Chapter 14 - Don't Speak
Hermione stepped through the doorway and watched as his eyes barely glossed over her as she walked in and then snapped back to her, as he realized who was walking into his office.
"Miss Granger," he said, his voice low and unassuming, and was that a catch in his voice that she heard? Or was that just her imagination?
Feeling bold, she stepped up towards her desk, her hand plunging into her bag and withdrawing the small vial of Veritaserum. She placed it on his desk and waited for his reaction…well, for any reaction other than the one that he'd already given her.
Finally, she said, "Professor…I thought that you deserved to have this back. As it was the cause of your….inconvenience."
She didn't trust herself to say anything more, but his eyes caught upon the small vial and his hand reached out and gently lifted it from the desk.
His eyes lifted from the desk and he was suddenly staring straight at her, and she could feel the spark from before. She could feel the spark that had been started more than a week ago, and found that it had not died, the flames of it being fanned just from one look.
Hermione felt as though all the air had just been sucked from the room.
She couldn't breathe.
Instead, she was falling into his eyes, and she knew that she had it bad.
This wasn't a passing crush, or a simple infatuation….it was much deeper than that.
As their gazes were locked, she felt a tightening in her chest, as though a cord were squeezing around her chest and pulling tighter only when she locked eyes with him. She wanted to pull her gaze away but she couldn't. Though the Amortentia was long gone, as was the Veritaserum, and her own potion as well, it didn't seem to make a difference…
…the feelings were still there.
Just strong, just as intense.
She waited for him to say something, but it didn't seem he was going to say anything, either.
It was another waiting game, one she wasn't sure she could stand.
Suddenly, he stood from his chair, causing it to slide sharply across the floor, the legs scraping against the stone.
"Miss Granger," he echoed the words from earlier. His voice was slightly breathless, as though he'd been running, but she knew the sensation came from the same one that she was experiencing at that particular moment.
She licked her lips, nervously.
His eyes seemed to now focus on her mouth, as though invisibly following the trace of her tongue over her lower lip, and Hermione suddenly felt extremely self-conscious.
Almost as though suddenly realizing what his eyes had been doing, he pulled his gaze from her entirely, and turned his body slightly away from her, using his desk between the two of them as a shield to keep himself from doing anything that he just might regret.
"Miss Granger," he repeated a third time, but then gently corrected himself. "Hermione…"
She felt her chest tighten even further, and could hear her blood begin to pound in her ears as he walked around his desk. He twitched his fingers slightly and the door was now locked and warded…and they both became painfully aware of the fact that this was the first time that the two of them had been alone since…the incident.
He was standing less than a foot away from her, but it felt like miles.
She waited for it.
She waited for the scolding tone that would tell her that it would never happen, that their kiss was a mistake.
The best that she could hope for would be a gentle reminder that she was a student and that he was a teacher, as well as the fact that she was his apprentice, and that nothing could come of it. That he was flattered by her attentions, but that it was not possible.
Hermione inwardly braced herself for the inevitable pain, suddenly wondering why she had thought this confrontation a good idea.
He took a step forward and she had to physically restrain herself from taking a step backward in response. He took another calculated step and her heart was no longer pounding in her ears, but thundering, and she could hear nothing else, feeling as though her feet were lead weights, leaving her unable to run away from the situation.
His arm moved forward and she felt a spark down to her center as she felt his hand touch her shoulder.
"Hermione," he repeated in a low tone that had her trembling under his touch, leaving her disoriented.
What was he going to say?
She hadn't prepared herself as well as she thought she had and she was frightened out of her mind as to what might happen.
In a sudden movement, she felt her books being pulled from her arms, from where she'd been holding them protectively against her chest, and then felt two strong arms drawing her forward, one arm going firmly around her shoulders, the other across her back, holding her against his warm chest.
Was he…hugging her? Wait, what was this? What was he…?
"Hermione," he whispered into her ear and she shivered, slowly reacting, her arms hesitantly wrapping around his waist. "I'm so sorry."
She was confused, yet again. What was he sorry for? Why was he hugging her?
Finally, she found her voice.
"Um...what are you sorry for, exactly, sir?"
"Severus," he gently corrected her, and then pulled back slightly, moving his fingers into her hair, steadily holding her gaze, and she felt herself melting once more. "Please call me Severus, Hermione."
She simply nodded, and felt her body react when he ran a finger down the side of her face, tracing down to her lips.
"Hermione…I'm sorry for a great many things. Mostly, I'm sorry that you must care for a man who…a man who…" She waited for the words. A man who had no real feelings for her. A man who could not care for her. A man who didn't want anything to do with her. A man who- "A man who does not know how to deal with someone wanting him, even though he wants her just as badly."
At this, her mind began spinning wildly in confusion, more so than before.
"Wait, w-what are you saying...?"
A smirk crossed the corner of his lips, the closest thing to a smile that she'd ever seen on him.
"That I have no experience in being wanted by anyone, and so I honestly have no idea how to react to this…situation."
At hearing this, she slowly figured out what he was saying, and before she could catch it, a soft laugh escaped her. She saw his look and how he started to pull back, but she captured his arms in her hands and quickly reassured him that he wasn't being laughed at.
"Sir…I mean, Severus," she quickly corrected herself, "I'm not laughing at you. I'm…well, I'm laughing at my own stupidity. I…well, I should have realized."
She gave him a gentle look and reached up with a hand and returned his gentle gesture with one of her own, her fingers brushing against his forehead, moving a few stray strands to the side.
"Neither of us knows how to react in this situation, Severus. It's new to both of us…and neither of us dealt with it well."
His gaze softened and she continued.
"Honestly, this is about the best reaction that I could have hoped for. I was honestly expecting a scathing dismissal from you, some comment about you being a teacher and I your student, or, at best, ignorance that anything had ever even happened. Instead, I got…" She motioned absently in the air with her other hand, and smiled.
"It's more than I could have hoped for…"
He then gave her an actual smile and she felt her breath leave her all over again at the sight.
Good lord, that man needed to smile more, he was stunning.
And then he did something she never expected.
He leaned in…
And he kissed her himself.
She was melting…and it felt amazing. There was a slow simmer about this kiss that seemed to have a promise held in it, and it was sparking a warm feeling in her chest. As his lips caressed hers, all she could think of was how wonderful it felt, but in the back of her mind she was afraid that it wouldn't last.
They slowly pulled back and a watery smile crossed Hermione's lips.
"This is all it can be right now, can't it?"
He gave her a look.
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
She tried not to let it get to her, but she felt her heart rise to her throat, and she had to take a deep breath to keep the tears from showing through. She let herself lean against him, her head resting on his chest, and his arms tightened around her for a brief moment.
Feeling bold, she asked, "But what about…after?"
He pulled back from the embrace and gave her a look. "You mean…after…?"
She gave him a pointed look.
"After school…after my apprenticeship…"
His gaze pulled away from hers, and she felt her heart fall slightly, but then he said…
"That is a distinct possibility."
A grin started at the corner of her mouth and then stretched across her lips. She then quickly stretched to her toes and placed a soft kiss on his surprised lips and then turned back towards the door, adjusting the strap of her bag over her shoulder.
She smiled at the look of surprise on his face, and she winked at him.
"See you in class, Professor," she said, opening the door and leaving him standing in the middle of his office, looking entirely confused.
He stared at the empty doorway for a while after she'd left…and another smile stretched across his face, though it was more predatory than the one that she'd seen him give her before. Yes. After. After it was all finished, she would be his.
With the smirk permanently affixed to his lips, he waved a hand, wandlessly slamming the door closed, and then swept back behind his desk, sitting down to grade papers.
…she would be his.