I run a hair through my hair, groaning.
What was I thinking cutting it this short? Was I even thinking at all?
I look at the schedule in my other hand, realizing I have five classes until the end. And then the rest of the day will be spent in the library studying, trying to catch on everything I've missed.
A month is a lot of time.
And I've been back only for a week. There's too much of school work ahead of me. At least the teachers have all been very understanding.
I turn around, "Oh, hi, Ron."
"Come on, we'll be late for Potions," he hurries me down the stairs.
"Don't know, he said he'll meet us there."
"Why that face, Mione?" he asks, "Aren't you glad you're back? We missed you."
I smile, "You missed me because there was no one else to help you with your homework."
He blushes a bit, "Well, that was a reason too, but - "
"Oh, save it, Ron. And hurry, I don't want to be late."
"Snape?" Harry whispers, "What is he doing here?"
I roll my eyes, "It's Professor Snape, Harry."
There is a dead silence in the classroom. All students are surprised that there is Snape standing in front of them instead of Professor Slughorn.
"Professor Slughorn is currently unavailable," Snape speaks, his voice cutting through the whole classroom, "Therefore, you are stuck with me."
I listen patiently.
Snape's eyes move over each student carefully, but strangely enough he ignores me. He looks at Harry and Ron, his gaze remaining there for a couple of long seconds and then he jumps over me and continues with Neville, giving him a cold glare.
"You will be brewing Hiccoughing Solution, nothing too complicated," he sneers, "Begin now."
Everyone starts gathering ingredients.
No one dares to speak.
"No," I whisper, "Add one clockwise stir. One, Neville. One."
I sigh, sweat forming on my forehead. I wipe it off with my hand, moving closer to Neville who was panicking by now.
"It's alright," I say quietly to him, "It's not ruined yet."
And then I raise my head up, looking at Professor Snape who is sitting behind his desk going through some papers.
I lean closer to Neville, "Wait for a minute then start stirring again."
Looking at Snape's desk again, I find myself staring directly into his eyes.
And he's looking at me too.
He knows I'm helping Neville.
Biting my lower lip in fear, I wait for the punishment, but it never comes.
He simply looks down at his papers again.
What just happened?
"Hermione," Neville whispers nervously, "What do I do now?"
It takes a long moment before I pull myself together.
"Um, just stir it clockwise. Once," I repeat, feeling a bit strange.
Something isn't right.
A few minutes pass.
"Hermione, it's turning blue. It shouldn't be turning blue," Neville whispers, his voice shaking.
"You probably - " I start.
"Professor, Granger is helping Longbottom," Draco Malfoy calls out from behind us, "She's been helping him from the very start."
I turn around, noticing the smirk on Malfoy's face.
"Mind your own business, Malfoy," Ron comes to my defence.
"Silence," Snape finally speaks.
I look at him, blushing a bit.
But then he does not say anything.
I stare at him, raising my eyebrows, expecting a detention or something.
"Leave," is the only word that leaves his mouth.
"W-What?" I ask quietly.
"Out. All of you," he snaps, "The lesson is over. Out."
We do not need to be told twice.
We quickly gather our things and leave the classroom immediately.
"What was that, Hermione?" Harry asks as we walk up the stairs.
"I-I don't know," I answer truthfully.
"When has Snape ever hesitated before giving a detention to any of us?"
I shake my head, not knowing what to say.
"And that Malfoy," Ron joins the conversation, "Always has to butt in."
Harry and Ron keep on talking, expressing their surprise over Snape's behaviour and anger over Draco's, but I don't listen to them anymore.
I have other questions on my mind.
What is going on?
Why is Professor Snape acting strange?
I can't pretend not to see it anymore. Ever since I came back he's been looking at me, acting strangely around me. Last week I handed him my essay, apologizing why I was late and our fingers touched for the slightest of seconds. It's all it took for him to flinch away from me, my essay falling on the floor.
I sigh, pushing those thoughts out of my mind.
I have too much work ahead of me to lose my precious time with things like that.
"Hermione, can you hand me that piece of bread?" Ron asks, leaning over the table.
I stare at him, waiting for the magic word.
"Please?" he adds, smiling.
I can't say no to that.
A weak smile forms on my lips and I hand him his precious bread.
"Hermione," he suddenly becomes serious, "What is that on your wrist?"
I look down, noticing an ugly scar on the inside of my wrist.
"What happened?" Ron asks.
"I just...tried to pick up pieces of broken mirror. And I guess I...had an accident," I answer, lost in my thoughts.
"I don't really remember much. That whole month is a bit confusing to me. My mother's illness, the stress. It was a hard time for me," I explain, still observing the scar on my wrist.
There are many other scars as well.
Scars I remember getting, but there is still that strange feeling.
Like something isn't right.
"I'm late for Transfiguration," I say to myself as I hurry down the hall.
I really should not have studied all night.
Before I even realize what is happening I bump into something hard.
I look up, noticing a very angry Professor Snape.
"I am so sorry, Sir, I-I wasn't looking!"
"I thought as much," he sneers, then backs away from me a bit.
Why is he doing this?
Why is he moving away from me?
Does he think I don't notice these things?
"The next time use the eyes the mother nature has given you and look where you are going," he says coldly and then he's gone.
I stand there for a few more moments.
My heart is beating loudly.
There are some strong emotions inside of me.
Emotions I can't explain.
Emotions that are not very logical.
What is happening to me?
Harry looks around, making sure we are alone in the Common room.
"Do you think that's a good idea?" I ask, crossing my arms over my chest.
Ron looks at me, "It's Dumbledore's idea."
"So?" anger starts to grow inside of me, "Just because it's his idea does not automatically mean it's a good idea."
Harry turns to me, "Hermione, what is the matter with you? You've been acting strange...ever since you came back."
I let out a deep breath.
"Look, Dumbledore wants me to get close to Slughorn and that's what I'll do," Harry explains, "He has a reason to ask this of me, I'm sure of it."
A snarky reply forms in my head, but I bite my tongue.
Why do I feel this anger?
Dumbledore does not deserve it.
All he's ever done is help us.
My throat closes up as I watch Severus Snape dying in front of me.
And what is that strange liquid on my face?
Something blue slowly forms around Snape's eyes and mouth and ears.
I know what it is.
But Harry does not seem to know.
I quickly conjure a flask and hand it to Harry, hoping he would know what do to with it.
He does, lifting the silvery substance into the flask with his wand.
I close my eyes, turning my head away.
Why does this hurt me so much?
Snape is a traitor.
He's never liked me. He's hated me. He's made my life a living hell.
But why do I feel like this?
My eyes snap open.
"Granger..." he whispers again.
He's looking at me.
For a long moment I don't move.
Why would he be calling me?
But then I notice something in his dark eyes.
And then I finally move, kneeling down next to Harry.
I don't know what to say.
What should I say?
Snape is looking at me, trying to speak. His lips are moving, trembling, whispering.
I lean closer, trying to hear what he's saying.
"He's probably...hallucinating," Harry says quietly.
My heart breaks and I don't know why! And I feel like I should know why, but there's just emptiness and I can't remember!
"...Sir..." I start, then notice the silvery substance forming around his head again.
Without questions I conjure a flask again, repeating what Harry did a few minutes ago.
What does Snape want to show to me?
I lose myself in the depth of his eyes, trying to ignore the blood gushing from his neck, covering his robes.
"...the Order..." he forces the words out, "...department for secret...testing."
What is he talking about?
"...forgive me..." he whispers, his eyes digging a hole in my soul.
And before I even know what is happening, the words leave my mouth, "I forgive you."
I have no idea why he is asking for my forgiveness.
I have no idea why I am forgiving him.
But it seems to help him as he relaxes a bit.
And then finally he looks back at Harry, grasping the front of his robes, pulling his closer, "Look...at...me..."
And a moment later he is gone.
Severus Snape is dead.
I remember everyhing.
It's been almost an hour since I came back from my memory journey.
And I still can't move.
I remember everything now.
Seeing the memories from Snape's point of view somehow triggered my own memories.
And it all came back to me.
Many emotions passed through me.
And now I just can't feel anything.
I'm surprisingly calm.
Dumbledore is gone. I can't take my anger out on him.
Snape is gone. I can't talk to him. So much happened between us. Things that need to be talked about, explained, cleared up.
But he's gone.
And I will never get answers.
The answer I so desperately need.
The War has ended.
Our side has won.
But my work is not done yet.
Department for secret testing.
Everyone now knows about it. An article has been published in the Daily Prophet.
As has my story.
Not every little detail. There are some things I would like to keep to myself. Things that only I and Snape know about.
But at least people now know what was happening behind their backs. What the Order was doing.
The people responsible for it are being persecuted. The ones who are still alive, that is.
I've found the man who played the guard, the one who overstepped his bounds and I will make sure he pays for his actions.
Ron is still in denial. He has been offered to get his memories back but he still has not decided. His fake memories are much better than the harsh reality of what happened to him during the summer. I don't blame him.
It's hard being able to remember.
But I'm fine.
I'm holding up.
I feel sorry for Harry. The man he trusted, Dumbledore, turned out to be a monster. And being a good guy as he is, Harry can't help but feel responsible for everything. But I know it's not Harry's fault. There was one moment in the dungeons when I regretted being Harry's friend, but that was a moment of weakness.
I'm proud to be his friend.
Was Severus Snape a hero?
I remember having that conversation with him many years ago when we were together in that dungeon.
He did not agree with me calling him a hero.
And perhaps he wasn't a hero.
But he was very brave.
I admit, at first I was angry with him. But not anymore. Seeing the memories from his perspective helped. He was not some sick pervert or some disturbed sociopath. He was a good man. He could not get me out of there so he decided to help me survive it.
I understand now.
I'm stronger because of it.
There are still nights when I wake up screaming and expect Snape to calm me down like he did many times. When I wake up in the middle of the night and everything's dark in the room, I feel as if I'm still in the dungeon and Professor Snape is on his mattress a few feet away from me.
But he's not.
I visited the dungeon once, months after the end of the War.
I broke down crying.
There were so many memories there.
And I could feel Professor Snape's presence.
I miss him.
No one knows that. I can't admit it to anymore.
But I do. I want to speak to him so badly. I want to see him.
But he's gone.
And I live my life.
I don't ever want to forget what happened in that dungeon. Even all the horrible things.
I want to remember.
That is why I named my daughter Rose, after that girl that supposedly died in the dungeon, in front of me. Because of me.
I have never been able to find that girl. Who was she? Did she even exist? Was that another vision?
I don't know.
And it doesn't really matter now.
I keep on living. My life is not perfect, but it's good.
There are always little things that remind me of those thirty days.
Seeing my scars.
Calling my daughter by her name.
Harry's second son.
Even seeing a piece of bread brings back memories. Memories when that was all I was given to eat.
And I live on.
But I will never forget.
A/N: The End! Hope this brings closure of some kind to the story. Thank you for your continued support. I love you guys and I appreciate each and every one of you. There were few that did not like the way the story ended, but that's alright. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. :) I'm glad the story is finish, it was really challenging. Now I can finally take a break. THANK YOU! Oh, and one little request. Many of you said that there are a lot of stories HG/SS, where it ends with everything being a 'test'. I've never really come across that kind of stories and I would really appreciate it if you could suggest me a few fanfics like that. I would gladly read them. :)