"Yes, Hermione?" Severus asked, putting his own book down. They had been sitting in Hermione's quarters reading since finishing dinner. Severus was using a spell to hide the fact that he had been looking up the counter curse to the spell that Korun had used to prevent Korun from seeing what he was doing. So far, he'd had no luck. As an additional security precaution, in case 'Weasley' decided to show up at Hermione's chambers unannounced, he added special wards to Hermione's room that would only allow the two of them and the house elves to enter.
"I spoke with Madam Pomfrey today about going back to my classes. She said she'd speak to you about getting back to work." Hermione said. It had been on her mind since the Headmaster had entered her chambers, and she had been waiting for him to tell her that she would be back teaching soon. Since it didn't look like he'd be the one to bring it up, she finally did.
"Ah yes. I spoke to her today, but until Korun's out of the castle," Hermione's eyes began to drop in disappointment, "I want you to be traveling the hallways with someone at all times." Her eyes brightened a bit at the thought of leaving her quarters. She was starting to feel a bit cramped in there.
"I can ask Bill tomorrow morning." Hermione said excitedly. She jumped up to call him over the floo when Severus' hand stopped her. She looked at him, confused.
Severus' mind went blank for a moment, his mouth opening and closing silently. He couldn't tell her that Bill wasn't really Bill. Korun would find out, which would make the group of them rethink their plans. Finally, he came up with a solution. "I was hoping that you would allow me to escort you, Hermione." Severus said, a little embarrassed at the admission and a bit jealous that he wasn't the first person she would think of asking.
Hermione lowered her hand from the canister of powder and looked at him. "I thought you might be too busy." She said quietly. "I felt bad about taking up your time from the investigation and your Headmaster duties already, and since I haven't seen much of Bill lately, I thought I'd try to drag him from his work for awhile too." She said with a slight smile.
Severus smiled back. "Miss Granger." He said, taking her hand and bowing a little. "It would give me great pleasure to escort you through this castle."
"Why Professor Snape." Hermione said back. "I would be delighted." He noted the relief in her voice that he seemed to not mind taking the time out to be with her, and he felt a slight jolt go through his chest at the thought.
"Then I shall see you in the morning. It's getting quite late. I'll be by to take you to breakfast." Severus said, getting ready to floo himself out for the night.
"Severus." Hermione said before he left. He stopped at the fireplace. "Would you mind. . .I mean if it's not any trouble. . .um. . ."
Severus turned around. "Hmmm?"
"Can you stay with me tonight?" Hermione asked, blurting out the question before she lost the nerve. At the raised eyebrow, she quickly clarified, blushing while doing so. "It's just that. . .I'm having trouble sleeping lately, and I keep having these dreams."
"Dreams?" Severus asked, walking back towards her in concern.
"Not like before. These seem more like memories, or like I'm watching a play, or something. They don't feel like regular dreams, and they really scare me." She said, her voice dropping lower. "I don't like falling asleep by myself, and they seemed to have stayed away when you stayed the other night."
Severus took her hand. "How long have you been having them?" He asked.
"Since the attack." Hermione replied.
"How come you haven't said anything to me?" Severus asked.
"I was hoping that they would go away with time." She said. "But it's been too long, and they've felt so weird. . .and I slept so well when you were here." She risked a glance up at him, hoping that he didn't think her childish for wanting him to stay to combat her nightmares.
"I will stay." Severus said. "Do not worry. I'll be right back. I just want to grab something comfortable to sleep in." With that, he turned around, and flooed to his rooms to grab some night clothes.
A few hours later, Hermione was fast asleep, once again using Severus' chest as her pillow. She seemed to be slumbering peacefully. Even so, he placed a sleeping charm on her that allowed her to sleep uninterrupted. He was planning to use his Legimancy to find out if his feeling was right. Hermione might already be aware of what Korun was planning, and not even know it.
He pointed his wand at Hermione's head. "Legimas." He whispered.
He was transported into the same rooms as when he entered her memories. He looked around for Korun, Robin, or Creevy, but couldn't see any of them. But when he looked towards the wall that restrained the real Weasley, a nasty surprise was waiting for him.
Beside Weasley was a ghostly image of Hermione, also restrained. He could see that Weasley was trying to say something to her, but it was too quiet for him to make out. Noting Hermione's disbelieving look on her face, he concentrated on that part of her mind to find out what was being said.
"I'm relieved that the Headmaster insisted on staying with you, Hermione." Bill said. "If you see me walking the hallways, know that it is not me."
"Not you?" Hermione asked. "How can that be? Who is it?"
"It's Colin." Bill replied. "I think he's joined this new league of Deatheaters."
"Colin?" Hermione asked. "How can that be? He's a muggleborn. They hate muggleborns!"
"I don't get it myself." Bill replied. "All I can figure is that he's lost his mind. But if you see me. It's not me."
"But what if he gets me alone?" Hermione asked.
"If he does, you must use a special defense. Korun put the same spell on your wand so that you'd be rendered. . ."
"Now don't go giving away all my secrets, Bill." Colin said, walking into the room. Hermione turned her head to look at him. "Hello Hermione."
"Colin. What are you doing?" Hermione asked. "How can you join them after all the first group put us through?"
"The first group was lead by a leader who wasn't what he tried to make himself out to be." Colin replied. "A weak leader. With Korun, someone who understands the fears of the purebloods and the rightful place of muggleborns in wizarding society, we will succeed. I was never after power and glory. I was just wanting to live my life. I was promised that when I joined."
"It won't happen, Colin." Bill said. "I wouldn't trust him on his word, especially since you are not pureblood."
Laughing could be heard as Korun and Robin entered the room. Colin lowered himself to his knees and bowed at the pair. "Now Bill. I gave my word as a pureblood. Of course he can trust me. Right Colin."
"Of course." Colin said, raising himself back up to his feet.
"Welcome back, my dear." Korun said, approaching Hermione. "So what's this I hear that you're going back to teaching? Shame that Severus wouldn't let Bill escort you, hmmm? That jealousy of his will get him into trouble." Korun was right next to Hermione at this point. "But it's not one way here, is it?" He asked with a leer. Hermione kept her eyes cold and passive as much as she could, but Korun could still see it. "Of course not. 'Can you stay with me?'" He said in a mock, high pitched voice. "I'd say that it would be a disgusting thought, a pureblood caring for a mudblood. But then again, we are dealing with Severs, aren't we?"
"The only disgusting thought is anything that involves you." Hermione said, smiling because she was able to keep her voice steady. "Except, perhaps, for your castration and death."
Korun laughed slightly. "My dear." He said. "The only one of us that will be dying is you." He turned around to walk back to Robin. "And there's nothing you can do to stop it either. The spell I used on your wand. A nice one, rather. Nothing they'll teach you in a Hogwarts classroom. Even aurors only learn it in their final training sessions. Not even Creevy here would know how to counter it yet."
"And if I go to the Headmaster?" Hermione asked.
"You won't." Korun said. "Let me put it this way for you. If you went to talk to the Headmaster about this spell, it would be right before you killed him with your own hands." He laughed more at the confused and horrified expression on Hermione's face.
"I would never kill him." Hermione said, outraged at the thought.
"I never said you would do it voluntarily." Korun replied. "Now, try to be a good girl, hmmm?" And with a wave of his hand, Hermione's dreams went black.
Severus pulls out of Hermione's mind, outraged at what Hermione's 'dreams' actually were. He knew exactly the spell Korun was using to get Hermione's dream state to him. The dream state was transformed into a ghostly figure of the person who was dreaming using the aura around them. It was hard to do when going over a distance, but even harder when there was another presence in the room. That was why the last time Hermione's 'dream' didn't make an appearance for her. But Korun had succeeded in getting her this time.
Was there any way that he could let her know that he knew what was going on? Any way that he could help make this a little easier on her until it was all over? Thinking back on what he knew so far from the dream and from her memories, he came up with something. It may work, it may not. It appeared that Korun was only aware of what Hermione could observe in her physical surroundings, but not her thoughts.
So why not try a telepathic connection?
Would it be worth the risk though? He couldn't say for sure that Korun wasn't aware of Hermione's thoughts. There was no solid evidence that it was the case. But he had not seen any solid evidence to show that he knew what Hermione was thinking as well. Damn the spell. If only he could figure out what it was, he would know for sure if it was safe.
Unfortunately, Hermione would have to be kept in the dark.
Hermione awoke the following morning, still cuddled against Severus' chest. Unfortunately, this time it was no help while she was sleeping. But waking up next to him definitely did something to calm her nerves. She would have that at least.
"Good morning." Severus said, voice rough from sleep. Hermione looked up at him.
"Good morning." She replied.
"How'd you sleep?" Severus asked, already knowing the answer.
"Alright for the most part." Hermione said. "But I still had some nightmares. Thank you for staying with me."
"Anytime." Severus replied. "I'm going to floo over to my quarters to get ready. I'll be by to collect you in an hour."
"Breakfast in the Great Hall?" Hermione asked. At Severus' nod, she continued. "It'll be good to talk to Remus again. I haven't spoken to him since the last time he ate in the Great Hall. He's been so busy with the independ. . .What is it?" She asked at the wide eyed expression on Severus' face.
Severus schooled his face back to his passive look, cursing inwardly at both his lack of control over his expression and his lack of intelligence. Thinking quickly, he replied, "There is something I need to discuss with Lupin. It can wait until after breakfast though. I'll be back." He turned to the fireplace, and returned to his own quarters.
Hermione and Severus went to the Great Hall. Going through the teacher's entrance, Hermione noticed that the only available seat besides Severus' was the seat directly beside Robin. Considering everything that had been going on, and Robin's lack of support and honesty, this was the last place that she wanted to be. But to keep life normal for the students, she calmly sat down, squeezing Severus' hand underneath the table for support. The squeeze she got back made her smile.
Breakfast was uneventful, Robin keeping her distance from Hermione until the last few moments before classes began. Robin casually leaned over to Hermione and whispered, "We need to talk." Robin continued to look at Hermione until she received the hesitant answering nod. She would talk to Robin. Maybe they would be able to get back to the way things were.
Severus arrived in his office later that morning. He'd asked Madam Pomfrey to send Hermione's health records up to him, and told her about what his findings were in the lab. Since he wasn't sure if he could actually use those results, the only solution was to start the tests over again, but without the help of 'Weasley'. He didn't want to do this, but he could think of no other auror that he could trust, and he couldn't very well conduct them on his own.
Walking to the fireplace, he took a pinch of floo powder and called out the one name he had hoped he'd never have to hear again. "Nymphadora Tonks!" He called. Almost immediately, the auror in question appeared in the fire place.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Snape. Don't call me that." The clearly annoyed woman with the painfully bright orange head of hear shot back.
"At least once more, Tonks." Severus replied. "I will be needing your assistance."
"Mine. But Aren't Creevey and Weasley there?" She asked, not wanting to have to work with Snape again.
"Yes, but there have been some problems. Please meet me in my office. It would be easier for me to explain in person rather than over the floo." Severus stepped back as the flame grew suddenly, and out she came. "That was fast." He commented.
"Well, amazing things happen when you say 'please'." Tonks replied. "Especially since it's you." Severus offered her a chair in front of his desk and motioned to the pensieve on top. "Ah. Well, I can see why it would be easier to meet in person on this."
"What do you want, you overgrown bat?"