The Mistake in Benevolence

Chapter One: Potions

Out of everything in this world that I did not understand, one of them was why he always stared at me like that. Ever since the first time I stepped foot into the school, or to be more precise, the first time I saw him, he stared at me in that way--that special way--he reserved only for me. At first I couldn't quite place what it was, exactly, but after seeing it for so many years, I think I had figured it out. At first I thought it had been an assortment of feelings, because that's what it looked like to me when I first tried deciphering it. I thought that it was a mixture of uneasiness, of fear, and perhaps maybe anxiousness, and admiration, as well. Almost as though staring into my eyes gave him the feeling of finally admitting to a girl he was in love with her and he was unsure of her feelings. That little scenario I had cooked up in my brain easily covered all of those feelings I thought I saw in those black, tunnel-like eyes. Of course, now that I was a fourth year and had to deal with that look every day that I had seen him, I understood fully what it was.

It was hatred, pure and simple.

I have no idea why he hates me so much, but I know that he does. For awhile I forgot that I saw that very look in his eyes when he first saw me walking up to the Sorting Hat, when I saw his eyes slide over the crowd and they focused entirely on mine, and his body froze, and for a second I thought he had recognized me from somewhere, but then his lip curled into a sneer and he hastily looked away, hatred etched onto every inch of his repulsive face. I had forgotten that moment for awhile and tried telling myself he hated me because of something I did, something I needed to fix, and that if I somehow mended it then he would stop. But then I remembered that moment and realized he always had hated me from the moment he laid eyes on me and he always would.

Hell, I didn't even have the cover of Gryffindor to blame it on. I was a Slytherin. I was a Slytherin and my own Head of House couldn't bear to the sight of me. It wasn't enough that the other houses had to hate the fact I was in Slytherin--because they did, they despised this house--but my own Head of House did too. I wasn't a very popular person after a few short weeks, since the other houses wouldn't look at anyone known to be a Slytherin, and it didn't take long for the students in my house to figure out that Professor Snape wasn't fond of me.

He had pretty much made it apparent in the first Potions lesson, which was extra humiliating since I shared that class with the Gryffindors, who undoubtedly had heard Slytherin's wonderful reputation. I was listening raptly, paying close attention to what he was saying, although I will admit I wasn't writing notes. I never wrote notes unless a teacher asked me to, since I could remember most of it. He had never asked anyone to write anything down, and he was just talking about what he could teach us. Part of it may have been my fault, or at least that was what I had assumed after that, considering I had forgotten how he had given me that look of seething hatred before the Hat had even descended upon my head. I wanted it to be my fault because if I had made a mistake, I could mend it. But after much consideration, I realized that I had no fault whatsoever and he was just a git.

I remember feeling so enchanted by the way he spoke and moved. I could tell that he loved the subject he taught. He held a deep respect for it, almost like it was an actual person, someone he respected and knew, or like it was something he had created all by himself, like he was showing off his masterpiece painting. He was in charge, in complete control, of the situation, and it mesmerized me entirely. Being as I had always been bullied in primary school (I was a half-blood, and my father stated in his will that I should learn the muggle ways, which my mother hated to oblige to) I had always wanted to be intimidating like that, and to have people stare up at me and be mesmerized, and to not be the one in a circle being humiliated.

Of course, my being mesmerized by him didn't last long. He had noticed I was staring at him with rapt attention, and I'll admit, a small bit of adoration--it was the way he spoke that I think made me feel so attracted that first day--and when his eyes hit mine, they seemed to freeze. He seemed to freeze. There was a shocked, frightened, and wistful expression on his face--the reason I know this, was because I had replayed the expression in my head a million times over, hoping that I could somehow think of something to explain his abhorrence of me--that made me feel excited at first, like perhaps he could tell I was important or special, and because so many teachers had looked me over and not paid attention to me growing up, even though I was usually the brightest, but that excitement dwindled as did the wistfulness on his face. I realized quickly the attention I wanted was not what he was going to give.

"Am I to assume that there are more important matters for you to be thinking about, Miss Kensith?" he asked, voice like ice, eye boring into mine sharply.

"Beg pardon?" I asked after a second, realizing that he was speaking to me, and that his tone was not that caress it had been earlier. It was smooth, just like before, but this had an icy stab to it. I would grow accustomed to that tone in the future, although at the time, I was unnerved by it.

"As you can see, the rest of your classmates are taking notes. Obviously you have deemed yourself above them, seeing as you were clearly not writing anything down and gazing ahead of yourself with a somewhat dreamy expression. I doubt that your expression could be invoked merely by me speaking, and so I naturally assumed that your mind was elsewhere, somewhere more important. Care to divulge?" He was mocking me. I could hear it in his voice, but there was also something defensive in his tone, almost like I had somehow offended him.

I blinked several times, taken aback by his behaviour. Although I had been teased by several pupils, I had never had a teacher act like this towards me. Most felt bad for me, to be honest, because I was bullied. "I was paying attention, sir," I promised. I was telling the truth.

He was still staring at my eyes, boring into them. I have no idea why he stared into them so much if every time it seemed to infuriate him. "So am I to gather that you were staring at me with that dreamy expression? Is it possible you were somehow mesmerized, infatuated? You were looking at me that way while I was speaking? You weren't daydreaming about something else? You were, in fact, gazing adoringly at me?"

I remember how quickly my throat seemed to constrict and how my cheeks burned a bright red. To this day, I have no idea if he somehow knew that was actually what I was doing, or if he was simply trying to get me to admit I wasn't paying attention. "I . . . Professor Snape, sir, I was . . ."

"The answer shouldn't be too difficult, Miss Kensith, either you were fantasizing about me, mesmerized by me, staring adoringly at you professor, or you were not paying attention at all and you were assuming that taking notes was above you. Which was it?"

Of course I hadn't been fantasizing about him. I was eleven, and he wasn't much to look at. I was, however, mesmerized by him, and by admitting that, everyone would also assume I was fantasizing, and assume I had a crush on him, which was entirely false. So, I lied. "I wasn't paying attention. I'm sorry," I murmured, expecting that to be the end of the situation once and for all.

Well, I was wrong. It was my first Potions class in my fourth year, and all I could think about was the way he had treated me in every other class I'd ever had with him. Every time I was cutting up my roots perfectly, or stirring, or measuring powders or liquids, I could feel him glaring at me, and more often than not, we managed to get into arguments either in class or detention. I knew that this year would be no different.

I was busy stirring my concoction, staring at my small piece of parchment beside my cauldron. I had bewitched my quill to mark a line on the cauldron so that every time my ladle passed that line, my quill would put a tally mark on the piece of parchment that my quill was poised on. Sometimes, especially when we had to stir our potion a large number of times, I would lose track by counting in my head or under my breath, and I wanted to prevent that from happening. It was a simple charm, really, and since I sat in the back (mainly because no one would sit with me, and also because I realized that Snape glared at me much more when I was nearer to him, I had learned to sit in the back before the middle of the first year) nobody noticed it. Not that I cared if they did.

I got great grades. I wasn't the most intelligent person to walk the halls of Hogwarts, far from it, but I was intelligent. Most things came easy to me, and so I didn't bother studying or taking notes, and I always managed to get passing grades. Nothing exemplary, except on reports and tests, but most of my assignments were average. I know I should apply myself more, but I didn't. Why would I if I could get passing grades without trying? So what if I could get full marks if I applied myself more? I did my assignments (sometimes) and did well on tests and reports. However, Potions was one of the things I excelled at astonishingly. I didn't study at all, because I never did, and whilst that hindered my performance in other classes, for some reason, in Potions, it didn't hinder me at all. I just followed the instructions and remembered why certain ingredients did certain things.

Even in Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, which were my next best classes, I didn't do as well as I did here. Those spells were all for practical use, it was like learning how to tie shoes, and so it became a second nature, so that was understandable. Potions were simple because most of it was remembering ingredients and following instructions and knowing what happens what certain roots do when stirred into certain powders. Of course, I guess, one could say that Transfiguration was just the same as Charms and Defence Against the Dark Arts, but that class was actually difficult for me and I only got passing grades barely. I suppose I could study, but that wasn't exactly fun. Divination was simple to pass, only because I lied my ass off through the whole thing, which almost everybody did who passed because even if they did see something relevant, unless it had a bad omen, Trelawney really had no idea how to teach at all. Care of Magical Creatures was nice, only because I liked being outside of the stuffy castle every now and then, but Professor Hagrid wasn't exactly the greatest when it came to teaching and I was pretty sure he didn't like me because I was a Slytherin. So Potions could easily be my favourite class, if not for the overgrown bat of a git who taught it.

After I stirred the potions counter-clockwise thirty times, because I had noticed the thirtieth tally mark, I quickly scribbled 'clockwise' on the parchment and started stirring it in the other direction, watching as my quill made a mark every time my ladle passed the little mark on my cauldron. This needed to be stirred thirty times as well, at a slow pace, and so I waved my wand and made the ladle start stirring by itself quite lazily, then I read the instructions on the board so I could get that ready.

I needed to cut up my roots, which I had already done, and so I looked at the next instruction, which was to let it boil. Then I would be finished and I could put some in the vial and be done. I felt as though something was wrong and so I kept looking up at the board, which was behind Snape's desk, but I couldn't figure out what I was missing or why I thought something was amiss.

Then I realized that Snape wasn't in his desk, nor was he anywhere within my sight. I furrowed my brows in confusion. It wasn't like Snape to just leave class, was it? I stared at his empty desk, frowning, checking down at the tally marks for a second to make sure I wasn't nearing the thirtieth tally, then back up at his empty desk. "Where did he go?" I whispered quietly.

"Ah, Miss Kensith," said Snape behind me, voice cool. I turned in my seat to look at him in surprise--I hadn't heard him moving behind me. Then again, I hadn't seen him at his desk in awhile. Had he been behind me for longer than a few moments? When his eyes flicked to mine I saw that flash of emotion I had finally realized was hate, not uneasiness, or admiration, or fear, or some mixture of all those emotions, but hate. "It appears my absence does not go unnoticed by you for too long."

"How long were you behind me?" I asked, eyes moving between the quill marking tallies and my ladle.

"I see that either you have failed to learn how to count like most people with something they refer to as a brain, or you find that manual labour is so beneath you that you cannot even stir a ladle. I believe you remember me stating, in my very first class, that there would be no foolish wand waving?"

For a second I wondered whether I should point out the fact he ignored my question, but I decided not to. "Oh, I wasn't paying attention that day, remember?" I scowled, turning to glare at him.

He raised a dark eyebrow, black eyes roaming over my face before settling onto my eyes once more. "You and I both know you were paying very close attention that day. Rapt attention. Which, I suggest, you start doing to your ladle. It is on twenty-two and I would hate for you to miss the thirtieth stir."

"You knew I was really paying attention?" I asked, hot anger burning my insides.

His eyes searched my face, from my red hair and across my fair face until they found my green eyes. No one looked at me like Snape did--with intensity. I always wished someone would look at me as Snape did, only without the hatred or whatever emotion it was he glared at me with. When his eyes stared into mine, the emotion in his black eyes welling up, I hated him as much as he hated me. "Of course I knew Miss Kensith." With that, he turned and went back behind his desk, occasionally glancing up and watching random students.

I removed the ladle when it stirred its final time, then I added my cut up roots. I just let it boil after that, glaring at Snape. He knew I had been paying attention that first day and still he had sought out to make fun of me. He continued to make fun of me my first, second, and third years too, and judging by his demeanour towards me thus far, my fourth year would not be any different. So then why? I was a Slytherin, and he was my Head, so why did he treat me like I was something disgusting?

When I was finished with my potion, I bottled it and put the stopper in my vial. I labelled it with my name and the date. As I strode up to his desk, he was watching me carefully, with a small half-smile. I hated him. I hated how he stared at me like that. I hated how he knew I paid attention that first day and he called attention to me, knowing that if I admitted the truth, then it would appear as though I had a crush on him. Why would he do that? And why did he always find ways to irritate me and why did he always stare at me? Was it because of my mother? I knew they didn't like each other, but this was ridiculous.

I tossed my red hair behind my shoulder so that it wasn't swinging in front of my eyes, and he looked as though he had been hit upside the head, because of the dazed look in his eyes. I put the vial down and pursed my lips at him while he blinked and recovered from whatever had dazed him.

"You know, Professor, I don't see why you humiliated me in my first class if you knew I was paying attention. Do you honestly get off on making fun of people?" I asked quietly so that none of the other students would hear.

"You were not writing notes as you should have been," he murmured as he picked up my vial and began examining it. I knew I should walk off, but I didn't.

I put my hands down on his desk and moved my head closer to his. His eyes slid away from the vial and found mine. His face was expressionless and his body froze. When his black eyes swept over my hair, which was hanging down in front of me and flopping onto his desk, I realized how low I was leaning, and that our noses were less than a foot apart.

"You think I don't notice how you look at me, but I do." He was still clutching my vial, but his grip tightened slightly--I could tell by the muscles in his hand--and his eyes narrowed. "You have, ever since you first saw me, ever since my Sorting. This has nothing to do with me not writing my notes, does it? There's something else."

"Go back to your seat," he ordered casually.

"Not until you tell me why you did that if you knew I was paying attention. It has nothing to do with notes. Don't tell me that rubbish."

"Sit," he ordered as though I were some dog.

"And what makes you think I'm going to do what you say?" I snapped angrily, my voice raising. No one else had finished their potion and so I hoped they were paying attention to brewing rather than me at the moment.

"Because I am your professor as well as your Head of House and if you do not, I daresay there will be a detention in your near future."

I glared at him. He was deliberately not answering my question again, just like earlier. I tilted my head. "How long had you been standing behind me?" I demanded. He remained silent. "Answer me!" I growled, my anger with him rising quite suddenly to the point where my hands were clenching into fists.

"You are in no position to give me--"

"I think I deserve to know! It's about me, isn't it? You were standing behind me longer than five minutes, I know that much, so why?"

He stood up suddenly, putting my vial on the table. Him standing so suddenly shocked me, so I stopped leaning on his desk, a little frightened at how quickly he had moved. "Do not interrupt me again, Miss Kensith, and I believe your attitude deserves five points taken from Slytherin. Did you honestly think I would not take points fro--"

"And I know damn well you will give Draco ten points by the end of the day--whenever you take points from me, you always make up for it, so I don't care about that, now tell me!"

"I told you not to interrupt me! Now go and sit down in your seat and stop presuming you know anything about how I regard you or why I give Draco points!" he yelled.

Oh, he was yelling, was he? He always thought he was so intimidating, with his black eyes always glinting and his narrow, tall frame. And the black robes and the greasy hair that fell on either side of his face. Well he didn't intimidate me. It wasn't like he would ever curse me, so what was I to be afraid of? It had taken me a whole term to finally get enough guts to talk back to him, and he should know that I wasn't going to stop, especially now.

His eyes swept the classroom and I glanced over my shoulder. The class was staring at us, somewhat awkwardly. Although we did argue often, the class always stared. It was always embarrassing to me when the realization hit me. It wasn't that I meant to start yelling and start a scene--although some probably think I do it for attention--but I would just get so angry with how he treated me although I always did my work in his class and tried my hardest for him to, at least once, give me a nod of approval. I didn't want him to hate me, obviously. So it angered me and I wanted to make him feel as worthless and hated as he made me feel, although obviously it never worked.

"And I asked you a question and I won't leave until you answer it!"

He snarled at me and gave me a look-over, as if I were unimportant. "Whilst perseverance is a trait that is useful, it is, at times, most annoying, especially when it is pointless to persevere. I have told you the answer, perhaps if you had been paying rapt attention, or dare I even suggest, writing notes, then you might be able to remember, but since you were not, I feel I have no need to repeat myself, and you will do as I say and sit down in your seat."

He was lying. He had to be. There was no reason for him to do that if he had known I'd been paying attention that first day. This was proof--solid proof--that I had been right all these years, and he really did hate me some reason, and I was going to get to the bottom of it. "You and I both know that is a lie. Admit it, you have something against me, and you just can't admit the fact you're a heartless bastard! You have no reason to hate me and you just like to make up reasons for it, but now you've admitted that I was paying attention that day, so you've admitted to there being no reason to hate me! Admit it! Tell everyone that are such a git that you take it out on people for no reason!"

"You are shouting out utter nonsense! You are just like your mother, aren't you?" The rage that was flowing through my veins seemed to gather in the pit of my stomach. Nobody compared me to my mother and got away with it. Since he was taller than I was, he was staring down at me. "Desperate for attention, just as she was, constantly begging for everyone to stop and stare at her! Constantly concerned with what others thought of her, following her precious idols, in love with the Dream Team Marauders, but was she ever accepted? Of course not! Now sit down, you insolent dunderhead!"

"Let's bring up your school years, huh? Tell stories about my mother, eh? You think I don't know any stories about you, Snivellus?"

In a flash he had stormed around his desk, heading right towards me, and my heart flew up into my throat. Him coming at me that quickly was somewhat intimidating, and when his hand flew towards my body I thought he was going to smack me so I stumbled back slightly and leaned my head back further so as to dodge the smack, but he grabbed my arm tightly. "You will respect me while in this classroom, while in my presence, do you understand me?"

"Let go of me," I ordered, trying to pull my arm out of his grasp. He had never grabbed me before. Then again, we usually argued with him behind his desk and me in the back of the room with more than enough space between us. Or I was sitting down and he was leaning above me. And I had never called him Snivellus before.

"We are discussing this out in the hall," he growled at me and started dragging me to the door, me fighting to pull free from him but I was practically tripping over my feet from him pulling me so roughly. "Nobody leaves this classroom, understood?" he snapped and the class nodded fearfully, looking into their potions.

"Dammit, let me go! You're bruising my arm! Let me go you son of a bitch! Dumbledore will hear about this! This is physical abuse!" I screamed at him, yanking my arm towards me as hard as I could. I was trying to think of anything that would make him let me go. " Stop it! Stop it! You're hurting me! Let me go, dammit!"

"You need to learn how to respect your elders, Miss Kensith, now quit acting like a three-year-old and perhaps I would," he said rather calmly as we neared the door, though I was struggling.

"Don't tell me what to do; you're not my mother!"

"Obviously, because if I were, I would have taught you respect by now," he retorted.

"What do you know about mothers? Apparently yours either didn't love you or did a horrible job of raising you, you bastard!" It wasn't until a moment after I finished my sentence that I realized he had stopped. I don't remember when he stopped moving toward the door, but he must have, because he was standing very still, his grip on my arm so tight my hand was starting to go numb.

He suddenly moved again, this time with more force, and so I tripped over my feet until he dragged me out of the classroom and slammed the door shut. I tried to run off down the hallway in the opposite direction than he was facing, but he whirled me around with such force I practically stumbled right in front of him, so that I was staring into his black eyes, and his clenched teeth, and my heart was thudding in my chest so hard I thought it was going to break through my ribs.

"You insolent bitch," he growled. He pulled me so close to him that I could feel his hot breath on my skin. I had never heard him call anyone a bitch and it sounded so foreign in his mouth. "I bet you think your mother is so amusing, don't you? Palling around with Black and Potter and Lupin and their sycophant friend Pettigrew, begging for their approval. I suppose she tells you they loved her and that she made the name Snivellus. You admire her, don't you?"

"I do not," I spat.

"Then why would you say that name?"

"She told me they called you that. I wanted to infuriate you," I admitted, glaring at him.

"You succeeded quite well."

"I am nothing like my mother," I told him.

"Perhaps not in looks, but in attitude . . ."

"I am not like her! But do you expect me to just sit back and let you taunt me? I'm sorry, but I refuse to be a coward!" He opened his mouth to speak, but I kept talking to prevent that. "I'm sick of you treating me like this; it's bullocks! And what's up with you, standing behind me? How long were you there? If you would've just answered my bloody question then this wouldn't have--"

"This is not my fault, Miss Kensith, had you not called me that endearing nickname, then perhaps this could have been settled in a much more pleasant way, and also, don't you ever speak about my mother in that way again, do you understand me?" he sneered at me, giving me a little shake as he held my arm, his face mere inches from mine. His teeth were clenched together and his black eyes gleamed. He really was quite frightening.

I narrowed my eyes at him. "You're going to let go of me, Professor," I growled at him, eyes narrowed. I couldn't really of a retort so I just decided to say that.

He looked at his hand, which was gripped onto my arm, and he practically tossed me away from him. I almost fell over backward, but I managed to stay upright.

"You will be serving detention with me, tonight, at eight. You will be there."

We glared at each other for several seconds, then he yanked open the classroom door and jerked his head towards the doorframe to indicate for me to walk in. For a second there was urgent whispers and talking, but then the class shut up a second after he opened the door. I walked in, making sure to give him a dirty look as I walked past.

I sat in my desk and folded my arms, glaring at him as he walked behind his desk. For the rest of class, we glared at each other, hatred burning fiercely between us.

Chapter Two: How To Make A Detention Even Less Fun

It was amazing how quickly the day went by. Apparently me dreading detention at eight made that horrid hour come sooner than it should've. Before long, I found myself leaving the Slytherin common and walking through the dungeons to his office.

When I stood in front of his door, I knocked on it, hoping to God he wasn't in there and I wouldn't have to go through this. "Enter." Dammit.

I opened the door and stepped into his office, eyeing all the jars of pickled stuff lining his walls. I'd been in his office before, mostly to get yelled at or for detention. Still, looking at pickled things in the jars on his walls fascinated me. I stared at it, knowing I looked interested, but I couldn't help it. When I was in front of his desk, I finally looked at him. He was giving me a curious look, but I didn't particularly care.

"You will be helping me correct reports, Miss Kensith. It should not take long. Suffice to say, I don't want too much of my evening spent with you."

"Well that's something we have in common," I muttered as I sat down across from him.

He regarded me for awhile, eyes going over every feature of my face. I stared into his eyes, seeing that emotion again, the one I had figured out was hatred. For much longer than what was needed, we kept staring at each other, and I noticed that the emotion that I assumed was hatred seemed different.

"Why do you hate me?" I asked suddenly. The question fell out of my mouth before I even realized it had entered my brain.

His eyebrows raised suddenly, shocked. He looked away from me and focused down on a piece of parchment. He slid that parchment across the table. "This is something I wrote for you. I have written everything that should be addressed in the report, how many points to deduce from one hundred if it is not addressed as I have written, and I have also written the answers to the questions, appropriate responses, and if these deviate, then deduce the amount I have mentioned. It does not have to be word-for-word, however--I despise book verbatim. If someone writes something about ingredients being better when using it a certain way, or they had ideas, return the report to me so I can test these theories out."

I stared at his hand, which was on the parchment, and I went to grab it from him. My hand covered his. I didn't really notice it for a second, but then it felt like electricity shot up my arm. My hand froze and my heart in my chest forgot to beat a few times. At first I thought it only happened to me, but when I glanced up at him nervously, my arm tingling and my lungs suddenly weak, almost so I couldn't breathe, his face had paled and the muscles in his jaw tightened for a second. Then I pulled the parchment to me and found I couldn't look him in the eye afterwards.

I finally looked at him, expecting him to be writing on reports, but he was still looking at me. I blinked a few times, then I pretended like nothing odd had happened. "You have a habit of ignoring my questions, Professor."

"I don't hate you," he said calmly.

I frowned. "But, you're always mean to me, and you're always staring at me, and the expression in your eyes . . ."

"I don't hate you," he repeated, one brow raised.

I blinked a few times, trying to think of something to say, but I couldn't. If he didn't hate me, then what was that expression in his eyes?

"It is time for us to start on your detention."

I read over the reports and started correcting them, constantly rereading his piece of parchment hastily. It was no wonder he would get irritated so often in class--most of the students didn't know what they were writing about. Some tried to make an honest effort and others tried to make it up and try and make it sound realistic. The parchment was categorized into different classes, and I noticed that the Ravenclaws (didn't matter which year) seemed to be doing the best. When I got to the third year Slytherin and Gryffindor class, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were really the only ones who did very well. Harry Potter did all right, but it was four inches shorter than the required length. So it was understandable why he was always irritated, especially with Potter.

It didn't take as long as I thought it would've taken, but I finally finished marking points and writing the correct answers and suggestions in red ink. Perhaps time had flown because I had been thinking deeply about what he had said, and about how he didn't hate me. That confused me even more, and it actually angered me as well, knowing that he didn't hate me and he still treated me that way.

I put my quill down but I remained sitting, mainly because I learned a long time ago not to leave a detention unless he told me to. He had finished a few minutes before me and he was sitting quietly. "I'm done Professor," I told him.

"I noticed. You finished sooner than I thought you would. However, I would like your assistance in something . . . I have a few cauldrons in my class that need cleaning. I was going to do it tomorrow night, however, considering that you have finished earlier than I expected, perhaps you could clean the cauldrons with me?"

The fact that he was asking, not telling, confused me. After a few moments of me staring at him, and him staring back, I cleared my throat. "Are you . . . Are you asking or telling?"

"Asking."

I nodded. "Yes."

We walked to his classroom quietly, not looking at each other. For some reason, I felt strange. The walk to the classroom took no time at all, and when he shut the door behind us, I felt like the air around me thickened. It was chillier than it normally was, even for the dungeons.

We both started cleaning the cauldrons. Snape wasn't using his wand, and so I decided to do it without my wand as well. We sat in silence, both of us on our knees, scrubbing the insides of the cauldrons. I had rolled my sleeves to my robes up, but I noticed he kept his sleeves down. The fact neither of us spoke should have been a comfort, but instead it weighed on me heavily. The noises of the scrubbing seemed to intensify with each second. I had to keep blowing my long, red hair out of my face so as to keep the cleaning potions away from my hair. I noticed that he kept staring at me, but whenever I made to look at him he looked away.

The silence was bugging me to the point I was starting to get antsy. "So, he hired Lupin? How do you think that'll go?" I asked randomly, mainly because my mother had told me the two of them hadn't gotten along.

I noticed he jumped slightly. "I don't suppose it will go very well, especially since Sirius Black is on the loose."

"My mum had a crush on Sirius. She talked about him a lot. She still talks about memories of him. I can't believe she followed him around for seven years."

"I suppose your mother makes it sound as though he followed her. She is quite a liar. Did you know that she hid her parentage her entire Hogwarts career? I didn't even know until the end of my seventh year."

"Of course I figured that out. She has the Dark Mark branded on her arm. I don't think You-Know-Who lets muggle-borns get Dark Marks. She lies a lot. I've lived with her my whole life. I can tell when she's lying." I rolled my eyes as I scrubbed harder. "She thinks Sirius Black a bloody hero, him betraying the Potters. She always goes on and on about her Death Eater days, like I should be proud or something. I hate her. She killed my dad, you know, to prove that she loved You-Know-Who above everything else, even her muggle husband."

"Does she ever talk about me?" he asked warily.

"She thought you liked her. She told me you followed her around."

"No, I did not. I despised her. She was constantly lying. She followed those damn Marauders around, especially Sirius, and they did not even like her. They despised her. She followed me around to taunt me, only to get in their good graces. She was also jealous of anyone any of the Marauders liked, and so she made life a misery for--" He stopped talking suddenly, almost like he had caught himself just in time from saying a bad word or something. He blinked a few times. "For other people whose company I enjoyed."

I frowned. Why didn't he say that person's name? "You . . . were friends with someone the Marauders were friends with? Huh."

"I did have friends, Miss Kensith. Well . . . I had one friend, for awhile . . ."

I shrugged. "She never told me. All she ever did was tell me all of the fun things she did to you, and how you were the one who ruined her friendship with the marauders, and that it was you who ruined her life, and how much she hates you."

"I did not ruin her life. She started hexing me, and I retaliated, and ended up cutting her sleeve and showing her Dark Mark to Black, who was, of course, backing her up. They never went one-on-one with me." I did notice how he sounded a bit like he was defending himself.

"I don't care if you did. I hate her. She's a lying bitch and a Death Eater and I hate Death Eaters and she was really mean to you. You didn't deserve that. No one does. And I'm sorry Lupin is teaching here."

He stared at me for a long while, his eyes never leaving my face. I started to get uncomfortable with how he was staring at me and so I continued scrubbing my cauldron. "You seem awfully concerned with how I was treated."

"So?"

"I was under the impression you hated me."

I shrugged and I looked at him. "I don't hate you." He went back to cleaning his cauldron, a small tug on the side of his mouth. "You're always mean to me, and I . . . I did get my temper from my mother. You always stare at me with this . . . look in your eyes . . . And if you knew I was paying attention that day, I just don't see why you're always so mean to me, and I'm a Slytherin too, and I don't know why you were behind me for so long."

He nodded slowly, his head bowed so that his hair obscured my vision of his eyes. After a few seconds of silence, he let out a sigh. "This year will be . . . interesting, with Lupin teaching here, teaching the position I wanted, with his best friend on the loose." Once again, he avoided what I really wanted to know.

I couldn't really think of anything to say, so I just nodded. After a few minutes, he stood up off of the ground. "Will you assist me in placing these back on the shelf?"

I nodded and stood up. We quietly started putting the cauldrons back on the shelf, although I did notice how he kept sneaking glances at me. I wouldn't necessarily call them amorous glances, it wasn't like he was staring at me like how most would stare at a crush, but in a different way. Almost like he was staring at an emotional picture. I picked up a heavier-than-I-expected-it-to-be cauldron and stumbled under its weight. He rushed to help me put it up, and we both stumbled trying to gain control of it. I realized too late the reason why it was heavy was because it was full of potion still, and it slipped out of our grasp and hit the floor, splashing potion all over our robes.

"Bloody hell!" I yelled and started using my hands to wipe it off of me in a panicky way. He grabbed my forearms to stop me from doing that and to stop me from jumping around.

"Miss Kensith, the potion is completely harmless--the brewer added too much of one ingredient and rendered it useless. Calm down." I stood straight and looked into his eyes. We were extremely close. Just as close as we had been earlier that day, when he held my arm and yelled at me. For some reason, this time I really noticed it, and the temperature seemed to rise considerably. His eyes roamed my face, then he let go of me and stepped back so quickly it was almost like he'd been shocked by some form of electricity.

I pulled out my wand. "I sorry, I didn't mean to. I'll clean it up." I felt really stupid. I knew I was blushing. I was an idiot sometimes.

"I thought you had all of your cauldrons cleaned. You should have checked."

"Well, excuse me, Professor, next time I won't help clean at all. I'm not your mother."

He narrowed his eyes at me. "I'll clean this up. After all, you're not my mother." He whipped out his own wand and raised both of his eyebrows mockingly. "Also, I'm not quite sure of your abilities, and you might not be capable of something of this difficulty if you cannot even manage to check a cauldron."

"I'm perfectly capable!" I snapped and pointed my wand at him, standing up straighter and pursing my lips. I knew I looked haughty.

He grabbed my right hand with his left and pointed it away from him, stepping so close I could feel his body heat. His grip on my wrist was gentle, but strong enough so that I couldn't easily pull it away. I could almost see the reflection of my green irises in his black ones and my heart skipped a beat.

He seemed to realize how close we were and his eyes looked away from mine and he shifted a little uncomfortably. "What do you prefer, Miss Kensith?"

"I would prefer if you let me do the cleaning spell," I said, although I wasn't sure if it was because I wanted to or just because he didn't want me to. Then I smirked at him. "That is, if you think I can manage it."

"I suppose you should be able to. You're a witch."

"Well, that's not a very nice thing to say about someone," I stated, being sarcastic, although for some reason, probably because he was so close, it came out a little different than I had expected it to. It sounded a little meaner, too.

His eyes widened and his mouth opened slightly, almost like he had just been hit upside the head. He stared at me with the oddest expression--it was sad and confused at the same time. He was staring at me with that expression again, and I realized what it was--a mixture of adoration and sadness and wanting. For some reason I think I preferred it when I thought it was hatred, because that frightened me. Why was he staring at me like a long-lost lover?

"Professor?" I whispered.

He blinked and shook his head so slightly I almost didn't catch it. "Well perhaps I think differently. I'm not quite sure I'm comfortable with you pointing your wand at me."

I reached up to tug his hand away from my wrist and he moved his hand further away, so that I actually tugged down his left sleeve. For a whole moment I didn't know why he gasped and jerked away from me. Then I recognized the black tattoo on his left forearm and as my wand dropped to the floor, my stomach dropped too. The clattering of my wand seemed to go unnoticed by him and I barely acknowledged it.

"Miss Kensith--"

"I have to go," I muttered and hurried out of his classroom and went quickly to the common room for a quick shower before bed. Thank God the Slytherin common room was nearby, because for some reason it didn't feel like my legs could handle more distance than that.

I felt like a complete idiot. I didn't realize until about one in the morning that I had left my wand in Snape's classroom. I never slept until late anyway, so it wasn't the first time I had snuck out past curfew. I usually stayed near the dungeons or other dark areas of the school. The teachers did patrol that area, but it was easier to hide in case I heard something. It scared the hell out of me--I'm scared of the dark--so I would use wand light, although that would make it easier for them to see me. Well, I would, if I had my wand.

I looked around myself as I neared the Potions classroom. No one was around, so I went to open the door. The door stayed shut. "Oh, bloody hell," I grumbled quietly as I tried to open it again, although it was stupid since I already knew it was locked. I tried it once more, then groaned. Normally I would've used my wand to unlock it, but since my wand was actually in the classroom, then I couldn't.

All night I had been thinking of how the Dark Mark looked on his pale skin. So, Snape was a Death Eater? Or at least, he had been . . . But did people really stop being Death Eaters? Could they actually stop? Or was he still a Death Eater, even if you-Know-Who was gone? Had my mother known? But in order to get my wand, I would have to ask him to open the door. Either that, or I could just wait until morning and get it then. But then I would have to take time away from one of my classes or breakfast or one of his classes and I doubt he would want that.

Groping through the darkness, hoping I didn't bump into someone, I found my way to his office. I didn't have to grope for much longer, since the door was open. I heard an odd sound coming from the room. It sounded a bit like a struggle, like perhaps he was getting in a fight. When I heard him yell, I suddenly panicked and I bolted to the door, reaching into my robes for the wand that wasn't there.

I ran into Snape's office with my fists ready and saw Snape yelling at the ceiling and knocking everything off of his desk. I watched quietly as Snape started kicking his desk and yelling and screaming. His office was trashed. Parchment littered the floor and so did quills and books. I had never heard Snape yell before. Well, I had, but not like that. And I never really imagined him losing control like that, either. It was strange. I had no idea what to think.

He leaned over and put his hands on the edge of his desk and took in several deep breaths, and I heard the shakiness, which proved that he was trying not to cry. Then he turned around, I assume to pick up his mess, but then he saw me. He didn't say anything, but I could tell he was angry and embarrassed.

"I heard . . . uh, noises. I thought you were being attacked, so . . . I mean, I left my wand in your class and I needed you to get it out, so I came here, and that's when I heard the noises. What happened?"

"It doesn't matter. It's nothing important." I would have believed him, had I not seen his little tantrum.

"Uh, not to sound like a know-it-all, but you just screamed and trashed your room. You don't seem like a guy who does that often." I raised my eyebrow at him.

He shook his head and pulled out his wand, turning a little to his left so he was at an angle he didn't have to look at me. He waved his wand and things realigned back to how they should have been, almost like he hadn't done a thing to his room at all. After everything was back to normal, he still refrained from looking at me, though I could see his profile. "It doesn't concern you," he finally said, in a quiet voice.

"But it concerns you."

He turned his head towards me, then his turned his body to face me. The dim lights of his office glinted off of his greasy hair and cast shadows on his thin, sallow face. I hadn't noticed it until now, but his office was actually quite dark. Light barely filled it enough, just enough to be able to read and see. He nodded once, almost like he was accepting something unpleasant. "Yes," he murmured. I barely heard him.

I walked fully into his office, very slowly. My eyes remained on his. They were shining slightly. I was afraid of him, my heart was still pounding in my ribs, because I knew he had the Dark Mark on his arm, and I knew damn well what the Mark meant. But, seeing him like that somehow made me feel like I should comfort him, even though he had never shown me decency. Besides, what would he think of me, now that he saw me, if I just shrugged it off and walked away? He was my Head of House.

"Do you . . . want to talk about it?" I asked, when I was nearly right in front of him.

"Will you listen, if I so choose?"

"Yes." He tilted his head slightly, apparently unsure. "Is it about Lupin?"

He shook his head. "This day . . . has been unpleasant."

"Because of me? Is it because I saw your--" I cut off. He looked at me, waiting for me to finish. I don't know why I couldn't finish the sentence, because he knew what I was talking about, but I couldn't say what was on his arm. "Your tattoo?" I finished after a second's awkward pause.

"Partly. I was also just informed I have to perform a . . . certain service for Lupin, which I would rather choose not to. And . . . I just received a letter from my father." He indicated lined paper on his desk. Muggle paper. Written in pencil. "He is a muggle," he explained when he saw my expression. I nodded at him. "My mother . . . she has . . ." He clenched his teeth together, then turned away from me, so that I could only see his back. His breathing was suddenly heavy. I could tell because of the rising and falling rhythm of his back. "She was very ill, but I had not thought . . ." His voice was thick and the words were spoken too evenly, too carefully. He was trying to hold back tears. "My father just informed me of her passing."

My heart stopped for a second and my throat dried. Snape's mother just died? On the same day I had insulted her? Even though this couldn't possibly have been my fault, I felt guilty, as though it somehow was. I reached forward and put my hand on his back, to comfort him.

He flinched, as though burned. I jerked my hand away. My hand stayed in midair though, and I slowly brought it forward and touched his back again. As soon as my hand touched him again, he spun around and grabbed my wrist. He stared down at me, almost angrily, and I gasped and jumped. "Why are you doing this?" he demanded quietly.

"D-Doing what?" I stammered, body starting to shake. What the hell was this attitude about?

"Why are you . . . In here, talking to me . . . Comforting me? What is in it for you?"

I shook my head. "N-Nothing, sir. I just . . . I just thought you looked sad and I . . . I-I wanted to help, I guess . . . I'm not, uh, there's not anything in it for me."

His unwavering glare was really freaking me out. He was angry with me, but at the same time, for some reason, I got the feeling that he felt guilty. "You are a Slytherin, and we do not get along. Why are you comforting me?"

"I . . . Professor, I just, I left my wand in your class, and I . . . You seemed so upset, and what would you think of me if I just walked off? I'm sorry, I won't . . . if you didn't want to talk about it . . . And yeah, I'm a Slytherin, and I do . . . manipulate and . . . But I'm not now, not to you. I really was just concerned. I thought . . . I thought it was because of me, because of your . . . the tattoo."

He released my wrist. "You are actually concerned for me, then. It surprises me, as it did earlier today. But, I should not allow you to . . . do this for me. You are a student, and I am your professor, and I should keep our relationship as such. It was wrong of me to let you in to comfort me."

"Why?"

"For the same reason I look at you, Miss Kensith, the same reason I have the expression you pointed out to me earlier," he murmured.

So he was admitting it then. It shocked me that he was admitting it. I had even wondered if he knew he was doing it. I blinked. "What reason is that, sir?"

Her narrowed is black eyes and I recognized that expression immediately. It always came right before he started insulting me. "Never mind," I added quickly.

He continued staring at me.

"Professor," I started cautiously, reminding myself that before today, I would never have put that much politeness in my tone in regards to him, and that I generally disliked him, "I am a fourth year, I am fourteen, and I know--I know--that you would never take advantage of me, and you should not feel bad for wanting me to comfort you, and there's nothing wrong with being comforted by anyone, and even if the headmaster, or even the minister himself, walked in on me hugging you right now, I'm sure it wouldn't matter, since your Mum just died."

It was like the word 'died' had physically hit him. He reeled slightly and water sprung up in his black eyes. He fell to the floor, well, more like sat suddenly, a dazed expression on his face. I sat beside him. Before I even registered what was happening, he put his hands in his face and cried into his palms.

I had no idea what to do. Snape was crying--literally crying--into his hands, and I was sitting next to him, and I had no idea how to handle this situation. A few minutes into this, I figured I might as well do what came to me first, and I patted him on the shoulder before putting my arm around him, leading his head to be on my shoulder, and put my other hand on his knee. For some reason, the way he was acting reminded me very much of when I was a child and I had been teased by a schoolmate, and I had been crying in the living room and how I wished my mother would have comforted me, but how she ignored me entirely.

After a long while of this, he pulled his head away, finally done crying, and he leaned the back of his head against the bottom of his desk, and I pulled my arm away from around his shoulders. He stared at the ceiling for awhile. "I had no friends growing up," he told me without preamble.

"Oh, I'm . . . I'm sorry . . ." Though his face was raised to look at the ceiling, I saw his dark eyes flit to me for a second. "I didn't have friends either. Not until . . . well, I wouldn't necessarily say I have friends now, either. So I really do feel sorry." I knew I sounded defensive, and like I was justifying my sentence to him.

"I am surprised at that. You seem to be the type of girl who would have many friends."

"Well, my neighbourhood wasn't full of witches, and I wasn't allowed to leave the house except to go to primary school, so people thought we were freaks. People at school thought I was a freak, too. And here, well, no one likes Slytherin, and when your own Head of House seems to hate you, people of your own house avoid you like the plague." I didn't try to hide my annoyance, but I probably should have.

If he was upset at my annoyed tone, he didn't show it. "I had no friends, until I was ten. Before that, my only source of comfort was my mother, even when Father was in one of his . . . moods." The tone he used on moods let me know that his father was an unpleasant man, and coming from Snape, it must've been pretty bad.

"Oh. So . . . You two were close, then? Your mother and you."

He barely nodded.

"Do you . . . Do you want to contact your friend? You know, the one you met when you were ten?"

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say.

He banged the back of his head against the desk and let out the worst noise I had ever heard--it was a mixture between a sob and a yell. Snape had been crying into his hands about his mother, but now he was practically sobbing hysterically, sounding like some wounded animal. He only sobbed that once, but it was a sound I knew would haunt me whenever I thought about it.

"I'm sorry, if you'd rather not, that's okay, I was just thinking--" I rambled.

"She is also dead, and if she were not, it would not matter, because she . . . we were no longer friends after my fifth year." His eyes were closed tight and his lips were pursed as well. I was getting rather uncomfortable, sitting beside him on the hard floor, not knowing what his emotional outbursts would bring. His mood changed quickly today. It was odd. "The friends, I use the term loosely, I had after that were . . . unpleasant. Mother was the only one after our . . . separation who showed concern for me. At least I can say that Mother's death was not my fault."

"What do you mean? Of course death is never your--" When his right hand grabbed his left forearm, it all made sense to me. "Oh." So his friend died because of him. I really wished I hadn't pieced it together, because now I felt sick.

He removed his hand. "You are too intelligent for your own good, Miss Kensith. I wish you were not." His voice was hoarse, which was odd, since he usually had a smooth voice. "I would appreciate it if you never spoke of her again, and I would also appreciate it if you never mention that it was I who killed her. Perhaps not directly . . ."

I nodded. I couldn't talk.

"This is precisely why I did not want you here," he snapped and stood up wearily, wiping underneath his eyes, although he didn't seem to be embarrassed at all. "I believe it is time we get your wand, and you should be off to bed. You will speak of this to no one, understand? You will speak of nothing that happened tonight. The Dark Mark remains a secret, as does any mention of the friend I once had, and what happened to her, do you understand? You will not speak of this."

Even though I felt like he needed to have the crap beat out of him for killing his friend and for having the tattoo, I nodded. I guess I was a little afraid of him after all. Earlier today I thought I couldn't like him less than I already did. I was wrong. Now I hated him. I felt bad about his mum dying, but I had nothing but utter disgust for him. He stared me in the eyes as I seethed at him. How could anyone kill the only true friend that person had?

"You do not hide your disgust very well, Miss Kensith."

I looked away from him. "Yeah, well, other than your mother dying, I don't feel bad for you at all. It takes a certain type person to do what you've done, and I don't mean it in a good way. The same type as it takes to kill a husband. The same type as my mother."

He nodded. "And I have never pretended to be a saint, nor do I deny that I am someone unworthy to live. Now, we will get your wand and then we shall never speak of this again. However, you were rather kind to me tonight, and I will not forget it." I felt an odd feeling in my chest. "That being said, five points will be taken from Slytherin for your late wandering."

Asshole.

Chapter Three: To Trust or Not to Trust, That is the Question

The next time I had Potions, I had no idea if our relationship had changed. Would we be civil now, because I had seen him that way? Or would he become surlier? I had a suspicion he would become ruder. Not that I cared, because I loathed the very core of his murderous, Death Eater being.

I showed up early to Potions, so I was waiting outside of the door while I listened to him point out Neville Longbottom's mistakes in his potion. I tried to remember if I had corrected his report or not, but nothing came up in my mind, so I had either forgotten or Snape had corrected it.

I waited for awhile, listening through the closed door. It wasn't very long before class ended and, as usual, students filed out rather quickly. I walked into the classroom and found that one student was still in there, although he was obviously trying to hurry up. It looked like someone had knocked over his schoolbags and he was trying to put them away.

When he turned around, I realized it was Harry Potter. I had never seen him close up before. I had only seen him from afar, or on a broomstick. I wish I could say that I wasn't impressed, or that I didn't have the need to go up and talk to him and shake his hand. Truth was, though, I really did. This boy had managed to get rid of You-Know-Who when he was just a baby. Obviously it wasn't him alone and something had to have stepped in--luck or fate or whatever--but it was still amazing and cool. My mother hated him, obviously, but I respected him. But I figured he didn't' want another person doting over him, so I restrained myself and just smiled at him and nodded while he walked past me.

He glanced at me as he passed, then did a double-take. I smiled again at him, although I did it warily. I noticed he had vividly green eyes that looked very similar to mine. Huh. I'd never known his eye colour before. He had rather messed up hair, though, but ti was black, like Snape's. For some reason it felt wrong to compare Snape and Harry.

"Did you need something, Harry?" I asked, more than willing to help him with anything.

He shook his head. "No, nothing . . . sorry, you just looked . . . familiar. Never mind." He then hurried out of the classroom, glancing back at me once.

I noticed Snape was staring at me evilly, with his lips pursed, and he glared at Harry's retreating back. I had no idea what that was about, but it was unpleasant. "Er . . . Good afternoon, Professor."

He blinked once. "Are you going to sit or shall I teach you standing, Miss Kensith?"

I scoffed and sat down in my seat. By the looks of it, nothing had changed. Not that I wanted it to. "How's your dad?" I asked, mainly because I felt the need to talk.

"I couldn't really care less about my father. Nor should you. He isn't someone I would consider deserving of our concern." He was not looking at me, but at the many reports and vials on his desk. "He deemed it not deserving of his time to show up to Mother's funeral," he informed me in a dark tone.

I frowned. "He didn't?"

"He never forgave my mother for being a witch," he told me as he lifted up several phials of potions turned into him and started over to where I assume he put them to be later graded.

"Your father doesn't like magic?"

"He doesn't like much of anything, really," he snarled.

I was about to say something comforting, but before I could really even open my mouth, I heard him drop some of the phials with the sounds of shattering glass.

Before I could ask what had happened, a few students filed in. He glared at me as though I had insulted him, and then proceeded to teach class. He didn't even look at me once that entire day.

Our relationship, for lack of a better term, did not change at all. We still argued in class, and he still looked at me with that odd expression on his face. As the days grew colder, so did his attitude. Not that I cared any, really. In fact, if I saw him in the halls, I would give him dirty looks. He responded with even dirtier ones. He even seemed to give me more detentions. Not with him, obviously, usually with McGonagall or Hagrid, or someone he was angry with. Well, I had a detention with him once, but we stayed on opposite sides of the room, and I didn't even look at him once.

I couldn't get the fact that he killed his friend out of my mind. Every time I looked at him, I just imagined him pointing his wand at some random person, usually male, and shouting the killing curse. I wondered how many people missed that friend. I wondered why he had done it. Then I wondered how many people he had killed and tortured, or if he felt guilty at all. Perhaps he was like my mother and the only reason he wasn't a Death Eater was because You-Know-Who was no longer around.

Maybe the reason he didn't like Harry Potter was because he had been the one to get rid of his master.

I knew how James had treated him because my mother had told me, so I didn't doubt a lot of that hate came from that, but the thought that perhaps Harry surviving had also fuelled that hate wouldn't leave my mind. I respected Harry, I thought he was extremely lucky, and yeah people favoured him and he got away with a lot, but he seemed like a good kid. He seemed very down-to-earth. Most people would become arrogant and conceited if they lived their whole lives being as famous as he was, but he seemed like he didn't even care. How could I hate that? You-Know-Who was gone because of him and Snape hated him. After seeing the Dark Mark, I had to wonder. My mother hated Harry Potter because of it, so who was to say Snape was any different?

I didn't know why I felt so betrayed, because it wasn't like I ever really trusted Snape. In fact, I had always disliked him, and I had always hated how he treated me. Of course I wanted to like him in the same way I wanted him to like me back, or to notice how good I was in his class. Who didn't want that from their Head of House?

Why did my mother tease him and hate him, if they were practically the same?

It was the first Quidditch match of the year, and Hufflepuff was against Gryffindor. Normally it would've been Slytherin against Gryffindor, but Draco's arm was hurt too badly to play apparently. He hurt it during Care of Magical Creatures, which wasn't that surprising, really, since Hagrid didn't have the same sense of safety as most people.

The rain was pounding down so hard I couldn't even see the Quidditch match. I was shivering and my body was so cold it felt like a knife sliced my skin each time a drop hit me. My robes were heavy with water and my teeth were chattering heavily. This really was too much trouble to sit and watch, considering I didn't really like sports. The cold wind added to the torment.

"Sod this," I grumbled, then turned away.

I pushed my was through the stands, ignoring the insults as I brushed by. Apparently people didn't think I should leave in the middle of a match. Either that, or they didn't like being interrupted by me bumping into them while I was trying to leave. But I was just too damn wet and cold to stay and watch something that I couldn't even really see.

I was heading towards the school when the air around me seemed to get even colder. A different type of cold--almost like it was from the inside. A deep depression swarmed over me as I thought about Snape and how he killed his friend, and how my mother killed my father. I was only two when it happened, so I couldn't really remember much of my dad, or how it had happened, all I remember was the green light that seemed to fill my vision and my father falling to the ground.

My body was shaking and my eyes were staring to burn with tears while the sadness deepened and filled my chest almost to the point it felt like my chest was going to burst. My vision began to blur, but I saw what was making me so miserable--Dementors. I don't know how many, more than I could count, but the rain prevented me from getting a clear view. I was starting to get dizzy and my body was getting weak.

"Sandra, what the hell are you doing?" I heard a man ask frantically. I knew it was my father, although I could not really remember what he sounded like. My mother was named Sandra.

"I have love for one man. Avada Kedavra!"

I fell to my knees although I tried to run in the opposite direction. They loomed closer, sucking all feeling except depression right out of me. My vision blurred further as the freezing rain seemed to strengthen and get colder.

Tears fell down my face as I toppled over on my back, my father's yell filling my ears. Other screams filled my ears too, as dementor after dementor glided over me, drawing in sucking, rasping breaths, which seemed to be louder than the rain.

I heard someone yell, "Expecto Patronum!" After that, a silvery white doe entered my vision, and then everything went black.

I felt warm hands on my face, brushing my soaking hair away from my eyes. The warm palms moved down both of my cheeks as they held my head. I kept my eyes closed, although I was awake. I don't know why. I guess I liked the feeling of warm flesh against my damp, cold face. "Miss Kensith?" I heard Snape whisper.

My heart leapt into my throat. Why was Snape touching my face? Just as I was about to tell him to back off, he ran his fingers through my wet hair, then brushed his knuckles down my face. I realized I was lying on something soft, and even though I was cold, I was very comfortable. Even though I knew what Snape had done and I hated him for it, for some reason I didn't mind him touching my face.

When his knuckles went along my jaw line and down the side of my throat, warmth swelled in the pit of my stomach and the heat spread along my skin. My lungs seemed be working harder on their own volition and I tried to keep myself from hyperventilating. Both of his hands went underneath my head, his wrists brushing the back of my neck. He pulled me up into his chest and hugged me tightly, wrapping his arms around me. He didn't seem to mind that I was still wet and cold.

I felt his warm cheek against mine and my eyes opened. I kept my arms limp, unsure of what I should do. When I was about to say something, I heard him sniffle and he rocked. "Lily . . ." he whispered.

Not knowing who Lily was, I decided it was time to let him know I was awake. I made a quiet moan in the back of my throat, hoping it sounded like I was still somewhat asleep, and I fidgeted a little before closing my eyes.

I heard his breath catch, then he gently, but quickly, lowered me to the bed we were on. I lied there for a few seconds, then I slowly opened my eyes. I seemed to be even colder than I had been before now that he wasn't holding me. I still had an emptiness inside me that I had felt from the dementors, but it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as before.

He was sitting beside me while I lied there, acting as though nothing had happened. "Miss Kensith, you are quite lucky I was there. Dementors are rather hard to get rid of."

"Oh . . . thank you . . ." I slowly sat up and found my body was still shivering. "How long was I out?"

"Five minutes, if that. I've brought you to my quarters. Madam Pomfrey would have just fussed over you and insist you stay there and miss classes. However, that is quite unnecessary. Chocolate will suffice. I brought you here to make sure you . . . would wake. I was worried that perhaps they . . . Kissed you."

"Why . . . Why aren't you wet?"

"I've performed a drying and warming charm on myself. I would have done so for you, but I felt that performing any charm--other than a life-saving one--on someone not able to give consent was wrong. But you are capable of doing that yourself, I am sure, but I did not have your consent beforehand, and so you may do it now."

I nodded and rubbed my hands on my arms. I kept thinking about Lily, whoever that was, and how Snape had gotten rid of the dementors. "Professor?"

"Yes, Miss Kensith?"

"That was your Patronus? The doe?"

He nodded slowly and looked away. "Yes."

Whether or not he knew what that meant was unknown to me, but I was sure he knew because he was smart. "So . . . you . . . you can cast a Patronus." It wasn't a question. He just raised an eyebrow at me again. "Death Eaters don't cast Patronuses. My mother told me that they have no need to, but I know it's because they can't. They live the exact opposite of what a Patronus needs. I've heard a bit about the theory in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Remember? That girl asked and you got all angry and told her to finish the werewolf assignment."

"I know the theory as well," he informed, almost haughtily.

"So . . . You don't believe that stuff anymore? You're not like my mother?"

"Do you think Dumbledore would have hired me if I was not trustworthy?"

He had a point there. "Oh . . . So, er, when did you decide against it? After he died or what?"

He stared at me for awhile, looking me over as he tended to do quite often, then he pursed his lips. "You should be going. I would suggest eating some chocolate." He got off the bed and opened his bedroom door.

I sat on the bed for awhile, staring at him. He stood just as still, holding the door open, waiting for me to leave. The silence was incredibly awkward. So many things were going through my head. The name Lily kept repeating in my mind, in his voice. He had used a tone I'd never heard before, something barely above a whisper and full of . . . love. I had never experienced love, meaning I had never felt it for anyone (not even my parents, since my father died before I really could and my mother is the bitch who killed him) and no one had felt it towards me. Except for probably my dad. Somehow, though, I knew that the emotion had been love.

"Why do you always do that?" I finally gathered up the courage to ask. He remained silent for awhile, so I assumed it was safe to talk again. "Why do you avoid my questions?" I rephrased.

"You have a habit of asking questions I'd rather not answer, ones that are far too perceptive and manage to involve the exact thing I should not talk about, especially with you. Whether it be fate or something else, it seems to be . . . recurring."

Questions he did not want to answer. Which were the ones he refused to answer Which ones were the questions he avoided? He avoided exactly what emotion he stared at me with, and he avoided questions that involved . . . Me. Why he looked at me, why he stood behind me . . . and when he switched sides. Was there a connection?

I finally got off the bed and walked to the door. I stopped when I was right beside him, then looked into his black eyes. I actually sought his eyes. I had never done that before. He usually sought mine. Our eyes locked for only a moment before he looked away and turned his head a bit. "Thank you, professor," I mumbled awkwardly, then hurried out of his quarters.

As I walked to the Slytherin common room, shivering, I realized something. I didn't know if it was an unpleasant realization or a pleasant one, but it happened nonetheless. I trusted Snape enough to let him touch my face, even before I knew it was his Patronus that had saved me. I had trusted him all along, so that was why I had felt so betrayed when found out about his Mark. I didn't know why I trusted him or since when I had, but I had.

I didn't sleep at all that night. My mind kept going over how tender he had been with me, and how he had called me Lily in that tone. Despite what I had thought about that overgrown bat of a git called Snape, his heart was not made of a block of ice, because no man could say just one name with that much emotion and be complete berk.

Note to self: slight emphasis on complete.