Hello everyone – as you could probably tell from the title, this is only the first part of PoA, since the chapter was getting rather too long ...
Also, some people (I'm looking at you here, Nymma!) asked which my favourite book was and I would have to say either 3 or 7 :) Simply because I thought they were strongest in plot – the intricacies of the 3 and the way everything is revealed in 7 ... ohhh, Goosebumps!
Plus, what do people think of the new title and summary? Any suggestions of how I can change it to attract more readers?
Special shout outs to BlondeBlueEyedDreamer, Cerayln, Whenthesnowments and Nymma – your reviews were extra special and really made me smile! Also, GinnyWhetherby, I hope I can continue to live up to your expectations!
Enjoy, everyone :)
"Damn it, Albus - how could this have happened?" Severus Snape demanded. Having thrown down the newspaper, he was now pacing furiously in front of the Headmaster's desk. The old man was surprisingly calm, taking the time to smooth the creases out of the newspaper before he perused the article, since the young Professor had stalked all the way up to his office with the paper clenched tightly in his fist. He frowned a little as he read, his half-moon spectacles slipping slightly down his crooked nose.
"It is a most unfortunate turn of events, to be sure," Albus said eventually, laying the newspaper flat on his desk.
"Most unfortunate?" Snape repeated scathingly, his mouth twisting bitterly. "Frankly, after the year we just had with the damned Chamber of Secrets, the only thing worse than an escape convict would be the Dark Lord himself rising -"
He stopped himself, noticing how thoughtful Dumbledore looked. Not alarmed or surprised in the slightest.
"You knew about Black's escape already, didn't you?" he surmised, scowling.
"The Minister came himself last night to inform me of the events," Dumbledore said, folding his hands together on the desk.
"And you didn't think to tell me?" Snape snarled.
Albus raised an eyebrow. "You specifically told me at dinner yesterday that you would be brewing a complex potion to show to your sixth-years when they return in September and you were not to be disturbed," he said frankly. "Besides, I wanted to think over the Ministers request."
"He has asked that I allow a host of Dementors to guard the school."
"Why?" Snape said, momentarily surprised out of his ire – Hogwarts was already one of the safest places in Britain ... three-headed dogs, murderous basilisks and a forbidden forest full of deadly creatures aside.
"Can you think of no reason?"
He expelled a long sigh and finally seated himself in the chair in front of Albus' desk. "Potter," he said wearily.
"Precisely," Dumbledore agreed, turning his attention back to the article.
"You think Black has broken out to finish what he started?" Snape asked, his hands unconsciously clenching on the armrests of the chair. That murdering bastard ... he thought, briefly transported into his own dark memories.
"Alas, we cannot know what Sirius Black is thinking," the Headmaster said sadly.
He narrowed his eyes at the old man. "You almost sound like you pity him," he said bitterly.
"I do pity him. I wonder how such a charismatic, charming young man could have done something so evil ..."
Snape made a very inelegant noise of disgust that Dumbledore chose to ignore.
Sirius Black had come from an obscenely wealthy, old family - one that was obsessed with the purity of blood and the subjugation of those they considered inferior. He knew for a fact that the younger brother, Regulus, had been a Death Eater. Though Sirius Black had been in Gryffindor and had associated with muggle-borns, he had proved himself capable of murder at the age of sixteen – a bloody spy, integrating himself with them from the very start.
Really, it was a wonder anyone had not spotted him as the traitor within the Order.
And now he had escaped – Snape's fingers twitched sporadically, envisioning himself being the one to catch Black. The Ministry had offered a handsome reward but he didn't care about the money. He had spent little of his savings and so possessed more than enough for a comfortable lifetime; he had added over twenty years of teaching salary to the trust his Prince grandparents had left him, leaving him with a rather large amount in his Gringotts vault.
No, he wanted revenge.
"Now then," the Headmaster said, pulling him out if his reverie."Was there anything else you wished to speak to me about?"
Snape's black eyes flickered upwards and he straightened from his brooding slouch. "The Defence position."
"I see," Dumbledore said with the tiniest hint of weariness in his voice. "You are submitting another application?"
He gave the Headmaster a long, cool look. He had repeatedly applied for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position since arriving at Hogwarts and was always turned down in favour of incompetent idiots who didn't know one end of a wand from the other – literally, in one case, since Lockhart had managed to modify his own memory.
It was rather beginning to grate on his nerves.
"Well, I have one other applicant to interview for the post and I shall let you know immediately once I have made my decision," Dumbledore said.
"Who else has applied?" he asked, raising an eyebrow – people were beginning to whisper that the job was cursed, and consequently there hadn't been a rush of people willing to put their names forward in recent years.
There was a quiet, polite knock on the office door.
"I do believe you are about to find out," Dumbledore said, and then raised his voice slightly. "Come in, Remus."
It had been nearly fifteen years since Snape had seen the man at the door, yet he recognised him instantly. Time hadn't been kind to him; he looked tired, thin and his robes were ragged. There were grey streaks in his sandy hair and shadows under his eyes.
What was Albus thinking, allowing this man to apply for a job just hours after Sirius Black had escaped – he was not only a werewolf, but a bloody marauder.
"Sn – I mean, Severus, what are you doing here?" Lupin asked, looking rather surprised as he hovered in the doorway.
Snape turned back to Dumbledore with a furious scowl, ignoring Lupin completely.
"Albus," he said in a deadly whisper. "You can't possibly be serious."
Hermione waited anxiously by the living room window, looking out onto the street. The letter Professor McGonagall had sent her the day before, requesting permission to visit her in order to discuss her timetable, was clenched tight in her fist. The Professor was due to come at eleven o'clock; she was vividly reminded of a similar morning just over two years ago, when she had waited for Professor Snape to take her to Diagon Alley.
Finally, the clock struck eleven. Between one of the chimes she heard the unmistakable crack of apparition – a few seconds later the doorbell rang.
She ran to the door and smiled at her Head of House, noticing that Professor McGonagall looked rather odd in a muggle dress and coat.
"Good morning, Professor. Won't you come in?" she said, smiling brightly.
"Thank you, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall said, stepping over the threshold and pausing to remove her coat. Hermione led her Professor through to the lounge and gestured for her to take a seat. Hermione's mother came bustling out of the kitchen to introduce herself, and within a few minutes Professor McGonagall had been supplied with tea and sugar-free biscuits.
"I'll get straight to the point, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall said after her mother had returned to the kitchen, settling back in the same chair Professor Snape had once sat in. "I want to discuss your timetable for the coming year with you. I had planned to talk to you about this last term, but due to unforeseen circumstances -" she paused and sniffed a little; Hermione knew she was referring to herself being petrified by a basilisk for most of the summer term. "- I was unable to broach the topic with you."
"What exactly is the problem, Professor?" Hermione asked.
McGonagall drew a folded sheet of parchment from a pocket and consulted it. "You have applied to study every single elective Hogwarts offers," she said. "Miss Granger, there simply aren't enough hours in the day."
"I'm going to have to drop a subject?" she said, utterly crestfallen.
"Unfortunately, yes," she said. "Miss Granger, why do you feel the need to take up Muggle Studies? Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you are Muggle-born."
"But it would be so fascinating to study the Wizarding point of view!" she said eagerly.
"What about Divination?" Professor McGonagall asked briskly. "It is a very imprecise form of magic, not one I could imagine you enjoying, Miss Granger."
"I'm sure a lot of it is guesswork," she admitted. "But I thought that the idea of true seers was so fascinating. I would like to study it, if possible – I'd like to study all of the subjects," she added despondently.
"Hmm," Professor McGonagall said, eying her speculatively. "Well if you are adamant about that, then there may be a way ..."
A week into the new term, Snape sat behind his desk, marking the essays he had assigned over the summer; he had set his third-years the task of researching the different properties of Shrinking potions over the holidays in preparation of making the potion itself.
After a firm lecture on the different varieties of the potion and running through the method with them, he had set them all to work. The students had been preparing their ingredients for a few minutes when Draco walked in late, his arm still bandaged from the incident in Care of Magical Creatures.
"Settle down, settle down" he said idly from his desk, since several of the Slytherin girls were simpering over Draco and the Gryffindors were muttering mutinously, no doubt because he would have docked fifty points if one of them had walked in late.
Well, he had to make allowances, Draco was injured after all.
Steadily working his way through the pile of essays, he reached Hermione Grangers work. He flipped it over, measuring it with his eyes – it had to be at least half a foot over the prescribed length, despite her miniscule handwriting. Apparently she had learned how to use footnotes in the holidays, something he had never seen in a third year essay. There was even a bibliography.
Her essays were steadily becoming a form of war between them – he would write biting comments on how to improve them, and she would constantly strive to achieve perfection.
He glanced up at her, sitting next to Longbottom whist preparing her ingredients with a focused expression. Despite all his best efforts on the contrary, he now managed to find her ... tolerable. For a student, at least. She may be a Gryffindor and a member of the Golden Trio to boot, but she was clever; her work was engaging to read and she was a fair potion-maker, evidenced last year when she had made a flawless batch of polyjuice potion.
He laid her essay flat on the desk and inked up his quill.
While he had been marking her work (looking his hardest for something to criticize) Malfoy had set up his cauldron on the same table as Potter and Weasley. His drawling voice rang out across the dungeon. "Sir, sir, I'll need help cutting up these daisy roots because of my arm -"
"Weasley, cut up Malfoy's roots for him," he replied, not looking up from Hermione's introduction – she had started with an intriguing comparison to the properties of Aging potions and made a reference Castoll's theory on strengthening Shrinking potions. Interesting.
He had just reached her first paragraph when Malfoy's voice pierced the silence once more. "Professor, Weasley's mutilating my roots, sir."
Suppressing a sigh, he left the essay on his desk and approached their table. Weasley looked guiltily up at him, his knife poised over the roots he had just mauled. Next to him was a small pile of roots that he had obviously spent a lot of time carefully slicing.
Snape smiled unpleasantly. "Change roots with Malfoy, Weasley."
"But sir -!" he interrupted, aghast.
"Now," he said, purposefully making his voice dangerous and silky.
Weasley mutinously shoved his roots across the table and took up the knife once more. The tips of his ears had turned red; it was rather amusing to watch really.
"And sir," Malfoy said, his voice full of laughter, "I'll need this Shrivelfig skinned."
"Potter, you can skin Malfoy's Shrivelfig for him," he said, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling he felt when the boy's green eyes flashed indigently.
Leaving the boys to their bickering, he stalked around the classroom, checking the student's progress on their potions. Most of them looked to be at least adequate, though several had failed spectacularly. Parkinson was scowling at the sludgy mess in her cauldron and Crabbe was stirring a potion with the consistency of porridge with an apprehensive look on his gormless face. Even though they would both get poor marks for today's assignment, he didn't call attention their mistakes the way he would have done to humiliate a Gryffindor (there were benefits to being a Head of House, after all).
Turning his gaze to the other side of the classroom, his eyes fell on an easy target. He walked slowly up behind Longbottom, who was haphazardly trying to skin his Shrivelfig. Sensing his presence, the boy froze in fear as he looked down his nose at the appalling potion.
"Orange, Longbottom," he said in a quiet voice that still carried across the classroom. Picking up a ladle, he scooped some of the potion and allowed it to splash back down into the cauldron. "Orange. Tell me, boy, does anything penetrate that thick skull of yours?" he said, having explained the entire process to the class at the start of the lesson. "Didn't you hear me say, quite clearly, that only one rat spleen was needed? Didn't I state plainly that a dash of leech juice would suffice? What do I have to do to make you understand, Longbottom?"
He was interrupted from his glare by a voice piping up beside him. "Please sir," Hermione said, her head tilted beseechingly to one side. "Please, I could help Neville put it right -"
"I don't remember asking you to show off, Miss Granger," he snapped – correcting the potion at this stage would have involved a rather complex combination of temperature modification and the addition of several other ingredients to counteract the effects of the excess leech juice Longbottom had added. Not impossible by any means, but should have been far beyond the ability's of a third-year.
"Longbottom, at the end of the lesson we will feed a few drops of this potion to your toad and see what happens. Perhaps that will encourage you to do it properly," he said coldly. Malicious, yes, but he knew the potion wouldn't actually kill the toad. Besides, Longbottom was a hazard in the classroom and needed to learn.
The rest of the lesson passed without any further incident, though he kept an eye on Malfoy, who seemed to be saying something that aggravated Potter and Weasley. A few minutes before the bell he stalked over to Longbottom, who was cowering fearfully beside his cauldron.
"Everyone gather round and watch what happens to Longbottom's toad," he said, amused by the contrasting looks of fear and anticipation on the students faces. "If he has managed to produce a Shrinking Solution, it will shrink to a tadpole. If, as I don't doubt, he has done it wrong, his toad is likely to be poisoned."
Turning to the cauldron, he was briefly surprised to see the potion was now green. There were only two people in the classroom who would have managed to correct the potion and one of them was himself. He glanced up at Hermione as he dipped a small spoon into the cauldron; there was an expression of determined innocence on her face.
A few moments after he had dripped the potion down the toads throat, he had a small tadpole wriggling in the palm of his hand. The Gryffindors burst into applause, and he heard Hermione sigh in relief.
"Ten points from Gryffindor," he said sourly, silencing the applause. He glared at Hermione with mingled feelings of irritation and highly-reluctant pride – it was devious of her, to go behind his back like that. Honestly, the girl would have made a fine Slytherin. "I told you not to help him, Miss Granger. Class dismissed."
Every single student left the classroom grumbling, the Gryffindors over the 'unfair' point dismissal and the Slytherins over the lucky escape Longbottom's toad had. He waited until they had all left and then followed them out of the classroom, locking and warding the doors behind him.
Heading away from the babble of the students climbing the stairs to the Entrance Hall, he walked down the corridor towards his office – and then abruptly stopped as he saw something that was not only completely unexpected, but was also completely impossible.
Hermione Granger, fiddling with something around her neck before fading away without a trace.
Hermione dashed down a narrow, hardly used stone staircase after Ancient Runes had finished. She needed to get back to the dungeons quickly, since Harry and Ron would get suspicious if she simply vanished. Her use of the Time-Turner and running between classes had given her a rather detailed knowledge of the schools corridors and hundreds of staircases. This damp passage would lead her straight passed the little alcove near the Potions classroom she had used for travelling back in time, then she could catch up with the boys and get some lunch.
Darting around a corner, she stopped with a gasp as she saw a stupefied Professor Snape staring into the little alcove. He spun around as he heard her footsteps and she saw his jaw drop – a small part of her mind was amused since she had never seen him look so surprised, but a much larger part was worried about the trouble she might get into.
"How the hell did you do that?" he demanded, looking between the alcove and herself.
"Sir?" she said, still out of breath.
"You were there," he snapped, pointing at the alcove, "then you just vanished."
He approached her with slow, deliberate footsteps. She was unable to move, feeling like a doe caught in the headlights of a car. "And then," he continued, "you appear from the other end of the corridor." He loomed over her, his arms folded against his chest. "I want an explanation, now."
"I don't know what you're -"
"Do not take me for a fool, Miss Granger," he hissed.
"Sir, really, there's nothing -"
She flinched instinctively as his hand shot out, dipping briefly into the collar of her shirt - she felt his cool fingers brush her neck and he pulled out the Time-Turner.
"You were using this," he said in a soft, deadly voice. His black eyes were fixed on the little hourglass, the chain hooked over a single, pale finger. "Now tell me exactly what it is, otherwise we will go straight to Professor McGonagall."
Hermione bit her lip, unnerved by her Professor's proximity and the way that the chain he held was digging slightly into her throat. "Professor McGonagall was the one who gave it to me, sir."
He raised a single eyebrow, waiting for her to elaborate.
"It's a Time-Turner, sir," she said. "I'm taking quite a few subjects this year, so I'm using it to get to my lessons. Essentially, it allows me to be in two places at once."
"A Time-Turner?" he repeated, looking at the hourglass with a new intensity, a hungry expression on his face. "How far can you go back?"
"Only a day at the most," she told him.
His face fell slightly, before becoming the cold mask she was used too. He released the chain, letting the Time-Turner fall back against her robes. "Go rejoin your friends, Miss Granger," he said, his voice emotionless.
She hesitated, and he frowned at her. "I suggest you hurry, they will be waiting for you," he said, jerking his chin towards the stairs, where she could hear the babble of her classmates ascending from their Potions lesson.
With a final glance at Professor Snape, she jogged down the corridor. Hurrying up the stairs, she tucked the Time-Turner back down the front of her robes with one hand, the other hand holding tightly onto her bulging bag.
She was out of breath by the time she reached Harry and Ron, who were looking at her in confusion. "How did you do that?" Ron asked as she drew level with them.
"One minute you were right behind us, and next moment, you're at the bottom of the stairs again," Ron said.
"What?" Hermione repeated, faking confusion. Seeing that the boys probably wouldn't let this go, she invented an excuse on the spot. "Oh – I had to go back for something," she said, hefting her bag over one shoulder.
She heard the rip of fabric tearing. "Oh, no ..." she muttered, examining the burst seam on her bag. Bending down, she started taking out books to repair the bag and magically fix the seam.
"Why are you carrying all these around?" Ron asked, looking down at her bag with mild horror.
"You know how many subjects I'm taking," she said, still breathless from running up the stairs. "Couldn't hold these for me, could you?"
Ron shuffled the pile of books she had thrust into his hands, looking at the covers. "But you haven't got any of these subjects today. It's only Defence Against the Dark Arts this afternoon."
"Oh, yes," Hermione said vaguely, repacking her bag – the boys may only have Defence, but she had double Arithmancy that afternoon. On top of a morning of double Potions and Ancient Runes, with no break or chance to grab some food in-between the lessons. "I hope there's something good for lunch, I'm starving."
Snape stared after Hermione's retreating figure, watching as she tucked the Time-Turner back into her robes. She was in possession of one of the most powerful magical tools known to Wizarding kind, and she was using it to get to her lessons.
He believed her when she had said it would only take a person back one day, but the concept of time-travel itself was supposed to just be a theory. The Ministry must have been working on Time-Turners secretly for decades – and if they had the ability to create something to take a person back one day, then why not a week, or months ... or years, even?
The sheer potential for such a device was staggering; with the knowledge of the future, one could go back and change the past to suit their whims. He could change everything. He could save her.
But speculation was fruitless, of course.
He found himself outside the staffroom, not having noticed where his wandering feet were taking him. Several teachers were sitting on faded sofas, gossiping happily. They gave him a surprised look when he came in, but didn't try to approach him – he was not known for inhabiting the staffroom, preferring the privacy of his rooms, office and lab.
Wordlessly, he made his way to a darkened corner of the room, sinking into an armchair with his eyes fixed wearily on the wardrobe at the end of the room. The wardrobe rattled, as if sensing his gaze. There was a Boggart inside, and Lupin had requested that the staff leave it be so that he could give a practical lesson. He knew that the Boggart was the reason why his feet had unconsciously led him here during his speculations about changing the past.
He whiled away the lunch hour in brooding silence, an ignored cup of rapidly cooling Earl Grey tea perched precariously on the arm of the chair. Eventually, the bell rang and the teachers deserted the staffroom, leaving him on his own. He had a free period for the next hour, and so was in no hurry to leave.
Waiting until the door had snapped shut, he got cautiously to his feet and approached the wardrobe. He smoothed a hand over the wood, feeling the grain beneath his skin. He then allowed his fingers to encircle the handle, his other hand dipping into his pocket to loosely grasp his wand.
He remained frozen in that position, internally debating whether or not to open the door. He didn't need a Boggart to recognise his worst fear, having already lived through it; but perversely, his worst fear was his greatest desire – was he prepared to hear her voice accusing murderer if it meant he would see her face once more, outside of the black and white photos that were packed away in a box at Spinners End?
But it wouldn't be her face – it would be an echo, a ghost ... the face of a corpse.
With a great effort, he wrenched his hand off the doorknob and sunk back into the low armchair, holding his head in his hands. He looked up as he heard a babble of voices outside the staffroom door which suddenly burst open as the Gryffindor third-years flooded in, followed by a vaguely smiling Lupin.
Realising that this was to be the practical lesson Lupin had told them about, Snape got to his feet. "Leave it open, Lupin. I'd rather not witness this," he said bitingly, striding across the room. Acutely aware that if he had decided to open the wardrobe the class would have walked in on him, he was feeling particularly malicious as he reached the door. Turning on his heel, he addressed them once more, "Possibly no one's warned you, Lupin, but this class contains Neville Longbottom. I would advise you not to entrust him with anything difficult. Not unless Miss Granger is hissing instructions in his ear."
His gaze lingered on Hermione as he finished – it was her fault that he was feeling so maudlin today, obsessing over the past. Her and that damn Time-Turner.
"I was hoping that Neville would assist me with the first stage of the operation," Lupin said mildly, having raised his eyebrows in faint surprise. "And I am sure he will perform it admirably."
Snape smirked as he closed the door with a snap, imagining Longbottom facing a Boggart. Whatever the boy's greatest fear was, it was sure to be amusing.
"Pepper Imps," Snape growled moodily to the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore's office. He stomped up the staircase and hammered twice on the door.
"Come in," Dumbledore said pleasantly, smiling when the door banged open and the young Professor stalked into his office like an angry black cloud. "Ah Severus, thank you for coming."
"I know what you are going to ask, Albus and the answer is no," Snape said without any preamble, standing in front of the desk with his arms folded and a scowl plastered firmly on his face.
"But I thought you wanted to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts," Dumbledore said mildly, peering up at the towering Professor through his half-moon spectacles.
"I wanted to have the post for myself, not cover lessons when Lupin is PMS-ing," he snarled.
"Really Severus, you know that Professor Lupin is not suffering from PMS," Dumbledore said severely, his eyes twinkling. "The politically correct term for his condition is -"
"I know what the politically-correct term is," he snapped, rolling his eyes. "But my answer still stands – no. Isn't it enough that I have to brew that damned potion for him? Do you have any idea how complicated Wolfsbane is to brew?"
"Unfortunately you don't have any choice in the matter, my dear boy," Albus said. "School policy states that if a teacher has a valid reason for being unable to teach a lesson, then any other Professor who is free at the time must take the class." Dumbledore peered over the tops of his spectacles. "The only Professor's who have a free period Thursday afternoons are you and Professor Trelawney."
Snape's face twisted. "Trelawney could -"
"Don't be ridiculous, Severus," Dumbledore interrupted. "I suggest you start planning a lesson."
"Where's Harry?" Hermione whispered to Ron, having caught up with him in the queue of students outside the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom; she had spent her lunchtime in the library doing some work.
"Oliver Wood caught him again," Ron said, shrugging. Since it had been announced that Hufflepuff would be playing in the upcoming Quidditch match instead of Slytherin, the Gryffindor Captain had constantly been giving Harry tips and advice on how they would have to vary their tactics.
"Oliver should keep him so long," Hermione tsked disapprovingly, unable to comprehend the boy's obsession with Quidditch. "He's going to be late for the lesson."
At that moment, the classroom door opened to reveal Professor Snape – the class instantly silenced under his furious gaze.
"In," he said sternly, pointing at the classroom.
They trickled into the classroom, each of them surreptitiously trying to get the seats closest to the back as possible. Snape closed the door with an ominous snap and stalked to the front of the class, his black robes billowing behind him.
The class sat in fearful silence as he opened the register and took his time inking up the quill. Everyone wanted to know where Professor Lupin was, but it seemed that no one wanted to be the one to ask.
Snape took the register, pausing to smirk maliciously when he reached Harry's name and no one answered. He then closed the register and looked down his nose at all of them. "Since Professor Lupin has left no indication of the work -"
He was interrupted by the sudden sound of footsteps running up the corridor outside. The classroom door burst open and Harry practically fell inside, gasping for breath. "Sorry I'm late, Professor Lupin, I -"
Snape gave Harry a look of lazy contempt. "This lesson started ten minutes ago, Potter, so I think we will make it ten points from Gryffindor. Sit down."
"Where's Professor Lupin?" Harry asked, not moving – the entire class watched the confrontation, eager for an answer.
"He says he is feeling too ill to teach today," Snape said with silky menace, a twisted smile on his face. "I believe I told you to sit down?"
Harry stayed where he was, ignoring Hermione as she motioned for him to sit down – Snape seemed to be in a foul mood, so it wouldn't do for them to give him any more reasons to dock points from Gryffindor.
"What's wrong with him?" Harry asked, the tiniest hint of accusation in his voice; Hermione could guess what was running through his mind, since Harry had told them about the potion Professor Snape had brewed Lupin while they were in Hogsmeade.
"Nothing life-threatening," Snape said, looking as though he wished it was. "Five more points from Gryffindor, and if I have to ask you again, it will be fifty."
Harry wisely chose to sit down. Snape looked around the class.
"As I was saying before Potter interrupted, Professor Lupin has not left any record of the topics you have covered so far -"
"Please sir," Hermione interrupted, half raising her hand. "We've done Boggarts, Red Caps, Kappas and Grindylows," she said quickly, trying to be helpful. "And we're just about to start -"
"Be quiet," Snape snapped coldly at her. "I did not ask for information. I was merely commenting on Professor Lupin's lack of organisation."
"He's the best Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher we've ever had," Dean said boldly, to the general murmured agreement of the class.
"You are easily satisfied," Snape said coolly. "Lupin is hardly over-taxing you – I would expect first years to be able to deal with Red Caps and Grindylows. Today we shall discuss -"
The class watched him flick to the very back of the textbook, which he must have known they hadn't covered.
"-werewolves," Snape finished, smirking.
"But sir," Hermione said, unable to restrain herself, "we're not due to start werewolves yet, we're due to start Hinkypunks -"
"Miss Granger, I was under the impression that I was taking this class, not you," Snape intoned slowly in a voice of deadly calm, piercing her with his black gaze. His eyes released her and he looked around the classroom. "And I am telling you all to turn to page three hundred and ninety-four." No one moved. "All of you! Now!"
The class complied bitterly, several of them muttering sullenly.
"Which of you can tell me how we distinguish between the werewolf and the true wolf?" Snape asked of the class.
Hermione's hand instinctively shot into the air.
"Anyone?" Snape said with a smirk, ignoring her quivering hand. "Are you telling me that Professor Lupin hasn't even taught you the basic distinction between -"
"We told you," Parvati interrupted bravely, "we haven't got as far as werewolves yet, we're still on -"
"Silence!" Snape hissed venomously, making the class flinch back. "Well, well, well, I never thought I'd meet a third year class who wouldn't even recognise a werewolf if they saw one. I shall make a point of informing Professor Dumbledore how very behind you all are ..."
"Please sir," Hermione said, determined to show him that they weren't behind. "The werewolf differs from the true wolf in several small ways. The snout of the werewolf -"
"That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger," Snape said, his voice was cool, but his dark eyes were smouldering in anger as they held hers. "Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know-it-all."
Hermione felt herself go red and she slowly lowered her hand, trying her best to fight the overwhelming urge to cry. Nearly everyone in the entire class had called her a know-it-all, but she had always taken it as a sort-of compliment. Somehow, it was a thousand times worse hearing it from Professor Snape's mouth.
A single tear escaped down her cheek – she thought she saw Snape's eyes flicker briefly, possibly with regret, when Ron burst out loudly from beside her, "You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you didn't want to be told?"
Whatever emotion had flashed in his eyes was once again concealed behind a cold mask as Professor Snape slowly advanced on their table. "Detention Weasley," he said silkily. "And if I ever hear you criticise the way I teach a class again, you will be very sorry indeed."
He glanced once more at Hermione, his expression inscrutable, before turning on his heel and walking back to the front of the class. He instructed them to take notes from the textbook. No one spoke again throughout the entire lesson, and Snape did not look at Hermione again.
Severus Snape was patrolling the school the evening after the fateful Quidditch game; the aftermath of games were often the rowdier nights of the school year, students creeping to other common-rooms to congratulate the winning House and join the victory party, or students sneaking away from common-room parties for a little privacy. He had already caught three couples in the corridors and had to escort an inebriated Professor Spout, Head of Hufflepuff House, back to her rooms since she had elatedly joined the students' celebrations.
He couldn't really blame her, since Hufflepuff House rarely had much cause for celebration – they hadn't won the Quidditch Cup in eleven years, or the House cup in thirteen. Nevertheless, he was thin-lipped in disapproval as the plump witch staggered along behind him, alternately going on about Hufflepuff glory or bewailing 'poor, young Harry' in the Hospital Wing after the fall he had taken from his broomstick.
Having left the Professor at the doors of her rooms, he continued his patrol of the school, knowing that sleep wouldn't come easy that night – Potter hadn't been the only one affected by the Dementors at the Quidditch match. The wave of despair they bought had been followed by the echoes of begging, pleading, screaming in his head, the ghosts of his darker days. He knew there would be nightmares tonight.
It was nearly four in the morning and the school was quiet and empty. The Hufflepuff party had wound down and it seemed all the students had gone to bed. He paced the school, looking out of the windows as he passed them. The storm had cleared, leaving the skies dark, clear and full of stars. In the light of the moon that was just beginning to wane from full, he could see the remnants of several branches scattered across the grassy grounds from the forest, tossed there in the high winds.
As he glanced out of a window overlooking a small courtyard he noticed something odd – a wall of the library was directly opposite and the windows were all dark, except for one which held a faint glow, as if a candle was lit behind it.
Making his way around the courtyard to the library doors, he was surprised to find them locked, with no evidence of someone having forced them open. Tapping the door with his wand, he unlocked them and entered the library. He didn't light his wand, not wanting to alert whoever was out of bed to his presence. Remembering where he had seen the light, he made his way along the darkened shelves until he reached a small table covered in books and scrolls.
Hermione Granger was slumped over the table, fast asleep with her head resting in an open book. Her wand was lit and resting on the table, its soft illumination the source of the light he had seen in the window. He looked at the books surrounding her – all of them were texts on werewolves, along with a lunar chart. Next to her was a competed essay that he had set them (two rolls of parchment) on how to recognise werewolves.
He observed her as she slept. Her breathes were deep and even, her head pillowed by both the huge book and a small, ink-stained hand beneath her cheek. Her eyelids flickered a little as she dreamed, and he noticed heavy bags beneath them. She obviously wasn't getting enough sleep. Her bushy hair was half covering her face and he felt the strangest urge to push it back – it was an odd feeling, almost ... protective.
Realising he had been staring at her for well over a minute, he internally shook himself. "Miss Granger," he said, his voice coming out quieter than he had intended, hardly above a whisper.
She shifted slightly in her sleep, but didn't wake.
"Miss Granger," he repeated, louder this time. He reached forward and grasped her shoulder, shaking her lightly to wake her.
She blinked her eyes open, peering sleepily at him for a moment. She then jerked upright, obviously realising where she was.
"What time is it?" she asked meekly, rubbing sleep from her eyes. There was a long crease down one cheek from where she had been resting against the book.
"Long past curfew, Miss Granger," he said, folding his arms sternly.
She gave a resigned sigh, "How many points is it to be tonight, Professor?"
He eyed the chair opposite her speculatively, and then sat down – he didn't deduct points, he didn't order her back to the Gryffindor Tower. Instead he joined her at the table. He wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because she sounded so weary, not at all like she did when spouting facts in class. Maybe it was the black smudges under her eyes that told how tired she was. Maybe it was him who was too tired.
"You came here after the match," he said; it wasn't a question.
"I had work to do," she said reluctantly, not looking at him – she obviously didn't like that he had joined her. Her shoulders were hunched defensively and her fingers fiddled with the edge of the essay. He took a peek into her mind and was surprised to see that her dominant emotions – sadness, anger, confusion – were all linked to him.
Insufferable, her mind whispered.
He remembered how he had snapped at her in class. She was angry for allowing herself to be hurt by his comment, and now she was confused as to why he was talking to her and not simply giving her a detention or deducting points.
He tapped a finger sharply on the table to get her full attention. "How many hours do you put in a day, Miss Granger?" he asked.
"Your Time-Turner," he elaborated. "With the extra time you add for classes, how many hours do you do a day?"
She thought for a moment. "Twenty or so, sometimes twenty-one or twenty-two depending on what classes I have."
"And how many hours sleep do you get?" he said, narrowing his eyes at her.
She didn't reply.
"Obviously not enough," he supplied for her, nodding to himself. "You're going to work yourself to exhaustion, Miss Granger and it's not healthy or productive to your studies."
She still didn't respond, avoiding his eyes once more. He thought he saw the faintest hint of a scowl on her face,
"Why do you work so much?" he asked, genuinely curious.
"I hardly think my motives are your concern, Professor," she muttered mutinously at the table.
"Don't be insolent, girl," he reprimanded sharply. "I asked you a question."
"Can I ask you a question, sir?" she said with rather sudden venom, her chin jerking up – her emotions were rolling off her with such force that even an amateur Legimens could have detected them – frustration, hurt, bewilderment – all suddenly bubbling to the surface as if something had snapped.
"Why ... why do you hate me?" she continued, her voice had losing its brief animosity. She now sounded tired and overwrought and very, very young.
"Pardon?" he said, more surprised by her outburst than the question.
She hesitated, and then ploughed on with her question. "I said why do you hate me? I can understand that you didn't want me to be your friend when I was in my first year, but why do you hate me as a student?"
"I don't ... hate you, Miss Granger," he said slowly, the words drawn reluctantly from his mouth.
"You called me know-it-all," she persisted, her eyes sad.
"You are a know-it-all," he retorted. "Take it as a compliment."
She lowered her eyes to the table once more and said in a voice so quiet that he almost missed it, "You said I was ... insufferable."
"I ... regret that."
"Excuse me?" she said, startled into looking up once more.
He took a deep breath, formulating his answer. "I was having a very ... trying day," he said, remembering how frustrated he had been at having to cover Lupin's lesson at the last minute. "Admittedly you were testing my patience with your incessant interrupting, yet perhaps I should not have been so ... short with you."
"You're ... apologising?" she said wonderingly – Snape pulled a face, feeling like he had just swallowed something very sour. That hadn't been an apology – had it?
Hermione shook her head in bemusement. "You confuse me sometimes, Professor. When we first met and you came to my house, you frightened away my bullies and you answered my questions. You were telling me all about magic, and I remember thinking that you were ... well, amazing."
He stared at her, unable to believe she was telling him all this. No student had ever spoken to him like this. Ever. Not in nearly twenty years of teaching.
"And then," she continued, "when you're in the classroom, you're ... well ... I just can't help but wonder ..."
"What, Miss Granger?" he said intently
"Which is the real you?" she asked, ingenuous and curious, looking at him as if he was a puzzle she could solve.
Both, or maybe neither – his mind said. He didn't like this; the closest he came to talking about himself with anyone was Albus and Minerva. Albus knew his worries of old and so didn't need to ask about them, while Minerva never pried deeper than he was willing to tell.
And now Hermione had guilelessly drawn him into a conversation, simply by being frank about her own opinions.
He didn't like this one bit.
"I see you've done the essay," he said in a rather obvious deflection of the conversation, picking up and unrolling the two pieces of parchment next to her.
"Oh, yes," she said, glancing down at the books all around her as if she had only just remembered they were there.
She was worrying her bottom lip with her teeth as he read through her work – detailed, precise and accurate as ever. "I think I know why you set it," she said abruptly while he was midway through reading.
"Do you now?" he replied airily, flipping the parchment to read the other side.
"And ... I don't care," she said firmly.
That made him look up from the essay.
"I've been reading up on werewolves, they have always been penalised." She leant across the table, her eyes wide and beseeching. "You shouldn't hate him for something he can't control, sir."
"I don't hate him for being what he is, Miss Granger," he said bluntly, thrusting the essay back to her unfinished. "I hate him for another reason entirely."
"Why then?" she asked – innocent and curious, not trying to be nosy at all. She didn't realise this was dangerous territory, asking questions about his past – questions he wouldn't answer.
"You should get to bed, Miss Granger," he said barbarously. "Come, I will escort you to the Tower." She blinked in surprise at his sudden brusque tone, but started to gather her books nevertheless.
She followed him silently through the darkened school, neither of them attempting to reinstate their conversation. Most of the portraits they passed were sleeping, though several of them observed the silent pair interestedly. They reached the Fat Lady, who was dozing in her frame, and Hermione turned to him, her books clutched to her chest. "Goodnight, Professor."
He gave her an acknowledging nod and continued down the corridor; he heard her give the password and the Fat Lady berating her for waking her up. As he walked away he realised that he hadn't docked any points at all, despite her being out after curfew. Any other student would have found themselves in detention, even a Slytherin. In the wake of their conversation he had forgotten about her breach of the school rules. Maybe he was losing his touch, he thought. Or maybe he had felt that she didn't deserve the punishment.
He sighed under his breath, deciding to put it down to a combination the Dementor's effect on him earlier and not getting enough sleep the past few nights. He headed towards his quarters, wondering if now he would be tired enough to sleep – and maybe, if he was lucky, too tired for nightmares. Tomorrow was a Sunday, he would be able to sleep in if he wished, and possibly get some brewing done away from the chatter of the dunderheaded students.
As he walked past the windows of the school he didn't notice that the sky had lightened from inky black to deep blue in the east, heralding the signs of the oncoming dawn.
Well that seemed like a good place to stop – especially considering it's not even Christmas yet in Hogwarts!
So you have all the friendships falling apart and the drama at the end of the book in part 2 to look forward to in my next update ... stay tuned :)
I also wish to point out that while this may turn into a romance later on (i.e when Hermione is no longer a student) it is most emphatically NOT a romance at the moment. This is a friendship fic – when he is looking at her in the library it is because he is curious about her, not because there is any attraction on either side.
Question time ... aside from HG/SS who is your favourite non-canon couple and why?
Personally, I kinda like the idea of Ron and Luna ... they would be cool, and they have that cute moment in book 6 where he picks up stuff for her ...
Anyways, Review my Pretties! =D