Chapter 9 : To Protect
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As she awaited Harry’s arrival in the secret room, Apollonia wondered just how much longer she had to save Draco. She only had so long, and Apollonia knew this. It was the reason she forged a friendship with Harry, to save Draco. Come on, Harry. Show up. The door opened and in walked a messy raven-haired boy. “Oh, good; you got my note this morning,” she said brightly.
Harry nodded. “I did. Now, what this about?”
“Your cloak,” Apollonia said simply.
“Cloak?” Harry asked.
Knowing that it was about time to come clean about everything—except who her father was—Apollonia gave her answer. “Yes, Harry. And, before you even ask, the invisibility cloak. My father told me of its existence—not directly—and Dumbledore confirmed that you had it.”
Emerald eyes widened. “Dumbledore told you?”
“He did,” she replied.
“So, I suppose you’re just going to tell some other teacher and have them take it away from me, huh?” Harry grumbled. “If I had to guess it would probably be Snape. You may have gotten him to back off, but the greasy git still hates me; always will in fact. And, besides, you said it yourself: you and Malfoy are his most favored students. That must…”
Before Harry could finish, Apollonia collapsed in tearful sobs. Not caring about the fact that he just insulted her father—she was quite used to that—Apollonia was reminded of the first day back, the day she learned of what future awaited her father. Almost twelve hours later, she learned that Harry and his friends had a problem with the new staffing changes. No one hated it more than those four. “Damn it!” she sobbed. “I didn’t want to ask you about this too; not after the reaction I got from the three of you the last time I suggested it.” Suggesting this was not something she wanted, but it seemed to be the only chance Apollonia had now that Draco refused to even acknowledge her during the day.
“What the matter?” Harry asked, bending down.
There was no way she could hide it now; it was impossible. Whether her father and Draco liked it or not, she needed to tell Harry. “This has nothing to do with why I need your invisibility cloak; that’s needed for another reason,” she explained, waving it off. “Look, Harry, this concerns my father, and something that only Draco Malfoy knows about me.” Harry grimaced at the sound of his enemy’s name. “I’d ask him, but that is currently impossible. Seeing as you hate what happened as much as I do, you need to know as well.”
“Uh, what’s this about?” Harry inquired.
“In a sense, me,” she replied, trying to explain it in a way that he would understand. Hermione Granger was the smartest of their group, so Harry would never fully grasp the hints Apollonia was leaving. She would have to tell him outright. “You know how the teachers address me?” Harry nodded solemnly. “Well, that’s not really my name. That’s merely a cover to hide my true identity from the students: Apollonia Snape.”
“You’re joking!” Harry exclaimed.
Apollonia shook her head. “I wish I was—at least this year—but I’m not. The man you referred to as a greasy git just a few moments ago is the man I refer to as Dad.” She sighed. “Didn’t you wonder how I was able to convince such an unapproachable man into cutting you and your friends some slack, why I’m one of his most favored students? And, I know that you, Ron, and Hermione have often wondered why a Slytherin such as myself would not want him to teach in the post he’s favored so much, since his own years in school. Well, now you have an answer; he’s my father and I don’t wish to see the man cast out of Hogwarts because Lord Voldemort placed a jinx on the curse since his request to teach was refused.” She looked up at Harry, staring straight into his emerald eyes. “By the way, you’re one of three students to know how I really am: me, Draco, and now you. For the moment, it must stay that way; don’t tell your friends, at least until I can be sure of something.”
Getting her biggest secret off her chest, telling it to at least one person, allowed Apollonia to relax; it was only slightly though. Neither her father nor Draco knew what she did. Draco might never know due to their argument, but her father undoubtedly would. “You want me to keep this from my friends?” Harry asked incredulously. “I can’t do that!”
“Just for a few days,” Apollonia informed him. “My father knows nothing of what I just did, even after he explicitly forbade me from telling you and your friends who I am. You know how imposing a man my father is; well, I need to convince the man that telling was for the best. In order to protect my father, your help is a necessity. As much as I know you hate my father, Hogwarts just wouldn’t be the same without him. Severus Snape and Hogwarts are synonymous with each other, at least with me. I’m sure you feel the same with Dumbledore.”
Harry nodded. “Of course.”
“Then, you must help me protect my father, keep him at Hogwarts. And when the time calls for it, so will the two lovebirds you call best friends,” Apollonia explained, referring to the oh-so-obvious couple that had been blossoming since fourth year at the Yule Ball.
It did not take long for Harry to realize whom Apollonia spoke of. She could see the gears turning in his head; it was like clockwork. “You can see it too?” he asked in surprise.
Apollonia chuckled. “If a Slytherin such as myself can notice how much those two love each other, I think everyone can. You’ll have to push those two together; and, my befriending you will help with that. It should finally force those two to realize just how fast things can change if an effort isn’t made to keep that which you care most about in the world.”
Harry eyed her. “You speak like you have experience.”
“My father is Severus Snape,” Apollonia reminded him. “Very few people in the school know how devastating it would be for me to watch as he’s forced out of the school. You’ve seen firsthand how each Dark Arts professor was forced out of the school for what happened in each year; in fact, you’re the only one to hold a firsthand account of those instances. No doubt, you’ll be there during my father’s last day as a Hogwarts professor.” She sighed. “And, besides, there’s one other person I have to protect through all of this.”
“Malfoy,” he said knowingly.
“Of course,” she replied.
“Why?” Harry inquired.
Apollonia smiled. She had awaited this question from the beginning, knowing that it would give her the opportunity to explain her situation to the boy who despised her friend so vehemently. “Harry, you want to know why Draco has been acting so weird; well, I think I may be the only one who can get the answers you seek. I could find out if Draco is in fact a Death Eater.”
“You haven’t so far. Why?” Harry wondered.
“Therein lies the problem,” Apollonia mused. “I haven’t exactly been on good terms with Draco—he ignores me whenever possible—since the beginning of the year. My proposal to tell you and your friends who I was enraged him so much that I was cut out of his life, just when I needed to be there the most. His mother wishes for me—and my father—to watch over him, protect him. In any way possible, I need to do this. That is why I need your cloak, so that I might watch over Draco without his knowledge. I need to be nearby.”
Harry scoffed. “Protect Malfoy! Why would anyone want to do that? He’ll only turn on you in the end, for all the git cares about is himself. No one else matters to him at all.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Apollonia argued. “Do you want Draco to succeed in what he was tasked to do, if he is a Death Eater at all? I’ve already told you that I need proof to believe you, but we both know he’s up to something. I’m just not sure if one of my closest friends is a Death Eater, not this young. I refuse to believe that Voldemort would recruit him this young.”
“If finding out what Malfoy is doing means lending you the cloak, I will,” Harry muttered. “We’re trying to figure out the same thing anyway, so why not. I’ll send Hedwig with the cloak so no one finds out. Very few people even know about the cloak, and it needs to stay that way. I have no clue why Dumbledore would tell you of the cloak’s existence; he must have a good reason though. The man does nothing without a reason.”
Apollonia nodded. “Thank you, Harry.”
“Just figure this out,” he said before leaving.
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