Moon has appeared previously in High
Spirits and Gifted and Talented
here on the Quill.
A/N: In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,
it appears that Valentine’s Day falls on a Monday but the calendar for 1993 has
Valentine’s Day fall on a Sunday.
Disclaimer: I’m just a tourist in J.K. Rowling’s universe. No money is being made off of this
writing. If you don’t believe me, just
ask my student loan officer.
to my beta, Alkari!
The inspiration for the “Health and Hygiene” class comes from her
wonderful fic, A
Most Unusual Student.
February 13, 1993
I hate Valentine’s Day.
stalked through the dark, icy corridors of Hogwarts like an ill-tempered
panther as he made his way to his dungeon quarters. He was more than ready for a good night’s
sleep after completing his last sweep of the castle. Tonight’s patrol had been rather fruitless; no
young couples out after hours, prematurely celebrating this wretched
holiday. Or, at least none that he had
Perhaps it was the lack of meting
out punishments that set the Potions Master on edge this particular evening. Or perhaps it was the fact that some sort of
monster was slithering around the halls, petrifying students, and that damned
Potter had a penchant for exploring the castle after hours. Or it could be Lockhart, who had jabbered on
incessantly at the staff meeting on Friday about his numerous rendezvous planned for the weekend. Lockhart had even generously offered to fix
Severus up with a witch who was, “only slightly cross-eyed and just the
teensiest bit warty.” Severus’s refusal,
coupled with the phrase, “would rather drink troll piss”, had merely encouraged
Lockhart to waggle his eyebrows and make innuendoes about “secret trysts” and
“a special lady.” Bloody Valentine’s
In all fairness, Severus
loathed most holidays (including Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and birthdays)
but he found Valentine’s Day particularly odious. A whole day devoted to love and romance. As if teenagers needed any more encouragement
to moon about, giggling and making doe eyes at each other when they should be
concentrating on whether they had added enough sneezewort to their Befuddlement
Brews or had properly crushed their fire ants for a Strengthening Solution.
Slap, slap, slap!
Severus paused outside his
chambers and turned his head toward the noise.
Tightening his grip on his wand, he mentally ran through a series of advanced
defensive spells as he moved silently toward the sound, cursing the sudden
increase in the beating of his heart.
He reached the end of the
corridor near a staircase close to the dungeons and listened again.
Slap! Gasp! Slap! Slap!
It sounded like the rubber
backs of slippers smacking against stone. Although little was known about the monster in
the Chamber of Secrets, Severus was fairly certain that it didn’t wear slippers
or get winded from running, which meant that a student was out of bed or it was
another member of the staff. Either way,
the rapid rhythm of the footsteps at this late hour signaled trouble.
Slap! Gasp! Slap! Slap!
The person was at the end of
the next corridor. Severus quickly
rounded the hall and became illuminated by a narrow beam of light, like a
sinister dark angel. He heard a yelp of
surprise, a scuffling of feet, and the clatter of wood hitting the floor.
Severus was now sure of
three things: One, the person was female.
Two, she was student, not staff.
And three, she was most likely going to be spending some time in
detention, the length of the sentence depending on whatever crackpot story she
came up with.
Wordlessly, he lit his
wand. He arranged his features into
something resembling a smile and prepared to inform the student that they were
about to face something more terrifying than Slytherin’s
legendary monster. His eyes traveled
over the night-time wanderer and he raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Miss Moon?” His voice was silky and cool. “What are you doing out of bed at this hour?”
“Pro-Professor Snape!” Hester Moon gasped.
She stood there across from him, chewing her bottom lip and dithering.
“You know better than to
roam the hallways after dark, especially in light of…recent events.” He frowned at her. “I would expect one of my prefects to
exercise a little more sense.” His eyes
went to her chest and Hester instinctively clutched at the small silver badge on
her dressing gown.
sir,” Hester stammered. She glanced down
and picked up her still-lit wand. “I—I
was going to get Madam Pomfrey.”
Severus’s mood shifted back
to a high state of alertness. “Has a
student been hurt? Has the monster
attacked again?” He closed the space
between them in a few strides. As he
advanced on Hester, she backed up against the wall, bumping into a
“Hey! I was sleeping!” an old man in a floppy black cap
snapped, as the chair he was reclining in tipped over and dumped him on the
floor. The man staggered to his feet and
set about righting his chair while muttering, “Students…no respect for their
elders,” under his breath. He settled
into his chair and fixed Hester with a glare before pulling his hat over his
eyes and returning to sleep.
Hester seemed reluctant to
tear her attention away from the portrait.
Her eyes skidded over Severus’s face and then beat a hasty retreat so
that her gaze was settled somewhere between his right shoulder and elbow.
“No-no monster, sir. It’s nothing to do with the Chamber of
Secrets. Please, sir—we need to get
“And why,” Severus continued
in his low and deadly voice, “did you not inform your Head of House that a
student was ill? My quarters are much
closer to the Slytherin dungeons than the infirmary.” His stared down at her and Hester ducked her
head like an ostrich looking for a hole to disappear into.
“Um…” Hester became deeply
interested in her slippers. She glanced
back up at him and then closed her eyes as if not looking at him would somehow make
the task less painful.
“Professor, it’s…well, sir…it’s—it’s
sort of a—a girl…situation.” Her voice dropped so low on the word “girl”
that she nearly mouthed it.
Severus straightened up
before she could see the dull flush creeping over his cheeks. He had not been
aware of how close he was leaning toward her and he took a step back as if he
had nearly crossed a threshold into a room filled with highly contagious and
poisonous germs. Severus waited until
Hester had cracked her eyes open to gauge his response and then he nodded
curtly at her.
“Hospital wing,” he
muttered, barely moving his lips before setting off at a brisk pace to the
infirmary. Hester hesitated for a minute
and then joined him at his side.
Severus kept his gaze
straight ahead and tried not to look at Hester as they marched along the
corridors. It seemed that she was doing
her very best not to look at him either.
He had told Dumbledore on
numerous occasions that each House should have at least one male and one female
Head for circumstances such as this one.
There were certainly enough professors of both genders at Hogwarts to
implement such a plan. But since it was his House, he would have to be the one to handle the situation instead of
simply turning Hester over to Astrid Sinistra or
Charity Burbage, Well,
not Charity—she taught Muggle Studies and that
wouldn’t have sat well with his Slytherins—but some
other female professor—any other
female professor, even that mystical twit Sybil Trelawney—would be a better
choice to deal with…lady troubles than
And for that matter, he
thought, there were certainly enough older girls right there in the dormitory
to provide whatever sort of assistance that was needed for such things. Hester was in sixth year and mostly past that
giggly stage which seemed to affect all females between the ages of twelve and
fifteen. Certainly Hester, or another
elder girl, was capable of explaining the mysteries of the female lunar cycle
to a hysterical second or third year girl. Unless he was missing the point completely, Severus
did not think that monthly female problems were such an ordeal as to require
the services of the school matron at such a late hour. It seemed a bit…excessive.
Severus cast a side-long
glance at Hester trotting along at his side.
“Why, may I ask, did you not ask one of the other prefects to accompany
you to the infirmary?” he asked in a light, casual tone.
He noticed the tensing of
her shoulders and the long pause before answering. “None were available, sir,” she said
carefully. “You know that Drusilla is home
this weekend for her grandfather’s funeral.
She won’t be back until Sunday night.”
Severus nodded, encouraging her to continue.
“And Eunice is still in the
infirmary after that accident in Herbology with the
Devil’s Snare and the Venomous Tentacula. I visited her after dinner and Madam Pomfrey
said she’s finally breathing on her own.”
Hester gave a little shudder. “I
was the only prefect around, but Ursula is watching them until I get back.”
Severus nodded, but then the
corners of his mouth turned down in his usual scowl. Ursula Gorey was one
of Hester’s friends. Not the brightest star
in the constellation, but one who tended to mind her manners and follow the
rules for the most part. That wasn’t why
he was frowning though. Them?
What Severus Snape knew about teenage girls—or women for that
matter—could easily fit into a teacup with plenty of room left over for cream,
sugar, and a biscuit for dunking. Still,
he was fairly certain that their monthly lunar cycles didn’t all synchronize
together as one giant clock. They
weren’t ruled by the waxing and waning of the moon like a pack of werewolves
for heavens sake! But if more than one was sick at once, sick
enough to get Hester out of bed alone in the middle of the night with a monster
on the loose…it was all sounding rather suspicious. And as it was the weekend before Valentine’s
Day, Severus would bet his broomstick that someone had had an accident with an
illegal Love Potion or something of that nature. Between his office being broken into earlier
in the year and illicit potion making in his own House—which ought to know
better—he was having a difficult time mustering up sympathy for the fact that
they were now ill. Serves them right, he thought with a nasty sense of justice being
He narrowed his eyes at
Hester and slowed his pace.
“And the student in question? Surely it would have been a better idea to
bring her to the infirmary along with
some assistance from Miss Gorey? I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to
be roaming the corridors alone at the present time.” Severus looked down his nose at her.
“Well, I’m a pure-blood, sir,
so I didn’t think I had anything to worry about.” Hester stated this like it was the most
obvious thing in the world.
“I hardly think the monster
from the chamber is going to pause to inquire about your blood status before petrifying
you.” Severus gritted his teeth. As unpleasant as the topic of conversation
was, it was his job as a teacher to uncover any rule breaking. Just as it was his job to then punish said
students for rule breaking.
“Is the young lady in
question so ill with her, ah…female
situation, that she is incapable of accompanying you to the hospital wing?”
he continued in a mock puzzled voice, slowing down to almost a stroll but not
waiting for Hester to answer.
“It would seem to me that if,”
here his mouth twisted as if to spit out an olive pit, “girl things were so traumatic, then nearly half the school would be
bedridden every month and I do not believe that is the case. So, why not stop wasting my time, Miss Moon, and
tell me what is really going on. Is the student, in fact, ill?”
“Yes,” Hester’s voice was
barely more than a whisper. The
semi-calm demeanor that she had managed to pull together since running into him
was unraveling faster than a ball of yarn on a kitten farm.
“Is the student female?”
This came out in a great rush. “Andwearegoingtoneedawomantohelpthemsir.”
Severus came to an abrupt
stop just outside the Great Hall and Hester nearly stepped on his foot. “Repeat that, Miss Moon,” he said slowly.
Hester glanced over her
shoulder as if hoping the Monster of Slytherin would suddenly come sauntering
down the hall and gobble her up for a midnight snack. Severus narrowed his eyes at her. She took a deep breath and spoke very fast.
“It’s not just one student,
sir. Several of the second and third year
girls are…affected. And I really think they need Madam Pomfrey.”
“Precisely how many students
are ill, Miss Moon?”
Hester gulped. “Four second years and three third years,
sir. All girls.”
“Pray tell me, what exactly were these girls doing to prompt
such a sudden wave of illness, Miss
Hester cringed. “Sir,” she tried to plead but Severus’s dark
eyes bore into her with a fierceness that communicated that one way or another,
he would get the truth out of her. She
took a deep breath and continued speaking as a wave of crimson washed over her
“Well, you see, sir, last
term a lot of the classes study spells having to do with—with size…you know,
Shrinking Solutions in Potions and…Growth
Charms…” she stressed the last two words and glanced up at him to see if it
was absolutely necessary for her to keep speaking.
“Continue.” He added a sprinkling of snow to each
“Some-some of the second
year girls mixed up a potion—and then the third year girls got involved with
charms—and—and…it was all Pansy Parkinson’s idea!” Hester burst out before falling silent again.
After a moment, Severus
folded his arms and made an impatient sounding noise. “Miss Moon, please stop dawdling and explain
to me, in as precise and explicit a manner as possible, just what was Miss
Parkinson’s oh so brilliant idea?”
Hester closed her eyes
briefly and then faced him, chin up and determined although her bottom lip
“It was just after eleven
o’clock and there was a lot of noise coming from the second year dorm. I was the only one in the common room—I was working
on my Herbology essay for Monday—when I heard
them. Since none of the other female prefects
were in the House, I went up to tell them to go to bed and I…I discovered some
of the third year girls were in the dorm as well and that Pansy and some other second
years had…had mixed up a Swelling Solution.”
Hester paused to give him a
meaningful look, which he returned with a blank stare. It was easy enough to produce an antidote to
a Swelling Solution; Severus was certain Hester could make a Deflating Draught
with one arm Petrified behind her back. At
least it wasn’t a Love Potion or some other such nonsense, he thought. But it did seem like an odd choice of potion
to make on the sly.
He nodded at her to get on
with her story. Hester’s face twisted
like she was in pain. She plucked a
thread from the cuff of her dressing gown and began winding it tightly around
her index finger before continuing.
“I think the third years
tried an Engorgio Charm but I can’t be sure and it
didn’t work…well, no that’s not right.
It worked too well.” Hester snapped the thread off. She stared at her hand with a devastated look
on her face as Severus watched the tip of her finger fade from bright red back
to her normal color.
“I think they mucked about
with the recipe for the Swelling Solution, sir.
You know what happens when you add too much meadow adder venom; it
interacts with the puffer fish eyes—and then they combined it with the charm
and everyone knows that it is highly
inadvisable to add a charm or any other verbal incantation to a potion that
does not require such spells because the results can be unpredictable and
Severus took a moment to
feel the tiniest twinge of pleasure that Hester had remembered, nearly
verbatim, his lecture from last week’s class.
At least there was one student in the castle whose skull was not so
thick that his words were unable to penetrate it.
“What on earth were the
girls doing with the Swelling Solution?”
Severus asked, completely perplexed.
“Sir!” Hester squeaked as if he had just asked her
to go skinny-dipping in the lake with the giant squid.
“Well?” he insisted after a
“They…they were,” here
Hester waved her hands around her torso.
“Sir?” she pleaded, her voice so high and squeaky that a mouse poked its
head out of a crack in the wall.
“Miss Moon,” Severus growled,
“I am growing rather tired of your stalling.
Perhaps I ought to go to the dormitory to investigate for myself.” He turned to head back in the direction of
“NO!” Hester made a move as if to grab his arm and
stop him. “Sir, they—they were trying…to—to…enhance,” Hester gestured in the general
direction of her chest as if she was holding two very large cabbages before
dropping her hands to her sides.
The color drained from his
face for a moment and then returned in a great rush. He decided to look at the ceiling while
Hester made a careful investigation of the floor.
“I see,” Severus said slowly,
trying desperately not to see the
image that was forming in his mind of Pansy Parkinson and her little group of
friends. Short, blonde and smug,
strutting around the common room…the front of her robes straining with lumps
nearly the size of her head…a bunch of idiotic, slack jawed boys staring at her…For
the love of Merlin’s dirty drawers! How
was he supposed to lecture the girls on their foolishness or assign them
detentions—never mind teach them anything useful come class this week?
Argus Filch was
right—Dumbledore was a little too hasty in outlawing whipping as a form of
punishment. Those girls ought to be
chained to a wall in the dungeon and …another picture flashed into his mind…Mulciber…his odd predilections
…a crumpled magazine, the pages wrinkled, torn and stuck together in
places…passed around the boys’ dorm for a laugh, for a thrill…Severus jerked
his head violently, revulsion and shame buried from years ago rising up over
“They were making so much
noise, you see,” Hester continued, ignoring his discomfort and gushing out
words like a full bottle turned upside-down with the stopper removed. “When I went in to tell them to be quiet,
they tried to hide the cauldrons under their beds, but when I saw them it was
rather obvious they had done something. It looked like they all had…Bludgers under
their pajamas, and I knew that
couldn’t be right, so I found out what happened—I got it out of Millicent Bulstrode. They
wanted it to be a surprise…for Valentine’s Day.”
Severus snapped his head so
that their eyes met. “Valentine’s Day?”
he spat the words out like a handful of vomit-flavored Bertie Bott’s Beans. “They’re—they’re
second years!” he sputtered.
he thought with some distress. Barely out of pigtails and they’re worrying
about romance and seduction? Why, a
good chunk of them weren’t even old enough to go into Hogsmeade
to buy sweets for their Valentines, let alone thinking up provocative uses for
“I know!” Hester wailed in agreement. “They’re too young
for such nonsense!” she said in a fierce, final sort of voice. She balled her fists and shook her head in exasperation,
her mouth pursed in a rather priggish manner.
For a moment, their eyes
locked and identical indignant expressions crossed their faces. Severus almost thought he could see Hester shift
from an awkward student prone to fits of shyness into the confident, gifted
witch he had glimpsed on previous occasions.
In that instance, they were not teacher and student, but rather two
colleagues, sharing a similar philosophy on how the world ought to work. It was only a moment before Hester regressed
back into nervousness.
“I think they fancy some
boy…it’s all very silly. I tried brewing
a Deflating Draught because while I talking to Millicent, their…you know, kept expanding and went from
the size of Bludgers to Quaffles.”
Thank you very much, Miss Moon, Severus thought, slightly delirious with
embarrassment. I am never going to be able to enjoy a game
of Quidditch ever again.
“I gave them the draught but
it didn’t work! The Engorgio
Charm must have altered the properties of the Swelling Solution! And I didn’t want to waste any more time
brewing a Shrinking Solution because I didn’t have any leech juice in my
Potions’ kit and I didn’t know if I should run to the student cupboard and all
the while they just kept getting bigger
and bigger—“ Hester illustrated this
with accompanying hand motions.
“That will do, Miss Moon,”
Severus said faintly, lifting his palm in a weak protest, but Hester apparently
hadn’t heard him.
“And then the girls were
starting to get hysterical and cry and their,” again Hester flapped her hands
in front of her chest, “won’t stop
Severus covered his eyes
with his hand and slumped against the wall, shaking his head. Once again, the complete and utter idiocy of
teenage girls had found new and astonishingly irritating ways with which to
pillage the depths of his already limited patience. He sighed and gritted his teeth.
“Wouldn’t it have been wiser
to have taken the girls in question directly to the infirmary?” Severus asked straightening up and setting
off again at a brisk pace, this time in the direction of the hospital wing. Hester strode alongside him.
“I thought about it, sir”
she said with complete sincerity, “But their pajama tops were…busting open—um, I
mean, not staying on anymore. And
besides, I would’ve had to levitate them and I couldn’t have done it with just
“Levitate them?” Severus interrupted.
“Yes…well, you see, sir—the
girls were having a bit of a problem staying upright and I didn’t think they’d
be able to make it to the hospital wing unassisted. Their...you
know…were nearly the size of Hagrid’s Halloween
pumpkins when I left. They sort of kept…toppling
over every time they tried to stand up.” Again, Hester provided a helpful illustration
of the problem by leaning back and flapping her hands about. “It was all Ursula and I could do just to
levitate them onto the beds.”
An image popped into
Severus’s head of his second and third year girls, bouncing and rolling around
the dormitory like a school of trussed up plimpies or
overturned tortoises. He quickly quelled
the powerful urge to laugh. He glanced
over at Hester, wondering if a good chuckle might calm her down a bit, but Hester
frowned slightly and turned away from him. When she spoke again, her voice was calm and
more than a little cool.
“It seemed the best idea was
to head to Madam Pomfrey myself and have her come to the dorm. I know I shouldn’t be out alone, sir, but I didn’t
want to get Damian or Marcus or Saul to help out. I know they’re prefects, but…but they’re boys.
They don’t understand these sorts of things and…and I didn’t want them
to make fun of the girls, sir.”
Severus jerked his head in a
nod to show that he was listening, but he couldn’t help but wonder if Hester
was now the one lecturing him.
Hester sighed and then her
expression turned dark. “I also didn’t
want the boys to get any ideas. I mean,”
she looked up at him, a look of pure terror spreading over her face, “not-not
that the boys’d get the idea to—to use that potion
for their…stuff. Things! Never mind!”
Hester’s face scrunched up
in horror and she clapped her hand over her mouth. She squeezed her eyes shut, tucked her chin
firmly to her chest and quickened her steps.
Severus reached out and yanked at her elbow to stop her from plowing
into a suit of armor.
Tomorrow morning, Severus thought, I am going to
hunt down an Obliviator and pay him a hundred Galleons
to have this conversation permanently
erased from my memory.
Thank Merlin they had
finally reached the staircase that lead to the first floor where the infirmary
was located. But the staircase seemed to
have shifted and they were met with empty space. Severus wasn’t sure how long they should wait
before doubling back to the main set of marble stairs. He glanced at the landing on the opposite
side, wondering if he could leap across the chasm if he had a running start…
Hester seemed to think the
cure for embarrassment was more chatter, because she removed her hand from her
mouth and continued twittering, although her eyes remained closed.
“What I meant to say, sir,
is that I kept the girls in their dormitory because their housemates shouldn’t see
them in that state. And…and I didn’t
want the older boys to…to gawk and stare at them or give the girls ideas
about…about what a woman should look like,” she said, a trace of bitterness
coating her words. Hester opened her eyes and glanced down at her own rather
decidedly un-Swelled chest. She frowned
as if remembering something unpleasant and drew her dressing gown around herself
more tightly, hugging her arms around her torso.
“Boys can be so stupid!”
Hester snarled through clenched teeth, before she remembered her present
company was in fact a member of the male species. “I…I meant no disrespect, sir,” she said in her
typically soft voice.
“None taken,” Severus
replied out of the corner of his mouth, keeping his head rigid and his eyes
forward. He had to admit that he agreed
wholeheartedly with her.
He wondered if Hester’s
little outburst had anything to do with her fourth year when there was a period
of time where her classmates, particularly the boys, had taken to calling her,
“Crescent” and “Eclipse.” Although
Severus failed to see what was so terrible about those nicknames, they had
upset her a great deal. He had never
done anything about the teasing and had just taken her red face and her unusual
silence in Potions that year to be a sign that she was just too sensitive and
that she ought to learn to toughen up. One
time he had even had to give her a detention when, in a very uncharacteristic
burst of anger, she had flung an ink pot at Roderick Baddock’s
head before class. Now he wondered if
perhaps the teasing was a little more…sinister, a little crueler than he had
“Any sort of…praise or
admiration from the boys would only encourage the girls to do it again and,”
she drew herself up primly although her face was still the color of a ripe strawberry,
“that is not a Ministry approved use
of a Swelling Solution.”
“Indeed,” Severus remarked
“I would have got you, sir,”
Hester said as the staircase finally started moving toward them, “but I’ve
never seen you in the girls’ dorm—not that you should be in there!” Again, her eyes found her slippers and she
continued to address them as the staircase ground to a halt.
“But, I know boys can’t
enter the girl’s dorm because I read in Hogwarts,
A History of the enchantment by the Founders and I
was afraid I’d have to bring everyone down into the common room for you to help
them.” She chanced a glance at him. “I didn’t want the rest of the House to see
them…and make fun of them,” she said softly as the staircase ground to a halt
in front of them.
Severus swept past her and
started climbing the stairs. An odd sort
of lump had blossomed in his throat and he coughed a few times to clear it
away. It was so like Hester to be considerate
of her housemates’ feelings, even risking her own safety to roam the corridors
at night with a monster on the loose in order to spare the feelings of a few
featherheaded girls. It was something
Lily would have done. Whereas his personal
motto was that abject stupidity deserved public and absolute humiliation, with Neville
Longbottom being Exhibit A.
Severus thought glumly as he reached the next floor. Why wasn’t the Department of Mysteries
studying the workings of the adolescent mind—unless that was the powerful and
fearsome force kept behind locked doors at all times. He supposed everyone did something stupid
when they were that age. Even with his
superior intelligence, he hadn’t been immune to teenage folly…
It was Christmas and the unthinkable had
happened—Lily Evans was going out with James Potter and rumors were flying that
he was going to ask her to marry him by the end of the year. He and Lily hadn’t spoken since he had called
her that horrible word…since that damned James Potter had dangled him upside
down and shown half the school and Lily his old gray pants…since Lily—Lily!—
had called him Snivellus. She had actually used Black’s horrible
nickname to address him.
And now Lily wouldn’t speak to him at all, even
though he had apologized over and over again, had sent her letters all that summer
that had gone unanswered except for one short note: “Leave me alone.” He had made a few overtures during sixth year
to try and patch things up, but she wouldn’t listen to him. Mulciber told him
to forget it, that she was just a stupid Mudblood and
he had agreed and laughed with his supposed friends, all the time thinking of
And now James Potter had got her at last, nicked Lily
away from him the way Potter always nicked the Snitch from Madam Hootch so he could show off for his little gang. Well, Severus wasn’t going to let that happen. It couldn’t be Potter’s sparkling personality
or wit that won Lily’s heart. Hadn’t she
once called him a toerag? Severus had been over the possible reasons
for Lily liking Potter and had narrowed it down to the following: Potter had slipped
a love potion into her pumpkin juice, she had fallen off her broomstick and
suffered some sort of head injury or…Lily thought Potter was handsome.
It was this last possibility that Severus was afraid
was the most likely. Severus couldn’t
compete with Potter’s money or bloodline or Quidditch
prowess, but if Lily was the type who fancied so-called “handsome” blokes, then
he could at least try to do something about his appearance if it meant Lily
would pay attention to him again (although he never would have guessed Lily to
be so shallow). But Potter wasn’t really
that good looking—Black was the one who drew girls to him like gold to a goblin. And if Lily was just interested in what was
on the surface, then she should be going out with Black and she wasn’t…But the
thought of Lily laughing and smiling and holding hands with either of
those…those berks made him feel like
a thousand rats were scratching and gnawing at his insides, so he didn’t dwell
on the logic of the matter for very long.
What he needed was a plan to win Lily back.
Severus took all of his pocket money and sold his few
Christmas presents and bought a variety of skin and hair potions and health
tonics. He would have just brewed them
himself, but the winter holidays were too short for some of the potions to be
brewed properly and he needed to speak to Lily without the intervention of
other students. Unfortunately, since he
wanted to stretch his supply of meager coins, the stores he went to weren’t
exactly known for providing the best products.
He cut through the path in the woods that ran next to
the river between Spinner’s End and Lily’s neighborhood and gulped down the
contents of the bottles he had bought, discarding the empty containers in a
hollow tree. He waited for the potions
to take effect, anxiously checking for progress in a small, dusty pocket mirror
he had stolen out of his mother’s bathroom.
When it became obvious that the potions were finished taking effect, he
set off until he reached Lily’s house.
Now he stood on her doorstep, clutching a small
bouquet of ice lilies—delicate, nearly translucent pearly white flowers that
bloomed only in the winter. They were
scarce and expensive and the money could have gone toward better potions, but they
were Lily’s favorite magical flowers.
And besides, the results of the potions weren’t too bad. All right, his skin
was a weird shade of pale orange, but all of his spots had cleared up. If the light was dim enough, it was possible
that he didn’t look like a jaundiced pumpkin and he could just pretend that he
was merely very, very tan from a tropical holiday. The tonic to give his scrawny frame some
muscles had been a great success—but the effect was localized to just his upper
arms and nowhere else on his body, so that he resembled a string bean flanked
by two giant hams. The potion for his
teeth had worked well—maybe a little too well.
They were so bright now that they appeared to glow in the dark…but if he
kept his lips fairly close together when he talked he wouldn’t blind
anyone. His hair wasn’t too bad—sleek
and shiny, if a bit on the feminine side.
He ran a hand through it to give it that messy windblown look that
seemed to work for Potter.
He knocked on the Evans’ front door but didn’t wait
for anyone to answer and instead bellowed, “Lily! It’s Sev!”
The door opened and his heart caught in his throat,
only to sink into his bowels when he saw the horsy face of Lily’s Muggle sister.
“What do—“ she started to say before clapping a hand
over her mouth that didn’t quite muffle her laughter. “Lily!” she shrieked turning around and
retreating to the interior of the house, “that Snape
freak is here to see you—and he’s brought flowers!” Around the door frame Severus could see her at
the foot of the staircase, her back toward him. She was shaking with barely suppressed giggles.
Anger boiled up inside him and he felt his left arm
twitch. One word, or perhaps two, and
this Muggle nobody with a face uglier than the backend
of a hippogriff would be at his feet, writhing in agony…begging for his
mercy. His hand inched toward the wand
in his pocket.
“Tell him I don’t want to see him,” Lily called from
deeper in the house, most likely her upstairs bedroom.
“Are you sure? You’d have a good laugh.”
“Tell him to go away!”
Petunia returned to the door, quite cognizant that he
had listened to the entire exchange. A
nasty sneer curled Petunia’s thin upper lip.
“You heard my freak sister,” she said in a snotty tone. She moved to close the door in his face. Just before it shut, she smirked at him,
looked him up and down and said in a vicious, cold voice, “Guess magic can’t
cure everything!” Her
laughter mingled with the sound of the slamming door.
“Lily!” he hollered, backing away from the door and
slipping on the icy walkway. “Please,
Lily!” He saw a flash of her red hair
from behind a curtain, saw her head shake, “No” before the curtain closed
completely and his world fell apart. He kept
shouting her name until Mr. Evans came out and told him that if he didn’t go
home, he’d call the “please-men.” After that, Severus didn’t remember throwing the flowers into the
snow right where any old horrible, stupid Muggle
could see them, couldn’t remember skating and slipping across snow and ice as
he ran back to his home, back to Spinner’s End.
His footsteps carrying him away from Lily, back to the forest, and
toward a rapidly darkening path…
“For future reference, Miss
Moon,” Severus said as they walked along the first floor corridor, his voice
slightly gentler, “Heads of House may enter into all of the dormitories.” Severus neglected to mention that Hogwarts, A History
had conveniently glossed over the incident of Byron Rochester, the Ravenclaw Head in the 1790’s who had run off with a sixteen
“I’m sorry! I should have got a professor, but I was
afraid we’d lose House points and it
wasn’t fair that Gryffindor beat us last year for the Cup—I mean, that’s not
the point! The girls need medical attention
and I didn’t know what to do! I’m the
worst prefect ever!” Hester looked like
she was about to burst into tears.
Severus cleared his throat
and gave her a look so stern that any tears that had thought about escaping
from her eyes turned around and retreated into the ducts. That was one thing he liked about Hester
Moon—she never seemed to be in floods like so many girls. She might stammer and blush and wail, but she
always managed to keep her tears in check, lift her chin, and address him
properly and he admired her for that. He
raised his arm to put a comforting hand on her shoulder but thought better of
“You are not the worst
prefect, Miss Moon,” he said in what he hoped was a kind tone. That
would be Remus Lupin,
he added silently, aiding and abetting
his horrid friends and their clever little “pranks.”
“You did what you thought
was best for your fellow students and for your House. I must however stress, that in the future you
should immediately notify me, another
professor, or Madam Pomfrey when a student is ill, no matter the origin of that
illness. While it is admirable that you
tried to handle the situation as calmly and as logically as you could, it is
much better for those of us who are older and wiser to attend to such matters. Do you understand?”
Hester focused her gaze on
her hands, which she was absentmindedly wringing in front of her. She nodded her head to show that she
“As for House points…twenty
points from Slytherin from each girl, for improper use of a Swelling Solution
outside of class. And a week of
detention for each of them. I think
they’ve had enough of Potions though,” he added hastily. “I believe Professor
Sprout could use some assistance weeding her Babbling Begonias and Professor Sinistra mentioned the other day in the staff room that the
astronomy telescopes are due for a polishing.
And Professor McGonagall needs help with…something or other.” Severus waved his hand dismissively.
Hester nodded meekly as if
to agree that this course of action was fitting.
“And as for you, Miss Moon—”
Hester looked up at him and seemed
to brace herself for the punishment that was sure to follow. She moved as if to unpin her badge and hand
“Ten points to Slytherin for
the quick and expert brewing of a Deflating Draught. I know your Potions work and I am sure you
made it just fine,” he said before she could protest that the solution hadn’t
“Another ten points for
leadership and decisive action befitting a prefect and another ten for thinking
so kindly of your fellow students and not subjecting them to further ridicule
and embarrassment, although a healthy dose of both would not have been remiss,”
he muttered the last part under his breath.
“Ten points to Miss Gorey,” he added as an afterthought,
“for providing help in the absence of any other prefects.
“And,” he said with almost a
weary sigh as he nodded toward the infirmary’s door, “one hundred points to
Slytherin if you would be so kind as to explain the delicate nature of this…situation to Madam Pomfrey, assist her
with the administration of the antidote, and give me your solemn promise to
never, ever again mention this in my presence.
Do we have an accord, Miss Moon?”
“Yes. I promise.”
Hester smiled shyly, eyes downcast and gave a tiny little giggle.
“Wonderful,” he sighed,
holding the door open for her.
After waking the matron,
Severus went to wait outside her office while Hester explained the reason for
their late-night visit. He wasn’t sure,
but he thought Poppy rolled her eyes and tut-tutted rather
impatiently in his direction when she came out of her office and passed by
As he escorted the two women
back to the Slytherin dungeons, he was rather annoyed to discover that this was
not the first time Madam Pomfrey had had to rectify
such a situation for the young ladies of Hogwarts. Feeling rather insulted that all the
knowledge in his classroom was being put to such an undignified use, Severus decided
that first thing in the morning, he was going to have a talk with Dumbledore
about the creation of a Health and Hygiene class. Poppy could teach it.
Severus settled himself into
an armchair and stared at the fire, shifting his attention only to glare at any
student who dared poke their head out of their dorm to see what was going on. Poppy and Hester disappeared into the second
year’s dorm and went to work returning the girls to their previous state. Severus heard the voices of some of them
drifting down the stairs as they tried to convince Madam Pomfrey that she had
shrunk them too much and couldn’t she make an exception and did this mean that
they were never going to develop properly now?
Severus rolled his eyes and rubbed his hand over his eyes and forehead as
he watched the low flames twist and flicker.
about properly developing your minds not your bodies.
But of course, they wouldn’t
listen to him—they never did. He wanted
to tell them that any bloke truly worth their time and attention was more
interested in what they had between their ears rather than what was below their
necks. Of course, since the skulls of
most students contained nothing beyond specks of marshmallow fluff drifting
aimlessly among draped cobwebs, perhaps he ought to seriously consider adding
Beautifying Brews and Love Potions to his curriculum if his students had any
hopes of marrying and propagating the wizarding
population into the next generation.
Severus snorted, imaging his
students’ reactions to “Professor Snape” lecturing
about love. His thoughts were running away
from him, a contrivance of the late hour and the impending holiday. Bloody Valentine’s Day…what did his students
know of love? A fistful of flowers and a
poem cribbed from a book. A box of
chocolates and a quick grope in an empty classroom. No wonder those idiot girls had resorted to potions
to conjure up love. He doubted that any
of them could fathom love— real, deep, all consuming love.
He had loved Lily long
before she became A Girl. He couldn’t
remember the precise moment he fell in love, only that after she entered his
life it was like a shaft of sunlight breaking up the clouds after a long bout
of rain. It wasn’t her hair, the color
of a phoenix’s plumage, or her petite little nose that crinkled when she
laughed or the way her body started to shift and curve when she was fourteen
that made him love her. He had loved the
way her lips would pucker when she was concentrating on a spell. Or, after that first disastrous flying
lesson, her patience at helping him learn to ride a broomstick followed by her
whoop of joy when he finally got it. And
the way Lily always put her hands on her hips, which she slightly cocked to the
left, whenever she got into one of her bossy or self-righteous moods. And had loved her eyes not because of their
brilliant shade of green, but for the kindness they contained.
It was the same kindness he
saw so often in Hester’s eyes, the look she had now as she glided toward his
chair to inform him that Madam Pomfrey had put the girls right again.
“…used a countercharm with a
modified Shrinking Solution. Very
clever. Ursula’s already gone up to bed—I
told her about the ten points. She was
quite pleased! And I swore her to secrecy that she wouldn’t
tell anyone what happened,” Hester lowered her voice to a conspiratorial
whisper. “I used a Tongue-Tightening Hex,
just in case—but don’t tell her that. Is
there anything else I can do, professor?”
“No, Miss Moon,” he sighed,
rising to his feet and suppressing a yawn.
“I believe there has been enough excitement
for one evening.” His lip curled in a
half-hearted sneer before returning to his usual dour expression. Hester nodded and turned to go.
“Miss Moon,” he began, not
sure of what he wanted to say to her. He
knew that within a week Pansy and her friends would be back to causing mischief
for Hester. They would never know or
appreciate the kindness she had done for them, nor would Hester demand
recognition for bestowing this bit of mercy to the ungrateful lot of them. He also wanted to apologize for some of the
cruder members of his sex, and let her know that all those stupid boys, (well,
a handful of them at any rate), eventually grew up into men who would see her
for Who She Was and Who She Was just happened to be a very sweet and kind young
lady who didn’t need a potion to trick a boy into thinking she was beautiful.
But Severus was never one
for long speeches, and he certainly wasn’t going to cultivate a taste for them at
one o’clock in the morning while Poppy waited impatiently by the door.
“Thank you. For your help during this...incident,” he gave her a jerky sort of
Hester pressed her lips
together, the ends twitching into a smile.
“What incident, sir?” she asked rather impishly.
He paused for a moment and
his mouth softened a bit before he gave her an approving nod. “Exactly.
Off to bed,” he motioned toward the staircase that led to the girls’
“Good night, sir,” Hester said
politely, giving him a little wave and as she headed to the girls’ dormitory.
He walked over to Poppy and
offered to escort her back to the hospital wing. As he held open the door for the matron, he
happened to glance over his shoulder at Hester ascending the staircase. He watched Hester until the hem of her
dressing gown disappeared out of sight, and a strange feeling settled in his
It was as if a few drops of
Swelling Solution had been trickled directly onto his heart.
he thought shaking his head and stepping out into the hall. A night dealing with teenage girls and their
own unique brand of ridiculousness was enough to give the even the heartiest of
blokes indigestion and heart burn. Valentine’s
Day surprise indeed.
Merlin help the first person
who mentioned that wretched holiday to him come Monday morning.