Siobhan sighed as she ran a hand through her massive brown curls as she read her daughter's most recent letter. Almost in depth of a novel, Siobhan feared for young Hermione's safety once again. The sixteen-year-old was studying at a secret school with an undisclosed location where she felt the war of a different world getting entirely too close to home. She knew the young girl had felt an obligation to disclose certain details about the wizarding world's war, but was convinced the "reassuring padding" which took up have the letter was all bull-shit.

She told her so in her reply as she demanded her daughter come back home at once.

The crisp azure sky was unspotted by clouds as golden rays steamed through the small openings of the giant oaks branches. The girl watched in simple delight as the branches danced in the light spring breeze. It was relaxing to sit in the peace and quiet, something she had been having much less of as of late.

Hermione Granger laid on her back watching the branches above her dance as she felt the soft grass soothe what skin of hers was bared. Taking in the soothing scent of the wild flowers and grass growing in the small court yard with a deep and long breath, she found an appreciation for the therapeutic qualities nature possessed.

She felt bad, telling her closest friends that she opted out of the weekend in Hogsmade to "study" for the upcoming exams, she had planned to, but instead she found herself with a well-loved book of Tennyson poetry abandoned beside her along with the romance novel she had been so engrossed with just minutes ago. Hermione had read Mort d'Arthur enough times to think she had it memorized, but she felt her heart beating at an accelerated rate whenever she opened the book.

But now the Phantom, the Lady of Shallot and the war waging that affected all those so close to her were set aside in order for her to enjoy the calm dance of the oak branches.

"Are you awake, Miss Granger?" a soft baritone voice asked her, coming from absolutely no where.

Jarred from her serenity the girl glanced up to look at the tall, pale man with a dark expression peering down at her. She snapped into a sitting position, collecting her sentimental books into her lap with in a manner of seconds, adding an icy glare to stare into the recesses of the man's soul.

"I was merely relaxing, sir," she spoke as she adjusted herself once again to stand. "Before I go is there something you wanted of me, Professor?"

Severus looked down at the child who seemed to disapprove of his very presence. It was odd how much this girl disturbed him, her deep brown eyes shooting daggers at him, as if she were preparing to defend herself. He knew why he wasn't welcome by most students, and if she wasn't sleeping then she was pretty lost in thought, looking so serene.

"I was passing by when I saw you laying beneath the tree," he sighed with clear exasperation. "I thought you may have passed out. Clearly my concern was wasted on an ingrate. I'll leave you be, Miss Granger. I do hope I don't come upon you passed out, I'd be inclined to respect your wishes and leave you there."

Severus turned around to walk away from the over-presumptuous girl when her voice called out from behind him, making him turn around.

"I-I didn't know..." the girl looked down as she fiddled with a thin silver bracelet. "Sorry, Professor. I hope I haven't offended you."

Severus folded his arms across his chest and glowered at the girl's newly apologetic face. She seemed sincere enough in her apology that he was willing to let her miserable attitude slide. "Maybe you shouldn't leap to assume I'm here to give you trouble. That'll be five points from Gryffindor. I'm sure your friends would be very pleased."

"I'm sure they will..." she sighed gathering her messenger-style bag from the stone bench on which it sat, shoving her two books into the over-stuffed bag.

"I never said you have to leave, Miss Granger."

"I maybe a little presumptuous while saying this, so bear with me, sir..."

"Me, think you presumptuous?" he said, words dripping with sarcasm.

"It seems odd you would be just passing by a part of the castle barely frequented. The very reason I come here, sir." She slung her bag over her shoulder and looked respectfully in his eyes. "I come here to be alone, I imagine you have as well. I'll be off, sir."

He watched her walk away as her bushy hair swayed with her robes, walking more rapidly than usual while trying to appear as if she was walking away at a normal pace. For whatever reason, it bothered him how uncomfortable this particular annoyance of a student was with him.

It's probably no more than pity for the damned thing. He sighed sitting on the stone bench under the tree which Granger once laid. Looking down he found a loose piece of parchment with writing scrawled on it laying precariously in the grass.

He gingerly picked it up, wondering if he should even bother, she probably wouldn't miss it. Despite his typical reserved behaviour, his curiosity got the better of him and he began to read the chicken scratch he knew to be her writing.


I'm not going back home just yet. You were fine with me attending in the first place. I don't plan on leaving until I am finished school. Remember how much you insisted I finish school since the time I started?

I'm still needed here, and I can't very well sit safe at home while my friends are out here. And for heaven's sake! I am safe here, I promise you, no harm will come to me. Yes, I understand I just told you that I am needed and in several letters I depict the war going on over here, but I merely work on the defensive. I assure you no harm will come to me, Momma.



PS don't you DARE call bull-shit on anything I say in my letters, if I say I'm safe, damn it, I'm safe!

"If only you were..." he sighed as he folded the note and placed it in his robes, and he set out to find Granger.

He found the girl in the library, sitting at one of the tables by the west window, peering studiously over several volumes sprawled out over the table. She chewed on a quill pensively as she pointed her finger to pages on the different books.

Hermione Granger looked so intense as the sun set behind her in the picture window, bathing her in gold, red and orange light, highlighting strands of her riotous hair, and leaving her intense eyes in soft shadow. Something seemed so different, he couldn't tell what though. He stared at her pensively until she took an inopportune moment to look up from her study.

Hermione raised her head when she heard footsteps approaching her, knowing it would be around the time Harry and Ron would return from Hogsmade. But instead she saw the professor who she left hours ago, staring at her, she locked eyes with him, trying to see through his unreadable eyes. Perhaps he was reluctant to bring her bad news...

Little did either of them know what lie ahead for them.