~ chapter 19 ~

Well, this is awkward. Also a bit funny.

I never expected to see this. Severus Snape sitting at the table, surrounded by Weasleys. They are all so full of energy and nice and relaxed and orange. And Snape is just...Snape. He's simply sitting here, beside me, not moving, not even looking at anyone. He really needs to change his attitude, he's only drawing attention to himself. But who am I kidding? Of course he is drawing attention. He's Snape. Surrounded by Weaselys.

Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. I don't even know how I succeeded in convincing him.

"So," Mr. Weasely starts, "How are things at Hogwarts?"

It's dinner time and everyone is eating or at least pretending to eat so they don't have to talk to Snape.

Silence.

I look at my husband and notice he has no intention of answering the question. So I smile, "Things are normal. It's impossible to tell there was a War going on only a few months ago."

Arthur nods, "Everything is alright now? Fixed?"

"Yes, everything. It's almost nicer than before," I answer, then add, "All thanks to Professor McGonagall and - "

Then I freeze.

I wanted to say Snape. But... how am I supposed to call him in front of others? Snape seems a bit rude. Professor Snape is out of question. Severus is...too personal. I never call him by his first name.

Luckily Mr. Weasley seems to notice my struggle and smiles, "Yes, I have heard Professor McGonagall and Professor Snape had a lot to do with bringing the school back."

I smile politely, hoping someone would change the subject.

"The Ministry is the one to thank. They did most of the work and invested a lot of money," a cold voice cuts through the silence.

Snape.

I turn to my right to look at him. He actually spoke. I can see everyone is surprised. He hasn't said a word ever since we came here and that was almost two hours ago. I know I could not stand to be silent for that long.

"Yes, but I am sure they needed a lot of convincing," Arthur insists.

"Not really," Snape responds.

Why does he do that? I know he did all that was in his power to save Hogwarts. Why won't he take the credit for it?

"So," I decide to change the subject, "What...what is this desert?" I look at the food on the table.

"It's...a pudding, dear," Molly answers, then looks a bit surprised, "You don't have puddings in your world?"

I let out a nervous laugh, "Of course we do. We...we have...puddings."

Oh just kill me now.

Silence follows.

Finally Harry speaks, "Mr. Weasley, I was wondering when would the appropriate time be to meet and discuss some arrangements."

I know he means his wedding to Ginny.

I zone out, ignoring the conversation and hoping the dinner would soon be over. I don't think it could get more awkward. I love the Weasleys and they love me, but they do not understand why I married Snape. For all I know, they might think I am totally mental. But at least they are polite about it. Except Ron. He's sending strange glances at me and Snape across the table. He really does not want me, us, at his house.

I sigh.

If we could only just leave. But we can't. I've promised Ginny we would stay over for the night.

God.

This is horrible.

ooo

Molly opens the door to the room, "It's not much, but I hope you will get some sleep."

I walk in, "Don't worry, we are both so tired we could even sleep on the ground."

Snape sends me a glare, but remains silent, observing the small room with his eyebrow raised. He hates it.

Molly nods, "Alright, let me know if you need anything."

"We will, thank you," I reply.

"Good night."

I smile, "Good night."

When she leaves, I slowly turn to face Snape who is still standing still and observing the room.

I bite my lip nervously, noticing a really small bed in the corner of the room. There are also two chairs, a strange looking desk and a bookcase.

"We can leave, you do know that?" he finally speaks, not even turning around to face me.
"We can't. We promised."

This time he turns around, his eyes meeting mine, "You promised. I did no such thing."
"Well...we are considered one person now. We are supposed to do things together. If I stay here, it would be strange if you left."

He grimaces, but does not say anything.

I try to cheer him up, "Look, there are books. You could read and I...I'll just go to bed. I'm tired."

"I am tired too," he obviously feels the need to disagree with everything I suggest.

I take a deep breath, "Alright, we could both go to bed."

"Yes. The sooner I fall asleep, the sooner we morning will come. And then I can return to Hogwarts."

Nodding, I look at the bed again, "Well...I think we can both fit in there."

"I think not."

The bed is really small. If we were both to sleep in it we would not be able to avoid physical contact.
Snape clears his throat, "You can have the bed. I will...transform the chair - " he stops when he realizes the room is too small to fit another bed in it, "...or I will sleep on the chair."

"No," I protest, "You can take the bed."

"No, Miss Granger."

"Yes," I insist, "You are older and - "

He looks at me in annoyance and I quickly try to rephrase it, "I-I mean you are probably more tired than I am."

"Because of my age?" he raises a brow.

"No, of course not. But it's...been a very long day." I don't really sound convincing.

He rolls his eyes, "Just go to bed, Granger."

I nod, "I'll just go to the bathroom to change and..."

He walks over to the bookshelf, observing the books and completely ignoring me.

This is going to be a very long night.

ooo

As I return to the room, wearing my pyjamas I notice he is still dressed the same. I sit down on the bed, clearing my throat awkwardly. Finally he turns around to look at me.

"This is ridiculous," I mutter, "We can both sleep in this bed."

He does not answer.

I stand up, "I'll go grab a glass of milk."

And with that I quickly leave the room.

On my way down to the kitchen I do not run into anyone and I'm glad about that. All the small talks and polite conversations are exhausting.

As I approach the kitchen I notice the lights are on. There is someone here. Probably just Molly. I walk in, ready to compliment the dinner and the food, only to find Ron there, enjoying the last piece of cake.

I can't say I am surprised.

But he does seem surprised to see me. Immediately he stops eating and turns to face me.

"Her-Hermione, I didn't expect you to - "

"Yes, I can see that," I comment, feeling a bit nervous.

He looks around, obviously trying to find an excuse to leave. So I try to make it easier for him.

"Look, Ronald," I start, "I hate playing these games. Hiding around the bush and...you know."

The look on his face is actually funny. He seems almost afraid of me.

So I continue, "You don't want me here. You don't want Snape here. And Snape doesn't want you here. But we are here. Just for the day. Perhaps coming here was a mistake, but ...Ginny insisted and I missed your family."

Ron keeps nodding in understanding and I keep on babbling, "Clearly, the dinner was awkward, yes, but at least it's over. And tomorrow we will try to leave before breakfast to avoid such scenes and - "

"Hermione," he interrupts me, a weak smile on his face, "Calm down."

I look up at him, trying to catch my breath.

"I don't mind you being here," he says, the smile disappearing from his face, "It's a bit strange, yes...seeing the two of you sleeping in the same room and sitting together...but it's fine. It's the holidays, Christmas is coming, I will try to...not make problems."

Wow.

I did not expect that.

Sending him a sceptical look, I shake my head slightly, "This is actually quite mature from you, Ronald Weasley."

"I've matured," he says proudly.

I smile, "We'll see about that."

I still haven't forgotten about his cheating and his fights with Snape and of course, the kiss. I grimace at the thought of it.

"Do you want some?" he asks, pointing at the half eaten cake.

"No thanks, it's all yours. I just wanted a glass of milk."

"It's right there."

We wait in silence as I pour myself some milk.

"So..." I start, "How are you?"

"Good."

What should I ask him about?

"School?"

He smiles, "It could be better, but I'm not complaining. I've actually started doing my own homework and studying by myself. All because of you."

"Me?"

"Yeah. Don't you remember? A few weeks ago? I wanted to ask you for help and you...kind of...just started yelling at me?"

My eyes widen in shock, "Oh, yes, I remember. I-I'm sorry for that. I wasn't myself that day."

He just laughs.

This is nice.

I don't remember the last time we had a normal conversation.

ooo

"That had to be one large glass of milk," Snape comments as I quietly walk back into the room, "Or perhaps the Weasleys made you solve a puzzle before you could be allowed to enter the kitchen?"

"Um, yes, well..."

"Where were you?" he asks, suspiciously.

"In the kitchen."

I notice he is sitting on the bed, wearing his dark pants and a dark shirt. At least he has taken off those heavy robes, I can't imagine wearing that all day long can be comfortable.

"Ron was there," the words escape my lips.

Snape tenses up, but does not say anything.

I somehow feel the need to explain everything, to defend myself, "We were just talking."

Silence.

"I swear. We talked about school mostly."

Finally he speaks, "I did not say anything."

I run a hand through my hair, "You don't have to. I can see it on your face."

"See what on my face?"

"Annoyance."

He takes a deep breath, "Miss Granger..."

"I know you do not like him."

"My opinion of him does not matter. You choose your own friends. The only problem I have with him is when he oversteps the boundaries."

I blush a bit, "You mean when he...kissed me."

"Yes," he says calmly, "I was serious when I said if it happens again, he will be forced to leave the school."

"It won't happen again."

He simply nods.

Alright. Enough about Ronald.

I wrap my arms around my torso awkwardly, staring at the bed.

Snape immediately stands up, but I stop him before he could walk away.

"Wait! We are both sleeping in the bed. I will not have you suffering on the chair," I say with a strong voice.

He looks at me, amused, "While I enjoy your sudden need to take care of me, the bed is simply too small for both of us."

"No, it's not," I protest, walking towards it and jumping on it, making myself comfortable and pulling the covers up to my neck. Then I look at Snape, "Sit."

He simply raises a brow.

"Please," I add.

After a long moment, he lets out an annoyed sigh and sits down.

"Thank you," I comment, "Now lay down. You can't sleep in that position."

"Just go to sleep, Granger."

I smile as he leans back against the headboard, his arms crossed across his chest. He does not seem comfortable or relaxed. Not that he'll ever admit that.

I close my eyes and soon I drift off.

ooo

Groaning, I pull myself up, covering my mouth with my hand.

The room is dark, there is only weak light coming from one candle on the nightstand. I need a few moments to realize that this is not my room.

"Granger?"

I shake my head, closing my eyes again. Perhaps it will pass.

It doesn't.

"Breathe," he says firmly and I can feel him moving, getting out of the bed.

"Bathroom," I manage to say.

The last thing I want is to vomit in the room.

We quickly make our way to the bathroom. It's across the hallway and I pray we won't bump into anyone on our way there. Unfortunately, I can hear voices and it makes me walk faster, holding a hand over my mouth.

"Granger, slow down," Snape orders, holding me by my arm.

"No. No one should see me like this," I insist and finally we reach the bathroom. Trying to push the door open, I realize in horror it's locked.

I double down in desperation. Someone is already in the bathroom.

I turn around, wanting to return to the comfort of my room, but Snape stops me, grabbing my arm, "Stay here," then he knocks on the bathroom door.

"No!" I cry out, "Don't -"

He knocks again, harder this time.

We hear a voice from inside the bathroom, "Wait your turn, will you?"
It's Ron.

Snape bangs on the door, "Mr. Weasley, leave the bathroom, now."

There is silence and then we both hear unlocking and only a moment later Ron opens the door, but before he has a chance to speak, Snape grabs him by his collar and pulls him out of the way. I make my way past him, running into the bathroom, slamming the doors shut behind me.

I barely make it to the toilet, dropping to my knees and then ... nothing. Nothing comes out of my stomach. I dry heave into the toilet for a couple of moments before I give up.

I hear voices coming from outside.

Oh no.

I crawl towards the door and listen. But I can't seem to understand anything.

I better show my face before they barge in.

As soon as I push the door open, I force a smile on my face. I know I probably look like death and I'm not actually convincing, but it's better than nothing.

Snape is standing closest to me, observing me with a worried expression.

Ron seems angry and there is as well, standing beside her son, obviously having no idea what is going on.

"Mione, Snape told us you were sick," Ron says.

"H-He what?" I tense up, looking at Snape.

He didn't tell them, he couldn't.

Ron narrows his eyes in suspicion, "It isn't contagious, is it?"

"What?" I ask quietly.

"Hermione, dear, would you like me to make you some tea?" Molly asks, moving closer to me.

"Is it contagious? What do you mean by sick?" Ron repeats his question.

"Food poisoning," Snape says in a cold voice, sending a glare at Ron, "It is not contagious, you dumb brat."

Ron opens his mouth to protest, but Molly stops him with her angry look.

Snape looks at me, "You probably had something at dinner - "

"Yes," I agree, "I ate something and...but I'm fine now, I-I just want to go to bed."

Quickly, I make my way past them all and return to the room.

ooo

I stand in the dark corner, looking through the window. It's so dark outside. Perhaps I should go out for a walk? No, it's probably not such a good idea. It's not safe.

Then I hear him.

He makes a few steps and then stops. But he's looking at me, I can feel it.

"Ronald Weasley is just a stupid teenage boy," he finally speaks.

Silence.

Snape speaks again, "He did not mean - "

"I know. I know," I turn around, "But...what if that would be his reaction if he found out about...me? What if...he'd want to stay away from me? Avoid me?"

"Then he is even more of an idiot than I give him credit for."

A small chuckle escapes me.

And then silence again.

Slowly, I approach him, thinking hard about my next words.

"I'm...I'm...glad."

"Glad about what?" he asks, confused.

"That you know."

There.

It's finally out.

The expression on his face changes slightly. Obviously, he does not like moments like this. Too emotional. Too vulnerable.

After clearing his throat, he asks, "Are you feeling better? I don't have any potions with me, but I could make something."

"No, I'm better. Thank you. Besides, I don't want any more drama tonight. We better just stay here and try to live through the night without further incidents."

He points at the bed, "All yours."

Not wanting to argue about the same thing again, I nod.

I fell asleep alone in the bed.

But there was a moment in the middle of the night when I woke up and he was sitting on the bed, next to me.

And that did not feel awkward or uncomfortable at all.

ooo

The Dark Mark. I can see it clearly on his forearm. It's not as dark as I imagine it was. It seems as if it's fading, but it's still there and I can't take my eyes off of it.

It's the middle of the night. We are in his Potions lab. I couldn't sleep and I decided to join him. He protested at first, but finally allowed me to stay. On one condition. If I remain silent.

He's working on one of his potions. I would like to ask more about it, but if I open my mouth, he will throw me out of the lab. He's concentrating on the work, sweat forming on his forehead, his sleeves rolled up.

And the Dark Mark...just there. Before my very eyes.

I can't seem to look away.

And then he notices.

Immediately he tenses up, but does not cover it or tries to hide it from me. He continues working, "See anything of interest?"

I snap out of my thoughts, "Um, no."

"Is that so?" he asks, still not looking at me.

"Well..." I start, "I knew it would be there."

"But it's different actually seeing it."

"I guess."

Finally he stops working and turns to me, "You are married to a man with a Dark Mark across his forearm."

Should that frighten me?

"I knew who you were when I decided to go through with it."

My eyes drop down to the Dark Mark, "And I have no problems with...that."

And then I notice something.

Above his Mark there is something else.

I narrow my eyes in confusion.

It looks like...scars.

Healed cuts.

I am not an expert, but it appears as if someone had used something sharp to make those kind of scars. I know because I have something similar. There are still scars on my forearm from when Bellatrix carved that word...mudblood.

Before I have a chance to ask, he quickly pulls the sleeve down, his cold eyes almost screaming at me.

"You better return to your bedroom."

Even I know when it's smart to stop talking and just leave things be. I am not even sure I want to know what the story behind those scars is.

His dark stare actually frightened me. More that seeing his Dark Mark.

Quickly, I move away from him and leave the room.

A/N: Well, this is awkward. I am really sorry. Don't know what else to say. :/ Can't promise anything. I just want to thank all my faithful reviewers. Your support has meant a lot to me and I'm sorry for letting you down. You are the best!