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Chapter 8 : Settling In
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Hermione’s nose was buried in the papers that were scattered around her while her hand seemed to move of its own accord across a piece of parchment. Severus cleared his throat and held back a smirk when the papers and quill in her hand went flying. “P-professor, sir. I…didn’t hear you come in,” she said in surprise as she scrambled to pick up the papers and arrange them as she had had them before. She frowned in frustration when she noticed the messy ink blots on the parchment she had been writing on, knowing she would have to start that whole page over since she didn’t have her wand to clean it up.
Severus noticed the frown and reached for the sheet of parchment without asking. After siphoning the ink away from the paper, he looked it over. He looked at her briefly as he walked over to one of the chairs and sat down to look over her work. His mind wandered as he read her thoughts, which were about him since the parchment was basically a report that studied the reasoning behind Severus Snape’s method of teaching. The work was thorough and quite revealing, something that disturbed him more than he thought was possible.
Hermione, to her credit, sat as calmly as she could manage while she waited for his verdict on her work. But after five minutes clicked by on the clock above his head she started to fidget, and finally had to speak up. “Sir, I realize this is a bit awkward, but I was only doing what you told me to,” she blurted out, nearly stammering in her earnestness as she continued. “I hope you don’t take it the wrong way—well, you shouldn’t really; I mean, it’s just a report, you know? To help me understand how you think and teach so I can do my utmost to help you when I grade papers and such….”
Severus put the piece of parchment down, avoiding looking directly at her. He stood up and started to walk around the room while he carefully considered his words. “Miss Granger, you have nothing to be worried about. I find no flaws in your work, which I’m sure you expected. I appreciate the work you put into understanding my…methods. I just hope you are not overdoing it, since I will be facing a very angry Headmistress if you fail to recover your health.” He stopped walking and finally turned to look at her.
Hermione looked like a deer caught in the headlights just before she controlled herself and smiled lightly. “Thank you…sir—Professor. I…was just a bit worried you would take my research the wrong way, but I also wanted to do my best—”
“No need for any more of your stammering, Miss Granger. I think you’re finished for today, so be sure to have the elf bring you some food, and get your rest. Good evening, Miss Granger,” he replied stiffly as he made his way to the door.
Just as he was closing it he heard a very soft reply. “Good evening, sir.”
As soon as the door closed a pop sounded behind her. Hermione jumped up to see that Snarky was there to deliver a tray without having been asked. Hermione followed the little elf to the table and helped her uncover a delicious smelling pot roast dinner. “Snarky, were you listening in just now…when the Professor was here? Is that how you knew to bring the food right away?”
“I is having a special spell attuned to Missy so I know when you need to eat. I heard Sir say you needed to eat, so I got the tray for Missy,” the elf stated simply.
“Snarky, do you mind me asking how you came to have that name?” Hermione asked, motioning for the little elf to take a seat across from her.
“I is being a little elf when I be arriving at Hogwarts to begin life’s work. I didn’t yet have a name so the great Headmaster Dumblydore be telling me to think of a name. I be spending days around the castle trying to find a witch or wizard that I would be liking to be named after. Not three days later I be summoned by the Headmaster and asked to look in on the new Potions Master. As I helped Madam Pomfrey tend to a wound on his head, she be telling him what a Snarky Troll he was. I liked Sir from the first time I met him because I had been knowing elves who worked for old friends of his and I be knowing he wasn’t as bad a wizard as he be pretending. So I went straight back to Dumblydore and told him my name was Snarky,” she replied, watching Hermione carefully since she seemed to choke a bit on a bit of food. “Is Missy okay?” Snarky asked suspiciously.
“I’m fine. Hmm, I uh, didn’t realize you knew Professor Snape. That’s all,” Hermione remarked with a smile. That is so…! she thought as she considered the little elf who had named herself after an insult given to Severus Snape—like it was a true honor to name oneself after an intended insult. She smiled wryly at the little elf as she went on to eat her food under Snarky’s watchful eyes.
Severus swept through the castle halls in a confused and irritated daze, and before he knew it he was back in his own quarters. The drawing room seemed different somehow as he entered his rooms. He had hardly spent any time in this room through all the years he had lived here. Mostly when he considered the bare and dusty room, it provoked only bad memories of him Flooing in and out of the fireplace to hell and back; meeting with Dumbledore after participating in horrors he would rather forget but having to regale the Headmaster with every detail of his evenings with the Death Eaters. Pain, plain and simple.
But standing there in that moment he sensed that something else had happened in this room, or someone else had been in it. Waving his wand, he cast a few detection spells which revealed that someone had been here as recently as a few months ago. Panic started to seize him as he walked into his bedroom and, again, felt the presence. As well as in the closet, the bathroom, and even in his private laboratory and office. Incensed at the idea of someone intruding in his private haven, he left his room just moments after he had arrived and headed straight for Minerva’s quarters. After knocking incessantly on the door it was finally opened by an irate looking Headmistress dressed in a tartan nightgown with a matching robe and hat.
“What is the meaning of this, Severus?” she asked, even as she tied the robe shut and pushed past him into her private office.
“I demand that you tell me exactly who was in my rooms this past spring. I’ve sensed it, and the spells all point to the presence of a stranger in my rooms, Minerva!”
“Oh, calm yourself this instant, Severus. There was no stranger in your rooms. Only Miss Granger,” Minerva stated tiredly as she took a seat behind her desk across from the still standing Severus.
He stared at her with his fierce gaze while he tried to calm himself down. “You mean to tell me she stayed in my rooms? My private rooms that were for my own personal use? What were you thinking?” he shouted.
Minerva scowled at his tone as she answered, “Imagine yourself in my place, Severus. Imagine I had died and you were still responsible for a school and needed to take the necessary steps to hire a new teacher. Wouldn’t it seem prudent to have the previous teacher’s rooms cleared out and made ready for use by a new tenant? That is what happened, Severus. I very much resent you barging in here and snapping at me over something as trivial as someone stepping foot in rooms you are lucky to once again call home.”
Severus slumped down into the chair and pinched his nose in frustration. “Don’t you understand, Minerva, that my entire life seems to have been invaded by…that know-it-all? First she stays in my private rooms, going through my private things, and then she saves my life. Now she is here under my supervision writing detailed reports that reveal more about me than anyone has ever known. Surely you realize how a very private person such as myself would find the idea of someone knowing so much about me intolerable. Not to mention the fact that she saved my life, which means I owe her a debt! It’s unbearable. I’m still….” He stopped the thought before he could voice it.
Minerva smiled kindly at him in understanding before finishing his words for him. “You still don’t know if you would rather have stayed dead.” She nodded her head in understanding, then waved her wand and conjured two glasses of Firewhisky. She took a sip of hers and waited until he had finished his own before she continued. “Severus, I don’t think for one second that you truly wish you were still dead. If you had, you would never have taken the antidote. That suggests to me that you wanted to live. The problem as I see it is that now, the war is over. Riddle is dead and the Death Eaters are no more. You are alive and you have every possibility available to you, not the least of which is life itself. You can truly live now, Severus. I think that frightens you because you are so used to dealing every moment with the next big danger lurking around the corner. Now that part of your life is behind you, and the future is a blank slate. Yes, you owe a debt to Miss Granger for that, but why should you fear it? You should be thankful; and I think if you meditate on that for a while you will realize you should seize every moment. Now, if you will excuse me, it’s late and I have another early meeting with the Governors—so good night, Severus.” She stood and headed for the door.
Severus left her office and made his way back to his empty drawing room. He spent the rest of the night contemplating Minerva’s words.
Hermione had her head buried in the books and papers around her, oblivious to the door that opened and closed. It had been nearly a week and a half since Severus Snape had seen her, choosing instead to summon Snarky should he wish to convey a message or send papers to Hermione to look over. She had been working for him officially for the past three days, grading essays and regular homework for the first through fourth year Potions students. After double-checking the papers that arrived en masse every day, he was forced to admit—only to himself, of course—that Hermione was doing a great job grading papers in his name. He could not fault her efforts. However, he had come to realize tonight would be the perfect night to escort her outside the castle walls; he could see the dark circles under her eyes that spoke volumes of the hours she was working instead of resting. He cleared his throat and held back a smirk when she jumped once again.
Hermione set her quill down before speaking. “Sir, I didn’t hear you come in. Is there a problem?” she asked, carefully masking her nerves as best she could manage.
Severus ignored her and walked forward with his arm held out, a cloak draped over it. “Stand up. I need to Disillusion you before you put the cloak on so we can be sure you are not seen,” he ordered as he pulled his wand out. Just as he was pointing his wand at her to cast the spell, he noticed that she was barefoot and dropped his wand. “Do you always walk around without shoes on, Miss Granger?” he asked, carefully masking his bewilderment with irritation.
“Oh, sir, I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve been in these rooms for so long, I didn’t see a need to wear them. I tend to put my feet up while I’m working, and I didn’t want to scuff the furniture,” she replied. She bent down next to the loveseat to retrieve her sneakers and started to pull them on over her blue socks.
“Enough. Just hurry up, please,” Severus said, sighing in frustration.
“Do you mind me asking where we’re going to walk?” Hermione asked as she finished tying her laces and stood straight, waiting for him to Disillusion her.
He waved his wand and cast the magic that made her nearly invisible before handing her the cloak. “We are going to walk the edge of the Dark Forest,” he replied. “If we happen to run into anyone in the halls, make sure they don’t run into you while you are invisible, and make sure to be quiet. Once we reach the forest you may take the cloak off and I will temporarily remove the spell.” When he reached the door, he motioned for her to go ahead of him.
“Sir, where did you come by Harry’s cloak?” she asked as she waited for him to close her door and they proceeded towards the exit into the main castle. “I can’t imagine him giving it up without an explanation.”
“The Headmistress persuaded him to give it to her. I am unaware of how she managed to convince him; you’ll have to ask her,” he rejoined with annoyance.
“Sorry, sir,” Hermione countered, just as Severus was about to open the door.
He stopped to looked where her voice had been, a look of confusion briefly crossing his otherwise stoic features. “Let’s get this over with,” he retorted as he opened the door.
A/N: Hmmm, I can’t see what else to add without making this chapter twice as long… and I just can’t do that lol. Thank you for reading…I hope you enjoyed it! *HUGS* (the next chapter will pick up where this left off…so keep a look out! *Smiles evilly*)
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