A/N - Thanks to those who have reviewed so far!
She had not deliberately asked for a vision of Professor Snape, Hermione thought in alarm.
It was with extreme caution (edged with dread) that she sat up, so as to not wake the sleeping, dark-haired man beside her. It was definitely Professor Snape all right, and Hermione found herself praying that he wouldn’t wake up as she carefully edged as far as she could away from him.
At her edge of the bed Hermione warily looked down at her left hand, seeing an engagement ring wrought of silver and jade glittering up at her, the wedding ring gleaming a rich gold.
This particular body that she was occupying was not as glamorous as the one in the first vision, nor was she overweight as she was with Ron. She just seemed… to be an older version of herself and she reluctantly conceded that the nightgown of amber silk did look nice on her.
The warm bed covers were of a dark green and as she looked around the spacious bedroom with its cream walls she noticed various bookcases full of books as well as two chairs set beside a fireplace. Certainly the professor’s bedroom was not as grim or repulsive as students had speculated it to be over the years. Hermione blinked when she noticed that on the wall nearest to her was her collection of oriental fans that she enjoyed collecting. Also on the wall was what looked to her to be her graduation photo, a finely robed version of herself waving vigorously back at her surprised face.
Hermione realised that in the first two visions there had been little sign that they were her bedrooms as well… and it was surprising to see that here she was able to have her own personal touches in Professor Snape’s bedroom.
Steeling herself, Hermione turned and peered down at the sleeping Potions master who was lying on his side that faced her, clad in what appeared to be a gray nightshirt. This time she was not going to touch her ‘husbands’ shoulder or call out his name. Oh no, she was close enough to him as it was, remembering how intimidating he had been before with his dark eyes that seemed to effortlessly pierce her.
He still looked the same as he always did with his black hair - though it did not seem as greasy as usual - sallow skin and prominent nose. But she was surprised to see that he looked somehow more human while asleep, his thin mouth for once not set in a sneer.
Suddenly he moved restlessly in his sleep, struggling as if he could not move for some reason. He was muttering something under his breath.
Despite herself, Hermione edged a bit closer to him to listen.
“You… wait,” Professor Snape hissed. “You… wait!”
He was having a nightmare, Hermione thought in unexpected compassion.
He started swearing under his breath in a tone of impotent rage but underlying fear as well that made Hermione lean down and hesitatingly reach out a hand to touch his shoulder, which felt warm to her touch.
“It’s all right,” she said awkwardly, wondering if he could hear her. “It’s just a nightmare; it’s not real.”
His body jerked under her touch and then Professor Snape woke up, breathing rapidly and staring blindly at her with his black eyes as if she was a stranger, his black hair hanging in a tangle over his face.
Hermione froze, her usual common sense giving her no indication of what to do or say.
Then Professor Snape let out a long, shuddering sigh and the next thing Hermione knew he had swiftly reached out with his hand to pull her down into his embrace, burying his dark head into her neck.
Hermione gulped, but found herself tentatively patting his back as if he was a scared child. It felt peculiar to be held so closely to his thin body, peculiar but not as unpleasant as she would have thought. Then after a moment Professor Snape lifted his head and there was a twisted yet rueful smile on his face when he looked at her.
“My damned school nightmares woke you, I see… my apologies, Hermione” he said softly.
Hermione was surprised at the little leap her heart gave when she heard him call her by her first name, of how lovely it sounded when he said it. She managed to shrug.
“Everyone has bad dreams occasionally,” she ventured carefully, wondering for the first time what his schooling had been like.
He laughed shortly. “It is the memory of a day I cannot shake... on that day I vowed I would hate Sirius and James forever for what they did to me.”
Hermione blinked in unease. She knew of course of the incident years ago where a prank played on Professor Snape had backfired, but it was sounding like that wasn’t an isolated incident…
Then there was a softer tone to his voice that made Hermione blush to her surprise.
“I sometimes wonder if our marriage is a dream sent by the gods to mock me,” he murmured, “but here you are, warm and real as you always are to make me feel whole…”
With that he bent his head closer to her and before she had time to react, his mouth had found hers. She froze, first in surprise and then in wonder, as she seemed to feel her insides melt under his intimate yet loving kiss. His mouth coaxed hers apart as she felt herself being gently pushed on her back, his warm body sliding over hers…
The room spun and then she was back in the courtyard with Lavender holding her arm and looking anxiously at her.
“Hermione, are you all right? Speak to me, please!”
For a moment Hermione couldn’t speak from shock and disorientation, and then she found her voice.
“…I’m fine, Lavender,” she said faintly.
She wasn’t fine.
Hermione felt disillusioned after the disappointing visions of Harry and Ron, not to mention the shock she felt at the odd, aching emptiness inside of her after being in the arms of Professor Snape.
Even though the day itself was pleasant, Hermione shivered for a moment under the calm blue sky.
Lavender’s voice was anxious. “What happened, Hermione – you were starting to look funny. What did you see?”
Hermione managed a smile, thought it was shaky. She felt like blurting out what she had seen, but her instincts warned her to keep quiet about what she had experienced. Certainly if she told Lavender about the vision with Professor Snape, it would be all around the school faster than Harry on his broomstick.
“I’m just a bit disorientated, really… it was so vivid!”
Well, that was true.
“It seemed so real when I saw Harry and then Ron.”
That too, was true. But was it too real?
Lavender relaxed slightly. “So you did see them. That’s important.”
Hermione stared at her. “Ah, could you explain that, please?”
Lavender looked self-important. “Well, Sybil said you would only see people that you had a ‘potential bonding’ with at the moment – it wouldn’t work if you fancied someone and they didn’t have some kind of feeling for you in return.”
Hermione paled slightly. So that meant Professor Snape… no, don’t think of him. Or what he might be thinking of you. Don’t think how wonderful his kisses were…
Hermione put a weak smile upon her face. “I think I’ll go and see Madame Pomfrey after all – I don’t feel quite right.”
“Do you want me to come along with you?” Lavender said in concern.
“No, I’ll manage, but thank you,” Hermione said firmly. Then she glanced at the innocent looking pot. She was wishing she had never used it, but now she had there was something she had to say…
“If I were you I would put that away,” Hermione said quietly and then left the courtyard.
Taking a deep breath she headed towards Professor Trelawney’s tower, for she wished to know if what she had seen was real. Hermione was hoping they weren’t, for she felt she had ruined things between her and Harry and Ron.
She had made no secret of the way she felt about the Divination teacher in the past and so Hermione was wary as to how she would be received. But on the way she saw the Headmaster and hope rose in her. Surely he would know something about seeing the future – the difference at least between true visions and those spun from imaginings and fears.
“Ah, Professor Dumbledore, could I have a word?” Hermione said carefully, trying not to show her agitation on her face.
The old wizard paused in the corridor, his eyes kind. “Yes, Miss Granger?”
How to explain this, Hermione thought. “If you had a way to see into the future, could you trust what you saw there to be true, even if you saw… different possibilities?”
The Headmaster peered down at her over his half-moon glasses and his voice, when it came, was slow. “I feel it is up to each of us to create our own futures, Miss Granger. The future is not set in stone and even if it is, why then stone can be broken.”
Hermione’s heart felt lighter at that. Perhaps she had only seen one possible set of futures – there were probably others where Harry or Ron were more affectionate towards her if she did choose either of them.
In fact, she could think of her visions as warnings of futures to avoid, not as something inevitable! Yes.
But then a memory of Professor Snape holding and kissing her as if he loved her with all his heart rose almost accusingly in her mind, but she managed to push it away.
Then the Headmaster looked at her gently. “Whatever happens in your future, Miss Granger, I am sure there are those who would be pleased to share it with you. But remember there is a difference between being wanted and being loved.”