Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 23 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

Victoria Gringle and Wyatt Hartford were married on an early December morning, surrounded by their closest friends and relatives.

Severus Snape was present as well, though he was neither friend nor relative; he was there because Hermione Granger, once she'd made up her mind, could not be dissuaded from anything, including her stubborn desire that he attend the nuptials with her.

For her part, Hermione was enchanted by everything she saw at her first Wizarding wedding; she'd had little need to research the topic in the past, so every small detail was new and interesting, from the glittering decorations to Victoria's lovely silken robes to the peculiar arrangement of the bridal party. It certainly wasn't anything like her second cousin's Catholic wedding or any of the several weddings her aunt Sophia had had. As much as she was there to celebrate the day with Wyatt, Hermione was unflinchingly curious about this facet of the Wizarding World compared to her own Muggle frame of reference.

"I think it was a lovely ceremony," Hermione told Snape as they stood close together in the Gringles' living room, sipping the punch that a teary Mrs. Gringle has pressed into their hands a few minutes before. The room was crowded with wedding guests, all talking and laughing and celebrating, the newly wedded couple at the center of attention.

Snape leaned in slightly, his free hand resting lightly on her arm. "You have said yourself -- many times, in fact -- that you've never seen a Wizard wedding before."

"So? It was still lovely," she told him, rolling her eyes genially, far from piqued by his typical sardonic humor. It still seemed a bit strange, to be standing with him, in public, doing nothing to hide the fact that they were there together -- but there was also a thrill to it, too. "Compared to what I do know, it was still a lovely service. Victoria is such a beautiful bride."

It was Snape's turn to roll his eyes. "As long as you've had your fill of these things," he murmured near her ear, having to lean in closer to be heard over the din of the room. "I don't plan on sitting through another of these tedious affairs any time in the near future."

"You said Harry and Ginny's wedding," she reminded him smugly, smiling at the sour look on his face. "I even have it in writing."

"Then you had better hope that no more of your university friends marry anytime soon," he said back, his dark eyes trailing across the room to where Maureen and Elena were moving through the crowd toward them. "I don't plan to make exceptions to that promise."

Hermione followed his gaze and watched as Maureen and Elena cut a swath through the crowd of bodies, Maureen's mouth moving at a rapid-fire pace. She could only imagine what her outspoken American friend was saying; she had a niggling suspicion it was something about her.

Hermione had many plans for her Christmas holiday, a holiday that had only started a few days before. Though she and Snape had not discussed it with any kind of seriousness, they both knew the inevitable was coming -- they would have to make their relationship known. For Hermione, this was especially true because, while Snape had no real family or friends to confess to outside of Dumbledore and his fellow teachers at Hogwarts, Hermione had a large network of relations, to all of whom she felt obligated to be truthful -- no matter how difficult it was going to be.

And there was no telling how much longer Molly Weasley would keep the secret to herself.

Wyatt's wedding, though attended by only a handful of people that she knew, was Hermione's dress rehearsal for those confessions and, just as she'd thought, introducing Snape to Maureen and Elena has proved to be very interesting.

"Hermione, Hermione, come on," Maureen rushed over and grabbed her hands, pulling Hermione away from her thoughts. She did watch amusedly, though, as the girl glanced at Snape nervously before adding, "And Professor Snape, too. I demand that you both stand with us in the receiving line. Gotta kiss the bride and smack the groom after all!"

Elena's greetings were more polite and she shot her friend a look at her ridiculous pronouncement. "You're not really going to slap Wyatt, are you?"

"Of course I am," Maureen told her determinedly as the four of them moved into through the crowd once again to loiter at the end of the length line of people waiting to offer the couple their congratulations and best wishes. "Right after I plant a big ole kiss on Vicky!"

Hermione stifled a laugh behind her hand at Maureen's predictably outrageous behavior, cutting her eyes back over her shoulder to see Snape's reaction. One eyebrow was lifted condescendingly when he noticed her gaze on him but she could tell by the slanted turn of his mouth that he was just as amused by her crazy friend as she was. That was something else that was strange, too -- to be able to read him so easily, to know that they shared something like a strange sense of humor.

Despite its harrowing length, the receiving line moved quickly and soon Hermione was wishing Victoria well and telling her what a lovely bride she was. Victoria, who was already blushing, turned even redder, happiness shining out of her smiling eyes. When she reached the beaming groom, Hermione was hugged fiercely and she murmured her congratulations in Wyatt's ear laughingly as he knocked the wind right out of her.

She wasn't the only one doing the whispering, though. "You lied to me at Midsummer, didn't you?" he asked, shooting a significant glance over to where Snape was now politely offering his best wishes to the bride.

There wasn't enough time to explain that she hadn't meant to lie or that she'd never expected Snape to return her feelings. Instead, she stepped back and smiled. "Yes, I did."

Wyatt grinned at her. "Well, to each his own, they say."

"And you've managed to pick 'your own' extraordinarily well, Mr. Hartford," Snape remarked dryly as he stepped over to speak to Wyatt. As the two of them exchanged stilted niceties, Maureen tugged Hermione away with a brief word of apology to Snape as she drug her friend around the room to meet with people, to talk with old friends she hadn't seen, to become acquainted with ones she'd never met.

Her eyes caught Snape's for a moment and she silently promised to make the rounds as short as possible but he nodded at her, hoping she knew what he meant by it. Despite his own desire to be absent, he had also had little desire to dampen her spirits for the occasion.

After Snape watched her disappear with her loud, obnoxious friend, he quietly excused himself from the groom only to be intercepted first by the bride's father, then the groom's. When he'd finally extricated himself from the newlyweds' relations, he'd shook almost a dozen hands and offered every word of congratulations he knew. It was only for Hermione's sake that he was managing to be as polite as he was behaving; he was suddenly in need of something stronger than punch if he was going to endure much more of this festive camaraderie.

Luckily he found it in the form of a hot, spiced punch that the bride's sister was doling out from a cauldron set up near the cake and he offered her something close to genuine thanks when she handed him a cup. Snape quickly settled himself into a corner where he could wait for Hermione and be as sheltered as possible from the crowd. Like Hermione, the whole situation felt strange to him. It had a stark feeling of unreality to it, being here with her, acknowledging something, even tacitly, that they both had an instinctive desire to conceal.

If he were younger and stupider, he might have been hurt by Hermione's marked unease at the prospect of being honest with her family and friends. He was not, however; in fact, he understood more than she guessed. She was such an honest creature, the lie-by-omission was weighing heavily on her but, as an intelligent woman, she knew that the truth wouldn't automatically end her troubles. Since he personally cared little about who did and didn't know about how he felt for her, Snape was content to sit back and let her work her issues out as she saw fit, even if it meant attending Hartford's wedding with her to help her prepare for the unavoidable trouble that loomed ahead.

Snape was also honest enough to admit that the feeling of unreality extended to their relationship in general. Sometimes, while she'd been away, he'd wondered if that night had been some bizarre hallucination on his part because it seemed unfathomable that Hermione Granger would actually confess her undying love to him in the Hogwarts courtyard, half-drunk on her grandmother's wine. But Snape was selfish enough not to let a sense of unfairness -- to Hermione, of course -- ruin what he knew was as wonderful as all that. He was perfectly willing to accept his unexpected fortune without question.

"I thought that was you, Severus," a steely female voice announced from somewhere near his right shoulder. "But I decided that I had to be wrong. And you are."

The last person Snape had expected to encounter at Hartford's wedding in a miniscule town near Hogsmeade was Minerva McGonagall but there she stood, dressed in her usual unattractive tartan, a wizened expression pinching her eyes as they regarded him from behind her spectacles. "Minerva," he replied in greeting, nodding slightly in her direction. "I didn't expect you to be here, either."

"I am very good friends with Victoria's grandmother, which is why I'm here," she explained archly, gesturing with her own glass of punch. "What about you? I certainly don't remember you being so close that Mr. Hartford would invite you to his wedding all these years after he left Hogwarts."

Without conscious thought, Snape's eyes drifted over the crowd until they landed on Hermione who on the other side of the room, having a rather heated discussion with a young man he recognized as the Auror she'd been seeing while she'd been studying at Trinity. He frowned, wondering what they could be discussing that had her looking so distressed.

"Ah." It was a resigned, knowing sound coming from McGonagall's lips. "As I thought."

"And what is that?" Snape asked coolly, dragging his attention back to the stern visage of his former teacher, now colleague.

"I saw you together -- earlier," McGonagall explained slowly, motioning toward Hermione. "You were very -- cozy. I..."

Snape didn't say anything but met her eyes squarely, a hint of challenge in them.

McGonagall pressed on. "I had...wondered. Before. I just didn't think it was true. I admit I'm that surprised that it is."

"Do you expect me to say something to mitigate your surprise?" Snape asked. "I'm afraid nothing comes to mind."

McGonagall frowned at him, peering imperiously at him over the top of her spectacles in the same manner she had when he'd been an unruly Fifth Year. "There's no need for your attitude, Severus. I wasn't passing judgment."

His face showed his palpable disbelief in her statement.

McGonagall shook her head. "I'll see you back at the school tonight, Professor," she told him as she headed off in the direction of a group of older witches, one of which had the bride's pleasant features echoed in her older face.

Snape took another sip of his spiked punch and searched the crowd with his eyes, hoping to spot Hermione. Silently, he gave a prayer that they'd be leaving soon.

The last thing he could stand was another surprise like that.

Later that night, when they'd returned to Hogwarts, Hermione couldn't help but laugh at Snape's dry recounting of his talk with McGonagall.

"I don't see what you find so amusing," he told her.

The humor was still dancing in her eyes. "I can't really explain it, Severus," she admitted, still on the verge of laughter. "It's just -- the look on your face! I can only imagine what a pair the two of you were at the wedding!"

Snape might have begrudged Hermione her laughter if it hadn't been the first real sign of it since that conversation had taken place. When she'd found him moments later, she'd been subdued and somber -- no doubt upset by that boy, that Auror from Ireland. They'd left not too long after that and Snape was certain that Shannon had ruined the evening for her. He wanted to ask but refrained, deciding that she'd bring it up if she wanted to confide in him.

Snape's irritation with the whole ridiculous conservation and McGonagall only grew when the stately woman miraculously appeared outside of his rooms, demanding to see Hermione.

"It's getting late," she explained with little remorse. "I'm here to show Hermione to the guest rooms that Albus asked me to prepare for her."

"Miss Granger was a student here for seven years and has spent a great deal of time since in the Tower's guest quarters," Snape said coolly. "I'm sure she is more than capable of finding her rooms when she is ready to retire."

"We've put her in a different wing this time," McGonagall explained determinedly. "It makes sense for me to escort her over there."

"You really didn't need to do that, Professor," Hermione finally spoke up from where she sat behind Snape who was looming in the doorway. "I'd never want you to have to go through all this trouble."

"Nonsense, Hermione, it's no trouble," McGonagall assured her. "I was on my rounds, anyway. There are some students still here over the holidays, you know."

Snape and Hermione exchanged a look before Snape turned back to McGonagall. "Give us a moment" was all the warning the older woman had before Snape unceremoniously slammed the door in her face.

When Hermione emerged a few minutes later -- very mussed, very disheveled and very bright-eyed -- McGonagall looked over her spectacles at her disapprovingly but said nothing as they headed toward the Gryffindor tower.

Hermione thought it was a touching, if completely unnecessary rescue on her behalf. She wasn't sure what McGonagall thought would happen if she hadn't appeared to drag her away from the dungeons but, given the Professor's tight-lipped expression and the number of times that McGonagall was known for raiding the Astronomy Tower in the spring, Hermione figured that it had a misguided -- and unneeded! -- attempt at safeguarding her virtue.

That thought alone was enough to re-ignite Hermione's earlier mirth and she almost collapsed on the bed in her guest chambers as she started laughing again, her amusement blatantly exacerbated by the fact that her guest room was only three doors away from McGonagall's rooms.

She was still amused by it all the next morning when she and Snape took breakfast in his rooms, something she knew Snape had arranged in some part to aggravate McGonagall and thwart her interference.

"It really is funny, you know," Hermione said as she drank her tea. "And I think she really means well. She could've done so much more if she'd really wanted to cause us trouble."

"Unfortunately -- I can't bring myself to say fortunately even in this case -- the headmaster has given us his 'blessing,'" Snape said, his mouth curling in distaste as he formed the words. "Any more meddling on her part would have resulted in more meddling on his part."

"It could be worse," Hermione reminded him. "It could be Mrs. Weasley looking over our shoulder at every turn."

Snape's distaste was even more pronounced as he answered. "True."

Hermione was silent for a moment, contemplating her toast with such ferocity that Snape paused to look at her strangely. When she noticed, she smiled guiltily and laid the toast on her plate. "Speaking of Molly Weasley..."

"Must we?"

"I have a question for you," Hermione continued, ignoring his snide interjection. He shot her an amused glance over his cup. "What are you doing for Christmas Eve?"

"The same thing I do every Christmas Eve, which is remain here at the school," Snape said in answer. "And what it does that have to do with Molly Weasley?"

"The Weasleys are having a big get-together at the Burrow for Christmas Eve," she slowly explained, watching closely for Snape's reaction to what she was saying. "I've been invited, of course."

"Of course," he snorted.

"...and I was hoping you'd come."

"You think that's a good idea?" he asked bluntly.

"Not particularly," she admitted, "but I'd like you to be there, anyway. I'd like to spend some of my Christmas Eve with you."

Snape sighed. "Hermione...there's a saying about discretion and valor. I hope you know it by now." He paused, not wanting to be misunderstood. "My presence will make things uncomfortable for you with Molly. You know that."

"I do, but I still want you to come," she told him resolutely. "Please? The headmaster has been invited as well and he's promised to attend."

Snape snorted again. "Yes, and that makes me even more likely to want to come."

Hermione smiled but her eyes were still cajoling. "Please, Severus?"

He regarded her steadily for a moment before returning his attention to his breakfast. "I'll think about it."

Her smile lit up her face. "Thank you," she told him before she took a big bite of her toast.

"I didn't say I'd go," he reminded her in warning.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "And that's exactly what you said about Wyatt's wedding and didn't we have a lovely time?"

He gave her an incredulous look. "No comment."

She chuckled, then took a sip of her tea. Before she could say anything else, though, the ornate mantel clock above Snape's fireplace began to chime and she finally noticed the time. "I'd stay and argue with you but I can't. I've got to go meet up with my Mum."

"Right now?" he frowned, glancing at the clock dial as Hermione rose to her feet.

"I'm afraid so," she said regretfully. "She's already livid that I got home from Peru only to come to Scotland for Wyatt's wedding. I wouldn't want to press my luck with her. Otherwise, Christmas at the Grangers will not be a happy one this year." She grimaced.

Snape nodded in amused sympathy. "Then go, by all means. We can't have that, after all."

"I'll see you in a few days," she promised.

Her mind was so far ahead of her actions that Hermione was already thinking about the conversation she was going to have with her mother and where they were going to shop and the phone call she was going to put into her grandmother that before she realized it, Snape was giving her a proper goodbye before he allowed her to slip away back to the Muggle world.

He tasted like hot, black coffee and the sweetness of the jam she'd had still clung to her tongue and she was suddenly so flummoxed that she wondered if she'd ever remember what she'd been on her way to do in the first place.

Maybe her mother could wait a little longer.

"...and thank god, Sophia decided that she can't bear to leave her new boyfriend over the holidays so your grandparents are going to France this year. I can't tell you how happy that makes me." Carolina Granger sat down a stack of boxes with an emphatic thud as she finished speaking, glancing around at her handiwork. The small spare bedroom was full of boxes, some of them bursting with holiday-themed things, ribbons and tinsel and little snowglobes all begging to be put on display.

In the middle of the mess sat Hermione, hands buried in a box of bows.

"I don't know why you're so hard on Aunt Sophia," she commented, her voice muffled since she was peering intently into the box she was organizing.

Carolina was back in the closet, pulling things down from the top shelf. "Because she's irresponsible? Irritating? Infuriating?" She stuck her head around the door to make eye contact with her daughter. "Do you see a pattern here?"

"You like words that begin with the letter "I"?" Hermione teased, trying to un-crush a horribly crushed taffeta bow.

"Watch yourself, young lady," Carolina warned as she emerged from the closet with another box which she sat down next to Hermione. "Here, sort this one, too."

She shot her mother an unhappy look, sighing. "I thought you said we were going shopping? And I distinctly remember you saying you were going to buy me lunch."

"Stop your complaining," her mother commanded as she started to open up the line of crates that were perched on the spare bed. "If we get this finished in time, I'll take you to that Moroccan place you love so much."

Hermione begrudgingly concentrated on helping her mother with her annual Christmas decoration sorting, a rather odious task she'd managed to miss out on several years running. Unfortunately, she'd hadn't been lucky enough to escape the tradition again this particular Christmas. It wasn't a very taxing chore but it was tedious and it was one of those times when the movements of her hands were so automatic that her mind could wander independent of her task.

They worked in companionable silence for awhile until Hermione stilled, laying aside the fragile glass figurine she'd been unwrapping. "Mum? Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, go ahead." Carolina didn't look up from the glassware she was inspecting.

"What do you want for me, most in the world?"

"For you to be happy, of course," came Carolina's constant, automatic reply. "To have the life you want. Why?"

Hermione idly twisted a piece of loose satin ribbon around her fingers. "What if -- what if something that made me happy wasn't something you necessarily liked?"

"Well," Carolina paused, as if thinking. "As long as it hasn't dangerous or illegal, I guess I'd have to accept it. I've accepted you being a witch and that is dangerous, so I'm sure there's probably little I couldn't handle at this point." She looked over at her daughter, curiosity written across her face. "Again, I ask why?"

"So you'd accept it? No matter what?" Hermione questioned, still fiddling with the frayed ribbon.

"Hermione, are you trying to tell me something?" Carolina's voice was laden with suspicion.

"No," her daughter assured her, tossing the ribbon into the wastebasket. "But I might be. Soon."

Carolina nodded. "Fair enough. Come on, help me take these dishes downstairs."

"I don't know how I'm going to tell them, Ginny," Hermione admitted quietly, her voice pitched low so that it would carry through the noise of the crowd in Diagon Alley.

Despite Carolina's promise, there hadn't been any Moroccan cuisine in store for Hermione because her mother had been called away to deal with an emergency at her dentistry office. With her own afternoon suddenly free, Hermione had asked Ginny to meet her for some last-minute shopping in Diagon Alley -- an idea that she'd shared with most of Britain's Wizarding population, if the crowds were any indication.

"I don't either," Ginny told her, looking disgruntled as they pushed through the impossible throng of people, both of them clutching bags and paper-wrapped parcels.

"It's not going to go well," Hermione pointed out sadly, tugging at her robes when they caught on the oversize package of a passer-by.

Ginny snorted. "That's the understatement of the year." They elbowed their way past the drooling little boys in front of the Quidditch shop, though Ginny's brown eyes did a bit of window-roving as they passed.

Hermione shook her head in mock-disapproval. "You think?" she muttered sarcastically.

"Oh, Hermione," Ginny was looking at her like she was a little, lost puppy. "You know it's going to be horrible."

"I know," sighed she. "I know."

The pair pushed their way into the bookshop, glad to see that the crowds were a little thinner there than they were in the more popular shops. Hermione was searching for an appropriate gift for Manuelito which she planned to send to him by owl-post. If only she could find a suitable children's book for a Quechua werewolf in a shop in London...

"When are you going to tell them?" Ginny whispered after few moments of quiet browsing, no longer interested in the brightly-colored spines.

"I don't know," Hermione frowned as she pulled a book from the shelf and began to flip through the pages. "Soon. Part of me wants to tell them as soon as possible, before Christmas, even. Then, another part of me..."

"...wants to have a nice Christmas?" Ginny finished, picking up an used collection of what Muggles referred to as fairy tales.


"I wish I knew what to tell you, Hermione," she said as she discarded the fairy tale book for another, this one having a miniature moving dragon on its cover. "But I don't. I know how Harry and Ron are. It's not going to be pretty."

"I've also got my mum and dad to tell," Hermione reminded her. She was on her tiptoes, peering at the uppermost shelf of children's literature. "That's not going to be pretty, either."

"Well, we've got to figure it out soon," Ginny warned her, her voice sharp. "Or else my Mum will just spill it at a completely inopportune time and none of your planning will matter."

"You're right," Hermione sighed again as she settled back on her heels. She glanced around at all the shelves full of books, none of them to her satisfaction. "I don't think I'm going to find anything here."

Ginny nodded her agreement. "There aren't a lot of Magical books that will paint Werewolves in a good light."

Sadly, Hermione had to agree. "Maybe there are some Muggle ones. I'll owl Remus and ask if he knows of any." She stared straight ahead, mulling over her choices.

Ginny touched her arm lightly to get her attention. "You've got bigger problems, you know."

Hermione frowned at her. "I know." She sighed, shaking her head. "Gin, I think I'm going to go."

"What? Was it something I said?"

"No, no," she assured her. "There's just somewhere I want to stop before I go home and I don't want to be out too late."

"Where?" Ginny wanted to know, curious.

Hermione quickly checked to make sure all her packages were secure for Apparition.

"Church," she finally answered. "Thinking hasn't helped me so far. Maybe prayer will."

Ginny knew she wasn't talking about Manuelito's book.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 23 of 27

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