Disclaimer: All the characters in this story don't belong to me, they are the property of JK Rowling, all the settings etc belong to her to, the only thing I claim is the plot and the odd character you've never met before.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoy this story... It's a little strange working on Harry's sixth year... When Severus Snape meets the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher could he detest her any more? Please read and see what you think...  Okay… I've… or more like Green Pig Proud Hufflepuff (shrugs) has helped me to revise this chapter so far…  So I'm altering stuff so that it fits in with book five, not that I need to change too much… and more stuff that fits in, and to make it sound better, some parts were a little flat and some parts were a lil ditsy!  But I've tried to correct myself so yay for me!  Anyway For anyone whose reading it again,  it is being slowly altered see if you can spot the changes.  Anyone new, think yourself lucky, the first chapter isn't as sucky as it was!  I.C. Fire~

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You are walking down a tunnel, only one that will never end. The mist consumes your soul and even the past is hazy, the escape is out of sight and all that is left is the darkness. The emptiness eventually swallows everything.

Natural Veritaserum

Ice and Fire

The cobbled road of Hogsmeade is parched, the sun has returned to a storm scorched sky. His head held high as the sun ripped through the mystical village - Severus Snape strode through the crowds of witches and wizards milling around towards the Three Broomsticks.  His black robes caught by the wind lightly sweeping over the cobbles.  His mood was not the best it could be.  School would be starting again soon, in two days in fact.  He was not looking forward to trying to control Harry Potter and friends in their sixth year at Hogwarts; their presence in his classes was usually intolerable for him.  The previous five years had taken their toll, he felt like he'd aged considerably just from being in the teenager's presence.

He opened the door to the quaint little pub, which was filled with happy people, but he was not interested in that.  He was looking for something stronger than Butterbeer so he settled himself by the bar and sat for most of the afternoon with his head in his hands watching every drink for about half an hour before downing it and shouting for another.

The evening drew on and a woman with short black hair that had been tied loosely at the back seated herself confidently next to Snape.  She had a very strong physique and slender form, she called softly to the bar tender in order to get his attention, and he was only too happy to help her.  Snape, slightly drunk and agitated looked up at her and noticed that her hair lay hanging in un-plaited strands to her shoulder blades, she sat with an air of confidence and graciously smiled back at the bartender once he placed her drink in front of her.  Snape felt insulted; the bar man was helping her before him! He glanced up again at the woman; his eyes a little slower than normal as they wandered over her legs that were not covered by robes like everyone else in the pub.

She was dressed as a Muggle exposing her legs to quite a high level wearing only shorts and a sweatshirt.  She looked kind of worn out, as his eyes met her face he noticed the shiny complexion she had, it was glistening with perspiration, but not too much that the sweat was visible.  The stranger had not noticed his wandering eyes, as he noticed her flirtation with the bar tender, but he missed the fact that she was wearing no shoes.  Snape jumped to his feet out raged by the lack of drinks he appeared to be receiving and began raving like a lunatic at the bar man.

"Calm down Professor Snape!"  The young man said before pointing his wand at Snape to calm him down.  It however did not save the young woman from the sharp edge of Snape's tongue.

"How dare you sit in here acting like you own the damn place you stupid Muggle.  Wander in from the street did we?"  He said patronisingly shaking his empty glass around.  "You think we were all in fancy dress?"  He snapped.

"Snape is it?"  The bartender looked at her oddly surprised by how calm she was when faced by a man on the brink of violence.

"Yes," was the reply from the bar man, shaking his head as he returned to drying glasses.

"Look Snape...." She continued turning her dull green eyes on Snape.

"No, you look you... You Muggle woman! You think-" But he was cut off abruptly by the sharp blow to the nose he received from the extreme power of her right hook that was delivered with great precision so much so that he actually felt his nose crack from the foreign force acting upon it.  Snape was thrust backwards into the bar where he curled up clutching his face.  His nose had gained yet another avoidable notch.  It was facing forty-five degrees in the wrong direction.

"You broke my dose," was the muffled surprise of the now completely sober Snape.

"I do not need a lecture on Muggles from you Professor!"  She said indignantly before downing in one what was left of her drink and storming out.

The atmosphere of the bar returned quickly to its usual mumble of trivial chit-chat between friends when the door closed behind her, a few people looked down at Snape with amused expressions but quickly returned to their drinks when he glared at them (still clutching his broken nose).  He stood back up and tossed a coin to the bartender for the drinks and strode from the pub feeling like an idiot with the locals sniggering at him in their seats.

Outside in the cool summer evening he looked first to the immediate paths away from the pub, determined to find that woman and make her pay for the humiliation she caused him to suffer, but then saw no one. He clenched his teeth in anger and swept off back to the castle of Hogwarts

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Back in the halls of Hogwarts two days later Snape walked moodily towards Professor Dumbledore's office.  His deep voice uttering inaudible mumbles as he passed some sniggering portraits that had seen his nose two days earlier – it was still swollen, but at least it was facing front now.  "One more word Cadogan and you won't have a frame to run to!"  He growled.

He headed to the staff meeting as Dumbledore had something important to tell them – again - more than likely it was going to be something to do with the next Defence Against the Dark Arts position and how yet again it was not going to be him that got it.  Damn.  Actually it was becoming a difficult position to fill.  The previous year the Ministry of Magic assigned someone, well replaced someone, he thought, with something toad like with a serious kitten obsession.  Delores Jane Umbridge, he shuddered at the thought, they'd better not have found another one like that!  The position seemed to be jinxed and no one wanted to take it any more.  It also seemed only to attract freaks: Quirrell, otherwise known as the coin with two heads, Lockheart… enough said.  Lupin, left too much fur on the rug, he shuddered.  Moody, well it wasn't Moody, but he was certainly a freak, then Umbridge, see previous thought.  Soon they were sure to give him the chance to prove that he could survive the job. Soon, he thought. 

He was dreading entering the large office, the portraits were bound to spread the tale about his nose to the ones in the office.  The sniggers of his colleagues were going to haunt him for the remainder of the year.  The were going to know about his battered pride, the swollen protrusion from his face would draw attention to him, and if they didn't already know they would certainly ask questions.  He knew that as soon as he entered the room their faces would erupt.

He kept his head down while climbing the small spiral stone staircase to the Headmasters office; his dark eyes kept fixed on the floor as he opened the large polished oak door, turning the brass knocker slowly.  He was apprehensive about his entrance since he knew that almost certainly they had all beaten him there in order to get a good look at his swollen hooked nose.  Severus managed to creep into the room without anyone seeing him, had it not been for Professor Trelawney and her 'so called' future predictions he would have managed to make it to his seat without a single comment - but there it was.

"The fates have predicted that Professor Snape will suffer a terrible embarrassment today and frequently over the year," she said her eyes misty and looking at him with a deadly serious expression.  Snape gave her a look that made her turn her head sharply away.  He may as well have thrown a dagger at her.  But it made no difference as the whole room exploded into giggles and the booming laugh of Hagrid drowned out even Professor Sinistra's shrill laugh.  Snape sat in his chair and looked intently at the floor hoping that some time soon Dumbledore would show up and then dismiss the meeting.

There was a light tapping sound on the marble floor as the Headmaster showed his ageing head from around a corner of the office; His half moon spectacles reflecting a hesitant twinkle as he looked at Snape.  Dumbledore managed not to laugh but Snape knew that deep down he was having the laugh of a lifetime and was fighting it off with a barge pole in order to keep his expression calm.  Snape kept his angular face pointed firmly at the floor.

"Welcome to another year at Hogwarts my friends. I trust that you all know why we are here today," he surveyed the room to make sure that they were all paying attention but ignoring Snape as he didn't want to say anything about the weekend's event.  "That's right, I am of course referring to the Defence Against the Dark Arts post that has yet again been left unmanned.  As it were."

"Whom have you hired this term?"  Professor McGonagall almost sounded bored, she had sat through all the meetings about the job and each year it needed filling again.

"I'm glad you asked Minerva," he beamed trying to raise her attention levels, but the deputy headmistress had lost interest.  "I have hired a young lady who is most insistent that no matter how many ghouls she encounters," he looked at Snape.  "She will not give in easily."

"You said that about all the others Albus," Minerva stifled a yawn and continued to gaze at the ceiling as if life had nothing more interesting to offer her.

"We had better keep this new woman away from Snape," Hagrid whispered to Professor Sprout who began to giggle until Dumbledore shot her a sobering glance.

"I would like to introduce you all to Professor Raine Stark," Dumbledore stood out of the way as a woman who was wearing black robes and jingled like a bell with all her pendants and bracelets, charms and rings stepped daintily into the room whisking a hushed silence among the other staff when she entered.  Her dull green eyes burned through each and every member of the faculty except for Snape who still hadn't bothered to look up from the floor.

"Raine is here because I feel that she is the best person for the job," Dumbledore said placing a hand on her shoulder beaming brightly trying to alter the mood.  "Professor Snape?"

Snape reluctantly glanced upward and was hit by her burning gaze.  His deep black eyes full of hate that pierced through the air met hers, as if they were duelling in each other's minds.  "Headmaster?"  He said finally looking away from Stark who had taken the last remaining seat, the one next to him.

"This is Raine Stark," Dumbledore said pointing to the seat next beside him.

"We've met," Raine said coolly offering her hand to Snape in friendship.  She looked at his crooked nose and smiled cruelly.  He rejected her hand and she moved it swiftly to her side again.

"When?"  McGonagall said eagerly, showing the first sign all day that she was interested since she had arrived earlier that morning.

"Saturday."  Snape said sourly.  McGonagall was about to ask about the nose…  "Don't even say it." He snapped.  He then made a snorting sound before folding his arms and sinking deeper into his chair.

"I trust that we will all make Raine feel at home here," Dumbledore said softly to Stark who smiled back equally as placidly in return for the kind words.

There was something familiar about the way that Raine looked.  Her mannerism was oddly haunting.  Her dull green eyes made her seem angry when she in fact was not, and her person seemed to be lightly perfumed by the oddest yet not displeasing scent.

After getting a good yet unnoticeable look at her Snape turned his head hastily to face the Headmaster who was now dismissing everyone.  The office had cleared of all but one person - Stark.  By the time Snape had turned his head to settle matters he was confronted by her wand tip pressed firmly upon his nose.  Unaware of what she was going to do he adopted a help me expression and went cross-eyed looking at the very end of the tip.

"Imelda," she whispered softly as a warm rush was released in his nose, the swelling in the nose was eased and then it was gone.  His nose was back to normal again.  "I should learn to control my temper," she whispered after.  "I don't believe we've met, Raine."  She tried to see if he would shake her hand this time, perhaps a second introduction might make their working together easier, but he only looked at the soft slender fingers with disgust as the light from the windows was reflected from the crystal in the tiny rings that she had on each.

"Severus Snape.  But then you knew that!"  He snapped.

"Some people just can't help it can they," her brow furrowed and she got up quickly; her black hair blowing out a bit behind her in a windless hallway.  It left Snape rooted to his chair in the large empty office with only Fawkes, Dumbledore's beautiful phoenix, as company.  He decided that he should perhaps go down to the Great Hall for the Sorting.

He sat at the main staff table watching as new first years were being sorted into their retrospective houses.  Considering that he was head of Slytherin and usually enjoyed the sorting, Snape was miserable, more so than normal.  He hadn't seen Raine down at the table so assumed that she might be doing him a favour by staying out of the way - no such luck.  The only seat left yet again was between Dumbledore and himself and the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher usually sat next to him anyway.  Was there no escape?

On the other side of Dumbledore sat McGonagall who had returned to her seat after the sorting.  Dumbledore made his usual welcoming speech not mentioning Raine - so unlike him - then ordered the feast to begin.

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Stark entered the Great Hall five minutes after the start of the feast when everybody was already well stuck into gorging themselves, her sudden late appearance made all the students look up to mutter amongst themselves about the new teacher, but after fixing the new member of staff in their memories they returned to the feast – they could think about the new teacher later, right now food was number one on their list of priorities.  The staff already eating didn't show concern for her tardiness and she lowered herself into her place cautiously and gracefully at the same time.  Yet there were still some students (of the upper years) who looked back from their plates to give her bewildering looks, as Dumbledore had not bothered to formally introduce her even now when she was sitting there and putting food on her plate.  Snape turned his head slightly to avoid having to look at her.  He had been humiliated once too often for his liking by a young girl.

"Who is that?"  Harry whispered to Ron who seemed equally interested to find out who the woman with satin black hair and striking facial features was sitting next to their much-loathed Potions Master.

"I dunno," Ron muffled as he shovelled some more potato into his mouth.  Hermione looked repulsed at his table manners - it would never happen at her house.

"I think that she may be our next Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.  Usually if there is a new teacher here then that's the job they take.  She may be our second female Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher," Hermione said turning away from Ron, trying to be helpful.

"Look at Snape!"  Ron joked, gulping down a bit of chicken.  "He looks like he's going to break that plate in two with that knife!  Bet he's been happier!"  Ron was banging his fists on the table as Hermione glowered at him.  He put his arm around her.  "What's the matter?"  He said softly reviving her love for him.

"I don't think it's right for you to say that about Snape.  He seems a little more depressed than normal, can you imagine what our potion lessons in the dungeons are going to be like?"  She looked at Snape with disgust.  "Look at him!  He's going to be unbearable!"  She said taking another bite of her pumpkin pie.  Ron and Harry exchanged bewildered glances before attacking their own food.

::~::~::~::~::~::

Stark made no attempt to converse with Snape who was equally unwilling to make conversation with her.  Instead she chose to talk to Dumbledore who was much more interested in what she had to say, he hung on her every word entranced by her tales of the Muggle world.  McGonagall soon joined in to listen to what Raine did after she left School.  Stark noticed that Snape hadn't touched his plate for five minutes, it was quite obvious he was listening intently to what she said - even if he wasn't displaying any signs of wanting to show he cared.

He laughed quietly to himself about her cheery behaviour, the students were going to eat her alive, before she started to talk about kung fu.  He cringed as he remembered the broken nose he had received.  Dumbledore seemed very amazed with this topic as he smiled and nodded in approval at everything she said.   Her reason for learning self-defence - it seemed - was to move among Muggles in order to study them.  Snape didn't understand the need to know how braking every bone in the body would create trust between the Muggles and her.

"Would you be so kind as to show some of the older students a bit of Muggle self defence?  I think it would be quite educational for them, especially for those doing Muggle studies," Dumbledore asked seeing Stark go slightly pink.

"When?"  Severus asked, finally joining the conversation.  "So I know when to be ill," he said under his breath.  Stark overheard Snape and gave him a sinister smile with an odd glint in her eye, he didn't like it one bit.

"Would you be my assistant?"  She asked seeming innocent enough, though Snape could tell she was purposefully agitating him.

"Splendid!"  Dumbledore beamed not bothering to wait for Snape's rather stunned reply.

"Great!"  Snape hissed.  How did he get himself into that?  It was her!

"How about in about a months time?"  She said coyly to Dumbledore who smiled at her fondly.  She appeared to have won him over already.  Suck up!

"I just have one question for you, Severus, if I may?"  Stark asked in a whisper turning back to the stunned Severus Snape.

"What?"  He sneered.

"Do you always walk around like a vampire that missed wash day, and has been searching for his toothbrush for the last twenty years?"  She smirked and waited patiently for his reply, always smiling in that irritating manner that made him think she was putting on a false face towards the rest of the staff.  What was she really like underneath that fake smile…?

Snape didn't answer.  He excused himself and returned to his office that was colder than normal.

He couldn't figure out where he knew her from but he knew her from somewhere.  There was something he recognised but he couldn't quite put his finger on it and the very idea was cutting into him like a knife.

::~::~::~::~::~::

Raine watched the tall, trim man sweep out of the Great Hall with surprising interest.  His robes rippled with every step he took.  His greasy hair was jumping slightly as he paced out of the hall.  She almost felt guilty for the way that she was treating him, but then she realised that she had at least made some attempt to be his friend and he had insulted her twice in return for her effort.  His loss, she thought returning to her conversation about Quidditch with the other members of staff.  What a bore…

"Do continue Albus."  She said smiling.

On returning to her office when the feast was over – finally – she went for a wander around the school, to get to know the place she was going to spend the rest of the year in.  After a good twenty minutes or so however, and several flights of stairs from the corridor where her office was, she wasn't feeling too energetic anymore, and made her way back down the stairs to her office.  Yet irritably she accidentally took a wrong turning that happened to lead to a revolving staircase, already lost and highly annoyed, she took it anyway and found after several more minutes that she was back at the Entrance Hall.

Raine fumed and muttered a growl of annoyance.  Well if that way didn't work, let's try a route through the dungeons…  She didn't much like the dungeons; too cold and damp for her liking, and the smell of fermented fungus was positively off-putting, but she persisted and passed by Snape's office oblivious that in there was a sulking snake.  When she briskly swept down the desolate corridor, a cold shiver slid down her spine and her anger was replaced with a slight sick feeling in her throat, she shivered and pulled a face, came to some stone steps that led up to the ground floor and eventually found her office tired and still slightly miffed about getting lost and having to go down to the dungeons.

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Author's Note: So what did you think? Any good? I hope you do like it? There is more... ^_^

ciao

I.C. Fire

silver_shadow54@hotmail.com