Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 15 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

He walked up to her table the next day at lunch looking cautious, and like he was about to change his mind and bolt for the familiarity of the Slytherin table. To her credit Jennae smiled warmly, though Danielle and Selena were both looking uncomfortable, having only heard about the lunch that morning. As he sat his back became straighter, and he shot a look back at his friends, who were looking amused, Avery actually laughing at him. Hermione moved so she was blocking Severus' view of his friends, and reluctantly he turned towards the Ravenclaw girls.

"How did Care of Magical Creatures go?" Hermione asked after a few seconds awkward silence.

"Good. We were still working on unicorns. Nothing new or special," Jennae replied. "How are your classes going, Severus?"

"Well," he replied, eyes on his plate.

Everyone sat for another few moments in silence.

"Well, this is fun," Hermione murmured, pouring herself a glass of pumpkin juice.

"What do you like to do in your free time, Severus?" Jennae asked, shooting a look and a quick shrug at Hermione.

"I work on Potions," his eyes came off his plate.

"I've seen you working in class. You seem like you're very good at Potions. Do you like brewing?"

"It is an art form. Unfortunately I find our textbook lacking in certain places."

"Like what?" Selena perked up, and Hermione hid a half-smile. Leave it to Ravenclaws to perk up over a conversation about faulty textbooks.

Severus kept them entertained for half an hour with a rant about inconsistencies in Advanced Potion Making, and while Jennae, Danielle, and Selena listened intently, Hermione could tell that their interest was purely academic. When the conversation grew stale, the awkward silence returned. She pushed her food around her plate as Jennae tried to ask a few more questions, but Severus only gave quick, curt replies, and no conversation came. When it was clear that her friends and Severus weren't going to get along any better than an academic conversation she finished up quickly and excused herself. Severus gave a quick nod goodbye and followed her onto the grounds.

"Didn't go as planned?" he asked as she found a sunny spot to sit.

"It went better than expected," she lied. "I didn't expect you all to be best mates from the word go, but at least you got to talking a little."

"Hermione..." he started, raising an eyebrow as he sat next to her.

"Okay, it could have gone better, but it wasn't a total disaster," she smiled.

"It wouldn't have happened if you weren't there."

"They're good people, Severus. Most of everyone I've met in Ravenclaw are good people. Just because you don't get along with Gryffindors doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself with Slytherins."

"That's the way it's set up though, isn't it? Before we even go in they give us a talk, tell us that we're going to be sorted, and not that our housemates will be guides or mentors, that they'll be our family. Then they pit us against each other, giving us points for good behavior, taking it away for bad, honoring the ones who do the best at the end of the year while ignoring the others who worked just as hard... they reinforce that with Quidditch, which is house against house and rather vicious at times. Every year that hat tells us about the characteristics of each of the houses, so very early on you can look at someone's tie and know the kind of person they are. Even if it's not totally true. Are all Gryffindors brave to the point of recklessness? Hardly. Are all Slytherins ambitious to the point that they'll trample over their own mothers to get ahead? No, but that's the way we're viewed. It's the system they've set up for us, and until they get rid of it, it's the system we're going to have to live by. I'll admit I have some friends in my house who aren't helping by supporting You-Know-Who's cause. But people view all of us like we're spoiled, rich, and entitled. I'll admit, there are many in my house who fit that description."

"But you don't," she said softly.

"Does it matter? I'm in Slytherin. I've earned the reputation by where that sorting hat placed me."

"It must have had a difficult decision."

"Not hardly. My mother's family had been in Slytherin. I am not exactly a saint, though my crimes mainly consist of keeping my classmates afloat and charging them loads of galleons for the privilege. We use each other that way. It hesitated, but it was still pretty quick. I think it only hesitated because I'm only half-blood, but the Princes are an old wizarding family. I guess that's enough for Slytherin."

"Do you think things would be different if you were a Ravenclaw?" she asked, knowing it was the only house the hat might have thought about sending him if not Slytherin.

"Besides having easier access?" he smirked at her.

She sighed and slapped his arm.

"Probably. I don't know if anyone would be more apt to be my friend if I wasn't in Slytherin. I don't know if my friends in my house are really my friends, or if they see a means to an end in me. It's a hazard of making your friends in my house. Prove yourself unable to help them, and often you'll find yourself abandoned."

She bit her lip and kicked at a patch of grass.

"Did the hat immediately put you in Ravenclaw?" he asked.

"No," she shook her head, deciding this would be a good time to get him used to the idea of her in Gryffindor. "It thought for a very, very long time. Said I would make an excellent Gryffindor. I guess my desire to keep up with my school work won out, and it placed me in Ravenclaw. Which is lucky for me, I guess. You wouldn't give me the time of day if I was a Gryffindor."

"I don't know if it'd get to the point where I would make the decision. Being constantly around Potter, Black, and the rest of their group might have actually influenced you away from me."

"And your attitude towards Gryffindors would play no part in your decision to spend time with me?" she rolled her eyes.

"In case you haven't noticed, Hermione, I don't exactly have my pick of whichever witch I want. I'm not quite in the position to be turning away one who has sustained ample enough head damage to want to be with me."

"Stop that," she sighed with a smile. "I assure you that, of the extensive damage I have received over the years, none of it has been to my brain. You need to stop thinking that someone has to be wrong in the head to want to be with you. You are an intelligent man, and you can be quite caring when you want to be. You may not be the easiest relationship, but you are certainly worth the effort."

"I'm not sure if that's an insult or a compliment," he shook his head as the side of his mouth tugged upwards.

She leaned forwards and kissed him. "Take it however you want," she smiled.

"Compliment, then. And well-deserved."

"You can be quite arrogant, can't you?"

"And that would be the insult."

The bell rang, and they stood up and started walking back into the castle.

"Are you going to the Quidditch match?" he asked.

"Of course. Aren't you?"

"Yes," he nodded quickly. "Would you like to meet up?"

"So I can be the only Ravenclaw in a sea of Slytherins? I'd rather kiss an acromantula."

He let off a soft chuckle. "Well, I'm not sitting with the Ravenclaws. It would be considered base treason. I'd have to check everything I own for jinxes for weeks."

She laughed, thinking of what the twins would have done if they saw her sitting with the Slytherins, but it was cut off quickly as she would never be on the receiving end of both the twins pranks again. And that also reminded her that her memories of Snape remained unchanged. She was doing her best, and she seemed unable to change his future. She had ten days, and she had no idea what she was doing wrong, and how she could correct it. Why did Dumbledore never leave anyone explicit instructions?

"Is everything okay?" he asked.

"Yes. What you said just reminded me of a good friend who recently passed."

They walked in silence for a moment as he took a sudden interest in his feet. "How about this?" he started cautiously. "We can meet at the match, and sit with the Hufflepuffs?"

She nodded. "They seem like a neutral party."

"It's in their nature," he smirked.

"Shut it, Severus," she beamed, and gave him a quick kiss before running off to class.


That next morning she met him in the Entrance Hall. She wore a blue and bronze scarf, glove, and hat set that she had borrowed from Danielle. He wore a green and silver scarf, but other than that was still in his black clothes. They walked towards the field together, chatting about a defense essay they had been set, and climbed to the stands with the Hufflepuffs. They sat in the back to be less conspicuous, but they still earned a fair number of looks from the students around them. As the game started, and the attention around them turned towards the field, he wrapped an arm around her, and she leaned against him, resting her head on his shoulder.

"Care to make a wager?" he asked.

"On the game? I'm not sure we're allowed. It doesn't involve seeing who dies first, or whoever winds up with a terrible injury, or..."

He covered her mouth with a hand, and she batted it away with a laugh.

"What wager were you thinking?"she asked.

"Slytherin wins, you finish writing our essay, and you make the doxy antivenin in class."

"Ugh," she groaned. The essay wasn't a problem as it was nearly done already, but she really wanted Severus to have as much practice as possible making antivenins. "Fine. If Ravenclaw wins, you have to nick some Ashwinder venom from Slughorn's stores, and we'll work on an antivenin for that."

"Why would you want to do that?"

"As you said, anyone can produce an antivenin for doxies, ashwinder venom is a little more difficult. I figure if we can do that, we can do doxies without a problem. And you have to clean up when we're done."

"Agreed," he said, looking up at the players flying quickly towards the Slytherin goal. "Our front three are the best we've had in years."

"Then you have nothing to worry about," she said, flinching at her statement was punctuated with Slytherin scoring the first goal of the game.

"Do you watch Quidditch often?"

"Are you kidding me?" she groaned. "My best friends are boys, who happen to be obsessed with Quidditch. They both play as often as they can get on the field."

"Your best friends are boys?" he asked, looking confused.

"Not here. Back at... back at Beauxbatons."

"And your friends are boys?"

"To tell the truth I'm a bit of an outsider."

"You get along with everyone so well here."

"Different people, I guess. I was always more interested in learning than making friends. I was punished socially for that transgression."

"But you did make friends," he pointed out.

"You have no idea what I had to go through to get to be their friends."

"Enlighten me."

"I honestly didn't like them at first. They made a bit of a habit of bending rules, if not totally breaking them, and were more wrapped up in the fact that they could do magic to seriously study much of anything. But we got caught in a bad situation, and I realized that bending the rules a bit isn't such a bad thing. I lied to keep them out of trouble, taking it upon myself, and we were friends afterwards."

"You based your friendship on a lie you told them to get them out of trouble?"

"There's... a lot more to it than that."

"I have time," he said as Slytherin scored another goal.

"As you said, school can be a lonely place. Are my friends the type I would have befriended had I had the choice of anyone? At first, probably not. They're a little too loose with school rules and their approach to homework is lackadaisical at best. But when they're the only ones offering, I jumped at the chance. Even if it meant I also started getting a little loose with certain school rules. And over the years they've grown to be like the brothers I've never had."

"No sisters you've never had?"

"I've had a couple female friends, but none as close as Ha... my male friends. And no real sisters."

"Ah, only child?"

"Very much desired by my parents, not so easily conceived. Plus their work kept them busy."

"What do they do?"

She was saved from answering by a particularly blatant foul by a Slytherin beater. They watched as Ravenclaw scored their first goal, and Hermione was surprised to hear the score was already 50-10 in favor of Slytherin.

"I should probably just get working on that essay now," she grumbled.

"You never know. Ravenclaw could get the snitch," he pointed out.

"Well, they better do it soon," she said as Slytherin scored again. "Or they're going to be too far behind."

"Well, your Seeker is very good. She's gotten Ravenclaw out of a fair few scrapes in the past. But you're right. Soon you'll be too far behind, and up to your elbows in doxy venom."

She groaned as Slytherin scored yet another goal, and she moved close to him and put her head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around her.

"You know, I might be willing too help," he said three goals later. "Out of pity. And the fact that you burned that potion..."

"You are not a forgiving man, Severus Snape."

"Why should I be forgiving? It wasn't a hard potion."

"And you should have realized I was distracted. You obviously knew I was messing up, and you said nothing. I maintain that you carry some of the blame in that burned potion."

"If that makes you feel better," he said, rubbing her arm.

The score quickly went Slytherin's way, and they pulled ahead 180 points to 40. A light drizzle had begun to fall, and Hermione had leaned in closer to Severus to take cover under the sleeve of his cloak. She was about ready to admit defeat and go back up to the castle when the Ravenclaw seeker went into a sudden climb just as Slytherin's chasers started to charge the goal. Her eyes shot from the Quaffle to whatever the seeker was reaching for. The gong signalling Slytherin had scored sounded, and a second later the seeker raised her arm in triumph. She looked towards the scoreboard to confirm, and saw that the game had indeed tied, 190-190.

"What's that count for?" she asked.

"Well, either neither team won, and the bet is off, or both teams won, and we're both on the hook."

"I prefer the first option."

"I will defer to you, my dear," he said, helping her stand and join the queue of students waiting to leave the stand.

"My dear?" she smirked. "Is there a reason you're going formal?"

"Would you prefer I call you something informal? Should I call you 'love', as Black does? Or 'that Ravenclaw girl' as Narcissa refers to you?"

"Call me what you want. 'My dear' just seemed formal, but if it's what you're comfortable with, or what you find fitting."

"So I could call you an insufferable little..."

"As long as it's not rude," she interrupted.

He gave an exaggerated sigh. "Must you take the joy from my life?"

"I wasn't aware what we were doing was taking joy out of your life. I have found it quite pleasurable myself," she said with a coy smile.

He didn't reply, but his grip on her hand became tighter.

"Would you like to meet down in my lab?" he asked as they entered the castle. "I'll go get our assignment. We could probably finish the essay today."

"I'll grab us some lunch," she offered.

"Meet you down there."

She hurried down the Ravenclaw table so she could give Danielle her gloves, scarf, and hat back before they got permeated with the scent of Severus' lab.

"And where were you during the game?" Selena asked as she came up. "We saved a seat. I looked in the Slytherin stands, thinking you might be with Severus, but you weren't there, either."

"Oh, did I forget to mention? Severus and I watched the game together, and we decided to sit with the Hufflepuffs so neither would be encroaching on the others' territory."

"So you were in the stands?" she asked, mischief thick in her voice.

"Yes. Of course. Where else would we be?"

"Taking advantage of an empty castle."

"I hardly need the castle to be empty to get some time alone with Severus," she replied. "Speaking of which," she muttered, starting to wrap food in a napkin.

"Things are really getting serious, aren't they?" her face fell a bit.

"Yeah. I guess. Not that serious, but serious enough."

"Could you sit for a moment?" Jennae asked.

Confused, Hermione sunk onto the bench next to her. "What's wrong?"

"Did you see the newspaper this morning?" she asked.

"No. I had a bit of a lie-in, ate a quick breakfast, and met Severus. What's going on?"

In response Jennae slid that day's Prophet across to her. Hermione's stomach dropped as she read of the murder of Benjy Fenwick, stating that 'only a few pieces of Mr. Fenwick were recovered, though a positive identification has been made. Below the picture of Benjy was the image of a man, struggling against a couple Aurors, being dragged into the Ministry.

"Aldaric Rossier," she whispered aloud.

"Evan Rossier's father," Jennae murmured.

Hermione looked up to the Slytherin table. Evan, a year older than Severus, was sitting next to Lucius, looking very dark. Lucius, for his part, looked to be trying to be supportive. Hermione scanned the rest of the article. "Known Death Eater," she groaned.

"A lot of those Slytherins have Death Eater parents," she said sympathetically. "Not Severus," she added quickly.

"He wouldn't. His father is a Muggle. His mother is a Blood Traitor for marrying one."

"We're just worried. We know you're very strong-headed about sides in this thing, and we're afraid that by being so close to a Slytherin you're making yourself a target."

Hermione looked at each of them, and wanted to tell them everything. Of how much she was already a target. And how she'd have a large bounty on her head in the future for being Harry's friend. "I'm going to go," she managed in a choked voice, picking up the food and forcing herself from the room and down to Severus' lab. He was waiting for her outside, and his face visibly fell as he saw her expression. Silently he let her in, and she put the food on the table, but neither of them made a motion to eat.

"What's wrong?" he asked after securing the door.

She looked into his eyes, and decided to ask him point-blank, "Severus, have you ever thought about becoming a Death Eater?"

"What brought that...?" he started, but she cut him off.

"Just answer. Honestly, please."

He looked at her for a long moment. "Yes," he replied quietly.

"And now?"

He reached for her hand and stroked her fingers. "The most important person in my life is very much against the idea. I wouldn't betray her."

A sob caught in her throat, and she felt tears stinging her eyes. "And what about when I'm gone?"

"We may have to part for a while to finish school, but it's only temporary, right?"

A tear fell down her right cheek. She opened her mouth to say more, but couldn't find the words. Instead she pulled him to her, pressing a kiss to his lips, but broke away when he tried to take her in his arms. "If I were to hide?" she managed.

"I would want to be there with you."

"And if you couldn't?"

"Why are we talking about this?"

"Because you're a good man, and I realized I'm being a monster," she whispered, before tearing herself from him and running from the room. She heard him try to follow her, but she ducked into a secret passage, and didn't stop running until she was in Ravenclaw tower. She sat on her bed, drew the curtains, cast a silencing charm, and started to cry. Getting herself into a relationship with Severus had been a mistake, one that she was now sure drove him closer to the Death Eaters. She had failed her mission. She would soon become one more person who had damaged Severus, part of the reason he was going to die on the floor of the Shrieking Shack. And it hurt, worse than she thought it would, because deep down she knew her feelings were shifting. She liked Severus, that part was obvious. But a rational woman did not carry on such a relationship, especially in a situation like hers, because they only liked the man. No, it was more than that, and she had to admit it, the way Severus had just admitted she was the most important person in his life at that moment. Somewhere, deep down, she was beginning to love him.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 15 of 29

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