Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 3 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

It was a long time before Severus heard movement again from Granger. She had yet to voice a reply, but he figured that rather wise, as he was confident that anything she had to say would earn her a year's worth of detentions.

Severus again suppressed the urge to fidget when Granger stooped down on all fours and crawled underneath his desk as she attempted to gather up her scattered papers. He had always withheld a sharp fear of threats he knew were there but could not see, and the fact that this "threat" was nothing more than a particularly high-strung seventeen-year-old girl did nothing to ease his conscience.

Something brushed his leg and he jerked violently in surprise, realizing only too late how much that undermined his usual stony temperance. He braced himself for a comment from the girl. Yet she remained mute. So, with every sense still acutely attuned to Granger's movements, he once again turned his eyes to the book before him — on which he had yet to make more than a paragraph's progress.

Seconds later, Severus watched with his peripheral vision as Granger at last completed her task and clambered to her feet. He fully expected her to storm off in some manner of a huff (after all, even he had to admit that she had adequate reason), but she did not move. She simply stood by his desk, quiet, and unmoving.

"Take a seat, Miss Granger," he said after an uncomfortable pause.

Surprisingly, she obeyed, turning at once and walking slowly towards her customary desk.

Feeling mysteriously disappointed by her lack of defiance, Severus looked up with a sneer. "I have an errand to run," he said after her, "and in my absence, if there are any orders that you think are beyond your, I stress, novice skill level, I implore you to await my return before blundering forward and consequently blowing yourself up."

Severus heard her mutter something under her breath. "What was that?"

She gave him a scathing look over her shoulder. "I said, how kind of you to express such concern over my well-being."

"Yes, well, you are working in close proximity to some rather expensive stores, Miss Granger. Most of them I would have a great deal of difficulty replacing should they break or be damaged in any way."

Granger rolled her eyes and resumed the walk towards her desk. "Good to know, Professor. If my cauldron does explode, I will be sure to aim my body towards a vacant stretch of wall for it to splatter on."

Severus scowled mightily at her back as he began to gather up his things, just barely holding back the urge to needle her with a detention for her cheek, (even though he knew very well that he had intentionally provoked it). He watched as Granger threw her papers on her desk in a childish tantrum, subsequently knocking a small jar of Armadillo Bile onto the floor. The fine glass shattered and she cursed colorfully, swooping down to rescue it with her wand.

Severus's frown turned immediately into a smirk as he stood and strode across the room to the door. He turned the handle, and, just before disappearing into the hall, paused to say over his shoulder, with as much amusement in his voice as he dared, "Five points from Gryffindor."

There was a sharp thunk. Severus turned to see Granger still sitting on the floor, holding her head where she had obviously banged it on the underside of the table. The sight sent a shiver of amusement through his spine, and he barely withheld a chuckle.

Perhaps these lessons did have an upside, he thought to himself. After all, what could provide him with more satisfying, not to mention free, entertainment than provoking a helpless Gryffindor nitwit? Especially when said Gryffindor nitwit was someone as unfathomably irritating as Hermione Granger.

"I will return shortly," he said. "And do try not to break anything else until then." That said, Severus stepped boldly across the threshold and into the hall, closing the door firmly shut behind him. He paused just long enough to hear an answering crash from inside the room and then he walked away, laughing to himself all the way to the owlery.

Hermione was so livid after cleaning up the shattered jar of Armadillo Bile (which she had purposefully thrown this time), that all she could do was sit moodily in her chair and glare a hole through the St. Mungo's list on the table in front of her.

She wanted revenge. Yes, revenge. Sweet, juicy, glorious revenge.

Aside from one particular incident involving the ever inquisitive Rita Skeeter and a very small glass jar, Hermione had never really been one to "get a little of her own back" whenever she was wronged. But this was the last, the last straw, dammit. She was not going to bend over and take it like this anymore! Professor Snape might have had the upper hand by being her teacher, but she had the upper hand by being an imaginative and resourceful girl with plenty of mischievous ideas and plenty of mischievous friends to help her accomplish said ideas. Already she was beginning to assemble the plans for her first bit of retaliation. She assumed that with more time she would eventually come up with many and perhaps more impressive plots—however this particular one she had in mind would take some effort to put together, and would have to wait a while before the time was right to pull it off. She was without a doubt that it would all be well worth the effort, and in the meantime, if other opportunities presented themselves… well, she might just be up to seizing them.

So, mildly comforted after reaching such a bold decision, Hermione rubbed her eyes tiredly and finally managed to set herself to work. Her brain seemed alert at first, the attributes of the ingredients and exactly what to do with them coming easily to mind. She even managed to keep herself in marginally good spirits by borrowing a bit of defiance from Eliza Doolittle and singing a rousing round of "Just You Wait Severus Snape" in her head. The image of said Professor drowning and yelling for a doctor while she was out shopping did absolute wonders for her mood.

Eventually, though, her thoughts began to slow and her movements became more sluggish and clumsy. She gave up trying to imagine Professor Snape groveling on his knees while the Queen of England ordered him beheaded, and focused instead on, as he had put it, 'not blowing herself up.'

She could think of nothing more embarrassing than Professor Snape coming back to find that she had absentmindedly melted her cauldron.

Severus scribbled a hasty signature at the bottom of the order form and sent it on its way. There go your bloody ingredients, Granger, he thought to himself as he watched the tawny owl make a wide circle around the Astronomy Tower. Then, satisfied, he turned and began to make his way back to the dungeons, where he hoped Granger had managed to make at least a sizable dent in the latest St. Mungos order.

Severus ended up spending a great deal more time completing his "errands" than he had initially anticipated — owing to the dealings of an unfortunate Hufflepuff and his astoundingly unlucky placement of a dungbomb. By the time he had removed the stench from the fourth floor corridor and left the student responsible squared away with weeks of detentions (and a hefty chunk taken from what little hope their House had of winning the cup), it had been at least an hour.

Wretched girl. She had bloody well better have something to show after all that time.

Especially now that her ingredients were on the way.

The thought of being able to return guiltlessly to ordering Granger around again lightened Severus's mood considerably. Not that his guilt had been more than a trifle in the first place; he simply felt better knowing that he once again held all indisputable power. In fact, he felt so much better, that he did nothing more than clear his throat and glare knowingly when he caught an unsuspecting Ravenclaw couple behind a suit of armor on the second floor. They scampered away so quickly, one might have thought he'd set fire to their robes.

This rare state of mind changed abruptly for Severus, when he reached his destination and found out exactly how much progress Granger had made. Which, unfortunately for both of them, turned out to be not very much.

Severus stood in the doorway, infuriated by the scene before him, (though in hindsight, he probably should have at least taken such a possibility into consideration).

Hermione Granger lay heavily across her desk, her arms sprawled to either side and her hand sill limply clutching a drooping quill. Her face was turned towards him and the corner of Severus's mouth twitched as he saw how her cheek was squashed against the tabletop, causing her lips to part slightly as she puffed out her tiny breaths.

After a short moment of indecision he finally closed the door very quietly behind him and slithered stealthily across the room to examine her cauldron. It was empty. He peered over her elbow at the papers beneath her and frowned as he noticed that she had not made more than a page's worth of progress on her notes.

Severus's first thought was to shake her rudely awake and demand that she stay an extra hour to complete the work she had been assigned. Then a new plan started to form in his mind, and his mouth once again turned into his customary smirk.

Hermione gave a soft moan of discomfort as she began to wake. Her neck ached terribly as though she had been sleeping with her head twisted to the side (which, a moment later, she immediately realized that she had been). Then she moved her hand and felt a strange surface beneath her fingers that was vastly different than the anticipated softness of her polyester bed sheets…

All at once Hermione sat up with a sharp gasp, sputtering and flailing around for a moment when the parchment she had been resting on stuck to the side of her face. She couldn't believe it, she had fallen asleep! And right there at her desk, how embarrassing. She looked wildly around for a clock. How long had she been out? She prayed that it hadn't been more than a few minutes.

Suddenly Hermione froze as she caught sight of her professor, sitting coolly behind his desk, his steely gaze fixed unflinchingly upon her.

Hermione swallowed a lump in her throat.

"So nice of you to join the rest of the waking world, Miss Granger," Snape said, still staring at her, his hands folded casually on the table in front of him.

"I... er..." She cleared her throat. "H-how long have I been... What time is it?"

"Near enough to curfew that you should probably run if you wish to make it to your dormitory in time."

It took a moment for Hermione to actually process this information and then she realized with a jolt that she had been asleep for almost four hours! And... how long had Snape been there? Why hadn't he woken her up?

Furiously, Hermione tried to scramble all her scattered thoughts into a heap again. What did this mean? How much trouble was she in? And more importantly…

"What about dinner?"

Snape stood and grabbed a jar off his desk, walking it over to a row of well-loaded shelves and placing it snugly in its place. "Elaborate," he replied after a pause.

Hermione watched him through a narrowed, suspicious expression. "Well, if we are as close to curfew as you say we are, then it must have happened at some point…"

"Astutely observant, as always, Miss Granger. Yes, dinner fell at just about the same time that it usually does."

A spark ignited somewhere behind Hermione's eyes. "But — I didn't — You must have seen — Do you mean to tell me that you just sat here and chuckled to yourself while I missed dinner, Professor? You just — you just sat here!" Deep down, Hermione knew that of course it was absurd to get so upset over a simple, missed meal. But the way that Snape's eyes glinted with amusement and the way the corner of his horrible mouth turned up into that smug little sneer, made her feel as though he had sentenced her to a life of starvation.

Snape raised his dark eyebrows at Hermione's tone, though otherwise did not make any other sign that he noticed anything remarkable about her behavior. "Don't be ridiculous, Miss Granger," he said coolly, "I certainly did not just sit here." His mouth twitched. "I sat in the Great Hall, like every other conscious being in the castle. Understandably, I was not about to miss my dinner."

Hermione let those words sink in for a minute, let them permeate through her skin and prickle slowly through her body. She let the cruelness of it wash through her, feeding her hate with every second that ticked by.

Professor Snape, however, seemed perfectly oblivious to this dangerous change in mood. "At this point," he continued, still half a smirk away from looking sickeningly pleased with himself. "It would be most prudent for you to pack up your things and go directly to your dormitory. It is now after curfew and you are still out of bed, which means that you will, of course, be serving detention with Filch as soon as I can arrange a date. Out of my sight, Granger. I expected better of a Seventh Year."

Then that was it. All of a sudden Hermione felt that tight cord inside her, that tight, thick cord that always seemed to be holding her anger in check, snap with an almost audible pop. She gave a shriek of outrage and picked up the closest thing she could find, which was her enormous pile of meticulously printed research, and dashed it all to the floor at his feet. Somehow she also managed to get a hold of an inkbottle and the instant she realized it was in her hand she threw that too, directly on top of the scattered papers. The ink splattered everywhere and Hermione spared a quick, malicious prayer that it had somehow managed to reach the professor's robes.

Then, before Snape could even utter a word, Hermione scooped her book bag off the back of her chair and stormed out of the room, slamming the door as hard as she could behind her.

She barreled down the hall, clutching her bag tightly to her chest as white-hot tears pricked the corners of her eyes. Her vision was soon so blurred that she could barely even see the steps beneath her feet as she reached the staircase. Heedless of this, Hermione ran as fast as she could up flight after flight on her way to Gryffindor Tower. Then, finally, after a particularly bad stumble that took the breath from her and grated her shins horribly, Hermione dashed angrily at her eyes and swallowed the lump in her throat. She made one mighty struggle to push the tears and hysteria to the back of her head. Even that brief effort made her feel terribly nauseous and her chest ache as though it might explode from the pressure of it all. It really had been a long time since she'd slept.

With a deep, shuddering breath, Hermione slowly commenced her ascent to Gryffindor Tower, repeating to herself over and over again that she was stronger than this, that she shouldn't let him bother her so. She could begin her project next week, when the proper ingredients had arrived. She would just have to wait—that was all. No problem.

The moment she reached the next landing, her empty stomach gave a horrible twinge and the injustice of it all washed over her again afresh. With another furious wail she swung her book bag as hard as she could at the marble banister. Then she swung it once more, just for good measure, just for the heck of it, just because she felt like it, and vowed that if it was the last thing she ever did, she would show that horrible, malicious, ungrateful, infuriating, hateful man!

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 3 of 35

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