This will probably become a longer story, we'll see how much time and ideas I have. I don't yet if the story will involve any pairings but I can already say that Snape will not become involved with Harry or any other student.
Warnings: references to child abuse and (later) rape, Dumbledore bashing
The story takes place after 'Snape's Worst Memory'
A way out?
Harry slowly trudged down the corridor. It was almost dinnertime but he wasn't hungry. He knew that his friends were worried because he wasn't eating much and had become quiet but he couldn't bring himself to tell them about what had happened during his last Occlumency lesson; not only because he knew that Snape would have his hide for telling anyone but also because he couldn't bring himself to telling them the truth about his father. In addition he'd had yet another detention with Umbridge this afternoon which had got rid of the last of his hunger.
"Mister Potter?" McGonagall was surprised to see that seemed to be on his way towards the Astronomy tower instead of the Great Hall. She frowned when she saw how pale he was. During the last couple of days she had also noticed how withdrawn he'd become. She wondered if it had anything to do with Umbridge's attempts to discredit the poor boy and to prevent him from achieving his dream of becoming an Auror. "Mister Potter, a word regarding your latest Transfiguration homework."
Harry stopped, somewhat surprised to be spoken to. "Yes, Ma'am?" he asked carefully.
McGonagall allowed herself a small smile. "I was very impressed. I'm sure you'll be able to achieve sufficient grades to enter the Auror Programme after your graduation. After all you really take after your father."
Harry's eyes widened. "NO!" He whirled around and ran off before McGonagall could react. He'd always been proud when someone had compared him to his father but not anymore. Now that he knew that his father had been an arrogant bully, any such comparison made him feel badly.
McGonagall stared after him, surprised by his reaction but she quickly rallied. "Potter!" she called. She hurried after him but there was no trace of him. "Potter!"
"What has your Golden Boy done now, Minerva?" someone drawled from behind her.
"Severus," she sighed, "of course he hasn't done anything." She frowned. "Somehow he seems to be... troubled." She looked imploringly at her colleague. "Will you help me look for him?"
He sighed. "Alright. I'll help."
When he was walking through the corridors in search of the missing boy, he could only ask himself what had driven him to agree. It was bad enough that he always had to try and protect the boy, even when he was sabotaging him all the time with his reckless behaviour. Although he had to admit that trying to find him at night was easier than on a Saturday when all students where running around the castle.
He finally found the brat sitting in a mostly abandoned corridor. He frowned. "Mister Potter! What are you doing here?" he demanded to know.
Harry flinched, raising his hands to cover his head.
Snape growled. "Enough of this nonsense!" He grabbed his hand to pull him up. He quickly let go however when Harry flinched and whimpered. Seeing something red on his hand, he reached out again, this time to gently take hold of his wrist. "What has happened, Mister Potter?" he asked more quietly.
"D...detention with Um…Umbridge," Harry stammered, looking up at him fearfully. He hadn't had Potions since their last Occlumency lesson so this was the first time since then that the two of them had really interacted.
Now that he could get a good look at the brat's hand, Snape could see that the reddening of his hand formed words in the middle. 'I must not tell lies' was cut into the back on his hand. His gaze darkened. "She made you use a Blood Quill?" he hissed. When he saw Potter shrink back, he forced himself to calm down and to address him more gently. "Potter, are you aware that the Blood Quill is an illegal Dark object?"
Harry blinked up at him, slowly lowering his arms. "Illegal?" he repeated in a whisper.
"Exactly. It is therefore essential that a trained healer takes care of it and that Umbridge's deeds are reported to the responsible Departments of the Ministry," Snape explained as patiently as he could. He looked around. Luckily they were close enough to the dungeons that they could simply take the Floo from his office. "Come along, Potter."
Harry hesitated a moment, then followed. He wasn't sure of Snape's temper and intentions but figured that it would be better to comply for now, so he stumbled after him.
Snape slowed his steps somewhat when he noticed that the boy was having trouble keeping up but didn't stop. He didn't like the thought of a teacher hurting students. The question was just whether Potter was the only victim. There was a high number of students who'd had detention with Umbridge. The question was just why they hadn't informed another teacher. If one of his snakes had been hurt, they would have told him within the hour. He wanted to question the boy at once but he knew that first they needed to see a healer, both to take care of the wounds and to document the abuse.
When they reached his office, they both stopped, remembering the last time Harry had been here. Snape quickly shook himself out of it, however. He took out his floo powder. "We will travel through the floo at the same time. I don't trust you not to get lost." He waited for the boy to come closer, then took hold of his shoulder. "Gallagher's office, Asclepius' Hall," he said clearly, then they stepped through.
Harry blinked, looking around curiously. They were in a big office that seemed to double as examination room, judging from some of the things he recognized from the Hospital Wing.
"Severus, good evening. What brings you here?" an older man asked, rising from behind the desk.
Harry jumped, having overlooked the man who had been reading behind his desk. Now he regarded him carefully. He looked to be around McGonagall's age. Harry couldn't say for sure what colour his hair had originally been but the thing he noticed most were the kind brown eyes.
"Good evening, Iason," Snape replied. He carefully pushed Potter forwards. "I'm here because of one of my students."
The older wizard frowned. "A student? I've never known you to bring a student this late in the school year."
"It's not about abuse at home but abuse by a so-called teacher," Snape spat.
The other frowned. "I see." He turned to the student. "Well, I'm healer Gallagher, in case Professor Snape didn't tell you. Now, why don't you sit down and tell me what happened?"
Harry glanced at Snape briefly, then sat down on the indicated stool. "I...I had to use a Blood Quill in detention. Sn...Professor Snape said that's illegal?"
"It most certainly is." Gallagher reached for his hand, carefully looking it over. "How often did you have to use it?"
Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure. About a hundred to two hundred lines each detention and I've had detention at least once a week."
Both Gallagher and Snape looked stricken. "My boy, this is very bad. You see, prolonged exposure to such a dark object can negatively affect your health. If it's okay with you, I'll cast a general diagnosis spell to make sure you're not going to suffer any other aftereffects in addition to the spell that will document everything."
Harry nodded. "Sure, if you think that's better. But why does it have to be documented?"
Gallagher looked to Snape, silently asking him to step in. When he received a slight nod, he took out his wand and cast the necessary spells.
"Mr Potter, we need to document your injuries and then inform the Ministry so that Umbridge can be removed from Hogwarts. You know now that it was illegal what she did, so she will be punished. Additionally, now that Healer Gallagher and I know of the abuse, we are bound by law and in his case his healer oath to prevent her from hurting you again," Snape explained.
Gallagher was only partly listening, instead keeping an eye on the parchment where the results of the diagnosis charm where appearing. When more and more kept appearing, so much so that a second piece of parchment appeared, he started to worry. He took the first sheet and started reading. His frown grew stronger with every line. "Severus, a word please."
Snape looked up, surprised. He'd thought that they would almost be finished already. He went over to the other man. "What is it, Iason?"
"Were you aware that the boy you brought has been abused?" Gallagher asked.
Snape stared at him. Potter? Abused? "What are you talking about?"
Gallagher wordlessly gave him the parchment. While Snape started reading, he went to his young patient. "My boy, I have some questions about what the diagnosis spell showed me." He waited for the boy to nod. "It's about some of your older injuries."
Harry's eyes widened. When the healer had mentioned a diagnosis spell, he hadn't thought that it would show healed injuries as well. "O...older injuries?" he stammered nervously. "I... I don't know what you mean."
Gallagher smiled gently. "You don't have to lie to me, child." He considered how to approach the topic. "Do you know why Severus brought you to me?"
Harry slowly shook his head, eyeing him with distrust.
"My speciality is healing children, especially victims of abuse. That's how I know Severus. Every year, he has all his little snakes given a physical to ensure that none of them are being abused." He grinned conspiratorially. "It's rather well known among all wizarding families whose children might be sorted into Slytherin. Almost no one is stupid enough to abuse their child now because they all know that they will have to face Severus and will be reported to the Aurors and the Child Service of the Ministry."
The green-eyed boy was listening in disbelief but slowly found himself starting to hope. "Then what happens to the children?" he asked softly.
"Well, during the school year, they stay at Hogwarts of course. Luckily that mostly gives us enough time to find a place for the child. Sometimes there are other family members who are willing to take them in." Gallagher tapped his chin, seemingly in thought but kept looking at him out of the corner of his eye. "As for those who don't have family that can take them in – which is rather rare, given how most wizarding families are related. But if there really is no available family, then there are foster families who will take care of them."
Harry slowly slit forward until he sat at the edge of the stool. "So they're not sent to an orphanage?"
"Of course not. For a child, especially a child with magic, it is important to have a stable home. An orphanage can even have an adverse effect on them. It's also much easier in the wizarding world to find foster families. Most family have few or no children, so they're often eager to adopt. In the few cases where there is no potential foster family found, the children are sent to a summer school until the next school year begins," Gallagher answered.
Harry bit his lower lip, considering what he'd just learned. "What... what did you want to know about my injuries?"
"The diagnosis charm showed that the majority of the injuries were suffered before your first year at Hogwarts, starting around the age most wizards and witches first display accidental magic?" Gallagher said.
Harry nodded slightly. "Before they... they'd just ignore me," he admitted.
Gallagher frowned. "Neglected you, you mean, judging from what the spell showed me." He looked to Snape. "I just wonder why no one noticed."
"I might have an idea why," Snape said. "Potter, it says here that you broke your arm when you were eight?" he asked, more gently than Harry had ever heart him. He nodded once. "Would you be willing to let Healer Gallagher extract the memory and put it in a Pensieve so that we may see it? I have a suspicion what has happened."
Harry hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Okay."
Gallagher was curious what Snape was thinking but decided to wait. "Alright then. Try to concentrate on the memory of when that happened," he instructed. He lifted his wand to Harry's temple and gently extracted the memory. "There, done already."
"Are you ready to see the memory again and to let us see it?" Snape asked.
Harry nodded. "I'm ready." He also wanted to know why no one had noticed when there seemed to be measures to prevent abuse from happening to children in the wizarding world. He shyly glanced up at Snape. "I guess I also owe you a memory."
"We'll have to talk about your endless curiosity that always seems to lead you into trouble," Snape said, inclining his head to show that he accepted the unspoken apology. Then all three stepped closer to the pensieve.
They found themselves in Little Whinging, not far from Privet Drive. Gallagher and Snape looked around, curious what was about to happen.
Suddenly an eight-year-old Harry came running, followed by Dudley and his friends. "Get back here, Freak!" Dudley bellowed.
Little Harry ignored him and instead kept on running. Dudley might be much fatter than him but he was also taller and healthier, so they were quickly catching up to him. Trying to open the front door cost him more precious seconds. "Open, open, open, open," he chanted under his breath, unknowingly using his magic to open the lock.
It had still taken too long, however. The other boys had reached the door and Dudley pushed him through, making him hit the stairs hard. "Not nice, freak, running off like that," Dudley said. He grinned at his friends. "Time for some fun." With that the boys all launched themselves at Harry.
Harry did not even attempt to fight back, instead working his way towards his cupboard. Finally he managed to slip inside, unknowingly using his magic once again, this time to prevent the cupboard from being opened but not before receiving more bruises and lacerations. He rolled up on the floor of his cupboard, trying his best to ignore the yelling outside.
The next moment, Harry, Snape and Gallagher found themselves back in Gallagher's office. The two adults looked furious, something that quite surprised Harry. He was not used to adults disapproving of Dudley's 'Harry Hunting'.
Gallagher took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. "Why did you want to see this memory, Severus?"
"I was on Privet Drive that day to see for myself that everything was as it should be. As a... favour... to a friend." He shared a look with Gallagher that clearly told the healer who that friend was. "What I saw, however, was rather different." He reached for the pensieve. "If I may?"
"Of course," Gallagher said.
They waited for Snape to put the memory in the pensieve, then watched it as well. It was the same memory as the one they'd just seen – without the part inside the house, of course – but with one major difference: Harry's and Dudley's role was swapped.
"What... what does that mean? Why is your memory different?" Harry asked as soon as they were back in the office.
Snape sighed. "I regarded the runes around the house more closely this time. An illusion was added to the wards so that to anyone looking in, you would appear as your cousin and your cousin as you." He ran a hand through his hair. "I do not know if the spell is still in effect or if it was cancelled when you started school and there was a chance of someone visiting you. After that day, I never returned." He glanced at the boy, then admitted quietly. "I was convinced that you were like your father or worse and therefore tried not to think about you. Apart from planning how to deal with you, that is."
Harry stared up at him. "Do...do you mean that part of the reason you treated me the way you did was aimed at Dudley? I... I mean it's how you'd have treated my cousin?"
Snape nodded reluctantly. "Yes, it was mostly aimed at your cousin but also your father. I... have to admit that I let myself by blinded by my preconceived notions of your character." He did not like explaining himself or – God forbid – apologizing to a student but in this case it was definitely necessary.
"I understand," Harry said and he really did. He could only imagine how he'd react to a Dudley lookalike who also acted like him, no matter how old he'd be. What was more, Snape had always tried to protect him and had even got him help for what Umbridge had done, something no other teacher had done. "But what will happen now?"
"Well, additionally to the statement about these... detentions we'll also need a statement concerning your home life." Seeing Harry's stricken expression, Gallagher explained. "I know it will be hard for you. But it's the only way to ensure that you will never have to return."
Harry shook his head. He couldn't tell them. Not only was he afraid of what his uncle would do if he found out but he also didn't want to admit how weak he was. "It...it's fine. I'll...I'll manage."
"Now, listen, young man. It is most certainly not fine. No child should be neglected or abused in any way," the healer said sternly. Then he smiled and continued gently: "Besides, your professor already explained to you that once he and I learned of the abuse, we are bound to report it."
"But Professor Dumbledore just sent me back," Harry said.
The two adults froze. "Are you saying, Mister Potter, that the headmaster is aware of what those Muggles did to you?" Snape demanded to know.
Harry shrank back, seeing his anger but not being able to understand the reason. Still, knowing his potions professor, he forced himself to nod slightly.
"I don't believe him! Who does that bastard think he is? That-"
"Severus!" Gallagher interrupted sharply. "I share your anger but this is not the time!" He glanced meaningfully at Harry who'd shrunk back even more and was staring at Snape in fear.
Snape took a deep breath, trying to calm down, but found that he was too agitated. He'd had to grow used to the fact that Dumbledore didn't seem to care what happened to the students in Slytherin but that the same held true for his golden boy... Lily, if only you knew what has happened to your son! You'd certainly make them regret it. He looked at Gallagher. "Can you please explain it to him? I need to... to take a moment."
Gallagher nodded, smiling sadly. "Of course, Severus. Take your time." He waited for the other man to leave the room, then turned to Harry. "It's alright now, child, he's not angry with you." He pulled his own chair closer to the boy. "Is it okay if I sit here? What I'm going to tell you now might take a bit." Only when Harry hesitantly nodded did he sit down. "As I said, it is not you Severus and I are angry at but your headmaster. You see, you are not the first child he has sent back even though he knew very well that they'd be abused, that the abuse might even cause permanent magical or physical damage – beside the psychological damage every abuse causes, that is. Severus is pretty much alone in his fight against abuse at Hogwarts. The other teachers cannot imagine that it is happening and that Dumbledore is not doing anything. That's why Severus brings all his first years here at the beginning of each term." He considered the boy who was looking at him, listening closely to his words. "Do you know how I met Severus?"
Harry shook his head. Until today, he hadn't even known that his potion teacher personally knew a healer. He had no idea how they might have met.
"You see, almost twenty years ago, there was a series of articles in a potion journal concerning an improvement of a number of healing potions and salves, written by a young Hogwarts graduate. Like many other professionals, both healers and potioneers, I was impressed that a young man, having barely finished school, had managed to do that. As a healer specialising in abused children, I knew that there was only one possible reason why a young man – potion prodigy or not – would concentrate on improving healing potions: he needed stronger potions for either himself or someone close to him. So I decided to contact him, hoping he'd agree to meet me and hopefully reveal who he'd made the potions for."
Gallagher leaned back, remembering the first time he'd met a young Severus Snape. "When he came to see me, it was quickly apparent to me that I had been right. Within the first five minutes I was reasonably sure that he had invented and improved the potions for himself. It took a while for him to confide in me but he finally admitted that he had been abused by his Muggle father ever since he started displaying magic, much like you. His mother tried to shield him as much as possible but since she'd sworn an Unbreakable Vow to never use magic in their house, there wasn't much she could do.
"Being sorted into Slytherin meant that not only did he have to face abuse at home but also in school. Students of the other houses, especially Gryffindors, were always eager to play tricks on Slytherins, particularly students like Severus who were outsiders due to their blood status. He never told me what exactly happened during his school years but I know that at least once he almost died due to a so called prank – and judging from the scars it really was a close call – but there was no punishment meted out to the other students. Dumbledore knew that he'd almost been killed and he found out then that he was being abused at home but he did nothing. That's why he's more sensitive to the topic of abuse and especially to covering it up like Dumbledore seems to like doing."
Harry had to do his hardest not to stare at Gallagher with his mouth hanging open. All the information was whirling around in his head. Dumbledore had already ignored other students in need of help. Snape was a half-blood. Snape had been abused. Snape – abused. It was the last thought in particular that he had trouble accepting. Not that he didn't believe Gallagher but it was difficult for him to image his potions professor, someone he only knew as a powerful, sarcastic, strong adult, being abused by a Muggle father. But then again, hadn't he also been abused by his Muggle family?
"I hope you understand that I ask you to keep this information to yourself?" Gallagher asked after a moment.
Harry looked at him, still a bit overwhelmed. "I don't think anyone would believe me." Not to mention that Snape would kill him.
Gallagher laughed. "Yes, looking at him today, it is more difficult to see. Now, I told you about it for two reasons: first of course so that you understand why he is so angry right now." He regarded Harry carefully, seeing the understanding in his eyes. "The second reason is so that you can see that not only are there people who understand what you're going through right now but also that you can heal, that you are still strong." He grinned. "Or would you call Severus weak?"
Harry quickly shook his head. Definitely not. He'd never ever consider calling or even thinking of him as weak. He was strong, even though he'd been abused. He stopped suddenly. 'Strong even though he'd been abused.' Didn't...didn't that mean that he also was not weak?
The healer had carefully watched Harry, trying to read his emotions and thoughts. "You are thinking the right thing, Harry. You are not weak. It takes a very strong person to get through such abuse, especially for a wizarding child."
Harry considered him. "Thank you," he finally said softly.
There was knock on the door, then Severus entered. A quick look at Potter showed him that Iason had told him everything, even without the healer nodding once. "Thank you, Iason. Mister Potter, I hope Healer Gallagher was able to assure you that I was not angry with you a moment ago?"
Harry nodded timidly. "Yes, sir."
"Alright. Then Healer Gallagher will take your statements and heal you as much as he can in one go. I understand that it will be difficult for you to talk about it at all, not the mention in my presence, but as your teacher, I have a reduced form of guardianship over you and are therefore required to be present," Snape explained.
Harry took a deep breath. "Alright. Let's...let's get it over with."
"Just one last thing first," Gallagher said. "Given what the diagnosis spell showed me, taking your statement will take some time, so I believe it would be better for you to take some of your healing potions before. Like this, they can start healing you while we speak. Is that okay with you?" Seeing Harry nod, he continued "Furthermore you will need more potions and healing spells a few hours from now so if you two agree, I suggest you stay here tonight."
Harry hesitated. On the one hand he didn't want to have to return to Hogwarts now where he'd have to see Umbridge and be questioned by his friends but he also didn't want to burden Snape or Gallagher. "I didn't know it was possible to stay at St. Mungos overnight without being admitted as a patient," he said to play for time.
"For one, you are a patient. Also, you are not at St. Mungos but at Asclepius' Hall," Gallagher said.
"Asclepius' Hall?" Harry echoed. He'd never heard of it.
"It's also a magical hospital, not unlike St. Mungos but Asclepius' Hall is an international hospital, meaning that it is not as dependant on the Ministry," Gallagher explained.
"Oh," Harry said. It seemed Gallagher was not about to explain further but he still was not sure if he should stay.
"Mister Potter," Snape said, pulling him out of his thoughts, "It is not unusual for a child to have to stay overnight here and it's not the first time that I've stayed with them. If you do not have to return then I suggest we stay."
The boy nodded. "Then... then I'll stay."
Snape nodded in satisfaction. It seemed that Potter did have some sense left in him. "Iason, may I use your floo to inform my Slytherins that I will be gone the night?"
"Of course, Severus," Gallagher said. "Now, Harry, here I have a nutrition potion that will start to help you develop the way you should have and another that will start to strengthen and heal your bones."
Snape ignored the further explanations and went to the fireplace. "Slytherin common room," he said. He had to wait a moment but then the head of one of his third years appeared in the fire. "Good evening, Miss Greengrass. I need to speak to one or both of the prefects."
"Of course, professor. I'll call them at once," the young girl replied quickly.
It took not long for Draco Malfoy's head to replace Greengrass'. "Yes sir?"
"I will not be at Hogwarts tonight. Still, I expect all Slytherins to behave as if I were. You and Miss Parkinson will be held responsible otherwise." He waited for Malfoy to confirm that he would do so, then continued: "Now I have a question to you: Were you aware that Umbridge uses Blood Quills during her detentions?"
Malfoy paled. "Blood Quills?" It was not so much that they were illegal – something that most Slytherin students would not really care about. It was the forced spilling of blood, something even Deatheaters would not like to happen to children, especially their own, since blood had many magical properties and could be used in potions and for spells that could control or otherwise harm a wizard. What was more, Snape had somehow caused it to be frowned upon among the pureblood families that had students in Slytherin to have them face any kind of abuse. The thought of a blood quill being used in detention would cause quite a few parents to get really angry. "I had no idea, uncle," he said, not really noticing that he'd used the more familiar form of address in his shock.
"I believe you, Draco. I also know that you are generally intelligent enough to avoid detention, especially Umbridge, but I still want you to make sure that no student in Slytherin has had detention with her," Snape said, a bit more gently.
Malfoy frowned. If that cow dared to use it on one of their own then there would be hell to pay. "I'll make sure everyone's safe."
Snape nodded in satisfaction. "Good. I'll return tomorrow morning. Umbridge's days at Hogwarts are numbered."
"I hope so," Malfoy said. "Good night then, professor." When his godfather's head vanished from the flames, he went to the middle of the common room. "Listen up, everyone!" He waited for everyone to gather, then continued: "Professor Snape is away for the night, so if there is any problem, you can go see him tomorrow or come to me or Pansy."
"Did you say where he went?" a third year asked.
"He didn't but it most likely has to do with the fact that he found out that Umbridge is using a Blood Quill on students in detention. Has anyone here had detention with her or knows of another Slytherin who had?"
Everyone shook their head, struck speechless by the news. But then a little first year stepped forward. "Um, Mister Malfoy?"
"Yes, Miss Urran?" Malfoy asked carefully.
"It's...it's Amela. Amela Fairholm. She was given detention today because she argued when Umbridge wanted to give her friend Kilham detention," Urran said. "She's in detention now."
Malfoy frowned. "I'll take care of it." Then he smirked. "Meanwhile, I think it has been a while since we wrote to our families about what is happening at Hogwarts. For those who don't have a familiar to carry letters, let those with parents on the Board of Governors or at the Ministry send their letters first." With that, he hurriedly left the room.
Amela and her friend Andrea were sitting in Umbridge's office. After receiving a dressing down for their "transgressions", they'd been told to write one hundred lines each. At first they'd been surprised – they'd both heard how bad her detentions were but this didn't sound too bad – but they'd quickly learned what was so bad. They'd barely managed the first three lines and were already crying. They flinched when there was a knock on the door, not wanting someone to see them crying over their detention. She glanced up, however, when she heard the voice of one of her prefects.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, Professor Umbridge, but I was told that Miss Fairholm and Miss Kilham are with you," Malfoy said.
Umbridge cleared her throat. "Yes, they are having a detention."
Malfoy looked apologetic. "I understand. But I was sent by Professor Snape to get them because they were supposed to be in detention with him ten minutes ago." He noticed out of the corner of his eyes how Fairholm stopped her friend from contradicting. "I'm not sure what he had planned but it seems it has to be tonight. Would it be possible that they have their detention with you tomorrow?"
"Detention on both days of the weekend?" Umbridge smirked. "Yes, that should teach them respect. Very well, I will make an exception this one time." She looked at the two girls. "You will be having the rest of your detention with me tomorrow at 9am."
"Y-Yes, ma'am. Thank you," Amela forced herself to say, then elbowed Andrea to remind her to do the same. Then they quickly followed Malfoy out of the room.
"But... but Mister Malfoy, we don't have detention with Sn...Professor Snape today," Andrea said when they were outside.
Malfoy steered them towards the Slytherin common room. "I know but I needed a reason to get you out of detention with that toad." He noticed with amusement how Kilham gaped at him at his words. "Professor Snape has found out about her use of Blood Quills on students and asked me to ensure that no else suffered it."
"You...you mean we won't have to use it again tomorrow?" Amela asked.
Malfoy snorted. "I doubt Umbridge will have authority over anyone come morning, never mind students." Having arrived in the common room, he looked around. "Is Miss Hoe here?"
A seventh year will short brown hair came down the stairs from the girl dormitories. "Yes? Is something the matter?"
"You're starting an apprenticeship at Asclepius' Hall, right?" Malfoy asked.
Hoe nodded. "Yes, Malfoy. I did an internship there last summer and will start my apprenticeship as soon as possible."
"Can you then have a look at their hands? When I reached Umbridge's office, they'd already started using the Blood Quills," Malfoy said.
Hoe frowned. "Of course." She smiled at the girls. "Want to sit in front of the fire place or would you prefer the dormitories." She pretended to consider something. "Although if we went upstairs, you might be able to play with my Kneazles. You see, she had young a few weeks ago so I can't promise that she'll want to play but we can give a try. What do you say?"
Amela and Andrea nodded shyly.
"Just a moment, Miss Kilham," Malfoy said. "You are a Gryffindor, correct?"
Andrea nodded hesitantly. "Yes?"
"When does your Head of House check if everyone is in dormitories? Just so I know until when she has to be informed where you are."
Andrea looked confused. "Why would she check?" She tilted her head. "I don't think I've only once seen McGonagall in the common room."
Malfoy and Hoe exchanged surprised looks. Snape always made sure that they were in their dorms and being quite so that they'd get enough sleep.
"Well, then how about you stay here tonight?" Hoe said. "You can consider it while I have a look at your hand. Now, let's go upstairs, alright?"
Malfoy breathed a sigh of relief when they'd left. Hoe would take care of the two girls. At least today there would be no further pupils suffering under Umbridge, at least apart from whoever Snape had found out from.
Unbeknown to him, up in the Gryffindor Tower two red-heads were laying in the same bed, curtains closed and a silencing spell put up so that no one would notice their tears while they cradled their left hands.