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Chapter 24

The ten minutes spent waiting for Snape seemed to drag on and on. I kept forcing down my anger, knowing it wouldn’t help me. I needed a clear head so I wouldn’t be taken off guard. Snape wasn’t going to manipulate me into following him.

The doorbell rang and Mrs. Weasley, Lupin, and Black all left the kitchen. Not because they needed three people to unlock the door, but because Mrs. Black’s portrait had started screaming.

“Want me to –?” Fred began.

“I can handle it,” I assured him. Staying here was what mattered, I needed to keep telling myself that. I could take whatever Snape threw at me, I just needed to stay at Grimmauld Place.

Snape swept into the kitchen as Mrs. Black’s screams went away. I kept my eyes averted but I’m willing to bet he looked furious.

“Stand up,” he ordered. Yeah, furious was an understatement.

“No,” I said calmly.

“Come on you lot, upstairs,” Mrs. Weasley announced.

“Don’t bother,” Snape said briskly. “We’re not staying long. Lestrange, up now.”

“No,” I repeated. I was not leaving Fred defenseless.

“It’s not a suggestion. We are leaving. Now,” he said dangerously.

“I’m going to have to decline your offer, Professor,” I told him evenly.

“That is not an option. I am telling you to stand. We are leaving.”

“And I’m telling you no.”

“Jade,” Lupin cut in. “I realize you would prefer to spend your holiday here. If that were an option we would gladly welcome you. However, right now it is safer for you at Hogwarts. Professors Dumbledore and Snape are only trying to do what’s best –”

“No,” I interrupted. “Professors Dumbledore and Snape are doing what they do best. Attempting to control everything because they are arrogant enough to believe they, and only they, are right.” I squashed down the anger that had started bubbling up.

“You might as well of described yourself,” Snape said impatiently.

“I’m ok with being a hypocrite. You ok being a control freak?” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Snape move behind me.

“Get up,” he said furiously. “We are leaving.”

“No, you’re leaving,” I corrected. “I don’t have any intention of leaving London until term starts up again.”

“This is not a game –”

“I assure you I am taking this very seriously. Not at all like a game.”

“I will not tell you again.”

“Alright then, door’s over there. See you in January.” I felt Snape’s hand wrap around my upper arm and I started to reach up to defend myself but his hand was gone seconds later. He let out a growl and I snuck a peek around the table, curious about what happened. They were looking at Snape in surprise and confusion. Something clicked in my head. “You can’t make me leave, can you?” I let out a small laugh as I remembered the tugging feeling I’d felt before. “You sent Dobby to bring me back but he couldn’t do it, could he? That’s why you’re here.”

“Get up!” Snape barked.

“No, I don’t think I will.” I could hear Snape behind me yet I didn’t risk looking back. He was probably planning his next strategy.

“You and I,” he began in a voice of forceful calm, “and Dumbledore should you wish, can speak at length about…your reasoning for this. As much as you would like. But first I need you to return to Hogwarts with me.”

“Is that really the best you can do?” I asked, scoffing. “It’s weak, especially by your standards.” There was a moment before I felt it. Snape was trying to disarm me. ‘Not this time,’ I thought bitterly. I concentrated on the feeling and the moment I felt my wand leave my possession, I shot my arm back behind me as fast as humanly possible. My fingers wrapped around the silver handle just before Snape’s. “That belongs to me,” I whispered in cold fury. I ripped it out of his grasp before he could react.

“Feeling smug?” Snape asked after he composed himself.

“Confident,” I amended.

“Funny how often that gets confused with arrogance.”

“Given up yet?” I mockingly asked.

“Not in the slightest.”

“You’re going to be here all break.”

We are going back to Hogwarts.”

You maybe. Last time I checked you couldn’t make me leave. Wanna try again?”

“What I want is for you to act rational,” he snapped. “You refuse to do so. If I have to force you to be, I will.” Nobody else would have picked up on Snape’s wording but I sure did. ‘Force’ was code for control. As soon as I looked at him he would take control and haul me back to Hogwarts. Unfortunately for him I had no intention of giving him an opportunity to make eye contact. There was also the fact that he couldn’t just make me look at him with a kitchen full of people.

“Give it your best shot,” I challenged. His arm came around my left side. I flinched away from the sudden movement but all he did was drop an Ollivander’s box in front of me “What’s –?”

“Open it.” It was against my better judgment but I couldn’t help feeling confused and curious by his tactic, so I reached out for the box. It was old and battered but otherwise unremarkable. I opened it and inside there was nothing. To say I was unimpressed would have been a vast understatement.

“Nice box,” I said sarcastically.

“Vine and unicorn hair. Eleven inches. Pliable. Very good for Charms,” Snape said coolly. All thoughts of being calm and collected were gone. I started shaking in rage as I stared at the empty box. In one swift motion I jumped out of my seat and pinned Snape against the wall. While he didn’t look completely surprised, the others in the kitchen were taken off guard. Their gasps of shock didn’t matter right now, only one thing did.

“Where is it?!”

“At Hogwarts. Where you should be,” he answered.

“Give it back!” I demanded. The fact that Snape seemed unperturbed by my rage only infuriated me more. “GIVE IT BACK!”

“When you return to Hogwarts and I am sure you will not leave again. Then, and only then, will I return it.”

“I want it back now,” I whispered threateningly.

“No,” Snape responded. My grip on his robes lessened against my will. “Calm down,” he instructed in a firm voice. I realized my mistake as my hands dropped. I’d done exactly what he wanted, exactly what he planned. I’d looked him in the eye and now he was in control. I couldn’t fight it, I didn’t know how because I’d never bothered to learn before. “You need to go back to Hogwarts,” he said slowly. Somehow deep inside of me a spark of dissent shot through. I was pleased to see Snape look surprised when he felt it too. “We are going back to Hogwarts,” he told me. I could feel myself fighting for control, something Snape noticed as well. “Upstairs,” he said, wrapping his hand around my forearm. “You and I are going upstairs to discuss this privately.” Whatever headway I’d made in freeing myself disappeared and I obediently followed Snape past the others and out of the kitchen.

Without direct eye contact I could feel Snape’s grip loosening but every time I nearly reached freedom, Snape would turn me back towards him and take over again. We made it to the bedroom I’d used over the summer and Snape closed the door with a flick of his wand. After casting the usual privacy spells, he let me go, physically and mentally. I took the only appropriate response I could think of – punching him in the face as hard as I could. He staggered back a few steps, clutching his jaw as he muttered a few curse words.

“How dare you?” I whispered, shaking with anger again. “You had no right –”

“I am not the one you should be questioning,” he said angrily. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

“I did what was necessary!”

Necessary?! You illegally left the school! You think Umbridge doesn’t know you’re gone? Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to claim you strolled recklessly into the forest and you won’t be expelled. It’s more than you deserve after this stunt.”

“I don’t care about Umbridge or being expelled.”

“Of course not,” Snape mocked. “It only matters what you want, doesn’t it?”

“This is not about me! This is about –”

“What? What is this about?”

“They are in danger and you refuse to see it.”

“There is no danger! Do you really think I didn’t go to him? That I didn’t question everything I could? Arthur Weasley’s attack was part of the same plan he’s had for months, the same plan the Order has known since July. There is no other plot.”

“You’re wrong. I don’t care what he tells you, he’s planning something. I know he’s going to attack.”

“Do you not hear yourself?” Snape asked in disbelief. “Do you not realize how paranoid you sound?”

“I’m not crazy,” I spat out angrily.

“I know you’re not. You’re sick, it’s happened before –”

“I know I made the right decision.”

“No, you made a rash decision based on fear.”

“You’re wrong,” I repeated.

“Then prove it to me.” Snape pulled out a vial of his mood altering potion and held it out for me. “Take it and you’ll see I’m only trying to help you.” I eyed the potion as I heard a whisper in the back of my head. Don’t trust him. “You’re not thinking clearly,” Snape continued, unaware. He’s trying to manipulate you. “Hardly surprising considering how little you’ve slept. Not to mention your lack of appetite. Barely three meals in three days and you hardly ate anything for those.” Something about Snape’s words struck me and suddenly it was like a light bulb had gone off.

I took a step away from Snape, disbelief and anger returning. “You drugged me,” I said accusingly. “You had Dobby drug my food. The pumpkin juice,” I guessed, remembering how hard Dobby had tried to make me drink it. “And the soup and the hot chocolate. You had me drugged so I wouldn’t be able to think clearly, so I wouldn’t –”

“You think clearly on the potion,” Snape cut in, sounding frustrated. “That is the only time you’re able to see how reckless you are becoming.”

“What were you going to do?” I asked derisively. “Drug me all break? Was that your plan?”

“I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe, most especially from yourself.”

“Drug me, control me, steal from me. Maybe you’re the one I need to be kept safe from!”

“I never stole from you.”

“You took Draco’s –”

“I showed you a box, nothing more than that. In your fit of rage it never even crossed your mind that you alone have the key to open your trunk”

“You didn’t –?”

“No. There’s no way I could have.”

“So you lied to me?”

“Whatever it takes,” he said menacingly.

“I’m not going back with you,” I said, taking another step back.

“You don’t have a choice,” Snape snarled.

“I do, and I’m not leaving this house until term begins.”

“What are you trying to gain from this? What do you think you’re going to accomplish?”

“I need to be here –”

“Really?” Snape asked sarcastically. “Did it look that way when you arrived? Was Weasley lost and inconsolable without you?”

“That doesn’t mean –”

“He was fine without you,” Snape said callously. “He was fine before you and he will be fine long after you. You are the dependent one in this relationship. You are the one incapable of going a few days without him –”

“That’s not true!”

“You invested too much of yourself into this. The same way you did with Draco –”

“Don’t you ever –”

“It’s the exact same thing. You completely fall apart without him. I’ve watched it happen before.”

“I’m here because they’re in danger!” I shouted.

“No, you’re here because of a boy!” Snape roared. “A boy who apparently makes you lose all sense of rationality! You’ve been reckless! You’ve been irresponsible! All for a stupid boy who was perfectly fine without you!”

“Don’t you dare insult him!”

“Why do you care so bloody much about him?!”

“Because I love him!”

“You don’t love him! You’re fifteen! He certainly doesn’t love you! In ten years he’s not even going to remember you!”

Shut up,” I whispered furiously, hands clenched at my sides.

“Have you really deluded yourself into thinking you’re in love? Do you think you’re going to marry him?”

“Maybe I will!”

“No, you won’t! He’s not the love of your life! You’re not going to have his children! He’s just the stupid boy you dated in school!”

“He can be all of them!” I screamed, tears starting to flow down my cheeks.

“Life doesn’t work that way!” Snape hollered.

For you! It didn’t work that way for you! Not me! I’m going to do everything I can to stay by his side! I’m not you! You were a coward! You chose that mark on your arm and watched her walk away! You didn’t fight for her! You did nothing! I’m not going to be you! I’m not going to let the person I love die without ever knowing how much they meant to me!”

I don’t know why I said it. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t even know what it meant but Snape sure did. The affect my words had on him was terrifying. It was worse than how he looked at Harry, Lupin, and Black combined. I’d never seen him this way before. For the first time in my life I was scared of Severus Snape.

I unconsciously took another step back as Snape gave me a look of pure hatred. He stepped towards me and I backed up in alarm until I was pinned against the wall. I cast my gaze downward, staring pointedly at the floor because I didn’t have the courage to look him in the eye. There were still tears dripping down my face as I waited for the blow that was surely coming. It never did though. I think I would have preferred him hitting me instead of what he said next.

“Maybe if you had cared for him less,” Snape began in a fierce whisper, sending chills down my spine. “Maybe if you had let him walk away, the Dark Lord would have passed over him. Maybe he would have been spared and survived this war. Your father though? Your mother? They will destroy him. You’ll be lucky – he’ll be lucky if he’s only killed and doesn’t have to spend the rest of his life in a bed next to the Longbottoms.”

I felt my breath catch at the thought of Fred being tortured for hours. My parents would torture him into insanity like they’d done to the Longbottoms. I could imagine my mother laughing as Fred screamed in pain. Would I have that memory? Would it haunt my nightmares for years to come, just as the Longbottoms already did?

“Do you know who will be responsible?” Snape continued darkly. “Do you know who you can blame? No one but yourself. The guilt will rest solely on your shoulders. It will be your fault.”

I started crying even worse as Snape swept out of the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. He’d known just where to strike to cause the most pain. And it was unbearably painful, like my heart breaking. I knew deep down that he was right. My parents would hurt Fred because of me. Coming here hadn’t helped him because it showed how much he truly meant to me. I may as well of just handed him over to the Death Eaters.

I wrapped my arms around myself and closed my eyes trying to block out the images of Fred being tortured. It didn’t help and the tears just kept coming. Instead of my parents looming over the Longbottoms, it was them over Fred. Instead of holding an unresponsive Draco in my arms, I was holding Fred as blood pooled around us.

Someone brushed the tears off my right cheek and my eyes flew open. It was Fred, looking very concerned. My sobbing increased and he attempted to pull me into a hug.

“D-don’t touch m-me,” I stuttered.

“I just wanna help,” he said softly.

“Go away,” I pleaded.

“Please don’t push me away.”

“GO AWAY!” I shouted, shoving him with so much force that he stumbled back.

He paused for a moment before nodding. “I’m down the hall if you need me,” he said quietly. He left the room, gently shutting the door behind him.

When he was gone I slid to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably into my knees until I passed out from exhaustion.

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