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No Air by Evelyn Grey
Chapter 2 : The Ever-Present Impasse
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3

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Classes for the most part were fairly easy. Most students seemed enthused about it which was a relief. Valora was thrilled when her 6th year class came in. Harry sat with the redheaded Weasley boy and some bushy haired girl who raised her hand to answer every question Valora asked. 

The new professor had never been a top student when she attended Hogwarts but certaintly had enough 'field experiance' to make her a suitable candidate to teach the course - clearly since she had gotten the job. Still she had decided she wasn't going to follow the exact curriculum and instead teach her students spells she knew they would need if they ever came into contact with a dark wizard, like her godson had so many times.

"How many of you can use 'stupefy'?" She asked. a majority of the students raised their hands, including Harry and his two companions.

"Very good. Now how many of you can 'stupefy' without actually speaking?"

Nobody moved.

"I thought as much. Alright wands out and mouths closed. We're going to practice non-verbal spells. Now i want you to think the spell, envision it's effects. Now pair up, and remember if you speak you're only cheating yourselves."

The students immediatley began to pair up, a few of them whispereing and muttering amongst themselves. Hermione, the bushy haired know-it-all, once again raised her hand.

"Yes, Ms. Granger?" Valora asked, walking over to her.

"Professor Nox, non-verbal spells are really advanced. Not everyone in the class knows how to stupefy and you already want us to try non-verbal spells? There are some full grown witches and wizards who haven't accomplished that."

"I'm well aware of that Ms. Granger, but I also understand that you recieved almost no training last year from that vile Umbridge woman. So I want you working on the most difficult things. I want you to be on the same level as the people you need to defend yourselves against. Voldemort and his followers aren't going to care that you're a 6th year and haven't learned all the defensive spells yet, they will attack you with everything. If you learn non-verbal spells you'll be that much ahead of them. " Valora told her. everyone in the room gaped at her use of the Dark Lord's name - something they had really only heard Harry and Dumbledore do.

"But Professor Nox -" Hermione attempted to continue.

"No, i'm quite done explaining my methods, Ms. Granger. I want you to challenge yourselves so shut up and start practicing on Ms. Patil."

The students practiced for the rest of the class, with Valora walking around and commenting. The Malfoy boy thought he was quite smart when he whispered the spell and sent Crabbe flying across the room. Valora however put a silencing charm on him and asked him to repeat the progress, when he couldn't she took 5 points from Slytherin for his lying. She would have like dto take 100 points for his parents being evil Deatheaters who make life aliving hell, but of course thats not allowed. Most students failed miserably, but a few managed to at least knock their partners over, even if they didn't completely stupefy them.

As the students filed out Valora tapped Harry on the shoulder.

"Can I have a word?" She asked.

"Sure, professor." He said. Merlin - he even sounded like James. "I'll catch up with guys later." He said to Ron and Hermione.

Valora felt like she was looking at a picture of James. It was starnge how much Harry had grown up. Not strange really, just a little sad. The two-year old boy she had last seen was so different from the young man standing in front of her.

"Is anything wrong, Professor Nox?" Harry asked. It was then Valora realized she had been staring at him.

"No, -I'm sorry. You just look so much like you're father. It's uncanny really."

"You knew my father?" Harry asked, suddenly intrigued.

"Very well. In fact-"

"Professor Nox?" A familiar dark voice interrupted. Both Valora and Harry turned to see Snape standing in the doorway.

"Yes, Severus?"

"I need to have a word with you - privately of course." He said, pointedly looking at Harry. Valora rolled her eyes and bit the inside of her cheek to keep from walking over and slapping him. The nerve -  the absolute NERVE of him. Walking in on what was going to be her reunion with her godchild. How dare he!

"You'd best get to class then Harry." The seething brunette managed to say. Harry looked confused and knew something was going on - the boy wasn't stupid.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Professor Nox." He said, throwing her a tiny half smile before passing Snape on his way out of the room. Severus shut the door soundly and walked to Valora's desk, letting his hand run across the miscellaneous pieces of parchment, all with the familiar mark of her handwriting. The uneven lines, the big looping 'L's -

"What do you need, Severus?"

Valora's icy tone snapped him back into the present. He looked up to see her glaring at him with those golden eyes.

"Whatever do you mean?" He asked innocently. Valora marched herself toward him until they were only inches apart.

"You know perfectly well how much Harry means to me. You know how important it is that I tell him who I am. Yet even with this knowledge you deliberately interrupt. so what is so important that it couldn't wait?"

"Are you truly so naive? Haven't you thought of the consequences of what you'll be telling him? This doesn't just involve you. If you tell him who you are you'll be telling him about me as well." He told her, his voice a stony whisper as his dark eyes locked with hers in an unofficial staredown.

"You have nothing to do with who I am." She growled. Valora's jaw clenched tightly, as did Snape's. Their tempers were so similiar in nature - it made almost every argument they ever had impossible to resolve.

"What will yuo say to him? Fourteen years, Valora. Fourtneen years to account for. That's how long you've been gone." Snape reminded her.

I know damn well how long I was gone, and i don't need to tell you anything about what I plan on telling my godson." Valora snapped.

"Maybe you can tell him where you were for the two years before you dissapeared." Snape continued. "Or, maybe why you've had to spend countless nights in St. Mungo's repairing that sad excuse for a liver."

"Shut your mouth, Snivellus." She told him, using that god-awful nickname from their school days. It was the one name she knew hurt him the most. He looked pained for half a second before covering his face with that inpenetrable mask of hate.

"Perhaps you could tell potter whose bright idea it was to make Pettigrew the secret keeper."

It was like he had slapped her, and he knew it. Snape took her silence as his que to leave, knowing he had gotten his way. how could she explain this to Harry? How could she make sense of the past sixteen years? It suddenly felt like the air was getting heavier, pressing down on her. Valora sank to her knees, skaing and gasping, waiting for the feeling to pass. Tears collected in her eys as she tried desperatley to breathe.

"Severus?" she had asked, her voice shaky and unsteady. He had to be home, didn't he?  He didn't like traveling in bad weather.
"Valora? is that you?" He asked, stepping out of his study. His eyes widened at her rain-soaked form and blotchy face.
"Valora, what happened?" He asked, rushing to her and wrapping his arms around her. Immediatley she began to sob against his shoulder.
"It's all my fault Sev. I killed them. I've killed my best friends. Merlin Sev. What should I do?"
"I don't understand, Lora. What did you do?"
"It's all my fault. Sirius...Deatheaters....Pettigrew...and now - Lily and James, they're dead." He words choked and hard to understand as she babbled. Severus held her tighter to him.
"It will be alright love. You didn't kill them. It'll be alright."
"Now it won't. They'll take Sirius to Azkanban. And I can't take Harry because I'm not suppsoed to even exist. Oh god. Harry. What will happen to the baby?"
"He'll be fine Lora. Everything will be fine, I promise."
Valora sat at the desk that stood in the corner of her private room, reading the letter she had recieved from Sirius by owl that afternoon. As usual it went on about how much he missed her, and how he promised he wouldn't breathe a word of her existence to Harry, and would continue to keep quiet about her and respect her wishes that they didn't meet. It was too risky.

Dipping her quill in ink she begant o write her letter back to him.

Dear Padfoot,
I can't believe you actually got yelled at by your mother's portrait about your hair length. Tell her if she doesn't like it to shove it up her arse. How long is your hair anyway? I spoke to Harry today and you were right, he sounds just like James. I wanted to hug him so badly but restrained myself. Padfoot, I've decided not to tell him I'm his godmother. I know it seems like I'm being a coward and maybe i am but how am I supposed to expalin where I've been? The things i've done to him, to his parents, to you. You must see that by staying out of his life i'm doing the right thing. Lily and James were wrong. I'm not fit to be a godmother to him. You can be as mad as you like with me but I refuse to budge on this. Harry will never know who I was.

Ever you friend,

As she took the stairs to the owlery she thoughts she heard someone speaking softly. Rounding  the corner she saw Severus and Draco whispering. Draco looked frightened and Snape seemed aggarvated. As she walked into the room their heads whipped around to face her, both of them scowling.

"It's a bit late for you to be out of your dormitory, Mr. Malfoy." Valora said.

"He was just leaving." Snape said darkly. He seemed so guilty. what exactly had they been talking about? Draco quickly walked by Valora, almost slipping on some fresh owl droppings which would have been very funny.

"I didn't expect anyone to come here this late." Snape said, as he unfastened a letter from Draco's owl.

"Don't you just hate being interrupted?" Valora asked as she tied the letter around her spotted brown owl, Jasper. Jasper hooted softly at Severus. Snape looked at the owl and then Valora. Jasper hooted again.

"He remembers you." Valora said softly, stroking her bird's soft feathers.

"So it would seem." Snape said just as softly.  His own business concluded he hastily shoved the letter into his pocket and went to step around Valora when Jasper hooted loudly in protest., reaching out and snapping at Severus's hand.

"He wants you to pet him." Valora said. 

It bothered her that her bird still had such a strong liking to a man she could no longer stand. Severus paused, his face had 'are you kidding?' written all over it, but instead of making a snippy comment he held out his arm for Jasper to jump onto. The owl gladly went to Severus and nuzzled him affectionately.  Valora walked over to the window, letting the cool autumn air dry the tears the were beginning to form. It was only a moment or so before Jasper flew back onto her shoulder. Valora spun around to find herself alone. He had left silently. Valora kissed Jasper on his head and whispered the address before releasing him into the starry night.

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