Outside, under one of the eaves, Hermione demonstrated her newly mastered Chiel'Ri Cuerga spell by bouncing raindrops and turning them into ice cubes. She then used a Leviosa-Loctis combination to dump said ice cubes down Ron's back in retaliation for his complaint that she was becoming an intolerable show-off. Harry watched the almost constant bickering between his two friends with increasing disinterest as he felt more and more excluded. The growing distance between himself and his friends was caused by guilt, he told himself, nothing more. Certainly not jealousy. Of course not.
And speaking of guilt, it was horrible trying to get through a Defense Against the Dark Arts class when he was doing everything possible to avoid making eye contact with the teacher. And every time he did make eye contact with the teacher, he saw hurt, accusation, and bitterness there. Or worse...he saw nothing at all. Deveroux's alternating moods of grief, anger, and emptiness would have been bearable had Harry been able to talk to Hagrid about what had happened that night, but Dumbledore had forbidden him to tell anyone not directly involved about the ill-fated plot against Snape. And Sirius … well, to put it mildly, even the unrelenting guilt was better than another lecture from his godfather!
Harry wiped the raindrops from his spectacles for the third time that morning, and stalked off across the quad toward the library, leaving Ron and Hermione to their bickering behind him. They didn't even notice his departure. With no Potions class today, Quidditch practice cancelled this afternoon, his friends busy quarreling again, and the weather too wet and miserable for a walk to the lake, Harry decided that now was as good a time as any for a studying marathon in the library. After all, the OWLs were only two months away, and if he did not pass them, then his future in the Wizarding world would be in grave doubt. Besides, maybe studying would take his mind off Snape and Deveroux for a while.
Once Harry had tried to tell Ron about the recurring nightmare he kept having about Snape, but Ron only said that he ought to try to forget about the git and just be thankful that Dumbledore hadn't expelled the four of them. Hermione was somewhat more sympathetic toward Harry's feelings, but Harry felt uncomfortable bringing up the subject around her because she always gave him that accusing glare. She blamed him and Jaspine, and to a lesser extent, Ron, for getting her involved in that disastrous plot. And she never missed an opportunity to let Harry and Ron know that she was still angry with them about it. So in the end, Harry had given up and decided to keep the nightmare to himself. It made things simpler that way.
But every night since their disastrous plot against Snape three weeks ago, the Potions master shouted at him, "What have you done? I'll tell you what you have done! You have killed me! Just as surely as if you had poured Blacklotus Nacre down my throat! In fact, I wish you had!"
And every day he wondered...why?
Why did their enmity have to end this way? And why couldn't he convince his conscience that Snape had only received what he deserved?
So deep in thought was Harry that he mechanically walked right past Madam Pince's desk without even looking her way. Instead, he meandered over to one of the cushioned wing-backed chairs sitting beside the large mullioned windows on the east side of the library. He sank into the chair and then plopped his book bag down beside it, feeling as tired as if he had just been through a three-hour Quidditch practice. Now that he was here, studying was the furthest thing from his mind.
The gloomy blue-grey light of a heavily overcast sky filtered in through the rain-spattered windows, and all Harry could think about were the last words he had heard, or would ever hear Snape say.
"I could have taken it from anyone but her."
Poetic justice, Harry thought, staring out the diamond-shaped panes. It was only fair. He had it coming.
"'Harry Potter's Secret Heartache'...dear, dear, Potter, what's ailing you now?"
Served him right, the mean git.
"'Harry Potter's well-wishers must hope that, next time, he bestows his heart on a worthier candidate.' How very touching."
He deserved it, the cold-hearted creep.
"If she wants to kill me, let her. I deserve it."
Didn't he even admit as much?
"I hated myself for what I was doing, but I didn't want to meet the same fate as the Death Eaters who had rebelled ... I suppose that makes me a coward, a monster, eh Potter?"
But even monsters may have feelings...
"Was it too dark ... for them to see my face? Did they see the tears forming? ... Ari! Arrriii! Ariiiii!"
Ari... Aurellia Deveroux.
"Are you going to kill me with your words, Aurellia?"
Harry buried his face in his hands. It isn't fair, he thought fiercely. IT ISN'T FAIR! This isn't how it was supposed to go! You weren't supposed to be in love! You weren't supposed to have a heart!
Suddenly Harry felt a hand on his shoulder, and he looked up quickly, dry-eyed. Jaspine stared back with sad green eyes, and chewed her lip as if trying to hold back tears.
"I wasn't crying!" Harry said sharply.
"I know you weren't. Neither was I," said Jaspine.
Neither of them spoke for a few moments, the pouring rain outside saying everything that was on their minds.
Harry blinked a few times, cleared his throat, and finally managed a rather shaky, "Hi, Jaspine."
"I saw you come in. Aren't we pathetic?" Jaspine observed with forced levity. "I'd offer you a tissue, Harry, but I've already gone through the box Madam Pince gave me, and...well, I hate to ask for another. She might get suspicious and think that I was crying or something."
Harry tried to laugh and ended up choking on a chuckle. Jaspine smiled sympathetically and pulled another chair over so that she could sit across from Harry with the window between them. "We hated his guts, so why are we crying about what happened to the git?"
"I wasn't crying," Harry insisted nastily. "He isn't worth it. I hated him. I despised him. I'm glad he's gone."
"Really?" Jaspine replied skeptically. "Then why don't you look happy?"
Harry looked up quickly as he tried to think of some sarcastic retort, but nothing came to mind. He realized from Jaspine's expression that she was being serious, not flippant for once. He shrugged. "I don't know," he said at last. "Maybe it's because it's our fault that he's gone. Maybe it's because vengeance isn't quite what we thought it was going to be. Maybe it's because...we can't undo what we did to him and Professor Deveroux."
"Don't blame yourself, Harry. It's my fault. It was my idea, after all."
"But you couldn't have done it without us. We were all in it together. The Four Avengers."
"Do you think...do you suppose there's any chance he'll ever come back?"
"How should I know?" Harry snapped testily. Then he looked away quickly. "I... I don't know. I suppose not. Dumbledore and the others don't seem to think there's any hope. None of the missing have ever returned. Not even Gloria Hyran's brother and he was a junior Auror."
"Maybe he's dead, and they all know it, but they won't tell us."
"No," Harry disagreed. "I think Dumbledore would have at least told the four of us if that were the case. I think the Death Eaters took him away."
"Voldemort will probably kill him, if he hasn't already..."
"Yeah...I suppose." He decided not to repeat the bleak conversation he had with his godfather.
Jaspine looked away toward the windows and a tear streaked down her face. "It's funny," she said softly. "I felt awful that night, and the next morning when Dumbledore told us the news that he was gone. But after that, I suppose I just felt...sort of numb."
"I thought maybe you were mad at us, the way you've been avoiding us the last couple of weeks," said Harry.
"No," Jaspine disagreed firmly. "No, I wasn't angry with you guys. I was angrier with myself than anything. I keep thinking that in spite of all our planning, we still managed to mess things up terribly. I keep thinking that I should have known better, that there was something more I could have done, or that I should have listened to Hermione's objections."
"How could you have known, Jaspine? It's not as if either one of them were ever very open about their feelings. And hasn't Snape been begging for something like this for years? Everyone says so. Some people are glad he left."
"He gets over things rather quickly, doesn't he?"
"Sometimes," Harry agreed, but then he thought about his quarrel with Ron during the Tri-wizard Tournament. "And sometimes not. Even after everything that happened that night, everything that came out, I think he still hates Snape."
"Maybe he's only trying to stay mad at Snape so that he doesn't have to feel guilty about what we did to him."
"That's pretty deep, Jaspine. Are you quitting Potions and taking up psychology, now?"
"That's not funny, Harry. I've been seriously thinking about it."
"Quitting Potions?" Harry asked incredulously. "You, the best Potions student Hogwarts has had since...well, since Snape? You're quitting?"
"Yes... well, maybe. I've been thinking about it. It isn't a required course after fifth year, you know."
"I...I don't know. I guess I just don't care about it anymore."
"Jaspine, you can't let this keep you from pursuing your career!"
"It's not my career yet. I still have another year. There's still time for me to change my mind."
"Don't do it, Jaspine. Don't quit Potions just because of what we did to Snape. You can't let one mistake ruin the rest of your life!"
"But this isn't one mistake, Harry! It's...well, it's everything! I...I feel like I need to reevaluate my life. I was wrong about Snape, wrong about wanting to get revenge on the Death Eaters because of Calvin. What if I'm in the wrong field too?"
"But you're not in the wrong field!" Harry argued. "Look, you managed to make..." he lowered his voice and looked around quickly, but no one else in the library seemed to be paying any attention to their quiet conversation, "Veritaserum," he whispered, "and I once overheard Snape say you're the best Potions student he's had in years, and you know how rarely he gives...gave...compliments like that!"
"Harry..." the Slytherin interrupted quietly, waving a hand dismissively, "do you know why it has all finally started to hit me today? I'm talking about the awfulness of what we did. What I did. The betrayal.…"
Harry gulped and shook his head. He got the distinct feeling that this was not something he wanted to hear.
"There's a reason why Veritaserum is so strictly regulated by the Ministry," she whispered.
Harry swallowed again. He definitely did not like where this conversation was going. "Look," he whispered fiercely, "if you're having a guilt trip about giving him the Veritaserum, don't. Last year, he threatened to lace my pumpkin juice with it!"
"But he only threatened to. He didn't do it!" Jaspine retorted sharply. "He knew better! He might have hated you, but I don't think he would ever have stooped that low, not even for the sake of vengeance."
Harry snorted bitterly. "And maybe he simply never got the opportunity. Need I remind you as you once reminded Ron and I about the mort-de-kai?"
"But it's not the same," Jaspine disagreed, shaking her head emphatically. "At least with the duel, Deveroux could defend herself. With Veritaserum, especially if the victim is caught totally off-guard, there is no defense. It's horribly cruel. It's, well, at the very least, it's a serious invasion of privacy. At worst, it's akin to mental rape. He wouldn't have done it, not to a student. He could easily have lost his job and his license over a thing like that. The Ministry takes restricted potions violations very seriously. And besides, I think he...he would have felt bad about it later."
"Now there's a concept," Harry said with a half-smirk. "Snape feeling bad about treating me like dragon manure."
"Well why not? Don't you feel bad about what we did to him?"
"Is it? You remember what he said about that little boy. Deveroux's brother."
The half-smirk disappeared, replaced by a pained expression.
"Yeah... that was awful. Maybe he was right. Maybe we should have opted for something more lethal than Veritaserum." Harry sighed. "I think I'd give just about anything to take back what we did...what we heard that night. I think I would even put up with cutting out turtle hearts and eyes every night until I graduate."
Jaspine laughed at the memory, and then started to cry.
"What?" Harry wondered. "It wasn't that funny."
"I...I was just thinking of something. I had almost forgotten about it, and you just reminded me."
"Sorry," Harry apologized. "I never knew that mentioning turtles could make people burst into tears."
"Do you remember how I helped you and Ron with those turtles, and you guys wondered why I was able to get so many done in so short a time?"
"Uh huh," Harry replied with a nod. "And I remember the blade you used too."
"Well...I used to help Snape with projects like that sometimes. Especially when he had first or second years in detention...and they didn't know how to remove the shells yet, because they were still learning how to hold a wand. Sometimes I gave them pointers and watched, and sometimes I just did it myself."
"Uh huh," Harry said dubiously. "Well, to each his or her own."
"I didn't say it was fun," Jaspine hissed. "I had an ulterior motive, remember. I wanted Snape to get used to having me around, to start taking me for granted, so that when I started plotting my revenge I wouldn't have to worry about him wondering why I was suddenly hanging around the dungeons so often."
"Yeah," Harry murmured, thinking that he was very glad he had never crossed wands with Jaspine the way he had with Draco. Then he had a sudden thought. "Jaspine, if you used to help out first and second years, then why didn't Ron and I ever see you down there when we were serving detention?"
"Do you think I'm completely bangers?" Jaspine replied sharply. "Snape was a pain to put up with on an ordinary day, but whenever you two were around...well let's just say that I would rather have cleaned the owlery than spend an hour in the same room with him when you were there! Whenever I heard that the famous Harry Potter and his sidekick, Weasley, had earned themselves a detention from the Potions master--and let's just say that Draco made sure the entire school knew about it before you could say Silencio--well, I knew that that was a good night to stay in the Slytherin common room and study."
"So you used to help Snape and some of the younger students out except for the times when Ron and I had detentions. Gee, thanks Jaspine."
"And except for other times when Snape was obviously in a really bad mood, which was quite frequently the last two years. And don't complain to me about it, Harry. We were rivals then. Thanks to your Snitch-catching talent, you were Slytherin's number one enemy, and I wasn't about to stick my neck out for you then."
"Until you needed my help, and then it was another story," Harry mused bitterly.
"Don't blame me for the stupid house rivalry system, Harry. I didn't invent it. I don't even like it. And now that we've become friends, I don't know why I ever even went along with it."
"So what happened when you did go down there to help out? You were going to tell me something?"
"Well, one night I was putting stuff on the shelves in the storage room, I saw him standing in the doorway watching me, the way he used to do with Deveroux.”
Harry shuddered. "That's not a pleasant thought," he remarked.
"I was in a bad mood that night because I had gotten myself into an argument with one of McGonagall's pet students, Alyson Fedevico, and wouldn't you know the catnip-loving old witch herself ... oh I'm sorry, I still forget sometimes that I'm not talking to another Slytherin and that she's your Head of House. No offense?"
Harry shrugged and waved it off. It was odd hearing a Slytherin speak of McGonagall playing favorites in the same fashion the Gryffindors had always complained about Snape. But then, before Jaspine had come along he hadn’t really paid all that much attention to what the Slytherins said and thought, save for Malfoy and friends.
Jaspine smiled slightly and continued. "Anyway, McGonagall came along and took twenty points from Slytherin over it. You know how it is with you and Draco, when you just get so mad that you can't hold your tongue..."
"Oh yeah," Harry agreed, nodding with understanding. "I know exactly what you mean."
"Well, needless to say, I really wasn't in the mood to put up with Snape's mouth that night, but I had to do something to make up for those twenty points, or else there would have been hell to pay with the rest of the Slytherins. So I went down to his office hoping he would be in, and he was. I came in ranting about McGonagall's favoritism... er, I mean I told Snape what happened, and he actually smiled about it and said that he owed McGonagall one for sending him some help. He said that he was pleased that I had shown up as Filch had just arrived with two dozen boxes of supplies, parked them outside the door and then promptly left. Apparently, Filch had been in the same mood as I was in that night.
"Anyway, Snape said that he figured Slytherin could have five points per box if I helped him put away the supplies, or ten points per box if I did it by myself. So I chuckled and said I'd take the ten-point deal, and wouldn't McGonagall be sour tomorrow morning when Slytherin had more points instead of less?"
"So you were putting stuff on the shelves and he was standing in the doorway," Harry summarized. "And then what happened?"
"Well, I figured he was going to complain that I had put something in the wrong place, because his filing and storage systems are organized in such a manner that he is the only one who truly understands them. And I almost pity that Karkaroff bloke who is still trying to sort through Snape's stuff."
"Not a cheery thought, for sure," Harry agreed. "So what did he say?"
Jaspine looked away toward the window, and it was several moments before she responded. When she did speak, it was in a quiet, regretful tone. "He asked me why I was doing it. And I said for the points, because the other Slytherins would Stupefy me and dropkick me from the top of Trelawney's tower if they found out I'd lost them twenty points."
"Merlin," Harry murmured, "I'm glad I'm not a Slytherin! I never would have survived my first year here!"
"Oh, but you had Dumbledore on your side," Jaspine remarked bitterly.
Harry stared at her open-mouthed.
"Sorry," Jaspine apologized quickly. "Old rivalries and old habits die hard don't they? Even after all this time. It's not your fault I stopped caring about the points system altogether that year."
"So...er...what did Snape say after that?" Harry prodded, attempting to steer the conversation back on track.
"Something that almost made me give up my plans for revenge that night. He said that he knew it wasn't the points because he knew that I didn't really care about the points system. And it wasn't about the other Slytherins either because most of them were too afraid of me to do anything more than complain. This was the middle of my fourth year, you see, and I had developed something of a reputation by then."
Harry nodded understandingly. Oh yes, he had heard all about Jaspine's reputation back when he and Ron had first agreed to take part in her plot against Snape.
"I shrugged and kept working, hoping he'd shut up and leave before he made me feel any worse about what I was planning to do. But he didn't leave, oh no, not him. Snape never lets go of a mystery until he has figured it out. He can be...I mean... he could be as persistent as a Kneazle after a tunnel rat sometimes."
"Snape? Stubborn? Persistent? Nah, never," Harry remarked sarcastically, thinking about the time Snape had grilled him about that illicit trip to Hogsmeade with the invisibility cloak.
"He said it wasn't about grades either because I was the last student in the school who would ever need to beg or bribe my way through Potions. You know if that had come from anyone other than Snape, I think I might have been offended at that," Jaspine remarked.
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, but coming from Snape, that's a serious compliment."
"Heh, yeah, I suppose," Jaspine agreed. "But you know, Harry, I think he really wanted to believe that I was helping him out just to be nice. That I didn't have an ulterior motive. But I think he was too cynical to genuinely believe that I didn't have some sort of vested interest."
"And he was right," Harry observed ruefully.
"Uh huh," said Jaspine. "He expected you, Ron and Hermione to be plotting against him because you've been butting heads with him ever since the day you three were sorted. It was my involvement that hurt him. Harry, something happened that I never expected or wanted to happen when I first started plotting against him three years ago."
"What...what are you saying, Jaspine? You're not going to tell me that you liked Snape, are you?"
"No!" Jaspine denied quickly, a little too quickly. "I hated him! Everybody did. Everybody except Deveroux and Dumbledore. But now..." She fell silent for a moment and chewed on a knuckle, fighting tears.
"But now what?" Harry persisted.
Jaspine looked around quickly to make sure no one was listening in on their conversation. "I miss the creep. There I said it. Now don't you dare tell anyone, or you'll be sorry!"
"No way," Harry promised quickly. "I won't tell anybody about this, Jaspine. Not even Ron and Hermione, I swear."
"Uh huh. Wizard's Oath. Please don't Obliviate me!"
"Please. I wouldn't do that to you. Besides, confidentially, I can't cast that one."
"You're kidding! I thought you knew all of the restricted and illegal spells."
"Nope. But I like for everyone to think I do," Jaspine confided.
Harry thought for a long moment, "Why do you want everyone to be afraid of you?" he finally asked. "You're not at all like the Dark Arts apprentice everyone thinks you are."
Jaspine shrugged. "I have four living older brothers and a big mouth, and I never back down. I got the worst end of a lot of scuffles when I was little. Then I learned to fight back, and fight back hard. When I came here I earned a bit of a reputation my first year, because I've had plenty of practice quarreling with my brothers. It was always easier, I guess, to beat up everyone who ticked me off rather than to give in or just ignore them."
"Do you suppose maybe that's why Snape was always so hateful?"
Jaspine thought for a moment. "He doesn't have any siblings as far as I know, but...nah, that's not it. Whatever his problem was, it was deeper than that."
"Jaspine, there's something I've been wondering about ever since my first Potions class. Why did he hate me? What did my father do that he couldn't forgive? I think it's more than the fact that my dad once saved his life..."
"How should I know? I'm not a mind reader! Except for that one night, we never talked about anything but work and study. I didn't even know that he and your dad went to school together until you told me about it. I think he's the only one who could have told you..."
"And I missed my once chance to find out."
"Yeah...oh bother, I’m going to need another box of tissues."
"Maybe we should talk about something else for a while."
"I don't know, anything." He and Jaspine stared out the window for a few moments. The rain was letting up finally, but the sky was still murky and blanketed by a heavy layer of dark clouds. "How about your future?" Harry decided at last. "If you quit Potions what will you do instead, become an Auror?"
Jaspine laughed. "Me? An Auror? I don't think so! I don't have the dedication for another ten years of schooling!"
"Ten years!" Harry exclaimed. "But I thought that it only took five...or four if you're apprenticed part-time while you're a seventh year."
"Well, it takes four or five more years of post-graduate study and training just to become a junior, then three more years of fieldwork to become an intermediate, and then, maybe, if you're good enough, you just might make it as a full Auror. If you don't get killed or washed out in the meantime. No way, it's not for me! I'd rather teach."
"So what will you teach?"
"I don't know. Not Transfigurations, that's for sure!"
Harry chuckled. He wondered if Jaspine hated McGonagall's class as much as he had hated Snape's. He could see McGonagall disliking Jaspine and considering her a "problem student" because Jaspine was rather outspoken, headstrong, and prone to fighting and arguing with the other students. Jaspine would have lasted about as long at Hogwarts as a Gryffindor as Harry would have lasted as a Slytherin. And lately Harry had begun to wonder if perhaps Snape had refused to expel Jaspine after some of her escapades because McGonagall had refused to expel Harry and Ron for some of theirs.
"I know," Harry said at last. "You could teach Potions!"
Jaspine laughed. "You're no help at all!" she exclaimed with a theatrical pout. Then in a poor imitation of Trelawney's voice she said, "Yes, I see it all. It is all right here in my crystal balllll. If Voldemort doesn't succeed in killing you, then you have a wonderful future in store for you...as a guidance counselor."
Harry cracked up laughing. "So what are you trying to say, that I would never make it as a guidance counselor, or that Trelawney is about as reliable as the average Muggle meteorologist?"
Jaspine grinned wickedly. "Well, what do you think?"
"I think I don't know whose fortune-telling is worse. Hers or yours."
"Probably mine. She was right about Snape after all."
"So she got lucky. It was bound to happen eventually. And we're not talking about him anymore, remember?"
"There you are, Harry!" Ron called suddenly as he crossed the library to join Harry and Jaspine. "We've been looking all over the place! Why'd you leave without telling us where you were going? Hey Jaspine, where've you been the last couple of weeks?"
Jaspine shrugged and exchanged annoyed glances with Harry. Harry got the message loud and clear. Oh, no, here they come. Goodbye peace and quiet.
"They've probably been studying, like we ought to be doing," Hermione lectured. "I told Ron you might be in here reading since the weather's too miserable to do much of anything else, but he didn't believe me." Hermione crossed her arms and gave Ron a superior I-told-you-so look.
"You just wanted an excuse to drag me into the library, admit it, Herm," Ron argued, sticking his tongue out at Hermione while Harry groaned inwardly. They were going to drive him bangers! Why couldn't they just come right out and tell each other they were in love instead of...and his jaw dropped mid-thought.
Instead of fighting all the time.
"Blimey, what's the matter with you?" Ron wondered, seeing the expression on Harry's face.
"Nothing," Harry said hollowly. "I'm an idiot. We're all idiots, but other than that, I'm fine. Just fine."
"What's gotten into him?" Ron wondered, looking curiously at Jaspine and pointing a thumb at Harry.
Jaspine shrugged with feigned ignorance. "Feeling under the weather, that's all. We both are. It's right gloomy out there today, isn't it?"
"Yes, I suppose so," Hermione agreed, giving Harry a long calculating stare. "Right gloomy. Especially for a Friday with no Potions class."
Harry's involuntary flinch spoke volumes.
"I think we are intruding on a private conversation. Come on Ron, let's see if we can find a couple of unoccupied chairs at a table somewhere. We have a lot of work to do and only a month until the OWLs." She then gave Harry and Jaspine a cold gaze, turned and stomped off, leaving Ron to decide whether to stay or follow.
"Why is everyone acting so strange today?" Ron wondered. "Am I the only sensible one left who appreciates having half a day off?"
"Ron," Harry said flatly. "I think you had better go with Hermione."
"Well what about you two? Aren't you coming?"
"No," Harry replied in a low voice. "We're...still talking."
"About what?" Ron wondered, hurt creeping into his tone. "Not about the weather! Don't even try telling me that's what you've been sitting here talking about for the last half hour! I'm not that thick!"
"I...I've been thinking of changing my major," Jaspine cut in quickly, shooting a glance toward Harry.
Harry flashed back a thankful half-smile in return.
"You mean you're not going to be an alchemist or work in an apothecary somewhere?" Ron asked incredulously. "But I thought..."
"I don't know what I'm going to do, Carrot Top," Jaspine interrupted testily. "I only put so much time and effort into potions because... well, you know," and she gave Ron an I-can't-talk-about-it-here-you-dolt look.
"Right," Ron said, nodding as he finally caught on. "You're trying to figure out what to do, now that, uh..."
"Yes," Jaspine hissed. "And Harry was just suggesting that I take up teaching."
"Teaching?" echoed Ron with a dubious glance at Harry.
"Uh huh," Harry said with a nod.
"Hmm, well, why not?" Ron decided with a gulp and another glance toward Harry. The glance said quite clearly, "Help! I'm floundering here!" But Harry deliberately ignored it.
"I'll bet you'd be a better teacher than...um, than Snape," Ron said, attempting a compliment and wincing at Jaspine's expression as the intended compliment fell flat on the floor with a resounding thud. "Well, um, I guess I'd better go before Hermione starts complaining that I'm wasting time. If you decide to join us, we'll be over there... somewhere," he said pointing a thumb over his shoulder toward the long study tables.
"We'll think about it," Harry replied in a sour tone of voice that very clearly said, definitely not.
Ron turned away dejectedly, his shoulders slumped and his feelings obviously wounded. Suddenly he whirled back and rounded on his seated friends. "Look, it's been three weeks!" he exclaimed in frustration. "We're still here. He's not, and good riddance. Get over it. Stop sulking all the time! It isn't worth it!"
"Get lost, Weasley," Jaspine snapped, her green eyes flashing with anger. "Some people leave when they realize they're not wanted. And some are stupid enough to stick around until someone gets sick of them and makes them leave."
Ron stared open-mouthed, first at the tall Slytherin, then at his fellow Gryffindor. Harry said nothing, but the silence between the two boys was more potent than the bitterness in Harry's eyes. The red-haired boy's face caved in with hurt and anger.
"Fine," he snapped venomously. "Fine. I see how it is. Why didn't you let the Sorting Hat put you in Slytherin anyway, Harry? I think it would have suited you better!" And with that, he turned on his heel and stomped away.
How is it that that greasy-haired git still manages to make my life miserable even when he isn't here anymore? Harry wondered bitterly, glaring at Ron's back.
End of Chapter 45
"'Harry Potter's Secret Heartache'...dear, dear, Potter, what's ailing you now?” and "'Harry Potter's well-wishers must hope that, next time, he bestows his heart on a worthier candidate.' How very touching.” From Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27, “Padfoot Returns.”