Continuing Tales

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 3 of 27

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Minerva looks up with a tired smile when Hermione enters for their regular Wednesday check-in. A conscientious Headmistress, Minerva meets with each of her teachers every week if she can.

Hermione pours the tea, fixes Minerva's the way she likes it and hands it to her. Minerva picks it up left handed and sips, her withered right hand lying in her lap. She's gotten fairly good with a wand in her left hand since the final battle, but her Heads of House have to keep up the castle wards for her.

"Draco says neither of you will flee the country if they pass the law."

"We'll stay."

"I'm glad I won't have to replace the two of you."

"They might not pass it."

"I think your young man is hoping they do."

"He's not 'my young man,' Minerva."

"All right, I'll mind my own business."

"Thank you," Hermione says, then, "I told the fourth years about the time I almost cast the Cruciatus." She glances at Snape's portrait. He's watching, listening, as he usually is when she's in here. He never speaks though. Minerva says he hasn't, not once, since his portrait animated. He won't even talk to Malfoy, his own godson. Hermione is pretty annoyed with him about that.

"I thought," Minerva begins, but then Pomona's Patronus appears, asking the Headmistress to come quickly. "Wait for me here, if you can, Hermione," Minerva says, leaving her alone in the office. Well, as alone as you can be with a lot of sentient oil on canvas watching you.

"Do you think it was wise to tell students as young as fourth year about that?" Albus asks from his frame.

"Bugger off," Hermione tells him. Snape's portrait smirks.

"Now, now, my dear," Albus soothes.

"Don't 'my dear' me, you manipulative old bastard. I know Minerva likes you, but I think you're the greatest git of all time."

Snape barks out a laugh. "I thought I had that title."

"You don't even make the top ten," she says, trying not to look shocked that he is actually talking to her.


"No. Actually, I suppose Riddle tops the list. Albus is number two."

Snape throws back his painted head and laughs. Hermione tries not to stare. In life, she saw him smirk often, and almost smile once or twice, but never laugh.

"Who are the rest of the list?"

"Well, Malfoy pere et fils started out as three and four, and the order was a close thing, but they've dropped off now, Lucius because he's a broken man who's suffered enough, and Draco…"

"And Draco?"

"Why won't you talk to him?"

He scowls.

"He doesn't have a lot of people who care about him, and his godfather's rejection hurts."

"And this concerns you because…?"

"You'll find this hard to believe, Headmaster, but Malfoy is my best friend now. Actually my only friend, so best by default. Most of my friends are dead. Ginny stumbles through life like a zombie, George is drunk most of the time, and Parkinson won't let Neville off his leash long enough to see me."

"Don't call me that," he says.


"Headmaster," he says. "I never deserved the title, not when the Dark Lord is the one who gave it to me."

"You earned it when you spent a year protecting students while everyone hated you."

"Hear, hear," Albus says.

"Did anyone invite you to join this conversation?" Hermione says. "You can fuck right off, Number Two."

Snape laughs again, a real, laugh, a belly laugh, deep and rich. His dark eyes crinkle and Hermione finds her own filling with tears.

Snape stops laughing. "What's wrong?" he asks.

"I wish I could have seen you laugh when you were alive. I wish I'd known you better." She shakes her head. "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride, as my grandmother used to say."

"Indeed," Snape says.

"As long as I'm being ridiculous, I wish there was a Time Turner that would let me go back and fix all this, so that Harry and Ron weren't dead, and Malfoy wasn't branded by a psychopath at sixteen, and my parents weren't Obliviated, and Minerva had her wand arm back, and you weren't dead, Professor."

"Actually," Albus begins.

"I distinctly heard Professor Granger tell you to fuck off," Snape says.

"But there is such a Time Turner," Albus says.

"Then why didn't you tell anyone? Why didn't you fix things?" Hermione practically sobs.

"Be glad he didn't," Snape sneers. "Can you imagine how badly he'd have bollocksed it up if he had?"

"Right," Hermione agrees. "He sent a child – a child – to hunt Horcruxes, instead of telling you about them."

"Until it was too late," Snape says. "That ridiculous fiasco with the fake locket in the cave was entirely avoidable. I created that potion, and I never gave that madman anything for which I hadn't already created an antidote."

"Hmpf," Albus grumbles.

"But that isn't the worst of it." After four years of silence, Snape is on a tear. "The absolute fucking worst is that there's a potion that can remove a Horcrux from a living being."

Hermione feels lightheaded. "You mean Harry didn't have to die?"


"You mean this sodding bastard killed my best friend because he had to play cloak and dagger –"

"Because he's a drama queen, yes."

"I hardly think," Albus began.

On a bit of a tear herself, Hermione steamrolls right over him. "…instead of telling his own spy, whom he supposedly trusted, who knew more about Dark Magic than probably anyone alive?"

"Ten points to Gryffindor."

Minerva opens the door and walks to her desk. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting so long, Hermione."

Snape's features settle into their usual neutral expression. Albus looks like he wants to say something but thinks better of it. Minerva is clearly worn out by whatever fire she had to put out.

"Shall we have our chat another time, Minerva?" Hermione suggests.

"Yes, dear. If you don't mind."

Hermione glares at Dumbledore's portrait. It's his fault Minerva looks old and exhausted and frail. She isn't old enough to look this way. She shouldn't look this way. But the war chewed her up and spit her out just as it did the rest of them, the living and the dead.

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 3 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>