DISCLAIMER: Apologies, but it took me a while to tweak it to what I wanted. Plus I'm in college and working at the same time, so I hope I'll be able to finish this before book six comes out!

As an aside, there is another year (well, half-year) of Snips and Spirals stories left, and their third year together is going to be one of the most convoluted, outrageous, and bizarre set of adventures to hit Hogwarts. Some questions will be answered, others will have to wait until I can get to work on their adult stories. And, yes, Professors Vox and Snape will appear in 'Prisoner of Azkaban' with their own viewpoints of what went on. (If I can think of a title and get to working on some more chapters.)

Atana and I are pleased to be able to provide you with our own original character and we are flattered that you like Martis so well. Thank you all so much!

--------------------

Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"Farewell Yet Again"

Text by Lady Tesser

--------------------

Severus Snape, aged fifteen and Fourth-Year student, felt the wad of paper strike the back of his head yet again.

How can that still provide those morons so much entertainment after four years? Were they really that easily amused or was it because they had the collective intelligence of two brain cells and said brain cells were fighting amongst each other?

He ignored it as he always did. There was no trying to fight back in McGonagall's class during finals - despite what she said, she was still prone to the 'I-Didn't-See-It-So-It-Didn't-Happen' disease so many teachers were inflicted with. It was not due to maliciousness, but the simple fact that the tormentors were always good about keeping their bullying out-of-sight.

Another wad thunked him in the head.

Sev concentrated on his Transfigurations essay. His cramped, tiny handwriting was barely legible, but McGonagall never complained; she claimed to be happy he was so meticulous about his work.

Another wad, much larger this time, hit him.

[Ignore, ignore.]

Thunk ...

[McGonagall, look up, you flea-bag!]

Thunk!

Sev slipped his wand down the sleeve of his shirt and discreetly aimed it behind him toward Sirius Black. He sighed the incantation and felt the energy shoot from his wand and hit its target.

Less than a second later, James Potter moaned in disgust, "Gods, Padfoot, your breath smells terrible!"

McGonagall looked up; Sev had already pushed his wand back up his sleeve and Potter was still muttering about Black's breath. Sev continued writing, ignoring the room in general.

"My breath does not stink!" Black objected.

"From this angle it does!"

McGonagall shushed them harshly.

James Potter continued to mutter about Sirius Black's breath and even went as far as to cast a Bubble Head Charm on himself so he could breathe.

By the end of the class, those students closest to Black had also placed Bubble Head Charms on themselves and made a quick getaway down the hall.

Argus Filch watched them and rolled his eyes. "Come along, my sweet," he murmured to Mrs. Norris. "I've a feeling there's a dungbomb around here. Always like that during finals, the wretches."

----------

"Who put this hex on you?" Remus Lupin asked as he looked up a counter-spell to the 'Death Breath' hex in the library.

"Who else?" Black wheezed, trying to keep his mouth covered. "The Greasy Git of Snake Hall."

"Well, you were throwing paper at his head. Did you think you could get away with it so close to the end of the year?" Lupin asked in irritation. "Here we are - " He lifted up his wand and swished it around at Black's mouth, then flicked. "Listeria."

Black pulled his hands away. "Any better?"

"Much." Lupin pulled off the clamp from his nose. "Now, if you don't mind, I have some studying to do - "

Black raised an eyebrow, then snatched one of the library books away. "'A Survey of the Minoan Culture'? What's this for?"

"None of your business!" Lupin hissed. "Now give it back, Sirius!"

Black flipped idly through the book and paused at a drawing of a group of Snake Priestesses. "Hey, they's nekkid!"

"Only topless," Lupin groused. "It's part of the Minoan priestess garb."

Black pursed his lips, studying the pictures. "Nice skirts."

Lupin blushed. "Long tiered skirts and open-front bodices, not to mention the jewelry. And the snakes."

"Kinda like Vox."

"It IS her culture," Lupin reminded him.

"REALLY? And when was she going to tell us?"

"Probably never. She does still feel sore about the attempted murder bit."

"Pooh," Black flippantly dismissed it. "I think it's rather important information."

Lupin pulled back. "Padfoot, no. It's the end of the year; there's no point in trying to do anything - "

"Who said I was going to do anything?" He pouted. "Moony, my lad, you wound me, you do. Why would I - "

"You're breathing, that's why." Lupin slammed the book shut. "Just - don't - "

Sirius Black smirked, leaning close. "Methinks your allegiances are mixed up, Mr. Lupin."

Remus Lupin clutched the book to his chest, looking down at the table. "I'm - I'm a Marauder - "

"Then start acting like one. Our mortal enemies are Snivellus and Snake-Bitch - don't forget that." He raised an eyebrow again. "Unless you'd like to do some 'interesting' work. Perhaps trying to woo Snake-Bitch - "

Lupin looked up sharply. "Absolutely OUT of the question, Sirius!"

"True, I'd rather feel up a half-starved Nundu, too." Black rubbed his chin. "Do you know Rudolf Rassendyll?"

"The foreign exchange student from Ruritania? Yeah."

"He's had a huge crush on Vox since the Cup Match."

Lupin felt a flare of jealousy, which he quickly stomped out. Rudolf was the tall, burly blonde sixteen-year-old Prince of Ruritania, which was one of the many Wizarding Baltic kingdoms that became unplottable during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rudolf had money, family, and influence enough to make all the Pureblood girls swoon and half of the guys to envy him.

"So what?" Lupin asked coolly.

"Let's have a little fun with the Prince of Quaintness and Snake-Bitch." Black picked up the book on Minoan culture. "After what Mr. Slick did to me, I need a laugh."

----------

Rudolf Rassendyll XIV, Crown Prince of Ruritania, was simply known as 'Rudy' while he spent a semester at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Great Britain.

The British girls were hardly to his taste, despite his polite overtures. And those things known as Protection Spells hardly ever allowed him to get to know any of them better. Which was probably as well since his tastes hardly ever ran into the 'vanilla' range, and 'vanilla' was the perfect description for British witches.

However, there was one that did catch his interest - if anything just for her fancy flying - and that was the Cretan foreigner Britomartis Vox of the Slytherin Quidditch team. She seemed ... slightly more comfortable with herself than the other girls seemed to be.

(Rudy did not want to remember that her sister Adonia had rudely shot down his advances enough to the point of grabbing the nearest girl and kissing her instead. The other girl responded quite enthusiastically enough to convince him - after a half-hour of observation - that Miss Adonia may not be suitable.)

And a Mr. Sirius Black from the Gryffindor team had asked to speak with him about her, informing him of the proper way to greet a Cretan/Minoan girl when one wished to start romantic overtures with, and had even supplied evidence with a book on Minoan culture complete with drawings of how she normally dressed on Crete.

(The fact that Rudy took anything Black said at face value was an indication he did not bother to educate himself on the politics between the groups. Nor did he do any of his own research.)

So, Rudy made his way outside to the Quad and found Martis on her way to her next class, her bookbag slung over her back and her robe open to show off her under-uniform of gray skirt and sweater and green and silver tie. The sunglasses reflected the sun harshly back at him as she approached, completely oblivious to his presence.

"Miss Vox?" he called as he stopped her in her path.

"Hm? Yes, help you ... ? Uh, who are you?" she asked.

Rudy was taken aback; he thought everyone by this point knew who he was. He quickly replied, "Rudy Rassendyll, exchange student from Ruritania." His hand glomped onto her breast just as Sev entered the Quad. "And I wish to get to know - YAAAH!"

Martis lowered her knee from his crotch and allowed him to fall to the ground in a heap. "DON'T - TOUCH - ME - THERE!"

From behind Martis came the yell of, "Brassica Olearacea!"

Rudy's head spontaneously turned into a cabbage. Martis turned around to see Sev standing not too far away, his wand still drawn. Students were gathered around - some giggling, others horrified - as the cabbage-headed Prince of Ruritania held his cods.

"You all right, Spirals?" Sev asked, his wand still trained on the writhing figure. "I saw the pervert trying something."

"Yes, I'm fine, but I could have taken care of it myself. But how did you turn his head into a cabbage?"

"I found the hex in a nineteenth century student notebook," Sev remarked as he put his wand away. "I wanted to try it out."

Martis linked her arm into his, both continuing on. "Wow. Think I could take a look at that book?" As they passed Keith Woot, she added, "By the way, Keith, a guy grabbed my breast on the Quad - he's the one with a cabbage for a head."

Less than five seconds later, the rest of the Slytherin Quidditch team descended down on the remains of Rudy and informed him not to touch their Miss Spirals ever again. Which was after they got done beating him.

Rudy, who was unconscious and had a cabbage for a head, was unable to comment.

----------

"Twenty points from Slytherin and a formal apology," Professor Minerva McGonagall stated.

"What??" Martis asked with disbelief as the Transfigurations instructor dragged her down the hall. "The bastard molested me! I thought you of all people would not tolerate something like that!"

"I don't," McGonagall agreed. "I also don't approve of jumping to conclusions and beating other students unconscious."

"That was the Quidditch team."

"I know. I am aware you and Snape are unable to - " She paused, seeing Professor Penderdandis. "Good, you found him."

Penderdandis frowned. "Yes, he admitted to turning Mr. Rassendyll's head into a cabbage."

"I don't apologize," Sev snarled. "He was being a pervert."

McGonagall lead the group into the hospital wing. "Yes, perhaps it would help if you actually asked why he did such a thing instead of assuming."

"He grabbed her - thingie!" Sev protested. "Not a lot of ways to misinterpret that!"

"Reflex, ma'am," Martis added. "I don't take to being fondled very well."

They approached the bed containing the now perfectly normal but badly bruised Rudy.

"Apologize. You have five minutes." And the teachers were gone.

Sev and Martis stared back at Rudy, who was blinking at them.

Sev slipped his wand out from his sleeve and held it up under Rudy's chin. "I don't care what they say - I will not apologize because you were being the pervert!"

Rudy swallowed. "Pervert?" he asked in his thick middle-European accent. "Mr. Snape, I was following custom in how to greet a Minoan girl - "

"That is NOT how to greet ANYONE in my culture!" Martis cried. "What sort of idiot told you that?"

"Mr. Black did; one of the Chasers on the Gryffindor team."

Sev and Martis stared at him, looked at each other, then looked at Rudy again.

Sev released Rudy's chin with his wand, slipping it back down his sleeve and stepping away from the bed. Martis knelt next to the bed with her forehead bowed down to the sheets.

"Mr. Rassendyll, we are SO sorry for what we did to you," Martis said contritely, lifting her head up.

"I beg your pardon?" he asked, slightly confused.

Sev folded his arms. "Sirius Black has it in for us. I should have seen it - the whole incident had his fingerprints all over it."

Martis got up and sat next to Rudy on his bed. "You see, Mr. Rassendyll, Snips and me aren't too popular around here, and Sirius Black likes to prank us every chance he gets. The fact that he involved an innocent - you - to take the punishment is bad form."

"Very bad indeed," Sev confirmed. "I'm sorry I turned your head into a cabbage."

Rudy waved his hand dismissively. "It save my life, actually. Your teammates would have broken my skull if Mr. Snape hadn't transfigured it."

Martis pulled her sunglasses off and nervously played with them. "I'm sorry I sent them after you. It's just - I assumed - "

"Just as I assumed that any culture would really allow such a greeting," Rudy added, reaching across to calm her hands down with his. "I do forgive you, Miss Vox."

"Can't be let go that easy," she sighed. "What else do you need?"

"Well, the whole reason I tried to begin with was to get to know you, but considering how you kneed me in the groin I'll be incapacitated for a few weeks."

She blinked, tried to open her mouth, but no sound came.

Sev placed his hand on her shoulder and stared Rudy down, even as Martis' hand reached up and covered Sev's. The Prince recognized the gesture immediately and blushed, taking his hand away from her own holding the sunglasses. "Oh, I'm sorry - I had no idea - "

"It's all right," Sev assured him. "Now, you are certain it was Sirius Black who told you this?"

"Absolutely."

"Thank you. Again, we apologize for our actions." He gripped Martis' hand. "Come on, Spirals."

Martis followed Sev out of the infirmary and both made their way down the hall.

"What was HE apologizing for?"

"For being a pervert," Sev lied. "Now that that's out of the way, we lost the twenty points we had gained from the Nymphadora fiasco. All because Sillyass had to be a prat."

"I can't believe he dragged an innocent bystander into this!" Martis stated as they descended the stairs. "He's reached a new high in lows for certain!"

"Somewhat oddly phrased," Sev replied. "But agreed - this cannot be allowed to stand."

"What shall we do?" she asked. "Shall we stuff ferrets down his trousers?"

"You already stuffed a Cornish Pixie down them, he'll be expecting it."

"Give him breasts?" She twitched her wand. "See how he likes being fondled by his buddies?"

"He may enjoy it - or lock himself in his dormroom and never come out."

"Ew, you're right. Yuck."

Sev was now pondering with his entire brain, his intense gaze scaring the portraits as they passed. "We need this to be public. The effect must be as utterly humiliating to him as his prank was to you and poor Rassendyll. But at the same time, it must be subtle enough to slip below his awareness until it is too late."

Martis shivered. When he got like this, he was so exciting he made her thighs ache. "Something that he wouldn't know, but everyone else would see - "

"Or hear." His dark brows lowered over his eyes. "It would be complex, though, if we use a spell ... but that's the only way I could work something like that ... "

"Something like what?"

He stopped, turning to her, his liquid black eyes glittering. In a husky, secretive tone, he stated, "I have an idea."

Funny, even those words produced the same reaction in her ...

----------

It had been three days since the Half-Beaten Prince Incident (at least, that's what the Slytherin Quidditch team called it) and the last week of school had started at last.

The End-of-Year Ball was filled with nearly every student in Hogwarts ... except Martis and Sev.

Both were in the Conversation Room, plotting and consuming mass quantities of chocolate.

"How about 'Mum and dad are brothers'?" Martis suggested.

"Too many words," Sev said, tracing his finger down the page he was reading. "I'm still only a Fourth-Year, and even a Seventh-Year would have troubles with that."

"Or 'I'm a goit'?" She leaned against his shoulder and glanced at the book in his lap.

"Tempting, but still too many syllables."

"Three syllables is still too many?"

"Spirals, work with me here."

"All right ... 'narf'?"

"Where's that from?"

"Heard one of the mice in Transfigurations say it." She grinned and leaned close, whispering a word against his ear.

Sev pulled back. "Was that a suggestion or an order?"

"I'm surprised you know what it means."

"Between you, your sisters, and my roommates, I'm surprised I still have any virtue intact." He crossed his legs under the book. "And much as the idea appeals to me, I don't think I could live with myself by casting that on him."

She chuckled. "Always a gentleman. And I thought all boys thought with their crotches."

Sev's eyebrow twitched. "Oh, yes ... "

"You're agreeing?"

"Perfect. That would do nicely."

'What?"

"Just the thing to humiliate him proper." He scratched a word down in the book with his quill.

Martis glanced at what he wrote: "Crotch?"

"Perfectly suitable," Sev murmured, underlining the complete incantation. "I'll need a few days to work it out ... and your help, of course ... "

"Isn't this a little early?" she asked, trying to get his attention. "I mean, we've never even kissed - "

Sev looked up at her. "What are you talking about?"

"That's what I'm asking. What does the word 'crotch' have to do with anything?"

Sev shook his head. "You need to pay attention more, Miss Jock. We now have the word for him to say."

Martis was silent, thinking about it, then broke into giggles. "You - are - evil!"

"That's a mean thing to say," Sev commented, closing the book. "I'm at least a 'rotten scoundrel'."

She drew her arms around his shoulders. "Whatever it is, it's bloody brilliant. When shall we attack?"

Sev was unaware she was pushing him back to the floor. "It will have to be after a few days. This will take a little while to put together since it's a very advanced spell." He realized she was kissing his face. "And what are you doing?"

She sat up. "Oops. Got carried away."

He sat up as well. "Any more carried away, and I'd swear the Protection Spells would go off. Stop playing, we have plans to make."

Martis flushed and pulled away, completely confused as to her behavior.

----------

The Debate Society was finally able to have their session before the school and several wizard leaders, arguing and discussing the changing morals of Wizarding Britain. With the vast social changes in the Muggle world, repercussions were already being felt by the wizards and witches in western civilization and these issues were the concern of both adult and student alike.

Today's topic was the newly-hatched and growing Openness Movement, which advocated repealing the Secrecy Statutes and allowing Wizard and Muggle societies to openly co-exist. It was a topic that generated heated debate everywhere from taverns in Diagon Alley to the corridors of the Ministry of Magic itself.

Representing the Status Quo position was Sirius Black of Gryffindor. Presenting the Openness viewpoint was Akiko Mori of Slytherin (a very unpopular viewpoint in Slytherin House, but Akiko always was a bit of an outsider).

The Great Hall, filled with rows of chairs holding students, parents, the Minister of Magic, and several other Ministry leaders, waited patiently for the debate to begin as the hall finished filling.

Including Martis and Sev, both seated in Slytherin and their eyes never breaking contact from Sirius Black as they mouthed the incantations in unison. Medusa also offered her support, laying around Martis' neck and shoulders and staring intently at Black as well.

Black did not see them, as he was too busy being nervous about his parents being in the audience. His mother - a brusque, tall woman with beady eyes and her silvering blonde hair pulled up in her hat - would be the first to tell him he was a failure. He was not to allow a little foreign girl to out-argue him on the principles of keeping Wizard and Muggle separated. Personally, he was also not going to let a Slytherin win a debate, either.

Professor McGonagall stepped up to the platform and cleared her throat. Everyone within the hall quieted, and she spoke:

"Welcome to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Debate Session. Tonight's topic will be the Openness Movement versus the Secrecy Statutes, which will be debated amongst the Houses. The first pair will be Akiko Mori of Slytherin arguing for change and Sirius Black of Gryffindor arguing to keep the status quo."

Everyone applauded politely as Black - tall, pale, his jaw-length black hair slicked back - and Akiko - gorgeous almond eyes and bobbed black hair - stepped up to the podiums while McGonagall descended from the stage.

It had been agreed that Black was to present the opening argument to establish the long-standing truths of the Secrecy policies. Akiko was then to offer the argument for open relations, then both were to question the other's standing.

Black shuffled his cards, then began his speech: 'In 1932, an incident involving a Welsh Green Dragon and a beach full of sunbathers had necessitated the used of magic in front of Muggles to dispell the dragon to save the lives of these Muggles. In turn, they had received Memory Charms to forget the incident. One Muggle escaped having a Memory Charm placed upon him and related his tale of the dragon to anyone willing to listen. He was disbelieved.'

Black paused to check the reaction. Everyone seemed to be in awe. His opponent had her head lowered, covering her face with her hair. He pressed onward, relaxing into his speech and driving the point home passionately: 'It is for this reason - pure disbelief - that the Secrecy Statutes must remain in effect! The Muggle World does not believe in magic or the existence of wizards or witches except as accounts in folklore and children's stories.'

The reason people were in 'awe' was because all they heard from his lips for his opening sentence was: "Crotch crotch-crotch-crotch, crotch crotch-crotch-crotch crotch-crotch-crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch-crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch-crotch-crotch crotch crotch-crotch-crotch-crotch-crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch-crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch-crotch crotch crotch-crotch crotch crotch-crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch crotch-crotch."

One can gather this is also what was heard for the rest of the opening statement.

The First-Years finally broke into giggles as a whole. The faculty looked horrified while the Ministry officials tried to remain stone-faced. Representing the Muggle Affairs division was Hogwarts alumnus Arthur Weasley who - at the moment - was turning purple trying to keep from laughing his fool-head off.

The Minister of Magic herself was trying to hide her smirk.

Girls blushed and hid their smiles. Guys snickered or gave Black the thumbs-up. The rest of the Marauders were covering their heads with their robes.

Mrs. Evangeline Black's mouth was in a thin frown, her gray eyes stone-cold and her sallow face completely white. Mr. Thuban Black's face was thoroughly impassive.

Severus Snape and Britomartis Vox smiled serenely, a stable point in the sea of rapidly disintegrating students.

When Black finally finished his opening statement, he looked up to see the entire student body broken into laughter while the adults gazed at him severely. Puzzlement crossed his face and he asked 'What?' which came out as "Crotch?"

Akiko Mori finally looked up, tears streaming her round yellow cheeks, and commented, "Really, Mr. Black, I'm not quite sure I can counter a fine point such as that with my arguments." A peak of laughter from the crowd. "But I am certain there are particular bathhouses that I can direct you to to help you ... ahem ... focus more clearly."

The entire Great Hall dissolved into laughter and McGonagall exploded with fury.

Martis clutched Sev's hand. "Let's get while the gettin's good, Snips."

"Why?"

"Because the Maraudettes are going to hex us in about five seconds."

Indeed, they managed to shut the hall doors behind them just as said doors were blown into glowing rainbow-colored confetti.

----------

Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody was the first Auror to grab the boys known as the Marauders after they had blown up the doors of the Great Hall. Their babbled, incoherent explanations (punctuated by Sirius Black's cries of 'Crotch! Crotch!') for the explosion were sorted out after an hour of Moody threatening them to send them to Azkaban on charges of attempting to assassinate Minister Millicent Bagnold.

After some testing, it was discovered Black was indeed hexed with a particularly advanced curse. Even after a 'Finite Incantatum' had been cast, his speech pattern still had him muttering the word 'crotch' at inopportune times.

"And who put this on you?" Moody finally asked.

"Snivellus and Snake-Crotch."

Potter did not laugh, although Pettigrew snickered. Lupin was holding his head in his hands and looking like he had been worked over by the Friendly Old Grandmother of the Spanish Inquisition.

Albus Dumbledore, whose office they were all in, raised an eyebrow and said nothing.

"Who?" Moody asked in complete irritation, his large blue eye almost visibly pulsing.

"Snape and Vox," Potter supplied. "A couple of Slytherins we prank with."

Moody flushed, his skin becoming white. "Slytherins?"

Pettigrew, seeing an opportunity to suck up, confirmed, "Severus Snape and Britomartis Vox. They get into a lot trouble for stuff like this - "

"Where are they?" Moody demanded of the Headmaster.

Dumbledore coolly adjusted his half-moon glasses, then stroked his bread. "Then it was simply a prank - "

"Albus, there's no point in protecting Slytherins, you know what slugs they are as much as I do." Moody's expression soured even more. "They instigated a riot before the Lady Minister and interrupted an important debate, not to mention the use of Dark Arts within the school." He paused. "Was that Japanese girl involved with it? Bring her in, too."

Dumbledore stood up. "Last I recalled, Alastor, you have no authority in this school."

"While the Lady Minister is here I have EVERY authority in this school."

"This is it," Pettigrew stated quietly to the other boys. "Snivellus and Vox are finally going to get their trip to Azkaban."

"And hopefully," Black groused. "They'll crotch there."

"Stay," Potter interpreted, headsmacking Pettigrew before he could say anything.

Lupin remembered their tour of Azkaban from the previous year ... and the thought of the vivacious Miss Britomartis wasting away on that island hell left him cold. He admitted Sirius deserved what he got after what he did to Rudy Rassendyll, so the prospect of Azkaban for this trespass seemed harsh to Lupin.

Dumbledore stood before Moody, still tall and imposing in his old age. "I will handle their punishment as befits them, Alastor. And if you stopped to think upon it, the 'Sham-Speak Hex' is listed in the charm book 'Saucy Tricks for Tricky Sorts' - usually given as a graduation gift to Seventh-Year students."

Alastor Moody scowled at that none-too-subtle hint. After all, the author of that book had also been named Alastor Moody - the grandfather of the one-eyed Auror. Much as he respected Dumbledore, Moody's paranoia always served him right. Recent work in the Law Enforcement division had him wary of any Slytherins.

"I want you to ensure those two understand the seriousness of what they did, Albus."

The doors to the Headmaster's office opened, admitting the Minister of Magic. "Excuse me, Mr. Moody? Are you sure tormenting students is going to make this any better? I was not harmed, the boys were not aiming for me, get over it."

Moody's eye rolled around in an aggravated manner. "Lady-Minister Bagnold - "

"These are children, Mr. Moody, not ... You-Know-Who." Her eyes shifted around, which alarmed the teenagers. "There's no point in tormenting them."

Moody twitched his lip. "Very well, Lady-Minister - "

"And cut with the 'Lady-Minister' crap," she snapped. "Just 'Minister' or 'Hey, Bitch'."

Potter and Lupin managed to cover their smiles.

The Minister strode across the room and clutched Dumbledore's hands. "Not quite what I expected tonight, Albus, but entertaining nonetheless."

"Purely unintentional, my dear Millicent." Dumbledore squeezed her hands in return. "My apologies, madam."

"Pish-tosh," she answered, releasing his hands. "No harm done on a government scale. I must be off; good night, Professor Dumbledore."

"Good night, Minister Bagnold."

She paused before Sirius Black and gently touched his face. "I haven't laughed like that in ages, Mr. Black. I know you didn't mean it; when you catch the casters, give 'em hell."

"I crotch to," he answered.

"Intend to," Potter quickly translated.

"Come along, Moody," she ordered.

Moody eyed Dumbledore for a second, then followed the Minister of Magic out of the office.

Black smirked. "Well, Dumbledore, going to crotch those two creeps?"

Dumbledore sighed. "That is none of your concern, Mr. Black. Gentlemen, being as this is the last few days of the term, I can hardly give you detention for blowing up the Great Hall doors. However, I will take away forty points and request you to contribute to the funds to purchase new doors."

"What about - ?!" Potter began.

"They will be dealt with, Mr. Potter," Dumbledore answered. "Now, go back to your House and get some rest, gentlemen."

The Marauders left the office. Dumbledore sat down and took out parchment and quill, writing a short note, then gave it to Fawkes.

"Take this to Severus Snape and Britomartis Vox," he instructed the Phoenix. "I believe they will be in the glass-top tower of the main school building."

----------

Sev and Martis were in the Conversation Room, sitting close and sharing their last block of dark chocolate by lantern light.

"Mission successful, co-conspirator," Martis giggled.

"That's the fourth time you've said that," Sev replied, popping a shaving of chocolate in his mouth.

"I'm still amazed it worked. That took a lot out of me - "

"And myself as well."

"I know. That's why I'm feeding you my chocolate stash." She pushed her sunglasses up on her head. "You've got chocolate on your hands."

"It's melting in this heat," Sev retorted, licking the chocolate from his fingers.

She watched his tongue scoop up the chocolate, then turned away and blushed, wondering why the hell she was noticing this sort of thing. Aren't guys the ones who have the oral fixation?

A screechy sound caught their attention and they glanced up toward the crawlhole to see the Headmaster's Phoenix sticking its head into the room.

"Oh, dear," Sev murmured nonchalantly. "We've been found out."

"Well, I don't think they would have let us hide here until school let out." She picked up the scroll Fawkes dropped before them. He twisted his head, watching them as she picked it up and read it aloud:

"Dear Severus and Martis,

Please come to my office as soon as possible.

We need to discuss what happened this evening during the debate.

Albus Dumbledore"

Sev wiped his hands on his robe. "Time to face the music."

Martis nodded. "At least he didn't send a Howler; we may have hope of survival."

Fawkes cocked his head in the opposite direction, then cried again.

"All right, we're coming," Sev replied, crawling over to the entryway.

Martis dropped her sunglasses down over her eyes. "Great, and I haven't even given Snips his Reward Kiss."

"What Reward Kiss?" he asked as he ducked out of the room.

"For avenging my honor," she answered as she followed him out.

"You gave me chocolate - reward enough. Come on."

----------

Albus Dumbledore gazed at his 'children' over his half-moon glasses.

[My 'children', and neither know it. How my heart aches for these two ... and how I walk on eggs every time something like this happens.]

"We've never been pulled on the carpet in front of the Headmaster before," Martis commented quietly.

"Different circumstances," Dumbledore acknowledged. "This one interrupted a school function and escalated into an explosion."

"The Gryffies should know better than that," Martis retorted.

"We are talking about the Maraudiots," Sev reminded her. "They are rather thick."

"Granted."

Dumbledore folded his hands in his lap. "How did this result in casting a Sham-Speak on Sirius Black? What had happened?"

They told him, starting with the wads of paper, the Death Breath Hex, the incident involving Rassendyll, and up to the casting of the Sham-Speak.

"And then you went into hiding?" Dumbledore concluded.

"No, celebrating," Martis corrected him. "After all that expended energy, I had to give Severus the last of my chocolate." Her mouth fell into a straight, neutral line. "After all, he did avenge my honor."

The way Dumbledore's eyebrows raised made Sev rather uncomfortable. He was not sure why. "It seemed the right thing to do. Perhaps not the right response, but the need to have something be done ... "

"Admirable sentiment, Severus," Dumbledore commented. "And quite gentlemanly besides."

Martis grinned, touching Sev's shoulder. "I told you you were a gentleman!"

"However, the action taken was not so gentlemanly."

"It was my idea," Martis lied. "I'm not a gentleman and my definition of 'lady' is a lot different than this culture's."

"Martis, there's no need to cover up for him." Dumbledore motioned them to sit on the books rapidly assembling themselves into chairs. "Please. And it's late enough for a snack - would you both join me?"

"I thought we were in trouble?" Sev ventured as he sat gingerly.

"You are," Dumbledore assured him. "But one can hardly work out a proper punishment when one has a nagging sweet tooth." A House-Elf appeared. "Yes, Nitty, some hot chocolate, lemon poppyseed cake, and baklava."

Martis raised an eyebrow. "Quite civilized to include baklava."

The House-Elf popped out of the room as the Headmaster explained, "Nitty's mother was a Grecian elf and she had spent her early years in a Greek bakery before she was sent here to live with her sire."

"Do House-Elves usually do that?" Martis asked. "Have the father - or sire - raise the children?"

"There are many things not known about the House-Elf culture," Dumbledore answered. "No one has ever done a survey of it because the elves are quiet about such things."

The snacks appeared and Dumbledore helped himself to the lemon poppyseed cake. "No, Martis, I'm afraid I know Severus' touch when I see it. You and he have a very distinct prank-style, but who comes up with what ideas are the crux. This prank - the Sham-Speak Hex - could only have been Severus' idea."

Sev nodded, looking down into his hot chocolate. "But Spirals did inspire the word said - just in a conversation we had about the Marauders."

Martis giggled. "You decided it was the 'word' for him." She inhaled deeply and became serious. "What's the punishment?"

Dumbledore slowly chewed his cake, then swallowed. After a moment, he finally said, "Detention is pointless at this time of year. You'll be leaving in three days." He looked up. "Although the Minister thought the incident was quite humorous, while an Auror wanted to take you two to Azkaban for it."

Sev held his hot chocolate in his hands, unable to drink. "Well, a little harsh, but not surprising. When are we going?"

"I'm not allowing you to be sent to Azkaban." He ate another bite of cake. "Although I am tempted to award house points for being able to pull that spell off. Have to be a Seventh-Year to be able to work that charm due to the very nature of it."

"Yes. That was why it was only one sound instead of a full sentence; I'm not too good at it yet." Sev gazed at the Headmaster through his hair. "You're going to tell our parents?"

"Good luck," Martis snorted. "Mine won't notice."

Sev almost snickered at the thought of his father being proud of him for getting into trouble with the Minions of the Law - then beating him for not actually endangering the Minister of Magic. He immediately sobered.

"It's required of me to do so."

Martis frowned. "Then you better get Snips sent home with me because - " She was cut off when Sev's foot kicked her ankle.

Dumbledore wanted to pursue that thought, but Sev interrupted with, "Very well, sir. And our punishment here since several people - both faculty and students - will want the formality of such a thing?"

"You are not permitted to attend the End-of-Year Feast."

Both students were silent. "Fair enough," Martis finally commented. "We know we lost the House Cup, anyway."

"I'm sorry, children," Dumbledore said quietly.

"Not as bad as it could be," Sev remarked. He finally drank his chocolate.

"Are we really that bad?" Martis asked.

"Not as bad as you could be," Dumbledore answered. He gently placed his fingers under her chin. "In fact, you're my better students and I'm quite proud of you."

Sev rolled his eyes. "After all the garbage we pull, how charming."

"It is only partly for that reason." He turned to Sev. "For the most part, I am proud you both know the difference between right and wrong, and that honor is always avenged with style. Your combined talents have made you both the most formidable duo in Hogwarts' history - nearly on the level of the founders Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin."

Martis managed a polite smile. "I don't know whether to be flattered or worried."

"When you're older, I'll lone you a copy of 'The Letters of Rowena and Salazar'." Dumbledore's smirk caused Martis to catch what he implied.

"Oh, Great Mother!"

"What, Spirals?" Sev asked.

"Nothing." She took a huge bite of baklava, chewed and tasted it, then nodded, swallowing. "Good baklava."

----------

The End-of-Year Feast was a joyous occasion.

For most.

Slytherin sat quietly at their table, chins on fists or noses in the air, their pointed caps perfectly still in contrast to the bobbing black hats of the other houses.

"The party doesn't seem a party without Snips and Spirals," Prefect Evan Ryper commented.

Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black lowered their faces, pretending to ignore the mention of Snape and Vox's nicknames.

Thomas St. Claire, Seeker, sighed. "What would Spirals do to liven up the table?"

"Probably turn the Gryffies' hair purple," Akiko Mori suggested. "But this is more than that - we know we lost the House Cup."

"Yeah, that puts a damper on things," Peony Danderfluff agreed.

Beater Markham Dearling ran into the Great Hall, holding his pointed hat to his head, and settled in at the Slytherin table. "I JUST got back from Johannesburg," he explained. "I had to fly back on a junky Moontrimmer. What'd I miss the last two months?"

Dumbledore rose from his seat and everyone quieted down. He did his end-of-year speech, cautioned everyone to empty their heads thoroughly, then dove into the House Cup spiel as Hufflepuff's gold and purple banners waved over their heads.

"In fourth place, Slytherin House, with thirty-two points."

The teachers applauded politely, although Professor Penderdandis - House Master of Slytherin - scowled.

An uncomfortable, dead silence fell over the students. Slytherins slouched down on their benches and the Marauders tried to keep from giggling as they craned their necks to see the discomfort.

Finally, the silence was broken by Keeper Fearghus Flynn's thick Irish brogue: "But it was a HELL of a party!"

Slytherins agreed with a nervous laugh and a few cheers.

"In third place, Gryffindor House, with two hundred eighty-five points."

Polite applause from the hall in general.

"Second place, Ravenclaw House, with three-hundred sixty-eight points."

More applause.

"And I award the House Cup to first place - Hufflepuff House - at four hundred ninety-seven points."

Hufflepuff - able to keep all their points due to not being part of the Marauders/Snips and Spirals rivalry or relations thereof - cheered and threw their hats in the air. Professor Sprout giggled and clapped her hands while the faculty and other Houses also applauded.

"Wait until next year," Thomas remarked. "We'll get it then."

"Not as long as Martis keeps bugging the Gryffindors," Oriana Crescent muttered. "We MIGHT get the House Cup in four years or so, but I'm not holding my breath."

"Why four years?" Peony asked.

"That's when Snape and the incredibly hot Sirius Black will be gone and there won't be any more prank wars to take points away."

"It's enough we got the Quidditch Cup," Captain Onslow Daizer stated. "And after we get a replacement Beater for the graduating Mr. Dearling, we'll win it again next year." He looked up sharply. "You ARE graduating, aren't you, Dearling?"

Markham nodded. "That's part of the reason it took me two months - I had to stop at Beauxbatons to take my NEWTs. Good as gone." He raised his goblet. "Victory to Slytherin."

The Quidditch team still present grunted in agreement, then raised their goblets and toasted to the success of the Slytherin Quidditch Team for the following year.

----------

The next day was bittersweet, as students bid goodbye to Hogwarts teachers and staff for good or until the following year.

Martis made sure to leave a recipe for lemon soup for the Headmaster, while she gave Nurse Pomfrey a new mop cap, a small clay jug of Tiger Balm for Miss Price, and a book on Hippocampus breeding to Hagrid.

The older students went by carriage around the lake while the First-Years were rowed across, both meeting at the train station in Hogsmeade. They boarded the train and claimed compartments, then the train finally pulled out as students waved to Hagrid.

One compartment held Martis, the twins, and Sev, all four of them arranging an intricate four-way chess game with large chunks of semi-precious stones.

"You want to change into normal clothes yet?" Adonia asked.

"I better," Sev stated as he carefully slid out from under the board.

"I already have," Martis answered as she unbuttoned her robe and slipped it off, revealing one of her turquoise-blue sundresses and a few beaded necklaces with Snake Goddess fetishes. Medusa slithered up from Martis' lap and looped herself around the girl's neck, resting quietly as she watched the pieces of carnelian, rose quartz, hematite, and citrine glitter or shine in the sunlight.

"Hurry up then, Severus," Artemisia ordered. "The game starts in five minutes."

Sev left the compartment and the twins looked across the board to their youngest sister, grinning.

"What?" Martis asked, adjusting her sunglasses.

"All right," Adonia said. "We'll leave the cabin, you untie the sundress and tear a foot or two of material off the bottom. We'll make sure no one sees you two."

"Cut it out," Martis snapped. "You're not funny."

"We're not trying to be funny," Artemisia explained. "We're being serious."

"About what?"

"You giving Severus a tumble!" Adonia cried in exasperation. "Gods! You really are thick!"

"I don't want to tumble him," Martis grunted. "We're not like that."

"Yeah, sure, that's why you set off the Protection Spells three times."

"Those were all accidents."

Artemisia shrugged. "Soon they won't be."

"The world does not revolve about the hoppi-hoppa."

Adonia blinked. "Are you well? We used to have some interesting discussions about this stuff - "

Martis pulled her sunglasses violently from her face. "Things have changed! That damned stupid Nymphadora Arum had messed up my whole mind and I don't want to think about it!"

Artemisia pursed her lips. "I understand you and Snape discovered it."

"Yes. We did. Now shut up about it."

Adonia opened her mouth, but Artemisia shushed her. "That was really the first time you thought about him as other than ... a friend?"

It was alarming how red Martis' face became. She turned her head to the window and slid her sunglasses back on. "'Imagined' is the word you mean, sister. I've ... 'thought' otherwise before, but 'imagining' is a whole hell of a lot different."

"Usually is," Adonia murmured. "It's been three weeks since then and you've been bottling this up?"

"You're the first I've told anything about this to."

"So, you haven't told him?" Artemisia asked.

"What? And have him screaming in terror? 'Hey, Snips, I have these weird ideas about you and me doing naughty stuff - ' He'll run and scream. After what Nasty-issa and Teasey put him through recently, he doesn't need the mentioning of it from me."

"Notice how she's avoiding telling us how she feels about it?" Adonia asked her twin.

"Absolutely." Artemisia leaned across the board. "So, baby sister, how do you feel about these ideas and images of tackling Severus and beating him to the rug? Admittedly, he isn't the best looking of the lot, but he's got a good soul under all the defensive spikes."

Martis continued to gaze at the horizon flying by the window. "I keep him safe. I promised him I'd keep him safe."

The twins pulled back, knowing they had to quit now. Their sister's strange relationship with the Dark Prince of Slytherin (as the Ravenclaw Vox's were starting to call Sev) had so many layers, twists, and unspoken parts that they were not sure whether to regard him as a potential blood-brother or a potential brother-in-law.

Sev opened the door of the compartment and threw his carry-on onto the overhead rack before settling down next to Martis. "Ready. Let's start the game."

The Vox sisters dove into the four-way chess match and Martis began to giggle and talk freely as the hours wore on.

The game was briefly interrupted when Phaedra Vox and Monsoor Patil opened the door of the cabin and leaned in.

"MONSOOR PROPOSED TO ME!" Phaedra practically shouted.

"Proposed what?" Sev asked.

The twins upset the game (all four with hematite, rose quartz, turquoise, and jade stones left on the board and ready to get serious) as they jumped up and tackled Phaedra in hugs and screaming.

Martis hung back with Sev and said, "Marriage."

Sev looked up at Monsoor, his Indian features dark but delicate and the big grin threatening to split his face open. "Confirmed. She's going to make an honest man of me."

Martis grinned. "Congrats, brother-in-law." She got up, managed not to trip over her bear-hugging sisters, and stood on tip-toe to kiss his cheek. "Welcome to the madness."

Monsoor hugged her. "I don't mind. I'll be coming with you guys to Crete for the summer - we're planning on getting married before school starts."

"But you graduated ... " Her eyes bugged. "You aren't waiting until Phaedra's graduated?"

"No. She insisted on it."

Martis nodded. "All right." She poked his shoulder. "You're another Vox man now."

"I know."

Martis sat back down and allowed the twins to tackle Monsoor next (Adonia having to be swatted when she suggested she offer a 'test ride' of the groom, then proclaimed she was not a lesbian now but a bisexual; all the time, Sev buried his nose in a book because he did not understand half of what was going on).

Phaedra settled next to Martis and both sisters hugged. "Really, sis," Martis said. "He's a goody for you."

"I know, baby sister." Phaedra pulled Martis' sunglasses off. "I want you as the Maiden at the ceremony. You did so well at Isaura's wedding."

Martis giggled. "'Always a Maiden, never a Bride'."

"You're still young - you and Severus still have a while to go." Phaedra's smirk made Martis decide not to wallop her. "Monsoor and I are telling everyone we know up and down the train so there will be a huge party going on. You're welcomed to join the graduates' car since you're family."

"No, I'll stay back here. I don't feel much like a party mood."

"That's all right." Phaedra left, dragging Monsoor out of the grips of the twins, who followed them down the walkways to the graduates' car.

Sev lowered the book from his face. "They're marrying because they're in love, right?"

"I think so. Phaedra and Monsoor knew each since her First Year and I understand my parents are friends with his." Martis picked up the semi-precious stones and put them in Artemisia's yellow velvet stone-bag. "It was probably an arranged marriage, but they love each other anyway. That part's obvious."

"I don't like arranged marriages. My parents had one."

"I don't blame you - I told you one of my brothers got a bad one and he disappeared into Australia after they divorced." She placed the bag into Artemisia's satchel and settled in the seat across from him, sweeping her hair over her shoulder and allowing Medusa to coil herself onto the seat next to her. "If I ever marry, it'll be for love."

"How can you be certain that you won't be forced into an arranged marriage?" Sev closed the book and brushed a strand of hair back over his ear.

"Please, Snips. My parents don't notice me - therefor, I am immune to such a thing."

"Or they'll use one to get rid of you permanently."

She shoved the sunglasses back on and brought her knees up to her chin, wrapping her arms around her skirted legs. "That's the worst thing you ever said to me."

"My apologies for being blunt."

"It's true, you know," she said quietly. "They'll marry me off to somebody in America or some other goddess-forsaken wilderness so they won't have to bother with my presence anymore. I've already started my Cycles - I could be used for nothing more than a brood mare."

"You've gotten more and more depressed since we left Hogwarts."

"Little wonder. We'll be separated for the summer again. You'll be going back to your monster-father ... Come with me to Crete."

"I still can't."

"When can you?" She released her legs and slipped down to the floor of the compartment, her arms wrapping around his leg and her forehead resting on his knee. "I don't want to be alone again. I want you with me. I want you to hike the Samaria Gorge or climb Mount Ida with me."

Sev leaned forward and stroked her hair. "You make very tempting offers."

"And I mean them." She slid the sunglasses off and gazed up at him. "Don't go home to your father - come home with me."

"Nothing's changed since last year."

"Then I'll go with you. We'll hide from your father in the apple orchard. I'll encase him in volcanic ash. I'll hide under your blankets and when he comes in, I'll turn him into a puddle of water." She clutched Sev's leg and pressed her cheek against his knee. "I won't let you be hurt."

He bent forward and hugged her shoulders. "It's all right, Spirals. I can't really feel it anymore."

Martis held onto his arm. "You shouldn't have to say that to begin with."

"We can't do anything about it now," Sev reminded her. "Besides, what would your sisters say if they found me sleeping in the parlor or whatever it's called there?"

She kissed the hand near her ear. "You wouldn't be in the parlor, you'd be in my room. In my bed. Next to me."

Sev felt his stomach clench and he was not sure why. That was one of his most secret wants in the middle of the night when he awoke out of a nightmare; to be able to run to Martis and crawl into her bed and just be held as she pushed the monsters away. He wanted nothing more than that and she willingly offered it in the safest place he knew.

Both sat quietly, her on the floor, him on the bench, his arms around her, her cheek on his knee, and her hair encompassing both. It was ... comfortable ... and felt safe.

Neither had any idea when she raised her face and he lowered his, but the immediate awareness of looking into other's eyes suddenly became their whole world ... Sev drowning in the comfort and unconditional love in her moss green eyes ... and Martis falling into the darkness of his beautiful liquid black eyes.

It felt right this time; the Moment demanded it.

The abrupt sound of the compartment door opening brought them back to the reality of the Hogwarts Express ... and the leering faces of Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew peering in on them.

"Aww," Black cooed. "Did we interrupt a romantic moment?"

"Watch out for all the grease," Pettigrew giggled.

"Go away," Martis said flatly.

"No, we just thought we'd join you two for a little laugh over old times." Black's face fell into a sneer. "Of course, we could always throw hexes at each other."

Sev and Martis' wands were already out just as Black and Pettigrew reached for theirs.

"Fastest draws in the school," Sev warned them. "And there is no Gryffindor Headmaster to save your asses. Get out before it gets ugly."

"You already are ugly, Snivellus," Pettigrew squeaked.

Black pulled his hand away from his wand. "He's right." He snatched a box of popcorn from the twins' seat and tossed his jaw-length hair back from his face. "Have a nice summer - and I hope your dad gives you a face job before you get back."

Black and Pettigrew barked and squeaked in laughter as they left the compartment. Sev twirled his wand around and the iridescent bolt of magic zapped the box of popcorn.

When the door slid shut, Martis looked up at him. He returned the gaze.

"He calls me ugly, he gets to look silly."

"What did you do, Snips?"

"Recall your neverending jar of peanut butter."

Martis giggled, covering her mouth. "Neverending Prank, Part Deux: Revenge of the Popcorn."

----------

The rest of the train trip back was spent in sharing Chocolate Frogs and cuddling quietly. Martis would softly sing a Cretan ballad or Sev would recite a poem he had learned from his Muggle literature studies, their only breaks in the silence between them.

The Moment had passed, and there was no way of reclaiming it right now.

As they near the Wiltshire area, Martis sat up and leaned her face close to his. "Promise me you'll come back next year. Promise me you won't die of despair."

"Promise me you'll come back next year," he answered. "Promise me you'll write every day."

"Yes."

"Yes. Please write me every day. It's all I have to keep me hoping."

"I will. Promise me we'll meet in Diagon Alley again?"

"The first Saturday of August."

"The train's slowing."

"I know. Another mile."

Martis wrapped her arms around Sev's neck. "I'm not going to let you go."

"You sound ridiculous," he chided her, squeezing her closer.

"I have an excuse." She pulled back and dug into the pocket of her sundress. She pressed her fist into his hand. "Here."

Sev opened his hand and found a chunk of smoky quartz wrapped in silver wire and hanging from a chain. "Spirals ... "

"Long enough to tuck into your tunic so no one has to see it. It absorbs negative energy - you can throw all the negative energy you want into it, including anger, sadness, and depression."

He hugged her close again, then leaned back and pulled something out of his own pocket and deposited it into her hand. She gazed at the snake pendant, its body frozen in the ripple of movement, the loop located on the underside of the snakehead. Upon closer inspection, the eyes could be seen to glitter with obsidian chips. "It's gorgeous, Snips."

"Slytherin House, Medusa, and your culture," he added softly.

The brakes of the train began to squeal.

"Too soon," she moaned, leaning into him again and burying her face in his neck.

"Be strong for me," he whispered, holding her close and hugging her.

Martis picked her head up and gazed into his eyes, her lips twitching. "I ... want to ... "

Sev inhaled sharply, knowing exactly what she meant. "I can't, either ... "

As the train came to a complete stop, Martis raised two fingers to her lips, kissed them, then pressed her fingers to Sev's lips. "Promise."

"Always," he breathed against her fingertips.

They could not move for a whole moment as they gazed into the other's eyes and her fingers touched his lips.

Finally, she pulled her fingers away. "You have to ... "

"Yes, I know."

He quickly got his carry-on and draped the necklace over his head as he left the compartment, Martis following him down the walkway and to the car's exit. He descended the steps, then turned and looked back up at her as she stood at the top of the steps.

"Be right there when the train comes this way again."

"I will." She gripped the handrails as the train jerked forward, leaving the station.

As Sev shrank in the distance, Martis slowly made her way back to her compartment and closed the door. Looking around at the used Chocolate Frog wrappers and feeling the snake pendant still in her hand, she murmured, "I should have kissed him."

After a moment, she composed herself enough to slip her sunglasses back on and head out to the graduates' car. Passing by the Marauders' usual compartment, she noted the group pressed against the windows of their cabin, surrounded and buried in popcorn.

"Oh, Pettigrew, you fell for it again?" she sighed. "I suppose there's a trail of popcorn following the train since we leave the windows open, hm? There's going to be a serious pigeon problem for a few months."

Black's hand - visible against the window - managed a Two-Finger Salute at her as she wandered off to join her sister's engagement party.

-End-