Disclaimer: It all belongs to JKR. No infringement intended.

Rating: PG, don't know about later.

Summary: A young girl flees her deepest fear, and finds herself face to face with the Potions Master in the dead of night. Time-travel.

Pairing: Severus/Hermione

Lightning Strikes

by Auror Borealis

Chapter 1

Rain lashed against the windows, propelled sideways by the gale. Callie put a silencing charm on her bed; one that would keep the noise out, not in. She was terrified of storms. It was irrational, she knew, but that knowledge never stopped her stomach from twisting into knots when the wind began to rise, or the lightning arced across the sky.

Not being able to hear it didn't help much. It still preyed on her mind. Any second, she thought, the wind and rain would come crashing in through the window of her dorm. An uprooted tree trunk would sail through the shards of glass that clung stubbornly to the window frame, landing on her bed and crushing her. It didn't matter how many times she told herself that it could not happen. The wards on the castle would prevent it, if nothing else. Knowing she couldn't really be hurt didn't keep her from huddling, shaking with fright, in her bed. There was only one place where she felt safe when the fierce late fall storms ravaged the area.

The resolve that kept her obediently in her bed failed her, and Callie jumped up, grabbing

her robe as she sprinted out the door. She stubbed a bare toe on a table in the common room, kicking it in her haste to be gone. After hopping gracelessly on one foot for a moment, trying to shake loose the pain, she resumed her flight. She hoped the caretaker didn't catch her out of bed; at least not until she made it safely to the dungeons. The noise, the vibration, the electricity in the air didn't penetrate to Hogwart's depths. Gloomy and unwelcoming as they were, the dungeons were Callie's refuge when nature raged outside.

Her breathing eased as she descended the stairs, then passed the entrance to the Slytherin common room, needing to put more distance between herself and the parts of Hogwarts that were above ground, and opened onto the outdoors. She finally slumped against the wall within yards of the Potions classroom, arms wrapped around herself. It was cold down here, and the weak torchlight along the corridor flickered in a way that cast sinister shadows everywhere. But the air felt less heavy and she couldn't feel the charged ions dancing across her skin anymore, giving her that horrid feeling that any moment she would be struck by lightning. She settled in to wait until it felt safe to venture up the stairs again.

Sometime later the door to the Potions classroom opened, startling Callie. Great, she thought. Busted.

Professor Severus Snape, wrapped in a dark grey flannel robe, stepped into the corridor, his hooded black eyes going straight to the girl, who pressed herself against the wall as though she trying to become invisible.

"Curfew was three hours ago."

"Yes, sir," she said, ashamed at the tears that already clogged her voice. She hated this weakness.

"Five points from Hufflepuff for being out of your house after hours."

"Yes, sir," she repeated miserably.

The Potions Master crossed the hallway and gathered the trembling third year into his arms, sighing with frustration as her arms circled around him with bruising force. The girl was terrified, and it was not in his power to soothe this fear of hers. It made him feel helpless.

"Come along, Caledonia. Your mother is waiting for you," he said, leading her through the classroom to the passage to his living quarters.

She clung to him as they walked, her face buried against his shoulder. He barely heard her whispered, "Thank you, Daddy."