Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 11 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

When she turned the corner that led to the Runes classroom she saw Severus waiting outside, talking quietly with Jennae. He shot a glance towards her and, seeing her approaching, jerked his head towards her. Jennae quickly turned to look at her and smiled.

"There you are. How are you?" Jennae asked, sounding concerned.

"I'm fine," she said softly, with a nod.

"Okay, I have to run or I'm going to be late. I just wanted to make sure you are okay," she said, giving her a quick hug. "I'll see you a little later."

"See you," she smiled as Jennae ran off.

"She told me what happened," Severus said quietly.

She drew in a breath that her lungs refused to expel.

"She said you looked like you were about a second away from hurting Pettigrew."

"He said some horrible things..."

"Trust me, Hermione, I would not only understand, I'd actively encourage you taking that rat down a notch," he said with a ghost of a smile. She was finally able to exhale fully, knowing he wasn't upset with her for what she said to the Marauders.

"That's not the half of it," she admitted. "I said some things to Potter out in the hallway that weren't very nice."

"Like what?" he asked, sounding eager to hear it.

She gave him a quick synopsis of what transpired between her and James in the hallway. He looked pleased as she finished.

"Good for you," he said, with a genuine smile. "He needed to hear a lot of those things. I'd say it, but I don't believe for a second that he'd listen to me. And because he and Black tend to hex at random someone needed to get him alone and lay the information out for him. Hopefully some of it penetrated his thick skull."

"Severus," she sighed with a smile.

"I honestly don't think they would have listened to you if both of them were there. And of the two Potter is more mature. If either one was going to listen to you, it would be him."

"I shouldn't have lost my temper in class. I really thought I was going to hurt Pettigrew."

"Perhaps I should get you to lose your temper with him when we're out on the grounds."

"Severus!" she hissed, but she chuckled. She let him lead her into the room as he had before, but this time his hand pressed into her back with a little more confidence. They sat on the same bench, getting their things out.

"Thank you," he whispered as he laid out some parchment and prepared his quill.

"For what?" she asked in a low voice.

"Standing up for me."

"It's nothing, Severus. No need to thank me."

"Still, you don't need to do that."

"Yes, I do. You deserve it," she said firmly.

The lecture started, and Hermione was soon lost in the boredom of a lesson she had heard once before. She wrote a few things down on her paper, doodled a little on the edge, and tried not to let her mind wander too far. Halfway through the class the Professor started walking around the room, handing out paragraphs for them to translate. When Hermione reached for hers she saw Severus take a sudden interest in her forearm, and realized she forgot to re-cast the glamour charm on her arm, and the 'd' of Mudblood was visible. Quickly she pulled the sleeve of her robe down and tried to pay attention to her paragraph. But she was thinking quickly, trying to find a good explanation for her to have that carved onto her skin. When the bell rang she had only one idea, and she hated it, but she would have to move fast. She excused herself and ran to the bathroom, hoping Severus didn't wait, or had forgotten the mark altogether. Locking herself into a stall she pulled out her wand, and used a revised glamour charm to change the word on her arm, knowing she couldn't just cover it up now. Walking out of the bathroom she realized that Severus had not went down to lunch, nor had he forgotten what he saw. Without a word he grabbed her wrist and lifted her sleeve.

She had changed the 'd' to a 'p' to start the word 'putain' inverted to the way 'mudblood' was carved. Severus' eyes narrowed, an angry fire lighting behind his eyes.

"Who did this to you?" he growled.

"A boy I was seeing," she lied. "He thought I was seeing someone else on the side. He drank too much firewhiskey at a party, cornered me in a hallway with some of his friends, and did this."

"He carved 'whore' into your arm?" he now sounded livid, and her slight hope he didn't know french drained from her body.

"Yes," she whispered, stomach dropping. She hated lying to him, but showing him 'Mudblood', especially after what had happened earlier, was not an option. There was no explanation she could think of as to why a half-blood would have Mudblood written on their arm. If any of the Slytherins found out about it they'd start giving her a hard time, and make it difficult for her to spend time with Severus.

"What's his name?" his voice was low and dangerous, and she didn't doubt he was planning on doing something horrible to the made-up boy. She knew she had to diffuse the situation quickly.

"It doesn't matter. He was expelled, and his wand was snapped."

"What's his name?" he repeated.

"No, Severus. Forget I even have it."

"No one has the right to do something like that."

"No, they don't. But trying to get back at him now is pointless. I've moved on from it. Please, Severus, just leave it. You didn't even notice before. I cover it up most of the time, I guess I just forgot today."

"He should be in Azkaban," he growled, fists clenched, looking so angry she was surprised something wasn't moving through accidental magic. She knew she had to calm him down before something happened, so she cautiously wrapped her arms around him. She felt the shift in his emotions in the air: it went from electrified with his anger to calm with his surprise at her touch.

"I'm touched you care so much about it," she whispered into his ear. "But I can't live my life for revenge."

She felt his hands tremble slightly as they found her back, drawing her gently, cautiously into him. He rested his chin on her shoulder, head leaning against hers, and she felt him inhale deeply. She hugged him a little tighter, then withdrew to look up into his face.

"Thank you," she smiled.

He smiled back, and took her hand to lead her to lunch.


Two days later nearly everyone who was a third year or older got up early, excited to be able to leave the castle to go to Hogsmeade. Hermione rose with them, excited to be spending the day with Severus outside the of the castle, without homework or classes to get in the way. It was the first time she felt like she could really relax in months. She went to breakfast with her dorm mates early and hurried back to her dorm to put her heavy cloak on over the jeans and jumper that had been sent to her by Dumbledore.

"Thank Merlin it's a nice day," Jennae said as they descended the main staircase to the entrance hall. "The last time we had a Hogsmeade weekend it was pouring down rain. Half of us gave up on trying to keep our shoes on in the mud and came in with mud-caked feet. Madam Pomfrey had lines out the door for pepper-up potion and a warming solution. Flitwick had to stand by the doors cleaning people off or Filch might have suffered a heart attack or something. I've never seen him so red in the face."

Hermione laughed. "I don't think I've ever seen him quite that angry, but I've seen him close," she smiled, remembering Fred and George's swamp.

"Trust me, you're not missing anything," she replied. "Good thing looks can't kill."

"Unless you're a Basilisk," she pointed out, realizing that somewhere far below them the giant snake was waiting to be unleashed from its prison again.

"Which we must all be thankful Filch is not," she nodded as they reached the landing and were greeted by a few more Ravenclaw girls, including Jennae's younger sister. "Where to first, ladies?" she asked the group.

"Actually I'm supposed to meet someone," Hermione said, looking around and spotting Severus lurking in a dark corner, staring at them. He had pulled his hair back again, and his clothes looked impeccable and new. She wondered if he borrowed them off Lucius, or if he had used the money from Bellatrix to buy a new set. Either way, it was obvious he was trying to impress her, and she couldn't help but shoot him a smile.

"I should have guessed," Jennae muttered under her breath as she followed Hermione's line of sight. "This is starting to get a bit out of hand, isn't it?"

"Perhaps," she shrugged.

"Nothing there still?"

"Not a thing."

"Well, feel free to find us if something goes wrong," she said, fastening her cloak and starting towards the door. As soon as she did Severus stepped forward towards Hermione.

"Hullo," he muttered.

"Hi," she smiled widely.

"Shall we?" he asked, motioning towards the door. Hermione nodded and looked up just in time to see Jennae shooting her one last skeptical look before being led away by the group. She made a show of tying her shoe to give the group a head start, then she and Severus left and started making their way through the chilly fall air towards the town. With Jennae not too far in front of them they seemed to wordlessly agree to not hold hands, though she did loop a hand around his arm.

"How are the classes you don't share with me going?" she asked to break the silence.

"They're going well," he nodded. "Though I find the pace dull sometimes. I'm sure you understand mastering a spell, then waiting around for the rest of the dunderheads in class to catch up."

"It can be a little frustrating at times," she admitted.

"Too bad Hogwarts refuses to skip students ahead a grade. Lucius Malfoy says…"

She couldn't stop herself from growling. She had been haunted the night before by more dreams of Malfoy Manor, this time featuring Lucius gleefully planning to turn her over to Voldemort while Bellatrix hurt her. The images were still fresh in her mind, and the words tumbled from her lips, "Bloody Malfoy."

"Excuse me?" he asked, sounding confused.

"Nothing," she said quickly, realizing her mistake. "Do you follow Quidditch?"

He stared at her, knowing fully what she said. So far the only times that Hermione and Lucius had met had seemed cordial enough, and Lucius knew that he was spending time with her and he did not discourage him. Why, then, did she seemingly hold so much hatred for his friend?

Noticing that he was becoming lost in thought, and being uncomfortable with it, she touched his face and asked, "Severus?"

He looked down in surprise at the touch, which she did not seem to be hesitant about letting linger, though a few seconds later she did let her hand fall. His dark eyes bore into hers for a moment before he replied, "Yes?"

"I was wondering…" she trailed off, searching for something to distract him from his intense gaze. "Did you read the latest issue of Potions Quarterly? I ask because they had that article about a possible breakthrough with a long-lasting Wolfsbane potion?"

"It's rubbish and they know it," he said, forgetting her reaction to Lucius' name completely. The conversation lasted until they came into the town and needed to decide where they were going.

"Do you need to stop for anything at the Apothecary?" she asked as they passed the dingy-looking building.

"I prefer not to go to that one," he said, shaking his head. "Their selection is abysmal and often out-of-date. And whoever provides them with their potions is an amateur at best."

"If you don't go there, where do you go?"

"Slughorn," he started, making a face at the name, "has some connections. He helps me get quality supplies. He does like to encourage me."

"Let me guess, Slug Club member?"

"Only to assure myself continued access to potions ingredients. I'm not a favorite in the club, but I am skilled enough to keep around. It's a symbiotic relationship. He gets to continuously say that he holds power over the best and brightest in the school, and I get the ingredients I need. If you had any plans on staying you would most likely be a shoo-in for membership."

"Thank Merlin I can give that one a pass," she smiled, heading into Honeydukes. She treated him to a small sack full of treats, something he normally didn't have the money for, while picking up another small sack for herself. The whole time she was shopping he was skirting along the wall, avoiding coming too close to anyone else in the shop but her. Afterwards she went and bought herself a new quill to replace the scratchy one Dumbledore had given her before heading to their final stop at the Three Broomsticks, where they found a secluded booth in the corner. She ordered a round from Madam Rosmerta and slid into the booth next to him.

They had finished their first round and were working on their second when Severus looked at her with a wicked grin playing across his face.

"I don't like that look," she said, looking suspicious.

"You shouldn't. Because I have remembered something."

"Oh, no," she groaned.

"I do believe you owe me a serenade."

"You're not really going to hold me to that, are you?" she asked, looking nervous.

"You shouldn't make a promise you don't intend to keep."

"Please don't make me," she pleaded. "I'll do anything."

"Anything?" he said, raising an eyebrow, eyes darting over her.

"Bloody men," she grumbled, climbing up onto the table. She cleared her throat and started belting out the school song:

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts

Teach us something, please,

Whether we are old and bald

Or young with scabby knees…"

Across the bar the four Marauders had scrambled up onto their table, raising their bottles of butterbeer and joining in with her, sounding purposefully off-key. While no one else stood on their tables by the end of the song the whole bar, save for Severus, was singing along with her, with Madam Rosmerta conducting with a couple of flagons. The place broke out in applause when the song ended, with James and Sirius wolf-whistling at her, as she took a bow and scampered off the table as quickly as she could possibly move.

"Bravo," Severus smirked.

"I can't believe you made me do that," she said, beet red.

"You're the one who chose to do that."

"Well, when you presented the alternative…"

"I made no mention of the alternative. You made an incorrect assumption. I was just going to have you write my History of Magic essay."

"Why in the hell didn't you mention that to me?" she hissed. "I would have gladly done that to not embarass myself in the pub!"

"I found your performance much more entertaining, and thus worth my having to write a roll of parchment about the downfall of the relationship of the magical and Muggle world in Ancient Rome."

"You ruddy bastard," she crossed her arms, scowling.

"This is for our little songstress," Madam Rosmerta appeared at their table, placing a fresh bottle of butterbeer in front of her. "From an admirer."

"Who?" she asked, stomach sinking, knowing she could easily hazard a guess.

Madam Rosmerta looked over her shoulder, where Sirius stood up, took a bow, and blew her a kiss.

"Ugh," she groaned, sliding the full bottle in front of Severus. "Another, please."

"Sure thing, dear," the barkeep said with a knowing smile, summoning another bottle. Hermione paid and took a long drink.

"That was really damn embarrassing."

"You should remember that when you're making offers while tutoring," Severus smirked as he took a sip.

"Perhaps I should just stop offering to tutor."

"That is one way to keep from having to embarrass yourself in a pub."

"I guess my one win in this situation is now I'll always have the knowledge that Sirius Black bought you a drink."

Without a word Severus slammed the bottle down so hard a good portion of the contents sloshed onto the table, stood, and rushed from the pub. Confused, Hermione threw a few coins onto the table, drew her cloak around her, and hurried after him. Exiting the bar she just caught sight of his cloak whipping around a corner on the far side of the street, and she had to run after him.

"Severus!" she called as he turned down another corner. "Severus! Stop!"

He pretended as though he didn't hear her and kept walking. She was out of breath from sprinting when she finally caught up to him, and it took her grabbing onto his sleeve to make him pause.

"Let go of me, witch!" he growled dangerously, spinning to face her, eyes blazing.

"No," she replied defiantly, tightening her grip and trying to stop panting.

"I said let go," he repeated through clenched teeth, trying to wrench his cloak from her.

"Not until you tell me what I did!"

"How would you like the thought that the boy who tried to kill you bought you a drink?" he hissed, slipping from her grasp. By this time, however, she had caught her breath enough to slide in front of him and block his path.

"What do you mean, tried to kill you?" she asked in surprise.

"If I felt like telling you, you nosy little wench, I would have," he snapped, turning to try to get away from her again.

"Severus!" she cried, grabbing at him again.

"Why do you insist on tormenting me?" he shouted. "Why don't you go be with Black and leave me at peace like I was before you went and showed up here?" He pushed past her and started down the alleyway next to the Boars Head towards the school, but she wasn't finished yet.

"I hardly think you were at peace," she said, jogging alongside him. "And if I wanted to be with Sirius Bleedin' Black don't you think he's tried hard enough that I could have done so by now? That if I wanted to shag the man I could have done it in my first week?"

He stopped and stared at her. "Don't talk about shagging Black," he growled in a voice barely above a whisper, a dangerous voice she had heard only when someone had made a particularly grievous mistake in Potions class.

"What's it matter to you?" she asked defiantly.

His eyes narrowed.

"You can't have it both ways, Severus! Either you think that I'm some sort of Gryffindor-loving whore who is doing nothing in this friendship but biding my time until I can get Sirius Black into my bed, and I'm not sure whose arse you would have pulled that conclusion from, or you can accept that I am truly trying to be your friend, as much as you're trying to push me away, because I like our conversations and spending time with you in general. So which is it going to be, Severus? Because your distrust of me is really starting to grate on my nerves. Do I stay and try and you learn to trust me, or should I just give up and walk off like everyone expects me to do?"

They stared each other down for a long moment, neither doing more than breathing heavily, unwilling to break eye contact. Finally she nodded, seemingly accepting his silence as his answer, and turned to leave. Without warning he grabbed her arm, spun her, grabbed her other arm and pushed her hard against the stone wall behind her. She winced as the jagged stone pressed into her back, looking a little scared, and trying to reach for her wand but being unable to reach it due to his tight grip. His eyes were flashing, and for a moment she felt more terrified than she ever had around him.

But before she could react he bent his head down and crashed his lips into hers. She stood in shock for a moment, her mind racing. Every boundary she had set for herself had just been destroyed, but she suddenly found that she didn't care. She closed her eyes and pressed herself forward, allowing his lips to lead hers in an mutually demanding dance. Her hands grabbed at the only things she could reach, his cloak, and wrapped her hands in the fabric, pulling him even closer to her, so now she was wedged tightly between his body and the cold stone wall. Finally their lips parted slightly, the pants of their breath colliding in small clouds between them. Her eyes fluttered open to find that he was already staring intensely at her. And suddenly she forgot almost everything she knew about him, there was nothing but the two of them in that alleyway at that moment.

"Obvious enough for you?" he murmured.

She chuckled nervously. "What now, Severus?" she whispered.

"No idea," he replied before kissing her again.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 11 of 29

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