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Chapter Six

Doors Left Shut

“I hate Marcus Flint!”

Shiloh was so startled by her friend's outburst that the book she had been lowering to look at her best friend slipped from her fingers and collided with the floor beside the table. It allowed Shiloh a full look of Symone. She was just in her school robes, but leather gloves with grips were on her hands, made to allow for easier grip of the broom—the very broom that was dangling from her left hand. Symone had gone to the Slytherin Quidditch try-outs. Shiloh would have gone as well, to support her, but the Slytherin try-outs were closed from the public—the rules of Quidditch Captain Flint. So, she had gone to the certain table near a window in the library that had a view to the Quidditch field, though it showed little.

By the look on Symone's face, the try-outs hadn't gone so well. Her expression looked as hot and as angry as the crackling fire in her usually calm eyes. Shiloh had seen Symone this angry before, but only once, when she had been hurt by Shiloh, and Shiloh liked it no more now. To make Symone that angry, someone would have to have done something horrible. At the very sight of her, Shiloh felt protectiveness rearing up, making her want to bring out her wand and go hunting for whoever had done this. It was inexcusable; no one hurt her best friend.

Yet, Shiloh forced herself to stay calm, to find out what had happened before she went on a killing spree. Besides, if she didn't make her friend be quiet, Madam Pince was going to get murderous. “I take it things didn't go so well, then.” Of course, she'd already figured out that much, but it was a way to start the conversation.

“'Go'!” Symone snapped, but Shiloh quickly pressed her finger to her nose to cue her for silence. Symone lowered her voice, but the exasperation and fury was still obvious. “They didn't go at all.”

Shiloh frowned, having absolutely no idea what Symone was talking about. “What do you mean?”

Symone let her broom lean against the table, crossing her arms over her chest, her anger starting to twist and turn into something more like hurt. Yet, she wasn't quite there; her eyes still flashed in rage, yet it was not as strong. The pain was beginning to crack through the anger. “They didn't even let me try-out.”

What?!” The word exploded from Shiloh's lips before she could stop it. The very idea caught her off guard, making her incredibly furious. Someone had purposely slighted her best friend! “What do you mean they didn't let you try out?” Her words were no longer yelled, but they were dark, dangerous, and low—the way it went when she was beyond angry.

Before Symone could answer, Madam Pince came rocketing around the corner, sprouting something about how libraries were sacred places, the home of all knowledge, and not for girls who couldn't keep their mouths shut. She ordered them out of the library, brandishing her wand and pointing them towards a pile of books as though to bewitch them to do something terrible to them. Symone quickly snatched up her broom, and Shiloh scrambled to gather up her books and to throw them into her book bag. Together, they sprinted from the library, a bewitched book chasing them all the way out the door.

When they were safely away from insane librarians wielding crazy flying books, Shiloh and Symone halted in an empty hallway to catch their breath. At the moment, Shiloh could care less that she had just been kicked out of one of her favorite places at Hogwarts. All she could think about was what Symone had said, what Symone had obviously just gone through. That was all Shiloh cared about—what had happened to her friend.

“So...” Shiloh began to press, giving Symone a pointed gaze to prod her to answer the question she had asked in the library. This time she was a lot more calmer. There was no use taking her anger out on Symone. She would rather listen as Symone explained.

Symone took a deep breath, the anger gone on her face as well. Remaining was just the need to explain, to tell the whole horrible tale. “Well, it all started when I got there, I suppose. I know I should have noticed that I was the only female there. And I did, but I just didn't think anything of it. I mean, I was thinking about Pansy and Annadel—they'd no sooner play Quidditch than marry a Muggleborn.”

Shiloh nodded understanding. She knew that feeling, when everything seemed to be fine, yet really if one looked closely enough, they would see something amiss. Only Symone hadn't looked closely, hadn't wanted to, but Shiloh didn't blame her. She had been so excited, ready to fight for her place on the Slytherin team. She couldn't possibly have thought that something terrible was about to go wrong.

“But when Flint--” She said the name as though she had to fight just to force it across her tongue, as though it was a filthy cuss word she was forbidden to say. “--came to start dividing us up. As soon as he saw me, he looked amused. He asked if it was a joke.”

Shiloh anger was beginning to crawl back from a simmer, though she repeatedly took cooling breaths to keep herself relaxed and calm.

Symone continued, “I didn't know what he was talking about so I told him that, and he only smirked. It took me a full minute to convince him that I was here to try-out. He looked as though this was just a game that he was going to go along with, because he kept looking bemused and rolling his eyes in disbelief. He asked me what position I was trying out for, and I told him Seeker. He informed me that the position was already filled. I demanded to know how that was possible when they hadn't even started try-outs. And he simply told me Draco Malfoy had already earned his place. I said it wasn't fair if he didn't have to try-out and that I should get the chance, too, or at least be allowed to try out for Chaser.”

“Bet he didn't like that,” Shiloh said, imagining Flint's face as a second year challenged him.

“No, he didn't.” Symone shook her head, little hairs whipping this way and that. “He informed me that I wouldn't be able to try out for anything. People like me weren't allowed.”

People like you. Shiloh repeated in her mind, and no sooner had she done so than the horrible suspicion began to sink in, twisting her stomach like a rag being rung tightly. Blood prejudice rearing it's ugly head. Because Symone was a Halfblood. Yet, that wasn't quite right. Symone had said they'd been no females, not any Halfbloods. Still, Flint could not be that much of a big.

Symone confirmed Shiloh's worst fear. “He wouldn't let me try out because I was a girl.”

Shiloh had the intense urge to storm off, draw her wand, and show that sexist pig how damaging a Bat-Bogey Hex could be if used effectively, but this was more important. Comforting Symone was much more important. With the mixture of pain and rage on Symone's face, she did indeed deserve comfort.

Symone leaned against the wall, hanging her head slightly. “He said that there hadn't been a girl on the team since before he was on the team and that wasn't going to change now. He said girls were too puny and weak to do any good on the Quidditch field. So I stormed off.”

Shiloh anger threatened to return, along with the desire to show that boy how puny and weak she was. Still, she reduced her anger. Revenge wasn't going to help comfort Symone. This was a time for justice.

“We have to go tell Professor Snape,” Shiloh said firmly, prepared to march down to his office. She was sure that he would not stand for this unfairness. Just because the Slytherin captain was unfair to women, didn't mean he would be. He'd straighten everything out, to make sure that Symone was given a fair try-out and a fair chance to get on the team, and if they were lucky he might just remove Flint from being Captain. She could even imagine how enraged Professor Snape would be.

Symone shook her head, raising her eyes to meet Shiloh. “No, Shiloh.”

Shiloh couldn't accept that. “Professor Snape will do something.”

“I know he would,” Symone insisted, her voice steady and firm—the kind that came from peace of a well-thought out decision. “I considered going to him, Shiloh—I really did. But I don't want to be apart of that team anymore. If all the people on it care about is gender and money and broomsticks, then I would much rather spend the time I would spend with them with my level-headed best friend.”

She seemed certain, but Shiloh knew that Symone was an incredible actress. The last thing Shiloh wanted to do was to be fooled into believing a lie, even if Symone didn't want her to know the truth. So, Shiloh locked eyes with Symone, narrowing her gaze ever so slightly as a way to tell Symone not to lie to her—to tell her the truth, no matter what the consequence. “Are you sure?”

Symone didn't even hesitate. She just nodded her head firmly. The hurt and anger was gone from her eyes and there was only acceptance. “Why would I want to be apart of something that doesn't accept me? Besides, they're scum.”

Symone was right. Flint and anyone else like him were the scum of the earth, the kind of people that deserved a swift kick in the bum. Yet, despite the fact that Symone was probably right that they shouldn't waste time or emotions them, the anger lingered deep inside. First prejudice against Muggleborns and Halfbloods and then against women. It wasn't just Flint either. So many people had this thick prejudice inside them. Annadel. Millicent. Almost everyone in Slytherin. Of course, Shiloh still believed that Slytherin in its entirety couldn't be evil; look at her and Symone.

Then again, she and Symone had never really fit into Slytherin, had they? Annadel and Pansy had made it increasingly clear from day one. Even the Sorting Hat had said that they would make grand Gryffindors. Maybe, just maybe, it was right.

Shiloh quickly shook the thoughts away, not liking the direction they were going. She was Slytherin. She should be proud of her house.

Right at that very moment, though, she didn't feel very proud.

“I guess we'll just have to start supporting Gryffindor team, then,” Symone teased.

Shiloh was glad to see that her friend had gotten her humor back, thankful enough to shove the unwelcome thoughts of just moments before. What had happened that day wouldn't affect them too terribly. Yes, Symone had been gypped, but she was too good for the team anyway, even if Shiloh would love to see her fly circles around Draco Malfoy. Lastly, though Shiloh was no longer considering cheering on the Slytherin team, at least until they got a new captain, supporting the Gryffindors wouldn't be so bad. Especially since they had gifted—and mischievously intelligent—Beaters.

“Come on.” Symone started down the hall, her long legs carrying her in a brisk and merry stride. “I want to drop my broom off in our room, then get to the Great Hall. I'm starving.”

Shiloh jerked herself out of her thoughts, pressing the image of George Weasley's face from her mind, and hurried after her best friend.

That Saturday found Severus where he had been waiting to go all summer, putting away the thoughts of a long school week that had begun with Harry Potter opening the school week with another one of his expulsion-worthy activities. This time it had included a flying a bewitched car all the way to Hogwarts, a feet that had placed risk on the entire Wizarding world. Yet had he and his partner in crime, Weasley, been expelled like they deserved, like any other student would have?

No, against all odds, even the stern and admirable Professor McGonagall chose to play favorites with them. Where others would have gotten at least a suspension, all Potter and Weasley got was a timid smack on the wrist. It had infuriated him, even though he still recalled the grim satisfaction as he remembered the Howler that Weasley had gotten. At least Mrs. Weasley knew how to reprimand her children.

These things, however, were far from mind as he breezed through the halls on his way to the Room of Record. It was the place that he knew held answers – after all, they had granted him so many answers before summer had begun. All summer he had itched, almost physically, to get back into the Room of Records, to continue his search. Even now his fingers caressed the long scroll of names in his pocket, the names of all the students, sorted carefully into categories of Houses and class times, who had started school in 1991. There were one hundred and forty three children – quite a large task to search through all their records, even if only half of them were girls. Severus was more than prepared for the mission. In one of those records lay the birth date he had been searching so diligently for.

So, with his Saturday free from wrangling students, he had come searching that familiar door, the one he now stood before. He twisted the knob, pushed the door open, and entered the room. The Room of Records looked quite the same as they had the last time he had been there. The same particles of dust littered the folders, books, and ancient scrolls. The same sconces remained unlit on the wall, and the same feeling on endless mysterious danced about tauntingly in the room. Severus didn't even pause to take in his surroundings, only marched straight to the first section of books.

He consulted his list, checking every female's last name that began with 'A', before finding and selecting the folders of those students. He made a stack in his arm and when he could carry no more, he returned to the back of the room, to the desk and the window.

The familiarity of the situation, along with the thought that this time he might be successful, would have taken his breath away if it hadn't been for how it felt so impersonal. In his hands were folders of students he had barely acknowledged. He knew the contents of their cauldron better than their faces. Now he might have to come to terms that one of them was his daughter.

Yet, perhaps it was best that it did not feel personal. If he did not wonder if the child might be his daughter, he could easily breeze to the date and if it did not read July, he could not possibly feel the disappointment he had felt many times before. It was a plan he clung to as he numbly looked through the folders, reading the dates and one by one, narrowing down the stack that held no answers.

For the most part, his plan worked. He continued to feel nothing even when he turned out empty. Still, with every folder that he set aside, knowing nothing more than that the girl was not his daughter, he felt a steady feeling of something slipping away.

Because with every folder that proved a waste of time, there was one less folder that could possibly hold his daughter's information. Every time he set one aside, he faced the fact that one more door was closing. He didn't let the hopelessness affect him, though. He wasn't willing to give up, not yet, and perhaps, not ever. This mission was too important to allow himself to waver, like he had done before.

So, no matter if all the folders he looked through today or any day to come turned up empty, no matter how many doors were left shut, the search for Severus Snape's daughter continued.

My betas are absolutely lovely. I seriously could not do this without them. So, if you're sitting there squeeing because another chapter is up, take a moment to applaud these two lovely ladies - Emily and Sandy. They deserve a lot of credit for catching my idiotic mistakes.

Also, chapter title comes from Crystaline Vase. I snagged it from Title Inspiration a while ago, so full credit goes to her.

Yes, I know. This chapter is very short. Please forgive me and I hope you liked it anyways. Please leave a review telling me your thoughts.

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