Chapter 21 : Come To Me Sweetly
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Valora was leaning against the counters while Sirius rummaged through the cabinets until he came across what he was looking for. A bottle of firewhiskey. His parents were out with their friends so Sirius, Regulus and Valora were home alone. Regulus, Sirius's sullen younger brother was in his room, as usual. He didn't like to come out when Valora was over.
"Does your brother hate me?" She asked, as Sirius poured them both a glass.
"You're a Gryffindor and one of my best friends. Of course he hates you, but don't take it personally, he hates you less than most." He said with a grin, passing her the glass with slightly less liquid.
"Well, that's a comfort." She said dryly.
"What's wrong with you? You've been weird since...you know...'that day'." Sirius said, taking a sip of his firewhiskey. Valora swirled the contents of her glass. "The day' he was referring to was the day of their O.W.L.S. when they had embarassed that quiet Slytherin boy. Valora had been a few yards away when it happened and watched the entire thing. James was trying to show off for Lily, Remus and Peter didn't get involved, and Sirius, well he had always hated the Snape boy for reasons nobody could understand.
"I just think what you guys did that day was wrong. All of you really dissapointed me. James is lucky that Lily still speaks to him. You're lucky I still speak to you." Valora said. Sirius groaned. They'd been over this a thousand times. It had taken a week before Valora had spoken to them and when she finally had broken her silence it was only to lecture them.
"But he called Lily-"
"-I know what he called, Lily. I was there. You and I both know that he only said that because he was angry. He was embarassed and hurt and lashed out at the first person he could." Valora said, taking a sip of her firewhiskey. Why was she standing up for some guy she barely knew? She couldn't explain it but when Sirius insulted him it was like something inside her snapped. Then again the strong attacking the weak never did sit well with her...
The water boiled and Valora was just sitting down when the front door opened and the voices of four rammy teenagers filled the house. Sirius was the first to walk past the kitchen pausing only to shoot a look of disspointment at Valora who stuck out her tongue in response. He was still upset with her after yelling at him in front of Snape. Molly popped her head in only to say she was going to straighten up a room for Professor Snape. Valora gave a smile and went back to sipping her tea, a moment later the kids came in. They all stopped when they saw her, filling the small doorway. She smiled at them, pretending that she wasn't horribly disfigured at the moment.
"Tea?" She asked them. They all nodded numbly before taking a seat at the long wooden table. Valora waved her wand and four mugs were promptly filled with mint tea. She swept a stray chocolate hair our of her swollen eye and blew softly on her tea before taking a sip.
"Professor Nox, what happened to your face?" Ginny asked shyly. Valora cocked her head to the side as though confused.
"Whatever do you mean?" Valora asked innocently.
"She means: Why does it look like you got hit by a bloody truck? OW!" Ron said, after Hermione punched him in the arm and Ginny and Harry shot him scathing looks. Valora laughed at this, after all it was pretty funny.
"I was attacked by Deatheaters, but don't worry, it looks worse than it really is. Just a few bruises really. It's nowhere near as painful as the Cruciatus Curse." Valora explained calmly, like she teaching.
Hermione gaped. "You've been put under the Cruciatus curse, Professor?"
"Honestly, Hermione, I think I've been hit with every curse, jinx or hex there is. With the exception of the Killing Curse of course, though it has been fired at me a few times." All four stared at her for another moment while she smiled and sipped her tea. Finally, Ron was the one who spoke.
"Bloody hell. Who are you?"
Valora shrugged and put down her tea. "Mr. Weasley, I'm a woman, I'm a witch, and I'm Harry's godmother. Beyond that I haven't a sodding clue."
They all took a sip of their tea, only Ron gagged, which Valora wasn't surprised about.
"Would you prefer something else?" Valora asked. Ron nodded sheepishly and Valora got him regular tea with extra milk.
"So how was your last day of classes?" Valora asked, feeling oddly relaxed for some reason. Hermione shrugged.
"Almost pointless. With both you and Professor Snape out we had nobody to assign homework." She said, sounding dissapointed. Ron and Harry shot her looks of surprise.
"Snape didn't leave us homework?' Harry asked. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Honestly, do you two ever listen?" she asked, annoyed.
"Not if we can help it." Ron said with a smile which made him and Harry laugh. Valora smiled and hid her own chuckle by taking another sip of tea.
"Well maybe Professor Snape will give you homework when he gets back." Valora said. Harry and Ron shot each other confused looks before looking back to Valora.
"Wow, you really don't listen, do you?" Valora said, surprised.
"Isn't it frustrating?" Hermione said. Valora shrugged.
"Reminds me of when I was in school, except I was one of those people that never listened." She said with a nostalgic smile. Lily had been more like Hermione, gathering all the information and then relaying it back to them along with a lecture.
"What's all this about Snape?" Harry asked, sounding slightly perturbed.
"I prefer 'Professor' Snape, if you don't mind Mr. Potter." The entire table turned to see Severus standing there with Kreacher right behind him holding two or three books and a small potions case.
"If you're going to keep appearing without making any noise I think we should put a bell on you." Valora said flatly, completely forgetting the children in the room, all of whom snickered into their tea. Severus rolled his eyes and Valora smiled before nodding towards the books.
"What are those?" She asked, smiling at Kreacher who was staring intently at a spider crawling across the floor and muttering to himself.
"Books on Occlumency. I want you to read them before we start practicing." He said dryly. Valora groaned and put her tea down.
"Oh, all right." She said, standing from the table.
"How come you didn't give me anything to study when you trained me?" Harry asked Snape. Valora's back was to the children, luckily because her eyes went as wide as saucers.
"They didn't have books on the subject then." Snape lied.
"It was a year ago!" Harry persisted. Valora looked back at Harry.
"He taught you Occlumens?" She questioned with a raised brow.
"Tried to. Didn't really work." Harry admitted with a shrug. He watched Valora's face contort from it's previous pleasant mood into something along the lines of fury.
"You invaded the mind of a fifteen year old boy?" She asked in a hushed but violent whisper.
"It was on the Headmaster's-"
"SCREW THE HEADMASTER! That's grossly unethical! Not only that, you gave him nothing to study?" She wheeled back around to Harry "What did he tell you to do? Just try and fight back?"
"Pretty much." Harry said. Valora wheeled back around to Severus. She was livid. Not only had he neglected to mention this but he also could have created a bridge between their minds. Thankfully it seemed he hadn't but if he had everything could have been exposed.
"You are ridiculous and so very lucky that there are children present." She hissed in what she thought was a quiet voice.
"We don't mind, honest." Ron said smiling, but the smile was quickly wiped off his face.
"Be quiet, Weasley!" Severus and Valora barked in unison. Valora shot another look at Severus.
"We'll discuss this later." She said. Severus rolled his eyes.
"I'll be in the library." He said turning with Kreacher following at his heels. Valora smoothed imaginary wrinkles from her dark grey sweater and black leggings. She glanced back at the four teenagers who were staring at her as though she was going to explode any moment. She gave them a brief smile before walking into the parlor, trying to get a better grasp on her emotions. She couldn't argue with him like that, no matter how wrong he was. At least, she couldn't do that in fron of people, especially not Harry. She leaned her forehead against the cool glass of the window and felt her face. The swelling around her eye had gone down a bit and her face didn't feel quite so puffy, but it was still sore.
"Valora?" Harry's voice came from the doorway. She spun around and smiled.
"Harry, I'm sorry. I didn't- I shouldn't have acted like that in front of you. Severus was just acting like...such a...-"
"- git? Yeah, he does that." Harry said with a smile. Valora laughed lightly and sat down on the couch, leaning her head back. Harry closed the doors the parlor and glanced back over at her.
"Why did you do that?" He asked, suddenly serious. Valora raised an eyebrow.
"Do what? Lay down?" She asked.
"No, why did you yell at Snape?" He clarified. Valora looked at him as though the answer were obvious.
"Because if I didn't yell at him, who would have?" She said with a shrug. Harry sat on the other end of the couch.
"You don't need to defend me. This kind of thing has been happening since I can remember. Really, it's not a big deal."
"No Harry, it is a big deal. You've had to grow up fast but the fact remains you're just a young man. You already have so much responsibility on your shoulders, you don't need his crap on top of it all." She said. Harry didn't respond and she gave him a small smile. "You must really hate me. Jumping into your life, lying about things, hiding things from you. I wish I could make you trust me but I can't. Please understand that no matter what I'm not going away again, and I'm always going to be here for you."
"But why?" Harry asked, unable to fully grasp what she was saying.
"Merlin, you're thick; because I love you, Harry! I've loved since the first time I saw you in St. Mungo's, in your mother's arms. I've loved you since they told me I was going to be your godmother. I loved you even when I had to sneak to your house just to see you in the dead of night and you were already sleeping. I loved you when I left, I thought about you all the time. I recognized you on the street when you were nine years old, though I doubt you remember that."
Harry looked perplexed and frightened by her sudden burst of emotion. Then after a moment he spoke.
"I remember that day. You threatened my Aunt Petunia. She didn't go out for three months after that." He said with a small laugh. "You know by telling me all this I'm still just as confused as before, and I still don't completely trust you."
"Do you completely distrust me?" Valora asked. Harry gave a smile.
Valora grinned wide. "That's all I ask for." They sat in a pleasant silence for a moment before Valora stood. "Well, I'd best go practice Occlumens with Severus, and of course, I wasn't finished yelling at him." she said with a wink before walking out of the room, leaving the doors to the parlor open. Harry sat on the couch, slightly stunned by this sudden reveal of Professor Nox. He did remember her from the street. She'd said his name, and said that if his Aunt and Uncle ever did anything she'd make them sorry. Everytime they yelled at him after that he had hoped she would appear and take him away, but of course that never happened. No wonder she looked so familiar. It hadn't been the picture in the trophy case. They had met before.
"She's something else, isn't she?" Sirius said from the doorway. Harry turned and his godfather walked over to join him on the couch, leaning forward to give him a hug.
"She wasn't kidding about loving you Harry. Sometimes I would have to pry her away from your crib. After you were born she said she didn't want children that she would just take you instead. It was her idea to buy you a broom for your first birthday you know."
"That's really nice Sirius, but it still doesn't explain why she's been gone." Harry said defiantly. Sirius stretched his arms.
"No, it doesn't, but she's trying."
Valora stormed upstairs and slammed the door to the library. Severus didn't flinch or even look up from the book he was reading. She turned, locked the door and silenced the room before turning back to him.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" She asked with her hand on her hips. He glanced up as though he just noticed she was there and pointed to the books and potions on the table.
"I've gotten you a present." He said, returning to his book.
"Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind." She quoted Ophelia. Severus shot her a scathing look and lowered his book again.
"Your flat is clean, and it's already been sold. There isn't a thing in it that trace back to anyone." He said. Valora didn't respond, instead she took the seat across from him.
"Did you read the letters?" She asked quietly.
"I did." he answered.
"And?" She asked, annoyed with him brushing her off.
"Your handwriting is atrocious."
Valora ripped the book out of his hands and threw it across the room. It was a challenge. He glared up at her angrily, but simply reached past her and grabbed a vial of light green liquid and handed it to her.
"Drink it. Your face will be repaired almost instantly, and it's not a fair fight if you're already injured." He said, his face very dark. Valora narrowed her eyes and drank down the potion, walking across the room to see in the mirror. He was right, in seconds her face was completely back to normal except for some light pink scars, but they would eventually fade. She turned and Severus was standing, waiting for her.
She gingerly put her wand down on the table beside her and he did the same. Valora took off her rings while Severus rolled up his sleeves. They had been doing this since their sixth year. Like gladiators, they fought until one was left standing. Valora's rules still applied. The loser had to submit to the will of the other, and this fight she was determined to win. Valora untied her hair from the knot it was in and immediatley got into her usual stance when she was fighting. Her eyes narrowed, focusing on her target, crouching low to the ground, she would use his height against him. Severus watched her, knowing her movements. He was staring intently at her and her intuition flashed.
"No Leglimency." She growled. Severus sneered.
"Stop talking." He said. Valora's blood boiled and she ran at him but as he went to grab her she twisted, knocking his feet out from beneath him. He groaned for a moment then sat up.
"I forgot the twist." He admitted. She smiled.
"I noticed." She said, lunging for him again, this time he did catch her, slamming her onto her back. She struggled but couldn't sit up against the full weight of him, she turned her head and bit down hard on his hand. He immediatley pulled back and she could taste the blood in her mouth. Severus glanced down at his bleeding hand and she saw the anger flash in his eyes. It made her smile.
He threw a punch and she ducked, before hitting him in the jaw. He caught her wrists and spun her around so her own arms were locked around her like a cage. She struggled but couldn't free herself for a moment. She braced her feet against the floor and pushed back with all her weight, slamming them both into the wall, causing a few busts to fall from the shelves. Thank Merlin that had silenced the room otherwise people would have thought the house was falling down. Severus smacked his head and released her. She took the oppurtunity and slammed him back into the wall, this time pinning his arms at his sides. Valora was not a weak woman, and a man like Severus was a fair match against her. He tried to move against her and she pressed herself closer, laughing at him. His lip was bleeding where she'd hit him and she could feel a tiny slice on her cheek from a shard of broken pottery that had hit her.
"You're bleeding, darling." She mocked. He glared at her, knowing he lost. They both glanced at the clock. A minute had passed. Now it was official. Valora had won the fight. Twenty years ago that wouldn't have happened.
"Say it." She demanded. Severus mumbled and Valora smiled wider.
"Hmm? I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that." She teased. He stared daggers at her; he hated losing and she knew it.
"I, the 'Half-Blood Prince', submit my will to 'Pardus'. Happy now, you vile woman?" he asked. Valora released him giggling. She grabbed two more bottles of the light green liquid and tossed one to Severus before downing another herself. She could still taste his blood in her mouth. He watched her rake her fingers through her hair as she stared back at him.
"Stop picking on my godson. I mean it, or next time I'll do much worse than bite you."
Severus didn't respond, instead he looked around at the mess they had caused. It looked as though a bomb went off. He picked up his wand, prepared to fix everything before Valora's cool hand stilled his.
"Don't bother." She said. He put the wand back down and raised an eyebrow. She jumped up onto him and he caught her beneath her thighs. She was kissing him and running her fingers through his hair. Severus carried her over to the red divan and remembered why he didn't mind losing to Valora too much.
"Did you hear that?" Hermione asked. Ron, Ginny and Harry looked up at her, clearly not having heard anything, even though it was the third time she had asked that question. She shrugged and lowered her eyes to her book again.
"So what did Professor Nox say to you, Harry?" Ron asked. Harry shrugged. He wasn't exactly going to recite her 'I love you' speech.
"She was just saying that she understands that I don't trust her but that doesn't mean she's not going to look out for me." He said, trying to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal.
"I like her. I think she's really nice." Ginny said, flipping through her Quidditch magazine.
"and smart." Hermione added.
"Not to mention she can take a hit. I mean really, did you see her face?" Ron asked for the millionth time. Hermione flipped her page with a little more passion this time. Harry and Ginny smothered laughter. Ron's developing crush on Valora certaintly had Hermione in a right strop. Even so, all of them were right, she may be sneaky and confusing, but Harry was quickly coming to the conclusion that his godmother was pretty cool.
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