Chapter 14 ~ Going Home

"Do you know, I think you set a record this year, Avery." Voices drifted past the train compartment that Severus and Muriel shared on the way home. "In the last two months of school you spent more time in the Black and Deesia Ward than Black and Deesia combined."

"Stuff it, Minchew," came the sullen reply. Muriel grinned. She'd restrained herself from hexing the marauders, taking all her frustration and putting it into the worst hexes she could get away with casting on Avery. Severus had done the same, although he still went out of his way to get Potter once in a while. Muriel had noticed that the marauders were having their fun at Avery's expense as well. Which was good, because she was still just fragile enough that one good hex would have landed all four of them quacking on the floor.

She was just contemplating this when Sirius' head appeared in their compartment door. "What do you want, Black?" Severus growled. Muriel made a show of pulling out her wand. He wouldn't be there if he didn't want trouble, and she intended to be ready for it. He was grinning like an idiot, but didn't answer.

"Would you like to be a green duck this time, or did you prefer black," she asked quietly. She kept a conversational tone of voice, but his smile vanished anyway as Severus smirked.

Sirius had made James stay in their compartment so he could get a few last minute hexes in on Avery. He had thought that Muriel might enjoy seeing the result, which was now oozing across the corridor floor, trying to get back to its cabin. But he knew he couldn't tell them that.

As he thought this, Muriel couldn't help but smile. Severus, however was scowling angrily.

"Easy, Mur," Sirius answered, then he smiled at her again before turning to Severus. "I just thought Snape might want to help his fellow Slytherin. It seems he had some sort of unpleasant encounter in the hall, here." He stepped back so they could see. Severus came to the door, while Muriel, who already knew the answer, asked him exactly which Slytherin it was.

Sirius calmly told her that he didn't know, not realizing how entirely transparent he was. Muriel could tell that he was horribly pleased with himself. 'What an arrogant prat!" she couldn't help thinking. 'Still, Avery looks thoroughly miserable, and that's worth something.'

She looked at the partially transfigured slug that was half scampering, half oozing across the floor. "Still not so good with human transfiguration, Black?" she asked casually. She turned to him and looked him in the eye for the first time since Christmas. Odd, she'd never noticed how bright his dark eyes were. "That's Avery. What you have to know about him is that he really is slime, all the way through." A swish and flick later a complete slug rolled across the floor. Muriel put her wand in her pocket and returned to the compartment, followed by Severus, who was chuckling in spite of himself. Who would have thought Sirius Black would be useful for anything?

A moment later they both grinned widely as a shriek from the hallway shattered the quiet. Someone had found Avery. Sev got up to lock their compartment door. He didn't know if Avery would remember who had completed his transformation into a slug, but he didn't want him barging in later to pay them back if he did.

"Are you going to Aunt Rosa's at all this summer?" Severus asked, breaking out a game of gobstones. Maybe he and Papa would have some time to practice Occlumency this summer.

"I don't want to play that, I've seen enough goo for one day. Don't you have exploding snap?"

"No, but you do," Severus answered, digging around in Muriel's trunk instead.

"I think I'm just going to stay home this summer. Papa doesn't want me to go after the problems there over Christmas. Besides, I've had enough excitement this year. What about you, are you going anywhere on holiday?"

"I doubt it. It will be holiday enough if Father doesn't come home. He's still away since Easter." Severus said as he dealt the cards.

Their game was interrupted by someone knocking on the door. They both pulled out their wands. "Sev?" Severus put his wand away and opened the door. Malfoy was standing in the doorway, a piece of parchment in his hand. "I meant to catch you earlier but – "he stopped, seeing Muriel, whose wand was still drawn, looking at him curiously. The usual sneer was on his face in an instant and his mind snapped closed. Muriel only shook her head.

Malfoy thought briefly then formed his words carefully. "Just wanted to let you know that I'll probably finish that book you leant me tonight," he said pointedly.

"Well, owl it back to me anytime. I'm always home." Severus kept his voice carefully neutral, and his mind as sealed as he could make it. Lucius obviously didn't want to share this particular secret.

"Right. Have a pleasant holiday." With that, Lucius Malfoy strode back down the corridor, stepping over Avery and around the people who were trying to transform him back. Minchew called to him when he was halfway down the corridor.

"Malfoy, do you know how to reverse this?"

Severus let a smile creep over his face as Lucius sneered coldly at the boy. "Of course I do you poncy idiot." Then he continued down the corridor and stepped into the compartment where Narcissa had been waiting for him. Severus closed the door, still grinning. Muriel was looking out the window, wondering at Malfoy's civility. He had yet to say anything about the boggart, though she knew he was aware of her involvement. She wondered again about the tall blond's loyalties. She knew Riddle didn't care how old you were, only whether you were willing. Perhaps he'd already taken the mark. Yet he seemed far more pleasant than she recalled from the beginning of the year. It bore thinking on.

"Do you think Papa took the mark when Mother did?" Mur asked finally, not turning to look at Severus. He paused, then joined her on her bench, not sure how her mind had made the jump to this particular topic. "I'm going to find out this summer," she added. Severus wasn't inclined to think that was a very good idea, but said nothing.

FIN

A/N: Year 5 for Severus and Muriel has already been written and will be posted as a new fic shortly! Look for it under my user ID: 468209, along with all my other fics! Each one is numbered in the title, so if you picked up in the middle, you should be able to go back and catch the beginning.