Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it belongs to J.K. Rowling

A/N#1: Sorry for the delay before this chapter. Vacationing really knocked the writing bug out of me for a while. Then backups at work utterly destroyed it.

A/N#2: I have recently changed Fanny's last name from Hindley to Bowley. Apparently Hindley is the name of an infamous British child murderer. Given that this fic is taking place among children in Britain I didn't want to mislead any readers into thinking that there was a connection between my character and this woman. No offence is intended to any of you who may be named Hindley-I originally chose it because I think it's a lovely name. The association is truly unfortunate and if it weren't for the multiple similarities (ie-kids, location AND name) I would not have made the change.

Thanks again to all who have read and reviewed.

Chapter 10: Dead Ends Force New Directions

The dorm room slammed shut with such force the window panes rattled. The girls that had been sitting in a circle on Linda's bed stopped giggling instantly and turned to see Fanny stride to her bed and shout "silensio" as she pointed her wand at the canopy. But her voice was so distorted from hysteria and anger that her wand shot angry green flames that knocked the curtains down, causing a racket and failing in its intent. The girls watched her with mild surprise. Having lived together for the better part of seven years, they had seen each of the others in such a fit at some point or another. But this was the first time any had seen Fanny break down. Clearly experience had taught them well, and they set into motion instantly. Linda pulled out her wand and rehung the curtains, while Tiffany cast the "silensio" charm on the bed. Together they lifted Fanny's sprawling arms and legs onto her bed so that she would be encased in the sound proof area and closed the curtains gently to give her privacy.

"Fanny, we're going to leave now. The dorm is yours," Linda said as the girls stole from the room.

But Fanny didn't hear. Tears of jealousy, rage, embarrassment, and most acute of all, disappointment burst out and a terrible wailing overwhelmed her completely. Severus had betrayed her! He had lied to her and let her down. He was no friend to her, it was impossible to think he had any feelings for her at all after tonight. He had been a dream that Fanny had grasped for and now she lost him.

Why was she surprised? Loss was her lot in life. It wasn't as if this was her first. No, her first had been twelve years ago and it was still clear in her memory today. One deceptively fine spring evening, when the world seemed ripe with promise, Fanny sat with her mother on the veranda in the lingering dusk. The dry chipping paint and creaking boards seemed almost real as Fanny remembered them from her dorm bed. They were waiting for her father to return. Where he had been, she never found out. Her mother had never told her, had never spoke of him after he died.

The dusk had at last faded when Gene rose to collect sweaters for them both and returned to wait through the darkness with whatever hope she may have had. It was clear to Fanny, even at the time, that something was horribly wrong. Her mother's voice had never sounded so strained nor had they ever passed so much time in silence. But in her young mind, Fanny could not guess at the abyss of misery into which Gene was now sinking and after a time fell asleep leaning against her mother's legs.

It was the light of dawn that awoke her early the following morning. With stiff bones the events of the previous evening returned along with the realization that they were still on the porch; her father must not have returned. It wasn't long before the truth was revealed. A man in a grey suit appeared at the gate and as he came up the garden path her mother watched him with a blank dead look in her eyes that was somehow more terrible than anything to Fanny. The man in the suit handed Gene a letter. Her father had been found dead in the park. The investigators said it was a heart attack, impossible as it seemed in a man so young.

As her tired mind wandered to the years after he died, she realized that the repercussions of her father's death had perhaps more of an effect on her than the death itself. Almost immediately Gene picked up and moved to America 'for a change' as she would say. The vagueness of the statement often bothered Fanny but her mother offered nothing more when asked. So the mystery of the situation was never resolved but was instead slowly buried beneath the workings of daily life which were busy and often troublesome in the absence of a second adult. The simplest chores were difficult for Gene to manage on top of the heavy workload financial necessity forced upon her. In the end, Fanny and her mother both took on responsibilities beyond their years and natural position and it added significantly to the stress, especially for Gene. Now, all these years later, Fanny finally understood how difficult it must have been for her mother, struggling on her own, wanting more than anything to give her daughter a normal and carefree life, to make up for her lack of a father, and being completely unable to do so.

What Gene did not understand was that although their life was somewhat unconventional by traditional wizard standards, it was more than enough for a child. If she could tell her mother one thing, Fanny thought, it would be that her company and her love had made up for everything, and could have compensated for any loss, even if the entire world fell away. But she could tell her mother nothing now nor would she ever again. Never in this waking life would she be able to see her, touch her, live one more normal day in her company.

Lying in her silenced bed at Hogwarts over three thousand miles from her home and the small patch of earth that would forever represent her mother Fanny was overwhelmed by unappeasable longing and hopelessness. What could she do now that there was nothing left to look forward to? Thinking back over the evening, Fanny knew that although she was genuinely hurt and disappointed by Severus' rejection, the most significant loss was the distraction. Liking a boy and thinking about him night and day eclipsed the impossible burden of memory. And while she was still extremely angry about his deception and cruel misleading behavior, the desire to hurt him in return faded in the sobering reality of her reminiscences. All she wanted now was another distraction, something to take her mind off its terrible wanderings. And if Severus would not be that distraction, she would find another.

Unable to fully put her mother out of her mind again, Fanny turned her mind to a less depressing side of the topic. The mystery surrounding Gene's death, the cryptic remarks made by the seven fingered Satyr, and the abnormal lack of information she had regarding her father all crowded into her head and stimulated her curiosity so that soon she was unable to think of anything but the seemingly dramatic events of her mother's life. And happily for Fanny, she could do something about this train of thought.

With this new purpose Fanny calmed down considerably, wiped her eyes, and got out of bed. Stopping briefly in the bathroom to wash the traces of crying off her face, she left the dorm, approached the statue that guarded it and plunged directly into her cross examination.

"You told me last night that my mother had an admirer at school," she said bluntly. "Who was he?"

The Satyr stared at her in shock and apparent horror. It took him several seconds spent gaping awkwardly before he collected himself and answered with a rather obvious lie. "Oh, hmm, did I mention a boy?" He toed the ground coyly with one hoof and bowed his head. "Can't seem to rememba' that one luvvie."

"Come on! You just told me about him yesterday. Said he was crazy and that I should be careful not to pick up one like him. Now who was he?"

"Don't know what 'cha talkin' about."

"The boy that followed my mother around. You remember my mother?"

"Yeah, I rememba' your mum. Didn't know her well of course, not bein' in my house and all, but the walls got ears in this place and I never did hear nothin' but good about that girl. Gene Kingsley: nice young lady she was too."

"Gene Kent," Fanny interrupted.

"Sorry?"

"Kent. My mother's maiden name was Kent."

"Oh, yes of course it was, sorry, sorry," said the Satyr, and Fanny thought he looked rather more embarrassed than he should.

"It's ok. It was just a mistake.wasn't it?" she asked, confused.

"Yes, yes, of course, a mistake. Kent, how could I have forgotten," he added hastily.

"So who was her admirer then?" she demanded, hoping he would slip up in his apparently muddled state.

The Satyr let out a 'harumph' and fixed Fanny with an indignant stare, switching tactics from coy to brusque. "He wasn't nobody," he said. "And if you're smart, you'll be lettin' the matter drop."

"But why? What difference does it make if I know about some stupid crush some boy had on my mother over twenty years ago?"

"I ain't sayin' no more." He folded his alabaster arms across his chest and turned his back on her, resuming his stiff and lifeless stance once more.

"Thanks for your help," said Fanny bitterly and turned to the hall for support. There were perhaps half a dozen paintings along the wall that could easily have heard her exchange with the Satyr and three of these had humanoid subjects.

"Do you know anything about this boy who liked my mother?" she asked a small urchin who squatted miserably out of the rain in the door frame of a seedy looking establishment. But instead of answering, he opened his mouth and began to bawl.

"That really was rather tactless of you," said a quiet reproving voice behind her. Fanny turned to see an elderly lady, shriveled but distinguished in appearance, addressing her from what appeared to be the salon of an antiquated manor house. "Didn't you know that poor boy has lost his mother? She is not coming back, of course, but he insists upon waiting for her in that dreadful doorway. It never stops raining-he'll catch his death one of these days."

"How was I to know?" Fanny wanted to feel bad for the boy, but at the moment she couldn't fit any more problems in her head. "Do you know about my mother?" she asked the old lady.

"It is my business to know about every student within these walls," she sniffed.

"Well?" she asked shortly, her patience running out. "Tell me please!"

"You would do well to conduct yourself with a little decorum young lady. I have not the mind to speak with anyone so rude and vulgar." And with some effort, the matron rose and left the room. A few moments later, the door behind the young boy opened and the lady stepped out, retrieved the crying lad, and slammed the door behind them.

Fanny sighed and checked her watch. Eight thirty. Her investigation was going nowhere and her head was beginning to hurt. The prospect of going back into her dorm to listen to the vapid chattering of the other Ravenclaws or to lie awake in bed remembering every loss and failure in her life with vivid clarity was not at all appealing. So, deciding a little company might help, she headed towards the Library. If she was lucky, she might just find Lily there.

The approach of exams and the end of year had stirred the school into a state of unusual activity and there was almost no point during her walk that she was completely alone in the halls. Luckily she passed no one she knew and it was less than five minutes before she reached the library. Passing the reference desk, she heard Madam Liveris explaining loudly to a group of students that since she wasn't officially paid for overtime, they wouldn't get any last minute information out of her that evening. "You can read. Find it yourselves!" she said and planted herself behind a book, ignoring the crowd completely.

Every table in the library was occupied and although Lily was nowhere to be seen, Fanny did find Sirius sitting alone at a carrel in the corner. She stood in an aisle for a few moments watching him and debating if she dared approach him. As he flipped tensely through his pile of books, he looked strangely alone and earnest to her eyes: a nice guy who never misled her, a real friend who wouldn't betray her. In a flash her bitter vengeful feelings towards Severus resurfaced while Sirius was cast by comparison in an almost angelic light. Sirius didn't play games, he was a man of action- his kiss proved that. And he didn't even resent her when she pushed him away.

What had she been thinking? How could she have placed her bets on someone as unpredictable and cold as Severus when Sirius might have been a sure thing? Wasn't that what she wanted? A definite boyfriend, a distraction from her problems along with a little support and flattery so she wouldn't feel so totally alone? Was it too late, she wondered. Did he still like her, could she still win his affections? Did she really want to?

Before she could sort through her tangled feelings any further an evil voice popped into her head. 'It would be the perfect revenge,' the voice said. 'Nothing could hurt that bastard Snape more, and you know it. Just imagine the look on his face when he sees you with him, holding hands or even kissing!' For a moment Fanny wavered, a flicker of compassion left in her heart for Snape who was quite possibly in a relationship for his family, as he had once suggested, and Sirius who might soon be seduced by a girl who wasn't seriously interested in him.

But Fanny remembered that Violet was much prettier than her and more popular and the one shred of compassion that remained vanished in the face of her bitter resentment. Besides, Sirius wasn't that wonderful: he didn't even trust her to keep his little animagus secret. No, she didn't feel sorry for him. After all, if she succeeded, he would certainly get something in return. Gathering the remains of her composure, she walked over where he sat, pulled up a chair and sat down next to him.

"Hi, Sirius. Can we talk.please?" She paused and waited for him to answer but he remained silent, his initial surprise at her sudden appearance quickly dissolving into a look of deep skepticism as he regarded her. Ignoring both her sense of pride and the guilt that threatened to creep up on her, she continued, pausing briefly a few times to wait for an answer from him. "Look, I'm sorry about earlier.I don't know why I walked away on you like that...Things have been crazy for me lately.And I've been so confused." It wasn't working and Fanny did not feel that she could afford to fail twice in one evening. Taking a deep breath, she cruelly pulled out her trump card. "It's just been such a difficult year, with my mo-mother and all" she choked, buried her head in her hands and cried. It wasn't such a lie, she reasoned. Her mother's death WAS horrible. Wasn't she entitled to a little erratic behavior?

Sirius sighed and finally broke his silence. "Alright Fanny, stop crying. I'll listen to whatever you have to say." He no longer looked skeptical, but he still seemed extremely apprehensive.

"Do you have that map on you?" she asked, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

"Yes."

"Can we use it and go somewhere private, away from the school? Back to the cave maybe?"

"If that's what you want," he said, and rose to leave after he had collected his books. Taking the lead, he walked in front of her the entire way, never speaking to her and pausing only to check that the coast was clear at the mirror on the fourth floor. Apparently her trump had won his company, but it had by no means obtained his forgiveness.

By the time they arrived at the cave it was nearing ten o'clock. The air inside was cold but fresh, and the atmosphere became quite comfortable once Sirius had conjured a fire and thrown himself down by it.

"Well?" he prompted impatiently. "Tell me what's on your mind so I can get back already."

He sounded irritated and aloof, but Fanny knew better: he wouldn't have agreed to come all this way if he wasn't at least a little bit interested in what she had to say. It was only a small degree of encouragement, but it was all she had, and she clung to it tightly as she made her advance. Moving over to where he sat, she knelt down next to him.

"I have made a mistake," she said softly and placed a hand on his arm. A look of shock passed over his face as her meaning sunk in, but he gathered himself quickly and sat up, gripping her arms tightly.

"Don't play games, Fanny," he said.

"No games." And with that she reached the end of her arguments and switched instead to the only persuasion she knew no teenage boy could reject. Leaning forward, she kissed him. It was awkward and inexperienced, but it worked: after only the briefest hesitation, Sirius took over the kiss and deepened it, smoothly progressing from closed mouth to open mouth and venturing within minutes to run his hands down her back and back up her chest. Perhaps his zeal was the result of a true affection he held for her, or maybe it was nothing more than an adolescent's obsession with sex. But whatever the cause, the effect was surprisingly pleasant. And although she wondered briefly if she should play the innocent and stop him before it went too far, she found herself as eager to reach the end as he was. She was helpless to encourage him.

There was only warmth here and companionship and pleasant sensations. Someone was holding her, wanting her, becoming quickly aroused by touching her. When she took off her robes he turned them into a soft fur blanket and after she had removed her blouse she felt the tingling of the cool breeze play over her breasts as Sirius stood back to look at her. Sensation became overwhelming: the fur beneath her back, the warm tickling of hair as his chest moving against her, the coarse stubble that burned around her mouth, reminding her that she was being kissed hard. The slow progression to nakedness as piece by piece the layers were stripped until there was nothing left and she lay on her back, legs apart, feeling the heaviness and warmth of another body pressing down upon her, the knowledge that she was a woman finally clicking into place.

There was a slight pain but it was not enough to penetrate the almost dream like unreality of the moment and she continued to drop into the strange and acute numbness as Sirius ascended into a frenzied ecstasy. Heady and wonderful, Fanny suddenly despaired at the thought of spending any amount of time without this closeness and as she thought, the events of the day crowded back into her mind. Would she be in the same position with someone else at this very moment if circumstances had been different? Would she have preferred it? She allowed the thought only a moment's light before she put it away and turned her attentions back to the warm body above her and the wonderful feelings it inspired.

A/N: Don't worry-this story has not changed to a Sirius Black romance!!! Our darling Snape is not so easily buried.