Understanding your Allegiance

Friends and Frustration

Ron was particularly happy the next day at breakfast. It turned out that the previous days quidditch practice had been the best yet, in terms of Ron's performance anyway. He hadn't let in a single goal, and most of the Gryffindor table were talking about it. Ron leant over and whispered into Hermione's ear.

"I was so relaxed, I didn't feel tense a all so I performed at then top of my game. I reckon it was down to you Mione."

He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and went back to his scrambled eggs. Hermione wasn't so impressed, thinking mutinously that his performance with her had certainly not been 'top of his game' and he could forget tension easers in the near future.

But she smiled sweetly and took the compliments directed to her for her boyfriend with good grace. At morning break she even managed to have a girly giggle with Ginny concerning the reason Ron was so relaxed. Although in the back of her mind had been a distinctly Slytherin smirk that Ginny had guessed so quickly.

She's done more that she lets on, I wonder who she's been calming down before taking to the air.

"Yes," Hermione said, "Ron is a pretty good keeper, but McLaggen was a very close second in tryouts last week wasn't he?"

'Bull's-eye' she thought as Ginny blushed furiously whilst trying to pretend she wasn't. "Yes he has got better recently hasn't he." She squeaked. After that much to her amusement Ginny hadn't tackled her on the subject anymore.

Over the next few days Hermione noticed the teachers were treating her very differently. With the obvious exception of Professor Binns of course. None of them reacted to her raised hand in class, none of them smiled at her in the corridor any more and it had been at least a day since she had earned any house points. Something Malfoy had picked up on with glee. Clearly then McGonagall had told the rest of the staff about her project, and none of them approved.

Snape was also treating her differently, but in the opposite direction. He was more militant in his decision that she shouldn't help Ron, but other than that he was almost amiable. He had even said well done to her the lesson before, causing Ron to scowl at her suspiciously.

What Hermione couldn't work out was why. Snape had said the victors wrote history, and that was true enough. He'd said the victors were still winning, so her teachers, the order and the ministry were therefore the victors he was speaking of as they were still in power. But she couldn't equate the inhumane, cowardly executions with the people she had got to know over the last six years.

Governments and ideologies change, so the present establishment didn't need to endorse the behaviour of those several centuries before. They could freely admit the wrongdoing, teach, and learn from it. Instead she seemed to have broken a taboo, a secret guarded so zealously the adults she admired were refusing to look her in the eye to convince her not to pursue it.

This had the exact opposite reaction. Her instincts were to learn, to understand and to use knowledge to her benefit. The flat out cold war between her and her professors was fine with her, if it meant she would uncover the biggest mystery she'd ever come across. The location of the philosophers stone was nothing compared to this. The identity of the heir to Slytherin a trifle. Snape had her in the palm of his hand by withholding information from her, an idea that both frustrated, and inexplicably excited her.

Buoyed by the success of his goalie skills, Ron had forgotten to interrogate on her meeting with Snape, but a week afterwards he did the suspicious boyfriend thing after Snape had once again given her a titbit of praise for her potions essay.

"What did you do that night with Snape? He's being all nice." Ron grimaced as if the very idea was repulsive to him.

Hermione had a sudden image in her head of Snape pinning her against the doorway, holding her closely in the enclosed space so he could see into his classroom.

"We uh, discussed my project. I guess he's pleased with my questions and that's why he's being nicer than usual." The smell of him close up had been subtle but very alluring. A mixture of the lingering scents of past brewed potion and a hint of him after a full day bent over heated cauldrons.

"So it wasn't a friendly meeting of minds then?"

The way his face had seemed so animated when he told her the secrets, the thrill of understanding passing from him to her.

"Of course not, and that seems like a quote. Who said that what it was?"

"Malfoy, he was ribbing me about my girlfriend being with Snape on a Friday night and not me."

"Yeah well he would say something like that, just ignore him Ron."

Ron shrugged. "Well I've got you all to myself this Friday, and then it's the Hogsmeade weekend. Harry said he'd come and meet us, did I tell you?"

Hermione smiled. "No you didn't! Oh it'll be great to see him again and catch up."

"Yeah, It's been weird without him in my dorm."

Ron continued to blab on about what they'd do with Harry tomorrow but Hermione was only half listening, with a guilty, sinking heart. She'd hoped that Snape would send for her again that Friday to give her more information; but now it looked like she'd be spending it with Ron. Hopefully, she thought, it'll be my turn this week.

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