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Chapter 10 : Excursions
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(ii) This chapter partly fulfils the requirements of The Petulant Poetess’ The Free of THAT Challenge. In it, ladyinthecloak said, ‘The word 'that' is the most overused word in fiction. Write a one-shot between 500 and 5000 words about how Snape survived Nagini's bite without that word.’
This is neither a one-shot, nor is it about how Snape survived Nagini’s attack. However, the chapter does not contain the word ‘that.’
A week after the Dark Lord’s fall, Severus Snape was given a clean bill of health. Truth be told, Severus felt better than he had in years, much better than he had felt before the Dark Lord’s second rise to power.
Healer Tisiphone Lestrange, who had come to visit the previous evening, had said as much, declaring she found his complete recovery remarkable. Severus did not enlighten her of the healing powers of the Dark Veela. Instead, he merely acknowledged the fine care he had received from Tisiphone and the Malfoys.
Thus, Saturday morning saw Severus depart for Hogwarts. He was keen to retake his position as Headmaster and see the repairs being undertaken. He had owled Minerva to inform her of his impending visit.
However, in spite of sending word of his arrival, he had not really expected to meet anyone. Therefore, to be met at the gates by a pacing Minerva was unexpected. Her tears and warm, shy hug were soon followed by the reason for her vigil. She wanted to apologise.
‘Oh, Severus,’ Minerva said remorsefully. ‘Can you forgive me? I am very sorry for my behaviour. When I think of all I did, all I said, I feel like the hind-end of a donkey. I could really kick Albus for leaving you out in the cold.’
‘Yes, well, you were meant to believe the worst of me,’ said Severus magnanimously. He had decided he was going to bite his tongue and do his best to control the influence of the curse. Finding true love he had deemed virtually impossible, but finding a wife would require him to woo not only some unsuspecting woman but also the public which would undoubtedly influence her opinion about him. Thus, the scathing attack on Minerva’s intelligence, which was poised and ready to roll of his tongue, was ruthlessly curtailed. Instead, he asked, ‘How are you holding up?’
Perhaps it was Severus’ gentleness and graciousness in dealing with her apology, or perhaps it was just Minerva’s new-found understanding of what Severus had sacrificed, but his seeming forgiveness and brushing off of her apology acted to strengthen her resolve to give the stern man her loyalty.
‘I’m holding up as well as can be expected,’ replied Minerva. ‘The castle has been almost rebuilt. The magic is very resilient, but the wards need to be recast. Only you can do the required casting, of course.’
Severus nodded. The wards protecting the school could only be applied and strengthened by the true Head of Hogwarts. ‘How is the staff?’ asked Severus next. He was curious about what had been discussed following his last hasty departure.
‘Everyone has been recalled to welcome you back,’ said Minerva. ‘When you enter, you will see for yourself.’
This was not what Severus had expected, but then he realised they would give him a hero’s welcome, if only in an attempt to heal the wounds of the last miserable year.
When Severus and Minerva reached the great doors, they were opened by the oldest and most influential of the Hogwarts’ house-elves, Lala.
‘Welcome, Headmaster sir,’ said the elf before bowing so low her long pointed nose touched the flagstones. ‘We is proud and happy to belong to such a fine master.’
Severus nodded graciously. ‘Thank you, Lala,’ he said. ‘It is a pleasure to be able to return.’
Minerva murmured into his ear, ‘The house-elves led by Kreacher fought very bravely. There were some injuries, but thankfully no losses other than for Dobby.’
Severus had not heard this. He had not really paid much attention to Potter’s claims of the bravery of Hogwarts’ house-elves.
‘Please thank all the elves for their selfless service to the school and the children,’ said Severus. ‘Tell them I and the Deputy Headmistress will come to the kitchens later to thank them all personally.’
‘Headmaster sir be very gracious,’ said Lala before silently popping out of sight.
‘Where to next?’ asked Severus. ‘I suppose it is best to get the meeting with the staff out of the way before we get down to business.’
‘Yes, indeed,’ replied Minerva. ‘They are waiting for you in the staff-room.’
The walk down the corridors allowed Severus to see firsthand how much of the castle had been repaired. The new stones looked alien against the older, more weathered sections of the castle.
‘It is hard to imagine the damage,’ said Minerva. ‘There is still much to be done. I’ve not even begun to attend to the statues and the paintings, much less the tapestries and the enchantments. However, Filius has been working on the charms for the Great Hall’s ceiling, and it is back to form.’
‘Excellent,’ said Severus shortly. He was surprised at how easy it was to be pleasant, but he did feel like a fraud for pandering to Minerva in a way reminiscent of his behaviour among the Death Eaters.
As they made their way to the long, panelled room with mismatched, dark wooden chairs, Severus began plotting his future in greater detail. If the rest of the staff were as willing to kowtow to his demands, then ensuring his successful return as Headmaster would be a given. This caused Severus to smirk inwardly. As long as he played his cards right, he could, indeed, have it all.
Besides, mused Severus, if I could spend twenty years pretending to agree with murderers and sycophants, I can easily spend the next however many months and years acquiring a brand new reputation and find myself a willing wife. After all, I am a consummate actor; I could pretend to turn over a new leaf and project a new personality, claiming the old, much harsher me was a result of my role as double agent and the enormous strain I had to constantly live under.
Yes, thought Severus, I can pretend and lure the right kind of woman to be the mother of my children. As he thought about the kind of woman he wanted, he realised the first criteria would be to find a female who was intelligent enough to ensure he didn’t have moronic offspring. Definitely no bleeding heart Gryffindors or mousey Hufflepuffs, he decided. A Slytherin would be too difficult to manipulate effectively. Perhaps a Ravenclaw, was Severus’ next thought. A Ravenclaw who will produce smart children and let me concentrate on my books and potions sounds like the ideal partner. The marriage bed can easily be taken care of with surreptitious use of lust potions if she is unable to find me suitably attractive.
Feeling quite smug with his train of thought, Severus was prepared to be magnanimous with the rest of the staff who were awaiting his presence in the staff-room. As he entered, the staff all broke into a round of applause. In one corner of the room, Filius (Severus had enough experience to realise only Filius would charm something of such saccharine sentiment) had charmed a green and silver banner to welcome him, ‘the silent hero,’ back.
Trying to smile, and ending up with a half-smirk, half-grimace, Severus shook hands and accepted everyone’s apologies. Hagrid cried, wiping his tears with a large, pink spotted handkerchief more suitable for a children’s nursery tablecloth. The most shocking behaviour was from Sybil, who threw herself against him and tried to cover his face with kisses, claiming she had always known he was a knight in tarnished armour. Disgusted, Severus firmly put her aside and met Minerva’s amused glance. However much Severus tried to deny it, the past year had been horrendous, not least because he had lost the easy camaraderie and pleasurable exchange of insults which had gone on between himself and the Head of Gryffindor.
It is good, thought Severus, to see Minerva’s willingness to give our odd friendship another go. I will need her help if I’m to secure myself a suitable wife.
Accepting a cup of tea from the gushing Pomona, Severus made his way to Minerva. Dispelling with small-talk, Severus got straight to the point. ‘What of the Order? I’ve been recovering at the Malfoys’ and have not heard anything since the press-conference.’
Minerva seemed glad Severus was his usual brisk self. ‘Everyone is doing as well as can be expected. There were, of course, a number of deaths, which I’m sure you’ve read about in the Prophet,’ responded Minerva. Then, making sure she was not overheard, she continued, ‘Harry is the one I’m most concerned about; he’s practically barricaded himself in Grimmauld Place with Miss Granger, and he refuses to go out. He says he only wants to eat and sleep. Molly is being very difficult. She feels Miss Granger has bewitched Harry and is trying to cause a break-up between him and his true-love, Ginny.’
Severus chuckled darkly. ‘Miss Granger may be a little know-it-all, but she’s got enough sense to not fall for the Boy Wonder. Besides, I thought she was pining after the ginger-haired menace.’
‘Really, Severus,’ Minerva admonished before giving in to her own laughter. ‘You take too much pleasure in giving the children monikers.’
Severus smirked at her. Then, he asked quietly, ‘Who is acting as the current Head of the Order? It is you or Kingsley? I think it would be a good idea if a meeting is called of all the members. There is debriefing to be done and procedures to be followed so there can be sufficient documentation of all activities of the last year. I have a number of reports to fill in. Perhaps this time we can include the golden trio, so we know what they did in their last year.’
‘Always the practical one,’ remarked Minerva. ‘Kingsley is the current Head, but the last time I spoke to him, he said he just can’t handle the responsibility now since he’s taken over as Minister. He said he felt there were grave conflicts of interest as well as problems with information gathering, but I’ll speak to him and call an Order meeting for early next week.’
Severus nodded before excusing himself to make his way to the Headmaster’s Office. He was keen to get started on the piles of paperwork and administration duties awaiting him. Severus was very aware of the need to amend what had been done at Hogwarts in the past year. The syllabus needed to be overhauled, exam schedules needed to be altered and allowances needed to be made for students returning after their year in hiatus.
The weekend passed swiftly for Severus. He and Minerva worked hard to set the castle wards in place and attend to other important matters of business. Severus found the long hours of candid discussions with Minerva as they worked a significant aid to the renewal and strengthening of their previous friendship. Severus observed with interest how Dumbledore’s disapproval of his return to Hogwarts only helped cement Minerva’s determination to stand by her younger friend and colleague. Severus smirked as he realised Dumbledore’s behaviour was working in his favour. The castle, and indeed the other Headmasters and Headmistresses, was coming to support Severus the more Dumbledore attempted to ignore and discredit him.
In keeping with his promise to Narcissa and Lucius, Monday afternoon saw Severus visiting Wizarding London’s Parkside Lane. This was the much more exclusive section, which lay just off Diagon Alley. Accompanied by an eager Narcissa, who had insisted at the start of their outing it was high time Severus stopped being so very formal with her and called her Cissy as befitting someone who was part of the family, he was led first to Antonio’s for the finest in wizarding footwear.
‘Severus, you really need to wear something besides your dragon-hide boots, especially if you’re going to be invited to numerous balls, which are sure to occur in all of the well-to-do homes,’ insisted Narcissa.
‘My dragon-hide boots are both practical and smart,’ said Severus, but he eventually conceded in letting her chose a pair of very elegant black evening shoes made from the finest of dragon-hide with smart silver buckles. They were, thought Severus, something only a woman could admire, for they seemed far too impractical for duelling. When Severus quietly murmured this to her, Narcissa laughed.
‘I hope there won’t be any duelling at the balls, Severus,’ said Narcissa. ‘Lucius always shops here and their shoes are very strong and well made. Besides, Antonio can have a number of useful charms applied if you’ve any concerns when he makes the final adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.’
This appeased Severus, and before they departed, he had agreed with the charming Antonio to have a number of protective and defensive charms sewn into the shoes so they would be more suitable to his cautious frame of mind.
Next, Narcissa led them to Luxury and Lace, the couturier for the most elegant of London fashion. There, as the proprietress rushed to greet him, Severus stated rather obviously, ‘Cissy dear, I need new robes for the Victory Ball and the Order of Merlin Award presentation ceremony.’
Narcissa responded rather loudly, ‘Severus, Madam Genevieve unfortunately informed me last week she has no time for new custom. Perhaps we could try Madam Malkin’s or even Twilfit and Tatting's? I’ve always been well served there no matter the rumours spread by ignorant rags.’
Severus nodded and said, ‘It’s a pity; I had thought Madam Genevieve was the best, especially for elegant formal wear.’
‘She used to be,’ said Narcissa in a carrying tone of voice, ‘but her taste has changed. I find she now looks for obvious patterns instead of noticing the more subtle designs, which have always been the hallmark of true taste and power.’
‘Indeed,’ said Severus. He offered his arm courteously to Narcissa before making his way to the door.
Madam Genevieve’s customers had, of course, all heard this exchange, and a few even changed their minds about their selections and started to move towards the door. Madam Genevieve was greatly agitated and approached the departing pair.
However, Severus pretended to not notice. Instead, he inquired in an equally carrying tone, ‘When are you heading off to Paris for your own shopping expedition?’
Madam Genevieve, leaving all dignity aside, ran out after them and begged them to come back. She stated, ‘I realise I am a foolish woman, but my fashion sense has remained unaltered.’
Severus bowed. ‘Thank you, Madam, for your attention, but I have always been satisfied with Madam Malkin's. I do not think it is right for a gentleman to snub a good working relationship merely with the change of ignorant public opinion.’
With one final bow, Severus escorted Narcissa further down the street. Narcissa was delighted. ‘Oh, Severus, you handled her even better than Lucius could have done. You know what Lucius is like; he always gets annoyed and loses his temper at the minions.’
Severus smirked and patted Narcissa’s hand, which lay on his arm.
They were just approaching the entrance to Diagon Alley when they spotted Hermione Granger coming out of the Silver Parchment, a rare bookshop. Narcissa and Severus both nodded in greeting to the tentative smile Hermione bestowed upon them in acknowledgement.
Passersby watched avidly as Hermione crossed the street to speak with Narcissa Malfoy and the supposed spy Severus Snape. Hermione did her best to ignore her audience, much as she had done throughout the time she had spent browsing for books and purchasing necessities. Smiling politely, she said, ‘Hello, Professor. Mrs. Malfoy.’ Then, turning to look directly at Severus, she said, ‘It is lovely to see you well enough to visit London, sir.’
Severus nodded in response.
His lack of sneer or open hostility seemed to release the flood-gates, and Hermione immediately rushed into an apology. ‘I’m so sorry, sir, for doing nothing to help. I know it was stupid of me to not cast a diagnostic spell when I saw you bleeding on the floor of the Shrieking Shack.’ Then, more softly, she went on, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t see the truth. Everyone says I’m so clever, but I missed your deception completely. I always trusted you, and I still didn’t see beyond the ruse and consider there might have been a deeper meaning behind your behaviour.’
Severus was unsure of how to proceed. He had been informed of Hermione’s efforts to return for what she had thought was his body by Lucius. To learn she had trusted him, and to hear her berate herself, left him feeling uncomfortable and mildly confused.
Narcissa realised this was a good opportunity to make nice with the Gryffindor Princess. ‘This is not a conversation for the pavement. Perhaps, Miss Granger, you would like to accompany us for a spot of tea at Serendipity?’
Hermione was, in turn, made uncomfortable and did not respond.
Narcissa realised she was about to lose her prey. Reaching out, she took hold of Hermione’s arm and moved forward explaining conversationally, ‘I suppose you’ve never heard of Serendipity?’
At Hermione’s still slightly surprised shake of the head, Narcissa explained. ‘You’ll find it adorable; it is the loveliest of clubs. Very exclusive, of course, but is the stomping ground of the rich and powerful. Their cakes and pastries are divine. Everyone who is anyone is a member. The Malfoys have been members for over two hundred years.’
Severus chuckled darkly. ‘By exclusive, Cissy, you mean only the right people are allowed to even apply for membership. I don’t think they’ve ever had a Muggle-born patron since its inception.’
Narcissa laughed and patted Hermione’s hand. ‘Don’t worry, my dear, we purebloods don’t bite.’
Severus smirked wickedly. ‘No, they only bite if you ask very politely.’
‘Oh, shame on you, Severus,’ said Narcissa with a surprisingly girlish giggle.
Hermione felt as if she was in another universe. She was listening to Mrs. Malfoy and Professor Snape banter, and she was being invited to tea. Well, she thought, it was obvious they were old friends. Hermione was really unsure how to respond. Upon entering the club, however, she was so overwhelmed at looking at all of the wondrous ornaments and decorations, the statues of ancient Greek and Egyptian gods and goddesses, she forgot her discomfort as her curiosity was aroused.
What then occurred was a rather surreal afternoon for Hermione. She watched as Mrs. Malfoy was led by an elegant house-elf draped in a silk cushion cover to what was apparently Narcissa’s favourite corner. A pretty wood nymph sang as tea and an array of exotic cakes and pastries were served. Over tea, Narcissa said, ‘Now since we have both worked together,’ she inclined her head pleasantly at Severus, ‘I must insist you call me Cissy.’
Hermione began to feel extremely uncomfortable again. Not too long ago, she was being tortured in the Malfoys’ drawing-room, and now Mrs. Malfoy was asking her to refer to her by what was clearly a pet name. Has the whole world gone mad? thought Hermione. The Weasleys think I’m sleeping with Harry, Harry is clinging to me like I’m his long-lost mother, and now this. However, remembering her manners, Hermione tried to appear collected and said, ‘Thank you, and you must call me Hermione. I’m sorry, but I find the shortening of my name extremely annoying.’
Narcissa tittered. Leaning closer to Hermione, she confided, ‘Perfectly understandable. My Lucius is the same.’ Then, after taking a sip of her tea, she said, ‘We are all adults here. Let us finally bury the past since the Dark Lord is dead. This is the dawn of a new era, so let us embrace it.’
Hermione nodded. ‘Of course, Mrs. Malfoy, I mean, Cissy.’
‘Excellent,’ said Narcissa and patted Hermione’s hand once more.
Hermione was a smart girl from a solid upper-middle class family, but she was definitely out of her element in such elegant surroundings. However, Cissy worked hard to make her feel comfortable, and Professor Snape, who had been generally quiet, was very polite.
As other patrons stared and called attention to the odd trio, and more importantly the presence of Potter’s Mudblood in the premises, Hermione started to colour up in embarrassment.
Coming immediately to the rescue, Severus said, ‘Don’t let the old imbeciles upset you. They are just curious. No one will have the audacity to question Cissy on her choice of guests. Besides, you’re a heroine now; you must get used to this kind of attention.’
Then, realising the need to engage Hermione’s attention away from the whispers, Severus brought up a different topic. ‘Miss Granger, your speech at the press-conference was very well thought out. Have you been researching the reasons behind the pureblood stance to take up wands in support of Voldemort?’
‘No,’ admitted Hermione. ‘I just said it because I felt it made the most sense. Normal people don’t hanker for an opportunity to commit murder and other atrocities.’
‘Quite so,’ said Narcissa. ‘The truth of the matter is, over the last hundred years, many, many old traditions have been forsaken. The older families are just afraid the old ways will vanish. Families like the Weasleys are called Blood Traitors for taking on new ways and new ideas while refusing to preserve the old.’
Severus nodded. ‘You know, of course, I am a half-blood, but it has never mattered. I still grew up as a part of pureblood society. Slytherin is especially keen to teach the older ways to its students. This is why many Slytherins are so formal, why they mock the other houses for their lack of manners, deportment and understanding of the responsibilities and duties of a witch or wizard.’
Hermione was fascinated. She had always loved to hear Professor Snape lecture in class, and now she listened in captivated silence to his velvet-like voice explaining Wizarding society.
Severus continued, ‘There is an extremely long history of strife between purebloods and Muggle-borns. It begins before the creation of institutions like Hogwarts. It stems from the horrors and destruction caused by untrained Muggle-borns who used their magic to terrorise and dominate, to gain power and control over Muggle clans and royal houses, forcing purebloods who had long been connected to such institutions to suspect and hate all witches and wizards of Muggle birth.’
Hermione could only nod as she listened attentively. She had read some of this history, but hearing it explained from what was obviously a pureblood perspective was fascinating.
‘Think, Miss Granger, how purebloods who, in the ancient past, were the most powerful in society reacted to usurpers. The purebloods were, as you would imagine, desperate to weed out all forms of revolt. Then, the Founders created Hogwarts, and Godric Gryffindor insisted on admitting Muggle-borns. In theory, Salazar Slytherin did not oppose this idea, he was after all an educator too, but he did insist on the Muggle-borns swearing allegiance to the pureblood creed in return for education. Godric refused to see reason and said true allegiance could not be forcibly taken. This was the real reason for the split and why Salazar left in the end. He saw how the students he had trained went out and wreaked havoc because they had no allegiance to the magical world, an allegiance all purebloods had because of familial ties built upon a shared understanding of duty, honour, loyalty and fidelity.’
Hermione was speechless. When she could finally find her voice, she asked, ‘Why are we not taught any of this? Why have I not read any of this at Hogwarts?’
'Really, Miss Granger,’ said Severus snidely. ‘The history books are written by the victors, and Godric won. He removed his greatest opponent and ensured only his version of events was written down. Of course, the Slytherins have their own records, but you were taught by do-gooders like Dumbledore to disregard anything presented from an alternative source. You were told all Slytherins were dark, evil and prejudiced, so you didn’t bother accepting any account made by them, saying their version was biased and tainted. Did I not insist on the importance of not parroting out information? Did I not implore you to think, to reason, to give me something other than what was found in the text books?’
Hermione nodded slowly and grudgingly. It was true; Professor Snape had often called her out on her ability to quote passages directly from prescribed texts. Back then, she had not realised the reason for him insisting she think. She had thought he was finding fault with her, insulting her intelligence and belittling her for being a Gryffindor. How foolish Hermione now felt. She realised her bias. Hindsight was not pleasant, but she promised herself to learn to think for herself. She would strive to use her intelligence to interrogate ideas and sources and learn to examine commonly held beliefs more objectively. If texts were revealed to originate from a Slytherin source, she had not read their version of history. Even as she had devoured the books in the Black library in Grimmauld Place, she had ignored the books on Slytherin lore and Slytherin history, not because she wasn’t curious, but because she had felt it a waste of her time.
Severus was now in full professor mode and continued to lecture. ‘The witch-burnings of the so-called Dark Ages were a Muggle-born instigation. Christianity was on the rise in Europe, and many Muggle-borns thought their magic was a gift of God. The purebloods continued to follow the old traditions. They saw in Christ a mere imitation of older deities, and as witches and wizards follow no common pantheon or deity, the Muggle-borns branded them the children of the Devil. You must have learned of how pureblood witches and wizards mostly escaped, but what is not commonly known is the number of untrained Muggle-borns, squibs and half-blood children who perished. It was a time of great pain in the magical community. Finally, the purebloods gathered together and ensured a treaty was signed. The older magical families, the purebloods, promised in return for the cessation of hostilities, they would stop taking an active role in the Muggle world.’
Severus stopped. Narcissa handed him another cup of tea, which he gladly drank. He had said far more than he had intended to. As he pondered his sudden verbosity, Narcissa took up the tale. ‘Miss Granger, Hermione, the purebloods today mourn the loss of the old values, traditions, celebrations. In the past, children with magical ability, no matter their heritage, used to be welcomed, named and presented to the magical community before their first year was through. It was an important rite of passage, an official introduction to the magical world if you will. This custom is no longer in operation because purebloods no longer have their own counties and large estates. Being presented as an infant is an important rite for both the child as well as the community. It allows both parties to navigate the position the new addition will occupy. If a magical child is born to Muggles, they are no longer the responsibility or wards of the pureblood Barons. Instead, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry, which does nothing. There is no way of teaching children the fundamentals of magical behaviour until they enter Hogwarts at eleven, which purebloods feel is far too late. We start teaching our children their place in society, their duties and responsibilities at a much younger age.’
She paused and looked off into the distance. After a moment, she seemed to pull her thoughts back to the present and smiled at Hermione who was still listening very attentively.
‘When I was a little girl,’ said Narcissa, ‘we used to have the most amazing festivals and celebrations in all the best family homes. People would gather, and there would be feasts and dancing. In midsummer, there used to be rites for fertility. It was on such an occasion when I was but seventeen where Lucius proposed. All these festivals have totally been removed from the Hogwarts curriculum.’ Narcissa grew more playful. ‘Why, I remember Bella approaching a fifteen-year-old Severus to take his virginity on the occasion of a fertility rite. Severus was so red; I thought he was going to burst in horror at being approached by an older woman.’ Narcissa laughed wickedly.
Severus, on the other hand, was not amused. ‘Really, Cissy,’ he said. ‘Must you tell my student salacious stories about me?’
‘Oh, Severus,’ Narcissa replied with a smile. ‘Hermione is an adult, and I’m sure she does not imagine you as a sexless being.’
Up to this point, Hermione had indeed not thought of Professor Snape in connection to his sexuality. She had learned, of course, of his love for Lily Evans, but Mrs. Malfoy’s, no Cissy’s, teasing made her acknowledge Professor Snape as a man.
Narcissa continued to speak as if coming to a realisation, ‘You know, I think your turning down Bella’s offer was one of the reasons why Bella never really trusted you. She couldn’t understand a man who refused free, no-strings attached sex.’
‘Quite,’ said Severus stiffly.
‘I’m sorry, old friend,’ said Narcissa, ‘I know how private a person you are.’
Hermione watched the two with wide eyes. Wanting to break the tension, which had descended on the table, she said earnestly, ‘Perhaps if books are written for a newer, younger audience, more of this will be widely known.’
Narcissa smiled and patted Hermione’s hand gently. ‘My dear girl, there are plenty of books out there.’
Severus who was feeling quite put out said rather snidely, ‘If you, Miss Granger, had seen such books in the past, you would have assumed they were filled with Dark magic or bigotry and would have passed them by.’
Hermione was ashamed. She blushed at her arrogance and was forced to agree.
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