DISCLAIMER: You all know the drill.


Snips and Spirals Fanfic:

"Learning to Dance"

Text by Lady Tesser


"The Yule Ball is in three weeks," Professor McGonagall stated in her Fifth-Year Transfigurations class. "A traditional part of the Triwizard Tournament and an opportunity for us to socialize with our foreign guests. Now, the ball will only be open to Fourth-Years and above - although you may invite a younger student if you wish."

Severus Snape, aged fifteen, scooted down in his chair, his braid resting on the back of it. Several girls around him giggled or muttered excitedly about the Ball.

"Dress robes will be worn," McGonagall continued. "And nothing Muggle-influenced - which is in quite bad taste this decade. The Ball will be from eight o'clock to midnight in the Great Hall on Christmas Day."

James Potter and Sirius Black grinned and snickered at each other.

"The Yule Ball is a chance for us to ... hm ... let our hair down ... "

Everyone quieted in their tittering while Sev looked miserable.

"However, this does not grant permission for Hogwarts students to misbehave and cause riots - Snape, I expect you to not summon any beasts at this function."

"So I may not invite the Maraudiots or Malfoy?"

The combination of McGonagall's raised eyebrows (a sign of her strictest disapproval) and the jeers from the Gryffindors made him slide back down in his seat. "Not going, so don't worry."

McGonagall closed her eyes for a second, then continued to her own charges, "I will be quite displeased if a Gryffindor embarrasses the school - Black, Potter, that includes you two."

Remus Lupin bit his lip while Peter Pettigrew giggled at the two Quidditch players. Sev managed not to break into a smirk when the mental image of Potter and Black caught in a clinch and embarrassing McGonagall to the point of a breakdown flittered through his mind.

The bell rang and students gathered up their bookbags to leave. Sev left first before the Marauders could get their bearings, racing down the corridor to the Great Hall. Bursting in, he located Martis just sitting down at Slytherin table, and he walked up the other side of the table to sit across from her.

"Peony," Grant Parkinson of Ravenclaw said a few spaces down to Martis' roommate. "Will you go to the Yule Ball with me?"

"Yes!" Peony Danderfluff giggled hysterically, jumping up and hugging his neck. "Of course I will!"

Martis snorted as Peony continued giggling after Grant left to go back to Ravenclaw. "Better research your contraceptive spells."

Peony wrinkled her nose up at Martis, looking like a pug. "Aw, poor Spirals, can't go to the Ball because she's only a Third-Year!"

"That has nothing to do with it - "

"You can always have Snape take you - "

Sev interrupted, "I'm NOT going."

"Exactly," Martis added.

"Then what was that comment about contraceptive spells?" Peony asked.

"Because this is no different than a feast from my island, and whenever teenagers get together for a party, one always has to be careful of little things slipping in and causing trouble."

Peony blushed bright red and nervously laughed. "One can always hope!"

Martis turned away and faced Sev. "So, I heard about the Ball. Who are you taking?"

"I said I wasn't going," Sev repeated. "I hate dances. The last time I asked anyone to a dance, I got beaten up by the Maraudiots." He leaned across the table and softly said, "Besides, I want to fly over the pitch with you instead."

Martis finally smiled. "Yes, that would be much better than a silly dance." She reached her foot under the table and brushed it against his ankle. "I'm quite sure it'll be - eep!"

Both felt something bump into their legs and they looked under the table to see what it was.

"Evan?" Martis whispered.

Evan Ryper - Hogwarts' Triwizard Champion and winner of the First Task - placed his finger on his lips to shush her. Martis leaned closer. "What the Avernus are you doing under the table??"

"Hiding from the girls!" he hissed. "Ever since they announced the Yule Ball and told us to have dates, I've been chased from my Divinations class to here by horny girls!"

Sev narrowed his eyes at him. "You pompous ass."

"I'm not lying, Snape! These girls are bloodthirsty! They want me to be their date AND drag them into the Rose Gardens! Too tall an order!"

Martis smirked. "Take Fallon O'Shanahan - going with her will prove you're not interested in hoppi-hoppa."

"At least we hope," Sev added in a dead tone.

Evan rolled his eyes. "Lolita's a nice kid, but she's only a First-Year." He paused. "Why do you guys call her 'Lolita', anyway? Does she have crushes on the Professors or something?"

"Something," Martis answered. "Evan, stop being a worm. Who did you want to take to begin with?"

"Well, Phaedra - but she's kinda married and pregnant right now."

Sev snorted. "I told you he had a crush on your sister, Spirals."

"She'll be flattered. She's going through her 'I'm-ugly-because-I'm-a-pregnant-cow' phase." She gazed back down at Evan. "Any other picks? What about Brittany Valkaria? Weren't you dating her?"

"That was last year, Vox. Besides, she's going with Demetrius Jones."

Martis nodded. "Anyone else? What about Aki?"

"Akiko Mori?" Evan asked. He was silent, then grinned. "Thanks, Spirals. I'll go ask her right now!"

Evan crawled off under the table again and Sev stared at Martis over the top of it. "What was that about?"

Martis shrugged. "Evan knows they're only paying attention to him because of the Triwizard thing - and Aki isn't impressed by it, so he knows she's honest."

Sev rolled his eyes. "Too much trouble."

"Yes, that's why we're going flying that night. Which is much better than hanging around a bunch of people we don't care for." She blew him a kiss across the table. "Who says we don't know how to spend our time?"


It was time for the students to get to know Professor Flavert's companion from Beauxbatons, as she had decreed Monday and Friday evenings to be dance lesson dates for Slytherins so they could dance at the Yule Ball.

Madame Chocolat Meringue was a striking woman with a cascade of jet-black wavy hair and smooth pale olive skin. Her eyes were exotic and deep black, and her lips were painted deep crimson. Her slender body was revealed in a cool purple short gown which showed off finely-muscled dancer's legs.

The males of Slytherin paid very close attention to what she said.

Except Sev, who sat in the back of the room and read. Martis sat next to him while Madame Meringue was lecturing on the minutae of the waltz.

"Why aren't you drooling over the French lady, Snips?" she asked playfully.

"She shares a passing resemblence to my mother," Sev answered without looking up.

Martis glanced at the dance instructor, noted the black hair, liquid black eyes, and fine features that she had associated with Lady Snape, then nodded. "All right, I can understand that."

Madame Meringue's softly accented voice said, "When first introduced into the English ballrooms in the early 1800's, the Waltz was denounced by both church and state for its vulgarity and immorality ... this was, after all, the first time society had seen this outrageous dance position, with the man holding the lady so close to his body." She glanced around. "A gentleman volunteer - ?"

Half of the Quidditch team, plus several other males including Lucius Malfoy, scrambled and trampled on each other to get up and help 'demonstrate' with Madame Meringue.

Everyone was not really surprised to see Slytherin's Seeker swerve over the mess and land before her, bowing gracefully and grinning wide. "Thomas St. Claire, madame."

Madame Meringue smirked. "Thank you, Monsieur St. Claire. Now, just place your lead hand up - left hand, Monsieur, that's correct - and your guide hand around my waist - an inch or two up, Monsieur, thank you - and I'll have a sample of music played so you may understand the rythym better."

She waved her wand, and a nocturne began to play in the air.

Thomas, being naturally graceful, kept up with the instructor quite well. "As you can see," she addressed the Slytherins. "This is at eighty-four beats per minute, about average for the modern waltz. Monsieur St. Claire, remember - ONE, two, three - emphasis on the first beat. Left box turn - closed position, left foot forward, right foot side, left foot closes to right foot, right foot back, left foot side, right foot closes to left foot - excellent! Another volunteer?"

Lucius pushed his way in and demonstrated a side-whisk.

"And another to help - you in the the back?"

Martis nudged Sev, who continued to bury his nose in his book. He was surprised when she shoved him in the direction of the instructor and he landed in her arms, making him slightly panic and his heart to race.

"I'm not going to the dance, so I don't need to learn this!" Sev cried, sure that he was going to be humiliated beyond all measure.

"Not that hard, mon pupil. We'll demonstrate an underarm turn."

Sev hesitantly arranged his hands and arms around the older woman in a closed position, felt for a beat in the music, then swept Madame Meringue in a right box turn until he finally dipped her down into an underarm turn, falling them rising, and glided her across the stone floor and Persian rugs of the common room.

Sev finally released Madame Meringue and bowed his head slightly, his braid dipping over his right shoulder.

"You've had practice!" she accused.

"No, I don't dance," Sev muttered as he moved to the back again. "Never did it."

"A nautral genius - whomever goes with this young man to the Ball will have quite an evening of dancing!"

A few of the girls glanced in his direction and giggled, turning red.

Sev blushed up to his hairline, plopping onto the couch with Martis. "I'm not going to the bloody Ball, so forget it."

Madame Meringue clicked her tongue. "Too bad." She turned back to the rest of the students. "All right, choose partners, then we'll practice the full range of movement. First 'Papillion' so you can get used to the steps, then we'll use 'Pastoral' as a faster measure to see that you have it." The students got up and chose partners, and she glanced back to Sev. "I would appreciate it if you would join us, Monsieur ... ?"

"Snape," Martis offered. "Severus Snape - the Dark Prince of Slytherin."

"How appropriate," Madame Meringue agreed. "Perhaps you can convince him to join us? Even if he's not going to be at the Yule Ball, it's still good ... what do the British say? Good sportsmanship."

She turned to the rest of the class, plucked the last boy without a partner (Jonas Kennebunk) for herself, and lead them in a very slow waltz around the room.

Martis turned back to Sev. "Snips, you never told me you could dance."

"I didn't know I could," he answered.

"Probably related to your balance and agility from dealing with the Drooling Menagerie." Martis scooted closer to him. "Come on."

"All the girls are taken," Sev snorted.

"Oh, gee, thanks a lot." She looped her arm into his. "I'll dance with you, Snips. I promise I'll let you keep your virtue, too."

Sev gazed down at her. "You've got to be kidding."

"Snips, please!" She began pouting. "I'll cry."

He sighed. "I'm going to feel sorry for whomever you decide to marry." He got up and offered her his hand; she accepted and got up, both joining their Housemates in the semi-graceful waltz as several students were learning to dance for the first time.

Akiko Mori and Evan Ryper passed by them; Akiko grinning silly and Evan smirking, even though there was at least a foot of height difference between them.

Martis was concentrating on her movements, while Sev relaxed into them and let his mind go. Dancing was actually quite enjoyable, and he wondered where he had the knack for it. Certainly not his father - his father was the type in which the only dance he would ever have would be one brought on by St. Vitus. His mother ... a possibility. What little his mother had spoken of her own family life, she had fond memories of Balls given by the Lestrange family. Quite possibly another little attribute he had gained from her besides the eyes and studiousness.

Martis was thinking how much more restrictive European dance was compared to Cretan dance. At least on Crete she got to really use all of her body in free-style movements that flowed and pulsed with the sacred snake and her own heartbeat. The spiral dances were more sexual, more primitive than this straight-backed leg-only movement.

Sev spun her around, then pulled her close, making her stare back into his face.

However ... none of her home's dances allowed such personal contact between partners ... And she agreed with Madame Meringue's lecture about it being a rather sensual dance once the movements became more natural.

By the end of the hour, students were trading partners and practicing their waltz movements without tripping over each other or slamming into one another. The only ones who remained with the same partners throughout were Martis and Sev, and both seemed to be quite focused on the other's movements.

Finally, the lesson ended, and students returned the furniture to their normal spots and plopped down on couches and chairs to rest.

"That was fun!" Peony said.

"Completely!" a Handmaiden agreed.

Martis giggled as she and Sev sat back down. "I liked it. Sure you don't want to go to the Ball?"

"Positive," Sev replied, picking up his book again. "I might end up tripping over the Maraudiots while I dance."

"I'll keep a lookout for you."

"Forget it, Spirals."

Martis sniffed. "Fine. I'll go to the Ball without you."

Sev dropped the book. "What??"

She was already climbing up the stairs of the girls' dorm.


Martis was on her way to Divinations the next day when she was stopped on the stairs by Igor Karkaroff. He handed her a bouquet of heady, thickly-scented dark flowers and slipped her hand into his as he brought it to his lips.

"It would be a great honor to have the prettiest girl in Slytherin on my arm for the Yule Ball, for you will be the envy of all the other girls."

Martis' good-natured decline of the invitation involved her hand smacking up in his nose and the bouquet stuffed down his trousers before she booted him off down the stairs with a leg-locker hex.

One of the Woot brothers leaned over him on the landing. "That's Miss Spirals' way of saying 'no way', you stupid prat."

The other one carefully stepped on his legs as they walked over him. "And that's ours."


Sev hated Potions that day. Sonia Stellamaris made faces at him any time he glanced in her general direction, bringing back painful memories of her crude rejection of his invitation to the Valentine's Dance the year before. Lily Evans was being beseiged by nearly every guy in class to go to the Yule Ball with them (including James Potter who went so far as to wand write in the air 'Lovely Lily, please go to the Yule Ball with me!'), but she declined all invitations and said she was not interested in such things yet. Then there was Greta Bulstrode, his lab partner, being all giggly and informing everyone that Fearghus Flynn (her boyfriend for the last year) was taking her to the Ball (Greta being giggly was like a gorilla being giggly).

And then there were Martis' sisters, who made Origami owls and flew them to his desk with messages reading 'So, taking Baby Sister to the Ball, Dark Prince?' or 'Have you heard that dancing is just a step away from hoppi-hoppa?' He crumpled up the papers and threw them back at the twins, until Sirius Black caught one in midair and opened it and read aloud, "'You WILL take our sister to the Ball, Snape, or we'll hang you upside-down in the Owlery'." He turned around to the Vox twins and smirked, shaking his head. "You poor things, scraping your fingers on the bottom of the barrel to set your rabid sister up with the greasy git. You Voxes are pretty desperate to get rid of her."

Adonia blurted, "Shut your hole, Black, or I'll put you in my cauldron."

Black kowtowed, not wanting to be anywhere near Adonia's potion-work. He turned to Sev. "Hey, Snivellus, I thought you weren't going to the Ball?"

"I'm not, now follow her advice and shut - your - hole!"

"L-l-l-like he-he-hell!" Black stuttered in ridicule. Pettigrew giggled and Potter snickered. Lupin lowered his face over his cauldron and continued his work, until Artemisia bounced a wad of parchment off the back of his head and made him turn to find the source.

"Hey, Lupin, if you're a Prefect, act like one." Artemisia made a face. "Otherwise, you're giving other Prefects a bad name by letting your bed-buddy harass other students."

Lupin inhaled deeply, his face reddening, and turned to Black. "Sirius, lay off."

Black raised an eyebrow. "Remus, dear chap, did you just tell me to 'lay off'?"

"Not worth it," Lupin replied. "And why don't you do something about it that WON'T take points from Gryffindor AGAIN."

Black sat down and gumbled.

Lily Evans smiled in relief, leaning close to the Vox twins. "Thanks. I can't ride herd on those wild animals all the time."

Adonia narrowed her eyes at the redhead. "Funny, but I didn't see you stopping the harassment against Snape, either. How can you 'ride herd' when you're giving them your stamp of approval?"

Lily flushed, blinked, then turned back to her cauldron.

Adonia raised her fists and made the thumbs up towards Sev.

Sev was not looking ... the blatant call on Lily being apathetic to what was happening to him and her doing nothing as a Prefect hit him worse in the gut than it did to Lily.

Of course ... she was Gryffindor and he was Slytherin. And there was no way in hell he could ask her to a Ball, even if he did want to go because she was just too pretty and nice and ...

Was completely apathetic to him.

At least she did not hate him.


During the week, various Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor guys had asked Martis to the Yule Ball (to which she politely declined), while others asked for less-formal arrangements due to what they had seen in the calendar (those ended up walking funny and squeaking as they spoke).

By Friday, she was ready for another dance lesson.

As the girls got ready in their dorm room, Fallon asked them, "All have dates yet?"

"I do, I do!" Peony cried. "Grant Parkinson!"

"We know," Oriana Crescent sighed. "I did ask Sirius Black, but he's still pouting over what happened in the Rose Gardens. No one's asked me."

"I'll set you up with Adonia if you want," Martis offered.

"I like GUYS."

Akiko brushed her hair back. "I don't see what the big deal is about being the Champion's date. We just kick-off the dance, pose for pics, that's it. All I hear are stories about girls trying to corner Karkaroff and de Nostradom for dates."

Oriana cleared her throat.

"Well," Peony said. "Everyone's pretty much left Ryper alone after he publically stated you were his date."

Fallon glowered, filling the room with darkness.

Martis noticed it. "Don't worry, Lolita, you and me will spend the evening here."

"No, you're not," Fallon said quietly. "You're going to the Ball with Snape."

"Snips doesn't want to go."

"Surprise," Oriana commented. "I thought you both would be the first couple to form for the Ball - especially after we found out the way he dances."

"I don't see you chasing after him to ask," Martis flippantly pointed out.

"I prefer my date not to look like the south end of a northbound horse."

"No, that's what your date has to look at."

"Girls," Akiko stated. "Cut it out. It's time for the dance lesson."


Sev was shocked to find himself washing his face for the second time that evening after dinner. He had no plans to do anything ... even work on his Dark studies, which he had consciously abandoned three weeks ago.

"Come on, Snape," Evan said. "Time for dance lessons."

"Not going."

"Like hell - if the rest of us have to do it, you do, too." Not seeing Sev budge from the sink, Evan sighed dramatically. "I suppose this means someone else will dance with Spirals - let's hope we're not learning the tango tonight."

Sev's head snapped up, but he did not turn to look at the upperclassman. "What's the tango?"

"It's a very sexy dance, lots of holding and gazing and hands all over the place. Very earthy - like Spirals." Evan smirked, brushing his shaggy black hair out of his eyes. "I suppose you wouldn't mind Jonas Kennebunk or Lucius Malfoy dancing with her that way - "

Sev growled and stomped out of the bathroom.

There was NO WAY either of those two were going to take advantage of that situation while HE was around!


Martis was ready for the lesson. She was not sure if Sev was even going to show up, but she was going to have a good time learning to dance. She smoothed the turquoise chiton over her hips and shivered slightly in the cool dungeon air.

Sev suddenly appeared at the bottom of the stairs of the boys dorm and strided right over to her. "Let's get this over with," he snarled.

Martis raised an eyebrow. "Who peed in your goblet?"

Madame Meringue showed up at exactly seven o'clock, sweeping into the Slytherin common room in a short green dress that made the boys stare obsessively at her legs.

"I hope you have been practicing your waltzing," she proclaimed. "Because tonight we will take it a step up and learn the Foxtrot."

"Beg pardon?" someone asked.

"Foxtrot - a more energetic, smooth, and wider dance style than waltz. Much more foot movement, four-quarter as opposed to three-quarter time, and one-twenty to one-thirty-six beats per minute."

"Lots faster," Fearghus commented. Greta giggled.

"Music is known as jazz or swing," Madame Meringue continued. "Here's a sample."

She waved her wand and a piece of music with heavy procussions filled the air. Evan began dancing in place, then took Akiko's hand and lead her into a rather athletic version of the waltz with a lot of fast footwork.

"Very good, Monsieur Ryper," Madame Meringue commented. "I see you've had practice."

Akiko looked quite breathless as she tried to keep up with her date, although the grin was betraying her enjoyment.

"Thank you, madame," Evan replied. "My family grew up near a Muggle dance hall and this was the big thing with the classy folks."

Madame Meringue picked Sev out of the crowd and pulled him into the middle of the room near Evan and Akiko. "Monsieur Snape, your assistance please - "

Sev watched Evan carefully, followed Madame Meringue's lead, and found himself dancing the Foxtrot without any problem at all. He had to remember to keep from grinning.

Madame Meringue released him and Martis rushed up to take her place in his arms as the others began to try. "Watch it, Snips, you're glowing."

"I'm what?" he asked, readjusting his arms around Martis and guiding her around the floor.

"Glowing," she repeated. Her footwork smoothed out and she followed his lead. "Of course, most guys would glow around a woman like that."

"She's a good dancer," Sev replied.

"I thought you said she looked like your mother?"

"That doesn't detract from her being a good dancer." Sev gazed down at Martis. "What?"

Her face blossomed into a grin. "You LIKE to dance!"

Sev snorted and continued with his movement. "Behave yourself or I'll trade you out for Fallon."

"She's moping in our room - seems somebody forgot to tell her that Aki was going with Evan to the Yule Ball."

"Then I'll take her and she can stalk him there."

Martis' expression melted into a very neutral one and her sunglasses seemed to darken even further. "I thought you weren't going," she commented sharply.

"I'm not. It was merely a joke. And, frankly, I don't see the bloody importance of this stupid ball - we have one for Valentine's Day and the other for the end-of-the-year and you never became upset over them."

"I'm not upset - but I am annoyed by half of the male student body asking me to it."

Sev smirked coldly. "So, who DO you want to go with?"

"Ain't tellin'."

"Spirals!" Sev pressured her into a spin, then pulled her back against his chest. "Whom?"

Martis looked up into his face. "I'll be spending that time flying with you - that's enough for me."

Both paused in the middle of the dance, staring at each other, until Peony Danderfluff and Bill Kauffey bumped into them and sent them sprawling on the floor.

Sev gazed up at the ceiling while Martis laughed and hugged him before helping him up.


The Marauders sat at Gryffindor table Saturday morning after breakfast and compared notes on Yule Ball invites.

"I asked Lily everyday this week!" Potter said. "She said 'no' every single time, then she told me to stop stalking her!"

"Better than me," Pettigrew mumbled. "I asked one of the Beauxbatons girls and she transfigured me into a frog."

Black gave them his most obnoxious grin. "I have to beat them off."

"We hate you, Padfoot," Potter growled.

Lupin chuckled. "I don't mind not going ... "

Black smirked. "New challenge, my chaps. First one to get Brito-tart-is to go the ball with him gets to keep her to himself."

Potter and Lupin glanced at each other, then laughed.

"If you forgot, Mr. Black," Potter chortled. "The last time you tried to do anything with her, you ended up exposing yourself all over Wizarding Britain in 'The Daily Prophet'. Maybe something less dangerous - like little old pepperpots full of cobwebs and rust - "

Black flicked his wand at Potter, causing his best friend to grow an elephant nose. "Moony," he remarked to Lupin. "What do you think I should do to get Vox to agree to go with me to the Ball? It's obvious Snivellus isn't taking her."

Lupin considered several courses of action. He himself wanted to ask her, and if Black was going to do it, there may be no chance. Or ruin HIS chance with Miss Britomartis.

"Hmm," Lupin hummed, pressing his fingers to his forehead. "Perhaps you can try giving her orange blossoms and asking politely - pointing out that a truce can be called into effect for the duration of the Ball and a promise that you won't dump her freezing body into a snow drift."

"I play the game right, she won't be frozen."

Pettigrew tried to change Potter's nose back and only succeeded in turning the elephant trunk into a macaw beak.

Lupin rolled his eyes, but decided to play along with it ... all the better chance for him. "Play that angle up then - make sure that she won't be cold and that you'll warm her up in any way she wants."

"Good, good." Black smirked. "I'll definitely go for that." He casually turned Potter's nose back to normal. "Wish me luck, boys."

Black got up and left, and the rest of the Marauders remained silent as he exited the Great Hall.

"Five-to-one she hits him in the crotch," Pettigrew said.

"Three-to-one says she turns his head into something horrible," Potter added.

Lupin folded up his notebooks and left the Great Hall as well.


Remus Lupin paused before one of the mirrors in the hall, checked his shaggy ginger-colored hair and his simple brown sweater and jeans, and made his way toward the library.

Unlike Black, he had an idea of where Miss Britomartis spent her Saturday mornings - usually curled up on one of the library window benches and reading ancient Greek texts. Snape was usually off somewhere in another part of the library or in the potions lab, so there would be no interruptions from him.

Lupin entered the library and looked around the window benches until he finally found her.

A waterfall of ash blonde hair trailing over her shoulder and brushing against the floor, her strong legs showcased in tight jeans, and her curvy torso barely contained in a lowcut blue top with bell sleeves. Sunglasses, as always; book in hand.

Lupin felt his blood-pressure rise. The window seat was just wide enough and had just enough cushions to be very comfortable for long hours of playing with her hair and delicately caressing her throat and peeling those clothes off -

He slapped himself. He was no better than Black. No, he was better than Black - Padfoot just wanted to have her grovelling at his power ove her while Lupin just wanted to make her squeal and shudder in ecstasy -

He slapped his face again. If he kept thinking along those lines, he would be in no shape to ask her to any type of dance ... and he had really been practicing his dance lessons with Madame Meringue in Gryffindor on Sunday and Thursday.

Lupin cleared his throat gently and carefully approached her. Martis looked up.

"Mr. Lupin," she stated.

"Miss Britomartis," he returned. "I did say it was all right to call me Remus."

"Nothing doing, Mr. Lupin." She shut the book and cocked her head. "What are your girlfriends cooking up for Snips and me?"

"Nothing much - well, Sirius thinks you're going to agree to go to the Yule Ball with him."

He was not sure if she was laughing or choking, probably both. "Come and sit with me, Lupin. You're safe when you're by yourself."

Lupin sat on the other end of the window seat at her feet. "Nice to know you hold me in such high regard."

Martis smirked. "I know they never send you out to do their dirty work, so you're on you're own right now."

"Quite right." He was surprised when she placed her feet in his lap and relaxed back against the wall. Surely she had to know what effect this had on him!

"So you came to warn me about Sillyass Prat's plan to try to get in my knickers again?"

"Partially." (Now or never, Lupin.) "I actually came to ask ... "

He looked up to her face as she lowered her sunglasses down to focus on him. Moss green eyes and soft lips ...

"Yes?" she prodded.

(Miss Britomartis, I'm going to lay you out across this window seat, tear your clothes off, and make you scream for God - ) "Miss Britomartis, I would be quite honored if you would allow me to take you to the Yule Ball."

Her mouth slacked open a moment, then the sunglasses dropped from her face. "Oh ... " Another dreadful moment of silence. "You really are serious, aren't you, Remus Lupin?"

"Yes." Lupin leaned forward, crawling up to her with his arms on either side of her legs until his face was within inches of hers, his chest against hers, and her scent filled his nose. "Please say 'yes', Miss Britomartis."

Martis leaned back, raising a hand up and pressing it against his chest. "Mr. Lupin, you and I both know Black, Potter, Pettigrew, and Severus won't approve of this. We belong to rival factions; if neither of us did, maybe ... " She blushed. "Why are you asking, anyway?"

Lupin pulled back. (Oh, because I really want to shag you all across the school and - ) "Because I actually respect your mind and brilliance, unlike those clowns I run around with."

"Usually good reasons." Martis sat up and leaned across to him. "I'm sorry, I must decline your offer, Mr. Lupin."

Lupin lowered his eyes.

" - If I do go to the Ball, though, I promise I will dance with you."

Lupin looked up. "Thank-you, but why?"

"For warning me about Sneerius. And for being a gentleman in how you asked."

He smiled slightly. "Only thing I could do right now. Sorry to bother you."

"No bother at all, Lupin. Thanks." She blew him a kiss as he got up and she went back to her book.

Lupin left the library feeling both crushed and elated. Well, no date, but she did promise to dance with him. And blew him a kiss, which is more than he ever expected. Maybe things could develop from there, especially during a tango ...


Sev ascended the stairs from the potions lab and made his way toward the Great Hall for lunch. Sartoris wanted an update on his studies, to which Sev politely toold him to 'shove it' in a dark orifice. He needed a break, he had told the Potions Master, and he was going to take it.

Sev was actually hoping not to go back to studying Dark Arts.

He was pushed aside by a flock of giggling girl entering the Great Hall. One of them leaned away from the group and called out, "Hey, Snape, I'd go with you to the Yule Ball, but I'm not that desperate!"

Sev sneered and muttered about her acne loud enough for the rest of the girls to give him dirty looks.

With previous school dances, nobody was required to bring a date. After all, everyone below Fourth-Year was invited, so there was no point in having dates for those.

However, this stupid Ball was bringing out the worst in everybody, and it was a worst that he was unfamiliar with, which made it all the more horrible.

He was so glad he was going to spend that time during the Ball with Martis, flying over the pitch in the cold moonlight ... and maybe even dancing by themselves on the moors.

Sev pulled his mind from that; he really should not be thinking of being alone with her. Their encounter with the Dark Wizard was still fresh in his mind even though it felt like it occurred a thusand years ago. Besides, she was still under that Sword of Damocles by simply associating with him. What would happen if Sartoris found out? Or his father finding out? Or that Dark Wizard returning next year or the year after?

He slipped onto the bench of his table and folded his arms as he lay his head down on them. No one would know this Darkness, and no one needed to. Not even Martis.


Martis was about to enter the Great Hall when Sirius Black approached her from the opposite direction.

"There you are!" he cried.

"I haven't done anything to you this week, Black, so go away."

"No, no, this has nothing do with our little rivalry. I merely have a question for you."

Martis smirked. "No, I will not let you see me in my knickers, no matter what that double of me said."

Black raised an eyebrow and sneered. "Don't fool yourself, Vox, you're about as sexy as a billiwig pinned to a wall."

"Yeah, that's why you wanted to meet my double in the Rose Gardens and - "

"Shut up about that and let me state the official, formal version: I offer to go with you to the Yule Ball, Vox, to prove to the student body that we can be civil to each other and not degenerate into crass prank-pulling during such an important event."

Martis smirked again. "How honest of you."

"Of course, I also add that I won't allow you to freeze at all." Black moved toward her, his eyebrows arching in an obscene manner. "In fact, I'll keep you warm however you wish - OW!"

Martis removed her fingers from his solar plexus. "Tempting offer, Sillyass, but you still have it in your head that I would willingly share my body with you in ways that would make me nauseous - AND you seemed to have forgotten that not less than three weeks ago, I was your worst anti-feminined-principle nightmare." She leaned close to his face and whispered, "If you'd like to deal with a bloody, bloated mess then I 'm sure - "

She never got to finish, as Black moved away from her and snarled, "Disgusting bitch! Keep your filthy female problems away from me! I promise you, there won't be any offers EVER again!"

"Thank the Great Mother," Martis sighed in relief as she entered the Great Hall. "Another traumatized boy. My work is done."

Half of the Marauders, several Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and a few Ravenclaw boys, that Karkaroff character asking her ... she had no idea she was so popular. Really no excuse to not just accept an invitation from the next person -

James Potter swaggered up to her and stated, "Hey, Vox, wanna go to the Ball with me? You don't have to dance with me, I'm just trying to make Evans jealous - YAAAH!"

Potter had to skip lunch to go to the hospital wing for Pomfrey to uncharm his glasses from his ... well, never mind.


Monday night came again, and dance lessons for Slytherin commenced under the watchful eye of Madame Meringue.

"Tonight, we will learn one of the more ... dramatic dances for the Ball. It is an Argentinian dance that had swept the world with its passion and intensity - it is the Tango."

A few of the Slytherins perked up.

"This is a much more intricate dance than the waltz and the foxtrot, so I have asked Professeur Flavert to assist me in demonstrating it."

Miss Price escorted the Beauxbatons Headmaster into the common room and he greeted the students politely. "Well, Madame Meringue, shall we give them a treat and execute our opening dance for our End-of-Year Ball?"

"Only as a demonstration of what kind of art the tango can lead to, my dear Professeur Flavert." She stood in the middle of the common room, her figure straight and looking quite lovely in the short red gown with ruffles on the hems. She sharply raised her wand from her side and a lone violin slid through the opening notes of a Spanish piece.

The wand came down sharply and she tapped her high heel against the stone floor once.

Headmaster Flavert tipped his top hat off and flung it away, allowing it to land on one of the couches. His cane and gloves followed, all landing artfully around the top hat.

Madame Meringue raised her left arm, tapping out each beat with her heel.

Flavert did the same, his left arm raised and his foot tapping in time with her's.

Sev counted out the beats - quick-quick-slow-slow-quick - as Flavert and Meringue slid to each beat toward each other until their chests were pressed against the other's and their left palms met over their heads.

Quite suddenly, the tempo shifted and their arms went up into a closed hold - his left and her right hand clasped near shoulder level, his right hand on the small of her back, her left hand on his right shoulder. Their faces whipped toward their clasped hands and they stepped across the floor in the same direction, their bodies close and slinking like synchronized cats.

Another five beats and both stood straight, Flavert whirling Meringue out in a sharp twirl and releasing her. She halted, her chest thrust out as she stepped back, and he stalked her back to the middle of the common room. They circled each other for five beats, then she twirled back up to him, wrapped one leg around his waist, their arms back to closed hold, and he dragged her as he danced backward, their faces within inches of each other as they stared intensely into the other's eyes.

Martis clutched Sev's arm. "Great Mother, it's beautiful, Snips!"

Sev bit his lip; it was obvious the tango was more of an free-form dance, one that relied on drama, sharp movements, and intensity to carry it off. And complete trust of the partner.

Madame Meringue and Headmaster Flavert ended their number with her dipped back in his arm, and the students cheered and whistled.

Both adults returned to standing position and Madame Meringue panted slightly. "Of course, this sort of dance can lead into other things."

"What sort of things?" Peony asked.

She blinked, then replied, "I'll tell you when you're thirty."

Martis giggled, as did a few other students. Sev ignored it; perhaps he should sit out this lesson -

"What superficially appears to be a male-dominated dance is actually a dance of equality," Mamdame Meringue said. "The male partner may guide the direction, but the female partner ultimately decides the contact and flair. Professeur Flavert and I will demonstrate a few of the simpler steps - "

Sev got up, but Martis caught his sweater sleeve. "Where are you going?"

"Sitting this one out."


"Because I don't want to learn this."

Martis relesed him. "All right. I'll dance with one of the Quidditch players, then." She glanced over the assorted players who were getting slaps on the hands from their partners for placing their hands lower than where they were supposed to be.

Sev turned back to Martis and hauled her up by her hand. "No one practices the tango on the squealing tart of Slytherin but me."

Martis raspberried him. "Someday, I will call you on that."

Sev arranged his arms around her and she did the same around him. "You and I both know that it won't. I'm merely doing this to keep your virtue intact during practice."

They watched the Headmaster and dance instructor show the steps, then the students copied them.

"Humph," Martis commented. "Who says I'm even going to the Yule Ball?"

"Exactly; we're going out flying while these plebians trip over each other."

They were unaware of their movements and even more unaware of everyone pausing and pulling away as the two became silent and concentrated on the dance.

Sev and Martis circled each other, then pulled away and stalked, their eyes glued to the other's. He suddenly pulled her into a closed position and both executed fast and percise ornate footwork that they had seen the Beauxbatons instructors do in their first dance, the two Slytherins stomping to the quick-quick-slow-slow-quick beat.

Martis felt her heart race as she stared into his face, feeling every cell in her body alive and pulsing with energy. He was intense, challenging her, pushing her to the limit - and she had never felt more aroused in her young life.

He returned her gaze, allowing the movements to flow out as they wanted, no matter where they led or what they did. He was quite aware of his hand moving down her hips, then back up to her waist in ways that inflamed his emotions and should have triggered Protection Spells.

Sev released her into a spin and Martis returned, her hand on his shoulder, her other hand holding his cheek, and her nose touching his, their lips quite close. Their gaze into each other's eyes was quite fierce, and it was obvious to everyone living and breathing that it was simply more than part of the dance's drama.

Sev enclosed his hand over hers and brought her hand to his lips, darting his tongue out to lick then kiss the tips of her fingers before whirling her around - causing her hair to wrap around the both of them - and slunk across the floor.

Akiko looked up at Evan. "I could swear, the Protection Spells should have gone off three times already."

"Should have," Evan agreed quietly. "I'm sure none of the loopholes apply."

Akiko's ears perked up. "'Loopholes'?? The Anti-Hanky-Panky Spells have LOOPHOLES?"

Evan flushed, then looked away. "Oh, my, I have a dentist's appointment in London - "

"Talk or else."

Evan placed his finger on her lips, which she licked and kissed - resulting in a shower of ice water to rain down on them. Nobody noticed, as they were too wrapped up with the dance.

Akiko shivered and gasped, "Yes, it should have gone off on them, too!"

Evan stared at her. "Miss Mori, this implies things about ourselves - "

"Shut up."

"Should we break them up?" Keith Woot asked his brother, cocking his head toward their Beater and her friend tango-ing through the common room.

Ryan Woot shook his head. "Miss Spirals is enjoying it."

Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black fumed. "Show-offs," Narcissa finally huffed.

The music reached the final peak, and Sev spun Martis out, then pulled her back in, dipping her down and holding up her raised leg against his hip.

The clapping and cheers brought them back to their surroundings and they stared at the circle of Housemates around them. Martis blushed and grinned, while Sev lowered his face and quickly made his way to the back to the room.

"Very well done!" Madame Meringue cried, clapping. "Very well executed, if a little clumsy due to being the first time. All right, students, I'm sure the rest of you can do just as well ... "

Martis wandered away from the rest of the class and joined Sev on the couch he was curled up on. "Severus, I want to go with you to the Yule Ball."

He looked up at her, his brows furrowed and his liquid black eyes wide in panic. "No. I said I wasn't going. If you want to go, go ahead, I'm not stopping you." He pulled his knees to his chin and gazed at her over his worn trouser-knees. "It'll be better for you to hang around with other people anyway."

Martis sat on the couch near his feet, resting her chin on his knees. "I don't want to be around these bores without you."

"Why has this stupid ball suddenly become so important?"

Martis lowered her eyes. "It's not really the Ball, it's the dancing."

"Dancing?" Sev repeated, then narrowed his eyes and snorted. "There's plenty of guys that wouldn't mind 'dancing' with you - how many have asked? Half of the male student population? Including professors??"

"You're being childish."

"No, you are! I thought we agreed - " He lowered his voice. "I thought we agreed to not bother with 'that' sort of thing until much later."

Martis pulled back. "Sev, you're the one who brought 'that' up, not me."

He leaned forward. "It's certainly what you've been implying - "

She brought her hand to her mouth. "How dare you!" She pulled her hand away. "Ever since that stupid Dark Wizard, you've been trying to push me away - well, go ahead! Say it! Tell me to get lost so you won't have to deal with me anymore because it seems all I want from you is your get! SAY IT!"

Sev gazed at her, sneering, then turned his head away. "You know I can't. It'd be like giving up breathing."

"Then can you accept my childish rants as childish rants? It's not the end of the world if I go or not. If I do, I'd rather it be with you because we'll make our fun together. If not, then I'd rather hang around with you and make our fun without anyone else around. I'm not picky - I'm chosing to be with you no matter where you decide to be."

Sev looked back at her. "Promise?"

"Yes. No more talk about the Yule Ball."

He brushed a loose forelock back to his ear. "All right." He got up and offered his hand to her. "Want to dance, Miss Vox?"

She accepted his hand. "Delighted, Mr. Snape."


Tuesday morning's Herbology lesson for Third-Years was interrupted by Professor Sprout screaming when she went to the back of the greenhouse to find a specific plant.

The students rushed over to where she was, finding her standing shock still as she stared at the table of seedlings under the heated canopy.

A snake's head appeared amid the seedlings, its mouth open and threatening her with a territorial hiss.

"Medusa!" Martis cried. "What are you doing??"

The snake perked up slightly, then moved around the small cleared area to reveal -

"Eggs!" Taliesin Blotts exclaimed.

Amid the peat moss covering the table were four largish, elongated snake eggs.

"Medusa," Martis stated, petting her familiar's head. "Why didn't you tell me you were a mommy?"

"Miss Vox," Professor Sprout said. "What is going on?"

"Oh, my snake just laid her clutch - which is very weird, because I know I didn't get her bred and its too soon in the year." She stroked under the python's chin. "No wonder you haven't been eating! You knocked yourself up!"

Several of the other students giggled and blushed.

Professor Sprout sighed. "We need to get this taken care of."


Getting 'taken care of' involved Martis running into the Great Hall for lunch and yelling, "Snips! Medusa laid her first clutch! We're grandparents!"

Varied reactions from disinterest to disbelief filled everyone else's faces all along Slytherin table as Martis sat down across from Sev.

Sev raised an eyebrow, then raised his goblet and said, "Congratulations - youngest grandmother in the Wizarding world at fourteen."

Akiko Mori spoke up, "Henrietta Hexwood could claim that at sixteen in 1543 - youngest-ever maker of homonoculi."

"Do you want one of the babies, Snips?" she asked, ignoring the pedantic overachiever.

"No, I'm fine. Where is the proud mother?"

"Camped out in the greenhouse; Sprout's letting me keep them there, but she wants them out when they're hatched."

"How many?"

"Four." She leaned against him and grinned. "I'm sorry I'm so excited about this, but this is her first clutch."

Sev patted her shoulder. "So who's the sire of this lot?"

"I don't know. She went out and did it on her own. I know three other students have snakes - two are my sisters' and they're female, and the male one is locked up in the boys' dorm in Slytherin."

"Strange indeed," Sev agreed. "We'd be able to tell by their coloring and patterns and such when they're born, right?"

"Hopefully. I only hope Medusa will be able to part with them when they're slightly older."

"Snakes aren't very attached to their young, you know."

"I know, but she's been taught to look after human babies - I don't know if that affects her own reptilian maternal instincts." Martis smiled slightly. "My snake got pregnant and is going to be a mother - !"

Sev was still quite mystified as to why she was this excited over it, and decided he needed some expert advice.


"We heard about Baby Sister's snake," Adonia commented later on in the library. "Odd to be breeding this time of year, but not unheard of."

"Yes, we know, but why is she so ... ecstatic about it?" Sev asked.

"Medusa?" Artemisia asked.


The twins glanced at each other, then giggled. Finally, they stopped giggling and smiled gently. "It's part of our culture, Snape," Artemisia explained. "We're taught from a very young age to equate snakes with fertility, and proof of snake fertility is a ... "

Adonia picked up and added, "Turn on."

"A what??" Sev asked in disbelief.

"Not the right words, sister," Artemisia chided her twin. "A subconscious signal of sexual maturity."

Sev was silent; just as Artemisia was about to say something, Sev blurted, "What is it with your culture and sex all the time??? It's a bloody nusance and an embarrassment and I can't take this anymore from her because it's not the right time with damned Dark Wizards promising to interfere and we're in school and - "

The twins tuned out his rant and glanced at each other.

"Poor guy, our island sensuality is chipping away at his aristocratic British coolness."

"Shall we offer our bets on Ryper's betting pool on when it happens?"

"I say by spring Baby Sister will be singing praises about his skillful fingers."

"You are a foul creature, Doni. I say he's going to end up kissing her at the Yule Ball."

"I bet he's going to kiss her when they DON'T go to the Yule Ball."

"You're on."

Sev was still on his rant when the twins finished out their deal and arranged a galleon on their bet concerning himself and their sister.


As Slytherin House was going back to the common room for Friday night dance lessons, Peter Pettigrew stopped Martis in the corridor outside the Great Hall and said, "Hey, Vox, wanna go to the dance? The rest of the guys asked, so I figured I would, too, and try to get some groping time INNNNYYAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!"

"Ewwww," several people commented and stepped around the blobby mess of tentacles and ooze that had once been Pettigrew.

Not having witnessed the previous act in the hallway, Fred Holden (the Marauders' unsung roommate) walked out of the Great Hall, saw the tentacle monster, and automatically called, "Hi, Pettigrew."

Martis blew the tip of her wand in a theatrical fashion, then slipped it back in her robe. "Anybody else want to ask while I'm here?? Come on - I'm sure there's somebody that thinks I'm as easy as Nasty-issa's calendar tried to make me out to be!"

Michel de Nostradom immediately turned to Lily Evans and asked, "I only ask vous to bey mah date for zee Yule Ball becauze I enjoy your charm work, Madamoiselle Evans. A naturale taleent!"

Lily blushed daintily, then quietly accepted his invitation.

Potter and Black stared gap-mouthed as de Nostradom offered to escort her to Gryffindor Tower and she placed her arm in his offered arm.

The two Marauders whipped their heads around at Martis. "HOW DID YOU DO THAT??" Potter demanded. "I've been trying to get her to go with me for two weeks now!"

Martis shook her head. "That's pretty sad, Jimmy-baby, that a French boy is a hotter ticket than you." She turned around and walked back toward the stairs to the dungeons.

"Hey, Snake-Bitch," Black called. "Change Wormtail back!"

"No," Martis answered, not turning back. "Let him stay that way, as a token of remembering how NOT to ask a girl to go to a dance." She paused and glanced back at them, smirking. "You all could take lessons from Remus Lupin on how to ask in a gentlemanly fashion."

Potter and Black turned back to their group's werewolf.

Lupin blushed bright red and muttered, "She declined, but she did promise to dance with me if she went."

Potter and Black chased Lupin all the way to Gryffindor Tower while Pettigrew the Tentacle Monster sat in the corridor and grossed people out with his slimy visage.


Sev stopped Madame Meringue outside of the Slytherin common room. "What dance are you teaching tonight?"

"General moves tonight, Monsieur Snape, ones that aren't as stylized and are for more modern music."

"Nothing as intense as the tango or anything?"

Madame Meringue smiled and giggled. "Why do you ask? It is because you may end up cornering your partner with a horizontal dance number?"

Sev's entire body turned scarlet as he blushed bright enough to light up the corridor. "None of your business!" he snarled before turning around and yelling the password at the wall to enter the common room.


In the girls' dorm, Akiko entered the dorm room, looked around to make sure it was only her, then shut the door and leaned against it.

She had finally managed to make Evan Ryper tell her about the Protection Spells of the Anti-Hanky-Panky System put up around Slytherin dorms when the castle was first built.

And the 'loopholes' he had mentioned puzzled her the most.

According to his own research, there did exist 'loopholes' in the system that allowed incidents that could be construed as normally 'naughty' by the spells to be let go without a blink from the system.

Three loopholes - one was that the pair in question were not aroused by the action. An accident, essentially, like a guy bumping into a girl and grabbing a part of her by mistake to keep from falling. Or a girl tripping and landing front first against a guy. That sort of thing.

The second loophole was a person incapable of being aroused could not set it off. St. Mungo's psychiatric division was still investigating brain damage and the effects it had on magic usage, so it was safe to say that if that part of the brain was damaged or deformed, something like that would be affected as well. Sometimes closet homosexuals trying to 'prove' their heterosexuality had been caught like that, but not recently as social mores changed.

The third loophole was that the spells recognized the pair in question to be married. Evidently it was not uncommon during the early days of Hogwarts for fifteen or sixteen-year-old brides - or younger, as was the custom in those days - to attend the school, especially in Slytherin House where Pureblood families practiced early marriages. Salazar Slytherin may have been a Paranoid Dark Old Coot, but he was still an aristocrat and understood such things.

The first loophole did not apply to Snips and Spirals - it was as obvious to everyone else as it was oblivious to them - the Dark Prince and the Darling of Slytherin were quite interested in each other, everybody knew that. They had already set off Protection Spells before.

The second loophole was a ditto for the same reasons; and Akiko had seen the way they had stared at each other. VERY interested.

But the third loophole ... ? Married? As in what, just a ceremony or something much deeper that related to karma and honor ... ?

Akiko comptemplated that as she got ready for the dance lesson.

No way she would tell her roommate that she suspected such a thing. And Snape ... only the Great O-Kuni-Nushi would have any idea what he would do if he found out. As far as either was concerned, they were not going to know about this little loophole at all.

After all, she heard the horror stories Phaedra's roommates relate about her pregnancy weirdness in their dorm, especially the cravings for lime sorbet in the middle of the night.


Martis admitted to herself she had been good the past week. With the surprise of finding Medusa clutching already, she was aware of her own reactions and made sure not to frighten Sev with her excitement. He was jittery as it was, and she was not going to bother him anymore with her little cultural differences that had her daydreaming of dancing with him to the point in which the movements became coiling and sensuous and -

She mentally slapped herself, glancing around the common room to make sure no one noticed her thinking too loudly. That was the problem with being in touch with such an earthy background ... sap flows strong, and nobody else could catch up with it unless they were from the same culture.

Poor Snips ... she frightened him so much. He came to school so he would not be frightened by his father, now she had to be careful not to frighten him.

At least when this Moontime started it was not as bad as the last, and she was able to channel the emotions into Medusa's clutch.

Yes, on Moontime. No chance of ANYTHING happening, even if he did agree in some fit of madness.

Martis was startled when Sev plopped down next to her on the couch, fuming enough to light up the area around them. "What?"

He turned to her, sniffed, then sighed. "Nothing. Just generally irritated is all."

"Snips, this is bad, you're beginning to display my PMS."

"That is a mean thing to say."

"Bother," she replied with a poke to the shoulder.

He gazed at her, then poked her back. "Bother."





This carried on for another two minutes until Sev pinned her to the couch amid her mad giggling and he shouted, "BOTHER - I win!"

Thomas grinned. "You notice he's been winnin' a lot more often lately?"

"Don't say it outloud, he may notice," Evan agreed. "What've we got on the tables for them?"

Thomas pulled a notebook out of his pocket. "Sixty percent say they're going to the Yule Ball together. Twenty-nine-point-five percent say they'll stay in the common room during the Yule Ball. And ten percent say they'll end up in the Rose Gardens no matter what."

"What about the point-five percent?"

"That's the one placed by Lucius Malfoy that says both will choke and die."

Evan smirked. "Malfoy is such a smeghead."


"GO AWAY!" Martis shrieked as she returned from the mini-match between Slytherin and Ravenclaw on Saturday morning.

"But Panni Vox - " Igor cried as he followed her.

She spun around, her Quidditch broomhead pointing directly at his throat. "Leave - me - alone - Karkaroff!"

He whipped out a bouquet of flowers, all of them even darker and more intense with heavy scents than the last one. "Please go to the Yule Ball with me."

"I told you 'no' - I haven't changed my mind, you freak!"

"What's going on??" another teenage male's voice called.

Martis spun in relief, trying to find her best friend in the mob of students in the hall. "Snips!"

Sev appeared. His green and silver scarf was neatly wrapped around his neck, having just gotten out of the Slytherin stands and following his House team back to the common room.

He glared at the Eastern European student, his black eyes and dark brows conveying the involvement of pain if the other boy annoyed him enough. In his darkest voice he stated, "I trust you are not harrassing Miss Vox."

Karkaroff raised an eyebrow. "Mr. Snape, I am merely requesting Panni Vox to accompany me to the Yule Ball."

Sev felt for his wand, ready to hex this foreign upstart.

Martis thunked the Durmstrang student in the middle of the forehead with a finger. "I told you, I don't want to go with you!"

Sev released his wand, not wanting to cause a scene in public. But still, perhaps a solo hexing of the intruder who dared to bother his Martis ... later. In a dark corridor. Without any witnesses. Perhaps involving his fists in Karkaroff's ugly mug.

"But an attractive young lady such as yourself - why are you laughing?"

Martis stopped giggling. "Sorry, I thought you were talking about me."

"I was."

Sev glowered.

She broke into giggles again. "Go walk off the cliff, Karkaroff! I'm not going with you."

"Then whom?"

Martis' eyes darted behind her sunglasses, then she clutched Sev's arm. "I'm going with Severus to the Yule Ball."

Karkaroff stared bug-eyed, just as much as Sev did. The students around them did not bother since most were half-expecting it.

Seeing an opening (and a chance to really yank Igor's leg off), Martis pushed forward the attack. "I can't help it," she purred, running her hand along Sev's shoulders and her other hand caressing the robe over his chest. "Something about him just sets me on ... fire."

Sev, more furious than embarrassed, grasped her arm and pulled her harshly down the hall, leaving the horrified Karkaroff in the middle of the corridor.

"What the HELL was that about, Spirals?!" he demanded.

"Ow! Snips, you're hurting me!"

He loosened his grip on her arm and spun her around to face him. "What the HELL where you doing back there??"

"It never bugged you before," she said as she rubbed her arm. "Besides, what are you acting mad about? I thought you couldn't stand him, either."

"I don't! But what about that stupid Yule Ball and - "

"I had to get rid of him. Besides, everyone thinks we're 'together' anyway, so everyone will back it up - and wouldn't you rather go with me?"

He gazed at her, feeling his face flush and a roaring in his ears. "Huh?"

"I know it's policy not to go to school dances but this will only come once while we're both here, so why don't we go together - " She was getting redder in the face as she hurried her words. " - And of course we don't have to do anything, we can just sit in the back and talk and maybe dance a little. It's not really a date, it's just two friends going to a party together - "

"Spirals, shut up." He folded his arms. "I was rather looking forward to flying over the Quidditch pitch again."

"Valentine's Dance, then," she assured him. "I promise we'll fly over the pitch during that."

Sev bit his lip. "All right." He leaned his face close to hers, holding her chin with his fingers as his black eyes gazed over the sunglasses and into her moss green eyes. "But, Martis, I want you to promise me that you will not get close to Karkaroff."

She nodded in his hand. "I don't like him. He feels odd." She lowered her eyes. "I know how weird this sounds, but it feels like he's undressing me with his eyes."

Sev raised an eyebrow. "I promise to kill him should he attempt anything."

"It's probably my own paranoia."

"It's a safe way to think - nobody surprises you."

Martis kissed his chin and looked up at him. "Better find a way to locate a dress robe, Snips."

Sev released her and rolled his eyes as they continued on to Slytherin dorms. "Does it really matter how I look?"

"Not to me; you can show up in your shorts for all I care, but it may be too cold."

"Granted." He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, her leather armor creaking in response, and he wondered what he was getting himself into.


Martis entered her dorm room, shut the door, and announced, "Severus is taking me to the Yule Ball."

"ABOUT BLOODY TIME," Fallon answered, getting up and pulling her cloak out of her wardrobe. "Come on, clean-up, I'll get the rest."

"For what?"

"Taking you shopping for your gown, of course - our roommates have been waiting for it to be official for days now. Come on, hurry up."

Martis shrugged and went to take her shower.


Sev entered his own dorm room and said nothing.

"Heard you finally told Miss Spirals you're taking her to the Yule Ball, Snape," Demetrius commented.

"Who told you?"

"All of Slytherin knew before you got back here."

Sev mumbled about grapevines, threw his scarf, cloak, and robe off, and fell back on his bed, staring up at the green canopy and really wondered what he was getting into.



Author's Note:

Thanks for the support in regards to the story arc and my writing. I do hope to attain professional status someday, but I still feel my writing is not up to proper publishable material (despite the crap I see on the market).

I cannot deny that as I write, I am becoming sadder and sadder at the arrival of the separation of Snips and Spirals. I am finding that as I write out their school history together, they have taken over and have carried the stories on their own ... because that is what characters do.

I write this note on New Year's Eve, which is always a maudlin time for me, and the prospect of pulling apart these two darlings is heartbreaking. I know I had established in my slapped-together sloppy mess of 'Lady of Slytherin' (written in six days and showing it) that both had to be separated for events to unfold properly. In the Madwands stories (featured on Prince-Consort Tesser's profile) I have/will outline the reasons why it had to be done (Cleopatra explaining them, very likely), for the survival of the Wizarding world and the continued safety of the Muggle world.

But it still hurts. I've become accustomed to seeing the young faces of Snips and Spirals peering back at me from my monitor and telling me what they think and feel and want and deny themselves - little stories of their childhoods, pranks they've always wanted to do, intimacies they desperately want to share with the other but are afraid to show their raw souls, even to each other.

One more story after this one, then I'll flash-forward to their adult-selves again in the SnS version of 'Prisoner of Azkaban' (which I need to finish reading). Several preliminary chapters have already been written, just need to reorganize my notes and slip back into thinking like a Wizarding adult again.

SnS forever.