Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 23 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

A spell whizzed inches from Severus's nose and momentarily bathed his face in heat. There should have been screams all around, he found himself thinking. After all, that was normally what accompanied a battle. Yet, aside from the occasional explosion or passing curse, the air seemed strangely quiet.

Severus was currently crouched behind a large, marble headstone, everything around him shrouded by a thick blanket of mist. The grass was dewy and wet beneath his hands. His empty hands. Where was his wand?

Severus searched the ground frantically, felt every pocket of his robes, checked his sleeves, checked his trousers, even his socks. The slim ebony rod was nowhere to be found.

Another curse hit the ground near Severus's foot and exploded in a shower of dirt and small rocks.

He scrunched himself even tighter against the back of the headstone, knowing he was done for. He had lost his only weapon and his enemy was closing in. Could he make a run for it?

Severus took a quick, wary survey of his surroundings. He was in a graveyard – that much was apparent. But beyond this initial realization, he could tell very little, as the mist was far too thick. He could be right at the edge of the cemetery or smack in the middle, he hadn't the faintest idea. Even if he did decide to flee, there was a very distinct possibility that he might run toward his attacker and never know the difference until it was too late.

Severus sat up sharply. What was that?

Something, a shadow, moved behind the fuzzy outline of a headstone thirty feet away.

Again! It moved quickly behind the next one – creeping closer.

Severus bit back a yell as a burning curse ripped over the curved stone he was leaning against and found his exposed left shoulder. Pain blossomed through his body, tears sprang to his eyes, but he did not take his gaze away from the thing that approached. Because even though this thing was not his attacker (the spells were not coming from its direction), that did not necessarily mean it was friendly.

The shadow moved again. This time Severus gathered a brief impression of its outline. A human – a girl. His lungs emptied when he realized that he recognized that silhouette. Those little hands, that mess of hair, that distinct way of moving that only Hermione Granger seemed capable of possessing.

"What the hell are you doing here!" he hissed angrily as Granger took one last dive and rolled sweaty and panting up against him behind the headstone.

"Helping you, idiot." Granger smiled at him weakly.

There came a loud, high-pitched whistling, and then something cratered the earth just inches from Granger's elbow.

"Watch it!" Severus leaned over her body to snatch up her arm, rolling her tight against him so as to protect them both behind the small shelter.

She struggled to free herself. "No," she mumbled. "No, no. Listen, I know how to save you!" She pulled back and looked up into Severus's face, still smiling. "I know how to save you! Here."

Severus watched, dumbfounded, as Granger unbuttoned her jacket, reached into the inside breast pocket and drew out a small, gold, glowing… something.

She held it out to him. "Take it," she said.

"You'll die," Severus heard himself reply, and a part of him wondered wildly how he knew that.

"Yes." She nodded, her smile faltering, but not entirely disappearing. "Take it."


"Go on – take it."

Another explosion nearby showered them with dirt and pebbles.

"No," he said again, wide-eyed. "You'll die."

"Yes. For you it's worth it. Take it."


Severus faltered, and in that moment, Granger picked up his hand and pressed the glowing something into his palm. She closed his fingers around it. "You need this more than I do," she said softly.

Then Granger pulled back, still smiling at him, still holding his hand. There came a loud scream, an enormous flash of green light, and quite suddenly the girl was dead. She lay on the ground, vacant eyes staring up into his, her body cold and stiff against his side.

A shadow fell over them, and Severus heard someone speak.

"Found you," it growled.

The tip of a wand pressed painfully into the back of Severus's neck. He opened his mouth to say something (what he wasn't sure), but before he could utter a word, the voice hissed, "Avada Kedavra," and then it was over.

Severus woke with a start, the image of Granger's lifeless corpse still swimming before his eyes.

It was dark and quiet all around, except for a slight breeze that turned the sweat on the back of his neck ice cold.

Severus blinked the sleep out of his eyes, squinting against the chilly air. The moment his vision cleared he gave a yelp of surprise, leaping backwards and catching his foot on his other foot which sent him crashing spectacularly to the ground.

He had been standing on the very edge of the Astronomy tower balcony, leaning out over an enormous expanse of open air. His heart thudded so hard against his chest, Severus thought it a wonder he didn't die right there on the spot. But a few seconds passed without further incident, and his pulse at last began to slow.

Severus shook his head dazedly. This was getting dangerously out of control. Sleepwalking around his own bedchambers was one thing, but roaming unconscious around the school… Severus shuddered (and not from the cold). What had he been doing up here? Where else had he gone tonight? What else had he done?

All questions he couldn't answer.

Gritting his teeth, Severus picked himself up, dusted off his robes, and left the balcony in a few long, quick strides. The castle felt tomb-like as he descended the spiral stairs, adding to his unease when he realized that he was without his wand. Weaponless and helpless – just as he had been in his dream. Severus's frown deepened. His dream. That had been… unpleasant, to say the least.

When Severus had first announced his intentions to meet Frend's mysterious murderer the other night in Dumbledore's office, he had not left the meeting feeling overly shaken (despite Filius and Minerva's valiant attempts at convincing him otherwise). But there had been something about tonight's dream that made him realize what everyone else had only told him in vain. For the first time, as Severus made his way out the door at the bottom of the stairs and through the seventh floor corridor, he truly began to realize the repercussions of his decision.

Of course he had known it was going to be dangerous – he was, after all, throwing himself head-first into a potential death trap – yet, initially, he had simply looked at it as he always did: as a man with nothing to lose.

But, now, with Granger's smiling face haunting his dreams, he began to realize that perhaps he did have something to lose – a very puzzling and frustrating something, though one which was, at the same time, undeniably enrapturing. One he hadn't yet had the chance to fully explore.

Severus would be meeting this supposed traitor in a little over a week. The most he had ever done with Granger was argue and snog—and only occasionally at that. For all he knew, he could be dead in ten days. Honestly, he wanted to… explore… a little more before he kicked it (if he kicked it). Because, somehow, since receiving this mysterious, dangerous summons, Severus's former guilt and shame – that dreadful sense of utter uselessness – had almost entirely disappeared. He had a purpose again. He felt alive again, he was worth something, risking his life for a cause, repaying old debts. And he damn well deserved something in return.

Why did he have to be so sodding proper! Why did he have to make that hands-off rule? Why did he have to keep enforcing it? He'd look like an idiot if he threw it all out the window now. Stupid, he thought. Bloody, fucking stupid.

By the time Severus arrived in his quarters, he had fully accepted the fact that no more sleep was to be had that night. Instead, he seethed. He graded papers, and he seethed. But he also worried.

For, as cold as Severus was. As cruel, distant and dark-spirited as Severus was – even he did not rejoice in the face of his own possible demise.

Only ten more days to go…

Professor Flitwick's class was noisier than usual today, as everyone had been given half the period free to practice their latest spell.

This lesson was not especially tricky, but, as Flitwick pointed out, making objects transparent was not the same as casting the more familiar disillusionment charm.

"You have to consider the object as a whole," he announced to the class from atop a tall stack of books. "You cannot just think: I want to turn this pocket watch invisible. It's not as simple as that. You have to imagine everything that makes up the pocket watch – all its gears and gizmos, the chain, the casing, the ticking hands, the little knobby thing on the end – it all has to be held in your mind as you cast the spell, or else the spell won't work."

Flitwick demonstrated the wand movement again for everyone to see. The class copied his intricate series of swishes with varied expressions of concern and concentration.

"The goal of today's lesson," Flitwick continued, "is to turn as much of your object invisible as possible. Don't be discouraged if at first you are only able to disappear a few missing parts here and there – just keep practicing, and you will find that you can encompass a little bit more of the object each time you try. Now, off you go!"

It was no surprise that Hermione's pocket watch fully disappeared from sight twenty minutes into the lesson, earning her ten points for Gryffindor and a few disgruntled, jealous stares from her classmates. Normally, Harry and Ron might have been frustrated with their own lack of progress (each of them had only managed to make a few of the numbers on the clock faces fade), but today their attention happened to be focused on something else entirely.

"Honestly, I think Hogwarts is as good a place as any to meet," Ron was saying, twirling his wand absent-mindedly and causing the hands of his watch to begin spinning rapidly in every direction.

"Shh," Hermione warned softly.

"Whad'you think, Harry?" Ron continued, pointedly ignoring Hermione.

Harry poked his watch irritably and frowned when it proceeded to emit a small puff of yellow smoke. "I'm not sure," he said. "McGonagall seemed pretty angry when Dumbledore suggested the Order should meet here. And I'm sure that—" Harry glanced briefly towards the front of the class, his voice lowering, "—that Flitwick agrees with her."

"But wouldn't you feel so awful," interjected Hermione, "if someone was caught because of us. You heard what Professor McGonagall said – You-Know-Who is probably watching the castle even now. I hate to say it, Harry, but maybe Professor Flitwick is right. Maybe Dumbledore could just tell you what—"

"Are you mad!" snapped Harry at the very same time that Ron sniped, "Don't be stupid!"

Hermione looked nervously around, but no one within their vicinity seemed to have noticed. "I'm not mad!" she whispered back stubbornly. "I just think it's silly to put everyone else in danger when there isn't a need. Being part of the Order is all well and good, but if that means that we have to—"

"It's not just about being in the Order," Harry hissed, cutting her off. "It's about trust. Adults never seem to have much faith in us, and if they expect us to just show up one day and defeat Voldemort for them, then that needs to change."

"Yeah," Ron agreed.

Hermione shook her head, but did not say anything more. She knew it didn't have anything to do with trust – the way the teachers treated them. They were just worried. Surely on some level they all realized that one day they would have to step back and let Harry "fulfill his destiny" by battling Voldemort (on his own or otherwise). But until that time came, Hermione was convinced that all they really wanted to do was keep Harry safe. If that meant keeping him in ignorance as well, then so be it.

Of course, Dumbledore seemed to have had a change of heart in that particular area these days. It appeared as though keeping Harry ignorant was no longer the priority. Hermione truly believed that if she, Harry and Ron, somehow did not end up going to the Order meeting, Dumbledore would make damn sure that Harry, at least, knew every word that was said.

Hermione was not sure where Snape stood on all of this – though she could hardly imagine that the thought of Harry joining the Order made him very pleased. It certainly didn't please her.

Well, alright, on some level she did of course wish to be inducted and "in the thick of it all" instead of wringing her hands uselessly on the sidelines – but, once again, Hermione shied away from the thought of battle and conflict, two things which joining the Order would certainly entail.

Yet she so dearly wanted to help! To do her part! And if she had to fight, then she had to fight, and she would do so to the best of her ability…

Bother it all, she thought. I need to stop thinking about this or I'll go crazy.

Besides, her first potions lesson – sans Professor! – was scheduled to begin today. Despite herself, despite all the time and resources she had spent preparing for it, she was very anxious. After all, how much did she really know about bottled memories? In theory she knew the basics of retrieving and preserving them, but, farther than that, she really didn't know all that much.

Could Snape hear her thoughts in the memories? Could he use Legillimency? Hermione had never even seen a pensive before, much less used it herself, so she couldn't be sure. The only thing she did know was that she did not, in any way shape or form, like the idea of Snape poking freely around in her brain.

Hermione shook her head as the bell rang for end of class and she packed up her book bag to go.

Well, she would just have to take her own advice and let things happen as they happened. Both Snape and Dumbledore seemed to approve of the idea, so it must have some merit at least. And honestly, she had embarrassed herself so many times in front of that man, she wondered whether there was even a shred of dignity left to be protecting anyway.

Hermione's first lesson went by without a hitch – at least, as far as she could tell. At the end of two hours, she turned the fire beneath her cauldron at a low simmer, packed her materials away in a convenient cupboard the Room of Requirement had provided for her, and left.

Thankfully, the owlry was deserted when she arrived, so Hermione had her privacy while she prepared her notes and transferred the small wisp of memory into a glass container.

Dreamless Sleep: Stage One, she wrote on the front of the envelope in which she had managed to cram her extensive research and catalogue of ingredients. Under that she added, Aprox. Research Time: 5 and 1/2 hours, Aprox. Lab Time: 3 hours.

Then she selected an owl and sent it on its way.

As she watched the bird dive out of sight, Hermione couldn't help but wonder if this was all a big mistake.

Session #1 Re: Dreamless Sleep

As always, Hermione felt an excited little jump in her stomach when she saw the familiar spiky writing. She had received Snape's reply later that same night after dinner and hurried back to her dorm in order to read it. The moment her door closed, she wasted no time in detaching Snape's small envelope from her bottled memory and ripping it open.

Granger, the note began.

Not altogether hopeless for your first attempt.

Hermione gave a little shrug and a half-smile. Alright, it wasn't an insult in any case.

You seem to have obtained an acceptable grasp on the basics of this potion. I doubt there has ever been a text so religiously followed.

At this point, I would like to see you begin to take initiative, and experiment with your assignments. If you think improvements can be made to the potion in question, then, by all means, put your theory to use. Anyone can follow directions; what I want you to do is to use those directions more like guidelines. Use them as a foundation to build from in order to create something new and innovative of your own – a feat of which, as we both know, you are fully capable.

That being said, your overall execution of today's lesson left somewhat to be desired.

Hermione's face fell slightly. Here it comes, she thought, bracing herself. It's not going to be pretty.

It wasn't.

But, surprisingly, Hermione did not find his criticisms overly discouraging (crude and insulting though they were). She reached the end of Snape's prickly, mostly unflattering comments, confident that he was done surprising her, then the last few paragraphs of Snape's reply caught Hermione entirely off-guard:

Finally, as hot and uncomfortable as working closely with an open flame may be, Miss Granger, unbuttoning even the topmost button of one's shirt is not an acceptable solution to this problem. Though admittedly fetching and provocative in a primitive sort of way, it is however inappropriate and unprofessional, and therefore worthy of admonishment.

Be very careful, Miss Granger. There is nothing you can do whilst under my scrutiny that will escape due notation.

As you have requested, so have you been granted.

I expect nothing less than vast improvements in your work manner to manifest by Friday. Until then, try not to blow yourself up.



Severus tried not to think about Granger. He tried not to think about her all through breakfast, as she sat there across the room, nibbling on her porridge, sipping her pumpkin juice, laughing uproariously at something the Weasley girl said. He tried not to think about her during his morning class with Hufflepuff sixth years, even as they botched an experiment she could have done at age eleven with her eyes closed. And he tried not to think about her when she strolled into his dungeon that very afternoon amongst her gaggle of friends, glancing briefly at him from beneath her lashes with a look he could not entirely interpret.

Needless to say, Severus tried in vain.

He couldn't help wondering what she had thought of his notes, and how she would respond. Most particularly, he wondered about his final comment. Upon reflection, Severus realized how nauseatingly flirtatious that remark might have come across. It embarrassed him to no end – despite the fact that he continued to tell himself that what was done was done, and there was little he could do about it now.

Severus began the lesson as he usually did, with a short lecture on the complexity involved, and how likely he thought it that anyone would be able to produce something even mildly useful. Then he sent them to their tasks with a gratuitous wave of his hand.

Granger looked at him far more often than was necessary throughout the first hour; he knew this, because he looked at her far more often than was necessary throughout the first hour. They never spoke a word to each other. In fact, hardly a glance of anything more than mild interest was exchanged between them. But Severus knew there was something different about her today. What that something was, he hadn't the faintest idea… though it would not be long before he found out.

It was hot in the dungeons. With more than two-dozen flames going at once, how could the air be anything less than stifling? Severus watched as Granger fanned herself lightly with her hand, pulling up her mass of hair into a high bun so as to free the back of her neck. He felt a small shock of excitement within him when he saw that open expanse of skin, remembering how it had felt to lay his lips upon it. How wonderful it would feel to lay his lips upon it now. So warm and soft, he wanted to kiss her, he wanted her to feel the heat of his mouth and his tongue and… Then, suddenly, as though sensing his thoughts, Granger looked up.

Severus held her gaze boldly, quirking an eyebrow at her as though to say, "Yes? May I help you?"

Granger smiled back mischievously (an expression that Severus found he rather liked). What was she thinking? What did she intend to do? He had challenged her, and with her fellow students currently bent over their cauldrons, Severus could not help but anticipate the unexpected.

He was not disappointed.

Severus watched with mounting surprise and disbelief as Granger reached up, trailing her hand along the line of her chest, between her breasts, up to the base of her throat, and carefully, pointedly, unbuttoned the top button of her oxford.

Severus felt his mouth fall open – just a little bit.

Granger raised her eyebrows at him, daring him to say something about it, to reprimand her as he had boasted so sternly that he would in his letter. When he did not immediately do so (in fact, he did not immediately do anything except sit there like a fool and stare disbelievingly at her), Granger reached up and unbuttoned yet another button.

His trousers felt tight, his adrenaline surged. Wicked girl...

Severus watched as she slipped her hand inside her shirt, inside her shirt – no more than a few inches - and pushed apart the new opening at her throat, pushed the flimsy fabric slowly wider until the opening was just wide enough that he could see the very, very edge of her… he swallowed hard… lacy red bra.

Uncomfortable at last, being so involuntarily and thoroughly turned on while at the front of a classroom full of students, Severus cleared his throat and looked away, shuffling his papers awkwardly, shifting the tightness in his trousers, and pointedly ignoring what he was sure had become a very smug look on Granger's face.

Yes, he thought. Yes, alright, brava, Granger, you won that one. But if that's the way you're going to play it… this means war.

She knew she had been taking a risk, but the reward was all the more delightful because of it.

To see his face heat up, his jaw slacken, his eyes cloud over — divine. As Hermione gathered her things when the bell rang, making her way out of the dungeon alongside Harry and Ron, she glanced over her shoulder and managed to catch Snape's eyes. She nearly laughed aloud at his outright challenge. The look on his face said quite plainly that what she had just done would not be without consequence. She had better be on the lookout, he seemed to be saying, because Severus Snape was not a man to be out-matched.

Hermione certainly hoped not, for his sake.

She tried often not to think about Snape's impending meeting with Frend's murderer, but it was very difficult to forget. The whole thing could be a trap, probably was a trap, and it pained Hermione to think of what she would do were Snape to be captured, or, Heaven forbid… killed. Yes, she certainly hoped that Severus Snape was not a man to be out-matched.

Hermione suppressed the urge to reach into her pocket and close her hand around the Phoenix Potion, accustomed now to its comforting warmth. She knew exactly what she wished to do with it, but she needed to wait for the right opportunity. Snape was never one to accept a gift blindly, nor without a great deal of coaxing, so Hermione had to play her hand carefully if she wanted him to ever consider using the potion for himself.

And she would have to do so very soon, because it wasn't long before Snape's meeting. Just nine more days. Only nine more days, and then...

Well, best not to think about it.

Snape's reply to Hermione's saucy victory in the classroom was swift, and the implication that somewhat of a battle had been sparked between the two of them became even more apparent.


I had thought you beyond such blatant spectacles of immaturity, but I seem to have been uncharacteristically mistaken.

An essay, then, for your brash misconduct. Two rolls of parchment in which you explore, define, and discuss "The Niceties of Being Proper" by Pomona Grace, to be handed in to me on Thursday. If you are unable to find a copy of this particular gem in the school library, I am certain that Madam Pince will be more than happy to lend you hers. Perhaps five hundred pages on the do's and don't's of a woman's conduct in the workplace will teach you to pause before embarrassing yourself again in such a manner.

There is cheeky, and then there is dangerously cheeky, Miss Granger. I suggest that you learn the difference.

Shocked, appalled,


Dear Professor Snape,

I have contacted Madam Pince about the assigned book, and was regretfully informed that it is no longer in print, due to some sort of Witch's Rights movement in the 1940's in which every existing copy was summarily burned. Apparently the do's and don't's expressed by Pomona Grace were considered somewhat demeaning to the strong-minded women of that time. And while I do applaud their efforts, I find myself rather lost as to how to complete my essay without the specified material.

Perhaps you should make a note to research assignments before handing them out, Professor, and therefore avoid such embarrassing impediments in the future.

Just a friendly suggestion.

Your most devoted student,

Hermione Granger

P.S. Madam Pince was very distraught when presenting me with this information, and I have reason to believe that her copy of the book may have been forcibly taken from her in recent years. She was very close-lipped about it. Your thoughts?


I find it rather ironic that you would anoint yourself "my most devoted student" while at the same time sending me a letter in which you attempt to excuse yourself from your inability to complete the assigned task. Where is that famed Gryffindor resourcefulness Minerva is always boasting about so disgustingly? If you were hoping to impress me with your findings, Miss Granger, I will not hesitate to inform you that you have failed miserably.

Therefore, since it appears that you are not up to this particular task, I am forced to assign you a new one.

Coincidentally, there is something I have been meaning to mention for some time now that is somewhat related to the subject at hand: Surely, I need not remind you that I have saved your ungrateful life a multitude of times, and have yet to receive any sort of official reciprocation. If you will remember, I stayed true to our bargain and honored that ridiculous sentiment of gift-giving, so it seems only fair that you should do the same.

Another essay, Miss Granger. Two and a quarter rolls parchment. A detailed analysis of the conceptual relationship between "devoted" and "student" - to be handed in on Monday.

Less appalled, but still passably shocked,

Severus Snape

P.S. To no one's surprise, but everyone's displeasure, Madam Pince had developed a fixation with her smuggled copy of "The Niceties of Being Proper," and took to quoting it often in the staff lounge. If I am not mistaken, one or more of my fellow professors grew weary of this behavior, deciding amongst themselves to cut it off at its source. Madam Pince has never fully recovered, I think, from finding her beloved book in the library return-tray in irreparable ruins. No culprit has ever been revealed, though I believe with passing conviction that Minerva might have had something to do with it. She did seem rather smug throughout the whole affair.

Dear Professor Snape,

While I have no trouble admitting to the fact that you have indeed saved my life who-knows-how-many times, I have, in fact, done the same for you.

Yet, there is something to be said for inane Wizarding customs. I would feel loath to disregard such a long-standing tradition, so I suppose some manner of appropriate recompense is owed. A present then, Professor – two, even, if I'm feeling particularly generous. The only condition is that you will have no say in the manifestation of said presents. This is non-negotiable, I'm afraid.

I also feel obligated to request a gift from you as well. Lord knows I've earned it.

Something thoughtful would be nice.

Or something pretty.

Preferably both.

Still your most devoted student,

Hermione G.


It continues to amaze me just how acutely bothersome you are capable of being – even in written form.

Very well.

I haven't the faintest idea when you shall receive your gift. Preferably soon. For, as much as I do enjoy these elusive little intrigues, I would hate to continue wasting parchment in such a witless, frivolous manner.


P.S. My notes for your second attempt at Potions making are attached. I must say, prior to these lessons, I have never experienced the Pensieve in such a way, and have since concluded that it is a very strange way to do things.

Dear Professor Snape,

Thank you for your constructive comments pertaining to my latest assignment. They were very... thorough. I will be sure to incorporate as many of your suggestions as possible in my next session.

As for our gift exchange, I am almost certain that it will not surprise you to learn that I already have a few specific things in mind. Furthermore, I am almost just as certain that it will not surprise you to find that at least one of these things might draw you the tiniest bit out of your comfort zone.

In fact, it was you yourself who gave me the idea, Professor. When we discussed a certain issue at the end of my detention last week, you expressed the desire to do something that you dared not do within the walls of Hogwarts. I intend to address this issue.

Make of that what you will.

Looking forward to double Potions tomorrow,


Well, Severus didn't have the first idea what to make of that. Not in the slightest. And he awaited the ten-thirty class bell that next morning with no small amount of anticipation.

But, nothing extraordinary happened when double Potions began. Granger merely flicked a glance his direction, gave him a coy smile, and then refused to meet his gaze the rest of the period. In fact, the entire lesson went by without any notable event taking place whatsoever.

Severus began to wonder if he had misread Granger's letter. Surely he hadn't. Severus had never been in any habit of misreading things, let alone something as… interesting as Granger's amusing attempts at flirting via owl mail.

All things considered, perhaps it was best to just take her lead and ignore each other. That wouldn't be difficult. Surely not.

Severus soon found that refraining from looking too often in Granger's direction was a great deal more difficult than he expected. Thankfully, every time he glanced up from the papers he was supposed to be grading, the girl's attention was focused elsewhere, and he was able to pass it off as simply checking on the progress of his many students.

Why hadn't she done anything yet? Class was almost over. Had she forgotten?

Severus felt sick and irritated with himself for caring so much, but there was no denying the wave of disappointment he felt as she continued passively on with her assignment, sparing no attention for anything but the third stage of the Luminetus potion, which she, unlike her peers, had mostly completed by now. Severus had begun to grow accustomed to Granger surprising him, and though the fact that she was not currently surprising him was in itself a surprise, Severus did not find that surprise particularly satisfying.

The bell rang. Anyone who had anything left in their cauldron that mildly resembled the appropriate mixture and was capable of being bottled, turned in their samples at Severus's desk. Granger set her (perfect as always, damn her) potion down in front of him without looking up and then left the room sandwiched between the Brainless Duo, giggling at something Weasley said as she settled her book bag more comfortably on her shoulder.

Severus seethed as he watched the door close behind the swarm of students, leaving him alone in the dank, empty classroom. He was angry. Granger had toyed with him, and he had played right into her hands like a fool.

Too agitated to remain sitting, Severus stood swiftly and paced the room, returning to their shelves ingredients that had been carelessly left out, and picking up a book that a student seemed to have left behind.

Just when Severus flipped open the cover and saw Hermione Granger printed neatly on the inside page, the classroom door flew open and Severus turned around just in time to see Granger herself approaching – quite fast.

"Forgot my book," she said a little breathlessly, smiling, her cheeks flushed.

Severus opened his mouth, intending to say something snide or derogatory, when Granger snatched the textbook from his hands and then replaced it with a small roll of parchment tied off with a familiar periwinkle ribbon.

"Thanks, Professor," she said. Before Severus could respond, she stood on tip-toe, kissed him full on the mouth, her tongue meshed briefly, hotly, with his, and then she pulled back, and, just as abruptly, scurried off out the door.

One thing was for certain, Severus thought as he looked down at the roll of parchment in his hand… she hadn't lost her knack for surprises.

Hermione fretted over her hair in the mirror. This was an unusual thing for her to do, of course, but tonight was special and therefore warranted unusual things. Her hair she had not had the time (nor the bravado) to straighten. She put some "product" in it, which she had awkwardly borrowed from Lavender, and somehow managed to tame her bushy mane into something quasi-elegant. Her curls were still rampant and unwilling to be pulled back, though smoother now rather than bushy, framing her face, making her cheeks look a bit rounder, her expression less anxious and more relaxed. Which was a very good thing, because Hermione could not remember feeling more anxious or less relaxed in a very long time.

The parchment she had given Snape contained his first present. A menu. To a very upper class restaurant (the only upper class restaurant) in Hogsmeade: Le Cheval Dansant.

Her note enfolding the menu had said simply to meet her at the school's front doors at ten-thirty, after curfew. She would be wearing the invisibility cloak, and he would do well to dress nicely (and not be late).

The very last bit of it read:

You told me that as long as I was a student within these walls, you would never lay a hand on me. Well, for a few hours tomorrow evening, I don't intend to be within these walls, Professor. I'm leaving, whether you agree to come or not, for these reservations were not easy to procure. And though you are undoubtedly free to do as you wish, I suggest that you accompany me. Additionally, I admit that this is sudden, and perhaps not entirely properly handled, but I'm equally sure that you have not forgotten your forthcoming engagement with a certain person – an engagement that, I believe, will take place the following night. I wanted to make sure that I fulfilled my duty as the rescued maiden (giving you your gifts, you greedy git), before you left.

I hope to see you.


She had left it there – and so had he, for Hermione had not heard back from him all day. Nor could she catch his eye at meal times. She had to simply trust that he would appear, and that once he joined her, he would not immediately escort her back to her room and lock her inside.

Surely he wouldn't. Snape was many things, but he was, first and foremost, a man, wasn't he? Even he had to be feeling nervous about his meeting with the murderer, and certainly he had expressed the desire to… er… do things with her. All manner of inappropriate things, if she had heard him correctly. His chances were running out.

Hermione smoothed down some non-existent wrinkles in her new dress, just to give her hands something to do – and also to admire the sweet rustle the fabric made as she did so. It was such a lovely, lovely little thing. She and her mother had splurged on it last Christmas, but Hermione had never yet had the chance to wear it. As far as clothes went, Hermione thought the dress became her rather well; the shape was somewhat modest, as was to be expected from someone whose favorite attire included jeans and a thick jumper. But it became her. The fabric was such a gorgeous shade of red, deep and luxurious, with a v-neck, a tight waist, and a hem that moved so deliciously around her legs as she walked, ending with just a hint of a ruffle quite a few more inches above her knees than she was entirely comfortable with, as it displayed a significant amount of leg. But… ("Makes you look taller, sweetheart," her mother had said). And Hermione quite agreed.

Anyway, she thought, shaking her head and turning away from the mirror. Time to go.

She paused before pulling on the invisibility cloak (which she had, once again, secretly borrowed from Harry, as she did not think that Harry would have approved of her intended use for it).

Bloody hell, she thought, I hope he comes.

Then she disappeared from sight and walked out into the stairwell of Gryffindor Tower.

Fuck it.

Fuck it all.

Severus slipped into his smartly tailored dress robes and ran a hand through his (still so damn short) hair.

For all he knew, he might be dead in forty-eight hours. The girl had taken the initiative to come to him, and her argument was persuasive as all hell. So, fuck it. Fuck it all.

The castle was quieter than usual as Severus made his way through the halls, praying he didn't run into anyone (living or not). Thankfully, he managed to make it to the rendezvous point without incident and stood in a shadowed corner, straightening his close-fitting waistcoat and checking the time on a nearby clock.

As the seconds ticked by without further event, Severus began to feel uneasy. This was ludicrous. Why was he here? He looked ridiculous, and if anyone happened to show up who was not Granger, he would be in a great deal of—

"Hello," said a small, familiar voice – but in a shy, timid sort of way that Severus did not entirely recognize.

"Where are you?" he asked quietly, still feeling wary and self-conscious.


A small, warm hand slipped into his. Severus jumped, but did not let go. Why didn't he let go? He probably should… "Let's get this over with, then," he growled instead and turned to stalk through a side door that lead onto the grounds, and eventually, the road to Hogsmeade.

They walked quickly but quietly, Snape's hand on hers displaying more harshness and possessiveness than would any tender gesture between lovers. It felt like he was trying to keep her from fleeing – though Hermione thought that rather stupid, as she was the one who had initiated this outing in the first place.

Granted, they were sort of out in the open – perhaps he was worried for her safety? Then why hadn't he done anything to disguise himself like she had with the cloak?

As though he could hear her thoughts (and maybe he could, Hermione thought with an unpleasant lurch in her stomach), Snape stopped, tapped his wand on his head, muttered the disillusionment charm, and all but disappeared from view before continuing on without a word.

Hm, Hermione thought, looking nervously around at the moonless, starlit grounds. All the shadowed places beneath trees and around the green houses in which any number of enemies could be lurking. Suddenly, this did not seem like such a good idea after all. They were prime targets for Death Eater attacks, the two of them. No doubt Voldemort was somewhere nearby, brewing up another twisted, evil plan that involved either taking revenge on his spy-turned-traitor, or simply destroying Hogwarts and its inhabitants altogether. Even McGonagall had suggested the idea of the castle being watched by unfriendly eyes.

Hermione felt apprehension shoot up her spine – her flutter of first-date nerves having multiplied swiftly into a fury of suppressed terror deep in her gut. They were out in the open. This was a stupid idea.

But, Snape continued to plow on through the darkness, dragging Hermione behind him, his grip never loosening on her hand.

Snape did not seem to be quite as nervous as Hermione was. Instead, his expression (when last she saw it) had been stern and determined. Hermione figured that Snape was thinking about tomorrow evening, about his meeting, and what he wanted to do before he… well, if he was killed – and, of course, that had been Hermione's full intention all along. She had wanted him to be thinking about the danger he was in, and she had wanted him to be thinking about how much he wanted to live. Because, if he was, then with a bit of coaxing, Hermione might be able to persuade him to accept the Phoenix potion after all.

Hermione could feel the potion in question buzzing faintly in the handbag she had clutched against her chest.

Sharply aware of Snape's long strides and grim expression, it seemed to Hermione as though she had awakened some sort of single-minded monster in him. His grip was so demanding! His pace so fast and strong – it was obvious that he wanted to get to Hogsmeade quickly.

Perhaps he simply wanted to get there quickly so that they could leave quickly. Hermione wasn't sure. She had not become so adept yet at reading Snape – though, it was highly probable that no one could become so adept at reading such an emotionally shuttered man, no matter how much time they spent in his company.

They reached Hogsmeade much sooner than Hermione could have anticipated, and with muttered instructions from Snape, Hermione found that she was "not allowed" to remove her cloak until they were safely seated at their table. This annoyed her slightly, but she did not say anything in protest, grateful that she had at least managed to get her Professor this far without balking.

Severus removed the disillusionment charm from himself. Then he dragged Granger off the shaded path on which they had been standing and forward into the dimly lit street, snow crunching beneath their feet, loud conversations and ringing laughter drifting in and out of the surrounding pubs as they passed.

Within moments, Snape saw the sign for the restaurant – a white horse prancing around a brown and gold backdrop – and headed straight for it, careful all the time not to appear rushed. He walked with purpose, yes, but with a subdued gait, so as to melt into the crowd, uninteresting and inconspicuous.

There were a few people milling around outside when they arrived, all bundled up and waiting for a table. Good, Severus thought. That meant the place would be busy; he and Granger were less likely to be noticed.

Severus was just about to ask Granger to confirm she had made the reservations when he felt her tap him on his shoulder and whisper in his ear that she had. Reservations for two, under the name 'Concannon'. That name tickled at Snape's memory, and more than a few seconds went by before he remembered the name belonging to an unfortunate couple whose plane tickets he and Granger had stolen when on their way to Switzerland. The realization nearly made him smile, but he quickly suppressed it.

Negotiating the crowed with Granger in tow was tricky, yet they managed it somehow. Once inside, the maître d' (upon Severus's request for something more "private") led them to an adequately sheltered booth in the far corner of the room, romantically lit and surrounded by a revolting amount of flowers and potted plants. This table was obviously meant for canoodling couples, which made Severus uncomfortable, but they were far less likely to be seen here, so he did not complain.

Severus made a show of fussing with his coat, telling the maître d' that his lady guest would be arriving shortly, in order to give Granger time to settle herself in the booth. Or, at least, that's what he thought he was giving her time to do, but the moment the uptight gentleman left (immediately after Severus had given him a very significant look that said plainly how little he enjoyed people who hovered), Severus said, "Alright, take it off, then," at which point Granger materialized just beside his right shoulder.

Severus turned and was about to chide her… then found that he had entirely forgotten where he kept his voice.

Granger was stunning in a simple red gown. Hair all a tumble about her face, heavy curls framing her cold-flushed cheeks and shining gold from the firelight of surrounding candles, glints of gold that smoldered with equal beauty in the depths of her liquid brown eyes.

As was customary, Severus recovered quickly. He snapped his jaw closed, found his voice, and slipped a hand almost lazily into his pocket. He gave Granger a very pointed once-over with an eyebrow raised – a look that was supposed to make her blush uncomfortably, but which merely made her smile.

"Is this supposed to be my second present?" he asked simply.

Granger laughed throatily in response, a sort of laugh that he had never heard from her before – deep, rich, and amused – and Severus felt the tiniest of swoops in his stomach. Bloody hell, that was a great laugh.

"What? This old thing?" she replied coyly, rolling her eyes and slipping into the rounded booth.

What a saucy, surprising little vixen she's turned out to be, Severus thought, as he too slid into the booth, and, as casually as he could manage, picked up a menu in order to give his eyes something else to look at besides his "lady guest's" round and inviting cleavage.

Hermione was glowing, inside and out. The terror she had previously felt, now replaced by a sort of contented happiness and self-confidence that she rarely felt anywhere but a library.

The maître d' returned after a short time, bearing beverage menus and the night's specials. Snape, to Hermione's chagrin, ordered for both of them (soup appetizers and a bottle of what Hermione could only assume was a very expensive wine). Hermione gave him a very annoyed look once they were alone again. She wasn't made of galleons, after all, and intended to tell him so. He spoke first.

"I know you had your heart set on treating me to dinner, Granger, but I'm afraid that I am rather old-fashioned when it comes to certain things. I want what I want, and I want an expensive meal – therefore I think it only fair that I should pay."

"But that's just—" Hermione snapped her mouth shut. Alright. Fine. If he wanted to blow his money on fine wine, then so be it. Who was she to complain? She narrowed her eyes at him anyway. "This does not get you another present, I hope you know," she said, and Snape merely grunted in amusement, the ghost of a smile alighting on his face.

"The thought never crossed my mind," he replied.

Hermione figured it was wise to wait for their main course to be served before broaching the subject of his second present – the Phoenix potion – as she did not want to have to skirt around constant distractions and interruptions from the restaurant's waiting staff (who had all become noticeably more attentive and enthusiastic once they realized that their guests in the far corner appeared to be sporting a rather generous purse).

When it came, their meal consisted of some sort of chicken marinated in a light sauce and surrounded by a forest of herbs – Hermione paid it little attention. She was growing nervous again. Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for Snape to notice.

"What's bothering you?" he asked, a bit roughly, once their conversation had lulled.

Hermione twisted the napkin in her lap around and around. "Nothing's bothering me, per se… I mean, all right, I suppose I am a bit um… You see I…" She took a breath and then forced a smile. "It's your second present. I would like to give it to you now."

Severus said, "No."

The vial of golden liquid lay humming on the white tablecloth between them, with Granger nudging it his direction, and him stubbornly refusing to touch it.

It was not necessarily the thing itself that bothered Severus (though he never tended to welcome such aid with open arms), but more the way in which Granger had offered it to him, the words she had used.

"Go on – take it. You need this more than I do."

Those were the very words she had used in his dream just a few short nights ago – when she had pressed something golden and glowing into his palm and was then promptly killed right before his eyes. Without meaning to, Severus had convinced himself that if he took this from her – took it away from her – she would die. After all, she was killed once before, and it was a very likely possibility that she could be killed again. He wouldn't be able to live with himself if he had stolen this remarkable bottle of miracles away, only to have her need it later.

Severus obviously did not express all of these sentiments (he would rather die than speak of such things), but it was not overly difficult to make his general point. It was clear that Granger had approached this conversation with more than a little doubt over the possibility of its success; after a few minutes or so, she conceded.

Angry, disappointed, almost mutinous in the way that she glared at him across the table, she still conceded, and Severus was glad for it.

What he did not tell her – though he suspected she might have guess as much – was that merely the thought, the offer, of such a valuable thing was far more than enough for Severus. It meant something to him that she worried so deeply over his wellbeing, that she thought of him, that she would fight to keep him. If possible, it endeared her to him even more.

By dessert, Hermione had let her fury die to a low simmer, deciding to focus instead on enjoying the rest of the evening. This was a dearly rare occurrence, after all. Dining in a public restaurant with Snape, all alone in their little booth. Somehow, Hermione got the feeling that an opportunity like this would not come along again anytime soon… if ever (but she tried not to think about that).

She scooted around in her seat until she was nearly pressed up against Snape's side. Even seated, he seemed so tall. But his body was warm and relaxed, and they had each had more than their fair share of wine. She was feeling bold.

"So, you like the dress?" Hermione asked suggestively, settling her hand down upon Snape's knee.

Snape did not show any physical display of surprise at her forwardness.

She slid her hand higher, leaning toward him to press her chest against the side of his arm.

Snape turned to her almost instantly, giving her a look that told her very plainly how much he enjoyed everything to do with the dress. With on hand, he swept a curl from her face with a slow, sensual movement.

Hermione's heart fluttered as a wave of heat washed over her body.

He was looking at her with such want and desire. His eyes were on fire with it.

"I think we ought to get the bill," he said and then pulled away, signaling to a passing waiter.

Hermione could have slapped him.

It was snowing when they left the restaurant. The streets, unlike when they arrived, had mostly emptied. The air was cold, and Hermione pulled the invisibility cloak tight around herself, wishing with a pang of ridiculous bitterness that it was a fur invisibility cloak that Harry had inherited.

Hermione had thought they would immediately head back to the castle – Snape never did seem the sort of man to linger. But before they could make it half a block, Snape made an abrupt turn, pulled Hermione down a dark, deserted alleyway, and ushered her into a deeply shadowed alcove between Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop and Gladrags Wizardwear (both of which were closed for the night).

"What – what are you doing?" Hermione asked quietly, pulling off the hood of her cloak so Snape could see where she was.

The instant she did so, Snape grabbed her by the waist and all but threw her up against the wall, his face mere inches away from hers, his breathing already deep and lusty.

"You smell incredible," he said.

Hermione smiled. "Thanks," she replied, rather breathless herself. "I borrowed it. Something called Midnight Pomegranate."

Snape was so very close, head bent to hers, as they continued to whisper softly so as not to be heard by passing strangers. Hermione wondered if it even mattered, for the thud of her heartbeat was so loud it was sure to give them away.

"How appropriate," Snape replied, leaning, if possible, even closer. His lips ghosted over her temple, his chest expanding as he breathed in her scent.

"What is? Midnight?"

"The witching hour," he growled huskily in her ear, and Hermione felt a violent, pleasurable shiver run down the entire length of her body.

Snape then slid his hands into her hair and braced the back of her head. He closed what distance remained between them at lat, grazing her lips softly with his own. He was all she could smell, all she could feel. The heat of his breath sent waves of pinpricks all over her chin and down her neck. Hermione pushed off the wall, giving herself leverage so that she could deepen the kiss, be closer to him, feel more of him, and show him a bit of fire. She thrust her tongue roughly against his, capturing his bottom lip in her teeth. His beard scratched against her skin and she loved it. There was just so much of him all of a sudden, all around her. Hermione had never realized just how tall Snape was, just how wide his chest was, and how much the sheer amount of him, pressing up against her, excited her.

Snape responded to her aggression instantly. His tongue fought with hers. His hands moved roughly over her shoulders and down the length of her arms. He grabbed her wrists and drew them up sharply, pinning them against the brick wall above her head.

Hermione liked that, and she let him know, giving him a low, playful moan as he pushed his full body against her, trapping her against the building. Hard brick against her back, warm muscle against her front. Hermione wriggled a little, testing his hold. Unsurprisingly, his hold held. He was strong, she knew, but she was strong too, and she wanted him to test her. Always a battle of power between them, it seemed – but this was a battle that Hermione did not mind fighting. There were rivers of delight crashing through every inch of her. This felt so good, so perfect in every way. Fucking Christ, how could she have gone so long without feeling this man against her. How could she have survived without knowing how it felt to submit to such raw, physical pleasure.

Snape's grip shifted, transferring both of Hermione's wrists into one hand so that his other was free to roam. Then he broke their hungry kiss and Hermione mourned the loss. But not for long, because a moment later Snape was gently sweeping away the hair at her shoulder, using his deft fingers to peel open the invisibility cloak. She shivered as he exposed a long portion of skin at her neck to the frigid air. Ooooh, yes, she thought. Oh yes. I taunted you in class, and I knew you'd be aching for it. Snape slipped his hand beneath the fabric of her dress and pushed it down to reveal the edge of her lacy red bra. Eat your heart out, Professor.

In an instant, Snape descended on her, kissing her, nipping her, licking her with his warm mouth, his hand at her breast, no longer shy, no longer hesitant, but bold and grasping and kneading, until Hermione's toes curled, and she moaned deep her in her throat, and her hips bucked violently against his. It was this last action that caused Snape to momentarily cease his attentions. His hand left her breast, his mouth left her skin, and he rested his whiskery cheek almost wearily against hers.

"This is – where we stop," he said gruffly.

But Hermione was nearly delirious with need. "I don't — I don't want you — to stop," she gasped out. She captured his earlobe in her mouth. She pushed her heaving chest, so tender and aching to be touched, against him.

Snape's breathing grew heavier. "If I don't stop now – I won't - be able to stop at all."

"So what," Hermione hissed, grinding her hips against his; she could feel the confirmation of his words pressing hot and throbbing into her stomach.

Hermione wondered for a moment if she had gone too far, expecting him to pull away, but he didn't. He groaned instead, eyes closed, jaw clenched, his hand clamping down so tightly on her wrists that she could feel her bones creak.

"I mean it, Hermione," he ground out thickly. "Is this really what you want? To be fucked against a filthy, back-alley wall next to the dustbins?" He was positively panting now, sweat trickling down his neck and matting together the hair at his temples. The heat that radiated from him was so strong, Hermione found herself forgetting it was the dead of winter.

A wave of shame somehow penetrated the haze of desire that enveloped Hermione's world. She pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No," she admitted softly. "No, you're right – this is not the place." She bit her lip, her eyebrows drawing together. "Sorry," she said.

To her surprise, Snape chuckled heavily into her shoulder. Then he drew away slightly, so she could see his face; how the corners of his eyes crinkled, how that sneaky little dimple appeared beneath the scruff on his right cheek. "Don't be," he replied, still with a wry smile, still amused, still quite out of breath. He kissed her again, roughly, his body molding to hers one last time, his desire so hot and obvious against her hip. "Certainly nothing to be sorry about."

Then he released her wrists and fell back against the opposite wall, holding his hand to his head as he exhaled heavily. "But Merlin help me, Granger, I'm going to need a few bloody minutes to cool off before we go back into public again."

Hermione laughed a laugh that she felt touched her very soul, so pure and happy and lucky did she feel in that moment.

And at the same time, another notion fell over her like a sweet-smelling, gossamer veil. This was it. No going back now.

Great, she realized. I probably love him now. God, I'm such a sap.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 23 of 35

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