I Don't Remember

Not So Long Conversation

Severus

It was breakfast time, the next morning. After a long night of restless sleep, brought on mostly by having to work late doing the first round of testing on my potion experiment, I had dragged myself into the Great Hall in the early part of the morning when I knew the Headmistress would be there to tell her what Granger had said to me. Her reaction wasn't exactly as planned.

"And just what do you want me to do about it, Severus?" she asked, looking my way as she placed sausage on her plate. My response was quick, if lacking the answer to her question.

"Obviously she was speaking out of line."

"Obviously she struck a nerve with you, not a difficult thing I might add." I scowled. "Don't give me that look. I say again, what do you want me to do? Ask her to visit Madame Pompfey about a cure for listlessness? You and I both know there isn't one. Thankfully her grades aren't slipping over this. Then we'd really have a problem."

I tapped my fingers on the table.

"Oh, stop it Severus. You want me to put her in detention for figuring out something about you? And before you ask, no, I'm not going to do it and wouldn't allow you to. There are countless rules that a student can break, but none of them are 'use their brains to figure out an uncomfortable truth about a teacher'."

I rubbed my temples. "You're not very helpful at all, Minerva."

She sighed. "Let me put it another way then. Is she going to the press with anything?"

"No."

"Is she saying anything rude, or disrespectful?"

I rubbed harder. "No."

"Is she continuing to be a bright student, and is it really her fault that she's so bright she figured out you'd be the best person to talk to?"

I raised my head and looked at her. "I don't want to be the best person to talk to."

Another sigh. "Oh come now, Severus. So it's fine for you and me to have reached a place where we can talk freely, but it's impossible for you to reach it with someone else?"

"Exactly."

She paused a moment to hand me an orange. I began peeling. "I appreciate that this is new to you. However, you really are the best person for Hermione to come to. She doesn't talk during class with me, nor do I find myself with ample time to help her. If I could, I would. I pity the poor girl. I'm afraid, given the circumstance, the best she can do is you."

I scowled again.

"You're either mad because you feel I insulted you or upset that you can't get out of this."

What is it with women? "Both, I suppose."

"At least I'm getting some kind of honesty from you." She sipped her orange juice. "I am sorry that it comes to this, but you are really about it. She alone came back to take classes among her circle of friends. Her parents aren't here, and we all know the recent history of that particular wound." I took a bite of orange, thinking.

She continued. "You are having her help you in potions, correct?" I nodded. "Then, well, try and open up with her about things. Perhaps if you do, she'll be able to connect with her peers." I groaned softly. She still heard it, and her voice sounded impatient. "Severus, be a little reasonable. How long has it been since you talked with someone, just talked?"

I thought back. The last person, the only person, was Lily. Since then and with everyone else, even Minerva, it had been on some level of business or secrecy. I blanched suddenly at my food, only to feel a hand on mine and a sudden concerned look from my Headmistress.

"I'm fine." It was said too quickly to be taken as truth, and her eyebrows raised. I took a deep breath and started again. "I'm fine. I just... haven't eaten enough breakfast yet." The lie worked as I put eggs, bacon, and some rye toast with cream cheese on my plate and began eating. I chewed carefully, trying to get my thoughts back under control.

"Well, however long its been, this is a new age now. There's no reason you should keep yourself bottled up like this forever." My expression didn't change. She tried another tactic. "I'm told you're being easier on your students' mistakes?" I nodded once. "Then try to be cordial to this particular student's... requirements." When I didn't say anything, she gave an exasperated sigh and began to rise from the table. "I have owls to send. I don't care how you do it, but I do expect it from you, Severus. It's not fair to hinder someone because of someone else's personal affiliation."

Then what do you think you're doing to me? I almost called it back. A few years ago, a few months ago, I would have. I'm being paid to be a councilor and babysitter to a teenage girl. I took a drink from my goblet, then laughed so loud I got looks.



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