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Chapter 22 : xxii.
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Saturday morning Hermione was getting dressed and ready with Amelia in their dormitory. It was their final Hogsmeade trip before the holidays, since most of the students would be leaving that Thursday. Severus -- who was fooling no one -- casually told Hermione the evening before to go on without him to the village, and that he'd catch up with her later on in the day. She assumed he was most likely planning on getting her something for Christmas, otherwise she couldn't think of another reason he'd go alone. Although she'd miss him, she was happy to have a chance to spend time with Amelia outside of Ravenclaw tower. Between Hermione spending time with Severus, and Amelia spending time with Remus, the two girls hadn't had much time for one another lately.
When they arrived to The Great Hall to have breakfast before the long walk down, Hermione was surprised to find Severus missing from the Slytherin table. She was hoping to have a chance to at least see him before they parted ways for the day, and felt herself deflate just a bit at his absence. Regardless, she plastered a fake smile on her face as she sat down with her housemates.
“Ditching the boyfriend for us today?” Edgar asked brightly across from her.
Hermione shook her head and laughed quietly. “He ditched me, is more like it.”
“Well we’re glad you're coming with us today. We’ve missed hanging ‘round with you,” said Edgar before taking a bite of his toast.
While Hermione filled her plate and poured herself some coffee, Amelia, Edgar, Otto and Sturgis began discussing where they wanted to go first when they got to Hogsmeade. Amelia was persistent in trying to convince Edgar that getting presents for their family was the number one priority, while the boys all whined that they wanted to stock up on sweets from Honeydukes first.
“We’ll let Hermione decide,” said Otto. “What do you reckon? Presents or sweets?”
Amelia’s eyes silently pleaded with Hermione, while the boys all gave her the most pathetic pouts and puppy dog eyes they could manage. She let out a laugh before she answered.
“It's probably best that you get presents for your families, before you spend all of your money on sugar,” she told them.
The boys all groaned while Amelia smiled smugly.
“Priorities, boys,” Amelia scolded playfully.
The walk down to Hogsmeade was miserable. The wind gusted around them and their faces were cold and wet due to the freezing rain. They walked quickly and without much conversation, due to the fact that each time one of them tried to speak, they're lips chattered so badly you could hardly make out the words.
When they finally arrived to the village, instead of shopping, the group hurried their way into The Three Broomsticks for some Butterbeer to warm themselves up, before looking for Christmas presents. Hermione wanted to pick something up for Professor Dumbledore, not because she was posing as his niece and would be expected to, but because she truly wanted to give him a little token to show her appreciation for all of his help and kindness while she had been in the past.
Due to the harsh weather, the pub was basically empty when Hermione and her friends sat down inside. Just a handful of other students were scattered around, and Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were chatting a few tables away.
Hermione choked on a suppressed laugh when Edgar and Otto sat up a bit straighter, and puffed out their chests as Madam Rosmerta walked over to their table with a quill and pad. It was so busy the last time Hermione had been there, she hadn't had the chance to see Rosmerta, even though she'd promised the barmaid that she would visit with her the next time she would be in Hogsmeade, after their first meeting in the summer.
After Rosmerta took orders from Amelia and Sturgis, her eyes fell onto Hermione and filled with recognition.
“Hermione!” she greeted with a warm smile. “I hardly recognized you with the black hair! And it's so long now, too.”
Hermione’s face went red. She'd forgotten that Rosmerta had seen her before she changed her hair color and straightened it. Her friends all looked at her with obvious questions in their eyes.
“Oh yeah...erm. New school, new look, I thought,” she lied miserably.
“Well it's very becoming on you, dear. Now what can I get you?”
Hermione quickly ordered a Butterbeer and waited while the rest of her friends placed their orders.
“What was that about?” Amelia asked once Rosmerta had left.
All of the lies and deceit were starting to wear on Hermione. Her shoulders slouched.
“I was here early in the day on the first day of term. When Rosmerta first met me, I'd had blonde hair, but didn't think it suited me much, so I changed it back to black,” she lied with a shrug.
“Hmm…can't really picture you as a blonde,” said Otto as he pulled a snitch from his pocket and began to play with it.
“Yeah, I like your hair now,” Sturgis said quietly then blushed.
As she thanked Sturgis, she couldn't help but to notice that Amelia was looking at her strangely. Almost like she didn't buy the story Hermione had just told them. If she did or not, she didn't voice her suspicions out loud, and the topic was immediately changed to their plans for the holiday break.
After their glasses were emptied, and they were properly warmed once more, the group decided to leave the pub and begin their shopping. Hermione called over a goodbye to Rosmerta as they left, and she wished Hermione a Happy Christmas, then told her to tell her uncle the same.
Even though Hermione laughed and had a good time with her friends, she couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that snaked its way around her chest. She was getting a strange vibe from Amelia as they walked through Hogsmeade. As they visited different shoppes, she noticed Amelia occasionally glancing at Hermione from the side of her eye, or speaking to her a little more cautiously than she ever had done before. Perhaps she was just imagining it? She wasn't positive, but something just felt off.
Hermione didn't know what Amelia and Remus really spoke about when they were alone together, but the fact that Remus had seen her Time-Travel book, and now Amelia heard about Hermione changing her appearance right before the students arrived to Hogwarts did not sit right with her. She very much hoped he didn't tell her about the book, and that Amelia wouldn't read too much into the comment Rosmerta made about her hair.
However, her anxiety about the situation eventually faded the longer they were out. Amelia’s behavior slowly changed throughout the course of the day, and by mid afternoon, she was back to treating Hermione the same as before the incident in The Three Broomsticks. Which Hermione was grateful for, but not sure if it was genuine.
Later on, Hermione tucked her worry away, and smiled as she walked down the streets of Hogsmeade with her friends. She'd found the most curious pocketwatch in one of the last places they'd visited. It had twelve hands, and instead of numbers, there were tiny planets that rotated along the edge. She wasn't quite sure how one would tell time with it, but it seemed just the type of thing that Professor Dumbledore would like, and perhaps understand.
As the group decided to head back to the school, Hermione frowned realizing she hadn't seen Severus at all during her trip to the village. She began to worry slightly, hoping that he hadn't had another run in with Malfoy, or any of the other Death Eaters. Maybe when she got back to Hogwarts, instead of going back to Ravenclaw tower, she would check the library to see if Severus was there waiting for her to return.
When they arrived back to the castle, there were still a couple of hours before dinner, so Hermione said a quick goodbye to her friends and thanked them for the fun time she'd had that morning and afternoon. She received a few light-hearted jabs regarding Severus, since they knew that's where she was headed, but nothing that would have caused her to become angry.
Hermione worried about Amelia, as she walked through the corridors. She'd really taken to the girl, since she'd been in the past, and truly considered her to be a good friend. The last thing she wanted was for Amelia not to trust her, even though she was technically keeping things from her. Hopefully over the holiday break Amelia would forget what happened, and everything would go back to normal once everyone returned.
“Hermione?” a soft voice stopped Hermione in her tracks. What could she possibly want, she wondered.
Lily Evans stepped out from around a corner and began walking towards Hermione. Her expression wasn't exactly unfriendly, but nowhere near as warm as the first few encounters Hermione had had with her.
“Lily,” she responded coolly.
It seemed Lily was in no mood for pleasantries and cut right to the chase.
“You're dating Severus.” It wasn't a question.
Hermione felt a small amount of irritation bubble up inside her as she rolled her eyes.
“Yes,” she responded with a raised eyebrow.
Lily nodded, but did not follow up. Hermione was in no mood for this conversation and started walking down the hall again. Unfortunately, Lily fell in step beside her.
“He seems quite taken with you,” Lily mused aloud.
Hermione hummed quietly in agreement.
Where is she going with this? Hermione thought to herself.
They walked in silence for several paces. Hermione was extraordinarily uncomfortable, not to mention a touch annoyed. Why was Lily so interested in Severus’ personal life. She was the one who ended their friendship, or whatever it was.
Nothing could have prepared Hermione for what Lily said next.
“Hermione, don't...just don't hurt him,” she told her firmly.
Hermione stopped suddenly. A strong surge of anger ripped through her.
“I'm sorry?” she asked in a rough whisper.
Lily turned around to face her. She spoke more loudly this time. “Don't hurt him,” she repeated.
Out of all the asinine things that Lily Evans could have said to Hermione. She had the audacity to tell Hermione not to hurt Severus?
“That's what I thought you said,” Hermione said.
The girls stared down one another, neither one letting themselves be the first to break eye contact. Hermione couldn't believe what was actually happening. She was livid. Finally, she spoke.
“You're telling me not to hurt him? That's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think?” she spat.
Lily’s eyes narrowed before she whipped around, turning her back on Hermione.
“You have - you don't know - you have no right, Hermione. You weren't there! You have no idea how I felt when he - when he…”
Hearing the obvious pain in Lily’s voice caused Hermione’s anger to deflate just a bit. She wasn't being entirely fair. Severus did say a horrible thing to Lily. Not unforgivable, but most definitely terrible.
Hermione’s posture relaxed as she hung her head.
“You're right, I wasn't. I'm sorry. I can't imagine how you must have felt,” Hermione began. “But, even though we've never spoken about it, I know how badly he felt as well.”
Lily snorted, with her back still turned towards Hermione.
“People make mistakes, Lily. I'm not excusing what was said, but to just cut someone you cared about out of your life for one mistake...I could never do it,” she told her.
Hermione heard a soft sniffle come from Lily. She wanted to comfort the girl, but a part of her knew it wouldn't have been welcomed.
“I can't, Hermione. I'm sorry. I still care about him, but I can never forgive him. We’re just too different now. Everything is different now,” Lily admitted, in a voice thick with emotion.
She didn't know what else to say. If Lily did not wish to make up with Severus, Hermione was not going to push the issue. Admittedly, a part of her reasoning was purely selfish. There was a strong part of her that feared if Lily were to forgive him, that she'd run the possibility of losing Severus to her, and Hermione wasn't going to take that chance.
“Do whatever is best for you then, I suppose,” said Hermione.
She watched Lily’s head bob in response. “Just please, be good to him.”
That small flash of anger resurfaced.
“I’ll never hurt him, Lily.” The, like you have was left unspoken, but clearly hung in the air between them.
“Good on you then,” Lily hissed, then quickly walked away, leaving Hermione alone in the corridor.
Or so she thought.
When she turned around, she came face to face with a very pale, and very stunned looking Severus Snape.
Hermione’s heart sped up at the sight of his opened mouth and narrowed eyes.
“Severus!” she exclaimed.
When she took a step towards him, he immediately took a step back from her. Her blood went cold.
“Severus?” she repeated meekly.
Hermione began to panic. How much had he seen? How much had he heard?
He remained silent. All he did was slowly shake his head before he turned on the spot and walked away from her.
Her voice died in her throat as she tried to call out to him. It was cracked and dry.
It took her a moment to register what happened. Before he got too far from her, Hermione hurried after him.
“Severus, wait! Please!”
This was bad. She knew that this was very bad. As far as Severus knew, Hermione didn't know any of the history between he and Lily. Hermione had never brought it up, because she knew it was a sensitive subject for him. She knew that he was most likely angry and ashamed that she did know what happened. But why was he running away from her?
She watched his robes swish around a corner, and she started to run to catch up. He couldn't be left to dwell on this, because when Severus dwelled on something, it always became much more of an issue than it needed to be. She had to catch him.
“Please, Severus! Talk to me!”
When she turned the corner her heart sank. He was nowhere in sight. She felt her throat tighten as her eyes started to water.
Everything had been going so well with them lately, and now because Lily had to stick her nose where it didn't belong, she could have potentially ruined everything. Never in her life did she imagine that she could feel such animosity for Lily Evans, but in that moment, the girl was one of her least favorite people in the world. If she saw her then, she just might have slapped her.
Realizing that there was no use standing in the middle of the hall crying, Hermione returned to her dormitory in a daze. When she walked into the common room, it was filled with students, her friends all in front of the fireplace.
They called out hello to her, and questioned what she was doing, since normally she'd be out in the castle with Severus. Feebly she lied, saying she wasn't feeling well, most likely due to the weather earlier in the day, and that she was heading to bed early without dinner.
Slowly she dragged her feet up the steps to her dorm feeling an ache in her chest that she hadn't felt in quite some time. It was reminiscent to when she witnessed Ron and Lavender snogging for the first time in the middle of the the Gryffindor common room, but much stronger. It was almost like there was a Hippogriff sitting on her chest, making it difficult to breathe properly.
Hermione slumped onto her bed once inside her dormitory. She was exhausted from the long day in the village, drained from her conversation with Lily, and heartsick over what it might have meant for her and Severus.
Not long after Hermione fell onto her bed did she hear the door open, and footsteps come across the room. She quickly wiped off the tears that had fallen from her cheeks and turned onto her side, away from whomever just had come into the room.
“Hermione, is everything alright?” Amelia asked.
With a shuddering breath, Hermione gently shook her head. She felt her bed shift as Amelia sat down next to her.
Hermione explained to Amelia her conversation with Lily. Which Amelia agreed that Lily was out of line telling Hermione not to hurt Severus. And when she told her about Severus overhearing them, and running from Hermione, she placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Oh, Hermione. I'm sorry.” she said, and truly sounded like she meant it. “He didn't know that you knew about the whole situation, right?”
“He never brought it up, so neither did I.”
Amelia began stroking Hermione’s hair, the way a mother would in an attempt to sooth their child.
“Just give him a bit of time. He's probably just ashamed of himself, and maybe fears that you'll think differently of him.”
Hermione shrugged. Fresh tears streamed from her eyes.
“But why wouldn't he stop when I called?”
“I don't know. But I don't think that you'll lose him over this. I've seen the way he looks at you. That boy is mental over you,” Amelia reassured her.
“Merlin, I hope I don't.”
Hermione cried silently while Amelia sat with her, and continued combing through her hair. She was so grateful for her friend in that moment, and was glad that she had someone to voice her fears to.
Even though what Amelia said was probably true, Hermione couldn't help but to still worry.
Would he stop seeing her over this? He wouldn't possibly want to break it off because of Lily, would he? For once the thoughts of any implications about the future did not cross her mind. All she thought of was how she couldn't have lost Severus. He meant too much to her. She cared too much about him. She...she loved him.
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