A/N: Hey guys! So this one is a bit longer than the last few, I hope you enjoy it! I worked really hard on this one, and Im still not in love with it, so please review and tell me what you think!
Thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter!
It was now the middle of June and Hermione was starting to worry about Severus. In the past few weeks, he had gotten decidedly moodier. His patience was almost as short as it had been before she and Severus had become friends.
Deciding that Severus just needed a day away from Hogwarts, she resolved to take matters into her own hands. The week before, she went to Dumbledore asking for permission for she and Severus to leave on Friday to gather supplies for the stores. She had explained that they needed to harvest Mandragore plants. "They can only be harvested just before dawn so we will not be returning until Saturday." Hermione added.
"That is fine Miss Granger, I believe that we can do without the two of you for a day or so." Dumbledore replied. "Now I must ask... Have you discussed this outing with Severus? I find it hard to believe that he would have you come to me, instead of himself."
"I thought it would be a nice surprise, I can see that he is under a lot of stress and I thought that it might do him some good to get out of the castle for a bit." Hermione said biting her lip.
"My dear I couldn't agree more." Dumbledore said with his usual smile.
"So would you mind not mentioning this to Professor Snape?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
"I wouldn't dream of ruining your surprise, I shall not say a word. I will also make sure that Poppy doesn't ask for any potions that are not absolutely needed." Dumbledore added.
"Thank you sir, that is awfully kind." Hermione smiled. "I must be going or I'm going to be late for his class."
"Goodbye, Miss Granger, until next time." Dumbledore called as she turned to leave.
It was now Friday and everything had gone to plan, Hermione had graded all of Severus' papers, finished a few potions for the hospital wing, and had by some miracle kept all of this hidden from Severus. Hopefully he wouldn't be too cross with her.
"Umm Severus?" Hermione said hesitantly, walking up to him in the lab that afternoon.
"What is it now?" Severus groaned.
"I just thought that you'd like to know we are completely out of Mandragore. I'm sorry I'm not sure how I missed it." Hermione added.
"Do you have any idea how difficult it is to harvest Mandragore plants? I use those plants in a third of my potions! What am I supposed to do now you silly girl!" Severus yelled.
"I thought we could go today, now actually to harvest some." Hermione answered
"I cannot just drop everything, that is why I have you give me at least two weeks notice for these things, so I have time to work it into my schedule. I have papers to grade and potions to brew, not to mention that Mandragore's are harvested just before dawn so I would be gone until tomorrow."
"Excuse me sir, but I have graded all of your papers, and I have brewed all the potions for the hospital wing and a few that you were running low on in your medicine cabinet. You have nothing to attend to, but Harry's detention tomorrow afternoon. We will surly be back by then."
Severus' eyes widened at what he was hearing, "We?"
"Well it's not as if you can pick it! As I'm sure you know a woman has to harvest it." Hermione said matter of factly, placing her hands on her hips.
Severus eyes widened with realization, "You planned this."
"If you must know, I did." Hermione said confidently, while Severus stood there silently brooding at being hoodwinked by his student.
"Now come on, let's get going I'd like to get to the house before dark." Hermione bossed.
"Aren't you forgetting something?"
"No, I don't think so."
"It might be prudent of us to alert someone of our absence," Severus informed her.
"Oh you mean that, I've already informed Dumbledore, he said it was fine." Hermione said brushing it off.
"You spoke with Dumbledore? When?"
"At the beginning of the week."
"Im impressed the gossip was able to keep a secret from me for that long, I'll have to congratulate him next time I see him."
"I am quite surprised myself." Hermione replied, a smirk playing across her face. "So shall we go? I've packed all the supplies."
"Of course you have." Severus said rolling his eyes.
"As you know quite well, we will not be harvesting the plant for another ten or eleven hours, so what may I ask are we doing here so early?" Severus asked. Hermione was surprised at how quickly his mood had changed, he seemed to be more or less his usual self again, she was happy to see that her plan was working.
Smiling, Hermione replied, "I thought it would do us both good to get out of the castle for a bit." They were now walking up the grassy lawn towards Severus' safe house.
"What do you propose we do for supper?" Severus smirked.
"Why are you asking me?" Hermione asked.
"This is all your doing, don't you have a plan?" He was teasing her now, she knew it, but she refused to claim defeat.
"I thought we could venture into the village, perhaps have dinner at one of the local pubs?"
"I do not think it a wise idea, though the chances are slim, someone could see us." Severus replied, his face darkening.
"We have magic, do we not? I think between the two of us we can come up with some pretty good disguises." Hermione said confidently.
"I am only agreeing to this because I find it highly doubtful that there will be any witches and wizards there." Severus sighed.
"Lovely! Have you been to the village before?"
"On two occasions, yes. The first time was before I purchased this house, to make sure that there were no local wizards living in the area. The second time was just after I moved in." Severus answered cryptically.
"I see." Hermione said hesitantly. "Are there any good places to eat?"
"Yes, we shall eat at The Swan, the food was... acceptable." Severus answered, opening the door to his house.
"Acceptable hmm? Well what girl can say no to acceptable food." Hermione teased. "Now where is a mirror?" Severus looked at her, confused about the train of thought. "I shall need a mirror to put a glamour on myself." She explained.
"There is one in the bathroom down the hall to the right. You will want to change your clothes as well." He reminded her.
"That goes for you too." Hermione smiled teasingly, as she left to go find the bathroom. Oh Merlin what am I doing? Am I actually flirting with Professor Snape? She thought as she closed the door behind her.
By the time Hermione was done she looked like an older, taller, darker version of herself, no one that did not truly know her would even see a resemblance. She had opted for what she had already been wearing under her robes, denim jeans a light grey v-neck sweater. Having finished brushing through her now tamed dark chestnut brown curls, she looked in the mirror and was satisfied that she wasn't recognizable. Taking a deep breath she went to go find Severus.
Upon finding him in the kitchen, Hermione' eyes widened slightly, as she examined, more like admired, the man standing in front of her. While Severus had done a good job of concealing his identity, he had kept some of his features, making it easy for Hermione to see the man she knew underneath. But as she looked at him, she realized that no one but she and maybe Dumbledore knew him well enough to see past the glamour. "What? Is my outfit not muggle enough?" Severus commented at seeing her reaction. Now looking at his attire, Hermione had to stop herself from launching herself at him, never had she imagined her Professor to wear black jeans before, she laughed internally as she noticed he was also wearing a black button down shirt. Some things will never change. Hermione mused.
"No, you look fine. What about me? Is the glamour good enough?" Hermione asked spinning around, for him to get the full effect.
After a long pause he said, "It is sufficient enough... Shall we?"
Hermione had been looking forward to the walk into the village that evening, thinking that it would be a nice way to relax and take in some of the scenery. She had been wrong however, as Severus didn't let his guard down the entire walk, thinking that every person they passed was a potential threat. "Severus, calm down! Do you really want to be known as the town grouch?"
Thankfully by the time they made it to the pub Severus seemed to have calmed down a little. "So what'll you be havin' this evenin'?" A friendly looking waiter said coming up to their table. He reminded Hermione of Ron slightly, tall, red hair with freckles scattered across his face. He was slightly thinner though and maybe a few years older.
"I am not sure yet, as we have only just arrived." Severus grumbled.
"Well would you like anything to drink while you're deciding?" The waiter offered, Severus' mood not seeming to affect him in the slightest.
Severus did not answer, "I think we'll both just have water." Hermione answered.
"You sure? We do have a very nice bottle of-"
"I believe she said we'd just have water." Severus ground out.
"Oh all right then, two waters it is." That seemed to do it, as the now fearful waiter left them alone.
"You know you could be a little nicer, you don't have to be a total grump all the time you know, he was only doing his job." Hermione said, folding her arms.
"When have you ever known me to be nice?" Severus smirked, Hermione thought she saw a glimmer of amusement in his eyes, maybe this evening isn't lost yet! She thought hopefully.
"I suppose, but you are usually in better spirits than this." Hermione said soothingly. "Once the war is over, and I am out of school, I will have to come visit you here. Otherwise I don't think I shall ever see you." She said in an effort to change the subject.
"If you say so." He answered dryly.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Hermione said indignantly.
"It means Hermione, that you will be far too busy to come visit the likes of me."
"You don't really believe that do you?" Hermione said sadly sitting back in her chair.
"I do." Severus said simply.
"I don't know what I can do to convince you that I care," Hermione said disheartened. "Severus... you are stuck with me, for good. You are one of my dearest friends... I would never let us drift apart." Hermione said reaching for his hand.
Looking into her eyes, he could see that she was telling the truth. He cleared his throat, uncomfortable with what he saw.
"Okay so we have two waters, have you guys decided what you'll be having?" The waiter interrupted, placing the two glasses down, not realizing the awkward moment that he had just intruded on.
"I'll have the Fish and Chips and the lady will have...?" Severus paused looking over at Hermione in question.
"I'll have the same please." Hermione said with a warm smile.
"Two Fish and Chips. Anything else?" He said looking in between the two.
"That's it for now, thanks." Hermione answered.
"You're very welcome," the waiter said giving Hermione a wink. Hermione blushed as he went to place their order. Severus on the other hand did not look happy at all, with the attention she was receiving.
"I hadn't realized how much I needed to get away until now." Hermione said turning to look at Severus. "The school can be quite suffocating at times, don't you think?"
"At times, yes," Severus nodded slowly, taking a sip of water. "It is nice during the summer months though, no little brats running the halls, most of the staff gone, I find the castle quite enjoyable then."
"It sounds lonely." Hermione commented.
"Not to me, I revel in the peace and quiet." Severus replied.
"How on earth do you tolerate me then?" Hermione asked out of the blue.
Severus chuckled at the question, "The key word is tolerate." At the look of hurt that passed across Hermione's face he corrected himself, "A year ago, all I desired was peace and quiet, and then you showed up and I find myself looking forward to our conversations."
"That is quite a compliment coming from you." Hermione said enthused.
It was just after ten when they arrived back at Severus' cottage. After having a delicious meal, the two friends talked over their glasses of water, for another two hours.
"I suppose we should get some sleep." Hermione suggested, stepping into the kitchen.
"Yes, I think that would be best, we can't afford to make a mistake while harvesting. I'll show you to one of the bedrooms," Severus said leading the way. You may have my room, I intend to be up for a few more hours."
"Are you sure?" Hermione said following him into the master bedroom. It was very much like his bedroom at Hogwarts, all but for the two French doors that led to a balcony off the master suite.
"Positive. If you need anything I will be at the end of the hall in my study. I shall wake you at three, that gives us just over an hour to harvest the plants."
"That should be fine, Goodnight Severus." Hermione said with a smile as he closed the door.
Crawling into his bed, Hermione inhaled the heavy scent of the man she desired. She had never wanted to kiss and touch a man as much as she had wanted to kiss and touch Severus tonight. Even holding his hand had made her stomach do flips. What on earth have I gotten myself into? Hermione thought to herself as she slowly began to fall asleep.
"Hermione, Hermione... Miss Granger wake up," said the soothing voice of Severus Snape.
"Severus?" Hermione said through a yawn, "Is it three already?"
"Yes, Im afraid you must get up, we can't afford to waste time."
"Yes, all right, I'm awake." Hermione said a tad reluctant, as she clamoured out of bed and followed him down the hall.
"Where is the silver spade?" Hermione asked as they made their way out of the house.
"In there," Severus motioned to the greenhouse as they walked towards it.
"So how many did you want to harvest?" Hermione said looking over at him.
"I think seven should do it, they say that is the best number to harvest them in."
"I hadn't heard that, it makes sense though," Hermione said filing the information away for later revisal.
"If you wouldn't mind humouring me, could you please inform me on how to harvest a Mandragore plant?" Severus said in his most authoritative voice.
"Certainly, a Mandragore plant can only be harvest by a woman just before dawn. She may only use a silver spade or knife, and cannot cut any of the roots, if you do the plant is useless. After the plant has been harvested you place it in a bag containing salt crystals. They must then stay in the bag for three days."
"Correct, you may begin whenever you like." Severus said nodding his head.
Three hours later Hermione and Severus were walking back into his quarters through the secret passageway in the back of the castle. Hermione went to the store room, putting the bag of Mandragore plants on its designated shelf.
"So tell me Hermione, what was the real reason that you went to all this trouble?" Severus said suspiciously.
"You are obviously distraught about something. You've been angry with me for the past few weeks, through no fault of mine. I thought that you might want to tell me what it is." Hermione said, making the mistake of thinking that he would want to talk about what was bothering him,
"I am not one of your little Gryffindor's looking for a shoulder to cry on Miss Granger!" Great he's referring to me as Miss Granger again, he only does that when he's really angry. Hermione thought to herself.
"I never said you needed a shoulder to cry on, I was just asking why you are so cross with me," Hermione said defending herself.
"It is not your place to question my moods, I am the Professor and your employer." Severus said, his anger rising by the second.
"Severus you do realize that I already know why you're acting like this. I'm not stupid you know!" Hermione said, coming up to stand only a few inches in front of him.
"Oh please Miss Granger, enlighten me with your wisdom!" Severus said mockingly.
"Wrong Miss Granger, I am never afraid." Severus said cutting her off.
"You are impossible!" Hermione said throwing up her arms in frustration.
"And you are not? You have to be one of the most suffocating people I have ever met. I haven't had a moment to myself since you became my assistant." It was as if Hermione had been slapped in the face. Severus was about to continue when she cut him off. What about all the things he had said at dinner the night before? Had they all been lies?
"I think it best that you don't speak at the moment, before you do any permanent damage. I'm going to go now. I won't be back until you can act like an adult." And without another word she turned around, leaving the Potions Master alone.
It had been almost two weeks since either of them had spoken to each other. Hermione had even refrained from raising her hand in class, and Severus began ignoring the Golden Trio entirely. She was nearly at her breaking point, this was the longest they had gone without talking in quite awhile, and though she hated to admit it, she missed him. Hermione had decided that if this went on for another two days she would be the bigger person and go to him. They only had a few more days of school left and she didn't want to leave Hogwarts on bad terms with him.
The only good thing that came of not seeing Severus so much was more time to see her friends, something, she now realized she hadn't had done in awhile. That evening she, Ron and Harry were all hanging out in the common room when Jimmy Peaks came up to them and handed Harry a roll of parchment.
"Hey it's from Dumbledore!" Harry said enthusiastically. "He wants me to go to his office as quick as I can," he said looking at the two of them.
"Blimey," whispered Ron. "You don't reckon- He hasn't found-"
"Better go and see hadn't I!" Harry said running out of the common room before Hermione even had a chance to say something.
She turned to look at Ron, who she now saw had the same worried expression on his face that she had.
How much longer was he going to remain the stubborn fool that he was! It had been two long weeks since he and Hermione had spoken. It had been all his fault. He had been in a terrible mood these past few weeks. He knew it was coming, but how could he explain that to her. The Dark Lord had told Draco that he had until the end of the school year to complete his mission. Which meant that Severus would have promises to fulfil soon.
Why had he even agreed to any of it? And why had he gotten cross at the only person that was always on his side? It was probably better this way. She would have eventually never wanted to speak to him again, might as well be for something juvenile. He was lying to himself, and he knew it. If he even had the slightest chance of patching things up with her he would. Even if the friendship did only last a few days.
What on earth had happened to him. Never had he spent so much time thinking about one person. He loved her, that's why. He cringed at even thinking the word, but it was true. He loved her and there was nothing he could do to change it. He had spent the last few months denying it. But after the surge of jealousy he had felt when he thought she and that idiot Weasley had gotten together, he knew there was no point in denying it. He knew that it was impossible for her to have similar feelings for him, just being near her was enough for him.
Suddenly, Severus' office door opened. His eyes widened as he saw Professor Flitwick come running in screaming, "Death Eaters! Death Eaters in the castle! Severus come quick!" Before Filius had time to catch his breath Severus had stunned him. At least this way he could guarantee one less death tonight. This was it, the moment that he had been dreading for almost a year now. A lump formed in his throat as he realized that he might never see Hermione again, never be able to apologize to her.
As Severus ran outside something moving in his periphery caught his attention. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Hermione. Glancing behind her he saw that the Lovegood girl was there as well. Quickly he said, "Flitwick fainted I'm on my way to help the others. Look after him, but don't leave my office in case you bump into someone you shouldn't."
The Lovegood girl reacted accordingly, rushing in to help her Professor. Hermione on the other hand never taking her eyes off him said, "I'll be in, in a moment Luna." And closed the door to give them privacy.
As soon as the door was closed Severus spat, "Hermione, I'm sorry, I should have never said any of those things, surely you know I didn't-"
"Severus! We don't have time for this!" Hermione said annoyed that he was wasting their precious time together. "I don't know what's going on, Malfoy somehow figured out how to get Death Eaters in, so whatever he's planning to do he's going to do it tonight. Dumbledore and Harry are gone."
"What do you mean they're gone? Where have they gone!" Severus demanded.
"Im not sure, Harry didn't say."
"But I assume you know what they are doing." Severus said with a growl."How long will they be gone?"
"They could be back already, they left hours ago."
"I must go, before it's too late," Severus said cryptically. "Stay here. I won't be able to concentrate if I think you're out in the middle of everything."
"When will I see you again?" Hermione said, attempting to swallow the lump in her throat.
"Im not sure. I don't think you will want to see me after tonight," Severus replied.
"That's not true." Hermione said, tears beginning to well up.
"You don't know of what you speak." Severus ground out, frustrated.
"Will it be weeks? Months?" Hermione said helplessly, ignoring his words from before. "What about the anti-venom, we never got to finish it. Promise me Severus. Promise me you will do everything to complete it." She said walking up to him.
"I promise." Severus said, in a barely audible whisper.
"I may never see you again." Hermione's lip began to quiver then.
"I cannot guarantee any outcome at this point." Looking into her eyes he uttered one word, for that was all he was able to speak confidently. "Goodbye."
He turned, not able to look at her anymore. But after only two steps he felt her hand grab his arm, turning him to face her. Before he had time to register what she was doing, she was kissing him. Kissing him like no one had ever kissed him, he felt helpless to her touch. He didn't care that they were in the middle of a hallway. One that a Death Eater might come down at any moment. All he cared about at that moment was Hermione. He groaned as he felt her tug on his hair. When had her hands even gotten into his hair? He thought idly. How did she even know to do that?
After what felt like a decade she stepped away from him. Looking down into her eyes he could see that they were full of tears. "Goodbye," she said in a gentle whisper, trying to hold herself together, as she gave him one more swift kiss.
Without saying another word he ran. If he had stayed even a moment longer his legs might have lost the ability to move. She had kissed him. But no, now was not the time to be thinking about such things. He needed to concentrate on the tasks that lay ahead.
End of Book Six