I am planning to have the following as a companion story (rather than a sequel) for The Final Forgiveness. My plan is to let this story build on the missing scenes and missing years from the original story and also address some unanswered questions. It could be read stand-alone by itself, but would probably make more sense if you read The Final Forgiveness first. This story picks up right after Chapter 6 of the original tale, and as you will soon discover, time always likes to play tricks in my stories.
I am giving this story a try with the only hope that a "sequel" or a "companion" story could potentially be as interesting as the original one. But "potentially" is all I can say at this point... I am counting on your feedback and encouragement to guide me through this.
All characters belong to the brilliant J. K. Rowling.
"What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose."
~ Henry Ward Beecher
For eight years, Severus Snape had wished summer would linger a little longer.
It all started from that one summer in what seemed to be a distant past. On that mid-summer day, fate, for a lack of more logical reasons, unexpectedly brought him a young woman, broken, dying. He saved her from her wounds, with his potions. In return, without even knowing what she'd done, she saved him from his self hatred and self destruction, with her kindness.
Since then, year after year, this was the time that brought him the memory of acceptance, of kindness, and of love. It seemed as if only during this time of the year, he could find peace in the empty castle; find peace in the quiet grounds; and find peace in his lonely shadow.
Everything about summer reminded him of her, a young woman that was beautiful and clever, a young woman that was forgiving and kind, a young woman whose name was Hermione Granger.
When the mild summer breeze brushed against his face, he could smell the sweet honey fragrance of her hair. When he took his morning walk by the lake, he could hear her whispering his name among the sighing trees. When he admired the bright blue sky cradled in the deep black lake, he could see her smile in the soft rippling wake.
This time of the year, he always thought of her.
He remembered her bringing him flowers, the kind of wild ones blooming in the Hogwarts grounds. She taught him that there was nothing wrong with allowing something pleasant into his life. She convinced him that life was not a punishment, but a journey full of choices.
She surprised him with scones she made the muggle way in the house elves' kitchen (she was the only one he had ever known that made friends with house elves). He could not remember any other pastries that ever tasted better than her scones. They were her mother's recipe, she had told him. And that reminded him of the meaning of home.
She showed him that friendship was always forged upon trust. When they noticed a silver grey unicorn wandering around the outskirt of the Forbidden Forest one day, she waited patiently and offered the creature an apple.
"Unicorns cannot be tamed." He remembered warning her. "And I wouldn't be so trusting around him if I were you."
"I don't mean to tame him. I just want to be his friend." She answered. "And if I want him to trust me, how can I not trust him?" Somehow he didn't think the unicorn was the only one she was referring to.
And she was right; the beautiful creature slowly began to trust them. He eventually let them pat him, and even gave them a short ride in the enchanted land. Snape would never forget the beautiful sight when she stood by the lake, stroking the majestic unicorn's silver mane.
"I think we should call him Shadowfax." She said one day, and she went on to explain that Shadowfax was the lord of all horses in a muggle novel called the Lord of the Rings. He soon realized that she was a very good storyteller. It always brought a smile to his face when he remembered the stories she told him from the book. It took her days to finish telling him those stories, and they nicknamed their story time together "Shadowfax time".
She also knew many stories about the castle, and she blushed when he asked just how many times she had read the book "Hogwarts: A History". Yet she was always curious to know more. It flattered him when he could share with her something that she did not already know. She was always interested in his opinions, his opinions about art, his opinions about history, his opinions about politics, his opinions about pretty much everything. But she did not always agree, and was not very easily convinced. She challenged him, and would only accept his arguments if he could prove himself right. She was his equal, yet she made him feel special.
He often wondered if he deserved to hold on to the memory of her, of the time that they spent together. She knew him, everything about him: his past, his mistakes, his guilty deeds. Yet she accepted him and forgave him. She had told him that she "admired" him, for the choice that he had made, and the "things" he would do in the future. And that was when she granted him a purpose to live. He was determined to do those "things", those "things" that would allow him redemption, and make a beautiful young woman like her forgive him, accept him, and, love him.
Just as he always looked forward to the summer months, he always dreaded the end of it. The end of the holiday always reminded him of the day when she left. He remembered that day too well. Moments before she left, she kissed him, and told him that she loved him. He wished he had the courage to say the same to her. But he didn't. He still wasn't sure, even after so many years. Did he deserve to be loved? And then there was the one last thing she might have revealed without even realizing it. His instinct had told him that he would not be living to the day when she returned to the future, with the memory of their summer together. His instinct had told him, that the day when she left him, marked the day that he lost her.
One's heart could be terribly stubborn even when one's mind was clear. Severus Snape understood this human weakness far too well. He had always known that when she next reappeared in his life in the future she would be his student, and would have no knowledge of their past together. But he still hoped that he could hang on to her somehow. The thought that he would see her again made his heart swell. And the idea that maybe she could still accept him as a friend gave him hope while he waited all those years.
It was this hope that made the end of this summer a little easier.
For the first time in years, Snape didn't mind the early autumn rain. He even appreciated the colors of the changing leaves as he eagerly anticipated the start of term. He didn't think anyone would know his secret contemplation, until a note was delivered to him by Fawkes: Dumbledore would like a word with him.
"Good afternoon Severus!" the Headmaster greeted him cheerfully as soon as Snape set foot in his office. "I do hope you had a nice summer holiday?"
"Not bad, Albus. Thanks for asking." Snape was never into small talk. However, with Dumbledore, he never had much of a choice. "You wish to see me?" He tried to get to the point.
"Ah, yes. I just wanted to see if my potions master is ready for the new term."
"We both know that was not the reason you wanted to see me." Snape answered coolly. "But if you must know, there are many other things I would rather do than dealing with the dunderheads."
Dumbledore only chuckled at his answer. "You do realize who will be joining us this year?" The headmaster's eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacles.
"It is indeed difficult not to notice when the entire staff has been discussing his arrival. The boy will soon realize that fame is not going to buy him favor from everyone, at least not from me. No arrogance and attention seeking behaviors will be tolerated in my classroom." A sense of bitterness was clear in Snape's voice.
"Why do you expect Harry Potter to be arrogant and self-centered? You are only seeing what you choose to see. In fact, excuse me, you haven't even met the boy yet, have you, Severus?" The smile never left Dumbledore's face as he spoke.
"He will be just like his father." Snape murmured.
"We will have to see about that." Dumbledore turned and walked next to Fawkes, who was observing the two curiously. "But Harry Potter was not the one I was referring to earlier."
Snape did not say a word. He suddenly realized where the headmaster was going with this conversation.
"Miss Granger will be joining us this evening, together with all the other first-year students." Dumbledore said quietly while stroking Fawkes' colorful feathers. "I am curious to know how you feel about that."
"She does not have the knowledge of our past. She will only get to know me as her professor. That is all." Snape answered in his cool smooth voice.
"Is that all for you, Severus?"
"I will treat her the same as all the other students. She is a child Albus, and I do not see anything more than that. So to answer your question, yes, that is all for me."
Dumbledore's gentle gaze lingered on Snape briefly before he said, "If you ever want to talk to anyone about it, my door is always open."
"Thank you Albus, although I do not see the need for any further discussion regarding this matter." Snape nodded curtly at the headmaster before turning to leave, "I will see you tonight at the feast."
With that, the Potions Master walked down the castle corridor with his black cloak billowing behind him, and a new chapter of his life waiting ahead of him, in the Great Hall.
He had expected her to be a good student. He had expected her to be exceptionally intelligent. What he did not expect was how challenging her presence could be when she was in his class.
At first, he could barely see the Hermione Granger that he knew from years ago. After all, this girl with wild brown hair was still a child, a child that was far different from the witty, clever, and sometimes mischievous young woman that he remembered all so well. But then he made the mistake of looking into her eyes. Those eyes... They were the same beautiful, curious, and kind honey brown eyes that once looked back gently at him by the lake in the distant summer.
Apparently it was a habit of the girl's to keep her eyes on the teacher when she was paying attention to the subject in class. He had heard the same comments about her from other teachers. However, this habit of hers quickly became an absolute distraction for him. Every time when she was in the room, those eyes reminded him of the different person that the little girl would eventually grow up to be. Whenever she was around, his mind was constantly occupied by the memory of the young woman he met in that distant past.
He tried to ignore the girl. But she wouldn't allow it.
She was always the first one to raise her hand every time when he asked a question. She looked at him eagerly with those beautiful eyes, waiting for him to call on her. Why did she have to know all the answers! He tried all the tactic he could think of: he pretended he didn't see her hand high up in the air; he made snarly comments on her and her friends; he even deducted points from her house to discourage her enthusiasm. Yet nothing worked. Noting could stop Hermione Granger from jumping on every question with a perfect answer. Nothing could stop her from getting his attention from the beginning to the end of a lesson.
Finally one day he could no longer hold back his anger at his own weakness, and he bellowed, "You are such an insufferable know-it-all!"
She quickly turned quiet. He could see the glistening tears in her eyes. The corner of his eyes twitched and he quickly looked away. It was not his intention to scare her. He was more upset with himself than with her. He was furious because he realized he was losing control with his own emotions.
Severus Snape was a man that would never lose control over anything. He quickly reassessed the situation and regained his composure. He was a master of concealment after all, and he knew just what to do to distant himself from the distraction. As he slowly pulled himself away from those powerful feelings, he could sense all the possible future friendship with the girl slowly slipping away from his grasp.
His heart clinched with a familiar pain as he watched her run out of the classroom without a backward glance. What had he done? A part of him wished he had never known, had never cared, and had never loved.
Let me know if this is worth continuing... I appreciate your reviews and comments...