DISCLAIMER: Now for something completely different - a flower that makes people act weirder than usual. Wait a minute, people actually noticed??

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Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"It's the Pollen, I Swear"

Text by Lady Tesser

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By the time May arrived, students were itching to go outside after classes and lounge around the lake or the meadows of wildflowers surrounding the school. Nevermind the fact that finals and OWLs and NEWTs were coming up.

It had to be the warmth, the heady scent of flowers, the soft grasses, the sounds of birds and crickets, the sunshine, and the breezes that made everyone stir-crazy in the middle of May. Cloudy and rainy days were few and far between; the sunny, warm days beckoned to students inside their classrooms like siren-song, drawing them out into the world.

Britomartis Vox, Second-Year, had managed to drag Severus Snape, Four-Year, outside.

"Yaah!" he cried in mock-terror as he covered his eyes. "I'm melting! Mel-ting!"

"Snips, why are you so against being outside in nice, sunny weather?" Martis asked as she released him by the lake.

"Bugs, insects, and pollen. I think that covers it." Sev plopped down under a tree and lay back, looking up into the canopy of green leaves over his head. "Besides, what do you have against being outside in brisk, chilly weather?"

Martis' face and hair interrupted his line of sight, Medusa slipping down her shoulder and onto his chest. "You bastard." The grin was a clear indication it was not malicious.

"At your service, bitch." He patted Medusa and allowed the snake to slither away to sunbathe.

"You're mean, Snips." Martis settled back next to him, folding her hands behind her head. "It's good to get out of the common room ... less depressing out here."

"All right, I'll grant that. However, I think you should put more clothes on."

"I'm wearing a sundress! And need I remind you that I wear less than this on Crete?"

Sev snorted; he gently reached out to test the waters again. He really did miss their free-banter. "If you are trying to entice me, Spirals, you're failing miserably."

"Who said I was?" She sat up and pulled her sunglasses off. "Mr. Snape, if I were trying to be a temptress, you would know it."

"How?"

"No. You're being silly by asking." Martis lay back down.

Perhaps they never could recover the free-banter. Although he was now quite curious by the question he did pose. "Actually, I'm serious."

"No, you're not."

"I am," Sev protested. "How would you go about being a temptress?"

Martis was silent a moment, then stated, "Artemisia said the most direct approach is sticking a tongue in a guy's ear."

Sev's eyes widened and he nodded. [All right, not the answer I really expected!] "Yes, I can see how direct that is! Forget I asked!"

"Good. It's weird talking about it with you." She rolled over and draped an arm over his chest.

"Weird?" He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Is it because I don't know anything?"

"No. It's just weird ... well, you're Snips. Potions, pranks, depressions, and chocolate. First thing I think of when I think of you is 'safe', not 'wanna-jump-him'."

He raised an eyebrow, looking down at her. "And who do you think of 'wanna-jump-him'?"

"No one," she answered quickly. "I'm sticking to my pledge of not messing with anyone in that way." She looked up at him, making a face. "And what about you - who do you think of involving 'wanna-jump-her'?"

"No one!" he replied, blushing.

"Ha! Now how you like it being asked of you?"

"Shut up."

"Fine. We'll keep lying for now until we're less afraid of it all."

Sev pondered that and nodded. "I can live with that." He looked back up at the sunlight dappling through the leaves, feeling her arm around his chest and her cuddled against him.

Keep lying for now. The truth may be scarier than either wanted to know.

It was still nice, though, laying there under the tree and feeling the breezes sweep over them and the scent of grass and flowers swirling around. Even the patches of sunlight that managed to find their way down on their clothes and skin felt good.

Sev reached his arm back over his head, his fingers brushing against something soft. He tilted his head back and noted it was a large red flower he had never seen before. He plucked it, causing a snow of chamois-colored pollen to spill out of the almost cone-shaped petal and onto the ground.

"Take a look at this, Spirals," he said as he sat up.

Martis sighed. "What did you find this time?"

"This flower," he said as he showed it to her. "Seen anything like this?"

She goggled. "Looks like a Dragon Arum!"

"What's that?"

"A flower native to Crete - but it can't be. This doesn't stink and it doesn't have the spiky thing coming out of the middle. It's featured in a lot of frescoes, especially concerning fertility subjects ... for obvious reasons." She brought his hand holding it to her face and she inhaled it. After a moment, she giggled. "Smells wonderful, though."

"Here," Sev softly said as he placed it in her hair. "You can have it."

"You're so sweet. What shall I give you in return?" She threw her arms around him, both falling back to the ground and her hair entangling around his body. She raised her face and gazed down into his eyes intently, her tongue darting out to lick her lips before she closed her eyes and pressed her mouth against his cheek.

This cheek kiss seemed ... more intense than usual. It brought to mind the time she licked ice cream from his cheek -

Her lips caressed across his cheek, brushing toward his mouth.

Sev began to panic, his mind throwing up blocks and defenses that he tore down for reasons unknown to himself. [Good god, she's going to kiss me! I can't let this - no, wait, I want to - no, I can't - ]

Sev managed to be saved by four morons running up with cameras in hands and yelling, "HA! WE KNEW IT!"

Martis pulled away and narrowed her eyes at the Marauders. "Hello ... boys. Couldn't find a squirrel to gang-rape?"

"We knew you were up to something!" Sirius Black stated as he flicked his jaw-length hair back from his eyes. "Wait until the Headmaster hears about this!"

"Yes. And what were the four of you doing in the bushes together, may I ask?"

Sev (still filled with adrenaline) blurted, "Eww! The Maraudettes were playing in the bushes together! I'm traumatized!"

"That's a lie!" Peter Pettigrew objected. "I am NOT gay! I don't know about them, but I'm NOT."

James Potter headsmacked him. "Shut up, Wormtail."

"Let's forget the whole thing," Remus Lupin groused. "It's too late in the year to bother with prank wars."

"Shut it, Moony," Black ordered. He approached the duo and leaned close to Martis' face, his nose almost touching hers. "I've got a score to settle with Snake-Bitch here."

"You'll never score with me, Sillyass," she sneered, pushing him away. "And get a breath mint - your mouth odor could choke a thestral."

"She is right," Pettigrew muttered.

"Shh!" Lupin shushed him.

Potter grabbed Black's arm. "Moony's right, let's forget it. It's too close to finals and we could still lose the House Cup to Hufflepuff if we get any more points taken away."

Black debated within himself, then snorted. "Fine, but only for that reason." He smirked nastily at the Slytherins. "Nice flower - is it a Grease-santhynum or an Oil Lily?"

"Dragon Arum look-alike," Martis answered, adjusting the large flower over her ear. "I'm sure Professor Sprout will love to hear you bumbling up your flora identification at your level."

He growled at her, then turned and left, the rest of the Marauders following.

Martis got up and made several rude gestures at his back, making sure to include a few about him, a donkey, and a quintaped.

Sev was both grateful and annoyed they had interrupted. This confused him, so he decided to ignore it.

----------

Nothing came from On High about the incidental snuggling under the tree. Most everyone was concerned with studying. The library, the Great Hall, outside - everywhere had students studying quietly after classes.

It had been a few days since their meeting with the Marauders, and Martis had disposed of the dead flower that looked so much like the one from her island. The pollen it left behind in the dormroom was terrible, causing Oriana Crescent's allergies to flare up and keep her bed-ridden when she was not in class.

But the last two days had seen a sharp increase in Protection Spells going off in Slytherin House, not to mention the girls constantly writing love notes and poetry to the boys. The rest of the school also saw an increase in such activities, but not to the extent of Slytherin's 'Spring Fever Problem', as Miss Price had dubbed it. It was decided that spring being in the air was the culprit and students were given a stiff reminder to concentrate on their studies.

Martis herself had also been among the guilty. Several times since that afternoon under the tree, she had caught herself drifting into daydreams of cuddling close to Sev and kissing his face ... Not to mention that one thought of meeting him in the Conversation Room and laying their robes on the floor and falling back on them ... Great Mother, she had to bang her head into the desk to concentrate on her Muggle Studies class!

A dream woke her out of a sound sleep, sweat sheened on her face and her heart beating like a triphammer. Wrapping herself up tightly in her sheet, she rolled back over and tried not to think of the dream that awoke her, of playing in the rain together and shedding their wet clothes, water dripping down the ends of Sev's hair, down his pale shoulders and chest and belly and ...

Hell and damnation. Damn, damn, damn! Not right! Not even in dreams!

She had to recite the forty-seven hundred uses of garlic before she could fall back asleep.

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The following day after classes, Akiko Mori and Peony Danderfluff had begun to make 'costumes' in the dormroom. Martis became aware of this as she entered their room and saw several hangers around the room holding scanty clothing.

"How did this place turn into a lingerie shop?" she asked, placing her bookbag in the chair next to her bed.

"It is not lingerie!" Peony insisted.

"If it were made of wool, it'd still be lingerie - what's with all the lace and silk?"

"They're costumes," Akiko stated.

"For a production of 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas', maybe." Martis picked up a light blue confection of sheerness and gazed at it from all angles. "Except this one - looks like a formal gown from Crete."

"You can have it," Peony offered. "Although you have to tell us the look on Severus' face when he sees it on you."

Akiko giggled. "Yes, do so! Also tell us how he is with those long slender fingers, too."

"No, thank you," Martis snorted.

Peony sighed. "Severus really does have beautiful hands, doesn't he? I wouldn't mind being mixed by his hands."

Martis felt an overwhelming desire to slam Peony across the room. She counted to ten, then changed the subject: "Is this all for your elopement with Grant Parkinson?"

"No," Akiko replied. "Some of it's mine."

"For what?"

"For fun."

Peony plopped on her bed and giggled. "Eloping! That sounds romantic! Perhaps I should suggest it to Grant?"

"Has he already proposed?" Martis asked casually as she pulled a book of flora from her bookbag.

"Not yet. But he will."

"Does he know he will?"

"No."

"A-CHOO!" the bed with the closed curtains sneezed.

"Bless you, Ori," Akiko said. "However you wish to use your costumes, I have a secret plan for my own." She serenely smiled as she continued to sew something made of red and gold material.

"What is it?" Peony asked. "Or should I ask 'who is it'?"

"It's a secret."

Martis, not looking up from her page flipping, muttered, "It's for Thomas St. Claire, isn't it? I can set you up with him - but I must warn you he prefers big-boned girls."

"No. Besides, I prefer men that have the aura of scholarly wisdom about them, not silly jocks." Akiko giggled to herself.

"Professor McElwain?"

"No."

"Professor Kettleburn," Peony suggested. "He looks scholarly and wisdom-y and stuff. Plus the eyepatch is kinda neat."

"More than THAT!" Akiko proclaimed, putting her sewing down. Her eyes became glassy as she gazed toward the ceiling at nothing. Peony and Martis tried to see what she was looking at. "He is the best Wizard this island had ever produced - and that's saying a lot for your young civilization."

"Speak for Peony's - my civilization's about a thousand years older than yours," Martis reminded her. "And there's no one that fits that description except ... " She paused, realization coming to the fore. Without another word, she dropped her head down and continued reading.

"Who?" Peony asked.

"It's still a secret," Akiko purred, going back to her sewing.

"Fine, don't tell me."

Martis fidgeted, flipping through the flora book. She had other things to think about, like exactly what kind of flower Sev found and she wore around the common room and dormroom. It bugged her to no end.

----------

That evening, in the midst of studying in the Slytherin common room, Akiko suddenly Flooed through the fireplace, wrapped up in an elaborate kimono which was now covered with ashes and soot.

Everyone stared at her, then she broke into wails. "THE HEADMASTER REJECTED ME!"

Doubletakes were taken, along with questions blurted out concerning what type of 'rejection' was involved.

Akiko got up from the floor, hugging the front of her kimono closed. "I gave him my body and he rejected it!" she cried. She paused in front of Sev (who was seated on the couch next to Martis) and added, "How could you reject something like THIS?"

She opened the kimono; her slender, petite frame had a stylized Las Vegas showgirl - or burlesque strip-tease foundation - practically painted on her body. It was red and gold and black, quiet Oriental in design, save for the many-many-many cutouts displaying her golden skin.

Sev's brain shut down and he yelped, throwing his robe over his head to cover his eyes.

Martis got up from the couch and pulled the kimono closed. "Will you stop that, Aki?? Let's get you upstairs before - "

"I thought he would understand!" Akiko sobbed. "He's brilliant, wise, powerful, ancient - considered the Perfect Combination! Young girls in my culture would be throwing themselves at his feet day and night! No one does here - I had a chance! And he rejected it!"

Martis snarled at the boys who got up to offer their 'consolation'. "Akiko, Britain is a heck of a lot different than our islands. They're more conservative and prudish - "

A few of the guys cleared their throats in offense, but she snarled at them again.

"And his nose!" Akiko added, not hearing her. "Long and thin and - you and I both know about a man's nose! Quite a bonus!"

Martis turned pale. "I don't want to think of it that way, but I must acknowledge that."

Sev continued to hide under his robe.

"He still rejected me! I'm more flexible than I look - "

A gasp of anticipation came from the male onlookers. Several girls around them swatted them to mind their own business.

Martis yelped, "PLEASE don't demonstrate!"

Martis finally dragged the distraught girl up the stairs to their dormroom. Akiko was now in tears, allowing Martis to carry her the rest of the way into their room. Miss Price followed them in.

"What in the world happened?" the House Mother demanded.

"Something about offering herself to the Headmaster and him saying 'no thank you'," Martis replied. "She just flashed Snips, the rest of the guys are drooling, so no one's in their right mind at the moment." She dumped the hysterical girl in bed.

"Why would she do a thing like that?"

"Cultural, I guess. Seems the Headmaster's a prime catch by her standards."

"Oh, dear," Miss Price murmured, rushing to Akiko's bed and trying to comfort her.

Martis stepped back and folded her arms thoughtfully. Akiko was a Sixth-Year student, one of the finer scholars of Slytherin and an artful manipulator in academic arguments. Her devotions to her studies would have put her in Ravenclaw if she had not been so intent on breaking the cultural binds on women in her native Japan, which made her both ambitious and devious enough for Slytherin.

This sort of behavior did not correlate with Akiko Mori. It may be true about the old wise men in her village, but this was the first time she had done anything like this. And no one had any idea she harbored secret romantic notions about Headmaster Dumbledore.

Medusa appeared from under Martis' bed, crawling across the floor toward her and over a few flora books. One of the books was flipped open by the snake slipping over it, turning pages until Medusa had finished moving across it.

It was opened to a page of flowers set into neat boxed rows, their drawings faded with age. Martis picked up Medusa and draped her around her neck, then picked up the book, glancing at the flowers ...

Until her eyes fell on the one Sev had found.

Yes, a large single petal rolled into a cone with an open side like a lily, blood red in color, but lacking the large spike-stamen like Dragon Arums do. Her eyes shifted across the page to read the blurb: [Nymphadora Arum - 'Love Blossom' or 'Love Lily'. Pollen has a powerful aphrodisiac effect on Witches. HIGHLY DANGEROUS!!]

Martis rushed out to the common room, into Miss Price's empty private rooms, and tossed Floo Powder in the fireplace, calling out "Headmaster's Office!"

As she emerged from his fireplace, Dumbledore asked, "My dear Miss Vox, is something the matter - OOF!"

She shouldered the Headmaster aside and looked out the window.

The entire field was dotted with red flowers.

"CRAP!" she gasped. "CRAP-CRAP-CRAP! The whole school is surrounded by Nymphadora Arums!"

"Beg pardon?"

"THESE things!" She shoved the book at him under his long nose as he adjusted his half-moon spectacles and read the description.

"Oh, dear. How did this happen?"

"How would I know?? I saw only one two days ago!" She paused, her eyes wide, and her sunglasses fell off one ear. "I almost stuck my tongue in Sev's mouth from it - !"

Dumbledore threw Floo Powder into the fireplace. "Professor Sprout! Please come to my office, this is most urgent!"

He turned around and picked up an object that looked a little like an ear horn semi-deaf people would use. Instead, he opened his office door and spoke into the small end: "Attention students - no one is allowed outside until further notice, most especially the girls. If any boys bring flowers into the school, they will be expelled. Do not go outside for any reason whatsoever."

Professor Sprout appeared in the fireplace and she quickly ruffled ashes out of her poofy brown hair. "You called for me, Headmaster?"

"Are there any other students that know about this flower?" Dumbledore asked Martis.

"Not consciously," Martis answered. "My roommate Oriana Crescent is allergic to plants in general and Akiko seems to be the only one affected by it. After Severus and I found it, I wore it around the day before yesterday, then tossed it out yesterday morning."

"What sort of flower?" the Herbology teacher perked up.

"Nymphadora Arum," Dumbledore stated.

Sprout's eyes got very big. "They're growing here in Scotland?"

"They're growing around the school, Professor," the Headmaster informed her. "Evidently blossoming overnight, as it were."

"Oh, dear. It's been here a while then - this batch isn't new. Nymphadora Arums blossom once every fifty years in different locations - I read somewhere of there being an infestation of them around here in the Fifteenth Century and that they had been destroyed." She giggled. "I guess they weren't very thorough in destroying them." Her eyes rested on Martis. "You said you and Severus Snape discovered them?"

"One of them, under a tree, about two days ago." She hitched Medusa up over her shoulder.

She bit her lip. "Yes, the Nymphadoras are quite prolific breeders when they start blossoming. Martis, I need to discuss plans of getting rid of it with the Headmaster. Thank you for finding it - "

"It's a bit late - everyone would have noticed it."

"But nobody knows what it is," Dumbledore said. "And hopefully, they haven't been exposed to it in full bloom."

"People have been studying outside for the past two days, Headmaster! Plus the pollen is all over Slytherin House because I brought that one in. There's been a jump in Protection Spells being activated - "

Dumbledore sighed. "Yes, I did have seven visits by the Slytherin Protection Spells the past few days. And considering what you told me, I'm surprised there haven't been more."

"And don't forget Akiko's attempt this evening," Martis added. She began pacing around the office. "How were they destroyed the last time?"

"According to records, burning," Sprout answered.

"Can't do that this time. Thermal updrafts will blow the pollen away. I distinctly remember when Snips - I mean - Severus picked it, the pollen spilled out. We need something that catches the pollen ... and we also need to find a way to collect it without endangering anyone with you-know-what."

"It had been used as an aphrodisiac during ancient times," Sprout admitted. "Only Witches are affected by it, Wizards could be in contact with safety."

"And need a washing afterward, just to make sure," Martis insisted.

"Then that settles it," Dumbledore said. "I'll select First-Year boys and several male staff members to collect the flowers tonight while everyone else is asleep. No one else is to know about this, Britomartis."

She nodded. "Top secret, sir. I'll try to find a House-Elf and ask them to do a special cleaning of Slytherin House."

"Good. You can go back to your House, now."

Martis left the room by Floo. Professor Sprout exhaled.

"Albus, do you have any idea what is going on with Vox and Snape?" she inquired. "I purposefully did not mention that the only reason the Nymphadora gets activated to breed is because someone in the vicinity has been trying to do something naughty. They found the first one - probably because of something torrid going on."

"Pomona, there is no reason to suspect - "

"Oh, Albus, you old fool, everyone knows about them. Admittedly, Severus has become more tolerable but the lady staff are placing bets on when we find out about a pregnancy."

"I'm surprised at you for having such a low opinion of our Slytherin children," Dumbledore commented.

"I'm a lot more in tune with nature than most, Albus," Sprout answered. "Nature always finds a way, especially in that regard. And this explosion of Nymphadoras only proves it."

"This can be discussed another time, Pomona - we need to take care of those flowers now before any other students allow 'nature to find a way'."

----------

"Snips, you can't be catatonic the rest of the evening," Martis stated. "It was only Akiko. She still has the figure of an eight-year-old."

Sev groaned from under his robe, which was still over his head.

"Are you even going to talk about it? Or just carry on like this?" she asked. She lifted the robe up and ducked her head under to look at his face. "All right, Snips, it's just us. What's the problem?"

He opened his eyes and stared back at her. "It ... freaked me out."

"Really?"

He nodded, clenching his teeth. "Second most-amount-of-skin I saw in my life."

"Well, at least I was the first."

"Stop that." He lowered his eyes. "It's not funny."

"I'm sorry, Severus. Us girls really mystify you, huh?"

"Yes. Especially when you all act weird."

Martis smiled ruefully. "We have an excuse called 'monthly hormone imbalance'. What's your guys' excuse?"

"Hey." A smile broke the corners of his mouth. "Is it safe out there?"

"Not really - we are in Slytherin House after all." She leaned forward and kissed his cheek, then quickly pulled away. "You better get this robe washed. It's covered in that pollen."

"Pollen?"

She quietly explained the Nymphadora Arum flower and the present infestation, and Sev blinked in awe.

"Is that why Akiko ... ?"

"Yes. Exactly why."

Sev's eyes widened. "What about you? If it affects all girls - !"

"I'm restraining the urge to push you back and do things I heard the twins talk about." She bit her lip. "Admittedly, it's becoming rather difficult since we're so close together and you smell nice and - "

Sev watched her shut her eyes in concentration and her lower lip began to tremble. He pulled the robe down from their heads and gently pushed her away. "Go up to your room, Spirals. If the pollen transferred from my robe to yours, you need to get yours washed, too."

She nodded. "I promise you, I won't hurt you," she whispered, her green eyes fastened to his black. "If anything happens, I will not hurt you."

"Nothing will happen - now get to your room."

She got up and left, running up the staircase to the girls' dorms.

Sev exhaled loudly. The Nymphadora Arum, a natural aphrodisiac, was originally used for fertility rites in ancient magic. Then it became a favorite additive to 'rape' potions within the past two thousand years, making their use outlawed by every wizarding community on Earth.

That was one of the many fertility drugs used in his conception. 'Just so your mother didn't struggle so much', his father had told him.

If word got out there was a Nymphadora infestation, every Dark Wizard within the British Isles would be swarming all over Hogwarts. Not to mention all the teenage girls right on the spot ...

Sev got up and ran out of the common room to the office of the Potions Master.

----------

Professor Sartoris was slightly surprised to see Sev in the doorway of his office.

"May I help you, Master Snape?"

Sev crossed into the room. "You're going to gather Nymphadora pollen, aren't you?"

"You've heard - excellent. Yes, I was asked to help destroy the current infestation and I was going to collect some for the market. I really do need some help. I figure the both of us could collect twice as much - maybe more - tonight."

"Have you informed anyone?"

"Gracious, no. I could corner the market with this. It'll be our secret."

Sev clutched his hand into a fist. He lowered his brows over his eyes. "No."

"If you want a cut of the profit, I have no problem with it." Sartoris turned back to his harvesting equipment of hand-sickles and invisible bags. "After all, you'll be helping with the harvest and the processing."

Sev quickly debated - he had no real way of stopping Sartoris from harvesting the Nymphadora. If he told Sartoris to forget about it, his father would beat the holy hell out of him again.

But then, if he helped Sartoris ... and later destroyed what they collected ... that would still result in him getting beaten, but at least there would be none flooding Knockturn Alley.

It was worth the risk.

"I'll help you, sir."

"Good boy. Dumbledore wants us outside at midnight. About fifty First-Year boys will be helping us, along with Professors Kettleburn, McElwain, Flitwick, Azaki, Penderdandis, Mr. Filch, Mr. Hagrid, and the Headmaster as well." He chuckled. "Can't have any womenfolk out there, they'd go insane from the scent and pollen."

Sev nodded silently.

----------

Martis sat on the tile floor of the girls' showers, letting the water fall upon her and plaster her hair outward from her body. The fact this was an ice cold shower helped to penetrate the effect of the Nymphadora essence.

All right. So she was exposed to the flower for nearly six hours that night when they first found it and he put it in her hair. (The vulgar commentary from the older Slytherins concerning what it looked it got them swatted. At least they never saw a Dragon Arum - the spike-stamen would have caused them to blush themselves to death. Or the smell would have knocked them out.)

No wonder, though. No wonder she daydreamed about Sev that evening. No wonder she dreamed of things she had only heard of but never experienced. No wonder she had almost kissed him!

Great Mother.

This evening, with some pollen still on his robe, she was still shaking off the effects it caused. Why had the Protection Spells not gone off? Would something had to have actually happened? As was, she had crawled into his lap and was quite aware of his scent and warmth and everything in her really, really wanted to -

Martis slapped her face. [Concentrate, you obsessed loon! Snips would be very upset and scared if he knew you were thinking about his package!]

She had to find a house-elf soon and get Slytherin cleaned up properly.

----------

By midnight, Sev was ready to 'help' harvest Nymphadora Arums under the guise of gathering them to be destroyed. He would have laughed at the convoluted arrangement (pretending to destroy it while pretending to harvest it and intending to destroy it) if his sense of humor switch was on.

As it were, Professor Sartoris had vouched for Sev's help in gathering the Nymphadora, while Sev admitted since he was one of the first to find it, he had to help in the destruction.

The tedium of gathering one-and-a-half plants' worth of pollen for every half he destroyed kept his mind occupied on the task at hand, rather than the notion that his Martis was vulnerable to the essence of the plant. A sharp reminder that this poison had been used on his own mother to help 'make' him snapped him back to reality.

Hagrid had set up a fire kiln in the center of the field; once sacks were filled with pollen and plant and root, the sacks were tossed into the kiln and burned; Dumbledore had been the one to cast a special firespell that burned the contents first before the sack finally burned away. The First-Year boys had no idea why they had to destroy the flowers, but they were assured they were saving the lives of their fellow students as well as a special treat of ice cream for breakfast and a day off from studies and classes.

The professors had been assigned sections to supervise the boys in gathering the Nymphadoras, while they themselves took the sacks to Hagrid and assisted in the general collection.

Sev could feel the invisible bag getting heavier as the night wore on. Pollen weighed a lot more than he expected, especially after some few hundred samples had been taken. Damned Sartoris was just being greedy now.

He had to review how Nymphadora pollen had to be stored. There was a special way to store it, he knew, but he did not study such a rare potion ingredient because he had deemed it 'unnecessary'. Now it was quite necessary, and he mentally whipped himself for being blind to the fact that ALL potion ingredients needed to be studied, no matter how rare or useless they seemed to him.

Sev really hoped Martis was in bed asleep with her window shut. This was the most dangerous place for her - for any girl - to be.

----------

After her shower, Martis collapsed on her bed, looking up at the green canopy.

This did not feel right. She had to be doing something. Anything. The whole Nymphadora problem felt like her fault and she had to do something -

A giggle caught her attention. She sat straight up in bed and looked around the room. Oriana's bedcurtains were closed, and so were the curtains to Peony's bed.

Another giggle issued from the direction of Peony's bed.

No way. Guys were not able to stay any longer in the girls' dorms than girls were in the guys' dorms. One minute and they were apparated to the Headmaster's office.

Martis jumped to her feet and marched over to Peony's bed, sweeping open the curtains -

And finding something she REALLY did not expect to find.

"Well," she said as she finally found her voice. "Taking lessons from my sister Adonia or simply going through the 'experimental phase'?"

Peony and Akiko shrieked and pulled the blanket over their heads.

"It isn't what it looks like!" Peony cried. "I love Grant!"

"It is what it looked like!" Akiko added. "And I have no explanation for it!"

Martis rubbed her temples. "Don't worry about it, I know why. Take Oriana to the showers with you and wash the pollen off - that flower I brought in is making everyone act weird. Give me a half hour to clean this place up."

Both girls nodded, not moving.

Martis rolled her eyes. "It's not like I haven't seen it before! Besides, I prefer men."

"Or whatever Severus is," Peony commented as she got out of bed.

"Get going, you pervs."

Akiko raspberried her. "Prude."

"I understand the gravity of the situation, you don't and I won't tell you. Just get a thorough washing and try not to molest each other in the showers."

Slipping bath robes on, they grabbed Oriana and their bath supplies and evacuated the room.

Martis looked around at all the sheets, bedcurtains, and rugs in the room. Maybe longer than a half hour ...

"Goody, Sneezy - I need your help with a clean-up."

Two House-Elves popped into the room. They nervously shuffled. "What Britty Vox need clean?"

"I have a very special project and I know you two to be the best at cleaning everything."

The House-Elves smiled shyly.

"And this special project requires you to find pollen."

Their large eyes got even larger.

"Can you do it?"

"Yes," they answered in unison.

----------

A half-hour later, the dormroom had been cleaned of every speck of pollen. Martis and the House-Elves descended the staircase to the common room to clean the pollen there as well, making sure to store it all in a waterproof sack.

"Of course," Martis was saying. "This will have to be done all over the school, especially in the other Houses."

"Britty Vox no worry," one of them - Sneezy, she thought - said. "All House-Elves know importance of real cleaning, they do. Pollen really bad, it is."

"This pollen, especially. The boys are outside helping clean up some dangerous pollen."

The other House-Elf asked, "And how will Britty Vox destroy pollen?"

"Where do you guys usually dispose of dirt?"

"Dustbin, we do."

"No, not good enough for this. I'll have to think about it."

----------

Near dawn, Sev hauled up the official sack of Nymphadoras to the fire-kiln.

"Done yet?" Hagrid asked.

"Our section, yeah."

"Not much there."

"Do you want it done right?" Sev asked pointedly.

"Ay, yeh got me there."

----------

Near dawn, Martis and the two House-Elves had gathered all the pollen in Slytherin and the dungeon hallways.

Martis tied the sack tightly. "All right. I know the boys have a fire going on to destroy the flowers outside, so if this can be taken - "

"No problem," both House-Elves stated, snapping their fingers.

Martis and the sack of pollen apparated outside next to the fire-kiln.

Martis looked around, seeing the surprised Hagrid, Sev, and various First-Year boys, the sacks of Nymphadoras, and the few remaining flowers still standing around.

"Oh, CRAP!" she cried, clamping her hands over her mouth and nose.

"Spirals, what are you doing out here?!" Sev yelled.

She fell to her knees on the ground, then released her mouth. "STUN ME! QUICK!"

The First-Year boys ran to find a Professor while Hagrid tried to approach her.

Sev fumbled in his robes for his wand but the invisible bag's cords had caught on his wrist and he was unable to reach it before he looked up to see her rushing at him, her eyes glazed and her expression a complete blank.

"For Gods' sakes, man!" Hagrid cried. "Stun 'er!"

"I can't get - OOF!"

Martis had tackled Sev to the ground, crawling over his body and groping him.

Fear screamed through his veins and he reacted on impulse - he arched his neck forward and bit her shoulder. Hard.

This did not have the effect he wanted - instead she made squealing sounds and pulled him close, rolling over to get him on top of her and yanking his hands to her own body.

"BRITOMARTIS, STOP THIS!" Sev shrieked, trying to pull away.

"Severus - OFF!" Dumbledore's voice called.

Sev jerked back from his best friend as the Headmaster cried, "STUPEFY!"

A bolt of red lightning shot from his wand, striking Martis and knocking her unconscious. Her limbs fell heavily to her sides and she became deathly still.

Sev sat up, trying to catch his breath and brushing his hair out of his face.

"Yeh didn't 'ave to encourage 'er by bitin' 'er," Hagrid commented.

"I wasn't trying to encourage her!" Sev protested. "Dogs bite other dogs when they fight!"

Professor McElwain shook his head. "Son, that's exactly the wrong thing to do in a situation like that unless you want her to react that way."

Sev blushed up to his hairline, allowing his hair to curtain his face again. "Nobody tells me these things!" he ranted, waving his arms around.

"What was Miss Vox doing out here to begin with?" Dumbledore asked.

"She jus' suddenly appeared, Professor Dumbledore-sir," Hagrid answered. "She 'ad this sack with 'er."

"The pollen from Slytherin House, I suspect," Dumbledore stated. "Put it in the fire as well, Hagrid." He offered a hand to Sev and the teenager pulled himself up. "Are you all right, son?"

Sev nodded. "Just a little shaken. Will Martis be all right?"

"She should be after we bring her back. Meanwhile, so as not to cause another incident, perhaps you should have a shower and get those clothes washed before you join her for breakfast?"

Sev nodded. "So what about the excess pollen we couldn't get?"

"It'll be taken care of with the help of Professor Sprout."

"But wouldn't she - ?"

Dumbledore smirked. "I don't question how she'll do it. It's probably best not to think about it, either."

"Good point."

----------

Sev dropped off the invisible bag of pollen in Sartoris' office, watching the old Potions Master carefully fill a wooden barrel with the pollen from his own sack.

"Thank you, Master Snape," Sartoris remarked. "Quite a successful harvest. Once it's processed, we'll be able to sell this to the Knockturn Alley merchants at our own price. How's that sound? It'll amount to a nice sum of starting money for you when you graduate." He poured the second bag into the barrel. "And I think I'll reserve some for a wedding present for you when you wed Miss Vox."

Sev restrained every muscle in his body to not pull his wand out and hex the old man. His own mother given this same drug so she would accept her damned 'fertility' rape without protest! [HOW DARE YOU! If I marry Spirals, it'll be because we want to, not because you or my father think it's a great idea and I'm sure as hell not going to put her through all that so you can have another damned acolyte!]

"May I be excused, sir?"

"Yes. Tomorrow - well - this evening we'll get to processing the pollen and get it ready for sale. I'll need your help, of course. Will you be able to do it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then get some sleep. Dismissed."

Sev left the dungeons and made his way up to the Great Hall. It was just after six in the morning, none of the other students awake yet, so all the of First-Year boys and the male Professors sat together at the ends of the House tables together, sharing ice cream or cakes or some other foods for their second evening meal.

Martis was seated with the First-Year boys of Slytherin, signing her Quidditch poster for those offering it and taking bites of strawberry ice cream.

"You safe?" he asked as he approached her.

"Not under the influence of any pollen," Martis stated, scooting an eleven-year-old over to make room for him.

Sev slipped in next to her. "You scared me."

"I scared me, too." She looked away and licked ice cream from her spoon. "I controlled it as much as I could. Hagrid was closer - it would have been easier to glomp onto him, but I ... I moved to you."

"Why? All Hagrid had to do was pick you up by the scruff and hold you at arm's length."

"But I knew you'd stun me without that." She glanced back at him. "But you didn't."

He turned away this time. "My wand got tangled in my robe. I couldn't reach it in time."

She drew her hair aside from her shoulder, the sundress exposing the flesh bruised purple and red from a set of perfectly indented teethmarks. "So biting me would have stopped it?"

He blushed again. "It was a good idea at the time." He brushed her hair back over her shoulder. "I'm really, really sorry - I didn't mean to hurt you - "

"I know. In the state I was in, it ... " She blushed this time, shoving a huge spoonful of ice cream in her mouth. After finally swallowing, she looked down into her bowl. "Forgiven, Severus. Just don't bite me so hard next time. A playful love-nip would be better."

The First-Year Slytherin boys stared at the duo, then blushed and went back to their own ice cream.

Sev gazed at her. "How can you joke about it already?"

"Because if I mull over it seriously and with worry, I'll go nuts. I have to be flippant for now." She looked back up at him. "Come on, make a joke about what happened."

"You're not taking this seriously."

"It can't be taken seriously. If you take it seriously, you'll probably think in directions you don't want to yet."

Sev opened his mouth, then closed it. Damn, she was right. He racked his brain to find something funny about it, but he could not at this point. Deciding to hell with it, he finally said, "You taste good."

She looked up, her eyes wide, then broke into giggles. "Well, I really didn't expect that!"

"Me, neither. I'm about to roast in my blush."

"You could have made a joke about me looking like a stoned moron while I was under the influence."

"Hm. Yes, I could have. Although I was slightly distracted by the drool dribbling from your mouth."

"I did not drool!" she laughed.

"Yes, you did."

"Did not - bother." She poked him.

"Did too - bother." He poked her.

"Not - bother."

"Too - bother."

"Not - bother."

"Too - bother."

"Not - bother."

"Too - bother."

The First-Year boys scooted away from them.

----------

After a long nap and getting dressed, Sev appeared in Professor Sartoris' office that evening.

"Get enough sleep, Master Snape?" Sartoris asked as he set up the measuring instruments.

"I think so," Sev yawned. "What does the processing of Nymphadora pollen entail?"

"Basic subtilation to remove the inactive essence, in this case by heating it to a steady temperature, then taking it off the heat and storing it immediately. This will prepare it for a proper elixirification at a later date. I'll have you start the fire."

Sev thought fast - any potion ingredient that needed to be 'roasted' (a favorite term used by Potions students) usually needed a low temperature for the active essence to be released enough to be kept fresh while in storage. If he was able to make the fire hotter than it looked, he could spoil it ... not to mention ruin the whole harvest at once ...

He set about starting the fire in the fireplace, placing the grill rack over it as soon as it began to flame. He looked up at Sartoris, seeing the old man sterilizing bottles, and quickly reached up to the mantle. He opened the bottle of Fire Strike and threw a large dash of the heat increaser over the fire. It flared bright orange, then settled back down.

All right, the fire was now hot enough to melt gold. In fact, the steel grill was beginning to char. He covered it with the metal sheet.

"Fire's ready, sir," Sev announced as he picked up the barrel of pollen.

"All right. Place a sheet over the rack and spread the pollen across it - WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

Sev 'tripped', pouring the entire contents of the barrel over the metal sheet and into the fire.

"Whoops! Oh, sir, I'm so sorry! I got carried away!"

Sartoris tried to save what pollen he could, but the fire caught onto his robe sleeve and quickly flared up. Sartoris danced around the room, waving his blazing sleeve and shouting, "PUT ME OUT! PUT ME OUT!"

Sev contemplated his best course of action for a moment, then shrugged, grabbed a bucket of water by the fireplace and splashed it right at the Potions Master, soaking the old man to the bone and making his long white hair plaster to his face and shoulders.

"I'm sorry, sir - "

"OUT! GET SOME MORE SLEEP! I DON'T KNOW! STUDY HOW TO SUBTILATE INGREDIENTS AGAIN BEFORE YOU ASSIST ME IN ANYTHING ELSE! OUT-OUT-OUT!"

Sev glanced at the fireplace to make sure the pollen was quite ruined, then dashed out of the potions lab and back to Slytherin House.

Might get a beating for it, but at least he would not have been indirectly responsible for the forced consent of a Dark Bride. (And if he should marry Martis - which was unlikely - he would not have that cursed elixir in their lives.)

He quickly showered, making sure to get all the pollen out of his hair and skin, then dressed in his under-uniform and robe, and trotted out to the Great Hall where everyone was sitting down to dinner.

"Where were you?" Martis asked as he sat next to her.

"Had to take care of some business," he answered.

Dumbledore tapped his glass and he stood as the students quieted.

"As you may not know, we had an infestation of Nymphadora Arums, a type of flower that produces a poisonous pollen. Last night, a group of students and professors had destroyed these flowers blooming around Hogwarts, so it is safe to go outside once again. The teaching staff would like to thank Britomartis Vox and Severus Snape, and I award Slytherin twenty points for their action in discovering and identifying the danger."

Slytherin applauded wildly while the other Houses politely clapped. The Marauders glared at them.

"Without further adieu - dinner."

Food materialized and students helped themselves.

"So all that really - ?" Akiko began.

"Had an effect on all the girls," Martis finished quietly. "Yes. Evidently, it affected more people than we expected because the Protection Spells weren't able to pick it up."

"What?" Peony asked. "How? Don't they go off because something happens?"

"That and intent," Martis explained. "After some studies, I found out that aphrodisiacs cause a person to react in a way they wouldn't normally, so intent was not an issue in regards to the Protection Spells."

"Sure as hell wouldn't," Peony muttered.

"Oh, shut up," Akiko snapped. "'Softness increases when in proximity with softness'."

"What?"

"Will you two take your lovers' bicker outside?" Martis asked. "I'm trying to eat here."

Sev glanced up at Martis' roommates, then his eyes widened and he leaned close to Martis. "Girls do it, too???"

"So do some guys," she whispered in return. "Don't worry about it, it'll make your head explode."

Sev drew a strand of dark hair over his ear. "Woah."

He side-glanced toward Martis. The bite-mark was not visible, but he knew from the way she carefully moved her shoulder that she had not done anything about it. She could have gotten it healed up by Nurse Pomfrey quite easily. So ... why did she still have it untreated?

----------

"Remus Lupin!" Martis yelled as students left the Great Hall.

Lupin turned around, seeing Martis running toward him. "Yes, Miss Britomartis?"

She stood close to him, then pulled down her tie and unbuttoned a few buttons of her under-uniform.

Lupin squeaked. [Oh, my God, she's stripping right in the hall!] His second thought struggled to voice itself, but he beat it down with every ounce of gentlemanly decency he possessed.

She sloughed the shirt down, exposing the teethmark bruises on her shoulder. "I need your help - you're the expert on vampires around here and I want you to identify this bite mark on my shoulder - "

Lupin grabbed her arm and held her hair aside. "No vampire - but who the hell bit you??"

"Snips did."

"WHAT??" Lupin gently touched the bite mark. "That monster - how dare he - !"

A brief image of a staked Severus Snape laying at his feet filled his mind, but he dismissed it. Especially since this same image had him holding a scantily-clad Miss Britomartis whose clothes had been ripped by said monster.

Martis gripped his wrist, making him aware he was still in reality. "How dare you to assume - I enjoyed it, actually." She smirked, straightening her shirt again. "But now that you have assured me that it wasn't a vampire bite, I shall go off and delight in more lovely love-nips - "

Lupin staggered away and began banging his head into a nearby wall. Martis - completely puzzled - shrugged and left him to indulge in this new hobby.

"Hope he figures out I was making fun of his vampire fiasco a while back."

----------

Andromeda Black pulled her hood over her head as she left Hogwarts and walked down the road around the lake.

Her younger sisters Narcissa and Bellatrix were sinking deeper and deeper into the Darkness. After Narcissa's attempt at enchanting that Snape boy - and her own parents' rather trivial reaction to it - Andromeda was convinced more than ever that she could not be part of the Black family any longer. Luckily the Order of the Phoenix gave her someplace to go.

She enjoyed the Light, and she enjoyed freedom more than anything else. Her family would completely lose it if they found out she was dating a Muggle; but dear, darling Ted was the most gentlemanly man she knew (certainly better than those irritating Pureblood doofuses her father kept trying to hook her up with).

Pausing on the road, a blood-red lily-like flower caught her attention. She picked it and twirled it around in her fingers as the pollen spilled onto her clothes, then sniffed it.

The flower smelled wonderful. She held it as she made her way back to Hogsmeade to catch the train back to London where her darling Ted would pick her up. Somehow, the thought of Ted warmed her more than usual. And by the time she got to London, she was quite warm, indeed ...

A few weeks later, Andromeda Black became Mrs. Theodore Tonks. And after a bit of research, she found a name for the unborn child that had provoked their marriage ... Nymphadora.

But that's another story.

-End-