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Chapter 4 : Quidditch Infamy
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When she reached the box she took a seat near the back and settled in. She had brought a canister of her tea with her and was wearing her colors: red and gold. She smiled at McGonagall and a few others as they turned to see her. As soon as the game began she was enthralled. From where she sat she could see Harry hovering above the game, waiting to catch sight of the snitch. He looped around a few times, showing off a bit. Valora smiled as she remembered the antics James used to pull to get Lily to notice him. One time he had nearly collided with Sirius, who had played keeper. Valora had more then once sent a bludger whizzing past his head, just to keep him focused. As she watched the game Valora barely noticed someone fill the vacant space beside her.
“Too bad Slytherin isn’t playing. I rather enjoy watching Gryffindor lose.” Snape said. Valora rolled her eyes and just put the binoculars up to them, watching as Gryffindor scored even more points.
“I wish Slytherin were playing too, just so I can see you pout at dinner when they lose.” She told him, smiling to herself. Snape’s natural frown deepened.
“I don’t pout.” He whispered, not wanting make a scene. Valora looked at him sideways and held back laughter.
“You’re pouting now.” She said before turning her attention back to the game. Was this a friendly conversation? How could she be having a friendly conversation with him, after everything?
“I’ve been asking myself the same question.” Snape said, responding to her thoughts. Valora turned to glare at him.
“I hate when you use Leglimens on me.” She complained softly.
“What?” Valora asked, a little too loudly, before promptly turning her attention back to the game when a few teachers turned to look at her. Severus too pretended to be completely preoccupied. He waited a moment before leaning and whispering an explanation.
“It’s not a conversation. It’s banter.” He explained. If he wasn’t so guarded he might have smiled. Valora however, was not so guarded and so allowed a smile to play along the corners of her lips.
“So even though we hate each other we can still have friendly banter?” she checked. Severus shrugged in a non-committal way.
“I suppose so.”
Valora smiled to herself. This was what it was now. True they hated each other but they could be civil, and enjoy ‘banter’.
Watching the game with him felt taboo almost. In fact being seen sitting next to him in public felt wrong. They had only watched a game together once. She had ‘borrowed’ the invisibility cloak and by borrowed she really stole it. Stolen was a harsh word though since she had returned it before James ever noticed it was gone. She had borrowed the cloak and spent the second half of the game in the back of the bleachers, just holding his hand. She remembered how much she wished that the cloak was big enough for the both of them. James would have been furious if he found out she had shagged someone in his cloak though, especially Snape.
“It still would have been funny.” Snape whispered to her. Valora blushed furiously before smacking him in the arm.
“Stop doing that!” She hissed. Snape just smiled smugly.
“Maybe you should practice Occlumens.” He suggested.
“Maybe I will.” Valora told him, unscrewing the lid of her tea and taking a sip. Snape took a deep breath beside her, no doubt a bunch of memories coming back to him. Valora couldn’t think about him right now, no doubt he would only keep listening to her thoughts even if she asked him not to. Instead she focused on the game.
Harry was really very good, the entire team was. More than once during the game she caused the teachers around her to grimace or hold their ears when she cheered too loudly. He was amazing really. Better than his father was – and James had been good. When Harry pulled off the Wonky Feint Valora jumped to her feet cheering. Luckily she wasn’t the only one. Every Gryffindor in the stands was cheering. That ended the game and, of course, Gryffindor had one. Valora clapped loudly and turned to a frowning Severus.
“Pouting already?” She asked. He glared at her before standing and leaving. Valora just laughed at his childish attitude and cheered loudly for her house.
Severus quickly walked towards the castle, but instead of going straight to the dungeons he took a walk around the lake to clear his head. Fourteen years. He hadn’t seen her for fourteen years and it hadn’t been a pleasant parting by any definition of the word. When they had broken it off it had been a painful, terrible break-up that was dragged out over a six month period until he eventually walked out. Still, every time he saw her his heartbeat quickened and the corners of his mouth twitched with an instinctive smile. He hated her for what she did, what she put him through, what she put herself through. How could she have been so self-destructive? It was like he was being put through his own personal hell by this woman. She existed only to torture him in one way or another. Today at the game, she was drinking that tea of hers, thinking about shagging him beneath an invisibility cloak. Thank God Valora wasn’t a Leglimens or she would have seen the rather inappropriate thoughts that flashed through Severus’s mind. He rubbed his tired eyes with rough hands, trying to rid himself of these thoughts. Despite everything they had been through, Severus couldn’t help but feel like he had let her down. Just as he was finishing his second lap around the lake Fawkes flew by and dropped a small scrap of parchment at his feet. Snape groaned before he even read it, knowing what it said.
‘I would like to speak with you. Please come to my office as soon as you can.
- Albus P.W.B. Dumbledore’
Snape found himself a few moments later in front of the large stone gargoyle.
“Licorice whip.” He said quietly, and the statue jumped out of the way revealing the staircase that led to Dumbledore’s office. Snape knocked softly and he heard the old man’s cheery voice chirp,
“Come in, Severus.”
Dumbledore stood beside Fawkes’ perch, petting the phoenix’s glossy feathers and feeding him what appeared to be skittles. The headmaster motioned for Severus to sit in a large upholstered chair that was the color of a corn muffin, and oddly enough smelled like one as well.
“You wanted to see me, sir?” Snape asked, looking utterly bored. Dumbledore smiled and took a seat behind his desk, lacing his long fingers together and leaning forward to peer at Severus over the top of his glasses. The peering thing was kind of his trademark.
“I noticed you chose to sit next to Valora at the game this afternoon.” Dumbledore said, his blue eyes twinkling mischievously. Snape fought the urge to roll his eyes; instead he took a deep, calming breath.
“I just sat down, sir; I didn’t give it much thought.”
“Exactly! It was perfectly natural for you to want to be close to her.” Dumbledore explained. He seemed…what was the word? Giddy. He seemed positively giddy.
“I assure you Professor. I have no urge to be close to that woman.”
“Severus, I know you’ve been in pain. She has too. It would take effort on both sides for you two to come back together-“
“It’s a bit late for that.” Snape snapped angrily, his jaw clenched tight in defiance.
“It’s never too late, Severus.” Dumbledore said softly. Albus wanted to continue but he could see that Snape had shut down, and was no longer listening. It was no use right now, it was best just to let the man brood.
“You should probably get some rest, Severus.” Dumbledore said softly. Wordlessly he stood and walked quietly to the door.
“Severus.” Dumbledore said just as the man’s hand touched the handle of the door.
“Yes, sir?” he answered without turning.
“Don’t close your heart to her. You both have a chance for happiness again, and it would be terrible to waste it.” Dumbledore told him. Snape gripped the doorknob so tight it might have broken off. He took a deep breath and quickly left, taking great care not to slam the door, no matter how badly he wanted to.
Valora strolled down by the trophy cases. The halls were empty; most students were in their common rooms either complaining or rejoicing over the game’s events. Valora ran a hand through her dark brown hair. She was wearing it down for once. Usually it was tied back and out of her face but today she had actually felt like looking good. No particular reason why, girls sometimes just like to feel pretty. When she had been younger she had worn her hair down often, Sirius had always liked it, said it made her look pretty and really brought out her eyes. Severus on the other hand didn’t really fuss about her hair, unless it got in his way while he was kissing her or something.
Looking through the glass she gazed at the various trophies and awards and team photographs. Then her eyes wandered over to the supply closet and a smile erupted onto her face.
It was late and a respectable student wouldn’t be out of bed at this hour, but Valora often left the respectability to Remus and Lily, she preferred the sense of danger. She lingered near the trophy cases waiting for Severus to show up. She was looking at the picture of the Gryffindor Quidditch team the first year she had made the team. She was a tiny awkward third year and looked extremely odd standing next to a group of large quidditch playing boys. She rubbed the chill from her bare arms. It had been warmer earlier so she had picked a top without sleeves, now she was completely regretting it. She was standing near the window when a bolt of lightening crashed across the sky, followed by a roar of thunder. Valora smiled and peeked out the window at the torrential rain that was pounding the ground.
“Do you really find rain that interesting?” said an amused voice from behind her. Valora didn’t even bother turning around, she just smiled.
“Yes. I love thunderstorms.” She said softly. Severus came forward and wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing the nape of her neck. Valora wasn’t short by any standard but Severus still stood about a half a head taller than her, which was okay, since it made her feel more like a girl than a marauder.
“That kind of behavior, at this hour of the night, in a hallway is unacceptable Mr. Snape.” Valora teased, turning in his arms to face him, gently walking him backwards until his back rested against the opposite wall. He smiled down at her wickedly.
“If you would prefer me on my best behavior perhaps I’d better leave. Goodnight Ms. Nox.” He said attempting to walk away. Valora smiled and grabbed his hand, pinning him against the wall with a kiss. Severus responded fiercely, spinning her so she was pressed against the cool stone and her arms were pinned above her head. Valora smiled, biting his bottom lip a bit as she kissed him. Something that sounded like footsteps made both of them jump. Severus quickly shoved her into the supply closet and then closed the door behind them. The space was tiny and cramped. Valora’s heart raced, and Severus stood pressed so close against her that she could feel his hammering as well. After a few moments when they heard nothing she looked up at him.
“That was unsettling.” She said. It was a slight understatement, and he just cocked an eyebrow at her. Valora gently ran her fingers across his chest, longing to feel the skin beneath it. She tugged at the edges of his shirt and looked up at him coyly.
“What? We almost got caught and now you want to go even further?” he asked wrapping his arms tightly around her.
“We weren’t almost caught; we were startled. There’s a difference. And yes, I want you to take your shirt off.” She said bluntly.
“You’re not very good at subtlety, you know.” He said, slipping the shirt over his head. Valora smiled, feeling a little rush as she ran her fingertips across his bare skin.
“I’m impatient.” Valora said, pulling her own shirt over her head. Severus smiled. When had he gotten so lucky to have a smart, beautiful, clever woman not only wanting him but eager to tear her clothes off for him?
“Sev, when I said I was impatient, it wasn’t code for go slow.” She said, entwining her fingers into his hair and kissing him greedily.
Harry sat on the common room couch with Ron and Hermione, his mind going in a million directions. Professor Nox was oddly familiar to him. He had a feeling he’d seen her before. Ron shook Harry’s shoulder, drawing him out of his reverie.
“What’s wrong with you mate? You just won your first match and you look like you’re studying for a potions final.” Ron said. Harry rubbed the nape of his neck and tried to relax his shoulders.
“Does Professor Nox look familiar to you?” he asked them. Ron furrowed his brow in thought and Hermione cocked her head to one side.
“What do you mean Harry?” the bushy haired girl asked. Harry shrugged, feeling a little silly for bringing it up.
“I don’t know I just feel like I’ve seen her before.” He said.
“Yea, I know what you mean.” Ron said, clearly concentrating on where exactly he had seen her. “Now I remember. Come on.”
“Where are you going?” Hermione asked.
“I just want to show Harry where I’ve seen her. Grab the cloak, just in case.” Ron said, Harry ran and grabbed it from his dormitory while Ron waited by the portrait hole. Hermione followed them as they climbed out into the deserted hallway.
They crept down the stairs to the trophy cases, they hadn’t worn the cloak, it was only brought as back-up since it was really too small for the three of them to fit under now. When they got to the cases they found Valora leaning against the wall with her eyes closed and a tiny smile on her face.
“Uh, Professor?” Hermione asked. Valora jumped a bit, straightening her robes and smoothing out her hair, feeling a little flustered.
“Shouldn’t you three be celebrating? That game was amazing boys.” She said warmly.
“We just decided to reminisce a little.” Ron said, gesturing to the trophy cases. Valora raised an eyebrow.
“Reminisce about things that happened before you were born, Mr. Weasley?” she didn’t believe them really, and technically they were out of bounds, but she was never big on following rules herself.
“Were you on the quidditch team, Professor Nox?” Harry asked. Valora smiled with pride.
“Since my third year. I was a beater. Nowhere near as good as your brothers, Mr. Weasley. I heard they’re much better than I was, but I was still pretty good.”
“So you must have been on the team with my Dad and Sirius.” Harry said. Valora’s heart kicked into overdrive. Shit. This was not the conversation she wanted to have right now, in front of his little friends.
“Yes, I was, but we didn’t really talk much.” She said flatly. She could tell Harry didn’t fully believe her.
“You didn’t really talk to your teammates?” he asked.
“I was a bit shy in school.” Valora stretched her arms above her head. “It’s getting late. I’m going to turn and I suggest you three do the same. Wouldn’t want Filch catching you, or worse, Snape.” She smiled and squeezed Harry’s shoulder gently before walking down the hall. That had been a close call. Why would he mention Sirius? That bastard. If he had breathed a word of anything to Harry she would cripple him.
Harry raised an eyebrow once the Professor had left. Hermione bit her lip and Ron shuffled his feet a bit.
“Was it me or was she flat out lying?” Harry asked, annoyed. Ron shrugged.
“Maybe. I mean it’s possible.” The redhead attempted.
“Ron, have you ever heard of a beater being shy? On any team? Ever in the history of Quidditch?” Harry asked.
“No, not really.” Ron admitted. Hermione pressed her face against he glass.
“She was definitely lying, Harry. Look at this.” She said, pointing to a picture.
“I knew I’d seen her before.” Ron said as they watched the picture. It was a picture of James, Sirius and Valora in their 5th year. James was excitedly waving the snitch around, then Valora would tickle him every once in a while. At one point Sirius picked her up and twirled her around, kissing her cheek, which made Valora blush and laugh.
“She definitely knew them, and she doesn’t look like she was one bit shy.” Hermione said. Harry looked pissed.
“I don’t get it. Sirius told me he never really spoke to her. Why would he lie about it? There’s no reason.” He said angrily. If there was one thing that he couldn’t stand it was people lying to him.
“Maybe you should talk with Sirius, Harry. He’ll be able to answer your questions better than we will.” Hermione said quietly.
“C’mon mate. Let’s go back to the party.” Ron said, lightly smacking Harry’s shoulder. Harry took one last look at the faces in the photograph before following his friends back up to the common room.
You would think after seven years of school Valora would know her way around the damn castle by now, but nope. She was blindly feeling along the length of cold stone for anything that resembled a door, or a window. The walls were colder now. She had gone down stairs a while ago, but she thought it had only been one flight. Was she in the dungeons? A small light appeared a few feet in front of her and she heard footsteps coming toward her as the light grew bigger and brighter.
“Do you always wander around the castle like a blind woman?” Severus asked coldly. Well at least now Valora knew she was in the dungeons.
“I left my wand in my room. I didn’t plan on staying up this late. I got – distracted.” She said, slightly embarrassed. What kind of teacher forgets their wand?
“I suppose then that it’s my duty as a gentleman to see that you get to your room safely?” He asked dryly, like it was such a pain in his ass to walk up a few flights of stairs.
“I wouldn’t worry about it Severus, I never really thought of you as a gentleman.” She said. Snape narrowed his eyes and set off in the direction of her room. Valora waited a moment then turned to catch up with him, her long strides matching his.
“What were doing up this late?” She asked, trying to be pleasant. Snape threw a quizzical look.
“Why?” he asked, sounding suspicious.
“I thought we agreed that banter was allowed. So I’m creating banter, because I find the silence stifling.” She said calmly as they walked.
“Well I enjoy the silence.” He said curtly. Valora rolled her eyes at his tone of voice.
“Fine.” She said. Walking with him down the halls reminded her of the late strolls they took. He would almost always walk her to the tower every night, stopping right before they reached the portrait hole. She missed that. Not the walks, but the saying goodbye. She liked saying goodbye to someone and having them say it back. Severus would lean in and whisper it, kissing her quickly, chastely on her cheek before leaving. Valora both lived and died in that moment.
They arrived at a portrait of a woman sitting in front of an ornate vanity, which was the entrance to Valora’s private rooms. She turned to face Severus.
“Thanks for walking me to my room. If you hadn’t I’d probably still be-“
“bumping into things and keeping me awake.” Severus finished. Valora could hear a trace of annoyance in his voice, but was quickly becoming used to his surly nature again. She didn’t know why but she had the urge to kiss him goodnight. Severus suddenly traced his fingers along her jaw line, and Valora felt her breath catch in her chest.
“Valora.” He breathed softly. She looked up at him, with the moonlight coming out from behind the clouds and pouring through the window she saw him looking down at her. His face was no longer impassive but held fourteen years worth of pain and regret.
“Yes, Severus?” She asked softly. Severus dropped his hand suddenly.
“Study Occlumens, for both our sakes.” He said roughly, before striding back towards the dungeons. Valora stared at his retreating figure wishing she had her wand so she could hex him to hell and back. Instead she traced the path his fingers had made across her skin. Behind her the portrait turned and looked at the young teacher.
“Girl, you got it bad.” The woman said as she brushed her hair. Valora groaned and gave the stupid portrait her password, then went inside the sleep off what had turned into a very stressful day.
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