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Tea Blend by Blissbug

Format: Short story
Chapters: 7
Word Count: 13,156
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Romance
Characters: Snape
Pairings: Snape/OC

First Published: 11/14/2008
Last Chapter: 04/03/2010
Last Updated: 04/03/2010

Summary:



Genera LeSart has come to Hogwarts to collect the remnants of her late sister's life. She doesn't know what to expect, or how to act. Confused with grief, bitter with loneliness, the last thing Genera wants to do is deal with a moody and slightly greasy professor. She'll be surprised though, when she discovers that loneliness can bring two people together as much as it can break them apart.


Chapter 1: A Delightful Girl
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Chapter One-

“Professor Snape, this is Genera le Sarte, little Maggie’s sister. She’s come to collect the girl’s things,” said Professor McGonagall. “Genera, Professor Snape is the head of Slytherin House.”

Genera set her fragile tea cup aside and stood up. She felt tender, like a slice of meat cut too thin and then beaten with such repetition and force that holes had began to tear.

“Yes, hello,” she said, clearing her throat. She gave a shrug of the mouth and stuck out her hand. The man before her regarded it with mild curiosity. He had lank longish hair and Genera couldn’t tell if it were so because he kept it that way on purpose or if it looked that way from sheer neglect.

“Miss le Sarte,” he said, gingerly taking her hand. His fingers felt dry and thin, like spider’s legs. “You’re a Muggle,” he said, pulling his hand away. “My condolences, of course.”

“Professor Snape will take you to Maggie’s room,” said the older woman, pushing her chair back. “I must be away, but the Professor has promised to see to you.” Genera nodded mutely as the woman placed a gentling hand on her arm. “We really were all saddened, to lose her,” she added, the heat from her hand seeping through Genera’s sleeve. “Maggie was a delightful girl and dedicated student.”

“Thank you, uh, Minerva,” Genera replied carefully. She felt like she’d said the same thing a thousand times over in the last three months. That was ninety days, twenty thousand, one hundred and sixty hours, or one hundred and twenty-nine thousand, six hundred minutes. She hadn’t bothered breaking it down into seconds. She was saving that for a moment of true desperation.

“Of course dear, of course,” replied the teacher. “Things are arranged for you too, passage on the train and what like,” she added, “to get you home. Professor Snape?”

“Have a good summer holiday, Minerva,” the man said. Genera glanced from him to the older woman. The lanky man caught Genera’s eye for a moment as he drew the edges of his heavy dark robe up around his arms, then folded his hands into the wide sleeves.

“Alright, goodbye then Genera.”

“Goodbye Professor,” Genera replied, turning to face the woman fully. Her features, though wizened, still held a certain handsome grace. Her eyes were cast into shadow by the wide brim of her strange tilted hat.

The Brother’s Grimm haute fashion line.


“Thank you, again, for arranging everything,” Genera added quickly. “I really appreciate it.”

“Not at all dear.”

The man behind them cleared his throat and both women turned. Genera noted his hooded expression with a slight frown. Light moved behind him, silhouetting his height into shadow. Genera turned away, pressing her lips together.

He wants me to think he’s bored, like none of this matters.

She glanced around the little receiving room once more as the other teacher gathered up her things. She nodded to Genera once, then quite the room, striding past the other professor. Genera sighed, the scent of stone and dust heavy in her nostrils.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name,” she said.

“Professor Snape,” he replied in a low rolling voice. Genera nodded, unable as of yet to shake the feeling that she’d just suddenly walked onto a movie set, or into another dimension where everyone dressed liked it was still eighteen-sixty two and sounded like they’d just finished roles in Sense and Sensibility.

“And you knew Maggie.”

“Yes.” Genera paused, waiting for the man to say more, but he didn’t. She glanced at him, trying not to absorb too much. She didn’t really care what he looked liked, or what he thought. She just wanted the day to get on, so she could get it over with.

Pinching the tight muscles in her neck, Genera followed the head of the slithery house as he turned on his heel and strode out of the room. She could feel a very sharp heavy throbbing keeping time in her neck with the echo of her sensible low heeled shoes. Stone climbed up around her. All the halls she’d yet been in were long affairs with weird windows of mulled glass.

Neo-Gothic, that’s the style.

It seemed sad to Genera, that after all the work the sun had done to struggle through the ever-present clouds, it would be again denied a warming touch by not being able to stream through the windows.

You’re babbling. Like an idiot. God, pull your self together.

“Have you ever been to Hogwarts before Miss Salt?” the man asked her, turning as
they descended a wide branch of stairs which seemed to sweep towards shadow.

“Nu-uh.”

“It must be thrilling for you then.”

Genera stopped. “Not really,” she said cleanly. “I’m here to pack up whatever’s left of my sister’s life, Professor. My thirteen year old sister, who just died. I did have to take a thirteen hour fly to get here, while stuck next to a salesman from Tacoma, who tried to sell me a toilet. Then, when I finally landed, I had to find a ridiculous train station, and wait around for a huge man who smelled like goat, to pick me up. And you know what,” Genera added insanely, “he really could have picked me up. So no, it’s not really thrilling.”

Professor Snape looked up at her for a long moment. She was more than aware that she’d been babbling, but the man just watched her impassively. Genera noticed that his skin was pale, almost white, and his eyes were dark. He was younger than she had originally thought, with full lips that could have been pouty had they not been so tightly pressed together.

“I just meant – ”

“If you could just show me where my sister’s room is, please,” Genera interjected. She sighed, feeling tired, like all her muscles were headed straight for the stone floor.

Professor Snape continued down the staircase, turning along yet another corridor.

Here there were no windows and the smell of stone and pressed air bloomed up around Genera. She could still taste vodka and airplane peanuts in her mouth and regretted not having finished her tea. She blinked, walking quickly to keep pace with the teacher’s wide strides. The edges of his cloak billowed up behind him with each step and Genera shivered.

“We’re here,” he said and turned to a blank wall. Genera looked around her. The hallway was very wide, high, despite somehow being below the ground levels. There were doors, or even simple archways down the hall, but the bare space of stone she stood in front of wasn’t near any of them. She looked back the way they’d come. There was a suit of armor to her left, and a table just across from it sporting what looked like a tarnished water pitcher.

She started to say something, but the professor cut her off instead.

“Quaffle,” he muttered, glancing at Genera. She caught his eye for a heart beat and then he ducked inside. Genera pulled back and blinked. Where there had been a blank wall, a solid blank wall, there was now a low stone arch.

Their answer to automatic doors, I guess.


“The girl’s dormitory,” Professor Snape called from inside, “is to the left and I believe your sister’s room is the second.”

Genera ducked down, stepping into the cavity of the wall. She took two steps and found her self walking into what looked like someone’s average basement living room. Except that it’d been transported to a dungeon. The professor was leaning against the back of a sagging couch, his arms crossed, mouth pressed into a narrow line.

“I would like to uh, do this myself, if you don’t mind,” she said, her eyes roving around the room.

“Perfect,” the teacher replied shortly. “I’ll wait.”

“Outside?”

“Excuse me?”

“I just, I need uh...”

“Never mind,” the man said, cutting her off. He glanced at Genera for a quick moment, then left the room. Genera shrugged her shoulders, feeling suddenly smaller without the hulking presence of the man who had taught her sister.

Wonder what he teaches. The Principles of Being an Ass, 101.


Genera sighed, blowing a strand of hair off her face.

Its okay, Steve would have been no better. You just need to get this done, better to do it on your own.

The room was dim with pools of greenish light from lamps in corners and on tables. The room felt as if a great weight were pressing down around it. Genera couldn’t imagine what it would have been like, full of kids. It was hard to believe that Maggie would have preferred this dark dank space to that of Genera’s city apartment.

There were two couches, both well used, and a handful of arm chairs. Two fireplaces had been carved out of the walls, and sat just opposite each other. It looked like they had been recently cleaned out and reset. In fact, the whole room has a general air of tidiness. The stooped couches, low tables and book shelves with their stacks of board games, books and nicknacks were all newly ordered, just waiting for a group of energetic youths to come tumbling throuh. There were a few posters on the walls (Genera only just glanced at them) among fading and moth eaten wall tapestries. Silver and green pennants were tucked up on the concave walls, held there by unknown means.

Magical scotch tape, guaranteed dungeon durable.


Genera noticed that just beyond the fireplaces, in the back of the room two hallways branched off to the left and right. She chose the one to the left, her heels clumping across the empty room. As she inched down the hallway, she noticed that high in the walls were sconces from which spilled moist feeble light.

Wizards’ equivalent to recess lighting.

She snorted with the thought, then immediately covered her mouth with her hand. She closed her eyes for a brief moment and firmly told her self to stop acting like a madwoman.

She found the second door on the left, one of many evenly spaced down the hallway. Another one of the green and silver pennants sporting ‘Slytherin House’ was tacked up on the door. Genera remembered her sister mentioning how the school had different branches, four and how she had been sorted into Slytherin her first year.
“Way better than Hufflepuff,” said Maggie the summer she’d come back home. Genera had thought that ‘Hufflepuff’ had sounded like an over-priced bath poofy.
Genera swallowed and turned the door knob, letting the door swing in away from her. The room was larger than she had thought and dark.

Maggie lived here.

Genera paused at the threshold, her hand braced against the doorframe. Her palms were sweaty, her mouth dry. She licked her lips, tasting sweat and lipstick.

The room was softer though, than the common room, with wall hanging of interminable design and three bunk beds of blond wood. There was also enough space to accomdate two dressers and a pair of armchairs. There were no windows, and the beds (save one) had been stripped bare of their bedding.
Maggie, oh god, I’m sorry.

Genera approached her sister’s bed, bumping up against a large trunk, the only one in the room. Everything had been left as it was, as Genera had requested. The bed had been made, the top blanket pulled even and tight. Genera noticed that the dresser wedged between the bed and wall still had its girly clutter.

Maggie’s clothes, Maggie’s things.


A tube of lip gloss, hair brush, a folded note, pair of gloves. All these things were scattered across the top of the dresser. Next to the lip gloss (sparkles, of course) was a framed picture.

Genera picked it up and watched in silence as her sister stood next to another girl. Maggie slung her arm around her friend’s waist, each girl laughing and jostling for position in front of the camera. Behind them was the shore of a lake. Wind blew, throwing little white waves against the shore and sending Maggie’s forever tangled hair into a frenzy.

Genera had seen just one other photograph like this one. Her father had given it to her in fact, for Christmas, one of he and her mother in front of a fountain. They had died that New Years. Genera had put it in her wallet, and hadn’t looked at it since. She wondered if the magic used to make the photograph move ever wore off.

She clutched the frame to her chest as she inched around the bed toward the door. She looked down at the trunk, which had Maggie’s name and ‘Hogwarts’ on the top of it. Carefully folded on top of the trunk was a threadbare throw blanket.

Genera let her breath out slowly, and sank down to the floor. She put the picture aside, and gathered the throw blanket to her.

“I’m not gonna use it Gen, really.”

“Maggie, it’s cold over there, and its cashmere. Its your favorite color.”

“I just don’t think there’s room, kay?”

I didn’t know she actually took it with her. I wanted her to, but I didn’t know.

There was so much she didn’t know, Genera thought, burying her face in the blanket. She shook her head. She knew next to nothing about the school Maggie had happily spent the last three years at, didn’t know about her classes or the games she played or the places she’d visited. When Maggie came home for the summer, she’d always spent it with their parents, until last summer, when Maggie had been forced to join Genera because she had no other place to go.

Oh god, she’s here, she’s all here.

Genera dropped the blanket in her lap, and ground the palms of her hands into her eyes. She held her breath, pressing hard, trying to swallow down the screams she felt bubbling up in her like an acidic tide.

I don’t have any –

Not here, now not!


She stood up, backing away from the blanket that still held Maggie’s scent, breathing hard through her mouth. She heard a hollow thud and looked down to find that the picture had fallen on the floor.

I can’t do this.

I have to do this.


Staring down at the picture, madly enough Genera saw Steve’s face as he’d driven her to the airport. “I could go with you,” he’d said, his fine small hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles had gone white. Genera had realized then, that he didn’t really mean it.

“No, don’t worry about it.”

“Then just don’t go,” he’d replied, glancing at her. “It’s a seventeen hour flight – ”

“Thirteen.”

“They’ve got people, you know, who can pack her stuff up.”

“I don’t want people packing her life up Steve,” Genera had said tightly. “I wanna do it myself, I owe her that.”

Now Genera wished she’d let Steve come, or maybe had just stayed back in the city.
They could have air-shipped everything, or whatever it is that wizards do to make shit get from one place to another.

She shook her head, feeling the french knot she’d wrestled her hair into that morning, coming out. Genera picked up the picture and moved back around the bed. Her body hummed, but she clenched down, denying the tears and anger and bitter taste of failure. After very carefully placing the photograph back in place, Genera let her hands rest on the dresser top, as if she could absorb the last bits of Maggie’s life through them. She glanced into the mirror, and froze. Her eyes looked hollow; blue, drained and hollow. Her skin was wan, making her freckles stand out and bringing her heart shaped face back into childhood.

“Miss le Sarte, are you quite finished?”

Genera turned around drunkenly and tripped. She caught herself on the post of the bunk bed as she looked at the dark teacher who stood in the doorway.

“How long have you...?”

“Eighteen minutes.”

“I meant, standing there.”

“Just now,” the professor replied tartly. He folded his hands across his chest and peered at her from across the room. “Are you ready?”

“No, I...I haven’t uh, really done anything yet. I was just,” she fumbled, “uh...” She caught site of the throw blanket and picked it up off the floor. She shook it out (when did Mags start wearing perfume?) and folded it, returning it to the place on the trunk.

“Miss le Sarte, perhaps you need some air,” said the professor, stepping into the room. Genera pulled back, his presence a palpable force, filling up the space and making the room feel small. She looked at him, her bottom lip tucked between her teeth. His expression was neutral, waiting.

“Come, I have tea waiting.”

“Tea?”

“You don’t like tea?”

“No, it’s great, it’s fine,” Genera mumbled, glancing around her. She wasn’t ready to leave the room yet.

Maggie.

She looked at the professor, and when their eyes met something kindred kindled between them. It was almost as if Genera had said, “I’m hurting,” and he had said, “So am I.”


   

Chapter 2: Shrinking Solutions
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Chapter Two-

Severus Snape didn’t look behind him as he lead the muggle woman toward his class room just down the hall. She had seemed distraught to begin with, rude and waspish. Now she just seemed jumbled, like a jigsaw puzzle that had once been whole, and was now missing many key pieces.

He shifted his shoulders, feeling her eyes on the back of his neck. He would have a strong word with Minerva if he could catch her before she left, about leaving the woman with him. He wasn’t a babysitter, never mind that little Maggie le Sarte had been one of his students. It didn’t give Minerva McGonigal the right to dump the girl’s sister on him. He had better things to do with his time.

Severus was halfway down his classroom before he realized that the little clicking noises of the woman following him had stopped. He turned to find her looking around the sub-basement room with wide eyes. He glanced around him self, trying for a brief annoyed moment, to see what was so extraordinary about his class room from any other room in the castle.

“Miss le Sarte?”

“Yeah, coming,” she said, taking two steps forward then back tracking to examine a two-headed toad in a jar Snape had put among many other jars like it on the shelves around the room.

“Did my sister, uh, take your class?” she asked in a worried voice. Severus shifted where he stood waiting for her, his hands tucked into his sleeves.

“Yes, she did.”

“Was she...” the woman asked, glancing at him, “well, a good student?”
Snape blinked, trying to recall at the moment if Maggie le Sarte had done anything really remarkable in his class. It was hard to recall any of his students in fact, with Potter’s face always popping into his mind’s eyes.

Maggie. She liked learning about shrinking solutions, I remember she did well in that.

“She had a fine touch for shrinking solutions.”

“Uh?”

“I teach Potions,” Snape explained slowly. “And Maggie did well with shrinking solutions.”

“She, never told me,” the woman replied, tucking her hands into the pockets of her slacks. She looked to be on the verge of tears again and Severus turned away.

“Our tea is getting cold,” Snape said, pulling out his wand from inside his sleeve. He felt the woman behind him tense as he set to disarming the spells and charms he’d set to protect his office. The door unlocked presently, and tucking his wand away again, he ushered the muggle woman past him. She smelt like sea salt and lavender.
She paused behind the chair in front of his desk, her eyes wide and red. She was blinking hard, her mouth pursed.

“Was my sister happy here?” she asked suddenly, looking up. Snape stopped midway around his desk.

“She was,” he said for lack of any thing better. How was he to know if the girl had been happy? If he spent all his time trailing after his students trying to ascertain their mental state, he’d get absolutely nothing done.

“She wasn’t, with me,” the woman said, her hands gripping the back of the chair. Severus noticed that the woman had simple hands to go with her uncomplicated face. She was average in almost every way. Average height, average body, unremarkable in her femininity.

“I don’t think I ever got her.” Here the woman swallowed, her brow tightly pinched. “My uh, father, he was the magical one, he got Mags.”

“Indeed,” Snape replied politely as he settled himself into his chair. He ran his hands down the worn arm rests, centering himself in his space. He saw the tea he’d ordered had come, along with small finger sandwiches and almond cookies. He set out the woman’s tea-cup, then hesitated as she continued to speak.

“My mom and I, we were normal but Maggie, she had every one in the palm of her hand, she really could do no wrong.”

“And what of you?” Snape asked, rising out his chair. He glanced over his shoulder as the woman blinked at him.

“I was just...me,” she shrugged. Snape nodded, then turned to the cabinet behind him. He took out his wand and tapped the double locks he had on the cabinet. The woman fell silent, watching him as he searched around in the bottles. There were all kinds, round and square and otherwise, tall, short and fat. He finally found the one he wanted, a little palm sized bottle with a pearly purple liquid in it. Severus double checked the label. Powdered Runespoor eggs, for greater mental clarity, crushed scarab beetles to sharpen the wit, chamomile to soothe, and other things to make up the calming draught.

He took out the stopper, let the little cloud of light purple steam dissipate, and then tipped three drops into one of the tea cups. He recapped the bottle and replaced it in the cabinet, making sure the locks were secure before returning to the tea.

He poured both cups, then dropped his usual two lumps of sugar into his cup. “How many?” he asked, tapping the sugar bowl with the little sugar cube pincher. The woman looked at the sugar blankly for a moment.

“Whatever.”

Snape sighed. American’s spoke like they’d never learned how to articulate past the age of fifteen. He didn’t understand how a person was ever to be taken seriously if they subjugated themselves to word’s like ‘yeah,’ ‘whatever,’ and ‘sure.’

He put three sugars in the tea, to cover the taste of the draught, then handed the woman the cup. She took the little spoon he offered next and stirred her tea, which promptly sent up a cloud of pearlescent purple.

“There’s something wrong with my tea,” she said, staring down at the cup.

“I have infused it with a calming draught,” Snape explained, sipping his own.

“But, I didn’t want you to.”

“I thought perhaps it would aid you, to finish – ”

“Is every British person so totally insufferable?” the woman asked, cutting him off. She set down her cup as if she it might explode on her and pinned Snape with her gaze. “I don’t know what’s in that stuff, what if I’m allergic, what if I don’t want to be calmed?”

“So you prefer,” replied Snape evenly as he sat back in his chair, “to be upset, stressed and frazzled. How long Miss le Sarte, do you think it will take you to collect your sister’s things in such a state? I personally, have other things to do with my day than wait for you to pull it together.”

The woman was silent for a long moment before she said succinctly, “Professor, you’re an asshole.”

“Drink your tea, Miss le Sarte,” Snape replied evenly.

She did, in one gulp before slamming her cup down on the desk again. She then sat in the chair, her breathing low and shallow. She watched him, at first wearily and then as her eyes cleared and Snape wondered what she was seeing. A man in his early thirties, with a long draw nose, deep set eyes round chin. He had noticed just recently, that he’d developed some where along the way, a deep thinking line almost perfectly between his eyes. He was not classically good looking, or even uncommonly attractive. His face was etched in bitterness, he knew that well.

A small soft snore brought Snape’s attention back to focus and he saw with chagrin
that the woman had fallen asleep, her head lolled back, her eyes closed. Her lashes her were darker than her mousy brown hair, and they rest like fans on the pink freckled pillows of her cheeks.

Damn it all. Fool woman.


He stood up from his chair, silently pushing it back, trying not to wake the woman. He wasn’t sure why he should care if she woke or not, being that she was the one who tossed back the calming draught as if it were hard liquor.

Meant to be sipped, should have told her. She’s not from here, couldn’t have known.
Snape moved around the edge of his desk, weak sunlight peaking through the ground level windows to stream through various bottles and jars, sending shafts of yellow, red and orange light across the room. It fell across the woman almost reverently, and Snape went still. Even if she had drunk too much, the draught had done the trick. Her face was lean with sleep, her body relaxed. She looked unfettered, completely gone of whatever had happened to her to make her eyes turn hard as they had been, to crush her small mouth toward spinsterhood.

She’s too young to look like she’s given up.

He leaned against the desk, picking up the edge of his robe from the floor. She looked like her sister, but in small ways. Snape remembered that Maggie has been rather clumsy, but charming nonetheless.

She laughed, all the time, as if the world weren’t meant to be taken so seriously.


Toward the end, she hadn’t laughed so much, but she hadn’t stopped smiling. It didn’t take a genius, Snape thought as he folded his hands in his lap, to see that the girl was fading in some very essential way. No one had known she was so sick.

“I am sorry,” Snape said to the sleeping woman.

Chapter 3: Not Entirely Bad Looking
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Chapter Three-

Genera smacked her lips, tasting a strange dusty cotton flavor in her mouth. She
stretched, feeling deliciously languid. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept so well. The sheets felt crisp and light against her skin. She could feel the pillow under her head, and turned her face into the fabric, rolling onto her belly. There was a scent caught up in the pillow case, something nice, masculine and herby.

As she pulled her leg up toward her middle, the sensation of clean bed clothes against her skin a trembling pleasure, Genera sighed. If she were honest with her self (and she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to be that awake yet) she knew she wasn’t in her own bed. These weren’t her sheets, this scent wasn’t one she knew well at all. But she liked it. Like the space she sprawled out in, like the firm mattress against her belly.

Genera did feel good, like she’d just had a really good drunk or great sex.

Steve never smells this nice. His bed’s never this comfortable either and I never woke up feeling so damn good after a night with him.

It’d been so long since she’d just slept, deep and dreamlessly, so long since she’d let her body rest and relax. She didn’t want to open her eyes, didn’t want to sit up and face the world. There were things she had to do, though at the moment they seemed far off and kind of unimportant.

Genera snuggled deeper into the soft pillow, breathing in as deep as she could the scent that belonged to who’s ever bed it was that she was in. The scent had both strength and fragility, something cool and tempered.

Genera heard a loud sniff, and cracked one eye open. Then she screamed.

The thing screamed back.

“Dizzy!”

Genera sat up, the sheet and light coverlet falling down to her waist. She looked first at the professor standing at the end of the bed, wand at ready, then at her self. She was wearing some one’s long sleeved, wide necked night shirt.

“Master, Dizzy didn’t mean nothing,” said the thing and Genera squeak, scrambling to the opposite side of the bed. “She were sleeping so, I didn’t thinks I’d wake her, never seen a muggle-one you know.”

“Yes, Dizzy, thank you,” said Snape, waving his wand dismissively. Genera clutched the unbuttoned edges of her night shirt about her throat, glancing from the teacher to the gray unholy looking horror that had woken her up.

“What is it?” she asked, her body pulling back.

“My house-elf,” said Professor Snape.

“I’s every bit o’sorry Miss, I am,” said the thing, bobbing around on spindly little legs. It wouldn’t have been bigger than an over fed cat, Genera saw, with gray wrinkled skin and a head like a bobble-toy. It had wide almost black eyes and a very crooked nose and seemed to be wearing what appeared to be a large tea-pot cozy. “Dizzy meant nothing, not nothing at all.”

“Dizzy, to breakfast,” the professor said shortly. Genera watched him roll his thin wand around in his hand.

What was he going to do, poke it to death?

“I’m in your bed,” she said after a moment, “aren’t I?”

“You are.”

Genera swallowed. It was his scent then. She brushed a hand with a dropping sleeve against her itching nose. She could smell him on her skin. Her throat felt very tight all of the sudden.

“Your night gown?” she asked, holding her arm out from which dripped the too-long sleeve.

“Indeed.”

“What happened?”

“You fell asleep,” the professor replied, glancing around as the little (what did he call it? house elf?) scuttled past him out of the room. “After you had your tea,” Professor Snape added, gingerly lowering him self down onto the edge of the bed. The motion seemed unnatural for him though, because he stood up immediately.

“Right,” Genera drew out, swallowing the lump in her throat, “you gave me that stuff, that syrup stuff.”

“It was a calming draught,” the man replied, tucking his wand back into a fold of his cloak. Genera blinked, noticing that like before, he was dressed in all black. He wore close fitting trousers and a fitted shirt that buttoned up the front to the neck. Over all that he wore the omni-present cloak of billowing black. His hair seemed brushed now though and it fell just to the shoulders in uncomplicated waves.

He’s not entirely bad looking.

Oh god, you don’t know what your say –

But he’s actually attractive.

I’m tired, I need to go home. Normality.


“Of course,” the professor was saying on, “it wasn’t meant to be taken tumbler fulls at a time like some kind of drunkard on a bender.”

Genera shivered and gathered the blankets up around her again. “The last time I got drunk, for your information,” she said with a painful sigh, “was when my parent’s died, a year ago. I hadn’t had a drink since then until... Oh no, what day is it?”

“Tuesday.”

“I’ve been out that long?” Genera threw the blankets aside and shakily got out of the bed. Her hair was down, tangled about her face and this she pushed out of the way distractedly. “I missed my trained! My ticket, the plane.”

“You were solidly out,” the teacher said evenly. He stood a little back from the bed, watching with mild interest as Genera caste around for her missing clothes.

“Where’s my socks?” she asked, plucking her pants from the back of a chair. “These have been steamed.”

“Indeed.”

Another thought occurred to Genera as she located her blouse. “Did you...?”

“Only your shirt and pants,” Professor Snape replied, pulling back. He face was guarded now, hard. “Madam Pomfry left for her holiday two day’s ago, there was no one else.”

“I can’t believe I missed my fight,” Genera said, setting her clothes on the bed and collapsing next to them. She felt hungry, shaky and cold around the edges.

“I didn’t revive you because you seemed to need the rest,” said the man from near the door. Genera hadn’t even heard him walk away.

Kinda like a bat but without the bug fetish.

“I’m going to have to re-book everything,” she said, grimacing at the whine in her voice.

“Yes, well, all is not lost then.”

Genera looked at the man in disbelief.

“None of this would have happened if you hadn’t drugged me!”

“I assure you,” Snape bit off calculatingly, “I didn’t drug you.”

“Oh yeah?” Genera snapped back.

“If I had drugged you Miss le Sarte,” Professor Snape drew out, “it wouldn’t have been for a peaceful uninterrupted sleep.” He glanced meaningly at the night shirt she wore. His night shirt. Genera swallowed, something in her belly going hot and tight at the same time.

“As it is, now you have plenty of time to settle your sister’s estate. There’s toast and tea in my office, when your ready.”

Genera didn’t reply, watching the man stride out the room and set the door carefully closed behind him.

She dressed, surprised to find the purse she’d left in the little receiving room set gently on the night stand near the bed. The room was positively mediaeval, all stone and fragile broken light. All the available walls were set with shelves which were packed with books and bottles and boxes. The bed was on a raised dais in middle of the room, the headboard set against the back wall of stone.

There were candelabra scattered about on random surfaces (a shelf near thin slitted windows that seemed to be flush with the ground) a rounded table in the left corner, the seat of a chair. The scent of candle wax and damp stone though, couldn’t over power the professor’s scent.

Genera opened her purse, peering clumsily into the little lipstick mirror she always kept with her. It wasn’t enough for her to brush her hair, or wash her face with one of her antibacterial clothes. She caste around for a mirror, and noticed a little one sat on top of the dresser by the door.

Genera pulled on her socks then padded across the room, peering at her face in the dusky glass. She looked puffy from sleep, and scattered. She had no brush with her, so she picked out the tangles in her hair with her fingers, trying to get it to look less frenzied.

On top of the dresser were the average male things, then some. Cufflinks (silver, with an ‘S’ inscribed on them) and a comb. There was also a bottle of weird green liquid that looked like it was moving in the bottle, and a round box of powder. Genera was just turning away when she caught movement, and there peaking from just under the edge of the mirror was a faded photograph. Genera pulled it out from under the mirror stand.

It looked to be taken from a distance, but the obvious focus was a woman, young like her self, but pretty, much prettier. She was in a crowd standing next a fellow with black hair, an easy smile and glasses. The woman was talking at first to this fellow, then turned, looked directly at the photographer, and waved.

Genera flipped the photograph over. Lily was scribbled on the back in tight black ink.
The edges of the photograph were worn, as if it had been handled often. She flipped it over again, watching as the woman looked up at the man beside her.

She’s in love with him, really in love with him. But it can’t be the professor. What’s the deal here?

With a sigh Genera replaced the photograph as she’d found it, her fingers trailing over the comb and a black crumpled up scarf. After a moment she picked this up, and held it to her nose. The scent was the same as that of the pillow case.

I don’t get it, its wonderful.

Genera replaced the scarf, feeling for a moment like some kind of Peeping Tom. She couldn’t describe in exact words how it had felt waking up with the professor’s scent in her nose.

Safe though, like coming home or something.

Genera dug out one of her wet naps and cleaned off her face. She never wore much make-up, but even so it felt good to have clean skin. She sighed for a bit of face lotion, then settled on some hotel-bottle hand cream. She reapplied the little bit of mascara she always wore, and gave her lips some color. There was nothing to be done with her hair, so she pulled and twisted it into a tight bun at the back of her neck and secured it in place with a pen. The end result was...her. Genera peered at her self for a bit longer.

Me, average me. No one would keep a photograph of me for years on end. Beautiful woman inspire beautiful gestures and average woman inspire...

Genera didn’t finish the thought, instead putting on her shoes and straightening up the bed. She then grabbed her little purse and left the bedroom, shutting the door behind her quietly.

“Your tea is cold,” said the professor from behind her. Genera whipped around, pressing her back to the door as if she’d been up to something.

“Oh,” she said, taking in the office. It was bigger than she’d first seen, with a large desk and two chairs off to one end. There were cabinets and shelves packed into the space too, giving the office the feel of a well used busy place. There was also a small fireplace set against the wall that, she assumed, would have been the back wall of the class room. This burned low and merry in the grate, giving warmth to the space. The only cleared area was where Professor Snape was sitting at a round table which had two un-matching chairs. There was a square floor rug of deep maroon underneath it.

“Good morning,” she said, pulling out the spare chair. The professor glanced up at her from behind what appeared to be a newspaper, except that the picture on the front was moving. The headline read, “Dragon sighting over Bristol, Ministry of Magic scrambles and Memory-Modification Charms used.” The picture was of a young boy and his mother outside what appeared to be a country cottage surrounded by reporters, both pointing at the sky. Oddly enough, they were the most normal thing Genera had seen since leaving New York.

She blew out a breath, catching a strand of hair off her face as she pulled a tea cup and the tea-pot too her. She doctored the strange colored tea and took a tentative sip.

“This is wonderful,” she said, taking another drink. The brew was lukewarm, but the flavor was soft and sharp at the same time; herby and fruity.

“Egyptian chamomile and essence of cranberry,” said Professor Snape, putting his paper aside. He set to buttering what looked like a compacted English muffin. Genera realized it was a crumpet, she’d had one the other morning at her hotel. She hadn’t liked it, but this morning she was hungry so she slathered butter and jam over the top of it and downed it with more tea. She and the professor ate in silence for a little, the only sound being the ticking of a clock some where the occasional snap of the fire.

“This is really good tea,” Genera said after while. She wasn’t sure what to talk about. She chased possible topics for conversation around her head like a kid might chase after spilt marbles, but every time she picked one up, she’d toss it away.

The most normal thing they’d done together was have breakfast. Genera didn’t let her self think about what other activities they could do together that would be normal. It seemed, she realized after a moment, that everything that had happened between them had been weird and prickly.

How ‘bout, “Hey, you’ve got a great bed, I’ll bet you sleep like a baby every night.” Or maybe, “Loved the night shirt, very comfy.”

“Did you know Maggie well? Was she really happy here”

“What store did you get it from? I mean, the tea,” she asked instead with a sigh. Professor Snape glanced at her from across the table, his eyes lingering on her face for the barest moment.

“It’s a wizard’s brew, you wouldn’t be able to find it.”

“Oh, right,” Genera replied stupidly. She shrugged her shoulders then pushed her half-eaten crumpet away. “Well, I guess I should,” – she took a bracing breath – “ you know, finish my sister’s room.” She dusted off her hands and stood up.

“The password is Quaffle,” Professor Snape said as he stirred more sugar into his tea, “I assume you can find the door on your own? I have some things that I need to attend to this morning.”

“Oh yeah,” Genera sighed, not entirely sure at all. “Waffle, I got it.”

“No Miss le Sarte,” paused Snape, “Quaffle, qua-ffle.”

“I knew that,” Genera said, shaking her head with a chagrined smile, “I was teasing you. You’re really serious in the morning.”

“And you snore,” he replied without effect. Genera wanted to laugh, but couldn’t quite manage it.

“I know, Steve say’s it really annoying, he hates it.”

“Steve?”

“My boyfriend, he lives in Manhattan.”

“Uh-uh.”

Genera shifted on her feet, but it seemed the conversation was over. She nodded once to no one in particular then turned at left. She hollowly clumped her way through the class room and after some trouble ( facing two different nondescript walls while muttering ‘quaffle’) she found the Slytherin dormitories and her sister’s room once more.

Chapter 4: A Hollow Shell
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Chapter Four-

Severus sat at the table a bit longer than he should, holding himself still and silent while Dizzy came and went, cleaning away breakfast and straightening his bedroom. He wondered as he listened to the house-elf putter around, what his bed looked liked when she wasn’t it.

Like any other bed that’s been slept in you fool.

Snape didn’t think he’d ever be able to fully erase the image of the woman so perfectly and carelessly asleep though, from his mind. She’d be there forever, preserved in that handful of moments he had allowed himself to watch her sleep. He’d never seen a woman like that before. Oh, there had been woman (well, two) but he’d been younger and it hadn’t been at Hogwarts and they’d never spent the whole night in his bed.

And some how this morning he couldn’t seem to summon the anger he’d felt yesterday at Minerva for having saddled the girl with him.

She’s not really a girl though. She just looks more like one when she’s asleep.
Wonder if she found the boxes.


Severus stood up then, brushing crumbs from his lap. He noticed that the woman (le Sarte, a French name. She doesn’t look French) hadn’t eaten much, just picked at her crumpet though she’d downed three cups of his tea. He had been strangely pleased that she’d like it. It was his own concoction. He only drank it in the mornings and only on mornings when he felt like he needed a little extra push in the right direction.

Severus sighed, moving away from the table. He wasn’t entirely sure what to do with him self. It was the second, no third, day of the summer holiday break and he’d been looking forward to it all term long. Summer at Hogwarts was perhaps the best time to be at the castle. The dormitories were empty, the halls silent, the grounds left pristine and unmolested by grubby youthful hands.

He got his best work done during the summer. No interruption, no distractions.
Except for today. Today Severus Snape felt very distracted, completely distracted. He kept picturing her. He wondered if this Steve fellow ever noticed the way Genera’s hair seemed to bounce around her face when she talked, or how it seemed that she preferred to sleep on her stomach.

Merlin’s beard, you are a fool. She’s a muggle, a complicated unhappy and confused woman. She won’t stay.

She can’t.

She won’t.


Severus swallowed. He took a deep breath and leaned against the edge of the table. He thought about the packing boxes he’d left for Genera, thought about how if he were thinking of her, he wouldn’t be thinking or worrying about other things and she was certainly more pleasing to the eye then Dizzy, who was pretty much the only other living soul Severus encountered during the summer on a regular basis. Oh, every once in a while Hagrid would be around to be bumped into, and sometimes Dumbledore would make an appearance, but for the most part, Hogwarts in the summer was an empty and silent shell of its self.

A hollow empty shell. There is commonality in all things.

You’re contradicting your self, hollow and empty.




Genera returned to him three hours later. Her eyes were red and puffy, her face smudged with dirt and the cool creamy blouse she’d worn the day before was now missing the top three buttons.

“I’m starving,” she said by way of greeting. She settled her self against one of the desk’s near Snape’s own in the front of the empty classroom. He’d been carefully categorizing the bottles in the cabinet behind his desk in the office (he wanted to be sure all the bottles were correctly labeled, just in case) and had come looking for more labeling parchment when she’d come walking into the room.

“I got everything packed,” she said with a gusty sigh. “I just need packing tape and something to eat.”

“Dizzy can see to that,” Snape replied evenly. He set down the little stack of labels he’d located and brushed his hair back from his face. “I also had him prepare lunch. We can eat in the Great Hall.”

“He’s a busy guy, uh.”

“He’s a house-elf,” Snape replied with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Right.” Genera shrugged. She seemed at a lost for anything more to say and Snape was quiet clearly reminded that the woman for all intents and purposes, was a fish out of water. He sighed, glanced around his class room then stepped out from behind his desk.

“Shall we?”

Genera nodded and wordlessly followed him out of the room.

“You said your father is a wizard, yes?” Snape walked slowly so that the woman would keep pace with him. She glanced up at him, her brow furrowed.

“Yes, he married my mother when he was twenty-four. He didn’t care that she was...what’s that word you use?”

“Muggle?”

“Yeah, that. He didn’t care, I guess. He left England for her, but they were happy together. When he realized that Mag’s” – she paused, swallowing tightly – “was like him, he said he wanted her to go to the same school he had when he was a kid. He wanted to move back, but Mom said no, said she didn’t want to leave me. Sometimes I think she was the only one...”

“What?” Snape stopped at the foot of the stairs leading to the Great Hall. Genera glanced around them but she seemed distracted. She rubbed her neck, her mouth pressed in thought.

“Well, Mom just never forgot about me. It was easy for Dad to become completely focused on Maggie, because they were both, you know, magical.” She said this last as if it were some kind of joke that she didn’t really mean. “I mean, I was just...normal.”

“Indeed,” Severus replied. He started up the stairs, trying to imagine what it would have been like, to be the abnormal one in the family. That’s how he viewed it though. A non-magical person was the one out of role, apart from things. But for Genera, he thought on, her sister and father would have seemed like the aberrations to her neat and tidy world.

“Wow,” she breathed and Snape stopped. She was looking up at the ceiling of the Great Hall, her neck craned back.

“Its bewitched to mirror the sky outside,” Snape explained, his mouth twitching in what might have been a smile.

“Must be a nice day,” the woman replied, glancing at him. Snape looked up, taking in the great gobs of puffy white clouds against a blue background. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been really surprised by anything at Hogwarts. He spent so much time there, what was strange and wonderful to outsiders had become normal and mundane to him.

“Yes, I suppose so,” he murmured. “Perhaps you’d like to walk the grounds?”

“Oh, I uh,” Genera hedged, “should really get to a phone and re-book my flight and everything. Now that Maggie’s stuff is packed, I guess I should be getting back. I hadn’t really planned on staying.”

“Of course, of course,” he replied.

Severus swallowed as he lead the woman up the long line of dining tables. Sunlight gleamed off their scarred and used surfaces, warming the open and stretching space. One table near the door toward the kitchens was set for two. There was a large soup tureen, bowls and silver wear. There was also a jug of what had to be pumpkin juice and a large salad bowl.

“You’ll have to wait though,” he added as he paused at the head of the table, “until you’ve gotten back, to use any muggle devices. The like don’t work here, too much magic.”

“So no phone?” Genera asked, gingerly seating her self.

“There are no such devices here,” Snape said.

“Worlds apart,” the woman said with another heavy sigh Snape was beginning to associate her with.

He ignored the comment though, filling their bowls with steaming vegetable soup and setting salad out on salad plates. He poured Genera some pumpkin juice then watched from under his lashes as the woman wordlessly tucked into her meal. She was a careful eater, gently stirring her soup before sampling it. Her face lit up with surprise and then hunger.

Snape dipped into his own bowl, thankful for the warmth of the soup. His hands were cold, always cold.

“Food doesn’t taste like this at home,” Genera said with a wave of her salad fork. “This is really good. I mean, uncomplicated but really good.”

“You like uncomplicated?” Snape asked from across his soup bowl. Genera glanced up with surprise. She looked at him for a long moment, her face softening, wondering.

“Depends,” she said, swallowing. “Complicated can be...diverting.”

“And messy.”

“That too,” she agreed with a negligent shrug. She put down her fork and settled back on the bench. “But sometimes its worth it.” She waited for Snape to respond. She was watching him closely, her celebration of the food forgotten. “Sometimes you need messy in your life, to better appreciate things when they are good and simple.”

“Do you miss them?” Snape asked, his own food forgotten. Genera’s face changed, moving from interested query to guarded honesty.

“Yeah, every day.”

“I was...surprised, when your sister died. She’d been sick for a while, yes?”

“How did you know that?” Genera asked, tilting her head. “She didn’t want me to tell anyone, she just wanted to enjoy the time she had left.”

“I don’t understand,” Snape said, pushing his soup bowl out of the way so he could lean forward, “what was wrong with her?”

“She had brain cancer, totally inoperable. It was just a matter of time. The doctors gave her six-months, maybe more, at the beginning of the term. I was surprised too, that she...” Genera’s voice broke and she looked away, blinking hard.

“Why didn’t you take her to St. Mungo’s?” Snape asked, leaning forward.

“St. what’s?”

“St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.”

“A wizard’s hospital?” Genera asked, sliding out from bench. “What, wizard’s are suppose to cure what regular doctors can’t?”

“Your sister was a witch, Genera, she could have – ”

“She didn’t want that Professor,” Genera replied tightly, her face drawn. “She saw my mom go through the treatment, the chemo and radiation, she didn’t want that. She wanted to just be normal, to be happy. Here,” she added, swinging her arm wide to encompass the Great Hall. “She said she wanted to be at school, instead of with me, so I let her go. And she died here, alone.”

Genera then turned on heel and walked briskly away from Snape and their lunch.

Chapter 5: Lake Monsters
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Chapter Five-

Genera would have killed for a tissue. She had left her purse in Snape’s office and she wasn’t about to go back there and that was if she could even find her way back. As it was, Genera was mostly content to stay as far away from the professor as she could. She didn’t want to have to look into his face again, because she knew that if she did, she wouldn’t stay angry with him and right now angry felt good, it self normal and safe; anger was something she knew well. She understood it, the way it could be substituted for strength when there was no strength left to be had. Anger could be succor, in its own bitter way. Anger had gotten her on the plane in the first place, and it would get her home.

But Genera wasn’t entirely sure what had happened in between all that. She wasn’t sure when exactly her guards had come down. Some time after the professor had drugged her.

He didn’t drug you. He thought he was helping.

Yeah, that was a great help!

You woke up feeling wonderful though, remember?

I’m a fool.


Genera gave another great sniff as she cleared the tears from under her eyes. She was sure her mascara was running and that her nose was all puffy and red again. She had thought, after she’d closed up the last box in Maggie’s room that she was done crying.

All cried out.


Wind blew softly against the back of Genera’s neck. She’d wondered down toward the lake which shone now like a great opaque puddle of ink. Little waves sighed up onto the rock strew shore and in the distance strands of cotton white clouds clung to the higher peaks surrounding the valley that housed the castle.

The sky was high and blue, the trees impossibly green and full. Genera could hear birds calling and every once in a while a stranger noise would penetrate the sunny silence from within the forest that stretched out beyond the castle. Genera could just make out the green hem of it behind the sharp spires and towers of Hogswort if she turned around on her rock.

Genera wiped her nose with the sleeve of her shirt.

I can always change when I get back to the hotel.

I wonder what wizard’s use for tissues. Magical-snot absorbing hankies?


“Genera.”

She turned slowly, the roughness of the rock digging into her thigh. The professor closed the distance between them and held out a pristine white kerchief. His face was clouded, dark eyes pinched against the glare of the sun off the water.
Genera took the kerchief without comment and turned away, blowing her nose. “Its not bewitched or something?”

“If it were I’d have charmed it keep hysterical woman from yelling at me.”

“I didn’t yell at you,” Genera replied, spinning around atop her rock. She figured she wasn’t the first to use the great round stone as a seat. She’d kicked off her shoes, pulled off her over-priced stocking socks and rolled up the hem of her dress slacks.
“You did, actually,” the professor replied slowly. He had clasped his hands behind his back and now rocked back on his heels. “And I think you had every right too,” he added after a moment. “I was being insensitive.”

Genera nodded at him as she squinted up at him. Professor Snape raised an eyebrow inquiringly. Genera pursed her lips with a sigh. She didn’t say anything and after a moment she turned back toward the lake.

“Can you swim in it?” she asked, brushing her hair off her shoulder.

“You could,” the teacher replied. Genera felt the corners of her mouth turn up. She hadn’t noticed before, but the professor had a particular way of speaking. He ground down the end of his words even as the sound of his voice made it seem like a rich smooth transition. And what he felt or thought, came out at the end of each sentence.

“Uh-uh.”

“Of course, your risk our lake monster.”

“Seriously?” Genera asked, glancing at him.

“It has tentacles.” The professor’s mouth turned up slightly as if any minute he was about to smile. “I’ve only ever seen it once.”

“A lake monster.”

“And merpeople, among other things.”

“This is a strange world you live in Professor Snape.”

“Severus,” he said as he tucked his hands into the sleeves of his robe.

“You’re name is Severus Snape?” Genera asked, actually breaking into a grin.

“Really?”

“Indeed,” the man replied, looking down at her. Genera shook her head, holding back her bangs that the wind kept blowing into her face.

“No, you look like a Joseph maybe, or a Henrik. Alan even.”

“I’ve haven’t always liked the name,” Severus replied evenly as he turned his attention back toward the water. “I’m more fond of it now than I was in my youth.”

“How old are you now?” Genera asked, leaning toward him. The professor looked down at her, his eyes moving from her face to her bare feet and rolled up pant legs.

“Older than you,” he replied. Genera sniffed, pressing the kerchief to her nose again.

“I’m sorry I yelled.”

“I’m sorry I upset you. I’m not very...” Genera watched Snape as he searched around for the right word. He finally shrugged, the wind blowing his dark hair around his face.

“I’m not good with people.”

“Its not you,” Genera told him quickly, “its this whole thing. Its just, a bad time for me.”

“Of course.”

“I mean, I just, I would have never come here, if... If Maggie hadn’t died.” Genera couldn’t look any where but at her hands as she said this. She twisted the kerchief in her fingers, the scent of gummy lake water and pine sap thick in the air. “I don’t belong – here, and I would have never really considered visiting or anything. Mom and Dad, that’s what they were there for, you know?” She glanced at the professor. He was watching her with hooded eyes, waiting for her to continue. His pale skin looked all the finer against the sun on his black hair. He had almost wide features, like nose and eyes and lips were all just a little too generous. The combination was strangely inviting and even a little exotic.

“I don’t even want to go back home, either,” Genera said. She stopped speaking, surprised by her own words. A crow belted out a long line of calls that echoed and bounced off the lake. It was the truth. What was left for her back in the city? An over-priced cramped apartment, a spider plant that was probably already dying because Steve didn’t have a maternal instinct in his whole body? Bills, holidays without family left to celebrate them, promotions and ever rising gas prices? Empty. It all seemed terribly empty.

“Why?”

“Uh?”

“You don’t want to go home, why?”

Genera shook her head, sniffing. “Cause there’s just not much left for me there. I’m selling my parent’s house, and the realtor called the day I left to tell me the sale was finally going through, so that’ll be gone by the time I get back. And Steve...”
Severus shifted, brushing the edge of his robe out of the way. He sat a lean hip against the edge of the boulder Genera was sitting on, his arms crossed over his chest.

“So what happened?” Genera asked, desperate to change the subject, “when you saw the lake monster?”

“Oh, I was in a boat,” Severus said on an exhale, coming back to the moment. “I got...shoved, over the side,” he went on, his mouth turning down. “It was cold and I didn’t really know how to swim, and I thought they’d leave me in the water when they started shouting and making a great deal of noise, and that’s when I saw it, a very large” — here he glanced down at Genera — “black tentacle.”

“...and?”

“And they pulled me back into the boat and told everyone afterwards that they’d saved me from a terrible death.”

“But they pushed you in in the first place.”

“Indeed,” Severus agreed. “I had an...unhappy youth.”

“Were you scared?” Genera asked, tucking her leg underneath her.

“Through much of it, yes, I suppose I was,” the professor admitted. He was looking at
Genera with a quiet and humble intensity.

“I uh, meant when you were in the lake,” she qualified, not sure what else to say. Severus pulled back, not in insult but with measured surprise.

“Of course,” he replied with a smile. “Wouldn’t have you been?”

“Oh hell yes,” she laughed, relieved that the tension of the moment had passed. “I don’t want the Loche Ness Monster nibbling at my feet!”

“You laugh just like your sister,” said Professor Snape.

Genera closed her mouth, feeling her mirth flow from her like water down a drain. What bubbled up in its place was sorrow, so deep and fast and cold it took her breath from her so that she gave a little gasping sob.

Gone.

She looked up at Severus through a veil of fast tears, her face lax, her body desperate and exhausted. Then he kissed her.

It wasn’t pushy, but it was needy. He pressed his mouth to hers, exhaling against her lips, his fingers tangling in her hair. She could smell his scent all the more clearly, felt her own body press toward his even as her lips parted. He tasted the way the sunlight had turned white and glinting on the lake water, hard and bright and cold.

Severus started to pull away, but Genera laced her arms around his neck, going up on her knees to better, closer fit her lips against his. He was breathing hard, searching hard with his tongue, filling up her with Egyptian chamomile and essence of cranberry.

Chapter 6: A Bad Idea
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Chapter Six-

Severus pulled back, gasping for air. He wanted to kiss her again, as if Genera le Sarte had suddenly become air, but he didn’t.

“What?” she asked, her own breath quick and shallow. Her mouth was swollen, her lips red.

“I think I shouldn’t have done that,” Severus said, his hands running up Genera’s arms. “Perhaps it was a bad idea; this is a bad idea.”

“I’m all for bad ideas,” the young woman replied. She laced her hands closer about his neck, her fingers trailing under his hair. He was never so aware of the base of his spine, or the way a woman’s touch could go straight to his gut then at that moment.

“Be a gentlemen if you want,” Genera said on, nuzzling his neck, her voice moist and warm against his skin, “but I’m not letting you walk away.”

“...Genera.”

“Please,” she breathed, resting her mouth against the pulse of his heart. She pressed her chest against his chest, her knees against against his knees. She swayed with him, against hi. Severus felt dizzy, he clutched at her to keep his balance.

“I’m not asking for much.” Severus tried remained still, his fingers clamped around her wrists.

“You’re asking for everything,” he said, letting his head fall back on his spine. He closed his eyes tight, feeling sunlight on his eyelids.

Genera moved then, shifting her body away from him a little. He could feel her hot needling gaze on his face even as cool air rushed in between them. “No, I’m not,” she insisted. “I don’t want you to love me, or promise me more time than just this afternoon.”

“Genera – ”

“I’ve been so cold for so long Severus,” she said, pressing her face against his throat. “I don’t wanna be cold, not right now.”

Severus very gently but firmly stepped out of the circle of Genera’s arms. She let them fall to her sides. With back straight she sat on her knees watching him with wide plain blue eyes from her perch on the rock.

“I’m glad you kissed me,” she said after a moment, almost defiantly. “It felt good to be kissed like that.”

“Like what?”

Why? Why did you ask?

Fool.

Don’t answer.

Like what...


“Like it mattered,” she said, her voice breaking. He could see her eyes become bright with tears. “Like it was the best and only thing that mattered. No one’s ever kissed me like that before.”

“I’ve never...kissed a woman--like you before. I’m... I’m in love with another woman Genera, I couldn’t ever want you that way.”

“I don’t want to be wanted that way,” she shrugged.

She doesn’t want it to mean more than it does.

What does it mean any way?


“Severus.”

He shook his head.

"Please."

And so he  took her to bed.

He held her hand as he guided her up to the castle and slowed his pace as they climbed the stairs to the Great Hall and squeezed her hand when they pasted the Sytherin dormitories. He didn’t let himself think any further than the next step, the sensation of her fingers interlaced with his. It was better than close, the way she brushed her thumb across his finger, better than real when he looked up at him, giving him a watery smile.

And when he’d locked the door to his bedroom and she began carefully unbuttoning her blouse because his fingers were too clumsy and worried, it was better than anything he’d imagined, because it was happening and he could taste it, touch it.

He did touch her, gingerly and reverently. His skimmed his fingers down along the fine line of her cheek, rested his palm against her heart, kissed her mouth and learned the line of her hip, the hollow at the back of her knee.

But Genera le Sarte was perhaps an impatient lover, ever ready in her need. She almost shied away from his gentleness, and demanded something else instead; his strength, his own need and maybe...yes, maybe his anger as well.

She said she’s been cold. I know cold well.

Afterwards she didn’t cling to him, but sprawled across him. Severus wanted to gather her up, keep her skin on his for as long as possible but Genera clearly didn’t want or desire it. She trembled across him, but didn’t ask him to cover her worried chills.
He could taste her in his finger tips, hear her on his lips.

I’m infected. Are all woman like this? A terrible thing that digs deep down never to be removed fully?

I won’t forget, I don’t think I could.


“Could I stay?” she said after a long while, “maybe tonight? Its late any way,” she added, rolling over onto her back, her head turned toward him. “No sense in going now.”

“Are you hungry?”

“Yeah, starving.”

“I’ll get something,” he said, rolling away from her. He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, away from her nakedness but completely aware of his. He rested his elbows on his thighs, head hung down so that his hair was like a curtain, effectively cutting out Genera le Sarte.

He didn’t sniff the hot wet that trailed down his cheek and pooled at the corners of his mouth, but licked the tears away, tasting his own salt like it was the most bitter gall. And then he laughed. It seemed ridiuclious, he stood up swiftly, the air cold on his skin and laughed.

"What?" she asked from the bed, pulling the rumbled bed clothes to her. "What is it?"

Severus shook his head, he kept his back to her as he pulled on an old dressing gown, roughly scrubbing his face clean with his hands. The laughter died him in as swiftly as it had bloomed, and finally he turned and look at her.

"I didn't expect this."

Genera gave him a cool, if not familair, smile. "And I did?" she asked with a bare shouldered shrug.

Chapter 7: Sincere Desire
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Chapter Seven-

Genera was still awake long after Severus had fallen asleep. They hadn’t had sex again, but she had let her self be held by him. Even now his arms wrapped around her body in an almost vice grip, as if he were afraid she would slip away in the dark.

And that was exactly what Genera wanted to do.

God, I’m so stupid. He was right, he knew it was a mistake and I talked him into it any way. Now I wanna leave and he’ll hate me for it.

I hate me for it.


The castle was painfully silent in the wee-hours. Genera could have counted sheep by the even and deep pacing of the professor’s breath and by the hateful steady beat of her own heart.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four.


She shifted where she lay on her side, her bottom snuggled up against the spoon of Severus’s body. The scent of their afternoon together still lingered in the room, if not on them. Afterwards Severus had found some bread and cheese, a good dark beer and some left-over roast beef and then he’d taken her to an upper-level bathroom where he ran her the biggest bubble bath Genera had ever seen.

Though she’d been grateful for the soak (the tub was big enough to do laps across and an array of strange bright copper taps reached out over the surface of the bath tub like eager little fingers just waiting for her to float by) she hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that she was some how cheating the teacher.

I just don’t know what of.


They’d talked a little then. Snape had carefully lounged at the rim of the tub and Genera had floated in the water, her arms prompted up over the lip of the bath. They’d swapped stories about school as a child. Genera had been unsurprised to hear that Snape had attended Hogwarts himself as a boy, that the school was as close to a home as he’d ever come across.

And he’s shown mild if polite interest in Genera’s education, high school and college. He didn’t ask about Steve, or her sister, or her parents but he had asked what she did to make a living.

“I’m a lay-out editor for a little home-harth magazine,” she’d told him. “Its nothing big, but I’m happy doing it.”

“Did you always want to be such an editor?”

“No,” she’d said, blowing at a pillow of bubbles on her elbow. “I just kind of came into it.”

“Things must be very strange here for you,” he’d said then, peering at her in the dim light. Candles oddly enough, floated up around the ceiling of the bath room, throwing shivering pools of light around them. “I can’t imagine what it would be like, to have my self suddenly thrust into your world.”

“Yeah,” Genera had replied with a sigh, “it’d be weird.”

She’d spent the better part of the last hour since, trying to picture Snape in her world. In her apartment, sporting his billowing black cloak and stalking around the cramped space of the high rise bewitching the spider plant into healthy happiness and flushing the toilet with a flick of his wand. She tried picturing him with the same familiarity she knew Steve.

Severus driving a low-emissions sedan, picking up a ham and rye for lunch, going to a ninja movie for a Friday night date. Severus standing at a crosswalk, talking into a cell phone while he waited for the light to change, reading the Sunday newspaper over coffee.

And then Genera saw Severus as he’d been that morning, with the tea cup dwarfed by his gentle competent hands and the news paper about the dragon sighting. She smiled to her self as she again saw him pulling out his wand to blast the overly-curious house-elf, Severus staring out at the lake.

Either way, the conclusion was the same. Tomorrow they’d part ways, each going to, or staying in, the respective place that they belonged. Genera didn’t bother trying to imagine her self into Snape’s world, she knew bone deep that she couldn’t do it.

“I’m sorry Severus,” she whispered. The man of course, made no reply and Genera fell asleep with the brittle knowledge that she’d never expect one.

They woke up together though and Genera enjoyed the easy silence between them as they’d gotten dressed. Snape had lent her his brush and Genera watched him button the front of his shirt as she’d de-tangled her hair.

It was a little surprising how quickly she’d come to know his body, she thought as he’d padded around the dungeon bedroom. His body wasn’t lean but wasn’t entirely gone to seed either. His stomach pouched out a little, but Genera knew his legs to be strong and shaped from much walking, his mouth to be dry and warm.

He smiled at her when she’d hugged him from behind, watching her with avid dark eyes in the reflection of the mirror.

“I’ve ordered a carriage,” he said. Genera nodded.

“All the boxes ready?”

“Yes, Dizzy’s already sent them to the train.”

Genera pressed her face between his shoulder blades.

“When does it leave?”

“Soon, little over an hour.”

Genera sighed then, her hands clasped around Severus’s middle.

“I’d like to show you something,” he said turning in her arms so that he faced her, “if you don’t mind.”

“Of course,” she replied. Severus nodded and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

They didn’t bother with breakfast. Genera wasn’t hungry any way, and they both stayed silent as the professor lead her up through the levels of the castle until they came to an out of the way turret. At the door he turned to her and took Genera’s hands in his.

“I wanted you to be able to say goodbye,” he said evenly. Genera frowned, glancing around the windowless space but Severus just pushed open the wooden door and stepped aside. Genera entered the room gingerly, her eyes slow to adjust to the dark heavy air. She spotted then, at the opposite end of the room what looked like a old looking mirror. It was almost as tall as her self and though the metal around it seemed mottled and gray, she could see it had something written around its top.

“Step up so you can see your self,” Severus said from behind her. Genera wordless followed his instructions, blinking at her own reflection in the dusky glass. Then, as she looked closer, a form appeared next to her. Genera glanced to her left, but no one was there. Still, she could see some one standing next to and in the space of a breath, the figure became Maggie.

“Oh god.”

“What do you see?” Severus asked from behind.

“Its Mags. She’s holding my hand, she looking at me and she’s laughing.”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m...laughing too. And look Severus, there’s the blanket I gave her. Oh god, she’s so beautiful.” Genera glanced behind her. Snape was watching her with a small uncomplicated smile on his face. “You see how beautiful she is?” Genera asked, looking back into the mirror.

“I don’t, actually,” the professor replied, coming up behind her. “I can’t see what you see.”

“Why not?” Genera asked, glancing over at him. “What is this?”

“The Mirror of Erised. It shows each person exactly what they want most, the most sincere desire of their heart. I thought, it’d be good for you to see her one last time.”

“How did you know though,” Genera asked stepping back from the magical floor length mirror, “that I’d see Mags?”

“I’m not all good looks,” he replied with a self deprecating smile. Genera smiled back, shaking her head a little. She stepped out of the way and Snape came forward, avidly watching his own reflection. His expression changed, his mouth pressed into surprise.

“What do you see?”

“You actually,” he replied, slowly looking over at her. “I see you and you’re happy.”

Genera swallowed, her eyes pricking. She knew he was telling the truth. He held out his hand and Genera took it, receiving to, the long slow kiss he gave her as if he could some how impart everything he’d seen and hadn’t said of, into her soul through her mouth.

And Genera held him for the longest time.

When Genera got home sixteen hours later, she was beyond exhausted. She paid the cabby too much and didn’t care, instead stumbling past the doorman without returning his greeting.

“Welcome back Miss le Sarte,” said the night-desk man. He ducked under the front desk and pulled out a rubber-band stack of mail and a small cardboard box. “This just came for yah’,” he added, pushing the box toward her. “From England it says, you were just there, right?”

Genera pulled her purse up high on her shoulder and set to rest her roller-suitcase. She picked up the box in one hand, fumbling it against her chest as she peered down at the return address. ‘Severus Snape, care of Potions at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.’

“You must have some jokers for friends, wizard’s right!”

“Yeah,” Genera replied stupidly. She tucked the box and mail under her arm and made her way to the bank of elevators. She set the box down on the floor of the elevator as she dug out her keys and when she got into her apartment, she dumped everything on the couch to open the box, breaking through the tape with her key.

Nestled inside was a tin-canister among shredded pieces of parchment. Genera blew a strand of hair out from her eyes as she held up the canister. Printed in tight black ink the label read, ‘Egyptian chamomile and essence of cranberry: tea blend by Severus Snape.’

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