~ In which there is much detention ~
Professor Dumbledore glanced up at the bustling students entering the classroom. Catching his eye, Severus stiffened and strode quickly to a seat that was furthest away from everyone else.
Rising to his feet, Dumbledore smiled at the sea of expectant faces before him. “Good morning, fifth years,” he said with a twinkle.
There was an eager chorus of ‘Good morning, Professor’ that Snape joined in with a grunt.
“Now I’m afraid I’ll only be continuing to teach Potions for a short while,” Dumbledore continued. “I am needed elsewhere, so you will be getting another temporary Potions teacher during Professor Snape’s absence.”
There was a murmur of disappointment, with an especially dismal sound coming from Neville. Severus sneered to himself. Just wait until he got back…
Dumbledore stood up and collected his notes. “Now, what were we studying last week?”
“Excuse me, Professor,” said Hermione, as Harry and Ron rolled their eyes, “ –but where exactly is Professor Snape, and when will he get back?”
Dumbledore looked surprised at the interruption and Hermione flushed. “As I mentioned earlier, Miss Granger, Professor Snape is sorting out some very tricky business that may take time. However, rest assured Gryffindors–” Dumbledore twinkled around to the rest of the class “–our Potions Master will be returning as soon as he can.”
The rest of the class gave him a feeble smile, followed afterwards by a slight shudder when he turned around. Snape smirked from behind his cauldron and started copying down notes.
It was nice to still have those snivellers in place, almost felt…back to normal.
“But the question is, what play are we to do?”
The class groaned silently and Ginny Weasley fell back into her usual daydream. They were still discussing which Muggle play to do for their assessment (well rather, Professor Mimble was chattering away and the rest of the class was ‘listening’).
Professor Mimble stopped suddenly and frowned. “What’s that noise?” he said sharply.
There was a strange rhythmic thumping noise coming from the back of the room. The drowsy class jerked awake and looked around blankly. Ginny giggled and pointed to her far left.
A singular Ravenclaw was banging his head slowly against his wooden desk.
The class gave a roar of laughter but the Professor looked alarmed. “Are you all right there, Boot?”
The Ravenclaw looked up and stared at him hysterically. “All right?” he said bitterly. “I think I’m going mad! If I don’t do something soon, I’m going to—”
“All right! All right!” cut in Mimble hastily. “But you try getting up here and teaching a whole lot of—no, no, just a figure of speech—sit down, I say!”
There was a slight struggle as William Boot tried to stand up on his desk with Mimble attached to his collar, while the rest of the class watched on in interest.
“GARN, BOOT!” came a cry, and soon the whole class was yelling and cheering and generally getting out of hand.
“SIT DOWN!” bellowed Mimble, slightly dishevelled.
But Boot had sat down for a restless two hours, and he wasn’t giving up that easily. “I SAY, WE WRITE THE PLAY OURSELVES!” he roared above the rabble, jumping up and down and accidentally kicking the Professor in the nose.
It was as if he’d just proposed rebellion to goblins, from the roar of enthusiasm he received in response.
“But…but that just defeats the purpose of Muggle Studies!” Mimble spluttered, purple in the face from trying to hold Boot’s ankles.
But Mimble’s voice was drowned out by another yell of joy; it was time for lunch.
Snape recognised the caller’s voice and nodded amicably. “Hullo,” he said. “What’re you in such a rush for?”
Ginny grinned at him and looked over her shoulder conspiringly. “We just had Muggle Studies and—” Ginny went off into peals of laughter.
“Don’t tell me,” Severus smiled slyly. “You revolted on Mimble?”
Ginny paused laughing and looked surprised. “How did you know?”
Severus snorted inwardly. He didn’t know why Dumbledore kept the pathetic man; this seemed to happen every year. In Snape’s opinion, he was even worse than Binns, because he actually noticed if you were sleeping or not.
Not waiting for a reply, Ginny tugged on his arm. “We’re going to be late!”
“We’ve got lunch,” he said with a frown, trying to wriggle his way out of her grip.
Ginny gave him a disbelieving look. “We’ve got try-outs for the Duelling Club! Lunch goes for an entire hour!”
Severus frowned and said, “Look, I don’t think Draco…”
Ginny glared at him. “Does everything have to revolve around Draco Malfoy?”
“I don’t know why you’re so angry at him,” said Severus. “They do both have blonde hair—”
“Oh! Take his side now! You always–”
“You wouldn’t happen to be talking about me, would you?” cut in a familiar drawl coming from behind them.
Ginny whirled on the young Slytherin. “What are you doing, sneaking up on—”
“I wasn’t sneaking!” Draco snapped, then under his breath, “–for a change…But it’s not my fault you’re now deaf as well as blind,” he added louder.
“Well, Severus and I are going to try out for the Duelling Club,” Ginny said. “So don’t try and stop us.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “As if I care,” he scoffed. “Besides, I think I might try out too.”
Ginny turned an angry red and Severus clapped him on the back. “Good, good, knew you would,” he said quickly. “Why don’t we all start heading over there now?”
With a disdainful sniff, Ginny turned her heel and started marching off without them. Draco grinned at her retreating figure and followed lazily.
“I don’t know how you stand her,” he called over his shoulder to the other boy. “She gets denser and denser everyday.”
Severus smirked. “As opposed to the retarded Slytherin?”
“Shut up, Severus.”
Not surprisingly, lots of students turned up on the Quidditch pitch to try out for a chance to be in the new Hogwarts Duelling Club. Rumour had spread that the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor was actually an Auror, and that things could really heat up into an interesting match.
Hermione was first there, followed quite eagerly by Harry and Ron, and then by nearly a third of the school. A slouching mob of Slytherins made up the majority, more numerous than the other houses put together.
Neville Longbottom, who decided he’d just come to watch, looked slightly unnerved at the surly sea of faces. Ron noticed his look and also grimaced. “They don’t look very sporting, do they?” he said darkly, pulling a face at a sneering sixth-year Slytherin.
Hermione looked at him sharply. “Don’t be silly, Ron! Just because they’re in Slytherin, doesn’t mean…”
But Hermione’s voice drained away when Millicent Bulstrode, an enormous Slytherin girl, thumped her fists together and glared at her. She began to stride forward when burly Slytherin boy stopped her. “We’ll get our chance later,” he said, smiling nastily at the trio.
Harry recognised him as Blaise Zabini, who was proving to be the dominant Slytherin now that Draco was always off with Snape. Even Crabbe and Goyle had stationed themselves around him, though Zabini didn’t need it. He was like an ancient Greek wrestler, but with the facial expressions of an angry bear.
Harry shuddered and looked away, his eyes falling on Ginny running towards them from the castle. He noted with concern her face was flushed.
“Ginny!” Hermione exclaimed. “What’s wrong?”
Harry could’ve sworn that Ginny had glanced slightly over her shoulder before answering. “Nothing!” she said abruptly. “Am I late?”
Ron frowned at her. “Are you going to try out too?”
“Well, why shouldn’t I?” she said defensively. “Honestly, Ron! You sound like Percy!”
Ron looked horrified at the accusation and looked at Harry and Hermione for support.
“Er…well, it wouldn’t hurt for Ginny to try out…”
“Yes, I think she’s proved that she can look after herself,” assured Harry, grinning at the blushing Ginny.
Ron stared at his two best friends in disbelief. “You…you don’t really think I sound like Percy, do you?”
Harry and Hermione laughed, giving him a light shove. Then Professor Garwood strode into the centre of the throng and the chatter died down.
“Welcome everyone,” she called. “I am quite surprised at the turn-out! Keep up this enthusiasm and I’m sure we’ll make professional duellers out of you all yet!”
The crowd of students gave a cheer, even the Slytherins.
“Now, we’ll start by each lining up in pairs…”
There was slight disorder as each chose their partners and shuffled into place. Harry and Ron automatically moved together and Hermione looked inquiringly at Ginny. Ginny grinned at her and they moved off to form the last pair.
Professor Garwood glanced up and down the forty pairs in amusement. She hadn’t expected this many students. It was interesting how the majority were Slytherins; she would’ve expected Gryffindors…
“Sorry we’re late,” came a voice behind her.
“Yeah, it’s all Severus’s fault,” drawled another, making her smile.
The Professor turned around and looked at them sharply. “You’re holding up the group,” she said, though her eyes were twinkling. “Hurry and line up with your partner.”
Draco smirked at Severus, whose neck was turning a pale tinge of pink. They faced each other in anticipation and lined up next to an annoyed-looking Ginny and Hermione.
No holding back, Draco’s look seemed to say.
Prepare to be knocked off your feet then, Snape’s laughing look replied.
“The first objective is to get your partner’s wand,” came Garwood’s voice. “I will watch your technique and method, and if I touch your shoulder then you are to move away to my left.”
Draco’s eyebrows waggled and he mouthed, “She wants you,” to the flushing boy opposite.
Snape bared his teeth in reply and Hermione looked at him in alarm.
“NOW!” Professor Garwood cried.
There was instantly a roar of ‘Expelliarmus’, but some people had yelled different curses as well, making about half of the students dance wildly or fall to the ground or even make loud animal noises.
Ginny was screaming with laughter (she had been hit with a tickle charm) and Hermione was staring at her legs in horror (they seemed to have disappeared).
Harry and Ron were each racing towards the other’s wand (they had used the Disarming spell at exactly the same moment, and had caused each other’s wands to fly backwards).
Half of the students now had the other person’s wand, and Professor Garwood started to divide the students accordingly. A certain pair happened to catch her eye, as they seemed to be arguing more than duelling.
Severus Snape leaped backwards and again missed Draco’s crackling curse.
“Not bad!” Snape smirked. “You’re learning well.”
Draco gritted his teeth. “You’re not trying!” he yelled, running at him and firing another hex at the same time.
Severus pointed his wand and performed a counter-curse. “Neither are you,” he retorted. “Use your cunning, don’t just—” Snape jerked out of the way of another crackling hex, “–rush into things,” he finished off.
Draco narrowed his eyes, inching slowly towards his superior-looking partner. “Fine.” Draco paused, a smirk creeping up his face. “But just wait ‘til I tell Professor Garwood that Sev Scrape has a crush on her–”
Severus’s smirk faded and he leapt on him with a roar, but Draco was ready for him. He quickly ducked around and grabbed the other boy’s wand like lightning.
“HA!” Draco yelled triumphantly.
“HA!” Snape yelled back.
The two boys stared at each other, each holding the other’s wand.
“Good!” said Garwood, as each boy felt a small pat on his shoulder. “Though why you two insist on physically fighting all the time is beyond me.”
Draco and Severus moved off silently, and joined eighteen other students to the left of the main group. Ginny ran towards them beaming, while Harry, Ron and Hermione watched dubiously.
“I knew you’d make it!” Ginny grinned, looking as though she wanted to throw her arms around them.
Severus and Draco exchanged a look, eyebrows raised.
“I’m the only fourth year here!” she whispered, trying to look modest but failing miserably. “Oh, I can’t believe it! Me!”
Some of the students who didn’t make it started to trudge off gloomily, while the majority stayed back and cheered for their friends.
“Congratulations all, for trying out! Don’t be discouraged if you weren’t chosen today, for anyone may work themselves to the top, starting from next week!” Professor Garwood surveyed the group of twenty in liking, before continuing. “These twenty, in particular, showed strategy and skill both efficient and unique. So it is with great pride that I introduce to you, the starting members of the new Hogwart’s Duelling Club!”
Cheered on by their friends, the duellers grinned in embarrassment. Draco looked around at the other members and was given a friendly punch by Blaise Zabini.
“Glad you made it in, Malfoy,” he said gruffly, then rather surprisingly he nodded to Severus. “You too.”
“Right,” Severus said with a shrug. He glanced at Harry and Co. and sniggered. Finally, he had a legitimate excuse to hex Gryffindors.
Everyone started heading back to the castle and Ginny waved happily goodbye to the boys, before leaving with Harry, Ron and Hermione.
“Looks like she’s forgotten your argument,” said Severus, waiting for Draco to buckle up his shoe that had come loose during their scuffle.
“Yeah,” said Draco, sounding surprised. “Weird.”
Remembering the look on Ginny’s face as she’d skipped off with Potter, Severus didn’t think her good mood was strange after all.
“Mr Snape, Mr Malfoy!”
Draco raised an eyebrow at the other boy and they both turned to face the speaker.
“Yes, Professor?” said Draco, with exaggerated politeness.
Professor Garwood crossed her arms and said, “Now, about your detention…”
Snape looked up with a frown. “But we were practicing duelling, Miss Garwood,” he said, trying to ignore the way her auburn hair glinted in the sunlight. “Surely you wouldn’t give us detention for that?”
“I don’t recall seeing any wands,” said Garwood with an amused smile playing across her lips. “And that’s Professor Garwood, Mr Snape.”
“Muggle duelling then,” said Draco. “For Mr Snape’s Muggle Studies homework.”
Draco caught Snape’s eye and just barely manage to contain a snigger. Professor Garwood leaned forward and put a hand on Severus’s shoulder. “Unfortunately for you two, someone else already has detention in the Trophy Room tonight.” She shook her head. “That Woodley...”
Draco wasn’t able to stifle this snigger and had to hastily straighten his face as Garwood stared at him.
continued, her eyes twinkling. “Since both of you are so exceedingly good at
Defence Against the Dark Arts…you are to help me tonight in the
Draco and Snape shared a look. Garwood seemed to think this would scare
them, but a night in the
Philip Woodley sighed and left the Gryffindor common room at nine o’clock. Ginny looked at him strangely as he got up.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“Detention,” he said with a shrug, giving her one last smile as he left.
Ginny made a sympathetic noise and glanced back at her book, wondering where on earth Severus was. It was getting late; maybe she should just go to bed…
But the chatter of loud voices coming through the portrait hole changed her mind. “Where were you?” she asked curiously, to an annoyed-looking Hermione.
“Hagrid’s,” the other girl replied grumpily, settling down on the next chair.
Ginny started to wonder why Hermione wasn’t in a good mood when she realised that Harry and Ron were talking about Quidditch. Again.
“—Well it shouldn’t be allowed!” Ron argued. “They can’t just replace their whole team with—”
“Yeah, I know!” cut in Harry. “But some of their Chasers are over at Beauxbatons so—”
“Well, one of our Chasers is over there too! But you don’t see us filling up our team with professionally trained players from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang…”
Ron’s voice trailed away as he caught sight of Harry’s face.
“What?” said Harry hoarsely. “What d’you mean, one of our Chasers?”
Ron stared at him, his mouth dropping open. “What? Didn’t…didn’t you know…?”
“Know what?” Harry demanded, staring at him apprehensively.
“It’s Alicia Spinnet,” Ron said incredulously. “She’s exchanged this year to Beauxbatons…”
Harry sat down hard on a thick rug. “And just when was the whole team going to tell me?” he groaned, his dreams of winning the Quidditch Cup going down the drain with one of their star Chasers.
It was Hermione’s turn to look surprised. “But…but everyone knows, Harry, we were told that day that Ginny disappeared…”
“And I don’t suppose that anyone noticed that I wasn’t there,” he said irritated. “And that I spent the first breakfast in the hospital wing with the ‘flu, from being stuck out half the night in the cold, wet—”
“But what were you doing out on the first night?” Ginny exclaimed, then reddening when Ron glared at her.
Harry looked at her uncomfortably and gave her an apologetic smile. “Er…sorry about all that,” he said, looking up at them all. “It’s just that I don’t want to fail the team as Captain…”
Ron gave a snort of laughter. “Oh, come on, Harry! We’re talking about the famous Harry Potter here! All we need is another Chaser, and if Snape’s as good as the twins say he is, we’ll win it with both arms and legs tied behind our backs!”
“Now, there’s an image,” Harry muttered, although the tension seemed to leave his face as he smiled back at Ron.
Hermione smiled at them both and gave them an encouraging squeeze. “Gryffindor couldn’t possibly lose,” she declared.
Ginny sat near the fire and watched them somewhat wistfully. They were all such good friends…
“All right!” said Harry briskly. “Well, how about you, Ron? You said you wanted to try out for Chaser sometime!”
“What? Oh! Oh, no…I don’t think…” Ron flustered, feeling suddenly embarrassed.
“Come on, Ron!” encouraged Ginny immediately. “You’re not that bad, even Charlie says so!”
“Yes! Come on, Ron!”
“You’ve always wanted to…”
And so the conversation thus ensued until Ron finally yelled that only if they had proper trials, then he would try out properly. And before anyone could reply, he strode quickly up the stairs to his dormitory, his ears pink. Harry and Hermione grinned at each other and laughed.
“Good night, Harry,” Hermione said with a yawn, climbing another set of stairs. “‘Night, Ginny.”
The two remaining students chorused a reply and also got up. Harry looked at Ginny uncomfortably.
“Thanks for helping convince Ron,” he said, smiling awkwardly.
“That’s all right,” Ginny said shyly. “Er…good night.”
“Good night,” Harry replied, and climbed up the stairs to go to bed.
Professor Garwood looked bemusedly at the two figures striding towards her.
surprised you’re not late,” she said dryly, as Draco and Severus flung back their
hoods. “Let alone early. Not many students look forward to a nine p.m. stroll
Draco gave her a cocky smirk. “Severus and I aren’t like most students,” he drawled.
Garwood raised her eyebrows and gave Severus a hard look. “Indeed,” she stated, and started walking towards the gloomy forest.
Severus glared at Draco and the young Slytherin gave an innocent shrug.
“Now, I trust you both know what a bogie looks like?” Garwood said shortly. “Pretty harmless, little gnome-like creatures with scaly hands and feet. Usually covered in mud and leaves.”
Severus nodded and Draco smirked. “Sure it hasn’t got red hair and a whiny voice as well?” he muttered under his breath.
“Now, I know that you have both proved that you can look after yourselves in here,” she said approvingly, not hearing Draco’s comment. “But we still must keep together, or the Headmaster will have my head.”
The two boys nodded once more, but looked at each other gloomily. Professor Garwood looked at them both and suddenly smiled.
The three, cloaked figures padded quietly through the gloomy forest. They had been going for quite a while now, only stopping now and then to check some freshly dug burrows for the infamous bogies.
“I don’t understand it.” The Professor frowned. “It’s exactly the right time for them to be out, so where are they?”
Severus rolled his eyes. She really was a bit of an idiot. “They are out, but they can hear us coming from a mile away,” he scoffed.
“That’s a bit rich,” replied Draco. “You’re making just as much noise as we are.”
“I am not,” growled Severus. “I bet I can get one in five minutes if you two stay here.”
Garwood shushed them. “This isn’t a field trip,” she reprimanded. “Lead if you like, but I won’t have you two fighting again.”
“Fine,” Severus muttered. “I still bet I’ll catch one first.”
Draco shook his head sceptically. Severus may have been brilliant in duelling and Quidditch, but he needed to take some serious lessons in charm.
They walked on for a few minutes even more silent than before, when Severus darted suddenly out of view. In an instant he reappeared again, something large and wriggly hanging from his hand.
“Told you,” he said smugly. “Stupefy.”
Draco squinted at the limp creature hanging by its tail in the darkness. “All right, Severus!” he exclaimed. “Now can we go? I’m bored…”
“Detention is not meant to be fun,” Professor Garwood said severely. “And we need at least five more.”
“No problem,” bragged Severus, twirling the bogie around by its tail. “I could catch these pitiful things in my sleep.”
“Give me that!” Garwood exclaimed, snatching at the slowly getting airborne creature. “You’ll take out someone’s eye!”
“I will not,” replied Severus with dignity. “And it’s not my fault you’re standing so close.”
“I was talking about Mr Malfoy,” grated Garwood, “and—see! Look!”
Draco was rubbing his shoulder; a spike from the bogie’s tail had gone right through his cloak and robes. “What’d you do that for?” he shouted.
“Shut up!” Snape muttered, glaring at him in the darkness.
“Well stop bloody showing—Oof!”
Draco gasped as Snape shoved him into a nearby tree.
“Quiet, boys!” hissed Garwood. “There’s one! Stupefy!”
Professor Garwood picked up the stunned bogie and waved it around triumphantly.
“Stop that!” said Severus irritably. “You’ll take out someone’s eye.”
“Don’t be cheeky,” said Garwood sternly, but then laughed. “Right, the person with the most bogies in five minutes gets a free Butterbeer from the other two! Go!”
Draco smirked at the other boy and dived into the shadows. Severus scowled back and pushed him over, getting to the burrow first. After a lot of scuffling, Severus managed to get the bogie first, with Draco glaring at him and leaping at another hole instead.
“Five minutes is up!” called Garwood. “And I think you two owe me a Butterbeer.”
Draco and Severus got up scowling, their faces streaked with dirt.
“I’ve got two,” protested Draco, holding up one of his own and grabbing one of Severus’s.
“So have I!” frowned Severus, holding up one of them and looking around for the other.
“Well, I have three,” said the Professor, with an unusual smirk. “I think this strategy is a lot better than sneaking around, eh?”
Draco and Severus smiled grudgingly at each other and started to follow as she strode off.
“Well, at least we have one good thing out of all this,” muttered Draco to his companion, giving him a meaningful smirk.
“What’s that?” Severus asked warningly, lowering his voice as Garwood turned around.
“You get to buy her a drink,” leered Draco, elbowing him in the side.
Severus rolled his eyes. A moment later, however, he caught himself smiling.
“Very good, Severus, take five points for Gryffindor.”
“But I’m not in Gryffindor,” he protested.
“Yes, you are! Now be a good boy and—”
“I’M NOT A BOY!”
“Don’t be silly, of course you are, and I’ve already told you I don’t go out with students twenty years younger than me so—”
Severus sat up in bed with a jerk and wrenched a startled black kitten off his face. He got up and glared into the mirror irritably. What a stupid dream, he scowled to himself. These blasted hormones went on overdrive whenever he went to sleep.
He continued giving his reflection his most ferocious scowl possible until he felt something soft brush against his legs. Oreo started to purr and Snape’s scowl faded slowly away. He looked at the kitten grumpily and aimed a half-hearted cuff at its neck. The kitten gave a small mew and swiped at him with a tiny paw.
Severus sighed and threw a light robe on over his drawers. “We’re going to Hagrid’s,” he muttered to the cat. “Hopefully Fang will eat you this time.”
Oreo put her nose in the air and leapt onto her usual spot on her master’s shoulders. Severus padded quietly down the stairs and looked around for Ginny. Seeing no one, he shrugged and left the common room. He was soon out on the grounds, hurrying towards Hagrid’s hut. The sun was just coming up but no one seemed to be out yet.
Draco must have slept in as well, he thought. He supposed it didn’t matter, he felt like a bit of physical exertion anyway.
He reached the hut and was greeted at the door by Hagrid. “Ah, Sev! Thought yeh might be comin’ round t’day!” he boomed heartily.
Severus ignored the nickname as usual and nodded cordially at the shaggy groundskeeper.
“Now, abou’ that special project…”
Snape groaned, despite himself. Surely they weren’t going to shift rocks around again?
Hagrid chuckled at Snape’s expression. “No, no, Sev,” he continued. “Here, I’ll show yeh what I mean.”
Hagrid motioned for Severus to follow and starting walking off in the direction of the shimmering lake. Severus followed curiously, throwing Oreo off onto a joyful Fang as he left. Instead of going to the lake’s edge, Hagrid walked around to where the forest met the lake, disappearing into a tangle of weeds and vines.
Severus frowned and went forward cautiously, pulling back a branch and peering through. “Hagrid?” he called uncertainly.
“Over ‘ere!” came a muffled shout.
Severus pushed his way forward, vines and brambles scratching him in the face. It brought back memories of being lost in the forest and instead of feeling irritated, he eventually emerged from the enormous weeds with his eyes gleaming and a slight smile on his face.
“Come on!” came the muffled shout again.
Snape stopped and faced an impenetrable bush that seemed to stretch far into the forest. He looked the other way and it seemed to go right round to the edge of the lake.
“This way!” came a sudden cheery roar.
Severus jumped, startled. Hagrid’s gigantic head was sticking out of the seemingly solid bush a few yards away.
“This way!” he repeated, reminding Severus of a five hundred pound niffler on the scent of a leprechaun.
Severus walked towards where Hagrid’s head had disappeared and stared at the bush dubiously. It seemed solid enough. He pushed his arm against it and was surprised to find it went straight through. Feeling rather idiotic, he went leg first through the ‘hole’ and straightened out on the other side.
He was not prepared for what he saw. It was like a hugely overgrown garden. There were small cobbled paths running around the small area, but they were so worn and covered with weeds that it was nearly impossible to see that they were there. A swampy, over-grown pond littered with a couple of mouldy-looking statues was before him, but what immediately caught his eye was the enormous tree, even larger than the Whomping Willow and much, much older, growing majestically in the centre. Hagrid motioned silently to Severus and both walked slowly towards it. The unusually silent Groundskeeper sat on an ancient stone bench beneath the leafy boughs and patted the seat for Snape to join him. Severus sat stiffly, but then drew in a sharp breath. He was not the type to get sentimental about views, but this one… it was magnificent.
The early morning sun glittered off the silver lake, making the colours dance and the rising castle walls seem even taller and more majestic than before. All his time at Hogwarts, both school years and teaching, he had never witnessed this grand a view.
In fact, he frowned suddenly, why hadn’t anyone found this place yet? Surely Dumbledore must know about it, and why didn’t he inform the staff? How did Hagrid know about it?
Seeing Severus’s puzzled look, Hagrid nodded in response. “Quite a while back I stumbled across this place by accident.” Hagrid looked somewhat troubled by the memory, but his brow lightened as he continued. “But when I came back… it seemed so… it’s a great place jus’ to sit and think… There’s somethin’ abou’ this place that jus’ calms yeh.”
A warm breeze wafted across Severus, and he felt his body agree.
“So when Dumbledore suggested I show you this place, and I’ve noticed yeh don’t mind the odd spot of gardenin’— I thought that maybe…”
Severus ran his fingers through his hair uncomfortably. “It’s really incredible.”
Hagrid looked around him wistfully and grunted. “Maybe yeh can clean this place up a bit,” he said. “It must’ve been glorious in its time.”
Severus glanced up at the magnificent tree, silently agreeing. Hagrid followed his gaze and motioned a giant hand towards an area of the trunk where the outer bark didn’t grow. Faintly scribed into the tree were the letters, G.G, H.H, R.R, and S.S.
“The Founders,” Snape breathed. No wonder the whole area felt ancient…
“Yeh know the story, about how the four of ‘em gathered together an’ decided to build a school?”
“Dumbledore reckons they were standing on this spot when they decided, lookin’ out over the lake to where Hogwarts now stands.”
Severus stared out at the view once more, feeling awed that he might be standing in the Founders footprints. Eventually tearing his eyes away, he got to his feet and started to wander around the garden with renewed interest. He noticed that the thick bush he had seen on the outside surrounded the whole perimeter, even overhanging the bank onto the lake. After a closer inspection, the four dilapidated statues around the swamp were actually the Hogwarts animals, the water now stagnant in each of their basins. He was just beginning to wonder what the statue in the middle originally was, when Hagrid called out to him.
“Breakfast’s in ‘alf an hour,” Hagrid said, looking at the sun. “Better head back.”
Severus pulled himself away from the pond reluctantly. “Coming,” he replied, and followed Hagrid out of the invisible gap into the tangled thicket outside.
Pushing his way through the brambles, Severus was soon crossing the short grass of the grounds once more. He was greeted uproariously by a frolicking Fang and Oreo, and couldn’t keep a straight face when thinking of where he had just went. It was amazing! Just wait until he showed Draco!
Severus paused and shot Hagrid a guilty look. Would he care if Snape showed his secret place to someone who tried to get him sacked?
The Groundskeeper looked at him questioningly. “What is it?” he answered.
Severus looked at him uncomfortably and flushed slightly. “Doesn’t matter,” he muttered, trying to convince himself that Draco wouldn’t be interested in a stupid garden anyway.
Hagrid looked at him perceptively. “I don’ mind if yeh tell anyone abou’ the garden,” he said gruffly. “It’s not my place to boss over.”
Severus sent him a keen look and Hagrid nodded slowly. “P’raps it’ll do that Malfoy some good,” the half-giant said shortly over his shoulder, as he closed his hut door behind him.
Turning around slowly, Severus started to make his way back to the entrance doors, thinking, perhaps, that Hagrid was more deserving of people’s respect than he’d thought.
“Why, hello, Mr Snape!” exclaimed a feminine voice to the right of him.
Severus paused mid-step, groaning as he recognised the voice but turning to face her anyway. “Good morning, Miss- er- Professor,” he said, in a kind of strangled voice.
If only those memories of that horrible dream he’d had earlier would go away…
“I see our midnight stroll didn’t seem to phase you into sleeping in this morning,” Garwood smiled. “I’ve just come back from feeding and watering our crafty bogies.”
Severus Snape ran his fingers through his short hair. “Oh…er…they didn’t give you any trouble, did they?”
Garwood laughed. “No fear!” she said. “And I’m not surprised either, with the way you and Draco were spinning them around…”
Severus stared at a point directly in front of him, trying to forget those warm grey eyes boring into him. They walked through the huge oak doors and soon reached the entrance of the Great Hall. Snape breathed a sigh of relief and Garwood sent him a concerned look.
“Are you feeling ill?” she asked kindly.
Severus coloured deeply and muttered a short reply before going down to sit at the Gryffindor table. Glaring at his food, he once again cursed his teenage hormones. Why, if he were in his full-grown, normal body, she would be the one getting all hot and bothered.
Yes, Snape smirked to himself as he swished his porridge, just wait until he changed back…
“Where were you this morning?” snapped an angry voice beside his shoulder.
Snape’s smirk vanished in an instant as glared upward at the speaker. “What’s it to you, Potter?” he sneered.
Harry narrowed his eyes and looked Severus full in the face. “I’m Gryffindor’s Quidditch Captain and we all agreed that we would practise this morning before breakfast, so where were you?”
Severus crossed his arms and looked down his nose at the famous boy wizard. “Ha! I don’t need to practise,” he said. “And besides, who died and made you Captain?”
A flicker of emotion crossed Harry’s face at these last few words and Severus saw him give the Hufflepuff table a haunted look.
“We voted Harry in as Captain!” came a chorus of voices on either side of Harry’s shoulders.
“And so did we!” said Katie Bell and Angelina Johnson, joining the Weasley twins.
Harry smiled faintly at them and shot Severus a steely look. “We practise every Wednesday morning before breakfast, and every Sunday afternoon after lunch, like it or lump it.”
Severus looked darkly at the whole Quidditch team standing before him. He knew that Potter was longing to kick him out of the team, which was more than enough reason to stay on and annoy the hell out of him. “I’ll be there,” he snickered. “But only because you asked so nicely.”
The Weasley twins laughed but Harry just gave him a cold look. He looked as if he was about to say something further but Ron and Hermione suddenly appeared and grasped his shoulders.
“Don’t worry, Harry,” Hermione murmured. “You’ll do fine.”
Ron threw him a quick scowl before marching Harry away. Severus glared around the table once more until he saw a certain slick-haired Slytherin enter the room. Severus felt a sudden gladness come over him as Draco Malfoy waved him down and beckoned him over to the Slytherin table.
“Hullo, Draco,” Severus said quite pleasantly, forgetting his small fight with Potter.
Draco nodded amicably to him and slid him a new plate of food. “Sorry, slept in,” he said through a mouthful of food. “I can’t believe we got back at one a.m., weird, eh?”
Severus looked at him, startled. “Did we really?” he asked, taken aback. “But I didn’t feel at all tired when we got back.”
“That’s because you’re strange,” Draco said knowingly. “Or was it because you were up all night thinking about…”
Severus rolled his eyes. “Oh, yes, how on earth could I sleep when all I could think about was her.”
“Talking about me, Severus?” Ginny laughed, coming up behind him and sitting next to Draco (much to the horror of the rest of the Slytherins).
Draco sent her a scathing look. “As if,” he scoffed, poking her with a banana he had in his hand. “You think too much of yourself, Weasley.”
“Oh, so it’s Weasley now?” she exclaimed, clutching her heart in mock distress. “And apparently I’m the one who’s always acting all ‘Oh! Everyone-kiss-my-erotic-mauve-pyjamas-because-I-have-blonde-hair-and-resemble-a-ferret’—”
“There’s nothing wrong with erotic mauve,” replied Draco defensively. “And how d’you know what colour pyjamas I have?”
“Oh, Draco!” sobbed a voice suddenly. “How could you?”
Draco turned around just in time to see a tearful Pansy Parkinson storming off. Without meaning to, Severus emitted a loud guffaw and Ginny went off into uncontrollable laughter. Draco frowned at them in exasperation.
“Pansy!” he called.
But Pansy simply made a rude gesture at the shocked Slytherin and turned her eyes adoringly upon an alarmed Blaise Zabini.
“Idiots,” Draco muttered to his two companions. “This is all your fault.”
“I knew it was coming!” declared Ginny. “It will always be ‘all our fault’.”
Draco looked at her in annoyance. “I thought you weren’t talking to us,” he said grumpily, finishing off the remainder of his breakfast.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Ginny replied haughtily. “But since you’re losing sleep because you can’t stop thinking about me…”
“I’m willing to let ‘the matter’ go. In fact, it’s officially closed,” Ginny finished off firmly.
Severus, who had been shovelling in food blinked at the two of them. “What’s the matter?”
Ginny and Draco rolled their eyes at him. “Nothing,” said Draco. “But I know what’s the matter with you…”
“What?” asked Severus.
“Nothing,” Draco repeated. “But I know what’s the matter with you…”
“I heard what you said!” snapped Snape. “But what’s the matter with you? I mean Ginny. I mean…oh, take that!”
Draco ducked under the table to avoid a gigantic grapefruit fly across the table.
“Sorry about that,” said Severus hastily, as the grapefruit hit the wall and covered a couple of Slytherins with juice.
“Oh, doesn’t matter,” smirked Draco, popping his head back up and flicking his wand at Severus’s porridge.
Luckily they were stopped before the whole table joined in.
“So why are we—”
Fifteen students sat in gloomy silence, one student flicked his wand disinterestedly, and one irritated Muggle Studies teacher paced the classroom.
“I know you’ve already studied Muggle literature last year, but this is a chance to gain some extra credit where some of you failed.”
Most of the students shuddered, a few looked indignant, and one continued to flick his wand disinterestedly.
“I have decided that the fourth years aren’t to do a Muggle ballet like last year…”
The class snorted.
“You mean my brother and his class revolted on you and you let them write the play themselves–” muttered a sturdy-looking Ravenclaw.
“What was that, Boot?” said Mimble sharply.
Terry Boot grunted.
“And I know we have already started Social Interactions of Muggles, or SIMs if you rather,” continued Mimble, ignoring the usual lack of enthusiasm. “But I do urge you to take a part in the play, because, as I said before, many of you failed last year’s unit…”
“Maybe ‘cause I had to wear bloody tights,” growled another Ravenclaw.
“I am strongly recommending that you take a part…”
“You know the only reason he doesn’t want us to fail is because our parents will complain that he’s a stupid—”
“ARE YOU WHISPERING, FINCH-FLETCHLEY?!”
“Yes! No! I mean, no, Sir.”
“Hmm…now, since you have all agreed to take part in—Mr Snape!”
The single student who had been waving his wand disinterestedly the whole time had accidentally caused a string of sparks to appear, incidentally igniting the hem of Mimble’s robes.
“Sorry,” said Snape unembarrassed. “Did you say something, Mim—er – Professor?”
As with all the other times that Mimble found himself in trouble, the rest of the class watched on in interest as the flustered man tried to yell at a student and undo the mess that they had caused at the same time. The flames finally went out and Mimble rounded on Snape with his robes still smoking.
“You…you…” Mimble stuttered with rage, nearly purple at the sight of the smirking student. “DETENTION!”
Severus’s smirk faded and he stared at the wall with a sigh.
“And five points from Gryffindor!” Mimble finished with one last glare.
Severus cheered up. Well, that was one thing, at least.
Draco Malfoy walked at his usual leisurely pace to the next class, staring at the mass of his fellow Slytherins in front of him. They still treated him with the usual respect that he naturally got for being the richest and of purest blood, but they behaved differently around him now. It was as if they weren’t quite sure what to make of him, as if both of his parents had just died or he had some kind of mental disorder. Crabbe and Goyle were starting to hover around Zabini now, and Pansy kept fawning over him like they were arranged to be married.
Still gazing at the group before him, Draco waited for the trickle of jealousy to follow through.
“Weird,” he muttered to himself. Zabini had taken his position as leader of the fifth year Slytherins, and he didn’t even care.
“Sickle for your thoughts!” said the voice of Ginny Weasley in his ear.
Draco drifted back to reality and turned his head towards the passer-by. “You’ve got Severus’s cat,” he stated.
Ginny held up Oreo for Draco to carry. “She wants him, can’t you take her? And hullo t’you too!”
Draco frowned as the purring kitten extended a slender paw and swiped the air in his direction. “I don’t do cats,” he scowled, returning Oreo’s malevolent glare.
“Please?” pleaded Ginny jokingly, looking back at the rest of her departing classmates. “Pretty please?”
“Get away from me,” said Draco, disgusted, noticing a few Slytherins looking back at them and grinning.
Ginny’s playful mood changed and she scowled back. Draco felt relieved; he liked her better when she was frowning.
“Take her, Malfoy!” she snapped, and thrust the alarmed kitten into his arms before marching off.
“Get over yourself, Weasley!” Draco yelled after her, and smirked to himself. She was so easy to annoy now… “Ouch!” he exclaimed, as Oreo sank her teeth into his arm and bounded off. “If you were anyone else’s cat…” he gritted to himself. “What the…?”
Draco stared down the completely empty passageway and started off on a run.
“Where the hell’d they all go?” he muttered to himself.
He looked into their usual classroom but it seemed to be empty. He stood still for a while and tried to think of where they would have gone. A sudden creak of an opening door caught his attention.
Might as well follow it, he shrugged, and ran up the stairs, searching for the source of the noise.
He paused outside of a half-open door and listened for any noise that might be going on inside. He looked at the engraved letters on the door and immediately felt foolish. He was standing outside of the Trophy Room, and it wasn’t bloody likely that his class was in there. Draco started to leave when an awful hollow groan froze him in his tracks. He looked around but no one was in sight. He backed away from the half-open door and heard the same hollow groan again, coming from inside.
If this had happened last year, he wouldn’t have stayed around to hear another sound, he would’ve left straight away.
But this year was different.
he had spent almost a week in the
Draco mentally counted to three and rushed through the door. “AHA–ouugh!”
Draco’s triumphant yell was cut short as he collided head on with someone roughly the same size as him, and fell onto the floor.
“Groooough,” he gurgled, glaring at the other boy. “What the…what the hell are you doing here?!”
Philip Woodley smiled faintly at him. “Sorry,” he said cheerily. “I got separated from our class… accidentally wound up here. Well, should be going then, bye!” And with that abrupt speech, the younger boy got up and hastily left the room.
Draco scowled at his retreating figure, wondering what the hell Ginny saw in that thick-headed chump. “Besides the good looks of course,” he sniggered out loud, catching a glimpse of his face in the reflection of a trophy.
Then, remembering where he was supposed to be, he hurriedly picked up his fallen wand and leaped up for the door. A sudden impulse made him stop though.
What the hell had made that groaning noise?
He looked around cautiously but nothing seemed to be out of place. The only queer thing about the room was that everything was spick and span, as if all the trophies had been polished and cleaned every single day since the start of term.
That’s a lot of detentions, he thought to himself as he stared around at the gleaming figures of brass. But he’d better get going… perhaps the class was outside for the day…
Dwelling on that thought, Draco walked swiftly towards the windowsill.
“Aha!” he exclaimed, looking out and seeing the unmistakable group of DADA fifth years down below.
He squinted down at them, wondering if he could summon his Nimbus from up here and make a dramatic entrance. He reluctantly decided against it. It was something that attention-seeking Potter and Weasley would do. He, Draco, didn’t need to fly in to arrive in style.
“Zabini! Seen Draco?”
Blaise Zabini looked doubtfully at the speaker and gave a negative grunt. Severus frowned and kept walking. He wondered if he should quickly cut back and look for him, but the class and Professor had stopped walking and were now all gathered around a large, black, rectangular object.
“Now, I’m sure you’ve all guessed what I am about to show you,” Professor Garwood called. “Yes, Miss Granger?”
“The captured Hellhounds,” Hermione said promptly, staring at a surly-faced Snape, much to his dislike.
“Yes,” said Garwood, turning around to see whom Hermione was giving such a hard look and smiling slightly at Snape’s expression. “A Ministry official is coming today to collect them, but for the time being they are situated within this opaque magical-prism.”
Snape looked on in interest as a few of the Gryffindor girls shuddered and backed slightly away. He strode to the front of the group and touched the black box with a slight scowl on his face. Professor Garwood tapped the surface with her wand and muttered a few words under her breath.
The whole class gasped (even the Slytherins) and jerked involuntarily as the prism became crystal clear. Lavender Brown screamed as an enormous black dog threw itself at the glass, leaving specks of drool on the side. Severus narrowed his eyes and resisted a ridiculous urge to hiss.
There was a big bundle of fur in the corner, making it hard to tell which dog was which. There was only one beast active, the one that had tried to pounce on Lavender. Severus glared at it and wondered whether this was the one that had bit him. He looked at the others and was surprised to see that they didn’t seem to be hurt at all, not even scarred from where Ginny had repeatedly used the ‘Diffindo’ slashing curse.
“Their healing powers are phenomenal,” Garwood said quietly. “They may be ruthless and terrible, but even we can benefit from studying their magical properties.”
“But there’s no way we’re going to do that… yeah, Professor?”
“No, not likely at all,” she smiled at Dean Thomas. “I think we’ll leave that to the experts.”
There was some nervous laughter that died away when the dog’s eyes started to glow a deep red. The terrible beast transfixed his gaze on Severus and started growling. Severus gave it his best sneer in reply, tapping tauntingly on the glass as its hackles rose.
“Show off,” muttered Ron under his breath to Harry, who was looking very closely at Snape’s sneer.
The class gazed silently at the staring battle that Snape and the salivating creature were taking part in.
“Maybe he wants a biscuit,” came a sudden drawl by Snape’s elbow.
Both Gryffindors and Slytherins jumped, along with the Professor. “Did you just join us, Mr Malfoy?” said Garwood sternly.
Draco looked up bemusedly and turned back to the clear prism. “Look, he likes me too,” he commented, moving his hand around and laughing at the promptness at which the slavering wolf followed it.
“‘Like’ is rather a strong word, Mr Malfoy,” said Garwood. “Everyone get one last look at the creatures and we’ll head back. Remember, I want a foot and a half on the characteristics of a Hellhound next lesson.”
The class groaned, but looked rather relieved to hear that they were going soon. Both Gryffindors and Slytherins looked slightly grey as they moved closer for one last glance. There was something just foul and terrible about the blood-redness of the eyes and the ever so slightly twitching muscles, something that made you want to gag and scream at the same time.
“Where were you?” asked Severus, as he and Draco trailed behind the returning class.
Draco shrugged. “Nowhere.” He motioned into the distance at the Professor’s retreating back. “So what’s the deal with you and Garwood then? Any updates?”
But Severus was only half-listening, and the glint of the lake had caught his eye instead. “Oh! I’ve got something to tell you…”
Draco looked taken aback. “Do you really?” he asked, sounding impressed.
“What?” said Snape, looking confused. “No! Not… you dunderhead! No, there’s a place I have to show you—”
But at that moment a tiny ball of black fur flung itself directly at Snape’s face, startling him into flinging his wand out and accidentally poking Draco in the eye.
“Hey!” yelled Draco, fending it off. “First it’s your bloody cat, and now you! Lay off, will you?!”
Snape glanced at the angry-faced Slytherin and laughed. “Oreo,” he smirked, stroking the purring kitten’s soft fur. “Draco’s a bit miffed, have you been hunting ferrets again?”
Draco glared at him exasperatingly. “I’ve had it up to here with all the stupid ferret references,” said Draco annoyed, but then adding with a slight gleam in his eye. “Hey wait, don’t eagle-owls like to eat small, annoying kittens…?”
Snape looked at him sharply.
“Don’t you dare—”
Draco grinned at him lazily. “Oh dear, old chap, you seem to be getting a bit miffed…”
“I mean it, Malfoy.”
Draco sighed and shrugged. “Get over yourself, Severus,” he said, and they entered the doors to prepare for their next class.
A/N: Bogies are mythological creatures I’ve taken a few liberties with once more.