Just a little plot bunny jumping around in my head. Oneshot. SSHG, so if it's not your cup of tea … I suggest you read it and then make it your cup of tea. Okay?
Disclaimer: Not mine. Sadly. All of it belongs to Queen Rowling.
Fools. They were all fools. Even the new headmistress, McGonagall.
She'd lived for a thousand years and yet nobody had figured it out. What was semi-sentient about wanting to be asked politely, or to be scratched in exactly the right spot, to open some doors? What had been semi-sentient about rearranging the pipes in the castle to thwart that giant snake six years ago? What was semi-sentient about reading the students' minds and transforming the Room of Requirement to what they wanted, down to the bloody shade of brown belonging to the somewhat worn leather armchair in the corner?
Semi-sentient my arse.
Not that she actually had one.
Well, all of them weren't fools. Two of them even seemed to understand what, and who, she was. They were the only ones.
They didn't act like she really existed when they were among others. She didn't blame them. They were humouring the fools, even though she wished they wouldn't.
But when they were alone, they often talked to her. She wished she could reply, but she had no voice. Had she had one, everybody would have known about her existence a long time ago. When Tom Riddle, the student who had turned into Voldemort, had walked her halls, she had seen the darkness in his head and in his heart. Had she had a voice, she would have made sure to have him killed before the start of his sixth year.
She remembered when he had decided to hide one of those awful horcruxes in her. She hadn't wanted to hide it, but the Room of Hidden Things was different. She didn't have any control over it. All the other versions of the Room were under her control, but the Room of Hidden Things… She suspected it was because of all the hidden things. Only the walls, the floor and the roof in that room really belonged to her. The hidden things … belonged to some other force. If a student wanted to hide something, everything in the room responded, and the room they were lying in simply … followed.
She shrugged off any dark thoughts. Tom Riddle was dead now.
Her mind returned to the only two people who seemed to know about her existence.
They weren't friends. In fact, to the world, they showed every sign of dislike toward each other.
It was utterly ridiculous. They were both brilliant, and they both desperately needed the company of somebody equally brilliant.
Not to mention the everlasting pining. They were completely enamoured with each other, but they were both certain that the other couldn't possibly feel the same. They were constantly imagining what the other saw them like, but they were so utterly wrong she just wanted to laugh. Or perhaps cry.
He thought she saw him as some sort of overgrown bat, with an overgrown nose, greasy hair and a personality made entirely out of maliciousness and sarcasm. In fact, she saw him as a man with a demanding presence, beautiful eyes, strong jawline and a sense of humour she couldn't help but appreciate.
She thought he saw her as an insufferable bunch of curly, frizzy, bushy, brown hair and a constantly raised hand. In fact, he saw her as an intelligent, mature, humble, patient and rather beautiful young woman.
Daft, the both of them. Brilliant, but daft.
She knew they'd be perfect together, but it wouldn't happen without a little help from her. She'd casually attempted to push them together earlier, but these two were stubborn creatures. She'd have to take more direct action if she wanted to see anything happen between them.
She already had a plan. The man was more often than not stalking the halls in search of students breaking curfew. The girl more often than not got lost in all the books she read in the library, and barely managed to get back to the tower before curfew.
The reason the man so often managed to catch the students was because of her. He would politely ask for her help, and as the students didn't have any business outside their common rooms after curfew anyway, she'd help him. He'd just walk along the corridors and she would make sure he crossed paths with the curfew breaking students.
The reason the girl managed to get from the library to her tower in less than five minutes was also because of her. She would send her a desperate plea, and because she cared for the girl, she'd help her.
Tonight was no different, but she knew she'd only be humouring one.
The girl desperately asked for her help, as usual, but she would get no help from her today.
When the girl ascended the first staircase, she didn't expect the staircase to take an unexpected turn to a corridor very far from the Gryffindor tower indeed.
'What are you doing?' she hissed. 'You know Professor Snape is probably doing rounds. And you know he's not like the other teachers; he won't let it slip only because I'm 19 and would have graduated from this school months ago if it hadn't been for that bloody war, and –'
'Right you are, Miss Granger,' a silky voice coming from the shadows interrupted her. Professor Snape stepped out of the shadows with a smug smile. 'I won't let it slip. 20 points from Gryffindor and detention with me tomorrow night. Eight o'clock. Don't be late.'
'I won't be, sir,' Hermione Granger replied, her voice tight with anger.
'And who, I find myself wondering, were you speaking to just now?' Professor Snape asked, his voice mocking, one brow raised. 'I do hope you're not in the habit of talking to yourself. I assure you it wouldn't speak well of your mental state.'
'I was not talking to myself!' Hermione snapped. She could feel the girl's immediate regret at blowing her only plausible excuse. 'I was talking to … the castle.'
She clearly expected him to mock her further, perhaps raise the second eyebrow to convey to her exactly what he thought of her mental state. The professor did no such thing. Of course he didn't. She knew how hypocritical it would be of him, considering he spoke to her quite as much as the girl did.
'Go to your tower, Miss Granger,' Professor Snape said at long last. Hermione looked at him with wonder, before hurrying off. Now she was more than happy to help the girl to the tower as fast as possible.
If she could have smiled smugly, she would have.
Step one completed.
That he had caught one student didn't mean Severus Snape had finished his rounds. He continued to let her lead him right, but she knew there were no other students to be found out of their common rooms. That didn't mean she would lead him back to his rooms.
Time to put step two into motion.
She led him along corridors and up several stairs, only to have him find himself in a certain corridor on the seventh floor.
'The Room of Requirement?' he murmured. 'Either there are students hiding in there… Or you want to show me something.'
He did what she wanted him to do; he walked three times in front of the empty wall intended for the door to the Room, thinking 'I want the Room to show me what you want to show me.'
She was thankful. It was easier for her to design the Room after her wishes when the one asking for the Room didn't force any specifics on her.
When the door materialised, the Professor muttered, 'You know, that looks an awful lot like my bedroom door.'
He opened the door and discovered that the room inside looked an awful lot like his bedroom, too. The only difference was a sensual feel the original room certainly didn't have to it.
'What is the meaning of this?' Severus spat as he slammed the door close behind him.
She dearly wanted to reply to him, wanted to explain exactly how daft both he and Hermione were being. If only she could…
Her mind suddenly stilled as she was struck with a brilliant idea.
Of all the mind-numbingly, ridiculously simple… I have lived for a thousand years, and it took me this long to figure it out? Perhaps I was too hasty when I called all the humans fools. I am a fool, myself.
Where there had earlier only been an outline for a plan, there was now a fully developed one, with razor-sharp edges and no blind spots.
She altered the room a little. Nothing much. Only a rather small, white sign levitating in the middle of the room, with one word written upon it.
His eyes widened when he saw the sign.
'Is that you?' he asked, not even trying to hide his surprise.
'Why haven't you done this before?'
Because I am a fool. For a thousand years I have lived, and yet I did not figure out a way to communicate with you humans until about twenty seconds ago.
'I see. And is there any special reason you feel the need to communicate with me tonight … in what obviously is a replica of my own bedroom?'
She was amused to hear his growl of frustration.
'Do enlighten me.'
I just wanted to suggest a setting for Miss Hermione Granger's detention.
'If this is your idea of being funny, I believe it is time for you to be put to rest,' he snapped.
Of course I am not trying to be funny. I am trying to help.
'Who would it help to drag a scared and unwilling girl to my bedroom?' Severus snarled. Had she been able to sigh, she would have.
First of all, she's nineteen. She has been of age for two years now, and she's always been mature beyond her years. She's a young woman, not a child. Second of all, she would be neither scared nor unwilling, unless, of course, you aimed to frighten her, which I wouldn't put past you.
'Has your age affected your ability to remember? Have you forgotten who you're speaking to? Severus Snape, dreaded Potions Master, Head of Slytherin House, ugly as sin. Of course she'd be unwilling.'
Severus Snape, don't you take that tone with me. My memory is as perfect as it has ever been. It seems you are the one forgetting that I can read the minds of all the inhabitants of the castle. And I will tell you now, that girl is as infatuated with you as you are with her. She's been in love with you for as long as you've been in love with her, and I'm tired of you two beating around the bush.
'If that is true, that doesn't mean I will just drag her to my bed. Are you daft?'
I am not daft. You humans are so boringly conventional. Very well. Don't have sex with her tomorrow night, then. But I will not let you out of this room until you've sworn on your wand that you will tell her of your feelings tomorrow, and that you won't put her to some tedious task, like scrubbing cauldrons, before you do it.
The wizard tried to argue for several minutes, but at long last she managed to get the promise out of him.
Letting him out, she felt the same smugness she had felt earlier the same evening.
Step two completed.
It was time for Hermione's detention with Professor Snape. She knew that her quickly beating heart wasn't all nervousness.
It was eight o'clock sharp when she knocked on the professor's office door.
Hermione entered, her lower lip caught between her teeth. She went to Professor Snape's desk, waiting silently in front of him.
'Sit,' he ordered her, gesturing to the chair. His face was utterly expressionless. She knew this would be highly amusing.
Hermione sat down, still waiting for the tedious task she knew was not coming.
'I have been made aware of something most … interesting,' the man drawled. Hermione shifted in her seat.
'Perhaps I used the wrong word. I should have used the word "surprising" – perhaps even "shocking." I would never have imagined it.'
'"It," sir? What does it have to do with me?' the girl asked silently. As Professor Snape chuckled, a shiver ran through her.
'Oh, Miss Granger, it has everything to do with you. I was made aware that you … are in love with me.'
As the words left his mouth, he watched Hermione Granger go beet red.
'I – what – that's utterly – I have not – what are you – what?' she spluttered. 'You cannot be serious,' she finally managed to choke out.
'I am very serious. I have heard it from quite the reliable source,' he replied. She was aware of his amusement even though his face betrayed nothing.
Hermione's mouth fell open in realisation. A moment later she snapped it close, her face now red with anger rather than embarrassment.
'I am going to kill Ginny!' she spat. Professor Snape raised one brow.
'I have not had the information from Miss Weasley, nor from anyone who's gained it from her. Rest assured that your confidante is reliable,' he drawled. Hermione looked at him with sudden confusion.
'Then who –'
'What? Why the hell would you tell him?' she asked, directing her question at her. 'I didn't even know you could talk! Thanks a lot.'
Professor Snape chuckled again.
'She only figured out how to do it last night. She is only able to in the Room of Requirement.'
'I see,' Hermione muttered. Then she straightened in her seat. 'I still don't understand why she'd tell you. It was private. I understand that my feelings will never be reciprocated, so you don't have to worry about me. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to begin with my detention now.'
'But I cannot let you do that,' Professor Snape drawled. 'You see, I made her a promise last night. She wouldn't let me out of the Room until I promised I would not to put you to some "tedious task" before I had made my feelings clear.'
Hermione threw the wall behind Professor Snape an angry look. She knew the look was directed at her.
'What exactly are you doing? Haven't you embarrassed me enough already?' she snapped. She turned her gaze back to Professor Snape. 'Really, professor, this will only be embarrassing … for both of us, I'd wager. You really don't have to.'
Professor Snape cleared his throat.
'Embarrassing I do not doubt it will be. It has to be said, however, or this castle will undoubtedly drive me to madness.'
He knows me well, she thought with fondness.
Taking a deep breath, Professor Snape, still stone-faced, said, 'Your feelings are reciprocated, Miss Granger.'
Hermione stared at him for several seconds, unable to process his words.
'W – What?' she finally managed.
'Your feelings are reciprocated,' he repeated, but he would no longer meet her gaze.
'You're … in love with me?' Hermione breathed.
'Are you daft, girl?' Professor Snape snarled, but she knew it was only a defence mechanism. Nevertheless, she did feel a tiny bit offended.
'I'm not daft, only shocked,' she replied. 'I could never have imagined that someone like you would ever care for someone like me.'
'I said something like that to the castle last night,' Professor Snape admitted. Hermione's eyes widened in surprise.
'But – but you're powerful, intelligent, funny, handsome –'
'Handsome?' he interrupted her with disbelief. Hermione blushed.
'Not conventionally handsome, no. But yes, I find you handsome.'
Professor Snape groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
'So to summarise, we both thought the other one was out of our league,' he muttered. Hermione couldn't help a small smile.
'I suppose so, yes.' She hesitated for a moment, then, 'Sir? What –'
'Call me Severus. May I call you Hermione?'
'Y – Yes, of course.' She took a deep breath to steady herself. 'S – Severus, what now?'
'I don't know,' he sighed. 'We have practically the whole summer term left until your graduation –'
'Can we please not bother with that?' she interrupted him. 'It's ridiculous. I'm on a first-name basis with all the professors – well, I am now. Nobody but you cares about my wandering the halls after curfew. I would have taken my NEWTs by the end of the autumn term had it been possible for Minerva to arrange it. You know my only occupation at the moment are my independent studies; I'm hardly a student here anymore. More importantly, had it not been for the war, I would have graduated long ago. I've been in love with you for months, and I am not going to postpone a possible relationship with you only because an evil madman decided to take over my school during what should have been my last year here.'
A stunned silence followed her heated speech. She felt satisfied. That should do it.
'Very well,' Severus murmured after a moment. 'I find myself … agreeing.' He took on a contemplative look, but she knew it was only a façade. 'Do you know why the castle brought me to the Room of Requirement in the first place?'
Hermione shook her head.
'She wanted to suggest a setting for your detention with me.'
'I assume you did not heed to her suggestion,' Hermione remarked, curious. Severus snorted.
'No. She suggested my bedroom.'
Hermione choked on her own saliva.
'Your bedroom?' she repeated, once she had recovered. 'Really?'
'Yes. She was under the impression you would not have run out of the room screaming.'
'I wouldn't have,' she said before she could stop herself. At his stunned look, she blushed red again. 'I – I mean – oh Merlin – I wasn't saying – I don't say I would have slept with you just like that – I just – of course I wouldn't have run out on you – and in the end I probably would have – I mean, I would have – Merlin, I'm just digging myself into a deeper hole, am I not?'
'Yes,' he agreed. 'You were saying?'
'I – I don't know,' she sighed. 'Thoughts of your bedroom quite distracted me.'
'Indeed?' The single word was enough to make Hermione aware that she had once again said something deeply embarrassing.
'Oh, bloody hell. I'm going to shut up now.'
He ignored her last statement, asking, 'And why did you find the thoughts of my bedroom … distracting?'
Hermione gave him an angry look.
'Why. Do. You. Think?'
Both his eyebrows were raised at this statement.
'I see,' he finally murmured. 'Perhaps, then, I was too hasty when I called the castle's suggestion daft?'
A question; an invitation.
'Yes, perhaps you were,' Hermione slowly replied. Severus stood up, gesturing to a door with a smirk.
'After you, my dear.'
She couldn't dance with joy, but she could certainly slam some doors and flap some windows. Again she felt smug, but the smugness was nothing next to the overwhelming sense of happiness. The only two humans she couldn't call foolish had finally gotten together.
Step three completed.
The wedding was set in the Room of Requirement, of course. She wanted to participate.
It had been two years, and she thought the wedding was more than overdue. The human world, though, didn't seem to agree. She supposed that from a human perspective Hermione and Severus had been rather quick about it, considering how surprised everybody had been. 'Already? Are you sure you're ready for this?' 'Engaged? Shouldn't you wait?' 'Hermione, things move way too fast between you and Snape. What if you get married and then wake up one day realising you aren't right for each other?' 'Are you really choosing those vows? You know you'll be bound for life, then?'
Then again, perhaps it wasn't about how fast Hermione and Severus were moving forward with their relationship, but that they did move forward with it. She still remembered people's first reactions.
'You and Snape? Hermione, what the bloody hell were you thinking?' 'Severus Snape, how dare you take advantage of a student? I should sack you now!' 'Hermione, you can't be serious. He's … I mean, he's … he's Snape.' 'The mud – muggle-born girl, Severus? I am … surprised.'
Now, however, they were all assembled here, watching the ceremony. She was sure no-one could misinterpret the joyful expressions of the two getting married. She was happier than she could ever remember being. She had worked so hard for this to happen, and to see the fruit of her hard work was wonderful. They would be so happy together, as she had known they would.
She had another reason for happiness. Nowadays, everybody knew that she was sentient.
Very much sentient indeed.
I always thought it happened a little too much in that castle for it to only be semi-sentient.
I'm not too happy with this, and I know I'll probably dislike it in a month, but whatever.
Please review and tell me what you think about it!