Hermione's lips parted slightly in surprise as she stared into the mirror.
"What happened to me?"
Her bushy hair had calmed into the smooth curls crawling down her back. Her blotchy skin was clear, ice clear, and glowed with a honey tint. Hermione touched her face lightly, afraid the beauty might fall away. Then, interrupting the grace in the mirror, Hermione bared all of her teeth. Her two front teeth had been fixed years before, but now they were pearly white. She smacked her lips shut again and leaned on the sink.
"How did this happen?" she breathed. No cosmetic could change her so much, especially since Hermione just woke up. She pushed her palm against the mirror to make sure it wasn't an illusion, and then with a start, realized her eyes had changed colors, too. Hermione's golden orbs widened in shock.
She tore her gaze quickly away, her heart beating with fear in her chest, and she hurried out of the bathroom. What did happen to her? Hermione didn't understand it; how could her appearance change so drastically overnight?
She slowed while draping her robes over her shoulders, remembering what the day was. It was her seventeenth birthday.
"That can't make so much of a difference," Hermione huffed as she finished dressing. She snuck into the common room, peeking around for Blaise before running out the door. If the Head Boy left, then she was nearly late for Potions class. Hermione gasped for air by the time she reached the dungeons. Before she opened the door, she forced her hat hard over her head, pulling the rim nearly over her eyes. She didn't want people to see her new look.
"You're late. Fifty points from Gryffindor for the Head Girl's irresponsibility," Severus snarled as she finally fell through the door.
"I am not," Hermione snapped before she could stop herself. She didn't sprint the whole way for nothing, especially since she was not a runner by any means. Hermione drew herself up to glare at the Potions professor. "I'm a minute early!"
Severus glared back for a moment. All the students in the class held their breath as they glanced between the two.
"Miss Granger, I—" Severus cut himself off. Hermione had lifted her chin higher into the air and her newly colored golden eyes flashed at him. She quickly looked down again when his eyebrows raised. "Miss Granger," he repeated, "see me after class. Now sit down."
Hermione peered at him again, wondering how much of her new look he had seen. Severus' sharp sight caught the glint of gold in her eyes again as she studied him and took her seat. The class was painfully slow for Hermione. She kept touching her face, feeling the buttery smooth skin that led to her silken curls. Then she would tug the hat further over her eyes.
When everyone left the classroom, Hermione continued sitting in front of her cauldron. There was a short uncomfortable silence before he spoke.
"Take off the hat, Miss Granger," he said flatly and sat down at his desk.
"Why?" Hermione panicked. She heard him make a low noise in his throat that sounded like a growl.
"I want to see what the dreadful damage is that you've done to yourself. Have you turned yourself into a cat again?" Hermione could hear the mocking in his voice and felt like shrinking into the floor. Instead, she raised a shaking hand to the brim of her hat and slowly pulled it off her head.
Severus blinked once, staring at the girl with her eyes closed as if she expected ridicule. He had expected ears, baldness, or fungus; not this. The girl's entire self seemed to shine forth an ethereal glow. Not that he usually paid attention, but her hair seemed to have grown a few inches over the weekend. The curls were a much lighter color, almost blonde now. The shape of her face and body hadn't changed, but her creamy skin was darker than her usual pale tint. Severus studied her in confusion for almost a minute before Hermione opened her eyes, and then he got a good look at her unnaturally golden eyes. Severus pressed his tongue against his teeth as an unprofessional thought drifted across his mind. She looked stunning.
He noticed her searching his face for a reaction.
"I want a twenty page essay by Wednesday on the side affects of glamour potions," he said gruffly, knocking the thought aside roughly.
"I didn't use glamour; I never have," Hermione said quickly. Severus sneered at her but Hermione only leaned forward with something like desperation. "I woke up this morning and I looked… like this! Does this usually happen on a witch's seventeenth birthday—"
"I can genuinely say that I don't care—"
"I don't understand why this happened! Don't you know why?"
"Just do the essay!" Severus snarled sharply. Hermione shut her mouth, glaring at him, and pulled the hat back onto her head.
"Of course, Professor," Hermione answered, snapping her Potions book shut and stuffing it inside her bag. She risked one more glance up at him to see if she might chance another question. His black eyes flashed back at her in annoyance, warning her off, and his lips suddenly tightened as if he were hurting. His long pale fingers twitched toward his left arm, but Hermione thought she had imagined it.
She quickly bent to pick up her bag when sharp pain shot through her back, like how Hermione would think a whip laced with glass would feel if she were struck with it.
"Ow!" she gasped. Her knees buckled as the searing pain flooded into her shoulder blades. Her vision became a smudged blur as tears sprang unwilled into her eyes. She didn't feel her knees hit the floor, but grasped the table as if her life depended on it until the pain subsided.
"Miss Granger?" she heard Severus say. He sounded annoyed. She tried to control her erratic breathing. "What is wrong with you now?"
She stumbled to her feet and slung her bag over her shoulder.
"Nothing," she breathed, looking everywhere but at his face. "Twenty pages by Wednesday, I know." Then Hermione turned on her heel and darted from the classroom.
Severus watched her leave, not the least bit concerned but making sure she shut the door behind her, and then hurried to his quarters to put on his mask.
Hermione hurried back to her rooms, taking every lonely shortcut she knew. Her fellow Head, Blaise, wasn't there so she had the bathroom all to herself. She clumsily unclasped every button until she was naked from the waist up and then twisted around to look at her back in the mirror. She was distracted at first by the darker complexion of her skin but then searched for marks by her shoulder blades, where the searing pain had been. Hermione sighed when there was nothing and rested her face in her hands.
"What's happening to me?"
When Severus returned to the school, it was very late. Early morning, he guessed, as he peeled the Death Eaters mask away and hid it in his wardrobe. As he reached to place the wretched object on the top shelf, Severus felt the remnants of pain in his ribs where he had been hit with the Crucio. The Dark Lord was in a foul mood that night.
Severus discarded his robes and shirt, intending to go to bed quickly, but he heard a soft knocking at the door to his quarters.
"Who the hell…" he muttered as he trudged to the door. It was probably that pestering Headmaster wanting information on the Dark Lord already, even though they had a meeting arranged for tomorrow. He pulled the door open and his face turned sour immediately.
Hermione slowly raised her fist to her side and stared at him with blank eyes.
"What do you want?" Severus hissed. Her lips parted slightly, as if she might reply, but then she closed them again. Severus' mind searched for a reason. A few students in the past have approached his door in the night with impure intentions, which he honorably turned down with a few cruel words, but he did not think Hermione the type. "Well?" he pressed impatiently.
Her hooded eyes looked at him lazily under her spiraling curls. She swayed softly from one small naked foot to the other, her white nightgown waving around her knees. Severus crossed his arms over his chest and tilted his head to one side.
"Are you still sleeping?" he asked quietly, realization dawning on him. His eyes narrowed again as she reached forward slowly. The white sleeve uncovered her knuckles as her fingers outstretched and she touched Severus' side. The professor opened his mouth angrily, but Hermione continued to press her fingertips gently on his ribs.
"Sano," she breathed, the vowels thick and exotic in her throat.
Severus felt warmth flow from his student's fingertips onto his side. He couldn't move for a second as the warmth seeped into his skin, but then he stepped away from her touch.
"What did you do?" he asked harshly, but Hermione only looked at him with sleepy golden eyes. Then she turned and slowly walked away, still swaying gently.
Severus shut the door, locking it, before examining his side. He pressed hard on his ribs to make sure she hadn't cursed him in any way, and then when he felt nothing, Severus realized. Hermione healed him.
Hermione sat up in bed suddenly, ripped from her sleep, and emptied her stomach over the side of the bed. She laid still for a moment, her head and shoulders hanging limp in the air, before she rolled fully back onto the bed again. The cheery sunlight streaming through the window did not match her state a bit. Hermione's body and nightgown were drenched with sweat. Her skin felt like it was on fire with a fever and her eyes watered blindingly. Hermione groaned as she stumbled to the bathroom, avoiding the puddle of mess on the floor, and quickly splashed cold water on her burning face.
When she looked up, her eyes meeting her reflection, Hermione groaned again. Her hair was even lighter today, faintly blonde, and her skin was a honey color. Before she could ponder her further changes, she had to hurry to the toilet to relieve her heaving stomach once more.
It took her much longer than usual to reach the Great Hall for breakfast. Once she had pinned her hair under her hat and pulled the brim low on her forehead, she slowly made her way to the Gryffindor table.
"Where have you been?" Harry questioned immediately. "We didn't see you all day yesterday and we have presents for you."
"I haven't been feeling well," Hermione said weakly, not lying in the slightest.
"You should go see Madam Pomfrey," Ron said thickly around a mouthful of toast.
"Maybe you're right," Hermione said after a moment of thought.
"Really?" Ron said, genuinely surprised, and Hermione smiled faintly.
She reached for a goblet of pumpkin juice when a strange dream floated to the front of her mind. She dreamed the night before that she visited Severus in his quarters, simply touched him, and then left him.
She shook her head slowly, not wanting to make any sudden movements. Then she lifted her eyes to look at the teachers' table. Severus was gazing at her with an unreadable expression and he didn't drop his eyes. Hermione bit her lip in confusion and looked away. It was only a dream… wasn't it?
Severus' interest had piqued when the girl looked at him. He quickly took the chance to sweep over her mind and found only confusion. So she didn't remember her visit last night or what she did to him. He also noticed how incredibly… likely to throw up she seemed. His predictions proved right as she jumped up and ran at the doors, her hand held tight against her mouth.
"Poppy," Dumbledore said calmly beside him, speaking to the nurse on the other side of Severus.
"I see her," Poppy said, already rising to her feet.
Then the whole Hall gasped as Hermione stopped and fell hard onto the stone floor.
Severus didn't know how the chubby little nurse ran so fast, but she was at Hermione's side in seconds. As Poppy levitated the young witch into the air, Hermione's hat toppled off and her hair hung loosely in the hair. Everyone stared at the soft blonde curls and olive skin before Poppy hurriedly floated her out of sight.
"Interesting," Dumbledore murmured, tapping his fingertips on his wrinkled cheek.
"It's no more than an idiot girl playing with glamour," Severus said, wondering why the old man turned everything into a conspiracy. He hadn't told Dumbledore about Hermione's sleepwalking episode. Severus didn't plan to either, simply because he just did not care.
"No, it's more than that," the headmaster said. Severus resisted the urge to roll his eyes and then sighed in agitation as the old man motioned for him to follow. They walked to the hospital wing, Severus regretting attending breakfast that morning, and found Hermione sleeping peacefully.
"Bloody amazing," Severus growled after a moment of silence and watched as Dumbledore leant forward to examine the student.
"There is something happening with our Miss Granger," he decided. "I think we can only discover what that may be when she awakes."
Severus considered, for a moment, telling the headmaster about the night before, but Dumbledore interrupted him.
"Until then," he said, "come with me and we'll discuss Voldemort's next move."
Hermione slept for the entire day, but she was completely conscious of her dreams of white wings soaring high above the land. Even in rest, she felt confused. She still didn't understand it. Why was she changing? Did she really visit the professor the night before? What did it all mean?
She felt like she had to be somewhere; like she had something to do. There was someone that needed her and she had to save them. That person needed her protection, even from the cold. The cold…
Hermione opened her eyes and gasped. The wind howled in her ears as sheets of rain beat against her body. She was freezing, shaking so much that it was hard to keep her balance. She looked down and let out a cry of fear into the black night, occasionally brightened by lightning.
"How did I get here?" she choked. Her bare toes were at the edge of the ledge of the astronomy tower and a terrifying fall was a gust of wind away. Thunder shook her footing ominously. She would have backed away, but she felt no control. There was something holding her there. Hermione looked into the black distance, her eyes squinting until she found what instinct was looking for.
Severus stumbled through the gates and up the trail to Hogwarts. The rain was washing the blood off his face, but more spilled out in its place. The Dark Lord was angry with him. Severus failed to give him more information on the Order and he paid for it, although he knew it couldn't be any other way. He grunted as his weak legs gave way in the slippery mud and struggled to his feet again. His own wheezing breath could be heard above the thunder and Severus looked toward the school, willing himself to reach its warmth. The lightning flashed and made the night as bright as day for a few seconds. Severus stopped abruptly and stared upward.
There was a girl on the tower, looking directly at him. Her white nightgown made her stick out against the gray storm. He rubbed his eyes free of blood and rain to get a clearer look. The girl was stepping into the air.
"NO!" he shouted. She jumped, her arms outstretched toward him. Severus fumbled for his wand in the folds of his wet robes and ran forward as fast as his broken body would carry him. He could see her now. Her eyes were still determinedly fixed on him. She was falling faster than the rain. "GRANGER!"
There was a flash of bright light that wasn't lightning, but it wasn't so blinding that Severus had to turn his face away. He saw what happened to her. He saw the wings burst from her back. They were pure white and each wing's span was twice her length. Hermione's head jerked back as the wings interrupted her fall. Severus kept running toward her, not quite sure what he would do. He saw the panic enter her eyes. The majestic wings flapped weakly, uncharacteristically, before they snapped straight up behind her. With the air no longer held beneath her, the witch screamed as she plummeted.
Severus wasn't ready and he cursed vehemently as she hit the ground. He heard the pained cry tear from her lips before he reached her. The wings were gone but a few stray feathers were being sucked into the mud. The nightgown had been ripped away from her body, leaving only her underwear, and she was drenched in mud. The professor swooped down next to her, still cursing loudly.
"Granger!" he hissed, taking hold of her slippery shoulders and squeezing. She groaned softly and her small hand grasped one of his wrists.
"You're hurt," she whispered, although her eyes remained closed. Severus shook his head.
"You just jumped off a bloody building, stupid girl!" he said angrily.
"Sano." The warmth flowed once more from her touch. Severus was frozen for a moment as it spread to his entire body and soaked in. Then she opened her eyes just enough for Severus to see the gold shine in a flash of lightning. She lifted a tendril of wet hair in front of her face and waited for the rain to rinse it free of mud.
"What's happening to me?" she finally cried, tears mixing with the rain on her cheeks. Severus stared at her for a moment, hardly believing what was happening to her either, but he knew. He didn't care enough to realize before, but now he knew what Hermione was. With his body completely healed, Severus quickly wrapped the fragile witch in his cloak and pulled her against him.
"This changes everything, eluvia." With a grim expression, he carried Hermione's shaking form toward the castle, the rain dripping off the ends of her white hair.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
Well... do you like it? Make sure you review if you do, because I have this little thing where I don't continue a fic unless I know people like it. Call me crazy but... if I don't have fans for the fiction then what's the point of my fanfiction?
Everything about Hermione's change will be revealed next chapter, so please don't bombard me with questions!
Go on, review!