“Are you all right?”
His words shook her from her busy reservoir of thoughts. Lucy looked around. It was evening, in the Slytherin Common Room. She was sitting on the couch, her normally lustrous blonde hair looking plain in a ponytail, and Severus was sitting next to her, having paused to look at her before adding another ingredient to the Common Cold Concoction brewing steadily before them.
“Yes.” She nodded, more to physically clear her head than anything, forcing a smile. “I’m fine.”
“You just seem a bit distracted.” He observed.
Thank you, Captain Obvious.
She sighed. Apparently he wouldn’t take no for an answer. “It’s just that my boyfriend is an asshole
. He goes on and on about how beautiful and perfect I am, and then I catch him snogging some random Ravenclaw girl with huge
breasts in the greenhouses on my way to Charms. I just don’t know how I can be expected to charm some guy into marrying
me if he can’t even stay faithful to me for five minutes
! Honestly, what am I going to tell my parents now
?” She exclaimed breathlessly. Judging by Severus’s expression, her voice had gotten a bit too loud, indicating that she had been ranting to her poor, helpless Potions tutor. Oops. “I-I’m sorry.”
Severus cleared his throat, returning to the potion in an attempt to conceal his smile. Finally, someone else who saw Sirius for the selfish prat he truly was. “It’s no trouble.” He replied.
“No, really, I didn’t mean to just unload my life on you.” She added with a sad, apologetic smile, feeling tears welling up at the back of her throat. Oh, no.
But her concern was too late – a couple of tears rolled down one cheek, and she was forced to hastily wipe them away, lest he see them.
“Don’t cry.” She looked up to find him studying her. “You’re right. He’s a jerk. You can do better.” He suddenly looked down at his hands, slightly embarrassed.
“Thanks.” She smiled a little wider, even through the tears. “That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever heard. No one else thinks I could do any better than Sirius Black. Especially not my family.”
“Trust me.” He said, giving the potion another stir. “You seem like a nice enough girl, Lucy. I’m sure one day you’ll find someone who will treat you better than he did.”
Lucy found she liked the way her name sounded in his voice. Still, she was forced to correct him. “Does.”
He paused in his stirring. “You haven’t broken up with him?”
She looked down. “No.” She sighed. “I mean, I don’t know if I’m going to. I’ve been trying to tie him down for a while, at least as far as spending time with me instead of his friends. It’s not like I’ve never suspected that maybe he had a girl on the side. I’ve just never actually seen it before.” She picked at her nails. “I’m sure he’ll come around if I lay down the law.”
Severus locked eyes with her. “He won’t. Besides, you shouldn’t give him the chance, anyway.”
“You just want to see him unhappy, don’t you? This isn’t even about me.” She frowned.
“Seems to me that you’ll be the one who’s unhappy, you know, since he has ‘girls on the side’.”
She almost got angry, but she was still forced to admit that he was right. She had more pressing issues as it was – she would have to put this potion together in class tomorrow, and so far he had been letting her pout while he did all the work.
“Here’s the newt tail.” She offered, picking it up and handing it to him for the next step.
He suddenly felt bad for deliberately snapping at her. “You know, a few sessions ago, I don’t think you would even have had the nerve to touch this thing.” He smiled slightly. “Nice work.”
She returned the smile, trying to drown her thoughts in the aqua hue of the potion before her.
Severus and Lucy continued to meet, though they spread their sessions out to three times a week instead of every night as Lucy’s skills improved. As the need for instruction waned in favor of mere practice, their conversations switched to more personal topics. She learned that his father beat him and his mother and hated the idea of his son doing any magic at all. He learned that her older brother and father ignored her on good days and treated her with thinly veiled disrespect on bad ones. They continued to grow closer as they exchanged tales of Sirius Black’s idiocy. Lucy found herself spending time outside the common room with him, even sitting with him for lunch, though not without pausing to say hello to Lily and Remus and shoot Sirius an angry glare beforehand. Severus noted with delight that Sirius left both of them alone as long as they were together.
They were discussing their mutual dislike of Quidditch over a batch of Snoring Solution one rainy night when Severus decided that Lucy had learned all he was allowed to teach her.
“What, tired of seeing me already?” Lucy asked, slightly afraid to hear his answer.
“No, of course not.” He laughed softly, and she visibly relaxed. “It’s just that we’ve covered the entire curriculum. You learned too fast. You don’t need a Potions tutor anymore.”
Lucy glanced at the potion, thinking. She scooted a little closer to him. “What about next year?”
“Next year?” He frowned slightly. “Lucy, I can’t personally walk you through every potion. What are you going to do years from now, when we’re all out of school and you have to make something for your child’s stomachache?”
“Maybe you can help me.” She met his eyes.
“You really expect me to be around that long?” He laughed, but his skin tingled just slightly.
“I hope so.” Suddenly her lips were on his, kissing him all the way down to the quickening beats of his heart. As if they had rehearsed this, she placed her hands on his face, tangling her fingers in the hair toward the back of his skull. He kissed her back, placing his hands on her waist and sliding them up toward the middle of her back, holding her delicately. After a few passionate moments, Lucy came up for air at last. They sat staring at one another for a moment before she spoke.
“S-sorry.” She couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “I’ve just been wanting to do that—“
“—For a while?” He finished, smiling shyly at her. “Yeah, I’ve thought about it myself.”
It was Lucy that thought far enough ahead to turn off the heat under the cauldron before their lips met again.