Finally Understood

To say that I was in love with Professor Snape would have been a bit of an overstatement. Oh, all right, it would have been quite an overstatement. I wasn't in love with him. But to say that I wasn't attracted to him, that I didn't have feelings for him, well, that would have been a lie.

Of course I didn't tell anybody. Who would I tell? Ron? Harry? I think that telling them would result in their deaths, to be honest. I think Ron would jump off of the Astronomy Tower and Harry would die of a heart attack, or something. Suffice it to say, they wouldn't be very happy--not in the least.

It wasn't like I'd never had a crush on a teacher before. Mostly everyone--including myself--had had a crush on Professor Lockhart. So I suppose it wasn't too shocking that I had a crush on one of my professors. I'm sure people actually expected me to. Well, actually, I think most people have a crush on a teacher at least once. But I think it's more likely for me to, or at least, more people would expect it, since I'm that 'know-it-all' Hermione Granger. I suppose the bookworm having a crush on a professor has a sort of symmetry to it.

But I certainly wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of knowing that I did, and I certainly wasn't going to embarrass myself by explaining who I had a crush on. Not only because of Ron and Harry, which was the main, obvious reason, but because I knew it would get back to Professor Snape somehow, and I don't know if I could bear that. Not only that, but I'm sure people would enjoy making fun of me every chance they got, or at least making fun of him more than they already did.

Besides, everybody thought I was in love with Ron. Which, actually, to be honest, I was. Well, not in love with Ron, but I was pretty sure that I was falling in love with him. But it was obvious to me that he didn't feel the same, since he was constantly snogging with that horrid, shallow cow Lavender Brown. I swear he deliberately did it in front of me, and it was obvious that he had no real concern about how I felt.

But did people honestly believe that a girl, in her teens, wouldn't be attracted to more than one person in the entirety of her life? That was ridiculous. I dated Viktor, didn't I? We can't all be lucky enough to only fall in love once, only be attracted to one person, and end up with that one person, can we? No, obviously not, considering I'd been attracted to more than one person in my life, and I obviously wasn't going to end up with "Won-Won" because he was obviously busy enough with his precious Lavender.

But Professor Snape? I could practically see Ron gaping at me, and Harry spluttering angrily. And of course, they would go into a tirade of some sort, Ron exclaiming that he was such a greasy git, and Harry going off about the same thing. And others would hear about it, and they would all tell me how unattractive he was.

All right, I'll admit it, Severus Snape was not attractive. But neither was I. And, really, when I thought about it, neither was Ron. Or Harry. No, to be completely objective, very few people were attractive. Most people were average looking or either just above or below. No, it's our own opinions of the people themselves that make them attractive. And once a person starts liking someone, it's easy to see past his less-than-handsome features, or perhaps even start to see it as attractive. Not that I find Professor Snape attractive, no, he's not really much to look at, but neither am I. And, honestly, there's more to life than looks, which is something that I think practically everybody has a hard time learning. Well, almost everybody. Like Ron, for instance.

But it wasn't like Professor Snape was the kindest person to grace the planet, either. No, he was biased, capricious, and he held grudges, and he was rude, and he obviously enjoyed taunting others. So I suppose if someone ever really asked me why I was attracted to him, I wouldn't really have a good answer.

I hadn't even really thought about him that much until I found out what he did for the Order. Despite his obvious short comings, he was also brave, and he knew what needed to be done, and he would do it, no matter what the circumstance, or how dangerous. I imagine being a spy for the Order couldn't have been a very safe job, and although I wasn't necessarily allowed to listen to the meetings, I knew that they needed him.

And despite what Harry and Ron say, he was obviously a good teacher--obviously much better than Professor Slughorn. Both Harry and Ron did well (although perhaps not great) in Potions when Professor Snape taught it. Obviously, they both got E's in the OWL exam in the subject. Ron is doing horribly in that class now, almost as bad as Neville had been, and, well, I'm not even going into the subject of how Harry is doing, because he's obviously cheating. If a teacher assigns a book, then, well, obviously, that should be the book used. But it only points out just how good of a teacher Snape was in Potions, considering that he didn't assign much book work, and I was doing much better then.

And he was actually a great Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He actually reminded me a bit of Harry, since it was mostly practical work. Other than Professor Lupin, we hadn't had a teacher who was so informative. And he obviously really cares about the subject, and really cares about us learning it.

Still, though, even I couldn't figure out what it was about him I was attracted to. Perhaps it was because of how Ron was treating me, and I had found my eyes wandering, looking for anybody else to focus on, to try and get me to stop feeling for Ron as I did.

Of course, we were supposed to be practicing nonverbal spells, something Professor Snape had us practice on repeatedly. Of course, it wasn't the only thing he had us do--he had us write essays on certain spells, explaining the make up of them, or famous Dark Wizards, or practice certain defensive spells--but since most of the class had trouble with nonverbal spells, at least once a week he would have us partner up with someone and do nonverbal spells. Since I had learned that quite a long time ago, he was giving me extra work, more essays, or giving me more advanced spells to practice--usually with him. Although I did find myself somewhat attracted to him, it wasn't really pleasant, since he never said anything except to criticize me, but I did learn quicker when he pointed out what I was doing wrong. Besides, I did feel somewhat nervous--it wasn't like I actually wanted to jinx my professor, even though I knew he would block it effectively. He was keeping me quite busy, and I was glad, because even though he was always pushing all of us further than most teachers would (I remember Umbridge actually admonished him for teaching more advanced material in Potions than the ministry approved of) I liked tackling harder subjects, and I would hate to have to sit around and do nothing since I was further than the rest of the class.

I didn't tell anyone that I was getting extra work in Defence Against the Dark Arts, though, because I knew Harry had his own extra lessons to worry about, and I wasn't speaking to Ron at the moment, and they both would just be upset and call Professor Snape a git for making me work harder than anyone else, almost like he was punishing me for being smart. Maybe he was doing this as a sort of punishment, but I viewed it as a reward. I wouldn't know why he did it. I could never really figure him out, although I spent many hours puzzling over him and trying to make logical sense of my feelings for him.

Of course, my essays always had comments scribbled all over them. Something I got from him often was 'obviously taken from (a book I had gotten the information from) and not from your own mind' or 'do not digress from the original topic' and the ever popular 'I believe the essay was set for fourteen inches, not twenty' and every time I got one, I felt a small stab of disappointment in my heart. I wanted to write a perfect essay, and it wasn't a personal insult, or only because of him--whenever I got any criticisms on any of my reviews I was disappointed, even if there was only one. Of course, he gave more criticisms than my other teachers, but he was honest. Every time he did write something scathing, it was true, and I wondered if my other professors either didn't notice them, or let it slide because they liked me.

Of course, the rare, positive comment also made me happier than any of my other professors' good comments could. His good comments were always short, something like 'correct' or 'agreed' or he would underline a sentence he particularly liked. Generally, his main opinion on my essay (which he scribbled after the essay itself, or in the margin next to the final paragraph) was . . . Well, I wouldn't say amazingly positive, but it wasn't ever horrible. It was always 'good form, as usual, Miss Granger, and it's obvious to me how much time you put into writing your essays. Try not to sound as though you are a book' or something similar to that.

He always marked what I got out of 100 (which he generally scored me in the upper nineties) and then wrote the corresponding grade (always a hasty O, the red ink thick as if he'd been pressing down on it harder than normal) and I always felt smug. I had never gotten full marks from him before, but I never expected to. I wasn't Malfoy, his Slytherin pet, was I? No, I was the friend of the boy he obviously hated. Still, considering a 97/100 scribbled on my parchment from him and me not being in Slytherin was an achievement I felt proud of.

At the moment, though, I didn't feel proud, or content in any way. I was trying not to cry. Ron kept making buck-toothed impressions of me, waving his hands in the air, whenever Professor Snape wasn't looking. And he was making sure that I saw it. It was something he did awhile ago for the first time, and Lavender had giggled, and people had thought it funny, and so now, I suppose, he decided to keep doing it.

I knew Ron's attitude towards me had upset Harry, but Harry and Ron were best friends, so far be it from Harry to complain about it, and I never wanted to complain about Ron to him because I wouldn't want Harry to be put in that position. Whenever Ron did something particularly nasty, Harry would stay behind with me, or walk with me instead of Ron, or do something helpful or nice. I knew he was trying to pretend he wasn't doing it purposely, but I knew it was out of pity, and it was his way of apologizing for Ron's behaviour. It was appreciated, but at the same time, I didn't want it from Harry--I wanted it from Ron.

Even though I knew it would only frustrate me, I kept looking at Ron, seeing him making fun of me with Lavender. Lavender was giggling quietly (or, technically, trying to giggle quietly, but I heard it plainly) while Ron flapped his arms about and stuck his top teeth over his bottom lip, and although I couldn't hear him clearly, I could tell he was imitating my voice.

"Don't pay attention to him, Hermione," Neville kept saying every time I glanced over my shoulders, my eyes burning with tears and my lips pursing.

The rest of class was just as horrible, with my blocking Neville's whispered jinxes. Ron and Lavender were starting to giggle and laugh and make fun of me a bit louder.

"Mister Weasley and Miss Brown, I believe this is a lesson and not a date," I heard Professor Snape say behind me and I glanced over my shoulder, wiping away the wetness underneath my cheeks. Everybody knew that he'd been making fun of me, but I knew Professor Snape wasn't going to mention it. He generally didn't care if anyone made fun of Gryffindors. "As such, I would expect you two to act appropriately, and not in this frivolous manner. Five points each for your disruptive behaviour." He turned away, obviously to continue walking through the crowd.

"Git," Ron mumbled. He obviously didn't mean to say it as loud as he had though, because his ears went red and his blue eyes widened when he realized just how loud his voice was.

"Detention, Mister Weasley," he responded coolly, sweeping through the crowd, his cloak rippling slightly, his black eyes focusing on each student coldly.

I turned back around to face Neville, whose lips were barely moving as he continued to whisper jinxes that I blocked without talking.

A few minutes later, Professor Snape stood beside us, upper lip curled upward in a snarl. "Longbottom, go practice with Potter. I believe the two of you are equally as pathetic in nonverbal casting."

I bristled slightly at the insult that was meant for both Neville and Harry, but I kept my mouth shut. Although he was mean, I was still attracted to him, and he was a professor, and deserved my respect. Even if he was mean.

Neville blushed a deep red and went over to Harry. Neville said something quietly (probably explaining why he'd come over to Harry) and Harry's green eyes found Professor Snape, hatred etched on every inch of his face.

"Miss Granger, you will be partnered with me," he said. I knew he would, of course, because he normally did. Harry said he felt bad for me whenever we did practice together.

I nodded at him, then listened to him explain the new spell we'd be working on, and demonstrated the proper way to wave his wand, and put a delicate stress on the proper syllables, and spoke slowly, so that I could hear it properly. I personally thought he'd be a great foreign language teacher, because having learned a bit of French when we vacationed in Nice, I realized that some words sounded similar except for a delicate stress, and I think he would be great at pointing them out. I wondered if he knew any other languages.

Some time during the last half of the class, I managed to perform the jinx perfectly. I know that I did it perfectly, because he didn't say anything, and that meant he couldn't find anything to criticize. He, obviously, blocked the spell, and we began practicing it together, taking turns blocking and casting. I think what I liked about him was the way he moved. He moved fluidly, confidently, swiftly, like he was comfortable in his own skin, and comfortable in all of his surroundings. Perhaps that was where my attraction came from, because it certainly didn't come from his charming personality, or his looks.

Near the end of class, he told us all to sit in our seats while he passed out our essays. As always, I felt a twinge of nervousness. All right, more than a twinge. What if I failed it miserably? What if my essay was covered in red ink, soaked with the crimson, so many comments written on the parchment the ink bled together and I couldn't see the comments and I wouldn't be able to learn from them? What if I had a large, unforgiving T circled at the top of the parchment? What if I'd wasted hours on that essay for nothing?

Recently, my scores hadn't been the greatest in this class. He was marking me in the lower nineties instead of the upper nineties, and there had been more criticisms than normal. He still marked them as O's, but the scores themselves were slowly, but steadily, going lower. What if I'd gone completely downhill and had ruined this essay entirely?

I heard the disappointed groans and watched the small scowl on almost all of his students' faces. One or two smiled slightly, looking pleased with their scores. Everybody else was either impassive or obviously agitated. Finally, when he put my essay in front of me, my heart sank to the floor and the world seemed to close in around me, the tears that had come to my eyes when Ron had been making fun of me resurfacing again.

An E. 86/100.

All right, so perhaps it wasn't that horrible, but it was the first time he'd given me an E in this class. The only other time I'd ever been upset about a score on my essay was last year in Potions, when he'd asked us to write an essay and he said he would be marking them in OWL standards. Still, though, when I glanced over and saw how many comments he'd written, his slightly effeminate handwriting slanted and for some reason strangely familiar, my throat closed up. Each time I read through one, I felt worse. But nothing prepared me for the final comment.

See me after class.

That obviously wasn't good. Was he going to lecture me? I had never really spoke to him, and he'd never really spoke to me, except for when he insulted me the few times he did (he didn't insult so much as reprimand me or give me glares) or when I said 'good morning' to him in the halls, which usually resulted in him raising an eyebrow at me in confusion and I always felt stupid right after.

When the bell rang a few minutes later, it was like my heart jumped into my throat and the anxiousness that was somewhat building in my stomach seemed to burn through me, and I couldn't breath. This couldn't be good. He was going to yell at me and insult me and call me stupid? Why was I attracted to this horrible man again? Why couldn't I find myself attracted to someone like Neville? Someone who was nice?

I put my things in my bag and held my essay in my hands, and I slowly walked over to his desk, breathing faster and my hands shaking, the dark classroom pressing in all around me, my heart thumping a fast rhythm against my chest.

When I stood in front of his desk, he regarded me, his black eyes piercing me through his black, lank hair that fell on either side of his face. He did not look very pleased. My hands shook even more and my eyes burned slightly. He was sitting, but I was standing. He had no chair for me to sit in. "Miss Granger."

"You asked me to see you after class, Professor," I explained, my voice strained.

"I am aware of why you haven't left. I did not forget." He waved his wand and a chair from one of the desks near me scooted along the floor, the scraping of the legs along the floor making an annoying screeching noise that made me cringe slightly, and settled beneath me.

I sat in the chair, the temperature in the room rising significantly, and I swear there was no way he couldn't hear how fast my heart was beating, and I knew my face was bright red. This was so ridiculous. I shouldn't be so nervous! I was supposed to be brave! And what was I doing? Sitting in front of Professor Snape, worried out of my mind!

"I can't help but notice that you haven't been writing your essays with your usual amount of annoying enthusiasm."

"I'm . . . I'm sorry, sir."

He raised an eyebrow at me. "Is this about Mister Weasley?"

The image of Ron making fun of me flashed through my mind and I cleared my throat, feeling even more awkward and nervous than I had been. "Er, I'm not sure what you mean," I said carefully, avoiding his eyes.

"Don't insult my intelligence, Miss Granger. It's obvious that his carrying on with Miss Brown has upset you. I expected you to take him to that infernal party, and instead you took McLaggen, which I think we both agree on that you are far above that. Now, I would appreciate it if you were honest with me. It is obvious that your work is being affected by this, and I cannot accept that. Is Mister Weasley the cause of it?"

I lowered my head and looked at my knees, feeling somewhat ashamed. I knew that my mind had been elsewhere lately, but I hadn't thought that it would affect my schoolwork so much he would notice. I would have expected Professor McGonagall to notice, or, really, any of the other Professors to notice before him. Then again, the other professors weren't as harsh on my essays as he was--not even Professor McGonagall.

"Yes, sir."

"Then I suggest you find someone else to dote upon. I think you above such idiots, and I believe you would be suited for someone of higher intelligence."

I glanced up at him and saw him looking at me as if he hadn't said anything odd at all. I was partly offended that he would insult Ron, but I was also pleased that he'd complimented me. "Well, Ron isn't necessarily stupid, sir."

"And it is obvious that your affections towards him and his affections towards Miss Brown have affected your schoolwork, which I cannot allow. You are the top student in this class, Miss Granger, and I doubt you are very pleased with your score."

I blinked at him, feeling pride swell within me. Professor Snape called me his best student. This was our first actual conversation, and I was attracted to him, and he'd called me his best student. I couldn't help the fact I was smiling widely and my cheeks were burning slightly. "Thank you sir."

"Do not thank me--I am merely being honest. Please do not do me the disservice of being modest--you know as well as I that you are. That is beside the point. You are far above Potter and Mister Weasley, and I will not accept any more of these unsatisfactory grades, do you understand?"

I nodded slowly, feeling ashamed. I should not have let my personal life interfere with my school life. I honestly hadn't realized just how much it was affecting me. Well, obviously I knew it affected me, considering I cried almost every night into my pillow about Ron, or thought about Professor Snape to avoid thinking about Ron. Of course, I'm sure my attraction towards Professor Snape hadn't helped much, either, but I knew he was right.

"Yes, sir. It's just . . . I really thought he liked me, Professor," I revealed, my voice cracking slightly. I hadn't talked about this to anyone, not even Harry. We all sort of pretended that nothing was wrong. Professor Snape bringing the subject up only made me want to explain myself. "Obviously he isn't doing anything wrong, if he wants to carry on with her then he can even if she's absolutely horrid and I don't see what he sees in her at all, well, I suppose she's pretty . . ."

"Miss Granger, you are abysmally thick-headed."

I blinked at him, surprised at his scowl and his icy tone, as well as his sudden insult. He had just called me intelligent, hadn't he? Then he went and called me thick headed? "I'm sorry?"

"Mister Weasley is obviously infatuated with you; how can you not see this? This display with Miss Brown makes it only more obvious. For someone as intelligent as you, you certainly can be thick. I expected more of you, Miss Granger." I didn't really understand where he thought that Ron was doing this out of affection for me. "In any case, Miss Granger, I am not here to discuss your relationship issues, but your assignment issues. It's obvious to me that they are connected, so I am only discussing your relationship merely because of their connection."

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat realizing that, of course, Professor Snape would not want me blurting out my personal issues, especially when it pertained to Ron. "Yes, of course, sir." Obviously he made it known he didn't like who I associated with, he'd even gone so far as to say I was better than them which, honestly, I disagreed with entirely, but it was nice nonetheless, even if I was offended he would insult my friends, but I didn't really expect anything else from him.

"Is there, perhaps, someone else you may have feeling for, if it means so much to you?" he asked, his tone icy, making it plain that he obviously didn't really care or want to hear, but he felt he had to ask.

I immediately shook my head and lied. "No, there isn't." I wasn't about to tell him the truth, was I? That would be embarrassing.

"Miss Granger, if you going to lie to me, then I will end this discussion immediately, and it will not be brought up again. I am taking time out of my day to have this tedious conversation merely out of concern for you, and it does not help me nor please me to be lied to. You cannot have forgotten I am a legilimens."

I cleared my throat. Of course. How stupid of me. How could I have not realized that lying to him was practically impossible? I had been the one to constantly remind Harry of his Occlumency lessons, and what had I done? Lied to Professor Snape.

"I'm sorry, sir. Yes, I do have . . . An attraction for someone else," I said carefully, which wasn't a lie, so I had no qualms about looking him directly in his black eyes.

"And can you not make it known to him? Perhaps his feelings are returned, and it will, regrettably, return you to your former know-it-all self, and we will no longer have this problem."

I cleared my throat and felt the nervousness return. I shook my head. "Er, no, sir, I can't--I can't do that. I can tell you now that he doesn't return the feelings for me, so no, and really, it's not like I love him or anything, it's something really simple, and I am quiet positive that . . . Telling him wouldn't help, so no. And it's not Harry, and it's not Neville, so don't get any ideas about who, sir, but I can tell you he's not interested, so telling him would only make it worse, sir."

"Do I know him at least?" he asked curiously, looking rather bemused.

"Er . . . Well . . . I . . . sort of . . ." How could I answer that without giving it away? Well, I suppose I could say yes, couldn't I? "Er, yes, actually," I added hastily. There. That wasn't a lie.

He was staring me in the eyes and I swear his face paled slightly. His face become more rigid than usual and he sat up a bit straighter. He blinked a few times and I sat there, breathing heavily, face hot and probably burning a deep crimson, and my hands were shaking slightly from my nerves. My hands shaking was only more noticeable when I brushed my bushy hair from my eyes. He continued staring at me with a stony expression and looking quite uncomfortable.

"Miss Granger . . . Legilimency does not only consist of seeing that which proves a lie, but that which also proves the truth," he said in a quiet voice, his eyes moving away from mine and focusing on his desk, where he promptly began shuffling papers, his lips pursing.

I realized with a jolt that he knew I had feelings for him. My eyes widened and I felt suddenly sick and I clenched my fists a bit, knowing that I was crinkling my essay slightly. I swear that the heat in this room was suddenly unbearably hot.

"Oh . . . I'm sorry, sir, I didn't . . . I'm sorry," I managed without squeaking too horribly.

He remained quiet for a moment, still shuffling the parchments on his desk, hair hanging in front of his face so that I could barely see his hooked, large nose. "This will not cause your essays to be of even poorer quality?" he asked quietly.

I looked down at my knees, my face burning, my heart thudding harder and quicker. Oh, God. This was horrible. "Of course not, sir. And I hadn't expected . . . Anything in return, either . . . And, obviously, I know that it can't ever . . . Well, you hate my best friend's parents, and I'm not anything special, really, so, well, I understand . . ."

"I don't hate Potter's parents," he said firmly, and I looked up at him, confused at his words. He glanced up at me, his eyebrow raised.


"I don't hate Potter's parents, Miss Granger," he repeated more firmly, his black eyes uncomfortably intense. "I believe we have nothing else to discuss. Try not to be so dismal in your essays room now on. You are free to leave."

I nodded briskly and stood, my head lowered, feeling nervous and embarrassed and overheated. I started hurrying towards the door, mentally berating myself.

"It isn't you, Miss Granger." I stopped moving towards the door and stood there awkwardly. I took in a few deep breaths and turned slowly to face him. He was looking at me again, looking as impassive as ever. "I don't . . . dislike you." I nodded slowly, feeling even more awkward. I suppose that wasn't the closest he would ever come to saying he liked me in any way.

Even though I was extremely uncomfortable, I smiled briefly at him. "Thank you, sir. And about my essays . . ."

"You need to stop thinking in here," he said, pointing at his temple, and he brought down his hand, and pressed it against his chest. "And think in here, do you understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"I would appreciate it if our discussion remained private, as I'm sure you would appreciate me not speaking of your feelings. Am I understood?" Of course I understood. It wasn't like I wanted anybody to know what we talked about.

I nodded briefly.

"You may go," he said, plucking a quill out from his ink bottle and scratching comments along the parchments in front of him.

I turned around and left the classroom. Although the dungeons were smaller and technically more cramped, I no longer felt closed in, and the temperature was cooler and more bearable.

When I finally made it into Gryffindor tower, I studiously kept my eyes away form the couch, where Lavender and "Won-Won" were snogging passionately, and went over to Harry and Neville, who were waving me over.

"Hermione, what did he say? You stayed after class. He wasn't angry with you, was he?" Neville asked worriedly.

"No, he wasn't angry," I answered with a brief, reassuring smile.

"Well, what was he talking to you about then?" Harry asked, tilting his head to his side.

Harry really did look just like James, everybody said so, but I suppose it was true. Well, except for his eyes. He had his mother's eyes. Harry told me that Slughorn likes to compare him to his mother more than James quite often. I suppose it confused me, is all ,that Professor Snape would tell me he didn't hate Harry's parents, when he was constantly comparing him to James, and everybody knew that they hadn't gotten along in Hogwarts. Perhaps he was in denial.

"Just my essay."

"He must be the only teacher that hates it when a student is actually smart. Getting mad because you're not stupid. What a git," Harry grumbled.

"He isn't a git, Harry," I reprimanded like I always did, then looked down at my essay, then turned it so he couldn't read what my score was.

He had told me to think with my heart and not my head. Perhaps that was why I could never figure him out. Until just now--and even now, I'm sure there is much about him I will not understand. Perhaps I should have thought with my heart much sooner, perhaps then I could have understood what I understood now.

"Look . . . at . . . me," he managed through his gurgles, pulling Harry closer, me holding the memories in the stopper I'd conjured.

At first, when he'd let his memories leave him and asked Harry to take them, I hadn't understood. It made no logical sense, really. There was no purpose for it. What would we need to know? Professor Snape was a Death Eater and had been killed because of his master; because the man he worked for found no use in him, and needed him dead to suit his purposes. It was common knowledge that Harry and Professor Snape hated each other. So what was the reason behind it?

But I remembered him telling me to think with my heart and not my head, and somehow, it clicked. I had tried to do it so many times before, but for some reason, right then was the first time I could actually, truly do it. I had felt betrayed all year long because of what he'd done. Unlike Harry and Ron, I had liked Professor Snape, and so it hurt me that I'd been wrong about him for so long.

I wished that there was something I could do to help him, but there wasn't anything I could do. Even if I had essence of dittany on me, there wouldn't be enough time for me to save him, and I knew of no healing charms that could prevent his death from a magical enhanced snake. It must have been very painful, and I knew that he was choking on his own blood, and I couldn't imagine the fear of knowing death was coming near.

His hand fell to the floor and his eyes lost some spark in them I hadn't ever realized he had before, but oddly enough, having looked into Harry's eyes, he seemed to be . . . accepting.

We started leaving, me thinking with my heart, when I suddenly understood, and I looked back at his dead form, my eyes burning, and my chest tightening. He'd looked into Harry's green eyes; his mother's eyes.

It clicked suddenly, and I suddenly felt nauseous, and my hand clenched around the vial that held his memories, somehow knowing that Harry would realize what I had just understood.

Knowing Harry, we would all understand after he saw the memories. But of course, like me, we would all understand far too late.

A bit more than a year ago, Professor Snape had told me he didn't hate Harry's parents. Of course not. He only hated James.

He'd loved Lily.

A/N--this is my first HG/SS fanfic, so reviews are welcomed. Constructive criticism is appreciated, but flames are not.