Chapter 10 : Chapter 9: Changes and Confusion
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Chapter 9: Changes and Confusion
Hermione was beyond agitated. It would even be safe to say that she was furious as she flipped through her copy of Robin Hood. Nothing in the book was the same anymore. She had thought at first that it had been an honest mistake on her part, mixing up Prince John’s parentage. I thought I remembered him being the king’s younger brother but the book said he was his nephew! Well, she thought bitterly, that’s the last time I trust this book! Hermione slammed the book shut and began to tap her foot. She was waiting for Snape to gather Draco and the castle steward for their meeting.
She gazed dispassionately around the jailhouse, noting that none of the other solders were about which was not a good sign for Snape. It likely meant that he had not been able to rally them around himself. Part of her wanted to rejoice in the knowledge that Harry, Ron, Neville and Luna would be able to dispatch the men easily but another part of her, the part that kept repeating the instructions from Dumbledore over and over in her head, knew that she was failing as their narrator. Robin Hood wasn’t supposed to have an easy time of it.
The door to the jailhouse banged open, startling Hermione from her reverie. Snape marched in, followed by a sullen looking Malfoy and the castle steward. Malfoy flung himself into a chair near one of the walls and Snape glowered up at her. “I have gathered them as you commanded. Now what shall I do with them?”
“Malfoy, you need to order the steward to change the date of the archery tournament to tomorrow.” Hermione said, trying to sound pleasant.
“What for?” Malfoy asked, whining slightly.
She ran a hand over her aching brow. “I don’t know what happened but I thought I had read that the tournament wouldn’t be until this weekend, the day before your wedding, but now it says that it is to be on Wednesday.” It was galling to admit her mistake; she hated being wrong.
Malfoy laughed derisively. “Imagine the mud-”
“SHUT UP DRACO!” Snape bellowed. Both of them jumped although the castle steward was still standing there, pleasantly ignorant of the fact that anything was going on around him. Snape studied her and Hermione felt the overwhelming need to squirm under his intense scrutiny. “Do you mean to say that your instruction are changing?”
Hermione shrugged, not being able to summon the words to confirm this and she flinched slightly, waiting for him to reign down his scathing comments upon her.
For several moments, he did not speak. “That old bastard,” Snape finally said and sighed heavily.
Hermione had to blink several times; she was sure she had heard him wrong. “Pardon?” Hermione looked straight down at him but also saw that Draco had sat up straight in his chair.
“Steward,” Draco began and instantly the man was on one knee in front of Malfoy. “I wish to change the archery contest to tomorrow. Please see to the arrangements.”
“Yes, sire,” the man simpered and got up to leave. No one spoke until the door had closed behind him.
Hermione went through several instances in her mind when Snape would keep Malfoy from insulting her but other than the obvious lightning strike, none of them seemed plausible. “I don’t understand what is going on here.”
“Granger, I beg you to keep your ignorance of the magical world to yourself.” Snape walked over to Malfoy and hauled him from his seat. “Go and prepare for the contest. You will be expected to open the tournament and you should contrive not to make a foot of yourself. Find the guard, Erik, and he will show you how to use a bow.”
“I don’t have to do what you say! I am the prince,” Draco told him, glaring at him. “I know what this means, just as well as you. You don’t need to-”
“GO!” Snape yelled and dragged the boy to the door, ejecting him from the room.
Hermione watched him pace for a few moments but finally the tension got to her. “What is going on here?”
Snape looked like he was going to chastise her, but thought better of it. Good, I’d have struck him with lightning again!When he did speak, his voice sounded hoarse. “You possess many faults, Granger, but misreading something has never been one of them. You have a singularly unnerving talent for ingesting everything that you read and being able to spit it back out again, verbatim. The fact that you think you were wrong about the facts is insignificant. The point is that you wouldn’t have been wrong.”
The light went on in her head and she finally saw what should have been so obvious to her in the first place. “I’m being manipulated,” she told him, relieved and appalled at the same time. Why would Dumbledore want to do this to me? “Is he changing my book around?”
“We are all being manipulated and I imagine that he is changing your book to suit his needs. Dumbledore set this up to teach us something, I am sure of it. The old man never stopped teaching.” Snape glided over to the chair that Malfoy had vacated and sat heavily, his head in his hands.
Hermione felt the old anger well up in her chest. “It isn’t like you would care about him! You did, after all, kill him!”
He didn’t even look up and instead of the anger that she had expected, her finger was on her lightning button, but he did not react. “I know I did and I will have to live with that for the rest of my life. I killed the man who trusted me and took me in. He believed in me when no one else would have and I killed him.”
“Don’t expect me to feel sorry for you,” she told him shortly although the truth was that the remorse in his voice was affecting her more than she wanted to admit.
He snorted, but was obviously not amused. “No, I neither expect nor want that from you. I knew what would happen and so did Dumbledore.”
Hermione’s eyes widened. “He… he… no! He couldn’t have known that you were going to kill him!”
“He did know,” Snape replied slowly. “I made an unbreakable vow to Draco’s mother that I would follow through with his mission. Naturally I informed Dumbledore of what I had done.”
“No…” Hermione said on a breath.
“He laughed and said that he figured it was best to know how one was going to go,” Snape voice caught for a moment. “Then I went up there that night and I knew he was dying, begging me to end it all and… I have never hated myself more than I did at that moment.”
Before she could respond, Malfoy rushed back into the room, slamming the wooden door behind him and standing with his back against it, breathing heavily.
“What is the matter Draco?” Snape asked, standing and regaining his former composure.
“The Weasley girl was with that guard and she took a swipe at my,” here he gestured towards himself. It was apparently too difficult to admit out loud that he’d nearly been emasculated.
“I told you to stay away from her,” Hermione reminded him. “She’s not at all happy to be marrying her uncle.”
“Uncle?” Snape said although a grin seemed to be fighting its way on to his face. “Is that another thing that has changed?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
“Uhg, that is disgusting! I am not marrying my niece!” Malfoy told them.
“As long as Robin succeeds, it won’t matter. You will lose her and we’ll all be able to go home and resume our former lives.” Hermione did not add that they would both be back to trying to kill her. It was better left unsaid.
“We won’t be leaving here until Dumbledore has told us what he wanted to!” Snape bit out. “You know it wouldn’t be that easy.”
“I bet Potter wants to marry that… uh,” Draco seemed to have caught himself. “That witch.”
“This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Hermione said. “I needed to check on your progress and see if you are in need of my help.”
“We don’t need your help,” Snape informed her.
“Your men don’t respect you,” she reminded him. “They are rallying around Ginny.”
Snape stood and squared his shoulders. “The Sheriff hasn’t done anything to deserve their respect and their prince,” here he waved a hand towards Malfoy, “hasn’t done anything to earn their love either. I don’t expect them to love me and I know that they certainly won’t give a damn about helping us. We’ve bullied and starved them, so can you tell me what I would have done to gain their trust?”
“Not much, I admit. I just thought that you might try.” Hermione said quietly.
“There is no point in my trying when it is clear that Potter must succeed,” Snape told her quietly.
Hermione gasped, suddenly clear on several things but apparently neither Snape nor Malfoy knew the significance of what he had said.
“Personally, I think thwarting Potter would be a laugh. He’s always such a,” again Malfoy stopped himself and looked up at her.
She nodded, “thank you for restraining yourself. Now, we need to discuss the tournament and your role in marrying Marian.”
“I still say that’s sick,” Draco muttered.
“It is sick, I agree but you have to keep up the pretence of trying to gain the crown. Many royals used to marry their family members.” Hermione said.
Malfoy sighed. “Well I am not really a royal.”
“You wouldn’t really be marrying her anyway.” She looked down at her notes, trying to remember what else she was supposed to talk with them but her notes were gone. “This is the second time this has happened!”
“What?” Snape asked.
“Nothing,” she told him hastily. “The tournament starts, as you know, with Malfoy firing the first arrow. Then he will judge the rest of the contest. Robin Hood is an outlaw, so you can assume that he’ll be there in disguise. If you spot him then you,” she pointed at Snape, “need to arrest him.”
“Fine, is that it?” Snape asked her and Hermione had to bite back her retort.
“I believe so,” she answered and was loathed to admit that he was being civil to her although she could not begin to guess why. “I’ll be off then. Call if you need me.”
“We won’t,” Snape said softly. “Need you, that is.”
She nodded and left the room to float back to the forest, thinking over what had just happened. Snape hadn’t meant to say that Harry would be the one to kill Voldemort because Snape didn’t know that Harry would be that person. Maybe he’s guessed though, convinced that this was why Dumbledore has always protected Harry. Could he know and if he did know what did that mean for them? Was Snape really to be trusted? Well, that one was easy at least. No.
It was galling to realize that someone she had hated and respected for so many years could go through so many transformations in her mind. She still hated him and she certainly didn’t know what to make of his confession of killing Dumbledore but it seemed that he had a grudging respect for her academic mind. The overlying question through it all was, what was Dumbledore planning for us and what is he trying to show me?
Hermione kept speeding towards the others, not aware that she’d taken a very important step towards winning Snape’s respect for her as a person or that she was the key to pulling it all together, although the realization was going to hit her soon. All she knew was that she was exhausted and she really wanted to see Ron again.
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