Severus Snape awoke to the sound of sobbing in the next room. He had slept fitfully, feeling ashamed and angry with himself for putting the girl through such an ordeal, and each hiccuping cry was like a needle, pricking his heart and soul with guilt. He dragged his body from the bed, his skin tender after the vigorous shower he had taken, and moved quickly to her side, lighting a sconce as he went.
"Hermione?" he whispered, brushing her errant curls from her face.
She looked up at him, her eyes red rimmed and haunted, and then wrapped her arms around him. The embrace was awkward and uncomfortable, but he stroked her back gently until she settled.
"Why does it have to be like this?" she asked, her voice muffled by his chest.
"Somewhere, in an alternate plane of reality, there is a Hermione Granger who has no idea who the Dark Lord is and she is living a life free of all this, but you my brave girl are fighting for your children. You are defending your rights and whilst to many outsiders this may appear sordid and unconscionable you are doing the right thing. It is I, and those who are in power who are behaving unacceptably, abusing young people and denying their rights."
"Shhh, if the adults were behaving as we should, you and your friends would be free to live, not forced into a war that began before you were born." He smoothed out her hair, wishing he could have stopped this game being played. "Would you like tea?"
"Mmm." He felt her nod against his ribs.
"Tibbs?" he called softly and a small house elf appeared, wringing his hands and looking between the Potion Master and the student wrapped in a blanket in his arms.
Snape narrowed his eyes, quelling the elf's gaze. "We require tea, my special calming blend."
Tibbs quickly vanished and the reappeared with a delicate china tea service. The elf bowed and then vanished.
"Damned elf." Snape muttered to himself, hoping that assigned elves did not run to the Headmaster when witnessing impropriety. He patted Hermione on the back and she shifted away from him wrapping the blanket tightly around her. She watched him pour the tea, taking in his dishevelled appearance. His hair was lose and slightly tangled, and he wore a simple black jersey t shirt with matching pants, that hung on his hips. She sniffed and huffed out a laugh. Snape looked at her and raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"Sorry." He held out a cup of tea, which she raised to her face and inhaled the fragrant steam.
"What have you decided is amusing?"
"Everything. Nothing. I feel like up is down and black is white." She sniffed again and looked at him. "How do you do it?"
"Last night?" She nodded. He sighed, he would normally never speak of this to anyone, least of all a student. But this girl had spent hours in his company, enjoying pleasure and experiencing extreme pain in preparation for her life as a spy within the Death Eater ranks. As loath as he was to admit it, he respected her and enjoyed his involvement and interactions with her. "I tell myself that I deserve the pain and that I am paying my penance. I will do what I can to bring down the Dark Lord and every second that I endure will provide insight into how to achieve that."
She nodded. "Thank you."
"It wasn't any trouble to have you here nor to get an elf to provide tea."
"No," she reached out, placed her cup down and then rested a hand on his arm. "Thank you for everything. For teaching, for spying, for looking after me." She lifted her body and gently placed a tender kiss on his stubbled cheek.
"Tibbs!" he called again. A pop sounded and the elf had materialised again. "Take Miss Granger to her room immediately."
The elf grabbed her hand and she was gone.
The three Death Eaters watched each other surreptitiously at breakfast. Snape watched over Granger to ensure she was all right mentally and physically, and observed Malfoy with caution. Malfoy could barely hide his disgust at his Head of House, and was watching Granger with curiosity. Hermione eyed Draco questioningly, wondering if he could be brought into the Order, and she watched Snape with sadness and respect.
AN That's it, this is as much as I have written. Before you yell and scream at me, I never planned to write a full story it was just supposed to be the one night. I might consider adding more or doing something along the same lines but this is it for now. Please let me know what you think, I am enjoying writing scene type stories at the minute rather than my longer ones (I can focus on them better) so if you have any ideas or things you want me to try to write let me know, I love writing challenges :).
Thanks for reading