Near the end of the war, Minerva looks back at her relationship with Severus Snape and thinks about destiny.
The shadow near the staircase became a dark-haired boy when she raised her wand to illuminate his face with its glowing tip.
“It’s me,” he said.
“It is I,” she corrected, coming down the stairs and stopping on the bottom step so she remained a head taller than her student.
“It is I,” he repeated.”
He spoke tonelessly, with no trace of the thinly veiled resentment she’d come to expect from the Snape boy whenever she spoke to him outside her classroom.
She lowered her wand but kept it lit so she could see him. “What are you doing out of bed, Mr Snape?”
“I had permission.” He dug in his cloak pocket, fished out a slip of paper, and held it out it to her.
She took it. Without her spectacles, she couldn’t read it, but the expensive parchment and florid handwriting were familiar enough for her to guess at the note’s contents.
“And why did Professor Slughorn give you permission to be out of bed at this hour? Was it another of his little soirées?”
The after-hours gatherings were hardly the chief reason she didn’t approve of the “Slug Club”, but it irked her that Horace never saw fit to warn the deputy headmistress that a select group of students would likely be roaming the castle’s halls long after curfew.
“No, Professor,” Snape said. “I was invited to the Malfoys’ Christmas party. I . . . I had to wait for Lucius to Apparate me back.”
Snape’s worn cloak and his magically but obviously patched trousers reminded Minerva that he hadn’t been among the students who’d signed up for last spring’s round of Apparition lessons. At seven Galleons, the course was likely beyond his means. Minerva had paid for Lupin’s herself, but he was in her House, and she couldn’t be expected to subsidise every needy student who crossed her path, could she?
“I wasn’t aware you knew the Malfoy family,” she said.
Snape’s lips curved into what would have been an insolent smile had it reached his eyes, and he said, some of the familiar defiance returning to his voice, “We’re friends. Lucius and me.”
“Lucius and I.”
Lucius and I,” Snape repeated, the smirk melting into a fleeting grimace. He’d been working on ridding himself of his Brummie speech patterns and his accent. Minerva had never tried to shed her own accent, which she would have regarded as a vain attempt to deny her origins, but she did pride herself on speaking proper English rather than the Caithness dialect her father and brothers clung to.
“That’s as may be,” Minerva said, “but it is after three in the morning. I hardly think Professor Slughorn expected you to be out nearly all night.”
“No, Professor. It was . . . the party went longer than I anticipated.”
She sighed. “Very well. In deference to the day, I shan’t take any points, but go straight to your dormitory, and I expect to see you at breakfast.”
She held out the permission slip, and when he reached for it, he sucked in an audible breath and clutched at his left forearm. At her frown, he quickly recovered himself. His eyes dropped to his shoes, and Minerva realised with horror what had happened at that supposed Christmas party.
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