Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 4 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

"There you are!" Slughorn said jovially, looking up from a couple other students as she entered the room. "I was wondering if this castle was going to trip you up."

"I walked the route a couple of times so I wouldn't be late," she said, standing next to his desk as he dismissed the other students. It was her second day of classes, and while she could have easily found the potions room with her eyes shut, she took some extra time and came in with just a few seconds to spare.

"I have something for you," he said, holding out a copy of Advanced Potion Making. "I trust you have the rest of your supplies?"

"Yes, sir," she said, patting her bag.

"Good. Put your things away in the designated spot in the stores. The class is finishing their work with the Hiccoughing solution today, and I fear you would be unable to catch up in one days' time. So instead I'd like you to write an essay, as much as you can, on the brewing, use, and storage of this potion. In addition, please try to watch the class, so you will be able to join with us when we start a new potion next week. Do you think you'll be able to do that?"

"Of course, sir."

"Feel free to speak to any of the students about their brewing process if you need a visual aide. I would recommend watching Mister Snape," he said with a nod towards Severus, "for at least some time during the class, as he is quite skilled with the material. And, seeing as he's the only one who doesn't share a work area, you will have the option of working next to him next week when we start a new brew."

She looked over at Snape, and found him staring at her, his eyes daring her to go anywhere near him during the class. She decided to play it safe, speaking only to other Ravenclaws during the class, and since she had already studied the potion once she felt the essay was very easy to write. She got most of it done, then chanced another look up at Snape. He was in his own world, brewing carefully without much of a care to those around him. She found herself unable to tear her gaze away, his work was absolutely mesmerizing, it was hard to believe he was only a student and not a potions Master yet.

He must have had a moment to rest, because suddenly his eyes shot up to meet hers. His narrowed in suspicion and annoyance, and she looked away in embarrassment. She felt his eyes continue to study her, and she scribbled the rest of her essay quickly without daring to look up. With a few minutes left in class Slughorn called for them to all turn their work in she was the first to scurry up and hand her essay in. She packed her things away as everyone else cleared their station. She looked up as she was walking out and saw Snape staring at her through the door. Their gazes held for a long moment, this time she refused to look away, and then he turned and stalked off with a signature swish of his robes.


She paused in a secret passageway before her first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson, still trying to make the appearance of not knowing her way around the castle, and walked in seconds before the bell. The rest of the class was already in their seats, talking, laughing, and several Slytherin boys were demolishing a defenseless Divination book, from which paper was tearing itself and twisting itself into increasingly vulgar images. The moment that Professor Daube, the current teacher serving his one-year sentence, entered the room the papers flattened themselves back out and reattached themselves in the book milliseconds before it was shoved unceremoniously into the offender's bag and kicked under a chair.

"Excuse me, Professor," she said as she reached the front.

"Ah, you must be the new student Albus warned me would be visiting for the next few weeks, he said, adjusting his glasses and wearing a smile that betrayed his fatigue. "Miss Pickle…"

"Puckle, Sir," she corrected, hearing a few people snigger behind her.

"Sorry, Miss Puckle. I do not know where you are at Beaubaxtons, but I ask you gauge yourself during this lesson and come to me if you need any assistance with the background work. Please, have a seat. Any will do," he motioned towards the room. She turned around to find only one seat open, and unsurprisingly it was next to a very irritated looking Severus. She said nothing as she took the seat and, seeing that everyone else's desk was cleared, folded her hands atop it, waiting for instructions.

Professor Daube turned to start the class. "I trust you all have done the reading. Who can tell me the benefits of using non-verbal spells?"

Hermione raised her hand with the rest of the Ravenclaws, as well as a few Slytherins, though Severus' remained stubbornly crossed.

"Ah, Miss Puckle."

"When using a non-verbal spell in a combat situation you gain a slight advantage over an enemy, who does not know what you are casting until it is cast, therefore only being able to place up a basic shield charm which may not work as a specific counter curse or specialized shield, or even ducking as the case may be. And, of course, it gives the caster the ability to be slightly less annoying while performing menial tasks around the house without having to stop conversation to recite every incantation."

"Glad to see you're on the same page as us, Miss Puckle," he said with a grin. "Take five points for Ravenclaw."

She felt a smug smile crossing her lips as she wished she could have recited the same slightly smart-mouthed answer to Professor Snape in her sixth year, but then again it was probably a good idea she couldn't lest she wind up on the wrong end of a particularly nasty non-verbal herself. She looked at Severus out of the corner of her eye, and saw his eyes darting away from her back towards the front, a deeper scowl crossing his lips.

A few minutes later they were told to find a place throughout the room where they and their desk mates could practice non-verbal spells. Unlike when Snape was teaching several lines of pillows suddenly appeared in case a charm knocked a student off their feet, but like when Snape was teaching they were instructed to disarm only, and to use a shield charm in defense.

"You better not mess this up for me," Severus hissed, just loud enough for her to hear, as they took their positions against one wall.

"You better be able to keep up with me, then," she shot back.

Severus was scowling deeper than she had ever seen him when Hermione turned to face him, taking a casual stance with her wand out in front of her.

"Wands at the ready. Cast your spells in three… two…"

Severus' wand sliced the air prematurely, and before Hermione effortlessly cast a non-verbal shield charm she had noticed his lips had moved in a whisper of the curse. Her shield was in time, knocking his spell harmlessly into the wall next to them. His teeth barred, and his wand came down again.

"Langlock," she heard him say, and a burst of blue light came shooting towards her, but she was able to deflect it, and sent a non-verbal disarming charm back at him. His wand was wrenched from his hand before he was able to block it. She caught it and tossed it back to him.

Even over the other groups of students she could hear his growl.

"Levicorpus!" he shouted, and she was barely able to get her shield back up in time, the spell missing her by less than a foot. She shot another disarming charm at him, but he was able to block it, moving his wand in a fluid motion, this time without saying a curse, but a burst of red light came shooting at her either way, and she dove to the side to avoid it. Without even thinking she cast another spell at him before she even hit the floor, but disarming was the last thing on her mind. Her instinctual stunner hit Snape in the chest, knocking him backwards into the pillows. She stood up, feeling somewhat triumphant when he suddenly sat up, shooting another curse at her. She pointed her wand at the nearest desk, which flew in front of her, breaking into thousands of pieces as Severus' curse hit it. Before the pieces had a chance to fall she had shot another curse at him, thick black ropes bursting from the tip of her wand, and he had to dive to avoid them as they twisted tightly around a pillar behind him. They were both aiming their next curses at each other when a powerful shield charm shot up between them.

"Mister Snape! Miss Puckle!" Professor Daube's angry voice brought her back to the reality that she was still standing in the DADA room and not in an actual battle with Severus. She felt blood rushing to her face as, panting, she turned to face her incensed professor, and it was only then she realized that no one in the class was doing the exercise- they had been watching her and Severus fighting in unabashed fascination.

"Twenty-five points from each of your houses! And a detention with me tonight at seven!" the Professor continued, red-faced with anger. "Now both of you are excused for the rest of the lesson. I will be speaking to your heads of house about this."

"Sorry, sir," she muttered, gathering her bag and rushing from the room. Severus made a point of colliding with her as hard as he could as they reached the door at the same time, then skulking off towards the Slytherin dungeon without looking back at her. She huffed, turning to stalk off in the other direction, and becoming more irritated as she went. Severus had gotten her thrown out of class for the first time in her school career because he was a prat who had to show her up, and she had let him goad her into a fight. It was only after her first cup of tea in the Ravenclaw common room that she realized that the incident would do nothing to help her with the reason she was there, in fact there was even less of a likelihood that Severus would ever look in her direction again, and she mentally began to kick herself for losing herself in class. Her only excuse was that Severus was attempting to hex a woman who, for several months before showing up as an unwelcome intrusion in his young life, had to react to any spell cast in her direction as something that would likely kill her and she acted as a recent combat veteran would be expected to react. Not that she could explain that to anyone.

Not long after the rest of the Ravenclaws entered, and Jennae made a beeline towards her, a wide grin on her face.

"That was bloody brilliant!" Jennae said as she dropped into the seat next to Hermione.

"It was nothing. We learned non-verbal spells last year at…"

"Not that, though that was brilliant in and of itself, I've never seen someone our age that skilled with non-verbal spells. I meant you knocking around that ruddy Slytherin git."

"Severus? I didn't knock him around."

"Not at first, no. We could tell you were blocking, and doing it really well. But those ropes at the end were not any defensive spell."

"Well, I don't know what he was hurling at me, but I assumed they were nothing pretty when that table exploded. I guess I thought if he were a bit tied up he might not be able to kill me or dismember me or whatever he was aiming to do."

"Let me tell you something about Severus Snape," she said with a sigh. "The boy is known for his quick temper, but he is smart. Top of our class, I think, though he doesn't share scores. Every class we've had with him he is the first to pick up whatever spell we're learning. He gets annoyed if anyone is even close. You didn't speak a word while you were casting those spells. You showed him up. That's why he got so angry at you. But it needed to be done. Someone needed to show Snape he is not the greatest magical being in this school."

"I'm not here forever," she murmured.

"But you are here for a while, and it would do him some good to be knocked down a peg."

Hermione bit her lip but said nothing. While knocking Snape down a peg would hold no small bit of satisfaction, it was not the reason she was back here. And the last thing she needed was an even more hostile Snape later in life.


At five to seven she was back in front of the DADA room, waiting for the door to open and usher her into whatever well-deserved punishment she was about to receive. There was the sound of soft footfalls approaching her, and she looked up to see Severus stalking down the hall, looking annoyed at her. Without a word he stood, arms crossed, facing the opposite wall on the other side of the door from her. She opened her mouth a couple times to apologize for what happened, but she couldn't bring herself to it. He had disregarded every instruction- he did not cast a non-verbal, he didn't even try on the first one, and he had started before time, and not one of his curses was a disarming charm. The more she thought about it, the angrier she became until she was mirroring Snape's expression and body language when Professor Daube opened the door.

"Come in, you two," he said, standing aside. Severus was in the room first with a trademark billow of his robes, and Hermione rolled her eyes before following. When she got in the room she saw only one thing out of place- a knot the side of a dragon egg sitting on the desk she shared with Severus.

"Hand in your wands," Daube said, holding his hand out, and reluctantly Hermione's vine wood wand joined Severus' intricately carved wand in the proffered hand. "You will get them back at the end of this detention, the length of which will be determined by the two of you. Your job is simple- you will untie the knot on your desk, obviously without using magic. You have three hours in which to accomplish this task, but if you complete it early you may leave early. However, if you fail to untie it tonight, you will return at 7 o'clock tomorrow night, and every night thereafter, until it is untangled. Do you have any questions?"

"No, sir," they answered in unison.

"Then you may begin."

Without a word Hermione and Severus went to the table, each sitting on a side. Hermione found the end easily accessible, and she took it and started trying to work the knot out from that side. On the other side of the knot she could see Severus doing the same thing. For the first thirty minutes they worked on their sides in silence. Occasionally she would look up at Severus, whose black hair was falling over his face, but not totally hiding his frustration. And, after a while, she was admitting she was getting frustrated as well. At first the knot wasn't proving difficult. She was able to trace the rope back into itself and unwind it from itself, but the further back she worked, the more difficult it became.

"You wouldn't happen to know wandless magic as well as non-verbal, would you?" Snape growled, tugging at something on his end but getting nowhere.

She let off a soft snort of a chuckle, but it immediately turned into a scowl as she traced the rope into a tangle, and she could not see where it wound up. She tried to pull apart some of the knot to get a better look, but she couldn't pull it apart and trace the end at the same time. After five minutes of trying she finally admitted that she wouldn't be able to make progress without getting help.

"Severus?" she asked hesitantly, afraid of his temper and thankful he didn't have his wand.

"Yes?" he snarled, pulling hopelessly on his side, which wasn't budging.

"I'm stuck. I can't keep going without some help. Could you please come here and give me a hand?"

He looked at her for a long moment, then gave up his side as a bad job. He obviously didn't want to be there until the end of the term trying to untie a knot, so if she had a chance of getting it to move he would help her. She showed him what she needed him to do, and he pulled part of the knot apart. Much to Hermione's surprise she could not only easily see where the rope wound to, it practically obeyed her lightest touch. In five minutes they had easily worked out twice what she had done in the full half hour before she had asked Severus to help her. And as she worked she thought, and she gasped as she had an idea.

"What's wrong?" Severus asked.

"It's magic," she said gleefully. "The knot. It's magic. When we're working apart it's hard to untangle, but when we're working together it's much simpler. I'd be willing to bet that we'd never be able to do it without working together."

"So we'll be out of here quicker if we help each other?"

"That's what I'm saying. Sure beats detention every night. Unless you can't get enough of me. In which case I would understand- I know I'm charming and irresistible," she added with a fake smile.

One side of his mouth curled up before he looked down so his hair covered his face. "Let me guess, you'd count modesty as one of your strengths?"

"Of course."

"Then you really are one of the more infuriating people I've ever met."

"You have no idea," she laughed.

They worked together for several minutes, only talking enough to give each other suggestions. When the knot was three quarters of the way untied he asked, "How did you know it?"

"Know what?"

"Non-verbal spells."

"I was taught last year. And my teacher had a bit of a rod up his arse. He wouldn't take failure as an option."

"So you've been doing it for a year?"

"A little more, but yes, about a year."

"So you had an advantage going into our class," he murmured to himself. "I always thought Beauxbatons was a bit of a soft option when it came to wizarding schools."

"Hm," she shrugged noncommittally.

"Why do you go there? You're obviously not French."

"My Mum is," she lied. "She went to Beauxbatons, but moved here to work for Gringotts. She met my dad, who is a Muggle, and settled down here. But she wanted me to go to Beauxbatons, and she figured it would be a good time for us to make the move."

"What does that mean?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

"It means the climate in the English magical community has become somewhat dark as of late. There are whispers something big is going to happen, that it might already be happening. Mum is married to a Muggle. She's afraid of what might happen to us."

"Then why are you here?"

"My Grandfather is dying. We're not sure how long it is going to take, days, weeks maybe, but Dad wants to spend his last days together. And they want me close by so I can visit easily."

There was a long pause. "And when he does pass?"

"I'm going to go back. I like Hogwarts, but I'm not sure how safe it is at the moment."

He allowed for another long pause before he said, "I'm a half-blood."

"And what are you plans?"

"To stay safe," he said shortly.

"I hope you do," she replied, knowing he wouldn't.

"Your mother. What's her maiden name again? I heard you mention it to Lucius."

"Delacour," she replied.

"Pure blood?"

"Not that it matters, but yes."

He opened his mouth as if he were going to argue that something did matter, but seemed to think the better of it. Her jaw set, anger coursing through her as she realized he was already starting to buy into the blood-purity propaganda. Immediately the knot became more difficult to unwind.

"You're upset," he noted.

"The tone in your voice seems to betray that you seem to think highly of blood status. I hate that blood purity rubbish. Muggle-borns can be just as smart, if not smarter, than some inbred pureblood idiot. Obviously wandless magic is possible, even among the so-called 'Mudbloods', just look at underage witches and wizards who don't know about magic being able to perform accidental magic, but much of the rhetoric against them is that they stole magic when they stole wands. If magic is something that can be stolen, why wouldn't they keep stealing it and teaching how to do so to their family and friends? Why wouldn't every man, woman, and child have a damn wand by now?"

He scowled, but didn't reply.

"Blood purity is just a thin façade for people who want to rule over Muggles. Magic is Might rubbish. There is power in that, and they want it. I don't buy into it. I can't buy into it."

The knot had become all but impossible to unravel at this point, and she wasn't even trying. She sat with her arms crossed, jaw tight. "This blood purity rubbish is going to get people killed," she added softly.

He swallowed hard. Being in Slytherin and not a complete moron he knew her words were more true than she could possibly know. People were already dead, but the Slytherins who supported the uprising of the Dark Lord said that the deaths were only to ensure the success of their cause, and that the Dark Lord was trying to keep the deaths of witches and wizards to a minimum. Severus had doubts, but Voldemort's arguments could be quite persuasive.

Each of them sat by the knot, not even bothering to try to work on it, until Hermione calmed herself down by reminding herself that she might as well give up and go home if she couldn't even work out a knot with Severus.

"I'm sorry," she sighed. "My views are not important to this detention."

Severus didn't reply, but cautiously offered her the end of rope they had been working on. They worked in silence until, with two minutes to go before ten o'clock, they finished.

"Very good," Professor Daube said as they showed him the untied length of rope. He handed each of them back their wands, which they both eagerly stored in their robes. "We will be working on the same subject next class period. I trust you two will be able to work together without any more unpleasantness?"

They each nodded.

"You are free to go."

They walked into the hallway and turned toward the South end of the castle, where the Slytherin dungeons and the Ravenclaw tower both were.

"I'm not used to not being the first to know something in a class," Snape said as they walked. "I didn't like being shown up."

"I didn't mean to show you up," she replied. "At first I was just trying to do what we had been told. But then I felt almost attacked, and I responded in kind."

"I lost my temper. I was upset you were doing non-verbal spells and I wanted to best you. I shouldn't have."

She lifted an eyebrow. "Is this some kind of apology?"

He didn't reply, rather he pulled his wand, aimed at a spare scrap of parchment on the ground, and flicked his wrist. The parchment wobbled, but didn't fly into the air with what Hermione recognized as a 'Wingardum Leviosa' charm. "I've been practicing, but I can't seem to do it."

"You did it in class," she pointed out.

"I did?"

"Yes. Not at first, but when we were really fighting you managed a couple without saying anything."

"How did I…?"

"It's easier when you're not focused so hard on it, I found. I know that sounds strange, but…" she trailed off as she heard familiar shuffling footsteps coming towards them from a side hallway, and the soft echo of a cat's meow. They had every right to be out, but if Filch was anything like she remembered, he would not care, and would at least hold them up for a while, possibly to the point where they really would be out of their dorms after curfew and would get in trouble. She made the split decision she didn't want Filch to catch them.

"Let's get out of here," she hissed, grabbing Severus' hand and running back down the hall, ducking into a small alcove hidden behind a tapestry she had found once while reading and walking. The hidden alcove was meant to only hide one, but they were both lean enough that there was just enough room for the two of them, and their bodies were pressed together, facing each other. There would be no going back after hiding here, stumbling out of this little alcove had very few platonic explanations, and Filch would happily bust them for something they were not doing.

"What's going on? How do you know about this…?" Severus started, but Hermione slapped a hand over his mouth and motioned for him to keep quiet, her breasts heaving against his chest as she struggled to catch her breath. In the cramped space it was impossible for Hermione not to notice that the lack of space between them was causing some physical reactions in Severus- he had tensed, his breathing had deepened, and she could feel him starting to grow against her thigh. She swallowed and tried to ignore the quick thrill coursing through her with the realization that she was turning Severus Snape on. Seconds later the footsteps approached, and a grumbling voice could be heard.

"I heard students over here, I did," Filch was talking to Mrs. Norris. "We'll find them. Skin them alive, I will. They're in for a world of hurt…" his voice trailed off as he hobbled down the hall. Hermione waited until there had been quiet for several seconds and she was sure Filch was gone before she removed her hand from Severus' mouth. They looked at each other, then burst out laughing in unison.

"He is a character, isn't he?" Hermione chuckled.

"He is easy to antagonize," Severus agreed, shaking his head. His hair came to land behind his shoulders, giving her an unobstructed view of his face for the first time since she had gone back.

"Hm," Hermione murmured, looking him over.

"What?" he asked, dropping his head so his hair formed its usual curtain over his features.

"I just hadn't seen your hair like that before," she replied, reaching up to push some of it back over his shoulder. "It looks good. You should think about wearing it back or something."

She could have sworn she saw his cheeks flush, but it was gone almost immediately.

"If you want me to help you work on non-verbal spells I will."

From his expression she could tell he didn't trust her to actually follow through, but in the end he said "Sure," and nodded. "But right now we should probably get back to our dorms before Mrs. Norris finds us."

"Probably a good idea."


"Watch your hide," she smiled, then turned to walk down the hall. She felt his eyes follow her all the way down the hallway until she turned the corner.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 4 of 29

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