Lamentations of a Starry-Eyed Twit

The Confessions of Auriga Sinistra

Author's Note: Why yes, I do appear to be something approaching insanely productive (or at least, on the Me Scale, I am)! What's up with that?

-Part 26-

Thursday, January 9, 1992

Bedroom Quarters

8:10 A.M.

Well.

It's always so lovely to be reminded of precisely how mad absolutely every single one of my coworkers is. Honestly. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if McGonagall confided in me that she has always harbored a secret desire to take up belly-dancing, or Flitwick ate his own fingernails, or Madam Hooch confessed that she's secretly a man.

. . . well, honestly, that last one wouldn't be entirely shocking.

But you get my point.

In any case, there is a part of me that can't help suspecting that Victoria, Quirrell, and Snape have formed a club called The Let's Drive Poor Auriga Out Of Her Mind Society, and Kettleburn's just been inducted.

Now, let's recount just how lovely this morning was.

Victoria walked in and, instead of 'Hello' or 'Good morning' or even 'Hey, you there,' greeted me with, "I've been giving it some thought, and you ought to shag Snape."

"Um," I answered, "good morning to you, too."

"No time for that," she said impatiently. "I think it's time, don't you?"

At this point, I had decided that the only hope for preserving my sanity was by imagining an entirely different conversation between us. In the imagined conversation, Victoria was making the sort of polite, normal, socially decent conversation that you can expect from most human beings. (Although admittedly, not most of the ones working here.)

"I slept just fine, thank you," I said. "How lovely of you to ask."

"I didn't ask how you slept," Victoria said, frowning. "I told you to sleep with Snape. You know, shag him."

"Yes," I said, with a long-suffering sigh. "You said that already."

"I thought I had," she said, with a little self-satisfied sort of nod. "Then why on earth are you talking about sleeping?"

"Because I refuse to discuss Snape with you ever again," I answered as calmly as I could. "That's why. Also, I'm not going to shag him. Ever."

"Oh, come on," she cajoled, "It's his birthday. I might hate the prat, but you obviously don't, and even he deserves a bit of action, don't you think? Besides," she added with an entirely wicked grin, "You know you want to."

"I know no such thing," I snapped back.

"Please." She rolled her eyes. "You two have been indulging in random snogging sessions over the past couple of years; surely you must realize that you're going to have to take the next step sooner or later? And really, why not today?"

"I don't know," I said, glaring at her. "Maybe because it's never going to happen. Ever."

"You made out with him in the broom closet," she pointed out.

"What?" I realized just about then exactly what a stupid move that had been, and figured I might as well attempt to fix the situation while I still could. Or, well, probably couldn't, but might as well have tried before it wreaked too much damage. "I just made that up so that you would leave me alone."
"Sure," she said knowingly.

"No, Victoria! I swear, I—"

"Just think about it," she ordered, then stood up and flounced on out.

Well, I wasn't going to let her have the last word like that, Notebook! Not for a second.

"You can lock us in all the broom closets in the bloody castle, and I still won't shag Severus Snape!" I shouted after her – conveniently, at the same time as a rather bewildered-looking Quirrell happened to come in.

"G—good morning, Auriga," he said a bit hesitantly, in that troublesome way that civilized people do.

And, well, I couldn't help but feel hugely uncomfortable.

"I'm not going to shag Snape," I assured him, as comfortingly as I could manage. "I mean, that's not denial, or anything. It's just – Victoria has this stupid idea in her head, and she's completely wrong, as usual, and – it's not going to happen. I just . . . thought you ought to know."

"That's n-nice," Quirrell said.

And by that point, well, I figured that I might as well attempt to clear up all of the Whore of Hogwarts suspicions he had probably begun to embrace. This seemed like a perfectly practical idea in my head. Of course, in my head it sounded a lot more convincing and a lot less utterly mental.

"And, um, contrary to what certain – slight – bouts of kissing might have led you to believe, I'm not going to shag you either." He sort of inadvertently twitched a little at that, and I couldn't tell whether he was offended, afraid, or a mixture of the two. Just in case, I went on, "Er, no offense. You're a very nice man and everything. And the turban really is quite – exotic, and I can see how lots of women would go for that. It's just that I'm not . . . one of them."

He stared at me.

"Um, good morning, by the way," I added hastily.

"Yes," Quirrell agreed awkwardly, although he really seemed to be doubting this more and more with every second that passed. "S—sleep well?"

"Yes! And, um, not with anybody else." In retrospect, that bit was probably unnecessary. "Just in case you were . . . wondering."

"Hmm," Quirrell said politely.

"Say," I said as brightly as I could, more to change the subject than anything else. "Didn't you want to talk to me about something?"

His face immediately turned a slightly alarming shade of gray. His eyes flitted to the door, then back to me, then over to the corner, then back to the door, then to me again. It was a little dizzying to watch.

"I k-know you're f-familiar with Snape," he finally said, in what was barely a whisper.

And, fine, I'll admit it: my immediate reaction to this may or may not have been something along the lines of 'Quirrell too? My mother wasn't enough??'

"Platonically," I answered sharply.

Then I realized that Quirrell was probably more alarmed by the fact that Snape seemed to want him dead than by the fact that the entire universe seems to be playing matchmaker with the two of us, and I graciously added, "Why?"

"H-he seems . . ." Quirrell gulped. "A-angry with me, and I d-don't know why. He's n-never been like this b-before—"

"Er," I said, thinking fast. "Maybe it's because you wound up with the Defense Against the Dark Arts job this year. It's not as though he ever wanted to teach Muggle Studies, so he had no problem with you before. That makes sense, don't you think?"

"I s-suppose," Quirrell said, a little doubtfully. "B-but he seems to think that I'm . . . up to something. S-something sinister."

He looked positively terrified at the thought of being up to anything, let alone anything sinister, and honestly, Notebook, in that moment, I had reached the point where I couldn't quite bring myself to believe that he was remotely fiendish.

"You helped to protect the Philosopher's Stone, right?" I asked, as casually as I could. His reaction, I figured, would help a lot in telling me what I wanted to know.

He didn't seem remotely caught off-guard by it, like someone who, say, was plotting to steal the Philosopher's Stone probably would have. Instead, he just frowned slightly, as though he couldn't understand why I had brought it up. "Y-yes. But what does t-that have to do with—?"

Of course, then I realized that I would have to talk my way out of it casually now that I'd brought it up. Which, just in case you hadn't noticed, isn't precisely my strong suit.

"Your contribution," I said, thinking fast. "It didn't . . . rhyme in any way, did it?"

"N-no," Quirrell said, looking bewildered.

"Well, there you have it," I said, with as much conviction as I could muster. "He's bitter because he had to write a stupid little poem, whereas you probably got to do something quite cool and dangerous."

"I don't see how that—" He fell silent abruptly, and his eyes widened. "Auriga. What if he thinks I'm t-trying to steal the S-Stone?"

I tried to laugh in an airy, unconcerned sort of way. It didn't particularly work. "Now, why would he think a silly thing like that?"

"I d-don't know," Quirrell said, looking terrified. "B-but it all makes sense! W-why else would he be t-threatening me this way?"

"He's a bastard," I said firmly. "Can we really be expected to understand the interworkings of his mean, greasy mind? I mean, really—"

"B-but why did he bring up Harry Potter?" Quirrell muttered feverishly, ignoring me completely. "W-what does he have to d-do with–"

"'Morning, Severus Snape!" I cut in very loudly and emphatically as Snape swept in. Quirrell let out a little squeak of fright and then fell very abruptly silent. "Fancy seeing you, Severus Snape, here!"

"Hello," Snape replied, eyeing me warily.

"Happy birthday," I said brightly. "Shall we sing, Slatero? I think we should sing, don't you? Happy birthday to—"

"Oh dear, Auriga," Snape cut in. "Someone hasn't given you access to firewhisky again, have they?" His gaze shifted to Quirrell. "I'd advise you to be on your guard, Quirrell."

Quirrell let out a barely audible whimper. Honestly, beneath my many layers of frenzied panic, I couldn't help but be a bit impressed even then at Snape's ability to bust out a double meaning.

"No," I said, as pleasantly as I could. "Just cheerful."

"And I see you two decided to take your coffee together this morning," Snape said, his lip curling slightly. "How cozy."

"We're not cozy," I said quickly.

"Come now, Auriga," Snape drawled. "Why hide your affections? I assure you, I find it entirely touching."

"Shut up," I ordered by default.

"As you wish," Snape said, smirking. "I shall leave the two of you to your tête-à-tête, then."

"Wait!" I said abruptly as he turned, coming to a decision. "I need to talk to you."

"A-Auriga," Quirrell whispered desperately. "D-don't—"

"Do you really?" Snape asked sardonically. "Lucky me."

I rolled my eyes, and followed him out into the corridor. I took a quick glimpse back as I did it, and the last thing I saw was Quirrell staring at me in absolute terror, mouthing the word 'NO!' over and over again. Well, he might have been living in fear of Snape – and honestly, I can't quite blame the man – but I certainly wasn't going to, Notebook! I was going to inform Snape just how ridiculous he was being, and at the time, I figured that Quirrell would thank me for it eventually.

"It's not Quirrell," I said promptly.

Snape's eyes narrowed. "Excuse me?"

"It's not Quirrell," I repeated, more firmly. "He has no idea why you're bullying him all of a sudden, and when I mentioned the Stone, he didn't look remotely guilty – just confused! Don't you see? You're completely off the mark here, and it's only going to hurt all of us in the end. The real culprit's out there, and you're just wasting your time on an innocent man—"

He cut me off with a sharp, scathing laugh. "Auriga, as usual, you are entirely delusional—"

"Am I?" I demanded, taking a step closer. "It's one thing to torture your students, Snape, but this is different. This is a serious accusation you're making here, and you haven't even got anything to follow it up besides a completely senseless bias against the poor bloke—"

"Your blindness amazes me," he interjected fiercely. "You are playing right into his hands; surely you see that. Of course you, with your naiveté and your romantic delusions, would believe that a docile man with a stutter wouldn't for a second be capable of anything less than the kindest behaviour – especially if he seemed on his way to being the latest in your collection of wayward suitors—"

"Don't you start that again!" I cut in irritably. "Just because you can't comprehend the notion of having actual faith in people doesn't mean that they're all secretly rotten to the core, which you'd understand if you could actually manage proper emotions—"

"As usual, you're being completely ridiculous—"

"No, really," I interrupted sharply, and glared up at him. "Have you ever actually been attached to another human being? I mean, honestly."

That actually seemed to sting a bit, which surprised me for about two seconds before he decided to retaliate by being even more loathsome than usual. He leaned down a bit closer, all the better to potentially scar me for life.

"I suppose you like that idea, don't you?" he muttered nastily. "That I am a soulless fiend who cannot possibly comprehend the depth and meaning that accompanies caring for another human being. It must make things terribly easy for you."

"You're not doing much to contradict it," I said shortly.

For a second, he just glared down at me. He finally opened his mouth, as though he was going to argue, but at that precise moment, Victoria came striding down the hall. She took in the sight of us, all intense-ish and a couple of inches apart at most, and a thoroughly delighted grin spread across her face.

"Good girl," she said, and winked at me before disappearing back into the staff room.

The tension was effectively shattered, which was a bit of a relief, honestly.

"What on earth was that about?" Snape demanded, staring after her with a scowl.

"Oh, she wants me to seduce you for your birthday," I replied, without really thinking about it.

"Charming," Snape said, wrinkling his nose. I am relatively sure that if I'd said 'I'm going to chop you into bite-sized pieces and then feed you to the giant squid,' his reaction would have been the same. Perhaps a tad less disgusted.

"She's insane," I said dismissively, then added, "I'm not going to, by the way."

"Thank God for small mercies," he murmured. Then his gaze darkened again, and he said, in the same way he might talk to one of his non-Slytherin students, "Now, keep your thoroughly addled brain from contemplating Quirrell any further. I assure you, he is the culprit, and I assure you, I have it entirely taken care of."

Well, needless to say, Notebook, by that point I'd gotten entirely sick of that kind of talk from him! Just because he said it in a way that would have made an unassuming first year drop dead in fright didn't mean that I was immediately going to embrace it as truth. Not after all of the other logical, sane evidence pointed towards the fact that he was completely wrong.

"You're being stupid," I said angrily. "You just don't like him because he took your job, and because you're projecting all of your own ridiculous Death Eater issues onto him."

This probably wasn't a smart move, which I knew but couldn't quite bring myself to care about at the time. His expression turned rather lethal, and he hissed, all deathly, "How dare you?"

"Well, it's not fair!" I said, refusing to cower before his I-make-chimeras-look-like-nifflers furious glory. "It's not him."

"It is him, and you're an idiot if you think otherwise," he snapped. "Although truthfully, that comes as no surprise to me."

"Why is it that you're so sure it's him, then?" I demanded, crossing my arms in front of my chest. "What's this incontrovertible proof that you're not sharing, hmm?"

"That is none of your concern," he said sharply.

"Y'know, I really disagree," I retorted. "I'm in on this now, and you can't very well expect me to just carry on like I don't know there's a Stone-stealing traitor in our midst!"

"Yes, I can," Snape said, in his cold, unforgiving, 'six thousand points from Gryffindor and twelve eternities of detention' voice. "Butt. Out."

I decided in that moment that I absolutely wouldn't butt out; in fact, I'd do the opposite of that! I'd figure out the true meaning of all of this, and I'd save the Stone while Snape was off chasing poor innocent stuttering men who couldn't even look him in the eye properly. But of course, all of this would be much, much easier to accomplish if he didn't know that I was doing any of it.

"Fine," I said sharply, trying to sound as though I'd very reluctantly given up, and spun around to storm off.

Unfortunately, I stormed right into my new dearest friend, Professor Kettleburn.

I looked back just in time to see Snape swooping off down the hall, all sinister, and then turned, very reluctantly, back to face Kettleburn.

"Well," he said rather huffily. "He seemed displeased with you."

"He's always displeased," I responded truthfully. "And, er, I've been meaning to talk to you, by the way. Listen, I'm quite sorry about how—"

"Sorry, are you?" Kettleburn repeated, and let out a slightly crazed sort of laugh. "You should be! And don't think for a second that you didn't deserve that little talking-to from Snape, either. That's what happens when you go snooping into other peoples' business."

"Um," I said, "all right," and resisted the urge to add Mum.

"Let this be a lesson to you, Professor Sinistra," Kettleburn finished darkly, and then brushed rather roughly past me and into the teacher's lounge.

Which really seemed quite rude and entirely unnecessary, if you ask me. I mean, what's he got going on that's so important and secret that he lives in fear that the batty Astronomy professor that no one takes seriously is going to find out and use against

8:46 A.M.

Oh.

8:47 A.M.

Oh.

8:48 A.M.

OHHH.

8:49 A.M.

Would it be a bit irritating and redundant if I said 'oh' again?

8:50 A.M.

OH.