Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 5 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

"Alright, so explain this to me again." Ginny pulled out a chair and sat down next to the now pleasantly simmering cauldron.

They were in the Room of Requirement, which had conveniently turned itself into a slightly warmer, substantially cozier, replica of Snape's private laboratory. Hermione had only seen the lab once, by accident, and had not been able to get it out of her mind since. She had never seen so many interesting things in jars in her life.

Thankfully, the Room of Requirement had left out some of the most rare and gruesome items (i.e. the various decapitated limbs and eyeballs), in favor of displaying the tamer, more frequently useful ingredients.

Hermione stopped stirring and sat down next to Ginny. "OK," she began excitedly, "the first thing I decided was that I didn't want anything powder or water-based, you know, nothing that would have to be swallowed. Too difficult. What I really wanted was something that was a sort of paste or cream that would act by simple contact. That way it would be more subtle, and let's face it, we're dealing with Professor Snape, so we're going to need subtlety wherever we can find it. So that narrowed down my options a bit. I still could have used any number of things I suppose…" Hermione flipped open one of the books in front of her and began leafing through the pages. "But, again, for the sake of being as inconspicuous as possible, I decided to use something I've already begun from the St. Mungo's list."

Hermione finally found the page she wanted and scooted the book towards Ginny, pointing at the description of a generic potion used for healing lacerations. Ginny scanned it, her expression politely curious.

"You see," Hermione continued eagerly, "then I had to go through and figure out which manner of ingredients this potion was compatible with. Even though it's relatively generic, my options weren't as wide as I had hoped. A few pinches of ground oyster shell was the first thing I was able to add, and then a bit of pixie blood—I read somewhere that it's used a lot in energy drinks, and, er, other things... You know, to get the blood going and all that. Then I had to wait for everything to cool, and after that I added a bit of..."

Ginny rolled her eyes as Hermione continued rambling on at a relentless pace, rattling off all the ingredients and why she used them until Ginny was hopelessly confused, awed, and, to be quite honest, slightly annoyed. Finally, she cut Hermione off, desperate to get to the whole point of the matter. "What exactly is this potion going to make Snape do?" she asked bluntly.

Hermione bit back a giggle. "If I've done all of my calculations correctly, it should do a number of things. None of them too serious, though, of course. It's really more of a 'flustersome' potion than anything. He'll be jumpy and sensitive to touch—might get a bit of a temperature—most likely will be turned-on by anything he sees—"


"—and there's even a few elements of Veritaserum," Hermione continued, ignoring Ginny's comment.

"You mean he'll have to tell the truth!" Ginny's eyes suddenly sparkled with mischief. The prospect of asking the oh-so-secretive Professor Snape loads of embarrassing questions was clearly ringing a few bells in Ginny's brain.

Hermione shuffled her papers uncomfortably. "More like compelled to tell the truth. The effect will probably not be very strong. As I said, there are only elements of it. Veritaserum is a very long and complicated potion just by itself…"

Ginny seemed a bit put out. "Oh, well, I guess that's something at least." A moment later however, she was smiling again. "How long before it's done? I can't wait to mess with him! This idea was mad, Hermione, completely mad, but I'm so impressed."

Hermione paused for a moment before speaking. The potion itself would take a while to make, at least a couple of weeks, and just now, while in its early stages, and because of the variety of ingredients involved (not to mention the fact that it was an experimental potion, therefore making it very unstable), it would require constant attention. Attention that Hermione did not have the time to give with so much homework on her plate already.

This was the main reason she had asked for Ginny's help.

"It should be done sometime after the holidays," Hermione replied off-handedly. "But I may have a slight... problem. You see, the potion is at a very crucial stage right now. It—it needs to be stirred four times, counter-clockwise, in intervals of ten minutes every three hours, and normally I would take care of it myself, but—"

"But you're busy," Ginny finished for her, smiled, and patted Hermione's shoulder. "Not a problem. If anyone deserves a break it's you. Just tell me how to do this properly. I'll take care of it."

Hermione smiled. "Perfect, Ginny, thanks. I knew you'd be up for it."

Ginny gave a small shrug as Hermione pulled out a quill and a scrap of parchment and began to scribble out a detailed list of instructions.

"Well, when you grow up with brothers like Fred and George, you have to learn to put forth the effort when it comes to really good pranks."

Hermione snorted. "Very true."

"In fact, why don't you let me take over tonight?"

Hermione looked up. "Oh, no, really, Ginny—you don't have to."

Ginny shook her head stubbornly. "I want to," she said. "For no other reason than that those bags under your eyes are starting to frighten the First Years."

Hermione laughed heartily as she finished her last sentence with a flourish and handed the parchment over to Ginny. "Alright then. Don't know how I can argue with that. Thanks. And I hope these instructions aren't too confusing," she added worriedly.

Ginny glanced over them. "Not at all."

The candlelight shone in a brilliant halo around Ginny's red hair and illuminated her straight and dainty teeth as she looked up, flashing Hermione a smile.

For some reason, at that moment, Hermione was struck with a searing stab of jealousy. She suddenly found herself very aware of how beautiful Ginny was. Feminine and graceful, headstrong and stubborn. She even had a good sense of humor.

Hermione, on the other hand, felt very... plain. Intimidating every boy in her path with her sharp wit, wild mane, and obsessive intellectual ambitions. Her hair never glowed in the firelight. Her eyes didn't sparkle with mischief or adventure. And even after Madam Pomfrey had shrunk them in her fourth year, Hermione's teeth were still far from dainty.

This strange feeling passed an instant later, however, and as a wave of tiredness settled down upon her, Hermione returned Ginny's smile. "OK. See you in the morning, I guess," she sighed, as she slowly gathered up her book bag and headed for the door, her body feeling heavy and sluggish. It would be a miracle if she managed to make it to the portrait hole before passing out.

"Pleasant dreams," Ginny replied, stifling a yawn.

Hermione gave her a small wave before closing the door, hoping against hopes that her dreams were indeed pleasant, and that for once, they did not revolve around a certain dark-haired man.

It was breakfast time in the Great Hall. Hermione absentmindedly hummed Christmas carols under her breath as she diced a piece of melon with her fork.

I wonder what I should get Professor Snape for Christmas, she thought lazily, surprised to find herself feeling generous towards him again. She hardly even remembered how she had managed to work herself into such a fury in the first place. Maybe a new quill, perhaps, or something nice for his desk, or... "Hey, watch it!"

Hermione jumped up from the table as a letter-bearing owl crashed into her pumpkin juice and spilled it all over her lap. Ruffling its feathers, the owl simply sat back and blinked innocently at her as she scowled and reached into her bag for her wand.

Only, her wand was not there.

Wondering whether she might have left it somewhere in the library, Hermione gave a nervous whine and emptied the contents of the bag onto the table in a vain attempt to find it.

"Trouble, Granger?" said a deep, drawling, familiar voice.

Hermione whipped around, mortified to be caught by Professor Snape with, of all things, pumpkin juice splattered down her front (not to mention having lost her wand as well). She cringed as she felt the cold, sticky liquid running down her legs, soaking into her socks.

"I believe you might have... misplaced this," Snape growled, making no sign that he noticed the enormous stain down Hermione's front as he held out a wand. Her wand.

How in the world did he get that? Hermione wondered as she hesitantly reached out and plucked the wand from his hand. "Um, thank you," she mumbled.

"Thank you, sir," he snapped.

"Thank you, sir," Hermione ground out, looking down at her sopping wet clothes... to find that her skirt was miraculously dry. Not even a stain. With a start, she looked back up again but was faced with empty air.

Professor Snape was gone.

In fact, the whole Great Hall was empty.

Hermione jumped with surprise as something nibbled on her finger. She turned to see the owl—which now seemed a great deal whiter than it had been before—still sitting on the table and patiently offering its leg with the attached letter.

Curiosity erased every other thought in Hermione's mind as she reached for the envelope. It did not matter that what was happening made no sense. It did not matter that the table in front of her, which had only moments before been groaning under heaping plates of food, was now bare. The only thing that mattered was that she read that letter.

The envelope was blank, giving no hint as to whom it was supposed to be addressed, or even who had addressed it. Without sparing any further thoughts to its origin, Hermione ripped it open, feeling as though, for some reason, this letter was very important—as though she had been waiting for whatever was inside for a very long time.

Hermione fumbled with the string binding for what seemed like ages before she was finally able to unfold the stubborn parchment and read its mysterious contents.

The message contained only one sentence, written in elegant spidery letters that Hermione instantly recognized.

Granger, it began simply, and she spared a quick moment of frustration that the man did not even have the courtesy to include a proper address. That feeling instantly dissolved as her eyes traveled down the parchment. An enormous jolt of what felt like lightning leapt through her body as she read the next line:

Sometimes, I dream of you too.

Hermione woke with a sharp gasp. Immediately she looked around to find that, once again, she was not in her bed.

Thankfully, it was still dark outside, which meant that most of Hogwarts' students were sure to be fast asleep in their rooms. The fire in the Gryffindor common room had been reduced to glowing coals, and aside from the occasional whine or pop, the air was silent as a tomb. Shakily, Hermione got to her feet and slowly made her way back up the stairs, resolved at once to go to Madam Pomfrey first thing in the morning.

This sleepwalking had to stop.

Severus's eyes snapped open and he immediately jumped in surprise as he found himself face to face with... his own reflection. A pair of dark, coal-black eyes glinted back at him from the frosty pane of his bedroom window. He stood inches away from the smooth glass, still as a statue, his heart hammering in his chest, his mind racing to figure out what had happened.

The last thing he could remember doing was putting the stopper on a bottle of recently completed Veritaserum and then crawling into bed sometime around four in the morning. He was almost certain that he had fallen straight to sleep... but then, here he was, surely no more than an hour or two later (for it was still very dark outside), out of bed and standing at the window. He looked down to see a handprint on the glass. His handprint he assumed, for his fingertips were still cold. Exactly what his hand had been doing there, however, he was without a clue.

Slowly, Severus turned and scanned the room, every sense straining to pick up something out of the ordinary. The room was dark, quiet, and still as always.

How very peculiar this was, Severus thought, as he shook his head and walked the few steps back to his bed. Had he simply been staring out the window and dozed off? Was it even possible he had fallen asleep standing up? Or perhaps he had been sleepwalking, and maybe the shock of the cold window against his skin had woken him.

This seemed like the most logical explanation, and that made him extremely uneasy. He had never sleepwalked before in his life, so the fact that he was doing it now, seemingly without provocation, did not sit well with him at all. Though, granted, he did not get very far, he could not help thinking that next time (if there was a next time, and for some reason he felt almost sure that there would be), he might end up somewhere he dearly did not want to be. Namely, anywhere outside his private chambers.

As he slid back under the covers and calmed his breathing once again to a slow, even pace, he began to run over the day in his head, searching for something, anything, that could have caused this mysterious behavior.

But everything had been the same. As depressingly dull as it was, Severus had let himself slip into an all-too-comfortable routine. Even his dreams were the same.

He paused on that thought, because now that he thought about it, there had been something odd about his dream that night. It teased him at the back of his mind; he could not quite remember what it was that had been different.

He concentrated.

The dream had started out just like it always did:

Severus sat cross-legged on the black and white tiled floor of the enormous kitchen in Snape Manor. He was ten years old. In the distance he could hear a series of loud thumps and a woman screaming. There was a particularly loud crash, like glass shattering, and then a man's drunk, booming voice.

Severus did not move to investigate this commotion. He was familiar with the sounds, and horrible though they were, he also knew that none of this was real—that it was all a dream. Even so, Severus felt (as he always did) a slight twinge of regret for not immediately leaping to his mother's rescue. He loved his mother, and he hated that she suffered. Though he knew very well that there was nothing he could do, he felt the need to stand in front of her.

It had been the same when his parents were still alive. Always wanting to help, to face down his father, but always lacking the courage to do so.

Years ago, when Severus was still at home and had not yet reached the appropriate age for initiation into the Death Eaters, he had lived forever, it seemed, in perpetual fear. He had learned to hide whenever he saw Mr. Snape with a bottle in his hand, or smelled the firewhisky on his breath. He would run to the kitchen and sit underneath the sink, plugging his ears and trying to block out the sounds.

In the Muggle world, the beating Mrs. Snape received would not have gone unnoticed by the neighbors. However, in the wizarding world, there was no such thing as an incriminating bruise or cigarette burn. A flick of the wand, and everything was back to normal. Even the mental damage could be repaired with the right spells—obliviate and all that. But there was still a dull, glazed look in Mrs. Snape's eye that Severus could never quite forget. It was the look of someone who no longer cared, and young though he was, he recognized it, and it terrified him.

One night, the summer before Severus's first year at Hogwarts, Mr. Snape had come home and found Severus bent intently over a large textbook in the living room.

Suddenly, and without any provocation at all, he had snatched the book from his son's hands. As he began to tear out every page one by one, he repeated over and over again, in a slurred raspy voice, that no son of his was going to grow up to be a spineless, pathetic little creature. He was going to be tough, and strong. He was going to bring honor to the name of Snape, he was not going to let others push him around. Then Mr. Snape had shoved a half-empty bottle of liquor into Severus's hand and sat in a chair by the fire to watch him drink it.

Severus did not want to drink his father's liquor. He did not want to drink something that made a person yell and hurt other people. He did not want to drink it, but he did, because he was scared.

His father said that he did not want his son to be spineless, but for his entire life, that is precisely what Severus had been.

His mother had come into the room then. She stopped as she saw the ruined book and the nearly empty bottle in her son's hand. Though she immediately tried to retreat, it was too late. Mr. Snape had already seen her.

"Did you buy him the books?" he had asked, his voice low and dark.

Her back straightened. "Yes."

He backhanded her.

Maybe it had been the whiskey. Maybe it had been because he wanted to show his father that he wasn't spineless. Or maybe he had simply had enough. Whatever it was, on that particular night, as Severus saw his mother crumple to the ground, something had snapped inside him.

"That's enough!" he had shouted at his father, hurling the bottle in his hand into the fire with an explosive shatter and rushing to his mother's side. "I asked her to buy me the books. It was my fault. You shouldn't hit her, you shouldn't–"

Severus had fully expected his father's wrath, fully expected him to erupt into a fury and begin pummeling his tiny, ten-year-old body into a bloody pulp. But before Mr. Snape could so much as speak a word, Mrs. Snape had stood, turned to Severus, and promptly slapped him, quite hard, across the face.

"Don't speak to your father that way," she had said, and it broke Severus's heart.

Of course, now that he was a bit older, Severus understood that she had simply been trying to protect him—hitting him hard so that her husband would not hit him harder. At such a young age, however, the only thing he saw was betrayal.

After that night, Severus had never again stood up for his mother, the love he held for her turned slightly sour. From then on, anger and hatred, and a sense of indignant abandonment, always seemed to be simmering in the recesses of his heart, ready at any time to be unleashed by even the slightest offense.

This, perhaps more than anything else, was what had committed him to the path that led to Voldemort's side…

Dream Severus stood from his seat on the floor of the kitchen in Snape manor and began to walk. He was not going anywhere in particular, he simply felt like moving.

The commotion from the dining room increased, but Severus did not pay it any attention. There would be plenty of time later to confront his father. There always was.

As Severus wandered down the hall, he paused when he saw that a light was on in the library.

A light had never been on in the library before.

Wary of this new development, Severus crept towards the open doorway, his tiny feet silent on the hardwood floor. He could hear the steady, dull thud of what sounded like someone stacking a large amount of books. Then there came a rustling of pages and a noticeable plop as whoever it was sat down in one of the huge armchairs.

Severus sucked in his breath with surprise. The person was humming. And it was not just any humming, it was a humming that he recognized (and thoroughly despised).

Without waiting a second longer, Severus rushed into the room—then slid to a stop as his wild fear was confirmed: Hermione Granger had somehow found her way into his dreams.

She sat there in the chair, an open book balanced on her lap as she rubbed vigorously at a small spot on her shirt. It looked as though she were trying to rub away a stain, but there was nothing there. Severus watched her do this mysterious task, feeling as though there were something else about her that was not quite right.

Then he noticed that she seemed sort of blurry around the edges, as though he were looking at her through a telescope that was not quite in focus.

When she continued to rub at the invisible spot on her shirt, Severus hesitantly cleared his throat.

She did not look up.

"Granger?" he said at last, his voice sounding irritatingly small and squeaky.

Still, she did not acknowledge his existence.

Feeling his chest begin to fill with a familiar rage, he took one trembling step forward. "Granger, look at me!" he shouted.

She did not.

"What are you doing here? Why don't you look at me? Granger! Granger—look at me! Hermione Grang–"

Then, quite suddenly, she looked up. Her brown eyes were duller than usual and without their familiar sparkle of youthful energy, but there was no mistaking that they were hers. She slowly opened her mouth. When she spoke, her voice was empty and strange. "Your library is not very extensive," she said.

Severus did not respond. He simply stood in place, gaping foolishly at her.

"Where's your mother?" she asked, still in the same toneless voice.

Severus jumped as there came a particularly loud crash from down the hall and his mother let out a long, shrill wail.

Hermione did not even flinch. "I believe I should have a word with her about properly stocking her bookshelves."

Severus's eyes snapped open.

Surely that's where the dream had ended, he thought, as he lay there in bed. Was that why he had been sleepwalking? Granted, the experience had been very odd... But surely that could not have been the only cause. And if it was, why had he gone to the window, of all places? What had he been doing there? Had he been trying to open it? And what, in Merlin's name, was Hermione Granger doing in his dreams?

It was a very long time until morning.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 5 of 35

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