I rose from my bed and looked at the clock. Seven-thirty. Thursday morning. I sighed and stretched, letting my mind fully wake up. Feeling more awake, I got up and went to the bathroom, to wash my face and brush my hair. The girl in the mirror that greeted me looked a little bedraggled, with her frizzy hair even more-so, and all over the place. I smiled at myself, sticking out my tongue, then spalshed my hands and face with water.
The events of the previous week went through my mind again. I'd gotten so mad, hearing someone insult Snape. It reminded me too much of Ron, and Harry, always so sure it was Snape, always so quick to jump on him... Back then, I would have gotten frustrated, brushed it off, maybe told them off a bit and then laughed easily, but things seemed to hit me different these days. I'm sure I didn't insult her, Mary Noble, but I know I let my voice get a bit loud. I also know I was probably still screaming at her to stop it when she came over to punch me.
Then last night, two Gryffindors? My class? I looked at the ceiling, thinking. Probably Jessica and Sharron. It's Jessica's younger sister in detention, and Sharron is never happy when I tell her there's nothing going on, that Snape's not playing spy anymore, that I can't get her in a private meeting with Minister Kingsley, and what have you. Probably thought I'd be more willing to talk with incentive.
Thinking about them made me roll my eyes. Hadn't I been on the run for a year? Put under the wands of various Death Eaters? Hung out with boys who tail danger like dogs chase cars? What did those girls think would happen trying to get into my new rooms last night? But, that's really what it's all about: they just didn't seem to get it.
I was getting so tired of hero worship, even more-so of people who thought I was looking for it. I had wondered often the last few months if Harry hadn't felt exactly like this, the whole time he was at Hogwarts. At least he'd had me and Ron, two close friends to talk to. And the other students; people who had never really known about the fear of Voldemort, or worried if things were going to truly go to hell around them. Everything we'd done, we'd done so less than a year ago. Everyone here knew my story, knew what'd happened and knew what I'd done. They just... didn't know me.
It was weird, but Snape was one of the few people I felt comfortable around, and definitely the person I felt the most comfortable with. He alone treated me like a normal. Yes, his normal tended to be on the gruff side, but normal none the less. Some days, it was nothing but schoolwork and Snape that kept me from feeling like I did back in my first year of Hogwarts, when I'd run into the girl's bathroom from hearing Ron say I didn't have any friends. I'm sure Snape and the other teachers were right, that if I tried I could probably open up to more people, come around, really show them that I wasn't this hero they thought I was. But it was like I'd forgotten how to talk to people. And the effort of trying to convince someone that I really am a normal person was getting too much, with all the other work I was trying to do.
I groaned, and looked at the sink. It was nice, a porcelain basin that seemed so out of place in this giant stone castle. I picked up my brush and began to run it through my hair, clearing my mind. It was only when my thoughts were like this that I really felt mopey. Most of the day I went through in a wonderful, work-filled haze; answering questions and writing marvelously long essays. I could completely Vanish anything, even myself for a little bit, create a chair from a splinter of wood, gather bowtruckles from trees without needing to identify which tree housed them and without them scratching out my eyes, and I could answer any question about Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, History of Magic, or Herbology before the teacher had even finished talking. It was when I started getting the fake smiles from people, or had to look at the shining eyes from admirers, that I felt down. Sadly, it didn't make talking to them any easier.
I walked back into the main room, still thinking. I wish more people were like Snape... He says what's on his mind, and doesn't try to over complicate things. He really is a good teacher. And... he saw me in my pajamas.
I stopped to look at the ground and blush. I can't believe I forgot to put on a robe, or something. He's the Potions Master, and he saw me in my pajamas. It bothered me, and I wasn't really sure why. But somehow, walking out and having a conversation with Snape in my sleepwear struck a chord in me that made me feel very small, and very exposed.
Suddenly feeling like being fully dressed, I pulled out my long black school robes and hat. To wear under my robes, I chose a red scoop necked shirt with half sleeves and a lion emblazoned on the front in black (a gift from my parents), and black trousers. I quickly took off my nightclothes and threw them in the laundry, then slipped into my shirt, leaving it untucked from my pants. I stood in the mirror to make sure my long robes were positioned on me, covering the color of the shirt beneath and the hem of my pants. Usually, I didn't dress to these extremes; it was frowned upon to wear Muggle clothes beneath the school robes, but today I felt odd.
I walked over to the mirror, looking again at my reflection. My hair was still frizzy, but it would probably always be. I grabbed a hairband, and pulled it back into a long wavy tail down my back. Not all of it took, but this was fine; Potions and Herbology today. We'd be finishing up the Amortentia soon to focus solely on Felix Felicis, and in Herbology there were flesh-eating tree saplings that needed re-potting. The more out of my face, the better, but perfection wasn't necessary.
I strolled out of my room to the passage that lead to the hall, checking the clock. Eight o-clock now; I'd spent half an hour mulling over everything. Still, plenty of time to get some breakfast and grab my books, especially since my room was right next to my first class. I jogged, easily reaching the Great Hall in under five minutes. I wasted no time in sliding into a place at the Gryffindor table, placing eggs and a piece of toast on my plate in record time. I took a bite and closed my eyes. Even the bread was good.
"Hiya Hermione!" I opened my eyes to see Dennis Creevey, starring at me with the most serene and brilliant face anyone had ever laid eyes on. Luckily, the toast in my mouth prevented me from sighing. I put a smile on my face and greeted.
"Good morning, Dennis."
"I had some free time this morning and I noticed you didn't have your books with you did you want me to go and get the books for you Hermione?"
"Right, sorry Hermione." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, looking so cute I almost laughed, even if he was doing the exact thing that bugged me. "Did you need me to do that for you?"
"No Dennis. Thank you."
I took another bite of my toast.
I looked up to see a 6th year boy, Mark Turner, heading toward me. I swallowed. "Hello Mark. Need anything?"
"Not really..." He stopped when he was next to me, and leaned in. "I just wanted to let you know that the rest of us don't feel the same way as those two who tried to sneak into your new rooms last night."
I honestly smiled. "Thanks Mark. That really makes me feel good to hear."
He sat down next to me. "So... You doing anything later?"
I took a bite of my eggs, giving him a searching look. "Class, then studying."
"Maybe you'd like to come hang out with me later? Spend a little time walking around the lake?"
I gave him an odd stare.
"You know... a date."
I let out a surprised laugh. "What?"
He gave me a sly smile. "A date. With me."
"Mark I hardly even know you."
"We can get to know each other better if we spend time together."
I put my hands up in front of me. "No, no... Thank you, but I'm fine."
He shrugged his shoulders, not looking the least bit put off and walked to his seat. I stared at his retreating back and managed to my food.
I finished quickly after that, making it back to my rooms with plenty of time to brush my teeth and grab my books and bags. I made it into the classroom early to see Snape waving the cauldrons over to each table. The room was colored with the various smokes that issued from the almost completed Amortentia potions and partially done Felix Felicius. My luck potion so far was an amber kind of still liquid, that while pretty and on the right track would be poison if I drank it.
Professor Snape looked up as I walked in. "Good morning, Miss Granger. In early to check on your work?"
I felt myself smile. "Good morning, Professor. No, here early because I am." I put my things gently down and bent over my cauldrons. They looked perfect. I stood straight to watch him, suddenly thinking of something.
"Professor, if everyone's making Amortentia potions, won't we have the problem of people becoming a bit... excited by the scent of what they love all around them?"
He raised his hand, which showed a vial clutched in his fingers. "One drop on the tongue will be enough to still anyone who goes overboard. It will nullify the effects temporarily, long enough for the lesson to end." I nodded as he went back to preparing the lesson and walked around the room, looking at the various brews.
"Can you tell what some people have done wrong so far on their Felix Felicis?"
I nodded. "This person added honey at the wrong time." I pointed to the cauldron that was a shade darker than mine, with small bubbles breaking the surface which should be serene. "And that one has too much diamond infusion." The potion was rippling slightly, and shimmered.
"Very good Miss Granger."
"It seems like everyone's done the Amortentia right, more or less."
"It's no real surprise; that potion is done more to the book than Felix Felicius. You need an imagination to get Liquid Luck done correctly."
"So I have an imagination, then, sir?"
"You should realize that the given directions are not always best, Granger, as you read my book."
I smiled to myself, remembering my sixth year and, "this book property of the Half-Blood Prince". It had bothered me endlessly. At least that adventure had become a good thing; I now knew when to keep and when to break the rules.
"Professor, I'm curious about something."
"I will alert the Headmistress immediately."
I rolled my eyes. Luckily, he wasn't looking at me. "It's a kind of a personal question, but also academic."
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"What does Amortentia smell like to you?"
He stopped, more because he was finished than anything to do with what I'd asked. "The truth is, Miss Granger, Amortentia doesn't smell like anything except its' ingredients to me."
I stared at him. "Why, sir?"
He walked back over to his desk and sat down. "I imagine its because the one person I loved has been gone so long I no longer remember what she smelled like."
I looked at him. He was pulling papers out of his desk, acting like he hadn't said anything deeply personal.
"Why... why did you tell me, that, Professor?"
He finally lifted his head. "Because I want you to be able to trust someone, and know that someone trusts you."
A bell rang somewhere, and students piled in. A few of the other Gryffindor girls didn't meet my eyes, but some others smiled at me warmly, and I smiled back, feeling very odd. Why had Snape told me that? He always kept things so close to the vest... And it wasn't the first time. He'd stuck up for me in Hogsmeade, and he'd stood by me to talk to McGonagall about what went on in the Common Room. I had a feeling he was supposed to keep an eye on me as a favor to someone, but he seemed to be going above what I'd expect anyone to do as a favor.
Maybe... Maybe I can depend on him.
I realized that he'd given the signal to start working again, and I was the only one sitting still at my desk. He stared at me, the warning glint in his eyes. I took notice and got to work. He responded by doing the same. I started on the Felix Felicis. The chamomile needed to be added next, along with the moonstone flakes and powdered garnet before it could brew again for the next couple of weeks.. I did so, stirring counter clockwise each time, 7 times, stopping, one turn clockwise, then 13 more counter clockwise. The book said otherwise, but slow and careful testing in my personal time had yielded the best results when I did it this way. The potion turned a bright gold, and started to bubble slightly. Now it would only need stirring every week or so.
I sighed, smiling to myself, then turned my attention to the Amortentia. It had the pink and lavender color, but was missing the pearly sheen. I slowly and carefully added the pressed mermaid tears, one at a time, with three stirs in between. I felt sweat forming on forehead as I concentrated on the timing. As the last one was added and stirred, the whole concoction took on a lovely, shiny appearance, and long curling tails of smoke wafted out. It was finished.
I smiled, very pleased, and inhaled deeply. The smell of fresh grass and new parchment filled my nose, the same scents I remembered. I had expected to smell Ron's hair, or else the Burrow, or maybe even the scent of home and dentistry. Instead, underlying the usual scents from before, there was something else... A kind of earthy smell, of lavender and herbs, an unusual smell that... Somehow familiar... What was it?
"It would seem that everyone has finished their Amortentia Potions. You are now instructed to keep an eye on your Felix Felicis; it will continue to brew and settle until the day of your N.E.W.T., when it will be graded. This will be a non-ingesting test for obvious reasons, not the least of which the number of students will go to the Infirmary if it's even slightly botched. For now, I would like everyone to pour a draught of their Amortentia into the vials I have placed on my desk for you, label them, and return them to me."
I grabbed a vial and carefully ladled a sip of my Amortentia into it. Waving my wand, my name in my handwriting appeared etched into the glass. Nodding, I joined the line of people waiting to hand Snape their completed work.
As he took mine, his eyes held my gaze for a moment longer than usual, then he looked away with a curt nod. I returned the nod, more politely, then went back to my seat. As the others continued keeping watch of their Liquid Luck, I watched as Snape discreetly opened a vial and dripped a tiny dot onto his tongue. He noticed my looking at him and gave me an annoyed look, motioning fiercely to continue my assignment.
I went back to my potion, trying to bury myself once again in the needed task of notating my progress, yet I couldn't help but play the scene over in my head. Snape had lied, he did smell something with the potion, and it affected him so much, he had to take his own antidote. While this didn't truly bug me (it's a very personal question, after all, I didn't expect him to answer so easily), I continued to wonder... What could he be smelling that had affected the stony Professor Snape so deeply as to seek an antidote for his own feelings?