Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! I am thankful for all of you who read my stories and all the kinds words and the constructive ones, too!

I am thankful that JK Rowling allows us to play with her beloved characters.

I am thankful for Mr. Worrywart and Worrywart Jr. who have been fodder for stories...I love you both very much!

Chapter 8

The next morning, Hermione made sure to get up early to avoid seeing Lily. She was not sure she could keep her temper in check for very long around the red head. Quickly showering and dressing, she slipped out of the dormitory quietly and without incident.

She wandered slowly to the Great Hall for breakfast, oblivious to her surroundings. When a hand shot out from a niche and pulled her in, she yelped with fright, but still managed to whip out her wand and shove it into the neck of her assailant.

"Easy Hyacinth, no enemy here," a smooth baritone purred, pushing the wand away from his neck.

Hermione sighing with relief, pulled back her wand and looked at Severus. "What the hell? You almost made me wet myself! In fact, I think you did." She wiggled a bit, adjusting her knickers to feel by proxy if they were damp.

"Kegel exercises are supposed to be good for that," stated Severus, adjusting his robes and flicking at some bit of lint.

Hermione stopped wiggling, surprised that Severus even knew the word Kegel. "And you would know this how?"

Severus quickly changed the subject. Hermione would laugh herself silly if she knew he read the odd copy of Witch Weekly if one of the female staff members left it lying about the staff room; of course, he always charmed the cover to look like one of his potions journals. "I found some books in Binns' quarters that may help us with the runes. I think we may be able to find coherent runes to work with."

By now, the couple had left the niche. "You couldn't have told me this in detention? You had to abduct me into a dark niche? Golly Hubert, if you wanted to feel me up, you just had to ask."

Hermione delighted to see Severus' cheeks turn pink. "I had no such intention," he began, flustered, but then a small grin formed on his face. "But you were not paying attention, and I couldn't resist."

"Hmm," Hermione replied, looking at Severus with concentration. Was that a dimple? she thought. However, the look of suspicion on Severus' face made her look away.

"I hear you and Lily aren't hitting it off."

"Yeah, I'd love to hit her all right."


"I know Severus. It's just so hard." They stopped beside a large gothic window and leant against the sill. "I know so much about the people here, and I am so tempted just to do one little thing, but it would change everything."

She watched Severus as he thought about a response. Only in the past few years was she able to see the subtle shift in his jaw line that gave any clue to his current emotions. By the way he held it tight, she knew he was having some trouble with seeing Lily again.

"It is hard to see Lily," he began. "At first I thought I would be all right with it. But when I see her walking down the halls with James, it brings back all the hurt and anger I had."

Hermione squeezed Severus' shoulder. "I am so sorry Severus. I am sorry that you didn't have a happier adolescence."

Severus grabbed her hand and squeezed it back. "I know you are Hermione. That's one of the things I envy about you…your ability for compassion to everyone, even those who don't deserve it."

Hermione slapped him hard on the arm.

"Ow, what did you do that for?" he yelped.

"Don't ever say you don't deserve compassion. No one, NO ONE could know what you went through as a teenager or adult in the service of Voldemort," Hermione began to cry. "You were so brave and strong. You deserve everything now." She sobbed harder.

"Thank you, Hermione. Your friendship means a great deal to me; although I may wonder what I did to deserve it."

That set Hermione off again, and she flung herself at him, holding him tight.

"What on earth brought all this on?" Suddenly Snape realized what day of the month it was. "Uh oh, Hermione…um…it's almost 'that time' isn't it?"

She nodded her head against his chest and sniffed noisily.

"I think I should go to Spinner's End and look through some of the books I have there for anything that might help us in our research."

Hermione pulled back and took the handkerchief Severus had pulled out of his pocket. She wiped her eyes and blew her nose lustily. "Funny how you always seem to disappear around this time every month."

"Well, I've learned an angry, weepy Hermione can be dangerous," he grinned.

Chuckling, she said, "You know Severus, I've just thought of something. Do you even remember a bushy haired witch coming to the school in your seventh year?"

"I had forgotten about it, but yes, I do remember a Hyacinth Green and Professor Prince. They showed up shortly before Halloween and left before Christmas. I remember she and I were friends of a sort. We studied together and went into Hogsmeade, things like that. Professor Prince was hired because, as Dumbledore said, Binns tended to wander away. We had several fill in teachers for Binns during my student years, come to think if it. And then, ...during the Christmas holidays, I was initiated as a Death Eater, and well, they slipped my mind."

"Understandable," Hermione quietly spoke. She blew her nose again and offered the soiled handkerchief back to Severus, who grimaced and indicated she should keep it. Shoving it into her pocket, Hermione continued, "There's a Halloween dance next week, are you going?"

"As a teacher, I need to chaperone. And when have you known me to forgo an opportunity to blast the rose bushes apart?" He smiled evilly.

Hermione laughed. "I am surprised they haven't uprooted themselves and run for the hills." She looked at her watch and gasped, "Goodness, I'll just have time to grab some toast and head to class. See you later!"

You know, as I re-read the bit about Hermione handing Sev the wet hankie, I was reminded of something from my childhood. My father always carried a linen handkerchief in his pocket. One day, we were at church and I sneezed and had no kleenex of my own, so Dad handed me his hankie. It was disgustingly wet, but I had no choice. I can remember later thinking, how can he stand to have that wet cloth in his pocket against his leg? Ugh, gave me the shudders.