Cold as ice,
And more bitter than a December,
That's how I treated you.
-Better Than I Know Myself, Adam Lambert.
Chapter 8-Detention Part 1
After loosing her temper in Defense while Professor Snape had been subbing for Lupin; Hermione had unsurprisingly spent her Friday evening in the company of the Potion's Master. With a month worth of detentions to look forward too during her weekday evenings. She didn't see the man again over the weekend, save for passing at meals in the Great Hall, until Monday morning rolled around.
Arriving at the entrance of the castle, where she met Snape every weekday morning to run a lap around the lake, long before the rest of the castle had even decided to wake up. She was just finishing her warm up stretches, when the man exited the castle in his normal half awake daze; dressed in his usual grey, slightly baggy sweats and worn sneakers.
"Good Morning Professor." She greeted sticking her hands in the pockets of the zip up sweater she was wearing over her usual running attire of a tank top and running pants. She was answered with a grunt of acknowledgment before he gave a jaw cracking yawn and walked off toward their usual route without giving her any further comment.
She had learned from her first morning running with him that he was most definitely not a morning person; not that he seemed like an afternoon or evening person either. This early in the morning he reminded her more of a lazy and disgruntled cat rather than the large terrifying bat that most students referred to him as. He seemed drastically less intimidating without his signature billowing black robes; she briefly wondered if Neville were to see him like he was in the mornings the boy might not be so scared of the man.
She was sure though, while he appeared to be half asleep he was still on guard for any trouble. Someone like him couldn't risk letting his guard down fully even when he was relatively alone and in no immediate danger. It was simply to ingrained in him, like it was her. A habit that had served them both in their unique pasts; and was likely to be just as useful in the coming years.
Finishing their circuit around the lake, Hermione stretched her arms over her head, a contented sigh as her back gave an audible crack. Heading into the castle with her customary farewell directed at her catatonic partner.
"Have a good day, Professor." She said as she headed up the stairs to the front door. This was usually followed by another grunt of acknowledgment on Snape's part before he headed back down toward the dungeons.
"Ms. Granger." She paused in surprise at the sound of the unusually deep and sleep laced voice, lacking any of the usual undertone of disdain that almost always accompanied anything Snape addressed to a student. Turning back to face the Potion's Master, who was climbing the stairs behind her.
"Remember detention tonight after dinner." He mumbled, brushing past her roughly without much notice and retreated back down into his dungeon lair.
"Yes sir," she replied, caught up in the odd talkativeness as she watched him go for a moment before following to go to her own rooms.
Severus did not look up when Granger entered his office that evening, he set another red marked test aside and moved on to the next one. It was Monday, so not only did he have a stack of tests focused on the potion his third years had brewed last Friday, but also the foot and a half long essay he had assigned over the weekend on the properties and other uses for the potions ingredients. The essays, were stacked high to one side of his desk waiting to be graded.
This time he did not make her wait long; it had already been established that she wasn't going to be intimidated by his usual tactics.
"You will be processing the blood lotus plants I have provided. When you are done; stations two and six have the remains of two second years botched attempts at brewing. Clean up the remains," he instructed. His quill continuing to assault the parchment in front of him with large amounts of red ink, pausing briefly to add almost smugly, "without magic, Ms. Granger."
"Yes Sir." She acknowledged, and headed out the adjoining door that led into the potion classroom, missing the calculated gaze that followed her retreating form.
Snape had picked a rather potent plant for her to work with this time; while not dangerous in small quantities, in larger batches the aroma the flowers put off would cause anyone in the vicinity to be subject to hallucinations and become very suggestible. The amount he had acquired was not dangerous, but if proper precautions were not taken Granger was sure to find herself having a hard time concentrating on her tasks.
He had to admit he was curious; to see if she would register the dangers of the flowers aroma, or simply pass it off as a pleasant scent. Last year he had briefly gone over this exact plant and it's dangers when it was not handled properly; what could happen if one allowed their self to become compromised by the plant while brewing. A danger many amateur brewers did at some point in their careers and were met with severe consequences when crucial mistakes were made. Granger had been petrified shortly after the homework had been returned and with no exams that year, it would be interesting to see if she retained the information. If not, then he would get to dock more points from Gryffindor; for whatever trouble she got herself into while under the influence of the intoxicating flower.
Stepping through the doorway, Hermione was assaulted by a sweet scent similar to lavender. Glancing back at the door she had just come through, a slight sheen of magic could be seen over the doorway. Snape had put up a barrier, obviously to keep the smell from saturating his office, while leaving the door open.
"What a pain," She muttered, covering her nose with her hand. He had been obviously disappointed she wasn't squeamish with the toads, this was some new tactic he was trying with her. Digging around in her bag until she found the handkerchief she kept stashed in the bottom. Covering the lower part of her face, using the fabric to help filter out the air as she took stock of the room.
She had known from the moment Snape had mentioned the plant, what he was trying to do; he was testing her. She was thankful that after returning to London in the past, Hermione had found herself spending a significant amount of time going through Ron's old school books. She had taken to reading to the comatose young man, part of her hoping that he might wake up just to tell her to stop with the school work. It had been a refresher course for the witch, going over the courses that had been neglected in the years since she had left school.
Looking around the room, she was unsurprised to not find any windows, it was a dungeon after all. With no windows for her to open and filter out the tainted air, Hermione went to the next option. Simply using an air cleansing charm would only help for a short time with the source of the smell still in the room, the flowers would continue to taint the air. The bubblehead charm had been a better option, but while she knew the spell it wasn't something a third year could easily pass off knowing, even if she was the Know-It-All of Gryffindor.
So she was left with one option; to continue with her current temporary solution of cleansing the room, and work quickly to get rid of the plants as fast as possible before the aroma could effect her to severely. Dropping her things at one of the clean work stations she adjusted her handkerchief so that it was secured over her mouth and nose and began gathering the things she would need. Moving one of the small boxes of flowers to her workstation, the label 'Greenhouse 5' along the side, identifying the flowers had come from Hogwarts own greenhouse.
Pulling out a bundle of the long stemmed plants, a large bulb for a root on one end, a partly open blood red flower at the other. Casting an air cleansing charm, Hermione set her wand on the table top in easy reach and picked up a set of plant shears, similar to the ones used in Herbology. Going straight to work; she snipped the root bulb from its stem, placing that aside. Clipping off all the leaves and the budding flower; the leaves were placed in their designated box, that would eventually have a stasis charm placed on it to keep them fresh before discarding the stem. After placing on a set of protective gloves, she picked up the flower bud and carefully plucked all the petals, discarding the first outer layer of leaves, careful to not let the petals touch her skin, the oils in them were what gave off the dangerously intoxicating aroma. The remaining petals were stripped and placed in another box, there they would be left to dry and eventually be ground into a fine powder.
She continued on in an almost mechanical fashion; periodically pausing every few plants to cleanse the air. Even with the precautions; the sweet smell was beginning to make her feel giddy, almost as if she had an excessive amount of sugar in her system, or alcohol. When the box was empty, she placed the pile of bulbs in it. They would be returned to the greenhouse to be planted for the next crop of blood lotus and moved on to the next box. By the time she was finishing the last crate, Hermione had found herself unconsciously humming an upbeat tune as she preformed a final cleansing on the air, after having sealed the box containing the flower petals.
First task done she set about her second; station two was simple enough, there were some scorch marks on the table top and a large blackish green stain burnt onto the stone work top. The scorch marks, where the heat had melted into part of the counter, would have to be repaired with magic. The stain on the other hand was a little more difficult, it took a number of different cleaners and a hard bristled brush before she was finally able to work off the last of the substance. Station six was a little more tricky. Whoever had blundered their potion here must have been a relation of Neville; because they had manage to melt their cauldron quite spectacularly onto the tabletop, along with more of that burnt blackish green substance.
Scrubbing wasn't going to work for this mess and without using her wand she was limited on ways to go about removing the substance.
The hours had ticked by as the time approached curfew and the girl still had yet to emerge from the classroom. From time to time he could hear her voice filtering out of the open door, but the words were muffled. When the clocked ticked to ten till, the Potion's Master finished marking off the last of his essays. Rising from his seat, he removed the spell from the doorway and went into check on the Gryfindor girl.
Entering the room he noted that most of the flower scent had been cleaned from the air and the ingredients were set out in their labeled containers on one of the work tables. One of the ruined workstations was scrubbed clean, save for a few lingering scorch marks. The other had a particular bushy haired Gryfindor perched atop it as she chipped at the melted cauldron bit by bit. Now that he was closer, he could hear what she was saying. She seemed to be resiting something, and considering who it was it was most likely a book.
"-I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the horses the new strength of fear for the last mill so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you did not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.-" as she spoke she pulled out a rag from a bucket and soaked the table top in the solution before returning the rag to the bucket and continued to chip away at the remains of the cauldron. The solution seemed to loosen the melted metal enough for her to chip off small pieces using the leverage from her high perch on the table top. The melt down the cauldron had gone through had left it more brittle and prone to breaking than a normal pewter cauldron, the solution seemed to aid in breaking it apart as well, making it easier for her to break off sizable chunks.
As she paused to wipe the bits into a slowly growing pile, Snape pulled his wand out with a flourish and vanished the whole thing. The girl recoiled from the vanished mess, hand twitching toward her wand that was casually sticking out of the top of a knee high sock, before relaxing all in the span of three seconds. Severus's trained eye had caught the movement; good reflexes, he noted. Vaguely he wondered, if he had actually attempted to sneak up on her, would she have tried to hex him?
"You're done for tonight, Granger. Cleanup your things and get to your dorm, it is almost curfew and I will not be your excuse for being out after hours."
"Yes sir." Hermione said cheerfully, slipping off the table top and gathering up her cleaning items to return to their proper places. His dark eyes followed her around the room as she put her things away, most students found this unsettling when he did so. Granger, on the other hand seemed to still be under the lingering effects of the blood lotus plant. An effect he had experienced on one occasion in his youth, a feeling similar to downing several shots of firewhiskey in one go. It seemed to make Granger positively chatty, much to Severus's annoyance, she seemed to be unaware that she was currently talking at him like one of her peers.
"Have you ever read any of C. S Lewis's work. He's a Muggle author; did a wonderful series about another world in the back of a wardrobe, with a witch, a lion, an eternal winter and some random lamppost in the middle of a forest." Suddenly she paused, face practically lighting up as she was struck with some random thought, before she found herself giggling uncontrollably.
"What, pray tell, is so funny Ms. Granger?" Snape bit out sharply, not amused by her sudden fit of uncharacteristic giggles as she gathered up her school bag.
"Have you ever licked a lamp post in winter?" She asked in such a scandalous tone, it was down right indecent for any respectable adult, let alone a thirteen year old. Snape stood there for a moment due to the shear oddity of the question, and the tone in which she said it. She stared at him expectantly, and he reciprocated by leveling his cold dark eyes at her in his best no nonsense glare.
"10 points from Gryfindor Miss Granger, for lack of precaution while dealing with toxic substances." He barked out roughly, this only seemed to cause her to burst into another bout of giggles as she headed toward the door.
"That's not a no." she sung back teasingly, still giggling as she slipped out the door before he could dock any more points.
"And another 5 points for your cheek."