Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 9 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

Hermione was getting very tired of waking up in the hospital wing. In fact, she was almost beginning to wonder if she might surpass Harry in number of hours spent under Madam Pomfrey's tiresomely watchful eye - and all in a matter of weeks, no less.

It was not unusual for her to feel disoriented when she first woke after an accident (she was hardly a stranger to them), but this time it was different. This time she didn't even have the faintest idea why she was there.

Slowly, Hermione opened her eyes and turned over to find Ginny Weasley sitting in a chair by the bed, humming quietly as she peeled an orange.

"What happened?" Hermione croaked.

Ginny looked startled, nearly dropping her orange. Then she smiled. "Good morning," she said cheerily, setting the fruit down on Hermione's beside table. "Sick of these springy old beds yet?"

Hermione laughed weakly. "Yes." Her eyebrows furrowed. "But…"


"Why am I here?"

Ginny winced apologetically. "Sorry, I should have assumed... I don't exactly know all the details myself. Madam Pomfrey said you were sleepwalking and–"

"Was I really?" Hermione groaned. She vaguely remembered having gone to sleep without taking her potion—a little experiment, just to see whether or not the dreams had stopped. Obviously they hadn't.

Hermione's head began to pound and she closed her eyes again, wishing she could just sink right through the mattress. Her entire body felt as though it had been run over by a five-ton truck. "What happened?" she moaned. "Did I fall down a flight of stairs or something?"

"Two, actually, according to Professor Snape."

Hermione stomach gave an unpleasant lurch and her eyes snapped open. "I'm sorry, what was that?"

"I said you fell down two flights of stairs."

"No, the bit afterwards. I thought you said Professor Snape."

Ginny made face. "Yes, him. You wouldn't believe how rude he was when I asked–"

"Ginny, why does Professor Snape know how many flights of stairs I fell down?"

Ginny sighed and gave Hermione a consoling pat on the hand. "He was the one who found you last night. Apparently he startled you and you fainted, falling all the way down the main staircase. If you don't mind me saying, you really do have the most rotten luck."

Hermione pulled the blankets over her face and groaned again.

How did these things happen?

Once again Hermione found herself back in Professor Snape's lab, cleaning shelves and re-labeling bottles.

The nerve - the idiocy - that bastard. She had saved his life, he nearly took hers, and yet he still expected her to fulfill her four remaining detentions! Hermione took a deep, calming breath. This was fine. She could do this. She was over him. No more silly, smitten, schoolgirl nitwit. For Heaven's sake, she hoped not, at least. It was a sure sign that something needed to change when a person's behavior revolted even herself.

Snape was a jerk, Hermione was tired of it, and now she was moving on. If this hadn't "cured" her of her infatuation, then surely there was little hope of anything else doing the trick.

Though... she did seem to be catching his eyes more often than usual. And every time she did, her stomach gave a funny little jump of excitement. Finally, after about the fifth time of hurriedly and awkwardly looking away, Hermione decided to just keep her head down and not look in his direction at all.

She was determined to do her work, stay quiet, and for once in what seemed like forever, actually leave the room without having some sort of embarrassing outburst. Honestly, it had been a while since she had acted like a normal, non-hysterical human being around him.

Hermione finished labeling a jar of newt tails and lazily reached for the next bottle. Then, just as her hand closed around the container, she froze, her eyes growing wide and round, her breath all but stopping in her throat.

The jar she was holding was very familiar. Very familiar and strangely sticky...

"That's Armadillo Bile, Miss Granger. Can you honestly not recognize — WATCH IT!"

Hermione gave a yelp and dropped the crystal container on the floor, where it exploded in a shower of glass and yellow-orange liquid.

Already, she could feel her heart quickening and her cheeks beginning to flush.

"What's wrong with you?" Snape growled, throwing her a rag. "Clean that up. And five points from Gryffindor."

Hermione picked up the rag with shaking hands, trying desperately to ignore her thundering heartbeat and the way that Snape's deep, stormy voice all of a sudden sent euphoric shivers down her spine.

How could she have been so stupid!

"Miss Granger," Snape hissed after a short pause.

Hermione gulped, her stomach quivering at the sound of her name being spoken. "Y-yes?"

"Is something wrong?"

"Yes," she replied before she even knew what had left her mouth.

The veritaserum!

Snape raised his eyebrows, waiting for her continue. "Is it something of which I should be informed?"

"Yes," Hermione said again and then clapped a hand over her mouth, squeezing her eyes shut. This isn't happening, this isn't happening…

"Well," Snape eventually snapped. "What is it?"

Before she had the chance to say something else she knew she was going to regret, Hermione leapt to her feet, snatched her book bag off her chair, muttered a very breathy "I have to go," and then bolted out the door as fast as her feet could carry her.

So much for a non-hysterical exit.

That was probably her worst yet.

Hermione did not go to breakfast the next morning, taking every possible precaution she could in order to avoid her fellow classmates. Fortunately, this task proved a lot easier owing to the fact that it was Saturday, and she was therefore not forced to sit all day in a classroom filled with people who would love nothing more than to make a complete fool out of her (for example, Draco Malfoy).

She simply hid away in the library and read for hours upon hours, trying desperately to ignore her flushed, heated face, her pounding heart, and an almost overwhelming desire to run to Snape's office and confess absolutely everything.

Hermione obsessed a little more than was probably healthy about how she must have looked, running out of his office with her hands clamped over her mouth. He must think her a maniac. How was she possibly going to explain her behavior?

"Sorry, Professor Snape, it was the potion that made me do it," she might say.

"What potion?" he would undoubtedly reply.

"Oh, just a little something I secretly concocted in order to ruin your reputation and make you look like a dunderhead in front of the entire school. Shame it didn't work out."

Somehow, Hermione did not think that would blow over very well.

But what should she do? She had to come up with an excuse. And even if she managed one, should she approach him first? Or should she wait for him to approach her? (She couldn't help thinking that the latter was a highly unlikely probability). Hermione had always been a very pro-active person at heart, and yet due to these recent circumstances, she seemed to be a bit lacking in the self-confidence department. She desperately wished she could go back in time and erase everything that had happened in the past few weeks. Damn it all to hell, she missed that time turner.

Fortunately, her most recent mistake (namely, blundering into her own booby-trap), wore off around mid-day, just in time for Hermione to hurry to the great hall and eat lunch with her friends.

Of course, if she had known what was going to happen that afternoon, she might not have been quite so keen to hurry.

Ron Weasley certainly was acting strange.

Hermione frowned as Ron, yet again, looked hurriedly away and ignored her request for him to pass the strawberry jam.

In fact, everyone seemed to be giving her odd looks. But only out of the corners of their eyes, and when they thought she wasn't paying attention. Somehow, Hermione got the feeling that she was in the middle of some large, elaborate joke that everyone else had neglected to let her in on.

"What's the matter with all of you!" she finally snapped. "Is there something happening, or about to happen, that I should know about? What, have I sprouted tentacles or-"

Ginny jumped up from the table. "Let's go for a walk," she said suddenly. "It's such a nice day outside."

Harry and Neville immediately followed suit.

"Yes, it is rather nice."

"And I've been meaning to pop by the greenhouses."

Ron stood as well, though he did not offer any excuse. His face was very red.

As the five of them set out on a leisurely stroll through the humid, gloomy, overcast grounds, Hermione relentlessly attempted to weasel out of someone exactly what they were hiding from her.

Finally, once they reached the pond, Harry, Ginny, and Neville all simultaneously remembered somewhere they had to be and made an immediate about-face towards the castle, leaving Ron and Hermione alone.

Hermione watched them go with narrowed eyes.

"Well," she said at last. "That was weird."

Ron mumbled a quiet agreement, his face still flushed.

Hermione turned and gave him a piercing look. "What is it with you, Ron? You've been acting like this all morning."

Ron closed his eyes and took a deep breath as though to brace himself for something. Then he looked back at her with a very strange expression on his face, one which Hermione had very rarely seen directed at her before, and had sincerely hoped that she would never see from Ron.

Hesitantly, and with such a sincere, bewildered awkwardness it was sweetly painful, Ron reached down and took Hermione's hand up in his own.

"Hermione... there's something I've been wanting to tell you for, well, for a long time, now, I guess…"

Oh dear... Ooooh dear...

"You see – I — er — well, that is to say —

No, Ron, don't do it, don't say it, don't—

"I fancy you, Hermione... as more than a friend."


Then, as Ron then leaned in for what Hermione could only assume would be his very best, heartfelt attempt at love's first kiss, she desperately tried think of a way to thoroughly and convincingly reject Ron without him actually feeling rejected.

She had the sneaking suspicion that this was not going to end well.

Severus Snape had, of course, known about Granger's little potion all along. After all, what sort of spy would he be if he couldn't recognize a less-than-mediocre booby trap sloppily placed in such an obvious manner by a silly eighteen-year-old girl?

Severus snorted as he glanced out a nearby window and saw said girl stumbling through the grounds after her friends.

He was marginally aggrieved that she had left so hurriedly the other night. He hadn't even had a chance to take away points, or experience the unique pleasure of watching a deranged know-it-all make a fool out of herself.

Then again, just knowing that the whole thing had blown up in her face was nearly as satisfying.

Severus made to turn away from the window, but paused when he saw something that made him feel extremely... odd.

Ron Weasley was holding Granger's hand in a suspiciously intimate manner.

Severus's dark eyes narrowed. Had there been... developments... in the Weasley-Granger-will-they-won't-they battle of teenage hormones of which he was only now just becoming aware?

His stomach churned at the thought.

Then, to his ever-mounting horror, Weasley leaned in for what Severus could only assume would be the most pathetic excuse for a kiss the world had ever seen, and he was about to turn hurriedly away in disgust when he noticed that Granger actually seemed to be turning away in disgust herself.

To say Severus was surprised would have been a gross understatement.

He watched as Granger pushed at Weasley's shoulders, obviously trying to be gentle, but also just as obviously trying desperately to avoid having the boy's freckled lips slobbering all over her face.

Weasley, however, was not heading her protests. He continued in his attempts to kiss her, his mind obviously clouded by a temporary yet fervent hormone-induced insanity. His hands were holding onto her shoulders like steel clamps and Granger seemed to be almost hysterical in her efforts to break free.

Severus felt bile rise in the back of his throat. Without warning his every instinct was screaming for him to hurl a terrible hex out the window and directly into Ron Weasley's left ear. Severus actually had his wand halfway out of his pocket when Granger all of a sudden gained freedom of her arm, gave the boy a sharp, solid slap, and then stormed off towards the castle, bushy hair flying behind her and her face red as a firecracker.

Severus looked down at the fist that was still clenched in a white-knuckled grip on his wand and tried to asses exactly what had come over him.

He had very nearly pulled his wand on a student — something he had never done in all his years at Hogwarts (save a few mandatory exceptions involving, of course, Harry Potter).

What was wrong with him? There was something different about the feeling welling up in his gut and he couldn't, for the life of him, place what it was.

He felt so... odd.

There wasn't another word for it.

He just felt very... odd.

It was late, Hermione was out of bed, and, once again, it was completely involuntary.

Even the Dreamless Sleep was no longer doing its part. That is, it was working in the sense that she did not have any dreams, but clearly that memo was no longer being passed on to the rest of her body, for she was obviously still sleepwalking.

Hermione rolled her eyes when she peeked out from beneath a strange white curtain and realized that she had come to rest beneath the professor's dinning table in the Great Hall.

She glanced at the nearest clock and sighed. At least it was still early, just shy of three in the morning, so she still had plenty of time to get back to her dorm before daybreak. This would also mean that she had to sneak her way through the eerie, tomb-like hallways without even a wand to light her way.

She always hated that part.

Hermione stopped and cocked her head on her way out of the Great Hall as she heard incoherent noises coming from the grounds.

She could hear people screaming... There was a strange hissing sound... And was someone yelling…


At that, Hermione broke instantly into a run and raced as fast as she could to the front doors of the castle. She threw them open and felt her legs nearly give out beneath her as she was met with a shocking, dizzying sight: The Forbidden Forest was on fire.

Enormous, crackling flames towered hundreds of feet into the sky as columns of ominous smoke blotted out the stars. Screams were coming from what appeared to be the entire staff of Hogwarts and two thirds of its students. They were all running about with gallons of water shooting out of the tips of their wands as they desperately tried to control the rapidly growing flames. Now she knew what the hissing sound had been.

Without another moment lost, Hermione turned and catapulted herself as fast as she could back up the stairs towards her dormitory to retrieve her wand.

How long had this been going on? Surely not more than an hour or two, or someone would have seen her sleepwalking. Then again, with all the people running around, she doubted anyone would have noticed her.

Hermione blazed through the Gryffindor common room, sparing only a quick glance to note that it was mostly filled with First and Second Years, plus one remaining Prefect to keep them calm (Neville, of course). She had a brief moment of panic when she didn't immediately find her wand on the bedside table, but after a quick scan of the room, she found it poking out from beneath her bed. She snatched it up, and was off again, racing through the castle with only one thought in her mind: Voldemort was on the offensive.

Who else could it be? This wasn't just any ordinary forest fire (not that the Forbidden Forest was ever prone to anything ordinary, least of all something as destructive as a fire), and there was no way that any of the students, or even most of the staff for that matter, could be capable of unleashing such an attack. There was very strong magic that protected that forest and Hermione shuddered to think what kind of power it had taken to penetrate it.

Hermione flew across the grounds, the tail end of her nightgown flapping in the wind, her nose soon engulfed by the thick, pungent smell of smoke.

"Everyone, be careful!" Dumbledore was shouting calmly to the frenzied crowd. He stood at the edge of the forest, still in his powder blue nightgown and cap, spraying a torrent of water in a zigzag pattern across the blazing trees in front of him. "If we are going to do this, we must all work together. Minerva, if you could please direct some of your seventh years in that direction. Yes. Right there, where it's spreading to the grass — Oh dear, Miss Patil, your slipper seems to have caught fire. Be careful now! Everyone be careful and work together!"

Hermione rushed to help Parvati put her slipper out, and before the flustered girl could even stammer a thank you, Hermione was already off again. She rushed over to help a group of Third Year Hufflepuffs who were struggling vainly with an enormous, uprooted tree shrub that was rolling like a blazing tumbleweed halfway across the grounds. They extinguished it, and after pausing a moment to correct a little girl's grip on her wand, Hermione then went to join the rest of the Gryffindor Seventh Years, who, though they struggled mightily, where not making much progress.

So the night wore on, everyone fighting the fire with relentless determination, taking shifts as the wounded nursed their burns or simply took a rest. They seemed to be fighting a losing battle. The fire was simply too big, and there just weren't enough of them.

At one point, during the long night, Hermione found herself working nearly shoulder to shoulder with Professor Snape. The whole time, the only thing he deigned to say to her was that "it figured she would be out of bed in time to save the day."

She ignored him though, and pressed on, her body simply too tired and sweaty to care a single jot about what he said, dripping sarcasm not withstanding.

Finally, after a solid hour of blazing heat and pungent smoke, Hermione forced herself to escape a few yards away from the fire and take a break, collapsing on the grass, and greedily breathing in the fresh oxygen. It was then that she heard something in the bushes. Something that sounded like a small animal crying for help. Hermione felt her heart squeeze in her chest.

She realized then that she had not seen any wildlife running from the forest in terror. The fire was close to the outskirts, so it was entirely possible that all the animals had run in the opposite direction. However, it appeared that one animal had not.

After only a split-second of indecision, Hermione leapt to her feet and rushed towards the sound, hoping she could reach the creature in time before it either suffocated from the smoke or was roasted alive by the still rapidly spreading flames.

Her nightgown snagged on branches and thorns as she pushed farther into the woods, following the pitiful cries. Whatever it was also seemed to be thrashing around a great deal, as though it had become tangled in the brush somehow. Maybe it was a rabbit, she thought, or a deer. The poor thing!

At last, Hermione saw the bushes moving wildly back and forth a few feet in front of her, and as she approached (warily of course, for threatened animals were always very dangerous), she whispered lumos, sending a shaft of bright light piercing through the smoke clouds that hung in the air.

There was a brief moment of silence in which Hermione felt that somehow, something had gone very, very wrong. And then, something erupted out of the bushes. It was a mass of teeth and claws and it gave out a roar that shook Hermione's very bones. All she saw was a pair of big, red, glowing eyes before a club-like paw snatched her feet out from under her and dragged her, face down and screaming for all she was worth, deep into the heart of the Forbidden Forest.

Whatever the monster was - it was too dark to tell- the thing brought Hermione directly back to its lair. A dark, moldy cave littered with animal bones and half-mutilated carcasses.

Hermione felt waves of terror crashing through her, shaking her limbs and paralyzing her thoughts. She made several wild attempts to lash out at her attacker with her wand, but all of the spells she managed to stammer out merely glanced off its thick hide without effect.

The instant the monster reached the mouth of its cave, it whipped around and snatched Hermione up in its front paws. She wrestled desperately with its enormous claws as it gnashed its teeth mere inches from her nose. Its grip was like iron, and she was already near exhaustion from fighting the fire. Finally, knowing that she had run out of ideas, Hermione did the only thing she could think of — she thrust her arm out and stabbed the point of her wand as hard as she could into the middle of one of the monster's enormous red eyes.

The thing howled in pain and dropped her about five feet to the ground, where one of her knees gave a terrible pop and then crumpled beneath her.

Sobbing with both pain and fear, Hermione scrambled out of the cave as fast she could on all fours, her left leg dragging uselessly behind her, her knee searing so sharply it felt as though she had been stabbed with a white-hot poker. Hermione screamed at the top of her lungs for help, but she knew it was futile. She was too far away for anyone to hear her. Only a faint glow of the forest fire could be seen on the horizon.

Just as she reached the outside of the cave, Hermione's nightgown caught on a rock and jarred her knee again, making her whole world spin and her stomach heave. She turned her head, wretched dryly, took a deep, shuddering breath, and then surged forward.

She heard a terrible sucking sound from behind her, and could only assume that it was the sound of the monster pulling her wand out of its eye socket.

Knowing she couldn't have more than a few second's head start on the monster, Hermione doubled her efforts and managed to make it at least twenty more feet before her attacker exploded out of the cave, its enormous, hulking animal form nearly blotting out the weak sunlight that was just beginning to peek through the canopy of the trees.

As the thing crashed towards her, bellowing angrily, its one remaining eye glowing ominously, Hermione knew that she was done for. This was it. After all she had faced in the past, all her narrow brushes with death at the hands of Voldemort and his followers, this was how her life was going to end. Bleeding, helpless, terrified, and totally alone.

Then, just as the monster closed the distance between them and leapt into the air in an arc that would most definitely lead it teeth first into Hermione's middle, a green light erupted from the woods behind her and blasted directly into the monster's face, throwing it backwards against an enormous pine tree with a sickening crack.

The thing fell into a heap on the ground and then, thankfully, was still.

Hermione heard the sound of quick, pattering footsteps on the grass. A wand light fell upon her face. She blinked away the glare and found herself looking up into the dark, blazing eyes of her savior — Severus Snape.

"Granger, what the bloody hell are you doing," he demanded roughly. "Are you utterly deranged."

It took Hermione a minute before she could produce anything out of her mouth that sounded remotely like words. "My — my knee," she gasped, clutching at her leg, "it s-sort of — I heard a pop — And how did you — I didn't — I was so scared — I thought I was going to—"

"Yes, yes, alright, calm down," Snape growled testily. "You're knee was it? Hold still."

Snape stooped to the ground next to Hermione and she felt the tip of his wand against her still steadily throbbing knee. There was a small, blue-purple glow and then the pain slowly receded, her leg soon feeling healthy and whole again.

Snape helped her shakily to her feet.

Even though she knew her body was physically fine, and that she was safe at last, Hermione could not seem to pull a proper breath. Her whole body felt as though it was having a nervous breakdown, and she was shaking uncontrollably, aftershocks, perhaps, of the earthquakes of fear that had so recently wracked her body.

"Is something else wrong?" Snape said a bit testily. "I thought you said it was your knee. Why are you still—"

"I just, I just can't believe I'm alive!"

Snape snorted. "If I had been a moment later, Miss Granger, that might not have been the case."

Perhaps it was a side effect from her near-death experience, or perhaps she was a bit deranged, but whatever the reason, Hermione threw her arms around Snape's neck and sobbed into his shoulder, "I know, I know! Oh thank you, Professor, thank you, thank you!"

Snape stiffened beneath her, his arms going ramrod straight at his sides, and his breath catching in his throat. Surprisingly, he did not pull away. He let her go on for a minute, possibly aware that any move he made to disentangle himself might tip her completely over the edge and she would never see anything but the insides of St. Mungo's for the rest of her life. (And while that thought did not sound all together displeasing to Severus, he thought it wise to at least make an attempt to bring his student back to Hogwarts in more or less one piece).

As the sun continued to shed increasing increments of its light through the trees, Snape squinted against the early morning rays and decided that it was time to go. "Alright, Miss Granger," he said at last, firmly, but not altogether unkindly. "If you could... detach yourself. We need to leave this forest before something else, something worse, shows up."

Suddenly aware of exactly who her arms were currently clinging to, Hermione hurriedly pulled away. "Yes, I'm sorry, terribly sorry, I don't know what came over me, please forgive — Wait — What do you mean something worse?"

Snape never had the chance to answer, because just at that moment there came a crackle of branches, a deep throaty chuckle, and then out of the woods stepped a fully robed, fully masked, Death Eater.

Hermione nearly collapsed all over again.

"Excellent, Severus," said the new arrival, his voice tinged with an accent that Hermione thought sounded vaguely familiar. "Unexpected, but I dare say well met. I thought my fire a mere distraction, a test of power. I had no idea it might smoke out something useful. A Hogwarts Mudblood, all alone, with no one to hear her screams. Well done, Severus, good catch." Then, with another guttural laugh, the man took off his mask to reveal himself as none other than the newly appointed Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Turnus Frend.

Hermione glanced over to see that Snape had gone very, very still.

"Frend," Snape said quietly, a dangerous chill in his voice. "I find it... surprising that you have the nerve to face me."

Frend made a motion in the air as if to sweep his words away. "No hard feelings. You aren't one to be petty. You'll be amply rewarded, of course - and how did I know you would react to such a potion?"

"Poison," Snape growled.

Frend rolled his ice-blue eyes. "All the same. We needed, our Master, Severus, desired an antidote, and seeing as you appear to be standing before me in perfect health, I assume you were able to conjure one."

Snape remained silent.

Hermione barely dared to breathe.

Frend smiled a terrible, chilling smile. "I'll be expecting some of that shortly, if you don't mind. Actually, mind all you want, but I expect it."

"We'll see," Snape replied, his lip curling.

At last, Frend's gaze turned to Hermione, and she could feel her knees knocking together beneath her nightgown.

"This filthy creature," he purred. "What is your name. Granger isn't it? I recognize the hair. A friend of Potter's."

Frend began to walk towards Hermione, his body seeming to her almost as enormous as the monster that still lay in a bleeding, broken heap on the ground twenty feet away.

"Doesn't it surprise you, girl, to know that your beloved professor is one of our most devoted Death Eaters?"

Shit. She had forgotten she wasn't supposed to know that.

Quickly, Hermione tried to come up with a response that might cover her lack of surprise. "I've... had my suspicions," she said at last, giving Snape a dark look. "No, it does not surprise me."

Frend roared with laughter. "Well, Severus, it doesn't seem like you've made many friends at Hogwarts, does it?"

"Go crawl back into whatever hole in the ground you came from, Frend," Snape hissed. "I'll take care of the Mudblood myself. I caught her, she's mine."

Frend stopped laughing, though there was still a cruel smile spread across his wide face. "No, I think not. I wouldn't want you to take credit for the results of my fire. We should bring her to our master together, don't you think?"

Hermione could not quite get her head around the gravity of what was happening, or what was about to happen.

Without warning, Frend pulled out his wand and pointed it directly at Hermione. With a sharp intake of breath, she turned and desperately tried to catch Snape's eye, hoping against hope that he was developing a plan—to get them out of there, to help her, save her, like she had saved him.

But he was not looking at her. In fact he did not appear to be looking at anything at all. He was simply staring off into the woods as though bored by the whole affair.

Look at me! Hermione screamed in her head. Look at me! Professor Snape, please look at me! Please tell me what to do! HELP ME! How could he do this to her?

"Stupify!" yelled Frend.

Hermione turned around just in time to see a flash of red light before everything went black.

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 9 of 35

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