Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 2 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

The heavy boxes in Hermione's arms wobbled, teetering dangerously as she worked her way down the stepladder. Upon reaching the bottom, she looked nervously up at the top box to make sure that none of its contents were threatening to fall out. Then, she slowly began her backwards walk towards Professor Snape's desk.

"To the right, Miss Granger. More. No, now that's too far. Back up. Are you even listening to me? I said, to the right."

Had Hermione not been so intent on avoiding what was certain to be a very nasty tumble, she might have fired back with a customary retort. However, the concentration required for her task was too great, and she therefore forced herself to rely on the professor's derisive, though marginally helpful, directions.

He did, however, fail to tell her when to stop.

Hermione grunted as her back made hard contact with the edge of Snape's desk and she heard what she could have sworn was an amused chuckle behind her. She whipped her head around, her eyes blazing. But the professor seemed as intent as ever on his work, his face blank as stone.

Eyes narrowed in suspicion, Hermione refrained from comment and instead dumped the heavy boxes onto Snape's desk with such violence that his inkbottle upset itself all over his papers. The bottle emptied its contents with three small glugs before rolling off the side of the desk and shattering into a shower of tiny pieces on the floor. Hermione gasped and looked fearfully over at Snape, expecting a thunderous reaction. To her immense surprise, he did not appear to have noticed anything at all.

Hermione watched with wide, unblinking eyes as Snape continued grading, seemingly uninterested in the pool of ink that was now percolating through the entire top half of his parchments.

"Professor?" she said quietly, her irritation with him suddenly forgotten.

He shushed her and continued writing.

Hermione glanced back and forth between Snape's face and the ruined papers. The ink was now starting to soak through one of his sleeves, but he didn't so much as bat an eyelash. Even when it began to bleed into the path of his next sentence, Snape continued to write on through it as if nothing were there.

"Professor?" Hermione said again.

He did not answer.

"Professor Snape." She reached out to shake his shoulder, and yet could not quite will herself to touch him. "Professor!" she said loudly, her hand still hovering. "Are you listening? Professor, can't you see the ink? Professor! Professor! Are you listening? Professor! Pro–"

Hermione woke with the bright, morning sun shining directly in her eyes. She groaned, rolling over and burying her head beneath her pillow.

It was Saturday.

Severus groaned inwardly as he saw the old woman approach, her back ramrod straight and a customary pucker in her thin lips.

"Severus," she greeted him tersely, "I thought I might find you wandering around down here."

"I was not wandering, Minerva. I hardly ever wander."

Minerva cocked a pencil-thin eyebrow. "Well, then, by all means, what were you doing?"

Wandering, Severus thought to himself with a mental grimace, though he obviously refrained from articulating it. "Was there something in particular you wished to discuss, Professor?" he countered coldly.

"Yes, I wanted to address the particular circumstances of one of my students whom you have recently had the privilege of–"

"Miss Granger, I presume?" he interrupted.

The corner of Minerva's mouth twitched. "Yes. Miss Granger, indeed."

"And what is it, exactly, that you wished to address about Miss Granger's circumstances?"

"I merely wanted to bring to your attention that, as you know, the Holidays are upon us, and I'm certain that you are aware of how the workload tends to accumulate in such times."

Severus nodded. "Naturally."

"And seeing as some of the students, Miss Granger in particular, are, in my opinion, already biting off a bit more than they can chew, I thought you might consider–"

"Easing up on your poor protégé? Not on your life."

The elderly witch made no response, but Severus could very nearly feel the ice frosting from her glare.

"If Miss Granger wishes to earn her Masters in Potions," he continued, "then she must be prepared to put forth the work. I am hardly just going to hand her an Academy recommendation without–"

"Severus," Minerva snapped, her knobby fingers flexing involuntarily — as though she were itching to place them around his neck. "I am not implying that you should just hand her anything. For Merlin's sake, I am merely asking you to be considerate of, if not her mental health, then her physical one." She gave her head a frustrated shake. "There are simply not enough hours in the day, I tell you, and she is still only a child–"

"Who has all the appearances of being perfectly healthy. I sincerely implore you, Minerva, with all due respect, not to attempt to dictate to me again how I should go about teaching my students. No matter how incompetent you think they may be of keeping up with their work."

"In–Incompetent?" Minerva stammered in furious disbelief. "Surely you don't think that Miss Gr—"

"I hardly ever approach you and make suggestions about what assignments you should or should not give, or what changes you should make to your weekly lesson plan. Is it so unfathomable to expect the same courtesy in return?" Severus quirked an eyebrow. "No. I will not lighten up on her, nor any of my students. Life is hard, as you and I know only too well, and the sooner they all come to terms with that the better off they will be."

McGonagall stared at the man in front of her and failed to assemble an appropriate reply. He was somewhat correct in that children who learn early on to find their independence, and to learn the benefits of relying upon themselves, were usually more likely to succeed later in life. However, she did not agree that this meant torturing them all into an early grave.

But she knew that there was nothing she could say to convince him otherwise. In fact, she had probably only succeeded in making things worse for poor Hermione Granger by bringing to Snape's attention the fact that he legally could torture her into an early grave.

"Is that all you wished to address, Professor?" Severus said abruptly. "As much as I value our fascinating little chats about the erroneous nonsensical details of the day-to-day lives of our students, I do have other places to be."

Minerva shook her head again and turned to go. "Why do I bother?" she muttered. Yet as she walked away, she found herself loath to leave Severus with such a flawless victory. "Happy wanderings, Severus," she said loudly over her shoulder and nearly smiled as she heard him grumble darkly at her retreating back.

Ginny's jaw cracked as she yawned on her way down the spiral staircase for a glass of water. She paused as she heard the familiar sound of a furiously scratching quill and cocked her head curiously. Having a hard time believing that anyone would be up at four in the morning (and much less writing avidly), Ginny skipped the last few steps and stumbled into the dimly lit common room to be met with a dishearteningly familiar sight:

Hermione sat in a red, plush armchair, all but buried beneath a mountain of loose parchment. She had her nose nestled between the dusty pages of an enormous textbook, and, as usual, she seemed to be taking notes.

Holding her finger in place on the page, Hermione turned to scribble something down on the roll of parchment she had balanced precariously on the arm of the chair beside her.

Ginny cleared her throat and Hermione jumped in surprise, puncturing a hole through the paper with her quill.

"Hermione, what are you doing?" Ginny demanded sharply.

Hermione sighed and crumpled up the parchment she had just ruined, then pulled out a fresh one and recommenced her mysterious task. "Homework," she said simply.

"The last Friday before the Holidays?" Ginny put her hands on her hips and gave her fellow Gryffindor a confounded look. "Hermione Granger, you couldn't possibly have left something to the last minute now, could you? Even Ron has finished all of his work for the week… Which, now that I think on it, doesn't really make sense because he usually copies off–"

"Me. Yes, he did do that. But this isn't exactly homework homework – I mean it is homework – but – well, it's for Professor Snape, and those extra lessons I've been telling you about. For some reason he has really started to pile it on this week. Something about 'life is hard', I don't know. He's probably just got himself all twisted and cranky because the holidays are almost here and he won't be able to boss me around for a few weeks."

Ginny made a clear noise of disgust. "And what are you going to do, just take that from him?" She walked over and attempted to wrest the Potions book from Hermione's hands (who held on with surprising strength for someone so tired). Seeing that she was fighting a losing battle, Ginny eventually gave up and plopped down on the ground next to Hermione's chair instead, heaving a tired sigh. "Alright then, uh… what is he making you do?" she finally asked, wishing she could somehow Apparate back into bed.

Hermione finished a sentence with an angry scribble. "It's quite ridiculous!" she said, gesticulating a bit too emphatically and accidentally sending her quill flying across the room. (She made no immediate move to retrieve it). "He says that I'm required to 'research' my projects, even when I already have, of course, exhaustively. Even when I've told him as much. But he won't hear of it. And all this is—All he wants me to do is just… rewrite the text into different words. Like I'm twelve or something, and can't understand the material correctly. I have half a mind to magic up an exact copy of the book, march it to Professor Snape's office, and tell him to shove it!"

Ginny grinned and clapped her hands. "That's the spirit!"

Hermione's demeanor changed almost immediately. "Only," she sighed, "I don't want him to think I'm lazy." Then she snatched up her wand and accioed her quill back into her hand, once again burying her nose into the pages of her book.

Ginny shook her head. "Who are you trying to impress, Hermione? What are you trying to prove? Everyone in the whole ruddy knows you're the smartest witch that's ever been admitted here. Even Snape. He just likes being a wanker too much to admit it."

Hermione hid her blush behind a well-timed yawn. "I appreciate that, Ginny, honestly. All I can say is that... well, I'm really not doing this for anyone but myself. I know it's hard for any Gryffindor who has suffered through a class with Professor Snape to imagine, but Potions is actually a very interesting subject. I'm genuinely starting to enjoy it. It's exciting and sometimes extremely dangerous. Besides, if I ever want to go into any sort of work with the Ministry — ideally I'd like to be able to jump-start a new branch related to S.P.E.W., then, of course, move on to other things once that's gained momentum, because who can really know what — er — Anyway, this class with Snape will probably be my best ticket in. The Ministry is surprisingly lacking in competent Potions Ma—"

"Alright, alright, fine then, do what you want," Ginny said abruptly, using the armchair to pull herself up. "I'm going back to bed."

Hermione nodded and sighed, too exhausted to care about being interrupted. She still had twenty more pages to go before morning.

Severus' mouth twitched as an enormous stack of parchments was suddenly dumped directly on top of the open book he had been reading. He looked up to see Hermione Granger smirking back at him, albeit with markedly visible circles under her eyes.

"What, may I ask, is this?" he sneered, gingerly sifting through the topmost documents.

"Research, sir," she replied promptly, "for the project you authorized last Tuesday. You said I could start it today."

Severus narrowed his eyes at the mound of completed work in front of him, unbelievably irritated that she had somehow managed to accomplish all of it in less than two days. He doubted that even he himself at that age would have had such singleminded determination.

As for that damned project of hers, he vaguely remembered consenting to her query of beginning it on Friday, but he hadn't thought she would actually be prepared for it in any acceptable capacity. There were things he still wanted her to do. The St. Mungo's requests, for instance, had been steadily piling up over the past two weeks and he had his own personal projects to worry about.

Severus cursed inwardly as he realized yet another blunder he had so uncharacteristically committed. He had been so preoccupied with filling out his Ministry requests, and assigning extra homework before the holidays, and giving Granger what he was so deliriously certain was more work than even the infamous Gryffindor book mouse could manage, that he had neglected to order her necessary supplies. Ones that he had secretly been exhausting himself over the last few days, doing research of his own.

So, feeling ever more irresponsible by the second, Severus carefully straightened the parchments in front of him and handed them back to the expectant girl. "My apologies, Miss Granger," he began icily. "I seemed to have underestimated your… enthusiasm for your studies. I had not expected you to complete your tasks with such recklesss peed."

Granger smiled tiredly, apparently unaffected by the barbed compliment. "That's alright, Professor," she said. "Even I had my doubts at times. But it's all done now." She moved the stack of parchments to the crook of her arm. "If you're busy at the moment, I can begin to prepare the ingredients. I doubt I need supervision for things like arranging cups and measuring powder."

Severus resisted the urge to fidget uncomfortably. He was the Professor for Merlin's sake! She should be squirming under his gaze, not him under hers. She should feel lucky that he even let her research the project in the first place, much less consent to its eventual creation.

With that thought in mind, Severus commenced the appearance of reading his book. "You could indeed begin preparations," he said distractedly. "Though that might prove marginally difficult when the ingredients have not yet arrived."

Severus withheld a wince as he heard the sound of hundreds of parchments fluttering to the floor.

"They what?" she squeaked. "You — you said you had them already! You said I could start today! I haven't slept in a week! How could you make me kill myself like that whenyou didn't even—"

Severus snapped his book shut with such vigor that Granger actually jumped in surprise.

"Do not even begin to think you can patronize me, you stupid girl," he thundered, standing to give himself the full advantage of his rather intimidating height. "You are here only under my charitable whim and I assure you that you can leave it just as quickly as you entered. That's fifty points from Gryffindor for mouthing off to a professor, and if I hear one more complaint from you it will be one hundred and fifty." He took a calming breath. "Now," he said, sliding back into his chair and smoothing his anger down just as a bird would smooth its ruffled feathers, "you have two options. You can either pull yourself together, get a proper hold on that nasty temper of yours, and stay for the remainder of your lesson… or you can pack your bags and return when the Holidays are over. Hopefully with a much needed improvement to your countenance."

Severus was very nearly doing a victory jig in his head as Granger gaped at him, mouthing speechlessly and looking every bit like a fish on dry land.

"Well," he said after a short time when she still had not procured an answer. "You let me know when you've figured it out." And with that, he flipped open his book again and lost himself with in the text, knowing full well that the girl probably had black murder written as plainly as Marietta's pimples across her face.

And yet, he did not care in the slightest.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 2 of 35

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