THE OLD ANGER
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit tribute to the works of JK Rowling who created and, together with her publishers and licensees, owns the characters and settings elaborated herein.A/N: spoilers, implied SSHG
Canon leaves us plenty of room for interpretation as JK never takes us into Snape's mind. Here's one possibility of what he was thinking when he insulted Hermione's teeth in Book 4. Anti-SSHGers will not like this fic.
I made her cry today.
It began with the crowd of angry fourth years outside my classroom, glaring at each other around a central knot of combatants. Potter and Draco, of course, wands raised, fists clenched white with unrequited vengeance.
I understood at once. A duel interrupted by the spells having glanced off onto unintended victims. Goyle – and her.
Goyle had been hit with a Furnunculus, painful and disfiguring but easily remedied. I ignored the clamouring hordes and sent him to the hospital wing. I couldn't immediately see what she'd been hexed with as she was covering the lower part of her face with her hands. She didn't seem to be crying, so probably not painful.
The Weasley brat dragged her to me. She was trembling, her honey-brown eyes darting around for an escape route. The last time I'd seen her this nervous of me was in the Shrieking Shack last spring, just before she joined her brainless friends in hexing me unconscious.
The old anger, the sense of burning injustice, rose up my throat again. Faced with a mass-murderer and a werewolf about to transform, the one she'd trusted least had been me, who'd come to protect her. To protect all three of them. I'd promised myself that night, after I woke up, that the next time they threw themselves into trouble I'd punish both offences in one with a suitable comeuppance to wipe out the bitter memory. And here it was.
Weasley pulled her unwilling hands away to display her lengthening teeth, past her collar already and still growing. Ah yes, I knew this one too: Densaugeo, frightening rather than painful. Not dangerous and with a quite simple remedy. Good.
For a moment I hesitated. I could have sent her to the hospital wing without comment and merely shepherded my unruly mob into class. She wasn't likely to hex Goyle if she caught up with him, not without further provovation, and he was too slow to be a danger to her.
Yet her wide frightened eyes, skittering away from mine, reminded me anew how she'd looked at me that night. How she'd attacked me. I sneered. She hadn't seen any worth in me; very well, I would see none in her.
I looked her over, her crackling cloud of toffee-brown hair, her clear pink skin currently blotched with shame, her sparkling well-kept but rapidly enlarging teeth, and I told her so in four clipped words.
"I see no difference."
No difference between you and any other fool sidekick playing follow-the-leader into trouble and finding it. No difference between you and Goyle. You mean nothing to me.
In the short hush before she turned and fled in tears, before her dunderhead friends started shouting at me, our eyes met. I saw her horrified disbelief, her embarrassment melting into reproach then into humiliation. And I didn't know if I was angrier at myself or at her, for listening to me this time when she didn't last spring.
But I've had a lifetime's experience at keeping regret from showing on my face.
I turned to the two bellowing miscreants who were always dragging her into their idiotic misadventures and handed out their share of the punishment, fifty points off and a detention each. Perhaps pickling rat's brains will lead them to contemplate the deficiencies of their own.
She didn't turn up to the lesson at all. It was the final session of our series on antidotes and counter-poisons.
Unfortunately Potter was called away before he could have the instructive opportunity of ingesting poison and antidote. Rather disappointing because nothing teaches poison-detection so well as personal experience and it's a skill he may well need one day.
Well, when in doubt follow the Death Eater's rule of thumb: "When target is absent, substitute best friend." At any rate Potter's more likely to listen to his moaning than to any other possible candidate. So it was Weasley who detailed the physical sensations of poisoning for the class, Weasley who spewed the entire contents of his stomach into Longbottom's cauldron. And what an amazing capacity he proved to have.
Finnegan's potion was quite creditable. I was pleased to see how well apprehension had concentrated the few wits in his empty head and equally pleased to be able to pack away my own antidote unopened.
By dinner she still hadn't turned up. Still too distressed to face anyone, I surmised, as Densaugeo shouldn't have taken more than a few minutes to remedy, half an hour at most.
The library was her probable bolt hole. I gave it and its environs a wide berth in my rounds tonight. If I'd seen those tearful honeyed eyes again I might have been tempted to say – what I will never allow myself to say. I can't afford to show any preference or concession for a Muggle-born student, especially now that the intermittent burning sensation in my left forearm warns of my Master's imminent return.
She has no idea how much of a target her visibility makes her. As if it wasn't enough to be the Muggle-born friend of my His worst enemy, her academic brilliance and power put the lie to every claim of Pureblood superiority. And no matter how staunchly I discourage her from dominating my classroom, the encouragement she gets from everyone else cancels my efforts out.
It will be another sleepless night for me tonight. I didn't even bother trying. I just came straight to my office and set up enough cauldrons to keep me brewing till the dim light of morning creeps through the windows. Half a cup of Pepper-Up will see me through tomorrow and perhaps another day's distance will calm my thoughts enough to make sleep possible.
I made her cry today. And I lied.
A/N: Canon doesn't tell us who got to test the poison and antidote in Harry's stead.