Chapter 7: New Apartments
The walk back to the castle, Hermione spent in a sort of daze.
Even though she knew that everything was real, she couldn’t keep wishing that it was all a dream and any minute now she would wake up in her bed and later laugh with Harry and Ron at the absurdity of her dream.
But the reality was harsh.
Ron and she haven’t spoken for nearly a week now and she was not Hermione Granger anymore. She was Hermione Snape...
Mrs. Severus Snape.
A violent shudder cascaded over Hermione at this thought.
“Are you cold?” asked Harry who had obviously misunderstood her body reaction.
She shook her head but decided to not commentate upon it. The last thing she needed was to complicate things further, which seemed impossible already. Fortunately, at this moment they entered the Gryffindor Common Room and the need to be silent saved Hermione. Both of them were under the Invisibility Cloak and even in Hogwarts the scene of the portrait of the Fat Lady opening and closing by itself without anybody entering must have been strange. When Harry and Hermione were departing towards the wedding they appeared to be lucky enough for the Common Room to be empty, but now they turned out to be less fortunate.
In one of the chairs beside the fireplace sat Neville Longbottom who absently turned his head towards the portrait when he heard it open. His expression, however, quickly changed when he did not see a soul enter the room. Hermione couldn’t suppress a smile when she saw pure panic flash on his face.
Even as a wizard, Neville was not one of the brightest people on earth. With a piglet squeak he flew out of his chair with a surprising speed for his weight and disappeared on the stairs towards the boys’ dorm rooms.
It was nice to know that some things stayed unchanged.
With a smile still on her face Hermione turned towards Harry. Her smile, however, slowly wilted when she saw with what pure sadness and pity Harry looked down at her. As a result the two of them just stood there in a rather uncomfortable silence, unable to find the right words for each other. After some time Harry soundly cleared his throat.
“Well...when are you going to move into your new...apartment?”
“Actually, Professor McGonagall instructed me to do it right now. I guess I just need to get some things from my room first.” Hermione answered and dropped her eyes, unable to meet her best friend’s gaze.
Another short silence followed.
“Well, I guess I have to get a move on already...See you later Harry,” murmured Hermione and turned towards the stairs.
Before she could have made another step, however, Harry grabbed her right hand in his, forcing her to turn back to him. At last she lifted her eyes and almost cried at the sheerness of care that she met in Harry’s green sincere eyes.
“Please be careful, Hermione. Don’t do anything to endanger yourself,” he whispered.
The smile that appeared now on Hermione’s face was far from a happy one.
“Endanger myself? At least I am going to live with a husband instead of a total stranger, Harry. That is a difference no matter how small,” she said and headed towards her now ex-dormitory.
But Harry’s warning kept ringing in her head.
Yes, she would try to make sure that none of her actions would provoke Snape to harm her.
For some reason she doubted that the fact that she was his wife would stop him.
“Are you p-positively sure that it is...here?”
Professor McGonagall gave Hermione raised eyebrows as she sternly looked down at a slightly shorter woman.
“Do you really think that the countless years I have spent in Hogwarts as a teacher served for nothing? In addition, I would be no Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry if I wouldn’t have known where to contact a certain teacher in case of emergency.”
Hermione realized that she must have wounded McGonagall’s pride or something by her comment. For caution in return she just decided to keep her mouth shut before the Headmistress found any other way to interpret a harmless comment as an insult.
“Well,” continued Professor McGonagall after seeing that Hermione would not speak, “if you have no further questions for me, I wish you good night and a pleasing weekend, Mrs. Snape.”
McGonagall’s voice did not hold any mockery or irony at this words.
Without waiting for Hermione’s reply, the Headmistress departed down the dark corridor. Her actions, however, weren’t swift enough for Hermione to miss a shadow of pity cross her ageing features. It seemed that for the past few days some people did nothing else but pity her.
As a result, Hermione was left alone standing in front of a dark wooden door that in theory lead to Snape’s personal apartments. At the moment, however, Hermione looked upon it like the bloody gate of hell.
And in some ways, perhaps it really was.
For the countless time this day, Hermione summed up all of her Gryffindor courage and raised her fist. She knocked three times and the sound travelled unnaturally loud among the darkened corridor. She was mentally prepared for Snape to burst the door open the next second, but nothing happened.
She waited a few minutes more before she gingerly put her hand on the door. She did not really expect it to budge and was taken by surprise when the door opened.
“Professor Snape?” she whispered.
When silence followed her words, Hermione opened the door the rest of the way and cautiously stepped inside. Even the soft thud of the door closing behind her was very loud to Hermione’s ears.
The next moment natural curiosity took over all of her other feelings as she began to look around herself. It was an underestimation to say that what met Hermione’s eyes left her utterly speechless.
The first thing that caught her attention was the grandeur of the room. On one side of its circular shape there was a big fireplace with one massive chair standing in front of it. The chamber was filled with numerous pieces of furniture, each one distinguishing itself by its antique aura that did not lessen its beauty. On her left side, Hermione saw an impressive sofa with a number of cushions casually lying on top of it. Both the sofa and the cushions were the colour of a raven’s wing, so black that it was hard to distinguish the actual cushions from the sofa.
In front of all that blackness stood a low table with barely anything on top of it except for a few parchments and a number of ink bottles. The table was probably the most dark brown colour it was possible, but in contrast with the sofa’s colouring it appeared to be rather light.
The fire from the fireplace was the only source of light in the chamber and it created a warm, cosy atmosphere that silently urged you to sit down in front of these creaking burning logs and forget all of your life’s problems.
Hermione had to actually shake her head to not be pulled into this reverie. She expected everything from damp dungeons to a stony hut in the midst of the Forbidden Forest from Snape, but this...
“So, my dear wife has finally come.”
The sarcastic voice with its velvety structure made Hermione swiftly turn towards it.
Snape stood halfway through the door she must not have noticed before. It was beside the fireplace, which took so much of Hermione’s previous attention that she failed to see a dark heavy curtain obscuring the doorway. The curtain most probably served the role of a door by itself.
Without another word Snape entered the room and Hermione’s side vision let her know that he held something in his right hand, something that was partly concealed by his usual black cloak. For a moment Hermione’s panicking mind screamed that it was his wand and he was about to finish her for good, but then Snape sat into the chair and she saw the object was revealed by the light from the fire.
It was a bottle.
A bottle that he unhurriedly pressed to his mouth and began drinking from.
Hermione’s growing suspicion was confirmed when a light smell of alcohol reached her nostrils, without a doubt coming from Professor Snape.
“Professor Snape, are you drinking firewhisky?” exclaimed Hermione momentarily forgetting all of her previous fears.
With a visible unwillingness Snape tore himself from the bottle and absently looked at Hermione. His eyes were surprisingly completely sober and even his sneer did not lose any of its venom as he looked at Hermione’s casual t-shirt and blue jeans.
“Ah, I see that Mrs. Snape decided to change into casual attire. I have to say that neither your red dress nor this choice really flatters you,” drooled Snape casually, masterfully avoiding Hermione’s earlier question.
Hermione squeezed her hand into a fist and the hard press of her nails to her palm helped her to master control over her anger. Snape might not have been drunk, but he did not behave fully like himself either. True, Professor Snape never missed a chance to practice his sadistic talent upon Hermione both in and out of class, but never in such a manner as this. Unless he had his own reasons behind his actions.
Hermione cast a suspicious glance towards the man sitting beside the fire and whom by law was supposed to be her husband.
He resumed his drinking. Hermione was suddenly mesmerised by the way his throat moved with every gulp he took. The light from the fire revealed his face with his closed eyes as he savoured the drink. The same light appeared to soften his features and Hermione found herself thinking that in looks Professor Snape was not bad at all.
I must be desperate, thought Hermione, for suddenly finding the infamous Snape handsome. If not for his forever greasy hair...
Snape must have felt eyes upon him for as soon as he finished with his drink he lifted his dark eyes at her in a mocking manner. The next second, however, he suddenly stiffened as his eyes stayed locked with hers.
Hermione had no idea what he had seen in her eyes but it must not have been a very good thing for the next moment the bottle with the rest of its contents flew into the fireplace and loudly exploded there.
The noise made Hermione jump about a foot above the ground. Round eyed and fearful she stared at Snape who was on his feet taking deep breaths to calm himself. What she had seen today was more emotion from Snape than she had seen in all the years she knew him put together. It might have been entertaining in some other circumstances but right now Hermione was too preoccupied with what this new Snape would do next.
An eternity must have passed until Snape finally schooled his face into his usual cold mask with its expressionless black eyes.
“I have noticed that the house elves had time to move all of your things here already and, fortunately, I did not have the ultimate torture of sorting out the things myself,” even Snape’s mouth appeared to be bearly moving he was so under control.
Hermione was relieved to see this. At least she knew that the traditional Snape would not do anything rash or something of his previous actions. Well, at least not for the time being.
“If you would follow me, Miss Granger, I will show you your new room,” continued Snape. “You will be able to see the rest of the quarters by yourself tomorrow without any assistance on my part.”
And with a swish of his cloak he exited the chamber without even making sure if Hermione was following him.
With a loud sigh she quickly followed his precession with dark thoughts filling her mind. Harry’s previous warning was still freshly printed in her mind. She completely agreed with him on the subject of not endangering herself in Snape’s company and was only more than willing to keep preventing any further arguments with that dark man.
The only problem was that she did not even start guessing yet in what kind of danger she already was.
With an unseeing gaze Severus stared into the dying fire.
As soon as he had shown Granger her sleeping quarters, he disappeared from the scene as swiftly as possible and found his refuge in his office. He did not know and neither cared what time it was, but judging by the fire it was quiet deep into the night already. The only thing that kept him company now was a glass of firewhisky clutched tightly in his hand, compensating the whole bottle which he had so thoughtlessly destroyed in a brink of strong emotion.
Angry for the fact that he desired Hermione Granger.
Even the blasted alcohol that Severus had hoped would help did not lessen either his emotional or physical arousal, leaving him completely sober.
From the moment he had seen her in her red dress, he couldn’t get her out of his mind. It seemed that the year or so that he had not seen her had transformed her into a fully grown woman that was made to be noticed and stared at. Though not classically beautiful, the young witch possessed an unusual wild prettiness that transformed into a breathtaking beauty each time a strong emotion overtook her. Even in her anger she seemed striking with her brown eyes blazing with life of their own...
Severus pressed the cool surface of the glass against his forehead. It appeared that his desire has driven him into such desperation as to even create an illusion of him witnessing Gr- Hermione’s eyes fill with an emotion very close to attraction as she looked down upon him back in the lounge area. For a moment then he just let that illusion ride him and, as a result, his body answered that silent call pulling him back into harsh reality as he saw Hermione’s eyes the next moment flash with something close to disappointment.
A smile appeared on his face now, the one that not one living soul has seen upon his face.
Only Severus had the ultimate pleasure to observe it daily in a mirror staring back at him. Since his return from the torture, that smile graced his features more frequently than before.
The smile expressed only one simple meaning;
He hated nearly everything there was about his own persona. And Hermione, it seemed, only proved what a lowly sort of creature he really was. What kind of woman, especially one like her, would want with such a ‘slime ball’ as everyone called him?
Even that bloody wind during the wedding did not help him by any means, but simply confused him further, no longer knowing what he was supposed to think about the whole situation. Was the wish for someone to care about him too much to ask? The answer appeared to be positive for this was what he had been wishing for all his life.
Even the one person who in some sort cared for his well being was killed and Severus himself was framed for his murder.
And then that kiss with Hermione...
The ceremonial kiss might have appeared formal but only Merlin knew what force Severus had to collect in order to sustain himself from deepening the kiss further. There on the grass in front of all those witnesses, he knew that one more moment with his lips pressed against hers would unmake him and he would no longer be able to prevent his tongue from entering her mouth finding out what she tasted like.
Anger at himself for being such an idiot to even hope for a mutual attraction came back with a blasting force. The next moment the glass in his hand shattered into countless pieces as the remains of the firewhisky flowed down his hand.
Severus simply stared mesmerised by the numerous cuts on his right hand and the way they were starting to fill up with blood. The alcohol made sure that it hurt a trillion times more than it was supposed to but not one muscle moved on Severus’ face at the pain he was experiencing.
The past year made sure that he would not consider even cutting up his veins as a painful experience.
And now Severus hoped that everything would stop at that without anything complicating his life further.
The last thing he needed was a broken heart.
Sweet Surrender by witch