DISCLAIMER: Back to normal. Sort of. Snips and Spirals do not claim credit for turning the Marauders into a birdbath and an azalea bush, but admit the Gryffindors do make a nice decoration for the entryway.

REMINDER: My background to the last four stories involving the weirdness of dragons, house-elves, doubles, and all that can be found on Prince-Consort Tesser's profile here at - just remember to look him up by Google and you'll find it. Hope it clears up some mysteries.

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Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"Competition"

Text by Lady Tesser

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After the storm and weirdness of the previous week, the students of Hogwarts enjoyed the boring quietness of the following week.

Evan Ryper - Hogwarts' Triwizard Champion - had officially handed in his badge as Headboy to concentrate on working on the tournament. The Slytherin common room became host to strange and bizarre magical manifestations as Evan practiced his Transfiguration spells on his Housemates.

Evan was one of the genius prodigies of his generation. The Ryper family - a relatively young Pureblood clan (established during the European Renaissance) - was host to many wizards and witches of genius and intuitive magic, many going on to become experts if not legends in their specialties. Evan himself had become the star pupil of McGonagall's Transfigurations course when he had managed (in his Third-Year) to Transfigure one of his classmates into a Centaur and back to human again without any side-effects. His technique had improved to the point in which Dumbledore was secretly recruiting the boy to join his group of those fighting against the Darkness.

He joked he had been sorted into Slytherin because he knew where the bodies were hidden, but his Housemates knew him to be the smoothest operator in the whole House: bookie, lax Prefect, off-the-cuff bullshit artist, the respect of all the faculty and the rest of the Prefects. Those who believed Pure Blood was everything could not stand him, of course - he enjoyed his Muggle 'blues' music and dated all the non-Pureblood girls.

"How about a magical creature?" Britomartis Vox had asked him at one point during his Transfiguring his Housemates into various animals.

"What sort?" Evan asked, balancing the butt of his mahogany wand on two fingertips.

"I dunno, hippogriffs or harpies or something."

Evan flicked his wrist, catching the handle of his wand in his hand. He leaned back, twirling the tip slightly in her direction, and smirked. "Want to test my wand, baby?"

Martis rolled her eyes. "I'm not one to test wands of any sort."

Fallon O'Shanahan sighed in frustration, mumbling about wanting to test HIS wand herself.

Severus Snape, who had been reading next to Martis and Fallon, broke into a smirk. "Go ahead, Spirals, I'm not the jealous type."

Martis snorted a laugh. "All right." She got up and stood before Evan, fists on hips and called, "Fire away!"

Evan pursed his lips, then swished, flicked, and called, "Rabies Penniger!"

Sev watched Martis being pulled into the air by elderitch force, light and winds whipping around her form until the flash exploded outward.

The effect was unnoticed by most everyone in Slytherin because it had happened ten times already that day.

From the flash, a harpy flapped madly about; her large, strong body writhing in disorientation as it tried to fly upward and hitting the stone ceiling.

Sev got up and cried, "Martis!"

The blonde Fury turned around, locking onto him, her scaled breasts and scaled claws flickering light from the candles and torches around them. She was not Martis at all, she was simply a raving mad harpy loose in the common room.

The rest of the students gasped and ducked for cover as she screeched.

Sev dove under the couch as she swooped toward him. "RYPER, TURN HER BACK THIS INSTANT OR I'LL PULL YOUR KIDNEYS OUT THROUGH YOUR NAVEL!"

Evan raised his wand and yelled, "Finite Incantatum!"

The harpy exploded in a blast of feathers and Martis fell to the floor, still in her uniform. Her sunglasses hung awkwardly off one ear as she looked around in a daze.

"Martis!" Sev gasped, crawling out from under the couch and reaching for her.

Her response was not straightforward: "Of course I made the offerings of milk and honey correctly."

"Martis - Spirals," Sev said as he shook her. "You're here at Hogwarts. Magic school in Great Britain. Slytherin common room."

Evan knelt down next to them. "Don't worry, she'll come to in a minute. Magical creatures are harder to recover from than normal critters."

Sev growled at him and Evan moved away. Martis' eyes snapped into focus and she whispered, "That was the weirdest thing I ever felt."

"Spirals?"

"Huh? Oh, Snips, hi."

"Do you remember anything?" he asked as he pulled her into his lap and held her.

"Sort of. I don't remember doing it - it was more like I was witnessing it through the eyes of the harpy. I wanted to stop it from attacking, but ... I had no control."

"Not much for becoming an Animagus, hm?" Sev chuckled.

"Don't care to, anyway." She drew her arms around his neck and exhaled loudly. "Last time I challenge Ryper on anything."

"Always a good policy." He squeezed her. "Tomorrow is the First Task and we better be ready to cheer him on, for the honor of Slytherin."

"Whatever that is. Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

"Bother."

----------

November 15, 1974, was the day of the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament. Friday classes were full of the buzz of rumor and speculation on the event, as well as several issues of 'The Daily Prophet' featuring the photography sessions of the Champions being passed around the girls' sections of classrooms, bathrooms, and dorm rooms. Eventually, word reached Thomas St. Claire - Slytherin Seeker and Evan's bookie partner - and he began taking bets on which Champion would win the First Task, as well as keeping a running poll on what the female populace of Hogwarts thought of the Champions themselves.

Evan Ryper and Igor Karkaroff were evenly tied for 'attractiveness', while Michel de Nostradom was considered 'as lovable and cuddly as a puffskein' (Monsieur de Nostradom did not mind when he caught wind of his standing in the ranks: 'Bettair to bey cuddly zan unapproachable.').

November 15, Friday, was also the first day of the double-whammied Moontime Martis had been dealt due to being doused with fertility potion two weeks before.

The girls of Hogwarts were used to cries of disgust in the bathrooms; after all, there were plenty of Second and Third-Year girls whose Cycles were beginning throughout the year and the older girls always kept the necessary articles in their bookbags just in case another student got caught unawares.

However, the shriek of horror was unlike anything they had ever heard before, followed by a rash of indiscriminate bad language in another tongue.

Brittany Valkaria - A Seventh-Year Slytherin Prefect - recognized the Bad Language and knocked on the door of one of the stalls. "Vox, you all right?"

"No! I'm going to Madame Pomfrey!"

Many of the girls made faces of distaste; anything that required a person to yell about needing the school nurse while in the WC was Bad.

Several minutes later, nearly doubled over in pain, Martis was in the hospital wing and given some muscle relaxing charms.

"I did warn you this was going to happen," Madame Pomfrey informed her brusquely. "I'm afraid I don't have the required medicine for such heavy ... symptoms, so all I can do is try to dull it as much as possible. I'll see what I can do in getting Professor Sartoris to help in brewing some up."

Martis cringed. "What about the - ?"

Pomfrey bit her lip. "I think I do have a few special 'belts' for this particular type. How are you doing for the emotional side-effects?"

"I don't know yet, the pain is over-powering everything else."

"Poor child." Pomfrey fetched what she promised, made Martis take another bath, gave her a fresh uniform and special shields, then sent Martis on her way.

Martis was in a particular foul mood by the time she made it back to the Slytherin common room.

"Spirals?" Sev said as she passed and he touched her robe sleeve.

"Don't touch me, you - MALE!"

Everyone around them looked up.

"I beg your pardon?" Sev asked.

"The only reason we women go through all this crap is so you stupid patriarchs can have sons to carry on your bloody names!"

"What?" Sev asked, knowing he was completely missing the point.

"I'm sick of it! Don't touch me! If anybody tries to get me out of bed, I will freaking TEAR IT OFF!"

With that, she stomped up to the girls' dorm and left the room in much confusion.

"Snape - what did you do to Miss Spirals this time?" Keith Woot the Chaser asked, looming over Sev.

"Hey, nothing!" Sev cried. "I don't know what she was screaming about!"

Brittany suddenly burst out with, "My Gods! She was sick in the girls' room and went to see Pomfrey and she just cussed out Snape for being male - SHE'S PREGNANT!"

Sev was the first one to scream, although his cry of "WE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT - SHE'S ONLY MY FRIEND!" was heard over everyone else's demands to kill him.

Sev recognized the energy shift - whenever he did something wrong, his father's moods signaled when he was going to be beaten. The energy patterns in the room were exactly the same as they were when his father's Beating Mood struck.

Keeping his head together, Sev raced up into the girls' dorm as half of the girls in Slytherin chased him up the stairs.

Within thirty seconds, he was apparated to Dumbledore's office.

The Headmaster cocked his head and raised an eyebrow as the Slytherin boy panted and collapsed into a chair in front of his desk. "Before you say ANYTHING, Headmaster, I was nowhere near her in THAT way! Everyone is jumping to conclusions!"

Dumbledore bit the inside of his cheek. For as many times as he has heard that phrase in his one-hundred-thirty-odd years of life, the explanations for them were always interesting.

"Well, explain things to me, Severus, and I'll send for some divinity and lemon custard."

----------

Once Pomfrey had visited Slytherin to defend Sev's life and explain that Martis was not pregnant (the boys accepting the explanation 'female biological thing' and leaving it at that), Sev was approved to return to Slytherin and all went back to normal.

Sort of.

Martis was positively, absolutely miserable, and her roommates left her alone for the afternoon as everyone got ready for the First Task.

Except Fallon O'Shanahan and Oriana Crescent.

"Come on," Oriana said. "Let's throw you in the showers and get you running enough to at least sit with the rest of us."

"Go away," Martis muttered from behind her bed-curtains.

"Snips is going to be there," Fallon reminded her.

"If he'd done his duty, this wouldn't be happening," Martis sobbed quietly. "Of course, he'd probably be dead and I'll be in some dark cell - "

"What's she mumbling about?" Oriana asked.

Fallon shrugged. "I think both are realizing they're in love and they still don't want to admit it."

Oriana rolled her eyes. "She could pick a better specimen than Snape. Like Igor Karkaroff - that's a nice specimen if I ever saw one."

"Snips is a goody, he's just socially backward." Fallon pulled the bed-curtains open. "Come on, up, Spirals. Time's wasting."

A tap from the window caught Oriana's attention and she allowed Fallon to handle the cussing Quidditch player. Opening the window, a small spotted owl flew in and perched on a desk chair. She quickly untied the note and read:

'My darling, wonderful girl,

I'm well enough to leave the infirmary and will attend the First Task. However, I do want to keep our date, so meet me in the Rose Gardens right after the event. I'll be eagerly awaiting to taste your lips again, Martis.

Yours,

Sirius Black'

Oriana about choked on her tongue, but did not say anything aloud. Vox was carrying on an affair with Sirius Black??

Wait a minute. Didn't she and Akiko and a few others see what appeared to be Martis' double running around the school last week? And Vox was quite animate about hating Black, mostly because he tried to murder her a few years ago.

So, perhaps that double had made some sort of a date with Sirius Black.

Oriana snorted. Vox would certainly not take advantage of the set-up. And despite being an arrogant ass, he was very Pureblooded and handsome to boot, so perhaps something else could be arranged.

Oriana quickly wrote a note in response and attached it to the owl, then sent it back out in time for Fallon to return with a very subdued but still grumbling Martis.

"Let's go," Fallon said.

---------

Sev quickly ran the road back to the school, the package with the Honeyduke's paper tucked under his robe.

At least the Quidditch Captain and Seeker did try to protect him from the mob - and that was only because they believed Miss Spirals' baby was not going to be a bastard, so they had to save his skinny butt to marry her. Fortunately, Pomfrey was able to clear up that mess and traumatize those hotheads before it got out of Slytherin.

After that crap they went through last weekend with that Dark Wizard and his games, there was no way in the Nine Levels of Hell he was going to do anything that resulted in her carrying his get. Too risky ... despite what his body and hormones wanted.

Once everything calmed down, Sev counted out the days and realized that Martis was going through the double-hit of her Cycles - which neatly explained why she was in the mood she was earlier that afternoon. He had to administer his own prescription for these times - coffee and chocolate.

If she let him anywhere near her.

He briefly thought about one evening when he was in the hospital wing and the not-yet-married Nurse Pomfrey had a visit from her fiance, one of the Hogsmeade healers. She was having a trying evening due to her own Cycles, and her fiance showed up and comforted her. She had asked him why he bothered, and he had responded, 'Because I'm going to be married to you, and I promise to take care of you. That's what husbands do.'

Sev considered what he was doing. Then promptly decided not to consider.

He saw the students leaving the castle and walking out toward the moors where stands had been set up for students, officials, and reporters to face three rings.

Sev hurried in that direction, looking for knee-length blonde hair.

----------

Martis muttered the whole time Fallon and Oriana frog-marched her out to the First Task area. " ... stupid body ... stupid ovaries ... hate being female ... no nerve endings in organs, yeah, right ... bleeding like a stuck pig ... bloated like that stupid inflatable sheep ... ow-ow-ow, damn this hurts ... want to crawl in a hole and pull it in after me ... "

She hardly noticed when Oriana stopped them and waved at someone.

"It's Igor Karkaroff!" Oriana cried.

"So?" Fallon snapped. "Cheer for our boy instead - plus Evan's closer and we can get pics of him in his shorts from St. Claire."

"Give it up, Lolita, Ryper likes girls who weigh less than him."

"And I'm sure sex with you would qualify as necrophilia with that logic."

"SHUT UP," Martis snapped. "Both of you! Males are stupid and wouldn't recognize a girl in love with him if he tripped over her!"

A male voice interrupted, "I beg to disagree."

"Mr. Karkaroff," Oriana sighed. "Shouldn't you be getting ready?"

Igor brushed his blonde hair from his gray eyes, staring intently at Martis as she gazed at the ground. "I will. Panni Vox, I will dedicate this win to you should you kiss me for luck."

Martis snapped her head up. "What?"

Fallon and Oriana were both shocked silent, their mouths hanging open in surprise.

Igor darted the tip of his tongue out and ran it across his upper lip. "Simply a good luck kiss, Panni Vox. After all, one would have to be a fool not to notice such exotic beauty in such a ... vivacious young lady as yourself."

"Don't know when to give up, do you?" Fallon finally remarked. Oriana stepped on her foot and continued to stare in disbelief.

Martis smirked slightly. "Another one who wants to get under my skirt, hm? Believe me, I'd rather not have this body because it just gives me trouble all the time, especially now with my Moontime being out of whack and I'm bleeding all over the freaking place and it's really really THICK too - "

Fallon covered Martis' mouth and both girls shuffled the Third-Year away from the quickly-becoming-ill Igor. Martis struggled in their grips until she groaned in pain and finally stopped. Fallon released her mouth as they sat down in the stands.

"What was that for?" Martis snapped. "I was about to accuse him of face-sucking with Sissy-us Prat."

"What's WITH you??" Oriana demanded. "You would have had Igor Karkaroff at your feet!"

"I don't want him at my feet - or anywhere near me for that matter! In fact, let's kick all the men into the lake and let the squid have them!"

Oriana rolled her eyes and leaned close to Fallon. "She's in a man-hating period again. Haven't seen anything like this since her First-Year."

Fallon pressed her lips together. "I don't really blame her - she has the worst case of Moontime I've ever seen and guys are being you-know-whats while she's feeling this way."

Sev approached the group and climbed up into the stands. "Martis - I have chocolate. Is it safe?"

Martis burst into tears and held her arms out, allowing him to dive against her and hold her tightly. "SNIPS! Everyone's mean and I feel terrible! CUDDLE ME!"

Fallon suppressed a grin while Oriana appeared slightly nauseous.

"I'll never understand them," Oriana finally said.

Fallon snorted a giggle. "I think it's sweet."

"You would."

----------

After the judge's remarks and the introductory speeches (Martis and Sev ignoring them because they were concentrating on the block of chocolate he had gotten her), the First Task begun.

Nundus were a magical creature from Africa resembling a gigantic leopard and were immune to most magical attacks. An adult Nundu's virused breath could wipe out whole villages and hunting ONE down takes at least one hundred highly trained Wizards.

The baby cub Nundus were still quite dangerous. Igor Karkaroff was taken out when his roared at him when he got too close, making the Durmstrang champion quite ill in response and performing a less-than-polite action in his ring involving the loss of his lunch. He had to be carried off by Madame Pomfrey's assistants.

Michel de Nostradom did slightly better - he attempted stun and stupefy spells, but was rewarded with a very mad Nundu cub who chased him all over his ring and had him screaming in unintelligible French. One of the Beauxbatons' girls was yelling, 'STAY UPWIND, MIKKI!!'

Evan Ryper swaggered up to the outer edge of his ring, gazed at his Nundu cub, then raised his wand and incanted, "Ailurois!"

The Nundu cub was enveloped in a flash of light, then was replaced by a small calico kitten that looked rather confused. "Meow?" it asked sweetly.

The girls in the crowd all sighed, "AWWW!"

The guys in the crowd groaned and covered their faces with their hands. "That is SO unmanly," a Slytherin Quidditch player commented.

Professor McGonagall grinned her face off, even though she regretted he had not been sorted into her House.

Evan smirked and casually approached the kitten, lifting it up and taking the large collar from around its body. He nuzzled the kitten's face, then placed it back down and returned to the outer ring before turning around and returning the kitten back into its natural Nundu cub state.

Silence for two seconds, then Judge Malfalda Hopkirk yelled, "EVAN RYPER OF HOGWARTS WINS THE FIRST TASK!"

The crowd's reaction was rather loud.

Martis did not care. During the whole First Task, she ranted continuously about the horrible things that had happened, including Igor wanting to kiss her; Sev narrowed his eyes and squeezed her tightly, allowing her to rant as he thought about ways to torment Igor Karkaroff.

This was beginning to annoying him. Karkaroff had sometimes bumped into him in the library as Sev was trying to get into the Restricted Section, both of them usually researching similar subjects and comparing notes quietly. Each knew the other was Dark, there was no denying such a thing. Yet, in all their discussions, Martis had never come up as a topic ... not even a peep about her 'assets'.

The collection of instances in which Karkaroff had tried to 'chat her up' was growing and Sev knew he had to do something soon to keep the older rival - er, bastard - away from his Martis.

----------

"Weren't you going to do something to Sillyass Prat today?" Sev asked Martis as they left the stands to go back to the First Task Feast in the Great Hall.

Martis grimaced. "You know what my plan was, Snips. I'm in NO condition to be pulling something like that."

"True, although your current condition would be a wonderful way to traumatize him from ever doing it to ANYONE ever again." Sev drew an arm around her shoulders. "After all, Boys cringe and get ill while Men take it in stride."

Martis burst into tears again and hugged him.

----------

Sirius Black, freshly recovered from last weekend's Quidditch accident and ready to face the world, dashed to the Rose Gardens of Hogwarts. Finding the pink rose hedge that Vox's note had instructed him to be standing behind, Black slipped around it and consulted the note again.

'My dearest Sirius,

Meet me behind the pink rose hedge, ready to receive me. I won't be wearing anything beneath my robe and I'll need you to warm me up the proper way.

Only Yours'

Ready to receive her? HELL YES!

Black decided to give the bosomy blonde of Slytherin a little surprise for when she arrived.

----------

Oriana shivered in the cold as she raced from her dorm to the Rose Gardens. Damn, it was too damn cold for any real recreational activity, but this would be her only chance -

----------

Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Hagrid were giving the Minister of Magic, her guards, the Tournament judges, a few other Ministry officials, reporters, and photographers tours of the school grounds.

It was in the Rose Gardens that a male shriek caught their attention and nearly two dozen people saw a male student in his Gryffindor tie and oxford shirt tripping out from one the hedges with his trousers around his ankles and scrambling along the ground.

A girl with an open robe showing the fact that she was definitely female ran out from behind the hedge and cried, "But, Sirius, it shouldn't matter WHO - " She saw the two dozen adults and the photographers getting several pictures, then screamed, closed her robe, and yelled, "He tried to molest me!"

"YOU LIAR!" Sirius Black shouted, fumbling to get his trousers back up. "You sent me that note and I thought you were someone else!!"

"Don't try bringing up facts!"

Hagrid's large hand descended on Black's head and picked him up. "You got some 'splaining ter do ter to Professor Dumbledore, Mr. Black."

Oriana Crescent broke into sobs as McGonagall wrapped her cloak around the girl.

Dumbledore sighed and glanced at the Minister of Magic. "Well, my dear Millicent, I can honestly say things have not changed significantly since any of us were students."

The Minister smirked. "My dear Albus, we did not have photographers following us around back then."

"True, true." Dumbledore discreetly rubbed his forehead. He was going to have at least two very irate pairs of parents within a few hours. Best to order up lemon tarts and brandy.

----------

That evening, the whole story had finally been straightened out - a torrid tale involving secret meetings, stolen kisses, and the promise of pleasure between Sirius Black and Britomartis Vox.

However, once Martis had been called to the Headmaster's office and her testimony of never even speaking to Black the past week, let alone swapping spit with him or promising to meet him for any 'recreational activity', was taken into consideration. After all, he was a Gryffindor and a Marauder and she was a Slytherin and part of Snips and Spirals. Never the twain shall meet. Unless an Imperius Curse was involved, and even then, she was quite sure her body would regurgitate her last three meals on him in revulsion.

Which brought up the whole other can of worms involving the double of her that she had chased last week and was probably the culprit that had set up this whole thing -

And by that time, needing another dose of pain-killers, Martis offered to let Black have her right there since claiming her blobby-bloated carcass seemed SO important to him, but he would be the one that would have to deal with all the blood and mess -

Which resulted in Black fainting from shock and caused Auror Alastor Moody to object loudly to 'cruel and unusual torture'.

Oriana Crescent's only explanation for returning a false note to Black: 'He's hot.'

At the end of it, Dumbledore did not know whether he should laugh or cry. But he did need some aspirin.

Finally, with an equal taking of twenty points off of both Gryffindor and Slytherin (Black for being ungentlemanly to begin with and Oriana for being unladylike in return) and detention for the two involved, all the students were dismissed and Martis walked with Oriana to the hospital wing.

"Braver soul than I," Martis remarked. "I wouldn't want his nasty foul hands touching any part of me."

"Some people can forget the past," Oriana huffed, then sneezed, feeling the freeze from the cold grabbing her sinuses.

"Some people can't forget almost being murdered in cold blood."

"It was an accident. Get over it."

Martis scowled. "Not on your life."

----------

Sev held Martis for most of dinner during the Hogwarts celebration feast for Evan Ryper.

"I can't believe it," Martis said. "Crescent went ahead and pulled my prank."

"So I hear. But nobody else knew you to be having a torrid romance with him." Sev balanced a forkful of boiled potato and ate it.

"I was not having a torrid romance with him! That double of me was. The only thing torrid about me now is this damned Moontime!"

He rolled his eyes. "No more hitting the Maraudettes below the belt, all right? It's getting dangerous. What if Potty-head takes you seriously the next time you try to frighten him off by being more perverted than him?"

"Mm. Good point. Although now all I have to say is 'bleeding' and they'll run screaming."

Sev shivered. "I don't blame them." He got a look of puzzlement on his face. "How very odd. It seems to be a deep-level reaction - almost an instinct. It's not a specific fear of any consequence, just a general disgust. I would swear that it - "

"Snips," Martis said sharply. "Please stop analyzing your own emotions like they were potions formulae. It's ... unsettling."

"Sorry, Spirals. Finding a new emotion is interesting. Emotional detachment has helped me maintain my sanity ever since I was a child."

She gave him a squeeze. "I pray to the Crone that She collects your father as soon as possible."

"I don't think She would want him. Contaminated materials, you know."

----------

It was quite a long weekend for Martis.Sev, it was a headache. It had seemed that the collar of the Nundu cub had held the clue to the Second Task of the Tournament, which was scheduled for late January, and Evan had to figure out what the clue meant.

Sev, Demetrius, Thomas, Fearghus, and Evan sat around the central table of their dorm room and stared at the collar.

It was an ordinary brown leather collar with a brass buckle and a brass loop to tie a leash on.

After an hour of staring at it, the Quidditch players were playing a variation of Table-Top Quidditch with wads of parchment, and Evan had several bottles of bright yellow and orange-colored water lined up in front of him to help him think.

"Maybe if you wear it," Sev finally said, breaking the silence.

Evan looked up from the bottles. "Wear it, Snape?"

Demetrius chuckled. "Why not? Snips knows about wearing collars."

"Shut up," Sev snapped at the Beater. "Ryper, revelation spells don't work on it. Best thing to do is a 'total immersion'."

Evan shrugged and picked up the collar. "Well, nothing else has worked." He unbuckled it, wrapped it around his throat, then buckled it again, and waited.

Thomas grinned. "Lolita would LOVE a picture of this."

Fearghus snorted. "One O'Shanahan an alcoholic, the other a pervert."

"Feel anything yet?" Demetrius asked.

Evan looked at him oddly and asked, "Meow?"

"I beg your pardon?" Sev inquired.

Evan gave him the same look. "Meow meow? Meow."

The boys looked at each other, then Sev wrote on a parchment, 'Take off the collar'.

Evan did so.

"Can you understand us?" Sev stated.

"Yes ..." Evan said, then looked at the collar. "But you were all meowing like cats."

"No," Fearghus clarified. "You were."

"Hmmm ..."

Evan continued to contemplate while the other boys made silly suggestions as to its import.

----------

Martis managed to drag herself out of bed in the middle of the night.

The pain was too much to bear; she felt like she was giving birth.

"Isn't it, though?" she mumbled to herself as she stumbled through the common room. "Same actions in the muscles."

Practically crawling through the cold stone corridor to the House Mother's chambers, she finally banged on the door to Miss Price's rooms.

Unable to stand, she fell to the floor, doubled-over and whimpering in pain.

Miss Price opened the door, saw the half-conscious student, and cried in shock.

Two minutes later, Martis was Flooed to the hospital wing.

----------

Headmaster Dumbledore appeared in the infirmary as soon as Madame Pomfrey put the girl under a sleeping charm. "What had happened? Rowena was in hysterics."

"The Vox girl's 'extra' Cycle," Pomfrey replied. "Overwhelmed her body, so I had to give her quite a strong muscle-relaxing potion. Fortunately, Sartoris had one on hand."

Dumbledore sat on Martis' bed and placed his hand on the girl's forehead. "Poor child ... "

"Albus, I've never come across anything like this. I understand the theory of that particular fertility potion that was used - but we never found out WHY."

Dumbledore did not look up. "There were a great many things the past few weeks that could not be explained - tap-dancing centaurs, strange House-Elves, dragons, doubles of this young lady and her friend."

"It worries me - and Cleopatra leaving when she did - !"

"If you have noticed, it has been very quiet since she had left to chase that Dark Wizard. I'd venture to say that Dark Wizard she was after had everything to do with what happened - including the fertility potion used on this child."

"I don't like it," Pomfrey sniffed, rubbing her shoulders. "I want the children under my care to be safe from threats like that."

"They are now, Poppy, they are now."

----------

"Have to stay here for the weekend, huh?" Sev asked Martis the next morning in the hospital wing.

"Unfortunately," she answered slowly. "You know how bad the usual is, but two of them at once, forget it." She smiled dreamily. "Although the pain-killing potions are weird - I'm either sleeping or wide awake but feel 'out-of-it'."

"Had them enough myself."

Pomfrey handed her a small cup and said, "Time for the next dose, Miss Vox."

Martis nodded, accepting the cup and swigging it back in one gulp. "Still tastes terrible."

Sev sniffed the cup as it was handed back to Pomfrey. "One of the ingredients smells like Lophophora."

"Only smells like it," Pomfrey answered quickly before she left them. "But it isn't."

Martis grinned and lay back in the pillows.

Sev tossed his head back a few times in the direction of another occupied bed. "Has Karkaroff been bothering you?"

"I don't think he even knows I'm here." She giggled, reaching across and groping her hands on Sev's shoulders. "Wanna claim me as yours, Snips, so he doesn't bother me?"

"Saying that I 'claimed' you will get my skinny butt kicked by both your sisters and the Quidditch team."

Martis released him and raspberried in reply. "Pooh. The team doesn't care as long as you make me happy."

"If you were any more happy on that stuff, you'd be in a state of permanent bliss."

She giggled. "Whee!"

"Hope it isn't addictive."

Martis settled deeper into her pillows and closed her eyes. "Can you hold me while I go to sleep?"

"Not much," Sev admitted, scooting closer and leaning against her side.

"You feel good. You always felt good," she murmured softly. "My safe little ... Spiderweb ... my ... "

Sev was rather surprised how fast she drifted to sleep, but he sat up and brushed her bangs back from her face. "Rest and recover, Spirals," he whispered.

Sev got up and made his way towards the large doors, pausing before the bed of the napping Igor Karkaroff, who was still pasty and clammy-looking from his bout with the Nundu cub.

His lip curling up into a smirky sneer, Sev's wand slipped out of his sleeve and he softly incanted, "Impervius."

Pleased with himself, Sev left the infirmary, knowing Igor Karkaroff would not be able to take a bath for several days as long as the water-repellant charm was on him.

-End-