Chapter One - Occlumency
Disclaimer: None of this is mine. I am just dipping my toes into the brilliant universe created by JK Rowling. This story takes place in Harry Potters Fifth year, beginning just after Easter Holidays.
*'But why haven't you got Occlumency lessons any more?' said Hermione, frowning.
'I've told you,' Harry muttered. 'Snape reckons I can carry on by myself now I've got the basics.'
'So you've stopped having funny dreams?' said Hermione skeptically.
'Pretty much,' said Harry, not looking at her.
'Well, I don't think Snape should stop until you're absolutely sure you can control them!' said Hermione indignantly. 'Harry, I think you should go back to him and ask - '
'No,' said Harry forcefully. 'Just drop it, Hermione, OK?' *
Hermione stood nervously in front of Snape's office door. All professors were required to hold office hours for students with questions. This was something Hermione had taken advantage of with most of her professors throughout the last 5 years, but this was a first for her. Snape wasn't the most welcoming of professors and Hermione had never felt courageous enough to seek him out. She took a deep breath and hesitantly knocked on his door.
She walked in and moved to stand in front of his desk, he hadn't looked up yet. If she hadn't been watching his face she would have missed the slight widening of his eyes when he saw who it was, otherwise his expression remained blank.
'Hello Professor Snape.'
'Well?' He said, his voice bland as he glared at her.
'Er –um, sir. I was wondering if I could ask…' She let out a breath. This was harder than she thought.
'Miss Granger, what is the purpose of your visit? I hope you didn't come here to waste my time.'
'No, sir. Um, I just… Sir, I am worried about Harry.' She watched as his eyes narrowed at Harry's name and hurriedly continued.
'Sir, please, I know you said he didn't need any more lessons but I don't think he is as proficient at occlumency as you think, and I don't think he has been diligent about practicing… I don't think you should have ended his lessons.' She said in a rush, feeling breathless afterwards.
Snape continued to glare at her, one finger was lightly tapping on his desk as he regarded her.
'You don't think?' he finally said in a quiet and menacing voice.
Hermione opened her mouth again but he held up his hand before she could speak.
'Miss Granger, am I understanding you correctly? Are you an expert in occlumency now, that you feel you can dictate how I am conducting myself?'
'Sir, Please… I just-'
'Miss Granger, I am a professor. Do you perhaps think that when I make a decision I have a good reason for doing so? Do you think that it is your job to direct your professors? Perhaps you feel you should come and help me teach my classes as well?'
All of this was said quietly and deliberately. Hermione felt goose pimples rise up on her arms. She swallowed and tried to look composed.
'I think Harry is still having the dreams.' She said in a whisper.
Snape regarded her for a moment, his thumb and pointer finger came up to slowly trace his lips.
'Tell me exactly what Mr. Potter told you about the end of our … lessons.'
After Hermione had told him of her conversation with Harry, Snape was quiet for a long moment.
'That's all he said?' He finally asked.
'Yes, sir. He wouldn't tell me anymore and if I continue to push, he will just get angry.'
Snape sighed and looked down. Hermione felt awkward as she stood waiting for him to speak again. After a long moment he looked up at her.
'Thank you Miss Granger, you may go.'
Hermione felt shocked. That was it? What sort of response was that? She opened her mouth to ask him for more information, but he stood directly, leaning both hands on his desk and looking down his nose at her.
'Miss Granger, I will take what you have said into consideration. You may go now.'
She blinked and abruptly shut her mouth. He looked at her implacably and she knew she wouldn't be able to ask anymore of him. She nodded and turned on her heel, heading towards the door. Before opening it she turned, as if it was an afterthought and looked at him.
'Thank You Professor.' She said before quickly opening the door and leaving.
Severus Snape regarded his glass as he swirled the small serving of firewhiskey Minerva had just handed him. Since Dumbledore's absence it had become a nightly ritual for McGonagall, and Snape to share a late drink in his office. Umbridge hadn't tried to bother him outside of class time and it seemed to afford them a bit of privacy.
Occasionally, Poppy or Madame Hooch would also slip in for a nightcap. Severus found it curious that his office would be the meeting place of choice among the teaching staff lately. Minerva had just finished talking of her fifth year careers meetings, her voice thick with anger at the woman's interference.
'Miss Granger came to see me today.' Severus said, after a moment of quiet. Minerva looked at him in surprise.
'Miss Granger?' Minerva looked nonplussed. 'Why would she come to you? I'm her head of house…'
'Worried about your precious prodigy in the serpents den, Minerva?' Snake asked sarcastically. It was so easy to get her riled up.
'What was it that Miss Granger wanted, Severus? I don't believe the girl needed help on her potions homework.'
'She was worried about Mr. Potter. She feels that he still needs to learn occlumency and that he is still dreaming.'
Minerva shot him a nervous look.
'Dumbledore did say it was important…He said that Harry must learn to close his mind.'
Snape let out a breath in frustration.
'Those lessons were a disaster. Even if Mr. Potter hadn't been caught snooping in my private memories, I can't teach that boy anything. He is too arrogant and will not listen.'
'Now, Severus, he is not a complete dunderhead…' She said in a placating voice. 'Harry does well in his other classes.'
'He is most likely just copying Miss Grangers work for his other classes. I'm not convinced he can do anything without his little friend's help. She at least has a modicum of intelligence.'
'Miss Granger is a joy to teach. Even you must admit that it's a nice change from the usual apathy we get from the average student. Its rare to have a student who truly loves to learn as she does.'
'Calm down, Minerva, I'm not disparaging your favorite.' He said in a low voice before taking a small sip from his glass.
'I acknowledge that you are most likely right on one account Severus. Hermione Granger is sometimes the only one who keeps both Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley in line. She has become rather famous for her color-coded study schedule.' Minerva said with a chuckle.
'I suppose she does have a rather organized mind.' He said almost to himself, with a glimmer of an idea.
'What do you mean?'
'Well, as you said, she is the reason Weasley and Potter learn anything at all and she has had a few moments of intelligence…'
Minerva huffed at his faint praise.
Snape sighed in frustration. He knew what he needed to do.
'I will not attempt to teach Potter again – that was a dismal failure. However, I suppose I could teach occlumency to Miss Granger and hope that she may pass it along to Potter.'
Minerva looked at him with approval.
'That is a wonderful idea Severus! I'm sure Miss Granger would love the opportunity and she is just the right person to teach Harry!'
Snape sighed and swallowed his firewhisky in one large gulp. Why did he put himself in these situations?
AN: So that's the first chapter - What are your thoughts? My favorite fanfics are the ones that remain close to canon but show a fresh perspective, with of course a nice juicy relationship between HG and SS. I've read some truly wonderful ones and thought it might be nice if there was another one out there in the mix. I'd love some input (review please!) as i craft the story!
*indicates lines taken directly from the Harry Potter books.