Chapter Two: The Understanding of Unintimidatables
Charlie Weasley stood in the Hogwart's entrance hall looking like the favored younger son of a wizard king: barely respectable and effortlessly dashing. His increasingly long, thick red hair gleamed in a wave down his back, cresting above buttocks that looked as though they could have deflected flame. His boots, trousers, and vaguely tailored jacket were of russet-colored dragon hide, and the cotton shirt he wore boasted fine cuffs that flowed over his hands to mid-knuckle. He was even, Snape noted with grudging admiration, wearing a slightly faded embroidered waistcoat of red and gold thread that only further served to frame his strong form. I hate him, Severus thought as he pinned a tight smile on his face and entered the hall.
"Mr. Weasley," he acknowledged the younger man.
"Professor Snape! It's good to see you, sir," Charlie responded, extending his hand.
Gods help me, but he means it, thought Severus, surprised by the genuine friendliness he saw in the boy's face. He took Charlie's hand. "I take it that you have come to see Professor Potter on this most important of occasions?"
"Yes, sir. It's not every day that Ree gets to coach Gryffindor to victory over Slytherin!"
Snape opened his mouth to snap something withering, but then closed it. The Slytherin team had yet to be beaten this term.
"Just kidding, sir. I can't wait to see our new Head take her position at the High Table for the first time."
In truth, when a professor was elevated to the head of his or her House, no great ceremony was made of it. The Headmaster would make his or her announcement introducing the new head, all would be seated, and life at Hogwart's would continue as it always had. Of course, for the professor who assumed the position of an absent colleague, there was a certain level of regret and anxiety, which is why friends and family were always invited. And Charlie Weasley, Snape knew, was likely one day to be both to Harry.
An air of excitement emanated from the younger man, Snape noticed, as they spoke of polite subjects to which he paid just enough heed.
He is, of course, pleased to soon be seeing Harry again--Ree.
Thinking of her name made him want to smile, though he dared not do so. Severus found himself wondering when was the last time he'd permitted an emotion to play over his features in the frank open way of his former student, and missed something Charlie was saying.
"Forgive me, Mr. Weasley. What did you say?"
"I said," Charlie replied, flushing, "that Mum insisted I come alone tonight. She thinks it's high time that Ree and I get used to events on our own, and--"
"Charlie!" a bright, almost imperceptibly strained, voice rang through the hall. "You're here!" Harry exclaimed, rushing headlong into the man's now out-stretched arms.
Severus did not miss the redness of her eyes.
"Where else would I be?" he answered her, bracing as the slightly taller girl made contact. "I've missed you, Seek," he replied.
"Missed you too, Snitch."
"Yes, well. I shall see you both this evening," Snape said abruptly, striding from the hall before either Charlie or Harry could respond. You are an idiot, he told himself, as he made his way back to his rooms to repine in silence.
The Gryffindor-Slytherin scrimmage went better than expected, considering that each team had recently lost a player. After some tips from Harry to her team, which now included Frazier's alternate, Humbug Forrester, as Keeper, and a few words from Acting Coach Krum, the Flying instructor, to his team--Argyle Slizer having replaced Finch-Fletchley--the game had been rough but clean. Tied three to three, the Slytherin Seeker had caught the Snitch in a spectacular twisting dive, and both teams had cheered the winning one.
Charlie had been taken aback by this reaction. Ree had told him that, while the two teams remained competitive, they were not hell-bent on killing each other anymore. This could have been so because there were no longer any children of Death Eaters among the players, but, Charlie thought as he watched his girlfriend, it probably had more to do with the fact that she seemed to take an honest interest in the all the athletes. Indeed, as the day wore on, it became clear to Charlie that Ree and the other professors had done a great deal to foster goodwill amongst the Houses.
In her afternoon Defense Against the Dark Arts class, for example, Ree made a point of praising those students who were performing a repulsion spell especially well, and turned the classroom into a workshop with the more advanced students teaching the ones in need of help. And, rather than lord their prowess over the other students, the Slytherin and Ravenclaw Fifth Years whom she'd asked to lead the groups seemed genuinely interested in helping the others to do well--most of them, anyway. It was unlike any class Charlie had ever had.
"You love this place, don't you?" he asked her after her last student filed out of the sunlit classroom.
"I do. It's home," Ree responded, scooting up onto her desk to sit cross-legged.
She is home, thought Charlie. How can I ask her to change her life? But there was nothing for Charlie at Hogwarts other than Ree, and he much preferred the heat and excitement of the Carpathian mountains to the civilized disorder of "home." It had, in fact, been months since he'd seen his girlfriend. They had taken to indulging in a vigorous owling habit to remain close to one another, which left them free to immerse themselves in their respective careers.
Harry watched the conflicting emotions work Charlie's face, catching the surface thoughts of his mind with ease. She was sure now, in this quiet moment, what she had to do, even if she did not know quite how to do it.
"Do you remember what you said to me after I strained my hamstring when I was a Seventh year?" she asked him.
"Yes, well, you know what they say--'faint heart never won fair maiden'."
"And you made short work of my maidenhead, didn't you?"
"Stop it," Harry laughed, positioning Charlie to rest between her legs. "You said, 'Harry, you're a girl now. You've got to start reacting to men the way a girl should because they definitely react to you'."
"I was trying to teach you to protect yourself from the everyday evil that men do, not seduce you," Charlie replied, laying light kisses in Ree's hair.
"You stick to that story. It puts you in a special class of men."
"Men who aren't intimidated by me."
"Ree . . . ."
"It's all right, Charlie. I'm a 'special' case."
"I've always wondered if Draco did it on purpose--"
"No, he didn't."
"How do you know?"
Harry sighed and leaned into Charlie's chest a little more. She did not often dwell on that moment when, shortly after arriving on Platform Nine and Three Quarters to await her sixth train to Hogwarts, she found herself under attack by Lucius Malfoy. She had not noticed the man until he was upon her and they had disapparated to an empty and unfamiliar field, and she had not noticed much after that because then the kicks and the curses of the many hooded figures had begun to fly. She did, however, remember finding it strange to hear Draco's voice raised in that clearing just before everything in her mind went blank.
She woke up, and that was the problem. For when she had gone to sleep--been knocked into it, more like--she had most certainly been a he.
"Why do I have breasts?" Harry asked, stiffly trying to rise into a sitting position and trying to think clearly. Lucius Malfoy had just been beating her. Where did he go? she thought, feeling in the damp earth in which she'd awoken for her glasses.
Semi-hysterical laughter greeted her ears.
More laughter, great, gulping gasps of air, and the thud of a body falling near her were her only answers.
"Draco Malfoy, what the hell is wrong with you?" Harry demanded, orienting herself to face the overcome boy. At least she could pretend that everything was normal. As she shifted, and her balls did not, however, she began to feel that perhaps panic might answer. "Draco, are you . . . intact?"
"Oh, Potter--Harry--Potter . . . I'm a good deal more 'intact' than you are, mate--I mean, ma'am--oh, by the dark Gods . . . no," he spat, succumbing to tears.
Harry reached a tentative hand out to Draco, which he shrugged off. "No! Don't touch me!"
"I'm sorry, but . . . but what happened? Where's your father? Where are the others? WHERE DID MY COCK GO, DAMN YOU?"
"Right, that's right--damn me. Oh, this is just perfect, Potter--OWW!"
"Malfoy, tell me what your father did to me now, or I'll--"
"You hit pretty well for a girl," Draco said, lapsing into hysterical laughter.
"AGH!" screamed Harry, as she lunged at Draco, only to throw herself off of him in horror when, while rolling him on the ground and beating him, she felt his erection.
Draco stopped laughing. "Don't be flattered, Potter. I'm in shock."
Harry pushed the memory aside and looked at Charlie again. "Let's just say that Draco's interest in me was completely thwarted when I became a girl. I wasn't his intention to change my sex, you know. He just wanted to save my life."
"I've never understood that . . . ," Charlie said, leaving an opening for Ree to fill.
She decided not to notice that Charlie was asking about Draco's motives, and focused on what his actions had been that day. "I don't pretend to understand any of it, really. . . . Somehow, the life charm that Draco cast interfered with his father's death curse, and Mom's old protection turned my tail to sugar."
Charlie furrowed his brow.
"Muggles say that little boys are made up of 'sticks and snails and puppy dog tails' and that little girls are created from 'sugar and spice and everything nice'."
Charlie furrowed his brow and tried to raise his left eyebrow. Harry giggled.
"It doesn't really matter, anyway. Draco was right."
"Draco was right about what?"
"After he left Hogwarts--in a letter--he told me that, if I wanted to live, I could accept my life without having a reason for the Change."
"The Change matters enough to you that you almost never leave Hogwarts. How is that . . . acceptance?" asked Charlie gently. He'd never managed to get Ree to discuss this particular subject before, and as it was most likely his last opportunity to do so, he felt he might as well try again.
"I'm the Boy-Who-Lived-To-Become-The-Girl-Who-Vanquished-He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Charlie, and that makes me more than just a passing object of curiosity."
"Yeah, people definitely react to you."
They remained wrapped together and silent for a long moment.
"So, who else is on your list of Unintimidatables?"
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