Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 11 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

It took little less than a week for Hermione to settle into a pattern for her summer studies at Hogwarts, a schedule which equally divided her time between her Divination project with Dumbledore and her Animagus training with McGonagall. Of course, Dumbledore was only involved in her Divination work in the most nominal sense; after their initial meeting in which he read to her the very specific detail he'd received via a letter from Trinity's Divination department head, he'd done nothing more than ask her for cursory reports on her progress once a day, usually when she ate breakfast with the other remaining professors. Of course, he had assured her that he'd be available if she have need of him, but the headmaster had also told her that he was confident in her abilities to complete her formidable project without his interference.

On the other hand, Professor McGonagall had been much more active in her role as instructor during their Animagus lessons, especially now that the tutorials had come to involve Hermione sustaining her Animagus form for long periods of time -- usually a few hours -- during which she was forced to perform various physical tasks in order to build her stamina. When the girl had complained that she felt like a circus animal performing stupid pet tricks, McGonagall had merely offered to discontinue the lessons if she found herself not up to the task. Grudgingly, Hermione had squelched her mortification at being forced to play fetch and had characteristically immersed herself in the last stages of training with the hope that she'd be a full-fledged Animagus by the summer's end.

While the physical nature of her Animagus training taxed her nerves, Hermione had quickly discovered -- much to her surprise -- that her Divination project was not the tiresome task she had expected it to be. As per Trinity's specifications, she had been given a Divination reading to interpret and analyze, while utilizing other branches of Divination and her other Magical subjects enrich her understanding of that particular reading. When Dumbledore had chosen crystals for her concentration, she had immediately thought of a half-dozen other subjects that she'd be able to use in her deeper examination of the cast stones. She settled for focusing on three of her strongest subjects in order to make her research more focused and less haphazard: Arithmancy, in which she devised a clever way to analyze the stones in various numerical ways, including their metric masses, densities, Latin names and folk names; Mediwizardry, where she could study the connection between their purported healing properties and their meanings within divination; and Alchemy, where she wanted to conduct various experiments to see if the stones' magical reactions within a laboratory setting had all correlation to their relationships within a cast circle.

The subjects of alchemy and laboratories quickly led to her path to cross the acerbic Potions professor who had spent the first week of her stay purposefully avoiding her. Of course, McGonagall had explained that Snape usually spent as much time as possible away from people during the first few weeks of every term break, Hermione could not ignore the nagging little voice which told her that her presence had been a factor in his apparent invisibility, if only a small one.

In that first week, she'd only seen him once, when he had come across her at her favorite, sun-bathed desk in the library, furiously working on the preliminary research for her Divination dissertation. So absorbed had she been in reading that Hermione didn't notice Snape's presence until he spoke to her.

"I didn't realize that you'd begun to sprout feathers, Miss Granger," he'd stated, the words accompanied by one pale hand reaching up to remove one of the quills she had haphazardly stabbed through her hair. Because of its voluminous length, it now took Hermione two quills to securely pin up her hair.

With his action, a cloud of brown hair tumbled down and Hermione had to push it out of her face as she craned her neck to see Snape properly. "It's a skill I mastered just recently, Professor. I had planned on writing you about it, but it slipped my mind."

He nodded in recognition of her sarcasm, then pointed to the small square of wood on which was placed a scattering of crystals over strange sigils. "I take it that that is the divination reading for your project?"

Hermione placed a scrap of parchment between the pages she'd been reading and closed the book. "Yes, it is. Professor Dumbledore placed a freezing charm over it after it was cast, so I'll have it for the duration of my project."

Snape idly twirled the wispy-feathered quill between his fingers. "Do you plan for this study of yours to last the whole summer?"

Laying her book flat on the table, Hermione twisted in her chair so that she was looking directly at the standing professor. "Is that your not-so-subtle way of asking when I'm leaving? If you'd like to know what I'm doing with my vacation, all you need to do is ask."

"I was merely feigning polite curiosity," he retorted coolly, his spine stiffening as he dropped her quill to the table's polished surface. Despite his apparent frost, she could sense the dry humor behind the words. "I have little interest in anything you decide to do, Miss Granger."

"Are you...well, Professor?" she inquired instead of scathing reply she'd originally planned to his baited comment. She noticed how haggard he looked, his dark eyes more heavily ringed and his skin more sallow than she'd seen it since that night in the infirmary in her seventh year.

"I am as well as can be expected with the sobering knowledge that I'll be subjected to your inane comments during my whole vacation," he answered sardonically, evading the direct question. His hand still hovered over the quill he'd once held, fingers only centimeters from touching the tabletop. "Not to mention the threat of your sermon of Muggle superiority hanging over my head. I still believe that you're more trouble now than you were when you were a student."

Hermione grinned. "You flatter me, Professor."

"Never, Miss Granger," he assured her, his dark eyes like split ink in the way they reflected the light. Although she'd never admit it, Hermione found his eyes to be mesmerizing.

"I can well believe that," she answered truthfully, looking away from his face to watch the sunlight pattern the table with half-fractured rainbows. The rainbows reminded her of her Idol. "I've been meaning to thank you -- in person, that is -- for my Christmas present."

"I noticed how much you liked mine," he explained briskly. "It's an alchemical tradition, for one to pass from master to student. Since I'm the last Potions Master forced to endure your presence in a teaching capacity, I saw it as my duty. Nothing more."

Without much thought into her actions, Hermione laid her hand over his which hovered over the quill. "The words meant a great deal, as well," she told him softly, almost shyly.

For the first time in many years, Snape appeared at a lost for words in the wake of her honest comment. Clearing his throat, he gently pulled his hand away from hers. "They were meant to," he finally managed to say. "I've interrupted your work too long," he added, clearing his throat again. "Good day, Miss Granger."

With that, Snape had swept away from her, dark hair and dark robes swirling in a dramatic flourish as he spun away and moved deeper into the library's recesses.

Then, after that...nothing. In her mind, it all seemed very deliberate -- his avoiding her. And it made her apprehension about seeking him out for help.

But after gathering her famed Gryffindor courage, Hermione had barged into his office and asked him to allow her a small working space in classroom labs so that she could conduct the necessary alchemical tests.

"And you've need of how much space?" he'd asked, obviously displeased that the bothersome creature was not only invading the school, but his personal domain as well. His desk was still as cluttered by parchments and dusty tomes as it was during the school year, leading Hermione to wonder at how much of the disarray could be blamed on students.

"A very small bit," she assured him, emphasizing her statement by pinching two fingers close together in a visional display of small bit. "Just one workbench, at the most. Probably only half of one, really."

Snape steepled his fingers and watched her over the pointed digits, his dark eyes unreadable. With a dramatic sigh, he nodded slightly. "Very well, Miss Granger. If you promise -- on pain of death, mind you -- to not disturb me or my own projects, I will lend to you a workbench in my private laboratory space."

Even before he'd finished speaking, Hermione protested. "There's really no need for that, Professor."

He rolled his eyes. "Have we not had this discussion? Unless your experiences during Spring Term have changed your original statement, I was under the impression we had come to the conclusion you had higher standards in space and equipment than the classroom laboratory could afford. Is that no longer true?"

"No, but --"

He raised a pale hand to halt her words. "You will pre-arrange times with me so that I can plan my own agenda accordingly. However, I will not coddle or otherwise hover over you; I'll adjust the wards for you so that you may come and go without disturbing me."

Hermione gaped at him, unsure as to be flattered by his obvious trust in her or offended by his continued desire to avoid her. Settling for a nebulous feeling between the two, she nodded slowly, distrusting her voice.

However, if Snape's motive in giving Hermione free access into his laboratory had been to avoid seeing her, he'd miscalculated; more often than not, Snape's alchemical research in the lab coincided with hers, even though he was fully aware of her work schedule. And although she made a point to ask him nothing about his own complicated-looking set-ups, Hermione occasionally offered her services to him whenever she had a free afternoon, glad to take a break from the double weight of Divination and Advanced Transfiguration. With little reservation, he'd accepted her help and she sometimes spent whole days helping him with less delicate potions works like Pomfrey's medicinal supply or Filch's cleaning solvents.

She firmly told herself that she helped only out of gratitude for the use of his personal lab and superior equipment. Over and over, Hermione promised herself that it had nothing to do with wanting to spend as much time with him as possible. It was unfortunate that she was never able to convince herself of it.

It had been terse that first morning, with Snape being at his most formal while Hermione had been jittery and unsettled for some reason she couldn't understand. The terseness seemed rooted in awkwardness, as if the rapport they'd developed during Christmas and through their letters had somehow become rusted, leaving them with hindered and uncertain.

Half an hour after Hermione's arrival, all that tension shattered when she'd shrugged off her utilitarian black robe in deference to the rising heat of the small enclosed workroom.

At the sight of what lay beneath the discarded robes, Snape arched an eyebrow, pinning his companion with a questioning look. Hermione chose to ignore him and continued with her work in feigned oblivion to his surprise, unsure of why he looked so...amused?

Was that even amusement on his face which made one side of his mouth twitch upwards?

Even the fact that it could be amusement irked Hermione as she busied herself at removing microscopic shavings of minerals to analyze, thankful for the magical tools which made the job much easier than any Muggle tool could have. It wasn't as if she were dressed indecently -- the very idea of it, coupled with the heat, made her blush into the roots of her hair. McGonagall had assured Hermione that there was little need for her to dress formally during her stay, directing her to "dress as you normally would on vacation...just make sure to have a robe with you in case someone important shows up." Taking the advise to heart, the girl had donned jeans and a T-shirt under her black school robe; she'd decided on clunky boots to protect her feet from any spilled potion and her wild, frizzy hair was pulled up into a high, braided ponytail for the same reason.

There was nothing amusing, unusual or scandalous about what she wore. For the life of her, Hermione could not decipher the slanted look and strange twisted-lip expression Snape was giving her over the rounded spouts of his glass distillation apparatus.

"What?" she finally snapped, stopping in mid-grate. The small quartz she'd held clattered to the work surface with a chalky ping as she glared at him, trying to give exude frosty disapproval despite the beads of sweat dotting her forehead that made all the small hairs on her hairline frazzle and curl. When he looked at her blandly, she added, "Is there a problem?"

"Not at all," he assured her, something malicious like humor in the undertones of his mellifluous voice. "I was simply trying to understand the meaning of the message emblazoned on your shirt."

Having little recollection of which T-shirt she'd grabbed in the early light of dawn and through the fuzziness of half-sleep, Hermione glanced down at her own chest to see what slogan has so caught Snape's attention. She instantly recognized the shirt she'd donned as the one she'd received as a Christmas present from her Aunt Sophia; it, along with a beautiful pair of earrings and some racy undergarments which Carolina would never have purchased for her only daughter, had arrived at her home on Epiphany, late as all of Sophia's presents usually were.

Slowly looking up from her red- and green-decorated shirt, Hermione easily found the humor she'd suspected in Snape's eyes, his mouth twitching further upwards in mocking smirk.

Though her eyes warned him to refrain from comment, Snape had faced many circumstances more frightening than Hermione's wrath and so he felt little compulsion to withhold his sardonic comment. "I was wondering, Miss Granger, if you could answer the question which your T-shirt begs: what exactly is it that Italians do better?"

She opened her mouth to comment, but closed it when she realized that she had nothing to say. Blushing -- it's the heat, she assured herself -- she finally managed a feeble but smart-tongued retort. It -- or her obvious flustered state -- won her a soft chuckle from the normally caustic man.

"Never you mind, Professor."

After that, there had been no awkwardness or terseness between them. While Hermione hesitated to call it familiarity or ease, she recognized it for what it was and enjoyed every minute of it, silently grateful for Snape's intellect, acid sense of humor, and sharp wit, as well as his surprising willingness to share all of them with her.

More than Animagus training, more than the academic challenges of Divination analysis, the simple tasks with which she helped Snape made Hermione's heart ache pleasantly, somehow outweighing in its soft way the pride she took in the academic endeavors her mind so loved.

Damn bloody heart.


"How is your Divination study coming along, Miss Granger?"

Hermione glanced up from the notes she'd been reading as she ate her meal, arching an eyebrow as she answered. "Very well, thank you, Professor Snape. Did Dumbledore ask you to ask me that since he isn't here to have the privilege?"

"Not at all," he assured her. "I was genuinely interested."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Were you?" She knew better than to trust such a seemingly polite answer and waited expectedly for Snape to amend it. It was part of their rapport, the sharp-tongued comments which flew between them under the guise of indifferent courtesy.

"Yes. I happen to be extremely interested in when I'll be able to call my laboratory my own once again."

Hermione chuckled softly as she reached for her juice. "And that's what I get for asking," she replied. She felt, rather than saw, Snape's answering amusement.

"Speaking of your studies," McGonagall began, pulling Hermione's attention farther down the head table where they all sat for the noon meal. "If you aren't busy this afternoon, how would you feel about an extra session? Since I'll be away for a few days next week, it would be good for us to have another meeting this week."

"That's fine," she told her, attention slowly returning to her notes.

"Then we'll meet in the office as soon as you finish your meal."

Hermione nodded her agreement, only half-aware of the action as she was once again engrossed in notes she was reviewing. It had been two weeks since she'd returned to Hogwarts for her summer studies and she'd quickly become accustomed to eating meals with her former professors, enjoying the conversation and camaraderie in which she was allowed to join. She let the familiar background noise of McGonagall's voice interspersed with interjections in Professor Barfrost's Norwegian-accented English wash over her as she continued to read through her particularly detailed notes on the magical properties of serpentine.

She was so absorbed in her reading and her food that she was unaware of the subtle changes in the conversations around her until she heard an unexpected voice ask, "Would ye all excuse me if I stole Miss Granger for a moment?"

Hermione knew that her eyes must have been as wide as saucers as she jerked her head up to see Craig Shannon standing in the threshold of the Great Hall, grinning at her rakishly as if her obvious astonishment amused him.

"Craig!" she exclaimed, rising from her chair hastily and hurrying to him. Even as she moved to throw her arms around him in greeting, she realized that she'd missed him in the month which had passed since their last date. Although she no longer wanted him as a romantic interest, she'd always found him to be a good friend. As if to reflect her warm feelings, she tightened her arms around his neck as he returned her embrace, almost lifting her off the ground.

When Craig released her, Hermione received a friendly kiss before the Irishman finally moved out of her personal space. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Don't think it's because of you, old mum," he informed her, tapping her on the end of her nose in jest. "Angus needed someone to deliver some things to Dumbledore. Since I knew you were here, I figured I'd volunteer -- so, I guess it is for you, after all."

"It's good to see you," she told him. "I feel like it's been ages since last I saw you."

He took her hand, his blue eyes intent on hers. "I'm glad o' it," he grinned. "I'm not expected back until the morrow. Could you spare a few hours and entertain an old friend?"

She bit her lip and glanced back toward the head table in an automatic gesture to find that all of the professors were engrossed in watching their exchange. "I'm sorry, Craig. I'm supposed to meet with Professor McGonagall as soon as we've finished eating."

"Can't blame me for trying, can ye now?"

"Miss Granger," the Transfiguration teacher's voice rang out, cutting off Hermione's reply. "As talented as you are in your lessons, I doubt that this one missed lesson will be of little consequence. Go on and visit with your friend."

"Are you sure it's fine?"

McGonagall nodded. "Of course. It was nice to meet you again, Auror Shannon."

Craig nodded courteously. "You, too, m'am. Under much more pleasant circumstances than the last time."

"Thank you, Professor," Hermione added sincerely before Craig again to pull her toward the Great Hall's towering threshold.

"Come along, Hermione. There's so much I want you to show me. Maybe starting with that Astronomy Tower you told me so much about..."

If Hermione or Craig had spared a glance back at the quietly chatting professors, they might have noticed that one professor was watching them with dark, unreadable eyes, his sharp-featured face twisted into such an expression of displeasure that one might have thought that Harry Potter was in attendance.

Ignoring Craig's teasing about the Astronomy Tower, Hermione did show her friend around many of her favorite places at Hogwarts, including the Gryffindor common room where the Fat Lady commented on her good taste in men and the library where she could have remained all afternoon if Craig had not teased her about it before they both headed outdoors into the bright summer weather for a look-see at the Quidditch pitch, which he found much more fascinating than she ever had. There was also Hagrid's hut to be seen, as well as a quick visit to the dungeons, the greenhouses and -- finally -- a jaunt up to the Tower. In what seemed like a blink of eye, the afternoon hours had passed and Hermione was standing at the school's entrance wishing her friend farewell against a background of the dimming light.

"Take care, my girl," he told her after he landed another quick buss, this one catching her on he cheek. "Be good and don't work too hard, ya hear?"

"Same to you," Hermione said. "It was good to see you again."

After the goodbyes were finished, Craig waved one last time as he walked away from the school grounds proper, moving far enough from the castle so that he could Apparate. Hermione watched until he was no longer visible from the front steps of the building before she reentered the school. Since her meeting with McGonagall had been canceled and she was in little mood to read over her Divination notes, Hermione decided to take advantage of the evening by finishing up some of the lab preparation on which she'd been working in anticipation of her alchemical trials. Since it was about time for the last meal to be served in the Great Hall, she expected to find herself alone as she slipped through Snape's office and used her wand to unlock the serpentine-decorated door.

She found herself otherwise when she saw the dark figure hunched over his own work, milky-blue liquids bubbling over a high flame.

"Good evening, Professor."

"Miss Granger." As he replied, he did not bother to raise his bowed head.

While Snape's response was not uncharacteristic, Hermione still felt as if there were some slight in it. Shaking her head, she rounded the workbenches and approached her own space, satisfactorily eyeing the long line of bottled mineral shavings, each one bearing a neat, white label in her flourished quill-handwriting. "I had thought that you'd be at dinner," she continued conversationally.

"I had thought that you'd still be with your guest." The dark hair hid his face from her view but she once again detected a bite to his words.

"Craig had to leave," she explained, frowning.

"This early? I was under the impression that he'd cleared the whole evening for you. He did want to delight in the wonders of the Astronomy Tower, did he not?"

"We're just friends," she heard herself protesting automatically. The underlying meaning of that statement had not escaped Hermione's comprehension and -- for a moment -- she entertained the notion that Snape's obvious frigid demeanor was due to some sorted of twisted jealousy. She rejected that conclusion, however, but still wondered at his stilted behavior.

"Really?" Finally, Snape lifted his head to look at her and she saw something glimmer in his dark eyes. "That display in the Great Hall had led me to infer otherwise."

If only she could understand the unfathomable nuances of emotion she saw in his eyes on occasion, how much easier these strangely tense conservations would be, she observed silently.

"Yes, well...we were close, but not any longer," she tried to explain clearly, all the while turning red. "I...that is,'s only that...well, I didn't meet him until last term."

That bit of information won her an expression from Snape which was undeniably confused and unquestionably condescending. "Thank you, Miss Granger. Not that I actually care about your personal relationships, but that bit of incoherence has explained nothing."

In Hermione's mind, it should have explained a great deal. After all, Snape had been in the Potions classroom the day she'd proven her immunity to the hayam, had he not? Surely, he should have been intelligent enough to understand what she was trying to explain.

Suddenly, her patience with the whole embarrassing situation vanished. "Perhaps, your memory is faulty, Professor," she snapped. "But I believe that you were the one who informed me of my problem, weren't you? That my immunity to the hayam was because I had already too strong affection in my heart to be coerced otherwise. Since I only met Craig last term it stands to reason that there is little chance of anything between us being construed as serious."

If she had not been so flustered by having to mention the hayam incident, Hermione might have taken some satisfaction in the astounded look on Snape's face as he watched her yank her hair back in a messy bun. He remained silent as she continued to storm around her workspace gathering materials, then furiously began to reduce a piece of serpentine to dust on the tines of her grater.

"I had not realized..."

"What?" she asked grumpily, focused on her work.

He cleared his throat before answering, his voice softening. "I had not realized that the situation illuminated to you by the hayam had not been...settled."

"Well, it has not, at least in the way you mean," Hermione sighed, slowing her angry assault on the mottled stone. "I didn't run off and confess my undying love for him, if that's what you thought."

"It would have been the Gryffindor way," he replied dryly.

"This from the man who tells me that I have latent Hufflepuff tendencies," she quipped.


Her emotions calmer, Hermione resumed her task without an aggressive edge. "Sometimes...things just aren't...right, you know? It would have ended badly had I tried that."

"Are you certain of that?" Snape inquired as he jotted a few scribbles onto a scrap of parchment, observing the milky blue liquid in his flask. Hermione noted that the strange almost-like-jealousy she'd noticed earlier was gone from his voice, but there still remained a tautness in it.

"I am very certain," she told him bluntly, in turns both amused and horrified with the conversation. Here, she was discussing her problems with Snape...with Snape. If her heart hadn't been pounding so loudly that she could barely hear her own thoughts, she might have laughed at herself. Good one, Hermione. Because your day hadn't been difficult enough beforehand.

"Come now, are you doubting your own allurements, Miss Granger? Surely you aren't afflicted with low self-esteem? "

"Not at all," she said in response to his purring sarcasm. "But, as I said...the situation is difficult. The timing...everything is wrong."

"'Is'?" Snape pointed out, resting his hands on the table as he spoke. No longer was his attention diverted to his flask, but focused on Hermione as she nervously shifted her weight from foot to foot. "Are saying that you still care of this same person?"

"I thought you didn't care about my personal relationships?"

"Consider it professional curiosity. Rarely have I had a chance to interrogate someone so thoroughly on their experiences with the hayam."

Hermione bowed her head low over her hands as she worked, searching for a reason to avoid Snape's penetrating gaze. "Fine, then. To assuage your professional curiosity...yes, I still care. I have tried to...forget without much success. Even when I was happy with Craig, I wasn't. Something always...wasn't right." Damn twinges and pangs.

"Fascinating," Snape interjected thoughtfully, as if still processing the information. "And may I know the name of this obviously enthralling individual?"

Although she knew that he was teasing, Hermione lowered her head more closely to the worktable, closed her eyes and fought the twin reactions of blushing bed and feeling faint at the thought of what he'd just asked her. After gathering her wits, she took a deep breath. "That information, Professor, goes beyond professional curiosity into personal nosiness. So, no, you may not know the name of this individual."

"I think that bodes very ill for your chances, Miss Granger," he informed her, still amused. The tautness was gone from his voice and it held only its usual, velvety qualities. "If you're too afraid to say his name, you've little chance of ever resolving this situation."

"It's not I'm afraid to say his name, Professor Snape," Hermione returned resolutely, stressing the last two words strangely. "It's just that it's not as simple as you might think."

"I never thought it was simple," he argued. "Most things, especially important ones, are rarely simple."

"On that," Hermione nodded. "I agree with you most heartily."

With a weak excuse about missing dinner and wanting to speak with McGonagall, Hermione hastily cleared away her work to leave. But, before she exited through the laboratory's hidden door, she turned back to Snape. Suddenly, she was filled with resolve, having come to a long-deliberated decision. "I promise, Professor, that one day...I will tell you his name."

Saying had her say, she swept out of his laboratory and his office, leaving him to wonder at her parting statement.

To herself as she huried out of the dungeons, Hermione vowed that she would tell him the truth -- one day. It had plagued her since she'd first imbibed the potion if she would ever act on those troublesome emotions, and she'd spent countless hours over the year which had passed wondering on that very topic. And, although she had little doubt that "one day" was very far in the future, at least she'd made a decision.

Some day, Severus Snape would know how Hermione Granger felt about him.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 11 of 27

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