“All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.” -Aristotle
With some trepidation, the three heroes entered the courtroom for one last time. At first, Rowena Snape did not notice them but, as Ron mumbled something along the lines of “Here we go again”, she looked up and saw them. They looked back at her. That day she was wearing emerald robes, with a high collar trimmed in gold, which set off the color of her eyes marvelously. She nodded her head in recognition.
“Hello,” Hermione offered, weakly.
“Good morning,” she replied, simply.
Ron, Harry and Hermione took their seats on the dais. Rowena Snape proceeded to open a book on her lap and read.
“Still think she’s beautiful?” Hermione whispered to Ron.
“I don’t get how she can look like that if Snape is her brother,” he replied. “He must have been hit with a real nasty Disfigurement Curse as a kid or something. She looks like Snow White and he‘s evil.”
Harry suppressed a chuckle, as he and Ron grinned evilly.
“Oh, come on, he doesn’t look too different from his sister,” Hermione replied.
The boys looked as though their grins had been struck right off their faces.
“How so, Hermione?” Ron asked, gritting his teeth.
“I think that if he took the time to make himself look presentable, he would look a lot like her. They’re both fair skinned. She has the same dark hair as him, although she seems to know how to style hers, and they’re both rather thin…”
“Whoa!” Harry interrupted. “Have you been actually thinking about Snape? Snape?!”
“Well don’t you think we ought to think about him? In a matter of hours we have to decide his future. Isn’t that a valid reason to think about someone?” she retorted.
The boys turned away from Hermione and continued on with their conversation. Hermione contented herself by fidgeting with the hem on her sleeve and casting occasional glances at the spectators benches, which were slowly beginning to fill. Witches and wizards of all kinds trickled into the benches. Soon, the room was almost entirely full but no one sat within five seats of Rowena Snape.
At noon, and not a minute past, the Chief Wizard of the Wizengamot rose from his seat on the dais and made a gesture for the Aurors to bring in Severus Snape. He trudged in, with a slight limp. He appeared to be in worse shape than the day before; his eyes were sunken in, his skin bruised, and his hair was disastrous. Hermione watched as he scanned the crowd and rested his gaze firmly upon his sister, who was sitting up straight, but looking as if she could collapse at any given moment.
“Witches and wizards, we are assembled here today to conclude the trial of Severus Snape, for the murder of Albus Dumbledore. In light of yesterday’s testimony, this decision cannot be a simple one. The fate of a man’s life rests in our hands today. We will now accept one final statement from the accused before our vote,” the Chief Wizard stated.
Severus Snape appeared to compose himself. He took some time to think about what he would say. At last, he cleared his throat and began his final statement to the Wizengamot.
“I did kill Albus Dumbledore,” Snape said in a low gravelly voice. “However, I did so only as a result of an Unbreakable Vow I took. I did not enjoy my task, and the guilt of what I did haunts me still. Now, my guilt for my actions is greater than ever, as I seen the pain I have caused my younger sister. I have brought her pain and she does not deserve any more pain in her life. Rowena,” he turned to face her in the crowds, “I’m deeply sorry.”
Hermione felt a hot tear streak down her cheek. She watched Rowena Snape bow her head to her brother in understanding. In that instant, Hermione knew she had to vote to set him free, not only for his sister but also for the affections that she was developing for him in that very instant.
“Is that all you have to state, Mr. Snape?” the Chief Wizard asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Then, we shall go to the vote. I trust that every witch and wizard on the Wizengamot today has thought carefully on their decision. If you wish to acquit Mr. Snape of his crimes, you will send white sparks from your wand. If you wish to convict Mr. Snape, you will issue red sparks from your wand. We will begin on the left of dais and proceed right; the vote will begin with me and end with Ms. Granger.”
One by one, the witches and wizards on the dais cast their vote. Acquittal was up by two votes until both Harry and Ron issued red sparks from their wands. Hermione quickly realized that it all came down to her. She looked to both Ron and Harry, then to Snape and his sister, before issuing brilliant white sparks from her wand.
The courtroom was electrified. A few spectators cried out remarks of injustice and slander. Ron and Harry glared at Hermione in anger and slight confusion.
“Severus Snape,” the Chief Wizard boomed over all the commotion, “you are a free man. You will be permitted to leave the courtroom, with your sister, after we have cleared the spectators. I suggest that from now on you do not enter into any more questionable vows.”
The crowds were cleared quickly by the Aurors, in fear that there would be some sort of retaliation. Rowena Snape sat patiently in her seat, until the room was empty, then made her way to her brother, who was still chained. An Auror quickly rushed over and unchained him with a short ‘Sorry ma’am’. She wasted no time in transfiguring his prison uniform into a neat black robe, for which he seemed to be thankful. The Chief Wizard informed them that Snape could retrieve his wand at the Ministry’s claims office, as soon as he liked.
As they passed by the dais, on their way to freedom, Severus Snape held onto his sister’s shoulder for support, as his hip seemed to be badly bruised. Ron did little to contain his look of disgust as they passed him, and stopped in front of Hermione.
“Thank you very much,” Rowena Snape offered.
“You’re welcome,” Hermione replied, not only to Rowena but also to Severus. He made eye contact with her and for the briefest moment, she feared he would read her thoughts and laugh at her sudden crush on him.
However, Severus Snape did neither of those things. He and his sister continued out of the courtroom without event.
Later that day, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Harry arrived at Diagon Alley with Mrs. Weasley, to do some much needed back to school shopping. Mrs. Weasley went off to buy the necessary items and sent the teens off to shop for some new robes.
On the way to Madam Malkin’s, Ron was spotted by Lavender Brown who flirted shamelessly with him, before asking him to get some ice cream with her at Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. Ron practically skipped off, unable to contain his joy. Ginny and Harry could barely keep their hands off each other during their robe fitting, until Madam Malkin had to ask them to cut it out. Hermione quickly realized that she had little patience for the couple’s canoodling today and decided to go off shopping by herself. Stopping into Flourish and Blotts, Hermione ran into Professor McGonagall, who was purchasing a pack of new quills.
“There’s our new Head Girl! How are you?” McGonagall inquired.
“I’m doing quite well. How are the preparations for the new school year going?” Hermione asked the Headmistress.
“Much better now. Severus, I mean Professor Snape, has agreed to come back to teach Potions, which is very good because I couldn’t find a replacement. I reckon he has to take the job, because he doesn’t think anyone else will hire him.”
Hermione was about to respond when Ron, Harry, and Ginny ran up behind her.
“Afternoon Professor,” they said in unison.
“Come on, ‘Mione, Mum says we have to go,” Ginny said as they grabbed her and ran off to Mrs. Weasley, who was waiting impatiently at the Floo terminal.