Continuing Tales

Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 8 of 27

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Heart Over Mind

Despite her initial disappointment at being forced to leave the university earlier than scheduled, Hermione greatly enjoyed her two-week sabbatical at Hogwarts, where most of her mornings and afternoons were spent cloistered with Snape in his private laboratory. Although they soon finished with Madame Pomfrey's list of needed medicines, the Professor found ample reasons for his former student to continue with assisting him; during the fortnight, Hermione not only brewed various and sundry potions, she helped him catalogue his inventory of herbs and also complete a thorough inspection of his extensive collection of equipment.

She held a nagging suspicion that the headmaster had a great deal to do with her continued residence in the dungeons and she was silently appreciative for his efforts on her behalf.

For his part, Snape was once again surprised by how pleasant a companion Miss Granger could be. Not only was she an intelligent and able assistant, he admitted to himself that he found their conversations to be not only amusing but engaging as well. While he was most certainly accustomed to spending hours alone within the confines of his private workroom, the presence of another human working alongside him was not as tedious an experience as he had found it to be in the past. Though he would never admit it, he enjoyed having Hermione with him every day.

"You can't mean that," protested Hermione one late afternoon, glancing down at him from the perch on the oak ladder high above the workroom's floor. They were systematically cleaning the small space, a task which had to be done manually according to the Professor, since the use of magic in such an enclosed space filled with such volatile ingredients as he kept for such an evasive purpose was especially dangerous.

"Oh, but I do, Miss Granger," he assured her, dark eyes never leaving the shelf which he was inspecting, a stack of books in his arms. "It's not as if I'm the only one."

At that, she snorted, the forceful discharge of air stirring up the layer of dust which coated the very top shelf where she was working. Suddenly surrounded in a cloud of dust-filled air, Hermione sneezed several times, her head violently recoiling with the action.

"All right up there, Miss Granger?"

The sarcasm -- and amusement -- in his voice irritated her as much as the dust had. She ignored his question. "Oh, you're not the only one," she continued, as if she'd never sneezed. "But I wouldn't admit to anyone that I held the same opinion as someone like Lucius Malfoy, no matter what the question."

"That's a very dangerous statement," Snape informed her matter-of-factly as he stacked the tomes neatly on the clean marble workbench.

"How so?" she asked as she enthusiastically attacked the dust-covered shelf with her cleaner-soaked cloth.

"Do you know believe that the wizarding community must work together in order to assure the best possible future?" inquired he in one of his silkiest tones, his rich baritone conjuring the image of dark velvet into her mind.

Hermione had learned to distrust that voice, even as she loved to hear it slide across her ears. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously, pausing to look at him. "Yes," she answered cautiously.

"If I were to ask Lucius the same question, his answer would be the same as yours," he explained. "The two of you simply have differing views of what is meant by the phrase 'best possible future.'"

She snorted again, but there was no dust to assault her because of the action. "I should say we do," she muttered darkly. "Very bloody different views."

"But you did agree with him," Snape pointed out, glancing up at her as he spoke. "Despite that inane comment you made only a minute earlier."

"That's not what I meant!"

"Ah, perhaps. But it is what you said."

"That's twisted Slytherin logic," she complained as she scrubbed vigorously at the wood.

Snape carefully set aside an old Potions volume which needed to have its bind repaired. "It is logic, nonetheless."

"You are just trying to deter me from the topic at hand," Hermione accused him, shaking her rag at him.

He proved unmoved at her display, only observing her with a raised eyebrow before turning his back on her with a dramatic sweep of his black robes. "And what was the topic at hand?"

"Muggle society. I cannot believe that there is nothing about Muggle society that you like."

"That is not what you asked me earlier," he sighed. "You asked if there is anything of Muggle origin that I prefer over its magical equivalent. There is not."

"I still can't believe that, either," remarked she, pausing to brush her hair away from her face. "Don't misunderstand me, I love the wizarding world. But every so often, there are things I miss about the Muggle environment. Like electricity."

"Lumos spells and enchanted candles work even more efficiently than electricity," he reminded her as he added another old book to the stack which begged repair. "From what I've read and heard, there are regular breakdowns in service."

"I know, but it's just not the same," Hermione said, struggling to explain herself clearly. "What else do I computer. Oh, and ink pens! What I wouldn't give for a ballpoint pen when I've got a twenty-foot essay to write. And telephones -- fireplaces can be so messy."

"As enlightening as this is, I find my opinion unchanged."

After twenty minutes' of trying to find something Muggle which Snape would admit -- even grudgingly -- was as adequate as its magical counterpart, Hermione threw her hands up in frustration. "I give up," she declared crossly. She clamored down the ladder and slid it further along the line of shelves before climbing up the rungs once again, equipped with a new solvent-soaked cleaning cloth. "It's a simple case of snobbish ethnocentricity, I suppose."

Snape, who was seated at one of the workspaces and polishing an old copper cauldron, smirked at her secretly, his face hidden from her by his task. "Went to school to that learn big word, didn't you?"

She made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. "Well, that's what it is," she insisted. "You refusing to admit that anything Muggle is as good as anything magical."

The professor, having polished the cauldron until it shone with its original coppery luster, stood. "I am more inclined to believe that this whole useless conversation is rather more a result of your ethnocentricity than mine. You are the one who is so compelled to regale me with the superiority of your mother culture."

She opened her mouth to retort but quickly closed it, satisfied with glaring at him. Snape replaced with clean cauldron on one of the lower shelves just behind Hermione's ladder, then laid one of his hands on the rung which was level with his eyes as he looked up at her. "Come along. It's time for dinner. They'll be more than enough time for you to finish this tomorrow."

Still grumbling under her breath, she carefully retraced her way down the ladder rungs. "Yes, because I so enjoy dusting."


Over the fortnight more than Muggle ingenuity was discussed and debated in the conversations between Snape and Hermione . The topics were varied although many of them originally began as something academic or scholarly; however, between Snape's natural sarcasm and Hermione's quick wit, dialogue flowed and changed constantly to fit the mood of its contributors. A great expanse of subjects were touched upon, ranging from Potions and her classes at Trinity, to travel and music, to her friends -- despite Snape's antipathy to them -- and the books she had been reading in her spare time. When she'd discovered that the pureblooded instructor was well-versed in most Muggle literature, she'd accused him of deception.

"You told me that you didn't possess a 'literary soul,' as you called it," she protested when he asked her why she seemed so astonished that he had read and appreciated her current novel of choice, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles.

"Yes, I did. But I never said that I was so lowbrow as to not have read the fundamental classics of literature."

"You think of Hardy as fundamental? He's a Muggle, you know."

"Yes, but he's English. I overlook one for the other."

Snape, in turn, had been surprised on another occasion when Hermione had expressed a better-than-average knowledge of Chianti. He had been idly discussing a bottle of the red wine which he had been given whose taste he had found wanting, despite his usual preference for its sturdy dry flavor. She had observed that its origins might have been other than the central Chianti producing region, Classico, and therefore the cause of its inferiority.

"And what do you know about good wine?" he snorted, eyebrow raised in palpable disbelief.

She had given him a very mischievous smile, her eyes dancing. "Enough to get by," she laughed.

Like the letters which they had written over the course of her first term at university, the dialogues did not always remain nice on the surface -- but there was a deepening affinity between them, despite the mocking comments and barbed interjections which characterized their conversations.

They both enjoyed it immensely.

Meal times during her impromptu stay were also very congenial, although Hermione had been surprised at the unusual arrangements. Instead of having to sit with the students as she had expected, Hermione had been invited to dine daily at the staff table with the professors. Although many of the instructors rarely joined them, she was certain to be seated with Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall. Snape was also consistently present since she usually left his private workroom to attend all of the meals except breakfast. When Dumbledore secretly asked him about his changed habit, Snape had pointed out that although he was accustomed to missing communal meals during the holidays, the Potions professor could hardly cite a feasible reason for missing them when Hermione was with him constantly and could attest that nothing hindered his attendance.

His long-winded response only caused the headmaster's eyes to twinkle even more brightly than usual, reminding the younger wizard of a child with a delicious secret.

The only change which had occurred at Hogwarts since her departure the previous year had been another change in Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers; the curse on the job seemed to continue, as no one had ever managed to hold the positions two consecutive years. Needed on a different mission now that Harry no longer needed a close confidant to be present on campus, Remus Lupin had gracefully bequeathed the position to another professor, although Hermione had not had the chance to meet her since Professor Barfrost had traveled to Norway for the Christmas holiday. She missed the werewolf's familiar presence on the Hogwarts grounds, particularly the comfort she had found in him as a counselor of sorts. It was the only vacancy from the staff table which she actually regretted.

The conversations at the Head table were more subdued than the lively and often biting exchanges she'd shared with Snape, but Hermione delighted in them nonetheless. Since Snape spent most of the meal silent or in quiet discourse with the headmaster, she spent a good deal of the time speaking with Professor McGonagall, discussing much of her life and studies at Trinity in the way which one talked of things with an aunt, the same kind easiness in their colloquies which reminded Hermione how fond she had become of her former Head of House over the course of her education at Hogwarts. In many ways, she reflected one evening, Minerva McGonagall was somewhat like a surrogate mother to her, supporting her in times when her adored but Muggle mother was unable to do so.

As much as she loved Hogwarts and enjoyed the companionship of her former professors, Hermione desperately missed her family as well. Although she had never been one to suffer from homesickness after her first year at boarding school, her insecure emotional reactions to the events leading to Gisele's death had left her with a deep longing for the comforting security which could only be fulfilled by being at home, surrounded by her mother and father. Nowhere, not even Hogwarts, could instill the same perception of safety, despite the fact that it was truly more safe. It was same childish urge when had driven a six-year-old little girl into her parents' bedroom on stormy nights, her small body quaking in fear from the lightning and thunder of the storm which raged outside. Only snuggled into the blankets, wrapped tightly in her mother's arms, had that little girl felt safe. Irrationally, the adult Hermione still felt a vestige of that same need.

When the day came, Hermione was ready to go home.


With most of her luggage having been sent straight to her house from Trinity, Hermione had little other than one small valise to carry with her on her trip from Hogwarts to her home. Despite her reprieve from the sanctity of Hogwarts, Dumbledore still worried about her safety and had expressed his concerns to her the prior evening, insisting that she allow Professor McGonagall to accompany her as far as Diagon Alley where she was to meet her grandparents -- who would be arriving from abroad -- in Muggle London, so that they could travel to the Grangers' house together.

Faced with journeys through areas of both large wizarding and Muggle populations, Hermione took special care in choosing her apparel.

It was strange, she mused as she brushed her long hair that morning, how important and telling her vestments actually were about who she was. To someone -- like Hermione -- to whom outward appearances mattered little, the idea seemed laughable. Clothes of all the inconsequential things could reflect so much on their wearer, her position and her difficulties.

Amusedly, she saw the truth in it that morning as she dressed to leave the school. Closest to her skin, she wore her Muggle clothing: 20th-century-style undergarments which looked little like that worn by pureblood women, under a ribbed charcoal-gray dress made of synthetic washable fabric and decorated by nothing other than a high collar. While it was more formal than she liked to dress, it had been a gift from her mother, sent to her by owl-post along with the instructions, Please wear something nice ( I mean this dress) when you meet your grandparents at the airport. Otherwise, your nonna will never let me hear the end of it the entire time she's visiting. It was sleek and clingy, with a long skirt which only allowed movement because of a slit in one side. It was completely a non-magical garment.

Over the dress, she wore the rust-colored robes which she had bought for the new year at Trinity, nice enough to be worn when she attended the concerts hosted by Elena's orchestral class. Heavy and smothering, the robes had been purchased in Diagon Alley for a nice sum of galleons, fashionably styled by wizarding standards.

When the robes were topped by her good winter cloak -- still black with silver fastenings -- and her warm muffler -- scarlet and gold since Crookshanks had shredded the shamrock one -- Hermione would easily blend in with the denizens of witches and wizards who would be crowding the narrow streets of Diagon Alley shopping for the Christmas season. But the robes and cloak would be reduced and stashed away in her valise before she exited the Leaky Cauldron, replaced by the tailored black coat she'd received as a present two Christmases earlier.

Wryly, she noted that only her scarf, thick dark stockings and black Victorian-inspired high-heeled boots would successfully make the transition from magical to Muggle.

Not Muggle-enough for the Muggles but not quite magical-enough for the wizards, she observed sourly of her clothing, with the nagging belief that the same might be said of her. Her innate magical abilities were simply unheard of by the society in which she had lived her first eleven years while the logic on which she thrived was similarly scarce in the world in which she studied. Hermione had become thoroughly familiar with all aspects of magical life during the years she had spent at Hogwarts; she had excelled in her magical school subjects, grasping the concepts of Charms and Transfiguration with the same ease she had once had in learning her multiplication tables. Outwardly, she was as comfortable as any pureblooded witch, her wand the integral extension of her body which magical children understood it to be.

But in times of serious stress, she thought like a Muggle. She reached for pens and not quills, telephones instead of Floo systems. Once, she had been distracted enough to ask Harry if he had had any postage stamps! Although those instances were rare, it reflected that her formative years had been spent in Muggle society, a sphere of influence where witches were only thought to exist within the pages of storybooks.

And magical still meant so much more to her than it did to anyone raised completely among wizards. The word possessed a special quality in Muggle English that no pureblood could ever comprehend of a term used so ordinarily in their world. It suggested something mystical, elusive and unique.

It still rang that way in her head sometimes. When she had first seen the glorious green hills of the Irish countryside, she had called them magical. Wyatt had looked confused, puzzled by her statement. But Maureen had nodded, answering with a look that said I understand what you mean.

She watched herself in the tall looking-glass as she twisted her untamed hair into one strict plait, a hairstyle of which she knew her grandmother would approve. It had been in her mother's postscript: And for the love of Jesus -- do something with your hair!

Hermione briefly wondered if every Muggle-born felt as she did, wracked with a strange sense of unreality as they moved from one world into another. She knew very few of her fellow Muggleborns intimately enough to ask such a question, particularly since she felt that her ambiguous discomfort was a weakness to be conquered and subdued. She was a witch and she had as much right as any half-blood or pureblood to be a part of wizarding society.

So why did she sometimes feel as if she were an outsider?

Realizing that Professor McGonagall was waiting for her in her office, Hermione hastily grabbed her cloak and valise, leaving behind the philosophical questions of being both Muggle and witch in the richly-decorated room of the gothic castle. The questions and doubts weren't new ones, and they certainly weren't ones which she had planned to resolve in the few minutes it took her to dress.

After all, it was Christmas and she was delighted to be going home to see her parents, thrilled that her grandparents were coming to spend the holidays with them. Such dark thoughts had no place to be in her mind when she had so much to which look forward.

Remembering the remainder of her mother's orders about her attire, she paused to secure the small pendant on its chain around her neck, burying the lavaliere beneath the folds of her scarf. Oh, and please wear that necklace she gave you last visit. It'll make her day.

Giving herself one last glance in the gilded mirror, she threw the cloak over her shoulders as she rushed out the door. In her wake, the enchanted candles immediately dimmed their wicks and the fire lowered in reaction to the room's emptiness.

Be careful and don't forget to wear your coat. Or cloak -- you know what I mean.

Have a great time in London and don't worry about a thing. Mi manchi, cara. See you soon.

Much love,


Heart Over Mind

A Harry Potter Story
by Regann

Part 8 of 27

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