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Chapter One

The first years nervously came forward to be sorted into their houses. Every year had been the same for so many years. There was a coldness that had settled in Professor Severus Snape’s heart for them. Yet again, he would suffer their addled brains that seemed to dither entirely too much about each other. These teen-agers spent far too much time exploring their silly sexuality and far too little on improving their minds. It was such a waste of his time. Sometimes he wished that he had never come to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to attempt to stuff knowledge into their paltry brains. They rarely retained a fraction of it. He doubted any one of them would show the least prowess at Potions.

The dinner was, as always exemplary and truly delicious. Severus chatted quietly with Professor McGonagall about the start of term and both he and she made furtive glances at the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, who was an absurd frog like creature with bulging eyes and some pink outerwear that belonged on a muggle.

Albus Dumbledore clapped his hands and there was a hush in the room as the students and teachers listened attentively. So much had happened in the short summer since last year. The Headmaster mentioned it not at all in his speech to the students. He always seemed so calm and unassuming but of course, Severus knew him to be both calculating and brilliant. The man was a master at manipulation and cunning as a fox. His only weak spot had been the young student Harry Potter whom he indulged recklessly.

Severus felt a small temporary welling of distain regarding Mr. Potter. He shifted his gaze to stare at the young man sitting amongst his Gryffindor friends. He looked a bit pale and terribly thin, as if he’d not eaten a decent meal all summer and had wasted away indoors. Severus imagined that young Mr. Potter was feeling his usual resentful and put upon selfish little self, especially after single handedly returning the Dark Lord to their midst. Professor Snape suffered an involuntary tremor of anxiety. It was all that he’d dreaded from his past come to haunt him in his present. The Dark Lord’s return to power and all that it would entail. Certainly, and Professor Snape had no doubts whatsoever on the subject, for he had dwelled on it all summer, soon, he, Severus Snape would suffer a horrible death. Mr. Potter seemed to be a magnet for the disaster that was Voldemort. Yes, he’d thought the name and wanted to spit on the floor for all the bile the name brought with it. Voldemort was alive!

Harry Potter indeed seemed to attract the evil one. Frankly, the idiot boy was so hell-bent on being angry and hateful that it was a wonder that he was taking so long to fall into the Dark Lord’s traps. Harry Potter showed a few too many of Voldemort’s personality traits to be comforting. The Parseltongue incident of a few years before was proof enough that something of Voldemort lived within the boy. Potter must be dealt with before he exhibited the insanity and anger that was the fiendish one. Severus vividly remembered He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named angry. It was burned into his memory and into his skin. Dumbledore was going to let that boy get killed and all his little friends with him if he didn’t stop indulging him. The boy was marked by the Dark Lord, for pity sake, he needed to learn discipline and control, not be left to run wildly throughout the castle.

The Headmaster was winding up his welcome speech when that foul Umbridge woman rudely interrupted him. The Ministry of Magic should keep its bloody nose out of Hogwart’s business.

Prof. Flitwick leaned close to Severus and tapped his hand. “We’ve a nightmare year ahead of us, Professor Snape,” he whispered good-naturedly to the silent and frowning fellow teacher. “She’s a scary one. That pink bow and cardigan look muggle made and fifty years out of date.”

Severus said nothing but raised his outward emotion level to a smirk, which was sort of a smile, to acknowledge the comment. When the horrible woman finally shut up and sat down Flitwick leaned over to Severus again. He willed himself not to sigh in exasperation. The little man was so tiny that Severus was compelled to lean way over to hear his tiny voice.

“I heard that the new Ancient Runes Professor is to arrive next week,” he said in his dry and squeaky voice. “They must be a terribly important person to arrive LATE for start of term.” Professor Flitwick was known for his humorous wit and gossipy nature. They were famous traits that Severus often found trying.

“I’ve not been made privy to the details, Professor,” he said loftily. He flicked a strand of his inky black hair out of his eyes to look at the tiny man. “All I was told was that this mysterious ‘expert’ in Runes was coming from the east.”

“Oh, my!” said Flitwick delighted. “Won’t that be exciting? We’ve not had a teacher from the orient in how many years?” He thought for more than a moment, looking into space as if calculating the number. The students in the hall had raised the noise level considerably as they began to shuffle out the door. Severus so wanted to leave. “Why, do you know, Severus?” Flitwick said finally, after Severus had looked to the ceiling in exasperation a good three times. “Why, I don’t remember the last time we’ve had a professor from the Orient. Do you?”

“No,” said Snape, a slight curl of a sneer forming on his lips. “I believe this may be the first.”

“Positively, delightful!” said Flitwick. “I shall be excited until they come!”

Severus was not interested in this supposedly delightful and mysterious professor at all. What he was interested in was leaving, which he did abruptly rising and sweeping out the door, his black robes flapping as he went.

The first week of term went as he expected. The first years were slugs. They sat with their mouths hanging open as if in waiting for flies to enter. The Weasley twins almost blew up the dungeon by the second day. Severus was absolutely sure that those boys were more talented at potion making then they pretended NOT to be. To finish off his trying week, Mr. Potter was his usual arrogant self. That boy deserved every ounce of comeuppance that he could shove down his insolent young throat.

Still, the emptiness of waiting for his death consumed him with dread for the entire week. The Dark Lord would call his followers and what would happen, he did not know. He had barely lived his life and most of it had been miserable. He was a young man about to die.

These were the thoughts of Professor Severus Snape as he stormed through the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in answer to a summons by the Headmaster on a particularly cold Friday evening in September. His dark and gloomy figure striding, his black robes billowing, his stringy black hair half in his eyes, he was lost in thoughts of his inevitable demise. He stopped at the great large statue that was the entrance stair to the Headmaster’s tower office and speaking the requisite sugary absurdity, he rose to meet his Headmaster.

Severus knocked on the outer door, was bade to enter but when he did, he stopped short on the threshold. There was a stranger in the room with Dumbledore. A fairly tall woman of slight build and the most extraordinarily long braid down her back held together with a green ribbon that certainly must have been a meter and a half long. Her hair was a deep black, but not as his own that was nearly blue black but henna red black. It glowed fire in the candlelight of Dumbledore’s cluttered receiving room. She did not turn, as anyone normally would, but kept her back to him as Dumbledore called to him to enter.

“Good of you to come on such short notice, Severus, come in!” beckoned the Headmaster. “There’s someone very special that I’d like for you to meet.”

Still the woman did not turn, but waited facing Dumbledore, her head lowered in respect. Perhaps it was the Oriental professor that was to arrive, Severus speculated as he entered and walked toward the two standing at the desk in the center of the tower room.

He stood beside her watching Dumbledore, who had that silly mother hen look on his face that he got when he was trying to be welcoming and friendly. “Severus, this is Felicity Wood,” he said proudly.

Severus looked at the woman in profile for she still had not turned but seemed especially interested in looking down at the desk until he turned toward her with his hand out. “How do you, Ms. Wood,” he said with only a slight sneer at her obvious demur posturing, an absurdity in this day and age.

She turned quite suddenly though gracefully and looked at him then. She was no woman from the Orient. Her eyes were green and sparkled with mischief. She’d been playing a game! The very idea! “How do you do, Professor Snape,” she said echoing his sneer. “I’ve heard so much about you and have looked forward to meeting you.” She did not smile but her eyes did. They fairly danced a jig at his expense.

Severus shot Albus Dumbledore a glare before he thought better of it. Albus raised his hands in his defense. “It wasn’t I, Severus. I assure you. Felicity, dear, you’ve alarmed poor Professor Snape, please explain.” His voice was mock severity. The man was abysmal at keeping order and rank correctly.

She laughed lightly. “My younger cousin was a student at the school, Professor Snape and he’s told me all about Hogwarts. You’ve quite the reputation with the students.” He glared at her but she seemed unaffected. “I would hope that I would do as well to live on in their memories as you have.” She politely inclined her head.

He was not mollified by her belated and feigned gracious behavior. “And this infamous cousin, who has obviously defamed my character, would be?”

“Oliver Wood,” she said grinning from ear to ear.

He noticed it then. Her accent was neither Scottish as her supposed cousin was nor British. “You’re an American!” he said almost as an accusation.

“Hardly,” the woman replied haughtily. “I was born in Scotland, if that’s what you’re acting so pompous about. I grew up for part of my life in Canada and went to Prior’s Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Berkshires. That IS in the States, by the way. I left there when I was sixteen. My father was an Ambassador in the Ministry and we lived all over the world. Most of my formal schooling was in Tibet and India. I’ve just come from a year in Egypt. I’m sort of a life long student, I guess.” She smiled a shy smile. It was faked to be sure.

Severus Snape was at a loss for words. The woman was outrageous. “I was not being pompous, Ms. Wood,” he whispered lividly. “I merely stated an observation. You needn’t have given me your resume.” He looked her up and down intimidating her with his eyes. He observed her clothing in the process. It was highly unusual. She wore an eastern style robe of the darkest green silk that he’d ever seen with a vague pattern of water throughout. It fitted closely to her not unappealing figure and was fastened down the side with several stays in the shape of a dragon, red in color, each one with green eyes. Her outfit was mesmerizing and he forgot to finish off his head to toe intimidation with the glare that was his signature. He felt off-balance.

“Don’t worry, Prof. Snape, I have that affect on a lot of people when they first meet me,” she said solemnly as if answering his thoughts.

She looked to Severus to be very young, but perhaps she was only a few years younger than he. Certainly, she was too young to be the supposed expert in Runes from the Orient that Flitwick was so anxious to meet.

“I’ll be thirty-five in October,” she said, looking at him soberly.

Being an expert at Legilimency he knew that she was not reading his mind but her guessing was uncanny. “I did not ask how old you were, Ms. Wood,” he said, this time purposely pompous.

“Of course you didn’t, Professor. That would be impolite. I only said that because it was what you were thinking.”
He narrowed his gaze at the strange woman before him. “You are extremely presumptuous, Miss.” He looked to Dumbledore, who frankly should have stepped between them at hello! The old man stood admiring them as if they made a lovely couple and invitations to the wedding should be mailed immediately. Snape was furious. “Well, now that we’ve met, I must take my leave.” He turned to escape but the old goat held him back.

“Severus, Severus, don’t run off!” he said.

“I was not running, sir, I’ve a potion brewing and must attend to it.” He was biting his tongue. The pain was excruciating and much more enjoyable than this meeting.

“I was hoping that you would be so kind as to show Ms. Wood to the dungeons, Professor. She’s to have the teacher’s suite down the hall from Slytherin.”

Severus raised an eyebrow and he looked at Ms. Wood in reserved horror.

“I am most comfortable with stone around me,” said Felicity in explanation.

“Well,” said Severus dryly, “you’ve certainly come to the right place then. We’ve stone aplenty. Follow me.” With that said he tipped his head slightly to the headmaster and turned to go. She politely took her leave of the Headmaster and rushed after him. Though she didn’t rush fast enough as far as Professor Snape was concerned.


Please leave a review! I'd love to hear what you think. Cheers, Pru

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