Authors Note: Thanks for all the reviews everybody! Yep that's right, quite a few of you got the Professor Emmet Brown reference. Cookies for everyone! Emmet Brown the time travelling Professor :D Back to the future films, 33 Marty McFly!
Okay so needless to say I am not JK and I do not own any characters…yet :P Enjoy chapter 2!!
Severus Snape tentatively peered through the door to his bedroom. It was Christmas morning and apart from wanting to change his clothes, he was compelled to check on the sleeping girl who lay in his bedchambers. He almost snorted at the thought, the supposed evil git of Hogwarts had a girl lying in his bed, however platonic and out of context the thought was. He thought back to the previous night, the girl had seemed so distraught, and he understood how she felt. She felt exactly what he had after he had joined the light side and his mother had died; survivor's guilt.
Light streaked through the hangings on his bed and he could see Hermione tangled up in his bedcovers. Her hair was strewn around her like an angel and the quilt had been pushed down to her waist. Her arm was flopped loosely over the crisp, white sheet which she lay underneath. Her robes were folded neatly and lay on the end of the bed, untouched by any movement during the night, and her shoes looked out of place next to his larger ones by the window. A warm glow engulfed the room when with a flick of his wand; Snape lit the fireplace beside his bed.
Stepping into the room, he summoned a change of clothes and pulled away the curtains from his bed. Setting down a cup of freshly made tea on the old beside table, he returned into the living area and proceeded to the bathroom.
Hermione awoke gently to the warm sun beating down upon her skin. She sat up in the strange bed and rubbed her eyes grateful for the sleep. And then it hit her. She was not in her own bed. Looking around frantically, she searched her brain for the memories of the previous night and as she caught sight of the bookshelves crammed with Potions journals and the kicked off midnight blue covers, she remembered.
She lay back against a propped up pillow and drank the steaming hot tea which had been left for her and after feeling pleasant warmth in her belly which told her it agreed with the tea; she stepped out of bed onto the cold floor. Her toes flinched and as she moved towards the fire, she poked her head around the creaky wooden door and called out, 'Professor?'
'The bathroom is the door on the left, I've left everything out for you,' called Professor Snape from somewhere in his quarters. Padding sleepily along to the bathroom, she washed quickly and humming happily, transfigured the pyjamas into some plain maroon robes and tried to tame her hair. Still barefoot, she went back into her professor's bedroom and made the bed before, armed with a small bundle of clothes, she walked back into the lounge.
The sight that greeted her was one which she would not easily forget. Professor Snape was curled up with a book on the burgundy armchair he had been in the previous night. He was wearing robes of bottle green with red and gold embroidered into the edges. The snake on the crest of his robe had a red woolly scarf around it and to top it off, he wore red slippers. Looking up from his book and glancing at his pupil he smiled, 'Oh you're up then? Help yourself to some toast; I don't doubt Albus will be along soon.' He took a bite of toast from a large pile and crunched cheerfully.
Setting her belongings
down on the rug beside 'her' armchair, Hermione sat down and took
some of the toast. She sat in contented silence for a few minutes
before Snape closed his book and banished her belongings to her
rooms. She gave him a calculated glare of disapproval of his attire
and shook her head in mock condemnation.
'Why, Professor Snape, sir. I didn't know you were so…festive?'
'Dumbledore insisted,' he growled. A knock could be heard from the door and he stood up. 'Speak of the devil.' He strode swiftly over to the door and stiffly greeted Dumbledore, who cheerfully insisted he came in. Needless to say he was rather shocked to see the head-girl sitting merrily on his Potions Masters' armchair eating breakfast.
'Good Morning Professor, Merry Christmas!' she exclaimed to a speechless Dumbledore. Dumbledore turned to Snape in question and Snape answered him with a sarcastic edge to his voice, 'Miss Granger spent the night here Albus.'
If he had been eating, Hermione would have placed money on Dumbledore choking, instead he replied quizzically, 'in…in your chambers Severus?'
'Yes Albus,' he goaded, not quite knowing why he was insinuating such things, 'more specifically, in my bed.'
Hermione watched as her potions professor taunted her headmaster as if it were a comic act. She watched Dumbledore's face turn from white, to pink, to red, to a purple colour rarely seen on anything but ogres and just as began his rant, 'Now see here Severus…' she broke out laughing and Professor Snape sniggered.
Professor Dumbledore's face grew incredulous and he looked at both his student and head of house, 'I fail to see the joke,' he said. This induced yet more giggling verging on Hysterics from Hermione and a jagged smile from Professor Snape. Finally they let Dumbledore in on the joke and though not amused, he was no longer concerned for the relationship he had originally thought had existed.
Severus and Hermione accompanied Professor Dumbledore to breakfast where they split and Hermione left the elder two and dutifully sat with Ron and Harry. Ron was wearing an old maroon jumper sent a few Christmases before and sat merrily chirping away to Harry, unaware that Harry was not paying attention. Judging from the bags under his eyes and his lack of proper attire, Harry had not slept properly and was not in the mindset to talk. 'Ronald,' she scolded gently, 'Let Harry sleep.'
Ron looked at her strangely and grumbled, turning back to his food, 'When did you get here?' She flushed and smiled, 'just now, but Harry doesn't seem to be with us yet.'
Ron frowned and with a piece of egg dangling from his chin he gestured to where Harry sat and said, 'What do you mean Hermione, Harry's here.'
'Harry is asleep Ronald, his elbow is in his plate of toast and he is barely dressed.' Ron looked at Harry and saw that in his hype he had failed to notice Harry was only wearing a pair of pyjama bottoms and a dressing gown.
Ron would have snorted if he hadn't been so loyal to Harry. He just nodded and shook Harry awake quietly, and together the three of them left the hall, Hermione and Ron holding up a barely conscious Harry.
At the Staff table the trio were being watched by Professor Snape, who stirred some coffee amusedly and said to the headmaster. 'I don't think Potters quite with it today Albus, he fell asleep in his toast and Granger had to inform Weasley that Potter wasn't awake before that baboon realised he wasn't being listened to.'
Professor Dumbledore removed his glasses and sat them down on the table. He smiled painfully at his Potions master and sighed, 'Harry isn't well Severus.'
Snape spluttering slightly and was shushed by Dumbledore who continued, 'Harry wants to get the war finished, and he wants to keep his friends safe. Harry does not want anybody hurt and he doesn't want to kill anybody, Voldemort included. Harry cannot sleep Severus, for the daily invasions of his mind and everyone is suffering. Tell me what I can do for the boy Severus and I will. I can do nothing for Harry in his plight and I fear that his emotions may overcome him at the wrong time. He is vulnerable Severus, and he is hurting.'
Snape's mind reeled and he said the first thing that came to him, 'The boy doesn't want to kill the Dark Lord?'
Dumbledore's eyes glazed over and he nodded emotionlessly, 'Harry doesn't want to kill, the fact that he has to kill Voldemort is irrelevant. Harry does not want to commit murder, he is repulsed by the thought of blood on his hands, both friend and foe.'
Snape moved his head up and down while contemplating the future. 'I need to teach him Occulmency Albus.'
The reply was instantaneous, 'Absolutely not Severus.'
Groaning he explained his thoughts to the headmaster, 'I need to work with Miss Granger for the project you have given me. With her presence, Potter might feel more relaxed. I could teach her Occulmency and together, she and I could train Potter. Last time was a disaster but less lives will be lost if Potter can keep his mind closed to the Dark Lord.'
Dumbledore bit his lip and nodded slowly, he deliberated and paused in his thinking and said, 'I do understand you Severus.' Dumbledore looked into Snape's' eyes, 'I will discuss this with Harry and I ask you to do the same with Granger. Do you think Mr Weasley should be included within this group?'
Raising an eyebrow and then narrowing his eyes Snape retorted, 'You are pushing it Albus. Miss Granger is enough trouble with her inquisitiveness and aptitude for pointing out the subtleties.' Pausing he looked from Dumbledore to the Gryffindor table and around the hall. Students were crying, the prophet had released an article on the most recent attack and it seemed to be getting too much for the children. They couldn't cope with the fear everyday that their parents could be hurt while they were safe at Hogwarts. He looked back to Dumbledore and sighed, 'Potter I will assist, in the name of the war. Even though to me, his name is despicable, and his parentage I loathe but I will make a sacrifice. But….Really Albus? Weasley? Must we include Weasley?'
humourlessly at his potions masters' feeble pleas.
'Severus, I will leave it for you to determine the value of Mr Weasleys knowledge of Occulmency, and therefore you may proceed with plans regarding Mr Potter and Miss Granger, if they both consent and then you can make your decision based on the outcome.'
'As you wish Professor, I will…'
'Do nothing Severus,' Dumbledore said gently. 'It is Christmas. The loneliest Christmas we have had in a long time, despite the raised numbers. Let the students be for today, and you can approach Miss Granger another time.'
Biting his lower lip bitterly, Severus Snape left the hall in an almost flee, and flew to his chambers like a craven to his nest. He wrapped himself in his usual black robes and sat at his desk scanning the surface for some spare parchment. Eventually he settled on resizing the enlarged handwriting on some of his third year essays and tore off the excess, now spare, parchment to use for himself.
In his quick, elegant scrawl he inked a note to Hermione and with haste, sent it off with his ebony owl, Orion. (A/N: Orion is a reference to Orion's belt. If you keep going past Orion then you come to Sirius!)
By now it was eleven o'clock in the morning and seeing as he only had two presents to open, from Albus and Minerva; Snape decided to unwrap them later. He could tell what they were anyway, Minerva had sent him a book as she had done every year since he had started teaching, and Albus some woolly socks with some Lemon Drops, and how he loathed the sweets. Glaring at the presents and the thought of the vile bonbons, Severus Snape curled up into the corner of his armchair next to the fire, and whilst humming a Christmas carol; he made a pot of tea. He remained sat in his armchair all day, sipping tea and lost in his thoughts.
Teaching Occulmency to Potter would be positively awful, and he would have to try and not be as vindictive as he usually was towards the boy, the spawn of the man he hated so much. Miss Granger would be easier to work with, her presence would hopefully calm the Potter boy and at least she was competent enough to research and understand the concepts of Occulmency before he would try and teach her.
Not that he wanted to teach either of them. No. Of course not. That would be ludicrous, yes, completely unheard of. Miss Granger was merely a tool who had helped him immensely with his project, merely a tool to help him train Potter. And she was merely a tool who had helped him to not feel as lonely as he should have done on Christmas Eve. Wait! No! She didn't help him, he helped her. Did he?
Thinking back to the previous evening Snape ran the events through his head. Granger had no doubly been upset, distraught even; and he had helped her recover her thoughts enough and he had comforted her enough to calm down her mental state. And she had slept in his bed. Yes but that had been purely platonic, it would have been dangerous to have let a student, let alone the Gryffindor head girl, walk through the dungeons unaccompanied.
But he had been a lost soul himself, before Miss Granger had arrived. He had been wallowing in his thoughts, in self-pity, trying to analyse everything. From what he had been told about the Gryffindor's by Granger he had been wrong, he could admit that. He was shocked to hear that they were not celebrating, and he realised that he had been so shallow as to judge the house of Chivalry not only out of the context of war, but of that of the stereotypes he had always known.
So in a way, she had helped him too. In her own distress the head girl had helped him understand that he was not the only one suffering. And in his attempt to cheer her up, he himself had been cured of the pain which he had felt every Christmas. The feeling of constant, unimaginable loneliness which he had felt since he was a child had been depleted and died as quickly as Potter losing house points.
Together in their pain, he realised; they had helped each other. And now together they could help Potter, they could win the war. It had taken him a few hours to think through everything, but Severus Snape unknowingly smiled to himself in his dreamlike state, because he knew he wasn't alone, and that he could win.
Hermione Granger had been lying on Harry Potters bed for two hours, her arms wrapped around the now sleeping boy. It had taken Ron and her a while to settle Harry, who seemed to have woken up during the journey from the hall back to the common room and who was apologising to them for his lax attention. "I'm so sorry guys; I probably ignored you yesterday didn't I? I just get so wound up lately and I can't sleep, I just take it out and…"
Ron hadn't let him continue, "Harry, shut up."
Hermione had explained to him gently that he needed to rest, and needed to let his emotions out and not bottle them up, and so when Harry was due to awaken in the evening, they would open their presents together and talk about everything, to clear the thick air that was trying to separate them.
Ron was in the common room with Ginny, trying to cheer her up and was placing Christmas cards around the common room in an attempt to make the room feel more homely. Ginny would charm the cards to hum Christmas Carols together, and Ron would hang them from the walls and around the furniture, levitating them from his place where he sat on the couch, around the room.
The common room, apart from the two Weasleys, was empty. Everyone else was still at breakfast and avoiding the room which reminded them so much of the homes they missed so much. The war had cost everyone, it had cost them freedom, it had cost them innocence and a sense of happiness. The war had destroyed families and ripped apart friendships. Even Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived was suffering through his friendships, and Hermione was determined not to let him suffer like he was.
Alone with him in the dorms, the light stole though holes in the bed hangings and his face was illuminated. Hermione could see the pain Harry suffered and could only whisper things to him, calming thoughts, she could stroke his hair to try and banish the pain but it wasn't enough, and she knew that it was his scar which hurt him the most. And the only was to stop Harry's scar hurting as much though his link to Voldemort would be to shut out the dreams, to banish Voldemort from his head. To do that, Harry would need to learn Occulmency. For that, Hermione would need a favour from Professor Snape.
It was as she reached that thought that a sleek, black owl swept into the room and landed on the bed. It turned its beak towards Harry and stuck it up the air, rejecting the forlorn boy. Hermione took the letter attached to its leg and unscrolled it. One look at the first line told her who it was from, and she was surprised, yet pleased that he had sent her a note. 'Dear Miss Granger,' it read on the first line, in Professor Snape's curled, loopy scrawl, and at that Hermione stole a rare smile, and continued to read.
I know it's a bit of a cliffy but that's how I planned to end this chapter; the rest of the letter will be read in Chapter 3, so no worries!