LL Chapter 13

His head…Merlin, his head.

He felt like…

Oh God and Cerunnos, what did it matter what it felt like, just make it STOP! Even his moan reverberated painfully in his skull. A shoulder…no, a hand came down on his shoulder…he tried to blink. His eyes felt like they were glued shut, but he couldn’t move his hands—they weren’t answering his brain. Was he paralyzed? Fear spiked his blood pressure, sending fluid pounding through his head.

“Gnh!”

“No, no, Mister Snape, you need to hold still—”

“Nine, that’s nine. That is to say, nine but…but no, thirty-three. Yes, both divisible by threes. Good one, good one…”

“Ha! Hahaheeheehee, oh, he’s gone to panic, he has. Ho! Better get the rest of him strapped nice n tight like his hands n feet, or – whoohoo! – it’ll be a right fight you’ll have from him, I promise you! Ohohoho!”

“Oh, that’s not a proper sentence at all, no it’s not.”

Just as he was trying to make sense of what those two loonies were babbling about, a third, feminine voice piped in, nearly screeching, “Shut it, Lawrence, he’s just scared and you’re not helping!”

Severus couldn’t even open his eyes to try and understand how many people were in the room with him. There had been four voices so far… but was that all? One of them sounded like he’d been on the wrong end of a laughing draught one too many times.

“Well, that’s ten or twelve…and one, two…fifteen…thirty-two…forty-five! But then also properly forty-seven. Ah! Add two to both possibilities, nicely done, nicely done.”

And whoever that voice belonged to will be getting on his nerves. Quickly.

“Ohohoho, you think anyone of them helped us when we came in here, eh? Hahaha! Nice sentiment, that. Hehee!”

“You don’t know what he’s here for.”

Right then, three psychotics…the hand on his shoulder makes four, and–

“All right, you three, shove off back to your rooms, or it’s limited portions tonight.”

Nurse Ratchet makes five. Bloody brilliant. He was in the JT. He supposed the Longbottoms were around here, somewhere, and then Lockhart, probably? Fantastic.

“I was just trying to help!”

High-pitched brat-voice was sending knives through his brain—

“Fifteen…forty-seven…eighty-nine…Blast! You made me lose count, you ruddy conversationalists! Now start over again! Say it again!”

Did he really just stomp his foot? He sounded like a goblin, too. That might be more interesting if they’d all shut up and let him and his migraine have a bit of peace…

“Ha! Hahahah! Ya see? Wahahahah! Heeheehee!”

“Miss Jessop, help take Mister Bremer and Mister Gar back to their rooms, please, and then retire to your own for now.”

“But I—”

“Did I stutter?!”

“Fine.”

After a flutter of cloth and shoes, the noise was finally reduced to a reasonable level. Severus could feel the veins and muscles in his body relax. Unfortunately, that allowed more pain to signal. He tried to squirm. The hand on his shoulder tightened.

“Right. So, this is the new one? Lord, but he’s filthy. Couldn’t you have cleaned him up a bit?”

Severus heard a sigh that was as much of an answer as ignoring the question.

“Diagnostic scans indicate need for detox from an unknown substance, rehab from severe magic strain and/or depletion, as well as MPT for full body atrophy. Looks like this fellow has a problem with interiors, as well. We had to completely restrain him just as the gurney hit the door, so as soon as you take him, I’d shunt him to the Party Cell. Sign here, please.”

Severus listened to the scrabbling of a quill on parchment and the answering zap of a wand’s spell as he realized he was indoors and apparently his body reacted without his prompting at the threat of being taken inside. Blood started rushing to his head again, and he realized further the key statement in the healer’s diatribe: detox from unknown substance—

“Oh, that’s just lovely, now, isn’t it? How am I supposed to clear out something we don’t know what it is? You’ve not a clue?”

“Eh…well…honestly, I brought him here for more than just the Party Cell.”

Severus’ breathing sped up and he could feel the remnants of his magic pull at the back of his brain like a fat spider plucking at her web.

“Come on, then. Spit it out.”

“His toxin scan came up with something similar to what Longbottom’s been publishing for treating his parents, just…different.”

“Oh, well, then, that’s clear—”

Longbottom? As in—? No. Never—

“—I mean, Astrid. Those pills he’s been making for them, how they stay longer in a body than a potion does—react differently. But it’s still got a hold of his magic—?”

The trembling, the twisting inside felt different without magic welling up like a geyser, but it filled his body with fear and anger, roiling through his veins like molten lava.

The pills. They had been stealing his magic—Hestry had known all that time what he was—USED HIM—

“—right, all right, I’ll call Longbottom in, just float him over there—what’s he doing? Did he do this before?”

“No, no it’s worse, he didn’t spike quite this bad. Shite! You, there! Open the—”

And then he was unconscious.

/

“Hermione?”

Three more knocks. Remus was ever so polite. Of course, she knew he’d been working at her wards for a little over ten minutes, now. It wouldn’t be much longer for him.

She ran her fingers over the letter again before replacing it in the trunk at the foot of her bed. One of so many. And one of the many things she needed to rectify, today. Severus had made that clear, last night, hadn’t he? He didn’t feel he could trust her because she’d kept his trunk from him these past few days.

And she wanted to alleviate anything blocking the path between them, didn’t she? Well, today was a good start, then. She ran her hands across the latch one more time before starting to stand, and was felled backwards to the floor as Remus flung her door in.

He scanned the room for half a blink before settling his flustered and concerned gaze on her. They stared, huffing at each other, one in exertion, one in surprise. He stepped forward and gave her his hand, “Were you going to answer me at all? I’ve been at the door for quite a while, now.”

He sounded civil, but looked so…angry…

“I’m…sorry. I’ve been distracted.” She wiped her hands, rather uselessly, on the backs of her trousers.

Remus scanned the room, something he would never take the liberty to do under normal circumstances. His eyes hardened at the sight of the trunk beside her, his nostrils flaring ever so slightly.

“Care to tell me why this is still in your possession? He should have had it days ago.”

She swallowed nervously, but tilted her chin upwards. “You know I’ve been using his notes to complete potions for you and others. I couldn’t just hand it over without making notes of my own.”

Remus’ normally gentle gaze hardened uncharacteristically. “Feeble, Hermione. Rather feeble. You, of the almost eidetic memory. You, the infamous and careful notetaker. Let’s try another one.”

She snapped her brow together in further surprise and confusion, “What?”

“How quickly you forget that I was once your teacher and have lived with you for several years. I know that you can brew many of these potions without looking at his papers, I’ve seen you do it. You’ve even expressed only referring to the Wolfsbane notes to make sure you’ve got the deosil turns right. Now. Explain to me why you still have Professor Snape’s trunk in your possession.”

Her mouth floundered for an answer…“He didn’t have a place to put it.”

His jaw set in anger, which was a worrying sight, “I’m sure he’d have made a place if he’d only known you had it. And that’s the truth of it, isn’t it, Hermione? You didn’t tell him.”

“Well, neither did any of you!”

“He’s your project, your responsibility.”

How dare he lecture her

“—You’ve enforced that rule well enough that you can understand that for yourself.”

She stared at this person—this father figure—that was supposed to be supportive and encouraging but was just…“Why are you being so…so…”

“So ‘what’? What am I being?” His temper was clearly at an edge.

“Petty! Cruel! You’re not like this!”

He took one step towards her, but pulled himself back and clenched his fists at his sides. “You’re not like this. You’ve been moaning and lolling about this room all night, feeling very sorry for yourself for God only knows what reason and Professor Snape—”

Wait a minute! “You know why! You know why I’m upset! Remus! You and Tonks were questioned last night! Severus was taken away! He’s revealed as alive and yes! Yes, he’s my responsibility. I was with him when he was found alive and they’re going to blame me and you and Tonks and KINGSLEY! Oh, my GOD, they’re going to drag him through the mud for this and Teddy’ll have to go live with Andromeda and Harry’ll hate me forever and the Weasley’s’ll never speak to me again and Severus, oh God, if he’s even conscious yet, he’ll hate me the most because I was supposed to protect him from everything and I’ve protected him from NOTHING! And you probably think I’m—”

“Hermione.”

“—but I’m not—“

“Hermione!”

“—and he’s all alone—”

Petrificus Totalus!”

She froze. She’d been pacing and he’d caught her mid-turn so thankfully both her feet were on the ground, but had he actually Petrified her? She stared, unblinking, at him as he moved into her field of vision.

“I think…I think you’ve put too much stress on yourself. I’m sorry to do this to you, but I’m going to get some tea from Dora and lace it with a light calming draught. You’ll drink it as soon as I release you, and we’re going to have a chat about your little tendency to horde things and overreact, understand?”

All she could do was stare back at him, fuming inwardly. Honestly, she’d been Petrified enough last night! The nerve of him!

She watched helplessly as he left the room. She couldn’t believe him! He’d actually Petrified her and went to go get a ruddy calming draught! The arsehole!

…though…

Now that her body was frozen in place and her mind had to stop and think for a bit, perhaps she had been a bit over—

But Kingsley! And Teddy! And what about Severus! Andandand Harry! Oh, they were all going to be so disappointed in her. Not that Teddy would really know what was going on except that his mum and dad would be taken away from him for harboring a fugitive or at least someone abetting a fugitive: namely, her. Well, he wasn’t exactly a fugitive, but, regardless…

This was just one great mess she’d gotten everyone into. No one would ever speak to her again, now, surely. It would be as if that fateful day back in first year had ended with the troll killing her in the bathroom… Everyone would now be like: Hermione-who? Ron and Harry would regret ever wanting to know her, now.

She’d be kicked out of the house, and then where would she go? Her parent’s old house was just too creepy, standing sentinel all these years, waiting for its missing and obliviated denizens to return home and fill the voided rooms…

Ah, she wanted Mum! And it was damned painful to hiccup while Petrified. Her whole body jumped and fell off balance. Just as she was teetering to the floor—

“I’ve got you!”

Remus reversed the spell and grabbed her gently by the arms. Hermione’s gaze shifted from him to the precarious tea set floating diligently behind.

“Just a taste, and you’ll be set to rights, I promise.”

He led her to the edge of the bed and set her down, then levitated a partially full cup of tea in front of her.

“Go on. Just a bit to calm you, dear. Nothing more, I promise.”

She stared hard at his reassuring smile, then latched her hands onto the leaf-patterned porcelain cup she’d made yesterday afternoon, dropping her gaze to the milky brew before her. It swirled in a hypnotic pattern, pulling the cup closer to her mouth and without really realizing it, she took a hefty gulp, feeling it drift down her throat and into her stomach as all good tea should.

She handed the cup back to Remus and lifted a small smile at the corner of her mouth. “I appreciate the effort, if not the methods.”

“As long as it works, I don’t care if I have to strap you down and pour it on your head. Now tell me, clearly and slowly, why you think so many of us are in trouble.”

Hermione looked at Remus like he’d grown a second head. “You really are thick, sometimes, you know that?”

He dropped his chin and lifted a brow in a rather chiding expression, “Let’s pretend, for posterity’s sake, that this needs to be spelled out, shall we?”

She growled, closed her eyes, breathed in through her nostrils and out again, slowly, then cut her eyes at Remus as he sat beside her, “Severus is now exposed to the public as alive.”

“Yes.”

“And more directly, to the Ministry.”

“Yes.”

She rolled her eyes. “Minister Shacklebolt declared Severus dead shortly after the Battle of Hogwarts.”

“Ah. Alright, concession to Kingsley’s possible culpability. What else?”

Hermione shook her head. Did he really mean for her to ‘spell it all out’? Surely, he’d thought of this himself, they’d done paperwork on people from the Continent before, “You know all the papers we draw up and file with the Ministry whenever we retrieve someone from another country?” She waited for his nod. “That’s because there remains a law—something to do with the remaining Wizarding immigration laws from the French Revolutionary War—that states that in the event of the arrival of a person or persons of any magical background into Great Britain, that person has to declare themselves to the Ministry or they and their abetters face possible sentencing.”

“Jail.”

“Possibly.”

“Us.”

She sighed and relaxed. “Likely. Obviously, me. You, as our unofficial leader and therefore, also Tonks as your wife. Harry owns the house. Ron just kind of fills in wherever, they may not even bother with him since Arthur is so well respected—”

“Hermione, you’re forgetting something.”

“And what would that be? I’ve been thinking about this all night.”

“Kingsley. He’s not going to just roll over on this. He’s also not going to let us become buried for doing what our service warrants, either. The key to this is Hestry. Don’t forget that.”

She propped her hands back on the bed behind her. “Oh, I haven’t forgotten him. He falls under ministry law, now, too. Something covering undeclared squibs who purposefully manipulate magic to suit their needs, I think. Didn’t Tonks contact Ginny last night?”

“Yes, and she’s already interviewing people on our behalf.”

“Shouldn’t she talk to me, first?”

“We tried. You weren’t answering your door at seven this morning.”

“Ah.”

“Yes.”

To cover the awkward moment, she looked behind her to the trunk, lying conspicuously all fat and black and brass in her room of linen and blue. She looked back to Remus, still sitting beside her.

“Care to help me shrink this? That way, if anything goes wrong, I can blame you.”

“Cheeky brat.”

She grinned at his easy forgiveness. “Just wait ’til Teddy gets older. Then we’ll talk ‘cheeky’.”

Thud. Hermione leant sideways to look out the doorway for Tonks.

Remus called out to her, “Dora? Are you alright?”

“Stupid—I’m fine! Stairs jumped up and bit me again.” Her bright pink hair popped into the doorway. “Ah, you’re all settled then, Hermione?”

“I think so.”

She walked all the way into the room and waved The Daily Prophet at them both. “Good. Then I can show you the paper, now.”

Standing in curiosity, Hermione met Tonks halfway across the room and pulled the shifting printed words out of her friend’s hand. She didn’t even bother reading the article after the headline and confirming who authored it,

“Oh, just wait ’til I get my hands on that horrid woman!”

/

Severus opened his eyes.

Well, that was an improvement, there. At least he could achieve that. Problem was, what in Hades was he looking at? He blinked a few times and reached his hand up to rub his face, glad to be rid of the pounding headache that had affected him before.

Then he noticed he could move his hands. And feet. He wasn’t restrained and was laying on a small bed in a rather…strange room.

Was it a room? He couldn’t really tell, from the various colors. As he scanned the room and his focus changed, so did every flat surface of the walls, floor, and ceiling. There didn’t seem to be a window, but this didn’t really feel so bad as what had changed about the “room” was the introduction of cloudy sky above his head. It reminded him of the Great Hall at Hogwarts…?

What?

Hogwarts.

He remembered—so much more than before.

Why?

He sat up and admired the changing colors of the walls and floor, turning the cloudy sky above somewhat psychedelic as his mind filtered through myriad memories. Varying shades of blues and greens pulsated across the floor as small bursts of black and red spangled with gold popped along the wall at unexplained intervals. He watched, hypnotised, as the colors eventually calmed to mostly cerulean blue. As the pulsing colors seemed to keep time with his breathing, an idea crossed his mind that perhaps the colors were keyed to him. This idea was nearly confirmed by the arrival of a silver sparkle arcing across the wall and disappearing.

Severus peered to where his feet met the floor in curiosity and watched undulations of cerulean and ultramarine ripple outward in ever-growing bands. Where were his shoes? He looked around the room and saw nothing but the bed, a chair, a small table and himself. A swirl of darkness ate at the blue walls at the unwelcome reminder of his time at the Muggle institution.

Well. This certainly wasn’t Muggle, was it. Certainly not. He looked to the floor and his feet again.

Oddly enough, the floor felt cool, smooth…and somehow interacting with his magic. He could feel the soft tendrils of something playing through his feet, reaching upwards for his magic like tiny octopii.

He carefully lifted his foot and watched to see if something were connecting between his skin and the floor…a small static arc jumped and popped, but left after a half-inch. He winced a bit, but kept his eyes on the swirling blues. They were still in the shape of his foot, but less-so, as if he had left an impression on the floor’s energy field—or whatever this was.

A sizzle of energy broke contact behind him as the now-realized door opened from a brightening crack in the swirling wall. The unknown brought green and black smoking along the walls, eating at the shades of blue like cephalopodian ink. Severus quickly stood, backed himself into the nearest corner, behind and away from the door. He scanned the ever-darkening room for some sort of weapon—

“—he’s likely to still be aslee—ah bugger me. Hermione?—”

Hermione!? He stepped forward, reaching to the closing doorway.

No! Wait! There was a mumble of sound from the other side, so he crept closer to try and understand it. He could hear her sibilants as they ended a word, followed by the man’s speech more clearly—

“—perhaps we should come back another time.”

He pressed his ear to the crack, wanting to hear her more, “No, Neville, I want to see him, now. Why are you blocking the door?”

Severus let his head up an inch from the panel and stared at it. Someone was blocking the door? There was no handle, no seal, nothing to pry on—he ran his hands along the seams—gods, help him, he was trapped!

He could still hear them, “Let me in there, I’ll be fine.”

Why—what was the other person doing? Some kind of clicking-beeping noise rose to his ears—

“No, not right now, the room says he’s starting a panic and the last time he did that here, we had to shut down the entire wing to keep the reporters out. You know how Rita is.”

All he could do was stare at the blazing crack that had the slightest, so-slightly-widening view of his Hermione…she growled a sour face and shook a paper at the tall, black-haired man with his back to Severus. “I do, very well, thank you.”

Hermione. His anima reached out to her, blindly, aching for her. She was there for him, coming for him, surely to get him out of this place…this…gods, was this—he looked around—

“You don’t understand, I will be fine. He won’t hurt me.”

Of course not! Not her! Maybe if he hit the door, he could pound his agreement. If he could only see her fond face—he smacked the panel outlined in light with the flat of his palm. It repelled his hand and stung like fire, a bright sun dimming where his hand had been and small bullet-bird shapes darted off in every direction…

The imagery startled him enough to where he calculated a fisted hit on the surface again, regardless of the pain it would cause. He heard an answering ‘Oof!’ outside, as the man must have been leaning on the door panel, but that was beside the point.

What was brilliant, amazing, absolutely dumbfounding was the imagery produced by his action.

He held his stinging hand as little paper cut out fairies burst in a radiant, iridescent explosion from the point of impact and flew along the walls, laughing raucously.

He stared, shocked. Those were from his mind. The birds, the fairies, they lived in his mind and no where else, he knew this.

He knew this and felt fear.

Where was this place? Was he even awake? Could all this be in his mind? How far would his mind go to protect himself? Admittedly, it had been rather far in the past, but this? Would he be stuck like this…forever?

Yellow ochre slunk up in a two-dimensional fog along the floor as the fairies dissipated with a low pinging noise at the door.

It opened abruptly for—Longbottom?—and Hermione to stand in surprise at Severus Snape, standing in rigid, shuttered fear.

“Just tell me,” he swallowed, choking out the words from behind the lump in his throat to the young people before him, “Am I conscious? Are you real?”

/

Hermione took a tentative step into the room, her heart racketing in her chest nervously. Had no one talked to him? Explained to him where he was? It had been almost fourteen hours since she’d seen him last. She looked behind her to Neville for some kind of explanation or encouragement.

He must have understood her worry, for he responded to her unspoken request in a quiet tone, “He’d have been unconscious or asleep until very recently. I haven’t had a chance to go over his chart, yet, I’m just doing you a favor getting you in here. If you think you can handle him, then go on. I’ll be right here.”

She nodded very slightly as he stepped out and pulled the door to, smiled even smaller, and turned back to Severus. Proud, terrified, stoic Severus. It broke her heart to see him like this, so much so that she dropped all pretenses as soon as the door closed behind her and ran to engulf him in a sobbing embrace.

“I’m so glad to see you.”

She hoped he could make out what she said amidst her blubbering into his jacket. They still hadn’t removed his old clothes from Hestry’s—well, maybe his shoes. Was that by his choice or theirs? She paused mid-sniffle, realizing he wasn’t reacting to her—at all.

“Severus?”

He stared down at her, hardened obsidian eyes reflecting the dark gray, sickly ochre and brilliant gold swirling about them like some kind of reversed lightning. “Am I to understand that I am still among the living?”

His voice was deadened, void of emotion, but the sky above him…

Storm clouds, full and green, skidded above his head as she looked up to discern his displeasure. She looked from one eye to another in confusion, “Of course, you are. I’d never—you’re in St. Mungo’s.” She backed her head up to see him more fully, “Didn’t they admit you? Didn’t they explain anything to you?”

Despite his dour expression and despite the darkening colors around them, she stayed where she was. She tightened her finger-hold on his jacket at his back and waited for…something…Would he explode? Would he be angry? What did the ambush at Hestry’s do to him?

For that matter, what was this room doing to him? Neville called it their ‘Party Cell’, a place where they put people with uncontrollable magic that doubled as a place to learn how to control it. If Severus exploded in here, everyone would be safe except for her. Unless the room had some sort of wicking or levelling commodity to it?

Focus, Hermione. Severus was just standing there, in her arms, looking down at her as the room sank into velvety, somber darkness.

Why? What did the colors mean? Did he hate her now?

Fear jumped through her mind and her hands convulsed in their hold on his jacket. A ripple of sickly yellow blazed around the room, cutting through midnight blue as she took a shuddering breath and voiced her fear, “A-are you alright? Please. Tell me you’re not angry with me?”

Something changed as she watched him. About the time the flare of her fear’s arc died, his eyes changed from hard…to deep. His face didn’t move, he didn’t move in any way that she could tell, but his eyes became twin oubliettes instead of shards of granite and, Lord help her, it was interesting. Exciting. What did it mean? Her skin felt different, with a different awareness of holding him and she swallowed to wet her dry mouth.

His eyes moved to watch her do that and the room shifted from midnight to violet with a twilight sky.

His large nostrils flared as he inhaled, still watching her, still not touching her, “No. They have not. I…am not.”

She fought the urge to express her consternation on her face and kept her expression open, wondering what he was thinking. It grew difficult to hold her face so still, so she dropped her gaze to his throat. As soon as she did, he shifted out of her embrace and sat down rather abruptly in the only chair in the room, leaving her standing, looking after him in confusion.

“Are you alright?”

He bit his thin lips together, jutted his chin, crossed his legs loosely and replied with a non-sequitur, “You’ve brought the paper.” His eyes never left hers, as if in challenge, but she did break his gaze to look back to the floor at the entrance where the paper had landed as she’d rushed him.

Well, if he wanted to read the paper, then so be it. She smiled a little self-deprecating smile, shook her head and went to retrieve it. As she reached the door, she leaned over to pick up the folded paper, but braced her hand on the wall to hold her balance.

A warm tingle shot up her palm, catching her attention and bringing her gaze up from where she’d bent over, away from Severus, up to her hand on the wall.

Violet-rose-red bloomed like a bloodstain outwards from her hand, growing and growing…she thought vaguely how her standing like this might be a bit provocative, with her arse in the air, and bright fuschia pumped along the wall like a starburst, pushing the dark bloom before it.

The color…it was showing him she was desirous of him, wasn’t it? Her breathing caught in her chest and she felt her body tighten as she watched the colors shift in shades of arousal.

Would he—

Warmth engulfed her from behind, nearly knocking her over. His hand covered hers on the wall as his body pushed against hers, matching her shape to his, snaking his free arm around her waist and pulling her upwards.

She cried out in surprise, bracing her other hand on the wall and the colors exploded in crimson and violet. His mouth searched for her neck beneath her hair. She knew not really how, but she accomodated him and soon he had her pressed against the wall, him at her back and suckling her throat at the join to her collar.

Oh, God, his tongue

Like an animal, he ground up into her backside, sliding his hands up and down her torso until finally resting at her hips for a hard pull/push of his erection into her arse.

Her breasts rubbed against the wall as she arched back against him and they both gasped. One of her hands grabbed for his shortened hair and the other reached for his hips, wanting desperately to pull him closer. Her elbow hit the wall in a burst of orange-red.

God, what would this feel like from the front, or in bed?

She turned her head and nuzzled his face, searching for a kiss on the mouth. He obliged her greatly, with a demanding press of his open lips to hers, sucking at her mouth as he could reach it. His hands roved up from her hips to her breasts, under her jumper and catching on her vest. The feeling of his hands on her, kneading her breasts through the cloth of her brassier, vest and some of her jumper, made her itchy for more and she groaned, sliding her hands to his waistband to let her fingers get a taste of his skin.

It was deliciously warm and silken…

The door opened a crack to her left, away from her, “Hermione?” Neville almost squeaked. Right, the monitor beside the door would be listing exactly what emotions were going on in here. Severus disappeared from behind her and she pulled her jumper down over her vest, straightening things as much as she could without a mirror.

“Yes, Neville?” She turned and stepped to the opening, hearing Severus’ chair creak behind her and the paper rustle. Well, there went that.

“Right, um, just checking. I’ll…just…”

He looked almost green. If she wasn’t so flustered, herself, she’d laugh. “Got it. We’re just going over the news.”

“Um. Yeah.” After a falter where she was sure he was going to say something else, he nodded again and closed the door.

She slumped back against it with her eyes closed, willing her heart to calm.

What the hell had that been? Hadn’t he wanted to wait? She blinked and opened her eyes to a room of layer cake reds and grays.

There he was, sitting in his chair, hands perfectly still holding the pages in front of his face as if nothing had ever gone awry.

If he had that much control over his physical reaction, what did that mean? Was he getting better? Was he remembering more of himself? What did that just mean?

She inhaled a steadying breath and stalked over to the bed for a seat and waited. And Hermione had never been very good at waiting.

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