I Don't Remember

Unfair

Minerva

Slowly I ran my hands over the cane I used. It was a fine walking stick, made in India's underground courts, where people practiced earth magic and snake bites did no harm. It had been sent to me by a friend I'd had there in my younger days, who'd told me the cane would bless me that as I used it I would feel no pain. It was beautiful, with marking of animals and symbols I knew wielded power on their own, yet appeared black and nondescript to the gazing eye. It felt almost like a part of me.

I sighed and put it down, literally gulping a potion Professor Snape had made in almost the same instant. Within moments, my legs felt strong. True, the effects would not last and couldn't be achieved if relied upon often, but it was worth it. I would not allow Lucius Malfoy to think I was at a disadvantage.

My timing was near perfect. I was setting down the cups for tea when a knock at my door came. "Enter." I watched as it swung open, the silver tip of his cane pushing for him. I scowled at the blatant attempt at style.

"Lucius Malfoy. Still stuck in the Dark Ages I see?"

"Minerva." He inclined his head, a slick smile on his face. "Radiant as ever."

I fought to turn my mouth into a smile. "Please, have a seat." I said, gesturing toward the desk where the kettle sat waiting.

"Thank you." He walked elegantly across the room and sat down. I moved a little stiffer than I would have liked and took my seat.

He looked bored as I poured him the tea and offered him cream and sugar, which he took in abundance. Silence grew between us, mine cold, his amused, as we each made our cups. Finally he sipped his beverage, sighed, and looked at me with intent.

"First, thank you again, for the warm welcome. I had expected the same from our Potions Master, but he appeared to be out." I was going to retort, but I thought against it. Let Snape mount his own defense and let me in on the story later so I could back up his tale, rather than the other way around. "Down to business. I hear tell you will be retiring next year?"

I put down my cup, perhaps a bit too harshly. "That is correct. I plan on giving the position to Severus Snape when I do."

"Then I am up to date on the situation." Of course you are, you prat, I thought. You read the announcement, same as anyone else. "I would like to apply for the position of Potions Master."

I faked surprise. "Why, Lucius! Actually applying for the lowly job of teaching students! Why the sudden change?"

He lowered his head, the picture of martyrdom."I care about the poor children getting an education after our dear friend Severus leaves, of course."

"Of course." I agreed, nodding concernedly.

"I want to help people, out of the goodness of my heart. And what better way to than make sure this school has the best of the best, after Severus becomes too busy to teach himself? And I know how very few people there are who could apply for the position..."

You fiend, I thought at him ferociously. You mean you're doing this to up your own image, that of a caring teacher. And you're going to try and bully past everyone else and jump on the opportunity like a shark. "We did have other applicants who were willing to accept the job, Lucius. You just seem to have arrived weeks before anyone else was planning to."

"Well, that should answer the question for you, shouldn't it?" He mused, sipping his tea slowly. "It shows I'm very serious about my inquiry, and more than ready to take on such a responsibility. I should think the evidence is mounting so much in my favor that you should decide immediately."

My temper, already strained from having to talk to him civilly, was close to bursting free. "Surely you do not mean to press me into action before I am ready, Lucius?"

"Oh no, not at all!" He said,a falsely soothing tone in his voice. "I am no Dolores Umbridge... Whom, I am told, is being tried for her crimes soon." He shuddered. "I can't believe someone can have so much hate for half-bloods."

"Really?" I snipped. "You can't?"

"Oh, my dear Minerva, my case is different!" he assured. "I may have a certain respect for Pure Bloods that got a tad out of hand," he said, as though being a Death Eater for a good amount of his life was nothing more heinous than joining an after-school function to promote his cause. "but I never tried to get half-bloods off the map. In fact, one of my close friends was a werewolf."

Oh yes, Fenrir Greyback was quite the model citizen. That's why he was trying to rip out the throats of children. I wanted to say this, to throw his words back at him and let him know that, war's over or no, I wanted to rip all of that pretty hair out of his head and stamp on him. I couldn't though. I had to be better than that. I had to show this... thing, that if he wanted to turn over a new leaf, he had to be serious about it.

"Very well Lucius. If you want the job, then you are hired immediately. I will have Severus part with some of his exams with you, though undoubtedly none will be 5th or 7th year students as he will want to give them their O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s himself. Please report to the Staff Room during Lunch today, and we will have a proper introduction for you."

"Ah. Good." He said, rising to his feet. "I'll just be in Hogsmeade for a time then. I'll see you this afternoon."

"Oh and Lucius..." he turned and found me resting my hands in treated fingers. "I am entirely serious when I say that you do not have a spotless history. Your promises today were grandiose, as was the insistence that your life as a Death Eater was little more than a large misunderstanding. If I see any hint that you are attempting any similar to your old ways you will be thrown out of this castle. This is a trial run only. Do I make myself clear?"

"Quite clear." He smirked, but there was a flash of anger in his eyes. Nodding to me once more he finally left, closing the door behind him. I glared at the place he'd been for a moment, then summoned a house elf.

"Yes Headmistress?" the friendly creature asked me, unabashed by the look on my face.

"Bring me an owl for each teacher, small and discreet, so I can send each a letter wherever they are."

The little creature bowed. "Anything else Miss?"

"Yes." I replied. "Please sanitize the door knobs, the teacups, and my guest chair."

Hermione

I sat in Potions, writing my essay. I was distracted. Part of it was knowing that, somewhere in the castle, Lucius Malfoy could be walking the halls. Part of it was the odd thoughts I'd had when Severus held me tight as we were vanished. The last, and biggest part, was every five seconds Jennifer Noble kept bugging me.

"Hey Hermione?"

"Yes, Jen?"

"How far are you now?"

"Roughly one line from the last time you asked me."

"Oh. Right." A few moments of silence. "So, you forgive me for what happened a few months ago, right?"

"I've already told you I did." I replied, keeping my tongue in my teeth and trying to write despite her questions. "Please stop asking me. You're going to get us both detention from Professor Snape."

"Right, sorry." A few more moments of silence. "Can you hurry? I want to talk to you about something."

I sighed loudly, then tried to pretend it was a yawn as Snape's eyes went directly to me, looking annoyed. Putting my head back down, I spoke out of the corner of my mouth. "Jen, please just ask me as opposed to talking to me about talking to me."

"Oh, right." She laughed softly. "I heard Lucius Malfoy is in the castle."

I blanched. "Where did you hear that?"

"From my sister who heard it from her boyfriend who heard it from his roommate that the Slytherin Prefect saw him walking down the hall coming from the Headmistress's Office." She grinned. "Isn't it exciting?"

"What's so exciting about it?" I groaned.

"Well, he went all rogue at the end of the war and besides that, he's rich. And gorgeous!"

I gagged.

"You don't think so?" she asked.

"No." I said sternly. Remembering something, I reached into my book bag.

"What is it?" she whispered.

"I'm looking something up. I just remembered something." She tried to ask me further, but I ignored her. Deep under my spare parchment and Herbology work lay what I was looking for, my Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook. I'd been carrying it with me for a while, trying to brush up on my worst subject, and needed to refresh something. Being discreet, I looked up the section on Occulmency until I found what I'd been looking for. The paragraph read:

For those who practice years and have a stern discipline, a Perfect Occulmency may be achieved. That is not to say that it is impossible to penetrate that person's mind; a well-placed Shield Charm on a Legimency spell may be able to break for a brief moment if the charm is strong or the Occulmency user is momentarily weak. Aside from this, however, the subject themselves may be 'allowed' in, in which case thoughts may be exchanged. This is particularly used on the defense of large fortresses or events, most notably used during the Great Witch Hunt of 1738, when a large number of rowdy underage witches escaped into the forests outside Warwick.

I digested this information silently. I had done nothing to instigate such an exchange, which meant that he had to have opened the channel himself. Did that mean I could now talk to him at will? My eyes wandered to where he sat at his desk, grading papers. The low light of the dungeon room cast a shadow about his face, but shined on his hair and seemed to illuminate his hands. I focused, and tried to think at him.

Professor Snape?

I could see his mouth, a small red line on a pale canvas. It didn't move. Get back to work Miss Granger. his voice said in my mind.

I sat up straighter. You opened up your mind to me for a channel between us.

Yes, he replied, I did. Accidentally, I believe, but I've kept it open.

Why? I asked.

His response was simple. I trust you.

But you've trusted other people! I insisted.

Really? His voice came back sarcastic as he moved to get more ink on his quill. I had no idea you knew me better than I knew myself.

But surely... Dumbledore-

Dumbledore trusted me in the same way he trusted Harry, a slightly more annoyed Snape interrupted in my mind, at a distance. Giving information only as it seemed fit. As much as I cared for the man, loved him as my friend... I couldn't fully put my trust into Dumbledore. Nor would he have wanted me to, I imagine, as he needed me not to know his thoughts... It could have made the final battle go very differently...

I nodded at this truth. Snape had been key in the plan because he'd been able to follow orders at a distance; trust would have gotten in the way. I continued on my thought process. So if our minds are open, does this mean you can go through my thoughts?

I could, he admitted, but I won't. I technically could have ages ago. I'm quite skilled at Legimency, too, Miss Granger. I just chose not to comb through your mind without your permission, something I stand by even now.

What if I gave you permission? I asked

He looked at me. Would you really want that? His eyes burned into mine, and I felt myself looking away, blushing, and hoping no one else had noticed.

No... I suppose not. He went back to his papers. I waited until the effects of looking a severe Snape dead in the eyes wore off, then ventured again. Professor?

You still need to get back to work, Miss Granger. Or were you just working on your customary extra foot-and-a-half?

I was just wondering... Is Malfoy still in the castle?

I saw him hesitate slightly in his writing. No, but he will be. He hesitated again, then kept on writing in his usual pace. He's been hired on to help me give the finals for Potions. There will be a meeting after this class where he is officially welcomed on staff.

My jaw dropped. What?

It's a good idea, he insisted as he kept on writing. I won't be letting him have any of the seventh and fifth years, but if he's apt at controlling some of the beginners, it will give me more time to help out Professor Flitwick.

You... you can't be all right with this...

He was silent. I slapped my forehead as I realized I had just questioned his true feelings. I braced myself, expecting him to berate my presumption. As the seconds passed, however, I let go of my breath and, eventually, became curious. Finally, he looked at me for a second, then back down at the parchment.

I will talk to you about this later, after classes are over. And Miss Granger? Don't say I never give you priorities over other students.

I stuck my tongue out, something I was sure he didn't see. Yes, Professor.

I'd managed to get in another two feet before the bell rang, which I handed in to a very serious looking Professor, and then walked off with a chattering Jennifer as though nothing else was going on.

Severus

I watched Hermione go. After everyone had left and I had put away the various scrolls that had been handed in, I waved my wand once in a large circle. Instantly, chairs were tucked in, floors were swept, and the lights were dimmed. I walked quickly to the door, warded it, and briskly moved down the halls.

My robes billowed more than usual, sending students scurrying. I paused at the top of the stairs, catching a glimpse of long curly brown hair going around the corner, then turned to head towards the staff room.

I walked up to the door, preparing to lower the wards, when I noticed they were already down. Steeling myself, I walked in. I was not surprised; Lucius was already seated, his cane and wizard hat on the table in front of him. When I entered, he looked up. I saw a brief flash of amazement cross his face, before it changed into a mask of cordial greeting. If I wasn't a pro at picking up such things, I probably wouldn't have noticed. As it was...

"Severus! So... good to see you again. Alive." Lucius said as warmly as I expected, standing to greet me.

"Lucius. Enjoying being back at Hogwarts?"

He nodded, looking about the simple room. "It's very refreshing to be in this room again. The last time was when I was called here as Prefect, your Prefect actually, to discuss my life after school. Its been many years since that day..." he paced slowly towards me. "One wouldn't know it, looking at you."

I narrowed my eyes.

"No need to look so fierce, old friend. The whole world knows your story. A just reward, giving you time back, for the years you sacrificed to Dumbledore's cause." His jovial smile turned dark. "Of course... I know the parts they don't know..."

I caught on to what he was inferring, and I stepped forward, keeping my voice low. "You know as well as I do, one does what one has to do to avoid death. That was my excuse for my mistakes, and a poor one. What was yours, Lucius? Your quest for power get the upper hand?"

He swallowed, keeping his voice low, though his eyes still burned. "My goal was for my family. Always, my family."

"Always..." I hissed. "'My public face is my true mask'... And all you had to do was give up some gold."

"You weren't there!" He spat at me. "You have no idea what it's like to lose your standing, to feel like you have to bend to his every will or everything will be lost!"

"Don't tell me I don't know what something's like!" I nearly bellowed, seeing fear for the first time in Lucius's eyes. "You and your petty manor are the only things that were ever in danger. You never had to worry about losing the one you love, or everyone dying if you dropped your guard at any moment in the slightest!"

He backed off, and dropped down into a chair. I felt my chest heaving, my hair in tangles about my face, but I didn't care. I wouldn't have cared if Dumbledore himself had risen from the dead and walked into the room to try and get me to stop. When I spoke, it was low and deadly. "You were my friend, back in those days. If you want to continue being, I suggest you leave what happened where it lies."

The next few minutes were spent in silence until the rest of the staff walked in. I managed to compose myself enough for the meeting, agreeing with what needed to be agreed with and voicing concerns where necessary. I said my part for Lucius being my assistant, and when the meeting was finally over I left.

My last class of the day could not have gone slower. I was irritable, nervous, and in the mood to try alcohol. My class noticed my mood, and did nothing to annoy me. However, nothing seemed to be just right to set me off. It was a very relieved group of students that left when the bell rang, allowing me to sink into my chair, head in hands.

Unable to hide my thoughts from myself any longer, I mentally faced what had happened in the staff room: I had lost my temper. Royally. Worse, in one feel stroke I'd been horribly reminded of the things I'd done as a Death Eater.

It flooded over me again like it had so many times before. Torture. Pain. Watching as families were torn apart... Laughing with the others as fellow humans were treated like cattle for the slaughter. And then that horrible night, playing spy... and watching the Dark Lord's face light up with pleasure as he contemplated the murder of the Potter family... Seeing my oldest, only true friend lying dead in the rubble that had been her son's room...

The door opened, and I looked up expecting Hermione. I recoiled as I realized I was wrong, watching Lucius walk in. I paid closer attention as I noticed his step and stance... He looked remorseful.

"Severus... Forgive me." His voice was quiet, but so was the room. It echoed off the walls, and I heard him clearly. "I... You, of all people, didn't deserve that. You were there with me... I..." He stepped into the room, looking awkward. "I over reacted... We have each made our mistakes. Perhaps, if you are redeemable..."

I stopped him there. "Lucius, don't. This is highly uncharacteristic of you. Besides... I had a fair amount of help."

"Please, tell me how, and... I will try. There is no place in this new world for someone like me. I just can't seem to get over my hatred for-"

"Professor? I-" Hermione walked into the room, then stopped, staring white-faced at Lucius Malfoy. He turned, and while his face was blank, I noticed the knuckles holding his cane were as white as her face. She turned to run. I stood.

"Miss Granger, wait." I called. She did, turning slowly to look at each of us. Lucius looked disgusted. I addressed him first.

"I am not asking you to accept it. Remember, you are Pure Blood. I am not. I keep what company I choose."

He didn't answer for a long time. He kept his eyes on me, refusing to look at Hermione, who was growing noticeably uncomfortable as the silence deepened. Finally, he said, "You choose their company now?"

She looked at me questioningly, with a sheen of pain in her eyes. I met them evenly, talking to Lucius but using my words for her. "People change." I watched as slowly her eyes cleared and she smiled at me. I felt myself smile back in spite of myself.

"I... see." Lucius said from the door. He looked at me. I could tell he guessed something, but I no longer cared. Lucius would not go to anyone with any knowledge, because he knew I know his secrets. He knew mine. We were even. "I will think this over and get back to you Monday."

I nodded. He turned, standing next to Hermione for a time before disappearing down the hall. She walked in.

"Hello, Miss Granger." I said.

She took a deep breath. "That was... terrifying."

"Indeed it was." I sat, finally. She did the same in the chair prepared for her. "I suppose I brought that on."

"How?" she asked.

I bent down, rummaging in my desk for a headache remedy. "I lost my temper."

She leaned over the side of the desk, watching me. "I want to ask when you ever had a handle on it."

"Very funny." I uncorked the bottle, tipping it down my throat. Instantly I was relieved, and ready to talk. "He brought up things about the past I'd rather forget. I expressed this want rather insistently, which lead to a certain Mister Malfoy cowering in the corner."

Her eyes went wide. "Really?"

"Well not exactly." I admitted. "I did yell at him quite a bit but he didn't go to the corner. He just... sat back down in his chair and cowered."

She rubbed her forehead, but didn't chastise me. Finally, she looked at me. "Professor, may I use your first name right now?"

I waved her to go ahead.

"Severus, I understand that your past haunts you... But everyone these days hasn't thought about your Death Eater past so much as they have your... unique teaching skills."

I looked away. "I think about my past."

"I know you do." She moved to be in front of my gaze. "Don't."

I opened my mouth to argue. She stopped me. "No, please... Don't. It's done. Like you said... People change."

I frowned, but there was nothing I could say.

"You know what? I think you need to relax." She stood up and walked behind me.

"What in Merlin's name are you doing Miss Granger?"

"I'm going to rub your shoulders."

My heart beat skyrocketed. "How is that going to relax me?"

"Have you ever had a massage before?" she asked.

Reluctantly, I answered. "No." I managed to add, "But that doesn't mean I need one now."

I heard her shake her head, and felt hands on my shoulders. "What are friend's for?"

Slowly, I melted, thinking how unfair this was. "Torture, apparently."

"Torture?" she scoffed. "Think if this as... My trying to show you that I'm still going to be around after I graduate."

Graduate... My eyes, half closing, shot open as she started needing my shoulders. "Hermione, you can't do this. You're a student, I'm your teacher."

She stopped rubbing, but kept her hands on me. "I'm only a student for another week. Then I take my finals. Pretend it's next week, and relax."

"I can't pretend it's next week..." I breathed as she continued rubbing my shoulders.

"Why not?" she asked.

I shook my head, managing to not answer her with words or body language, as slowly my head lolled. After a few minutes, she spoke again. "Better?" she asked.

"Merlin this is... Yes, I'm better..." I rasped, collapsing onto the top of the desk.

She looked at me. "You did enjoy the favor though?"

I managed a nod. "Yes. I feel... very relaxed." I lied. I hated lying, but I had to. Honestly, I felt very riled up, in a way that would get me fired if I let it slip. "Thank you."

"At some point, after I've graduated, you will have to repay me the favor." She said brightly.

"Ah... yes." I replied, thanking every lesson I'd ever had on Occulmency that she couldn't read my mind.

"Well, I have to be getting to my rooms. There's still a few more books left to review before I'm ready for Finals on Monday. And, perhaps a few defensive spells in case Malfoy gets on the wrong side of me."

I nodded. "Very well. Good day, Miss Granger."

She smiled. "Good day, Professor." She walked out the door. I watched her go, sitting as still as I could, and making a note that the next potion I make be a remedy for whatever this was that was ailing me.



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