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Chapter 27 : A Crappy Summer Break
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Hermione spent the first few weeks of Summer being bored out of her mind. After all of her begging and pleading, her mother still wouldn’t let her go visit her dad. To make matters worse, she sent an angry letter to Snape to try and get him to change her mind, and he just wrote back saying she was right. It was too dangerous, he said, now that Voldemort was back, for them to be seen together. Finally, after two more letters and a whiney phone call, she convinced him to at least come down to their house for dinner one night. Her mother wasn’t particularly happy about this, but Severus’ previous worry made her a bit more at ease.
The night in question, Hermione helped her mother make a traditional English dinner, pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, Yorkshire puddings, and roasted veggies. It was reminiscent of Snape’s birthday dinner the summer previously, and Hermione hoped her dad would remember and appreciate it. At a quarter to six, Snape called the house to let them know he would be apperating directly into the living room in a minute, to avoid being seen outside the house. Hermione agreed and smiled, barely able to wait. She called her mom and step-dad into the living room to let them know what would be happening. The air pressure fell, Hermione felt like the room was squishing together, then there was a loud pop and Snape was standing in their living room. Hermione was glad to see he had opted to wear his courduroys, and a relatively normal button down shirt.
“Blimey, can you do that, Hermione?” Her step dad asked, obviously amazed by the piece of magic.
“Not until I’m seventeen, like driving.”
Hermione’s mother on the other hand, was staring in shock. “Could you always do that?”
“Yes.” Snape said.
“Right into our living room, though?”
“Had I wanted to.” Snape said slowly. “But I’d never intrude like that.”
“Thank you.” She muttered, something that took Hermione by surprise, and everyone else in the room by surprise as well.
Seeing the situation diffused, Hermione pushed past her mom and hugged Severus quite tightly.
“I’m glad you could make it. I missed you.”
“Already?” Snape said, flattening down her hair. “It’s only been a few weeks.”
They sat down for dinner and Snape helped himself to everything, saying how delicious everything was and how much he missed Hermione’s cooking from last summer.
“The cooking was mostly Draco.” Hermione said, blushing at the compliment. “Tell Draco I said hello, by the way. I tried writing to him, but I guess he’s busy.” Hermione muttered.
“Who’s Draco?” Hermione’s step dad asked.
“My god son,” Snape said. “He’s in the same year as Hermione, and they’ve become friends.” Snape took a sip of wine, then turned to Hermione, “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see Draco much this summer either. His mother wants him to stay home, as you can imagine.”
“Oh, yeah.” Hermione whispered.
“But when I see him next, I’ll give him your message. And I’m sure he’s just too busy right now to answer back to your letter.” Snape smiled.
“Will you see him at Ron’s?” Hermione’s mother asked. “Hermione is going to spend the last half of the summer at the – what do they call it? The Burrow? Won’t your friend Draco be there?”
“No, Ron and Harry aren’t really friends with Draco.” Hermione muttered.
The dinner was getting worse and worse in her opinion. Everyone was just bringing up everything she had been trying not to think about since she had last seen Draco. Just when Hermione thought things couldn’t get any worse, Hermione’s step dad put down his fork and opened his mouth.
“So, Severus, is there any news you can bring us from the other world about this you-know-who character. Hermione makes him sound quite grim, and of course my wife won’t let us mention the name, she says she remembers a bit of the ruckus from what you said about the last war. I admit, I don’t really understand what is happening.”
“Voldemort is a bad man,” Snape said, leaning back in his chair. “I would say he was comparable to Stalin, or perhaps Hitler, except with magic, so you can imagine the destruction. He never had any power in our government, though.” Snape said, trying to reassure Hermione’s step dad’s worried face. “The last war began because he had tried to gain political power, and the wizarding world fought back to stop him. We won, and it was believed that Voldemort had died. This all ended about fifteen years ago, when Hermione was still a baby.”
“But Hermione said he was back.” Her mother said, “How did the wizards get it that wrong, was he dead or wasn’t he?”
“That’s the thing about magic,” Snape said, “There are ways, gruesome and terrible ways, of being neither.”
Hermione’s mother stared hard at Snape, who stared back for a moment. Dinner finished relatively smoothly after that. When everything was finished and done, Hermione’s mom stood up.
“Well, I think that was a success.” She said.
“It was lovely, thank you for having me.” Snape said.
“Severus, could you help me with the dishes in the kitchen.” She said, trying to smile.
They locked eyes for a moment, Hermione and her step dad looking between them, nervous.
“Of course.” Snape finally said. He collected the plates and followed Hermione’s mom into the kitchen. She closed the door behind them.
Hermione looked to the door, then to her step dad who was also staring at the door.
“You aren’t worried about them, are you?” Hermione asked, shyly. “I mean, him being my father.”
“I’m more worried for your father, Hermione.” He said. “That was not her happy face. I wonder what she’s worried about.”
Inside the kitchen, the dishes were piled into the sink, and the faucet was turned on, filling up the sink with hot water, but no one was doing the dishes.
“I realise that when we broke everything off, you were...troubled, shall we say. But I’m not an idiot, Severus. Hermione’s been filling me in on quite a bit more history than you ever did, and I’ve been able to fill in quite a few blanks. Avery, Mulciber, you didn’t think I’d remember their names, did you?”
Severus stared back, looking more terrified than he had in a long time. “Please, I had a lot of problems back then, you know probably more than anyone else. But I’m not that person anymore, I swear. Hell, I was barely that person back then. By the time Hermione was born, I had switched sides. I talked to you about that too, remember?”
“I nearly didn’t let you come tonight. I had half a heart to never let you see her again.”
She was glaring at Snape now, and he was staring back dumbfounded, deflated, nearly in tears.
“Please, she’s all I’ve got left. You can’t-you can’t take her away from me?”
“And what happened to that other woman?” She asked, “The woman you were going to leave it all for? I always knew you loved her.”
Snape did begin to cry now. He did it silently and discretely, but Hermione’s mother could see the tears streaming down his face. “I couldn’t save her.” Snape whispered. “But I swear, I won’t let anything happen to Hermione. I will die, I will lay down my own lie before I let that happen.”
“Swear to me you haven’t gotten yourself tangled up in this mess again.” She seemed unmoved by Snape’s tears, even a little disgused.
“I swear, I haven’t been in league with them for almost sixteen years now, I’ve changed, I promise.”
Hermione’s mother looked away for a second, considering something. “I know there are protective enchantments on this house, I know they’ve probably been here for years. I assume that was you.”
“Yes.” Severus said, wiping away his tears with the back of his hands now, staring at the floor.
“I want more.” She said. She handed Snape a tea towel, then left him alone in the kitchen, shutting the door behind her.
Snape made his way out a few minutes later, looking as though nothing had happened. He stayed half an hour longer, having coffee and chatting about books and muggle football that, surprising to Hermione’s dad, he did follow a little. Hermione sat next to him, wishing to spend as much time as close to him as she could, knowing this would probably be the last time until school began. When he left, she hugged him tightly good bye, and he kissed her on the top of her head.
“Do you think you can get my message to Draco, in case he doesn’t write back?”
“I should be up to his place in the next few weeks, so I’ll tell him, yes.”
“And you’ll write me all summer, even when I’m at the burrow?”
“I will, yes. But, Hermione, make sure you tell your owl only to deliver stuff to the cottage. And don’t put your name on it, or anything else people could identify it by.”
Yes, I know.” Hermione sighed.
“I know you think I’m being paranoid and ridiculous, but I’m not. You got the ministry pamphlets. You have to take this seriously.”
“I am, I promise.” Hermione said.
“Alright.” Snape hugged Hermione goodbye one more time, then shook her mom and step dad’s hand good bye. Then he stepped back and was gone with another loud pop.
The following weekend, Snape had another dinner, this time at the Malfoy Manor. It was much more extravagant than the Granger dinner had been. Cooks brought in platters of food. Servants rushed around with napkins and drinks. There were about five guests in total, all fellow death eaters, all close friends of the family. They sat in relative silence, breaking it only to talk about news and compliment Narcissa. Things had become gloomy in the manor since Lucius’ capture. Draco spent most o fhis time in his room, and didn’t wish to speak to anyone. Narcissa went between trying to do everything to keep herself busy, and doing nothing all day, sometimes not even getting out of bed.
After pudding, the group moved to the parlour to chat. Draco excused himself, said goodnight to everyone, then went back up to his room. Snape followed a little while afterwards. He knocked on Draco’s bedroom door and when there was no answer, he let himself in.
“How are you, Draco?”
Draco shrugged. He was laying on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, looking fairly comatose.
“I was told to bring you greetings the next time I saw you.” Snape said.
Draco sat up. “You said you weren’t at the cottage this year.”
“I’m not, but I do go out into the world sometimes.”
Draco laid back down. “Is everything alright, when you go out?”
“Yes, everything goes smoothely, happily.” Snape said.
Draco turned on his side, away from Snape. He didn’t want to look at the man anymore.
“I know it’s difficult, Draco. It hurts.”
“You don’t know anything.” Draco spat.
Severus took the chair from Draco’s desk and turned it around to face the bed. “I was in much the same predicament as you once upon a time.”
Draco snorted a laugh.
“She hated all my friends, I hated hers. Especially her boyfriend.”
Draco turned back toward Snape. “What happened?”
“We had a row. I called her a very bad name. She never spoke to me again.” Snape’s head fell, and he clasped his hands together. “It was probably for the best. I always tell myself we could have been happy, I could have kept her safe, but that’s just a lie I tell myself to make it through. She couldn’t have lived with me like this. So we’d have left, and be dead in two weeks.” Snape sighed.
“But it could have worked out, couldn’t it have?” Draco asked. “If you had told her how you felt, if you hadn’t joined up.”
“If I had been braver, stronger, easier to love. If I had different parents. There will always be what ifs, Draco, but there are things that not even we can change.”
Draco settled back down onto his back. “How did you get over her?”
“I didn’t” Snape muttered.
Draco looked up.
“I have loved two people in my life, Draco, and I will always love them until my last breath. She was the first, and the second is shared by the two of us. I imagine by the time I take my last breath, I’ll have lost them both.” Snape stood up and walked to the door. “I don’t want you to end up like me, Draco. I wish I had better advice on how to avoid it.”
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