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Chapter Ten: Keeping Up Appearances

The legend of the Potter-Snape duel was taking incredible shape in the minds of the children as they gossiped over steaming mugs of mulled cider at the Three Broomsticks. The excitement of the day was growing with each retelling to Rosmerta of its events.

"Tell me more," the bar owner urged Parvati Patil, who needed no further encouragement.

Lee Jordan was just reenacting Snape's dramatic final lunge at Harry when the girl in question and the Potions master walked into the pub.

Silence fell, as did Lee--with a hard smack on the floor as Seamus found himself petrified with fear in the face of a very angry looking professor.

Severus stepped neatly over Jordan and swept to the back of the establishment, taking the last table before the door to Rosmerta's private rooms.

"Hello," Harry greeted the publican, trying to ignore various whispered questions.

In a carrying voice, the other witch said, "I've just heard from your friends how very effective your demonstration was, Miss Potter. Take these two on the house."

A rare spark of gratitude flared in Harry's breast for Rosmerta, and she took the two steaming tankards of hard cider to a sulking Severus.

"Professor?" she asked, sliding a drink toward him.

Snape glared at the girl, but accepted the cider.

They sat in uncomfortable silence for a moment.

"Um, Sir?"

"What is it, Potter?"

"I think we're supposed to be keeping up appearances here, and if you don't stop glowering like that--"

"'Glowering'? I do not 'glower'."

Harry snorted. "Sure you do. It's what you're best at."

"And what makes you think that you are in a position to know at what I am best?"

Harry was not actually sure what the professor meant by that, but she did not care for his tone. She was still feeling slightly unwell, but the anger spreading outward from the pit of her stomach gave her the strength to attack again, at least verbally.

"You're the one who started it, you unreasonable bastard."

"Language, Potter."

"Civility, Snape," she said, raising her voice more loudly than intended. Out of the corner of her eye, she just caught sight of Hermione holding back Ron before leaning toward the Potions master and hissing, "You didn't have to threaten to hex Justin for touching me. I was handling it."

"On the contrary, by your own admission, he was handling it!"

"Yes, well, it's nice that someone is."

Severus stood up and sent his chair skidding backward.

Inexplicably, Harry laughed. Chew on that idea for awhile, you jealous prat. "I'll have another, too, Professor Snape. Thanks!" she sang out brightly.

The Potions master crossed the pub with quick, long, angry strides and slammed his palm down on the bar. "Two more, Madame Rosmerta."

"There must be a poem to explain this situation," the witch teased him.

"I hate you," Snape breathed.

Rosmerta favored him with a grin. "My door is always open."

Severus leaned into the bar. "Merta, don't provoke me."

"Russ, go be good." Later, you may be as bad as you would like to be.

Harry watched the way Rosmerta's fingers caressed Severus' hands as she released two new tankards to him. Suddenly, her mirthful face took on a murderous cast.

"Ain't you a goer!" Fred Weasley said jovially, startling the young witch out of her chair.

"Calm down, Potter!" George laughed, pushing Harry back down into her seat. "What're you drinking? I'll get you another. Fred'n'I just heard about it."

"Did you indeed, Mr. Weasley."

Fred clapped the man on the back as he greeted him. "Hullo, Professor Snape. Am I in your seat? Yeah? Oi! Jordan! Grab some chairs and come over here. Snape and Ree are going to tell us all about it."

Which of the Four Great Hells is this? Severus wondered.

However, he had to admit, after about an hour or so of spinning an increasingly elaborate tale of dueling club plans with Harry's ever-more-intoxicated assistance, that it was . . . agreeable to be at the center of so much good-natured attention. His only concern was the way that Harry's eyes faded into bleakness whenever they caught his own.

When Severus finally made it back to his chambers in the early hours of the next morning, it was to find a ruffled and impatient looking Hedwig waiting for him on the coat rack by the threshold. She dropped a folded piece of parchment into his hand and flew out the still-open door.

"Dear Professor Snape,

"I have appreciated your patience and hospitality these past months, but fear to trespass on your goodwill any longer. Please find that I've had my belongings moved to the Girls' Dormitory of Gryffindor House, and that your kitchen has been restored to its original state. I'm certain that working out a schedule for future D.D.C. planning meetings will be easy enough to arrange now that we are colleagues.

"With gratitude,

"Ree Potter"

Dobby was just collecting little balls of paper from all over Harry's cold, empty room when Severus threw open the door.

Oh! Professor Snappy! I mean, Snape, Sir! Dobby is just tidying--"


The startled house elf disappeared in alarm, and Severus frantically gathered every last piece of crumpled parchment from the polished wooden floor and thick rugs of the room.

Each one was a variation on the same theme.

No. No, no, no, no, no! Severus thought as he shredded each letter in turn. "Please, Harry, please don't leave me alone like this," he said, sinking to the floor. "I'll be good. I promise."

He was shaking so hard he could not have cried, even if he had remembered how.

"I tell you, Albus, we cannot leave them alone together any longer--something will happen!" Minerva asserted emphatically, storming back and forth in the headmaster's office later that morning.

"'Something' has already happened, my dear, as we both knew it would." And I am sorry for it, my boy.

Nurse-maiding prophecies was a hateful business, Albus reflected while attempting to calm Minerva.

Sirius looked up from Harry's letter. "Well, this is excellent news, Remus. She must be feeling better if she has moved out of the dungeons."

Idiot, the other man thought, smiling at his oblivious lover and scraping his toast roughly while trying not to envision Severus Snape out alone under the full moon. If you've touched her, ol' Sevvie, I'll eat your fingers first. The werewolf was suddenly very tired. Parenting was exhausting. "Going back to bed, love," he mumbled.

"Do you want company?


Sirius frowned, but did not worry too much about it. Remus had his moods. Besides, his partner had left him a lovely looking piece of almost-unburnt toast, which he happily popped into his mouth.

It was only on Harry's first day home for the spring holiday that Sirius began to worry that something might be up with his goddaughter. Her reading material was worrisome: poetry, about love, and worse, it all seemed to be concerned with the unrequited variety of that feeling. That night after she had gone to bed, he broached the topic with Remus.

"I think Harry has a thing for Ron, Moony."

"Yes, I'm sure that's the problem."

"I hope not."

"Why? What's wrong with Ron?"

"Nothing. He's perfect for Harry--handsome, fun, loyal, and tall."

Both men laughed.

"Then why don't you hope for it?"

"Because I'd rather not have Harry murdered in her sleep by Hermione Granger."

"A point to Padfoot," Remus said, toasting the other man with an invisible tankard.


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