The Harry Potter Universe belongs to JK Rowling.
Okay, I must warn you all that this school quarter, I have taken on the task of being the Stage Manager of a production, and for those of you who aren't in theater, that basically means that I won't have time for any real updates for a month or so! I hope you understand ^_^ In this chapter, some romantic fluffiness ahead! Thank you all for your lovely reviews! You guys are wonderful ^_^ And many thanks to my beta Sheila!
Given the Chance
Chapter Five: Morning Revelations
"Harry!" A frazzled Ron Weasley screamed, poking his red head between the curtains of Harry's four poster bed. "Wake up, Harry!"
"Whassamatter?" Harry grumbled, burying himself deeper into the comfort of his covers until Ron pulled them away. Harry shivered as the cold air hit his body, and he opened one eye in irritation.
"Get up, Harry!" Ron bellowed loudly. "It's important!"
"Right," Harry sighed, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "But keep your voice down! You'll wake the others."
"They're not going to wake up." Ron rolled his eyes. "Neville's still in the infirmary after that, er - accident - in Herbology. Seamus snuck into the Ravenclaw Common Room to meet up with Padma, and he never returned. And Dean cast a strong Silencing Charm over his bed when he got back last night from the kitchens."
"So what are you doing up so early then?" Harry mumbled, his heavy eyelids obscuring his vision. He squinted to look out the window, and when Ron handed him his glasses, Harry saw that it was still dark.
"I couldn't sleep," Ron admitted. "It's just...with Hermione gone-" His voice broke off as he left for a moment and returned a second later with the Marauder's Map in his hands. "And so I decided to check to make sure Hermione was alright, and then, look, Harry!" Harry took the Map out of Ron's hands and studied the dungeons. Instead of seeing two dots like he expected, there was only one labeled Severus Snape.
"Where's Hermione?!" Harry screeched in an unnaturally high voice.
"He's killed her!" Ron cried out, his eyes tearing up. "I bet they've dueled, and he's killed her!"
"Calm down, Ron!" Harry bellowed. "Hermione couldn't have disappeared just like that." He glared down at the Marauder's Map, hoping that it was flawed in some way, but it never had failed him before. He brought the Map close to his face so that his nose was slightly scraping against it, and he saw a tiny inconsistency in the outline of Snape's dot. Close up, it looked somewhat like the sun on the verge of an eclipse; Snape's dot was covering another one, which could only mean-
"Hermione's not gone," Harry said in a somewhat hollowed voice. "Hermione's dot can't be seen because..." Harry shuddered. There were so many possibilities...
"How do you know, Harry?" Ron asked eagerly, taking Harry by the shoulders and shaking him vigorously to snap him out of his thoughts. "What did you see?!"
"Well, notice how the dungeons are located right there near the corner of the parchment?" Harry said pointing. "And Snape's dot is right there on the edge? There's only room for one name, but by the outline of Snape's dot, you can see that it's partially covering another. It's hard to tell, but the other dot is cut off because of the edge...a-and because of Snape." His voice trailed off, waiting for the words to sink.
"So you mean..." Ron gulped. "Snape is somehow...on top of Hermione?!"
"I-I know it sounds completely crazy-"
"Snape's trying to kill her!" Ron shrieked, even more alarmed than ever. His eyes were wide and wild, and when his hands nervously flew to his head, he grabbed his hair in frustration. "He's probably got her pinned to the floor trying to cut off her air supply! He's trying to shut her up, because you know how she can ramble on and on and on sometimes, and he's probably had enough of her, because you know Snape, he's got a temper, and he can't stand hearing her talk, he says so all the time in Potions, and he's probably-"
"Ron, BREATHE!" Harry demanded. "Calm down! It's probably not as bad as you think-"
"Why else would Snape be ON TOP OF HERMIONE?!" Ron snapped. "There is no way Hermione would let Snape get that close to her, let alone allow him to...to...you-know-what." Ron shivered as his face blanched, and judging by the look on his face, Harry knew exactly what Ron was thinking.
"Hermione wouldn't let him do...you-know-what." Harry cringed as images entered unbidden into his head, images of Hermione and Snape doing…things. Harry felt bile rise to his throat, and he swallowed painfully, breathing deeply to relax. "He's a greasy, foul bastard. She's agreed to that several times before."
"I feel sick," Ron said, also swallowing deeply, his eyes never leaving the Marauder's Map. The dots, so close together they seemed like one, stayed that way for another half hour or so, with Harry and Ron never taking their eyes away from them. The sun was slowly coming over the horizon when, suddenly, the dots jerked apart, and Hermione's name squeezed into the corner as the dot flew several millimeters away from Snape.
"Bloody hell," Ron muttered as Hermione's dot did a crazy spin before calming down a bit. Harry and Ron briefly glanced at each other worriedly before bringing their gazes once more to the Map, unable to tear their eyes away.
"Maybe they are dueling," Harry commented.
"Anything's better than doing you-know-what, especially with Snape," Ron replied and shuddered with disgust.
Down in the dungeons, Hermione blinked several times, smiling contentedly, and snuggled closer to a source of warmth that had enveloped her sometime during the night, surrounding her with a comforting scent of different spices. The warmth gave a low guttural groan of approval and tightened its arms around her, and she emitted a sigh of happiness, her eyes closing to fully delve into the feeling of being held by strong arms...
Being held by strong arms?
Immediately, Hermione's eyes snapped open, and she stared wildly into the sleeping face of her dreaded Potions Professor. Their limbs were comfortably entangled, and although that did nothing to settle the uneasiness in her stomach, waking up beside him somehow felt...right. For a moment, her panic lessened as she studied his totally relaxed face, free from the lines his scowling usually enhanced, and he looked much more younger, vulnerable. With his hair threatening to spill across his face, she gave into the urge to sweep it back, tucking his locks (which were far from greasy, she mused) behind his ear and trailed her fingers down his cheek in a gentle caress. His skin felt supple and pliable beneath her fingertips, and she smiled, noting how his high cheekbones gave the impression that his skin was anything but. I could get used to this, she chuckled to herself before she started, shocked at the inner workings of her usually logical head. Snape's lips curved into a small grin at her caress, and she finally noticed his lovely black lashes when his eyes started to flutter open. Hermione's heart hammered in her chest when he immediately leaned his head closer to hers as if...as if he were about to kiss her, and she did nothing in hopes that, maybe, just maybe, this wasn't just another dream...
But it took only those few seconds for Snape to snap out of his confusion, and his eyes opened wide just as Hermione was about to lean in to meet his lips with her own. Completely caught off-guard, Snape let out a very un-Snapelike yelp and shoved Hermione away, and she cried out in alarm as she violently rolled over the side of the bed and landed gracelessly onto the cold floor. When Hermione painfully stood up, rubbing her backside, she found Snape sitting up looking awfully scandalized, holding the covers to his chin.
"What were you thinking, Miss Granger?" Snape hissed in her direction as she began to circle around the bed to his side. "Or has staying locked up in one room clearly slowed your usually, annoyingly alert mind?" He edged away from her just as she reached him, and she sighed in exasperation.
"Well, it wasn't as if you were so innocent yourself," she said, her cheeks flushing furiously with embarrassment. "I was merely following your lead after all!"
"I was not going to do anything!" Snape defended, his black eyes piercing hers with anger.
"Like hell, you weren't!" she snapped back, and then winced painfully when she raised her arm to wag her finger at him. Instead, she clutched her side and whimpered. "You were going to kiss me." Snape reared back as if slapped.
"No I wasn't!"
"Yes, you were!"
"Gods," Hermione groaned, shaking her head. "This is why I hate arguing with you!"
"Good!" he roared back, running nervous fingers through his hair. "Listen. To. Me. Miss. Granger. There is no possible way that I, as your Professor, would take advantage of our situation and do something as dishonorable as...as make advances toward you, especially since you are still my student and at least twenty years younger-"
"What if I wanted you to?" Hermione interrupted impatiently and gasped as soon as the words were out of her mouth. She bit her lip and looked away, muttering almost inaudibly to herself, "I hate it when I do that..."
"I assure you, Miss Granger, that this will NOT go beyond our relationship as teacher and student," Snape said, ignoring the sudden pounding of his protesting heart. "I was NOT going to kiss you, nor did anything happen last night-"
"But I woke up in your arms," she said quietly, the tone of her voice hinged with the tiniest trace of hurt. "Even if nothing really, really, happened, I know that that did, and..." Her voice faded as she took a deep shuddering breath, and her sorrowful expression slowly started to melt the iciness of his glare. She walked away from the bed and approached the plate of peanut butter and jam sandwiches which Snape had set up the day before. She grabbed one and sullenly began to chew on it as she sat with her back against the foot of the bed, just so she wouldn't have to face him. All that was visible to him was the top of her bushy brown hair.
Snape waited for a few minutes, waiting for her to say something, anything, to rouse his anger again, to make him feel anything else other than the guilt that riddled him the moment she began to ignore him.
"Miss Granger," he said, but she wouldn't turn around, and instead, she continued to chew mechanically. "Miss Granger."
Again, there was no response.
"Put that sandwich down, Miss Granger!" he ordered angrily. "We must talk! You cannot harbor this...this silly crush! It will only make things uncomfortable for us when we do get out of this horrid, decrepit place." Hermione continued with her sandwich as if he hadn't spoken at all, and swallowing the remainder of her sandwich, she got up and reached for the thermos of milk. Snape watched her as she gulped loudly, and taking in too much, she accidentally sputtered on it, causing the milk to dribble down the sides of her lips. Snape felt his mouth go dry at the sight of the creamy white milk spilling down her face and dripping onto her pajamas. Immediately, his body betrayed his arousal, and he was thankful that he still had his covers around him, for he knew his trousers were tented in one particular spot, and he glanced down to make sure that none of it was visible. He brought his attention back to Hermione, but she was once again sitting on the floor with her back to him.
"Damn it, Hermione, talk to me!" he growled, and finally, he saw her turn ever so slowly to him.
"What did you call me?" she whispered, and he shifted, very uncomfortable.
"No." She shook her head, her bushy brown hair tumbling over her shoulders. "You called me Hermione."
"That is your name, isn't it?" he snapped. "Or is that one of the things, much like the inappropriateness of a teacher/student relationship, that have you forgotten as well?" She merely stared at him, an unreadable look on her face.
"Never, in all the years I've been here at Hogwarts have I ever heard you address me by my first name," she said softly. "It's just…I-It…I-" She cut herself off, her cheeks flushing, and she quickly spun back around. "Nevermind."
"Are we going to have another word war again?" he sighed, thanking the heavens that the tension in his nether regions was beginning to fade.
"No, sir." Her voice was soft with resignation, and Snape grew quiet as well, unsure as to what to do or what to say. They hadn't resolved anything, and though he was always quick with his witty comments, words failed him at that moment, and they sat in tense silence.
why I don't get involved in such things! he thought to himself in irritation as he crossed his arms. Right. If she wants to play the silence game, then so be it. We'll see who'll break first.
"They've stopped moving," Harry commented to Ron, who was now sitting across from him on his bed.
"At least there's a good distance between them," Ron replied, smugly, but Harry gasped, his eyes catching a moving dot near the top of the parchment.
"It's Crookshanks!" Harry stuttered excitedly, pointing his finger wildly at the slowly moving dot.
"Where did he come from?!" Ron shrieked, watching as Crookshanks made his way down a particular passage that Harry was sure led to nowhere.
"Fred and George had told me that that route didn't lead anywhere," Harry said, puzzled.
"Well, just because Fred and George couldn't get through doesn't mean that Crookshanks couldn't either!" Ron argued. "He's much smaller than Fred and George for one thing, so he could probably squeeze through where they couldn't." He paused slightly, looking unsure. "Should we follow him?"
"Well, he came from here," Harry said, pointing at the top right-hand corner of the parchment, "which means, he entered the passage from Hogsmeade."
"No wonder we couldn't find him!" Ron exclaimed. "He was out of school bounds."
"Exactly!" Harry nodded. "We could use the passage behind that one-eyed statue to get into Honeydukes. But once we're in Hogsmeade, I haven't the faintest idea of where the passage entrance could be. There are way too many possible locations. I wouldn't know how to narrow it down."
"So are we just going to wait for Crookshanks to work it out on his own?" Ron sighed helplessly as he watched the familiar's tiny dot wander around aimlessly, and the Map seemed to rewrite itself the further Crookshanks went along. Suddenly, the dot stopped and moved backwards again, and the newly written lines were erased by an invisible hand. When Crookshanks found another route that hadn't been previously explored, the Map once again rearranged its design, carefully following Hermione's familiar.
"How do we know he'll find them?" Ron sighed. "Look! He's walking in the opposite direction of where he's supposed to go!" Suddenly, Harry's green eyes lit up with excitement, and he jumped off his bed. Ignoring the shockingly chilly floor, Harry dug through his trunk and smiled when he pulled out a worn red book with gilded lettering adorning the cover.
"You know how many times we've all speculated that maybe Crookshanks was half-Kneazle, right?" Harry began. "Don't you remember what it says in 'Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them?'" He flipped through the pages and stopped, reading aloud a passage. " 'The Kneazle is intelligent, independent and occasionally aggressive, though if it takes a liking to a witch or wizard, it makes an excellent pet. The Kneazle has an uncanny ability to detect unsavoury or suspicious characters ("That's for sure," Ron muttered, wincing slightly as he thought of Scabbers) and can be relied upon to guide its owner safely home if they are lost.' Don't you see? That's probably what Dumbledore meant!"
"You probably have no idea how much you sound like Hermione at the moment," Ron muttered, but his eyes betrayed the hope that was starting to build. "Dumbledore was right again, I suppose."
"Let's just hope that Crookshanks finds his way before Snape and Hermione finish each other off," Harry said quietly, walking back to his bed and staring down at the Map that lay on his covers. "I'm afraid that by the time Crookshanks gets to them, they'll both be in need of Madam Pomfrey's help."
Ron scowled. "Ew, what are they doing?" He shook his fist at the Map. "Get away from her, Snape!"
It was growing far too quiet, and Hermione shifted uncomfortably on the floor. She could hear Snape moving noisily on the bed as the springs squeaked under his weight, and sighing, she closed her eyes. The same line repeated over and over again in her head, but she did anything but banish it away from memory.
The sound of her name on his lips was absolute heaven. His voice sounded like a silky smooth caress to her ears, and she longed to have him say it again.
Her thoughts flew to how his name would sound coming from her. She never consciously said his first name aloud to herself, but last night (she blushed slightly), she had the most erotic dream of him, most of which entailed her screaming out 'Severus!' for all the world to hear. She thanked her heavenly stars that she hadn't spoken aloud. She would die from sheer embarrassment.
On the bed, Snape watched Hermione sit mutely in deep thought, and there was a nagging urge inside of him to apologize to her, to say anything to get her to talk to him again. He knew he had been callous in accusing her of trying to seduce him, and, he looked away from her guiltily, he knew that she was right: he had almost kissed her. But it wasn't as if he really meant to…
"Miss Granger," he heard himself say, but it was too late to take back the words; he silently cursed himself for giving in first.
"What?" she snapped, never turning around to face him.
"Aren't we being…well, a bit childish about this?" If there was one thing he should have said, it wasn't that.
Hermione swung around and got up on her feet, her eyes flashing in his direction. "Childish?" she repeated, letting out a bitter laugh. "Childish? You're the one who takes away house points whenever conversation goes into 'forbidden territory.' I wanted to talk about it, but you refuse to see what's happening before you. I am no child. Haven't you realized that, yet?" Her lips trembled slightly with emotion.
"What do you want, Miss Granger?" he hissed. "What exactly can come from this? Nothing. It would be of no use to dwell on dreams-"
"But this is no dream," she cut in, her eyes locking with his. "This is reality. You are here. I am here. And what happened this morning happened. You can't erase that, no matter how much you try to. We reached for each other subconsciously last night, Severus." His eyes widened as she addressed him, and a faint pink covered her cheeks, but she continued on determinedly. "The important thing was, neither of us turned away." She inched closer to the foot of the bed. "What I want, Severus-" he shivered slightly, "-is you. I don't care what my friends may think about this, I don't care what Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, or the lot of them may think about this because they haven't the faintest idea of what you do to me."
"You don't know me, Miss Granger!" he spat. He moved closer to the foot of the bed to tower over her. "You don't know who I am or what I've done in the past." He sighed and gulped. "I was going to apologize, but it seems you are still under the impression that something can happen-"
"It can," Hermione whispered. "How can I know you if you keep pushing me away? I know you're intelligent, brave, and, although you are discreet about it, you care deeply about others. I see that much, but I want to know more about you-"
"Why?" he questioned angrily. "Am I just another challenge to you, another test to pass-"
"No," she said quietly. "You're just…different." Her eyes shone softly with tears. "I'm like you, you know. Never really being accepted by others, always being used for my abilities. Just once…I j-just wanted to know a kindred spirit. I thought that maybe, it could be you."
Stunned and at a loss for words, Snape looked down into her face and could not mistake the genuine sincerity he found there for anything else. His heart did fierce acrobatics within his chest, urging him to give into his feelings, just once. He focused on her gaze again and found his reflection staring back at him in the warm brown of her eyes. Not knowing what else to do, he reached down, cupped her face in his hands and descended his lips upon hers with a fervor he had no idea he possessed. Their lips fit together, like lost puzzle pieces that had finally been brought together after being lost amoung the lot. He gasped when her tongue slid across his lower lip, silently pleading with him, and he willingly allowed her entrance, and his own tongue met hers with heated passion. She moaned into his mouth, clutching at him desperately, wanting to take in all he had to give all at in one moment. His heart burst free in song, dancing and drifting inside his chest, drunk with an emotion he never thought he had the ability to feel. He slightly pulled away from her, drinking in her flushed face and swollen lips, and he closed his eyes as her hand reached up to caress his cheek.
"Don't you see, Severus?" Hermione choked. "This is real." Snape said nothing; instead he leaned toward her again, capturing her eager lips with his own, tasting the sweetness she had to offer.
And for once, Snape felt as if he had made the right choice.
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