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17. Bye, Bye, Bye Severus woke to a peculiar feeling. Apart from the cramp in his back (and his neck and legs and shoulders-), he felt warm and even – dare he think – content. There was no logical source of heat, as there was no tell-tale crackling of fire, and Severus' slow mind needed a few minutes to process the incoming information surplus. He was still sitting in his armchair like he had been last night, and when his gradually coming to senses didn't deceive him, there was a warm body snuggled close to him. Arms wrapped around his midriff, long legs sprawled across his lap and a cheek nuzzled into his neck, spiky, cruelly coloured hair tickling him. Severus raised his head slightly, glaring down his nose at the daring of the intruder, as he remembered last nights occurrences. One quick glance towards his entrance confirmed that it hadn't been a dream; the young woman holding him was also a dead give-away. Tonks really was someone; Severus shook his head, unsure whether he should feel annoyed or faintly amused by her stubbornness. Like a whirlwind she had barged into his life, a track of devastation trailing behind her, and Severus didn't even know why she seemed to want to stick with him. Shouldn't she be grateful he was ill, like anyone else? Severus shook his head again, then frowned slightly, realising that the thrumming was over, the potion had finally taken effect, and he even could breathe freely – despite the constricting space of Tonks' death grip. Had she watched over him the whole night? If he didn't know better, Severus would say he felt his heart clench at the thought. Why would she want to do that? Severus couldn't think of a single reason. Tonks' weight against him was getting uncomfortable, and the Potions master breathed in slowly to stay calm, though, he didn't know why. That was when he smelled it, some sweet, heady scent flowing through his nostrils, somehow familiar, but Severus couldn't pinpoint why. Tonks tilted her head, the movement causing her bright purple hair to flash in the dim light flowing in from the high windows. Severus' eyes narrowed, while he added two and two together and got his answer. Tonks practically reeked of the perfume his secret admirer had used to soak his messages in; they had to be one and the same person – nobody else would wear such a fragrance on their own accord. He pondered the tantalizing opportunity of shoving Tonks unceremoniously from his lap, but decided against it. Tonks might interpret the physical contact initiated by him (well, he had to touch her when he wanted to shove her off) totally differently, thus catapulting Severus into even deeper trouble. Living alone in the dungeons, no one near enough to hear his cries for help, did have its disadvantages, after all. "Nnn," Tonks half-yawned, half-groaned, flexing her muscles. "G'morning." "Get out. Immediately." The tone didn't tolerate arguments, and Tonks glanced up, smiling. "Not much of a morning person, are we?" she asked, oblivious to the growing threat to her life. "Out! Before I forget myself!" "Oh!" gasped the now greenhead. "I thought you only had a cold! Did you fall and bang your head?" Seconds later, Severus' face was again buried in Tonks' bosom, and he felt nimble fingers frisk the back of his head, clearly searching for a tell-tale bump. "Enough," came his muffled protest. "Let me just-" "I said enough!" snapped Severus, shoving Tonks from him, and she overbalanced, plopping down to the floor. Severus stretched his arms roughly, angry because of Tonks' actions and due to the inexplicable feeling of guilt because of his actions. He only wanted to be left in peace; was that too much? Tonks looked up at him, her eyes round and hurt, pressing her bloodied, broken arm to her chest- no, he didn't need any more reason to feel guilty without Tonks being seriously harmed, which she wasn't. "I just wanted to make sure you were alright," she whispered, eyes alight with unshed tears. "I'm sorry if I was a bother ... I'll go." Averting her gaze, Tonks clumsily gathered her robes and got to her feet. She turned around and practically fled, her hair changing colours in her distress. Severus already had the "Wait!" on the tip of his tongue, though he couldn't, no, wouldn't say it out loud. Not when he finally got what he longed for: peace and quiet. He also longed for a repaired door and some new humanoid repelling charms, but the Potions master would be happy with as much as he got. 'Odd,' Severus thought then. He wasn't feeling particularly happy. Previous day, late evening. "What do you mean, the best before date of the potion is overstepped?" Ron asked. Hermione didn't answer, while she paced the floor in front of the fire, the tonguing flames behind her making her look like some ancient goddess of vengeance. Crookshanks surreptitiously crept away, tail between his legs. "We should have used the fifth vial, the fourth was useless ..." the girl murmured, her mind working frantically to come up with an alternate plan. "Alas, there's no fifth vial anymore," Ron said. "How true," Hermione muttered, then fake-yawned hugely, inching after Crookshanks, who had sought refuge in the girls' dorm. "I'm very tired. I guess I'll go to bed. Tomorrow is early enough to try and come up with a solution." Ron nodded, rising. "Night, Mione." "Yeah," the girl answered absent-mindedly, walking briskly to her room. Ron frowned, shrugged and went to sleep. Moments later the common room was empty; no potential witness present anymore. "Meow!"

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