Defense Against the Dark Arts, shared with the Slytherins, ought to prove interesting this year. The normal teacher, Quirrell, had taken the year off to travel to the Black Forest and acquire some hands-on experience combating the Dark Arts. That was the rumor among the Ravenclaws, at least, most of whom were happy he was absent. His substitute was a woman, Angelique Falchion – who had attended Hogwarts, was a Ravenclaw, and already had experience battling the Dark Arts.
Arelia sat in the Great Hall at breakfast and stirred her coffee as she watched a few students dart between the tables, whispering.
In fine Hogwarts tradition, the rumor mill had tried to dig up either juice or dirt on the newest member of the staff but so far, the only credible rumor about her was that she had just gotten married and intended to give up teaching when Quirrell returned. Yet she had been Head Girl in her seventh year, had spent some years as an Auror at the Ministry, and was generally considered one of the most talented students the school had ever produced.
These were credentials enough for Arelia, although her male peers tended to add that the woman was gorgeous and that it was too bad she was married. Carine had told Arelia that the Slytherin boys were in a flurry over her, too. They’d given up trying to invent slander quickly enough, anyway.
Carine had delivered this news without her usual delight in fresh gossip, though. Arelia had tried to find out what might be bothering her, but the feisty blonde remained uncharacteristically quiet in the first week of school. She hadn’t even tried to spend time with her over the weekend, even to further the ends of her current evil plot to transform Arelia into a sexual butterfly newly out of her bookworm cocoon.
As it was, she felt unfinished. The new hairstyle and clothes remade her appearance, but she had never been able to adopt or mimic Carine’s feminine whiles, let alone her casual sensuality and confidence.
I’ve been too sheltered, I guess – but I wanted to be. Books were more useful than boyfriends and knowledge more alluring than love. She smiled. Good thing. I’m going to be swamped with knowledge this year.
Her schedule wasn’t that grueling but the classes were the toughest Hogwarts could throw at her. Defense Against the Dark Arts on Monday, after Potions. Transfiguration and History of Magic on Tuesday, Ancient Runes and Herbology on Wednesday, Care of Magical Creatures and Charms on Thursday, and wrapping up with Arithmancy and Astrology on Friday. Not much room for becoming a wanton temptress in that line-up.
Carine’s blunt advice since fifth year, ‘Just do it, already’, echoed. Yet it was easier, and less intimidating, to listen to her friend’s exploits than to initiate her own. The tales were entertaining, too. Carine had claimed to lay siege to the privacy curtains of the upperclassmen in her house since she was fifteen, and she never seemed to bother with such pleasantries as dating.
I don’t think I can do that. She sighed. I don’t really want a steady, though. What’s the middle ground? Carine would have made a joke about Snape being fertile middle ground. What’s gotten her so down, and why won’t she talk to me?
Arelia glanced over at the Slytherin table. Carine was there but she still seemed out of sorts.
The newly appointed Head Boy Beldon stopped beside her and asked, “What’s wrong with your pet Slytherin?”
“That’s not what I heard.”
She glared up at him. “What did you hear?”
“That she’s got her hands full this year, worse than usual. The Slytherin grunts seem to be out to claim her affections exclusively.”
“What on earth does that mean?”
“You didn’t know they were putting the squeeze on any other guy who’s ever gone sniffing after her? Two of the brutes punched Kenneth down behind the greenhouses just last night. You’d have heard about it if you ever hung out in the common room, instead of the library. If you’re her friend, why don’t you ask her to call off her dogs?”
“I doubt if she asked them to beat up Kenneth. She liked him.”
“Operative word: liked. As in doesn’t anymore. Would you just ask her to call them off? It’s hard enough to keep the peace around here without the annual Slytherin brute squad displays. If I have to ask her, it’ll cost her house a lot of points.”
Arelia smiled, part charming, and part a threat. “I’ll ask. No problem. But I wouldn’t worry, Beldon. You probably aren’t next for a rough up. She wasn’t impressed enough with you to bother.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you could be implying,” he replied, his chin rising.
“I’m her friend, remember? She tells me all about her trysts – grades them, too.” She winked at him, finished her coffee, and left him gaping like a hooked fish.
Arelia hadn’t seen Kenneth at breakfast or she would have asked him if the story was true. She went to speak to Carine before heading to Potions. The blonde was just standing up, so they walked out into the entrance hall together in silence. She couldn’t help but notice that most of the boys at Carine’s table watched them go with more interest than usual.
“Don’t start asking me endless crap about your precious Kenneth,” Carine said. She spoke quietly but her tone was acidic. “I didn’t sick the goons on him.”
“He might be a Ravenclaw, but he was your precious Kenneth. You gave him an O for outstanding, as I recall, and rhapsodized for weeks about how he made the models in the Astronomy tower ring.” Arelia steered her over to one side of the hall, away from the trickling stream of students exiting from breakfast. “What is it? Is one of those Neanderthals staking you out as his, like it or not?”
The emerald eyes darted back and forth before she would look at her again. “Yes,” she whispered. “It’s Marcus, but it’s okay – I want to be with him.”
“Decker Marcus? The infamous prefect, the Hound of Hell? Carine, come on – how many times have you told me you wouldn’t stoop to let him kiss your boot?”
“I changed my mind.”
“I have to get to Transfiguration. That Gryffindor harridan has it in for me already.”
“So does Sir Beldon. He wanted me to ask you to call off your dogs.”
“Tell him where to stick it for me, would you? In case he can’t remember?”
Arelia stared after her. What the hell is the problem? She can’t just ignore Marcus since we were all eleven and then suddenly fall in love with the reprobate? Sighing, she turned to head down to the dungeons. Maybe I could speak to Professor Snape about it? He is her Head of House. If he can’t make those fools behave, no one can. Question is, will he care if they’re beating up Ravenclaw Seekers?
She frowned as she entered the Potions classroom. Snape’s habit of letting his house do whatever they liked was legendary.
As it happened, she was so preoccupied between Carine’s attitude and the heavy demands of a N.E.W.T. level Potions class, she didn’t even notice that her ersatz Hufflepuff Quidditch Captain had chosen a seat next to her since the first class.
“Leave him alone, Hayden!” Carine yelled, fingers pale in a hard grip on her book bag.
A door opened beside her and her hulking housemate, and McGonagall frowned at them both. “Your next class is about to begin. Please head there and stop disrupting mine.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hayden said, sketching a mock bow.
Carine whirled and walked away. The head of the unofficial Slytherin brute squad stalked after her.
“Ruddy Seeker had it coming,” he muttered in her wake.
“Kenneth didn’t do anything. He was saying hello, not asking me out.”
“Saying hello can lead a lot of places. The Astronomy tower, under the bleachers in the Quidditch field … did I forget one?”
Carine stopped and faced him, hugging the book bag to her chest. “Please Hayden – does it have to be settled with fists? I know – where I stand … and with whom. I’m not out to cheat the system. Please call them off.”
The massive boy with the straggling blond hair smirked. “Wow. Please. Too bad you’re off the menu, Lachlan, I could let you convince me to be nice to your boyfriend.”
She bridled at that. “I bet this trick goes both ways, you bastard. You might want to think about that before you tick off the new Tutor. Snape wouldn’t want me distracted by such petty concerns, would he?” For the first time in a week, she felt her old grin spreading impulsively over her face as the fool paled at her threat. Whether or not it really did work that way, he obviously believed it might.
They trooped into their Double D.A.D.A. class just ahead of the bell. Carine took her seat next to Arelia and gave the girl a slight smile.
“Carine, I’m sorry if I upset you earlier,” she whispered.
Touching her friend’s shoulder, Carine shook her head. “You didn’t, and I’m sorry for shutting you out. It’s just – some problems are Slytherin issues and I can’t discuss them, but I think I got Hayden off Kenneth’s back.”
“Thank you.” Arelia smiled. “I couldn’t wait to tell you, so you could gloat and tease me – Snape set up a meeting with me for the end of the day. He said it was about class, but I don’t see why he’d need to talk to me about that.”
“Oh,” she replied, forgetting to sound intrigued. As Arelia watched her with concern, she added, “Will you have time to change before you see him?”
“I guess, why?”
“Meet me before the last class. I need to discuss a brand new evil plot, and we can work in an appropriate outfit for your rendezvous, too.”
Arelia was about to reply when Professor Falchion entered and called the class to order. Carine watched her as eagerly as the rest in spite of herself. If anything Arelia had said about the woman was true, she was more than a pretty face.
Maybe she’ll teach us some spells that blast idiot Slytherin giants into ash? McGonagall wasn’t any help. She acted as if transfiguring Hayden into an umbrella stand would be a bad thing.
~ ~ ~
The girls met in the courtyard and sat on a bench in front of the fountain. Carine took Arelia’s hands in hers and grinned her habitual wicked grin.
“Here’s the plot. We make a bet: first one to make Snape fall in love with her, and then break his heart, wins.”
“You are barking mad. I can’t even dignify that with honest shock.”
“You’re crazy! Have you forgotten that we both take his class? Even leaving out the idea that he’s a teacher, toying with the man isn’t a great plan if you want to get high marks on your Potions N.E.W.T.!”
“You always bring up the teacher angle. Yeah, we’d have to keep it under wraps, but we’re eighteen, it’s not like they can drag him off to Azkaban for it. Haven’t you progressed to imagining him with you deep in the lonely nights?” When Arelia blushed and stared at her, she pounced. “I knew it! Arelia, listen. You don’t know him like I do. He’s not worth throwing your heart at, but you would be the best bait in the world for my plot. Look at how he stares at you – and now a private meeting?”
“He didn’t say it was private.”
“The man isn’t famous for public ones – especially with gorgeous females.”
“I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to play with him, not like that. We may as well go poke a Norwegian Ridgeback with a pointy stick.”
Carine smiled. “Appropriate choice. Here be dragons. That adventure you claimed to want doesn’t begin until you walk off the edge of the map.”
“Have you forgotten ‘Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus’?”
“We’re not going to tickle him. We’re going to reel him in and gaff him.”
“Mixing metaphors for effect isn’t going to convince me. Why are you suddenly out to get him?”
“I’m not!” Carine rearranged her expression into one of pure mischief. “I want to leave school with a bang. I always have, you know that. He’d love it, too. I doubt if we’d actually get anywhere, with the gaffing part, but aren’t you always saying it’s good to have long-range goals?”
“About our future. If we make that man seriously angry, we might not have one.”
“Please. He can’t really hurt us.”
“He can hurt our grades.”
“Look,” she said, pouring all of her skill at persuasion into her voice and eyes, “he won’t be angry. He likes sex, you know. It doesn’t tend to make him mad.”
“So you think we should both, for the total hell of it, just start sleeping with the man?”
“Still trying to pretend you don’t want to?”
“That’s not the point. It’s stupid to try and hurt him.”
“What if you just take him on first, and then see if you’re inclined to try my bet after?”
“You seem to have faith in his ability to inspire vengeance.”
Carine shrugged and smiled. “Maybe I’m just trying to get you to toss off that stubborn virginity.”
“And is Snape really a wise choice for that? I’d want someone –”
“Nice. Spare me. Nice is fine if you want a boyfriend. You don’t. What’s next on the agenda? Experience life. Go crazy. Have some deviant fun. Your speech, am I right? So are you all talk?”
“No!” She looked around, startled, and lowered her voice. “No. I’m just – a little afraid of him.”
“You can’t argue he’s the perfect man for the job, though: older, experienced, rumored to be damn good, and not going to tie strings on you afterward.”
Ticking points off on fingers, Arelia added, “Vicious, cruel, moody, unpleasant, and incapable of kindness.”
“Kindness makes a lousy lover. The real adepts are not the boys next door.”
Arelia fidgeted. “I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t even get interested in – you know – unless I think of him.”
Carine grinned. “You’ve been too long at flying practice. A real Quidditch match is a lot more fun.” Her fingers pressed Arelia’s gently. “So – what do you think?”
“Okay. I’ll go for the – Quidditch – but I’m not agreeing to the gaffing thing.”
“Fine, no problem. Now let’s discuss your outfit for this initial foray.”
“Well you don’t expect him to just jump you the minute you walk in, do you? You’ll have to work at it a little. Make him want to. For that, the proper outfit is vital.”
“God help me,” Arelia whispered and smiled. “I’m all yours. Teach me your wisdom.”
All that and more, my girl. Carine smiled sweetly back as she began to discuss clothes. Give it time. You’ll take my bet. I do have faith in him for that.
“Posturing to prove you still possess power in this arrangement is really not necessary. It’s also a waste of time. My time.” Severus frowned at the girl as he settled more deeply into the mound of pillows against the headboard. “Come back to bed, Miss Lachlan.”
“Won’t you answer my question?” She seemed to consciously make her body drop its defiant stance and assume a more alluring pose. “Hayden importuned me himself. Are you going to let him get away with it?”
“I might. You shouldn’t be discussing the matter at all. Not with him, and not with willowy princesses, either.”
“I haven’t told Arelia about us.”
“‘Us’,” he sneered. “Let me instruct you a moment on the usage of that word. It doesn’t exist. Not in this room. Now – come – here.”
She moved to his side like a petulant child, which was a charming look on her pouting coral lips. He watched her slim but amply endowed body, just slightly tanned, with the evaluating expression of any surveyor of fine things.
The glint in her eye does not detract, however. I do enjoy her perverse stubborn nature. After all, who wants a hippogriff anyone could ride?
“I just hoped you might bring him down a peg or two,” she wheedled, apparently not willing to give up.
Severus smiled. “Earn it.”
Her face melted into a new expression of ravenous desire as she reached for him and bent her head down. A true changeling, she could appear however she wished to, regardless of what his Legilimency told him she was feeling. It was the most fascinating aspect of her personality, and probably quite effective at fooling others in whatever way she wished.
Control honed over years of lecherous experience, he didn’t thrust and choke her like some eager boy. His passion was too cool for that. It was up to her to coax jaded flesh to respond. He relaxed into her attentions until she finally did inspire true lust to wind his muscles up tight again.
Like any well-rounded witch, her talents aren’t limited to her changeling powers, I see.
Yet his body was not engaged enough to loose true passion, sparked by the mind being engulfed along with the flesh. Soundless and almost motionless, he observed her as she swallowed what she had prized out of him.
Staring up at him, worldly mask shattered to reveal a vulnerable worry, she blushed as she licked a few drops from her lips – clearly nervous under his silent scrutiny.
More or less replete for a time and satisfied with her performance, he gave her a thin smile. It is sufficient. Finally relenting, he wondered alond, “What shall I do to this persecutor of yours?”
As he allowed her to curl up against him under the warm blankets, she smiled. “Could you just tell him – and the others – that deterring the boys doesn’t need to involve violence? Intimidation is still an option.”
“No boils? No ‘death by a thousand cuts’? Intimidation alone is rarely respected if it is known to be hamstrung by fair play.”
“I don’t want to hurt them, but they don’t need to hurt those boys, either. I’m not – like that.”
“Ah, but you think I am.”
“No, sir, I don’t. I don’t presume to make judgments about you.”
“So, you’re a Slytherin after all. I had begun to worry. That’s a fine lie, Miss Lachlan.” She was silent, not rising to his bait. “Very well, I shall make them cease the violent aspects of their traditional function – though some before you relished that part of it almost exclusively – at times, inciting it.”
Lachlan fell silent until the only sound in the room was the crackling of the fire. He closed his eyes and allowed sleep to take him for a while. It was more rest than he’d managed in the last few days.
~ ~ ~
When she sifted to roll against him, he woke. The fire had died down a little. Looking at her, he found her watching him – not unlike a mongoose pup tracks a snake it has no hope of killing.
Whatever her agenda was, he couldn’t muster enough curiosity in that moment to care about it.
“You amaze me,” she whispered against his shoulder as her fingers trailed down his arm. She looked away from his stare demurely, feining innocent wonder.
Reading her with relative ease, he schooled a cruel smirk into a lascivious smile before she lifted her head to see it. “I’m sure I do,” he remarked, low voice laced with sarcasm. “Yet I doubt if your current aims are carnal in nature.”
“Could I ask you about something else, sir?”
“If it’s the last thing.”
“What do you think of Arelia Galen?”
“An unparalleled talent. Star of the crown of avian magical ability. Why?”
She frowned at his sarcasm and attendant smirk. “That’s not what I meant. What do you think she’s like?”
“Prudish? Eternally wed to musty books … and somewhat confused. I ask again, and I won’t repeat it. Why?”
“Because she wants you. I promised to ask your opinion of her. Why do you think she’s confused?”
“Her recent peacock display of inept interest lacked that true Slytherin charm. You aren’t imparting your best teachings, Miss Lachlan. Also, she is hopelessly – what’s the word? Oh yes – Ravenclaw.”
“Does it matter that much?”
“A great deal; a fact which you seem challenged to grasp.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I just want to help my friend. She’s sort of had a crush on you forever, and I’m not jealous – we share most things already anyway.”
“Jealousy wouldn’t be prudent.” He frowned. “Neither would indulging with someone not of my own house.”
“It’s not a problem about keeping things quiet. She’s smart enough for that.” She winked when he started to negate that, and added, “She’s also a virgin. I’ve tried to tell her to just pick a boy and jump … but she’s stuck on you.”
“Therefore you thought, with your friendly generosity, to teach her how to play dress up?” His frown melted into another smirk. “Try teaching her to hide her fear alongside lessons in sporting traditional seducer uniforms.”
“Noted. I’ll work on that next.”
Severus placed a finger under her chin and turned her face up to his. His lips covered hers and he used his long years of skill to bring a heated flush to her cheeks with his kiss. When he stopped it, she tried to keep it going but he leaned back away from her. Was the frustrated desire in her eyes real or constructed?
“Whatever your game is,” he whispered, “I will figure it out eventually. In the meantime, do not forget the rules of mine, which you freely chose to play. Your mind should pursue your studies, but your body is mine until you leave this school.”
“But all I –”
“All I require,” he continued, with his finger pressed against her lips, “is your silence about these matters and your acquiescence to my needs. Not scurrilous attempts at inter-house matchmaking, for whatever purpose. In return for these concessions, you have privacy, an elevated status among your housemates, free reign to do as you like without fear of reprimand in other pursuits and, apparently, the privilege of threatening whomever you please with my infamous wrath. Is all of that clear?”
The moment he removed his finger, her head bowed.
“Should you wish to relinquish your post, I shall have it filled by one of the disappointed hopefuls and your current status will revert to what it was.”
The girl’s face paled as it lifted and she again stared foolishly into his eyes. “No, sir. I’m … I want this.”
“Then endeavor to convince me that is true.”
He moved abruptly and smoothly over her, pressing her beneath his weight. She almost didn’t respond properly quickly enough to suit him, but when she did, he entered her again without concern for her readiness to receive him.
Keeping his efforts languid and gentle in spite of that, he watched her instinctive resistance melt from her snapping eyes and tense body. Malleable at last, she began moving with his rhythm. For the first time, he allowed her hands to touch his body during the act of sex.
His smile was calculating, as her fevered caresses told more about her responses to him than any sounds she made, honest or contrived. When she sought his mouth, he gave it as fingers stroked the tremors his kiss produced in her supple flesh.
And so, again, she falls. The faces change, the ultimate capitulation remains. Whether she takes the path of hate or love from this moment, she is mine. No matter the face, the name, she is mine.
Yet in the midst of his climax, and the drifting haze that followed, a disturbing restlessness surfaced. He didn’t know when the old game had begun to stagnate, but the truth was getting harder to ignore. For a moment, an old black despair threatened. He pushed it away, feeling his anger rise.
“Miss Lachlan,” he whispered, aware that his tone was almost a hiss, “perhaps you should invite your peacock friend to our first Quidditch match. After all, she drank to our victory. She ought to see it come to pass.”
“Yes, sir – I can talk to her at the Halloween Feast. Everyone is so crazy busy then, no one will notice if we’re hanging out and whispering. Um, sir,” she asked in a softer tone, unnerved by his silence, “can I say that you want to see her there? She might not come otherwise. I never get her out to see the games.”
Severus gave her a thin, taut smile. “By all means, warn the prey that the hunt is on. It’s only sporting.”
Author’s Note: Having checked a Hogwarts wiki, I discovered that the first Quidditch game of the school year is early in November, after Halloween. I’ve made a few edits to incorporate that fact. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic) (anongrimm.tumblr.com)