DISCLAIMER: I have not abandoned the Madwands, just the stories involving their perspective. Otherwise, be on the lookout for these time-traveling troublemakers.

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Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"St. Severus and the Dragon"

Text by Lady Tesser

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Sirius Black - covered from head to foot with bruises (which could be seen due to the fact that he was wearing a studded leather bikini) - stumbled into the Great Hall Saturday morning with his hand to his head. Everyone stared at him as he raised his other arm and pointed at the Slytherin table.

"SEVERUS SNAPE - YOU DID THIS!!!"

Sev raised an eyebrow and placed his orange slice down. "Which particular 'this', Mr. Black? I'm afraid your face was like that before the obvious beating - blame either God or the Devil for that insult, but not me."

Black seethed, "Shut up!" He faced the head table where Professor Flavert was trying to keep from giggling his morning tea up. Addressing Dumbledore, he proclaimed, "Headmaster - that nasty snake beat me up, transfigured my uniform into this, transfirgured my robe into a garbage can, threw it and me down the stairs, and yelled 'You cannot defeat my Trash Can-Fu'!"

Several students broke into giggles.

Britomartis Vox and Severus Snape glanced at each other. "And you didn't invite me along, Snips?"

"Had no idea I did it, Spirals. Would have liked to remember."

Dumbledore raised his hand to silence the duo and other mumbling individuals. "And when did Mr. Snape do this to you, Mr. Black?"

"Five minutes ago on the staircase from Gryffindor Tower."

"Strange," Professor Penderdandis commented. "If I recall correctly, exactly five minutes ago, Mr. Snape and Miss Vox had broken into an argument over how she was going to dispatch you during today's Quidditch match. Since they had arrived in here for breakfast fifteen minutes before that, it seems that the times do not match up."

"Are you sure it was me, Black?" Sev asked.

"Oh, it was you all right - big ugly nose, greasy hair - except you were wearing a shirt with a skull on it. Proof enough it was you!"

"Then it must have been my Good Twin, because I wish I had thought of throwing you down the stairs in a garbage can first."

"You beat me up and stole my calendar!"

Martis yanked her sunglasses off and pointed them at him. "You mean the one with the photo of me that was taken without my permission? And what were you doing with this item, Mr. Black?"

Sev raised one eyebrow. "Perhaps making observations or comments that would warrant your being so-handled?"

Black shrieked in anger and whirled around, stomping back out of the Great Hall.

"What calendar?" Professor McGonagall inquired.

"Oh, crap!" Narcissa Black cried. "She found out!"

Everyone at Slytherin ignored Narcissa's hysterics as they leaned close to Sev.

"How'd you do it, Snape?" Thomas St. Claire asked.

"Give us the details!" Demetrius Jones insisted.

"I didn't," Sev replied. "I was here the whole time."

"Then who did you give the Polyjuice Potion to?" Peony Danderfluff asked.

"Hey, he didn't do it," Martis snapped. "Can't you believe him?"

"Martis, he's the only one who looks like that in the school."

"Looks like what?" Sev asked.

"You know - !" Peony answered vaguely. "Big nose and ugly hair and skeleton-scrawny and all that."

Sev looked at her blankly. "Have you looked in a mirror lately, Miss Danderfluff?"

Everyone around went "OOOO!!" in admiration of the dig, except Peony, who picked up her plate and prepared to toss it. However, Martis' quick reflexes saved Sev from a splattering and she slammed the plate back down on the table. It quickly vanished and was replaced by a freshly prepared breakfast plate.

"Anyway, throwing people in trash cans down stairs is not my style; think about it, ladies and gentlemen." Sev brushed a strand of black hair back into the braid. "So, I would appreciate it if you all would leave - me - alone."

The rest of the Slytherins retreated back while Martis rested her chin in her palm while she leaned her elbow on the table and gazed at him without her sunglasses. Sev turned to her and asked, "What?"

"A mystery, my Snips! Someone is imitating you and beating up Sillyass Prat."

"Whomever it is, I wish they would admit it to it rather than using my face. Rather distressing."

"Not to mention rude not to invite us to watch."

He popped the orange slice in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. "Must be my Good Doppleganger."

"You're Good," Martis reminded him as she slipped her hand under the table to squeeze his.

"If you say that any louder, you'll destroy my reputation." He poked her shoulder with his free hand. "Bother."

She responded in kind. "Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

He cupped her chin and brought her face toward his. "Bother." He grinned. "I win."

Martis flushed and hastily shoved her sunglasses back on. "This round, Mr. Snape. Are we still on in humiliating the Hufflepuff Photographer for his part in the Calendar Conspiracy?"

"I've got the equipment from Sartoris' office."

"Goody. Once Nasty-issa is free from her drunkard's detention, we'll go after her next."

Sev smirked, delicately caressing her chin. "You're incredibly sexy when arranging vegeance."

Martis smirked in return. "Keep saying things like that, Mr. Snape, and I'll prove to you how sexy I can be."

Both chuckled and went back to their breakfast.

----------

"Made especially for you, free of charge," the Hufflepuff Photographer stated as he handed a packet to Remus Lupin.

"Thanks. You look terrible," Lupin returned.

The Photographer touched the bruise over his eye. "Accident at the Hallowe'en party - twisted my ankle and got a knee in the face. Also lost my camera."

"That's really too bad. What about the hives?"

"First time I was ever allergic to strawberries. Hope you feel better, Moony."

"Hope YOU feel better, HP."

In the hospital wing, Lupin was recovering from a bad virus (if being a werewolf counts as a bad virus) and was still quite pale and weak. Well, more than usual.

Lupin unwrapped the packet and opened up the calendar. "Lessee ... Danderfluff ... The Black Widow ... The Valkyrie ... Crescent ... Aki Mori ... a Handmaiden ... ah, Miss Britomartis!"

Red bikini top, black and white striped bikini bottom, knee-length ash-blonde hair whipping all over the place from the breezes on the lake, strong body ... curvy body, soft body ... with enormous - ! That bounced!

"Oh, Gods," he breathed softly. "To have time alone with that - my lessons from summer would not go unpracticed." He looked up at the gray clouds outside the windows. "Hopefully I can go to the Quidditch match today."

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By mid-morning, Professor McGonagall had uncovered the Slytherin Swimsuit Calendar Conspiracy and had tracked down who bought all the calendars by the cash paid for them. Approximately 450 calendars were recovered from students while the other fifty or so were confiscated from Narcissa Black and her Handmaidens.

After a thorough questioning of the Photographer, he was released with an owl sent to his parents telling of his doing such work, while Narcissa and her Handmaidens received detention and owls sent to parents. The girls featured in the calendars also had owls sent to their parents, along with the photographic proofs of what they had done.

Martis had been released from punishment due to Narcissa's admittance that she had not asked Vox's permission and Martis' objections over not getting a cut of the profit. Part of Narcissa's punishment was Martis receiving a full cut of the profits (which - in Narcissa's opinion - was almost as bad as any other punishment could possibly be.)

One calendar survived - the personally commissioned, unpaid one given to Remus Lupin by the Hufflepuff Photographer.

After all, Leonardo di Bozo may be honest, but it was not his fault that McGonagall did not ask the right questions. And after the fuss Snips and Spirals put up about being able to exact their revenge against him, he felt an owl home to his parents was quite fair (and less dangerous). However, he did lose a lot of his previous work which was deemed 'pornographic' by the faculty, so that was just another notch on a list of bad luck the past few days.

Things had to get better.

----------

The Slytherin Quidditch team walked out of the main dorm building and paused as they saw a group of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students staring up at Ravenclaw Tower.

"What's going on?" Thomas St. Claire asked.

A Beauxbatons girl (shivering only slightly in her bright blue velvet cloak) pointed up at the tower. "A 'Ouse-Elf ez keeling eetself!"

A small figure in an orange cape embroidered with the Chudley Cannons logo fell from the top of the tower, screaming on the way down. The Slytherins were slightly appalled no one was moving away so innards would not splatter on their clothes.

"Isn't someone going to catch him?" Martis asked.

"Why?" a Durmstrang girl asked as the House-Elf landed on the ground, bounced up, shouted 'Eleven!', and ran back into Ravenclaw Tower.

Demetrius Jones exchanged looks with Martis and Thomas. The Woot Brothers and Bill Kauffey were already bored and heading toward the Quidditch pitch.

"Perhaps," Fearghus Flynn suggested. "He's too stupid to know he can be killed?"

The House-Elf screamed again on his dive down.

"After all," Fearghus continued. "He IS wearing a Chudley Cannons cape."

The House-Elf landed, yelled 'Twelve!', and dashed back into the tower again.

"Do 'Ouse-Elves normally keel zemselves aroun' here?" Champion Michel de Nostradom asked.

"Not normally, no," Martis answered.

Champion Igor Karkaroff glanced back down at Martis while the House-Elf jumped again, screaming 'Geronimo!'

"Miss Vox, this is rather disturbing to witness."

"I agree, Mr. Karkaroff, but there's hardly anything we can do." The House-Elf landed again, sprang back up, shouted, 'Thirteen!', then latched onto Martis and managed to kiss her cheek without his nose poking her face.

"See ya', toots!" the House-Elf cried before racing back into the tower for another power dive to the ground.

"The game'll start without us," Jonas Kennebunk said. "Let's get going."

Martis stared up at the House-Elf as it made another dive while her teammates dragged her toward the pitch.

Well, that was certainly weird ...

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"Welcome to the opening game of the season where we have Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Flying out on the pitch is Slytherin's Quidditch team, led by current Captain and Keeper Fearghus 'The Wall' Flynn; followed by Chasers Ryan and Keith Woot, Jonas Kennebunk, and new team member Bill Kauffey; along with Slytherin's darling Britomartis 'Backbeat Spirals' Vox and newcomer Demetrius Jones as Beaters; and their champion Seeker Thomas St. Claire.

"And representing Gryffindor is Captain and Beater Jason 'Double-Handed' Tydor; new Beater Rick Volwes; tailed by Chasers Sarah Holden, new member Carrie Oustabaum, James 'Prongs' Potter, and Sirius 'Padfoot' Black; and introducing new Seeker Jennifer Maxwell.

"Madame Hooch is referee for the game and coming onto the pitch as players get into position - "

Madame Hooch looked up at the sneering and leering Sirius Black and Britomartis Vox. "Clean game, Gryffindors and Slytherins! And no destruction of Quidditch equipment this season, Vox!"

Potter and Black smirked and chuckled as Martis pursed her lips together.

The flying teacher kicked open the box.

"Madame Hooch has just released the Bludgers and the Golden Snitch - remember, the Snitch is worth one-hundred-fifty points and ends the game."

Hooch stuck her whistle in her mouth and tossed the Quaffle up in the air as she blew the whistle.

James Potter dove for the Quaffle just as the Woot Brothers did, and then both teams fell into a melee.

----------

The wind shifted and became stronger later on, blowing the Quaffle into Jonas' arms. He swept around toward Gryffindor's goals just as the drizzle hit the players and crowd.

Sev sat in the stands with Martis' sisters and their assorted significant others, cheering madly for Backbeat Spirals. The cheering seemed to be extra-loud, though, and Sev really could not place where the other voices were coming from (especially the one shouting 'Kick their asses, Professor!').

Sev pulled his hood over his head as the light rain drizzled down on them. Phaedra and Monsoor got into an argument over her being outside in her condition while the twins were busy screaming at their sister in Minoan.

The drizzle was not even soaking - it just made everything damp. The cool air and wind did not help, though, making it feel colder.

Martis performed a Backbeat Bludger play right at Sirius Black as he grabbed the Quaffle after it scored through his team hoop. He responded by zipping upward into the drizzle, then dive bombing back down at the pitch.

"Wronski Feint," Martis muttered. "Performed by a Chaser. Show off." She whistled and Bill Kauffey flew across the pitch at an angle to her -

A passing Bludger was slammed at Black again, this time knocking the Quaffle out of his grip like a cue ball into an eight ball, landing the Quaffle into Bill's arms.

Black turned and glared at her. "Smartarse snake!"

"Gullible Gryffie," she answered.

"Top-heavy tramp."

"Deutro-head." And with that, Martis sped off to cover Thomas.

Black scrunched his face up. "What the hells is a 'deutro'??"

Back up in the stands, another figure watched the female Slytherin Beater quite intently. Champion Igor Karkaroff was now studying 'Miss July' very seriously. Like every other male present at Hogwarts, he had seen the Slytherin calendar and her bull-leaping on Hallowe'en, and was most impressed with Britomartis Vox's 'exotic' beauty (not many Cretan girls ran around his neck of the woods). And the rack did not hurt, either.

Pretty, athletic, popular, the innocent princess lost in the dark woods sort, but possessing pain beneath the flippant exterior.

He also saw the Hand of Darkness upon her, just as he had seen it on that Snape boy and several other Slytherin students.

She was One of Them, and was not aware of it.

The concept of 'unknown darkness' was intriguing ... it made her beauty all the more fragile, her Light all the more appealing ... the girl all the more desirable.

"I will claim her," Igor murmured aloud.

One of his fellow students glanced at the pitch, following his classmate's eyes. "Another one?"

"New type, Vladimir."

Vladimir smirked. "This one will not be so pliant to your whims."

"Then I need the challenge for once."

Thomas St. Claire snagged the Snitch; Slytherin shrieked in victory while the rest of the school stared at the scoreboards in awe.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Slytherin has caught the Snitch, but it appears - for the first time in nearly four hundred years - the First Game has ended in a tie." The student commentator was silent a moment as McGonagall and Penderdandis spoke with him. "And I had just been informed by the Heads of Houses Gryffindor and Slytherin that the tie will not be broken today, since they do not have the necessary authorization to perform the Professional Quidditch League's own tie-breaker." The roar from the crowd blended anger and confusion into a hiss. "However! I have been informed that next weekend will host a mini-match between the teams to break the tie by official PQL rules. So, come back next week for the conclusion of Gryffindor versus Slytherin!"

Students grumbled as they left the stands and the Quidditch teams offered each other handshakes out of respect; a few members from each side promised to break the others' necks next weekend, but generally the let-down of no clear winner shaded any excitement and desire to party.

The Slytherin Quidditch team quietly walked back to the castle, the drizzle soaking their robes and plastering their hair to their faces; Sev linked his hand into Martis' as both entered the school.

"You were still magnificent, Spirals," Sev commented.

"Thanks, Snips," Martis replied, leaning against him. "But all I want now is a hot shower and dry clothes."

"I'll get some cocoa heated up for you." Sev turned his head a little (she was only an inch shorter than him now) and kissed her ear through her hair, whispering against it, "And perhaps some recreational cuddling ..."

"Depends on how recreational it gets, darling Snips. Should I wear panties or chocolate sauce?"

Both giggled, not bothering to continue with the line of flirting. (Perhaps out of fear where it may lead ... both were beginning to have an idea of why Slytherin post-game parties had numerous protection spells going off. Neither was going to admit they knew, though.)

Martis broke off from Sev in the common room and climbed up the stairs to the girls' dorms. She was exhausted, cold, wet, and all she really wanted was hot liquids and warm cuddling. Images of herself and Sev lying on the couch and his arms around her filled her head.

She unlaced her Quidditch robe and entered her empty room, flinging the robe on top of her trunk. She quickly stripped out of her sweater and began working on unstrapping her armor.

The door squeaked open and a girl's voice suddenly cried out behind her: "STUPEFY!"

Everything went black.

----------

Sev glanced at the clock in the common room. It had been nearly an hour, and Martis should have been done with her shower and dressing at thirty-five minutes (yes, he had timed it). Although he really did not blame her for wanting to stay under a warm shower after flying around in that cold and drizzle.

Still, it had been a while ... He got up from the armchair and hesitantly made his way toward the staircase of the girls' dorms.

A House-Elf in a perfectly cut under-uniform and a Slytherin robe appeared before him on the staircase. "Headmas- I mean, Mr. Snape! You have to rescue her!"

"Beg pardon?" Sev asked.

"Britomartis Vox has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner, you lump! You need to rescue her firm butt!" The House-Elf leered. "Of course, if you don't want to rescue her firm butt, I'm sure other things can be arranged - "

Sev picked up the House-Elf. "Who are you? Why aren't you speaking like a normal House-Elf??"

The House-Elf swatted him with a stick that looked suspiciously like an extra-long wand, making Sev drop him. "Your woman's in danger, you modo! Why bother with pointless trivia? Your woman's being menaced by a dragon, so drop your stones and save her like a Man, you goit!"

"Where's Martis?"

"The Forbidden Forest, smeghead. With a dragon."

Sev picked up the House-Elf again by the back of the robe and carried him out the door with him. "You better be right, you foul little pixie-putz, or I'll feed you to that monster owl in the Owlery."

"Stupid ponce," the House-Elf muttered to himself. "I OWN that owl."

----------

Martis felt consciousness snap into her brain and she fluttered her eyes open.

She stared up through canopies of skeletal tree limbs and into the cloudy, drizzling sky; she squinted at the light, knowing her sunglasses were nowhere around. She looked to her right and her left, seeing more trees. She looked down at herself.

"CENSORED," she remarked.

She was dressed in a sheer white gown which the drizzle had plastered to her body. Over the gown were thin ropes (obviously spell-made) binding her down to a flat stone.

A rush of warm, fetid air fell over her body and she twisted her head around to look behind.

A Hibernian Black Dragon sat quietly behind her head, looking down at her expectantly.

Martis felt her heart stop for a beat, then beat double when it resumed.

She had once stared face to face with a manticore when she was younger, which earned respect from that individual beast. However, dragons were much different than manticores. Lower intelligence, more instincts, and a metabolism that required LOTS and LOTS of fuel ... and digestive processes that could handle anything from oatmeal to limestone. Not to mention there were teeth and jaws to match.

But the way it sat docilely and gazed at her. It gave Martis an opportunity to stare back at the creature.

Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but she could swear that the scales around the eyes were shaded to look like glasses. And the eyes themselves were much more intelligent.

Martis lay her head back down and she closed her eyes. She had to think of how to get out of this. How long had she been 'out' anyway? Snips would try to find her ...

If this was not some sort of elaborate way to seduce her.

Nonsense. If he wanted to, all Sev had to say was 'Wench, be in the conversation room in ten minutes wearing chocolate sauce and a cherry!' and she would respond with an understated 'Yes, master.' She thought they were comfortable enough to not have to go through these silly teenage methods.

Although ... it concerned her where he may have gotten the dragon.

----------

Sev trampled through the Forbidden Forest, being careful to keep his balance as he hauled the House-Elf with him while he picked his way over rocks and tree roots.

"Where is this mighty dragon, Elf?"

The House-Elf turned his head to look at Sev. "Your class-consciousness slipped, Snape."

"You'll get a vial of Screaming Steams up your nose if you don't answer ... me ..."

Sev paused, finding a scene ripped from a Muggle fantasy novel - the damsel in distress tied up on an altar stone while a dragon stood over her.

Except the damsel in distress happened to be Martis in a very sheer, clingy gown that showed EVERYTHING (or at least the parts that were different colors from the rest of her) and the dragon was a Hibernian Black.

"Martis??" Sev called, dropping the House-Elf.

"Snips!" Martis yelled back. "What's going on?"

"That's a dragon." Sev gazed at the beast again. "That's really a dragon!"

The House-Elf snorted. "No duh, Lord Darcy."

"I can't handle a real dragon," Sev told him. "I'll have to get the Headmaster - "

"Severus!" Martis yelled.

The House-Elf grabbed the hem of Sev's robe. "Oh, no you don't, buddy! There's no time! That's a famished, ugly, smelly, foul-tempered, evil, stupid, nasty, PMS-ing - "

The dragon snorted in what sounded like offense, then leaned her neck down to Martis and open her mouth over the girl's body. Martis squirmed against the ropes and whimpered.

Sev whipped around, his wand falling down his sleeve and into his hand, and he shouted, "EXSILIUM!"

Nothing happened. The dragon looked up at him. The House-Elf took the opportunity to disappear.

"All right," Sev breathed. "Not magically-created." He raised his wand again. "ANIMUS EXCESSUM!!!"

The dragon cocked her head, then roared, blowing his braid straight back.

"Martis!" Sev cried in panic. "Do something!"

"DO WHAT???" she shrieked. "I'M THE CENSORED INGENUE!!!"

The dragon darted her tongue out, then snapped down toward Martis -

Martis screamed.

Sev - filled with adrenaline - dashed up to the face of the dragon and struck his ebony wand against the large snout. "Keep away from her, you - !"

The dragon squinted and snapped her jaw toward him as he placed himself between her and Martis.

"Get through me first, beast!"

He raised his arms in a haymaker and slammed his fists down on the snout - the dragon pulled back and he took the moment to point his wand and yell, "DRACONIS QUIESCO!!!"

The dragon staggered back, landing on her back, then jerked and shuddered for a long moment before finally settling down into the Dragon Sleep Spell.

Sev panted, staring at the beast, until Martis finally said, "Snips, I'm cold and wet and tied up - let's get out of here."

Sev turned to her and banished the rope spell. She clutched him in a hug, laying her head on his shoulder. "Severus, what the Avernus happened?"

"I don't know," he said, feeling every single part of her body pressing against his as he wrapped his arms around her. "But I only put that dragon to sleep and I don't know when it's going to wake up."

"Then we have to tell the Headmaster." She looked up at him, her arms still around his neck. "Thank you."

A sound made them both look over at the dragon. For a moment, they could have both sworn that she was looking at them, and then had put her head back down as if to feign sleep.

"This is weird," Sev said. He released her and pulled his robe off, draping it around her. He sniffed the air. "What's that smell?"

"Besides the dragon?" Martis asked, also sniffing.

"Smells like ... cinnamon."

Martis sniffed harder, pulling the robe closer around her body. "I don't smell anything, Snips. Come on, let's get out of here. I am thoroughly and utterly disgusted by someone kidnapping me and dressing me up like some stupid helpless princess!"

Sev narrowed his eyes at the sleeping dragon which seemed to be snoring in an exaggerated fashion.

"They didn't even let me keep my underwear!"

The snoring stopped a second, and then resumed full force.

Sev's mind was too busy clicking away to notice what Martis was ranting about as he placed his arm protectively around her and lead her out of the forest.

A House-Elf, a dragon, Martis tied up and wearing sheer clothes, and that odd smell - which followed them as they walked away from the scene.

"My ancestors are rolling in their tombs!" Martis cried. "How could I allow it?? I couldn't even see who cast the Stun Charm on me - "

An intentional kidnapping, as well.

As they left the woods, Sev leaned close and sniffed Martis -

"Snips??"

"You're covered with a potion," he stated. "Cinnamon smelling, too, which means it was a fertility potion."

"A WHAT???" Martis gasped.

"A fertility potion," Sev repeated matter-of-factly. "Someone was trying to make you fertile."

Martis clutched her arms around her waist and lowered her head, her long hair curtaining her face. A second later, a sob escaped, followed by, "Why??"

"Certainly not the dragon," Sev remarked as they approached the school's main entry. "It was a female Hibernian." He narrowed his eyes and held her closer. "So who would gain by fertilizing a Third-Year student?"

Martis stopped and clutched him, her tears leaking faster. "I feel sick, I feel sick, I feel sick ... "

Sev finally realized what he was saying; he was sounding so clinical about it! She was kidnapped and doused with fertility potion! She could have been raped while she was unconscious!

He scooped her up in his arms and carried her the rest of the way to the hospital wing, disrupting Madame Pomfrey while she was in the process of sending Remus Lupin out.

"Madame Pomfrey," Sev stated, rushing into the infirmary and taking Martis to a bed. "Do - whatever you do to check female students for rape."

Madame Pomfrey's eyes widened just as Lupin turned as white as a sheet. "I beg your pardon, Mr. Snape??" she asked.

"Somebody kidnapped Martis and covered her with a fertility potion," Sev explained, arranging the sobbing girl on the bed. "Not to mention placed a dragon over her." He brushed ash-blonde hair from her face. "I need you to check to make sure she wasn't violated before I was able to find her."

Madame Pomfrey's starched skirts rustled as she strode to the bed, her wand appearing in her hand as she psychically examined the distraught girl. "How do you know about a fertility potion being involved?"

"I can smell it. In fact, it's the same potion used by Wizard farmers on their livestock."

"I can't smell it."

"I can," Lupin added. "Aren't only males able to smell it but females aren't?"

"Exactly," Sev confirmed. "And from my studies, I found it can also be used on humans with the same results. The scent is individual to each species and is meant to entice the male of the species to breed - human males smell cinnamon, which activates those centers in the brain." He knelt next to the bed, his face level with Martis' as she covered her face and pulled herself into a fetal knot. "Her Time begins within two days, which means she was last fertile about twelve days ago. This potion would have made her fertile again within an hour of application."

Lupin shot Sev an accusing look. "How do you know when her Cycles are?"

Sev did not look at him. "I have to protect myself from the mood swings."

Pomfrey lifted her wand up. "Untouched. She hasn't been violated in any way, save for a Stun Charm and Enervate Spell placed on her." She gazed at Sev. "A dragon was involved, you say?"

"Yes. A Hibernian Black."

"Report this to the Headmaster then - the password is 'pineapple upside-down cake'. I'll be too busy looking after her to call him myself. Mr. Lupin, you've been dismissed."

Both boys left the infirmary. Lupin glanced at Sev, seeing the Slytherin's aura fuming scarlet with anger. Lupin was also upset, but his reaction was wanting to go back into the infirmary and sit by Miss Britomartis' side until she healed from this 'attack'. And ... perhaps ... she would reach to him for comfort ...

Sev suddenly slammed Lupin against the stone wall, his wand against Lupin's throat. "Which one of you bastards did this to her?"

Lupin gulped, coming back to his surroundings and feeling the tip of Sev's wand dig into his Adam's Apple. "I've been sick all this time, Snape, I don't know anything about this."

"Liar!"

"Snape, I'm being honest!"

Sev leaned close, his wand tip now pointing directly at the Gryffindor's eye and his hand around his throat. "I know you've wanted her - "

"Snape, I would NEVER do ANYTHING like this to Miss Britomartis! I'd rather rip my eyes out than hurt her!"

"If you want your eyes ripped out - "

"DAMN IT, SNAPE, USE YOUR HEAD! Pomfrey wouldn't cover for me, would she?!"

Sev paused, and then released him. "You might not have had anything to do with it, Lupin. MIGHT. If any of you bastards are even peripherally involved, I'll disembowel the lot of you!"

As Sev stalked away, Lupin wondered what 'peripherally' meant.

----------

Sev continued to sweep down the halls of Hogwarts towards the Headmaster's office, fuming and thinking.

If she had not been violated while she was unconscious, then that meant that the kidnapper was not the one who intended to impregnate her.

The Gryffindorks were only circumstantial suspects then. He knew Lupin out of all of them expressed interest in his Martis, but he also had to admit that none of them could have acquired a dragon.

Then what of Lucius Malfoy? By rumor, Sev had heard the Malfoy family had 'connections'. Acquiring a dragon and fertility potion would be easy for him. Hells, considering the stunts Malfoy pulled last year, this would have been right up his alley.

But Martis had not been violated, and from what she had told Sev about Lucius' courtship of her, he would have fully taken advantage of her while she was unconscious if they currently did not hate each other.

However, Lucius Malfoy was still a suspect. Narcissa Black, too, taking into account the results of McGonagall making her pay Martis back for the calendar fiasco.

And what about that House-Elf who did not talk like a House-Elf? No referencing to himself in the third-person, outright calling Sev names (which Sev understood only half of - who was Lord Darcy?), and the creep's whole attitude was quite un-House-Elf-like. He wore a Slytherin robe, for Gods' sakes!

If the House-Elf fetching him was part of the kidnapper's plan, then that would make Sev part of the equation.

Sev paused in the hallway, gripping the sill of a window. "Oh, Gods."

The kidnapper wanted HIM to impregnate her.

Well, THAT theory made sense - why Martis was dressed and tied up like some damn ingénue from a gothic romance novel, why she was covered with fertility potion, why he was easily able to quiet down a Hibernian which was obviously trained.

He resumed his walk.

Some idiot with a melodramatic imagination was trying to get them together and make them reproduce!

Who?

The twins? Adonia and Artemisia constantly joked about leaving them alone and getting them together and everything else. Artemisia was a pretty fair potions student and could have brewed up the fertility potion. Could Adonia find a way to get a dragon? Had to think about that.

Evan Ryper?

No. Ryper was pretty much leaving them alone on that, although the Seventh-Year's teasing was annoying. Ryper had no motive.

Fallon O'Shanahan?

No again. The idea of an eleven-year-old masterminding all this was ludicrous. Also no motive.

The Headmaster?

Sev paused again, already standing before the gargoyle to the Headmaster's office.

So what would Dumbledore gain by doing this? The old codger would have enjoyed the melodrama. He knew about them being close and had implied he fully expected them to 'mature together'. And the potion and dragon would have been trivial matters to attain. After all, he was Albus Dumbledore, the most powerful White Wizard in Europe.

Sev stared at the gargoyle, and then snarled, "PINEAPPLE-UPSIDE-DOWN-CAKE!"

The gargoyle almost seemed to jump out of the way, as if in terror. He stepped upon the moving stairs, fingering the wand inside his sleeve. He was going to make the old man talk, either by spell or by violence.

It was insane ... how could he challenge the Headmaster?

When his Martis had been hurt, nobody was safe from his wrath.

Sev stepped into Dumbledore's office just as the Headmaster looked up from his desk.

"Severus -" Dumbledore began.

Sev pointed his wand at the old wizard. "WHAT THE HELLS WERE YOU THINKING???"

The eyes did not waver behind the half-moon glasses. "I was just thinking that I would like some lemon tarts and tea - care to join me, Mr. Snape?"

Sev narrowed his eyes. "Tell me why you wanted me to get Martis pregnant."

"I beg your pardon, Severus?"

"The doubled-damned FERTILITY POTION, you old pillock!!!"

"Mind explaining to me what happened?" Dumbledore closed his book. "And I'll get some divinity for you as well."

Sev lowered the wand slightly and explained.

----------

After a half-hour of explanation and questioning, Dumbledore summoned Cleopatra the Security Witch, Hagrid, and Professors Kettleburn and McElwain to his office.

"Go into the Forbidden Forest at this - " he indicated a sketched drawing " - location. According to Mr. Snape, there should be a dragon and an altar stone there. See what you can find."

Hagrid nodded. "Don' worry, Professor Dumbledore-sir, we kin take care of any little ol' dragons."

McElwain looked puzzled. "You expect Dark Arts, sir?"

Dumbledore nodded. "Possibility. Be alert. A girl student was assaulted in that location."

The three men nodded and left the office. Cleopatra paused a moment and stated, "If a student was assaulted, then I need to know everything you saw, Mr. Snape."

Sev opened his mouth, but she shook her head. "Not what you think you saw, but what you actually saw. Ever use a Pensieve, Mr. Snape?"

"Is a Pensieve necessary, Miss Cleopatra?" Dumbledore asked.

"Either that or Veritaserum, but the situation calls for a Pensieve. There may be clues that he may have overlooked in his panic."

Sev regarded the witch through narrow eyes. "No."

She shrugged. "Fine, have it your way, kid. You know where my office is." She mumbled something incoherent on her way out.

Dumbledore turned back to Sev. "I will have to inform Britomartis' family of what happened."

Sev nodded miserably. "I still don't know who would want to do this."

"It does indeed sound like someone had planned on you rescuing Britomartis and ... claiming a 'Hero's Reward' for the rescue. But I'm quite sure whoever did it will see that their plan failed."

"Damn right it did! They'd have to be sick - " Sev silenced, his eyes widening."Is there anything else you need from me, sir?"

"No, Severus. You've told me all you know. We'll handle it now." He smiled slightly. "Go take care of her, Son."

"Thank you, sir."

Sev got up and left the Headmaster's office, quickly making his way down to the dungeons.

----------

Professor Sejanus Sartoris had been a wreck the past two days. He had not been himself (or rather, had been himself as he was without daily cocaine boosts) because his master had been breathing down his neck nearly every second. Who the hells had been saying the Dark Lord's name without fear??

He nearly jumped out of his skin when the door to his office slammed open and his prized student Severus Snape strode into the room, his black eyes blazing and his face white with fury.

"Master Sn- URK!"

Sev's wand had snapped up under the old man's chin. "You - sick - bastard," Sev growled. "We will NOT breed for you OR my father OR your damned Dark Lord! You CENSORED keep Martis out of this Darkness, you sick freak! I don't care HOW you got the CENSORED dragon, but pouring fertility potion all over her CROSSED OVER THE CENSORED LINE!!" He jabbed the wand tip higher. "Keep your filthy, rotten, Dark, perverse, drug-addled hands OFF her, Sartoris! So help me, I will shred you, body and soul -"

Sartoris had wet himself at this point and began babbling. Out of the babble, Sev finally understood that Sartoris had no idea what he was talking about.

Sev grunted, disgusted with his Potions Master. "Partially spared, you boot-licking worm." Sev's wand slipped back into his sleeve and he frowned. "Take some cocaine or something; your withdrawal is showing."

Sev slammed the office door loudly behind him as he left.

Out of the shadows, Lord Voldemort appeared.

"I like that child ..." the Dark Lord murmured, rubbing his chin delicately. "Has greater potential than his father admits." He kicked at the Potions Master. "Stop whimpering, Sartoris. If a Fifth-Year student frightens you, you have no right to be called my follower!"

Sartoris groaned.

----------

By dinner, everyone knew Severus Snape had been on the warpath, but none knew exactly why. All that was know was that Martis Vox had been checked into the hospital wing and Sev was raving about dragons; the fact the Marauders were still alive was worrisome to the student population at large.

After dinner, he had found Artemisia and Adonia Vox in one of the hallway niches, arguing. As Sev approached, they quieted and gazed at him.

"You did this, didn't you?" he stated simply.

"What?" Artemisia asked.

"The dragon, the fertility potion, and kidnapping your sister." He leaned close to them, his nostrils flaring and his black eyes becoming fathomless pits of darkness. "I know your motive, too. Although I expected you to be less melodramatic about getting me to breed your sister than this."

"We know nothing about any dragon," Adonia stated, glaring toward the wall. "And frankly, Snape, we do not think breeding has to be part of the deal, just some good old sweaty gooey - URK!"

Adonia suddenly doubled over, unable to speak. Artemisia turned to Sev and said, "Severus, calm down!"

"Admit to it!" Sev demanded, raising his wand at them. "You have the motive and the means to do it! Your sister had a breakdown because of what happened!"

"MISTER Snape," a woman's voice intimated.

Sev turned his head, seeing Cleopatra standing next to them with her arms crossed. "Don't stop me - I know it was them!"

She rolled her eyes and stepped up to him, invading his 'space'. "Mr. Snape, you are wanted in the Headmaster's office ... now."

Sev snarled and inched his wand up at the wide-eyed twins.

"Now," Cleopatra repeated.

Sev snorted in disgust and put his wand away. "I'll finish this later." He followed Cleopatra.

Adonia managed to stand back up and muttered to the air, "Happy, children? You managed to piss off the most dangerous student in the entire school!"

From the air, a girl's voice replied with, "In YOUR time."

----------

Cleopatra escorted Sev to the office, not even touching him, but allowing her aura to flare hot enough for him to feel her guiding him.

"And why am I the one being punished?" Sev groused.

Cleopatra laughed. "What makes you think a summons is a punishment, Mr. Snape?" She turned her head toward him and smirked, her short-cropped green hair shimmering in the torch light of the hallways. "My Headmaster was a much nastier, more sour, and more stubborn old bastard than Dumbledore here."

"My condolences," Sev muttered absently.

"Like hell - the Headmaster was my grandfather, may his scary soul rest in peace." She turned back. "Count your blessings, Snape, that Dumbledore is completely and utterly on your side in this matter."

"He should be; Martis was - " He looked up at her as they stepped up on the gargoyle's stairs and she incanted the password."Did you find anything out there?"

"That's what we're going to talk about," she answered as the stairs rose to the Headmaster's office.

They entered the room. Fawkes was craning his neck to see what Dumbledore, McElwain, Kettleburn, and Hagrid were looking at around the desk.

"I got the boy," Cleopatra announced, smirking as if at a private joke. "He was up to accusing the victim's sisters of setting up the dragon."

"They have a motive," Sev informed them. He approached the desk. "Have you found out who did it and where they sleep?"

Dumbledore adjusted his half-moon glasses. "Severus, good of you to join us. Professors Kettleburn and McElwain did indeed find evidence of a dragon."

"Probably still smelled like it."

Professor Kettleburn cleared his throat. "Not so much, actually. But we did find scales and prints."

Cleopatra sprawled into an armchair, her russet robe settling around her and showing off leather pants, heavy boots, blue lace-up bodice, and a white ruffled shirt beneath. "I was able to determine what happened by the prints present - the number of set prints belong to six individuals - counting you and Miss Vox - or seven if we include the dragon. I can account for you and Miss Vox, since you wear a size eight school issue boy's shoe, and Miss Vox was barefoot. The other prints consisted of a size six school issue boy's shoe, a size five school issue Mary Jane, a size ten pair of Doc Martens - "

"Doctor who?" Professor McElwain asked.

"Gotta love those Time Lords, eh?" Cleopatra sniggered. "Those are a type of Muggle shoe, a heavy work boot - keep with the program, McElwain." She continued, "And a pair of prints from a school issue boy's shoe about toddler size."

"Toddler size?" Sev repeated. "I doubt the First-Years are that small."

"They aren't. They were worn by a House-Elf. His whole body was imprinted in the ground."

"I had dropped him when I saw the dragon," Sev explained. "But now that you mention it, the House-Elf was wearing a school uniform with a Slytherin robe."

"Complete with shoes, too. Anyway, it looks like the size six and size ten had carried Miss Vox while the girl size five had lead the two from the direction of the castle, in fact. The sizes six, ten, and toddler had hidden themselves inside the roots of one of the trees - and judging by the disturbance of grass and dirt - they were covered with some sort of material."

"But I didn't see any lumps of material," Sev objected.

"Might be an Invisibility Cloak," Kettleburn suggested.

"May I continue?" Cleopatra glared. "The dragon is the interesting part of this little dance - there is absolutely no evidence of a dragon coming in or going out."

Sev gazed at her. He stated, "What."

"Plenty of evidence that a dragon was thrashing about that area," Kettleburn added. "Trees, grass, mud, shedded scales, prints - everything states that a dragon was obviously there." He paused. "But there's nothing denoting a dragon presence going in or out of that area where the altar stone is."

"What about the altar stone, then?" Sev asked.

McElwain cleared his throat this time. "It belongs to the Centaurs; the location of it suggests it was used for Spring rituals, so it being this close to Midwinter would have it abandoned." He looked down at his notebook. "My investigation into its recent use corresponds to Miss Vox's part in this - I found strands of her hair on the stone as well as residue of a potion that seems to have been poured over her -"

"The fertility potion," Sev confirmed.

"I thought that was cloves I smelled," Hagrid commented.

"Cinnamon," McElwain remarked.

Hagrid blushed, shuffling a little. "Same thin' ter me."

Cleopatra smirked. "To continue, the prints leading out were the boys' sizes six, ten, and toddler, and the girl's size five, along with yours and Miss Vox's. No prints of a dragon leaving."

"Maybe it flew out," Sev suggested.

"No reports of dragons flying around here," Kettleburn informed him. "The Dragon Watch always keeps an eye open for that."

Sev was silent a moment, then asked, "Where was the girl ... size five ... during all this? With the other three?"

McElwain and Kettleburn looked uneasily at each other, and Hagrid looked at the floor. Cleopatra answered, "We don't know."

Kettleburn was about to say something, but Cleopatra glared at him in a way that made the Gryffindor House Father quail.

Sev lowered his eyes, and then looked back up at the Headmaster. "I want to do the Pensieve."

McElwain and Kettleburn looked even more confused.

"Are you sure, Severus?" Dumbledore asked.

Sev set his jaw. "Martis is having a breakdown in the infirmary because of this - I want their heads!"

"Should we be witnessin' this, Professor Dumbledore-sir?" Hagrid asked.

"You've done all you could," Dumbledore addressed the rest of the faculty. "You may go back to your business. Thank you for your work in this." He raised his hand as the assembled adults began to leave. "Miss Cleopatra, please stay."

Cleopatra plopped back down in the armchair and snapped her flying goggles off, twirling them in her hand. "Any particular reason you want me present during this, sir?"

"If - with Severus' permission - I would like for you to study his Pensieve to see what he had seen but not noticed."

He looked at Sev. The fifteen-year-old nodded resolutely.

Dumbledore got up and reached into a cabinet, pulling out a shallow stone bowl with runes and markings around the lip. "A more advanced spell than you'll learn in regular classes," the Headmaster commented as he placed the bowl on the desk. He swished his wand and a sliver of light slithered from Sev's head and down into the bowl.

Sev watched as his 'memory' shifted and writhed inside the bowl; he could remember that he knew what had happened, but it seemed more like his imagination was making up the details of a story he was told as he tried to remember. Odd.

"Miss Cleopatra?"

The security witch pulled herself out of the armchair and peered into the Pensieve. After a moment, she looked up and commented, "Mr. Snape, perhaps you should go first. You will witness the events with a clarity otherwise lost to you. Afterwards, with your permission, I shall attempt it."

Sev nodded in grim thanks. Familiar with the theory of Legilmency, he had an idea of what he should do. Stepping forward, he bent over and plunged his face into the bowl.

It was odd, watching the events unfold again, but now as if he were an invisible phantom witness rather than a participant. But Miss Cleopatra was correct - it was much clearer now from this detached perspective.

He lifted his head, a furrow of puzzlement on his brow.

"Anything noteworthy, Mr. Snape?" the Security Witch asked.

"Yes," he said. "The dragon's markings were ... unnatural. The scales atop its head were of a reddish color, and there were definite black patterns around the eyes, like glasses. And on the left breast was a crest-shaped patch of scales that were clearly a badger in defensive stance in yellow - a Hufflepuff badge." He sat down, becoming more intense. "And it was definitely faking being affected by my spells. It was behaving ... rationally. Acting."

"A Seeming of some sort?" Dumbledore pondered. "Someone or something enchanted into a faux-dragon?"

"Then explain the scales," Sev rebutted. "Those would have faded if it were merely a Seeming."

"Then what do you suggest?" Cleopatra asked.

"I suggest we take the trail of clues to the next location." Sev got up and headed for the door. "Hufflepuff House."

Dumbledore took off his glasses and cleaned them as Sev left the office out of earshot. "Accompany him, Miss Cleopatra. But stay ... discreetly out of his path."

Cleopatra raised an eyebrow. "Surely you don't suspect -"

"Of course not - WE know who did this. But the Hufflepuffs need a bit of shaking up every now and again." He put his glasses back on. "Just make sure he doesn't permanently harm anyone."

With an oddly-familiar smirk, Cleopatra nodded and set off after the boy.

----------

The raid on House Hufflepuff did indeed shake up the honest and true students of Hogwarts.

The entry of Cleopatra went unnoticed, but the flash of light from Sev's wand to get everyone's attention was noticed by everyone.

"Was that necessary?" Cleopatra rhetorically asked Sev as he strode into the Hufflepuff common room.

"Where is it??" Sev demanded.

"What?" Prefect Athena Goldstein asked. "And why are you here?"

"The bloody dragon, you amoebic dysentery!" Sev stalked around the room; First and Second-Year girls whimpered and hid behind the furniture while the older students pressed themselves back. "It was wearing a Hufflepuff badge! Now, where is the dragon?!"

Everyone stared at him, so he waved his wand at the Prefect and suspended her upside down over the stone floor. She tried desperately to keep her skirt from falling down as Snape shouted at her: "You'll talk - tell me, Goldstein, who here controls or had been in control or had been transfigured into a dragon? Who here knows how to make Dark Art potions and has made them? And who here thought it would be funny to kidnap Martis Vox??" He sneered into her upside down face. "Tell me EVERYTHING, Goldstein, and none of that 'you didn't ask the right questions' crap."

Athena Goldstein burst into tears.

Sev snarled. "If you don't tell me, I'll just kill you now and go on to the next until I've gone through all you self-righteous bastards!"

Cleopatra was impressed. "Now I know where it started," she murmured to herself. "It's genetic predisposition."

By this time, Professor Sprout had hustled into the common room and demanding to know what had been going on.

Sev turned to her. "Ask your charges, Professor," he stated coldly. "Ask them about the dragon, the kidnapping, and the Dark Arts they've been engaging in."

"That's ridiculous!" she huffed. "Not MY House!"

"Nevertheless," Cleopatra stated. "A student was kidnapped, nearly fed to a dragon, and Dark Arts were involved - and all evidence points to Hufflepuff House." Cleopatra swung her yellow scarf over her shoulder. "Perhaps you would like to do your own investigation, Professor?"

"Indeed," Sprout retorted.

"No," Sev stated, still sneering at the upside down Prefect. "I'm not through questioning them!"

Cleopatra nonchalantly raised her arm, her wand appearing from under her sleeve and strapped to her wrist. With the incantation of "Petrificus Totalus", Sev's body locked up and he fell face-first to the floor. She casually picked him up and turned back to the House Mistress. "I'll be back for a report tomorrow.'Night."

Cleopatra carried Sev out into the hallway and lifted the curse on him. He turned to her, his braid whipping around, as his wand pointed between her brows. "Don't EVER do that to me again, bitch!"

"You weren't leaving any time soon and you weren't supposed to kill anyone." She continued down the corridor.

"You didn't allow me to," Sev grumbled.

"Come on," she snickered. "I'll take a look in the Pensieve, and then we'll go to my office and draw up a list of suspects."

"You think this is funny, don't you?"

"Me? Of course not. I think how you're going about it is funny - teenage male, nothing but testosterone, threatening everyone left and right for hurting his woman."

"She's not 'my woman'."

"No, just the woman you're going to spend the rest of your life with."

Sev looked up at Cleopatra, blinking. Her profile now looked even more familiar, but he still could not place it.

Other things to worry about, like who was trying to mess with their heads.

----------

By the time Sev and Cleopatra got to her office, she had looked into the Pensieve and gathered up a late supper from the kitchens. She threw her scarf and goggles onto her desk, settled behind it in her chair and indicated Sev to sit before it, as she opened the basket of supper.

"All righty, Snape, we've got a long evening ahead of us." She sniffed at the sandwich, mumbled 'Ham sarny', and then took a bite. "Needs chutney."

"How can you eat at a time like this?"

"We need fuel to hunt people down, Boy Wonder." She pushed a sandwich in front of him. "Eat up." She picked up a notebook with her other hand and continued chomping into her sandwich. "All right, we've got all of Hufflepuff House as suspects, along with half of Slytherin, a quarter of Gryffindor, three members of Ravenclaw, and various numbers from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons."

"Plus the Headmaster and a fifth of the teaching staff." He picked off a piece of crust from his sandwich and absently chewed on it. "And do you know if Mr. Hagrid has access to a dragon?"

Cleopatra's face blossomed into a dreamy smile. "Of the many unusual things Hagrid has access to, a dragon is not among them."

Sev raised his finger to retort, then gazed at her and commented, "You know, you looked just like every single Vox I know when they get that expression. Are you related?"

"Distantly," she answered. "But that's for you to know and me never to tell you."

Sev was puzzled for a moment, and then returned to the topic at hand. "Clues center around two pairs of boys' school issue shoes, a pair of Muggle work shoes, a girl's pair of school issue Mary Janes, one House-Elf that did not talk or dress or act like a House-Elf, one dragon that did not leave or enter the forest, at least a vial's worth of fertility potion residue, a sheer nightgown, suspicious marks on the dragon itself ... MMRPH!"

Cleopatra had stuffed part of her sandwich in his mouth. "You're starved and we still don't have any concrete suspects."

Sev chewed and swallowed the food. "Give me an hour, and they'll be in concrete."

She giggled, digging into a bowl of mashed potatoes. "And who would be in the concrete, Boy Wonder?"

Sev surrendered and began eating a sandwich. "Narcissa Black -"

"Has an alibi."

"Lucius Malfoy -"

"Also has an alibi - in detention with Narcissa."

"James Potter -"

"Alibi - was in the Gryffindor common room after the game."

"Sirius Black -"

"Alibi - also in the Gryffindor common room during that time."

"Peter Pettigrew -"

"Alibi - he was on the bog."

"I didn't want to know that." He picked up his train of thought, "Remus Lupin -"

"You saw his alibi - in the infirmary."

Sev narrowed his eyes. "I see him staring at her chest."

Cleopatra smirked. "Just like the mythological Goddess she was named after ... desired by all men."

Sev cleared his throat. "I still suspect Dumbledore."

"Dumbledore's harmless. He might get a kick out of the dragon, but he won't use fertility potion ... that would be cheating." She pursed her lips. "I understand you had a talking to with Sartoris as well."

Sev looked down, slowly chewing. "Sartoris is the type. I also suspect Martis' sisters."

"You and I both know the twins and Phaedra are as upset about it as you are; they want to strangle the persons who did it as well." Cleopatra's chill smirk made him quite uncomfortable. "However, there is another suspect that is worth questioning."

"Who?"

"Yourself."

Sev snapped his head up and stared at her. "What?"

Cleopatra shrugged. "Any outsider would have suspected you first and foremost - after all, everyone knows you are madly in love with Miss Vox and would do anything to get you both out of the influence of your families - including getting her pregnant and invoking the marriage laws. Not to mention there's your ... talents ... with the Dark Arts?"

His wand appeared as soon as her wrist-wand was exposed.

"You think I orchestrated this??" Sev exclaimed. "I am not that sick! If I really wanted to get her pregnant I would have told her directly and not go through this damn charade of dragons and House-Elves and Muggle shoes!" He climbed up on her desk like a panther stalking prey. "Don't you DARE accuse me of pulling this puerile crap that would hurt her!"

Cleopatra lowered her wrist from his chest. "Mr. Snape, I am demonstrating the flaws in your investigative technique. Using your methods, you yourself are the most likely suspect. I fully expect you to burst into Phaedra Patil's room and accuse her fetus next!" She affected an air of mock-concentration. "Hmmm ... maybe that's where they hid the dragon ..."

Much to his credit, Sev snorted and backed down, lowering his wand as he sat back in his seat. "What do you suggest, as head of security?"

"Allow me to investigate the event and I'll give you first crack at busting their heads open."

Sev smirked. "Officially, the Headmaster will not sanction it."

"But I wouldn't know how you found out who did it, right? After all, I'm just a lowly security witch - not a highly-trained Auror."

Sev slipped his wand back into his sleeve. "I've a feeling you are more highly trained than that, Miss Cleopatra."

"I've a feeling you're right, Mr. Snape." She smiled cutely. "Meanwhile, you get to bed and get some sleep. I'll keep you updated on my investigation."

Sev nodded and got up. "Thank you."

"Most welcome."

Sev left the office and Cleopatra leaned back in her chair, rubbing her temples. "If I ever get ahold of those children, I'm going to spank them so hard their bums are going to shine."

----------

The night passed quietly. Sev slept fitfully, waking twice from nightmares in which the dragon ate Martis before he could save her, then only once when he dreamed of Martis accusing him of humiliating her just so he could take advantage of her...

His eyes snapped open and he stared at the ceiling of his green canopy. Silver morning light seeped in between the curtains and the Quidditch players' snoring could still be heard.

Early, but it was permissible for students to roam the corridors at this hour.

Sev got up, showered, dressed, and braided his hair back; using the blue hair tie Martis had given him for Christmas last year. He had to think of what to make/get for her this year ... unfortunately, they would not be the only students in Slytherin over Christmas holiday because of the Yule Ball.

Damn. He had an odd notion that he could actually get away with kissing her under the mistletoe this year. If she did not throw up in response.

In the common room, he found Medusa lying quietly by the embers of the fire. "You reading my mind, Medusa my dear, or do we snakes think alike?"

Medusa raised her head and flickered her tongue in greeting.

Sev gathered Martis' snake in his arms and walked the stairs up to the hospital wing, by-passing the Fat Friar who shrieked a little and flew away from him. The Bloody Baron bowed to him for some reason as he reached the top of the staircase.

He was finally able to ask The Gray Lady what was going on.

"Have you been hit with Memory Charms?" she asked condescendingly. "Your actions yesterday have resulted in much fear and wariness of you. The only ghost approving your methods is the Bloody Baron, and that is only because he likes your determination and you are from his House." Her smile twitched a bit. "And he likes seeing the Friar jump."

"What was I supposed to do?" Sev asked her as Medusa slithered up around his neck.

The ghost nervously puffed out her chemise from the slashes in her sleeves. "Look beyond the obvious, Severus Snape." Then she twirled in midair and quickly floated down the corridor.

Sev stood silently, wondering what she meant by 'looking beyond the obvious'.

He ascended the last set of the stairs to the hospital wing and cracked open one of the large heavy doors.

Sunlight was just beginning to show itself as a thin line near the top of the walls, filling the room with a little more warmth. He could see her near the middle of the row of beds, Martis' long hair pulled to one side, and sleeping silently.

Sev slipped into the room, careful not to make his left shoe squeak as he approached her bed and looked down at her.

Madame Pomfrey had put her in a pair of white flannel pajamas with daisies printed all over them. It looked more innocent than the clingy sheer nightgown...

He sat on her bed, careful not to disturb her. Medusa slightly slipped down and coiled herself over Martis.

She was only fourteen, still considered a child. He could have accepted it if it was just the dragon, but the fertility potion pushed it too far. Whomever it was INTENDED her to be carrying a child by now - his child.

The thought was strange in and of itself; he had never considered that far in his future when he could become a father. And in fact, what were they going to do when they did finally run away from their families and live together on their own?

Martis had always wanted babies, and she was always certain she would have children. With him, though? He had never considered his part in that equation. He was too foul, too dark, too ugly ... she would want children from a better specimen than himself. But yet, with the Baby Marauders, she had hinted about that she wanted him to be part of that equation.

Could SHE be behind the whole thing?

He squashed that idea. Her breakdown was real. She was horrified and disgusted over the whole thing. Besides, if she did really want that sort of thing from him, she would simply proposition him and undress right there, like she did when he rescued her from the pervert brigade at the lake. She had emotional melodrama, not visual melodrama.

If either of them wanted to do any of that, they would do it in their own time - no one was going to orchestrate THAT part of his life, that was for damn sure.

"Usually the Dark Prince kisses the Priestess to awaken her," Phaedra Vox-Patil's voice said softly.

Sev looked up from Martis to her sister who had sat down on the bed across from him. "It's no one's business."

"Whoever did it thinks otherwise," she stated. She reached across to touch her baby sister's cheek.

"Well, they're not going to have their way."

"I know. Your paranoia and her stubbornness are going to ensure it." Phaedra smiled slightly. "I heard what you did to Hufflepuff - nice job in starting the purge. Two floating craps games that have been going on for twenty years, enough pornography to start several naughty bookstores and art galleries, and a still to make Firewhiskey. Professor Sprout didn't get a wink of sleep last night."

"Heh," Sev snorted. "My 'investigative techniques' are highly flawed - I was running on anger and blind hatred."

"Good of you to analyze it so." Phaedra held her hand to her mouth for a moment, then continued, "Sorry, morning sickness again."

"Need anything?"

"I'll be fine, I just needed to sit somewhere without any smells." She smoothed the skirt of her wrapper. "Any news on who did this to Baby Sister?"

"No. Miss Cleopatra has taken over the investigation since she's ... better trained for such matters." Sev glanced back down at Martis and gently caressed her temple and cheek with his fingertips. "I feel useless. Spirals protected me all this time, and then I couldn't protect her. At least when the Marauders tried to kill her, I knew who it was and where to find them." His hand trailed down her arm and clutched her hand; Medusa slipped over to Martis' other side. "This is much more ... personal, and I don't know who did it."

"But you rescued her from being dragon chow."

"That was part of their plan ..." He paused, feeling Martis' hand quiver in his. "Spirals?"

"Is she waking up?" Phaedra asked.

"Seems so."

Phaedra smiled and got up. "Then I'll leave you."

As she left, Martis' eyes fluttered open.

"Martis?" he ventured.

She focused on his face and commented, "What about the Dark Prince kissing the Priestess to wake her up?"

"You heard us?"

"Some. I can hear people talking when I sleep." She yawned. "Interestingly enough, I dreamed the conversation as you talking with the Great Mother ... except you were wearing your Hallowe'en costume."

Sev smiled a little. "Feeling any better?"

"Some. Still ... anxious." She scooted to sit up and drew her arms around him, squeezing him tightly and pressing her cheek to his chest. Medusa rearranged her body again. "Just hold me."

Sev obliged without comment and enjoyed holding her quietly as the sunlight crept down the wall as the sun rose higher. From the way her body relaxed, Sev was sure she had fallen asleep again; it was warming to know that she trusted him so much. Just as much as he trusted her.

"Snips?" she murmured in half-sleep.

"Hm?" he asked into her hair.

"What did you do to the Hufflepuffs?"

"Shh," he replied, kissing her hair.

Madame Pomfrey stepped out of her office, noted the two students cuddled together, then sighed and rolled her eyes. "Good morning, Mr. Snape and Miss Vox."

They quickly pulled apart; she noted the girl was still sleepy but the boy was quite flush. "Madame Pomfrey!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, it's me; whom else did you expect?" The nurse settled in the chair next to the bed and did nurse-checking-over-patient-things as Sev got up and stood politely. "Any nightmares, Miss Vox?"

Martis shook her head. "None that I can recall."

"Do you remember what happened to you?"

"A little. When did I arrive here?"

"Not long after St. Severus here fought the dragon to save you," Pomfrey chuckled. Sev blushed. "You were badly shaken."

Martis nodded. "Do I still smell like cinnamon?"

Sev sniffed. "No."

Pomfrey grinned. "Well, you needed a bath, anyway - been in the damp and cold and had played Quidditch yesterday." Her expression became serious. "I researched the effects of this particular fertility potion on humans and found some distressing things."

Martis looked up at the nurse. "What? Does it make me infertile - ?"

"No, not at all. You're going through ovulation again and it'll run the same course as usual, except that you'll have two menses going on at once in about two weeks. Your regular Cycle and this forced-Cycle."

Martis' face scrunched up in disgust. "Eww, Great Mother!"

"Yes, quite terrible." She suppressed a glare. "However, your Cycles are starting anew and you're still considered fertile right now due to the potion. Best be ... careful."

"No worries of that," Sev returned with his own defensive glare.

Martis was still being horrified by having two periods at once and did not notice the exchange between Pomfrey and Sev.

The doors to the hospital wing burst open all the way and Cleopatra stalked through, pinching one ear of each Vox twin.

"I found them, Snape," she said. "The masterminds behind the scheme."

Sev and Martis stared at the squirming Adonia and Artemisia. "Beg pardon?" Martis finally asked.

"Spill it," Cleopatra ordered, shoving them to the ground on their knees.

"We did it," Artemisia gasped. "We arranged for Severus to rescue Baby Sister - I made the potion and Doni got the dragon."

"Why?" Martis asked.

"We just wanted to get you two together," Adonia added defensively. "You've been dithering around the past year - something had to happen."

"Trying to get me to impregnate her was the 'something' that had to happen?" Sev asked severely.

"Not necessarily," Artemisia explained. "But it would have been on the right track."

"SO WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME YESTERDAY WHEN I ASKED YOU??"

The twins flinched. "Because you would have killed us."

"What makes you think I won't now?" He stalked over to them and held his wand up. The twins shrieked, and crawled behind Cleopatra's legs and robe.

Cleopatra's wrist snapped up, her wand pointing at Sev. "Don't do anything to them, Snape."

Martis got up and clutched Sev's arm, forcing him to lower his wand. "Severus, please! They didn't think it through! They thought they were doing us a favor!"

"They can 'do us a favor' by leaving us the hells alone!" He turned back to the twins. "Did you have ANY concept of what happened to your own sister as a result?"

"Not until much later," Adonia admitted. "We didn't mean for it to go that far!"

"What did you expect by kidnapping her, getting a dragon, dousing her with fertility potion, and conning a House-Elf into it? And who was in on it?"

"We arranged the whole thing ourselves," Artemisia stated. "We faked the prints and everything."

"What about the dragon?"

"We have to keep some secrets," Adonia remarked.

"The dragon was sent to the Forest by Portkey, a very highly trained dragon owned by a gent that Adonia has had contact with," Cleopatra answered for them. She picked them up by the ears again. "All right, my sweets, you both are in so much trouble, you won't see the light of day until you're ready to graduate. If I had my way, I'd borrow some of Mr. Filch's equipment to remind you not to do things like this - "

Cleopatra continued ranting as she led them out by the ears.

Pomfrey got up from her seat, straightening the bedding. "Feel healthy enough to leave the hospital wing, Miss Vox?"

Martis shook her head. "I still feel a chill."

"Not surprised. Then stay in bed, keep warm, and I'll bring some bed heaters." The nurse left Sev and Martis alone, and Martis crawled back into bed and under the covers. Medusa rejoined her, offering her own comfort.

"So the twins really did it?" she asked.

"Seems so," Sev answered, settling on the bed next to her. "I didn't think they would because they would be more direct about it."

Martis bit her lip. "True. I always thought they would wait until your last day and lock us in a train compartment on the way back home." She sat up and hugged him closely. "Thank the Gods it was only them - at least we know what their motive is."

Sev sighed. "I still don't want anyone's 'help' on what I do in my life." He pulled away slightly. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to stop them."

She snuggled closer, burying her face in his neck. "But you rescued me. The Dark Prince rescued the Priestess from the dragon and was gentleman enough to not take advantage."

"I was too busy being scared and angry to bother with being a pervert." Sev kissed her forehead and rested his chin on her cheek. "And I'm quite exhausted from trying to hunt down the offenders, so I can't think of anything witty to say to make up for it."

"Don't have to, Snips, just hold me."

And he did.

-End-