DISCLAIMER: This is based on a similar circumstance I had when I came back from summer break and had 'grown'. Less magic was involved, though. Boys will be boys - but that doesn't mean they should be allowed to be stupid about it. Even if they were eleven.

Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"New Developments"

Text by Lady Tesser

Dear Snips,

I almost hate my family.

Phaedra finally decided on a date for the wedding - and it happens to be the first Saturday of August. Well, she didn't decide ... everyone decided for her. It would have been inconvenient for everyone else (especially the groom's parents) if it were any other time.

That was going to be OUR day! Meet back in Diagon Alley and go school shopping and everything! Especially 'everything': we have weeks of hugging to catch up on.

Phaedra really wanted to be married just before school started so she could have her honeymoon in a warm sunny place for the winter, but our so-called parents overruled that she can't interrupt her last year of school. Then Monsoor's parents came in and insisted that they will have that weekend free and none other. Spit on them and dance on their faces.

I can't escape, either; I'm the Maiden in the ceremony and I already promised Phaedra I would be. The twins offered to take my place, but Kyros said he doesn't remember when they were Maidens and then that lead into a sibling dogpile.

Damn. Maybe if I told them you and I really did do naughty things and I'm not a Maiden any more...

Never mind.

Still, this stinks on ice. I need my dose of Snips! If I'm like this when we're separated for the summer, I have no idea what I'll be like when you graduate and I'm left at the school for another two years. Maybe by then you'll be able to come to Crete with me.

Regarding your last letter: no wonder you're the greatest potions student in the school. You get personal instruction from Sartoris. I hope you don't take offense, but he feels ... weird. When I felt him, he did not feel right, and I have no way to explain what I felt. Maybe you can help me in figuring it out.

I don't like how your father is still treating you. You're malnourished as it is - and it's because it was his fault - and cutting down food is premeditated murder. Thank the Great Mother those House Elves are more humane than your bastard father. I'll throttle the monster, I will, watch me! I don't care what sort of power he carries!

So now there's two months until we meet again on the train - and I hope you'll be alive and well and whole, or I'm going to send a Howler with a battleaxe after your father.

My stomach is all knotted. I need to go practice Quidditch to get rid of this energy.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the package I'm sending with this.

My love and lots of hugs,

Spirals

Dear Spirals,

It would not have mattered anyway. My father decided to take me to Diagon Alley for my supplies the morning my letters arrived so he could get my things 'out of the way'.

I could only afford books, parchment, and quills. At least I know Professor Sartoris will provide my potions equipment for the year - which Da thinks is the only thing I really need. Because we had destroyed my other robe, he thinks the robe that replaced it is enough for this year - so another year without new robes. He did not mention anything about my under-uniform, which is now too short in the legs and arms. Again. Nice, hm?

Be careful when you visit Diagon Alley - there's been a Muggler problem. From what I understand, a group of young wizards is running around and randomly changing people's robes into Muggle clothes. Quite hideous - bright, ugly patterns, wide-legged trousers - Muggle fashion is horrifying. Anyway, one of them got Da; he got zapped with a 'polyester leisure suit' in Fwooper green and lots of fake gold neck chains and his balding head was combed over. If he weren't so furious, I would have laughed my head off. The keeper of the Leaky Cauldron commented 'A shame that a man can't go down the street without getting Muggled.'

Fair warning, my friend.

The package is greatly appreciated by both Mother and myself. Despite what you say, the goat 'jerky' was great, and the bread did indeed soak up all the olive oil. The olives were delicious, as were the loukanika sausages. The baklava traveled well and Mother wishes to compliment you on them. She needed the sugar - she has a problem with not being able to keep her blood sugar correct.

Yes, not only am I being starved, so's Mother. I think Da also isn't eating, but I suspect he really eats babies. Or kittens. Live ones with tartar sauce.

Any advice on hunting rabbits? I need something.

Tell me how the wedding went. I remember what you wrote about Isaura's last year, and Phaedra's should be even more interesting.

Is that Dion guy bothering you? If I ever make it to Crete, I promise to turn HIS head into a cabbage if he insults you.

Can't wait for September 1st.

Always,

Snips

Britomartis Vox, aged thirteen, knew better. This time.

She was prepared to take care of her Sev the moment he got on the train. There was no way he was going to be in pain while she was around.

"Ready to go?" Adonia, soon-to-be Fifth-Year, asked.

The twins and Martis glanced at Phaedra and Monsoor Patil, freshly back from their honeymoon in Italy and still trying to suck each other's face off.

"I am," Martis finally answered as she patted her satchel.

"Then let's go," Artemisia announced.

The youngest Vox sisters began climbing the gangplank to the submersible ship when a voice caught their attention.

"Martis! Martis!"

The youngest sister turned around, her foot on the plank, to see Dion Atola running up to them. "What?"

The sixteen-year-old bull-leaper stopped short, shuffled a bit, then said, "I just wanted to say good-bye."

"Good-bye, Dion," Martis replied. "Try not to be a pain-in-the-ass while I'm gone."

He grinned. "I'll only be a pain-in-the-ass with you around."

"Good."

Dion quickly clutched Martis' shoulders and planted a firm kiss on her mouth, then ran back toward the beaches to join the fishermen.

Martis stood in shock, completely not expecting the kiss. She had been kissed once (by Lucius Malfoy), but unlike before, she was not repulsed or frightened. Dion's intentions were completely different; while Lucius was merely trying to manipulate her, Dion ... really meant his kiss.

"So?" Adonia prodded, grinning like a maniac. "How'd he kiss?"

"Compared to Lucy Malfoy? Like a God."

"Compared to Severus."

"Snips and I never kissed," she retorted as she continued up the gangplank and onto the deck.

"Oh, come on!" Adonia cried. "Are you serious? I was quite sure SOMETHING happened."

"No, it didn't."

"All right. You know Dion's crazy-mad for you."

"He's a brat." Martis watched Phaedra and Monsoor climb up to the ship and walk toward the bow, their arms around the other's body and staring into the other's eyes, smiling dreamily. "Do those two have to do that so early in the morning? I'm getting indigestion watching it."

"It's harmless," Artemisia said as she joined them. She brushed back her own blonde hair as the sea breezes whipped it around her face. "Besides, it's pure fluke their arranged marriage was also a love-match."

"That's because they've been sticking their tongues down each other's throats since they were twelve," Adonia commented. "Although I wonder if Flitwick and Sinistra will have a problem when she visits Monsoor in Hogsmeade on the weekends?"

"Or every evening," Artemisia reminded her.

"Arranged marriages stink on ice," Martis declared.

"Too right," Adonia agreed. "Besides, I don't think Mother and Father will approve of the Dark Prince of Slytherin, anyway. Good enough reason."

Martis shot her sister a dirty look. "Like their opinions ever mattered to me."

"Subject change," Artemisia stated. "How many House points are baby sister and Severus going to get the Gryffindors to lose?"

The Farewell Beating was not so bad this year. A bunch of bruises on the sides of his head, plus the fractured ribs. Compared to last year, this was pretty good. At least he was not unconscious or stuttering.

Unfortunately, the bastard also put a series of curses on his digestive system again and he really had not been able to eat within the past two days.

He was starved - for food, safety, and affection, and he knew all three were only hours away. He really could not wait.

A chill ran up Sev's spine. Something happened somewhere. What time was it on Crete? Was she leaving already?

Ignore it. Back to packing. Pray that Da either sleeps through the morning or goes off to do gods' know what without bothering him.

Remus Lupin had educated himself that summer. His education had been at the hands of one Tamathy Gwinnett, a neighbor girl who was very patient and understanding about his shyness. He knew he would bless her the rest of his days for the basics she taught him.

But he did receive a few points, just enough to get him on his way on his wooing of Miss Britomartis for the first year. How he was going to go about it while there was a war going on between his group and hers, he was not sure. Perhaps point out the fact he was now a Prefect?

He wandered up and down the walkway of the Hogwarts Express, avoiding being run over by students finding their compartments and friends.

Lupin had not seen the Vox's arrive, but he knew they were going to be on board. He continued onward through the back of the train, discreetly glancing into compartments.

Inside one were the twins. They were braiding each other's hair and chattering about something. No sign of Miss Britomartis.

The train whistle blew and the train lurched forward. Lupin gripped the handrails along the ceiling to steady himself as he walked back to the compartment he shared with the Marauders.

No lovely darling blonde exotic temptress -

And then she stepped out of a compartment.

Lupin stopped dead still, staring at her. She was still in a blue sundress, showing off dark legs and shoulders and arms, the snake draped around her neck, the sunglasses over her eyes, and her incredibly long ash-blonde hair falling down her back and to her knees. How she usually looked on the train the first day back.

But something was DEFINITELY different than usual.

[My God, I want to smother in those!]

She had Matured. Much taller, rounder, softer - to heck with euphemisms, it looked like she had shoved a pair of cantaloupe halves down her dress front! And a stray breeze from the train's drafts blew her scent toward him - Lupin's heart almost stopped; her scent had INCREASED in range and striking power! He groaned under his breath, wanting to hunch over and make a run for it before she noticed anything.

She paused and gazed back at him. "Remus Lupin. We meet again."

"Miss Bres - Britomartis!" he choked. "You - you -!" He wanted to fall through the floor. "Um. Hi."

"Hi," Martis answered, her lips in a thin line. "My face is up here."

Lupin blushed, snapping his eyes up to her sunglasses. "Sorry -!" He uncomfortably rearranged his school robe over his under-uniform. Inhaling deeply to calm himself, he finally blurted, "I'm a Prefect now."

Martis nodded slowly. "I knew something was wrong with the world, but I didn't think it was that serious. Go back to your buddies before you hurt yourself, Prefect Lupin." She pressed forward and pushed him aside, slipping around him, her sunglasses locked to his blue eyes.

There she was, right before him - smelling of olive oil and spicy perfume and Very Intense Girl, her golden skin warm and delicious-looking, and those impressive breasts pressed against his chest - and his brain shut down. He could feel the werewolf part (a quiet, instinctive feeling in the back of his brain when he was still human) wanting to push her to the floor right there and rip her dress off, but the human part (much stronger since he was human at the moment) overpowered him with fear.

Then she was gone, and he was alone in the walkway.

Finally able to get his legs working, he painfully made his way back to the Marauders' compartment and snapped the door open.

"Vox!" he gasped.

"What about Snake-Bitch?" Sirius Black - his hair almost touching his shoulders - asked.

"Vox!" Lupin repeated. His hands began waving around. "Tall - bigger -!" He placed his hands out from his chest at a distance. "I mean - WOOF!"

The Marauders stared at him, then scrambled over each other to leave the compartment.

"Woo!" Peter Pettigrew cried.

"Lemme see!" James Potter added.

The Marauders crowded down the walkway and rammed into the Vox's compartment, managing to push the door aside.

The three youngest sisters looked up, gazing in boredom at them. It was obvious the boys' eyes were resting on Martis' chest. Adonia and Artemisia glanced out the corners of their eyes to each other ... time to teach hormonal little boys a lesson. (After all, Severus was the only one they were going to allow to ogle their sister.)

"May we help you?" Adonia asked.

"Whoa," Potter and Black commented.

Pettigrew shrieked a giggle. "My God - Spitballs has TITS! Enormous TITS!"

All three Vox wands whipped out and they enchanted as one, "DENSAUGEO!"

"Lookit the SIZE of those - AKKKK!!" Pettigrew choked as his teeth began growing out of his mouth with a loud creaking sound.

The Vox girls pointed and laughed: "Lookit the size of THOSE!"

Potter and Black grabbed Pettigrew, and Lupin yelled "SORRY!" as the Marauders beat a hasty retreat.

The girls settled on their benches and looked at each other, then giggled.

"If you cause that reaction in the Maraudettes," Adonia stated. "Think of how Snape will react."

Artemisia smirked. "He'll be a perfect gentleman while he stares at your cleavage."

Martis settled back in her seat. "He'll be in no mood for silly teenage antics after spending the summer with his father."

"You're right," Artemisia agreed. "Shall we leave you guys alone so it'll be quiet?"

"I don't know yet."

Sev inhaled deeply, and then regretted it. Nurse Pomfrey was going to have to look at his ribs.

The Hogwarts Express pulled up into the station, steaming and squealing as it stopped.

There she was, like she promised, standing at the top of the stair of the car and gazing down at him.

"Any parts of you missing?" she asked.

Sev managed a smile. "Not now." He carefully climbed up the stairs and fell into her arms, the teenagers hugging each other.

"Missed you," Martis murmured against his ear.

"Missed you," he replied as he kissed her hair.

She pulled away, gently touching his face and hair. "Great Mother, Snips, even your hair's bruised." She brushed his hair back from his face. "I have something for you so you can relax before we get to school."

"If it's anything other than tea or food, I'm not up to it." He allowed her to guide him back to the compartment that was empty of twins. Within minutes, he was fed olives, bread, sheep cheese, and watermelon, and all was washed down with a jug of herb tea.

"Feel better?" Martis asked as she sat across from him after his meal.

Sev leaned back on the bench seat, looping hair behind his ears. He softly hiccupped in reply, then blushed and muttered, "Excuse me."

"Good answer," she giggled. "The tea has some tranquil herbs in it to lessen the pain and allow you to rest."

"I do welcome it." Sev slit his eyes and carefully lay down on the seat, using his robe as a pillow. "You're good for my soul, Spirals."

"You're good for mine."

He sat up, holding his chest. "Come over here."

Martis got up and sat next to him, and he cuddled against her, drawing his arms around her waist and laying his head on her chest.

"Why, Snips. Taking advantage of me?"

"Blatantly," he admitted, closing his eyes. "You feel soft. Night."

"Night, Severus," she answered softly, stroking his hair. "I'll take care of you now."

It was dark outside the train windows when Sev came back to consciousness.

He became acutely aware of the softness of what his head was laying on, and after a moment of figuring out that his arms were still around Martis and that she was still holding him, he came to the realization that his head was on her chest.

He knew what that felt like - last year. She had often held his head against her chest to comfort him. But now that same chest was much-much-much softer and seemed to have a larger surface against his cheek.

She grew.

How did he not notice this earlier?? Was he so tunnel-visioned about getting away from his father and getting hugs and sustenance that he did not even notice the appearance of his best friend?

He was not blind to his feelings, either ... the thought that he was so close to something distinctively female caused butterflies in his stomach. There was no denying he noticed girls as Girls - especially with THOSE things.

And his Martis now had overstock on them.

Sev mentally slapped himself. [Spirals! NOT some girl! Best friend! Soul SISTER!]

And even if he did think of being ungentlemanly, he was in no condition to do anything about it. His cracked ribs burned like a hot knife.

He opened his eyes, looking over the horizon of her sundress-covered breast and across the compartment to the twins who were both in their school robes and reading their textbooks. Dark outside; they were getting close to Hogwarts.

Sev sat up, rubbing his eyes.

"Sleep well?" Martis asked.

"I'm sorry I wasn't much company," he answered. "But it was a good nap."

She nodded, slipping the sunglasses up. "Good. Think you can wait to visit Pomfrey until after the feast? Or should we drop you off there as soon as we get in?"

"I can manage. I'm getting my appetite back."

Adonia piped up, "That's most important of all. A real sign of health is if you want to eat."

"And what of not being able to eat?" he asked.

"Then you do things to the person who caused it involving their intestines and throats." Adonia shut her book. "We'll be arriving in five minutes, you both better get into your uniforms."

Martis and Sev grabbed their carry-ons and left the compartment. Artemisia looked up from her potions book. "He passed."

Adonia nodded. "Gentleman all the way about it." She smirked. "Something of a turn-on, actually."

"Forget it. From the way he was breathing I think he has a broken rib that hasn't been properly set. He really isn't in the mood."

Adonia raspberried her. "I know that!" She leaned back on the seat and folded her arms. "You know, if baby sister lets him go when he graduates, she's going to regret it the rest of her life."

Artemisia went back to her reading. "And if Severus lets her go when he graduates, he'll regret it for eternity."

The Slytherins crowded to their table in the Great Hall and sat down, adjusting their pointed caps and making faces at the rest of the students. The Quidditch team greeted each other with loud 'HOO-WHA!'s while the Ladies of Slytherin bowed down to the returning Narcissa Black, now nicknamed 'The Black Widow'.

"Look at 'em!" Chaser Jonas Kennebunk cried loudly. "The Beater's got 'em the size of Quaffles!"

The rest of the team (minus the Captain) began walloping him as Martis called back, "They aren't THAT big!"

Captain Onslow Daizer raised an eyebrow as he gazed down the table at her, and then asked, "I have nothing to say on the subject itself, but my only concern is if you'll be able to play Quidditch with those things upsetting your balance."

Martis pursed her lips. "My Captain, I've been practicing all summer while they grew; I'll be able to play."

"Good. Carry on."

"Any other comments?" Martis muttered.

Sev shook his head. "Really, Spirals, there's a marked difference from last year."

"True - I grew one-and-a-half cup sizes. But still, they're not that big."

Evan Ryper - Seventh-Year and Head Boy (the first Slytherin in more than thirty years) - looked across the table at her and rolled his eyes. "Oh, great, now we're going to be going through a whole bunch of breast jokes for the next month. I won't be able to control the crowd, guys."

"I didn't ask to have these!" Martis snapped, tapping one. "They just grew that way! Besides, they match the hips better."

"Nobody will notice while you're wearing your robe, Spirals," Sev pointed out.

"But I can't wear this thing all the time." She narrowed her eyes at him. "Go on and say something. Everyone else will."

"Say what?"

"Whatever you want about these things. Let's get it out of the way now. Come on."

Sev glanced down at the subject in question, then looked back up and stated, "They're very soft to lie upon."

Her mouth dropped open, as did everyone else's along the table.

Martis was surprised at his response, but felt warmth for him for being so sweet about it.

Sev looked around, realizing that everyone took what he said the wrong way; he opened his mouth to explain, then stopped, knowing that explaining would only make it worse.

Sev lowered his head. Next to him, his roommate Thomas St. Claire leered. "Of course you'll give all of us the nasty, biological details later."

"Of course," Sev muttered, feeling the blush threaten to burn up his entire body. "Not."

As Thomas smirked, Sev was surprised to feel Martis poking his shoulder and saying, "Bother."

"What?" he asked, looking up at her.

"Get over it, Snips. The guys are saluting you. You're supposed to be strutting around and proclaiming your masculinity under these circumstances."

Sev looked around the table in puzzlement (the Woot brothers smacking their hands to their foreheads in a florid and elaborate Muggle military salute), and then glanced back at the grinning Martis.

Finally, he poked her shoulder. "Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

Professor McGonagall entered the room, followed by all the First-Year students. They nervously looked around as they walked between the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables, and then ascended the dais to the stool where the Sorting Hat sat.

Headmaster Dumbledore made his Start-of-Term speeches (reinstating that the Forbidden Forest was still restricted, among other things, as well as the fact that Miss Phaedra Vox - Seventh-Year Ravenclaw - was the first married student within twenty years since her eldest sister Xenia had spent her Seventh-Year pregnant at the school), and then announced the Sorting Ceremony.

After the Sorting Hat Song (a particularly ominous one, asking the students to 'hang together in the Dark Times'), the students politely remained quiet as McGonagall unrolled the scroll and called out names. As students were sorted, cheers arose from the Houses they were sorted into.

Slytherin's pickings were rather thin, indeed. Three students called near halfway through, then a figure most of the older students recognized appeared.

"Fallon O'Shanahan ... "

Slytherin sat up, alert, seeing the nearly identical long red hair pulled up into twin-braids, their owner a pale, freckled girl with blue eyes and a developing Rubenesque body.

"O'Shanahan!" a few whispered. "She has a sister!"

The year before last, Bridget "Kells" O'Shanahan dropped out after a nervous breakdown involving an attempted suicide relating to her alcoholism. She was a Fourth-Year then and had already chosen the path of her life; she went back home to Ireland and was never heard from since.

This young lady - eleven-years-old, alert, already rivaling the older girls in size and breadth, and regarding every person in the room with suspicion - sat on the stool and allowed the Sorting Hat to be placed on her head.

After a few seconds of internal conversation with the girl, the Sorting Hat called out "SLYTHERIN!"

The Slytherins cheered and Fallon O'Shanahan made her way to the Slytherin tables, sitting on Martis' other side from Sev.

Fallon's blue eyes regarded her new House, then they rolled and she muttered, "I thought I WASN'T trying to follow in big sister's footsteps."

Martis chuckled. "A 'thirst to prove yourself', eh? Well, don't worry. Bridget was all right when she was sober - rather fun."

"And you are?"

"Martis Vox, one of her roommates."

Fallon nodded. "Thanks for doing what you could - she kept ranting about you taking her poteen away and messing up her niche in the school."

"Her 'niche' was inadvertently supplying that stuff to the other students. Somebody found the last bottle in time for the Notorious Quidditch Cup Party."

"It doesn't help Papa's a distiller." Fallon grinned. "I'm the freak in the family - I'm allergic to fermented vegetable matter."

"And therefore you do not consume alcohol?" Martis ventured.

"Right." She continued grinning. "How tragic."

"Indeed." Martis smirked. "No hard feelings then?"

"None. You have my gratitude for what you could do."

"How is Bridget?"

"Chasing after some Muggle named Finnegan. Waiting until he divorces his wife, which isn't going to be too soon. Still drinking that crap Papa makes."

"So it's a family operation. Poor Bridget - screwed from the beginning."

Fallon's square jaw line set. "I refuse to let it ruin mine."

"Good girl."

The Sorting Ceremony ended with Slytherin gaining only five students. McGonagall seated herself and tapped her glass, quieting the students down.

Dumbledore stood and said, "And now, a few words - zik, zak, zork, and wallaby. Let the feast begin."

The food appeared and students began to eat. Several of the Seventh-Year girls got up and surrounded Phaedra, congratulating her on her marriage to Monsoor, and Phaedra showed off photographs of the wedding to whoever wanted (or not) to see.

Fallon turned back to Martis. "So, who's all at the head table? I know the Headmaster and McGonagall."

Martis raised her fork and pointed to each teacher in turn: "Professor Sinistra - Astronomy. Madame von Gruppen - Divinations - watch out, she's a lush."

"Great," Fallon commented sarcastically.

"Professor Penderdandis - Slytherin House Master and Arithmancy. Professor Sprout - Hufflepuff House Mistress and Herbology. Madame Hooch - Flying and General Athletics. Professor Sartoris - Potions Master. Professor Kettleburn - Care of Magical Creatures - rather fun, actually. Professor Flitwick - Ravenclaw House Master and Charms - very cool. Madame Grubbly-Plank - Runes. Professor Azaki - Magical World. Professor McElwain - Defense Against the Dark Arts. The rest of the teachers take meals in their rooms or offices, like Madame Pince the librarian and Nurse Pomfrey - "

"You haven't heard?" Evan asked. "Pomfrey got married this summer."

"She did??" Martis exclaimed. "To whom??"

"One of the healers in Hogsmeade. But she's not changing her name, just her title - she's 'Madame' Pomfrey now."

"Have to congratulate her then." Martis continued, "And Professor Binns the History teacher is a ghost, so he doesn't eat."

"A ghost teacher?" Fallon asked. "Wicked."

"No - boring. If he weren't dead, somebody would have killed him already, just to shut up the droning." She turned and glanced at her best friend. "Snips? Are you all right?"

Sev had been clutching his side. "I think I need to see Madame Pomfrey now."

"All right." She slipped out of the table and gently helped Sev up.

Fallon's eyes widened. "What's wrong?"

"Severus isn't feeling well. I'll see you later on at the dorm."

Madame Poppy Pomfrey allowed her fury to show after she put Sev to bed in the infirmary, told Martis to go back to the dorms, and the door to her office was tightly shut.

She threw Floo Powder into the fireplace. "Albus! I know you're in your office by now!"

The Headmaster's face appeared in the green fire. "Yes, Poppy?"

"It's that Snape boy - he came back damaged again!" Then she used very unladylike language concerning how she was going to punish the boy's father.

Dumbledore allowed her to run the gamut of her rant before he said anything. "I'll speak with Lord Snape, Poppy."

"No - I'll speak with him!" she stated. "And I'll warrant he won't be in much shape to hurt that boy again after I'm through with him!"

"No, Poppy. He will find his way here and take Severus away for good. Hogwarts is the only safe place Severus has in this world."

She nearly spat. "Safe? With those boys from Gryffindor trying to either murder or blind or maim him? I don't care about teenage politics - children are children and they should be protected no matter who they are!"

"Including those boys from Gryffindor?"

Pomfrey felt her temper flare into a dangerous zone; she herself was not-too-kind when the Marauders came into her infirmary after they did such things as trying to murder the Vox girl or burning themselves with the lye powder. It was obvious she was a protector of the weak and the outcast, not the bullies.

"Albus, do something."

"I will, Poppy. I will."

Martis entered the Slytherin common room to see a group of Third-Year boys (part of her class) grinning at her.

"What?" she snapped.

In unison, they announced: "We love you, Miss Spirals."

She wrinkled her nose. "Okay, what is it?" She looked up at the vaulted dungeon ceiling. "A trap? A monster? A dungbomb? Where is it?"

They nudged each other to go forward, one bowing out after another, then finally one of them stepped forward and said, "We request that you open your robe so we can see - "

Martis casually tossed Medusa at him, who immediately wrapped around his neck and hissed in his face.

"AYIEEEE!" he screamed, falling to the floor.

"Eep!" the rest of the shrieked.

Martis placed her foot on his chest and pointed her wand at the spokesman's crotch. "By example, this is what will happen if there are any more references to my breasts."

Lucius Malfoy - Sixth-Year - chose that exact moment to stride into the common room. He briefly gazed at her, then walked over and pulled her robe open, studying her sweater. "My Gods, it's true! They're huge!"

The rest of the students screamed in horror as Martis proceeded to hex Lucius for the next fifteen minutes. Lucius would have screamed or ran, but he ceased to have a mouth or legs early in the hexing.

Finally, satisfied with working the aggression out, Martis went up to her dorm room to find Oriana Crescent, Peony Danderfluff, Akiko Mori, and Fallon O'Shanahan already getting ready for bed.

"Anybody want these things?" she groused. "They're nothing but trouble around HERE."

Akiko snarled. "Shut up."

"Feeling inadequate, Aki?" Oriana asked. "Not that I blame you."

"Heh," Fallon giggled. "My family has to do it the old-fashioned way - gain weight everywhere else." She became serious. "How's your friend?"

"Two broken ribs," Martis answered. "Not to mention various bruises."

"From what?"

Martis looked up, seeing concern on her square face. "His bastard father. The Snapes are one of those old Pureblood families, so his father is a nut job."

"Prime one," Oriana agreed. "But the same is said of Severus, too."

Martis snorted. "Snips is more of a gentleman than these so-called males around here. At least he doesn't act like a drooling bag of testosterone every time a girl is acknowledged as a Girl."

"Like the Quidditch team?" Akiko asked.

"They're getting better. I'm training them to be gentlemen - except Kennebunk, he's a bit thick in that regard."

"Hey," Peony said as she sat up. "This name book is fascinating! Ori, your name 'Oriana' is Italian, and it's taken from the Spanish wore 'oro' meaning 'gold'."

"Mum named me after one of her favorite medieval characters, actually," Oriana answered. "I don't think she knew what it meant."

"What about me?" Akiko asked. "What does the gaijin name book say?"

"Gaijin?" Fallon repeated.

"Means 'foreigner'," Martis answered as she plopped onto her bed. "Specifically 'non-Japanese'. Your Japanese will improve with Aki around."

Peony flipped to the front of the book. "'Akiko - Japanese - "Aki" meaning "autumn" and "ko" meaning "child".'"

"Quite literal," Akiko agreed. "Simply translates as 'the autumn child'."

Peony nodded. "Mine is also literal - 'peony flower'. Also says the flower was believed to have healing qualities."

"And mine?" Fallon ventured.

Peony flipped through. "'Fallon - Irish-Gaelic - grandchild of the ruler'."

"King of Distilling, I suspect," Fallon muttered. "What about Martis?"

"Britomartis ... " Peony flipped around the book again. "Um. Not here."

"Britomartis," Martis said. "Means 'sweet maiden'. She was a Cretan nymph who was made Goddess of the Mountains - "

The rest of the girls fell into spasms of giggles. "Quite ironic!" Oriana snickered.

Martis rolled her eyes, then chuckled, leaning back on the bed and thrusting her chest up. "Yes, indeed, I AM the Goddess of the Mountains!"

"Dare you to do that around Severus!" Peony howled in laughter.

"Give him heart failure!" Akiko sniggered.

Fallon nearly fell off her bed in laughter. "Not quite mountains! I do believe the Paps of Anu still have you beat."

"The what?" Peony asked.

"A pair of very large hills in Ireland," Fallon replied. "The Muggles there piled capstones on top of the mounds to make them look like - "

The rest of the girls broke into chortles again, this time Martis joining in and yelling, "FINALLY! Something bigger than mine!"

Sev stared at the vaulted ceiling of the hospital wing, the beams and moldings barely illuminated by the moonlight seeping through the glass windows and the lamplight from the paintings turned low.

Back at Hogwarts. Back to safety. Back with Martis again. Back in the infirmary.

Damn. He hated always having to come here. He liked Madame Pomfrey, but he just hated the fact that he cannot seem to go through the school year without being thrown in here at least once a month. It was annoying.

A thing trotted into the ward and approached Sev's bed. It sat down next to the bed and baa'ed.

"Hey, Lambchop," Sev greeted the school's resident inflatable sheep. "How was your summer?"

"Baa."

"Yeah, mine stank, too. Da beat the crap out of me a couple of times. Studied enough Dark Arts to choke McElwain. The usual."

Lambchop somehow managed to convey an expression of sympathy, then deposited a badge on his bed. Sev picked it up and looked it over. It was obviously a school badge, embroidered with a giant "P".

"A Gryffindor Prefect badge?" He turned it over and saw Remus Lupin's name embroidered on it. He glowered. "That spineless sod. How the bloody hell did he make it as Prefect?"

Lambchop dropped a mini-sewing kit on his lap and he looked up at the sheep.

"You know - you're sometimes scary for an inflatable sheep."

Lambchop wagged her tail and left him to do a little embroidery of his own in his artless and unskilled way.

The next morning Martis sat down to breakfast, glaring at anybody staring at her with blank expressions.

She had a nightmare the previous night in which she had descended the steps of the train, walked to Snape Manor, and proceeded to hack up the body of Sev's father with the Death Crone Labrys from the temple. The fact that every detail seemed exaggerated and vivid - and that she could feel the ice-cold blood covering her body - gave her the shivers into the early morning hours.

Especially with his decapitated, eyeless head still muttering curses at her.

Martis rubbed the back of her neck under her hair, and then draped Medusa around her neck, throwing her hair back from under the snake. Sev slipped in next to her.

"Watch the hair - you almost killed me with it."

Martis managed a smile. "Yours looks good in the braid again. Going to keep it that way?"

He nodded, gently touching the strands of hair in his face. "Only the half-braid."

"Nice. Feeling any better?"

"Pomfrey said I was all healed up, so she finally released me. I've been wanting to get out of there all night."

"What happened this time? Or did your rat of a father not even bother with excuses?"

"It was a potion ingredients list in Latin. I translated 'viginti stellio' as 'virgin newts' instead of 'twenty newts'." Sev almost smiled, but not quite. "Da doesn't have much of a sense of humor."

"Oh, I'm sure he does. Show him a puppy run over by a wagon, I'll bet he'll wet himself with hysterics."

Sev reached for the pitcher of milk and poured himself a glass. "Rules for the year - number one: do not mention anything in relation to my father or my parents in general."

"Understand, master," Martis answered.

"I'm being serious."

"I know, Snips. I don't refer to anyone as 'master', so you know I'm serious."

He gazed at her. "I'm not 'master'. I won't be a master. I sure as hells won't be your master."

"Would you prefer 'dominus'?"

"Same thing and you know it."

"'Spanky'?"

He ignored that and drank a bit of milk. "Rule two: I intend to keep out of the affairs of other people, and do not intend to get involved with anyone else romantically. I'm invoking the Non-Third Party Agreement from last year, at least for myself."

"Then I invoke it as well. I'm not ready, either." She pulled her sunglasses off, allowing Sev to see her face as a whole since they got back together. Even her face had changed a little, the baby fat melting away to reveal a strong jaw line and slightly more pronounced cheekbones. The moss green eyes also seemed more mature ... and their gaze seemed more intense. "If one of us is targeted by someone, the other makes sure honor is defended."

"Agreed." Sev brushed a forelock out of his eyes. "Rule number three: should the Maraudiots attack, we pay them back promptly and in kind, unless the offense demands a particularly complex retort."

"Understand." She looked up. "Any more rules?"

"To be amended or added as necessary."

Martis picked up her goblet and raised it to his. "Well, shall we seal the contract?"

He clanged his goblet to hers. "Sealed."

Fallon settled next to Martis and leaned across to both. "Good morning - we never got formally introduced - I'm Bridget's much more intelligent, sober, and incredibly solid sister Fallon. And you are?"

"Severus Snape, Fifth-Year," Sev answered. "Are you the better model we were promised?"

"At least not as cracked." Fallon grinned. "Why are you two considered the worst of Slytherin?"

"Who said that?" Sev asked.

"A general murmur."

"Ask the Gryffindors," Martis suggested. She looked up to see Narcissa Black sit down at the table, dutifully ignoring her. "Hey, Nasty-issa, done any Dark Arts recently involving boys, girls, or just farm animals?"

Narcissa wrinkled her nose.

Fallon raised an eyebrow. "What'd she do?"

"Put a lust spell on Severus here last year."

Sev snorted. "I'd like to forget that."

"Sorry, Snips. Anyway, Fallon, stay away from her - she might decide to 'experiment'."

The Irish girl rolled her eyes. "I'm locking my cat away for safety."

Narcissa narrowed her eyes. "Let's see ... Redhead, fat, freckles, mudblood, and an alcoholic ... Must be an O'Shanahan."

"Alcoholic?" Fallon repeated in mock offense. "Now that was naughty. You must be Narcissa Black - the one who gave the giant squid a tentacle rash."

Giggles erupted up and down the Slytherin table. Narcissa's face flushed white.

"Sure you want to be on her 'Black' list?" Martis asked. "There are better enemies to have."

Narcissa opened her mouth and Fallon leaned across the table, her blue eyes locked directly to Narcissa's blue eyes.

"Listen, Black, anything else will be a loss of dignity. I'm not Bridget and I'm don't play stupid Pureblood Wizard games. Don't mess with me and I won't mess with you - got it?"

Onslow Daizer burst into the Great Hall and strode up to the section where most of the Quidditch team sat. "Spirals - get over here! We have a problem!"

Martis glanced at the facing-off Fallon and Narcissa, and at Sev who was shrugging. She got up and made her way to the rest of the team.

"What is it?"

Onslow held up a piece of parchment. "I finally got my request to visit the Groom Lake Academy in the US and I'll be visiting for the semester!"

The entire Quidditch team stared at him.

"What do you mean 'visiting for the semester'?" Jonas Kennebunk asked.

"It means," Martis answered. "That we won't have our team captain until after winter holidays."

They were silent, and then the Woot brothers yelled in unison, "WHY THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU DO THAT??"

"'Cause Groom Lake has the best free-for-all Quidditch team in the western hemisphere - I want a piece of that!" Onslow looked at his teammates. "When tryouts happen next week, you just need to get a new Beater and Chaser is all."

"What about a captain?" Thomas St. Claire asked.

"Fearghus will be captain in my place."

"Why can't Spirals be captain?" Keith Woot asked.

"Yeah!" Ryan Woot agreed.

"Your confidence in me is amazing," Fearghus Flynn groused.

"Um, because I'm a Third-Year and I'm not as much a fanatic as you guys?" Martis suggested. "Besides, Flynn would be better suited."

Thomas turned back to Onslow. "A semester, hm?"

The Captain nodded.

The rest of the team slammed bowls of oatmeal at him.

When the first bell rang, students got up from their tables and began to make their way out of the Great Hall as they studied their schedules.

"No mixing of years again," Martis sighed. "I think they're afraid of us sharing a class together, Snips."

"Very likely afraid of us being in the same class with the Drooling Menagerie," Sev corrected. He glanced at a figure trying to crawl into the Great Hall. Said figure was a nasty-looking blob with an eyestalk. "Who's that?"

"Lucius Malfoy. Had to hex him."

"Why?"

"He opened my robe to get a better look at my chest - if I let it go on a second longer, he would have torn my sweater off, too."

Sev's brows lowered over his black eyes. "How ungentlemanly."

The Marauders trotted by; Peter Pettigrew's teeth fixed and Sirius Black's hair pulled back in a short ponytail.

Martis glanced at Lupin's Prefect badge. "Hey, when did the 'rick' get embroidered on his badge?"

Sev pressed close to her, breathing into her ear. "I sewed it on last night. He still hasn't noticed."

She giggled. "Bad Snips. Naughty Snips." She turned and hugged him as he walked forward and she walked backward down the hall. "Brilliant, Snips." She moved back around and continued walking.

Black glanced back at the duo, gazed at Sev's loose braid and the green Cretan hair-tie, and pursed his lips. "Nice hair, Snivellus."

Sev grinned nastily. "Thanks, Sillyass. Can hardly see the singed parts of yours."

Black cocked his head back toward Martis. "Hey, Brito-tart-is, was it magical or natural how those things grew?"

"I don't think it's any of your business, Mr. Black," Sev stated severely, drawing his wand out and stopping.

James Potter halted and drew his in response. "Inquiring minds want to know, Snape."

"You have one? What a shock."

The students surrounded the six, giving them a wide berth in case the spells started to fly. Lupin raised his hand, thumped his Prefect badge, and then tugged on Potter's robe sleeve, not even gathering a glance of attention. Seeing his friends were not paying him mind, he shrugged.

Sev and Potter's wands were pointed at the other's throat while the Marauders made faces (except Lupin who was staring obsessively at you-all-know-what) and Martis simply stood at Sev's side. The silence was filled with enough tension to cause an explosion.

Martis finally spoke: "I understand your mothers are very prim and proper ladies." She paused as the Marauders' eyes rested on her face. "It would probably greatly upset them to find out you children have been harassing a girl and asking vulgar things about her anatomy. As they will the instant I get to a fireplace - I believe McGonagall, your own House Mistress, will allow me her own once I explain the circumstances."

Potter, Black, and Lupin, looked at each other, then quickly drew back. Pettigrew's eyes got wide, and then he fell to his knees and clasped his hands. "PLEASE don't tell my parents! PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE - I beg of you, Vox!"

"Ew! Stop spitting on my shoes!" Martis gently poked him away with the toe of her Mary Jane. "And stop groveling - I hate it when men face their deaths like cowering dogs."

"Implying that Mr. Pettigrew is a man greatly upsets the balance of the universe, Miss Vox," Sev commented formally.

"Merely giving him a pity-dignity, Mr. Snape," she answered as formally. She looked back up at the Marauders, her sunglasses glinting. "Another word about this and your mothers will hear about it."

The rest of the boys nodded and made a silent getaway; the rest of the students continued on to their classes.

Sev flipped the braid back over his shoulder and looked at Martis. "What made you think of that?"

"Most prim, proper, and just plain British witches do not want to hear about their sons being ungentlemanly." She hefted up her book bag and continued walking.

"But how would you know about that?"

"Didn't you see the look on Black's mother's face when we got him to say 'crotch'? She looked like she bit into a lemon and found a snidget instead. Most all of the other adult women were also horrified - good indication that something like this would not go over well with them."

They ascended the staircase. "Well, then, that should shut them up for a while." He raised his wand before his face. "However, as your Dark Prince - " (Martis raised an eyebrow) " - I will not allow the uncouth pillocks to insult you."

"When did you find out the twins called you the 'Dark Prince'?"

"I can hear things while I sleep." He smiled and lowered the wand. "I must admit, it does have an elegant ring to it."

"I always thought so."

"Any predictions for the year?"

Martis slit her eyes and stared into the watery horizon of Sight. She shook her head and opened her eyes. "Nothing yet, but as long as we stick together and drive everyone to distraction, it should be good."

"Great. Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"YAH! Stop tickling!"

Sev shot off down the hall to his Transfigurations class. "I win!"

Martis giggled. "I'll get you next time, Snips!"

"I'm sure you will, Spirals."

-End-