"ALBUS?! What do you mean you've taken care of it? How could you possibly be trying to condone two members of the staff attacking a student?" Poppy had followed him back to her office and was looking at him like he had just said he proposed marriage to Fluffy.
"I am not trying to condone anything, I am- "
"Albus-" Poppy tried to cut him off but he merely continued.
"-merely passing along permission."
"P-per-permission? For what? From whom? Albus start making sense before I have to admit myself as a patient." The poor matron collapse down into her chair, trying to rub the ache out of her head. This was turning out to be one confusing day back at school.
"Being Headmaster of the school, I told Molly Weasley of the incident involving her children. Hermione means just as much to her as she does to the rest of us. She's on her way here now and said that Minerva can start the party without her. She just didn't anticipate Severus starting it a little earlier." Poppy was quiet for a moment, simply staring at her desk, her hands clasped loosely together.
"... Her own son." She looked up at the gray man. "Why?"
"Hermione. She means quite a bit to a lot of people. To you, Poppy. I find myself surprised that you're not in there with them." The medi-witch looked down once more.
"To be honest I am too. In the beginning I would have been. When he first came in here I was so angry with him. I was proud of what the other Weasley siblings and Harry did as a punishment, but I didn't feel as though it was enough. Hermione does mean the world to me, but the more I've thought about it the more I know that I couldn't knowingly hurt a patient under my care. I-"
"Where is he?!" A loud, slightly angry, voice hurridly cut Poppy off. Albus gave her a pat on the hand and a small smile.
"That would be Molly." With a shake of his head the old headmaster made his way into the next room, not entirely sure of what he would find.
The pounding rain had let up and returned once more to a pleasant drizzle. Hermione was curled up into Severus, feeling quite comfortable and rather satisfied. He had an arm wrapped around her, the other gently stroking her soaking wet hair. Despite the rain clouds, some of the stars were starting to become visible again, and the two were content to simply gaze upon them. Content or not, Hermione's brain was buzzing with questions- questions that she felt warented breaking the silence.
"I know that this is a dream." She tilted her head back to look at him. "I know that you're a dream." He just looked at her, patiently waiting for her to continue. "Do you know that you're a dream?"
He nodded his head. "Yes." It was the first time he spoke. Hermione found herself surprised that he sounded just the same as he did when she was awake.
"Why are you here?" She didn't know any other way to put it other than bluntly. Being in this dream was the most normal she felt in a long time, and she wanted it to stay that way. But she needed answers, and he was her only option. He sat up, turning her around on his lap so she didn't have to keep craning her neck. By now they hardly noticed the rain, still present, still falling slowly. He kissed her before speaking.
"You tell me. It's your dream."
Hermione had never thought of it like that. She never thought that her Potions Professor decided to just waltz in and invade her dream, but she never thought that this was all something that she had created. It certainly wasn't the first time that she had dreamt of Severus Snape, and it probably wasn't going to be the last. However, this was the first time that she had dreamt of him being, well, loving. She tried thinking back to before she feel asleep. Had she fallen asleep? She didn't remember lying down with the intentions to sleep. She didn't remember much, it was all rather fuzzy. She remembered being quite confused about something, and she remembered Harry and the twins acting strangely. Ron, where was Ron? He wasn't a frequent visitor in these blurry memories.
"You're making your head hurt." He shook his head with a slight smile on his lips. "For someone as brilliant as you, I had thought that it wouldn't be this difficult." He pulled her close to him, placing a kiss atop her head. "Do you really need me to spell it out for you?" He could feel her shake her head 'Yes' against his chest.
A loud roll of thunder started up again before he began. "I make you feel safe Hermione, don't I?"
"Yes." Her answer was quiet, though filled with certainty.
"Do you know why that is?" He stroked her hair in time with the rain, taking extra care to keep her calm and relaxed.
"No, I don't." Hermione burrowed into him, as if the physical movement would rearrange her thoughts. "But I do know that the night I spent with you was amazing, and that you mean a great deal to me, even if I don't mean that much to you."
"That's where you're wrong, my dear." She pulled back abruptly, locking her eyes with his.
"What do you-"
"Your body has gone through some intense physical ordeals these last few days, as has your soul. Let us say that things did not happen as they should, and your body temporarily shut down to help with the healing process." Her eyes widened with every word, amazed at what he was saying. "I am here for two reasons, only one of which I may share with you. I am here to help and protect you, as I always will. Your subconscious knows that you are more than comfortable with me, so I was the form it took to support you through this."
"You realize that very little of this is making sense." She gave him a small smirk, proud that she had caught the rare chance to one-up the great Severus Snape.
"Yes, I do. But that is also for two reasons. One, because technically I am not entirely me right now, I am you. I have been created out of your subconscious." Hermione blushed at this remark, although she was unsure why. "The second reason is because you need to speak with the real me when you wake up, which should be any moment."
"So, the 'awake' Severus will make more sense?"
"Yes, but you'll need to trust him."
"I always trust him." 'Dream Severus' smiled.
"I know." Hermione could see the outer edges of her vision start to darken. "Relax Hermione." His arms closed tighter around her as her eyes shut. "Wake up."
There was shouting. So much shouting. And screaming. She didn't understand. It sounded like she was underwater, and she could only make out a few words.
"Back off... It's my turn... I'm going to kill him..." The insults and arguing continued. All were different voices, all seemed focused on the same thing. A loud bang rang out, feeling like it shattered Hermione's eardrums. Everything stopped and silence fell.
Finally, she heard, "I think he's had enough." Footsteps started moving towards her, but the underwater sound got louder and louder.
Hermione's mind faded to black.
When she woke up next, the room was silent, and she was finally able to open her eyes. Her head was spinning with confusion, images and sounds spiralling around in her brain that hardly made any sense to her. It was dark, but she understood she was in the hospital wing.
Hermione stayed there, staring at the ceiling, until everything slowed down and stopped spinning. Turning her head, she was puzzled, but not very surprised, at who she saw.
Severus Snape was relaxed back into a chair, on the brink of sleep. His eyes were closed, but somehow she knew he was still awake. Hermione shifted in bed, trying to get more comfortable. The sound of the sheets must have alerted his brain, and he practically jumped out of his chair. His eyes looked tired, and he seemed almost weary of Hermione.
"Hi." It came out a bit raspy, much she couldn't think of what else to say.
"How are you feeling?" He was quiet, and kept to his chair until Hermione tried to sit up. He came over to help her, keeping an appropriate distance. Hermione settled down and he moved to sit at the foot of the bed.
"I'm not sure." Severus gave her a puzzled look. "Nothing hurts, if that's what you're getting at." She didn't really look at him, and silence stretched on. Finally he moved a bit closer, raising her head to look at him.
"Perhaps I should rephrase. How are you thinking?" He looked afraid of her reaction to the rather blunt question.
She looked at him. "I'm confused. I don't know what about, exactly. I just feel like one giant mass of questions and confusion and jumbled up images that don't make any sense." It felt good to tell someone this, but she looked away when she said, "I'm scared."
I was quiet for awhile again. They could hear a distant beat of owl wings. It must have been minutes before he spoke.
"Do you trust me?" Hermione's head shot up.
"I can help clear things up for you, but only if you trust me." Hermione thought back to her strange dream and the words Dream Severus had spoken. Looking at the real one now, his eyes held nothing but sincerity. She nodded her head.
"Good." His voice was still quiet, but he moved closer. "Give me your hands." He took her hands and placed them at his temples. He could feel them shaking. Moving closer to her, he said, "Try and relax. It will be alright." He placed his hands on her temples and touched his forehead to hers. Severus heard her breathing pick up at his close proximity, and he knew he'd give anything to kiss her. But he didn't, he needed to stay on task. If all went well, he'd be able to do much more than just kiss her.
"Are you ready?" She took a deep breath and nodded. Within milliseconds they were connected.
He showed her everything. The fall, their kiss, carrying her to the Hospital Wing, her injuries, even her own memories of the incident with Ron. He paused after the memories of the first night, still inside her mind, trying to see if she was holding up well. He could feel her shaking, but continued anyway. He showed her the following day, acting so strangely, showed her yelling at him. Finally, he showed her his discussion with Dumbledore… well, he showed her parts of it. He wove the memory in a way that would explain what happened to her medically, but completely left out anything having to do with Dumbledore's "love spell". Severus wasn't exactly sure what Albus had used on him yet, and he didn't want to confuse Hermione even more. He especially didn't want her to think his affections artificial, either.
When all was shown and explained, he pulled out of her mind, unsure of her reaction. Hermione was still shaking, looking back and forth between herself and Severus. She struggled to speak.
"I… I don't."
"It's okay. I'm here." Her eyes shot to his, tears at the edge of her vision. She practically dove for his arms. Severus sat there, perfectly content holding her. He had done the right thing. All he wanted was for her to be okay.
Hermione couldn't believe it. Seeing his memories had returned her own, and that included the emotions attached to them. She had had a concussion and had acted like a total airhead, yet he didn't seem to mind. Things after seemed alright, but the whole two days just had her emotions in a mess. Her dream from earlier didn't help things either. She had thought that she only had physical feelings for him. 'Apparently not.' Both her actions and the dream, and the farther back she though, her talk with Ginny even, all spoke differently. There was no denying that she had strong feelings for her Potions Professor. And it would appear that he felt the same. 'But why?'
Severus was completely oblivious to Hermione's inner struggle. He was just happy to have her in his arms. Stroking her hair, he thought about where things would go from here. He wondered if she would be open to a real relationship. He hoped she would. Even if she wasn't, he was content with whatever she would give. He could feel her body relaxing and let her lay back onto the bed. His slide his hand down to hers, grateful when her hand closed around his. He smiled. She spoke.
"So… us?" He laughed.
"What about us?"
"What.. are… we?" She struggled with how to word it, not entirely sure if she wanted to have this conversation now. He squeezed her hand.
"At the moment, I don't think either of us knows the answer to that question. It's a conversation for another time. For now, I just want to make sure you're healthy." He kissed her forehead, not wanting to move too quickly for her. "You had a strange reaction to all of those potions. You're physically healed, but magically you still have a bit to go. You should get some sleep." He stood to leave but stopped at her voice.
"We will talk though, right?" She sounded so uncertain, so scared. He lent down, brushing his lips over hers.
"Of course." He got to the dividing curtains before he said, "Please get some rest." Even more quietly he said, "I don't want anything to happen to you." With one last glance, he was gone.
A/N: I'm trying to clear up all of the confusing bits in this chapter, although the more I read it, the more I feel like I did a poor job with it. If there's something you want changed or explained cleared, let me know.
If you'd like to understand my strange five and a half month absence, check my author page. I've explained everything there, and I hope you all can forgive me.