Chapter 6 - Apprentices and Appearances
Hermione was still going over what she had read about the Underground over and over again in her head. After reading what she had read, it was no wonder why it wasn't taught in the Hogwarts curriculum. The Fae were by far the most dangerous beings that she'd ever read about.
The books had even given a list of the top seven most dangerous Fae in the Underground.
In order from least to most dangerous, it included Wynn, Auryn, Edryd, Idris, Haydn, Brynnach, and Jareth.
According to the texts, they were brothers and each had their own realm to rule. In terms of realms, the Fae that was the most feared had the weakest of realms to rule. Using her head, Hermione had deduced it was because they didn't want to give him too much power. Because, also according to the books, there was a Fae Council that had divided the realms up and carefully selected who would rule each one.
Wynn had the Underground realm of Winter and Auryn ruled Fall. Edryd was over Spring and Idris over Summer.
Haydn, however, ruled the element of Light, and Brynnach over the Dark.
Jareth was the one that was most powerful, but was forced to rule over a realm of goblins, where he was simply known as the Goblin King, and had eventually become a bedtime story for naughty children who did not wish to be taken away by goblins.
And, from what Hermione had also deduced, it seemed that Jareth was the one that was causing Sarah all of her problems. According to another text that Severus had let her read, Fae magic was the most powerful magic known in the magical world. It could easily remove any kind of protection spells that Hermione might have put into place around Sarah, and she was now suddenly very nervous. Considering that she hadn't heard from Sarah in a long time…was it possible that the Goblin King had paid her a visit?
That thought bothered her, and she quickly decided to try to make something that would truly keep the goblins away from her friend. For good, this time.
She would give Sarah two more days, and if she hadn't responded by then, then she would go and find her.
Some formulas had started to form in her head and she decided that she would see what she could make out of them.
Having access to the lab at all hours has its perks, she thought to herself as she wandered on down to the dungeons. It was a Saturday morning at eight o'clock, which meant that Severus was asleep. It was the only time he let himself sleep late, and for that Hermione was grateful. He worked himself too hard during the week and it made her worry about him.
He was also much easier to deal with when he'd gotten enough rest.
She smiled to herself as she let herself into the lab and began to set up a table of ingredients that she would need.
As she pulled out a silver knife to slice up some roots, her mind wandered slightly.
Like, how had Severus gotten his hands on the books that he had let her borrow? How had he obtained such rare and dangerous texts? And then, at that thought, she realized that he'd most likely gotten them the same way that he'd obtained a lot of his books. Through dangerous means.
But at the same time, she wondered why he would even need books such as those.
And that was when she had a disturbing thought.
The Fae were extremely dangerous, and had Voldemort had any of them on his side, then he would have been an unstoppable force…yes, that was probably the most likely explanation. Severus, when he'd still been loyal, must have been asked to recruit some of the Fae. Most likely the most dangerous.
Which meant that he knew the Goblin King; he knew the man that had tormented Sarah in Labyrinth all those years ago.
But, that also meant that he had been to the Underground before. She nearly sliced off her own finger at that realization. How the hell had he not told her when she'd first started investigating the Underground? He could have simply told her about it…but then again, she realized, he probably didn't want to rehash the darkest days of his life.
At this realization, she put her empty hand on the table and simply stared at the empty cauldron in front of her.
She really didn't know him. She only knew the snarky professor, and the post-war Severus. She knew nothing of who he was before he had turned himself over to the side of the light, nor what he'd been like as a child, besides what she had seen in his memories. She still felt guilty about that. They thought that he was dead, but he hadn't been after all, and now it burned in her.
Who was the real Severus Snape, and how had he changed? What part of him was genuine?
His whole life had been about deception and now…was she actually the first person to get to know the real Severus Snape? The one who was adept Potions, but honestly enjoyed Defense over everything else? The one with fast wit and a surprisingly disarming and utterly charming smile?
A faint smile crept onto the corner of her mouth at that thought.
She hoped she was the first. For some reason the thought filled her with a warm feeling that settled low in her stomach and made her feel slightly light headed. She wrapped her arms around her waist, the silver knife dangling loosely from her fingers, forgotten.
She suddenly whirled around when she heard a voice say, "That is not the proper way to hold a knife, Miss Granger."
There, standing in the doorway looking slightly disheveled, was the very man that was in her thoughts.
"Severus," she said in a breathless tone. "I wasn't expecting you until nine thirty. Why are you already up?"
He stumbled past her, and Hermione cringed slightly when he said a scratchy voice, "Because I couldn't sleep, you daft woman! Bloody back is hurting again…" He then continued to mutter and grumble under his breath as he made his way to his desk and wrenched open one of the drawers.
He then pulled out a vial of pale violet liquid and quickly un-stoppered it and threw it back like a shot and then collapsed into the chair behind his desk.
She knew that he still suffered from after effects of the Cruciatus, and that sometimes, like last night apparently, it interfered with his sleep.
And then she saw what he was wearing…
…a white oxford shirt, the sleeves rolled up his forearms, and a pair of black trousers that were more snugly fit that his usual ones, and showed off his firm legs that pulled him around the castle at night during his usual rounds. But what took her most off guard was the fact that his shirt was more than halfway unbuttoned.
Her eyes swept down his torso hungrily, and she felt herself withholding a moan that wanted to surge from the back of her throat.
Sweet Merlin…no man deserved to look that good.
And then she became dimly aware of the fact that he was talking to her.
"…and that was when I realized that I was out of the bloody potion, and I spent most of the night in misery, until I remembered this morning that I still had a single vial left sitting in my desk drawer. I would have preferred to have remembered it last night," he growled, raking a hand through his hair, which was also loose and not pulled back the way he had been keeping it for the past few months.
He was a disarming sight, and she felt her heart rate speed up slightly. This was not supposed to be happening to her…and yet it was.
She quickly pulled her eyes away so that he wouldn't catch her staring and turned back to her ingredients, wracking her brain as to what she had been doing before he had walked in.
That's right. Working on an experimental potion for Sarah.
With that in mind, she went back to work, not noticing the fact that Severus' eyes were glued to her every move. Not having gotten enough sleep, his inhibitions were down and he was openly staring and admiring the picture that was put in front of him.
He had admired individual things before, but this was something entirely different.
Now he was able to see every part of her attuned to her work; not just her hands, or her eyes…but every part.
His eyes trailed from the top down, admiring the slender line of her neck that curved down to a slightly tense shoulder, which gave way to the long line of her back that curved slightly as it hit her waist…and then his eyes continued to stray even further down, appreciating the fact that she wore Muggle clothing on the weekends because her jeans clung to her oh so very nicely, and showed off her feminine curves and shapely legs.
And then he smiled when he saw her shoes. Green and white ankle converses.
Hermione, however, was completely unaware of his open perusal, so focused was she on the basic stages of her potion.
Unbeknownst to both of them, someone else was watching…
Jareth sat on his throne once more, but this time the room was devoid of any goblins, or even chickens, and he had a crystal expertly balanced on his left knee knee, his right leg crossed beneath, and his riding crop gently tapping against the leather of his boots.
He stared intently into nothingness for a while, his head resting in his other hand, and then, with little to no effort, he sent a silent through word through the air and soon he could see the inside of a dungeon room.
He smiled at what he saw.
There was his old friend…and, oh my, was that the witch in question?
When he'd taken a quick glance through Sarah's mind, he'd seen the witch but he had no idea that she was linked to this man. My, my…how intriguing. His interest now doubled, he watched in amusement as Severus Snape openly ogled this young witch…Hermione, he believed her name to be.
Though the king was amused, he could see what held the man so captive.
The witch was fairly attractive, though her hair was a bit of a mess, and there seemed to be some sort of untapped potential lingering in the air around her.
He enjoyed the view for a while, but then his eyes narrowed as he saw what books she had near her and the ingredients that she was putting into the cauldron in front of her. Now this was a problem. It seemed that the girl was attempting to help Sarah, yet again…and he couldn't have that.
His mouth settled into a grim line and his eyes went dark.
He was going to have to do something about this.
Just as he thought of what he was going to do to solve his little problem, he smiled to himself as he saw the young witch glance back towards the dark man, who was now looking away, a longing look in her eyes.
Oh…so it seemed the feeling was mutual.
The plan that he'd originally formed in his mind changed slightly. He could use this situation to his advantage; shamelessly, in fact, and he couldn't wait to put it into action. Oh, this was going to be a fun few months. A few scattered dreams here and there, and then, possibly, a kidnapping of his own design. Something that he hadn't done in centuries.
A dark smile now crossed his lips, and he rolled the crystal down into his waiting hand and rolled it around his wrist, before bringing it to rest on the tips of his fingers.
"Time for some fun," he muttered under his breath…
…and then shattered the crystal with barely a tightening of his fingers.
"Severus Snape…your dreams have come to an end."