(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
(Highlight to View) Prompt: The only way the healers could save Severus was to deage him. Suddenly, he's 19 again, newly marked, and doesn't remember anything after that. How does he integrate?
Summary: After Nagini's bite, Severus can't be saved unless he's restored to age nineteen. His past in between is now forgotten. Will he choose the light, or continue in the Dark?
Severus awoke and squinted as bright light blinded him. He cracked his eyes open carefully and let them adjust. He was in a hospital room. Sitting on the chair to his right was a very old woman. Severus finally recognized her as Professor McGonagall. He turned his head, so he could see her clearly.
"Professor, what happened to you?"
The Professor arched an eyebrow at him. "What do you mean?"
"You look… very old," he finally stated somewhat hesitantly.
"Ah," the Professor said as she scooted her chair closer to his bed. "Severus, I'll explain in a minute." She reached out to take his hand. He looked sternly at her, and she drew it back. "I have some disturbing news to tell you, Severus."
Severus' eyes narrowed. "What is it, Professor?"
"You were in an accident, and the only way to save your life was to do a radical magical procedure that affected you in a very specific way."
"Go on," Severus said.
"What year is it?"
Severus looked at her as if she were daft. "It's 1979 of course."
"And what is the last thing you remember?" she asked.
Severus glanced covertly at his arm and shrugged.
McGonagall stood, moved around the bed, and pulled back the bedsheet. "Were you getting this?" she asked as she motioned to the Dark Mark that was still slightly red on his arm.
Severus grabbed his arm and hid the Mark from her. "How did you know?" he demanded.
McGonagall straightened up and moved back to her chair. "Severus, the actual year is 1998, which is why I look so 'old.' Your true age is 38 but in order to save your life, the Healers needed to de-age you back to age 19. They weren't sure if you would remember anything of your past between those ages, but it looks like you don't."
Sitting in her chair heavily, she sighed. "I'm sorry, Severus. I'm here to help you in any way I can."
Severus regarded her coldly. "What deception is this? You are just trying to get information on the Dark Lord from me."
McGonagall reached to the table near her and produced a copy of the Daily Prophet. She handed it to Severus. "Check the date," she instructed.
"May 5th, 1998." He looked up at her. "This could be magically altered."
She motioned to the paper. "Look at the headline and the picture."
Severus glanced at the headline.
Under the headline was a half-page picture of him, only much older. Despite his desire to throw the paper at McGonagall and declare her a charlatan, his visage, with his nose, lanky hair, and black eyes stared back at him, daring him to declare the paper a falsehood. After having a staring contest with the photo, which had folded its arms and arched an eyebrow at him at first sight, he looked to his professor.
"I don't know anything about this man. What happened to me that I am now 19 again?"
She explained everything, from his being a double agent to Nagini's attack. She detailed how someone named Hermione Granger had pulled him out of the Shrieking Shack and Apparated him to St. Mungos. She continued, explaining that the giant wound in his neck wouldn't stop bleeding no matter what the Healers did. His hand went involuntarily to his neck at that point. It felt as pristine as ever.
"So," she continued, "the healers deduced that the only way to completely heal you was to de-age you."
"Who was the imbecile who decided that 19 was the ideal age to reduce me to?" Severus railed.
Professor McGonagall straightened up and looked directly at him. "I did."
Severus gave her a quizzical look. She cleared her throat.
"I wanted you to have a second chance, Severus. You're a hero, but you've paid for that dearly. I hope that being 19 again will give you the opportunity to live your life without all the pain and evil you've been surrounded by."
Severus sat up and leaned toward her. "You had no right. I chose this life." He brandished his Mark at her. "I want to follow the Dark Lord. Do you expect me to just renounce him?"
"Severus, he's dead. And he was the one who tried to kill you. Surely, that must make you realize what he truly was."
Severus snarled at her. "Get out," he said brusquely.
"Severus, someone had to make a decision. You were unconscious. I tried to do what I thought would be best for you in the long run."
Sighing, she rose. "I'm sorry, Severus. I hope you can forgive me. You're my friend; I couldn't watch you die."
She left then, leaving him staring after her, wondering how they ever became friends, and how, if she was his friend, she could know so little about him that she'd send him back to this age.
After reading The Prophet through and then staring at the ceiling for a long while, Severus got up and looked in the mirror. He looked exactly as he'd always looked: lanky body, dark hair falling to his shoulders, thin face, and a hooked nose. Despite seeing a resemblance to his older self, he couldn't see himself as that person.
His musings were interrupted by a knock on his door. He turned to see a young woman standing there smiling tentatively. She wore jeans and a peach shirt, was quite pretty, and had the curliest hair he'd ever seen. Her brown eyes seemed kind. She cleared her throat and began to speak.
"Hi, professor... I mean, Severus. Is it ok if I call you Severus?" She waited for his curt nod before continuing. She moved toward him with her hand extended. "I'm Hermione Granger. You were my professor at Hogwarts. I wanted to see how you were doing. Healer Pye explained that you don't remember anything that happened after you were 19. I'm really sorry to hear that. We all owe you our lives," she gushed.
"Do you always talk so much?" he asked.
She blushed and dropped her hand. "Yes, but I'm a bit nervous, which always exacerbates the issue."
He regarded her coolly. "I suppose I have you to thank for saving my life." he said.
She nodded quickly but looked uncomfortable. "I wasn't sure if you knew. I didn't come here for thanks, though. I came to see how you're doing."
He scoffed. "Why do you care?"
"Well, I've always respected you and admired your wealth of knowledge. I always felt that if we were closer in age, we'd probably have a bit in common."
"You're a spy and a murderer as well?"
Hermione chuckled. "Um, no, I'm not. But I'm rather studious, and I love to learn. You're quite brilliant, so I just thought you would like those things as well." Tilting her head, she went on. "Besides, you're not a murderer."
Severus scoffed. "I read the paper. I understand what I did."
She regarded him seriously. "I don't know if you truly do."
He looked up at her. "Then enlighten me."
"May I sit?" she asked, pointing to the lone chair in the room. He nodded and moved to the bed, sitting on it so he was facing her. She finally went on, motioning to the paper on the stand. "What did you learn from the paper?"
He scowled. "I gave up everything that I believe in to be a spy for Dumbledore, and then I killed him." He looked up at her angrily. "Why would I do such a thing?" Pushing up his sleeve violently, he traced his Mark, which was already starting to fade with the loss of Voldemort. "I didn't just get this Mark to switch sides and become a traitor."
She contemplated for a minute before answering. "Why did you take the Mark?"
"That's none of your business."
She shrugged. "Do you really believe in what he was trying to do? You wanted to kill Muggles?"
He leaned forward towards her tersely. "It isn't about that! It's about believing in something and making a difference. It's about power, and the ability to change the world for the better!"
"By stripping Muggle-born witches and wizards of their wands and rights?"
"That's not what he wanted."
Hermione moved to the edge of her seat and looked into his eyes gravely. "Yes, it was. Back then, when you joined, he had to be subtle to get followers. He couldn't let everyone know what was deep in his heart. Then once they were on board, they saw him for what he truly was. This time around, he didn't have to pander to anyone, and his true evil came through from the start. He wasn't the man you thought he was, Severus. He did want power, but only for himself, and would stop at nothing to gain it. He conned you."
Hermione fished in her purse, pulled out her pocket version of Hogwarts: A History, and handed it to him.
"I know you are coming from a different time. I don't know what he said or told you, but this chronicles everything he did during the first war. Read it and decide for yourself if what he said truly matched what he sold to you."
A shuffling sound came from the doorway. "Oy, Hermione, you're still here? I thought you were just going to say hi and come meet me."
Hermione looked to the red-headed man who had just entered the room. She held out her hand to him. Walking over, he took it. "Severus, this is Ron Weasley," she introduced.
"Snape, you're looking a lot better than you did before. Not so greasy."
Hermione snapped her head to him. "Ron!"
He shrugged. "I'm just sayin'"
"Be nice, Ronald Weasley! Go wait outside. I'll be right there."
Weasley scrunched his eyebrows together but seemed to know better and turned and left.
Hermione reached out and grasped Severus' hand despite his pulling back. She placed her other hand over his.
"I'm sorry for Ron. He doesn't have a filter. I need to go, but I'll come back, and we'll talk more about your reasons for switching sides."
"They're letting me out tomorrow. Evidently, I've made a full recovery," he said tartly.
She smiled. "I'm glad. We've lost so many, I don't know what I would have done or felt had you been lost as well. Will you be staying at Spinner's End?"
"I meant what I said before," Hermione said as she squeezed his hand. "I want to be your friend."
"No one is truly friends with me," he stated darkly.
"Well, that was in your past. You have your entire future ahead of you again, and in this lifetime, you can actually have true friends."
Letting his hand go, she smiled at him before turning and exiting his room. He looked down at his hand and stared at it a while. Doubting he'd ever see the witch again, he shrugged and lay down, awaiting the dawn and his release.
Severus, having been released, was in his home feeling very lost. Lily, from what he'd read, had been killed by the Dark Lord. Perhaps that Hermione woman was right. He had been fooled.
His musings were interrupted by a light knock on the door. Furrowing his brow, he moved to answer it. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a mass of curls surrounding a smiling face.
"You!" he uttered with disdain. "I thought I wouldn't see you again."
"Oh, ye of little faith," Hermione said as she looked at him expectantly. He stared back at her until she sighed. "May I come in?"
"I suppose I have no other option but to let you, as you seem to be the type that will rap at my door all day until you get what you want," he stated dryly.
She chuckled at him. Chuckled! Who was this woman, and why was she bothering him?
Grinning she slipped by him and looked over his sitting room. She didn't say a word about the run down décor but seemed drawn to his bookcase where she slowly fingered the books on his shelf reverently.
"Should I leave you two alone?" He drawled.
Hermione laughed. "Wow, Severus, who knew that you could be so entertaining." Turning to him, she motioned to a small loveseat. "May I sit?"
He nodded, all the while giving her a curious stare. Finally, he settled into his favorite reading chair.
"Did you grow up here?" She asked after a long, awkward silence.
"It's cozy," she stated.
"It's a hole," he replied.
"Well, I'm sure you could spruce it up if you want to stay."
He nodded again.
Sighing, she crossed her legs and leaned back in the seat. "When I left yesterday, you were about to tell me why you had decided to follow Voldemort."
"No, I wasn't," he replied. "Remember, it's none of your business."
"So, what would you like to talk about then?"
"You know what I want from you. Tell me why I switched sides."
"I would assume it's because of Lily Potter," she told him.
"Because the Dark Lord killed her?"
"Yes, and because you had heard the prophecy about Harry being the one to defeat Voldemort, which caused him to kill her."
His face turned ashen. "What?"
She explained the prophecy and reasoning behind Voldemort's murder of his beloved friend.
"Merlin, I killed her."
Hermione was up in an instant and kneeling in front of him. "Severus, don't. It's not true. Voldemort killed her, and if you hadn't heard the prophecy, someone else would have."
"How could this have happened? I was so sure in taking this Mark." His hand went to his now faded Mark and he dug his nails into it. He felt Hermione's hand surround his and draw it away from his arm.
"Stop this, now," she said gently. Her other hand moved to his Mark, and she lightly traced the lines. "Will you tell me now why you decided to take this?"
He frowned. "I was just talking with Mulciber the other day." He blushed. "You know what I mean." At her nod, he continued. "He had recently joined. He was saying how amazing it was to be part of something; to have a purpose. It's something I've never felt before. I wanted to be accepted by somebody… by a group." His face became hard. "And I wanted to show Lily she was wrong." He looked at Hermione. "But she wasn't, was she? In the end, she was right. She was right about everything about me."
"No, Severus. She was very wrong about you. You may have been enticed by him, but ultimately you saw him for what he was. You are a hero."
He pulled out of her grasp then, stood and began to pace. "I was a fool! I should have known it was all too good to be true."
"No!" He wheeled around and turned to her, extending his arm. "I thought this would help me. All it did was destroy me!" He moved to the chair again and sunk into it, resting his head in his hands. "Please, just go. I need to think."
She nodded and rose. "Let me know if you want to talk. I'm only an owl away." With that, she took her leave, closing the door quietly behind her.
He grasped his hair and tugged at it. This was all wrong. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. How had he been so stupid to let himself be coerced by his so-called friends? Now he had to live with all that he couldn't truly remember. It would have been better for McGonagall to have just let him die than have to live with this.
Severus didn't see Hermione Granger again for several weeks. It seemed she was willing to give him his privacy, and for that, he found he respected her. Their next encounter came as he was heading out of Hogwarts after having been summoned by Professor McGonagall. Hermione was in the Great Hall, magically fixing some of the walls that had been damaged.
"Hermione," he greeted her somewhat shyly.
Hermione looked up and saw him smiling thinly at her.
"Oh, Severus! It's so good to see you. How are you feeling? What have you been doing?"
Severus held up his hands. "You seem to be nervous again," he said drolly.
She grinned. "No, just happy to see you out and about."
"Yes, Professor McGonagall asked me to join her for tea. She had something to discuss with me."
Weasley appeared at that point, came up to Hermione, and snogged her soundly.
Severus cleared his throat.
"Oy, Snape, can't you see we're busy?" Weasley stated after pulling away from Hermione.
"Weasley," he acknowledged while Hermione slapped her boyfriend against the chest.
"Be nice!" she demanded.
She seemed to demand that a lot from him. He wondered what she saw in the other man.
He was about to speak when he noticed their attention was drawn behind him. He turned to see who was joining them and his heart stood still. His wand slipped into his hand before he realized that he wasn't looking at a very well put together Inferius of James Potter, but was viewing his son, Harry.
Severus holstered his wand, looking a bit embarrassed. Hermione rushed at Harry and enveloped him in a big hug.
"Oh, Harry! I'm glad you were able to come help out."
He hugged her, then broke away and looked at Severus.
"Are you... Professor Snape?" he asked tentatively.
"I'm no one's professor now," Severus answered. "Just call me Severus."
Harry extended his hand, but Severus just stared at it. Harry slowly replaced it back by his side.
"Severus, I want to thank you for everything you've done for us. I treated you unfairly before because I didn't know what you were doing, although that doesn't make it right. I hope you can forgive me."
"I don't remember anything you did, Harry, but if you're anything like your father, I doubt you're very sorry for any of it," he sneered.
"Harry's not his father, Severus," Hermione said solemnly.
"I know my dad was a prat to you. I'm sorry for that too." Harry extended his hand again. Severus grimaced at it but reluctantly shook it. Looking up at Harry he explained, "I suppose this is the time for fresh starts, so why not have one with you."
Harry smiled. He fished into his coat pocket and produced a small vial. "I was actually going to stop by your home later today to give this to you."
Severus recognized the vial to be filled with memories. He looked quizzically at Harry. Harry shrugged. "The papers never knew about this. Before you died...um, passed out, you gave me these memories. I thought maybe they would help you to know who you were."
Severus reached out and took the vial, staring at it thoughtfully. Finally, he put it into his pocket and thanked Harry.
"We should all go out to lunch at the Three Broomsticks." Hermione suggested.
"Yeah, I'm starved," Ron agreed.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Ron, you're always starved."
Severus was about to back out when Hermione pointed at him. "Oh, no you don't. You have to eat too. You need to come with us."
"Give up now, mate." Harry advised. "When she points at you and uses that tone, there's no arguing with her."
Severus' lips curled up infinitesimally. "I guess I'm coming along then."
They Apparated to Hogsmeade and were soon seated in the pub with Butterbeers and great plates of fish and chips in front of them. Harry and Ron had been talking Quidditch, but Hermione turned to Severus instead of joining in with them.
"So, what did Professor McGonagall want?" she asked.
"She offered me a job."
"Does she want you to be the Potions Master?"
"And did you say yes?" Hermione asked with a bit of excitement in her voice. The boys stopped talking to hear his answer as well.
"I did." he replied succinctly.
Hermione's eyes lit up. "Then we'll be teaching together," she cried.
"I'm glad we're not going back then," Ron commented. "Having to deal with Snape was bad enough, but having both Hermione and him as teachers... that's frightening."
"Ron!" Hermione cried.
"Be nice," she and Severus said at the same time. Hermione whipped her head around to give him an incredulous look. He shrugged and smirked.
She huffed and took a sip of her Butterbeer. Harry chuckled at her and finally spoke. "You have to admit, you can be scary when you need to."
"I suppose," she replied peevishly.
Severus cleared his throat and addressed Hermione again. "To be honest, I was surprised she asked me. I think she's daft. I have no experience, and being a Death Eater has its drawbacks."
"Severus, you're a hero," Hermione retorted.
"Being a Death Eater didn't stop you before," Ron muttered.
Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "You were a bit of an arse as a teacher. You mentioned new starts earlier. This can be one for you."
Severus sat back and folded his arms, regarding Harry. "So, tell me what I did that was so awful while I was a teacher," he asked earnestly. "I've heard that I was terrible, but I don't know what I did."
Harry thought about it. "Well, first of all, you were very partial to the Slytherins. They could do no wrong, and the other houses could do no right."
"And you thought we were all stupid," Ron added.
"You were derogatory to us whenever you could be," Hermione stated. "You had sarcastic comments for everything." She looked up at him. "Do you think any of that was part of your cover?"
Severus shrugged his shoulders. "It would make sense if it were. Or I was just a jerk."
"I vote for the latter," Ron replied under his breath. Hermione looked at him in shock, because despite his wanting to be private, the words had been very audible.
Severus chuckled none-the-less. "That's highly likely," he countered.
"Well, I think that it was part of your spying," Hermione said matter-of-factly.
Severus contemplated her. She seemed to always have a good word for him, even though it seemed he had not treated her very well in his previous life.
"I have no intention of insulting everyone right off. Perhaps if they deserve it, however..."
Harry glanced at him and couldn't help grin. "You're funnier than I expected," he said.
The group continued talking and eating for a good while until everyone decided it was time to go back to Hogwarts and resume their main task: repairing the castle.
Severus stood in his home holding the vial that Harry Potter had given him. He had no idea what he would find in his previous memories, but he felt a bit nervous. What was in this vial of secrets he was staring at?
He'd found a Pensieve underneath his dresser. He now removed it and let it float over the bed. Pouring in the memories, he watched as they shimmered out of the vial and into the water. He paused, wondering if he should just forget the whole thing.
"Don't be a coward," he told himself and plunged into the memories.
He smiled as he saw Lily growing up over the years. He glared as he saw her happy with Potter. Suddenly, he saw himself begging Professor Dumbledore to help with saving Lily. Here was where his loyalty to Voldemort had disappeared. The other horrid memories unfolded rapidly as he stared on in horror. He emerged from the Pensieve and gasped. Falling to his knees, he let out a great moan. Living those memories had been too much. Everything crashed upon him, and he literally fell apart. He mourned Lily, his ruined life, his murdering of Dumbledore… all of it. Great tears coursed down his cheeks as he collapsed onto the floor.
After a while he had the strength to sit up. His tears slowly let up, and he began to feel whole again. His outburst had been cathartic. Everything had been building since he awoke in the hospital, and it was a relief to have grieved for it all.
He wiped his eyes and face and got up. Moving to his bedside table, he pulled out his journal. The night before he'd found it Disillusioned in his drawer. In for a penny, in for a pound, he thought. He would push through and read the journal tonight and see exactly who he had been before. Maybe he could become that man again, only better.
It had taken all night and half the morning, but he'd finally finished his journal. He finally had a grasp of who he'd been, and why he'd done everything. Some of it had seemed petty to him. He really didn't like the teacher he'd become. His bitterness and inability to connect with his students had been disturbing. He reflected on his own teachers and the ones who had left the largest mark on him. They certainly hadn't been the ones who were awful all the time, no matter how intelligent they were.
Sighing, he looked down at the journal. It would stand as a guide and a warning as to what he wanted for his life, and what he didn't want to become. Rising from the bed, he placed the book on his dresser, leaning against his mirror. Hopefully the daily sight of it would keep him on the path he wanted for himself.
He'd spent most of that day catching up on sleep. The next morning, he packed what he needed for Hogwarts, shrunk it all and placed it into his pocket, turned to view his run down home, and left without another look back.
Apparating to the Hogwarts gates, he opened them and studied the castle. As he walked up the path, he stole a glance towards the tree that had become his study area during his time as a student. Perhaps he'd come out here later and review the syllabi Minerva had sent to him.
He drew near the doors and hesitated for a second. The weight of the importance of this moment didn't escape him. He placed his hand on the door and opened it, literally starting a new page in his history. It was hard to believe he'd already lived a lifetime. He wished he had some of that wisdom still in his head, but he was happy for the journal that he hoped would ground him in this new life. It was securely shrunken in his pocket with all his other belongings and would be prominently visible in his new bedroom.
It hadn't taken him long to get settled into his rooms. Now sitting under his study tree, he lifted his legs and laid the first years' syllabus on them and began to review. Before long he was buried in his work.
He was so engrossed that he didn't noticed Hermione come up to him until her shadow covered up his materials. He looked up to see her smiling down at him.
"Good morning, Severus, may I join you?" She asked cheerily.
"Yes, of course," he said while moving over slightly to make room for her if she wanted to lean against the trunk along with him.
"A red shirt, huh? When did you become so Gryffindor?"
"Very funny, witch."
Settling herself next to him, she leaned over to look at what he was studying.
"Are those lesson plans?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered. "I thought I'd get a head start looking over these."
"Why didn't you just look them over at home?"
He grinned at her. "This is my home now. I moved in earlier this morning."
Hermione gasped. "Really? Why that's brilliant, but what made you move in so early?"
Severus grimaced. "Spinner's End is not really a home. I've been working to fix it up, but it just makes me feel dismal."
Hermione nodded. "I understand." She looked back at the castle. "This has always seemed like my home away from home. Maybe I should move in early as well. I sort of lost my home in the war."
"What happened?" Severus asked curiously.
She explained about her parents, that they'd sold her home, and liked living in Australia. "I've been living at Grimmauld Place since the war ended."
"Isn't that the Black family residence?" Severus asked.
Hermione nodded. "Harry inherited it after Sirius Black was killed. He lives there as well."
"You live with Potter? How many men do you need, Granger?"
She laughed. "It's not like that. We're like brother and sister, but if you asked Ron, he thinks we're going at it like rabbits." She rolled her eyes. "Seriously, that man is jealous of everything."
They were quiet for a minute until Severus turned to her. "Hermione, I know we don't know each other incredibly well, but may I ask you a personal question?"
Her eyes met his. "Of course, Severus, we're friends. You can ask me anything you'd like."
"What is it you see in Weasley?"
She furrowed her brow and looked away.
"I mean... I know I haven't seen you two together much, but you seem to bicker a lot, and he's always saying something that makes you annoyed."
Hermione pulled her knees up and hugged them. She sighed. "I've been attracted to Ron for years, but we just got together officially at the end of the war. What do I see in him? He's handsome. I like his smile. He makes me laugh..." She sighed again and looked to the ground.
"But..." Severus said.
"Since we've been together, I've not been sure what I want. Now that the war is over, the things we have in common seem to be getting fewer and fewer."
"You two seem to be polar opposites," Severus mused.
"And that used to be fun. Now, it's beginning to grate on my nerves, and this jealousy thing... it's been ongoing since our fifth year. It worries me that he's always going to be like this and jump to conclusions about every man I talk to."
Severus nodded. "Your worries make sense. If he loves you, he should show that to you and not worry about other men. If you feel his love, there would be no reason for you to look elsewhere."
She nodded. "That's very insightful of you." Straightening up, she looked at him. "Did Lily know of your feelings for her?"
Severus frowned. "I was too young and stupid to show her how I felt. Then I said something horrid to her, and our friendship ended."
"Do you think if she knew, things would have gone another way with the two of you?"
Severus looked to the ground. "I'd like to think so, but what I said to her was unforgivable."
Hermione scoffed. "Being called a Mudblood is certainly not an unforgivable offense."
"How would you feel if someone called you that?" Severus asked sullenly.
Hermione sighed. "People call me that all the time."
He was silent for a moment, regarding her. "But have your best friends ever called you that? Has Ron ever called you that?"
Looking him in the eye, she answered, "No, thankfully my friends haven't done anything like that. I'm not saying what you did was right, but..." She pursed her lips and gave him a determined look. "If Ron or Harry ever called me that, I would be incredibly hurt, and I probably wouldn't speak to them for a while. But Severus, friends forgive one another. Knowing my friends, there would have had to be some extenuating circumstances for anything like that to come out of their mouths."
"Do you know the story behind what I said?" Severus asked tentatively.
Hermione nodded. She didn't say anything more for a while.
"See, even you can't forgive me for it."
Hermione looked at him. "I stand by my opinion earlier. That's no reason to end a friendship. I would think, had it been me, I would have wanted to work through it once I got over my initial feelings."
Severus was stunned. Hermione reached out and grasped his hand.
"Severus, she should have forgiven you, and you need to forgive yourself. It happened a long time ago. Let it go and move on."
He stared at her hand holding his and looked up into her eyes. "How do I do that?" he whispered.
She squeezed his hand. "Realize what it was and what it wasn't. It was several years ago; would you ever say such a thing now? Do I need to worry that you will call me that?"
He shook his head. "Of course not."
"And you apologized to her?"
He nodded. "Repeatedly."
She frowned. "Then it seems that you've made up for your actions. Let it go. Maybe even review that memory in a Pensieve or something. That might help."
She squeezed his hand again and rose to leave. "I think I've taken enough of your study time," she explained.
Severus closed the syllabus and put it with the others. Shrinking them, he placed them in his trouser pocket. He rose and looked at her again. "I think my mind is in too much of a whirl to absorb these. I'll help you out with repairs."
"Hermione," Severus said as he reached out for her hand and squeezed it like she had done to him. "Thank you. You've given me a lot to think about."
Her smile lit up, and Severus marveled at how utterly beautiful she looked in that moment. Soon it passed, and they walked back to the castle to help with repairs.
She'd come by every day since then. They'd meet out under the tree and sit and talk and usually help with repairs afterward. Severus enjoyed her visits and was glad she stopped by so much. One day she appeared again and sat down without even asking to join him.
"Your boyfriend is going to be jealous of all the time we spend together, Granger," Severus said.
Hermione chuckled. "What Ron doesn't know won't hurt him."
"I still say you're wasting your time with that imbecile. You deserve better."
Severus thought he heard Hermione's breath catch, but he couldn't be sure. She got really quiet and looked to the ground. He decided to change the subject.
"By the way, I took your advice from last week. I reviewed that memory of Lily in the Pensieve. Do you know what I noticed?"
Hermione looked to him curiously. "What?"
"When Potter strung me upside down, Lily almost laughed."
"No! Why would she do that?"
Severus shrugged. "Perhaps she wasn't as good a friend as I thought she was."
"Perhaps," Hermione said while deep in thought. "That seems so two-faced."
Severus nodded. "In any case, thank you for your suggestion. I've made peace with it. I've felt guilty for too long."
Hermione took his hand. She seemed to do that a lot.
"I'm glad. You deserve to be at peace."
Their eyes met, and a jolt went through Severus. Hermione seemed very flustered. She nervously got to her feet. "Well, we've got a lot of work to do, Severus. Shall we go make some repairs?"
Severus got to his feet also, trying to ignore the feelings within him. He nodded to Hermione as they set out for the castle. They walked silently as Severus' mind whirled with thoughts. Improper thoughts, if he were to be frank with himself. Hermione was his friend, but there had been a spark when she looked at him. He was attracted to her. He doubted that Hermione felt that way about him, though.
Finally, they reached the Divination classroom. Hermione opened the door, and they both entered, looking around at the damage. One entire side of the tower had been destroyed, and there was rubble everywhere.
"It sort of looks better like this," Hermione stated.
Severus chuckled. "Not a fan of the fine art of Divination, are we?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "It's codswallop."
She began waving her wand in large circles, and the stones began to gather. Soon all the rubble was swirling in circles like it was trapped in a tornado. Hermione flicked her wand, and the stones moved into their original places, making the tower wall look as if it had never been touched.
"Nice wand work," Severus said, regarding her with appreciation.
Hermione beamed. "Thank you." She looked around. "I guess we should restore the shelving along the wall and rehang the curtains."
"Allow me," Severus responded and did his own fancy wand work to replace everything.
Hermione smiled at him impishly. "I thought you weren't a fan of foolish wand waving."
He looked at her curiously.
"It was your opening speech to the first years." She lowered her voice and quoted it verbatim to him. "You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses.... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death — if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
Severus laughed. "I like the ending. It seems typical of me. Why did you memorize that?" he asked curiously.
Hermione blushed and looked down. "To be honest with you, I was so enchanted by those words that I would disillusion myself and sneak into your first-year class every year just so I could hear them. And you said that dunderhead part every single year."
Chuckling, Severus looked at Hermione. "What was so enchanting about it?"
Hermione shrugged. "The delivery, first of all. Your voice can be almost hypnotic when you're talking about something that you love. The way you described what can be done with Potions... honestly, Severus, you made me want to truly experience that."
He regarded her solemnly. "I thought you hated my teaching."
Hermione whipped her head up and met his eyes. "That's not true at all! I just hated the way you treated us... me especially."
Severus looked away. "About that," he sighed. "In reading my journal, it seems I wrote about you a bit. Believe it or not I had quite a lot of respect for you and your intelligence. Without you, Potter would have probably perished seven times over, and we'd still be under the Dark Lord's rule. I can assure you that most of the bad things I said were because of my role as a spy. Things tended to get back to the Dark Lord, no matter how secretive anyone was. I needed to have a long-term history of treating you like shite." He looked to her then. "I'm sorry about that."
Hermione smiled thinly at him. "Severus, I had hoped it was something like that. I will admit you hurt my feelings a lot."
"Then why are you my friend now?" he asked grimly.
"I don't hold any grudges about it. Like you said, you had to keep up appearances. Besides, I think you're fun to be around."
Severus blushed and looked to the floor.
Hermione eyed the room again. "I wonder what Trelawney would do if we changed the color of her curtains to black." She waved her wand and all the purple and pink dissolved to black.
"Hermione!" Severus chided without malice.
She turned them back to their original colors and grinned. "I was just having some fun."
Severus waved his wand, and her shirt turned green. Hermione looked at him incredulously.
"Oh, you're asking for it!" she exclaimed. With a wave of her wand, his shirt was now crimson with golden lions embroidered into it.
Severus' mouth gaped open. His wand flicked, and a large silver snake appeared on her shirt. It slithered from front to back repeatedly. Hermione flicked her wand back at Severus, but nothing happened.
"What did you do?" Severus asked.
She looked at him smugly. "You won't be able to remove that shirt for the rest of the day." She grinned evilly at him.
"Two can play at that game." His flick not only did the same to her shirt, but added a green snake headband which pulled her hair back. "There, that will keep your hair from attacking me."
Hermione folded her arms and glared at Severus. "Just because my hair has a mind of its own, Severus Snape, doesn't mean you can be cruel!"
"Hermione, I was only joking," he said. "I love your hair." His eyes grew wide with his admission, and he turned and pretended to examine their repairs. "I think we're done here. Everything looks to be in order," he replied nervously, hoping she wouldn't say anything about his comment.
They rose, and she moved beside him but didn't look at him. "Yes, everything looks the way it did before."
"I have some things to take care of. I'll see you tomorrow, Hermione."
She nodded, and he turned and left. His mind was whirling. What had he done? He needed to be careful of what he said, or she'd know for sure that he was attracted to her. He'd been a spy before, right? Surely, keeping a girl from knowing he liked her would be easy after that.
Thankfully, things hadn't gotten awkward between the two of them. The week had gone by swiftly, and Hermione had decided to stay for dinner that Friday night.
"Don't you have plans with Weasley?" Severus asked as they settled into their seats at the Head Table.
She shrugged and looked to her plate.
"Uh oh," Severus said. "Is there trouble in paradise?"
"I don't think it ever was paradise, Severus."
"What's going on? Are you two fighting?"
She shrugged again. "I just needed some space. I told him that I wanted some time to myself this weekend."
Severus put some mashed potatoes on his plate and passed the bowl to her. "So, he was all right with that?"
She scoffed. "He said I needed to get away from this castle. He thinks I'm obsessed with it."
"Have you not told him that we work on the castle together?"
Hermione nodded. "I told him a little while ago." She didn't say anything more.
"You said before he was the jealous sort. Is he all right with that?"
She looked at Severus angrily. "I don't care if he's all right with that or not. I can spend time with whomever I like. You and I are just friends, and I've told him that as well."
"I suppose by what you've just said, he has a problem with us."
She sighed and placed some green beans on her plate before cutting into her roast. "He's jealous of you. He thinks I spend all my time here."
"Well, he's right about that."
She glared at him. "That may be, but we're working on fixing the castle." Her hand went out and motioned around her. "It's not like we're snogging around every corner."
The thought of snogging Hermione Granger made his heart beat faster, but Severus calmed himself down and came back to the matter at hand.
Hermione continued. "I told him last night that I planned on eating here with you, and that I would see him after I was done. He came unglued. I won't repeat the insulting things he said. I told him that if he was going to act like a child, then he could forget about seeing me for the entire weekend. That's when he turned red and marched out of my apartment swearing that he was going to take up with his ex-girlfriend again because at least she appreciated him."
Severus looked to his plate and swirled his meat in his gravy. "Hermione, how long are you going to put up with him? He seems to make you upset more and more. You're not just bickering any more, but actually fighting. I can't remember the last time you said you had fun with him."
Hermione played with the food on her plate. "I care about him. I want to make this work."
Severus snorted. "Yes, but does he? He has to do his part as well, Hermione. It can't only be you."
"I know you're right, but for years I had hoped that we'd get together. Now I almost wish we hadn't."
Severus looked at her gravely. "What do you really want, Hermione?"
She looked up at him. "I honestly don't know."
Severus regarded her for a while. It was obvious to him what she needed to do, but he knew he was biased because of his feelings for her. She was his friend and needed his support. That support needed to be impartial.
"I just don't want you to be hurt by him. He needs to change, or this won't work."
She nodded. "I'm just hoping that he will."
They returned to their meal. Hermione soon looked a bit cheerier. "So, I'm free for the evening. Would you like to do something fun?"
"Define 'fun'," Severus said.
Hermione laughed. "Well, we could go to Hogsmeade." Her eyes lit up. "I know, we could Apparate to London and go to the cinema."
"And what do you suggest we see?" Severus asked tartly.
"There's a new romance about Cinderella called Ever After."
Severus grimaced, which made Hermione laugh out loud. "I knew you'd make that face if I suggested a romance!" She giggled. "You're so predictable."
"Oh, really?" Severus asked as he raised his eyebrow. "Then what movie would I want to see, according to you?"
"They're running a Schwarzenegger film festival downtown. I would say Terminator, but I think you're more of a True Lies sort of bloke."
He arched his eyebrow again. "Having recently caught up on all the entertainment news since I was previously nineteen, I'd have to say that's a good guess."
"So, are you in?"
"Of course. I like Schwarzenegger's voice."
"You like his voice? Have you listened to yourself lately?"
He looked at her curiously.
"Your voice is amazing. I could listen to you recite the phone book and never be bored."
"Anderson, Arnold; Ardeman, David; Azdale, William," he ground out.
She hit his arm playfully. "I stand by what I said. I could listen to you all night, but we have a movie to get to."
They finished their meal and soon headed for London. As they got to the Apparation point, Severus pulled her close.
"I think Side-along would be the easiest way to get there, if you're all right with that."
Hermione nodded and put her arms around his waist, despite not needing to. Severus felt a flash of heat as her arms went around him. He pushed down his reaction and spun them to within a block of their destination. Severus held out his arm for her to take, and they began their short walk. Her arm on his made his heart dance. Even though she had no feelings for him but friendship, he couldn't get her out of his mind. How he wished she'd give up on Weasley and consider being with him. He knew the likelihood of that was nil, though.
The movie had been exciting. Severus wanted to hold Hermione's hand the whole time, but he kept himself in check. They refilled the popcorn on their way out and were discussing the film on the way back to the Apparation spot.
"So, did you relate to that movie, Severus? You know, being a spy and all."
Severus popped a handful of popcorn into his mouth and mumbled his answer to her. "I was never a spy."
"But you were, though. You just can't remember."
"According to my journal, it was never that romantic. He's like Bond, but American... and married."
"I felt so bad for him when he found out Helen was cheating on him. He was like a little lost puppy."
"I enjoyed them working together in the end. That's pretty much the ideal marriage if you ask me."
Hermione looked at him thoughtfully. "Really? Is that what you want out of a partner?"
Severus looked to her. "Well, sort of." He stopped and turned to her. "The thought of lying to my partner every day like Harry did is unpalatable. That's why I never dated as a spy. The only way to have a good relationship is to be honest with one another."
She nodded slowly. "Yes, but in the movie, Helen forgave him."
"In real life, though, things don't always work out that way. I much prefer their later relationship, sharing everything about each other and working together to solve things. I would like that with a partner. Dancing the Tango would be an added bonus, of course."
She angled her head and regarded him. "Severus Snape, you're a closet romantic! Who would have ever guessed that?"
He took the handful of the popcorn he was eating and threw it at her. Her mouth dropped open in shock as she reached into the bucket and showered him with some. They each grabbed handfuls and threw them at each other until the popcorn bucket was empty, and they began to laugh uncontrollably. They looked at each other mid-laugh, and Severus felt that pull towards her again. He stopped laughing, and so did she. They stared awkwardly at each other for a moment before Hermione broke the tension and looked at the ground. She chuckled again.
"Well, we made quite the mess, didn't we?" she remarked.
He nodded. "The birds will enjoy a hearty breakfast." He tossed the bucket into a nearby trashcan and they headed back to the Apparation point. He pulled her close again, and she surrounded his waist with her arms. He was so tempted to lean in and kiss her. She almost looked like she would welcome it, but he knew it was only his imagination.
"Ready?" he asked finally.
She nodded, and they disappeared into the night.
The next day Hermione knocked on his door right before breakfast. He opened it and found her smiling brightly at him. She whizzed into his room and bid him good morning.
"You're here awfully early," he said.
"I thought you might like to go to breakfast with me," she remarked, still grinning.
He gave her a quick bow of his head. "I would enjoy that very much. I'm surprised you got out of Grimmauld so early."
Her grin widened. "Well," she said. "After last night, I decided to move in here. I'm tired of doing everything for Ron. I stayed at Grimmauld Place for him. I've wanted to move in here ever since you did, but I just never wanted to hash it out with him."
"So, are you saying you're giving up on Ron?" Severus asked hopefully.
She stared at him for a while. "No, I still want to try and work that out, but he needs to know I'm not always going to be right there at his beck and call. I packed all my things and moved here this morning."
Severus grinned. "I'm glad to hear that, Hermione. I hope everything works out for you the way it should," he offered.
"Thanks! I hope it does as well. As for now, I've got a hankering for some bangers and eggs."
"Well, my lady, who am I to stop you?"
He extended his arm, and they proceeded to the Great Hall.
At dinner, he found that Weasley and Potter were there. The two sat with Hermione conversing about their day. Evidently, Hermione and Weasley had patched things up again. He was glad for her, but felt unsettled about the whole thing. He nodded to them as he took a seat and filled his plate. He wasn't really paying attention to the three when he heard Potter address him.
"What do you think, Severus?"
Severus grimaced. "Sorry, I was thinking about something and didn't hear your question."
"Do you want to play some Quidditch after dinner?"
Severus mulled it over. "I'm not very good," he stated.
"Neither is Hermione, but we always have fun when we play a friendly game. Come join us."
Severus thought about it and then gave a quick nod.
The game had been fun, and Severus had enjoyed himself immensely. Harry had sent his Patronus to the Weasleys' home, and the entire family had come out to play. Severus had never seen so many gingers amassed in one place. Agreeing to gather again for a rematch soon, they all had Disapparated, leaving Hermione and him alone on the Quidditch pitch.
"Well, that was fun!" Hermione gushed. "And we showed them about not being able to play, right?"
Severus smiled as they turned and began to head back to the castle. Hermione linked her arm with his and arched an eyebrow at him.
"What?" he demanded.
"I think you told them you weren't good so they'd underestimate you."
Severus gave her a boyish grin and shrugged.
"That's so Slytherin of you!" she teased.
"That's one of the first rules you learn as a Slytherin. Never let an opponent know exactly what you're capable of."
"Oh, really? What other rules do you learn as a Slytherin?" she asked coyly.
"Not to share the rules with others."
She pulled on his arm. "Oh, come on! You're not a student anymore. Spill the beans."
He stopped and turned to her. "If I told you, I'd have to kidnap you and hide you away from everyone, so you wouldn't let out our deep, dark secrets."
Hermione giggled at him, and as he looked at her, the idea of hiding her away forever seemed incredibly appealing. He got closer to her.
"I'm serious. The great House of Slytherin guards its secrets well."
"Come on, tell me. You were fine about telling me the first one."
He straightened up. "Oh, I was, wasn't I? Perhaps it was a Slytherin trick, so you'd ask about all of them, and I could implement my evil plan to steal you away."
"Oh, there's nothing evil about you, Severus Snape. You just huff and puff a lot, but in there," she touched his heart, "you're all soft and sweet."
He pulled back with a grimace. "Woman, never describe me as soft OR sweet. Those are words that Slytherins abhor when describing themselves. We are cunning and ambitions, never soft and sweet."
Her hand had remained on his chest as she slightly squeezed him. "You can try to fool me all you want, Severus. I see who you really are."
Their eyes met and held each other captive for a minute. He came closer to her, wanting to kiss her, but then thought better of it. Despite not kissing her, electricity flew between them. At least that's what he perceived. He assumed Hermione didn't feel it, as she pulled away and shifted her eyes around. She pointed to the moon, which had risen as they had made their way to the castle.
"Look, the sky is beautiful tonight," she said, her voice wavering.
Severus looked up. "The moon is looking very lovely, and you can see more stars than usual."
They admired the sky for a few more minutes before moving on. Severus became internally maudlin, wishing they could have more between them, but knowing that she didn't care for him in that way.
The first day of school finally arrived. Severus was a bit nervous. He sat under their tree and saw Hermione coming towards him. He immediately felt more at ease. She had a way of making him see things differently, and he knew she'd help take his mind off his worries.
As she approached, he began to wonder what was wrong. Her hands were curled into fists, and she was scowling. She came up to him, and he could see the crackle of her magic radiating from her.
"Hermione, whatever is wrong, you need to calm down. I could probably roast marshmallows off the crackling of your magical aura."
Hermione sat down hard next to him and studied the ground while mumbling. Severus heard something like 'selfish git' and 'got what he deserved.'
He twisted toward her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Hermione," he said softly. "Tell me what's happened."
She finally looked up to him with fury in her eyes. "You know what? I don't care what he does! I'm through with him."
Anger filled Severus' face. "What did Weasley do now?"
Severus calmed himself, and his tone softened. "Tell me."
"He asked me to marry him!"
Severus arched an eyebrow. "Shouldn't that make you happy?" His demeanor didn't give away the inner turmoil that was going on with her statement.
She looked up then, and he saw tears starting to form in her eyes. "Yes, it should, but it doesn't. You know that I've not known what to do about him, and that I think we're growing apart instead of getting closer. Severus, I told him no."
"I assume he was disappointed."
She snorted. "He was furious. He accused me of bedding both Harry and you. Then he said that I was just a trollop who couldn't keep her pants on." Tears were running down her cheeks at this point. Her voice wavered as she continued. "He said that he could get any woman he wanted, and if I didn't agree to marry him right then, he'd go out and find someone who would."
Severus' arms were around her, pulling her to him in an instant. Anger filled him, but he realized she needed to calm down because he could feel her magic on the verge of exploding.
"If you'd like, I could Obliviate him and give him the memories of the Fat Lady."
She gave a small chuckle, and he felt the magic around her diminish slightly. She relaxed into him but didn't raise her head from his chest.
"I hexed him, Severus. I told him that we were through and to never come by again, and then I hexed his tongue to swell so he can't say such things about me." Her head remained buried in his chest. "Do you think I'm a whore, Severus?"
He squeezed her tighter. "Hermione, I could never think such an ugly thing of you."
Her tears flowed freely then, which helped her magic to calm down. Pulling her away from him after a while, he dried her eyes. He looked into them and felt the pull of attraction he had to her enveloping him again. He'd been fighting against this all summer, but her tearful eyes looking at him just made him realize that he was in love with her.
"He's a fool not to see how wonderful you are," he murmured. He couldn't help himself at that point. He pulled her to him and kissed her. The reality of what he was doing dawned on him; and he pulled away quickly.
"Merlin, I'm sorry, Hermione. I just... It'll never happen again, I swear. I'm sorry."
He stood and swiftly left the area, ignoring her calls for him to come back.
Severus was in his room, pacing. What the hell was wrong with him? What had he done? Ruined everything, that's what he'd done. She would never talk to him again, he was sure of that. Ugh, he'd taken advantage of her. What kind of a louse was he?
There was a knock on his door that made him freeze in his place. Another knock came after a few seconds.
"Severus?" Hermione called. "Severus, I know you're in there. We need to talk about this. Please open the door."
He couldn't face her.
"Severus Snape, you open the door now, or I'm just going to shout at it until you do!" She pounded on the door again. "Severus, please!"
He made his way to the door and caressed it, wishing he were brave enough to open it and tell her how he felt. "Oh, Hermione," he whispered and closed his eyes. Leaning his forehead against the door, he wished everything had been different, and that she wanted him.
"Fine," she yelled. "If this is the way you want to do this, so be it. Why did you run after you kissed me? Did you just do it to shut me up? Did you come to your senses mid-kiss and realize you didn't like me at all? Did you find me so repulsive that you had to run? Why, Severus?"
Her questions made his heart constrict within him. He found her beautiful and desirable and would never just kiss a woman to shut her up. He wrenched the door open and pulled her into the room. Everything he wanted to say at that moment disappeared from his head as he looked at her. She was crying about him. He'd hurt her and hadn't even realized it.
His hands went to her arms. "Hermione, how could you ever think such things?" he asked in barely a whisper.
Tears streamed down her face. "Why did you run? Why didn't you come back and talk to me? What was I supposed to think?"
"Please don't cry." He pulled her to him and hugged her desperately.
"Severus, talk to me," she begged while staying in his embrace.
"I took advantage of the situation, and I truly apologize for it. Please forgive me."
She pulled back and looked into his eyes. "What do you feel for me, Severus?"
"No, let's not go into that. I cherish our friendship, and I won't have anything destroy it."
"Severus, I need to know."
He couldn't make the words come out of his mouth. He just stared at her plaintively.
She frowned at him before she began to speak again. "When Ron asked me to marry him, I felt cheated and heartbroken. Do you know why?"
Severus shook his head.
"Because I wanted you to be the one proposing to me, but I have always known we were just friends. I knew you didn't feel that way about me, but Ron's question brought everything to a head. I realized I'd been trying to make the impossible work with Ron because I thought I could never have you."
Severus' eyes moved to hers. He was drawn into them.
"But now you know that's not true," he said.
"Do I? You ran away."
"I ran because I had taken advantage of you when you were upset. You wanted it to work with Weasley. There was never any room in your heart for me."
"My heart only holds you, Severus," she replied in a whisper.
His hands came up to her face. "Are you sure? Because I couldn't take it if this were all just some fantasy, and you went back to Weasley tomorrow."
She scoffed. "I'll never go back to him. Not when you're here."
He pulled her to him and kissed her for the second time that day. This kiss was soft, reverent, and filled with his love for her. She fell into him, and he deepened the kiss. He broke off finally and rested his forehead on hers.
"I love you, Hermione. I didn't think you could feel the same, but I couldn't help myself. You're everything I've ever wanted. Please say you'll be mine."
She pulled back and drew her hands up to his face. "I love you, too. I'll be yours forever if you want."
His heart sung at her admission. Infinite possibilities opened up to him with her declaration. His earlier trepidation about the new school year disappeared. He was supposed to be here, doing this, and having Hermione in his arms. He'd thought Minerva had been daft to choose this age for him, but his whole life now spread before him, and he hoped that Hermione would be in every part of it. His fresh start was here, with her.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," he replied before pulling her back to him and crushing her mouth with his. All was well.