Co-Written with stormypup
Disclaimer: All places and characters belong to JK Rowling and the WB and various publishers. We just take good care of their characters in the mean time. No money is being made off this piece of fiction.
A/N: Welcome to our...fifth collaborative attempt! I hope you like this one just as much as the others! We attempt to make each one different, which is hard. I'll also hand out virtual cookies to anyone who can spot the quote we lifted.
On that note, I'd like to thank both of those who beta'd my fic: bewarethesmirk and NSW. Without them we'd be buried under grammatical mistakes.
Christmas never had been this somber before. Not only were the students still there for the holidays affected, but it seemed as if the whole castle was mourning. The fires were dimmer and more subdued in the common rooms, forcing classmates to stick close together by the hearth for warmth.
Hermione Granger had never felt a keen loss of electricity and central heating until this vacation. Ron had gone with his family to France to visit Fleur's family and, while Hermione had been invited, she had opted to stay at school to study and to keep Harry company. The same Harry who was staring moodily into the fire. She closed the paperback novel and set it beside her.
She frowned and slid off the chair to the floor. "Want to go for a walk?"
"Where? It's been snowing all week."
"You don't have to leave the castle to take a walk, dummy," she said, nudging him teasingly. Triumph flooded through her when he grinned crookedly at her.
"Dummy, am I?" he chuckled. "Well then, Miss Brainiac, where do you suggest we take this walk?"
Hermione smiled and stood up, waiting for Harry to do the same thing.
"Actually, I was reading Hogwarts, A History, and was curious about something," she said as they stepped through the portrait and into the corridor. "You know of course, that the dungeon stretches out underneath the lake, and -"
"It does?" Harry asked, surprised.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Do you even pay attention to your surroundings?" she asked, giving him a sideways look.
Harry nudged her lightly with his elbow. "It's not like I spend a lot of time down there. I'd spend even less if I stopped getting detention for things like breathing too loud."
"Oh please, Harry. You goad him into it now."
Harry shrugged, grinning easily. "And so what if I do? Slimy git, probably thrills him to core to see me kneeling before him."
Hermione groaned and shook her head. "Anyways, I was thinking we could explore the dungeons better since all of the Slytherins went home for the holidays."
"Except for one."
"Come on, Harry. You aren't scared, are you?"
Harry laughed and Hermione smirked.
He wasn't scared, exactly, but a thrill of something intangible ran through him at the thought of exploring Slytherin territory, especially under the rather large nose of the king snake, as it were.
Harry had only seen Snape once thus far this holiday, though he had no doubts the man was stalking the corridors at night searching for unsuspecting students to punish. Merlin forbid anyone had a good time on break.
They meandered through the halls, laughing happily for the first time during the break. This was familiar, normal even, something they hadn't done in two years.
"I wish I had paid more attention second year when Draco led us to the Slytherin common room," Harry said as the followed the stairs into the dungeon.
"If you did remember the way, we couldn't get in, we don't know the password," Hermione reminded him, lowering her voice, just in case Snape was about.
Harry grinned cheekily. "Nothing wrong with guessing. We might of got lucky."
"Because their passwords are just as easy as ours?"
Harry snorted. "I happen to like Snorkleback Humptydink."
"I think it sounded enough like a plant that it was easy for Neville to remember," Harry said thoughtfully.
Hermione snorted. "I imagine it more as a magical creature."
"I bet if you ask Luna, she'd even tell you where it comes from and a list of reasons why it really does exist," Harry continued, laughing.
"Harry! That's awful!" Hermione cried, though she was fighting a laugh.
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, putting a hand on Hermione's arm. "Wait, shhh," he said, cocking his head to listen. "Do you hear that?"
Hermione strained to hear what he had. Soft music, a violin- someone was playing the violin, but the sound was so faint. She glanced over at Harry, whose eyes were shut, a small sweet smile on his lips. That was entirely too odd for her liking. Harry had never shown a love for classical music before, or folk music either, she mused when the song changed from slow and languid, to fast and upbeat, festive even.
"Shh," Harry hissed, his eyes opening lethargically. "It's beautiful, Hermione."
Hermione's brow furrowed, thoughts of Chamber of Secrets and the hissing only Harry could hear flashing through her mind. But she could hear the music too, and it was beautiful, she couldn't argue that. The look on his face, however, concerned her. He looked enraptured.
"It's quite lovely," Hermione agreed, though if Harry's rapt expression was anything to go by, he didn't hear her at all.
Frown deepening, she took hold of his arm. "Harry? Harry!" she said, loudly when he didn't immediately respond.
At her shout, the music stopped abruptly and Harry blinked, scowling at Hermione.
"Why'd you do that?" he shouted irritably. "Now Snape's going to find us milling around down here!"
Hermione pulled him into the nearest shadow, hissing, "He will if you keep shouting," she warned, scanning the corridors. She heard a distant door slamming, followed by hurried footsteps. There was nowhere to run, they were caught.
A moment later, Snape was standing before them, looking furious. One hand was clenched around his wand, and the other a violin bow.
"What do you think you're doing down here?" he asked, glaring at the two of them.
She gulped, her eyes shooting down to Snape's left hand, the one clenching the violin bow so tightly. Her eyes widened in shock and her gaze shot up to Snape's face. She tempered her initial urge to blurt out "that was you?!" Instead, she settled on the tried and true answer of "I'm sorry, Professor, we were just taking a walk."
"In the dungeons?" he asked, obviously not believing they were capable of anything so innocent. "Perhaps looking to steal from my stores once again?" he snarled. "I warned you what would happen if you tried, Potter," he said, turning his dark gaze to Harry.
Harry scowled. "Yes, Professor."
"Honestly Professor, we were just -"
"Silence!" snapped Snape, and Hermione's mouth shut with an audible click. "Ten points for your insolence Miss Granger, and another twenty points from Gryffindor -"
"We weren't doing anything!" Harry argued. Hermione gripped his arm tightly in an attempt to silence him.
"Unless you wish to spend the rest of your holiday in detention, you will both remove yourselves from my sight," Snape warned, irritated that Minerva had forbidden him to give out detentions over the holiday except in the most extreme circumstances. Somehow, he doubted he could justify this situation as extreme.
Harry took Hermione's hand and pulled her around Snape intent on getting out of there and fast. His head was spinning and his heart was beating too fast. Once they had rounded the corner, Harry stopped moving, hoping Snape would just go the other way.
"Why does it always have to be him?"
"Who else would catch us, his quarters are down here," Hermione whispered irritably. "If you hadn't shouted like that, he'd have never known we were here! We're lucky we aren't scrubbing cauldrons tonight."
"That's the last thing I want to do right now," he muttered, rubbing his eyes blearily. He felt like he had just woken up when he knew logically he'd been up for hours.
"I think it would be best if we stayed out of his way for the duration of the holiday," Hermione said, heading back to the stairs that would get them out of the dungeons. "We should be revising for NEWTs anyway," she said practically.
Harry grimaced. "Didn't you finish that already?"
"No, that's why it's called revising."
"I don't even know what I want to do with my life," Harry moaned petulantly. The war had dried up any ambitions to be an Auror, and that was the only thing he had ever really considered.
"All the more reason to do well on your NEWTs. It opens up so many more opportunities," Hermione said, and Harry tuned her out, not in the mood for the usual lecture on his future.
Harry knew it was foolish, not to mention incredibly dumb, but he couldn't stop thinking about the music he had heard earlier in the day. It was after curfew, and despite the fact he was hidden under his invisibility cloak, he felt exposed as he walked the halls of the dungeon, hoping to hear the haunting melody again.
By time he finally gave up that night- or morning, as it were- his eyes were rimmed red and he was exhausted. As he collapsed into bed, the melody he'd earlier was running through his mind, calling to him in a way he didn't understand. Harry wanted it to stop, and he wanted it to go on forever.
He finally fell into a restless sleep, dreams of long, stained fingers wrapped delicately around a violin bow swirling about his mind.
A/N: I'd just like to say to all of those who have been with my Snarry fics since Little Steps I am so grateful for all of you and because I'm that grateful I have begun to revise/edit Little Steps and shall be posting the revised chapters sometime this week. I will leave the original copy up as well, just as a heads up to those who want to read on, but I'm telling you now that the revised/edited version is very different, I'd go as far to say drastically different. The original was written when I first began to write and as you can see I have matured as a writer. I'm not saying the basic plot has changed, oh no, it is quite the same. Severus still becomes a toddler in a potions accident, but character interactions are improved and the dialogue and actions are better and those gaping plot holes? I am sewing them together carefully. I am very proud of the original version of Little Steps. It is not my longest work of fiction by far, but it is the first chaptered fanfiction I ever wrote and finished.
For those of you waiting for the sequel, it won't be started until I finish revising, because I don't know what little subplots I'll need to address in it.
I'll be posting this message with all my other fic updates this week as well.
I hope you enjoyed the beginning of Bonds of Water! I've never tackled a magical creature!Snape before so this should prove to be interesting!