I. The Lotus Flower
The phone clicks and the familiar voice sounds on the other line, and someone’s voice sounds over it. “Kit? Something wrong?”
“Eliza, I think I have a problem.” you say.
“What did you do this time Kit?” she asks.
You fill your tea kettle with water and put it on the stove to boil.
“I keep having sexy dreams about Snape.” you exclaim, blushing brightly, “I don’t know why this is happening now. But that’s not the point! I’m supposed to be mad at him. He’s still not talking to me.” you say.
“Please don’t go into detail about your sexy dreams.” she scoffs, “In all seriousness though, the fact that he’s not talking to you right now is pretty fucked up, if you ask me. He’s a bloody dumbass.”
“He’s not a dumbass.” you say, frowning deeply, “He’s just…acting strange. Ever since the closing ceremonies in June, he hasn’t said anything to me. Not even a birthday letter! I even reminded Dumbledore when he finished crediting people and forgot to mention Sev that he was the one who made the potion to revive us all in the first place! I had his back! And what does he do? He responds by giving me the silent treatment! The only thing I got from him is what happened when I was missing in action, and that was in letters! He can’t possibly be angry with me for getting petrified when it wasn’t even my fault!” you exclaim, “I don’t understand. I’m honestly really hurt he had nothing to say to me when I walked into the closing feast bright-eyed and smiling.”
“No, it really isn’t okay for him to act like this. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he was mad though, honestly. We warned you he was an asshole.” she replies.
“Something doesn’t seem right.” you say, “…I know! I’ll invade his dorm room and make him talk to me!”
“No, Kit. Don’t go invading his personal space like that. I guarantee you that it won’t end well. Also, I’m pretty sure he has his own house and spends summers there.”
“And he’s never invited over for dinner!? How rude! I’m his only friend! Or at least I thought I was. Okay, well, then, how do I get him to talk to me?” you ask, “I’m getting tired of this! All this effort is exhausting me, and he doesn’t even seem to care!”
“You need to approach him and talk about your feelings.” she says, “When will you see him again?”
“We have to go back next week for meetings and such to start prep for the term.”
“So that’s where you need to approach him, then. You could always annoy him by sending him notes again. He might be all huffy and aggressive, but it would get his attention .”
“I don’t want to annoy him.”
“Then put Jareth up to it, he’d gladly do it for you, I’m sure.” she says. You glance across the room at the barn owl snoozing contently on the perch in his cage. He’s wearing a galaxy bandanna with his name embroidered in it. You smile sadly. The bandanna was a gift from Severus last Christmas, and Jareth looked very cute right now sleeping with it on.
“No. Maybe I could get Lily something?” you suggest, “If I have a gift for his cat, he’ll have to acknowledge me.”
“I mean, you could.”
“I could deliberately make potions wrong! I-in front of his window! He’s a smart-ass perfectionist, he’ll want to correct me!” you exclaim excitedly, “There’s also the option of me just flying about on my broom in front of his window so he’ll have to notice me! Or maybe I should buy a new set of robes that make me look sexy? He’d notice that! I could dye my hair green-- Ooo! What if I made him jealous!? I’ll make friends with the person who’s gonna be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher! I think his name is Vreemus Lupe? Or something? I’ve seen pictures, he’s cute! O-of course I only have eyes for Severus but—”
“Kit.” Eliza’s exasperated voice sounds on the other end of the line, but she’s smiling with amusement, you can tell, “Take a breath. I’ll happily help you scheme, but I gotta get going soon. I can meet for lunch tomorrow, though.”
“Okay!” you exclaim, “I’ve got a bit of housekeeping and things to do, anyway. So, I’ll see you then. Bye!”
“Bye hon, I love you!”
“Love you too!” You hang up the phone, just as you hear your kettle begin to scream.
You take it off the stove and pour the boiling liquid over the tea bag waiting patiently in the mug with the Hogwarts crest on it. You had been staying with your parents in the muggle world for a few days, and Eliza lived in a flat nearby. She had gotten a place in the Muggle world because she enjoyed the practicality of muggle technologies. The only time you got letters from her was when you were at Hogwarts (which you were, most of the time) or she was working at the Ministry for days on end without sleep and needed to contact you for something.
When you’re done helping with housekeeping, you do some research on Capricorns. You hope that, at the very least, reading into the personality traits of Severus’s star sign will help you understand why he’s ignoring you, but he’s way too complex to be defined simply by some basic traits shared by others born under the same constellation.
One evening, you’re enjoying a rather casual dinner with your family for the first time in a long time. Your father is watching the news, as he always does, and that’s when you see the headline. The headline that Sirius Black, notorious murderer, has escaped from prison.
Your heart drops to your stomach, which twists into unsettling knots. You know that that murderer is a wizard, and you also know that he is the first person to ever break out of Azkaban.
His escape causes widespread panic, and that is all you hear about in both muggle and wizard news. And it’s all you talk about whenever you meet up with your friends. The rest of your summer is anything but enjoyable.
One evening it is just you and your dad for dinner. He tries to start a conversation.
“This Sirius Black,” your father scoffs, “He’s one of yours. One of you magic-using nutters, is he not?” his gaze pierces right into you. You stiffen and draw in a breath.
“He’s a wizard but he’s hardly one of us.” you respond, with a bite in your tone, “Most wizards aren’t murderers.”
“I think you ought to find other work that isn’t part of that world.” he says, “This just proves how dangerous and unnatural the wizard life is. Your mother was smart when she chose to settle down and live normally like the rest of us. Perhaps you should think about that.”
You stand up briskly, glaring daggers, “I am perfectly happy at Hogwarts, thank you!” you say, “I don’t care how dangerous it is, that’s who I am. No one can change that.” And then you turn and leave the dining room, vanishing upstairs.
When the time comes, you’re relieved to be going back to Hogwarts. After Eliza has driven you to the train station, you’re heading rather quickly to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Only the teachers knew this, but there was a morning train that left two weeks early to transport the staff members who didn’t live on campus back to the school grounds to prepare for the start of the term. Your trolley is loaded up with things, and Jareth’s small, portable cage is right on the top. You quickly scan about to make sure no one else is watching, and then rush headlong towards the brick wall which hides the platform behind it.
Once you appear on the other side, you see the Hogwarts Express in front of you. It’s magnificent and shining because it has just been cleaned and lacquered.
“Good morning, Professor Oakley.” says the conductor.
You smile, “Good morning.” You answer, nodding. Someone comes along to take your trolley from you, but you whisk your carry on and Jareth’s cage from it before letting him. You climb aboard the train car, and head down the walkway, looking for an open seat. It isn’t hard to find one. You’re about to go and sit down too, when you notice one of the occupied ones has none other than Severus Snape sitting in it. He’s reading a book.
You give up having a cabin to yourself and join Severus in his instead. When he hears the noise you’re making, with Jareth’s cage and your small carry on, he glances up from his book. He doesn’t look amused.
“There are several empty cabins to choose from, why are you here?” he asks.
“B-because you’re my friend, silly!” you reply, “I want to sit with you. May I?”
He rolls his eyes, “Whatever. Just don’t expect me to carry on a conversation. And make sure that bird stays quiet, I’m trying to read.”
Jareth lets out a harsh scream in response to voice his lack of amusement with Severus’s rudeness. The man in question winces at the shrillness of the noise.
“Jareth! Be nice!” you scold. He puffs himself up and flaps his wings for a moment, before he adjusts his position on his perch, turning his back to you and tucking his chin, curling his face under a wing. You roll your eyes.
“He’s pouting now. That’ll be the last we’ll hear from him on this trip.” you say. You take your book from your carry on and then put it in the storage above you. You accidentally bump the carry-on crate that’s already up there, and the raking of nails and the loud rustle of fur inside causes you to jump. You peer inside. In the dark of the crate, you see a heap curled up in the back, looking at you with wide green eyes.
“Oh! Dearie me! I didn’t mean to startle you, Lily, I’m sorry.” She meows at you from inside, and you see the glint of bright teeth and a pink mouth. You pull a biscuit from your coat pocket that’s shaped vaguely like a fat fish, and you push it through the bars of the cage. She cautiously walks over and sniffs it, before devouring it.
“You carry around cat treats?” Severus scoffs, “You own an owl.”
“Yes. I carry around his treats as well. As for the cat treats, not usually, but since I knew I was probably going to see you two at some point, I went ahead and picked up a bag of them.” you say.
“You’re very odd, you know.” he tells you.
“And? If I was normal, I’d be boring.” you reply. You sit down in the seat and prop your legs up, lounging across it, using Jareth’s cage as a backrest, “Don’t you dare bite me.” you warn him, “If you do, no treats for a week.”
The train horn goes off, and the massive locomotive roars to life, and with a brief jolt, begins to chug along the track.
With that, you situate yourself and open your book. When you do, the copy of the Daily Prophet you bought earlier falls out. You go to pick it up, but Snape beats you to it. You think he’s going to hand it to you, but instead, he takes it and begins to skim through it. He reads the frugal update on Sirius Black through gritted teeth. Then he folds the paper and chucks it into your lap.
“Excuse you!” you exclaim. You turn to look at him. His expression is twisted with malice, and you immediately go quiet, afraid to ask what’s wrong. So instead you read the update on Sirius Black. Nothing new or groundbreaking, just that he hasn’t been caught yet, and that the dementors who guard Azkaban are out looking for him with the Ministry of Magic. You fear for all your friends, but you especially fear for Eliza, Cas, and Orion, because they’re aurors. You decide then that you’ll make a point to keep in contact with them religiously.
The train chugs along to Scotland, and you and Severus sit in the quiet, reading your books. Occasionally, you glance up at him, trying to read his expression. Once he calms down, you have every intention to confront him.
“Severus, how come you haven’t been talking to me?” you ask, “Did I do something wrong again? You got mad at me last year for avoiding you and now you’re doing the same thing to me. Is everything…okay?”
“I’m fine.” he says, “I was just busy over summer. My house was under renovations and needed a lot of upkeep. Not only that, but my father passed away, so I had to deal with that as well.”
“Oh…” you say breathily, “I’m so sorry, my condolences—“
“Don’t be. He was horrible. He was horrible to my mother and he was horrible to me. I am not the least bit grieved by his passing.” He says with a bite in his tone, “In fact, now that both of my parents are gone, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
“My father isn’t too wonderful either…” you say, almost cautiously, “He’s fond of nothing, extremely judgmental, and dislikes everything magic. He believes that all wizards are nutters. Over the summer, he suggested I quit my job. He wasn’t going to let me go to Hogwarts when I got my letter, but when my Grandpa said he’d help pay for my schooling, my mum managed to convince him to let me…” it is then you realize that you had gone off a bit of a ramble, “Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to ramble on—”
“It’s fine.” he says simply. He stops talking for a moment before continuing, “My father wasn’t fond of anything.” The conversation trails off to silence. He turns back to his book, you open Jareth’s cage door and reach into the cage to pet his head. He leans into your touch.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Snape scoffs, “What if he flies out?”
You stop and slide your had from Jareth’s feathers, closing his door. “He’s tame enough not to do that, but you make a good point.” you say. Your stomach grumbles. “…I’m gonna run over to the dining car, they have really good Danishes. Want me to grab you something?”
“Since you’re offering, I’ll take a cup of tea. Whatever black tea there is, nothing added.” he says.
“Righto! I’ll be right back.” you get up and slide open the door. You start to leave, but as you do, you hear Snape’s voice from behind you.
“Don’t trip on your way out or your way in.” he says. You frown deeply.
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” you say dryly, voice laced with sarcasm. You step out into the hall and slide the door closed behind you.
You’re extra careful on your way back, practically tiptoeing over the carpet, keeping your head downturned, in case there’s a loose thread or a lump or something that you will most certainly trip on if you don’t see it first. In one hand is a paper lunch back with your snack, and in the other is a steaming to-go cup filled with tea. When he sees you at the door with your hands full, he gets up and slides it open. You hand him the cup.
“Your tea, sir~” you drawl, doing your best to mimic a stereotypical butler, “Earl Grey. Hot.”
He mutters a quick “thanks”, and then steps aside to let you back in. You walk passed him and sit back down on your seat, pulling your water bottle out of your carry-on bag. In the silence, you force yourself to choke back your awkward laughter resulting from Severus loudly sipping his tea and the annoying crinkle of your paper bag as you pull out your precious food. They’re the only sounds in the room.
Once you’re through with eating, you once again turn back to your book. It’s rather interesting, meant to take place in a place called the Andromeda galaxy a ‘long time ago’. It’s a book full of strange creatures, talking robots, and galactic knights who duel with swords made from light crystals.
As you read on, though, you find yourself becoming distracted. The air is frigid inside the train cabin. Gooseflesh stands on end and occasionally you find yourself shivering. You didn't think you'd need them, so you left your sweaters and coat in your trunk, which was currently in the cargo hold. And of course, being an idiot, you hadn't thought to grab a blanket or anything to keep with you, so you were currently curled up in a ball on the end of the bench, rubbing your arm and trying not to shudder with one hand, and struggling to turn pages with the other.
You mutter something about being cold. Severus hears you.
"Are you actually shivering right now?" He comments, unamused.
"No, I'm fine, really. I'm just a bit cold is all. I can deal with it."
"It isn't even that cold in here."
"You stay in the dungeons at school most of the time, so you're used to it. But I'm a wimp and I have no body mass." You say, "I'm cold all the time." You curl yourself tighter. You turn back to your book and try to distract yourself. A draft of cold air passes about the room and you immediately shudder.
That’s when you hear a rustle of fabric, and a black mass soars across the car and collides with your face, before falling into your lap. You look down to examine it. It’s Severus’s cloak. You glance back up at him. His intense eyes study you. You give him a once over. Without the cloak, you can see that his tunic hugs his torso, curves, and edges just perfectly.
“Yes?” he asks, when he catches you staring.
“Uh, nothing!” you exclaim, blushing, “Thank you for letting me borrow your cloak.” You wrap it around your shoulders and curl up underneath it. Despite the slight, stale dungeon smell, and the hint of cigarette smoke that’s nearly gone, the overpowering scent of lavender among other fragrant plants fills your nose with a calming aroma.
“Please do not comment on the smell of it like a stereotypical lover. It’s weird.” he scoffs.
“I wasn’t going to.” you say. I totally was about to say something…shit! (He totally saw right through you.)
The rest of the train ride is smooth and relaxing. The train pulls slowly to a stop, and the few staff members on it begin to file out. You start down the pathway and load the boats to cross the lake. Once you and Severus have stepped inside and sat down across from one another, the boat moves gently along the glassy surface of the water.
It’s the middle of the day, so sunlight reflects from the water and envelopes you with the soft warmth of a Scottish summer. You look up at Severus. His expression is stoic, of course. The sunlight illuminates his face with a certain gentleness and casts a shine upon his wavy hair. A soft breeze buffets the strands which frame his cheeks and solemn eyes. You smile at him for a second before darting your eyes about to take in the familiar scenery. You lean slightly, letting your hand glide through the cool water.
“If you tip the boat,” Severus drawls, “I’ll not talk to you for a week.” Then he continues, “If you fall out of the boat, I’m going to laugh.”
You splash him with a mist of water. His frown deepens. You stiffen and shuffle uncomfortably. He shakes his head and furrows his brow, biting his lip.
Uh oh… You feel that familiar sense of panic. He takes his wand from his belt and points it towards the water. He starts to twirl it, making a small twister. He raises it from the water and then he sends it twirling towards you. You’re met with a face full of cold water, which plasters your bangs to your forehead. Your mouth falls agape as you gasp. You blink rapidly to keep your mascara from running.
“Severus! That’s FREEZING!” you shriek. He crosses his arms and tosses his hair.
“You asked for it when you splashed me first.” he says matter-a-factly. You pull out your own wand and sculpt some water into the shape of a giant bubble and chuck it towards him. It pops on top of his head like a balloon, soaking his face and hair. A few drops drip off the tip of his protruding nose. He blinks at you.
“Hmph.” you say, triumphantly, lips tugging into a smirk. He raises his wand to strike back, but he is cut off when his eyelids screw together, his head lurches forward, and his now stringy hair bounces with it as he sneezes like a kitten into his sleeve. He sniffles, before looking up at you.
Fuck, that was so cute! you inwardly scream.
“You'll pay for that.” he huffs, voice slightly muffled by his sleeve.
You smile broadly.
“What are you smiling about?” he asks, tone slightly demanding.
“You sneeze like a cat,” you tell him, “It’s kind of adorable.”
“I am absolutely not adorable in any way, shape, or form. Never say that again.” he says sharply, face dusting pink.
“Aww.” you reply.
“I will actually cast you into the water and make you swim to the castle.” he warns.
You frown, “You spoilsport. I’m just trying to have a bit of fun.”
“You still don’t pick up on my sarcasm, do you?”
“Wha—” you cut off. And then in the corner of your eye, you notice a rather pretty pink flower floating on the surface of the water.
“Ooo!” you exclaim, raising your wand, “Accio Lotus flower!” The flower floats up from the water and glides gently towards you. You catch it in your hands and tuck it behind you ear. You smile at Severus.
“What do you think?” you ask.
“I think it’s never going to stay.” he replies. You frown.
“…But it looks alright, I suppose.”
You blush lightly. “Thanks.” you say.
By the time you load the horseless carriage, the lotus flower has fallen out of your hair. You look at it sitting there in your hands. It’s so pretty, it’s a shame it fell out. You look up at Severus. He’s sitting across from you. His arm is resting on the windowsill as he looks out at the passing scenery, with his chin resting on his hand. His eyes wander to far off places, and he breathes deeply. Looking at him with a sudden realization, you realize that you could probably braid the flower into his hair.
But you refrain from asking him. There was no way he’d let you do that. Still, you keep glancing up warily at him, hope in your eyes. Perhaps he’d pick up on it. He catches you staring.
“Umm…” you glance down at the flower, “N-nothing…”
“If that flower means that much to you, I’ll make a preservative for it.” he says gruffly.
“Thanks…but I was kind of hoping we could put it back in someone’s hair instead…”
“Absolutely not.” he immediately picks up on what you really want.
“Didn’t think so…”
“Give it to me.” he says. You slowly hand it over. He holds it flat in his palm, mutters a transfiguration spell, and taps it with his wand. It turns into a rose-gold hairclip. The shape isn’t filled in anymore, the hairclip only forms the outline, but it looks lovely.
“Lean forward.” he says. You immediately comply. His fingertips press lightly to your head, and he slides the clip into place. He leans back against the seat. You pull a small mirror from your pocket and look, turning your head to see it. It’s the perfect fit.
“I love it Severus, thank you.” your heart flutters.
“Don’t go around telling everyone I made that for you.” he says.
You chuckle. “I won’t.” you assure him, “As long as no one asks. But if someone asks I’m not going to lie.”
“Fine.” he replies.
The carriage slowly comes to a stop in front of the school. Severus swings the door open and steps down. He scans his gaze around to make sure no one is watching before he offers you a hand to help you out. You study him slightly perplexed.
“I’m doing this only to make sure you don’t trip and fall in the dirt.” he scoffs, “Come on.”
Oh, sure you are…You take his hand, which is slightly rough, lift the hem of your robes and step down. He closes the door behind you and together you make your way to the entry doors. On your way down the corridor and towards your rooms, you run into Dumbledore. He smirks at you knowingly, eyes glinting mischievously. Severus glares and you blush and avert your eyes.
Once you’ve gotten up to the teacher’s quarters, the two of you split off to get settled in, before you adjoin with the rest of the staff in the dining hall for an informal late lunch. After which Dumbledore calls a brief staff meeting.
“Hogwarts will play host to the Dementors of Azkaban, as they are currently looking for the infamous killer known as Sirius Black. As you all know, they are quite dangerous, so we must be very careful around them.”
Snape stiffens beside you, and you find yourself unconsciously reaching, lightly touching his sleeve.
“Additionally, although he isn’t here at the current time, we will be welcoming a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Remus Lupin.”
Remus Lupin! That’s what his name is! I could never get it right! I’ll be sure to remember now! You think.
After a few more announcements, he dismisses everyone. However, while everyone else disperses, you notice that Severus stays behind. You slowly gather up your books and notes, trying not to eavesdrop.
“If I might, Headmaster.” he starts, “By no means am I trying to question your authority but given the nature of Remus Lupin’s background and his…condition, I do not think he is to be trusted. I am also concerned about the safety of the students.
Condition? You perk up curiously.
“I understand your concerns, Severus, but they are misplaced. I assure you that my appointment of Professor Lupin will not put the students in danger. Additionally, as the potions master, it is your job to make sure his condition stays under control by keeping him medicated, regardless of what your history with him is or isn’t. Do I make myself clear?”
How rude! you think bitterly, and in defense of Severus Snape.
Snape’s expression hardens, “Clear as day, Headmaster.” he says.
Dumbledore smiles softly, “Very well. Good day.” he nods briskly and whisks out of the room, leaving Severus to glare. You make your presence known again by tapping your stack of papers to straighten it. Snape’s gaze whips around. It’s icy, but it softens when he sees you.
“I wasn’t eavesdropping, I swear.” you say, holding up a hand in surrender.
He shakes his head, “Knowing you, you’ll probably try to make friends with Lupin. I strongly caution you around him, especially in the moonlight.” He turns and makes his way briskly towards the door.
“Oh, and one more thing.” he says. You pick up your notes and acknowledge him, “Don’t go philandering with him or I might have to stake a claim on you.”
“Oh?” you raise a brow, “Stake your claim on me, hmm? Normally I'd resent being called someone’s property but…” you feel your cheeks go hot.
“You’re my sunflower. Don’t. Forget that.” He’s dropped his voice down to his guttural purr, which sends a shiver up your spine in the best way possible. He walks a few paces ahead of you, leaving you to stare after him.
Shit, that is SO HOT! You think, feeling the tremor of heat rise through your body. And then you’re flustered.
“Hold on a moment, Severus! You can’t just say something like that and walk away from me, come back here!” you call, and chase after him.