Continuing Tales

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 9 of 23

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Still So, this was it. The event of the year, by all accounts.

Hermione sipped her wine and glanced rather indifferently at the merriment around her. Part of her really wished she hadn't bothered coming, no matter what Snape, or McGonagall for that matter, might have said. To put it frankly, she was bored.

Seeing all her friends had, in part, made up for her lack of inspiration. They'd all been seated close together at dinner, and she'd enjoyed talking and reminiscing. Talking to Ron, however, had been awkward—she'd felt awkward as soon as she'd clapped eyes on him. Luckily, that was about the only thing she'd felt. Hermione was sure she would have had to hex herself if she'd felt a sudden pang of longing or some such other inconvenient emotion.

They'd managed a stilted conversation—the usual pleasantries. But Ron had never been particularly eloquent, and she, for once, hardly knew where to start, so they'd just sat there at a loss.

It was a step forward, though—they were in the same room, after all.

Hermione had a good idea why it had been more awkward than she'd expected. How could she have not anticipated Lavender Brown's presence? She should have prepared herself for it. Having said that, why Lavender had been invited, Hermione didn't know, but she supposed her type of fame must count for something.

Lavender being there had dampened her enthusiasm where Ron was concerned. She considered it must be doubly uncomfortable for him, with two ex-girlfriends in the vicinity, but she wasn't filled with a huge well of sympathy for him.

She missed his friendship, though, however reluctant she was to admit it. Maybe once she left Hogwarts, they could work on becoming proper friends again.

A pink blur caught her eye, and Hermione was pulled from her thoughts. Frozen in complete horror, she was unable to act on the part of her brain that was telling her to 'Move!'

Unless she was very much mistaken, Lavender was making her way directly over to her.

'Well, hello there, Hermione! Long time no see!' Lavender beamed brightly.

Hermione resisted the urge to drown herself in the punchbowl.

'Lavender...' She smiled tightly. 'How lovely to see you again.'

Lavender simpered and pulled Hermione into a hug, squealing, 'Oh, Hermione, look at you! You look the same as you ever did!'

Hermione felt herself colour at the meaning behind Lavender's words. The same could definitely not be said for Lavender. Hermione took in the rather low cut robes, showcasing a curvaceous figure that had drawn many a glance over the course of the night, the flowing blonde hair, and tried not to outwardly grimace—she'd forgotten what it was like to patronised by the likes of Lavender Brown.

'No hard feelings, eh, Hermione? We're both victims here, after all.'

Hermione nearly laughed aloud; Lavender really was priceless—she had more front than Diagon Alley.

'How's the modelling coming along?' she asked, simultaneously wanting to stick her fist down her throat. Why did she always feel the need to make polite conversation? This was the cow partially responsible for stealing away her boyfriend!

'Oh!' Lavender gushed, pouring herself some punch. 'Did you see my interview in Witch Weekly, this week?'

'I don't read it,' Hermione dismissed.

'You don't? Oh, Hermione, what a sweet thing you are! Of course you don't read it.' Lavender smiled broadly. 'Between us, though, I hope Ron doesn't get the wrong impression from it. He's a sweet bloke, but we're not right for each other in the long run. Oh! Maybe you two should try again—I think he still likes you, you know.'

Hermione could only stare at that insanity that was Lavender Brown.

'What have you been up to this past year then? I have been so busy that I haven't been able to keep up with all of my little friends.'

'Potions,' Hermione began, feeling about two-foot high. 'I'm two-thirds of the way through an apprenticeship with Professor Snape, and…' She trailed off in confusion at the sudden wide-eyed look Lavender was sporting. 'What?'

Lavender smirked. 'Professor Snape, eh? You know, I have had my eye on him tonight.'

Hermione felt her stomach jump. 'I'm sorry?'

'Oh yes! What a difference a few years and a change of perspective can make, hmm? There's definitely… something about him, don't you think?'

Hermione fought hard not to gape.

'Don't be so coy, Hermione, you must have thought about it. You've worked with him, after all. It's many a woman's dream to be the one that turns Severus Snape's head.'

'What… it is?'

Lavender smirked. 'But of course; what a challenge to snare the man whose unwavering devotion to one woman is infamous.'

Hermione stared at her former classmate in disbelief, but Lavender was looking out into the sea of people, and Hermione knew she wasn't imagining the predatory edge to her expression.

'Yes, what a success that would be, and what a coup for my… Well, anyway, we shall see what the night brings, but I'd be willing to bet that I could have him by the end of it. What do you say?' Lavender threw Hermione a devious smile.

'I'm not really a betting person…' said Hermione weakly.

'Of course you're not, never mind; see you later!' Lavender winked.

Watching the blonde move off towards the table where Sybill Trelawney sat slumped over a bottle of sherry, Hermione narrowed her eyes. She knew exactly what Lavender had been about to say, "What a coup for my career."

Was that what Ron had been? No, she couldn't think about that now. That whole debacle was done and dusted.

Snape, on the other hand... What she should do? Hermione swirled her drink contemplatively. Images of sordid kiss and tell stories splashed over all manner of Wizarding press flooded her mind, and her heart thumped in her chest. He might even lose his job, she realised. The Daily Prophet would jump on a story like that, and if Lavender twisted things...

Hermione sipped her wine. It might even be the opportunity for those who would like to see him get into more serious trouble. Placing her empty glass on a table, Hermione resolved that she could not let it happen.

Where had he gone? She'd last clocked him conversing with the Headmistress. As she quickly scanned the hall for him, it suddenly dawned on her that she was being rather over the top. After all, this was Severus Snape—he wasn't stupid; he was always on guard! He would be bound to see through the likes of Lavender Brown, and besides, Hermione was sure he wasn't the type to be bowled over by physical attributes alone, if, indeed, anything bowled him over.

But then... there had been that time when he'd teased her about storing magazines in his desk, and she'd never got to the bottom of that. Maybe he hadn't been teasing her.

Hmm, no, she was sure she was being silly; but still, it couldn't hurt to be vigilant.

Eventually, she spied him sitting alone at a table—for the moment. Hermione took a deep breath and smoothed her new robes down—his professional honour and integrity was at stake.

She meandered her way around the dance-floor to the quiet part of the hall, and approached him cautiously. He looked rather pensive, and she wondered for a moment if she should disturb him.

'Hello, Professor Snape.'

He looked up at her. 'Ah, Miss Granger; how are you faring this evening?'

Without waiting for an invitation, Hermione slid into the seat next to him and covertly glanced around the immediate environs—Lavender was nowhere to be seen. 'Oh, I'm fine, good, never better, really.'

Merlin, what was she so nervous about? She turned to find him looking directly at her, and she brushed her hair away from her face repeatedly. 'What?'

Snape shrugged. 'Nothing; you just seem unusually… jittery.'

'Jittery?' Hermione scoffed with raised eyebrows. She suddenly wished she'd brought a drink with her. At least it would have been something with which to occupy her hands, which, granted, were shifting all over the place. 'No no, I'm not jittery, quite the contrary.'

'All right,' he conceded, plainly unconvinced.

Hermione looked to shift the focus from her. 'Is your evening proving to be as bad as you anticipated?'

'Worse,' he admitted grimly, draining his glass.

'Oh.' He was in a lacklustre mood, then. Would that make him more susceptible to Lavender's particular form of flattery, or no? Hermione shook herself mentally; she was thinking herself into knots.

Nothing else was forthcoming from her companion, and so she turned to her attention to everyone else around her. Harry had escaped from being pestered for photos and conversation to dance with Ginny, and they, at least, looked to be enjoying themselves.

Hermione sighed, unable to help but wonder when she herself had become so... dull. Surely she would like to be up there, dancing and having a laugh. She hadn't danced once all evening.

She turned to Snape. 'Look, I'm going to get a drink, do you want…' She suddenly found herself looking straight at Lavender Brown, who was watching them from the other side of the hall.

'I'll have another Firewhisky, thank you.'

'What?' uttered Hermione distantly, immediately tensing when Lavender began walking towards their table. 'What did you say? Look, it's the Easter break, you know—my break, too—you can't order me about now. Get your own drink!'

It was probably the first time in her life she had seen Severus Snape look truly confused.

'You just offered…' He didn't look impressed.

Hermione bit her lip, realising her ridiculousness. 'All right, all right; hang on.' Getting up, she walked as fast as she could to the bar without outright running. Hurry up, hurry up! She tipped a measure of Ogden's into a tumbler, and then unceremoniously sloshed some punch into a goblet. Spinning around on her heel, she came face to face with a chest.

'Oh, Neville!' Hermione put the goblet down and shook her hand free of excess punch, breathing deeply. 'Sorry, Neville—didn't see you there.'

'No problem, Hermione.'

Picking up the goblet again, Hermione froze when she looked across the hall. Lavender had homed in on her prey.

'Bugger!' whispered Hermione in annoyance.

It was no big deal, though; surely Snape would send Lavender on her way, dispatch her with a few choice remarks? He would not be fooled by the expanse of leg on show, or the fluttering eyelashes. He was not like most men—he had principles, and standards, and he… was looking at Lavender Brown's breasts.

Hermione felt herself flush with anger, and she averted her eyes to the drinks she was holding. She'd definitely seen his gaze flick to Lavender's chest—the git! The bloody git! Bravely looking once more towards the pair at the table, Hermione bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. Even from where she was stood, she could easily see the way Lavender giggled coquettishly and the way he smirked knowingly.

Clearly, she'd been too generous in her earlier assessment. Ginny had been right; he was just like the rest of them. Hermione gritted her teeth and began moving across the floor. The urge to get the hell out of there was strong, but while Snape might be inches from losing her respect, it didn't mean she was going to let him make a fool of himself. It was time to run some concerted interference.

Hermione came to stop behind Lavender, purposefully ignoring the dark man next to her.

'Lavender!' interrupted Hermione sweetly. 'You're sitting in my—'

'Hermione! Do you mind? I was just telling Severus about my latest commission at Witch Weekly.'

Severus? Hermione couldn't help it; she immediately looked at the man in question, expecting him to show some sign of affront at Lavender's presumptuousness. She was immensely put out to see him sitting there calmly. He'd never extended to her the liberty of using his first-name, and why the hell did he want to listen to Lavender rabbit on about herself?

It had to be so he could let his eyes wander freely. Merlin, how could she have got it so wrong about him?

She resisted the urge to throw the drinks over both of them, and instead leant over, placing the tumbler in front of him. 'Your whisky, sir.'

Snape looked at her briefly. 'Thank you, Miss Granger.'

'Oh! Did you bring us some drinks? You are a sweetheart, Hermione!' Lavender promptly removed the goblet of punch from Hermione's hand.

'No, that is my…' But Lavender was clearly not listening; she'd already turned back to Snape with a flick of her glossy blonde hair. Hermione fumed silently for a moment, not quite being able to comprehend Lavender's sheer audacity.

'Excuse me, Lavender, but you are—'

Lavender spun round with a frown. 'What is it, Hermione? Severus and I are trying to have a conversation!'

'I said,' Hermione began, bristling, 'that you are sitting in my chair. Can you not see where I left my cardigan on it?'

Lavender giggled. 'Well, I'm sure I didn't notice it, did I, Severus?'

Hermione watched in mounting horror as Lavender reached out and actually patted his thigh. She thought that this time, Snape would surely have some remonstrance to make.

Her blood ran cold when he didn't bat an eyelid. He sipped casually at his whisky, and then looked straight at her.

'There's another seat here, Miss Granger, if you wish to join us.'

Hermione couldn't believe what she was hearing. Was she dreaming this? Holding the black gaze, she wondered what on earth had got into her professor. There was a glint of something in his eyes, but she had no idea what it was. Had he drunk too much? This wasn't characteristic Snape behaviour, was it? Still, the bottom line was that he wasn't going to stick up for her. He was more than happy to let Lavender walk all over her. Well, fine, she would let him make a complete arse of himself.

'No, thank you; I'm quite sure I would have nothing to say that would interest either of you.'

Hermione turned to leave, feeling unaccountably hurt and foolish. She paused, however, when she overheard uncharacteristically muted tones from Lavender. Oh, that was it!

In her mind, she wondered if this would be the moment where the evening went the way of all the others—to disaster. But regardless—there was no way she could stand for it any longer.

Hermione whirled around accusingly. 'What did you say?'

Lavender looked up in surprise. 'Merlin, what are you on about now?'

'What did you just say?' Hermione glared fiercely.

Lavender's expression suddenly turned calculating and she stood up, almost towering over Hermione in her high heels. Hermione wasn't put off one bit.

'I said, "Thank Merlin for that!" How rude you are, intruding into private conversations all the time!'

'I'm rude?' Hermione laughed bitterly. 'That's rich coming from you! You self-obsessed piece of—'

Lavender remained unmoved. 'You're just jealous of me; you always have been! I pity you, you poor excuse for—'

Hermione reached for her wand—she didn't care what state her magic was in.

'Going to hex me, Granger?' Lavender hissed, stepping closer to Hermione. 'Try it.'

Hermione stared into the heavily made-up, blue eyes. 'Get out of my face.' Surprising herself, she shoved Lavender on her upper-arms, sending the other woman back a few steps.

Lavender's face darkened with fury. 'How dare you shove me! Why don't you just do us all a favour and go back to your stupid books!' Lavender reached out with one hand and nudged Hermione's shoulder, hard.

Hermione was prepared—she'd taken on worse than Lavender Brown.

'Why don't you do what you do best and go and wave your tits under someone else's nose!' Hermione clenched her fists.

Lavender laughed harshly. 'Oh my, we are jealous aren't we? Poor Hermione; feeling inadequate, again—'

'That is enough, Miss Brown.' Snape had finally decided to intervene.

'Me?' scoffed Lavender. 'You've changed your tune! You were practically slobbering over me just now! Merlin, how pathetic you—'

'Don't talk about him like that!' Hermione lunged forward. 'It's obvious to anyone you are a conniving little sl—'

A hand closed around her forearm in a strong grip and pulled her back. 'That is enough! People are beginning to stare.'

Hermione stilled, but continued to glower at her adversary.

'Severus, what on earth is going on here?'

'Nothing, Minerva; it's just a situation that got a little out of hand. It is over with, now.'

McGonagall watched them all in confusion.

'You'll regret this, Granger.' Lavender straightened her robes and flounced off without another word.

'Miss Granger, I'm—'

'Get off!' hissed Hermione, shaking her arm free of Snape's grip. She stalked off without looking at either him or McGonagall—she was too mortified. Exiting the hall, Hermione went outside and sucked in a breath of cold night air.

'Stupid girl!' she hissed to herself.

Merlin, the indignity of it all! Nearly getting into a full-blown fight in the middle of such an important occasion! Had she completely taken leave of her senses? She should have just risen above it and let them… carry on.

'Miss Granger?'

Hermione gave a quick, resigned, glance to her Potions master, who had appeared out of the main doors. She really wasn't in the mood for talking. Not one bit.

Snape said nothing further, and that unnerved Hermione somewhat. Was he actually put out that she'd spoiled his chances with Lavender? The thought was infuriating!

'Just… tell me, for my sanity's sake, that you weren't really taken in by that… performance in there.' It was so ludicrous; she'd have to rethink her whole outlook, and re-question her judgements, she realised, if it proved she didn't know Severus Snape as well as she liked to think.

'It amazes me, really, that after everything I've done in my life, people still think I am capable of acting like I was born yesterday,' he replied finally, shaking his head in mute wonder.

'Well, you were certainly at pains to prove otherwise,' muttered Hermione, quietly irritated. What was he playing at?

'Was I?' he answered lightly. 'Perhaps, I enjoy the attention.'

'Oh, happens to you often, does it?' Hermione frowned at the tinge of accusation in her voice.

'You'd be surprised what an Order of Merlin and a sob story can do for one's popularity. I've even had a student try it in the past.'

'A student?' Hermione questioned in surprise.

Snape smirked. 'Shocking, isn't it? Can't imagine that happening in your day, can you?'

Hermione smiled. 'Well, no, but I can't say I've given it much thought.' It pleased her to note that he spoke without arrogance or pride. Possibly, her instincts were right after all. 'If you were someone else then you might enjoy the attention, but I don't think you do. However, I'll admit to be being slightly confused by your behaviour.'

He looked at her enigmatically, and then sat down on nearby a stone bench. 'You know, you should have just accepted my earlier invitation to join us—it promised to be a right laugh.'

'What are you talking about?'

What machinations had his mind been up to now? Why the hell would she have wanted to be a party to that charade?

'Come now, Miss Granger, as soon as I spied Miss Brown come none too subtly sashaying across the floor, I knew what she was playing at. Ex-students do not normally place themselves in my company at such occasions. I had no doubt – no doubt – she was scheming at my expense; so I decided to have some fun at hers, and I would have done, had you not escalated the situation.'

'Well, I'm sorry I spoiled your fun,' she commented defensively. 'How was I to know? I was concerned Lavender would take you for a mug—'

'Give me some credit—I don't care what she looks like now, the last time I saw Miss Brown she was sitting behind a school desk. I'm not interested in ex-students, or a Weasley cast-off for that matter.'

Hermione unexpectedly felt herself flush hotly—she ignored it.

'I was mildly surprised to see how eager you appeared to injure her.' He chuckled softly.

'As you know, Lavender and I have history, and I wasn't about to let her walk all over me again.'

She didn't mention the fact that she couldn't stand the thought that he might prefer Lavender's company over hers.

'So, thanks, by the way, for nearly allowing me to get into a fight!' Hermione grimaced at the thought of her behaviour—Lavender wasn't worth it, really.

'I thought you might like the chance for some one-upmanship.'

Hermione said nothing—she was sure Lavender had had the upper hand all along. What was it she had called her? Jealous. Maybe her actions had been more out of inexplicable jealousy than as a noble quest to ensure the maintenance of Snape's reputation—she just hoped he hadn't picked up on it.

It was a worrying thought, really, and something she would have to examine at length, later on.

'She does make me feel inadequate, at times.' The quiet words fell from her lips without realising, and she cringed at herself.

Snape said nothing, and Hermione felt an awkward tension close around her. She moved to sit beside him and scrambled for something else to say. 'So, what exactly was this fun supposed to entail? Were you going to lead her on and then make a fool of her? Give her some classic put-downs?'

'You sound like you don't approve.'

'I don't know about that...' Hermione idly scuffed her shoes against the grass.

After a moment, he said, 'They're charmed, you know.'

'What's charmed?'

'Her chest.'

Hermione's jaw dropped. 'Her chest is charmed? She's kept that quiet!'

'Yes. I was building up to asking who'd done her spell-work—just to see her face. It's a very competent charm, so I'm confident she could not do it herself, and there are those who are handy with a wand that are open to such commissions.'

'How can you tell they are charmed?' Hermione's eyes were still wide.

Was that why he had been staring at her breasts—to ascertain if they were magically enhanced? Trust him!

'It's not readily noticeable, but if one is so inclined, it is possible to sense a longstanding charm, and with the aid of a discreet revealing spell—there it was.'

Hermione shook her head. 'I imagine she would not want such a thing becoming common knowledge, indeed. Ugh, what a silly, silly cow...' she muttered impatiently.

'And a manipulative one, at that.'

'Merlin, can you imagine? A quick Finite Incantatem, and they'd be gone; just like that.'

'My thoughts exactly,' he agreed.

Hermione lost herself for a moment in imagining Lavender's shocked face if her chest suddenly deflated in front of everyone. She'd bet that picture would look good in the Prophet...

'By the way, how did you know what she was up to?' Snape asked, with interest.

'Oh, she told me, in a roundabout way.' Hermione paused and considered her next words carefully. 'Does it... really happen to you often—people coming on to you, I mean? I think my Order of Merlin must be broken.' She smiled despite herself.

He snorted. 'Well, there have been a few incidents, and as I say, they must think I'm incredibly stupid. We can swap medals, if you would prefer, and work on perfecting your sob story.'

'All right.' She laughed before becoming serious once more. 'You know, granted, Lavender was an easy one to spot, but how do you know they are all after a slice of notoriety? For all you know, you might have spurned some poor woman who was genuinely interested in you.'

'Excuse me? What are you on about?'

What was she on about? She was wading into murky water here—very personal and unchartered murky water.

'Well, I'm just saying, you know, you might have blown a chance for—'

'A chance for what?' he spat out incredulously, suddenly becoming angry. 'Do you imagine me to be desperately longing for someone to help "heal the wounds of my tragic past" as that infernal Skeeter woman put it?'

Hermione blinked. 'Not as such, but why not?'

'Have you forgotten to whom you are speaking?'

'You don't think you could love someone else?'

He flew to his feet and rounded on her. 'Love?' he thundered, his face twisting into a grimace. 'Don't talk to me about love—the very idea of it offends me!'

Hermione was taken aback. 'Why on earth should it?'

'I have no time for it—and it has no time for me.' His voice was matter of fact.

'But what about Harry's—'

He cut her off with a glare. 'Oh, yes, that, and look what it did to me. Do you honestly think I would want to willingly put myself through that again?'

Hermione decided she might as well commit herself to the argument. 'Just because you were unlucky once doesn't mean you would be again. There's someone out there for everyone.'

Snape laughed harshly. 'Don't tell me you actually believe that crap, do you?'

She flushed uncomfortably at his sharp tone and said nothing.

'If such a thing is true, then why are so many people alone?' he challenged.

'Well, all right, not everyone is lucky enough—'

'Your argument falls apart right there,' he dismissed. 'It's just a polite excuse for the fact that some people are just not made for love, relationships—whatever.'

'No, it's not, it's—'

He wouldn't let her speak, however. 'Miss Granger, don't patronise me. I would have thought you of all people would understand that not everyone gets the happy ending.'

Hermione looked away for a moment, uncertain. 'You know, so things didn't turn out as everyone expected with my relationship with Ron, but that's not going to put me off. Not everyone just gives up.'

He snorted facetiously, and Hermione looked at him in confusion.

'A word of advice you'd do well to remember—if you have no expectations, then you'll never be disappointed.'

Hermione looked at her hands—it was possibly one of the most poignant things she'd ever heard. She found she regretted immensely that he thought that way.

'Perhaps, I am naive,' she began quietly with a shrug, 'but there it is—it's what I think.'

Snape said nothing for some time; he merely stood looking out over the dark grounds. Eventually, his shoulders relaxed, and he turned back around.

'I suppose we can call it optimism, rather than naiveté.' He sighed deeply. 'After all, you shouldn't listen to me—I'm old and jaded. You should hang onto your hopes and aspirations, Miss Granger—for as long as possible.'

In the dim light, she thought he might have smiled at her, or a close approximation of such, but then he was gone—disappearing back up the steps into the castle. Hermione stared into the space in which he'd stood, not fully understanding what had just happened.

She felt troubled by the fact that he obviously felt he did not deserve happiness, and completely deflated by the fact that someone's outlook could be so bleak. What's more, she realised it shouldn't even have come as a surprise, really. Thinking about it, if she'd been through the torment he had, she would probably want to give happiness up as a lost cause, as well.

Still, she found she would like to prove otherwise to him, but how she would go about that, she didn't know.

Ugh! She had so many different thoughts swirling around in her head, and there was still that whole Lavender thing...

There was, also, something else niggling at her. Despite his parting words, Hermione was left with the distinct impression that he did see her as naive—youthful in her idealism, and perhaps, unsophisticated, even.

That bothered her—immensely.

Unwilling to dwell on it any longer, she got to her feet and made her way back into the castle. She was halfway across the Entrance Hall when she suddenly stopped still, frozen to the spot. 'Oh, bugger...' she breathed loudly in shock.

A group of people standing outside the Great Hall looked at her oddly, and Hermione self-consciously forced herself to carry on walking. She walked into a deserted corridor and leant against the wall.

In a moment of perfect clarity, she now understood it all.

He didn't fancy her; she, Hermione Granger, ex-student, apprentice, and Weasley cast-off, fancied him.

She let the back of her head thump against the stones as she sighed and closed her eyes.

No, it would definitely have to be this moment that sent this evening down into the books as a bad one.

Very bad, indeed.

One Day Like This

A Harry Potter Story
by Hannah_1888

Part 9 of 23

<< Previous     Home     Next >>