Title: Chapter 2 The Morning After (chapter 2 of 23)
Characters: Harry Potter World
Pairings: Severus Snape and Hermione Granger
Summary: Severus admits to himself that he has feelings for Hermione. He becomes agitated when he discovers she is not in the laboratory cleaning the next morning. Elf misinterprets his comment and Apparates Hermione to Snape’s quarters. Snape is summoned by Albus to a meeting that also includes Professors McGonagall and Slughorn. They make him a proposition. He returns to Hermione and proceeds to lecture her on her misconduct at Slughorn’s dinner.
Word Count: 3202
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I’m just borrowing some of JKR’s characters for a little story.
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The following morning, Severus awakened with a genuine feeling of alarm that he was starting out on the left foot. He allowed himself a few moments for his daily reflection on his meaningless existence as he carried out his morning rituals while preparing to face yet another day of wasting his time and talents on dunderheads. By this time in his life he had hoped to own a small apothecary shop in Diagon Alley. Instead, he taught addle-headed nitwits by day and revered a madman at night. But thoughts of Lily pushed away his doldrums and demanded a confrontation.
‘You must stop this pointless wool-gathering and confront the delicate situation in which you have become immersed. Lily is gone; she is dead, and she is not coming back. Live the life she would want you to have.’
“Go away,” he muttered. “Leave me in peace.”
Last evening's ethereal encounter in the laboratory had felt surreal. He had felt her physical presence - her hands, her fingers, her mouth – and yes, even her warm body pressed into him – touching him – in the ways he had become accustomed: her hot, steamy breath in his ear, her tongue flicking over his puckered nubs, her fingers deftly plying their way through the folds of his robes, and her warm, capable hand wrapped around his swollen cock, stroking him gently. He moaned softly at the memory of her tongue teasing and tormenting his most sensitive, erogenous zones. In all the years since her death, never once had he experienced physical intimacy upon recalling her memory.
Remembering the feeling of contentment last night as she held him, he sucked in his breath. The skin to skin contact had been vividly real as she wrapped her legs tightly around his waist, like a python. Bodies rocking together in a gentle rhythm, their mutual orgasm built until the muscles of her walls clenched around him, bringing him to completion. The message she delivered gave him hope that he might have a future. He brushed at the dampness on his cheek. The ghostly visit had triggered emotions he was not prepared to sort out. When the burst of silvery green particles floated over the two of them, he thought he had died and was having an out of body experience – until he heard Lily speak to him.
Her words echoed in his mind this morning.
‘Here is your opportunity. I want you to take it, Sev. Do it for me. Together, with the one with whom you are destined, you will defeat the Dark Lord. Your descendants will bring unity to Hogwarts.’
“Ha! My descendants – doubtful that. Life is playing yet another cruel joke!” he snarled.
This experience was forcing him to reconcile his past and confront his future. He did have a choice. He could continue to torment his soul with the sins of his youth and the guilt of his adulthood, or he could follow a different path and allow himself to be deluded into believing he had a future. Neither option appealed to him at the present time.
He scowled at Elf as he left his quarters to make his way up the long, gloomy stone corridor to the spiral staircase that would lead him to the Great Hall. By the time he reached the top of the stairs, he came to an alarming revelation about the evening – Granger!
‘Granger had been there the entire time. That could explain her odd behaviour and the flushed look on her face. What was that codswallop about the ABC’s of…whatever it was she was attempting to do to me while I was unconscious?’
Damn! He was miserable. Furthermore, he wanted everyone around him to be miserable, as well.
As he neared his usual seat at the staff table, he walked past Albus and Horace huddled together in what appeared to be an intense conversation. Albus looked up sharply, apparently startled by Severus' approach, and then quickly turned back to Horace without so much as a nod of recognition. Horace did not even look up. While Severus knew his anti-social behaviour made him someone most of the professors avoided, he was unaccustomed to being blatantly ignored by Albus. He mentally added Albus to the growing list of disappointments in his life as he took his seat; he had no friends at Hogwarts…unless….
Since the night the two of them had brewed the Wolfsbane, he had begun noticing subtle changes whenever Granger was present, and last night her uncharacteristic behaviour had caught him off guard. When she came into the classroom, she ushered in a heady aroma that was anything but subtle; it was intoxicating. The familiar scent of Cestrum nocturnum went straight to his head, causing him to take leave of his senses and exhibit less than professional conduct. Appalled at the thoughts he had allowed his mind to engage in, as his eyes raked over her body, he silently admonished himself. It was probably for the best that he had managed to drive her away.
After all, he was a stupid, old fool to believe she saw anything in him – a hook-nosed, greasy-haired ex-Death Eater. Her only reason for being in the laboratory with him last night was to escape McLaggen. She had not sought him out for himself. He was an escape. That was all he was - a convenient excuse – the lesser of two evils.
‘That is all I am to anyone – a means to an end. As soon as the Dark Lord is vanquished, Albus will have no need of me. Granger. What does she want? Ah, yes. She conveniently let it slip last night – an apprenticeship. At least with Granger, an apprenticeship could work to my advantage - but it bloody likely will never happen.’
As he sipped his coffee, he took note that Minerva had joined Albus and Horace. There was a worried look on her grim features, and the way she kept glancing at the Gryffindor table led Severus to believe there might be a problem with one of her charges and the Potions professor.
'That is what happens, Horace, when you accept students that do not receive an 'Outstanding' in their O.W.L.s,' he thought as his trademark, self-satisfied smirk formed on his lips.
A glance towards her usual spot at the Gryffindor table confirmed the absence of the object of his thoughts. It was best he make his way to the laboratory as she was probably already there, waiting for him to remove the wards. With that thought, he scraped back his chair and billowed out of the Great Hall in a purposeful stride. Unbeknownst to him, three heads turned to follow his departure.
Elf was waiting for him when he returned to his quarters, arms folded across her chest, tapping her right foot, and scowling at him. The breakfast tray she had prepared sat untouched. Ignoring Elf, Professor Snape picked up the oil lantern and quickly made his way to the laboratory. His mood lightened with each step as he mentally sorted the various cleaning activities in which he could engage Granger.
Elf, a worried look on her face, trotted along closely behind him. Master Professor was acting strangely. She had to protect him. Last night did not go the way Elf had planned. Elf remembered how easy it had been for Miss to talk with Elf the night they sat by the fireplace waiting for the Floo to open. If Miss had elf wine, Miss could talk with Master Professor. Sadly, it did not turn out that way.
As he was about to step over the threshold into the laboratory, Snape came to an abrupt stop, and Elf almost collided with him. He did an about-face and gave Elf a threatening scowl. “Do NOT come in here!” he barked. The sinister look in his eyes told her she would be sorry if she disobeyed.
“Yes, Master Professor.” She dropped her head, her ears fell back, and she paced in front of the doorway.
The professor ignored Elf’s pacing. Instead, he thought about Granger as he lit the iron wall sconces. Severus admitted to himself that he found her captivating, and he could no longer repudiate his feelings for her. He allowed his arm to slowly drop to his side; his eyes closed as the seductive image of her backside, as she bent under the sink, came to mind. A smile threatened to creep across his features.
‘I want her to continue as my assistant,’ he admitted, knowing that wanting and getting were two very different things.
Shaking his head in disappointment, he opened his eyes to the hard, cold reality that she would never be anything more than his assistant. The cold stone floor of his laboratory stared back at him as he dropped his head, his shoulders slumping in defeat. A pall settled over him. The idea that Granger might find him appealing was so far from reality that it was not even worth considering.
‘Do you not remember the parchment she wrote your name on?’ reminded the little voice that had decided to take up residence in his mind and chime in whenever he thought of Granger.
‘Of course not! How could anyone forget a thing like that? But it was only a silly, schoolgirl musing,’ he argued.
‘Keep telling yourself that, and you will end up alone and forgotten,’ chided the voice.
“Leave me! Granger cannot possibly be attracted to me – a mean-tempered man, twice her age. At least Lily and I were contemporaries and childhood friends,” he hissed.
'No, it was not possible,' he decided. There were too many obstacles to overcome. Granger would never be anything other than his student or potions assistant. Anything other than that would require a miracle only Merlin could perform.
It was unwise of him to pursue her, even surreptitiously, though he could not prevent himself from wondering what his life would be like if she were in it. For that matter, what would his life be like if she were not in it?
The candles flickered and gave off a soft, dim light. The room was well-lit enough for him to see that the floor was still covered in a layer of dirt. ‘What in blue blazes was she doing last night? She cannot even accomplish the simple tasks of drawing water and sweeping the floor. Why I ever thought she would make an ideal assistant is beyond me.’ He marched towards the fireplace to confirm if there was adequate water for cleaning the floor.
He snorted. The cauldron was only half-full. He knelt down to begin building the fire, then became further annoyed when he came to the realisation that she had not yet arrived.
“If Granger is not here in two minutes, she will get a detention!” he barked. He said it loud enough to reach Elf’s droopy ears.
Outside the doorway, Elf’s ear’s perked up. ‘Master Professor being angry Miss not here. Miss be getting in trouble. Elf help!’
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A loud popping noise awakened Hermione, and an unseen hand pulled away the coverlet.
Instinctively, Hermione seized the retreating covers and grumpily mumbled, “Go…away.”
“Miss gots to go. La-bor-tory. Master Professor be saying, ‘Miss late.’ Gots to hurry,” said Elf, yanking the coverlet completely off Hermione.
Hermione bolted to an upright position and rubbed her eyes. “Gods, Elf! What the…!”
Sunlight streamed through the windows and caused her to squint at the little creature. Elf, a death grip on the coverlet, stared back defiantly.
“Master Professor being upset Miss no come.”
“I haven’t had breakfast! I am not even dressed! No! Not going anywhere,” snapped Hermione, yanking the coverlet and dropping back onto the bed. ‘I feel as if I had been tossed about on the Knight Bus.’
“Elf be making Miss breakfast. Gots to go,” insisted Elf boldly, as she reached out and grabbed Hermione’s hand.
Dizzy from the unexpected Side-Along-Apparition, Hermione put her arm out to steady herself. Staring down at her toes, she realized she was still wearing her nightgown.
‘All those books! I’m in Professor Snape’s quarters! I cannot face him after seeing us together in that memory. Please, let the floor open up and swallow me.’
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A loud commotion coming from the direction of his private quarters interrupted Professor Snape as he was preparing to light the newspaper and start the fire.
"Elf!" he bellowed. "What in Merlin's name are you doing?" The irritation he felt at being interrupted in the middle of a delicate process was evident in his tone. When he heard no response from his house-elf, he felt compelled to investigate the disturbance. As he entered his living quarters, his jaw dropped at the spectacle before him.
Straight from the arms of Morpheus, she was a vision: tousled curls, sleepy eyes, and bare toes peeking from beneath the ruffled hem of her white, cotton lawn nightdress, the bodice detailed with exquisite lace.
‘Granger, you are an infuriating pain in my arse.’
Her nightdress had slipped low, exposing one shoulder, and the top buttons had come undone. The scooped neckline revealed the soft swell of her rounded breast.
‘I must remain in control. I cannot allow her to send me around the bend.’
Annoyed, Professor Snape snarled, “Granger! What is the meaning of this disturbance?”
Hermione recognized Professor Snape's voice, but she couldn’t see him.
Then she saw him enter from the direction of his laboratory. He was staring at her, and he did not look pleased. Her pulse quickened at the sound of his voice. Her breathing became laboured as a vortex of activity began to spin around her, weaving a multitude of past events into a seamless tapestry.
“For Merlin’s sake, Granger! Have you no shame? Cover yourself! A witch cannot go traipsing about the castle in revealing nightclothes!” he barked.
'Bollocks!' he cursed silently, as a sudden thrill rippled over him, fanning the embers of last night's memory of her enticing hips as she bent down to reach the lower cupboards.
The Potions classroom came into view, spinning around her. Cauldrons, bottles, jars, and books whizzed by her head. There was a loud roaring sound, and over the roar, she could hear snatches of conversations. Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and put her hands over her ears to block the intense visions. But the avalanche of memories continued to spew forth akin to molten rock erupting from a volcano.
“No!” shouted Hermione. “Leave me. Stop. Please, stop.” Her voice was drowned out by the raging tempest.
‘You will regret this juvenile attempt at retaliation, Granger.’
“Please, no more…stop! I didn’t mean to harm anyone. Please, believe me,” she screamed, terrified that whatever spirits she had set free with the soul mate spell were causing this torment. She opened her eyes. Winds whipped at her hair and tore at her clothing.
Professor Dumbledore flew by on his broom, hovering just inches from her face.
‘He is a gentleman, my dear, and respectful of a lady's dignity. Especially if the lady in question is a Gryffindor….’
The speed of the vortex picked up as new objects came onto the scene: bedpans, bandages, Madam Pomfrey….
‘My responsibility…complicated…of course, if you want…experimental treatment….’
‘Your moves were innate - quick - precise - brilliantly performed - and had your natural instincts not surfaced….’
‘Stopper the bottle immediately, Miss Granger.’
Molly Weasley floated in front of her holding out a hand mirror, a worried look in her eye.
‘Sometimes young people can get caught up in the heat of the moment and do not consider the consequences.’
Hair flying in her face, Hermione tried to respond. “I am sorry for what I did to Professor Snape. Please….” she pleaded. The winds whipped her words away.
'Professor Snape's robes….’
‘I would like to be more than your assistant, sir.’
Just as suddenly as it began, the winds stilled, leaving Hermione weak, her legs trembling, unable to support her own weight.
The last words she heard were those that Professor Snape had spoken to the Dark Lord.
‘My Lord, I followed your strategy for disciplining her.’
‘Her reactions demonstrate that her mind can be easily manipulated.’
“I will never experiment with unknown spells again. Never. I promise,” she said, with contrition in her voice.
“Professor, I am sorry for everything I have….” Her voice faded to a whisper.
Professor Snape rushed forward. His strong arms caught her before she collapsed on the cold, stone floor.
He gathered her to him, caressing her gently, calling her name, “Hermione, Hermione….” He spoke softly, an uncommon hoarseness in his voice.
The winds had torn at her clothing to the point that the neckline of her gown had slipped even lower, exposing her full, rounded breasts.
‘Life is always happening to me at the most inopportune times.’ “If I allow it, you will be my downfall and my ruin, Granger.”
He had to force his eyes to remain focused on her face. ‘I can ill afford to allow you to remain here in my quarters in this state of undress.’
She was in no condition to clean. He was going to have to do her work.
Deciding the safest place for her was with him, he carried her into the laboratory. He made her as comfortable as possible on the settee and placed a coverlet over her. The situation dictated that he monitor her condition before administering a Calming Draught. ‘The body itself is a powerful healer,’ he reasoned, ‘when given the time to heal.’ Professor Snape paid little heed to Elf as she doggedly followed in his footsteps.
He welcomed this brief respite. It gave his mind an opportunity to process and rearrange the thoughts and emotions he had filed in the drawer labelled: ‘Dead to Me’.
An owl flew in the open doorway and unceremoniously dropped an envelope at the professor’s feet. He recognized Dumbledore’s seal. He removed the parchment. The message was short and to the point.
My office. Now!
A glance in Granger’s direction confirmed she was still asleep. Standing between the unconscious girl and the fireplace, Elf, a frightened look in her big elf eyes, stood watch over Miss. Elf cowered when she saw the dark look Master Professor was giving her.
“Elf, you are to notify me at once if Miss Granger awakens. Nothing more. No magic! If you disobey me, I will give you clothes!” he snarled. He was already behind schedule, and this side trip to Albus' office, no doubt precipitated by Granger's thoughtless scheme, would cost him precious time that he could ill afford to waste. The Dark Lord was expecting to see the results of the potion he had requested.
“Yes, Master Professor,” croaked Elf, still wringing her hands and glancing nervously at Miss.
‘What could the old fool possibly want now?’
As he approached Albus’ door, he heard the Headmaster call out loudly, “Come through!”
The Headmaster’s tone of voice indicated he was in a less than charitable mood.
Severus entered to see Professors McGonagall and Slughorn.
It never boded well for him anytime he arrived in this office and found the three of them waiting for him.
Albus silently indicated a chair, but he did not offer tea or even a lemon drop. Over his half-moon glasses, he stared at Severus.
The silence, broken only by the scratching of a magical quill and Fawkes’ occasional chirp, was becoming unbearable.
‘If this is about Granger’s sudden appearance in my quarters, I have a good explanation,’ he rationalized to himself.
His palms resting on his knees, Severus contemplated the fine-weave of his woollen trousers.
‘If that is what this is about, Albus would have said something already. No, he is quite upset. Whatever it is, it must be serious. All three of them are staring daggers at me. What in Merlin’s name did I do?’
The silence was beginning to weigh heavily on Severus. As he was summoning the courage to explain how Miss Granger Apparated into his quarters half-clothed, Albus broke the silence, speaking in a controlled tone.
“Professor Snape, thank you for being prompt.”
Severus rolled his eyes. ‘So, it is Professor Snape. This is not going to go well.’
“Horace has brought it to my attention that there are rumours circulating throughout the student body concerning your questionable conduct with a female Gryffindor student.”
Severus fixed Slughorn with a dark glare.
Albus, finger reading a parchment lying on his desk, occasionally looked over his half-moon glasses to fix the wayward professor with an admonishing look.
“Miss Granger was quoted as saying, ‘Professor Snape has come to rely upon me rather heavily to lessen his workload, especially now that he has taken the Defence Against the Dark Arts teaching position.’
Severus groaned at being on the receiving end of a dressing-down in the presence of the two Heads of House and started to speak, but the Headmaster raised his hand and continued reading.
’Professor Snape and I have developed a professional working relationship,’ he continued.
Albus sat back in his chair and shook his head in amazement.
“What Hogwarts professor, in his or her right mind, would give a sixth-year, underage student of the opposite sex the impression that a professional working relationship had developed between them?” he snapped irritably.
Minerva fixed him with one of the disapproving looks she reserved for miscreant Gryffindors, tight-lipped, a look of disdain in her eyes. Her glances alternated between Professor Snape and the Headmaster.
Slughorn, feeling wrong-footed at being identified as the person responsible for this uncomfortable situation, squirmed and tried to force a smile. ‘I felt I had an obligation to inform the Headmaster about the conversation I overheard between Miss Granger and Miss Bobbin when I heard it repeated to Mr. McLaggen.’
“This is absurd,” Severus said dryly, his thin lips pressed in a straight line. He felt the onset of a headache as the muscle of his right cheek began to twitch.
“Severus,” Albus replied, a little less harshly, “Minerva, Horace, and I have been discussing a proposition. We would like your opinion.”
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Professor Snape left Albus’ office in a daze. “From my mouth to Merlin’s ear!” he exclaimed as he hurried past the gargoyles.
As he made his way along the winding, passageways of the dimly lit dungeon, he took no notice of anyone he passed. He was anxious to return and check on his charge. He was relieved to find her still asleep and Elf hovering nearby.
Swish…swoosh…swish…swoosh…. The rhythmic sounds were soothing to her ragged nerves as she groggily awakened. Gingerly, she felt around with one hand and determined she was lying on a small divan. Her head felt like a Bludger had hit her. Her eyes fluttered open to reveal a dark space. Turning her head slightly, her eyes had to focus for several seconds before she was able to make out the stone fireplace looming in front of her. Her body felt drained and just wanted to be left alone – to go back to sleep. Her eyelids closed, and her arm slipped down beside her.
Swish…swoosh…swish…swoosh…. The soothing sounds gently lulled her back into a state of semi-consciousness.
Sometime later Hermione awoke to the sound of silence and the feeling that she was being watched. She turned her head just enough to see a dark shape, arms folded across its chest, wearing a scowl.
“Good afternoon, Miss Granger,” said Professor Snape sarcastically, his lip curled in disdain. “You have successfully managed to foist your chores onto me as I had to finish the cleaning duty you were assigned yesterday.”
Hermione hoisted herself on one elbow. Massaging her temple gingerly, she peered through one half-open eye and replied sleepily, “Cleaning…me…what are you on about?”
“Silence! I made excuses for your morning absence. Now, that you are awake, I suggest you return to your common room immediately before my reputation is further sullied.”
“What, sir?” asked Hermione, a look of total confusion registered on her face as she made to get up.
“It seems there are rumours flying about this morning that you and I have a harmonious working relationship. This morning, the Headmaster called me to his office to answer to charges brought against me by Professor Slughorn. He took perverse pleasure in pointing out that you are my student and that I am to treat you as such,” he replied, scowling.
“But, sir, I don’t understand. I’ve no idea as to what the Headmaster is referring.”
“Come now, Miss Granger. Loose lips. If you and I are to work closely together in my laboratory, you must start comporting yourself in a mature manner. Take care in what you say and to whom you say it.”
‘He’s staring at me! Do not think about the Pensieve. He can see my thoughts. I know he can. I wish a hole would open up and swallow me. Please!’
Hermione made ready to turn and bolt from the room, but before she could move, Professor Snape bent low and fixed her with a foreboding stare, as if searching her mind for an explanation, for several minutes.
Hermione nervously shifted her weight from one foot to the other, conscious of her state of undress.
Bending nearer, he whispered softly in her ear, “If we are found out by the Dark Lord, it will not go well with either of us.”
Hermione, feeling his warm breath on her neck, crossed her arms over her breasts, and shifted nervously from one foot to the other.
“In the future, dress appropriately before leaving your room,” he sneered, looking down his long nose at her.
Hermione brought her arms even closer around herself, swallowed hard, and nodded. There was a penitent look in her eyes as she obediently answered, “Yes, sir.”
‘You will be of age on your next birthday, and plans are afoot to place you in a perilous role in the defence of our world. The Dark Lord is determined to have you, Hermione.’
“You are an insufferable know-it-all and a pain in my arse. For more than a year, you have managed to make my life a bloody hell!” he snarled.
“I am sorry, sir,” she answered meekly. “May I please…leave…now?” she asked, hesitantly. She could not meet his eyes.
“You may go,” he replied.
‘Thanks be to the gods!’ Hermione ran towards the door.
“Miss Granger, is it your intent to run from my quarters in your nightdress as if a herd of Hippogriffs was at your heels?” he called out, his voice smooth and silky.
Hermione’s cheeks flushed.
“Elf, Miss Granger is ready to return to her common room.”
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The next chapters on LJ are not in final format.