The Colour of the Night

You and I…

"Miss Granger!" Snape commanded, "You are no use to us like this."

… moving in the dark.

"I'm trying Professor." Hermione gasped out and took another deep breath before launching another attack on the Boggart.


Bodies close but souls apart.

"Proceed," Snape laconically instructed when Hermione finally managed to show signs of defeating the Boggart, which incidentally had not taken the form of McGonagall telling her she had failed her examinations as in her third year, but was now taking all forms of people she loved killed or maimed. She threw him an irritable look. Would it ruin his reputation just to say an encouraging word? She turned her attention back to the Boggart, grunting in horror when it next turned to her mother bleeding on the floor.

Dumbledore had requested Snape to train her in the battle against Voldemort and his minions since the start of her seventh year, when it became clear to all involved in the war that this was the crucial, decisive moment where Harry and Voldemort would fight to end all fights. Hence, everyone who was in the Order of the Phoenix and helping the group was especially aware of their vulnerability and made certain they were skilled and mentally prepared enough to face Voldemort's growing strength and powerful army.

She was not sure why Dumbledore had asked Snape and not McGonagall or Flitwick to teach her. Perhaps McGonagall was too busy with Harry who had refused to work with Snape. Snape had similarly turned down the "privilege of training the boy who holds all our fates in his flimsy hands", when he learnt about Harry's sentiments.

Hermione wished Harry had not been that silly. To speak plain, Snape was a far better dueller than McGonagall and Harry would have benefitted much from Snape's tutelage than from McGonagall's. A Headmistress of Hogwarts was, after all, less experienced than an ex-Death-Eater who not only was a Potions Master, but also a Defence Against the Dark Arts Master.

Hermione had learnt much under Snape in the past seven months despite his curt ways and mean tongue. She fully understood the advantages students could have if Snape were the professor for DADA. Or maybe not, her mind wondered a little, as the Boggart became seemingly weaker. Neville, for one, still had not fully overcome his fear for Snape, even though he had truly broken out of his nervous shell to become one of the bravest lads around. His parents would not have been disappointed by how their son had become if they were sane enough to know. Hermione's warm glow of pride for her friend became tinged with sadness at the thought. She frowned as the Boggart swiftly, in an effort to disarm her, turn into Neville crouching and whimpering gibberish. It was as if the Boggart had read her mind and was now taunting her.

Gritting her teeth in frustration at the illogical fear that flooded her, Hermione aimed her wand at Boggart-Neville, willing it to be subdued. This was a Boggart. It was not real. If she could not defeat it, how could she imagine defeating a Dementor, or a Death-Eater?

Severus watched from a corner of the empty, candle-lit staff room as Granger fought the Boggart. He had heard from Lupin of how she had failed to overcome the last one in her third year. This was now his test for her, to see if she had been worth all the time and effort he had spent on her.

It was not to say he had not enjoyed teaching her. On the contrary, the seven months had been… interesting.

He had seen her at work in his classes. He had listened to the staff's opinion of her. To him, she had always been just a student, although far more intelligent and appreciative of studies than the ordinary one. She had also been Potter's friend, which singled her out all the more.

He had seen her mind before as a professor. Now, he had seen her heart. And he approved.

Regrettably, she wore hers on her sleeve, as Gryffindors were wont to do. But she was strong. She had an innate ability to see past appearances to note what the important matters really were. Her surprising dry wit, something he had not expected given his experiences, albeit limited, with her in class, separated her from Potter. Her grasp of reality and no-nonsense characteristic made her all the more enduring.

The Boggart kept changing from person to person, including himself. Severus had been shocked to see himself curling on the floor, twitching with the after-effects of a Cruciatus curse. It had been an unwelcome image, but it was pleasant to realise that she cared for him too. Much too pleasant.

Severus watched her give a final cry when the Boggart, at last, disappeared with in a puff. As she wiped her forehead gleaning with sweat, he allowed himself to indulge in a smile, which was abruptly replaced with a grim line when Granger turned to face him.

Shadowed smiles and secrets unrevealed.

Hermione could not make up her mind whether Snape had just smiled at her. Had it been some trick of the shadow play by the candles? Yet she knew she could not have been mistaken, despite the obscurity. If so, then it was rather shocking. It had been the first time she ever saw him smile genuinely. She chided inwardly. Before, she had wanted his approval. Now, she was… shocked at his approval?

Hermione shook her head, and smiled tentatively in return, hoping she was not making a fool of herself.

A fool for love.


I need to know the way you feel.

"Well then Miss Granger. Let us end tonight's training here, shall we? You did well with the Boggart, although I wish you had destroyed it faster. Never mind, we can do it another time." Snape extinguished the candles as Hermione picked her belongings up.

As always, he was distant, always in the part of an instructor. She could not understand him.

It had not always been so. In the beginning of the somewhat reluctant partnership, they had been wary, she cautious, he aggressive.

Then, slowly, they began to trust each other. She did not remember how it had happened, but, they had started out talking, with her picking up the courage to ask him about various aspects of DADA, clarifying her doubts and so on. He had that long-suffering look on him when she started asking incessantly, but she had persisted, and he had obliged. Then the conversation turned to other topics. Before the implications had sunk in, they had talked about their preferences, then their outlook in life. They even talked about brewing tea, for goodness sake.

It all began with an innocent chat to a beautiful friendship.

At least, it was what she had perceived, on her one-sided part. Her heart ached, but she did not show it. No, Snape had enough problems. She had witnessed how he suffered from Crucio. She had been there on several nights aiding Madam Pomfrey to alleviate his pain. There was no need to burden him with her yearning.

Snape opened the door for her and Hermione stepped out. He gave a nod and bade her goodnight. Then, he turned on his heel and headed back to his chambers.

She stared after his retreating back.

Chorus:
I'll give you everything I am
And everything I want to be
I'll put it in your hands
If you could open up to me oh
Can't we ever get beyond this wall

'Cause all I want is just once
To see you in the light
But you hide behind
The colour of the night

If he had not intended to befriend her, why did he have to make her think there could have been something more in the first place?

~***~

Severus closed the door to his study quietly. He pressed his forehead against the cool touch of the wooden door, trying to draw something, anything, from it.

I can't go on running from the past.

It had been close. He needed to be careful no to reveal any feelings for Granger.

He remembered everything about his meetings with Granger. He remembered emotions he still could feel, once strange to him, now constant companions.


Love has torn away this mask
.

What he valued in his independence was lost to loneliness…


And now like clouds…

What detached stone wall he had as armour was broken because of a chit of a girl…

like rain…

Albus constantly reminded him when Severus was full of self-doubt or forcibly cynical that Severus was not without love, that he was human. Severus cared for Albus, for one. Severus admitted that. Albus, to him, was not simply his saviour, but a mentor, a friend he wholly trusted. Severus cared for the Hogwarts staff he had worked with for nearly two decades. Merlin, he even cared for the Potter brat sufficiently to not let his safety be threatened.

But this, this…

"Damn it, damn it, I love the woman. Damn it, damn it, damn it…" Severus swore. It was most inconvenient. And naturally frightening.

I'm drowning and
I blame it all on you.

He did not think himself capable of such love. How was he to handle it?


I'm lost –

How was he to face the Dark Lord? How was he to lift his head and find the Dark Lord's eyes bore into his? How was he to hide from the Dark Lord's scrutiny? He did not think that Occlumency would help him cover the love filling him, bursting from him. He imagined the Dark Lord's comprehension, then confusion, then rage if he were to discover that he had truly lost his servant.

Not that he could bother about the Dark Lord's opinion. But it would jeopardise the Order's mission.

How was he to live everyday like this? Always hoping for the unattainable? It was why he ruthlessly cut off all friendly links to her, was it not? To bury the budding emotion that was now in full bloom…

God save me...

"I hate this." Severus whispered.

I'll give you everything I am
And everything I want to be
I'll put it in your hands
If you could open up to me oh
Can't we ever get beyond this wall

He would protect as much as possible. He would shield her from the horrors the war would undoubtedly produce. He would prevent her worst fears from coming true.

But he would not let her into his life.

~***~

Hermione was running, running so fast.


'Cause all I want is just once

Down the corridor, round a corner, up the stairs… She knew the route.


To see you in the light

She had been about to return to her own rooms after Snape had left when she stepped on something she had not seen. She thought, "He must have dropped it." She picked it up. Seeing what it was, she had frozen for a good couple of minutes.


But you hide behind
The colour of the night

Hermione panted heavily when she reached the door to Snape's chambers in the Slytherin Tower.

The stupid man!

Everything was obvious now.

But how was she to broach on the subject? How was she to confront him?

God save me
Everything I am
And everything I want to be oh
Can't we ever get beyond this wall

~***~

Severus pushed himself away from the door. Enough being maudlin. He should get some sleep. Be ready for the lessons next day. Double Potions with both rival houses of Slytherins and Gryffindors was not just taxing on the students, but draining for him. They had to deal with half of the class. He had to deal with all of them. And he was only one person.

He took off his outer robes and hung them on the stand. Then, he reached into the pocket of his vest and froze.

It was not there.

Panicked, Severus turned his pocket out.

It was not there.

He gave a start when the door creaked open and her voice called out. "Are you there?"


'Cause all I want is just once
Forever and again
I'm waiting for you, I'm standing in the light

He looked right scared out of his wits. Hermione's impression was confirmed when Snape asked, "How did you get in here?" instead of taking points off immediately for her barging into his room without permission. Oh yes, he was right to be scared. He had a lot of questions to answer for.

But first, she would play along, if only to give her some time to strategise.

"I know the passwords to your room, remember?" She replied, not knowing how to address him all of a sudden.

Snape said angrily, "I thought you were different from Potter, who pokes his nose where it isn't wanted."

"Sorry."

"If you've come here to borrow books, I tell you those books are precious and in my possession and I hope you respect them more than you respect my privacy."

Ah, he could not blame her for giving her such a lovely opening to the task at hand.

"I could say the same to you." She stuck her hand out and opened it. "You have this to explain." In her palm was her handkerchief.

Severus stared in disbelief. The familiar, white cotton cloth with patterned blue-drops and Granger's initials was with her. It must have fallen out from his pocket.

He swore that pockets must be sewn with extra depth the next time he bought new clothes.

Severus controlled himself admirably. "I see it is a handkerchief. How, may I ask, am I supposed to explain it?"

So, he wanted to play dumb, did he not? "I lost this a month ago."

"I congratulate you on finding it again. Now, if you excuse me, whilst this is cause of celebration for you, I regret to say I have less than happy matters to attend to."

But you hide behind
The colour of the night,

"Oh no you don't get away so easily." Hermione was surprised at her boldness, which could possibly be traced back to desperation.
She shoved the handkerchief into his hand, "I lost it in this very study, when we were discussing what more challenges you had for me."

"Indeed." Polite disinterest, that was the way to defend himself.

"I came back to ask for it, but I couldn't find it and you said it might have been taken by one of the House-Elves. I asked them, but ended upsetting them because they did not have it. You had it with you all the time didn't you?"

"Miss Granger, I profess I have no idea what makes you think so. Tell me where you found this little piece."

"Outside the staff room." Granger added pointedly. "I'm positive it wasn't there when we entered the room."

Bugger. If it were any other area of the corridor, it would have been easier to explain.

"So it materialised in the one hour we were inside." Granger finished sarcastically.

Oh, he was in so much trouble.

"I meant to return it to you. I found it yesterday. Then I forgot."

Granger snorted.

"Very unladylike Miss Granger."

She snorted again.

"Yes, well. I suppose you think yourself very witty to do that." Severus remarked drily.

"I can't believe you. Now you're changing the whole scenario." she said, "Didn't you just admit you didn't recognise it before?"

Severus sighed.

Granger's expression softened. She asked gently, "You've been keeping it?"

Snape pointed at his vest, "In this traitorous pocket." Wonderful. She was going to be scarred for life with what she must feel was an icky thing.

Hermione smiled. She noticed it surprised him, as his eyebrows raised in question. She took his hand.

Please come out from
The colour of the night

Severus gazed at her suspiciously. What was she playing at?

Granger continued smiling.

She was a Gryffindor…

"I think it's rather sweet."

She would not lie to him.

"Hermione…" he struggled for words, "You are only a student."

"I know."

"And this crazy war we're having…"

"If we win?"

"If we win, what then?"

"Will you wait for me?"

Severus was startled. He hesitated, "I…" Taking a leap in faith, his hand reached out to touch her cheek, "Will you wait for me? See what I am, before you decide."

"Yes. I've contemplated for some time now. The answer is yes."

Severus exhaled, "Then, yes Hermione. We have a deal." As Hermione embraced him in delight, he relaxed.

~***~

A/N: This lovely song's sung by Lauren Christy. I'm told it's from a Bruce Willis's movie of the same title. Unfortunately, the movie's rotten. Huh.