I Don't Remember

Secret Keeping


Eating in the Great Hall had become rather simple in the past few weeks. Dennis always sat next to me, but he usually just chattered about this and that, more like a chipmunk than a boy, only really requesting that I respond to his questions and comments politely. It wasn't anything he actually asked, it just seemed to make him happy that I gave him smiles and attention in between bites. Today was no different, and he was being so cute and silly I smiled every time I spoke to him.

"I'm glad you started letting me call you Hermione, Hermione."

"I didn't ever say you couldn't Dennis, and you started on your own."

"Well its still really cool and fun like you and I like your name do you like my name?"

"Your name is a good name, Dennis. It suits you fine."

"Some of the guys in the common room were talking about you and how you're pretty and wanting to ask you out but I said they were jerks and there's no way you'd go out with anyone who was just liking you for looks and also cause they never talk to you and I do was that right Hermione?"

"Breath Dennis." He took a long deep breath and let it out slowly, then grinned at me. "Yes, that was a good thing. But you don't have to stick up for me, I can turn people down for myself."

"Right I knew that but I like you and was trying to help cause your nice and you're normal like Harry was and you're his friend so of course you'd be."

I sighed, smiling. He hadn't slowed down his talking at all. "Thank you, Dennis. Now, I have to get going; Potions today, and I want to try and get an extra two feet done on my report about the historic uses of Felix Felicis that led to it being illegal in contests."

"Okay see you Hermione!" Dennis waved, then almost literally attacked his food with a fork. I shook my head, smiling, then started off.

Letting my mind wander, I considered my workload. Potions would be a breeze; an easy day of writing with almost no need to monitor (I was sure now my Felix was perfect; already little jumping splashes like fish were breaking the surface), but Herbology in this heat would be awful. Even so, Sprout was one of my favorite teachers, and the contents of the greenhouses could be just as interesting as the numbers in Arithmancy, or the potions in the dungeons. I had a good feeling about the day.

I made quick work of cleaning from breakfast and grabbing my books, heading into Potions to find the room empty. I walked around slowly. Everything was ready for class; the cauldrons were out, and the spare rolls of parchment were sitting on Snape's desk. However, there was no hint that Snape was anywhere in the room. I checked the time splayer in the hall. Ten minutes until first bell. Alright, so I wasn't crazy; where was the Potions Master?

Going around the room, I passed close to Snape's office, and heard voices. That meant the wards were down, and he was inside. All right then, everything's fine. I was more than ready to go to my seat and start work when I heard Molly Weasley mention Harry's name.

"...asked Harry for advice about it."

My curiosity peaked, and I leaned into the door. Advice about what?

"I didn't so much ask him as he insisted, Molly. Harry cares about Hermione, and wanted to make sure I did this right."

"I'll talk to him next then. I thought you trusted yourself more."

"I trust myself fine; I'm just a bit out of practise in this area."

A few moments of silence. I held my breath, lest it give me away.

"Still on about your plan, then?"

"Yes, yes. Not that there is much arranging that needs to be made. It should happen easily, at the end of the school year."

"What if she isn't... happy about it?"

"I'll deal with that when the time comes."

Footsteps. If Mrs. Weasley was in there, she'd stop me for conversation, and by the time she'd head off the bell would ring and I'd have no chance to try and figure out what was going on. Thinking quickly, I used my vanish spell, and prayed I'd be good enough. The door opened, and I stopped all movements. Mrs. Weasley and Snape walked out, Snape looked pale and Mrs. Weasley looked slightly red.

"Don't forget what I told you about her Snape. You'd better not inadvertently hurt her with this."

"I promise I won't. That's the last thing I want."

She started out the door, then turned to look at him one last time. "Well, at least your becoming more polite."

I couldn't see his face, but I almost heard him sarcastically smile. "Thank you. Now, go to the Great Hall and enjoy your morning off, before I forget how to be such a gentleman to my newest colleague."

She hurried out the door, and he turned back to the room. He breathed deeply, and looked calmer. I thought a moment. Confident I had an idea that would work, I let down my spell.

"Good morning, Professor."

He turned to my voice. Emotions flashed through his eyes too quick for me to read, then he nodded to be. "Good morning, Miss Granger. Didn't see you come in."

I almost flung my books down. "Was that Professor Weasley I saw leaving?"

"Yes." he said, his tone easy. "She wanted to clear some things up with me."

"Anything involving me?" I asked, my tone just as cool.

He waited a moment. I waited too. Finally he let his breath out and turned toward me. He looked annoyed, and guarded. "What did you hear?"

"That you're planning something, and Harry gave you advice on it. If it involves me, I deserve to know."

"Very well..." He turned back to the desk. "If you must know..."

I felt my heartbeat quicken in anticipation.

"I am planning..."

My hands clenched, and I stood up straighter in defiance of my anxiety.

He swerved to look at me. "A surprise party for you."

My shoulders dropped, and my eyebrows rose. "A surprise party? Really?"

"Yes." He looked vaguely embarrassed. "It was kind of a collaboration of that conversation I had with Professor Weasley and Harry a few weeks back."

I folded my arms. "Then why was Professor Weasley so upset about Harry helping you with it?"

He answered comfortably. "She was worried that, since I had said I could do it on my own and take a load off Harry and herself, and then Harry had stepped into help me, that it meant I didn't know what I was doing, and it would be awful. You do mean a lot to her, after all."

That did make sense. I unfolded my arms, suddenly feeling a bit guilty. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to spoil anything."

He waved it off. "Don't let it bother you. Just pretend to be surprised when it's the end of the year, and you get a party."

I raised my head. "You're really going to throw a party for me?" I said, trying not to sound too hopeful.

"Of course. I'm trying to make sure your friends are there. And your parents, too."

I suddenly laughed, feeling happier than I had let myself feel in a while. "Thank you!"

Forgetting everything, I jumped forward and hugged him. My head hit his chest, and I was pretty sure (though embarrassed beyond belief when I remembered it later) that I made a happy sigh of "mmmm!" when I squeezed my arms around his torso. It was like hugging a tree, he was so rigid. After the first second and I didn't let go, I felt him relax the slightest bit, then fully, though he didn't put his arms around me to return it.

"Your welcome." He said, sounding sincere and shaky. I let go and saw him looking pale and red at the same time.

"Are you alright?" He leaned over and grabbed the desk, looking very unsteady.

"Yes." He almost said it without sounding like he as gasping. "Fine." I started forward, concerned, but he held up his free hand. The paleness was fading, but the red in his cheeks was more resilient. "I haven't had a hug like that in... Actually I don't think I've ever had a hug like that."

In spite of myself, I laughed. "Sorry. I just... Thank you. I think I believe you, about trust, and... That your intentions are honest. Even if you weren't honest with me about what you smell when you smell Amortentia."

He flashed his eyes toward me. "How did you know about that?" he asked, his voice holding almost no trace of the previous unsteady speech.

"I saw you take an antidote after everyone was working on their papers." I answered. His face paled. I clarified. "Don't worry, Professor. I still trust you, and know you to be my friend. I don't blame you for lying to me, it is a very personal question."

He looked at a loss. "The thing about that is... What I mean to say..."

He was stopped from not saying anything more by the entrance of a house elf. I recognized Winky.

"Forgive me, Professor and Miss, but the Headmistress requests that Miss Hermione Granger would come to her office immediately, and that Professor Snape would excuse her absence from class this day."

I felt shocked "But... I have a paper to finish!" I protested.

"She also requests that Miss Granger forget about whatever work she was going to accomplish and come with Winky to her office."

I sighed. McGonagall knew me too well. "All right, Winky."

"I expect you'll be handing in your paper later, Miss Granger." Snape said, his voice betraying nothing of the previous calamity.

"I shall Professor." I replied, nodding to him, and taking the hint to put the conversation to rest. I walked over to Winky. "Let's go."

A snap, and I blinked my eyes to the sudden light. McGonagall's, no, the Headmistress's office was very bright in the morning.

"Good day, Miss Granger."

McGonagall's voice was coming from behind me. I turned to see her seated at her desk, two cups of tea already on the table. I tried not to respond negatively; she looked much older.

She smiled kindly. "Please, come sit." After I had, she studied my face. "No need to hide your amazement, girl. I know what I look like."

"What's happened, Professor?" I asked, ignoring the cup in front of me.

She looked past me, out the window. "Too many stresses in my years, I expect. I had hoped I could keep up with everything asked of me. I have been doing quite well, for quite a long time, but I think my age is starting to catch up with me."

My eyes went to a cane that was sitting near her desk. My mouth hung open slightly, as I fought to understand. "I was... I had no idea."

"I've been trying to keep it that way. From everyone. I only told Severus, and the reason I told Severus is now the reason I'm telling you.

"I was hoping that he could take over for me, so I could retire a bit early."

"What does that have to do with me?" I asked.

She smiled gently. "Drink your tea, Miss Granger. It's not polite to not take what's been offered." I quickly raised the cup to my lips, before remembering to add sugar. When I was settled, she answered. "I was hoping that you could tell him for me."

I nearly spit it out. "What? Why me?"

"He trusts you, Miss Granger."

"He trusts you too! And you're the Headmistress!"

"Time are changing, Miss Granger. Both here, and in the Wizarding world, perhaps even in the Muggle world, a time is coming that has not come in a long time. A time of true peace. This is something that few people can recall, and even less appreciate. I strongly feel that something that will help ease the passings, both good and bad, will be a change of our own. The news will come from you. It must come from you. And not as a student, but as a friend. I want to send you and Severus out to Hogsmeade, for a relaxing day, as friends. It won't interrupt your studies, so don't object. I will send you a owl when it's time."

I wasn't sure what to say. "Well, that's fine Professor... I'll do as you ask, as always. But, why excuse me from class for today if that's all you wanted to say?"

She looked at me sharply. "Don't sound so grateful. I wanted you to have a bit of time to yourself." Her eyes softened a degree. "You remind me of myself sometimes, Granger. I wouldn't want you becoming as tired as I am."

I smiled softly. "Thank you, Professor."

She reached out and took my hand for a moment, giving it a light squeeze. "Get back to your rooms. Use the Floo, so you aren't stopped." She rose to lead me there, then grabbed my shoulder just before I left.

"This isn't just for him, you know. You need to let yourself go a little more. I know you don't like hearing it, but you do spend more time with your head on your work than you do relaxing. Try to let go a little, even if it is with our Potions Master. If what people are telling me is right, and you think you can relax around him, then I strongly recommend you do so."

I nodded. "I'll try, Professor." I stepped into the green flames, keeping McGonagall's words on my mind.

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