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Chapter 8 : viii.
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Later that evening, Hermione decided to walk to the library. She had spent at least fifteen minutes convincing Amelia that she really just wasn’t in the mood to party that evening, since a wild one was raging in the Ravenclaw common room. It wasn’t that she did not want to be around her new housemates, she just needed time to be alone. She had to come up with a substantial plan; something that would help her get close to Snape. She wasn’t quite sure how she would do that, but she figured she would have a better time coming up with something in the one place that always seemed to help her think clearly.
Hermione stepped out of the common room and began slowly making her way down the stairs. The sky was clear that evening and the moon was shining brightly. It was nearly full, which gave the illusion of everything around her being saturated in an eerie tint of grey. The air was chilly and she suppressed a shudder and she continued her walk through the corridors. Curfew wasn’t for another hour, so she had plenty of time to clear her head and think.
The halls were quiet, deserted and dark. She walked slowly and ran her hand along the stone wall, once again feeling exceptionally alone. She missed Harry. She longed for Ron. Until that moment, she really hadn’t given them much thought; it was too painful not knowing when, or if she would see them again. Were they worried about her, or had they even realized she was gone?
She shivered delicately as a chill ran through her. She stopped and wrapped her arms around herself as a single tear fell from her eye. Once again she was wondering what she had been thinking – using that Time-Turner. The war was over; they had won. She and Ron had finally made some sort of headway towards a relationship with one another. Why had she been so quick to possibly give that all up? To maybe live through another war – the first war. Would this all even end up being worth it in the end? Not only would she possibly lose her friends from her time, there were new people – such as Amelia and Remus – she was becoming closer to who she knew she would definitely lose.
Before she could stop them, tears began flowing freely from Hermione’s eyes and down her cheeks. She spotted a bench near a window and sat down for a moment, hoping to calm down and collect herself. She had certainly been through a lot, but before now, she was never completely alone during any of it. Ron and Harry had almost always been by her side, through thick and thin; she didn’t quite know how to handle doing something of this magnitude with no one to really confide in.
Hermione’s head, which rested in her hands, snapped up suddenly when she heard someone clear their throat next to her. She blinked a few times, attempting to clear her eyes of the blurry moisture. Her heart seemed to stop when she finally saw who it was awkwardly standing next to the bench she sat on.
Looking down at her with a mixture of pity, annoyance and apprehension was one of the people who she fretted over moments before – Severus Snape.
Not quite knowing what to say, Hermione wiped her cheeks hastily and offered a small smile. “Erm… Hello,” she whispered, her voice still thick from crying.
Snape cocked his head to the side and shifted his weight – almost as if he were considering changing his mind and turning away from her. Instead he let out a loud sigh and leaned up against the wall next to her.
“Hello,” he surprisingly responded.
Hermione didn’t know how to proceed. It was the most cordial he had been to her up until that point. It was almost like being near a wild beast; one wrong move and it could attack. She nodded her head and waited for him to speak again – or to not. Regardless, she was leaving the next move up to him.
She noticed him shuffle his feet, almost as if he were nervous and she couldn’t help but wonder if it was because she was new, because he was socially backward, or because he had limited experience speaking to girls. Especially girls who had obviously been crying. As that thought crossed her mind, a sniffle escaped her.
Snape cleared his throat again. “Er… Every – everything alright?” he mumbled.
To say she was shocked would be the understatement of the year. Hermione was downright flabbergasted.
She didn’t answer at first – she was still so shocked that he had actually seemed to care enough to not only stop when he saw her crying there, but actually ask if she were alright. It was definitely the last thing she would had expected.
The longer she sat there, the more he looked at her like maybe she wasn’t all there in her mind. When the look on his face finally registered with her, she snapped herself out of it and answered.
“Oh, yes. Yes, I - I’m fine,” she lied.
To her utter astonishment, he snorted. “Yes, because people who are fine, as you said, always sit alone in dark corridors crying,” he scoffed.
Hermione’s heart skipped a beat; she was completely taken aback and her eyes widened considerably, “Excuse me?” she asked.
Snape rolled his eyes at her and a familiar sneer formed on his face. She wondered if he even realized that he did that.
“You’re openly sobbing in the middle of the hallway," he gestured around them both. "I wouldn’t exactly call that fine,” he went on.
Hermione huffed and turned her body away from him. His snarky demeanor irked her; she could not understand why he bothered to stop at all.
“Why do you care?” she bit back with.
Snape laughed humorlessly; his eyes narrowed. “Who said I did?”
Crossing her arms tightly and sighing, Hermione brought her body around to face him. Severus Snape might have been the most insufferable person she ever met. For some reason, even these small interactions made her blood boil, yet also intrigued her. She had never experienced someone who was so hot and cold - and that’s taking into consideration her experiences with Ron. Snape seemed to be another person who was going to give her emotional whiplash.
“Then why even bother stopping to talk to me to begin with?” she asked with a mix of ire and genuine curiosity.
It seemed Snape was not expecting that question, or just didn’t know how to answer it himself. He continued to tug on the cuff of his sleeve and looked away from her, out the window.
“I – I, er… I don’t know,” he almost whispered and sounded like he was legitimately wondering the same thing.
Hermione was emotionally exhausted and just did not have it in her to deal with his rapidly changing moods that evening. With a little more venom that probably necessary, she snapped, “Why don’t you just leave then?”
Snape looked surprised by her tone. His eyebrows raised halfway up his forehead before he scowled at her.
“Fine!” He hissed and began to stalk off.
After walking about five steps, he stopped abruptly and hung his head. She saw his shoulders slump.
“You – erm – you were quite impressive in Defense today,” he complimented her with his back still turned.
“Oh!” she gasped in surprise. Out of all the things he could have said to her while walking away, that certainly wasn’t what she was anticipating.
As she started to awkwardly thank him, something caught her eye across the hall and behind him. She thought she saw a boy’s shoe and the swish of a robe for a moment. Her heart sank when she heard whispered voices – they apparently thought they were being quite secretive.
“You stepped on my foot!” one of them complained.
“I told you that we can’t both fit anymore,” the other one retorted.
It was James, and who she assumed was Sirius, under the invisibility cloak that she had found herself under numerous times in her life. The same cloak, she realized, that currently was stored away in the beaded bag under the bed in her dormitory.
She heard a sharp intake a breath come from Snape and her pulse began to quicken as she watched him narrow his eyes.
“Did you hear that?” he asked.
She knew she had to lie. “No,” she responded quickly.
He looked at her suspiciously and started to walk in the direction of where she assumed the two boys to be standing. Nothing but trouble could come from the situation unfolding in front of her.
“Shhh! Shut it!” one of them hissed from under the cloak.
Hermione shook her head at the nonexistent subtly those boys had. She nervously bit her lip as Snape continued to walk towards them, his arm outstretched.
“What are you doing?” she asked, still trying to pretend like she heard nothing.
Snape took another tentative step forward, looked back over his shoulder and shushed Hermione. She felt like a bomb was about to go off and only she knew which wire to cut, yet no one would let her make the attempt.
Just as she watched him grasp at, what looked like was, thin air, she heard an annoyed grunt.
“Oh bloody hell, fuck it – Petrificus Totalus!” Sirius exclaimed as he threw the cloak off of both him and James and hexed Snape, who went ridged and fell backwards with a very audible thump.
Hermione jumped right up off of her bench, took her wand from her robes and pointed it directly at Sirius’ smugly smiling face.
“What is your problem, Sirius Black?!” she screeched.
As she bent down to perform the counter curse on Snape, Sirius chuckled – she felt a rush of heat quickly rise up both sides of her face.
“Come on, Devereux. Don’t be sore! We were just having a laugh, that’s all,” he said.
Hermione nearly growled and gave him the best death glare that she could muster; it seemed to have the desired effect. Sirius took a step back and James reached up and ruffled his hair nervously – until then he was completely still and looked shocked at Sirius giving up their little secret.
She let out a short, shrill, bitter laugh. Snape hadn’t done anything. He was just there! If that were the way that Sirius just had a laugh, as he said, Hermione found herself very disappointed in this boy who became a man she cared very much about.
“Just leave,” she said quietly while Snape came to and began to stir.
“Come on, Padfoot. I don’t want Lily finding out that I’m causing trouble again. I’m trying to get in her good graces; for real this time,” Hermione heard James plead with Sirius. “Sorry, Devereux,” he then said to her. “We don’t want any trouble. Sirius was just being – erm…”
She looked back and gave a tentative smile to James as he ruffled his hair again; a nervous habit she assumed. Hermione was glad at least one of them had their heads on straight.
“I understand, Potter,” she said gently. It felt strange for her call him Potter, yet he used her surname, so she felt it was only appropriate.
Her attention was brought back to Snape when she heard him groan. He looked a bit confused as he attempted to sit up and then slowly she watched compression dawn on his face as he looked from her, to James, then to Sirius. He bared his teeth, and quicker than she would have thought possible, he was on his feet and drawing his wand.
“BLACK!” he roared.
Hermione flinched at the sound of his anger and the fire in his eyes – he truly could be quite frightening.
Sirius smiled widely, “Yes, Snivelly?” he answered with mock sweetness and pulled his wand out once more.
“NO!” Hermione yelled. She stood up and placed a hand on Snape’s shoulder. He shrugged it off hard; she fell to the ground.
“I’ve told you before, Devereux,” he glared at her. “I do not need nor want your help! Now go!”
Hermione felt tears come to her eyes once more - irrational and unexplainable tears. She was so mad her hands began to shake. How dare he speak to her in that way when she had just come to his aid! She could have left him passed out in the hallway, but she did not! And now he would shout at her for trying to help? She was not having any of it. But before she could stand up and do anything about it, James and Sirius had their wands pointed at him.
“What is the matter with you, Snape?!” James shouted, his wand aimed right at Snape’s face.
“Pushing girls to the ground? It’s not bad enough you call them despicable names, but you're going to lay your filthy hands on them now, too?” Sirius also yelled with his wand directed at Snape as well.
It seemed to dawn on Snape, as they screamed at him, that he did in fact knock Hermione down. When he looked back at her once again, she unmistakably saw remorse in his eyes.
“I – I,” he stammered.
Sirius began to mock him. “I – I – I nothing, Snape.” He stalked towards him.
Things started escalating. Hermione had to do something.
“It’s alright, Snape. I know you didn’t mean it,” she said then looked at Sirius. “And that’s enough. It was an accident.”
“But-“ Sirius began to protest, but James stowed his wand away and placed his arm on Sirius’ shoulder.
“Come on, mate,” James said softly; Hermione almost didn’t make the words out. Sirius scowled and reluctantly placed his wand back in his robes. “Sorry, Devereux,” James sadly smiled at Hermione. “If you’re really alright, we’ll leave. Like I said before, we really don’t want any trouble,” he looked pointedly at Sirius, “right, Sirius?”
Hermione heard Snape snort behind her and she found herself fighting her lips as they threatened to pull upwards in amusement from it. She looked back over her shoulder to give him a silencing look then brought her attention back to James; she returned his smile. Relief washed over her like a cool summer rain on a hot day as she realized that the fight, which seemed inevitable, seemed to dissipate – just as she hoped it would.
“No worries,” she breathed, the relief even evident in her voice.
She nearly laughed while looking from Sirius and Snape; both boys were standing in almost an identical pose. Each of them had their arms crossed over their chests and looks of pure hatred plastered on their faces as they continued to stare the other down. She had a feeling that the small respite they seemed to be having would end up being extremely brief if one of them – or both of them, had not left the immediate area soon.
Feeling the tension mounting once again, she quickly said goodbye to James and Sirius, “Potter. Black,” she nodded at each in turn. She then spun around and made to reach for Snape’s arm, “Come on, why don’t we walk,” she suggested.
It was that small gesture that changed everything.
Snape nearly growled at Hermione, who stood frozen in shock as he bellowed at her, “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE, DEVEREUX?!”
Hermione blinked rapidly and took a small step back.
The rational part of her knew that he must had been embarrassed that she had seemed to come to the rescue for him, which was why he then lashing out at her. She knew Severus Snape was a prideful man, and assumed he was the same as a teen. And having a girl – a new one never-the-less, save him from Sirius Black and James Potter, she figured, had to infuriate him.
That was the rational part of her – the logical part, which thought all of that out.
The emotional part of her. Well, to be honest, she was pretty frightened of him at that moment. The rage in his scorching black eyes would be enough to make even the strongest of men cower, she was sure. She was scared, she was mesmerized, she was awed, she was intimidated, she was impressed and most surprisingly of all, she was becoming a little captivated by him.
Of course with James and Sirius being chivalrous Gryffindors, they were not ones to stand idly by as Snape screamed at Hermione that way. Then when he shoved her once again, it seemed all hell had broken loose.
Before Hermione was able to fully comprehend what was going on, she saw the jets of light flying from all the boys’ wands. James and Sirius worked together, yet Snape seemed to be holding his own against the two of them. Even amongst the chaos, Hermione couldn’t help but notice the grace in which he casted his spells, and the precision in every move he made. It was extremely impressive and, the thought came unbidden into her mind, sort of beautiful, too.
One of the spells - she wasn’t exactly sure which one of them it came from - wizzed right in front of her face; it took her out of the small trance she seemed to be falling into. With the speed and reflexes of the experienced fighter she was, Hermione was on her feet, with her wand in hand, in no time. She had to stop this, or one of them were bound to become seriously hurt.
Hermione hurried, trying to make her way between the three of them and stop them from fighting one another. Just as she was casting a shield charm around her, she felt a searing pain on her right shoulder. Everything went quiet and she had an extremely sickening feeling in her stomach as she looked and saw what looked like a chunk of flesh missing from her. Blood started to pour out.
“Black! Potter! Snape! What is the meaning of all - “ she heard McGonagall yell as she ran up the hall. Spotting the blood gushing from Hermione’s arm seemed to have stopped the Transfiguration teacher right in her tracks. “Mr. Snape, get her to the hospital wing. Now,” Hermione heard McGonagall say quietly, yet firmly. “Black. Potter, I want an explanation. With me. Immediately,’ she ordered.
“Yes, Professor,” they answered in unison.
“Mr. Snape, you will come to my office the moment you leave Miss Devereux with Madam Pomfrey.” Snape nodded his understanding. McGonagall took another look at Hermione and pinched the bridge of her nose; she looked very tired and extremely disappointed. Her lips were nearly nonexistent they were stretched so thin. “Detention. The four of you. Every Saturday for one month,” McGonagall informed them all, before leading James and Sirius away.
Hermione, who was exceptionally woozy, felt strong, yet gentle hands lift her and carry her down the hall.
As they traveled, she fought to keep her eyes opened, due to the loss of blood she was experiencing. She winced when Snape seemed to stumble which caused her to be jolted a bit in his arms. Like it was coming from the other end of a long tunnel, she heard Snape apologize at her inward hiss of pain.
They came to a sudden stop, and even in her befuddled state, she judged they were still about half-way from the Hospital Wing. Hermione had no idea what he was doing, but she recoiled slightly when she saw him take out his wand and point it at the gaping hole in her shoulder.
Her eyes fluttered closed at the intense and strange sensations invading her wound. It almost felt as if it were being suctioned and caressed by a soft, cool breeze at the same time. The effect was immensely soothing.
She realized, as she heard Snape sound like he was partly singing and partly chanting something in a language she did not understand, that he was healing her. Never before had she seen or heard a spell like that. She was astounded.
Right before her eyes closed for good, she looked at his face - it was set in concentration. She weakly lifted her arm and wrapped her hand gently around his.
"That was beautiful," she whispered with a slight slur to her speech. "Thank you."
She managed to catch a softening in Snape's eyes she had never seen before followed by jerky nod of his head. She couldn't help the smile that spread out across her face, then everything around her faded.
A/N - Hi there! So sorry for how long it has taken me to update. RL got in the way a bit, sadly. :( But finally there is some substantial Hermione/Snape interaction in this chapter! *flails arms* I hope you all enjoy it!! And Em, my BESTESTHPFFBFFSOULSISTERTWIN, thank you so, so much for everything!! *hugs* <3
P.S. Hope you all don't mind that this was a "bottle episode" lol. But this chapter was essential in pushing the plot forward a bit. ;)
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