Archive: Sycophant Hex: Ashwinder (Alternate Universe)
Title: Chapter 4b A Night to Remember (second half, chapter 4 of 23)
Summary: Professor Snape presents Hermione with the apprenticeship documents and cautions her to wait until morning to sign them. Hermione works up the courage to talk about the Pensieve memory that is causing her embarrassment.
Word Count: 5107
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I’m just borrowing some of JKR’s characters for a little story. This Chapter is out of order if you use the arrows at the top. This chapter is the second half of Chapter 9. It was too long to fit in one post.
* * *
Her enthusiasm dimmed as she realized it covered every aspect of her daily life. Oh, no…she had not thought she would be required to sever friendships. However, there it was – she would be taking lodging and meals in the dungeons. Hermione's brow furrowed as she continued to read the curiously worded paragraph near the bottom:‘Duties of said Apprentice are subject to change should the wizarding world be thrown into upheaval and turmoil.The contract may be terminated by written consent of all parties involved or in the event of the demise of the said Apprentice.
In the event of the demise of her said Master, the terms of said contract will be renegotiated with the Potions Masters of Bang and Gore Pharmaceuticals, London, England.’
Hermione bit her bottom lip. The phrasing hit a raw nerve and rubbed her nose in reality. Harry, Ron, and she had been involved in several dangerous escapades in an effort to thwart Voldemort’s plan to take over the wizarding world. They had encountered close calls – like the night Dumbledore’s Army invaded the Ministry. Harry had taken Sirius’ death very hard. Now she was forced to face the hard reality that she and her friends might not survive.
“Is there a problem, Miss Granger?” he asked, a hint of irritation in his voice.
“Yes. This contract requires that I disassociate myself from my friends! I cannot do that! I am being isolated from everyone!”
“Then perhaps I have not chosen as wisely as I thought. If that is a problem for you, sign the refusal now and be done with it,” he responded coolly, his lip curling in a sneer.
He reached out to retrieve the parchment. Cautioning himself to remain in control of the situation, he fixed her with a dark look of proper contempt mingled with a dose of pure loathing. He was adaptable and quite capable of practicing detachment with an air of authority. His years spent in the company of Death-Eaters served him well in moments such as this. To all outward appearances he was the epitome of a cruel, cold-hearted, and unfeeling authoritarian. This persona could not be farther from the truth; his outward calm appearance and constraint belied the passionate turmoil boiling below the surface.
Hermione felt caught between her desire for the apprenticeship and her desire to be with her friends in Gryffindor Tower. She mulled over the alternatives. She understood why it was required, but it did not make it any easier.
“Will I be given free time to spend as I please?” she asked, protectively hugging the contract to her chest.
“Miss Granger, you will be an indentured servant - not a house-elf! Of course you will have private time,” he snarled. Sometimes she tried his patience.
“Very well. I accept,” she answered, picking up the quill to sign.
Professor Snape let out the breath he did not realize he had been holding. ‘She accepted. Thanks be to Merlin!’ Still he found the need to goad her one more time.
“Miss Granger, are you not being a tad hasty?” interrupted the professor. “After all, it is a seven-year contract, covering every aspect of your daily life, and it is magically binding.
Resolutely, Hermione picked up the quill and signed her name to the documents with a flourish.
“Thank you for the opportunity, Professor,” she replied, handing back the parchments.
The professor accepted it without a word but gave her a long look. It had been too easy. He had been certain she would argue over the terms, but she had surprised him.
“I have a birthday present for you,” he said, scraping back his chair. Snape went to the sideboard and picked up a small, delicately wrapped package in Slytherin green wrapping paper and a silver ribbon.
“I wanted you to have this, and I thought your birthday would be the perfect opportunity to present it to you. I hope this…” he said handing her the small box.
Hermione accepted the present. Looking up at him, she smiled. “Thank you, Professor. The supper…this whole evening…it’s been…delightful. I didn’t expect a present.”
She opened the box and saw the necklace of filigree chain with a pendant in the shape of a golden snitch. She lifted it from the folds of the cloth and started to examine it, but Snape took it from her fingers saying, “This is a very special piece. It was custom crafted especially for you.”
He whispered what sounded to Hermione like an incantation, under his breath, as he moved to fasten it around her throat. Hermione could not hear the words, but she felt heat radiate throughout her body. The warm sensation started around her neck, then up over her face, to the very tip top of her head before slowly spreading over her shoulders, then slowly flowed down her arms, midsection, and down her legs, spreading to her toes. It felt like something warm was flowing over her and slowly seeping into every pore of her body.
“Promise me that you will never remove this chain,” he said in a hushed tone.
Hermione thought this was an odd request.
“Promise me!” He hissed into her ear, his fingers digging into her shoulders.
Hermione hesitated. His breath was warm on her neck.
“Promise me!” he said more insistently, his voice filled with raw emotion.
“Yes, Professor, I promise not to remove it.”
“And don’t allow anyone to remove it from you.”
“Do you understand me?”
A tingling feeling began in the tips of his fingers then slowly spread throughout his entire body. She had accepted his gift – he was satisfied.
He turned to face her. Taking both her hands in his, he looked deeply into her eyes. “Do you know why Hermione?” he asked softly, staring into her hypnotic brown eyes.
“That surprises me.”
“I am sorry, sir.”
“The pendant contains a potion brewed specifically for you. It is more than a potion; it is an essence – that will restore you to full health should you suffer a fatal injury.”
Hermione looked confused.
“Well, if I have suffered a fatality, how is it I will be able to partake of the potion?”
“You do not have to do anything. Once I have placed it upon your person, all you have to do is believe.”
“What would happen if I removed it?”
“Removing the chain would be a figurative slap in my face. The potion would lose its power and become inert. It would mean you no longer believe in me…in my ability to save you.”
Hermione looked up at him and swallowed hard, her heart pounding. Her eyes misted as she stared into his dark eyes.
“Thank you, sir. I don’t know what to say. This must have…you must have…” She felt his hold on her tighten as he pulled her to him, and she knew. She knew what this had cost him. There was more to it than the giving of his essence to ensure her survival. He had made a magical commitment that could not be broken.
The warm sensation she had felt as the professor fastened the chain around her throat began again. Only this time, intense warmth radiated to the very tips of her fingers. She felt energized. It was electrifying. ‘If I touch something, will there be a spark?’ she wondered. Waves of warmth travelled over her again, and Hermione experienced the feeling of protection. It was euphoric and made her eyes light up. Hermione was having difficulty focusing on the professor’s words. ‘Get hold of yourself,’ she scolded.
“Hermione, you must survive the senseless war looming on the horizon. It is coming, and it will not go well for the wizarding world. I must do whatever I have to do to keep you safe and see that you survive…not like…” He stopped and swallowed hard, but he continued to hold her close and stroke her hair.
Hermione unconsciously snuggled closer to him and closed her eyes. Her world was perfect. He was everything she had ever dreamed about. She knew she was where she belonged, with whom she belonged. Hermione breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly as she nestled into the softness of his jumper. His familiar aromas intoxicated her mind. There was a smell of masculinity about him. It was a warm, earthy, musky smell with a hint of patchouli and something more…a familiar, pleasant smell of sweat and musky maleness. Breathing in his intoxicating scent increased the intensity of her feelings for him.
“I doubt that I will live to see the end,” he said softly.
The implication of his comment hit her like a Bludger. She tried to focus on happier thoughts, but her eyes teared.
Hermione could not imagine Hogwarts without Professor Snape. As much as she thought she disliked him, now she knew differently. Her admiration had turned to loving affection. The room was closing in on her, and she could not breathe.
Refusing to believe his words, she gazed at him a moment then looked away, lowering her head. “No, Professor, please…don’t say that. You cannot mean it. We need you…I need you.” She closed her eyes as a single tear trickled down her cheek.
"Please, do not cry, little one,” he said, wiping the tear away with his thumb. “Our destinies were written before we were born, and the saga will play out as intended.” He held her close, his arms around her shoulders, gently rocking her, tenderly rubbing her back, and stroking her hair. He felt her shudder as she leaned into him. He brought his lips close to her then lightly kissed her forehead.
“Hush, little one.” he whispered. He had a reason to want to survive, but would he?
Hermione tried to hold back the tears. Her lower lip quivered. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand. When she thought she had herself under control, his softly spoken words echoed in her mind, ‘I doubt that I will live to see the end.’ She frantically wiped at her eyes and cheeks. Shaking her head, she whispered, “Please, say it is not so...please…please…. I…I cannot lose…you. Life will not…be the same without you.”
‘My regards for you stretch the boundaries of what is considered proper behaviour towards a professor. I pray to Merlin to find the courage to tell you that I desire you in the way a witch yearns for her wizard. I want to feel your lips on mine, your body pressed against me, and your arms holding me tightly. But I fear you will reject me or worse yet – ridicule me.’
Hermione bent her head and sifted her right hand through her curls, her fingers stopping to investigate a small bump at the hairline. As her fingers explored the lump, she felt it pulsate and grow warm.
Professor Snape placed a hand under her chin. He brought her head up to face him. Hermione looked into his eyes and saw a look of pure adoration. Delicately, he traced the outline of her lower lip with his thumb. He could hear her voice as if she were speaking to him. He felt a flutter of hope in his heart. There was a remote chance he could find happiness.
‘I, too, have fantasized, but I never dared to dream you might reciprocate my feelings. I would neither reject nor ridicule you, little one. I care for you deeply, and I was a stupid git for blurting out that insensitive remark. It was unthinking of me. Dear Merlin, what have I done to deserve you? How have I evoked such emotion in you?’
“Little one, please don’t…nothing has happened yet…. We don’t know for certain…. Please, do not look sad.
“Hermione, I am sorry that I was a prat and upset you. Today is your birthday. Only pleasant thoughts should be running through your beautiful mind!”
His comment took her quite by surprise. It made her smile. She took a deep breath and nodded.
‘I just signed away the next seven years of my life to a wizard who responds by saying that he doubts he will live that long. Is he really that insensitive?’
Right this very minute, she felt very alone.
‘I don’t belong anywhere. I can’t go back to Gryffindor Tower. I have no home. Perhaps I was a bit hasty to sign. But, it is a dream come true opportunity. Me – an apprentice to Professor Snape! I will take whatever I can get, for as long as I can have it!’
Her smile faded prompting him to ask, “What is wrong, Hermione? Are you having second thoughts about signing the apprenticeship documents?”
She looked at him and then at the floor. “Yes and no. Yes, I am sorry I did not plan better. I should have said good-bye to my friends, packed my belongings, made arrangements for Crookshanks, and then signed the contract. And, no, I am not sorry, because I have been dreaming of being your apprentice since we brewed the Wolfsbane Potion together,” she finished, looking up at him shyly.
There was adoration in her eyes that made the professor swallow hard, as he looked into those chocolate brown pools of liquid loveliness.
Holding her wrists, he spoke calmly to her, “Hermione, please…” His eyes were inches from hers. He saw concern and fear in her eyes and felt her body tremble.
“I know what you are going to say. You are right. I didn’t think.
“Please…. I don’t want to go to Bang and Gore. I only want my apprenticeship with you. Only YOU!” Her eyes possessively locked onto him. Gold flecks sparkled in the brown pools urging him to seek a solution that would ensure his survival.
“You won’t have to. I will be here for you, Hermione. I will find a way.”
‘I wish I had known I was going to meet Hermione Granger before I took that vow with Albus.’
His breathing quickened, his heart pounded, as he watched the rise and fall of her breasts – the same breasts that he had watched spill out of her nightdress.
He coughed and said, “You have had a very tiring day. I think it best if you get a good night’s rest. Perhaps, a Calming Draught is in order.” ‘On second thought, perhaps I need the Calming Draught.’
Hermione’s eyes clouded as the professor let loose of her wrists; she did not want to be medicated. She wanted Professor Snape to hold her and tell her everything was going to be okay. ‘Why can he not see that I want him to hold me and tell me what I want to hear?’
“What...what about tonight?” she persisted.
“What about it?” he asked, turning towards her with a puzzled look on his face.
“Where am I to sleep?”
Looking at her, his gut clenched in response to the question. 'What is she asking? Surely she doesn't expect to....' Elf had readied the room, but he had not counted on Granger signing the contract tonight. He had assumed she would take it back to Gryffindor Tower to study. Damn it! The document was signed. She was officially his apprentice, and he was responsible for her every need. That need at the moment was a place to sleep tonight.
“Well – uh - I...guess...stay, of course,” he managed to choke out, his voice husky and strange sounding to himself.
“Then I do not need a Calming Draught. But I would like one of Elf’s luscious looking, chocolate covered strawberries,” she said brightly, her brown eyes glistening in the firelight.
Staying the night had not been on her mind when she left the Gryffindor common room.
“And, you shall, but first, you might want to change into something warmer. You have goose bumps on your arms, little one,” he laughed nervously.
“I did not bring anything – not even a wrap.”
“I believe you signed a document that stated, ‘Said Apprentice will be provided food, clothing, shelter and an education as deemed necessary by her said Master.’
“Well, then. Go to your room. You will find clothing suitable for the cold, dank dungeons.”
“Yes…your apprentice lodgings. You haven’t forgotten where your room is located have you? Because, if you have, Elf can….”
“Oh, of course…my room. It had not occurred to me that my room would be in your rooms.”
Hermione turned in the direction of the red and gold room with Elf at her heels. ‘My room! Oh, gods!’
As Hermione opened the door, a ball of ginger fur leaped off the bed and ran towards her.
“Crookshanks! How did you get here?”
“Elf be fetching Crookshanks. Master Professor be saying Miss be coming to live with Elf. Elf be fetching Miss’s things.”
“Thank you, Elf,” she said as she opened the wardrobe.
“Miss, Elf be saying Miss pretty.”
Elf grabbed Hermione’s hand and led her to the bed where Elf had laid out an outfit.
“Miss be keeping warm. Miss be wearing this,” she said authoritatively.
She heard the bolt on the other side of the door to the lavatory slide. ‘The next thing I know, he will be making a list of house rules for me to sign.’
Hermione laughed. “Oh, Elf, you do have an eye for fashion. All right. It certainly is warmer than what I have on. I almost forgot how cold these dungeons are at night.”
Hermione quickly changed. When she heard the bolt to the lavatory slide again, she decided to freshen up before returning.
She was greeted with a note stuck on the mirror. It read: Lavatory Rules
‘I will study them tomorrow.’
When they returned to the sitting area, the professor was seated comfortably on a cushion near the fireplace. He stood up gracefully as Hermione and Elf entered the room.
“Thank you, professor. You thought of everything – even Crookshanks.” Hermione’s brown eyes sparkled with excitement as she made a flirty twirl to show off her new skirt and jumper.
“You are welcome, Hermione. I must say you look lovely. Are you warmer now?” A slight smile played around the corners of his mouth as he watched her.
“Thank you. Yes, I am."
He placed the dish of strawberries on a low table and refilled their glasses.
“I probably should not drink any more champagne. I think the bubbles are making me a bit dizzy.”
“Yes, fizzy champagne has the same properties as elf wine – the bubbles – pure carbon dioxide. Would you like a strawberry instead?” he asked, offering her the dish.
“That would be a more wise choice,” agreed Hermione, remembering the scene in the laboratory the evening of Slughorn’s dinner party, as she selected a berry. She seated herself in one of the wingback chairs near the fireplace, closed her eyes, her tongue gently caressing the fruit, savouring the flavours of the slowly melting chocolate, before gently biting into it - releasing its juices.
“These are delicious!” she exclaimed as she delicately licked chocolate from her lips. She opened her eyes to see Professor Snape unabashedly staring at her. She started to speak, but the warm, passionate gaze he was bestowing on her person made her feel self-conscious. It conjured up memories of the evening they brewed the Wolfsbane and more recently the evening of Slughorn’s supper when they exchanged lively, provocative banter over the moving boxes.
He dropped his gaze and moved to place more cushions on the floor near the fireplace then lowered himself to the floor, taking great pains to face away from her.
“If you live in the dungeons long enough, you will be accustomed to the chill, damp air. A well-built fire helps keep the cold at bay,” he explained, sipping his champagne.
“Hermione, there is a little champagne left. Would you like a refill? It pairs beautifully with the strawberries,” he suggested, trying to remove the mental image of Granger tonguing the luscious fruit.
“No more than halfway, please,” she responded languidly, “I would not want to repeat the mistakes I made that night in your laboratory,” she finished mischievously the golden flecks dancing in her eyes. ‘Dear Merlin! Why did I mention that?’
He kept silent, but reached up to top off her glass then turned his attention to the glowing embers.
An awkward silence crept over them. The professor, oblivious to his surroundings, stared into the flames as they licked up the walls of the vertical fireplace.
Hermione contemplated the bubbly liquid in her glass. She caught herself wishing she were back in the Gryffindor common room comfortably ensconced in her favourite chair reading - anything was better than this odd silence.
She found herself focusing on Professor Snape seated by the fireplace. He appeared to be mesmerized by the flames licking up the interior walls. She had many unanswered questions but did not feel comfortable enough to ask him. She would have preferred to be sitting on the floor next to him and not have this distance between them.
She caught herself wondering what it would be like to sit next to him on the floor - close - close enough to lean her head on his shoulder. ‘Maybe he would raise his arm and draw me close to his body. Closing her eyes, she imagined how it would feel to gently nuzzle his neck - that area of exposed skin above the roll neck of his jumper - breathing in his intoxicating scent. The tip of her tongue reaching to delicately lick at his ear lobe would interrupt his fascination with the flames, and he would turn to look at her, his eyes filled with burning desire. Her breath would catch as they stared at each other in full recognition that each desired the other. Drawing her roughly to him, her neck arched to allow full access to the hollow of her throat, he would pull her jumper to the side and press a kiss on her neck...then another...and another....’
Hermione moaned softly, but audibly. Her eyes opened wide; her pupils dilated. She realized she had been having an erotic daydream about her professor. The object of her affection turned in her direction, and his eyes locked onto hers.
“It is an art…much like the brewing of potions,” he said in a hushed tone, intently studying her facial features. His eyes bored into her.
“What...is...an art?” she asked breathlessly. A feeling of euphoria and warmth quickly spread over her body. ‘This is not the way I imagined this evening would progress,’ she thought, trying to suppress the feelings of desire bubbling just below the surface.
“The art of building a fire,” came his silky reply.
“Oh,” she breathed, not trusting herself to say more.
“Building a successful fire requires the same practices as does brewing a successful potion: proper ingredients, correct equipment, adherence to prescribed procedures, awareness of the rules of nature, and a gift for minding the particulars,” he explained pedantically.
“You build your fires without using magic?” she asked in a whisper.
“I do,” he replied, taking a sip from his glass. “Why not join me here, Hermione,” he asked, in a seductive tone. “I will tell you how I learned to build a fire,” he added, patting the pillow next to him.
Hermione looked at the place he indicated and then back at him. Earlier in the day he had been her Dark Arts teacher, and she had been addressing him as Professor Snape. Fantasizing about sitting next to him on the floor was one thing, but it was quite another to actually do what she had been thinking. What if the situation got out of control? What would she do then?
He sensed her hesitation and said, “Hermione, we are going to be working and living in close quarters, and this new arrangement is going to feel awkward at first. How can we expect to work closely in the laboratory if you cannot even bring yourself to sit next to me? Have I somehow offended you?” he asked, incredulously.
“No, sir. It is me. I’m not sure I can…. All right.” As she sat down she wondered since he was using her given name, what did he expect her to call him? Now that they had a contract there was most certainly a protocol to follow. She was sure it did not consist of her calling him by his given name.
Seated on the same level, their shoulders barely touching, Hermione felt the need to explain dissipate.
He proceeded to explain to her how his father had taught him as a very young boy to build a proper fire.
“I enjoy the beauty of a well-built fire. The vertical design of this fireplace provides an interesting visual effect. See how the flames lick up high and then higher.” He pointed out the dancing patterns and the shadows they created.
Hermione watched the flickering flames cast their mesmerizing, dancing shadows. “It is beautiful,” she whispered. “Your father must have been very proud of you.”
“He was until the day I disappointed him,” he said curtly.
“How did you disappointment him?”
“We cannot have secrets from each other, Hermione. That is why I am going to tell you the rest of the story.
“I discovered, quite by accident, that I could create a spark and light a fire without the lengthy preparation. Eager to show my father, I ran to find him. I was excited. When I showed him, he became very angry. Needless to say, he was not impressed.”
“Why? I would think he would have considered your accomplishments remarkable, for your age.”
“Not if you are a Muggle, Hermione.”
A look of deep disappointment clouded his eyes. She saw in them the hurt he had felt as a young child. It touched her tenderly.
“A…Mu…Mu…Muggle. You are a….”
“…a half-blood,” he supplied.
“Oh,” she breathed, almost inaudibly. “I never knew. I always thought you were….”
“After that my father could not stand the sight of me.
“I am a half-blood. I am telling you this because it is important to me that your apprenticeship is based on honesty. Likewise, I expect you not to keep secrets from me.”
“I won’t,” she promised.
He lowered his head; his lank hair swung forward to cover his face.
“Childhood trauma can mark a person for life, Hermione,” he said sadly.
‘I know it took courage for him to tell me that. He must be feeling at ease with me. Now that he has shared that story, I feel closer to him. I also sense the loneliness of his life.’
Without thinking, she leaned over and gently brushed the limp strands of hair from his face. Her arm brushed against him. Instantly, she felt a sudden shock.
He made a small, choked sound and inclined his head. He stopped himself as he was about to act on an impulse. Instead, he wrapped his fingers around her wrist and leaned into her.
‘I may not get another opportunity to tell her how I feel. Perhaps it is high time I take a chance.’
She heard his intake of breath and moved closer. She felt his body stiffen.
Without thinking, she lifted her face to him and brushed her lips against his forehead. “Sev…Sev…Severus,” she murmured. ‘Dear Merlin, did I actually say that out loud?’
He brought his arms around her and hugged her to him, resting his head on her shoulder. The delicate aroma of jasmine combined with the bubbles in the champagne made him feel light-headed.
He knew what he wanted to do. But regardless that she was now of age, it would not be fair to put her in that position. She was no longer his student, but she was still in a subservient role. He raised his head and pressed his forehead against hers.
“Professor?” she said in a tiny voice.
“Call me Severus. I want to hear you call me Severus,” he said, his voice husky. He could not help himself. He wanted her – not as an apprentice. He wanted her as a wizard wants his witch. ‘This is not how I imagined this evening would go. But it is the same way I felt the night of her detention. Merlin help me! I do not trust myself with her.’
His breathing came heavier, and he bit his lip. Her words sent a quiver over him and went straight to his core. His grip tightened as he answered, his voice ragged, “Yes, Hermione.”
“I saw a memory. A memory that I think…I think you put it into a Pensieve the night the Dark Lord called you.” Hermione squeezed her eyes shut. It was easier to talk when all she saw was blackness.
His breath hitched.
“Ah, it was…uh, uhm…you and I were there. We were in the Potions classroom. This is not easy for me. I have been haunted by this vision for some time.” ‘Just say it Hermione. Get it out in the open.’
She felt the professor’s breathing quicken, and his arms tightened around her.
“I am not sure exactly what happened, but we were very close…physically very close…and I think we….”
Without thinking, he lowered her to the floor and placed a tender, passionate kiss on her mouth.
His face buried in her hair, he broke away long enough to whisper against her neck, “I am sorry, Hermione. I didn’t mean for this to happen tonight.”
Hermione brought her mouth near his ear and murmured back, “I wanted it to happen. The moment I saw you in the doorway…I wanted you…wanted you to hold me…kiss me…and….” She brushed her lips against his.
As he pressed into her, giving her a slow, open-mouthed kiss, she felt the heat from his body and felt the evidence of his desire. His nearness, combined with the heady aromas she associated only with him, caused Hermione to respond to his touch.
As Hermione arched her back to press against him, Severus groaned audibly before rasping out a response. “Little one, no…you don’t want this. Please…no....”
Hermione slid her hands slowly down his back and pulled him closer. “Prof…Sev…Severus…I know what I am doing.”
Severus looked at her with glazed eyes and hugged her close.
‘Elf magic good.’ Seeing the happiness look on Master Professor’s face, Elf hugged herself with delight, smiling from one perked up elf ear to the other. “Elf have family.” She sighed contentedly as she curled up on a cushion in a corner of the room.