Charmed as a Bleeding Rose
By: Allore NightShadow
"Where did you go during class, Alistar?" Hermione asked the boy sitting on her bed. He didn't usually disappear without saying goodbye.
"Ah, that. That cat could see me. They usually can." He said it like that should answer all her questions.
"Cat's can see you?" Hermione asked.
"Most of them can."
"But why did you leave?"
Alistar looked at Hermione carefully. Every so often he did this. He looked at her and it was as if he were not looking at her, but looking through her.
"Felines are often disturbed by my presence until they understand what I am. I did not want to cause the cat to become irritated while it was supposed to be acquainting itself with this school's children."
Every so often, Hermione realized, Alistar was suddenly an adult, or at least something that did not have the mentality of a child. It made Hermione weary.
"Would you like to be around Raissa?" Hermione asked the child. She sense sadness mixed with his practicality.
"It is unlikely that she would be comfortable near me."
"That isn't what I asked." Hermione stated. "I asked if you wanted to be able to be near her."
Hermione grabbed Alistar and pulled him to her in a great hug. "Just leave it to me."
Alistar nodded and wrapped his arms around Hermione.
Someone knocked at the door.
"Hermione! Are you in there?" Another knock.
Hermione dropped her hands from around Alistar, but he didn't let go. "Come one in, Harry."
Harry creaked the door open and peaked in before opening the door open all the way. "Studying, Hermione?"
"Yeah, something like that."
Harry cocked an eyebrow at Hermione, but knew better than to ask her to elaborate. He figured that she was probably doing research for one of her special projects. The last time he had called her on one of her vague answers, he was forced to listen to her for over an hour on the effectiveness and complications of transmogrification on vegetation.
"Anyway, Professor Dumbledore asked to see you. He's waiting in his office for you."
Hermone nudged Alistar off of her in a way that Harry wouldn't notice and then exited her room. Harry glanced into the room before closing it. He could have sworn he heard someone else in the room with her, but there was nobody there.
Hermione knocked on the headmaster's office and waited to be acknowledged before entering.
"You wanted to see me, Headmaster?"
"Ah, Miss Granger! There you are. I sent Mister Potter to find you, but he wasn't very confident that he would know where you were."
Hermione stayed by the door.
"Oh, come in. Take a seat." He pulled out a tin from a desk drawer and offered Hermione it's contents. "Candy?"
Hermione extended her hand to take to offered candy, but Alistar was suddenly in front of her, shaking his head and waving his hands to get his point across. Hermione understood that he didn't want her to take the candy, but didn't understand why. She would ask later. She retracted her hand.
"No thank you."
"Are you sure?"
Dumbledore closed the tin and placed it back in his desk drawer. He didn't take one for himself. It made Hermione suspicious. Maybe she was just thinking too hard. Maybe she was just looking for something to be wrong.
"I understand that Professor Snape has refused to continue training you." Dumbledore started.
"I believe that it is unwise to allow you to continue without training. In light of Professor Snape's temper tamntrum, I would like to offer myself in his place."
Alistar shook his head violently but didn't say anything. Hermione then looked at the headmaster carefully, unsure of why Alistar would be so adamant about her not working with him. There was a hard edge to the headmaster's eyes that she was not used to seeing, but otherwise he kept his features blessedly blank. Too blank. There was definitely something wrong here, but Hermione wasn't sure that she wanted to know.
"That's okay, Headmaster. I wouldn't want to add anymore to your schedule." Hermione tried the nice approach.
"No, I really must insist. It would be better for you if you had some extra training. As one of Mister Potter's closest friends, you are always in danger, and this is the best I can think of to keep you out of danger besides sending an auror out to trail out after you. Needless to say, you wouldn't want that." Hermione did actually see his point, but Alistar really was insistent.
"Look, Headmaster. Don't worry about it. I'll continue to study extra on my own. If I have any questions on what I'm doing, I'll come and ask you about it." Hermione stood and made her way to the office door.
"Miss Granger, I must insist that your training is observed and guided by someone of experience. In light of Professor Snape's refusal, I am the only one qualified to teach you." Hermione did not like his insistence, but she really did not like being so rude. He was only trying his best for her.
"I can ask Professor Athan to help me, alright? Or I'll talk to Professor Snape and see if I cant get him to agree to start training me again." Hermione tried to compromise with the old man.
"I will train you. They are not qualified to do so."
Hermione looked carefully at the elderly man before her. Now Professor Snape was not good enough either? Hermione had always known that there was a shrewd man underneath the guise of an elderly fool, but never had it been so apparent to Hermione. It was usually Harry who was the butt of his little games. Hermione did not appreciate being played with.
"Why are you so insistent that I train with you?" Hermione tried the direct approach.
"I suppose that it is not necessary for it to be me, per se, but both Professor Snape and Professor Alistar are busy with classes. But I must insist upon the necessity of your training. You must be better that your opponent, whoever that may be, and I dare say, though you are most knowledgeable, you are slightly below par in the actual application. All it takes is one slip up and you will be captured. It is through you that Voldemort and his followers will gain access to the inner workings of the side of light. It is through you that Harry will eventually be compromised."
Hermione was silent for a moment and let what he said sink in. "I see. So you're not worried about my safety, you're worried about Harry's life and your great plan. You say that I'm weak? Do you think that I would let anything happed to Harry? To Ron? To anybody that I cared about? I am NOT weak! I have never been weak." Hermione grasped the door handle and suddenly Dumbledore was there, wand out, and a locking spell on his lips.
"You are misunderstanding me, Miss Granger. You do not have a choice. You are not strong enough to say no. The first really enemy that comes along would take you down. They would torture you and you would tell them anything they wanted to know if only they would make the pain stop. But you could be strong. I could make you strong. You could be a powerful asset to the light."
Hermione whirled around and faced Dumbledore. "I would never be your tool. I am not weak." Hermione turned back towards the door and it shimmered away. She walked through the doorway and the door slammed back into being. A small boy then appeared from behind Dumbledore and followed Hermione, leaving the same way Hermione did.
Dumbledore stared at the door for a full minute.
Hermione was so angry that she could feel her magic boiling from inside her. It wanted an outlet, but Hermione kept a tight hold on it. She was so angry that she did not notice Alistar leaving and she did not notice Professor Snape in front of her.
She slammed into Severus Snape and continued on, not looking back as if she didn't care, or didn't realise that she had ran into anybody.
"Twenty points from..." Severus trailed off when he saw who it was that had hit him and then felt the enery coming off of her in waves.
Hermione stopped and turned back upon hearing her teacher's voice.
"Miss Granger, what ever is the matter?" Severus heard the question come out of his mouth and winced. He had sounded almost worried.
Hermione opened her mouth and closed it again when nothing came out. She was silent for a few moments and then opened her mouth again. Still nothing came out. She closed her mouth again and a tear trickled down her face and then another. She did not make a sound, but tear after tear began to fall.
Severus raised his hand as if he meant to comfort her, but lowered his hand back down. That was inappropriate. "Get a hold on yourself, Miss Granger."
Hermione looked up at him, eyes wide and the tears kept falling.
"I'm... I'm sorry, Professor."
He stared at her for a few more moments.
Hermione continued. "I just had a disturbing conversation. Forgive me, I just cant seem to make them stop. I don't understand why I'm crying."
Severus found himself speaking before he had made his mind up to speak. "If you would like to talk, my office is always open." Severus winced again.
Another voice broke in from the other side of the hall. "Hermione!" It was Professor Alex Athan. He approached them at a jog and upon seeing the tears falling down Hermione's face, took her in a hug.
He then rounded on Professor Snape. "What did you do to my Hermione?" He was indignant and arrogant.
Hermione spoke from where she was smothered in Alex's shirt. "It wasn't Professor Snape, Alex."
Alex took another look at Severus, as if he were looking for any excuse to start a fight with him, then turned all his attention on the girl clutched to his shirt. He put his arm around her and shuffled down the hall.
"Come on, Hermione, I'll make you some good, old fashioned coffee and you'll feel right as rain."
Severus glowered at Alex's back, not sure why he was so upset. There was something nagging in his gut about those two together. They were too close. It wasn't professional.
Severus returned to his office and locked the door behind him. There was something really bothering him about Professor Athan and Hermione. There was something between them that a professional should not have with his student. There was something...
Severus became distracted. There was a young boy sitting on his desk. He seemed about the age of one of the first years, but Severus knew every student in this school and this boy was not one of them.
"Who are you?" Severus demanded.
The boy ignored him.
Severus went to stand in front of the boy and demanded again, "Who are you?"
Alistar looked up at Severus. "Are you talking to me?"
"There isn't anyone else here."
Alistar's eye's widened. "You can see me?"
Severus suddenly found his arms full of a young child. He had a feeling he knew who this was. This had to be the soul of Hogwarts. Hermione had said she had seen him, and while he believed her to a certain degree, he did not believe that he would ever be privy to seeing the being. Hermione was the only one in thousands and thousand of years to claim such a thing.
Severus found himself feeling an unfamiliar warmth towards the boy in his arms, something he had not felt towards a child before. It was a need to protect. A need to shelter. There was something decidedly innocent about this being that was as old as Hogwarts itself; this being that was Hogwarts itself. Old, but not jaded by that age. Old, but not grown. A being that clung to Severus with everything he had.
It was a few moments before the boy became insubstantial in Severus's arms.
"I am Alistar." The boy introduced himself.
"I'll make a deal with you." Alistar stated.
Severus was curious. "Go ahead."
"I have watched you for many years. I know you as well as I know any of Hogwart's residents. I know the kind of person you are. If you weren't a good person, I would not have allowed you access to Obsidian Heart. I know that your injury of Hermione was accidental. Even so, you have distanced yourself from her since then. With you she is safer. She smiles more. If anyone could protect Hermione, help her protect herself, it is you. I want to you teach Hermione as you did before. I want you to protect her where I cannot." Alistar had a serious look on his face.
"I will not train her again." Severus stated. He really wanted to grant anything Alistar asked for, but this he would not do.
Alistar stared at Severus for a moment. "I am not Albus Dumbledore. I have no ulterior motive in asking you to do this except to keep Hermione safe. You would not have to let Albus know that you were doing this. Actually, I would insist that you do not let him know. I would make sure he did not find out."
Severus closed his eyes for a minute. When he opened them, his eyes were determined. "And what would I get in return?"
"The protection of Hogwarts." Alistar paused a moment. "And I'll stop trying to make a fool out of you."