Sielujen puutarha (out-take) – Hermionen uni

Se alkoi niistä unista. Niissä unissa kirjoitan kirjettä sinulle. Kirjeissä selitän kaiken, muistutan siitä mitä tapahtui, ettemme unohtaisi. Herään itkevänä, säälittävänä myttynä, rikki revittynä, kunnes suloinen unohdus häivyttää kaiken kuin airo veden pintaan heijastuvan kuvajaisen. Mutta sinä olit täällä, ja sinä kosketit minua. Sinä olet ollut täällä ennenkin. Monta kertaa. Itken enkä enää ymmärrä miksi. Annan kuvien hajota ja vaivun takaisin uneen kuin unohdukseen.

Unessa tulet kuin trombi, olet pitelemätön luonnonvoima. Kanssani olet enemmän minussa kuin minä itse. Paiskaudumme toisiimme ja rakastamme raivolla, jolla kaksi toiselleen kuuluvaa, toisistaan erotettua rakastaa. Niin me kohtaamme, kuin väkivalloin irrotettu jäsen liitettäisiin jälleen yhteen siihen kehoon johon se kuuluu. Kipua, verta, jälleentapaamisen riemua ja sulautuminen siksi joka me olemme.

Me hukumme rakkauteemme, ja ilman sitä olemme hengettömiä kuin se elämä, johon olin tietämättäni ajautunut. Kirjoitan tätä nyt, koska tiedän että jos unohdin kerran, unohdan myös uudelleen.

Sinä tulit luokseni niin kuin aina. Tapahtuessaan se on todellisempaa kuin mikään muu. Rakastamme, mutta silmissäsi on nurkkaan ajetun eläimen katse. Tiedän että tilanne on vaikea, epäilen että sinulla on joku toinen. Kysyn sitä sinulta. Kysyn uudelleen ja uudelleen kuullen vastauksen sinun hiljaisuudestasi. Sinun unohduksesi. Vaalea, kaunis kuin kevään henki. Minun unohdukseni – tyhjyys.

Rakastamme toisiamme kuin hukkuva viimeistä henkäystään. Painumme yhdessä pohjaan. Jälkeenpäin yritän kirjoittaa sinulle siitä. Tiedän että se on tärkeää, mutta alan unohtaa. Kun pääsen kirjeen pariin, se on loputon, kellastunut käärinliina, eivätkä sanat enää tarkoita mitään.

Hajoamme välähdyksittäin, kuva kuvalta. Pelkään että olen menettämässä järkeni. Löydän itseni tilanteista, joihin en muista joutuneeni. Muististani puuttuu paloja, seison kaupassa kädessäni kuvakortteja, enkä muista miksi, en ymmärrä miten. Päätän soittaa lääkärille, epäilen epileptisiä kohtauksia, suvussa kulkevia, alan huolestua.

Kunnes palaan taas sinuun. Tulet päälleni kuin villin eläimen varjo. Herään unessa todellisuuteen ja olen kanssasi ehjä, täysi, kokonainen. Rakastamme rajusti, ilman alkua tai loppua. Tiedän olevani sinun nyt ja aina, ehdottomasti ja ilman epäilystä sinun. Menetät tarkkaan vaalimasi kontrollin. Rakkaus nielaisee meidät etkä enää muista mitä piti. Kaikkialla on paljon verta. Säikähdät. Pitelen sinua kuin lasta. Katson silmiisi ja kutsun sinua koko nimelläsi. Pyyhin veren pois kasvoiltasi ja sanon täynnä ehdotonta hellyyttä pysyväni kanssasi aina ja ikuisesti. Lohdutan ja kerron, ettei siinä ole mitään minulle vierasta, olen kokenut sen lukemattomia kertoja, tämän ja monin verroin pahempaa.

Ne tulevat hakemaan sinua. Minun täytyy saada tämä kirje valmiiksi, mutta en enää muista sen sanoja. Olet jo lipumassa pois. Rakastan sinua vielä. Kaikkialla on paljon verta. Pysy minussa, älä mene. Muistan auton, mustalasisen synkän auton, jolla sinut haetaan pois. Se ei voi olla totta. Sano että se ei ole niin. Sinä et mene pois hienolla autolla, me vain vaihdamme tasoa. Todellisuus nielee unen varjot, kaikki katoaa. Auto on jo liikkeessä, sen avonaisesta takaluukusta putoaa tavaraa kun se kaartaa renkaat ulvoen toiseen maailmaan. Maassa lojuu postia, paketteja, kirjeitä – kaikki palautettu takaisin lähettäjälle oudoista osoitteista. Avaan yhden paketin ja tyhjennän sen sisällön maahan, kadulle, ja tiedän jo ennen avaamista mitä siellä on. Sanomalehtipaperi kuoriutuu jäykästi ja kankean tahmaisena kuin tuhat vuotta vanhat veriset kankaat ruumiin ympäriltä. Paperin sisällä sykkii sydän. Hidas, kohmeinen, värisevä sydän, mutta se sykkii silti vielä.

Rakkauden vetämänä sinä tulet. Mietin mahdatko muistaa mitään. Haluan kirjoittaa sinulle, mutta unen vimma ja tarkoituksellisuus hajoaa aamun valoon, enkä enää etsi sinua. Olen päästänyt sinut menemään niin kuin ilman, joka vapautuu keuhkoista vatsaan suunnatun iskun jälkeen.

Ajassa on joulun tuntu, ontto, raastava yksinäisyys, niin kuin sellaisen ihmisen elämässä, joka ei halua enää mitään. Tiedän että olet olemassa.Vain kuukausi syntymäpäivääsi. Olet vielä nuori. Muistan ajan jolloin minulla oli pitkät, kaoottiset hiukset ja sinä näytit jo silloin ajattomalta kuin jumala, saavuttamattomalta kuin toisesta maailmasta vierailulle tullut supersankari. Rakastuin sinuun heti, muistan miten ilma väreili välillämme ja sai kaiken tuntumaan kaltevalta ja epävarmalta. En tiedä miksi kirjoitan tätä nyt, en tiedä miksi tulet luokseni öisin äänettömänä ja painavana, miksi uppoat minuun kuin laiva vajoaa pohjaan, vääjäämättömästi ja täynnä elämää joka ei ole minun. Kaikesta on jo niin kauan, ja se oli ohi ennen kuin alkoikaan. En koskaan saanut sinua, en koskaan kokenut olevani riittävän hyvä sinulle. Ja silti olet minussa enemmän kuin minä itse olen itsessäni. Et vierelläni etkä kanssani, vaan minussa, niin kuin tämä verinen sydän. Aamu alkaa kalveta, sillä tähän aikaan vuodesta, näillä pituusasteilla se ei sarasta. Valo ei tuo lohdutusta. Aamu kalpenee ja minä olen unesta tyhjä.

A/N: Kiitos. Olen edelleen olemassa. Ficci on edelleen kesken, mutta olen edelleen kirjoittamassa sen loppuun. Ja kommenttine ja palautteenne ovat saaneet kyyneleet silmiini ja sydämen hehkumaan kiitollisuutta ja tietysti ficin loppuunsaattamisen nousemaan to-do -listallani monta pykälää ylemmäs. Kiitos siis teille kaikille ihanille ihmisille jotka jaksatte valaa uskoa siihen, että tämä tarina kannattaa kirjoittaa loppuun. Kuten sanottu, se on jo lähes valmis vihkossa, mutta sen viimeisteleminen ja hiominen ja tiettyjen päätösten tekeminen ja puhtaaksi kirjoittaminen koneella ovat vaan ottaneet oman aikansa. Inhoan lupauksia ja harvakseltaan niitä jakelen, mutta nyt lupaan että tämä on tänä vuonna valmis. Makupalaksi viimeistä lukua odottaville julkaisen tässä unen jonka näin tänä yönä ja jonka kirjoitin ylös klo 5:15. Kun aamulla luin kirjoittamani – koko unen tunnelma ja lataus – toi se minut suoraan tähän tarinaan, ja mielestäni tämä sopii erinomaisesti välipalaksi ennen viimeistä lukua.

Kyseessähän siis tosiaankin on oma uneni, jonka näin viime yönä ja jonka yönhorteisilla sormilla kirjoitin ylös. Alitajunta punoo omia juoniaan, ja siksi onkin lisättävä, että unen tunnelma on paluu lähtötilanteeseen ja Hermionen alussa kärsimään masennukseen, joka tyypillisesti depressioon kerran sairastuneilla väijyy olan takana loppuelämän. Tämä ei kuitenkaan tarkoita sitä, että tarinan loppu olisi ahdistava, onneton tai masentava. Sen sijaan tämä out-take kuvaa tunnetilaa jossa Hermione on tämän viimeksi päättyneen ja tuon kohta alkavan luvun välissä. Sweat, blood and tears.

Mainokset

Sielujen puutarhan suhteista ja yhteydestä Rowlingin sielunmaailmaan

Luin eilen Finissä uuden Sielujen puutarhaan jätetyn kommentin (kyllä, kaikkien näiden kymmenen vuoden jälkeen ficci on edelleen kesken ja saan edelleen sitä koskevia kyselyjä, pyyntöjä ja kommentteja). Vaikka olinkin jo aiemmin päättänyt, että tänä keväänä vien jutun päätökseen, tuon lukijapalautteen saaminen kosketti jotenkin tosi syvästi ja huomasin lukevani sitä kyyneleet silmissä. Se herätti paljon tunteita ja ajatuksia, minkä vuoksi päätin lukea koko Sielujen puutarhan, kaikki 27 lukua uudestaan läpi, jotta voisin palata sinne ja viedä sankariparimme kohti heidän ansaitsemaansa loppua mahdollisimman pian.

Luin joku aika sitten Joanne Harrisin novellikokoelmaa ”Jigs & Reels”, jossa oli tarina kirjailijasta, joka aika karmivalla tavalla päätyi maailmaan, jossa kaikki hänen kesken jättämiensä tarinoiden henkilöt odottivat päätöstä elämälleen. Mietin silloin sitä, miten kamalaan tilanteeseen olen jättänyt Severuksen ja Hermionen roikkumaan, ja että todellakin, 3 vuotta (viimeisin luku ilmestyi vuonna 2011) on liian pitkä aika olla kumartuneena kuoleman kielissä olevan, verisen rakastettunsa ylle.

Mutta siis eilen aloin lukea tarinaa uudestaan ja voi, miten paljon päässäni alkoikaan tapahtua. Mietin sisäänpäin hymyillen, onkohan kukaan huomannut miten tarkkaan jokainen yksityiskohta on mietitty, miten jokainen kasvi, kukka, mainittu sana tai kielikuva ovat merkityksellisiä, eikä mikään ole sattumaa. Esimerkiksi mustaluumu, josta tuli Hermionen lääkeuutteen ensimmäinen kasvi, on Dr. Bachin homeopaattisen kukkaterapian periaatteiden mukaisesti:

”Cherry Plum on ihmisille, jotka pelkäävät menettävänsä kontrollin omasta käytöksestään. He saattavat olla romahduksen partaalla, syvästi epätoivoissaan ja pelkäävät menettävänsä järkensä. Aikoina, jolloin Cherry Plum on tarpeen, he saattavat tuntea olevansa räjähtämäisillään ja pelkäävät saavansa väkivaltaisia impulsseja. He voivat todellakin kohdella ystäviään ja perhettään normaalia huonommin saaden yhtäkkisiä raivokohtauksia. Cherry Plumin positiivisena mahdollisuutena on henkilö, jolla on rauhallinen mieli ja joka pystyy ajattelemaan ja käyttäytymään järkevästi. Jos tilanne on hyvin vakava, suosittelemme hyvän terapeutin puoleen kääntymistä.” (http://bach-kukkaterapia.fi/fi/content/cherry-plum-mustaluumu-prunus-cerasifera)

Itse asiassa minun ei pitänyt lainkaan kirjoittaa tästä. Vaan piti kirjoittaa siitä, miten lukiessani Ronin ja Hermionen välille kirjoittamaani suhdetta, aloin taas ihmetellä miten nerona pitämäni Rowling on voinut laittaa heidät parisuhteeseen. Jokainen elämässään parisuhteissa kompastellut ja sitä kautta kokemusta ja näkemystä saanut tajuaa, että he ovat hyvin epäsopivat toisilleen, eivätkä tosielämässä olisi voineet tehdä toisiaan onnellisiksi, eivät ainakaan ilman suurta yrittämistä, terapiaa ja tietoista panostamista suhteeseen.

Tänään sitten törmäsin Rowlingin haastatteluun, jossa hän itse toteaa aivan saman asian. Olin hämmentynyt ja helpottunut (en siis ollut kuvitellut omiani), mutta myös kummat kylmät väreet kiipivät selkäpiissäni. Minulla on toisinaan (usein) (aina) ollut tunne, että olen jotenkin Rowlingin kanssa samoilla taajuuksilla, jossakin merkillisessä samanmielisyydessä tai sielullisessa ymmärryksessä. En tietenkään tarkoita tällä sitä että olisin itse lähimainkaan yhtä lahjakas tai muuta isopäistä, itsetuntoa valheellisesti pönkittävää kuvitelmaa, mutta jotain yhteistä meillä on. Tapa ajatella? Lukiessani Pottereita ja myöhemmin muita Rowlingin kirjoittamia kirjoja, olen kokenut pääseväni tekstin ja erityisesti hahmojen ”sisään” tavalla, jota muiden kirjailijoiden kanssa ei ole tapahtunut. Pottereiden kohdalla koin olevani taajuuksilla Rowlingin ajatusten kanssa siten, että ”näin” mikä logiikka ja idea tarinan ja erityisesti joidenkin hahmojen kohdalla oli meneillään. Tämä sai aikaan sitä, että spoilasin itseäni juonen kanssa pahanpäiväisesti, koska liian monta asiaa (en voi käyttää sanaa ”arvasin”) oli päivän selvää liian aikaisin. Tiesin (Rowlingin logiikkaa seuraten) miten useimmissa tärkeissä juonenkäänteissä tulisi tapahtumaan. Ja tämän johdattaessa meidät takaisin eiliseen ja Rowlingin Emma Watsonille antamaan haastatteluun.

http://www.hypable.com/2014/02/01/jk-rowling-ron-hermione-relationship-regret-interview/

J.K. Rowling questions Ron and Hermione’s relationship

In a new interview conducted by Emma Watson, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling drops a bombshell: She’s not so sure she should have put Ron and Hermione together. The shocking revelation came in the new issue of Wonderland, of which Watson is a guest editor this month. The comments were obtained by The Sunday Times. Rowling says that she should have put Hermione and Harry together in the Harry Potter series instead of Hermione and Ron, according to the publication’s headline, which reads, “JK admits Hermione should have wed Harry.”

“I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment,” she says. “That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” “I know, I’m sorry,” she continued, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.”

Watson didn’t seem shocked by these comments and agreed with her. “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.” Rowling also says that Ron and Hermione would have needed “relationship counseling.”

We obtained these comments via a preview The Sunday Times posted on Twitter. More may be shared in the full article. This is the first we’re hearing about Watson interviewing Rowling for Wonderland, and we’ll be sure to keep an eye out for the full interview. As fans are aware, Ron and Hermione raised two children: Rose and Hugo.

*

Lyhyesti suomennettuna Rowling kertoo haastattelussa että hän katuu sitä että laittoi Hermionen ja Ronin yhteen tarinassa, koska he ovat aivan liian erilaiset, ja hän ei usko että Ron olisi voinut tehdä Hermionea onnelliseksi. Hän kertoo että kirjoitti suhteen omista, henkilökohtaisista syistään, että se oli hänelle oman toiveen täyttyminen, ja että nyt hänellä on riittävästi objektiivisuutta nähdä, että se ei oikeasti toimi tarinassa.

Kiitos Rowling rehellisyydestä ja avoimuudesta. Kiitos siitä, että sain vahvistuksen sille, mitä aina ounastelinkin. Ja kiitos siitä, että näin ollen voin hyvällä syyllä viedä Hermionen ja Severuksen suhteesta kertovan tarinan loppuun tietäen, että Severus olisi tehnyt Hermionen onnelliseksi, koska hän on nerokas, kompleksinen, mielenkiintoinen, halutessaan hienotunteinen, sävykäs, monivivahteinen, hienovarainen, herkkä, syvästi tunteva, intohimoinen, päämäärätietoinen ja omistautuva.

Aloin kirjoittaa Severustani kun vasta Liekehtivä pikari oli ilmestynyt, ja kun liemimestarin hahmo oli vielä ohut ja pinnallinen kirjoissa. Olen sanoinkuvaamattoman onnellinen siitä, että jollain (taas kerran) sielullisella tasolla tiesin tunnistavani hänet, kuin vanhan ystävän, ja tiesin sanomattakin mikä hän on miehiään. Myöhemmät kirjat vahvistivat hämmästyttävällä tarkkuudella sen, mitä itse Severuksesta olin lukenut niiden vähien rivien ja erityisesti rivin välien perusteella, joilla Rowling oli lempihahmoni muotokuvan kirjoihin maalannut. Toivon voivani tehdä tätä liian vähälle palstatilalle jäänyttä miestä näkyvämmäksi tavalla, joka kävisi yhteen sen kanssa, jollaiseksi Rowling hänet alunperin loi. Toivon voivani valottaa sitä luonnetta ja tunnemaailmaa, jota Potter-kirjoissa ei koskaan voitu tuoda esiin. Toivon antavani tälle hiljaiselle, muiden varjoon jääneelle sankarille mahdollisuuden elämään, jonka hän olisi ansainnut. Toivon voivani tehdä Severus Kalkarokselle kunniaa.

Chapter 1 – A Shadow of a Girl

The Garden of Minds

A/N:

I’m so pleased to finally post the first chapters of my Harry Potter fanfiction story ”The Garden of Minds”. I started writing this (in Finnish) at 2004, and I’m still working on the last chapters of it. I hope you enjoy and most of all, leave comments! Don’t miss the music video made by nipa especially for this fic: Garden of Minds

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1 – A Shadow of a Girl
Chapter 2 – Behind the Wall
Chapter 3 – A Challenge
Chapter 4 – Incendio!
Chapter 5 – A New Commission
Chapter 6 – Analysis Begins
Chapter 7 – The First Step
Chapter 8 – Deatheater’s Destiny
Chapter 9 – Ron’s Obscure Future
Chapter 10 – The Forbidden Forest
Chapter 11 – Landing of the Owls
Chapter 12 – The House of Peculiar People
Chapter 13 – Dread in the Dungeons
Chapter 14 – Unfettered
Chapter 15 – Escape
Chapter 16 – Potions Business
Chapter 17 – Icy Leers
Chapter 18 – Red Thread
Chapter 19 – Black Panther
Chapter 20 – The Secret Garden
Chapter 21 – Eviction from Paradise
Chapter 22 – Girly Connection
Chapter 23 – Last Verse
Chapter 24 – Enchanted Cover
Chapter 25 – The Key

To be Continued – – –

Summary:

The top student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, eighteen-year-old Hermione Granger is dying from a mysterious illness unknown to everyone. It seems that there is only one person who understands what is going on and how to save the waning life of the young Gryffindor girl. The only problem is that he can’t stand her. The fact that the feeling is mutual does not make the situation one bit easier. Nevertheless, the rude and sarcastic Potions Master, Professor Snape, accepts his duty and becomes her therapist, but purely as a professional challenge. Collaboration between these two strong and witty personalities takes unpredictable turns as the political situation of the Wizarding world deteriorates to open war. These severe circumstances make life hard for everyone concerned.

Disclaimer: 

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

I sadly admit that characters in this story don’t belong to me. Only the plot is mine, everything else belongs to J.K. Rowling. I just play a little in that magnificent magical sandbox of hers. Wish I could live there.

Chapter 1 – A Shadow of a Girl

”She is going to lose it, believe me, she is literally going to pieces. We have to do something, we have to tell McGonagall and Dumbledore and get help!” moaned the redheaded youngster, and strode to and fro in the room, wringing his hands and contorting his face.

”Do you think she really has it that bad? Maybe we should just wait for a few more days…” said his friend with black, unruly hair and round eyeglasses. Still, he couldn’t quite hide the uncertainty in his voice, and it weakened the well-meaning effect of the words.

”Harry!” the fiery redhead yelped. ”We have no time to wait, not anymore. Didn’t you just see how she is, like a shadow? Our final exams are only a few months away, and you do know that she’ll choose death over losing her grades? I’m off now. Tell Madam Sprout that I’ll try to get to the greenhouses before the end of the lesson. Tell her I had an urgent matter of life and death to take care of.” Ron’s theatrical voice echoed in the corridor long after he had vanished running around the corner.

Harry shook his head and started stuffing his bag with all the equipment needed in Herbology class at the greenhouses. He was not blind. Of course he was aware of the change in Hermione, and it worried him as much as it worried his impulsive and hot-tempered friend. After knowing Ron for so many years he had learned not to show certain emotions openly. As good and loyal a friend as Ron was, he was much too prone to provoking panic in himself and becoming distressed without any need for outward incentives.

*

Three hours later Hermione Granger was lying on the narrow bed at Hogwarts hospital wing. She stared at the crisscrossing cracks in the high ceiling, but saw nothing with her glassy eyes. She heard muffled voices talking behind the partition, but did not understand a word. Every sound seemed meaningless to her; distant squeals from the Quidditch field, springy warble from the eaves, occasional thumps and clatters, the castle full of life echoed from dawn to dusk. Once she tried to turn her head slowly towards the discussion next to her, but it was too difficult to understand what the words meant.

”…it has been going on for weeks now. I managed to get her to swallow the whole measure, but thus far it has had no impact at all,” whispered the voice of the matron nurse, Poppy Pomfrey. Hermione recognised the other voice too. It belonged to her Head of the House, Professor McGonagall, but the words got thick in her mind and that sonic porridge swelled inside her head like an incomprehensible mumble. She closed her eyes and tried to think something, but it only made her head ache.

The next time Hermione opened her eyes, the room was empty, and the light filtering through an old window seemed to be fragile and bland. She lifted herself cautiously to a sitting position and reached for a large cup of soup that had appeared on the bedside table. She pressed her fingers against the cup to feel its temperature. It was still slightly warm, so with hesitating hands, she lifted it to her lips . The thin soup was delicious, like all food at Hogwarts. She took a few sips of the soup and then put it abruptly back onto the table. The weight of the cup seemed to be too much for her hands to hold up. As if pulled by some invisible hooks, she sunk back under the blankets and fell deep inside that lethargic, sleepless state in which she had unwittingly lost herself.

*

”Thank you for participating in this faculty meeting. I called up this gathering because of the common concern for Gryffindor Head Girl, Miss Granger’s condition,” said the Headmaster of Hogwarts, nodding his head to greet everyone seated around the large, oval shaped, mahogany table. ”As we all know, Miss Granger is one of the most talented students in the entire history of Hogwarts. Her outstanding commitment and dedication to studying is undoubtedly familiar to us all. About a week ago she was taken in to our infirmary because of long-term insomnia and neural disorders. Poppy has taken care of her day and night and treated her with the Draught of Living Death and the Sleeping Potion. However, the results have not been what we have wished for.” Professor Dumbledore rested his forehead on his fingertips and continued with an audible hint of distress and anxiety in his voice. ”All we can say is that Miss Granger is very ill. And because we have been unable to diagnose the reason for her condition, we are unable to heal her.”

”Oh, so this was it, this was the horrible future that I had foreseen…” Sibyll Trelawney moaned and managed to be both extremely melodramatic and ethereal at the same time. ”She’ll die. There’s no question about it, her material life will meet an inevitable end, a terrifying end. Oh dear, as mundane as her little soul is, she has not deserved this dreadful, abysmal destiny…”

McGonagall hawked loudly and glared at Professor Trelawney with so much resentment that the widened and uncontrollably quivering eyes of that tragedienne glazed angrily for a second before she hid them behind her fingers that were decorated with vast numbers of false jewellery rings. Professor Snape seemed to have difficulties in keeping the twitching corners of his mouth steady.

”What are the symptoms of her condition?” asked the genuinely upset Madame Sprout interrupting Trelawney’s show. She was wearing a hat decorated with stalks of hay and blades of grass and she was nervously fingering the numerous locks of hair that refused to stay neatly under it. Professor Dumbledore leaned slightly ahead and spoke after having waited for everyone to concentrate fully on what he was about to say.

”According to her friends, everything started a few weeks after the beginning of the spring term with occasional sleeping disorders, tension and absentmindedness. Then her state suddenly got worse and she sank in some sort of an apathy or lethargy, and it has been almost impossible to get her out of that state excluding some brief moments, because it seems that she is totally out of reach. She hasn’t even been able to talk, except for some random and very short sentences every now and then.”

”Sounds good,” coughed Professor Snape sardonically, and immediately drew everyone’s disapproving scowl towards himself. Professor Dumbledore frowned and continued like he had never heard the rude comment. ”I have been considering all the possible curses that could cause symptoms like this, but have not reached any conclusions. We cannot overlook the incident in early December, when Miss Granger and her friends had the unfortunate displeasure of meeting Voldemort. It may have had unpredictable consequences.” Dumbledore seemed to be completely unaware of the reaction his casual mentioning of that name evoked in most of the participants.

”And we must not forget the fact that Miss Granger is an exceptionally devoted and scrupulous student and her Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests (N.E.W.T.s) are near. It could be that her perfectionism and standards are just wearing her out.” Everybody turned to face Professor McGonagall and most of the party muttered their approval. ”It is possible that she is just overly exhausted and paralysed before the heavy challenges and the demanding situation.”

”Rubbish!” hissed Professor Snape. ”That girl has never been exhausted nor paralysed when it comes to studying. Her capacity for mental work is totally in a class by itself.”

”Well then, Severus, as you seem to be such a skilled analytic and so well aware of Miss Granger’s psyche, perhaps you could enlighten us all what is going on here?” Minerva McGonagall said with a high pitched voice, little offended by the fact that the Head of Slytherin had just intercepted her own interpretation about her favourite pupil’s and protégé’s situation.

Severus Snape twisted his pale and slender fingers amongst each other and leaned backwards in his chair, snorting in an equivocal way. After a long pause he finally opened his mouth and said as a matter of factly as he could have made a statement about the weather: ”Miss Granger is seriously depressed.”

Chapter 2 – Behind the Wall

Chapter 2 – Behind the Wall 

Hermione was lying on her simple bed at the infirmary. Her skin was pale and her eyes were surrounded by dark rings, like coffee mug splotches on a white tablecloth. If her covers hadn’t been rising slightly and regularly on her chest as she breathed, one would have easily mistaken her to be dead. Dumbledore gently took her fragile hand that was resting on the blanket and stroked her cold fingers tenderly with his thumb.

“Anything new, Poppy?” he quietly asked the nurse, who was very focused on measuring potions in different vials and pouring exact amounts of them into small dosage cups on Hermione’s bedside table.

“She has not yet slept one moment of natural sleep. I have tried every possible combination of valerian, hop, lavender, camomile, and even passion flower and lemon balm.” Pomona didn’t have any other suggestions except for verbena.

”With Filius’s assistance we even tried some sleeping charms, but her body seemed to resist them so vigorously that it only made the tension worse in her muscles. The only thing that’s helped her reach an unconscious state has been a very potent mixture of Draught of Living Death. But because it only affects her physical body and does not create the natural relaxation that comes with good sleep, we can’t use it much longer. In a couple of weeks it would make her…well, a living dead.”

As Madam Pomfrey was mapping Hermione’s state to Dumbledore, a tall and dark figure, standing at the back of the room, stepped closer to her bed and said with great authority:

“It would be irresponsible and purely stupid to continue her treatment with that draught. I left a vial on your desk. The potion in it will help her nervous system to be undamaged in spite of her lack of sleep. Six drops every seventh hour should be enough.”

Professor Snape measured Hermione’s brittle being with his gaze, but his facial expressions left it impossible to decipher what was going on in his mind. Professor Dumbledore bent closer to the girl’s face and shook her hand, which he was still holding in his warm grip, gently.

“Miss Granger, Hermione, I know you are awake,” he said, trying to penetrate the invisible wall around her with his voice. “Squeeze my hand if you hear what I’m saying, please.” Silence, heavy with expectation, filled the room. Professor Snape threw a questioning glance towards the old Headmaster.

“No reaction, nothing. I’m not sure if she doesn’t hear or doesn’t understand. Or maybe she is just too weak to move her fingers.”

*

Though Severus Snape was a tough man, boiled hard with all the adversities of the wretched world, and by no means could he have been described as benevolent or caring, he couldn’t help himself for becoming distraught by seeing that young woman, once so hearty and persistent, become so fragile and withered. At first, when Dumbledore had asked for his help, he had furiously refused. He was certain that any other person would be better, more suitable, and above all, more eager to take part in that Gryffindor girl’s treatments than himself, but when he had seen with his own eyes how close she was to her final breakdown, he promised to think of ways to get her better and back to her N.E.W.T.s as soon as possible.

If anyone, it was Severus who knew that depression was a grave disease, and without proper care, it often led to premature death. However, in the wizarding society it was very uncommon and, to most, an unknown concept. During that hour he had spent with Dumbledore by her bedside, she had once opened her eyes. And for a second, in their bottomless murkiness, he had recognised himself. For an overflying moment he had seen a familiar glimpse of his own eyes, which had stared back at him from a mirror years ago. And there was no one to help him back then…

Severus tore himself away from those memories and headed determinedly towards the staircase. He spent the whole night wandering along the lengthy and dusty aisles of the library, dangling his dim lantern in his hand and swiping Mr Filch’s beloved, grey striped cat with a hem of his robe as it dared to come too close to him.

*

In the morning Severus woke up at his desk with a start. The large, dark, oak table exuding masculine authority was all covered with numerous of books and disordered pieces of parchment. He had fallen asleep in a half-lying position on an open book that was all about powered liquids and potions. His neck gave a wicked twinge when he tried to straighten himself. Regardless of the pain caused by sleeping in a draughty room, in a lousy position, he stood up promptly and strode straight to his own personal chambers. There he quickly set the fire in his massive fireplace and, in no time, stepped out of the hearth into Dumbledore’s office. He shook the soot off his clothes, and, without any proper good morning greetings, cut straight to the chase.

 

A/N:

Huge thanks to my Beta mystical spirits! She did a wonderful job. If you find any mistakes, they’re all mine and mine alone. This chapter was very short and so is the next one, because at first they were one chapter. There were certain reasons to cut it in half. They’ll get longer, I promise!

Please, comment!

Chapter 3 – Challenge

Chapter 3 – Challenge

“Powered herbal infusions,” Professor Snape said against the sleepy face of an older wizard. And in spite of his calm and composed appearance, Dumbledore could tell the man was excited.

“If you’ll manage to specify the most essential reasons behind Miss Granger’s condition, it is possible to prepare a personal mixture of powered herbal remedy to her,” Snape blurted out and caused sleepiness to fall off from Dumbledore’s eyes as if by magic. The Headmaster took off his light blue, star-decorated sleeping cap and put his half-moon shaped glasses on his nose. For the first time since he had seen Hermione’s dreadful state, there revived a glimpse of hope inside his heart.

“And this powered potion would work like no other potion or herbal mixture has been able to?” he asked, not yet daring to rejoice for Snape’s idea.

“They are much more delicate and fine-grained than those traditional remedies or potions. They are able to affect the finest mechanisms of human beings. Powering gets the qualities of herbs to sift to the base liquid. Powering is a form of diluting the potion several times, and as the amount of the chemical matter decreases, its healing abilities increase. And because of powering, they are able to heal the injuries deep in the soul level and not only enhance the symptoms. So yes, they are very effective.” Snape stood silent for a while to give Professor Dumbledore some time to digest the new issue. It was all simple and easy for him, quick-witted wizard who spent all his days with potions as he was, but for Dumbledore, though extremely powerful and intelligent, it was totally a new piece of information.

Professor Snape took a few steps onto the deep burgundy carpet, decorated with oriental, golden patterns, and called a house-elf with a snap of his fingers. Some minutes later, he was holding a steaming hot cup of black, bergamot spiced tea, and he shred his croissant on his plate to small pieces before he delicately put them into his mouth one by one.

“When you have deciphered the reason, I can immediately start infusing and powering the herbs needed,” he said and licked the last crumbs of croissant from his fingertips. Then he poured some more tea into his cup and continued, “As a matter of fact, I have already mapped the most probable alternatives, and they are not to be found at greenhouses of Hogwarts.”

“Just name them and Pomona will order the seeds via Floo Network first thing today. She will plant them in the greenhouses as soon as possible,” Dumbledore said and tightened the rope of his dark blue velvet gown. “She will be happy to help. Feeling herself needed will do much good to her nerves. It’s just what she needs. Poor Pomona, you did see how terribly upset she was when she heard about Hermione. After the faculty meeting, she took the rest of the day off, and I think she…” Snape was listening Dumbledore’s babbling about Madam Sprout, his lips pressed into a tight, straight line, and waited impatiently for the subject to turn to more essential matters.

”As a matter of fact,” he interrupted the Headmaster’s sentence, not willing to sacrifice his time to nonsense a second more than absolutely necessary. “The ingredients used for powering must be completely pure, not only in their chemical consistency, but also their energy field, so it is important that as few people as possible will touch them. I assume the old roof garden at the southeast wing is still unused?” Severus asked abruptly, meaning the ancient, small conservatory at the high terrace of the castle. It had been used a long time ago as a secret garden for growing the most dangerous and top secret magical plants. There was always a very potent set of invisibility, impact, and diversion charms over it. Even the Weasley twins with their Marauder’s Map had not been able to solve its existence. Besides Dumbledore and Snape, only Madam Sprout and Professor McGonagall were aware of this strictly guarded secret.

“Oh my, I had completely forgotten about that place. The garden has been empty since that unfortunate incident when those experiments with schisandra and kava kava crossbreeding took a very capricious turn. I could always ask Pomona to do some magic to renovate that place. One should think that the smell of asafoetida would have faded over these years…”

“No!” Snape cried out as his infamous impatience lifted its head. “No, I don’t want anyone to meddle with this matter. I want to be sure that every phase will be taken care with an absolute appropriate and pedantic way from the beginning. I will purchase and handle the seeds, as will I take care of the planting and cropping. This way I can be sure that the quality will be my standard.” Said by anyone else, it would have sounded dismissive and conceited, but said by Severus Snape, it just sounded as a simple piece of truth.

”As you wish, Severus, as you wish,” Dumbledore said, amused of that overwhelming determination of a younger wizard. But because he had known Severus so long, he wasn’t mistaken to think it was caused by unselfish caring or a will to help. No, it was a new challenge that had ignited him, because after all, his interest and passion was only and always directed to new challenging opportunities that his career so rarely provided.

A/N:
First of all, I’d like to thank my lovely Beta mystical spirits! Secondly I’d like you to know that ”powering” is a strong magical way to increase the healing properties of herbs. And thirdly… comments are highly appreciated!

Chapter 4 – Incendio!

Chapter 4 – Incendio! 

It was already the fifth time in one week that Ron was writhing in front of Madam Pomfrey, trying to invent reasons convincing enough to make the strict nurse let him slip through that narrow doorway to see Hermione.

“Mr Weasley, I’ll only say this once more, although I’m sure it will not reach your understanding any better than the previous times I have said it.” Madam Pomfrey seemed rigorous and uncompromising, but her tone of voice showed her to be sincerely concerned that Hermione was not strong enough to meet her worrying friends. “Miss Granger is in no condition to withstand any burden.”

“Burden!” Ron cried. “We’re friends, not a burden. It hardly helps her recovery if she thinks we’ve forgotten all about her! Besides, we can behave the way the situation requires for. We are not any bloody Third Years anymore.” He straightened himself to the full length of nearly six feet and gazed steadily at the now softening nurse. “Ten minutes would be enough. I just want to see her, to hold her hand and tell how much I…eh, we love her,” said Ron and got a fiery red shade to his cheeks and ears.

“Well then, five minutes, but only you two. And I really do hope I don’t have to regret my soft-heartedness,” Madam Pomfrey said, and let Harry and Ron walk through the door, better guarded than Gringott’s safety vaults. She slammed the door shut so quickly that Neville, Luna, Ginny and Dean just stayed stunned behind it.

Harry instinctively tiptoed to Hermione’s bed, bent down to place a small kiss to her forehead, and whispered something in her ear. Meanwhile, Ron had swiftly turned over the moment he had seen Hermione’s pale face and was standing over the window, leaning with both hands to the apron for support. Emotions were storming in his chest, and he tried to obtain control over them with all his might. It was as if there had been a strange, stinging glassy membrane in his eyes, and he had to blink and bite the inner side of his lower lip not to wail aloud.

Harry put a pile of get well cards next to her pillow and straightened the blanket where his knee had rested. “We miss you, Shaggy Head. If you don’t get well soon and come to put us in order, at least three Gryffindors will not graduate this year. We need your schedules, your explicit notes and your ruthless whipper attitude…” Harry had to swallow to continue, because something weird and big seemed to be stuck in his throat. “But most of all, we need you for your own sake. Life is much too dull without you.” The last words of Harry’s speech were thin and broken like the voice of a mutation, though Harry had passed that phase in his puberty many years ago.

Ron took a few timid steps toward his friend and put his hand on the randomly jerking shoulders of Harry. He was most certain that he would never get over it if something happened to Hermione, but more than that, he was concerned what it would do to Harry. Harry had already lost too many people close to him for one lifetime.

Ron shook his head to get rid of this train of thought. He inhaled deeply, sat on Hermione’s bed, and took her cold hand into his own. “Hello, princess…” he whispered and grazed her fingers with his lips. “How are you? I’m sorry I can’t say anything more intelligent. I promise that when you get well you may freely talk as much as you want, as long as you want, and I will never, ever interrupt, argue, or make faces behind your back. Not even when you lecture about the rights of the house-elves. I’ll even let you beat me in chess…once at least. I’m so sorry, Hermione, you have no idea how sorry I am.” He covered his face with his large hands, which had grown to be quite masculine, and made a desperate, repressed cry that sounded just like the Kneazl that was captured in the sack.

“I’d like to have that officially on paper, please,” said the girl’s voice, which was raspy with little use.

Ron almost bounced up, half scared and half ecstatic for hearing his beloved friend’s voice after so many weeks.

“Hermione! Dear, precious, honey, love, amazing!” squealed Ron before he thought the meaning of those words that echoed endlessly in the stone walls. Hermione looked at him, smiling at the fact that their Gryffindor house colour was creeping up onto his face once again.

“It’s so nice to have you here. Too bad I didn’t hear your pleas or how you softened Madam Pomfrey’s heart to let you in here, but I’m so glad you’re here.” Hermione’s eyes moved languidly from Harry’s face back to Ron. “I’m feeling so much better already. They might let me move back to my own room next week,” she said and tried to smile encouragingly, but frailty and weariness in her appearance told another story.

“Ginny, Luna, Neville, and Dean sent their regards to you. They wanted so much to come here too, but Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t let them in. Ginny is taking good care of Crookshanks, but he seems to be missing you terribly.” As am I, Ron added so quietly that it was impossible for human ears to hear.

*

The thin light of the early spring was not enough to illuminate the dusky conservatory on the roof. All the black trunks of the trees, deserted long ago, and the leafless shrubs with their crook-fingered branches among the black stalks sticking out of the hard soil made the place seem dead and eerie. To an outsider’s eyes, it might have appeared just like a scene from some old-fashioned vampire movie: a pale, slender figure in his long, black robe, wandering here and there in this graveyard of plants, like he had just climbed out of his coffin. Luckily there was no one to witness his affairs. Only some weary spiders, who were more occupied to keep their eyes on their cobwebs, heavy with dust rather than juicy flies. Little did they know that soon they would face their inescapable doom. Severus Snape bent down and grabbed a handful of dirt. It was dry and indubitably poor, but he knew exactly what to do.

“Incendio! Incendio! Incendio!” roared the wizard in black, pointing his wand at everything that had once been so full of life. Immediately fire burst into flames and greedily swallowed everything it could reach. Snape, his head covered with a hood, took a few steps backward and protected his face with his hands. Nothing else was needed, since he had put the Fireshield Charm into his clothes. In one fleeting moment, the gigantic flare had eaten everything: spiders and their webs, trees, and creepers. And as an imposing end, the fire, like a huge salamander with a hundred heads, licked thick dust sheets from the window screens as if it had been a dressing on a plate.

Severus watched his doings smugly. He shook the soot from his hands and smiled. I have to keep in mind to do the same thing to my infuriating pupils when they next displease me. Maybe I could take some of those dunderheads with me to some forlorn place, and tell them to just sit there waiting. And then… Boom! He couldn’t help an amused chuckle from escaping from the corner of his mouth.

After his therapeutical, though appropriate, matchstick play, Severus simmered into his Potions laboratory next to his office. Not until countless hours had passed and his desk was occupied with an array of dark green and black liquids bottled in delicate glass vials, did he allow himself to withdraw to his chambers and crawl under the covers of his beautiful four-poster bed and fall asleep.

A/N:
Huge thanks to my magnificent beta mystical spirits! Comments are more satisfying than Snape’s matchstick plays…

Chapter 5 – A New Commission

Chapter 5 – A New Commission 

Ten days had passed since Hermione had been forced to realise that her weakened condition required her to stay at the hospital wing, as were Madam Pomfrey’s orders. Though there were only three patients at the infirmary – a couple of little Hufflepuffs who had dashed against each other during Quidditch practise, and a feverish Colin Creeves – Hermione was located in one of the private rooms.

It was a small, yellowish chamber, with only the most necessary furnishing: a narrow bed against the wall, a nightstand covered with flowers and cards, a few chairs, and a window. Hermione believed it to be enchanted, because the weather seemed to be sunny and warm for the fifth day in a row, and it really was not possible in Scotland at that time of year. To tell the truth, it was not possible at any time of the year at all.

Ginny, Ron, and Luna had visited her the previous evening and brought her a box of chocolate frogs and a few books they had found in her room while getting some socks and underclothes she had asked them to bring for her.

Regular, though artificial, sleep had made her feel a little better, so she was now able to sit on her bed and lean against the grand cushion she had put between the wall and herself. She riffled sluggishly through a book called ’Lunar Phases and Their Influence in Transfiguration’:

“When the moon is in its last quarter, in the sign of Pisces, it is a very favourable time to change water containing objects into creatures with legs, and vice versa. Although, it should be considered that…” 

Hermione noticed it was very difficult to concentrate, and her thoughts fled frequently to the sparse incidents she had faced during her illness.

Professor McGonagall had paid a visit to her every day, with an apprehensive look on her pale and furrowed face. She had tried to ascertain the reasons that had led Hermione to this state, but her questions had only frustrated and frazzled the patient.

If I knew what caused all this, I most certainly would have done everything I could in order to fix it, Hermione thought in a dispirited manner.

Perceiving discontent in McGonagall’s eyes made Hermione even more miserable. She really couldn’t bear to cause disappointment to her teachers in any situation.

Wasn’t it the irony of fate that in these seven years at Hogwarts, she had never given an incorrect answer to any questions asked, but was now totally incapable of giving an answer of any kind to the questions concerning her own condition?

*

Severus Snape frowned and weighed with a critical eye the light green and brave little sprouts that had dared to pierce the ceiling of their comfortable and moist, but ever-so-dark home. Full of foolish trust, they were reaching out their fragile heads towards the unknown and immensely vast new realm.

Although, they really did not have another choice, because the Potions Master had sprinkled a magical fertiliser to the soil, already enriched by the slashing and burning. Burgeoning was fast and the small shoots were exuded with bold eagerness and zeal, like the illegal and overloaded Weasleys’ Crook Cannon. (Professor Snape had been very unlucky to get acquainted with one, when he had confiscated a school bag of one of his pupils some time ago.)

The garden had undergone a great transformation, and without any “foolish wand-waving”, as Snape would have put it. He had made a great deal of progress with only some carefully designed physical efforts. And he had enjoyed it, surprisingly. After he had spread layers of earth, clay, and gravel to the right places with his bare hands, he had set some decorative flagstones to form paths around the garden. When he had put all seeds and plants in their right places, he felt a new kind of warmth flowing through his veins, and what delighted him the most was that he had slept better than he ever had in the last twenty years.

Severus looked around and felt like the old and bitter soul of the garden had vanished and been replaced by a fresh and springy atmosphere, full of new promises.

*

Recreating the garden had invigorated him. Physical exercise and a silent, tranquil ambience, where no one could come to disturb him, had been exactly what he needed but was unable to consciously pursue.

Snape had never been an athletic man. Sports in all its unpleasant forms had always been repulsive to him. Working alone in a private place, invisible to everyone else, fitted him perfectly. Large windowpanes in the ceiling brought plenty of fresh air to the conservatory, so it was as good as being outside exercising. For the very first time in his life, Snape felt there was something else in his life than his work. Well, actually, this was work too, but it did not feel like it. It was more like a rewarding hobby.

Severus was almost embarrassed to even think about that word. It reminded him of the handcrafts of witches, Quidditch, or playing the violin.

I have a right to do pleasant things as well, don’t I? he argued with himself. Or would it be better to bore myself to death in a bitter, empty life full of involuntary obligations? 

Images of horrible incidents with Death Eaters, crawling in front of the Dark Lord to postpone the inevitable disclosure, arguing in the secret meetings of the Order of the Phoenix, and going through never-ending piles of lousy scribbles by his students surged into his mind uninvited.

Therefore, although he was not happy for getting an important assignment, where his mission was to return that insufferable Granger from the infirmary to the library, where she undoubtedly belonged, he was remotely grateful for getting this great place of many opportunities for his own, personal use.

It didn’t take long that night. Everything that needed to be done was finished, and from now on the garden would mostly take care of itself. To recover from the nightly labour and the sleep deprivation it had caused, he decided to retire to his bedroom earlier than usual.

After he had spent over half an hour in a bath somewhere in between sleep and consciousness, he finally fell to his bed and would have fallen sound asleep in seconds if it had not been for Headmaster Dumbledore to unexpectedly pop into his chamber and scare him half to death.

It was so uncommon that anyone ever visited him, he had almost forgotten the fact that his fireplace was also an entry to his dwelling and not just an exit.

“Dear Merlin, I didn’t expect you to already be sleeping,” said Dumbledore in an apologetic tone. “I’ll be brief, so you may get back to your dreams in no time. And don’t bother to rise for me.” He tried to deter Snape, who was already standing, wearing nothing but his black, silky dressing gown that he had Summoned as quick as lightning.

“What is it?” asked Snape with a hint of impatience in his voice. He really wished that for once the old wizard would be frank and use only short sentences to get to the point.

“First, I’m highly interested to know how have you progressed with that powered potions project. Has the conservatory on the roof been suitable enough for your work?” Dumbledore started, getting nearer to the thing he really wanted to discuss.

“The garden is proper. The plants should be full grown in a few weeks. What else?” Snape sat in the armchair next to him and waved the headmaster to do the same. Either Dumbledore did not notice the polite gesture, or he preferred to pace on the stone floor, between the heavy woollen carpets.

“The process of investigating Miss Granger’s situation has not gained ground, as we had hoped for. As a matter of fact, I just came from the infirmary now. Poppy and Minerva have talked to her many times, but without any success. So, with Filius’s help, I tried to increase my comprehension in this matter by using some Radarous Charms, but they told us only the things we already knew, that she suffers from serious insomnia and nervous disorders.”

Those dunderheads couldn’t fish the information even if it was written on a big hunk of cardboard floating in the rushes, Severus thought with great irritation. If the reason for her state is not clarified soon, I cannot dilute the right potion for her. Then I can’t test the effectiveness of my powered potions with her. And then I’d have to kiss my Order of Merlin, First Class and acknowledgement in the Potion Masters’ International Magazine goodbye. Besides, if the treatment of Miss Granger is not soon started, she will die from excessive usage of Sleeping Potions. 

“Perhaps you have not approached her in the right way,” Severus said and straightened his long legs towards the newly-lit fire. “It is hard to imagine Professor McGonagall moving ahead tactfully and cautiously in her pursuit of knowledge. It would be much more effective to do the investigating in a more sly and slithering way…” Snape continued, realising far too late what kind of impression his words might give.

Dumbledore’s face lit up and he leapt at Snape, taking his hand in an enthusiastic shake.

“Brilliant, Severus, brilliant! I was secretly hoping you would suggest that. Naturally you are right for the job, as the spy and a Slytherin. You are the perfect one to succeed in this difficult task where every other has failed!”

Brilliant, Severus, indeed, Severus mocked himself, grinding his teeth and feeling like he was a wolf that had been trapped by a bunny. You are stupider than I ever gave you credit for. I’m surprised you didn’t offer to stay awake and watch Miss Granger’s bedside too. Why not offer to scrub her teeth and empty her chamber pot while you’re at it? You should have been thinking before blurting out whatever came to your mind. And no, sleepiness will not do for an excuse. The camouflage of an absent-minded and goofy wizard had once again fooled him, and got Severus to underestimate Dumbledore’s sharp intelligence.

Damn you, Albus, you cunning old closet-Slytherin, I couldn’t have been craftier myself, Severus cursed in his mind, when the hem of the headmaster’s robe flashed into the now cold fireplace, but he could still hear his voice echoing in his ears: “See you in the morning at the infirmary, eight o’clock sharp. Sweet dreams!”

A/N:
Thank you for my lovely beta mystical spirits! And thank you all brilliant readers who were kind enough to comment. You know, commets are better than the Potions Master’s sweet dreams!

Chapter 6 – Analysis Begins

Chapter 6 – Analysis Begins 

The next morning at 7:58 exactly, Severus Snape stepped into the infirmary, nodded curtly, and grunted his good morning greetings towards Professor Dumbledore. He was not comfortable in that lavender and camphor-smelling domain of Madam Pomfrey’s, and would not be there now if not for Headmaster Dumbledore’s cunning way of talking him into it. And, frankly to say, it did appeal to him a little, to be granted a privilege to try something that no one else had succeeded in.

Perhaps Snape could have been described as a man who would not take no for an answer, but Dumbledore was a wizard, whose smilingly-said wishes were implicit, and whose unconditional orders were coated in sugar icing.

Certainly Snape knew he was competent to the task, but it didn’t mean he had the slightest desire to fulfil it.

The air at the sanatorium was heavy. Hermione was lying in her bed, fast asleep. It seemed as if she had been enfolded inside a dense, sheer haze. And at some point, that was exactly the case.

Dumbledore raised his hand to wake her up, but Professor Snape prevented it by hissing in caution and waving his hand as a sign of objection.

”Shh, since I am obliged to meddle in this occurrence, I’d like to start immediately,” he whispered, reasoning that the faster of a head start he got, the sooner he’d be rid of this involuntary affair. “I’ll observe her for awhile, if I may, and after she wakes, I’ll ask her some questions.”

Dumbledore left the bedside. He knew Severus was right. Between the sleep and awake there was a special place, where everyone was more profoundly contacted to their inner world. It was the place where all the answers, and also the reasons behind any illnesses, lay.

“I assume you won’t mind if I leave you and return to my other duties?” the headmaster asked, pleased with the fact that Hermione was in proficient hands. Severus nodded a goodbye, and Dumbledore sneaked out of the door to his own office. In the beginning of the magical escalator, between two of the most horrid looking gargoyles in the castle, Professor McGonagall awaited him with a pensive look on her face.

“Good morning, Minerva,” Dumbledore cooed and flashed the most charming smile to the witch. “So nice to see you so brisk and radiant right at the morning. How can I help you?”

”Morning, Albus,” Professor McGonagall snapped and tried to imperceptibly whisk a sudden redness off her cheeks. “Save your flirting for Sibyll and take me straight to your office, please.”

“Well, certainly, after you,” Dumbledore bowed and shoved her towards the stairs before him.

After the door had closed in the headmaster’s office, the old witch did not waste her time to chatter.

“Are you absolutely sure it is wise to ask Severus to solve Miss Granger’s condition? It is most obvious that Miss Granger does not have a very trusting nor warm relationship towards her Potions Master. And Severus, stubborn young man that he is, has never truly learned to value Miss Granger’s exceptionally fine and mature character.” Professor McGonagall snorted and frowned as a sign of disapproval. Then she continued, not giving Dumbledore a chance to even open his mouth. “Don’t you agree that Severus, being famous with his style, will only make the situation worse? He, if anyone, is capable of getting a young, vulnerable mind all mixed up and closed. And what if he decides to use his Legilimency skills? It would truly be dubious, even outrageous.”

Professor McGonagall quieted down and glanced at Dumbledore with an apprehensive look. He merely smiled at her, his bright blue eyes twinkling amusedly.

“I know, I know…but you have to trust me, Minerva. ‘Similia similibus curentur. Therein lies the rub. As the other might help the other, could the other be a right remedy to another too.’” Dumbledore chuckled cryptically, twisting his long and crooked fingers amongst each other. ”Similia similibus curentur…”

“I have no time or patience for your puns, Albus. I’m certain things might get seriously messed up by this arrangement, but then, have you ever listened to me?”

Before sweeping out of the room, she turned around, scowled at Dumbledore, and declaimed with a notorious voice: “By the Pricking of my Thumbs, Something Wicked This Way Comes.”

*

Snape sat on the chair next to Hermione’s bed and watched the sleeping girl with unremitting eyes. He took her limp hand and almost grimaced because of his habitual aversion to touching other people.

He probed her hand as softly as a feather and deciphered the weak pulse against her wrist.

She’s tense, almost as tense as she might be in the middle of a final exam, Snape thought, not ceasing to observe the unmoving figure in front of him. The Potions exam, he added, smiling a crooked smile. She is strained; one gentle touch and she’ll explode.

As an answer to his thought, Hermione threw her eyes wide open and yelled, startled in a shock.

“My apologies, Miss Granger—” That’s how I feel too, when I see my face in the mirror first thing in the morning. “—but I’m here on Professor Dumbledore’s orders. You appear to be improving, if you have enough strength to have such a reaction,” Snape said with a sarcastic voice. He rose from his chair and started to pace the room, looking around like he was seeing the surroundings for the very first time.

“If you continue to use the diluted Draught of the Living Death, it will cause grave and permanent damage to your health. I have been assigned to prepare the remedy that meets your needs more efficiently, but before that can be done, I have to perform a brief mapping of your condition.”

Hermione stared at his sallow face like he was some sort of monster from a nightmare, the type that, against all the rules of the sleepy realms, glares straight into the dreamer’s eyes from their bedside.

When her brain finally recovered from the jolt, the words he had spoken were able to reach her understanding.

“Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall have already interrogated me (like a criminal, mind you),” Hermione said, wishing the unwanted visitor would vanish like bad dreams ought to. “I’ll save both of our time by telling you that I have absolutely no idea why I am in this situation, and I don’t know what’s the matter with me and why.”

“I’m not interested about your knowledge or lack of it, as is the case. (You of all people should know that much, after all these years.) Save your voice and let me take care of things as I see fit,” Snape said, pressing his lips into a thin line as familiar annoyance started to surface. “I assume you didn’t dream last night, Miss Granger?”

“N-no, I don’t recall dreaming at all in the past few weeks. At least, not even once during my time here. Why? What does it have to do with anything?”

“I will ask the questions. You will answer, and without any unnecessary questioning, if you please,” Snape said sharply, squirming inwardly because of the forced, artificial politeness. “Only one more answer, and then I will leave you to Madam Pomfrey’s care. How are you feeling right now?”

Hermione was surprised by the frank and simple question. Her mind started furiously to search for a correct answer. “How am I feeling? Er…well…you mean now, eh? Or do you mean in general? Physically or emotionally?” Hermione wriggled in agony.

“Both,” Snape said, nodding to encourage her to continue.

“Well, I feel myself…tired I guess. Perhaps a little low…”

Hermione was incredibly disturbed, but didn’t want to say it to her Potions master. It felt extremely weird and uneasy to describe her feelings to a man who had never shown even the slightest interest in her knowledge about potions or her existence, let alone her wellbeing.

“Low?” Severus tried to coax her to continue.

“Yes, low, melancholy, uninterested, numb. It’s the same kind of feeling when the Dementors are near.” The best description to her state would have been to say that she felt like there’d been a Dementor of her own, dwelling in her heart, but that she could not reveal to Professor Snape.

“That’s enough for one day. Thank you. We will meet tomorrow at the same time. Good day, Miss Granger.” Severus nodded curtly and turned around. His robe was billowing around him like a huge black flame. Hermione tried to answer, but before she had managed to open her mouth, the man had left the room and closed the door behind him without a sound.

After staring out of the window for a while, Hermione noticed a breakfast tray on her bedside table. She took some slices of an orange from the plate and drank a glass of pumpkin juice, but left the toast untouched.

She felt extremely guilty for insulting the house-elves in this way. When Dobby came to collect the dishes, his disappointed face almost broke her heart. It was impossible to get the house-elves to understand that when lying in the bed day after day, the need for nourishment wasn’t really notable. No, they took it as a personal insult, and it was the last thing Hermione wanted to cause.

A/N:
Thank you for my lovely beta mystical spirits! And thank you all brilliant readers who were kind enough to comment. You know, commets are better than the Potions Master’s coaxing words!