Chapter 1 : The Pain of Memories
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Valora Nox shook the rain from her robes as she walked into Hogwarts. It had been years since she'd been able to face this place again. Her lack of responsibility, her cowardice felt like a huge weight upon her shoulders as she watched a group of students walk into the great hall, eyeing her suspiciously. She glanced quickly at their faces, looking for a mess of jet black hair and those eyes- Lily's eyes. She should have been with him, stayed with him, protected him from those ghastly relatives of his.
'No.' she told herself. 'You are not a mother and couldn't have offered the same protection he had at the Dursely's.'
Yes, logical reasoning to rationalize her selfish behavior these past fourteen years.
Dumbledore walked over and offered his arm to escort her to the faculty table. As they walked Dumbledore leaned in and whispered to her.
"I'm glad you decided to take the position. With Umbridge finally gone I wanted someone with actual experiance to teach." Valora giggled softly at his boyish tone.
"It's good to hear you laugh again, Lora. you've been away for too long." He said as he pulled out her chair for her. Valora smiled at him.
"I'm going to try and make up for lost time." She said before she sat.
"You may not be the only one." Dumbledore muttered before walking away. Valora at first watched him curiously but as she turned her head her heart went numb. A dark curtain of somehat greasy hair obscured the face of the man who sat to her left but she knew immediatley who it was. She used every ounce of control she had to keep her breathing light and even. He raised the goblet to his lips and after a moment spoke, his voice almost exactly how she remembered it, only heavier somehow- burdened.
"Hello Severus." She said, looking straight forward. Too much the coward to actually look him in the eye. Luckily in the next moment Professor McGonagall walked in with the newest batch of first years in tow. Valora pretended to be watching the sorting but really she was scanning the Gryffindor table for Harry. She began to chew on her bottom lip, when she couldn't find him.
"To the left, Valora."
She immediatley tensed, ready to ignore him, then realized she would rather find Harry than piss Snape off. She did as he advised and indeed found what she had been looking for. Oh god, he looked so much like his father- they had the same laugh, the same smile, even some same hand gestures. Then like someone had called his name Harry locked eyes with Valora and the new teacher almost fell off the bench. It was like Lily was staring out of her son's eyes. The pain of loss began to crush Valora's chest, and all she thought about was how she could make up for her behavior in the past.
'Please remember me' she thought. 'Please, remember me. Remember.
'"I doubt he could remember you, Valora, he was only two the last time you saw him." Snape said softly. Valora's pride kicked into high gear and she threw him an icy glance.
"Stay out of my head, Severus." she whispered acerbically before taking a sip of pumpkin juice.
"I don't need to be in your head. You know your desires are written all over your face."
"My desires are no longer your concern." She shot back in an intense whisper. Snape glared at her sideways and probably would have continued the argument but the last first-year had been sorted and they were interrupted by a din of clapping students. Dumbledore stood and gave his beginning of term speech and introduced Valora as Professor Nox, the new D.A.D.A. teacher.
Dinner was an uneventful thing. She and Severus didn't continue their speaking, which she preferred. Both Flitwick and Hagrid remembered her from her own schooling days, and very friendly towards her. At the first oppurtunity Snape quickly excused himself and went to his chambers. Valora waited until Harry had left before leaving herself. By that time the hallways were nearly empty.
As she walked down the lonely marble corridor it was like her own memories were haunting her. She waited for Lily to come up and walk beside her, complaining of James' newest attempt at asking her out, she waited for Sirius to slip his arm around her shoulders and boast about anything and everything. she waited for Severus to slip a note into her hand so fluidly it would look like nothing more than a clumsy slytherin knocking into a quiet Gryffindor.
How had things become such a mess? When had she lost everything? Two old friends, and the parents of her only godchild, brutally murdered by the Dark Lord. This terrible tragedy supposedly set in motion by her best friend who then spent the next thirteen or so years in Azkaban. Perhaps it was at that point - yes it must have been. That's around the time when things between her and Severus began to fall apart.
Things would be different now. She was stronger. She didn't need Severus, and Sirius was back in her life. They hadn't reunited officially but letters between them were being sent faster than they could be read. Lily and James would never really be replaced but in Harry, she still had them.
Valora climbed into her bed, snuggling beneatht he thick quilt, her mind a jumble of memories. Familiar sounds and smells triggering her to remember things she had long since forgotten. Sleep wrapped itself tightly around her and for the first time in a long time she feel asleep quickly, without large measures of sleeping draught or a spell.
Padfoot, Wormtail and Prongs raced ahead of her down the dark hallway, eager to slip outside and go see Moony who was currently holed up in a shack due to his 'mothly issues'. Valora slowed down gradually, letting them go on without her. Prongs was the only one to notice.
"What are you doing?" he whispered. Valora knew she had seen a light on in the library.
"Nothing. I'll be just a minute. Go on, I'll catch up." she told him. James rolled his eyes.
"If you get caught-"
"I won't get caught you git. No go!" she hissed. When he and the others were out of sight she backtracked to the library. Outside the doors, someone was waiting for her in the shadows.
"I thought I saw a bunch of idiots run by a minute ago." he said dryly. Valora propped her hands on her hips and sauntered over towards him.
"I didn't come back to listen to you call my friends names." she said archly. Valora made sure to stop just before he could reach out and pull her to him.
"Then why did you come back?" he asked, and though she couldn't see it, she knew he arched an eyebrow. Valora shrugged.
"For the same reason you're out here waiting for me." she told him, taking a final step forward. His arms shot out and drew her close against him, their lips colliding instantly.
"I can't stay long. They'll get suspicious. Besides, you're out past curfew." she warned, poking him in the shoulder.
"I'm a Slytherin. We're supposed to break the rules." he said to her as his lips grazed her neck. Valora pushed back on his shoulders.
"Sev, I'm serious." she told him, running her hands down his arms until their fingers intertwined. Valora pulled him forward so she could see his face in the light.
"I know." he said, leaning forward and placing a chaste kiss on her lips. Valora smiled wide and Severus in return gave her the special smirk that was for her eyes alone. Just one more quick kiss was all she gave him before she rushed off after her friends.
Waking up in the morning, Valora found her pillow stained with tears. She must have had the dream again. The same terrible memory/dream that seemed to replay almost constantly in her sleep, that along with a few other unpleasant experianxces she wished had never happened, like the day they had taken Sirius to Azkaban.
They had been careful, Valora hadn't told anyone where she was going or who she was meeting. Sirius met her outisde a dirty pub in a London slum. He had scooped her up into his arms and buried his face in her shoulder. Valora could hear the muffled sounds of tears on her shoulder.
"I didn't do it, Valora. I swear on my life. I could never - Lily and James - you know me - I wouldn't." he tried to explain but she cobvered his mouth with her hand.
"I believe you, Siri." She said wiping the tears from his cheeks.
"They'll take me to Azkaban, Lora."
"They can't. I won't let them." she said, holding fast to his hands, like she would never let go. The fear had been evident in his voice and a tiny tremor shook his sturdy frame.
"I don't think you'll have a say darling. You don't exist remember?" He told her, attempting a smile. Valora scowled. she hated this new rule - this stupid safety precaution. Sirius saw the defiance in her eyes and quickly cut it off.
"Promise me you won't try and clear my name when they get me." He demanded.
"Promise me, Lora."
"No. I won't let them take you too!" She told him in a heated whisper. Sirius crushed his mouth against hers, tangling his hands in her long chocolate brown hair. Valora responded with just as much passion, which seemed to suprise Sirius. He quickly tightened his grip on her and pressed her up against the brick wall, one hand traveling from her waist up her stomach until it cupped her breast. She sighed softly as he pulled away.
"Promise me." he asked seriously. Tears formed in her tawny eyes and she bit her kiss-swollen lips.
Sitting down at the faculty table beside Snape was almost more than she could bear. She could feel his gaze on her but was thankful that he said nothing. When the bells tolled for classes to start she thought she was going to vomit back up the breakfast she had just eaten but somehow she made it to her classroom. To her surprise it was a bunch of frightened looking first years. she smiled at them before pulling out her wand.
"Please turn to page 23 in your text."