CHAPTER ELEVEN: Simmering Disposition
Disclaimer & Story Warnings: The characters and the world of the HARRY POTTER universe belong to JKR. The plot is mine. This story plot is rated MATURE. If you are not 18 years or older, this story is not for you. You have been warned!
"Missy be working too hard," Snarky complained several days later as Hermione set aside her quill and went to the table for lunch that the house elf had just brought her.
"I have only three more days to remember everything I can of those ingredients and Professor Snape is still sending me the homework to grade, so I can't waste a moment," Hermione replied as she sat at the table and looked over the muggle fish and chips with a smile. It was one of her favorites that she missed terribly when she was in the wizarding world, and how Snarky had found out about it, she didn't know. "How did you know that I liked Fish and Chips?" she asked, pouring a drizzle of malt vinegar over the whole plate before shaking a goodly amount of pepper into her ketchup and stirred it with a fry. A neat little trick her father had once showed her as it gave a even amount of pepper instead of the seasoning just falling off the food.
"Snarky be asked to make Missy feel at home as much as possible while she is here. So Snarky did research on Missy to find out what she could do to make things more pleasant for Missy," Snarky said, emptying Hermione's nearly full waste basket by the desk with a snap of her fingers. "Snarky got permission from Headmistress to leave the school and observe Missy's family in secret to find ways to make Missy comfortable. So Snarky be overhearing Missy's parents exclaim how much Missy always liked this muggle dish that they had been enjoying when Snarky be observing on Wednesday," Snarky answered.
Hermione dropped her piece of fish and looked at Snarky, a desperate look of longing on her face. "You've seen my parents? Are they well? Did you happen to also see my familiar, my cat, Crookshanks?" she asked, her words tumbling out in a rush of excitement at the idea of hearing any news of her family.
"Snarky didn't see any problems while she be there listening, Missy. Other than Missy's parents saying how much they missed Missy. Snarky briefly saw Missy's familiar but Snarky had to keep clear because Missy's familiar is half Kneazle and he knew Snarky was near. Missy's Familiar looked a bit fat but happy, Snarky observed," the little elf said.
Hermione sighed as she picked up her piece of food, feeling sad yet happy to hear news about her family and her beloved pet. She ate her food for a few moments before her momentary loneliness made her think of what had happened with the wall a few days before. She looked at Snarky who was busy checking the wall of books for any dust before deciding that it wouldn't hurt to ask the elf what she might know. "Snarky, something happened a few days ago that I've never witnessed at Hogwarts before. I was feeling a bit lonely and heard the crowd of students through the door that leads to the stairwell. I was leaning against it to listen, and suddenly the door grew warm and when I drew back it was like the door and the wall to the corridor had vanished. It scared me to death for a moment because I thought some of my old wild magic might have flared up and I thought I would be heading back to Azkaban when I was noticed, yet I wasn't. I touched where the door was and was shocked and saw the ripple of the wards. I could see out into the stairwell but no one could see me. Has this ever happened before?" Hermione asked, picking up another piece of the chips and taking a bite.
Snarky walked over and observed Hermione with a satisfied smirk. "Missy be tapping into the Castle, that is what happened with Missy a few days ago. We house-elves don't see it often but sometimes certain witches and wizards can tap into the magic of the castle if they have affinity. It being old magic, Missy," Snarky said.
Hermione asked, "So it's like the magic that opened the room of requirement before the fiend fyre destroyed it?" she asked.
"Missy be getting the idea, but the Magic that be building this old castle is very strong and works in many different ways. Missy be having an affinity with the castle and if Missy tries to grow this then Missy will experience many other things at Hogwarts," Snarky answered simply.
"Is there any information, books or anything that I can study about this?" Hermione asked.
"No Missy, not that Snarky knows; but Missy can talk to Professor and learn about it. Professor has same affinity," Snarky replied
Hermione's eyes grew a bit as she took this in. "Professor Snape you mean?"
"Yes Missy, Professor Snape knows much about affinity to Hogwarts Castle. For as long as Snarky be knowing Professor she notice affinity," Snarky responded. Suddenly said, "Snarky is needed. Missy finish lunch and Snarky be back later with Dinner," the elf said before disappearing with a pop!
Hermione finished her meal, casting contemplative glances at the walls and windows around her. As soon as she finished her food she went back to the desk and forced herself to focus on the work and promised herself later she would devote some time to researching magical affinities with old institutions and locations such as Hogwarts.
"What took you so long?" Snape asked as soon as Snarky appeared with a pop. His words might have sounded harsh but his tone was mild as he shifted a pile of homework to the front of his desk while he searched for another. Not even letting the elf reply he went on to say, "Please see the Headmistress at her earliest convenience and inform her I will not be present at dinner tonight. I have projects from the seventh years to grade before heading out to the forest to gather some supplies for my stores. Several of which can only be harvested between the hours of eleven and one," he explained. He then pointed to the stack of papers at the front edge of his desk and said, "Please drop those with Miss Granger on your way, for grading."
Snarky hefted the stack of parchment into her little arms and said, "Snarky will inform headmistress and give work to Missy right away. Will Missy be needing to be ready for walk too Sir? She be needing fresh air and company," Snarky said.
Snape frowned and gave the elf a disquieting look. "Miss Granger will not be accompanying me this evening as the work I will be doing is time sensitive and is best done without irritating questions disturbing my concentration. Besides she only has a few more days to brush up on the information I set her to learn. I daresay in her spare time that her beloved company of books will distract her from any pangs of loneliness for a few days."
Snarky frowned in return and looked him in the eye saying , "Headmistress wanted Professor to keep good eye on Missy and see that she is happy as can be in the circumstances Missy be in. Missy is lonely and needs company, Sir," Snarky stated adamantly.
Snape sneered at the elf after he finally located what he was looked my for. "And just what makes you think I care? Miss Granger is here under punishment for breaking wizarding laws. This is not a garden party for endless leisurely strolls through the trees or under the stars. Furthermore I have spent my entire adult life laboring under old fools and risking my neck which in fact got me killed! Now that I am brought back to this world, my only wish is to finally devote some of my precious time to my own pursuits and to the betterment of potioneering!" He exclaimed, his words ending with menace dripping heavily.
Snarky, unfazed, glared at Snape and replied, "Sir needs reminding again that he is only alive because Missy risked her life and freedom to make it so. Sir should also recognize that Missy is very much like Sir in many ways and if he would only swallow his pride he be seeing that missy may be young but Missy is very much an equal to Sir's love of learning and would be the perfect person for Sir to befriend and talk about Sir's work!...Snarky will do errands for Sir now," the elf said with her own firmness. She gave him a steely eyed looked, never blinking, before finally snapping her fingers and disappearing with a pop.
Severus threw himself down in back down in his chair-not realizing he had risen- tempted to call Snarky back and give her clothes so she would shut up and leave him be. He had always liked Snarky since she was first assigned to him in his early years of teaching at Hogwarts. She was always a very brave elf and very independent in how she spoke to him and the rest of the staff; it was one of the reasons he agreed to her services since he loathed the nose to the floor-soppy kind of elfs one came across most of the time. But never in all the years of her devoted service had she dared talk back or bully him as she was doing now; much less sticking up for another person such as Hermione Granger.
Scowling, Snape realized he was cutting it close for his last class of the day so he gathered the homework that Hermione had graded and swept out of his rooms.
Hours later Snape listened through the hidden door, on the other side appeared as part of the stone walls just outside the great hall near the gargoyle. Hearing nothing he carefully walked forward as the doorway appeared and then it vanished as soon he had stepped through. He looked around at the empty hallway, hearing the loud clamor of the students that we're currently at and through the massive doors, he stepped up to the gargoyle and whispered the password to enter the Headmistress's office.
As soon as he entered he turned to see his old Headmaster looking at him curiously. He ignored the other portraits and summoned Minerva's chair before seating himself and scowling at the twinkly eyes of Albus Dumbledore. "Good Evening Severus. It assume it this is to be a private meeting between the two of us? Minerva did not inform me I should expect a visit from you." Dumbledore remarked, getting the conversation started. He knew his young friend well and knew openings usually began faster if he spoke up first instead of letting Snape stew.
"Yes it will be private," he said eyeing the nosy older headmasters portraits who were not even bothering to pretend they were not listening. "Bugger off!" He said, feeling satisfaction that they did as he was told and walked out of their portraits if they could, and feigned sleep if not. Turning back to Albus he cleared his throat before speaking. "I am having…an issue …with my forced association with Miss Granger. Not only did she save my life, I am now under yet another life-debt because her actions. Minerva and that blasted sycophant of an elf are now hounding me day and night. 'Keep a close eye on her', 'make sure she eats well and recovers', 'give her something to do', 'don't over work her', 'take her for walks for fresh air', 'be nice to her', 'you have so much in common, be her friend'…" He said, every word said with a sneer marring his features.
Albus studied him for a moment. Trying to see through the 'angry dungeon bat' persona, into the real meaning behind Severus being so upset. Albus was pretty sure he knew exactly what was going on with the potions professor but he would have to tread carefully to help Snape understand and accept the depth of his own feelings, without Snape ignoring them and continuing to push his own emotions down deep as he was known to do. "Severus, why did you take the antidote?" He asked calmly.
Severus just stared, only a slight widening of his eyes showing his surprise at this question, not seeing where this could be going. He thought that about it quietly for what seemed hours but was only minutes as Albus waited with all the patience in the world. "I didn't want to die…like that. Bitten by that psychopaths bloody snake is not how I should have died after everything I did to bring Voldemort and his ilk to their end," he said. "But I sure as Merlin didn't expect to live. I was suppose to have died, perhaps by some wayward curse during the full-on battle after shoving my true allegiance in that mad man's face," he added quietly, almost wistfully, but with a note of certainty and loathing in his voice.
Albus sighed. "What makes you think that you should have died at all? What is so wrong with living, as you chose to do?"
Severus scowled and sat back against the chair, closing his eyes while he fought the urge to leave. Opening his eyes he stared Albus down, "After everything I did in my role as a spy, on his orders and on yours, why should I be allowed to live while so many others have died? I've murdered women, men and children in the most horrible ways imaginable. Slaughtered innocent creatures and beings...and despite all that, I've received pardon from the ministry and an order of Merlin, all because the horrors I rent on the world helped the light win. No matter if it was for war, I did horrible things and I don't deserve to live," Severus replied, his eyes glinty with the obvious self hatred that he was feeling.
"Severus, you are wrong. There is a difference between what one does for the sake of good, to win a war, and what one does outside of war. War itself is horrible and should not take place, but when innocent people are killed on the whim of a mad_man and his prejudiced followers, it is incumbent upon those who cherish life, freedom and justice to stand up and do what they must to bring such evil to heel. There have been countless wars both in the wizarding world and the muggle one, each war fought in its own way. It is more than unfortunate that for our war, you and others were put in such positions as you were, as a means to end it. Your role, it was and will always be my sorrow for placing you in it, was as a spy behind the lines. I placed you there as much as you placed yourself. You did what needed to be done and no one, not even yourself should be allowed to condemn your actions.
"Now you need to decide if you will honor those who have died in pursuit of the light by living a happy and full life, or if you will waste your life by wallowing in your self hatred. I am not and will never tell you to forget what has been done, but as a friend I ask that you make what you can of your life. Yes, you were given a second chance by Miss Granger's actions, one no one else got. Stop taking your anger over all that has happened on the one young woman who risked her own freedom to bring you yours. I suggest you not waste it," Albus said, not even blinking as he watched these words sink in and waited to see how Severus would respond.
Severus scowled. "If I were to choose my own happiness, it would not include watching over Miss Granger. She is a young, insufferable know-it-all. Because I will be in charge of her incarceration, I cannot look for a suitable assistant or apprentice because it would risk her exposure and as stupid as she was for doing what she did, she does not deserve fifteen years in Azkaban. Now I am forced to accept her help on my private research, not that she will be able to do much without her wand besides the grunt work; note taking, research and preparation of ingredients. I will do this because I have no other choice and because I am beholden to her for the life-debt. But I still don't see why everyone is clobbering me with such non-sense as, we have so much in common, to try and be her friend!" He said, the last work spat out like it was wholly disgusting.
Albus cocked his head to the side and thought carefully over his words. "Severus, please explain why you dislike her so much if you will. I am at a loss as to why you object to her so deeply," Albus said. Before Severus could answer with more scathing words Albus went on "Miss Granger, though Muggleborn, is an exceptional young woman. Yes, she was over enthusiastic in her younger years, striving to prove herself, but do you truly see wrong in how she was then? She is an academic. She was thrown into an unknown world where the majority of the people she fell in with knew the way of our world without thinking about it. She worked harder than any student in many years trying to ensure that she closed the gap between her muggle life before and the opening of the wizarding world and academia before her. Not only did she do well, she surpassed most students in her determination to fit in and learn. And she did all that while helping keep Harry, Ron and herself alive through all the bad things that happened to them up until the end of the war," Albus stated, before leaning forward and pinning Severus with a stern look.
"Whom does she remind you of? I can think of two such talented students that she very much resembles even though her path may not have been the same. Can you not guess whom she reminds you of? That is why you are so bothered by her. Who she reminds you of bothers you, and that is understandable given your past." Albus answered kindly.
"I assume you mean Lily as one, but who on Merlin's grave do you think the other person is?" Severus asked, sneering to cover his confusion and the fact he had no idea whom else Miss Granger could possibly remind him of.
Albus smiled, his eyes twinkling as he replied "Why, she is very much like you were, in her own way, Severus. She may have had some different reasons and much different circumstances but she did behave much like you. Striving for excellence in trying circumstances. For those reasons I suggest you meditate on our conversation, everything I have told and explained to you. Put yourself if her shoes as well," Albus suggested.
Severus scowled and left without another word. But despite the outward demeanor he had showed, on the inside his thoughts were in a roil of Miss Granger, Lily, life, death and his own years upon entering Hogwarts and the wizarding world.
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