Harry & Hermione
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enahma - Coming off the Ropes
Chapter 15 - Hogsmeade again
Betaed by Barbara
Thank you for your reviews.
What about THIS chapter? I was waiting for it for ages. :-)
Chapter 15 - Hogsmeade again
"So, how do you summarise the differences between Light and Dark magic?"
Harry sighed and tried to collect his thoughts about the last week's readings. Severus had given him a lot to read and memorise about Dark Magic: two entire books and several articles and monographs. He had spent all his free time reading and taking notes. But the amount made his summarising now quite difficult.
"I think there is only one great difference between them," he managed to say after some minutes. "The intent."
"Very good. Can you explain it to me in greater detail?"
"Sure. We can't speak about Dark or Light form of magic, it's not the magic which is Dark or Light, but everything depends on its user."
Snape furrowed his brows.
"What about the Unforgivables, then?"
Harry looked at him in surprise.
"I've totally forgotten about them!"
"Well, then try to find the answer now. I'm sure you have read a lot about them."
"Yes, I did..." Harry drew his knees to his chest and embraced them. They were in the living room in their quarters, Harry was sitting on the sofa, while Severus occupied his favourite brown armchair. "I think the problem with them is that you can't use them for Light aims. I mean you can't reach positive goals with them. You can only cause pain or death by them."
"What about the Imperius?"
Harry closed his eyes in thought.
"The Imperius too is a kind of violence, I guess. The violation of the will," his eyes suddenly opened. "But now I can't understand why Tormenta is a Light curse. You can only cause harm and pain with it!"
"A very good question, Quiet," Severus nodded seriously. "You didn't read anything about it, did you?"
"No. In the books, there were only the dark curses, and I didn't find Tormenta amongst them."
"Because Tormenta is not a Dark curse."
Harry crossed his arms in annoyance and glared at Snape.
"I don't agree."
"You don't need to agree. Tormenta was - or more correctly: is - a Light spell for centuries. Only in this century, during the previous war it became the Light counterpart of the Cruciatus. It served originally pedagogical purposes."
"Oh, now I can understand Figg's motives in casting it on me!" Harry said sarcastically.
"Quiet. First of all: in the past physical punishment was a vital part of the education. Second: the Auror training contains physical training regimes to develop the stamina of the future Auror, who has to support pain as well as weariness, fame and others. Tormenta is a simple instrument to reach these goals."
"I still can't see the difference between Cruciatus and Tormenta."
"There are many differences. You know, Tormenta has no physical after- effects, not even in case of repeated uses, while a sole Cruciatus causes slight neural and muscle injuries. Not to mention that these effects are cumulative, so the repeated use of Cruciatus can cause serious and many times irreversible mental and physical disorders."
Harry looked at him eye to eye.
"Was that the reason you cast it on me, when...?"
Snape paled slightly.
"Partially, yes. But there are other differences. May I continue?"
Harry merely nodded and Snape went on.
"The Tormenta can be shielded against, while there isn't any shield that can stand against Cruciatus and the other Unforgivables. You can use a shield to weaken them, but you can't stop them totally."
Harry leaned forward and nodded.
"Third: the effects of the Tormenta curse can't be worsened, even with the parallel use of tormenting equipment or potions. The curse has no effects of the neurological system of the body: after a certain amount of pain the cursed lose consciousness. The Cruciatus, applied alongside other curses or potions doesn't let the cursed person lose consciousness."
"I see," Harry said breathing deeply. "And what about the other tormenting curses? I think I know plenty of them, I'm acquainted with them personally."
"Look. The use of the tormenting curses, including the Tormenta, when it's cast for other than pedagogical purposes, is severely punished, but they aren't Unforgivables, which are punished by life imprisonment or the Dementor's Kiss. Their nature is much more evil and the damage they do is harder to fix."
"I think it's enough for today, Quiet. I give you another book to read for the next week. It would have been the first book I made you read if I had received that blasted Defence job," he muttered sneering. "I tried to recommend it for Arabella, but she has her own ideas..."
"She is rather good," Harry said seriously. "Well, she doesn't like me, but she is almost as good as Lupin was. I've never suspected it before, when I was sitting in her house with the cats, but... she's all right."
Snape snorted, but didn't comment on Harry's words. The silence deepened between them, and Severus stood up and stepped up to the bookshelf and pulled his book out of it. But just before he could open it, Harry decided to ask the question he had already wanted to for a week.
"Severus, how can you persuade a girl that you... that you like her?"
The book almost fell from Snape's hand. He turned on his heel and his look was so appalled as never before. Harry grinned idiotically at him and shifted flusteredly.
"Why do you ask it?" Snape asked back.
"Well, I think it's obvious," Harry said and gulped. His embarrassment grew with every moment. "There's a girl and- and I don't know- I..." he couldn't continue. He turned totally red and averted his gaze from the man in front of him.
In the meantime Severus managed to regain his composure and collapsed into his favourite chair.
"Couldn't we continue with the Dark Art course instead?" he asked.
Harry's jaw fell.
"Are you kidding?" Harry said in total disbelief.
"If you want professional guidance in Dark Magic, I can help you. But I don't think I'm the appropriate person to answer your previous question about girls."
"Do you fancy men?" Harry croaked a smirk.
"Don't be impertinent, Quiet. I don't fancy anybody. For ages."
There was something in Snape's voice that stopped Harry teasing him any more.
"Sorry," he mumbled. "I just- I just have some problems and I thought you could give me some advice."
"Concerning the girl I managed to drive away with my behaviour."
"What did you do?"
"I was suspicious," Harry said sadly. "After my vision I became so paranoid that I drove her away. I always shunned her, and avoided her and finally, she got bored and sent back my Christmas gift by his brother."
Severus lifted an eyebrow.
"So she was she the mysterious 'others' you wanted to send a gift via your new owl!"
"Precisely. But I don't want to... lose her."
"Did you date her?"
"No. We just- you know. Just smiled and things like this."
Snape smirked evilly.
"It could be an interesting relationship..."
Harry's face darkened.
"It is not ridiculous! Or not more than your celibacy!" he said and he turned his look to the fire.
Harry just shrugged.
"It's not easy to confess that I've never dated anybody, and you laugh at me!"
It was Snape's turn to sigh.
"Well, sorry. I didn't want to hurt you."
Harry looked at him.
"I want to apologise too."
"Accepted," Severus said, "and who is the girl you want to win?"
"Leah Moon, a fifth year Hufflepuff."
"Yes, I know her. She is rather clumsy in Potions."
"Marvellous. Do you always base your opinion on one's performance in that blasted Potions class of yours?"
"No," Severus smirked. "Sometimes I make an exception, mostly if I have the opportunity to see them anywhere else."
"All right. So your advice is: forget that girl, she is horrible in Potions, I will never give my blessing to your relationship."
"You're mental. You can date her if you want."
"But SHE doesn't want!"
"Oh, well..." Severus tapped his chin in thought. "You should speak to her somehow."
"Janus said he would kill me if I go near to his sister."
"Don't tell me he's brilliant in Potions and so he is perfectly right!"
"You are better than him so I take your side," Severus's eyes glittered merrily. "What about a common detention with her? Scrubbing desks and cauldrons?"
"It would be a very romantic situation," Harry groaned. "Better idea?"
"Hey, I don't intend to supervise a numberless amount of detentions with two lovesick teenagers! I just think it would be a good chance to speak to her, to fix the problems."
"Severus. My biggest problem is that I don't know what to tell her. 'Sorry, but I thought you were Voldemort's agent and so I avoided you?' or what else?"
"You can blame Ron's behaviour..."
"Saying: 'Hey, I was so upset because of Ron that I couldn't help but shun you?' Not too good. And Janus believes I'm dating Hermione."
"I know! She is excellent in Potions, she would be better than Leah!" Harry cried desperately.
"No. I thought you could ask her," Snape answered simply. Harry's face lit.
"That's a good idea."
"And when you figured out what to tell her, I will give you that detention. Right?"
Harry smiled with relief.
Harry slammed the book with a loud 'thud'. 'Seeing in the Dark' was the title of it. It was the book Severus recommended to him. Harry, after finishing the second chapter, began to feel sorry that Severus had never received the Defence job. The book was an excellent one, it answered a lot of questions - and provoked new ones. But he still had some homework to work on: the Charms essay first of all about the memory altering charms.
Suddenly, Lockhart came into his mind. It would be a perfect example in the essay about the 'Obliviate' spell's effects. Unfortunately he, Quietus Snape, had never met the man, and hadn't even seen him Obliviating himself with Ron's broken wand. Harry sighed and smirked, and another, unprintable example came to his mind. It was a short remark of Severus's about the repeated use of Firewhisky. And there was another warning from the Potions Master about sex and oblivion, but neither of them fitted a Charms essay, Harry thought bitterly.
But then another conversation came to his mind: the conversation he and Severus had had in Nightmare Manor about the reversing of the memory charm's effects. He shuddered as he thought of the man's serious words that Severus would sacrifice his mind for Harry... It was a dreadful possibility. Harry stood up and walked to the Charms section of the Library. There were a lot of books - and many about memory altering charms, but Harry couldn't see any about the restoring part. He ran his index finger through the spines reading each title attentively. Sometimes he pulled out a book and leafed through it reading the titles of the chapters, but after two long hours of searching he still couldn't find any. He sighed and he turned to Madam Pince with his problem.
"I guess you can find them amongst the medical books, or perhaps amongst the psychology books - and you mustn't skip the muggle psychology books, mainly those, which deal with amnesia," and so on, without an end. In less than ten minutes Harry had in hand almost fifty titles and Madam Pince allowed him to borrow three of the most rare books too for his father's sake.
Some minutes after he sat back with the books in his hand, Neville arrived from the greenhouses.
"The Charms essay?" he asked in disbelief. "But we have almost two weeks to write it!"
"Well, I've found a topic I'm interested in," Harry said and ushered Neville to the chair next to him. "Your homework?"
"Fine," Neville said. "Except for that Patronus curse."
"That's a charm," Harry corrected him without thinking.
"You sound like Hermione," Neville complained. "Where is she?" he added suddenly.
"Don't know. Contrary with the popular belief I'm not dating her," Harry said angrily.
"I know," Neville snapped. "But you behaved like a git in the last few weeks. Any problem?"
Harry cast an apologetic look at Neville.
"Sorry. Some bad news, nothing more."
"Care to tell me?"
"Not yet. I know that I behaved disgustingly in the past weeks, but- but, look, Neville, I can't tell you. Maybe later. I don't know."
"I understand, Quietus," Neville said soothingly. "I don't think your situation is easy and there are a lot of things you have to take into consideration, you can't tell us everything you want. But it doesn't mean you have to avoid us! I think Ares needs you, he is always looking for a chance to talk to you, but you don't give a damn!"
"I-I..." Harry said stuttering, but he didn't know what to say.
"You are still unsure about him?"
Harry lowered his head.
"I don't envy your situation," Neville said finally. "But I still don't think it's a good idea to avoid us. Or him. It's like as if you were playing with us."
"I hate this situation as much as you," Harry snapped. "But it's not easy to decide. I'm afraid Voldemort is after Severus and..." he looked at the wide-eyed Neville. "What?"
"You- you said his name!"
"Father and the Headmaster say it too, and I was raised by muggles who weren't afraid to call everything by their name!"
Neville stood up.
"Very well. If you want to talk to us in the future..."
"Hey, Neville, sit down. Don't go away. We can write that Charms essay together if you want."
They stared at each other for some minutes, but finally, Neville sat back.
"All right. I have plenty of free time now. Well, and I still haven't finished that Potions essay about the healing features of aconite."
"I can recommend a good book, if you want," Harry unrolled his parchment.
"No need. I have plenty of books. I was just too lazy to finish it."
The Three Broomsticks was crowded that afternoon, but Harry couldn't see anybody from the school, except from Hagrid in a dark corner, deep in conversation with a stranger.
"I hope not another dragon egg," Hermione muttered. Harry smiled as he thought of Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback. Hagrid still had the bad habit to befriend strangers and collect impossible animals. He lifted his butterbeer to his lips and sipped a warm draught.
"I think you can tell her you didn't want to endanger her," she continued their conversation all of a sudden. "It's the most believable reason."
"But I don't want to talk her about such serious things. I only told you, nobody else. If I told her that Vol- er... You-Know-Who is after my father and Dumbledore thinks the most probable method that he would blackmail Severus is by using me..."
"But why did you tell me? Why do you trust me more than her?"
It was a totally unexpected question so that Harry couldn't open his mouth for a while. Hermione was right, he as Quietus Snape had no reason to trust her more than Leah, but-
"Potter trusted you, Severus told me."
"He could have been wrong..."
Harry's eyes were sad as he lifted them to the girl.
"It's too hard not to trust anybody," he said quietly. Hermione didn't answer just nodded.
"Yeah. But... sorry I have to go," she waved towards the toilet with her head.
"Of course, go. I'll wait for you," he said.
He looked after Hermione as she disappeared in the crowd, when a sudden voice snapped him out of his light daze.
"Snape, I want a word with you. But not here."
It was Ron. An evil foreboding attacked Harry.
"I haven't got anything to say to you," Harry said and turned his gaze back to the crowd.
"But I have. In private. Will you come or I have to make a row right here?"
Harry hesitated for a moment then he stood up.
"Right. You have five minutes."
"'s enough," Ron turned around and headed towards the entrance. Harry followed him closely. As they were out of the pub, Harry stopped.
"Not in the entrance," Ron waved dismissively.
Suddenly, the entrance opened and a group of half-drunken wizards tottered out, almost knocking Harry off his legs. Harry shook his head and stepped aside half-heartedly. In a moment he found himself in a dark alleyway face to face with an extremely pissed off Ron.
"So, this is your last stroke!" Ron hissed at his face. Harry ducked back, his expression puzzled.
"What are you talking about?"
"You want everything, everything that once belonged to me! My friend, my house, my family and now my girlfriend too!
"Don't lie to me!" Ron yelled angrily. "I saw you together."
"We were just talking. Nothing else."
"NOTHING ELSE? What about snogging with her after Arithmancy?"
"SNOGGING?" Harry couldn't believe his ears. "I've never snogged her, or more so: I've never wanted to do it!"
"Stop lying, Snape. There are witnesses to it! You were so entwined in each other arms that you didn't even notice that you were not alone!"
"Hey, Weasley. You contradict yourself. Now, were we snogging or embracing?" he sneered at the red-haired boy. "It's not the same!"
The next moment a wand was pointed to his neck so aggressively that he could barely breathe.
"So you confess to it!"
"I don't have anything to confess!"
Ron stepped back, but his wand was still in his hand.
"All right then. You deny it. But I don't believe you. I will never believe you. Terry saw the two of you, and after that you were late for defence class."
Harry gulped as he suddenly remembered. Good lord! Who'd have guessed the consequences of a simple friendly act? But he couldn't say anything. It would be too long to explain it to an angry and biased enemy. He crossed his arms and cast a despising look at Ron.
"I don't fancy your girlfriend. We are only friends."
"Filthy Sly," Ron's fingers became white as he clenched the wand.
Harry reached for his own, but his fingers grabbed mere air.
It was HIS wand on Ron's grip. He paled.
"Give me back my wand, Weasley."
"Why, little Sly? Do you want to hex me? To torture me? To kill me after you have stolen everything from me?"
"I've never hurt you!" Harry yelled impatiently. "Give me back my wand!"
"And my nose?" Ron teased him with an evil smirk.
"You provoked me!"
"As you provoked me! You didn't do anything all the year, except provoke me continually!" Ron snapped at him and stepped closer. Harry wanted to bend down to grab his other wand which was slipped into his boots, but he couldn't. He looked at his ex-friend's mad eyes and cringed inwardly. "But you know that fortunately there are people who don't believe you. Who see through you."
"Percy told me an interesting detail about you," Ron's smirk widened and his eyes narrowed dangerously. Harry began to panic. "Your little scars all over your body."
He poked Harry's chest with the wand, and drew it towards his shoulders. Harry couldn't move in his half-panic, a nauseous feeling emerged in him. Ron pricked his shoulder and his arms.
It began to snow. Some snowflakes tickled his face. Harry shuddered.
"Oh, you don't like it!" Ron smirked and leaned into Harry's face. "I can do more than a simple nudging, you know it..."
Harry paled and closed his eyes in horror. He felt as if he suddenly found himself in a torture chamber, exposed and humiliated, and totally impotent.
"Leave me alone," he mumbled, but he was sure Ron wouldn't release him without...
"No. I won't."
The snow increased. It had been snowing for five days, so the snow covered everything, it was up to Harry's knees. As he staggered back, he sank even up to his trousers. He felt as snow entered his boots.
"I don't care that pathetic life-debt, Sly," said Ron as he drew the wand over Harry's neck, throwing the scarf away from him. The wind barked into Harry's exposed skin.
"Leave me alone," Harry repeated, hating himself for his damned weakness.
"You are not so brave now, are you? Your precious father is not here to save you!"
A greater wind-blow drove a large amount of snow into Harry's neck.
"Revelo," Ron muttered sadistically and Harry was very grateful for the hat was pulled over his eyes covering his scar on his forehead. But Ron wasn't interested in his forehead. He was examining the red lines appearing on Harry's neck. "Pretty scars, Sly."
The wand now followed the scars' route. Harry's blood froze. He couldn't even open his mouth anymore.
"You know, that there exists a pretty curse, which can deal beautifully with your scars. Do you want me to try it?" Ron asked, looking at Harry's dilated pupils.
Harry shook his head violently.
"Percy told me about it. But I think I want to see it in practice."
Harry's shoulders slumped. Ron leaned to him again, and he whispered, as if he would like to say something secret-
The Knife Curse. Harry remembered it, however, he had experienced only once, by Severus's hand.
It had been horrible, but that time he had had no scars all over his body, which now went up in flames and Harry fell onto his knees in the sudden and almost unbearable pain.
But he didn't give Ron the satisfaction of yelling, crying in pain. He clenched his teeth tightly and opened his eyes. The snow under him was dotted with blood. His cuts had reopened again.
And still, Ron didn't want to finish the curse. Harry, only half-conscious and totally burning with pain, collected all his willpower, reached to his left boot and pulled out his real wand with one movement.
"Stupefy," he croaked in an absolutely hoarse voice.
He heard Ron's body hitting the ground, but the pain didn't decrease. On the contrary, he felt his clothes becoming soaked with blood. He reached out for his scarf and with a painful move wrapped it around his neck. But he still was unable to stand up.
Harry crept to Ron and pulled his father's wand out of the boy's grip and slipped the other back into his left boot. He sat on his heels.
"Ennervate," Harry whispered pointing at Ron.
Ron stirred and opened his eyes. As he realised that he was defenceless, and his enemy was kneeling in front of him with a wand pointed at him, he paled violently.
"I could take revenge now," Harry whispered, and he could feel his consciousness going slowly away. "But I won't. You are worse than Voldemort. But I won't tell Severus what you did. He would kill you. Truthfully. But never, NEVER come near me again."
Helping himself up with his hands, he rose. The world was whirling around him, but he ignored it. He didn't look back. He didn't know how he got to the pub's entrance either.
He felt somebody's arms around him.
"It was Ron, wasn't it?" Hermione asked.
"Don't tell Severus, please. He'd kill him. Please."
He didn't hear the girl's answer.
In the dark alleyway Ron was sitting in the whirling snow, his eyes fixed on the spot his rival had been lying in.
It was red. It was angry red with blood.
Ron reached his hand and touched the place his enemy was kneeling when he took his wand back. It was still warm and steaming in the icy air.
What did he do?
Suddenly, the events of the last half year began to fill his mind.
He wasn't bad. He wasn't unfair. He wasn't biased.
He was evil, more evil than the Dark Lord.
'You are worse than Voldemort.' The words echoed in his mind and he had to agree.
Quietus had always been fair to him. He tried to befriend him. He was a quiet, shy boy, only his prejudice showed him an intruder, an arrogant bastard. His prejudice - towards his father!
Quietus had saved Neville. Quietus had saved Seamus. Quietus had beaten Malfoy. Quietus had saved him of all people. After all he had said and done to him. After all Percy had said and done to him. How could he treat the boy like this? How could he be so cruel?
How could he remedy the problems he had made, to repair the injuries he had caused?
Something in his head said he couldn't.
And he couldn't help but understand.
What he had done wasn't something to be fixed easily. Or to be fixed at all.
The scream shocked the pub's guests. The conversations stopped, the mugs of butterbeer halted in their way towards the thirsty lips. A pretty, brown- haired girl stood in the door with a look of utter horror on her face.
"Hagrid, come! Hurry!"
The half-giant blinked at the compelling tone, but he obeyed nevertheless.
"What's on, 'Mione?"
"It's Quiet," she explained hastily. "He fainted. Blood loss. Something has happened," she grabbed Hagrid's hand and tugged it violently. "Hurry, please!"
"I have to pay the bill..."
"NO! Come, please," she tugged him again.
Hagrid cast an apologetic glance towards Rosmerta, and she nodded in consent. They left the pub.
The snow around Harry was red with blood.
"Oh, my God!" Hagrid couldn't move.
"We have to bring him to the school, as fast as possible! You can carry him!" Hermione snapped him out of his trance. "Lift him and come!"
Hagrid cautiously collected the limp body into his arms and lifted as softly as he could.
"You don't have to be cautious! He's unconscious, he doesn't feel anything!" Hermione tapped impatiently. "Let's go now!"
But they barely made a step when a cold voice stopped him.
"In my arms, professor," Hagrid answered obediently. "He's unconscious."
Snape staggered. Hermione grabbed his arm.
"We have to bring him to Madam Pomfrey now!"
"What happened?" the professor asked the tear-soaked girl.
"I- I don't know. I went to the toilet. I left him alone for three or four minutes. When I returned he was nowhere to be seen. Somebody said he just wanted to have a word with someone, but he would return soon. I waited for ten minutes then I decided to look for him. I left the pub and I found him at the entrance, half-unconscious. He fainted. I called for Hagrid," Hermione explained gasping for breath as they struggled to keep pace with the giant's enormous steps. Hermione was almost totally blinded by her tears, so her steps were more tottering than Snape's. When she finally fell onto the ground, Snape helped her up and forced her to take his arm.
Hermione later couldn't remember their trip's details. It contained a lot of tottering, falling, staggering, a lot of tears on all their parts, except for the unconscious Quietus, a lot of cold and icy wind, and most of all it seemed centuries while they reached the school's gates.
In the Infirmary somebody pushed a mug of hot tea into her hand, and her outer robes were stripped from her together with her wet boots, and she poured the hot tea in somebody's lap, and finally she was crying on the shoulder of a very surprised Potions Master. This last piece of memory was the only fixed point amongst the evening's events.
It was a little bit later when Quietus regained consciousness and mumbled something to Snape, which sounded like 'I have to be killed by Voldemort, dad, don't worry,' and Snape replied some nonsense to it.
Later she was lying on a bed, her blanket wrapped around her tightly. The Infirmary was dark, and somebody cried. It was Snape, kneeling beside the bed; his head leaning on his son's hand. Quietus was still unconscious. Hermione didn't dare move so as not to embarrass her teacher any further. She was thinking instead. Thinking of Quietus and Ron. Mostly Ron.
In the morning, just after Madam Pomfrey gave her permission to leave the Infirmary, she dressed and left the dazed teacher with his still unconscious son. She marched to the Great Hall, but Ron wasn't there. Seamus said that he was still in the dormitory.
"Hermione, what happened yesterday evening? I saw you with Snape and Hagrid and you were er... taking Snape's hand..."
"I was," Hermione nodded fervently. "And Hagrid was bringing Quietus in his arms. We found him in a pool of blood next to the Three Broomsticks."
Seamus paled, and Hermione saw that Neville dropped his fork.
"How is he?"
"I don't know. He hasn't regained consciousness yet. Madam Pomfrey won't allow anybody to visit him. She isn't sure he will live through the day."
With this, Hermione stood up and walked to Gryffindor Tower. She stood in front of the steps that lead to the boy's dormitories, and cried from the top of her lungs.
"Ron Weasley! Come immediately!"
She didn't have to wait too long. But just as Ron appeared, she grabbed him and left the common room. He pushed the obedient boy into an empty classroom and cast a silencing charm on the room.
"It's over, Ron. What you did is unforgivable, and whether Quietus survives or not, I don't want to speak to you ever again in my life. I warned you. If he survives I won't tell his father what you did, because he asked me no to with his last words, but if he dies, my first act will be to go to professor Snape WITH YOU, and I will tell him the whole story. BUT WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO HIM?" she shrieked the last words. "WHY? ANSWER ME!"
Ron collapsed onto a desk, his hands clinging powerlessly on his lap.
"I was jealous. I thought you cheated on me." He didn't dare to look at the girl.
"IF YOU THOUGHT THAT, WHY DIDN'T YOU SPEAK TO ME FIRST? I was your girlfriend, if I had cheated on you, it would have been MY decision first of all, not his! I had obligations towards you, he didn't! What did you cast on him?"
"The Knife Curse," Ron gulped, his voice was barely above a whisper.
A sharp crack shattered the deep silence. Ron's face was burning where Hermione's slap hit him.
"Was it Percy's suggestion? Was it he, who told you Quietus's secret? And you used it against him - a thing he was not responsible for, a thing, he was suffering so much for, and YOU USED AGAINST HIM? I can't believe I've ever thought of you being a human! I can't believe I was dating a bastard!"
"Shut up! I'm not interested in your pathetic excuses! Not any more! And if you ever come close to Quietus, I swear I will kill you personally!" With that she stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind her with a loud bang.
Ron stared at the door desperately. But she didn't come back.
She never came back.
The door of the Infirmary creaked slightly, but the sound seemed too harsh in the silence. Harry could see as the blurry figure, who was sitting next to his bed on a chair turned towards the door angrily and hissed.
"You can't..." but he couldn't finish.
"How is he?" asked a second voice. Harry felt as the tension of the sitting figure decreased somehow.
"Madam Pomfrey says he's better. And I think so too."
"May I come in?" the owner of the voice asked timidly. The blurry figure nodded, and the door opened more.
Hermione entered the room.
Harry was a little bit appalled by Severus's behaviour.
Severus stood up and dragged another chair next to the bed.
Harry suddenly wasn't sure if he was awake or not.
Hermione took the offered chair and sat on it, pulling her knees up to her chest.
"I was so afraid that he..." she didn't finish, just trembled.
"Me too," Severus whispered and Harry again was astonished at the friendly tones.
"But now... he will survive, won't he?" a hint of hope toned Hermione's voice.
"Of course," Severus tried his usual tone, but in Harry's opinion he failed.
After a short break Hermione opened her mouth again.
"For what?" Severus's voice was clearly NOT cold. Just surprised.
"For bringing me back."
"You came back on your own feet, Miss Granger," Snape waved away the thanksgiving. "And I think I owe you a thank-you. If you hadn't acted so fast..."
"And we both owe Hagrid," Hermione interrupted her teacher. Severus had to feel really poorly, because he didn't even try to snap for the impertinence.
"I think I owe both of you," Harry settled the short and quiet argument in a hoarse voice.
Both of them jumped to their feet.
"You're awake!" they cried in unison.
Harry cracked a half-smile as he looked at their embarrassed faces.
"Not entirely," he said and struggled to sit up.
"Stay still," Severus placed his palm on his chest and pushed slightly.
"I'm thirsty," Harry insisted.
Severus helped him to sit up, and Hermione carried a glass of water. When she tried to help Harry to drink he furrowed his eyebrows and took the glass from the girl.
And - of course - he poured its contents into his lap.
Hermione snickered, Severus smiled and Harry blushed.
"I did the same yesterday," Hermione remembered.
"It wasn't the same, Miss Granger. Your drink was boiling hot, and you poured not into your lap, but into mine. You nearly castrated me."
He said all this in a deadly stern voice, but both Harry and Hermione couldn't suppress a laugh.
"Hey, dad, you said that you..."
"Don't dare to open that big mouth of yours!" Severus lifted his index finger warningly. Harry shrugged, and he drank the second glass cautiously from Hermione's hand.
After Harry leaned back to his pillow, Severus's expression darkened and he crossed his arms over his chest, tapping his upper arm with his fingers in nervousness.
"Who was it?" he asked.
"I won't tell you. It was a mistake, and we settled it. I don't want to speak about it again."
"Quietus!" Snape said menacingly.
"No, Severus. I won't tell you."
"You are defending somebody."
"What an obvious observation," Harry shut his eyes. "I made a promise, Severus. I will never tell you. You would act hastily and thoughtlessly. I want you to be with me. I don't need you in prison."
"I..." Snape began, but Harry yawned loudly.
"I'm sleepy," he said and he turned on his side.
He could feel as careful hands tucked the blanket around him, and he could hear as Hermione argued with Severus, that the man needed some proper sleep and food, and he fell asleep relieved as Severus resisted and stayed with him.
He wasn't awake when Hermione returned with a tray of food and he missed the long, quiet conversation between the two as well.
In front of the sneering gargoyle Ron was waiting for a teacher to give him the password to the Headmaster's office.
Hey! I was enjoying myself writing it!
Next: Wednesday (if my permanently inhabitant guests will let me write...)