Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 1 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

Severus Snape stifled a yawn as he stacked his paperwork into neat, albeit precariously balanced piles on top of his desk and put away his favorite quill. Easing himself out of his armchair, he took a moment to indulge in a languid stretch, stubbornly ignoring the twinge of discomfort in his back that immediately followed. Years of bending over cauldrons had finally managed to catch up with him it seemed, and sitting at his cramped little desk for hours on end no longer agreed with him in his...

Old age, he finished with disgust as he methodically returned books to their shelves and caps to their ink bottles. Damn it.

It had been a long day.

To begin with, Severus had spent most of first period dousing cauldron fires for imbecilic First Years, only to be later chastised by Minerva for what were, as she deemed, "unjustifiably harsh criticisms." At lunch, he had done nothing but sit in pensive silence at the staff table, minding his own business, when Hooch's little bitch of a Peregrine Falcon decided to gobble up his last piece of toast from right underneath his unsuspecting nose. Hooch had laughed and ruffled the bird's feathers with a sickening degree of affection, while Severus stared incredulously down at his empty plate. And while this had not been an altogether extraordinary act of malice on Hooch's part, Severus was still rather upset over the flight instructor's appalling lack of table manners.

However, hands down, the most taxing event of the day had arrived outside his laboratory door promptly following dinner, all wrapped up as usual in her various red-and-gold-colored clothing assortments, beaming like a buffoon, and asking more questions than any person had a right to wonder.

Tonight had been his very first two-hour session with Hermione Granger. And already he wanted to strangle the Gryffindor twit.

How his colleagues managed to stomach her incessant yammering day after day, he hadn't the faintest idea. She was exhaustive and batty, stubborn in all the wrong ways. No matter that she was graduating in only a year, Severus wanted her gone now.


If he were to be truly honest with himself, Severus found that he was able to grudgingly admit that their lesson had not been as entirely horrific as initially anticipated. For, while it was indeed true that Hermione Granger continued to remain an ever-insufferable-know-it-all — as was her nature; no doubt, she had emerged from the womb as nothing less — she at least put on the appearance of listening attentively. She never needed to be told anything twice, and she seemed able to grasp a concept almost before Severus could even finish proposing it. Furthermore, and most shocking of all, he found himself very nearly impressed ('nearly' being the operative word) with her knowledge of the history and theory behind the craft of potion-making itself, rather than simply the names of the ingredients and their individual properties.

These attributes also served to make the girl twice as annoying as usual. After all, there was only so much noise he could take from one person. But Severus thought that if things continued to progress as they were, he might actually be able to survive the rest of the semester.

Or at least manage to refrain from putting the girl through a wall.

And yet... Granger. Potions. Two things he had always thought should never be voluntarily mixed, and here he was haplessly stirring them together in his very own laboratory. What had possessed him to think that taking her on would end in anything less than catastrophic calamitous calamity? Just the thought of a faithful flunky of Wonderboy Potter flittering around in his personal stores was enough to bring bile to the back of Severus's throat. But, persistence was not an unfamiliar concept to one such as Granger; every single day, at the end of class, she had come to his desk with over-flowing book bag slung over her shoulder and Potions text in hand. She had gazed dolefully up at him with those stupidly big brown eyes and begged him to give her private lessons: "Please, Professor Snape, it would only be once a week," and, "Oh, please, I would really like to get my Masters in Potions like you, but I need more experience."

Perhaps his irritation caused Severus to exaggerate, upon reflection, the pathetic nature of her whine a bit more than was fair… Still. Even without exaggeration, the constant sound of Granger's voice was enough to make him want to grab an enormous pair of cymbals and start madly bashing her head between them.

Maybe this was the reason he had finally given in. His poor grated nerves had simply thrown in the towel and said, "Fuck it, Severus — just give the damn girl what she wants."

Then again, perhaps deep down (very, very deep down) he had taken Granger on because he really could use the extra pair of hands.

Either way, it hardly mattered now. What was done was done, and there was little he could do about it. Yet even as he knew that resistance was all but futile, Severus often couldn't suppress that niggling, bitter complaint in the back of his head that groaned on and on about how tedious the whole thing was, and how, despite its difficulties and inconveniences, he was not receiving a single knut for all that trouble.

Certainly Severus knew that it would be ludicrous to demand money from a student in order for him to do a job that he was already being paid to do. But it wasn't as though he were rolling in Galleons or anything. The only recompense he was sure to receive for his efforts were Minerva's prickly, disgruntled looks, telling him just how much she appreciated him exploiting her precious little prodigy.

Hard be it for the fickle old woman to imagine that it actually wasn't his life's ambition to ruin the future of Hermione Granger.

Though, it probably wouldn't hurt to try, he thought with an amused grunt.

Severus flicked his wand as he left the room, the numerous candles on the walls sputtering faithfully out behind him.

As he prepared for bed, one last question still remained lodged and unanswered in the back of his head. Why, oh why, in Merlin's name, did Granger all of a sudden wish to become a Potions Mistress? Granted, she made decent marks (a fact which vexed him greatly, as he always did his best to ensure that no Gryffindor had a shot in hell of scraping any manner of admirable mark in his class), but it wasn't as though she had ever seemed particularly keen on the subject.

Severus gave an uncharacteristic sigh as, at last, he slipped into bed and buried himself beneath the thick duvet. It had been a long day, and trying to puzzle out the madness behind the madness of Hermione Granger only seemed to be making it longer. So, closing his eyes, and allowing himself to sink slowly into his mattress, Severus vowed solemnly not to think again about said Gryffindor until at least the next morning.

He cracked an eyelid and glanced at the clock, whose hands plainly indicated that it was well after four.

Bloody hell and damn it all.

And with that last thought, Severus rolled over on his side and promptly went to sleep.

"Still trying to figure out why you would voluntarily take extra lessons with Snape," stated Ron for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning as Hermione munched cheerily on a slice of buttered toast.

"Haven't you had enough?" Harry muttered into his pumpkin juice. "There is a masochistic streak in you that baffles me sometimes, Hermione."

"Stop it," Hermione snapped. "And, if you please, that's Professor Snape to the both of you," she added, glaring mightily at them from across the table.

Ron didn't answer. Instead, he shoved another spoonful of porridge in his mouth and proceeded to chew around a heavy scowl.

Harry did not seem hungry. "Again? What in the—Why do you care what we call him?" He squinted at her from behind wire-framed glasses. "You've been acting strange all week. Haven't got a temperature, have you?" His tone was only half-serious, but he reached out and made as though to feel Hermione's forehead.

She pulled away sharply. "I am in perfect health, Harry, thank you," she replied, wiping her mouth delicately on a red and gold fringed napkin. Then she reached over and used her fork to spear herself another omelet from the bowl in the middle of the table, taking a moment to wrinkle her nose at Seamus Finnegan, who was currently drowning his own plate of eggs and sausages in a pool of ketchup.

This was disconcerting to Hermione — the fact that Harry had noticed something "strange" about her. She had thought her efforts thus far to appear normal had been mostly successful, if not admirable. But it was hard to get perspective. It was hard to tell what was different or strange in her behavior when she wasn't used to studying herself.

Then again, her keen sense of reason had admittedly not been up to snuff lately—this owing to the fact that she spent the majority of her time feeling very… confused. Emotionally confused. Emotionally and hormonally confused. A confusion whose origins she had a hard time locating. If pressed, she supposed that it must have begun, as most things do, at the beginning — the very first day she had met him (this man, this professor, this cause of all things disconcerting).

Tall, dark, sinister, fierce and imposing, powerful, brilliant, Master in his field: as an eager young student, bedazzled by the wonder and glamour of a new world, those words had come easily to Hermione when she first glimpsed that intimidating figure striding so boldly through the classroom doors. Those words were the very essence of her first impression of Severus Snape, and a strong impression it was to be sure. So strong, in fact, that despite the man's perverse cruelty over the years, it had managed to imprint itself deep into her subconscious mind. Somehow that image of dauntless perfection had remained buried within her, hidden away behind a thick layer of forced indifference. She had successfully ignored it for a long time, forgotten it even, and yet, somehow, it stayed, quiet but persistent, lurking, waiting for a moment to break free again. For there was no denying that it had been trapped; so many walls had been built since that first day — walls of anger, of hatred, of betrayal and hurt. All of those feelings had come together to form an impenetrable force around that initial image. The clever, devious, riveting persona that had once struck her with such unrestrained fervor.

Now, somehow, over the last year, those rigid walls had disappeared.

She had no idea if this had happened all at once, or gradually over time, the point of it was, the walls were gone, reduced to nothing more than a crumbled heap of ill-humor and bruised pride. She used to be able to look at Snape and feel nothing but indifference, occasionally anger or a profound sense of injustice. Now when she looked at him, she felt half-blinded by that initial, striking impression. It was that collective core, that aura of shrewd awareness and confidence and steely intelligence that seemed to radiate so fiercely from him now — an aura that never failed to give her delightful little shivers down her spine.

Why did it give her shivers? she wondered. And what did those shivers even mean? Hermione had been cold before — shivered from a frosty wind, shivered from fear, shivered from anticipation. But this was none of those things. She wasn't cold. She was, perhaps on occasion, a little afraid (not that afraid), and she never anticipated anything from Snape beyond dark looks, an occasional sneer, and a plethora of thinly-veiled insults. This new shiver was something else entirely and she had no idea where to categorize it in her mind. Nothing about this made the slightest bit of sense.

Another cause for concern was what exactly had demolished those carefully constructed walls of hers in the first place. Could it have been a specific event? Or did the barrier simply deteriorate on its own? Worn slowly away by the occasional (yet forceful) waves of awe and admiration he sometimes inspired in her. But, most importantly, why oh why, Hermione obsessed, why couldn't she just leave him alone? Ignore him like she used to. She was no longer able to just bow her head and read her textbook like the diligent student she so desired to embody. Why did she all of a sudden find the impulse to watch him out of the corner of her eye irresistible? Or the need to impress him even greater than it ever had been before? None if it made sense, and that did not sit well with Hermione. Not at all.

Who knew if this feeling was even attraction. Was it him as a person that appealed to her (though 'person' was rather a generous term), or was it the position and power he held? Was what she was feeling normal? Was it okay? Who could possibly understand what she was going through if she couldn't even understand it herself?

While Hermione made valid attempts at convincing herself that what she was feeling was, at most, just a passing infatuation with the man's intelligence, she equally understood that whatever this ridiculous emotion was, she needed to get it under control, and soon. She couldn't have a crush on Snape — he was a Hogwarts professor! And a bastard besides.

Her reasoning therefore, was this: a person could never make an accurate analysis of something until they had all the facts. Therefore, Hermione's first objective was to do what she did best. Research. Then, once she had all the information (though she was not quite sure what sort of information she was looking for in this situation), she could piece everything together and draw some notion of a coherent conclusion.

That was her analytical approach, anyway.

Her other approach, her emotional approach, was perhaps a bit more unorthodox. Although this one, at least, provided a much more immediate solution.

Instead of trying her best to stay away from Snape and hope that this unwanted emotion faded on its own, Hermione decided to exploit the man's biting personality by spending more time with him rather than less in the hopes that her heart would soon realize what a twisted pain in the side he really was and leave her alone. She hoped that perhaps she could replace that initial image of dauntless perfection with something a bit less… admirable.

After her first couple of lessons in Snape's gloomy dungeon — all of which were awkward and sometimes downright miserable — Hermione found that her theory proved to be outstandingly wrong. This was through no lack of trying on Snape's part, however. Even after she had proved herself innumerable times, showing him that she was not your average anything-to-scrape-by Gryffindor chest-thumper, and that she could indeed bubble a cauldron just as well as any Slytherin, he still continued to treat her like an ignorant child. (And if there was anything that Hermione hated most, it was being treated as though she were ignorant).

Yet, in a twisted way, the fact that Snape knew her greatest peeve and exploited it for all it was worth also gave Hermione a glimmer of encouragement. Perhaps that proved that her emotional approach wasn't too far off after all. Maybe she just needed to keep on with her lessons, and her hatred for the bitter and prickly man would eventually overcome the infatuation.

Yes, keep on with the lessons — that sounded like as good a plan as any.

It was quiet as usual in the cold, dark dungeon, with the exception of the soft scratching of Snape's quill and the gentle hiss of the simmering cauldron Hermione was so intently bending over.

When the outer rim turns green, add the ginger root, she recited mentally to herself, trying not to be distracted by the constant tapping of her professor's booted toe. There it goes. Quickly. With a swift proficiency, Hermione scraped the finely cut roots off her cutting board and into the cauldron, where the paper-thin slices disintegrated almost instantly. Turn blue, turn blue, she silently urged it. Turn blue, turn— "Yes!" she squealed as the bubbling liquid turned a pleasing shade of navy.


Snape's voice startled her and she whirled around, her elbow catching the edge of a finely made crystal container of Armadillo bile, which toppled almost apologetically off the table. With a swoop of her arm and a sigh of relief, Hermione caught it and set it tenderly back on the counter, thanking every luck-giving entity she could think of that it had not broken. She knew only too well how mortifying it was to drop a valuable ingredient when in the presence of a man like Severus Snape.

"Oh, nothing," she replied, forcing nonchalance, hoping that he had been too engrossed in his paperwork to witness her near accident. "That is, it seems that stage one of the burn salve extract is nearly finished."

"You needn't inform me when something is nearly finished, Miss Granger," Snape stated bluntly (and rather nastily, Hermione thought). He finished grading a paper with what looked like a depressingly extravagant 'D' and transferred it into the steadily growing stack of papers at his side which each bore such a flourishing letter upon them. "Nearlywill never get you anywhere." He glanced up briefly to scowl her way before turning back to his Fourth Years' essays on the properties of Billywig Stings, and resuming his furious, yet admittedly elegant, scrawling.

"My mistake," she said lightly, determined not to let him bother her.

Normally, Hermione would have been thrilled that Snape was in such a foul mood, as that would mean almost no work on her part in trying to goad him into rudeness, but she had been having a good day thus far, and for once she would actually like to concentrate on a lesson instead of wasting time attempting to sabotage her heart. Urgh, how revolting, she thought to herself with disgust, and then suppressed a giggle at what she imagined Ron's expression might be if he heard her talking like this.

Her life, it seemed, had become quite the soap opera. Well, in her own head at least.

Hermione hummed lightly as she stirred the burn salve extract, which was beginning to form itself into a thin, cream-like paste. She was in fact unaware that she had been making any noise at all until Snape slammed his palm down on the table and startled her once again out of a reverie.

"Would you desist," he hissed.

"Yes, alright," Hermione replied, a little stung despite herself. "No need to get snippy," she added in an undertone.

"What was that?"

A sigh. "Oh, nothing."

Snape made a sharp noise of disbelief and returned to his papers, once again grading with such fury that Hermione thought it a wonder he didn't rip straight through the parchment. She watched the curve of his slender hand as it gripped the quill, and found herself, quite unexpectedly, wondering what his skin felt like. Was it warm like hers? She had always imagined his skin feeling cold, like marble or a smooth metal. But obviously he was every bit as much a human she was (physically speaking anyway, she was not entirely sure what qualified in terms of moral fiber), and he certainly had veins, and blood, and a pulse just as she did, so surely he—

"Eyes on your cauldron, Miss Granger," Snape said suddenly without looking up.

Hermione frowned and shook her head, mentally urging herself to get a grip. She turned back to the salve and resumed stirring in a rhythmic, clockwise motion, repeating the instructions in her head over, and over, and over, and over…

It was not long before Hermione's lessons grew steadily less awkward, and she eventually found herself forming a genuine interest in her new studies.

She also came to find that her dark and brooding professor was aptly titled Potions Master, for he was wickedly cunning and so intelligent that she often had conversations with him that she did not fully understand until days afterwards. (Though she presumed that unwarranted insults lay beneath just about everything he said to her).

Another revelation Hermione discovered about her professor, and to her great surprise, was that he did a great deal of potions-related work in his spare time that had nothing to do with either teaching or personal experiments. St. Mungo's owled Snape at the first of every other week with a long list of of cures and remedies in need of replacement, after which he would singlehandedly brew, bottle, and send back each one within the confines of fourteen days (sometimes more when the potion required a longer time to make). And what was most surprising of all, was that he, Severus Snape, was never paid a single knut for all that trouble.

Despite herself, Hermione was impressed.

Of course, Snape hardly went without making his few extra Galleons. He was also entangled in a rather important-sounding deal with the Ministry. A deal that consisted of experimenting with potions that might counter a particularly bad hex or make the drinker invisible — in short, anything to help an Auror in action. This, he was paid very handsomely for.

Prior to these lessons, Hermione would have been staggered to think that she might learn this much about the morbidly secretive Professor Snape. However, when a person spends as much time with the man as she did, there are some things that simply cannot be kept hidden. He had owls flying in at every turn of the head, screeching and fluttering as they swooped down through a specially created pipe that led like a chimney to the outside. In fact, the owls were usually in such a rush that they would oftentimes mistakenly deliver their burden directly to Hermione. In every such event, Snape would instantly snatch the letter away, glaring daggers at Hermione as though it was her fault the owl had become confused.

It was during just such an accident, when Snape, by chance, was not in the room, that Hermione finally had a chance to see the Ministry seal on the envelope, as well as the enormous bag of galleons attached. Confused at first, not only because of the money, but also because the only letters Hermione had seen prior to that were from St. Mungo's — letters with order forms she had become entirely too familiar with, as Snape had recently taken to letting her deal with those relatively unsupervised. At first, she had figured that these solo assignments were a reward, a show of confidence in her growing medicinal skills. Then she began to get the feeling that Snape simply did not seem to think those letters quite as important. And when the first Ministry bird arrived, Hermione immediately realized why.

In any case, Hermione's lessons continued. Soon, she and the Professor progressed to the point where long silences were comfortable rather than awkward, and most of the time they would go the entire two hours without saying more than three words put together.

This should have made Hermione furious. After all, was she not supposed to be hating him by now? Instead, it made her happy, and she truly began to enjoy her time in the dungeons. These lessons were arguably more exciting than any of her other classes.

Until now, she had never had the opportunity to work so intimately with such powerful ingredients and concoctions. It was a thrill she had never fully been granted, and she charged it as one of the greatest highs she had ever experienced. The closest she had come to anything of this nature was the Polyjuice Potion that she had brewed for Harry and Ron in their second year. Even then, Hermione had found it almost below her skill level.

Now, at last, she had thousands of ingredients at her fingertips, and hundreds of books detailing every facet of fascinating potion imaginable, the likes of which made her head spin with ambition, determination and excitement. At last, she had found something to test her knowledge.

And, most unfortunately, her patience as well…

"Not like that, like this! Foolish girl. Do you mean to ruin the whole batch?" Snape snatched the ladle out of Hermione's hand and proceeded to stir the plum-colored potion in what was apparently the appropriate manner (which honestly did not look very different in Hermione's opinion). Though a second later proved that she was indeed mistaken, and she felt her ears burn as Snape went on to explain.

"The angle of the wrist is very important, Miss Granger, I know I've told you before. See how I turn it out rather than in?"

Hermione nodded, intrigued despite her irritation at being caught doing something wrong.

"I can't hear your head rattling, girl, speak up."

She jumped. "Oh, yes. Of course. I see."

Snape gave her an irritable look and shoved the ladle back into her hand. "Good. I have other matters to attend to, so I'll trust you to finish up." He sneered. "Assuming youcan, of course."

Hermione glowered as he left the room, resisting the strong urge to pick up the bowl of frog eyes next to her and hurl it as hard as she could at the back of his head.

A moment later however, she found herself smiling, and she turned back to stirring her potion with renewed zeal (though she paid particular attention to how her wrist was angled).

If that's any indication, she thought proudly, things are definitely on the right track. Well done, Hermione.

Or so she thought, anyway.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 1 of 35

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