~ chapter 20 ~
We are back at Hogwarts already. Snape insisted we leave the Burrow as soon as possible. It was eight o'clock in the morning when we said our goodbyes. As I sit alone in the living room and think back to that day, I can't help but think it was all a mistake. The whole visit to the Weasley family. I thought we could be normal, but now I see that will never happen. Everything was awkward. I don't think I will be trying anything like that in the near future.
Three more days and school is starting again. And that is a good thing. I will have something to focus on again. These lonely days I spend in my room or in the library or taking walks outside by myself are really starting to get boring.
There are no students at Hogwarts. None. And almost no teachers.
Snape is spending all his time in his potions lab or in his study room. I have absolutely no one to talk to. Just as I thought we were getting a bit closer, not husband-wife closer, but perhaps... being civilized to each other? Having small talks every now and then?
I was wrong. I barely even see him.
What should I do today? Go for a walk by the lake? I throw a glance at the window, noticing the snow outside. It seems to be freezing and I have never been a fan of the cold. But what else could I do? I'm sick and tired of the library. I never thought I would hear myself say that. Or think that.
I take a sip of my morning pumpkin juice and lean against the kitchen counter, lost deep in my thoughts.
I flinch, startled at first, but then I notice the small elf standing by the door, looking up to me.
"You have a visit," it says quietly.
My eyes light up with hope, but then I realize I am not expecting anyone. Who would want to visit me? Perhaps something has happened?
Quickly making my way to the living room, where the elf said the guest was waiting for me, I think of few people who would want to visit me.
I hope it's not Ron.
I stop in my tracks, noticing the redhead in my living room.
She turns to face me, a weak smile on her face, "Hermione, hi."
"Hi," I say, moving closer to her, "I...What are you doing here? Has something happened?"
The expression on her face tells me that something is wrong, even though she tries to hide it.
Shaking her head, she smiles again, "No, nothing serious. Don't worry about it," then she bites her lower lip, tensing up.
"Ginny, don't lie," I take her hand and we sit down, "Tell me."
"I'm really sorry for coming here unannounced. I know Professor Snape does not like that."
"Don't worry about him. Tell me what is the matter."
Ginny takes a deep breath, but remains silent. I don't remember ever seeing her like this.
Finally she speaks, her voice so small and weak, "I'm in trouble, Hermione."
"What kind of trouble?"
She looks at me and I notice tears are starting to form in her eyes, but she blinks them away, "My life is over. Harry will probably call off the wedding. And m-my family will...they will be so disappointed in me."
Why would she say that? I'm starting to get really worried.
"Have you and Harry gotten into a fight or - ?"
"No," she shakes her head, "Not yet. But...when he finds out..."
"Finds out what?"
She looks down in shame and it takes her a couple of long moments before she finally speaks again, "I think I'm pregnant."
My eyes widen in shock.
I need a few seconds before I can comment on that.
"You..." I start, "You...is it -"
"It's not Harry's," Ginny cuts me off and then her voice breaks, "It was stupid and reckless and it happened only once! A couple of weeks ago I was...with this...boy and..."
"Ginny..." I groan in disappointment.
"I know it was wrong! But...this whole thing with the marriage law and Harry...I don't think I'm ready. I'm not sure I want to spend my life with Harry. I love him, but..."
I shake my head, "And that is why you slept with someone else? Who is he? Does he know you're pregnant?"
"No and he can't know. It does not matter who he is, he's not important. It was a mistake."
I let out a sigh, "A mistake. And now here are the consequences."
Ginny hides her face in her hands, "I'm so sorry. I don't know what to do!"
Pushing away the need to criticise her, I try to think with a clear head, "Well, what do you want to do?"
"I don't know..."
"You have to know."
She lets out a cry, "My life is over! I'm as good as dead now!"
That gets to me.
I grab her arm, a bit rougher than I intended, but I get a reaction from her. She looks at me, surprised, but at least she stops panicking.
"Do not say that, Ginny," I speak, "You are not as good as dead. There are worse things in this world. And this, your problem, it can get fixed. It is not the end of the world."
She slowly nods, "It just...does not seem like that at the moment."
"What do you want to do?" I ask again.
"I...I don't know. That is why I came here," she looks at me, "You always give good advice."
Ironic. I can solve other people's problems, but not mine.
"Alright," I start calmly, "Do you wish to tell Harry? And your family?"
Her eyes widen in fear, "No, no, they can't know!"
"Well, you are going to have a hard time hiding that from them."
She seems like she is about to cry again.
I start thinking. I have to help her. We all make mistakes.
"Ginny, do you...do you wish to get rid of it?"
She looks at me, her face serious.
"Do you wish to make it go away?" I repeat the question.
"But...that is not allowed. The Ministry - "
"The Ministry has no right telling us how to live our lives," anger shows in my voice, "Do you want to get rid of it?"
She looks down, thinking, "I-I never thought that was an option. I don't know anyone who would...who could help me."
"I think I know someone," I speak, quietly, "You just tell me what is it that you want to do and I'll try to help you."
Ginny is silent for a couple of minutes and I don't say anything. It is a big decision.
Finally she looks at me, "Yes, Hermione. I-I want to make it go away. I don't want to ruin my life."
I nod, "Alright," then stand up, "Go to my room and wait there."
"But...where are you going?"
"To find the person that can help you."
This is not how I imagined my wedding night would be like. Naturally, I did not expect it to be a romantic and loving experience. Actually, I haven't really given much thought to it. I knew it had to happen and I hoped it would be as fast and as not awkward as possible.
Why is he hiding in the bathroom?
Just one tiny information sent him over the edge.
Why does it matter so much that I have not done this before?
I don't live in a fairytale and I've never given much importance to the fact that sex was not something I had experience with.
Looking at the clock, I realize it's almost midnight.
Should I try and talk to him?
Just as I get up from the bed, he exits the bathroom, walking to the corner of the room.
He's avoiding eye contact with me and as I wait for him to speak, I realize we don't have much time left.
So I start, "Sir, the time - "
"I know what time is it, thank you."
Why is he making this so difficult? It could have been done by now. Why is he doing this? He is only prolonging the inevitable.
"Do you have any other secrets you are just waiting to throw at me?" he asks.
I tense up with fear. Why is he asking that? Does he know about...me?
"I-I don't think that could be considered a secret," I start nervously, "It's just...an unimportant fact. And, obviously, it was a mistake telling you."
"You are a fool."
This angers me.
"Sir, that's enough. Why are you acting like this? The fact that I happen to be a virgin changes nothing. You do not have to make a big deal out of this."
He looks at me hard, "To you, Miss Granger, it might not be a big deal."
"Why is it to you?" I raise my voice, "From what I've read, it is I who should be sceptical and worried, because it's going to hurt me, not you."
Forcing a smirk, he approaches me, "I am threatened by the Headmistress. Either I go through with it or I lose my position as a teacher and my income. Do not, ever, ask me what is it to me. Understood?"
I nod in shame, looking down, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. I just...don't understand why you are making such a big deal out of this."
"I do not do virgins."
"Well, you are going to have to do me," as soon as the words leave my mouth, I realize how wrong that sounded.
Clearing my throat, I try again, forcing a smile, "I-I lied, Sir. I wanted to appear modest, but the truth is I've...done it with Ron. Once. A couple of months ago."
He only stares at me, apparently not buying it.
I let out a breath, "What do you want from me? We only have twenty minutes left. Please."
"Why do you want this so much?" he asks.
"Because," my voice shakes, "I need this marriage."
He simply shakes his head, not asking anything else. Pulling two vials from his pocket, he hands me one, "Drink this."
I obey, grimacing at the taste. I wait for him to drink his potion and then open my mouth to ask about it, but he cuts me off.
"It will make things...easier. Faster," he explains, "We are going to do this differently, probably not what you expected."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"I have read the terms in the marriage law and I know what it demands. That will be done and nothing more. Hopefully it will be finished in less than five minutes."
I look at him sceptically, but he only nods, "Trust me."
I keep my eyes closed through the whole ordeal. He said five minutes and I'm counting the seconds in my head.
15, 16, 17, 18 ...
It's awkward having my legs spread like this. I feel vulnerable.
51, 52, 53, 54 ...
I can feel him against me. We have never been this close. I can smell him. I can feel the warmth from his body.
76, 77, 78, 79 ...
A small cry escapes me and I arch my back, biting my lower lip. My eyes are still closed. The worst part is done, right? God, this hurts.
91, 92, 93, 94 ...
He is still not moving. He is completely still. I can hear his breathing. And my own. It hurts less now. I relax a bit, letting out a breath I didn't even know I was holding.
143, 144, 145, 146 ...
This is slow. He is moving slowly and I'm grateful for it.
201, 202, 203, 204 ...
It's finally over. He removes himself immediately, getting up from the bed.
I can open my eyes now. He is standing as far away as possible, not looking at me.
I ache all over, but it could be worse.
Well...I should probably be going now. I have to take a hot bath.
I stand up, grimacing a bit at the discomfort. Then I look at him, "T-Thank you."
Our eyes meet and I notice hatred in his look. He hates me. And why did I thank him? Should I throw some money at him as well?
I'm so stupid.
Quickly, I leave the room, removing myself from his presence.
"Hello," I say, entering his lab and noticing him staring at one blue potion in front of him. He is obviously not satisfied with the way it turned out. He throws a glance at me before continuing with his observation.
I move closer to him, "What are you doing?" I ask with a big smile.
"Trying to work."
"Oh, I don't mean to bother you, it's just...I need your help."
"What kind of help?" he is still not looking at me.
I take a deep breath, "Is there such thing as a...as an...abortion potion or...I don't know how to call it..."
He freezes and this time he turns to look at me, his eyes filled with panic.
Immediately I correct myself, "Not for me! I'm not asking this for myself."
Relaxing a bit, he even closes his eyes for a moment before staring at me again, "Then why are you asking this? For who are you asking this?"
"Not my problem," he returns to his work again.
"Please," I start.
"We should not even be discussing this."
"I know it's not allowed, but she is desperate."
"Again, not my problem."
"She is crying in my room at this very moment. It was a mistake, she can't deal with it, she is not ready and it's not fair."
"Was she raped?"
I am taken aback by that, "What? No, she wasn't."
"Then I find myself unmoved by her problem. You friend should have thought about the consequences before doing something as stupid."
I agree with him, "I know and you're right, but she can't ruin her life with this," I pause for a moment, "It's Ginny."
"Potter?" he asks, indifferently.
"No, it's not his."
That surprises him, I can see it, but he continues with his work.
"Sir, please. I promised to help her."
"You should not give promises you cannot keep."
"Her life should not be destroyed because of one little mistake. She knows it was stupid and irresponsible. She has her whole life in front of her, her whole life, and she can do with it whatever she likes. She can finish school, find a job, marry, have kids or not have kids, she can travel and meet new people and learn new things and just enjoy life until she's old, very old and ..." I trail off, realizing she can have everything I can't have.
I look up at Snape only to find him already watching me with an unreadable expression on his face.
"And she will not have her life ruined because of one stupid mistake," I speak.
Snape takes a deep breath, "What makes you think I can help her?"
"You are a Potions Master. I know you can."
I smile weakly, "We've done so many illegal things by now. I don't think one more will do any serious damage."
He is silent.
"Please," I try again, "I need your help."
After a long minute he finally speaks, "Is she sure?"
He rolls his eyes, very annoyed, "Tell her to wait in your room. The potion should be ready by this evening."
I smile, suddenly feeling the need to hug him.
Where did that come from?
Luckily, I stop myself in time and politely thank him before leaving him alone to focus on his work.
"Snape? And he said he'll help me?" Ginny could not hide the disbelief.
"Well, it took a lot of convincing."
I shrug my shoulders, "Why not?"
"He is not as bad as you all think."
Ginny takes a deep breath, "If he does this, I'll be forever grateful."
A short laugh escapes me, "I don't think gratitude means anything to him."
"Did he...do it for you? Because you asked?"
I tense up, "I don't think so."
"If he did, it means he cares about you."
Severus Snape caring about me? It does not seem possible.
I quickly change the subject, "You know the potion he is currently preparing is illegal and you can't mention this to anyone?"
"Of course. I don't want us all to end up in Azkaban."
"What about Harry? Will you tell him?"
Ginny looks at me sadly, "I don't want to. I just want to forget it ever happened and - "
"Pretend it never happened?"
"Something like that," she nods, "Look, I know you probably think the worst of me and - "
"It is not my place to judge you," I sigh, "We all have secrets. We are allowed to have secrets."
I can see suspicion on Ginny's face, but thankfully she does not ask any questions.
We meet him in the living room.
Ginny blushes and has trouble looking at Snape, knowing he knows about her cheating and her current state.
"Miss Weasley," he speaks, "How nice to see you. To what do we owe the pleasure?"
I roll my eyes, "Sir."
I guess he can't help himself. He has to be a bit of a git in everything he does.
He raises his brow and motions to Ginny to come closer. She obeys and I observe as he hands her a small vial. Ginny's hands are shaking as she takes it from him, obviously very nervous.
"Are you sure about this?" he asks her and she quickly nods.
I wait in silence as he explains the procedure to her, giving her a few warnings and Ginny listens carefully, nodding every now and then. When it's finally over, he looks at me as well, "I do not have to tell you both that this remains between us. No one must know. No one."
"I already warned her," I reply.
Ginny is still looking at the potion in her hand, biting her lip nervously.
I notice it and so does Snape.
"Miss Weasley, you can stay here and it can be done here if you do not wish to be alone."
She shakes her head, "No, no, thank you, but...I should be alone."
He nods, "Alright, if, there won't be, but if there are any complications, you know how to contact me. Also, if you change your mind, destroy the potion. I do not want anything connecting me to this crime. Is that clear?"
"Yes, thank you," she looks up at him, "Really thank you."
"Thank your friend over there," he points at me.
Ginny smiles, meeting my eyes, "I need to thank both of you."
"What are friends for," I reply, "Ginny, you really can stay here - "
"No, I-I should be going," she walks over to me and gives me a quick hug.
And then she leaves. She probably needs some time alone.
I walk over to Snape, "You did something good today."
He narrows his eyes, "Yes, Miss Weasley seems to trust me regarding medical issues."
"She is right about that. You are probably even more qualified than the healers at St. Mungo's."
"Why cannot you trust me?" he suddenly asks.
"Why am I not allowed to try and help you?"
This is not the conversation I want to have. Not again.
"Sir - "
"Why do you not trust me?"
"I do trust you."
"Not enough, Miss Granger."
"You do not."
I raise my voice, "I trust you! I don't trust myself. I don't believe I'm strong enough to get better and I don't want to be disappointed again! You don't know what that's like."
He looks at me and I can see pity in his eyes. Just a small amount, but still.
"Don't!" I shake my head, "Don't look at me like that. You know I can't stand it."
"Believe me, Miss Granger, I know a lot about disappointment."
I remain silent.
He continues, "Today you helped Miss Weasley, you did not let her ruin her life. Why cannot you do the same for yourself?"
I open my mouth, but no words come out.
"Think about that," he says, then turns and leaves.
A/N: Hello! Do you still remember me? ;) Hopefully you haven't forgotten about the story and are still curious about Hermione and Snape. Will she finally give him her permission to try and help her? :)