Archive: Sycophant Hex: Ashwinder (Alternate Universe)
Title: Chapter 9a A Night To Remember
Characters: Harry Potter World
Pairings: Severus Snape and Hermione Granger
Summary: Professor Snape gives Hermione the apprenticeship documents to read and cautions her to wait until morning to sign them. Hermione gets up the courage to talk about the Pensieve memory that is causing her embarrassment.
Word Count: 6013
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I’m just borrowing some of JKR’s characters for a little story.
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“You look lovely tonight, my dear.” His voice was hushed, and his words were soft. The soul-stirring pronunciation sent a shiver down Hermione’s spine. His words, the whisper of silk, stirred her desire.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. Her heart was starting to race, and breathing was becoming difficult. She had a vivid impression of what she was seeing: masculine, ruggedly handsome, dangerous, mysterious, virile…exuding sex appeal.
At that precise moment, Hermione knew she was looking into the eyes of her soul mate. He was the tall dark stranger that had captured her heart with his eyes.
Hermione answered him with a nervous smile. Now, that she was here, she felt like a first-year. Glancing around the room, she wished she had declined the invitation.
“Elf has prepared a delicious meal in recognition of your special day, and we must not keep her waiting. Before we sit down, I would like to make a toast in honour of your 17th birthday,” he said, turning away to retrieve the champagne bottle nestled in a silver ice bucket.
Hesitantly, Hermione nodded her head in acceptance. ‘I am dining with Professor Snape! I am going to wake up and find this is all a dream.’
“Have you had champagne before, Hermione?” he queried, giving her a sideways glance, as he removed the wire hood surrounding the cork.
Caught off guard at hearing Professor Snape use her given name, she swallowed anxiously and stammered a reply. “I… I think… once… with my parents. It tickled,” she said, twitching her nose at the memory.
“Ah, yes, the bubbly will do that. Never turn your back on the bottle once you have removed the muselet. You must remain ever vigilant,” he continued as he skilfully coaxed the cork from the bottle. With the faintest of hisses, he expertly extracted the cork. He slowly filled their champagne flutes and handed one glass to Hermione.
Lifting his glass, he waited a moment to watch the tiny bubbles rising.
“Six years ago you were a student striving for knowledge and acceptance. You have made friends, excelled at potion brewing beyond my expectations, and progressed from being an insufferable know-it-all first-year to the attractive young witch standing before me tonight.
“Your presence in my classroom, at first a minor irritation that grew to a general dislike, was not welcome from the onset. Eventually, I began to see your potential, admire and appreciate your skills – you are someone whose brewing prowess rivals my own. To your past, present, and future – may they all come together to bring you the happiness you so richly deserve. Happy Birthday, Hermione,” he said sincerely, as he raised his glass and smiled at her before taking a sip.
Hermione was speechless. Mesmerized by the tiny bubbles rising in her glass, she realized although she had heard him speaking, she did not remember exactly what he had said. She recalled a word here and there, but her concentration was lacking. ‘Oh, why did I come? I feel out of place, and I do not know what to do. Now, Professor Snape is actually smiling at me – well sort of a smile – at least for him it would be considered a smile. I thought this was what I wanted, but now I am not so sure.’
Hermione ducked her head shyly, feeling her face grow hot. “Thank you, Professor,” she replied before taking a sip, not certain what was expected of her.
He dripped sophistication and oozed sensuality.
‘Professor Snape is older and more mature than I am. He must think me a silly school girl to have dressed as if I were going to a ball. What can he possibly see in me?’
Hermione lifted her glass and smiled, “To Professor Snape… you are… you are a man I have always respected, but… I have not… always trusted,” she gave him a half-smile. “These past months while I have been working with you… I have learned… that I… I made an error in judgement,” she said, looking apologetic. “You have shown me compassion… kindness… and… provided comfort… when my world went wonky.” Hermione’s smile broadened as her confidence increased, “You have demonstrated integrity… shown responsibility… and… you have my sincerest gratitude,” she said, feeling her cheeks grow warm.
The professor, a look of shock and disbelief on his face, started to say something then thought the better of it.
“Know that I am by your side until the end,” she finished. “I will never leave you… Se… Sev… Professor,” she added, in a barely audible whisper. Hermione took a sip from her glass.
“Hermione, for once I don’t know what to say. That was most unexpected coming from you. Thank you. Now. Come. Elf is waiting,” he said smiling, slipping his arm around her waist and guiding her to the dining table. He felt her tremble and noted her step was unsteady. ‘My conduct has caught her off balance. Perhaps I can get her to sign the contract tonight.’
Hermione moved to the table in a daze. Her senses were working overtime, and she wished she had told someone where she was going. Did she really know the professor? Right now, she was not sure – the champagne, the candle light, the professor’s arm firmly guiding her… Elf, in a corner of the room, eyes beaming with delight, – and the professor – looking at her with a strange look in his eyes. It was as if he was seeing more than Miss Hermione Granger, student/potions assistant.
Professor Snape held her chair as she sat down, and then seated himself at the opposite end. He lifted his glass one more time and said, “Here’s to celebrating many more birthdays.”
Hermione sipped and smiled bashfully. Before glancing down at her lap, she looked around the table. It was beautifully set with crystal and china.
“Yes, sir.” As she answered, she noticed he winced, almost as if she had slapped him. The moment passed quickly, and the professor regained his composure.
“I was under the impression we had a harmonious working relationship. So, tell me. Why do you seem nervous tonight? One might think I was about to bite you.”
“Oh, no, sir! It is just… all this… is so unexpected. I am overwhelmed and yes, I am a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect for the evening. It’s uncomfortable to uh… uh… perhaps I should… maybe… I have overdressed… uh, not dressed…” she stopped speaking, realizing she was talking as if she had imbibed a Babbling Beverage.
“Hmm hmm heh,” he said, shaking his head as his lip curled in amusement. “Au contraire, Miss Granger. I would think you must feel very comfortable here… in the dungeons… with me. After all, you are the same Hermione Granger who, on more than one occasion, concocted a plan to procure accommodations in my quarters.” Professor Snape cocked one eyebrow and gave her a knowing look.
Hermione felt her cheeks glowing. He had some nerve to say that she had plotted to spend the night in his rooms.
Hermione straightened up in her chair, head held high, took a deep breath, and responded, “I did no such thing,” she replied. Then a little voice in her head said, ‘Or did you?’
Snape stared into her eyes for a moment, and Hermione feared he might be hearing her thoughts. She swallowed but did not break eye contact.
The professor cocked an eyebrow and said knowingly, “So you say.” Then he raised his glass and downed the contents, leaned back in his chair, and called, “Elf, you may serve.”
She set her glass down, surprised to see it was almost empty, and sank back in her chair. ‘That was close,’ she thought.
Elf brought the first course, poached oysters on the half shell with a chive sauce. She set one plate for the professor and gave him a big smile. Then she set a second plate in front of Hermione and smiled shyly.
“Hermione, Elf planned this menu especially for you. I believe you will find she has prepared a delightfully, simple yet elegant supper.”
“It looks delicious,” she said, waiting to see how the professor was going to eat it.
Elf turned to Hermione with a hopeful look on her face.
“Thank you, Elf. You are very thoughtful.”
Elf continued to stare at Hermione waiting for her to eat an oyster. Hermione smiled at her and then looked back at the plate.
She glanced at the professor and watched him deftly spear the oyster with a small fork, dip it into the sauce, and then pop it into his mouth in one bite.
The corners of Elf’s mouth began to turn down and disappointment clouded her eyes. Hermione realized the little creature was waiting for her approval, so she took a deep breath and bravely picked up the fork, emulating the professor’s example.
Hesitantly, she put the oyster into her mouth and swallowed. It was delicious. Her eyes widened in surprise and she said, “Elf, you made a wonderful choice for the menu. The oysters are delightful.”
A broad smile on her face, Elf puffed up her chest with pride. “Elf know what Miss need.”
Elf disappeared to fetch the next course.
Hermione watched as Elf attentively served a carrot and ginger soup, followed by a sea bass with lemon potatoes. As she set each dish in front of her master, she gave him a loving look, adoration in her eyes. Hermione realized that Elf enjoyed being here, and she loved her master. Maybe not all house elves were treated badly, but that did not make it right. Should they not be allowed to be free to work as they pleased?
In an attempt to make polite conversation Hermione asked, “Professor, how long has Elf been with you?”
Professor Snape looked over at Elf. “Elf has been here as long as I have.”
“Oh, and before that? Where did she come from?”
Elf began twisting the corners of her tea towel nervously. She remembered talking with Miss before. Master Professor not being happy. She set her mouth in a grim line, determined not to utter a word.
The professor looked at Hermione with a hint of exasperation in his eyes. She could be a pain in the arse. “What does it matter where she came from? Elf is here now.” He turned his attention back to his plate and refused to make eye contact.
Hermione felt as if she had ruined the mood. When Elf brought out a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, the professor looked over at her and smiled. There was a look in his eyes that said, ‘I am sorry I was upset with you.’
He asked, “Did you enjoy your birthday supper, my dear?”
“Yes, sir. Everything was delicious. Thank you very much for this surprise celebration. No one at Hogwarts has done anything like this for me before.”
Hermione pushed back her chair. As much as she wanted to bring up the Pensieve memory, she couldn’t bring herself to broach the subject. “It is getting late; I should be going.”
“What a pity you must leave. I had hoped to speak with you about an offer.”
Hermione’s interest piqued, she asked, “Offer? What offer would that be, sir?”
“Your talent for brewing potions has become widely known in the wizarding world. Paired with the proper Potions master, it is believed that your potential could be limitless.”
“Do you really believe my potential is limitless?” she asked breathlessly.
Professor Snape ignored her question and continued. “I have been authorized to oversee your education and offer you an apprenticeship,” he said as he silently summoned the sheaves of parchment from the sideboard.
“But, I am still a student!” she interjected.
“You are not just any student, my dear. You are a brilliant student. You can take the exams at the end of the school year and still graduate. The only difference being, you would be apprenticed to the Hogwarts Potions master and thus exempted from classes.”
Without hesitation, Hermione replied solemnly, “Professor, I would like that very much.” ‘I would be a blithering idiot to pass up this opportunity.’
“Tsk, tsk, Miss Granger. It is a seven-year contract,” he cautioned. Glancing over the documents, he added, “It is unwise to act in haste.”
He handed Hermione the documents. “These are the official documents outlining the obligations and responsibilities of the apprenticeship,” he said, caressing each syllable. “The required signatures and seals have been affixed. The second copy is for you.”
Hermione put out her hand to accept them, but he pulled back slightly, giving her a sardonic look. “Always the eager one, aren’t you, Miss Granger. May I suggest that you read the contract carefully? Take your time before accepting the offer – because it is a magically binding contract. I do not want to hear any complaints that you were coerced.” Warmth no longer showed in his dark eyes. The friendly attitude of the early evening was gone, replaced with a sinister stare.
“I suggest you study them in the morning. Should you decide to refuse the offer, only the bottom parchment requires your explanation of refusal and your signature. I expect your answer no later than noon tomorrow.”
Severus allowed himself a sigh of relief. He delivered his speech with the exact amount of discouragement and warning that he felt would persuade her to do the exact opposite of what he suggested.
Hermione gingerly lifted the parchment and began eagerly reading:
Click to read the contract: http://joannie3.livejournal.com/1855.html'
Click to continue reading Chapter 9 A Night to Remember http://joannie3.livejournal.com/2146.html
Source used for information on medieval guilds:
http://www.ancientquest.com/embark/guilds.html Ancient Quest Official Website of author Karen Ralls