Scarlet Women Chapter 17

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Severus looked at the light creeping into his window. He wondered if it was too early. He didn’t have to wake her. He could just see if she was up and if she wasn’t he could leave.



He stared at the stone ceiling for a few more minutes. His breath fogged slightly in the early morning air. He prepared himself for the initial shock and flung his covers off, reaching for a dark grey dressing gown. It was enchanted with a warming charm and soon heat flowed over him.



We slipped black leather house shoes on his feet and padded over to his fire. He opened a small green urn near the fire and grabbed a handful of grainy brown powder.



“Head Girl’s office,” he said at the hearth as he threw the powder into the fire. Emerald green flames leaped up at him and he stuck his head in the fire.



A sight he never thought he’d see swam before him.



Hermione slept on her couch. Ron Weasley lay in her arms, his eyes puffy and his face blotchy and tear stained.



Hermione stirred slightly she opened her eyes and started at seeing the head of Severus floating in the fire. Ron slid down her robes and awoke with a start as his head thunked against her knee.



“What was that for?” he asked, sitting up and rubbing his head. She nodded at the fire.



Ron jumped.



“I apologize for the intrusion,” Snape began.



“Which one?” Ron snapped. Hermione laid a hand on his arm.



Snape stared at him stonily.



“I realize you are in a state of emotional distress, Mr. Weasley,” Snape said flatly. Ron looked at his feet and flushed. “But try to control any outbursts you may want to have in the future.”



“Come in,” Hermione said to the head of Snape. He emerged into her quarters and waved his wand at a chair, drawing it closer to the couch and fire. “Do you have to rearrange furniture every time you come here?” She asked, annoyed.



“Yes,” Snape said simply before waving his wand at the pair of Gryffindors, removing tears, grime, and other crusted over nastiness. “I suspect you want to know everything you can about the disappearances.”



“Well, yes,” said Ron, surprising Hermione for speaking first. Not to mention he was civilized.



“It looks as if young Mr. Malfoy has fallen out of favor with the Dark Lord by consorting so closely with Miss Weasley,” Snape said rubbing his temple with his forefinger.



Ron drew in his breath sharply.



“Draco’s a Death Eater?” he asked, shocked.



“Does that surprise you, Mr. Weasley?” Snape sneered at him. “Did you ever for a minute think that the Dark Arts is what that family lives for?”



“It just-“ Ron spluttered. “I mean- he’s our age!”



“The Dark Lord doesn’t quibble about ages when it comes to gaining followers,” Snape said, sitting back in his chair and waving his wand so Hermiones table was better positioned between him and the students. He conjured his silver platter of food again, this time full of different kinds of fruit. A pot of tea appeared, along with 3 mugs.



“What’s going to happen to them?” Hermione asked.



“Miss Weasley is valuable,” Snape said as he reached for an apricot. “I’m sure she is unharmed. Relatively.”



“What does that mean?” Ron said, his voice slightly higher pitched than usual.



“It means she’s alive,” Hermione said. She looked stricken, but was trying to appear calm. Her face was very pale.



“As for Mr. Malfoy,” Snape said depositing the fruit pit onto the plate. It transfigured into a muffin and he took it back. “He may have already been disposed of. I don’t know.”



Ron reached out and took a cherry. He ate it and placed the pit on the platter. He made a face when nothing happened.



“You have to eat a full serving of fruit,” Snape said reaching for a pear. “Six more should do it.”



Ron reached out for a bunch of cherries and soon had his muffin.



“I don’t know how you two can think of food at a time like this,” Hermione said shooting to her feet and beginning to pace along the long bookshelf in her sitting room. Snape noticed the carpet seemed to be well worn where she was pacing, as if this were something she did regularly. Snape and Ron at each other, then at her.



“Don’t do this,” Snape began.



“Don’t you tell me what to do or how to feel!” Hermione exploded at him.



“Whoops,” Ron said under his breath so Snape could barely hear him. Snape felt this warning came a little too late.



“I never said-“ Snape began, but Hermione plowed right over him. Ron reached out for a peach.



“You have no idea-“ her voice cracked and she became incomprehensible until she squeaked out a feeble “Ginny,” and collapsed to her knees.



“I think I do,” said Snape slowly. Ron rose and ran to her. He helped her to her feet and got her back to the couch. Ron put his arms around her and began rocking her. Severus wished it was him. He wanted to be the one wiping her tears away, cradling her in his arms, but Weasley needed her as much as she needed him right now. They both loved the missing girl and grieved together.



Plus, he didn’t know exactly how much the Weasley boy had been told of he and Hermiones relationship. For all he knew, Weasley may think they were tango partners.



“We need to try to be level headed,” Snape said. Hermione looked up in fury, but before she began again Snape held out his hand and stopped her. “I know what I’m asking for is impossible, but you won’t help Dumbledore by acting hysterical.”



Hermione took a deep shaky breath and glared at him.



“You’re a bright girl Hermione,” said Snape, annoyed. “We’ll need you in top form for upcoming events.”



Hermione and Ron were stunned.



“But the Order won’t accept you if you’re still in school,” Ron whispered.



“In this case we decided it was close enough and you both were bound to get mixed up in it anyway,” he said testily. “I disagreed, but I was outvoted.”



“How could you disagree?” Hermione snapped.



“You’re too young and it’s too dangerous,” Snape snapped back at her.



“But she’s not too young to boff, is she Professor?” Ron snarled.



Well that answered that question. Snape took a deep breath and looked at the ceiling. He counted to 20. In Chinese.



“I’m not asking you for your forgiveness or acceptance, Mr. Weasley.” Snape glanced at Hermione who was staring at Ron in stunned shock, her mouth dangling open. “Merely your tolerance. Please. For the sake of everyone’s reputation.”



“Ron!” Hermione said, regaining her composure. Snape was glad to see she was an equal opportunity flurry of anger. “What a horrible thing to say. We’re in the Order now.”



“No thanks to him,” Ron gestured at Snape.



“Nevertheless,” Snape interrupted before this conversation went any further. “You have a binding ceremony to attend. Tonight. Sir Nicholas will give you instructions later.”



Snape swept to his feet and bowed shortly at them.



“I will see you at breakfast,” Snape said shortly. “I would advise discression, especially in regard to Potter.”



“What do you mean?” Hermione said.



“Potter is not to be inducted,” Snape said. “Although he will find out eventually, Dumbledore has asked for the time being he not be informed.”



Hermione and Ron nodded at each other.



“We understand,” said Hermione.