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Another One Goes By by Elphaba and Boyfriends
Chapter 14 : Dark Was the Night
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3

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The weather for Gryffindor's match against Ravenclaw was the complete opposite of November's match versus Hufflepuff. The day dawned cool and clear and though the ground was still frozen, Clio smelled spring approaching on the air when she took Nox out for her morning walk.

The moon was several days past its full phase, so when she walked out to the quidditch stands this time, Remus was at her side. Her red and yellow hat was pulled down over her ears, and her lion-paw hippogriff-fur mittens covered her hands. She left the paw of her left mitten unfastened so that they could hold hands. The sleeves of their robes  hung low enough to conceal their entwined fingers, so that only the few people who knew to look could guess that they were together.

They settled just behind Professor McGonagall, who once again attempted to keep a reign on Lee Jordan's commentary. Today she harangued him for advertising Potter's magnificent new broom. Professors Flitwick, Vector and Sinistra (all decked out in Ravenclaw blue and bronze) sat together to their left.

Hagrid sat on Clio's right, the wooden bench sinking under his weight so that whenever he clapped his hands or stomped his feet, Clio found herself falling into his armpit. They all stood when the Gryffindor team filed onto the field. Remus dropped her hand, and when they sat down again he slid his arm inside her cloak and around her waist to pull her free of Hagrid's gravitational force. Charity, sitting on Hagrid's other side, passed around her flask, flashing Clio a subtle wink while Hagrid was distracted. Clio had filled her flask with mead and the sweet wine contrasted agreeably with the firewhiskey's burn.

Despite the flasks and camaraderie, the air around the staff crackled with tension. There'd been no more trouble from the dementors, but their eyes continually scanned the sky. Neither Clio nor Remus paid much attention to the Chasers, focusing instead on the two seekers. The strategy of tiny Ravenclaw seeker Cho Chang was apparently to block Potter from catching the snitch, rather than racing after it herself. They were soon locked in a duel of flight ability.

"It'd be interesting to see them on equal brooms," Aurora remarked.

"Harry's being too polite, I think," Clio said, as he swerved to avoid a collision, simultaneously passing on an opportunity to catch the snitch. They all heard Oliver Wood shout at him from the goal. Meanwhile, the trio of Ravenclaw professors applauded.

"He doesn't want to risk knocking her off her broom," Remus said.

"He's nicer than I am," Clio said with a grin.

"I think we're witnessing the Cho Chang Effect," Charity said. "Cedric Diggory fell victim to it during the Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw match that you both missed."

They all laughed. "Another quidditch seeker falls victim to the Cho Chang Effect," Clio said, taking another swig from her flask.

A collective gasp went up from the Ravenclaw contingent as Potter faked a dive for the snitch, fooling Chang into following him. He pulled out of the dive at the last second, showing off his broom's superior speed and maneuverability.

"Or maybe not!" Hagrid cheered, beaming.

"That hardly seems fair!" Septima squealed, while the Gryffindors all whooped and clapped, Clio and Hagrid cheering with them.

"The Wronski Feint is perfectly legal!" McGonagall shouted back at her.

"Aren't we at least supposed to pretend to remain neutral?" Remus asked mildly.

"They started it," Clio shrugged. "At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it."

"You know, for someone who came here not even knowing the rules, you've become fairly rabid," said Charity.

"You all must be rubbing off on me. Soon I'll be drinking tea instead of coffee.'"

"You've already started drinking tea," Charity said, winking at her again while Remus intensely watched the sky. Clio gave her the stink eye.

A sudden commotion on the field interrupted their exchange.

"Dementors!" someone yelled from higher up in the stands. A few others repeated the call. The staff rose as a unit, drawing wands and scanning the sky. It was bright and clear, not a dementor in sight.

"Down there!" Charity said, pointing to where two tall figures in flapping black cloaks tottered across the field. Several students screamed.

"There's something odd about those dementors," Clio murmured. They didn't look spectral, and ambled clumsily along the ground rather than gliding through the air. She also didn't feel any of the usual chill that accompanied their presence, although maybe that was because Remus felt so warm.

"Those aren't dementors," Flitwick said.

"Clio, look!" Remus shouted happily, grabbing her arm and pointing up at the sky as a silvery stag burst from Harry's wand. It charged straight down to the figures in black, brandishing its antlers. Both turned to flee the assailing Patronus, but their legs tangled with their cloaks and they fell to the ground. Clio laughed out loud when she saw several pairs of sneaker-soled feet sticking out from the robes and splayed out on the grass. Remus caught her entirely by surprise with a spontaneous hug, lifting her off her feet.

"What on earth is going on!" Professor McGonagall shouted, already out of her seat and running down to the field. High above, Potter had caught the snitch, and was instantly set upon by the rest of the Gryffindor team. The entire house stormed the field behind McGonagall. Exhilarated, the staff ran with them. Clio almost lost Remus in the crush of bodies, until she felt his arm link with hers, reeling her in close.

"I want to go congratulate Harry!" he yelled, so that she could hear him over the crowd.

"Go, go! I'm going to check out the 'dementors.' I'll catch up with you," she yelled back. There were at least four students tangled up in a mass of black robes on the ground. She recognized Malfoy right away by his shock of white-blonde hair. Incensed, Professor McGonagall had immobilized them all with the Leg-Locker Curse. She towered over them now, hands on hips, vein in her forehead throbbing and looking like she might explode.

Clio found she could not stop laughing. She pulled her camera from a pocket in her cloak and began snapping pictures of the Slytherins trying and failing to disentangle themselves, McGonagall looming overhead. She captured the terrified looks on their faces when Professor Dumbledore strode up.

She was still laughing, wiping tears from her face, when Remus found her again a few minutes later. He looked a little different, she thought, younger, more alive. Perhaps he was standing up a little straighter, lifting his head a little higher and holding his shoulders a little squarer.

"Did you get pictures?" he asked.

"Of them," she said, gesturing to the disgraced Slytherins as Dumbledore marched them off to his office. "I'm sorry, I didn't get a picture of the Patronus."

"That's all right," he said, his eyes flicking from hers to her mouth and back again.

"It was a buck, wasn't it?" she asked, already beginning to very slowly, methodically undress him in her mind.

"A buck? Yes, a stag." he said, gaze fixed firmly on her mouth.

"What's the difference?" she asked, while imagining a trail of kisses down his bare chest.

"You know, I'm not sure," he answered, licking his lips.

"So, the match is over already, and here I cleared my entire day for it," she said, with a sly, crooked smile.

"Yes, I did as well," he responded, glancing around at the thinning crowd before continuing. "I do have one project I could use your help with, if you're willing." His eyes shone with an intensity that set her on fire.

"Sounds intriguing," she said, starting to walk back toward the castle. "I should take Nox out, first. She won't have to go out again for at least six hours."

His face flushed, "I'll meet you in my office, then."


They nuzzled on the couch for so long that Nox grew bored of chewing her bone, curled up on the rug next to the fire and fell fast asleep. Mouths caressed necks, ears, shoulders and collar bones. Hands wandered, unfastening buttons to explore the skin underneath. She felt the thin scars that criss-crossed his body from all the times that he'd clawed and bit at himself in wolf-form, and a thicker seam of scar tissue low on his belly. Clio's hands slid lower and lower, and she steeled herself for him to pull back and ask her to stop. His breath caught in his chest, but he never pulled away, his mouth moving in slow circles around her heart.

"Do you want to make love to me?" she breathed.

He lifted his head to gaze at her with dilated pupils. When he didn't respond right away she continued working magic with her hands.

"Yes," he answered finally. After another long pause he added, "Should we move to the bed?"

"Yes," she answered between kisses.

She pulled him along with her as she stood up. They extinguished lights and shed clothing as they went.

"I have to warn you about about my scars," he said.

"It's okay, I know they're there," she purred.

"I just don't want you to be alarmed when you see them," he said, sitting on the edge of his bed.

"Alarmed? Haven't I shown you this?" she asked, pointing to a jagged line on her thumb. "I almost sliced the tip off while skinning a shrivel fig in potions class."

He smiled then, a little of the tension easing from his body. He finally relinquished his last stitch of clothing and leaned back, waiting for her reaction. She appraised the long limbs and lean frame that hungered for anther ten pounds of flesh. The light from the fire was barely enough to illuminate the ghostly white lines of scars marching up and down his arms and legs and across his belly.

"Honestly, it's not your scars that are making the biggest impression on me right now," she said, slipping out of her underwear. He was still smiling, but stopped her as she climbed on to the bed.

"Wait," he said, "we need protection."

"I've got that covered," she said.

"You're sure?"

"Madam Pomfrey keeps the hospital well stocked."

Fear mingled with the desire in his eyes, even as he relented and let her join him. His entire body trembled, and she knew it was not from cold as she lay next to him.

"It's been a while," he said, stroking her hair.

"For me, too," she answered, stroking his chest.

"We have different definitions of 'a while,'" he said.

"That's okay."

He stared into her eyes for a long moment, caressing her hair and cheek, then cupped her chin and tilted her mouth to his. She inched her body closer until their chests touched, laid a hand on his hip and pulled him toward her.

Their lovemaking began awkwardly, with her coaxing him on gently, needing to reassure him at every turn. After a few fumbling attempts, she pushed him gently onto his back and straddled him. He relinquished full control to her to take care of her needs, and held her tenderly as his name echoed against the walls.

Persuading him to reveal his needs to her proved more difficult.

“Does this work for you?”

“You feel wonderful … Don't worry about me … This is more than enough.”

“I want to make you feel as good as you make me feel.”

“You're not obligated.”

At last, she traded places with him and let him turn her around, baffled at his reluctance to make such an undemanding request.

“I may get … nippy … Promise you'll stop me if you feel uncomfortable.”

“I promise,” she said, willing him to give in an enjoy himself.

Eventually he did, whimpering and gently gripping her shoulder in his teeth, her breasts in his hands, as he momentarily forgot about dementors, the ungraded essays stacked neatly on his desk, Sirius Black and even his furry little problem. They collapsed together afterward, dizzy and numb, ears ringing.

"Do you want to stay here tonight?" he asked some time later, still entwined with her.

Clio smiled sleepily. "Okay."

He rose and walked shakily to the bathroom. She dozed, waking only when he returned and brushed her lips with his.

"There's a fresh toothbrush and towels for you," he said.

His bathroom was warm and dark, like the rest of his living space. It was suspiciously neat, too, as if he'd swept through and done an emergency cleaning. The only evidence that a man inhabited the space at all was the straight razor lying on a shelf just below the mirror. Clio washed up, taking the opportunity to inspect the bruise that had formed on her shoulder where he bit her. Unlike the hickies left by her hoover-like second boyfriend, it was small and discretely located.

They'd missed dinner, but while Clio took Nox outside one last time for the night, a house elf showed up in his room with a tray. They shared it by the fire (Clio sticking to the bread, cheeses and fruit while he devoured the meat) and returned to bed.

Lying close to sleep, with Remus wrapped around her, she felt completely safe.


Clio was jolted out of a deep sleep by a man's voice, roaring from somewhere above her. She sat up, finding herself in a strange bed in a strange room. Dumbledore's voice erupted again from the throat of a silver phoenix hovering just a few feet in front of her.

"Sirius Black has invaded the castle! Assemble at once!"

It wasn't until Remus, who had rolled away from her in his sleep, also sat up that she remembered where she was. Then it was just a few seconds longer before she realized that this was Dumbledore's Patronus, and they were meant to assemble by his office.

"Fuck," Remus muttered under his breath. "Clio, come on, we need to get dressed," he said, Summoning the clothes they'd left strewn on the floor to them in a jumble. She frantically threw on underwear, pants, boots and shirt; she skipped the stockings and belt, and couldn't find her bra.

They grabbed their wands and ran for the door, not taking the time to consider that someone might see them bolt out of the same room. They also didn't consider that Nox might follow them, and the dog (wide awake as soon as the phoenix appeared) dashed through the door and down the corridor before either one could catch her. Their simultaneous arrival was mostly obscured by the general commotion as everyone converged on the stairs to Dumbledore's office.

"Did the Headmaster also summon your dog?" Snape sneered, as Nox wove in and out of various pairs of legs, wriggling back and forth and wagging her tail.

"She snuck out the door behind me," Clio mumbled, then added as an afterthought, "She's got a good nose."

Nox sniffed the floor intently, now, circling around towards the stairs and looking back over her shoulder at Clio as if to check that she was following.

Dumbledore momentarily stopped assigning floors for everyone to check and watched the dog, who stood with her front paws on the stairs and wagged her tail.

"Clio, follow Nox. Severus, go with her," Dumbledore said. Snape sighed audibly and murmured something about nannying under his breath. Clio ignored him and strode off toward Nox, who shot up the staircase as soon as she started moving.

"We can switch assignments, Severus, if yours is that distasteful," Remus said, "Search the second and third floors with Charity, instead."

Charity made a displeased face behind Snape's back at the suggestion.

"Or Charity can go with Clio," Remus quickly amended.

Snape's eyes slid over Remus and up the stairs to where Clio waited on the landing above (Nox circling around her) then back to Remus.

"No, the Headmaster has given his orders, and I will follow them," he said silkily, then flowed up the stairs to where Nox had picked up the trail again.

"She's been catching people's cats and rats and toads all year," Clio said in the dog's defense, trotting to keep up with her. Snape stalked behind, scowling.

"Fantastic. She's probably leading us to the Weasleys' rat right now."

They followed her through several turns, and Clio tried to hide her disappointment when the dog's nose led them to the statue of a one-eyed, hump-backed witch. Nox circled the statue, wagged her tail and barked; clearly pleased with herself.

"Nox, are you sure?" Clio asked, glancing about the floor in hope of at least turn up a clue.

"Are you expecting her to talk back?" Snape muttered.

Clio whirled on him, eyes blazing. "Well, where would you look?"

Snape's eyebrows lifted a fraction of an inch. "I would start with the dungeons." he said. “There are many places to hide there; hidden entrances that very few know about."

"I combed through the dungeons with Filch the last time. We checked all the hidden routes," Clio's voice shook, and she turned toward the statue again. She hated showing her frustration to him, of all people. She could imagine the smirk on his face without looking.

"Ahh, you're upset that your runes have failed," he said silkily.

"They've never failed before," she insisted, scanning the doors that flanked the statue.

He stood silent for a moment, contemplating the doors, the statue, the dog and the floor; then began looking for subtle hints of a disturbance as well.

Nox whined for attention, tail thumping against the statue of the one-eyed witch.

"There's nothing here," Snape said, eyeing the statue. "Not even a rat."

Clio sighed. "Why don't we check behind these doors?"

They lit their wands and made a circuit of each room, starting from opposite ends and working their way to the middle, though it appeared obvious that they wouldn't find anything.

"Lupin was very eager to trade places with me," Snape said softly, breaking the silence.

"Why do you hate him so much?" Clio snapped back. "Is it just because he's a werewolf?"

"'Just because he's a werewolf?' That's enough for most people," he replied.

"Ignorant people," she muttered.

"Why do you trust him?" he asked icily.

"He– Dumbledore trusts him."

"Dumbledore's been mistaken before."

Her eyes flashed angrily. "Dumbledore trusts you, doesn't he? One would think you'd be a little more sympathetic." She waited for a response for several long seconds.

"You weren't in school with him. You never saw him with his friend, Sirius Black."

"Guilt by association, then? Because one of his friends turned out to be a murderer means he must be, too?"

"It means I don't trust him."

"So, what about your school friends? Have they all turned out to be upstanding citizens?"

"The ones that haven't are in Azkaban, where they belong," he spat.

"Except for the ones who claimed that they'd been imperiused or confunded."

"I've never made that claim."

"He was friends with the Potters, too. And Pettigrew. Their deaths tore him apart."

"How poignant," he sneered, silky voice dripping with sarcasm. "His friends are all dead, and the only ones left alive are him and the murderer. That doesn't strike you as suspicious?"

"No, it's just … sad."

"Ahh, so you're fucking him out of pity, then," he said. "A philanthropy project, is he?"

Clio's eyes, having been widened in the dim light, now constricted into fiery lines. Before her wand even had a chance to heat up, her right hand flew forward and slapped him hard across the face. He saw it coming, but didn't so much as flinch. He stared at her afterward, eyes like coal in the dark.

For a moment, Clio was sure that he was about to train his wand on her. They'd been dancing around each other all year; perhaps it was inevitable that they come to blows. Time slowed, and a frosty calm settled over her. If only she could slap him every time she was angry; she wouldn't have to fight to control her wand so much. She didn't take her eyes off of his, refusing him the satisfaction of backing her down.

Then he lifted one of his own hands to the red print that remained on his pale cheek and wordlessly wiped it away.

Thery both heard the voices out in the corridor. This classroom was obviously empty, so Clio walked back towards the door. She turned to glare at him again just before opening it.

"You're an asshole," she hissed, letting the door slam in Snape's face as she exited to the hallway, which Charity and Remus were inspecting per their assignment. He slithered out a second later, face an unreadable mask.

"Find anything?" Charity asked. Remus was contemplating the statue of the one-eyed witch, which Nox had refused to leave even after they'd entered the classrooms. Her tail thumped rhythmically against the base while Remus frowned at it, brow furrowed.

"No," Clio answered, moving to stand close by her friend, who eyed Snape suspiciously.

"Clio," Remus said, not looking up from the statue. "Maybe you should cast some runes around the statue, just in case."

"In case what, the statue moves?" Charity laughed.

"Just humor me," he sighed.

"I'll have to make them more specific," Clio murmured. Remus looked at her, waiting for an explanation.

She sighed. "The other runes I made were supposed to stop anyone who intended harm. They don't seem to have done any good, so maybe I just need to target Black specifically?"

"Why would that make any difference?" Snape asked coldly.

She shrugged, "I don't. Every building is unique, though. What works in one place may not work in another. The older the building, the richer its history, the more idiosyncrasies develop." She hoped that her reasning sounded more convincing than it felt coming out of her mouth.

"Try it," Remus said.

She drew the runes for Black's name on the floor around the statue, then traced a glowing circle around it with her wand. She sang the protective incantation softly as she went, repeating it as she retraced the circle. She was conscious of the others' fidgeting while they waited for her to finish, and was uable to shake the feeling that she laid these runes in vain.

"Done," she said at last. Their assignment completed, they started off down the corridor toward the stairs. Charity, Clio, and Remus walked side-by-side, Nox trotting at their heels, while Snape strode on ahead. At the stairs he looked back once more, bathing Remus with an especially hostile glare before swiftly disappearing.

"Well, this has been a fun evening," Charity said lightly, then leaned closer to Clio and added, "I bet you enjoyed searching the empty classrooms with him."

"It was a blast," Clio replied. Remus was curiously silent, eyes cast down at the floor. "Are you okay?" Clio whispered to him.

"I'm just tired," he snapped irritably, then sighed. "Sorry, I didn't mean it to come out that way."

She didn't attempt speaking to him again as they tramped down the stairs.

Dawn had crept into the sky by the time that the staff had all assembled again by Dumbledore's office. Black had once again escaped without a trace.

"I believe he's receiving inside help," Snape said in his soft, commanding voice.

"Of course he's been helped; he got the passwords from one of our own students!" Professor McGonagall barked, then began muttering expletives against Neville Longbottom under her breath.

"Can anyone recall seeing Professor Lupin this evening?" Snape asked churlishly, and a hush fell over the crowd. "Can you account for your whereabouts during the time when Black would have been breaking in?" He sneered at Remus.

Remus tensed visibly, but said nothing, face frozen in a tightlipped smile. Snape glared at him, lip curling malevolently. Clio was about to confess that she could personally vouch for his whereabouts when Dumbledore caught her with his twinkling eyes, and then shattered the uncomfortable silence.

"Now, Severus, I can assure you beyond all doubt that Professor Lupin was sleeping contentedly in his bed when my Patronus arrived to summon him. I saw him there as clearly as I see him trying to remain equanimous in the face of your baseless accusation now."

"You can see through your Patronus' eyes?" Snape asked, caught off-guard. Clio was also taken aback. She'd never heard of anyone having that ability. It also meant that Dumbledore had seen her topless.

"Why yes, I can. If you doubt me, then I would be more than happy to tell everyone here exactly what you were doing earlier, as well." A few snickers bubbled out amid the assembled staff, and Snape's face paled to a deathly white.

"That won't be necessary," he murmured.

"Good, then it's settled." Dumbledore clapped his hands together. "Since we're already up, who's hungry for breakfast? I could eat a few eggs. We can discuss our security problems over coffee in the staffroom once our bellies are full." With that, he turned and headed down the stairs.

Dumbledore apparently didn't have anything to say to her about Remus not sleeping alone, so Clio took his eye contact as a sign of tacit approval. She relaxed, exchanging laughs with Charity. Meanwhile, Remus remained tense. He turned and followed Dumbledore down the stairs without looking at her.

After a subdued breakfast, they all reconvened in the staffroom, where several people took Clio up on her offer of Turkish coffee. Remus wouldn't meet her eyes when he accepted his cup. He muttered thanks and crossed the room to sit by Flitwick before she could say anything to him in return.

As expected, school security would be reinforced.

"I've already hired a team of security trolls to patrol the Corridor outside Gryffindor tower," Dumbledore said. A few people sighed, but Dumbledore silenced them with a shake of his head. "These trolls are well-trained and relatively unobtrusive. You'll find them much preferable to dementors, I assure you."

"How unobtrusive can a 12-foot troll be?" Charity whispered to Clio out of the corner of her mouth.

Clio spied Professor Flitwick laying new charms on the doors around the castle throughout that day. She had been asked to lay protective runes with Filch again, who grumbled throughout the process that they were a waste of time. She made the new runes all specific to Black, thinking that perhaps Filch was right.

She didn't see Remus at all that day, and worried that he regretted the night they'd spent together. Refreshing the runes at least gave her something else to focus on, even if Filch's carping served as a constant reminder that her first set of runes had failed. The unexpected highlight of her day was helping Filch replace the disgraced Sir Cadogen with the fully-restored Fat Lady. Clio gasped when Filch carried the painting out from his office.

"It's like it was never damaged!" she exclaimed. "You did this all yourself?"

He nodded stiffly, his usual frown looking somewhat less pronounced.

"If you ever get bored of Hogwarts, you could get a job at any museum you like. I don't think anyone in Alexandria could do a better restoration," she said. He puffed his chest out a little at this, and from then on he hardly ever glowered at her. The Fat Lady wasn't nearly as thrilled to return to her post, eyeing the security trolls warily whenever they passed by.

Clio waved at Remus to gain his attention after dinner, but he disappeared from the table so quickly that it was almost as if he'd disapparated. She was fleetingly tempted to track him down, but also still had homework to grade, and so decided to visit Charity's room, instead. They worked mostly without talking; muggle music playing softly in the background. Charity had long since given up on shaking her down for sexual details, and Clio was in no mood to offer them up voluntarily. She tried to concentrate on the translations and put him from her mind completely.

It was long past dark when Clio returned to her own room to fetch Nox for her last walk of the night. She stopped just outside her office door to throw on her cloak, while Nox ran off down the corridor, wagging her tail. She turned, and there he was, bending down to scratch the dog behind her ears. That familiar heat wave rolled, unbidden, from her stomach to her throat.

"Hey," she said, "I was wondering if I was going to see you at all today."

"Sorry," he said, "I've had a lot on my mind."

"Oh. I was just taking Nox out," she said, stomach dropping.

"Why don't I come with you?"

"Okay," she said.

"I just need to stop at my office for my cloak."

"No problem."

They talked softly as they walked. He asked her about her runes, and she explained how they were supposed to work. She asked him if he'd seen the Fat Lady. He had, and agreed that the restoration was remarkable. Neither of them were especially fond of the trolls.

Their conversation halted outside, where the night air carried just the slightest promise of thawing earth. The moon hadn't yet risen, and the sky was an inky black cloth sewn with billions of stars. They strolled casually down toward the lake, Nox running out ahead of them, black fur melding with the shadows. They stopped at the lakeside, shoulder to shoulder. There was no wind, and the glass-like surface perfectly reflected the stars. Clio tipped her head back to gaze up at the sky.

"I want this to work," he said, cleaving the heavy silence that lay between them.

"I want this to work, too," she responded, relief flooding her so suddenly that she thought she might fall down or cry.

"I'm terrified of letting you down," he said, forehead creased with worry.

"How could you let me down?" she asked.

He laughed, "I'm sure there are many ways."

"I bet there aren't nearly as many as you think there are."

"Maybe not. Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about all day, that and … protecting Harry."

She nodded. "I was worried today that maybe I'd done something wrong."

His chin dropped. "You mean, like sleeping with a werewolf?"

She smiled. "No, like scaring off a werewolf."

"What?" he asked, head snapping up. "No, quite the opposite."

She sighed. "I'll understand if you need to be alone, sometimes."

"Will you?" he asked, brow furrowed.

She sighed again. "It would have been nice if you'd told me all this this morning."

"I'm sorry," he said. "Do you trust me?"

"Yes. Of course I do," she said, looking deep into his eyes.

"You know then, that I would never help Black break into the castle."

"Of course not. Snape was just trying to get under your skin."

"I'm not so sure that was his only goal," he said, eyes troubled. "Anyway, he obviously knows about us, that's not something he's likely to let go."

"Snape can sit on his wand and twirl, for all I care," she muttered.

He smiled. "That's an expression I've not heard before."

"Feel free to borrow it any time you like," she said, the corner of her mouth curving up.

"That reminds me," he said, taking a small jar of floo powder from his cloak. "Feel free to visit me through the floo any time. Just give me a warning before you come through."

"What, so that I don't catch you in a state of undress?" she teased, fingers lingering on his as she accepted the jar.

"That reminds me that I found some of your underthings in my room this afternoon," he responded.

"Oh yeah, can I come by to fetch them?"

"Of course," he said, then blushed as he added, "although I won't complain if you want to add to the collection."

Her smile broadened. “We should try with wands next time.”

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