Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 17 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Heart Over Mind

Severus Snape had thought -- nay, expected -- that once Hermione had taken leave from Hogwarts and removed herself as a constant source of agitation that his notoriously unflappable equilibrium and single-minded dedication to work would quickly return and he would be able to count himself free of such silly distraction. And, while he was less tensely coiled in her absence than he'd been in those last days he'd spent avoiding her, Snape was disconcerted that he remained distracted and absent-minded several days after her departure, constantly left with the feeling that something bright and vital was missing every moment of the day.

It was disheartening, to say the least. It worried him that the thought of her or the knowledge of her absence from his physical vicinity could cause him such shifts in emotion and concentration when he'd spent the better part of two decades trying to master such impulses.

Snape tried to ignore it, but some things were beyond even his ability to deny.

Determined to right himself in the face of such heavy personal failings, Snape applied himself intensively to his potions work, dedicated in body if not in mind and spirit. But Snape was nothing if not stubborn and his falsely-motivated devotion to his research kept him obliquely buried in his underground rooms, with nothing for company except maddening memories of Hermione and his own traitorous thoughts.

Despite his unhappiness with the ghostly companions that haunted him, Snape was even less thrilled when flesh-and-blood irritations decided to encroach on his solitude in the humming, smiling form of Albus Dumbledore.

"Oh, there you are, Severus," the elderly headmaster remarked in mild surprise, as if he'd actually experienced the emotion when he'd found Snape with his head bent over a stack of smoke-scented tomes on medieval techniques for mercurial sublimation, as if he'd been in doubt about the professor's location. "I see this is where you've chosen to entomb yourself."

"There's no need for melodrama, Albus," Snape replied crisply, not sparing the headmaster another glance as he remained focused on the faded Latin text. "I hardly think "entomb" is an appropriate description."

"If you ever came above ground, perhaps my melodramatic tendencies would not be wasted on you and your surroundings," Dumbledore replied, his tone deceptively soft and mild.

Snape snapped the book shut. "Is there something that you need, Albus, or are you here simply to distract me from my work?"

Dumbledore peered at him over the rim of his half-moon glasses, the blue gaze cuttingly sharp. "I've simply come to see if you've been overworking yourself, as usual. Ever since Miss Granger has left, I hardly think you've left this office or your lab."

As much as he tried to fight the ridiculous urge, Snape flinched ever-so-slightly at the sound of Hermione's name, the words spoken aloud reminding him of the inner conflict he'd been trying to dispel. Dumbledore, keener than his years, noticed the reaction.

"Perhaps it's because I'm finally afforded the proper amount of space and time to work on projects long neglected due to Miss Granger's meddlesome presence," Snape offered coolly, reaching over another book from the pile at his right. "It was hardly conducive to have the girl barging in and out of my laboratory."

"I understand, of course, Severus," Dumbledore agreed, smiling. "Miss Granger can be very -- distracting, or so I've been told."


Dumbledore seated himself in the only available chair and settled back against the ancient, creaking wood, as if preparing to remain there for a good, long while. Inwardly Snape groaned, but he ostensibly remained focused on his work. "I must admit that I do have an ulterior motive for this visit," the old headmaster admitted, eyes twinkling.

"How shocking."

"Now, now, Severus," he warningly teased. "It's just that I wanted to ask you if you enjoyed the Midsummer festivities. Alas, I was unable to attend, but Madam Rosmerta assures me that you and Miss Granger looked as if you were having a rather good time all your own."

Snape raised an eyebrow but kept his expression neutral. "The Madam exaggerates. Miss Granger decided quite on her own to explore the Hogsmeade festival after she had aided me with my collection of mistletoe. Seeing as how the hour was late, I felt obligated to accompany her as a precaution to ensure her safety."

"Of course," Dumbledore demurred, still teasingly. "I never thought otherwise." The headmaster paused, as if thinking about something. "Although, Remus seemed to think that there was something more to the evening than ensuring Miss Granger's safety."

Snape snorted. "Yes, I know. He shared his ridiculous concerns with me, himself."

"And that is your entire opinion about his suspicions?" Dumbledore inquired as his long, gnarled hands swished through the air to summon himself a cup of tea.

"Lupin's delusional thought processes are no concern of mine," Snape returned scathingly. He closed another ancient book and pushed it aside, the nervous action edging another stack of books dangerously near the edge of his desk.

"Delusion, Severus? I don't believe that Remus's conclusions were as far-fetched as you seem to think them."

Snape stood and crossed the cramped office space to collect another book from a dim, dusty shelf, his back to Dumbledore as he replied. "Exactly what are you implying, headmaster?"

The headmaster detected the current of steel in the deep, level tone. "I am merely explaining that Remus's conclusions were based on very strong evidence," he said, raising his hand as if to soothe the younger man. "You must admit that it looked..."

"Yes?" He intoned icily, turning to watch the headmaster with dark, angry eyes.

"Just as Remus said," Dumbledore stated firmly. "For Muggleborns such as Miss Granger or even half-bloods like Remus and Harry, the occasion might not have looked so -- courtly. Such traditions have rarely survived to have much influence over the newer members of wizarding society. But you, Severus...with your impeccable pureblood lineage, especially with you being the eldest living Lovell is easy to see how it could be construed as a very significant occasion."

"Albus, surely you're overreacting to a very simple --"

"And what did Madam Obenoskey have to say about the sight?"

Snape's eyes narrowed over the edge of his vellum-paged book as he returned to his seat. "Ljalja is a mad old woman who has done nothing but annoy me since I was five years old."

Dumbledore smiled at that. "I've always thought that she was a lovely woman. She was about a decade or so behind me at Hogwarts."

"How interesting," scoffed Snape sarcastically, opening his book with a decided snap.

"You still haven't told me what Ljalja thought when she saw Hermione with you at the festival, Severus."

"That that barmy old hag drew an incorrect conclusion means nothing," Snape told him emphatically, frowning as he slammed his book shut without ever reading a word. "And I don't know what you've come here to insinuate, Albus, but I'll have none of it. It was nothing, just as all of your transparent little plans to make me befriend Granger have been. I grant you that she is not as bothersome as I might have once believed but ---"

"Perhaps I should simply inform Molly Weasley about this excursion that meant so little and allow her to discuss with you," Dumbledore cut in. "I have an inkling that she would think it meant a great deal."

For a brief moment, Snape was struck with the absurd turn which the conversation had taken. What exactly was Dumbledore's point? He knew that his own motives had been exactly as he'd stated them: he had went to Midusmmer simply to watch over Hermione and made sure no harm befell her. Of course, it had only been later that he'd understood that there was more to his feelings for her than what he'd originally believed...

Uncomfortable with the subject, his own thoughts on it and the direction Dumbledore was driving the conversation, Snape stood stiffly, tucking one stack of books under his elbow. "You presume too much," he declared before sweeping out of his own office, robes swirling and dark eyes blazing with some unidentifiable emotion.

"Perhaps, dear boy, you simply presume too little."


Upon taking her leave from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hermione Granger had expected the remainder of her summer to pass in the same fashion as the preceding summers had. She would -- as she'd told Snape -- finish some reading, help her mother in the garden and generally take a few weeks of well-deserved rest before she had to return to Ireland for fall term at Trinity.

But now, not even a month later, as she tried to fit her most important belongings into the space afforded her by two large trunks and a light valise, Hermione knew that she had been wrong.

For one, Hermione would not be returning to Trinity.

Despite the serious departure life had taken from her well-laid plans, the first few days back at home had progressed just as she'd expected. There had been some reading, mostly from her mother's well-stocked paperback collection, and there had been some gardening, mostly the harvesting of Carolina's prized basil, before the weather had taken its customary turn to rain and clouds. The only significant occurrence in those first weeks had been Ginny's visit to the Granger household and the conversation she'd had with her best friend. True to the decision she had made at Hogwarts, Hermione had summoned up the courage to confide in Ginny the truth about the hayam and Snape.

Even weeks later, as Hermione examined the overflowing bookshelves of her small bedroom in an attempt to decide what to take with her, she still found amusement from the memory and spared a fleeting smile as she recalled with great clarity that moment of confession.

It had taken place in the Grangers' kitchen where she and Ginny had had lunch; after the meal of homemade pesto and penne, the two had remained at the table to enjoy the cookies which Carolina had permitted grudgingly into her sugar-free pantry. Over lunch, they'd talked of Ginny's problems, of her troubles with Harry, over her fears about what was happening. Unlike Hermione, Ginny had lived all summer in the midst of Order activity, her mother and father coming and going, the strain of the new developments showing in every premature line in Harry's face or hard set to Ron's jaw. Listening, Hermione had again felt that nagging doubt that -- perhaps -- her decision to immerse herself in academia had been prompted as much by fear and cowardice as it had a desire to become an excellent healer. She'd shrugged away the guilt, however, and had focused on addressing her friend's concerns...

"It hasn't really gotten too much better with Harry," Ginny admitted softly, idly toying with a strand of her vibrantly red hair. "I think -- I know -- that it really isn't about me -- us. Ron told me that Harry's told him that -- he thinks it'll be soon. You know, the end. The confrontation."

Hermione nodded, remembering Lupin's words at Hogwarts about the escalation of violence. "Yes, I've heard that things are becoming more desperate," she sighed. "He hasn't exactly been forthcoming in his letters to me, either. Typical Harry, though. Push everyone away when he needs them the most."

"I think he wants to protect us," Ginny snorted, obviously unimpressed by the idea. "Stupid, yeah, but -- he doesn't want us to worry about it. And -- I don't think he thinks that he'll survive. He said something once about not wanting everyone to be sad if he...I think he's trying to make it easier on me, in case. The git."

Knowing Harry and his stupid hang-ups, Hermione agreed. Thinking of the new dangers and dark changes in the on-going war brought Snape immediately to Hermione's mind and she frowned, eyes focusing blankly on the dismal view the kitchen window offered of the wet, dreary afternoon.

"Hermione, what's wrong?" Ginny asked, noticing the frown.

"Nothing," she sighed in reply. "Just thinking about what you said."

"Yes," Ginny said with faint humor. "My dismal love life depresses me a great deal as well."

She returned the humor with a half-disapproving look. "That's not what I meant, Gin."

She shrugged, helping herself to another cookie. "Well, you're smarter than I thought you were about avoiding all this romantic dribble. It only complicates everything."

"I know, Gin. I know."

Something about Hermione's tone must have caught Ginny's attention because she narrowed her eyes, visibly concerned. "What's really wrong, Hermione?"

She tore her eyes away from the window once more. "That obvious?" she asked lightly, abashed.

"Only to your oldest friends," Ginny assured her. "You can tell me what's wrong, you know."

"There's nothing actually wrong," Hermione told her, nervously fiddling with the edge of her long-sleeved shirt, eyes fastened on her fingers. "But I do know how you must feel. About Harry -- when he goes out into danger and you don't know how you're supposed to act because all you can do is try not to worry yourself into an early grave. I know. There's someone that I worry about that way -- someone I care about deeply," she finished quietly, eyes still downcast. "Someone I love like that."

Ginny couldn't hide her surprise. "Craig?"

"No." Hermione steeled herself and looked up into Ginny's lively brown eyes. "Someone that I've loved for a great longer than I've known Craig. The person that I -- that the hayam -- you remember. Seventh Year."

"I remember," Ginny nodded. "And I remember that you wouldn't tell me who it was."

She nodded. "Because then I didn't mattered. But I've come to realize that it does. And I do love him -- god help me, but I do."

"Hermione..." Ginny's imploring tone asked the question for her.

"Snape," Hermione replied, her voice remarkably steady. "I'm in love with Snape."

To say that Ginny had been surprised by Hermione's confession would have been an understatement of the most heinous variety. The youngest Weasley had not simply been surprised: her face had went slack with shock, eyes wide and mouth dumbly hanging open. When she'd seemed to have regained her wits a moment later, all she'd been able to muster was a pathetic, "You must be joking!"

But Hermione had not been joking and she'd told her as much. Then Ginny, still not fully recovered, had yelped before exclaiming, "SNAPE?"

Luckily for Hermione, Ginny had managed to calm down after a long litany of incoherent mumblings such as "This is completely mad!" and "Hermione, you're completely mad!" to a point where serious conversation had been possible.

In slow fits and starts, the story -- so long held in secret -- had spilled from Hermione's lips as she told Ginny of her correspondence with Snape during the school years, the time spent with him at Christmas and summer holidays. She told her about the Idol he'd given her for Christmas and the gift of the amethyst. Hermione spoke of her worries for him, something she knew that Ginny could appreciate, as well as nice he could be ("in his own way, you understand") when they were alone and the way he'd helped her about Giselle's death. When she'd begun recounting her feelings about the almost-kiss, or her own limited display of affection as she'd left Hogwarts, Hermione had worried that the mere notion of Snape kissing anyone might bring forth objections from her audience, but her friend had remained contemplatively silent, a rapt listener to the twists and turns of Hermione's tale.

By the tale's completion, Ginny had been supportive and conciliatory though she'd never quite lost that look of horrified surprise. And though she'd been little help in terms of advice, her friendly ear had been immensely appreciated -- even if she hadn't been able to stop herself from wincing at the thought of Snape almost kissing Hermione at Midsummer.

In the present, surrounded by stacks of her belongings, Hermione allowed herself a brief flare of amusement from the memory of Ginny's reaction before she tightened her attention back to the task at hand. The task was the odious one of packing. It was also one which Hermione knew she needed to finish quickly.

She would be leaving in less than twenty-four hours.

She would be leaving because of the letter.

Of course, she had had no idea that the letter was even coming, and so it had been a great surprise to wake up early one morning and pad downstairs to make herself a cup of tea only to find a large, tropical bird sitting on her window sill, a letter for her clamped in its beak.

With trembling fingers and a moment of suspicion -- the thought had crossed her mind that it was another Gred and Forge magic trick -- Hermione had accepted the letter from the lovely, colored bird and offered it a bit of leftover penne before she'd broken the wax seal and scanned the crisply written words set down on the parchment.

Even as she was busily packing, with all of the arrangements made, Hermione still couldn't believe that she was going to Peru.

Her mother had had a similar reaction to the news that her only child had decided to quit her studies at Trinity and move halfway across the world. When Hermione had determinedly announced her intentions to her parents that evening, Carolina had wasted little time with pleasantries...

"Absolutely not! I will not let you go!"

"Mum!" Hermione exclaimed, exasperated. "I didn't ask your permission. I was telling you of my decision."

Carolina's dark eyes glittered dangerously, her hands planted on her hips in an unconscious mimicry of her daughter's stubborn posture. "I'm your mother, Hermione, and I say you aren't going. End of this discussion."

"Carolina..." Will Granger finally interjected, his own patience waning. "At least give her a chance to explain why she wants to go. She must have a good reason."

"There is no good reason for dropping out of school and moving to South America, Will. None!" Carolina told him vehemently, glaring at her daughter as if her disapproving glance could change her mind. "This is exactly what Sophia did when she was this age and look how she ended up!"

"And look at how similarly to your mother you're handling this situation," Will commented dryly.

Carolina turned sharply to look at him. "I am nothing like my mother," she stated dangerously.

Will nodded and beckoned for her to join him on the sofa. "Yes, I know. And that's why you are going to sit down and give your daughter a chance to explain." He paused and eyed Hermione significantly. "And she had better have a very good reason."

Displeased but composed, Carolina took a seat next to her husband and waited impatiently for Hermione's justification. Taking a deep breath, her daughter explained. "I received a letter today from Peru," she told him. "And it was an offer for an apprenticeship at one of the foremost mediwizardry centers in the world. It's the chance of a lifetime, you know."

"But what about Trinity and your training?"

"I'll still get my training, Mama," Hermione assured her. "Apprenticeship is simply a different path for the same end. And the healers I'll be working with wrote to say that with the sound theoretical background I have from my studies that I'll be able to finish my apprenticeship very quickly." She paused, as if choosing her words carefully. "I could be finished with all of my training by this time next year. At Trinity, I'd still have another year after that before I'd be able to apprentice myself at St. Mungo's."

That fact alone had been one of the most important in Hermione's decision to abandon Trinity and the familiar scholastic atmosphere for the unknown that awaited in Peru. After the summer she'd had and her conversation with Ginny, Hermione had once again begun to feel guilty about her insulated role in the dangerous war engulfing the wizarding world.

After having first read the letter, Hermione had been surprised and wary of her sudden, inexplicable bravery; it had, as her mother had later pointed out, smacked of her aunt's well-known antics but that fact had not dissuaded her. But still, a doubt had lingered --

Would it simply be another abandonment of her friends to escape to South America while they stayed and fought against Voldemort? She'd felt something akin to that about her decision to study mediwizardry at Trinity instead of joining Harry and Ron in Auror training. Wouldn't leaving the country be a more complete form of bereavement?

But studying under the healers at the Nazca Institute of the Healing Arts would allow Hermione to feel useful in a meaningful way, something she hadn't while studying at university. Instead of feeling as if she'd chosen the coward's way, she could be doing something constructive while her friends (and Snape) were risking their lives for the Cause. For someone who loved learning as much as she, Hermione had come to feel that perhaps she'd reached a point in her life where simply learning was no longer enough. Even the idea of returning to Trininty now that she'd been offered a chance to go to Peru made her feel claustrophobic and restless.

Not only would it fulfill her need to help and to do -- her Mother Teresa complex, Will called it -- it would allow her to finish her training in half the time, negating the need for four more terms at Trinity and then an apprenticeship at St. Mungo's. By the time she left Nazca, she would be a full-fledged mediwitch, a Healer who could return to Britain and help...

By the time that she'd been sitting with her parents discussing the issue, Hermione had known that she could not not go to Peru.

In the end, her impassioned pleas had convinced her father of her sincere desire to study at Nazca and Will had, in turn, convinced Carolina to stop arguing about it. With Hermione set to leave only a few days after having accepted the position, her mother had been placated into reluctantly supporting her daughter's decision.

Now, with less than twenty-four hours separating her from her trip to Peru where she'd become one of the few, lucky individuals to study with the most renowned healers on earth, Hermione looked around her scattered bedroom in satisfaction as she packed the last, most precious item into the last niche of her second trunk. Protected with as many cushioning charms as she knew, Hermione carefully laid her Idol of Mnemosyne inside the trunk before cautiously lowering its heavy, studded lid and locking it shut.

Noticing the pile of crumpled parchments on her desk, Hermione realized that she had one more important task to finish before she left for Nazca. Pushing aside her half-finished letter to Sophia, Hermione reached for a clean piece of parchment and began to write.


As the summer holidays reached its midpoint, the faculty of Hogwarts School began to slowly return from the summer sojourns, turning their minds to the business of the coming fall term. Some professors -- like Snape, McGonagall and Sprout -- had spent most of their summers at the school anyway and while their colleagues busied themselves with the task of settling back into their rooms and offices, they watched with a sympathetic but superior kind of air about them.

Usually Snape disliked the time of the year when everyone began to trickle back into the school; he considered it the first of many signs that September was rapidly approaching, and with the month came obnoxious students and tedious teaching duties, drawing him away from those things that were most important to him. However, after the strange summer he'd endured, Snape was almost glad to see something happen in so usual a way. Despite himself, he welcomed the indications that he would soon be spending most of his time dealing with idiotic children and ducking exploding cauldrons.

Obviously, his feelings for Hermione had done him more harm than he'd originally thought.

With so many professors having returned, meals again became a more formal occasion, one which all the professors were encouraged -- by Dumbledore's order -- to enjoy communally. The mood at the staff table was a mixture of high and low as excitement and frustration over the coming school year dominated the teachers' conversations, discussions of textbooks and NEWT courses mingling with snippets of tales from summer excursions. As he sat among the chatter and tried to enjoy his breakfast, Snape remained as removed as possible from his colleagues, eating in silence as he allowed the familiarity of the scene to wash over him.

"Have you heard from Miss Granger of late, Severus?" Dumbledore asked lightly as he turned away from his conversation with Professor McGonagall. It was the first time the headmaster had mentioned Hermione to him since their strained dialogue in his office many days before.

"I have not," he answered stoically, taking a sip of his black coffee. He shot Dumbledore a dark look which the older wizard returned with such feigned innocence in his bright blue eyes that even Snape almost believed his sincerity.

"Professor Snape, you look positively murderous," Minerva observed from her place at Dumbledore's side. She was regarding him with a look caught between the humor of her words and the curiosity that had prompted them. Having known him for as many years as she had, McGonagall recognized the sudden tension in his thin form and she watched him with appraising eyes as she waited for his response.

He scowled. "I look no such thing. You are imagining things."

"I haven't heard much from Hermione lately either," Minerva ventured, treading carefully in response to Snape's savage expression. "I had expected an owl from her before now."

"Perhaps she has finally realized that some of us have duties that do not involve answering her constant barrage of questions," Snape supplied, inwardly pleased with the cutting nature of his tone and words, before he returned his full attention to his coffee and toast.

McGonagall and Dumbledore exchanged a knowing look.

As if Dumbledore's question and McGonagall's subsequent inquiry had been premonitions, a tawny hired owl dropped a letter by Snape's plate when the mail arrived a few minutes later. Snape started, surprised when he noticed the post and he gingerly reached for the parchment which bore his name in familiar, precise lines of handwriting.

Snape refused to glance down the line of the table, even though he felt Dumbledore's eyes boring into him. Instead he quickly broke the waxed seal and unfurled the folded parchment to read the lines Hermione had penned.

Professor Snape,

It has been a good three weeks since I've left Hogwarts, so I hope that that time-span was sufficient in giving you some peace from my "insufferable letters." I would have written sooner but there was a great deal of excitement here recently. And I might have written later but I'm not sure when next I'll have the time. Confused? Please allow me to explain.

A week ago I received a letter from the head healer at the Nazca Institute of the Healing Arts in Peru, South America -- a letter asking me if I would be interested in accepting a position there as an apprentice healer in lieu of finishing my mediwizardy training at Trinity. I was surprised, of course; though I've heard of the Institute, I had never even thought of taking an apprenticeship, especially one halfway around the world. As it turns out, the head healer, a witch named Luisa Santo Lucero, is a very close research colleague to one of my professors at Trinity. When she mentioned to Professor Prudhomme that she was looking to fill the vacated position, he gave her my name. As astonished as I was to receive such a offer, I have decided to accept it. I leave tomorrow -- well, today, by the time you read this.

I think you, of all people, might understand why I've chosen to go. At least now I can feel as if I'm making a difference in the world.


Hermione Granger

PS - I still plan on pestering you with letters; don't think that my change of location will deter me.

PPS - No mention of SPEW, do you hear?

As Snape carefully refolded the letter and tucked it away into the folds of his voluminous robes, only one thought rang loudly through his mind.

At least she'll be safe.

Thousand of kilometers away from him but also thousands of kilometers away from the death and danger of the war against Voldemort.

Hermione would be safe.

Somehow that assurance made everything -- even Dumbledore -- a little easier to bear.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 17 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>