At the welcome sight of her friend coming through the crowd of students in coats, Arelia smiled a greeting. They were both in jeans and boots under their open coats with matching scoopneck sweaters – hers blue and Carine’s green – that they had bought with Hogsmeade in mind back home in Bristol during the makeover shopping spree. Carine had been insisting for weeks that she couldn’t go visit the town.
“I’m glad you changed your mind. Hogsmeade isn’t fun without you.” Arelia placed her hand on Carine’s shoulder and then pulled her into a hug. Carine clung to her a moment and she held her close. “Are you all right?” she whispered.
“Yeah,” Carine answered as she released her. She stared behind her so intensely that Arelia turned.
Xander Silas was coming down the steps with Kenneth Shaw. Arelia glanced at Carine as the boys, their brooms in their hands, checked in with Filch. The rest of the Hufflepuff team and Seamus Connor, the Ravenclaw Captain, came up behind them, also lugging their brooms. Arelia heard Filch sourly remind them all to keep where no Muggles would see them flying.
Since Carine didn’t seem eager to face Kenneth, Arelia tried to get moving down the road, but they’d already been spotted.
“Good morning,” Xander said.
“Hi. What’s with the brooms?”
“We’re going to practice some flying tricks. I talked Kenneth and Seamus into joining us.”
Seamus laughed. “Conscripted, you mean. We’d rather be hoisting butterbeers with our teammates.”
“You won’t regret it,” Xander promised. “If we have time to stop in at the Three Broomsticks,” he added to Arelia, “I’d like to buy you a drink.”
“If I see you there, I’ll let you.” She smiled and turned when Carine started down the path alone. “Wait up,” she called after her and trotted to her side. “You didn’t say hello to Kenneth.”
“The results weren’t so good the last time I did.”
“But they’ve stopped that behavior and you said it was squared with Marcus. So why not speak to him now? I know you liked him.”
“He got beat because of me. He’s probably not keen on being friends.”
“Nonsense.” He’s probably in love with her. Arelia glanced back once and saw the boys mounting their brooms to start their practice.
The slender and handsome Seeker was watching Carine with a wistful expression. He didn’t look away until he saw Arelia notice him. He rose up with the expert speed and skill of one of the finest players their house had – last to take off but first in the flight to the town.
Something doesn’t make sense. Carine isn’t telling me everything – and she may be leaving out a lot.
Carine had started walking more slowly. “Want to know my latest effort for advancing the evil plot?”
Arelia smiled. This was the Carine she knew and loved. “Fire away.”
“I’m going to rent us a room at the Hog’s Head, through tomorrow afternoon.”
“Presumably, we’ll have daggers under our pillows.”
“Won’t be necessary. We’re going to have Snape on top of the pillows. He’s dangerous enough.”
“Not so long ago, I’d have fought you on the idea.”
“Without success … but probably. What’s changed?”
“He’s been pretending I don’t exist lately, when he isn’t watching me on the sly; so I’m game for another try. Is this the tag-team idea you envisioned originally?”
“That’s the one.”
“I thought that was a parallel idea, not a ganging up on him thing.”
“Sometimes you have to alter the plot as you go along. He’s been less than responsive to my other invitations, so I thought I’d stack the deck. After all, I learned in Muggle Studies that it’s most men’s favorite fantasy.”
Arelia raised her eyebrows. “He’s not a Muggle. Since when did they teach male fantasies in that class?”
“They don’t. A girl in class told me. She said it’s all over Muggle entertainment. I figure what’s good for the Muggle gander is good for the magical one.”
“I hate to tell you this, but one of the main elements the Muggles like about it is the things the girls do – without the man’s help.”
As they arrived in the town and broke away from the throng to head toward the inn first, Carine flashed her old evil smirk at her. “You aren’t going to let a little kink stop you, are you? Besides, I’m a notorious kisser.”
Arelia laughed. “Humble, too. Shelve that for now. How are you going to get Snape there?”
“I’m still working on that. Maybe after a day of Hayden’s company in detention, he’ll need a stiff drink. He always goes to the Hog’s Head and quite often on a Saturday night, too. I can sit in the taproom and keep watch.”
“Leaving me to wait out the evening in the old Goblin Rebellion HQ, huh? I should have brought a book.”
A shout of laughter overhead startled them. The Hufflepuff team and the two Ravenclaw flyers shot overhead on their way back up to the castle. As they watched, Xander did a Sloth Grip Roll to avoid being hit by a pinecone thrown by a teammate.
Kenneth executed a shocking dive and caught the thing within inches of inserting himself bodily into the road. He pulled out of the dive and climbed again quickly enough to inspire applause from observers all over the town.
Carine watched it all with a slight frown. “I wish things were different.”
“You can still talk to him, smooth things over.”
“It wouldn’t do any good.” She tracked him until they all flew behind the castle. “I should have made better choices this year, that’s all.”
Arelia touched her arm as they resumed walking. “You know you can talk to me about anything you need to. If something’s wrong, I’d like to help.”
“You are helping. For starters, you can help with the cost of the room. We want windows that look away from the castle, a decent suite – and they cost more.”
“I don’t mind financing your evil, but if there’s a real problem, you can trust me to help when you’re ready to talk about it.”
~ ~ ~
After the suite was secured, they left the Hog’s Head to pursue the more mundane Hogsmeade distractions. Carine had ducked into Honeydukes, and Arelia stopped at Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop.
She was admiring the feather quills when she saw Professor Falchion enter the shop. The teacher spotted her and headed her way.
“Hello, Miss Galen. I wonder if I could have a word with you? I’m sorry to trouble you on a Saturday, but it’s not about school, necessarily.”
“It’s no trouble, Professor. What did you need?”
“I wanted to ask you about your friend, Miss Lachlan. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and I have been concerned for her. She’s been distracted in our classes and appears to have an on-going problem with some of her housemates? It has started affecting her grades, too. Since you and she are friends, I wondered if you knew where the real trouble was.”
“I wish I did, ma’am. Professor Snape said he would make those boys stop harassing her and her friends, and he seems to have done that, though I still worry that something is wrong.” Arelia picked up a stiff scarlet feather and stroked it. “She won’t talk to me about it – but I made it clear she can.”
“I see. Well, if she does, and it’s anything I can help with, will you let me know?”
“Yes, ma’am, I will.”
The professor and former Auror watched her in silence for a moment. “Do you know much about her deceased cousin, Hamish Ketch?”
“Only that he died in her house from a fall. He was a Quidditch star at school, a Beater. Carine said she thought he was playing with the Dark Arts, and that’s what really killed him.”
“It was a Dark Arts spell that killed him, that’s true. It’s possible he was dead before he fell. I knew the Auror and Ministry officials who investigated the death. They performed a Priori Incantatem Spell on Mr. Ketch’s wand. The last thing he cast with it was a Hex-Deflection Spell.”
“Oh.” Arelia stroked the feather along her jaw, thinking.
“I believe Miss Lachlan and he were the only people in the house that day, though she claimed to have been in her room when he died – something about tending to a hurt pet. Would you know anything about that?”
“No. Forgive me, Professor, but are you asking after her health or trying to solve an old case?”
Falchion smiled. It was a chilled expression. “My apologies. It is difficult to stop being an Auror at times, and that case was never solved to anyone’s satisfaction. Yes, I am asking about her health. I fear someone may be making her very uncomfortable and that concerns me – for her welfare, of course.”
Of course. “If she tells me anything about a problem and you could help, I’ll let you know.” Right after I enlist in the Merpeople’s hiking club.
“Your assistance is appreciated. Her teachers have been very concerned. Have a good weekend, Miss Galen.”
“Thank you, ma’am, you too.” Arelia watched her leave. She bought the scarlet feather quill just to put more distance between herself and the teacher. When she left the shop, she was relieved to discover that the professor wasn’t in sight.
Heading back to Honeydukes, she heard a voice overhead call her name. Looking up, she was surprised to see Kenneth. He landed his Nimbus broom beside her.
“Carine’s avoiding me, isn’t she?” he asked, nervously running his fingers through his shoulder-length dark hair.
“I think she’s ashamed of what her housemates did. I also think she misses you.”
“Where is she?”
“In Honeydukes. Want to come talk to her?”
“No, not now. If she wants to, she can find me. I promised to teach these flying trolls some maneuvers and they’ll be catching up with me in a minute.” His light green eyes searched Arelia’s, full of wistful concern. “If she asks, I’m not angry. I’ve heard about this junk before in Slytherin. Silas said it’s been going on for years.”
“They didn’t start harassing her until this year.”
“Not her, other girls – and some of them liked it, egged it on. Beldon tried to tell me she asked them to, but that’s bullshit.”
“Sir Beldon is an idiot.”
“Yeah.” His fingers tapped along the broomstick shaft. “Okay. Gotta fly.”
“She hasn’t really told me what’s going on, but last year, she wouldn’t take a breath in between speeches about how wonderful you were to her. That’s a record, since she usually can’t stand guys our age. I hope she’ll talk to you, maybe make up.”
His expression was hard to read as he mounted the broom again. “Maybe. I’d like that, but a lot’s changed since last year. See you,” he said, and took off at a dizzying speed, his Quidditch robe fluttering in his wake.
Arelia sighed and continued on to the candy shop. Reunited with the enigmatic Carine and the hoard of sweets she had purchased, Arelia gave her Kenneth’s message. She took it in silence, and then changed the subject back to the evil plot. They headed for the Hog’s Head again while Carine dug out odd candies for her to try, keeping up a banal chatter that might have been designed to prevent her from asking questions. She didn’t mention her odd run-in with Professor Falchion.
Carine asked Arelia to take their stash up to the room. The blonde remained in the taproom downstairs to scope for Snape. To combat boredom after ditching her coat, Arelia made her new scarlet quill float around the room. She didn’t think much would come of this phase of the evil plot. It was highly likely that Snape wouldn’t show.
Abruptly, the memory of his touch made her shudder deliciously. As her smile grew, the scene played out again in her mind’s eye. Whatever happened, she knew she wanted to be with him again, and though she might not have sought to be with Carine in that way, the idea didn’t repulse her.
Maybe a little of his expert attention is what she needs to get out of her funk. Arelia smiled. I know I don’t have anything to compare him to, but if Witch Weekly is to be believed, not many men know what they’re doing in bed. That one obviously does.
Arelia leaned back into the pile of pillows behind her head. Her fingers slid inside the waistband of her jeans as her thoughts returned to Snape’s talents. She forgot about the quill and didn’t notice when it fell to the floor.
Was it the last Slytherin vs. Hufflepuff game? Carine frowned a moment, then tossed the question aside. It wasn’t important.
Ravenclaw hadn’t been playing, and Slytherin had. That had left Kenneth free and the couch untenanted. It hadn’t been their first tryst there and, at the time, she’d hoped it wouldn’t be their last. Sipping her illegal but easily acquired firewhiskey, Carine smiled wistfully at the memory.
She had coaxed him under the bleachers the first time, and had to every time afterward, too. He said it seemed a little tawdry and wanted to find a quiet spot somewhere a little more romantic.
Romance hadn’t really been her aim. He was handsome and talented, vertically and horizontally, and best of all, he was considerate and kind. Even when they had to be quick, he was gentle. He had seemed so much more mature than the rest of the slavering horde. She’d looked forward to seeing him again in their seventh year and had even written him back when he’d sent an owl on her birthday.
Then panic had set in … but why? She touched her lips to the glass and slowly closed her eyes. Because he’s too much like Hamish, though they look nothing alike, and Kenneth wouldn’t hurt an insect. So how are they alike, just because they both play Quidditch? It was stupid, all of it. I ran away from a ghost into the arms of a beast.
“Another?” Aberforth, the gruff old bartender and owner asked.
Carine opened her eyes and nodded. It was hard believe he was the Headmaster’s brother. He had only gotten more scruffy and bedraggled over the years. He still smelled like he slept with his goats, too. She was relieved he continued to be grateful to her for helping care for sick goats off and on since her third year. How that translated to bringing the firewhiskey around, she had never asked. She’d stopped worrying about potential alternative motives that never materialized by her fifth year.
She watched him return to the bar and whisper to a veiled witch sitting there, but she couldn’t care if they were discussing her.
If I hadn’t talked to Rowan, hadn’t followed my damn curiosity, I could be down in the Three Broomsticks with Kenneth this evening or hidden away in the Astronomy Tower, making the models ring. Instead I’m here – getting soused waiting for that bastard to show and probably killing Arelia with boredom.
When she was about to give up and go tell Arelia it was off, that they might as well head back up to the school, the door opened and the Potions master entered.
He spotted her immediately but went to the bar first. Carine stuck an inviting smile on her face as he turned, drink in hand, and headed her way. She wasn’t surprised that he ignored her gestured invitation to sit.
“You appear to be rather publicly cavalier with your choice of libation.”
“They’re used to me here. I’m glad you came. I was hoping you would.”
“I wanted to make up for my attitude. I got a suite and set up a surprise.”
“What in my nature gave you the impression I was fond of surprises?”
Carine took a sip of the whiskey to buy time to think. Abandoning the sweet sylph act, she let her lips assume a pout and allowed a glint of Slytherin craft into her eyes. “You’d like this one, sir.”
There were close to a dozen patrons in the bar, some of whom had their faces covered, as the regulars here often did. She would have to be careful, but in a sense, he was hamstrung in this place – unable to treat her as he might in private. Upstairs, Arelia’s presence would serve as a similar protection.
Emboldened by the thought, she stood and finished her drink in one gulp. She didn’t dare get too close but took a step toward him to speak softly. Then she crossed her arms under her breasts, making the cleavage there a tantalizing sight.
“I haven’t been what I should be to you. It’s time I started.”
“I suspect you are still enamored of the Seeker.”
“Maybe, but I made a choice and entered an agreement. I intend to honor it now.” She pressed the metal room key into his hand quickly. Tossing a coquettish smirk at him, she turned and headed up the stairs without looking back.
Using her wand to enter the room, she found Arelia half asleep on the bed with her fingers in her open jeans. Suppressing a smile, she woke her and told her Snape was heading up.
“You’re sure?” the girl asked, brushing her dark hair off her shoulder.
“I didn’t stop to look, but I had some good bait set out. If he’s human at all, he’ll bite.” Rushing her friend into the bathroom, she started to close the door on her. “Get out of the clothes. When I say the code word, make a good entrance. Sexy. Got it?”
She closed the door before Arelia could answer. The bag of Honeydukes candy was still on the bed, and a red quill lay on the floor. She scooped both items up and put them on a nightstand.
Ditching her coat and shoes quickly, she stripped and left her clothes in a pile on her shoes. A quick flick of her wand and a mumbled charm started a fire in the small hearth as she slipped into the covers. Leaving the candles lit around the room, she put her wand next to the quill. Seconds later, she heard the key in the lock.
He entered looking wary. Carine wondered what sort of phantoms he thought she might have conjured, and did he seriously think she would dare to set him up? She had, of course, but not in a way most men would mind.
“Did you choose the number thirteen suite for a particular purpose?” He asked, closing and locking the door behind him. He set the key on the desk by the door.
“No.” She sat up against the pillows, letting the covers fall strategically to her waist. “You did ask me if there was anything else I required to get over my melancholy.”
“As I recall, you said no. Are you recanting now?”
“No, sir – but I hoped you would come up. I wanted…” She let her voice trail off as if she were abruptly shy. It was for Arelia’s benefit.
She’d have to juggle this just right and not allow Arelia to figure out that this wasn’t her first round with Snape. Yet if she sprang her friend on him too soon, he’d probably just leave, since he’d made it clear he wanted nothing to do with her again.
When she saw the smolder of lust in his dark eyes, she wanted to cringe and cheer at once. Unable to do either, she just pasted on her most wicked come-hither smile and tried to keep still as he approached the bed.
He spoke his Unfastening Charm in a whisper and began to remove the many layers of his formal black clothing. Carine had never had the chance to watch him strip before. In spite of all he’d put her through, she couldn’t help staring at him. If his treatment was the fabric of her nightmares, his body had the sculpted beauty of her most erotic dreams.
Carine knew better than to bring Arelia in while he was standing there, so she had to bury her emotional distaste and fear, waiting until he lay down beside her.
She twitched when his hand stroked down her body and inserted two fingers inside her without warning.
“Where is this surprise hidden?” he whispered in her ear.
“In the bathroom.”
On cue, the narrow door opened and Arelia stood in the bathroom doorway. Snape had whipped around to face the door, his wand in his hand before Carine even saw him move. Whatever he had feared to see, he obviously hadn’t expected it to be the willowy naked beauty of the tall brunette.
“Hello, Severus. Remember when I said Carine and I share everything?”
“I’m sorry,” Carine said when he turned to stare at her. “I was nervous to be with you alone, at least the first time.”
The first time. Severus glared at the conniving blonde. She’d engineered it brilliantly – setting off the trap in a way that left him with few options. He considered what the equivalent might be to gnawing himself free.
Arelia Galen moved into the room and around the bed, a ghost of soft sexual beauty. Drawing the covers down, she settled on his other side, her hands caressing up his back. He tried to suppress a shudder, but she felt it and smiled.
“This is – unprecedented,” he whispered to the ceiling.
“Trust you to use long words when beset in a bedroom by a pair of girls,” Arelia teased. “Most men would forget their own names.”
Leave. Get up, dress, and leave. Simple. Flay them with some acrid cutting retort and escape with your sanity intact, fool.
He didn’t move. The long day spent with the idiot Hayden, making him suffer for his disobedient insolence in the way the boy hated most – doing honest work – had been only mildly amusing. The frustrated desire of the last night had not left him or given him any peace since.
Now these supple bodies touched and toyed with him at once, firing his need into something almost painful. The release they offered didn’t have to threaten him – if he took them brusquely and without sentiment. If the delicate Galen was offended, she was welcome to leave.
Lachlan gently nudged him to turn onto his back and traced her lips down his body. Galen moved to kiss him and he allowed it, feeling the sensations produced by the other girl like a drug.
Strange that something once abhorrent could transfigure itself into the only act that assures me that I am alive at all. A whisper of memory tugged at him, a long-abandoned ideal of warmth, trust, and soul-mending love. Yet she never did love – he’d been a convenience, hadn’t he? No. Bury it deep, beyond the loam, the crust of roots. It’s not real – it’s gone… dead… as she is. All that remains is this soulless coupling, the dust of what you once knew.
He turned reflexively to the slender brunette, pinned her and took her. She was ready, receptive and eager. Severus kept his eyes locked on hers as he drove inside her and saw only an avid lust reflected there.
Lachlan lay beside her and when he leaned back, the blonde kissed her. Galen hesitated only for a moment before responding. Fearlessly, the blonde caught his hand and covered her own breasts with it as she kissed her friend ardently. The sight of it was hardly a shock given his experience – but it was inspiring.
Severus waited until Galen had clutched at him and cried out more than once. Lachlan lay next to them, kissing the other girl’s shoulder and failing to watch him. His habitual sneer stretched to an unpleasant smile.
Withdrawing from Galen quickly, he fell on Lachlan and was rewarded with a shock of fear in her emerald eyes. She tried too late to hide it.
So the new leaf is easily turned again – intriguing. Did you set this up for her or for some other unintelligible agenda of your own? Is she a leash around my neck, her presence making you safe?
Then he thought of what Galen had said when she assumed he had called out Lachlan’s name. He couldn’t resist a low chuckle. It might be worthwhile to see if such a charade could sway her. It might also be the only way to endure those eyes, so like another’s.
Laying his hands on either side of her face, Severus made his thrusts gentler. He changed his angle slightly and brought his skills of pleasuring a woman into play. He wished he hadn’t relinquished his wand again, but though he was unable to use Legilimency against her, there were other ways.
“Carine,” he whispered, as if the sun rose with the name. He saw her fear fall into confusion. Keeping his motions gentle and seductive, he lost count of the times he made her climax before his own stopped the experiment.
When he rolled away from her, he fell to the far side instead of between them. Propping himself up on his elbow, he watched them in silence.
Galen reached out to touch his forearm, her own lying gently over Lachlan’s chest. “What are you thinking, Severus?”
“That I am no longer twenty … and it’s a shame.”
“Ten years makes such a difference?” she asked, smiling.
“Not the years – the wear and tear.” He took her hand and tugged at it, inducing her to move over the silent blonde. “You could oblige me in the meantime, if you aren’t opposed to more than a kiss.”
Inexplicably, she whispered to Lachlan, “Ganders, huh?” The blonde nodded with a slight smile. Tears clung to her long lashes. To both of them, Galen said, “I’m new to this, so no grading me.”
Severus watched the seashell pink lips suckle the blonde’s nipples inexpertly. When her hand slid haltingly down the lightly tanned stomach, he flicked the blankets away from the sight. Her fingers were more practiced than her mouth, but the awkwardness of touching another that way was obvious.
Glancing up at Lachlan, he found her staring at him, a tearful question in her eyes. The expression pulled at him, making him slightly nervous, and threatening the lascivious mood. She reached out and touched his face.
To avoid the look, he moved closer and kissed her. His hand joined Galen’s, laced their fingers together, and showed her how to draw her friend to the edge of madness with pleasure.
Helpless between them, her cries stifled by his mouth, Lachlan writhed and it wasn’t long before he could mount her again. Giving Galen his mouth and his fingers, he took his pleasure amidst a chorus of soft sounds and cries.
The dual nature of them helped to keep the past at bay. Too many hands, too many urgent lips, stunted the memories. He was neither kind nor cruel, and somewhere between those points he found a strange balance.
Midnight arrived and slipped by, yet all thoughts of escape had long since left him.
Author’s Note: One of the details I changed involved Aberforth Dumbledore in the pub, letting Carine have firewhiskey. Way back when I first wrote this, I had no idea the owner and bartender of the Hog’s Head was Albus Dumbledore’s brother, also a member of the Order of the Phoenix. So I changed a few bits and had him grateful for her help with sick goats (a skill she got from helping Hagrid with his creatures). It reads a lot better this way, trust me, LOL. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic) (anongrimm.tumblr.com)