The Sugar Quill
Author: Juliane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Strange Choices in a Mad Season  Chapter: Chapter Two
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Chapter Two

Viviane invited Professor McGonagall to her rooms for a game of chess after dinner. As they sat over the board, Professor McGonagall couldnít help teasing Viviane. "Youíre awfully chipper despite all of the extra work for the Tournament. Any particular reason? A reason involving a Ė certain handsome young wizard?"

Viviane sat up. "What? Minerva, is there a rumor going around? What handsome wizard?"

Professor McGonagall laughed. "Donít panic! I havenít heard anything. But I have noticed that youíve been awfully cheerful lately Ė you almost glow, as a matter of fact, and that nice Bill Weasley has shown more interest in Hogwarts in the last few months than he has since graduation several years ago. And he does seem to like you."

Laughing, Viviane replied, "Well, thatís news to me! Billís been coming around to check out the Tournament and keep an eye on his siblings, no doubt. Weíve had some fun conversations, but I have no lustful designs on Bill Weasley." Silently and unbidden, the thought came to her mind, but I do for Severus Snape.

Utterly horrified, she jumped up, knocking over the chessboard and turning pale.

"Viviane? Are you all right? Is this the way you get out of losing a chess game?" Professor McGonagall queried, gathering up the scattered pieces.

"Oh damn, I am sorry, Minerva! I just realized that I Ė I forgot to do something. I need to see Hagrid. Iím sorry, I need to go! Iíll Ė weíll do this again soon." She ushered the astonished Professor McGonagall out of her room, threw on her cloak, buckled on her sword and set out in a light rain not towards Hagridís house but towards the Quidditch field.

Walking behind the stands, she unsheathed her sword and started to battle an imaginary enemy, all the while muttering imprecations against herself. "You idiot! Are you mad? Heís bitter, heís rude, heís all-around impossible. He barely tolerates your presence. He resents your influence with Albus. Albus! Heíd be horrifiedÖ.or infinitely amused. Itís all the result of those damned Potions lessons. Itís just a silly infatuation." Panting, she stopped hewing at the air and tried to imagine Snape objectively. Greasy hair, sallow face, sour expression, exquisite hands, those deep eyes. What would they look like, she wondered, filled with passion instead of scorn? How would it feel to have those hands laid on her shoulders not in anger, but in desire?

"You have got to stop this!" she exclaimed aloud, but started when she heard a voice query, "Professor Chance?"

Viviane turned to see Harry Potter, swathed in a cloak, looking at her, puzzled.

"Oh, Harry. Iím just getting in some practice. What are you doing out here?"

"I know Iím not supposed to be out here alone-"

"Right you are. Donít let your godfather find out, or youíre in for trouble."

"You arenít going to tell him?"

Viviane laughed and sat down on the damp grass under the stands. "Sometimes you just need to get away, donít you? From the scene of the pressure. Although you did well enough at the first task."

"Er, yeah," said Harry. "Your sword would have come in useful for that one."

Viviane smiled and then sighed. "Your broom served you well enough. Swords are double-edged, and can be easily turned against those that wield them."

Harry gave her a keen look. "Has that ever happened to you?"

"Plenty of times, especially in the beginning when I didnít have the skills I have now. I survived those incidents, and learned from them. One can learn fast when necessary Ė as youíve found out recently."

"Professor Chance, do you mind if I ask you a kind of personal question?"

"No, of course not. What is it?"

"I understand why you had to go into hiding after Voldemort destroyed everything. But, well, your family was so famous. Your father was a hero. Why didnít the Ė the government, or someone protect you, instead of letting you run off to wander by yourself?"

"Good question, Harry! Most people donít have the guts to ask me that. Well, my father was a hero. But heros arenít easy to live with, and he made a lot of enemies through hotheadedness and complete lack of tact. My mother tried her best to smooth things out after one of his political debacles, but she wasnít always successful. Most people were not eager to take in the orphan of Philippe Devereaux, especially since it was known that Voldemort would eventually come looking for me."

"What was she like?"

"Madame, my mother? Oh, she was brilliant, a great politician. Kept the government on its toes, and managed an exclusive literary salon in her spare time. I really didnít know her very well, to be honest. She was rarely home. To speak truth, after I landed on my feet and knew what I wanted to do, I enjoyed my freedom and my anonymity. A famous name is quite burden, isnít it?"

"You said it!" said Harry fervently. "But why did you decide to come to Hogwarts? Surely you knew youíd eventually be recognized. And arenít you out to kill Voldemort? To revenge yourself for the murder of your parents and destruction of your school?"

Viviane leaned backwards on her elbows and tilted her head back to gaze up at the stands. "Oh, I want revenge on Voldemort. I suppose he has to die to be stopped. But my idea of revenge has become a little more complicated. I want to see all three schools Ė Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang Ė survive and flourish. I want to be able to live in a civilized manner without worrying if and where the Dark Mark will appear next. I want to see Azkaban abolished and the Dementors disappear."

"Dumbledore doesnít like the Dementors either." Harry shivered. "I wouldnít mind seeing the end of them. But donít we need Azkaban to hold the Death Eaters?"

"That is a thorny problem, but the whole idea of Azkaban gives me the creeps. Iím going in, are you?"

"Sure." Harry got up, and both of them proceeded to walk back to the castle.

****

Viviane stood in front of her bed, which was strewn with a colorful variety of dress robes. The peacock-blue silk was nice, and the deep red one would set off her dark hair, but finally she chose a muted moss-green velvet that had gold fleur-de-lis embroidered around the hem and fitted bodice. Putting it on, she blushed a little at seeing how low the neck wasÖwell, she did have that peridot necklace that would look nice with the robe, and the green exactly reflected the color of her eyes. She pulled her hair back from her face with a simple gold band, letting it flow down her back nearly to her waist. Twisting around, she found that the robe covered most of her scars.

Then she caught sight of her reflection and with a start realized how weathered her skin was. She hadnít used cosmetic spells since coming back to Hogwarts. It took a few minutes to recall those sheíd learned years ago from Emma, but she finally remembered them correctly as she evened out her complexion and then applied eyeshadow. Using a Smoothing Spell, she tackled a few of the lines at the corners of her eyes. "My mother was right", she reflected. "All that outdoor activity does play havoc. And after all those years tending bar, Emma certainly had collected quite the magical repertoire for looking good." Viviane grinned to herself as she recalled Emmaís desperate crush on Remus and how oblivious he had been to all of the marked attention. Sighing, she hoped he was doing all right; the few notes sheíd gotten from him told her so little.

As she was finishing up, someone knocked on her door and she found Cho Chang in the midst of a group of the Ravenclaw girls huddled around her doorway. They gave a collective gasp and Cho said in an awed tone, "Professor Chance, you look gorgeous! We came by because, well, we want some advice on our hair. Yours always looks so good Ė how do you keep it up every day?"

"Come on in, girls, and Iíll be happy to help you out! I have a little secret called a Staying Spell, which acts like Muggle hairspray. My, you all look wonderful! Turn around, and let me see your robes. Marvelous Ė Cho, Cedricís jaw will hit the floor when he sees you." Cho blushed, and the rest of the girls giggled. As Viviane looked over each girl in turn, adding a few touches or redoing a hairstyle, she began to catch a little of their excitement.

"Are we all ready? Good, letís go down!" Viviane herded the girls into the Great Hall, which had just been opened. As they scattered, looking for their dates, Viviane found herself looking for Snape. Snorting impatiently at her stupidity, she caught the eye of Professor McGonagall, who raised her eyebrows archly at Viviane and glanced at the teacherís table. Viviane followed her glance and saw Bill Weasley staring at her approvingly.

As she made her way to the table, Bill pulled out the chair next to him and gestured for her to sit down.

"Bill! What are you doing here?" She smiled at him. "Howís Gringotts?"

"Same old. Not nearly as exciting as Hogwarts these days, so I thought Iíd look in and see how Ron and Ginny are doing. You look like a princess Ė if princesses can be sexy."

"Uh, I donít know about that. I donít think theyíre supposed to be." Viviane blushed in spite of herself.

They continued to chat throughout dinner, about Billís latest curse-breaking and Vivianeís classes. Right after the lights went down for the championís dance, Viviane forestalled Billís invitation to dance and slipped outside to prowl the perimeters of the garden. All seemed to be in order, and she permitted herself the luxury of wandering along the back, enjoying the lights and roses, wondering with a touch of exasperation how sheíd ended up in such a time and place as this. Finally and with reluctance, she returned to the Great Hall, where others had joined the dance. As she watched from the sidelines, she saw Karkaroff heading towards her with obvious intent. She was trying to decide between hiding from him or peppering him with questions on the dance floor when she heard a familiar voice say "Would you care to dance?" and without waiting for an answer the speaker swept her into a waltz.

"Snape? You can dance?" Viviane instantly wished sheíd faked deadly illness and stayed in her room. Keep your cool. He wonít find out, she told herself. They were nearly the same height and Viviane, to her irritation, found herself noticing his extraordinarily long eyelashes. She was just forcing herself to notice his skin and thinking, it could use an Exfoliation Charm or ten, when he answered her query.

"Shouldnít I be asking you that question? Youíre the one with half an education. Do I get any thanks for saving you from Karkaroff? Heís a terrible dancer."

Viviane rolled her eyes. "Thank you, Professor Snape, for saving me from the evil Durmstrang Headmaster. What exactly are you afraid heís going to tell me? You havenít let me get a word with him since heís arrived. Really, Severus, I can take care of myself. But you dance divinely!"

"Your surprise is most flattering. Iím sure you can take care of yourself, but slugging the evil Durmstrang Headmaster in the mouth is not an approved custom in British boarding school culture. You made the most of your lessons in Prague Ė you dance better than you prepare roots."

"Thank you, Severus," Viviane said primly, and stared over his shoulder through the rest of the waltz, acutely conscious of his arm around her waist. When the music stopped she suddenly realized almost everyone had fallen away, stunned at the sight of Snape on a dance floor. Snape realized it also and abruptly stalked off into the garden while Viviane smiled and swept the room a magnificent curtsey.

A few hours later, back in her room, Viviane sank down on the sofa, exhausted. She hadnít danced so much in years. Whatever dances Bill seemed inclined to sit out, Albus, Hagrid or Flitwick claimed from her. Snape had ignored her for the rest of the evening, except for an exceptionally nasty look when he ran into her and Bill taking a stroll in the garden. "Good," Viviane told herself fiercely. "He just hates seeing other people happy." But as she undressed and went to bed, it was her waltz with Snape that she relived in great detail, over and over again.

****

"Albus, I have a large favor to ask of you," Viviane said, as she dropped into a chair in his office.

"What is it, Viviane? You look tired Ė are you getting enough sleep?"

"Well, Albus, that is why Iím here. I need a bit of a break, and Iíve thought of a way I could combine a bit of a rest with some useful research. Would it be possible to go away for a week? I thought I might head to London, and do some undercover work among the Muggles. To see if Voldemort or Death Eaters have been up to anything recently. I just need to step away from Hogwarts for a short time Ė itís all getting too intense, and Iíve given my students enough work to keep them busy while Iím gone."

Dumbledore considered her suggestion, and then replied, "It isnít a bad idea. We still have two weeks until the second task, so if you go immediately, you would be back in plenty of time. I give you leave with one condition, though, Viviane. I want a detailed itinerary of where youíll be, because if anything happens here Iíll need to contact you at once. Are we agreed?"

"Oh Albus, thank you! You donít know what this means to me!"

Dumbledore smiled at her. "Probably not. Just come back refreshed! We need you."

****

Viviane sat at the bar in the Muggle tavern, sipping appreciatively at a Tanqueray and tonic and chatting with a group of locals. She felt someone staring at her and looked down the bar. To her complete shock Bill Weasley stood near the door, grinning at her, dressed in a leather jacket and black denim jeans.

He walked up to her and said, "Excuse me miss, but I believe weíve met before. Bill Smith." He held out his hand.

"Viviane Chance," she replied, and was amused at the shock on his face as she gave her real assumed name. "Yes, I remember you. How are you?"

"Fine," he said, and appropriated the barstool next to her. "A schoolteacher, are you?"

"No, a researcher. And you, youíre a banker, right?"

"Financial manager."

Viviane introduced him to her new group of acquaintances, and was amused to note the admiration in the eyes of the females. Muggles apparently appreciated long red hair and weird earrings. As the group continued their conversation, Bill whispered "You use your real name?"

"Why not?" replied Viviane. "I already have two. If I add any more, I get confused."

"Oh," laughed Bill, and got up to put some money in the jukebox. "Dance?" he queried, as a slow song came on.

"Sure!" said Viviane, and Bill pulled her into his arms.

"You know, Iíve always regretted that wizards have never come up with the robe equivalent of a miniskirt," he said, glancing appreciatively at Vivianeís legs.

Viviane chuckled and said "Actually, Iím really partial to my trenchcoat. Muggle clothing has its good points."

"Mm-hmm," murmured Bill, as he pulled her closer, grazing his nose against her ear.

Many, many drinks and dances later, Viviane sat at the bar, eyeing Bill as he danced with another of the girls they were sitting with. Perhaps my unfortunate crush on Severus is just frustration, she thought, as she realized how long it had been since her last fling. "FlingÖ" she murmured as she continued to watch Bill. He certainly is adorable, especially in those jeans, she said to herself. I wonder if a Weasley is capable of beingÖflung? Theyíre so earnest, the lot of them.

****

She got her answer several hours later, and afterwards she and Bill lolled naked on a bed in a Muggle hotel, snacking off a cheese and fruit plate and drinking champagne.

"I will be so hung over tomorrow. This on top of gin!" exclaimed Viviane.

"Only one remedy for that Ė drink more!" said Bill as he filled up her glass. "Muggle room service is the best."

"Thanks for the refill. Hereís a reward for your gallantry," Viviane said as she swiped her finger across the Stilton and held it out to him.

Bill slowly licked it off, raising his eyebrow at her so suggestively that Viviane hastened to ask the question that had been bothering her all evening before she got distracted again.

"How did you find me? Only Dumbledore Ė did Albus tell you where I was? Iíll jinx that man!" Viviane exclaimed.

"Actually, no. I, uh, acquired the information on my own."

Viviane sat up. "What did you do? Youíre worse than Fred and George!"

"Oh, I had a meeting with Dumbledore and he left the office for a moment. Found that heíd put your itinerary into the Pensieve for safekeeping." Bill beamed at her so like Fred Weasley after a successful prank that she started to giggle.

"What?" said Bill.

Viviane started to laugh harder, and to Billís insistent questions gasped out between gales of laughter, "I canít believeÖ.Iím supposedly a respectable schoolteacherÖ.and here I amÖ.in a Muggle hotelÖ..having a torrid flingÖ..withÖ..withÖ.."

"What?" said Bill, beginning to laugh himself.

"A high-level Gringotts employee!" Viviane shrieked, falling back on the pillows.

"Yes indeedy!" said Bill, as he pulled her back into his arms.

****

The next morning she opened her eyes to Bill softly kissing her awake. "Oh. Bill." She twined her fingers in his hair and smiled up at him. "That was lovely."

He rolled her over on top of him and asked, "What do you plan to do today, my green-eyed princess?"

"I donít exactly know, my red-haired seducer. I guess we could stay here Ė"

"Iím all for that!" exclaimed Bill.

"Or we could go on a side trip. I have a sudden mind to revisit my parentsí house. We could get some food and picnic in the gardens. I havenít been back since my initial salvage operations right after its destruction, and from what Iíve heard itís a great place to hang out on a lovely afternoon."

"Sounds interesting Ė Iíve never been to that part of France nor picnicked in a ruined castle," said Bill.

"Well, Iím going to take a shower, so Iíll see you after a bit," said Viviane as she headed for the bathroom. Turning on the water, she then sat down on the toilet and thought, What have I done? If his mother ever finds out! and then laughed at herself for being afraid of the wrath of Molly Weasley. Well, it was fun and he certainly seemed to enjoy himself. Heís got a nice body under those clothes, and he certainly knows how to use it. And his eyes Ė they reflect his wonderful sense of humor, unlike Severusí that are so mysteriously sexy-

Viviane stood up abruptly and said, out loud this time, "You have got to stop that!"

"What?" she heard Bill query from the bedroom.

"Nothing! Iíll be out in a few moments."

****

They Apparated in the outskirts of the chateau. As they approached the ruins, Bill caught his breath. "Wow. This is beyondÖ"

"-what youíve imagined? I felt the same way, even living here. Cozy it isnít," Viviane remarked. The foliage fell away and the ruins of a once magnificent castle stood before them.

"Lets go through to the back," suggested Viviane. "Thereís more worth seeing there."

They struggled through overgrowth and litter of old papers and empty wine bottles until they reached the walls of the castle. Once inside the ruins, they climbed piles of masonry and wound through hallways clogged with stones and debris. Finally Viviane paused in a large, open space to let Bill catch his breath. A bit of color caught her eye and she lifted up the object with the point of her sword. It was a tapestry, dirty and sodden from years of lying open to the elements.

"Weíre in what used to be the dining hall. I remember this." She turned the tapestry over and prodded it with her sword point. "Some egomaniacal ancestor of mine had them made to celebrate a minor battle he actually lost. An early form of propaganda." She looked at Bill. "Ready?"

"Donít you want to take that along? It could be cleaned. You could pass it on to your children, someday. It is part of your inheritance, after all."

Viviane poked thoughtfully at the object, and slowly said, "I donít see the house of Devereaux rising again. I certainly donít want to rebuild this place, and I think Iíd rather help Albus defeat Voldemort than waste my energies re-establishing a legacy I wasnít very good at upholding anyway."

"What about when Voldemort is defeated? Have you ever thought beyond the war youíre so convinced is coming?"

"Sometimes. Briefly. I think Iíd like to settle down somewhere for a while, perhaps take some time out for regrowth. I feel so rootless, merely reacting to events for the last 15 years. Iíll need some quiet to think about reconstructing my life after Voldemort." Viviane smiled and held out her hand. "Come, weíre nearly there."

They stepped out into a clearing that was once obviously a formal garden. Viviane paused, and drew a deep breath before heading down one of the old paths. Bill followed, and they found themselves in a small, walled area that contained the remains of a fountain and a luxuriant growth of black-purple iris.

"This is where I spent most of my time, even in winter," Viviane said. "It was the most beautiful place Ė these iris were planted by my great-great-grandmother, who brought them from the South." She bent down and traced a finger down one of the petals. "I havenít seen these since I left for school last time."

They spread out the blanket theyíd bought and stretched out, enjoying the sunshine and fragrance of the flowers that grew haphazardly around them, chatting and laughing as they consumed their sandwiches and fruit. Viviane found herself dozing off after the meal, but was roused by Bill asking her a question.

"Huh? What was that you asked me?"

Bill propped himself up on his elbow and looked down at her. "I was just wonderingÖwhat prompted you to come to Hogwarts? You donít fit there at all. Dumbledore has collected quite a few, er, characters as Professors, but they all have the same goals and same loyalties. You seem to be walking another, rather solitary path, so to speak."

Viviane raised an eyebrow at him. "Head boy, were you? Iím no threat to your precious Hogwarts. Iím just there to help out, mostly because I think Albus is the one person who understands what is happening and the danger we are blindly heading into. Youíre right Ė I havenít really become part of the crowd there, but I have my own goals that mesh at critical points with those of Albus. Do I pass muster?"

"Viv, I didnít mean to insult you. Iím glad youíre there, especially with so many members of my family at the school. But you spoke of settling down and Hogwarts-"

"Makes me crazy, most of the time. I couldnít live within the rules there, permanently. Albus gives me the hairy eyeball too often as it is. How on earth did you get to be a Weasley? Youíre so different-"

Bill grinned down at her. "Not really. Iím like the rest of my family, excepting my weakness for French accents and dangerous women."

Viviane laughed, but heard a bunch of people approaching, obviously struck with the same idea theyíd had. "Weíd better go," said Viviane. "I shouldnít be seen here. Iíll Apparate to Hogsmeade. It Ėyou Ė I had a wonderful time!"

"And Iíd best return to Egypt for another round of curse-breaking," said Bill. "If you ever need some, uh, moral support, especially since you have Fred and George in your class-"

"Bill Ė I want to let you know Ė I donít have time Ė I Ďm not able- "

"Donít worry, Viv. Iím not ready for a relationship, either. But it was quite a weekend." He pulled her into a tight embrace. "Please, take care. I donít know exactly what youíre up to at Hogwarts, but stay safe."

Viviane gave him a radiant smile. "Thank you, Bill, and you take care as well. Iíll be sure to keep an eye on your crazy siblings."

Bill laughed, gave her a last, sensual kiss, and sent Viviane on her way.

****

To everyone at Hogwarts, Viviane returned looking most refreshed and acting positively bubbly. She felt rejuvenated. "Cured, cured!" she thought as she almost pranced through the halls. Her students were amazed as she airily dismissed their dismal attempts at Imperious Curse detectors, and she was more than usually restless after dinner.

At a loss, she paced the terrace, longing for a confidante, but realized that Minerva was busy tutoring a bunch of students for O.W.L.ís. "Malhereuse, for some problems there are simple, yet highly satisfactory solutions," she remarked to the falcon perched on the railing.

The next morning at breakfast, Viviane was unprepared for the massive bouquet of blue-black iris that landed on her plate, courtesy of a postal barn owl. A moment later, another owl dropped a parcel containing a note. Viviane discovered it was full of bulbs from the chateaux garden, and the note read, "You spoke about regrowth Ė try starting with these. An unforgettable few days. Love, Bill." Immensely touched and without thinking, Viviane placed the note against her lips and closed her eyes. When she opened them she found Snape staring at her with a most forbidding expression on his face. Blushing furiously, she dropped the note back into the parcel, gathered it and the flowers up and fled back to her room.

Dropping down on her sofa, she set the flowers on the table and covered her face with her hands. "Not cured. Damn him. Damn you, Severus Snape," she muttered as she wondered how on earth she was going to keep her feelings a secret from those eyes that saw everything.

****

As they stood at the table, preparing potion ingredients, Viviane tried to act normally around Snape, but she couldnít contain her nervousness. Her hand brushed Snapeís as they both reached for more spider legs, which made her jump and overturn a jar of slugís grease.

"Now look what youíve done Ė oh no, itís seeping over to the herbs. Hurry, wipe that up. What is your problem, Chance? Youíve been spooked since youíve shown up tonight."

"I donít know. I guess Iím nervous about the second task-"

"That isnít for some days yet. It isnít like you to worry about something ahead of time."

"Oh thanks. Well, thereís just too much going on to be perfectly calm."

"Worried about protecting precious Potter? Iíd love to know how he managed to sneak his name into the Goblet-"

"You really think he did that? Donít you think a plot by Voldemort or his followers far more likely?"

"Hmph. Maybe," Snape snorted. "But I wouldnít put Potterís arrogance past doing anything that would get him more attention."

"Funny, I get the opposite impression. Heís sick of the attention. Well, that about does it for the ingredients." Viviane went and sat in her usual chair by the fire, happy to put more space between herself and Snape. "Severus, Iím going to ask Dumbledore if we can end these meetings. I think weíve successfully gotten over our contretemps of last year, and weíre so pressed for time these days-."

Snape turned and stared at her. "You want to stop? I thought - I mean Ė youíve been helpful." The admission seemed forced. "But of course, if you think the Headmaster would agree, I would be most happy to reclaim my time for more important things. As a matter of fact, why donít you go ask him now?"

Viviane lurched to her feet, unaccountably angry at herself, Snape and Dumbledore. "Fine, Iíll do just that. If I donít come back, youíll know youíve regained your freedom."

She made her way to Dumbledoreís office, and he smiled at her as she entered. "Shouldnít you be in Snapeís office at this time, Viviane?"

"Oh, Albus. Look, weíve been working together just fine for some time now. I think youíve made your point and we both need more time to deal with the tournament and classes."

Albus peered at her intently. "Do you think so? I must admit Iím rather disappointed Ė Severus mentioned that you have quite a talent for researching potions. But if you two feel that youíve reached agreement and you need the time, Iíll let you discontinue your collaboration."

"Thank you, Albus," Viviane said fervently, and as she headed back to her own rooms she told herself, "Well, thatís over. Over," trying to believe it.

****

"Now," said Viviane to herself, "I just have to avoid the man." It was fairly simple to do, and Viviane found herself working harder, prowling the grounds at night and hoping for something to happen to take her mind off of Snape. Her students couldnít figure out what was going on, as the normally difficult and sometimes sharp-tongued Professor Chance had been positively goofy for a few days, and then gone back to being not only sharp-tongued but sharp-tempered.

After retiring to the teachersí lounge after a disastrous fourth-year class session, Viviane collapsed on the couch to rest for an hour before taking on the fifth-years. She closed her eyes and tried not to think about Neville Longbottomís expression when she lost her temper with him. Heíd managed to blast her desk apart and sheíd more or less threatened to turn him into one as a replacement. Neville been terrified of her ever since Moodyís revelation about her past deeds, and she thought he was going to pass right out when she stood over him among the pieces of the desk.

The next thing Viviane knew, she was being shaken by the shoulder.

"Viviane, wake up! You have a class in five minutes."

She sat up, blinking and trying to think straight. "Minerva? What time is it?"

"Time for you to go to your fifth-year class. Youíve got five minutes."

"Oh, hell." Viviane got up and tried desperately to clear her brain. Finally, she turned away and putting both hands to her forehead, whispered a Banishing Spell for fatigue. As she opened the door to leave, Snapeís voice issued from a dark corner, warning, "If you keep doing that instead of getting a decent nightís sleep, youíre going to collapse at the worst possible moment."

Viviane, making a monumental effort, ignored him as she left for her class.

****

The second task was about to begin, and Viviane was worried about Harry Potter, who had not yet arrived at the judgesí table. She was just about to go in search of him when he was seen running across the lawn. As he waded into the lake, looking confused, Viviane desperately hoped he was just nervous and had an idea of what he was going to do. Suddenly he dove into the water and disappeared.

The crowd collectively held their breath until Cedric and Krum appeared with their friends in tow. Viviane grinned to herself when she recognized Hermione under Krumís arm; Rita would have a field day with that one. As she stood, trying to see signs of Fleur or Harry through the water, the crowd around her began to get restless as neither champion appeared. Finally Harry surfaced, towing both Ron and Fleurís sister. Fleur finally made it back, although wounded by grindylows. Breathing a sigh of relief that it was over, Viviane headed back to the castle instead of staying to celebrate with the champions.

****

Hogsmeade. Viviane liked Rosemertaís gin and tonics, but dreaded the responsibility of keeping an eye on hordes of Hogwarts students running wild through the village. However, she steeled herself to both the drink and the trouble as she donned her cloak and met Professor McGonagall for the walk over.

"Well, Minerva, have you heard any rumors of pranks, plots, plans or other mischief I need to foil this afternoon?"

Professor McGonagall rolled her eyes. "If I paid attention to every plot a Weasley ever hatched, Iíd have very little free time and no sanity. But I havenít heard anything unusual. Do you have any errands? Shall we Apparate from here?" she said as they exited Hogwartsí grounds and walked a few strides past the boundary.

Seconds later they appeared in Hogsmeadeís main street. "Nope, no errands. Iím just going to make sure the place is still standing after our visit, and to prevent any extracurricular use of invisibility cloaks. Potter is allowed to go to Hogsmeade this year, but I still donít trust him out of bounds."

"Ah, yes." Professor McGonagall looked disapproving. "I sometimes wonder why AlbusÖoh well, I suppose he did it for the best. Well, hereís the inn Ė shall we?"

"Actually, I think Iím going to do a preliminary sweep of the village. Iíll see you later Ė tell Rosemerta to keep the gin cold for me!"

Viviane wandered off and surveyed the mass of students in Zonkos and in the candy shop. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione walk off past the Shrieking Shack with a large black dog.

"Sirius!" whispered Viviane to herself in surprise, and she tracked them up a hill and into a cave, where she observed their meeting and Siriusí transformation back into human form. Viviane noted with alarm how thin Sirius still was, and wondered why he hadnít alerted her to his arrival in his occasional notes. She waited until the trio had left, and quietly slipped into the cave.

"Sirius Black, do you have a death wish?" He whipped around, hand on wand, but stopped when he recognized her.

"Do you? Are you crazy, sneaking up on me like that! I could have-"

"Could have Ė what? I doubt it. Sirius, you should have stayed away. Youíre still a wanted man."

They fell silent and stood, surveying each other. "You havenít yet gotten a haircut?" queried Viviane.

Sirius gave a short laugh. "You havenít changed, I see."

Viviane sat down on a rock. "What does that mean? Weíve met all of once, as I recall."

He sat down across from her, casually crossed his legs and said, "You show up and jump straight into a situation, assuming you have every right to be there. You followed Harry here, I suppose. Anything I should know?"

"I do have a right to be here. Iím in charge of getting Harry alive through this damned tournament, yet here you are leading him out of Hogsmeade."

"Heís my godson. Iím not leaving him to the tender mercies of Severus Snape and Voldemortís cronies."

Viviane sighed. "You two should really grow up-"

Sirius uncrossed his legs and leaned forward to glare at Viviane. "He came extremely close to feeding me to a Dementor. I donít forget that," he growled.

"Right." Viviane got up and without thinking ran her hands through her hair, dislodging her pins and sending it uncoiling down her back. "Oh hell," she said, trying to recoil it and reaching for her wand to redo the Staying Spell.

"Donít bother," she heard Sirius say. She turned around to find him grinning at her. "This is an informal meeting! Sit back down and Iíll try to be more civil."

Viviane retook her seat as Sirius said, "I need to thank you for being such a friend to Remus all these years. Youíve been the one true friend heís had while I was rotting in Azkaban."

Unexpected tears sprung to her eyes as she replied, "He has been a true friend to me, especially in the years right after Aquitaine was destroyed and I was trying to make my way in England as a young, untrained, uneducated witch. He probably saved my life a couple of times-"

"As you saved his. He told me of a few instances."

"The least I could do. Have you heard from him recently? I occasionally get a note, but he doesnít-."

"Say much. To me either. I suspect-"

"Heís having a hard time. Damn you, Severus." Viviane got up to pace. "I wish I knew what to do. What?" said Viviane, annoyed, as she noticed Sirius grinning at her again.

"You certainly are a restless soul, arenít you? Can you sit still for more than five minutes?"

"Not these days. I feel war coming, and soon. Iím doing what I can to delay it, but I canít do much alone, and yet I donít want to seem paranoid by raising alarms on something I canít prove. Fudge is an idiot, and the Ministry is, well, the Ministry." She moved to the entrance of the cave, gazing out. "I only hope we can give these students a few more years of normalcy, a few years of memories to sustain them when-"

"When all hell breaks loose, and their world collapses." Viviane felt Sirius move behind her, to gaze out over her shoulder. "This isnít what I wanted for Harry. I thought for years that Voldemort was defeated. It was part of what kept me sane in Azkaban Ė that Harry would at least know the life his parents, myself and Remus were denied. But then I saw Peter in that photograph and I knew. I knew-" Sirius turned away, his hands over his face.

"Oh Sirius. Iím sorry. I didnít mean to bring back bad memories-" Viviane stopped in embarrassment.

Sirius turned back to face her, his expression so forbidding that Viviane backed up a step. "Voldemort will pay. For Jamesí death, for Lilyís death, for the twelve years I lost in Azkaban. Iím glad to find someone else who understands what the return of Voldemort means, and isnít just standing around waiting for it to happen." He stepped up to her and extended his hand. "I donít think youíre paranoid. You have a partner, if you want one. To give Harry and his friends those years you talked about, and to prevent their sustaining the losses that we have. Will you accept?"

"Accept what? So far youíve just made my life more difficult by showing up and tempting Harry, Ron and Hermione to wander off out of bounds. Go someplace far away and let me do my job, which does not include helping along your revenge fantasies. Iím pledged to protect all of the students at Hogwarts, which does include Harry and his friends."

Sirius grabbed her arm and shook her, his face livid with anger. "Me- using you? For all I know youíre using Harry to get at Voldemort for your own Ďrevenge fantasies.í You say youíll do your job. Youíd better, because if anything happens to Harry under your watch I will come around, and Defense skills or not, youíll regret the day you came to Hogwarts."

Viviane tore herself away and pointed her wand at him. "Grab me again and youíll lose that arm. No, donít even bother reaching for your wand Ė Iím leaving. As for Harry and his friends, Iíll hold up my end of the deal and theyíll come out of this all right. But donít let me catch you around Hogwarts. With this Tournament going on, I may not look twice before I attack an intruder." She swept out of his cave, feeling his glare burning through her back as she attempted to redo her hair on her way back down the mountain.

//
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