Never Enough Time
Ch 4 Secrets
Hermione stared at Severus as her mind pieced together all the little facts. Premise one, Severus was a spy for Dumbledor and, premise two, he was a genuine Death Eater before turning. Harry swore to anyone who would listen that Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater and she'd believe Harry before those sycophants at the ministry so it could be taken as true that, premise three, Lucius was then and is now a Death Eater. Premise four, Lucius and Severus were always having those little meetings and talks that she was excluded from. Conclusion, they were discussing Death Eater business. She had previously thought that that was just Lucius being a Malfoy, but if there was a purpose for those meetings…what was Severus now? And how could she have been so willfully blind?
"Hermione, love, what's wrong?" He didn't try reaching for her again but the concern was plain in his eyes.
"I…that…you're one of them?" She winced, oh, very eloquent. "You're a Death Eater?" Please, please God, let him be spying for Dumbledor already. Please.
"Yes." He said simply as if it were the most normal thing in the world, as if there were nothing wrong with it. He really was a Death Eater, right now, and probably the entire time she had known him.
"How could you?" She asked trying to understand how her Severus, intelligent, amusing wonderful Severus, could be a malicious Death Eater. It was easier to believe it of the older, bitter Professor Snape than the young man she made love to last night. "How could you follow Voldemort?" She asked spitting the name out through clenched teeth, forgetting to use the euphemisms that put other wizards more at ease. Severus winced a little, though probably more at her tone then the actual use of the name.
"Lord Voldemort," He said "Is leading a movement to purify the wizarding families and strengthen our fading society. We're losing out heritage with more and more mudbloods and half-breeds contaminating out culture."
His words in that matter-of-fact voice hit her like physical blows. Mudblood. Contaminating. "I…thought you cared for me."
"I do. I think you are wonderful. I love you, Hermione." She stared at him, trying to decipher his statements in relation with everything else. Last night those words would have had her soaring, now they just didn't make any sense.
"I don't understand." She admitted. "I'm muggleborn. If you really feel that way, how could you…how could last night happen?"
He gave her a quizzical look, as if he was having as much trouble understanding her as she was him. "Last night happened because I love you. I wanted you, and I thought that you felt the same way." He reached for her but she backed away to the edge of the bed. "I…Hermione, you didn't think anything more could ever come of us did you? Marriage…it just isn't an option, not for us. Beside the fact that I'm too young and my parent would never allow it, you're a mud-muggleborn. That would be against everything we stand for. But we can still be together…"
"Stand for?" She echoed weakly trying focus on something in his confusing morass of words. "Do you really think that's what Death Eaters are about? I've seen what they do, terrorizing muggles with hexes and curses."
"That's just a bit of fun." He shrugged. "And the Ministry obliviates the muggles so there's no harm done."
"No harm done?" Her voice in anger reached octaves normally beyond her scale. "That's bollocks. I've had to pick up the pieces of an obliviated muggle before. My cousin tried to fight back in a Death Eater attack, and even after having the cruciatus curse cast on her she managed to break the bastard's arm." He tried to interrupt her to object but she continued on "Then the Ministry came in and obliviated everyone left and right. The memories were gone but not the fear. My cousin woke up screaming every night for weeks afterwards from the dreams of memories she no longer had. She became jumpy and afraid of her own shadow, and she didn't know why. So don't you dare tell me no harm was done. Casting curses on muggles, even stupid little schoolboy pranks, is abuse because the muggles can't even begin to understand what is happening to them, much less protect themse-"
He just rolled his eyes "Please, don't start going on about 'with great power comes great responsibility' like Dumbledor."
"How about 'Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'" She snapped. "Although I'm sure you would prefer the more Slytherin corollary 'Power delights, and absolute power is absolutely delightful.'"
He grinned and started to say something but she threw the first thing that came to hand at him, unfortunately it was nothing more potentially damaging then a pillow. "That was supposed to be a big, fat warning, you ass."
She got off the bed and started gathering her clothes. "Hermione, what are you doing?"
"I'm too angry to talk about this right now, if ever." She said in short clipped words "I'm going back to my room. Stay away from me."
For the handful of days remaining of their winter holiday the lycanthrope project lay untouched in the lab by either of them. Hermione spent the time locked in the guest rooms taking her meals there and reading books from the small collection provided to her. Sometimes the self-imposed isolation got to be too much for her and she left her tiny suite of rooms to roam the vast empty halls of Snape Manor. That was when she would encounter Severus. He always kept his distance but watched her with the hurt and confusion plain on his face. They would stand and stare at each other from the far ends of a vast corridor or empty room until one or the other broke away and fled back to the safety of their respective rooms.
When the time came to leave for Hogwarts Hermione dressed once again in her jeans and favorite sweatshirt. Dilly, or one of the other house-elves, had kindly attempted to mend the old shirt, which effectively stopped the fraying but she had to apply a minor severing charm to split open a small line down the front of the collar to get her head and hair through the opening. The end result framed a lot more of her cleavage then even she was accustomed to showing. Sev is going to hate this…She briefly debated changing her shirt to something more modest. She shook her head and flicked her hair over her shoulder. Why should I change for him?
Why should she expect him to change for her? That's what this fight is really about isn't it? She asked herself. She wanted him to change for her. She wanted him to be someone he wasn't ready to be yet. She knew that he would turn against Voldemort, that he had enough bravery and honor to rival anyone in Gryffindor Tower. She knew it and she loved him for it. Even though he didn't know and he hadn't been through those trials yet. She wanted to be there for him, for when he would need her in the dark times ahead. Somehow she would see them through this.
The ride from Snape Manor was tense and uncomfortable as they both stared out opposite windows, neither one bending enough to speak to the other. She almost did. She almost broke down and apologized when he helped her down from the carriage with gentle hands but one glance in his cold eyes and she clamped her mouth shut. She had nothing to apologize for and nothing she could say would make him change everything he had believed in for his entire life. He would have to come to that realization on his own. And she would be there, waiting.
Once on the train he abandoned her and she insinuated herself into a group of Ravenclaws she didn't know. Within moments she was involved in a debate with one Leslie Lestrange (a scrawny, geeky young man with thick wire-rim glasses) over the separation between the wizard and the muggle worlds. It got to be very heated and drew quite a crowd as he argued that the two worlds were separate and distinct, and she told him he was full of it. Gravity didn't stop working just because you stepped into Diagon Alley and a dragon was still a dragon whether it was munching on a wizard or a muggle. A little second year asked what gravity was and she was so wound up she snapped at him "it's what makes you fall down, go boom" before explaining Newton's laws in detail. Lestrange snidely asked her to explain how leviosa could possibly work if 'gravity' was so ironclad. She was about to reply when the seventh-year next to him cuffed him lightly "Externally applied force, you moron" before asking her if she was more inclined to apply Newton's laws of particle motion or wave mechanics to magic. At that point they were almost at Hogwarts and she begged off with having to change into her uniform. She really did not want to get into quantum theory with less then fifteen minutes available.
She was on her way back from the bathroom when the train pitched unexpectedly, sending her crashing into someone. An apology on her lips, she looked up into Peter Pettigrew's eyes. She flinched back automatically but he held her in a tight, clammy group and she couldn't get away. He frowned at her "I've heard of you. You're that traitor Gryffindor. Don't see you in the Tower much, prefer that greasy snake's bed?"
"Traitor." She snorted, "That's rich coming from you. And better a snake than a rat any day."
He grabbed her by her shoulders and slammed her against the wall. There was a wild look in his eyes, as if he wasn't quite sane. "What do you know?"
"I know I'll break your arms if you don't let me go." She snarled.
"Not without this you won't." he sail holding her wand out away from her "Now, tell me!"
She picked up her knee, not to catch him in the groin, which he seemed to expect, but to slam her foot down on his instep. Her properly formed fist shot out to catch him between the eyes and then, while he was still reeling, she kneed him in the groin. Voices were shouting and strong hands pulled her off of him. She fought back and clawed at the new targets before her mind registered James Potter and Sirius Black. After a few moments of unsuccessful grappling Black let her go and helped James get Wormtail to his feet. She ran and lost herself in the Ravenclaw crowd. As she followed them off the train she was careful to avoid both Gryffindors and Slytherins. It wasn't until she was back in her own time, appearing just minutes after she had left for the disastrous winter holiday with Severus, that she realized that Wormtail still had her wand.
Swearing loudly Hermione ran for the Divination Section. How could she have done something so stupid? She flipped through the ephemeris trying to remember. What day they got back from break? And what time?
She decided on later on that evening and, after a quick check to make sure she still had her return information in her pocket, she reset the time-turner. She checked the Hospital Wing first. Wormtail and Black were probably already out, but it never hurt to look. Sure enough they were already released. She headed towards Gryffindor Tower trying to come up with some way to get inside. She let out a startled yelp when someone grabbed her arm and dragged her into an empty classroom. She was slammed bodily against the wall and was very surprised to look up into Severus' angry eyes.
"I've had a very interesting conversation with Potter." He snarled "It turns out no one in Gryffindor knows who you are." He searched her face but she stood frozen, no words would come out of her mouth. "Then I start thinking about it. And I realized I've never seen you actually enter the Tower, I've never seen you go to classes or eat in the Great hall, none of your friends or family appear to have any names. Although your stories are very good, very realistic, that's all they are. Stories. You've been lying to me this entire time. Are you spying on me? Did Lord Voldemort send you to test my loyalty?"
"And that says what, exactly, about your Death Eater friends?" She snapped, only to realize that that was the wrong thing to say a second too late. "Look, Sev, I can explain…"
"Don't call me that. Only my friends call me that." He pulled away from her and pressed something into her hands, her wand. "I don't want to listen to anymore of you lies. Stay away from me. I never want to see you again."
"Sev- Severus, please."
"I never want to see you again." He said again, the ice in his voice making her shiver. "If you come near me I will kill you. Don't think I will feel remorse, Lord Voldemort has taught me well and you are only a mudblood."
"So be it." She said, her voice thick with unshed tears. She turned away from him and tugged on the golden chain around her throat. Her hands were shaking so badly she had to place the parchment from her pocket on the desk to read it. Severus watched her, he stood completely still and his expression was impassive. She set the time-turner for her home time and twisted the key. And he was gone, the empty classroom remained completely unchanged otherwise. Her legs collapsed out from under her and the tears that blurred her vision spilled out over her cheeks. That was how Professor McGonagall found her some indeterminate time later. It could have been five minutes or five hours.
"Ah, Miss Granger. I was hoping to catch you before you left for the winter holiday." The older woman paused uncertainly as she finally got a solid look at Hermione's state. "My dear, is there anything the matter?"
"I…ah…just had a break up with my boyfriend." it was the closest she could get to the truth, She stammered, before straitening and brushing the tears from her eyes. "What can I help you with Professor?"
"I've gone over some of the schedules for after the holidays and straitened a few things out so you won't be needing the time-turner anymore, of course it will have to be returned to the Ministry immediately. Miss Granger, are you quite alright?"
Hermione's hand clenched convulsively over the golden hourglass and she could feel the blood drain from her face. No, I have to see him again! "I'm fine." Her voice was a little shaky but her hands, while reluctant, still unclasped the chain and passed the time-turner to McGonagall.
"Are you sure?" McGonagall squeezed her hands, a gesture of comfort Hermione supposed, as she took the time-turner away. "If you want to talk about it…"
"It's okay, just need myself a good cry and time to get back on my feet." Hermione smiled, not really feeling the optimism in her words.
"That's the spirit." McGonagall gave her a brief, brisk hug. "Now, lets get you on the train. Wouldn't want to miss it."
McGonagall left Hermione to the tender mercies of her friends, admonishing them to take good care of her after having a bad breakup. Harry and Ginny were understanding and supportive. Ron just about had a fit but Ginny gave him a look and said in a stage whisper "Kneecaps, Ron. Kneecaps." It shut him up. Harry re-iterated his offer to beat up Sev, all she had to do was name names and point fingers. The mental image of Harry threatening Professor Snape was more then she could take and she broke down into teary giggles.
Once home she lost herself in helping her mum decorate the house for the party. Christmas itself went by in a blur of bright colors and laughing faces. Her Uncle Dion passed her a couple of whiskies under the table fore passing out under the table himself so she spent the evening pleasantly fuzzy. By the time everyone left the party was considered a great success, especially seeing as the house was still in one piece, more or less.
The owl had come and gone while she was sleeping off the alcohol. She woke up with the small claw marked package clutched to her chest and a pounding headache. The package had no return address and only her name written on it in an elegant angular hand. She started to open the package but thought better when every movement made her head swim. Luckily a simple hangover remedy could be made from ingredients easily found in a well-stocked muggle kitchen. Raw egg white, horseradish sauce, dill, cayenne pepper, blend with cinnamon stick and drink. Hermione frowned at the resulting sludge. It smelled as bad as the poly-juice. She pinched her nose and downed the potion, tasted worse.
"That'd get anyone to swear off the bottle. I know I'll never listen to Uncle Dion ever again." She said to no one. "Wonder if that isn't the point."
Her head did feel clearer though, as did her sinuses, and in a few moments the dull pounding ache had receded to nothing. Now she turned her attention to the small parcel she woke up with. The brown wrapping contained a small book bound in wine-red leather, there was no title on the cover or spine. It appeared to be a diary. Opening the book she saw the first page was over-large and had to be unfolded. It was the diagram she had written out for the time-turner in order to return to her time after the holiday she spent with Severus. The parchment was sewn into the binding and had obviously been there for a very long time. She refolded the aged paper careful with the crumbling edges. The next page was part of the book itself. "Dear Hermione," the book was addressed to her. She flipped through the next few pages, the book was filled with letters to her.
This is harder to say than I can imagine. I'm sorry. I was suspicious and angry, two conditions that bring out the worst in Slytherins. I should have listened to your explanations. I should never have threatened you, I couldn't have done it anyway. I should never have let Potter talk me into doubting you. It's taken me some time to figure everything out but, eventually, I did. I know all about time-turners and about you being from twenty years in the future. That is what that paper means, doesn't it? I don't know what you were doing here or why and I don't care. Just, please, come back to me. I miss you. I never knew what a terrible mistake I had made until it was too late and you were gone. Please come back, I still love you.
I still look for you in the library. I sit in my chair across from where you usually slept and wait. I keep hoping that I'll look up one day to see you there. I still love you.
You're not coming back are you? I will not beg you any more than I already have but do know that I still love you.
It's been a while since I last wrote. Every evening I take out this little book and sit at my writing desk with a glass of whiskey and compose epistles to you. Something so breathtaking and moving that it will bring you to tears and draw you back to me.
In the end both the glass and the pages are empty. Did you ever love me? I don't remember you ever saying the words though my heart shouted them every time I saw you. Maybe you didn't love me and that's why you left, maybe you just needed an excuse.
I would like to imagine that we could have depended on our intelligence and mutual understanding to see the way past those obstacles I created. Great lovers we may not have been destined to be but we were great friends. Do you think we would be still? If you were here? I would like to think so. I would like to hope so. Especially now, when I find myself needing a friend to talk to, you were one of the few who would listen to me, and I think the only one who came close to understanding me. So I hope you don't mind if I consider that you are still my friend and write to you with such familiarity. I just needed to tell someone.
I am in love.
I know this must seem strange discussing my current love with the woman of my past affections, but I have to tell someone who would care. I met her through Society, some gala or other that Mother is always dragging me off to. She is a fifth-year at Beaubatons and quite beautiful. She moves with a grace rarely seen outside of creatures of pure magic. She is a wonderfully, intelligent girl, and I find it amazing that this beautiful creature is interested in me.
I look over what I have just written and realize that I am babbling. I, Severus Snape, have been reduced to a babbling idiot by a pair of sky-blue eyes. I should give it a rest before I repeat myself much more.
I am truly a fool.
She was everything I accused you of being, and more. There's something to be said about the Gryffindor approach to romance, a quick shag in an empty classroom and no tears in the morning.
I finally understand your warnings about power. It does delight, and corrupt, the sweet bait that hides the poison. I've done some research, and it turns out that "Lord Voldemort" is a half-breed himself. All of his rhetoric is just empty words to entice his followers to give him the only thing he wants, power.
I don't know what to do. I wish you were here, Gryffindors may be a bit idealistic at times but you can usually depend on one to find the "right" thing to do in a given situation. Maybe I should talk to Dumbledore, he's the only other Gryffindor I know of with any common sense.
I spoke with Dumbledore as I said I would. He and a small group of other wizards have been concerned about Voldemort and his followers. I have continued my associations with the Death Eaters and pass on what information I can to them. In order to facilitate the communication between us I have taken on an apprenticeship with Figg and am staying at the school.
Voldemort is a madman, a paranoid madman with delusions of grandeur. He knows about Dumbledore and his "Order of the Phoenix" and has charged me with spying on them as it is well known that they are centered at the school, and as an apprentice I have more freedom of movement then the students. Unfortunately when I do not bring him any information of consequence he has taken to punishing me, sometimes severely. The cruciatus curse is truly intolerable and every time I fear that I will tell Voldemort of my deception. But I remember your tale of your cousin, even though I hope it is false at times for her sake, I take strength from the knowledge that if she could endure this so can I. And I do not speak. I would like to meet your cousin, she must me a strong woman.
Voldemort's paranoia has reached new heights, he keeps a seer locked in a cage. I've had to feed her a couple of times and the woman is totally batty but I think her mind was gone long before Voldemort got his claws into her. At least she remembers her name, Sybil Trelawney. Dumbledore did some looking and apparently she really is a true seer, she's had one, count them, one recorded true vision. Now Dumbledor wants me to rescue her to put her visions under the Order's control. Personally, I would rescue a dog from that cage if I could but I can't even rescue myself much less someone else.
The Madame Trelawney is apparently as gifted as we all thought she wasn't. She had a vision, Voldemort and all of the "inner circle" Death Eater, myself including, heard it. It is indescribable, the tones of her voice that make your soul shiver. It was a true vision, she spoke of Voldemort's death and rebirth at the hands of a child. She gave several oblique hints as to who the child is but piecing this puzzle together is even worse than sifting through her usual babble of nonsense. I would tell you what she said but in eighteen years I imagine the problem is rather academic. Not to mention that if I have to go over that insane woman's verses one more time I will become physically and violently ill. So, please, if you know, come back and tell us, if only to save what is left of my sanity. But I suppose you can't do that. That's why you never mentioned names or gave any real datable information in your stories isn't it? Well, it's all for the best I assume. I hope the brat gets him good. Who ever it is, I wish him the best.
We finally found the brat. Dumbledore figured it out actually. Apparently he has a touch of what Trelawney has a lot of and got some inside help from whoever deals in futures and visions. For once in my life I'm actually wishing I had taken more of Divination rather then escaping with the required minimum. Anyways, it turns out the brat is James Potter's son. James and Lily were suitable shocked. Lily was all in favor of doing anything Dumbledore asked in order to protect her baby but James was being stubborn. He thought they should be an example for the other wizards to not bow down to fear tactics and threats. I had to point out that it was his child's life he was putting on the line. (Yes, I was unfortunately in attendance at this little tête-à-tête.) Dumbledore thought I could help to persuade James otherwise but he disregarded any warnings from me, even after reminding him what I owed him. (Don't ask, ever.) They walked away with the issue unresolved but with plans to discuss it again after everyone has had time to think the matter over. Hopefully between the two of them Dumbledore and Lily will be able to convince James. I am certain I can be of no further use.
Finally, the Potters are going under the fidelius spell. I think Lily did it. Telling James that she was taking her son into hiding with or without him. The fool finally caved in but insisted that Black be their Secret Keeper. I, of course, objected strenuously. Black has already proven himself unworthy of such trust to my mind at least. But everyone else agreed to the appointment. Why Dumbledore insists I attend these meetings is beyond my understanding. No one ever takes my, very legitimate, concerns seriously. I just hope for the boy's sake that my fears about Black are as groundless as they proclaim.
Damn that bastard Black. He knows, Voldemort knows. I knew this would happen. I need to do what I can for damage control. If I don't come back I hope someone gives you this book. Hermione, I do still love you. I just had to tell you that one last time.
I think I aged decades in the past couple of weeks doing what I could to contain the disaster. I don't understand what happened but Voldemort is gone, and the boy is still alive though his parents are not. In the resulting confusion I managed to drag the Madam Trelawney from that blasted cage and to the school. Everyone there was in as much confusion as the Death Eaters and I got five conflicting answers from any given three people I asked. Eventually, I found Dumbledor in Professor Figg's apartments as she was packing all of her personal belongings. He greeted me with the Potions Maser Certificate and Professor Figg's position. He bestowed on Trelawney (who was still clinging to my arm as if her life depended on it) the Divinations Professorship. I think the appointments stunned both of us and Figg was handing me the keys to the storeroom before I started protesting. Trelawney, strangely enough, followed my lead although her protestations were a bit more scattered and illogical. Dumbledore took us both in hand and played up to our prides until we couldn't say no. Thinking back, I can't help but wonder if maybe he shouldn't have been a Slytherin.
Of course it's not over. Many Death Eaters were captured after the Inner Circle dissolved. Although many Society wizards managed to avoid or, I suspect, pay off the aurors. A number of the arrests were due in no small part to my work for the Order and I'm not the only one talking. Rumor has it that the Ministry is coming for Trelawney and myself. I would run but I've nowhere to go. Soon I expect to be sharing Black's cell in Azkaban.
I have told Dumbledor about you and asked him to give you my letters in case of my death. I should have asked him before but the idea only recently occurred to me. Sometimes I wonder if this is why you never came back to me. You must have known the outcome of this mess. Maybe I don't survive and you couldn't face it. Although that's not very Gryffindorish behavior and I can't see you doing anything but facing the future head on, even if it's the past. I wish there were some way of locking my memories of you away from a Dementors touch. I don't want that filth to sully the time I spent with you. Those were the happiest moments of my life.
I have no idea how Dumbledor did it but the Ministry has left both of us to the Headmaster's care. The Minister was obviously not very happy about it. I worry about what this rift will mean for Dumbledor and the school though he assures me that it is none of my concern. He has also confined me to the school grounds until further notice least some over-zealous auror arrest me before Dumbledor's associates in the Ministry can "tidy up" the matter of my record. I find the fact of my continued freedom, no, my continued existence to be exhilarating even under these conditions. I wish you were here to celebrate it with me. Please, don't take any words I may have said in haste or stress too seriously.
What followed were letters written every couple of days apart that seemed more like diary entries than a correspondence. In them Severus detailed the everyday life of a Hogwarts teacher. He dissected his fellow professors with his usual insight and wit, he told stories of the students' mishaps and discoveries. Sometimes he even discussed his old classmates, such as Narcissa's marriage to Lucius when the paternity of her child was determined. Apparently, she ambushed him with enough fertility charms to drop a litter if he so much as looked at her. Hermione couldn't help but smile at that. She had spent a lot of time with Narcissa in that limbo of "go away but not too far" and it was nice to see friends get what they want, even if there was no accounting for taste. Severus was generous enough to give her a bit of background on the laws of the situation, as well. Wizards are apparently not the most fecund group (the Weasley's being the exception that proves the rule) and when a couple was found to produce viable offspring they were encouraged, sometimes forcefully, to marry and continue doing so. The diary entry type of letters continued on for several more years until
This has to stop. I am truly pathetic, I go through my days thinking "I must remember to tell Hermione this" or "I wonder what Hermione would think about that." Regardless of if you ever see these letters if you truly cared for me you wouldn't have left me so easily. I have to stop building up the fantasy of a woman who does not, never has, and never will exist. So this is my last letter. This has to stop. Right now.
You are here. This is just strange. I am writing to the young woman I remember after just seeing you in the Great Hall a child. I couldn't help but hope that you would be sorted into Slytherin where I can keep an eye on you. But I knew better, and so did that hat. It's Gryffindor for you my girl, no doubt about it.
And that Potter boy. He is James all over again, another Gryffindor of course. I don't know what the hat was deliberating so long for it should have been obvious. He's going to be trouble I can see it, who knows what idealistic tripe he's been spoon-fed wherever Dumbledore stashed him all these years.
And please tell me Longbottom is not the inept potions partner I found so entertaining. Those stories are giving me nightmares now.
Any sentiment I may have expressed regarding wanting you closer to me I hereby rescind. I don't remember you being this annoying. I don't think that even I managed to be this annoying. Please, let this just be a phase. One of these days you will wrench that arm out of it's socket, and I will be there, and I will laugh. And, Dear Merlin, what happened to your teeth? Or hasn't happened yet, however that works out. I'm sure even muggles should be able to do something to fix that.
I keep having this re-occurring nightmare where Potter and Weasley get you killed before I get the chance to strangle you myself for putting me through this.
Albus and Minerva are up to something. They've been giving me that look. You know the one, the one you Gryffindors get when you're trying to be secretive. Then I found out about the time-turner, from you. Actually it fell out of your shirt when I had to drag you back up to Gryffindor Tower, just like old times.
By the way, I do realize that you usually sleep with your books but that thing really should be kept in the library, in a cage. If I have a permanent scar...
I wasn't going to send this to you, too much of this is too private and too personal. But I overheard Albus and Minerva discussing your condition. Minerva was so very ingenuous, remarking that no one had even known you had a boyfriend. I sometimes wonder what and how much Albus shares with her.
The argument happened so long ago the pain, for me has dulled but I forget it would not be so for you. And you deserve the apology as it was intended. I thought of ripping out pages, but I couldn't bring myself to do so.
Maybe I won't send this after all.
... ... ...
After getting off the train she headed strait for the dungeons, with the letters book tucked under her arm and her heart in her throat. She had to explain, to tell him that she did love him. Ever since she received the book he was all that she could think about. She had tried a dozen times to write her feelings out but he was right. It was hard, harder than anything she had ever tried before in her life. All she ended up with was crumpled parchment and wasted ink. She had agonized over it for so long that, the next thing she knew, the winter holidays were finished, and somehow she had to face him.
Severus' office door was open and he sat as his desk reading. She rapped lightly on the door watching him intently.
"Seve- um- Professor Snape?" She asked, hesitantly, uncertain how to address him. She saw him tense but he did not shift his eyes from the book he was reading.
"Yes, Miss Granger?" He asked curtly at her silence.
"I, um, got your letters…" She trailed off, his back stiffened he clenched his jaw momentarily, he finally looked up from his book. He was harder to read then he used to be, but judging from the look in his hooded eyes this conversation would be no easier on him than it was on her.
"I did not send them expecting any return, Miss Granger." He said, "I believe you already made it clear that familiarity from me would not be accepted or appreciated."
"I…I though…" I thought you still loved me. She shivered, the love he professed in his letters was gone from his cold eyes and her hopes came crashing down around her. "I thought to return this to you. So you needn't worry about someone seeing it who shouldn't."
"Very thoughtful of you Miss Granger." He said dryly. He took the small book from her and studied it briefly before turning and tossing it into the fire. The stench of burning leather and vellum filled the small office making it almost unbearable. She fought to not clamp her fingers over her nose while Severus appeared unaffected. "If there is nothing more?"
He raised an eyebrow and indicated the door. His voice was emotionless and cold. She fidgeted uncomfortably under his gaze but held her ground though she wanted to run back to Gryffindor Tower. "I came to apologize, as well. I would have gone back, but…"
"But Professor McGonagall took the time-turner away, I know." He said. At her surprised look he explained, "I cornered the Headmaster and he told me what he knew of the matter. He thought…well, that doesn't matter. You have nothing to apologize for, so excise any guilt you may have. It is not your fault."
"Yes, it is." She said sitting down. "It's all my fault. I never should have gone back there in the first place, but I did. I should have told you the truth, all of it not the carefully censored version, but I didn't. Maybe it could have made a difference, made everything turn out better if you had known the whole truth."
"Maybe it would have all happened that way regardless of what you did or did not do." Severus came around the desk to kneel by her chair. He held her chin in a firm grip and gently forced her head up to look at him. "I realize that this may be hard for a Gryffindor to believe but the burdens of the world do not rest on your shoulders alone."
She could feel her lower lip tremble with the effort to not cry. "But Harry's parents are dead. Black spent years in Azkaban and now exile. And you h-hate me…"
"I do not hate you, Hermione." He brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. The familiar gesture caused a few tears to escape and slide down her cheeks. "As for the rest, well, you did what you thought was best, and perhaps it was. Paradoxes and time loops are very dangerous, unstable things. The potential damage your knowledge could have caused is unthinkable." His tone shift from consolatory to lecturing actually made her feel a little better. "I imagine most other Gryffindors wouldn't have hesitated in denouncing Pettigrew or mucking about in other areas they didn't fully understand. Overall, you did well by keeping your influence to a minimum. I'm sure the world at large would not have noticed your presence or absence one way or the other."
"Would you?" she asked softly, half-hoping he didn't hear.
"My life would have been bereft." He said in a smooth voice empty of emotions.
"Severus, I…" She grasped his hand, but he shushed her.
"It doesn't matter. The boy I was is long gone. He disappeared completely the day I realized the truth behind Voldemort's lies."
"Good." She said firmly and smiled at the surprise that flashed briefly in his eyes. "That boy was an arrogant ass and you are better off without him. Severus, I love you. You, for who you are and what you've been through, not the spoiled little rich kid who had to bite his tongue to not call me a mudblood."
"Hermione-" She leaned forward and silenced him with a kiss. It was gentle at first he quickly deepened it impressing onto her all of his loneliness and restrained passion. When they finally broke away for air, his voice was rough and breath ragged "I thought you said that this was wrong."
"Yes, very wrong." She confirmed, her breathing just as harsh. "Any minute now my knee-jerk reaction will kick in and I will run screaming from the room." Instead she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into the crook of his neck. He pulled her off of the chair, pressing her body against his. He gently stroked her hair and whispered endearments in a language she didn't know. She started to pull away but he held her tighter in protest.
"No, I have missed you far too long to ever let you go that easily again."
She smiled and kissed him. "So, how long do we have before the gossiping hordes descend?"
"Considering the pitter-patter of little feet I just heard running down the hall, I'd say we'll be lucky to remain unmolested by lunch."
"So, we'd better make due with the peace and quiet while we can." She said, tucking her head against his shoulder.
"What an absolutely marvelous idea." He remarked as his hand slid under her skirt.
... ... ...
AN: And that is all. I would like to thank you for reading, and reviewing. I guestimated the dates so if anyone knows better by canon please don't tell me or I'll feel compelled to go over the entire timetable involved. And for anyone who needs it KIDS DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME re: the hangover remedy, I made it up and I don't know what it will do to you. Oh, one last thing, check out Didodikali's pics especially Time Enough for Love I have a link to her site in my author profile.