~ In which Snape becomes the villain ~
soon passed quickly by as the weather grew colder. It had been nearly two
months since Draco, Ginny and Severus had gotten lost in the
Severus had shown Draco the hidden garden by the lake (“What the hell is this place doing here?”) and they had set to work weeding the barely visible lawn and replacing the worn out path. Severus was rather surprised to notice that Draco didn’t complain when they were required to shift the huge stones into place for cleaning. He guessed that he too was feeling restless, and had become used to trekking for hours in the forest. Or maybe it was just because Severus could lift with ease, boulders that Draco could only roll.
Whatever the reason, Severus had noticed a difference in Draco. Even Ginny when they were practising duelling against each other found that more force seemed to come from Draco’s hexes than ever before.
Along with the Duelling Club, Quidditch practise, fixing up the garden, and the usual homework and detentions, Severus barely had time to revisit his office every now and then to continue his potion brewing.
Deciding to dash down before lunch, Severus packed up his Charms books hurriedly and left the classroom. To his dismay he collided head on with Professor Garwood.
“Ah, Mr Snape! I seem to recall you mentioning that you take Muggle Studies. I assume you’re on your way to the casting now?”
Severus’s face dropped. He’d completely forgotten about the awful play. Ginny’s class had been writing it for the past month, drawing heavy inspiration from the Muggle fairytale, Flashdance.
“Yeah, I suppose.” His face brightened. “Except I’ve been feeling sort of ill lately. I might have to visit the hospital wing first…” And then never show up, he finished mentally.
Garwood smiled indulgently. “Feeling butterflies already? A confident young man like you? Nonsense! Come on, Professor Mimble requested my presence. You can direct me to the room.”
“Severus!” Draco yelled, peeling himself from the mass of Slytherins trooping down the hall. “Lunch!”
Severus shrugged at Garwood apologetically. “Lunch,” he agreed. “I’m absolutely starving.”
“You said you were ill.”
Severus clutched his stomach. “I’m ill with hunger.”
Garwood frowned at him and Draco marched up, grinning suggestively. “Hello, Professor.”
“Mr Malfoy, do you do Muggle Studies?”
Draco snorted. “No!” Then he turned towards Snape. “Oh, that’s right! You’ve got casting for your Muggle play this lunch!” Severus glared at him. “Ginny was going on about it. Apparently there’s singing.”
Draco went off into guffaws of laughter and Professor Garwood gave him a disapproving look. “I suppose you know where it is then,” she said.
“Oh, yes.” Draco grinned, motioning him to follow. “Come on, Severus, or we’ll be late.”
Severus groaned and Garwood frowned at him a second time. “Coming…” he muttered. He cast a sulky look at Garwood who started to walk in front of him. “Professor, what does Mimble need you for?”
“Moral support,” said Garwood breezily. “Cheer up, Mr Snape. I’m sure your lunch won’t eat itself.”
Severus glowered, wishing that Mimble had chosen any other Professor to help him control the students. He kicked at the hem of Draco’s robe.
To his annoyance, Draco just glanced over his shoulder and winked. “You know,” he said to Garwood. “I bet Severus is going to get the lead role.” Severus kicked his robe harder and Draco beamed. “He has the voice of an angel.”
Garwood cleared her throat. “Is it much further?”
“Nearly there. Are you going to Hogsmeade on Friday night, Professor? I believe we still owe you Butterbeers.”
Severus fumed behind them but Garwood didn’t notice. She smiled at Draco. “Of course.”
As the three of them rounded the corner, they were met with Mimble’s voice yelling over uproarious cheering. Garwood walked through the doorway of the old classroom and the fourth and fifth years’ cheering died down. Mimble hurried towards her from the other side of the room, while Woodley leapt from the collapsible stage.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Mimble muttered. “These students don’t seem to value my opinion at all.”
Garwood raised her eyebrows. “That’s unfortunate.” She motioned to Draco and Severus. “Here, I’ve brought more recruits.”
Mimble looked at Draco. “You’re not in my class.”
“Oh, I’m just here to observe,” said Draco. “But Muggles are so interesting, aren’t they? I’m absolutely obsessed with comblutors and the internets.”
Mimble’s frown dissipated. “I do love comblutors.”
“You do realise,” said Ginny, sidling up to Mimble and snorting at Draco’s earnest expression. “He’s taking the piss.”
“Language, Miss Weasley,” said Mimble. “Although the accusation offends me even more. Five points from Gryffindor for being cynical.”
Draco caught Severus’s eye. Unable to help himself, Severus burst out laughing.
Ginny rounded on him and crossed her arms. “Severus,” she said, her eyes gleaming. “I don’t suppose you’d like to try out next?”
“Certainly not,” said Severus, though hesitating at Garwood’s encouraging smile. “I mean… that is… What’s the part?”
“The dashing hero!” declared Draco. “There is no lesser part that Severus Snape could—ow!”
Ginny stepped off Draco’s foot. “Don’t be stupid. Philip’s the lead; everybody voted.” She turned to Severus. “No offence, it’s just that everyone thought you were more… well, the villain type.”
“The villain?” repeated Severus, scowling.
Garwood, Mimble, Draco and Ginny stared at his face and started nodding at each other.
“I’d always thought he had a villainous sort of face,” said Mimble.
Snape’s scowl intensified. “Certainly not,” he repeated. “I just wanted a background part.” He paused, realising that half the room had ceased their conversations and were staring at him in anticipation. He glared around at them. “You hear that? You can’t make me do something I don’t want to do! I am not playing the villain. The mere concept offends me. Besides, I’m in Gryffindor… I’m not evil.”
“He’s so tortured,” whispered one of the Ravenclaw girls.
Severus rounded on her. “No, I’m not!” he said angrily. “You stupid girl!”
All of a sudden a great gust of wind swept through the classroom window, billowing out Severus’s cloak to its full length around him. Mimble gave a slight scream and the room gasped. The Ravenclaw girl started fanning her face.
“Genius,” said Woodley, clapping his hands.
“Brilliant,” said Garwood.
“Absolutely inspired,” said Draco.
Ginny threw her arms around a flushed Severus. “I knew you’d be perfect!”
Feeling absolutely humiliated, Severus found himself unable to say a word. When did everybody stop taking him seriously?
It was very late at night when Severus crept back up to his dormitory. He’d checked on his potions and spoken to Dumbledore, who didn’t seem at all worried that he was no closer to finding a cure. He’d even hired a temporary Potions Master to replace him.
Pulling off his shoes, Severus slid into bed. He wondered if Dumbledore ever expected him to change back. A tinge of guilt grew in Snape’s stomach. It was so easy to get distracted by the day-to-day life at Hogwarts. Life had seemed much simpler at the beginning of term. Back then there were no week-long treks in the Forbidden Forest or idiotic plays or female Professors that didn’t know that he was actually a couple of years older than them…
He didn’t know how or why, but he would eventually change back, and then… then he would claim his prize.
“Ron! Wake up!”
“Quidditch prac. Come on!”
Ron Weasley rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed. “Jeez, Harry, I think Oliver was a bad influence on you…”
“Look!” replied Harry Potter in satisfaction. “Snape’s still sleeping!”
Ron blinked and stared across at a peaceful looking Severus in the next bed.
“Well, have fun—” Ron started to say, when he remembered that he had been chosen for Chaser during Trials the day before.
His enthusiasm seemed to wane as he felt a breeze of cold air blow in through the window. He was going to shoot Harry a wheedling look, but changed his mind when he saw how serious his best friend looked.
“All right,” said Ron wearily. “I’ll go get changed and you can wake our dear lamb.”
Harry grinned at him and stifled a laugh as Snape’s face twisted into a very un-lamb-like frown.
“Good morning, Snape,” said Harry.
Harry didn’t think that anyone could glare at him as soon as they opened their eyes but Severus proved him wrong.
“You walk like an elephant, Potter,” Snape sneered. “I think it’s a rotten morning.”
“Right,” said Harry. “Well, I hope you’re ready for Quidditch practise.”
Snape threw him an insolent look, leaped out of bed, and threw on a nearby robe over his drawers. “Ready, when you are, Potter.”
“OK…” Harry murmured, raising an eyebrow.
“All right,” said Ron after a pause, coming out of the bathroom untidily dressed with a comb stuck in his flaming hair. “You can use the—eh? How did you…?”
Ron stared bleary-eyed at an already dressed Severus. “Don’t you ever change?”
“Don’t be stupid,” sneered Severus. “I’m going down.”
And with that, Snape caught up his cloak and strode from the room in a flurry of billowing black. Ron jumped out of the way just in time to see a ball of black fur streak past his ankles after its master.
“Well…better get going then,” said Harry, with a quiet smile at the expression on Ron’s face.
“Yeah,” Ron replied, not listening but following anyway. “But I swear, that cat is evil.”
The boys trooped down the stairs in rising spirits, Ron complaining indignantly about cats and Harry laughing as he agreed with him.
“I admit that Crookshanks is all right, once you get to know him, but—”
Ron stopped suddenly at the base of the stairs causing Harry to run into him. In the common room Ginny Weasley was cuddling Oreo and chatting happily with Snape.
“Oh, hullo, Ron,” she said. “Thought I’d watch you practise…if that’s OK?”
Harry saw her glance at him shyly and he couldn’t resist grinning back. “I’m sure Ron doesn’t mind,” he said with a smile, hoisting his new broom over his shoulder.
“Ron does mind,” said Ron, looking from her to Snape. “But I suppose its all right…just don’t go squealing off to Malfoy about–”
“All right, OK, just joking…” her brother said hastily. “But I still don’t see why you talk to the…”
It was here that Ron’s voice came down to an inaudible mutter and Ginny gave him a withering look. Severus was just about to say something biting in response when his gaze flickered to Ginny and he contented himself with a scowl instead.
“Hullo, Harry!” came a chorus of voices. “We actually got up on time!”
Severus looked at Fred and George Weasley in dislike, but they didn’t seem to notice as they slapped him on the back.
“How’s our spiffing Keeper, eh?”
“Not giving our Captain any trouble?”
“Glad to hear it!”
“And how’s ickle Ronniekins?”
“All ready to stuff up?”
“Glad to hear it!”
“And where are the other lovely Chasers?”
“Over here,” came two feminine voices behind them.
“Glad to hear it!” the twins chorused finally, magically managing to slap everyone on the back at once.
“Er…OK…let’s go then,” said Harry awkwardly, looking around at the unusually enthusiastic team. “We’ve got two hours.”
“Good one, Ron!”
Ron grinned at his best friend as he caught the Quaffle in a perfect swoop and threw it over to a passing Katie Bell.
“Yeah, you’re not that bad,” Katie smiled, as she caught it deftly and aimed at the goal.
A hand hardened by physical labour stopped the ball in mid-flight and hefted it across the field.
“Snape! You’re meant to be staying in goals!” cried Harry, annoyed.
“It’s boring,” Severus said offhandedly. “And besides, I am around the goals, and I am perfectly capable of stopping these pathetic attempts even from here.”
Much to his annoyance, Katie Bell laughed and threw a wink towards Angelina Johnson, who was practising a new formation with Fred and George Weasley.
“Oh, you can come as close as you want, Snapey-boy.” Katie laughed, fluttering her eyelashes.
Severus glared at her in shock and backed hastily into goals. “Idiot girl,” he muttered.
The two Chasers laughed and winked at their Captain. “It’s easy, Harry. All you have to do is use your…”
Angelina Johnson’s voice faded away as she saw the strained look on Harry’s face. Ron stopped grinning and looked where Harry was staring.
“Malfoy,” he growled.
Down at the stands, Ginny Weasley was chatting happily to a bemused Slytherin.
“What’s he doing here?” muttered Ron, trying to give him an evil look but failing as a Bludger hit him on the chin.
“Are we going to practise or what?” yelled the twins.
“Yeah, but—” Ron started to say, but then raising his eyebrows as Harry shook his head. “Coming,” he said reluctantly, giving Harry a curious look as he flew off.
Harry set his face into a wry smile and dove down to the spectator stand.
“No way!” Ginny exclaimed to Draco.
“It’s true,” said Draco smugly. “I’ll show you then.”
“All right, but I bet you’re—” Ginny paused, noticing a shadow fall over her. She looked up. “Oh, Harry! How’s practise going?”
“Excellent,” said Harry, hovering above them. “Hello, Malfoy.”
Draco’s manner changed and his face twisted into a sneer. “Come to throw me off, Potter?” he sneered. “I’d like to see you try, you prancing, little—”
“Actually,” said Harry abruptly, turning his eyes towards Ginny. “I came to ask Ginny to Hogsmeade with me—us—there’s a band at the Three Broomsticks for Hallowe’en tomorrow night, and they’re supposed to be really good.”
Ginny stared at him wide-eyed. Harry smiled at her. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Draco staring at him also, but with the coldest look on his face imaginable.
“I’d love to go, thank you,” said Ginny shyly.
“Cool,” said Harry, his grin widening as he jerked his broom upwards. “See you soon.”
Ginny’s heart skipped a beat as she watched Harry fly away. “What?” she asked Draco, who was staring at her insufferably.
“Can I ask you a question?” he said slowly, flicking his gaze between the airborne Potter and her light brown eyes. “Just what d’you see in him, anyway?”
Ginny smiled at him wistfully and looked up at the lightening sky. “He’s what I’ve always dreamed about…” she said earnestly. “I still dream about him at night, and I think I always will.”
thought back to the night in the
“We’re all a little mad, Draco,” she said absent-mindedly. “You know what I mean.”
“Speak for yourself,” sniffed Draco haughtily. “Then I guess that Woodley fellow is out of the picture then.”
“Oh, Philip,” giggled Ginny. “Oh, I don’t know…half of fourth year have already asked him out…so, you know…”
“No, I don’t know,” muttered Draco. “So, what d’you consider me and Severus?”
Ginny looked at him, taken aback. “Well…I don’t know,” she said eventually. “You’re just…well…there…I mean,” she said hastily, “–that’s not what I mean. I mean, I…oh…I don’t know! Why do you ask?”
Draco shrugged and lowered his frown to his hand. Ginny followed his gaze and clenched her fingers over her right palm instinctively.
“Well, like it or not we’re all still joined by your beloved oath.”
Ginny frowned slightly. “You say that as if it’s a bad thing.”
Draco shrugged once more and looked over his shoulder in dislike. “Tell Severus I’ll see him at breakfast,” he muttered, and strode quickly away towards the castle.
Ginny wondered why he had left so suddenly when she saw a bushy-haired fifth year coming towards her rapidly.
“Ginny!” said Hermione, breathlessly. “Did I miss anything? How’s Ron doing? Is Harry all right?”
Ginny laughed at Hermione’s anxiousness. “They’re fine,” she said teasingly. “Just like all the other times they’ve practised, Ron’s getting even better and Harry’s doing a wonderful job of Captaining. Even our Keeper is practising hard.”
Hermione looked at Ginny closely and settled down in a seat next to her with a sigh. “I don’t know why I’m so panicky,” she apologised. “It’s just that…I don’t know. I’m just worried about Harry this year, after the…you know.”
Ginny nodded, her cheerfulness fading away.
“There’s something that he’s not telling us, I think it has to do with…Cedric… It’s eating at him, whenever we have breakfast or dinner—any meals…he’s withdrawn.”
Ginny fiddled with her wand and lowered her eyes to the ground. “Has he talked to Cho Chang lately?”
Hermione gave her a shrewd look and shook her head. “No, he hasn’t,” she said. “I think that’s one of the reasons also… He hasn’t talked to her since last year. I think he’s filled with guilt whenever she’s near…”
“I know,” said Ginny quietly. “I was at the Yule Ball too; I saw how he looked at her.”
Hermione gave a start. “You…you still have a thing for…”
“Yes,” said Ginny, flushing. “But I feel terrible.”
“Don’t,” said Hermione firmly. “He definitely needs a spot of sunshine in his life, even if–”
“–Even if it’s his best friend’s little sister,” muttered Ginny.
“That’s not what I was going to say!”
Ginny grinned suddenly. “I know,” she said with a smile. “Besides…Harry asked me to Hogsmeade.”
Snape hefted another Quaffle away and looked down at the spectator stands in disgust. He perceived a laughing Hermione jumping up and down with an equally happy Ginny. He snorted and continued training.
“Sorry for going all Parvati/Lavender on you,” said Hermione, regaining her composure and trying to stop unusually grinning. “Although it was actually quite fun.”
Ginny laughed, her heart still racing. “So you’re not…not…annoyed?”
Hermione looked at her blankly. “Annoyed?” she echoed, but then smiling warmly at her. “Of course not! Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted?”
Ginny nodded happily and Hermione laughed. “I’m happy for you,” she continued. “Why would I be annoyed?”
“Well,” said Ginny awkwardly, “–it’s just that…you’re so close…”
Hermione’s smile faded and she looked thoughtfully at the flying Harry Potter, laughing with his best friend.
“I know,” said Hermione absent-mindedly. “And I know I…er…should like him…”
Ginny looked at her strangely. “What do you mean?” she asked.
“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Hermione asked, still absent-mindedly. “He’s Harry Potter; famous, brave, talented, with a heart of gold.” Hermione smiled to herself. “He always manages to say exactly the right thing to me if I’m upset, but he would definitely hex me if he heard what I was saying.”
Hermione paused, an expression of perplexity crossing her intelligent face. “But still,” she continued. “There’s something else that gnaws at the back of my mind…an indescribable feeling that pulls me towards…”
Hermione stopped, all of a sudden looking hot and bothered.
“What?” demanded Ginny, making Hermione jump. “It’s not someone else is it? It’s not… tell me it’s not my brother!”
“Don’t be silly,” said Hermione with dignity, as Ginny went off into peals of laughter. “It is not, I mean, I don’t know, I mean… he can be the most aggravating and most stubborn person at times! Sometimes I can’t stand him at all!”
Ginny raised an eyebrow in a rather Severus-like manner. “All right,” she murmured, attempting to straighten her face.
Hermione hesitated and said with a sigh, “Look…don’t you feel as if you should like one of your friends—I’m not admitting to anything—but just…feel drawn to…another…I mean, you think you know them until they do something so unexpected… that you start to question not only them…but yourself…like something that–oh! I cannot believe we are having this conversation!”
Ginny stiffened throughout Hermione’s unusual speech and the other girl looked at her curiously.
“Do you know what I mean?” asked Hermione in surprise.
A tiny thought crossed Ginny’s mind, which she quickly shook off. “No idea,” she replied quickly, jerking her head towards the sky and catching a glimpse of Ron crashing into the far goal post. “Oh no! I knew he shouldn’t rely on those old school brooms! Ron!”
The two friends started to sprint over to where Gryffindor’s new Chaser was lying.
“Oh, I just hope he isn’t hurt or embarrassed,” Hermione said between breaths. “I hate it when he’s disappointed, especially if he starts hearing what people are saying…”
“–That he was only picked as Chaser because he’s Harry’s best friend?” Ginny scowled.
Hermione stared angrily into the distance. “Honestly, I just can’t believe…”
“Well, I think he’s brilliant,” said Ginny loyally. “And so does the team, so I don’t care what people say, they can answer to his sister.”
Hermione laughed and sent her a knowing look. “The forest has really changed you, Ginny,” said Hermione. “Everyone’s noticed.”
Ginny smiled awkwardly at her comment and looked ahead at the figure of Harry Potter, swooping down to check his best friend.
“Well,” said Ginny softly, “–perhaps its time to start living the life that I’ve imagined.”
“Hey! Hey, Malfoy! A word?”
Draco looked away from the blazing fire, as a band of Slytherins led by Blaise Zabini gathered around his armchair.
“Two, if you want,” Draco replied.
The way the Slytherins had positioned themselves around him was one Draco didn’t like. He wondered if they were going to beat him up. As if reading his mind, Zabini held up his hands.
“We just want to talk, Malfoy,” Blaise said.
Draco shrugged. “All right, what is it?”
The whole common room suddenly went quiet, everyone giving him unsure looks. Zabini looked at him hard, and started to talk in his deep voice.
“What’s the deal with the two Gryffindors?”
Draco closed his eyes and settled back into his chair. “Who cares?” he said with a slight sneer. “What d’you want to hear about? Some sort of scandal?”
Zabini scowled at him. “Our fathers all wrote to us, and told us to keep away from you. It seems that you’re not to be trusted…”
“All right,” said Draco languishingly. “Don’t tell me about your pitiful plans to kill Potter, or Muggles or Dumbledore or whatever. Who really wants to become a Death Eater anyway? Travel the country, meet interesting people, and kill them. Oh wondrous joy.”
could’ve had a place of honour among the Death Eaters,” said Blaise. “But after
what happened in the
Draco leapt to his feet and bared his teeth. “I did not cry,” he spat. “And you must’ve been deprived of oxygen at birth if you don’t know that it’s impossible not to yell out.”
“You father was a great Death Eater,” Blaise answered. “And you’ve shamed him.”
“He shamed me!” roared Draco. “Don’t you dare defend what he did! That pathetic excuse for a man; it was him that started snivelling when the Dark Lord recognised me as his son. He would’ve killed me for his fucking honour! His own son! How could you respect someone like that?”
Blaise Zabini gave a mirthless laugh. “And we’re supposed to believe you?” he scoffed. “You’re Dumbledore’s boy now.”
Draco’s hand itched for his wand but there were at least twenty Slytherins now, all gathered around him in a big mob. He contented himself with sitting back down and saying with dignity, “I will never be anyone’s boy.”
“Oh, yes, you will!” shrilled a voice from the crowd. “Why, right now, you’re Ginny Weasley’s boy!”
Draco glared at the speaker, who turned out to be Pansy Parkinson. “Shut up, Pug-face,” he said, giving her the finger.
“Here, enough of that,” ordered Zabini, who suspiciously sounded as if he was suppressing a snigger.
Draco looked at the larger boy in doubt and noticed that he too was looking at Pansy with intensely shielded dislike. Draco smirked to himself. That’s what you get for hanging off the most important Slytherin all the time, Pansy…
“What’s all this then?!” bellowed a disembodied voice.
The crowd hastily scattered as the Bloody Baron charged in, demanding they all go to bed. Draco also got up when a solid arm grasped his shoulder.
“Tell me straight, Malfoy,” growled Zabini. “We all used to like you. You pulled off some cunning stunts on the Gryffindors in your day, and now you’re all chummy with them! Tell me why.”
Draco shook him off and crossed his arms. The common room was virtually deserted now, and the Bloody Baron was coming towards them.
“Five minutes, Baron,” said Zabini, still giving Draco a hard look. “Now spill.”
Draco eyed him in annoyance and finally shrugged. “I’m not chummy with anyone, and you know Severus,” he said. “Well he’s all right, so what’s wrong?”
Zabini also shrugged. “Our fathers didn’t think Snape had a nephew. They told us not to trust him either, since his uncle turned out to be a traitor.”
“Right, whatever,” said Draco, feeling slightly surprised when he heard that their Head of House was a traitor. “Well, that’s it. I hate all the other Gryffindors, you know that.”
Zabini raised an eyebrow. “We see you all the time with Ginny Weasley. Don’t tell me you’re—”
snapped Draco. “We’re not involved, and look, if you had to spend a
whole week in the
“You’re not in the forest anymore,” said Zabini, still eyeing him suspiciously.
“Yeah, well, it seems as if everything’s still against me,” Draco replied bitterly.
“Look, we just don’t want trouble,” reasoned Zabini. “You know that serious relationships with those sorts of families are not—”
“WE ARE NOT IN A RELATIONSHIP!” exploded Draco. “Hell! I would rather kiss Longbottom’s toad.”
Zabini gave him a strange look and started to walk away.
“So, what happens now?” called out Draco, insolently.
“I guess you’re all right, Draco,” Zabini hesitated. “We’ll make up something good to tell our fathers. Just… don’t go all soppy over the Weasley and we’ll keep our mouths shut.”
“Although, I don’t really blame you,” Zabini continued, lowering his voice. “Our lot of girls kind of resemble a bunch of modern art pieces.”
Draco snickered and Blaise gave him a grudging smile, as they both marched down to their fifth year dormitory.
The early morning sun beat down on two sets of shoulders, one holding a head of very light blonde hair, and the other of coal black.
“Looks good,” remarked Severus, straightening up.
“Yeah,” agreed Draco, sprawling out on the recently scrubbed stone bench. “I can’t believe no one knows about this place. It’s great.”
Severus looked amused. “What’s great? The garden or no one else knowing about it?”
“No one else knowing about it,” grinned Draco. “You may like to pull up weeds all day with no magic but –Hey!”
Draco shook his head crossly, pulling dirt from his hair that Severus had just thrown at him. “I’m prepared to overlook that, Snape, since you’re probably just nervous about tonight…”
Severus rolled his eyes. “I’m not nervous.”
“Why?” said Draco. “Do you have a plan? Besides seducing this older woman with a tankard of Butterbeer and your adolescent charm?”
Severus threw another clod of dirt at him which Draco zapped with his wand. “You did get your uncle to sign the permission form, right?”
“Yes,” said Severus as he stretched out on the lawn.
“Good,” said Draco. “Since it’s your first time there, I’ll give you the full tour. We’ll definitely have to go to the Shrieking Shack. You know what they’ve got guarding it? A giant!”
Severus raised his eyebrows. Only a select few knew why Dumbledore had placed a giant at the entrance of that cursed shack. He wondered if Professor Garwood would want to wander around Hogsmeade also.
“I told Ginny,” Draco scoffed, “–but she didn’t believe me. I’m going to show her…”
Draco’s good mood seemed to fade. Severus propped himself up on his elbows, looking out at the lake. “D’you think Professor Garwood is single?” he asked.
“I don’t know.” Draco scowled, pulling out his wand and zapping a fly. “Can you believe that Ginny’s going to Hogsmeade with Potter? It’s embarrassing.”
“Potter’s an idiot,” said Severus. “Ginny’ll figure it out quickly.” He paused. “At least Garwood’s not married… I mean, she hasn’t a ring.”
“Who cares if she’s married,” said Draco. He crossed his arms. “Potter’s so beneath…everybody. Ginny has got to be the thickest person I know.”
The two boys stared off into space.
“I don’t even know her first name,” said Severus eventually.
Draco blinked at him. “Who?”
“You know, Garwood.”
“Who were you thinking of?”
Draco scowled. “What makes you think I was thinking about someone?”
“I’m heading back to the castle for a shower,” continued Draco. “You coming?”
Severus yawned and nodded, following the other boy out of the hole in the hedge.
Although the drone of Professor Binns was just as stupor-inducing as usual, the Gryffindor fourth years were finding it difficult to sit still. Each was excited about the Hogsmeade trip that evening, and it was all Ginny could do not to dash down the hallway, whooping at the top of her lungs.
“And now, if you could all turn to page six hundred and fifty-eight of The Founders: A History,” droned Binns. “Chapter seventy-two: The Building of Hogwarts.”
There was a strained silence as each student attempted to tug their massive textbooks to the correct pages. Half of the students gave up, and Ginny ended up using her wand to find her place. Normally she would have just nestled into the pages and taken a brief nap, but that afternoon she felt too restless. Glancing at the clock, she forced herself to listen to a reading Binns, in hope that time would go faster.
“As you all
remember, in our previous lesson we discussed the war between two of the
strongest families in
Ginny couldn’t remember at all, and suspected she’d fallen asleep earlier than usual.
“Long before Hogwarts was built, the two families fought violently against each other for generations. It was only at the end of their bloodiest battle yet, that each family’s youngest son looked down at their slain relatives and wept. These two survivors – Godric of the Gryffindors and Salazar of the Slytherins – were unable to exact revenge. Their wands had been cursed with the same core, for they were brother wands and refused to fight against each other.”
Ginny gaped at him. “Professor,” she said, raising her arm. “Isn’t that what happened to Harry and You-Know-Who?”
Binns stared at her and half of her classmates perked up at the mention of Voldemort.
“I deal with
history,” said Binns. “Not the
contents of Witch Weekly.” He resumed his droning speech. “The rest of
The class resumed their fiddling, many faces turning towards the clock. Ginny looked at her textbook in renewed interest. She read ahead of Binns, looking for the brother-wands to be mentioned again, and eventually she found what she was looking for. However, after skimming the enormous page she felt disappointed. She’d been hoping to find a way that one of the wands could have beaten the other. Instead, Godric and Salazar had declared a truce and, together with Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw, had used their wands together to build Hogwarts.
Ginny followed her classmates’ gazes to the clock. Much to her delight, it was almost time to go. Perhaps she should read during History of Magic more often. She picked up her wand to poke Philip Woodley, who was sitting next to her, when she stopped.
Woodley was wide awake and immersed in the last third of the book. His lips moved silently and his face held a look of concentration that Ginny hadn’t seen before. And yet there was something about his frown that seemed familiar, she thought, as she put down her wand.
Philip looked up at her and Ginny realised she’d been staring.
“All right?” he whispered, giving her a queer look.
“Oh,” whispered Ginny back, feeling awkward. “Just er…” She wracked her brains for something normal to say. “Are you looking forward to Hogsmeade tonight?”
Woodley’s eyes flicked back to his textbook. “I can’t go. I’ve got detention.”
“What?” exclaimed Ginny. “It’s Hallowe’en!”
Luckily it was time to go and Ginny’s exclamation was lost in the rush for the door.
“I can’t do anything about it.” Woodley shrugged but gave her a grin. “Hey, I’ll still be at the feast though.”
Ginny smiled back, but couldn’t help but think that Woodley’s smile seemed distant. “See you then,” she said.
Pumpkins and skeletons hung from the ceiling of the Great Hall, and each table was filled with laughter and chatter. Nobody noticed a quiet Philip Woodley enter rather late. Nobody except a pair of cold, grey eyes.
“I’m so hungry I could eat a stoat sandwich,” declared Ron, his mouth full of pumpkin pie.
“I know, eet ees fantastic,” said an exchange student opposite him. “‘Ogwarts certainly ees not stingy when eet comes to meals!”
“Hear that?” said Ron proudly, elbowing Hermione in the ribs. “She was complimenting the house-elves! Aren’t you glad you dropped the whole SPEW thing now? I told you it was pointless.”
“Thank you, Ron, for bringing that up,” said Hermione, putting down her utensils and glaring guiltily at the food before her. “I was feeling hungry too, you know.”
“Well, eat up,” said Ron generously. “There’s plenty more where that came from.”
Ron winked at the exchange student, who giggled in return. Hermione frowned and was given a half-sympathetic look from Harry.
“He’s just trying to wind you up,” he said laughingly, shaking his head at his distracted best friend.
“I know,” said Hermione with a sigh, but then pausing as she noticed that he was smiling at her. “Harry, you’re…well…smiling!”
Harry Potter grinned in reply. “So are you,” he replied.
Hermione felt a strange wave of relief wash over her and she started eating her food absent-mindedly. “So,” she said. “Have you ever been to a Wizarding concert before? Or a Muggle one for that matter?”
said Harry cheerily, “ –but
Hermione laughed. “Neither has Ginny,” she replied. “I once went to a Muggle…er…Harry?”
“What’s a mugooluharrie?” said Ron with interest, just catching the last half of the conversation.
Hermione ignored him and looked curiously at Harry. He had stiffened ever so slightly when she had said Ginny’s name.
“Yeah, what?” he said awkwardly.
Hermione gave him a hard look and looked up the table at Ginny, who was sitting with a bunch of fourth years. “Tell me you didn’t just ask her because of…”
“Give me some credit, Hermione,” said Harry wearily. “Malfoy had nothing to do with it. Can we just drop it?”
Ron looked at them both inquiringly and waved his fork in front of their faces. “Cheer up, it’s Hallowe’en! Hogsmeade tonight!”
Harry smiled faintly at him but Hermione snapped, “Oh, do shut up, Ron!”
Ron blinked at her and resumed eating, looking slightly offended and turning back to the exchange student.
On the other side of the Great Hall, Draco Malfoy irritably mashed at his pumpkin, reducing it to a runny pulp.
“What is it, Draco?” asked Severus, picking up his goblet and toasting an enthusiastic Slytherin third year. “I finally sit over here for dinner and all you do is stare into space.”
Draco grunted, the other boy’s unusually good mood irritating him more. “I’m going for a walk,” he announced sullenly. “Meet you in the Entrance Hall after the feast.”
Severus frowned at him and looked doubtfully at the bunch of Slytherins next to him. To his surprise, Blaise Zabini nodded genially at him and raised his goblet for a toast. Snape smiled slightly back and was about to nod to Draco when he noticed he was gone.
Happy Hallowe’en to you too, Mr Malfoy, he thought to himself, feeling slightly offended.
“You! Woodley! Wait there a second!”
Draco cursed as the slim fourth year quickened his pace and disappeared up a flight of stairs.
“Woodley!” he yelled again, feeling distinctly annoyed.
Seeing the boy arrive late for dinner had reminded him about that case of awful groaning again. He’d been feeling rather tetchy and restless and thought that confronting Woodley would be a welcome distraction. Draco continued bounding up the stairs, rounding a corner and stopping at a big wooden door, startled to find himself at the Trophy Room again.
Frowning as he shoved the door open, Draco strode straight into the centre of the room and stared at a huddled figure on the floor.
“Hullo,” said Philip Woodley, getting up and holding out a scrubbing brush. “Come to help?”
Draco’s lip curled and he snapped, “Why didn’t you answer me before?”
“I had detention,” said Woodley expressionlessly. “Couldn’t be late.”
“You have detention on Hallowe’en?” scoffed Draco. “What in hell did you do?”
Woodley smiled faintly at him and went back to scrubbing the enormous, marble tiles. “Well, what did you want?” he asked, ignoring the previous question.
Draco frowned down at him, and crossed his arms. “Remember that day I ran into you here?” Woodley shrugged. “Well, while I was outside the door I heard a horrible groaning noise—”
“—That was me,” said Woodley promptly.
Draco narrowed his eyes. “What the hell was wrong with you?”
A sudden coolness rose in Woodley’s green eyes that seemed to infuriate Draco even more.
“Know that I’m watching you, Woodley.” Draco scowled. “And don’t think I don’t notice the way you look at Ginny.”
Woodley remained silent for a long time, his eyes still filled with the indifferent coolness before he spoke. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said quietly. “And what do you care?”
Draco’s scowl deepened, though forcing himself to step backwards as a tall shadow fell over him.
“Why, Mr Malfoy! Aren’t you going to Hogsmeade for the evening?”
Albus Dumbledore stood in the doorway, looking quite hard at Draco and just seeming to notice Philip Woodley as well. “Mr Woodley, I daresay your friends are waiting for you also.”
“But I’ve got—”
“It’s Hallowe’een,” said Dumbledore, waving his hand. “I’m sure whoever gave you the detention will understand.”
Woodley tried to protest once more and Dumbledore gave him a hard look.
Draco glanced from Woodley to Dumbledore and left the room. As he strode down the stairs, he cursed himself for bringing up Ginny. Woodley was right; he really didn’t care about that stupid Weasley.
Draco was soon down in the Entrance Hall. There was only one cloaked figure left, tapping his foot impatiently and glaring at Draco when he came up.
“What took you so long?” grumbled Severus. “I’ve been waiting for ages!”
Draco shook himself, and concentrated on his best friend. “Did you get mobbed by a bunch of girls again?” he asked, patting him in mock sympathy.
“Yes. It was horrible.”
Draco laughed, his arguments temporarily forgotten. “And you’ll still only settle for that Professor?”
Severus smirked, twirling his wand between his fingers. “I’m a hard man to please.”
“D’you want a Butterbeer?”
Ginny Weasley smiled shyly at Harry’s awkward question. “All right.”
Harry grinned back and went off to the bar. Ginny sighed happily and looked around the crowded room to the mass of people dancing wildly in time to the live music. Her smile widened as she caught Hermione’s eye, who was dancing very wildly and most un-Hermione-like with a suspiciously tipsy Ron. As soon as they had entered The Three Broomsticks, Hermione had given her and Harry a significant look and had dragged a rather reluctant Ron onto the dance floor, hissing at him when he’d given his best friend an alarmed look. Harry and Ginny had sat down at a tiny table and talked politely for ten minutes, before Harry had just offered her a drink.
Ginny’s smile quirked as she noticed that one of the band members had picked up a pair of bagpipes, and was now playing them quite loudly. Lucky Draco wasn’t here, she thought to herself. He would have a fit.
Harry soon came back, interrupting her thoughts with two mugs of sloshing Butterbeer. Ginny picked up a mug but her gaze soon drifted wistfully to the happy throng of dancing people.
Oh, please, Harry, she thought longingly to herself, please ask me to—
“Dance?” asked Harry with a quiet smile. “D’you want to?”
Ginny looked at him, feeling strangely startled but satisfied at the same time. “I’d love to,” she said, her voice louder than expected.
Harry grinned once more and walked hesitantly to the dance floor. Ginny followed him, just as hesitantly, and Harry was rather relieved to find themselves next to Hermione and Ron. Ron greeted them uproariously and slapped them on the back rather hard.
“C’mon, Harry! It’s my favourite song!” he yelled, grabbing his and Hermione’s hands and starting to jump around wildly once more.
Harry caught Hermione’s eye and they both started to laugh. Hermione grabbed one of Ginny’s hands and soon she was in the circle too, also feeling giddy from laughing and moving to the quickening tune. The cheering crowd soon parted away and clapped their hands to the beat, as the four laughing friends spun faster and faster. But the smallest of the Weasleys threw back her head and laughed the loudest. She was finally accepted. She wasn’t just Ron’s little sister anymore. She was now one of Harry Potter’s friends.
Severus and Draco raised their eyebrows at the massive toes lit up by the glow.
“Hullo,” said Snape pleasantly, craning his neck upwards. “Seen anyone suspicious?”
The sleepy-looking giant bared his broken yellow teeth in reply.
Draco sniggered slightly and yanked on Severus’s shoulder. “Trust you to try and start a conversation with a giant,” he said. “Now c’mon, it’s nearly nine o’clock.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Severus, shaking him off with dignity.
“Professor Garwood, remember?”
“I know that,” said Severus, annoyed. “I meant, what did you mean with that ‘giant’ comment?”
“Oh, you know,” said Draco vaguely. “I’ve seen you talking to a centaur, Hagrid’s weird animals, and not to mention that bloody weird cat of yours! Where is it, anyway?”
“I had to leave her in the dormitory. She’s all jumpy tonight and hisses at anyone who goes near her.”
“Tonight?” muttered Draco under his breath. “Sounds like normal behaviour to me…” He turned towards the direction of The Three Broomsticks. “It’s freezing out here, let’s go.”
It had rained quite hard that afternoon, and the dirt paths sloshed with puddles. Draco walked a few paces when he realised that Severus wasn’t following him. He turned around to be met with a wet splat of mud on the front of his robes.
“That,” said Severus, cleaning his hands with a smirk, “is for the Muggle Studies casting session.”
To his surprise, Draco smirked right back at him and whipped out his wand. “As soon as it started raining I knew you were going to pull something like this!” Draco flicked his wand. “So I came prepared! Canum conicio!”
Severus gave a yell as he was pummelled in the back by a gigantic self-created ball of mud. Glaring at Draco, he also whipped out his wand and repeated Draco’s spell. To the Slytherin’s dismay, an equally large mud-ball started to rise up at himself.
“It took me ages to learn that!” yelled Draco crossly, before getting knocked to the ground slightly winded and horribly dirty.
Each of them started yelling the spell over and over again, until they could no longer watch the other boy get hit but barely had any time to avoid them themselves.
“Oh, dear,” said a stern voice, making them stop suddenly and barrelled over by the remaining balls of mud. “Not fighting again, are we?”
The boys groaned silently and Severus gave Draco a warning look. “Don’t say it.”
“This is all your fault,” Draco muttered, digging him in the ribs with his wand.
Professor Garwood eyed the two of them covered head-to-toe in mud and scuffling to get up. Unable to help herself, she burst out laughing and held out a red woollen mitten. “Since it’s Hallowe’en and you’re not on Hogwarts grounds, I think I may excuse you this once,” she said, as she pulled up Draco and then offered Severus her hand.
Severus looked uncertainly at her and took it gingerly. The Professor started to pull him up when Severus stumbled forwards into a puddle and found himself on his stomach, lying directly on top of a ruffled-looking Garwood.
“Gah!” he yelled, hastily trying to clamber off her without squashing her any further into the mud. He finally managed to roll away when he hit the shiny black boots of a certain Slytherin.
“Need any help?” asked Draco, suspiciously sounding as if he was holding back a laugh.
Snape pummelled one of the boots for good measure and awkwardly got up, hating the way he seemed so clumsy all of a sudden.
He took a deep breath and turned to face her. To his surprise Draco, who was smiling in a most charming way, was already helping her up. Severus glanced at her face, wondering if she was angry. As if in response to his expression, she burst into laughter once more.
“Oh, dear!” said Garwood. “You look as if you’re expecting a whole week of detentions!”
Severus made an odd, strangled noise in the back of his throat. Draco caught his eye and looked meaningfully from the strangely-deep puddle to his glowing wand. Just trying to help, he mouthed.
Severus clenched his fists, wanting desperately to throttle him. Garwood looked at him in concern. “Are you all right, Mr Snape?” She pulled out her wand and waved them both clean. “You look quite pale, are you cold?”
“What? Oh! No! Er…”
Snape paused, feeling a slight flush rise from his neck.
“Oh, good.” Garwood smiled. “Your colour seems to be coming back. Now, how about those Butterbeers?”
Seeing the way Severus was gritting his teeth at him, Draco dashed ahead hurriedly, calling out he’d save them seats. Severus mentally groaned but forced himself to slink next to Garwood, who was travelling at a much more leisurely pace.
Harry returned from the bar with three more mugs of Butterbeer and one tall glass of water.
“No, Ron,” said Hermione disapprovingly, as Ron Weasley reached for a mug. “You’ve already had nineteen, you need some water.”
Ron grinned at her and lolled his head on her shoulder. “Why d’you hate me?” he complained, as Harry started chuckling.
The music was still going wildly but the four friends had decided to take a break and catch their breath a while. Some of Ginny’s fourth year friends started to call her, and Harry waved her away with a smile.
“I’ll join you later,” he said, trying to find something Hermione could transfigure into a cushion for Ron. “Have some fun!”
Ginny beamed back at him. Life with Harry was already so fun, she thought.
She was just about to join her friends when her eyes turned strangely to the door, a gust of cold air sweeping in as it opened. Draco Malfoy entered, his eyes bright and his face flushed as if he’d been running. Making his way to the bar, Ginny noticed that his usually swept-back hair was slightly tousled, and the left part of his fringe flopped over his forehead.
Ginny looked around at Harry but he was still preoccupied by a dozing Ron, who was now being eyed mischievously by Fred and George. Her friends had all seemed to have paired off anyway, as a slow song was being played.
A very romantic song… she thought wistfully.
Ginny rubbed her palm slightly as she made her way to the long counter. “Hey, Draco,” she said, taking a stool next to him.
“Oh, hullo,” he said unenthusiastically. “D’you want a drink or something?”
“No,” said Ginny with a sigh, watching the slowly swaying couples. “I’m fine, thanks.”
Draco followed her gaze and looked at her oddly. “Why aren’t you out there?” he asked, tossing a few sickles at the bartender. “You know, enjoying yourself.”
Ginny met his gaze and looked suddenly startled. “Er…I was enjoying… I mean, but now…I don’t know…I don’t know!” She frowned. “What happened to me?”
“Weird,” said Draco. He yawned. “Well, got to go. See you.”
Ginny frowned at his abrupt speech and grabbed at his shoulder. “Wait.”
Draco frowned at her hand and Ginny hastily pulled it away, giving him an annoyed look.
“Aren’t you going to dance?” she continued, motioning towards the hearty band onstage. “I mean, they’re never going to come here again, you might as well—”
“Maybe…” said Draco suddenly, moving his face so close to hers that she stopped in mid-sentence and shivered at his warm breath next to her ear, “–some other time,” he finished off coolly, and strode away.
Ginny sat stock still for a while, only moving when Colin Creevey pulled her onto the dance floor and started to sway alongside her to the music. She looked over Colin’s shoulders and her gaze rested on Harry, who was smiling at her and waving. A couple soon obstructed her view and she saw that it was Hermione, dancing with an exchange sixth year. She looked away instantly, trying to forget the older girl’s words the day before…
“…I mean, you think you know them until they do something so unexpected…that you start to question not only them…but yourself…”
A/N: ‘Canum conicio’ – latin words for mud throw.