Chapter Five: Foolish Wand Waving
Severus woke up because he heard, quite clearly, a spell being put to an improper purpose.
Has Harry changed back? Are there . . . problems? he thought, throwing on his thick, green bathrobe and well-worn leather slippers before padding down the corridor to her room.
He stopped short of entering it, as the door was cracked. Harry was standing in front of the long mirror that Severus had felt prudent to install in her chamber--teenage girls required such amenities, it seemed--and she was pointing her wand at her head.
"Extendere!" she said, with some force. "Extendere! Extendere! Extendere! . . . Damn it, Blaise, I know that I'm saying it right!"
Is Zabini in there? No, he can't be. But what does Harry think she's about casting that spell?
"Well," came Zabini's ingratiating drawl, "Perhaps, due to your special circumstances, it's going to take a little longer to work."
"Accio sneezicus root!" Severus said softly, tapping the palm of his hand with his wand.
A yellow phial floated toward him from the direction of his lab. Suddenly pleased that he had confiscated so much of the annoying substance this early in the term, the Potions master opened Harry's door, walked smartly toward the fireplace--something else he had felt needed to be installed--and thrust the contents of the phial at the floating head of Blaise Zabini.
Professor Snape allowed his voice to raise just over the sound of Blaise's choking sneezes. "Mr. Zabini, I expect to see you in my office in twenty-minutes. Is that clear?"
Blaise's head disappeared, and Snape turned to look at Harry. The girl looked thoroughly embarrassed.
"Yes, Professor?" she asked, looking somewhat more delicate than usual in a pair of blue pajamas. They had feet.
Perhaps I should do something about the floor.
Harry shuffled her feet in apprehension, and Snape noted that she had secreted her wand.
That won't do. She's got to learn to keep her wand at hand when being threatened, thought Severus. Oh, I'm threatening her. "Harry, the spell you were attempting . . . was this some misguided attempt to . . . restore yourself?"
The girl looked confused. "I don't know what you mean."
"Did you think it might . . . never mind. Tell me what it was that you were attempting to do."
Harry flushed and looked down. "I was trying to lengthen my hair," she admitted.
"Why would you want to that? Your hair will grow on its own."
"Blaise told me that maybe people would start treating me like a girl if I looked like one."
"And are you deigning to leave the dungeon at long last?" Severus asked with an automatic sarcasm that he regretted at once when Harry looked stricken. It was not as if the brat's company had been entirely unwelcome.
The girl had not left the suite for five weeks, and had refused to see anyone except Sirius, Remus, Albus, Minerva, and himself. It was not a short list, but a troubling one, as it excluded her friends. But the other day, an owl had come from Durmstrang with a letter in it from Draco, and since then she had seemed more interested in what her friends were doing. Admittedly, it was a surprise to find that she considered Blaise to be one of that number, but then, she had shared an . . . association with Draco.
And nothing should surprise me after learning that particular fact.
"Am I in trouble? I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone."
"Of course not."
"I'm not allowed to talk to anyone?" Harry said, turning from contrite to cantankerous almost at once.
"Of course you may speak to your friends, Potter."
"Harry, why were you using the Extendus spell to lengthen your hair?"
"Because Blaise suggested it."
"Am I to understand that he suggested that particular spell?"
"Yes, Sir, but I wasn't having much luck with it."
"No doubt that is because the Extendus spell was not meant to be used on the hair."
Harry's fading blush re-bloomed over her face and down her slender throat at his words. Tears welled up in her eyes.
Do not cry! Severus willed, before quickly asserting, "I am certain that Mr. Zabini was unaware of this fact. In any case, it is late, and you should be sleeping."
"I should not worry too much about your looks if I were you. When you are ready to see them, I do not think that your friends will have difficulty distinguishing you from a boy."
Before he could stop her, Harry had favored him with a blinding smile and an impulsive hug.
"Yes, well--no more of this foolish wand waving, and take yourself to bed this instant!" Severus said, completely discomfitted.
I am going to shred that wretched boy.
Moments later, Snape found Blaise standing at attention in front of his office.
"Mr. Zabini," he acknowledged the boy in funereal tones.
"My most sincere apologies, Professor. I was just trying to amuse myself."
Snape murmured the password to his office and gestured the penitent to step inside. "Then I am very happy for you, Mr. Zabini."
"Your desire for amusement shall be most thoroughly indulged as you complete your detention by receiving extra tutelage from Professor Binns."
"For how long, Sir?" Blaise asked, his confident expression sliding into the corners of his mouth.
"Until you have memorized every salient detail of the Great Goblin Wars."
Blaise shuddered. There were few things other than boredom worse for him, he had found.
"Will that be all, Professor Snape?"
"No, Mr. Zabini, I think not."
"Ah, you'd like me to apologize to Ree."
"Who? Oh." What a ridiculous nickname, Severus thought irritably. "You will do nothing of the kind. Miss Potter has no idea that you were making fun of her. Is it your intention to continue that behavior?"
"No, Professor. I was just teasing her. I wouldn't really hurt her feelings."
"Excellent. I am certain that Mr. Malfoy would be pleased to hear that sentiment expressed from all of the students. Unfortunately, I am convinced that Miss Potter will find it very difficult when she returns to a regular class schedule."
Blaise considered his head of house for a moment. "Perhaps I could be useful in preventing such difficulties, Sir."
"See that you are, Mr. Zabini. . . . Good night."
Remus sighed and scratched Sirius' ears. He'd been taking to his dog form whenever he felt great strain. Usually, the werewolf did not mind this behavior; he had even encouraged it.
But today it would have been nice to have some two-legged back up. "Your godfather and I--"
"Remus, I'm a girl now, not blind or stupid. I know that you're um . . . a couple, and that's okay."
"Because you're gay, too?" he asked gently.
Since receiving Severus' recent letter, he and Sirius had been trying to figure out a decent way to ask the question. Finding none, they'd just come to see Ree and hoped for the best.
"You don't still like boys?"
Harry blushed. "Sure I do, but I'm not gay. 'The Change', remember? You and Sirius are the only deviants in this family now," she said, grinning.
"Do we need to talk about anything?"
"I know all about getting pregnant."
"How about not getting pregnant?"
The black dog whined a bit.
"What?" Remus asked, momentarily alarmed. "I thought that you were intact."
A strange look flickered in Harry's eyes, and she looked away.
"Ree? Are you okay?"
"I meant," she said, with some effort, "that I can't get pregnant because Professor Snape taught me how to make a potion to prevent it."
Remus sat up straight. "And do you need such a potion?"
"Do we really have to talk about this?"
"WHUFF," snuffled Sirius.
"Apparently so," Remus affirmed.
"'Member how Justin Finch-Fletchley lost 30 points from Hufflepuff after the first Hogsmeade weekend?"
"Grrr . . . ."
"Well, it's because he was . . . um . . . talking about how he and I had . . . done things--which we had not. I just kissed him once, and he wanted--never mind. I don't want to talk about it. I haven't . . . I mean, this is none of your business, damn it! No, I don't need the ruddy potion! Neville wouldn't even shag me now!"
Sirius materialized off the floor into himself to tower over Harry. "Explain."
Harry burst into tears. "It's all Blaise's fault. He told everyone that if anyone had sex with me their . . . well, they'd fall off just like mine did--which it didn't--but that's what Zabini said, and everyone believes him. He follows me everywhere and chases everyone away," she finished, crying harder.
Sirius burst out laughing.
"WHAT'S SO FUNNY?"
"Then why did ol' Sevvie teach you to make that potion if no one will touch you?"
"Oh, you're HORRIBLE," Harry yelled, running out of the room.
A door slammed seconds later.
"Nice way to put that," Remus commented.
"Damn it, Remus! I don't remember being this hormonal."
"That's because you're in sad possession of a feeble, canine brain, my love."
"Thank you very much. Why did we decide it was necessary to have this conversation with her?"
"Because, up until recently, Ree's health was in peril from the glut of Quann's Quad-Chocolate Bon Bons with which the boys were gifting her. I wonder how Severus managed to stop all that nonsense and start the new batch of it?"
"Cocks falling off is a serious business . . . ."
Remus tried and failed not to chuckle. "It might have deterred me, I admit. "Perhaps Zabini simply wanted to clear the field?"
"Possible. But Snape did teach Harry the potion. He must have had a reason."
"Nice of you to assume that he wasn't trying to humiliate her."
Sirius started to say something and then thought the better of it.
"He's taken prodigious care of our girl."
"I know, Remus."
"So I think maybe you should stick to 'Professor Snape' instead of 'ol' Sevvie' in front of Ree."
"One slip, one slip in months!" Sirius exclaimed, pouring himself a cup of tea.
"True enough, but I think it's one slip too many. Ree's awfully fond of Severus, now."
"What?" the other man exclaimed, spilling coffee over the lip of his mug and burning his hand.
Remus stood up, found a towel, and began drying off his lover's hand after taking the cup from him.
"She feels safe with him. He's familiar. And he's been treating her as if nothing has changed."
"That's all true."
Well, that's an improvement. "So I was thinking . . . ."
"Something horrible, no doubt."
Remus wrapped his arms around Sirius, who was leaning against the counter of Snape's tiny kitchen. "Let's invite Severus to Christmas dinner. I don't think he has any family to visit, and it might make Ree feel better if he was around when we open the house again."
After months of work to remove all traces of insane angry house-elf, darkly magical objects, deeply ingrained dirt, and bloody-minded portraits, Sirius' house was almost ready to be more than a secret headquarters. Albus had insisted on defraying some of the related expenses, as Sirius needed time to recover after being attacked last year, and Remus had his hands full seeing that he did. Being short on money, and too worried about his family to feel any wounded pride over the matter, Remus had simply accepted access to the Gringott's account the Headmaster had offered. The preparations had taken longer than expected, what with Harry's transformation, Order missions, and, well, Sirius issues, but it had been worth it.
Sirius hugged Remus back, hard. "So what you're saying is that it's time I grew up."
"It's past time, really."
They looked at each other in understanding.
"Agreed," said Sirius.
"And you'll be good?"
"I thought you liked me better when I solemnly swore to be up to no good?"
"Save that for later, you mutt--go apologize to Ree."
"I'll go talk to Harry," Sirius told him.
Baby steps, thought Remus. Baby steps.
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