Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 6 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

The Fat Lady yawned hugely as she swung open.

"Sorry to wake you," Hermione said quietly as she passed.

The Fat Lady simply rolled her eyes. "Sakes alive, you might as well," she grumbled. "Hardly a wink of sleep, with that red-haired hooligan popping in and out all night."

"Really sorry," Hermione whispered again as she walked away, rubbing her eyes tiredly.

"I thought people were supposed to sleep in on the Holidays," The Fat Lady called after her, but Hermione merely shrugged and kept walking.

She was almost halfway to the Hospital Wing when it occurred to her that perhaps Madam Pomfrey was not up and about at six-thirty in the morning. Surely even she slept in on the Holidays. With that in mind, Hermione made an immediate change of direction and instead headed for the library, knowing that Madam Pince was always an early riser.

Sure enough, when Hermione arrived at the big wooden doors and crept inside, a pair of beady eyes followed her from behind an enormous tower of books. Hermione smiled and waved at her, but Madam Pince merely gave a pert nod and then disappeared again behind her wall of literature.

Hermione had fully intended to study, or at least be productive in some capacity. Yet, a mere half-hour later found her staring distractedly out the window, with a copy of You and Your Cauldron: A detailed look into Advanced Potions-Making sitting open but unread on the table in front of her. Not for the first time in the past few months, Hermione was unable to concentrate. She kept running over her dreams in her head, trying, as she always did, to make sense of things.

She did not get very far.

Love, or the possibility of love, or maybe not even the possibility—for Heaven's sake, wasn't this supposed to be a passing infatuation?—was all unfamiliar territory for Hermione. For once in her life, the library was not opening its arms to help her.

The castle was just beginning to stir when Hermione finally set out for the Hospital Wing an hour later. She passed by a few Prefects in the halls. Instead of nodding a cheery hello as she normally did, she simply kept her head down and tried her best to be as inconspicuous as possible. (After all, she would need the practice).

"Good morning, dear, what is it that you need?" Madam Pomfrey smiled happily from behind her desk and beckoned Hermione in with a wave of her hand. An enormous pile of bandages were rolling themselves up in a basket at her feet.

Hermione smiled back and approached, feeling a new spark of confidence after receiving such a cheerful greeting. "I've been having some trouble with sleepwalking," she began assertively, "and I think it has something to do with—well, probably a whole number of things—but, I think, in particular, the, er, dreams I've been having, are... Could I perhaps have a draft of Dreamless Sleep? Not much. Just enough for a few days or so. I think. Would be helpful."

Madam Pomfrey gave Hermione a shrewd look. "If you were any other student, Miss Granger, I would probably say no," she replied rather sternly, getting up from her seat and walking over to a large oak cabinet which stood open and loaded with various assortments of glass containers and medicinal concoctions. "It's valuable. I hate to just give it out... Though Merlin knows I've seen you. Running yourself to exhaustion over school work. It's a wonder you've made it this far into the semester without some sort of epileptic fit, so I'm glad you came to see me, really. It isn't healthy, to keep on like that, you know. I've told Minerva I don't know how many times that you students need to—" Madam Pomfrey paused. "That's odd. I seem to be out."

"Out?" Hermione gulped.

Madam Pomfrey frowned as she moved a few bottles around in a last, vain attempt. "He must have taken the last of it," she said apologetically. "I'm sorry, dear, you'll have to wait before I can send out for more."

Hermione, in that moment, felt very, very tired—more tired than she could ever remember feeling. All she wanted was to sleep, deeply and without interruption. "Who did you say took it?" she asked, squinting her eyes against a sudden headache. Maybe she could bargain whoever it was for what was left of the draft. Right now, she would do just about anything for a good rest.

"Why, Professor Snape did, just this morning."

Or maybe not.

"In fact, I believe he took a full bottle, the glutton. Oh! But you didn't hear that from me." Madam Pomfrey blushed a little in embarrassment. "In any case, if you are truly in need—and I do believe that you are—I imagine he might lend you a bit if you ask nicely."

On second thought, perhaps the sleepwalking wasn't so bad. "N-no, that's alright," Hermione said wearily, thinking that Professor Snape was more likely to sprout wings and fly around the room singing Weasley Is Our King than freely lend her anything—especially after the way she had behaved at their last lesson. Hermione started towards the door. "I'll just... wait until you get some more."

Madam Pomfrey's eyebrows furrowed, but if she was at all concerned or curious about Hermione's unnaturally flushed face, she made no comment. "Alright, dear. I'll let you know when they've arrived. Take care of yourself."

Hermione nodded a goodbye, shut the door, then turned tail and retreated as fast as she could to the nearest bathroom. She needed a quiet place to gather herself. Already she could feel tears of frustration pricking her eyes. The stupid sort of tears that didn't mean anything but couldn't be helped - as though her body were forcing some sort of cathartic release.

Of all people to have taken it! The one person in the world who was least likely to give her anything beyond unwarranted detentions and vicious insults.

Hermione closed the bathroom door and leaned against it, holding her aching head in her hands and taking a deep breath.

What was she going to do? She wanted sleep, needed it quite frankly (especially if she didn't want to blow up her most recent project). I wonder how Ginny did last night, she thought belatedly, feeling a pang of guilt that she hadn't checked in on her yet. Oh well, surely if something went wrong she would have told me by now.

Hermione walked over to the sink and splashed some water on her face, soothed by the crisp, cool feeling against her warm cheeks. That at least seemed to revive her a bit, and the pain in her head receded slightly.

Now, what to do about those dreams?

Hermione stared through her reflection in the mirror, her eyes wide and unfocused as she tried to puzzle out a solution. Could she brew a draft of Dreamless Sleep herself? She had never read up on it and imagined it would be rather difficult, even with all the books and ingredients at her disposal. Besides, she was probably just as likely to lose more sleep over preparing the potion than she would gain when she actually got to use it. Then again, she had no idea how long it would take for the Hospital Wing to order a new shipment. It had to be at least a week, and a week of sleepwalking did not sound very manageable to her at all. Wasn't there another way? Well, there was always Madam Pomfrey's suggestion…

But Hermione was pretty sure she would rather die. So, where did that leave her? Right back where she started.

This is shaping up to be a terrific bloody holiday, she thought bitterly as she dried her face on a towel, smoothed her skirt, and then exited the bathroom.

Hermione was just reaching the bottom of the stairs on her way to breakfast when she suddenly found herself assaulted on both sides by two extremely large and exuberant hugs.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you–"

"You're so wonderful and brilliant and amazing and–"

"How did you ever get so bloody cool–"

"Fred and George would be so proud–"

Hermione laughed as she shoved her way out of Harry and Ron's arms. "I suppose Ginny told you about the you-know-what then?"

Both boys nodded, looking nearly incapacitated with glee.

"When's it going to be ready?" Ron asked excitedly.

"Can we help?" Harry said, grinning like an idiot.

Hermione beamed back. This was exactly what she needed—to be immersed in the company of her two dearest friends. "Actually, Harry, I was going to ask you if I could borrow your dad's cloak."

He looked slightly bewildered, though the broad smile on his face remained unchecked. "Uh, sure," he replied without question. "You know I'm always willing to contribute to a worthy cause." He put an arm around her shoulders. "And giving Snape a bit of what's coming to him is certainly a worthy cause."

"Yes, well, it is about time, isn't it?" she replied.

"I'll say," Ron piped in.

As the three of them commenced their walk towards the Great Hall, Hermione did her best to shush them, terrified that someone might overhear. Because if anyone else found out about this, the news was sure to get back to Snape. Probably before the day was even out. After all, gossip traveled fast at Hogwarts.

"Can we come with you?" Ron whispered across the table as they sat down to eat.

Hermione cleared her throat uncomfortably. "Uh... well... actually, no. I don't think that would be a very good idea."

Ron looked extremely put-out. "What? Why not?"

She shrugged as she began to butter a slice of toast. "I just think it's going to be hard enough sneaking around Professor Snape's private lab without the both of you tagging along, giggling and making obnoxious jokes. Besides, as much as you two have grown over the summer, I hardly think we would all fit under the cloak anymore. No, I really think it's best I go on my own."

Ron did not seem convinced, his smile fading. But, for once in his life, he let the subject drop and instead sulked behind an enormous mountain of blueberry pancakes.

Over the next two weeks, Hermione slept when she could and made sure to get to bed early every night so that in case she sleepwalked, she had a better chance of waking before everyone else in the castle—therefore allowing her the time to rescue herself from embarrassment.

An alarming amount of people had found out about her 'Ode to Revenge' potion, and though she had expected this, her nerves were certainly jangled. She was barraged with congratulatory handshakes left and right, and even received an enormous package of complimentary Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes from Fred and George.

The note attached said:

Dear Hermione, Glorious Most Magnanimous Queen of the Library,

So proud to know we've rubbed off on you.

P.S. Will obviously be expecting a full report. Come visit anytime.

Thankfully, that seemed to be the extent of who knew. Because, as far as she could tell, the secret had remained within their tight circle of Gryffindor friends. Of course, there was still plenty of time for the plan to be leaked, and she wasn't going to take any chances. She avoided Snape like the plague, terrified that if she saw him again he would take one look at her face and immediately know the entire thing.

Finally, on the last day of Winter Break, the potion was ready. (Sooner than she had expected, but who was she to complain?). Hermione had also managed, at last, to get hold of a draft of Dreamless Sleep the night before, and so was fresh and rested early that morning when she entered the Room of Requirement, ready to add the final touches to the potion.

"Red?" she breathed in horror as she approached the cauldron and gazed into its brightly glowing contents. That was just about the furthest thing from inconspicuous...

Frantically, Hermione searched the shelves, looking for something, anything, that might help change the color, or at least dim the glowing. How could she have overlooked this? She had spent so much time getting the potion to be the perfect texture that she completely forgot about color. He would see even one drop of that from a mile away.

Suddenly, Hermione turned around to find a small glass container sitting innocently on the table, where before there had only been empty space.

Where did that come from? she thought warily, examining it carefully before picking it up and gingerly unscrewing the top.

She wafted the fumes delicately. It smelled like powdered chalk. She dipped a finger into it and then rubbed it against her thumb. It was powdered chalk. Was the Room trying to tell her something? Is this what she needed? She remembered reading something about powdered chalk and its malleable properties. Did that extend to pigment as well?

Hermione shrugged. There was only one way to find out…

Muttering a quick prayer, Hermione delicately sprinkled the white powder into her cauldron. She held her breath... and then let it back out an instant later as the potion dulled, the bright red slowly transforming to a light, smoky gray.

Hermione smiled. Assuming that the chalk had not affected the potency, that was exactly what the potion had needed.

So, feeling pleased with herself, and sending out a silent thank you to her mysterious provider, Hermione bottled her concoction, gathered her books, and then went on to breakfast.

Hermione felt a very strong sense of déjà vu later that morning as a brilliant white owl swooped down on the table in the Great Hall and nearly upset her pumpkin juice. Thankfully, she rescued it in time and even spared a quick moment to offer the owl a piece of bacon before shooing it on its way.

She had been expecting a letter from her parents (they had only recently learned how to send mail by owl) so Hermione was shocked when she opened the small scrap of parchment and found herself staring at a now very familiar spidery writing.


Your ingredients have arrived.

If you still harbor the desire to continue your project, you may arrive at the laboratory tonight at 9 o'clock.

Do not be late.

Hermione groaned.

The gloomy dungeon was darker than usual when Hermione entered (once again checking her watch to make sure that she was arriving precisely on time). There were only a few candles lit and the air was unusually quiet; no sound of a pleasantly simmering cauldron, or the crackle of flames, or the rhythmic chopping of ingredients.

Professor Snape was not there.

Instantly skeptical, Hermione left the door ajar as she explored the room, looking for any sign of her professor. Surely he would not make such a pointed remark about her arriving on time and then have the audacity to be late himself? And wouldn't he want to be there, just in case the opportunity arose to give her a lecture about promptness, or to take off points?

After a thorough search, Hermione at last came to the conclusion that Snape was indeed nowhere to be found. So, she shrugged and went to sit down at her usual desk... only to find a most astonishing surprise:

There sat all of her research. All those rolls and rolls of parchments that she specifically remembered dashing at Professor Snape's feet were now sitting in a neat, orderly pile next to her cauldron, every paper clean of spilled ink.

Hermione looked around again, convinced that this was some sort of trick. The room was still empty, and the only thing she could hear was her own now slightly erratic breathing.

Had he really done what she thought he had done?

Was this some manner of peace offering from him?

Suddenly, Hermione felt all of her anger wash away. What a nice thing to do—even after she had yelled and thrown a bottle of ink at him! I really shouldn't go through with that horrible trick now, she thought miserably. Maybe he just can't help being such a... hang on, what's this?

Hermione reached over and slipped a piece of parchment out from beneath the leg of her cauldron. Once again, the gracefully slanted letters were quite familiar (as was the prickly and condescending tone):

No doubt it will devastate you to learn that I am unable to attend our session today. Predictably, I have legitimate business that is far worthier of my immediate attention.

In any case, try not to blow yourself up. And don't, even for a moment, consider using any ingredients but your own. I do not appreciate people nicking from my stores whenever they please.

Hermione scowled. What was that supposed to mean? She had never stolen anything from him (well, except for that one time in her second year…)

And the next time you decide to throw such an infantile tantrum, under no circumstances will you be allowed to return. Your behavior was foolish, brazen, and embarrassing - entirely unacceptable for a First Year let alone Seventh.

Finally, I thought it appropriate to inform you that your detention has been scheduled for Friday. Be in my office at 10 p.m., not a minute before, not a moment after. Once your two hours are completed, I will then inform you when and where your next five detentions are to be fulfilled.


I should not have to remind you to clean up after yourself when you have finished. Last time you failed to grasp even the basic concepts of acceptable sanitation.

The note ended there.

"Oooh, that does it!" Hermione growled through clenched teeth, wadding up the piece of parchment and resisting the urge to set fire to it with her wand. Five detentions? Clean notes be dammed, that wretched man was going to get what was coming to him!

"Oh, come on, Harry, I'm not going to damage it or anything. And Ron, stop giving me that look - I told you we aren't all going to fit and there's nothing I can do about it, so quit sulking. You look like Crookshanks after a bath."

Ron simply glowered as Harry grudgingly handed over the invisibility cloak, the expression on his face clearly saying that he wished he could accompany it.

"Honestly," Hermione grumbled as she pulled it over her shoulders and disappeared beneath it. "Boys."

The Fat Lady said nothing as Hermione stole past her, quiet as a ghost (and substantially less visible than one). She quickly made her way through the castle, thankfully managing to avoid any major mishap—except for a rather close call with a suit of armor on the third floor. It had apparently been recently bewitched, because the instant Hermione walked by, it leapt off its stand and proceeded to sweep her into a rather loud and enthusiastic waltz. Within a few minutes, she had managed to disentangle herself, successfully dismember the noisy thing, and then she was instantly on her way again.

Shockingly enough, everything that night went according to plan. She snuck into Snape's lab, found the glass of Armadillo Bile (which she knew he would be using very soon in his current project), and she carefully coated it in her now entirely translucent and inconspicuous potion.

She just hoped that it was enough to affect him. According to her calculations, even one finger on the face of the bottle would be enough. She had tested it earlier that night with merely a pinpoint-sized drop on the palm of her hand, and even now, hours later, she was still feeling a bit flushed and bothered.

In any case, all went well, and she even made it back to Gryffindor Tower in just a little over an hour.

Despite the fact that the boys had been rather grumpy when she left, the moment Hermione entered through the portrait hole, there they were, sitting by the fire with two enormous, mischievous grins plastered across their faces.

"How did it go?" they asked eagerly.

"Perfect," she replied.

There was an almost tangible feeling of anticipation in the dungeon classroom the next afternoon as the Gryffindors and Slytherins all gathered for Potions. The Slytherins, of course, had no idea (at least she hoped they didn't). Seamus had been giving her winks and thumbs-up all morning.

The door opened, everyone turned, and in stepped Professor McGonagall.

They all looked at each other.

"Excuse me," drawled Draco Malfoy. "You're substituting for Professor Snape?"

McGonagall's mouth thinned. "Yes, Mr. Malfoy. I am. And if you ever take that tone with me again, you will be polishing banisters until March, is that understood?"

Malfoy sneered.

"Yes," McGonagall continued sharply, striding up the board and waving her wand to produce a full three pages of notes. "Professor Snape will be out for a few days, and I—" she sent another withering look in Malfoy's direction "—will be filling in for him. He has left me a very thorough set of instructions, however, so I suggest we all get to work immediately."

In the space of a moment, every Gryffindor in the room seemed to turn as one and stare pointedly at Hermione, the disappointment very apparent on their faces.

Hermione blushed hotly. How did Snape do it? The joke was on him, and still she was the one who ended up in knots of embarrassment.

Ron leaned over to whisper in her ear. "I guess he turned coward and hid in his room."

"Oh well," whispered Harry in her other ear. "At least you got rid of him for a little while."

Hermione knew they had only been trying to make her feel better, but the fact that she had gone to all that trouble and now there wasn't even any proof, only made her feel worse.

Yet... the more she thought about it, Professor Snape was hardly the sort of person to hide from anything.

Something about this did not sit right with her.

"Excuse me, Professor," Hermione said timidly as she approached McGonagall once the bell had rung. All of the other students, apart from Harry and Ron, were heading on to lunch.

"Yes, Miss Granger?"

Hermione fidgeted. "Have you seen Professor Snape? I mean, do you know where he is?"

Professor McGonagall gave all three of them a good, long stare. "He's out," she said finally.

"Out where?" asked Ron.

"That's none of your business, Mr. Weasley."

"What? Why not?"

McGonagall made an exaggerated motion of rolling her eyes. "It's something to do with the Order," she finally hissed quietly. "He left yesterday afternoon and will not be back for a few days. Now, if you three will please stop badgering me with questions and run on to lunch. I have entirely too many things to do and another class to teach."

Harry, Hermione and Ron looked at each other. Clearly, they were all thinking the same thing: Professor Snape had not touched the potion. They still had a chance.

"I'm famished," said Ron with a smile.

"Me too," said Harry.

"Goodbye, Professor McGonagall," said Hermione. "And thank you."

We still have a chance! Hermione thought gleefully as she felt a renewed burst of energy. She resisted the urge to squeal with triumph. After all, it was still only a chance.

It was a whole three days before Hermione saw Snape again. He came striding into the Great Hall and sat down at the staff table just as she was finishing her dinner.

Ron gave her an unnecessary prod in the side. "We have double Potions tomorrow," he said suggestively, raising his eyebrows and making her laugh.

"You think the... whatever, the Armadillo Bile, needs another coat?" Harry asked as they climbed the stairs to Gryffindor Tower.

Hermione shook her head. "No. I applied plenty the first time. It should keep for a while."

At least she hoped it would...

Everyone jumped as Professor Snape stormed through the door and then slammed it loudly behind him. His face was unnaturally flushed. His stride was halting, jerky—as though he could barely restrain his body from shaking all over. Hermione thought he looked faintly reminiscent of the little plastic animal toys she used to play with as a child. The ones that, when wound, would waddle funnily across flat surfaces.

Snape's jumpiness was so acute, in fact, that as he passed between the desks, his toe caught the edge of his robe and he stumbled violently. In the resulting flail of limbs and thinly muted curses, Snape reached out and grabbed onto the nearest surface he could find in order to avoid what surely would have been a spectacular face-plant. Unfortunately, that surface turned out to be the back of Pansy Parkinson's neck.

"Oooow!" Pansy squealed, trying to wriggle out of Snape's tight hold as he was momentarily forced into a renewed struggle for balance, his dark robes all a tangle.

Once he steadied himself and somewhat re-ordered his attire, Snape's face immediately turned a very unflattering shade of puce. His chest puffed in and out with unusually quick breaths and he quickly snatched back his hand the moment he looked down and realized whom he had grabbed. "S-sorry," he stammered. Then he looked erratically around for someone to blame. "KEEP YOUR BLOODY BOOKS ON YOUR DESK, THOMAS!" he roared, waving his wand and sending a book that had been sitting nowhere near his feet soaring into the back of Dean's shoulder.

Snape waved his wand again and the blackboard at the front of the class became nearly solid white with notes. "Begin!" he barked and went to sit at his desk.

Hermione felt half a room-full of eyes turn on her.

Dean was rubbing his shoulder but flashed her a quick thumbs-up. Seamus turned around in his seat to give her a full-on salute, and next to her, Harry's face was nearly purple from the effort of trying to contain his laughter. Ron had wisely hidden his head behind an open textbook, though she could see his shoulders clearly shaking, and he eventually dissolved into a series of very suspicious sounding coughs.

Hermione smiled. This was going to be fun.

Over the course of the next hour, Hermione, Harry, Ron, and the rest of their fellow Gryffindors, spent very little time on their projects and quite a lot of time playing tricks on Snape (then laughing themselves silly under their desks).

Seamus made it his particular job to wave his wand every five minutes or so and send diced pieces of frog liver splattering onto the back of Snape's chair when he wasn't looking. Every time Snape jumped, or whipped his head around, looking furiously for the source of these mysterious assaults, Dean would reward Seamus with a discreet high-five under the table.

Harry, who was feeling especially bold, played a very dangerous game of move-the-ink-pot. Using the subtlest of movements and only during the loudest of moments (usually when Neville managed to make his potion emit strange sounds of puffs of questionable smoke), Harry would magically nudge Snape's inkpot so that he missed it with his quill when he went to dip it. Hermione rather thought this was Harry taking his life in his own hands, and was fully prepared to make a dash for the exit the moment Snape cottoned on. But after Snape's fifth failed attempt to properly wet his quill, he made a strangled sort of growl and with a sharp thunk, threw down his hand and buried the quill's tip halfway into the desktop.

At Harry's sudden expression of shock and the hurried way in which he immediately bent over his cauldron with an air of overdramatic concentration, Hermione had to pinch herself to keep from laughing aloud.

After a while, Snape took to lecturing instead of note-taking, and asked the class (mostly rhetorical) questions. When Hermione answered one (correctly as always), instead of sneering with a "know-it-all" insult, Snape had nodded and blurted, "Excellent, Miss Granger," before he could stop himself. Then, he shook his head, frowning with confusion. "That is, I mean to say, it is... adequate, I suppose," he amended.

"I guess that means the Veritaserum part is working!" Hermione whispered excitedly to Harry, who gave her an alarmingly mischievous smile in return.

Lavender and Parvati spent most of the period whispering behind their cauldron and giggling quietly to themselves. Apparently they had been devising a plan, for when the class walked up to turn in their bottled potions mid-way through the lesson, Lavender "accidentally" tripped and fell flat across Professor Snape's shoulders, purposefully ending up in a very provocative position.

With Lavender's breasts mere inches from his face, and amid barely muffled peals of laughter from the students, Professor Snape rocketed out of his chair, consequently causing Lavender to tumble rather ungracefully to the floor. He made no move to help her up. "Watch where you're going, Brown," he hissed, straightening his waistcoat indignantly. His face was noticeably more flushed and even his voice was starting to sound suspiciously high-strung and wobbly.

"Oh, Professor?" said Parvati in a voice that Hermione had only heard her use when she was trying to get Harry's attention. "Oh, Professor Snape?"

Snape's head snapped in her direction, his eyes blazing. "What is it, Miss Patil?"

Parvati seemed to lose her nerve once directly under his furious gaze, and she paused. "Um, nothing," she said quietly.

Lavender, who had just regained her feet with the all-too-enthusiastic help of Ron, rolled her eyes. Clearly, she did not appreciate being the only one to take the dive (literally).

After a quick inventory of all the faces currently staring at him, which were various shades of purple from the mighty struggle of containing their laughter, Snape closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Leave your projects on my desk, I have something to take care of and I will not be back before the bell rings," he said, very quickly, as though he were afraid that his voice might crack before he could get it all out.

"What's the matter with you, Professor?" said Pansy sharply behind him, making him jump nearly a foot in the air and fling out his arm. This action then caused the bright orange contents of Neville's beaker to splatter directly into Blaise Zabini's face. His nose almost immediately began to sprout a frighteningly large and hairy purple wart.

"I AM PERFECTLY FINE!" Snape roared. "ZABINI—HOSPITAL WING! CLASS DISSMISSED!" He paused only a split-second to snatch a container of something off his desk (that, belatedly, Hermione thought looked very much like a vial of Dreamless Sleep), before retreating out the door faster than Hermione had ever seen him walk in his life. A cursing Zabini, supported by a rather plump Slytherin girl, followed immediately in his wake.

The class waited a few seconds, just to make sure Snape was truly gone, and then they exploded with laughter. The Gryffindors did, at least. The Slytherins looked sufficiently confused and not at all happy that they seemed to be out of a joke.

"What did you do?" sneered Malfoy. "Slip something into his pumpkin juice?"

They all took one more look at Hermione and then burst into renewed peals of laughter.

Hermione saw Snape again only briefly during dinner. Brief because the instant he sat down at the staff table, he seemed to notice the embarrassing number of stares directed his way and immediately excused himself.

"Brilliant, Hermione—absolutely brilliant!" crowed Seamus, clapping her on the shoulder.

"I'll say," agreed Dean with a chuckle. "That wasn't even my book Snape chucked at me." He held up a large textbook with GOYLE written in huge, untidy letters on the side. Dean smiled. "I think I might have found an early Deathday present for Moaning Myrtle."

"And did you see what Neville's potion did to that prat, Zabini?" Ron said, laughing and giving a blushing Neville a friendly shove. "I heard Madam Pomfrey told him his nose wouldn't be back to normal for weeks!"

No table in the Great Hall that night was half as loud as the Gryffindors', and it wasn't until dinner was almost over that Hermione realized she had a detention scheduled for the evening.

Hermione glanced at her watch and let out a shriek. She was already two minutes late! Snape was going to murder her. Hermione swept anything she thought was hers off the table into her book bag, and then took off at top speed for the dungeons.

She arrived, panting, no more than a minute later, and Snape snapped at her before she could even reached for the doorknob.

"You're late, Granger! I—I just tacked on an extra t-twenty minutes."

Despite the fact that Snape had just stammered, Hermione still needed to take a calming breath before entering. It was worth it, she thought determinedly. A few detentions is not the end of the world. It was all worth it. Then she opened the door and walked inside.

Hermione could barely restrain a smile as she approached Professor Snape's desk. He was sitting bolt upright in his chair, his hands blatantly shaking and his face flushed a deep, rosy pink.

"Not t-too close, Granger," he said, waving her off as she neared him. His nose was twitching nervously and he seemed infuriated by his undermining stutter.

"What would you like me to do... Professor?" Hermione replied, dropping the last word a few octaves and delighting in how it seemed to make him squirm.

Snape wiped a hand across his forehead, beads of sweat now gathering at his temples. "I—Do what? Oh, yes, your detention." He dabbed his face again with the back of his sleeve as he looked around, seemingly unable to remember what it was he had intended to have her do. Finally he ground out, "I don't care, Granger. Come up with s-some—something—productive yourself. I've g-got to check on something in the back."

Hermione giggled quietly as Snape left, and gave herself a mental pat on the back. Even though the results of the day had not been so dramatic as she had hoped, watching Snape disappear into the back room, the words "mischief managed" came unbidden to her mind and she couldn't help feeling that she would have made Fred and George very proud.

Cleaning shelves, Hermione immediately decided, would be the best option for her detention. It was time consuming, boring, but also "productive." And she wouldn't have to pickle anything. (Urgh!)

Carefully, she began to remove contents from the shelves one by one, taking the time to place each of them in order on the table so she wouldn't mix anything up.

Then an idea struck her, and, with a sly smirk, she tore off a few of the labels on the bottles (first making sure that they weren't anything of great importance).

"Professor Snape?" Hermione called sweetly once she had finished.

"What?" came the disembodied snarl from the other room.

Hermione held back a snicker. "Some of your ingredients seem to be missing their labels and I can't identify one of them. Could you take a look, please?"

Maybe now I can really test out that Veritaserum, she thought gleefully.

After a long pause, Snape came stumbling out, his hands clenched in tight fists by his sides, his face twisted into a look of intense discomfort and barely suppressed embarrassment. He had discarded his outer robes and his vest was unbuttoned, making him look surprisingly disheveled. Hermione had never known him to be so untidy.

"Pathetic," Snape growled, glaring at her as he made a grab for one of the containers she had set out on the table. He looked over at her again as Hermione moved in so that she was standing a mere two feet away.

Snape cleared his throat and loosened the top button of his collar. "If you could just back—back up a bit, Granger—Stop ruddy crowding me."

Hermione took a deliberately tiny step backwards. "Is that better?" she asked coyly.

Snape continued to stare at the jar in his hand, unable to identify it. Even something as basic as powdered Gila scales seemed beyond him. "N-no. A bit more," he stammered.

Hermione bit her lip to keep from laughing as she took another tiny step. "How's that?" she asked, hoping she wasn't pushing her luck.

Snape was still staring at the jar, jaw twitching, frustration written plainly all over his face. "Yes — fine — that's — yes — very good," he growled, then cleared his throat as he continued to blink the sweat out of his eyes. Finally he nodded. "Chameleon fins — Lizard — I mean scales," he snapped, holding out the jar for her.

Hermione was nearly delirious with all the laughter she was forcing herself to withhold. What a perfect revenge this was! Hah! Now he was the foolish nitwit for a change. Evenmore fun than I imagined — Mischief managedindeed! she thought triumphantly to herself.

Right. Now... what sort of embarrassing questions could she ask him? Maybe she should start with his school days, or no his love life, that was sure to yield some entertaining stories. Then again, perhaps she could ask him about that time that he—

But Hermione didn't get to finish that thought, for just as she reached out to take the container from Snape's hand, he gave a sharp hiss and dropped it, immediately using that same hand to clamp across his left forearm.

The bottle fell and exploded in a shower of glass at Hermione's feet. She didn't spare it so much as a thought.

All of her attention was now riveted on the man in front of her.

Snape's eyes were wide and his entire body trembled freely. "Not like this," he breathed, and for the first time in all her years at Hogwarts, Hermione saw a look of terror flicker across Severus Snape's face. Pure, blind, unrestrained terror.

In usual Snape fashion, that look was gone an instant later and his face once more smoothed over into his customary expressionless mask. But just that one split-second was all it took to turn what had once been a game into the most dangerous, reckless, foolish thing Hermione had ever done.

How could she have been so stupid. How could she have been so selfish, so thoughtless as to addle the senses of the Order's most valuable spy? Snape couldn't go to Voldemort in this condition. He could barely even recognize his own ingredients, let alone protect his mind from one of the most skilled Legilimens in the world!

What had she done?

Hermione opened her mouth to say something, anything, that might explain herself.

But before she could utter a single word, Snape snatched the sleeve of her robes, pulled her close, glared intently into her eyes, snapped, "Inform Dumbledore," turned, and was gone.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 6 of 35

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