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Chapter 20 : The Madness Within
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Chapter 19: The Madness Within.
Hermione smirked at her reflection in her bathroom mirror. Today classes resumed and Hermione and Lily had their own little mission for this term. Yesterday morning before they had all packed their trunks and come back to Hogwarts, Mrs Potter had pulled both of them aside and gifted them each a copy of a book that her mother had given her. It was a lot like the book Hermione had bought in London with Lily about the art of seduction, but instead of only speaking to ways in which to draw a lover to you, these books had a broader range of information on the subject.
A Woman’s Feminine Wiles was the name of it and as Hermione and Lily had thumbed through it they had learned a great many things about how to become the type of woman who commands attention upon entering a room. The type of woman who can stop a man in his tracks with just a glance. They had learned that there was far more to it than just selective clothing. It was an art form that had once been learned by women the world over.
Mrs Potter had informed them both that in the olden days it had been a man’s world and women were expected merely to be seen and not heard. They were expected to look beautiful at all times, never be seen alone with a man who was not their husband, and sit pretty and silent while Men dominated the world. Mrs Potter had smiled when she told them that there had come a time that women grew tired of being nothing but beautiful wall flowers, a time when they wanted to have more power than just that of their husband and they had found a way that would not have them cast out of their homes and marriages, but would also achieve them a greater opinion in the eyes of their husbands.
Hermione had learned overnight that it was more than just clothing. It was a physical presence that she must carry with her. That she must carry herself in such a way that showed she was mature and to be taken seriously, that she had self confidence and a core of steel. All of this was tempered with a softness that only a woman can possess. She’d gotten up extra early this morning so that she could work on her new look, not just her physical appearance but her presence and the way she carried her body. It had to be sensual yet strong, soft yet powerful.
Hermione wasn’t sure she had managed it entirely but she felt she was well on the way to succeeding at it with a little practice. She and Lily had also gotten together yesterday to discuss the new way they would wear their uniform. In the past both Hermione and Lily had worn their school skirts long, well beyond the knee, with dark stocking and sensible, comfortable shoes. But last night that had both magically altered the length of their skirts. However Hermione had made sure, upon instruction from the book Mrs Potter had given her, that there was nothing inappropriate about the new length. It was not so short as to be seen as tarty or break the rules, but it was no longer just a loose hanging drapery of fabric around her legs either.
Taking one last glance in the mirror at her loose long hair and her eyes that twinkled from beneath her thick fringe as though she had a secret, Hermione adjusted her bag on her shoulder and her gloss covered lips smiled sensually back at her. Lily was waiting for her in the common room when Hermione came downstairs and they shared a secretive smile as they heard the Marauders laughing from the boy’s stairs. They spilled into the common room in a handsome mess, chuckling wickedly as they planned out the prank they would play on the Slytherin students today and Hermione felt herself smirk just a little wider when all four boys stopped suddenly as they caught sight of the girls.
Hermione wondered how different she and Lily must look to usual that the boys were quite literally gobsmacked to see them. Peter was staring at them with his mouth hanging open and Remus was watching them with an intrigued gleam in his eyes. James’s eyes were fixed on Lily and they roved over her like he was dying to touch her with his hands the way he did with his eyes. But Hermione couldn’t keep her eyes off Sirius.
His shoulder length black hair was wavy and still damp from his shower, his tie was loose around his neck beneath his Gryffindor jumper in spite of it being morning. His eyes were fixed on Hermione and his mouth, even though it was open slightly in shock, still turned up at the corners. His eyes glittered with desire as he stared at her and Hermione couldn’t keep from smirking wickedly at him as she thought about the motorcycle ride they’d taken the other day.
Sirius had doubled her all the way into London where he insisted that he be allowed to buy her a hot chocolate. They’d spent half the day alone together in London and when they’d gotten back to Potter Manor, Sirius had parked his bike in the little shed so they cold both get back off it. There in the darkness of the shed he had pulled Hermione close and kissed her again the way he had at New Years Eve that made her tingle all over and made her want to kiss him passionately.
They hadn’t spoken about it again since then, and Hermione wasn’t really sure what was going on with her and Sirius. After all, she’d woken him on New Year’s Day, he had invited her into bed with him and Hermione knew that the kissing they had done then as they teased and tormented each other was a whole lot more significant than just a kiss between friends. And then she’d kissed him again that afternoon so now Hermione had no idea if he fancied her or was still just having fun trying to get her into bed with him.
As she watched him Hermione couldn’t help thinking that for now it would be best if she just kept on playing the coy little game they were playing as she tried all of his tricks on him that so made girls fall in love with him. Maybe with the help of the little books she’d been reading she could make him fall for her instead of just wanting to get into her knickers.
“Should we get some breakfast? I’m starving.” Hermione said, trying to hold in her giggle as she turned to Lily. Lily looked ready to giggle too but she played the part she knew she must; that of the aloof, alluring woman.
“Oh do let’s” she chirped happily back to Hermione without acknowledging the boys any further. Hermione winked at her as Lily looped her arm through hers and they both turned and headed for the Great Hall with the boys trailing along behind them. On the way they chatted about homework and classes and an appropriate name for their little gatherings of Magical Exploration.
“Hey I know, why don’t we call it ME?” Lily suggested suddenly as they all sat down at Gryffindor table.
“Me? Or You? You want to call it Evans?” Sirius asked confusedly.
“No, I mean ME like M.E. Hermione just referred to it as Magical Exploration and that really is what we’re doing. We’re exploring obscure forms of magic, including some of the dark magics and exploring our own abilities. I think it’s perfect. Magical Exploration, ME for short.”
“It is nice and easy to say when it’s shortened.” Hermione smiled as Sirius dropped into the seat next to her “Does anyone else have a better idea?” Everyone shook their heads as they dug into their breakfast.
“I need to talk to you,” Sirius leaned close and muttered into Hermione’s ear.
“Keepings secrets is no good for anyone Sirius,” Hermione told him.
“I’m well aware of that oh She-of-the-forked-tongue. But I need to talk to you about the fact that three quarters of the school already knows that you told my dear mother that you were pregnant. They’re likely to be whispering about it all day.” Sirius shot back at her.
Hermione turned to look at him and found the grey eyed boy looking at her worriedly.
“Oh Sirius it’s sweet of you to be concerned, but I can assure you that this is not the first time in my life that the entire school as thought I was an awful person and have hated me for untrue rumours. You don’t need to be worried.” Hermione smiled at him reassuringly.
“But what are we telling them?” Sirius murmured, his eyes scanning her face.
“What do you mean what are we telling them? I’m not actually pregnant and since your dad will have told your Mum by now that I’m not, there is really no need to pretend that I’m pregnant when I’m not.” Hermione said, startled by his question.
Sirius looked uncomfortable for a minute as though he wanted to tell her something about the whole conversation, but didn’t want to in front of the rest of their friends.
“You look adorable when you frown like that,” Hermione told him softly, launching into a renewed match of their seduction game. Slowly Hermione reached out and ran her fingers through a lock of his wavy black hair, letting the backs of her fingers brush against his cheek.
Sirius’s eyes darted to Hermione’s face at her tone and at the bold touch and he found her smirking wickedly and realised that in spite of everything that had happened between them over the Christmas break, Hermione was still playing hard to get.
Hermione watched Sirius realise that and watched the way he frowned at her for a second before that familiar heart-breaker smile of his was back on his handsome face.
She jumped when she felt his hand slide across her thigh but Hermione pretended she didn’t notice it as a girl in Hufflepuff robes who looked like a seventh year strode up to their table behind Remus and Peter and glared down at Hermione. She had glossy brown hair that hung down her back like a curtain and a pinched expression.
“Black I heard you knocked up the French girl” She sneered angrily as she kept on staring daggers at Hermione.
“I heard you shagged Snivellus” Sirius countered to the girl breezily around a mouthful of bacon.
“I did not!” She screeched indignantly “Who told you that?”
Sirius just outright laughed at her indignation and his hand never left Hermione’s thigh.
“Should we really believe everything we hear, Boyd?” James threw the question at the girl in such a condescending tone that Hermione suddenly remembered Harry once fretting to her last year about how it seemed like his Dad had been a bit arrogant in school. And right now James Potter sounded incredibly arrogant and looked haughty as he glared at the girl pityingly. “Or should we take everything we hear with a grain of salt?”
“From what I heard it was the two of you who admitted it to your mother, Black.”
“Was it?” Hermione asked mildly, eyeing the girl with distaste.
Realising that they weren’t going to talk to her again when they all resumed eating, the girl – Boyd - stomped off, muttering about arrogant jerks and French tarts.
“Well that was an interesting way to start the morning.” Lily said, trying to lighten the mood as she realised that James was less than pleased to have anyone falsely accusing his friends of things.
“To be fair, I did bring this on both of us,” Hermione said thoughtfully “So I’m sorry that you’re going to be on the receiving end of a lot of negative press Sirius. I ought to think more before I speak.”
Sirius quirked an eyebrow at her apology.
“It was worth it to see that look on my mother’s face ‘Mione.” He told her happily, his hand sliding up and down her thigh lightly.
“We should get to class. We have Care of Magical Creatures and today is a theory lesson on the seventh floor” Remus said to the group when everyone went back to eating.
“If I’d known that I would’ve stopped at the kitchens last night and grabbed some food instead of coming all the way down here this morning.” James grumbled, rumpling his messy black hair irritably.
“The kitchens?” Lily asked curiously “You know where the kitchens are?” then she rolled her eyes at herself “Of course you know where the kitchens are. You know everything about Hogwarts and how else would you get all that food to the parties in the common room when Gryffindor wins Quidditch?”
“I’ll take you there sometime” James promised Lily, his hazel eyes twinkling with happiness as he looked at Lily. When everyone got to their feet and started walking out of the Hall, James offered Lily his hand to hold and Hermione smiled when she watched Lily blush before slipping her hand inside and letting her fingers intertwine with James’s.
But Hermione stopped smiling when she looked up to the door into the Entrance Hall and saw Severus Snape with his greasy long hair and hooked nose and dreadfully pallid skin positively glowering in disgust at the couple’s intertwined hands. Hermione watched him jerk his wand out of his pocket, noticing the white knuckled grip he had on it as he silently jabbed it with such force that Hermione was surprised the tense air around him didn’t puncture.
“No you don’t Snivellus!” Sirius hissed, flashing up a Shield Charm between Snape and the happily oblivious couple. With another twirl of Sirius’s wrist Snape was suddenly hanging in the air by his ankle with his Slytherin robes hanging down beneath him.
“I see you didn’t get given any shampoo for Christmas, Snivellus. In fact I think your hair is the greasiest it’s ever been. It’s offensive that you don’t wash” Sirius sneered at his victim.
“I’ll kill all of you for this!” Snape hissed angrily.
“No you won’t Severus” she spoke quietly but Hermione noticed the way everyone in the vicinity that had stopped to watch the daily humiliation of Snape, turned towards her at her tone “Severus Snape, you will do nothing of the sort. You provoked this duel because you have poor control of your anger and no regard for anything but your own jealousy and wounded pride. Do not make idle threats and start things that you can’t finish.”
Silently Hermione flicked her wand, releasing Snape from the curse and wincing slightly when he landed in an ungraceful heap. The string of insults, swear words and curses that rushed out of Snape’s mouth made Hermione blush. Snape leapt to his feet, dark eyes searching for another opponent and failing to keep from narrowing in disgust at seeing James and Lily’s entwined fingers.
“Seems that you did need me to tell you that Potter’s an arrogant, useless toe-rag with an inflated head. How could you let him touch you?” He hissed at Lily who flinched at the attack.
Hermione didn’t know which of the Marauders hit Snape with the gagging jinx but he choked on his tongue just as he opened his mouth to spit more unsanitary words at Lily. In spite of the silence Snape managed to hit James with a particularly nasty curse that appeared to electrocute James, and then electrocuted Lily by extension because she was holding James’s hand. Hermione saw Snape wince just the tiniest bit when Lily screamed from the curse which must have hurt since it made her sleek red hair stand on end suddenly like a fiery untamed lion’s mane. James’s hair stood on end too and his metal framed glasses zapped nasty electrical burns against James’s skin before they shot off his face.
Remus leapt to hit them both with a counter curse while Sirius hit Snape with a spell they had found in the book Hermione had picked up in the Potter’s library. It was also a malicious curse which caused boils and scabby sores to spread over Snape’s whole body, many of them bursting and weeping blood and pus.
Snape silently retaliated with a jinx that made Sirius’s hair and eyebrows start to grow at an alarming rate so that within a matter of seconds Sirius couldn’t even see.
At that point Hermione grew tired of their rule breaking and childishness. What was it with Snape that he just didn’t know when to quit?
“ENOUGH!” She roared immobilising everyone. As soon as everyone was frozen
Hermione hit Sirius with a counter curse to stop his eyebrows growing since they were now past his chin and his shoulder length hair now hung to his lower back. Remus had managed to stop Lily and James from crackling and shaking by eliminating the electricity inside them.
“You know Snape” Hermione began in that same soft voice that rang with authority and irritation “It seems to me that you are nothing but a jealous little boy with nobody to love him. And I must say, I think you’re looking for love in all the wrong places. Following James and Sirius around won’t make anyone love you. Delving so deeply into the dark arts that you would use that Electricexcusso curse on another student certainly won’t earn you love. Calling the only real friend you had a Mudblood certainly didn’t win you her love. Now maybe if you’d been more reasonable in life, less prone to such fascination with evil and explosive temper tantrums, and maybe if you’d told Lily sooner how you feel about her instead of fixating on James, you might have had a chance to win her heart. But everything you do now just makes her dislike you even more. Soon she’ll hate you because you can’t see beyond your childish obsession with James Potter. Maybe you ought to confess your love to him instead. You’d have about as much chance of having your affections returned.”
With that Hermione stopped speaking, knowing it wasn’t right to say so much in front of all the gathered students who were once again watching Snape be humiliated. She’d said too much, but the greasy haired by who had once been her Potions Professor really needed to get a clue and stop starting duels with the Marauders since he always ended up humiliated.
There was something else about him that was bugging her and before Hermione released them all from their temporary immobilisation, she aimed her wand right at Snape, whose eyes glittered with rage as he death-stared her. Hermione pretended not to see the hatred that boiled within him as she murmured a soft spell to cure him of his most picked on and no doubt hated imperfection.
With a flick of her wand Hermione watched her spell curl towards Snape and wrap around his head. His eyes showed his shock when the spell didn’t hurt him at all and Hermione tried to offer him a kind smile to convey that she meant him no harm. She had spent far too long during her own schooling being picked on for her physical imperfections. She’d always detested her frizzy, bushy hair and her buck teeth and Hermione knew that in his heart Snape would hate himself just as much for his own greasy hair that earned him cruel names such as “Slime ball”. And Hermione had happened upon a book in her fourth year that told of how to remedy all kinds of bad hair and beauty imperfections.
Even as the spell she’d hit him with delved into the skin of Snape’s scalp and cured him of the greasiness he so often sported Hermione released everyone and summoned James’s glasses from where they had fallen to the ground after they shot off his face. As she caught them, Hermione lifted up examining the shattered lenses before repairing them and handing them back to James.
James opened his mouth to shout something at Snape but Hermione clapped her hand over his mouth.
“James Potter if you say one word to him, I’m going to electrocute you. Now since this childishness has made all of us late for class I recommend we get going before anyone gets a detention and without anymore duelling!” She snapped angrily before storming off towards the stairwell that would lead to their seventh floor class. People cleared a path for her as she went and Hermione ignored the whispers of her peers about her supposedly being pregnant and her standing up for Snape while seeming to tear him down and for her incredible magical ability, but Hermione blocked them all out. She resorted to tactics she had learned so well in fourth year when Rita Skeeter had written such awful lies about her; sticking her nose in the air and focusing on her school work more than anything else.
Three weeks later Hermione had finally begun to live down the rumours about her being pregnant. Things weren’t helped by the close relationship she shared with Sirius, who seemed to have decided after their kissing and other touching during the break that he was now free to touch her whenever he liked. Hermione didn’t mind. She had fallen hard for the charming black haired boy and there was a part of her that just wanted to come out and tell him how she felt.
But she kept that secret to herself, believing that if Sirius were to find out how much Hermione fancied him, he would sweet talk her into bed with him and then he would get bored and move on to someone else.
The tricks she and Lily had been learning about talking and acting like a desirable yet unavailable woman were proving particularly effective in gaining them the attention of the entire school. There wasn’t a student within Hogwarts who didn’t know the names Hermione Peverell or Lily Evans and Hermione often enjoyed the guilty pleasure of having boys stop mid conversation or stop walking with just a sensual glance from them. There was no one she liked to do it to as much as she liked interrupting Sirius that way.
Just when he would be in the middle of a conversation with someone or trying to answer a question in class when called upon, Hermione would glance up at him, her eyes twinkling with a secret and her mouth poised as though begging to be kissed. The times when she did it to Sirius, she also let heat and desire for him glitter in her sensual gaze. Hermione loved to watch him flounder for just a moment within his mind as he lost his train of thought or forgot what he was saying with just a look from her.
“I still don’t think you and Evans should come with us tonight” Sirius hissed at her from where he stood at his cauldron down the bench from her. Hermione rolled her eyes. The full moon was tonight and Hermione and Lily were both looking forward to a chance to run around in their Animagus forms with the boys and Remus as he transformed into a werewolf. But when they had broached the subject with the boys last night, all four had adamantly insisted that the girls weren’t allowed to come with them and run around with a werewolf on the full moon.
Hermione knew it was mostly because they were being stubborn, hard headed boys who thought that she and Lily were too fragile to run around with a werewolf. They didn’t think it was safe, as though the girls would be more at risk than they were. They had even argued that the animagus forms that Lily and Hermione took were inappropriate to spend time with a werewolf because a wolverine was a naturally aggressive creature which the werewolf would respond to, and the fox would be viewed as prey. Hermione had argued that a dog was just as much competition as a wolverine, and that a stag was ideal prey for a hungry werewolf. Peter as a rat could easily find hiding places from the werewolf and the other two were both big animals that could fight off the werewolf. They argued that a wolverine was too big to hide and too small to fight. Which was ridiculous since wolverines were known for being vicious fighters able to drive mountain lions and bears away from a kill. Lily also had an aggressive personality when incensed and Hermione believed she would be able to fight off a werewolf just fine.
They were still at a standoff since Remus was reluctant to allow it even though he was touched that they wanted to help him. Hermione knew that his reasons stemmed from fear that he would hurt her or Lily the way he had hurt Sirius. Sirius had even showed Lily his scars as an argument point of why the girls shouldn’t be allowed.
“That’s not really your decision to make Sirius.” Hermione told him.
“The hell it’s not” Sirius snapped at her, glaring at her through the steam that was coming of his potion. His eyebrows were back to normal and he’d let Hermione cut off some of his hair after Snape’s attack though now it hung mid-way down his back rather than to his shoulders and Hermione couldn’t help but be reminded of the first time she had seen his when it hung to the tips of his elbows. “I’m not letting you risk getting hurt like I did. No way am I letting you take the risk since it won’t just effect you but Remus too if he hurts you.”
Remus was on her other side and he was once again tense and grumpy and seemed to be fighting for control since the full moon was tonight.
“Hermione I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s not just fear of hurting either of you or having you see me like that. I’m not sure it would be safe for you. Specifically you Hermione.” Remus murmured to her as he came up next to her and pretended he was borrowing her silver knife which he obviously couldn’t touch today.
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked him softly, glancing up at him as he lingered by her side. Remus’s golden brown eyes flickered between their human colour and colour of the werewolf’s eyes as he stared down at her.
“He likes you Hermione. And I’m not entirely certain what kind of like it is” Remus murmured. After Hermione had admitted to knowing about Remus being a werewolf, Remus had apologised to her again for the kiss he’d stolen from her, explaining that his condition during adolescence was even harder to control because as well as the werewolf rage, there was also regular teenage hormones running around inside him and when the two combined they made him do strange things.
“I have a habit of attacking you Hermione” Remus told her softly “First when I kissed you and again when I chased you.”
“That wasn’t you Remus. That was the wolf.” Hermione argued softly.
“We’re one and the same Hermione. I don’t want you to be there when I turn into the werewolf because I don’t want to attack you again. As a fox you won’t get the curse, but I could kill you so easily.”
“You’re not the same Remus. You and the werewolf are different entities, that’s why you black out at the full moon. You’re two beings sharing one body. You won’t hurt me. I’m quick as fox and the others will all be there to rescue me if I need it.” Hermione told him.
“You really want Sirius to have to rescue you from me again?” Remus growled. Hermione went cold at the question and at the thought. He’d almost died last time. Sirius had almost died saving her. She couldn’t ask that of him again, nor of James or Lily or Peter. But she also couldn’t sit inside by herself while they all did something together.
“Remus, do you trust me?” Hermione asked him.
The eyes of the wolf stared back at her but Remus nodded.
“Both of you?” She pushed.
“The wolf doesn’t trust anyone. He just hates.” Remus said bitterly.
Hermione knew that was probably true.
“Then I need you trust me when I tell you that I want what is best for you. That I’m strong enough and fast enough to be there tonight. You won’t hurt me or anyone else” Hermione took a deep breath as she stared into the eyes of the werewolf who was rumbling very softly as he growled at being told what to do.
“Remus, do you remember a few weeks ago at ME when I said that another reason I really wanted all of us to be doing the magical exploration and to not have secrets from each other?” She waited for him to nod “Sweetie, I know this one isn’t about secrets, but it’s about trust. I really feel that if the six of us are going to survive everything that is thrown our way, we need to trust each other beyond anything else. We need to trust that no matter what happens, we’ll always all be there for each other, always trust each other, always love each other. And we’ve been making great progress, but I really feel that tonight and every other full moon you live through needs to be spent with us there to help you. The wolf inside you needs to know us and trust us and love us.”
Remus watched her for several long moments as Hermione peered up at him and he looked sad.
“Hermione, he just hates. He doesn’t know how to trust or love. When he takes over I don’t remember who I am anymore. I don’t have any control. I don’t know you or James or Sirius or Peter or Lily. I don’t know my parents. I don’t know anything but bloodlust and rage and loneliness. When I wake up I have no idea where I am or how I got there. How can the wolf trust you when I can’t even trust him?”
“But he does trust us mate” Sirius interrupted softly “When we all come into the shack with you as a werewolf you don’t attack us. Maybe because we’re animals and werewolves are driven to hate humans, but you don’t attack us.”
“I attacked you!” Remus growls “I almost killed you. How can you argue I don’t attack when I did?”
“Remus….” Hermione began thoughtfully as her mind began to unravel possibilities
“I really think that after this class we all need to get together, some place safe where no one will overhear us or interrupt us. I think you and me need to have a little talk about a whole lot of things. Can we postpone this discussion until then? Class will be over in ten minutes.”
“What’s going on in that head Hermione?” James asked her from across the work bench, smiling a little when he noticed the gleam in her eyes that he’d come to know meant she had an idea. Hermione just winked at him and went back to stirring her potion.
When the class was over Hermione bottled up some of her potion and labelled it before taking it to Slughorn’s desk. Everyone else was doing the same and Hermione cleaned her work station with a wave of her wand. She had just packed her last book into her bag and was intending to follow Sirius and the others out of the dungeon when her bag split open as she swung it up onto her shoulder.
“Oh no” Hermione groaned as Sirius and all of her friends disappeared out of the dungeon without her. Hermione looked down at the mess at her feet. Her text books and parchment were everywhere and they were covered in ink from one of the smashed ink pots. Hermione grumbled to herself as she stooped down to gather up her things, pulling out her wand to repair her bag and then get the ink off her textbooks and parchment.
“Just a little know-it-all, aren’t you?” A soft voice hissed from above her as Hermione flicked her wand trying out a neat little spell she had read about that lifted the ink out of her parchment and off her things and magically siphoned it into the ink pot she had repaired.
“Excuse me?” Hermione shot to her feet, her wand trained on the face of the speaker.
Severus Snape loomed over her and Hermione wondered how he had gotten so close to her without her noticing since he stood less than a meter from her, glaring down at her. He curled his lip at her, whipping out his own wand just as quickly when he saw her narrow her eyes at him.
“What do you want?” Hermione demanded.
“Why would I want anything from a pathetic little know-it-all?” Snape spat back.
“Why else would you talk to me?” Hermione shrugged, then her eyes narrowed further as she realised they were the only two left in the dungeon. “You made my bag split open, didn’t you?”
Snape smiled evilly and Hermione knew that he had.
“Had to get you away from the egotistical pillocks somehow.”
“Why?” Hermione asked suspiciously.
“What did you do to me?” Snape asked her with a vague motion towards his head without answering her question.
“You mean the spell I hit you with the other day?” Hermione inquired.
Snape nodded his head. Hermione eyed his hair and was pleased to see that the spell she’d done had worked, his hair was no longer greasy and Hermione also noticed that some of the pimples and acne he’d sported had cleared up too. Though whether that was from the spell or from the disappearance of his greasy hair it was hard to tell. Hermione couldn’t help the slight smug feeling she felt to see that with clean hair and clean skin Snape was far less unappealing to look at, though he still had his long hooked nose and terribly pale skin.
“I would think the answer to that is rather obvious Snape.” Hermione said, still eyeing his clean complexion and now clean hair. Without it being greasy it was a rich shade of black that looked almost silky.
“Just tell me exactly what it was supposed to do?” Snape demanded.
Hermione sighed “I have no idea how to tell you what it did without offending you. But I noticed that one of the favoured insults that are thrown at you derides… well… I suppose referred to the fact that you had greasy hair, making you appear…. Well I believe the word ‘slimy’ has been used before” Hermione bit her lip as she watched Snape’s eyes flash angrily at the words greasy and slimy.
Snape just kept on glaring at her, clearly still waiting for an answer.
“Look Snape, let’s just say that I once knew what it was like to be picked on for my hair, for something I couldn’t do anything about. Since I assume that six years of teasing would’ve made you try almost everything to relieve your bully’s of their ammunition. Once upon a time my hair was thick and bushy and completely out of control but I found a book filled with spells that fixed all kinds of beauty ailments and fixed it. I thought that since you were picked on for your hair too, I would make your life a little easier since I knew how to fix it so you wouldn’t be teased for it anymore.”
“I don’t want your pity!” he hissed, his black eyes glaring his hatred down at her.
“It wasn’t pity that aimed my wand Snape. It was empathy. I’ve been picked on for things beyond my control, things about my appearance or who I am and where I come from. I knew how to help you and I knew you would never willingly accept my help. So I took the liberty of helping you without your permission. I can probably reverse the spells if you want your hair to be oily again, but you look nicer this way.”
If Hermione hadn’t been watching him so closely, expecting an attack, she might have missed the shock that crossed Snape’s face. But Hermione saw it and she knew enough about the boy in front of her who had once been her bitter, nasty potions professor, to know that while he would never admit to it, he was shocked and secretly pleased by what Hermione had done.
“What else did your spell do?”
“Nothing that I know of, it was specifically designed for hair, though it may have effected your complexion slightly as well,” Hermione told him.
“No, that’s not all. It’s been messing with my head, interrupting my thoughts, making me think strange things.” Snape argued with her, his voice sneering at her.
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“I can assure you that’s not the case Snape. That spell does nothing more that eliminate the oiliness from your hair. Anything out of the ordinary inside your head isn’t caused by a spell unless one of your classmates hit you with something. But none of my friends hit you with a spell to meddle around in your mind.”
Snape looked like he didn’t believe her and that angry expression took over his features once more as he hid his worry about whatever was going on inside his head. Hermione bent back down and shoved everything back into her bag and swung it back onto her shoulder.
As she walked away Snape had begun to pace in the darkness of the deserted dungeon classroom.
“Snape?” Hermione called softly over her shoulder as she got to the door. Snape spun towards her, his wand raised again “I know you hate me and my friends, especially after the duel we had at Hogsmede before Christmas, but if you ever decide you’re tired of having people torment you about your nose…. Well, I know a spell that can fix that too.” Hermione stopped again after a few more steps and stuck her head back around the door.
“By the way, you’re welcome.”
As she walked away Hermione could help but hope that maybe she could do something to remedy some for the damage that had been done between Snape at the rest of the world by helping him this way. Hermione suspected that within Slytherin, common courtesy and a friendly act without strings attached were all but impossible to come by and that the only real friend Snape had ever had was Lily Evans. And since being in Slytherin seemed hazardous to the moral compass, Snape had lost that friendship in order to keep from being picked on any more by his house mates. Maybe this little act of kindness would help him realise that not everyone in the world was awful and mean.
Hermione made her way to the common room where she found her friends lounging around the fire.
“Where’ve you been?” Sirius asked her when he saw her come in through the portrait hole.
“Erm, my bag split when I picked it up and made an awful mess.” Hermione said, trying to keep from blushing. She didn’t want to tell them she’d been cornered by Snape since none of her friends knew that the spell she’d hit Snape with weeks ago had made him less greasy.
“Everything ok now?” James asked her, raising his eyebrows sympathetically.
Hermione smiled at him and nodded, wondering how it was that from many different accounts in her old life, James had been called arrogant and conceited and was supposed to have an air of being a spoiled boy loved by all. In this time James didn’t seem incredibly arrogant, he was sometimes, but not anywhere near as much as Hermione had expected him to be.
Hermione pondered that for a moment as she looked at him and she began to wonder about things. In the time she’d known, Sirius had detested both of his parents and had only moved in with the Potters in sixth year after a fight with his mother got him disowned. However in this time he’d all but lived with the Potters since he was eleven years old and so had Remus since second year. James seemed to be less arrogant and spoiled because of it, which Hermione supposed was a good thing, but she couldn’t help wondering if perhaps the changes in this time to her own were foretelling of something else.
After all, if she had just been shot back in time by twenty years, absolutely everything should be exactly the same. Yet there were several things that were different. Could she have altered the entire timeline of life by messing with time so severely? When she had used the Time-Turner in her third year, she’d been cautioned that playing with time was incredibly dangerous. She’d always thought it was just because the idea of being caught or running into yourself had sometimes dire consequences and several wizards had gone mad who’d run into themselves while playing with time. The them who was reliving time understood what was going on, but the them that lived the hour originally went mad in spite of knowing of time travelling devices, and as such the past version grew mad caused the present version to become mad as well.
But could it be because the magical interruption in the time continuum tampered with the events within that time?
In going back in time it was obviously very easy to manipulate events, as Hermione and Harry had done in their third year to save Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Sirius from death. Could it be possible that being sent back so far in time, Hermione had inadvertently and unknowingly altered the past simply through the magical rift she had created when she accidently flung herself back here?
“Hermione are you sure you’re alright?” Lily Evans asked her softly when Hermione kept on staring at James, though she didn’t appear to actually see him.
“Didn’t you have some exciting news idea to share with us?” Remus asked her.
Hermione blinked rapidly as she refocused on the teenagers around her. The people who played such vital roles in the life she had known and now were her very best friends. They were her family. They were the only people she had in the world besides Albus Dumbledore and Hermione looked at each of them, feeling a swell of emotion. She had to do whatever she could to save them. And Hermione realised suddenly that she had read somewhere in one of her history books in her old life, that the first wizarding war had seemed to begin around 1970 and it was now 1977 and yet Voldemort seemed to be flying under the radar.
Could it be that the timeline for the war had also been altered? Could it simply not have built as high yet, or could it be that the evil Voldemort and his army of followers were, in fact, out there right now committing heinous deeds in such a way that suspicion stayed off them?
Dorea Potter had told Hermione that Voldemort often gave charismatic speeches as he drew in a further following and worded it in such a way that it seemed more like he was striving towards an idea but would never actually commit evil in order to reach his goal of the world becoming a place free of muggles and muggleborns. Hermione wondered if she ought to see Dumbledore again and tell him everything she knew. She could save many more lives if she did. After all, while Harry might have remained woefully ignorant of all the information about Voldemort and the First Wizarding War and almost everything about magic excluding that which he was forced to learn in class, Hermione had learned anything and everything she could get her hands on about Voldemort and the war and the many forms of magic. She was herself almost a walking text book of information since she possessed the ability to soak up knowledge like a sponge and she very rarely forgot anything.
Her parents had had her tested as a child and discovered that she possessed something akin to a photographic memory. She couldn’t exactly picture every page of a textbook in her mind and read it inside her head, but she could recall a fact as long as she had read it somewhere once before. There were many lives she knew had been lost in her old time and Hermione wondered if there was anything she could do to circumvent the deaths of many people, including those of the friends standing in front of her.
Hermione let her eyes refocus, this time on Sirius and her heart gave a painful throb within her chest. She was in love with the long haired boy and the very idea of not having him around to crack jokes and laugh with and flirt with physically hurt Hermione in a way she hadn’t thought she would feel since she had accepted that she would never know Harry and Ron as she had.
Yes. She knew that if there was anything at all she could do to save the people who had died in the first war during her time, she would do it. After this evening Hermione would need to speak to Dumbledore. To tell him everything she knew in order to give the good side the upper hand since everyone else besides Dumbledore seemed only mildly worried about the threat Voldemort posed. Because Hermione was not going to suffer through the loss of any more of her friends or anymore of the heart ache that came with missing the boy she loved.
“What’s wrong ‘Mione?” Sirius murmured as he watched Hermione lower lip tremble slightly before she bit down on it and squared her shoulders resolutely. Hermione smiled at Sirius.
“Sorry, I’m just so caught up in this idea and I’m dying to blurt it all out to you all, but it’s not exactly a safe idea to discuss the furry little problem where we might be overheard.”
Remus snorted at that.
“Well then lead on so you can tell us all what’s got you so preoccupied Hermione” Remus told her waving towards the portrait hole as he got to his feet and offered Peter a hand up.
Hermione practically ran to the rarely used classroom there on the seventh floor in her excitement to tell her friends about her plan and her ideas. When they were all inside Hermione left them to transfiguring desks into armchairs while she locked the door, seal it shut with a silencing spell and a ward to keep anyone from trying to get into the room no matter what happened in here.
“Well don’t keep us in suspense Hermione what’s this big idea you have?” Lily asked when Hermione turned to smile at all five of her friends.
“Ok, so I know we’ve all been a little divided on the idea of me a Lily coming tonight.” Hermione began “And I think I know the arguments for both sides. The boys feel it’s unsafe and Remus doesn’t want to scare me and Lily and our animagus forms are a little more difficult to manoeuvre if Remus does go for either of us as the werewolf. Us girls think that we’ll be just fine and that nothing will go wrong and that it’s unfair for us to be kept out of the fun to be had tonight when we’re animagi too. Even if we will be breaking a whole bunch of school rules and the trouble we would get into is beyond imagining.”
Hermione paused to take a breath and she could see all of her friends nodding along that the arguments were correct for both parties.
“When we were talking in the dungeons, Remus you mentioned that you don’t feel that you can trust the wolf inside you not to attack us because all the wolf knows is hate. That you lose control of who you are and the rage and hunger and bloodlust of the wolf takes over.” Hermione said, now directing her words to Remus who was lounging in a brown armchair and looking pale.
“From what I understand of the werewolf curse, at the full moon you are forced to transform from wizard to werewolf and during that process you lose touch with your humanity and don’t remember anything of who you are or who your friends are. Is that correct?” Hermione asked him.
Remus gave a sharp nod, his lips in a thin line as he was clearly uncomfortable to be discussing this.
“Is it also correct that you fear the change not only because of how painful it is, but precisely because you lose control and wake up alone and naked. Because you lose who you are as the wolf takes over and the rage drives you to madness and destruction?”
“What are you getting at Hermione?” Remus asked her sharply, his voice rumbling a little as he growled at discussing something he was uncomfortable with.
“Well, I feel like the idea of you taking wolf shape will help with the pain of the transformation which is why we tried that in the holidays, but I had another idea. In the dungeons you said that the wolf couldn’t learn to trust us and know us and love us because when you black out you lose who you are.” Hermione paused as she gathered her thoughts so she could explain them in a way that would make sense.
“I argued that you and the wolf were two souls sharing a body and you disagreed saying you are one and the same. Now obviously I’m not a werewolf so I can’t be sure about this, but I have a few theories about a way to make it so that you trust all of us beyond anything else. So that the wolf inside you loves us and trusts us. You said it was impossible because all he knows is hate.”
“It’s a combination of the two Hermione” Remus told her, this time without the growl in his voice “It’s not exactly that we’re two souls sharing a body, it’s more like…. We’re two halves of the same soul and at the full moon the werewolf half takes over, but in order for that to happen, the human half of me has to be pushed into submission” Remus explained.
Everyone looked fascinated as Hermione came closer to perch on the edge of his chair and peer into his eyes.
“I’ve noticed that on the day of the full moon the control you have on the wolf half of yourself is tested. Your eyes flicker between their human golden brown and wolf yellow. You have more of a growl in your voice when you get irritated and you grow angry far more easily” Hermione told him as she watched his eyes change from gold to yellow to gold again.
“You hate what you are Remus. You hate that you can’t push the wolf half of you down into submission and have him stay there in chains” Hermione murmured “And in doing so all you are teaching the wolf half of you is to hate. If all you show him is fear and pain and hate, is it any wonder that when he takes control that’s all he feels?”
Wolf eyes stared out at Hermione as Remus’s nostrils flared to catch Hermione’s scent and Hermione held still as Remus leaned a little closer to her.
“Before I came here, I read an old saying Cherokee Indian saying:
There’s a battle between two wolves inside all of us. One is Evil. It is jealousy, hate, greed, resentment, fear, lies and ego. The other is Good. It is joy and peace and love and trust and humility and kindness. The wolf that wins the battle is the one you feed.”
Hermione watched Remus’s eyebrows lift as he took in those words.
“You think that if he teaches the wolf other things, things like love and trust and happiness he’ll keep from blacking out completely at the full moon?” Sirius asked her from the next chair.
“No. I don’t think that. I think that no matter what you teach the wolf, on the full moon Remus’s human half will be pushed down into submission as the wolf escapes for the night.”
“Then what are you getting at Hermione?” Remus snarled. Hermione didn’t flinch when she realised he was right in her face now, nor when Sirius put a hand on her shoulder and tried to pull her back from Remus a little.
“Sirius, let go of me” Hermione said softly “That is part of the problem you all have. You’re afraid of Remus like this and you need to stop being afraid of him.”
“Hermione I could kill you, how can you stand there and claim you’re not afraid?” Remus spat angrily.
“Do I smell like I’m afraid of you Remus?”Hermione countered. She watched Remus’s nostrils flare to catch her scent, trying to find the acrid scent of fear and clearly failing.
“I’m not afraid of you because I have a theory about all of this. About making the fact that you are a werewolf easier on you” Hermione told him reaching out to take his hand and finding it cold.
“It’s not going to be easy for you to do Remus….” Hermione added when Remus looked interested in what she had to say. “But I want you to try and stop hating the fact that you’re a werewolf. Of all the people in this room, the only one who thinks less of you for what you are is you. And so you walk around loathing yourself and what you are. If the wolf is truly one half of your soul then you are feeding him all those evil things, You feed him hate and anger and fear because you fear the pain of the change, you fear that you might hurt someone when you lose your humanity, you hate that you’re different from your friends.”
“But I want you to accept what you are. We all love you Remus. No matter what, we love you. Do you understand that? You chased me with the intention of killing me or turning me or even eating me and James and Sirius saved me, resulting in both of them getting hurt. We still love you. I don’t think less of you for it. Sirius doesn’t think less of you or resent you for hurting him. I want you to extend the same courtesy to yourself. I want you to look both the human half and the wolf half of your soul in the eye and accept what you are. Accept that you are a werewolf, stop fearing the change and let the wolf learn of love and trust and happiness from us and from you.”
“How?” Remus ground out, squeezing Hermione’s hand in his tightly.
“If you can accept who you are and come to an arrangement within yourself, I believe you will experience a little change inside yourself. Instead of forcing the wolf down into submission whenever there isn’t a full moon, I want you to let him out, let him live right alongside your humanity as you go about your life. Who knows, maybe if you let him have a little control now, he’ll let you have a little control during the change.” Hermione suggested.
“What makes you so sure this is a god idea? That it will work.” Remus demanded, clearly not liking the idea at all. Hermione sighed and glanced over her shoulder at Sirius. He still had his hand on her shoulder. His eyes searched Hermione’s for a moment and Hermione let her face tilt sideways to rub against his hand for a moment drawing strength from the touch.
“Before I came here I knew of a werewolf who loved what he was.” Hermione told Remus softly “It made him different from you. He liked to sport a particularly wolf-like appearance, and he loved what he was. He accepted that he was a werewolf and that being a werewolf sometimes made him violent and volatile. But he embraced the hatred within the wolf and let it take control of his human half, making him quiet evil.” Hermione paused as she tried to shake the evil smirk of Fenrir Greyback out of her mind “But I think that if you embrace the wolf with your human side, you could teach him the good qualities and push out some of the hate. But you can only do that if you accept what you are and love yourself anyway. Can you do that?”
Remus’s human eyes looked fearful as he stared at her bewilderedly.
“We want you to be happy Remus” Peter piped up, reaching across to touch his friend’s shoulder.
“She’s right mate. We love you. Not in spite of the werewolf, but because you’re a werewolf” James told Remus softly from the couch he sat on with Lily leaning comfortably against him. Remus turned to look at him and Hermione knew that even with all of them telling him they loved him, Remus still feared and hated what he was.
“Moony, it can’t hurt to try it. Starting tomorrow, since embracing the wolf right now might bring on the change, I want you to let the wolf have a little more control. Let him look out through your eyes and walk with you in the halls between classes. You trust us as the wolf not to let you hurt anyone when we break you out of the Shrieking Shack, trust us everywhere else not to let him get the best of you and take over during class.” Sirius told Remus as he scooted closer behind Hermione, moving from his couch to perch on the arm of Remus’s.
“If it helps at all Remus, I was terrified of werewolves until third year and now that I know who you are, I’m not afraid anymore.” Lily said softly, smiling at Remus from next to James.
Remus closed his eyes as though he was in pain as they all spoke and when he opened them and looked back at Hermione they were wolf yellow again.
“You knew what I was from the minute you arrived didn’t you Hermione?” He asked her softly, still clutching her hand. Hermione peered into his eyes, realising that the truthful answer was what Remus was looking for right now.
“Yes. The minute I saw you I knew who you are.”
“You knew my name?”
“I knew who you are Remus. You are Remus Lupin, you are man and wolf inside one body, and you are brilliant.” Hermione told him.
“You knew when I kissed you that I was a werewolf?” he asked her softly, Hermione nodded her head.
“And you made up that thing about outlets, why?”
“Because you don’t like people knowing the truth. I knew that if I told you it was ok that you’d kissed me because the wolf half of you was trying to get out, you’d hate yourself even more. I’ve known since I got here that you’re a werewolf Remus. And I’ve not once been afraid of you. Even when you were chasing me I wasn’t afraid because you a werewolf though I was a little worried that you might catch me…” Hermione smiled at him.
“Because I’d bite you?” Remus asked her, his voice growling again.
“No. Because I was wearing my brand new pyjamas and didn’t want to get blood on them.”
Remus looked doubtful.
“Remus, this is part of the problem,” Hermione told him “You think we’re afraid of you. Afraid that you’ll lose control and bite one of us. We’re not afraid. That’s why I at least will be out there tonight with you. I’m not afraid of you, I’m not afraid of the wolf and I’m not afraid that you’ll hurt us. You can’t hurt us because we love you and even your wolf knows that you love us too.”
“And if I do bite you?” Remus snarled.
Hermione looked right into the eyes of the wolf. She could see the wolf half of him was in control right now though without the moon he couldn’t take the werewolf form. And Hermione did something she’d never done before, she leaned closer to Remus until she was nose to nose with him and stared directly into the wolf half of Remus’s soul.
“Then I’ll be a werewolf too” Hermione told him softly before pulling back slightly and offering him her arm. “I’m not afraid of the wolf, and I’m not afraid of what it means to be a werewolf. So if you want to bite me, then go right ahead.”
Something flashed in those wolf yellow eyes and Remus took hold of Hermione’s arm with both hands. His eyes never left hers as his lips pulled back from his teeth and
Hermione didn’t move as Remus lifted her arm to his mouth.
Hermione could feel everyone around them watching apprehensively but her gaze never wavered from the staring match she was having with the wolf half of Remus. Her heartbeat stayed steady and Remus opened his mouth and wrapped his teeth around Hermione’s dainty wrist. The feel of his teeth against her skin tickled Hermione even though they felt sharper than they should, but she held still and stared into the wolf’s eyes. For several long moments Remus held her there like that and his nostrils tested the air for the scent of her fear but found none.
Hermione flinched slightly when his teeth let go and he instead pressed a kiss to her skin. The wolf half of Remus was completely in control and those yellow eyes seemed to smile at Hermione as he lowered her arm again. His voice came out gutturally, low and growly when he spoke
“You truly have no fear of me” the wolf inside Remus growled softly “Thank you for your trust. I will never hurt you” Hermione knew that it was the wolf and not the human half of Remus that spoke to her and Hermione felt giddy with happiness as she realised that her theory was correct. The wolf wanted to trust them and love them and wanted Remus to love him and trust him in the same way he trusted the human half of Remus.
Hermione saw it when the wolf let the human Remus take control again as his eyes shifted back to the golden brown colour they were when his human half was in control.
“What did you do?” Remus gasped at her, eyes searching Hermione’s face wildly.
Hermione smiled at her friend “How do you feel Remus?” she asked him softly.
“Strange. I’ve never felt like this before…. How do you keep doing this to me Hermione?” he asked her softly.
“How do I keep doing what sweetie?”
“Throwing me off. What did you do to me just now? I’ve never felt this…. Calm” Remus murmured.
“I showed the wolf half of you complete trust and not a skerrick of fear.” Hermione told him “All he wants is for you to trust him like he trusts you and the acceptance of him within you. I gave him that acceptance. So did everyone else in the room by not protesting or trying to interfere when I told you that you could go ahead and bite me and turn me into a werewolf too if you wanted.”
“Did I?” Remus gasped, looking horrified.
Hermione lifted her arm to show him the spot the wolf had kissed.
“No. The wolf threatened it, to test me and make sure I really did trust him, and then he kissed my arm, thanked me for my trust in him, and told me he’ll never hurt me.”
Remus reeled at her words and Hermione smiled around at her friends, all of whom were staring at her and Remus in what looked like awe.
“He got control and he didn’t do something terrible….” Remus whispered, seemingly to himself.
“Say ‘we’ Remus.” Hermione murmured back to him. “It’s not you against the wolf. As you said, you are one and the same.”
Hermione squeaked when Remus grabbed her and tugged her onto his lap, crushing her into a hug that stole Hermione’s breath from her lunges as he squeezed her.
“You really are the best thing to ever happen to us ‘Mione” Sirius told her when Remus let her go, then he leaned forward to whisper in her ear even though everyone would hear him with their heightened animal hearing anyway “I’m so bloody happy you’re here.”
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