Chapter 24 : Chapter 23-All Hallows' Eve
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Happy Holidays! ~Hermione Clone
Chapter 23-All Hallows’ Eve
Jake was lost in thought as he walked down to dinner with Jack and Emma. Well, it wasn’t exactly dinner: it was the Halloween Feast to be more precise. He supposed he should be more excited about this, but Halloween wasn’t exactly his favorite holiday. Back at the Home some of the other children would always play pranks on him, from sticking his favorite pen in orange gelatin to putting plastic snakes and spiders and other creepy things under his covers. Of course it was he who would get in trouble for making noise during quiet hours and the other children would merely get a warning. Besides, most of the troublemakers were different every year, so there were rarely repeat offenders to punish.
However, Halloweens past was not the matter that irked him.
He was due to have a lesson with Snape. Yet for over a week the professor had not instructed him to cause a scene. He knew that the professor had wanted to space out the lessons, but Jake was extremely anxious to continue.
“-and I heard that there are fountains of chocolate and candy piled ten meters high!” Jack exclaimed as informed them of what would be awaiting them.
Emma smirked. “How much do you want to bet he’ll be sick by the end of the night?” she whispered to Jake softly.
He couldn’t help but laugh; she was probably right. He was saved from having to actually place a bet by their arrival in the Great Hall.
Even Jake couldn’t believe the sight that met his eyes. For a moment, even he was excited. Ghoulish jack-o-lanterns floated eerily in the air above the treat topped tables. There was some normal food, of course; however the majority of the morsels were sugary specialties. The aroma was so decadent it made his mouth water. The three friends rushed to their normal spot at the Gryffindor table and began to devour the fantastic feast before them. It was several minutes before any of them spoke.
Jake glanced up at the head table. He supposed that Snape loved Halloween. It was a creepy holiday, and, for all the respect he had for the man, Professor Snape tended towards the creepy end of the spectrum. Thus it came as a bit of a shock when he saw the professor’s typical scowl plastered on his face. He looked disdainfully down at his plate, eating only the brussel sprouts and chicken pot-pie. Snape was in the process of stabbing the candied yams covered in fudge sauce when he looked directly at Jake, who held his breath. Their gazes were locked only for a few moments, but for Jake it felt like an eternity. Something in the professor’s stare told him to look away, but it was as if an iron hand held his head firmly in place.
Unlike their private sessions, Snape was a bit harder to read in public Jake realized as the older man broke the connection. It dawned on him that perhaps the professor wasn’t easy to read in private either; perhaps he was just putting on an act. Jake had read all about what Snape had done in the war; it was perfectly plausible that he could present Jake with a false impression of his character.
Jake was snapped out of his thoughts by a lollipop smashing into his head. “Oi!” he cried out as the sticky candy pulled away from his head, pulling his hair slightly.
“Look out!” Emma shouted just in time for Jake to duck to avoid the pop that was strangely fixated on bombarding him. Unfortunately, his quick reflexes caused the candy to strike Jack square on his forehead.
“Geroff of me!” Jack cried, vainly attempting to grasp the stick of the lollipop to yank it off his head. The candy seemed to have a mind of its own, yanking Jack around like a puppet on a string. Apparently is stuck much better to hair than skin.
“Finite!” Jake peeked out from under the table to see Professor Longbottom pointing his wand at Jack. The previously menacing lollipop dropped innocently to the floor where it cracked in two. “What happened, Mr. Baxter?” the professor asked Jake as he offered him a hand up.
Jake shook his head in bewilderment. “I was eating one minute and the next minute that,” he pointed to the lollipop that the professor had picked up, “was attacking me.”
Professor Longbottom nodded. “Very well,” The professor looked around. Almost everyone in the Great Hall was looking at them. Jake felt a blush rising to his cheeks. “Nothing to see here, go back to your meals,” the professor informed the crowd.
Slowly, the students obeyed their professor and the hall soon filled with the rumbling mutterings of multiple conversations. Professor Longbottom turned back to Jake. “I will be looking into this,” he stated, gesturing to the candy.
“Thank you, sir,” Jake replied dutifully. As he turned back to his plate, Jake glowered at his food.
“Are you all right?” Emma asked softly.
“What about me?” Jack interrupted, “That thing was after me too!”
Emma and Jake ignored him. “Well, it’s official,” Jake muttered, slamming down his fork. He had lost his appetite. “I hate Halloween.”
“Why?” Emma inquired.
“Because,” he returned bitterly, “Halloween hates me.”
Emma shoved through the portrait hole into the Gryffindor common room along with the rest of the house, most of who were walking in a trance like food induced coma. Jack groaned next to here. “I can’t believe I ate all of that,”
Emma snickered. “I can,” she quipped.
Jack glared at her. “Ha ha, very funny,”
Emma became distracted by Jake’s groan on her other side. “Not you too!” she exclaimed in dismay.
“Shit,” Jake muttered. This startled Emma. He didn’t swear often, that was more Jack’s area of expertise. Or hers for that matter, lately at least. “I can’t find my wand,” he continued.
Emma instantly scanned the floor to see if it had fallen, but her search yielded nothing. “When was the last time you remember having it?”
He shook his head. I don’t know, before dinner I guess.”
Emma frowned in thought. “Maybe it fell out when you got attacked by that lollipop…”
Jake grimaced. “Probably,” He turned to go.
“Wait!” Emma called out. “Professor McGonagall was clear, no wandering around after the feast!”
Jake shrugged. “I’ll be in more trouble without my wand. It’ll only take a little bit.”
She didn’t like this. Emma understood why he felt the need to go out, but that didn’t mean that a professor patrolling the halls would. She sighed. “Just be careful, alright?”
Jack shook his head. “You worry too much Emma.”
Jake smiled wanly. “I don’t mind. See you in a few.”
And with that he hurried off.
Hermione looked around the corridor, alert for the slightest thing awry. She glanced at her watch. The feast should be ending soon. A sigh emitted from her lips. Though of course she was relieved that nothing terrible had happened, the last few hours had been tiring. It had been a long day. Unconsciously her feet took her on the familiar path that led to the Great Hall. From around the corner she heard a bustling roar, the sounds of sleepy students stuffed with scrumptious sweets. A brief wave of nostalgia washed over her.
Footsteps echoed behind her. For the briefest of moments, she froze; her brain was half in the mode of her teenage out-after-hours self. She knew those footsteps. Her adult self told her feet to turn around.
“Did you have any difficulties?” Severus asked quietly, the slightest trace of a smile gracing his lips.
Hermione shook her head. “None. I guess there aren’t any troublemakers her anymore.”
The face of the Potion’s Master darkened. “I wouldn’t say that,” he informed her vaguely. Something in his tone and in his look stopped her from making any more inquiries on that subject. Severus cleared his throat. “Let’s just walk around a little while to catch any stragglers.” They began to meander slowly through the corridors. “How are you?” he asked.
Hermione shrugged. “Tired mostly,” she said with a smile. “A little hungry. I left work late, I didn’t get a chance to eat anything.”
Severus frowned. “You should go home then. I can take it from here.”
Hermione shook her head. “I’m fine. Besides, I haven’t seen you in ages.” she added with a grin.
Severus inclined his head. “That is certainly true.”
“So,” she began somewhat awkwardly, “Anything new in your life?” A scowl crossed the Potions Master’s face. “I-I’m sorry, I-”
Severus waved his hand, cutting off her words. “It’s not you. It’s Potter.”
Hermione frowned. Severus never called Harry by his surname anymore. “What’d he do this time?”
Her companion shrugged. “It’s more Ginny than anything else. They’re forcing me to go on a date.”
Something stirred deep down within Hermione’s stomach, but she shoved it aside. “That isn’t all that bad. You could use someone in your life.”
Severus glared at her. “I thought you would be on my side.”
“I am,” Hermione insisted. “But you have to admit, it would be nice to have someone special.”
Severus sighed. “I highly doubt I’m going to find ‘someone special’ on a blind date,” he spat.
Hermione winced. “Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place? Blind dates are a terrible idea.”
Just as Severus was about to reply, he frowned. “Do you hear voices?” he whispered hastily.
Hermione nodded. They had finally reached the entrance to the Great Hall. She gestured towards the door. “Sounds like it’s coming from in there.”
Severus nodded, sliding his wand from his pocket and motioning Hermione to do the same. “In on the count of three. One. Two.”
Jake looked around anxiously as the door of the Great Hall creaked as he pushed it open. He wasn’t completely sure what would happen if he was caught. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have a legitimate excuse to be out after hours, however he wasn’t entirely sure that he wouldn’t get in trouble if discovered. The candles that usually illuminated the room had been extinguished though they still floated aimlessly in the air a few meters above the tables. He left the door ajar, depending on the small amount of light that poured in through the entrance. Jake quickly hurried over to the spot he had been sitting earlier. Dropping to his knees, he began to flail his hands around, hoping that he would feel the smooth wooden shaft he was searching for.
A sudden creak broke through the silence and Jake was plunged into sudden darkness. His heart pounded deafeningly in his ears. “Hello?” he called out, his voice sounding horribly feeble in the cavernous room.
“Lumos,” two voices whispered in unison, causing two beaming orbs to appear near the newly closed entrance. Attacked to the orbs were wands, and holding the wands were the Grisham twins.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” Alexander leered.
“Looking for something?” Geoff echoed with a derisive laugh.
Jake sighed. They were the last people he wanted to deal with. “What do you want?” he demanded shortly.
“Oh,” Alexander continued as if Jake hadn’t uttered a word. “Is wittle-Jakie-poo looking for his Mummy?”
Fire burned in his chest. “Shut up.” Jake growled, angrier than he had cause to be for a long time. He hated when people brought up his orphaned state.
“It’s okay,” Geoff replied, “you just want someone to love you. But why would anyone love such a worthless lump of stupidity as you?”
“I think you’re getting confused Grisham,” Jake countered, sounding more confident than he felt. “you’re mistaking me for your own reflection. Perhaps you need to visit Madame Pompfrey and get your head checked out.”
“I think not.” Alexander replied. “You see, you are the stupid one. Only an idiot would leave his wand lying around where anyone could get their hands on it.” The boy reached into the folds of his robes and withdrew a second wand, Jake’s wand.
“Look, I don’t want trouble-” Jake began before getting cut off by Geoff.
“Then you shouldn’t have been born!”
Jake closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep cleansing breath. They were just idiots, bullies. They weren’t worth getting so upset. He had to keep his cool. “Well, since I didn’t have any control over that, could you kindly give me back my wand?”
The twins looked at each other before bursting into uncontrollable semi-fake laughter. “Give him back….what sort of fools does he think we are?” Geoff snorted.
Alexander surfaced. “You know, I think we should give it back to him.” Jake stared him down suspiciously as the other boy approached, not sure what this sudden change of heart really meant. Alexander Grisham stopped a few feet in front of him. He held out Jake’s wand. “You want it?” he asked, raising an eyebrow wickedly. “Then catch it.” Before Jake could stop him, Alexander had hurled the stick towards his brother, who caught it with ease. The two began a game of catch, leaving Jake to run back and forth in a vain attempt to recover his property.
“Give it back!” he cried. “You’re going to break it!” He was beginning to pant from exhaustion, getting slightly dizzy from repeated quick turns. There wasn’t much more of this he could take.
“Three!” Professor Snape’s voice reached his ears from nowhere, just barely audible. The door to the Great Hall swung open with a dramatic bang and the room was flooded with light as the hundreds of candles illuminated in unison. Standing in the entrance was the professor and a woman, both with wands drawn. “What is going on here?” the professor demanded venomously. Jake glanced at the Grisham twins. Geoff had just caught his wand and shoved it in his pocket. Both he and his brother looked nervous.
“Sir,” Alexander stated as confidently as a terrified eleven year-old can sound, “Baxter tried to attack us and make us do horrible, horrible things! He should be expelled!” His eyes were filled to the brim suddenly with fake tears.
Snape looked Jake directly in the eye, eyebrows raised. In that instant, Jake knew he was alright. “Is that what happened, Mr. Baxter?”
Jake shook his head. “No, sir. My wand fell out of my robes at the feast and I didn’t realize it was missing until I reached Gryffindor Tower. I came down to look for it and I ran into them.” He gestured towards the twins. “They had my wand and were playing keep away with it before you showed up.” He decided to leave out the part about the taunts. Snape didn’t need to know that.”
“He’s lying!” Alexander shouted.
“Well then, Mr. Grisham, there should be no problem if I search you for Mr. Baxter’s wand. After all, if you are innocent, you wouldn’t have it, would you? Since after all you are too…young to know how to properly disarm an attacker, am I correct, Alexander?”
The twins crossed their arms tightly. “This is a violation of our privacy!” Alex exclaimed. “Search him!” he demanded, pointing violently at Jake.
Professor Snape slowly walked over to the culprits. “That would be a waste of time. We both know that Mr. Baxter’s wand is currently resting in Mr. Geoff Grisham’s left pocket. Please hand it over or I shall have no choice but to take it by force.”
Reluctantly, Geoff pulled the wand out from his pocket and handed it to the professor, eliciting a glare from his brother. He walked over to Jake and returned it to its rightful owner. “Now,” Snape continued, straightening up, “Mr. Baxter, twenty point from Gryffindor. Misters Grisham, you have each cost your house ten points.” Jake thought that the twins looked too happy for people who had just lost twenty points. They must not know basic math. “Additionally, you all will be spending one detention with me for being out after hours.”
“But sir!” Jake couldn’t help blurting out against his better judgment. “I just needed to get my wand!”
“Make that two detentions for you, Mr. Baxter, and not another word unless you want to make it more.”
“Yes, sir,” Jake muttered, looking to the floor.
“Severus,” the professor’s female companion implored, speaking for the first time. Jake looked at her, and couldn’t help but be touched by the concern etched on her warm face on his behalf.
“Not now Hermione,” he snapped, though in a somewhat gentle way if that was even possible. “Mr. Baxter, in this situation you should have gone to one of your prefects and have them escort you here to retrieve you wand.” Snape gave him a significant look. “In the future, I suggest you keep a better eye on your property.”
“Yes, sir,” Jake mumbled embarrassedly, blood rushing to his face. He had gotten so used to the other side of Snape that this disciplinarian was somewhat of a shock. Usually when Snape was harsh with him it was an act. It felt as if he had let the professor down. His stomach lurched in shame.
“Mr. Baxter, you will wait here with Ms. Granger until I return. You two are coming with me.” The professor turned hastily, robes billowing behind him as he stormed out of the room. The Grisham twins glanced at each other before hurrying after the head of their house. Both of them shot Jake a dirty look as the passed, which he did his best to ignore.
Snape’s female companion smiled at Jake and offered him her hand. “Hello, I’m Hermione Granger. What’s your name?” She chuckled. “Well, I guess your full name, Mr. Baxter.”
Jake took the proffered hand and shook it. “Jacob Baxter, Ms. Granger.”
She waved him off. “No need for such formalities. Please, it’s Hermione.” She gave Jake a friendly smile.
He returned the gesture. “My friends call me Jake,” he amended.
“Well, nice to meet you Jake.” She gestured over to the Gryffindor table. “How about we sit while we wait.”
“Sure,” Something was bugging him. It wasn’t something bad necessarily, but he just couldn’t place his finger on it. Something about the name… “Excuse me, are you Professor Snape’s friend who wrote those books? There was one for Muggleborns and another about the history of Hogwarts…”
Hermione laughed, but it was a warm one. “Yes, I wrote them.” She frowned, a perplexed look coming across her face. “Did Professor Snape suggest them to you?”
Jake suddenly realized his error. No one was supposed to know about his sessions with Snape. How else could he explain how he got those books? “Er…”
A look of sudden realization came to her features. “Are you the potions prodigy Severus, I mean, Professor Snape told me about?”
Relief flowed through Jake’s body. Bits of conversations with Snape were coming back to him. He had said that the author worked in the Potions Department of the Ministry of Magic. It all made sense.
Jake blushed. “Well, I wouldn’t say that, but Professor Snape has told me that my work has been above average.”
Hermione smirked, and Jake couldn’t help but think of Snape. “You know, modesty is a good thing, but you need to learn how to own your accomplishments.” She looked at him knowingly. “You know, Professor Snape is not the type to exaggerate. If he says you’re good, you’re good.”
Jake sighed. “Yeah, well, any high opinion of me he had just got shot.” Jake was shocked at just how easy it was to talk to this virtual stranger. It was strange, deep down he felt like they had known each other their entire lives.
Hermione took his hand comfortingly. “Don’t worry. I’m sure he’ll understand given the circumstances.”
Her words elicited a look of disbelief. “Are you talking about the same Professor Snape?”
She nodded. “As much as he likes to pretend otherwise, he can be fair. Besides,” Hermione grinned at him. “I’ll put in a good word for you. You could say he owes me.”
“What are the two of you discussing so intently?” Professor Snape’s voice drawled.
Hermione stood up and sauntered over to him. “We were just talking about how you’re just a big ol’ softy,” she teased. Jake held his breath. He wasn’t entirely sure how Snape would react.
The Professor crossed his arms and looked at his friend tiredly. “Really, Hermione, you’d better be careful or you might ruin my reputation.” He turned back to Jake and looked him directly in the eye. “Come, it’s time to get you back to your house.”
Jake nodded. “Sir?” The word slipped out of his lips before he had even had time to think about what he was doing.
“Yes?” Snape asked, eyebrow arched.
“Are my detentions real ones?”
Jake couldn’t believe it. Snape smiled. True it was a tight, slightly sardonic one, but it was a smile none the less. “Unfortunately as you will be serving your punishment with the Misters Grisham, yes, it will be. However we will resume our lessons for the second detention. I couldn’t pass up such a perfect opportunity.”
Relief filled Jake’s body. “Thank you, sir!”
He immediately regretted his exuberance as Professor Snape’s expression hardened. “Pay it no mind. Now, come. It is getting late. I for one would like to get some sleep this evening.”
He followed Snape and Hermione Granger out of the Great Hall in silence. Hermione smiled at him on their way to the Tower, trying to make small talk. Jake replied, but now he felt like he had to restrain his answers with Snape around. He felt comfortable with both adults individually, but for some reason there was this electricity that was almost palpable in the air. Jake felt like he had to act with caution.
Finally they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. Hermione smiled at him. “It was very nice to meet you Jake,” she told him, extending her hand in a friendly manner.
Jake shook her hand. “Likewise,”
“Goodnight Mr. Baxter,”
“Goodnight, sir,” Jake replied, suppressing a yawn as he made his way through the portrait hole.
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