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Chapter 5 : Chapter 4-The Morning After
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Chapter 4-The Morning After
The first thing that Harry Potter was aware of as he awoke were the stabbing pains that shot through his body. He dimly remembered the cause of his injuries, as Ginny had attacked him and then sent him flying into the coffee table. He lifted his head and winced at the pain in his neck. His glasses landed at the end of his nose with a slight thud, as they had slipped slightly during the night. Harry took in his surroundings.
He was exactly where he had been last night when he fell asleep: on the couch in his living room. Ginny was on the opposite end of the sofa, still asleep, with an equally unconscious Ron snuggling in her arms. As he briefly thought of how he wished that he was the one curled up in her arms, Harry rubbed the back of his tender neck. Apparently it didn’t enjoy spending at least eight hours with his head in an awkward position on the back of a couch.
Stretching, Harry got off of the couch as quietly as he could. He headed over to the kitchen and began making breakfast.
Impatiently rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he jabbed at the coffee pot in an attempt to make it boil quicker. Instead, it resulted in an extremely loud explosion, which sent scalding hot water to spray everywhere. Harry let out a yelp as some of it hit him in the face, fogging up is glasses.
That's one way to wake myself up, he thought darkly.
He heard Ron groan. "Could you keep it down in there?" he muttered groggily.
Harry felt rather than saw Ginny rush to his side. "Are you alright?" she asked worriedly. Her hand traced his burned skin, and he winced.
"I'm fine," he insisted as she started to rub salve onto his skin. With a flick of her wand, Ginny cleared his glasses of steam, and he was met by her skeptical gaze. "Really, I am,"
She shook her head, and turned to the mess on the floor, muttering something about men. It wasn't that Harry didn't want her babying. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. Still, it was something that usually was shared only between the two of them, and Harry wasn't sure how Ron would react.
He needn't have worried himself. Ginny's brother emerged from the couch, face scrunched up and rubbing his forehead.
He glanced at Harry, then winced, shielding his eyes. "Did ya catch 'em?"
Harry frowned. The alcohol should be out of his system by now... "Catch who?"
Ron fell into a seat at the table. "The driver of the truck that slammed into me."
Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "I think you know the answer to that."
Ron shook his head, then held it in his hands. The room didn't stop swimming for a good several minutes. "Ron," Harry asked, concern lacing his voice, "You okay?"
"Yeah, I should know better than to drink that much."
He knew why he felt like crap. He knew that he had done this to himself. Hell, he even knew why he had done it. He had wanted not to think about Hermione. A pang of grief stabbed him in the heart as he thought about her. It hadn't worked.
"Yeah, you should," Harry agreed, slipping into a seat across from him.
Ginny placed some coffee on the table. "What, you two bums are going to make me do all the work this morning?" she exclaimed, arms crossed over her chest. Ron drew back, frightened for a moment. She looked just like their mum for a minute, and Ron wouldn't put it past either of the two women to make him do chores, even with a hangover.
Harry smiled. Reaching for her hand, he brought it to his lips and kissed it gently. Ron braced himself. "I'll be sure to make it up to you, then, love," Harry whispered, looking at Ginny in a way no brother ever wants to see. In spite of the smile of her own that was creeping on Ginny's face, Ron cleared his throat loudly. The couple jumped, apparently forgetting that they weren't alone. Ginny settled for giving Harry a peck on his forehead and went to make breakfast.
Harry grinned at him sheepishly. "Sorry, mate. That probably wasn't the best, considering the circumstances and all..."
"You don't have to tiptoe around it." Ron blurted. "Hermione left me. Simple as that." he spat bitterly.
Harry seemed to tense at his tone. "What?" Ron asked, puzzled by this sudden change.
"I just thought that it was the alcohol talking last night." he replied, his voice tight.
Now Ron was completely lost. He remembered coming home, Hermione telling him she was leaving, pouring a drink, and...that was about it until about five minutes ago. "Did I say something?" he asked worriedly.
"Yes, you said quite a few things actually." Harry stated icily. "I seem to recall you referring to Hermione as a bitch, among other things."
Ron felt his stomach drop. "I said that?" he whispered, mortified, as he sipped some of his coffee.
"I'm sorry, mate, you know I didn't mean that,"
Harry raised his eyebrows. "Do I?"
"Look," Ron began, setting his mug down. "Do I feel hurt right now? Yes. Do I feel mad as hell at her? Yes. But I don't hate her." He gazed down into the brown liquid, and was reminded of her eyes. "I could never hate her."
He looked up at Harry sadly, whose expression had softened somewhat. "I still love her, even after everything."
Harry nodded. "Hopefully you'll be able to hold onto that, and things will work out."
Ron winced as the bitter liquid gushed down his throat. "Yeah, I hope so too."
Hermione blinked as she regained consciousness. She had fallen fast asleep the night before, thankfully blessed by dreamless sleep due to her exhaustion. She pulled the blankets up over her head, not wanting to face the sun that flowed in through her open curtains. It was just too...cheery.
The more alert she became, the more of yesterday's events came back to her. She had left Ron. It was no longer a possibility, but reality. She winced as she remembered the look on his face, the tone of his voice cutting through her heart. Instinctively, she wanted to run and find him, to tell him that she was sorry and hadn't meant it. Anything to make him feel better. Anything to make him not hate me.
She forced herself to look at the truth. She couldn't go back to Ron, not now, not ever. She cared about him too much, but at the same time not enough. She had already hurt him; she would be damned if she ever did that again by leading him on to a future he could never attain.
Groaning, she hauled herself out of bed and trudged over to her window. It was slightly open, and the sound of birds twittering outside drifted in with the breeze that made the curtains flutter. Hermione shoved the frame down and forced the fabric together. She wasn't in the most appealing mood, and she could do without the constant reminders of it.
Picking up her hairbrush, she turned on the radio. Staring at her reflection, she tugged at the knots that had magically appeared there overnight. She groaned as the next song came on. It was all about two people in love, and she couldn't stand it. Hastily, she switched stations. Great. It was a song about two people ending a relationship. With unwanted tears stinging her eyes, she tried several more stations before slamming the power off.
The silence was worse than the music. She turned the radio on and flipped to a talk station, trying to tune things out with talk of war and politics. Somehow, she selfishly though, those things don't compare to this in the least.
She went through the motions of getting ready for her day without really thinking about what she was doing. If she stopped to think, she would probably have another breakdown like she had last night at Severus' house.
Hermione grimaced. Severus. What he must think about what had happened... Here she was, a full grown woman, bawling her eyes out like a child. It was extremely embarrassing.
She had always felt comfortable with Severus, well, that is, always after she had saved his life. They seemed to have a kind of an understanding. Still, she had her walls and he had his, and there were just some things they didn't share. Crying like that with Ginny, or even Harry was different. They had been friends for longer, and had been with her through some of the toughest times of her life. But Severus...
He was a friend, yes, but there are some things you reveal to certain friends and not others. Still, last night and the night before, it had been so easy to talk to him, so easy to let it all out. It was as if she wasn't able to hold the words in her mouth, as if they had a mind of their own.
She shook her head. She would have to be careful where things went with Severus. She hated the thought of making anyone a "rebound guy", especially a man she respected so highly.
Hermione froze. Had she really even considered the possibility that she could have romantic feelings for Severus?
No, she told herself. I was just upset about what happened with Ron. I felt close to Severus, and I just followed where logically things could end up.
Severus was a friend, and only that.
Finally dressed, Hermione descended the stairs. "Good morning," her mother called out to her as she entered the kitchen. "I made French toast," she added.
Hermione couldn't help but smile at her mother's efforts. "Thanks," she muttered gratefully as the older woman placed the steaming slices of bread in front of her.
Picking up her knife and fork, Hermione was prepared to dig in. "Oh, I almost forgot." her mother continued. "This showed up last night." She held up a small scroll tied with a ribbon. "It was late, so I didn't wake you up."
Brow furrowed, Hermione grabbed the scroll. Beneath the ribbon her name was written elegantly in a very familiar handwriting. Opening it, she saw only a few words scrawled across the parchment. It simply stated: Don't be worried about your visit. I don't think any less of you.
The corners of Hermione's mouth turned up unconsciously as she marveled just how Severus had known what she was thinking.
Severus Snape approached the house before him. He wasn't sure why, but it brought an inexplicable, almost mirthful happiness to see the structure. A brisk Autumn breeze whipped his cloak around his frame carelessly.
He reached the door of the residence. He pondered knocking, announcing his arrival to the occupants, but that would just be a formality. And really, when there was a job that needed to be done, formalities were a waste of time.
He raised his wand. A bang erupted from it, allowing the door to burst open. Somewhere, he heard a scream. The sound brought a smile to his lips.
"Take Harry and run!" cried the voice of the man of the house. Severus saw a red-haired woman clutching a crying baby to her chest darting up the stairs. He let them go. There would be time to deal with them.
Severus was face to face once again with James Potter, who, he didn't fail to notice, was minus a wand. "My, my," Severus crooned. "The great James Potter, unable to protect his family, what a shame."
The anger in Potter's eyes caused a pleasant boiling sensation to rise up in his stomach. To watch the man he loathed, the man that had caused him so much pain suffering himself was ecstasy. The only thing that could have made this moment better was if Black were here too, but alas, you can't get everything.
"Bastard," Potter spat, spittle actually making its way towards the threatening cloaked figure. As if the fluid was a sufficient barrier for what was to come.
"As much as I love to converse with His Godliness," Severus mocked, "I have things to do."
Without another word, he cast the Cruciatus Curse on the man. He could have just stayed there listening to the man's screams until he had lost all sense, but he didn't have the time. He only allowed himself to revel in the misery for a few minutes before removing the curse. He walked over to the man, who was clutching his side and breathing heavily.
"Keep your filthy hands off my family!" Potter gasped. Ah, if he only knew that those would be the last words he ever uttered....
Severus smirked. "Don't worry, I'll take good care of them." He could see the man wince at his tone. Time was running out. "AVADA KEDAVRA!!!" Severus shouted, channeling all the hatred built up over years of torture into the curse. He watched gleefully as the man lost whatever life he had been clinging to and collapsed in a heap.
"Next on the menu..." he muttered to no one in particular as he stormed up the stairs that only minutes before the woman had ascended. Severus had no trouble locating the room they were in, as it was the only one that contained a mother trying to hush her ridiculously noisy baby.
As Severus entered, Lily Evans, used her body as a shield for her child. Severus refused to acknowledge her betrayal, her marriage to Potter. Besides, it didn't matter now. Potter was dead, and as far as he was concerned, the bond between the woman and man was null and void.
Keeping her eyes on the intruder, Lily placed the screaming bundle in his crib, then stood resolutely before it. "Severus," she pleaded, unshed tears pooling in her desperate eyes, "please, don't hurt Harry. He's just a baby-"
"He's the spawn of Potter!" Severus cut her off harshly. Lily winced, though she put on a brave face.
"Don't talk like that about my husband!" she cried out.
Severus sent her an evil smile. "I'm not talking about your husband, because he is no longer you husband. He is dead."
Lily gasped, both hands flying to her face. "James..." she whispered. Anger boiled up in Severus' chest. Why on earth did damn Potter of all people affect her so much? Her eyes widened as realization hit her. "No...no...you didn't...you couldn't..."
His lip curled. "I did." He strode closer to Lily, so close that he could smell the light scent of her perfume. "And now, there's nothing keeping us apart." he whispered, staring intensely into her eyes.
She gazed back at him flabbergasted and revolted. "We'll never be together, Severus Snape. Not after what you did."
Severus pinned her arms firmly to her sides. "It's not as if you have much of a choice in the matter," he crooned, leaning in to touch her lips in a sweet kiss...
Suddenly he felt himself flung to the opposite side of the room by an invisible force. "I would have thought," he taunted. "that after years in the Magical community you would know how to control you magic, you stupid Mudblood."
He used the word in hopes of gaining her submission. He was going to have her one way or the other, he was sure of that. Instead, however, the fear in the depths of her eyes was consumed by immeasurable fury.
"Don't call me that!" she hissed bitterly.
Severus cursed. He didn't have much time and he still hadn't done what he'd come to do. He was positive that there would be some sort of system to alert Albus Dumbledore and his Band of Merry Phoenixes of any trouble that arose at Godric's Hollow. He was actually surprised that they hadn't made an appearance already.
They boy. He needed to take care of the boy.
"Move away," he ordered harshly, wand drawn as he moved towards the baby.
"NO!" Lily shouted, jumping in his path. But it was too late. He had already shouted the final words, the words that had the power to end a life. Lily's life.
As soon as she hit the floor, Severus rushed to her side. The baby's wails in the background captured how Severus felt inside. He had just wanted to destroy the baby, destroy the threat that the boy posed to his life. He hadn't meant for Lily to get hurt. He loved her...
He looked down at the woman in his arms. Severus frowned. This woman wasn't Lily. Lily's hair was bright red, not the color of chocolate, her eyes jade as opposed to this woman's brown. It was, in fact, a woman who, according to the calendar, should only be a few months older than the baby in the crib.
It was Hermione Granger.
Severus Snape sat up in his bed, breathing heavily and badly shaken. It wasn't the first time that he had a dream like that, where he had been the one to kill Lily and James. Well, I am the reason they both are dead, he told himself for the billionth time. But this dream had been different. Hermione had never entered this dream, and there was a certain foreboding in her arrival.
All of the women in Severus' life got hurt. First his mother at his father's hand, then Lily, whose friendship and ultimately life was slayed by his own tongue. This dream was a sign, and he would not allow Hermione to be next in line.
Sighing, Severus pulled himself from the bed and quickly dressed. He soon rushed down to his laboratory, where he intended to continue his work on a simple batch of Veritaserum. It was always a good idea to keep a good batch of that stuff around. One never knew when it would come in handy. The familiar motions of making the concoction were soothing, and took little effort under the care of his skilled and practiced hands.
He crouched down to search his cabinets for the next ingredient that needed to be added. He had a batch of the potion brewing, and he tended to it nearly every morning. He needed it almost every morning, what with the nightmares that tended to pop up. After an hour in the lab, he could go through the rest of the day as if he had had a peaceful rest. It was the way of his life, and he was used to it.
Cursing, Severus slammed the ornate oak door. He was out of lacewings, and they were the next ingredient. He had intended to pick up more in Diagon Alley when he next visited, but that had been two days ago, and he got the sudden news about Harry’s engagement, and there just hadn’t been time...
What a lovely day this is turning out to be.
Sighing, he Summoned his cloak. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of summer; he wore it regardless. It practically draped itself over his shoulders as he met the clothing halfway up the stairs. Severus passed the breakfast that Snarky had left for him, the meal left unnoticed in his haste. He quickly stepped outside, the morning air had a bit of a bite to it, as the sun hadn’t yet had the time to completely warm the earth.
With a quick turn on the spot, Severus departed for Diagon Alley.
Snarky was worried.
His Master had had a terrible night. He had been tossing and turning, and calling out in his fitful sleep. Snarky had never seen him like this before. Sure, he had seen some pretty rough nights, but never like this.
He frowned. All of this started after that Hermione woman showed up at their home. Sure she seemed friendly, but who knew?
His Master had done so much for him. In spite of his free condition, he had never felt more loyalty and wish to serve a wizard. He knew more about his Master than almost anyone else, even things He didn't want him to know. Snarky couldn't help it; he was a born observer.
The desire, no, the need to help him was great.
Maybe that woman is not being good for Master. Snarky thought. Although he yearned to do something, he knew that any mention of it would be shot down at once, and he didn't want to make things harder than they were for Master.
Besides, the old instinct to obey his Master was still strong. If he did confront Him, his master might forbid Snarky from doing anything, no matter how good intentioned.
No, Snarky would be a good house elf. He would keep his eyes open, waiting for anything.
He had to protect his Master at all costs.
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