This house was a madhouse. Was it because of Black, the Weasleys or the gathering members of the Order?
I didn't know, I only knew that I could live without it, because these giggles were absolutely annoying and now Potter's permanent presence in this house harassed me too! When he had come in he had looked absolutely dumbstruck when I had been sitting in his usual seat, in the dark next to Black. Potter apparently didn't like it at all, so his lips had twisted into a thin, disapproving line. Then he had turned away abruptly and settled down spontaneously in Miss Granger’s usual seat, which, as I noticed Black’s temporarily tense posture, didn't suit the other man in turn. It was hysterically funny, but of course there was nothing more than emphasised indifference on my features. Oh well, Potter, even the godson can't compete with the youthful, willing body of a woman, I thought maliciously and twisted down the corners of my mouth, for already the pictures of the last meeting came to my mind, where I had seen Black and Miss Perfect in action.
No, I didn't want to think of that, I called myself resolutely to order. I had found a way to eradicate the pictures of Miss Granger, but unfortunately hadn't been able to arrange a new meeting in the last few days. This close to the start of the school year and combined with my live as a spy my tasks were just too varied to have time to pursue my rare pleasure. When I thought about it... Minna, yes, she had successfully suppressed the thoughts of Miss Granger, and as I recalled my memory, I decided to send an owl soon!
But then my thoughts were interrupted much to my chagrin, as the cacophony of my surroundings reached unimaginable heights, and I had to listen to Lupin, Tonks, Potter and the red posse and how loudly indignant they were about Miss Granger's behaviour, since she had just said good-bye in Diagon Alley and disappeared without a trace! Unbelievable, unfortunately, I couldn't blame her. This was the dominant theme of this impertinent and obnoxious rabble.
I looked at Black, who became increasingly restless and glanced at the door again and again. It was already half past nine. And as much as I knew, Miss Granger always came back at eight o'clock, or shortly afterwards. She was punctual and in this respect she was just as pedantic as with her mile-long essays with all the cross-references, annoying but predictable. I would never admit it, but I was like her. Me and any resemblance to Granger, just ridiculous! Why did that annoying little girl dominate my thoughts that much?
Exactly because she didn't present herself like a little schoolgirl. To Potter and the Weasleys perhaps, but to me and Black she had shown another, very different and very unexpected face. But now, what would I know or what would we know what Miss Granger was doing anyways? I wouldn't try to guess where she had left to, after I had gotten to know her more closely, as I doubted not to say something vicious, perhaps she was amusing herself with a man in an alley? Who could know it with her, I thought contemptuously and a little bit spiteful! Whilst I was deep in my thoughts, all of which were about Miss Granger, as I recognized with contempt and which I would never admit openly, a Patronus burst suddenly through the kitchen door, a magpie! Who, by Slytherin, had a magpie? It flew straight toward Black.
I just indignantly raised an eyebrow and watched all this from my corner. The whole kitchen was wrapped in silence. They all stared at the spectacle that was taking place before their eyes. The whole order was already there, except for Albus, and no one knew such a Patronus. This Patronus was now already in front of Black and a scratchy, breathless voice aspirated only one word "Casanova" and the magpie dissolved immediately into smoke and had thus delivered its message. Black's wary glance looked anxious at once, and his face had become very pale. He rose abruptly and rushed out of the room, even before a question could be addressed to him. He left behind a brief, intense silence before the grueling yelling started. What was that? Who was that? Why did Sirius know what it meant? What was meant by "Casanova"? And so on and so on ... blablabla ... why did I always have to persevere in the midst of such idiots? I thought to have a weak idea, but knowing..
And soon the kitchen door was thrown open with such impetus that it loudly hit the wall. It revealed a stiff, Black, white as chalk, his lips squeezed tightly.
"Snape. A. Word. In. The. Library!", Black breathed out breathlessly, as I had never, but truly never, heard him before. His eyes were rigidly fixed on me, as if they wanted to tell me something important. I slowly looked up, tilted my head. As it seemed serious and important, I nodded briefly and rose up smoothly. Black had ignored any question of the others, acting unfamiliarly cold. He astonished me, for he suddenly grabbed my arm.
"Faster, Severus, quicker, please," he said, trembling and started to jog, and I didn't appreciate such a treatment at all.
This sentence, with ... with my first name and the word "please," from Black! These things gave me a really bad feeling, because a Black who pleaded for something was impossible! Black would never address such words to me, for that we hated each other too fervently. What happened here? What was going on here? Thus we both stormed into the library and what revealed itself to me deeply touched me. My breath stopped and my blood was freezing in my veins. It was a horrible sight.
There, in the Blacks’ antique library, surrounded by all the wonderful books, laid Miss Granger and what I saw was incredibly terrible! She laid unconscious on her right side on the carpeted floor, which was getting more and more red around her. The handle of a knife protruded from her left side, but the rest of her appearance was frightening too. Every place on her body was covered in blood, her clothes, her hands, her face! She looked like she was completely painted red. Her curly brown hair had turned into a hard, clotted mess of blood. Where had come all this blood from? It came to my mind that one would have had to slaughter for that amount of blood, the sight was shocking! All questions were, however, put on hold. She was badly hurt, Black had done right to get me.
I growled furiously, rushed toward the young woman lying on the ground and kneeled beside her. She opened her eyes with difficulty and looked at me with her large, brown, slightly blank eyes. An exhausted smile appeared on the corners of her mouth, which looked creepy on her bloody face. Her breath came raggedly and falteringly. I already spoke a spell, which made her top disappear. Now she was only dressed in a bra in front of us. A Tergeo cleansed her from the blood so that one could see what blood was hers and what wasn't, for she had looked like she had only a single, large wound. I chanted a strong Episkey, that would at least slow her bleeding a bit and then put myself to work.
"Hermione, what happened, Hermione?" Black asked the injured girl anxiously, repeatedly, whimpering the entire time. I didn’t pay any attention to this. I completely ignored him, all my attention was on the injured, bleeding, young woman at my feet.
I hissed, "Pull yourself together, Black!", then I took off my coat and held it up. "Search my coat here," I ordered imperiously, still holding it in front of him. "Blood-replenishing potion, strengthening potion, healing potion..." I demanded sharply and forcefully. That I would live to see the day, I couldn’t believe, but oddly enough, Black followed my instructions without any objections.
"Snape, this vial was laying on the floor," he suddenly said in a rough voice, handing it to me. I took it off him and smelled at it.
"Mhmhm ..." I muttered.
"What is it, Snape?" Black asked nervously.
"She apparently still managed to take a blood-replenishing potion," I deigned to give an explanation before I stopped talking again. First, I had to get an overview of the nature and diversity of the injuries. I let my exploring gaze wander over her body. The knife was stuck inside her, and I could see something that apparently had escaped from Black’s eyes in his panic: her neck didn't look good at all! I dared to venture a guess that someone had tried to strangle her. I could clearly see the bloodshot prints of each individual finger on her throat, someone had to have squeezed with uncannily raw strength, the bruises were extremely noticeable. They contrasted starkly with her waxy pallor. It was difficult for her to breathe air into her lungs, as she tried to breath deeply and sometimes even gasped, so I spoke an Anapneo, that would free her airways and she could breathe with ease again. She would need her breath while I healed her stab wound even if it would just be to scream. But otherwise, my searching look couldn't detect any more superficial wounds. There were already enough.
“Black, look for a decongesting potion too, and feed it to her," I figured belatedly. I now cast spell after spell, to get control over the stab wound on her left side. The diagnosis spells had shown me that no vital, internal organs had been hurt, only her spleen was injured. She was lucky that she didn't get stabbed in the right side, because it would've hit her liver instead and then... oh, doesn't matter, it didn't happen. Fortune favors fools, tore through my mind hatefully.
"Give her all the potions, Black!" I managed to say casually, while I gently run my finger along the stab wound. "But leave the painkiller-potion, understood!" I growled darkly, watching as he tried to lift her head as gently as possible and helped her swallow the potions, which had to be very painful and difficult in her position and with the throat damage. But I could see how she forced herself to swallow the fluid, her larynx moving slowly back and forth. Nothing but a faint whimper escaped her lips.
"Why doesn't she get a painkilling potion?" Black asked stricken with sorrow, when she couldn't suppress a painful groan, staring simply shocked but fascinated at the weapon sticking out of her body, unable to look away.
"I can't give it to her. It would be counterproductive, the other potions wouldn't work properly anymore," I said scornfully when faced with his ignorance. "But I think she knows that?", and looked into her open brown eyes, wide from shock, which looked like they could see deeper than ever before. What had she experienced today? What had she done or needed to do to survive?
"Hush, you can do this, Hermione!" Black whispered to her vehemently, stroking her hair soothingly.
"First to the difficult part, Miss Granger. Can you hear me? It was the right decision not to pull out the knife, to leave it in place," I declared during the diagnosis-spell.
"I don't know how you came to this divine inspiration, but if you had done it, you would've bled out, at the moment the knife acts as a stopper. That is to say, if I remove it, we must hurry, first to fix the damage on your spleen and then close the wound as quickly as possible, to stop the bleeding. You've lost enough blood today," I explained objectively. I looked at her gravely, and at Black, who was staring at me with fearsome eyes, but seemed to hang on my every word.
"Just so we understand each other correctly, and you won't give yourself any illusions, it will be very painful, and if you don’t black out, you will experience everything vividly, Miss Granger!" I clarified with all honesty and very little empathy, but she didn't look away for even a second, simply held my gaze firmly. Black looked at me horrified. "But... but Snape, this is inhumane," he whispered indignantly, looking shocked, "..you can't.."
"I can and I will, Black. You can not give her anything for the pain until afterwards, I will still need your help, because you have to hold her down while I pull the knife out. You have to push her to the ground and make sure that she'll hold still, otherwise she could make the injury worse. She must keep still, did you understand that, Miss Granger? When the object is removed, you have to turn her on her stomach immediately, so that I have the best access to her wound, understood?", I stated impatiently, looking at him imploringly and sternly .
"Yes!" She whispered softly. Her voice was hoarse and rough, but she looked deep into my eyes, her own filled with determination.
"Well, let's do it, on three!" I said resolutely, gripping the handle with my hand. At this time, Black held Miss Granger's shoulders to the ground and looked into my face, nodding at me. "One, two, three, and.." and without any hesitation, I tore the handle out of her side. The handle disengaged quite reluctantly with a slight smacking sound from her flesh.
Her blood gleamed in the glow of the fire on the silvery blade. I put this relatively small boot knife - the blade measuring about twelve centimeters - now beside me and turned to the body writhing before me. She had tried to rise up and gave a sharp scream as I pulled the knife out of her so suddenly. I could see a small trickle of blood flowing from her mouth. Tears streamed down her pale face, and beads of sweat had formed on her forehead. A constant whimper came out of her trembling lips, but this left me cold at the moment.
I focused my attention on her injury. Black turned her on her belly, so I could examine the stab wound. Now, without the resistance, the blood flowed quickly out of the wound. I immediately raised my wand and recited spells to fix the spleen inside her and to slow down the flow of blood. Thus the inner cuts slowly closed. Sweat also formed on my forehead, for healing had always been exhausting magic, that's why it was so hard for a wounded wizard to heal himself, even with magic. Black had to fight to keep Granger restrained without inflicting too much additional pain on her. The pain inside had to be tremendous, because it twinged and pulled terribly when such serious injuries healed magically.
But as it looked, Miss Granger didn't slip into the saving grace of unconsciousness. I could imagine what kind of pain she was going through. Why did she never make it easy for herself, I thought resignedly. My spells continued to work, and suddenly she stilled, fully ceasing her resistance, only a slight groan and whimpers came over her torn lips. Her strength must be exhausted by now. Next I used a diagnostic spell that showed me that I had more or less fixed the internal injury to the spleen, and was now able to close her outer wound. Since this was not a simple cut, but an incision deep into human flesh, I had to sew it close magically.
There would be a scar left after such an injury, not an ugly one, but a long, white line would always remind her of the knife that had been stuck inside her.
I conjured up needle and thread, and leaned down close to the wound. I looked briefly at Black, who had his hands on her back and was bent over her, his gaze fixed on me. He looked frighteningly pale, his hair clinging to his face, and his lips pressed together tightly. I signed him to hold her down again, as the stitches wouldn't be pleasant. He nodded at me understandingly, a seething expression in his eyes. The first stitch of the needle, the piercing of her skin, made her twitch slightly, but otherwise she didn't show much reaction, then she got used to the steady, piercing sensation and didn't even twitch anymore.
We could see Miss Granger biting her lips as she turned her face sideways and pressed the cheek to the floor so as not to scream, which made me feel admiration for her because I sewed her skin without a painkilling-potion or any anesthetic. She was really tough, the way she lay there was almost unreal, a scary picture. With her belly on the carpet, Black, kneeling at her head and restraining her, I, who was sitting next to her midsection, conducting the magical needle, and all of it was illuminated by the fire in the fireplace. It made a surreal picture.
"Black, in my coat is still a highly effective healing ointment, which helps against scarring and cuts, give it to me, when I tell you to!", I commanded again.
"But, Hermione, she...?" I interrupted him harshly. "Will not move, she has become accustomed to the pain," I replied, fending of his objection, while he looked doubtfully in my face, but she briefly nodded to him. He released her skeptically, and soon he held the pot with the inscription Dr Salbader’s ointment in his hand and before my eyes. When I had finished sewing, the thread was knotted, the last healing and cleansing spells were spoken, I let myself sink backward, exhausted, and pulled my chin-length, raven-black hair out of my face. It had been stressful minutes. The injuries weren't small. She could have died. Finally, I tiredly pulled myself up and stretched my tense back. With my hand I indicated Black to give me the ointment, which he did without a word.
Black watched the scene, while she laid in front of us and I rubbed in the ointment very cautiously along the stitches so that only a small, white scar would remain because the blade had a smooth surface. Then I pushed myself up, got back on my knees and began to lay bandages around her. When this was done, I conjured a long, comfortable button-up shirt for her and hexed it onto her. Then, with a non-verbal Mobilicorpus, I let her float gently towards the couch, laid her down cautiously and cleaned the carpet of the suspicious red. Black slumped into the left armchair and I sank into the right one. Suddenly he jumped up again and ran to a chest of drawers, then returned with two glasses. He pressed one of it wordlessly into my hand and I indignantly raised an eyebrow and sniffed at it!
Aha, firewhiskey, why not and I quickly drank it in one go, reclined into the armchair in exhaustion, feeling whacked, and brushed sweat from my forehead with my sleeve. This had been quite taxing. I could see Granger tensing slightly. She had clenched her hands into fists, so I got up and went to her. With an Accio, I had summoned a vial from my cloak before, knelt down on one leg in front of the couch, and put the potion to her torn lips, which she opened obediently and drank.
"Whaaaat..?", it came from behind. "Pain-Killing Potion!"
She dropped her head on the armrest. "Oh, thank you!", she whispered hoarsely.
I sat back into the chair. "I hope you feel capable to explain your predicament. Do you, Miss Granger?" I said casually and crossed my legs nonchalantly. "Because it didn't need much more and we could've made you a coffin!" I sneered viciously, but my mood was sinking very fast after this drama had been overcome.
Black nodded agitatedly. "He's right... absolutely, Hermione. You gave me the scare of my live today, and I've already experienced a lot, but to see you covered in blood... with the knife that sticks out of you, I... I, oh my God!", he stuttered, groaning, his head sinking into his hands in despair.
"What happened, Hermione?" Black inquired in a slightly calmer tone, his face still hidden.
"I feel awagh- awful…” she said after clearing her throat. “As if a truck run me” she stated, as she coughed to clear her throat again. Her eyes were pinched together and she had her hand over her eyes to cover them from the light.
"And here I thought you looked just lively." I said smugly, not bothering with pleasantries. My sarcastic character just came through with me again. She raised up a bit. "How,...” she paused to clear her throat before trying again. “How bad is it, sir?” she asked, her large shocked eyes not helping her pale complexion.
"Quite well, given the circumstances. Your injury should be completely healed in two days time, I will however need to have a look at it tomorrow evening at Hogwarts.” I told her. “You have survived purely out of foresight, though had things not turned out how they did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, Miss Granger!" I reprimanded. "Now, an explanation if you will.” I demanded crossly.
"What happened to your throat... Hermione, it looks completely squashed... Hermione?", Black started to screech, only now realising Granger had been choked. He must have been beside himself until now, as the bruising was hard to overlook. His antics were starting to build a steady throb behind my eyes. Granger however, didn’t appear to be bothered much by the fact she had been nearly strangled to death, could it be shock that was keeping her so level headed, so collected? Or was this perhaps all an act? She seemed too calm, especially as she looked him questioningly in the eye, one brow raised in what I could only guess was annoying disbelief. Was it not obvious that someone had tried to strangle the chit? Apparently it was not, seeing as the fool was asking obvious questions. She shook her head for a moment as if to acknowledge the lifelong idiocy of Black to herself and closed her eyes in exhaustion.
After clearing her throat again, something that was starting to grind on my already sensitive nerves, she began her tale in what was probably the softest tone I had ever heard her use. Was the girl talking to herself or trying to get her mutt to calm down? "Where shall I start?" She appeared to be lost in thought, her hands crept unconsciously towards her neck, gently stroking the tender flesh, causing her to let out a soft pained moan. Her petite body trembled slightly, probably the memory came rushing back into her mind’s eye. She took a deep breath, and she might have fooled everyone into thinking her cold and calm had I not been in the room and able to see through her facade, through the crack in her mask before she slipped it back on, before she regained control of her memories.
"I walked into an alley... towards the point I had chosen for apparition… as fate would have it… I was ambushed… ” she explained, taking a short pause to ease her throat muscles. “I wanted to come… here… and… and from behind I heard … two… and slammed into the wall." Another breath before she continued, while I frowned heavily, her stuttering made little sense.
"I… held my wand in hand and… and was able to Stupefy him.” Was it just me or was the girl’s voice shaking? I thought to myself as I watched her fingers reach around her neck before burying themselves in her hair. “I-I managed to…. And then I…. the next… and he…. I” suddenly the hands in her her hair were pulling viciously at it and her breathing had accelerated. I motioned Black to give her a glass of firewhiskey, in hopes that it would calm her down enough to explain herself properly, instead of spewing gibberish.
"Here, Hermione, drink this," he said tenderly as he held the glass for her to drink from, as she was still shaking, and she downed the firewhiskey in one large gulp before coughing violently and gasping for air. She grimaced, the firewhiskey having obviously burned her maltreated throat, but it would drive away the shock and she would perhaps be able to articulate the events.
"Better?" Black asked, and she nodded.
"Start again from the beginning. You wanted to Apparate to Grimmauld Place, but two young men stopped you, you knocked one of them out with a Stupefy? Is this correct?" I summarized. "Why, what did they want from you?" I had cocked my head, watching her with curiosity, and swung my glass, which I had refilled, deliberately back and forth in my hand. The amber-colored liquid sloshed and fire light sparkled in it. She just nodded at us and fixated something in the distance with her eyes.
"Yes..", she fell silent and lowered her head. "..it's easier... if you know who they were... Bole... Derrick..." she breathed between coughs, closing her eyes. At that moment, my eyes threatened to pop out of my head! That’s luck alright, she had come across these two boxers! Bole and Derrick were two Slytherins, against whom Crabbe and Goyle were harmless teddy bears. I knew that both had just been branded with the Dark Mark, I had participated in the initiation shortly after the beginning of the holiday.
These were always festivities to which the Dark Lord put emphasis on when the family of Death Eaters expanded. It was really hard for me to keep my blank mask intact, because these were malicious, nasty contemporaries who would be doing short work with a small, petite girl such as herself. They wanted and needed to establish themselves among the other Death Eaters. As new members without a family strongly incorporated into the ranks, they had to find their own place among the Dark Lord’s troops in the lower tiers.
I could imagine that they had recognized Granger with whom they had gone to Hogwarts, and had calculated their chances of winning favour. Slytherins were always quick to recognize their own advantage at a moment’s notice. But these two weren't really embellishments of my house and always thought only as far as throwing the first punch. Finesse was alien to them, they were more the type for rough work. I sat up very straight now, because this promised to become exciting, now that I knew the protagonists of this drama.
"Who are Bole and Derrick?", Black wanted to know curiously. I brushed him off, put it off till later. She seemed to have caught herself again, and now turned her head back and looked icily at us. "I attacked, Derrick... Stupify... and Bole Expelliarmus... then he came... grabbed my throat and slammed me into the wall... he... wanted to strangle me..", she said, and rubbed absentmindedly over her throat again. "... I pulled my daggers ... chrmm ...", her other hand trailed to her thighs. Where are the daggers, I thought, frowning, but she surprised me again, for at that moment she pulled out two previously invisible daggers, whose long blades were stained with dried, brown blood, and looked at them pensively.
Black sat still with his mouth gaping open, which didn't really make him look smarter, but I think my otherwise perfect mask was just a bit askew as well. The way she lay there on the couch, with these two large daggers in her petite hands which she held skillfully, was a sight that you didn't get every day.
Well, I had a better grip on myself, but it would not take much and I could have the same idiotic expression on my face as Black. Now that was a horrifying thought. We still said nothing, waiting for her to continue. The tension in the room was palpable. At the time, almost everything was quiet, you could only hear our breathing and the sounds of the fire.
She shook her head slightly and cleared her throat once again. "... I used them! ... firstly ... so he'd let go of me, I stuck one in his liver ... he jumped back ... then he pulled his knife too ... we attacked each other ... and then he shoved his knife ... inside me ... " she murmured softly " ...he was so close ... and there I ... took the chance and ... slit his throat ... " she said haltingly, but also very quiet and incredibly cold and collected.
Miss Granger, Gryffindor princess, overachiever, Miss Perfect, had taken a human life today, my world view shook to the very foundations! What a realisation! I could see that all this took its toll on her, but she still seemed to be rather distant. It should be different when a person took a life, a young girl, a schoolgirl shouldn't seem so calm, even if she had been severely injured. You would start to panic and wouldn't remain as calm as she did. You wouldn't stay so measured, but tend to pull out the knife in a kneejerk reaction, it was a human instinct. Suppressing it wasn't easy. I knew what I was talking about because I had already waged the first war from the front lines.
"Continue", I wanted more information and Black seemed to be no longer receptive. "What happened then?" I elaborated, when I noticed her questioning look.
"Oh, it... really... wasn't really nice, that... lots of blood... came out like a fountain over me..", she grimaced in disgust and stared at her hands holding the daggers. "..revolting, his... gaped wide open... ran over my hands, I... this is so disgusting. Then he was dead, collapsed, so dead.." she echoed incredulously, but shrugged and put the daggers away again.
"I panicked, but I made myself calm down, when I saw the knife inside me... it wasn't nice, but I know from the muggles that you will survive better - with injuries like this - if you leave it inside... The spleen!", she looked up again and gave another shrug, "... and so I left it where it was... I took care of Derrick... and then I apparated, directly to the front door, was really exhausting. Next I went to the library. I have no idea how I was able to climb up the stairs!", she said visibly surprised by herself, but it wasn't just her that was astonished at the turn of events.
"What did you do to Derrick?" I asked in a husky voice. Heaven, hopefully she didn't deliberately... She couldn’t have done it, right? I hastily took a sip, a glance to the side showed me that Black was sitting there motionless.
"..Oh... oh, I did something forbidden..", she breathed conspiratorially, and this confirmed my worst fears, as well as Black’s, who was wincing beside me. "... I sent him to the Ministry, along with Bole, I thought... yeah, what did I think... might be funny... Fudge..", she muttered quietly and absently to herself.
"What, how did you send them there? What if Derrick tells...?", Black immediately yelled, it seemed like he was still on the ball, who would have thought, I passed judgement viciously.
"Do you think I'm stupid? Derrick has fallen victim to an extensive Obliviate... do you really think I'm an idiot...?", she hissed now angrily and with flashing eyes. Wow, what an amazing change within a second.
"No, of course not, but that you were able to be so considerate in this situation...", Black said intimidated and now very feebly.
"I agree with Black, Miss Granger, something so thought-out in such an exceptional situation, there is a certain detachment necessary!" I told her. The expression in her eyes confused me. It looked as if she knew something I didn't know.
"Well, I'm considerate most of the time...", she continued succinctly. "... I've eliminated all traces of showing that I was involved..." Her voice was ice-cold by now.
"Oh well... so I've apparated, it was very exhausting... went up here... and then I've summoned my Patronus… hoping you would understand the message, Sirius, and I don't know much more, it's all a bit blurry. I think I've managed to take a blood-replenishing potion. After that..." she stopped. We were gobsmacked, both of us. Black was all gaga about it and drank another glass. I just sat there and stared at her absolutely speechless. What was that? Hermione Granger, Potter's golden girl, had taken a human life today, killed a young man we knew and was very cold-hearted about it. I was speechless and that didn't happen often.
"Hermione, you... you murdered a man today!", Black blurted, sounding absolutely shocked .
"So what Sirius? If not Bole, then I would've died in the alley! No, thanks!" she hissed. Black backed away as if she had hit him.
"She's right!" I said coldly, looking at her with a raised brow. She nodded at me. I agreed with her, Bole would certainly have strangled her, or later slaughtered her with the knife, they weren’t part of the Death Eaters for nothing, but that Miss Granger was able to see it rationally despite the circumstances was very shocking. Yes, it shocked me.
“Your Patronus was impressive. Where did you learn it?”, I wanted to know, as I had still some questions left.
"Right here. I've practiced it often in the last few weeks. I could only pray that it would work in this situation, but I've always functioned pretty good under stress," she said succinctly and coughed again. I conjured a glass of water, which she took gratefully and sipped it carefully.
"How do you cope after you have taken a human life?" I asked.
"Professor... how I did it was disgusting, and I'm sure I'll get some nightmares or will have to take a potion for dreamless sleep... considering that the image has burned itself into my mind... I never wanted to make such a decision, but I had this one thought in my head: ‘If I were to die here, I will take these scum bags with me. Periode.’ I tell you both this because I owe you both my life. You deserve to know.", she said, her stance determined and her voice quivering with suppressed rage.
I could hear Black gulp, as if he were swallowing a big stone.
Though my face remained impassive, I was surprised by her lack of hysteria. Where was the struggling with one’s fate that often followed murder regardless of whether it was justified or not? Where were the tears that were normally expected from her? I had seen grown men crying after such events from the guilt and women, as everyone knew, were prone to tears.
"Hermione, are you sure you're okay?" Black asked disbelievingly, wringing his hands.
"Sirius, are you really asking me that? I was stabbed! Stabbed all the way through! Of course I'm not well, damn it!" she cursed, sounding less than lady-like.
"But that's what I meant to discuss, honey. You did what you had to do in self-defence. No-one should have to go through what you went through... Hermione, I'm so s-"
Black was cut off by Miss Granger’s indignant "Don't finish what you're saying, Sirius!”
Black’s face betrayed his emotions, his eyes wide and his mouth stuck mid-word. She chose to continue while he was struck dumb, all while glaring daggers at him. “Don't say you're sorry. You can't change what happened, and I'm certainly not sorry. Those fuckers deserved it.”
"Miss Granger, do you think this attitude is the right one?" I asked demandingly, somewhat offended by her language. Despite that, I was impressed by how level-headed she was. She didn’t need to be reassured that her actions were justified. She knew that already. She amazed me again and again.
"Yes!” was her curt reply. I then decided to change the subject, not wanting to anger her further.
"The idea with the Patronus was good. Black, how did you know who sent it to you? And furthermore, how did you figure out where to look?" I inquired, turning left to face him. He was sitting in his chair, thinking while almost pouting.
"Oh, that's a simple one. Hermione... she always calls me 'Casanova' and so I knew it was her. But her voice sounded so funny and I thought of the library first..." Sirius explained, his tone glum.
"That was very clever of you, Miss Granger," I praised. "If something like this happens again, you can send me your little magpie. Our code word will be 'bat'. You’ll also have to indicate where you are somehow. I’m afraid I’m not as attuned to your usual whereabouts as Black seems to be!" I grinned, unbridled scorn lacing my lips.
It then occurred to me the I had just, unconsciously, offered her my continued assistance. How did that happen? I had no reason to continue helping her. And I had no evidence that she would be in a dangerous situation again. When I tried to think upon it, my mind could only conjure up the last few occasions that we had met upon since the holidays began. I had already patched her up two times in that short a timespan, that’s why.
Something let me believe that this wasn't over with Granger. Maybe it was instinct, maybe intuition or maybe even just paranoia. Regardless, I was not used to this at all. I prided myself on my logic. I wasn’t about to abandon it now. Chalking up my abruptness to restlessness and constant surprise, I shook my head clear of these thoughts.
"Wow Snape, what are you doing?" An astonished Black could never shut his mouth, I thought grimly.
"Thank you, Professor... but 'bat'?" She whispered cautiously with a startled look.
“Yes,” I said, firmly. “No one is crazy or daring enough to call me that, so I will know that the message is from you.” And while Miss Granger was mulling over that, I felt compelled to add “And be sure not to do this often. If you call for me and you are not mortally wounded, you will be in deep trouble!” No doubt, my speech was as threatening as it usually was. I didn’t give any indication of leniency. So why was she smiling?
"Thank you, sir," she replied, closing her eyes, and grimaced with a suffering expression.
"I think it’s time to call it a day,” I said. “Your exhaustion is incredibly obvious. And before someone comes looking for us…” I checked the grandfather clock. “Since it's almost ten o'clock... I’ll go to the kitchen and distract everyone. Black, you escort Miss Granger to her room and then come back down," I explained, extricating four vials from my coat.
"I recommend taking three drops of the dreamless sleep potion. The less you move, the better,” I said, handing him the potions. “And tomorrow morning, you should take these three vials. A blood-replenishing, a healing and a strengthening potion.” Black took the potions and I shifted my attention to my other companion. “Will you be needing a pain-killing one as well?" I asked Miss Granger as I picked up the boot knife that had stuck in her earlier.
"As a precaution, maybe. The journey to Hogwarts and the feast... will certainly be exhausting," she mused. I nodded and gave her what she desired. It was at that point that it occurred to me why she was so composed, so trusting of Black and I, so willing to divulge all that had happened today. It was because of that damned spell that she had put on us both in the beginning. It guaranteed that we wouldn't tell anybody a single word about her escapades. My head began to throb immediately and powerfully at the thought. She knew she was safe. Oh, this little, sneaky minx. She really was too smart and meticulous, downright Slytherin.
I knew now that Miss Granger was a murderer, even if it was out of self-defense. What would the honorable Gryffindor say? After all, I myself was... speechless at the realisation. But she had made the right decision. It was a matter of life and death, and she chose her own life over those of the Death Eaters. That would be expected, logically, from most human beings. No, the part that was surprising was her lack of guilt. Most people quarreled with fate because they felt burdened with the taking of a human life. Their conscience and their morality helped little in dealing with the aftermath. But why did I doubt that this would happen to Granger? The way she carried herself and the way she talked… she had convinced me that she would learn to live with it or rather had already begun to accept what she had done without letting herself be greatly influenced by it. Thus I departed hurriedly to the kitchen, only to meet an instantly annoying, curious mob.
Amongst the loud and unorganised voices, Potter’s was the loudest as he asked, almost accusingly “Where’s Sirius?”
"How would I know?" I hissed, sliding into my seat with perfected indifference.
"Severus?" came the soft yet distinct voice of Albus, his tone simultaneously inquisitive and chiding.
"He'll be here shortly," I replied curtly. Despite my answering his question, Potter continued to scrutinise me over the edge of his glasses. "Well, then we should send the children to bed. After all, it's quite late already!" ,the Headmaster said and promptly the group started to move, albeit grumbling.
"But Sir, Hermione hasn't come back yet and we're worried,” Potter cried yet again pompously. “We have to-" The boy was really too full of himself.
"Calm down, Potter, I've seen your oh so great Miss Granger. When I left the kitchen she walked up the stairs," I informed the group, emphasizing indifference. Hopefully, Black moved quickly.
Now, the billowing crowd was far too excited to notice when Black scurried back to his seat a moment later. At first, we discussed what kind of escort to the Hogwarts Express would be needed for Potter. After all, meeting had been planned for this purpose initially. Granger had instinctively chosen the right day to nearly get slaughtered as I had been able to be on the scene on short notice this way. Black couldn't really have helped her. None of the people currently living at Grimmauld Place would've been able to heal her. Only I could do so. But after so much bad luck in one day she deserved a spot of good fortune, I thought cynically.
The evening continued to be interesting when Albus told us of his visit to the Ministry. At eight o'clock, he told us, two young men had appeared with an unregistered portkey, the Dark Mark present on their arms. One of them apparently suffered from amnesia, not remembering anything about his life and thinking himself a muggle. The other was not fit to tell his tale, seeing as his throat was torn out. Further inspection of the corpse revealed even more injuries. All this had plunged the Ministry into disarray, with Fudge at the forefront of it all.
Albus also provided the names of the two Death Eaters: Bole and Derrick.
The members of the Order were at a loss, as they had no idea what to make of this. Black and I, on the other hand, were pondering over Miss Granger’s words and whether she had omitted a detail or two. Since when was she able to create port keys? But then she had also managed to teach herself to conjure a corporeal Patronus, a feat that was considered difficult by many adult wizards. The throbbing in my head began to increase in size. How smart was this woman really? The fact that, in her youth, she apparently managed to perform every difficult spell with ease and invented incredibly complex curses was just ridiculous to me.
I smiled at the thought that I would snatch her tomorrow at Hogwarts.
End of Snape’s POV