You Are Not Alone by ladysnarky
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CHAPTER 4: Think of Me

Hermione cried herself to sleep that night, something that wasn’t unusual for her these days. The music box on her mantle played her songs over and over throughout the night, acting as if it wanted to milk every tear from her eyes. The episode with Snape in the staff room had been horrible. Hermione didn’t think she had ever been more humiliated in all of her life. Sure, she could live through a war. She could live through seven years under the man’s annoyingly watchful eyes. She could live through Ron turning his back on her the way he did. She could live through the loneliness, with only her myriad of tears and her music box for comfort. But she didn’t think she could live through hurting Snape again.

The victory celebration played itself over in her dreams. She felt her head spin at the déjà vu of watching herself from a few feet away, sitting in her chair next to Ron. Hermione watched her dream self with anxiety as he released her hand and stood. He looked down at her with love in his eyes, the only time she could ever remember him doing so, and told her he was going to get her something to eat. He disappeared into the crowd seconds later and Hermione’s blood began to run cold. She knew what was coming. Any second now she would hear…

“Is this seat taken at the moment, Miss Granger,” he purred from his stature above her.

Hermione looked at him with fear in her eyes. Oh, please, please just turn around and go back to the shadows, she begged in her mind. It was useless, she knew, but the thought of having to relive this again was tearing her apart. She winced in almost physical pain as he sank languidly into the seat that had belonged to Ron only a few moments before. The words were out long before she was ready to relive them.

“Yes, sir, it is. Ron was sitting there. He’s just gone to get me something to eat,” Dream Hermione said harshly. “I’d rather he not have to fight with you over his seat. He’s been through enough lately and I would appreciate it if you would leave us both alone.”

From her vantage point near them, Hermione noticed the glint of hurt that swam through Snape’s ebony eyes. She saw him visibly steel himself. His back went painfully straight and his features looked as if they were made of stone. You stupid little girl! How could you have sat so close to him and not seen how that had hurt him? Gryffindor know-it-all be damned. Gryffindor heartless bitch is more like it! Hermione was seething as she listened to their exchange.

“I promise I will leave as soon as Mister Weasley reappears. Until then, please indulge me and allow me to enjoy your company for a short while,” he said. He looked at her for a moment and his eyes softened a bit. “Besides, I am under the impression that you will be leaving us permanently after the celebration is over. I would not want to miss this opportunity to thank you for everything you have done.”

Dream Hermione’s eyes widened incredulously. “I believe you have had too much to drink tonight, Professor Snape. Otherwise, you wouldn’t sully yourself to speak to me in a civil tone.”

The look that fell over Snape’s face was enough to make Hermione cry as she watched him. His ebony eyes glistened so much so that it looked as if he was going to cry. Whatever color he had in his face drained away and his hands began to shake in his lap. He tried to regain his composure and crossed his arms over his chest.

“I can assure you that I am not inebriated, Miss Granger. The habits of a life of spying do not fade away so quickly. And, I feel I must apologize for the way I have treated you all these years.” He smirked as she mimicked his movements and crossed her arms over her chest disbelievingly. “You are bright, Miss Granger. I had hoped you would have figured out long ago that I could not praise you as I would have wished. It has been an honor to teach you, to watch you grow into the fine, brilliant young woman that you are now.

“I watched you in the battle. I saw you do whatever was in your power to protect Potter. You were willing to give up your life to make sure he finished what he started. I was in awe of your bravery that day, Miss… uh…. Hermione. I have never known anyone quite like you. You are an extraordinary witch.”

Hermione shuddered as she saw Dream Hermione grimace at these words. She knew what was coming next; she knew the words he was about to say. If only she could stop her dream self from speaking, from laughing at him. She would even settle for keeping him from saying those words, as precious as they were to her now, to stop the hurt she was about to cause him. Keep your mouth shut, you stupid twit! Please, for the love of Merlin don’t laugh at him. Don’t you see how much this hurts him, how his pride is bruised right now? Please, just this once don’t say anything, let’s see what happens if things went differently. But Snape continued on, getting the words out before whatever minute amount of Gryffindor courage he had in his Slytherin soul failed him.

“I have thought so for a while now. Your bravery, loyalty, and intelligence have awed me. At the battle, as I watched you go so willingly to whatever fate Potter was leading you to, I knew that if we both survived I would not leave these things unsaid. Hermione…” Dream Hermione winced visibly again as her name dripped from his mouth. His voice began shaking and the real Hermione was silently pleading with him to remain silent. His features softened and his eyes looked at her with more gentleness than anyone had ever seen from him. “I must confess that I have found myself quite fond of you, Hermione. To be truthful, I have found myself very much in love with you.”

Dream Hermione’s jaw dropped and her eyes glinted in disbelief. She stared at Snape as he sat in front of her, a nervous muscle in his jaw ticking as he ground his teeth and waited for her reply. Mirth flickered into Dream Hermione’s eyes and she began to laugh. She doubled over in her lap, laughing without abandon into the palms of her hands. Snape’s eyes darkened and his features fell back into their cold, stone-like mask.

Dream Hermione swiped the tears of laughter from her eyes and looked him in the face. “I never would have thought you had a sense of humor, Professor.”

Snape cleared his throat painfully and sneered, “I was not trying to be funny, Hermione. I told you the truth.” Hermione felt so terrible for him.

As suddenly as Dream Hermione had started laughing, she stopped. Her face contorted like she was about to be sick. She scooted away from him on her chair and eyed him with suspicion. Real Hermione made one last attempt to salvage what she could of the situation. Apologize! Please, just say you were caught off guard and you didn’t know what to do. Don’t say those things to him; you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache. It was to no avail.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Professor. I can’t believe you actually said that,” she seethed. She wrapped her arms around herself for protection. “I’m eighteen years old! You’re… you’re… you’re older than my father! That is a terrible joke. I’ve dealt with enough of you all these years. Seven years I’ve listened to you berate my friends and me. Seven years I’ve watched as you refused to acknowledge my presence and insult my intelligence. Seven years I’ve been petrified of doing one thing wrong in front of you in the hopes that you might praise me some day.

“And do you think, just because you hopped in and played the chivalrous knight at the battle, that I’m going to dissolve into tears when you finally praise me? And then you tack on that last piece of nonsense. You love me? You’re fond of me? Please, Professor, give me just a bit of credit. I’m not a dunderhead.” Dream Hermione was ranting now, and a few people were turning to stare at the two of them. “You are a terrible person to say such a thing. You are so Slytherin that it makes me sick. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to find Ron.”

Real Hermione saw Snape’s eyes glint with malice at the mention of Ron’s name. She resigned herself to watch the scene as it neared its end, knowing it was useless to stop her dream self from saying those last cutting words. “Yes, Professor, I’m going to find Ron. The person that I love and who doesn’t love me just to get something out of it. Do have a nice life, Professor.”

With that, Dream Hermione disappeared into the crowd and left a very stunned Snape behind. Real Hermione sat up in her bed, her nightgown sticking to her in a cold sweat. Her heart was pounding in her chest and her breath was coming in gasps. She looked at the clock on her nightstand; it was 4:30 a.m. Tears were flowing from her eyes as her music box continued on the mantle.

Think of me
Think of me fondly when we\'ve said goodbye
Remember me once in a while, please promise me you\'ll try

When you find that once again you long to take your heart back and be free
If you ever find a moment spare a thought for me.

We never said our love was evergreen
Or as unchanging as the sea.
But if you can still remember
Stop and think of me.
Think of all the things we\'ve shared and seen,
Don\'t think about the way things might have been.

Think of me,
Think of me waking, silent and resigned.
Imagine me
Trying too hard to put you from my mind.
Recall those days, look back on all those times,
Think of the things we\'ll never do.
There will never be a day when I won\'t think of you!

Flowers fade, The fruits of summer fade,
They have their seasons so do we.
But please promise me that sometimes
You will think...
*Several moments of wordless opera singing*
Of me!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

When Hermione awoke the next morning, it was nearly 10:30. She sat up in bed, the dream of the victory celebration still swimming through her brain. She felt the tears welling up in her eyes again and buried her face in her comforter. The music box was still going; stuck on the song it had been playing when she had awoken from her dream. She listened to it sadly and Professor McGonagall’s words from the night before came back to her. “If you care enough to cry over it, Hermione, I’m positive you care enough to make him listen to you… Sooner or later, Severus will thank you for it.”

She pushed her blankets away from her and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Drawing a deep breath of the cool dungeon air, she stood and stretched languidly. The air filled her lungs with that same smell that lingered in every room Snape had previously occupied. Hermione didn’t know why it was there; it wasn’t in the classroom or in the passage between her office and her rooms. That comforting smell of leather, books, and brandy that assailed her senses every time she entered her rooms. She didn’t put it past Snape to bewitch the rooms and office to keep that smell just to torture her. She deserved it after the way she had treated him, but it had had a soothing effect on her as well.

As sad as she usually was, Hermione could sit in her sitting room in front of the fire and breathe in his smell, comforted. Sometimes she could imagine that he was there with her. She could see him in her mind’s eye as he sat in the chair next to the fireplace reading a book and sipping at a glass of brandy. He was always in his white dress shirt and black trousers, his long legs stretched out in front of him. His long black hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail at the nape of his neck. More often than not, he was oblivious to the fact that she watched him from where she was curled up on the sofa. Hermione liked the times she could think of him like this. He always looked so happy and content.

The images she often conjured of him came flooding into her head. Snape reading comfortably by the fire. Snape marking essays and making lesson plans at the desk in the corner. Snape napping on the sofa, his black hair looking like an ink spill on the pale pillow beneath his head. Hermione smiled softly as she padded to her bathroom. What she wouldn’t give to see him like that every day. Not just in daydreams but in his real flesh and blood. If only she could undo what she did those years ago and maybe, just maybe…

Maybe McGonagall is right, she thought hopefully. If I could just get Severus to listen to me, to see how terribly sorry I am about what I did. Maybe he could forgive me; maybe he could see that I care for him so much it hurts. Just maybe, he might still feel something for me. It couldn’t hurt to try. The worst he could do is exactly what I did to him three years ago.

Hermione cleared her throat as she removed her nightgown and stepped into her shower. “I’ll spend the whole day finding him and trying to make him listen to me if I have to. I can’t keep all of this inside anymore.”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Snape had ensconced himself in the Restricted Section almost as soon as he got out of bed that morning. His nose and cheeks were still sore and there were faint purple bruises under his eyes. He was in the foulest mood he’d known in years as he sifted through dozens of potions journals and books at a table in the back of the Library. Dobby had popped in only a few moments after Snape had arrived, bringing with him Snape’s morning tea service. Dobby had tried to deliver it to Snape’s rooms, but once he realized the professor was gone he went to the first place he thought to find him.

And so, there he sat several hours later, his rather large nose stuck in a pile of books and sipping at a cup of very strong tea when the bane of his present existence swept into the Library. Hermione looked flushed and out of breath as she came to a stop near Madame Pince’s desk. She looked frantically around the room, her curls bouncing and swirling around her shoulders. Her honey eyes finally settled on him and a soft smile spread across her face.

Snape groaned as she began to make her way through the maze of tables toward him. I don’t want my nose broken again this morning, Professor Granger. Please go back to your rooms and let me enjoy my day off, he thought as she drew closer. He covertly swept his ebony eyes over her, taking in the Muggle jeans and pale blue blouse she wore. He swore inwardly as his mind began churning with thoughts he really didn’t want to be thinking. Merlin, she looks beautiful like that. She looks beautiful all the time.

Hermione was standing at the edge of his table, quietly waiting for him to acknowledge her presence. She twisted her hands at her sides and began to chew on her bottom lip. It seemed as if she stood there for hours before he looked up at her with those dark ebony eyes.

“May I help you, Professor Granger?” he mumbled coldly, crossing his arms over his chest to close himself off.

She drew a deep breath and the scent that permeated her rooms overwhelmed her again. Flashes of Snape the way she imagined him swam through her mind and she smiled. “Is this seat taken at the moment, Professor?”

His eyes widened almost imperceptibly and he recognized his own words coming from her. He shook his head slightly. “Not at the moment, although I am quite busy at present.”

“Oh,” she whispered, noticing for the first time the multitude of books and journals strewn across the table. Don’t give in, Hermione. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t say anything to him. Just get it out and put the Bludger in his court. “If you’ll just give me a few minutes, I promise it won’t take long.”

“I really don’t have the time right now, Professor Granger. I would like to finish this research while I have the chance,” he returned, trying to turn back to his work. He hoped she would take the hint and leave him to his work. He didn’t feel like stretching his emotional muscles with her at the moment. “Now, if you please, Professor, I am otherwise occupied.”

Hermione grit her teeth and pulled out the chair across from him. She sank down into the chair angrily, crossed her arms over her chest, and glared at him. Snape picked up the nearest journal and began reading, trying his best to ignore the feeling of her eyes boring into him. He could hear her angered breathing and could sense the blush rising in her cheeks.

They sat that way for a few minutes before Snape couldn’t take it any longer. “Fine, Professor Granger. You have five minutes. I suggest you get on with whatever was so important.”

She drew a deep breath to steel herself and leaned forward, resting her arms on the table in front of her. “I wanted, first and foremost, to apologize to you about last night. It was an accident but I still feel like it was my fault. I would like to ask you to forgive me for…um…”

“For breaking my nose, Professor Granger. It is not the first time it has happened. If it will balm your conscience, then you have my forgiveness,” he said shortly.

“Thank you, sir. There is one more thing I would like to ask your forgiveness for,” she said, her voice beginning to shake as her nerves started to fail her. “The way I acted at the celebration, it was completely…”

Snape stiffened visibly in his seat. “I don’t wish to talk about that particular event, Professor. Now if you’ll excuse me…”

“No, I will not excuse you! You are going to listen to me if I have to sit here and stare at you all day. Even if I have to follow you around the castle harping at you until you finally get so sick of me that you have to listen.” Hermione’s hands flew to her mouth in surprise. She hadn’t meant to be so mean or forceful. He’ll never listen to me now.

He quirked up an eyebrow and settled back in his seat. “Very well, please continue, Professor. But I warn you, I reserve the right to get up and leave this conversation at any time I choose.”

It was the best Hermione was going to get and she knew it. She clasped her hands together and drew in a steadying breath. “I said terrible, hurtful things to you at the celebration. Things that I never should have. I can’t say that I didn’t mean them, because at the time I did. I laughed at you. I laughed when you told me those things that must have cost your pride to say.”

Snape cringed as the memories of that day came flooding back to him. His heart began to pound and all the anger he felt when she shunned him came flooding back. He wasn’t prepared for the words that came from her lips.

“I don’t mean those words any longer, Severus. I have spent that last three years running that day over in my mind, hoping to Merlin that I could go back and change it,” Hermione whispered softly. She saw a flash of hope spark in his dark eyes. “There wasn’t a day that I didn’t think of you after the celebration. Even when I was with Ron, as terrible as that all turned out to be, I thought about you every day. I cried almost every night over it. I still cry about it.

“I wanted to write and beg you to forgive me but I never had the courage. I wanted to tell you in the letters I sent to ask to be your apprentice, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t seem like the right time. And then you never answered them. I got the impression that you wanted to forget that you ever knew me. Someday, if you could, I’d like to know why you never answered them.” She saw him cast a glance at the books littering the table and swallow hard. She stood up and pushed her chair back under the table. “Thank you for your time, Severus. I’ll leave you alone to your research.”

Snape nodded dumbly and watched her as she walked silently out of the Library. Her curls were swaying against her back and her head was held high. Something was different about her now. He looked at her differently. She was still beautiful in his eyes, but somehow his old admiration for her started to seep back into his bones.

“I never answered them, Hermione,” he said huskily, “because I couldn’t bear for you to reject me again.”



AUTHOR’S NOTE: I hope you guys enjoyed the revelation of the victory celebration. Killer K, I hope it was worth the wait! Chapter 5 is in the works…we get to see what costume Snape wears to the Halloween Ball and how he deals with what Hermione said to him. See you soon. Please review!
The lyrics for the song in this chapter came from http://www.metrolyrics.com/lyrics/359238177/Phantom_Of_The_Opera/Think_of_Me