Hermione woke up more than a little bewildered the next morning. She couldn’t believe her own audacity. She had cursed in front of a Professor, called him a prick and then snogged him in a dungeon stairwell. Insanity. Absolute delicious insanity. She closed her eyes and could almost taste him on her lips again. Her heart sped up at the thought. Forcing back a moan, she pried herself from bed. There was research to be done. She skipped breakfast and went to the library to distract herself from him.
She barged into his office just after lunch, hardly pausing to knock.
“Sir, I think it’s best you allow me to say everything before you speak to avoid further misunderstandings. Will you permit me?”
“I suppose, Miss Granger,” he said, with a resigned sigh.
“First, I resent your implication that I would be anyone’s ‘whore’, as you so bluntly put it.” He opened his mouth to speak, but she held up a hand to silence him. “However, upon further review of encounters you may have witnessed last night, I see where things could be misconstrued. May I show you previous events as well as the whole of my conversation with Ron?” Clearly taken aback by her professional and detached tone, he simply nodded.
Mentally, she played him a few scenes from the summer regarding the nightmares. She showed him that she’d gone to Ron in the night, but that he had continued to sleep on the other side of the bed, not touching her. She finished by letting him see both of her discussions with Ron from the previous night.
She watched his face while he viewed her memories. He flinched at the nightmares. His expression was controlled but his mouth tightened when she climbed into Ron’s bed. Finally hearing Ron’s concern for her, his eyes slid to hers.
“Miss Granger, I—” His tone was apologetic, but she stopped him again.
“I simply want us to be clear before moving on. The second matter I’ve come to discuss is far more complicated.” She pulled a Wizarding magazine article from her bag and placed it on his desk. He looked at it in confusion then looked up at her, brows furrowed. “The Potion,” she said, smirking. She knew he anticipated discussing their moment on the stairs. She decided she rather enjoyed being the one to keep him off balance for once.
“The Effects of Binding in Families?”
“Miss Granger, I may be old enough to be your father but that does not make us family.” Thank God, they both mentally added in the following pause. “I don’t see how this is relevant.”
“Skip about halfway down to the part about siblings.”
“‘No potions with binding agents should be used on siblings unless it is desired that the possible effects be permanent.’ Of course, I am already well aware of this. I do know something about Potions,” he said sarcastically.
“So I’ve gathered. Please explain to me what causes the binding to be permanent,” she said as though she already knew the answer.
“It depends on the purpose of the potion,” he began in his lecture voice. It was fortunate that she did already know the information, as she had a hard time concentrating. The biting edge was gone, leaving his voice smooth and low. It was bad enough when he lectured in a classroom full of other people, but being alone with him when he used the tone was almost unbearable. She struggled to catch up with what he was saying. “Eventually the binding agent,” he went on, oblivious to her internal battle, “forms a temporary link in the partakers’ blood. The problem with siblings is that there are already links in the blood. A binding agent in these cases...” His voice trailed off, realizing what he was saying.
“Makes the link permanent,” she finished for him.
“I believe that was my response as well.” She had been overwhelmed when she made the connection. Though they were obviously not siblings, they did share blood. They had each transfused the other, in essence making their blood magically the same. The bond they shared could not be severed. After the initial shock had worn off, she’d been relieved. She was unsure what his response would be but was certain he wouldn’t be happy. She straightened in her chair and took a deep breath before continuing in her detached tone. “Sir, in light of this new information, I believe it imperative that we maintain our decision to keep our connection undisclosed. For all the reasons we previously discussed, but also because I do not wish to explain how we came to share blood.”
She saw his expression shift slightly and instinctively knew what he’d assumed. She briefly wondered if it was the connection or their friendship that made her notice these minor details. Making a mental note to consider what other links may be present, she pressed on, her voice slightly pleading. “Sir, I don’t want you to think I’m ashamed. Far from it. I do, however, know that if everyone found out it was me, there would be a lot of questions and fuss. I’ve tried very hard to put the whole war behind me and I just want to avoid having to revisit it any more than my subconscious already forces me to. Do you understand?”
“Of course, Miss Granger,” he said quietly. “In fact, I feel exactly the same.”
“Good,” she said, sighing in relief. She quickly stood and gathered her things. She hoped with every fiber of her being to escape the dungeons before he remembered the other subject she had carefully avoided. She knew it was very un-Gryffindor of her, but she wanted to run. Escape was her only option because she had already made her decision. If he questioned her motives, she’d have no choice but to be completely honest—about everything. “I’m to have tea with the Headmistress.” Though it wasn’t for another hour, she rushed to the door as if late. “Good afternoon, sir.” She fled before hearing his answer.
They didn’t speak much for the next couple days. She did some marking for him but it was delivered and returned by owl. She only saw him at meal times. Even their mental conversations were short, strained and far between. She wasn’t sure if the mistake had been in kissing him or in not discussing it with him. She forced herself to believe it was the latter because that was something she could fix. She only had two days before the other students returned and she knew she wouldn’t get another chance.
Are you busy sir?
Not overly so.
I’d like to discuss potion alternatives to Dreamless Sleep. It’s getting out of hand.
I’ll be in the lab.
On my way. Thank you, sir.
Since it was still hols, she wasn’t wearing her robes when she made her way to the dungeons. She regretted it slightly when she reached the cooler air halfway down the stairs but she wasn’t about to turn around and risk losing her nerve. She pulled the sleeves of her simple black Muggle jumper down over her knuckles. She wore no make-up with her hair loose around her shoulders. Looking down at her worn jeans, she again considered going back to change. When she entered the lab, all thoughts of changing evaporated. Her breath caught in her throat when his eyes drifted down over her body before meeting hers again.
“I’ve been working on something that might be of assistance to you,” he said at last, removing a vial from the cabinet. “Instead of removing dreams, it gives you a level of control over them.”
“So if I start to have a nightmare...”
“Just change it into something else.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said, touched that he’d already been working on it.
“You’re welcome, Miss Granger,” he said, turning his back to her. She tentatively moved closer to him.
“We should talk,” she said, softer than she’d meant.
“I see no need, Miss Granger,” he said stiffly. She wondered whether he kept using her formal title to remind them both of their positions. “It was clearly a moment that resulted from a loss of rationality and objectivity on both our parts and will not be repeated.”
She was at his back now but he didn’t move. He was gripping the table edge hard enough to turn his knuckles white.
Turn around. He stayed still until she didn’t think he was going to move at all. He finally turned slowly, eyes unreadable. She didn’t trust her voice so she continued to speak through their connection, keeping her eyes on his. I want you to know I will never keep the truth from you. That said, I didn’t mean for that to happen. If not for her careful scrutiny of his face, she may not have noticed that his eyes dulled slightly. He gave no other outward sign of disappointment. I had rather meant for the first time I kissed you to be, maybe not romantic, but at least less of a physical attack. She smiled sheepishly.
“The first time, Miss Granger?” She didn’t miss the wild look in his eyes before the controlled expression slid back into place. “Need I remind you that you are both my student and also young enough to be my child?”
“No, sir,” she said, lifting her chin slightly. His concerns were for their school relationship and her age. He had not, however, mentioned a lack of reciprocation. If he was going to reject her now, she resolved to show no remorse and no tears. “I am well aware of both of those things and quite frankly, sir, I don’t care. Nevertheless, I will leave this decision to you.”
“And what decision is that?” he said, raising a brow.
“What to do from here, sir. I can’t take it back and won’t say I’m sorry because I’m not. I suppose it comes down to how you feel about those two things.” He stared at her for what seemed like a lifetime.
“It seems that one will not always be the case and the other doesn’t really matter.” She felt relief trickle through her body, followed closely by hope. “Though I will not pretend to comprehend how we’ve found ourselves in this situation, I find myself...relieved to discuss it. At this time, I clearly cannot pursue any further contact with you that would be considered inappropriate. Aside from our little connection,” he added.
“Would you care to hear my thoughts on the matter?” she said primly.
“I was not aware that I’ve ever had the choice of not being subjected to your abundance of opinions.”
“I agree,” she said, ignoring his sarcasm, “that it would not be prudent to further any type of personal relationship while I am still your student. We’ll have to limit our private interactions so that we do not inadvertently display any level of comfort with each other and continue to outwardly clash as often as ever.”
“You are agreeing without argument? I shall note this date.”
“I just haven’t gotten to the argument part yet, though it’s really more of an amendment. I think this plan should be put into action beginning in about five minutes.” His eyes narrowed in response but he didn’t move away when she closed the space between them.
“Conceded,” he said, low and dangerous.
His arms wound around her body. Her head tipped back as she relaxed into him. She tried to slow her racing heart to no avail. The first time she’d acted on anger and instinct with no time for nerves. This time, everything seemed to move in achingly slow motion. Her ragged breath stopped completely when his lips brushed hers. She clutched at his robes when he swiped his tongue across her lower lip. At her gasp, deepened the kiss, lazily tasting her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she wondered if she’d ever really been kissed before. She allowed herself to melt into his leisurely pace for few more seconds before realizing this would probably be the last physical contact they had for an indefinite period of time. It shouldn’t be wasted, even if she was enjoying the slow, calculated torture.
One hand gripped his bicep while the other snaked up into his hair. Rising up on her toes, she pulled him closer into her and kissed back fervently. She wasn’t sure which one of them moaned softly when she caught his lip between her teeth. She was sure it was her moan when he used the hand fisted in her hair to pull her head back, exposing her neck to him. She shivered when his tongue trailed up her neck, concluding in an almost chaste kiss just below her ear.
“I believe it’s been five minutes,” he said, his breath still hot on her neck.
“And you call me insufferable,” she groaned, her head falling back in exasperation. “That was completely unfair.”
“Miss Granger,” he said, using his “detention” voice, except much lower and softer next to her ear. “It would do you well to recall who I am. Fairness is often not one of my virtues.” He illustrated this point by running the tip of his tongue up the curve of her jaw. The sound she made was part sigh, part moan. He chuckled softly and straightened, but didn’t release her.
“Impossible is what you are,” she said, pulling herself together. She looked at him for a moment before her shoulders slumped. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. How will I make it until June? I didn’t expect...” She laid her forehead against his chest, breathing in the scent she adored.
“We shall manage.”
She stood on her toes to give him a peck on the mouth then stepped away. She took a moment to straighten her clothes and stand a little taller. “Thank you for the potion, Professor. I’ll let you know how it works.”
“See that you do, Miss Granger,” he said, turning back to his work.