Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 6 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

During Herbology the next day she saw Severus, but worked mostly with the Ravenclaws. Even so there were several times when she felt eyes on her, and would look up to lock with Severus' gaze for a second or two. He always looked puzzled, like he was trying to figure her out. It was troubling to say the least, like he might have known there was something off about her. She wouldn't put it past Severus to see through her carefully laid-out story. Still, each time she caught him looking she tried to flash him a smile, though each time she did he quickly looked away. For some reason she found it charming and a little flattering.

She didn't get a chance to see him the rest of the day. It was problematic, but expected, that in a normal school setting their paths wouldn't cross much unless they were in class or the library together, and even then nothing was guaranteed. She was going to have to walk the line between normal meetings and supposedly chance encounters to get close to Severus. She still wasn't sure what she was going to do once she got close to him. It felt like turning the tables that she was now watching his every move and trying to know his schedule and movements, but even as a student Severus knew the castle like the back of his hand and easily slipped away while she was preoccupied by her new friends and unable to follow him.

It wasn't until the next morning, which was a Saturday and therefore a day she was not going to be able to talk to him in class, that she was able to catch him alone. She was rounding a corner, heading back to the Ravenclaw tower to gather some things to do some studying in the library. He was coming around the corner in the opposite direction, already heading towards the library. They managed not to collide with each other, but in their sudden stop Severu's notes dropped from his hands and scattered on the floor. He swore, and they both bent down to pick the pages up.

"I'm sorry, Severus," she apologized, even though the near-collision was as much his fault as hers.

He grunted in return, but didn't say anything. She took a quick glance at the notes as she handed him a stack.

"Working on your potions essay?" she asked.

"Condensing it is more accurate," he muttered.

"Wrote too much on the subject?" she looked into his face and smiled.

"I found a few... discrepancies in some information," he returned, taking advantage of their proximity to study her face, his eyes lingering on hers before wandering down to her lips.

"In the potions text?" she asked, trying to sound surprised.

"That, and a few other books in the library," he replied, as if the books, her normal source of information, were often and obviously horribly flawed.

"I'd love to see what you found," she said in genuine curiosity.

He looked her over twice before nodding.

"Great," she beamed. "Let me go grab a few things, and I'll meet you in the library."

"No. I'm going to go retrieve the books from the library. Pince doesn't like it when I try to disprove her precious books and usually finds a reason to kick me out. Let's meet in the empty classroom in the Charms corridor- third door on the right coming from Ravenclaw."

"Okay," she nodded, biting her lip. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

He turned and stalked off without a formal good-bye, but she wasn't expecting one. She ran to Ravenclaw, answered the riddle to open the door, and hurried to her dorm to grab a few books. She was about to leave again when Jennae waved her over.

"Where are you going? The library? If you wait a couple moments, I'll go with you," her friend said, starting to pack her things.

"Actually, I'm going to meet someone for... a study session," she replied.

Jennae had noticed the slight pause, and she smiled mischeviously. "Sirius Black finally manage to charm you, did he?"

"No!" she denied a little too loudly.

"I see. You don't want to admit he finally managed to charm his way into your good graces," she smirked as she stood, and they left the tower together.

"I assure you, Black did not charm his way into any of my graces, let alone my good ones. I want to do a little studying with someone who knows the subject a lot better than I."

Jennae cocked an eyebrow. "From what I've seen and heard, you are quite skilled in pretty much all the subjects. Seventh-year level in many of them. Who knows the subjects better than you?"

"I'm not as good as I appear, I've been working hard to impress the teachers so I'll get good marks when I return to Beauxbatons. I may have studied a little harder than usual. Now I want to keep up that image, and what better way to do so than by studying with some of the best and brightest? And I can hardly keep annoying you."

"You do not annoy me, but if you think there is someone better out there..." she trailed off with fake dramatics, trying to sound hurt but undermined with smile. "So who is this more intelligent person?"

"Just... someone I watched in Potions the other day. He seemed to know what he was doing."

Jennae looked as though she were thinking hard as they came to the Charms corridor. Hermione looked down to see Snape standing outside the room. They locked gazes for a moment, then he disappeared into the classroom. Hermione looked back at Jennae, who was looking at her with one eyebrow nearly in her hair.

"I told you it was someone who knows about potions. See you later," Hermione said quickly, hurrying down the hallway and going into the room without looking back. Severus looked up as she closed the door, and looked relieved.

"I thought you might have invited someone else," he muttered, setting the books out on a desk.

"I wouldn't dream of inviting someone without asking you. I know how highly you think of tutoring someone," she replied, not managing to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

"Now, now, play nice, or I'll return to Slytherin house, and you can study potions on your own."

She suppressed a giggle as she summoned a bench and sat across from him. "Now, what discrepancies did you find?"

"There's a lot of argument out there for the best way to prep different ingredients for brewing, and I've tested many of them. But when you look at the books it seems like none of them have the exact same process for each brew. I'd like to consolidate things into my book. I also have a list of current research, including my own, and I'd like to see how well it meshes with our text, which is woefully outdated."

She smiled slightly. The book hadn't been changed in her time. Obviously Severus didn't find another he liked any better. Perhaps if he survived the war he could write one.

"What would you like me to do?" she asked.

"I'd like you to help me look up some conflicting reports and give me your opinion on the matter. I want to see if you are as good as your confidence lead me to believe."

She rolled her eyes as he tossed a few pieces of paper in front of her, and with a thrill of excitement she remembered this being in the Half Blood Prince's book when Harry was doing so well in potions. The article was about the use of peppermint in potions, and the other piece of paper was an unchanged information and instructions for an Elixir to Induce Euphroia. Still, she looked over the potion and read the article twice before looking up at him. She wasn't surprised he was looking at her, but the intensity of his gaze was a little unexpected, and she was wondering how long he had been staring at her.

"A little bit of peppermint will probably get rid of the nose-tweaking and singing," she said as casually as possible, tossing the papers back at him.

He nodded approvingly. "I've got a theory about stirring potions, and I'm looking for evidence to back it up before I start testing."

"What's your theory?" she asked.

"I think some potions would be helped by the occasional counter-clockwise stir. Stirring in the same direction, while it has proven effective, I think causes ingredients to settle in the middle of the potion and be broken up less effectively. Of course, doing this might prove dangerous in some potions, but I think there is a benefit in many. If you would like, I have some books and articles to look over."

"Of course," she said, grabbing the first book he had nodded towards. "What am I looking for?"

"Potions with side effects that might be helped by a lesser dose of whatever ingredient caused that effect, or that require multiple straining steps to get the right consistency."

She jumped into the project, poring over books, carefully reading the side effects of each potion and comparing it to the list of ingredients, seeing if it could be attributed to any single item. She took careful notes, especially concerning some of the more volatile potions, and lost track of time in the process. When sitting on the bench too long was taking its toll, she let her head roll on her shoulders for a moment, then twisted her back, hearing a few cracks as she did.

"There's only forty-five minutes left in lunch. You should probably go get something," he said without looking up.

She checked her watch, and found he was right. "Aren't you going to get something."

"I am not hungry, and I'd rather work."

"You'd work better with a full stomach."

"You have no idea how I work."

"No, but I have the basic knowledge of the human body, and I know if you ate breakfast you did it well before I did, because you weren't there while I was eating, and I ran into you on my way back up to Ravenclaw from breakfast. So you haven't eaten in a while, and it is hard to concentrate on an empty stomach. So come on," she said, standing and placing her hands on her hips.

His eyes shot up and narrowed in a challenge, but she returned the gaze. "You are going to force me to go, aren't you?"

"Yes," she said forcefully.

"I don't want to leave my work out where anyone might come in and mess things up."

"We'll lock the door. I'm assuming you remember the spell, but I'll do it if you don't."

"I am quite able to lock a door," he snapped.

"Duly noted. Come on," she said, jerking her head towards the door.

He set his jaw and sat up straighter, as though he was unwilling to give up the fight, and she prepared herself to nag him into submission. But then he stood, and stiffly walked out the door, holding it for her as she walked through, looking at the floor to hide her triumphant smile. She waited as he closed the door and secured it, and walked towards the Great Hall with him. Because they were so late for lunch there were few students left in the Hall, many of whom were studying at the tables or playing games. He moved to sit at the Slytherin table, but she grabbed the sleeve of his robe, pulling him down the Ravenclaw table to where the food was still laid out. Two plates appeared as they sat down, and they served themselves. Despite Severus' insistence he was not hungry he eagerly began taking large spoonfuls of beef stew.

"So, you're obviously interested in potions," she said conversationally as she dipped some bread in her stew. "Are you thinking of making a career out of it?"

"Maybe," he shrugged. "It takes a lot to become a Potions Master."

"You would be able to become one easily. Or start brewing for someone. I bet St. Mungos would love to get someone with your talent on staff."

"It's a thought. I do like the subject, and Slughorn has enough contacts he could easily find me someone to study under if I wanted to keep going when school is out."

"It sounds like there's a 'but' you're leaving out."

"It's not my only subject of interest."

"What else do you like?" she asked, as if she didn't know which job he had coveted at school for so many years.

"Defense," he replied simply.

"Ah. Thinking of becoming an Auror?"

"Hardly," he snorted. "They have too high a mortality rate for my taste. Plus it is an occupation that tends to draw those I'd rather not have to spend my entire working career with."

"Like who?"

"Those with over-inflated egos, and quick to hex others. They have a certain self-importance, and like having the job to hide behind as they continue to do whatever they want."

She wanted to press him, but held her tongue. It wasn't hard to imagine who he might be talking about, James and Sirius seemed to be the type to have aspirations of becoming an Auror.

"Are you really thinking of becoming a curse-breaker?" he asked.

"It's an exciting profession, one that would help me get out and see the world a little bit. I love to travel, and it would be nice to be able to go to some of the most exotic places in the world on someone else's dime," she shrugged.

"Have you done any traveling?"

"A little. All over France with my parents. Once to Italy, another time to Spain. Quite a bit of camping, as my father is a fan."

He smirked, and made a production of stirring his stew to find the bits of meat.

"What?" she asked.

"I'm trying to picture you camping like a Muggle. It's not coming up a pretty picture."

"Hey!" she laughed. "I'll have you know I'm quite experienced at camping."

"You look like the type to call living in a rented cabin 'camping'."

"Believe whatever you want about how I look, but I have practically lived in a tent, cooked food over an open fire, washed clothes in a stream, and all the fun that goes with it. I know it's a little easier for witches and wizards, as our tents are more akin to rented cabins, but I certainly know how to camp."

"You probably just nagged people into submission to do your camping for you."

"You are quite charming, aren't you?" she sighed. "Have you ever been camping?"

"I've never had the opportunity or the inclination."

"Good. Because you certainly don't seem the type to be able to camp," she smirked.

"I could camp if I wanted to. I just don't see the appeal."

"Perhaps you should go sometime. It can be quite cathartic to be away from everything."

"I'll take your word for it."

"Your loss,"she said, finishing her lunch. "Are you ready to get back to potions?"

He stood, offering an arm like a gentleman. "This way, Miss Puckle."

"Careful, Severus," she said as she smiled and took his proffered arm. "You act like this, and I may think you actually have a bit of gentleman in you."

"Don't tell anyone," he muttered as they left the Great Hall together. When they returned to the Charms classroom she pointed her wand at her bench before sitting.

"What was that for?" he asked, taking the seat opposite her.

"Cushioning charm. So my arse doesn't go numb again."

He raised an eyebrow.

"Another few hours on that bench and you'll be wanting one, too. Unless you want one now. Or to come join me."

"I'm perfectly fine, thanks," he replied, shifting a few times to prove his point.

"Suit yourself," she smiled. After an hour and a half he was shifting uncomfortably, but not saying anything. She considered casting the charm without him asking, but decided she could help him better by forcing him to ask for assistance if he needed some. Maybe that was one way she could help him later, though she wasn't sure how it would save his life.

Another hour and he was constantly shifting, his discomfort reading on his face. Scowling he stood up and stretched a few times, then came to her side and dropped unceremoniously next to her, purposefully ignoring the smug look on her face.

"Let me see what you have so far," he demanded, holding his hand out for her notes.

She handed them over and watched as he carefully studied her writing. "Arse feel better?" she asked after a few minutes, noticing he hadn't shifted once since sitting down.

"I'll ask you not to talk about my arse," he muttered. "And yes."

"You're welcome," she replied, biting her lip to contain a snarkier retort.

They talked about their findings and worked side by side for a few more hours, until the smells of dinner enticed them down the stairs.

"Would you like to do more work on this tomorrow?" she asked.

"You have proven you work quite quickly. I think I have enough notes to go into the testing phase."

"Would you like some help?"

"No," he shook his head emphatically. "I prefer to brew alone, especially when it's outside of class."

"Okay," she replied, trying not to sound too disappointed. "Will you at least tell me how things go?"

"Of course. It would be quite rude for me to ignore such assistance."

"Good," she smiled, then bid him good-bye before he had a chance to walk off to the Slytherin table without saying it. She hurried along the table to where Jennae, Selena, and Danielle were sitting. Danielle and Selena were debating Quidditch, much to Hermione's annoyance. Jennae waited until the argument got heated, and thus, louder, to turn to Hermione and ask in a whisper, "Did you spend all day with Severus Snape?"

"Yes," Hermione replied, as though this was no big deal.


"We were studying potions."

"He never studies with anyone."

"It wasn't studying so much as I was helping him with something."

"That's even more odd."

"He really tested my knowledge before he let me help, if that's any consolation."

She frowned. "It's not that I doubt you're smart enough to help. It's just odd that he's letting you help. He's the solitary type."

"It's not fun to be alone for too long," she shrugged.

The last time she saw Snape he locked gazes with her and nodded as he left the Great Hall.

Not bad, she thought as she watched him disappear down the stairs to the dungeons. This is a lot closer than I would have ever been able to get to Professor Snape. Still, I only have twenty-seven days. And I still don't have a definite plan.

She stayed awake in bed that night, trying to figure out what she needed to do, but inspiration eluded her, and that night she dreamed of Snape being attacked in the Shrieking Shack and dying in front of her. She tried to get to him to help, but Harry dragged her out of the room and back to the battle. She was so distracted she found herself face to face with Bellatrix, who somehow wound up sitting astride her again, the same dagger that carved 'mudblood' into her arm now coming down at her throat. She woke up with her face buried in her pillow to stifle her scream, but she could see Jennae was looking at her in concern.

"Bad dream," she managed in a raspy voice.

"Sure sounded like one," Jennae said, concern thick in her voice. "Anything you want to talk about?"

"No. Sorry I woke you."

"It's alright. The offer still stands if you dream again."

"Thanks," she said with a smile before closing the curtains around her bed. She cast silencing charms and slid back into a restless sleep. When she finally woke up the next morning she realized that the glamour charm had faded, and her scars looked nearly fresh. Cursing she dug out the piece of paper she had written the charm Dumbledore used on, and covered them back up. She hurried to breakfast, hoping she was early enough to catch Snape and offer to help him again. She was in the Great Hall all throughout lunch, but he didn't appear then, either. He didn't even come down for dinner, and she was growing concerned. The whole day felt wasted. It wasn't until she was getting ready for bed that she got any indication he was still alive. An owl was pecking at the window in the dorm as she returned from her shower, and Jennae let it it, handing her the small scroll it was carrying.


Experiments on the Draught of Living Death have proven successful.

Thank you again for your assistance.


At least he's not dead, and he made progress, she thought as she climbed into bed. But that didn't change the fact that it was a day wasted, and she only had twenty-six left.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 6 of 29

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