Counselling, Slytherin-style. Snape notices that one of his students has withdrawn into herself, and sets out to get to the bottom of it.
“Miss Weasley, stay after class today.”
She stiffened, but did not look up at him. She continued to stare into her cauldron, as resolute and stony-faced as she had been since she and her classmates had returned to Hogwarts for their second year. There was never any idle chatter in his classroom, but she did not even acknowledge the presence of the other students around her. Nor had she protested his command. Professor Snape appreciated acquiescence, but she did not even show dismay. He recognised that look – shuttered, cautious…fearful. That would not do.
The class progressed smoothly; the antidote remained unneeded on his desk. Most of the offerings were mediocre at best – these students were far too careless, lacking the precise movements needed to brew greatness. That, and they had forgotten almost everything he had taught them over the summer. His colleagues said it was humbling – he found it simply frustrating. As they cleaned out their cauldrons and packed away their supplies, he occupied himself at his desk, seemingly ignoring them all. When he saw that all was in order, he dismissed them tersely. They wasted no time in getting out of his classroom. The Weasley girl remained standing by her place, bags packed and ready to leave.
“Be seated.” She complied obediently. He did not wish to intimidate her this time, so he did not stand and hover over her shoulder like a giant bat. Instead, he looked at her across his desk. “Look at me,” he continued. She looked up, cautiously. “Miss Weasley, this is not the behaviour I am accustomed to seeing from you. I would like an explanation, but I must warn you that I am not ignorant of the events of last year.”
She shot him a frightened look. Clearly, she did not want to talk about that. But this was not about what she wanted.
“Do you have any classes before lunch?” he asked her, knowing the answer already. She shook her head no. “Neither do I. So, tell me why it is that you are moving about this school like a scared rabbit?”
“I…I don’t know, sir,” she said timidly.
“Yes, you do, and I do not appreciate being lied to.”
She flinched. “It’s just…being back here,” she ventured. “Last June, everything was just… I was relieved it was over, just happy to be alive.” She stopped.
“And now?” he prompted. He was as prickly and demanding as ever – not the confidante she would have chosen! But he gave her little choice, staring at her unblinkingly with those cold, dark eyes.
“Now, I can’t help thinking, what awful things I did. Every time I look at my classmates, I think – well, I could have killed them!”
“I see.” No ‘It’s not your fault.’ Just, ‘I see.’
“I didn’t want to!” she insisted. “I never wanted to hurt anyone.”
“And you did not. At least, not permanently. So, are you just feeling sorry for yourself?”
“No! How dare you? I –“ She froze, looking panicked about talking to him that way. “I didn’t mean that, sir,” she said quickly.
“Yes, you did,” he said with a slow smile. “So tell me, what is it really? What are you so afraid of, Miss Weasley?”
She looked down, and shook her head, blushing.
“Look at me.”
Unwillingly, she raised her face and met his eyes. “I can’t tell you,” she whispered.
“But you must. If not…there are ways of magically revealing your deepest fears for all to see. Did you know that, Miss Weasley?”
She shook her head, and tried to speak. “I…I…” She looked down, her lip starting to quiver.
“I do not tolerate students blubbing in front of me.”
Her eyes met his in a glare. “I don’t cry in front of teachers, or boys,” she said.
“You miss him?” he asked in surprise.
“What? How did you know?” She jumped out of her seat and took a step backwards.
“Sit down, Miss Weasley.” His voice was inexorable – there was nothing for it but to obey.
“I…I haven’t told anyone,” she insisted. “How…how did you find out?”
He ignored her. “You had best explain yourself.”
“I can’t help it!” she said miserably. “Last year, I … whenever I wanted to talk to someone, I wrote to him. And he was so…so…so understanding! He was my best friend. And now he’s gone and I’m all alone and I know I’m an awful person but I don’t care!” she said in a rush. “I m…m…miss him anyway.”
“He used you.”
“I know! But I still… I still… oh, what’s the use? You wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be alone.”
“Tell me about him, then.”
She looked frightened again. “Nobody wants to know that part,” she said uncertainly.
“I do,” he said, his voice sincere.
“Well, he…he was like an older brother.” Her mouth twitched. “Not at all like Percy – he reminded me more of Bill, always looking out for me, having answers for everything. He was just like any other student here, except it was so long ago…. He would ask me questions. He was always… interested in anything I wanted to tell him about. And he would…teach me things,” she finished in a whisper.
“What sorts of things?”
“History. Magic. How to get people to do what I wanted them to. I was such a fool,” she added bitterly.
“Amazing. He was already like that as a young man,” Snape said quietly.
Ginny looked up in surprise. “Did you know him, Professor?”
Now it was his turn to look startled. He sneered at her. “What kind of magic did he teach you?”
“N-not much. It…it wasn’t dark magic. I mean, I was only eleven!”
“And you will grow to be much older some day. Age is no excuse, Miss Weasley. Now what did he teach you?”
“Well, the first spell was the Bat-bogey Hex.”
“Hardly Dark Magic,” he scoffed.
“He was going to teach me how to block it, but we never got that far.”
“He helped me with Transfiguration. I…I would write to him while I was studying.”
“Did he ever help you with Potions?” he asked immediately.
She shook her head no. “Only once. He answered my questions about the properties of venoms for one of the essays.”
Snape nodded thoughtfully, but said nothing.
“Sir…we didn’t talk much about schoolwork – it was a diary.”
“You are lucky you are not in my House, because cheating in your classwork is not tolerated – you would be expelled.”
She gulped, but did not look intimidated. “He wasn’t expelled. He was Head Boy.”
“And I was not his Head of House. Do you think I was even alive fifty years ago, you silly girl? Now stop avoiding the issue – did he teach you how the diary worked?”
“No, never. I asked him a couple of times, but he just made a joke about it and ignored me.”
“So you cannot make one of your own – you are quite sure?”
“No sir,” she said miserably.
“Explain to me how it worked.”
“I would write in it, with regular ink – usually black, but sometimes red or green. And then the ink would fade away, and reappear as… as his words to me. It seemed like a mirror or a portrait. I never thought…”
“That much is abundantly clear.”
She stopped as if slapped. The cold damp of the dungeons was seeping into her bones – never had she been down here for so long. She reminded herself that she never wanted to have detention with this man.
“And you told the Headmaster you could not remember what you did,” he added condescendingly.
“I can’t! Even now, I don’t remember where I got the paint. It was like…waking up...afterwards.” She shivered. She hated the cold. There was something she did remember…. “Except the last time. He…he did not let me forget that. It was…it was like watching someone else make my arms and legs move. I must have… gone down there… before… but… the last time was the only one I r-remembered. But that time, it was like falling asleep, while he…he woke up.”
“Could you go back there?”
“No! He…he did something special, he had to say something to get down there. I don’t know what it was.”
“Look at me, Miss Weasley.” She complied. “If I ever find that you are lying to me about this, expulsion from this school will be the least of your worries.”
She nodded earnestly. “I am not lying,” she said quietly.
“Good – then you are no danger to your classmates and can stop acting as though you fear to give them a plague of dragon-pox. You may still have time to catch lunch. Dismissed.”
She stood up in shock, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. Then without a word, she fled the dungeons.
He smiled at her retreating back. Most enlightening.
*** *** ***
Ginny most certainly does cry, in front of both boys and teachers, at the end of CoS. Excuse her bravada here.
Snape was not present when Harry told his story - only Dumbledore, McGonagall, and the Weasleys were. So, this conversation depends very much upon Snape's abilities at Legilimency...because we *know* Dumbledore didn't tell him anything! I am presuming that he was privy to the information that LV was behind the attacks during the year, but that is all.
Thank you for reading - hope you enjoyed!