Draco's spell flew past Snape's head and smashed a vase behind him, the shards tinkling gently against the wooden floor. Snape nodded at him and cast a quick reparo charm, sending all the pieces flying back together, reforming the flowery vase as if nothing had ever happened. Draco couldn't help but feel the object looked slightly out of place in Snape's unkempt house on Spinner's End.
Snape had decided to carry out his lessons at his own home and even though there was much less space to dodge and move about, Draco had to admit that it was preferable to his own home. For one, his mother could no longer pop her head around the door to see if they quote 'needed anything' and he didn't have practically every generation of Malfoy glaring down at him and offering their snorts of utter disgust at how bad he was.
"You're getting better," Snape said so quietly that Draco considered that maybe he'd imagined it. He allowed himself to be at least a little bit proud, he had been practising and the small unicorn had taken to watching him with a sort of curious derision.
"I think we will try the Patronus again." Snape drooled, settling down in a high backed armchair, the rich blue fabric looking almost back in the low light and bits of it were torn and frayed. Draco could tell that Snape didn't take much pride in the upkeep of his possessions.
"What?" Draco asked dumbly, his eyes widening in terror. He'd gotten relatively good at keeping his thoughts well and truly out of Snape's reach, but he knew that casting his Patronus would tell Snape all the things he'd been hiding.
Reading more about the Patronus charm had been eye-opening. His tiny unicorn had trotted to his side and peered at the words as Draco groaned into his hands. It was because of Hermione, he knew it. The reason why his dragon looked so out of proportion was because it was changing, changing to match whatever her Patronus was. The unicorn seemed to find this hilarious, as it neighed rather cutely and snorted up at him.
"I will hex you." Draco had threatened, wincing when the animal had headbutted his finger, it's small horn poking his skin painfully.
"When you've quite finished daydreaming." Snape bored voice cut through Draco's thoughts.
"But...but I thought we weren't doing that?" Thought we weren't doing that? Draco could have cursed at his lame argument, wondering when he'd become so inept at functioning like a true Malfoy.
Snape narrowed his eyes at him, his dark eyes glinting dangerously. The sent a chill down Draco's spine and he shivered slightly, there were times when the mere presence of Snape was enough to make him feel a little uneasy.
"And why, pray tell, would you think that?" Snape lifted his eyebrow as he spoke and Draco stared down at his shoes, he found that the Professor was extremely adept at making him feel puny.
"Well...it wasn't-it wasn't exactly a success last time," Draco commented wanting to curse himself again when he heard his own stuttering explanation. He knew he'd cast the spell perfectly, the problem was his feelings, and if he knew that then Snape definitely did.
"You will cast the Patronus Charm." Snape reiterated, his tone of voice suggesting that there was no room for argument.
Draco sighed lifting up his wand. He had a sneaky suspicion that Snape wouldn't be too happy when he saw his Patronus, but Draco found himself struggling to care all that much. His thoughts a taken a rather surprising, stupidly scary turn. What if he just stopped fighting it? He couldn't really see how him suppressing his feelings was doing anyone any good. Sure there was the Dark Lord to worry about, but he'd been defeated before and, considering that potty was always around to save the day, he figured that the Dark Wizards nefarious plans wouldn't really amount to that much. Plus he couldn't stand not talking to her.
He grimaced when he remembered the way Hermione had looked when she'd run for the bathroom. He didn't want to be the reason she looked like that anymore, the idea of hurting her had actually made him feel a little sick. He'd been out the booth and across the room before he'd even had time to realise that he'd moved. He knew he should have been grateful that Pansy had stopped him, but all he really felt was anger. Why couldn't he tell Granger that he felt something for her? Why couldn't he say that it was weird and crazy and made absolutely not one shred of sense, but he found himself thinking about her constantly? He had to admit, the thought of telling her scared him senseless, but not as much as the thought of spending one more minute pretending to be interested in what Daphne Greengrass had to say.
"Any time this side of Christmas would be fantastic." Snape droned, tapping his fingers against the worn arms of the chair.
Draco took a deep breath drawing, thinking about their visit to Hermione's secret haven, smiling when the image of her gazing up at him, a streak of dust on her cheek, flashed into his mind.
"Expecto Patronum." Blue light once again burst out the end of his wand and filled the small room. The dragon had shrunk quite significantly and it looked even less menacing with two round ears either side of its head.
"It's shrunk," Draco commented dumbly. He realised that stating the obvious wasn't going to help the situation and simply offered Snape a rather sheepish smile.
The dark-haired wizard stood so quickly his chair nearly fell back. Reaching into his robes, Snape pulled out his wand pointing it at Draco.
"Legilimens." He shouted it and Draco had absolutely no chance of putting up any defences, he simply shook in horror as Snape filtered through his memories. His recent thoughts of Granger were loud and clear in his mind as if he were thinking them all over again. He rushed to block the wizard out, breathing heavily when Snape's presence retreated from his mind. The older wizard did not look happy.
"Have you learned absolutely nothing?" Snape hissed, his anger practically crackling in the air around him. Draco felt his own anger flare.
"Oh I've heard everything loud and clear, don't do this, don't think that, don't like a girl because my Professor says so." He bit out sarcastically.
"Though you don't deserve it, these things have been said to you for your own good. If you actually listened they stand a chance of keeping you safe." Draco snorted in derision.
"Why do you care?" Snape seems taken aback by the question but narrowed his eyes and carried on.
"It would seem that there isn't very much point, but in answer to your question, it is not me that cares, but your mother."
"What does she know about any of this?" Draco said, not quite able to keep the panic out of his voice. If his mother knew then there was a good chance that his father would find out and he really didn't want to think about how his father would react.
"Nothing, but she wants to keep you safe. I'll let her know how grateful you are." Snape drawled sarcastically, crossing his arms.
"Safe?" Draco scoffed. "Safe? From what? From my feelings?" He shouted in Snape's face.
"You know exactly what your mother is trying to keep you safe from," Snape said in a warning tone.
"What if I don't want to be safe?" He felt as though the walls were closing in around him making it hard to breathe. "What if I don't want any of this? What if I just want to be with her?" His eyes widened when he realised what he'd said, then widened even further when he realised he meant it. With this new realisation, he met Snape's eyes defiantly.
"You can't," Snape said simply and Draco's mouth dropped open.
"You can't tell me what to do." Draco scowled, trying to step around Snape. The wizard moved and blocked his way.
"Whatever it is that you feel for Miss Granger, you need to forget it."
"What if I don't want to?"
"YOU MUST." Draco jumped when Snape shouted in his face.
"Why?" He scowled digging his hands into his pockets, trying to appear calmer than he felt.
"You would not be safe the Dark Lor…"
"I don't care about the Dark Lord." Draco spat, leaning back against the wall. "I don't care about any of his ideals, or what he wants." Snape put his hand on Draco's shoulder, Draco looked at it then back at the dark-haired wizard.
"You would do well to keep such thoughts to yourself."
Snape stepped back when Draco nodded and sighed heavily.
"What happens when the Dark Lord puts his plans into motion and you're are caught between his wishes and a mudblood?" Draco bristled, not liking the fact that Snape had used such a word to describe Hermione, even though he'd used it himself several times.
"I'll deal with it somehow." Draco shrugged. He had no idea how he would deal with it, but he didn't want to focus on that, all he wanted to think about was Hermione Granger and the fact that Snape could not keep him from telling her how he felt.
"It won't work. Whatever plan you formulate, no matter how much you try to keep her safe, none of it will work." Snape said sadly, shaking his head.
"And what do you know? Huh? How can you possibly know what will happen?"
Snape stood very still for a while staring at Draco coldly. Suddenly, he turned on his head and left the room, his black robes billowing behind him. Draco's hands shook as he relaxed his shoulders, only just realising how tense he had become during the exchange. He supposed that he had won the argument, considering Snape's departure and allowed himself a small, shaky smile.
He would tell her how he felt. He would tell her how he felt and deal with the consequences and hope that she would, at the very least, not try to hex him.
Draco jumped as the door banged open and Snape stormed back in, a pensieve floating behind him. The ball settled down on a round table in the corner of the room, a faint mist rising from the top.
"What's that for?" Draco asked, confused.
"Come here," Snape said simply, refusing to look at the boy.
Hesitantly Draco moved to stand beside Snape peering down into the Pensieve, the contents of it moved like a liquid, shimmering as it swirled. It reminded him of the Sensieve and instantly his thoughts turned back to Hermione.
"What you are about to see no person has ever seen before," Snape said slowly, waving his wand over the top of the bowl till the mist cleared. Snape gestured for Draco to look and after only a brief hesitation lowered his head into the bowl.
He felt like he was falling, the small room in Snape's dingey home falling away. When his feet landed on solid ground he was standing in the middle of a street, quaint little cottages lined either side of him. He had no idea where he was and glanced around quickly wondering why exactly he was there. The sky was inky black and there was an uneasy silence in the air as if something terrible had just happened.
Draco jumped when Snape came running past him, his hair much shorter and a look of panic marring is features. Draco wondered what memory Snape would have felt the need to show him, his father had often told him that Snape had been one of the Dark Lord's most loyal followers, so he guessed that he must have seen and done some dreadful things. Perhaps Snape hoped to scare him into listening.
Snape ran into a house whose door was hanging open and Draco rushed in after him. The walls were lined with pictures of a man and a woman, they smiled happily and laughed together. Draco stopped at one of the two of them dancing, the woman's red hair glowing in the setting sun as she tipped back her head and laughed. The man, Draco though, looked strangely familiar though he couldn't tell why.
He felt dread fill his gut when he noticed the man's lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs. His wide open and staring. Snape gave him a passing glance as he stepped over him.
"No, no, no, no, no." He repeated it over and over in panic as he took the stairs two at a time.
Draco paused mid-step when he heard the wai. He recognised the sound of pure grief from his experience of Edward's memories. Edward had screamed that way when he'd seen Mina burn and Draco could not forget the feeling that accompanied it as if his very being was being ripped out of his chest. He remembered the desperation and the helplessness as he watched the woman he loved being torn from him and could do nothing about it.
Draco's couldn't believe the sight that met him when he walked along the hallway and entered the last room. Snape was cradling the lifeless body of the woman from the picture, sobbing into her red hair pitifully, a child was wailing in the cot behind them.
"I'm sorry." He blubbled, clutching onto her as if he was certain it would bring her back to life. "I'm so sorry. Come back to me." The younger Snape begged, his tears wetting her pale face. The child carried on wailing and Snape carried on crying and begging for the woman to wake up and return to him. Draco found himself grateful that he couldn't feel the emotions as it looked as though Snape's world was falling apart behind his eyes.
Quickly the scene disappeared and Draco was back in Snape's small room, an older, less emotional Snape staring at him down the length of his hooked nose. He looked incredibly worn at that moment, his shoulders sagging slightly.
"What...what was that? Where did I go?" Draco said, glancing between Snape and the Pensieve.
"Godric's Hollow," Snape replied, his hands gripping the table till his knuckles turned white.
"That night the Dark Lord set in motion his plan to be rid of anyone that could stop him." It took Draco a rather embarrassingly long time to realise what he was talking about. He understood now why he recognised the man in the picture.
"Potter." He spat.
"Yes, the memory you saw was.." Snape didn't finish, but he didn't have to, Draco understood.
Snape had been in love with Harry's mother and he had tried to protect her.
"You understand now," he said quietly, "you understand why you cannot allow your feelings for Miss Granger to lead anywhere? You will never be safe, she will never be safe."
Draco stared down into the curling misty liquid of the Pensieve, his heart hurting. He knew Snape was right, he couldn't put Granger in danger like that, no matter how he felt about her. Draco nodded slowly.