Continuing Tales

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 19 of 27

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After four hours and countless diagnostics, Hermione is finally allowed to leave the infirmary. Back in her quarters, she runs a bath and sinks gratefully into the scented water. She has no idea what to do.

Snape said he brewed the base, so that means tomorrow she needs to provide the virgin's blood. Which means either a Muggle in a bar (ugh) or Sirius (double ugh) or asking someone else (Remus? Bill Weasley?). Or she can just owl Snape that she's going back to her time and trust that he'll finish the potion and destroy the Horcrux himself (coward).

The one option she resolutely refuses to entertain is the one she came back in time planning on. That one is off the table because he very obviously detests her. Then why did he call me pet in the infirmary? Why did he seem so worried about me?

She wishes she had access to a Pensieve (of course he has one) so she could watch the memory and see it more objectively. Both memories, the infirmary and when he said he was sorry just after withdrawing from her mind. He apologized and she reacted with anger. Entirely justifiable anger. He'd just invaded her mind without her consent. And it wasn't just that she hadn't given her consent. She had said, in so many words, I do not give consent. And he did it anyway. Why?

He said why, at the time. She wishes she could remember his exact words. Something about sacrificing herself and how she wanted to put off the horrid deed as long as possible. Did he think she found the idea of being with him horrid? That she found the idea horrid? He was the one who did, obviously. The only time he'd ever acted like he was attracted to her was when she looked like Narcissa Malfoy. Touching her, whispering endearments, almost kissing her.

And then it hits her – she was the one who pulled away from that kiss, and afterward, he was cold and angry and things haven't been right between them since. He had no idea the only reason she pulled away was because he looked like Lucius Malfoy. He must have thought she did it just because she didn't want him, Severus, not Severus-as-Lucius.

A conversation with his portrait comes back to her, when he kept saying…oh, gods. She knew he was insecure. She knew it before she ever came back here, but once she got here and he started acting the way he acts, she forgot about it because she was too busy being insecure herself.

I'll probably be a right bastard, his portrait told her, but try to be my friend anyway. She did try, but not hard enough. He only turned cruel in the face of her anger. It's how he handles being hurt. She told him Lily should have forgiven him, and then she refused to forgive him when he apologized.

She gets out of the bath, dries off, and gets dressed. She walks down to the dungeons and knocks on his door. When he doesn't answer, she starts to turn and leave, then stops and knocks again. This time he opens the door.

"What do you want?" he asks, a slight slur in his voice. His shirt has several buttons undone and he's not wearing his frock coat. He's been drinking. A lot.

"I'm sorry," she says.

"You're sorry?"

"Can I come in?"

"You're sorry?"

"Can I please come inside? There could be students about and you're quite obviously drunk."

He holds the door open for her with an exaggerated courtly bow whose effect is somewhat diminished when he stumbles as he follows her inside.

"What are you sorry for?"

"For not forgiving you," she says. "You said you were sorry and I wouldn't forgive you."

"I didn't deserve to be forgiven."

"Deserve it or not, I do."

"I invaded your mind."

"Severus, what part of I forgive you do you not understand?"

"The whole thing, really. No one's ever forgiven me for anything." Then he frowns as though trying very hard to remember something. "You called me Severus."

"Is that all right?"

"Yes. Does that mean I get to call you Hermione?"

"I wish you would."

"Hermione. Her-my-oh-neeee," he says, dragging out the syllables. "Such a pretty name."

"Oh dear. You really are drunk, aren't you?"

"I really am, Hermione."

"Do you have any sober-up potion?"

He nods.

"Go take it and I'll make some tea."

"Okay, Hermione."

She bites back the urge to say, There's a good lad, and goes in search of the kettle. When she carries the tray into the sitting room, he's sober and embarrassed.

"Granger –"

"You were going to call me Hermione, don't you remember?"

"I wish neither of us remembered any of that."

"If you Obliviate me, you're just going to have to apologize again, Severus."

He smiles. Not a smirk, but an honest to goodness, genuine smile. Then the smile fades and he asks, seriously, "Why do you forgive me?"

"Because that's what friends do."

"Is that what we are? Friends?"

"Is that what you want to be?" she asks, and sees the walls go up. He's not angry. He's insecure. "Do you know why I pulled away when you almost kissed me at the Leaky Cauldron?"

"I can well imagine." The supercilious Professor Snape voice is back.

"And your imaginings would be all wrong. It was because you looked like Lucius Malfoy. I didn't want our first kiss to be when you looked like that bloody wanker. I wanted you to kiss me."

"Granger, I don't blame you for not wanting to besmirch yourself with Black or some Muggle stranger. I'm at least someone you know, and I'm willing to help you obtain what we need to finish the potion, if that's why you're here, but you don't need to tell me it's something more."

Gryffindor courage, Hermione. She gets up from the sofa and walks to the armchair where he's sitting. "I thought I told you to call me Hermione," she says, and sits on his lap. "Or pet," she adds, nuzzling at his neck.


She pulls back and looks at him. "You called me that in the infirmary."

"I did?"

"Want to see the memory?"

He looks at her, searching, assessing. "Take out the contact lenses."

She vanishes them to their case and he continues looking at her until she demands, "Aren't you ever going to kiss me?"

He smiles. "Gods, but you're bossy."

"You like me bossy."

"I like you, full stop," he says, sliding his hand into her hair and pulling her closer until their lips brush. The sound she makes, somewhere between a sigh and a moan, encourages him, and the second kiss is an exploration, lips parting, tongues tasting, hands pulling one another closer until they feel the tendrils of one another's magic curling around them. The third is a conflagration, the more she wanted when Malfoy kissed her, only now there is no thought of Malfoy or anyone or anything except this man and his mouth, his hands, his magic, blotting out every coherent thought, consuming her like a fire that sets every nerve ending in her body ablaze.

Some time later, they look at each other, foreheads touching, both breathing a bit faster.

"That was…" she begins, but words to describe it adequately elude her.

"It was," he agrees. He picks up his wand and casts a charm that makes numbers hover in the air before them: 16:03.

"What's that?"

"How much longer the Horcrux potion needs to rest before we can add the final ingredient."

"Sixteen hours," she groans. "Really?"

"And three minutes."

"Probably two and a half minutes now."

"Maybe two and a quarter," he says, and kisses her. Some time later, he casts the charm again. It shows 15:47.

"Should I leave?" she asks.

"I don't want you to, but it may be best." Seeing her crestfallen expression, he chuckles and pulls her against his chest. She can feel the sound through his chest, and burrows closer. "Or we could fool around a little longer?" he suggests.

"Maybe you could show me that trick you learned in October?"

"If I do that,' he says silkily, "I assure you that potion will be ruined and I'll have to take a basilisk fang to Potter." When she swats at his arm, he adds, "Or ask Lucius to ravish a virgin for me."

"You wouldn't ravish one yourself?"

"You're the only one I'm going to be ravishing, pet," he murmurs against her neck, and eventually it appears as though they might be in danger of ruining the potion even without any new tricks.

Regretfully, she picks her bra up off the floor and says, "I suppose I should go now."

"I suppose you should," he agrees around of mouthful of what she's trying to cover up.

"So we're well rested for tomorrow. We do have a potion to brew, you know."

"Do we?" Her neck is still accessible, and he makes do. "I'd quite forgotten."

"Dark Lord, Horcruxes, et cetera?"

"Needs must, I suppose," he sighs.

"See you at breakfast, then?"

"I may take Dreamless Sleep and try to spend as much of the next," he casts the timer charm, "fourteen hours and fifty-two minutes as possible unconscious."

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 19 of 27

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