Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 25 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

Christmas day came too early for Hermione Granger. After the emotional day she'd had the day before and the late hours she'd kept on Christmas Eve, she was far from ready to stir from her bed when Carolina knocked on her bedroom door, announcing breakfast and threatening bodily harm if Hermione didn't present herself in a timely manner.

As she dragged herself from bed, squinting sleepy eyes about as she tried to locate her bathrobe, Hermione was thankful for small blessings such as the fact that she only needed to don said robe in order to be presentable enough for their Christmas breakfast. Unlike the year before when her grandparents had been visiting, the usual Granger Christmas morning -- as few and far between as they'd grown since her acceptance at Hogwarts -- were relaxed affairs. After a light breakfast, they would amble, mugs in hand, to sit by the tree and dispense gifts, everyone still in their bedclothes and with little plan to change out of them. This year, Hermione knew that she would be the first to make herself presentable since she was heading to Hogwarts early that afternoon.

After sliding a toothbrush over her teeth by natural, ingrained habit, Hermione caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror above the sink and she paused to rub at the shadows under her eyes, uncertain if the bruised-looking skin was a result of her late night or smudged mascara. Her night had been much later than she'd originally planned but it hadn't been much of a surprise -- not after the turn of events that had preceded it. By the time she'd arrived at the Burrow for the Weasleys' party, she was several hours behind schedule and the house had been lit with merriment, a merriment that Hermione had feigned for the most part. Although Harry and Ron had behaved admirably for the remainder of the evening, they'd done so mostly by staying as far away from her as possible and Ginny had followed Harry's example, though she kept throwing guilty glances Hermione's way every time she thought to.

Given such a state of things, Hermione had originally doubted that she'd manage an hour, let alone more; but she'd been lucky enough to have an ace in her sleeve in the form of Remus Lupin, who'd found her not long after her arrival and had made it his mission to be her constant companion for the night. Between Lupin's camaraderie and Dumbledore's gracious attention, Hermione had been distracted enough by their company to last until it had been time to exchange gifts. Harry and Ron and Ginny had approached her en masse, bearing gifts, and their awkward shyness and painful embarrassment as they'd handed over the brightly-wrapped packages had reminded her of the ways they'd acted toward her in the wake of arguments in their school days and she'd felt her first stirrings of hope since they'd come looking for her at Hogwarts. The tension had eased a little after that and something that resembled normalcy had almost crept upon them.

Hermione was thoughtful, pondering her hopes and their realities, all through Christmas breakfast, a fact that earned her a steady diet of odd looks from Carolina as they ate. As always, her father was subtler, less easily goaded into reaction and if he noticed his daughter's pensive silence, he didn't acknowledge it.

She and her mother were in the middle of clearing away the dishes when their phone rang unexpectedly.

Carolina glared in the direction of the study where the phone's shrill bell sounded. "Who calls this early on Christmas?" she muttered to herself, shaking her head in disapproval. "Hermione? Could you get that for me?"

Hermione nodded and hurried through the kitchen and dining room, grabbing the phone just before she fancied it was about to stop its ringing. "Granger residence."

"Ah, wonderful!" purred a melodic feminine voice, strongly resembling her mother's. "Just who I wanted to speak to! Merry Christmas, Hermione!"

"Aunt Sophia," Hermione smiled, relaxing into the conversation and a nearby chair. "Happy Christmas to you."

Sophia's laugh trailed through the receiver. "Have my presents for you arrived yet?"

"Yes!" Hermione said. "They arrived yesterday, in fact. We didn't expect them so early."

"You mean, on time?" Sophia laughed again. "Your nonna, she reminded me to mail them this year, so they wouldn't arrive after New Year's again! Have you opened yours yet?"

"No, not yet."

"Good! Make sure you don't open yours in front of Carolina. She'll have my head, for sure, cara!"

Hermione could imagine the naughty look on her aunt's face as she issued her warning. "I'll make sure to open it in private."

"Perfect! You are a good girl, Hermione, the best." Sophia paused, taking a deep breath that was audible to her niece through their phone connection. "Speaking of your nonna...I admit I wanted to speak to you about something. How is your dark, mysterious wizard?"

Hermione shook her head. "That's what you wanted to speak to me about?" she asked. "He's...fine, by the way."

"I'm glad to hear it...what I wanted to tell you is that...your nonna and I had a discussion last night, over dinner. You happened to come up in conversation and..."


"I -- maybe -- mentioned you had written me while you were Peru. Mama, she wanted to know what about. Me, I hint. Your nonna, she guesses. So I -- maybe -- I told her the story, about your wizard."

"You didn't!?"

"I'm afraid so, cara. I wanted to warn you that if you haven't told Carolina, you might want to do that. Before Mama does."

Hermione was glaring at the phone, trying to silently communicate her anger through it. "You did it on purpose, Aunt Sophia," she hissed.

"I swear it was an accident," she assured her. "But you do need to tell her -- your mama, I mean. Carolina will have to be told eventually and well, you know nonna..."

"What did she say?" Hermione hated to ask.

"What, your nonna? She was pleased! Glad you weren't as much like Carolina as she'd always feared."

Hermione laughed in spite of herself at the cheer in her aunt's voice. "I hate you, you know."

"Nonsense," Sophia laughed. "I'm your favorite aunt! Now, wish me Merry Christmas again, give my love to your father and, yes, even your mother and go open your presents. The one from me, in private, of course!"

Hermione grudgingly complied just as her mother was entering the room, demanding to know who'd been on the phone.

"Aunt Sophia," she informed her.

"Oh, good god, what did she want this early in the morning?" Carolina moaned. "Never mind. It's time to open presents. Your father's waiting and his fingers are getting itchy. I believe he's figured out about the golf clubs."

Will had, in fact, figured out that his wife's gift to him were golf clubs but he was pleased nonetheless. Both of her parents were thrilled with the Peruvian-themed gifts that Hermione had brought back with her from South America and she was glad -- again -- that she'd had Marisol help her with her purchases.

When the round of gift-giving reached her own hands, Hermione was surprised and left quite speechless with the pair of presents her parents presented her: a digital Muggle camera and a magical one to match.

"Well, if you have to go halfway around the world, you might as well take pictures," Carolina said, smiling. "This way, when you go see regular -- Muggle, I mean -- things, you can take pictures to share with us, you know, in a Muggly -- is that even a word? -- manner."

"Ginny purchased the magical one for us," Will added. "And all the extras you'd need for it. Your mother was the one who thought of the extra memory storage for the digital one, though."

The thought behind such a gift was touching and Hermione actually had to blink back tears for a moment. Sometimes she doubted her parents' true acceptance of the magical part of her life; she knew deep down that her mother certainly saw it something that continually took her daughter away from her. But at other times the Grangers would prove how much they really understood and it meant a great deal to her when they went to extraordinary lengths to show her.

Between her conversation with Sophia and her feelings toward her parents' gifts, the rest of Christmas morning was a contemplative one for Hermione. Carolina must have noticed because, as morning dragged toward afternoon and Hermione went upstairs to dress, her mother followed her.

"You look nice," her mother said, nodding toward her reflection in the mirror. She was hovering in the open door, watching Hermione search through her jewelry box for a pair of a certain pair of earrings. "The blue looks good on you."

"Thank you," she said in reply, still using one finger to sift through the contents of the velvet-lined box. When her mother made no signs of leaving, she looked up. "Yes?"

"I noticed you seemed preoccupied this morning," she admitted. "Thought maybe you needed to talk...needed to get something off your chest."

Hermione paused, head bowed toward the jewelry box. "I thought you said it would be better to let it rest a few days. That's what you said last night."

"Not if it's bothering you," Carolina told her, stepping into the room and closing the door quietly behind her. "I just meant it could wait until the time was right but if now is the time..."

"No," Hermione said hastily. "It's not. I mean, I'm supposed to be at Hogwarts soon."

Carolina watched her daughter for a moment, eyes sweeping from her head to her toes, over her slightly tamed hair and festive blue dress, the string of pearls at her throat and the heel of her sensible heels. She sighed. "If you think it can wait, it can wait."

Hermione released the breath she'd been holding. "Thanks, Mama."

"But if it's important, you will have to tell me eventually," Carolina said in a steely voice.

"I know," Hermione said. "And I will. I promise."

Carolina nodded. "Fine. Have a good time at Hogwarts." Her mother paused and slipped the pearl drop earrings she'd been wearing from her ears. "Here. Wear these and stop looking for those studs." She dropped them into her palm.

As Carolina turned to leave her daughter's room, Hermione stepped forward. "Mum?"


Hermione was slipping one of the earrings onto her ear. "Tonight. I'll tell you and dad tonight. I swear."

No matter how much the world changed around him, Snape's Christmases seemed to follow the same tired pattern year after year -- at least where Dumbledore was concerned. Christmas morning again saw the headmaster paying Snape his customary holiday visit where he tried to cajole him into opening his presents, partaking of cheer and joining them in the Great Hall for whatever inane festivities they had planned for the day. And, like usual, Snape glowered and declined, though there was less heat in his acerbic answers than in years past.

"Well, I think I'll leave you to your day," Dumbledore said as he rose to leave after a refreshingly short visitation. "From what I understand you have plans of your own this afternoon."

Snape's eyebrow rose, waiting for the rest of what the old wizard had to say on the matter. "You are correct," he said, inclining in his head in polite dismissal.

"Tell Miss Granger "Happy Christmas" for me," Dumbledore asked, eyes merry and mischievous. "I have a feeling that I won't get a chance to see her myself."

"Of course," Snape agreed, pointedly glancing toward the door. "I'll make it a priority, I assure you."

For all the headmaster's feigned innocence, Snape doubted that he'd have to convey the old wizard's sentiments to Hermione once she arrived; he was certain that Dumbledore would find a reason to interrupt them at least once over the course of the evening.

The only highlight of Dumbledore's visit had been his vague assurances that Hermione hadn't suffered too greatly at the hands of her so-called friends at the Weasley holiday fete. He had been concerned that even after their apology -- such as it was -- that Potter and Weasley would not be able to keep their promises or remember that a lifetime of putting up with their stupidity should entitle Hermione a chance at forgiveness.

Although he trusted Dumbledore's evaluation of the evening, Snape still planned to draw his own conclusions on the other matter. He also planned to disabuse Hermione of the guilt he'd seen in her the night before over her hasty arrival and departure.

If all things in the world were equal, which Snape supposed Hermione liked to believe they were, then perhaps someone could argue that Hermione sometimes, as she put it, "short-changed" him. But that person wouldn't be Snape and the world, as Snape knew intimately, was far from being one of equality.

Snape had always considered himself to be nauseatingly pragmatic about romance -- when he wasn't being much too intelligent to ignore it completely. Nothing about their situation was enviable and, despite Hermione's interpretations of her actions, Snape knew that she was in a very uncomfortable position when it came to being involved with him, a fact that the night before had proved perfectly. No one would question why he wanted to be involved with a smart, passionate young woman but it was a inquiry he suspected Hermione would face --or had faced -- numerous times.

At the moment, things between them were -- rushed; he understood that plainly. With Hermione studying in Peru and with him having no desire to abandon his life to follow her there, their time together was constantly compressed, squeezed in between family, friends, and other social commitments -- hers, since he had no commitment on him but work and the few friendships he managed to maintain. It was a holding pattern that he accepted since there was nothing else to do; they had no way sensible way to change it. If he actually considered himself slighted, it would be more contributable to some strange infection of his mental faculty than to Hermione's actions.

And, just as he knew he tended toward pragmatism in romance, he also tended toward selfishness; Snape would do what pleased him, insofar as he could, when it pleased him. What pleased him at the moment was to spend what time he could with Hermione – so he did.

At just the time that they'd agreed upon, Snape heard the telltale rap at the entrance of his chambers. He spelled the door to open and in burst Hermione, bristling with holiday spirit and pink-cheeked from the cold. Her arms were laden with packages, which she dropped onto the first available flat surface. "Happy Christmas!" she said in greeting. "How was your morning?"

"Peaceful, for the most part," he answered. "Yours?"

Hermione paused in unwinding her striped scarf from around her neck. "It was...nice," she finally said as she resumed her task of unbundling herself. "My aunt Sophia called and gave me a bit of a fright but everything will be settled by the end of the day.

He must have looked curious because she added, "I'll tell you later, it's not very important at the moment," as she finished pulling off her heavy winter robes. Once they, along with her scarf and gloves, were set aside, she ran a quick hand over her hair before she claimed her stack of packages. Snape watched it all in quiet amusement.

Hermione headed toward him, clutching the brightly wrapped boxes. "I believe we have presents to exchange," she said.

Snape gave her a condescending look. "I believe you are particularly taken with the material aspects of this holiday."

"I'm giving as well as receiving," she reminded him, shaking her packages at him in emphasis. "I think that makes me properly in line with the spirit of the season."

He snorted. "If you insist," he said, rising from his seat. "Let me fetch yours, then."

As he extracted Hermione's gifts from where he'd left them for safekeeping, he heard the sounds of Hermione moving around behind him, the telltale tinkle of china telling him that she was helping herself to the repast laid out by the House Elves just before her arrival. "Really! Don't make it sound as if I'm the only person who's ever wanted to open presents at Christmas." He turned around to find her setting her plate down on the low table in front of the sofa next to the gifts she'd brought.

She paused to catch his eye before continuing. "Even you have to be fond of presents."

"Oh, really?"

"Mmm hmmm," she nodded, straightening as he moved closer to her. "Everyone likes gifts."

Instead of retaking his seat, as Hermione expected, he stepped in close, took her in his arms and kissed her. Surprised, she still melted into the kiss, glad that her hands were empty of plates and presents so that she could make use of them. As he pulled away, he deposited the gifts he'd been carrying into her hands. "Here. Your gifts."

She was bright-eyed and pink-cheeked again but she couldn't blame the cold for it. "I don't want them," she teased. "After that, I've completely gone off opening them. There are so many other interesting things we could be doing."

She was rewarded with a look from Snape that she'd seen a great deal of when she'd still been his student. "Sit and open them," he ordered. "It was your idea, after all."

"Fine, fine," Hermione agreed laughingly as she sank down onto the sofa next to him, the gifts still in her hands. "You have to open yours, too."

"I never planned to do otherwise," he said, reaching for his own boxes.

There was no ceremony in the opening; they both set at tearing away wrapping paper and other packaging in order to reveal the gifts within.

Snape was more amused than surprised by the bottle of wine. "It appears again," he dryly observed.

"Well, I introduced you to the good kind," she pointed out, smiling as she watched him examine the bottle and its label. "The least I can do is supply you with it now."

He was more surprised -- but still pleased -- with the Venetian glass goblet that accompanied the wine. "This is lovely," he told her, turning it around in his hands. The muted light caught on the glass still visible between the gild and enamel decorations. "Thank you."

"My grandmother collects them," she explained. "She says every connoisseur of wine should have a glass worthy of the wine he drinks."

Hermione's gift was easy to surmise from its distinctive shape. "I know your penchant for books," Snape admitted as he watched her peel away the wrapping. "Still, there's no telling what you've bought yourself and have hoarded somewhere. But, this...I think it's fair to assume that you don't have."

Hermione turned the book over in her hands. "Is this...?"

"A copy of the original tome in which the hayam potion was recorded," he explained. "All other forty or so love potions as well. "They were among his personal writings for years before they were made public. This is a French translation of the Arabic but I remembered you mentioning that you knew the language..."

She flipped through the yellowed pages, nodding absently in answer to his question. It was more than simply a recipe book for potions, she noted: interspersed were paragraphs on the nature of love, loyalty, truth, as well as short lines of verse and erratic notes about potions-making in general. "This is...beautiful," she breathed, her fingers ghosting over one piece of verse.

Love comes on strong, consuming herself, unabashed.

Her other presents were more practical but no less welcome -- bunches of rare and expensive potion ingredients she'd bemoaned a lack of while she'd been in Peru. They were already packaged for transport and perfectly preserved with the kind of painstaking attention one never got from apothecaries and which made long-distance purchase almost impossible.

Eventually, Snape and Hermione emerged from the darkness of the Hogwarts dungeons, mostly at Hermione's insistence. They ended up walking along the quiet edges of the castle, following a snow-covered path that wound around the grounds and sloped gently toward Hogsmeade. Even though they were in relative solitude on the snowy grounds, the din of excited students carried from the Quiddith pitch and they once saw, at a distance, the shadowy outlines of a massive snowball fight.

"I love the snow," Hermione said, eyes sweeping over the white grounds of Hogwarts where they blended into the dark smudges of the forest. "I love it here at Hogwarts, most of all. It's so different in Peru." The arm she had tucked around Snape's tightened as her feet stumbled a bit. "I've missed it."

"When do you return?" he asked, reaching out with his other hand to steady her.

She smiled her thanks. "After the New Year. Most of the other apprentices aren't coming back for another week or so, so I agreed to come in earlier, help cover their absences."

"I see."

Hermione sighed, brushing away the tiny flakes of snow that caught on her face. "And I probably won't be back for Easter, either. One of the other apprentices -- Marisol -- has invited me to spend the holiday with her family and it's such a short time..." She trailed off, staring off into white distance, her silence as colored with wistfulness as her voice had been. "But I'll be back for the summer, around the same time the Hogwarts term ends, I think."

"And then you'll go back, in the fall," Snape surmised.

"If things continue the way they're supposed to," she answered. Hermione shook her head. "Terrible, isn't it? I can't hardly keep it straight, half the time, whether I'm coming or going." She glanced up at his profile, stark against the whiteness that surrounded them. "Seems very...unfair."

Snape stopped his forward movement, tugging Hermione to a stop with him. She turned to face him questioningly. "I hope you don't mean unfair to me," he said.

"I was leaning in that direction," she admitted, lowering her eyes. "Look at last night: I drop in unexpectedly and then leave when I feel ready. You have to admit that you do a great deal of accommodating my schedule."

"Hermione..." Secure in their solitude, Snape pulled her close, his black robes wrapping around her with the action. "I will admit that our circumstances are not ideal but it's hardly a chore to have a chance to see you when I can."

"Still..." she was watching him uncertainly, her eyes solemn, bright from the cold.

Snape stopped her with a finger against her mouth, the silencing action softening into a caress, the brush of his callused thumb over her bottom lip. "Do you honestly think that I do anything that I don't want to? Really, Miss Granger, I thought you knew me better than that."

At the teasing note in his voice, Hermione's concerns began to fade. Her hands were pressed against his chest, toying with the buttons of his frock coat. "When you put it that way..."

"I'll give you the benefit of the doubt," he told her. "I'll blame it on you having spent entirely too much lately with your idiotic friends."

Hermione laughed, the humor lighting her eyes until even Snape reacted, his mouth tugging upward at one corner in a shadow of a smile. She inched her arms around his neck. "I'm sure Harry and Ron will be glad to know your thoughts on the matter, Professor Snape."

"No doubt."

She was about to say more when her eyes strayed over his shoulder to see figures moving toward them. The sheer brightness of the one informed Hermione of who it was. "It looks like the headmaster is coming our way," she told him, nodding in the figures' direction.

Snape glanced over his shoulder. "And, if I'm not mistaken, that tartan next to him is McGonagall."


He turned back to face her. "Yes?"

"Before they're upon us, I have a favor to ask."


Hermione tightened her arms around his neck and pulled his head down to hers until their lips were touching. "Will you come home with me to meet my parents?"

In the end, Snape agreed; but the meeting took place several days after that Christmas afternoon.

True to her resolve, Hermione had confessed the truth of it to her parents that night when she'd returned from Hogwarts. She'd led them to her revelation gently, building from one surprise to another until everything was revealed: that she was in love, with a wizard, who was older than she, who used to be her professor at Hogwarts, who was Severus Snape.

Her parents' reactions had been very much what she'd expected.

"I...see," Mr. Granger had said.

"What?" Mrs. Granger had screeched, as she sprung to her feet to pace. "Are you out of your mind?"

Despite Carolina's initial outburst, her disapproval quickly took the form of sullen silence which Hermione hated more than the yelling. For her mother to go quiet, she had to be exceptionally angry -- and worse, hurt. Given Carolina's outburst, Hermione decided it wise to schedule her parents' first meeting with Snape a few after she actually broke the news.

When the day finally arrived, Hermione felt it best to meet Snape around the corner from her house at the point she'd delegated safe for Apparation. She considered it "presenting a unified front" if they arrived together, instead of having every member of Granger household waiting to bear down on him at the front door.

"Just remember," she reminded him, whispering as she used her key to unlock the door. "It's my mother you have to watch for."

Even though he'd never admit it, Snape was appreciative of her efforts, even if he thought most of them would be ineffectual, at best. He'd given some thought in the last few days of the various ways that the Grangers could react to the meeting and, given his knowledge of basic human nature, none of them prove to be pleasant.

Hermione called out as they stepped into the foyer to alert her parents that they'd arrived and Snape heard a man's voice -- presumably Mr. Granger -- answer back to say that he and her mother were waiting in the library. Hermione smiled nervously at him and ushered him through an open door and into a decidedly Muggle room that was lined with books and a very large thing he knew to be a television. Sitting on the comfortable-looking sofa that commanded one wall of the room were Hermione's parents.

Upon introductions by Hermione, Snape found Will Granger to be a pleasant if nondescript-looking Muggle with light brown hair and a nose that Hermione had inherited. Will shook his hand firmly and met his eyes with a placid serenity that Snape had perfected years before and he easily reflected back.

Caroline Granger, on the other hand, was quiet but far from placid. She radiated tightly-wound control even as she nodded in greeting before retaking a seat next to her husband. Hermione, he saw immediately, took mostly after her mother, though Caroline's features were sharper and her coloring darker. She was attractive in the same practical way Hermione was, although Mrs. Granger, unlike her daughter, had found a solution for her unmanageable hair.

It was Mr. Granger who spoke first, obviously trying to make the effort his tight-lipped and cross-armed wife was not. "Carolina and I aren't very knowledgeable about wizarding society, I'm afraid. Should we call you Professor Snape, or Mr. Snape or...?"

"Professor Snape," Hermione quickly supplied.

"...Severus is fine," Snape offered, almost grudgingly. Given the awkward situation, he supposed that any gesture of amiability could only help matters. He hoped.

"Oh, well, please call me Will," Mr. Granger offered graciously. Then, he nodded to his wife, "and Carolina."

"I prefer Dr. Granger, actually, Professor," Carolina finally spoke, her voice cool. "If you don't mind."

"Mum..." Hermione said warningly, giving her mother a dark look.

"Of course not, Dr. Granger," Snape said, just as coolly. He was unable to keep himself from shooting Carolina the same kind of cutting glance that he'd often bestowed upon his stupider colleagues, but she remained unfazed.

Will echoed his daughter's look toward his wife before he spoke again. "You'll have to excuse Carolina," he said. "You've come as quite a surprise to us."

"So I've heard," he said, glancing toward Hermione.

"We didn't even know Hermione was...seeing anyone," Will explained.

"I thought we'd already discussed this, Dad," Hermione intoned, busying her hands with her teacup.

"I was just explaining to Severus why we're a bit unsettled," Will told her.

"I understand your position, Mr. Granger," Snape admitted.

"Of course, we seemed to be the only ones who didn't know," Carolina added sourly. "Molly Weasley, your friends, your old boyfriends, not to mention your aunt Sophia."

"Mum, I swear..."

"What my wife is trying to say is that we're still playing catch up here," Will finished.

Mrs. Granger let her cup fall down onto its saucer with a loud clatter. Hermione jumped, startled, and Will's head whipped around to stare at his wife. Snape noted dispassionately that she'd barely touched her tea.

"What I am trying to say -- and Will, stop speaking for me, please -- is that we're at a loss on how you expect us to react to this news." Carolina held her head high, staring directly at Snape without any hesitation as she spoke, her words precise and sharp. "My daughter came home from visiting her old boarding school a few days ago to tell me that she was involved with a man – a man who was not only twenty years her senior but who had been her teacher from the time she was eleven years old...a man who, in part, we had entrusted her to in childhood to help in her education and her upbringing.

"Can you not see where I have some problems with the current situation? How I cannot help but wonder what sort of inappropriate things might have happened to my daughter during a time when I had obviously been misinformed of her safety, at least in this respect?"

"Mama, that's enough," Hermione said severely.

"Hermione..." Snape raised a hand to quiet the rest of her indignation on his behalf. Hermione acquiesced grudgingly, nodding her understanding as Snape then turned his attention to her mother.

He noticed that Will Granger had said nothing, simply watching the scene with the same calm expression, one that Snape bet hid a great deal of emotion.

"Actually, madam, I do understand your concerns," Snape said. He was no longer filtering his personality through any nicety he might have felt necessary to adopt. "So, I will say this once. Hopefully, it will be enough since I'm sure your daughter has addressed these same concerns before today."

Carolina watched him dubiously, waiting.

"During the time your daughter was my student, our relationship was purely a professional one, one between teacher and student," he said. "In fact, we only interacted in the classroom as I was far from Hermione's favorite teacher in any form. It was only after she had graduated that we began...a friendship of sorts, one that began as academic correspondence on topics relating to her continuing education."

Snape raised an eyebrow and regarded her boldly – a look she returned, just as boldly.

"It may be difficult for you to see but your daughter is an intelligent, engaging witch. I doubt it would difficult for anyone to understand how my attitude toward her could change over time. But I assure that it was a recent change, comparatively speaking."

"I'm sorry but your assurance is hardly reassuring," Carolina snapped back. Snape hated to admit it but he found his respect for Dr. Granger rising even as his temper did.

"No, but mine should be more than enough for you, Mama." Hermione's voice was firm, as firm as her mother's. There was anger, too, and sadness, none of it hidden by the melodic hint that tinted her mother's words. "I can't believe you won't simply accept my word and Severus's. Surely, you know me well enough to know that I have better sense than to...that I would never accept anyone mistreating me, no matter my age."

For the first time since his arrival, Snape saw Hermione's mother soften. "You have to understand, cara," Carolina said and her voice was so different that Snape was surprised. "I'm your mother, it's my place to do this, to protect you."

"Carolina..." Will laid his hand on his wife's clenched fist. "I think what Hermione means is that there's nothing to protect her from."

Snape watched as Mrs. Granger glanced from her husband to her daughter, eyes reading their matching steely expressions. She sighed, pulling away from her husband. "Fine," she said stonily, crossing her arms again. She gave Snape one, last stormy look. "I apologize."

"No need, madam," he said magnanimously, though there was as much sincerity in it as there was in her original apology.

"Hermione did explain some of it to us the other night," Will revealed, trying to soothe around the tension that was gathering. "Of course, some of it didn't make much sense to us, being re...Muggles. You know. She mentioned that it had something to do with a potion."

"The hayam," both Snape and Hermione said, almost at the same time.

Will smiled. "Yes, that one. From what I understand you're a...Potions professor?"


"Would you mind explaining the hayam a little to us, then?" Will asked. "It may help clear up some of our...confusion."

From that moment on, Snape vowed to like William Granger. As he lost himself in the familiar tale of the hayam potion, from its creation to its purposes, to what it meant when one had Hermione's peculiar reaction, he could feel his own tension easing, so much so that he was as close to relaxed as he imagined he could be, given the circumstances.

"That's extraordinary," Will said once Snape had finished his explanation. He glanced at his daughter affectionately. "So that's how you knew, hmm?"

"Yes," she admitted, grinning in response to her father. "It was a shock, as you might well imagine!"

"I have a question, Professor." It was the first time Carolina had spoken in almost half an hour, unlike her husband and daughter who'd joined in on the discussion of the hayam.

Snape looked coolly toward Mrs.Granger. "Yes?"

"What would happen if you were to drink the hayam?" Carolina asked, watching him intensely. There was a gravity in her expression that surpassed the anger from before.

He was silent for a moment, considering his words. "Reactions to the hayam do not have to be reciprocal. In fact, they rarely are. The potion measures only the ingester's level of feeling and nothing else. I have never taken the hayam myself."

"I see."

"However..." Snape continued, pausing only to return the warm, glowing look that Hermione was giving him. "Knowing what I do of the potion and my own...attitude, I would think that if I were to take it...I would be extremely surprised if my reaction were not similar to Hermione's."

His words were met with silence and he felt Hermione's hand gently touch his before it skirted away. He looked from her face to her father's and, finally, to her mother's. For the second time since their meeting, Snape noted that Carolina's face had softened, if only fractionally.

"I guess," she said mysteriously, eyes unreadable, "that I'll just have to accept your expert opinion on the matter." She paused. "After all, you are a Potions professor, I hear."

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 25 of 27

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