Chapter 18: Girls
I opened my eyes to sunlight streaming onto my face through a gap in the pale green curtains. Shielding my eyes with my hand and squinting stupidly, I sat up or rather… tried to sit up.
A wave of sickness washed over me and my head spun dangerously. Slapping my hands to my head to try to stop the spinning, I lay back down and closed my eyes with my hands still clamped on the sides of my head. A searing pain shot through my left side. I began to panic.
I had no idea where I was, if I was about to be attacked or what was wrong with me.
‘Oh, I wouldn’t try to sit up if I were you,’ said a gravelly voice from the right as heavy, dragging footsteps approached my bedside.
‘Yes, Sev! It really hurts… don’t,’ someone said softly from my other side, but this voice was further away and familiar. It was the sweet, innocent voice of Lily Evans.
All of last night came rushing back to me. Mulciber, Avery, Regina, Lily, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall. It hit me with such a force that I felt like I had just been knocked flat against the cushions.
The gravelly voice sounded from beside me. ‘Here, since you’re awake you may as well take your brew manually.’
I opened my eyes again but stayed lying down.
The first thing I saw was Madam Kendle standing over me. Her lined face was close and her breath smelled of lavender. I turned my head to the side and looked around me.
The hospital wing was empty except for Lily who was in the bed on my left.
‘Hun, you’re gonna have to drink this sooner or later so you may as well get it over with,’ Madam Kendle said in her gravelly voice. She was holding a silver goblet in front of my face but I gently pushed it away and attempted sitting up again.
I succeeded and Madam Kendle moved away slightly to give me room. My head spun again and I felt my face drain of colour. She pushed me back onto the pillows and tipped the contents of the goblet down my throat. It burned as badly as the taste of Firewhisky my mother had given me when I was five.
Coughing and spluttering, I looked over at Lily through a haze of tears and saw her sympathetic reaction. ‘It’s horrible stuff, isn’t it?’
‘Understatement,’ I managed to choke out. ‘What happened?’
‘You were brought in here about half an hour after me,’ Lily said.
‘You had a severe concussion and a sprained neck,’ Madam Kendle explained. She smiled knowingly. ‘Feeling some pain down your left side?’
I nodded. ‘How long was I out?’ I asked.
‘Three days,’ Madam Kendle shrugged.
‘Oh… alright… but what I really want to know is –’
‘What happened with Infirmos, Archemus and Regina?’ Dumbledore entered the room with Professor McGonagall and Professor Gibliry flanking him.
I nodded once and the pain shot down my side again.
‘Mulciber and Regina were possessed by Lord Voldemort when they went to find Avery. We believe they showed him the captured Death Eater behind the door in the dungeon.’
‘So, he saw it? Voldemort knows where it is?’
‘Yes. Voldemort knows where she is.’
Dumbledore chuckled. ‘Of course, she doesn’t look like a she at the moment. Not to you anyway. Her frightening appearance is a way to scare off any prying students. In truth, she really is quite beautiful.’
I frowned. I didn’t want to think about a Death Eater being beautiful.
‘Her name is Bellatrix. Bellatrix Lestrange. She left Hogwarts two years ago and joined the Dark Side,’ Dumbledore elaborated.
‘Now, now, Dumbledore! This is too much for the boy to take in!’ Madam Kendle insisted. ‘He has been hurt and he needs his rest!’
‘Of course, Madam Kendle,’ Dumbledore said calmly. ‘If Severus no longer requires anything from me I shall be happy to leave the hospital wing and let him rest.’
He turned back to me, the ghost of a smile played with his lips as he x-rayed me with his electric-blue eyes. He turned to go but I stopped him.
‘Wait! Professor! What happens now? What will Voldemort do?’
Madam Kendle gasped at the sound of Voldemort’s name and Dumbledore turned around painstakingly slowly, his mouth turned up at the corners in a kind of half-smile. ‘That, I’m afraid, is a conversation for another day. I will be happy to have it with you when you are recovered and rested and,’ he sighed wearily, ‘when I have the answers.’
Dumbledore turned and walked out of the hospital wing, followed by Professor McGonagall but Professor Gibliry stayed behind, talking in hushed tones with Madam Kendle.
I caught some of the conversation.
‘But Marian, how could the boy have possibly kept going after his fall? With a concussion and all?’ Professor Gibliry whispered.
‘That, I think, is a simple case of adrenalin. It can enable you to do many things the human body shouldn’t be able to do. It’s its own kind of magic. I think he was so driven to save his friends and stop You Know Who, that he managed to stay conscious for the whole ordeal. He must be very loyal. I think we can expect great things from him in the future, Amber.” Madam Kendle whispered back.
I remembered Mulciber, Avery and Regina all collapsing in the corridor. Looking around I saw that none of them were there.
‘Where are the others?’ I asked. I thought I might have to explain who I was talking about so I opened my mouth to continue but I stopped as Professor Gibliry swept over to my bedside.
‘I’m taking care of them, dear. They are being treated in my office at the moment,’ she said, quietly. Her voice was so sweet that I could almost taste it as if it were a chocolate frog melting on my tongue.
Snapping out of my trance I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat up at the same time saying, ‘I want to see them!’ I was expecting the world to spin before my eyes, but before I could feel woozy, a many-ringed hand pushed me back against the pillows roughly and I stared up in shock at Professor Gibliry whose eyes flashed black. I blinked, sure it had been a trick of the light and saw that they were their normal orange colour once again.
‘Yes, of course you do,’ she said, as if she were making an effort to keep her voice calm. ‘But you can’t. I’m sorry, but you need to rest.’
She swept out of the room, leaving me in the same position she had pushed me into. I lay in stunned silence as I tried to convince myself that I was wrong.
‘That was strange,’ Lily said. I turned to look at her having completely forgotten she was there.
‘Yes. It was.’
‘I can’t believe You Know Who knows now.’
‘Yeah. It’s strange,’ I said, still stunned.
Lily was sitting cross-legged on her bed facing me. She had a white bandage wrapped around her forehead and it clashed strangely with her dark red hair. I put my hand to my forehead and instead of skin I felt material.
‘We’re matching!’ Lily giggled.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Her laugh made me feel as if nothing was wrong with the world. If I needed to, I could lie here forever, just laughing with her. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my chest that I didn’t know was there and I could breathe again. We laughed until our throats were raw and then collapsed as it started to get dark.
I fell asleep before I had eaten dinner, and for once, I didn’t dream at all.
The next morning, I felt much better so Lily and I were both excused from the hospital wing to pack our trunks for the holidays. I parted ways with her and made my way down to the dungeon.
‘No dirty blood,’ I said.
The common room was packed with people who had come back from breakfast. It was raining outside so everyone had decided to spend their last day at Hogwarts in their common rooms. It was a Saturday.
As I entered, every single face turned to look at me and I was acutely aware of the white bandage still rapped around my head. Someone threw their arms around me from the back. Cheers erupted and everyone sprung from their chairs and ran over to me. People shouted things like:
‘Nice one, Snape!’
‘You’re a hero!’
But it wasn’t true. And deep down I think I knew that. I hadn’t stopped Voldemort from getting the information he needed. I had only gotten my best friend hurt.
I smiled weakly. The person embracing me from the back turned me around and I saw Mulciber.
‘Thanks!’ Is all he said. But I knew he meant it. He was smiling at me kindly which was a big improvement from his normal dark and gloomy self.
Someone tugged at my other shoulder making me turn towards them. It was then that I saw Regina and her face was very close to mine. It was coming closer and closer until she was out of focus. I turned my head just in time and she pecked me on the cheek, just missing my lips. I turned back to her and she blushed, looked at the ground and disappeared into the crowd.
I spun around to find Mulciber and he was standing exactly where he was last but his smile was gone. He stood with his arms hanging limply by his side and his shocked expression made me blush. Blushing was not a good idea because he obviously thought it was from the kiss. He scowled darkly and turned and disappeared back into the crowd.
Packing my things into my trunk was the hardest thing I had ever done. I deeply resented the fact that Mother wanted me home these holidays. I was dreading going back to the arguing but I realised having Lily with me would make it all okay.
Why the hell would Regina kiss me? She was obviously into Mulciber and she knew I had no interest in her so what was the point. Maybe to get back at Mulciber?
I threw my ink bottles into my trunk with such force I thought they might have smashed so I rummaged through my clothes frantically until I found them but they were unharmed.
When I was finally finished, it was evening and I made my way back down to the common room and saw Regina and Archemus sitting around a wizard chess board.
I sat down next to them.
I put my hand on Archemus’ arm to let him know I was there. He looked around at me, startled. ‘Hey, I didn’t see you when I came in.’
He grinned at me. ‘I just got back.’
All questions about Amber Gibliry were wiped from my mind at the sight of my friend’s face.
‘It’s so good to see you again!’ I exclaimed happily and gave him a quick hug.
‘Yeah,’ Archemus said quietly. ‘It must have been terrifying having your friends turn into monsters before your eyes.’
‘Yes,’ I said equally as quietly as I reminisced about the past events of the term. ‘It was.’
‘But the funny thing is… is that… I don’t remember anything.’
‘You don’t remember anything? Anything at all?’ Regina asked incredulously.
‘No. I do remember one thing.’
‘Can you tell me what it is?’ I asked eagerly.
‘I remember waking up.’ He shuddered. ‘And I saw these eyes glinting at me and then my body went slack and I couldn’t control anything. And then… I was in Professor Gibliry’s office and she told me everything that had happened.’
‘Oh, Snape! I’m so sorry!’ he cried.
‘For what?’ I asked, startled. Then I smiled, ‘Mulciber’s the one you should be apologising to.’
Avery winced. ‘What did I do to him?’
‘You broke his jaw and gave him reason to be possessed by Voldemort. No big deal,’ I joked.
He smiled weakly. ‘Where is he?’
‘I haven’t seen him since, Severus’ welcome back party in the common room,’ Regina spoke. She appeared to have no recollection about what happened at the party and so I pretended not to either.
‘No. I haven’t either. But he was very upset when you turned.’
‘I’m sure he was.’
‘Hey, was there something… odd about Professor Gibliry? Do you remember?’
‘Yeah I remember. But she seemed fine,’ he chuckled. ‘Except for her office.’
I slid to the edge of my seat as he continued.
‘It was THE strangest office I have EVER seen!’
‘What was wrong with it?’
‘It was… all… blue.’
‘So?’ I asked, feeling crestfallen.
‘Well, everything was an ocean blue… and there was this HUGE tank at the back. It was so big it was almost like an aquarium. There were only a few fish in it so she hardly needed a tank that big. I think she must be a big lover of the ocean. There were shells everywhere too.’
‘Huh…’ I said, thinking hard.
The common room door slid open and revealed Mulciber. He looked around the common room but his eyes never found us so he stepped cautiously away from the entrance. While his back was turned, I said goodbye to Avery and Regina and snuck around the edge of the room and up to the dormitory stairs. I peeked around a pillar and saw that Infirmos was now sitting in my seat watching the others play wizard chess with a glum look on his face. His head was resting on his hand and his elbow was resting on the table. He looked defeated and upset and as much as I wanted to go and talk to him, I wouldn’t risk it after what Regina did. I was still in the dark about that one.
The Hogwarts Express chugged away from Hogwarts the very next morning and Lily and I walked along the corridor trying to find an empty compartment. Instead, we ended up sitting in a compartment with Holly, Demitri, Macmillan, Kilter and Davidson. Lily’s friends.
‘Sev, how come you’re going home?’
‘Mum promised me this was the only time of the year I have to come home but apparently she needs to see me,’ I said irritably.
‘Okay,’ Lily said, smiling. ‘At least you can spend some time with me over the holidays!’
This brightened my mood.
Demitri spoke, ‘Hey Lily?’
‘What’s your deal with Potter?’
I bristled, wondering whether or not I wanted to hear the answer. Holly, Kelly and Jasmine slid to the edges of their seats to listen but Cole just sat in the corner looking bored.
‘I don’t have one,’ Lily said simply.
‘Why do you hate him?’
I smiled to myself.
‘I’ve already told you,’ Lily said, slowly. ‘I don’t hate him.’
My smile disappeared.
‘Then how come you always glare at him or move away when he comes to sit with us? You know it makes him very upset!’ Jasmine whined.
‘Yes. I know. But I don’t hate him. I hate the way people drool over him and twist their hair,’ Lily said. Then she added, ‘No offence.’
‘None taken,’ Jasmine shrugged.
‘His head is already big enough… I just don’t think he’s as amazing as everyone else does.’
My smile returned.
‘Where are all of your friends, Snape?’ Macmillan asked from the corner.
‘They’re staying at Hogwarts for the holidays,’ I replied.
There were nods from around the compartment and then a few moments of silence. ‘Who wants to play a game?’ he asked.
We played Exploding Snap until it started to get dark and the compartment lights flickered on.
‘Let’s play a different game!’ Jasmine said. ‘Let’s play Gobstones!’
We all agreed and started to play.
I was starting to get bored when he heard a creak and a high pitched squealing noise as the train slowed itself down.
‘We’re here!’ Kelly shouted excitedly.
Leaving the train was like stepping into another world.
Kings Cross Station looked very different at night time. The shadows obscured distant objects and the moonlight made the snow on the ground sparkle. Cold air hit my face as my foot met the snow with a soft, elegant crunching sound.
The top of the train was snow dusted and sparkling.
Lily stepped out behind me and exclaimed, ‘Oh, how beautiful!’
Parents waited in the shadows, pulling jackets around themselves to keep warm. Their breath fogged the air as they chatted. Some people jumped up and down in an effort to keep warm and others held their younger children close to them as they cried. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful scene and I would have stood there all day looking at it if people hadn’t started shoving me from behind.
‘Move it along!’ Someone shouted. ‘We’ll catch our death out here!’
Picking up my trunk and Fidus’ cage, I wandered forward, scanning the crowd for any sign of mother.
I saw her in the corner, standing next to a rubbish bin. Lily and I hurried over.
‘Hello kids!’ she smiled.
I jumped at her sweet tone. Wow! She had changed.
‘Hello, Mrs – Er – Snape?’
‘Greetings Lily. I will be taking you through the barrier where your parents will be waiting on the other side.’
Walking towards the brick wall, Lily and I picked up a run and disappeared through the barrier, appearing in the Muggle part of Kings Cross Station.
Lily’s parents were waiting here as predicted and Lily ran to her parents and her dad lifted her off the ground in a hug and kissed her exaggeratedly on her head many times.
Lily leaned over and whispered something in her dad’s ear. He laughed heartily and then said, ‘Of course he’s welcome! But not for the whole holidays!’
Her dad put her on the ground and she rushed over to me. ‘Do you want to spend the night at my house?’
I looked up at mother. She nodded at me.
‘Sure!’ I exclaimed.
We arrived at Lily’s front door and Petunia came rushing out to meet her sister; however, she stopped short when she saw me standing next to Lily.
‘What’s he doing here?’ She asked, glaring at Lily.
‘He has every right to be here, Petunia,’ Mrs Evans said sternly. Petunia’s eyes welled with tears and she held the door open for her family as we walked into the living room.
The next morning, I was woken by a gasp. I sat up, wondering what could be the matter and I struggled to figure out where I was and why I wasn’t in my four poster bed with green hangings in my Hogwarts dormitory. Looking around, I saw Lily sitting up in bed instead of my dorm mates. ‘What happened?’
‘Oh… nothing… It’s just so strange to be back!’
‘I know! I had no idea where I was when I woke up.’
There was a knock on the door.
‘I’ll get it!’ Petunia called from her bedroom next to Lily’s.
Footsteps sounded as Petunia raced down the stairs and wrenched the front door open. Lily and I sat listening.
‘Hey, Charlie!’ Petunia’s voice was sweet and light.
‘Oh no!’ Lily groaned quietly. She jumped out of bed and opened my trunk. Throwing me some muggle clothes to wear, she pointed urgently toward the bathroom across the hall.
By the time I was changed, Petunia had taken Charlie into the living room. Lily led me down the stairs but stopped me and continued down. I stayed where I was, and listened as Lily disappeared around the corner.
‘Hi Charlie,’ Lily said coolly. ‘What are you doing here?’
Stunned silence followed her question and Lily snapped her fingers.
‘Hmm? Oh… I… uhhh… I’m here to see Lil… I mean Petunia.’
I slapped my hand over my mouth to stop from snorting with laughter.
‘Right…’ Lily said and she sounded genuinely annoyed. ‘Sev! Come down and meet Charlie.’
In the lounge, Petunia and Charlie were sitting (awfully close) on the couch. She’s 13! I wanted to shout at them. Lily stood with her arms crossed in front of the television.
Without warning, Lily slipped her hand into mine and gave me a look that stated, play along.
Petunia’s mouth dropped open comically at the sight of me and Lily holding hands. Charlie had gone quite pink in the face.
‘Sev, this is Charlie. He’s Tuney’s boyfriend,’ Lily gestured at him awkwardly. ‘Charlie, this is Severus. My boyfriend.’
Aghh! I wanted to scream with laughter. Charlie looked like he’d just been hit in the face by a frying pan.
‘Nice to meet you,’ I smiled.
He nodded at me. ‘How about you come and hang out with us,’ he said, recovering and smiling politely.
I looked from Lily to Petunia. Both girls desperately wanted me to decline. Lily gave me a little shake of her head as an indication. Before I could stop myself, a wide grin broke across my face. I turned back to Charlie. ‘We’d love to.’
Charlie patted the seat next to him. I went and sat down leaving Petunia to gesture awkwardly for Lily to sit beside her.
We played muggle card games on the floor of the living room, sitting cross-legged on the floor. A couple of times, I glanced over and caught him watching Lily. Mrs Evans called for Lily and Petunia to come to the kitchen. They both pushed themselves off the floor and traipsed away into another room.
Charlie Benwright leant over and whispered in my ear, ‘How did you do it?’
I thought for a moment. What did he mean?
Before I could ask, he elaborated, ‘How did you get Lily to be your girlfriend?’
The awful truth was… Lily wasn’t my girlfriend. ‘Why? Do you like her?’
‘No! I just thought that maybe you could give me some advice for Petunia!’ He had gone very red.
‘I don’t think you need help with her. She’s head over heels for you.’
Now Charlie had gone as white as he had been red. He turned his head away awkwardly.
I decided I liked Charlie. Sure, he liked Lily but he was stuck with Petunia for now.
‘I’m not actually Lily’s boyfriend,’ I whispered.
‘Really?’ Some of the colour returned to his face. ‘Why would she say that?’
‘So you don’t hurt Petunia,’ I said simply.
Charlie turned green. ‘She’s very kind,’ he said very quietly. ‘And very smart to figure out that I like her.’
‘She’s very intuitive,’ I agreed. ‘But you’re not exactly subtle.’
Lily and Petunia re-entered the room so our conversation was cut short but Charlie needed to go home anyway. He hugged Petunia awkwardly and nodded at me and Lily.
‘I should go too!’ I said to them. Petunia sighed, apparently relieved. Lily nodded.
As I walked out the door carrying my trunk and Fidus’ cage I called to Mr and Mrs Evans, ‘Thank you for having me!’
‘You’re welcome here anytime!’
Petunia scowled; Lily smiled and waved.
I continued down the garden path and heard Petunia sigh, ‘Thank the lord he’s gone!’
‘I think he is very polite,’ Mrs Evans said fondly. I turned back and waved again as I made my way out the gate, already thoroughly enjoying my holidays.
I pulled my jacket, around me more tightly and continued to trudge through the snow up the road towards my house. Although my trunk was heavy, it felt very light and easy to carry.
I thought about all of the different things Lily and I could do together, wizarding and muggle. I smiled to myself.
For the first time ever, I was glad to be me – glad to be home.