I Don't Remember



If I had thought that a meeting with Severus Snape would never be awkward again, I was wrong. The first meeting back, Monday afternoon when classes were over and I walked into the Potion Master's office, was exactly that. It went well enough, finding out that McGonagall would be acting Headmaster, seated at the Head of Table, and still taking up residence in her rooms. She would go to Snape, however, reaching out to him with his Legimency if there was any problem or need for something.

I nodded to each new piece of information, storing it in the mental compartment that I kept most things. He looked different than I'd seen him before; if I hadn't known better, I would swear he was ashamed of himself. Maybe I didn't know better, maybe he was. It was especially likely if Ginny's words had affected him the way she assumed.

"Do you have any questions for me, Miss Granger?" he asked at the end of his announcements. I thought for a moment.

"Yes, Professor."

"What is that, Miss Granger?"

I shifted slightly in my seat, looking at my hands in my lap. "Could it be possible for us to go back to how we were?"

I saw him lean back out of the corner of my eyes. "How were we?"

I blinked a few times, then bit my lip, a rare show of confusion. "I thought we were friends..."

His voice was soft. "I suppose we were... friends."

I felt lost. "Ginny told me what she said to you. And then McGonagall came by and said you were upset, and said you'd probably want to wait until after I was no longer a student... Perhaps this is unheard of, but, you are important to me as more than a teacher. I'm sorry if this bothers you, but I feel it needs to be said. I don't have much here, personally, anymore..." I stopped, unsure of how to continue.

He spoke slowly "If... I had the time... Would you like to meet me in my offices in the dungeons after my classes end? I understand you're very good at studying on your own, but if you wouldn't mind a different mind working with you, I could oblige. And, perhaps some light conversation wouldn't be a problem."

I looked at him. His sat with the same stance I'd seen during my time at Hogwarts, but the eyes were new. More... human... than I'd seen previously. I nodded.

"I would enjoy that."

A few things changed over the next few days. Jessica Noble came and apologized to me, saying that after she'd heard about what Mark did she'd had a change of heart. Maybe her sister had been hotheaded and judgmental. She proceeded to make an honest try in talking to me like a normal person, and even got a few other people to as well. I felt like I was making a few friends, but found that I had been, sadly, right. The story of the year I had spent helping to chase Horcruxes and other 'interesting' things, were the preferred choice of conversation those around me seemed to have. I didn't mind answering questions they had, but I had hoped that the novelty would have worn off by now since the hero worship had died down. I also fielded questions about Professor Snape being my friend, with many of the girls in my year wondering if there was something more there. I insisted there wasn't, wondering how many times I would be asked the question (and also inwardly blaming Ginny for cosmically starting it).

I also spent more time with the Potions Master and secret Headmaster of Hogwarts. He, in turn, seemed to open up a bit, at one point on the third night of our study meeting even joking that it was almost like he was a double agent again having to teach Potions by day and run the school by night. We talked about many things, usually going back and forth over what to expect with N.E.W.T.s and the finer points of Defense Against the Dark Arts (which he was very familiar with), but occasionally talking about our favorite pass times or nothing at all.

Something I couldn't seem to talk about with anyone was my growing feeling that Severus was able to understand me on a scale that no one else could. He noticed when I was feeling down (the day I received a letter from Ron stating he was dating again) or when I was feeling happy (the day I had finally successfully beaten a boggart), and I felt like I could understand the same things about him. It wasn't that I felt awkward about it, it was that between studying for exams, trying to have a small social life, and meeting Snape for private lessons, I didn't know how to bring it up.

Then one day, Tuesday, heading back to my rooms after Transfiguration with free time the rest of the day (the snap dragons in Greenhouse Three were sick and sneezing fire everywhere, so we had the afternoon off) I saw a note on Snape's office door through the crack in his classroom. Thinking this was very odd (his classrooms were usually warded), I stepped inside and took a look. The note said:

To Hermione Granger,

If you are reading this, then you are obviously you, as this is written so only you will be able to see it.

I am down at the lake, gathering various plants and creatures for my store cupboards.

If you wish to meet with me tonight, come down on the far side near the forbidden forest.

-Severus Snape

Ah, alright, I thought to myself. Nodding at the door, I dropped off my books in my room, and slipped off my robes. Classes were over, so I changed into a stone grey shirt and my navy blue pants, then set off down the halls.

Arriving outside, I took a long breath of fresh air that smelled like grass, then set off down the lake. The sun gleamed off of it, casting shadows on ripples left by the giant squid. It waved a lazy tentacle to nothing in particular. I waved back.

Ahead the trees loomed. I looked for any sign of Snape, or really anyone. Then I noticed him standing on the shallows of the water, his cloak discarded on a low branch of a tree, sleeves and pant legs rolled up, wand out. I waved, but he didn't seem to notice; his eyes were to the surface of the water, seemingly still. As i approached, he quickly slashed his wand, and a small creature flew into the air and landed in the flask Snape had produced from seemingly nowhere in his free hand.

"What was that?" I said, sounding shriller than I meant to. He looked up, surprised.

"It's a baby grindylow." he answered, his voice sounding obvious without sarcasm.

"I didn't know they made babies." I marveled, coming closer.

"Well, in truth, they don't... Not the way most creatures do. But, the word 'baby' describes this organism as much as any other term for young being would."

I nodded, and he went back to work as I watched. His vest was partly undone, and his hair was in shambles, but the look of concentration on his face was one I'd only seen on a professional's countenance. I waited. A few moments passed, then he slashed again, and caught another one of the strange watery demons.

I whistled. "You make it look so easy."

"It's really not." He said, flicking his eyes to me.

"Why don't you just go into the water, then? You have gillyweed."

"I can't do that."

"Ah. Impossible to catch there?"

"No." he wanted a moment. "I can't swim."

I stared at him. "What?"

He repeated himself a little louder. "I can't swim."

"No, I mean... Why can't you swim?"

He slashed once more and then caught another grindelow in his now very full flask, then bottled it and turned to me, shielding the sun's light from his eyes as he did. "I wasn't around water much as a child. Also, being magic, I felt that any situation that I was in water I could easily get out of it."

"But... What if something happened, and you were unconscious in the water? Or without your wand?"

He answered each question frankly. "If I'm unconscious in water it doesn't matter what spells I know. Also I'm very apt at wandless magic."

"I still... I mean..."

He sighed, brushing wet hair behind his ears and walked into the shade of the trees. "Think about it this way," he began, drying himself with a wordless spell. "if I have never been in any such situation yet, given the dangerous life I have led, why should that change now?"

I admit, I have no answer to that. I opened my mouth, then closed it, shaking my head. He put his boots back on, and looked at me. "There are trade offs, you know."

I raised my eyes. "Like what?"

He walked over to the nearest tree with straight bark, then grabbed it, finding nooks I couldn't see. In a few seconds he had scaled it and swung himself onto the first wide branch. I looked up.

"How did you do that?" I called. "Magic?"

He jumped down, featherfalling at the base of the tree. "No. I learned quickly how to hide as a child. Sometimes, that meant going above prying eyes."

I looked out across the water. "Was it because of your father?"

He walked up beside me, looking at the same nothing I was. "Yes."

I stood silent. I felt him stiffen and start to walk away. I turned. "Wait, please."

His back was to me. "I don't like talking about that."

"I know... But I think you should."

"Why?" He turned back to me. "It's in the past."

"Lots of things are."

He looked blank, his eyes slowly going back to the water. "I prefer to think about the future... However..."

"You can't, because it's uncertain?"

He looked at me. "Exactly." Slowly, he smiled. "You really do have a magnificent brain."

"So do you." I retorted.

"That was never called into question."

"Don't be so sure. You don't know everything."

"No," he agreed. "but I don't have to."

I smiled, then looked off. "You were right though. I am getting a lot of attention for how easily I talk to you."

I saw him turn and put his cloak back on, and his whole attitude relax from being back in uniform. "What did you intend to do?"

I shook my head. "Nothing. I like this, even if it warrants comments. I think I would warrant comments no matter what."

"No, not necessarily. If you behaved as they expected, you wouldn't."

"How do they expect me to behave?"

He folded his arms, thinking. "I imagine they expect you to be a Great Hero, distant, stunning, boisterous. A true bravo."

"I'm none of those things."

"I know."

I looked at him suddenly. "Come with me, please?"

I turned and walked into the shadow of the forest. After a moment I heard ground crunching and I knew he was following. I kept quiet until we were deep enough in that the shades were thick but the sky could still be seen. Then I sat at the base of a tree.

He walked up in front of me, raising an eyebrow.

"Sit with me."

His expression didn't change. "I'm not out of uniform."

"You don't have to be out of uniform to sit with me."

"What makes you think I will?" he asked.

"You followed, didn't you?"

I knew I had him there. He sat. I leaned into the tree, looking up, feeling a slight wind and the sudden urge to share.

"My parents are Muggles, as you know. I was named Hermione because my parents wanted to be clever, two dentists naming their beloved daughter a unique name that few people would pronounce easily. I was given... well, the best. They wanted me to be smart. I had loads of books, loads of things to do to enhance my mind and wit. I took trips with them. They told me everything they could think of about the world, and I was going to go to one of the best schools. Then the letter came, along with an Official who informed my parents of what I was, and what I was going to be. My charming parents thought it was all a joke, probably still do, just another quirky thing about their bright daughter. Bright, silly, obnoxiously smart daughter... No wonder I was such a loner growing up. I had my clever parents, but didn't understand social graces. I never learned when to keep what I knew a secret, because nothing had been secret before. I spoke what I was thinking, without any need to hide. I had no idea it could bother people... Until Ron not-so-tactfully pointed it out to Harry and Seamus that I had no friends. He was right, I didn't. You remember the cave troll Harry and Ron fought? I found out later they only ran into it because they had been looking for me. I'd run and hid in the bathrooms because I thought no one liked me and that they shouldn't anyway. When they rescued me, I covered for them, because it was the nicest thing anyone could have done, coming to save me, knowing I was the only person in the castle who didn't know about the danger."

"Is that how you three became friends?" His voice asked from beside me.

"Yes. Underneath the hurt between Ron and me, we're all still friends."

He was quiet. It looked like he was trying to decide something, then he started speaking all at once.

"My father didn't like anything. Not his job, not me, not my mother, maybe not even himself. He worked at the mill, and would be gone all day and come home, eat what my mum had managed to make, and then yell about it. When I grew older, and started doing 'things', that was when I started needing to hide. At first, my mother,she protected me. She knew magic, but she knew she couldn't do it in front of him, or else be brought up in front of a court, and then what would happen to me? She would whisper these words between tears. I knew that she wished she could go back to her family, who had been just as cruel, but at least they would praise me for my talent, rather than beat me for it. It was during this time that I first met Lily, and Petunia her sister." I knew about Petunia, but didn't interrupt. "I had been watching her, Lily I mean, and knew she could do magic. I loved her, as only a little boy who had never seen beauty before could. When my mother took me to the train, she was there too. We were friends... until I made friends with the wrong sort in my chosen House. Then one day, in the misdt of torment, I called Lily, my best friend, a Mudblood. She never forgave me... I never really forgave myself. After everything was said and done, and I had turned double agent, I returned home. My father had long left, my mother was long gone. The house was empty, and I felt empty with it. I continued to... Until recently."

"What changed?" I asked.

"I did. And, I think it's at least partly thanks to you."

"What did I do?"

"Everything." He rose to his feet, offering me his hand with a slight smile. "Come on. We need to be getting back before dinner." Referring to his outstretched hand, he added. "I remembered this time."

I took it, offering his help. Together, we set off toward the castle.

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