Master Tong had told her many times that her lack of patience needed tending to. She had never been the type of student to pay attention long enough for his tastes. He would often take her aside and out of earshot of the other pupils, where he would lecture her on growing the wisdom eye somewhere in the middle of that thick forehead of hers.
That’s what she thought about as she stood before her new class. She had already taught the lower years that first week in classic Ancient Runes. It was yawn worthy but necessary fodder to grow magic in a young wizard’s mind. These students however were her elite tribe, the ones to inspire or risk losing to any number of other disciplines. After the end of the year exams, they would either choose to stay on or drop the class. She had special hopes for these young ones. As she looked out on their faces she saw that more than half were from Ravenclaw, some from the other houses and only one, a tall young man, was from Slytherin.
“Settle down, Class!” she called out sharply to the group of twenty chattering students. “We’ve a lot to cover this term and we’re already a week behind.” She smiled knowing they were intrigued by her. She had worn her special robe, a shape fitting superb green shift with a dragon hand painted in china up the front. She removed her teacher’s robe of black and laid it on a chair, and flipped her long braid to her back. The class was silent and watched her breathlessly. She was a dragon woman come alive.
When she’d fully had their attention, she performed the usual getting to know the class bandying back and forth of names that one does on the first day before she launched into her agenda. She could tell that the class had begun to relax.
“Now, class,” she began. “I understand that you are familiar with the Ancient Runes and are looking forward to your exams at the end of the year.” There was a general groan from the students. “That being the case, our Headmaster has given me permission to teach Runes from my own special, perhaps unorthodox point of view in order to broaden your knowledge on the subject.”
“How many in the class are familiar with muggle legends and fairy tales?” she heard a loud snigger from the tall Slytherin boy. “ Mr. Nott!” she hissed. “I’ll not have you interrupt my class with laughter. If you have some joke or opinion, you’ll raise your hand and share it.”
The insolent punk raised his hand. She’d been counting on it. “You have something to volunteer, Mr. Nott?”
“I didn’t come to the class to learn about slime ball muggles!” he said defiantly. There was a murmur amongst the students. Some of them agreed.
She smiled slyly. Slytherin could always be counted on to defy the unorthodox. “Well, young man, that just shows how ignorant you are of the world of magic.” She took out her wand and pointed it to the door to open it. Every student in the room watched as a large ginger cat sauntered into the door as if it owned the whole castle and had every right to be there.
“Crookshanks!” cried Hermione Granger, who was sitting in the first row. “That’s my cat Crookshanks!”
“Yes, Miss Granger,” said Felicity. “I hope you won’t mind that I took the liberty to introduce myself to your cat and he has agreed wholeheartedly to spend a short time with us for this demonstration.”
Another murmur circulated the class as Crookshanks hopped up on the podium and began washing his face acting very bored.
“Now, as I was about to say before Mr. Nott so boldly made his presence known, the muggles have many legends and fairy tales that knowledgeable wizards and witches now know for a fact are not so. Very knowledgeable wizards believe for instance, that animals do not talk and it is not possible to talk to them. Except for those few and chosen individuals who speak Parselmouth, or the few special magical creatures who are able to communicate, we wizards assume that we cannot talk to animals.”
She stepped forward away from the podium and Crookshanks to be closer to the students. “The muggles have a story, very ancient and in many languages, that states that if a human learns the secret name of any creature, that they will owe an allegiance for life. It is believed that animals guard their names fiercely and very few humans are able to learn them. When their name is shared they become of one mind with the human and will be able to communicate freely. Most creatures find us tedious at best and hide their true selves from us.” Mr. Nott was just begging for detention by rolling his eyes and mouthing ‘ridiculous’ to the Ravenclaw girl next to him. “I propose to you that this old wives’ tale is a magic truth.”
Hermione Granger raised her hand so hard that it may have come loose from its socket. “But Professor Wood,” she said breathlessly, “the wizards Masterson and Phillips proved without a doubt in 1852 that it was impossible to know an animal’s name and it was just a muggle distortion without any basis in fact.”
“Yes, poor them,” answered Professor Wood sarcastically. “They wasted their whole careers searching in the wrong place for what they never found. But I assure you, the names exist and humans once knew them. They exist, my dear, deep within the old languages that we share with the muggles. Deep within our ancient Runes, within our Cuneiform, our ancient Persian, our ancient Sanskrit and our Hieroglyphics, somewhere buried by time so that we no longer know the meanings. It is not only the Latin and Greek words that produce magic for a wizard or witch. There are other ancient words that we magic folk once used. We have merely forgotten them, Miss Granger.”
She stepped back to the podium and petted Crookshanks fondly. “Take our young cat here. He is very smart and is a mix of muggle cat and a more magic creature, the kneazel. How did I ask him to be here? How did he know to come at that very moment?”
A young Ravenclaw raised his hand. “Yes, Mr. Boot?”
“Are telling us that you know the cat’s true name?”
“Yes, I am,” she said lightly. “Thank you Mr. Crookshanks, you’ve been very kind to come. Hop over to Miss Granger and give her a rub and you may go and play in the sunshine.”
The class watched silently as Crookshanks hopped down and took his time to make it to Hermione. “If you would hurry it up a bit, Mr. Crookshanks,” she said perturbed at his slowness. “I’ve a class to teach.” Crookshanks looked up at her and mewed but speeded through a quick rub and beat it out the door. With a flick and swish Felicity slammed the door behind him. The class was silent.
“Take out your ancient languages volume and turn to page one fifty to begin our Sanskrit, the magic words.” She smiled at the class knowing she had at the very least made them start thinking a little harder. “We’ll learn about the magic in ancient words, now.” They quickly flipped open their books as she filled up the board behind the podium with an array of words in Sanskrit.
That evening she plopped her body tiredly down next to Professor Snape at dinner. One could always count on an empty seat at table next to Severus. The man was not known for his welcoming nature.
“I’ve had one heck of a day! Whew! Let me tell you!” she said to him.
He glared at her. “Professor Wood, must you always hound me?”
“Must you always sneer at me?”
“I am not sneering and I have better things to think about then how your day went.” Severus looked out at the students with a look that was callous. His gaze rested on his favorite student to glower at, Mr. Harry Potter.
“Severus, look at me,” she said trying to dissuade him from going down that dark road again. He looked at her with a puzzled look. “Do you ever wonder about the magic of words?”
“Is this going to take long?” He was in a very dry humor.
“The word and its magic. When we say a spell with a word and a wand, doesn’t it ever strike you as an odd thing, really?” She looked into his eyes, knowing he thought she was mad. “I’m not mad, or crazy or whatever you’re thinking,” she said turning back to her dinner that had freshly arrived before her, a plate of spaghetti with real meatballs and garlic toast points. She was thrilled with the house elves at Hogwarts. They really knew their stuff.
Severus looked at her dinner in horror but said nothing. It would mean a commitment to conversation if he were to comment on her horrendous taste in food.
“Words that are for making magic are fascinating, that’s all I’m saying.”
Severus grunted and got up to leave. “Please don’t go,” she asked quietly. She reached out and grabbed his arm and he just barely winced in pain, sitting quickly down again.
“I’ve a potion brewing, Professor Wood,” he said gritting his teeth. “I must return to it.” He looked impassively at her. There wasn’t an emotion on his face but she could see beyond to something new in the man that she hadn’t seen before. It was fear.
“Are you okay?”
A slight sneer appeared completely masking the fear that she had seen. “Miss Wood, your questions are often preposterous and your accent is grating!” He acted angry with her but really he wasn’t. It looked as if he was so depressed with what was bothering him that he couldn’t even find the energy to be disdainful.
At that moment the awful woman, Professor Umbridge sat down next to Felicity and started clearing her throat.
Severus seemed to rally enough energy for some meanness to throw at her as he rose to go. “Somebody is in for it,” he whispered in her ear and took his leave. She watched him sadly as he walked away from her while Professor Umbridge cleared her throat beside her waiting to be noticed. She’d only spoken to the woman twice but already loathed her deeply.
“How are you, Professor Umbridge?” she asked politely while picking at her food that no longer looked appetizing.
“Fine. Professor, I’m just delightful and you?” She had a very strange smile plastered on her face.
“Peachy.” Felicity just couldn’t bring herself to like the woman. She was creepy.
“A little birdie told me that you demonstrated talking to animals in your class today, Professor Wood,” said Professor Umbridge in a sugary sweet voice.
Alarm bells rang in Felicity’s head. Mr. Nott was definitely getting a talking to and a detention. “I demonstrated a parlor trick to get the student’s attention, if that’s what you mean.” The woman was very annoying.
“It was a trick? You know the Ministry of Magic does not approve of false claims especially as preposterous and impossible as claiming communication with animals by knowing their secret names, Miss Wood. Particularly when these claims are made during class time.” The puffy pink cow actually giggled. “You’re very young and impressionable, though, Miss Wood. Perhaps the reason you had such poor judgment is because someone told you that tricking the class to get their attention was something you should do?”
“Did Headmaster Dumbledore tell you that it would be a good idea?” she asked sweetly. “You can tell me, dear. I’d love to hear.” The woman’s face would break if she didn’t stop smiling like that. It was hideous.
Felicity had lost her appetite entirely. “I’m sorry Professor Umbridge, I must go to my rooms. I am too tired to even eat my dinner.”
She rose from the table and slowly made her way down the corridor toward the dungeons. She passed a few students who smiled at her as she went. She dragged her hand along the stone relishing the feel of it as she walked down the stairs. Of course, she had to pass Professor Snape’s offices as she went by. The door was open. She only had to touch it with a finger to look inside.
Severus sat at his desk reading a book, his whole room in shadow but for a pool of light around him. He didn’t look up. She entered quietly.
“Must you come in?” he asked with out moving his head. “Must you disturb me once again?”
“I was on by way to my rooms,” she said nervously playing with her long braid as she walked into the classroom and up to his desk.
He looked up then. His face was again completely impassive. The unfortunate man only wanted to be left alone in his misery.
“Why do you have that ridiculously long braid?” he asked in an effort to irritate her.
Felicity moved closer to him. She lifted her braid and laughed lightly at it. “It’s my tail,” she said.
“You are insane.” He said it dully, as if it were just a fact.
“Let me see it,” she said, now that she was close enough to him.
“No.” He was so depressed he didn’t even deny it.
“I knew him too, Severus. A long time ago, he wanted me with him.”
Severus’ eyes focused on her in alarm. “What do you mean?”
“When I met him first I was just sixteen,” she said sadly. “It was a particularly hard year for me. I had been with my father in Tibet and something happened. I couldn’t go back to Prior Academy and finish my education.” She lifted her hands in dismay at the memory. “We then went to Scotland for our gathering and he came in search of us, for my family.” Severus watched her listening, his eyes intent on her. “He killed my cousin Harold and his family,” she whispered. “Even the baby, it was terrible.”
“Yes,” he said, as if he remembered it, too.
“We escaped, but he followed us. I was sixteen. Finally, my father sent me back to Tibet where I lived for a few more years.” She reached slowly for his arm. He didn’t protest. “When I was nineteen, I tried to come back home, my father was in London then just trying to stay ahead of the Death Eaters and do his job at the Ministry.” She held his arm and gently pushed back his sleeve. “He found out about me. I was of interest to him.”
“Because I’m very special, Severus Snape,” she whispered. “Just in case you hadn’t noticed it, yet. I’m someone the Dark Lord would find handy to have in his arsenal of evils, just as you are.” Her green eyes fixed onto his black. She could feel him pushing into her mind. He was really quite subtle. Not many were. Voldemort, for instance, was brutal in entering another’s mind. She’d only made that mistake once.
She let him see only one memory of Voldemort so he would understand and then pushed the door close on him. He blinked in surprise.
“I can make the pain go away for awhile if you’ll trust me, Severus,” she said evenly.
He said nothing. She could tell that he wanted to trust her, wanted the pain to just leave him, that he would do anything to make it stop, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask her for help. She looked at him with pride. For all his severity and sneering, she looked on him and saw only that he was the Master of Slytherin House. Her house. He would not ask her for help, but she would give it.
“Close your eyes,” she said quietly.
“You must, Severus. You won’t want to look.”
He obeyed. She didn’t let go of his arm as she reached for her wand that she touched lightly to the middle of his forehead whispering a small sleeping spell. When he was asleep, she released his arm and went right to work. Taking out a pouch of powder that she always carried, she searched around his room for a shallow bowl, cleaned it thoroughly and returned to him. She then put the powder in the bowl and cut the inside of her palm with a small knife letting the blood flow into it. After sealing the cut with her wand, she mixed and spread the poultice on the Dark Lord’s mark and whispered an incantation as she rolled her wand over the area. The poultice glowed a vivid green and then darkened and soaked into the skin turning the area a deep black. This done, she washed all trace of her work and went back to him.
For just a second before waking him, she looked at his face. No one would say he was handsome, certainly. His strong nose, his greasy long hair and that furrow from years of frowning on his forehead made him look older than he certainly was. He was Head of Slytherin House. She kissed him fondly on the forehead and woke him up with her wand.
“Do you feel better?”
“I do.” He was taken aback.
“Is the pain gone?”
“Yes.” The look on his face might have been a smile if he’d tried practicing once in awhile.
“Good! Because I’m exhausted and have to go to bed,” she said turning to go.
“What did you do?” Severus never had liked to be in the dark on any subject that related to him.
“You don’t want to know. It should work for another month and then we’ll do it again. I sealed the mark against his call.”
She turned to go but now he couldn’t let her leave.
“How did you get away from him, Miss Wood?” he asked. There was tiny note of desperation in his voice that broke her heart.
“I am no one’s servant, Professor Snape,” she said proudly. “Even the Dark Lord is not strong enough to make me his slave.”
“Why are you so blessed?” he said sarcastically, sitting back in his chair. “How did you escape?” There was a hard edge in his question.
“Someday, I’ll tell you, Severus. I need to go to bed now.”
“Goodnight then, Felicity,” he said letting her go and acting as if he’d called her by her first name all the time.
When she reached her quarters she sealed the door with magic against any unwanted intruders and took off her clothes as quickly as she could. Blood magic was tiring for so many reasons and it had been such a long day. She was exhausted. Master Tong had warned her that a series of long days without release into her dragon self would be hard for her. He was right. She needed to change quickly for she’d held off too long. She transformed her slim form rapidly, and taking the time needed to rub her scaled body up against the cool stonewalls, she curled up and went into a deep and much needed sleep.
A/N: Please take a second to review! I'd love to hear what you think. :) Pru
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