Chapter 4: Devastating Plans
\"NO! There is no way I am going to marry this twit of a \'know-it-all\', scarecrow girl with this ginger bush upon her head that she calls hair! I WILL NOT MARRY HER!!!\"
This was what Snape had been shouting for the past fifteen minutes. The calm looking Professor McGonagall did not seem to be touched by his tirade while a worried looking Harry tried to get Hermione back to her senses from the floor where she had fallen in faint after the portrait\'s \'announcement\'.
Snape had suddenly shut up to take another intake of breath in order to at last reveal everything he thought about Hogwarts and it\'s new Headmistress, but McGonagall took this chance to open her mouth instead;
“That is enough, Severus. I think you have made all of your opinions on this matter quite clear.” Snape was still in the process of trying to make a hole in McGonagall’s face with his blazing eyes but at least he was silent now.
Professor McGonagall gave a tired sigh. She had an idea of how angry Severus Snape would get when he heard about the plan, but she had not predicted with what heat he would oppose the mere idea of marrying Hermione Granger. The Headmistress did not understand why Severus was thrown into such a frenzy! She may have understood if his wife-to-be had been an ugly and stupid being, but Hermione Granger was neither of these things. Professor McGonagall had to agree with the fact that, when Miss Granger first came to Hogwarts, she was the last girl on whom the male population of the school would have focused their attention. But these were the times that belonged to the past and time itself was revealed to be a friend of Hermione Granger.
Professor McGonagall looked down upon the girl who had not yet succeeded to awake.
Yes, thought McGonagall, the duckling has truly turned into a swan.
The first thing that caught the eyes was the brightness of the girl’s hair. It may have been pure ginger before, but now it possessed a reddish glint to it, especially now when Miss Granger lain in the pool of sunlight that came from the windows above. The hair itself gave a mesmerising contrast with the purity of her skin. The features of the face seemed sculptural, from the dark arched eyebrows to the full pink lips. She may well have been a sleeping beauty for what she was worth, but Professor McGonagall was too much aware of the sharp mind that existed in this pretty head. It was this mind that constantly got Miss Granger both into trouble and out of it.
“Do you hear me, I-will-not-do it!”
Professor Snape’s hundredth exclamation in the past quarter of an hour broke McGonagall’s admiration for the student. In turn she turned back to the fuming Professor.
“Let me explain to you at last, Severus, why I have come to this decision, or plan, that may perhaps look a bit illogical to you at present.”
“And bloody crazy!” interrupted Snape.
“Just for a minute imagine yourself in the Minister’s boots, Severus,” continued Professor McGonagall, ignoring Snape’s earlier comment. “At least one witness saw the Hogwarts’ Head of Slytherin killing Professor Dumbledore with the most fatal spell that exists in history. More than a dozen people, students and teachers alike, witnessed your further actions of fleeting the Hogwarts’ grounds and most probably apparating to the side of the Dark Lord who has brought about the birth of fear into the heart of every wizard and witch on earth. There was not one soul who may have believed that you were innocent, Severus. And then, out of the blue, the most searched for murderer after Sirius Black comes back to school.”
Professor McGonagall gave a little pause. Snape was just blankly staring back at her, refusing to show that he followed her path of thinking.
“Our Minister of Magic would not welcome you back with open arms, Severus. Well, only if he held a wand behind his back to finish you off. As an Auror himself, his principles would not allow him to be soft on you either. Torture would be unavoidable and your death far from a painless one. Even if he would believe me and my fellow colleagues on the subject of your innocence, the wizarding world would never take you back fully because you had once being a Death Eater.” Her shoulders slumped down a bit at the last phrase, looking nearly as old and exhausted as Dumbledore was before death took him.
“And what is your conclusion to this story, Professor?” finally asked the cautious Snape.
“In order to maintain at least some respect in the wizarding world...”
“As if I had any,’ Snape murmured darkly.
“...and not be kicked out of it by the end of this war, as every social wizard you have only one path to forgiveness. Marriage. Marriage to a not precisely pure-blood witch but one that, in turn, is respected among many wizards and witches. She has to be open-minded, clever and possess an ability to stay standing on both feet whenever disaster strikes.”
Snape gave Professor McGonagall an impressive grimace and, for the first time since she fell down unconscious, looked at the girl on the floor.
“And you propose I should marry that?” asked he unbelievingly.
At last the Headmistress could feel her temper rising. She had known Severus Snape since the day he first set foot in Hogwarts at the age of eleven, but the years did not change the arrogance and stubbornness that ruled this dark man. Nowadays, time was precious and Severus Snape’s salvation might well save more than one life in this war.
As Professor McGonagall rose slowly to her feet, the movement caught Snape’s eye so he turned back to face the Headmistress. The moment he looked into her stormy eyes behind the spectacles, Snape knew that somewhere in his earlier words he had crossed the line.
“Miss Granger is one of the most suitable brides for a man in your situation. She is not only respected throughout the school. This admiration has been born in the Ministry itself and, as the Headmistress, I possess valuable information that as soon as Miss Granger finishes Hogwarts, the Ministry would welcome such a gifted witch into their midst with warmth. You need as much support from the Ministry as possible, Severus, and you may call Miss Granger here the ticket to your redemption.” Professor McGonagall’s voice was even but there was a hardness there, which warned that she would not be argued with at present.
But Severus Snape was a man that rarely cared for warnings and hints so instead of shutting his mouth he threw a last try of somehow worming his way out of this marriage.
“But look at her! She is still a physically unformed, school girl! You cannot possibly expect me to marry a student, she is not even of age yet!!” he exclaimed, waving his hand towards the lying form without taking his nearly pleading eyes from the Headmistress.
Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrows at some of the absurd comments escaping Snape’s mouth.
“I assure you, Severus; Miss Granger is of age for marrying. She is now seventeen and in three weeks time she will be eighteen. In both cases, both by her Muggle heritage and the Wizarding laws, she is more than capable of marrying anyone at this time.” McGonagall plainly saw that the present age of Hermione Granger had visibly surprised him. The fact that he was locked up somewhere a whole year must have mixed up his sense of time.
“And it is not as if you should stay married to each other forever. Once the war is over, you will be free to divorce as you want. If Voldemort is defeated, not many would look into your past. Life will go on,” she added and witnessed how much more relaxed Snape became. He did not notice, or decided to ignore, her use of the word ’if’.
“And has anybody wondered what Hermione’s opinion is going to be about all of this?”
Both McGonagall and Snape jumped about a foot off the floor. During their heated conversation they forgot that they and the discussed girl were not the only ones present in the room. As a result, the sudden question coming from Harry, who had not yet spoken a word since Hermione fainted, had visibly shaken their uptight nerves.
As if on queue, a groaning filled the room as Hermione started to awake at last. Harry rapidly switched all of his attention to his friend instead. With Harry’s help, Hermione managed to lift herself up into a sitting position, but it took some time for her to open her eyes fully and look dazedly at Harry.
“Don’t tell me that I fainted, Harry. I never faint,” she said, weakly trying to put her thoughts together and understand what had brought her to such circumstances.
“I guess you didn’t find the prospect of marrying Snape such a good idea,” murmured Harry staring daggers at the tall man.
The words finally hit home. Now Hermione understood what had made her faint for the first time in her life. The conversation from earlier played itself in her head, and the last thing she remembered before the darkness took her was the announcement that she is to be married to none other than Professor Snape himself.
With an impressive quickness for one who just moments ago lay on the floor with barely any signs of breathing, Hermione jumped to her feet refusing Harry’s help. But before she could continue where Snape had left off, Professor McGonagall stopped the words with a gesture and said;
“Before you would curse me, Miss Granger, I would like to explain to you the situation we are in now, and the role that you are to play in this story. I require all of your patience to hear me out as Professor Snape has done himself some minutes ago.”
This time the explaining took much less time than it did with Snape due to the lack of interruption. When Professor McGonagall, however, mentioned the fact that Hermione is free to divorce once everything is over, Hermione frowned.
“I may be mistaken, Professor McGonagall, but from all the things I have read I know that the Wizarding marriage is unbreakable as it holds old traditions with a set of explicit rituals set in the process,” said Hermione.
“You are right as always, Miss Granger, but there exists one sole way that a couple could break their magical vows once they are a married couple.”
Hermione’s frown deepened. “And what may this way be, Professor?”
Professor McGonagall’s face was emotionless when she colorlessly answered;
“You may divorce Professor Snape unless you experience a sexual release in each other’s arms either during a wedding night or any other night after the marriage. It is the sex that seals the marriage document, which even the Minister of Magic would not be able to break once it is formally sealed.”
Hermione felt herself blush with a force that made both of her ears ring. She cast her eyes to the floor so she couldn’t see Professor Snape’s reaction, but she clearly heard a snort of laughter that most probably came from Harry. Her suspicion was correct when he spoke next with barely controlled laughter filling his voice;
“Well, I have to be truthful with you, Professor McGonagall, and I solemnly believe that Hermione would be able to divorce even after thirty years of marriage to him. There is no chance in the world that she would have sex with this slime ball,” said Harry with a sadistic smile reserved for Snape alone.
Snape’s pride must have been wounded by such an outrageous comment from a student as he took a menacing step towards Harry;
“That’s enough!” cried out Professor McGonagall and her shout stopped Snape from taking another step forward. But this did not prevent him from staring at Harry with such hatred in his black eyes that it made Hermione cringe.
“We have done enough talking for today. The marriage ceremony will take place next week on Friday at sunset as it is traditionally set. I will conduct the ceremony and six witnesses will be present. Once you are a married couple, Miss Hermione Granger will move into your chambers at Hogwarts, Severus, and live there until you two divorce. Even though the only people knowing about your incompliance with the marriage vows are going to be Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, yourself and I, it is for the best if the rest of the public, including the Ministry, should stay ignorant of this fact for as long as possible,” finished Professor McGonagall to the three mouths that dropped open in the middle of her tirade.
Hermione was the first to shut her mouth with a clicking sound and shakily ask;
“You planned it all. No matter what Professor Snape’s or my opinion were, you still would have married us off in the end, wouldn’t you?”
It seemed that Professor McGonagall looked at Hermione for a long time before she said;
“Remember, this marriage may yet save a sea of innocent lives as this is one of the few ways to keep Professor Snape free from being executed or locked up. The information that he knows is of great importance and which could probably balance the winning of this war to our favor.”
Silence followed her words. Harry’s earlier sadistic smile disappeared from his face as he looked at one of his best friends. By observing his expression, Hermione had a suspicion that Harry was busy feeling sorry for her and angry at the situation that she got herself into. The situation, of course, was symbolized by Snape who at present wore an expression of such disdain that it shown clearly he wasn’t any happier about what he had gotten himself into than Hermione.
“And before I ask the two of you to leave my office, I need a reassurance that you will not tell a soul about the upcoming marriage. I do not wish to create more problems in school than there are already,” said McGonagall looking at Harry and Hermione warningly.
Something resembling a smirk crossed Hermione’s face at McGonagall’s words.
“Believe me, Professor, the fact that this news should stay hidden is fully in my interests. I want to live a bit instead of becoming the laughing stock of all the students in the school before it is my due,” replied she.
“And Ron?” asked Harry, looking at the Headmistress.
A shadow of a smile crossed McGonagall’s lips as she looked at the two seventh years.
“I believe it is not going to do any harm if you reveal today’s discussions to Mr. Weasley, Mr. Potter. As I have the ultimate pleasure of knowing you three since your first year, I am well aware that whatever one of your trio finds out, the rest will be informed of in no time. So I see no point in hiding it from Mr. Weasley since he will find out everything sooner or later.”
Both Hermione and Harry shushed Ron’s outburst as several heads turned toward their direction. The Gryffindor Common Room was the only place where the three of them were able to sit together but it did not help that, at present, the room was half full. They had had their dinner about half an hour ago and both Hermione and Harry had tried to maintain their worried faces as blank as possible under Ron’s quizzing glances throughout the rest of the day since they came out of the Headmistress’s office.
Once dinner was over, Harry with Hermione understood that they could no longer hide the truth from their best friend and told him everything that had happened since he took away the two kids to the hospital wing (once they woke, they plainly refused to explain the reason why they collapsed, all the while throwing frightful looks towards Ron, which made his spirits rise considerably).
But the same spirits were mercilessly crushed when he heard that Hermione, in less than one week’s time, would become Mrs. Snape.
“Are you two out of your minds?! And you agreed with all of this?? Bloody hell, we are not in some sort of medieval times now, we live in a modern world!” Ron suspended his volume a bit, but he was still talking too loudly for either Hermione’s or Harry’s comfort.
“Don’t you think if I had a choice, I would have declined this absurd plan?” hissed Hermione back.
“But you do have a choice, Hermione! Let him find another bride for his needs and leave you alone! What do you have to do with all of this anyway?”
“You know, Ron, sometimes I wonder if it’s your brain that regularly starts to malfunction or perhaps if it’s your ears that become deaf to all sounds around you except for your own voice,” she whispered fiercely. “By refusing to go along with Professor McGonagall’s plan, I may destroy a numbers of lives, which I could save instead by marrying Professor Snape.”
As always when Ron got either angry or embarrassed his ears started to glow scarlet. It was plain now that he was very far from being embarrassed and it was another emotion that evoked his redness.
“And for those who did not hear,” continued Hermione sarcastically, “I repeat that I-can-divorce-him-whenever-I-want!”
“Why bother, Hermione? If you like this over-grown bat so much, you can just live with him until both of you are wrinkled and surrounded by countless number of grandchildren with slimy black hair!” exclaimed Ron, ignoring the warning signs that Harry urgently indicated behind Hermione’s back.
But it was too late for the signs.
Hermione had had enough. With a crash she overturned the table when she stood up from the couch and, no longer caring who could hear her, shouted at the still sitting Ron;
“How dare you insult me like that? Who are you to me?! A mother? A father? A boyfriend?! You have a habit of taking all of our arguments to a personal level. Well, let me tell you everything once and for all! All of these plans have nothing to do with what is between us, or it is more correct to say with what we don’t have between us. With this plan or without it, I would never have married such a selfish person like you are inside, Ron Weasley, even if you were the only male left on this fucking world!!!”
With that, she ran out of the common room that had suddenly turned dead silent. Without a second glance she flew towards her dormitory and only when she closed her door with a deafening bang, did all the reality of the situation reach her mind and body.
With a sudden exhaustion, Hermione pressed her heated cheek against the door. Nothing showed her that her life would change so abruptly in her seventh and last year at Hogwarts. There seemed to be no explanation for the unfairness of the whole situation, but she had nothing else to do but accept her fate and pray that Voldemort would perish as soon as possible.
In exactly six days she was to become Severus Snape’s wife.
Does anyone already sense a theme here?
Sweet Surrender by witch