Chapter 6 : Pavlovian Conditioning
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Chapter Six: Pavlovian Conditioning
Dennis was furious. It had taken him calling in several invaluable favors that he had been jealously guarding, to be admitted into Grimmauld Place. Even then, he was stupefied and brought in unconscious so that Dennis couldn’t go back without someone to let him in. It was humiliating, but the price he was willing to pay was astronomical if it meant having Hermione as an ally. For some reason, he didn’t believe that she would be happy if she knew he snuck around her house while she was out.
He wasn’t trying to invade her privacy, he was only trying to ascertain whether or not Malfoy had been hiding out in the house. Nothing seemed out of order as he walked from room to room. The only recent magical signatures that he noticed were Hermione’s and Harry’s. It was immediately obvious that Harry had not been here in months. He went upstairs to continue his search. Opening the first door he came across.
His heart sped up once he realized that he was in her room. He walked around, noticing that Hermione’s things were extremely tidy. Not that he expected anything less, but it was almost too clean. In fact, if she wanted she could make this a show room. He rolled his eyes, barely containing the need to roll on the bed and drown in her scent. That would be creepy.
He briefly pulled out the drawers and opened the doors, noticing that most of her things were gone. She was probably moving into the Manor, it had wards that competed with the ones on Grimmauld Place. He blushed bright red when he got to her underwear drawer, several lacy knickers laid forgotten at the bottom. He ran his fingers over the light pink pair, envisioning what she would look like in them. After a moment, he seemed to realize what he was doing and slammed the drawer shut. His hands that he raised to cover his eyes were shaking. He took a deep breath and moved on, completing the invasion without finding anything that would make him suspect that Malfoy was ever there. It was like Malfoy completely disappeared. If he was ever there at all.
Dennis huffed in annoyance. He would have to start all over again before the magical signature in the forest completely faded. This was a dead end. He couldn’t help but feel relief that Hermione was not involved with Malfoy. He didn’t want to seem like the bad guy if she turned that pureblooded prat into her next pity project.
Dennis left Grimmauld Place the same way he entered, unconscious and floating, the scowling face of Severus Snape the last thing he saw before he was hit with a stunner, point blank.
“And if you ever try to use that against me again, it will be the last thing you ever do.” Snape muttered to Dennis’ unconscious body.
Hermione was nervous. She remembered Harry’s descriptions of Occlumency with Snape. She had no reason to believe it would be any better with her just because she secured his agreement. Granted, Snape and Harry never got along. It will be better with her. She hoped. She was determined to treat this like a gift. A wonderful opportunity to learn from the best Occlumency Master in the world.
Hermione apparated to the gates of Hogwarts, eyeballing the two sentries as they tried to appear unruffled. After a moment of staring on everyone’s part, Hermione smiled charmingly and held out the basket that she carried with her.
“You strong men look like you need some comfort. I brought you some muffins that my House elf baked for me. They are chocolate chip. See?” She lifted the cheesecloth and a delicious aroma wafted out of the basket.
“For us?” The one guard asked skeptically. The other had already sidled up next to her, hand deep in the basket.
“What a love.” He winked and whispered to her as he pulled three of the muffins.
“Of course, for you. I bet you feel underappreciated being permanently stuck guarding Hogwarts, knowing that Snape could leave whenever he wanted to. I’m sure that somebody has to do it. I just thought I should let you know that I appreciate what you are doing.”
“That is very sweet, Miss Granger. Now if you intend on wasting any more of my time I will go back to the castle, alone. Mr. Murray, Mr. Denkins.” Snape glowered at the two guards and raised an eyebrow at Hermione.
She smiled sweetly as she handed the basket to the guard who still looked at her with suspicion and squeezed through the gate. Once they were half way to the castle, Snape turned to her and smirked.
“What was that?”
“With what goal?”
“Pavlovian conditioning.” She smiled back.
He threw back his head and laughed. A rich throaty sound that reverberated off the stone walls.
“You, Miss Granger, should have been sorted into Slytherin.”
“If only I was born to a different family. Darn. The crap I miss out on because I am not pureblooded. I am positively distraught.” Her sarcasm was delivered with an amused grin.
“Not all Slytherin’s are pureblooded Miss. Granger.” He drawled. “They are just predominant.”
“Yes, Yes.” She said with a smile, waving away his argument.
“I must tell you that I took Mr. Creevey into Grimmauld by stunner. I was right, he was overly interested in your knicker drawer.”
“Ew.” She said making a face. “Do you think he will realize that everything was staged?”
“Not for a while. He is a Gryffindor and they don’t do well with subtle.”
“I understand it just fine.”
“Like I said. You were sorted wrong.”
Hermione shook her head, rolling her eyes. They walked to the Headmaster’s office. Snape stopping just before letting her through the threshold.
“When you leave, I have someone for you to take with you.”
“You remember Mr. Oliver Wood?”
He opened the door. Wood was standing, hat in hand looking rough and dirty, in much the same way Malfoy had come to her. Hermione slowly smiled.
“Harry will be very happy that you weren’t captured.” She told Wood.
“Is Potter with you then?” a slow smile spread on his face.
“Not at the moment.”
“The boy is off playing the hero again. I’m starting to think it’s a compulsive condition.” Snape deadpanned. Hermione glared at the Headmaster. He studiously avoided her eye as he dismissed Wood to find himself occupied elsewhere.
Snape was menacing in all his black robed, multi-button glory. He stood over her with his wand raised, a devilish look in his eye.
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