Chapter 18 : Chapter 17-Courage
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Quick update this time, enjoy! :D
Emma kept knocking things over throughout the lesson. She couldn’t focus. Her hands trembled as she tried to slice the roots in front of her, the knife slipping more than once. Her experiences had some upsides, one being that she knew the simple healing spell for small cuts, saving her the embarrassment of having to go to Snape or the Hospital Wing for assistance and the pain of merely keeping silent.
Snape. Her heart started pounding when she thought of what she was about to do. But it was hard to ignore when every glance at the steely professor reminded her that he would soon be her second confidant. It terrified her beyond belief.
She still had trouble believing that she had told Jake everything the previous evening. She was almost convinced when she woke up that morning that the whole thing had been a dream. It wasn’t until Jake started to talk to her about it at breakfast that she could begin to accept that it had really happened. She had shushed him then, reminding him that they had to keep quiet about their plans.
She wanted to back out on their plans at the moment. Maybe Snape actually worked secretly for her father, maybe that show of outreach was just that, a show. What if they wanted her to let her guard down, and then punish her for it?
But a part of her knew that those suppositions held no merit. There was something in Snape’s face, in his eyes that looked hauntingly familiar. He was telling the truth. She didn’t know much about the man. She was probably the most sheltered person who ever grew up in the Wizarding World. But from what she had learned about him in the past few weeks, he had risked his life, had risked everything to help defeat Voldemort. Her father hadn’t been one of his followers, but he thought that there was some merit to his ideals. And for that reason alone she despised the man. So if Snape had done so much against such a terrible man, then why couldn’t he help her here? There was no way he could be working for her father!
A forced cough interrupted her thoughts. She looked up and focused her eyes on the towering black-clad figure before her. He smirked at her. “I would suggest, Miss Hurtz, that you find your mind and set it to the task at hand.” His remarks elicited laughter from the Slytherin side of the room. Emma looked down at the work surface. She had been trying to chop mint leaves with a porcupine quill. She grimaced, feeling her face blossom as the Slytherin half continued its derision. Even worse, a few students wearing red and gold joined in with the chuckling.
She heard the scrape of wood on stone as Jake stood up beside her. “Come on, that was uncalled for!” he cried out in her defense.
“Jake!” she hissed at him. “Sit down! Before you get yourself in trouble!” Too late. She had just seen a dangerous flicker in Snape’s eyes.
“Mr. Baxter,” he leered, “You should listen to your young lady friend there. Sit down and be quiet. Ten points from Gryffindor.”
Jake just stood there, his mouth hanging open stupidly, looking flabbergasted. “But I-” he began to protest. He didn’t get very far.
“Detention, Mr. Baxter. See me after class.”
Jake finally did sit, and Emma could see it was he who was now shaking. He was clutching his pestle tightly in his clenched fist. “Jake, you have to calm down,” she whispered, worried he would really lose it.
He picked up some beetles and tossed them into the mortar. He began grinding them furiously. “If I wasn’t so worried about you, I’d say to forget about talking to him,” He jerked his head in Snape’s direction. “You sure you don’t want to see Professor Longbottom instead?” he whispered.
Emma paused for a moment. She could say yes, yes she’d rather see another professor. Snape certainly didn’t seem as compassionate as he had the other night. But there was something in her gut that told her that they, no, that she could trust Snape in spite of the incident that had just occurred.
“No,” she told him quietly, chopping the leaves with the proper implement this time. “I’m sticking to what we discussed.”
The rest of the lesson passed quickly, as Jake’s outburst had occurred with only about fifteen minutes to go. The students deposited their vials per usual, and most of the class hurried quickly out of the dragon’s lair. A pair of Slytherins, twins by the looks of it, stopped by Jake on their way out. “Nice going, Baxter! Have fun pulverizing squirrel brains!” Jake impressively ignored them. Emma made a pretense of knocking over some of her things so that soon the only people who remained in the room were the professor, Jake, and herself.
“Miss Hurtz, I need to speak to Mr. Baxter about his detention. Kindly leave.”
“S-sir?” she began, stuttering slightly.
The professor sighed in what seemed to be an agitated manner. “Yes?”
“I actually wanted to speak to you about something.” A look of understanding came into the professor’s coal black eyes.
He nodded. “Very well, then. You can wait outside until I am through with Mr. Baxter.”
Emma took a deep breath and nodded. She knew that they were probably out there, waiting for her to come out by herself. She wasn’t going to be talking to Snape today after all. It was over. They would figure out what she was up to or beat it out of her. And all would be over.
Jake must have realized that too. “Wait!” he called out the moment Emma turned her back. “Sir, There’s no need to make her wait outside, anything you tell me I’m going to tell her later anyways, right Emma?” Does he want Snape to snap and slaughter him? Emma wondered wildly. Still, she turned to face the man and they boy, and bobbed her head in agreement.
Snape crossed his arms, casting his penetrating gaze at Emma. Their eyes met. She wanted to break eye contact, but couldn’t. She wasn’t scared, but she had the feeling that he could see more than her pupils, dilated wide in the dim dungeon light. “Fine,” he finally conceded, much to Emma’s relief. “However,” he continued sternly, holding up his right hand, pointer finger extended. “Not a word of what I have to say leaves this room. Understood?” Emma nodded. “Good,” Snape replied. “Now that’s settled, take a seat until I’ve finished with Mr. Baxter here.”
Though he was relieved that Emma would be safe while Snape dealt with him, he was terrified for his own safety. The professor had seemed livid during class and could barely look at him now. So much for finally finding a place to belong, he sighed to himself.
This was it. Snape turned away from Emma and towards him. He was about the face the full wrath of Severus Snape. He had heard legends about how horrid Snape’s detentions could be. He made students dismember things, horrible things. He braced himself.
“You don’t have to look so concerned, Mr. Baxter,” Snape drawled impatiently. “I promise I will not kill you. Today, at least.” Though his words seemed cruel, his tone was not, and Jake was not expecting this. Maybe it’s a tactic to catch me off guard… Snape smirked as if he had read his mind.
“Mr. Baxter, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that in fact I did not serve you a detention.”
Jake couldn’t believe his ears. “Professor?” he asked, “I don’t understand?”
Snape rolled his eyes at him. “You. Do. Not. Have. A. Detention. Now, do I have to make myself any clearer?”
Jake lowered his eyes. “No, sir,”
“Good. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted,” Jake could feel the glare without seeing it. It almost forced him to look up, and his eyes were granted with the sight he had expected to see. “As I told you several weeks ago, I think you have quite some potential in the area of potions. I cannot let that potential be wasted. However, I cannot teach you material from the curriculum for this year or later ones, as that would present an unfair advantage.” He walked over to his desk and pulled out a stack of parchment. “A friend of mine in the Potions Department in the Ministry of Magic has compiled some recipes that I would like to work with you on.
“I do not want these lessons to be known by anyone aside from the two of you, is that understood?” Jake and Emma both nodded. “When I wish to give you a lesson, I will place an object on my desk. You will create some sort of commotion or disturbance which will allow me to issue you a detention. Then, at the appointed time, you will report to my office and our lesson shall commence. I will give you a plausible story to tell others of what happens during your ‘detentions’, as well as tell you the next object to look for. I will be changing both of these periodically so no one clever enough can pick up on the signs. Now,” he concluded abruptly, “You may leave.”
“Sir?” Emma chimed in.
“Yes, Miss Hurtz?”
“Would it be possible if Jake stayed? I’d really prefer it if he was with me.”
Snape seemed to consider the proposition for a split second before consenting. “As long as he swears to the same secrecy that you have already done.”
He saw Emma nod. “He has already done so, he won’t hear anything new.”
Snape nodded. “You may begin.”
Severus saw Miss Hurtz fiddle with her hands which she seemed very intent on studying. Normally he would have been impatient, but he knew how hard it had to be for her. She had some courage coming to him this way. More than he had at that age. But I had no one to go to back then.
“You were right,” she said quietly, not moving her eyes from her hands. “About my father.”
He knew it. He could just tell. He was filled with fury at the pompous ass. In an odd way, he was glad that there was something else horrific about Victor Hurtz besides his attitude, though he wish the fault could have been something less detrimental to the bastard’s daughter.
There was an exclamation from the Baxter boy. She obviously hadn’t told him absolutely everything.
“Professor Snape saw my father speaking to me after they wouldn’t let him switch my house. He suspected something and asked me about it, but I didn’t say anything at that point.” The girl turned back toward him, away from Baxter.
“This is one time where I wish I was wrong,” Severus told the girl sincerely.
“I know,” she replied.
The fifteen minutes the girl spent telling her tale of abuses were some of the toughest of his life, which was really saying something. There was just something about her situation that brought him right back to his own troubled childhood. When she finally finished, he sat in silence, trying to figure out a way that he could help her.
“Emma, tell him the rest.”
Severus frowned. What else could there be?
The girl looked more nervous than she had throughout the entire interview. “It’s nothing,” she said hurriedly.
Severus arched and eyebrow at her. “Really?” he asked skeptically. “Then care to explain why you’re shaking.” It was true, she was visibly trembling.
“I’m not shaking!” she protested, though even she knew the words fell flat. She and Baxter exchanged looks. She sighed. “Fine,” she finally conceded. “There’s more.”
“My father has hired several students to keep an eye on me.”
This was unheard of. “What?” he asked, his ears perking up.
“He wanted to keep me in line while I was away from him.” Severus felt a stone form in his stomach.
“Keep you in line how, exactly,” he asked soberly.
She shrugged, but stayed quiet.
“They beat her up,” Jake chimed in bitterly.
Severus practically growled in fury. “Here?” he raged, “At Hogwarts?”
Miss Hurtz stared blankly at the air in front of her, not responding. “Yes,” Baxter spoke for her. Normally he would have been irritated by the boy’s interruptions, but he needed to get this information, and he was the only one talking at the moment. “I know of at least one time, it happened last night, right before Emma told me everything and I convinced her to get help. But I think it’s happened before. No, I know it has.”
Miss Hurtz shut her eyes tightly, as if trying to block out the world. This was going to take drastic measures. He walked over until he was directly in front of the girl and knelt down before her. “Emma,” he said gently, so gently it almost surprised himself, in fact. “You are doing the right thing, coming to me, getting help. You shouldn’t have to live like this.” She opened her eyes, looking at him helplessly.
“If I say anything it will only get worse,” she whispered desperately.
“I will protect you,” he reassured her.
He had to push her. “You don’t believe that,” he informed her, slight mockery in his voice. She looked startled by both his tone and his words. “If you didn’t think I could help you, you wouldn’t be here.”
“Jake wanted me to talk to someone,” she mumbled.
“But that’s not why you are here. You want to have a better life. And you can. But you have to let me help.” She was almost there, he could tell by the look in her eyes. “You have been very brave coming to me. Very brave. You’ve done the hard part, now let me help you. If you do nothing, nothing will change. But if you let me help, things can get better.”
That was the tipping point. “Alright,” she gave in.
“Good. Now, I need names.”
“Names?” she asked.
“I need to know who I have to punish.”
She shook her head, shutting down again. “They’ll know that I was the one who told you.”
Severus sighed. “Then there is nothing I can do.”
“One of them is a bloke named Lubby.” Jake told him.
“Lubby?” Severus questioned, startled. “As in Bruno Lubby?” Jake nodded, causing Severus to frown. “He’s in my house.” An idea struck him. He strode over to his desk and rifled through some papers. “Here it is,” he muttered, finding what he was looking for. “Now, are all of your father’s thugs male?” After a moment’s hesitation, she nodded. “Alright, I will read off the names of all the males in my house. You do not have to say anything, I will be able to tell by your reaction.” He smiled grimly. “Well, let us begin.”
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