Continuing Tales

A Light in the Fog

A Harry Potter Story
by turtlewexler

Part 28 of 29

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Leverage: A Christmas Tale

Albus stumbled into Hermione's shins as Scorpius advanced on him with a sword. Fortunately, the blade was made of foam, so it bounced off of her knees when Scorpius's blow missed its intended target. Albus hissed.

"Scorpius, please be careful," Astoria said. "I'm so sorry, Hermione."

"No, it's fine." Setting aside the thick manuscript she'd been reading, Hermione ruffled Albus's hair. "What are you two playing?"

"I'm the snake, and he's Uncle Neville," Albus said. He hissed again.

Neville blinked. "Blimey."

Draco mouthed something that looked like for fuck's sake.

"Yes, well, you look very heroic, darling, but let's keep the Sword of Gryffindor from slicing into our guests, shall we?" Astoria said. "Unless it's Aunt Daphne and she's being a cow."

Hermione had no idea what Draco had done to deserve Astoria. Not only had Astoria opened her home to Hermione's herd of Gryffindors (plus one Ravenclaw) while they waited for Severus to wake up, she had offered Hermione a draft copy of her biography of Rita Skeeter as a distraction.

Hermione stroked the now quiet charm on her bracelet. Draco had said it was best to let Severus wake up in his own time, and that time was taking ages.

"Here," George said, depositing a grinning Lily onto Hermione's lap. "Have a cuddle. It'll make the wait go faster."

"Is this a trick?" Hermione asked, narrowing her eyes at him. "Does she need her nappy changed, and that's why you're handing her off to me?"

George laughed. "Would I do such a thing?"

"Yes. Frequently."

The only response George gave was to drop a kiss first to the top of Hermione's head, then to Lily's before he abandoned them to help Albus and Scorpius cause mischief. Hermione sniffed Lily. Hmm. Seemed safe—just the powdery scent of a clean baby. And Lily really was a superior snuggler.

By some silent agreement, Harry and Ron plopped down on either side of Hermione. She offered them a smile as they both put an arm around her. Wrapped up in the comforting familiarity of her boys and the soft newness of Lily, she continued to wait for Severus to come back to her.


Severus marched down the rain-slicked path away from the Hog's Head. If only the barman hadn't caught him before the end. Urgency fizzed in his veins. He had to tell the Dark Lord what he'd managed to overhear. He—

An explosion of silver in his head sent Severus stumbling forward. As his face met the cobblestones with a painful thunk, that silver retreated to the edge of his sight to frame a series of visions. Each little flash dissolved before he could examine it too closely, giving way to the next one, and then the next one.

A blurry woman with dark curls hugged him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, Severus," she said. "I know how private you are. I won't pry too much… OK, I will, but just let me know whenever you need a break. And I promise—"

Severus stood on the upstairs landing of his house and listened to someone in the shower sing a Muggle song—though singing was a generous term for it. He stepped forward, and—

He lay in an unfamiliar bed with that same curly-haired woman, smiled at her indistinct face, and said, "I am a curmudgeon, though?" His stomach did a flip when she told him she wouldn't have him any other way.

Another bed materialised, this time in a room with vines climbing in through a window. Placing his hand on the woman's shoulder, he leaned in and touched his lips to hers in a brief kiss.

Under a sprig of mistletoe, no bed in sight, Severus clasped the woman to him as he kissed her in a way that was anything but brief. She tasted of coffee, honey, and cinnamon. Clutching at his shoulders, she returned his kiss.

Back in yet another bed, Severus trailed his mouth down the naked body of a woman with a mole on her left breast and a charm bracelet on her wrist. Gasping his name, she arched into his touch.

The light changed and their bodies shifted around, but it was the same bed, Severus thought. He lay surrounded by the scent of citrus as a sleep-rasped voice wished him good morning and a smooth hand slipped around his body to touch him. He caught a glimpse of those same curls as the woman nudged him onto his back.

Remorse and alarm replaced the warmth and safety that had been present in every other scene. The woman was still there, but (annoyingly) clothed and facing away from Severus. Her attention was focused on a lake window like the one in the Slytherin Common Room. A strange blond man looked at Severus with Lucius-grey eyes and said, "I need your help."

And then the man was gone—it was just Severus and the woman again, this time in a shower. He sank into her as too-hot water rained down on them.

Her dry hair tickled his nose. They were back in that bed, and the woman told Severus she loved him. Of all the absurd responses to such a declaration, he asked her to marry him.

Groaning, Severus forced his eyes open. Grit dug into a scratch on his face, courtesy of a jagged cobblestone. Even as the worst headache he'd ever had pulsed through his skull, he was left with a lingering sensation of something that was both beautifully comforting and completely foreign. It was like discovering that somewhere he'd never visited felt like home.

None of it could possibly be real. As he hauled himself off of the ground, Severus started formulating potential ways to test those visions. But first, he had to speak to the Dark Lord about this prophecy.

Green, green, green. Every last vision was true, according to the potion Severus had created. Swiping a hand through his greasy hair, he shuddered. Was he a Seer? Who was this mystery woman? The only person in his circle of acquaintances with dark, curly hair was decidedly not a potential candidate.

A different pounding joined in with the rapid thud in his chest: someone's fist against his front door. Lucius stood on the doorstep, regarding him with a grave expression. Beckoning his friend inside, Severus tried to shake off several days of little sleep and constant brewing.

"I apologise for interrupting," Lucius said. "I won't stay long. Have you heard the news? The Dark Lord has discovered an unborn child who will fit the terms of the prophecy. Two children, I should say, but he is only truly interested in one of them."

"I hadn't heard, no," Severus said.

"It's Potter's child."

Lucius would neither express nor feel any regret—not for the loss of a Muggle-born—but his ever-icy exterior did falter, just a little. It was a barely discernible cringe, a near flirtation with sympathy. The warning was meant to give Severus a chance to prepare, so he could more easily bury his feelings upon facing the inevitable blow.

Severus swallowed the bile that burned the back of his throat. His fault. It was all his fault.

"That's reassuring," he said. "No brat of Potter's can possibly be capable of vanquishing the Dark Lord."

As the Dark Lord's hunt for the Potters began and Severus transformed himself into Dumbledore's spy, Severus's unexplained visions of dark hair and contentment were shoved to the back of his mind. They would remain there for quite some time.


"Take whatever might be of use to you," Lucius said, a flick of his wand igniting the torches on the dungeon walls. "Narcissa is insisting I have a clear out."

"Perhaps she has tired of competing with your wardrobe for space," Severus said. In the wavering light, he examined a dusty stack of books.

"Then why not simply build a new wing? She's being unreasonable."

A jumble of mangled gold caught Severus's attention. He had done extensive research on Time Turners in the years since the Dark Lord's fall, hoping to find some way to undo his foolish, foolish mistake. All of Lucius's Time Turners were broken, but the sand was still contained in its hourglasses. That could be of use. Severus would have to Occlude every moment he was at Hogwarts so Dumbledore didn't suspect his plan, but that would be a dress rehearsal compared to the grand production that had been his final months of service to the Dark Lord. Waiting until Lucius's back was turned, Severus summoned the hourglasses and shoved them into a pocket.

He could save Lily. It wouldn't make her forgive him and want to be his friend again, but she would be alive. It would be enough.

"I knew this would cheer you up," Lucius said upon catching Severus's faint smile. "Books always do."

"I do not require cheering."

"Of course not. You've been a ray of sunshine ever since you began your teaching career. I still say you should let me help you find a position elsewhere. Dealing with ill-mannered children all day would test anyone's patience."

"Perhaps someday. I appreciate the offer, but Hogwarts will do for now."

The ghostly form of a seal bounded into the dungeon. Charity's scolding voice came from the Patronus's mouth.

"Severus Snape! You'll pay for this!"

His trace of a smile morphed into a smirk. She'd discovered that he'd charmed all of the bath towels in her house to turn into clingfilm upon being touched, then. Served her right for interrupting his date by pretending to be his wife.

"Have you made a new enemy?" Lucius asked.

Severus shook his head. "A friend, I think."


Dragging himself back up onto the threadbare sofa, Severus fumbled around between the cushions for his missing bottle of Firewhisky. He would have to come to this conclusion on Halloween, of all days. The worst day of the year.

There was not enough alcohol in the entire town of Cokeworth for this day.

The idea had been to bind the Time Turner sand to someone else's memory of that night—the night of the prophecy—in order to travel back to that precise moment. Severus couldn't use his own memory; popping into existence next to his former self was a recipe for getting killed by that former self. Better to use Trelawney's memory, appear next to her once she'd left Dumbledore, and Obliviate as necessary.

With his knowledge of their future, Severus could have saved both of the Potters and their boy. Lily and the boy, at the very least. Potter would have likely stormed off and got himself killed just to spite Severus for trying to save his worthless hide.

Everything had started to go wrong the month before, when he'd obtained Trelawney's memory. He'd hoped to get the entire version of the prophecy so he could go into his mission with as much information as possible. He stood little chance of defeating the Dark Lord on his own, otherwise. Trelawney remembered none of her predictions. Where the prophecy should have been, he'd discovered only crackly static.

So, Severus had created a potion to confirm the date of a memory using a tiny sprinkle of the stabilised Time Turner sand, just in case Trelawney had performed the extraction spell incorrectly. Shoddy spellwork was a constant threat with someone who enjoyed their sherry as much as she did. Not that Severus had any room to talk, given his current state.

Checking the blank spot had revealed not one date, but two. The first had appeared in a steady silver glow: 27 February 1980, the date of the prophecy. The second one had sparkled and blinked in and out of existence: 2 May 1998.

Now, Firewhisky bottle back in hand, Severus took a long swig. The muddling effects of alcohol didn't alter the conclusion he'd reached. Upon seeing that second date, he'd known exactly what Lily would have said.

"Dumbledore thinks Voldemort will come back, right? Well, that settles the matter, doesn't it? That second date must be the day the prophecy will come true. You can't save me. This is way more important than any one person. Protect Harry for me. Help him fulfill this prophecy and defeat Voldemort for good. Risking it all falling apart just for me… Come on, Sev. You know what I'd have to say about that. I fought against him for a reason."

Charity had been right, damn her. Lily wouldn't have wanted it.

Severus's vial of Time Turner sand would have to remain tucked away until 1998. If the Dark Lord triumphed, then Severus would revisit his original plan. Lily could hardly complain about him altering history if her sacrifice ended up being for nothing.

For one weak, Firewhisky-hazed moment, he considered using some of the sand to see whether his visions of that dark haired woman would reveal two dates.

No, the sand was too valuable. He had to wait. Every last grain could be required to save Lily.

The front door swung open. Acting on reflex, Severus hurled a hex at the intruder. Fortunately for Charity, he was intoxicated enough that he missed his target. It was not so fortunate for the armchair a foot to Charity's left. She extinguished it with an Aguamenti.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, as if she wasn't the one barging into his house. "Shouldn't you be at Hogwarts? I thought someone had broken in!"

Severus wiped a hand down his numb face. He was too bloody drunk and weary to lock up his emotions, but he would not cry. He wouldn't.

Crossing the room to stand before him, Charity put her hands on her hips. "The least you can do after scaring me out of my wits is share. Give that here."

She swigged straight from the bottle as she settled onto the cushion next to him. The smoky burn that always made him cough and sputter as it seared his throat seemed to have no effect on her. Passing the bottle back to Severus, she bumped her shoulder against his.

"It's good to see you, even if you do look like hell."

Severus snorted. "Likewise."

She didn't try to get him to discuss it, though she had to know the horrible significance Halloween held for him. As the bottle emptied and Charity's speech grew more slurred, she rested her head on his shoulder.

"Are you going to introduce me to your Muggle anytime soon?" Severus asked.

"Yeah, I think so. You'll like him."


Charity simply smiled like she knew something he didn't. Happiness was a good look on her, he decided.


Standing outside the Prefects' Bathroom, listening to Miss Granger screech that song, Severus did not for one second contemplate that she was the subject of his visions. Yes, her hair was dark and curly, but she was a hand-waving irritant and a friend of Potter. Nothing more.

That she was of age according to both Muggle and magical laws made no difference. She was his student; the very notion of taking advantage of his position of power over her was repellent. Those silver-framed things he'd seen all those years ago had to have been some sort of cruel trick. A tightness seized his lungs as he scrambled for any explanation other than a prank. He hadn't realised quite how much he'd wanted those visions to be true. What, did he expect some sort of happily ever after once his time as a spy was complete? Unlikely.

She'd had a Time Turner once, hadn't she?

Striding past a befuddled Miss Patil, Severus started to plan. He would convince Albus that Miss Granger needed Occlumency lessons. If she knew anything about Severus's long ago visions, he would uncover it.

Severus thought to catch Miss Granger off-guard by casting Legilimens right away in their first lesson. She was more suited to Occlumency than Potter—less prone to overemotional outbursts. Instead, he was the one who ended up wrong-footed. Being in Miss Granger's mind was almost like being in those visions. That same feeling of safety and comfort enveloped him. Someone like Umbridge would not have received the same reception, but to him, her mind was gentle and trusting. Why?

Miss Granger shoved back against his intrusion. Fine. Let her attempt to lie to his face and pretend she knew nothing of his visions when confronted with one. The proposal would do; it had a pre-watershed rating while still being personal enough that she would believe he'd never willingly let her see it.

Her predictable litany of apologies did not acquit her. More investigation was needed.


Severus stared, gobsmacked, at Miss Granger. Not only did she intend to erase herself from her parents' memories, she was discussing it with him.

"You realise such a charm may be irreversible if you cannot remove it in time?" he asked.

"Yes." Miss Granger's voice trembled. "Better they not know me than be tortured and killed because of me. Since I am going to stick by Harry until the end, my life is in rather a lot of danger. And I will carry on fighting without him, should he f-fail. I am willing to die in this war if I have to, but I'd rather spare my parents the pain of burying their child."

Fear gripped Severus—not for himself; he was as good as dead already—but for Miss Granger. She was far too young to be dragged into this. They all were. Severus wanted to give the whole student body detention for the remainder of the war and lock them up to keep them safe. His Dark Lord obsessed Slytherins included.

In Miss Granger's thoughts, he had felt her terror over and over again. She knew her death was likely, but not once had she considered running away and hiding with her parents. Other wizards and witches of all blood statuses would, but to her, fleeing was not an option. Always fighting for what was right, wasn't she? Any suspicion that she'd had something to do with his visions had long since evaporated.

Severus couldn't run, either. Not now. It was unlikely he would get a chance to carry out his foolish plan of saving Lily in the event of the Dark Lord's triumph. Recalling how Time Turner sand could be bound to memories, he wondered whether it could be used in a potion to remove a Memory Charm from Muggles. A sort of rewind button for their mind.

He couldn't give it to her outright. Not after he fulfilled Dumbledore's request. Nor could he bequeath anything to her in any will that he filed with the Ministry, but he could leave clues to guide her to the sand and a few notes in the event of his death. And if the Dark Lord won the war after Severus was gone, Miss Granger would then have the means to fix it.


Severus heard the words leave his mouth as he recited the facts to the Wizengamot, but it was as if he hovered somewhere outside his own body, numb and hollow. Blocking out every single emotion he felt about Charity's death was the only way he could survive this particular testimony.

She'd believed in him to her last breath. Astonishingly, she had not been the only one to maintain faith in him.

Severus glanced over his shoulder at Granger before responding to Kingsley's question about the whereabouts of Charity's body. If Severus was allowed to speak to anyone before his inevitable incarceration, he would ask Granger to send Neville Longbottom some flowers on his behalf for killing that fucking snake.


Severus sighed. Another nightmare. Shrugging into his robes, he headed for the kitchens.

By all rights, he should have given Granger dozens of detentions for wandering the halls in the middle of the night, no matter the contents of her dreams. But she was nearly twenty, for Circe's sake. In a few months, they would be colleagues.

Like every other time, she lit up with a surprised smile when she saw him waiting for her in his usual chair. Even with the Life Debt, she made no demands of him. Which brought him to the real reason he had never docked points and sent her scurrying back to Gryffindor Tower: he did not wish for their chats in the kitchen to cease.

How pathetic that his best friend at Hogwarts was a student.

"The Headmistress tells me you took fifty points from Gryffindor earlier," Severus said.

Granger sat up straighter. "I did. A group of first years were being disrespectful about people who fought in the war."

"People? Or me?" Severus raised an eyebrow. "Didn't I once tell you I am not one of your causes? I thought you too well acquainted with me to buy into the deluded notion that I'm some sort of tragic hero."

"You aren't tragic. And I'm not deluded."

"Your magic suggests otherwise every time it calls out to me during your nightmares."

"So you're claiming you wouldn't help me if I was in actual danger? Right. I think it happens because you make me feel safe, sir."

His cold, blackened heart did not warm at her declaration. Not a single degree.

"If you say anything so blatantly ridiculous again, I'll give you a detention," he muttered.

He didn't. Instead, he gave her a library.


What the hell did she want?

Over the rim of a glass of punch that Granger had yet to sip, she widened her eyes at him. When he responded with a blank stare, she mouthed a single word at him. Legilimens.

Ah. Silently, he cast the spell.

Being back in the safe haven of Granger's mind was the same as ever. Almost. Leaking around the edges of her shields, Severus detected the faintest glimmer of attraction. Not that he had been completely unaware of her recent crush on him, but receiving such blatant confirmation was… interesting.

George spiked the punch, Granger thought forcefully at him. Don't drink it.

This was what he got for agreeing to attend Potter's twenty-first birthday party. Really, he should have known better.

Inviting her into his mind, Severus thought back, I hadn't intended to. It looks like something I would find at the bottom of a first year's cauldron. What did Weasley add?

Just some of that potion that makes people temporarily grow a very Horacey moustache. Should we alert everyone, or do we let him have his fun?

When have I ever let anyone have fun?

Granger nudged a burst of amusement towards him. I have fun with you.

I cannot imagine why.

A roll of her eyes broke the connection. The way she smiled so fondly at him made his pulse kick into a faster pace. Severus kept his expression impassive, even in the wake of a startling realisation.

Granger was pretty. When the devil had that happened?

"I said leave, Miss Granger."

As Granger fled, Severus snapped up the box of Charity's letters and transferred it to a new home in his bedroom. How could he have fooled himself into thinking Granger could actually be the woman from his visions? The second his back had been turned, she'd leapt on the opportunity to snoop through his things. Just like Potter.

She wasn't. He knew her better than that, but his rage wouldn't listen to reason.

Raffaella Zabini had flirted with Severus when he'd seen her in Hogsmeade a few weeks before. She was much closer to him in age, and the hair was… close enough. It was far more likely that Raffaella was the mystery woman. If, indeed, the mystery woman existed at all.

Severus went back and forth on whether he thought the visions were true. Draco did look remarkably like that blond man these days.

And here he was, using an eye-wateringly expensive substance to cure Granger's parents when he could be using the sand to satisfy his own curiosity. Yet another way she'd imposed upon him. Never mind that she had no idea he was even working on a potion for the Grangers.


"I think that's the last of them," Granger said, lowering a white mouse into the replacement cage she'd conjured after Lupin's temper tantrum had vanished their original one. "I'm so sorry, Severus. I should have known better than to bring Teddy along."

"Think nothing of it," Severus said. "Accidents with spontaneous magic are inevitable as long as people continue to stubbornly insist upon not being born middle aged."

Chuckling, Granger touched a smooth-skinned hand to his forehead. "Are you feeling all right?"

Anyone else's hand would have been swatted away. Severus let hers stay where it pleased until she withdrew it.

"I'm fine."

He was an imbecile for ever quarreling with Granger and getting involved with Raffaella, but he was fine. And during his foray into idiocy, Granger had taken up with Boot. Someone who had always been on the side of the Light. Someone who deserved her, instead of an aging spy who used to be her teacher. This, too, was fine. That Severus found Granger physically appealing was of no consequence. He would get over it. If all she wanted from him was friendship, then friendship she would have.

"Oh, no," Granger said, peering into the golden cauldron. "Wasn't this a sort of silvery colour before? I think Teddy's ruined it."

The potion had the mouldy fruit stench of spoiled Wartizome, and its colour had shifted to a muddy brown. At a guess, it was missing the memories he'd added. That explained the cloud of Pensieve memory he'd found in the empty cauldron a few days before, at least. Lupin's accidental magic must have interacted with the Time Turner sand, somehow.

Severus gritted his teeth. A double dose of sand wasted, and he was still miles from a real solution. If he had enough of it to actually complete the potion, it would be a miracle.


Severus's prey giggled. Hufflepuff. It had to be. Before he could swoop into their alcove and strike, a shorter black-robed figure with bushy hair beat him to it. Her technique was… rather familiar.

He lingered in the corridor, listening to Granger deduct fewer House points and assign less time in detention than he would have done. She made up for it by rightly berating them for their less than clandestine choice of location for their assignation. A few moments later, two guilty Hufflepuffs scampered off.

Granger ruined her impression of Severus by squeaking when he stepped in front of her as she exited the alcove.

"Not bad," Severus said.

She grinned. "I learned from the best. Want to join me on the rest of my rounds?"

"Hmm, I don't know. You'll feel compelled to fill the silence with conversation. We will hardly be stealthy."

"I vastly prefer your company to stealth." Granger gave his arm a tug, and her sleeve slipped down to reveal the bracelet Severus had convinced Longbottom to purchase for her. "Come on."

As they walked and talked and caught absolutely no one else out of bed, Severus was reminded of all of the times Granger had mentioned Patronus worthy memories. Laughing with her in the moonlight felt a bit like the wild joy of producing a Patronus. So did the quiet companionship of reading together, now that he thought of it. And badgering each other into a debate, and—

Oh, no. No. Severus could not be in love with Granger.

If he could make his moronic heart serve detention, he would.


Severus didn't think anything would happen. Yes, the insufferable Althea would assault them with a sprig of mistletoe, but Granger was fairly new to being single again. She needed time to heal, not some overeager suitor pouncing on her like she was the last mince pie at a Weasley Christmas.

But then she looked positively crestfallen at the news that Hestia Jones had once attempted to kiss him.

"Hestia kissed you?"

"She tried to at a similar New Year's Eve party, yes. It was the year after the war. She only did it because no one else was queuing up to do so. As if I didn't prefer it that way. I didn't allow her to follow through. Her breath smelled like Firewhisky and pity."

"Too bad I was still your student at the time," Granger said, inching closer. "I don't like Firewhisky, and I've never pitied you."

Could her interest in him remain, all these years later? It hardly seemed possible. Perhaps he would try to express his affection for her in subtle ways once she seemed ready, see if she responded. Preserving their friendship was paramount; he valued it beyond measure.

Merlin, did he even remember how to flirt?

The expected mistletoe met with the expected Reducto. Severus tried not to be disappointed.


"Thank you, Severus," Granger said. "I know how private you are. I won't pry too much… OK, I will, but just let me know whenever you need a break. And I promise I'll let you approve the final copy before publication. Not a single word will be printed without your consent."

It was the same as the vision. Every movement and every syllable. Severus held his breath.

Emily Dickinson hadn't known what the hell she was talking about. Hope was not the thing with feathers. It had teeth and claws. It wasn't some happy little thing that flitted around on wings. It was dangerous. Severus trapped it behind the sort of walls he'd utilised at his trial, locking it up tight along with everything else he felt for Granger—love, friendship, desire, everything.

"I'm afraid I must go," he said. "I have a detention to supervise. I'll see you tomorrow. We'll set up an appointment for your interview then."

His potion for her parents was much more complex than the one he'd used to date Sybill's memory, but it would do the same job. He had some half brewed already. If he started another cauldron of it immediately after he was through, his testing wouldn't be pushed back at all. He knew this was the final version of the potion. All that remained was telling Granger about it and trying it out on himself before administering it to her parents. He had plenty of Time Turner sand to spare.

It was Lucius-level frivolous, using such a valuable substance for something such as this, but he had to know.

Down in his lab, Severus withdrew his memory of the first vision. If the potion revealed the correct two dates, he would try the others as well.

He had no reason to suspect it would react the way it did. As far as he knew, it was an ordinary Pensieve memory—the same sort he'd been using in variations of this formula for years and years. As soon as he added the Time Turner sand, it exploded.


"I still say you should get a camera," Draco said. "Do you know how many Galleons we could get for a picture of the three of them like that?"

Keeping her eyes closed, Hermione feigned sleep. Her rising and falling pillow wasn't as bony as it used to be, but Harry's shoulder was still a far cry from goose down. At a guess, the snoring weight on her knee was Ron's head. When had they all dozed off? How was Severus doing?

"You have enough money," Astoria said.

"No such thing."

"For heaven's sake. What did I marry?"

"I'm only joking, love. I would—" A vibrating sound cut Draco off. "Ah, about bloody time. Hey, Granger." He shook Hermione's arm. "Come on. Severus is awake."

Waking up was like looking at a picture of a time he'd forgotten and realising, "Oh, yes, I remember that." The memories were his again.

Throwing the sheets back, Severus took stock of his surroundings. There was a disappointing lack of Hermione at his bedside, but he'd requested that arrangement. No windows. The only door looked as if it could withstand a blast from a tank. He wasn't restrained in any way, but the four legs of the surprisingly luxurious bed had heavy chains and manacles attached.

If Severus didn't know of the plan to place him in the building where Draco spent his time as a wolf, he would wonder whether he'd been left to recover in Lucius's pleasure dungeon. Depending on the current phase of the moon, he supposed it was a possibility.

At least he finally had a few answers about those visions. At a guess, the extra Time Turner sand he'd spilled in the accident had stayed in his system and bonded itself to various memories as they were formed. Then, the involuntary outpouring of magic caused by his memories fully returning had activated the sand and sent those memories back in time. Just like when Lupin had ruined his potion with accidental magic.

Severus buried his face in his hands. How humiliating. He'd caused a Potions accident.

Why, exactly, the memory of the vision had caused his potion to explode was unclear. Perhaps because it had already bonded with some of the sand before it travelled back through time? It was hardly something he could test and examine in further detail, annoyingly.

It really had been Hermione all this time. And now they were together. Severus smiled to himself for a good thirty seconds until he recalled that he had infused his voice with innuendo, called her Miss Granger, and mentioned schoolgirl fantasies at one point. Gods.

She'd been right. Extra disturbed, indeed.

Most of the time, it had been as if Severus's emotions were in the driver's seat. His twenty-year-old self had only veered dramatically from what his older self would have done when he'd ignored what he felt. And when he'd tried to act as if he was a seasoned spy, rather than someone who could not even successfully eavesdrop without getting caught. Prat.

The tank-proof door creaked open, and Draco entered.

"How are you feeling?" Draco asked, casting diagnostic charms to answer the question for himself in the manner of all Healers.


"Mm. Seems that way. You put on quite the light show for a while there, you know. The whole building went silver." Draco cleared his throat. "Granger is waiting outside. Do you want to see her?"


While Draco went to fetch Hermione, Severus sprang out of bed and paced the room. Did she truly love him, or did she love the version of him she'd come to know over the past year? Would she want out if he was still the same old curmudgeon he'd always been?

Almost as soon as the door opened again, Hermione was in his arms, asking questions. Were all of his memories back? Was he OK? Did he remember anything that pointed to him being a Seer? Severus kept her in his embrace as he explained all of it, his patience waning with each additional question.

"Wait," she said. "You let me into your mind in that Occlumency lesson? But I spent so much time feeling smug! Honestly, I was almost a little put out with Harry for finishing Voldemort off before I could gloat about it to him."

Severus laughed. "That, I would have enjoyed seeing."

"Do me a favour, and don't tell Malfoy I'm not a master Legilimens. He'll be insufferable."

"He frequently is. On an entirely different subject," Severus said slowly. "I hope you realise I'm not the man who… who wooed you. Not completely."

Even as she snorted at his word choice, the little stone tied to his wrist—the one he'd spelled to alert him when she was in distress—heated.

"No?" she said. "Who built my library, then? I owe him a very belated thank you."

"It wasn't upon the completion of your library that you confessed your feelings."

"Ah." A dangerous swell of hope tried to sink its claws into Severus as Hermione traced her fingers back and forth across his shoulders. "I thought your memories were back. Did you forget that I've been your friend for the past decade? I know exactly who you are, and I love every snarky, cynical, bitter, brave part of you."

Severus held her tighter. Raising up on her tiptoes, Hermione brought her lips within centimetres of his and waited for him to close that last bit of distance. She didn't have to wait long. He allowed himself several slow, soft kisses before he spoke again. It was well past time he said it back.

"I have been half in love with you since I was forty-one years old," Severus said. Paraphrasing something she'd once said to him made it easier to get out, somehow. "More than half." After a pause, he added, shakily, "I have been entirely in love with you for years."

Their lips met again. Had they not been at someone else's home, he would have lowered her to the bed in response to her feverish kisses. As it was, he considered barricading the door and doing it anyway. Draco couldn't get through his wards. Probably.

"Is that part of you genuinely gone?" she asked, drawing back so she could look up at him. "The man who wooed me, as you put it. Are you going to stop flirting with me so shamelessly?"

"As I already told you, I flirted with you before my memory loss. You simply did not see it."

"You'll have to be really obvious about it sometimes, then."

Severus let out a beleaguered sigh. "If I must." There was one matter still unsettled between them. His stomach did a few nervous somersaults. "Hermione?"


No sense in doing something unless it was done properly. Taking her hands in his, Severus dropped to one knee.

"I am capable of casting all three Unforgivable Curses," he said. "Will you marry me?"

How she could be surprised when it was the third bloody time he'd asked was beyond him, but he didn't rescind the question. Love was turning him into a Hufflepuff. Clapping a hand over her smiling mouth, Hermione gave him a teary nod.

Before Severus could stand up and sweep her back into his arms, their host returned in a blaze of complaints about Severus's other visitors getting restless. Draco froze when he saw the two of them.

"Sorry," Draco said. "Wait, why am I apologising? This is my property. I'm not sorry at all." A smirk reminiscent of his younger, brattier self appeared as he fully took in Severus's position and Hermione's happy tears. Pivoting on his heel, Draco ran back outside and shouted for his father.

"What on earth?" Hermione murmured.

"I do believe," Severus said, "that Draco has finally won a bet with Lucius."

A Light in the Fog

A Harry Potter Story
by turtlewexler

Part 28 of 29

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