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Orange Lilies for Disdain

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Heather walked down the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, smiling wistfully as memories of her own schooldays here floated through her mind. There, the statue of the hump-backed troll that Fred and George had dressed in the star-spangled robes they’d stolen from Headmaster Dumbledore. And the stone walls next to the Charms Classroom where there was still a large purple stain from a particularly wacky spell Heather had thrown while fending off an annoyingly persistent boy.

This was her first week back at Hogwarts as the new Potions Mistress and Head of Slytherin House, and she was loving it already. While she’d not really considered teaching as a career choice, she’d agreed to give it a go at Professor Slughorn’s behest. It was probably the best choice she could have taken. Perhaps when she was older she would consider leaving the school and opening her own apothecary, but for now she was happy to be a professor.

The sounds of a skirmish jolted her out of her musings and she hurried her steps to find out what was going on. Her least favourite part of her new job was when students made trouble. It was especially prevalent in her lessons because she wasn’t much older than them, which made them a bit less likely to recognise her authority. It was probably also because of her short stature, making her look even younger than some of her own students. Professor McGonagall – Minerva, had given her some pointers on handling her class which she had taken to heart, but it would take some time before the students grew to respect her as their teacher.

As she rounded the corner, the sight before her made her burst into action. Four boys cornering one was bad odds any time, but even worse when the one did not have his wand. With a mere thought, she disarmed each attacker and bound them with an Incarcerous. None of them had seen or heard her coming, which was the point of the nonverbal magic.

She hastened to check on the lone boy, noting the green and silver tie he wore. So he was one of her snakes. Unfortunately, she hadn’t quite managed to remember all their names yet, but she did recognise his face. His cheek was bruised and he was favouring his right side, though there did not seem to be any open wounds.

“Are you alright?” she asked in concern. The boy was eying her warily, as if she would attack him as well. It broke her heart to see that. “I’m going to heal your wounds, is that alright?” She waited until he nodded before she slowly raised her wand and cast a few healing spells. The bruises and other scrapes were easily taken care of, though his ribs would be a little tender for a few days.

Once she was done taking care of her Slytherin, she turned back to the quartet of boys – Gryffindor, she noted. And as it happened, she didknow their names. Two of them, anyway.

“James Fleamont Potter, Sirius Orion Black, what in the name of Merlin did you think you were doing?” she demanded angrily.

The boys gave her sullen frowns, with no hint of remorse to be seen. She scowled heavily. “Well? Answer me!”

“Knew you’d take the side of a dirty Slytherin, Cousin Heather,” James said snidely.

“50 points,” Heather said coldly, “each.” She watched as the boys all took on horrified expressions. “And detention every day for a month!”

“What about Quidditch!” James and Sirius protested, exactly in sync.

Heather raised a brow. “You should have thought of that before you ganged up on a fellow student.” She wandlessly released their bindings. “Now off you trot.”

“What about our wands, Professor Potter?” a boy with light brown hair and some scars across his face asked.

“Well, Mr-?”

“Remus Lupin, fourth year,” the boy said.

“Well, Mr Lupin. As none of you seem to be able to be responsible with your magic, I will simply have to do it for you until you learn.”

“That’s not fair!” Sirius shouted.

She tilted her head. “What’s not fair?” she asked mockingly, “Four against one? You also saw fit to deprive him of his wand. Yes, that certainly doesn’t seem fair, now does it? And you call yourselves Gryffindors.”

The fourth Gryff, a rotund boy with beady eyes, shrunk in on himself, intimidated.

“Now, off you go,” she repeated, watching them as they slunk away with their tails between their legs. She narrowed her eyes at her cousins, James and Sirius, wondering if this was a regular activity of theirs. Well, Aunt Euphemia would surely like to hear of this.

She then remembered the boy behind her and she turned her attention back to him. She was mildly surprised that he had not already left, but she supposed the attraction of watching his tormentors get dressed down was too much for him to resist.

Smiling kindly at him, she summoned his wand, which was on the other side of the hallway, and hand it back to him, hilt first.

“I apologise, I don’t quite recall your name,” she said.

He stared at her wordlessly for a few moments before speaking. “Severus…Snape.”

The slight hesitation before his last name had not been missed. Sadly enough, she even understood why. Snape was not a wizarding name. Although Heather cared not a whit about blood purity and family lineage, Slytherins, as a whole, usually did.

She took care not to let her smile falter at his words. “Well, Mr Snape, do you have any other injuries?”

The boy shook his head.

“Alright, that’s good. Please let me know if they, or anyone else, bother you again.” Severus did not respond, though she had not expected him to. “Oh, before I forget!” She stuck a hand in her mokeskin satchel. It had an Undetectable Extension Charm on it – a gift from Fred and George – so she had to summon what she wanted or she’d be searching for days.

“Here you go!” Heather held out a jar of bruise paste. “Just in case, alright?”

Severus was impassive as he took the offered potion. He had really gotten the Slytherin look down pat. Or was it perhaps a natural inclination? He then inclined his head slightly.

“Appreciated,” he murmured grudgingly.

She hid a smile at the tone and dismissed him. As she made her way to Minerva’s office to inform her of recent events, she didn’t notice the intent gaze follow her until she was out of sight.

~~~

Heather had her back turned towards the empty classroom as she cleaned the board and wrote down the recipe for the Wit-Sharpening Potion. Her next class, fourth year Gryff/Slyth, was due in a few minutes and she was already anticipating trouble. Why the Headmaster insisted on scheduling the two most volatile houses together for Potions, she did not know. Perhaps he secretly wanted the dungeons to explode. He’d never been particularly subtle about his distrust for her house.

Students slowly began to filter in as it grew closer to the time to start. When the bell rang, she noticed that she was down three students. And they were three she was familiar with. Oh well, she made a motion to close the door when James Potter, Sirius Black and a boy she had found out was named Peter Pettigrew crashed into the room. They were technically late, but she wasn’t strict enough to do more then send them to their seats with a reprimanding look. Remus Lupin, she noticed, had his head in his hands like he was embarrassed by his friends.

“Now that we are all here,” she said, not able to resist the pointed jibe, “I’ll start handing out the tests I gave you last week.”

And yes, Heather had spent the first weeks’ lessons giving tests. It hadn’t won her any points with the students, but she needed to know where their current level was at. Horace Slughorn wasn’t exactly known for his impartiality or rigorous instruction.

She tapped the tip of her wand to the stack of papers on her desk, sending them flying to the respective students.

“I have to say that I am not completely satisfied with the skill level you lot are at. Most of you could possibly justscrape by an Acceptable, but there are a select few whom I believe need to put in much more effort if you wish to pass. Of course, there are also some students who have done well, and for that I applaud you. You all know which category you each fall into.”

She was careful not to look at any student in particular as she spoke. She didn’t want to be the kind of teacher that played favourites. She had hated that about Professor Slughorn.

“However, whether or not you are struggling with your studies or at the top of the class, as long as you seek improvement, I am willing to help.” She gave them all a warm smile. “Feel welcome to approach me if that is the case.”

Most of the class had blank expressions on their faces, though she could tell her words had made a handful of them thoughtful. That was enough for her.

“Okay, now that that’s over with, it’s time to begin.” She stepped aside so that she was not blocking the blackboard. “Who can tell me what potion this is?”

Immediately several hands rose. She picked a brunette Gryffindor sitting in the first row. “Please tell me your name as well, I’m afraid I haven’t memorised it yet.”

“Marlene McKinnon, ma’am,” the girl said promptly, “That’s the Wit-Sharpening Potion.”

“Correct,” Heather said, nodding. “Please turn to page 108 in your textbooks. The recipe I have written on the board is the exact one you can find in front of you. Now,” she tapped the board. The words on the board changed slightly. “I’ve made a few modifications to the potion. Anyone can tell me what they are and what effects they will have?”

This time, the hands were slower to rise. Heather asked a Slytherin sitting in the middle of the room.

“Evan Rosier. In the second step you changed the number of clockwise swirls from three to seven. That allows better mixing of the juice from the ginger root added in the first step, hence reducing the dizziness that some people experience when drinking the potion.”

She was pleased with the comprehensive answer. Evan was one of the students who had done better than average on the test. “Excellent work, 3 points to Slytherin. Next?”

A red-head Gryffindor was called to speak.

“I’m Lily Evans, ma’am. You added the scarab beetles before the armadillo bile instead of after. That’s because the potion needs to be acidic when you add the beetles so they can dissolve in the solution. Adding the bile would neutralise the potion and the beetles would remain inert.”

“Yes, that’s right! 3 points to Gryffindor.”

To her surprise, Lily then raised her arm again. “Professor? Why did you use whole scarab beetles when using ground beetles like the original recipe would negate the problem with the acidity?”

“Good question, Ms Evans. Does anyone know the answer to that?” Her gaze swept across the class to see if anyone would like to try their hand at the question. For several moments, no one stirred at all. Then, a single hand slowly made its way into the air.

Ah, Severus Snape, the boy that had been in that confrontation with the four Gryffindors, sitting right at the back corner of the room.

“Yes, Mr Snape?”

“In grinding the beetles, most of its bodily fluid is lost. Using the whole beetle ensures that the fluid is retained and added into the potion. Although this method would prolong the brewing time by ten minutes, the enhanced effect of the Wit-Sharpening Potion itself is more than worth that time.” He said all this with a bored look on his face.

She wouldn’t have known the boy could speak so much at one go, from the way he had been yesterday. Perhaps it really just depended on the subject. He seemed to have a talent for Potions, judging from the perfect score he’d gotten on the test.

“Well done, Mr Snape! I wouldn’t have expected such an answer at this level, but you’ve surpassed my expectations. 3 points to Slytherin.” She was being honest about it. This was more advanced material than what was required of fourth year and she had only asked to see if anyone had read beyond the scope of the curriculum.

“Psh, it’s just a few drops of beetle gunk, what difference would it make?”

Heather’s eyes narrowed in displeasure at the impertinent comment. Turning her head, she had to withhold a sigh at the source.

“Mr Black, as this is your first infarction in my class, I’m letting you go with a warning. Any more and I will take points.” She gave him her chilliest glare, the one she had learnt from her mother. No one did cold anger like Dorea Potter née Black.

Sirius bit his lip, visibly restraining himself from retorting, and she left it at that.

“Okay class,” she said, more cheerfully, “You may now begin on your potions. You have around 45 minutes left till class ends. More than enough time for this potion.”

A Gryffindor boy close to the back raised his hand for a question.

“Professor? Which recipe should we use? Oh, err, my name is Frank Longbottom.”

Nearby, she could see several students, all from her house, roll their eyes.

“It’s your choice, of course, Mr Longbottom. Would you like to brew a standard potion in a shorter amount of time, or would you rather take a few extra minutes to brew one that is twice as effective and has lesser side effects?”

Next, James raised his hand.

“Professor Slughorn always insisted that we adhere strictly to the methods in our textbook, ma’am.” There was a challenging look in his eyes, but she didn’t rise to the bait.

“I am not disparaging Professor Slughorn’s teachings,” she said calmly, “We simply have different styles of brewing. As I said, the choice is up to you.”

She had expected students to question her methods. It was understandable, given that they were used to Professor Slughorn’s by-the-book teaching. She would give them time to adapt, but she would not tolerate disrespect over it.

When she thought that the questions were finally done with, another hand was raised, this time by Severus.

“Are we allowed to use our own modifications, Professor?”

She couldn’t say she was surprised by that. Severus certainly seemed advanced enough to have experimented on his own.

“Of course. Please make a note of your changes if you do so and hand it in with your potion.”

Heather didn’t think she had imagined the pleased glint in Severus eyes when she said that, nor the acidic glare James and Sirius shot him.

Well, this was turning out to be an interesting class.

~~~

Heather was currently debating whether she should laugh or glare at the small sheet of parchment in her hands. She looked between it and the phial on the table.

James Potter

Modification to Wit-Sharpening Potion

  1. Don’t use ginger root, armadillo bile or scarab beetles
  2. Just boil water
  3. Add lemon juice

Effects: Gives potion a pleasant citrusy taste, side effects removed

The phial contained clear liquid. It was literally just lemon water.

It was funny, she had to admit. She hadgiven them leave to modify their potions at their own discretion. If James wanted to make digs at her by sabotaging his own Potions marks, then who was she to stop him?

She wrote a large, red T on her marksheet. Underneath James’ mark, Severus’ O stood out in stark contrast.

At 8pm on the dot, a knock came on her door. She let it swing open to admit four troublemaking Gryffindors. She was surprised to see them so punctual for detention, but it must have been due to Remus’ efforts. The way James and Sirius pouted at the boy and rubbed their wrists was a large indication.

She directed them to the four desks that were the furthest from each other, at the corners of the classroom. She had already placed the necessary supplies at each table. James was to chop flobberworms, Sirius to disembowel horned toads, Peter to skin shrivelfigs and Remus, well.

After making sure each of them knew what to do, she went with Remus to the fourth table, where a cauldron was set up with various ingredients laid out across the desktop. She set up a one-way silencing charm around the area and turned to Remus with a serious look on her face.

“Remus, out of the four of you, you have the best potions marks. So I’ve decided to teach you how to brew a certain potion.”

The boy looked surprised at that, though when he spoke he was calm. “What potion are we brewing, ma’am?”

Instead of answering, she asked him to identify each ingredient on the table. He did so with relative ease, until he came to the last one. He paused, freezing in place.

“It’s an herb called aconite. It’s sometimes also called monkshood, blue rocket…and wolfsbane.”

The blood drained from her student’s face.

She sighed. “Mr Lupin, are you familiar with the Wolfsbane Potion?”

He nodded jerkily. “It’s for-for werewolves to control themselves during the full moon.”

“Mr Lupin, I’ll be frank with you. I know that you’re a werewolf.”

Remus jerked back, watching her with fear in his eyes.

Heather gentled her expression. “Remus, you don’t have to be scared. I’m not one of those close-minded bigots who fear werewolves for something they can’t control. Headmaster Dumbledore told me about you so that I would brew the Wolfsbane Potion for you every month.”

“But why?”

Remus was honestly so baffled by her words that it made her heart hurt. Here a fourteen-year-old was, so unused to receiving kindness from people who knew his secret that he didn’t understand when it happened.

“Because I can. And if you work hard, soon you will be able to as well.”

That seemed to get through to him, though he still kept a wary distance from her.

“I read that the potion is very difficult to brew,” Remus said slowly.

“Lucky for you, I know how to. And I think with some practice, you’ll be able to learn. The question now is, are you willing to work for it?” she challenged.

She grinned with satisfaction at the determined nod Remus gave as he stepped up to the table.

“What do I do first?”

~~~

With a huge sigh, Heather stretched out her stiff muscles, humming when some of the tension in her body was released. She walked around her office, just to move around a bit. After a whole day of sitting at her desk, talking to her Slytherin charges, she needed a tiny break.

The previous student’s appointment had ended early, so she had a few minutes before the next one was due. It was tough work being a Head of House. Even tougher being a new one. While it was not strictly necessary, Pomona had suggested she take some time to talk to each of her snakes, just to find out a little more about them and see if they needed any help or advice. She’d finished up the first and second years last weekend, so this weekend was for the next two years.

Many of them were skittish around her, which she understood all too well. It was a common trait of those in her house to be slow to trust. She herself did not warm up to people easily. Hopefully they would eventually come to trust her as school continued.

When she heard a sharp rap on her door, she went to open it.

“Ahh, Mr Snape. Right on time. Please, have a seat.” She gestured to the wingback in front of her desk as she took her own seat.

“Professor Potter, may I ask why I have been called to your office?”

She smiled in an attempt to relax her student. “Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. I would just like to have a friendly chat. This is so I can get to know you better and find out if there’s anything I can do for you as your Head of House.”

“What would you like to know?” Severus asked guardedly.

“First, of all, would you like some tea?” Severus looked suspiciously at the tea set placed to the side of her desk and shook his head. She shrugged and prepared a cup for herself. “Well, feel free to help yourself to it and the biscuits. There are apple cinnamon and orange chocolate.”

Severus didn’t make a move to take anything.

Well, not unexpected.

“So, how has school been so far?” Heather asked.

“Fine, ma’am.”

She hummed. “No one has given you any trouble?”

Something flashed across his dark eyes before he replied in the negative. Fair enough. She’d preferred to handle all her problems on her own back when she was in school as well.

“Good, good. And your studies? Have you had any problem with any of your subjects?”

“They are manageable.”

She nodded. Well, it wasn’t the worst conversation she’d had so far. One third year had stuck to only yes or no the whole time.

Picking up her copy of Severus’ exam results, she smiled. “I see here that you’ve excelled in most of your subjects and passed all of them. I suppose there is nothing to worry about in this area.”

The boy nodded impassively.

“Is there anything is particular you have concerns about?”

Nothing, of course.

“Alright. But if at any point in the future something crops up, you may come to me.”

“Of course, Professor,” Severus said blankly.

Like talking to a wall, it was.

“Are you thinking of joining any of the school clubs? I remember your mother was a dab hand at gobstones.” Eileen Prince had been reigning champion for the last four years of her Hogwarts education, in fact.

Thatseemed to get a reaction out of Severus.

“You know my mother?”

She tilted her head a little. “Not exactly, but my mother was friends with her. They were both in Slughorn’s little club. I’m not sure if your mother has mentioned her, Dorea Black?”

The boy jerked at the word ‘Black’, but he quickly recomposed himself.

“No, I will not be joining any clubs.”

“I see.” She couldn’t quite put her finger on why, but she got the feeling that his mother was a touchy point for him. “I’ve noticed that you don’t spend a lot of time with your housemates. Is there any reason why?”

“No.”

Back to the blank wall, then.

“I’ve seen you hanging out a lot of Ms Evans, however. Is she a good friend of yours?”

His eyes narrowed into an almost glare at the mention of the girl. He lifted his chin in defiance. “Yes, what of it?”

Heather raised an eyebrow at the defensiveness he was displaying. Clearly, he had gotten a lot of flak over his friendship with Lily Evans. From what she gathered from Minerva, James and his friends also tormented him over it because James had a crush on Lily.

“It was a simple question, Mr Snape,” she said, a mild rebuke in her voice.

Severus lowered his head sullenly. “Apologies, ma’am,” he said, clearly forcing himself.

“That’s quite alright.” She watched him for a while. He seemed calm, sitting still with his shoulders and back perfectly straight. But she could see the slight movements of his arm that indicated his hands were fidgeting. “You know, Mr Snape, back when I was a student here, my only friends were two Gryffindors as well.”

His gaze shot up to hers, then. It was clear he was surprised.

“Yes, Fred and George Prewitt, twins. Well, I suppose technically they’re also my cousins, of a sort. Their mother is a Black. Anyway, I know a snake spending all their time with a lion might not be very well received. If you get any trouble that escalates beyond what you can reasonably handle, I sincerely hope you will let me help.”

Severus stared at her with wide eyes. Eventually, he murmured an ‘okay’, more sincere than anything he had said prior. He was quick to school his expression, after that, but that moment was more than enough for her.

“I have just one last question, Mr Snape. I admit that this is actually more for me,” she said, grinning, “How are you finding Potions class?”

“It is…very different from Professor Slughorn’s lessons,” Severus said carefully.

“You don’t have to worry about offending me. Be as frank as you want. Constructive criticism is necessary for improvement, after all,” she assured him.

He shook his head. “No, your methods are more interesting.”

“But?” she asked, sensing the hesitation in his voice.

“I simply wonder if your lessons are not too complex for the rest of the class to comprehend.”

Ahh. She lifted her cup to her lips to hide a smile. After taking a sip of tea, she said, “What I teach is a little beyond the textbook, I admit. If a student is struggling, it’s because they’ve only been memorising the recipes instead of understanding the purpose of each ingredient and their interactions. I’m pushing them into actually learning the theory. For those diligent enough, they’ll be able to catch up with some help. For those that don’t care enough to try?” She smirked. “Well, I have to start weeding them out from my NEWTs classes anyway.”

She caught a flash of a smile on Severus’ face before he wiped it away.

“I understand, Professor.”

Nodding, she said, “That’s all for today, Mr Snape. Anything you’d like to ask me before you go?”

A flicker of indecision passed over his face. Heather waited patiently as she took a biscuit from the platter. Once she had finished it and taken a mouthful of tea to wash it down, Severus finally sorted through whatever internal struggle he’d had. He reached into his pocket and placed a familiar jar onto the table. It was the bruise paste she’d given to him.

“Professor Potter, may I ask how you brewed this batch of bruise paste?” There was a wrinkle in his brow, giving away his irritation.

“I assume you tried to recreate it?”

Severus gave a terse nod.

“What did you manage to find?” She was curious to see what progress he’d made with it.

“Compared to the standard potion, it has a slightly paler shade and is less viscous. When I tried to brew it myself, I halved the amount of arnica root and added verbascum instead. I got a paste that looked, smelt and felt exactly like the one you gave me. However, I have not been able to reproduce its efficacy.”

“The faster acting time and cooling effect?”  Heather clarified.

His eye twitched at that. He was clearly very bothered by this. “Indeed.”

She should have expected that Severus would experiment with the potion. Well, far be it from her to discourage a student’s passion in her subject.

“Mr Snape, what do you know of Runic Potions?”

Severus’ expression morphed into one of shock. “Runic Potions? They are a very recent discovery. I have heard of them, but only the latest edition of the Comprehensive Journal of Potions has any worthwhile information on them at all. I have not had the chance to read it.” He ducked his head just the slightest degree when he said so, almost in embarrassment.

It might be presumptive of her, but she thought the reason could be lack of funds to purchase a subscription of the annual journal. Certainly, it wasn’t for lack of wanting. She didn’t need long to make her decision. With a twitch of her fingers, she summoned her copy of the journal from her bookshelf.

Her student stiffened at the sudden movement, but when he caught sight of the book in her hands, he couldn’t help but lean forward to take a closer look.

No, not a lack of wanting indeed.

“Here, Mr Snape. I expect this might be of interest to you.” She pushed the journal into his hands.

His fingers clutched at it eagerly before he came to his senses and dropped it. “There is no need for-”

“Mr Snape,” she said firmly, “It is my duty as your teacher to nurture your interest in my subject. Take it as a loan, I insist.”

Slowly, his hands inched forward again. His fingers stroked down the leather cover of the book reverently and she could tell he would be diving into its pages as soon as he left her office.

“I trust you will take care of it well.”

“Of course, Professor Potter,” Severus said, holding the book protectively against his chest like he feared her retracting her words and snatching it back from him.

“Take as long as you’d like with it. I would love to hear what you think.”

He nodded wordlessly, still looking a little stunned.

Smiling kindly, she gestured at the door. “You are free to go, Mr Snape. Have a nice weekend.”

Severus’ steps were quick, eager to get started on reading, she bet. At the threshold of the door, he made an unexpected pause. His head turned slightly, not quite looking at her.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

It was barely a whisper. She wouldn’t have heard it had she not been paying attention.

The boy left immediately after that.

Heather couldn’t help the large smile stretching across her cheeks. Thankfully the next student to come in was one Narcissa Black. Her cousin was already too used to stories of her strange antics to be freaked out by her strange moods.

~~~

 

Heather had patrol duty for during the first Hogsmeade weekend of the school year. She didn’t really mind it much. It gave her an excuse to get out of the castle and stretch her legs a little. Teachers weren’t really prohibited from leaving the castle, but as a Head of House, she was expected to be available to her students if they needed to find her. Plus, she was still adjusting to the workload, so she hadn’t tried to take leave from the school yet. Even during the weekends.

It would be a refreshing change to get away for once.

She was walking past the same quill display that had been out since her first year when someone called her name. She turned around, only to get a muscular chest to the face.

“Hey, it’s been a while Heather!”

She looked up to find green eyes like hers. She beamed, leaning in for another quick hug.

“Rian! It’s good to see you!”

Her brother put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away slightly. Scrutinising her from head to toe, he frowned.

“Wow, you’ve grown more boring.”

She shot him an offended look. “Excuse me? I’ll have you know this is called ‘mature’. Though I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of the concept before.”

“If you say so, Professor Potter,” he teased.

She couldn’t stifle her smile. “Anyway, what are you doing here?”

“I found out it was a Hogsmeade weekend, so I came down specially to see you! Mum and Dad wanted to come, but they had to prepare for that fundraiser they’re having.”

Nodding, she slipped her hand into the arm her brother offered. “The one for orphans?”

“Yep. They even got Celestina Warbeck to come perform. Now enough about that, want to go have lunch at the Leaky for nostalgia’s sake? It’s been ages since I had their pie!”

She rolled her eyes as she let her brother pull her along. “It’s only been two years since you graduated.”

“Like I said, ages!”

Shaking her head with a smile, she let it go. “So, how have you been? Master Holt still smashing you into walls?”

“Har har, Heather. That was onetime, a yearago.”

“Nine months, actually,” she sing-songed.”

Ignoring her, he continued. “And I’ll have you know I beat him in half our duels now. He’s going to start teaching me how to craft my own offence spells.”

“Hmm,” she said, “I wonder how that will mesh with wandless.”

Hadrian shrugged. “I dunno, but it should be a blast.”

“Literally.”

“Exactly! That’ll be great!”

“I shouldn’t have let you spend so much time with Fred and George,” she said, shaking her head.

They had finally reached the Leaky Cauldron, but the pub was so crowded there weren’t any empty tables left. Heather was about to suggest they just find somewhere else to eat when Hadrian nudged her. She looked to him in question and he just jerked his chin to something behind her. When she turned to look at what he was referring to, she realised that Regulus, their cousin and Sirius’ younger brother, was waving them over.

“Heather, Hadrian! Feel free to sit with us!”

Heather glanced to the other person at the table, who was glowering fiercely at her cousin.

“Are you sure? We wouldn’t want to disturb you,” she asked.

“Perish the thought! We would be delighted to have you!” Regulus said.

She was amused by the formal language he used. He occasionally slipped into it, having been drilled harshly by his mother. He was actually one of her favourite cousins, save for Fred and George. She had spent a lot of time babysitting him when they were younger and they had bonded over a common love of reading. Hadrian had gotten along better with Sirius, but she didn’t think her brother would appreciate what the Black heir was getting up to nowadays.

Hadrian pulled her down onto a chair, forestalling anymore queries from her. Her gaze flickered briefly to the other student at the table, Severus Snape. He didn’t look very pleased to be spending his day out with a teacher. Sighing internally, she made a note to eat as quickly as possible so they could leave.

Rosmerta came over to take their orders, and once that had been settled, Regulus set out to make introductions.

“Heather, Hadrian, this is a good friend of mine, Severus Snape, a fourth year Slytherin. Severus, you know Professor Potter. And this is her brother Hadrian Potter.”

It seemed Heather had been wrong before about Severus not having friends within the house. She wondered how she had missed that he was so close to her own cousin?

“Nice to meet you, Severus! Oh, sorry, may I call you Severus?” Hadrian said cheerfully. Severus had no choice but to nod mutely, of course.

“Before you ask, yes, he’s a Gryffindor,” Heather said, rolling her eyes in mock disgust.

Hadrian straightened and puffed his chest out. “Well of course I’m a lion! Who else would dare to sit at a table full of snakes, huh?”

Heather looked at Severus. “Don’t mind Hadrian, Mr Snape. He’s still jealous the hat didn’t sort him into Slytherin.”

Severus lifted a hand to his mouth. To hide a smile, she thought.

“That is quite understandable, Professor Potter,” the boy said primly, ignoring Hadrian’s protests.

At that point, the waitress served their food. There was some silence as they dug hungrily into their food.

“You know,” Regulus said, swallowing a bite of mash, “this Mister this, Professor that, business is rather awkward. Why don’t we just use each other’s names while we’re here?”

Severus’ head swivelled to face him, shocked. “Regulus-”

“That’s a good idea!” Hadrian said. “You’re not in school anyway.”

“Well,” Heather said, “I don’t really mind. Like Rian said, we’re not in school right now. But it’s back to ‘Professor’ in Hogwarts, alright?” She looked sternly at the two boys, who nodded quickly. “Excellent! Then Mr Snape, please feel free to call me Heather.”

“…Severus then, Profe- Heather,” the boy said, rather uncomfortably.

“To be honest with you,” Heather said, making a face, “Sometimes I take so long to answer in class because I forget the students are referring to me when they say ‘Professor Potter’. I’m not used to it at all! It makes me feel way too old, too!”

“Like you needed that to make you old,” Hadrian said. She stole a mouthful of his pie revenge. Scowling, he turned to Regulus and Severus. “You know, when she was in school, she used to spend her Hogsmeade weekends in the labs, brewing! She needed to be dragged out of the dungeons or she never surfaced!”

“Oh, that is an exaggeration and you know it! I had Quidditch practice didn’t I! I can still catch a snitch faster than you can,” she said, smirking.

“Oh, really? Want to bet on that?” Hadrian challenged.

“They’re always like that,” she heard Regulus whisper to Severus.

“Why even bother?” she asked, “We both know who’s going to win.”

“Oh, Heather.” Hadrian widened his eyes. “Are you scared?”

“Of course not!” she said, allowing herself to be riled up. “Name your terms!”

Tilting his chin up smugly, he laid down his conditions. “I win, and you agree to be spell practice the coming summer!”

She drew back a little. “You just talked about making stuff explode!”

“So? If you don’t have the guts…” he trailed off.

Narrowing her eyes stubbornly, she said, “Fine! Then if Iwin, you take over all nanny duties this summer!”

As expected, her brother cringed. “That’s cruel Heather.”

She raised a brow.

“But I don’t have to worry,” he said hastily, “Because I could beat you anytime!”

“10pm tonight, Hogwarts’ pitch,” she stated.

“Deal.” They shook on it.

That was when Heather remembered where they were and blushed. She looked at Regulus, who was grinning madly at them, and Severus, who just looked bewildered.

Clearing her throat, she said, “Well, it should be clear to you two, but I don’t want to hear from any teacher that they caught you out of bed after curfew.” She looked meaningfully at them.

“Of course, Heather, what do you take us for?” Regulus said, crossing his arms. Beside him, Severus nodded.

“Good, good.”

They split up after finishing their meals. The two students were headed back to the castle. Hadrian left to go meet Cedric while Heather continued with her patrol.

She was a little embarrassed that her student had seen her so childish. Not Regulus, of course, he’d seen much worse. Severus, on the other hand, had probably lost all the respect he had for her. If he’d had any in the first place.

Oh well. It was too late now.