A/N: I'm sorry this took forever to get out! I had finals, and then work started, and. . . well, I should be back on schedule now. Chapter eight is started (at long last) and I'm working on the appendix. . . it will evenutally be reposted on another website.
Another note must go out to the lovely Christine Bubbles, who very graciously agreed to Brit-beta for me. Along with She's A Star, I hope this fic will show the improvement. Any other mistakes are mine and mine alone. Reviews are always, of course, appreciated and much loved.
Chapter 7: Tea!
Rise and shine! Harry blinked his eyes rapidly in face of the sudden flood of light that filled his room. Ouch. This was painful. One minute, he'd been having a fantastic dream in his nice, dark room. . . and the next he was staring into Severus Snape's sallow face.
Huh-- what? Snape? What the hell-- Harry pushed himself up, utterly bewildered by the twisted little smile residing on Snape's face.
Language, Potter, Snape said, sounding positively delighted-- which he probably was. Evil bastard. Harry hated him. Which wasn't new, or anything. . . but it was five bloody o'clock in the morning. Surely a little more loathing wouldn't hurt?
I hate you, Harry muttered, dropping his face into his pillow to muffle the words.
What was that, Potter?
Go Harry muttered, pulling his blankets over his head. Ah. That was better. Nice, quiet, dark, and-- he cracked one eye open. No, his vision wasn't fooling him.
It was Snape. Again.
Go away, Snape, Harry growled, tugging on the blankets to get them back. Go away, he repeated, flopping onto his back.
Snape said coolly, his bony fingers closing around the light coverlet. Now, up and at em, Potter. I believe you're doing all the household chores today?
Bugger off, Harry mumbled, his fingers feeling around for his glasses.
What was that?
Harry said grumpily, pushing his way out of bed and glaring at Snape. Oh, where was Amalthea when you needed her? he ordered as he slid his feet into the slippers. My room. Not yours.
Little wonder, Potter, why you are the savior of the wizarding world if you can determine-- A strangled gasp cut him off.
Harry, deciding that living was quite overrated, had picked up a pillow and hurled it at Snape's head.
Amalthea had her hands fixed around a cup of coffee and was staring mournfully into its depths when Harry had finally managed to comb all the feathers out of his hair and was scrubbing the dishes with a faint smile on his face.
Do I want to know? she asked finally, sending him a nervous look.
I won, Harry said smugly, giving the glass a final pat with the sponge before moving onto the plates.
I didn't want to know, I think, she said with a sigh. She poked absently at the sugar before taking a long sip of coffee. Does it seem like we've been here longer than a few days to you?
Several years, Severus sniped as he entered the room and glared at Harry.
Thank you, Amalthea said dryly, passing him the toast and rubbing a hand against her neck. Long enough for you to have mastered toast, at any rate.
Snape curled his lip at her and poured himself a cup of juice. Harry smirked faintly at the dishes and finished up with a spray of hot water across the counter.
Come eat, Harry, Amalthea said finally, rising from the table with her empty plates. You don't eat enough, she added, taking the bacon from Snape and passing it over.
I wasn't finished, Snape complained, spearing his eggs with a trifle more vengence than necessary.
Oh, poor you, Amalthea said placidly as she tipped her coffee cup up for the last dregs.
Why do you drink that sludge?
she replied matter-of-factly. I need it. You kept me up last night with your snoring. Harry could have sworn that she threw him a quick wink before turning to wash her dishes.
Snape raised an eyebrow. I have never snored, Amalthea, and I am fairly certain that I did not start last night.
Ron snores, Harry offered as he dug into his breakfast.
Well, that was enlightening, Snape snapped. I'm certain my entire life shall be improved by that stellar bit of knowledge.
It was polite conversation.
It was completely nonessential conversation, that's what it was.
Don't start, Amalthea said warningly. She brandished the a fork at the two of them, and Harry swallowed. It's too early in the morning to start. I just barely had my coffee, and it's not nearly as good as the stuff they sell in Hogsmeade, so don't push me.
. . . who talks like that, anyway? Harry asked snidely after checking to make sure Amalthea was happily settled with her second cup of coffee. Completely nonessential conversation? He dropped his voice to a lower growl to mimic Snape and the older man sneered at him.
Potter, simply because you limit your vocabularly to Quidditch terms--
I talk about more than Quidditch! Harry said indignantly.
Oh, I'm certain the occasional remark about the female sex crosses your lips as well--
Get stuffed, Harry growled under his breath as he finished breakfast.
Be nice, Amalthea chided absently. Snape regarded Amalthea as if she had just informed him that Voldemort was designing a line of women's undergarments. Amalthea raised an eyebrow in return and pushed her spectacles up her noes.
This is quite a civil exchange for Potter and I, Amalthea.
she asked wryly, eyeing the coffee pot as if deciding whether or not to have a third go. Well, it's so nice to know that we have good relationships in this facade.
I think so, Harry said cheerfully. I'm going over to Thomas's, all right?
No, you aren't, Snape snapped. His black eyes glittered. You're staying here today.
Amalthea began, rubbing her forehead with a sigh.
Harry said, nodding very seriously. You're absolutely right. I'd much rather stay here and follow you all over the house, talking about Quidditch, and then, when you leave, I'll just organize all your clothes--
Snape had gone pale. Really, Potter, there's no need to make a nuisance of yourself. I'm certain that you can do that just as well with your little friends.
Oh, thanks! Harry said brightly, as if it had been Snape's idea in the first place. I'll be back before tea to talk, all right?
That's fine, Amalthea said indulgently. Do you want some money in case you go out? Get yourself a snack or something like.
Harry grinned a little shyly. That would be nice, thanks.
Amalthea smiled back at him, ignoring Snape's obvious displeasure. There are a few pounds in my purse, go ahead and take it all. I'll get more money later on.
In response to Snape's glare, she rolled her eyes. Come off of it, Severus. He's not spoiled in the least. In fact, I get the impression that he hasn't had a lot of happiness in his lifetime.
Snape spat. A vein in his forehead was throbbing lightly. He's the darling of the wizarding world, Amalthea. He's been given everything--
You don't know that, Amalthea said sensibly. There's something odd about him that I see. And I don't think a lot of people notice this.
Like what? Snape asked, a sneer crossing his face that plainly said the only thing wrong with Potter was the fact of his existence.
Like why does he wear such nice robes at Hogwarts and Muggle hand-me-downs underneath them? Amalthea asked, her eyebrows raised. Why did he practically beg Albus to stay at Hogwarts over the summer?
Because he's used to getting what he wants, Snape replied dryly. And like everyone else, you are blinded by the fact of his fame.
Amalthea shook her head. I don't think so. She piled the rest of the dishes in the sink. And it wouldn't kill you to be a little nicer to him, either.
Snape said, looking doubtful about her sanity. I am not a nice person. Nor do I have any desire to become one.
She laughed softly. I believe I caught that, Severus. Her face turned serious for a moment. But at least try being somewhat civil to him. I don't know how much longer I can stand this constant arguing without dragging Albus into it. She shot him a meaningful look. I'm sure he'd be so pleased to have to come pull you out of this mission because you couldn't control your dislikes.
Snape raised an eyebrow at her. Blackmail, Amalthea? How Slytherin of you. She continued to look at him, and he conceded after a few minutes. Very well. I'll attempt such an impossible exercise.
How generous, Amalthea said sardonically. She sent him a quick smile.
I do try. His shoulders slumped, just noticeably. How long until tea? he asked neutrally, drumming his fingers against the counter.
Her eyes narrowed, but she decided to let it go. Not until four o'clock.
He grunted. And I suppose this will be one of the last days we can permanantly ship Potter off to his friend's?
She tried very hard to hide a smile. Sorry, Severus.
Very well, Snape said with a sigh. I'm going to explore the neighborhood, map out possible routes of escape-- for us, or for our favorite agents, I don't know yet. Perhaps I'll ask around for some information.
Leave the diplomacy to me, Amalthea advised, drying the last dish. You scare people.
He snorted. People are, for the most part, idiots, Amalthea. He looked around the house. What do you plan to do?
She wiped her hands on her skirt. I think I'll experiment with the . . . conputer? I think that's what it's called. No, she corrected herself. It's the computer. Harry told me a little about it last night-- he didn't know very much either, and it seems quite helpful.
I don't know if I would trust what Potter thinks. . . he trailed off at the sight of her expression. Oh, very well. I will see you in a few hours, then.
Pick Harry up on your way home, please, she called after him as she settled down at the computer. He grunted again and she pressed the on button, dismissing thoughts of Severus and Harry. Hmm. This would be interesting.
E-mail, Internet. . . . she murmured to herself. Hmm. Chat. I wonder what that is.
The text scrolled across the faintly glowing screen.
so u wanna cyber??/
Amalthea stared in confusion at the computer. She'd been getting along very well, entering the Women Over Thirty chat room and watching the text run by at rapid paces. . . but no one had ever mentioned this before. Well, it sounded vaguely intergalactic, and she was rather an expert in matters such as those.
She took a long sip of her ice water and leaned forward, loosening the collar of her pale grey blouse as she did so. Goodness, but perhaps she ought to open a window in here. It was dreadfully uncomfortable--
r u hot rite now?
She blinked at the screen. How had it done that?
Yes. . . how did you know?
She was hard-pressed to supress a smile as she wait for her chat partner' to finish typing. Muggle technology was really quite fascinating-- it was amazing, the tricks they pulled in order to get around not having magic. . .
i have my ways. what r u wearing?
Perhaps she was even speaking' with a Muggle weather predictor!
Blouse and skirt.
She tapped a fingernail against the keyboard.
take it off.
He couldn't have meant that.
*hehe* take it off, baibie.
Now, this was getting rather irritating. She had told him quite clearly her name was Amalthea.
iz gettin to hot for u, rite?
Oh, it was simply a peculiar Muggle weather instruction. She pressed a hand over her flaming cheeks. She really had to stop blushing at every simple instruction that came her way. Casting a nervous glance over her shoulder, she unbuttoned her blouse and slid it off her shoulders. Very well, then. Harry was off with Severus, and she was perfectly safe in her own house.
Okay. . . I took off my blouse. Now what?
She unsuccessfully resisted the temptation to snatch Severus' light jacket and huddle inside it. She was simply not accustomed to sitting around, half-dressed, regardless of the effect on the weather.
i am a twenty-six yr old male wit a big one 4 u!!!1
She flushed, reaching for a bourbon biscuit and popping it into her mouth. Muggles were so dreadfully peculiar. . . she couldn't imagine why they couldn't just come right out and say what they meant for her to do.
. . .
u wanna go down on me? rite? or do u wanna me too rok u r world?
Amalthea stood up, the jacket sliding off of her shoulders. Now, this was clearly not a weather predictor. This was. . . her face turned scarlet. Muggles! They were deranged!
Amalthea, I would ask what you're doing, but I believe I'm rather afraid of the answer, came Snape's voice dryly behind her. Would you like to take the time to dress yourself?
Her mouth opened wide as he strode past her to the computer. Amalthea, what have you been doing? He sounded more than slightly exasperated. Humph. See him deal with those idiotic Muggles.
she said indignantly even as she buttoned her blouse back up, aware that she was blushing furiously. Blame the Muggles! They're-- they're twisted! They're-- well, they're just insane!
Who's insane? Harry asked, wandering into the study with a package of sweets that he was trying to get in with his teeth. He took it out of his mouth with a sigh and looked at it. Can somebody help me open this?
Amalthea is insane, Snape said sourly as he snatched the package from Harry and brandished a letter opener like a sword. And if you'd just have patience, perhaps you could open packages without resorting to animalistic techniques.
Muggles are insane, Amalthea retorted, folding her arms and glaring at the computer. The little chat icon was blinking away merrily, but she merely gave it a very Snape-like sneer and turned to Harry. You're having sweets for dinner?
Harry shrugged. I like sweets. I'll have a glass of milk or something with it, he said in response to her raised eyebrow.
Amalthea, charming as it is to see you act as a nutritionist--
We'll fix something, Amalthea said abruptly, taking the package from Harry's hands and marching off towards the kitchen. Come on, perhaps we can try making something to eat.
Snape snorted at Potter's slightly demoralized look as he watched the sweets go with Amalthea into the kitchen.
Amalthea said sternly, poking her head out of the room, you come too.
Hold this, please, Harry directed, handing Amalthea a measuring cup as Snape glared malevolently at some vegetables Harry had chopped.
What part cut it evenly' do you not understand?
They are even! Harry snapped back, jabbing a finger at the celery. Amalthea gave a soft sigh and looked at the water she held. First it had been about washing the plates before the table was set, then if the floor should be cleaned each morning. . . she was going to go mad. Positively, barking mad.
After this perhaps a nice shot at defeating He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would be in order.
Snape curled a lip at it. Shoddy work, shoddy work. It's no wonder, really, why your grades are what they are.
My grades are fine, Harry said grumpily.
She was fairly certain You-Know-Who did not argue with his minions over the process of cutting vegetables. Maiming Muggles, probably, but not celery.
That would be an amusing conversation to witness, really.
This, however, was not.
For Merlin's sake, have you learned nothing in Potions? If you put your fingers there and the knife slips, you lose your fingers. Now, if you are truly that anxious to emulate a few accident-prone individuals, by all means, continue what you are doing.
How would you know-- Harry began to retort with dangerous spirit, but trailed off at the sight of Snape's triumphant face. Evidently, he had remembered that Snape did indeed teach Potions, and would know the proper procedure for chopping things. Never mind, he mumbled to the carrots.
You wouldn't be conceding the point, would you? Snape arched an eyebrow in a weird sort of muted triumph. The great Harry Potter. . . wong? It couldn't possibly be, he said, his voice veritably oozing sarcasm as he looked down his nose at Harry.
Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you? Amalthea muttered to herself as she fetched the glasses from the cabinet. I certainly can't wait for the rest of the summer.