Hermione sat on one of the dinner table chairs, under the scrutiny of the entire Order. Ron was not with her. Partly because he had locked himself in his room and partly because Molly Weasley would skin Snape alive if he ever looked at Ron the way he was looking at Hermione. She trembled slightly as Snape approached her.
“Where is he?” asked Snape quietly.
Hermione clenched her jaw shut and looked away from his black eyes. There was a long silence. Snape suddenly slammed his fist loudly on the dinning table. Hermione jumped and gave a small cry of fear.
“Granger, where is he?” shouted Snape.
Andromeda shot Snape a disapproving glare but said nothing. Hermione was now close to tears. Snape was towering over her and earning his reputation as the most intimidating Professor at Hogwarts.
“G-Gone,” she stammered.
A very ugly snarl formed on Snape’s face. Hermione refused to look at him and stared at the floor.
“Where has he gone?” hissed Snape.
“I-I don’t know.”
Snape began looking vicious indeed. Hermione wiped away a rebellious tear.
“I grow weary of this pretence girl,” said Snape dangerously. “Potter tells you everything. Don’t lie.”
When Hermione did not speak, Snape seized her by the front of her robes and her forced her face upwards. Fred and George started forwards angrily but McGonagall raised a hand to stop them.
“Look at me!” snarled Snape.
Hermione began to cry outright. Andromeda took a menacing step forward.
“You’re frightening her!” she said loudly.
A second after Andromeda’s outburst, Snape let go of Hermione. She slumped in her seat and buried her face in her hands. Snape showed no sign of remorse.
“Not nearly enough,” snarled Snape.
Snape turned to the others. No one had ever seen him this angry before. He was pale and his hands were trembling.
“Leave us,” he said with a slight tremor in his voice.
Fred stood forwards angrily.
“And leave you alone with her?” snarled Fred.
“That’s enough Mr. Weasley,” said McGonagall. “Do as he says.”
The Order turned to McGonagall in surprise. Slowly but surely they headed towards the door. Their trust in McGonagall outweighed their dislike of Snape. McGonagall was the last to leave. Her expression was unfathomable as she closed the door behind her. Snape cast an impenetrable charm on the door and turned to Hermione.
“Has it to do with the horcruxes?” he asked quietly.
Hermione said nothing but she could not hide the truth from Snape any longer. She was no Occlumens.
“That foolish boy!” shouted Snape.
Hermione jumped again. Snape glared at her.
“Do you realise what this means?” snarled Snape. “Alone, he cannot hope to succeed. He cannot hope to find them!”
“H-He’s not alone!” Hermione blurted out.
Snape’s expression changed to shock. Hermione covered her mouth with her hand.
“Who went with him?” demanded Snape.
“M-Malfoy,” whispered Hermione, “and Kit.”
Snape’s eyes widened in shock.
“Katherine and Draco?” he whispered.
Hermione forced herself to nod. Something that may have been concern flash on Snape's face before it was replaced by the usual agression.
“Tell me where they’re gone,” said Snape slowly.
Hermione shook her head violently. She wouldn’t tell him…Harry trusted her…
“Tell me…now,” snarled Snape through clenched teeth.
“No!” shouted Hermione loudly.
Snape pulled out a vial of clear liquid from his robes. Hermione backed away from him in fear.
“Drink it!” shouted Snape.
Before Hermione could find out if Snape would actually forced the veritaserum down her throat or not, the door burst open. McGonagall returned her wand to her robes and walked calmly in the room.
“Miss Granger, go get some rest,” she said quietly.
Hermione needed no persuasion. She ran out of the room as fast as her injured leg would allow. McGonagall closed the door as she left and sealed it again. Snape grimaced and looked away as though he had just realised something ridiculously obvious.
“You know about the horcruxes.”
McGonagall sat at the chair Hermione once occupied. Snape conjured a chair and sat opposite her.
“You’re as shrewd as ever, Severus,” said McGonagall, completely unfazed. “What gave me away?”
Snape and McGonagall had a small glaring competition before he answered.
“When Potter walked out of this house and into danger the first time you were furious,” said Snape. “You wouldn’t let it happen a second time unless you had very good reason.”
McGonagall neither confirmed nor denied his claim. Snape continued speaking.
“You ordered Katherine to go with Potter,” he said.
There was a hint of anger in this accusation. McGonagall gave Snape a look of mild surprise.
“I asked her to go with Potter…yes.”
Snape glare intensified. He wanted an explanation. McGonagall sighed and continued.
“When you returned from your previous little adventure, Katherine saw fit to fill me in on the particulars the following morning.”
McGonagall’s mouth thinned.
“She also agreed not to inform Rufus Scrimgeour,” she muttered. “He would have been quite the nuisance.”
“Is that it?” he said incredulously. “You’re just letting Potter go after the horcruxes with two other...emotionally disturbed teenagers?”
“I did not intend Mr. Malfoy to accompany him,” said McGonagall, “and Katherine is hardly emotionally disturbed.”
“She is barely a month older than Potter,” said Snape loudly, “and I don’t think I need to remind you where she spent most of her life. You taught her Minerva.”
McGonagall’s eyes narrowed.
“She’s trained as an Auror, she has experience in dealing with souls and Potter holds her in high esteem,” she said, a hint of anger laced in her words, “and I do not appreciate you insinuating that I do not care about my students.”
The tone of finality in her voice told Snape if he said another word about Katherine she’d hex him. Snape leaned back in his chair, crossed his arms and directed his glare away from McGonagall.
“Do you know where they went?” he asked.
McGonagall raised her eyebrows at Snape.
“If I did?” she said coldly.
“You wouldn’t tell me.”
“Telling you would involve trusting you...implicity.”
“Of course,” muttered Snape. “What of the duel?”
“What of it?”
Snape stared at McGonagall as if it was the first time he laid eyes on her.
“You intend to let the boy go to his death?” he snarled.
“It may not be to his death Severus,” said McGonagall quietly. “He may just succeed and bring Miss Weasley home. Albus trusted him and so do I.”
Snape actually laughed; a bitter laugh full of disbelief.
“You really believe that James Potter’s son is capable of destroying the Dark Lord?” asked Snape, “and since when did you give your trust to the same people Albus did?”
A slight smile formed on McGonagall’s face. She chose to ignore his last question.
“I know you didn’t get along with James Potter but you forget Severus…he is also Lily’s son,” she said.
Snape turned pale and froze. McGonagall smiled at him as he sat there in complete shock.
“Well?” she said when Snape did not speak.
Snape swallowed. He ran his hand through his greasy hair and made an odd sort of ‘no comment’ gesture. When Snape finally spoke he was so quiet that McGonagall wasn’t entirely sure he had spoken at all.
Snape got abruptly to his feet. McGonagall had the impression he probably couldn’t stand being in the room with her any longer. Snape turned with the usual swirl of his cloak and stalked towards the door.
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