Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 26 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

She slowly started to come to, but her body still felt worn and stiff, and she hoped that laying there a little while would lure her back into sleep. But before she even had a chance to work her way a little further under the comfortable blankets to try to block some of the light streaming into the room she realized there were voices, having a hushed conversation.

"I wonder how much longer they're going to sleep?" came Mrs. Weasley's concerned whisper.

"I am in no hurry to wake them," Professor McGonagall replied in a sympathetic voice. "Both of them are drained. And the amount of effort Miss Granger has to put into saving Severus... it's a wonder she didn't collapse earlier than she did."

"She can be quite stubborn," said a third voice, and Hermione realized Professor Dumbledore's portrait must be visiting whatever room they were in. "It took a great deal of mental, physical, and magical energy to get Severus to where he was, but she was quite determined to do whatever it took."

"That's what I don't get. Potter seemed quite convinced Severus was dead, as was Voldemort. How did Miss Granger know different?"

"She assured he was prepared for what was coming and made preparations for herself to help him, gave him the care he needed when the time came, and gave him reason to cling to his life."


"How?" Molly asked, sounding as confused as McGonagall.

"I wonder, Minerva, if you remember a time when a student named Miss Puckle came to Hogwarts for around a month."

"Puckle...'' she said slowly, obviously trying to remember, then she let off a loud gasp. "Hermione Puckle!"

"Hermione Puckle?" Molly whispered.

"I hardly remember her, she did not make much of an impression in my class, though I did hear stories of her doing quite well in Potions, and a duel between her and Severus in Defense. I had forgotten completely about her until just now, but... it's her, isn't it, Albus?"

"Yes, Minerva. I will answer your questions, but you must promise that it does not leave this room."

"Of course. Now, tell us how," she demanded.

"There was a point in the battle, after Miss Granger witnessed Severus being attacked by Nagini, that Mister Potter came to the Headmaster's Office to use the pensive. Miss Granger, who had come to the conclusion that her friend was a Horcrux some time ago, was afraid that Mister Potter's inevitable death was drawing near, and was determined to make sure he didn't die surrounded by Death Eaters without a friend. She informed me of her intent to with Harry, even though it would mean her own death."

Mrs. Weasley let off an affectionate noise and placed a hand on Hermione's leg.

"She did not know what would happen after, that Harry would be fine, and that she would not return the way Harry had, and so I tried to dissuade her to go. She did not take the information well, and brought up her distress at the deaths she had witnessed or knew about, Fred being prominent among them."

This time Molly's hand started patting as she sniffled to suppress a sob.

"Now, please permit me to start at, what for me, was the beginning of the story. You must imagine my surprise in nineteen seventy-six when, on a seemingly ordinary night, I went to my office to reply to some correspondence, to find a young woman standing there, looking as though she had been through a battle. Little did I know she had, she did not offer the information, and I figured it was best not to ask. She offered no clue as to how or why she got there, other than a single letter which told me she was named Hermione Puckle, though I had no idea if that was her true name, that she was there on a mission I must not ask about, that this mission would take exactly thirty-one days, and that I should trust her to do what she needed to do with minimal assistance.

"And so I helped her clean up, acted as though her visit had been planned for some time, and the staff, not knowing differently, was more than willing to go along. I did speak to Miss Granger twice more during her visit, when she became most distressed about what she was doing..."

"You keep saying mission," Molly interrupted. "What mission?"

"To save a life, dear Molly. Severus'."

"How was she supposed to..." she stopped, sighing. "Please continue."

"Miss Granger came at quite the opportune time. Severus was vulnerable, he had lost his best friend, and he was starting to align himself more with the Death Eaters in the aftermath. There was also an assignment regarding antivenins that Miss Granger convinced Severus to work on, thus laying the first big hint at what his future may have had in store. The two, in their time, became quite close, and I believe that was the key to saving Severus' life. That he knew what was coming and made preparations, that she was willing and able to work to save his life, and, most importantly, he wanted to live enough to give her what she needed to succeed in her quest."

"Hermione must really care for him if she worked herself to the point of collapse to save him."

"I think it is more than merely caring for him," McGonagall muttered.

"You think she loves him?" she whispered.

"Yes," Dumbledore replied. "She was quite upset upon her return, thinking it was too late. Neither one will admit it, especially Severus, but I am quite sure they both are taken with each other. It' will just take some time for things to grow between them. Neither is careless with their hearts."

Hermione smiled into her pillow. Severus would be quite stubborn, she didn't expect to hear him admit anything for a long time.

"How are they?" she heard Madam Pomfrey enter the room, the smell of rich Hogwarts food following her in. Hermione's stomach let off a traitorous growl.

"I'm sure Miss Granger will be quicker to admit she's been awake for the last few minutes if you let her know you have news of Professor Snape."

"You have news about Severus?" she asked, sitting up and shaking off a wave of dizziness as she did so. Looking around she saw she was in Gryffindor Tower. Harry was lying in the bed next to her, and the window overlooked the lake, so she guessed she was on the boy's side.

"Oh, Hermione!" Molly smiled and enveloped her in a tight hug. "How are you, dear?"

"Sore. Still tired. I have a bit of a headache, too. And hungry," she said, eying the tray of food carried by a house elf who was standing behind the Healer.

"And eager to hear news about Severus, which I will happily give you after I check you over. Then you may eat, as well," Poppy came forward.

"Do I need to be checked before I eat, too?" Harry's voice came from the bed next to hers.

"You're awake as well?" McGonagall asked, sounding surprised.

"I've been awake for a while. I was kind of hoping you'd shut it and let me go back to sleep," he admitted, smiling as a second house elf bounded forward with a tray laden with food and drink.

Madam Pomfrey clucked as she moved to Hermione's bedside. "Well, Mister Potter, you didn't collapse, so you are free to eat and get out of bed. Miss Granger, on the other hand..."

"Fell down half a flight of stairs," Harry finished helpfully.

"I did?" Hermione winced as Poppy ran a finger over a bump on her head.

"You collapsed, dear," Molly told her.

"While we were walking down the stairs."

"You over-exerted yourself, physically, emotionally, and magically. Your body finally gave out," Poppy was dabbing the sore spot with a cloth, which numbed the area. "You're going to need some rest, and I have a potion to help with the fracture. You'll be staying here for another two days at least."

"I fractured my skull?"

"Not badly. Harry got help quickly, so there was no other lasting damage."

"Oh, no," she groaned.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked.

"Severus kept telling me I must have experienced head damage to want to start seeing him before. If he finds out about this he's never going to be convinced I want to be with him of sound mind now."

Harry started laughing. "Don't worry, 'Mione, we're all thinking the same thing."

"Shut it, Potter," she smiled, throwing a pillow at him.

"Miss Granger," Pomfrey chastised, but there was a smile on her face.

"Can you tell me now what news you have about Severus?" she asked anxiously.

"He is stable. There was some damage to his spine, they're going to have to keep him asleep for about two weeks to make sure he doesn't do any more damage by moving. He also had some damage to his organs, which wasn't helped by years of neglect. He's in for months of physical therapy, but he should pull through."

"Thank Merlin," she sighed, leaning back against her pillow in relief. "When can I go see him?"

"When you've recovered," she smiled.

"So, two days?" she asked, sounding disappointed.

"Let's monitor you and see how it goes," she replied with a sympathetic smile.

She gave her two potions to drink, and excused herself, saying she had a full hospital wing full of patients to see. McGonagall left not long after, after giving Hermione a supportive pat on the leg. Harry chose to stay with Hermione, moving his tray of food to her bed after Molly left to be with her family.

"You scared the hell out of me, Hermione," he said, his mouth full of egg.

"How it was me who collapsed and not you is beyond me," she muttered.

"It must be because I am a big, strong..." he cut off as she shot him a look. "Well, that look is something you got from him."

"It's not easy to be that close to him and not have a little rub off."

There was a soft knock on the door, and they both looked over. A familiar face was peeking in the doorway.

"Jennae!" Hermione smiled wide, beckoning her in.

"Hermione," she came in and sat in a chair next to the bed.

"Harry, this is Jennae. She was my dorm-mate when I was back. Jennae, this is, well, I know it's obvious this is my best friend, Harry Potter."

"Nice to meet you," Jennae shook Harry's hand.

"So you've got all the good information," Harry smirked.

"Ah, it's been twenty-two years, and she was only there for a month. I remember some of it, but the details might be hazy."

"I can deal with hazy details."

She smiled. "How are you, Hermione? I heard you hit your head."

"I'll be fine. How are you?"

"I'm good."

"What have you been doing the last twenty-two years?"

"I've been working in the Department of Magical Transportation. I also got married, and I a beautiful little girl who started Hogwarts this year. She's fine, her father took her home from Hogsmeade when I came up to fight."

"Wow. Congratulations. Who's the lucky man?"

"Bertram Aubrey," she smiled. "And it's kind of your fault. Seeing how happy you were during your time with Severus, and how much it hurt you knowing you had to leave him... I kept thinking it would be nice to find someone like that. After you left I figured I should just go for it. We've been together ever since."

Hermione smiled. "What about Danielle and Selena?"

Her face fell. "Danielle moved not too long after we finished school. She went to America, away from all the drama. She married someone there, and has three kids. Selena..." she paused, swallowing hard. "Selena was killed by Yaxley. We both joined the Order after school, and while I gave them info about the Ministry she craved a little more danger. She took a job in a pub in Knockturn Alley. They figured out what she was doing, and killed her for it."

Hermione looked at her hands. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "She was very nice."

"It was a cause she believed in, that we both believed in. I honestly couldn't believe that someone as talented, passionate, and bright as you would disappear. I thought as soon as I joined the Order I'd see you again, or at least hear of you again. I was disappointed when I didn't get any news about you. I thought you had run, and it didn't fit who I thought you were. It was in your fourth year that I realized what was going on."

"Apparently I wasn't as unremarkable as I had hoped," she bit her lip.

"You had been in the news before then, obviously, but I thought you were your own daughter. But when they ran a picture of you at the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum everything clicked into place. Remember how you told me a long time ago you spent a term with an International Quidditch Player?"

She nodded.

"When I saw you with him I knew. It was so obvious I was surprised it took me that long."

"Blimey, Hermione, you really stink at the subtlety part of time travel, don't you?" Harry chuckled.

"What did you expect?" Hermione shot back. "The only other time I did it that wasn't for class I stole a Hippogriff and broke Sirius Black out. If Fudge had his head out of his arse for even a second he would have known the Ministry approved a Time-Turner for use at Hogwarts, and put two and two together. Bloody hell, Severus and Dumbledore damn near spelled it out for him and he still couldn't connect the dots. I consider it a win for my subtlety that I was apparently forgotten by most of the people I came into contact with back then, including the very same Professors I've been striving to impress for years."

"How long did it take Severus?" Jennae asked.

"According to Dumbledore? He knew the very first day I arrived."

"That had to be rough. Seeing someone who looked so much like James Potter and you all in one day."

"I cannot imagine what I've put him through in the last seven years," she said softly.

"He'll forgive you," she whispered with a smile, placing a supportive hand on Hermione's arm.

"I hope you're right," she muttered.


Two days later she was cleared to leave, and she took a shower and changed into fresh clothes that Ginny and Luna had brought for her. Harry offered to go with her to St Mungos, but she declined, not wanting him to worry about her reaction to seeing Severus again. It was just after noon when she entered the hospital, nervously approaching the Dai Llewyn ward.

"Can I help you?" a matronly healer asked without looking up from the chart she was writing on as she opened the door.

"I'm here to see Severus Snape," she replied.

"You're Hermione Granger," she said, jaw dropping.

"Yes. I am."

"I was told you have medical power for him?"

"Yes," she said, producing the paper.

"Thank you, Miss Granger. If you'll follow me, I'll take you to him."

The ward was more crowded than when Mr. Weasley had been a patient. About half the beds were filled, mostly with fighters from the Battle. Two had injuries she recognized as coming from Greyback. Several more looked as though they had giant spider bites. One she recognized as a Snatcher from Malfoy Manor. Each had the curtains drawn around their area so they couldn't see their neighbors. The last of these curtained areas was completely enclosed, and Hermione knew it must be where they were keeping Severus. The more well-known, and most-hated, patient got the most privacy. The Healer held the curtain aside and motioned Hermione in.

"Thank you," she whispered, stepping in but not looking at the bed until the curtain was closed. She took a few deep breaths to steel her nerves for the sight, and then looked up, her heart dropping as she did. The crisp white linens of the bed highlighted the ashen color of his skin, and the hospital gown he way lying in betrayed how thin he had gotten. The blankets were drawn to his chest, and his neck and upper chest were covered in thick bandages. He was motionless except the gentle rise and fall of his chest. Cautiously she approached and sat on the chair next to him. Afraid that she'd start sobbing if she opened her mouth she reached out and took his hand with hers. It was still coated in the dust, dirt, and blood of the shack. She sat with him for over an hour before a healer came in to check on Severus.

"Anything you need, dear?" she asked warmly as she finished up.

"Could I... Could I clean him?" she asked, motioning to the dirty hand.

"As long as you are very careful, and don't move his neck I don't think it'll be a problem. I'll fetch you a basin and some soap."

She retrieved the basin, soap, and a small bottle of shampoo, and left Hermione alone. Carefully Hermione cleaned both of Severus' arms, taking the time to make sure the dirt and blood was out from under his fingernails. She charmed his head into place and slid the pillow out so she could wash his hair, working her fingers across his scalp as she worked the lather in, then carefully rinsing with a stream of warm water from her wand. She dried his hair with her wand, slid the pillow back into place, and lifted the charm, watching his head sink slowly into the pillow. She vanished the water and cleaned the basin, then conjured a comb and started working it through his hair, telling him her story in a soft voice to break the silence of the area. She had combed about half his head when the curtain opened.

"There is someone else here to visit," the Healer told her.

"Okay," she said, putting the comb away and sitting back down.

"Hey," Ron whispered, coming slowly into the room.

"Hey," she replied, conjuring a chair next to her before putting the comb away. "What are you doing here?"

"I just brought George here. He's a wreck. I found someone he could talk to for a couple hours."

"I'm sorry," she whispered, tears brimming in her eyes.

"'s alright... well, no, it's not. But it'll be alright. Someday. It's going to take a lot for us to get over this, and I know you're hurting, too."

"I loved him, too. I know he's not my family, but you all feel like part of my family. I'm going to miss him immensely."

"I know. Mum wants you to come stay with us. She knows you were planning on going back to your house, but there's no one there. She doesn't think you should be alone. She's already got Harry coming to stay with us.'

"Tell her thank you. I'll be there a little later."

Ron looked from her to Snape. "This is real, isn't it?"

"Yes," she nodded.

"I was determined, coming in here, to fight for you. But now I don't want to. I don't want to fight for what isn't mine."

"I never meant to hurt you. If I had known in the Chamber..."

"I get it, Hermione. I'm not going to ask for you to justify or explain anything. You shouldn't have to. I just want to go back to what we were. I want to pretend like what happened in the Chamber never happened, and go back to being friends. Because I can't lose you, not totally, and I'm afraid things will get weird if we don't air this out sooner rather than later."

"Oh, Ron," she sighed, hugging him tightly. "This is the best outcome I could have hoped for."

He smiled sheepishly and took her hand. "How is he?"

"They're going to keep him unconscious for a few weeks, hoping his body will repair itself without his moving complicating matters. After that they say he's got a lot of physical therapy to look forward to."

"I'll be here for you. Through all of it. At least, until he wakes up and chases me off with some insult, threat, or both. Merlin knows he's not going to be easy to deal with through this."

"No, he won't be."

"But you're going to stick through it."

"You know me," she smiled.

"I do," he smiled, wrapping an arm around her, and pulling her to him. She relaxed against him, reaching out to entwine her fingers with Severus', and felt hope start to creep over her.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 26 of 29

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