Thread: Fire Burns
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Old December 8th, 2009, 6:26 pm
Purple Banana  Female.gif Purple Banana is offline
First Year
 
Join Date: 29th March 2004
Location: Behind you
Age: 31
Posts: 48
Re: Fire Burns

Chapter 5 - Relationships

It was Friday, and in the Slytherin common room Severus Snape sat reading a letter from Lucius Malfoy, former Slytherin head prefect and only son of one of the oldest pureblooded families in the country. Lucius, he knew, had sworn allegiance to the Dark Lord three summers ago, and his old friend kept urging him to do the same, but Severus wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to join him - at least, not yet.

He heard footsteps behind him and turned his head to see Katherine appear from the door that led to the girls’ dormitories. Her long black hair was pinned back today and her arms laden with books and parchment.

“Homework?” Severus asked, carefully folding Lucius’ letter and placing it in his bag.

She nodded grimly, dropping the stack of work onto the table, and pulled the clip out of her hair so that it fell down about her shoulders, gleaming in the firelight. “Yeah, Charms and Defence against the Dark Arts. You don’t have any work to do?”

“No - apart from the Potions essay we were set Wednesday, and that won’t take long,” he answered, a slight frown on his face. It wasn’t like Katherine to have a pile of homework waiting this early in the year, and on the train she’d said she hadn’t done her Ancient Runes essay, either. Why hadn’t she done any work over the summer? He was beginning to wonder.

He shrugged off the half formed suspicion and pulled out Lucius’ letter once more, wondering if he should write a reply, and failing to notice that Katherine was still watching him out of the corner of her eye. He read it, still contemplating, and tapped the table absently in thought.

Even though she couldn’t see the handwriting, Katherine could make a guess at to its contents judging by the pensive expression gracing Severus’ face. The Dark Lord had become the subject of many unspoken conversations recently, with many people denouncing his teachings and methods in public, but praising and delighting in them within the safety of their own homes.

Many of these admirers would never dream of joining his gradually increasing ranks, however, and would be positively horrified at the mere suggestion of such a thing, but, she thought dully, there were a fair few who wouldn’t, and it was only a matter of time before the others were brought around – or disposed of.

She had been working on her charms essay as she thought and now she glanced down absently at the scribbled notes she’d made in class, not really seeing them. ‘Protean charms are useful because…’ She stopped, the quill hovering over the thick parchment dropping a bead of black ink onto a sentence about a recent court case she’d been trying to work in, and blotting out the date.

Severus watched her frowning at the parchment in front of her thoughtfully. He was sure she wasn’t stuck on her essay; she’d been able to do Protean charms since fifth year, so it must be something else.

“Want to go outside?” he asked suddenly.

Katherine looked up, startled, then shook her head slightly to clear it and smiled. “Sure. Just let me get my cloak.”

xxx

Five minutes later, they were walking over the damp grass, down towards the glittering surface of the lake, cloaks taking the edge off the chill wind.

“So, how was your summer?” asked Severus, giving her a sideways glance, and she pulled a face.

“Ok, I guess. Met up with an old friend.” She smiled and turned her attention on him, clear blue eyes studying him closely. “How about you?”

Severus paused, looking out over the glistening water as memories from the past two months flashed before him. “It was… the same as usual.”

“That bad, huh?”

Severus looked up sharply, meeting Katherine’s knowing gaze and wondered how much she knew. Was he that obvious? She laughed, linking her arm with his and tugging him towards the lake.

“Oh come, Sev. You never mention anything about home and you stay here for the holidays. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out you don’t like it there much.”

“I suppose not,” he murmured, though he was still a little disconcerted. Katherine had a habit of coming out with unexpected pieces of information – he just hadn’t realised that this well of knowledge extended to him too.

“There you are!”

“Oh no…” Katherine closed her eyes at the shout, as though the darkness she saw would blot out the group of people heading their way. Severus glanced over his shoulder and saw Evan Rosier, Damon Nott and Regulus Black approaching.

“We were wondering where you’d disappeared to. Why didn’t you tell us where you were going?” demanded Evan, as they drew to a halt in front of them.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realise we needed your permission to venture further than the common room,” said Severus caustically, narrowing his eyes.

“I wasn’t referring to you,” blustered Evan, scowling at him. “I was more concerned about her.”

“You don’t think I’m safe with Severus?” asked Katherine, arching an eyebrow, an impish grin curling her lips, and behind Evan, Regulus grinned, dark eyes gleaming with amusement.

“That wasn’t what I meant,” said Evan darkly, sighing heavily as Katherine snaked her arms around Severus’ neck and laid her head on his shoulder.

“No? You didn’t think that maybe we wanted some privacy?” she asked, putting a deliberate stress on the last word and feeling Severus’ muscles tense as a look of pure horror crossed Evan’s face.

“I-” began Evan uncertainly as Katherine gazed serenely at him and Regulus’ shoulders shuddered with suppressed laughter. “Look, just…lunch is in half an hour, all right?”

“All right,” agreed Katherine calmly. “We were coming back soon anyway - I’ve still got two essays to finish.”

“Right,” muttered Evan, glancing uncertainly at Severus, and back again. “See you later, then.”

“Bye,” called Katherine after him, as he hurried up the slope, Damon in tow. As soon as they were out of sight, Severus reached up and extricated himself from her arms.

“Why, exactly, do you get a kick out of irritating Evan?” he asked mildly, ignoring Regulus’ smirk.

“Because he is snobbery personified,” answered Katherine promptly, with a careless shrug of her shoulders. “What do you want?” she added, glancing at Regulus, who was still standing beside them.

“Me? I was just enjoying the show. Do you know why he keeps trailing you?”

“No,” answered Katherine, wrinkling her nose in disgust as she glanced at Evan’s retreating back. “Probably decided to make me his new project or something – turn me into a proper, classy Slytherin.”

Regulus laughed, sweeping black hair out of dark brown eyes and grinning. “Like he could.”

“You’re on dangerous ground, there, Black,” said Katherine, narrowing her eyes. “I’d advise you to think very carefully before saying anything else.”

“What?” asked Regulus, all innocence. “You outclass him a hundred times already.”

Katherine rolled her eyes, slinging an arm around the younger boy’s shoulders as the three of them began the walk back to the castle. “Black, if you don’t drop the Mr Smooth act, I’ll tell Juliet that you’ve been seeing Violet Jugson.”

“Go ahead,” said Regulus easily, earning a confused look.

“Go ahead?”

“Yeah, I broke up with Juliet last year.”

“But on the train-” began Katherine, and Regulus grinned, showing straight, white teeth.

“I never said I told her last year.”

“You’re a real *******, you know that?”

Regulus shrugged, flashing her a charming smile and ducking away down a side corridor. Katherine sighed, and exchanged a bemused look with Severus before continuing on to the dungeons and the relative comfort of the Slytherin common room.

“So, why is Evan following you?” asked Severus, as they nudged a couple of second years out of the good seats by the fire, and sat down.

“Not a clue. Probably paying me back for what happened on the train. Knowing him, he’s got it into his head that I have a disorder that drives me to associate with common muggles and traitors and I need therapy. I think all that inbreeding is interfering with his brain.”

Severus smiled faintly, and gazed into the ever constant fire that flickered in the grate. Since the Slytherin common room was situated in the dungeons of Hogwarts, there were no windows to let in natural light, and they had to make do with lighted torches and fires whatever the time of year.

“Sev?” asked Katherine after a while, and he glanced up, catching the slightly nervous note in her voice. “Have you ever heard of Occlumency?”

“That’s blocking out mind readers or something, isn’t it?” he asked, and she nodded, a pensive expression on her face.

“That’s the one. I was thinking…well – maybe you should study it.”

“Me? Why?” He frowned, and Katherine looked up, blue eyes meeting his, and the seriousness in her expression surprised him.

“Because it will come in useful, and you’ll be good at it, trust me. It’s damn hard to tell what you’re thinking half the time as it is.” She smiled at him wryly, and pulled her essay out of the bag she’d left under the chair earlier, just as the portrait door opened and Evan and Damon walked in, casting wary looks in their direction.

Severus frowned, and picked up a copy of the Daily Prophet that someone had left lying on the table. Why was Evan following Katherine around? Maybe it was to keep her out of trouble, as she suspected, but he couldn’t help but feel there was something more to it than that - it wasn’t like she usually got into trouble anymore, anyway. She’d been a practically model student for the best part of last year, and despite the slight lapse in her homework schedule, she wasn’t showing much sign of being any different this year.

Although…something was different this year. Something had happened over the summer that she didn’t want to talk about, but then again she was entitled to her privacy. You didn’t survive six years in Slytherin without learning not to ask questions: chances were, you wouldn’t like what you found out.

xxx

“It’s going to be so cool! I can’t wait! Do you think the lavender robes or the blue robes look better? Regulus? Are you even listening to me?” Violet stamped her foot impatiently and glared at Regulus, furious.

“Does it matter?” he asked apathetically, gazing up from the bed, chocolate brown eyes dark under black lashes. He stood up and pulled her easily towards him. “You’d look gorgeous wearing rags.”

Violet blushed and smiled, cupping his face in one soft hand. “Aw Reggie, you’re so sweet.” She kissed him lightly on the lips, then pulled away, business like once more. “Seriously, though – which one?”

Regulus looked from one set of dress robes to the other, trying hard not to show his lack of interest and the fact that he couldn’t see any difference between the two colours; they were close enough to the same colour anyway.

“Um, the blue ones?”

“Right, that’s settled then. The lavender ones it is,” she said, nodding to herself, before turning on her heel and flouncing out into the corridor and back to the common room. Regulus sighed heavily, flopping back onto his bed and staring up at the ceiling; Juliet had never been this much trouble.

A few moments later the door creaked open again and he looked up, half expecting Violet to come charging in again, but it wasn’t her: it was Evan Rosier.

“Hi Evan,” he sighed, letting his head fall back onto the bed and shutting his eyes. First Violet, now Evan: it definitely wasn’t his day. He heard the door click firmly shut and footsteps cross the room, but didn’t look up until he felt the bed springs depress next him.

“Something wrong?” he ventured, opening one eye sourly, as Evan sat on the end of his bed.

“I need you to do something,” said Evan bitterly, cold grey eyes surveying Regulus with the contempt he reserved for just about everyone in the school. Evan Rosier knew his family tree back to front and could recite all the students in Slytherin House by order of prestige in a heartbeat. This meant, of course, that he was well aware that Regulus was only one place below him in the school hierarchy, and therefore practically an equal, but the two year age gap afforded him a superiority that he would not have otherwise indulged.

“And this something would be..?” asked Regulus, who, too, was aware that being seen to play along with a Rosier was the decorous thing to do, and arranged his face in what he hoped was a politely interested expression.

“I want you to find out who Katherine is going to the Halloween ball with.”

“What?” asked Regulus, unable to stop himself raising his eyebrows in surprise. Whatever he’d been expecting, it wasn’t that.

“You heard,” said Evan, scowling at him. “She’s hardly going to tell me, but she talks to you sometimes, doesn’t she?”

“I guess,” shrugged Regulus, scooting back to lean on his bed post and surveying Evan curiously. “Why do you want to know, anyway?”

“That’s not your concern, Black,” said Evan haughtily, standing to leave, but pausing to add: “And you better not muck this up, or there will be serious repercussions.”

“I’m quaking in my boots,” muttered Regulus, as the door swung closed and Evan’s footsteps faded away; as if anything Evan could do would be new to him.

He fell back onto his comfy mattress once more and closed his eyes. Find out who Katherine was going to the Halloween ball with: no problem. He’d just-

“Oi! Black!” Regulus’ eyes flew open as the door exploded open and Lynx Travers burst into the room, eyes blazing. “What did you to my sister?”

Regulus stared at Lynx for a moment, taking in his muscular build and broad shoulders, result of a dedicated Quidditch career and three summers work helping his father shift beer barrels at his pub.

“I can explain,” said Regulus, scrambling to his feet and holding up his hands in a conciliatory gesture, then, as Lynx folded his arms in the manner of one who has already made up his mind, but is prepared to see what line will be spun this time, Regulus ducked past him and bolted out of the door, slamming it behind him.

As he sped through the common room, Lynx hot on his heels, he saw Katherine and Nicki playing chess in the far corner of the room, but stopping to inquire about date arrangements right now would most likely result in his spending the rest of the week in the Hospital Wing. Bearing this in mind, he let it go, forgetting Evan’s strange task for the moment and continuing straight ahead to the welcome rectangle of blank wall that was the back of the portrait hole.

He scrambled through, falling right on top of Cassie, who was going the opposite way.

“Hey, watch it!” she cried as he stumbled upright, acutely aware of Lynx just a few seconds behind him.

“Sorry,” he called over his shoulder, already half way along the corridor.

“Come back here you piece of scum!” yelled Lynx, fuming as he leapt over Cassie’s prone form and started after him once more.

Regulus grimaced and sped up, ducking behind an ancient tapestry and pelting along the slim corridor it concealed, wondering idly if his brother ever had this much trouble…

xxx

“Arrogant, rude, boisterous little toe-rags!” fumed Cassie as she sat down.

“Check,” said Nicki absentmindedly, as one of her knights chased Katherine’s rook around the board waving a lance.

“Who?” inquired Katherine inattentively, scrutinising the rather depleted ranks of her remaining pieces.

“Black and Travers.”

“Isn’t that a DIY company?” asked Katherine vaguely, eyes roaming over the game in front of her.

“What’s DIY?” asked Nicki nonplussed, then shook her head. “Forget it – you’re just stalling, aren’t you?” she said, gesturing to the rather black dominated chessboard.

“Uh huh,” agreed Katherine, whispering something to her remaining white rook, and smiling faintly as it advanced on Nicki’s bishop.

“You’re not listening to me, are you?” asked Cassie, scowling as she slumped in her seat.

“Black and Travers are *******s,” said Nicki promptly, frowning as the rook dispatched her bishop and turned on the king.

“Yes they are,” said Cassie hotly. “Honestly, what is the use of boys? They’re the most annoying, irksome, worthless little-”

“Hi Cassie.”

Cassie looked up, clear green eyes wide as she stared up at the sheepish form of Robert Avery.

“Hi,” she said in a small voice, nervously tucking her loose side fringe behind her ear.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” He asked, pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.

“Sure,” she said quietly, getting up and following him over to the fireplace, casting a desperate look back at her friends as she did so.

“Looks like someone’s got a date for the ball, then,” said Nicki, grinning as she watched them talk.

“It would appear so,” Katherine laughed, as Cassie squealed and threw her arms around a slightly startled Robert.

“Took them long enough,” commented Nicki dryly, looking back down at the chess board once more and frowning.

“Oh yeah,” said Katherine idly, seeing her expression. “Checkmate.”

xxx

James stared longingly at the back of the Fat Lady’s portrait as if he could will Lily to appear there. Sirius and Peter were playing Gobstones and Sirius was failing miserably as usual. As James looked at his watch again, wondering what was taking her so long, Sirius caught his eye, grinning.

“Stop worrying mate, she’ll turn up eventually. It’s not like anything’s going to happen to her inside the grounds - she’s perfectly safe.”

“I know,” he sighed and looked around the common room. “Hey, Sirius, what time are you meant to be meeting Rose?”

“Six thirty, why?”

“It’s six twenty nine.”

“Right,” said Sirius distractedly, staring at the Gobstones in mounting frustration and wondering if there was any chance he might still be able to win.

“Six twenty nine and thirty seconds actually,” said James, patiently waiting for this to sink in.

“Uh huh.”

Sirius picked up a Gobstone then dropped it and stared at James. James tried not to laugh but the expression on Sirius’ face was just too funny. He watched his friend run out of the common room at top speed, knocking a few first years over in his haste.

“Sorry,” he yelled over his shoulder as he leapt out of the portrait hole.

“Utterly irresponsible,” sighed a voice from behind him. James whipped round to see Lily’s emerald green eyes staring amusedly after Sirius.

“Hi Lily.” James said, wide eyed at her sudden appearance.

“Hi,” she said, sitting down next to him. “Mary said you wanted to ask me something?”

“Um, yeah,” he swallowed, throat suddenly inexplicably dry. This was it – the moment of truth; he’d been gradually spending more time with Lily during patrols, trying to prove how much he’d matured over the summer, and studiously not making any moves on her. Now it was time to see if James Potter 2.0 had any more chance of winning her heart than the previous one.

“Well?” asked Lily, large green eyes gazing at him expectantly. “Is it about our Charms homework? I saw you and Sirius Black talking while Professor Flitwick was explaining what to do.”

“No!” said James, trying to look hurt at the accusation, though Lily was in fact completely correct in her assumption that he and Sirius hadn’t heard a word of Flitwick’s instructions. It didn’t matter – they’d just copied Remus’ notes.

“Oh,” said Lily, frowning a little. “What was it then?”

“I was just wondering…” he hesitated again, uncomfortably aware of Peter’s watchful gaze. “Um, Pete, do you mind-?”

“Oh! Right, I um, I’ll go see Remus…” said Peter quickly, catching on and he padded off towards the portrait hole as Lily watched him, bemused.

“So…?” prompted Lily, long loose hair falling over her shoulders as she leant forward. James licked his lips nervously; how on earth was he supposed to do this? He’d been asking her out for years and it had never been this difficult before.

It was different now, though – now they had a kind of tentative friendship, and if she rejected him now, when she’d seen what he was really like, he wasn’t sure he could take it. Being close to her had only made him fall even more in love with her, seeing how smart she was and how fiercely she protected her friends. He ran a self conscious hand through his hair, earning himself an reproachful look from Lily, and took a deep breath.

“Will you go to the ball with me?”

“Sorry?” asked Lily, her eyebrows raised above bottle green eyes.

“Please?” he added, knowing he sounded pathetic but not caring.

“I thought you just wanted to be friends?” said Lily, looking a little awkward.

“I did - I do,” said James, gazing at her, his hazel eyes wide. “It’s been great getting to really know you and I just wanted…” He trailed off, and, seeing the look on Lily’s face, he realised. “You’ve already got a date.” He said flatly, gaze dropping to the floor.

“Sorry,” said Lily quietly, looking morose. “Laurence Smith asked me after lunch yesterday and I said yes.”

“Can’t you tell him you’ve changed your mind?” asked James, without much hope.

“I’m sorry, James,” said Lily, shaking her head.

“It’s all right,” said James bracingly, trying to assume a look of patent indifference. “Doesn’t matter.”

Lily smiled sadly at him and stood up, making her way over to the girls’ staircase. James waited until she’d disappeared out of sight before he buried his head in his hands and prayed for the ground to swallow him up.

-----------------------------

Magic linky.


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