Chapter 11 : A Declaration of Battle
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The next day we had to go the entire day without news about Mary. Remus remained grey. He felt so guilty for leaving Mary even though we kept on telling him it wasn’t his fault. Finally, Professor McGonagall came to tell us that she had been transferred to St Mungo’s for further treatment, that she was critical but stable. All we could do was carry on and hope that she would recover.
Sirius, James and Peter seemed to be tremendously preoccupied with Remus. He was normally the most stable, level-headed of the bunch but he was taking what happened to Mary hard.
Security mean while had been ramped up both at Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.
On Tuesday evening after dinner, I arrived in the classroom for our first lesson.
“Are you alright?” Severus asked while I tried, unsuccessfully to get the giant gramophone to start playing. He tapped his wand three times and it began spinning.
“I’m alright.” I replied.
“I’m sorry about your friend.” He said surprisingly. Since the attack on Mary, there had been a lot of talk about Death Eaters and I heard Lily furiously reprimanding some first years that were calling Snape one. She had forgiven him for his attack on her but things between him and The Marauders were worse than ever. James hated Snape even more for firing the curse at Lily and Snape hated James even more for going to Hogsmeade with Lily.
“Thank you Severus.” I said sincerely.
“Shall we?” he said extending his arm.
For our first lesson, I think we did very well. Severus and I danced the waltz first, showing the first years how to stand, and hold each other. Amos and Amelia divided the first years into pairs and they practiced under our guidance. At the end of the lesson, everyone left smiling. Even Severus looked slightly happy. We had fallen into a happy rhythm and it wasn’t awkward with him any more. He was an efficient teacher, demonstrative and he explained carefully. It was so strange, the Snape I knew before, was all snarls except when he was around Lily. But now he had become more of a person. He would roll his eyes discretely when someone was particularly inept and I couldn’t help giggle.
“We’re going in the same direction.” He said after class, “May I walk with you?”
“Sure.” I said.
“Do you think…” he asked uncertainly, “Who do you think you’ll go to the dance with?”
“I actually have no idea. No one has asked yet. I don’t think people know I’m around.”
“I find that hard to believe.” He said, looking at the ground.
“What do you mean?” I needed to know whose radar I had blipped on.
“You are strikingly beautiful. Any man who forgets about you is an imbecile.” I stopped walking and looked at after him. Did I just get a compliment from Severus Snape?
Halloween celebrations were in full swing in the Common Room after the feast when Mary returned from St Mungo’s. She had lost a lot of weight and was on a continuous prescription of Calming Draughts but otherwise she seemed ok. Obviously, she remembered nothing about what happened to her.
“Mary.” Remus stood, knocking over the table he was sitting at nursing a tumbler of Firewhisky.
“Remus.” She said walking over to him slowly.
“Mary, I am so, so sorry. I shouldn’t have left you. Please will you…”
“Shut up,” she said as she reached him and pulled him into a passionate kiss. Everyone in the Common Room started clapping, Alice, Lily and I stood by so proud of our girl.
“That,” she said, breaking away from him, “Is to say thank you for a wonderful date, you know, before someone cursed me.”
Remus blushed a most flattering shade and pulled Mary out of the common room and out of sight.
“Thank Merlin that happened.” Said James. “I thought he was going to torture himself to death.”
“But we told him not to.” Said Alice, her hand cemented into Franks.
“Yeah, we know, but Remus… he’s always so responsible.” James said, rolling his eyes heavily.
“He is the best of us.” Said Sirius smiling after them. Sirius and I hadn’t really been alone together since Hogsmeade and he had walked me to Dumbledore’s office. He hadn’t spoke to me much either, in class he was always ‘very busy’ with something whenever I came near, he sat away from me at meal times and unusually, he hadn’t found me in the Common Room or anywhere else for that matter.
It was just as well, I had too much on my plate. It felt like my secrets were catching up to me but at the same time, so were my O.W.Ls and the dance lessons were taking up more time than I thought they would. On top of all of that, I was so paranoid watching everyone I had an interaction with for signs of deception. And the worst was the guilt I had been feeling about Mary.
I was a hundred miles away when a Firewhisky ended up in my hand.
“Drink it.” Said Sirius in my ear, “If I remember correctly, you quite like these.” What was I saying about having too much on my plate. I looked at the brown liquid absorbed. I didn’t know when he put his hand on my leg but when I looked at it, he cooed in my ear, “Drink the damn Firewhisky. You need to relax.”
And I drank it. And a lot more. Before long Lily, Alice and I were dancing around the common room with abandon. It felt so good to be free, even if it was artificially, for a few hours. Mary joined us after a while hinting that she had a story to tell us later. I looked around to see if I could spot Remus but instead I saw Sirius. He sat in the corner, alone, wide-eyed, his mouth slightly open, watching me dance. His eyes went from my face, all the way down to my hips and back up again. I stopped moving, I couldn’t help but watch him watch me, and he smiled is most crooked smile. He got up gracefully from the chair and walked over to me, placing his hands on my hips, lowering his face toward mine.
“You promised to teach me to dance.” He said, pushing my hips from side to side in time with the music.
“I, uh, did.”
“So teach me.”
In a moment of unashamed confidence, I put my arms over his arms and around the back of his neck and fell into step with his swaying of my hips. My entire body was on fire. I was just waiting for some gasoline and I would be consumed. Sirius gave me a smile as though he knew exactly what I was thinking. Instead of pouring gas on the fire, it seemed Sirius preferred the slow burn. We danced for what felt like hours and he never took his eyes off me, his lips just out of reach. Just before I felt as though I didn’t have the strength to hold out any longer, McGonagall came in, purse lipped and furious at the noise and shut down the party in a matter of seconds. Alice grabbed my hand and pulled me upstairs, Sirius’s eyes following me up the stairs.
The next day I woke up feeling heavy. I had been feeling so many things, suffering so heavily from my guilt about Mary I hadn’t even considered the message Voldemort had sent me. I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for myself, I knew there wasn’t time or space in my life for something so self-absorbed but I was a goddamn teenager.
Everyone was consumed with planning for the ball but Dance Lessons had gone off to date without a hitch. Amos and Amelia conducted one lesson a week and Severus and I the other. Sev and I had gotten into a great rhythm and he had loosened up considerably, dare I say, he was even fun to dance with. He hadn’t said anything else after his out of nowhere compliment but we continued to talk lightly about small things.
Of course, no one at Hogwarts would dance like we did in Beauxbatons so I was the star of the show, which I was very uncomfortable with. I didn’t really want people paying me too much attention when I was trying to watch them all covertly. Before I knew it, it was time to teach our own year to dance.
“Good evening everyone.” Amos said as though he was in charge. He wasn’t but we let him believe he was, it was easier. “Settle down, settle down.”
Sev was standing right next to me quite tense in a room full of Gryffindor’s.
“We are going to pair you up and we will teach you the Yule Ball waltz.” Said Amelia over an undoubtedly girly hum of excitement. “First, we’ll do the dance, to give you an indication about what you need to be doing. And then you can have a go and we will help along the way.”
I could feel Sirius’s eyes on me and my cheeks were flaming but I couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t remember how we had danced at Halloween. I was nervous enough already, and now, here, in the stupid skirt and leotard damn McGonagall had fished out of some long forgotten cupboard for Amelia and I to wear, I felt even worse.
Nevertheless, Amos started up the massive gramophone and I walked to the middle of the room and Severus followed me to our positions. I heard a sharp intake of collective breath. Severus took my hand gently and placed a confident hand on my waist. But then unexpectedly, he took a tiny step closer and held me more firmly than he had any of the other times we danced together. He slid his hand a little lower down my back and then looked into my face. His eyes fixed on mine and he began whirling me around the dance floor. It felt so natural to dance with him, and where there wasn’t any before, suddenly there seemed to be chemistry between Severus and I. He twirled me around, and lifted me up gently, slid me around like we’d been doing it forever. I was so shocked I couldn’t do anything but continue to follow his lead. The music stopped after what felt like a long time, but it couldn’t have been and we bowed to each other.
There was a smattering of claps, mostly from the Hufflepuff’s but when I looked up to my own house, all I could see was a sea of very angry faces, none angrier than Sirius. His fists were clinched and the darkness that was always just on the edges of his face, had seemingly shrouded him entirely. I looked at Severus who was wisely helping Amelia with some Hufflepuff pairings and I stoically went about my business of pairing couples. For the most part it was simple, James with Lily, Mary with Remus, Alice with Frank, Sirius with Marlene? MARLENE? I couldn’t believe it. He had grabbed Marlene, his hands drifting down toward her ass and started whirling her around the room. I gaped at him. I couldn’t believe it. He had been flirting with me outrageously, defended me when she attacked me, helped me when I was injured and now this. Seriously!
I looked away, beyond disappointed in him. I switched with Amelia and helped the Hufflepuff’s determinedly. I didn’t look back, not once to see what was going on behind my back but I didn’t need to. All I could hear was Marlene screaming in joy.
“Are you alright?” Sev asked as we stood by watching the Hufflepuff’s dance.
“Yeah, fine, fine.” I said to my ears convincingly.
“Yeah? Then why do you look morose?” He said, gently elbowing me in the side.
“How do you spell hypocrite? Is it H-Y or H-I?” I said smiling at him. He was making me feel better.
“No one ever said I had to be happy. I’m in Slytherin remember.” He said with a small smile on his lips. He really could be handsome.
Before soon the lesson was over, I noticed Amos and Amelia, lovingly staring into each other’s eyes by the doorway.
“Guys, you can go. I’ll finish up.” And they sped out of the room with hurried thanks.
“Did you see them?” I said to Sev, “I think they’ll go to the dance together.”
“Yeah, if Amos actually grows a pair.” He said waving his wand over the gramophone.
“Why can’t she ask him?” I asked rearranging some tables and chairs, more wanting to understand why the convention stood more than anything else.
“Because,” he said closely behind me, “it makes us feel manly. And some of us do in fact have balls.”
“Some more than others.” I said turning to face him.
“Have you been asked to the dance yet?” he said staring at me again.
“When did you learn to dance like that?” I asked instead.
“I always knew how to dance.” He said with a wicked smile.
“What are you talking about?” I asked incredulous.
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s why McGonagall assigned me Dance Lessons.”
“So you pretended not to know?” I said, I couldn’t believe this guy.
“Have you been asked yet?” He asked again.
“Why did you pretend?” I shot instead.
“Why wont you answer my question?” He asked coming closer to me.
“Why wont you answer mine?” I demanded.
“But you never answered mine.” He asked stepping back. He gave me a long look before he said, “Good night Yves.”
What! What on earth was going. Was Severus flirting with me?
I closed the classroom door behind me and started back up to the dormitory. I didn’t get far when I felt as though I wasn’t alone. I hurried along the corridor, fully aware that this part of the school was completely deserted. I heard footsteps behind me but the lanterns had gone out behind me abruptly as I passed. I couldn’t see who was following me. Screw this! I would not be hunted!
“What do you want?” I shouted into the dark. The footsteps halting. “I know you are there and I know what you want. And you can tell him my answer is and will always be, no.” The lanterns suddenly relit a deserted corridor.
I turned and carried on my way, my heart beating in my ears, slightly out of breath when I rounded the corner and walked straight into Sirius.
His face was full of darkness but I could see that he had been expecting me. I didn’t have the energy for this. He must have been waiting for me close on an hour seeing as he and Marlene had ducked out of dance lessons early saying they would ‘practice on their own’.
“Who are you talking to?” He asked, looking behind me.
“No one.” I said trying to get past him but he was blocking my way, “What do you want Black? I’m too tired for your games.”
“Are you dating Snape?” He asked accusingly.
“What the fuck does it matter? Get out of my way.” I said, attempting to push past him again but again he blocked my way. So I spun around, knowing full well that I may be walking straight into the person who was following me, but I didn’t care. My anger at Sirius was making me brave.
“Where are you going?” he said behind me, “So you are then?” he continued to follow me. I was aware that the only way to get back to the dormitory, was to go straight past the dungeons and I was bound to run into some Slytherin’s but I couldn’t go through this rubbish with Sirius.
“Yves, come here.” He said, grabbing my arm and whirled me around. But I was ready.
“Exlupso.” I yelled and Sirius was exploded into a stone wall. I watched until I saw him stir from his crumpled position on the floor. He lifted his head and there was a large amount of blood pouring a deep gash above his eye but I didn’t care. His face was completely blank when he looked at me. I wasn’t going to let him think he could get away with treating me, or anyone else, the way he had.
“Just a casual warning Sirius,” I said calmly watching him for the slightest movement, “I may be smaller than you, I may not be as loud, I may cry when I’m hurt or have a soft heart but I can guarantee that I am made of stronger stuff than you are. You want a war? You’ve got it. Watch your back.” I ended before turning on my heel and disappearing down the corridor.
Hi everyone! Sorry about the cliff hanger but the next chapter is already written and ready to go the moment this one is validated. Again, if would like to drop me a review or just say hi, please review.
Thanks for reading.
All my love- A
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