured she was hiding something, from his tone of voice, but she couldn't let it worry her. She was attempting to save his life, after all.

After Severus left the classroom, Slughorn looked up and realized Hermione remained behind. He smiled kindly at her.

“Miss Devereux. What can I do for you, my dear?”

“Sir, I was doing some thinking, and I think I would like to continue with my potions education after my time at Hogwarts is finished,” she lied.

Slughorn looked beyond pleased with the news. He clapped his hands together and let out a laugh.

“Well that is wonderful news, just wonderful! I know just the person for you to do an apprenticeship with, as I'm assuming that is the reason for you telling me this,” he said.

He was playing right into her hands, just as she knew he would.

“That would be very kind of you, sir.” She smiled and tried to appear humble.

“Of course, you would have to brew a sufficient enough potion to prove your dedication, Miss Devereux.” He leaned forward to whisper, “Yet, both you and I know that would not be a problem for a student as gifted as yourself.”

This was proving to be far easier than she had hoped. She felt as if she could burst out laughing from the pure joy at any second.

“That's actually why I'm here, Professor.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“Sir, if you would be so amendable, I was wondering if you could possibly sign a slip for me to use some of the books in the Restricted Section, as there is a potion I was already thinking of brewing.”

“Of course, of course! Anything I can do to help!” He promised.

Hermione couldn't stop the smile that formed on her lips.

“Thank you, sir. And if there are any ingredients that may prove difficult for me to find, would I be able to possibly gain your assistance in that matter?” She asked, then held her breath.

Slughorn didn't answer immediately, as he seemed to be mulling it over. Hermione knew that she was not the first student to take advantage of his desire to help promising students, to further his own station in the world. She wondered if he was recalling the last time he'd broken the rules to do so.

“When the time comes, we’ll see what would be appropriate for you to use,” he said in a rare serious tone of voice.

Hermione wasn't expecting a full out yes, but at least it hadn't been a no. And she was sure, when the time did come, that he would be more than willing to provide what she needed.

“Thank you, sir. Your generosity is greatly appreciated,” she told him, laying the charm on thick.

Slughorn quickly returned to his jovial self, as he waved her off.

“It's no matter at all, my dear. No matter.”

He then scribbled out a permission slip for her to use the Restricted Section, and sent it straight into her hands.

“Was there anything else for today, Miss Devereux?”

Knowing that her class was the last of the day for him, Hermione figured he was itching to retire to his rooms with a large brandy, as he normally spent his evenings.

“No, sir. That was all. And thank you again.”

With a new bounce in her step, Hermione turned and left the classroom. True to his word, Severus was in the hall waiting when she came out.

“What was that about?” he asked.

Hermione showed him the slip she had just received from Slughorn.

“I need to use the Restricted Section for something potions related,” she admitted.

Severus looked down at her with a furrowed brow.

“For what? We’re not doing anything in class that would require it.”

Should she lie to him, she wondered. Perhaps she should tell him the half-truth. That she planned to work on antivenins, and maybe even possibly ask for his help. If it was Severus she was attempting to save, it would make sense for him to learn how to make one as well. If all went well, maybe she could even convince him to keep a vial on his persons at all times. For the first time since she'd been there, she began to feel true hope. Maybe she'd be able to do this after all.

“I want to brew a powerful antivenin for entry into a Potions apprenticeship,” she said.

Severus’ eyebrows raised in response. He looked truly impressed.

“Would you possibly like to help me?” she asked.

She watched the twitch of his lip when he glanced at her from the side of his eye. If he agreed to help, it would mean that the two of them would spend even more time together than they already had been. She hoped that would convince him to say yes. It made the idea more appealing to her than it already was, if she were being entirely truthful.

“That could prove to be beneficial. Yes. Yes, I'd be happy to,” he agreed.

Hermione almost felt like she could have skipped the rest of the way down the corridor.

***

6th November 1976


Saturday morning found Hermione knocking on the wooden door which led to Dumbledore’s office. There was something she needed from him, and she desperately hoped that he had it at this time.

“Come in,” Dumbledore's voice called out.

When Hermione stepped into the office, her eyes immediately fixed themselves behind Dumbledore. Her heart dropped when she did not see what she was looking for. However, she didn't give up hope yet. Perhaps it was somewhere else.

Dumbledore put down the quill he had been writing with and smiled warmly at Hermione.

“Miss Granger? What an unexpected and lovely surprise,” he greeted her.

Hermione took a timid step forward.

“I'm sorry for coming unannounced, sir. But I was hoping to speak with you, if you had the time.”

Dumbledore glanced at her over the top of his glasses, again giving her that uncomfortable feeling as if he were looking right through her.

“It just so happens that I have a few moments to spare,” he said, then pointed towards the armchairs in front of his desk. “Please, have a seat. Hopefully I can address any issues that may be causing you concern.”

Hermione sat down and placed her hands on her thighs, not quite sure how to ask without giving away too much of the future.

“Sir, I know this might sound odd, but I was wondering if you have any pets?”

Dumbledore steepled his fingers together, then laughed softly.

“Yes, a strange question indeed, yet I'm sure there is some importance to it,” he mused aloud. Hermione nodded.

“I do, Miss Granger, which I am sure you were aware of, yet not sure if I had acquired such a rare creature at this point in time.”

She felt the tension slowly leave her shoulders. He did have Fawkes, just as she hoped he would.

“Exactly, sir. What I was wondering was…” she bit her lip, somewhat afraid to ask what she'd come there to ask.

Dumbledore saw her hesitate, his eyes softened.

“Miss Granger, you are here for a reason. If there is anything I could assist with, please never fear to ask me,” he told her sincerely.

Hermione smiled. “Thank you, sir.”

“Now, what was it that you're so anxious to ask?”

“I need a vial of Phoenix tears, Professor,” she said without anymore hesitation.

The evening before, an idea struck her, as she was reading in the Restricted Section. There was a section of a book that dealt with petrifaction, which made her think of the Basilisk from her second year. The same one that bit Harry, who should have died, if not for the Phoenix’s tears. If they could cure Basilisk venom, surely they should be of some use against Nagini’s venom.

Dumbledore took his time before he responded. He stroked his beard as he studied the young woman in front of him. Hermione’s hands trembled ever so slightly, since so much was riding on his answer.

While she waited, everything seemed to slow down. His ticking instruments sounded entirely too loud, yet not loud enough to drown out the sound of her own pounding heart.

She remained holding eye contact with the headmaster, trying to see if she could read his decision before he voiced it out loud. A familiar twinkle lit in his eyes, and his lips spread into a smile.

“I shall see what I can do,” he said, yet did not elaborate any further.

It wasn't the exact answer she hoped for, but she would make due with it for now.

“Thank you, Professor Dumbledore.”

***

7th November 1976


On Sunday afternoon, Hermione and Severus were making use of the Potions classroom, which Slughorn had been all too happy to allow. Hermione had her notes opened as she lit a flame underneath her cauldron, as Severus crushed Jobberknoll parts.

“Hermione?”

Scribbling down a few new pieces of information, she didn't look up, but hummed quietly in response. She did stop writing, however, when his hand gently wrapped around hers, causing her to look up into his anxious face.

“What is it, Severus?”

Severus ran a hand through his hair. He stared at her with an almost pained expression, then shook his head slowly. A forced smile painted his lips.

“Nothing. Erm…never mind,” he said in a sand papery voice.

He returned to his crushing, yet Hermione kept her eyes locked on him. Whatever he wanted to ask seemed to be important, and she wanted to reassure him that he could speak with her about anything.

“Severus, please? What were you going to say?” she asked.

When he shook his head again, Hermione reached across the table and placed her hand on his forearm.

“You know you can always tell me what you're thinking, correct?”

He exhaled loudly and nodded. “I suppose,” said Severus uncertainly.

“Well you can,” she told him in a matter-of-fact tone.

As he glanced up at her, she saw the insecurity and doubt that clouded his eyes. Her chest ached as she wondered what else she could do to prove her loyalty to him. To make him understand that she would not betray him or cause him any harm.

“I overheard Black and Potter the other night,” he finally said.

Hermione felt the air deflate from her body. It now made sense as to why he’d been more quiet and distant the last few days. Of course he would have heard, she thought bitterly.

“Don't worry about that, Severus. Sirius is a prat. And it's not like what they said made any difference as to how I feel about you.”

She mentally winced after the words how I feel about you left her. Especially after the side of his mouth ticked upwards at her slip of the tongue.

When he looked at her then, he had a new found hope in his expression.

“That's the thing, Hermione. How -” he stopped and looked down, then began tugging at the cuff of his robes. “How do you feel about me?” he asked so softly, she barely made the words out.

This was it, she panicked. She felt as if they were balancing on a precipice. They've been dancing around the issue for weeks now, but she didn't feel as if they could avoid it any longer. It was painfully obvious that both of them had feelings for one another, and if she were to deny those feelings to him, she may potentially risk losing even a friendship with him. And that was just something she could not allow to happen.


***
A/N - Hello readers! I definitely didn't anticipate having this chapter finished so quickly, but I just couldn't stop writing. So I figured I might as well post it. I even have the beginning of chapter 18 started. :) I'm going to be a bit busy for the next week, since my fiancé and I will be off and plan to go somewhere for a day or two. So I don't think another update will come as quickly, but I'll try not to let it go for more than 2 weeks before I update again. As always, thank you all so much for your love and support! Every review, read and favorite truly makes my day and I honestly appreciate it so much! Sorry for the cliffhanger, especially when the next update might not be for another 2 weeks, but I hope you enjoyed the chapter regardless. Much love to you all!




7th November 1976

Hermione’s cheeks were ablaze. How should she respond? He looked at her expectantly. His own face flushed with a bit of color.

She had to tell him the truth, or at least part of it. It wasn't fair to either of them for her to lie any longer. And she also had a feeling that if she continued to deny her feelings towards him, she was going to lose him completely. After all, there were only so many times a person could be rejected, before they gave up completely. Hermione didn't want him to give up, and she sure as hell was not prepared to lose him.

After deep breath and while she twisted her fingers around one another, Hermione finally answered.

“I like you, Severus,” she admitted in a small voice.

Yes her answer was weak, and not quite all that she had wanted to say, but she was only human. Even though most of his words and actions had strongly hinted towards an interest in her, she still did not want to lay all of her cards on the table, out of the small fear of possible rejection.

But from the way his mouth twisted, she knew he was expecting her to say more.

“I mean, I enjoy spending time with you, more than anyone else to be honest,” she added.

He still did not appear mollified by her response. His eyes dropped from hers and a slight frown touched his lips. “I…enjoy our time together, as well,” he told her quietly.

They both sat in silence. Hermione chewed the inside of her lip as she mentally debated on if she should say more, or wait for him to speak again. She had a raging battle inside of her, as she argued with herself as to if she should just let the chips fall where they may, and voice her desire to attempt something more with him. She wanted to so badly that it almost hurt.

“Hermione, I want to be honest with you, because it's something I need to work on -- being honest,” he began. Her heart drummed madly. “I don't want to just be your friend. And if I'm correct, I don't believe you are interested in just friendship either.”

She was completely speechless, yet found it in her to at least shake her head.

“So what do we do now?” he asked.

Bugger it all to hell if she knew. Poor Severus had no idea what he was asking for.

“We take it slowly, and continue learning about one another? I don't know about you, Severus, but I'm not entertaining the idea of anyone else at the moment,” she said.

Severus leaned forward and reached for her hand. As he wrapped his around hers, the contrast of his alabaster skin to her golden tone was striking, he gently stroked his thumb across her knuckles. “I could work with that.” Then he gave her a heart stopping smirk. “And no Hermione, I'm not entertaining the idea of another either.”

Upon seeing the rare joy on Severus’ face, that was when Hermione knew there was no turning back. Given the choice between no time with him romantically, or a small sliver of time with him in that way, she'd chosen the small sliver. After all both of them had been through, and would go through, they deserved at least that much. No matter how selfish of her it was to have felt that way.

When Severus returned to his work, Hermione noticed he crushed with more vigor and confidence than he had prior to their conversation. As she watched him, her doubt was pushed aside, and all the excitement and butterflies that come along with the promise of a new relationship took its place.


***

8th November 1976


Monday evening, while Severus was serving his final detention, Hermione sat reading her time travel book on one of the many stone benches in the corridors of the school. True to her nature, now that she'd decided to try a relationship with Severus, albeit a slow one, she began research on the subject.

Although romantic involvement while you are in the past is not forbidden, it is not exactly encouraged. Understand that you are undeniably leaving your presence in a world in which you do not belong. The person whom you involve yourself with will most certainly remember you, more so than any other you come into contact with. The emotional harm you may inflict on your partner, if or when you return to your own time, could potentially be severe.

However, it is true that some loves withstand time. If the bond you have with that person proves to be strong enough, it may be possible that you were meant to find that person. You may find yourself meeting that person again one day. It is up to you to decide if the rewards outweigh the risks.


That last sentence weighed heavily on her mind. Would the rewards outweigh the risks? Possibly, she thought. If the rewards turn out that her love could potentially save him -- save herself even, then yes. For once she'd wished she hadn't been Hermione Granger, and hadn't been compelled to over analyze every single last move in her life, and for once just go with what felt right. Because truthfully, being with Severus just felt right.

She was so wrapped up in her head, and in her reading that she hadn't heard anyone approach, until they spoke to her.

“Time travel? That's an unusual topic,” Remus said, standing before her.

Hermione was startled so violently that the book flew out of her hands and onto the floor. Remus glanced at the book then back to Hermione, his eyes flashed with one thousand questions.

“Merlin’s Beard, Remus!” Hermione exclaimed before she hastily reached for her book, then shoved it into her bag. “You scared me half to death.”

Remus’ eyes were fixed on her bag as he took a seat next to her. “Sorry,” he told her. “What are you reading that for?”

How stupid of her to have read that book out in the open. The only reason she did was because the library was filled with students, who were beginning to study for their end of term exams, before the holidays. Since it was getting quite late, she figured she wouldn't have run into anyone in the hallway, but she didn't factor in the Prefects who would just be starting patrols.

“Oh you know, just some light reading. Something to take my mind off of studying for a bit,” she lied, with her voice traveling up an octave.

As Remus looked at her, his eyes scanned her face, as if he was searching for the answer to an exceptionally difficult riddle. Hermione squirmed in her seat. Remus was too perceptive for her own good. Something she knew from her time knowing him as an adult. She had to change the subject quickly.

“How are things going with Amelia?” she asked, before he could interrogate her any further. It seemed to have done the trick. He smiled.

“They seem to be going pretty well, actually.”

Hermione was happy for Remus, knowing that Amelia seemed to bring such joy into his life. The way he lit up when he spoke about her, or was near her would be something she'd always be appreciative towards Amelia for. Hermione knew Remus had a difficult time in school, with worrying about people finding out his secret, so to see him so enamoured was wonderful.

“That's great, Remus. I know that she's really quite taken with you,” Hermione said. “But I never said that,” she quickly added with a laugh.

Remus opened his eyes wide, and tried to appear as innocent looking as possible. “Said what, Hermione?” He smirked.

Soon then fell into conversation about school, exams, and their plans for the holidays. When Hermione told him she would be remaining at Hogwarts during the break, he appeared to be trying to hide a smile.

“I've heard that Snape usually stays behind during the holidays, too,” said Remus slyly.

Hermione looked down at her shoes. “Does he? He hadn't mentioned anything.”

Remus placed his hand on Hermione’s forearm; she looked back at him. His face again changed from her schoolmate to the professor she had once known, and she worried another lecture was on its way.

“Hermione, listen. I - I may not like him, and I may not understand, but he does seem to make you happy. So…I hate to sound all cliché, but as long as you're happy, then I'm happy for you,” he told her, completely taking her off guard.

Her throat tightened after Remus had told her that. She wasn't looking for anyone's blessing -- far from it. But to finally have a friend voice their acceptance of her feelings for Severus, especially after all the pushback she had been receiving, it meant a great deal to her.

She clasped his hand, which still rested on her forearm, and gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Thank you, Remus.”

***

11th November 1976

Without the Warming Charm, and hot thermos of coffee -- Hermione visibly grimaced when Severus told her had taken his black -- they would had been frozen to their cores, as they sat on a blanket, staring across the Black Lake and at the magnificent view of Hogwarts. Hermione had asked Severus, who also had a free hour before lunch, if he'd prefer to spend time alone together, before they had to attend their afternoon double Potions class. Severus was only too happy to oblige.

Hermione truly loved the tiny island that she and Severus would sometimes escape to. The fact that it was so far removed from everything and everyone else brought a welcomed calm and peace to her, when otherwise she was a jumble of stress and nerves.

Even with the Warming Charm, she still felt the sting from the whipping wind, so she scooted herself closer to Severus, hoping to take comfort in his body heat. Almost as if on instinct, she leaned her head onto his shoulder. She felt him become as still as stone when she did, yet after a few seconds, he slowly wrapped his arm around her, and pulled her in closer. It was the most intimate gesture either of them had show the other so far, and she had to admit, she felt completely at home in his embrace.

As she sat there, she began thinking of how incredible it was that they had managed to come to the point they were at. How Severus had gone from openly hostile, to indifferent, to begrudgingly civil, to somewhat friendly, to pleasant and funny, to at times sweet and sort of romantic.

Ten weeks ago, Hermione feared she'd never get into Severus’ good graces, now she sat tucked into his side, and the two of them were becoming more important to one another with each passing day. He wasn't just a mission to her any longer. He was a person who made her knees go week. Someone who made her think differently, and re-evaluate so many things she never thought she'd have to. Like her relationship with Ron, for example.

She'd always thought that she and Ron were meant to be. That it had to end up that way. But why? Because they'd been through so many hard times together, and had their loyalty to Harry in common? When it came down to it, she and Ron were just never compatible. It's true when they say opposites attract, but there had to be a limit to that. She and Ron were just too different, and now that she'd thought about it more clearly and objectively, they would never had made it in the long run.

Severus on the other hand, it made sense. They were just opposite enough for there to be an attraction, yet they had enough in common to make it work. She'd never become bored with someone like Severus, who'd always be able to stimulate her intellectually. With the two of them, she knew there would always be some sort of debate or deep discussion about issues and ideas that she was passionate about. Severus was the type of person who she knew would never be finished learning, and neither would she. And she'd love to have the chance to go through life questioning the status quo and learning everything she possibly could with him by her side.

Her internal musings brought a question to her mind.

“Severus?” she asked softly. “What do you want to do after Hogwarts?”

From being his student for so many years, a part of her always wondered if he’d actually enjoyed teaching. It hadn't felt as if he had, and after she learned the truth about him, she knew he was more or less forced into the position. Now that she had the opportunity, she wanted to know what his aspirations were before his life had fallen apart.

“To be honest, I'm not quite sure,” he said. “I've tossed around a few ideas, but nothing has really called to me...until recently, that is.” He then looked down and smiled. “Perhaps I’ll take up a Potions apprenticeship.”

Hermione felt that familiar flip in her stomach. How badly she wished they really could do that together. But she decided to play along for now.

“Oh really?” She smirked. “What ever changed your mind?”

Taking her off guard, he poked her in her side, causing her to squeak -- not many people knew, but she was very ticklish. He laughed at her reaction, and a devilish look came into his eyes. Hermione’s mouth ran dry at the sight.

“Very recently, the idea became much more attractive, you could say.”

Hermione’s retort was lost, due to Severus poking her again, then full out tickling her after she jumped and squeaked a second time. As he attacked her, Hermione fell back and tried desperately to crawl away, yet Severus was too strong. She tried to threaten him between giggles, however, the threats sounded hollow to both of them. Seeing this playful side of Severus caused her to fall even deeper into this madness that was happening between the two of them, but at this point Hermione could not have cared less.

When he finally stopped, Hermione laid panting on the ground; Severus kneeled over her, watching her with a new fire in his eyes.

Her heart hammered as she narrowed her eyes and sat up slowly, pushing the hair away that had fallen across her face. “You're going to pay for that, Severus Snape,” she threatened with a predatory smile.

Severus rolled his eyes and beckoned her forward with a twitch of his index finger.

As she advanced towards him, she raised her arm, pointing her wand at him, intending to hurl a minor bat bogey hex his way. Her pulse went into overdrive when Severus completely surprised her, by quickly grabbing her by the wrist, and pulling her up against his lean frame. Before she had any time to act, or overthink, he crashed his lips onto hers with a chaste kiss, then immediately pulled away and dropped her arm.

Hermione’s breathing stopped completely. Severus’ eyes were opened so wide, it was a wonder they hadn't fallen out of their sockets. Both of their faces burned brightly as they stared at one another in shock. Hermione brought her hand up to her lips, still in disbelief over what had just happened.

“I'm sorry” he said quickly.

“Don't be,” Hermione replied just as fast.

Before she could say anything else, he stood up and walked a few paces away. Hermione was rooted to the spot, frozen by the dozens of emotions that were flowing through her.

They'd just shared their first kiss, and it was over in the blink of an eye. She hoped -- if it were to have happen -- that it would had been more along the lines of her dreams, but reality was never like a dream. She knew that. But still, it wasn't as if she was complaining about what happened. Now that it did, she wondered why she hadn't let it happen sooner. It felt foolish to have overthought it as much as she did. And quite honestly, she was fighting every impulse she had to get up and do it again. However, the way Severus was reacting told her that wouldn't have been the best idea at the moment.

“I shouldn't have…I mean -- you said slowly -- I'm sorry, I -- please don't be angry,” he stammered with his back turned to her.

Hermione couldn't allow him to beat himself up over this. Without saying anything, she stood up, walked over to him, and wrapped both arms around his waist. He didn't move.

“I'm not angry,” she told him.

No response, save for the howling wind, and the water slapping the shore of the island.

“Yes, I did say I wanted to take things slowly, however…maybe -- I didn't mind it,” she admitted, not only to him, but to herself also.

Gradually he turned around with Hermione's arms still locked around him. He looked down at her with something close to wonder in his expression. He shook his head subtly, as he smiled.

“No?” he asked.

Hermione smiled back. “No.”

He reached down and grazed the back of his hand across her cheekbone. Goosebumps trailed behind on her flesh and a shiver ran down her spine.

“We should probably head back to the school,” he said sadly.

Every part of her wanted to stay there, alone, wrapped in his arms, but she knew he was right. Even under normal circumstances she wouldn't have wanted to progress things too quickly, and if they remained there, she was sure her strength would falter.

“Yes, we probably should,” she reluctantly agreed, before releasing herself from his hold.

On the boat ride back to the castle, Hermione and Severus did not say much. They simply sat next to one another, holding hands. They hadn't discussed any more about what had just happened between them, but Hermione knew that everything would be different now. And for once, different in a positive way.

As she looked up at Severus, and he responded by kissing the crown of her head, Hermione knew that she could not fail in saving his life. She knew that now it went beyond wanting to do the right thing. Because, if Hermione failed, and Severus did not make it through that final night, before she'd travelled to the past, it would be something she couldn't possibly handle. If Severus Snape died, Hermione was positive that a part of her would as well. And she would be damned before she'd allow that to happen.


***

A/N - surprise! We have a kiss! *gasp* I was able to squeeze in some writing before bed each day this week, so I managed to finish the chapter a week early. :) Hope you enjoyed it! And as always, thank you so, so much for all the love and support! I love you all! ♥


22nd November 1976

After Severus kissed her, he had not attempted to do so again, apparently still fulfilling Hermione’s wishes of taking things slowly. Although, she was a touch miffed that he hadn't tried again. Even so, they had been behaving more couple-like since then. They now were openly holding hands while walking through the corridors, and he had even taken to waiting at the bottom of the stairs of Ravenclaw tower for her in the mornings. Rumors circulated around the school regarding their status, but no one had the nerve to flat out ask either one of them about it, which was just as well to each of them. After nearly two weeks, it all died down anyhow, and now it seemed most people didn't even bat an eyelash at the pair of them together.

Monday morning Hermione had some unexpected free time, due to McGonagall falling ill and cancelling their Transfiguration lesson. With her cloak buttoned to her chin, and her hood up over her head, she quickly rushed across the school grounds, towards the Forbidden Forest.

There was something she hoped to retrieve that she needed for her antivenin, and although she probably could have found it in the Potion’s classroom, she knew that it was stronger if fresh.

The skin surrounding her nose and eyes stung from the cold, and the smalls strands of hair that escaped from her hood grew damp, due to the mist that settled in the air. Her pace increased, and her breath clouded out in front of her while she jogged towards the trees behind Hagrid’s hut.

When she finally arrived to the edge of the forest, she glanced back over her shoulder, making sure that she wouldn't have been caught, since the forest was forbidden to all students. The lights were out at Hagrid’s, and the chimney was devoid of any smoke, so she assumed that he had already been inside the castle. The coast was clear.

As Hermione stepped through the trees, she was forced to light her wand out in front of her, since the lack of sunlight made it appear as if it were nearly nightfall. A silver sphere of light formed around her, giving her about a three foot bubble of visibility. The sounds of branches cracking, and the soft twittering of birds in the distance, along with more sinister, unnatural noises that she knew were unique to the forest filled her ears. A chill ran through her, which had nothing to do with the temperature outside.

With purpose, Hermione crunched her way through the trees and towards her destination. The further she travelled, the quieter it became, until the only sounds were her labored breathing and the crackling from the leaves that blanketed the forest floor. After five more minutes of walking, Hermione stepped through a thicket of shrubbery and found herself in a perfectly circular clearing, with thankfully, a touch more light than before.

It was the unicorn clearing that she had been taken to by Professor Grubbly Plank during Hagrid’s absence her fifth year.

Lowering her wand towards the ground, Hermione walked slowly, as she kicked aside wet leaves and debris, hoping she would find was she was looking for. Nearly ten minutes later she'd almost given up hope, until a glint of silver caught her eye roughly seven paces ahead of her. She felt her heart jump as she rushed over and picked the item off of the ground.

Triumph washed over her as she held the unicorn’s horn in her hand. Upon noticing the thin coating of fuzz that covered it, she nearly cried out loud with joy. It was rare indeed to find the horn from a unicorn foal, but if a person were to become lucky enough to possess one, the healing properties were much stronger coming from an animal as pure and innocent as a young one.

It must had just fallen from the foal, she noted, as she turned it around in her hands to examine it. The fact that it still emitted a faint iridescent glow, and was not as opaque as the ones easily purchased from a shop told her as much. She had to get back to the school and crush it as quickly as possible. Nothing else would be as potent.

Hermione raised her wand, and conjured a handkerchief that she wrapped the small horn in, then carefully placed into the pocket of her robes. The adrenaline flowed through her veins as she realized she gained a monumental step forward in the hopes of brewing a strong enough potion to keep Severus alive.

When she returned back inside the castle, she nearly crashed right into Amelia, as she headed towards Ravenclaw tower to collect her school things for her Arithmancy class.

“Merlin’s socks, Hermione!” Amelia exclaimed. “What the hell were you doing outside? It's absolutely miserable out there.”

Hermione paused for a moment as she lowered her hood and got her bearings. “I just needed some fresh air,” she lied, breathing heavily.

Amelia narrowed her eyes, clearly looking as if she hadn't believed her.

“Right. Well never mind that. Snape was looking for you,” she told her.

Her stomach dropped. She'd completely forgotten to let him know she wouldn't have been at breakfast that morning.

“Damn. Well, it's fine. I'll see him in class in a few moments anyhow.”

Hermione started walking again, Amelia alongside her.

“So are you finally going to tell me what's really going on between you two?” Amelia asked.

She took a look at her friend from the side of her eye and let out a loud breath.

“To be honest, I don't even know how to describe it,” she admitted. “I should have told you earlier, but I didn't know how you'd react.”

“Tell me what?”

Hermione stopped walking and turned to look Amelia full on. Amelia’s eyes burned with curiosity while she waited for Hermione to continue.

“He -- erm…we kissed,” she mumbled.

A smile slowly formed across Amelia’s lips, while Hermione mentally braced herself, anticipating her friend to disapprove.

“That's, great Hermione!” Amelia said, completely surprising her.

Her brow furrowed. “But I thought -- I mean -- you don't like him?” Hermione stammered.

Amelia snorted as the two girls began to walk again. “It's not that I don't like him, Hermione. I hardly know him. I just don't like some of the things I've heard that he's done.”

Hermione opened her mouth to defend Severus, but Amelia stopped her.

“Hey, I trust your judgement, and if you like him, then he must not be that bad.” She smirked.

The corners of Hermione’s mouth twitched. “No, he's not,” she said.

Taking Hermione’s admission as an invitation to speak about boys and relationships, Amelia told Hermione that Remus had finally asked her to be his girlfriend that morning. Hermione was genuinely happy for the both of them, knowing from the short time she had been friends with them both, that it was long overdue.

Their conversation hadn't lasted long, since Amelia had to rush to the opposite side of the castle so she wouldn't be late to her Muggle Studies lesson. The girls parted ways near the Ravenclaw Common room, and Hermione rushed up the stairs and to her dormitory.

Once inside, she quickly summoned her pestle and mortar, then took the unicorn horn from her cloak. As she crushed it into a fine multicolored powder, she realized she was running late for class. Severus would be sure to worry about her, since she'd been missing all morning, but she would make up some excuse about not feeling well, or something of that nature. She'd already taken these classes before, so it wasn't as if they were vitally important to her education.

Once the horn was crushed completely, she conjured a glass vial, and carefully poured the contents of the mortar inside. Once the stopper was in place, she cast a stasis charm on the powder, to make sure it remained as fresh as possible, wrapped the vial in the handkerchief the horn had previously been in, and placed it in the bottom of her school trunk.

By the time she had finished, changed and gathered her belongings, she was nearly half an hour late for class. Figuring it would be pointless showing up when the lesson was nearly finished, she instead took a slow walk to the library, hoping to take advantage of its emptiness while most of the other students were attending their classes.

Knowing that griffin claws were used in Strengthening Solutions, she wanted to research more into them and their uses, to see if using one would prove beneficial. And to see if there would be any negative reactions with the other ingredients she had already been collecting and planning to mix.

***

25th November 1976


“Damn! Damn, damn, damn! I'm never going to get this right!” Hermione cried out while siphoning off the sludge from the burnt potion, that exploded out of the cauldron, and landed all over herself and half of the Potion’s classroom.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly, until an impulsive decision to add a few drops of Dragon’s Blood into her concoction struck her. The moment the third drop fell into the mixture, the whole thing went up in flames, bubbled and erupted from the cauldron like a volcano. Apart from some singed hair, and a few holes in her robes, she luckily was not physically harmed. Mentally though, that was an entirely different story.

Once everything was cleared up, tears of frustration filled up her eyes, and before she could stop them, they brimmed over and flowed down her cheeks. She'd thought she'd worked it out, but again was left with no results. Every night she'd been working on her antivenin, and every night she was becoming more and more discouraged. She just had to get this right.

It wasn't long before her frustration turned into bereavement, when she thought of the ramifications of her not succeeding. Images of an adult Severus, bleeding from multiple puncture wounds, while gargling his words flooded her mind. She'd almost collapsed from the weight of her anguish in reliving that moment.

Hermione’s head whipped up when she felt an arm come around her shoulders. She quickly wiped her face and turned to look to see who it was, even though she'd already known.

Severus looked at her with a V formed between his eyebrows as he reached towards her and wiped a stray tear from her eye.

“What happened?” he asked.

Seeing him there, young, whole and alive, after the images she'd just seen behind her closed eyes was too much for her to take in at that moment. Her whole frame vibrated as fresh sobs rocked her body. Severus hesitated briefly, before wrapping both arms around her.

“Shh. It's alright,” he tried to sooth her, while stroking her hair as she cried into his shoulder.

“It -- b-blew up!” Hermione hiccoughed into his robes.

She knew she must have looked completely silly, sobbing over her failed attempt, since Severus wouldn't have realized how important it was for her to succeed. To him, this was just something she was working on for her education, not a matter of life and death as it truly was.

Hermione cried and cried for nearly twenty minutes; Severus held her the entire time. It was the first time in months that Hermione finally let out all of the fear, uncertainty, stress and sadness she'd felt for over a year. The first time she'd truly fallen apart since she and Harry were alone hunting Horcruxes together. Each time she'd thought she was finished, another image from the Battle, or the months on the run, or when she was being tortured at Malfoy Manor would pop into her head. Everything had finally all come crashing down, just because of another setback. She knew she couldn't give up, but the more she fell apart, the better it strangely made her feel.

Finally she'd begun to pull herself together and lifted her head from his shoulder. His arms were still around her; she made no attempt to move from him.

“I'm s-sorry,” she whispered with a small sniffle.

Severus' eyes were wide, filled with alarm.

“Hermione, what happened? I've -- I’ve never seen you like that before,” he said, sounding a touch frightened by her outburst.

She felt herself blush and glanced down at his green and silver tie. “I don't know what that was,” she lied. “I guess when the potion exploded, all the stress from exams and working on this every night, and everything just got to me. That won't happen again.”

Again, Severus’ fingers methodically combed through her hair. “Merlin, from the way you were crying, I’d thought someone died,” he said softly.

Hermione froze. He actually wasn't too far off the mark there.

Slowly she looked up from his tie and once again saw the concern for her burning in his eyes. She wasn't sure why she'd done what she did next. Perhaps she was looking for a way to take her mind off of things, or maybe she was looking for a way to distract him and keep him from asking more questions. Or maybe, when she took his face between her hands and felt the warmth of his skin, she was searching for undeniable proof that he was alive and with her. Slowly, she leaned forward and gently kissed him. His lips were warm and soft, and she could taste the salt from her tears that had fallen down her face and onto both their lips. His arms tightened around her. She could feel the smile that formed on his face right before she pulled away.

“Thank you,” she said.

His cheeks were flushed as he let out a low chuckle. “For what?” he asked, sounding as winded as if he'd just run the length of a Quidditch pitch.

“For being here,” she told him.

As his black eyes softened, and before Severus could respond, both Hermione and he jumped apart when someone cleared their throat behind them. Her heart nearly leaped out of her chest.

“Now as happy as I might be to see my two top students so enamoured with one another, this wasn't what I had in mind when I agreed to allow you both access to my classroom after hours,” Professor Slughorn mildly scolded them.

Hermione’s face was on fire as she looked up at her professor, who was shaking his head; his shoulders bouncing with silent laughter.

“We’re sorry, Professor,” Severus said quietly, Hermione nodded beside him.

Slughorn let out a loud laugh. “Oh to be young and in love,” said he in a dreamy voice.

Hermione wanted to crawl in a hole when he'd said the words in love. She was quite sure she'd never been so mortified in her life.

“You may find it difficult to believe, but I do remember what it was like to be your age,” Slughorn continued. Every part of Hermione wished he would stop. “But as your teacher, I do have to insist that this does not happen again.”

“Yes, sir,” Hermione and Severus both mumbled together.

Perhaps the evening would all prove to have been a nightmare, Hermione pleaded in her head.

Without embarrassing them any further, Slughorn suggested that they'd both call it a night, and dismissed them from his classroom. Hermione had been more than happy to leave, and nearly sprinted out of the door.

“Well that was…” Severus trailed off, as he walked her to Ravenclaw.

“The most embarrassed I'd ever been in my life,” she finished for him.

Severus looked at her from the corner of his eye, while he walked next to her. Hermione glanced up at him and noticed a small smile tugging at his lips. The reality of what had just happened hit her, and how ridiculous it had been -- they were caught snogging by a teacher. Hermione Granger -- well Devereux to the people there -- and Severus Snape, two people who were the least likely to have been told off for doing so. Before she knew it, a giggle bursted out from her. Severus let out a deep chuckle in response. Then suddenly the two of them had been in stitches over the whole situation. Primarily the way Slughorn’s mouth comically popped open and the way his eyes nearly fell from their sockets. In just a few minutes time, it had gone from the most mortifying experience she'd ever had, to the most hilarious experience she'd ever had. And no matter what happened, she knew it would be something both of them would remember for the rest of their lives.

Once the laughter had finally died away, and even the stray giggles were gone, Severus took Hermione’s hand and the two continued walking along the corridors.

“Hermione?”

She so loved when he would say her name. It still hadn't lost its charm on her. The deep baritone of his voice, even as a teenager, would make it sound like the most wonderful symphony to her ears. A reflexive smile painted her lips.

“Yes, Severus?”

“What are your plans for the holiday break?” he asked, sounding hopeful.

Hermione squeezed his hand. “I'm staying here with my Uncle,” she half-lied.

He squeezed her hand in return. “I guess that's good luck, considering I'll be here as well.”

“Well good. Then I'm not losing my potion’s partner over the break,” she joked as she playfully bumped her hip into his side.

Severus laughed softly. “That's the only reason you like me. My unparalleled brilliance.”

“Yep,” she quipped, not missing a beat.

As always when walking with him, they arrived at the bottom of the stairs to her Common Room in no time.

When she stopped to say goodnight to him, a huge wave of emotion washed over her. She realized how grateful she was for him that evening. Because of Severus, she'd done a complete turnaround from how she'd been feeling when he first arrived into the Potion’s classroom, to find her sobbing over an empty cauldron. For someone she'd known most of her life as a person who was reserved, cold, and sometimes cruel, he'd shown himself to be much kinder, opened and more comforting than she ever would have imagined.

Was he actually like that, deep down, as an adult? Or had he been through and seen too much that he'd be forever different? Would it even be possible for them to continue any sort of relationship once she returned to her time -- if he survived, of course?

As she stood on her toes and placed a soft kiss to his cheek before saying goodbye, she found herself desperately hoping so.





3rd December 1976

With Christmas only a few weeks away, Hermione was trying to decide what to get Severus. They hadn't discussed exchanging gifts, and she hadn't really expected anything from him, but she wanted to get him something to remember her by. Since she knew one day she'd have to leave him. The only question was, what would he like?

She wanted to get him something practical -- something she knew that he could keep for many years. Practical, yet also special. Friday evening she was sat in her bed, lazily thumbing the pages of The Daily Prophet checking the section for different shops in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. They did have another trip to the Wizarding village coming up before the break, but since she'd most likely be with Severus, getting his gift through owl order seemed to be her only option.

Her eyes scanned the typical dribble -- charmed razors, expensive quills, hats and other garments, trinkets and other items that were not catching her eye. Then as she turned to the next page, she saw it -- the perfect gift. It was a stirring stick made from tungsten. Knowing that tungsten had the highest melting point of any pure metal, she knew it would be perfect for even the hottest of potions, and last him a lifetime.

After summoning her quill and a bottle of ink, Hermione filled out the purchase order, taking care to also leave a note of what she'd like magically inscribed on it. She quickly checked the time, gathered the money needed for the order, sealed the envelope and hurried out of her dorm, hoping she would make it to the owlry before curfew.

As she watched the brown owl take flight with her order, she smiled to herself, hoping he would like his gift and get plenty of use out of it.

She took her time climbing down the stairs, looking up at the starry sky with the wind blowing through her hair, when suddenly she froze. Severus would use his gift. For many years, actually.

ooo


Hermione cursed under her breath while she dug through her bag, during her fifth year Potion’s class. She could have sworn that it was in there, and she couldn't very well make her potion correctly without it. Damn, she thought, when her empty hand came out of her bag.

Snape would deduct points from her for sure. He always found a reason to take points from Gryffindor. Regardless, she took a deep breath and raised her hand high into the air.

She saw Snape glance at her from his desk, yet he didn't answer her immediately. For whatever reason, he always kept her waiting whenever she had a question and would raise her hand in the middle of class.

Hermione locked her eyes onto him, and sat up straight, refusing to lower her arm until he called on her. Why did he hate her so much?

Snape exhaled loudly, yet kept his focus on the paper he had been scribbling across.

“Problem, Miss Granger?” he drawled.

“Please, sir. I've seemed to have misplaced my stirring stick required for this potion.” She winced, waiting for him to berate her, and take points.

Snape rolled his eyes and huffed.

“Git.” She heard Ron whisper next to her. Harry snorted.

Apparently, he did not whisper it quietly enough. “Detention, Weasley!” snapped Snape. “And five points from Gryffindor.”

Hermione groaned along with rest of the Gryffindors in the class, while Ron’s ears went bright red.

He still hadn't responded to Hermione, who looked up at him patiently. She waited while he opened the top drawer of his desk, and pulled out a faded green handkerchief that he unravelled, which appeared to have a long metal item in it.

She wasn't sure if she'd imagined it or not, but she thought she saw a hint of sadness touch his eyes when he looked at, what she assumed was a stirring stick. But quickly his face became cold and indifferent once more as he approached her table.

While he stood over her, as intimidating and imposing as ever, Hermione suppressed a chill while refusing to break eye contact, not showing him how intimidated she truly was of the man. What surprised her was she did not find the normal loathing in his eyes as he looked down upon her. There was something just bubbling beneath the surface that she couldn't quite put her finger on.

When he handed her the stirring stick, he cleared his throat. “Do be careful with this, Miss Granger. As it is from my personal collection, and has been in my possession longer than you have been alive.”

Hermione gulped and held it delicately, afraid to even breathe on it. “Yes, Sir. Thank you.”

He lingered for a second longer than he normally had ever done, before turning around. “Ten more points from Gryffindor, for your forgetfulness,” he said as he walked back to his desk.

As she turned it over in her hand, her heart sank when she noticed the metal had been scratched. For a moment Hermione panicked, thinking she had damaged it already, but noticed that the markings on it were an inscription.


‘To Severus, with love. - H xx’

She briefly wondered if it had been a gift from a relative, since she couldn't imagine anyone ever being intimately involved with someone as miserable and surly as he.

Shrugging it off, she went back to her assignment for the day, not realizing that Snape's eyes hadn't left her the entire time.


ooo


“Oh my god…” she whispered to herself.


***

4th December 1976

Saturday afternoon, Hermione and Severus sat at their usual table in the library, books sprawled out between the two of them on the table. They were studying for exams, yet Hermione couldn't concentrate, now that she'd remembered that incident from her Potion’s class. She'd realized that Severus must have given her that particular stirring stick for a reason. He'd wanted her to know that he remembered. But what else could he have been trying to tell her? Was it possible that he had still cared for her? Preposterous, she told herself.

Until he looked up and smiled at her, she hadn't realized that she had been staring again.

“See anything you like?” he asked with a half smirk.

Hermione blushed deeply at being caught, and because the answer to his question was a resounding yes. She let out a small laugh as she crumpled up a tiny ball of parchment and threw it at him.

Without another word, she went back to her work -- or at least tried to. She began thinking again about the antivenin. If she even managed to make one correctly, how would she know? Normally Wizards would test their new potions on House Elves, which was absolutely not an option. What if it poisoned the elf? She wouldn't have been able to live with herself if she'd done one of those kind creatures any harm. The only thing she could think of was to test it out on herself. But again, how? She'd hardly be able to walk into the nearest apothecary and order up a bottle of their finest snake venom, infused with the darkest of magic.

For every step forward, she'd felt as if she was taking two steps back. A heavy sigh escaped her.

“Are you stuck on something?” asked Severus, mistaking her frustration.

Hermione shook her head. “No. Just bored,” she lied.

He took a look down at his watch and then smiled at Hermione. “We've been at it for nearly 4 hours. Reckon we should call it a day?”

She nodded and began to pack up her belongings. Maybe getting out of the quiet library was a good idea, since her mind was wandering so much. Perhaps if they went for a walk, or did something besides study, it could help take her mind off of things. She desperately needed a mental break.

While the walked holding hands down the corridor together, Severus began stroking her knuckles with his thumb.

“Hermione? Is everything alright? You've seemed a little distracted today,” Severus asked.

She had to get it together, she scolded herself. It wouldn't do for her to continue showing all of her emotions each time a new revelation would hit her, or a setback happened. With a forced smile on her face, she pulled him to a stop, then stood on her toes to place a soft kiss to his lips. When she pulled back, his eyes lightened.

“Everything is fine. Promise. Just pre-exam jitters, I suppose,” she said, hoping he bought it.

Severus pushed her hair behind her ear, and cupped her cheek in his hand. “You'll have nothing to worry about. You're brilliant, you know that,” he told her.

Again she felt the fluttering in her stomach at his words, and from the way his eyes burned into hers. She wondered if he'd always had the ability to be that charming, or if it was their budding romance that had brought it out of him.

“Thank you, Severus,” she responded softly.

He pressed his lips against her forehead, then the pair of them continued their leisurely pace down the corridor. It wasn't quite time for dinner yet, but neither one wanted to part from the other yet. Severus asked if she wanted to continue working on her project for her apprenticeship, but Hermione told him no. She'd been working on it nearly every night for weeks at that point, and really just fancied a day off from her work. She suggested continuing their practice with non-verbal spells in one of the empty classrooms, which Severus agreed to. He'd improved very much since he'd first asked her to help him two months ago, yet he still hadn't perfected it, as she knew he one day would.

When the two entered the dark room, Hermione waved her wand lighting the candles on the walls. She set down her school bag and transfigured several of the desks into large fluffy pillows. With another swish of her wand, she'd sent the rest of the desks against the walls, making room for when the pair would eventually try to silently duel.

Severus’ eyes still widened each time Hermione performed her magic without making a sound, and each time she noticed his reaction, she'd feel the heat creep up her face.

“Where would you like to begin today,” she asked, almost sounding like a professor.

He raised an eyebrow at her, as a mischievous grin painted across his lips. “What would you say to a little friendly duel?”

Hermione smirked at him while shaking her head. He had yet to beat her in all the times they had done so.

“So I see you feel like getting your arse kicked this afternoon?” she taunted playfully.

When she turned around to take her cloak off, she shrieked, as she felt as if she were hooked around the ankle and whipped up into the air, where she dangled upside down.

“Severus Snape!” she shouted. Severus doubled over with laughter. “You are so done for,” she snarled through her teeth, which only caused him to laugh harder.

With a flick of his wand, he gently lowered her back down onto the ground, still unable to stop laughing at her. Her long black hair, which she always had charmed to be straight and tamed, was now wild around her face, and her robes had become disheveled. She knew she must have looked a sight, and she couldn't stop the giggle that came from her.

“Don't think because I'm laughing it means I'm not angry, Severus,” she tried to say with conviction, yet even sounded half-hearted in her own ears.

Severus rolled his eyes. “Sure you are, Hermione.”

She took advantage of his moment of distraction and silently sent a Leg Locking Curse his way. Now it was her turn to laugh when his eyes widened, and his legs went straight and stuck together. She completely lost it when he teetered for a second and then fell straight back onto one of the pillows she had transfigured.

A low growl came from him as he landed.

“Serves you right,” she said, then stuck her tongue out.

He wiggled back and forth, looking somewhat like a turtle on his back, before glaring up at her.

“Little help?” he snapped, looking a bit more like the man she knew in her youth, than the person she cared for now.

She covered her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter, when he glared up at her again.

“Hermione!”

Taking pity on him, she walked over and stuck her arm out to perform the counter curse. The moment she did, she yelped when he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her down on top of him.

Her heart pounded as her body was pressed against his so intimately for the first time. His eyes went from light and playful to dark and smoldering. She swallowed audibly and bit her lip when she suddenly felt her entire body heat up.

“You think you're funny, don't you?” he asked in a low baritone.

Hermione shivered. “Only a little,” she replied, sounding out of breath.

He let out a deep chuckle before wrapping both arms around her waist and crashing his lips onto hers. They've kissed a number of times before then, but now it had been different. Gone were the sweet and innocent kisses, now they were tangled together in a fit of passion that she could tell both of them had been holding back on.

She felt his tongue lightly graze her lips, and she opened up to join both of theirs together. His hands pulled at her hair, while she dug her fingers into his shoulders. She squeaked in surprise when he shifted from beneath her, flipping her onto her back and hovered above of her. They hadn't broken their kiss at any time.

While she raked her fingers down his back, she marveled at the feel of it. She'd expected bony, not ever imagining the lean muscles her hands ran across. She drank him in thirstily, as if he was the first bottle of water she had seen after months of roaming the desert. His scent surrounded her, and filled her up. The scent that was uniquely Severus, even in adulthood -- sandalwood and something almost earthy. Her head was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, as she felt his fingers travel beneath her jumper and lightly trace the bare skin at her sides. She wanted him to keep going, yet she knew they needed to stop, but if he didn't keep going she would surely combust.

When his mouth left hers and began trailing down her neck, gently grazing his teeth into her flesh, she came to her senses. This wasn't right. They were moving far too quickly. Although she'd more than wanted it to continue, they had to stop.

“Severus,” she panted.

He hummed softly, yet continued to kiss her neck.

“Severus,” she repeated, a little more forcefully this time, and gently pushed his shoulders.

When he looked down at her, his brow furrowed and a small pout tugged at his lips.

“I'm -- I'm sorry Hermione,” he said, also very winded. “We’re moving too fast, aren't we?”

She smiled up at him, hoping to reassure him that she wasn't angry, since she could sense from his expression and tone of voice that he was worrying.

Hermione placed her hand on his cheek and gave him a small peck on the mouth.

“It's not that I -- I don't,” her breath hitched. “want to. It's just that… well. Not yet.”

“You're not upset with me?” he asked.

Hermione’s eyes widened. “Of course not! I was hoping you weren't upset with me,” she admitted.

He shook his head. “Never.”

She was glad that he wasn't angry with her, as he rolled to his side, then pulled her closer, so her head was resting on his chest. His heart was beating a fast as hers, she noticed as she laid there.

“I would never make you do anything you weren't comfortable doing. You know that, right?” he asked, kissing the crown of her head.

Hermione’s heart swelled. He sounded so sincere in that moment. Severus never ceased to amaze her with how different he had been in his youth. If only she could keep him that way forever. Her eyes prickled with unshed tears at the thought of the broken and bitter man he would one day become. Knowing him beforehand made it even that much more heartbreaking. And knowing that she couldn't do anything to prevent the way his life would be headed was nearly too much for her to take.

“I do, Severus,” she choked out, her throat tight with emotion.

The two laid in that spot for nearly an hour, just talking. They spoke of their childhoods, which again touched Hermione, since he shared much more about his awful upbringing than he had previously. He spoke more in depth about how abusive his father was, to both he and his mother. She felt a strong hatred for that man, one to rival the hatred she had for Vernon and Petunia Dursely -- although she'd never admitted to Harry how much she despised his neglectful aunt and uncle.

He spoke of his hopes for the future, which saddened her when he tried to include her in some of those plans. Such as the traditional tour of the world that some students went on after leaving Hogwarts. The hope and wistful tone in his voice was nearly her undoing, as she fought the urge to cry.

She knew she'd never be able to embark on those travels with him, but for a small moment in time, she let herself pretend as the talked about where they wanted to go and all the sights they'd wanted to see. Perhaps if she succeeded in her mission they would be able to do it together one day. No, she thought to herself, when she succeeded, they would go one day.

**

A/N - Hi everyone! I just want to give a massive thank you, and tons of hugs to everyone who has been reading, reviewing, favoriting and showing so much love!! You're all the sweetest people in the world! *squish* I hope you all enjoyed the chapter, even though it was kinda filler-ish, but I was having fluffy Snamione feels when I wrote it haha. But thank you again!! Really, you're all the best!


8th December 1976

Hermione’s eyes were struggling to remain opened while she sat listening to Professor Crabtree. She'd been up too late the evening before, working in the Potion’s classroom with Severus, and afterwards only had around three full hours of sleep. It seemed the more she worked on her antivenin, and the closer she became to Severus, the more frequently she would have nightmares. The one she had the previous night had been particularly horrible, since it had been she reliving Severus’ last moments, for at least the dozenth time.

Yet this time it was very different. Instead of man-Severus, it was the Severus she had known now who was bleeding out in front of her. It was her Severus who gasped for air, while trying to gargle his last words to Hermione and her friends. It was her Severus whose eyes she looked into and watched the light slowly fade out of them. And it was her Severus whom she woke up shouting for, drenched in a cold sweat.

Her roommates hadn't heard her, of course. They never did. Hermione had taken to placing a silencing charm on the hangings around her bed each night since she'd first arrived to the past. She knew of the nightmares she had frequently, and didn't think it wise for Amelia and the other girls -- especially Rita -- to hear her thrashing and screaming in the middle of the night. Her addition to their dorm had already been strange enough without that happening as well.

Her eyes, which she hadn't realized closed, popped open when she heard a paper land in front of her. She looked up to see if Crabtree had noticed, but he had his back turned writing something on the blackboard, so she quickly grabbed it and unfolded it underneath her desk.

On it there was a crude, stick-figure drawing of a boy with shoulder length dark hair, who sat in a chair. She watched as his eyes transformed to X’s, then as he slumped over in his seat, before he faded off of the paper. In his place a tombstone formed with the words, ‘Here Lies Severus Snape. First Known Soul to Die of Boredom,’ appearing across it. It then turned back to the boy, and the cycle repeated itself.

Hermione snorted loudly, the room went completely silent, and all eyes -- except Severus’ -- fell upon her. She quickly coughed to mask her laughter, and after raising his eyebrows at her, Professor Crabtree continued on with his revision lesson. From the corner of her eye, she saw Severus’ shoulders shaking with silent laughter in the seat across and ahead of her.

Amelia nudged her. “What's that?” she whispered.

Hermione handed her the paper, and she too snorted, but much more discretely.

“How about that? He has a sense of humor,” she whispered again.

Hermione softly kicked her in the foot. “Oh quiet,” she said under her breath.

“Girls!” Crabtree, who normally had an easy going disposition, yelled at Hermione and Amelia with his arms folded across his chest.

As she sneaked a peek at Amelia, she saw her blush, and felt her face do the same.

“Sorry, Professor,” they said in unison.

Not wanting to get in any more trouble, Hermione worked extra hard to stay awake, and pay attention through the rest of their lesson.

After class had ended, Amelia chatted with Hermione briefly, making plans for the following afternoon, before saying a quick goodbye, since Severus was waiting to walk with her.

“Sorry about getting you into trouble,” he told her when they exited the room.

He was smirking, so she knew he hadn't been that sorry about it, regardless she smiled.

“It's alright, Severus. Your drawing was rather amusing,” she told him, then poked his side. “But I wouldn't consider art as a future occupation.”

Severus took her hand, which had become routine by now, and chuckled softly. “Damn, there goes my dreams of becoming the next Picasso,” he said dryly.

“Well hopefully it was a good dream while it lasted,” she teased.

He snorted quietly, then shook his head as he playfully bumped his shoulder into her.

“Alright, enough with the jokes about my abysmal drawing skills, we need to get some revision in before dinner.”

Hermione sighed. She already knew all of the information backwards and forwards, and probably could have recited in her sleep. It was bad enough sitting through each class the entire term, learning the same things she'd learned nearly two years ago -- for her. But revising it all again was almost torture. Especially when she had more important things she needed to work on. But Severus hadn't learned any of this before, so to keep up appearances, she had to agree and then they both made their way to the library.

Sat at their usual table in the back, the two were nearly an hour into their revisions when Severus looked up at her. She noticed his normal nervous ticks -- tugging at his sleeve and clearing his throat, which caused her to become anxious by proxy.

“Everything alright?” she asked.

He kept his gaze locked on his hands as he answered her. “Yes. Well, erm...no? I -- can I ask you something?”

Hermione gently closed the book she had opened and placed her quill on the table, giving him her full attention.

“Anything, Severus. You know that,” she told him with a warm smile.

She watched his Adam's apple bob before taking a breath. Her head cocked to the side; she was extraordinarily curious about what was making him appear so bothered.

“Hermione, you fancy me, correct?” he asked so quietly, it took her a minute to register what he said.

When it finally hit her, she couldn't help but to laugh. “I would think that's rather obvious, considering we’ve been snogging about the castle, Severus.”

His lips twitched upwards. “Good point,” he agreed. “Well, what I wanted to ask you was,” he hesitated for a moment, then looked right into her eyes. “Are we -- I mean. What is this?” he asked, pointing from her and back to himself.

His question somewhat surprised her, since she'd been sort of wondering the same. Clearly they were more than friends, however they really hadn't defined their relationship yet. Although, the more she thought about it, the more she realized they really hadn't needed to. But still, the first and only conversation they had regarding the two of them, up until that point, Hermione had made it clear to him that they weren't in a relationship, and that she'd wanted to take things slowly. And at this point, that seemed to not be enough for him any longer -- it wasn't enough for her any longer if she were being entirely truthful with herself. Without intending to, they had seemed to have crossed that line she had attempted to draw.

A slow smile painted her lips as she watched the lines crease on his forehead, while he waited for her to speak.

“This.” She pointed to herself and then him, just as he had done. “Is a relationship, Severus. As in the two of us are a couple.”

Nothing was said after that, and her pulse quickened when she realized his expression hadn't changed. Was she wrong?

“Isn't it?” she quickly added.

Slowly his posture began to relax, and the worry lines on his face smoothed out. Once again he had that look of wonder in his dark eyes, like she was an enigma he was trying to figure out.

“I would like it to be,” he finally said. “I'm not the type to just go snogging about the castle -- as you said -- with just anyone.”

Hermione laughed at Severus mimicking her voice when he repeated her words.

“Nor am I,” she tried to say through her giggles.

Severus full out smiled, and reached across the table for her hand.

“So I suppose that means I can officially call you my girlfriend now?” he asked with a light in his eyes.

Deep down she knew that this was a horrible decision. That nagging part of her brain that always forced her to think rationally and logically was shouting every warning imaginable at her. There were so many things wrong with her becoming so involved with him, but in the end her heart won out over her brain. She'd already unconsciously made the decision weeks ago. Severus made her happy. He was everything she never realized she needed or wanted in a partner. Once she'd broken down his walls, she had the opportunity to see the real Severus. And the real Severus was sweet, kind -- to her at least -- funny and the most intelligent person she had ever known. She couldn't have denied him if she tried.

“I suppose it does,” she responded softly, while giving his hand a squeeze.

The pure joy in his returning smile nearly knocked the wind from her.

***

17 December 1976

Over the course of the next week, Hermione and Severus hadn't had much of a chance to enjoy the beginnings of their new relationship, since exams were happening. They'd spent most of their free time reviewing their notes and textbooks together, or working on Hermione’s project. Even though she had already taken these exams, the compulsion to excel in everything she did took over, and she found herself exhausted, yet confident that she'd done well, by the time her last exam was finished on Friday afternoon.

“Thank Merlin those are finally over,” Severus said, as he and Hermione walked the corridors together. “Now we’ll finally have some time to ourselves.”

She squeaked when he pulled her by the wrist, and wrapped his arm around her waist, before bending down to kiss her right in the middle of all the students who were in the halls.

At first she was slightly alarmed, since it was the first time he had ever shown his affection for her so openly in front of the student body. But she tucked that away and let herself melt into his kiss, not caring who saw, or what they might have thought.

When he released her she swayed on the spot and felt a slow burn fill her cheeks. But besides a few people whistling, or telling them to get a room, no one really seemed to notice them. Hermione was a little embarrassed by the taunts and jokingly slapped his arm.

“What?” he asked with false innocence in his widened eyes.

Hermione snorted and shook her head, then continued her walk towards Ravenclaw tower. Severus quickly fell in step beside her once more.

“I wouldn't have pegged you for the public display of affection type of person,” Hermione told him.

Severus snaked his arm around her waist again as they walked, and he shrugged.

“Just making sure everyone is clear on the fact that you’re mine. Black could certainly take the hint,” he responded with a bit of venom in his voice.

Her eyes rolled. “Don't be silly, Severus. Sirius Black is no threat to us at all, and you should know that,” she scolded.

He mumbled something about ‘big shots’ and ‘thinks he so great,’ which Hermione chose to pretend not to hear. Yes, Sirius still came on a little too strongly with her, but she'd made it perfectly plain that she would have preferred to attempt snogging the Whomping Willow rather than him.

“Care to help me work on my project?” she asked in an effort to change the topic.

He frowned down at her, then let out a heavy sigh. “I thought we would take a break tonight, considering we've been working non-stop all week.”

Spending an evening with Severus not doing any work was very tempting, especially when he sounded as dejected as he did when she asked, but she couldn't let him distract her from something as important as the antivenin.

An idea struck her. Hopefully Amelia wouldn't end up too angry with her for cancelling the plans they had made for the following day.

“I'll make a deal with you,” she said. He raised an eyebrow in response. “Help me work on it tonight, and tomorrow you can have me -- work free -- the entire day.”

Compromise was a key component to a healthy relationship after all.

He mulled it over for a few seconds, before kissing the top of her head.

“Alright. You've got a deal,” he agreed.

She breathed out a sigh of relief, since she'd been itching to get to the Potion’s classroom all day. Hermione and Severus had a theory they'd come up with, and she'd been anxious to try out. If it proved to work, she couldn't afford to waste any time, and wanted to get to it right away.

Once again the evening found Hermione and Severus bent over a cauldron, but this time Hermione felt she had really made a giant leap forward. Nothing had exploded, turned to a tar-like substance or caught on fire. Nor did the mixture she had brewing fill the air with noxious fumes, causing each of them to place a Bubble Head Charm upon themselves. It was a positive sign.

The mixture of Unicorn Horn powder, Griffin Claw powder, Boom Berry juice and Nux Myristica was simmering over a low heat. After much research, she found that it would be best to let this portion stew for at least a month before adding the Jobberknoll parts. After which, she would let that sit for an additional week, before hopefully adding the Phoenix tears. If her and Severus’ calculations were correct, and between the two of them she was positive they were, then she would have the perfect antivenin. There was still only the issue on how to test it.

As she sat back on her stool, she began to think of how she could possibly do that. Perhaps she could manage to get some Acromantula venom, ingest that, then administer her potion? It wasn't the same as snake venom, but it was powerful and extremely rare. Not to mention every bit as lethal as she knew Nagini’s venom was. It was a long shot, but it was all she had at the moment.

“What's the matter, Hermione? You're a million miles away,” Severus asked, breaking into her thoughts.

She shook her head and gave him a smile. “Nothing. Just going through all the steps we went over in my head again,” she lied.

He nodded. “I think we’ve really got it this time,” he told her confidently. “They'll be so impressed, there won't be any way you don't get that apprenticeship.”

Severus looked so proud of her in that moment. She had never imagined he could look at her in that way.

If only it were that simple, she thought to herself. If only it were a mere matter of getting into that program or not. Obviously she still would have obsessed over her work if it had been, but not to the point she had been, when it's success meant the difference between Severus living or dying. She tried to push that thought away, too afraid that the anguish of it would clearly show on her face.

“You've been loads of help,” she said with a small crack in her voice.

Severus chuckled. “Well if I didn't, I wouldn't have seen you half as much.”

She blushed at his words and felt her heart squeeze. “Why do you think I asked for your help?” she admitted. It was part of the reason, after all.

He placed his finger across his bottom lip and pretended to be thinking. “Oh I don't know,” he said airily, “because I'm better at Potions than you are.”

Hermione cocked an eyebrow and laughed. She then sneakily flicked her wand under the desk, sending a very light Stinging Jinx at his leg, causing him to jump and nearly toppled from his seat.

He let out a small hiss as his hair fell all into his face, and he rubbed at the spot the spell had hit. Hermione laughed harder.

“That may be, but clearly you're not better at spells,” she taunted.

Severus stood from his seat with his hair still covering his face, and stalked over towards her. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“You don't scare me, Severus.”

He pushed the hair from his eyes and raised an eyebrow at her. A slow predatory smirk spread across his lips before he grabbed her around the waist, causing her to squeak in surprise, and tickled her unmercifully.

She squirmed off of her stool in an attempt to get away from him, but it was no use. He had too strong of a grip on her. Hermione pleaded for him to stop between giggles.

“This is what happens when you hurl jinxes at your innocent boyfriend, Hermione,” he said playfully as his fingers continued their assault on her sides.

Again she felt her entire body burn for Severus as the two play fought. He sparked a need in her that she hadn't ever felt with any other boy. She panted, begged for him to let up, and laughed, then figured a way to make him stop. Hermione threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down into a kiss. He immediately stopped his attack, then pulled her tightly against him and snogged her back with as much heat and passion as she felt in that moment.

Then just ask quickly as she drew him to her, she pushed him away and stepped back.

“I - I give up. You wi - win,” she huffed, then placed a soft peck on his cheek.

Severus gave her a smug smile in return and the two walked back to the desk together.

“If that's how you get me to stop, I may have to attack you more often,” he teased as they both sat down.

Hermione narrowed her eyes. “Next time I may not be as nice, and may stop you with another Stinging Jinx. And trust me, next time it won't be in the leg,” she responded in a sugar coated voice.

His eyebrows raised and a low chuckle escaped him.

“We should probably clean up and get out of here before Slughorn catches us not working again,” said Severus, who was still smiling.

Hermione nodded and couldn't help but to think how happy Severus had been for the last few weeks. It warmed her heart to see him that way, and it made her even happier to know that she was partly the reason for it. Perhaps that was exactly what he needed in his life -- a little happiness, and someone to show him kindness. She desperately hoped that her presence there was helping her achieve her goal in showing him that his life was worth it.

“What are you so smiley about?” He asked with a laugh.

She turned from her bag she was putting her belongings into and looked right into his eyes. “You,” she responded truthfully.

He appeared a bit taken aback at first, almost like he couldn't believe that he could possibly make anyone happy. His brow furrowed before it softened out and his lips tugged upwards. He got up from his seat, walked over to her, then wrapped his arms around her tightly.

“I don't know what I've done to deserve you, but I'm glad I have you,” he whispered into her hair.

She felt her throat tighten. “I'm glad too, Severus. I always will be. Remember that. No matter what, always remember that.”

Severus kissed her forehead. “I’ll try.”


18th December 1976

Saturday morning Hermione was getting dressed and ready with Amelia in their dormitory. It was their final Hogsmeade trip before the holidays, since most of the students would be leaving that Thursday. Severus -- who was fooling no one -- casually told Hermione the evening before to go on without him to the village, and that he'd catch up with her later on in the day. She assumed he was most likely planning on getting her something for Christmas, otherwise she couldn't think of another reason he'd go alone. Although she'd miss him, she was happy to have a chance to spend time with Amelia outside of Ravenclaw tower. Between Hermione spending time with Severus, and Amelia spending time with Remus, the two girls hadn't had much time for one another lately.

When they arrived to The Great Hall to have breakfast before the long walk down, Hermione was surprised to find Severus missing from the Slytherin table. She was hoping to have a chance to at least see him before they parted ways for the day, and felt herself deflate just a bit at his absence. Regardless, she plastered a fake smile on her face as she sat down with her housemates.

“Ditching the boyfriend for us today?” Edgar asked brightly across from her.

Hermione shook her head and laughed quietly. “He ditched me, is more like it.”

“Well we’re glad you're coming with us today. We’ve missed hanging ‘round with you,” said Edgar before taking a bite of his toast.

While Hermione filled her plate and poured herself some coffee, Amelia, Edgar, Otto and Sturgis began discussing where they wanted to go first when they got to Hogsmeade. Amelia was persistent in trying to convince Edgar that getting presents for their family was the number one priority, while the boys all whined that they wanted to stock up on sweets from Honeydukes first.

“We’ll let Hermione decide,” said Otto. “What do you reckon? Presents or sweets?”

Amelia’s eyes silently pleaded with Hermione, while the boys all gave her the most pathetic pouts and puppy dog eyes they could manage. She let out a laugh before she answered.

“It's probably best that you get presents for your families, before you spend all of your money on sugar,” she told them.

The boys all groaned while Amelia smiled smugly.

“Priorities, boys,” Amelia scolded playfully.

The walk down to Hogsmeade was miserable. The wind gusted around them and their faces were cold and wet due to the freezing rain. They walked quickly and without much conversation, due to the fact that each time one of them tried to speak, they're lips chattered so badly you could hardly make out the words.

When they finally arrived to the village, instead of shopping, the group hurried their way into The Three Broomsticks for some Butterbeer to warm themselves up, before looking for Christmas presents. Hermione wanted to pick something up for Professor Dumbledore, not because she was posing as his niece and would be expected to, but because she truly wanted to give him a little token to show her appreciation for all of his help and kindness while she had been in the past.

Due to the harsh weather, the pub was basically empty when Hermione and her friends sat down inside. Just a handful of other students were scattered around, and Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were chatting a few tables away.

Hermione choked on a suppressed laugh when Edgar and Otto sat up a bit straighter, and puffed out their chests as Madam Rosmerta walked over to their table with a quill and pad. It was so busy the last time Hermione had been there, she hadn't had the chance to see Rosmerta, even though she'd promised the barmaid that she would visit with her the next time she would be in Hogsmeade, after their first meeting in the summer.

After Rosmerta took orders from Amelia and Sturgis, her eyes fell onto Hermione and filled with recognition.

“Hermione!” she greeted with a warm smile. “I hardly recognized you with the black hair! And it's so long now, too.”

Hermione’s face went red. She'd forgotten that Rosmerta had seen her before she changed her hair color and straightened it. Her friends all looked at her with obvious questions in their eyes.

“Oh yeah...erm. New school, new look, I thought,” she lied miserably.

“Well it's very becoming on you, dear. Now what can I get you?”

Hermione quickly ordered a Butterbeer and waited while the rest of her friends placed their orders.

“What was that about?” Amelia asked once Rosmerta had left.

All of the lies and deceit were starting to wear on Hermione. Her shoulders slouched.

“I was here early in the day on the first day of term. When Rosmerta first met me, I'd had blonde hair, but didn't think it suited me much, so I changed it back to black,” she lied with a shrug.

“Hmm…can't really picture you as a blonde,” said Otto as he pulled a snitch from his pocket and began to play with it.

“Yeah, I like your hair now,” Sturgis said quietly then blushed.

As she thanked Sturgis, she couldn't help but to notice that Amelia was looking at her strangely. Almost like she didn't buy the story Hermione had just told them. If she did or not, she didn't voice her suspicions out loud, and the topic was immediately changed to their plans for the holiday break.

After their glasses were emptied, and they were properly warmed once more, the group decided to leave the pub and begin their shopping. Hermione called over a goodbye to Rosmerta as they left, and she wished Hermione a Happy Christmas, then told her to tell her uncle the same.

Even though Hermione laughed and had a good time with her friends, she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that snaked its way around her chest. She was getting a strange vibe from Amelia as they walked through Hogsmeade. As they visited different shoppes, she noticed Amelia occasionally glancing at Hermione from the side of her eye, or speaking to her a little more cautiously than she ever had done before. Perhaps she was just imagining it? She wasn't positive, but something just felt off.

Hermione didn't know what Amelia and Remus really spoke about when they were alone together, but the fact that Remus had seen her Time-Travel book, and now Amelia heard about Hermione changing her appearance right before the students arrived to Hogwarts did not sit right with her. She very much hoped he didn't tell her about the book, and that Amelia wouldn't read too much into the comment Rosmerta made about her hair.

However, her anxiety about the situation eventually faded the longer they were out. Amelia’s behavior slowly changed throughout the course of the day, and by mid afternoon, she was back to treating Hermione the same as before the incident in The Three Broomsticks. Which Hermione was grateful for, but not sure if it was genuine.

Later on, Hermione tucked her worry away, and smiled as she walked down the streets of Hogsmeade with her friends. She'd found the most curious pocketwatch in one of the last places they'd visited. It had twelve hands, and instead of numbers, there were tiny planets that rotated along the edge. She wasn't quite sure how one would tell time with it, but it seemed just the type of thing that Professor Dumbledore would like, and perhaps understand.

As the group decided to head back to the school, Hermione frowned realizing she hadn't seen Severus at all during her trip to the village. She began to worry slightly, hoping that he hadn't had another run in with Malfoy, or any of the other Death Eaters. Maybe when she got back to Hogwarts, instead of going back to Ravenclaw tower, she would check the library to see if Severus was there waiting for her to return.

When they arrived back to the castle, there were still a couple of hours before dinner, so Hermione said a quick goodbye to her friends and thanked them for the fun time she'd had that morning and afternoon. She received a few light-hearted jabs regarding Severus, since they knew that's where she was headed, but nothing that would have caused her to become angry.

Hermione worried about Amelia, as she walked through the corridors. She'd really taken to the girl, since she'd been in the past, and truly considered her to be a good friend. The last thing she wanted was for Amelia not to trust her, even though she was technically keeping things from her. Hopefully over the holiday break Amelia would forget what happened, and everything would go back to normal once everyone returned.

“Hermione?” a soft voice stopped Hermione in her tracks. What could she possibly want, she wondered.

Lily Evans stepped out from around a corner and began walking towards Hermione. Her expression wasn't exactly unfriendly, but nowhere near as warm as the first few encounters Hermione had had with her.

“Lily,” she responded coolly.

It seemed Lily was in no mood for pleasantries and cut right to the chase.

“You're dating Severus.” It wasn't a question.

Hermione felt a small amount of irritation bubble up inside her as she rolled her eyes.

“Yes,” she responded with a raised eyebrow.

Lily nodded, but did not follow up. Hermione was in no mood for this conversation and started walking down the hall again. Unfortunately, Lily fell in step beside her.

“He seems quite taken with you,” Lily mused aloud.

Hermione hummed quietly in agreement.

Where is she going with this? Hermione thought to herself.

They walked in silence for several paces. Hermione was extraordinarily uncomfortable, not to mention a touch annoyed. Why was Lily so interested in Severus’ personal life. She was the one who ended their friendship, or whatever it was.

Nothing could have prepared Hermione for what Lily said next.

“Hermione, don't...just don't hurt him,” she told her firmly.

Hermione stopped suddenly. A strong surge of anger ripped through her.

“I'm sorry?” she asked in a rough whisper.

Lily turned around to face her. She spoke more loudly this time. “Don't hurt him,” she repeated.

Out of all the asinine things that Lily Evans could have said to Hermione. She had the audacity to tell Hermione not to hurt Severus?

“That's what I thought you said,” Hermione said.

The girls stared down one another, neither one letting themselves be the first to break eye contact. Hermione couldn't believe what was actually happening. She was livid. Finally, she spoke.

“You're telling me not to hurt him? That's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think?” she spat.

Lily’s eyes narrowed before she whipped around, turning her back on Hermione.

“You have - you don't know - you have no right, Hermione. You weren't there! You have no idea how I felt when he - when he…”

Hearing the obvious pain in Lily’s voice caused Hermione’s anger to deflate just a bit. She wasn't being entirely fair. Severus did say a horrible thing to Lily. Not unforgivable, but most definitely terrible.

Hermione’s posture relaxed as she hung her head.

“You're right, I wasn't. I'm sorry. I can't imagine how you must have felt,” Hermione began. “But, even though we've never spoken about it, I know how badly he felt as well.”

Lily snorted, with her back still turned towards Hermione.

“People make mistakes, Lily. I'm not excusing what was said, but to just cut someone you cared about out of your life for one mistake...I could never do it,” she told her.

Hermione heard a soft sniffle come from Lily. She wanted to comfort the girl, but a part of her knew it wouldn't have been welcomed.

“I can't, Hermione. I'm sorry. I still care about him, but I can never forgive him. We’re just too different now. Everything is different now,” Lily admitted, in a voice thick with emotion.

She didn't know what else to say. If Lily did not wish to make up with Severus, Hermione was not going to push the issue. Admittedly, a part of her reasoning was purely selfish. There was a strong part of her that feared if Lily were to forgive him, that she'd run the possibility of losing Severus to her, and Hermione wasn't going to take that chance.

“Do whatever is best for you then, I suppose,” said Hermione.

She watched Lily’s head bob in response. “Just please, be good to him.”

That small flash of anger resurfaced.

I’ll never hurt him, Lily.” The, like you have was left unspoken, but clearly hung in the air between them.

“Good on you then,” Lily hissed, then quickly walked away, leaving Hermione alone in the corridor.

Or so she thought.

When she turned around, she came face to face with a very pale, and very stunned looking Severus Snape.

Hermione’s heart sped up at the sight of his opened mouth and narrowed eyes.

“Severus!” she exclaimed.

When she took a step towards him, he immediately took a step back from her. Her blood went cold.

“Severus?” she repeated meekly.

Hermione began to panic. How much had he seen? How much had he heard?

He remained silent. All he did was slowly shake his head before he turned on the spot and walked away from her.

Her voice died in her throat as she tried to call out to him. It was cracked and dry.

It took her a moment to register what happened. Before he got too far from her, Hermione hurried after him.

“Severus, wait! Please!”

This was bad. She knew that this was very bad. As far as Severus knew, Hermione didn't know any of the history between he and Lily. Hermione had never brought it up, because she knew it was a sensitive subject for him. She knew that he was most likely angry and ashamed that she did know what happened. But why was he running away from her?

She watched his robes swish around a corner, and she started to run to catch up. He couldn't be left to dwell on this, because when Severus dwelled on something, it always became much more of an issue than it needed to be. She had to catch him.

“Please, Severus! Talk to me!”

When she turned the corner her heart sank. He was nowhere in sight. She felt her throat tighten as her eyes started to water.

Everything had been going so well with them lately, and now because Lily had to stick her nose where it didn't belong, she could have potentially ruined everything. Never in her life did she imagine that she could feel such animosity for Lily Evans, but in that moment, the girl was one of her least favorite people in the world. If she saw her then, she just might have slapped her.

Realizing that there was no use standing in the middle of the hall crying, Hermione returned to her dormitory in a daze. When she walked into the common room, it was filled with students, her friends all in front of the fireplace.

They called out hello to her, and questioned what she was doing, since normally she'd be out in the castle with Severus. Feebly she lied, saying she wasn't feeling well, most likely due to the weather earlier in the day, and that she was heading to bed early without dinner.

Slowly she dragged her feet up the steps to her dorm feeling an ache in her chest that she hadn't felt in quite some time. It was reminiscent to when she witnessed Ron and Lavender snogging for the first time in the middle of the the Gryffindor common room, but much stronger. It was almost like there was a Hippogriff sitting on her chest, making it difficult to breathe properly.

Hermione slumped onto her bed once inside her dormitory. She was exhausted from the long day in the village, drained from her conversation with Lily, and heartsick over what it might have meant for her and Severus.

Not long after Hermione fell onto her bed did she hear the door open, and footsteps come across the room. She quickly wiped off the tears that had fallen from her cheeks and turned onto her side, away from whomever just had come into the room.

“Hermione, is everything alright?” Amelia asked.

With a shuddering breath, Hermione gently shook her head. She felt her bed shift as Amelia sat down next to her.

“What happened?”

Hermione explained to Amelia her conversation with Lily. Which Amelia agreed that Lily was out of line telling Hermione not to hurt Severus. And when she told her about Severus overhearing them, and running from Hermione, she placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Oh, Hermione. I'm sorry.” she said, and truly sounded like she meant it. “He didn't know that you knew about the whole situation, right?”

“He never brought it up, so neither did I.”

Amelia began stroking Hermione’s hair, the way a mother would in an attempt to sooth their child.

“Just give him a bit of time. He's probably just ashamed of himself, and maybe fears that you'll think differently of him.”

Hermione shrugged. Fresh tears streamed from her eyes.

“But why wouldn't he stop when I called?”

“I don't know. But I don't think that you'll lose him over this. I've seen the way he looks at you. That boy is mental over you,” Amelia reassured her.

“Merlin, I hope I don't.”

Hermione cried silently while Amelia sat with her, and continued combing through her hair. She was so grateful for her friend in that moment, and was glad that she had someone to voice her fears to.

Even though what Amelia said was probably true, Hermione couldn't help but to still worry.

Would he stop seeing her over this? He wouldn't possibly want to break it off because of Lily, would he? For once the thoughts of any implications about the future did not cross her mind. All she thought of was how she couldn't have lost Severus. He meant too much to her. She cared too much about him. She...she loved him.



21st December 1976

For the next two days Severus completely avoided Hermione. He hadn't been in The Great Hall during meal times, he didn't visit the library, he never showed up to the Potions classroom, and she hadn't spotted him in the corridors, or any other part of the castle. Monday evening, in a moment of pure desperation, she even decided to try the Room of Requirement, not entirely sure if he knew about the room or not. After searching for over an hour with no result, she finally gave up and left. She was crushed.

By Tuesday afternoon, she was finished waiting and decided that she would write to him. She was sitting by herself in the common room, with only several younger students there as well, while the rest of her friends were out wandering the castle. Hermione summoned some parchment, a quill and a bottle of ink, and began to write.

Severus
I do not understand what is going on.
Why are you avoiding me? Will you
meet with me in the abandoned
classroom we use to practice in, on the
first floor? I'll be there waiting for you.

Please, Severus. Don't ignore me
any longer. We need to talk.

Yours,
Hermione xx

After leaving the Owlry, she headed directly to the empty classroom. Waving her wand, she lit some lights, then summoned a pillow to sit down on. Time went on and on, and Severus was still nowhere in sight. Her eyes started to water, and not before long, Hermione had her face cradled in the palms of her hands while she cried.

She worried about him. Not only because of him not speaking to her, but she also worried about his wellbeing. The fact that she hadn't seen him the entire day that she was in Hogsmeade still nagged at the back her mind. The defeated and angry expression on his bone-white face, after he'd overheard her conversation with Lily formed behind her closed eyes.

The door opened, yet Hermione did not hear it, nor did she hear his footsteps over her sobs. When she felt his hand on her shoulder -- even without looking, she knew it was his -- her entire body froze.

“S-Severus?” she hiccoughed.

He removed his hand from her, and she heard him take a step away.

“Hi,” he said lamely.

Just hearing his voice again seemed to fill her with an energy she hadn't even realized she was lacking the past few days. She quickly wiped her face and stood up from the floor. Severus was looking down, twisting his fingers around one another.

Hermione didn't care if he was angry. She didn't care if he hadn't spoken to her. All she cared about in that moment was feeling the warmth of his body. Without any hesitation, she lunged forward and wrapped her arms around him, squeezing him so tightly that both of them staggered.

It took several seconds, but tentatively, he put his arms around her, and returned her hug. Then suddenly she pulled away, and looked up into his hesitant black eyes.

“Severus, where have you been? Why have you been avoiding me? Do you realize that I've been-”

Hermione’s rapid bombardment of questions was cut off when he placed his index finger on her lips.

He sighed heavily then took her hand.

“Let's sit,” he suggested, before pulling out his wand and sending a pillow to land opposite the one Hermione had just vacated.

Even in that tense moment, Hermione was impressed to see how far his non-verbal magic had come from when they first began practicing together.

Once seated, she watched him carefully. It had only been a few days, but he looked different. His normally pale face seemed to lack even more color, which she wouldn't have thought possible. The dark circles around his eyes only accentuated the whiteness of his skin. His hair was extra stringy, and his clothing looked wrinkled, almost like he hadn't changed in some time. She felt an ache in her chest at the sight of him.

“Severus…” she breathed out. “Are you alright?”

Avoiding her gaze, he shrugged.

“I -- I don't know how much you overheard the other evening, but...but Severus, I don't care what happened in the past.” She started speaking rapidly once more. “You made a mistake. People make mistakes all the time, and it's alright.”

She stopped, due to the fire she saw in his eyes, as his head snapped up at the word ‘alright’.

“It's alright?” he repeated in a chilling whisper.

Hermione flinched.

“Well, no. I mean, yes. What I've meant to say was, making a mistake is alright. Not what you said, perhaps-”

He snorted angrily. His nostrils flared.

“I called my best friend a Mudblood, Hermione. If you were Muggle-born, I'd hardly think you'd feel the same way. That it's alright,” he sneered.

Hermione unconsciously cupped her left forearm with her hand, as her mouth popped open to speak the words which would have contradicted what he'd just said. She'd never been closer than she was in that moment to telling him the truth. If only she could have told him what she was… But considering she was posing as the niece of their Pureblood headmaster, it wasn't an option.

“I'm sure I would,” she mumbled obstinately.

Severus rolled his eyes. “I highly doubt that.”

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest. “Doubt it all you want to, Severus, but that doesn't make it any less true.”

“How could you possibly know how you would feel, Hermione?” he spat with an ugly twist to his face. “You come from a family of wizards. You couldn't know what it would be like to hear that word as a Muggle-born.”

A wave of anger heated Hermione’s blood. Of course she knew how it felt. Not only had she been called a Mudblood, it was permanently carved into her flesh!

She inched her pillow closer to him.

“Severus Snape, I want you to listen to me, and listen to me right now,” she spoke in a low, firm voice. “What happened between you and Lily Evans is none of my concern. I was not in this school when it happened and I do not, even for a moment, believe that you are the kind of person who holds the types of views that others who use that word do.”

He snorted. “And yet the word fell from my lips. It's thrown around in my common room daily, and I say nothing to stop it. I'm no different than those who do hold those views. Being complacent is just as bad as guilty...perhaps worse.”

“I'm sure you do what you have to in order to get by in Slytherin,” she said. She didn't agree with it, but she understood. Especially with that group of Slytherins -- most of them would go on to become Death Eaters.

He grunted noncommittally while turning his head from her.

Hermione extended her arm to reach for his hand, yet the moment her fingertips brushed against his, he quickly pulled away. She tried to ignore the lump that grew again in her throat.

“I've had the opportunity to get to know you over the course of the last few months, and my opinion of you, or how I feel about you has not changed one bit. I'm sorry that your old friend will not forgive you, but I am not her.”

No response.

“Severus, really, this is just silly at this point. So I suggest you quit sulking and quit avoiding me”

He didn't answer her right away. His shoulders slumped and he exhaled deeply. When he finally looked up and locked eyes with her, she felt slightly better when she saw them soften just a hair.

“I'm not sulking,” he denied with a small pout.

The contrast between his expression and his words caused Hermione to burst out laughing.

“Of course you're not,” she giggled.

The corners of Severus’ lips twitched as he fought a smile. “Insufferable,” he grumbled.

“Severus, I mean this. I'm not going anywhere…” she said, although an unspoken yet sounded off in her mind, which she chose to disregard for the moment.

Slowly he shook his head as he looked into her eyes. “You're so...unlike anyone else I've ever met, Hermione,” he told her in a voice barely above a whisper.

A small flash of heat filled her cheeks due to his words. She could feel that the tension between them was dissipating.

“I just believe that communication is vital to a healthy relationship. If we don't speak, we can't fix what's wrong.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose.”

“You still haven't answered me, Severus…are you through hiding from me now?” she asked.

She watched him chew his bottom lip, and waited for him to respond. Several seconds went by and then he nodded.

“Good.” She smiled.

Unable to control herself any longer, Hermione leaned forward and locked her arms around his neck, before pressing her lips against his with more force than she intended. While they kissed, Severus pulled Hermione onto his lap and held her tightly to his chest. There was an edge of desperation to his kiss, she noticed. Almost like they had gone months without one another, as opposed to a few days.

When they broke apart for air, Hermione cupped his cheek in her palm. “I've missed you. Don't ever do that to me again,” she pleaded.

Severus wrapped his hand around her fingers, before leaning down to rest his forehead on hers.

“I'm sorry, Hermione,” he whispered against her lips, before kissing her once more.

“It's alright, Severus,” she said. “Please promise me, if something like this happens again, that you'll talk to me about it.”

A small crease formed between his eyebrows as he looked away.

“I won't avoid you again,” he promised.

Hermione hoped that another situation like this would not occur again, but if it did, she felt assured that he would at least speak with her, instead of hiding himself away for days.

After leaving the classroom shortly after, they walked together to the Great Hall, hand in hand. Although they had settled everything, something else was still bothering her.

“Where were you Saturday before…” she trailed off, not wanting to bring up the Lily incident again.

She noticed his posture stiffen briefly before he answered.

“Shopping,” he responded immediately, then gave her a half-smile.

Hermione smiled back, even though she had an uncomfortable feeling that he was not giving her the entire truth. The tone of his voice was off and he appeared to be deliberately avoiding eye contact. As she opened her mouth to interrogate him further, something inside of her forced her to stop. Severus was not one to handle being cornered very well and she assumed that if it were something important, he would eventually come to tell her on his own. And there was always the possibility that it was nothing more than just Christmas shopping -- although her gut told her it was probably something other than that.

As they rounded the corner to the Entrance Hall they came to a sudden stop, just nearly avoiding a collision with the Headmaster.

“Ah, Hermione. Mister Snape,” he said to them like he'd been expecting their arrival.

Dumbledore’s eyes briefly traveled to their interlocked hands. A small frown formed on his lips, before immediately replacing it with the smile he greeted them with.

“Professor.” Severus nodded.

Dumbledore fixed his eyes on Hermione.

“How serendipitous. I intended to request a brief meeting with you in my office after dinner, Hermione. There are some matters in which I wish to discuss with you,” he said lightly.

Surprise quickly jolted through her body, she hadn't requested to see him, and she could only remember one other time he had called for her. That was to discuss the progress being made with the Time-Turner. Yet she attempted to hide it by keeping her face friendly and her tone of voice steady.

“Of course,” she agreed, hoping he had good news.

He quickly looked down at their hands once more before speaking again.

“Wonderful. Shall we say, seven o'clock?”

Hermione nodded. “That would be perfectly fine, sir.”

Dumbledore said his goodbyes to each of them, while Hermione and Severus stayed in the corridor.

“What do you reckon he wants to talk about?” Severus asked the moment Dumbledore was out of earshot.

Honestly Hermione had no idea. She knew what she hoped for, but she wasn't entirely sure. Something about the way he kept looking at their joint hands did not sit right with her.

She shrugged. “No idea, actually.”

When dinner was finished Severus walked with Hermione to the entrance of Dumbledore’s office. Hermione gave the stone gargoyle the password and waited for the spiral steps to appear.

“I don't know how long I'll be,” she said turning back to Severus.

“It's alright. I'll come back in an hour?”

He looked disappointed, and truth be told, so was she. They'd spent days apart from one another, the longest they'd been apart since they had begun their relationship, and she was hoping that they could have had the evening together.

“I'll wait for you. If you arrive, and I'm not here, then I'm still in his office,” she said.

The gargoyle huffed impatiently behind her.

“Well? Are you going up or not?” it grumbled at her.

Hermione rolled her eyes and glared at it over her shoulder.

“In a minute. Why? Do you have somewhere you need to be?” she snapped at it.

Severus chuckled softly as she turned back towards him and stood up on her toes to give him a kiss.

“See you soon,” she said, then walked to the stairs.

“Finally,” the gargoyle hissed under its breath.

“Oh shut up,” she whispered while the stairs began to rise.

When she entered Dumbledore’s office, he was sat in his usual spot, behind his desk.

“Have a seat, Miss Granger,” he said, not unkindly, but lacking the lightness to his usual jovial tone.

Her anxiety started to climb as she sat in the same armchair she normally used during her meetings with the headmaster.

Hermione looked up at Dumbledore. He reached for a small dish filled with little brown candies.

“Toffee?” he asked.

“No thank you, sir.”

The question of if wizards could possible get diabetes crossed her mind, considering the amount of candies Professor Dumbledore seemed to consume.

After setting the dish back down, he folded his hands on top of his desk and looked down at her through his half-moon glasses.

“You have been spending quite a great deal of time with Severus Snape, I have noticed,” he said without anymore preamble.

Hermione felt a wave a shock race through her. She wasn't quiet expecting the conversation to head that way, but after their brief conversation in the corridor earlier, she shouldn't have been surprised.

“Yes, Professor. I really should not go into any details, considering…” she trailed off, but knew Dumbledore would understand.

He nodded. “Considering,” he repeated quietly.

After several seconds of silence, he spoke again.

“Miss Granger, please forgive me if I am out of line, but am I correct to assume that you have begun a romantic relationship with the boy?” he asked, his eyes seeming as if they were looking into her very soul.

She knew she couldn't lie. Her heart pounded.

“Yes, sir,” she admitted in a small voice.

His lips formed a line to rival Professor McGonagall’s. Hermione suddenly felt ashamed, since she knew why he looked so disappointed. Anything that he was about to say to her wouldn't have been anything different than the thousands of doubts and thoughts she already had run through her mind, from the moment she decided to choose him over the dangers their relationship could potentially cause.

He leaned back in his chair and regarded her carefully over the top of his glasses.

“Miss Granger, do you believe it to be wise to involve yourself with him in such a manner, considering your...unorthodox situation?” he asked in an even tone.

Hermione suddenly felt like a small child being scolded for being caught with her hand in a tin of biscuits before supper.

“Probably not, sir,” she mumbled with her eyes cast to the ground.

It wasn't wise, she knew that was true. But that didn't mean that she'd stop. The thought of cutting Severus out of her life was too painful, she knew as much from the few days they'd spent apart from one another. Severus Snape had slowly carved a spot out for himself in her heart, and a part of her felt that perhaps it was meant to happen. That she was sent back in time to show him love. Wasn't that what Dumbledore always championed? The power of love, and how it could overcome even the darkest situations.

She straightened her back and lifted her eyes from the ground.

“It may not be wise, sir. However, that doesn't mean that it may not be right.”

“Miss Granger-” he began. Hermione held up a hand to stop him.

“Please, sir. Obviously you have sent me here for a reason. Neither the present you, nor myself are entirely sure of what that reason is. I had only anticipated traveling back hours, not years.”

She heard his sharp intake of breath, as it was the first time she had given him that information.

“Perhaps this is part of it. Maybe this was meant to happen, or already happened in the time I had come from. I can't explain it, sir, but whatever this is, it feels right. I've been studying Time-Travel these last few months, and I've read that if a person has been sent back to a specific time, that they should follow their instincts. And, sir. That is exactly what I am doing.”

Professor Dumbledore remained silent after her speech. He looked down and away from her, appearing to be in deep thought. She stayed sitting straight in her seat and waited patiently for him to speak.

“Your circumstance are unusual,” he finally said. “And I do wish that I had given myself more information as to the reasoning behind your visit. I do not agree with your decision, Miss Granger. However, I will not stop you. I do only ask that you reconsider and think this through more thoroughly,” he said with a piercing look.

She already had thought it through. Many, many times. Regardless, she agreed that she would to placate the man. Yet, he did not look convinced or relieved by her promise.

Before he dismissed her from his office, he let her know of his progress regarding the Time-Turner. Things had been going well, and he was hopeful that she would definitely be able to return to her own time, which was what caused his concern about her relationship with one of his students from this time period, he told her.

When she left his office, for the first time, the news of returning home caused her a slight pain of sadness.

Her meeting hadn't lasted as long as she assumed it would, so when she reached the bottom of the spiral staircase, she was alone. Severus wouldn't be there to meet her for another ten minutes or so. She spotted a bench across the hallway and decided to wait for him, as she said she would.

About five minutes passed and her head whipped up after she heard footsteps coming down the corridor. Yet when she lit her wand, she couldn't see anyone at all. Alarm started to creep in as the footsteps grew louder, still with no one in sight. Then suddenly she heard them right in front of her, accompanied by someone breathing and the stench of stale alcohol. Her entire body went cold.

“Ah, Hermione,” a rough voice purred through the darkness.



A/N-*This chapter deals with some minor sexual assault and moderate violence. If that is something you are not comfortable reading, I would suggest scrolling down to where the date changes to the 22nd of December. There are only brief mentions of the assault after that, but does not go into detail.*


21st December 1976

The voice was familiar. It was more hoarse than she was used to, and there was a distinct slur to it from alcohol, but she was positive she knew who it was. Hermione grasped her wand firmly and pointed it in the direction of the disembodied voice.

“What are you doing, Sirius?” she hissed. “And could you please show yourself? It's a little disconcerting speaking to someone who is invisible.”

Sirius fumbled with the Invisibility Cloak, she caught his trainers in front of her a few times, before the rest of his body made an appearance. Her eyes rested on the nearly empty bottle of Firewhiskey he held in his hand. He gave her a lopsided grin before lifting the bottle to his lips to take a drink.

“You could get in serious trouble for that, you know,” she snapped at him.

He let out a loud laugh. “Serious trouble,” he repeated, then stumbled a bit.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I am in no mood to deal with you while you're in this state.” She stood from her seat and glared at him.

His hair was completely disheveled, his shirt was buttoned incorrectly and inside out. She had a feeling that he was up to no good with someone, before she had the misfortune of running into him.

“Goodnight, Sirius,” she said with a sad shake of her head, then turned to walk away.

Barely making it two steps, she yelped when he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her entirely too close to him.

“What in the name of Merlin do you think you're doing!” she shouted and tried to pull her arm from his vice-like grip.

The smell coming from him was nauseating. There was nothing worse than the bitter smell of alcohol on someone’s breath.

“Pipe down, Devereux.” He laughed loudly again, clearly unconcerned with being caught completely pissed with the evidence still in his hand.

His hold on her was too tight, and regardless of who he was, she was still entirely too uncomfortable being so alone with someone so drunk, who had made his feelings about her clear on numerous occasions.

“Sirius, maybe you should go see Madam Pomfrey. You know she doesn't ask too many questions. Get something to sober up,” she tried to convince him. A noticeable quiver was present in her voice.

“Nah, I reckon I'm fine just where I am.” His smile frightened her. It was always predatory.

Her gut was telling her to run, but her head was trying to make sense of the situation. She refused to believe that the man she knew would be the type to corner a girl they fancied in a dark corridor, alone, while he was inebriated. The same man who lived off of rats in a cave for nearly a year, just so he could be nearby to protect his godson. The same man who escaped Azkaban, and was on the run while he hunted down the traitor who led to the deaths of his best friends. The same man who was locked up in his childhood home, with the ghosts of abuse and torment lurking in each corner, just so he could help bring down the tyrant who murdered his friends, and wanted to destroy his godson -- his only family.

But when she looked into the youthful grey eyes of the Sirius Black who stood before her, it was a painful reminder that he was not that man at this time. Now he was a sixteen year old boy, who had just run away from home, and had mountains of baggage and unresolved trauma from years of living with parents who treated him worse than a house elf. He was troubled. And in that moment, he was trouble.

“Sirius, I -”

“Why Snivelly?” he interrupted and pulled her body against his. The stench coming from him made her eyes water.

Her eyes narrowed as anger bubbled in her chest. “That's none of your concern.”

Sirius laughed again, the whole thing seemed amusing to him. He placed his finger under her chin and tilted her head back.

“Well, perhaps I can make you see sense.”

Hermione knew what he was about to do, and should have stopped it, but fear and shock that he would actually be so bold froze her.

He leaned down and kissed her sloppily. Between the sour taste from the Firewhiskey, and the disgusting amount of saliva, she gagged and shoved him back hard.

“How dare you!” she screamed, then jumped due to the shout of pure rage she heard coming from behind her.

Before she could even register what was happening, she saw a fist collide with an audible crunch to Sirius’ nose.

“Severus, no!” Hermione shouted with an attempt at grabbing his robes, but it was no use.

Sirius fell to the floor, and Severus dove on top of him, so overcome with anger, he didn't even use magic. He was punching every last inch of Sirius that he could reach.

Hermione knew that under normal circumstances Sirius would have easily been able to hold his own. Perhaps even overtake Severus. Sirius was much broader, and if he was not as intoxicated, could have easily won this fight.

“Filthy -- fucking -- animal! Don't -- ever -- touch -- her -- again!” Each word was punctuated with another blow to his body.

Hermione didn't know what to do. Sirius’ face was covered in blood, and Severus seemed to be in a frenzy. It didn't look as if he would stop.

She rushed forward and grabbed Severus’ arm as it raised to deliver another blow to Sirius’ head.

“Severus! That's enough!”

He turned his head to look at her; there was murder in his eyes.

The minor distraction seemed to be exactly what Sirius needed. Hermione winced upon hearing a nasty crack when Sirius’ foot connected with Severus’ chest. Severus yelled out in pain, the sound tore right through Hermione, who took her wand and placed a shield charm between both boys that was so strong, the blue light blasted both of them back from each other.

She stood with her chest heaving, her arm shook as it was still extended out in front of her. Severus was laying with his arm wrapped around his torso breathing shallowly, while Sirius sat up holding his robes to his bleeding nose.

Footsteps pounded down the corridor.

“Sirius! Snape! What the fuck do you two think you’re playing at?” Remus yelled from behind her.

Hermione turned around, feeling like the color drained from her face. She’d been hoping that no one would have heard, and that she could have possibly cleaned them both up a bit, before insisting they both head to the Hospital Wing.

Remus stood running his hand through his hair, his eyes darting back and forth between the two boys on the floor, before finally landing on Hermione.

“What happened?” he asked.

Hermione took a deep breath.

“Sirius had a little bit too much to drink,” she began to explain, her voice shaking, “and he kissed me.” Her nose scrunched, the vile taste still lingered in her mouth. “Severus saw, and...well.” She gestured towards the two of them groaning on the ground.

Remus eyes widened, he shook his head. “I’m sorry, Hermione,” he whispered with a murderous glance towards Sirius. “He’s normally not like that. I don’t know what must have gotten into him.”

Hermione managed a small smile. Remus always took on the responsibility of apologizing for Sirius. It wasn’t right, she thought. He couldn’t control the actions of his friends any more than she could.

“You’re both going to have detention,” Remus told the boys. “After the holidays.”

Sirius glared at Remus as if he was a traitor. “What the fuck, Moony?!”

“AND,” Remus went on, as if he didn’t hear Sirius, “I’m going to have to inform both of your house heads about this.”

“Of course you do, bloody Saint Lupin,” Severus growled, then winced as he tried to sit up.

Remus rolled his eyes and let out a loud breath. “Can you manage taking him to Pomfrey?” he asked with a pointed glance towards Severus, then walked to Sirius, extending a hand to help him up, which Sirius reluctantly took.

She nodded, still feeling completely numb after the events of the last fifteen minutes.

Remus casted a cleansing charm on Sirius, removing most of the blood, and brought his attention back to Hermione. “Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked, quickly eyeing Severus again before looking back to her.

Before Hermione could answer, a loud snort came from Sirius. “She’s fine, Moony. It’s not like she just had her bloody teeth knocked into the back of her fucking head.”

“I’m fine, Remus,” she assured him, while kneeling down next to Severus. “Go on and take care of that.” she spat with an angry look aimed at Sirius.

A sad smile crossed Remus’ lips. “Right. Have a good night, Hermione.”

She nodded, and then the two boys stood up to leave. Sirius rubbed the back of his neck, and told Remus to hold on a second.

“Hermione, I -- I’m…” he mumbled, looking ashamed of himself. As he should, she thought.

“Just go, Sirius,” Hermione told him, not quite sure how long it would be until she could forgive him for this.

Remus placed his hand on Sirius’ shoulder and gently pulled him along. With one more apologetic look at Hermione, the boys both turned and left. As their figures disappeared into the darkness, she thought she could hear them quietly arguing with one another all the way down the corridor.

When she brought her attention back to Severus, he looked as if he was losing lots of color, her heart felt heavy.

“Come on, Severus. Let’s get you up to Madam Pomfrey. I think you might have a broken rib.”

Gingerly she hooked her hands under his arms, and took her time gently helping him back to his feet. He grunted when he stood up, his eyes scrunched in pain.

“I could have killed him, Hermione. I might have, had you not stopped me,” he told her. She saw the look in his eyes when he was on top of Sirius. She believed him.

“Well, luckily you didn't.” Hermione smiled weakly. “A minor hex would have done the trick, Severus. I was just about to send one his way myself, before…”

Severus tried to respond, but with every attempt to speak, he seemed to lose even more color. Hermione tried not to let the worry she felt show on her face.

They started to walk together, with Hermione holding on to Severus as tightly as she could without causing him more pain. It was no easy task, and even making it half-way down the corridor seemed to take forever.

He was getting heavy, bearing nearly his entire weight on her. It was difficult to move and she wasn't quite sure if she could carry on much longer without hurting them both. She stopped walking, took a step back and pointed her wand at him. His eyes widened.

“What are you-”

“I can't carry you,” she interrupted.

Hermione used the same spell that adult Severus used on herself, Harry and Sirius, when they'd all passed out near the Black Lake after the Dementor attack her third year. A stretcher appeared underneath him, then levitated him above the ground.

“This isn't necessary,” he growled while laying on his back.

Hermione began walking, stretcher in tow. “Nonsense. You can't walk, and I was proving to be no help. This will be better for each of us. Now hush, you're in no shape to argue.”

As much as she knew he wanted to, Severus did not argue with her the rest of the way. He was almost completely silent, save for a few groans and hisses from the pain.

When she opened the door to the Hospital Wing, thankfully it was empty. The medi-witch must have fixed up Sirius and sent him on his way in the time it had taken she and Severus to get up there, she thought. Madam Pomfrey immediately rushed to them in her dressing gown.

“Miss Devereux!” she exclaimed, waving her wand mid-run preparing a bed for Severus.

She took one look at him and shook her head. “Fighting with Black again, I suppose?”

Hermione nodded.

Pomfrey tutted, and sent Severus onto the bed she had just gotten ready for him.

“I assumed as much,” she went on, waving her wand over his body, doing her diagnostic spells. “Just mended his nose. The foolish boys.” Her voice was filled with half-exasperation and a half-motherly tone.

Hermione sat on a chair next the the bed, while Madam Pomfrey rushed to her healing potions cabinet.

“Two broken ribs,” she called back over her shoulder, then turned around with a bottle of pain potion in her hands.

Severus’ eyes met Hermione’s, she reached over and wrapped her hand around his.

“Over night for you, I'm afraid,” Pomfrey said while pouring a glass for Severus to take. “Here,” she handed it to him, “drink up.”

Severus took a sniff from the cup and crinkled his nose. “Never gets easier,” he mumbled, before tipping it back and taking the potion in one gulp. He frowned at the taste and placed the empty cup on the table next to his bed.

Madam Pomfrey flourished her wand once more, and Hermione heard the sickening cracks of Severus’ bones resetting themselves. It was lucky she'd given him the pain potion first, because from the sound of it, Hermione knew that would have been excruciating.

“Not much more for you to do besides rest, Mister Snape. Now say goodnight to Miss Devereux, it's nearly curfew,” Pomfrey told them both with a look on her face that meant she was not to be argued with.

Hermione didn't want to leave, but knew she had no choice. Reluctantly, she squeezed his hand and stood. “Goodnight, Severus. Get some rest. I'll come back first thing in the morning.” She leaned down and placed a soft kiss to his forehead.

Severus took another potion Pomfrey gave him -- a sleeping potion, then smiled sadly. He's eyes started to droop. “Goodnight, Hermione. I - I lo-” He stopped. A tint of red filled his cheeks. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “What were you going to-”

“Alright that's enough for tonight,” Madam Pomfrey interrupted, and all but pulled Hermione away.

Hermione’s stomach dropped. Was he about to say…? No, she thought. There was no way.

Slowly she walked to the door, looked back and saw that Severus’ eyes were already closed. Hermione left the Hospital Wing, and the entire walk back to her common room, the words she thought he was about to say kept replaying in her mind.

***
22nd December 1976

Hermione had difficulty sleeping, images of Sirius’ glazed over eyes and memories of the stench of his breath kept replaying over in her mind. Of course she'd been through a lot worse, with being tortured, losing loved ones, erasing her parents’ memories and fighting in a war, but she'd never been attacked quite in that way before. She feared something more sinister would have happened with Greyback in Malfoy Manor all those months ago, but what happened earlier that evening was the first time she'd been handled as if she were a piece of meat. It nauseated her.

Obviously she also worried about Severus. He had been lucky that one of his broken ribs did not pierce his heart or lungs. The whole situation could have ended up being much, much worse, and all of those what ifs played on a loop in her head.

Just before sunrise, Hermione had finally given up on any hopes of sleeping. She quietly got out of her bed and padded her way towards the showers, hoping that the hot water would calm her nerves and ease the tension she held in her back.

It was daybreak by the time she'd gotten out and dressed. The girls were still sleeping, having a bit of a lie in due to there being no classes, so Hermione left the dorm and walked down to the common room to kill some time before it would be acceptable to visit Severus in the Hospital Wing.

When she sat on one of the couches in front of the fireplace, she sighed and pointed her wand at it, igniting a crackling fire. She stared into the dancing flames, again reliving the events of last evening.

Severus meant to say something to her before she left the Hospital Wing. It sounded as if he was about to say he loved her. It could have just been the effects of the sleeping potion. Perhaps he didn't know what he was saying. She'd already come to the realization that she was in love with him, but Gryffindor courage be damned, she would not be the first one to express those feelings. What if he didn't feel as strongly for her? She'd only scare him off.

Hermione exhaled loudly. She fought in a war, for Merlin’s sake! Why was the thought of telling someone you loved them more terrifying than that?

Impatiently, she looked at her watch. It was seven o'clock. If she took a slow walk to Severus, she could reach him by seven-thirty. That would be completely acceptable for a visit, she thought. She couldn't stay cooped up in the common room any longer, since she felt as if she could climb the walls.

When she arrived next to his bed nearly a half hour later -- she timed it perfectly -- he was still asleep. He looked so much younger while he slept. The lines between his eyebrows from his usual scowl were smoothed out, and his lips were fractionally turned upwards, almost like he was smiling. She wondered what he was dreaming of to cause such a serene look on his face.

Not wanting to wake him, she took a seat next to his bed and opened a book she'd brought with her, just in case he was still asleep when she arrived.

Madam Pomfrey came out about fifteen minutes after her arrival, and looked for a moment like she was about to tell Hermione off, but stopped when Hermione gave her a pleading look. The young medi-witches eyes softened. She placed a finger up to her lips, signaling for Hermione to remain quiet, then waved her wand across Severus’ body, doing some more diagnostic spells while he continued to sleep. Pomfrey nodded after she was finished, looking satisfied by the results, and gave Hermione an understanding smile before heading back to her office.

Hermione went back to reading her book. Periodically looking up each time she heard Severus stir, hoping that he would wake, but also being glad that he was getting the rest that Madam Pomfrey prescribed.

About an hour later she jumped upon hearing his voice.

“Hey,” he said, wiping his eyes, his voice scratchy from sleep.

Hermione placed the book on her lap and smiled as she took his hand.

“Good morning,” she replied with a gentle squeeze. “How are you feeling?”

He shifted his position, trying to sit up. His face screwed up in pain. “A little better, but not much.” He craned his neck, looking in the direction of Madam Pomfrey’s office. “Could probably do with a bit more of that pain potion.”

Before Hermione could even offer to fetch her, Madam Pomfrey was right there, and if Hermione hadn't known any better, she would have sworn the woman had Apparated with how quickly she arrived.

Handing him a goblet full of the potion, she shifted her eyes to Hermione. “You've been well looked after all morning Mister Snape. The girl hasn't left your side.”

Hermione flushed, giving Severus a sheepish smile.

When he took the cup from his lips, a small smile appeared. “You've been just watching me sleep?” he asked with a slight chuckle.

She lifted the book from her lap. “As interesting as I find you, Severus, I had other things to keep me occupied.”

He shook his head, amusement plainly written on his face.

Madam Pomfrey quickly checked Severus over once again, now that he was awake. She informed them both that his ribs were healing as well as she could have hoped, but he would still require one more night there to recover fully.

Severus and Hermione had identical scowls on their faces. Each of them had been hoping to spend the day together, not under the watchful eye of the school medi-witch.

Hermione stayed with him for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, refusing to leave even for meals, and ate with Severus in the Hospital Wing. They kept their conversations light, not speaking much about what happened the night before, and certainly neither one of them bringing up what Severus had almost said before she left the previous night.

As the day progressed, she was happy to see that he seemed to be improving with each hour that passed. His movements were becoming more fluid and less painful, and most of the color had returned to his face.

When it was nearly suppertime, Severus’ expression grew somber.

“Hermione?” he asked, angling his body towards her.

She hummed in response, while turning a page in her book. He reached for it and pushed it down, causing her to look up at him. When seeing the frown he was wearing, she grew concerned.

“What is it, Severus?”

“I'm sorry,” he said softly. “I should have been there before…before he put his hands on you. If I'd just arrived earlier, none of this,” he waved his arm over his injury, “would have happened. What he did to you would not have happened.”

Slowly she stood up, bent down and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. When she pulled back, his brow was furrowed.

“What was that for?” he asked.

Hermione sat back down and exhaled. “Severus, if you think for one second that you're going to blame yourself for the actions of someone else, you're sorely mistaken.”

He tried to argue, but silenced him with one look.

“Stop,” she ordered. “You cannot control everything, so please just stop. It is not your fault.”

“But if I -”

She groaned loudly.

“We’re not arguing about this. What's done is done and cannot be changed. It is no more your fault than it is the Giant Squid’s.”

His mouth puckered, it was obvious he hadn't agreed with her, but to her satisfaction he dropped the subject.

Soon after trays of food were brought in for each of them, and after they ate they spent the rest of the evening reading quietly next to one another, or discussing their plans for the following day when Severus would be released.

Surprisingly, Madam Pomfrey let Hermione remain until a little past curfew, then after giving Severus his pain and sleep potions she insisted Hermione return to her dormitory.

Again Hermione kissed Severus goodnight, and again his eyes were closed before she'd even reached the door. She felt monumentally better after spending the day with him, and could not wait to get into bed. After barely sleeping the night before, she was absolutely knackered.

When she was nearly to Ravenclaw tower, she heard footsteps behind her.

“Merlin’s Beard, not again,” she whispered to herself, before turning around with her wand out in front of her.

Just as she assumed, Sirius Black was standing behind her, hands up in a defensive position, and looking much better than he had the last time she saw him. Cold fury raced through her veins

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn't blast you into next week, Black?” she growled.

Sirius dropped his arms, his shoulders sank.

“I can't…” he said.

Hermione lowered her wand minutely. “What do you want?” she asked, silently asking whatever higher power there might have been why she had such rotten luck.

“I wanted to -- no,” he shook his head, “I need to apologize.”

She raised an eyebrow, but did not lower her wand. “Oh? And you think that will just make everything better, do you? Say, ‘I'm sorry,’ and everything will just go away? Do you even understand how wrong what you did was?” Her voice grew louder with each word she spoke.

He flinched as if she hit him.

“Hermione, I'm not going to make excuses for what I did, alright? And yes, I know it was wrong, which is why I'm here trying to apologize to you. Last night that...that wasn't me,” he told her, his eyes wide and sincere.

Finally Hermione lowered her wand. He was right. It wasn't him. Not the him she knew from her time, that was. Clearly this Sirius Black still had a lot of growing up to do.

“I know it wasn't,” she admitted in a whisper. “But I'm not sure if I can accept your apology.”

His head jerked up fast. “But Hermione-”

“No, Sirius. There are no buts about this. I'm not sure if I can accept it yet. It's going to take me some time.”

Sirius nodded and ran his hand through his hair.

“I understand,” he said just barely loud enough for her to hear.

Hermione took a step away from him and placed her wand back in the pocket of her robes.

“I appreciate you coming to apologize. But, please, from now on, you really need to just stay away. Do you understand?” Hermione asked, hating that she was even having this conversation with someone she cared for.

He nodded again, looking like a small child who'd just been scolded.

“I do. I will. And for what it's worth, I truly am sorry.”

Hermione’s eyes filled with understanding, remembering again that conversation she had with Sirius during Christmas her fifth year. “I know you are, Sirius.” Now she knew for certain what he had apologized for that evening, and that he absolutely knew who she was when he met her again later in his life.

They stood facing each other in an awkward silence for several seconds, until she sighed and began walking away. “Goodnight,” she called over her shoulder, as she left him alone in the dark corridor.


***
A/N - Here's the next chapter, a little more quickly than normal. I'm working on this story for Camp NaNo, and set a 20k word goal, so this month will probably be a little more rapid with the updates. (If I can manage to keep myself writing and reach my goal). I'm hoping that 20k more words will nearly finish the story. I've been working on it since November of 2014, and it's about time that I finish, I think. :)

I know it was guessed that it was going to be Sirius, which I assumed that mostly everyone would. He *does* use James' cloak, and he has been a bit infactuated with Hermione. However, he wasn't actively searching for her here, it was just an unfortunate coincidence that they ran into one another.

Things are really going to start picking up after the new term begins for our characters, and we'll be working our way towards the climax and end of the fic. Which, yay! :)

I have to thank you all again for being so lovely, kind, supportive, funny, and just all around amazing. *group hugs all around* I never imagined that this story would get the attention that it has so far, and I couldn't be more thankful to all of you readers. Thank you so, so much for all the reviews, reads, favorites and just everything. Love all of you!

I hope you enjoyed the chapter!

xoxo Meg




23rd December 1976

The girl’s dorm was a whirlwind of activity that morning, since all of the girls except Hermione would be leaving to take the Hogwarts Express home for the holidays. Hermione sat cross-legged on her bed watching Amelia pack.

“Are you sure you don't want to come home with me? Mum and dad said you're more than welcome to. And I know Edgar would love to have you there,” asked Amelia, her voice mumbled since she was half under her bed looking for Merlin knows what.

It must have been the fifth time Amelia asked her that week, and each time Hermione told her that she truly appreciated the offer, but didn't want to leave her uncle without any family for the holiday. Amelia didn't buy that excuse for a second, and told her she knew it was because a certain Slytherin boy was staying behind as well. But still, she didn't like the thought of Hermione all alone in the dorm on Christmas morning, and thought she might have preferred being in more of a home setting.

“Amelia, honestly, I will hardly even be in here. I'm sure I will be out in the castle with Severus and visiting with Uncle Albus. Really, I won't be alone,” she reassured her. “But please tell your parents I said thank you for the offer. It's very kind of them.”

Pulling her head out from beneath her bed, Amelia gave Hermione a skeptical look. “Alright, Hermione. If you're sure.”

Hermione threw her head back and laughed. Amelia’s hair was filled with cobwebs and a smudge of dirt was on her nose. “I'm positive,” she tried to say through her laughter.

Amelia’s brow furrowed. She looked puzzled. “What's funny?”

“Just go and take a look at yourself,” Hermione giggled, pointing at Amelia’s head.

Looking in the full-length mirror in between their beds, Amelia pulled the cobwebs from her hair and looked at Hermione through the mirror. “Oh quiet yourself,” she said with a smirk, wiping the dirt from her nose.

“Oh Hermione?” Rita called over, immediately spoiling her good mood.

Without looking at Rita, and rolling her eyes for Amelia to see, she answered. “What, Rita?” Her voice sounded bored.

“I was only wondering how your boyfriend,” she made sure to make the word sound as disgusting as possible, “was feeling, after what happened between him and Black.”

Everything inside of Hermione screamed for her to take her wand out, and blast away the smug smile Rita had on her face. She still wanted to know how Rita even found out what happened, since she hadn't told anyone, Sirius was too embarrassed to admit he came off worse in a fight with Severus, and Amelia and Lupin had both sworn themselves to secrecy. Hermione decided she needed to keep a better eye out for stray beetles in the future.

“He's fine, Rita. Thank you for your concern,” said Hermione through her teeth.

The disgusting cow clapped her hands together. “Well that's wonderful. I would hate to think of him being ill for the holidays. Since, you know, your family won't be around.”

Alice and Dorcas giggled quietly while they continued to pack.

That was it, Hermione reached forward on her bed, and wrapped her hand around her wand. Amelia immediately threw a sock at Hermione when she did.

“Just ignore her,” she hissed under her breath.

Rita must had been more scared of Hermione than she let on. After all, she did share classes with her, and saw her dueling skills in Defense Against the Dark Arts. Her eyes glanced over Hermione’s hand, which held her wand, then she turned to her two friends.

“Ready for breakfast?” she asked them.

Thankfully the three girls left the dorm within minutes, leaving Hermione and Amelia alone. Hermione’s body still vibrated with anger.

“You have to stop showing her how much she gets to you,” said Amelia, once they were gone.

Hermione sighed. She knew Amelia was right, but with the history -- or future, that Hermione had with Rita Skeeter, it was far easier said than done.

With one final set of dress robes thrown into her trunk, Amelia locked it up, then flopped onto her bed.

“Breakfast?” she asked, partly out of breath.

When they arrived to the Great Hall, it was just as lively as it was the morning of a Quidditch Match. All the students who were going home excitedly discussed what they thought they were getting for Christmas, plans of which parties they'd be attending over the break -- apparently the party to be at was the Potter’s New Year’s Eve party -- and who they would be going with.

It all sounded lovely, and like loads of fun, but when Hermione looked over to the empty seat in which Severus usually sat in at the Slytherin table, she felt herself smile thinking of how she wouldn't want to spend her holiday anywhere else, but with him.

Originally she planned on going straight to the Hospital Wing that morning, but since it would be the last time she'd see her friends until they returned, they guilted her into at least having breakfast with them. So, she made an extra effort to be a part of their conversations, and tried not to look at her watch too often.

“I wish you would reconsider, Hermione,” said Edgar, after talking about the New Year’s party.

Apparently some Wizarding Band, who was as popular as The Weird Sisters were in her time would be playing there. She didn't catch the name, due to her slipping off into her head again.

“I'm sorry, Edgar. I'd already said I would be staying here, and I don't want to go back on my word.” She felt badly watching him frown. “Perhaps next time.” she lied, very well knowing there wouldn't be a next time.

Immediately he brightened up. “Yeah, next year you'll have to come. Even if we have to drag you.”

Hermione laughed while feeling a pit in her stomach at the sight of Edgar and Amelia looking so excited.

When breakfast was finished, Hermione walked to the Entrance Hall with her friends. Even though she hadn’t been spending nearly the same amount of time with them recently, as she did in the beginning of term, she knew she would miss them. The empty common room would feel lonely without them there loudly laughing, playing games, or just studying.

Amelia turned to Hermione and gave her a tight hug.

“I'll make sure to owl you while we’re gone,” she promised with a squeeze.

“You're only going to be gone about two weeks,” she answered with a small laugh before pulling away.

Amelia shrugged. “Even still. I'm sure I'll need the break from them,” she pointed her thumb towards Edgar, Otto and Sturgis, “at some point.”

“Hey!” Otto yelled, putting on an exaggerated pout, before wrapping his arms around Hermione and lifting her off the ground.

“Don't have too much fun without us,” he said, putting her down and winking suggestively.

Hermione felt her face turn scarlet at the implications of his words. “Oh shut it, before I send you home covered in boils,” she teased.

She then said goodbye to the other boys, wished them a Happy Christmas and stood at the doorway for a few minutes, watching them all walk down the path towards Hogsmeade together. When they were finally out of sight, she turned to make her way towards the Hospital Wing, hoping Severus would finally be allowed out of Madam Pomfrey’s care.

When she opened the doors to the infirmary, Madam Pomfrey was busy fussing over Severus, who was standing next to his bed grimacing towards the ground.

“Honestly, I am feeling much better. Look,” he grumbled, then began twisting the top half of his body left and right. “No pain. Everything feels exactly as it did before.”

Hermione bit back a laugh watching the frustration grow on his face. She stood quietly in the doorway until Severus’ eyes met with hers. Quietly she giggled and shook her head, then started to walk towards him.

Madam Pomfrey looked over her shoulder, seeing Hermione approach and clicked her tongue.

“Ah, now I see why you're so eager to leave.” Disapproval saturated her voice. “Very well, Mister Snape. You appear to be recovered, although I would feel much better if you stayed until the afternoon.”

Severus groaned. “I'm fine,” he told her again, gathering his belongings. “I do not need to stay any longer.”

Five minutes later Hermione and Severus were out of the Hospital Wing, walking through the nearly empty school together.

“What would you like to do today?” Severus asked as he took her hand.

Hermione shrugged. “Doesn't matter. Perhaps we should take it easy today.” She looked up at his face, the better to read it. “Are you sure you're feeling better? Should you get more rest?”

Severus glared mutinously at her. “Not you, too,” he whined. “Hermione, I wasn't lying. I feel great.” He poked at his ribs to further prove his point.

She couldn't detect any sign of pain on his face while he jabbed at himself, so she believed him.

“Alright then. We can do whatever you'd like.”

“Oh?” he asked with a devilish smirk. “Whatever I’d like?”

Instantly Hermione’s entire body grew warm due to the tone of his voice, and what it left unspoken. “Within reason,” she clarified with a smirk of her own.

Severus brought them both to a stop, and pulled Hermione around to face him. He looked up and down the corridor, then wrapped his arms around her tightly. “I haven't been able to do this nearly enough recently,” he told her, his eyes dark with desire.

He tugged on her hair, forcing her head to tilt upwards, then crashed his lips onto hers. Hermione was shocked by the level of force he'd just shown, yet she wasn't complaining. She found herself sort of enjoying the way he'd just taken control, and she kissed him back hungrily.

Hermione lifted her arms and grabbed a fist full of his hair, a small moan hummed in the back of his throat. The effect he had on her was intense. Never before had she allowed herself to lose control the way she did with Severus, and she was quite sure it was the same for him in regards to her.

When they broke apart from one another, Hermione smiled up at him, her bottom lip between her teeth.

“I believe that fits the criteria of, ‘within reason,’” she joked, then stood on her toes to place a soft peck on his cheek.

The deep laugh of his, that she so loved hearing, sounded out between them. “Good,” he told her before kissing her forehead.

Before they ended up being spotted before a teacher, both of them began walking once more and decided to check on Hermione’s antivenin, since it had been days since they had.

According to both of their calculations, the potion should be turning a periwinkle blue by this point, before turning completely clear at the end of the process. Hermione’s heart pounded on the walk down hoping that it was the correct color. She hated the thought of beginning again from scratch.

Walking into the empty Potions classroom, she let go of his hand and waved her wand, lighting all the candles in the room. She nearly ran to the cabinet in which Slughorn allowed her to store the potion and held her breath as she opened the door. Severus looked on over her shoulder behind her.

The cauldron rested on the middle shelf with the contents inside glowing the very blue they were hoping for. She heard Severus release a breath as she smiled widely. Now all she needed was the Phoenix tears, then to wait for it to finish stewing, and hopefully it would be completed. The only thing she still had to work out was how to test it.

“It seems to be coming along nicely,” Severus whispered in her ear, trailing a long finger down her spine.

Hermione shivered. “Y-yes, it does.”

She felt his lips gently brush against her ear. “Not much for us to do then, is there?” he purred, again running his finger along her back.

Goosebumps formed on her arms as a chill ran through her. “I suppose not,” she breathed out.

“It's been awhile since we’ve taken a boat across the lake, hasn't it?” Severus asked before he moved her hair from her shoulder, then leaned down to lightly nibble her neck.

Her eyes fluttered shut as she leaned her head to the side, allowing him more access. At this point she'd lost the ability to speak and merely hummed in agreement.

He then trailed his hand down her side and reached around her to grab the cabinet door “I think we should go,” he suggested before shutting it, then returned his attention back to her neck.

With a shuddering breath and many inappropriate thoughts involving Severus, his teaching robes and the desk they shared together in that classroom invading her mind, Hermione nodded once more.

“As you wish,” he whispered at her throat, then turned her around to kiss properly, nearly lifting her from her feet.

They spent the rest of the afternoon on their island with a heating charm and one another to keep themselves warm. After not really seeing the other for days, they could not seem to get enough of each other. They had planned on doing some catching up to find out what they were each up to the days they'd spent apart, and Hermione initially intended on questioning him again about that past Saturday, but they hadn’t managed to get as much conversation in as they anticipated. And both of them seemed entirely content with that.

***
24th December 1976

It reminded her of her first two mornings in the year 1976 when she woke up alone on Christmas Eve morning. The amount of things that changed since then, however, were astounding. Never would she had believed that by the holidays she would wake with a smile on her face, thinking of the day ahead with the person she loved -- Severus Snape.

To think of how frightened she was to see him for the first time, or how she kept literally bumping into him the first few days, or how frustrating it was attempting to get to know him, it all seemed so silly now. Especially considering the fact that she had spent a majority of the previous day in his arms, thinking of how much he meant to her, and how happy she'd been to have found him.

Although Hermione missed Amelia’s company, she did have to admit to herself that a part of her enjoyed having the dorm to herself. She didn't have to have any walls up, or pretend to be someone else. She was able to let her guard down and truly, for the first time in months, relax. Plus, not needing to wait to use the shower was an added bonus as well.

When she got out of the shower, she decided to take the Glamour Charm off of her hair, letting the bushy brown ringlets fall down on her shoulders. It surprised her how unfamiliar she looked to herself, after months of seeing a girl with poker straight black hair reflecting back at her. The sight of her hair, in all of its untamed glory sent a pain of homesickness through her. She tried not to think of Harry, or Ron, or Ginny, or any of the others much as of late, but while looking at herself, truly herself, a flood of memories washed over her. A single tear fell from her eye.

With a wave of her wand she changed her hair back to black, and turned from the mirror.

Hermione missed her life, she missed her friends, and she knew she had to go home at some point, but now that she'd grown so attached to Severus, there was a small part of her -- one that grew a bit stronger each day -- that wanted to stay with him.

Of course she couldn't. She knew that staying indefinitely in a time in which she did not belong could be disastrous, but that didn't stop her from fantasizing about a life with him. Keeping him from Voldemort and the Death Eaters, traveling the world together, perhaps even getting a place of their own, and maybe some day even a wedding. He could be happy, she could make him happy. They could be happy together.

Could be, but would not be.

Eventually she would have to leave him, and it would break his heart. She hated the thought of it, and a part of her wondered if her disappearance would be what eventually led him straight to Voldemort. She certainly hoped not.

She got dressed slowly, and tried to push all of those thoughts from her mind for now. It wouldn't do for her to be sullen during Christmas. Not when those who remained at the school would be filled with holiday cheer -- and most likely mead and Firewhiskey, she amended in her head.

After she was finished getting ready for the day, she saw no point in remaining in Ravenclaw’s common room. All of her friends and minor acquaintances had gone home for the holidays. Only a few younger students, and one seventh year she hadn't known remained behind. The rumble in her stomach only confirmed her decision to leave and head to The Great Hall for breakfast.

When she arrived, Severus was one of four students who were sat at the Slytherin table. When they locked eyes, he beckoned her over with his finger. Hermione tentatively walked over, not exactly fancying the idea of sitting with the Slytherins, but since the other students there were all much younger, she didn't see the harm.

“Good morning,” she said brightly, taking the seat across from him.

“Morning,” he replied, then poured a cup of coffee for her. “Two sugars?” he asked.

Hermione’s eyebrows raised. “You've noticed how I take my coffee?”

Severus shrugged. “Let's not pretend that I'm the only one who watches people from across the hall,” he said, plopping two cubes into her mug.

Reaching across the table to take it from him, she laughed. “I haven't the faintest idea of what you're speaking of,” she tried to lie with a sly smile.

Severus snorted before raising his drink to his lips. “Of course you don't,” he replied into his cup, then took a drink.

After breakfast, Hermione and Severus went to, what they've started calling ‘their classroom,’ since being from different houses, they couldn't just sit in a common room together and enjoy the day. With the pillows they frequently used to practice with, and a jar filled with Hermione’s signature blue flames, they made the space cozy enough. She lied down with her head resting on Severus’ chest, while he stroked her hair as she read to him. He listened to her for hours, only interrupting here and there to comment on the story she read. It was the most comfortable she’d been in quite some time, and if she could have, she would have stayed in that moment for ever. Neither one of them imagined there would have been a better place to spend the day.

***
A/N - Hey all! So I know that this is kind of a filler chapter, but after the angst and heaviness of the last two chapters, I figured we could all use a little break, and some fluffy Snamione action. :) Thank you all again, old and new readers, for all of the love! But as always, I hope that you all enjoyed the chapter! And who is excited to see what Severus got Hermione for Christmas, and how he'll react to his gift from her? Love you all, and again, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

xoxo Meg




25th December 1976

Christmas morning Hermione woke to a small bundle of parcels at the end of her bed, on the floor. She sat up while wiping the sleep from her eyes and stretched, before crawling down to reach for them.

It was strange to be opening Christmas gifts on her own. Never had she been alone for the holiday before, and for a moment she let herself be overcome with a pain of sadness. She thought back to the last Christmas she spent at home, when things were still somewhat normal. It was during her sixth year. It seemed silly to her now, how lonely she felt during that time, since she and Ron were not speaking due to Lavender Brown. But at least she'd had her parents.

It was a pleasant day, she remembered. Snow lightly fell from the sky, as the three of them sat in the sitting room watching black and white Christmas movies, drinking tea, and stuffing themselves with sweets and other confectionary. It was quiet, certainly much more quiet than what she heard the Burrow had been like. With Mrs. Weasley’s simmering anger, barely controlling her urge to curse her future daughter-in-law. But she enjoyed quiet. It didn't bother her. Well, not always.

This type of quiet. The type that reminded you that you were so painfully alone. Well, that bothered her.

Regardless, she tried to cheer herself up at bit at the thought of leaving the dormitory and spending her day in the company of Severus. Another person, who like her, she knew felt entirely alone, despite being surrounded by people. It was another thing they had in common.

Deciding she should open her gifts, so she could get down to the Great Hall, Hermione reached into her pile, and began choosing parcels one at a time.

The first package she chose was a tiny blue box, the card attached letting her know it was from Amelia. She tucked her thumb underneath the wrappings and peeled it off, revealing a black satin squared jewelry box. When lifting the lid to it and seeing the piece of jewelry inside she gasped softly, then picked it up to examine it closer. The ring was incredibly unique and very pretty. The band was bronze and flat, with a glass orb in a setting that was carved to look like talons. She slid it onto the middle finger of her right hand and was please to find that it fit perfectly, then she took in a surprise breath when grey smoke started swirling inside the glass, slowly changing to a light blue.

There was a card inside of the ring box which listed colors accompanied by corresponding moods to match each color. According to the chart, the light blue meant happy, which she certainly was in that moment. It was mood ring, not one of those cheap muggle-type that always seemed to remain black after the first day of use, but a stunning magical one that was guaranteed to be accurate.

Hermione smiled, thinking warmly of Amelia, as she traced her finger around the glass bubble on her finger. She was glad to know that she'd have a token to take with her. Something she could remember Amelia by. The smoke started to change to green -- melancholy.

Next there was a flat box from Otto, which had a wide variety of sweets from Honeydukes, another box from Sturgis which contained a three-pack of golden tipped quills, and one from Edgar, which had a large book entitled, Wizarding Cultures and Customs Around the World. The note he left with it said that he thought, since she was nearly always reading in the common room at night, that she would enjoy the book, being that he hadn’t ever noticed her reading it before. Then lastly was another box of sweets from Remus, which was a surprise. She wasn't expecting anything from him, but was glad that she thought of picking him up a little something the last time she was at Hogsmeade.

She sat smiling to herself, admiring her gifts from her friends in this time, and thinking of how much she would end up missing them. More than she ever would have thought she would.

As she cleared up the shredded wrappings from her bed, a gleam of silver caught her eye. There was a box that was just about the same size as Amelia’s gift that she hadn’t noticed until then.

Hermione took it into her hands and opened it carefully. Inside was a folded up piece of parchment which she unfolded before opening the plain brown box that was beneath the wrappings.

Hermione,

I do apologize for the long
wait before giving this to you.
I am hoping it proves to be useful.

A very Happy Christmas to you,
Albus Dumbledore

Her hands started to tremble slightly as she put the note down beside her and began opening the little box.

“He got them,” Hermione whispered to herself, while taking the glass vial out and curling her fingers around it tightly.

It was the Phoenix tears. The last piece of the puzzle. The ingredient that she needed more than any other to ensure Severus survived the night before she'd been sent back in time. The ring on her finger turned to an iridescent pearl color, while tears of happiness streamed from her eyes. It was the best gift she could have asked for. Not just the Phoenix Tears, but the confidence and hope for the future that came along with them.

Quickly she hopped out of bed, and rushed to her trunk with the vial in hand. After opening it, she dug down to the bottom and felt the handkerchief which had her bottle of Unicorn Horn powder inside. Not knowing if Dumbledore already did so or not, or how long the tears would stay good for, she placed a Stasis Charm on them, and wrapped them up alongside the remainder of the powder she had left over. Very carefully she tucked the bottles down the bottom of her trunk, closed it, locked it and warded it, so that no one else could get in but her.

After she showered and dressed for the day, she took the thin package she had wrapped for Severus out of her wardrobe. Since the two of them were remaining at school for the holiday, they'd both agreed to exchange gifts in person, rather than let them be delivered by the house elves during the night.

Running her finger along the side of the box, she hoped that Severus would like his gift, before sliding it into the pocket of her robes. She felt anxious, wondering what Severus had gotten her, but knowing that no matter what it was, she would love it, because it had come from him.

Hermione checked herself once in the mirror, and smoothed her hair into place, then turned to leave the dormitory and make her way down to The Great Hall to meet Severus.

Once again she took a seat at the Slytherin table and smiled at Severus, who had already been there. He handed her a cup of coffee which he prepared for her, looking a little nervous.

“Happy Christmas, Severus,” she said cheerfully, then lifted her mug to take a drink. “Thank you,” she said while looking pointedly at the mug, setting it back down on the table.

“You're welcome. And Happy Christmas to you as well.” He gave her a crooked smile then reached into his robes, pulling out a flat square box, wrapped in blue and tied with a bronze bow.

Even though they weren't technically her house colors, the fact that he'd been thoughtful enough to use what he thought were her’s warmed her heart.

Before reaching for her present, she pulled his gift from her pocket, then pushed it across the table. “I hope you like it.”

Instead of taking his gift, Severus placed his hand on Hermione’s. “I’m positive I will like whatever it is,” he told her sincerely.

While she sat smiling like the lovesick teen she was, an idea struck her. She did not entirely wish to open their gifts in the middle of The Great Hall, with the handful of students who remained, and the staff at the head table watching them. She wanted to be able to react and thank him properly, and thought of a more private place to go. Somewhere where no one could find or bother them.

“Severus?” she asked, an excited spark lit her eyes. “Would you like to perhaps open these somewhere by ourselves?”

He arched an eyebrow at her as his mouth curled up into a smile. “I would not mind that,” he answered, then made a move to stand up.

Hermione laughed. “Not quite yet. I'd like to at least have a little bit of breakfast before we leave.”

Truthfully she was just as anxious as he was to see what he had gotten her. But the growl in her stomach won out over her curiosity. She laughed even more when he frowned before sitting back down in his seat.

“I'll eat quickly,” she told him with a wink, then tucked into her breakfast.

After they'd both finished eating, Hermione took Severus by the hand, and eagerly towed him to her destination. She was beyond excited, and ran a little too exuberantly. Severus joked that she was going to tear his arm from its socket about three times on the way there.

Finally she found herself standing across from a tapestry of a man attempting to teach some trolls the ballet, looking up at what would be the entrance to the Room of Requirement. She paced back and forth in front of, what must have seemed to Severus, an ordinary wall, thinking of exactly what she wanted for the two of them.

“What are you doing?” he asked after her second time turning around. His brow was raised, and he looked at her like she'd finally lost her mind.

“Hush,” she responded, then finished her last time walking by the wall.

“Hermione...what-”

She had a smug smile on her face when he stopped speaking, due to an ornate arched doorway appearing before them. His eyes were wide and filled with curiosity as he turned back towards her.

“What? How did you find this?” he asked in a low voice.

Hermione grabbed his hand again and brought him to the door.

“There are some advantages that come along with having your uncle as the headmaster,” she lied, thinking that would be a believable enough answer.

Originally she hadn't planned on using the Room of Requirement while she was there. She felt it would be too strange for a new student to know such a secret piece of information about the castle. But then when she thought of her cover story, and how she was supposedly the niece of Albus Dumbledore, she figured that would be the perfect excuse for knowing about the room.

When they walked in, it was exactly as Hermione hoped it would look. There was a stone fireplace to the left of them, a large, brown, squashy sofa sat in front of it. A book shelf rested against the wall opposite the fireplace -- fully stocked. And in the back of the room, across from where they stood was a window, showing a snowy mountainside, with fresh snow falling from the sky. A Christmas tree with green, silver and red baubles stood next to the window, with the scent of pine hanging in the air all around them. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. It was perfect.

Severus looked around the room with a dumbfounded expression on his face.

“Hermione…”

She squeezed his hand then leaned up to kiss his cheek.

“I didn't fancy spending the whole day on the floor of that classroom,” she explained with a small shrug.

When he finally tore his eyes from the space around them, he looked down upon her with an unfathomable look in his eyes. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him appear so stunned, yet also happy.

Without warning he took her face between his hands, leaned in and kissed her hard.

“I couldn't imagine a better way to spend the holiday,” he told her after they broke apart.

Hermione beamed up at him. “Neither could I.”

Hand in hand, the pair made their way to the large sofa in the room, sitting down together. She nudged him with her knee and pointed towards the pocket of his robes.

“Go on,” she urged him, “open it.”

She couldn't keep the nervous excitement from her voice, as she bounced in her seat watching him take out his gift.

He laughed softly. “Alright, alright, I'll open it.”

Carefully he peeled the wrappings from the box. Hermione waited with baited breath as he lifted the lid and saw the contents inside. He looked at the metal stirring stick curiously for a moment, before gently removing it and turning it to read the inscription on the side. He hadn't said anything yet, and Hermione began to feel nervous.

“Don’t you like it?” she asked quietly.

Still he kept his eyes on the words she had carved into it. Then slowly a smile formed on his lips.

He nodded. “Thank you, Hermione. I’ll cherish this forever.”

From her memory of that day in her fifth year, she knew that he spoke the truth. Regardless, she let out a sigh of relief.

“It's tungsten. So, it should last you that long,” she explained.

Severus placed it back in the box.

“And I know you mentioned continuing on with Potions, so I'm sure you'll get plenty of-”

Hermione didn't get a chance to finish her sentence, since Severus silenced her with a kiss.

“You talk too much at times,” he joked after leaning back in his seat.

Hermione’s cheeks darkened as an embarrassed giggle escaped her. “Shut up,” she teased.

Severus laughed then reached across her lap. She froze when his hand went into the pocket of her robes, making sure to gently caress her thigh, before taking the box out and setting it on her lap.

In that moment, she didn't give a damn about the gift. Everything in her was fighting the impulse to dive on top of him and snog him until she couldn't breathe. Severus must had either been thinking along the same lines, or read her thoughts on her face.

“We have all day, Hermione,” he told her as he trailed his finger across her leg, before placing his hand back on his lap. Hermione shivered. “Open it,” he said.

When she opened the box, she could feel Severus’ eyes on her the entire time. And when she saw what the box contained, her eyes began to water. They were absolutely beautiful.

There were two matching decorative combs for her hair. She could tell that they must have been antiques, they looked very old, and way more than she assumed he could have afforded.

The combs were sterling silver, and at the top was an intricate floral design. There were two flowers, the leaves of which were made of emeralds, and the buds were sapphires. Each flower had six leaves to it, and they were set on a swirled silver pattern. They were probably the most elaborate piece of jewelry she'd ever owned.

“Oh, Severus…” she breathed out, while running her finger across the jewels. “They're...I don't even know what to say. They're stunning.”

When she looked up at him and blinked the tears away, she saw that he was watching her with a gentle softness in his eyes.

“I'm glad that you like them,” he told her, then placed his hand on her leg. “They belonged to my grandmother.”

Hermione’s heart felt like it stopped. He'd given her something that belonged to a member of his family? But why?

“Your grandmother?” she repeated, clearly stunned.

“That day in Hogsmeade,” he began. Hermione stilled. He was about to tell her what she'd been so eager to know. “I met with my mother.”

Her mouth popped opened. Hermione knew that Severus had a complicated relationship with his mother. He obviously loved her very much, from the way she'd heard him speak of her, but he also in a way resented her, for the way that she'd stand by and allow herself and Severus to suffer his father's verbal -- and at times physical, abuse.

“Oh?” She didn't know what else to say.

“I - I've written to her about you,” he admitted quietly, not quite looking her in the eye. “I hadn't a clue what to get you. I've never...I've never had a girlfriend before.”

Watching Severus appear so vulnerable and so self-conscious, caused Hermione’s heart actual pain. He needn't be embarrassed, she thought to herself. It wasn't like she'd ever been in a relationship like theirs either. Of course she had that minor fling with Viktor her fourth year. And there was, whatever it was she had with Ron. But neither of them had ever been someone she was committed to in this way. Severus was, as strange as it sounded, her first boyfriend.

“It's not like I have many real friends in Slytherin, and I didn't know who else to ask,” he continued. Hermione remained silent. “So I thought I'd try mum,” he shrugged.

Hermione rested her hand on top of his, which still sat on the top of her thigh. “That's actually really sweet, Severus,” she whispered.

He half-smiled. “When I told her how much I --” his voice cracked, “I've come to...care for you, and how special are, she wrote back saying she knew just the gift and asked to meet with me during my next Hogsmeade trip.”

How much I've come to care for you, repeated in her mind. At that moment she knew that the two of them had fallen much, much deeper than she ever could have anticipated. She wasn't sure if she could have possibly ever loved him more than she did right then.

Hermione looked up at him from beneath her lashes. Her heart pounded. “I care for you a great deal, too.” she said so quietly, she was amazed that he even heard her.

Severus cupped the side of her face softly, rubbing his thumb across her cheekbone. The two sat watching one another and she was quite sure both of them were fighting to hold back the same words. But still, she couldn't bring herself to be the one to say them first.

He leaned in and gently placed his lips onto hers. The kiss began slowly, sweetly. Then little by little, it grew more passionately, until her hands travelled up and tangled themselves into his hair. He snaked his arms around her waist and squeezed their bodies together tightly.

When they broke their kiss, they remained sitting with their hands linked together. She saw the resolve form in his eyes.

“Hermione. I'm --” he swallowed. “I love you. I'm in love with you,” he told her, his voice hoarse from nerves.

Her breath caught in her throat as a feeling unlike any she ever felt before came over her. She couldn't even put a name to it. It was like the first day of a new term, combined with the day she purchased her wand, also with the joy at learning she was top of her class, mixed with that feeling of going down the first hill of a rollercoaster. But even that didn't do it justice.

He watched her face carefully. Deep down she had had a feeling that he'd felt that way, but to actually hear the words and watch them fall from his lips, she was stunned into silence. The only thing that caused her to speak was watching the anxiety creep across his face due to her lack of response.

She knew she had to do something.

His eyes widened when she lunged forward and hugged him as hard as she could, taking in those wonderful earthy scents that were uniquely his. “I love you, too, Severus,” she said into his ear.

A shaky laugh came from him as he held onto her so tightly, it felt as if he never intended on letting her go.



25th December 1976

Later that evening, Hermione and Severus sat next to one another at a large circular table in The Great Hall for the Christmas feast. Just as she remembered Harry telling her, Dumbledore insisted that the remaining students and staff sat together, since there were such a small number of them there.

It was surreal for her to see her professors let their professional walls down and truly enjoy the holiday. Professor McGonagall chatted merrily with Professor Slughorn, who's cheeks were a deep red due to the bottle of wine he'd nearly finished. Hagrid laughed loudly, banging on the table while Professor Flitwick attempted to tell a story through his laughter. Madam Pomfrey and Professor Sprout sat closely together, looking far more involved than she ever assumed them to be. And Professor Dumbledore popped open a cracker with a Hufflepuff third year, who seemed to be a little more than uncomfortable being seated next to the headmaster.

Hermione smiled at the scene around her, and glanced at Severus, who wasn't looking around as she was, but had his eyes right on her the entire time.

“Is it always like this?” she asked him quietly, with a quick glance around the table.

She knew that he had been remaining at the school during the holiday every year since his second.

Severus rolled his eyes. “Yes. And it's fortunate you're here with me, because normally that,” he made a slight gesture to the boy sitting next to Dumbledore, who was having a blinking red bonnet from the cracker placed upon his head. “Was normally me.”

Hermione’s lips twitched as she fought hard to keep from laughing, imagining Severus’ livid face beneath a ridiculous bonnet.

“Pity I missed seeing that,” she said in a strained voice, due to her still trying not to laugh.

His eyes narrowed at her tone. “Yes. Truly a shame,” he responded dryly.

Hermione reached for his hand underneath the table and locked their fingers together. The corner of his mouth lifted and he squeezed her hand in return.

“How much longer do you think until we can leave, without appearing rude?” she whispered.

Severus looked up at the professors, who were becoming clearly more intoxicated as time went on. They were clapping along while Hagrid and Flitwick were loudly singing some old Wizarding folk song, about a Witch from Lickfold, which wasn't entirely appropriate for the students to have heard.

He looked back at her. “I would assume now would be as good of a time as any.” Then he smirked. “Did you have someplace in mind for us to go?”

Hermione felt the heat travel up her face; her teeth clamped onto her bottom lip as she nodded. She was quite eager to return to the Room of Requirement with him.

Severus must have been thinking along the same lines as Hermione, she thought while watching eyes spark with something that looked very much like desire. He rose from his seat immediately with Hermione following suit.

Dumbledore looked up at their sudden movement, a barely noticeable frown touched his lips.

“Hermione, Severus. Leaving already?” he asked airily, yet Hermione was able to detect the small hint of disapproval in his tone.

Regardless, she put on an apologetic smile and nodded.

“I'm afraid so, Uncle Albus. Truthfully, I'm absolutely knackered, and Severus has agreed to escort me back to Ravenclaw,” she lied smoothly.

Severus inclined his head, as to agree with her.

Dumbledore nodded once, “Then I wish you a pleasant evening, my dear.” He smiled then and held up the pocket watch Hermione had given him. “And I must thank you once more for such a marvelous gift, which I most certainly hadn’t expected,” he told her, sounding entirely sincere.

Hermione didn't have to fake the smile she had on now. “I was more than happy to get it for you.”

She wanted to tell him more. That even though they may not have agreed on everything she was doing while she was there, she very much appreciated all that he had done for her. How he kept her in the castle, where she would be safe. How he worked on the Time-Turner, so she would be able to return home someday. And how he seemed to trust her, and her decisions, even if he hadn't felt they were wise.

There was an understanding in Dumbledore’s eyes, as she thought all of that, and for a moment she believed that he knew all that she left unspoken.

The familiar twinkle lit his eyes as he bowed his head towards them. “Off you go then. Happy Christmas to both of you.”

Hermione and Severus both said their goodbyes, and quickly left the hall together, eager to be alone.

As the doors closed behind them, Severus stopped her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her from the ground, kissing her passionately.

“I love you,” he said, as he put her back down.

Reaching forward, she placed her hand on his chest and smiled up at him. “I love you, too, Severus.”

When they opened the door to the Room of Requirement, it was exactly the same as it was earlier in the day, except for one new addition. Next to the Christmas tree, there was an oak door with a brass handle that wasn't there last time. Hermione raised an eyebrow in question, and went to see what was behind the door.

As she stepped inside, with Severus right behind her, she immediately felt her cheeks flush. There was a four-poster bed in the middle of the room, so large that it dominated most of the space before them. She walked towards it and ran her hand over the smooth black comforter slowly.

“How…? I didn't…” she began quietly asking out loud.

Severus cleared his throat. When she turned around, she noticed he wasn't looking at her, but kept his gaze firmly focused on the thick green carpet beneath their feet.

“I, erm...thought that maybe -- perhaps, instead of sleeping separately during the break…” he trailed off, his pink cheeks giving away his discomfort.

Understanding slowly dawned on her, she felt her lips turn upwards, and her heart had begun to hammer at the implications of what he left unsaid. Truthfully, she very much enjoyed the thought of sleeping tucked in his arms, since no one would have been in either of their dormitories to notice their absence. But she wasn't quite sure if she was ready to take their physical relationship further as of yet. And if she agreed to stay, would he have expected that of her?

Almost in response to her previous thought, Severus spoke up. “Of course if you do not feel comfortable with it yet, I certainly would never force you.” He began shuffling his feet. “I only intended on us sleeping,” he made sure to stress the word, “nothing more...if -- if you're not ready.”

Her eyes slowly travelled the length of his tall, thin frame, which was always obstructed by billowing robes. Even in his youth, Severus wore clothing that was just a bit too large on him. She supposed it was an unconscious, or potentially conscious, effort to hide himself -- to make himself appear less imposing than she knew him to truly have been.

She felt a longing to rid him of his robes. To finally have seen what was beneath them. An image of herself running her hands along his chest, curling her fingers in his chest hair, before moving to his arms, and then gently scratching her fingernails down his bare back, came into her mind. Her face flushed as she looked down at her shoes.

“I --” her voice cracked, she cleared her throat, “I’m not sure if I'm ready to go further...yet.” She looked up at his face to see how he reacted, and found herself pleased to see he smiled reassuringly at her. “But I wouldn't mind spending the night with you.”

Never in the entire time that Hermione had known him, as an adult or as the boy before her, had she seen Severus light up as much as he had in that moment. It nearly brought a tear to her eye.

After the awkward exchange in the bedroom, Hermione and Severus left it to explore the bookshelf that was in the sitting area. When her eyes read the title of a book focusing on antidotes and healing potions, she quickly reached for it, hoping that perhaps there would be a chapter illustrating a way to test new potions, not on a living person or creature, to give her an idea of how to test her antivenin when it was finished.

For the rest of the evening, the two sat together in front of the fireplace, with Hermione curled against his side, reading quietly. She had just finished a particularly helpful chapter when she yawned loudly. It was nearing midnight, and Severus suggested they turn in for the night. Placing her book on the table before them, she agreed, then with her stomach fluttering with nerves like never before, they entered the bedroom together.

At first neither of them moved once they were in there. They stood just barely apart from one another awkwardly, both looking around at anything else that wasn't each other. It was clear that neither she nor Severus knew exactly how to proceed or what proper etiquette would be, in regards to how they would prepare for bed.

She knew she couldn't very well sleep in her robes, but she foolishly had forgotten to retrieve any of her night clothes from her dormitory, and knew Severus hadn't either. She looked around the room in a slight panic, when suddenly a wardrobe appeared to her right.

She looked to Severus with a raised eyebrow, wondering if it was his doing. He shook his head in response. Curiosity got the better of her, and she was the one that ended up approaching it. When she opened it up, there were two pairs of cotton pajamas -- one for each of them. An audible sigh of relief came from her, without her even realizing. She reached in and took out the green pair that were obviously too large for her to have fit in, and handed them to Severus.

“This room is remarkable,” he said with a hint of awe in his tone as he took them from her.

“Truly,” she replied while grabbing her red pair. A small smirk formed on her face when she noticed the color. It was comforting for her to have something that reminded of her old life. Even if it was something as simplistic as the color of her night clothes.

“Something funny?” Severus asked.

She had not noticed he was looking at her. “No,” she said, taking a step closer to him and kissing his cheek. “Just happy to be here with you.”

Severus brushed his finger across her cheekbone, causing a slight chill to run through her.

“I'll go change in there,” he said, jerking his head towards the bathroom. “Yell to me when you're ready.”

When the bathroom door closed, Hermione began getting undressed. Her hands trembled as she undid the buttons of her shirt, anxiety enveloped her chest thinking of sharing a bed with Severus. She'd never slept next to someone of the opposite sex when there wasn't anything more than platonic feelings involved. The thought of it made her pulse race.

Obviously things have progressed between she and Severus. They now knew that they loved one another, and if there was one thing she was certain of, typically after a declaration of love was made, one was expected to show it physically. She may not had been ready that night, but she couldn't lie and pretend that she hadn't wanted to. She was a nineteen, nearly twenty year old young woman, and of course she had all of the physical yearnings of any person her age. As always with Hermione, her heart was in it, but her head continued casting doubts.

It wasn't that she feared Severus was the type of person to have used the word love to get her to have sex with him. And it also wasn't that she feared that he would have left her after she'd done so. It was the fear of how much more emotionally attached she would become afterwards. Always in the back of her mind was the thought that he very well might not survive when she returned home. She was already in deep enough, with saying those three words out loud. But if she were to bring it to the next level, and he somehow didn't make it…she couldn't even have beared finishing that thought.

With her clothes from the day folded and placed in the wardrobe. “I'm decent!” she yelled, her back still towards the door.

“I definitely would have to disagree,” he said from behind her. Hermione spun around and swallowed audibly as she watched him leaned against the doorframe, watching her hungrily. “You are not merely, decent, Hermione. You're magnificent.”

Hermione laughed nervously, her anxiety was reaching peak levels now that they were both dressed and ready for bed.

Severus fully came out of the bathroom, swishing his wand to turn out the light behind him, and slowly walked towards the opposite side of the bed that Hermione stood near. He started tugging at the cuff of his sleeve, and although he kept his face impassive, Hermione recognized the nervous tick, and felt slightly better knowing that he was just as apprehensive as she was. In fact, knowing that seemed to embolden her.

Without stalling any longer, she pulled back the bedding and climbed in, sitting cross-legged and looking up expectantly at Severus.

“Are you planning on sleeping while standing?” she asked with a curve of her lips, and softly patted the spot next to her.

He dawdled for a moment, then finally got in, but just barely. He was practically hanging off the edge of the bed. Clearly he was more afraid to do this than he had initially let on.

Hermione reached over and tugged on his arm. “Come here,” she coaxed gently.

“Al -- alright,” he whispered hoarsely.

Severus shifted his weight and moved over closer to Hermione, but kept his face looking forward. The tension in that room was unbearably thick, and she absolutely knew that both of them felt it.

As she studied his profile, which was mostly obstructed by the black curtains of his hair, she felt her abdomen tighten, and for a brief moment nearly said to hell with it and pounced on him. She unconsciously licked her lips, and watched him tense up as he watched her from the side of his eye.

Not being able to stand the lack of contact any longer, Hermione reached over and placed her hand on Severus’ cheek, gently guiding his head towards hers. His Adam’s apple bobbed and there was slight panic in his dark eyes. Hermione smiled warmly at him, before leaning in and placing her lips gingerly on his.

They were being careful with one another, the kiss remained light, without any of the heat they'd normally shared with one another as of late. When his arms tentatively snaked around her waist, she was surprised to feel them trembling, and she was just as shocked to find that she was trembling as well.

There was something different about kissing while in bed together. It was more intimate, with much more implied than stolen moments in classrooms or empty corridors. It felt more substantial, more grown up, more…real.

Suddenly things began to progress. Severus’ hands moved down her back and found their way beneath the hem of her shirt. Hermione’s breath hitched, and chills formed on her skin at the feel of his calloused fingers tracing light patterns on her lower back. She deepened the kiss between them, and instinctively arched forward, pressing her body more firmly against his.

Her breathing was shallow, and all she wanted was for him to continue exploring her -- to feel every last inch of her. She lifted her arms to grab fistfuls of his hair and tugged firmly. A small moan escaped her when he ran his hands further up her back and gently skimmed the sides of her breasts with his fingertips.

He froze at the sound she made and immediately stopped and pulled away. And automatic pout appeared on her face as she nearly growled in frustration.

“We should stop,” he said in a strained voice.

Hermione sat still, her heart pounded and she felt like a feral cat about to pounce on its prey. Just before she told him to bugger it all to hell, rational thought slowly began returning to her.

He was right.

She nodded. “We should,” she agreed, albeit begrudgingly.

Severus laughed softly at the bitter edge in her tone, and laid down, pulling Hermione down to rest her head on his chest.

He combed through her hair with his fingers, then placed a kiss on her forehead.

“I didn't intend on letting myself become so carried away,” he whispered. “I'm sorry.”

Hermione shook her head in disbelief. Why would he have apologized to her? She had been just as guilty as he was of becoming carried away, as he said.

“You have no reason to be sorry, Severus,” she assured him. “I was just as much involved in that as you were.”

He exhaled deeply. “Still…”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I love you, Severus. So stop.”

Severus squeezed her then kissed her forehead once more. “I love you, too Hermione.”

Hermione smiled as she closed her eyes, exhaustion coming over her while he continued to stroke her hair.

She would have done it, she thought. As soon as she felt his hands on her bare skin, if he had continued to go further, she would have let him. She loved him. She loved him so much that it was nearly painful, and never in her life had she wanted to show that love physically in the way she just desired to with Severus. If they continued to spend each night in the Room of Requirement together, she was sure there was no way she'd have been able to hold out much longer.

When she was in that twilight state, between being asleep and awake, she mumbled just barely loudly enough to be understood.

“Promise you'll always be with me.”

His arms tightened around her. “Forever,” he said with his lips against the crown of her head.

No matter what, she wouldn't ever let him break that promise.


31st December 1976

The days following Christmas were some of the most peaceful and relaxing that Hermione had had since before Voldemort returned at the end of her fourth year, when her whole life had been turned upside down.

She and Severus spent their mornings returning to their common rooms to shower, and more importantly to show their faces to their house mates in order to not raise suspicion of their absences. The early afternoons were spent wandering the castle, or hiding out together in the Room of Requirement. They passed the time by reading, talking about nothing and everything, and also improving Hermione’s skills in Wizard’s Chess. It wasn't that Hermione was bad at the game, but she'd never been able to beat Ron, and that was something that always irked her. It was a shortcoming she was well aware of; she always had to be the best.

Their physical relationship still had not progressed any further than to what she was comfortable with. As much as she knew she loved him, and as much as she wanted to at times, she still wasn't ready. Truth be told, she was terrified. Her inexperience only being the tip of the iceberg of her fears. If Severus became frustrated with her for always stopping things before they'd gone too far, he never showed it. He was more patient and understanding than she ever believed him capable of being.

During the evenings they would join their classmates and the staff who remained at the school for dinner. She wasn't sure if Professor Dumbledore had any knowledge of where two of his students had been sleeping at night. He had never let on if he knew either way. Hermione suspected he was aware, however. Dumbledore always knew everything. But she appreciated the fact that he hadn't called them on it.

New Year's Eve arrived far sooner than she hoped it would. Term would begin again in a few short days, and both of them agreed that when it did, they would no longer use the Room of Requirement, out of fear that they would have been spotted. She would miss falling asleep and waking next to him, but kept the hope alive that they would have many years after she returned home to do so once more.

Neither Hermione or Severus had any elaborate plans to bring in the New Year, since they were both stuck in the castle. Initially the plan was to spend a quiet evening together, and perhaps take a walk down to the Potions classroom to check on Hermione’s antivenin. However, much to both of their displeasure other plans were made instead.

Professor Slughorn wanted to liven things up a bit, and talked Professor Dumbledore into relaxing curfew that evening, and letting the small number of students stay up to have a party of sorts in The Great Hall. With Severus not exactly being the type for parties, and Hermione wanting to make the most of the limited time she had with Severus in the past, neither of them were pleased about losing the opportunity to have remained alone together in their room. But Slughorn left them without a choice, since he mentioned it to them both at dinner the evening before, in front of everyone.

“We won’t stay the whole evening, Severus,” Hermione promised, as he sulked while putting on a clean pair of robes.

They were informed that it was an informal get together, and dress robes would not have been required, so both of them decided that as long as their clothes were wrinkle-free, they would do.

“I don’t really fancy being there either, but as we were both invited in front of my uncle, we should make an appearance,” Hermione continued, while Severus grunted in half-agreement. “Besides, I already think he’s becoming suspicious of where we’ve been disappearing to each night,” she said, as she worked her hair into a loose bun on the crown of her head.

Severus pointed his wand at his shoes, and the laces tied themselves into a neat bow as if being pulled by invisible hands. His face paled ever so slightly at the mention of Dumbledore possibly being aware of where he had been sleeping at night.

Hermione noticed and her mouth curled into a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, my uncle and I seem to have an understanding. As long as he doesn’t blatantly see me doing things he doesn’t approve of, he doesn’t mention it.”

She walked towards him and wrapped her arms around his neck, standing on her toes to kiss him softly. “Like doing this in the middle of the hallway,” she said as she pulled back.

Severus let out a low chuckle. “Right,” he said, rubbing at the back of his neck.

With a resigned sigh, Severus took her hand. “Let's get this over with,” he grumbled and began towing her towards the door.

Hermione giggled at his dry tone, shaking her head as they stepped out into the seventh floor corridor. “Who knows? You might actually have fun,” she teased, bumping her hip into the side of his leg, earning a disagreeing snort from him.

She rolled her eyes. “Honestly, Severus. Am I the only person who gets to see that you’re not as grumpy as you pretend to be?”

“I have a reputation to uphold, you know,” he said, as he smirked down at her.

Hermione threw her head back and laughed. “Of course you do.”

Severus winked in response.

When they arrived to The Great Hall, it had all the markings of a Slughorn get together. Streamers and baubles were hanging above them, and the four large tables had been transfigured into several circular ones instead. Much to her disdain, house elves were summoned to serve food and refreshments to the group of staff and students who remained at the castle. In lieu of a band, there was a record player, belting out a woman who very much reminded Hermione of Celestina Warbeck. A small smile tugged at her lips, thinking of the stories she heard about Molly Weasley and Fleur Delacour the Christmas she was not invited to the Burrow.

Always the gracious host, Slughorn turned to the door and opened his arms, acting as if it were a party filled with dozens of guests as opposed to just a handful of people, comprised of younger students, and some of the staff.

“Severus, m’boy! Hermione!” he shouted jovially over the music, as he walked towards them flourishing his wand to summon a tray of drinks their way. “A very Happy New Year to you both!”

Hermione and Severus glanced at one another, as she plastered a fixed smile on her face.

“Happy New Year to you as well, sir,” she said, taking a glass of Butterbeer from the tray.

It appeared as if Slughorn may had indulged himself a bit before everyone arrived that evening. His cheeks were already flushed, and his eyes were glazed over just slightly, as they fixed themselves on Hermione and Severus’ joint hands. His mustache twitched right before a hearty laugh escaped from him.

“To think, at the beginning of the school year the two of you would hardly look at one another…” he trailed off with a wistful look in his eyes. “Ah, to be young again.”

She felt Severus shift uncomfortably next to her before gently tugging on her arm.

“Right…” said Severus with a quirked eyebrow. “We better find a seat, Professor.”

Slughorn patted Severus on the shoulder. “Enjoy your evening,” he told them. “But not too much,” he laughed with a horrible attempt at a subtle wink.

Severus pinched the bridge of his nose as he let out a loud huff. Hermione’s cheeks went pink.

While the two of them got as far away from their Potions Professor as possible, Hermione was brought up short when a hand gently grasped her shoulder.


She turned around quickly, due to the shock, and found her nose nearly buried in the long auburn and white beard of her pretend uncle. Stumbling backward, she placed her hand over her heart. Dumbledore’s eyes flashed with amusement as he tried to stifle a smile.

“Please, forgive me, Hermione,” he said with the hint of a chuckle in his tone. “But I was wondering if I may have a word?”

Dumbledore’s eyes briefly travelled to Severus, who looked down at Hermione and shrugged.

“I’ll be back shortly,” she told Severus, then turned back towards the Professor. “Certainly, Uncle Albus.”

As always when being summoned by Dumbledore, Hermione’s heart rate increased, not being quite sure of what he wanted to speak with her about. She knew he did not approve of her relationship, and was wondering if he hadn’t been as ignorant to her latest sleeping arrangement as she hoped. Fake uncle or not, he was still an authority figure, also she was still a student under his tutelage, and she knew what they had been doing was breaking quite a few of the school rules.

She wasn’t sure where they were going, as Dumbledore walked out of The Great Hall and through the entrance hall. She followed behind in silence, only the clicking of his buckled boots, and Hermione’s low heels echoed out in the hall between them. Just when she was nearly ready to ask where they were going, Dumbledore stopped near the door of a rarely used classroom. He aimed the light from his wand down the hallway, appearing to be looking for any students or faculty that may had been around, before opening the large wooden door, and ushering Hermione inside.

The room was pitch black, so Hermione took the liberty of waving her wand and lighting the candles around them. She shivered in the drafty room, and pulled her robes around her more securely. Dumbledore strode through the room, and took a seat behind the large desk at the front of the classroom. Hermione quickly made her way to one of the seats in front of him and waited for him to begin.

He took his time before he spoke. Hermione wrung her hands nervously on her lap while he studied her over the tops of his glasses. A frown touched his lips as he steepled his fingers together and sighed.

“Miss Granger,” he finally said, yet the grave tone in his voice caused the hairs on her arms to stand straight. Just from two simple words, she knew this would not be a pleasant conversation.

“Sir?” she asked, her voice just cracking enough to give away her nerves.

“Without giving away the details of your visit, I must know, how close have you come to reaching your intended purpose of travelling here to us?”

Hermione swallowed. Dumbledore’s usual light in his eyes was missing. She had only seen his eyes appear so cool on two different occasions. When he learned that Voldemort had returned, and when he had run past she and Ron on his way to save Harry from Professor Quirrell her first year.

Within a fortnight, her antivenin would possibly have been ready. However, that had not been the reason for her travelling to the past. Yes, that could potentially save Severus’ life in the future, but she still was not sure if she had proved to Severus that that life was worth saving.

“I’m not entirely sure, Professor,” she admitted in a whisper. “Possibly several weeks? Perhaps a bit more?”

Dumbledore closed his eyes as he reached for his glasses, removing them from his face. He nodded to himself while cleaning his lenses with the hem of his robes. After placing them back on his long, crooked nose, he leaned back in his seat.

“Miss Granger, I am fearful of the length of time you have been with us.”

Hermione’s breath hitched. “Sir?”

“You have been with us for much longer than I had anticipated, and in that time have made quite an impact on some of your classmates.” He pierced his eyes into hers. “Some more than others, it would seem.”

He wouldn’t force her to go back to her time, she thought in a small panic. He promised her that he would assist her when she was ready, and she certainly wasn’t ready. Hermione squared her shoulders.

Again, Hermione had suspected that Dumbledore read her thoughts.

“I stand by my word, Miss Granger. I will not force you to return, but I must implore upon you the seriousness of your situation. Most especially your involvement with Mister Snape”

It was as if she was just doused with ice water. She visibly flinched.

Dumbledore hadn’t believed that Hermione knew the risk she was taking? Hadn’t he realized she’d spent weeks agonizing over the potential problems that may have caused? He hadn’t thought she realized that even the slightest slip of the tongue could have potentially destroyed everything she had ever known? A surge of anger shot through her, causing her cheeks to flush. How dare he! She thought in a fury. He was the one who had sent her back in time in the first place! If he had known of the nights she spent tossing and turning, with her mind reeling with the thousands of scenarios regarding what she may had altered! She was widely known as the brightest witch of her age, of course she understood the seriousness of her situation!

“I am more than aware of the risk, Professor,” she said in a measured tone, in a horrible attempt to mask her emotions.

The room went uncomfortably silent. Her Professor’s eyes flickered with something that looked like sadness. The corner of his mouth lifted a hair.

“Right,” he said quietly. “Of you go then, Miss Granger.”

Hermione was taken aback by the abrupt dismissal. Her brow furrowed in confusion as she rose from her seat.

She stood there for a moment, half anticipating Dumbledore to have joined her, but he did not budge.

“I shall rejoin you all momentarily,” he said; a final dismissal.

Hermione nodded once, turned quickly and made her way out of the classroom. She walked briskly, with long strides trying to regain some of her composure before reentering The Great Hall. She would not second guess herself, or the relationship she had allowed herself to get into with Severus. Dumbledore was not as infallible as everyone believed him to have been. He was wrong about her involvement with Severus. She knew that deep in her gut.

When she returned to The Great Hall and slammed herself down into the seat next to Severus, her irritation must had still showed on her face.

“Nice chat with your uncle?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

Hermione huffed as she crossed her arms over her chest. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

His mouth turned down, and she had had a feeling he didn’t want to drop the subject, but something in Hermione’s perturbed expression stopped him from pressing her.

“If that’s what you’d prefer,” he said, then turned his attention back to the biscuit he was eating when she arrived.

Hermione slowly felt her anger begin to deflate, seeing the disappointment on Severus’ face. She reached beneath the table and placed her hand on his knee.

“I’m sorry, Severus. It was nothing, really,” she lied.

After that, Hermione tried to act as if nothing more than polite conversation took place between herself and Dumbledore. She smiled, laughed, and joked with her professors, and made it seem to all as if she were having a lovely time. Severus even stopped glancing suspiciously at her from the side of his eye after about an hour or so. And by the time midnight came around, she joined in with her classmates, letting off poppers and yelling Happy New Year, before sneaking a chaste kiss with Severus.

Shortly afterwards, the two of them made their way back to the Room of Requirement for bed. Only stopping to sit briefly in front of the fire to unwind from the night. She sat with her feet tucked to the side, resting her head on Severus’ shoulder, as he secured his arm around her. He placed a soft kiss on the top of her head, leaving his chin to rest there.

“Happy New Year, Hermione,” he whispered into her hair.

Hermione’s throat tightened as she sat there, thinking of how normal it felt for her right then. She wasn’t thinking of antivenins, Time-Turners, Wizarding Wars, secrecy, death or destruction. All she thought of was how comfortable and calm she felt in his arms. He was still - for the most part - untainted and undamaged. And yet, in just a year’s time, the young man next to her would become a Death Eater.

How badly she wished she could make everything else disappear, and for this normalcy to be her life. She wished she could shield him - shield everyone she cared for - from the pain and suffering that was just on their horizons, and in her past. If only she could find Tom Riddle and snuff his life out, before he had the chance to cause so much chaos. But time was too fragile to have even seriously considered it. And she had already risked enough. As much as it pained her, she would have to let things unfold, no matter how horrible they would become.

“Happy New Year, Severus,” she responded softly.

***

3rd January 1977

Monday morning Hermione awoke for the first time since before Christmas in her dormitory. The students were due to arrive that day, and she and Severus agreed it would have been best for them not to spend the previous night together, due to all of the staff being back in the castle.

It was strange waking alone, she thought, as she subconsciously reached across the bed for a body that was not there. She frowned to herself before lazily climbing from her bed, and heading off to the showers to enjoy one last morning of having a bathroom to herself. After she was dressed and ready for the day, she made her way down for some breakfast, sitting one last time at the Slytherin table with Severus. As per usual, he had already fixed her coffee before she sat down across from him.

“How did you sleep?” she asked before taking a sip from her mug.

“Not as well as I have been,” he admitted. The dark circles beneath his eyes only confirming what he said.

She felt a bit of satisfaction knowing that he had missed sleeping next to her as well. Hermione smiled warmly. “The same for me,” she told him.

The two of them then ate their breakfast in a comfortable silence, while Hermione paged through The Daily Prophet. Familiar stories of disappearances of both Wizards and Muggles littered the periodical; tale tell signs of the beginnings of the first Wizarding War. She found herself deep in thought, thinking of the parallels between what she had experienced in her time, as well as what she had been reading about in the past. It amazed her how much things felt the same. She remembered Harry telling her once of how Sirius said that it felt like before, just prior to the war starting, and she was now understanding exactly what he had meant.

After breakfast Hermione and Severus had a walk around the grounds, just killing time before the rest of the school returned. They returned to the castle at lunchtime, and went over their assignments, which were given for them to do over the holidays, making sure everything had been completed. Their little respite truly felt over then. Things would return to normal the following day, and Hermione felt herself longing more time.

She couldn’t explain it, but the beginning of the new term felt like an alarm clock had been set. There was just this feeling in her gut that told her she did not have much longer there, until she needed to return. She just knew that before the end of this term was over, she would be going home.

***
A/N
Hey everyone!

I'm so sorry for the looong wait with this chapter. RL has been a little not so great at the moment. My aunt isn't doing too well. I know I mentioned it in a review response, but she's been recently diagnosed with cancer. She's having a difficult time with the chemo, and just hasn't been herself, which has been really tough to watch. But I just want to thank everyone for the kind words and the well wishes. Honestly, it's truly meant a lot to me. *hugs you all*

I was trying to write here and there when I could, and when my muse wanted to cooperate. I hope that you all enjoy the chapter! I'm actually really excited about the next chapter, to be honest. I promise it's not going to be another two months before the next update. I'm going to try to get it up soon. :)

Thank you all for the amazing reviews, favorites, and for reading! Love you all!!



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