Disclaimer & Story Warnings: The characters and the world of the HARRY POTTER universe belong to JKR. The plot is mine. This story plot is rated MATURE. If you are not 18 years or older, this story is not for you. You have been warned!
Hermione woke slowly during the middle of the night with the need to use the bathroom, only to discover that she was no longer in the dank, dark cell. She took a moment to look around the room, from the full-sized bed with its four posters and black hangings to the simple English oak furniture around it. Across from the bed was a massive fireplace with a small settee and a small table in front of it, next to a door that she assumed led out of her room. On the other side of the room from the bathroom door there was a large window that flooded the room with the moonlight. Momentarily forgetting her need for the bathroom, she walked slowly to the window and looked out over the grounds that were obviously several floors below her. Her view was of the greenhouses and the dark forest beyond. Smiling softly to herself, she left the window and went to inspect the bathroom.
This room, too, was simple but more luxurious than the bathroom she’d been used to during her years as a student. There was a shower and a garden tub next to a marble sink and a massive mirror. Next to the small door that led to an enclosed lavatory was another door, which she opened to discover a walk-in closet that already housed everything she’d had with her before she was sent away to prison. Smiling, she stepped forward and picked out a simple pair of jeans and a black tee-shirt.
After relieving her discomfort, she
started the shower and washed her hair. She winced again and again as her hands snagged in the tangles, and she wished she had her wand to untangle them. After her shower and a short search she found her comb in a small drawer near the sink and went to work, attacking the numerous knots and mats that had built up over the last two months. After forty minutes of struggle her hair was quite bushy, but at least she could say there was not one tangle left.
With a grumbling stomach she left the bathroom and re-entered her room. She looked toward the door that had to lead out into the castle somewhere, but she hesitated, not knowing whether she was allowed to be seen or not. After several minutes of debating, another growl from her stomach made up her mind for her, prompting her to open the door and peek out into the hall. Shock crossed her face as she recognized the once-dusty third floor corridor on the right-hand side, the very one where she and her two best friends had found Hagrid’s three-headed dog in their first year at Hogwarts. Knowing that this corridor was still off limits though the massive beast was long gone from the grounds, she made her way down the hall, checking doors as she went, only to find them all locked—including the one that led to the main stairwell. Frowning, she went back to her room, knowing she would have to wait until the Headmistress came to visit to request some food.
She thought briefly of Flooing the kitchens and disturbing the house-elves, but that too seemed risky since she didn’t recall whether the Unspeakables had said she was allowed to be seen by them. So with her stomach still grumbling, she lay back on the bed in her clean clothes and drifted back into an exhausted sleep.
Severus was scowling and sipping his tea when the Headmistress caught his eye with a knowing stare and motioned at the door. After downing the rest of his scalding hot tea, he left his seat at the high table overlooking the students of Hogwarts and made his way through the castle to the third floor. When he reached the door that led to the off-limits portion of the third floor he waved his wand, opening the door—a security spell that recognized only him and Minerva—and entered the hall. His nerves were on end. Starting today he would have to see Hermione Granger on a regular basis, and due to their recent history he was at a loss as to how he should react and what he should say, outside of the obvious. Fixing an unreadable expression on his face, he approached the door to her room and knocked loudly. The noise startled her; he heard her stumble to the door, and then she was swinging it open as she wiped her hand across her face. Obviously she had been asleep.
“Miss Granger, follow me,” he said, turning to head for the door she had been curious about. He waved his wand again and stood back, motioning for the curious and nervous Hermione to enter ahead of him. She gasped audibly as she took in the two-story-high room she entered. It was almost like a combination of several parts of the castle, all put together. On the far left side was a wall of windows that seemed to reach around half the room on the circular walls; in front of them was a small dining table with four simple chairs and a cabinet that was low to the ground but quite long. Directly in front of her was a loveseat flanked by two cushy chairs and a low coffee table. Behind that was a massive shelf that conformed to the curve of the walls and reached to the ceiling two stories up; it was utterly stuffed with books and had a rolling ladder attached to enable one to reach the upper shelves. On the right were a beautiful desk and chair made out of more of that simple English oak. The whole room gave the impression of a loft, except for the fact that it was obviously in the magical world.
Hermione shook her head and turned to see Severus watching her closely, with a pinched look on his face. Her cheeks flamed as she realized she had kept him waiting while she looked around, and she turned fully to give him her undivided attention.
Severus cleared his throat and shut the door behind him, motioning for her to sit on the loveseat. “Miss Granger, as I have no doubt your keen mind has picked up by now, this and the bedroom next door will be your home for the next year. Obviously, in this area of the castle you will be insured privacy, which will help the three of us keep your presence a secret from the world in general. You are no doubt aware that if you were to be discovered here, you would go back to Azkaban. So Minerva felt it prudent to see that you have these rooms to help you not feel so…imprisoned,” he said, sitting down across from her awkwardly.
“Sir, if I’m not to leave these rooms, how would anyone discover I was here? I’m sure you and the Headmistress have cast some seriously powerful spells to keep everyone out of this area….”
“As I was about was about to say before you started to yammer on impatiently, Minerva is quite averse to the idea of you spending the entire year inside the castle walls, much less these two rooms. So on occasion, when I find I am not busy, I am to escort you on—walks, shall we say—outside of the castle so you don’t get ‘cabin fever’, as the Muggles say.” He sounded more than peeved at the idea.
Hermione nodded her head since she could not form the words to respond. She was about to push herself to ask about food when her stomach betrayed her quite loudly. Severus, to her surprise, smirked when he heard the sound of her stomach grumbling.
Clearing his throat again, he went on. “As far as meals are concerned, there will be a house-elf here shortly who will be in charge of tending to your needs. She will be the soul of discretion as far as your identity is concerned. Should you need to speak with me or the Headmistress, she will pop in to get us, though I suggest you limit that sort of thing to emergencies only, or during the nights, since we do not want anyone to become suspicious of a lone house-elf showing up to call me or Minerva away all the time.”
He and walked over to the desk and pointed to a stack of papers he had placed there while she slept. “This is some of the work the students in the first through fourth years have been doing. The Headmistress’ orders are for you to take it easy, but I know you for the workaholic you can be and would rather not be disturbed simply because you are bored. So…when you feel up to it, you have two weeks to read through these. Not only do you need to acquaint yourself with the work and what you will be grading, but I want you to pay close attention to the way I have graded these assignments.
“I have been known as a bully, and by other words I would rather ignore, for my harsh way of teaching. But I think you may truly understand the reasoning behind my methods if you study these papers thoroughly. I am placing a great responsibility in your hands, and I want to make sure you will not deviate from my method. Do you understand me, Miss Granger?” he asked suddenly, watching her closely.
“Yes, sir, Professor. I really do need to eat first, but I’ll get started on reading those today. I promise to do my best to—” she began, only to be interrupted.
“Fine. I must be going, since I have class in less than three minutes. Good day, Miss Granger.” Severus dismissed her without waiting to hear anything in return, and swept from the room as only Snape could do.
Hermione watched the closed door in wonder for several moments as she considered the man who had just been standing there. If she wasn’t mistaken, she would have sworn he was nervous in her presence. Moments later her wandering thoughts were interrupted by a loud pop behind her, announcing the arrival of her new companion.
Hermione stood up and smiled at the small creature who bowed low until its ears touched the floor. “Hi, I’m Hermione. Nice to meet you,” she said, ignoring the bowing as best she could.
The house-elf was not exactly what Hermione was used to. She was wearing the standard Hogwarts tea towel, but her looks were quite striking for a house-elf. Her eyes were a most unique shade of green, almost pewter in color. The house-elf was clearly female, since she spoke with a high, squeaky voice that reminded Hermione of Winky.
“Is an honor to meet Missy Granger. I is Snarky. I shall be having the honor of seeing to your needs while you are here, and Missy is not to worry—Snarky will not be saying anything about you’s being here. The Headmistress is being a wonderful and deserved mistress of Hogwarts, and I would not be messing up a chance to make her be proud. Is there anything Snarky can be getting you for eating, Missy?”
Hermione smiled at the charming creature—especially after hearing it call itself “Snarky”, a term that immediately brought Severus Snape to mind. “Yes, please, Snarky. I would love some breakfast. Whatever the kitchen is serving for the rest of the school is fine,” she said kindly.
Snarky nodded and snapped her fingers, producing a large tray filled with dishes only seconds later which she carried over to the small dining table. “Is there anything else Snarky can be getting for Missy?” Snarky asked after arranging a plate for Hermione and helping her with the chair.
Looking at the bottles that accompanied her dishes, Hermione pointed and asked, “What are these, Snarky?” curious as to their contents.
Snarky handed the first one to Hermione and replied, “They be potions that Headmistress wishes Missy to drink to get better. Headmistress be saying you weak and not healthy, so you’s be needing to take these for a few days to get you’s strength up.”
Hermione smiled at the implied order that was in Snarky’s tone. She reached for the offered potion and started to drink under watchful eyes. She knew, as she finished her potions and started in on her food, that she would like Snarky very much.
Students smiled timidly and appeared eager to rush on to their next classes as Minerva passed among them on her way down to see Severus. Her last class of the day was over and there were several minutes until his last class started; and as she was about to attend a meeting with the Board of Governors that would surely take the rest of her afternoon, she knew now was the time to check in on Hermione and see how she found her new quarters. Minerva shooed two students on their way who were throwing paper airplanes with their wands, then rounded the corner and stepped into Severus’ briefly empty classroom.
“To what do I owe this pleasure, Minerva? I thought you had a meeting with the Board,” he said, sounding bored.
“How did this morning go? How is she?” Minerva asked, taking a seat in his chair behind the desk.
“She is alive and has better quarters than most who live here, Minerva. She is fine,” he stated, irritation lacing his words.
He frowned down on Minerva as she replied, “That’s all? She’s fine? Severus Snape, tell me how she really is. I believe it would be a miracle of the highest kind if she was to be completely healed overnight. And how did she find her quarters? Did she have any concerns? Did you make it plain that she was not to do any work until she is fully recovered?”
“Yes, she is fine. She is not quite healthy yet, but she looked rested and clean—albeit her hair seemed fuzzier than I remember it. She seemed to like the quarters and she didn’t have any concerns. She was quiet and, I think, thankful. And, yes, I told her you didn’t want her to do any work until she’s better,” he added hastily, knowing it wasn’t a lie but omitting the fact that he’d left her some work to do anyway.
“When did you plan for your first venture about the grounds with her?” Minerva asked, smirking when his faced took on a pained look.
“I explained that I would be escorting her out of the rooms on days when I was not overly busy, but I didn’t set a specific time. I figure by your own orders she should eat some food and regain some of her strength first, before she ventures out of her rooms,” he hedged.
“Fine. I’ll expect to hear daily reports about her well-being, even if you have to stop your own work long enough to Floo me, understand?” Minerva said stiffly as she rose from the seat and started for the door.
“Yes, Headmistress, will do,” Severus replied, irritated all over again.
Minerva left him alone with his thoughts, which were frustrating enough that he found himself watching the clock, counting the minutes before his next class would start. Thoughts of Hermione Granger plagued him for the rest of the afternoon.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this... I would really enjoy some reviews to hear your thoughts! More soon... *HUGS*