As Hermione watched Harry gathering the tears from the potion masters face, she could scarcely breathe at the events unfolding before her. Professor Snapes eyes had briefly connected with hers as she passed the vial to Harry and for a second she had felt as though he was trying to convey something to her. Harry rose from the now still body and without a word exited the room, followed closely by Ron.
Hermione looked down, the feeling of empathy for Snape overwhelming her, she could not leave him like that, this would be the last time she would see him , she had always had respect for him although she had never told a soul. Most people saw him as obnoxious, overbearing and mean but Hermione saw how he used these attributes to great effect, getting the best from his students. The fact he was tall, mysterious and self-confident had made him attractive in her eyes and she had found that his passion for books only fuelled that attraction.
She knelt down beside his body and reached to close his unseeing eyes, as she did she realised that this man was the first man that she had ever loved, not a lustful, all consuming love but a sweet adoration that now could never be developed into anything more. She leant down and kissed the final tear from his cheek, "Goodbye, Professor." With a heavy heart she rose and followed the boys, not knowing what the next few hours would bring.
It had been seven years since that night and in that time many things had changed in the wizarding world, things were peaceful with only rare outbreaks of unrest as all the former death eaters were rounded up and sent to Azkaban. Hermiones life had changed too, after finishing her last year at Hogwarts it had not really taken long for Ron and her to start to drift apart, finally realising that they did not have that much in common and it was mutually agreed that they were much better as friends than they would be as a couple. She would see him at the gatherings and balls that were thrown throughout the year, his fame and money always ensuring that there was a usually very pretty, large breasted young woman accompanying him but never the same one.
Things were totally different for Harry who had married Ginny with very little hesitation and had settled down, now with the twins Sirius and Fred reeking havoc around the home and Ginny pregnant again, Harry finally had the family he had always wanted. Hermione would see him regularly, when he would drop in on his way home from the Ministry to chat and have five minutes peace before he had to go home, she was grateful that he would spend time with her as she had very few other callers.
Hermione had not locked herself away, she had been on a few dates since Ron but none of the men had been a suitable match for her, there was always some flaw that would manifest itself at some point that made her realise she would prefer to be alone than spend another minute with any of them. So in the end she had made the choice to be alone rather than settle for someone who would end up driving her crazy, now spending her days buried in books her thirst for knowledge her only companion.
Hermione sat in her living room, curled up in a over large chair in front of a fire that was dying, once again time had gotten away from her as she just finished reading the book. This one had been an ancient book of potions and their uses and properties, she found she had taken a unusual fascination with the subject of potions since Professor Snape had left her an extensive library in his will. It had taken years for the will to be read as Snapes body had never been found, as soon as Harry had explained to Professor Mcgonagal about what Snape had done for them all, she had sent a detachment of Aurors to retrieve the body but when they had entered the room there had been nothing there.
It was taking her a long time to sort through the books he had left her, each one when unwrapped was inviting her to open and read and Hermione being Hermione could not resist what she may find inside. The book had been the reason she found herself in this house, for it had a library to house them as she knew she could never part with any of his books.
The clock on the mantle chimed midnight, making her realise it was time for bed as she rose her eyes flickered to the pile of unopened books in the corner. There was a slender one on top which she picked up for a little light reading in bed, the package although thin surprised her by its weight.
Taking the it she made her way to her bedroom, placing it on her bedside cabinet as she got ready for room was her favourite place in the house, she had taken care to ensure it was perfect for her. The large bed dominated the room, she knew she did not need one so big but the luxury of being able to stretch out and read in any position was a pleasure. Hermione pulled her nightdress on and got on the bed, picking the book up she carefully unwrapped it, as the paper came away she let out a small gasp.
The book was covered in the finest dark green leather and embossed with the most intricate design, the front had a coiled serpent which had been accentuated with gold leaf and had two red rubies for its eyes, it was held shut by a gold clasp on it was a smaller version of the serpent raised up in silver. She rubbed her thumb over the snake, then gently pushing down on it. it slid and released the clasp.
As she opened the cover she could tell that this was not actually a book but a container made to resemble one, on the inside in a velvet lined recess lay a flat black oval stone. As the light caught it she could see green luminescent flecks running through it, she picked it out and instead of feeling cold it seemed to radiate a gentle heat on her palm. Hermione had never seen anything like it and turning it over and over in her hand she seemed to get a feeling of contentment from the action. Her body relaxed and her eyes became heavy, she closed her fingers over the stone and was soon fast asleep.
Had she stayed awake she would have seen a green mist coming from the stone, collecting in a floating ball which rose in the air and then slowly enter her forehead.
Hermione found herself standing on the edge of a lake the fact that she was in her nightdress made her think she was dreaming but something did not feel right, this felt more real than any other dream that she had experienced.
"Miss Granger," came the voice from behind her, " I have been waiting for you!" She held her breath, she had not heard that voice for so long but the velvet tones took her straight back to the classes in the dungeons, She remembered how difficult some of Snapes lessons had been as she tried to concentrate on what he was saying rather than lose herself in his voice.
"This may be easier if you could turn to face me" he drawled. Hermoione turned to face him, he was stood not five feet from her, he was wearing a black shirt opened at the neck, trousers and boots, it seemed strange to her as she had never seen him in anything but his robes. She tugged down on her nightshirt painfully aware of how she must look to him and wishing that the garment had been slightly longer.
His dark eyes flicked down her body, "Don't worry there is no one else to see you here, Miss Granger, there will only ever be us." He said.
"And where is here? I don't feel like I am dreaming this feels different" she questioned.
"Always the one to need to know everything, nothing changes does it?" Snape said "This is your dream Miss Granger but it is my memory, one of the memories you took from me as I lay on the floor, the memories that were in the tear you kissed from my cheek. The memories that have been waiting in your mind, waiting till I could find my way to them. You see you are kind of my personal pensieve."
Hermione blushed at the mention of her kiss, but curiosity getting the better of her "I have never used a pensieve but I remember Harry telling me no-one could see him or talk to him when he was in them. So why can you see and talk to me?"
"Ah, you see this is a mixture of my memories and your dreams," Snape carried on "when you picked up the stone you made that connection and now here we are, joined for the time being in this half world."
Hermione looked around taking in her surroundings "Where exactly are we?" she asked.
"This is where I grew up" Snape looked out over the lake "I would come here to get away from things at home."
Hermione stared at the man before her, she had never heard him speak of anything other than potions and to bark orders and punishments. She looked at his face, it looked softer here not as pinched and the perpetual frown he wore was absent making him appear much younger. He was not what people would consider good looking but as she studied his features it stuck her that she did find him extremly attractive.
"Do you see that rise over there?" Snape pointed to a hill at the far side of the lake "if we went to the top we could see the house where I grew up."
"Shall we go look?" Hermione was eager to learn more of his life and if he was willing to share she was not going to hesitate.
"No, I do not wish to see it as it was." His tone was harsh as he spoke "I was never happy there. When I inherited it after my parents died I was going to raze it to the ground but in the end I decided I liked having somewhere to go, somewhere I could get away from all the madness. So I gutted it and changed the interiors to something more in keeping with what I wanted."
"I would like to see that." Hermione said.
"Perhaps, Miss Granger we may visit one night." He had a faint smile on his face as he turned to face her "but for now our visit is over."
He gently took her hand and raised it to his mouth, placing a light kiss there.
"I hope it will not be too long until you return."
As he spoke the words Hermione felt herself being pulled from the dream, Snape slowly dissolving in front of her and she felt him moving further and further away.
She awoke on her bed to find the stone still clutched in her hand but it looked different in the morning light. She could not see any of the luminescence from the night before and the stone felt cold to her touch. Shaking her head she placed the stone beside her bed and decided she was being silly and that it had jut been a dream, a very vivid dream but a just a dream.