he had no shortage of words to describe her.
He sat alone in his office, a half-drunk glass of amber firewhisky on the rough wooden table in front of him.
Beside the glass sat his Pensive, old and cracked but still functional. He had been using it all night.
Why was it that the harder he tried, the fewer memories he could find of her?
He sifted through his Pensive, pulling out memory after memory, searching for….something.
He was in the lab…the one that had been set up in the Order's headquarters. He was teaching her to brew potions…healing potions that the Order would need. Her hair was pulled up, the curls restrained tightly at the nape of her neck.
He was drunk. He shouldn't be doing this, pulling memories out when he was this intoxicated.
He was in the lab again. This time he was yelling. They both were. A metal stirring rod flew across the room, barely missing him before it hit the wall and clattered to the floor. She stormed out and slammed the door shut behind her.
Why was he doing this? What was he looking for?
Dumbledore was telling him that he should do his part of the brewing at the Hogwarts lab and give her his excess to brew in the lab at Headquarters alone.
What had happened? He couldn't remember.
He was in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place talking with Arthur Weasley, Dumbledore and Kingley. She enters the room. His eyes track her movements for a few moments before Dumbledore asks him for a word outside.
He enters the lab at Headquarters to check on her progress. He barely has two words with her when Minerva enters and informs him that she needs to speak with him right away.
Another memory, a smile…
When had she ever smiled at him? Why would she smile at him?
There was something missing.
What was he looking for? Something was being kept from him, of that he was sure. The harder they tried to keep the secret, the more desperate he became to know what it was.
Was that it? Were those all of them? She had been in the Order with him for nearly four years now, why was it that he did not have more memories of her?
His memories picked up again in the past year, although much of it was things he rather wished he didn't remember.
She had been devastated when her parents had been killed. That had been a rough blow. He had watched her in Order meetings, the red around her eyes informing them all that she was still grieving.
It took her six months to come to terms with their deaths, for the fire to return to her eyes. And just at the point that she had started to pull her life back together, the unthinkable had happened.
She was abducted and tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange.
Well…what was there to say?
She had been broken, that much was obvious.
That spark, that light. He hadn't known he had relied on it until it was gone. Relied on it? He hardly even knew her. It was most definitely gone. Her eyes were dead and hollow now.
Why did he care so much? She was nothing to him, a former student, one of hundreds….
Why did he keep thinking about her?
Why did that same memory keep haunting him…the day she came home from the weeks she had spent in St. Mungos.
She looked so small and fragile in Weasley's arms, nothing like the fierce warrior he knew her to be, nothing like the woman who had stood up to him, had argued with him in his own lab.
Why had that sight shaken him so much?
"She can't walk?" He had mumbled to Dumbledore as they passed.
"She won't." The old man replied softly, implying that the damage was not physical but psychological.
The sight haunted him in a way he didn't understand. He had lived half his life in times of war, he had seen worse…much worse. Why was it that this bothered him so much?
In the weeks, the months that followed, Weasley and Potter had made taking care of their friend their top priority. There was always one of them by her side, forcing her to eat, brushing her hair, coaxing her out of bed to sit by the window.
He had been pleasantly surprised that after all those years of Hermione Granger taking care of the two boys, that they would step up and take care of her when she needed it.
He climbed the stairs on his way to the second floor library. Crossing the hallway, the open door to the washroom caught his eye. Two figures were silhouetted against the pale shower curtain. He stopped. Had a couple decided to shower together and not bothered to close the door?
The curtain was pulled aside, revealing a fully-clothed Ronald Weasley holding his friend under the water. A figure stepped into the doorway, blocking his view and making him realize that the small washroom held a third occupant.
Harry Potter glared at him before closing the door.
The months wore on and each day the two young men looked worst than the last.
He had confronted Dumbedore about it, but the old man refused to listen to reason.
"What's wrong with her?" He had demanded.
"That is none of your business."
The old man narrowed his eyes, regarding Severus suspiciously.
"Why do you care so much?"
He let out an exasperated sigh.
"She is a risk to the Order. Even I can see what she's doing to Potter. We have to discuss what is to be done with her if she doesn't recover."
"She will recover."
"But if she doesn't…"
Dumbledore hadn't answered him.
"Hermione Granger's welfare is none of your business, Severus. Concentrate on your duties and forget about her."
But he hadn't forgotten, he had watched her more closely whenever he had gotten the chance.
He had been standing in the shadows when the door to her room had opened and Weasley had slipped out, meeting Potter in the hallway.
"She says she doesn't want to be with me anymore, that she never will. She said it's over. Harry, I can't….I just can't do this tonight."
"I'll take care of her, Ron."
The boy tapped softly on the door and stepped inside.
He didn't leave until the morning.
The next day, Severus brewed quietly in his lab at Hogwarts when there was a tap at the door. He called for the visitor to come in but was surprised by who entered.
Harry Potter stood in his lab. Severus wanted to yell at him to get out, but he was stopped both by curiosity and by pity. The dark circles under the boy's eyes showed how rough things had been recently.
His eyes contained none of the impertinence, none of the distain they usually showed as he approached the potion master's desk. They showed only a vast weariness.
"It's about Hermione."
Severus stopped his work.
"Are you here to tell me what's wrong with her?"
"Then what do you want?"
"I wanted to see if you maybe had something she could do…some research you needed to be done. Some mindless work for her to do to keep her mind off of other things."