Hermione Granger was an altogether...together sort of girl, so it would come as a great surprise to know that she could fall apart. What would be an even greater surprise, was the knowledge that when Hermione Granger fell apart, it carried the completely surprising possibility of becoming utterly catastrophic in proportion.
So it was, in her last year at Hogwarts, on a Tuesday – unremarkable for any other reason – Hermione Granger fell apart catastrophically.
She'd started the day normally, with oatmeal, fruit and juice. Scanning the Great Hall, she saw the only other early risers were a fellow Gryffindor—whom she thought was possibly a third year—and Professors Snape and Hooch. After nodding to them in turn, she went back to her meal, which promptly spilled down the front of her uniform shirt. Sighing collectedly, she carefully placed her transfiguration notes back into her bag and unintentionally dog-eared and wrinkled a page.
Ah well, she thought, and made her way back up to her room to change her shirt. Unfortunately, the only shirt she had clean at the moment was one from last year, which was a conspicuous size smaller than her chest needed this year. Rolling her eyes at such a line of misfortune, she quickly zapped the shirt with a slight engorgement charm and put it on.
As she redressed and made it back down to the common room, she saw her friends sitting lazily by the fire, talking about quidditch. Smiling to herself for their predictability, she walked over and greeted them. "Good Morning, Harry, Ron...Ginny. Have you eaten breakfast already?"
Harry and Ginny smirked at her from their very cozy sofa, but Ron rolled his head back on the wingchair he was currently slouching in and grumbled, "Hermione, it's barely seven o'clock. We've only just got up."
Perturbed at his less-than-respectful tone, she glared a bit at him and responded civilly, "Well, some people like to get a head start on things. This is our last year and-"
"'We really need to make an effort.' Yeah, you told us."
Her mouth dropped open, "Well that was just rude."
Harry apparently felt the same way Ron did. "It's October, Hermione. Not even Christmas hols. We've still got the whole year ahead of us."
Still confused at this line of thought, she rejoined with, "But Harry, we're a whole year behind everyone else. We've got to set an example."
"You're Head Girl, you set an example. I don't think I need to worry about that, what with killing Voldemort, and all."
Ron and Ginny both snickered at Harry's nonchalant attitude, but Hermione just rolled her eyes and sighed. The breakfast bell rung, so she turned to head out in an attempt to not tear into them for being so irresponsible to their futures.
She turned in a flounce, waiting for whatever baiting they'd try next. Harry stepped up to her and asked quietly, "Have you heard from Rowan University, yet?"
Biting her lips together in anguish, she shook her head in the negative. Fifteen applications out to wizarding universities, fourteen returned and one—the one she really wanted to attend and the only one dependent upon Professor Snape's recommendation—had not replied to her yet, and her acceptance deadlines were quickly approaching. If only Professor Snape ever took Apprentices...
Yeah, and if wishes were horses...
At Harry's sympathetic grimace, she weakly smiled and left the common room.
Transfiguration went pretty much the same as always, with Hermione proudly performing top of the class, until the surprise pop quiz Professor McGonagall set out with fifteen minutes left in the session.
She was still agonizing over one question's correct answer when time was up and the professor Accio'd the parchments to her desk. A stern look from her favorite professor let her know that, No, she couldn't finish writing her answer.
Perhaps she'd used that request up a few times too many.
This just wasn't turning out to be her day.
Her next class was Potions. Oh, Lord, what would be in store for her there? She hurriedly made her way down, down, down the moving staircases with as much care as possible. It always took the full ten minute break between classes to get from the Transfigurations classroom to the dungeons and the Potions classroom, so she always had to hurry.
Thankfully, she had no mishap on the stairs, but just as she landed on the bottom floor of the ancient castle, a loud scuffle took place to her right. Students were fighting in the corridors!
"Stop that! No fighting in the school, you stop that right this instant! Ten points from Hufflepuff!"
They neither heard her nor apparently cared and continued their physical disagreement. She set her bag on the floor by the wall and marched up to separate the scrappy little second years with her bare hands. Magic wasn't allowed in the corridors, even for the Head Girl.
"Gerroff! It's his fault, he hit me first!"
"Shut up, I did not! And you called me a—"
She pushed them apart again and raised her voice, "I don't care what you did or what you said. You need to stop fighting in the hallway. Another ten points from Hufflepuff for disobeying authority."
Well, that got their attention. She relaxed a little and started back to pick up her bag when the telltale sound of a spell flicked into the back of her mind. Immediately, and faster than she would have expected four months after the final battle, she drew her wand and cast a directional shield over her and the remaining students in the corridor. Unfortunately for her, the apparent Finite Incantatem tossed back from behind the shield rebounded and hit her flat in the chest.
Everyone ran and she was left with the feeling of being lightly slapped in the chest. She shook her head, picked up her bag and the first thing that happened was that her strap broke and all of her study notes and books dropped heavily to the floor, scattering into a five foot radius.
This just was not her day!
Taking a moment for self pity, she distractedly raised her hand to rub at the part of her breastbone where the spell had hit her...
...and felt her skin.
"What?" Quickly looking down and bringing both hands up to her chest, she realized the Finite that hit her had canceled the engorgement spell and abruptly popped the front of her shirt open. She was late to Potions already! There was no time to run get a new shirt!
Overcome by everything that just happened wrong with this day, Hermione felt tears well up in her eyes. Dropping back against the wall, she tipped her head against it and yelled out a very loud and plaintive: "FUCK!"
Of course...her luck wasn't completely gone yet. It just wasn't the good luck she needed.
No, good luck would have had any other professor step into the hallway just then. Good luck would have had Professor Snape ignore the scuffle he'd heard and proceed with teaching his class. Unfortunately, good luck was not on her side, today. Bad luck, however, was.
"What is the meaning of this profane out...burst..."
He came out of his class, slamming the door behind him, with a look of pure, unabated fury. What expression ended up on his face was something a mortified Hermione would likely not soon forget. As soon as he looked around the hallway and found the only possible source for the expletive that had rung so strongly through the corridors, he'd been absolutely rigid with disappointment and anger. When he stopped to actually look at what he was seeing, his face blanked into shock, with his eyes riveted to Hermione's very full, very exposed bosom. She was sure he could even see the little purple bow on the centerpiece of the lavender lace brassiere as she tried in vain to pull her shirt together.
What surprised her was the immediate turn from shock to desperate concern on Professor Snape's face as he rushed towards her, conjuring a blanket and spreading it out between them to wrap around her. The concern in his voice was hypnotic, "Miss Granger, are you hurt? Were you attacked?"
She blinked up at him and could not, for the life of her, form a reply. So shocked was she at Professor Snape's rapid change in demeanor, combined with the further shock of actual, gentle concern, that she was rendered momentarily speechless. Perhaps those extra credit assignments weren't for naught, after all.
He was even gracious enough to give her a moment to formulate her response. When it didn't come, he narrowed his eyes—again in concern—and used his wand to fix her bag, then reorder her notes and books back into it.
Peering at her again, he tried a different route, "Do I need to call for Madame Pomfrey?"
Oh, God, he was totally taking this the wrong way and all she could think about was his very, very interesting concern. Was it for her, specifically, or for any female? She knew from experience that he was gallant and chivalric and all those wonderful things a gentleman should be...but she wondered if this was for her...
Unfortunately, she needed to get her head out of the clouds and respond to him before she made it worse.
Slowly, she shook her head in the negative, gulped, and admitted her little private hell of a truth, "I'm sorry, sir. I'm fine, there's been no attack." He stepped further away and drew himself up in a defensive confusion. She pushed on, "I...I've had a really, really, really bad day and when my shirt broke, that was just it."
Relief and sympathy seemed to war for a moment across his face, but he clamped down on that quickly and addressed her in a regretful tone. "Be that as it may, students are not allowed disruptive outbursts. Especially profane ones, and most especially from the Head Girl."
She nodded and waited for her punishment, drawing the conjured blanket around her shoulders with a shiver.
Their eyes met and an odd bit of magic—the muggle kind—lit between them before he continued hesitantly, "Twenty points from Gryffindor and detention with me, tonight. We shall discuss this after dinner. In the meantime," his eyes raked down her body and little bells trembled somewhere in her heart, "you are excused from this class to alleviate your wardrobe...malfunction. You'll make the class up in detention."
While she would normally balk at such a loss of points, it was not beyond her notice that he was being extremely generous. Just as he was turning away to return to class, she called out to him, "Professor?"
He stopped and turned back to her in small degrees, revealing his distinctive profile before raising an eyebrow to her in question.
Her voice was a bit shaky as she said it, but she made sure to meet his eyes and mean it, "Thank you."
Thank you for being concerned, for caring at all, for helping, for the blanket, for letting me go now and for letting me make up the class later, for being interesting...she really could go on, but all she said, again, was, "Thank you."
His eyebrow dropped slowly as he apparently registered all the possible hidden meanings in her thanks, conveyed with her eyes, her face, and her body language. He blinked and his face went blank for a short moment before nodding once, graciously, in welcome.
His robes billowed around the corner in his abrupt departure, the door slamming once again in his wake as he exited the hallway.
With a considerable amount of thinking to do, Hermione tightened her hold on the blanket and shouldered her bag. It was a long way back up to Gryffindor Tower, but she took her time, taking it to organize her thoughts about what just happened...and what she wanted to do about it. Nevermind that she tripped three times and scraped the heel of her hand on her way up.