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Chapter 23 : A Secret Kept
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Hermione hadn’t spoken to Draco in person since the kiss. He had written to her a few times on their paper, but he never mentioned it again, only talked about classes and homework, ordinary things. She was too afraid to mention meeting again. Her mother had written back to her telling her to follow her heart. What was that supposed to even mean?
She had tried to get closer to Ron if she couldn’t to Draco, maybe that would help her choose. But as always, Ron was slippery. One moment they were getting along, getting closer, the next moment he was a smarmy git, infuriating her to no end. So she tried to get closer to Draco, but she only saw him normally in potions class, where Harry, Ron, and her father were all watching her. She caught him in the supply cupboard one day, he passed her the jar of bat wings, smiled at her, his hand grazed hers. Then Snape was at the door scowling, telling them to hurry up. She almost got ahold of him after class, had almost slipped past Ron and Harry, but then Severus was grasping at Draco’s shoulder, asking him to stay later after class. So she smiled at them both, and turned to find Harry staring back at her, waiting at the door. She turned and followed him out to the great hall for lunch.
Snape stood and held Draco back as the rest of the students filed out. Finally, they were alone. Snape let go of him and took a step back.
“Do you remember the first conversation we ever had about her?” Snape asked. “I told you I would protect her under any costs, even from you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know that look you keep giving her. The way she glances back at you in classes. You two are becoming friends, and I’m thrilled with that, but I won’t allow it to become more. I’ll protect her from you.”
“She’s not a baby, she can make her own decisions.” Draco spat back.
“I am her father and I will not allow her to be involved with a boy like you.”
“Haven’t you ever had a heart, Severus? Who cares if I’m a Slytherin and she’s a Gryffindor, if we love each other? I could make her so much happier than Potter ever could, or that stupid Weasel, or any of them!”
The colour drained from Severus’ face as he stared back at himself, fifteen years old again, pissed off at the whole damned world for everything. Hadn’t he said the exact same thing a million times? Didn’t he, even now, think it just a little? He’d have kept her safe, kept her alive, loved her better. Always.
“You love her?”
“I don’t know,” Draco shrugged, shoved his hands in his pockets, “maybe, I guess.”
Is this how her father would have treated Snape, if he had ever gotten the courage to ask? And wouldn’t he have deserved it?
“And what will she do? Help serve tea and biscuits to your father’s friends? Sit worrying by the fireplace while you’re off with a mission, creating mayhem? Or will you disown all of them, never speak with your father, break your mother’s heart?”
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with any of this.”
“I know a damned sight more than you, boy.”
Draco was fuming now, his brow wrinkled, his fists balled, his eyes were watering, but his father had taught him long ago not to spill his tears. “You talk about her like she’s a china doll, like you can just put her in a glass case, like that will keep her safe. You put her into more danger than I ever could. If you’re so worried about her being pulled into this mess, why are you still sticking around? She doesn’t even know what you are, what you’ve done.” Draco turned away, tried to leave the room, but Snape grabbed his shoulder. “She knows what my family is and she still cares about me,” Draco spat out. “If she knew all the things her precious father has done, would she even speak to you?”
With that, he tore his arm away from the man and stormed out of the room.
Hermione didn’t see Draco or Snape until that night at dinner. Draco walked right past her and she tried to give him a smile, had thought that he saw her, but he skirted around her and made his way to the slytherin table. When she turned back, Severus was glaring at her from the professor’s table. That look he only gave her when she was going to get a serious lecture from him later. Which is exactly what happened. Hermione left dinner early and headed on her way to the library for a bit of studying, but Snape caught her on the way.
He walked directly past her without a word and entered a deserted classroom. She followed him in, having no idea what she had done wrong, but feeling the usual fear of a parent’s scorn, followed him in and shut the door. Hermione stood with her back pressed against the wall and waited for Snape to turn around and look at her. He didn’t seem as angry as she thought he might be, he only seemed worried.
After a pause, he said, “I spoke to Draco this afternoon.”
Hermione stared back at him. What had Draco told him? Certainly not everything, certainly not the kiss.
“To be honest, Hermione, I’m worried about you spending so much time together. I’m not sure he’s exactly what you think he is.”
“But, he’s your god son.”
“I realize this is partly my fault, I did bring the two of you closer together and I did want you to be civil to one another.”
“That’s what we did.”
“I’m just worried that he is rubbing off on you the wrong way.”
“What do you mean?”
“His family, his friends, they’re the sort of people I don’t want you associating with.”
“But you’re his godfather, don’t you associate with them too?”
“That’s different, I’m helping Professor Dumbledor, you know that." Snape was beginning to sweat. "I haven’t got a choice about who I associate with.”
“And Draco doesn’t have a choice who his family is. Mom and you, you both keep teaching to be polite and respectful and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but neither of you can do that. If his father wasn’t Lucius, would there be anything else you didn’t like about him.”
Snape heaved a breath and leaned against the desk top behind him. “You’re growing up so fast. I don’t want you to get hurt, but I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that you don’t need me to protect you.”
She stepped up and hugged his thin frame. “I still like it when you try.” He folded her in the wings of his cloak and held her there for a long time.
"Do you care about him?" Snape asked.
Hermione stared up at him, She was trying to form thoughts but she couldn't. Before she realized it, the word yes slipped from her lips.
"As much as you care about Weasley?"
"I don't know." Hermione sat on the desk. "I don't know what to do. Ron makes everything so muted sometimes. I''m either kind of happy or kind of sad, or just plain there. Draco makes me happier than I've ever felt before, sometimes. And sometimes he makes me more angry than I ever thought I could be. What would you do?" She looked up at her dad.
"I've been asking myself that for decades. To be honest, I'd probably do something stupid to screw everything up. I liked a girl once, when I was a student here. She was a Griffindor and I was a Slytherin."
"It was too difficult. All of our friends hated each other, We both got bullied a lot because of it. Eventually I screwed it up by saying a few things I regretted."
"It's always going to be difficult doing things others don't agree with. That angrier than you ever thought you could be part, that's goig to get bigger. It's possible that one or both of you won't be able to handle it."
"I know." Hermione said. "I guess that's growing up though, isn't it?"
Snape held her to his chest. “I don’t care what your mother says, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” Snape kissed her on the top of her head and flattened out her curls, frizzy from the hug.
The door creaked as it opened an inch and Snape looked into the dark classroom. He had closed the door. He walked to the door, peered down the hallway, scanned the room quickly. No one was there. He could hear no sound either. Hermione must have left the door ajar then the wind picked up.
“What is it?” Hermione asked.
“Nothing, I thought I heard something. It’s getting late anyway, you should be getting to bed.”
“Alright.” Hermione leaned up and kissed her dad on the cheek as he held the door open for her. “Goodnight. And don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll try.” He checked the hallway once again, then hugged Hermione to him. She was even growing taller. Soon she wouldn’t be his little girl at all. “I love you.” He said, almost a whisper.
“I love you too. I’ll see you tomorrow in potions.” Hermione went off toward the Griffindor common room and Snape walked toward the Professors’ dormitories, patrolling as he went.
As Hermione made her way up the stairs, she thought she could hear footsteps behind her. Turning, it was empty. She hadn’t noticed anything when Severus had brought it up, but now she felt like she was being watched. The footsteps grew closer, on her heels.
There was hot breath near her ear. Someone grabbed her arm and lead her toward the portrait.
She tried to pull her arm away, but he was gripping it. “Harry, take that stupid thing off.”
They went through the portrait hole to a common room still bustling with kids. It was only nine o’clock. Harry kept his invisibility cloak on and pulled Hermione after him up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory. He threw her in, locked the door behind him and tore off the cloak.
“When were you going to tell us, Hermione?” Harry practically shouted.
Hermione went pale. She did a quick silencing charm so no one could overhear them. “How much did you hear?”
“Enough. Good night, I love you, what the hell is that? And you kissed him Hermione, do you have any idea...”
“Oh, god, you’re calling him Severus. I mean, I had suspicions about him from way back, always favouring you, smiling, watching you. But I never dreamed you would be stupid enough to...”
“Harry, you’ve got it all wrong.”
“Is he the man you’ve been seeing, that you went out with that night?”
“Harry would you just listen.”
“He’s old enough to be your father!”
“He is my father!”
Harry stared at her, blinking.
“Listen, sit down.” Hermione said, leading him to the edge of his bed. “It’s a long, complicated story and I know I should have told you and Ron, but the longer I went, the harder it became and I just didn’t.”
Harry put his face in his hands and leaned over the bed. “Alright, tell me everything, and I will reserve the right to yell at you afterward.”
“Well, you know my dad, the one you’ve met, is my step dad right.”
“Yeah, but you said he’s been around since you were a baby.”
“And he has, he raised me. But he’s not my biological father. It turns out years ago, my mother and Severus Snape were together for a while. Eventually she found out he was a wizard and she panicked and left. She didn’t find out she was pregnant with me until after she left him. And he stayed out of my life until I got into Hogwarts, then he contacted me and said he was my Dad. Mom was so furious. I think she would have banned me from coming here if it weren’t the only wizarding school in the UK.”
“But why didn’t you tell us?”
“I didn’t want to tell anyone. I mean, the first months here, everyone already didn’t like me. I wasn’t going to throw being the daughter of the most hated professor into the mix. Besides, my mom told me to stay away from him and I had only talked to the man once. I didn’t want to bother with any of it. I didn’t start actually talking to him until the end of our second year. By then I figured you and Ron would just be furious at me for not mentioning it. Or you’d just hate me all together. You’re always going on about how evil he is.” Hermione stared at her feet.
Harry sat back. “You’re teling me Snape is your biological father who was astranged from you for eleven years. I’m not sure I’m buying it.”
“We’re not that different. Same nose, same hands, same inability to have nice hair. It explains why I’m such a natural at potions and spell casting.”
“Then why were you telling me you were on an astronomy date? You could have come up with a better excuse.”
“Oh. That was a date with a boy. That’s actually kind of why Severus was yelling at me in the first place. He doesn’t approve.” Hermione said, “I mean, he approves more than he did with Viktor, but he’s not very happy. He have me a bit of a lecture.”
Harry started laughing. “Now that sounds like the Snape I know.”
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