Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 2 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

When in doubt -- which she was -- Hermione knew the one place where she could hope to find answers. It was the place where they had found information on Nicholas Flamel in their first year and where she had found basilisk -- in more ways than one -- in her second year. It was a sanctuary to one such as herself who loved knowledge and books and quietude. It was, of course, the library.

The library, despite the lofty and divine connotations it had in Hermione's mind, did not prove helpful to her initially. She had easily found the school copy of Iskiraat al-kimiya, a battered text of oversized pages filled with dark, bold calligraphy. Unfortunately, those elegant lines were Arabic, as the volume was one of the original copies scribed in Cordoba during the late 14th century. Since Hermione's repertoire of foreign languages did not include Arabic, the find was depressing. Another half-hour search, however, amidst the expansive rows of shelves found her in the Transliteration section of the library, a rather small collection sandwiched between the huge Transfiguration section and the half-shelf of tomes written about Transmigration. While it was admittedly a topic she had rarely never had the need to study before, she expertly worked her way through the materials until she found slightly more modern edition of Iskiraat al-kimiya -- or, Alchemical Elixirs -- translated into English, complete with swirling reproductions of the calligraphic illustrations.

Hefting the oversized book back to a secluded corner beneath a tall window, she poured over the text, oblivious to the warm afternoon sun which bounced off the mahogany wood of the table, causing the polished grain to gleam. As she had habit to do with she was consumed with her pursuit of knowledge, Hermione had absently twisted her hair away from her face in a contorted version of a bun, the honey tresses haphazardly held in place by a quill stabbed through the tangle.

It took a little more than another half-hour before she found what she had been looking for, buried deep in the pages of the alchemical work, under 'mind-shaping potions' and cross-referenced under 'love spells.' She greedily plunged into the reading, one hand running the lines as she quickly read the information. Written after the ingredients which she had used in class that day, a paragraph followed in which was discussed information on the aforementioned potion, including a brief history and possible side effects:

"This hypnotic love potion is the strongest of all because there is no such spell nor counter-measure known to negate its effects. Only in the rarest occurrences have a select few been able to escape the ingestion of said elixir without submitting to its coercive properties. In each case, it has been observed that only those who held within their hearts the greatest and most constant of loves for their mates were left unaffected. Over the centuries, this fool-proof method of fidelity and affection has been used by men to test their current and potential wives. Sadly, most women -- even the seemingly most devoted -- fail this trial. The last known woman to have successfully resisted the effects was the Princess Nadir'ah, daughter of the last wizard Caliph of Damascus. It is said that this only occurs when the one held in such affection is the drinker's destined partner... "

After re-reading the paragraph a second time, Hermione closed her eyes in defeat, slumping over the desk as she rested her head in her hands. Sometimes, she thought morosely. There's no point in waking up in the morning.

Surrounded by the silent, calm atmosphere of the empty library, she finally allowed herself to admit what exactly her reaction to the love potion had illuminated. According to the information, it only worked in such a way because she...was destined? the person who she currently held in her heart. Him. And that ... attachment was so strong that it overrode the most powerful of love elixirs. It had not been the most ideal way to discover that what she had thought of as only a passing admiration, born of too much stress and too little sleep, was something more. That he was, in fact, her...what?

Soul mate?

Only is fate is cruel and unusual, she grimaced inwardly. The mere idea of that was madness, in her opinion. Whatever she felt for him -- outside of the more mundane emotions of dislike and annoyance -- was nothing more than a strange and morbid fascination. Maybe even simple curiosity. In Hermione's estimation, her enigmatic opinion of Professor Snape was akin to the odd but all-consuming interest she had developed for Muggle forensic science during the summer between third year and fourth year. She had spent a month of her vacation before going to the Burrow researching on the topic: science books, true-crime books, television documentaries. It was dark, disturbing in many ways, but it was also intellectually stimulating, and beautiful in the same way which mathematics were to logicians, a beauty more of the perfect balance of knowledge and intuition. And those were the exact same sentiments that she would use to describe how she felt for him. Repulsed on one level by the darkness of the fascinating object, but attracted to it on another, and pulled in by the mystery. Because, if Severus Snape was anything other than a snarling, sarcastically malicious was a puzzle. Not to mention a challenging one at that.

Unfortunately, puzzles and challenges were Hermione's Achilles heel.

She blamed it all on her mother. Her mother, a brilliant maxi-facial surgeon, had always encouraged her to learn, to think for herself and to always do her best. Caroline Granger had fostered in her daughter a joy in always challenging herself, always striving to learn more, to more fully understand whatever it was which caught her attention and imagination. Those words of wisdom had created a stubborn, opinionated, scholastic-minded daughter who rarely failed and who refused to be defeated. All of those traits were the ones which made her one of the brightest students to ever attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as Harry Potter's valued ally in thwarting the Dark forces which plagued him. Unfortunately, those same traits were the ones which had caused her to be intrigued with her bastard of a professor.

All things considered, she saw nothing in her feelings toward him which she would consider a good basis for a lasting relationship of any kind.

"I thought I'd find you in here."

The softly spoken comment drew Hermione away from her dismal thoughts as she glanced up to smile at the speaker. "Oh, you know me, Harry," she said breezily, watching him take a seat opposite her. "The library is my second home."

"Yeah, I know." Harry returned her smile, brushing back his messy hair. Behind his glasses, his green eyes ran over the large book which she was currently using for an elbow rest. "Let me guess. That wouldn't happen to be "Iskiraata kimya," would it?"

"That's Iskiraat al-kimiya and yes, it is." she gently corrected, another habit too ingrained to resist.

He shrugged good-naturedly and continued. "Potions was...different today."

"Oh, I should say more than merely different."

Harry grinned mischievously. "I would, too. I just didn't want you to yell at me."

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Thanks."

"So what did the book have to say?"

The girl groaned. "The same thing Snape did, except without the unappreciated sarcasm."

Her friend's eyes widened in surprise. "So, it's true? You weren't affected because you're in love with your soul mate?"

"So it would seem," she sighed. "Although, I am certain that I'm not in love with anyone. Particularly not someone with whom I plan on spending the remainder of my very long life."

"But you do have a crush on someone, don't you?" he wondered.

Hermione's face darkened further. "No. What I feel for...this most certainly not a crush!"

Harry suddenly seemed nervous and he looked away from his friend, choosing to gaze out over the shelves as he asked. " 'Mione, don't get mad or anything but....I mean, who is it? You've never mentioned it to me or Ron or Ginny or Pa---"

"Harry," she said warningly.

He turned back to face her, grabbing her hands in his. "Just tell me it's not Malfoy," he urged, a hint of pleading in his voice.

She looked at him for a moment, her eyes stormy while her face remained impassive. Then, she began to giggle.

"Is that a good sign or a bad sign?"

She laughed heartily. "I'm not sure," she admitted between chuckles. "But you just looked so...adorably....pathetic and....all the stress from this whole situation..." She composed herself, gently squeezing his hands. "I assure you that it's not Malfoy."

He gave her a big grin, relief evident on his features. "Thank god! I was so worried. You've made me very happy, saying that."

"You look it," she teased, her hands still in his.

Catching the teasing quirk of her lips as she tried not to smile, Harry added. "In fact, I'm probably the happiest person in the world at this moment. Especially compared to how I felt a few minutes ago when I was afraid you were going to say Malfoy."

"Give me a little credit," she said. But not much, she added mentally.

Harry stood up, still holding one of her hands. "You're a brilliant girl. I have faith in you. He "tugged on the hand he still held. "Come on, let's head back to the common room. I need help with my Transfiguration homework."

"And here I thought that you were just a concerned friend," she complained, allowing herself to be pulled to her feet.

"I am," he assured as he watched her sling her bag over her shoulder. He draped his arm around her shoulders as they headed toward the exit. "I'm a concerned friend with a problem in Transfiguration."

She leaned into the affectionate gesture. "I feel sooo loved," she deadpanned.

"You know I love you...just not like that."

"A good thing, too." She paused shortly before they stepped out of the library. "Because you certainly aren't my...uh..."

"Soul-mate," he supplied in mock-innocence.

"I'd rather not call it that, thanks."

"True love?" he teased.

"You're very close to death, Harry. Don't push me or I might do You-Know-Who a favor."

"Life partner," he continued, still grinning, as if he hadn't heard her.

"Whatever, you want to call it," she ground out, elbowing him sharply in the ribs. "You aren't it."

"Ow!" he complained, pulling away from her. They stopped walking and she turned to watch him rub his sore side. "All this abuse and here I was worried about you."

"Yeah, yeah," she rolled her eyes, grinning.

Harry's eyes twinkled in a very-Dumbledore-like way. "Don't worry, I forgive you. Blame it on the stress and all."

After promising to refrain from any more bodily harm, the friends -- still joking -- continued on their long trek back to the Gryffindor Tower. Out of the blue, Harry commented, "Lavender is going to be very unhappy, you know. She bet Parvati a galleon that I was your 'secret love' -- her phrase, not mine," he hastened to add. "Parvati said that she was certain it wasn't me -- her mystical eye told her who it really was."

"And who was that?" Hermione had to know, despite the fact that she was supposed to be affronted by the fact that her friends were betting on her in such a fashion.

"Seems her mystical eye is backing Ron, as are a few others. They've about got a bloody betting pool going in the Tower."

"Who else is in on it?" she asked, incredulous. She would have thought that they would have had better things to do than to speculate on who might have her affections. Particularly, when she was certain that the truth was far too strange for any of them to fathom.

"Most of the 6th and 7th years," he revealed. "The votes seem mainly to be for me or Ron; there's been one for Malfoy -- thank God that that one was false -- and a 5th year guessed Neville of all people."

She shook her head in dismay. "And what about you? What have you and Ron have to say on the subject?"

Harry shrugged. "We haven't really talked about it. Except for a shared moment of horror that it could be Malfoy, it hasn't been a topic of conversation. Personally, the way I see it..." He paused, looking uncertain once again. His face was open and honest, his expression diffident but sincere. "Like I said, you're a smart girl. And, according to Snape, this isn't some crazy fancy but something that's strong enough even to override very powerful magic. Whoever it is, you must really care for them...or, you will, sometime in the future. Professor Lupin said he's never heard of this happening to anyone he knew -- not even to my mum and dad when they made the potion in their class. But he has heard tales about the bond that two people have to have....he says it's seen as if it were a cosmic thing."

"You told Professor Lupin about this?" she gaped, eyes wide. "I thought you just said that you haven't talked about it."

"I said, I haven't talked about it with Ron," he reminded her. "Come on, Hermione. I saw how the whole thing distressed you were in Potions and I wanted to know more about it. I wasn't going to trust what Snape said but I'm not like you -- the library is not exactly the first place I think about."

"No," she admitted dryly. "That'd be the Quidditch pitch."

His only answer to that was to smile wickedly and swing his arm around her once again, changing the subject back to his problem in Transfiguration.


Meanwhile, Professor Remus Lupin -- in his second, non-consecutive year as the DADA instructor -- had a number of student essays spread across the large, round table before him, as he thoughtfully read one of them, his quill poised in one hand to make corrections or comments. Across from him, with her papers in much neater stacks, Professor McGonagall was engaged similarly, grading papers with a speed and skill gained from many years in the profession. The only other person currently in the room was the potions master, who sat off by himself in one of the room's corners, a large tome balanced on his black-clad knees. With all three professors working diligently, the staffroom was comfortably quiet except for the occasional popping of the wood in the fireplace. Someone must have added cedar, Lupin thought absently as he heard the fire crackle once again.

"The same thing, every year," McGonagall muttered under her breath as she laid another red-marked assignment on the top of one of her neat piles. "I wonder why children seem to make the exact same mistakes every year?"

"Most likely because the same things remain difficult for them," Remus responded thoughtfully. "I know, even now, I'd rather not rely on my potions-making ability for anything past the knowledge of a third-year. It was something which never came easy for me in school and something I've neglected entirely as an adult."

"Perhaps," she conceded. "I'm more likely to blame bad habits -- once made, they are much more difficult to break." Her eyes narrowed as she flicked her quill across one of the essays. "Even after four years, Mr. Whitby has yet to spell 'Transfiguration' correctly twice in one essay."

That comment won a snorting exhalation of breath which was considered a laugh when passing through Severus Snape's lips. "Let me assure you, Professor McGonagall, that spelling is not only realm of education in which Mr. Whitby is seriously lacking. That deficiency is joined by one in Potions."

Remus was amused by his colleague's comment. "That can't be taken at face-value, of course," he reminded the elder witch. "Everyone knows Severus is unduly hard on most of his students. I'm certain -- in his opinion -- that there isn't one student who isn't seriously lacking in his classes."

"Call it what you will, Lupin," returned he coolly. "But I daresay that your estimation of my opinion is correct. What little hope I may have ever held for the future of the wizarding world died the moment I first set foot in a classroom. And current ones are as idiotic as I have ever seen my 18 years' of instruction."

"Severus!" Minerva admonished hastily. "You can't mean that."

"Oh, but I can."

Professor Lupin looked at Snape carefully. "Oh, come now. Even you must see potential in one student out of the whole lot."

"Is this some kind of flimsy ploy to persuade me that Potter deserves a higher grade?" he wanted to know, his dark eyes watching the werewolf suspiciously from across the room, his book still open.

"No," Remus answered truthfully. "But surely, you won't have me believe that there's no one in this school who has some ability in Potions?"

A frown creased Snape's sallow face, the contortion of facial muscles causing his limp dark hair to fall forward across his forehead. "Young Malfoy proves adequate in my class."

The DADA professor mimicked the gesture, casting his normally pleasant face in a solemn light. "And what of Hermione Granger?" he asked softly. "Can you honestly say -- between we three here -- that she does not prove as 'adequate' as Malfoy? That she, one of the best students in too many years to count, isn't up to your standard?"

His colleague scowled at the questions, yet was hesitant to answer them immediately. Instead, he glanced down at the book he had been reading, his eyes searching the opened page. Finally, he grudgingly admitted, "Miss Granger's work has proved adequate, insofar as the actual product is concerned. Her attitude and behavior, on the other hand, have left something to be desired."

The small concession seemed to relax Remus and the faint lines of tension in his face eased. He returned his attention to the messy sprawl of parchment which he was trying to organize.

"Glad to see that House loyalty hasn't blinded you completely," sniffed the Head of Gryffindor.

Another length of silence followed Minerva's comment, time during which Snape continued to read through his dusty volume while the fire popped and burned in valiant combat against the perpetual damp coldness of the mighty stone castle. It was not until he had managed to stack his mountains of students' work into four serviceable piles that Remus spoke again, something mischievous in his amber-flecked eyes which made him look years younger. "Speaking of Miss Granger," he began, as if there had been no lapse in conversation. "I heard that something odd happened with her during class this afternoon."

"I didn't realize that you were so concerned with Miss Granger," Snape responded, not pausing in his perusal of the book he held. "I thought that honor lay singularly with Mr. Potter."

"What happened?" Professor McGonagall asked anxiously, the paper she had been grading forgotten. "She's not injured, is she?"

"Calm yourself, Minerva," Snape sighed. "Your precious protégé is alive and well."

"Then what happened which was so odd?" she questioned.

When Snape made no answer except an annoyed sound in the back of his throat, Lupin explained. "Harry came to me after class," he told her. "It seems that the seventh-years were working on love potions with highly coercive properties today in Potions."

"You mean, the hayam potion?" she deduced.

"The very same," he affirmed, nodding so that his gray-threaded hair swung loosely around his face. "And Hermione wasn't all."

"Wasn't....affected?" McGonagall, who had been leaning forward in anticipation of the tale, settled back against the high back of her chair, a pensive look of pleasant surprise on her face. "How unexpected."

"That's what I thought when I heard the tale myself," Remus said. "It seems that someone is a very lucky fellow."

"Indeed," she agreed. "Miss Granger is an extraordinary young woman." She smiled. "Any ideas who the boy might be?"

Lupin shrugged. "Harry had none," he revealed. "I asked if it could be him or Ron, but he didn't place much credence in it. He's completely baffled by the whole thing."

"It's so very rare," McGonagall pronounced, glancing toward the seemingly uninterested Slytherin. "When was the last time this happened here? 1985, I think?"

"Yes, a Hufflepuff," Snape replied absently. "As I told Miss Granger, in class. A very rare occurrence, indeed."

"And before that, it had been decades," she went on. "Children usually haven't their true matches by the time they've graduated from school. Takes them a few more years."

"Or even longer," chuckled the werewolf. "Speaking for myself and all other bachelors."

The elder witch nodded her head in agreement as she retrieved the essay she'd been grading. She scanned a few paragraphs before admitting, "At the risk of sounding like the nosy old woman I am, I really I liked to know who the young man is. I find it hard to believe that it isn't one of those two boys."

Remus straightened one of his stacks. "Harry doesn't seem to think so, and one would think he'd know but he is a bit ... unobservant at times, I suppose. But perhaps it's someone else...maybe Seamus or Dean? And then there's that Ravenclaw she studies Arithmancy with."

With a harsh sound of disgust in the back of his throat, Snape rose to his feet, his heavy book tucked under his arm. "If you'll excuse me," he told them, as he crossed to the staffroom door. "But I'd rather not remain for this remainder of this enthralling conversation about Miss Granger's personal life. As if having her in my classroom isn't punishment enough."

He disappeared on the other side of the door, so quickly that neither of his colleagues noticed the book which he had been reading.

A deep wine-colored leather-bound volume, its title written in faded gilt script: Love & Loyalty : the legend of the Hayam.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 2 of 27

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