Vespertine

Got Love? Whether it’s unrequited, extramarital, obsessive or completely otherworldly, this fic’s got it covered. Contrary to public opinion, Severus Snape didn’t die at the Battle of Hogwarts. Although he’s not exactly “alive,” he is on a mission to possess the very thing that eluded him in life: love. While love might be the best revenge, it’s never easy. When murder and madness are part of the mix, desire has teeth—and this kind of love really bites!

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7. A Most Confounding Owl

Hermione tried every locator spell, applied every theorem of Arithmancy she knew, but her efforts to locate her parents proved fruitless. Because she'd cast the original spell to protect them from all knowledge and memory of her, she began to suspect that in doing so, she'd unknowingly created a protective shield, one that would prevent her from further intrusion, and the thought of being betrayed by her own magic was almost more than she could bear. While part of her wanted to remain in the house that no longer felt like home, just in case they returned, a greater part of her knew that she had to go. Once the neighbors saw someone living in the house, they'd start to ask all sorts of awkward questions.

Three days passed, during which she slipped back into the rhythm she'd grown accustomed to during her months as a fugitive: reading and catnapping during the day, followed by nights of restless watchfulness. While she neither expected nor feared retaliation from the remaining Death Eaters, wariness dogged her like a second shadow. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching her. Every noise made her jump, every passing car created a shadow play against the closed curtains, ghostly silhouettes of leaves and branches that never failed to set her heart racing and make her grip tighten on her wand. For the sake of her own sanity, she had to leave, but Hogwarts was in the midst of repairs and she couldn't go back to the Burrow. While Grimmauld Place was an option—one with an extensive library, to boot—she didn't relish the thought of staying there with only Kreacher for company. The tent was still tucked away in her bag but the mere thought of camping conjured bright neon lights at the top of her Oh, Hell No list. So, Hermione squatted in the house and waited.

The answer came to her on the fourth day, late in the balmy afternoon. Tired of staying cooped up indoors, she'd allowed herself a rare treat: supper on the patio in the back garden. The walls surrounding it were high, there was enough vegetation to shield her from prying eyes, and an indigo tinge had already started seeping into the shadows that crowded its narrow confines. As she toyed with her soup, another shadow, this one a solid pitch against the illusive softness of l'heure bleue, swooped over the garden and dropped a small packet on the table.

A letter?

Having received no mail for almost a week, she'd resigned herself to the simple fact that no owl could find her in a place where technically, she'd never existed. Even magic had limits. For a long time, what seemed to pass like eons, she just sat, staring at the small, light rectangle on the glass table, its pallor the only light while all else around her darkened.

Finally, she conjured a tiny light from the tip of her wand and took the letter in hand, hoping for news from Harry or even Ron, although the latter was a long shot. They hadn't spoken since their last days at Hogwarts. She turned it over to find she'd been wrong on both counts: it came from Hogwarts.  

While Hermione checked the red wax seal for charms, the owl made a sudden reappearance and settled, uninvited, in the metal chair next to hers. Cocking its head in the boneless, unsettling manner common to strigiformes, it regarded her with its copper bright eyes, ruffled its feathers, and squawked.

"Oh, be patient, would you?" As Hermione opened the letter, an exotic scent, heady as incense, wafted out. Though its perfume was strange, the missive's embossed letterhead and its author's penmanship was not. Settling back, she read it aloud:

 

Dear Miss Granger,

I need to speak with you regarding a matter of some urgency, the details of which I am uncomfortable describing in this letter, should it be intercepted. Please come to Hogwarts immediately. I have not yet recast the jinx, so apparation is still possible on school grounds.

"Gods, if she only knew," Hermione said, looking up at her odd dinner companion. When the owl did nothing but glare, she continued reading:

I value your complete discretion in this matter.

 

Sincerely,

Prof. Minerva McGonagall

Headmistress

 

 

The owl squawked at her again. 

"No return reply's been requested and I've nothing to give you but oyster crackers, so off with you!" Hermione waved it away with the letter.

The owl snapped at her fingers, narrowly missing them before it took flight. Hermione did not stay to watch its departure. By the time it vanished into the twilit sky, she  was already halfway through the kitchen, summoning her backpack from the hall closet.

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