Continuing Tales

A Light in the Fog

A Harry Potter Story
by turtlewexler

Part 5 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Leverage: A Christmas Tale

It was the Life Debt. It had to be. That was why Severus felt this way. That was why everything seemed too silent, why things like the sound of his own breathing and the rustle of pages turning under his thumb annoyed him without the company of Granger's chatter.

The purple swirl of Dreamless Sleep tempted him from the bottle on his bedside table. Ignoring it, Severus turned his pillow over to the cool side and shut his eyes. If he had another nightmare, that was more information about his life up to this point. He'd already survived all of it once before. He could handle it… unless his magic had been calling out to Granger as he slept. That would be far less tolerable.

He wondered if she'd felt the nightmares that had plagued his sleep all week. Going to the kitchens to find out if she waited there with tired eyes and a cup of tea had crossed his mind more often than he wanted to admit.

Bit by bit, exhaustion won out over Severus's whirring thoughts. He slipped into the sort of light sleep that could be frightened away by a whisper.

The usual silver edge framed his dream, but instead of Dumbledore pleading for his own death or children being taught to torture one another, Severus saw a woman with curly brown hair standing next to him in the Hogwarts staff room. Her face was blurred, as if the laughter that flowed back and forth between them had made his eyes well up with tears of mirth. She brought a glass full of a pink, sparkling drink to her mouth. Severus couldn't identify the liquid, but he remembered the honey-sweet, lightly floral taste of it.

"She did not!" the woman said.

"Oh, she did. I watched it happen in this very room."

"I never thought Sybil had it in her."

"You underestimate how much she loathed the toad. Frankly, I'm amazed that all she did was slip laxatives into Umbridge's coffee."

"It's too bad I didn't draw Sybil's name in the gift exchange. I could have given her a Pensieve memory of Umbridge being dragged away by the centaurs."

"Ah, yes." Severus chuckled. "Seeing that was a shining moment in the otherwise tedious process of teaching you Occlumency."

Her retort died before it reached her lips. In the air above them, green leaves and distinctive white berries formed out of thin air. Mistletoe. Both of them groaned.

There was something Severus knew he was supposed to do at this point. Unlike the words that had flowed from his lips without any thought on his part, the dream didn't provide an answer. It was a dance he'd repeated with this woman many times, but he'd forgotten the steps. Was he supposed to kiss her? Banish the interfering plant life? Both options seemed equally likely.

Raising her wand, she said, "Do you want to do the honours this time, or shall I?"

Severus looked down at her face. Everything shifted into focus all at once. Of course she was Granger. The hair and the location should have given it away.

"I'll do it," Severus croaked out. "Reducto!"

Severus's eyes fluttered open. No exploding mistletoe. No Granger. Just the stone ceiling of his bedroom and a half-Kneazle with a knack for stealing bed space. He wondered, as he dragged himself through the routine of brushing his teeth and preparing for his swim, whether he would feel the same sense of warm contentment that had permeated most of the dream if he viewed the Pensieve memory of the real event.

Granger didn't run around the lake that morning. Whether she had on previous mornings since their falling out, Severus didn't know; he'd skipped every swim except this one. Upon entering the Great Hall for breakfast, he paused. Telling himself that he was only doing it to ask her for the memory he'd dreamed about, he sat in Longbottom's customary seat and waited for Granger.

"Good lad," Ernie dared to say, patting Severus's shoulder. Once again, Severus ignored him.

The chair next to Severus scraped against the flagstones. He suddenly found his porridge very interesting.

"Hermione won't be in this morning," a very masculine, very not-Granger voice said. Longbottom. "She's having a breakfast meeting in her chambers."

A meeting? What sort of meeting did a History of Magic teacher need to have? Well, she was Head of Gryffindor. It was possible that a student in her House was struggling enough to merit a conference with the parents. More than possible. That any of the miscreants passed their NEWTs was something of a miracle.

"I don't recall asking," Severus said, infusing his voice with just the right amount of indifference.

"Who's she meeting with?" Ernie asked.

Longbottom's beard twitched in a way that might have indicated a smirk. "A friend."

Severus pushed the remainder of his porridge away. Since Granger was apparently otherwise occupied, he supposed he would have to resort to one of the vials that sat next to his potted zinnia. Ronald Weasley's memory would do.

Granger sat sandwiched between Potter and Weasley on a squashy green sofa. Both men wore red Auror robes and a semi-panicked expression that spoke of being far out of their depth. It wasn't hard to see why. Granger sniffled into a tissue, her words barely discernible through her heaving sobs.

"Th-they said it was time to g-give up," she said.

"The Healers?" Potter asked.

"Yeah. There ar-aren't enough memories. I don't know if my p-parents are going to want to talk to me at all anymore. It was hard enough t-to convince them of their true identities and to view the m-memories."

Potter and Weasley shared a helpless look over the top of Granger's head. They both had an arm around her, and they'd swaddled her in a thick quilt, as if the patchwork could act as armour against her emotional trauma.

"I'll make you a cup of tea," Weasley said with the conviction of someone who believed tea to be the cure for everything. Pressing a kiss to the top of Granger's head, he extricated himself from the three person tangle and padded on bare feet to the kitchen area. A ginger cat with fur almost as mad as Granger's hair stalked after Weasley in a decidedly creaky way.

The space was tiny. Weasley reached the kettle in three of his long strides. It was all open, the only clear boundary between sitting room, kitchen, and bedroom being a wooden screen that partially hid her bed. Two dark wooden doors stood closed on the far wall. Not her quarters at Hogwarts, Severus thought as he turned to look through the leaded glass windows. The view was all wrong. Outside was a dense green forest that appeared to be determined to invade the little house. Tendrils of flowering vine had crept through a crack in a window frame and climbed up the whitewashed wall towards the beamed ceiling. A Pensieve—the same Pensieve Severus was using now, unless he was mistaken—sat in one corner.

Bizarrely, there was only one small bookshelf in the whole place, next to the bed. Severus almost wondered if it was Weasley's home, not Granger's, when he noticed that detail.

"You know you did the right thing, Hermione," Potter said softly. "Snape even said so." He sighed. "I wish I would have thought to ask the Order to send them into hiding with my family. I should have. I'm so sorry."

Family? Oh. Of course. Petunia. Severus thought most fates would be preferable to hiding anywhere with her.

Granger let out a wet, gurgling laugh. "They definitely wouldn't talk to me if I'd subjected them to a y-year with the Dursleys."

Pulling her knees up to her chest beneath the quilt, she rested her head on Potter's shoulder. Why were they always so physically demonstrative with each other? Surely that wasn't appropriate behaviour between a married man and his single female friend.

Wait, was Granger single? Severus hadn't attempted to find out.

"They wouldn't have gone, or I'd have suggested it myself," Granger said. "They n-never would have gone without me."

"And I needed you with me."

"Harry James Potter, don't you dare start that. I couldn't have been anywhere else."

A fist rapped against the door three times. The cat lumbered towards the noise, but Potter beat him to answering it. With the appearance of Severus's slightly younger self, the memory became textured with new emotions. He'd worked out by now that while the emotions he felt in his day-to-day life were how 49-year-old Severus would react, what he felt when immersed in the Pensieve was what had coursed through him in that moment, when the memories had been created. This time, there was unhappy surprise (presumably at being greeted by Potter) that was pushed aside by the sharpness of concern as Memory Severus took in Granger's tear-soaked state.

In one hand, Memory Severus held an enormous jar full of silvery clouds. A vat of memories.

Granger stood up, the quilt pooling at her feet. She was wearing lilac pyjamas that were decorated with little pots of ink and quills from various birds. In spite of the baggy pyjamas, Severus could tell that this was the early-20s, fuller-figured Granger from George's memory.

"Severus!" she said. "Hello. I, um…" Her gaze zeroed in on the jar. "What's that?"

Memory Severus stared first at Potter, then—for much longer—at Weasley. Seeming to come to a decision, he stepped into the house and extended the jar to Granger.

"It's for your parents," he said. The cat sniffed the cuff of his trousers and gnawed on one of his shoelaces. For some reason, he allowed it.

"But I thought you only had the one memory of them," Granger said.

"I found more."

Cradling the jar like a newborn baby, she crossed to the Pensieve. Alarm jabbed at Severus's gut as she withdrew a strand of memory from the jar with her wand. Memory Severus remained unruffled, even as she lowered her face towards the Pensieve. She emerged a few minutes later, fresh tears shimmering in her eyes.

"Muffliato," she breathed.

Her spell only encompassed Memory Severus and herself. Severus was left out in the uninformed cold with Potter and Weasley, since the memory belonged to the redhead. Leaning closer, Severus tried to read Granger's lips. The only thing he caught with any degree of certainty was "memories," which didn't help at all.

"I'm guessing he didn't get those in a way that he'd want to discuss in front of a couple of Aurors," Weasley said.

"No, probably not. If she hadn't cast Muffliato, I would have been tempted to suffer from sudden temporary deafness."

"Yeah, me too." Weasley wiggled a finger in his ear for emphasis. Disgusting. "I'd hate to have to lock him up."

Potter looked askance at his friend. "You feeling all right, mate?"

"Oh, I feel fine. And I'd like to continue to feel fine. I don't reckon Hermione would allow that for very long if I arrested Snape." Weasley paused. "She'd turn him in if he did anything too bad, right?"


Granger's spell dissolved. Pivoting on her heel, she launched herself at Potter and clamped her arms around him in a fierce hug. Again with the physical contact. From where he was standing, Severus couldn't see Potter's face beyond the frizzy cloud of Granger's hair.

Potter laughed. "Not that I'm complaining, but what was that for?"

"I desperately wanted to hug Severus, but I didn't think he'd appreciate it, so I'm getting it out of my system on you."

A cocktail of amusement, disappointment, and the barest hint of self-loathing ricocheted against Severus's sternum. Something else followed, smothering the rest: a nervous jitter that felt strangely like a question.

"Of all the people to act as a stand-in for me, Potter is probably the least suitable," Memory Severus said in a flat voice that revealed nothing.

"Next time I'll hug Ron, then," Granger said. Biting her lower lip, she stepped close enough to give Memory Severus's arm a quick squeeze. "Thank you, Severus. I can't tell you what it means that you… This is another Patronus-worthy memory."

A bubble of fondness rose up and popped so quickly, Severus almost missed it. Weasley looked gobsmacked that their former professor had provided Hermione with multiple memories that were happy enough to conjure a Patronus. Potter studied Memory Severus with those green eyes of Lily's that could always see right through him.

"It likely won't work, but I had to try," Memory Severus said. "It seemed a relatively painless way to rid myself of the Life Debt."

The Pensieve pushed Severus back into the real world. Staring down at the vapour of the memory, he wondered whether his attempt had helped Granger's parents. Weasley would have been less irate with Severus if it had. And now she was faced with the memory loss of another person who was clearly close to her. Someone who had pushed her away.

More importantly, it seemed that when Severus was in possession of all of his memories, he valued Granger's friendship. One thing about him that he was certain hadn't changed was the fact that he had few real friends. Losing one because he'd blundered about with insufficient knowledge would be unacceptable.

There was still a bit of time left before the first class of the day. He could go to Granger's classroom, tell her about the mistletoe dream, ask her for the associated memory, and try to sneak back into her good graces.

A few recalcitrant moving staircases and several corridors full of students requiring a deduction in House points later, Severus stood in the doorway of the History of Magic classroom. Seeing Granger bent over a stack of parchment with her ink-stained fingers pushing her hair out of her face and her eyebrows drawn together in concentration felt like one of those foreign memories clicking into place and becoming his. It was like seeing her in her natural habitat.

"Granger," he said.

The smile she offered him was too civil, too distant. It belonged to Sinistra or Trelawney or another colleague who was just a colleague and had never broken any laws for her.

Maybe not Trelawney. There was no eye-roll at the end.

"Can I help you with something, Severus?" she asked.

"I watched a memory from Ronald Weasley." To hell with asking about the mistletoe dream. "What happened to your parents?"

The question came out softer than he'd anticipated. Like he was revealing a secret instead of requesting information. One of her fingertips traced over her forehead, leaving a smudge of ink.

"I made them forget they ever had a daughter and sent them away, in case Voldemort decided to use them to get to me," she said, walking around her desk and perching on the edge of it. "There was a counter-spell to the charm I used, but it took too long for the war to end and for me to find them in Australia." She shrugged as if it didn't matter a fraction as much as it did. "I knew it was a risk. You even warned me that it would probably happen that way when I asked your advice during an Occlumency lesson. The Healers recommended the same treatment they gave to you: viewing Pensieve memories. The only problem was that Muggles can view the memories, but they can't give them. It was up to their magical acquaintances."

Severus winced internally. Being Muggles, he doubted her parents knew many wizards and witches beyond Granger, her friends, the shopkeepers in Diagon Alley, and perhaps one or two professors. Hardly enough to cobble together the lost pieces of two lives.

"I had plenty of early childhood, pre-Hogwarts memories, but not many after I left for school," Granger continued. "None from the time when I was a baby, obviously. And they interacted with other witches and wizards maybe once a year. Everyone was very helpful, giving whatever memories they could. You eventually tried using Legilimency on Muggles who knew them, and then you extracted your memories of seeing their memories."

"That sounds highly illegal."

"Yep. So was Obliviating those Muggles, but you did it anyway." This time, her smile was meant for Severus—for a dear friend. It just wasn't aimed at the Severus who stood front of her. "It didn't work. It might have, if they'd had their own magic to help heal their minds. I don't know." She sighed. "Their memories never formed a bridge. We're on Christmas card terms now. It's better than nothing."

Severus wasn't so sure about that.

"Given your past experiences," he said said slowly, weighing each word before he released it, "dealing with my memory loss must be unpleasant."

Shrugging again, Granger avoided his eyes.

Severus's feet took a few steps closer without consulting him on the matter. "You told me on my first day without my memories that you only suspect that we're friends. I find that surprising, considering I apparently risked Azkaban for you."

"Well, you're very inscrutable, you know. You claimed you did it because of the Life Debt."

And I'm famous for always saying what I mean, am I? Severus thought.

"Hmm," he said. "I suppose if I'm going to have anyone micromanage my life, it may as well be someone who is obviously my friend."

She tilted her head to one side in mock confusion. "You're going to have Lucius do it?"

"Gods, no. Do you have any idea how he'd try to dress me?"

Granger laughed. Hearing the sound on the heels of such a morose topic made a weight lift from Severus's shoulders.

"Are you going to let me dress you, then?" she asked.

"You've already had at least one Patronus-worthy memory from me. I hardly see the need to provide you with another."

"Oh, I've had several." She pinched her lips between her teeth as if trying to hold in a grin. "But I've also had a couple that I might relive if I found myself in the presence of a Dementor, so it balances out."

Severus was absolutely not going to ask her about the memories a Dementor would dredge up for her.

She checked her watch. "You should probably head to the dungeons. It's almost time for classes to start."

"Right. I'll see you at lunch?" For all that he meant to say it as a statement, the words insisted on coming out as a question. Narcissa was right. He was keeping company with too many Gryffindors.

Crossing her arms, Granger hopped down from her desk. "Is that your way of requesting the dubious pleasure of my company?"

Yes, Severus thought. What he said was, "I would not object to things going back to the way they were. It would, at least, stop people from constantly pestering me with questions about where you are when they see me on my own."

Her answer took far too long to arrive. She stared him down in a way he thought she must have picked up from him. He stared right back, keeping his expression blank.

"All right," she said at last, "but don't think this means you can lash out at me whenever you like. It's understandable that you're a bit overwhelmed with all that's going on, but if you need space, just say so. I generally expect my friends to treat me like… well, like a friend, rather than a nuisance."

Severus allowed a small smile. "As long as you don't try to dress me in pastels or make me carry a ridiculous walking stick, I will."

She squinted. "The walking stick, I'll grant you, but I can't imagine Lucius dressing you in pastels."

"All colours that are not black are pastels."

Granger snorted. "Go to your dungeon, Severus. I'll see you at lunch."

He didn't tell her about the ink smear on her forehead.

His magic always called her Hermione. It crept into her sleep, beckoning to her in his voice, forming impossible words. Blinking her bleary eyes, Hermione stared up at the gauzy canopy of her bed and tried to imagine Severus saying, "Hermione. Hermione. I need you," in his waking hours. Not bloody likely.

Boudica tagged along on the breathless trip to the kitchens. The cat had discovered that Severus's babysitters were easy targets with soft laps and pockets full of treats. Sure enough, Hermione's familiar was settled on Bert's knee and nudging her nose against his palm before Hermione even extended a hand to tickle the pear.

Past the portrait, Hermione found Severus with his usual cup of tea. Everything about his appearance was all sharp angles. He always had been able to cut her.

A cup of tea with no sugar and just a splash of milk sat waiting at her preferred seat. Hermione wondered if he'd noticed how she liked her tea or if it had been something he knew how to do thanks to the muscle memory of performing the action so many times.

Back when their war wounds were still fresh and they'd met here during her seventh year, they had mostly sat without speaking at first. She'd been shocked he'd never given her a detention for showing up after curfew. Eventually, the conversations had started—first a slow trickle, and then a deluge, until they'd come to the kitchens even when nightmares hadn't made her magic shout at him across the castle. He'd always had her tea ready and waiting for her in those days, too. Maybe the elves had done it.

"Thanks," Hermione said, taking a drink as she sank into her chair. Perfect.

Picking up the teapot to pour himself a second cup, Severus gave a little nod of acknowledgment. She wondered if he'd viewed any of the memories that went along with these nightmares he'd been having.

"Have you seen any interesting memories lately?" she asked.

"Not particularly. George Weasley did give me a somewhat amusing memory from a Ministry Christmas party. You made an appearance."

Hermione's mouth went dry. "I know the one. Which bit did he show you?"

The end of that evening had been when she'd discovered that Severus had attended the party as Raffaella Zabini's date. Since Harry had been waylaid by the usual hangers-on, a constantly grinning, newly engaged George had insisted upon escorting a tipsy Hermione to the Floo. The Atrium had been empty, save for two figures near one of the fireplaces. One had been Severus. His companion had been a woman with dark, curly hair and a seductive smirk. Hermione and George had watched Severus tilt the woman's face up and kiss her slowly, expertly, before he'd Floo'd away with her.

She could still remember that Bludger-to-the-gut feeling that had knocked the air out of her. While she'd stood there with her mouth open, George had chuckled and said, "Snape, you dark horse." One glance at Hermione and his expression had clouded over with sympathy.

"I'm sorry, love," George had said.

"For what?" Her voice had sounded shrill and splintered by the lightness she'd tried to force into it. "Your dancing? It's fine. I'm used to it by now."

It had been a pathetic attempt at a joke, but George had let her get away with it for a change. She'd gone home to Hogwarts, curled up with an elderly Crookshanks, and tried not to examine her reaction too closely. The next morning—and every morning since—she'd put it down to too much drink. A week after that evening, she'd snogged Terry Boot at a different party and had stumbled into her longest, most serious relationship to date.

Severus had never flirted with her. All he'd done was chat with her late into the night and make a few huge, heart-stoppingly beautiful gestures that he'd attributed to his Life Debt. He had no interest in her, and she had no interest in pining after someone again. She had simply been caught off-guard when she'd seen him with Raffaella. That was all.

She dreaded to think how Severus would interpret it, viewing that memory as edited by George.

"The part where we helped him set up for his proposal," Severus said, pulling her out of her thoughts of the past. "Why? What are you afraid he showed me?"

"Oh, nothing. I just drank too much and made a fool of myself on the dance floor with George's help."

The dancing part was true, at least. Severus stared at her in that intense, silent way he had long ago perfected into an art form. Hermione toyed with the otter charm on her bracelet until he finally looked away.

"Potter sent me a memory via the Muppets." Severus said, twirling a vial between his long fingers. "He said it was his favourite memory of me. Any idea what it might be?"

"Hmm. I have a few suspicions."

"Would you like to find out?"

Severus looked as if he didn't know why he offered. Given the way Hermione's suspicions ran, she didn't know why she accepted.

The drawing room of Grimmauld Place materialised before them. Memory Severus and Harry sat across from each other on the dusty brocade sofas, nursing cups of tea in silence. Harry looked like he was still in the middle of his transformation from the scrawny little boy she'd met on the Hogwarts Express to the man who commanded all of the Aurors in Britain. This memory had happened not long after the war, Hermione guessed. Definitely before Severus had started offering a few answers to Harry's questions about his mother.

A streak of silver light shot through one of the large windows. Hermione's otter Patronus flipped playfully onto its back and swam in circles around Memory Severus. It kissed the end of his hooked nose—she had never told it to do that!—and squealed, "Thank you!" in Hermione's voice before it vanished.

Severus—the one who had entered the Pensieve with her—turned towards Hermione with an eyebrow raised. She motioned for him to pay attention to the memory.

Harry blinked owlishly behind his glasses. "What did you do?"

Shifting in his seat, Memory Severus added more milk to his tea. "I gave her a library."

"Oh. Right." Harry grinned. "That'd do it."

The memory ended there. Hermione sagged with relief. She'd half expected it to be the time when she had seen Severus in his underwear during his post-Nagini convalescence. He'd been so loopy from pain potions that he'd stripped down in that same drawing room and passed out cold on one of the sofas. Harry had found her squeaking and blushing hilarious, and his judgment was highly suspect at times.

"That was barely anything," Severus said. "What did I mean, I gave her a library? Was that your Patronus? It sounded like you."

"It was mine, yes. Erm. I can show you what you meant, if you like. There are three relevant memories, but you're only present in one of them, so it shouldn't break the more than one or two memories per day rule." The same glow of affection that had powered that overly-friendly Patronus turned her lips up into a smile. "It's one of my favourites, too, even if you weren't technically there for the best bit."

After decanting the memories, Hermione joined Severus in the Pensieve again without giving him a chance to object.

"This is my hideout," Severus said as Hawthorn Cottage shimmered into view.

"It is," Hermione said.

It was a continuation of another memory she'd given him. Her younger self scurried up the steps, wand drawn, and opened the front door. God, Hermione had almost forgotten how starved and dirty she'd been.

"Just have a good look around," Hermione said to Severus while Memory Hermione searched every corner for danger. "It'll be different the next time you see it. We're only here so you can spot the difference."

The wintry glow of the moon gave way to yellow firelight as Memory Hermione shakily cast an Incendio at the fireplace and crouched in front of it to thaw her hands. Rifling through the cupboards, she sobbed upon finding them crammed full of potions and tinned food.

"Right, this one should end any second now," Hermione said. "I stopped it before I took a very long bath."

Severus smirked. "Spoilsport."

Hermione was thrown so off-kilter by his teasing murmur that she missed the moment when the scene wavered and shifted into the Hogwarts kitchens. His 49-year-old self would have declared Harry to be his best friend forever before he would've implied that seeing Hermione bathe would be at all appealing. She couldn't imagine him ever making a joke like that. When she shook the surprise away, she saw the two of them sitting in their usual spots, hands wrapped around the comfort of their usual mugs.

"I feel old," Memory Hermione said.

Even though she had been there and knew what was coming, Hermione still expected Memory Severus to make a snarky comment about her being a child. Instead, he nodded.

"You will get used to it," he said. "Eventually."

"I hope not." She dropped her hands to the table. The thump sounded empty to Hermione's ears without the familiar clink of her bracelet. "I don't want to get used to anything I've been dreaming about. I hate it so much. All of it. The blood, the… I hate that the first time I used your first name, it was because I thought you were dying."

"I'd hardly have given you leave to say it otherwise."

"Really? What about after we become colleagues in the autumn? Or if we meet by chance years and years from now? Will you expect me to still call you Professor Snape when I'm 120 and you're 140?"

Memory Severus rolled his eyes. "I expect you will do whatever you please. You always have."

"Severus it is, then." Her smile, weak as it was, was all impertinence.

"I'm still your professor for now, Miss Granger."

"I know, Professor Snape."

"Hmm. Should I expect your dreams to continue to be so inconsiderately noisy when you join the faculty?"

The smile fell. "I don't know." Memory Hermione squirmed and looked down at the polished table. "If I knew how to stop my magic calling out to you, I would."

He hadn't once suggested Dreamless Sleep. When she'd brought it up, he'd told her it was a temporary measure, at best. At worst, it was habit forming. The nightmares would eventually become less frequent, he'd claimed. He'd been right.

"I hope you aren't expecting comfort from me," he said. "My policy when it comes to nightmares among the Slytherins is to send them straight to whichever Prefect I suspect most likely to have heard whispered threats of Hufflepuff from the Sorting Hat."

She laughed. "I'll remember that when I'm a teacher. Speaking of which, I've been thinking about where I'll spend my summers. I was wondering if you'd be willing to sell Hawthorn Cottage to me. I don't want to stay in my parents' house. Not while they're still healing."

Memory Severus frowned at her. "It's not a home. It's a hideout."

"No, I think it's perfect for a home. I don't need much room. I've been keeping my books in a trunk with an undetectable extension charm for ages. Someday I'd like to have a place with a library, but the cottage will do when I'm just starting out. Now, about a price…"

The third memory found them back at the cottage. Memory Hermione Apparated directly into it for the first time as the owner.

"Here we are, Crooks," she said, releasing him from his travelling basket. His beloved, grumpy little face turned up towards her as if he thought he could imprison her in a similar device with the power of his glare. "This is home now. Go on, look around."

Everything was much the same as when Severus and Hermione had seen it last, with one exception: a new door. Severus spotted the difference right away. He wandered over to it and watched Memory Hermione cast all manner of detection spells.

It was an ordinary door. Not even warded. Practically Muggle. Hermione's stomach did a flip as her younger self cautiously turned the handle. The room behind the door was anything but ordinary to Hermione. Constructed from the sort of charms that had been used to enlarge the Burrow, it had empty shelves stretching up to the vaulted ceiling. A library of her very own.

Memory Hermione clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh my God," she whispered through her fingers. Jumping up and down on the spot, she swung her wand in a wide, joyful arc. "Expecto Patronum!"

With the appearance of her otter, bright and instant, the Pensieve ejected them.

"That was one of the nicest, most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me," Hermione said. "When I tried to thank you in person, you just said something about being compelled by the Life Debt, of course."

Severus huffed out an approximation of a laugh. "Naturally."

Straightening his sleeves on his wrists, he looked a bit discomfited for a few seconds before he levelled her with another one of those stares. Beneath his scrutiny, she felt seventeen again, reciting textbooks and babbling and trying to keep him out of her mind.

"I should try to get some more sleep before it's time to get up," she said. "Goodnight."

He looked away. "Night, Granger."

A Light in the Fog

A Harry Potter Story
by turtlewexler

Part 5 of 29

<< Previous     Home     Next >>