A/N - Thanks as always to my reviewers.
At Lavender’s exclamation that Hermione had used the salve as well, Professor McGonagall looked at her sharply.
“Well, do you know where she is? It’s important that we see to everyone involved.”
Lavender hesitated. “I don’t know – but she’s probably in the library.”
Professor McGonagall made a hmpf! noise and gave Lavender some obsidian, which in her impatience turned out to be two pieces. “Well, with your younger legs you will be able to find her faster than I would. Run along then… and I hope a search for Miss Granger is not necessary,” she said briskly to Lavender and then gave Sybil a stern look that indicated that she wasn’t finished with the Divinations teacher yet.
Professor Trelawney wilted under the look but rallied slightly when Lavender gave her a quick smile before she left the room. Although the salve had had side effects, it had been an honest mistake on the part of her teacher, Lavender thought loyally. She did hope though, that Hermione would be all right.
Lavender found herself running towards the library, her overactive imagination giving her images of her friend in various kinds of peril. However, when she saw Professor Snape in the corridor she hastily slowed to a walk, her face uncomfortable.
The Potions master looked at her with a sneer. “Ten points off for running in corridors like a first year… do tell me why this is so, Miss Brown.”
Reluctantly Lavender said, “I’m looking for Hermione, sir - I think she could be in trouble.”
“That would not be surprising,” he said coolly, and Lavender found herself wondering why she had imagined a few days ago that the professor fancied Hermione. Of course he would feel duty bound to aid a student if they were in trouble, but he would have shown more concern if it had been someone from his own house.
Then Professor Snape’s black eyes narrowed at her.
“Well? What has Miss Granger done this time!” he snapped.
Wishing she was anywhere but here Lavender explained about the existence of the ‘Balm of Romantic Foretelling’ given to her by Professor Trelawney that would give students including her and Hermione visions of potential partners… and how those who had used it had later on experienced the side effects of having unwanted visions.
“It’s important that I find Hermione and give her this obsidian as soon as I can,” Lavender concluded, bringing out a stone from her pocket. “I think she will be in the library,” she ventured.
Lavender heard Professor Snape hiss something under his breath about ‘foolish teachers’ and she silently bristled in defence of Sybil. She wasn’t a foolish teacher; she was just well, misunderstood.
“Well, come along then,” Professor Snape said impatiently to her, breaking her out of her reverie. Feeling as though she would have enjoyed the company of Professor McGonagall instead, Lavender found herself almost running to keep up with the swift pace of Professor Snape, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of Hermione.
The students she passed kept their distance and Lavender was mortified to see that some of them had sympathy in their eyes, as if she was being taken to detention. She would never live this down!
“No doubt Miss Granger had visions of Potter and Weasley,” Professor Snape said tartly at one point, almost to himself.
As she hurried along the corridor with the Potions master, Lavender had been thinking of how Hermione hadn’t been the same since she had had the visions of Harry and Ron – she had been edgy and had gone so far as to turn down Harry and Ron too, it seemed.
“Um… yes, sir,” Lavender said absently, still thinking to herself and therefore missing the odd, indrawn breath he made beside her. Then she blinked – she had assumed that the visions Hermione had had were pleasant. But what if they weren’t? Although the fact that Hermione had had visions of life with Harry and Ron meant that there were feelings between them – what if these feelings had soured between them later on?
Had Hermione felt she had a good reason to put emotional distance between her and the boys – and would she want ‘memories’ of unpleasant futures rearing up in her mind every time she saw her friends?
“The Pensieve Room,” Lavender said suddenly.
“What?” Professor Snape snapped at her, pausing in the corridor. Lavender noticed that the lines on his face were more pronounced than usual.
“Um, I think she could be in the Pensieve Room, sir,” Lavender ventured.
An unguessable thought flickered through his chilly black eyes for a moment and then he said curtly, “This is possible. Very well – you go and search in the library and I will look in the Pensieve Room. We will meet back here. Do not waste time, is that clear?”
Lavender bristled silently but obediently agreed and after giving the professor the spare piece of obsidian, she continued onwards to the library, while Professor Snape went in another direction at the next intersection.
The Pensieve Room was located in a corridor that was some distance from the main ones, for there was those who would not want it broadcast that they had gone there.
Severus was angry at the idiocy of Trelawney by messing with the minds of students and encouraging their romantic delusions by giving them a way to see the future. Possible futures. His private view of the Divinations teacher was that she was seven kinds of idiot and shouldn’t even be allowed to make hand cream, but his gut feeling told him that this balm of hers had actually worked. Fool of a teacher! Anger ran through him, wanting to find an outlet.
It was better to concentrate on the anger than the other emotions that were lying underneath.
Such as jealousy… and unexpected pain that had seized him at Lavender’s affirmation that Hermione had had visions of Potter and Weasley. Of course she would have, he had sneered quickly to himself. Even though it appeared that Those Three had had some sort of disagreement this morning, it was clear to anyone who had eyes that Hermione would end up with one or the other one day.
Certainly not with someone older, who was from another House. Not with someone who had been cruel to her, who had thrown her thanks back at her face yesterday. Not with someone who was hoping that this search would be a false alarm. Someone who felt more than he should for a student. Someone who…
Severus stopped in the corridor and cut off his train of thought for he was before a plain wooden door with a small bronze replica of a Pensieve fastened to it.
Frowning slightly, he knocked on the door. “Miss Granger, are you in there?” he said crisply.
There was no answer and the Potions master repeated his question. A turn of the handle revealed that the door was locked.
After a few more moments of silence he tapped the lock with his wand. It was possible that there was another student was in there instead of Hermione, but he wasn’t about to waste time in speculation. There was a ‘click’ indicating that the door was now unlocked, and he opened it.
Upon entering the Pensieve Room he saw Hermione slumped over at the table there, her hand lying amongst the silvery strands of the Pensieve. Severus swore under his breath and after striding over to her, he clasped her arm and carefully lifted it up and away from the bowl.
Silvery strands that had been tangled amongst her fingers disengaged and fell back into the Pensieve without making a sound, but Hermione did not respond, nor did she stir when he moved her bushy hair away from her face so it did not obstruct her breathing. Looking at her still, quiet face and hoping that the stone he had been given would somehow revive her, he placed the lump of obsidian in her hand.
He had saved her from possible death before; he would not lose her to the ill that beset her now.
“Come back, Hermione,” he said quietly. He glanced at the Pensieve for a moment and was taken aback at the images he briefly saw within it…
* * * * *
Hermione was floating in darkness. She had come to the Pensieve Room to drain her memories of the visions she had had; well, she had got as far as transferring the visions of Harry and Ron to the Pensieve. It had been a relief to only have dim memories left in her head of the people her friends might yet turn out to be, then somehow the world had lurched and she was within the memory she had placed within the bowl.
Or had her mind been flung through time into the future - a future she was destined to be in even though she had fought with Harry - for the older Harry that lay beside her in the opulent bed had grumbled at her to go to sleep.
No, she had silently said to herself, had closed her eyes and turned her mind inwards. She was a strong witch; she had fought in battles and refused to be tied into a future she did not want. She had to escape, she had to… then somehow her mind jumped free and she was floating in darkness.
But then wherever she was she saw a multitude of paths that were like tangled threads below her that represented many what-ifs and what-might-be, not just the futures that dealt with potential partners. Some paths shone brightly and represented a life well lived; others had a dullness to them and tapered off into darkness. All of these threads sprang from a common point that she knew was herself in the Pensieve Room, but when she tried to move towards it, her efforts seemed to be in vain.
In despair she paused and looked more closely at the threads. One seemed familiar somehow - a graceful yet sinuous thread that shone a bright green and scarlet. As if it perceived her attention she felt herself being pulled towards it and the thread became bigger, a river of colour...
…she was lying in a four-poster bed, feeling relaxed in the darkness of the room and… sated somehow. In the arms of Professor Snape. But remembering their last encounter in his classroom she automatically flinched and drew away from his arms, sitting up.
“Am I really meant to be here?” she whispered to the universe.
“Pardon me?” Professor Snape questioned in sleepy surprise beside her, his voice velvety warm as his hand moved to caress her, a movement that made her quiver in a strange way inside. “You are my wife, so yes, I do believe you are meant to be here.”
Hermione swallowed. “But this… is the future. It’s not now for me,” she said in a small voice.
The professor paused and then at a single quick word from him the room was lit with the light of many flickering candles. He swiftly sat up and looked at her sharply.