Summary: A time travel story. When fifth-year Severus Snape tries to create a forward time-travelling philter to prove his worthiness to Lord Voldemort, he is disappointed to find that his creation is worthless. Or is it?
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and fictional places do not belong to me; I am merely borrowing them for playtime before (respectfully) putting them back. Thank you, JKR, for allowing such things to happen.
Pairings/Main Characters Hermione Granger and Severus Snape, the other Severus Snape. A cast of other canon characters and couple of OFCs as well.
Warnings: This story is rated NC-17/MA, and it is not suitable for children under age 18. It is Alternate Universe, and includes strong language, lemons (graphic sex), violence and mention of violence/torture, unresolved sexual tension, and major character death.
Thank You: To the village that has raised this baby over the course of several chapters: Roo, Tom Without, Allee, Lauren, Nathaniel Cardeau and ThornedHuntress. Additional thanks to my current amazing "Team Tyche," who have listened to me bounce ideas and have cleaned up my writing, making this story so, so much more than it would have been otherwise: Dragoon811, BSC_AG, AdelaideArcher and Stgulik.
A thousand further thank yous to the extremely talented SusanMarieR, who created the official banner and cover art for this piece.
Chapter Ten: (In which the two Severii bond and Hermione makes a request)
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, 26 June 1996, 1:15 PM
Four days after the Hogwarts Express had removed the vast majority of the castle's population, Severus entered the potions classroom with enough force that the door actually banged against the opposite wall. The sound made him jump slightly and caused the professor to look up from the table he was working at, with an annoyed expression.
"Must you behave like such an adolescent?"
Severus stared at him with amused incredulity.
"Don't respond to that." The professor's lip curled caustically and he returned to his work, ignoring Severus once more.
Severus meandered over, interested, dropping his book bag onto a random table on the way. "What are you making? Something interesting?"
The professor gave him a harassed look and snorted softly. "Hardly. One of the anti-inflammatory potions Madam Pomfrey has Miss Granger on. Here. Make yourself useful, if you're going to be in here. And stop talking so much." He drew a mortar across the table in Severus' direction and motioned to continue grinding.
The sound of the marble scraping against the granite work table was comforting in an odd way and Severus happily took up the pestle and began to obliterate the dehydrated vampire teeth. After a moment, "You know, I've often wondered why dehydrated vampire teeth were used in so many anti-inflammatories. You'd think it would be the opposite, with the anticoagulant properties. They're too expensive for me to experiment with, though, and the potions books I've found don't explain why, only that they're needed."
The Potions Master looked up at his younger self and arched an annoyed eyebrow.
Severus ducked his head. "Sorry. Of course you knew about that. So what is the answer?"
The professor was quiet for a moment. Severus waited, recognizing the signs of when he was counting. He hated it when people tried to talk to him while he was counting stirs. The professor got to his forty-second stir without incident and responded. "It isn't the teeth themselves; it's the reaction they have with the dragon blood."
Severus thought about it for a minute and then nodded when it suddenly became clear. "That makes sense. I knew that the blood was the reason why you have to turn the heat down, but I never thought about how it would react with the teeth. That's why you need doxy wings, too!" Severus realised, pausing for a moment.
The professor was nodding slightly.
Severus knit his brows. "There has to be a better way to bond them though. Doxy wings and dragon blood is a horribly acidic combination. If you stabilised it with an attractant instead..." Severus trailed off, muttering under his breath.
The professor actually had a small smile curling the edges of his mouth as he nodded now. Severus felt himself smile in return, realising that his older self had already worked out the same problem, and Severus was now on the correct train of thought.
"Rose petals?" He guessed.
A slight head shake.
"Ashwinder eggs, even frozen, would only make it worse," Severus thought aloud. "Too reactive. There's already dragon blood. Though I suppose," Severus continued, "if you removed the dragon blood and used the eggs to react with the teeth and to stabilise the base..." He thought a moment more, staring sightlessly into his mortar where the vampire teeth were rapidly becoming a fine powder. "The potion would be more stable, but I just don't think it would work as well."
His elder self pursed his lips and calmly added turmeric to his caldron, waiting.
Severus groaned suddenly, realising. "Moonstone." He shook his head. "I feel like an idiot. Bolsters the blood, bonds with the teeth. Wouldn't gum it all up the way Veela tears would."
The professor actually smiled more broadly and nodded toward a small jar to the side of his cauldron. Already knowing what he would find, Severus lifted the lid and mentally congratulated himself in satisfaction at the sight of the iridescent white dust within.
"That isn't all, of course. Otherwise it would have been done a long time ago. Moonstone stabilises nicely, and bonds well with the teeth, but not as evenly with the blood. It tends to make the potion break too early in the heat. You have to also use a bit of honey and stir a lot more often and vigorously."*
"Honey? Really? I never thought of that."
"Sweetens it, too."
"Huh. She'll be glad of that, I suppose."
His elder self snorted. "I doubt she's known anything else. It's standard for Hogwarts potions."
Oh. Of course. There was a slightly awkward pause, and Severus fiddled with a particularly stubborn chunk of tooth that kept escaping from his pestle.
"So she's been whining about her potions and hospital stay, has she?" The question was rather artfully disinterested and slightly scathing. Severus knew that tone. His older self was very much interested in the answer—and just as interested in keeping that interest discreet. It was something for him to think about, later. Why the professor would be interested in the thoughts and moods of a student he clearly disliked was a mystery that would certainly be worth knowing the answer to.
In the meantime however, the professor was still waiting for an answer, and Severus would rather not let on that he had recognised that there was an actual question behind the question. He wouldn't be able to respond in kind—if he had noticed the tactic in the professor, the older man would surely recognise it in him.
Severus considered the Gryffindor girl for a moment, trying to decide how to answer. The truth was she had been: she was an awful patient. They had taken to playing various games in the evening, but until today she had been on bed rest and getting more unbearable to be around by the day. She had also seemed to be spending more and more time in her own head, as if working on an arithmantic equation she was unwilling to share.
Severus finally settled on answering by changing the topic slightly. "She seems to think her predicament would have been easier to fix the Muggle way. You know, cutting her open and removing the offending organ entirely instead of healing it."
The professor's expression didn't change, but he clearly saw right through the ploy, and responded dryly, "An hour or so operation, a week or so recovering instead of three, is that it?"
"Except of course, the Muggle doctor wouldn't be able to use any of his fancy equipment around her," he reminded his younger self, scathingly. "The only reason we were able to get our arm set was because we were too young for our magic to properly interfere with the Muggle equipment. She spends summers at home; you would think she would know better." He shook his head. There was silence for a long moment, then, "You've been spending...a great deal of time with her."
Severus looked back at him cautiously. The last thing he wanted to do was set the professor off again. They seemed to be finally getting along and he was damned scary at thirty-six. He was rather looking forward to having that sort of presence, but until he perfected it, the receiving end was less than pleasant. "She's been...decent, and I don't think she's faking it. Like Giselle, but less poetry. I think less manipulation too, but I'm not…I'm still not sure I completely trust her."
The professor snorted. "She's a Gryffindor. That should tell you all you need to know." He suited action to his earlier words, and set the stirring rod to a brisk pace.
Severus shrugged again and gave the contents of his mortar a dubious look. "This doesn't look like enough for the size batch you're making." Many potions were adaptable if one knew what one was doing, but the teeth were not something that could be shorted in an anti-inflammatory.
The professor swore softly and glanced quickly toward the mortar that Severus tipped in his direction.
"I usually only need four, but the jar I ordered seems to have smaller teeth than usual. I was hoping that the usual number would be enough, but I'm not surprised it isn't. Grab another; they're in the back on the third shelf."
"You've rearranged the cupboard."
"There isn't a professional lab, shop or apothecary in the world that stores components alphabetically. Convenience and tolerance of idiots is no reason to neglect teaching proper classification."
Severus nodded as he headed for the cupboard. He had often had the exact thought in school. It would be interesting, learning potions from himself. He would be an imminently trustworthy source to learn from. The older Severus would understood his methodology and meticulousness in a way no-one else could; his integrity to the art of it and not just slapping components together.
I wonder if he will be easier on me as a student or more exacting because I am him? Severus mused as he hunted for the teeth. He had to search for a moment before he found them; even knowing proper classifications he was still used to this particular cupboard being improperly ordered.
Not to mention, it still wasn't properly ordered. It had started out that way at one point, clearly, but over the last year the students had wreaked havoc on it. Maybe he should slip in here at some point and fix it? Without even realizing he was doing it, he absently moved a jar of distilled witch hazel oil back to its proper place and slid it further back on the shelf.
He actually missed the classroom door opening and was only alerted to the fact that he and the professor had been joined by his elder's disinterested and caustic voice.
"I doubt Madam Pomfrey would consider traipsing down the stairs and into my classroom to be 'properly resting,' Miss Granger."
Severus glanced at the open cupboard door between himself and the classroom with surprise. Was she looking for him? He didn't think she would be actively seeking out the professor, after all.
"No, sir." Her voice sounded a little tired. "I'm sure you are correct, but I-I had some questions for you, if I may?"
The professor grimaced. "I am not going to tell you how to manipulate my younger self or tell you stories of my childhood or whatever it is you want, Miss Granger."
"I'm not here about—!" She heaved an audible sigh and began again, the emotions in her voice clearly in tight reign. "I would like to know about some spells, sir. Please? It's important." Her voice wavered at first, but firmed as she went on.
The only indication that the man heard her was the slightest arching of a dark brow, but Severus couldn't help but feel that his older self was surprised by her statement. He continued to ignore her for a moment and then answered dismissively, "I am not your charms teacher, Miss Granger."
"No. You aren't. But you were teaching Harry Occlumency, earlier this year, sir. Professor Dumbledore had you teaching Harry; not himself, and not Professor Flitwick. Which means you must be very skilled at it. I don't believe Professor Dumbledore would leave something so important to someone less able than he is."
"As I recall, Potter failed to listen. That is how you idiots got into the mess at the Ministry. " He seemed almost angry now, dumping another measured component into his cauldron with almost violent bangs as he rapped it against the side. "I suppose you want me to teach you Occlumency now?" His scathing sneer informed her exactly how unlikely that was.
"No. Well, yes, I do. It would be a very handy skill to have, especially since you're supposed to be so good at it, but I honestly wasn't looking for lessons... not in that."
"Then what is it, Miss Granger?" His annoyance had seeped into his voice now and the glare he gave her would have had most men cowering, Severus wagered.
Hermione stammered for a moment and then tilted her chin, stubbornly, and responded. "Memory charms, sir."
"Memory charms." His voice had gone back to unreadable.
"Yes, Professor." She took a deep breath, her curls shaking slightly. "Sir, you are the most qualified person I can think of to ask; memory charms are not like duelling or household conveniences. They are more akin to Occlumency and Legilimency than anything else."
"You believe I will teach you memory charms? Those are illegal, Miss Granger." His voice was a menacing silken whisper. "I highly suggest you leave now. You wouldn't want to give the wrong impression."
Hermione ignored his statement and sat down at one of the tables in front of him, sighing a little. "Sir, you are aware of the dangers that my family could be unwittingly facing right now, given my…position here in the magical world. I would like to learn a memory charm to send them to a safe place. Their knowledge isn't valuable if it isn't there." Her expression was sad. "I would not normally push you this far, but this…it's too important. Please, sir? I know I don't really have any resources of use to you, but if there is something I can trade or do?"
The professor's face twisted cynically. "Be careful what you say. That could be taken entirely inappropriately," he ground out derisively.
She looked confused for a moment, then horrified embarrassment stole over her cheeks in a dark red flush. "I didn't mean…sir, I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to offer—"
"I am aware." He cut her off, the disdain on the professor's face more apparent than Severus thought was strictly true. Curiouser and curiouser. The line from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland flitted through his head and Severus found himself wondering again just what the older man's true opinion and motivation toward Hermione was.
The professor studied her for a long moment. "Here is what I will offer, Miss Granger," he said, his expression closed. "You tell me what your intentions are toward my younger self and I may answer your questions."
"My…my intentions?" She seemed confused.
"Your intentions." He made a show of peering into the marble mortar and Severus was abruptly reminded that the potion would likely be ruined without the teeth he currently held. Shit. The professor abruptly turned toward the storeroom, leaving Hermione gaping at the table. Once he was within, he gave his teenaged self a measured stare, and held out his palm.
Severus hunched further behind the door, completely obliterating his view of the girl. He handed the older man the jar he had collected and silently prayed, to whatever higher power there might be, that she wouldn't confess to using him. He knew it was probably inevitable, and tried to ruthlessly squash his hopes, but all the same, he couldn't help but clench a fistful of his robes tightly.
Hermione's voice was angry as the man returned with his jar. "Professor, I'm not an idiot. His bag's on the table."
"You are an idiot. Someone more intelligent would have pretended and said what the boy wanted to hear so that you could get your answers."
"You're not an idiot, sir, and we've just discussed your proficiency in matters of the mind. Pretending any sort of ignorance around you would be idiocy." She countered.
"Quite." The professor's soft voice carried a soft edge, and the slightest hint of pleased amusement. "Atreus?"
Awkwardly, Severus emerged from the storeroom, his eyes darting between the professor and the girl. She had as good as admitted that she had an agenda. Otherwise why would she call what he "wanted to hear" a pretence? It shouldn't have hurt. It really shouldn't have, because he honestly did know better than to think someone would just want to be his friend. It stung a little anyway.
"Alright. Now that both of you are out in the open and none of us is trying to deceive anyone else," Hermione started, "I have been keeping company with Severus for a variety of reasons. First, because I am intrigued to know what you were like at my age." She turned her gaze to Severus and locked eyes with him.
"Second, we have intelligent and amusing conversation. It's not always whinging or about Quidditch, or asking me for homework favours." Her eyes turned back to the professor and finished. "Lastly, we're fighting a war and could use all the help we can get. I would rather he was on our side because he wants to be, not because he wants to be on the opposite side of Voldemort."
"What if my stipulation for teaching you how to protect your family was staying away from him?"
Well. That was certainly direct. Not that her answer would really matter. If she truly wished to be his friend there were ways, regardless of deals. Not to mention enforcement, once she had what she wanted, would draw far too much attention to him for the professor's liking. The question itself was ridiculous.
To his surprise, she didn't point any of this out however, and instead said, "I…I would do so." She gave Severus an apologetic look. "I like you, really, I do. But…it's my parents' lives. I would do far worse and more hurtful things to friends I've had longer to ensure their safety, and that of those dependent on their knowledge staying secret. I hope…I hope you understand?"
The professor snorted and lifted a brow at Severus. "See what I mean? Gryffindors are hopeless—the lot of them."
Severus tipped his head in accession, but responded, "Still, it's the correct answer if one were to take as read."
"I can't believe I was ever as impossibly naïve as you are." The professor shook his head, frowning.
"Correct answer?" Hermione's voice rose slightly. "Is this really some sort of game to you both?"
"She's terrible at chess, too. This wasn't so bad a showing, actually." Severus goaded, ignoring her to speak directly to his older self.
The faintest hint of amusement entered the older man's eyes again. "I know." His expression closed again, and turned back toward the girl, who was looking angrier and angrier by the second. "Miss Granger, you will come here at four o'clock each afternoon for the remainder of your stay at Hogwarts, and we will discuss the theory of mental guards and charms."
A/N: *Honey will not in any way help keep your soups and sauces from breaking. I made that up entirely. The vigorous stirring, however, will.
Thank you all for your incredible patience and for sticking with me; it's been one thing after another with me.
I am currently without a final beta/Brit-Picker for this chapter, as my usual one has been unavailable lately, and all mistakes are entirely my own. I did not want to wait any longer to post, however, as you have all been kept waiting for quite a while already! I am going to be looking for someone to take over the final beta/BP position, and it will hopefully not take long to find a good fit. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to read-please review. :-) -Tyche