The castle looked beautiful. The soft glow from the sun made its towers and turrets look red. It was a good look, it made Hermione feel as if she were returning home.
It was strange, she found, that something so beautiful and magical could exist, could have existed before her and would still exist long after she was gone. Right now, at this present moment Hogwarts seemed to be there just for her.
It was breathtaking.
But then again, she was in a particularly good mood.
Severus refused to hold her hand, not that she really expected him to though.
The walk up to the castle seemed a long one from the gate. In reality it probably took only a few minutes, but in Hermione's mind she was racing over every detail. She wanted to remember this moment. Knowing it was the last time she would see the castle as it stood now she wanted to remember everything.
She could smell that fresh scent of grass, which combined with the warm sandalwood smell of Severus, really did make her want to swoon. Seeing as everything seemed to perfect she was half sure that at any moment she would wake up and the whole thing would have been a dream.
What a horrifying thought.
"Are you okay?" Severus' deep voice broke into her thoughts. "You look, troubled".
"Pardon? Oh, yes I'm fine."
He nodded blankly clearly disagreeing with her, she didn't care, she smiled at him and was rewarded with that look of complete surprise that Severus gave her every time she did so. As if by some fluke he was not worthy enough to see such a smile.
It was heartening, it made her feel special.
"Hermione I-" he said as they reached the doors to the entrance hall. "I'm sorry about this, I know you wanted to stay here, but, we don't belong in the past, our lives, our time is in the future".
She half smiled back at him, "I know" she confessed, "Its not the past that I wanted, I'll go wherever you go".
It took a moment for Severus to smile politely back at her and carry on into the belly of Hogwarts. Hermione following behind cursed herself for being so damn soppy. 'wherever you go', just thinking it made her cringe.
They didn't speak again until they reached the end of the corridor that lead to the headmaster's office. Severus stood just in front of her, before the stone gargoyle and paused.
"Are you alright?" Hermione asked watching him carefully. She noticed him swallow and wondered how hard it would be to come face to face with someone you would kill in the future.
Severus hadn't really talked about Albus much to her before, -then again why would he? Before today she had presumed he hated her- she wondered what relationship the two men once had.
"Do you know the password?" she asked feeling there was nothing else she could say to fill the silence that was enveloping them.
Severus turned his head slowly to look at her. He was trying to be intimidating, but after what he previously said to her, she could only find it endearing.
"And what makes you think I would know that?" he snapped.
She let the comment pass; after all she could see he was struggling with the situation.
She took a step forward and looked hard at the gargoyle.
"What are you trying to do?" he bit out, "stare it to death?"
"Gummy-drops" Hermione replied and ignored Severus' reaction to her peculiar outburst.
"Well that seemed to work" he muttered sarcastically.
"Do you have any better ideas?" she argued.
"Rather than standing here calling out confectionary, I suggest we go find a professor"
Hermione frowned and pouted, but only slightly. His plan did seem to be more reasonable after all.
Just as they were turning around to head in the direction of the Charms corridor a stern voce called out.
Hermione turned startled; it had been so quiet a moment before. Severus, she didn't seem to notice remained put. He didn't turn, the voice -it seemed- he recognised well.
"Professor McGonagall" Hermione almost yelped excitedly. She began to stride forward only to have her favourite professor back away from her cautiously.
"What's the mat-?" Hermione asked, and then she noticed that McGonagall's eyes, underneath her spectacles were staring horrified at her face. Hermione's hand instinctively reached up to cover her cheek and eye. She had almost forgotten about that.
"I would have thought Minerva, that it would take something stronger than that to startle you" Severus said turning around and staring at the younger version of his old colleague angrily.
"I beg your pardon" Professor McGonagall said straightening out her robes and avoiding Hermione's gaze.
"I apologise" Severus said dryly, "I thought you were made of stronger stuff than that. To be startled by ones appearance, really Minerva".
"And who may I ask, are you?" she said her voice high and crisp.
Severus took a step forward and looked at her coolly, his dark eyes never leaving hers. It took only a few moments before McGonagall took a step back, gasping and clutching her chest.
"But how? It cannot be, I have just, a moment ago, in my class…" she said all in one breath.
"We need to see Albus immediately" he demanded ignoring her gaping.
"What happened Mister Snape, err, Severus?" she asked, "Why, how do you know us so all so well?"
"That Minerva, is a mystery that only time can solve, now are you going to stand there asking irrelevant questions or are you going to help us?" he snapped.
To say she was shocked would have been an understatement. She fluttered about for a moment before regaining her composure before addressing him again. "Whilst I would love to hear you story Severus and indeed help you both" she told him -and for the first time since Severus spoke made eye contact with Hermione- "I cannot take you to Albus as he is not here. The ministry has called him away; problems with the new guy Fudge apparently. But if you like" she added looking at the pair who seemed to be very put out, "I can have some rooms arranged for you both to stay in until his return?"
Severus narrowed his eyes at her as he considered this, staying at Hogwarts would be tricky, especially with his younger self running about the place. It might not be safe for Hermione either, but then again what choice did they have.
"That would be more than adequate" he agreed and followed the professor as she nodded briskly and escorted them both to her office.
"Hermione dear" Professor McGonagall said as they reached her room on the seventh floor. "I am incredibly sorry for the way I treated you before".
"It's alright professor, I understand-"
"No, my actions were uncharacteristic and entirely rude. I hope you accept my apology"
"I do" Hermione said in a small voice.
"If I could, may I ask what happened?" McGonagall enquired.
Hermione had just opened her mouth to explain when Severus cut her off.
"No you may not, it is not of importance, therefore you do not need to know" Severus barked.
"I simply wish to know is there was anything that could be done for the poor girl" McGonagall argued.
"Minerva" Severus snapped, "You are speaking as if she were not here. Have some tack woman".
Once again the professor was left speechless and startled. "However do we know each other in the future Severus?" she asked in a hard voice, "that enables you to speak to me as you just have".
"That would be telling" he said slyly and sat down on a chair ignoring her.
"Maybe so, but in this castle, in this time I am your professor and you will treat me with the same respect I demand from my pupils".
Severus rolled his eyes.
"Once the elves have prepared your rooms I will escort you there" McGonagall informed them. "Albus should be back tomorrow afternoon".
"Thank you professor" Hermione said politely.
McGonagall looked down and her former and future pupil and took a seat in front of her. "I don't know what has happened to you my dear" she said quietly ignoring Severus glare from across the room, "But I am sure that Madam Pomfrey would be able to help you. She is excellent at healing scars; I can take you there if you wish?"
Hermione stole a sideward glance at Severus he was staring venomously at her which she knew suggested that he thought it would be a bad idea. And he was usually right, which was a shame, she hated how her face made people react.
"It was a curse" Hermione confessed, "I don't think there is anything that can be done".
Professor McGonagall nodded, "Well we will see how you feel about it tomorrow, it cannot hurt, correct?"
Reluctantly Hermione nodded. It wasn't that she was scared of any physical pain, but if she thought there was a chance she could get better and then found she had her hopes raised for nothing, well, she guessed that would hurt more than anything.
After a few moments McGonagall entered the floo and then re-emerged smiling at them both, "you rooms are ready" she announced, "if you would follow me".
She took them down past the ground floor and to the dungeons. Hermione wondered if this was more for Severus' benefit than hers, but than again she was a Slytherin whilst she was here so the Professor was probably only trying to make them both feel at home.
"This room is usually reserved for the Potions Masters private quarters. In our case, he doesn't like the cold so they are free. There are no students allowed on this corridor so you should not be disturbed." She said and led them through one tunnel after another, "there are two bedrooms, of course, and one adjoining living area. If you need anything you may floo me or call on one of the house elves".
"Thank you" Hermione said.
Severus merely gave her a grateful nod.
"I will call upon you in the morning or when Albus returns". She told them.
"That would be great thanks" Hermione again smiled.
"I trust you will sleep well" she said and then to Hermione "Goodnight" before turning on her heel and leaving the couple to their assigned rooms.
Severus walked into the sitting area and took a seat on a leather armchair that was facing the unlit fire. Hermione couldn't sit; her eyes were wide as she took in the place. The room was unlike anything she had seen at Hogwarts before. It was, if she thought about it, even more spectacular than Professor Dumbledore's office. There were books on all subjects that lined the walls, all the walls. There were instruments used for Merlin knew what on shelves all around the place and the walls and fixtures themselves were a dark, dark wood. She touched the doorframe with her finger; ebony. The floor was tiled with white granite, but in the soft light it almost looked silver.
"This room is exquisite" she remarked once she had finished staring about the place.
"Yes, I though so myself the first time I saw it" Severus agreed.
"You've been here before?" she asked amazed that he had seen such a place and never told her about it. She knew she would want to tell Harry and Ron about this, that is if she ever saw them again.
"You forget what Minerva told you, these are the Potions Masters rooms".
"These were, I mean will be, your rooms?" she asked again amazed and a little jealous if anything.
Severus nodded, "though they are very different now to the way I like them to be set up".
"Oh" Hermione said looking about.
"Your room is through that door" he told her indicating towards the large black door to her left.
"What's through there?" she asked pointing to a door opposite 'her room'.
"My Room" Severus told her and for some strange reason that she could not fathom a reasonable explanation as to why, she felt herself blush slightly.
Instead of looking at him she chose to busy herself looking for a book to read. There were tombs here older than her great-grandmother and each one seemed more enticing than the next. After a good few minutes for looking however she settled on an ancient text on muggle medicine and magical potions for healing purposes. She took the armchair next to Severus' and began to read.
She didn't know how long it had been when she looked up and caught Severus looking at her through the corner of her eye. Her eyes felt strained and the words were dancing, she must have been reading for at least a few hours. Had he been watching her all this time? She supposed he was entitled to freely watch her now that he had professed his love and all. But what did that make them both now then? Partners? It seemed too strange.
"You read remarkable fast" he told her.
She looked up from her page and met his eyes. "Yes, always have". It was true; she was already nearly halfway through the two-thousand page book.
"That is a skill, I admit to having never possessed" he said.
"Oh, erm. I suppose it's a hereditary thing. My Dad's a dentist and he got through medical school in half the time because he read the books so fast and absorbed it all quicker than the other students in his class". She told him.
Was this…small talk?
"Like you" he pointed out.
And she smiled agreeing with him. Yes, she supposed, she was very much like her dad.
"Well, it late" he told her, which it was. She had been reading for hours. "I will see you in the morning".
"Yeah, goodnight" she said shyly, not really sure of what else to say. It was amazing how nervous she now was around him. He loved her, but all of a sudden she had developed into this shy version of herself.
"Goodnight Hermione" he said, his voice deep and soothing.
She stood up to put the book back and perhaps he mistook it for something else as he leaned forward in a second and kissed her lips lightly.
They banged heads too, but that was the last thing on Hermione's mind.
His lips only met hers for a few seconds before he pulled away and strode into his room rather swiftly. Leaving Hermione standing in the sitting room clutching a giant book to her chest and trying to remember how to breathe.
After conscious thoughts returned to her mind she smiled, placed the book back on the shelf and settled in her own room.
He was just as shy as she was.
A/N; Had a fab holiday, thanks to everyone who left a great review whilst I was away. They were lovely presents to come back to.
I Like how you get all shy in the beginning of a relationship and how clumsy you are, I think that is what I see Hermione and Severus doing. I know I promised Dumbledore in this chapter, but I couldn't resist having a chapter just for Hermione and Severus.
Next Chapter I promise.
Anyway, Please leave a review thay make me smile :D