She tugged nervously on the hem of her overly large t-shirt as she tried to think of a way to rationalise what she had heard, or perhaps convince herself that she hadn't heard it at all.

It was only when she looked up that she was forced to accept the obvious. It was his eyes. They pierced her very soul with their sharp black knives, scraping past any barriers she thought she had erected and seeing all of her. Judging all of her.

"How can you know?" the words slipped like butter from her tongue. And then encouraged by her focusing thoughts, more furiously she added, "How can you tell? How can you know - when everyone else -"

She stopped as her voice broke, her words cut off by her straying mind, it wasn't everyone that she cared about, it was just the one, the one that above all should have been able to tell...

Severus still stood in the same position. Steady and silent, and judging with those hard black eyes. If anything he might have moved backwards from her. Pushing himself against the wall, wanting to be as far from her as possible, like she was dirty.

"Maybe it is my constant association with murderers, or being one myself. Perhaps it makes it easier to recognize one," he sneered at her.

It took her only three strides to cross the room, her hand raised above her to slap his cheek. He caught her before she could of course, his long thin fingers digging bruisingly into her wrist.

Ashamedly she whimpered under his cold malice filled face. She suddenly wished she hadn't crossed the room. Wished she had stayed away, that his face wouldn't be so close right now. That she wouldn't have to see how much he truly despised her ... how much he must blame her.

Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes and he released her, throwing her hand away from his grasp with such force that she almost fell to the ground. She didn't, though she stumbled a little. Her tears chocked her throat and she raised her hands to her face, as much to wipe them away as to block the hateful gaze of the wizard in front of her.

She felt cold. She wished she had taken the time to grab her robe. She wished he would comfort her. She wished he would wrap her in his arms and take away her pain.

But he didn't.

They stood in silence; her erratic sobs the only break to the building tension of the room.

"How could you do this?" Was she talking about the headmaster or herself? She did not know.

She could see him raise an eyebrow, wise to the duplicity of her question. He choose, however, only to answer one side of its plea, "I did kill Albus. I will not deny it, but only know that there was more in play than what Potter witnessed."

"He asked you to it didn't he?" Hermione asked one of the suspicions that had been plaguing her every since Harry had described the pure look of revulsion that had crossed Severus' face as he had cast the curse.

Severus flinched visibly at her words, but did not answer. Hermione thought he need not have too, she could read him better than Harry could, she could see the pain that filled his very being even thinking of that night.

Severus seemed to have taken her silent acceptance as the prompt to end that particular conversation. His eyes hardened once more and his mouth moved, words slipping from his tongue like a well rehearsed speech that needed no thought behind its content.

"I have information for the Order, obviously I am unable to deliver it myself. Therefore, you will give it to them for me." His voice was hard and detached; she scrambled to right herself and allow herself to listen to his words, absorbing them as if it was one of his lectures. "I do not care for what you tell them how you got the information. They might however be reluctant to accept the information from such a source as I for sometime, it hence might be prudent to leave my part out of this for now."

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