Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 4 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

From the Muggle dictionary which her parents had bought for her 10th birthday, Hermione knew that the most basic definition of the word 'obssession' was "a compelling motivation."

As soon as she reached Hogwarts and the magical world, she had reveled in one of the many discoveries she had made those first few months before the encounter with the troll had led to her having friends: magical dictionaries, filled with words she'd never heard and words she had heard but had completely different meanings in the context of the non-Muggle society. In the 1907 edition of the most trusted magical dictionary -- Oxford Crossing's Dictionary of Magical English -- the word 'obsession' had four pages of subtly different meanings ranging from the cursory "compelling motivation" to the mediwizard's psychological definition of the mental disorder, a mental disorder which was rather prevalent among the magical folk who worked as specialty antique dealers.

Of all the various nuances to the word, Hermione knew that the one she preferred was 8a: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.

It was also the definition which most applied to her current fixated state upon the events which had happened on the previous day. Despite her late-night promise to herself, she had not left the matter behind her and her desire to understand and suppress was causing her to act a bit irrationally and although not quite unpredictably.

She needed to move on, needed to stop dwelling on the whole horrible mess. Because her preoccupation with it was disturbing and persistent. Moreover, it was irrationally centered on an unreasonable and mystifying man.

The very definition of obsession.

Rising earlier than any of her friends -- and the whole of Gryffindor Tower -- Hermione arrived to find the Great Hall virtually empty of students, except for a sixth-year Ravenclaw prefect named Anna who was busily working on what appeared to be Arithmancy. Sparing her a quick smile of greeting, Hermione settled at the Gryffindor table and ate quickly, hoping to avoid all the curious breakfast chatter which would inevitably be focused upon her. No doubt that Parvati and Lavender had realized that their defense of their beloved course of study had cost them a chance to interrogate her about exactly who had caused her to be immune to the potion.

Remembering their little speech about the crystal divination, she reminded herself to research the subjects and the stones later. Not that she placed credence in the art, but the parallels were striking, especially the description of the blue agate and ruby: a young woman with aspirations to perfection and a tendency to overwork...

What a remarkable coincidence, that was.

Never one to allow herself to waste time, Hermione's pleasantly silent meal was spent not only in eating but in planning, as she laid out a detailed plan for her day. It did not, unlike the large majority of Hogwarts student body above second-year, include the Saturday trip into Hogsmeade. She had entirely different plans ready for her Saturday.

"Up early, Hermione?"

She had been so absorbed in her planning that she hadn't heard Professor Lupin approach, nor had she been aware that he had stood there, watching her.

Despite her surprise, she smiled at him as she answered. "Yes. I have loads of things to get done."

Remus looked amused. "I never realized that going to Hogsmeade entailed an early morning."

"Oh, I'm not going," she explained. "I need to stay here and...get some things finished."

The instructor gave her a concerned pat on the shoulder. "How are you doing these days?"

For a moment, Hermione almost answered with her usual 'Fine, thanks,' but she knew that Remus wanted the truth and would see through her customary polite lie. "A bit stressed," she admitted honestly. "A little tired. But on the whole, everything is working itself out."

He nodded and gave her shoulder another pat. "That's all it can do, dear. You know where my office is." With that unspoken offer of support, he continued to the staff table, taking his place at the empty table.

Hermione shook her head to focus it on her agenda, briefly remembering that she'd received more offers of support from her friends in the last twenty-four hours than she had in the three months before.

Her plans complete, she was spreading marmalade on her last piece of toast when a blurry-eyed Harry stumbled into the Great Hall, looking as if he'd just rolled out of bed and stepped into the faded jeans and oversized blue sweater he wore. Noticing the odd angle of his round glasses, Hermione thought it a distinct possibility.

"Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, are we, Harry?" she asked teasingly as he dropped into the place beside her, stifling a yawn.

He glanced over at her but decided it took too much energy to do anything but stretch his limbs. "I figured you'd be taking breakfast early," he explained tiredly. "Wanted to give you some company."

"Well, thank you," she replied before taking a bite of her toast. "I'm almost finished, though."

"Are you still going to Hogsmeade?" he wanted to know as he sipped on his pumpkin juice in an attempt to drive the grogginess from his head.

"No," she returned simply after another bite of toast. She sipped her own juice before saying, "I really need to figure some things out. I'll need the peace and quiet."

"You'll be in the library, then?"

She shrugged. "I'm starting there anyway."

He nodded as she stood up and collected her satchel. "I'll bring you something back from town."

"As long as it's nothing from Weasely's Wizard Wheezes," she warned.

"You have my word," he laughed. "See you later, 'Mione."

With a wave in response, she strode from the Great Hall which was still mostly empty, hurriedly passing her classmates as they headed toward breakfast while she made her way to the library. When she saw Lavender and Parvati, Hermione increased her pace, moving by them so quickly that she was barely a streak of wild brown hair and blue skirt as she rounded the corner.

The library was empty when she arrived, which was the way she preferred it. Dropping her satchel on the desk under the window which she usually frequented, she delved into stacks and began her research.

Research, in the wizarding world, was something of a finely-honed skill, especially if a researcher wanted to conduct their search as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Unlike the Muggle society where the invention of tools such as electronic databases and bar-coded books had helped stream-line the process, Hermione knew that the lack of logic and organization which seemed inherent in many areas of the magical world had spilled into archival work, meaning that research skills had to be diligently learned.

Hermione, of course, had done so. Another benefit of the half-term she spent as a virtual outcast during her first year at Hogwarts.

It wasn't very much later that she found herself on a rickety ladder, trying desperately to reach the very top shelf of a bookcase which was more than twice her height. Muttering a little prayer and wishing she hadn't left her wand lying on a shelf a few rungs down, she made a valiant grab for the volume when she heard a whispered "Hermione!"

Startled while in such a precarious position, Hermione swayed on the top rung, holding on for dear life as she steadied herself. Suddenly furious, she glared down at the owner of the voice to see a very tall, red-headed idiot looking back up at her.

"Ronald Weasely!" she hissed as she slowly descended the ladder. Obviously doubting its sturdiness, the young man held onto it as she clamored down the rungs. "You almost caused me to fall and break my neck!"

"Well, what were you doing up there in the first place?" he shot back as she set her feet on solid ground.

"Trying to get that book up there," she pointed. "What else would I be doing?"

"Are you really not going to Hogsmeade today?" Ron wanted to know as he scrambled up the ladder.

"Yes," she answered, frowning. "Now, what are you doing?"

It was his turn to roll his eyes. "Gettin' your book for you," he said, tossing her abandoned wand down to her. "Is it the little blue or the big leather one?"

"The little blue one," she called back, watching in envy as Ron's gangly frame allowed him to easily retrieve the book. "Thanks," she told him when he handed the slim volume to her.

"No problem," he shrugged. He gave her an imploring look. "Please, come with us to Hogsmeade. I'll be lost without you."

"Well, there's this spell -- I believe you might know it as the Point Me spell--"

"It's too early for your attitude, Miss," he mock-lectured. "And you know very well that I didn't mean it like that."

"Then how did you mean it?" she asked over her shoulder as she slid through the rows of high bookshelves, navigating through the labyrinth to her brightly-lit corner.

"If you don't go, I'll be stuck with Harry and Ginny all day," Ron moaned, following. "Watching them be all lovey-dovey. It's sickening, you understand -- she's my sister!"

"Then don't stay with them," she suggested. "Go with Seamus and Dean, or even Parvati and Lavender. Make Neville tag along with you if you want."

" 'Mione," he frowned, half-sitting on the desk as she eased into the chair. "Please?"

"No," she told him firmly, rifling through her parchments which were strewn across the desk's polished surface. "I want to research this silly potion and I won't be able to do that when everyone's here."

"Oh." Comprehension dawned on Ron's face as he finally noticed the books and notes she had scattered before her. "That potion."

"Yes," she said crossly, eyes fixed on the book in her hands. "That potion."

If she would have looked up, Hermione would have seen that Ron's ears were going pink. "I....well, I was, uh....Hermione, it's like this--"

"Quickly, Ron," she warned him. "Or you'll be late to the coaches."

"Who is it?"

"I'm not telling. But I'll tell you who it isn't -- Harry or Malfoy. Feel better now?"

"Ew -- Harry?" he asked dubiously. "Why would I think that? And Malfoy..." he shuddered at the thought.

"You're a smart boy, Ron," she told him approvingly. "Those were my reactions as well."

"The only thing which could make me sicker than the thought of Malfoy would be if it were someone like....oh, I don't know....George or Fred or Percy..." When Hermione didn't respond, he clear his throat impatiently.

She looked up from her book. "What?"

"This is the part where you're supposed to reassure that it's not George or Fred or Percy," he explained, scowling. "Unless"

"This is what happens when I compliment you," she sighed. "You go and prove me wrong. Of course it's not one of your bloody brothers! Please!"

"Now, don't get all upset over nothing, 'Mione," he scolded her. "Just had to ask."

"Right," she returned in a voice that said she wasn't placated. She glanced out of the window before laying down the book she had and grabbing a parchment covered in her small, neat handwriting. "I suggest you head on, or else you'll be stuck here with me," she informed him. "The carriages are about to leave."

"Oh, hell!" With that exclamation and a mumbled farewell, Ron dashed out of the empty library, leaving Hermione alone with her notes and books. Finally, she added.

Quickly skimming through the pile of books she had accumulated, the girl noticed with some annoyance that the one book which would have been truly helpful -- Love & Loyalty : the legend of the Hayam -- seemed to be missing from the stacks. Other than that, the only pertinent information she'd found was in the small blue book which Ron had retrieved from the high shelf. It was a biography of the Princess Nadir'ah.

Parchment in hand, she enlisted Madam Pince's aid in her search. "I'm looking for this book," she explained, pointing to its name on the slip of parchment. "But I can't seem to locate it on the floor."

Madam Pince checked the name before turning to her long ledger. "I'm sorry," she said, one finger tapping a entry on the ledger. "That book has been checked out."

Hermione felt her insides go cold. "By who?"

"Professor Snape," she answered. "Only yesterday, actually." The librarian gave the girl a sympathetic look. "I suppose if you need it badly, you could ask him for it."

I don't think so, she thought to herself.

"Thanks for your help," she said aloud. She held out the biography. "Could I check this out?"

After packing up her satchel and cursing her luck -- Snape, of all people! -- she abandoned the library, hoping to find a comfortable spot where she could settle down to read the account of the Princess Nadir'ah.


While proving to be an interesting read, Princess Nadir'ah's biography yielded few details about the potion. The book did have an intensive chapter on the events preceding and following the occasion on which the royal witch was forced to take the hayam and Hermione felt that it in itself would have made a lovely love story, but there was none of the information she'd wanted woven within the tale.

Sighing, she laid the slim book down on the stone bench beside her, allowing her eyes to sweep across the green lawn of the enclosed courtyard, the bright colors of early spring flowers dotting the otherwise monochromatic expanse. The stone fountain, which was shut off during the colder months, was bubbling merrily, the sunlight dancing on the clear water and reflecting on the diamond-shaped panes of the castle's Gothic windows. As she had when she was a child, Hermione let her bare feet -- her sandals had been slipped off when she'd come outdoors -- dangle, swinging slightly as she enjoyed the warm morning, the slight breeze gusting as it whipped through the narrow causeways of the castle's architecture.

"A beautiful day, is it not?" the Headmaster's kindly voice sounded from behind her. She turned to see Professor Dumbledore strolling across the lawn toward her, his robes the same cerulean shade of the clear sky.

"Yes, it is," she returned, taking a moment to remember the question. She felt herself returning his cheerful smile.

"I would have expected you'd be in Hogsmeade with everyone else," he said conversationally.

She shrugged, picking up her book so that Dumbledore could sit next to her on the long stone bench. "I had some extra research to finish."

"Ah, yes, I see." His blue eyes twinkled behind the half-moon spectacles as he noticed the small book she held. "Tell me, Miss Granger, did you find the Princess Nadir'ah to be as fascinating as I? Or were you simply interested in her entanglements with the hayam potion?


"She is very interesting," she answered, an look of amused resignation on her face. "But, I was mainly interested in the story of her experiences with the hayam."

Dumbledore's cheerful expression became pensive as he regarded her. "I would imagine that you would, after your own reaction to it."

Hermione raised an eyebrow at the headmaster. "I believe you do know everything, Professor."

His own smile widened. "Alas, my dear. I can't claim any kind of special abilities because of that piece of information. I heard the story from Professor McGonagall, who heard it from Professor Lupin who..."

"Who Harry told after class," she finished for him. "My, my. It seems bad news travels fast."

The old wizard patted her hand in a comforting, grandfatherly gesture. "You shouldn't see it that way, Miss Granger. You've been given a rather special gift, although you might not understand that."

"You're correct -- I don't understand it at all," she admitted, sighing. The breeze plucked at her hair, the wild strands swirling around her face. "I'm not even in love with someone, let alone having found my soul-mate..." When she noticed the headmaster's pointed gaze, she added softly. "I do care about someone, but that's not the same as love."

"I see. What do you know about the hayam, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore inquired.

She glanced down at the biography as she answered. "Only what I've read in Iskiraat al-kimiya and in the book on Princess Nadir'ah. That one is only immune to its effects if her heart is too powerfully loyal to whomever she loves...that she's in love with her soul mate."

"Soul mate," Dumbledore mused. "That's a very misleading term, you know. Fouad al-Mudarris was always overly dramatic in his prose. Nicholas warned me to read his texts with caution because of his tendency for exaggeration and poor diction. He once told me -- when I was grappling with one of al-Mudarris's more challenging works -- that if I thought his alchemical theories were far-fetched, I should have had to listen to the stories he'd tell at meals. "

It took Hermione a moment to remember that Fouad al-Mudarris was the original 14th century author of Iskiraat al-kimiya. "Mr. Flamel actually knew him?"

The old professor nodded. "Yes; Nicholas spent a good deal of time in Baghdad and Cordoba in his youth. He also knew the Princess Nadir'ah -- said that she had a brilliant mind for arithmancy. Very logical. She was considered a child prodigy."

"Really?" She made a mental note to read a bit more into the life of the Damascene princess.

Dumbledore nodded absently, stroking his long white beard. "Yes, soul mate is a very misleading term. Fouad ought to have watched himself."

The girl shifted to face the headmaster, reflexively tucking her legs under her. "What do you mean, 'misleading'?"

"You were right about the heart being faithful," he told her. "The hayam's power is useless when the love is too strong to be broken under its effects. Much like when a person's will is too strong to be bent by the Imperius."

"Like Harry," she interjected.

"Yes, like Harry," he agreed. "But 'soul mate'... that term has had its meaning twisted -- it has come to mean something which is beyond one's control, as if it were predestined. I've never thought that to be true." He smiled at her. "I've always liked to think that people make their own way in life, their own destiny."

"Obviously, you don't follow the same school of thought as the Centaurs," she returned.

"Obviously," he chuckled.

Hermione furrowed her brow and gave him a quizzical look. "Well, then, if al-Mudarris didn't mean a soul-mate in the literal sense, what did he mean?"

"Something like this is difficult to explain clearly, but I will try my best. There's a moment, Miss Granger, when a person's heart -- or, soul -- recognizes its kindred in someone else. Someone innately suited to them in a way few others are. This happens to everyone, Muggle and magical...but the magic possessed by we wizards and witches give us better insight into the subconscious machinations of our own psyche. This makes us far more likely to realize it and act accordingly. I'm sure that you'd find a much lower rate of marriage dissolutions in the wizarding world in relation to the Muggle world."

She nodded as if support his claim. "It's significantly lower. I remember from when we studied marriage patterns in my 3rd-year Muggle Studies class."

"Well, that is what al-Mudarris actually meant by 'soul-mate.' I'm sure it was translated as some nonsense about destiny."

"Destined partner," she admitted. Her eyes swept the courtyard as she gathered her thoughts. "But, Professor, I still don't understand. If it's not a predestined mate, then why was I affected? I truly -- truly -- know that I'm not in love with someone in such a way."

"Well," he said lightly. "Your heart seems to think otherwise."

At that, Hermione grimaced. "Well, I know better," she grumbled.

The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes brightened as he gazed at her thoughtfully. "Do you know that the Chinese don't have separate words for 'heart' and 'mind?' To them, it's one whole entity; the seat of both emotions and thought is the same. What they call the heart is really the 'heart-mind.' " From somewhere in his robes, he produced a small round canister which he opened, offering, "A citron? They're rather good." At her declination, he continued speaking. "Unlike the Chinese, we English have always perceived the heart and mind as two completely separate and often contradictory organs."

"Professor, I..."

"The heart understands things that the mind doesn't even realizes exist," he told her philosophically. "I think that that is the root of your problem. Your mind won't accept what your heart knows. But one day, the heart will win out and you'll know. Oh, how very deeply you'll understand it all. How rare and wondrous gift it is, to love so strongly."

Silence ensued as Dumbledore gave her an another comforting pat, Hermione sighing as she watched two skylarks flit across the courtyard, short trills of song cutting through the stillness of the humans. With the wizard's words, the girl realized that even if Snape wasn't her true and ordained soul-mate, that the scenario painted by the headmaster wasn't any more comforting. How was it a rare and wondrous gift if her silly heart had given itself away to someone who could never return her feelings? It was much more like a curse, she'd wager.

As the profound weight of everything fell upon her shoulders, she felt the desperate need to talk to someone about it all, to really communicate what she felt inside. As if in answer, she suddenly remembered Harry's words about Dumbledore: I feel as if I can tell him anything, her friend had said once. And he'll never laugh or make fun. He just listens.

That was precisely what Hermione wanted at that moment.

"This whole business is very depressing," she announced sullenly.

"How so?" the headmaster asked kindly.

Her answer was soft and almost broken. "The person that I care for...he doesn't -- nor will he ever -- return my feelings. I'll end up all alone."

"You can't know that for certain," he told her. "Nothing is impossible, especially not in a world full of magic."

"I know," she argued. "I'm not blind, Professor."

He laid a age-worn hand on her shoulder, causing her to look up at him questioningly. "Haven't I already explained that it's not what you know but what you feel which is ultimately important in these matters?" The twinkle was abruptly gone and his ebullient face was calmly serious in way which Hermione had never seen. "Don't give up on it, Hermione. There is no greater tragedy on earth than that. And certainly don't give up on him. Not when he needs you more than he'll ever know."

She didn't ask or question that Dumbledore knew who 'he' was. It was in his nature, after all, to know the deepest corners of young peoples' hearts even when they didn't. "Professor, really I don't think he needs me at all," she told him bluntly. "He tries to make it clear that he doesn't need anyone. Or, more importantly, do I think he wants me."

"Severus had never known what was good for him," the old man revealed. "And he only gets more stubborn with age, I'm afraid."

"Exactly." She wrung her hands in an uncharacteristic show of anxiety.

"That doesn't change the fact that he needs you, my girl," Dumbledore emphasized. "You love him so much that you're protected from the strongest love potion known to existence. You love him in the face of the way he treats you and your friends. There's a bond there that can't be broken. And it may well be what saves him in all this."

Her eyes had gone wide, all the blood rushing from her face to leave her skin ashen. "You don't expect me to tell him, do you?"

"Love does not need to be spoken to be felt," he told her soothingly. "It's powerful and ancient magic on its own, without words or charms."

"Then what are you suggesting that I do?" she questioned. "How am I to accomplish what you think I can?"

His somber face softened and the twinkle returned to his eyes. The tension surrounding them loosened, once again allowing Hermione to breathe. "I simply ask that you don't deny your heart. I don't mean to tell you to cloister yourself and pine away or allow it to change whatever plans you have. Live with it as you would any other part of yourself. It'll take care of itself in the end."

"Easy enough for you to say," she retorted softly, the wind still playing with her loose hair.

Her comment won a hearty laugh from Dumbledore. "Yes, it is," he agreed. "But it's still good advice, Miss Granger. The feelings are in your heart to stay. You might as well accept them."

Hermione thought about that for a moment; it seemed simple enough. And wasn't that what she had done beforehand? Only then she had used a term less frightening than love, but still she had succeeded. And until the day her heart made her mind understand, she could go on as she always had.

She smiled, a steely determination flinting in her eyes. "I think I can do that."


After Dumbledore took his leave of her, Hermione felt the peculiar hum of tension which had settled in her muscles ease its hold, allowing her to completely relax for the first time since Potions class the day before. As always, the headmaster's words had brought a clarity to the situation which all her research and epiphanies had not. She would, as he suggested, simply deal with it.

In the wake of sudden relaxation, she slid off the stone bench to sit on the soft cool grass, with her back against the stone on which she had once sat. She stretched her legs out in front of her, her head gently tilted back against the bench and eyes closed as she enjoyed the warm sunlight on her face. Her current position was a juvenile one, mimicking the way she had sat in her own home's small garden dozens of times in the summer, allowing the quiet peace to seep into her overburdened muscles, right down into her bones. Despite years spent in the magical world, Hermione still thought of stress in the Muggle ways; therefore, she only thought of Muggle ways to relieve it. Much like when she'd panicked in her first year when faced with needing fire to fend off the Devil's Snare, the thought to use magical means to combat her tendency toward unhealthy stress levels had never entered her mind.

Of course, in peaceful moments like the one in the courtyard, the Muggle idea of quiet and rest seemed like such a brilliant insight. She kept her eyes closed and basked in the sun, ignoring the way her hair was fanned and tangled by the wind, or the slight wetness which the crushed grass left on her skirt and bare legs. Hermione curled her toes in the cool stems, a drowsy and pleasant feeling of laziness washing over her as she allowed both her body and mind to rest. Her mind, she realized slowly, had so few chances to do so.

If the young woman hadn't been lulled into a state of half-sleep by the warm air and woodsy smells of the plants surrounding her, she would have noticed that there was someone watching her from the large archway which opened one of the castle's many hallways into the enclosed courtyard. The figure was dark, even in the face of the brightness of the late morning and frozen on the threshold by the sight of her. As if he had become part of the architecture, Severus Snape could only stand in utter stillness as a strange sense of panic gripped him.

Never, in the almost seven years she had attended Hogwarts, had her professor seen her in such a state of relaxation, completely open and unguarded as she sat half-asleep in the grass. It was something -- those moments in time when someone's defenses were so lowered that they seemed unexistent -- which was rare to encounter; to someone as deeply private as Snape, it seemed as if he had stumbled upon something very personal and he instantly felt as if he were intruding. Judging from his own experience at being interrupted at such moments, he doubted that anyone, particularly someone as disliked as him, would be welcomed. On the other hand, however, he has never very welcomed by his pupils and Dumbledore had asked him to bring the wine-colored volume tucked under his arm to the inquisitive girl, which meant that it was a deed he would have to perform.

As he glided across the lawn, his blacks robes even more severe against the light and color of the morning, he registered belatedly that his student looked...different. Without the books slung over her back, or a quill in hand, or without words tumbling from her mouth at an alarming rate, she looked changed from the Miss Granger he had seen everyday in his classes for so long. While he couldn't quite place what differed in her countenance, he still recognized it.

Since he moved with a natural stealth, no sound had alerted her of his presence. He stood only a few feet from where she sat on the ground, watching her for a moment. Snape gave a passing thought to the wild mane she called hair and wondered briefly why she didn't cut it. At a shorter length, it would have been much easier to manage as well as having the added advantage of actually looking as if she'd brushed it.

"I think it's a bit too early in the season for sun-bathing, Miss Granger. " His rich voice cracked sharply through the blissful silence, shocking the girl out of her half-slumber.

As soon as his voice reached her ears, the change in her posture was instantaneous. She sat up quickly, her muscles tensing with the effort, recoiling and tightening as she scrambled to her feet. Startled, Hermione focused her eyes on him, keeping her gaze steady even as she knew that most of the color had drained from her face. "I was reading," she returned a bit defensively.

He swept his dark eyes from the unopened book on the bench back to the student. "Of course. Most people read with their eyes closed."

Yes, it was moments like this which made Hermione want nothing more than to strike that arrogant, sneering face. Fighting the urge, she busied her hands, brushing away the errant slivers of grass which had settled on the folds of her skirt. "Can I help you, sir?" she asked pointedly, noticing that Snape had done nothing after his last scathing comment except silently watch her.

"I was simply waiting until you had finished," he explained sardonically, his eyes lingering on her hair which was horribly wind-tousled. "Judging from your usual appearance, it shouldn't take too long."

Hermione let her hands fall still at her sides. "Yes, Professor?"

Unceremoniously, he offered her a leather-bound book, its wine color an odd spot of color against his flowing, black robes. "Professor Dumbledore asked me to give you this." He emphasized the headmaster's name as if to make it clear that he was only present under duress.

"Oh, did he?" she muttered without thinking, an eyebrow arched in mild suspicion as she accepted the book. It wasn't that she was suspicious of Snape but she was highly suspicious of Dumbledore, particularly after their last conversation.

"Yes, he did," he sneered, stepping away from her. "He seemed to think it dire that you have this volume. Otherwise, I wouldn't have fancied myself an errand boy for a student too lazy to collect her own books." Having finished his task, he turned in a sweep of black cloth. "Good day, Miss Granger."

Watching his retreating form, Hermione didn't bother to answer but instead examined the faded gilt lettering on the book's spine. As she suspected, it was Love & Loyalty : the legend of the Hayam, the very book she'd asked about that morning. A book which he had had in his possession, making it quite impossible for her to collect herself. Lazy, indeed!

With a self-deprecating grin, she realized that if the dour professor continued to behave as he usually did, she'd have little trouble ignoring whatever sentimental tug she held in her heart. Heartened by that knowledge, she grabbed her books and her shoes, preparing to spend the remainder of the quiet afternoon finishing up her assignments now that she found her thoughts to be clear and focused.

The courtyard was left sun-warmed and silent in her absence.


Snape had almost reached the entrance to the dungeons when he heard a pleasant voice call out to him. "I take it you found Miss Granger in the courtyard, Severus?"

He stopped and turned to see Dumbledore moving toward him in his usual gliding gait which defied his great age. "Yes, I delivered the book, as you asked."

"I'm sure she was pleased to see you. With the book," the older wizard stated.

"She was not. Although she should have been; it's not as if it's my place to fetch and carry books for students who would rather lay about than get them themselves."

"How could she have gotten it?" Albus asked mildly. "I seem to remember that you had the book in your possession." Despite the instructor's glare, he continued. "That reminds me...I meant to ask you earlier why you had that book in the first place?"

Something in Dumbledore's tone caused Snape to bristle. "Because my students were currently studying the hayam, of course."

Even in the dim light of the hallway, the twinkle in the old man's eyes was unmistakable. "But, if Madam Pince is correct, you didn't get the book until yesterday, after your last class...after Miss Granger's unexpected incident with it."


"I simply assumed that you were showing a special interest in Miss Granger--"

"Why on earth would I show interest in any of my students outside Slytherin? Particularly that one?" Snape interrupted waspishly.

The old man held up his hands in acquiescence. "It is merely that many instructors have been known to develop interests in their students' welfares. Usually in the least troublesome and the most troublesome."

"If that were true -- which it is not -- then, Miss Granger would certainly be a candidate for such attention. She is, with the exception of Potter, the most troublesome creature to ever set foot in my classroom."

Dumbledore chuckled softly. "I doubt she is as bad as all that."

The Potions professor merely raised an eyebrow as he excused himself. The headmaster, unable to contain the smile which twitched beneath his beard, watched the younger man disappear into the depths of the dungeons. "Oh, Severus," he said quietly to himself. "How wrong you are. I daresay that she will cause you far more trouble than Harry ever dreamed. The more better she."

With that pleasant thought, Dumbledore left the drafty hall in search for a warm cup of tea in his office.

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 4 of 27

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