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Ok, so this chapter is a bloody piece of shit. People are so OOC that it’s not even worth thinking about. How do you manage to make an original character OOC you ask? I have no idea, but somehow I managed it. Not to mention Snape *shivers in disgust* It’s really quite pathetic, but I figured I’d post it so I can get on with the story and go back and make it better later. Please forgive me! Oh, and I couldn’t get the little < i >’s to work, so thoughts of people are surrounded by *’s, got it? Good. And forward we move. ************************************************************************ Snape looked at his watch. “Damn,” he muttered. It was 8:10, and he knew better than to think Alannah would be late. He was now regretting leaving the door to his rooms open; he had a fleeting vision of Alannah sitting happily at his desk whilst burning his bed to ashes. Snape quickened his pace. He turned into the corridor that led to the Potions classroom and stopped dead. There was music floating up the hallway. Somebody was playing the piano. As he approached the open door to his rooms, he saw Alannah seated at his small grand piano, apparently unaware that he was standing in the doorway. He was about to tell her off when he paused and listened to the music that was coming out of the instrument. It was beautiful. Snape had never heard anybody play quite like this girl in his chamber. The sad, sorrowful melody washed over him and he lost all thought of extending Alannah’s detention sentence. It sounded like Chopin, though he didn’t recognize the piece. It didn’t matter though. For the first time in his life, he felt as though he was seeing into Alannah’s soul. The music was full of emotion. There was sorrow and longing and pain. Pain such as he could never imagine, and he began to see images of his own childhood. *His mother was healing a nasty cut on his back with a poke from her wand. His mother screaming with his father standing over her, his wand outstretched. Everybody in black dress robes at a funeral, watching as an ebony coffin was lowered into the earth at the base of a headstone reading “Katerina Lute Snape…* Snape was snapped out of his trance as he realized that Alannah had stopped playing. She stood up and looked shocked to see her professor there. “Sir, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there…are you alright, sir?” she asked, a look of mild concern crossing her forest-colored eyes. Snape suddenly realized that there were tears on his face. *Why am I getting so bloody emotional? It was just Chopin,* he thought, hurriedly wiping his face with the sleeve of his robe. “I’m fine, Miss Leskevitch,” he answered curtly. “I don’t recall giving you permission to play my piano,” he said coldly. “I’m sorry sir, it’s just that you weren’t here, and I saw the piano and I’ve always loved to play. I don’t get to much at school and…” her voice trailed off. “It’s okay. You play very well. Just don’t go around playing with people’s most prized possessions. It might make them nervous,” said Snape, in an uncharacteristically kind voice. “Now, I did not summon you here to talk about your talent at the keyboard,” he continued, lapsing back into his curt, unfriendly tone. “I have some second-year exams that I need graded. You will grade them all before you leave tonight.” “But professor, you have over 100 second years and I have homework and—“ “You should have thought of that before you opened you large and overconfident mouth this morning in class, Leskevitch,” the potions master snapped. “Now, I have an answer key for you. I have that corner desk set up with the key and student exams. I will be very suspicious if too many of the little half-wits get obscenely high scores.” “Um sir?” Alannah said. “Yes, what is it,” he snapped. “Why do I have to grade these in your private study? Why not in your office?” “Because if you try to take the answer key out of my rooms, it will explode and singe off your eyebrows,” he replied. Alannah walked across the darkly decorated study to a small desk and seated herself in the high-backed chair. Snape watched as she pulled the pile of exams towards her. “If you need anything, I will be in my work room,” he said, gesturing to a door on the opposite side of the small study. Alannah nodded and turned back to the papers in front of her. Several hours later, Snape’s attention was torn away from the potion he was brewing as he heard violent sobbing from his study, where Alannah was working. “What the hell...” he murmured as he rushed from his workroom. As he entered the study, he saw Alannah in a heap on the floor, in obvious distress. He raced to her and knelt down beside her. “Alannah, what’s wrong?” he said, concerned. Alannah was not the type to loose control like this. “Professor, I’m sorry—I fell asleep—woke up—I’LL KILL THAT BASTARD!!” she screamed. Snape did not have much practice in comforting people, and Alannah’s unusual display of emotion caught him completely off guard. For lack of a better thing to do, he wrapped his arms around the girl and held her close to him. “Shhhh, it’s okay, it was just a dream,” he whispered, having absolutely no idea what had come over him to make him so compassionate towards another human being. The fumes from that potion must have been stronger than he thought. “That’s just it, it wasn’t just a dream,” Alannah sobbed into his shoulder. Snape had no idea what she was talking about, so he just held her closer. It was oddly comforting to him somehow. It felt natural to cradle this young woman against his chest, and even if she was miserable, he enjoyed the feeling of her body against his. She wasn’t resistant at all. She just let him hold her and allowed herself to soak his robes with tears. Perhaps it was the fact that Alannah had always been so emotionless around him and he was relieved to see that she could cry like a normal human being, or perhaps it was that he had not been so physically close to a person since...but that was not worth thinking about. He noticed that her sobs had subsided, but now she was shivering. He stood up, with Alannah still clinging to him, and walked into his bedroom. He sidled over to the linen cabinet and pulled out a soft fleece blanket, one arm remaining around Alannah’s shoulders. Snape sat her down on his bed and wrapped the blanket tightly around her. “Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely. “I’m sorry—“ she began, but Snape silenced her by putting a finger against her lips. He sat down next to her and put his arms around her again and felt her lean against him. “I haven’t broken down like that in a long time,” she said softly. “I guess I just couldn’t take it anymore.” “Take what?” he asked, still feeling shivers racking her slender body. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said, her voice hardening slightly. He sighed. He had expected that. “I understand,” he said. “You seem cold,” he continued. “Do you want a potion to warm you up?” “No,” she said, her voice barely audible. “I’ll be alright.” Without really being aware of what he was doing, Snape began gently rubbing the small of her back with his thumb. It took a moment before he realized that she had fallen asleep. Her breathing was steady and she was no longer shivering. He bent down slightly and touched his lips to the top of her head, wondering what he should do. It seemed wrong to wake her, and he didn’t think that she should spend the night alone in her Head Girl room, in case she was troubled by more terrifying dreams. He took the blanket from around her shoulders and let it fall to the ground. When she sowed no signs of wakefulness, he gently picked her up and, after pulling back the covers of his bed, lay her on the soft sheets fully clothed. After tucking the goose-down comforter around her, he looked at her for a few moments. She looked so peaceful, her dark-gold hair pulled out of her face with a simple ponytail, her dark lashes framing her eyelids like velvet fringe. Gently, he tried to probe her mind in an attempt to find out what was troubling her. Normally, it was fairly easy to do so while a person was asleep, but this was not the case. It was like trying to stand up after falling down while ice-skating. The harder he tried, the more he slipped and slid on the surface of her mind. They were always just out of reach. He could sense her thoughts and memories, but each time he reached for them, he was sent sprawling farther away. After several tries, he withdrew, looking at this girl in his bed with newfound respect. It took great skill to be able to block somebody so entirely while sleeping. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead, then walked to the foot of the bed and picked up the dropped fleece blanket. Snape settled himself in the green sofa against the wall, thinking that he could ask Alannah about her troubles tomorrow. And we reach the end of that piece of crap. Don’t even bother reviewing, I know it’s rubbish. Next chapters will be better, I promise.

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