The Sugar Quill
Author: Seriana Ritani  Story: There is a Tide, Part 1: Styx  Chapter: Chapter I: 1 Through 21 September 1971
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CHAPTER I

Author's Notes: My apologies on the formatting for the previous chapter.  I'm not quite sure what caused that.  I hope this chapter turns out looking better.

 

I would also like to mention that none of you should pay me any money for this story.  Much as I would like to have some money, I would be arrested and I wouldn't like that.

 

CHAPTER I

1 through 21 September 1971

 

***

1 September 1971

 

Severus Snape was wearing black the first time he crossed the threshold of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

 

Everyone was wearing black, of course.  It was mandatory.  But Severus, eleven years old, was wearing black.  For his mother.

 

She'd been dead four months, but he could still hear her voice, if he tried -- low and quiet and sad, even when she was happy.  "You're a wizard, Severus.  You're the last of the Princes, and someday you will go to Hogwarts."

 

Now here he was, and she had not lived long enough to see it.

 

"The Entrance Hall is amazing," she'd said.  "There are huge main doors that the house-elves keep so well oiled you can open them with one finger.  There's a marble staircase that shines so clearly you can see your face in it, and when it's full of people the room rings with all the echoes, even though there are tapestries on the walls to muffle the noise."

 

All these things were there, just as she'd said.  While other frightened first years looked warily around at the unfamiliar space, he barely afforded it a glance.  He knew this place.  It had always more real to him than the dingy, miserable house at Spinner's End. 

 

Looking around at his new fellow students, he could hear her say, "It's strange at the very beginning, when you don't know which house everyone is in.  After the Sorting, it's easier.  You know where you stand then."

 

Try as he might, however, he couldn't hear her say, "This is why I left the wizarding world to marry your father."  She'd never said it, and it was too late now to ask -- not that it mattered anymore.  Whatever she'd left for, she'd helped him to come back.  And here he was at last, home.

 

He knew Dumbledore immediately.  He'd been a Head of House when Severus's mother had been a Ravenclaw, and had been old then.  Now he was headmaster, seated in the middle of the High Table and smiling as the crowd of first years hesitantly entered the Great Hall.  Severus caught his eye, but didn't smile back.  It rarely occurred to him to smile.  Instead, he studied the Headmaster's face with a sharp, perceptive glance that often startled adults, wondering what this legendary teacher made of him -- skinny, pale, Muggle-raised, defiant, eleven.

 

The Sorting Hat took a long time to decide with him.  "My, my," it said into his ear.  "Certainly interesting -- brave enough for a Gryffindor, bright enough for a Ravenclaw, dedicated enough for a Hufflepuff, ambitious enough for a Slytherin.  What am I going to do with you?"

 

Do what you want with me, Severus thought at it.  I'm not afraid of you.

 

"I can see that.  Yes, indeed.  Not one to be beaten at anything, are you?  Proud, very proud.  Proud of your power, and your self-reliance.  Anger, too -- though that's to be expected, when you've lost someone.  That anger gives you strength.  Better to let you use that -- SLYTHERIN it shall be."

 

Slytherin, he soon discovered, was all about power -- who had it, who didn't, whose bloodline trumped whose.  It was the first thing Slytherins worked out among themselves: who was who in the thorny and complicated mess that was wizarding genealogy.  As soon as the feast started, Rololphus Lestrange faced him and demanded, "Who are you?"

 

"Severus Snape," Severus shot back.  Schoolyard power games were nothing new to him, although in primary school it had been about size and money instead of bloodlines.

 

Rodolphus paused for a minute, going through his knowledge of family names.  "Muggle-born," he decided at last.

 

"That's all you know."

 

"If you want to argue bloodlines . . ."

 

"I want to be left alone.  Unless you want your precious bloodline running from your nose."

 

Rodolphus scoffed.  Severus feigned swinging a punch at the other student's face, but won the fight before he even made contact because Rodolphus flinched.  He'd discovered that to be a good strategy: force the enemy to show cowardice.  Once you showed cowardice in a neighborhood like Spinner's End, your life was over.  Slytherin house was no different.

 

There were, however, other houses in Hogwarts.

 

***

2 September 1971

 

He first met Gryffindor house in the Potions dungeon, the first time he ventured into that most intriguing workspace.  They seemed somehow brighter than the Slytherins -- perhaps because of the red-and-gold crests on their robes, or perhaps it was because they lived in the sunlit easternmost tower of the castle.  Then again, perhaps it was just the way they behaved to one another.  Slytherin interaction was all about vying for power -- who was the highest born, the most talented, the most clever.  Gryffindors didn't seem to need a hierarchy at all.  Instead, their conversation was more along the lines of, "Do you mind if I sit here?"  "Ever done any Potions before?"  "Oh, are you left-handed?  Here, let's switch chairs."   "Do you like being underground like this?  I don't."  Where the Slytherins sought to establish rank, Gryffindors looked for compatible personalities.

 

Which wasn't to say there weren't a few of them who knew how to play the games the Slytherins played.  One of them, a moderately tall, broad-shouldered boy with black eyes and hair, became a little too animated telling a story to his lanky friend and bumped into Rodolphus's desk.

 

"Hey!" Rodolphus demanded.  "Who do you think you are, shoving into people like that?"

 

The boy raised his chin in confident defiance.  "I think I'm Sirius Black."

 

That caught Rodolphus off guard.  "Black?"

 

"That's right.  You have a problem with that?" 

 

Rodolphus swung around to the best friend, unwilling to challenge the noble and most ancient house of Black.  "And you?"

 

"I'm James Potter."

 

Now Rodolphus had someone to bully.  "Not like Charles Potter?"

 

"Guilty as charged," said Potter cheerfully.  "And if you have a problem with my father I'll happily curse your feet into your ears."

 

"Will you?  I'll have you know that I am a Lestrange."

 

"I don't care if you're the Queen of Sheba.  How are you at Hexes?"

 

A fight was imminent -- not a duel, since despite the big talk on both sides it was generally understood that neither boy could produce a Hex any more than he could Apparate out of Hogwarts -- but a fistfight, at least.  It was averted by a girl slipping inside and inquiring, "Is this where Potions class is?"

 

"Yes, you found it," said a mousey-looking boy who'd already taken a seat.

 

"Oh, good."  She readjusted the bag over her shoulder, which made her lean sideways, and clutched the book she was holding closer to her chest as she combed her red hair back behind her ear.  "A door back there disappeared when my back was turned, and I'd thought I'd be wandering around in that corridor until dinner."

 

"Who are you?" Rodolphus demanded again.  He was beginning to sound like a broken record.

 

"I'm, um, Lily Evans."

 

"Related to Albert Evans?"

 

"No.  I'm not related to anybody magical -- I only knew there really was such a thing as magic last month."

 

Rodolphus exchanged a glance with another housemate, Mordred DeLombre.  Severus saw them do it, and saw her see them, as well.  It was clear she knew she'd done something wrong, although she had no way of understanding what.  He expected her to shrink tighter inside herself -- she was obviously nervous and probably shy -- but, to his surprise, the unspoken threat that rippled through the room seemed to have the opposite effect.  She stuck out her chin, and her green eyes gleamed with a sparkle the tiniest bit too bright to be light reflected from the torches.

 

"So you're Muggle-born, then?"

 

"Yes, that's right."

 

"Good afternoon!"  The booming greeting was followed through the door by a vast stomach, which was followed by Professor Slughorn, the head of Slytherin house.  "Good afternoon, good afternoon . . . let me see, you would be the Gryffindor and Slytherin first years, would you not?  Is everyone here?"

 

"The rest of the Gryffindor girls aren't here yet," she said.

 

"Yes we are!"  Four girls, breathless with laughter, came stumbling inside and into chairs. 

 

"And there's, um, that one kid," said Potter, snapping his fingers in an effort to remember the name.  "R-something . . . Raymond, Rubeus, no -- Remus!  Yeah.  He wasn't feeling so good last night, so he went to the hospital wing.  Remus Something-With-an-L."

 

"Well, we'll bring him up to speed when he's ready to rejoin the land of the living.  At any rate, welcome to Hogwarts, and welcome to Potions!  Let me just call the roll quickly, and get to know you all a bit.  Black, Bellatrix?"

 

"Present."

 

"Another beautiful Black daughter.  Though I must say you don't look a thing like your older sister.  A lot of your father in you -- a dear old comrade of mine, and you look as though you'd been dyed in the same vat.  The Black complexion . . . it's practically legendary.  And evidenced in your cousin, too -- Sirius?"

 

"Here."

 

"In Gryffindor, it seems.  Well, your fair cousins will miss you, but the Sorting Hat always has the last word.  Carpenter, Phoebe?"

 

"Here."

 

"Splendid, splendid . . . DeLombre, Mordred?  Wonderful old continental family, DeLombre, not many in England these days, but I went to school with your grandfather . . ."

 

It was the same game Lestrange was playing, Severus realized, only more jovially phrased.  Slughorn exclaimed in delight about any student connected with anyone he knew and thought well of, spending much more time reminiscing than actually taking the roll, and passed with a mutter over those who made no particular impression.

 

By the time he got to the girl, she'd figured out the game.  She had no connections to flaunt, no family name to hold before her like a shield -- but she had the sense to compensate for the handicap with sheer boldness.  When Slughorn asked after Evanses to whom she might be connected, she looked him straight in the eye and announced, "I'm Muggle-born, sir," in the same voice she would have used to announce that she was the Empress of Persia. 

 

When Slughorn got to Severus, he seemed uninterested and was moving on to the next name when suddenly he seemed to remember something and skipped back.  "Snape . . . I'm trying to remember . . . someone's youngest daughter married a Snape, oh, it must have been thirteen, fourteen years ago . . . Prince, Eileen Prince, that was the one.  Not your mother, by any chance?"

 

"My late mother," said Severus, in a defiant, sulky and slightly threatening tone, like a rattlesnake warning off a potential threat. 

 

"Well, that's a shame, indeed it is.  She was a good girl, and quite talented.  It was such a tragedy when she married that fellow and seemed to drop clean off the face of the earth.  But here you are at last, and I'm glad to welcome a Prince back to Hogwarts, even a half-Prince."

 

"Thank you, sir."  Now move along and torment somebody else, why don't you?

 

Once the ordeal of the roll was taken care of, Slughorn started into the dull and tiresome business of the first class -- rules, curriculum, grading, et cetera et cetera.  Severus tuned out.  He wasn't here to worry over paperwork and record-keeping: he wanted to make potions.  He'd already found his other classes tiresome beyond expressing.  It was all wand-waving and muttering and fuss over pronunciation, too loud, too showy, for his taste.  Potion-making seemed much more quiet and mathematical.  This was something he might actually like.

 

At long last, when the lecture on nothing was over, Slughorn put up the instructions for a simple, mild sleeping drought.  He spent far longer than Severus thought he needed explaining every step, clarifying the ingredients and explaining every technique in detail.  He said nothing that wasn't in the first chapter of the textbook.  If the other students hadn't bothered to read the material beforehand, that ought to be their loss.

 

"Any other questions?" Slughorn asked at last.

 

No, please no, Severus prayed.

 

"In that case, I leave you to it.  You have thirty minutes."

 

We would have had forty-five if you'd sped that lecture up, he grumbled inwardly as he headed for the store cupboard.  Everyone else was heading there, too, which resulted in a bit of a traffic jam. 

 

The box of yearling oak roots was on the highest shelf of the cupboard.  The redheaded girl, who'd been sitting nearest to the cupboard and was thus one of the first there, stretched up to her full height and was only tall enough for her fingers to nudge the box sideways.

 

James Potter reached over her head and pulled the box down, offering her one of the small, gnarled roots.  She took it with a smile and a bright, "Thanks."

 

"No problem."  He took one for himself, then passed the box around -- from one Gryffindor to another to another.

 

That was unacceptable.  If the Gryffindors decided on the first day that they could set themselves before the Slytherins, there would be no end of it.  Severus pushed through the mess and snatched the box as it was going from the smallest of the Gryffindor boys to the darkest of the Gryffindor girls, a one Jessie Fitzpatrick.

 

"Hey!" said Potter.

 

Severus turned a vicious glare at him as he took a root and passed them on to Rodolphus.  Potter didn't say anything else, but it was obvious that her very much wanted to.  Ignoring him, Severus returned to his seat with his materials and set about brewing his very first potion.

 

He was doing magic.  He could sense it growing in his cauldron almost from the very first step.  So much for all his father's shouting, all his scheming -- Severus was doing magic anyway.  If he let himself, he could still remember the fight between his parents when he was five, started because Severus had accidentally turned himself invisible to avoid being punished for some misdemeanor.  In all fairness, it must have come as a shock to trip over an invisible child on the floor.  But even the most generous, disinterested observer, which Severus wasn't, would have thought Tobias Snape's subsequent behavior unreasonable.  He couldn't seem to bear the realization that his wife had kept secrets from him, and that his son would someday be a being infinitely more powerful than himself.  So even though Severus was now safe from his father's anger, able to display and glory in the magic that was part of him, he still instinctively turned to the silent, secret magic of potion-making.

 

There was nothing mysterious about it, nothing vague: just clean, simple instructions, one after the other.  It took patience and precision.  Difficult, perhaps, but not impossible.

 

At least, so he thought.  He was one of the few of that opinion.  All around him, rather than working in the silence of concentration and focus that he felt the work merited, people were whispering and muttering, knocking things over, making noises of frustration.

 

Throughout the room, potions were turning every color except the gray-green shade Professor Slughorn had described.  People were muttering their confusion and comparing work, wondering what had gone wrong.  Professor Slughorn, after letting them suffer a while, began moving between tables, discussing one potion at a time and explaining what their mistakes had been.  

 

Severus really didn't see the problem.  The directions had been perfectly, even annoyingly, explicit, and his potion was sea-green and graying by the minute.  He felt a momentary twinge of regret.  His very first potion, perfect.  It was something he should have been thrilled about.  But all the emotion he could muster was dread -- he'd had absolutely no desire to be the center of attention, and there was little chance that Slughorn would leave the matter at a quiet 'Well done.'  It was somehow a bitter irony that Potions, of all subjects, should be taught by a loud, blustering, showy professor.

 

"Well bless my soul!  Do you mean to say you've brewed a perfect potion on your very first attempt?"

 

Severus looked up.  Professor Slughorn was nowhere near him.  He was near the door, where the Gryffindor girls were clustered, and was looking down into a cauldron filled with gray-green potion, then up into the astonished and pleased green-eyed face above it.

 

"Well done, very well done indeed!  That's nothing short of prodigious, that.  I see we have reason to expect very great things of you, Miss Evans.  Yes, very great things indeed."

 

"Thank you, sir," she answered, blushing pink.

 

"Full marks, and five points to Gryffindor.  Everyone, if you please, put a sample of your potion in one of the bottles in the cabinet, label it with your name, leave it on my desk, and straighten up your work stations."

 

Severus did all these things promptly and efficiently, grateful for the chance that would put his reward for his work in a note-ledger instead of before the class.  If he had talent, which it seemed he did after this exercise, it would be better to keep it quiet for the time being.  His father had taught him that, if nothing else.

 

His dying mother appeared in his memory, and hot anger flashed through his veins as though his blood was boiling.

 

He rose, slung his bag over his shoulder, and made his way quickly out of the room as the class ended -- at least, that was his intention.  This plan was hindered by two hands that landed on his shoulder blades and shoved him into the wall.

 

"So you think you can just shove Gryffindors around?"

 

He whirled, dropping his bag on the floor and drawing his near-useless new wand.  James Potter, in a high temper, had done the same.

 

"It appears I can," Severus shot back.  He pushed Potter back, harder, with all the power of his deceptively skinny arms. 

 

"Watch out, James," said Sirius Black, a cheerful but vaguely cruel smile on his face.  "Judging from the look of his nose, I'd guess he's been in plenty of fistfights.  Then again, maybe his mum just dropped him on his face when he was little."

 

"With a face like that, I'll bet she did it on purpose," James answered.  A ripple of nervous, vindictive laughter answered this remark.

 

Severus felt his offending face go hot and red with humiliation and hated.  Panic and fury cut off any part of his brain that could come up with a reasonable solution to his dilemma.  In thoughtless desperation, he tried what had always worked before: feigning a punch to make Potter flinch.

 

Potter didn't flinch.  So Severus hit him.  And Potter hit back.

 

Within moments, they were locked together in a blind, ferocious struggle to damage any part of their opponent that presented itself.  The pain of Potter's beating was terrific, but Severus was too furious to care, and too disoriented to retreat even if he'd wanted to.  People were shouting all around him, his ears were ringing, stars were exploding in front of his slitted eyes, and when he was slammed into a flat surface he pushed himself off of it to continue the fight without pausing to consider whether it was wall or floor. 

 

Through the jumble of noise came one particular cry of, "Get . . . no . . ." and felt another hand plant itself in the middle of his chest and push.  "Get off, you stupid . . . aaahh!"

 

Potter fell back, and Severus did likewise.  The redheaded Gryffindor girl stood very still between them, her hand over her face.

 

"Oh my gosh, I'm sorry," Potter gasped.  "Are you okay?"

 

"Let's just go to class," she said, and her voice was of someone a heartbeat away from losing her temper.  The Fitzpatrick girl darted forward to put an arm around her, and when she pulled her hand away everyone could see the bruise already blackening around her right eye.

 

The other girls clustered around her, and they all moved off, talking in hushed voices, she gingerly touching the injury. 

 

Potter, blushing scarlet in his embarrassment, turned a vicious glance on Severus -- as if it was somehow his fault Potter had struck the girl.  After all, she'd been facing away from him: Severus had no way of knowing who or where she was, in the thick of a fistfight.  Still, it had been regrettable.  She was going to have a rough enough time at Hogwarts, Muggle-born as she was, without being battered black-and-blue by such a loudmouthed boor.

 

Come to think of it, he had problems enough without being beaten silly by James Potter as well.

 

"Had enough?" Potter shot at him.

 

Severus glared.  "I've had enough of making a public spectacle of myself.  But if you care to continue this discussion later . . ."

 

"Count on it."

 

Severus picked his bag up, refusing to wince again as the strap hung over a new bruise upon his shoulder.  He was pleased to see that Potter had no such self-control, and hissed as he bent down to retrieve his bag.

 

The Gryffindor boys all left in a cluster.  The Slytherins left as well, without clustering or conversation.  Rodolphus Lestrange passed him with a contemptuous glare; Bellatrix Black with a superior smirk.  The only sign of sympathy he received from any of his classmates was from Kirrian Hawthorne, a brown-haired boy of about Severus's height who seemed taller because he carried himself so straight.  He smiled a very little, with the left corner of his mouth, on his way upstairs.  Severus followed last of all.

 

There was no time to lose.  Before Potter decided to make good his threat, Severus had to be ready to defend himself.

 

***

4 September 1971

 

"Are you doing that for fun, or do you have a bet with someone that you can make your eyes fall out before the end of term?"

 

Severus looked across the Slytherin table at Cassandra Zibetti, who'd paused in her breakfast to tease him.

 

"Reading is a better use of my time than talking to you," he retorted.

 

"He's got you there," said Bellatrix, chuckling. 

 

Severus turned his attention back to his book, a volume entitled 101 Basic Combat Charms.  Even something as relatively simple as this was about as clear as mud to someone who'd only been studying magic for three days, but determination and a dictionary of spell-casting terms were seeing him through.  It would have been easier in some study environment where he wasn't interrupted every five minutes, but so far he hadn't been able to find one.  The castle was labyrinthine, though -- surely he'd be able to find someplace quiet and private.

 

The dining hall certainly didn't count.  The moment Cassandra turned her attention away from him, the post owls made their entrance.  Various birds landed the length of the table as they found their intended recipients, upsetting dishes and scattering feathers everywhere.  Severus wasn't expecting any mail and wasn't disappointed when he received none, but next to him Kirrian Hawthorne smiled as a barn owl alighted on his empty plate and dropped a letter into his lap.  It was a Muggle envelope, sealed with glue instead of wax or magic, and bore a postage stamp.  The lettering on it was large and wobbly.

 

"What's this?"

 

Mordred DeLombre reached across the table and snatched the envelope.  "Are your parents retarded or something?"

 

Kirrian grabbed for it, but Mordred was too quick for him.  "It's from my little brother, stupid.  Give it back."

 

"Why should I?"

 

"Because if you don't," said Severus, not looking up from his book, "I will get annoyed, and then I will do something to you."

 

"Like what, Slimeball?"

 

"Stringoris!"

 

Mordred yelped as Severus's new spell left a sting, like an insect bite, on his hand.  He dropped the letter, which Severus snatched and shoved at Kirrian.  "Like that, for example."

 

"Thanks," said Kirrian, cutting open the envelope with his butter knife.

 

Severus scoffed.  "My actions were not motivated by a desire for your gratitude."  He stuck his wand back in his pocket and bowed over his reading again.

 

"Do you always do that?" inquired Kirrian.

 

"What?"

 

"Talk like you're being scored, and big words are worth double points."

 

Severus raised his head, blinking a little in confusion.  Why would anyone use short words when there were larger, more precise ones at one's disposal?  "This is how I talk.  If you object, stop speaking to me."

 

"Well, thanks all the same."

 

"Don't mention it.  Ever."

 

"Right."

 

The plates and serving dishes vanished, and with a nearly-unbearable noise of scraping benches the entire school left the tables to go to class.  Severus shoved the book into his bag and followed Rodolphus, who was the largest of the Slytherin first years and thus the best able to make headway in the crowd. 

 

Just as they passed the constricting doorway and emerged into the more navigable Entrance Hall, somebody shoved him from behind.  Unprepared, he went sprawling forward onto his hands and knees, and books spilled out of his unfastened bag.  Students maneuvered around the mess, stepping carefully over books and quills, but no one bent to pick anything up. 

 

Severus glared up at James Potter, who was passing him with a broad grin.  "What do you think you're doing?"

 

"Pushing Slytherins around," Potter answered.  "Have a nice trip."

 

Seething, Severus grabbed his wand, but before he could cast a spell a Hufflepuff prefect barked, "Hey, first year!  No magic in the corridors!"

 

Laughing, Potter exchanged high-fives with the Gryffindor Black and was soon lost in the crowd, leaving Severus to pick up his belongings and rush, late, to Transfiguration.

 

***

9 September 1971

 

Severus had been worried that the classroom might be locked, but to his relief the handle turned easily.  Careful not to make a sound, lest someone passing in a nearby corridor discover where he was, he slipped inside the Potions dungeon and closed the door behind him.

 

Now that classes were completed for the day, the room was empty and quiet.  The rows of rectangular tables stood silent and bare, the cupboards were closed, and Professor Slughorn had removed his papers and books from his desk.  The chatter of the torches and a distant, hypnotic dripping sound were all he could hear.

 

Perfect.

 

No one seemed to come down here after classes, preferring to study in their houses or in the library or Great Hall.  Severus had tried to do the same, but the eternal noise of whispering, rustling pages, scratching quills, and scraping chair legs proved too much for his concentration.  Here was a quiet, safe place where he could study, unworried about some new prank, jibe, or assault from Potter and Black.  Even if they thought to look for him down here, there were no prefects to chide or crowds of students to laugh. 

 

He set his bag down on the table he usually occupied during class and looked around.  He could make potions here, too, for practice.  There were no locks on the cupboards.  A set of shelves in one corner held rows of number-two-sized cauldrons -- probably projects the upper classes were working on, left here to age between periods.  There was a door behind Slughorn's desk, which proved, on further investigation, to also be unlocked.  It led to a room that might have once been an office -- there was a desk shoved into one corner, and a fireplace big enough to be connected to the Floo network -- but it seemed to be storage now.  Most of the cabinets and chests here were locked, which suggested to Severus that they contained something dangerous and interesting.  The few that he could open contained packets and bottles of what looked like more potions ingredients, but their labels were faded, battered, or missing entirely.

 

Satisfied with his explorations, Severus returned to his table and spread his work out across its entire surface, organized and accessible.  This would be his sanctuary, his own unique space to be safe and focus on what really mattered -- his schoolwork, his research, and his potions.  No one would find him, here in the sheltering darkness in the very depths of the earth.

 

Which was why it was such a shock when she showed up there.

 

***

21 September 1971

 

He entered the dungeon with his attention focused on the book in his hand, not bothering to look up as he dropped his bag on his usual table.  It took him a long second to realize that there was a rustling of fabric that was out of rhythm with his own movements.  The realization was so sudden that he jumped and dropped the book, although she'd done nothing abrupt to startle him.

 

She was at a far table, her sleeves rolled up and her red hair tied back, preparing ingredients and putting them into neat little piles next to her cauldron.  The redheaded Gryffindor girl -- her name was escaping him.  She raised her head as she heard the book hit the table.  "Hey, Severus."

 

That was all she could say?  After strolling into his sanctuary and settling in like she owned the place, she didn't have the courtesy to apologize, or to manifest even the slightest embarrassment, for politeness' sake?

 

Apparently not.  She went right back to chopping rosemary without any sign of chagrin.

 

He stared for another moment, astonished at the absolute gall of the girl.  Had Potter sent her, to spy on him?  Unlikely -- she didn't take orders from him, the way the rest of the Gryffindors did.  More likely she'd come down here to find some opportunity to offer him her pity. 

 

If she dared, he'd curse her all the way up to the ground floor.

 

But she didn't.  Instead, she lit the fire under her cauldron and started making her potion as if doing so in that dungeon was the most natural thing in the world.

 

Fine.  She was welcome to try to force him out of his refuge.  He picked up his book and pulled out parchment, quill, and ink.  He could wait her out.  It was a matter of seeing which of them cracked first, under the strain of the tense, uncomfortable silence.  It was only a matter of time.  She'd leave.

 

//
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