Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
Harry's painful whimpering and kicking woke me and I jumped up. I glanced quickly at the sleeping boy, who appeared to have been trapped in a not so lovely dream vision and was kicking around more and more wildly, moaning and begging pitifully.
I noticed that it was nearly two o'clock in the morning and realised that Harry's restlessness and the ever-loudening noise started to rouse the other boys from their sleep, hence I made a decision. I had to act quickly so I reached for my wand, swung myself on top of Harry and settled astride his stomach, looking down at him with uncertainty. Then I resolutely spoke “Dispicio” and Harry's eyes were forced to open and they stared blankly back at me. Caught in a state of sleep they were a gruesome sight.
Now I pointed my wand at him and said a quick prayer for encouragement so that I would be able to go through with it and chanted "Legilimens." This time, I could feel what it was like to be the one to speak the spell and be sucked into the mind of another person, seeing and experiencing what was going in there. It was overwhelming to have that power, but also painful; a dull throb started right away and made my teeth clench.
I could determine that we were in a large room, or rather a small hall built in a style not unlike Hogwarts. It seemed to be an old house built of large, grey stones, or rather a castle, as large as the hall looked. The torches on the walls flickered unsteadily. I tried to soothe Harry so that he would lose his fear and calm down. He seemed to notice my presence in his mind, and when he recognised me, Harry actually seemed to calm down, as his panicked breaths relaxed somewhat.
I realised that Harry perceived everything he saw seemingly through someone else's eyes according to the field of vision I was presented with, and since he had been a serpent steered by the Dark Lord during his last fit, my power of deduction allowed only one disturbing and terrible conclusion! Harry had unintentionally landed in the mind of the Dark Lord and was experiencing what he saw, did and said. It was a frightening idea, but he did not seem to have caught onto our presence yet. I stayed calm with that realisation and curiously watched the scene, now that Harry, with my support, had also become calmer.
We heard Voldemort's unfathomable, no longer human-sounding voice echoing off the high walls of the hall as he addressed an elderly, ugly man whose face was stained with heavy pockmarks, named Augustus Rookwood, with clinking coldness. I recognised him as one of the Death Eaters who had escaped during the mass Azkaban outbreak and decided to look up his vita.
It was disgusting to watch the man throw himself at the Lord's feet without any pride and report faithfully to him. My mouth opened, I did not have to look it up anymore, now I learned firsthand who Rookwood was. He had once been an Unspeakable and was just answering the Dark Lord. He informed him that he had been misinformed so far; that his previous attempts to extract something from the Department of Mysteries, specifically a prophecy, could not work out, and that the murdered Bode had known the grave consequences of the wards and that was why he had fought so bitterly against the Imperius Malfoy had placed on him.
So that had been Lucius’ work. What a surprise. Did he kill him too?
I could feel Harry getting more and more restless, and his moaning was getting louder again as well, so much that I could not calm him down any longer. Then I felt both of us being rudely shaken and reluctantly left his mind, closing my eyes and releasing the curse. I collapsed immediately on Harry's chest because of the unfamiliar strain of invading someone else's mind. Being on this side of the spell too was painful and exhausting as hell, as I had just learned the hard way.
“Harry, wake up!” I could hear Ron shouting with worry.
“Hermione, what are you doing on top of Harry? Get down!” someone said, I think it was Neville, shaking me, and I waved him away weakly.
“Uhhhh!” Harry groaned and frantically reached for his scar. “Hermione!” I did not let myself be distracted or pulled away by the hands of Ron and Neville - as I recognised him now for sure. I pulled myself together and robbed higher again to look into Harry's now alert eyes.
“Harry, are you okay?” I asked, with concern in my voice.
“Hermione, you were there, I felt you ... very intensely!” he whispered hoarsely. Because of his choice of words, I saw out of the corner of my eye, how one or two of the boys in the now completely awake room flinched. Man, they could only think about one thing. Adolescent boys! Though Harry did not make it any better with his next words.
“You were as deep as he has never gotten. You felt it too, right?” he asked, alluding to his Occlumency lessons with Snape. I did not pay attention to the gasps of surprise of the others but continued to look at him intently, brushing over his scar myself. The sight we made had to be glorious, with me sitting on Harry's stomach, almost lying on his chest.
“Harry, you have to get stronger. Everything you saw was not that bad! No murder, no torture. Well, maybe it was less intense this time, but you have to do it, damn it” I implored him downright angrily, grabbing his head roughly with my hands; I had thrown my wand down onto the pillow.
“Yes. Yes, I know, Hermione, I know, it's just so hard. I am not as strong as you! My head hurts so badly!” he wailed wearily. Did he think mine did not hurt as well? It certainly was not easy to always have what Harry had, the constant connection.
“Oh, nonsense, Harry. You are stronger than you think. And if I have to practice with you every day now, I don’t care, but one day you will be able to do it! You have to learn to control it, not let it control you,” I ranted and vowed to myself: Even if I did not sleep at all, we would do it.
“But the other … teacher said that I cannot see anything! That I have to occlude it completely!” he introduced Snape into the conversation, biting his lower lip in a sign of anxiety.
“Did you ever listen to something this... teacher told you? If you could finally master this art, I think you would be stupid not to use it for yourself, but you can’t!” I shouted, very upset now as I knew it would be dangerous should the Dark Lord ever notice how close Harry could get to him.
“Do you have any idea what we saw there? Or what they were talking about?” He straightened up and I slipped off of him and sat down cross-legged beside him. He pulled himself up and leaned exhausted and sweaty against the headboard. Ron carefully handed him a glass of water.
“Thanks, Ron,” I said in place of Harry who was drinking greedily. “Yes. Now we have the confirmation that they murdered Bode because he had learned to speak again!” I answered Harry's question, brushing tangled strands of my hair out of my heated face.
“You were right about the curse that makes it impossible to steal things from... there and that he had no idea about it. You even know things he doesn’t know... You are incredible!” Harry slowly began to understand the connections and he shook his head numbly. His headache had to be terrific; it was probably something else to share his mind with someone, rather than just invade it with magic.
“Yes, great, but now he knows it too, our advantage is gone!” I was getting very annoyed right now. I called a headache potion out of my dormitory and handed it to Harry with resignation.
“You mean… You had... another vision?” Ron stuttered reverently, running a hand through his messy, red hair and displaying a scared face at the memory of what had happened before Christmas when a vision of Harry had saved his father.
“Yes, Ron, I did. But I woke up when that guy Rookwood started talking about the different rooms ... and then nothing!” he explained readily. Hmm, I thought to myself, if they were aware that I knew at least three rooms from experience... After all, that had been a very successful burglary of mine. 'Hey, guys, I broke into the Ministry at Christmas and swiped few documents. I am a thief.' Yes, exactly, I should do that, they would faint dead!
“Um, sorry. What are you talking about?” Dean spoke up.
“Yeah, I would also like to know what you did with your wand in Harry's face?” Seamus also asked, looking at me suspiciously.
“Er, well…” The linguistically very imaginative reply came from Harry and Ron.
“Nothing, guys, you don’t have to worry, Harry's alright! This has to do with his ‘extraordinariness’. Thank you for your concern, but go back to sleep, tomorrow is a school day. We are terribly sorry that we woke you up!” I spoke resolutely and did not even respond to the questions. Then I was allowed to experience how their incredulous eyes lay on me and they stared at my pajamas. I was about to roll my eyes in desperation. Adolescent boys! They didn’t even see anything, but the knowledge that it was my nightgown seemed to be stimulating to the boys.
“Yes. But Hermione, won’t you tell us what exactly is wrong with Harry?” Dean continued to question. “Besides, you shouldn’t even be in here. If McGonagall found out about this…” What did the little boy want? Threaten me? I was threatened by people like Lucius or Snape; should I be afraid of a child, like Dean? Ridiculous, my dear. I could make you tremble with fear.
“I don’t think I need your permission to sleep in Harry's bed! Jealous that no girl wants to crawl into bed with you? Or is it the envy that Harry is already gaining experience where you still have wet dreams? Do not threaten me, Dean, because that - and I can promise you that - would backfire badly!” I threatened, ice cold. Oh, I could aim so well below the belt. Not for nothing did I manage to convincingly mime the hooker. “And tell you what is wrong with Harry? I can ... We cannot do that, because Professor Dumbledore doesn’t want us to tell anybody!” I thought of the perfect excuse for his actual question.
“Hermione!” Ron shrieked after my frivolous speech and Harry just stared at me with his mouth wide open. Neville looked like he was about to implode, his face was so deeply red. Seamus scratched his head in embarrassment, jumping from one leg to the other, and Dean had such big eyes that the whites of his eyes positively stuck out of his dark-skinned face.
“Oh, I understand. If you're truly feeling well, Harry, then good night!” a frightened Neville abruptly said and went embarrassed back to bed in his broom pajamas. Yes, brooms! They flew wildly back and forth on the pajamas. Who bought him something like that? He was no longer a child! Poor Neville…
My reputation in Gryffindor was evidently getting better day by day. I didn’t want to know what Dean would tell our Housemates tomorrow.
“It's nice that you are so worried, but I'm really fine and unfortunately you cannot help me with that, sorry! And thank you for letting Hermione sleep in my bed with me, that means a lot to me, thank you!” Harry finally joined in, who seemed to have recovered from his shock and probably tried to save the situation, so that Dean was not too angry. Ron flopped onto the mattress on the other side of Harry, so that we were all three of us sitting on Harry's bed, and the others went all back to their bunk beds.
Now that I had time, I created the wards and made sure that we did not bother the others anymore and could talk in peace without being overheard.
“So, Hermione, what was that with Harry earlier? What did you do as you sat on him? What happened there? And what about Dean? Was not that a little ... unsavoury? I mean, you don’t want anything from Harry, do you?” Ron wanted to know decidedly. I nibbled on my lower lip. That I could never hold my tongue! Sometimes, but only sometimes, I could understand that Snape wanted to shut me up. In moments like these, I would love to help him.
“First of all, no, I don’t want anything from Harry, but Dean's insinuation or threat of myself not being allowed in here with Harry upset me and only that stupid comment came to mind! I hope you don’t mind that they think now we have something going on?” Abashedly, I glanced up at Harry.
“Well, but that was way below your usual level of niveau!” Ron said, and Harry nodded, too, still looking at me while I worked through the shock that Ron knew the word ‘niveau’.
“No, Hermione, I don’t care what they think. I have long since given up trying to live up to their expectations. Otherwise, I would never be happy in my life. However, you were really a bit vulgar; that's not how I know you. I never thought that you could speak words like that!” Harry and Ron nodded in unison. I played with my long hair and rubbed it between my fingers. Well, time once again to let them glimpse behind my masks.
“Just because I do not talk like that normally, why should that mean that I’m not able to say something like that? It was really not that bad. And boys, only one advice, I can do a lot! Do not make the mistake of underestimating me! This is not a threat like Dean's, that's just a piece of well-intentioned advice!” I replied calmly. That would have to be enough at the present time, they already looked quite overwhelmed. Hence, I picked up Ron's question again and said:
“You know that I support Harry in learning Occlumency?” I looked at Ron and he nodded. “Well, when I realised that he was trapped in the vision, I thought it would be a good idea to better understand this connection by looking at it and cast ‘Legilimens’!” I admitted and Ron just looked gobsmacked.
“Eheheh,” was his brilliant contribution.
“That's the incantation, mate, Snape always uses to invade my mind!” Harry explained helpfully.
“Oh shit! But Harry, it always hurts you so much! Hermione, you hurt Harry!” He now looked at me with an upset expression and the hidden blame came through.
“Stop, stop, Ron. No, unlike Snape, it did not hurt me that much, she rather calmed me down. Why did it not hurt, Hermione?” Harry cocked his head and looked at me with curiosity. The other topic seemed to have been forgotten, goddess be thanked.
“I think because I didn’t want to rip any memories or the like from your mind. I only accompanied you to what you saw at that moment. I didn’t build up any pressure, just drifted with you and didn’t force you to do anything, I think that makes the difference!” I tried to explain the processes.
“Hmm, I think you are right. That sounds logical to me. But what should we do now?” Ron asked, slightly overwhelmed. It seemed to trouble him that Harry had this constant connection to the Dark Lord.
“Nothing, Ron. What should we do? Harry has to work harder on himself!”
“Yes, that's fine. But what does Voldemort want? What?!” Harry shouted very agitatedly and frantically tore at his hair.
“A prophecy that seems to be about you, otherwise the whole drama would not exist and at least one human died because of it and Ron's dad was badly hurt! And the so-called adults leave us completely in the dark!” I said contemptuously.
“Bloody hell, all of it! I hate it!” Harry shouted angrily and Ron stared at him shocked at his outburst, but as quickly as Harry got worked up, as quickly did his mood change and he collapsed, full of doubts. “At least now someone else knows what it's like to see and experience the world from Voldemort's perspective!”
Ron and I exchanged worried looks at Harry's sudden resignation.
“Yes, Harry and all will be fine; we’ll always be by your side. Come on, we have to get out early tomorrow morning, try to get some sleep,” I asked softly and stroked his arm reassuringly, trying to lift up his spirits.
“Yes, mate, try it, you have something there to cuddle!” Ron smirked mischievously and wiggled his eyebrows. He suddenly had an incredible likeness to the Twins.
“Will you stay, Hermione?” Harry enquired shyly.
“Of course, what did you think?” I said with stressed cheerfulness and slipped back under the covers and Ron said:
“Good night you two! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do myself and take care of him!” and went back to his bed. My outburst didn’t seem to be a big deal for him.
“How did you come up with the idea to join me ... inside my mind?” Harry whispered after a long time of silence.
“I didn’t think about it. It was the only thing that occurred to me and I was curious!”
“I think I don’t know anyone else who voluntarily wants to see what I see. You are crazy!”
“Aren’t we all? Remember, we live in crazy times! I think that's why I attacked Dean that way, because I'm glad that I was here and had the opportunity to join you,” I tried to justify my behaviour.
“Mh-mh, you are right. I won’t let Dean dictate if you can be with me or not! So thank you. Sleep well! ... I'm looking forward to our run, I really do!” He pulled me close and snuggled up to me seeking comfort. Poor Harry! For at least a few hours we found some - now restful - sleep.
The morning run did us both good because, I reluctantly admitted it, Legilimency was not easy and no child's play. I had had a hard time maintaining the spell. This whole mind-invading thing seemed to come with some pain, so it was a relief to breathe in the cool and fresh morning air and forget the night's horror.
We got spring now and we witnessed nature's awakening to new life. The trees showed their first buds and the colours all around took on richer tones again. Also, the animals that came out of their caves and the high chirping of the little birds in the morning showed that we finally left the winter behind us.
I was grateful that we apparently could trust Dean, Seamus, and Neville, or that my threat was so well received that they considered what they were telling, because it was rumoured that I had slept with Harry again, which was not surprising since everyone had seen me dragging him to the dorm with me, but there was no rumour about the nocturnal scene that had taken place in front of the boys. And thus we were glad that we could apparently rely on the three in this regard and they understood the seriousness of the situation and would rather be silent.
We received a lot of letters today as well and the content was consistently positive. I was curious when and how the Dark Lord would react to the interview. On account of this very good development, I could imagine that Lucius was very busy with calming down Fudge. Yes, it had been a successful coup and at the right time, because even though I should not leave the castle, I would have to because I still had important things to do, which did not tolerate any delay. The last thing I needed was a bored Malfoy who confused me with a prey that he absolutely had to hunt.
Of course, the rumours caught Draco’s attention and he used the coin to tell me that he wanted to talk to me briefly before staying with Snape. Well, I could fulfill that wish.
It was nice to feel Draco's body pressed urgently against mine and how he attempted to push me into that very wall. He tried to devour me with his mouth and we kissed as if there would be no tomorrow. His tongue drove me crazy, teasing and caressing mine. Suddenly he eased away from me with visible reluctance, breathing heavily and gently stroking my hair out of my face. When he put his hand on my cheek and softly stroked my skin with his thumb, I wanted to stay with him forever.
“And how is Potter in bed?” he whispered hoarsely, hinting at the rumors.
“Restless!” I replied cheekily and grinned diabolically at Draco.
“Mhmh, so it shouldn’t be so desirable to land in it, or am I seeing this wrong?” He grinned no less lewdly and leaned forward.
“Maybe not as desirable as getting into yours, from a fun factor point of view, but a lot more informative!” I teased him a bit. It was true though.
“How do you mean?” He looked at me curiously now.
“Harry had another vision and I joined in by Legilimency,” I explained shortly.
“Hermione, do you know how dangerous that is if you've never done that before? Oh, what do I say, I can save my breath ... of course you've read everything!” he shook his head in resignation, his pale blond hair swinging around his face.
“Exactly, Draco, and everything went well and as I said, it was very informative,” I stated and continued to be convinced of myself.
“Why did you crawl into bed with Potter again?” he enquired snobbily. It seemed to keep bothering him.
“Why do you think I did? The article and the reactions of the people and our schoolmates have really hurt him. He said that they are all turncoats, false to the last person; he sounded very bitter,” I elaborated quickly, shaking my head sadly.
“Potter’s growing up. I did not think it possible that he would ever develop such a realistic worldview!” he praised reluctantly, which astonished me very much.
“Yes. But what some do is really too banal, it is pathetic!” I agreed with Draco.
“Not everyone can be like you, darling!” he flattered me in a rough voice. He now braced himself against the wall and rubbed his hard body wantonly against mine, while he blew gentle kisses on my neck and began to bite me lightly. I moaned lustfully and would have liked to give in because the goosebumps spread over my entire body.
“Will you come to me after you finish with Severus? I have so many visions of you that I would like to put into action!” he tried to seduce me with his hoarse voice.
“Yeah, of course, I'll come as soon as he lets me go! Do you already know how Lucius reacted to yesterday's article?” I remembered to ask suddenly.
“No, which means that he is in stress because I immediately wrote to him and informed him about it. Usually, he answers me promptly, so your intrigue has worked out!” He kissed me impetuously and I returned it with pleasure, pleased with his praise, when he broke away regardless and continued talking. “You have to go, otherwise he'll never let you go and I want a lot from you tonight!” Decidedly, he pulled my head towards himself and kissed my forehead goodbye, turned away and was swallowed by the darkness of the dungeons.
I took a deep breath. It is a pity that we only had so little time for ourselves, but fine. A short time later I arrived at the professor's office and found it empty again, only this time there were no instructions for me. I frowned in confusion.
What to do? If I left without doing anything, I wouldn’t want to have the next practice session with him, because he would most likely crush me with his anger. Besides, I liked brewing for myself and so I got down to work. I did not mind having extra work, I had never felt myself to be too good for that.
Hence, I went to his storeroom and generously helped myself with the ingredients, then I started the Sleeping Draught and skilfully brewed away. The minutes passed, half an hour, an hour ... it was almost ten and he still hadn’t turned up. I ruled out that there was another teacher conference going on. The only thing that occurred to me then was not really a better alternative and so I hoped that it was not going badly at the Dark Lord’s since he had been gone for so long. The call must have happened on short notice and unexpectedly, otherwise he would have made arrangements for me and I do not like to say it, but I started to worry.
Where was Snape?
By now, I had long since taken off my school cloak and was now wearing only the blouse with the sweater and my school skirt, while I conscientiously pottered around. Suddenly, I heard a loud clatter and only seconds later the door opened loudly. I looked up startled and started. A figure staggered in and seemed barely able to stand on their feet, as they supported themselves on the wall, anxious to focus their gaze on the floor and I could watch now as dark red blood spread over the same.
I could not really know if this was Professor Snape in front of me, as the dark figure was wrapped in a night-black long cloak, which was now hanging in shreds from his body. The hood covered his whole head and the face was hidden behind a silver mask.
At his ruined sight, my heart took a dive. This proud, strong and powerful man looked so torn; had that been done by a Blasting Curse?
“Professor!” I whispered softly, shocked and immediately ran to the door and slammed it shut. Not that anyone else saw him running through the school, he, a Death Eater! Luckily he knew my secret passageway. Imagine that he had marched in through the castle portal! No, I better did not imagine that, because I would only get a stomach ulcer!
“Mi...ss… wh… ?” he stuttered, gasping for breath. Okay, there was not much to learn from him at the moment, so I quickly and resolutely grabbed his arm, heaved it over my shoulder and supported him hard. It did not matter to me that he was bleeding all over me. So, with his subtle help, I opened the hidden door to his chambers and pulled him more than I carried him to the bedroom. Was it normal for a student to be so well versed in her teacher's private rooms? No, certainly not, but what was normal with me?
“Lie down, sir,” I ordered and hoped that he would or could help a bit, but in that second he finally seemed to give in to his pain and lost his consciousness and thus he landed very roughly and unchecked on the mattress and yanked me ruthlessly with him.
“Phew… Sir, you are very heavy!” I grouched my way out from under his body, and then pulled him into the middle of the bed with difficulty, sweating profusely; that was exhausting. But now he was laying down so I could examine in peace, trying to figure out what had knocked him into this state. The more I saw, the surer I was that it was necessary to hurry. Such a battle-hardened and experienced man as Snape, who was used to pain and injury, did not lose consciousness for a triviality. I brushed aside all misgivings and quickly spelled him out of the ruined, dirty clothes and left them lying on the floor.
I did not think long. I had never before had the honour to see him completely naked and what can I say, it interested me secondarily that I now had my professor lying in front of me completely exposed, because the deep, torn, bleeding flesh wounds on his upper body had me much more worried.
Shit, how had he managed to apparate and drag himself here? I only saw blood and it just kept flowing out of his body. He would bleed out if I did not act fast.
Stop, he had an iron will, I realised with a grin, despite the life-threatening situation. And what was I a witch for? First, I called all the potions with an Accio to me and while these were flying towards me and came to rest on the bed, I already spoke a strong Tergeo to cleanse the wounds and sent an Episkey on its heels and one or the other healing spell as well.
I resorted to everything that occurred to me. As soon as I realised that I had already achieved success with some of the smaller wounds and stopped the bleeding, I climbed determinedly onto the big bed and uncorked the vials, crawled to his head and put it on my legs to raise his head, ready to gently pour the various fluids gradually into him in his unconscious state.
But first, this damn mask had to go! I tried to take it off him, in vain, as I desperately realised slowly but surely! It didn’t move from the spot and I now understood the purpose of these masks. It was obvious that they should help to keep their identities hidden, but apparently, only they could take off the masks. How should I ply him with the potions when a narrow mesh denied me the access to his mouth? Not an easy task. I got a slight panic attack and terribly nervous. Then I called myself sternly to order and calmed down my thoughts. I would not save him if I lost my nerve, I had to keep my head together. Stay calm, Hermione!
In that moment I had a brilliant idea and I stroked his open, shredded and bloodstained chest, picked up the still warm blood that was still bubbling up so quickly from some of the wounds, generously spread it on my hand and mumbled a little Black spell, Velare, which should conceal my identity for a brief period of time.
I hoped I could fool the magic on the mask and pretend that I was Snape, putting my blood-wetted hand on the side of the mask and lo and behold, it was so easy if you had just the right idea. As a first reaction, it changed directly in front of my incredulous eyes. Were not all the mask silver in colour? They had been at the Quidditch World Cup. But no, he still wore an iron mask, only this was now matted black and circling ornaments in a bright green ran around the forehead, the eyes and the chin. Through the eye-slits his eyes, which had just been opened briefly, could be seen, gazing at me feverishly with dark intensity, before they fell shut again.
But secondly, and that was the more important thing, the mask finally loosened and revealed the professor's extremely pale, almost bloodless face, which glistered with unhealthy sweat. With a flowing motion, I threw the mask through the room and the metal landed on the floor with a loud clatter.
He had closed his eyes but his eyelids twitched restlessly and he was breathing slowly and heavily. Hence, I hurriedly lifted the first vial to his mouth and slowly and carefully poured the liquid into his mouth so that none of the healing potions would be lost. I withheld only the pain and sleep potion because I still knew how the professor had always pointed out during my treatment that they would only hinder a quick healing and I was sure, like me, he would rather endure the pain, but get faster back on his feet for it.
When I finally finished I jumped up quickly and again cast a strong healing spell. Unfortunately, still not all wounds mended. Two gaping, disgustingly deep tears on the front didn’t want to close for good. It looked as if something had blown up the skin and torn the flesh deeply; the tissue was hanging in shreds. Fortunately, no organs seemed affected, but unfortunately, he was losing blood steadily and due to the high loss of this vital bodily fluid, he was unconscious, which was probably better, because I would not want to be awake during what I would have to do.
Without much thought, I conjured needle and thread. I had to be quick, had to hurry because the blood-replenisher I administered earlier was not a miracle worker and would not keep him alive forever.
Well, in my past, when I was still a schoolgirl and handcraft was mandatory, I would not have wanted to be the fabric I had been working on. It was a tragedy without equal, only my practical arts in Herbology could compare. I was able to do a lot, almost everything, but here I had failed spectacularly. Due to that knowledge, my hands trembled a bit because this was the skin of a human being and not a piece of fabric that could be thrown away after a messy job.
Shit, that was Professor Snape! He would kill me if I didn’t do a good job on him and so, despite the necessity to hurry, I closed my eyes briefly and tried to collect myself, taking a deep breath.
But I would not be me if I did not successfully banish that little bout of nervousness and get down to stitching. I took aim and stabbed through, again and again. The feeling of stabbing through elastic skin was unfamiliar. It was surprisingly easy, and so I held the torn, uneven flaps of skin together and did stitch by stitch, hoping the suture would not look too cruel. How good it was that I did not get sick easily. Meanwhile, he was not moving, not even a groan or a whimper escaping his unconscious form, something that I found admirable.
The wounds were huge and I felt like I would never get to the end of it, although I worked as fast as I could. The sweat was flowing freely, I was just focused on wielding the needle as fast and accurate as humanly possible. When I had done the last stitch and knotted the thread, I spoke another healing spell and could witness that my efforts had paid off and the wounds now mended and did not open again. He had not twitched once during the rough treatment. Should I be happy or worry even more?
Now I allowed myself to breathe easier and after a Scourgify I was able to see that his chest was almost restored and also recognisable as such. I stroked my sweaty forehead with my bloody sleeve, groaned and dared to turn to his back. With a little magical help, I managed to turn the professor around in all his nude splendour. I felt like crying if I ever did something like that - but a Hermione Granger never did - when I realised what his back looked like. It was like a single, open, and festering wound, a cruel sight that I put up with here. Good thing I had already seen so much, otherwise I would puke now, but after all, it just couldn’t keep up with Bole’s open throat.
I went the same way as on the front. Cleanse, heal, cleanse and see what did not close on its own. It must have been two curses that hit him. The one on the chest had clearly been a nasty cutting curse, and the one on the back was more reminiscent of an exploding, blasting, or fire curse he had intercepted with his back, but I could not say that for sure. Clearly, here I would need Diptam and Murtlap essence and called the desired containers with another Accio. I would also require the essences for the suture on his front.
When I wanted to dip my hands into the ointments, I noticed that they were smeared with the professor’s blood all over and cleaned them thoroughly.
A short while later, I was kneeling over the injured body of the professor and generously rubbing both ointments all over his back, once again observing the effect of magic in its purest form, watching the single, fleshy, bleeding wound that had been his back slowly beginning to heal in front of my eyes. Of course, the potions were also supporting from the inside out. I closed my eyes for a moment, exhausted. I was acting like a robot would do.
As I rubbed over his back over and over again, I felt how drained I was. That was really exhausting. Healing magic itself was a hell of a difficult task and I was not as good at is as in many other areas. I could do it, it was necessary, important, as I saw right now vitally important, but I was not a genius here. However, the elaborate healing itself consumed a lot of energy. First, the sewing had required concentration and now the rubbing-in of the ointments cost strength. Also, my adrenaline level lessened now, which had shot up when I had caught sight of Snape's injured person, and I was so focused on treating him that I did not notice the calling voice. Only when someone stood in the doorframe to the bedroom and I obstructed the light, I growled unwillingly, because I couldn’t see enough anymore.
“What’s happening here, Hermione?” I heard a suspicious, deliberately questioning voice.
“Hermione, I’m talking to you,” came the demanding reminder when I did not respond.
“Don’t have time,” I yelled back to Draco, exasperated, and skipped back slightly to turn the unconscious Snape back around through hard work to treat the suture on the chest with the essence as well.
“What’s wrong with him?” he sounded worried now and hurried towards me and helped me without being asked to turn the unconscious man back over.
“Later. Please cast another strong Episkey on him…” I asked wearily, rubbing the ointment meticulously into his chest and stomach. Draco did not ask any more questions at the sight, and did as ordered, healing the professor.
Later, we both sat next to the naked, still unconscious man, who, if he knew this, would go ballistic. I just uncorked the next ration of Blood-Replenishing Potion and instilled it, and then I got up with a sore back and stretched.
“Well, I can’t think of anything more to do!” I said exhausted and looked down at Snape.
“What happened? I found traces of blood in the dungeon!” Draco said excitedly though he was careful to whisper.
“What?! You have to make the traces disappear, no one is allowed to know about the secret passage! ... Why are you even here?” I asked, confused. Draco looked up at me.
“It’s nearly one o’clock, I wanted to see where you stay!” He only answered my second question.
“What? Already so late? Then it took longer than anticipated!” I rubbed my face tiredly. So I tried for almost three hours to save the professor's life. What were those curses that had made my life so difficult and almost ruined his? Who had cast them against him? Who had done that?
“Will you tell me what happened?” Draco requested and suddenly stepped close to me and handed me a glass, which made me look up in surprise. Was he in the living room for a moment? Did he remove the tracks? Apparently. I had to be a bit beside myself. Concentration, I called myself to order.
“Thanks!” and took a long sip of the burning alcohol, which revived my spirits in a rush and I gasped. “I arrived and he was not here and since I know him, I just started to brew a Sleeping Draught ... He didn’t come back for a long while... I'd already started to worry because I had a bad feeling in my gut ... And then he came in ... more stumbling, I helped him then, supported him and then he passed out! The blood loss ... must have been too high, he did almost bleed to death …” I said haltingly as I abruptly stopped, watching Draco carefully cover the naked body with a blanket and gently stroke Snape’s hair out of his face in a worried gesture.
“Thank you, Hermione, you seem to have saved his life! What would we do without you?” he said honestly moved in a husky voice, smiling gently, before he again looked anxiously down into the deathly pale face of his uncle.
“Don’t tell him that! I have just given him the same kindness he always had the goodness to give me. I also owe my life to him; we should not make anything big out of a matter of course!” I said quickly, and then I heard Draco laugh softly and quietly.
“Hermione, you both can be so similar in some ways, it's incredible. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if you had not been there. Anyone else who had seen that he was not there would have run away and you just stand there and choose to brew a potion! I bet you would have stayed the whole night and brewed a whole book. I want to thank you again for being so worried about my family!” he replied gravely, still staring at Snape in his comatose sleep. I now stepped up to Draco and put my hand on his arm.
“I thought I belong to your family now and family sticks together?” I whispered quietly.
“Oh, you do! But I was not sure how you regard the whole thing and whether you already see yourself as part of this family!” he said judiciously and deliberately.
“Of course, I see myself as part of it, I have come to terms with the facts. But I would’ve helped Snape regardless!” I said hotly.
“I know you would! You have a good heart. What do you believe happened? I don’t think it was the Dark Lord. Something does not fit,” he asked worriedly, sounding tired.
“Why?” I asked, surprised that Draco was so sure of that.
“The Dark Lord is not stupid, he never was and never will be! He doesn’t torture his best men and almost kill them, he might punish them sometimes... but never Father and Severus. Never before, do you understand? Even to the rest of the Inner Circle, he doesn’t do that often. I think there was something wrong with a mission…”
“Yes, you are right, the Dark Lord would be stupid to injure his own people like that. We will have to wait until he tells us!” I tried to console Draco.
“Yes. Does he need supervision?”
“Good, then I will take over the first two hours. You are completely exhausted from healing; lie down on the couch and sleep. Do I have to pay attention to something?” he asked. I didn’t even get to explain anything to him before he eyed me again from top to bottom and instructed me, “and before you lie down, go to the bathroom and wash, you're covered in blood. You even wiped it across your face. Take a shirt out of his closet, his size will almost be a nightgown for you!”
Am I that dirty? I hurried to the cupboard, giving instructions to Draco in the meantime.
“I think you should give him those four vials again in an hour, then he should recover quite well,” I said tiredly and shuffled hastily into the big bathroom, which was tiled in black. A window showed a view of the lake and gave everything a slight greenish shimmer. Wow, I had never seen such a gloomy bath. It was accented by green and silver snakes and twines; the fittings also shone in silver. Even the tub was made of shimmering, glossy black material and the flickering torches on the walls gave the surroundings a mystical atmosphere.
The beauty of the whole arrangement didn’t really register in my foggy brain. I dropped my things to the floor and gazed into my dirty face, which looked pale and bleary-eyed under the dried rusty-red blood.
I stepped into the shower and washed quickly, afterwards just cleaning my knickers and then putting on Snape's herbal scented white shirt, which fell down to my thighs and covered my hands. I looked like a little girl, but I just didn’t care. I climbed over my filthy clothes and magically dried my hair as I left the room and walked like a sleepwalker under the attentive gaze of Draco, who had made himself comfortable next to Snape on his bed, into the living room without consciously seeing anything.