OMG! IT'S CHAPTER SIX! Yay!
I am unfortunately the bearer of bad news. First, let me say, that I am not abdandoning this story. I have every intention to finish it! I just am having to put it on hold for a little while. I'm losing access to my computer for a while. It might be a week, it might be a few months. I don't know. I have plans to go to the library and write and post as often as I can. I promise to get back to this story as soon as I can! Like I said before, I'm not abandoning it.
In other news, my most recent manuscript is finished! I was up until the odd hours of the morning finishing it! My last four have been flops. But I have high hopes for this one! So keep looking for my name in the bookstores near you! Rayne C.B. might very soon be on the cover of a book! Woot!
Thanks so much to my beta, harmswife, for looking this over for me and helping me out!
I still don't own HP. (insert sad face here)
Hang in there for me, my dear readers, and I shall be back before you know it!
"Where the hell have you been?" Ginny asked the moment Hermione stepped into the Common Room. Ginny, noticing that Hermione wasn't in bed, had apparently come back downstairs to wait up for her friend. "It's two in the morning and you are just getting back in! This isn't like you, Hermione. Spill."
Hermione sighed and motioned to the couch. When both girls had seated themselves, Hermione looked at Ginny and said without hesitation, "I've been with Snape."
Ginny frowned. "Right. Your extra lessons began today. But at midnight? You snuck out! I watched you climb into bed. I woke up again at midnight and you were gone."
"Yes, at midnight. I actually had to leave at ten."
"That's past curfew."
"I suppose it is."
"Snape is notorious for being the one that never lets a student off the hook if they are caught out after midnight."
"Snape never lets a student off the hook," Hermione pointed out.
"That's not helping your excuse. That's only helping my argument," Ginny said, grinning mischievously at her friend. "So what were you and Snape doing, alone, in the Potions classroom, after curfew?"
"Ginerva Weasley!" Hermione snapped quietly. "I thought I told you! It's nothing like that, I promise! There is nothing going on between Snape and I!"
Ginny frowned. "You know you don't have to keep any secrets from me, right?" she asked softly. "Because I wouldn't tell anyone, even if you were sleeping with a professor."
"I'm not, Gin," Hermione said.
"Then tell me what's really going on!"
Hermione paused. She trusted Ginny. She trusted Ginny more than she trusted Harry and Ron. She knew that Ginny wouldn't tell. She was good at that; keeping secrets and acting as though she didn't know what was going on. She could tell Ginny everything. It might even be good for her to get it all off of her chest.
But she couldn't. She was supposed to be keeping this a secret. "Extra lessons with Snape."
Ginny grinned. "You're totally doing Snape."
"Don't worry," Ginny said, giggling. "I won't tell." She paused. "How is he?"
"I wouldn't know, Gin," Hermione grumbled.
"Fine, don't tell me."
"There's nothing to tell."
"You will tell me, though, won't you? What's going on, I mean." Ginny frowned as the conversation took a much more serious turn.
Hermine sighed. "I will tell you what I can, when I can. I promise, Gin."
"Alright," she said with a nod. "Thank you. Now then. Up to bed with you!
Hermione woke up an hour before Ginny and the rest of the girls were and made her way to the Room of Requirement. She tapped on the door when it appeared and once again, it opened and Hermione saw that no one had opened it.
Severus was already up as well. Hermione stuttered and blushed when her eyes finally found him.
He was sitting in an arm chair by the fire. One of his legs was slung over the arm of the chair and a book was open in his lap. He was clad in a pair of black pants, but his feet and chest were bare.
"Sorry," Hermione muttered.
He glanced up, obviously not concerned about his state of dress. He nodded to her, putting his bookmark in the book and setting it on the table beside him. He stood and stretched his arms over his head. "Morning," he mumbled. "You wouldn't happen to know where I could find myself some coffee?"
"Coffee?" Hermione repeated, unable to keep her eyes trained on his face. Her thoughts began to wander for a moment. He might not have been the most attractive man to look at, but oh Merlin, was he fit, she decided. He was a beater, after all. He wasn't overwhelmingly muscled like Viktor had been, but she had never really found that attractive in the first place. She watched the muscles of his stomach and chest stretch and flex as he moved.
He reached out and grabbed the book off the table, starting for the wardrobe against the wall by the bed. He left the book on the foot of the bed and opened the doors. "…never was much of a tea drinker," she realized he was saying.
He pulled out a Slytherin green button up and pulled it on. "Sorry," he muttered to her, as though only now realizing he had been conversing with her without a shirt on. "Guess I'm so used to a room without girls that I forgot my manners."
"I'm used to it," she said. "I spent almost an entire year in a cramped tent with two boys my age."
"A year?" he asked. "What on earth were you doing living in a tent for a year?"
"It's in the past," Hermione said with a soft smile. "I was just using it as the reason that I don't mind."
He winked at her. "Of course you don't mind. They never do."
Hermione couldn't help but laugh. The absurdity of the situation was getting to her.
"What?" he frowned, and, having finished buttoning his shirt, reached in for a pair of socks and trainers.
"Sorry," she managed, clutching at her sides. "It's just that, well, seeing you wink and flirt."
"Why is that funny?" He cocked his head to one side, clearly trying to decide whether or not to be offended.
"Well, it makes me realize that you are the snarky man who is my potions professor. And you wink and flirt and laugh and smile. It's just strange."
"I'm very sorry," he said sarcastically. "Should I stop? Maybe that would help keep your sanity intact."
"Oh, no, I'm sorry," she said honestly. "I didn't mean to offend you. It's just that it will take a bit of getting used to."
He smiled. "Honestly, it will for me, too. I suppose you could say that I'm not very good at this kind of thing."
"I wouldn't say that," Hermione mumbled. He didn't hear her.
"Come on," he said once his shoes were on. "I'm starved."
"I suppose we could go to the kitchens. No one is awake yet."
Severus grinned and shook his head. He opened the door and motioned Hermione out.
Dumbledore, though, was already in the doorway.
"Good morning, Miss Granger. You didn't spend the whole night in here, did you?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
Hermione flushed. "No, sir."
"She begged me to let her stay, sir," Severus said with a straight face. "I had to force her to go back to the Gryffindor Common Room."
"What?" Hermione immediately protested.
Dumbledore only smiled. "Severus, my boy," he said warmly.
Hermione watched with shock as Severus grinned and embraced the old man. "Good to see a familiar face. It's also good to see you haven't changed a bit, old man," Severus teased.
"You haven't either, I see," Dumbledore mused. "Other than de-aging twenty years, I'm afraid."
Severus just shrugged. "We were about to head to the kitchens for some food. Is that alright?"
"That's just fine," Dumbledore said. "In fact, I have been thinking that maybe you should be resorted and take classes like the rest of the students here," he mused. "I think it might not be good for you to be cooped up in the Room of Requirement."
Severus grinned. "Sounds fine to me," he said. "I'm dying to know what the new Slytherin Common Room looks like."
Dumbledore hummed. "Perhaps you may get to, my boy."
"Headmaster, I'm afraid that the Granger girl isn't –"
Everyone froze and turned in the direction of the new voice.
"Holy shite," two nearly identical voices said at the same time.
"That's me?" Severus asked, staring at Professor Snape.
Professor Snape just stood there in the middle of the corridor, gaping like a fish at the younger Slytherin.
"I really end up looking like that?"
Professor Snape seemed to snap out of his thoughts. "I don't recall my younger self being so… annoying."
Severus huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "Annoying? Hardly."
"There you are, Miss Granger," Snape muttered, glaring past his younger self and at poor Hermione, who had been trying to hide behind Severus. "Spent the night with our guest, did you?"
Hermione frowned. "No, actually, I didn't," she said. She stepped forward and approached Snape. She even dared to put a hand on his arm. "I'm helping him. I came earlier this morning to make sure he was alright."
Snape frowned. He didn't answer. He brushed her hand off of his arm and pointed to Severus. "You, boy, go with Dumbledore."
"Don't call me boy," Severus grumbled. "You know me, and you ought to know how much I loathe that."
"Shall I call you 'Russ' instead?" Snape asked with a sneer. If Hermione didn't know better, she would have guessed he was teasing Severus.
Severus groaned and rubbed at his eyes with a hand. "That's even worse," he muttered. "Nobody can call me Russ but –"
"Lily Evans," Snape finished for him. "I know."
"Does that mean I can't call you Russ, then?" Hermione asked Severus without really realizing that she was saying it.
Snape and Severus both stared at her. Snape was frowning; Severus winked again. "You can call me whatever you want, beautiful."
She knew he was just trying to get to Snape, who had now pinched the bridge of his nose and pointed down the hall, but that didn't keep her from blushing at his comment. "I'll see you in a second, Severus," she mumbled as Dumbledore gripped Severus' arm and led him down the hall.
As soon as Dumbledore and Severus were out of ears reach, Snape groaned and hit his fist against the door of the Room of Requirement, startling Hermione.
"Sir?" she asked cautiously.
She was shocked to see he was smiling. "Oh, to be young again," he mused. They started down the hall after the other two. "I was never like that as a teen."
"You've already explained that," Hermione said with a laugh. "You've said it a couple times, actually. That you were never talkative around people. You seem to actually be one of the more socially awkward type."
"I told you that?"
"Well, Severus did, anyway," Hermione explained.
"Severus?" Snape asked with a raised eyebrow.
Hermione felt her face flush again. "Well, yes. It's makes it easier to tell you two apart in my head. Severus and Professor Snape."
They walked in silence for a while.
"Bad things happen to wizards who mess with time," Snape said again.
Hermione glanced up at him. She could tell he was worried. "Yes, well," she found herself saying again, "you aren't most wizards, are you?"
Snape stopped walking. "Merlin, Hermione," he breathed, staring at the floor.
Hermione heard him mutter her name. She turned and faced him. "What did you say?" she asked.
"You've said that to me before, haven't you," he stated rather than asked.
"I – well – yes, I suppose I have," she said.
He nodded, obviously lost in his thoughts and memories. "That was a long time ago, though."
"That was just last night," Hermione told him. "I just told you that last night."
Snape shook his head. "So much has happened, though," he said. "You said… and I… I didn't pay attention to that, I was too focused on how you knew. I didn't realize you were… but for some reason, it stuck."
"What do you mean, sir?"
"You meant to calm me down and comfort me."
"You told me yourself to treat our guest as I would my friends," Hermione reminded him.
"It's starting to fall into place," he thought outloud.
"Will we really get on that well?" Hermione asked. "You said we would. We get along, sure, but not… what was the word you used? Oh, famously."
"You won't always get along. But for the most part, yes, you will… I mean, we will get along just fine." Hermione nodded. Snape clasped his hands behind him. "Come on," he said, starting down the hall once more. He still seemed to be thinking. "The Headmaster will be expecting us."
"Right," Hermione said, trailing behind him. "Sir," she inquired as they walked, "you called me Hermione."
"Did I?" he asked. "Slip of the tongue, I suppose."
"You call me Hermione now. Severus does, I mean. What was it like? Seeing me again, after all that time."
Snape sighed. "One day, I might just tell you," he answered. "But until then, you need to figure things out for yourself."
They walked the rest of the way in silence, each musing their own thoughts and memories and hopes and questions.
"Have a seat, Miss Granger."
Severus was already seated in the chair that Snape had been sitting in before. Snape stood between the two with a frown on his face.
"Now then. We shall need to sort Mister Snape again."
"Why must I be sorted again?"
"You are now considered a new student at Hogwarts, since you have not been here in two decades. All new students must be sorted, of course."
"We all already know I'll be sorted into Slytherin again," Severus grumbled.
"How do you know for sure, though?" Snape muttered.
Severus didn't answer.
Dumbledore retrieved the Sorting Hat from its shelf and brought it to Severus. He placed it gently on his head.
It sat on his head for a very long time. It must have been around ten minutes, Hermione thought, before it opened its mouth.
I will said it one more time for those of you who didn't read the A/N at the beginning. I am not abandoming this story. I am just putting it on hold for a little while. :(
I will miss you guys and miss writing for you guys! Thanks so much for the reviews and other responses I've had to this story! I'm thrilled that you guys are ejoying this so much! I love writing it! :)
I promise that I'll be back as soon as I can. :)
Thanks for reading!