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Chapter 4 : Discussions in the Dungeons
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Her father, step-father that is, was probably right. It seemed he wanted to speak to her. Only he hadn’t had the courage. He was the Slytherin Head after all. Slytherins weren’t known for their courage. But Gryffindors were.
After potions, as all the students were escaping quickly, Hermione stayed behind, telling Harry and Ron that she had a question about the procedure of the potion they just made.
“Be careful,” Ron murmured.
Hermione rolled her eyes at his continued suspicions. She just couldn`t take it all to heart.
“Professor Snape,” Hermione said after everyone had left.
Severus looked up from the potions he was collecting, trying not to grimace at the use of his last name. “Miss Granger. Did you need something?”
Hermione looked around again, making sure the room was empty. “I apologize for not coping with any of this very well. I just wanted to tell you that.”
Smiling for a second, Snape said, “It’s alright, Hermione. It’s to be expected.”
He turned his back to her, so he wouldn’t have to watch her as she left back up the stairs. Only, she didn’t leave.
“I was wondering,” She said, “If you would tell me about you and my mother.”
He turned around slowly. “You what?”
“I want to know what happened between you two, how this all came to be the way it is. I’m curious, but I don’t think my mother wants to retell the story, and I doubt my fa-step-father knows the whole story. I was wondering if you could explain it to me, if it isn’t any trouble. If you don’t mind, that is.”
“Your mother and I? I don’t know how much there is to tell.”
“But I don’t know anything about you two, or what happened, and why I’ve never met you before this year, only that my mother didn’t like the idea. Please?”
“Well, I suppose.”
Snape was sweating, leaning up against his desk. Hermione had moved to perch on a stool.
“It happened during the war. I was in my mid twenties, and spending a lot of time in the muggle world, trying to avoid the war. That’s where I met her, in a pub in downtown London. We chatted for a while, over a few pints, then she left and I thought that would be it, like all the other muggles I spent time with. Then a few nights later, we were both back at the same bar, chatting again. We made plans together, and the relationship grew, I suppose.”
“We had been casually together for a few months before she stumbled upon me doing magic. She was terrified of course, and fled. I figured that was that, and went back to my routines of drinking in London’s Pubs at night, trying not to think of the war. Then, just a few weeks after the death of You Know Who, I came across an ad in the paper, about the engagement of your mother and that man, I’m sorry, I don’t remember his name. It mentioned her newborn daughter. The ad was only ten months after we had stopped seeing eachother, so I jumped to conclusions.”
“I went by her house one night, just to talk. I wanted answers. Your mother wouldn’t speak to me, she kept claiming she didn’t know me. I got upset, and I shouted a little. I didn’t mean to, but you woke up in another room and began crying. Your mother rushed off and her fiancé pushed me out the door. I could tell, even if your mother said nothing, that this man knew. He didn’t know perhaps why we had split up, but I could see that he knew I was the father, and that your mother didn’t want me there. She stuck to the argument of not knowing me your whole life.”
Snape sighed. It was odd speaking of this. He hadn’t told anyone this. He hadn’t even told Dumbledore, not even now. He hadn’t wanted to ruin Hermione’s plans to keep it secret, if that was what she wanted.
“Why” Hermione started slowly, “didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you force her to see me?”
“I have no real power in the muggle world. Besides, I wasn’t sure if you’d want to meet me. Even now, I don’t know if I should have introduced myself. You don’t like me, you’re afraid of me.”
Hermione’s throat grew dry, and she looked at her feet. She hadn’t tried to be afraid. She was trying to dismiss the idea that her father was trying to steal the philosopher’s stone. Only, sometimes it came through.
“What did I do wrong?” Snape asked, quietly.
“Why did you attack Harry?” Hermione blurted out.
“Why did I what?”Snape became angered.
“At the first quiddich game, you were bewitching Harry’s broom, trying to knock him off of it.”
“I did nothing of the sort! How dare you...”
“I saw you! You weren’t blinking and you were mumbling and when I put the fire onto your cloak,
you panicked and broke eye contact, then Harry was fine!”
“I did not!”
Snape noticed the tears dripping down Hermione’s small face, then noticed that he had been yelling at her.
“I didn’t.” He whispered. “I saw that Harry was being bewitched. I was trying to stop it with a counter curse. I was trying to save the boy.”
“But...” Hermione sniffed, wiping tears from her cheeks.
“Please don’t cry.”
“Why would you save him?”
“I was-“ Snape reached out his hand to wipe at Hermione’s tears, but didn’t know what to do and stopped short. “His father saved my life, when we were younger. I was indebted to him.”
Hermione’s sniffles slowed, as she looked up at her father through wet eyes. His hand had fallen away from her, thankfully, though at the same time, regretfully.
“I’m not a brave man. I’m not exceedingly honest either. I’m callous, and angry, and unfair. But I will keep my word, no matter what the cost. I will repay my debt to Potter through that boy.”
Snape looked back down at Hermione who was looking up at him with her big, deep brown eyes. He saw again the resemblances and he nearly smiled. A stray tear was still sliding down her cheek, and he moved his hand silently to intercept it. He was nearly there when the door opened.
“Hermione, are you still down here?” Ron asked.
Snape dropped his hand quickly, but by the look of fear and hatred plastered on the young boy’s face, he had seen it. No doubt he thought something terrible of it as well.
“Hermione,” The boy’s voice cracked. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, honestly Ronald, I’m coming.”
Hermione gave one last glance to her father before standing and meeting Ron at the door. When they were a good distance from the dungeons, Ron stopped and grabbed Herimone’s neck, pulling her face toward him. He turned her face and examined her neck, looking for something.
“What are you doing?”
“Where did he hit you?”
“He didn’t hit me!”
“Well, he was gonna.” Ron muttered, dropping his hands from Hermione’s neck and stuffing them in his pockets. “You were crying.”
There was silence, Hermione tried to keep walking, but Ron stayed put.
“Why were you crying, Hermione? Did he do it?”
“It’s stupid.” Hermione flustered.
“What did he do.”
“I-He told me my mark for last week’s paper. It isn’t nearly good enough. I guess between studying for finals, and flitwick telling me my wand position was all wrong this morning, and now this I just...”
Ron started walking slowly, “His hand was raised. He was going to hit you.”
“No, I think I just spooked him. I don’t think he knew how to deal with me. I don’t imagine he’s faced with dealing with many crying girls.”
“There’s still time for lunch.” Ron said, “Let’s go get you some pumpkin juice, and some food.”
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