Author: Lucinda

rating: pg 13

main characters: Catherine (Abbot) Madison, Severus Snape

disclaimer: I hold no legal rights to any characters from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (creation of Joss Whedon & a whole lot of other people who aren't me) or to any characters or concepts from the 'Harry Potter' novels, which are the creation of JK Rowling.

distribution: Jinni's Quickfics, Paula, anyone else please ask.

notes: response to Jinni's Weekly Poetry Challenge (week 3, Poetry Quote below). Set before BtVS started.

"SHE walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes:

Thus mellow'd to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies."

-- She walks in beauty, Byron

He should have avoided her. Catherine Abbot was devious, he'd seen that clearly since she'd first came to the school, just a year behind him. She'd been sorted into Slytherin, which should have warned him as well. Slytherins were ambitious people, never afraid to sacrifice a little to get what they wanted. He should have known that down to his bones, after all, he was also in Slytherin.

She was pretty, with a charming smile that she'd started using on people in the last half of her fourth year, and thick, dark eyelashes that framed bright, intense eyes. A fellow might thing that he could see forever in those eyes, if he was one to believe in happy endings. Oh yes, Cathy was a charmer.

He couldn't swear to it, but he'd suspected for a while that her many various 'study partners' were the ones who did the work, while she sat there, fluttering and cooing at them, and then turning in brilliant work. Maybe it was the way she never spoke up in class, or the way she was careful about who she studied with. He couldn't prove it, oh no... Like he'd said, Cathy was devious. Devious and subtle, with just enough respect for the rules, or rather, for the consequences of breaking them that the evidence against her was always sketchy, and she always had an alibi.

Merlin knew that he'd been her alibi a few times, in his sixth year. She would meet him in the astronomy tower, to 'help with a few charms'... and she would grab him, pulling his lips to hers, always tasting of strawberries and something else, some dark magic that he couldn't name. She was a daring, passionate intense minx even then.

What uncertain, half outcast boy would have been able to refuse her? Certainly not him, although he'd known that she didn't love him. He would content himself with whatever scraps she would toss his way.

It wasn't as if she'd ever asked him for anything else.

Maybe it should have been a warning to him when he started to feel tired more easily. When a day of heavy casting would make his head throb and his muscles feel quivery. When his Winter practical exams left him with a stabbing pain in his head that lasted for three days.

Failing that, maybe he should have noticed when her chosen study partners started to get pale after a lot of magic, when the Slytherin Beater got knocked off his broom by a slow bludger from behind that a second year student should have been able to avoid. When the Ravenclaw Prefect who'd been courting her, making sly mentions of his prosperous family home seemed to become a little more sickly.

But no, he'd not realized. Maybe he hadn't wanted to realize anything. Had the few scraps of time, secret moments hidden by night in the Astronomy tower been that important to him? Had he been so... desperately enslaved by his passions that he hadn't noticed what she was doing, hadn't realized what she was capable of?

Unfortunately, he had been.

He'd returned from the Holiday break to learn that Catherine Abbot had been thrown out of the school for seducing the Potions Master. She'd then eloped with a pleasant enough, if a bit slow, wizard from Hogsmeade. Last any of her many admirers had heard, Catherine Abbot - now Catherine Madison - had moved to America, to a small town in California, a place of sunshine and clear skies.

Years later, he learned about Justin Madison's unfortunate and tragic loss of his magic. Nobody had any official explanation for such a frightening tragedy. It couldn't have been the place they lived, because Catherine's abilities were as strong as ever, if not stronger. There was no known potion or illness that would strip a wizard of his magic and still leave him in apparent good health. Everybody was baffled, and frightened, if they knew of it at all.

But Severus Snape knew what had happened. Not the how, of course, but he knew that somehow, Catherine had been responsible. Had somehow found a way to steal a wizard's powers as she had stolen their ideas. It was a terrible suspicion, which became a terrible certainty, yet still remained a baffling mystery. After all, he had no idea how such a devious and despicable feat could be accomplished.

Perhaps the most troubling rumor was the fact that she had a child, a daughter. Would her child have magic like her mother, or be mysteriously powerless, like Catherine's husband? What would become of little Amy Madison?

end Bewitching Beauty.