Part II of The Seven Deadly Death Eater Tales
Part 1 – Regret and Envy
Hermione loved the rain. There was something comforting about being tucked safely inside her home while the world outside was washed clean with a deluge of rain. She even loved thunder and lightning, the way they mocked each other, calling out to each other, 'hey I'm here,' and 'yes, I know'. Sitting in her most comfortable chair, she turned it so that she could look out the window as the heavens cried new tears in the form of precipitation. Tucking her feet under her legs, propping her cheek against the back of the chair and folding her arms tightly around herself, she smiled as another flash of lightning made the grey sky bright. She counted aloud … one, two, and three … then thunder rolled overhead. The storm was getting closer. Good. Raindrops raced along the windowpane, causing the scenery outside to look wavy and undulated with an eerie sense of deceitfulness. Nothing seemed real. Her mind began to wander as she stared at the vast nothingness. For some reason, she began to think of him again. Every time it rained, she would always find her mind traveling to thoughts of him and that summer. It was the summer holiday when she was alone, no parents, no Harry, no Ron, no threat of Voldemort (even though he still loomed large as ever), between her fifth and six year. She would always wonder if her memories of him were real, or was it all a dream. Was it a hallucination, or a fond wish that would never come true? She wanted it to be real. She envied those who could look back and remember their first loves fondly. She could barely remember her first love at all. Perhaps it was real but someone had Obliviated it almost completely from her mind, leaving only a fragmented portion behind for her to remember on rainy days, such as today. It all started long ago, when she was still in school …
Sitting in her most comfortable chair, she turned it so that she could look out the window as the heavens cried new tears in the form of precipitation. Tucking her feet under her legs, propping her cheek against the back of the chair and folding her arms tightly around herself, she smiled as another flash of lightning made the grey sky bright. She counted aloud … one, two, and three … then thunder rolled overhead. The storm was getting closer. Good.
Raindrops raced along the windowpane, causing the scenery outside to look wavy and undulated with an eerie sense of deceitfulness. Nothing seemed real. Her mind began to wander as she stared at the vast nothingness. For some reason, she began to think of him again.
Every time it rained, she would always find her mind traveling to thoughts of him and that summer. It was the summer holiday when she was alone, no parents, no Harry, no Ron, no threat of Voldemort (even though he still loomed large as ever), between her fifth and six year.
She would always wonder if her memories of him were real, or was it all a dream. Was it a hallucination, or a fond wish that would never come true? She wanted it to be real. She envied those who could look back and remember their first loves fondly. She could barely remember her first love at all. Perhaps it was real but someone had Obliviated it almost completely from her mind, leaving only a fragmented portion behind for her to remember on rainy days, such as today.
It all started long ago, when she was still in school …
"Hurry, Harry! I don't want to be late for Potions again!" Hermione Granger ran down the flagstone corridor of the dungeons with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley close on her heels. They were already late for Potions. It was the second time they would be late this week.
Slamming into the door, lifting the handle, the three practically clamored in, knocking each other over, causing every head of every classmate to turn from their seats and stare at them. One head, however, remained staring at the chalkboard in front of them.
Draco Malfoy sneered and said loudly, "You three are in so much trouble."
Hermione made a face at him as they walked by, Ron sitting next to Seamus, Harry next to Dean, and Hermione taking the only empty seat left, next to Neville.
Finally, their professor slowly turned from the chalkboard and said, "Thirty points from Gryffindor for tardiness, ten for each of you." He looked at Harry first, then Ron, and lastly at Hermione.
She said, "But professor, we had a perfectly good reason for being late. Peeves …" She got no further.
"ENOUGH!" the professor yelled. He moved over to his desk, sat down, and said, "Start the potion I assigned, now."
Hermione sighed and then looked at Neville. "What did he assign?" she asked softly.
He opened his book and moved it closer to Hermione. "He said we could work on either this potion or the one on page 254."
Hermione nudged Neville's book aside to open her own to page 254. The first potion he showed her was incredibly easy. She had done that one on her own before during her summer vacation. She would rather work on the more challenging potion. Flipping through the pages, she finally landed on the correct page. "Invidia Encontra," she read aloud. "Hmm, I think I'll work on this potion, Neville."
"We're to work as partners," Neville stated, since Hermione had been absent when Professor Snape explained that part. "And I think that potion seems too complicated, seeing that it's in a portion of the book that we've not even studied yet. Let's work on the other one."
Hermione shook her head no and said, "That potion is too easy. I did it back when I was fourteen, just for fun, and there's no challenge in doing something I've already done before. Besides, I'd really rather do this one."
Neville leaned over her book and asked, "What does it do?"
Hermione read the first few paragraphs, leaning toward Neville, and said, "Apparently, if a person feels envious about something, this potion can completely wipe that feeling away, by making them feel empathy, instead of envy. That's extremely interesting."
"Doesn't sound that impressive to me," Neville implored sincerely. "More to the point, I'm not envious of anything, and you don't strike me as an envious person, and Professor Snape said we must test the potion when we're done, so how will we know if our potion works? Who will we test it on when we're finished?"
Hermione looked around the room. Most of the students were busy starting fires under their cauldrons or going to the storeroom for ingredients. Hermione finally pointed toward Draco Malfoy and said, "We'll make Malfoy test if for us. Everyone knows he's envious of Harry."
Neville laughed and asked, "How in the blazes are you going to get him to try it?"
"Let me worry about that," she laughed. "You go get our ingredients."
The time flew by quickly as Hermione, with a little help from Neville, carefully and meticulously measured and added ingredients in their cauldron in the exact order in which the book listed. Having done everything correctly, Hermione was dismayed when her potion turned out a strange green colour, instead of the 'aqua' colour that was listed at the bottom of the page.
"I have to admit to being colourblind," Neville claimed, "so it could be pink for all I know," he finished, trying to placate her hurt feelings as she examined the small vial of potion that she'd poured at the end of the class.
Hermione sighed and said, "Wonderful, now Snape will give us a failing mark."
"Perhaps not," Neville cajoled. "Test it on Malfoy first and see if it works."
Hermione leaned closer to Neville and whispered, "How do you suppose we'll get him to test it for us?"
"The Imperius Curse?" Neville joked.
Hermione and Neville both laughed just as their professor walked behind them. "What do we have here?" he snarled.
Hermione sat upright in her seat and said, "Oh, Professor, it's our assignment."
"This is not the Remitted Extremist Potion that I assigned," he said, picking up the vial and examining the green liquid closely.
"Well, no, it's not," she agreed. The entire class had stopped working on their potions to listen. "Neville and I decided to work on the other potion on page 254, the Invidia Encontra potion."
"Really?" he drawled, holding the vial higher, an amused look upon his face. A few Slytherins in the room snickered. "That potion is supposed to be aqua in colour when finished, is it not?"
"So the book claims," Hermione said with a cocky demeanor. This time, Harry and Ron snickered, while Neville cowered in his seat.
Snape suddenly turned to face her, his long black robes swinging along with him. He banged his hand hard on the flat surface of her table and said, "So I say as well, Miss Granger! Ten more points for cheek!" He held the vial up again and asked, "Who wants to test this potion out for Miss Granger?"
Dean Thomas held up his hand, and after Snape nodded toward him, the boy asked, "What does it do, Sir?"
"This rudimentary, useless little potion supposedly eliminates a person's greatest sense of envy," he sneered.
Draco Malfoy laughed and said, "So if Princess Mudblood drank it, she would immediately be contented with being a know-it-all, bushy haired, bucktooth, inferior, low class nobody, instead of wishing she was entitled to her magic?"
Harry stood up immediately, knocking over his chair in the process, Ron right behind him. Seamus held Harry back with both hands; Dean did the same with Ron. Hermione glared at Draco and said, "I was going to try to find a way to make you take the potion, Malfoy, that way you wouldn't be so envious of Harry."
"Why you filthy, dirty little Mudblood," Draco spat, standing as well, along with his sidekicks, Crabbe and Goyle.
Snape yelled, "ENOUGH!" He walked back to his desk and said, "Five points from Potter and Weasley for instigating a fight. Five from Mr. Malfoy for use of the word Mudblood, and finally, five more from Mr. Longbottom for bad judgment, for not getting up and moving the minute Miss Granger sat next to him today. Everyone may leave now. Miss Granger, you stay."
The class filed out after cleaning up their stations. Hermione watched Neville clean up theirs, and then finally, after giving her a reassuring pat on the back, he left her as well.
Snape walked into his office, leaving Hermione alone in the Potion's lab. She didn't know what she was meant to do while he was gone, so she sat quietly by, waiting for his return. When he did return, he looked different somehow. He seemed shaken, upset, almost as if something had finally pierced that invisible armor that he always wore so well.
He sat down at his desk, his chair swiveled toward the front, with his back to her and the vial still in his hand. Hermione didn't know what she was meant to do or say. Finally, she spoke.
"Professor Snape?" He didn't respond, so she continued. "I really don't know why I'm in trouble. Neville did say that we could do that potion as well, and I know that no one else did it, and apparently, I must have done it wrong, so take off points, or fail me for the day, but other than that, why am I staying behind after class?"
He closed his eyes and wrapped his fist tightly around the vial of green potion. No, she wouldn't know, would she? To her, it was something that had yet to happen. Perhaps it didn't happen. Perhaps his mind was playing a trick on him, for how could he have one memory of a situation one day, and then drink a potion, and after that have a completely different set of memories? It just couldn't be!
For he knew the first time he lived that summer, she wasn't a part of it, yet now his memories were full of nothing but her. He looked down at the potion in his hand and asked, "Time is a funny thing, isn't it, Miss Granger?" His back was still to her.
Hermione didn't know what one thing had to do with the other. She looked around the cavernous Potion's lab and said, "In a way, yes, it is. Some people think of it as a constant, other people think of it as a theory. Some believe that time is on a never-ending loop; others believe that it's on a series of planes, all happening at once. There are whole fields of Muggle studies devoted to theories of time, like quantum theories. There are the theories of relativities…"
He interrupted her by saying, "Miss Granger?"
"Do shut up," he stated.
She sat back in her chair and closed her mouth.
After about five minutes he inquired, "Why were you late today?" He turned to face her slowly.
"Peeves opened all the windows in the second floor hallway and it was flooded due to the rain, and we were forced to go back around the other way, where we got stuck on the moving stairs," she explained.
He nodded, almost absentmindedly. "Ah, yes, it's raining today, isn't it?" He stood up and approached her slowly. "I happened to like rainy days. Do you?"
"Not particularly," she answered, a bit confused.
He smiled at her and said, "You are so young, aren't you? You have your whole world and life before you. You have nothing to hold you back. You have nothing to regret yet, and I'm sure there's nothing you envy, or wish was different about your life, is there?"
"No, Sir," she replied.
"I thought not," he said. He walked away again, still grasping the vial of green liquid. "Speaking of time and envy, and the like, do you believe in fate, Miss Granger?"
"Yes," he snapped, a bit harsher than he meant to. He faced her again and repeated. "Fate. Do you, Miss Granger, believe in fate?"
"No, I don't," she responded. "We make our own fate. Destinies can be changed by one variation in the present. It all goes back to time, I suppose. If someone is one second late somewhere, they might not meet a person who would otherwise be someone important in their life. Is that fate, destiny, or bad luck? Who knows?"
"Again," he said with a slight laugh, which felt contrived, "you are so young and naïve. But then, I once viewed the world just as you do. I thought everything was a certain way and that nothing and no one could or would change it, and then a young woman, during a short summer holiday when I was a teenager, a young woman much like yourself, showed me how wrong I was."
"Really?" she asked, mostly because she didn't know what else to say, and because she thought his mood was rather somber and sad, therefore, she felt badly for him.
He asked, "Shall I take your potion?" although he had already taken some.
"No, Sir, since I apparently did it wrong," she decided.
"Should you take it?" he asked, almost taunting her.
She cocked her head to the side and said, "Again, I would have to say no to that, since I did it wrong. Who knows what might happen."
He walked around her desk and said, "What if I told you that I already know what will happen, Miss Granger? Believe me, I didn't know, I didn't. When you first walked in here today, I didn't know. When I first set the assignment, I didn't know. When I gave the alternative potion on page 254, I didn't know. When you began to make it, I didn't know."
He leaned down toward her and she backed against her chair, somewhat curious, somewhat cautious. His diatribe went on, "When you handed in your potion, I didn't know –but then, then-" and he stopped.
"Then what, sir?" she asked softly.
He opened his palm and she could tell for the first time that the vial in it was only half-full. He said, "And then, for some ungodly reason, I took a drink, and my past changed, time changed, my life changed. For the love of all that's good, I think my destiny might have changed. For the first time in my life, I no longer felt envious for things I didn't have. I no longer felt pain or remorse for what might have been."
"Whatever do you mean, Professor?" Hermione placed a hand on his robe sleeve.
He looked down at that hand, back in her face, and shook his head and said, "Never mind, young lady. Never mind. There's no way I can explain it to you. I'm not sure I even want to do so. Nevertheless, know one thing, your potion didn't fail. It did more than you realize, and if you ever want to understand what I mean, take a drink yourself someday." He handed it to her. "That is all. Now leave my sight."
He stood so suddenly that Hermione almost fell out of her seat. Picking up her books and things, (including the rest of her potion in a vial with a stopper), she ran down the hallway, up the stairs, until she found a secluded window seat.
Placing her books and things on the seat beside her, she looked out at the rain as it poured down outside, making the glass wavy with a thick coat of wetness. Curious as to what he meant about time and destines, and as to his somber mood after he drank her potion, she knew she had only one recourse. She had to drink the potion as well.
She did. She drank the potion. And nothing happened. Nothing at all. She had failed. Her potion didn't work, and Professor Snape was apparently a bit crazy. She placed the empty container in her robe pocket and walked down to the Great Hall to join Harry and Ron for lunch. It was almost the end of fifth term, and she wanted to tell them about an interesting holiday she had planned for two weeks that up coming summer.