DISCLAIMER: We don't need no steekin' disclaimers! rapped in the back of the head by Lady Rowling's lawyer I meant it as a 'funny'. Okay ... all canon characters belong to J.K. Rowling and the rest of the characters are belong to us. rapped in head again by Lady Rowling's lawyer Yes, I know the wizard community doesn't know about chop socky flicks but it sounded funny, too.

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Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"Trick Photography"

Text by Lady Tesser

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By mid-September, two new members of the Slytherin Quidditch team had been picked: Demetrius Jones for Beater (to replace the graduated Markham Dearling) and Bill Kauffey as Chaser (Chaser and Captain Onslow Daizer already safely ensconced in Nevada, North America, and reporting the Headmaster of the Groom Lake Academy is only known as 'Number Two').

Captain and Keeper Fearghus Flynn looked up at the Slytherin team as they hovered over him on their brooms. His Chasers Ryan Woot, Bill Kauffey, Keith Woot, and Jonas Kennebunk. His Beaters Britomartis Vox and Demetrius Jones. And his Seeker Thomas St. Claire.

"Onslow thought he was a slave driver," Fearghus growled in his Irish brogue. "He was merely charm school compared to how I'm going to work you. We won last year by dumb luck and surprise - this year, we won't have them. We will WORK for the Quidditch Cup again, mates, and we'll EARN it this time. You're going to WORK your lazy HIDES until they're bloody MASSES! You'll work until you're on the GROUND crying for your MOMMIES! THEN - after the warm-ups - I'll make you REALLY train!"

Jonas looked ill while the rest of the guys grinned and Martis managed a leer.

"Hey, Flynn!" she yelled down to him. "If you weren't Greta's and I liked psychotic gorillas, I'd marry you on that alone!"

The rest of the team snickered while Fearghus smirked. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Vox. NOW GET YOUR ASSES TO FLYING!"

Thomas, still grinning, commented, "Well, he's enthusiastic. INSANE. But enthusiastic."

"'Lunacy is the hallmark of genius'," Martis quoted. "We can't lose now!"

----------

Severus Snape, Fifth-Year, aged fifteen, was becoming more comfortable with his life as he got older. Perhaps it was the fact that he spent less time at home in his teen years, since Hogwarts was a boarding school. Contact with his father was little to none during the school year, given that Professor Sartoris was the buffer between them in relation to school and his 'studies'.

And despite his father's attempts, he still grew. He grew another inch over the summer and his hands did not seem as large and clumsy now ... perhaps he was starting to fill out his lanky, awkward frame? Too bad his nose would not shrink to his face. He hoped he would catch up with the rest of his classmates this year; he was still considered small-bodied. Even Martis was now only an inch shorter than him. Probably had a lot to do with the Lestrange blood; Mother's side of the family had more scholarly-builds than athletic or burly-types.

He felt paranoid, though, that several girls glanced at him in class or the Great Hall or the common room. Just a quick look, then back to their books or dinner. The paranoia eventually left when Prefect Lily Evans commented that he looked a lot better with the top and sides of his hair braided back, allowing everyone to see his eyes. And he did not sneer as much.

Sev glowed; Lovely Lily, the most beautiful and kind girl in Gryffindor, had complimented him. Who cares that she came from a Muggle family? She was decent and pretty and did not put up with any garbage. She had even scolded Sirius Black during Potions when Sillyass started throwing wads of paper at Sev's head during lecture. No other girl had shown him that much respect except Martis.

Best not to get involved. Sometimes when they appear to be too good to be true ... they are. And he could not stand to have his heart stomped on again.

However, this year was also the most aggravating so far in relation to Martis. Well, not herself, but her new shape, as several other guys found out that Severus Snape was not going to allow them to make vulgar comments about Miss Britomartis Vox. He could count on both hands just a single day's worth of hexing he had performed as punishments on these rude creatures that could not respect Spirals simply because she had 'bigguns' (as Pettigrew put it).

It had its positive notes, though. Sev had been called on the carpet once by McGonagall after moving Pettigrew's mouth to the inside of his pants, and once he explained that Pettigrew had been publicly wondering whether or not Spirals Vox would squeal when her chest was squeezed in a certain way, McGonagall awarded Sev ten points for being a gentleman and defending a lady's honor.

At least the hexings were starting to quiet down as the Hogwarts male population finally began to understand they were not going to be allowed to talk like the hormone-addled teenage boys they were ... at least, not within Snips', Spirals', and most of the other female population's hearing.

They both had invoked the Non-Third-Party Agreement. There was no excuse to allow anyone to be immature or think 'there's a chance'. Lechers of any sort will not be tolerated by either.

Demetrius, Thomas, and Fearghus entered their dorm room, shucking off their Quidditch uniforms. Sev hardly looked up from his reading.

"I'm getting Spirals to train Jones," Fearghus informed Sev.

"Most of you do need paper-training," Sev remarked.

"Hey, I mastered going outside," Thomas chuckled, grabbing his bath supplies and running out.

"Beater training, right?" Sev asked.

"Yeah," Demetrius confirmed, shaking his headful of dreds. "Spirals is mean, nasty, rough, and bloodthirsty on the pitch - if she wasn't your woman, Snape, I'd be after her."

Sev raised his wand to the back of Demetrius' head and Fearghus released a belly-laugh. "Don't bother, Snape, it was a compliment to you for putting up with her. Everyone on the team except Kennebunk thinks of her as a little sister."

"And what is Mr. Kennebunk's opinion?" Sev inquired as he lowered the wand.

"Jonas just has a Death Wish is all," Demetrius answered as he picked up his towel and bath supplies. "Really, Snape, I don't mean anything bad."

Demetrius left and Fearghus got his own bath items. "Snips, between you and me, I hope you keep her happy. I don't want to lose her due to women being sentimental about some such nonsense."

"According to Martis, men are more sentimental than women," Sev retorted. "Our thinking is, thus, fuzzier than theirs."

"There might be more truth in that statement."

Fearghus left and Sev buried his nose back into his book.

----------

Narcissa Black had a brilliant idea.

"Handmaidens!"

Her roommates - the prettiest Slytherin House had to offer (but none as pretty as Narcissa herself) - appeared from behind their green bed curtains as she stalked into the dorm room.

"Yes, milady?" they chorused.

"I have a fundraising idea - "

"Mater and Pater cut off your allowance again?" one asked.

"Shut up." Narcissa paced around the room. "My idea is to make a swimsuit calendar."

"How ... Medieval," a Handmaiden commented. "Shall we also open a brothel and sell our services to passing knights and journeymen?"

"You aren't a Handmaiden to be witty, you know," Narcissa snarled. "It'll be limited to Slytherin girls - Fifth-Year and older." She snapped her fingers. "Ina - I want you to poll the males of Slytherin House and ask them whom they would want to see in a bikini."

"Everyone will pick you, milady," another girl practically sang; the sarcastic tone slipped just under the radar.

"Yes, but we need eleven others for the rest of the year ... I think I'll be Miss February. I look good in red." She primped a bit. "Few pale blondes can do that, you know."

One of the Handmaidens commented in a low voice, "Most don't spend so much time in a red-light district, either."

Narcissa's head whipped around. "What was that?!"

"Just clearing my throat."

----------

The poll was taken within a day.

Of the hundred-odd males of Slytherin, 20 voted for Narcissa, 30 voted for various other girls, and 50 voted for Martis.

(The one write-in vote of Rowena Price the House Mother was discarded and Narcissa declared the writer to be a 'sick mudblood'. Little did she know that the write-in had been submitted by the House Master Gallo Penderdandis.)

"Half of them want to see that emasculating bitch??" Narcissa ranted. "Why the - ?"

"Probably because she has the largest rack this year. Boys are base creatures, milady."

"I must grant that," Narcissa sighed, plopping into an armchair in the dorm room. "Perhaps we can make it without her - "

Ina shook her head. "No can do, milady; all of them stipulated they didn't want one if she wasn't going to be in it."

"She won't agree to it, either," another girl stated.

"Of course not." Narcissa tapped her drying nails on the arms of the chair. "The others can be easily talked into it, Crescent and Danderfluff especially. Bellatrix wouldn't mind - with her coloring she'd be a perfect Miss October."

"Or an axe-murderer," a Handmaiden whispered. The others shivered, and not in amusement. Bellatrix Black went through seven owls last year, all of them having died in horrible ways.

"All right," Narcissa snapped. "Once I choose the others to appear in the calendar, arrange photo-shoots with the girls and that Hufflepuff photographer, the one who does the Quidditch team posters."

"And what about Vox?"

Narcissa clenched her teeth. "All right, she's on. Make her Miss July or something. I'll just charge extra for catering to the lowest common denominator."

The Black Widow left the room and the Handmaidens looked at each other.

"Who's going to ask Vox?"

"Not me - I like my intestines where they are."

"Maybe we can ask Malfoy to ask her. He's good at being a sacrifice."

"He'd enjoy it, too."

(Shudder.)

----------

The Fall Festival was getting close, and the students on the Fall Festival Committee (Martis among them) were cursing the heat as they worked on setting up tables and displays outside on the school lawn.

"Fall festival," one of the guys muttered. "And it feels like summer!"

"It's the humidity," Martis said as she and Fallon deposited a table on the end of a 'U'-shaped line of tables. "The temperature is all right, but the humidity is making it hotter than it is."

"At least it isn't cold and wet," Fallon commented.

"Agreed." Martis twisted her knee-length hair up and tossed it over her shoulder. "That's it!"

She pulled her tie loose, stripped her sweater off, and rolled up her sleeves. Fallon followed her example, and soon everyone had shedded their sweaters as they continued working.

"Hey, anybody seen Medusa?" Martis asked.

"Probably hunting field mice," a Slytherin boy offered.

A scream from the lake caught their attention. "Wow, I didn't think she was that far away," Fallon commented.

"Sounds like a Hufflepuff," Martis stated. "Their screams have a purer tone than everyone else's."

"After set up's done," Akiko Mori said. "We're going to have a swim in the lake."

"Sounds great," Martis remarked. Then she recalled a British custom - bathing costumes for swimming (how ridiculous is that?!). Her British hosts would probably frown on her swimming in her skin. "Although I don't have my suit with me."

"You can borrow ours," Fallon said. "You can fit in my top and you can wear one of the girls' bottoms."

Martis giggled. "Which are all probably more modest than what I wore on Crete."

"Anything's more modest than your clothes on Crete," Peony muttered. "I'm surprised you came back without any bruises."

"The guys on the island are used to seeing skin; the boys here aren't."

Madame Hooch - head of the committee - blew her whistle. "Looks good! We'll come back here tomorrow morning to finish set-up; festival starts at 2pm sharp after that. Dismissed!"

Students went back to the castle and to their dorms. Several put bathing costumes on, then threw their school robes over them before heading back out to the lake.

Martis was tied into a black and white-striped bikini bottom that had belonged to Peony and a red bikini top that had belonged to Fallon; the effect was decidedly mismatched and naughty, especially since Fallon's top was still a little too small on her. At least it was one of those sliding types that could adjust coverage.

"You still look illegal," Akiko commented.

Martis raspberried her. "Not my fault - you Brits are all Puritans at heart. Well, let's go."

----------

The bushes and tree branches around the lake were crowded with teenage boys. A group of girls were going to swim in the lake - perfect ogling opportunity without the Protection Spells going off. Some of the Hufflepuff guys were going to swim, too, but all the girls trusted them to behave themselves.

Sev objected loudly and violently as Demetrius and Thomas dragged him with them outside.

"There must be something wrong with you if you don't want to see girls in bikinis," Thomas remarked.

"The 'something wrong' part may be my ability to respect their privacy," Sev growled. "I prefer to express interest in girls in other ways."

Demetrius leered. "What ways?"

Sev wrinkled his nose and tossed his braid over his shoulder. "None of your business, Jones."

Thomas nonchalantly added as they left the school, "Of course, you get to see Spirals all the time. None of us had seen her skin."

Sev froze, which allowed the Beater and Seeker to drag him more easily. "Spirals is going to be there?"

"Already there, Snape," Thomas replied.

The two Quidditch players realized too late that Sev had drawn his wand and slammed stun spells into them, allowing him to break from their grips and run to the lake.

On the shore of the lake, he could see several girls in their bathing costumes either sunning themselves or talking together. Even more were swimming in the lake. A few guys were among the swimmers and those on the shore, but it was obvious the trees and bushes were full of hormonal teenage boys; the aural energy over the area was an amazing thing to look at, filled with all the red colors of lust and carnal fascination.

Sev could not see Martis. Maybe she decided not to ... after all, she said she never wore a bathing costume on Crete and she did not have one at the school ...

And then she broke the surface of the water.

He stood in shock, taking in the sight of her clad in the red and purple bikini, her extremely long ash-blonde hair plastered to her wet shoulders and back and thighs -

And her body, completely changed since the one time he accidentally saw her in her underwear - all olive-toned smooth skin, but wider hips and tighter waist and ... that chest, straining in the bikini top, looking soft and round and delectable ...

The aural energy flared, threatening to set the trees on fire.

"Oh, please work please work - " Sev breathed as he raised his wand. "SOLARIS!"

His wand burst with light, making the area fill with a flash ten times brighter than the sun.

He immediately called out, "ACCIO VOX!"

His arms were immediately filled with warm (but wet) girl and he sprinted off back toward the school while everyone cried out in shock and their eyes attempted to readjust themselves.

"Snips!" Martis squealed. "What are you doing??"

"Saving you from the Hormone Horde," he said. "Those lechers are hard enough to control without seeing you like that!"

Martis noted that she rather enjoyed being carried like this, and decided to stretch out the experience. It was not really a rescue, it was technically a kidnapping, but she found she enjoyed the drama. "And what were you doing there, then?"

"Being dragged against my will."

"Poor Snips! Forced into lechery against your will!" She hugged his neck. "And your gentlemanly nature asserts itself over their silliness."

"It was the only decent thing to do." Her fragrant wet skin filled his nose, and it made his stomach knot in excitement. Damn, damn, damn. Calm down. It's only Spirals.

"What about the other girls?"

"I promised to defend you, not them. It isn't my concern if they decide to be hussies."

"And what do you think I was doing?" she asked as they entered the school.

"Being duped. You're too trusting."

Sev suddenly stopped as McGonagall rounded a corner. She gazed over her rectangular glasses frames at the Fifth-Year boy holding the bikini-clad Third-Year girl.

"This isn't what it looks like," both students stated at once.

"It looks like a male student carrying a virtually-nude female student," McGonagall pursed her thin lips together and narrowed her eyes. "I don't know how I could misinterpret the physical evidence."

Martis raised her hand to her mouth and giggled as Sev lowered her to her feet. "Oh, Professor McGonagall! The plain truth of the matter is that Sev was worried about the other boys being ungentlemanly toward me while I was swimming in the lake, and he performed a rescue mission to save me from their uncouth attentions." She hugged Sev close, nearly burying his face in her cleavage while he flailed his arms around in panic. "He should be commended for being concerned!"

"LEMME OUF!" he cried from her cleavage. "I CAN'F BREAF!"

"Release Snape at once, Vox!" McGonagall ordered. "That is no way for a lady to treat her rescuer!"

"It is in this country's faerie tales."

"Five points from Slytherin for unbecoming conduct, Vox." She watched Martis quiet down and become serious while releasing Sev. "I trust this won't happen again."

She continued down the hall, her green and black robes swinging behind her.

Sev gasped for air and stared at her. "Don't EVER do that again, Spirals! I almost suffocated!"

"Funny," she sniffed, walking toward the dungeons. "Some of the boys had mentioned they wanted to do that exact same thing."

Sev's eyes widened as he followed. "Who?? What kind of freaks want to die like that??"

She turned to look back at him. "You are not only thick, but obtuse, Snips. You already hexed them a week ago." She rubbed her shoulders as they descended into the cold dungeons.

"What are you talking about?" He removed his robe and draped it over her shoulders. "I must be thick, because I don't understand what you're talking about."

She turned around in the narrow hall to the Slytherin common room, pulling the robe close around her. "Severus ... you know what both endears you to me and infuriates me? Your innocence. You understand about other guys being aggressive in pursuing girls, but you don't allow it to be applied to yourself." Seeing the look of confusion, she smiled slightly. "You won't allow yourself to be a normal boy and ogle us."

He blushed, practically lighting up the hallway. "I do ogle! It's just that it can be done without looking like a chimpanzee."

Martis raised an eyebrow. "My apologies - I thought Teasey and Black scared you out of it."

"I've little opportunity, not to mention I've better things to do than act like prokaryotic bacteria." He gave the password to the common room and both stepped in through the stone doorway. "Anyway, I don't see why the focus on it."

"I suppose because my hormones are switched on; I'm still sorting it out." She paused at one of the couches. "Wanna help?"

Sev paused and rolled his eyes. "Not funny."

"I'm not laughing."

Sev looked up at her and saw she was not. In fact, the serious expression on her face with her intense green eyes made him nervous.

Martis let the robe fall to the floor of the common room, her hair still plastered to her body, but looking more like diVinci's 'Venus' rather than a schoolgirl in a too-small bikini.

He turned his back to her, lowering his head, the braid slipping over his right shoulder and touching his cheek. "Please don't do that, Britomartis."

Martis blinked, and ran up to her dorm room.

----------

Martis grabbed a towel and nothing else and dashed into the girls' showers. Twisting the cold water faucet on, she sat under the freezing cold water and broke into tears.

Stupid-stupid-stupid! What the Avernus possessed you to actually PROPOSITION your best friend??? Was it because he rescued you like some hero rescuing a freaking ingenue or because he smelled nice and you really REALLY wanted to kiss him for several hours at a time?

She curled up in a ball on the tile floor, letting the water soak her.

He doesn't want you that way! He never wanted you that way! He's got too much to deal with! The last thing he needs is some stupid girl-child throwing herself at him and demanding him to accommodate her sloppy, perverted attentions! THINK about it, you ball of overripe estrogen! He DOESN'T want you!

What was the saying? 'Never be pissed-off and turned-on at the same time, you won't know whether you're coming or going.'

She scared her Snips ... and he never took being scared very well.

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Sev slammed his dorm room door shut. The room was empty, which he preferred right now because he needed to vent.

Picking a chair, he gathered up his anger and feelings of helplessness, drew his wand, and expelled the unwanted emotions. The chair obliged by exploding into flaming splinters.

Much calmer, Sev fell down on his bed and allowed the tears to dry on his cheeks while he stared at the green canopy.

The problem was that he was not the least bit confused. He knew exactly what he wanted, whom he wanted it with, and why.

He wanted 'happily ever after' ... with Britomartis Vox ... because she filled a place in his soul that was shaped exactly like her.

And he knew what he was ...

Tainted.

He was ugly, dirty, disgusting, oozing with Darkness from his very soul. Even his conception was tainted, corrupted with Dark Magic and unholy intent.

When Sev 'ogled' her, he did not look at her body, he looked at her aura ... blazing with golden fire despite the knot of scarlet anger underneath.

What right did he have to contaminate that with a soul designed from before his birth to desecrate the world it lived in?

For that was Severus Snape's deepest horror. He knew that his father did not beat him and terrorize his mother out of unrestrained feelings or unhealed trauma. It was planned, cold and clinical, like a potion mixing - particular processes and ingredients to produce a desired result. It was not hate, it was science. And he knew, deep in his gut, that was the real reason.

Severus Snape had not really been born - he had been designed and constructed. He was to become part of a weapon to help crush all light and joy from the world.

He rolled over and willed the pain into his deepest places, gathering it up in a tight knot and burying it deep within. He would not allow his darkness to contaminate the golden light that was Britomartis Vox.

He would keep one good and pure thing in his horrid and evil life, even if he had to die to accomplish it.

----------

Martis was not at dinner that night. Neither were several others, actually, since they had to be treated for corneal burns due to the light-flash spell that had been cast near the lake earlier that day.

Sev finished what little he could eat and excused himself early, walking across the small courtyard to the school building and up several flights of stairs.

She had to be there. Probably being a silly teenage girl. What time was it in her Cycles, anyway? Was she almost due for the month? No, that had been earlier, just days after classes started again.

Sev climbed up the spiral stairs and poked his head into the crawlhole. "Martis?"

"Go away."

"I forgive you."

"I don't."

Sev pulled his wand out. "Lumos." The tip of his wand illuminated the small room faintly, outlining the form of Martis curled up against the wall. She was draped in her school robe, but it was obvious she was wearing only a sundress under it. Medusa was draped around her shoulders. "I won't let you cry alone," he finally said.

"Aren't you afraid I'll try to molest you?"

He crawled in and sat next to her. "Spirals, get over it. I know you won't."

"I'm sorry. And I apologize, too."

He raised the wand slightly, the light reflecting from the still-fresh tears streaked down her face. "Accepted."

"I don't know what came over me." She wiped her face with the hem of her robe. "I'm so sorry I did that to you."

"Accepted." He lit the lantern with his wand, then softly murmured, "Nox."

"You know I don't want to scare you."

"I know." He slipped his wand in his robe.

"I don't need to add to your problems - "

Sev lifted Martis' face up with his hands, making her look up into his face. "I forgive you for being a silly teenage girl who lets her heart and hormones rule her head."

Her eyes lowered. In a thin soft voice, she said, "I would not have ... hurt you. If ... anything developed."

Sev felt his body tense. "I know." He forced himself to give her a hug. "Besides, you wouldn't have gone through with it. We were in the common room, remember? Protection spells? If you had serious intent, you would have gotten a few gallons of ice water dumped on you."

That is right ... so what was her frame of mind in when she asked? Martis looked up at him again. "Maybe I should leave you alone."

No. She could not. He was not going to let her go.

"No," he said aloud. "We're Snips and Spirals and it's going to stay that way. Understand? Nothing is going to tear it up - not other people, not your parents, not my father, not this school, not your hormones, not my depressions." He half-smirked. "Anyway, I understand I should be strutting around like a prime ass for being the only boy that the overendowed Vox offered herself to."

"If you did such a thing, I would put Medusa in your bed."

"Probably be the same with either of you in it - squeezing me tight and licking my face."

Martis finally broke into laughter. She did squeeze him tightly but did not lick his face. Medusa slithered down to the opposite wall and lay quietly as the teenagers held each other.

----------

The Fall Festival began after lunch.

There were games, displays of mental and physical and magical ability, and food.

Sev and Martis sat on the sidelines, devouring pistachio and strawberry ice cream respectively, and watching the crowds. After all, humans can be very entertaining.

"I see the Maraudiots are participating in the High-Class Twit of the Year competition," Martis commented, hitching Medusa back up on her shoulder.

"Low-Class Twit of the Year, you mean," Sev corrected her.

Indeed, the Marauders were throwing eggs from one to the other for one of the games. Pettigrew had broken two already while Lupin was looking pale and sweaty. Potter was showing off by juggling four, and Black was keeping all of them on their toes by throwing the eggs in fast pitches.

"Who's that?" Martis asked, pointing.

Sev looked over at the lean and tall young woman with the short green hair, olive skin, yellow scarf, and flying goggles perched on her head. Her robe was russet-colored with lace trim (fashionable for the time), and she had shiny fingerless gloves. She seemed to be watching the crowd.

"Don't know," Sev said. "She's not a visitor - she's wearing the school crest. But I don't recall anyone mentioning a new teacher."

"Perhaps one of the new trainee instructors for Madame Hooch's broom safety class? That would explain the flight goggles." The novelty and minor mystery loosing its appeal, Martis scanned the crowd again. "And there's Teasey, looking like a nervous wreck," Martis pointed out.

Sev looked away. Sonia Stellamaris did admittedly not look so alluring this year, especially since her long blonde hair had to be cut short from the inflatable sheep eating it. The short hair seemed to exaggerate her features, like the Muggle painting 'Madonna of the Long Neck'. Indeed, it gave her something of a flamingo appearance.

"Oh, look," he said to distract her. "Your sisters are trying to tackle a couple of Gryffindors."

"Looks like Fred Holden and Rena Cassari."

"Adonia still lesbian?"

"Bisexual this year. Must be hell to play both fields like that. Can't trust anyone." She licked her ice cream. "And there's Phaedra and Monsoor doing archery."

"Marriage seems to suit them. Are they really happy?"

"Yeah. I hear it happens sometimes. Phaedra is one of the few siblings of mine that fell in love with her betrothed before the arranged marriage."

Sev inhaled a large chunk of ice cream, chewed the nuts, then swallowed. He glanced around. "What's Fallon doing?"

Martis peered across the lawn. "She's following Evan around like a lovesick puppy."

"She has low standards - I know what reading materials he keeps under his bed."

Martis raised an eyebrow. "Really, Snips?"

"I share a room with three Quidditch players and a Head Boy: it's like sharing a pornography library with four tomcats."

Martis giggled. "My poor Snips!" She glanced back. "Shall I warn her?"

Snips pondered, then shook his head. "No. Evan needs a Celtic warrioress to chase him for once. But if he does anything about it, we are obligated to set him on fire."

"Naturally, she's only eleven. What was his excuse for letting Brittany Valkaria go?"

"Something about candlewax." He paused. "Do you know what that means?"

"Not a clue."

"I don't know, either."

Martis shoved the rest of the cone in her mouth and chewed just as a Gryffindor boy sauntered up to them. She and Sev regarded him with bored interest as he smirked at her.

"Hey, Vox, wanna dance?" he asked.

Martis rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. "Sorry, left my extra left foot in the dorm."

"Doesn't require much - it's called the Horizontal Mambo and - URK!"

Sev was up, his wand poking against the boy's windpipe. "Tell me, Lucas, does qualifying for Gryffindor mean you do not have the required two brain cells and common sense?? Are you the only idiot in the entire school who has NOT heard of what we do to pigs like you?!" Sev pushed him back until the boy had fallen back on a table in the middle of a Merging Tarot card game, Sev's knee on his chest to keep him pinned. "What sort of guy goes around propositioning proper witches like they were two-sickle whores in Knockturn Alley?? How have you managed to live this long by being a complete and total bastard towards women?!"

Lucas had wet himself by this point, and Professor Sprout placed her hand on Sev's shoulder.

"That's enough, Mr. Snape," she said softly. "Release him."

Sev coldly gazed at Lucas' eyes as he got up and slipped his wand back up his sleeve. Lucas fell like a waterfall from the table to the ground.

Professor Sprout gave Lucas a hard stare. "Twenty points from Gryffindor for incredible vulgarity and stupidity. Notification of this to your House Mistress. Detention with me in feeding the carnivorous Audrey plants. A note will be sent to your parents, addressed firstly to your mother. Apologize to the girl in question."

"That's all - Not fair - !"

"I could have Mr. Snape finish you off like he started to. I do believe he has advanced beyond dragon summoning by this time." Her normally benign expression was replaced by a maternal fury that few had seen. "You are not permitted to be a perverse sexist skwert. Apologize. Now."

Lucas made a hurried and sincere apology to Martis and quickly left. The rest of the students finally turned their attention back to the festival as Sev joined Martis back in their seats. Professor Sprout sat with them as well.

"I would not have finished him off," Sev complained. "I would not have killed him - death is too kind and brief. He would have lived ... after a fashion."

"I know," Professor Sprout agreed. "But I could not sleep well knowing you would get into trouble for protecting Miss Vox."

Martis fumed. "I hate these things! Why are all the boys in the immediate vicinity acting like moronic bags of camel testosterone??"

Sev sniffed. "Thank you ever so much."

"You're not a boy, Snips, you're a Man."

He finally smiled, blushing.

Professor Sprout cleared her throat. "I'm going to be brutally honest here, Miss Vox - boys will always act like that around you. They've acted that way around me since I was twelve. They still do even though I'm old enough to be their mother. I believe Professor Dumbledore once referred to it as 'the Hypno-Boob Effect' ... it sucks common sense out of their skulls."

Both Slytherins gazed at the Hufflepuff House Mistress and agreed - Pamona Sprout was a healthy forty, but she was curvy with a headful of puffy brown hair and an impressive chest. It was an underground joke for the boys to comment 'Professor Sprout has big bulbs'.

"The Headmaster is a dirty old man," Sev muttered. "Accurate, but dirty."

Martis giggled. "I'm sure he's got some stories to tell, too."

Professor Sprout giggled. "Well, he did mention that lady he met in the Yukon named Eskimo Nell. Someone even wrote a song about her, and -" She caught herself and flushed. "Perhaps you shouldn't hear that until you're older - say about fifty."

Martis raised an eyebrow and glanced at Sev. She had overheard McGonagall ranting about Sev's drunk during last winter holiday when he roamed the halls singing 'The Ballad of Eskimo Nell'. If what Sprout was implying were true ... where the Avernus did Sev learn it???

She was distracted from thinking about this avenue of thought by Sev pulling her up by the wrist and taking her across the grounds toward the archery range.

"Why here?" she asked. Medusa recognized the range and slipped off down her shoulders and to the ground, slithering off to find a way to entertain herself.

"Just thought to try it out," he replied. "Of course, if you don't want to ... "

"I do." She picked up one of the bows and experimentally twanged the cord. "British bows. Longer than I'm used to - single curve. I suppose I could work with them."

A Seventh-Year Hufflepuff boy came over with an ingratiating smile. "First time on the range, Miss? Perhaps I could help you learn." He stepped up close behind her. "If you let me take your hands and show you ..."

Martis held the bow horizontal before her, grabbed two arrows, and quickly let off two shots.

THUNK! THUNK!

The arrows quivers in the targets fifty yards away, one in the bull's-eye, one in the black. The bystanders gave polite applause, including Sev.

"I think I can manage, thank you."

The would-be instructor flushed and backed away, not daring to speak.

"Excellent shots, Spirals," Sev commented.

"Remind me never to do that again without gloves!" Martis hissed, holding her hands under her arms. "Owie! These things have more pull than a Cretan bow!"

"But those pictures you sent of you doing it on Crete - "

"As I said - these have more pull. I can do the usual ones barehanded, but not these." She handed it to him. "You wanna try? I bet the instructor would love to put his arms around you to show you how to pull his bow."

Sev's face conveyed all emotions east of disgust. "I would rather not." He sighed. "Oh, the burdens of being a Love God."

Martis broke into laughter, her knees hitting the ground as she clutched her stomach.

Sev snorted and picked up an arrow, nocked it, then sent it whistling across the range and into one of the mid-rings of the target.

"Not bad at all, Snips," Martis complimented as she got up.

"Not really - I was aiming for the other target on the far left."

----------

Dumbledore loved fairs, carnivals, and parties of most sorts. He especially enjoyed ones with sweets. As he was enjoying his second lemon-flavored candyfloss of the day, he noticed a strange young woman with green hair.

He noticed her for three reasons. One - she was quite attractive (he was old, not dead). Second - she was subtly familiar in a way he could not place (after one and a third active centuries of life, though, most people began to look familiar). Third - she was walking in a manner that made him think of a Muggle he had met in his youth named Doc Holliday.

Thus, she was obviously trouble.

Coming up to her with a friendly smile, he greeted her: "Welcome to the Fall Festival, Miss - ?"

"Sorry, fella," she said dismissively. "You're a bit old for me. Besides, I'm working."

Dumbledore did not know whether to be flattered or offended. He decided to be flattered. "I must thank you, Miss, for it has been almost half a century since a young lady has accused me of attempting to importune her. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of this school."

The girl flushed. "Oops. Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to accuse you of - er - "

"Quite all right, Miss - ?"

"Cleopatra. I'm working security at the school."

Dumbledore frowned. "Security? I don't recall hiring any security."

"I was hired by a Madame Pomfrey to watch for violence."

"I see." He scowled around and noted Madame Pomfrey at a booth with her new husband and Professor Sprout where all three were looking over various small potted nightshade blooms. "Will you excuse me, dear?"

At a pace neither fast nor slow, he crossed the midway and came up behind Madame Pomfrey, placing his hand on her shoulder. "My dear Poppy! Would you like to take a walk?"

Before she could answer, she was being subtly pushed ahead by Dumbledore until they came to a space just outside the grounds of the festival and nearer to the castle. Then he released her and allowed her to turn around.

"Albus! What is the meaning - "

"What is the meaning of you hiring a mercenary to stalk around my school?!"

Pomfrey looked both offended and defiant. "I felt that the health of the students was in danger and took remedial action, as my station requires."

"Indeed."

"Yes, indeed!" Pomfrey's face flushed with anger. "You know as well as I do that those 'Marauders' are as bad as their name implies! It's as if Mr. Lupin's lycanthropy were infecting them with a moral fetor! Not that Young Black needs an excuse - that entire family carries a dark taint. But I will not stand by until students are permanently crippled or killed because they were 'just having fun'!"

"Have you looked at that woman's aura?!" Dumbledore insisted. "The way she carries herself?! She's no casual security guard. That woman is a killer! What made you select such a creature?!"

"She came with superb recommendations from the Ministry of Law Enforcement - including Alastor Moody."

Dumbledore's brow wrinkled. "As much as I respect Alastor, you know as well as I do that the man's spirit has been damaged by the wars he wages. His judgment is not entirely reliable."

"Nor is yours," Pomfrey said firmly. "You continue to think of all the students as innocent children, despite clear evidence that some of them are just ... WRONG!"

The Headmaster and the nurse stared at each other for a moment, two iron wills dueling, with neither giving an inch.

Finally, Dumbledore nodded. "Your concerns are noted. Keep your war-hound on a tight leash, Poppy. Should a single student be harmed by her, you will answer for it."

Pomfrey nodded in agreement, and the two went back to the festival without another word.

----------

Sev looked up from the game of Merging Tarot cards and his face fell. "Look out - Sillyass Prat and his Girlfriends."

Martis spun around, facing Sirius Black. Instead of being a head-and-a-half shorter, the top of her head was now level with his eyes, giving both the ability to nearly stare each other eye to eye for the first time.

"Good afternoon, Brito-tart-is," Black greeted her politely. "Hey, Snivellus." He waved at Sev. "Shall we engage in a little gentlemanly competition?"

"If you can find any gentlemen I'll gladly take the offer," Martis retorted coolly.

"Then how about a non-violent contest of skill?" Black's gray eyes gazed into the reflection of her sunglasses.

Both Martis and Sev gave simultaneous snorts of contempt.

Potter stood straight and said in a comically-exaggerated voice, "Oh dear. We did not ever dream that the great Snips and Spirals would be AFRAID of competing with us. Oh well, at least you're honest enough to admit that SNEAK ATTACKS are more your style, since the two of you couldn't POSSIBLY win in a FAIR contest!"

This got the attention of a great many persons, including Martis and Sev, both of whose nostrils were flaring and eyes narrowing.

They looked at each other and nodded. As Martis put away the cards, Severus drew himself upwards and stared down his nose at the Marauders, looking regal and menacing as well as contemptuous. "Name your challenge, Molesters of House-Pets."

Sirius Black smirked. "A game of skeet-shooting - loser has to sit in the dunking booth."

Martis stepped forward before Sev could open his mouth. "Easy-peasey. We accept the challenge. Who will be your shooters?"

"I am," Potter stated. "And Padfoot here."

"Then I nominate Remus Lupin to be an unbiased judge." She smiled sunnily at him. "After all, as a Prefect, you have to be fair to all parties involved."

Lupin's eyes widened and he began sweating. "I-I-I - "

"He'll do it," Black accepted for him.

"At the booth in five minutes," Potter stated.

Pettigrew giggled hysterically as they walked off.

Sev stared at Martis. "Why did you suggest Loopy to be a judge?"

"Because, my dear Snips," Martis said as she slipped her robe off and draped it over her arm. "He's the Prefect and he has to act like one. There's too many witnesses around for him to favor his bed-buddies."

Sev followed her to the Skeet-Shooting Booth. Actually, I would believe the fact that he stares at you like a dog that wants to hump your leg and would do anything to be allowed a chance at that. Being a Prefect be damned; besides, his badge says 'Prick', not 'P' for Prefect.

Both arrived at the booth and deposited their robes at some chairs. Black and Potter were already there, sans robes, all four of them in their under-uniforms. (Pettigrew being forcibly restrained by Lupin to not say anything out loud about Miss Britomartis' tight sweater.)

"Wands," Lupin stated gravely, indicating the game-supplied birch wands lined up on the counter.

Sev, Martis, Black, and Potter picked up the wands and snapped them up to their faces then bowed to each other.

"This is a game of skill," Lupin continued. "At the end of thirty seconds, the team with the most hits wins. The team with the least hits loses and will be forced to sit in the dunking booth. Ready."

Both teams turned back to the large backdrop, a 'space' of a cattail filled lake surrounded by woods, measuring forty by thirty feet.

"Set."

The pairs flicked their wands out toward the background.

"Go."

The Skeets - a magical creature resembling a frog with wings - began appearing all over the backdrop.

Wands fired into the picture. One Skeet splashed into the water.

"Point to Gryffindor."

Martis shot twice. The Skeet she was aiming for laughed. "Hee-hee, can't hit the broadside of a barn!"

"Come and get me, big nose!" one teased Sev.

Shoot, splash. "Argh, you got me, Master Black!"

"Point to Gryffindor."

"Hit something, Spirals!" Sev hissed.

"I'm trying!"

"Can't shoot straight?" Black asked casually, picking off three in a row.

One Skeet turned around and kicked its legs up in the air in a Two-Finger Salute gesture. Martis aimed specifically for that one - and the bolt from the wand slammed into the tree a centimeter to the right of it.

"It seems," Martis commented through clenched teeth. "That our wands have been tampered with."

"It also seems," Sev added, still shooting. "That the Skeets are making sure they are shot only by Gryffies."

"Come now," Potter remarked in a jolly tone, hitting two Skeets. "You can't trash talk us by claiming we're cheating. We're Gryffindors."

"Which is 'nasty little cheaters' spelled backwards," Martis snapped.

"Guys, they've figured it out - !" Pettigrew whined.

Sev dropped the game-wand and shook his arm, causing his own ebony wand to appear out of his sleeve and into his hand. The wand tip pointed at Sirius Black's throat.

Black continued shooting as the Slytherins glared at him, and Potter placed his own game-wand down.

"Have you finished scraping your fingers on the bottom of the barrel?" Sev asked. "This is low and disgusting, even for you, Sneerius."

"Thought we'd have a bit of a laugh," Black said lightly. "Snivellus."

Pettigrew began babbling: "I thought we were doing this to get Vox in the dunking booth to get her wet so we could see her - UMPH!"

Lupin and Potter had grabbed Pettigrew and clamped their hands over his mouth as both whispered, "Shut up, you moron!"

The entire area filled with a scarlet explosion of energy and everyone witnessing the competition saw Martis engulfed in a flaming aura of anger. "YOU STUPID, PETTY, SHEEP BRAINS IN BAGS OF GOAT DROPPINGS - !"

"Crap!" Lupin cried, diving for cover.

Not even touching her wand, Martis raised her hands and slammed them down through the air toward them, shrieking a song note no one had ever heard in the modern wizarding world.

The force-blast of golden energy picked up the four Marauders and tumbled them end-over-end through the air and landing them face-first into the ground.

"THAT'S IT," Black declared, pulling his wand out. "Headmaster, points, or McGonagall, I don't care - THE BITCH IS DEAD!!"

As he swung his wand in the air, Sev lifted his own wand up -

A jet of flame screamed between the two groups, making them pull away to keep from catching fire.

The six players looked up to see the green-haired woman hired for security standing at the end of the line of fire, her teakwood wand strapped to the top of her forearm and the end pointing between them.

"One more step and I'll roast you alive," she stated in a low voice that promised the threat would be carried out. Her brown eyes regarded both groups coldly. "Sirius Black - Severus Snape - put your wands away or I'll spank you with them. Now. Miss Vox - stand down."

Dumbledore approached the tableau, closely followed by Madame Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall, and Professor Penderdandis.

Cleopatra's eyes did not leave the students as she said, "Violence erupted, Headmaster. We have seven hundred witnesses who will testify that Mr. Black was about to kill Miss Vox, and Mr. Snape was going to answer him in kind. I can also see that Mr. Potter was about to reach for his own wand."

"Was the wall of fire necessary, Miss Cleopatra?" Dumbledore asked.

"It got their attention, sir. No one died ... " She looked coolly at the boys. "This time."

"She attacked us!" Pettigrew whined, pointing in Martis' direction. "She was going to kill us!"

"Shut up, you miserable prat!" Potter hissed.

"The Golden Tone?" Cleopatra said. "An old magic, which can only affect someone that had done wrong to the caster. It affected you because you gave it the right to. You really should study more - such ignorance is life-threatening."

Pettigrew pouted. "We just wanted to see her knockers."

Black slapped his hand to his forehead in disbelief while Potter walloped Pettigrew in the back of the head. Lupin covered his head and pretended he was invisible.

"Indeed," Dumbledore said sternly. "I believe this can all be discussed in my office. NOW."

No one was going to argue with that tone.

Monsoor Vox-Patil ran up to the group of adults, carrying his wife in his arms. "Madame Pomfrey - it's Phaedra - she's fainted!"

Pomfrey nodded. "To the hospital wing."

-----------

Fifty points from Gryffindor for unbecoming conduct and cheating. The punishment was detention with Retired-Professor Machiavelli to 'remind' them how to behave.

Fifty points from Slytherin for excessive violence. The punishment was detention for Miss Vox to help catalogue Headmaster Dumbledore's office.

And Phaedra Vox-Patil was declared seven weeks pregnant.

News of Phaedra's pregnancy overshadowed the potential bloodbath between the Gryffindors and Slytherins and the school quickly got back to normal.

Which is how Cleopatra wanted the whole affair to be remembered.

----------

Narcissa leaned across the counter in the school's dark room to the school photographer.

"And the photo shoots came out well?" she purred.

"Quite well," he answered. "I'll send you the proofs when they're all developed." He pinned up a paper. "Although, to be completely honest, the only one that came out perfect was Vox's. She photographs well because she's natural in her pictures - she's not pretending to be anything." He glanced at the other pictures hanging up, developing, and moving in suggestive fashions. "Unlike the rest of you pretty snakes."

Narcissa's lip curled up in a sneer. "This is meant to make money, not be an artistic statement." She stood up and flicked her blonde hair over her shoulder. "I'll pay you in full after sales of the calendar start."

"Thank you, Miss Black. Once you decide, I'll have them ready for distribution by Halloween. Suits?"

Excellent. Nice doing business with you."

Narcissa left the dark room and the Hufflepuff photographer looked at the collection of photos drying on lines, all of them beginning their movements. All of them were artificial and forced and - frankly - deadening to his artistic sense. There was artistic nudes and there was pornographic nudes, and he veered more toward artistic.

It was the same for bikini pictures; and the only artistic photograph was the paranoid Martis Vox who had the Quidditch team beat him up for misinterpreting his requests.

Too bad he could not sell those on the side like he could with the Quidditch posters. However, he valued life more than most. As well as where his liver was.

----------

The Great Hall the next morning was filled with nothing but talk about Phaedra and Monsoor's impending baby; girls were excited and happy for them while the boys realized that Phaedra Vox was really not that sexy anymore.

In fact, the entire Vox clan of sisters seemed completely off-limits now ... especially with Adonia being lesbian (or whatever), Artemisia dating Gryffindor Fred Holden exclusively now, and Martis having cast ancient magic at the Marauders to get them off her case.

It was not worth chasing after the Vox's now. It was either pointless or dangerous.

Mr. Lucas of Gryffindor got a Howler that morning in the mail delivery. He pushed it aside and ignored it even though it began shaking and trembling and smoking. Several of his housemates scooted away or excused themselves from breakfast. Others sat outside the blast radius to see how much of him would catch fire.

Finally, after five minutes, the envelope practically disco-dancing across the table before him, the envelope broke open in a flash of light and formed into the mouth of Mrs. Lucas.

"YOU'RE NOT GOING TO IGNORE THIS ONE, JONATHON GAYLORD VIVIAN LUCAS!"

The students in the Great Hall fell silent, then giggled.

"YOU HAVE BROUGHT SHAME ON OUR FAMILY BY BEING A SEXIST, PIG-HEADED LOUSE! I CAN'T BELIEVE I GAVE BIRTH TO YOU AND TAUGHT YOU EMBROIDERY! WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY BEING A VULGAR SOT AND OFFENDING ALL WOMANHOOD WITH YOUR IDEA OF BEING FUNNY???"

Lucas opened his mouth to say something.

"SHUT UP! I'M SICK OF YOUR EXCUSES!!! I'M GOING TO HAVE YOU TRANSFERRED TO DURMSTRANG WHERE YOU'LL BE TAUGHT MANNERS BY BLOOD-DRINKING VAMPIRES WHO EAT LITTLE BOY-CHILDREN LIKE YOU FOR LUNCH! YOU THINK YOU'RE A TOUGH SNOT HERE, YOU'LL BE FLOBBERWORM DUNG BY THE TIME THEY'RE DONE WITH YOU!!!"

The Howler exploded, setting Lucas' hair on fire.

The girls of Hogwarts cheered, the loudest being the girls of Gryffindor.

Martis and Sev glanced at each other as Lucas ran out of the Great Hall.

"You know, Mr. Snape," she commented. "Running around like that only feeds the fire."

Sev nodded in agreement. "Agreed, Miss Vox. The trick is to stop, drop, and roll, correct?"

"Indeed, my dear Snips. Since his hair is on fire, dropping on his head would be an improvement."

"A definite improvement, my dear Spirals." Sev offered the fruitbowl to her. "A piece of fruit?"

"Thank you, darling." She accepted a strawberry, bit it, then pressed the rest of it to his lips.

"Hmm?" he asked against the berry's flesh.

"Another pest to the females of Hogwarts has been vanquished; I must feed my champion."

"Good enough reason." He bit into the fruit and chewed, then swallowed. Sev paused, then hesitantly said, "After doing that, I have the strangest feeling that I should ask you to marry me."

"Feeding friends is different than feeding a beloved," Martis assured him. "Feeding one's beloved involves a private room, lots of wine, and loose clothing. This is far from it."

"All right."

Martis settled back in her seat and continued with breakfast. For some reason, his observation produced a wave of excitement in her and her smile threatened to split her face open.

Sev was not aware she was smiling.

-End-