Sorry that this has taken so long. More as soon as it comes.
Like Cats and Dogs
Remus tracked Emily down as she was lifting a biting spell that had set itself into a wall.
Like his fellow offender, Lucius Malfoy was about the castle - with a restored Auror Sotherland at his elbow - removing and dispersing misfired hexes. Emily had Severus at her heels, the scent of his fury only starting to dissipate.
"Well. That was educational." Actually the whole day had been more educational than he really wanted to contemplate. Life was complicated enough, but new problems were sprouting everywhere.
Emily sighed but said nothing as the bite-spell wisped into nothingness with a fading growl.
"Are you all right?" He could tell nothing at all from her scent; it was jumbled and turbulent despite her apparent calm.
"Lucius didn't get anything through that I couldn't handle. I'm fine."
Severus snorted and Remus agreed. Very much not 'fine.'
"I mean you. Are you all right?"
Emily took a deep breath and turned away. "No. I have to say that, no, I am not all right. I would rather be anywhere on the green earth than here. I want to go back to my own home, my own bed, my own mate and my own kind. As soon as I can find a suitable replacement, I will be leaving as fast as I possibly can."
Her 'kind.' Oh, not so thick-skinned as we thought, are we?
"Emmy…" This was bad. Remus had this under his nose once before and had not known it for what it was and by the time he had figured it out, it was far too little, far too late.
He was never alone anymore. Everywhere Severus went, he was in a knot of green, black and silver. Severus was with his pack, and lord help anyone who got in their way.
The only time Remus figured he might have a chance was in the evenings, when Severus went to the pitch to abuse bludgers, trying to get his swing back in time for the Cup. So Remus waited near the equipment room for the Slytherin Beater to stow the gear before disappearing once more into his lair.
"Severus? I… if you have a moment, I'd like…"
"I have nothing to say to you, nor do I have anything that I want to hear from you. Just stay away from me, Lupin, far away – and your keepers, as well."
"I don't belong here. I don't want to belong here. This is not my place." She bit the words short and then looked down at Severus as he butted her calf, "I'm sorry, I can't. You and Toffee can do as you please, but I…"
Catching her as she brushed by him, Remus exerted his strength to stop her. "Emmy, just promise me – nothing in haste, please. Make no big decisions when you are this out of sorts."
"Yow." Severus was figure-eighting her ankles and occasionally glaring at Remus.
"See? Everyone agrees."
Emily rubbed at the back of her neck. "Fine, no decisions bigger than the dosage of headache powder."
"Look, I'll make our excuses at dinner. You're tired and I don't care to be punched in the nose with everyone's state of mind right now." He could tickle the pear and bespeak a tray for them both. "Go ease your headache and I'll meet you in your- in Severus' rooms. I find myself in need of advice from a proud young witch, if you can give it."
A hesitation and Emily nodded. "I'll leave the wards down."
Sirius felt the hand tangle in his ruff and opened one eye. Hermione was still deeply asleep with her familiar, Crookshanks, sleeping next to her head on the pillow.
Nice girl, Hermione. Poor kid. Some Muggle-borns never got used to a broom, but he'd never actually met anyone who was afraid of heights.
From the look of her when Remus brought her in… well, they'd have to really work to get her up to a level where she could pass the flying portion of her OWLS. It wouldn't have much of an effect if she didn't pass, but it would bring down her overall score – and Sirius had a feeling that Hermione's swot pride would not countenance a lower grade.
Sirius huffed a little. The scent of her terror-sweat still clung to her; nothing else had the cold stink of that particular emotion - it was like winter carrion. Something nagged at the back of his mind, a memory that went with the smell, but nothing came immediately to the fore. Sirius dismissed it.
Still, it was funny to see Remus get all flustered and jumpy last night when Hermione had cornered him. Her questions might have been all business, but her scent was something else.
Hermione had a crush.
Not a little-girl moonbeams-and-magic crush either, but a full-bore adolescent hormonal overdrive crush that was like having one's nose stroked with rose petals.
Over Remus! His little Moony was all grown up. Too bad Sirius wasn't in human form to tease him about it. He'd tease Hermione, too, just to see her blush, just the way he had once teased Lily Evans.
Still, Sirius had been deeply touched by the children's concern, even if he was very unsure how to reciprocate. He was also very grateful that Ron did not harbor much of a grudge over Sirius breaking his leg.
The door opened a crack and Sirius raised his head to see Harry peering into the room. The boy had been absolutely guilt-stricken over not knowing about Hermione's phobia and had been 'what if-ing' all night. He was convinced that he had put his friend in horrible danger even with Remus and Ron pointing out that Hermione had kept her fear very well concealed. The boy was still traumatized from the events of the Tri-Wizard Tournament and well he might be! That had been enough to shake an Auror, and no mistake.
Sirius let his tail loose and it thumped the bed softly. He could play the friendly, silly dog when it made Harry grin so.
Harry smiled and whispered, "You must be the happiest bloody dog in the world, Toffee."
No need to correct him on that assumption, Harry had enough to handle without knowing his godfather was an utter, irredeemable prat. With tongue lolling out of a canine grin, he thumped his tail harder, causing his godson to come over and hold the bloody thing down.
"Shh! You'll wake 'Mione." Harry did not seem disposed to leave, instead settling on the edge of the bed and continuing to pet Sirius. Lonely-smell was also quite distinct - small and chilly – and so Sirius ramped up the Loveable Goddamned Border Collie act. "Such a happy dog. You're so lucky to have someone like Remus. Do you know that? He's lucky to have you. I think he's been very lonely for a long time." There was a slight hitch in Harry's voice as he lowered his head to whisper in Sirius' ear. "He's afraid that people are going to get hurt just by being around him, that maybe just being his friend is enough to get someone killed or worse."
Oh, Harry, you're not talking about Remus, are you?
As if Harry could hear his thought, the boy buried his face in Sirius' fur and wept in a quiet, controlled way that told Sirius not enough and too much. That's it, he was going down to Snape and he would…
Would what? Go to Snape, show throat and be turned back into Wizards' Most Wanted - Sirius Black, murderer and escapee?
Yes, that would really help Harry, now wouldn't it?
There were times when it was easier to be a dog, but this was not one of them.
Emily picked at her dinner and finally pushed it aside less than half-eaten, as she waited for Remus to finish his dinner and Snape to finish his wash.
It was post-fight crash and - for a moment - she thought about going down to the Hog's Head and having a few whiskeys. With a shake of her head, she dismissed the thought – the last thing she needed to add alcohol to her already volatile state. Aside from that, she had a Dark Arts class of Ravenclaw third-years first thing in the morning, followed by the Advanced students before lunch and the Slytherin/Ravenclaw seventh-years afterward. At least the day ended with a comparatively easy class of Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw second-years
The only thing good about this day was that the headache powder was working.
"I don't suppose you'd be interested in desert? One of the house-elves was rather insistent that I take –" Remus did an uncanny imitation of house-elf speech pattern, " 'the lemon tart to Emmy Mayborne, is Miss' favorite!' "
Emily shrugged, "I'm poor company, Remus. Sorry."
"Want to talk about it?" He was cutting a prodigious slice of the lemon tart. "You really lost it with Malfoy."
Emily got up from the table and walked to the sofa. "Nothing much to tell." She shook her head and flopped back against the cushions of the sofa. "We have a history, Lucius and I. But you said you needed some advice?"
Remus floated her a plate with a slice of tart and a fork. "Nice way of avoiding the subject, Emmy, but I do. Rather urgently."
"Whatever I can do." The tart was as good as she remembered. It tasted much better without swallowing her pride along with it.
"The first part is about a young witch with a problem – she's got a paralyzing fear of heights. I pulled her off the top of Gryffindor and she fainted." Remus rested his elbows on his knees, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Now she's practical sort, but as proud as sin, and might not talk even to her friends over something she felt might diminish her in their eyes." Emily arched an eyebrow only to have Remus arch one right back. "To say the least, she's mortally embarrassed."
Emily considered. "I'd say that she'd need someone to teach her who was not her friend – an impartial third party. Someone whose good opinion she does not need to consider. It would also be good to find out just how far up she can go before her phobia kicks in, that way you can push her higher in increments."
Remus nodded and raked a hand through his silvered hair. "That's along the lines of what I was thinking, but there is one other matter in which I need… I find myself…" With a deep breath and with his eyes fixed on the wall behind her, spilled the situation. "It's hard to mistake sexual desire for anything else, in fact it's impossible. I thought I was just catching the tail end of her crush for someone else, but just before the calming draught put her under…"
Emily was fascinated to see a werewolf blush and had to swallow a laugh at his discomfiture.
Remus growled. "You try it sometime, Miss Smell-So-Sweet. It's like being beaten with flower petals. Like being drowned in silk. There's no fear of me in her, or in you – I can't even start to tell you what that says to the wolf."
He didn't need to tell her. The quick flicker of his eyes over her body, the color gilding his cheekbones brought a deep, pleasant twinge from within.
Bloody hell, Missy! What are you doing putting these ideas in my head?
Speaking over the thought, Emily asked, "How old is this girl?"
Remus mumbled, "Fifth year."
Raising an eyebrow, Emily smiled, "Ah, fifteen. As I remember fifteen, she's probably bubbling with hormones. If she hasn't yet run the course, I'd bet that she's tickling her fancy and thinking about it."
Snape jumped off the bookcase and went to hide behind the reading chair. Remus made some inarticulate gargle and buried his scarlet face in his hands.
"What? Oh… you pureblood men! You can't stand to hear a woman actually talk about sex? I'm tripping over double standards everywhere today!" She eyed the blushing man and grinned wickedly. "Sex. Intercourse." She honeyed the words, letting them slip off her tongue and into the air. "Animal congress. Making the Beast with Two Backs. Screwing. Banging. Boffing. Bonking. Bumping fuzzies. Doing the horizontal mambo. Having a good night's ride. In other words – fucking!"
The last word was something short of an aria and echoed from the stonework.
"MEROWR!" Snape leaped the back of the chair and shook a paw at her.
"Since I can't speak feline, I'll assume that was either a detention or fifty points from Ravenclaw and you can kiss my arse." Emily leant down to look him right in the eyes. How dare he! Snape of all people! The bloody man had his hands down her knickers one cold night, kissed her brain into a knot of firing ganglia, and NOW he decided to play the nanny? "And you've no room to talk, either, not with your schoolboy reputation. Dormitory sheets, remember?"
Snape laid his ears back and Remus choked on laughter.
Emily turned to him and Remus raised his hands in surrender. "Modern witch. Sorry, I know. I just don't want to think about my students… I know that I was fifteen once, too, but it makes me feel like a pervert."
"Remus, by the time I was fifteen Missy and I were lovers. We were left to figure it out for ourselves. We had no guidance other than a few books and pamphlets." Emily shook her head, " It's better to talk about it, and do it realistically and honestly. This is the action, and that is the immediate consequence, while those are the long-term consequences."
"I don't even know what information she has, Emily. Frankly, I just want to talk her out of this and see her with a nice young… ah… person." The man practically writhed in embarrassment. "I'm not comfortable with being… thought about… like that… and she's so young!"
"Remus, she's fifteen, biologically mature, and not stupid. It's very likely that you are the Unattainable Male – the safe crush. If she seems approachable on the subject, talk to her about it." The man made a gargling sound and paled. "Just tell her that you are flattered – and don't deny that you are flattered, you old wolf – but that your honor and commitment to the school does not permit and such like that."
Remus nodded. "That she will understand. She's got her head on right, that one."
Emily continued, "And if she still feels the same way a year from now, it's most likely genuine feeling and you should accede – with due discretion and the agreement of your mate - to her wishes."
Severus yowled at the top of his lungs.
What do you mean 'accede to her wishes!' Have you gone insane? She's a student!
"Look - you and I have issues to discuss. " Emily bent so that her lips were brushing his ear. "You stopped. I was willing and maybe you were right to stop then for the reasons you gave me. It does not change the fact that I did not change my mind about it, or you for the rest of the year. Even when you gave me that completely uncalled-for detention."
The reasons I gave were perfectly valid, and of course I was right about them! You were popping with hormones, under the influence of Old magic. I could have done as I pleased with you, and never forget it!
Then the rest of what she said hit him.
What do you mean you didn't change your mind?
And Severus found himself hit right between the eyes with his own double standard. He had been regretting not taking what had been so willingly and enticingly offered, and for all of this time she had… been… thought… and…
And she didn't…!
What's more, she…!
And that detention had indeed been called for! Impertinent, wretched girl! He should have spanked her with her own wand that very night!
The Werewolf was staring at him. "Emily, I don't believe I've ever seen a cat splutter before - and I know that I have never seen Severus do it."
"Fine. About time someone knocked him off his high horse," Emily sniffed, "he was suffering from altitude sickness."
You… you… I cannot believe that you would advocate… and… what high horse is that, Miss? It's very disappointing to have you attack me when I cannot speak in my own defense, and unworthy of you. If you will recall, Professor Pretty, you could barely stand after we hexed Peeves and…
The brushing sensation in his whiskers this afternoon when Lucius had snatched him up had the same feeling as the power they had raised between them in their passion that night. If Lucius had truly attempted to harm him, there would have been a big scorch mark and possibly a small crater where Lucius had been standing.
"That's it, we're going to Filch."
He evaded Emily's reach with a swat and hiss, leaping to the top of the bookcases. Not until he figured a few things out was Severus inclined to go anywhere.
"Fine, but you are going to see Filch," she shook a finger at him, "just as soon as I can manage it. You looked like someone hit you in the head with a hammer!"
Minerva sat lightly on a round, puffy cushion as she regarded the pair before her. Lucius Malfoy – still the rich, spoiled, ambitious, brilliant brat he had been twenty-four years ago. Emily Mayborne – the mild and unprepossessing veneer covering a stubborn core, explosive temper and a streak of absolute ruthlessness.
And both of them between twenty-three and forty-two had a lot of growing up to do. Good lord, what had they been thinking? Had they been thinking or had things degenerated so badly after Emily and Artemisia left school that the pair of them were now simply bent on one another's destruction? Some of those spells flung about during the duel were designed to disable an opponent – a good few of them permanently.
Minerva held out her hands, "Your wands."
Emily handed hers over with the same flat look that she'd had on her face at the pitch. Lucius seemed about to protest, but after a glance at Emily handed his over as well.
The spells cast by both of them were laid out plainly. She ought to wash both their mouths out with the strongest soap she could find.
Both had the grace to look embarrassed.
"If you two were still students, both your Houses would have lost fifty points for each of these spells. You would both be on Restriction, if not expelled outright. Your punishment is to be treated as the children you evidently still are."
Both studied the floor, saying nothing – which was quite well with Minerva. There was nothing they could say. Even Lucius with his talent for wiggling out from under the axe couldn't put a good face on this one. How appalled he must be at being balked by a willful child – and even more at losing control of himself over it. Emily seemed remorseful over her conduct, but only in relation to the person who had triggered it.
"You know your punishment, so pick up the parchment and get to it - and the writing must be legible, Lucius." The blonde man glowered but said nothing. "Neither of you may leave until the other finishes, so whomever finishes first must sit quietly until the other of you is done."
The two of them looked at the indicated desk and then at each other with expressions that clearly said they'd rather sit in a pile of manure.
Minerva's patience gave out. "Sit!"
With great care and stony countenance, they sat, each trying to behave in a way that said that they were completely alone. Heads bent to the task and there was a scratch of quill on parchment.
Minerva shifted again, repressing a sigh. Between Severus and Sirius, Emily and Lucius, she was starting to wonder if anyone every truly grew up.
Lucius and Emily had been out for blood from Emily's sixth year. Artemisia had refused the marriage arranged for her and told her parents that she was a lesbian, and that Emily Mayborne was her lover. Lucius had tried everything on the brighter side of legal to force his daughter to comply, but the girl's maternal grandmother had stepped in and forced Lucius to back off. That did not stop him from attacking what he saw as the weakest link in the chain – Emily. Emily had come roaring right back at him and this had enraged him all the more. Once Emily's parents – the girl's mother was a from a cadet branch of the Hainaults – were in the fray, things had become very ugly, very quickly. And through it all Emily simply became more and more stubborn.
Severus had once mentioned that the girl was one of the most headstrong individuals with whom he'd ever been at odds. Minerva remembered the incident with the warming potion and the foolery that followed. It had been hilarious to watch a tight-arsed Severus trying to ride herd on the determined Ravenclaw – and to watch the determined Ravenclaw frustrate the tight-arsed Potions Master.
An unseemly giggle was firmly quashed. Severus, having been much acquainted with venery, vice, and debauchery was ever on the hunt for students straying down those paths. He knew every snogging spot, hidey-hole, and out-of-the-way place where a student might engage in such behavior – after all, he'd had plenty of experience during his own school days. It was also unfortunate that Severus – who at times seemed to have been raised either in a bawdy house or by rabid Presbyterians – could be paranoid about those he imagined were tripping merrily down the path to damnation.
Emily Mayborne had been one such – and the resulting foolery had been epic on both sides.
Lucius was another story. The arrogant pureblood had been so since his first year – he broke rules not in order to gain attention, but for the sheer delight of escaping punishment. Prejudiced, judgmental, and haughty, Lucius wanted things his way and would undertake any course of action to have them so. He was brilliant as well as devious and ambitious.
A little more brilliance than ambition and Lucius could have been a Ravenclaw, his marks had been that good.
Another thought occurred to Minerva – with a little more ambition than brilliance, Emily might have been Slytherin.
Right on the heels of that thought came another – Lucius Malfoy and Emily Mayborne did not hate each other because they were nothing alike; they hated each other because they were only a few degrees off being exactly alike.
Lucius was brooding.
Not that he would ever admit it, of course, men never did – but brooding it was nonetheless.
Narcissa smiled. He even managed to look good doing it. Sitting in front of the fire in his darkened study, slouched in that Awful Chair, shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest, his hair loose and brows screwed into a scowl.
Poor darling. His pride had taken a terrible beating today. Lucius had made an ass of himself – and hence of her - starting with that Howler and ending with detention. There was a lot to be forgiven – but she would never admit it – and thus he could not bring it up without making himself look in the wrong.
All of which he understood, and it was chafing him like starched knickers.
"I told the House Elves not to disturb you." Lucius snapped, eyes never wavering from his inspection of the flames.
There was a gentle art to the soothing of her husband's considerable and occasionally stormy ego; Narcissa had learned it over the course of over two decades of marriage. She stepped from the shadows, the white silk of her robe and negligee swirling around her. She had borne two children, but had done her best to keep her body in top condition – she was no longer the teen Quidditch queen, but she had filled out in a way that she did not find unpleasant.
"They did not need to tell me, I heard you when you came stomping in." With that light teasing, she came to rest her hand on the marble of the mantel, letting the fire give all the illumination she needed. The silk was thin enough that he could pick out the shadow of her body within it.
Whatever he was about to say changed as he took in her state of undress and her loose hair, "I'm sorry, I did not mean to wake you."
Walking to him, she pushed his legs apart and sank to her knees between them, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head on his chest. The silk of his shirt was warm under her cheek and she could hear the beat of his heart quicken as he threaded his fingers through her hair.
Was it so odd that she had fallen in love with her husband? That she wanted his touch more now than she had when she was a new bride? Narcissa was under no illusions that many of her peers loved, much less liked or lusted for their mates. Nor was she living with any illusions that Lucius never shared anyone else's bed – he did, and she would wager that she knew every time it had happened.
But he never rubbed her nose in it, was never flagrant, never brought his toys home and never was less than perfect to her in all ways. In a way, her heart ached for Lucius; the girls he chose were young and pretty, like a garden in their variety of prettiness, but the boys were all the same - black hair, dark eyes, pale skin.
From the nursery, Narcissa had known that she would be given in marriage, and so had been careful with her heart. Poor Lucius, her white tiger, had lost his and never suspected until it was too late.
Lucius growled and fell silent, his fingertips rubbing her scalp. Narcissa loosened a button on his shirt, then another before slipping her fingers in to rest on his chest. She smiled as she felt his heartbeat quicken, "I wasn't asleep."