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9. Awakening of the Dread The scowl always plastered on his face and a scathing remark on the tip of his tongue. Severus Snape was the epitome of self-confidence. How else would he dare to run around like he was doing? His hair was so greasy that it would lead you to believe that the water in his shower somehow did a bend around his head. It was unsure if a toothbrush had ever seen Snape's mouth from the inside. And braces would have been a good idea, too, three or four decades ago. This overly confident Potions Master was now reduced to a mere bundle of nerves. Adrenaline pumped through his veins, as he continued to munch on a piece of tasteless toast. Nervous eyes darted from one side to the other. The enemy could be everywhere. Some 5th year Ravenclaw shot glances towards the Teachers' Table, making Snape uneasy. Several other students - of both genders! - looked towards him during breakfast, too. His feeling of nauseous intensified. Oh Merlin, this was so sick! A shudder worked its way through his body. It was utterly disgusting! Alone the thought of the bunch of dunderheads was enough to freeze every possible spark to death! Everyone was better than- Snape was paralysed, the hand which held the goblin with seemingly unblemished pumpkin juice froze in mid-air, as his eyes reached the Gryffindor Table. Dawning horror raised its ugly head and whispered words of mockery into his ear: 'Who would have thought that you were so popular?' Severus groaned quietly and put the goblin back. Suddenly, he wasn't so thirsty anymore. At least, pumpkin juice wouldn't do no longer. What he now needed was a good (and with 'good' he didn't mean the quality but the quantity) bottle of fire-whiskey, preferringly instantly. Three pairs of eyes watched closely as their Potions Master quickly left the Great Hall. There went their first try, four more vials to go. "Hm," Hermione muttered. "He didn't drink it." "Did you see his look?" Harry asked in a hushed whisper, as to not draw any attention to them. "As if he had just seen a ghost ..." "Or if Dumbledore had just forbidden him to wear black robes," Ron added thoughtfully. "Or if Voldemort had just returned, made-up like a drag-queen ... nothing too different from his last outfit, then." "Or if Gryffindor just won the House Cup with five points more than Slytherin ... again." "Or if some 'Gryffindor dunderhead' had just declared his undying love for him," Harry said at last, cracking up laughing at the sheer idea of it. "That's nothing to make fun of," Ron muttered, shuddering visibly. "We were making jokes, okay, but that was highly uncalled for." Harry hung his head in shame. "Sorry." ~+#+#+~ Severus Snape quickly jumped backwards into the concealing shadows, as a small group of talking and tittering 5th and 6th years made their way through the hallways. His hackles rose, as he made out parts of their conversation. "Did you see him today?" one girl whispered, then erupted into giggles again. "Merlin," the next girl moaned, exaggerating. "How could one possibly oversee him?" "Mm," a third girl added between giggling fits. "All this dark and mysterious is making me feel dizzy ..." Snape waited till the girls were well out of sight, then he dared emerging from his sheltering darkness. Staying well by the wall, the Potions Master walked briskly towards his dungeons, trying hard to not look like a fleeing deer, afraid of what wicked creature might lurk behind the next corner. Wicked creatures, teenagers going through puberty ... Where was the bloody difference? Severus felt pursued. The feeling only intensified when added to his normal paranoia. Every time he encountered some students, staff members or even ghosts during his stride, he heard them whispering and trading information. He wasn't stupid; he couldn't have survived Voldemort's reign if it was otherwise. He just knew they were talking about him. Making remarks, pointing at him while his back was towards them ... Snape just had to figure out, who of this whole bunch of hormone-driven blockheads was his secret admirer. Severus tried to control his breathing again. Secret admirer. The phrase alone let his heart beat faster; and this was not due to the fact that he felt flattered. ~+#+#+~ Nymphadora Tonks hobbled towards her small secluded bathroom, peeling the silk blossoms off her skin on the way. She had slept in because the night before she had overdone it a bit. Too many flowers, too many blossoms; it looked as though there had been a marriage the other day. Tonks grinned into the mirror (then grimaced and pulled a red blossom out of her ear) as she recalled that every flower had predicted her good luck. Normally, Tonks wasn't a women who believed in such things as Divination, but in this case she was willing to make an exception. Everywhere Nymphadora spotted positive signs, and even Trelawney had foreseen that Tonks' mystery man (of course, Tonks hadn't told her WHO this man was) was indeed 'dying to get to know her'.

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