Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 22 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

It was past midnight by the time Hermione Granger finally staggered into the darkness of her guest chambers at Hogwarts, exhausted both mentally and physically. Until a handful of time before, she'd still been at the Burrow; the celebration for Harry's release from Madam Pomfrey's care might have begun in the early afternoon but it had lasted well into the night, the Weasley home filled not only with their large clan but also with other close friends who had just "stopped by" in order to wish Harry well on his road to complete recovery. Hermione, who had been at her friend's side since before they'd left Hogwarts, had seen that the well-wishing had done him much good, despite the obvious fatigue he'd been working against in the last few hours of the celebration.

The young witch could only imagine how tired her friend must have been from all the excitement since she herself was bone-tired, dead on her feet -- and she wasn't the one recovering from the physical and magical drain it must have took for him to defeat Voldemort. Factoring in the emotional upheaval of it all, she was extremely impressed by how well Harry had managed himself through the day and suddenly realized that she wasn't the only one who had changed in the time the three friends had been apart. Harry of Fifth Year would have never been able to tolerate the day's events.

It led Hermione to wonder what other changes she might have missed in him and Ron.

Still, she was too tired to be very philosophical -- or else she was just tired enough. Without even lighting anything other than one small lamp on her bedside table, Hermione began her nightly routine. She worked automatically and methodically, without much thought placed into the actions she'd done almost every night for the last few years. The tedium and familiarity of it allowed her mind to linger lazily over the events of the day that had led to her exhaustion. First had been the fight with Mrs. Weasley, followed by the brief conversation with Ginny; then, she'd stolen an hour away to spend with Snape -- by his design, no less -- before she'd had to meet Ginny and the rest of the Weasley family at the Hospital Wing in order to accompany Harry home to the Burrow.

It had taken all of her will power to leave Snape and head to the infirmary -- and Snape, fiendish man that he was, hadn't made her task any easier. She'd been flushed and flustered by the time she'd hurried into the infirmary only to find Harry -- pale but steady -- already dressed and ready to depart, surrounded by a bevy of Weasleys. He had also been looking extremely discomfited since the two female members of the clan had been fussing over him in a way that made him squirmy and self-conscious.

Upon noticing Hermione, he'd shot her a quick smile over Ginny's shoulder before surreptitiously sending her a pleading glance that had begged for her intervention between him and the two Weasley woman, both of them had seemed intent on treating him like a five-year-old with Mazieta's Mumps.

Unfortunately for the Boy Who Lived, Hermione's charity ended where basic self-preservation began and she'd refused to enter that particular fray on his behalf, especially with Molly Weasley promising to be one of her opponents. Instead, she'd woven her way through the congregation of celebrants and had busied herself with helping Arthur collect the various potions that Madam Pomfrey had prepared for Harry to carry away with him. In fact, she and the mediwitch had ended up in a long discussion about Harry's condition and the various ways the elder witch had been treating his numerous ailments. She'd been grateful that that conversation had consumed most of her time before the whole group of them used a Portkey supplied by Dumbledore to reach the Burrow where Molly Weasley had indeed set up a repast that had made Hermione glad that she'd skipped the first two meals of the day.

Once the party -- and there was really no other word for a joyous gathering that involved the devilish Weasley twins -- had begun in earnest, Hermione had made it her goal to stay as far away as possible from Molly since the last thing she'd wanted was a repeat of the morning conversation in front of Harry and the rest of the Weasleys. Luckily for her, Molly Weasley prided herself on being a good hostess and most of her energies had been involved in tending to her guests, especially the young guest of honor. Hermione had watched as Harry continued to politely dissuade Molly from her hovering, mother-hen ways only to have the Weasley matron to be replaced by her much more stubborn and single-minded daughter.

It had been mere chance that they'd ended up alone later that evening, finally able to have a conversation without an audience listening in. They had been in the small but comfortable bedroom that had been designated for Harry's use and Hermione, as Madam Pomfrey had ordered, had been painstakingly explaining each of the remedies as she unpacked them so that Harry would know when to take which potion. She had only been about half-way through the batch when she'd looked up to see Harry staring at her, a strange expression on his face.

"What?" she'd asked him, curious.

"You really like all this mediwizardry stuff, don't you?" he'd asked, gesturing toward all bottles sitting on the table beside them, a touch of awe in his voice. "I mean, this is really what you to do for the rest of your life."

"Of course it is," she'd answered. "If it wasn't, I wouldn't have gone halfway around the world to study it."

Harry had looked lost, ducking his head as he admitted, "I don't know what I want to do."

"What do you mean?"

He'd shaken his head dejectedly. "Now that Voldemort's gone..."

" can do whatever you'd like," Hermione had finished for him, studying him closely as he glanced up at her again. "It's really quite simple."

"I guess," he'd said doubtfully, shaking his head in contrast to his accepting words. "It's just...I've spent a long time fighting and now I..."

"Yes?" Hermione had inquired gently.

"I don't know!" Harry's frustration had shown through in his voice and in the way he'd swiped his hair out of his eyes.

"Calm down," she'd told him sternly, her manner a little like McGonagall's. Harry had obeyed, a little surprised by Hermione's sharpness. She'd smiled at him to soften her words as she'd gently laid her hands on his shoulders. "It's not a race, Harry. There's no time limit, no test to take. You have time."


"No! Listen to me," she'd cut him off. "Voldemort has been dead less than a week and you've only just got out of hospital. Clearly, you need to take some time to think about things. You don't have to make a decision now."

"What if I never figure it out?" he'd asked her softly, head bowed. Hermione had wondered if he'd ever shared these same doubts and worries with anyone else, if Ron or Ginny had already heard this -- if this was something she'd missed about Harry, being so far away for so long.

"You will," she'd assured him, her voice heavy with her own regrets. But she'd pushed them aside in order to offer her friend a little comfort. " have the rest of your life to decide."

It had been painful for her in a bittersweet sense to watch his face as he'd suddenly come to realize that he actually did. She'd felt guilty again, for being so far away these last years while Harry had continued to fight against Voldemort, so sure that he wouldn't live past that day.

Hermione had excused herself not too long after that, tired, thoughtful and missing Snape. Unfortunately, her return had been too late for the tentative meeting they'd arranged. And even though she warned him of the chance, knowing of it herself, she was disappointed that she hadn't seen him but a handful of time the entire day.

She sighed and laid down the brush she'd been using on her hair, deciding that she was too tired to do anything more than sleep. She quickly shimmied out of her robes and into her nightclothes, pausing only to draw her hair back from her face before burying herself under the luxuriant quilts that decorated the bed in her guest chamber. It wasn't until she reached over to dowse the lamp that sat on the small beside table that she noticed a piece of parchment lying across its mahogany surface, folded crisply and addressed to her in a handwriting she'd come to recognize instantly. Abandoning her task of dousing the lamp, Hermione instead reached for the parchment as she pulled herself into a sitting position, leaning back against the bed's ornate headboard as she began to read:

Although I did not doubt your sincerity when you said you would endeavor to return to the castle at the earliest convenience, I did doubt your ability to pull yourself from the clutches of Potter and the Weasley clan with any sort of haste. It has been a failing of yours for as long as I have known you, to indulge them in their need for your presence whenever possible. Though, I suppose it isn't wholly unreasonable given certain recent events in Potter's case.


If you find yourself in search of me tomorrow, I will be spending the majority of the morning in my office. Despite the students' hopes, classes will be resuming soon.

Until then,


It was ridiculous, Hermione decided, to be so pleased over Snape's short, typically brusque missive but she was nonetheless. Smiling as she tucked the note back into its place on her night stand, she took a moment to enthusiastically plump her pillows before finally extinguishing the lamp at her bedside.

She was planning for an early morning.


Despite her best intentions, Hermione hadn't managed to rise from bed all that early the next morning, thanks to several late nights in a row. Once she did wake, she dressed in record time and headed purposely down into the bowels of the castle as soon as she could, ignoring the fact that she'd missed breakfast once again.

When she finally burst into Snape's office, she was surprised to see that he was nowhere to be found. She glanced toward the wall and immediately understood: the serpentine-decorated door that led to his private lab space was visible to the naked eye, obviously a sign that he was waiting for her within. She easily passed through the wards and into the laboratory in which she'd spent so much of her time during the summer.

Snape wasn't working on some potion or checking his inventory of supplies, either of which she'd expected would be reasons that would take him into his labs. Instead, he was pacing around the space, opening various cabinets and pulling things from within, most of which were dropped into a satchel case he had in one hand. Across the workspace were strewn various rolls of parchment, some spread open to reveal their contents while others were merely stacked to the side, as if waiting to be read. As Hermione tiptoed around the workbench, she glanced down at the parchment only to watch the ink disappear from it as she drew close enough to read it.

Finally sensing her presence, Snape stopped his search, turning to see her. His face was tight, drawn and serious -- a look she'd hoped that she'd never have to see again on him, not after that last battle. Something cold clutched in her chest. "What's wrong?" she demanded to know.

In the face of her question, Snape sighed, laying his satchel on one of the workbenches. "Nothing," he answered, his dark eyes softening as he glanced over at her again. When she didn't seem to believe him, he added, "But something has...happened."

"What kind of something?" Hermione asked, suspiciously. She could see the tension in his shoulders, the agitation in the way he clenched his hands at his sides.

Snape moved with his usual strange grace across the laboratory until he was at her side, his pale hands resting warmly on her shoulders. "Nothing that concerns you," he told her in a tone that warned against any more questions. "However, it does need my...attention. I must go."


"As soon as possible," Snape said regretfully.

"That's rather sudden, don't you think?"

"It happened rather suddenly. It was unexpected, I assure you." Snape watched her carefully. "I'm sorry."

"I understand," Hermione assured him, frowning as she added, "But I thought that...that it was over. For you. This kind of...concern..." She glanced pointedly from his drawn face to the parchment covered in disappearing ink, a clue that screamed "Order business" and "espionage" to her.

"I had hoped that myself," he said seriously. "However, sometimes such things are never finished. Not completely." He watched her with dark, knowing eyes.

"When will you be back?" Hermione asked, concern in her every line of her face.

She felt his hands tighten on her shoulders. "Not until sometime in the middle of next week," he admitted.

"I'm leaving Sunday," she reminded him.

"Yes, I know," Snape sighed, sliding his hands down her arms in order to draw her closer to him.

Hermione was still frowning, obviously unhappy with the turn of events. "Well, then maybe we'd better have that discussion about long-distance relationships right now."

Snape's face softened again, humor almost bringing a smile to his lips. "I don't think we have the time for it."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Then you'd better just say yea or nay and be quick about it or else we'll be finished before we're started."

"Then, by all means. Allow me to weigh in on the matter," Snape's smooth voice washed over her and Hermione decided that it wasn't fair that his voice could do that to her. But then he was kissing her and the fact that his lips could do that to her was even more unfair and she'd almost forgotten what she'd asked when he murmured against her lips. "Does that answer your question?"

"I'm not sure," she whispered breathily, once she'd remembered. "Was that a yea or nay?"

Snape's quiet chuckle reverberated in his chest and she could feel it in hers so close were they. She smiled, despite her unhappiness with the situation, despite how unfair she thought it was that they'd had one day -- most of which she spent with Harry and the Weasleys -- together. She smiled because it really was a wondrous thing happening between them and she was grateful for it and that there was promise of it in the future once an ocean no longer separated them again.

"Perhaps I should give you my answer again," Snape told her, eyebrow raised.

"Perhaps you should," Hermione retorted, luxuriating in the feel of his hand tracing along her face as he leaned in to kiss her again.

"...good, Severus, here you are. I need to speak..." Dumbledore trailed off as he swept into the laboratory. Snape and Hermione jumped apart rather guiltily even as Dumbledore was brought up short by the sight of them, a twinkling expression on his face as he looked at them over the top of his spectacles. "Ah, Miss Granger. Hello."

"Good morning, Professor Dumbledore," Hermione answered, color high in her cheeks.

"I didn't expect to you see here, I must admit," he told her pleasantly.

"I was just informing Miss Granger of my imminent departure," Snape explained.

"I'm sure you were, Severus," Dumbledore said, smiling at the two of them in that mischievous, grandfatherly way he had that made Hermione wish the estimable old wizard could meet her nonna. The good humor dimmed some as he nodded to them both. "I'll just step outside until you finish your...explanation," he informed them. "But, Severus, I do need to speak to you as soon as possible."

"Of course," Snape nodded.

Dumbledore nodded again before turning around and disappearing from the room, back into Snape's office.

Hermione sighed. "I guess this is goodbye, then."

"Hermione..." Snape began, his voice trailing off as he searched for words.

She shook her head. "Don't worry. I understand. I..."

Snape hesitantly pushed a few strands of her long, wild hair from her face, his touch soft and fleeting as if he wasn't quite sure of it. "Our timing has left something to be desired, hasn't it?"

"I'll write you as soon as I'm back in Peru," Hermione told him determinedly, as if it were as much a threat as it was a promise. "It'll be waiting for you when you get back here next week."

"That's something to look forward to," he said dryly, though she knew he meant it only to tease her.

"There'll be a great deal more of them between now and Christmas," she told him. "Then I'll be back in Britain, at least until after the new year."

"I think you need to get going, Hermione," he told her softly.

She nodded, taking a step back from and putting space between their bodies once again. He nodded to her in a silent goodbye, his spine stiff and straight as he waited for her to leave. But instead of taking another step away, Hermione stepped forward again -- surprising Snape, with the action -- and grabbed hold of the fabric of his robes around his collarbone and pulled him down so that his lips met hers. It was the first kiss in their short relationship that she'd initiated and she knew that her inexperience was probably appallingly obvious but his mouth was firm and wonderful against hers and when she finally let go of him, they were both a bit flushed.

"Goodbye," she whispered into the dark fabric of his robes before spinning on her heel and hurrying away, not quite sure she'd be willing to leave if she waited much longer. His goodbye echoed in her ears as she rushed past a sympathetic Dumbledore who was still waiting to speak to Snape.

Hermione didn't slow down until she reached the Great Hall.

She'd always hated saying goodbye.



Just as you promised, I did find your letter waiting for me upon my return to Hogwarts. I am glad to know that you arrived safely back in Peru and are as busy as usual. And while I cannot tell you exactly what it was I had to do, I can tell you that it went well. Hopefully, it will be the last such mission I need to undertake.

Not too long after my return, I had a most uncomfortable conversation with Molly Weasley, the subject of which I am sure you can guess. She leveled several idiotic accusations at the pair of us, all of which I believe overestimated my general appeal to the opposite sex and underestimated your intellect and common sense. I told her as much and ended the conversation quickly as I have no need or desire to explain myself to the likes of her. I am continually confused as to how or why you put up with her or her insufferable meddling.

Speaking of people that you are fond of for no reason I can fathom, I've seen Potter here at Hogwarts several times. There is no need for his presence but he continues to subject the castle's denizens with it on a rather annoying consistent basis. He spends a great deal of time with headmaster when he comes and that greatly worries me or, after each such occasion, the headmaster has this look in his eye that makes me think that he's about to do something unforgivable, like offer Potter a position here at the school. Men have quit their professions over less provocation than that.

I would write more but other, mundane matters are calling for my attention. I will write again when I am able.



Dear Hermione,

How are you? I know you tend to think that it's all your fault that we didn't keep in better touch since you moved to Peru but owls do fly in both directions and I could have done a better job in keeping in touch with you, too. So, here I am writing you this owl. I've had a lot more time on my hands lately since I didn't go back into Auror training. Now that Voldemort is gone, I'm not sure that I want to spend the rest of my life fighting Dark wizards, at least not yet. But I'm just as sure that I don't want to go into professional Quidditch either, even though I've got a few offers. So if you have Witch Weekly in Peru, ignore the rumours in them!

Mostly, I've been trying to make up with Ginny for the shabby way I treated her and I've been discussing my options with Dumbledore. I've been up to Hogwarts a few times and the last time I was there, I think Snape was almost nice to me. Well, when he saw me, he snorted and said "Not you again" and walked off -- which is a vast improvement over what he'd said the last time I saw him. It almost gave me a heart attack.

I hope everything's nice there in Peru. Write back soon if you can.


PS - Ginny and Ron say hello, although they're both too lazy to write themselves!


My darling niece,

It is absolutely horrible of you to write me a letter asking for my advice and then to never reply and tell me what happened! Did you decide upon your wildly inappropriate man? And just how wildly inappropriate he is? I keep having these absolutely romantic images of some dashing wizard -- that's the right word, isn't it? -- that you've met but I'm probably getting carried away. Of course, if you'd just fill me in, I'd know, wouldn't I?

So, did you tell him? How did he take it? And have you made use of that lingerie yet? You must share these things with me!

all my love,



Dear Hermione,

I can't tell you how difficult it is to keep a straight face around here when Harry or Ron starts talking about Snape. I mean, really! I'm the only one in the house other than Mum who knows that Snape isn't just this old git of a teacher we once had (sorry, Hermione, but it's true!) and that's all. I know that he's someone you've snogged! And that he's someone who's he's quite good at it, according to you.

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry when I re-read that last sentence.

I still can hardly believe that you two are...what? What do you call yourselves? I certainly can't imagine calling Snape "your boyfriend" because it's utterly ridiculous and calling him "your lover" is a bit too vivid, thanks! I can hardly think about you snogging him; I don't want to contemplate what else you may do with him.

You haven't, have you?

Mum knows, though, and I can't believe she hasn't spilled to everyone yet. I have a feeling that she's told Dad though because when Harry was talking about Snape treating him almost like a human being, Dad got the strangest look on his face and not two minutes later asked about you. Bill may know but I promise I didn't tell him, as much as I'd have liked to.

What I want to know is -- when are you going to tell Harry and Ron? Surely, Hermione, you've thought of what a fantastic kind of explosion that conversation promises to be. I know you have. But still, you can't keep it a secret forever since I doubt Mum will last that long. Are you going to do it at Christmas?

Write back soon!





I'm sure that someone else has probably told you of the current hysteria in here in Britain as the new government tries to convict many of the Death Eaters that have been captured since the Dark Lord's defeat. The most interesting case -- and the one gaining the most publicity -- is that of Draco Malfoy. Despite the general consensus to punish any wizard even tenuously connected to the Dark Lord, he's gathered a bit of public support, especially from the pureblood families that themselves are not under suspicion of dark magic. I must admit that I am curious to see how it will all turn out.

As for this issue of Mr. Hartford's upcoming nuptials, I do believe that I've already shared with you my opinion on attending a wedding. However, if you insist, I will accompany you as your guest to the wedding. I doubt Mr. Hartford will welcome my presence but, for you, I will tolerate the whole affair. Hopefully this one wedding will suffice to assuage your curiosity for the time being and I will not be forced to attend another one, at least until Potter and Miss Weasley decide to "do the decent thing," most likely at Molly Weasley's sanctimonious urging.

Though I have never been particularly fond of holidays since I've become an adult, I admit that knowing that you'll be home around that time of the year has made me sensitive to the fact that the date draws near. In fact, I will even admit to being aware of how many days are left between then and now.

I do look forward to seeing you.




Hermione cara,

Tell me that you'll be home in time for Christmas, please? It won't be the holidays without you and your aunt Sophia is even threatening to visit this year. And, of course, that means that your nonna says that if Sophia comes, she and nonno will come, too. If you aren't here, I'll be forced to kill your nonna and your aunt because they'll drive me mad. I swear, cara. They will.

And besides that, I miss you terribly. I know it hasn't been two months since I last saw you, I miss you so much. Your father says it's all in my head but I feel so much more lonely with you being so far away. I can feel the extra distance in my heart; I know there that you're so, so very far away. I know you love being in Peru but it makes me worry about you. I've always felt helpless in the face of your growing inclusion in the wizarding world at the exclusion of the Muggle but the distance makes it all the more enormous. The fact that that evil lord has been defeated eases my mind some but I still worry about you. Constantly.

Now that I've embarrassed you with my overemotional twaddle, let's discuss Christmas a bit more. What is it that you want for Christmas, Hermione? If you want some things from the wizarding world, you'd best let me know as soon as possible because I'll have to have time to write the Weasleys so that they can make the purchase for us. Molly wrote to me not too long ago and told me that it would probably be safe for us to go to Diagon Alley on our own if we tell Tom who we are but I'd rather not risk it. I'd rather have Ginny pick it up for me, especially since she's so much more attuned to what's fashionable for witches that would still be in your taste. Think on it and let me know. Your father is getting golf clubs from me this year, so if you'd like to get something golf-themed, it'll work marvelously.

I hope to see you as soon as possible, cara. Mi manchi.

Much love,



"Hermione, querida, where are you?"

Hermione quickly folded up her mother's last letter and added it to the stack in her tahuari box before snapping the lid shut. She glanced up toward the bedroom's entrance to see Marisol standing in the doorway, smiling at her. "Ah, there you are, mi amiga."

"Yes, here I am," Hermione smiled back, walking across the room to where her traveling trunk was open and half-full. Most of the surface space in the small bed chamber was bare, and even the bed was stripped of its sheets and coverlet -- all of which were already folded and stashed in Hermione's large trunk. "Just packing the last of my things."

Marisol nodded, glancing around. "I see. When do you return to Inglaterra?"

"The day after tomorrow," Hermione answered as she folded the tablecloth that had once decorated her night stand. "Seņora Luisa is going to meet friends in London and she's letting me travel with her." Hermione laid the folded cloth in her trunk. "What about you? Aren't you leaving today?"

"Yes, exactly," Marisol nodded. "In fact, that is why I came looking for you. I have come to say goodbye. My Carlos is here and I will be leaving very soon."

"Oh, Marisol..." Hermione set aside the tablecloth in order to give her friend a quick hug. "Have a very Happy Christmas and I'll see you after the holiday."

Marisol returned the affectionate embrace, her thick black hair brushing against Hermione's cheek. "The same to you, my friend. Feliz Navidad!" She pulled away, misty-eyed but still smiling. "I have to say that I am so pleased to have seen you so much happier this month since your friends are safe from that terrible Lord Voldemeurte who is dead and gone, thank goodness."

"Thank you," Hermione told her. "And thanks for helping me shop for my family. I would have never gotten the bargains I did without you helping me, especially with my atrocious Spanish skills."

Marisol grinned devilishly. "It was my pleasure, Hermione!" She squeezed her friend's hand. "Give my love to them all when you see them. Especially to su amor, the one whose letters make your face light up. I am most thankful for him."

"And the same to your Carlos," Hermione smiled. "Give him and Esperanza my best."

"I will," Marisol promised. The two witches heard a masculine voice calling from the front door. "That would be him. Adios, Hermione!" With a quick kiss on Hermione's cheek, Marisol was gone. Hermione turned back to place the folded tablecloth in her chest as, a few minutes later, the sounds of Marisol and Carlos's departure echoed through the small, empty cottage.

It was eerily quiet in the bungalow all by herself but Hermione didn't mind it so much, mostly because she knew that she wouldn't be spending the night there alone. As soon as she was finished packing away all her belongings, Robert was coming along and the two of them -- the last two apprentices left -- were heading up to the main complex to stay. She would be staying in the main building until she and Luisa left in two days' time while Robert would be leaving for his own home the next morning. As she laid the folded cloth flat in her trunk, Hermione silently reminded herself to stop by and give Manuelito his present from her before she left for London.

Straightening up, she glanced around the barren room and only saw one personal object remaining: her Idol of Mnemosyne. Hermione carefully picked up the statue and wrapped it one of her spare robes before placing it on the top of the belongings stack in her trunk, secured and protected not only be the soft fabric of her robes but also a number of cushioning charms.

It still surprised her that it was already time for the Nazca Institute's winter holiday.

November and the first half of December had passed quickly for Hermione, especially since the dread that had weighed on her during the first few months of her apprenticeship in Peru had lifted after Voldemort's demise. With work she loved and a constant flow of letters between Nazca and all her loved ones in Britain, the six weeks that had separated her last visit home and her next had flown by quickly, so quickly that she could scarcely believe it. Before she'd realized it, the various trials and tribulations of going home were upon her again -- the tedium of packing, the emotional goodbyes with the friends she'd made, the bittersweet nostalgia that was tied up in leaving a place she liked, all of which was underscored by an impatience to see everyone back in England and the joy that the spirit of the season brought to her, something that was very different from the Christmas before.

With a sigh, Hermione closed the trunk's lid and gave the room one more cursory inspection. Although it hadn't been very long since Voldemort's defeat and since she'd last seen everyone -- her mother, Harry, Ginny, Ron and, most specifically, Snape -- she could hardly contain her happiness. She was eager to see them all again, to tell them of the things that she'd experienced in Nazca, many of which she'd forgotten about in the few days she'd spent in Britain with everything being so overshadowed by Voldemort's death.

And Snape.

Although she'd never admit it to anyone, she was most excited at the prospect of seeing Snape again. It had all happened so fast between them in those last few days: the realization and relief that he had survived, then the confession -- that wonderful, beautiful moment she'd never forget when he first kissed her -- and the those few, snatched moments between then and when he'd left so abruptly. There was still an unreality to the situation, she felt; she needed more proof that it all hadn't been a very nice but delusional dream.

His letters had helped, although there wasn't much difference in the ones he wrote her now and the ones he'd written before. Still there were subtle changes -- his salutations, his signature. He was less biting, more thoughtful but still very careful and so very formal. Hermione felt the differences rather than noticed them, reading between the penned words and allowing the little studied hints of affection remind her that she didn't imagine any of it what happened between them.

But even though Snape weighed most heavily on her mind, her holiday was already bursting with things to do. There was Wyatt's wedding to attend -- and Elena and Maureen to see -- and last-minute shopping to finish and the prospect of seeing her aunt Sophia at Christmastime and her mother to spend time with and Harry to check up on and...

...and Snape to visit as soon as absolutely possible...

And even though Hermione knew that certain confessions loomed large in her future -- none of which she relished -- the excitement of it all still bubbled in her.

No matter what happened, it was promising to be a very exciting Christmas season for Hermione Granger.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 22 of 27

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