Chapter 6 : Same Old Blood Rush
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"Merlin, I’ve missed you Sirius." She whispered, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. Sirius kept a tight grip on her, his face buried in the chocolate brown waves which brushed her shoulders.
"I’ve missed you too, love." He whispered back, before they finally pulled away. Valora wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. Then looked at him for a moment, frowned and punched him in the shoulder, hard.
"OW! What was that for?" Sirius asked, half angry half laughing, rubbing the sore spot on his arm.
"For scaring the bloody hell out of me back there. What were you doing? Pretending to be a deatheater you arse?" She demanded. Sirius laughed. It had been so long since he’d heard her voice, let alone heard her yell at him for something trivial.
"Just making sure you still wanted to see me." He replied. Valora laughed a little. She cuddled up next to him, resting her head on his shoulder. They stayed like that for a little while until Sirius whispered softly into her hair.
"Where have you been, Pardus?"
Valora sat up a bit, and smiled weakly. She didn’t want to talk about it, and he knew that; besides she had told him the basics of where she had been months ago.
"We already talked about that." She said, as though that were all she would be saying on the subject, but Sirius was nothing if not persevering.
"You said you’d been doing odd jobs and staying low, then quietly disappeared from society, pretending to be dead. You never told me why."
"I didn’t realize I had to." Valora said her back stiffening. She didn’t like to dwell in the past, let alone discuss it with people whom she knew would be disappointed. Sirius let out an aggravated sigh. Clearly Valora wasn’t ready to give on the topic.
"So you escaped from Azkaban? That’s pretty impressive. I didn’t realize you were that smart." She said, changing the subject. Sirius smiled at her teasing. Merlin; how he’d missed the sound of her voice.
"Well, turns out the being an ‘animagi’ thing worked out in my benefit. I was a dog for quite a while."
"You’ve always been a dog." Valora joked. Sirius feigned hurt and pressed his lips into a pout. Valora just mirrored his expression and smiled.
"If you’re done insulting me, may I continue?" Sirius asked. Valora nodded.
"Well, as soon I got out I went to go see Harry, and after a whole mess of things involving Peter and Moony I convinced him that I didn’t murder Lily and James." Sirius paused to assess Valora, who was listening intently, her golden eyes studying his features, taking in the differences that time had made. She hadn’t seen him in the flesh in sixteen long years, ever since he had been taken to Azkaban. "Of course, Snivellus was there and tried to kill me."
"What?!" Valora demanded angrily. Sirius chuckled.
"In all fairness everyone still believed I was a murderer, though I doubt my innocence really mattered." Sirius elaborated.
"Explain this to me again, it still boggles my mind, even after Dumbledore told me I still can’t wrap my head around it."
"Peter was living as rat with the Weasley’s son, and Moony never noticed. I thought he was the smart marauder. It wasn’t coincidental that they find a family rat only a few weeks after Peter disappears."
"Rats are a common find, Valora. He thought Peter was dead, just like the rest of us. And who decided Remus was the ‘smart’ marauder?" Sirius asked. Valora laughed lightly.
"Oh you know how you guys looked to everyone."
"I really don’t."
"Remus was the smart one, James the quidditch star and prankster, and Peter…well he was just lucky to be included."
"What was I?" Sirius asked, seeming genuinely interested.
"You were the rogue, pure-blooded playboy with a naughty streak in you." Valora teased. Sirius puffed out his chest a little.
"True, can’t argue that one." He joked; Valora poked him in the side to stop his smug smiling.
"What was I then?" she asked.
"How do you mean? You weren’t a marauder, really." He said. Valora shoved him.
"Stop being a prat. I was more a marauder than Wormtail was and that counts. The only reason I wasn’t an official marauder is because I was a girl, which is a stupid reason if you ask me."
"Well, I didn’t ask you."
"You haven’t changed. You’d think sixteen years and being incarcerated would have made you grow up a little, but nope. Same old Padfoot." She said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. Sirius smiled lazily and ran a hand through his hair.
"You were the strong, mysterious beauty that everyone was afraid of." Sirius told her. Valora looked at him seriously.
"I am Sirius." He told her. Valora rolled her eyes at the lame joke while Sirius burst out laughing at his own cleverness.
"I don’t remember people being afraid of me." She said. Sirius looked at her like she was crazy.
"You’re joking, right? People were terrified of you. Remember that time in fourth year when you beat up that sixth year Slytherin boy for making fun of Moony."
"He deserved it."
"I agree, but me and James could’ve handled it. All it did was make people afraid of you. It didn’t help that you were one of the only girl quidditch players and the only female beater."
"What’s wrong with being a beater?" Valora asked defensively.
"Nothing, it’s just a very masculine position to play." Sirius said. He then quickly jumped up as Valora lunged at him, ready to tackle him.
"Take that back!" She told him sternly and stood, ready to knock him to the floor. Her hand was itching for her wand.
"Valora, we’re 37 years old. Aren’t we a bit old to wrestle over a bit of teasing?" Sirius asked. Valora raised an eyebrow and crouched low, watching him with golden eyes. There was a reason her nickname was Pardus, which is Latin for leopard. All her movements were catlike, the way she stalked her prey, the subtlety of her motions, and the pounce, which knocked him back onto the couch. Sirius allowed her to pin him down, rather enjoying her weight on top of him.
"Is this what you do to Snivellus when he makes you angry?" Sirius asked. Valora gave a tiny half smile.
"He’s not so bad."
Sirius’s jaw dropped. Snivellus being described as ‘not so bad’?
"You actually like that greasy git? He’s a fraud, and a fake and a deatheater."
"Dumbledore trusts him." Valora countered. Why was she defending him? This was a bad idea.
"Since when have you liked Snape?" Sirius asked, sounding utterly flabbergasted by the thought.
"It’s not that I like him. I still hate him; it’s just that now we’re colleagues, I’ve learned how to deal with him in a civil manner"
"I see." Sirius said quietly. He didn’t sound like he believed it. Valora attempted to stand up off of him but he pulled her back down onto his lap. He buried his face in her shoulder and took a deep breath. She smiled just how he’d remembered. Warm vanilla with a trace of the disgusting mint tea she couldn’t get enough of. It was a comforting scent, like coming home after being away for such a long time.
"I’ve missed you Valora." He told her yet again, only this time his voice was thickened with a sudden flood of emotion. Valora ran her hand over his head and rubbed his back; a silent way of reassuring him that she was staying for good this time. Both of their heads shot up at the sound of voices not far from their hiding spot. Valora quickly climbed out of his lap and walked over to the window.
"Looks like the students are up to something and it doesn’t look good." Valora said, pulling on the leather gloves she had taken off earlier and extinguishing the fire.
"You had better go, Padfoot." She said, without turning to see him walk toward her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her cheek sweetly.
"I’ll be back during the next weekend. Stay safe love, and watch out for our godson." He said before turning into the familiar shaggy black dog. Valora smiled and scratched him affectionately behind the ears before running back out into the chilly autumn air towards the crowd of students, pushing her way through she saw Draco and Harry, each with their wands drawn, facing each other.
It seemed as though Draco had just avoided a jinx Harry had thrown and was now preparing to counter the attack. Valora blanched at the first syllable.
"EXPELLIARMUS!" Valora bellowed loudly, knocking Draco’s wand out of his hand. "Accio wands." She said clearly, opening her hand to receive Harry and Draco’s wands. Both boys blanched as the professor stood there stony faced, holding three wands in her hand.
"I’ll escort both of you back to the castle and if you so much as utter one faint whisper of a word I’ll make sure neither of you ever see the Hogwarts quidditch pitch again, am I understood?" both boys nodded and followed her as she walked back up the path to the castle.
Valora stood with her back against the wall as both Draco and Harry sat in front of Dumbledore’s desk, with Severus and Minerva standing off to the sides. Valora was fuming. That spell was far too dangerous- Draco probably learned it from his father, no doubt, but what was he thinking using that in a duel with another student in broad daylight? She knew he was a Malfoy but was the family really that stupid?
"I’m sure Potter did something to deserve the jinxes that were cast against him." Severus said coolly. "I’ve no doubt Mr. Malfoy was merely defending himself."
"That is ridiculous. Potter’s record may not be spotless but neither is Mr. Malfoy’s. You’re not getting him off the hook that easily, Severus." Minerva said quickly, while Snape through her a murderous look. Dumbledore looked extremely unhappy and turned his gaze to Valora.
"What do you think, Professor Nox?"
Valora walked forward a few steps and looked at both of the boys. Neither one showing remorse nor seeming to care about anything other than the fact they got caught. Didn’t they realize how dangerous what they were doing had been? Obviously not.
"Well, Headmaster. I think the boys should be removed from Quidditch indefinitely."
Immediately four voices clamored forth in protest. Valora rolled her eyes and shrugged and Dumbledore held up a hand to silence them all.
"That may be a bit harsh though I do agree that the punishments should be equal. Let’s say a month of detention and house points taken. How many do you think she be deducted Valora?"
"Five hundred." She responded flatly, glaring at both boys while Snape in turn glared at her.
"I think fifty each will suffice. Now, if that’s all settled you are all free to leave." Dumbledore said.
As they all reached the hallway Minerva and Harry walked off towards the Gryffindor tower while Severus and Draco walked towards the dungeons. Valora however walked a fair distance behind the Slytherins, waiting until McGonagall was out of earshot.
"Severus, can I have a word?" She asked sweetly. Snape stopped and muttered something to Draco who continued on without him. Snape walked closer to her and stood off in the shadows of the hall while Valora stared at him, anger and pain brewing behind her eyes.
"Tell me its coincidence." She said softly. Severus raised a quizzical brow.
"What exactly are you referring to?" Snape questioned, looking annoyed with her attitude, but Valora was in no mood to play games with him.
"Tell me it’s a coincidence that your nasty little deatheater protégé went after my godson with that all too familiar curse."
"As I wasn’t there I have no way of knowing what curse Draco attempted-"
"- Sectumsempra, Severus. Bring back any memories?" She asked, barely containing the heat in her words. Snape blanched.
"I never- I don’t know where he learned about that." Snape stuttered honestly. Valora rolled her eyes and scoffed at his innocence, too angry to care.
"Then it must have been his vile parents, or that deranged aunt of his. Either way I suggest you have a talk with him about the danger of spells. You of all people should remember the consequences of that curse, or maybe since the scars aren’t on you, you don’t care." She hissed bitterly before storming off to her rooms, leaving Snape to glare after her.
Valora didn’t completely remember how she got to the hospital wing, all she could remember was the searing pain in her back. She was lying on her stomach on a cot with people bustling around behind her. Looking to her side she saw Professor McGonagall speaking to the marauders, all of whom were white as ghosts.
"Why do you all look like someone just canceled quidditch?" She mumbled, her mouth slightly obscured by the pillow she was laying on. Sirius was the first to brush past McGonagall and crouch by her side.
"Pardus what the hell were you thinking?" Sirius said, taking her icy hand in his. Valora raised an eyebrow.
"What the bloody hell are you talking about? I’m just as confused as the rest of you. What happened to my back, by the way? It kills." She said, letting out a small groan of discomfort. Madame Pomfrey came out of her office with Dumbledore, who didn’t look happy at all.
"She’s awake." Madame Pomfrey said rushing over and taking Valora’s temperature.
"She just woke up." James said.
"She doesn’t remember a thing." Remus explained. Valora’s eyes narrowed.
"She can also hear you and would appreciate being called by her name!" she growled viciously.
"Of course dear, I apologize." Madam Pomfrey said as she began spreading a cooling salve on her back. Valora hissed a bit in uneasiness. It didn’t hurt, it just felt…strange.
"Would you boys please wait outside for a few moments?" Dumbledore asked. The marauders each threw Valora a tiny smile and left, Sirius walking slowly, clearly uncomfortable letting Valora out of his sight. Dumbledore sat gingerly in the chair at her beside while Pomfrey and McGonagall hovered nearby.
"Ms. Nox, you don’t remember what you were doing before this attack happened?" Dumbledore asked. Valora’s brow knit together
"Attack? Sir, I don’t understand. What’s wrong with me?" she asked nervously.
"You were hit with a curse, ‘sectumsempra’. Do you know it?" he asked. Valora did her best to nod a yes. She suddenly remembered what had happened.
She and Severus had been in the Room of Requirement, dueling and practicing. She hit him with a rather nasty jinx and he hit her with some curse he had found written in a dusty old journal in the Slytherin common room. They hadn’t realized what the repercussions were. They had been stupid and foolish – being dangerous with magic. She couldn’t remember what happened after he hit her with the curse but she could hazard a guess. Severus couldn’t be caught like that, so he had probably dragged Valora into the corridor and caused a commotion to send a teacher to come running and when they found Valora, bleeding in the hallway, there would be no sign of Severus.
Cowardly, but, she couldn’t blame him. She would have done the same thing.
"Ms. Nox?" Dumbledore asked softly, his bright blue eyes boring into her topaz ones.
"Yes, sir?" she slurred with fear, her eyes wide with it.
"The curse is similar to being hit with a sword. It made several gashes along your back. You’ve lost blood but Madame Pomfrey has healed you expertly. You should be back to health in a day or two. However because this is dark magic the scars cannot be repaired." He told her gently, expecting her to freak out. Most girls had a fit when they thought they would be scarred for life, Valora however let out a sigh of relief.
"Will it affect my quidditch?" She asked seriously. Dumbledore gave a tiny smile and shook his head ‘no’. Valora smiled and snuggled her head onto the pillow, feeling oddly content.
"Well, that’s good." She said.
McGonagall seemed extremely bothered by Valora’s impassive attitude towards a serious and potentially fatal injury.
"Ms. Nox, how exactly did you receive this curse?" the older witch asked. Valora froze for a moment a lie quickly formulating in her mind.
"It’s pathetic really. I was in the Room of Requirement, practicing my spell casting. I’m falling a bit behind the boys in DADA, and I wanted to surprise- okay I really wanted to kick their butts’ next class. I read about this curse in one of my father’s old books and didn’t know what it did. Anyway it must have ricocheted and hit me in the back and I managed to crawl into the hallway. I guess that’s when I collapsed because next thing I know I’m in here."
Wow. It almost sounded believable. McGonagall seemed to think so too because she immediately went into a lecture about practicing unknown spells and using magic unsupervised. Valora was dying to ask why she had to suffer a headache along with gashes in her back. Eventually the adults left and the marauders came back in, this time with Lily. Valora repeated the fabricated tale of her stupidity, which the marauders ate up. Sometimes those boys were quite gullible, or maybe they just didn’t have any reason to suspect Valora of lying.
Severus swept into his chambers, burning up with anger at Valora and also at himself. They had been so stupid; playing with magic when they were younger and truly he never forgave himself for hurting her. He sat down on the couch in front the fire and rested his elbows on his knees, supporting his head between his hands. He had never wanted to hurt her so he practiced that spell day in and day out, perfecting it and now it was his specialty. Still, memories of that day made him shake in torment. Especially because when she had finally been released from the hospital wing she had been so kind, and forgiving. Not angry with him in the least.
Severus was scribbling down notes for Transfiguration when the door opened and Valora strode in. she handed a note to McGonagall before taking a seat beside Lupin. She tossed her dark, wavy hair over her shoulder and subtly glanced behind her to catch Severus’s eye, he let the corner of his mouth twitch- his way of smiling at her, before lowering his head and continuing his work. She hadn’t looked angry, or even upset. She looked…relieved…almost happy.
As he was leaving class, Potter and his mates brushed past him, Valora in tow. She didn’t show any sign of emotion, other than laughing at a joke James had just made but Severus felt a tiny piece of parchment press into his hand before it was given a gentle squeeze, which he briefly returned. Once he was alone in the corridor he unfolded the paper
‘After classes. The Room of Requirement. –V’
Three times Severus paced in front of the blank wall before a door finally appeared which he ran to get into. When he walked in he saw Valora sitting on a large couch in front of a fireplace, reading a book with a cup of tea next to her. She smiled at him as he walked in and quickly skipped over and threw her arms around him.
"I missed you like crazy." She said squeezing him tightly. Severus placed his hands gingerly on her waist, afraid to touch her back in case he hurt her…again. She noticed his apprehension and leaned back to look at him and frown.
"You can touch me Sev, it doesn’t hurt. "She said, moving his hands from her waist to her back before leaning in and kissing him sweetly. Severus allowed himself to be engulfed in her as they kissed, her hands roaming to his neck, pulling him closer. She brought them down until they were resting on the waistband of his pants and he slowly slide his hands under the fabric of her shirt until he felt something rough and jagged beneath his fingertips and immediately pulled back, breaking away from her so fast she almost lost her balance.
"I’m sorry." She said, grabbing the arm of the couch for support as Severus turned away from her.
"Don’t apologize. It’s all my fault. I didn’t even have the courage to stay with you. I just left you there. Alone." He said angrily, punching the stone wall. Valora recoiled a bit at his outburst. Severus pushed his dark hair away from his face and sat down on the couch, his face buried in his hands. At first she didn’t understand but then she heard a sound that sounded like a sob and he looked up at her with tears in his eyes.
"I’m so sorry, Valora" he whispered. Valora dropped next to him and held his head against her chest.
"No, Severus. It was an accident. I know that. You don’t need to be sorry, love. It’s okay. I’m okay. Look, I’m right here and I’m fine." She tried soothing him, running her fingers through his hair and rubbing his back, rocking slightly as though he were a child with a nightmare.
Severus leaned back and cupped her face in his hands, locking his stormy grey eyes with her golden ones.
"I love you so much, Valora. Can you ever forgive me?" He said, tears still staining his pale cheeks. Valora felt her own eyes prick with the rush of emotions.
"Of course I forgive you. I love you." She told him with a smile. She kissed his forehead before bringing her mouth down to his. The kiss salted with tears. It was so unlike Severus to cry- especially in front of people but for some reason the idea of causing the love of his life any kind of pain or harm was more than he could bear. She should by all rights hate him and never want to see him again and yet he she was kissing him, forgiving him as though nothing had happened. He didn’t deserve her forgiveness. He didn’t deserve her, and he knew it.
Severus stared angrily into the fire his hand clenching into a fist around his shot glass of firewhiskey which he downed a few moments later before throwing the glass into the fire. Standing he walked to his cabinets and pulled out a vial of thick blue liquid. This was the ninth time in two weeks he had resorted to using a sleeping draught, but he needed a restful, dreamless sleep. He wanted a night that wasn’t haunted by memories. He downed the contents of the vial and hoped it would be enough. He didn’t want to think about the past, or the present. He didn’t want to think about Valora and how much he still loved her, and how he still wanted her. No, he just wanted to sleep.
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