Chapter 5: Redemption
Much to Hermione\'s relief and horror the weekend passed quickly. The only person with whom she was able to talk was Harry as she hadn’t said a single word to Ron since their argument. Ron, on the other hand, totally ignored Hermione’s existence even when they appeared to be in the same room. It seemed that their friendship was on the brink of being permanently destroyed and Harry, who felt the constant tension between his two best friends, was constantly sulking in turn.
Hermione was aware that much of what she had said to Ron during her angry outburst was a lie, but she stubbornly decided not to beg for forgiveness. That evening Ron was the one who started the argument, and it was he in the first place who shouldn’t have said all those awful things to her. As a result, the two of them waited for the other to say sorry first and Harry wondered how many months they would be able to stay muted to each other this time before the weaker one finally surrendered. Harry was also aware that the whole of Gryffindor house was starting to make wagers on the one who would surrender first; behind Hermione’s and Ron’s back, of course.
Monday evening brought the news that shook the whole school.
The Great Hall’s conversations halted as one when the Headmistress stood up from her chair. Students were in the middle of their dinner and most of them wore quizzical expressions for the announcements were usually made before food was served. This time it was different.
“As you know, the former Head of Slytherin and ex-Professor Severus Snape returned to us later the other week while the Ministry was offering a reward to anyone who could give any information as to Mr. Snape’s whereabouts.”
Hushed whispers broke out among the students but stopped almost instantly when a few hundred pairs of eyes looked at Professor McGonagall expectantly.
“I am happy to announce to you, however, that due to certain circumstances the matter concerning Severus Snape had been discussed in the Ministry with a conclusion. As a result, Severus Snape is lifted of all charges set against him and is free to return to his normal life,” finished Professor McGonagall.
The shocked silence in the Great Hall was deafening. Hermione clearly saw that her fellow seventh year, Neville Longbottom, has lost his speech. Professor Snape was his least favorite teacher in the whole of Hogwarts and the fact that the teacher/murderer was now free did not give a comforting thought to Neville.
But the shocking news did not end there, after a few moments Professor McGonagall said to the silent Hall;
“And I am more than happy to announce that, as of tomorrow, Severus Snape will retake his position as the Head of Slytherin and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, as a result becoming, yet again, Professor Snape that Hogwarts has known for the past decade.”
The next second Hermione heard a thump beside her. She did not need to turn to see that the place on the bench to her left, which was earlier occupied by Neville, was now vacant as his plump body had taken position on the stone floor in a dead faint.
Neville did not take the happy announcement very well.
And neither did the majority of the students in the Great Hall.
Harsh and angry whispers broke among the three tables while the fourth table stayed unnaturally silent. From her point of view, Hermione could clearly see that the place that Draco Malfoy once occupied was now empty. It seemed that Slytherin decided to leave this place as a symbol of honor to their former blond leader. The expressions of most of the occupants of the table were a mixture of anger and fright, but not one of them gave a word on this subject. It was plainly seen that not all of Slytherin’s members were happy to welcome their former Head of House.
Next morning could well have been the quietest breakfast in Hogwarts’ history. Every student in the Great Hall focused their attention mainly on the dark haired man sitting behind the teacher’s table rather than on conversations and the food lying in front of them. The moment Professor Snape sat behind the breakfast table with his usual swish of cloak, every eye in the Great Hall stuck to him. Even the rest of the teaching staff appeared to be uncomfortable in the company of a former believed murderer. Hermione noticed that the Divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, kept throwing nervous glances towards Snape every three seconds and fidgeted on her stool so energetically that she was ready to fall off any minute now.
The only people who did not cast Professor Snape any glances, except for Hermione, were Harry and Ron.
Their reasons, however, were based in different foundations. Harry, most probably, felt there was nothing new to observe in his DADA teacher that he did not already know while Ron, on the other hand, most probably held himself to keep from cursing the Professor, which he would probably do if he even once looked up into his smirking face.
“So, what is our first lesson?” asked Hermione, addressing Harry in order to somehow break the gloomy tension between their trio. Her question sounded especially loud in the silent Hall but not one head turned towards her. Hermione guessed that the students possessed a much more interesting subject to observe. Snape, much to his credit did not make one sign revealing that he knew he was under a close study from over four hundred students.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Harry murmured back.
“Oh-,” was the only thing that Hermione found to say.
Ron, oblivious to their poor attempt at making conversation, picked up his bag full of books and, without a word, left the table. Hermione only heavily sighed as she looked at Ron’s retreating back. It was a war of wills now between them and she had to agree with herself that the pair of them were too stubborn to accept that both of them were wrong, as always.
“Well, come on. I think it’s time for us to get going to our classes as well. I bet Snape would rub his hands in joy if we enter the classroom even a mere second after he did,” said Harry and also stood up from the table, closely followed by Hermione.
After the two of them exited the Great Hall, Hermione heard a loud crash behind her.
Professor Trelawney\'s stool had finally collapsed.
The wooden door flew open letting Snape glide into the dimly lighted chamber. His entrance was as dramatic as always, finishing by facing the front of the class with a swish of his black cloak. All the seventh year students sat more still than statues, looking up at their Professor like mice onto a rattler.
“Page 694, children,” ordered Snape in his usual oily voice.
Hermione had a feeling that that particular unflattering comment was reserved especially for her. Ignoring it she hastily found the needed page and felt her eyes transform to the size of two galleons. She was far from the only one who got a shock from what she had seen as the class uttered exclamations.
“Dark Magic Among Forbidden Sexual Acts”
This was the caption at the top of the page.
“P-Professor S-Snape...are you-are you positively s-sure that you have ind-indicated the right page?!”
cried out Seamus Finnegan whose face at present could have rivaled with a beetroot.
Snape looked at Seamus with a dangerous glint in his eyes that did not promise anything good.
“Do you doubt my mental abilities, Mr. Finnegan?” he asked.
“Of- of course not, Professor!”
“Ten points from Gryffindor for questioning a Professor on his ability to teach his subject!” sneered Snape sadistically while poor Seamus just stayed seated with his mouth agape, wondering what just happened.
“Thank you for the unneeded interruption, Mr. Finnegan, but we are going to continue the lesson with or without you,” said Snape and when Seamus did not make a move to exit the chamber, he made a few steps closer to the students and with a deliberate slowness asked;
“Who could list me all the sexual acts that are considered as crimes in the Wizarding world?”
The class stayed absolutely silent and still. Hermione only had time to wonder what Snape would throw next from his sadistic arsenal when he suddenly turned towards her desk. The eyes that met hers were dripping with mockery and Hermione felt Harry stiffen beside her.
“What, you have no answers to my questions, Miss Know-It-All?” he asked and snickering followed his comment, most probably coming from the Slytherins. “I thought that perhaps you were the only one educated enough by your books in this entire class who might answer this delicate question. Or perhaps I am wrong and you are not that educated in the end?”
This time the Slytherins did not even bother to silence their laughter and Pansy Parkinson even had tears in her eyes she laughed so hard. Hermione on the other hand, felt herself getting redder by every passing second as Snape’s hints were registered by her brain. It appeared that Snape decided to place all of his long kept frustration on his “fiancйe” and was using the most repulsive and open way to do it. Like Parkinson, Hermione felt her eyes water but unlike the Slytherin girl, her tears were brought by sheer humiliation.
The sympathetic glances that were thrown at her from her fellow Gryffindors did not make Hermione feel any better for she knew too well that not a single one of them would stand against Professor Snape and risk getting a detention. But it appeared that Snape’s comments had thrown Harry off the hook and with a disturbing slowness he raised himself from the desk. He stood a mere foot away from Professor Snape, but Harry was oblivious to the fact that it was a Hogwarts teacher who stood in front of him while rage and anger covered his eyes.
“Do not ever-you hear me?- ever speak to Hermione in such a manner again or I will make sure that the Ministry changes its mind about your innocence. Mark me on that,” hissed Harry with a menace that Hermione had never heard from him before.
For a brief moment Hermione had the ultimate pleasure of observing a stunned expression cross Snape’s face. But the pleasure quickly wilted when she saw his eyes blaze with an intensity of hell itself. It probably took him all of his self-control to darkly hiss with a shaking voice;
“Detention, Potter. For the rest of the month, including a deduction of a hundred points from Gryffindor.”
Without another word Harry sat back onto his chair with a controlled blank face. Only Hermione saw the way his right hand itched to seize his wand and curse Snape once and for all for everyone’s good.
Hermione impulsively put her right hand on top of his and gently squeezed it, giving both a reassurance and a silent ‘thanks’. She lifted her hand only after Harry squeezed it back and Hermione felt sure that he would not do anything rash.
Hermione found Snape standing where he was before with a slight frown now creasing his forehead. When he, however, met her eyes the frown quickly vanished only to be replaced by his infamous smirk.
The most embarrassing lesson of Hermione’s life continued while a professional looking Professor Snape paced around the chamber regularly giving them some disturbing details to scribble on a piece of parchment. Some of the mentioned topics brought color even to some of the Slytherins’ cheeks while perplexed Gryffindors looked like they would drop off with a fifty degree fever any minute now.
Yes, thought Hermione gloomily, looking up at the tall man speaking in front of her, this marriage would yet be published in the new addition of \"Hogwarts: A History\".
Tomorrow I\'m going to be a married woman.
Hermione wasn\'t sure when she started referring to herself as a woman. Not many guys found her attractive before, but that began to change at the end of her sixth year at Hogwarts. Hermione was not entirely sure of what had happened but suddenly one day boys started holding doors for her, attempting to buy her a drink and occasionally throwing daring suggestions. Muggles and wizards alike.
It did not matter that her marriage was going to be only an official illusion. Hermione was brought up to believe that marriage vows could only be sealed with love, so even the mere ceremony was enough to give her butterflies in the stomach. She however, was not so naive to think that there was chemistry between Professor Snape and herself. This marriage was going to be just one of the minor sacrifices that had to be made during this cold war. Dear Merlin, thought Hermione and shivered, if that is one of the minor sacrifices, I do not want to know what sacrifices are going to be made when the war will truly begin.
She had been lying in her bed for the past half an hour now, vainly trying to summon all of her Gryffindor courage to ask one simple question to one of her roommates, Parvati.
Parvati, on her part, seemed to ignore all of Hermione’s earlier heavy sighs and it began to anger Hermione to be dismissed thus. With anger, however, came courage. Good.
“Do you have an evening dress I could borrow for tomorrow evening?” rushed Hermione on one breath.
That seemed to catch all of Parvati’s attention as she froze beside her bedside with a book still clutched in her hand.
Hermione knew that she was in trouble the moment Parvati turned her interested wide eyes upon her. Parvati’s reputation was mainly based upon her gossiping talent that she had achieved to tremendously improve during her years at Hogwarts. The rule was simple: if Parvati knew, everybody knew.
“Why do you need it?” she asked curiously.
“A date.” squeaked back Hermione. It wasn’t precisely a truth but not a lie either.
It seemed impossible for Parvati’s eyes to get even bigger, but they did. In addition, her mouth had taken the shape of a big ‘o’ as her brain most probably digested all the given information for storage.
“And who is-“
“I will tell you nothing more about this subject, Parvati!” firmly interrupted Hermione.
“Fine, fine! I just wondered who the lucky guy was! As far as I am aware, you haven’t had a boyfriend since Victor Krum. Or am I wrong?” asked Parvati with fake innocence.
Hermione snorted in return.
“You could have hardly called Victor my boyfriend, Parvati. And as for other boyfriends, it is no one’s concern how many I have had during my short lifetime!”
“Oh, fine! Suit yourself! As if you ever wanted to share something with me!” exclaimed Parvati. But before she turned towards her closet, Hermione detected something like hurt flash in her eyes. That made Hermione think. Did she really ever share something girlish with Parvati ever since they became roommates? The time that wasn\'t taken up by her studies was constantly filled with Harry / Voldemort problems. Why couldn’t she at least once, only once, behave like any other seventeen year old girl and discuss problems that concerned only clothes, make-up and boys?
“Do you, by any chance, have something from Gucci or Dior?” Hermione asked suddenly.
This time Parvati’s eyes reflected surprise and something else that Hermione couldn’t understand. But what Hermione was certain about was that even though Parvati was a pure-blood witch she took an unhealthy interest in Muggle clothing. Only the expensive brands, of course.
“Sure, I’ve got a Gucci dress. But I should warn you, the moment you rip it the next week or so you will spend in Madame Pomfrey’s loving care.”
Hermione’s eyes widened at that and looked at Parvati like a doctor usually did at his new mental patient.
“You hexed your own dress?”
“Why not?” asked Parvati calmly. “It’s not as if I am going to be the one hexed. Only a stranger who would tear my dress would get injured. A very handy spell I shall say. I may rip it a zillion times without anything happening to me while somebody else’s body inside it would get the full blast!” she finished triumphantly.
Hermione tried but failed to school her face into a stern disapproving mask. A huge grin split her face in two mirroring the one that wore Parvati. They achieved something that they hadn’t in the previous six years; to understand each other.
After much fussing and muttering, Parvati finally produced something from her closet. When she turned to display it to her roommate in all of its grandeur, Hermione’s eyebrows flew up as she observed the dress in front of her with an expression of distrust and doubt.
“Now at least I know why you have hexed it..,” muttered Hermione.
Parvati just knowingly smiled back, looking at her possession with a glint of pride.
“...but there’s no way I’m going to put it on,” finished Hermione.
“Nonsense! If I understand correctly (it is rarely that I don’t) tomorrow is going to be a very important day for you, no matter who your secret admirer is. As a result, like any other girl your age you should traditionally smitten your cavalier on the very first date. Believe me, with this dress you are going to be more than victorious and I could just bet that your guy will fall head over heels in love with you...if he’s not already!”
Hermione could tell that Parvati was earnest but she couldn’t help but smirk at her comment.
“Love? I don’t think there‘s such a word in his vocabulary,” commented Hermione.
“Oh, come on! I am aware that ninety-nine percent of all the male population on the planet consists of chauvinist pigs but even they are not immune to love!” exclaimed Parvati.
Hermione heavily sighed in return. She couldn’t see why Parvati didn’t understand what she was saying. At least one look at me should have explained my comment, thought Hermione.
“I’m not talking about the male population’s faults, Parvati. Of course, maybe even he has a capability deep inside himself to love, but I would definitely be the last target of his desire. Anyway, who would like to mingle with such an ugly girl like me?”
Hermione\'s tone did not hold any self-loathing; her words were presented as facts. With the same kind of voice she answered teacher’s questions, full of determination that there’s nothing that could contradict her knowledge.
Parvati stayed mute for some time as she silently looked at Hermione’s half sitting form from head to foot. Her close observation was finished by a disbelieving shaking of her head. The look that she gave Hermione clearly said that she thought her roommate’s place was in St. Mungo’s rather than at Hogwarts.
“When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror, Granger? Six years ago?”
“N-no, why do you ask?” asked the puzzled Hermione.
In answer, Parvati just waved her hand in the air as if dismissing the question.
“Never mind! Well, would you like to try it now or would you rather wait until tomorrow?” she asked instead. The theme of clothes appeared to be an easier one for her to discuss rather than dealing with emotional issues.
Hermione vigorously shook her head without giving this idea even one minute of thought.
“No, no. I would rather leave this...operation for tomorrow, if you don’t mind.”
Parvati shrugged and calmly replied;
“Tomorrow it is...”
Sweet Surrender by witch