Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.

 

Chapter 2: Weasley Encounters

 

I stumbled into a living room, and was met by Weasley’s charming voice: “What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Clearly, I have come to slice you all into a stew as a birthday present for the Dark Lord, Weasley. I’d thank...”

Before I could continue, Mr. Potter stepped into the room behind me. I had managed to forget my ‘altered circumstances’, but his presence served as a sharp reminder. I turned to him rather grimly. No guesses as to whom he would support in this argument.

But he didn’t mention the interaction with Weasley.

“You can take the room at the far end of the corridor. Why don’t you go unpack so long?”

I half bowed, not trusting myself to speak, and set off in the indicated direction. It was just as well he hadn’t said anything. If he thought I was going to be voluntarily obsequious to the other two spokes of the tripod, he was utterly delusional. I’d obey his orders, but anything else…

The memory of Albus’s words drifted through my head: ‘…devote your whole mind and soul to this new service…’

Damn the man. Curse his soul to the depths of the lowest hells. How dare he?

I unpacked my bags, my whole body shaking. Everything was placed into position with the utmost care lest I break something.

At last I collapsed into a chair, drained. I had to get a hold of myself – I couldn’t let Mr. Potter see me in this condition. At least my eyes were dry. I hadn’t cried in more years than I could remember, and I was not about to start now, no matter how dismal my prospects. Eighteen years behind; one hundred or more ahead… I sternly reminded myself not to think about the future. One day at a time – it was the only way I managed to continue. And it was time to get on with that continuing. With ‘my whole mind and soul’.

I followed the voices to what appeared to be a study, and quietly knocked on the door. After a pause, Mr. Potter’s rather startled voice asked me to enter.

“I have finished unpacking, Mr. Potter.”

I braced myself, and turned to Weasley. I had done harder things before; I could do this.

“Mr. Weasley. I ask your pardon for my words earlier. They were uncalled for and discourteous. I’m afraid I have some bad habits from our earlier acquaintance, but I can assure you, it will not happen again.”

His face took on an even more stupid expression than usual. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself asking whether he was attempting to catch flies. Perhaps I had given that assurance too rapidly.

Without taking his eyes form me, he whispered over to Mr. Potter, as if he wasn’t still perfectly audible to me.

“Um… Harry? Exactly what oath did Snape swear to you?”

“Fidas serbas, or something like that.”

Fidus Servus?” Weasley’s voice hit the upper registers.

“That sounds about right. Why?”

I was entertained by the sight of Weasley going a sickly shade of green. I admit I had been expecting something more along the lines of gleeful laughter.

The oath wouldn’t have been covered in school, but all the older families would have been familiar with it. It was powerful enough to for its continual usage to be assured, although it was never very common. The oath suffered from one major flaw – it wore thin without physical proximity between the two participants. A separation of as little as forty-eight hours could break it entirely.

“Well, that’s a fairly… dramatic oath, Harry,” piped up Little-Miss-Know-It-All.

“Huh?”

I took it from that inelegant grunt that the Headmaster hadn’t deigned to inform Mr. Potter of the full meaning of our new relationship. How delightful. Even after all he had done to me, I had not thought Albus Dumbledore would be cruel enough to me as to send Mr. Potter into this situation blind. Especially after ensuring that I could not take advantage of his ignorance.

The other two were quick enough to remedy the situation.

“Well, he’ll obey your orders. Even the ‘reach into a burning fire’ kind.”

“Or even the ‘crawl over here on hands and knees’ kind.”

Trust Weasley to be thinking along those lines. For pure vindictiveness, Weasley would have made a good Slytherin. Of course, he lacked the subtlety to actually make it effective.

“Professor Snape?” asked Mr. Potter.

“Was that an order, sir?” I kept my face expressionless. As always, I would not allow anyone the satisfaction of seeing my emotions.

“No! Ummm… but you’d obey it if it was?”

“Yes, sir.” It wasn’t as if I’d have much choice in the matter, was it?

“You accepted some-one’s oath without first finding out the implications of it? Honestly, Harry, I would have thought that all these years would have taught you a little caution, if not responsibility…”

“But that’s what I have you for, Hermione.  And you do such a good job of keeping us out of trouble, too.”

This cloying scene was going to defeat the best of my intentions, and I didn’t have an excessive supply of those. I cleared my throat.

Mr. Potter turned to me as if he was surprised I was even in the room.

“Will Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger be staying for supper?”

“I don’t know. Are you?”

“Sorry, Harry, but not today. I wish we weren’t leaving you alone so soon, but we promised Ron’s mother we’d join her tonight.”

“Shall I serve dinner at seven, then, Mr. Potter?”

“Um, yeh, okay.”

Ah, the eloquence of youth. I conducted a hasty retreat, and went in search of the kitchen. Despite the circumstances, cooking would never be a menial task to me. With any luck, it would settle my nerves a bit. I hated been this close to being out of control.  And it would be interesting to see what Albus considered to be appropriate supplies. Probably a lifetime’s supply of muggle candy.

 

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