“Stop right there, you miscreants!”
The two second year boys Arelia had brought to a screeching halt were perfectly identical, from their shock of ginger hair to the very last freckle splashed across their expressions of sublime innocence. She had given up trying to tell them apart halfway through their first year. Besides, where one went the other followed, so she had found it simpler to catch them both and punish their wrongs as if they were one person.
“Hi, Arelia. Hey, do you like the N.E.W.T. classes? Are they fun?”
“I didn’t stop you to chat, kid. Do either of you know what time it is?”
“Lose your watch?” one of them joked.
Smiling and helpful, the other replied, “It’s just after eleven o’clock.”
“Which is after curfew.” She tapped her boot on the stones.
“Oh, well, of course it is. We were –”
“– Looking for a bathroom, and –”
“– We heard the prefect’s bath was on this level.”
Arelia fought down a smile. Their habit of sharing sentences had helped her in her decision to behave as if the two were one. “You aren’t allowed in the prefect’s bathroom, and you’ve already passed three public ones to get here. Now get back to Gryffindor Tower – and into bed.”
“We should tell her, Fred.”
“We’re working on a project for History of Magic: an essay, on the Room of Requirement. So we’re looking for it. One of the fifth years said you have to look after dark.”
“You’re on the incorrect floor and in the wrong area.”
“Doesn’t it move around the castle?”
“No, it stays put; only the contents and appearance changes. Nice try, though. Now, get to bed.”
Arelia watched them shrug and turn about. Not fooled, she followed them to their common room. One of them, possibly Fred, had slipped a thick folded parchment into his pocket when she had gotten them moving. It wasn’t the first time they’d palmed this same old parchment.
Tired and suffering from a lack of curiosity, she didn’t ask to see it. Let them have their secrets and games. The Weasley twins were brilliant schemers but largely harmless to the school and populace.
The Hufflepuffs who always experimented with new desserts and shared their best efforts at dinner had outdone themselves that night and dealing with all the sugar-hyped younger students had her worn out. A vague thought of going down to the dungeons and seeing if Snape would let her into his chambers came and went on the tail of a yawn.
Turning to Ravenclaw Tower, she headed up to bed at last, unable to care if the twins remained in their tower or not.
As she drifted off to sleep that night, she thought of Carine. Her friend had begun hitting the books with a vengeance, under the watchful eye of Professors McGonagall and Falchion. Professor Flitwick had asked her if they had a competition going for best grades.
Arelia didn’t know why Carine was abruptly so studious. She had half expected the girl to be even more distracted, after ‘landing Snape’ as she insisted on calling it.
The most confusing enigmatic girl in the world…
~ ~ ~
Another Quidditch Saturday came and went. Arelia watched it, but the real sport was after the game, spent under the bleachers with Xander. A traitor to her house, she helped him celebrate Hufflepuff’s victory over Ravenclaw.
Her jeans were unbuttoned, invaded by his strong hand. He didn’t have Snape’s talent, but he wasn’t boring either. His other hand massaged her bra as they kissed, while she explored as much of his chiseled strength as her hands could touch while prone on her back.
Xander kissed her closed eyelids and whispered, “Do you want me to stop?” When she chuckled, he added, “Not just now – but you know … not go any further?”
She stared into his dark blue eyes. Snape had suggested him as a candidate to claim the bet with, hadn’t he? Even though the Potions master was his superior in skill, he’d managed to excite her beyond stopping. “Xander, I want to ask you if … you’d be my first.”
He started to speak and then fell silent, looking away from her. His fingers went still. When he turned back, his slight smile was wistful. “I wanted to talk to you about that, but I didn’t see a gentlemanly way to start.”
“If you’re worried about going public and dealing with Beldon and his stupid bet, don’t be. I can handle him.”
“Actually, I wanted to bring up a subject that may make you angry.”
“What is it?”
“I’ve been with virgins once or twice, Arelia. I don’t think you are.”
“And?” Her smile started to transform into a frown.
“It’s your business, understand. It’s fine with me, either way, but I have this thing about honesty – it’s valued very highly in my family. I just wondered why you thought you had to pretend?”
Surprised, she thought about it. “I’m not sure. I guess because of the bet, partly … and because I can’t say who won it.”
“So … I’d like to. You?”
He almost smiled, but then he moved away from her, sitting up and turning to look at her as she struggled up out of the couch beside him. “I was sort of hoping to ask you out first.”
“You did, twice. I said yes both times and we’re waiting for the next Hogsmeade weekend to consummate the date, aren’t we? ‘Coffee or something’ was your phrase. How quickly they forget.” She smiled.
“No, I mean – ask you to be my girl.” He raised his hand and stroked wayward hairs back in place at the side of her face.
“I just wanted… I think you deserve to be treated right and I intend to.”
“Xander, I don’t want anything like that. I’d like to be with you, but I don’t want to be exclusive with anyone.”
He leaned back and stared up at the criss-crossing wooden beams overhead. “I was hoping for more than that.”
“No, it’s okay. You don’t want that, it’s fine.”
Arelia moved and straddled his lap, sliding her fingers around his neck. She kissed him, and felt only a muted response. “You’re forgetting what I did want.”
He remained still beneath her, thoughtful, and not into it now. “Arelia, I’m sorry if this upsets you, but I don’t think I can do this – casually.”
She sat back on his thighs and stared at him. “You aren’t a virgin and you aren’t married. That classifies your previous experience as ‘casual’.”
“When I was young and stupid, I guess, but ever since last year, I’ve changed. Now I want more. I want a steady girlfriend and I want to make her my wife.”
“Then I guess we can’t compromise.” With a sigh, she got up off him and stood to retrieve her shirt. Buttoning her jeans, she asked, “What changed your wastrel ways?”
“I fell in love.”
She looked up at him sharply. He held her gaze, sitting on the couch like a disheveled shirtless Adonis. His blond hair was still damp from a fast shower after the game before he’d met her here at her request.
“I – I should go,” she whispered. Arelia fled, taking the stairs two at a time.
~ ~ ~
She took out her upset on the Weasley twins that night after curfew and caught them unexpectedly enough to get a better look at the parchment they were always fussing over. It was a map. After a strict lecture, she steered the topic back to it.
“That looks suspiciously inappropriate for second years. What is it and where did you get it?”
“We wrote it,” they chimed together.
Arelia frowned. She didn’t believe that for a moment. It was obviously magical and likely beyond their current skill level. “Why are you down in the dungeons with it?”
“Studying up for our essay.”
“Not on the Room of Requirement,” one of them amended at her glare, “on the castle itself. Secret passages. There’s one right here, but it’s not mentioned anywhere in ‘Hogwarts, A History’, so we’re researching it.”
“This is a hallway.” She was starting to lose her patience.
“Looks like one, maybe.”
“There is a secret passage here.”
“It goes from there,” Fred or George pointed at one wall, “to there.” His finger moved to point at the opposite wall. “If you stand here when it’s actually working, you can feel the magic it generates.”
“I don’t feel anything. I think this is a story, not a secret passage.”
“That’s because it’s not working now. It was when we first came down here, though.”
Arelia turned them around and pointed up the stairs. “Count your blessings that I caught you and not Marcus – or even Professor Snape. Go back to bed and stay there!” She stood where she was and watched them go up the stairs, arguing all the way.
“Why didn’t you say she was there?”
“Didn’t see her, I was watching Snape. It worked just like before. He crosses the hall, even while we’re looking at it – but he’s not there. You didn’t see him. I’m telling you, Fred, we’ve got to crack this one. If Snape’s doing something shady, it’s our Gryffindor duty to figure it out.”
“It only goes into the Slytherin common room. How shady can that be? He’s their Head of House.”
Arelia stood in the center of the hall for a long moment after the twins were gone. She’d been so stunned by what they had said that she completely forgot about their odd map.
Arms crossed and frowning, she looked at the spot where the boy had pointed first. Snape’s private chambers were hidden behind that wall – a fact that, as Gryffindors, they wouldn’t know.
She clung to him and gasped. It was hard to breathe but it felt so good, she didn’t care if she passed out. His cry at her ear thrilled her further, that she could drive him to such limits of feeling.
When he went still, he moved away from her as quickly as he always did, but he allowed her to creep close and lie beside him.
Carine didn’t understand what was going on with him. He still refused to allow her to use his given name, but now and then he would call her ‘Carine’ in a way that made her excited and afraid at once. Even then, he wasn’t necessarily nice. It was more like an absence of cruelty than any concession of kindness.
She had expected him to retaliate somehow for her presumption at the Hog’s Head, but he hadn’t. A nagging worry added, Yet, he hasn’t paid you back yet. Drop your guard, and he’ll have you. She swallowed back a sigh. What guard? I’m his. There’s nothing to drop.
The difficult part, if such a determination could be made in her situation, was that she couldn’t forget about Kenneth, and sometimes she was sure that Snape knew it. The notion that it displeased him wasn’t hard to guess, either.
This won’t last forever. When school ends in June, it’s done. I’ll be free to be with Kenneth if I want. She lay quietly for a time before the old nagging question seeped into her attempt to act calm. Will he wait that long?
Snape’s acidic voice interrupted her thoughts. “Why is Professor Falchion so concerned with your emotional condition, Miss Lachlan?”
“I don’t know, sir. She never says much to me.”
He grunted, reached for his wand beside him, and rolled her unceremoniously onto her stomach. Carine bit her lip. He never really hurt her, even when he wanted it in this position, but it wasn’t the easiest way to engage in sex for her, physically or emotionally. His weight came down over her back and she started to open her thighs to him.
“Be still,” he said in her ear. Holding the wand, he spoke a word of magic she didn’t catch as his fingertips brushed lightly over her rear.
An unreasoning fear griped her when she realized what he meant to do. Her earlier worry about paybacks leaped into her mind. “I’m sorry I set you up, sir, but you seemed to enjoy it.”
“I did, as I intend to enjoy this. Don’t be foolish. If you aren’t experienced this way, I assure you it won’t hurt. It can’t, now.”
He didn’t need lube – the spell he’d cast clearly included prep. Somehow, that made it worse and a roaring sound began to fill her ears, her head.
She cried out when his cock entered the tight opening he’d never wanted before. It was a shock, and for the first moments as he pressed himself in, her mind convinced her that it would hurt intensely. Tears sprang to her eyes, but she tried to endure it stoically, refusing to give him the satisfaction of knowing he was hurting her. For a confusing moment, she thought she smelled peppermint, but the only scent around her was the subtle Sandalwood of Snape’s skin.
“Calm yourself,” he whispered. “There is no pain.”
After a few minutes, she realized he was telling the truth – the charm he’d cast wasn’t allowing the act to hurt her. The phantom pain disappeared.
Whatever the charm was, she wished she’d known it years ago. Her muscles relaxed slowly, making his movements easier to take. The slightest pleasurable thrum began deep inside that she never would have believed possible, but was still difficult to relax her tense thoughts and her mind was filled with the images of rosebuds, shot through with the rising smell of blood.
The smooth black wood of the wand appeared in her line of sight, held firmly in Snape’s pale hand. Carine had assumed he’d dropped it beside them again. When she realized it was pointed at her temple, she drew in her breath sharply and attempted to empty her thoughts.
He leaned in, his voice a whisper at her ear as his body continued to move over her and in her. “What is the meaning of the roses?”
~ ~ ~
Carine woke sluggishly on Sunday morning and ran a hot bath. Snape had left sometime in the night, after she had fallen asleep on him. She was still shocked that he had made her like it that way – she had kicked many males out of bed in the past for even trying it.
I remember when I asked Kenneth if he liked that. The surprise on his face was so funny. Pure gentleman, he had asked if she did first, and then agreed with her on not being into it. She had wondered if he was pretending to know what she meant and had to ask one of the guys later. Pure vanilla, that boy. She sighed. Pure heaven. Another concern of the previous night soon intruded on her savored memories, inspiring a frustrated frown. You can’t ask him to keep the wand out of it. Figure something else out.
She didn’t get out of the room until lunch, when she went up to meet Arelia. They ate at their respective tables quickly and then went out for a walk around the castle grounds.
The day was cold, and they were bundled in coats and long school scarves. The wind cut right through their jeans. Going through the courtyard and down to the lake, they began strolling around its edge.
“How’s Severus?” Arelia asked.
“That would be ‘Sir’ to me,” Carine said, but she smiled to take the sting out it.
“What do you mean?” Arelia stopped and studied her.
Shit. “Just kidding,” she answered quickly. “He was in a mood last night, that’s all, and I’m not that comfortable calling him Severus. Yet,” she added lamely. “So! Tell me about Farmer Hufflepuff and his fall from grace.”
“Xander, and it wasn’t a fall.”
“Well, no, good point – when under the bleachers, it’s traditionally called ‘a tumble’.” She grinned, but her friend wasn’t amused. At least I got her off the subject of Snape. The Hufflepuff chats aren’t my favorite, but hey – any port in a storm.
“He says he loves me; although he doesn’t want to engage in sexual romps unless I’m his, because it’s ‘casual’. That’s about it.”
Carine didn’t bother to hide her surprise. “What epoch did he come from? Boys love casual.”
Arelia shrugged. “I heard that he does have a reputation for keeping to one girl at a time, but I don’t think I see the point. I don’t mind being one of, but to have only one? Well, you always said it was boring. I think I agree.”
“You’ve only had one, and a half, I guess.” She smirked at the haughty look the brunette gave her. “I hate to sound like a repeat Howler, but ditch the Hufflepuff. Look around, shop, experiment.”
“Here? That still leaves me with boys, which you claim are a waste of time.”
Carine winked at her. “Rumor has it, there’s this whole town at the bottom of the hill. People live there, men and everything!”
“Ha ha. Come on, comedian. It’s freezing out here. What do you say to a game of Wizard’s Chess in the Great Hall, with some hot tea?”
Carine walked beside her back toward the castle, but she didn’t really feel like returning. “Hey, why don’t we visit Hagrid? He’s got tea.”
“The Groundskeeper? Why?”
“Oh, he’s great. If you haven’t officially met him, you have to.”
“Since when did you get friendly with him?”
“I’ve been talking to him since third year. He’s harmless, I promise; he just looks scary. Come on.” She turned toward Hagrid’s hut and Arelia came after her.
Smoke puffed from the chimney and the lights shone warm from the window. As she walked across the thin layer of snow down the hill, she realized that Hagrid’s hut had come to symbolize safety to her – and peace.
Maybe they both needed some of that right now, and Hagrid, who never had many visitors or friends among the students, would love the company.
“No elaborations, no personal opinions.” Severus pinned Marcus with a cold stare. “Merely what is known.”
The young man sat still in the visitor chair of the Potions master’s office; he knew fidgeting annoyed his Head of House. His nervousness still showed in his habit of running his fingers through the perfect cut of his black hair, but it was less distracting.
“Well, sir, most of it is still rumor, but what I know is that Lachlan used to be shy when we first started school. She didn’t get – friendly – until sometime in our fifth year. She was going with the upper classmen, seventh years only. Last year, she started seeing the Ravenclaw Seeker, Shaw. As far as I know, once she got with him, she stopped giving it up to anyone else.”
“There was no significant liaison in her third year?”
“No, sir. When her cousin Ketch was here, he kept a close eye on her. Did you know that?” He paused, and when Severus nodded once, he continued. “He used to say that he’d get anyone who touched her. I know her family – they’re pure-bloods – and they’ve got a lot of old traditions, like saving yourself for marriage and crap like that. We miss Ketch and all, sir, but most Slytherins figure it’s been sweet since Lachlan put herself on the dormitory market.”
“You assume she behaved out of family loyalty or obedience to Ketch?”
“Fear of Ketch, maybe. They didn’t get along.”
“Neither do you.”
“She and I didn’t start out as friends, no sir. I was planning to change that this year – but of course…” His hand swept through his hair again, the dark amber eyes looking away from his teacher.
“Of course,” Severus sneered. “That will be all, Marcus, but I want you to keep an eye on her – all of you.”
He stood. “Are you concerned about Shaw, sir?”
“No, and you are to continue to refrain from brute squad activities. There seems to be another matter at hand – Professor Falchion has become unusually interested in Miss Lachlan. If any of you have the opportunity to discuss the girl with her, I want to know what she asks you.”
“Are we cooperating with her, sir?”
“We are not. Tell her you know nothing.”
“Yes, sir.” He turned and left.
Severus rose and went to the heavy wooden cabinet that held his student records. Pulling the thick folder on Hamish Ketch, he laid it on his desk. Papers to be graded were forgotten as he reviewed the file.
Most of it was disciplinary reports, from every teacher but himself, and for every offense a student could commit. Ketch had been gifted in one area only – Quidditch. Destined for fame and fortune in the sport, he hadn’t cared about his regular studies at all.
If the boy could be said to have a hobby, it was the leadership of the unofficial Slytherin brute squad, a faction which had had its inception in his second year. He had already achieved an impressive size the summer before and won a place on the house team as a Beater the moment school had started – with the new Potions master’s blessing, of course.
Ketch had never graduated, nor had he become a rising sports star for any national team. The last report in his file was from the Ministry of Magic, detailing an investigation of the young man’s death and making much of his alleged dabbling in the Dark Arts. The cause of death was listed officially as an accident with a spell – one of the forbidden curses.
At the bottom of the last page was the name of the person who had contacted the authorities to report the accident – Carine Lachlan.
~ ~ ~
Severus watched her as he flipped his wand between the fingers of his right hand. The classroom was never quiet – sounds of chopping ingredients and bubbling cauldrons surrounded them – but he tuned it all out as he studied the blonde in the front row.
She avoided his gaze, her attempts to complete her potion hampered by shaking fingers. When he spoke to instruct them to finish up before the bell, she twitched.
“Remain a moment, if you would, Miss Lachlan,” he announced as the bell rang.
Shaw was the last to leave and Severus noted his frown as he ducked out of the room.
Has he heard enough rumors to piece together the truth of his former lover’s new role? Is it possible that the Slytherin Tutor isn’t just a Slytherin rumor after all?
Lachlan had gathered her things but sat quietly in her chair. Severus leaned against the front of his desk, crossing his arms over his chest. The wand went still in his hand.
“I wish to discuss a sensitive subject. Look at me, Miss Lachlan.” As her eyes rose to meet his, he asked, “What do you know of the Dark Arts?”
“Just what we’ve learned in class – to fight them, I mean.”
“Your cousin Ketch was practicing several illegal spells. He didn’t happen to teach you?”
He stared at her for a long moment of silence. The door opened, but the first students of his next class paused when they saw them.
Severus turned away from her slowly. “Come to my office after the evening meal, Miss Lachlan. We will continue this conversation.”
“Yes, sir.” She ducked out quick, avoiding eye contact with the other students as they began to enter.
Standing behind his podium, Severus watched her go. She’s lying. Yet someone has taught her the rudiments of Occlumency. Her grasp of it is imperfect and will be easy enough to break, but why would she need it at all? It is not a discipline to take on lightly or a simple one to learn – therefore, the few who try tend to have a specific need for it.
Author’s Note: For those unaware, Occlumency is shielding one’s mind from Legilimency, which is the art of magically getting into the mind of another person and correctly interpreting what is found there. Severus Snape is a master of both skills and he can cast many spells non-verbally. We’re getting to the point where this story starts diverging. I love a good mystery. I also love my OFC girls, but the boys are soon to show up more, too. I ended up adoring these students as they fell out of my brain – I hope you all like them, too. Thanks for reading! – AnonGrimm (@MET_Fic) (anongrimm.tumblr.com)