Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 19 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

She woke up the next morning with a pit in her stomach, and the weight of everything coming down on her. She fumbled three times, trying to open her trunk,. and when she tried to use a spell she missed, leaving a black scorch mark across the stone floor.

"Are you alright?" Jennae asked, walking into the room, her bath robe drawn around her, her hair dripping wet.

"Yes. No. I feel odd today," she replied, taking a few deep breaths to calm down, then forcing herself to open the trunk.

"Odd in what way?"

"Just an ominous feeling."

She wrung her hands. "Do you think it's your grandfather?"

Hermione looked up, desperate to tell someone. But how would she explain to anyone that she wasn't sure she was going to survive her next twenty-four hours? That she was going to have to force herself to go through the day, but before dinner was done being served, she'd be back in the demolished version of Hogwarts she had left behind, and the battle that was far from over. She'd have to figure out a way to save Severus' life, since her memories were still of him dying on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, her best friend was a Horcrux about to go to his death, and she'd be seeing several good people alive for the last time throughout the day. But she had gone thirty-one days without confessing everything, so she just nodded lamely. Jennae made a move to give her a hug, so Hermione ran to the bathroom. A pale version of herself in the mirror greeted her with wide, terrified eyes. She splashed cold water on her face, hoping to bring some color back, but it was no use. When she returned to the room, Jennae had left. Hermione carefully placed the clothes she would have to wear back into the battle into her backpack, as well as her bag which contained the box she arrived with. She ran her fingers over the bed, wanting to crawl back under the blankets, back to safety. It took a lot of willpower to turn and leave the dorm for the last time.

Jennae was whispering to Danielle and Selena as she reached the bottom of the stairs. They stopped talking as they caught sight of her, and Danielle and Selena flashed her identical worried smiled.

"Should we go to breakfast?" Hermione asked, trying to keep her voice as even as possible.

Danielle opened her mouth to say something, but Selena cut in over her, loudly announcing that breakfast sounded like a great idea. Hermione walked towards the Great Hall flanked by her friends, but she stared at the stone floor and willed herself to not look too terrified at what was to come. She felt her heart drop as they rounded the corner that lead to the Great Hall to find Dumbledore standing outside the entrance.

"Miss Puckle, may I have a word?" he asked.

Jennae grabbed her arm, but Hermione waved her away. "I'll be fine," she whispered. "Go ahead."

The three girls exchanged looks, and watched Hermione until they entered the Great Hall. Hermione stepped into a secluded corner with Dumbledore, who held out a piece of paper to her.

"This is day thirty-one, is it not?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," she replied in a murmur.

"You entered this school sometime around six-thirty. I would think that you would be departing at the same time. It would be best if you were to leave from the same place you came, away from any chance of prying eyes. I shall be occupied outside my office from six until seven. I suggest you get there a few minutes in advance to be safe. That paper would be your way of access. I ask you do not leave it lying around."

"Yes, sir," she nodded.

"I wish you the best of luck, Miss Puckle," he placed a hand on her arm for a moment, then walked off. She watched until he disappeared up the stairs before turning to enter the Great Hall. She didn't try to hide her emotions, knowing they would help create her final cover. She looked up to find her friends, and was surprised to see Severus standing next to them, looking concerned. When he saw her, he started running to her. As she saw the look of concern for her etched across his face, she felt a sudden wave of guilt and her eyes welled with tears. She let him envelop her in comforting arms, and let the tears flow onto his cloak.

"They told me what was going on," he whispered into her hair. "If you need anything..."

"This is what I need," she whispered, clinging even tighter to him. It took her a few minutes until she finally felt as though she could loosen her grip enough to go to their table. They walked past the Gryffindors, and for once, none of the Marauders threw an insult or a snarky comment their way. Instead, she saw sympathy in James, Sirius, and Remus' eyes, though Peter was looking away from her. When she sunk onto the bench next to Jennae, Severus didn't hesitate to sit next to her. His hand rubbed her back in support, and she kept her hand on his leg, needing to touch him as much as possible. Her stomach was tied in knots, but she knew that she would need her strength when she returned to the battle. She took a few pieces of toast and an orange, taking some small bites and washing it down with water, something else she knew she must force upon herself if she would be in fighting shape for what lay ahead. No one around her spoke, and before she knew it, Jennae, Selena, and Danielle were standing to go to Charms.

"I'll catch up," she murmured, and waited until they left the hall to stand up and let Severus wrap an arm around her and start leading her towards the Charms corridor.

"What do you need today?" he asked.

She looked up at him. "Skive off after lunch with me?" she asked.

"Anything." He kissed her forehead before squeezing her hand and walking off towards Transfiguration. Her hands began trembling as she entered Charms, and she sat on them so her fright wasn't obvious.

"Everything alright, Hermione?" Sirius asked, sitting in front of her, sounding serious. She looked up at him, tears threatening to fall yet again. It was her last chance to talk to him, or Lupin, or Harry's parents. She suddenly felt horrible that she had snapped at them during her time there.

"It'll be alright," she muttered.

He reached out and rubbed her arm. "No need to put on the brave face around us, love."

"I'm not. I really am alright."

He shot her a sympathetic smile. During the class, she tried her hardest to pay attention, but lost the battle. She spent the whole time watching the Marauders, trying to decide what she was going to do. It would be the last time she saw any of them alive again. Her eyes wandered towards Lily, who was chuckling at something her seatmate said. She really was a radiant beauty, and the Marauders had made her laugh as much as she fought the urge in front of Severus. She couldn't just let them walk off. She told Jennae, Danielle, and Selena that she'd see them at lunch and walked out with the Gryffindor boys.

"If you need anything, love, let us know," Sirius said as they walked down the hall together.

"I mean it when I say I'll be alright," she replied.

"I know. But that doesn't mean you don't need some support right now."

"I've got a lot of support here. Everyone has been really amazing."

"Even Snape?" James asked.

"Did you just call him by his real name?"

"I don't want to get hexed."

She laughed.

"Does this mean you're leaving?" Lupin asked quietly.

"Yes. Dumbledore is helping me leave tonight."

"Well, I guess Sniv... Snape will have you the rest of the day, so we should probably say goodbye now," Sirius said as his face fell.

"You almost look like you'll miss me."

"Of course I'll miss you, beautiful woman, I can't believe I lost to that ruddy Slytherin git."

"Sirius..." she groaned.

"I wouldn't mind a good-bye hex."

She smiled, then threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "Take care of yourself, Black," she whispered as he held her just as tightly, not letting go.

"We stay like this long enough, Snivellous might see, and I may still get you yet," he smirked, kissing her cheek.

She laughed and pushed him away, turning to James, who gave her a friendly hug. "Goodbye, Puckle. We'll always have the Three Broomsticks," he beamed, and she marveled at how much he resembled his son.

"Goodbye, James," she said, ruffling his hair fondly.

Wormtail stepped forward, and she forced a hand forward. He looked disappointed as he gave it a quick shake. Without saying anything, she turned to Lupin, the one she looked up to the most in her time, and she had to take a deep breath to calm her nerves before she wrapped her arms around him. "Don't let anyone get to you, Remus. I know it's tough for you, but I know the truth. You're wonderful and deserve happiness," she muttered, low enough for only him to hear.

His arms tightened for a moment and she felt his lips brush her forehead lightly.

"See you around, then?" she said softly.

"Until later, then," James smiled, and she hurried up the stairs to Runes. A few tears fell as she went, but she swiped at them with her sleeve before rounding the corner. Severus was waiting anxiously outside the door, hurrying over as soon as he saw her.

"I'm fine," she cut him off before he said anything.

"You look upset."

"It's nothing, really," she whispered as they entered the classroom and sat at a table together. As the Professor started talking, Severus grabbed her hand, running his fingers over hers throughout the class, and by the time she left, she felt perfectly relaxed. She leaned into him as they walked to lunch. She used an article in the Daily Prophet to start a conversation, and to her delight Severus became a seamless part of their gossiping, though she suspected everyone was getting along because they knew she would be gone in a few hours and they wanted her to be happy. When the bell rang for the start of afternoon classes, Severus and Hermione made their way down to his lab for the final time. She transfigured the table back into a bed without dropping his hand.

"I don't want you to feel like we have to..." he started.

"I want to, Severus. I want you to make me forget one more time. Give me one more moment to hold onto, to get me through what's coming."

He didn't argue, just took her face in his hands, and kissed her tenderly as they moved to the bed. He carefully undressed her, kissing each part of her skin as it became exposed to him, studying the flesh laid before him, knowing it would be the last time for a while. She concentrated on the feeling of his fingers sliding over her skin, looked into his eyes whenever she could, and touched his mostly unblemished skin as much as she could. Their lips were locked to each other as he entered her, and they had no problem finding their rhythm. Several times they slowed, taking the time to explore each other one last time, neither wanting the moment to end. When they finally finished together they held each other, each one unwilling to be the one who broke their connection.

But their time eventually had to come to an end, and when dinner started, she retrieved her clothes from the backpack.

"Must you wear those?" he asked, fingering a singed hole in the jeans before getting dressed themselves.

"They're good traveling clothes," she muttered. "I don't care if they get destroyed."

She put on her undergarments and jeans, but when she went to button her blouse he did it for her, fastening each button slowly, his eyes following his fingers. He helped her into her jacket and pressed another tender kiss to her lips. As they left he wrapped an arm around her, and reached across himself to take her hand. They didn't say a word as they made their way up to the Great Hall, and he steered her towards her friends. The butterflies in her stomach sprang to life again, and she tripped over herself.

"Are you alright?" Severus asked.

She could only nod as her hands began to tremble. She sat between Severus and Jennae, accepting a plate Danielle made for her as Severus rubbed her leg and Jennae patted her arm. She forced herself to eat the stew and bread, and drink some water, though she couldn't bring herself to participate in their conversation. When the clock struck six, she tensed, knowing it was time for her to start going up to the Headmaster's office. Danielle and Selena came around to her side of the table to say good-bye.

"Have a safe trip," Selena smiled, giving her a hug.

"Take care," Danielle followed suit.

"You two, as well," Hermione nodded.

"It was nice meeting you," Danielle said as they stepped back. "Keep in touch."

"I'll try."

Jennae's hug was less formal, and they leaned against each other for a long moment without saying anything.

"Thank you so much, for everything," Hermione whispered to her.

"It was my pleasure. Please, don't be a stranger," Jennae replied.

"I'll try not to."

They broke apart, each swiping a tear from their eye.

"If you need anything, you know where to find me," Jennae smiled.

"Okay. Take care of yourself, Jennae."

"The same to you. Goodbye, Hermione."


Severus took her hand and led her out of the corridor. They started up the staircase. As they ascended, her chest started to clench and tears started to fall. Her memories were still in tactintact. She had failed. Severus was going to die on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, and she hadn't done enough to save him, or convince him to save himself. They had only made it up two floors before Severus couldn't take seeing her like that any longer, turning her to embrace her tightly in his arms.

"It's okay," he murmured into her hair.

"No, it isn't."

"Do you want to stay?"

"More than anything. But I can't," she replied with a sob.

"I'm coming of-age in January. Do you think you can wait that long before going into hiding? Then I'll go with you."

That caused her to sob louder and cling to him. "I really wish I could. I begged Dumbledore to make it different, but he can't stop anything. I have to go."

"But you said I'll see you again."

"YouI will. But it'll be a long time. And when you do see me, you'll know why I am a monster, who doesn't deserve you."

"I don't understand, Hermione."

"I can't tell you more."

"Why don't you meet me in January? We have a Hogsmeade trip at the end of the month. I'll meet you by the Shrieking Shack, and we can leave together."

She let off another sob, and his robe was getting soaked from her tears. "God, I want that."

"Then let's do it. I'll meet you, and we'll run together, just the two of us. We won't be limited in where you want to go. We can go overseas, and they'll never know where we went."

"I can't, and you can't, Severus. We both have things we need to do."

"Like what?"

She kissed him, pressing herself into his body and clinging to him, knowing it would be their last embrace for a while. "Live, Severus. You need to survive long enough for us to be together again."

"I'm not going anywhere for a long time."

"But you have to be prepared for anything. You have to live. I have no right to ask a single thing of you, but please, promise me that you'll try to survive."

"I don't..."

She felt something shift in her body, a quick wave of disorientation, and knew she was nearly out of time. "I have to leave, Severus. Promise me."

"I promise."

She kissed him again, as deeply and passionately as she could muster, until another wave passed over her, causing her knees to wobble and for her to fall away from his lips. "I love you, Severus. I will when we meet again. Remember that I love you."

And then she pushed away from him and started running.

"Hermione!" he cried, reaching for her, fingers skimming the back of her shirt. She pointed her wand behind her and cast a tripping jinx. He hadn't been expecting it, and he tripped on the stairs, sliding down several. A rush of repulsion at what she had done washed over her, but she kept going, reaching the landing to the hall that led to the entrance to Dumbledore's office. Behind her Severus had recovered, and was following her. She pushed her way through a tapestry that hid the hall, and cast a Duro charm behind her, turning it to stone. It wouldn't take Severus long to reverse the spell, but the holdup would be enough for her to get away. She pulled the paper from her pocket as she made it to the gargoyle that hid the stairs.

"Jelly slugs!" she read, panting, and the gargoyle sprung out of the way. She hurdled through the entrance onto the stairs, and heard Severus call for her one last time as the gargoyle returned to it's normal spot. She collapsed onto the stairs, racked with sobs, and noticed a faint, golden light was coming from her bag. She managed to stand and stumble into the office, falling to the floor in front of Dumbledore's desk, and pulled the small box from her bag. Before she had a chance to open it the top burst open on it's own, and she fell into the swirling golden nothingness once more.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 19 of 29

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