Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 6 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

NEWTs came and went in a flurry of late nights and early mornings, leaving in its wake a group of very relieved seventh-year students, most of whom were giddy from the simple knowledge that it was all over. Even Draco Malfoy had been seen striding through Hogwarts with a genuine smile on his face in place of his trademark sneer after he had finished his final examination.

The first summer day which dawned with no threat of a taxing exam hanging over their heads found Hermione, Harry and Ron loping down the empty hallways of the school on their way outdoors with the singular intent of enjoying the bright, sunny weather. Forgoing the formality of robes and their school uniforms, all three of them were dressed in jeans, although Harry's T-shirt was still a bit too big for him while Ron's was thin with wear and wash.

"You do realize that we'll never take another exam as students here, don't you?" Hermione remarked nostalgically, slightly saddened as she glanced back at one of the classrooms as they passed.

"Don't worry, Hermione. I'm sure that they'll be exams enough for you at Trinity," Ron consoled her, grinning as he dodged her playful swipe at his head.

"That's not what I meant," she chided him. "And you know it."

"Of course, I did," he answered. "But I don't want you to turn into a girl on us, now do I? You'll start crying and wailing and --"

"What do you mean 'turn into a girl?'" she demanded, her tone outraged.

"Uh oh. Sounds like fighting words to me, Ron," Harry told him, laughing.

"Now, you know what I meant," the redhead said.

"Lucky for you that I'm in a good mood," she returned. "Or else I'd let you have it. As it is, I'm still rather surprised about the exams. They weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be."

"Speak for yourself," grumbled Ron. "Those things were damned horrible!"

"Why do I have this strong feeling of déjà vu all of a sudden?" Harry asked teasingly.

Ron grinned. "Probably because we've been having the same argument for seven years now, mate."

"And it'll be the last," Hermione added. "I guess we'll just have to find other things to fight about."

"I don't think it'll be hard for you and Ron to find something else to fight about," Harry laughed. "Seeing as how you seem to fight over everything."

Old memories seemed to be prepared to bubble to the surface at every word of any conversation, overwhelming the soon-to-be graduates with a heavy sense of nostalgia. Once they reached the lake, the trio chose an isolated spot where they could enjoy -- for just a few more hours -- being themselves, the inseparable ring of friends fused together through the machinations of one of Voldemort's minions and a club-toting troll almost seven years before.

Under the canopy of a huge, ancient oak whose twisted network of branches left the ground streaked with irregular blotches of sun in the carpet of shade, Hermione lay flat on her back looking up into the gently swaying limbs as Harry and Ron did the same, all of them suddenly quiet in the serenity of the moment, the far-off din of other students not encroaching on their sacred space. Nothing needed to be said in the perfection of the moment.

Finally, the girl released her held breath in a long, lazy sigh. "One week, and then we'll be gone."

"Thank the gods," Ron chuckled quietly, sprawled inelegantly on the cool grass. "I'd hate to have to repeat a year, like Marcus Flint."

"Me, too." Harry agreed, using Hermione's bent knees as a backrest. "But we have 'Mione to thank for that."

"Well, that's my job," she answered breezily. "Keep the Boy Who Lived and Friend from showing the world what dolts they really are."

"Is it now?" One of Harry's eyebrows disappeared into the fringe of his unruly hair as he looked over his shoulder at her. "And I thought it was to be the Girl Who Knew Everything."

"Or at least the Girl Who Thought She Knew Everything," Ron piped in.

"Both of you can sod off!" she snorted, nudging the dark-haired boy in the back with her knee.

"We love you, too," Harry laughed.

"Always and forever," Ron admitted.

"I hate boys," she declared, as she had numerous times in her teenaged years, bemoaning the fact that she had been cursed with two clueless males for best friends.

"I'm hurt," Ron teased, faking a wounded expression. "Here we tell you of our undying affection and you say you hate us."

She pushed herself up on her elbows so that she could see both of her friends. "I'm going to miss this place terribly. Won't you?"

"Of course, I will. Hogwarts is the closest place I've ever had to a home," Harry revealed. "It'll be hard to get used to the idea that I won't be coming back in September."

"I'll miss some of it," Ron told them. "But some things I can certainly live without. Malfoy, for one. Snape, for another."

"Yeah, not having to see them is definitely a plus," Harry concurred. "Not to mention Divination. Never again will I have to listen to Trelawny predict in what gruesome way I will die next. It really gets old after a while."

Unlike her friends, the mention of Snape only reminded Hermione of something else that she was going to miss about Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She only hoped that the old adage about distance making the heart grow fonder didn't hold true in her case because the last thing she wanted was to care more for him than she already did. It was terrible enough that he had somehow wormed his way into her constant list of everyday worries, only edged out in importance by Harry and her parents. Ever since she had found him bloodied and unconscious in the dark halls of the dungeons, she had come to anxiously wait for him to make his appearance at breakfast, only to reassure herself that he was safe. It was foolish and unnecessary -- but she couldn't suppress that unease until she could see him with her own eyes as he swept into the Great Hall, glaring at all and sundry. It was silly, she'd told herself, but she hadn't found a way to stop it.

So she had simply lived with it.

"...said that Sirius was definitely going to be here," Harry was saying when the girl pulled herself out of the reveille. "Of course, he'll have to attend as Snuffles, but he'll be here. That's what matters. Let's just hope that no one questions why Remus has a big black dog with him at graduation."

"Speaking of you know your animal form yet?" Ron wanted to know, directing his question to the quiet young woman.

"Yes." Actually, she had learnt her Animagus form sometime after the hayam fiasco but before she'd spent a day as Snape's nursemaid, but she neglected to share the information with her friends.

Both were immediately interested, Ron so much so that he sat up to look at her. "So, aren't going to tell us what it is?"

"Nooooooo," was her honest reply."

"Why not?"

"We promise we won't make fun of you," Ron assured, a devilish gleam in his eye. "Much." When Hermione had first told them of her plans to train to be an Animagus, Ron had predicted that she'd turn into a worm, giving her old nickname 'Hermione the know-it-all bookworm,' a whole new meaning. Ever since then, it had been one of his favorite running jokes, much to his friend's annoyance.

"I will tell you when I've completed my training," she informed them tartly. "Until earlier comment applies."

Harry shifted his position until he was kneeling, resting his folded arms on Hermione's bent knees, a stance which allowed him to see her face. "You've been keeping a good number of secrets from us," he reminded her quietly. "First the hayam business and now the Animagus stuff. I'm bound to wonder...what else are you hiding?"

"Nothing!" she protested, not at all easy with the mischievous glint in those green eyes. "It's just...some things are very private for me, alright?" And I'm worried that you'll never speak to me again if I tell you about Snape. Why ruin our friendship over a seriously one-sided infatuation?

"Uh huh," he said, not convinced. "Still we've always told you who we had crushes on. It doesn't seem fair that you won't tell us who your soul-mate is."

"Well, I told you who it wasn't," she reminded him. "That's better than nothing." Her expression turned smug. "And Mr. Harry Potter, I distinctly remember you telling -- nay, begging -- me not to tell Ron when you first decided you liked Ginny."

"She's got you there, mate," Ron pointed out. "Not that I don't want to know, because I do. Just tell us, 'Mione. You can trust us."

"No, I can't," she disagreed, laughingly. "It's neither one of you and that's all you need to worry about. And it's not Malfoy. Or any member of the Weasley family. That narrows it down, doesn't it?"

"Sure to all but 10 members of the wizard population," said Harry dryly. "You're being obstinate for the fun of it, aren't you?"

She giggled. "Of course I am."

A look passed between the two young men and the twin devilish smiles on their faces widened. "Well, you know what this means," Harry told her mock-seriously.

"You have to be punished," Ron dead-panned.

Her eyes widened when she fully understood their meanings. "You wouldn't dare!"

"Oh, yes, we would."

"Harry Potter," she admonished as she tried to wriggle free of the grasp he had on her calves. "We're 17 years old, much too old to be -- GET OFF, YOU -- !"

The remainder of her statement was lost in the very girly squeal she made when both Harry and Ron pounced on her, tickling her mercilessly as the three of them mock-fought and wrestled as they had done when they were children, rough-housing on the soft ground in the warm summer sun.

The afternoon air was filled with the undignified but happy noise of three seventh-years briefly reliving the childhood which circumstance had caused them to abandon all too early.


When the examination results were posted a week later, no one was surprised that Hermione had managed the best scores, shattering Percy's record and a half-dozen others on her way to the highest NEWTs in fifty years. No one was more pleased with the results than her Head of House and her Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.

"I knew she could do it," Professor McGonagall practically beamed as she, the headmaster and Professor Lupin chatted over tea in the staff room after having helped with the posting of grades. "I'm so proud of her."

That was high praise, coming from the usually reserved Transfiguration teacher.

"As am I," Remus admitted, smiling. "And knowing how hard she worked, I'm doubly happy for her. A bit of a worrier, that one is."

"Miss Granger has once again proven herself to be one of the cleverest witches that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing here at Hogwarts," Dumbledore added kindly, his blue eyes twinkling. "And she is living proof that any nonsense about pure-blooded wizards being somehow superior to Muggleborns is just that -- nonsense."

"Yes, but at what price?" Snape's voice flowed from his usual corner by the fire. Instead of the usual book to hold his attention, he was staring vacantly into the fire. "That of her safety?"

"Severus, I doubt by making good grades she's made her list of enemies any longer," McGonagall told him.

"Not longer," he said slowly, deliberating over his words. "But she has added yet another reason to the already long list of reasons for her to be targeted. Muggleborn, best friend of Harry Potter, personal foil to young Malfoy...none of them are in her favor. This only adds to it. The fact that her mere existence taunts certain narrow-minded beliefs held by many pureblood wizards puts her in danger."

"If I didn't know better, I would think that you cared," Remus spoke mildly.

"I care about all my students, Lupin, insomuch as I don't want to see any of them as the victims of Death Eaters and that includes Miss Granger," he scowled, still watching the fire. "The Dark Lord has an unwavering obsession with killing Harry Potter. And Lucius Malfoy has a similar fixation on asserting the superiority of pure bloods over Muggleborns. Her death fits nicely in with both those agendas. I'm not blaming her, Minerva," he snapped, cutting off the other instructor's comment before she had a chance to make it. "I am merely stating the obvious."

"Are you certain you're not just upset because her scores were even higher than your own?" Remus teased, trying to pull the Potions Master away from his dark thoughts. His trouble only earned him a glare.

Minerva stood, briskly patting a stray strand of hair neatly back into place. "I'll not have this day ruined with such horrible thoughts," she told the three men sternly. "We have so few reasons to celebrate these days as it is and I would like this graduation to run as smoothly as possible. It's bad enough that the girl can't even have her parents here!" With that, she hurried out of the staff room.

"She's taking this years' leaving particularly hard," Dumbledore explained. "I daresay she's become rather attached to this batch of students -- Harry, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger, particularly."

The werewolf stood as well, moving toward the door. "She's not the only one," he admitted quietly before slipping out of the room, leaving the headmaster alone with the sullen Potions instructor.

"Is this the same instructor who swore to me that he had no special interest in Miss Granger?" the headmaster questioned thoughtfully. "You're remarkably concerned about her for that to be the case."

"I'm concerned about all of them, Albus. They aren't prepared, not for the world which awaits them," Snape stated simply, almost emotionlessly.

"No one is ever prepared for war, Severus," the older man told him. "Not truly. And I would contend that Miss Granger is among the few who might be considered the most prepared. She has faced a great deal in her time here."

He sighed. "I know, but she had placed herself in great risk, mostly in ways which have been through no deliberate design of her own."

"The same can be said for Harry and young Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore reminded him. "And yet, you don't seem to be torturing yourself over their welfares at this moment. Why is that, Severus?"

Snape scowled, his dark eyes still watching the flames pop and flicker against the darkened soot-stained stone of the hearth. How could he explain to Dumbledore that somewhere in the past few months there had become a subtle difference between the infuriatingly stubborn but brilliant Miss Granger and the remainder of his students? That she, by showing him the kindness which few other than Dumbledore had shown to him in the past two decades, had crossed a thin, imperceptible line from student into something else entirely? He could still remember those moments when he had realized that she had actually cared that he had not died on those cold dungeon stones, and how touched he'd been, despite his own reservations.

How could he explain all those strange thoughts when they made no sense to him?

Snape remembered too late that there was little one actually needed to say to Dumbledore; the old man could know more from a glance into someone's eyes than most could from the clever use of Veritaserum. Those caring blue eyes caught Snape's dark ones and the younger man was certain that the headmaster knew of all the thoughts which had sped through his mind.

Rising slowly, Dumbledore crossed the room so that he could lay his hand on Snape's shoulder. "You are a good man, Severus," he stated. "No matter what you say to the contrary. You protect Harry with your life and you work just as tirelessly on a subtle campaign to save Draco from the fate which awaits him if he follows his father. And now, it seems, you have added the inestimable Miss Granger to your list of special projects."

He shifted moodily in his chair. "There's nothing noble or good about my actions, Albus. I protect Potter because I owe his father a debt," he frowned. "And I try to help Malfoy because the last thing the Dark needs on its side is another Lucius Malfoy."

"Of course," Dumbledore acquiesced, as he often did when arguing with the stubborn professor, knowing that retreat was often the best strategy . "If you'll excuse me, I must take my leave of you. I'm sure Minerva is somewhere ready to burst into tears at the slightest provocation and I had better check on her."

Snape didn't turn to watch the headmaster leave but he followed the old man's progress by the faint sound his movements caused. With his ears, he noticed the pause Dumbledore made before exiting. "You protect Harry because of James," he reiterated. "And you try to save Malfoy because of - or, rather in spite of - Lucius. Why, then, do you worry about Miss Granger? I don't think you've ever met her father."

With a soft chuckle at the exasperated look on his spy's face, Dumbledore disappeared behind the heavy oak door, leaving Snape alone to stare into the firelight and think on what he had said.


In spite of the heavy security measures and the fact that it had been deemed too dangerous for most Muggleborns to invite their parents, graduation turned out to be an immensely wonderful affair. Both Harry and Hermione who were without their parents' presence on the most joyful day found themselves mothered far more than necessary by Mrs. Weasley, who had little trouble in extending her maternal urges to include two more children. When Mrs. Granger had been notified of the safety precautions which had discouraged the travels of Muggles into the wizard world, she had been ferocious in her anger, declaring -- with an impressive vocabulary of curse words that her daughter never dreamed her mother could use -- that no Dark Lord would stop her from seeing her only child graduate. It had taken Hermione and her father hours to calm the dental surgeon and still more hours before she had grudgingly agreed to remain at home.

"Look at you three!" Molly gushed as she bustled over to grab Ron, Harry and Hermione in a vice-like hug. "All grown up and graduated. I still remember that first time I seen you all in King's Cross station, just back from your first year here and --"

"Mum, geroff. You're strangling us," Ron managed to choke out.

She released them, only to pull Ron into another embrace. "And you, Ron! My baby boy has graduated Hogwarts. Oh, I can't believe it. He's become such a nice young man, as handsome and as brave as they come."

Harry and Hermione stood back, trying not to laugh at the look of mixed irritation and affection on Ron's face as he pried his mother's arms from around him. The rest of the Weasley clan had joined them by the time Ron was free of his mother, offering their congratulations to the new graduates. Of course, Fred and George took every opportunity to needle ickle Ronnekins, but otherwise remained on their best behavior on pain of serious injury if their mother caught them acting out of line.

Almost two hours into the reception, Hermione was deep in discussion Seamus's aunt about the best wizarding establishments near Trinity College when Harry appeared at her elbow and gently drew her away from the friendly Irishwoman. "What is it, Harry?" she inquired when they were out of earshot.

His green eyes were glittering with barely-contained excitement. "We're all going up to Dumbledore's office to continue the reception there so that Sirius can transform," he explained in hushed tones. "Are you coming?"

She thought for a moment, then shook her head. "Not this minute. I've got something to do first. I'll be along directly."

He nodded understandingly. "Come on up when you're ready. The password is Jawbreaker." With a quick wave, she watched his head disappear into the swarms of people as he headed out of the Great Hall on his way to Dumbledore's office for a visit with his godfather. Hermione waited until she was certain that he was gone and quietly followed, although she headed not for the tower where the headmaster's office was located but toward the dungeons.

She had one more very important task to complete before she left Hogwarts for good.


As soon as it had been possible, Snape had escaped the graduation proceedings for the haven of his office, grateful to be far away from the celebrations. Not that he had ever been a very social creature, but he had much more sufficient reason to want to stay as far away as possible from the Great Hall than his misanthropic nature. With Lucius Malfoy in attendance at his son's graduation for propriety's sake, Snape knew it would only have been a matter of time before the pureblood would have ensnared him as a companion, forcing him to endure the Death Eater's presence through the crawling hours of the reception. Snape would have none of that.

The actual ceremony had been a trial in and of itself, during which he had been seated with the Slytherin parents where interaction with Malfoy had been unavoidable. He had listened to the man's cutting under-his-breath comments throughout the entire procession: jibes at Dumbledore, at Potter, at all the Weasleys and a few truly disparaging insults directed toward a certain Muggleborn witch. It had taken every ounce of his formidable self-control to refrain from causing Malfoy bodily harm.

It had been a simple matter to disappear into the shadows and quietly slip back to the dungeons. He doubted anyone save Dumbledore would even note his absence.

Snape was rigorously sorting the last stack of parchments left on his desk in anticipation of the impending summer holidays when he heard the faint noise of someone approaching. Stubbornly ignoring whoever it was in hopes that they would leave, he kept his dark head bowed over his work, hand writing furiously.

A clearing of the throat preceded the hesitant "Professor Snape?"

He registered the feminine voice, instantly recognizing it. Sighing, he looked up from his task to see Hermione standing in the threshold, still garbed in her formal graduation robes, her voluminous hair marginally tamed into a coiled knot at the nape of her neck. "Miss Granger," he nodded curtly before returning to work.

She loitered uncertainly just outside of the office. "May I have a few moments of your time?" she questioned tentatively.

"I've suffered your presence for seven years. I think I may be able to withstand it a few minutes longer."

Taking that dubious statement as a invitation, Hermione stepped into the office, her hands clasped together in an effort to combat the nervousness she felt. Now that she was here, in front of him, she was no longer certain of what she wanted to say, and she stood there silently, scrambling to collect her thoughts.

"Do you plan on using your minutes to stare at me, Miss Granger?" he inquired darkly.

She cleared her throat once again, and began to speak. "Well, sir, as you know I plan on attending Trinity to study mediwizardry."

"And why is that of any great importance to me?"

Hermione narrowed her eyes, her courage strengthening in the face of the customary derision. "You see, sir, I was hoping that you might...well, you said yourself, Trinity has a strong Potions department but they are rather well...cutthroat, the whole lot of them. And it's extremely difficult for anyone whose concentration isn't Potions to receive much in the way of ..."

"Please get to the point soon, Miss Granger. You are trying my patience."

"I was hoping that you would consent to correspond with me as a sort of Potions advisor. While I'm certainly not going to be immersed in a Potions curriculum, medicinal Potions is a large part of the early mediwizardry training. I'm not even certain that I'll need it, but it would be a great relief to know that I could turn to you for advice if I had a mind to do so."

"Indeed?" Hermione sincerely detested that patronizing drawl of his, no matter how velvety smooth his voice was when he delivered it. Snape peered over his interlaced fingers to fix the girl with his piercing gaze. Although she still seemed nervous, Hermione refused to be intimated, meeting his eyes unflinchingly.

"Well?" she questioned after a heavy silence.

He leaned back in his chair, maddeningly superior in his dismissive gestures. "By all means, Miss Granger, if it will ease your mind, feel free to write me."

She recognized the sarcasm with which he spoke, but she also recognized the humor hidden behind the words. She looked at him suspiciously, waiting for him to continue.

"Medicinal Potions is not my specialty," he began slowly, pensively. "But I will consent to read whatever you send and then decide if it's worth my time to answer."

"That's very generous of you," she told him, not bothering to mask the edge of sarcasm in her voice or the half-amused expression on her face.

Something flashed over his face quickly, disappearing before Hermione had a chance to analyze it. "I thought so as well," admitted he silkily.

Whatever reply Hermione had wanted to make was smothered by the arrival of Professor Dumbledore who chose that particular moment to enter the office. "There you are, Severus," he greeted the professor. "I knew that you would make a run for cover as soon as possible." His eyes moved from the man to the young woman, twinkling. "Ah, and Miss Granger! What on earth could you be doing here?"

She could feel the bright blush creeping up her face at the headmaster's questions, detecting the faint note of insinuation in his mild tone. "I just had a question," she explained. There was a knowing smile on the headmaster's face.

"Did you want something, Headmaster?" Snape inquired coolly.

"Just to let you know that Mr. Malfoy is looking for you," he informed him. "Unfortunately, he is under the impression that you've already left for the summer." The old man's smile broadened. "I don't know how he ever came to that conclusion."

There was genuine mirth on Snape's face as he said appreciatively, "Thank you, sir."

"Not at all."

Hermione cleared her throat, taking a step toward the door. "If you'll excuse me," she began. "I'm supposed to be meet Harry..."

The headmaster nodded. "The password is Jawbreaker," he reminded her.

She smiled. "I remember. Thank you, Headmaster. For everything."

Dumbledore gently patted her on the cheek, as one would do a toddler. "Not at all, my child."

She turned to leave, but glanced back over her shoulder at her instructor, her brown eyes shimmering with some complex emotion. "And thank you, Professor Snape," she grinned. "Not only for your generous offer of assistance, but for a very interesting seven years. It has been a pleasure." Although she had meant it as a jest, as soon as the words left her mouth, Hermione realized that she meant them. Ah, stupid emotions, she chastised herself. They seem to be causing some kind of selective memory loss. There was nothing pleasant about his classes. Not even him.

Snape regarded her as he responded, his dark eyes unreadable. "It has been an...experience teaching you, Miss Granger. One that I'm unlikely to forget."

Somehow, a statement which could have been understood to mean so many different things made Hermione smile, a smile which was warm and honest. With another nod to the two men, she was gone.

The headmaster looked at the seemingly unreadable expression fixed on Snape's face, noticing where others would not the slight upturn at the corners of his mouth which might be interpreted as a smile and the light in his eyes which seemed somehow softer.

"You're going to miss her," he observed, delighted by the knowledge.

"Yes," Snape admitted, surprised when he finally answered. "I do believe I will."

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 6 of 27

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