Hermione woke with a start. Her heart hammered in her chest and she whipped her head around the room. Benign cottage trappings stared back at her. She balled the quilt in her fist as she tried to ease the overwhelming anxiety building inside her.
Where am I? Who am I?
She breathed raggedly for several seconds before logic superseded panic. She repeated a litany of facts to calm herself. I am Hermione Granger. I am a medical student. I love reading and the scent of fresh cut grass… I am trapped in a cabin, in the middle of the Scottish highlands, with a man who wiped my memories as a child… using… magic.
The panic was overwhelming and a sob escaped her throat. Hermione rolled over onto her side and curled her legs up into a ball next to her chest. Cries shook her body as she once more lost control of her reasoning. The image of Severus standing over her, cruel smile in place, as he waved his stick—wand—and trapped her in never ending darkness, played repeatedly in her mind. There was no escape.
Severus leaned against the door of Hermione's rooms. Her cries washed over him and he could do nothing for her. The best he could manage was putting her in her room where she could not hurt herself while she rode out the attack. It was his fault. He had damaged her. He had taken her past and left her broken. Then like an unwitting fool, he had dredged it back up and reopened the wound.
What kind of monster am I?
It had become readily apparent that he could do nothing but destroy. Perhaps it would be best if he left her now. The plow would be around in a day or two and then she would be back with her family, where she belonged. He could slip off and never bother her again.
You cannot even do that for her, you coward.
He balled his hand into a fist. If he were any kind of man, he would leave now before he damaged her further, but he could not. As if an invisible thread bound them together, he knew he could not leave her, not like this. Not after everything she had done for him.
Reluctantly, he recalled the previous night. How he had held her and she seemed eased by it. Though the idea of physical intimacy was repellent to him, he knew what he had to do.
His hand found the doorknob and he turned it. Her terrified cries slapped him in the face, a cruel reminder of the damage he had unknowingly done. Once more, the thought that he had no idea who he was and what he had done overwhelmed him.
He stopped at the foot of her bed. She lay curled in a tight ball as if to protect herself from harm. He reached out a hand to touch her but quickly withdrew it. How did one go about comforting another person? The concept felt alien to him. He should be quick about it before she saw him and really lost control.
Severus sank down on the edge of the bed. She took no notice of him as he reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. She stiffened as his touch but otherwise seemed unaware of his presence.
There was no immediate change so he changed tact. He would need a more aggressive approach. He sighed heavily. I cannot believe I am even considering this. Her terrified shrieks proved the argument irrelevant however. He eased further on the bed and lied down beside her. He could feel the rapid rise and fall of her breath and hear the frightened pace of her beating heart. Though every cell in his body opposed the notion, he wrapped his arm around her. Her entire body went rigid before easing into him, forming with his. He loathed admitting how right it felt.
Her breathing steadied and her heartbeat dulled to a regular rhythm until he was certain she had calmed.
It felt necessary to say something, anything really, but what could he say? Sorry I took away your memories and ironically have no recollection of it. His mouth twisted at the thought.
The sweet scent of her hair filled his nostrils and she wriggled her backside into him. HHHe took a deep breath and suppressed his body's inconvenient reactions.
How can she go from stark raving mad one moment to docile the next?
She had though, the attack seemed to have passed and she was sleep. He pulled away and attempted to leave.
She pulled his arm around her as if to wrap up in him. "Don't," she muttered.
He sighed and eased back onto the bed. It was going to be a long night.
She dreamed of clouds and a large bed with a quilt big enough for two. She felt safe and secure. Hermione's eyes fluttered open and light shifted through the shutters to fall on her sleep heavy eyes. She wriggled and her hip bumped something solid. She turned her head very slowly to the side. Severus lied beside her. She jumped from bed and skittered back towards the wall.
She choked on a scream unable to escape. She watched him lying there. Helpless. Harmless.
Just like the day I found him.
Her heart raced for a moment but the attack had subsided and she was once more in a right state of mind. Unfortunately, her temporary madness had ceased and left her with the full realization that she had been sleeping in the same bed as Severus. A hot blush crept up her neck and Hermione turned away to look out the crack in the window.
Severus stirred and Hermione felt the burning blush intensify.
"What are you doing?" He asked in a contemptuous tone. She almost smiled to hear his prickly voice but the image of him and his—whatever it was—looming over her halted her smile. Just because he had comforted her and slept in the same bed as her did not change the fact that he was the reason for her nightmares.
"We need to talk," she said ignoring his questions. She would need to say this now before she cracked up entirely.
"It would appear that way." He stood and stalked over to the door. He seemed unruffled by the fact that they had woken in such an intimate position. "I'll let you freshen up, then meet me in the living room."
"Sure." She squeaked. The fire in her had diminished and she could not even bring herself to look at him.
She listened as the door swung open and he strode down the hall. She let out the breath she had been holding before going over to the bed. She sat down, and stared at the place where Severus had lied next to her. She remembered snatches of her panic, but most clearly she could remember how the same man that caused her nightmares had been her sole comfort, again.
I have gone mad. She sighed.
A few minutes later, Hermione joined Severus in the living room. He sat staring into the dying embers of a fire. Hermione internally fussed thinking to head out to gather more wood to build up the fire. He looked up at her and his dark gaze captured her. She changed her mind and walked over to the sofa across from him.
He did not speak right away but merely watched her as if assessing.
She chose to speak first. "What do you have to do with my childhood, what were you doing that day and what did you do to me?"
He slid his gaze over her and back to the fireplace. "I don't know."
"That's not good enough, and you know it. Severus, you looked into my mind and extracted things years of therapy only scratched the surface of. Who are you? What are you…?"
He was silent for a long while.
"Severus, please, I want to trust you."
"Don't you think I want to know myself? Don't you think I would love to be able to make sense out of all of this? You are a selfish girl. Have you already forgotten how you found me? It's not all about you, Ms. Granger."
The comment stung but it was something she had begun to expect from Severus. Has it really only been a couple of days?
Her eyes flickered to the coffee table where his—wand—or whatever it was lied seemingly harmless.
She stood and leaned over the table but did not touch it.
"I have theories, you used this—" she motioned to the wand. "To take my memories away. It seems daft but I think it was magic. I mean, I saw myself doing things that defy logic. That day when I gave Billy buckteeth. I was thinking, if only he had buckteeth, he wouldn't make fun of me… and then it happened. And you showed up." Her eyes flickered up towards him.
"Are you suggesting we're magicians?"
Hermione retracted her hand and then drug her nails across her scalp. "I don't know. All I know is what you did to me… earlier. It defies everything I know and if magic is real… then this may be a wand. And if it's a wand and I am… some sort of magician, then maybe I can use to extract your memories the way you did to me."
He stared at the tabletop, seemingly in thought. Hermione kneeled beside it. It was quite possibly the daftest plan she had ever concocted, but she was desperate to know more and maybe… just maybe if she could help Severus recall his memories she could prove what had happened that day was an accident… I do not want to believe he is bad.
"And what if you drive me insane?" he asked. Had it been anyone else, the question would have seemed comical, but this was Severus and she knew he was serious.
She swallowed hard. "It's up to you, is it worth the risk to get your memories back?"
He glared at her and then looked back at the wand.
"I don't know if 'me' is someone I want to be," he said it so quietly, Hermione was not sure she should respond.
"It's up to you."
He folded his hands on his lap. "Let's do it, but if anything goes wrong. I want you to end it."
He did not elaborate and Hermione was afraid to ask him to clarify.
She placed her hands on the table, one of each side of the wand. "Should I just grab it?"
"That would be a good place to start."
Hermione took a deep breath and grasped the smooth shaft. Tingles shot up and down her arm. There was a familiar feeling, a sense of right.
"Before, we made eye contact."
Hermione met his gaze. Nothing.
"Maybe I'm doing it wrong? Did you think something or do something?"
"That's all I did."
She was starting to feel discouraged. Had all the hype been for nothing? Perhaps it had been a coincidence. How could they have shared the vision?
"I know maybe I'm supposed to wave it or something." She did so as she spoke and sparks flashed out the end of the wand, pinks, purples and greens filled the room like a tiny firework display. Hermione dropped the wand, which fell to the table with a clatter.
"Not the desired effect—"
An engine backfired—but that was impossible they were in the middle of nowhere— Hermione Jumped to her feet, as did Severus. She was making her way to the window, when a voice stopped her.
"Subject Q.586720, you are in breach of ministry code: Alpha, Zeta, seven-thousand and eight dash ten, you are hereby to be extracted from the muggle world and taken into ministry custody." Hermione twirled around, a woman with a severe bun and square glasses stood in the doorway.
"How did you get in here who are you?"
The woman did not seem to notice her.
"Severus? What are you doing here? They said… I thought…"
"Severus, do you know this woman?"
Severus stared at the woman, not speaking, just staring as if he was trying to work out a word problem.
"Subject Q.586720, stand down or I'll be forced to subdue you with force."
"You know me?" Severus asked.
"Of course, Sir, you're head of the false-magic suppression unit."
Severus' expression twisted as if he had a stomachache. "You don't remember… Potter… of course. I'll need to subdue the girl and then transport you to St. Mungo's."
"You'll do no such thing!" Hermione shouted. "Severus, what's going—"
She did not get the chance to finish because the woman raised her wand and shouted, "Stupefy."
Hermione saw Severus's face swim in her vision before everything went black once more.
A/N: Dear readers, thank you for your amazing feedback and love. I enjoy everyone's speculation and commentary it's one of the things I love most about writing fanfiction. I'm absolutely floored by the amount of people reading this story and reviewing. I cannot think of any story I have written before that had nearly 100 reviews by chapter ten. And seeing as this is chapter ten I'd be absolutely amazed if we could hit 100! So feel free to review. The more I get the more motivated I am and maybe with proper motivation I can crank out the next chapter before next weekend. ;) That's all for now darlings.