Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 28 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

"What I fucking need is for you and this bloody hag to leave me be for five damn minutes!" Snape snarled as Harry entered the room where he was getting physical therapy. Harry looked around and saw his former professor looming over Hermione, who was holding her ground, arms crossed, and looking equally as dangerous, the Healer nearby looking as though she wanted to be anywhere else.

"Call me what you will, Severus, but stop insulting the Healers. They're only trying to help. If you make one more cry I'm going to hide your wand until you issue a heartfelt and sincere apology," Hermione said calmly.

"You wouldn't dare," he shot back in the voice Harry recognized as the one Snape used when someone was within seconds of being the victim of a bad hex.

"Try me," she dared.

His eyes narrowed, and his fist clenched, and Harry decided it was time to step in.

"Perhaps a break is in order, yeah?" he asked with as much authority as he could muster, drawing Snape's glare.

"A break is probably in order," the Healer nodded enthusiastically, and she placed a chair behind Severus. Hermione immediately stepped forward, placing one of Severus' arms around her shoulders and hooking an arm around him to help ease him down into the chair. Without being asked she retrieved a cup of water and helped Severus take a drink.

"I'm going to run upstairs for some tea. Would you like some?" she asked him, and Harry could still hear the tension in her voice, though it was well hidden behind genuine concern. He wasn't surprised, Hermione and Snape could both be hard-headed and short-tempered, but as mad as Hermione was about a situation that didn't stop her from loving whoever was drawing her ire.

"No. I'll have some when I get back to my cell."

She let off a noise of irritation, but pressed a kiss to his forehead. "I'll be back in fifteen minutes. Be nice."

He patted her hand twice.

"Care to join me, Harry?"

"I'll be up in a couple minutes," Harry replied. She shot him a look of curiosity before walking out of the room.

"Can we get a some privacy?" Harry asked the Healer.

"I've got a couple more patients to check on," she nodded, and scurried from the room.

"I'm not in the mood to talk, Potter," Snape snapped as Harry drew up a chair to sit opposite.

"I'm sorry, but there's no other time, Professor."

"Don't call me that."

"I've heard about your aversion, but old habits die hard. Unless you still prefer 'Sir'."

"What do you want?"

"I want to talk about Hermione."

His jaw tightened.

"I don't think either of us care to draw this conversation out, so I'll just come out and ask; What are your feelings for her?"

"I don't think it has anything to do with you."

"She's my friend. I'm concerned about her well-being. She's here all the time, obviously concerned about you, and I come here to find you cursing at her."

"Would you like to do this rehabilitation?"

"I'd like to think I would recognize who is trying to help me and have patience with them, especially if one of those people was doing it out of love."

"You made your point. Now you can leave."

"That wasn't my point. Merely a reaction to something I saw today. No. I asked the question for another reason. And it has to do with your patronus."

"What about it?"

"It's a doe."

"Astute observation, Potter. I'd give you house points, but we're not at Hogwarts."

"It's a doe because of my Mum," he replied quickly. "You let me know that, in the memories you left me."

"You actually paid attention. The one time I had hoped you'd skip to the end."

"I know a person's patronus can change because of who they love or want to love. It's why Tonks' changed into a wolf when she started to want Lupin."

"Are you going to give me a magic lesson or finally get to the point?"

"Do you still love my Mum?"

Severus glared at him for a few moments. "Your mother is dead. My feelings for her are immaterial."

"But they could directly effect my best friend, and that is what I care about. If you still have feelings for my Mum, are you going to be able to have feelings for Hermione? She deserves someone who can offer her everything."

"Finally, a point we can agree on," he said, sitting back and focusing on the floor. "You have to understand something, Potter. My feelings for Hermione from when she was eleven until very recently were nothing I am proud to admit now. As bad as you thought my feelings for you were, my feelings for her were worse. I hated her. Your mother hurt me. She ended our friendship when I was most vulnerable. But it was your mother, not you, and part of me could separate the two of you. But there was no separation with her. Every time I looked at her I was reminded of the pain she caused me. She didn't know she did it as it hadn't happened for her yet, but it had happened for me, and I couldn't separate the young her from the one who had been back.

"I did what I could to dissuade her from going back, though looking back I approached that in the wrong way, and probably sealed my fate. Lupin made me realize that in your third year. By that time it was too late for me to try to change how I acted towards her, and part of that was my absolute disgust at the situation and myself. I don't have much in this world, Potter. I was under constant suspicion whenever something bad happened at that school. The only thing I was never accused of was impropriety with a student, and suddenly I had one in front of me who I knew I had slept with. And I was terrified that if I spent too much time around her one of my colleagues who had been teaching back then would remember and figured it out as I had. They barely trusted me before, had they realized who she was I would come under a cloud of suspicion any time the two of us had simultaneous times when we were alone. I was terrified that would happen, because I couldn't quit to save my reputation. Dumbledore and the Dark Lord would not let me. I know Hermione did not mean to hurt me as badly as she did, but I was young, vulnerable, and angry when she left me. And after so many years of harboring pain from many different sources I saw the young, eager girl who started Hogwarts with you as the only one who I could give some of that pain back to.

"Which brings me to your mother. I have never forgiven myself for what happened to her. I wasn't ready to end the friendship, but I know now she held on longer than she should. Still, I held out hope. And I blamed myself for her death. To me, it was easier to hold her on a pedestal and hold onto the feelings she never reciprocated than to accept the fact that someone fell in love with me, especially knowing what I am like now and knowing that she looked past every obvious flaw I have. But as Hermione matured I realized she would have never intentionally hurt me, and that she would never lie about her feelings towards someone. It was never hard to see when she was mad at you, but she's one of the most fiercely loyal people in that school.

"When you saw my Patronus I was at a crossroads. Hermione was no longer my student, a memory I could finally have without disgust and revulsion at the thought. And I knew it was only a matter of time until Hermione had the same memories as I. And that would also be close to the moment where I was going to be in the fight for my life. It is a lot to think about when running a school and trying to keep students safe with the constant threat of the Dark Lord coming to visit. And I decided to do as I always had done. I never wanted a student harmed, and I had sworn to protect you. By extension I had to protect her. You never would have survived without her."

"That's true," Harry chuckled. "She saved my life several times."

"She saved a lot of people, and yet she'll always think of the ones she didn't save. She comforts George every day, and I think she feels guilty that she didn't save Fred when she was messing with time. Every time Weasley visits she questions her decision a little more."

"She can't change that. Ron begged her, she said there was no way to save him without breaking pretty much every rule of time-turners."

"She's obliterated the rules of time-travel recently. Though I guess credit for that must be given to Dumbledore as well."

"What was she like? Back with you, I mean."

"Much as she always was. Stubborn. Witty. Loyal."

"If you still had feelings for my mum, why did you start something with her?"

"She was ridiculously persistent."

"She told us she had no plans of having a romantic relationship when she went back, but things sort of happened that way."

A smile flickered across his face at the memory. "Things may have started somewhat abruptly."

"Which I guess gets us back to my original question."

"The short answer is yes. Perhaps I'm already getting there. I don't know what it's like to have feelings for someone and to have them reciprocate. And some days I wonder why the hell she puts up with me."

"Because she cares for you."

"Is it caring? Or does she feel some sense of obligation towards me?"

"That's not Hermione. She's not afraid to run away from a bad situation."

Severus said nothing, but glanced at the door as though he were hoping Hermione would come walking through.

"She worked herself into a bad spot after the battle. Did she tell you about her accident?"

"Accident?" his eyes shot up.

"She was so drained from the battle and what she did to save you that she collapsed and fell down a flight of stairs. She cracked her skull, though don't tell her I told you. She said something about you thinking she had brain damage before."

"She's fine now?" he asked softly.

"Yes. She had to rest a couple days in bed. She asked about you every couple hours, and came over as soon as she could. If she didn't care about you she had an excuse not to talk about you or worry about you, and the first thing she wanted to know when she woke up was how you are doing."

Severus thought about it for a long moment, then nodded.

"I guess there's only one more thing we need to talk about then," Harry said softly.

"What else?" he sighed.

"You and I."

"I don't know what Black may have told you, Potter..."

"Not that. I don't think we'll ever be friends. There's too much history there, on both sides. But we have one thing in common. We both care deeply about Hermione. And the least we could do for her is to... well, it doesn't have to be like each other. More like not show any animosity towards each other. She deserves to not have to worry about the two of us bickering all the time, or to have to chose between her friends and her lover."

"I think I can manage that," he nodded.

"Good. How about a game of chess, sir?"

Severus nodded, and Harry set up a board between them. Ten minutes later Hermione came in, carrying three steaming cups of coffee in a holder.

"Sorry it took a while," she said, not looking up. "I needed some air, so I went to the..." she trailed off as she looked up and saw them in the middle of a game.

"You're just in time to see him sorely beat me," Harry smiled grimly as Severus' queen overtook one of his knights.

"You never were much of a chess player," she said, handing him one of the coffees. "Extra cream, little bit of sugar?"

"Sounds good."

"And this is for you, Severus," she said, placing another cup on the table next to him. "Black. And yes, it's decaf. Until you're off the sleeping potion no caffeine."

He took her hand and looked up into her face. "Thank you," he said softly, and even Harry could tell he wasn't talking about the coffee.

Hermione smiled at him, reaching up to brush his hair off his face. "You're welcome," she replied.


Weeks passed, and life slowly started to get back to normal. Hermione, Harry, Ginny, Ron, and George were all living at the Burrow, though they finally were sleeping in their own rooms. George had opened up Weasleys Wizard Wheezes in the middle of August to the expectant crowd that would be returning to newly-renovated Hogwarts. Hermione agreed to help him run the business, running the office work, until he felt comfortable taking the job on his own, hired someone else, or hired her permanently. She worked early so she could get out in time to have dinner with Severus. She spent at least three hours a day in the hospital with him, helping with his physical therapy where she could, often staying until he fell asleep. She had hoped he would be out in time for her birthday, but as the day dawned with him still in his bed in St. Mungos she resigned herself to the day without him.

She sat in her room, which was once Percy's, looking down at Mrs. Weasley bustling around the yard. It was a warm late-summer day, the sky blue, and Molly was ready to start celebrating birthdays again. Harry had disappeared for his, though Hermione and Ron knew immediately to check Grimmauld Place. Hermione stayed with him while Ron went back to his family to feed them the lie that he found the old home abandoned. Hermione made a simple meal, and they ate in silence. Ginny's was the next, and she and Harry spent the day together. Percy, still feeling guilty, gamely put up with his mother's insistence on a small celebration, but after dinner everyone wandered away, most before the cake had been served. Molly had sat Hermione down the week prior to ask what she wanted, and while Hermione's plan had been to spend the day with Severus, as she had every weekend, she realized Molly needed a normal birthday celebration, something to show her family hadn't been irreparably damaged, and Hermione agreed to a small party. They invited Jennae, Hagrid, Luna, and Neville, Molly happily made a large cake with a Gryffindor crest. Once she started setting up it seemed to turn into a moment of family therapy; Ginny, George, Arthur, and Ron spent the morning setting up the table, cleaning the yard, decorating, and cooking. Hermione gave them some space, and took a shower. Once the party was over, no later than five as she had insisted, she would go visit Severus.

When she saw Jennae arrive she hurried downstairs. She had kept in touch with her former friend, and the friendship was starting to grow again. Hermione was surprised, especially since she had lied to Jennae pretty much the whole time she was back, but it didn't seem to be in Jennae's nature to hold a grudge. By the time she made it out to the yard Hagrid was also there, beaming widely as everyone started greeting each other.

"Hogwarts isn't the same without yeh," he said as they sat and Molly started passing out drinks. "I though' if any of you lot would be back, you'd be the one."

"I might have, Hagrid," Hermione said with a smile. "But I think I've caused enough scandal for one lifetime."

"That was quite the interesting headline," he smiled widely. Hermione couldn't keep her relationship secret forever, and when she and a healer had taken Severus out for a short walk they had been photographed and the speculation ensued. She was silent for a while, then released a short statement confirming there was a relationship, but denying anything had happened during their time together at Hogwarts. She left the Prophet to speculate after that, but after a week they got tired of guessing and moved back to their favorite topic- Harry.

"They wouldn't be doing their jobs as muckrakers if they didn't speculate that Severus and I were shagging in hidden alcoves in Hogwarts," she murmured, spearing a potato with her fork.

"Well, to be fair, you kind of were, even if they were a couple decades off on the time frame," Jennae replied, and Ginny started snickering.

"Why do you think I was careful to specify 'during my school years'?" she smirked.

"How very Slytherin of you, Hermione," Ginny said.

"Spend enough time around a Slytherin..." Hermione started, but the popping sound of Apparation cut her off. Harry, Ron, Bill, and Arthur sprang to their feet, wands out, but Hermione didn't need more than a glance at the figure at the edge of the wards to clamber over the table, nearly stepping in Ginny's food before jumping down and running towards the familiar billowing black cloak. She ran across the lawn, sliding to a halt in front of Severus and her favorite Healer, an older woman named Mabel who never let Severus' temper get to her, who was accompanying him.

"Hey," she smiled, smiling.

"I'm released from the hospital after more than four months, and all you can say to me is 'hey'?" Severus sneered.

Without a second thought as to her approaching friends Hermione threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist to avoid his neck, which was no longer bandaged but still bothered him on occasion, and stood on her tip toes to kiss him.

"Oi! Don't mind us," Ron shouted after a few seconds. Severus held her to him for another second before letting her break away.

"Sorry," Hermione smiled, cheeks turning red, and she went to take Severus' hand to find it on the top of a black walking stick. "Borrow that from Lucius Malfoy, did you?"

"As a matter of fact, I did," Severus replied, hitting it on the stone. "I had to have one in order to leave the hospital, and I refuse to carry one of the hospital-issue ones."

"Then I will keep all jokes about it to myself. For now. Hullo, Mabel. Glad to be getting rid of him?"

"Doesn't bother me, but some of the other Healers aren't sad to see the back of him," Mabel smiled fondly at her.

"Well, he can be a cantankerous old bastard," she smirked at him.

"Hermione!" Molly gasped.

"You have to admit, she knows how to tell the truth, Mum," Ron grumbled.

"I'm assuming he has some kind of instructions?" Hermione ignored them.

"Keep talking about me as though I'm an old dog at the end of my days," Severus grumbled.

"If I thought you'd take care of yourself, I would trust you with the information."

"When have I ever proven myself untrustworthy?"

"That hallway with the ashwinder venom," she said matter-of-factly.

The corner of his mouth upturned. "I didn't lie to you then."

"But you still lied. And put on a hell of a production in order to do so."


"I'm sorry, Mabel. Is there anything I need to know?"

"He's on a soft food diet," Mabel said, handing over a small folder. "There's a list of what he can eat and what he should avoid. No alcohol yet..."

Severus groaned, and Hermione elbowed him gently in the ribs.

"He'll have to keep doing his exercises, he has a Healer who will come visit him every day to help, but whatever you can get him to do will help. He needs to take it easy for a while; no heavy lifting, no flying, and use the walking stick for any trip longer than a hundred feet or so until he's been cleared to move about on his own. Is he staying here?"

"Yes," she replied.

"No," Severus said at the same time.

"You said in your will that Spinners End is unfit for human habitation," she sighed.

"I've lived there during the summer for years."

"You're not living by yourself."

"It's suited me fine until now."

"You didn't have a spinal injury before."

"I can manage."

"And you can manage here. That way I'll be close, I can help you if you need help."

"Severus, remember you are to have help or you are to go back," Mabel scolded.

"We'd be honored to have you," Arthur added softly.

Severus stared at Hermione for a long moment. "Okay," he agreed.

"Good," she smiled. "Anything else Mabel?"

"Just need a couple signatures. Hippocrates wanted to keep him a couple days, but agreed to release him into your care, so you need to sign off saying you're agreeing to the responsibility," the Healer handed over a couple papers, which Hermione quickly signed.

"Good luck with him, Miss Granger," Mabel smiled warmly. "You know where we are if he gets to be too much."

"If that's the criteria he'll be back before sundown," Ron muttered.

Mabel left, and Hermione took Severus' hand and led him back to the table, fixing him a plate that fit into his dietary restrictions.

"It's good to see you out, Severus," Molly smiled as she started cutting the cake and passing it out.

"I want to express my condolences to your family, Molly..." he started softly.

"No need," she shook her head, unusually focused on her task to hide the tears forming in her eyes. "Ginny told me how you convinced the Carrows not to harm her further a couple times when she was being punished. And what you did for Arthur... My family owes you so much, Severus. The least we can do to repay you is host you until you're well."

He looked at the table, at a loss for words.

The party took a festive turn not too long after that, with Bill and Charlie enchanting some chairs to race, then the group starting up an impromptu game of Quidditch. Hermione and Severus stayed happily on the ground, watching the group. Hagrid disappeared for a while, returning with a trunk of Severus' clothes that had been salvaged by McGonagall from Hogwarts, and a message that she was looking forward to seeing him.

"I'm going to need a few more weeks of recovery to make it through that meeting," he said, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a yawn.

"Are you ready to start getting ready for bed?" Hermione asked.

"I should probably start heading to bed soon."

"I'll go in with you," Molly offered. "Hermione can move in with Ginny, and you can have Percy's room..."

"Mum!" Ginny and Bill's voices groaned in unison from above. Harry, who had overheard, was sitting uncomfortably astride his broom and watching Ron, who was rocketing towards the woods for no discernible reason. Charlie and George sensed an argument, and quickly joined the group.

"Mum, don't you think it's a little unreasonable to ask Hermione and Severus to stay in different rooms?" Bill asked gently

"Hardly," she shot back. "They are too young..."

George burst out laughing. "Mum, in case you didn't notice, Snape isn't exactly a child."

"And neither am I," Hermione pointed out. "Mrs. Weasley, I don't want to start a fight. It's your home, and I will respect the rules you set down."

"Really?" Ginny asked, sounding suspicious.

"Grimmauld Place is always open," she replied with a sly smile.

Harry groaned.

Molly studied them for a long time, then shook her head. "Fine," she sighed. "Take the room together. But for Merlin's sake, be careful. You're too young to have a baby, Hermione."

Severus decided against reminding her that even if he could have a child, he and Hermione weren't foolish enough to forget something as important as contraceptive charms.

"Mum!" Ginny groaned loudly as Molly gathered some plates and went inside.

"Just remember the silencing charms. I'm in the room next door, and I don't want to hear a single thing," George said.

A wicked grin crossed Severus' face. "Mister Weasley, I was your teacher for nearly seven years. Do you remember what it was like during that time?"

"It's coming back to me," he murmured.

"Most of what I could prove you have been duly punished for. However, do you remember the Bubotuber pus?"

"You knew that was us?" his eyes went wide.

"Not to the point where I could prove it to Dumbledore, but I knew who was laughing first when I was unable to sit the next day. The Headmaster refused to let me dole out punishment, merely saying you two were always laughing about something, and it could be a coincidence. But in this backyard the burden of proof is much lower, and I have what amounts to a confession. And I'm not in a particularly generous mood."

"I'm moving in with Ron."

"Severus, be nice," Hermione snapped, unable to hide a smirk. "Don't worry about it, George. I'll make sure there's a silencing charm."

"Insufferable, bossy little witch," Severus grumbled with a grin.

"Would you have me any other way?"

He rolled his eyes, but wrapped an arm around her and pulled her to him. She thanked her guests for coming, gathered the small stack of presents she received, and led Severus into Percy's room. A quick smile passed her lips as she realized that someone, and only Molly and Arthur were in the house, had already widened the bed to fit two and fixed it up nicely. She made sure to cast a silencing charm as soon as she was done putting the gifts onto the small desk.

Severus, who had levitated the trunk upstairs, made sure it was safely nestled in a corner before sinking gratefully onto the bed.

"Does it hurt?" Hermione asked softly, moving in front of him and starting to unfasten the buttons on his cloak.

"Not much. I haven't had to climb stairs since my injury."

"The stairs are besting you?"

"I'm hardly bested," he smirked as she pulled the cloak off and carefully hung it in the closet. She got his night clothes out of his trunk and placed them on the bed next to him, then started to reach for his shirt. She had unfastened the two top buttons when he gently grabbed her wrists.

"It's not the same, Hermione," he murmured.

"What's not?" she asked, stomach dropping.

"Me. I'm not the same. Physically."

"Twenty-two years will do that to someone."

"Not that. I was punished by the Dark Lord. I'm damaged."

"Can you... can we be together physically?"

"Yes, that wasn't harmed. But there's scars."

"You're worried about a few scars. I know you have scars. I knew you'd get them back then. It doesn't bother me," she whispered, making her point by kissing him. She unfastened the rest of the buttons and pushed the shirt off him. There were the long, still-pink scars around his neck from Nagini, and several older, pale scars across his chest and back. She ran her fingers over him, leaning into him, and pressing a kiss to his lips. His hands slid up her sides, slipping under her shirt and pulling her as close to him as he could.

"It's not different for me, Severus. It hasn't changed at all. I don't care what you look like, you're still what I want."

He let off a chuckle of relief.

"I don't want to push you. I'll happily go sleep in another room if you don't feel we're there yet..."

His hands tightened on her. "I've waited twenty-two years, Hermione," he whispered. "I'll admit that most of the time I would not admit I was waiting, but there was always a part of me that was looking out for you, knowing you promised to return."

"I'm yours, Severus. As long as you want me."

He pulled her down to crash his lips into hers, and for the first time in months she felt certain about her future.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 28 of 29

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