joannie3 (joannie3) wrote,

Fic: "Tonight You're Mine Completely III" (Harry Potter)

Archive: Sycophant Hex: Ashwinder (Alternate Universe)
Chapter 3 A Birthday To Remember (chapter 3 of 23)
Characters: Harry Potter World
Pairings: Severus Snape and Hermione Granger
Rating: R
Summary: Professor Snape wants to know why Hermione is avoiding him. He decides to owl Hermione and invites her to supper to celebrate her birthday. He plans to present the apprenticeship documentation that he and Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall drew up. The potion Professor Snape brewed for Hermione’s birthday present has dangerous consequences, but Elf responds to the emergency in time to save him.
Word Count: 6047

Disclaimer: Not my characters. I’m just borrowing some of JKR’s characters for a little story.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Elf returned from Gryffindor Tower to find Master Professor sitting at his desk, staring vacantly at a roll of parchment. Elf watched and worried as he sat there motionless.

'Something being wrong,' she thought as she paced back and forth in front of the fireplace, hands clenched behind her back.

“What be doing?” she muttered softly to herself, her shoulders hunched, her brow furrowed.

Severus glanced at his house-elf out of the corner of his eye; he was still irritated with her for misconstruing his comments and Apparating Granger to his quarters. He wondered to himself what else she had been up to without his knowledge.

Precious minutes ticked away as he stared at the official apprenticeship documents lying on his desk - the result of this morning's impromptu meeting with Albus. The whole bizarre episode happened quickly. So quickly, that Severus had no time to register the impact that acquiring an apprentice would have on his professional and personal life. Now here he sat staring at the product of that meeting, reflecting on what had taken place.

‘What is the next step? I can barely tolerate Elf some days. What was I thinking when I agreed to take Granger on as my apprentice?’ he wondered, running his hands through his hair in a sign of desperation.

‘You were thinking that Albus had you by the short hairs – it was that or lose your potions assistant,’ interjected the voice of reason.

He slouched forward on the desk, leaning on his elbows, and lightly massaged his temples as his thoughts dwelled on Minerva. He shivered as he relived the feeling of her beady eyes fixated on him, making his blood run cold.

His face expressionless, he had immediately gone into survival mode, waiting for Albus to announce his release, ‘Professor Snape you may return to your quarters’.

Albus had gone into his usual tirade. Severus had quit listening to the verbal lashing the second Albus reprimanded Severus for developing a professional working relationship with an underage student.

The only words he remembered hearing were, ‘…unable to maintain a teacher/student relationship…one recourse. …agreed to allow you to offer Miss Granger an apprenticeship.'

That got his attention, and he began actively listening to their conversation. Albus and Minerva were willing to allow him to dictate the terms of the contract, but the three could not reach a consensus on apprentice lodgings or when to extend the offer.

Minerva asked for time to notify the teaching staff that Miss Granger would be auditing classes, and Albus petitioned to maintain her residency in Gryffindor House. Severus had made a persuasive case for providing lodging adjacent to his private laboratory.

When Horace chimed in and agreed that Severus' argument made logical sense, Albus nodded his head in agreement. Minerva looked at the three of them as if they had taken leave of their senses. When Minerva brought up Severus' past, he thought the idea was doomed to fail. A slight smile played over his lips as he recalled how Albus had turned the tables on her.

‘Humph,’ sniffed Minerva, ‘How convenient! If I recall correctly from your days here as a student, there was a storeroom adjoining the Potions classroom that Horace allowed you and Lily to use as a laboratory. But, I fail to remember the student lodging in that part of the castle, Severus,’ she said haughtily, smiling sweetly.

‘Don't play coy with me, Minerva. You have made numerous forays into the dungeons to spy on me. You damn well know the layout of the dungeons' lodgings.’

Albus decided to end the bickering before it escalated into an altercation, by addressing the Deputy Headmistress, ‘Minerva, that is enough. We are all adults and equals here. If Severus says he can provide satisfactory apprenticeship lodgings for Miss Granger adjacent to the laboratory then we should let her decide if she wishes to accept them. It is more important to draw up the document so we can sign it before I leave tonight.’

Minerva gave her silent acceptance, lips pursed, teeth clenched, and jaw twitching.

Albus, a serious look on his face, turned to Severus, ‘There is one caveat,’ he said emphatically, ‘Should Miss Granger refuse the offer, I cannot allow her to continue as your potions assistant, nor will she be allowed access to the laboratory for private studies. Horace will see to her extra credit studies regarding Potions – as well as – her study of the Dark Arts.’

‘Albus! For the love of Merlin! Why?’ queried Severus, genuine alarm showing on his features.

Albus shook his head, amazed that he had to spell it out for him, ‘The Board of Governors is obligated to address any complaint made by a parent. Hogwarts is in no position to withstand the scandalous outcome resulting from a teacher having inappropriate contact with a student.’

‘Inappropriate contact?’ he snarled. ‘I'm not having inappropriate...! Who made a complaint against me?’ he asked suspiciously, glancing at the faces of his colleagues.

‘Severus,’ interrupted Horace, ‘I think Albus is referring to the fact that the girl may have developed feelings for you that are inappropriate. From what I have seen, she appears to be quite taken with you.’

‘Dear, Merlin! Please! It would seem the opinion of the Head of Gryffindor House has no bearing on the outcome of this...this...debacle. Sign the damned document so I can witness it and be on time for Transfiguration class," interjected Minerva. "I think we are concerned over nothing. Miss Granger is not going to forsake the comfort of Gryffindor Tower to go live in the dark, dank dungeons - with you, Professor Snape,’ she replied self-assuredly, a smug, satisfied look on her face as she tilted her chin and raised her eyebrows for emphasis.

The grim look of disapproval on her face as she witnessed his and Albus’ signatures confirmed there would be dire consequences if he were discovered using coercion.

Severus drummed his fingers on the table and thought about what had transpired with Granger in his laboratory. Her behaviour of late had confused him. Until last night, she had been doing everything she could to avoid him. She had stopped waving her hand in class, and her eyes no longer followed him around the classroom. The best student in his class was now a source of tension and frustration. Only yesterday morning, he had approached her after class for a tête-à-tête, but Granger had politely thanked him, gathered her belongings, and left. He stared at her retreating backside, baffled by her lack of interest. He reasoned that an atmosphere less formidable than his Dark Arts classroom might be more conducive to pursuing a conversation.

But she had sought him out last night. When her back was against the wall, who did she turn to for help? Him. She stopped by the classroom on the pretence of checking on a potion, but with whom had she prolonged the visit? Him. The ball was in his court now, and he was determined to act. He had tried throughout the day to find the proper words to describe his feelings, but they eluded him. As he had swept and mopped the stone floor, possessive, protective feelings welled up in him. Those feelings had forced him to cease his labours from time to time and cast anxious glances in her direction.

He had vowed to conceive a strategy that would provide him with the opportunity to speak with her. Last night would have been that perfect opportunity - except - everything that could go wrong did.

Albus and Minerva were unwittingly giving him a second chance at salvaging what might be his last hope for salvation; he dared not fail. The signed and sealed documents lying on his desk provided an easy excuse to arrange a meeting. He rationalized that it was mandatory he present the offer in a timely fashion. But if the truth were known, the offer was good for ninety days from the date the contract was drawn up.

If she accepted the offer, he reasoned, he must be prepared to fulfil his contractual obligations. If she refused the offer, he would have to find an alternative means for providing Poppy with medicinal potions.

While pondering the contract, the idea occurred to Severus to use a different tactic to get Granger to open up and talk about what was bothering her. Her 17th birthday was tomorrow. Perhaps in the guise of a social setting, she would be more receptive to speaking openly with him. The problem was that he did not know how to write an eloquent invitation to a young witch.

Because he had little experience with social niceties, the task he had set himself this evening was proving difficult.

He idly watched the quill hover impatiently over the parchment, taunting his inability to put his thoughts into words.

He accepted the fact, though reluctantly, that her presence in his life was no accident. Lily’s spirit had a hand in the selection process. He was not happy. He abhorred manipulation – even if it was done for his benefit. Left to his own devices, he argued, he could have come around to making a move on his own – someday – when Granger was older.

“Master Professor!” cried Elf, tugging insistently at the hem of the professor’s robes as he sat at his desk, scowling at the sheet of parchment.

Professor Snape glowered at the unwelcome interruption. His dark eyes flashing angrily, he snarled, “Elf, what is the meaning of this interruption?”

“Elf make plan,” persisted the house-elf, hands on hips, an obstinate look on her face.

Arching an eyebrow and giving Elf a sideways look, he snapped impatiently, “I do not have time for your idle chit-chat.

“It is imperative that this letter is delivered in the Great Hall tomorrow morning during breakfast,” snarled the professor impatiently, glowering darkly at Elf for interrupting his train of thought.  The menacing look in the professor’s eyes caused the quill to tremble and run for the farthest corner of the desk.

Not in the least put off by the sinister look aimed in her direction, Elf smiled and replied, “Elf clean - make party.” Her eyes were bright and shining as she envisioned the delightful evening.

“What are you going on about? Elf, there are times when I cannot make sense of what you are trying to communicate,” he replied distractedly, studying the quill’s odd behaviour.

“Elf know Master Professor be liking Miss,” she replied, a sly smile spreading over her face as she dropped her head. Elf knew she was treading in dangerous territory for speaking boldly, but she had taken an elf oath to care for Master Professor.

“Let me make myself perfectly clear before you misconstrue my intentions and provide further fodder for the rumour mill. I do not like Miss Granger; I am composing a congratulatory acknowledgement to my assistant on reaching adulthood because Merlin knows those dunderheaded idiots she calls friends will not remember. Granger is a capable assistant that I can rely upon to shoulder the burden of Poppy’s apothecary needs, and she deserves recognition.”

He glared. If he was incapable of articulating his feelings to Lily’s house-elf, how would he be able to create the potion he was planning to brew? The potion required a strong conviction.

Knowing that Master Professor did not speak the truth, Elf continued to stare at the floor and smile to herself in amusement. “Elf know,” she said shyly.

He gave Elf a cool look. “Well.”

Looking up, she stared back at him. “Well… ” she said puckishly.

“Elf, don’t make me drag it out of you. Are you hiding something from me?”

“No, Master Professor. Miss not be wanting letter. Miss be wanting party!”

“Party? I will not subject myself to cavorting with immature students in my free time when I am subjected to their insufferable behaviour all day long.”

Elf smiled again. “No, Master Professor. Miss be wanting party – Elf be there… Master Professor be there.”

“How do you know that,” he asked snidely.

“Elf know,” she responded, a perceptive look in her eye as she cocked her head.

“If you know so much, perhaps you would like to word the invitation,” he replied, a sneer on his face.

Elf popped up on the desk and bent over the parchment, her little shoulders hunched and her head bowed in deep concentration. The quill danced across the paper with a flourish. Ziggle. Zaggle. Poof. Poof. Zap. Voila!

Elf, her chest puffed with pride and happiness, beaming from one perked up elf ear to the other at the thought of spending an evening in the company of Miss, moved aside to allow Master Professor to read the missive.

Beloved Miss

Happy Birthday. Please come see Master Professor and Elf. Tonight. Elf make good food. Elf not make wine. Be having happiness.

Please come. Be wanting to see you. Give you present. You come see Elf and Master Professor. We make happiness.

Send owl. Be saying you be coming tonight. Eight o’clock.

Hope you be coming.

Master Professor

Snape read Elf’s invitation, pushed the parchment aside, and shouted, “Elf! I cannot put that ridiculous drivel in the post! It reads like the pathetic attempt of some addle-headed schoolboy begging for the attention of a young woman whom he fancies but has no hope of attracting.”

Elf’s little ears drooped, and her head dropped. “Elf bad.” She sniffed and sniffed again. Her little shoulders started to shake. ‘Miss not be coming.’

“Stop it, Elf,” he said, grabbing up the quill. Rub! Rub! Ziggle. Ziggle. Slash! Slash. Stab. Scratch. Ziggle. Zaggle. Scratch. Stab! Rub. Rub! Rub! Stab. Slash. Slash! Rub. Rub. Ziggle. Ziggle. Zaggle. Voila Et Cetera Et Cetera!

Professor Snape picked up the parchment, gave it a shake, looked down his nose at Elf, and began to read.

My Dear Miss Granger,

I am undoubtedly not the first to congratulate you on reaching this momentous occasion, your seventeenth birthday. This is truly a day for celebrating. You are leaving your childhood behind and embarking on a fresh, new beginning, complete with the glory of newfound hope.

It is not within my power to grant you permission to skip classes today. However, I am relieving you of the drudgery of working with me in my laboratory tonight. You may spend the evening however and with whomever, you see fit.

Nonetheless, I would be most pleased if you would consider joining me for a celebratory supper in my rooms.

I would also like to take this opportunity to discuss a proposition that Professor Dumbledore has proposed. He wishes he could be here to present the idea but more pressing matters have called him away.

Please respond by owl to let me know you will be arriving at eight o’clock.

Yours Sincerely,

Professor Severus Snape

P.S. Elf is bustling about to prepare my humble domicile in the event you accept our invitation.

Elf beamed. ‘Elf be writing good birthday wish. Miss be saying yes.’

Severus sighed and shook his head. He must be daft to take relationship advice from a house-elf, but he had to admit Lily’s house-elf was not the common house-elf.

“Elf, there is a box of books on the bottom bookshelf labelled ‘Muggle Authors’. I would like three or four of those books arranged near the fireplace – and place a couple of the books in the red and gold room, as well. I am sure you will find some by Jane Austen,” he instructed. A wry smile crept across his features as he contemplated Granger’s amusement at finding the bat of the dungeons in possession of books by her favourite author. A few touches here and there would turn the dungeon quarters into a comfortable, inviting living space – perfect for a birthday to remember.

“Yes, Master Professor,” replied Elf, a bemused smile on her face.

‘Master Professor be remembering Elf be saying Miss like books.’

She popped away to begin preparations, knowing that Miss would be coming tomorrow tonight.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Hermione awakened early on her birthday knowing that today would be only another day as far Ron and Harry were concerned.

At breakfast, an owl delivered birthday wishes from her parents, which elicited an embarrassed and belated “happy birthday” from Ron and Harry. She thanked them perfunctorily and made to gather her belongings before heading to Potions class. But just as she was packing up, a solitary, hawk-like owl hovered overhead and dropped a large green envelope with silver writing smack-bang in front of her.

She stared at it in disbelief – the spidery handwriting – it was from Professor Snape! She felt the boys’ curious eyes on her. What could he want that was so important to send a letter by owl? She reached for it hesitantly. ‘I hope it is not a request to work together.’ Once the Pensieve scenes corroborated what her subconscious had hinted at, she felt self-conscious about being alone with him.

“Well, aren’t you going to open it?” asked Ron and Harry in unison.

“I’ve got some last minute notes to make for Potions,” she responded as she snatched up the missive, hoping they would not see the handwriting.

She arrived in class before Professor Slughorn, took her seat, pulled out her quill, and commenced to write, but she could not overcome her disappointment. They hadn’t even remembered.

Had it been Ron’s or Harry’s birthday she would have remembered, but to them, she was an afterthought. Would it have been too much to have hoped they would have suggested celebrating her coming of age? Lost in thought, she shoved her books aside and tapped the pencil absentmindedly as her mood deepened.

“Grow up and get over it – right. It’s not important. Birthday parties are for children, and today I am no longer a child! “Yes! Finally! I AM AN ADULT!” she exclaimed, taking a deep breath and holding her head a little higher.

‘So, why don’t I feel ecstatic?’ she asked herself. ‘Because with maturity comes responsibility, a sobering thought, and I will have to take Snape’s admonishments seriously. There will be no more excuses for not thinking. I must act responsibly and think of the consequences before doing.’

Hermione bent over the parchment and started a list: Think before speaking, weigh outcome before acting, put the good of all before my own personal pleasure…in other words, act responsibly and be the best person I can be. What more can Snape expect? Snape…. She had almost forgotten the envelope.

Hesitantly, she opened the envelope to reveal a single sheet of parchment with the embossed letterhead of Slytherin House.

Her eyes opened wide then wider and wider. Oh, merde, if she had read it earlier she would have had time to send an owl – now she would have to wait until noontime. She hurriedly took out her best parchment and quill, but she drew a blank. What was behind this odd invitation? There was only one way to find out.

Hermione sighed, “I am an adult, and I will act like an adult. No more hiding and hoping that this mess I have gotten myself into goes away. I will meet with him. At some point in the evening, I will bring up the subject of our shared thought experiment. And that will lead to asking him about the memory I saw of us together. Hermione nervously chewed the end of her quill. “If that goes well, I will ask him what he meant by telling the Dark Lord that my mind could be easily manipulated.”

She twirled her quill trying to find the right words but finally settled for the usual, dull invitation acceptance wording.

Dear Professor Snape,

Thank you for your kind birthday wishes.

I accept your gracious invitation to dine this evening.

I am looking forward to seeing you and Elf at eight o’clock.


Miss Hermione Granger
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Professor Snape withdrew a flask from his robes and poured a measured amount into his cup. Just as he was about to down the potion, Slughorn laid a hand on his arm, saying, “Ah, Severus, a Pepper-Up Potion? Keeping late nights are you?”

Snape turned towards Slughorn and scowled. “Late nights and even longer days,” he replied, tossing back the liquid.

“It is not every professor that is given the opportunity to take on such a lovely, gifted, young apprentice as Miss Granger.” His meaning was not lost on Snape.

“Severus, my boy, be careful not to take too much – disastrous effects from an overdose can cause…. The swooping owl distracted Slughorn’s attention.

Snape downed the second dose and missed seeing the school owl unceremoniously drop an envelope in front of him.

Snape pretended not to hear and quaffed the potion. Returning the cup to the table, he turned to Slughorn and retorted, “I take solace wherever I can find it. An overdose is the least of my worries.”

“So I see, my boy, so I see,” he replied, raising an eyebrow and pursing his lips as he leaned over Severus’ shoulder to see the writing on the envelope.

“It looks as if Miss Granger has owled you. Hmm…. What could she possibly want that is so urgent that she had to send it by unscheduled post?”

“I can assure you that it is nothing that would be of interest to you.” Snape snatched the letter and made to leave.

“Don’t be too sure of yourself, Severus. You have to nip these things in the bud. Do not let them go too far, or you will regret the consequences. We’ve all had it happen, the silly schoolgirl crush, but it cannot be encouraged,” he replied, his eyes taking on a dreamy quality as he drifted back to his early teaching years.

“Ah, yes, I remember Lolita Desideria…lovely young girl…. School rules and such, but then you know all about school rules,” he said smiling knowingly, returning to the present.

“You would do well to keep Miss Granger at arm’s length and find your solace in that bottle,” admonished Slughorn, with a wry smile, pointing to the flask.

“We would not want to see history repeat itself, now would we?” he said good-naturedly, slapping Severus lightly on the shoulder.

“Thank you, Horace. I will remember your wise counsel should I ever find myself in such a circumstance,” replied Snape acerbically as he hurried to remove himself from Slughorn's presence.

Professor Snape, apprehensive over the contents of the envelope, made quick time getting to his quarters.

Nervously, he slit the edge and removed the single sheet of parchment.

His eyes closed, and he let out a sigh of relief. She accepted! A resolute look in his eye, he hurried into his laboratory.

Bending down on one knee and stretching his arm, he reached way back into the farthest recesses of the cupboard for the vase. Gingerly he carried it to the bench and poured a millilitre into a clean beaker.

He needed no books or handwritten notes for this potion. The details were burned into his brain. There was barely time to brew the potion in time for this evening’s festivities.

He knew exactly where to find a charmed snitch with a hollow centre, strung on a gold chain, to contain the potion.

Assembling the tools and ingredients beforehand would lessen the preparation time, and he could return after the last class to commence brewing. Two unique ingredients were required.

Why he had saved it, he was not sure – some inner voice or premonition. He had noticed it as he stored the memory in the Pensieve, and had retrieved and safely stowed the item. It would be the final ingredient, added when the brew began bubbling, in the Omnia Vincit Amor potion.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Hermione, can I borrow your notes from Potions class today?” asked Ron.

“Oh, Ron, don’t you ever do anything for yourself?” she asked. The exasperation evident in her tone caused Ron to wince, but he persevered.

“I was hoping we could study them together.”

“Ron, I can’t! I have to….”

“I know. You have to go see him again. If Snape is such a hot shot Potions master, why does he need your help all the time? Cripe, Hermione! It’s starting all over again,” he fumed, stomping off, hands dug into his pockets. The school year had barely started, and his two best mates were avoiding him – Harry with the Prince and Hermione with the git.

“Ron, I don’t have time for this; here is a copy of my notes,” she said, running up to him and shoving the requested notes at his back. “Don’t wait up!”

She ran up the steps, angry that Ron could push her buttons so well. Once inside she began to panic. She had nothing to wear. She ran over to the wardrobe and started pulling out one drab school robe then another – a pair of jeans, no, two pairs of jeans. Three jumpers, two skirts…. Where were the dresses? She was certain she had packed one or two. Swish…swish – and what about shoes? Merde! Why hadn’t she listened to her mother?

‘Breathe, Hermione. Breathe.’

Yule Ball! Maybe it would still fit. She dug deeper until she unearthed the elegant gown that had made her feel like a princess. On the top shelf, she found the shoebox – the glittery sandals she had worn when she danced with Viktor.

‘What am I going to do with my hair?’

Everyone in the common room would see her leaving. Ron would make a crass comment. It would not do to leave through the common room in formal evening attire.

She tried the dress on – mercifully, it still fit – a little snug at the bodice, but it fit.

Emptying her book bag, she put a charm on the dress not to wrinkle and carefully placed it in the bag with the shoes. She rifled through her dresser and found the necessary items for sweeping her hair up.
She would have time to go to the laboratory and change. Professor Snape might be there. That would not do, either.

Hermione pursed her lips in thought; just this once will be all right. I’m not doing her any harm by asking for a favour. Besides, it might not work this way. I am not her mistress.

As the words left her lips, Hermione felt a pang of guilt over SPEW, “Elf, I need you,” she whispered.


Elf appeared in a freshly laundered Slytherin green tea towel, party hat perched at a rakish angle on her head. Bowing, she asked, “How’s Elf being of service to Miss?”
She continued to bow but cocked her head just enough to see Miss. Her little heart did a big flip-flop of disappointment. Miss not ready for party. Miss not look happy.

“Elf, I hope you won’t be upset with me…”

Thinking her birthday wish had been bad, the little house-elf ran to a corner of the room and started banging her head. “Bad Elf. Elf Bad. Write bad letter. Bad. Bad. Miss not be coming. Miss not being happy,” she wailed, banging her head against the wall.

She saw her last chance of someday belonging to a family slipping away. She had not felt this unhappy since leaving Mistress. Master Professor be needing Miss. Elf be needing Miss.

Hermione felt guilty at causing the little creature pain. “I’m so sorry; I should never have called you. Please, can you forgive me?” She should have gone to supper in her usual attire – through the common room and down the stairs. None of this would have happened. She grabbed her school bag, emptied the contents and turned to hang the dress back in the closet.

Elf heard the closet door open. Out of the corner of her eye, she looked to see what Miss was doing. When she saw Miss returning the dress to the closet, she shrieked and cried louder. Elf ran to Miss and clung to her legs crying. “No, Miss. Come see Elf tonight. Elf make plan. Elf help.”

“You still want me to come after the way I upset you?” she asked incredulously.

“Yes, Elf be wanting Miss come. Elf be making hair nice. Miss wear pretty dress. Elf be liking pretty dress. Master Professor be liking pretty dress. Elf magic make happiness.”

Hermione had to laugh. She wasn’t sure who would be happier to see her tonight – Professor Snape or Elf. Somehow, she thought Elf would be the more pleased.

“Thank you, Elf. I do need your help though.”

Hermione retrieved the dress and hurriedly began changing. “We don’t have much time; it is almost eight o’clock,” she said breathlessly.

“Elf no need time. Elf use magic.”
Elf popped up on the dresser, hairbrush in hand, and made a few brush strokes upwards, sweeping Hermione’s curls into a soft off centre ponytail, held by a band and secured with pins that magically appeared. The long strands hung loose and low over her left shoulder. A few tendrils escaped on the right side giving her an enchanting, romantic look. Elf snapped her fingers. One. Two. Three. Done.

“Miss beautiful,” said Elf softly.

“Thank you, Elf. I love the hairstyle,” she breathed, taking a quick look in the mirror. “We must go. Can you Apparate us to the Professor’s door?”

“Yes, Miss. Elf Apparate.”


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

After his last Dark Arts class for the day, Professor Snape returned to his quarters to make the final preparation for the evening. First, he perused his wardrobe for casual attire that would put her at ease – something more like the dunderheaded duo would wear and less like the mean-tempered, greasy git he was perceived to be by his students.

He had never given much thought to his clothing. His daily life required simple clothing – teaching robes, a frock coat, trousers, and white shirts. He regretted not giving more thought to his attire earlier.

Discerning one item from the other was proving difficult; all of the garments, except the shirts, were black. Way at the back of the wardrobe, where he shoved those years ago, he found the perfect pair of woollen trousers and jumper – in his favourite colour – black. He decided now was the perfect time to wear the gift she had given him years ago. But for the life of him, he could not remember the name of the fastening mechanism on the garment. As an afterthought, he added a white cambric shirt to the ensemble.

He quickly changed as there was barely time to complete the potion before the guest of honour arrived. He was thankful he had the foresight to gather the ingredients beforehand. As he was leaving his bedchamber, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and was taken aback at the wizard scowling back at him.

"Dear, Merlin! One look at you and she will turn on her heel and run!" pronounced the mirror.

Until now Snape had never given much thought to the way he looked, but he had to agree with the mirror’s assessment of his appearance.

"I am deluding myself if I think Granger will accept the apprenticeship," he sighed, tugging at the fastening mechanism trying to make his appearance less formidable - little more white shirt – less black. He tugged and fidgeted with the zipper, but the look was missing something - ah - the buttons.  He unbuttoned the top button of the white shirt. Hmmm. Better. He undid another and another. Yes. Definitely better.

He straightened to his full height and tilted his chin. Maybe there was hope after all - but his hair was detracting from the total look. There was no time to do much with it - maybe a cleansing spell. What were those things that Granger used to keep her hair out of her face when she brewed? He went in search of a band he could use to tie it back. The first drawer he opened in the red and gold room held a variety of hair accessories. He sorted through them and selected a cord of braided leather. This would do nicely. He tied his hair back at the nape of his neck then checked the result in the mirror. Better - except for a few short hairs that escaped. After finger arranging the errant strands he decided to leave them as they gave his face a less severe look. Pleased with his outward appearance, he gave his reflected image a self-satisfied smile then strode off to his laboratory to begin brewing Granger's gift.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

When the antidote was finished, he took great care to place it within easy reach. Timing was of the utmost importance. It was imperative that he consume it as soon as the potion was completed. He prepared himself mentally and cleared his mind of all thoughts save those of Granger.

He selected the ingredients in the order in which he had laid them out. His timing was impeccable. He was confident that he would meet his deadline.

Severus rolled up his left sleeve before opening the vial containing Hermione’s essence. Next, he took a small needle and made a pin pick in the fourth finger of his left hand.

Taking a breath, concentrating only on his feelings, he began chanting the spell that would ensure the protection of the one person he had come to care for more than life itself.

O wicked fates…I beg of thee.

Three stirs clockwise.

Upon this kindly.

One stir counter-clockwise.

For on a wizard’s oath tis giv.

Wispy, silvery spirals of steam leapt from the cauldron and wrapped around the length of the bared arm that held the wand.

And solemnly tis sworn.

The spirals tightened and dug deep into the skin, causing angry, red gashes. Snape took a sharp, sudden breath. The casting was beginning to take its’ toll. He lurched forward, awkwardly grabbing the edge of the table to steady him.

He readied his mind and willingly accepted his fate as he gripped the table and continued.

With whole heart and passionately,

His brow was starting to perspire.
My soul pleads unselfishly.

His knees trembled and his breathing was short and shallow.

Per Digitus Medicinalis – De Vena Amoris!

Seven drops of blood from the pinpricked finger dripped into the cauldron. The potion began to bubble and hiss.

Three stirs clockwise.

And beggeth thee restore.

One stir counter-clockwise.

He blinked. Between the steam from the cauldron and the perspiration, running into his eyes, his vision was becoming impaired. He took a deep breath and summoned all the strength he could muster and reached for the vial.
Professor Snape picked up the vial containing the long curly brown hair that had wrapped itself around one of his buttons, the evening of Miss Granger’s detention.

The heart, the soul of one so dear.

He grimaced. The pain wracking his body was almost unbearable, making it difficult to articulate the spell. ‘Dear Merlin, give me strength, I cannot fail!’ He gasped and took several breaths, his hand trembling as he reached for a tiny pair of tweezers.

You are mine and I am yours.

Using the tweezers, his hand trembling, he retrieved the precious element.

My life…my love….
My Hermione.

He watched as the thin, curly brown strand floated into the bubbling brew and disappeared.

Three stirs clockwise.

One stir counter-clockwise.

“Ohm-nee-ah – Vin-say. Ohm-nee-ah – Vin-say. Ohm-nee-ah Vin-say Ah-mour. Ohm-nee-ah Vin-say Ah-mour,” he chanted with conviction.

Three slow stirs counterclockwise.

The potion turned a brilliant green, bubbled and gave off a silvery sheen. It was a powerful potion.

‘I am bound for eternity to protect Hermione.’
One slow stir counter-clockwise.

The sound of his blood roared in his ears, and an eerie green glow surrounded him – the sign of a Wizard’s Oath.

The spirals loosened and Snape collapsed catching the edge of the table. He reached for the antidote. His fingers closed around the vial, but his fingers flexed against an empty palm. He blinked and refocused, but the vial appeared to be smaller and farther away from him. He felt himself slipping away from consciousness. ‘I need to rest a…moment. Hermione…here…soon….'

He tried calling out to his house elf, but he was too weak. ‘Elf,’ he mouthed silently, sliding to the cold, stone floor.

Her name, unspoken, had briefly formed on his lips, but she was at his side. Elf, horrified at the thought of losing another Master, summoned the bottle. Deftly, she lifted his head and put a few drops between her Master Professor’s lips. Elf worried. She could not lose another Master. His skin had a slight bluish cast, and his hands were ice cold. She forced him to take a few more drops. His pupils were dilated, but she could discern a slight, thready pulse. She breathed a sigh of relief when his eyelids fluttered as she put a few more drops of potion in his mouth.

“Thank you, Elf,” he said in a husky whisper. He thanked her now, but what would he say when he discovered she had used magic in his laboratory. Maybe he would never know. Maybe.

Within a few minutes, she managed to get him to consume the dregs of the antidote and brought him up to a sitting position. Elf, a firm hold on Master Professor, Apparated to the door to greet their guest.
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