Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Night of Fireworks!

Disclaimer: Those who have read Harry Potter and fancy the Snape-Hermione pair can appreciate (or throw stones at) this better! Others please bear with this mushy love story. :) And also, I don't own any of these characters, nor do I claim to make any money out of this writing. The characters and credits all belong to J.K. Rowling.
Snape was standing alone in the astronomy tower. It was the graduation day of class 1997 batch, or more popularly known as Harry Potter’s batch.
The celebration was running late into the night. The Hogwarts grounds were lit up with the euphoria of the young witches and wizards more than the spectacular fireworks that were currently going on.
It was actually happening three months later than usual, owing to the most significant breakthrough in the wizarding history brought about by Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Voldemort with all his horcruxes and death eaters eradicated from the universe.
Harry certainly proved his worth to Snape after all – Snape reminisced over the boy’s courage and true Gryffindor spirit, which Snape had always thought Dumbledore had overrated. He also remembered how Harry rushed to his help once it became discernible that Snape was not on Voldemort’s side but had been, just like Harry, Dumbledore’s man, through and through. Truly, it was a time of incredible changes happening all over.
“Oi Harry! watch out” – Ron’s voice was heard as his mischievous sister… whatzer name..ah Ginny had tried to tie a sparkler to Harry’s robes. Snape gave a huge sigh. He was unconsciously jealous of the strong bond of friendship between Harry and Ron, and of course Hermione. He especially admired Ron for his unflinching loyalty towards Harry, and wondered how he put up with his friend’s glory and nobly took sidelines, despite doing everything in his power for him. He wished if only he had had his taste of pure friendship, his life would have been drastically different. But he never had any real friends.
However it was not the “Conqueror” (as Harry was called these days!) or his best mate who was on the forefront of his mind, now… He was thinking about something else. Something that he greatly feared – an unwanted, despicable emotion that was surfacing in his mind. Snape suspected this was Dumbledore’s doing. He did not know how, but he felt sure that when Dumbledore died, he had transplanted that secret power in his heart – the only aspect on which Snape had always disagreed with him.
Snape had never felt more uneasy or alone in this world, not since his mother died. He had resolutely turned his back on that particular emotion, determined never to be hurt by that sentiment since his school days when he had craved it with all his heart and could find no hope of getting it. His extreme grief and bitterness towards love and life was what that drove him to the dark arts. Even after his realization that he had been very wrong and came over to Dumbledore’s side, he had never fully comprehended his mentor’s views on this particular subject.
But now, it was she – the cleverest and bravest witch in Hogwarts, younger to him by a score of years, one who had intrigued him almost as much as the dark lord, who was wringing out of him something he never would have admitted, he possessed.
They had both been there, fighting the death eaters. She led the DA members in the absence of Harry and was an indispensable part of the Order. She was the one who discovered Snape’s secret about following Dumbledore’s orders and revealed it to the public. She was the one who remained by his side in the wilderness where the bloody war was waged; she healed his wounds and took care of him until he was ready to apparate with her back to Hogwarts.
Everyday she visited him in the hospital wing and stayed quietly by his side, seeing to his needs, while he pretended to be asleep. Snape was greatly puzzled, - what was this girl, best friend of Potter and Weasley doing here with me?
When he was finally cured to health and was ready to leave the hospital wing, he briefly thanked her for her care but dared not ask her why she had apparently spent all her time nursing her old, not to mention her least favorite professor while all her friends were busy studying for their NEWTs. But nevertheless, he was touched more deeply than he wanted to acknowledge.
But what would the lack of last minute studying cost such a genius as she is? Snape thought with a smile. She had topped all subjects with more than 200 percent in each. She was a student worth having. Just a student? – No Severus! Check that emotion!
Snape remembered how he had once made her cry in class by calling her an “insufferable know-it-all”. It had irritated him that not one Slytherin student could outshine Hermione in class. She was a brilliant potion maker. Again, he was ashamed to think that he had never given her due recognition in class. But then, she was annoying – challenging his every difficult potion lesson. He used to plan lessons with her alone in mind. “Let’s see if Miss. Perfect can make it this time!”. And yet, it was his own potions book that had led to her downfall, crediting Harry last year.
And she was such a darling among all the staff members. She was always the object of praise after every test and examination. Flitwick, McGonagall, and Sprout would sing her praises – not only about her academics, but her sharp intellect, her wit, her tremendous maturity and dignity for her age, her eagerness to help others, - oh my Severus, you certainly remember a lot for someone who has pretended to turn a deaf ear to all those talks!
Yes, he would just carelessly nod his head even when they appealed to him for approval. He certainly could not explain why he had never joined them in their praises. He had always been a loner at Hogwarts. He was preoccupied with the perils which he knew he would have to face one day or the other. He had but little care for most other things. But then there is something called ‘the subconscious mind’ – that which works in the most mysterious ways – as Snape’s had been working.
“I don’t remember asking you to show off Miss. Granger” – that was all he could say to her when he caught her helping Neville. – he felt a twinge of guilt again.
She would be gone tomorrow… to her muggle world. Then probably she might return to qualify as an Auror, or Healer …she was qualified for anything. She would hang around with her friends. Probably marry one of the Weasleys, and he Snape would mean nothing to her. All her caring for him these past days were just out of her sympathy towards him.
A sharp pain cut through his heart like a knife. Dumbledore’s words rang in his ears, “You have a heart, Severus. A most noble one… and it is certainly capable of love - a most powerful love. What it needs is an equally noble and loving heart to see through the rough exterior.” “I shall never ever yield to such a fateful temptation, sir. Much as I respect your views on it, I can happily do without it, thanks”. Dumbledore just smiled and said no more.
Hermione was now dancing with Ron. Harry and Ginny pointed at them and laughed over something. Flustered, Hermione immediately stopped dancing and left the dance floor, leaving Ron to take over Luna.
Snape followed her with his eyes. What was she up to? Surely she is a mystery. Wonder who she’ll date. I doubt there is one boy in her class or above who could equal her.
He wished she was with him now… He wanted to hold her in her arms; to talk to her pleasantly (though he had no idea how to, having never praticed it!) and just - just tell her… how good a student she was; and how much he would miss her… (in class of course!).
With a sudden jolt, Snape shook his head. ‘No this will not do…’I need to be away from this place. I shall never succumb to such a great folly’. He covered his face with his hands and suppressed a mammoth sob, when he heard a soft voice behind him – “Professor…”
Snape turned around sharply and saw her. Silhouetted against the starry sky, she stood radiantly.
Miss. Granger…you…alone here” – Snape was completely startled by her sudden appearance and words failed him.
“Professor, what was this folly you were muttering about…?” - there was a mischievous glint in her eyes, that reminded him of Dumbledore.
“Nothing…” was the curt reply. “Why are you not down there – celebrating? What brings you to this old Potions Master at this odd hour”, he added. In the few moments that passed he had managed to gather himself up.
“Well, that’s what I came here for - to celebrate!” She came closer to him. He drew his breath and inhaled her sweet perfume.
“What do you mean?” – his heart missed a beat.
“Surely professor, you must know what I mean, or you would have most cruelly insulted me for all my doings these days.” She came closer and looked up at his face. Her eyes were glistening… She held out her hand and took his arm. She pushed back his sleeve attempting to see how better his wounds had healed.
The casual touch was all that took to crush Snape’s resolve. He grabbed her hand and held it halfway towards his heart. His face was in immense pain as he spoke hoarsely,
“Miss Granger, why do you torture me this way? You do not know what you are doing. Please leave.” He abruptly dropped her arm and his face turned stony again, as he turned his back to her and leaned on the parapet.
Hermione waited a few moments for him to calm down and touched him oh so gently on his shoulder. “On the other hand, I know exactly what I am doing. It’s you who do not know how much you mean to me. It’s been a long time since I have realized that you are the only man I can ever love. I could not help falling for you ever since I came to know of your true character, despite that perplexing enigma you are to the world. Oh, Severus, I love you, and you have no idea how much I want you. I crave to give you all the love you have missed. I only hope I deserve that great privilege. I ask nothing from you but a bit of your true heart. You never need to feign affection for me. You can be yourself and just let me love you all my life.”
Snape was dumbfounded… No, he must be imagining all of this; it can’t be true. His mind was in a whirl; the stony mask of his face was slowly fading out.
Hermione waited, and watched. She saw enough to assure her of her success. She just stood there looking at him.
Snape looked up and saw that she was both smiling and crying. The clever girl had certainly not required Legilimency to read his mind. She just knew!
Snape found himself clearly defeated. Here was a woman he would love to give in, to die for. She was a class of her own, not empty-headed and naïve. She promised him a whole new world of love and happiness; a delightful intellectual companionship; nothing to say about the loveliness of her womanly charm. His heart swelled with pride and emotion. She loved him! she wanted him!
He found himself wanting to have her; to love her, to adore her, to be with her the rest of his life.
He did not know for how long they were looking at each other that way... At last Severus held out his arms, not a second before she threw herself into his open arms and held up her face to him as he kissed her; first gently on her forehead, then her eyes, and as she impatiently stood on her toes, her wet lips.
Severus could not believe this happening; he could not trust his own luck! the woman of his dreams - not that he had ever dreamed of her, but she was undoubtedly the one for him, who suited him perfectly in every way he could think of, and more!
He held her closer and stroked her bushy hair; then holding her at arm’s length he said:
“My dear insufferable know-it-all – they may call Potter “the conqueror” but for me you’ll always be ‘the angel who conquered this devil’”
Hermione laughed and kissed his nose, “yes! the most handsome hook-nosed devil!”
“Handsome? Me? I know what the students call me – the greasy git – right?”
“Pardon them… they don’t have my eyes, or allow me to say - my exceptional ingenuity to see what you really are!”
“Very true my dear” – Snape charmed her with one of his most bewitching rarest smiles.
Hermione snuggled up against his chest and closed her eyes… determined to make the moment last as much as it could.
The air was once again bright with fireworks…
Snape looked above and offered a salute to Dumbledore.

Time for tea? Time for two!

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