Hermione didn't speak with Professor Snape directly for the next week. She saw him in class and at meal times, but there wasn't time for conversation. She graded the papers he had house-elves deliver to her rooms and then returned them in like manner. She'd almost convinced herself that she dreamed the events of the prior weekend until her Friday afternoon Potions class. He'd been his usual grumpy self, yelling and berating some seventh year boys who had melted their cauldrons. Again. They had been having some asinine conversation about Quidditch and waited too long before stirring, letting the whole thing get entirely too hot. To her way of thinking, they deserved whatever punishment he doled out.
She couldn't help but notice how his voice rumbled over her skin when he was angry. That ever-familiar tightness in her stomach returned. She wondered what he would do if she--
“Just because you didn't blow anything up does not mean you may smirk at the other dunderheads in the classroom, Miss Granger.” He'd startled her, causing her to almost knock over her own cauldron. “Stay after class,” he snarled. Once again, the sound didn't incite the fear it once had. It stirred something a bit lower. She nodded once and tried to keep her face impassive until the others left.
“You wanted me, sir?” She tried to keep her voice even, but was horrified at the inadvertent innuendo. He stared at her for a moment longer than she was comfortable with before looking back down at whatever he was scribbling.
"If you are free, Miss Granger,” he said, without looking at her. “I will begin my work tomorrow after breakfast.”
“Yes, sir,” she said hesitantly. She paused for a heartbeat as though there was something else, then turned and exited. She stopped again, listening as the door closed behind her.
She distinctly heard a quiet, “Fuck,” and then a small thud, like the sound of a head hitting a desk.
Hermione was not surprised the next day when Snape didn't dine in the Great Hall. She imagined he had gotten up quite early and was already preparing for her arrival. She quickly ate her own breakfast and made her way to the dungeons, two mugs in hand.
“Good morning, sir,” she said, trying to keep the brightness out of her voice. He grunted his response, still writing at his desk. She knew better than to push him at this hour of the day. “Here, sir.” She sat the cup on his desk.
“What is that?” His gruff voice had her longing for the softness of yesterday's invitation.
"You weren't at breakfast,” she answered dismissively, settling into one of the chairs in front of his desk. She caught the flicker of surprise before his features settled back into their unreadable mask.
“And why is it coffee that you've brought me, Miss Granger?” She recognized the challenge in his voice. He used the same classroom tone when he asked a question he knew no one (but her usually) knew the answer to. It often ended in a lengthy writing assignment. She briefly considered how complete of an answer she should give and decided to go all in.
“Because, sir, it's only 9 a.m. You don't drink tea until after at least 10:30 a.m.,” she recited, using her past know-it-all voice to match his classroom voice. “After that time, you have tea with two drops of honey. Until that time, you have black coffee with a teaspoon of vanilla, which you'll find there...sir.” She was feeling slightly smug again. Helping Molly provide refreshments for all those Order meetings had certainly paid off.
“Is that quite all, Miss Granger?” It almost sounded like he was teasing so she decided to press her luck.
“You switch back to coffee after 8 p.m.,” she stated, adding, “with a splash of brandy.”
“Indeed.” His smirk was a mirror of her own.
It turned out to be quite easy working with him. He'd explained the goals of the experiment and gave her the first of her instructions. The ultimate goal was to create a potion with effects similar to Legilimency. The potion, however, would be short term and limited to only those taking the potion at once. He was quite certain that using an existing Shared Dream potion as a base, they could improve on it to allow the users to be both awake while sharing their visions and in control of them. They would start by brewing the basic potion to store for later experimentation.
They spent all morning preparing ingredients. For the most part, they worked in silence. The only noises were the rhythmic sounds of chopping and the vials and bowls rattling as they were filled. She loved this part of potions. Most people were annoyed by the preparation, the time and effort of it. However, it gave her a chance to think. It was against her nature to sit idly. She had to be busy. This work allowed her hands a distraction, giving her mind a chance to wander. Inevitably, it wandered to him. She thought of how she'd known he followed her home from Hogsmeade that day.
She was constantly aware of him. She could feel him working, though he was out of her line of sight, and she knew he had been sneaking glances at her. It was always that way. Without looking, she could tell when he entered the Great Hall for meals. She could usually feel him lurking in the hallways. The most trying times were in class. She could pinpoint his exact location in the room, eyes never leaving her cauldron. She anxiously awaited the time when he would come to her work station to check her work. Close enough to touch. Sometimes his breath would caress her neck as he looked over her shoulder into her cauldron.
She'd long ago decided she was in love with the infuriating man. She assumed that working with him since the start of term was the cause of her increased awareness of him. This had made her life quite difficult, as she had also decided to completely ignore these feelings. Since third year, she'd made the conscious effort to block all emotion for Snape. When she was honest with herself, she noted that her feelings for Ron didn't crop up until around that time.
She was fourteen when she first made two unsettling discoveries. She did not mind the scathing remarks anymore. Moreover, there was something in his deep voice that made her feel things that, even then, she knew she was too young for. Seeing as the man was her Professor and twenty years her senior and a Death Eater, she had written it off as a school girl crush on the term “bad boy” personified. The fact that it was five years later, and the yearning to be with him had only increased, however, made her doubt her conclusions. He was still her biggest fantasy. All she wanted was to feel his--
The abrupt sound of his voice in the stillness of the classroom had her jerking in embarrassed surprise, bringing her knife down just as she was reaching for another vial. The only sound she made was a sharp intake of breath as the blood began pouring from her wrist. She watched in fascinated horror as it pooled on the table. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was vaguely aware that he had moved to her side. The blood was coming faster now. She had the presence of mind to wonder if she'd hit an artery. Her eyes slid from her wrist to his face. She seemed to be falling into the black depths of his eyes. Soon there was only darkness.
Somewhere in the darkness, she heard voices.
“It isn't working. She's lost too much.” A female voice.
“Then I will just have to--” His voice faded back into the starless night.
Hermione awoke to find Harry at her bedside.
“What happened?” Her head was pounding and her arm ached. She attempted to sit up, but his hands stopped her from moving. A sudden wave of dizziness had her lying back in acquiescence. Madam Pomfrey appeared from around the curtain, rushing to her side with a compress that she quickly draped over her eyes.
“Just lay down, Miss Granger,” the mediwitch said cheerfully. “This will help with the nausea.”
“Relax, Mione,” Harry added, taking her hand. When the room was quiet again, she could feel him nearby.
“Yes, Miss Granger?” She heard the curtain rustle as he stepped around it.
“Thank you, sir.” The only answer was the swishing of robes as he quickly left.
After the compress came off and the mediwitch had left them alone, she asked Harry again what happened. “I was preparing ingredients with the professor. He startled me and I slipped. I remember thinking I might've hit an artery because of all the blood and then just darkness.”
“You did,” Harry began, “but something else happened. Snape couldn't get the wound to close. I saw him running through the corridor carrying you and followed in case I needed to avenge your death.” He went on to explain that Madam Pomfrey had finally gotten it to stop, but she'd already lost too much blood. The blood replenishing potions weren't working. Before Harry could ask what was to be done, Snape had already taken off his frockcoat and was rolling up his sleeve. Madam Pomfrey hadn't allowed him to give much so soon after his injury at the final battle but it was enough to keep her alive. “Hermione, did you have a full exam after the battle?”
“No,” she answered a little too quickly. “Why would I? I only had a couple scrapes and bruises.”
“Well, Madam Pomfrey said that your blood must've been both very low and very thin already to bleed out the way you did.”
“Oh, well that's...odd,” she said, closing her eyes. “I probably haven't been eating right.”
“She needs to rest, Mr. Potter.” The mediwitch had appeared again, probably waiting for her to show signs of fatigue.
Hermione was glad when Harry was ushered to the door. Since no one knew that she was the one who had saved Professor Snape, they also didn't know how she'd saved him. When the healing charms hadn't been enough, she did the only thing she could think of and did a transfusion with her own blood. Terrified that she would lose him, she'd thinned her blood so it flowed into him faster. Without any proper instruments, she'd just guessed at how much he needed. Apparently, she'd given too much. She had noticed how tired she'd been over the last months but just assumed it was grief and busyness. In her effort to avoid thinking of all the things that had transpired on and since the day of the final battle, she had completely forgotten that magically altered blood wouldn't replenish itself as it should. She was paying for her carelessness, but she wouldn't have changed a thing if it meant saving him.
She allowed herself a few moments to ponder the Professor clutching her body as he ran and felt overwhelming regret that she'd been unconscious at the time. She resolved to get Harry to Pensieve the memory for her. She let herself imagine being in his arms until she fell asleep.
She spent four days in the infirmary before Madam Pomfrey had her blood levels back up to normal. She was already ahead in all her classes, as usual. She spent her time marking Professor Snape's essays, typically brought by Harry on his visits. She did not see the Professor again the entire time she was in the hospital wing but once or twice in the night, she'd felt him in the room. She slept better knowing he was there.
Per Madam Pomfrey's orders, she did not return to classes until the following Monday. She really did feel much better after the time off and copious amounts of blood thickening and replenishing potions she'd been living on. She could tell a definite difference in her appearance. She hadn't noticed how drawn and tired she had been looking until her color started coming back. Her hair was shinier, her eyes brighter.
She quickly fell back into her normal rhythm and her first days back were like most others. She never seemed to have a chance to talk to Professor Snape at all, let alone about what happened. She was beginning to think he was avoiding her. She grew more and more concerned that he wouldn't allow her to work with him after that foolish incident. By Thursday night, she couldn't think about anything else. She decided to owl him.
Please allow me to convey my most grateful thanks and my deepest apologies for what happened. My embarrassment is beyond words. Please inform me of what I can do to make restitution for all you've done for me.
I can only hope that I may continue to assist you in your work.
Very Humbly Yours,
By Potions the next day, she still had not gotten a response. She feared the worst and dreaded seeing him. He ignored her all through class. It really wasn't out of the ordinary, though she felt as if it sealed her fate. He had not even checked her cauldron. She mourned the loss of those few seconds of closeness. At the end of the class, she packed her items and dejectedly walked to the door.
She paused to steady her suddenly racing heart and turned to him. She both loved and hated that her body tightened just at the sound of him saying her name. “Yes, sir?”
“We will continue tomorrow morning.”
“Yes, sir,” she said and tried to keep herself from skipping to the door.