I was nearly late for breakfast the follow Wednesday morning, not because I dreaded going downstairs, but because I spent additional time primping my hair and make-up. Wearing my sky blue gown with the gold trim, I took one more appraising look in the mirror.
"Not bad if I do say so myself." I smiled cheerfully.
"If you've got it, flaunt it." my mirror replied.
Feeling as though I were walking on air, I made a dramatic appearance as I entered the Great Hall for breakfast for the first time in nearly a week. Smiling warmly at the greetings I received, I made a special point of approaching the table from the opposite end that I normally did so that I deliberately walked by Snape. Meeting his eyes, I wished the Potions Master a good morning.
It was not surprising to me that his response was only a silent glare but now that I knew his secret I would no longer allow that to bother me. Feeling better than I had in days, I took my usual chair next to my grandfather who looked at me in such a way that clearly said he was wondering what I was up to.
The hours crawled by that day as I kept looking over and over again at the clock. I had decided last night that following the dismissal bell I would take a walk down to the dungeons and have a conversation with Professor Snape whether he liked it or not. This bickering had gone on long enough and if he insisted on calling me "Princess" then perhaps it was time to act the part and lay down the law.
Oh, the man won't know what hit him, I thought to myself with glee.
At long last the final bell rang and I had left the room before my students had barely begun to move. As I descended the stairs leading to the dungeons I received a number of curious glances from the children who were on their way up to their common rooms. No doubt they were wondering if there would be yet another fight. Well, there was going to be, but not the typical ones that the staff and students had come to expect from the Potions Master and the Anti-Snape.
Sure enough, he was seated at his desk in his dismal office, apparently grading homework. Noticing me in the doorway, he raised his black eyes and silently glared across the desk at me.
Beaming with confidence, I stepped into the room and said to him, "Good afternoon, Professor Snape."
"What do you want?" he asked rudely.
Approaching his desk, I replied, "I believe we have wasted enough time so I am going to get right to the point."
I then noticed a stool in the corner. Before he had a chance to respond, I grabbed the stool, dragged it around the desk and sat down right beside him. At that moment, he lost his stony composure and looked at me with slightly widened eyes.
"While the staff and students may have found our petty bickering amusing, I'm sure you will agree with me when I say it has to stop." I said enthusiastically. "It's time for us to face the facts that you are not going anywhere and I am not going anywhere...therefore we need to find a way to co-exist."
"I see you have given this some thought." he replied, still looking wary. "I hope you didn't hurt yourself."
"At one time that comment would have angered me." I laughed. "But not anymore. Things are going to be different from now on."
"Shall I alert the Daily Prophet, Professor Archer?" he asked snidely.
"My name is Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn Isabella Elizabeth Archer...but I prefer Gwen." I replied. Pulling the stool closer so that my knee was now touching his, I leaned my elbows on the arms of his chair and looked playfully into his eyes and added, "I find it interesting how we both call the other staff members who were once our teachers by their first names yet we address each other as 'Professor'. Don't you find that interesting, Professor Snape?"
"Fascinating." he whispered as he glared at me.
"I think it's silly if you ask me." I said as I continuing to gaze without anger into his eyes. Still allowing my knee to press against his, I added, "After all, if it were not for a few years difference in our ages we could have been in classes together. We could have been seated side by side every single day."
"Imagine that." he replied, now looking thoroughly uncomfortable as he sat rigidly in his chair. I was amazed that he was finally at a loss for a snide remark.
"Therefore," I continued, now speaking in almost a whisper, "I would like it very much if you would start calling me Gwen...In fact it would give me great pleasure if you would do so....Severus."
For a moment the Potions Master only stared at me in an uneasy silence before finally clearing his throat and asking hoarsely, "Is there anything else?"
"No...not at this time. We'll see how being less formal with each other works and go from there." I smiled as I rose from the stool. Placing my hand on his shoulder I said, "Have a good evening, Professor Snape."
Feeling victorious, I walked with my head high from the office. For a moment I considered taking my grandfather's advice and sitting next to him at dinner but then decided that Snape had been through enough for one day. It wouldn't do to go through my weapons all at once.
As far as I was concerned, things were definitely looking up for me. A week earlier there was nothing I had wanted more than to permanently lock the door to my room and never come out again, now I was greeting the day in cheerful spirits.
Difficult as it was, I somehow managed to keep my mind on my lessons and to make last minute arrangements for the following day's trip to the museum with my students. The moments that I had to myself I spent remembering the expression on Snape's face when I had sat down next to his chair and suggested that he start calling me by my first name. Clearly he had no idea how to respond when I returned his insults with smiles.
And that is just the beginning, I thought to myself.
Eagerly awaiting for the school day to be over, I decided it was time to get a different perspective of the Great Hall during dinner by being seated in a different chair. Yes that would be a surprise to a lot of people but my grandfather had after all made the suggestion a number of times and anything Dumbledore suggested was worth considering.
Following the final dismissal bell, I hurried back to my room and similar to yesterday morning, spent additional time primping after changing into fresh gown. Gazing at my reflection, I realized that I would have to be careful with the timing. If I arrived too early it would be easy for Snape to simply go elsewhere. If I was too late the chair that I wanted to take could be already occupied. At that moment I decided to use my popularity with the students to my advantage....I could simply chat with a few of them on my way by the Gryffindore table. The moment Snape had taken his place at the staff table I would make my next attack.
"Ah, the poor man." I laughed softly to myself. "And with the Headmaster sitting right there, Professor Snape will have to behave himself."
The embarrassment of last week entirely forgotten, I cheerfully went downstairs and very casually approached the staff table. Right away I noticed that the Potions Master was already in his usual seat so stalling was not necessary. Crossing the room, I stopped for a moment in front of the table and smiled at Dumbledore.
"Is everything alright, Gwen?" my grandfather asked curiously.
"Everything is fine." I assured him. "I just wanted to let you know that I decided to take your advice this evening."
"Oh? Regarding what?" he inquired with a slight smile.
Lowering my voice I replied impishly, "I have decided I want to see what the other end of the table is like."
Dumbledore's smile broadened as he said, "Ah, I see....Well, enjoy yourself."
That was exactly what I intended to do. Still keeping a casual pace, I walked down the length of the table, moved around behind it so I was now facing the students and took the empty chair next to the Potions Master who did a poor job of hiding his look of surprise.
Before he could say a word, I picked up the goblet of wine that had suddenly appeared on the table in front of me and said, "I found out something very interesting from one of the students today, Professor Snape."
Looking at me warily he replied, "What would that be?"
Taking a sip of the wine, I smiled and commented, "It appears that in previous school years you usually sat at the other end of the table. Tell me, what was it that made you decide to come down to this end?"
"One might ask you the same thing, Professor Archer." he retorted as his eyes narrowed slightly.
"I wanted a change of perspective." I explained cheerfully. "It's amazing how a person's point of view can change once he or she finally sees things from a different angle. Wouldn't you agree?"
"Your profound insight amazes me." he said icily.
Turning to my dinner I commented pleasantly, "You didn't answer my question, Professor Snape. What made you move down to this end of the table?"
After a pause he answered sarcastically, "There was a draft."
"A draft." I repeated. "That's interesting considering how cold the dungeons get. When I was a student it would get so cold down there during the winter that we could all see our breath. I'm sure it's still that way now. Tell me, Professor Snape, how do you manage to keep warm?"
Glaring at me, he whispered, "One learns to adapt."
"Yes I suppose one must." I replied as I took another sip of wine. "Of course at this time of year it isn't all bad...at least during our conversation yesterday I thought it was quite warm. Wouldn't you agree?"
Hagrid, who was seated nearby, made a vain attempt to hide his amusement as he laughed softly at the Potion Master's discomfort. Snape was once again sitting rigidly in his chair and for a moment turned his eyes warily toward Dumbledore who didn't appear to be paying us any attention as he conversed with Minerva and Pomona.
"Do stop looking at me that way." I said cheerfully. "It's not as if I'm going to bite you...at least not without an invitation."
Following my statement poor Hagrid who had at that moment been drinking from his goblet had wine suddenly shoot out his nose as his laughter joined Flitwick's. Snape was glaring at me silently but I noticed his eyes did not shine with the usual cold malice. As the meal drew to a close I decided the Potions Master had had enough for one evening.
"This was quite pleasant." I smiled as I rose from my chair. Again resting my hand lightly on his shoulder I said, "Have a wonderful evening, Professor Snape."
He didn't reply as I left the table but there was no doubt in my mind that his eyes were on me as I walked across the Great Hall. Smiling as I climbed the stairs to retire for the evening I found that I couldn't wait for tomorrow and the days to come.
Karma can be such a nasty thing and from time to time it reminds us to take care in the choices we make because the energy we send out really does come back to us in spades. So caught up was I in my new hobby of tormenting Snape, that I had almost entirely forgotten that Professor Lockhart had offered to accompany my class and I on our afternoon trip to the art museum the previous week.
For the most part, the trip was a success. The students that had signed up arrived at my classroom as the designated time and we went as a group across the school grounds and through the gates.
The Portkey that the curator had sent me was an ordinary looking plastic bottle that would easily pass as nothing more than rubbish that had been carelessly thrown away. Gathering the students around me, we were immediately transported to the museum's front doors.
Professor Lockhart was actually more help that I expected him to be. He had a way of making himself heard and knew a surprisingly great deal about the artists who had created the paintings we viewed. The curator was visibly impressed with the students behavior as he gave us a personal tour, starting with the carefully preserved paintings and sculptures from prehistoric times all the way up to our modern age.
I was very touched to see a small memorial section dedicated to the late Galen Archer. A number of the students looked at me curiously as they studied the photograph of the man whose long blond hair was very much like my own. I also heard murmurs of surprise as his biography which was etched in a plaque beneath his picture was read, revealing that he along with his wife had been murdered by followers of "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named".
Aside from that bitter-sweet moment, the afternoon was quiet pleasant and as our visit came to it's conclusion the curator told me that I was welcome to bring students back to visit in the future.
Once we were all assembled outside, I again used the port key to transport us back to Hogwarts, where we appeared outside the gates. At that point it was nearly supper time and I could tell the students were tired and hungry although they had certainly appeared to have enjoyed themselves.
As we entered the front doors, I told the students how proud I was of all of them before sending them off to their common rooms to get cleaned up for the evening meal. With a great sense of accomplishment I went to my classroom to write a thank you note to the museum for their wonderful hospitality.
No sooner had I sat down at the desk at the front of the room when I became aware that someone was standing in the doorway. Raising my eyes I saw Gilderoy as he approached my desk with a beaming smile.
"I wanted to thank you for your assistance today, Professor Lockhart." I said sincerely. "You were a great help to me."
"Oh not at all, Professor Archer." he replied with a grin. "I've always had an appreciation for the arts...in fact I appreciate all of the...finer things life has to offer."
Unsure of how to respond I smiled and said, "I see. Well, I hate to take up any more of your time."
"I assure you, Professor Archer there is no where else I would rather be." he said dramatically as he walked around the side of my desk. Leaning towards me, he added, "In fact I think today was a good example of just how well we...work together."
Rising from my chair, I busied myself with straightening a pile of drawing paper that had been left on the nearby supply table. Searching for words I replied, "Well, yes I was surprised at how well such a large group of students behaved so well for us."
Ambling over to where I stood, Gilderoy added, "It makes one think about the future doesn't it?'
Glancing at the blond main uneasily I said, "Well the curator did say we - that is we as teachers and the students - were welcome to return."
"Yes he did." Gilderoy smiled. "But that's not what I was talking about."
"It wasn't?" I asked fearfully.
"No." he answered with a wink. "Seeing you, me and a group of children...it all seemed so perfect didn't it?"
Swallowing nervously I said, "I'm not sure I understand."
"Oh of course I wouldn't expect to have that large a brood. Four would be more ideal wouldn't you say?"
Suddenly lowering his voice he said, "I think it's time for us to throw this pretense aside and finally admit we were made for each other."
Taking a step backward I replied, "Professor Lockhart...I believe you are misunderstanding something."
"Do you think I haven't noticed that look in your eyes every time we are together, Professor Archer?" he asked.
"What look?" I squeaked.
"That look of feeling that your fondest dream is right in front of you but yet out of reach." Stepping closer he added, "I am hear to tell you that not only is what you want well within your grasp, it's waiting for you with open arms!"
"A new set of camel hair paint brushes?"
"No, Professor Archer, I am talking about me!" he exclaimed.
"That's what I was afraid of." I muttered.
"Oh just picture it, Professor Archer. Together we can travel the world promoting my new book!"
"Wait, wait just a moment." I said as I continued to step away. "I have only just begun teaching here...and right now that's all I want to focus my energies on. I'm very flattered but -"
"You misunderstand me, my dear lady." he broke in. "Of course you would want to finish the school year. I can understand that."
"Professor Lockhart, you are the one who isn't understanding!" I snapped as I started to walk away.
To my surprise, he grabbed my wrist and pulled me back towards him, causing me to tip over an easel in the process, which hit the easel next to it...and then the next, ultimately leading up to a domino effect with the remaining easels that thankfully did not have any paintings resting on them.
"I understand perfectly, Professor Archer." he said dramatically as he pulled me against him. "The time of pretending is over! You need not restrain yourself any longer!"
"Professor Archer restraining herself? Since when?" asked an icy voice.
Startled, we both turned to see Professor Snape standing in the door way, looking at us with a cold glare.
"Let go of me!" I demanded and forced myself away from Gilderoy.
Making a few motions with my wand the easels all raised up from the floor and righted themselves.
Glancing at the Potions Master, Gilderoy chuckled, "The lady is feeling a bit flustered at the moment."
Scowling at me scornfully, Snape whispered, "Well if everything is under control-"
"No, wait!" I said quickly as he started to leave the room. Grabbing his sleeve I exclaimed, "I need you to stay and help me with the...thing."
Looking mildly amused Snape asked, "The 'thing'?"
"Yes...the...thing that I needed help with." I answered lamely."You promised you would help me with it."
"Did I?" he said snidely. "I don't seem to recall that."
"Well, you did and you can't go back on your word now." I said firmly.
After what seemed like a long silence, Snape said clearly without moving his eyes from mine, "If you would excuse us, Professor Lockhart, I do need to take care of this....thing...that Professor Archer needs my assistance with."
"Oh of course." smiled Gilderoy. Turning to me he said, "Remember what I keep telling you, Professor Archer...you really are worthy!"
With his usual wink, Professor Lockhart smiled and left the room. Relieved, I sighed and looked at Snape.
"Thank you." I said simply.
Glaring at me he replied coolly, "Poor Princess. So many followers...so little time."
Crossing my arms I said, "You do realize that...anything Gilderoy thinks is going on is just in his own mind don't you?"
"Why would that be any concern of mine?" he asked.
"I just thought....." my voice trailed off, then with a defeated sigh I answered. "No reason."
An uneasy silence descended as we stared at each other. Feeling awkward I began to think that perhaps my grandfather was mistaken and Snape didn't have the feelings towards me that Dumbledore thought he did.
"Thank you again, Professor Snape." I said softly as I turned away to resume organizing the supply table.
Although my back was to him, I was aware that for a few seconds he stood there and watched me before finally leaving the room. Once I was alone, I walked to one of the large windows and gazed at the darkening grounds.
"Why does everything have to be so damn difficult?" I asked in frustration.
When I woke up the following morning there was a note on the bedside table from my grandfather. Fearing that it was saying he wouldn't be able to see me that day, I was relieved to read that it was simply telling me to come up for our visit a hour before supper time due to the fact that he had appointments that afternoon.
Appointments on a Sunday? That struck me as odd but I supposed from time to time the Headmaster was required to keep odd hours. Walking sleepily to the window, I stretched and noticed with disappointment that it was still gray and dismal outside..the sort of day that could make you feel chilled to the bone in a matter of minutes.
Noticing my sketchbook that I had left on the window seat, I flipped through it until I came to the rough, pencil drawing I hade done of Snape. I had to admit it was well done considering I had worked from memory. He actually had nice features. His nose although prominent, was not really as hooked as I had originally thought it was....and those black eyes....
"Stop it!" I scolded myself as I tossed the book down and went to the bathroom to shower and change.
As I dried my hair, I realized that I was in fact hiding again which never solved anything. Yesterday I had not left my room at all, even for meals. What sort of message did that send to everyone? Probably that I was a moody spoiled brat who pouted in her room when something didn't go her way.
Tired of confining myself, I went downstairs to my classroom and continued work on the Abraxan horse painting. After only a few brush strokes I relaxed considerably and admitted to myself that more than likely hiding away only made problems worse and in fact tended to make them bigger in my own mind.
The painting was nearly finished when I looked at the time and realized that my grandfather would be expecting me. After cleaning the brushes, I hurried upstairs to him office.
"Come in, dear. I gather you got the note I sent down?" he asked as I entered his personal chambers.
"Yes I did." I smiled as I sat down. "Working on a Sunday?"
"It goes with the territory." he replied.Pouring the tea and handing me a cup he said, "You've had an interesting week."
"Yes I have." I agreed. "In more ways that I could have imagined."
"Is that good or bad?" he asked.
With a sigh, I answered, "I honestly don't know."
Looking slightly puzzled Dumbledore said, "I was quite pleased to see you sitting with Severus during dinner last week. He looked like he enjoyed your company."
"He did?" I asked, sincerely surprised.
"I really believe he did." my grandfather smiled. "In fact I think he was disappointed that you never came down to dinner on Friday or yesterday."
Looking at my cup I said softly, "I didn't think he would notice."
"So tell me, why have you been in hiding these past few days?" he asked as he sipped his tea.
Raising my eyes to my grandfather I answered, "Professor Snape...he saw something Friday afternoon..but it wasn't what it looked like. And I tried to tell him that."
"What exactly did he think that he saw?"
Blushing, I described to my grandfather how Gilderoy had pulled me into his arms and seemed to have gotten the idea that I was interested in being romantically involved with him, which was not true at all.
Dumbledore laughed softly and asked, "What did Severus say when you explained that you didn't return Professor Lockhart's affections?"
"He asked why I thought that would concern him." I answered miserably.
"And what was your answer?"
After a pause I said, "I didn't really answer him. I guess I was caught off guard...but really, how could he ask me that after the past few days?"
"So Severus is supposed to know what you're thinking because after weeks of fighting with him you sit down next to him for one dinner?" said Dumbledore as he raised his eyebrows.Before I could answer, my grandfather added, "If I may ask, why did you decide to try to make up with Severus?"
Shrugging I answered, "I don't know. I suppose I'm tired of fighting and..now when I look at him I wonder what's going on in his mind. I'm sure he's interesting if I could get him to actually talk to me instead of making snide remarks."
"Is that what he did during dinner?"
"At first he did, but then he just looked uncomfortable."
Again laughing my grandfather pointed out, "Well dear you did take him by surprise."
Looking at the time, he suddenly rose from his chair and smiled, "Now my dear it's time to go downstairs for supper. I think you have dined alone enough this term."
Staring at him I said, "That's the real reason you wanted me to come later in the day, isn't it?"
Taking my hands as I got to my feet, Dumbledore smiled and said, "Gwen, you can't start something and then not finish it. You extended an offer of friendship last week and then disappeared for a few days. Can't you see how that could confuse him?"
I hadn't given that a thought and frowned as I considered my grandfather's words.
"If you honestly want to make up with Severus you're going to need to be consistent." he said firmly. "I realize you don't really know him but trust me...if he truly disliked your presence there would not be a doubt in your mind about it."
"If you say so." I smiled weakly.
"I say so." he said fondly. Putting his arm around my shoulders he said, "Now then, let's go down to dinner and show everyone that my granddaughter is not the hermit she appears to be."
There was no getting out of dinner the previous evening with my grandfather personally seeing to it that I went downstairs and into the Great Hall. He never once left my side as we crossed the room and took our seats at the staff table. Despite my efforts to keep my eyes off Snape, I couldn't help but notice him in his usual place at the far end.
Yes, I'm Dumbledore's Darling, I thought irritably as Snape watched my grandfather and I cross the room. No doubt he was sitting there thinking that Dumbledore had to figure out a way to placate his spoiled, temperamental granddaughter to get her to come downstairs.
Well isn't that exactly what happened, my annoying inner voice asked.
As always, Dumbledore knew best and before the evening was over my spirits had lifted and I ended the evening considerably cheered up. When I retired that night I decided that after classes the following day I would pay another visit to Snape's office.
The following morning I introduced my students to Artistic Candle Magic which consisted of carving a visual image on the side of a candle that could be used for spell casting later. I emphasis that while it was often tempting to go into great detail as the image began to take form in the wax, it was important to remember that since the candle was intended to be burned it wasn't wise to put so much effort into it that the witch or wizard ended up not wanting to use the candle at all. Instead it was the focus of the energy itself that was important...not the final result of the carved image.
At that point those who wanted to continue working on their Tarot Trumps were permitted to do those along with the regular assignments. Those who made the extra effort were of course rewarded with additional house points.
When the final bell rang, I hesitated a moment but after strengthening my resolve made my way down to Snape's office in the dungeon. As I approached the open door I realized that I was finding myself down here far more often then I had when I was a student. Of course the dungeons were not as interesting to me then as they were now.
"Good afternoon, Professor Snape." I greeted him cheerfully as I approached his desk.
"Back again?" he asked in mock surprise. "All finished with your weekend tantrum?"
"As a matter of fact I am." I smiled as I dragged the stool in the corner next to his chair. "And how was your weekend?"
"Why do you want to know?" he asked.
"It's called conversation, Professor Snape." I answered, taking a seat on the stool. "I'm sure you're familiar with that...one person says something, the other replies."
"Have you always been so annoying?" Snape asked as he turned his glare towards me.
"Most people I have met have described me as charming." I said as I rested my hands on the arm of his chair.
"And who are these people? Grandfather Dumbledore I suppose?" he said snidely.
"He among others." I replied as I turned my gaze towards the small bottles that covered the Potions Master's desk...no doubt homework from that day's students.
"I see. Well if your grandfather says so then it must be true." he replied as he began examining the contents of one of the bottles. "So the headaches you cause me are actually the result of your 'excessive charm' rather than you simply being a nuisance."
"Yet you have never once asked me to leave. Why is that?" I asked curiously.
"You mean you would actually go?" Snape whispered as he glanced at me briefly.
"Of course I would....but only if you specifically asked me to." I answered.
Finishing with one bottle and moving on to another, he said softly, "So you're saying being politely subtle would be a wasted effort on you?"
"I have a difficult time imagining you being politely subtle...no offense." I smiled.
"None taken." Snape replied as he closely examined the contents of the second bottle.
For a couple of minutes neither of us said a word as Snape continued grading his student's potions. From time to time he glanced as me as I continued to sit on the stool next to him but I noticed he appeared much more relaxed that he had when I have come to visit him the previous week.
"You have nothing else to do?" he asked finally.
"No, not really." I answered pleasantly.
"And being a pest is the only way you could think of to spend your free time?"
"As I said a few minutes ago, all you have to do is ask me to leave." I pointed out.
"I refuse to believe that getting rid of you is that simple." he said snidely. "If my request were denied I don't believe I could handle the disappointment."
Smoothing my robes on my knees I replied, "I don't think that's it. I think that you don't actually want me to leave. In fact, I believe that on some level you are enjoying the company."
"Why would I want the company of a spoiled witch who continually asks me ridiculous questions and annoys me with her endless commentary?" he asked.
Once again leaning on the arm of his chair, I said clearly, "Ask me to leave. It really is that simple."
"So you can go up to the Headmaster's office and complain that I was rude and demand my removal?"
"I promise I won't do that. Tell me to leave and never come back and that is exactly what I'll do." I assured him.
"Ah, the loop hole." he said triumphantly.
"What loop hole?" I asked innocently.
"To never come back...when you and I both know that over the course of the school year there might be a reason for me to ask you...as a professor of course, to come to speak with me regarding school matters." he explained.
"You are making excuses to not ask me to leave." I replied. "After all, what would the esteemed Potions Master have to say to the worthless art teacher? Just admit you aren't asking me to leave because you don't want me to."
Staring at the bottle in his hand, Snape whispered, "I see I am going to need one of these before the afternoon is over...properly brewed of course."
"What is it?"
"The Draught of Peace. It calms anxiety and soothes agitation. If you're going to be down here regularly I suppose I will need to start keeping a cauldron full on hand." he answered.
"I don't recall Slughorn teaching us that." I commented.
"He didn't." Snape replied as he picked up another bottle. After he examined it closely, he handed it to me, much to my surprise. "This one is more or less correct."
The potion had an odd smell to it. Turning my eyes to the Potions Master I asked, "What's in it?"
"Among other things, powdered moonstone and syrup of hellebore." he answered.
"Ah, so that's what I smelled." I replied pleasantly as I handed the bottle back to him. "See, you are capable of conversation. I knew you could do it."
"I have begun to realize that there is no point in ignoring you. You will continue to sit here and chatter no matter what." he explained.
After waiting for a moment when he wasn't handling any of the potion bottles, I placed my hand on his shoulder, leaned against him and said clearly, "Ask me to leave."
For a moment he said nothing and stared straight ahead with a mildly defeated look on his sallow face. Finally he turned his gaze toward me and said, "Wednesday I will be grading the students attempts at brewing a Strengthening Solution. I'm sure you would find that entertaining as well."
"Then yes I will certainly come down to see you after classes then." At that point I was starting to mind the cold. Rising from the stool I said, "Your company was fascinating as always. Have a good evening, Professor Snape."
While I didn't look back at him as I walked to the door I was almost certain that Snape's eyes remained on me as I left his office.
"Since your office door was standing wide open, I'm assuming you didn't have any objection to me paying you another visit." I said cheerfully as I entered Snape's office at the end of another day of classes.
"Would closing the door really have done any good?" asked Snape as he continued to arrange an assortment of jars in one of the supply cabinets.
"You act as though I would have stood outside and demanded entry." I replied as I crossed the room and took a seat on the stool next to his chair.
"Well it is a well known fact that Dumbledore's Darling is accustomed to getting what she wants when she wants it." he said softly as he briefly glanced at me.
"Where in the world do you get your information, Professor Snape?" I asked playfully as I leaned my elbows on the top of his desk. "You are the only person I know of who says such things."
"I am the only one who dares to tell you to your face." he said snidely as he closed and locked the cabinet. "Everyone else chooses to allow you to believe that anywhere you walk is holy ground."
"By the way, I'm happy to see you too." I replied cheerfully as he continued to go about his work. He turned his eyes towards me warily before returning his attention to jars of potion ingredients on a nearby shelf.
"Of all your fellow professors in this castle, why am I the one you have chosen to spend your free time harassing?" Snape muttered as he finished what he was doing with the potion ingredients and turned to approach his desk.
"You intrigue me." I answered. "Since the beginning of the term I have been wondering why in the world my grandfather would have someone as mean tempered as you are on the staff. Over and over I have demanded your removal but Grandfather refuses so I have decided to find out why."
"And what have you discovered so far?" he asked as he settled into his chair.
"Admittedly, not much." I answered. "Although I will say I'm not finding you quite as aggravating as I did at the beginning of the term. There are moments when I find you almost likable."
Snape replied sarcastically, "How kind of you. If you continue to pay me such compliments I may have to fling myself at your feet and beg for the honor of polishing the soot off your boots."
"I would be happy to settle for a simple polite greeting from you." I smiled. "And you are still addressing me as Professor or Miss Archer. What is so difficult about saying my name?"
"Have you any interest in the Strengthening Solution I mentioned to you on Monday?" he asked as he bent over yet another group of small flasks that were assembled on his desk.
"Why are you avoiding the question?" I inquired.
"I don't suppose you have any recollection on how this particular potion is made." he muttered without looking at me.
"The key ingredients are salamander blood and pomegranate juice...in that order. Otherwise undesirable results are achieved." I answered. "Say my name."
"I have to admit I'm impressed. I would not have believed you would have retained such information for so long." Snape whispered as he began making notes on a roll of parchment that he had placed on his desk next to the bottles.
"What are you so afraid of?"
"What makes you think I'm afraid of anything?"
Pulling my stool closer and leaning on the arm of his chair I answered, "Gwen. Say it just once. I promise it won't hurt."
"If I may ask, what did you receive for Potions during your O.W.L.s?" he asked without looking at me.
"Exceeds Expectations." I answered proudly.
"Well, Professor Slughorn was teaching at the time." said Snape "Had you been one of my students you would have been lucky to squeak by with an Acceptable."
"How can you possibly make a judgment like that?" I demanded. "It's not as though you and I were in the same classes. Do you actually think the professors gave me passing grades simply because I was related to the Headmaster?"
"That's quite possible, although I am more inclined to believe that you...dare I say...charmed....your professors into giving you passing grades." he said with the slightest hint of a smile.
I replied, "How amusing. You seriously think I could charm someone like Professor McGonagall into giving me a grade that I didn't actually earn?"
"I didn't say you had to do that with all of them."
Feeling mischievous I asked softly, "Is that what I would have had to do with you?"
"It wouldn't have worked." he answered quickly.
"No?" I smiled. Leaning close I whispered in his ear, "Would I have had to resort to..Amortentia?"
Turning his eyes towards me abruptly, Snape muttered, "Why does it not surprise me that you would think of that?"
"Oh please!" I exclaimed. "As if I would ever do something so unethical!..And why do you continue to change the subject?"
"Did I do that?" he asked in mock confusion.
"Yes you did." I answered, continuing to lean on the arm of his chair. "At least explain to me why you don't want to call me by my first name."
"You really are the inquisitive one aren't you?" he remarked as he leaned back in his chair and turned his gaze toward me.
Smiling I said softly, "What can I say? I have always been drawn to the dark and mysterious."
After a pause, Snape started to look uncomfortable and once again leaned forward over his work. "Stop looking at me that way."
"What way?" he repeated. Glancing at me he snapped, "That way!"
"I'm not looking at you in any particular way." I laughed softly. "Why are you so uncomfortable?"
"Do you ever stop asking questions?" he asked incredulously.
"Perhaps if you would actually answer me I wouldn't have so many questions." I explained playfully.
"Professor Archer-" he started to say as he turned towards me.
"Gwen!" I whispered insistently as I placed my hand on his shoulder. Gazing into his eyes I leaned closer to him and said softly, "My name is Gwen."
The Potions Master swallowed nervously but did not draw away or lower his gaze. Looking hesitant, he began to lean towards me. He was close enough that I could feel his breath on my lips...then he stopped when we each heard a surprised gasp.
Glancing at the doorway, I saw Harry looking at us with a comical expression of surprise. Clearing his throat, Snape straightened in his chair and said coldly, "You're late, Potter. The rats' brains are on the table behind you."
Once again, Harry had been given detention...and obviously few teachers could make the punishment more unpleasant that Professor Snape who would more likely than not require the student to pickle one sort of foul object or another. After gathering the the bowl of brains, Harry withdrew to the classroom.
Unfortunately the moment had passed. The corners of Snape's mouth turned down slightly as he returned his attention once more to the grading of homework. While I could have remained there longer, the knowledge that there was a student in the next room made our attempts at conversation more difficult. Eventually, I rose from the stool and walked around to the front of the Potions Master's desk.
"Again, I enjoyed my visit with you. Have a good evening, Professor Snape." I said softly.
Raising his eyes to me, he whispered, "You as well, Professor Archer."
Mildly flustered, I turned and made my way out of the dungeons, ignoring Harry's curious stare on my way by.
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