Chapter Sixteen: Confrontations

Meredith had promised herself she would stop.

She promised herself that she wouldn't do it anymore. Now that she was a professor, she had to be a good example. She wasn't a bad teacher, she knew that--in fact, she knew she was actually one of the better ones--but that didn't mean she was a good person. Beautiful, intelligent, charming, flirtatious, and talented, perhaps, but a good person? She doubted it. The last time she felt that she was a decent human being had been so long ago, she couldn't even remember what it had felt like. Had she even been aware of the fact she was a decent person? Did people know they were good? Or did they only realize that they were horrible, and reminisce about a time when they hadn't been?

She could remember when she was a good person. She had been dating Peter Pettigrew. Her chest ached when she remembered just how much she had loved him. He had been awkward and shy, but once she'd gotten to know him, he could talk for hours and hours. He had been so much like a child--so full of life, so zealous, so appreciative of everything around him . . . And she had been that way once, too.

It hadn't surprised anyone when she made the first move. She asked him out. Being in the same year and house, she had known who he was. He was friends with Sirius Black and James Potter--of course she knew who Peter was. One day, when Remus had been sick (something he often was, she remembered) Peter hadn't had anyone to pair himself with for Potions. Seeing as she was either going to be paired up with Severus or him, she chose Peter. She hadn't minded being paired with Severus because he tended to do all of the work and let her doodle on parchment, but he was often snappish towards her and she hated people snapping at her. After that, Peter often chose to be paired with her instead of Remus, and Remus (who she remembered being too kind for his own good) ended up being paired with Severus instead, much to his chagrin.

And everything had gone splendidly. She had dated before, but they had been shallow, cute relationship that lasted a week at best. But with Peter, she could truly be herself. They dated months, and nobody understood why Meredith Susan Gregarson, the beautiful, rich, intelligent girl, would be seen publicly with the awkward and plump Peter Pettigrew. But they didn't understand--the freedom to say what she wanted, to truly be herself--whoever that had been so long ago--around someone who didn't care. Who never judged.

She remembered how jealous Sirius had been. Not because he actually liked her, but because he was the type girls usually went for. Nobody went for Peter. She figured he'd seen it as a bash to his masculinity, and saw to it to try and woo her. Peter had always been jealous of his friends, and when he noticed Sirius swooping in on her, he'd gotten possessive. Meredith hadn't minded, of course. She liked it that he was clingy.

So she had decided to give herself to him, fully. She became a woman at the age of sixteen, halfway through her sixth year, after dating Peter for eight months. She had been so happy. It was her decision, and even to this day she didn't regret it. And everything had been great, for awhile. For a month, they had explored their new sexuality.

But when Sirius couldn't take it anymore, he lashed out at Peter. Meredith never found out what they'd said to each other, but the next thing she knew, Peter changed. Peter became annoyed easily, and at the drop of a hat, him and Sirius were at each other like hounds. James would always pick Sirius' side, naturally, and Remus refused to get involved, and that left her with a picked on, upset, and hurt Peter, who would lash out at her and get into unnecessary arguments simply because he couldn't get his frustrations out on Sirius.

And suddenly, it ended. Peter broke up with her, saying that she was causing too much trouble. That he cared about her, and maybe they could try again someday. Meredith had been heartbroken. Even Lily, who she had never really gotten along with, had tried to comfort her. And the moment Meredith changed--the moment Meredith went from a good girl to the despicable human being she was now--was when she slept with Sirius to get back at peter.

She'd been so hurt. She wanted to pay Peter back, and she knew sleeping with Sirius would do the trick. And Sirius had been damn good. Meredith thought she had enjoyed sex with peter, it had never been horrible by any means--maybe awkward and tentative--but never horrible. But Sirius could do things that made her scream so much her throat went sore. And Sirius liked to kiss and tell.

But she was nothing to him. She was just proof that he still had it--that he could still bag the pretty ones.

But she never cared him, so she didn't care when he kicked her aside for the next pretty thing that came along.

And she moved onto the next guy, never content in being alone--never content in letter Peter forget what he'd left behind, and he moved onto to some odd affair with Bellatrix Lestrange, and the only reason she knew about that was because she'd found them shagging in a broom closet, despite Bellatrix being far older than them. After being threatened by the dark-haired beauty, Meredith promised not to say a word of their tryst. It wasn't because of fear of death that she'd obliged, but because she felt ashamed she driven Peter into the bitch's arms.

Getting back at Peter stopped being her motive long ago, but she never stopped finding comfort in strangers' arms. She just needed it. She didn't know what the appeal was, she just needed to have someone inside her--complete her--make her feel like she was worth something.

She told herself she would stop. And she had. When she'd been accepted as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, she knew she could do it. Her life was finally falling into place. She told herself that now she was a role model, someone people could look up to, and she could stop.

Severus had just been luck. Meredith had never joined in her peers' hatred of Severus. She had always pitied him. She never told him that, of course, because she wasn't an idiot, and she knew that he would despise her for pitying him. She had never liked what Lily had done to him--she knew Lily didn't feel for Severus, and it angered Meredith knowing that Lily led him on just because she didn't want to brush him off and hurt his feelings.

But they were adults now, and Severus was a hero in her eyes, and he was the type of man who could change her--the type of man who could make her feel as she had with Peter. Severus was the type of man who didn't care what others thought of him, and she knew that she would be able to be herself in front of him. She didn't know who that was anymore, but she knew he could get it out of her.

He was such a confusing man! He wrote her beautiful letters, and he obviously wanted to be with her. No one wrote letters like that unless he wanted her. He would be callous and cruel, but she figured that was just Snape, and she didn't mind it. He wasn't' the most attractive man, but Peter hadn't been either.

She honestly hadn't understood that Severus would have taken offence to her advances on him, even though he was drunk. She had been taken advantage of when drunk thousands of times--she hadn't cared. And by the way he acted towards her in the letters, she had assumed he would have reciprocated.

But she knew now he was a tease. He was a tease who led her on and shoved her away, as some sort of sick game--some sort of way at getting back at Sirius Black, she imagined.

And when she realized that, when she realized he had done nothing but toy with her, and had called her a lecher, and accused her of sexual harassment, she couldn't take it anymore. She would never find a good man--people like her didn't.

And Tuesday morning found her rolling out of bed, with some drunk stranger beside her. She knew by the time she returned from teaching classes he would return to Godric's Hollow, where she had picked him up. She knew that it meant nothing to him, and it meant nothing to her, and so she hadn't even tried to learn his name.

Falling back into intercourse with men she didn't know had been so easy. She hated herself for it, and as she was doing it, him ploughing into her, she'd had tears running down her face. It wasn't rape--but she wished that it had been.

She tried not to look at herself in the mirror. It was such a shame--she knew she was beautiful, she wasn't stupid, but she couldn't bear to look at herself anymore.

She ignored Severus at breakfast, and he ignored her. She found herself angry with him. She hated him. She blamed him for making her have sex with whatever-his-name was, even though she knew it was her fault and not his.

Classes passed her by like a dream. They were nothing to her--just seamless images. She loved for teaching. Nothing made her happier than when one of her students suddenly understood, and she knew it was because of her. But today, it didn't matter anymore. Nothing mattered, and all she wanted to do was go into London, get drunk, and have sex, just so she could feel again.

"No," she whispered to herself after the last student left her class. The kid hadn't understood something and had stayed after, and when she explained it to him and his eyes lit up, it hadn't done anything. Her heart remained in her chest, pounding slowly, and she knew that it wasn't good.

She couldn't let Severus get to her.

She wasn't going to be a bad teacher. Kids had to look up to her, and she wasn't going to let them suffer for her selfishness. She was already a procrastinator. It had taken threats from Draco Malfoy in order for her to start checking the gifts sent to the young Gryffindors she was the head of. She wasn't a good person.

But by God she was going to change.

Shoving the essays aside, she stormed to Severus' classroom, where she knew he still was. This was his fault--all his fault--and maybe yelling at him wouldn't do anything, but it was a good place to start.

She burst into his classroom, cringing when he habitually raised his wand. "Sorry," she gritted throug hher teeth, backtracked, slammed the door shut, and knocked three times.

"Enter," came his cold voice.

She burst in again, slamming it shut behind her. "Listen to me," she snapped. He raised an eyebrow at her. "I don't care what you think, Severus, but this is half your fault!"

"I beg your pardon?"

"What happened on Saturday, obviously!" she shouted, tossing her soft, golden curls aside.

"This discussion is over. Get out."

She pounded up to his desk and put her hands on her hips. "No, it isn't. You're not the end-all be-all, Severus. You are not God."

"Seeing as I'm an Atheist, I tend to agree."

"Stop it," she growled, glancing down at the parchment he held in his hands. It looked to be a list of some type. She ignored it, then stared into his black eyes. "This isn't funny. Okay, I admit, maybe I was a little forward, but you can't blame me! I hate you men sometimes! Calling us women teases, but oh, the second one of us enjoys sex, we're trollops! You're a tease, Severus!"

"I never once gave you any inclination I wanted anything more than a professional relationship with you, Gregarson."

"Bullocks. I've read your letters. Nobody writes like that unless they're interested."

"Like what? Gregarson, I often commented on the fact you were entirely different in person than in your letters, and how it irked me. It is not my fault you are too thick to tell the difference between disdain and flirtation." Although he was speaking to her, he was reading over the list in his hands, as if that could somehow be more interesting than her.

She let out a bark of laughter. "Disdain? Oh, please! You told me how beautiful I was. You told me you dreamt of me. You wrote poetry, for God's sake!"

His head snapped up, his cold eyes meeting hers. "What?"

"Let's see, how did it go? 'Your eyes like sapphire and lips of ruby red--'"

"I wrote no such thing," he interrupted, raising a hand to silence her.

"Don't play coy with me, Severus, I know damn well--"

"No, you don't understand, I really wrote no such thing."

She opened her mouth to insist that yes, he had, when she noticed his look of confusion. Suddenly, she felt herself getting confused, too. "No . . . I have the letter. I kept all of your letters. And--and there's no way you didn't know, because I referred to them in the letters I wrote back!"

"No, you didn't."

"Quit toying with me."

"I am not. You never referred to any poetry I wrote you, because I never wrote you poetry."

She furrowed her eyebrows. "No, I--I remember writing about it."

"I have the letters with me, Gregarson. I can prove you are mistaken." He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a pile of parchment. He handed it to her. "There is everything you ever wrote to me. I admit, I rather liked how you were in the letters--you understand how it frustrated me that in person, you are insipid when clearly you have the ability to be otherwise."

She skimmed through the letter on the top, then started flipping through the letters, reading over the words. "This isn't my handwriting. It's my signature, but it's not my . . . handwriting." Their eyes met again and she felt a sinking sensation in her stomach--something similar to nausea. "Severus, I didn't write any of these."

He took the letters from her and frowned. He placed all of them but one in the drawer. The one he remained holding was a poem. He held it beside the list he was holding in his hand, and his eyes kept drifting between them, and with each passing second, a frown line between his eyes became more pronounced.

"Have you . . ." His voice cracked, and she felt a stab in her chest. All of those wonderful things he'd said about her was fake. He really hadn't been leading her on. She really had made unwanted advances. Now his voice was cracking, and she felt like she was going to die. Severus' voice did not crack. Severus did not show emotion, unless that emotion was anger or cold indifference. Or some combination of both. "Have you ever seen Miss Granger's cursive?"

"No," she answered, not really understanding what was going on, and hoping to God the man she'd slept with last night wasn't still in her bed waiting for her.

He closed his eyes tightly, then slowly returned the poem into his drawer. His chest was steadily rising and falling, and she got the picture that he was piecing something together she wasn't understanding at all. "Gregarson . . . I'm going to need you to bring all the letters you received from me."

She blinked a few times. "Why? Severus, there are more important--"

"Just do it."

She turned on her heel and started to leave the classroom. When she glanced over her shoulder to ask him what the matter was, she saw him pinching the bridge of his nose, and thought it best to leave without question.


Draco hated walking up to the Gryffindor tower. But he hated the Slytherin common room more. The people who had sought his attention and surrounded him for years now treated him like a walking disease--as if his touch could make them into the scum that he apparently was. He was the son of a Death Eater, locked in Azkaban for life, and the only reason he hadn't joined him was because of Severus. Severus, who had killed Dumbledore for him; Severus, who had put his life on the line to be a spy; Severus, who Draco had hated all of last year thinking just what everyone thought--that he was Dumbledore's murderer.

Draco had been so willing to join his father at the Dark Lord's side. It was a glamorous life, doing whatever he wanted and when he wanted. He hadn't thought something as simple as killing an old man would be hard. But it was--and once he saw that life for what it truly was, it had frightened him. It had disgusted him. Yes, mudbloods were filth and a disgrace to the wizarding world--but did they deserve death? Was it necessary to kill in order to reign? Why not just ignore them--surely that would effective?

And the life he once wanted, the life he had respected, he found himself hating. And he had thought Severus truly felt and thought the way Draco once had, and he hated him. And even though Draco spent all of last year, griping and being rude towards Severus, not knowing that everything Severus did was for his benefit. To save him. To save the world.

And what did Severus get in return? Hatred. Draco deserved it, he knew he did, but Severus did not, and Draco hated himself for putting Severus through it.

And Granger was right--every person Draco had treated like dirt, every person he had sought out to insult, felt just like Draco did now. And the fact that he had forced so many to feel as he did now made him . . . something. Guilty, perhaps? And for the rest of his life, people would only see him as a monster. He would have a disadvantage in everything he did and would have to work twice as hard to get it.

And the Slytherins hated him. Not because they disagreed with him, but because they had been lucky to get away unscathed. They still had their friends. He was a disease--a leper, and if anyone went near him, they would be associated with the horrid little boy that had a Dark Mark. Then they, too, would be discriminated against.

And the odd thing was, the people who should have hated him the most, seemed to hate him the least.

He hated going to Gryffindor Tower, because he knew he didn't belong, yet it was the only time he felt he did. He could deal with Weasley's dirty looks, he could ignore the whispers, and he could even sit beside the mudblood without feeling disgusted with himself.

But he would be damned if he was going to go there for no reason.

And he hated the fact he was happy when Severus told him to retrieve Miss Granger, and send her to his classroom immediately.

The fact Draco knew the Gryffindor password only proved how much had changed .Potter had given it to him, saying; "You know, just in case you have any, er . . . ideas you want to share with us. You know ,for Snape." Draco scoffed. He could read between the line. Potter might as well have said; "Just in case you feel lonely and want to talk to me about it." Stupid Gryffindor prat--noble to the end.

The door swung open, the Fat Lady scoffing and muttering something that Draco decided to ignore, and he stepped in. The Gryffindors all scowled and him and started whispering to their friends. Thankfully, the freckled ginger idiot known as Weasley wasn't around, but his sister was.

Potter was sitting beside Ginny Weasley, and they were whispering to each other, but the whispers were tender and caring, not directed at him, obviously. He brushed away her fiery red hair and kissed her lips, and Draco nearly vomited at the display. It was nearly as bad as that insipid romance novel Draco had read simply to pass the time--An Open Page by Ember Rose. The main heroine had looked on to her recently married friends, Harold and Guinevere, who now that Draco thought about it, looked very similar to the two in front of him, and they had been necking and being tender towards each other. Draco hadn't like the novel, but mainly because anything that didn't have explosions and some sort of action in it bored him.

Potter looked in his direction and smiled, nodding at him in greeting, then returned to paying attention to his girlfriend, as if Draco walked into the common room every day.

He saw Granger working on an essay and sighed. Did the girl have anything that closely resembled a life? Sighing, eh walked over to her. "Granger," he greeted.

She looked up at him, appearing surprised. "Oh. Hello, Draco."

He winced. It didn't sound right, his name coming from her lips. "It's Malfoy," he spat.

"Right. Of course."

He shifted uncomfortably. She had helped him with his history essay. He knew he should thank her, but he would die before telling her that. So instead, he went on about the reason he was here. "Professor Snape wants to see you in his classroom."

Apparently she didn't think that was a good thing, because her face paled. "Oh. Er, did he say why?"

"No. But I'd suggest you hurry along, Granger. He didn't seem very happy."

She quickly turned her essay over and stood, brushing off her robes. Her hands were shaking. "Right. Of course. Thank you, Dra--Malfoy."

She quickly walked past him, and he snarled at her retreating form.

Although he knew he should leave, he sank into the couch with an ease that made him worry about his sanity. He folded his arms and stared at the fire, ignoring the whispers of the people around him. It was better here. Here, they might whisper, but it didn't bug him. He took an odd comfort in the fact he knew they had always hated him, they had always whispered and taunted him. It was far better than dealing with people who used to fawn over him. It wasn't a new hatred, but an old one.

He should have been surprised when Potter sat on the couch beside him--far enough so that it wouldn't be uncomfortable, but close enough for Draco to know they could talk. Ginny Weasley wasn't with him. That didn't surprise him, either.

"How is everything?" Potter asked.

"Fine. I was just supposed to tell Granger that Sev--er, Professor Snape wanted to see her."

He nodded, and his green eyes narrowed in thought. When their eyes met, somehow--and Draco didn't know how--some sort of knowledge passed between them. Somehow, Draco knew that Potter suspected the same thing Draco did.

"Hermione seems to be taking a liking to her apprenticeship. She, er . . . looks forward to it," Potter stated, and Draco heard the real question underneath--the real statement. The fact that Potter thought Granger had feelings for Snape.

Draco nodded slowly. "Severus enjoys teaching her."

And then, there was an understanding. Potter and Draco knew that the two of them liked each other, in a way more than a student and teacher should.

"I think it's very . . . good for Hermione. The apprenticeship." I think Severus is a good match for her, Draco.

"Yes, having an apprentice is very good for Severus, as well." I agree, Potter. Granger is good for Severus.

Potter nodded and folded his arms. "The, er . . . matchmaking thing, I, er . . . don't wanna do it anymore."

"Neither do I."

Potter nodded. "But . . . If you ever get any ideas, you can still share them with me. You know, in case you change your mind." You can still come up here.

Draco nodded. "I know."

"Listen, Draco . . ." He noticed the delicate stress on his name. He thought about correcting him, but decided against it. "If you show up to dinner, I am going to sit with you."

Draco knew what he was doing. He was giving Draco a chance to not show up for dinner. "I'm not opposed to that, Harry." There. He said it. It was the first time that name had come out of his mouth and it hadn't been followed by his surname.

Harry nodded. "Would you like to play chess?"

Draco smiled. "Yes. I would."


Hermione's day had not gone well at all.

Because she had finally gathered up the courage to tell Ron she didn't have feelings for him, Ron had decided to be an obnoxious prat all day towards her. Harry never told Ron to knock it off, but when he wasn't' around, he told Hermione that what she'd done was for the best. And although Ginny did manage a few words of comfort, they came off as cold and clipped. Even though Ginny told her she was glad that Hermione had finally told him what was up, she knew where her loyalties were at.

Hermione was afraid that because of her selfishness, she had lost a friend. But she knew what she did was right. She knew that it would have been more hurtful to keep her feelings bottled away and let Ron think that she returned his feelings when she didn't.

But most of all, she was confused about Snape. He told her things he would never tell anyone else. It was most unlike him, to open up to her, and she contented herself in saying that he only did it because she was willing to listen, and after spending years having to keep everything locked inside, he was looking for a reason to blurt it all out. She imagined he told himself that as well. But after last night, she knew she couldn't lie to herself anymore.

She fancied him, and he reciprocated the feeling.

But she highly doubted he was asking her to his classroom so they could discuss dinner plans. He'd been so angry with her when he'd nearly kissed her. She remembered how it had felt to have his finger on her wrist, and how his eyes kept going to her mouth. The fact he had nearly kissed his student must have disgusted him. He'd kicked her out, and she had given him the choice to pretend that it was over the potion--so they could forget the entire thing--and he had still insisted she leave. She couldn't help but worry that he was going to stop her apprenticeship.

When she stood in front of his door, she felt fear gnawing at her gut. She was an adult. She was nineteen years old. Even if he was twice her age, it wasn't illegal--Ginny had told her as such. But he was still her professor, and Hermione knew that Snape wouldn't see it that way. She didn't want him to shove her away. But at the same time, she didn't want to jeopardize anything for him--not when he was on the line and she knew people were looking for any excuse to hate him.

She knocked on the door.

"Enter."

She walked in, and was confused to see Gregarson in the class as well. She was standing on one side of his desk, and she looked absolutely furious. She was tapping her foot, and one hand rested delicately on her curvy hip. Her perfect hair bounced with each tap.

"Pull up a chair, Miss Granger," he ordered coldly. His voice was cutting; icy.

Her heart leapt into her throat against and start pounding there.

Shakily, she put a chair in front of his desk. Surely Snape would not embarrass her in front of Gregarson and call attention to the fact they fancied each other? Hermione had a suspicion what this was about, but ignored it.

When she sat down, he delicately put a parchment in front of her. She glanced down at it.

Professor Severus Snape

Good Qualities

Honesty

Brave

Intelligent

Tender, gentle--see potion brewing abilities

Determined

Creative

Patient (with potions)

Mysterious (I suppose it's good)

Caring

Good with words

Funny (albeit dryly and sarcastically)

Control over emotions (good with Occlumency)

Introspective

Lovely penmanship

Unfavourable Qualities

Capricious

Impatient (with students)

Holds grudges

Taunts

Favours (most professors do, however, but with Harry)

Mean

After a few second, Snape turned the paper around, and although she knew what it said (she had read it several times, after all, and added to it every chance she got) she read it again. She read about how Snape didn't have a good relationship with his father but seemed to adore his mother, she saw Gregarson's name circled, and she read over all the tidbits about him she had written down--that he liked to read, that his outlined his lips with his finger when deep in thought, but the sentence that her eyes kept getting drawn to was 'was/is? in love with Lily Potter née Evans.'

She wanted to die. She felt tears burning her eyes, and felt moisture drip down the side of her face.

Her heart nearly stopped when he placed the poem she had written for him.

With eyes intense like the darkest coal

That easily stare into my soul

A silky voice that lives in my mind

And the most elegant hands a girl can find

You capture my senses in a profound way

Leaving me without a word to say

Whatever I feel when I'm with you

Is more than what the rest could do

--Prof. M. S. Gregarson

"Who wrote this?" he asked quietly.

She looked into his eyes, and knew it was pointless to lie. He throat clogged up. It was over. Their stupid, horrible matchmaking scheme was over. It had been doomed to begin with, but now she was found out. She'd known it as soon as she'd seen Gregarson, but she had hoped she was wrong. "I did," she croaked.

He nodded jerkily, then snatched up both parchments, and shoved them in a drawer. His eyes remained on hers as he wordlessly took a parchment that Gregarson was handing him. He placed that in front of her, and without removing his eyes, asked; "And this?"

She couldn't talk. She wouldn't willingly bring Ginny into this, or anyone else. But when a image shimmered before her, an image of Ginny herself, laughing while she scribbled down on parchment, she knew it was too late--she knew Snape had performed Legilimency on her.

A cold, nauseating chill went down her spine as image after image spilled forth. And memory of Draco telling her how to get a note from Gregarson, so she could see her signature--Harry and Ron bending over a table with her while they wrote out their plan--Ginny and her discussing what Gregarson would like to hear in a letter--

The images stopped and she felt winded; violated. But she kept her mouth shut. Tears were spilling down her cheek silently, but she felt her jaw wobbling.

Snape's eyes never left hers, and she thought she saw them shimmering.

"Who wrote it, Hermione?" Gregarson demanded. Hermione tore her eyes from Snape's and looked into the azure eyes of her head of house. She didn't speak, just saw that Gregarson had tears falling down her face too. "Who did it? Who helped you write this?" she asked, her voice wavering.

"If Miss Granger indeed had help, she would never give away her accomplices," Snape revealed softly. "It is pointless to insist."

"This is outrageous, Hermione!" Gregarson shrieked shrilly, her suddenly loud voice, making her jump. "I would not have expected this from you! What game are you playing? What is this?" She grabbed the letter Ginny had written her, and shook it. "What is it?"

"I . . . I'm sorry . . . I didn't mean any harm," Hermione managed through her tears, trying to ignore how hurt Gregarson sounded.

"Well, you did! Who do you think you are? I, for one, am hurt, and astounded that you would--" Her voice broke off and more tears streamed down her face. Her free hand flew up to her face and covered her mouth. Hermione took in a shuddering breath when she realized that Gregarson was sobbing.

"Miss Gregarson, I--"

She removed her hand from her mouth to hold up a finger. "No. You don't get to talk. You have no idea what you did! This is not acceptable, do you understand me? Not acceptable!"

Hermione didn't think she could feel any worse than she did at that moment. She had reduced a grown woman to tears. Granted, it wasn't someone she really liked, but that didn't matter. As much as Hermione hated to admit it, Gregarson was a good teacher, and whether or not Hermione liked her, she couldn't deny that, nor could she deny that she was sobbing because of what her and her friends did. She didn't know why it was affecting Gregarson as much as it was, but that was no excuse.

She tossed the note down on desk, it floating gracefully to the surface. "You have no idea what I did--what I felt--what I thought--and all for some sick, twisted, childish game!"

"I didn't mean to hurt anyone," Hermione insisted again.

"You are a child, Hermione! Do you think us idiots? Do you honestly think so little of me and him that we wouldn't figure it out? That you insipid little matchmaking scheme would work? Who the hell do you think you are to make these decisions for us?"

Gregarson broke into fresh sobs when Hermione didn't' answer.

"Fifty points, do you understand me? Fifty points from Gryffindor, and you can have detention with Severus, because I refuse to look at your face! As far as I'm concerned, if you're not in my class, then you're nobody! Don't speak to me outside of my classroom, do you understand me? Do you?"

"Y-Yes," Hermione stammered, choking back a sob.

"Nobody knows what you did, do you get me? You tell anyone what happened, and I will make sure you are expelled! I'm embarrassed enough as it is, I don't need the staff--" She broke off in a strangled cry and both of her hands flew up to her face, covering it for a brief second. "Do you understand?"

"O-Of course."

With that, Gregarson stormed off, leaving Snape's classroom by slamming the door so loudly it made Hermione jump.

The ringing silence hurt Hermione's ears. When she met Snape's eyes with her own, she quickly wiped away her swelling tears. Hermione had never felt as low had she had when Gregarson burst into tears. Without meaning to, she had made her professor cry.

She sniffled, and tried to ignore the look Snape was giving her. His eyes were misty, but his face was a shade of brick red.

"Why?" he asked after a long silence, his voice cutting.

She opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out.

"Of all the times to quit your incessant prattling, you choose now?" She lowered her head and stared at the hands she had twisting in her lap. "Look at me."

She looked back up at him, and his eyes held her gaze.

"Do you have any idea the damage you've caused? Gregarson was under the impression I--" Apparently he couldn't bear to say what Gregarson had thought, but his mouth clamped shut. "I accused her of sexual harassment. I said horrible, cruel things to her--things that should have been directed at you."

If at all possible, Hermione felt worse.

"You manipulative know-it-all. How dare you? How dare you interfere in my life? Who are you to decide how I should run it?" He spoke through clenched teeth. "I've spent years as nothing but a puppet--to Dumbledore, to the Dark Lord--and you take it upon yourself to meddle."

It was like he was stabbing her in the gut.

"I told you things," he managed through clenched teeth, and she thought she saw his eyes water. "Everything I told you, everything I said, was part of your pathetic, insipid little scheme to push me into the arms of a woman who shared her bed with Sirius Black!" He stood up suddenly, slamming his hands down on the table. "How dare you? I told you things I had never told anybody--things that were personal--things that were private--and you--and you--"

She looked downward again, sucking in shuddering breaths, ignoring how flecks of spit flew from his mouth.

"Look at me!" he demanded.

She forced herself to stare up into his eyes, intimidated by his towering frame. "Every moment spent with you, every moment in this classroom, served as some part in your meddlesome game!"

"Sir, I didn't mean--"

"You are nothing but a child," he seethed. "You are nothing here. You are nobody. When you leave these halls, nobody will think of you as anybody but a bushy-haired know-it-all, and I thought that perhaps they were wrong to--I thought perhaps you were more than another face, another irritating student, someone who deserved praise, and I was wrong. You are nothing more than a precocious little girl who thinks she can run everyone's life. Perhaps it is because you have no handle on your own that you feel you can meddle with mine."

Hermione froze. Every word stung. It was like being smacked repeatedly. She wanted to die. She wanted the floor to swallow her up. Every syllable rung true to her ears, and each words twisted the knife he'd plunged into her gut more.

"You disgust me. You sicken me. You come in here, with the pretence of caring about my class, with the pretence of caring about this subject, all to get to know me. You pretended to care about what I told you--you slithered your way into my head, you forced me to trust you, you told me you cared but you--"

"That's not what happened at all!" she promised loudly. "I really care about you, sir, that's why I did this in the first place! I wanted you to be happy!"

"Silence!" he spat and leaned down. "You are nothing more than a little girl playing pretend. A little girl with a magnifying glass burning ants to pass the time. You have no idea the damage you've inflicted upon Gregarson. You've no idea the damage you've inflicted upon me."

"I never wanted to hurt you," she said weakly, sniffling.

He walked around his desk and grabbed her elbow, hoisting her out of the chair. He started leading her to the door, and she willingly followed, ignoring how his fingers bit into her arm. "You will return here Saturday, at eight am, for your detention. I am taking an additional forty points from your house, ten points for each person involved, and when you return to Gryffindor tower, tell Draco he is to see me immediately."

He tossed her out of his room and she stumbled, but she didn't fall. She saw the look on his face when he stood in the doorframe, glaring at her.

She saw the tear that streaked down his face.

And when he slammed the door shut, she burst into tears.


A/N--First of all, I would like to apologize for making you all wait as long as you have for this update. Second of all, I have planned thsi chapter from the very beginning. Although Gregarson is a blatant Mary Sue, this was important to the story--her backstory, I mean, and I have wanted to post this chapter for a very long time, to show you her mind. Everything that has been said about her so far was from someone else's point of view, and now that you have her side, I think you will appreciate the story a little bit more. I hope, anyway.