CHAPTER 11: SEMANTICS AND FELIX FELICIS
"I still say it's impossible to write legibly when you're that drunk," Evans insisted, levelling off a spoonful of ground dragon claw with the blunt edge of a knife.
"This is exactly my point, Evans," Severus reminded her. "If he'd been able to write, it would've been clear who was Head Boy. But he was not, and thus the confusion."
"Maybe you just haven't learned to read properly yet," Evans offered, and sprinkled the powder into her simmering potion.
Severus scowled, wedged his arse deeper into the cushions of the armchair he'd dragged over from the corner, and buried his nose in The Dark Arts Outsmarted. Evans hadn't killed him after all. The way she was lording his mistake over him though, he sometimes wished she had. It was hardly his fault Sirius was one of the most disturbed people he'd ever met-- that distinction belonged to his parents-- or that he was incapable of sensible grammatical construction. That was Remus's fault.
Of course Remus failed to acknowledge his guilt, only staring blankly at Severus when he'd brought it up. The full moon was this Wednesday and he was looking jumpery again though, so Severus forgave him. It must be a truly arduous task keeping Sirius's tongue occupied and out of Severus's bodily orifices, and the Gryffindor was doing a masterful job of it. Severus's ears had not been assaulted even once this year.
"What're you reading?" Evans asked. She wasn't even looking at him, because if she had been, she'd've seen straight off. In fact, she probably hadn't even bothered glancing up from her precious potion to see that he was holding a book. He pointed this out.
"You have a Reading Silence," she told him.
"A what?" he demanded.
"There are different types of Silences," she explained. "Like when McGonagall gets really indignant, she gets Silent and tight lipped just before taking points."
"Does the Head of Gryffindor House often take points from the Head Girl?" Severus asked, perturbed because she still hadn't looked up.
"And you know, right before Kettleburn's about to show us a new creature," she continued, ignoring him as she stirred, "there's this Silence of Anticipation from the entire class. Or maybe it's Terror. And like when James is about to say something particularly asinine, he goes all Silent and Contemplative. You get to recognize the different types of Silence after a while. If you bother to listen, that is."
"What I recognize is that silence is silence," Severus insisted. "And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I would like to take this opportunity to state that James Potter is perfectly capable of saying asinine things with no silence involved. He does it every time he opens his mouth."
Evans shook her head sadly, and the look on her face almost made Severus wish she hadn't looked at him after all. "You're so unpoetic."
"I'm fairly sure that's not a word, Evans," Severus told her, as she clearly lacked certain refinements, despite herself.
"I asked what you were reading," she informed him, as though he'd forgot. "Are you going to ask what I'm brewing?"
"A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love?" he offered.
An odd look crossed her face, her pretty green eyes narrowing. She threw a book at him.
"Evans!" he protested, as innocent educational material certainly didn't deserve such callous treatment. It had landed in his lap, open to an illustration of a man who seemed to have been turned inside out and a witch sprouting several extra pairs of arms out of her head. He flipped it over to examine the spine, and found the title Moste Potente Potions. "Brilliant," he said.
"Not that," Evans laughed. "Turn the page!"
Severus did. "Felix Felicis?"
"Professor Slughorn told us all about it last year, makes you ridiculously lucky. Don't you remember?" she asked, looking back down into her cauldron momentarily, and then smiling back up at him in that way that made his stomach do strange things.
"Yes, and I also remember what he said would happen if it were brewed incorrectly," Severus told her, swallowing. "You need to let it stew for six months before you add the dragon claw, you know."
"Of course. I took it home over summer in my chest and kept it under my bed. Didn't I tell you?"
Severus frowned, as Evans had said many things, but he'd lately developed the habit of staring at her mouth and not actually hearing some of them. Very inconvenient. "Not that I recall."
"No," Evans insisted, "I know I told you. And you said, fantastic or somesuch, and asked when it would be finished."
"Do you have a point?" Severus asked.
Evans sighed. "Well, in any case, It'll be ready in…" she paused, "probably a month. Maybe a bit less. I had to alter things slightly, so the timing might be a bit off."
Severus stared. "Do you plan to spend the rest of your life in St Mungo's?"
"No, I plan to brew it correctly," she told him, and rather tartly at that. "I might even let you have some, if you're nice. Do you know that word, 'nice'?"
Severus snorted and flipped back to examine the witch with the arms coming out of her head. After a few moments, he realized that Evans had gone utterly still, and he looked up to find her squinting over at him in concentration.
"Do you need the book back?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Just let me look at you for a minute…"
"Are you developing a masochistic streak now?" he demanded. She said nothing but kept staring at him, emerald gaze so intense that he felt his cheeks redden, and he looked back down at the book.
"No, you have to maintain eye contact," Evans told him. "Come on, Sev, please? I read the whole book. I only want to practice, and no one else is going to understand."
"Practice what, being unnerving?" he asked, rifling through his brain for something she'd need eye contact to practice and coming up with "Legilimency?"
"Not the really invasive kind, I promise. There's this way you can do it nonverbally so you just get surface thoughts--"
"I should think not!" he declared, holding the potions book up in front of his face so that she had no chance of catching his eyes.
"Fine, be that way," she told him. "I'm sure you weren't thinking anything worth knowing, anyway."
Severus said nothing as he perused the list of ingredients, feigning nonchalance as well as one could whilst quite obviously hiding behind a book.
Evans cleared her throat. "So… has, ah, Black said anything about, um, me?"
"I'm sure he has better things to do with his tongue," Severus told her, annoyed and wondering why she'd even bother asking, as practically nothing that came out of Sirius Black's mouth was ever worth listening to.
"Well, he talks about you all the time," she accused.
"He never mentions you," Severus told her, not sure what she was implying (because he knew Gryffindors, and this one was clearly implying something) and pointedly uninterested in finding out. "In fact, I'm rather sure he doesn't even know your name."
Evans made a noise. "Well, it's just… I haven't the faintest idea what Professor Dumbledore sees in him. As if his ego weren't bad enough, he lacks all sense of responsibility and has the foulest mouth I've ever encountered. I was only trying to be polite and asked him how he spent his summer, and the things he said about James, he called him a-- well, it doesn't bear repeating. I'm sure I've never been so offended."
"Have you never met Lucius Malfoy?" Severus asked. He scowled at the illustration of the woman with the extra arms. It had seemed so promising, but it turned out the effects were temporary and only moderately painful.
Why was the whole world set against him?
"I told him we can't have the Head Boy cursing like a sailor," Evans said with a sigh, "and then he made me explain how a motor boat works. How does he even know what a motor boat is? It's hopeless. Could you please talk to him?"
Severus blinked, peeking out from behind his parchmenty refuge. "Talk to him? Certainly. Make him listen? You can lead a horse to water, Evans, but you can't--"
"I'm not really a horse person, Sev. Please?" she urged.
He very forcefully did not stare at her pouting lips. "I do not appreciate being set up for failure," he informed her.
"Oh, thank you so much! It really means the world to me, honestly," she answered, sounding relieved.
Severus scowled and didn't bother to mention that he hadn't technically said he'd do it. He realised what a boon this was when he returned to his dormitory room, only to be assailed by Sirius standing atop his bed and bellowing "FUUUUCK!" at the top of his lungs.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Severus demanded. Not that he was offended, of course, but he had to admit, he was curious. Though Sirius had his moments, his swearing wasn't usually all that bad unless Potter was involved.
"Cursing at the top of my lungs, obviously," a red-faced Sirius told him quite rationally, just before shouting, "MOTHER-LOVING BITCH-FACED SLUT-TROLLOP!"
"I see," Severus told him, slouching down onto Sirius's bed.
"Are we shagging tonight, then?" Sirius asked, eyeing him with pink-cheeked interest.
"You wish," Severus told him.
Sirius shrugged. And then hollered something obscene and quite probably illegal involving farm animals.
"You should take off your shoes when you stand on your bed," Severus instructed, sliding to the edge of the mattress when he noticed the dirt all over Sirius's messy sheets. Nothing Sirius owned ever stayed clean or tidy for long, not even the fancy new clothes his crazy uncle had bought for him for making Head Boy. Didn't he realise you were supposed to take care of nice things? It was insulting to people who didn't have them. "And I think you really need to learn to control your cursing. It's not yet refined enough for public consumption. Honestly, slut-trollop?"
Sirius sighed and plopped down beside him. "I know that, what do you think I'm doing right now? I'm getting it out of my system! I figure if I let it loose in controlled bursts, it won't sort of spurt out when I'm not expecting it. You know, like a fourth-year who hasn't wanked for a long time, and he wakes up one morning and his pyjamas are all--"
"Your similes are appalling," Severus informed him, wincing.
"That's what Moony says too. He became very cross with me last week when I told him the noise he made when I kissed that spot just below his hipbone sounded like--"
"Stop," Severus ordered. "Just stop."
Sirius sighed. "But I didn't mean to imply it was a bad thing! Some people really enjoy-- oh, put the wand away, Severus! This is all Potter's fault, anyway. If you'd heard his father swear... He may be slow off the pitch-- he went to school with Merlin himself, after all-- but does he ever get it through the hoop in the end! The man once went on for nearly a whole minute before I caught on who he was insulting. And it was me! I was just hoping it was this sort of latent talent I've got, since I'm sure we're related. I'll check the tapestry if I ever go back home again-- or, you know, the place I used to call home, but now call Bloody Fucking--"
"I don't think your mouth-wanking plan is working," Severus informed him with a raised eyebrow. His left, as that one seemed to have the best effect.
Sirius regarded him blankly for a moment, only to respond with "Shit!" when he realized what he'd said. "I mean, fuck," he corrected, and shook his head. "I mean, damn it! Oh, bloody hell I can't do this, Severus!"
"Actually, you're getting worse. Would you like me to hex you so every time you curse, you lose a toe?" Severus asked him, always supportive. "On second thought, just give up, like the sad loser you are. You haven't got enough toes to last the week. Maybe the Headmaster will give Potter your shiny Head Boy pin, and your little boyfriend can--"
"Ah, that's it!" Sirius exclaimed, jumping down from his bed and attacking the clutter on his bedside table. "Now where did I put that bloody…" Three seconds later, objects were being launched over Sirius's shoulder, and Severus had to duck to prevent himself from being struck upside the head by a shoehorn.
He looked on in a sort of appalled fascination as a roll of Spellotape and half a crumpet flew past, but when a pair of pink panties landed in his lap, he had no choice but to protest. "Now see here!" he began, fearing to even touch them.
Sirius loosed a crow of triumph and pulled something from the mess. "Potter!" he exclaimed. "James Potter!"
"Are these his?" Severus demanded, though it came out with a bit of a squeak because Sirius was calling for James Potter and there were panties on his lap!
"What d'you want, Black?" came Potter's voice, clear as day, into the room.
Severus gaped at Sirius, who held a small, flat object to his face. "Oi, get my boyfriend, you fuck-useless wanker!" Sirius said to it.
"He's in the library, tosspot!" Potter's voice yelled back. "Leave me the hell alone!"
Sirius made a noise of some sort that Severus was not at liberty to contemplate because Sirius had some sort of magic Potter mirror, and Sirius's pink panties were still on his lap!
"Hey, Severus, I'm going to-- oh, sorry about that," Sirius said, and snatched away the panties, stuffing them into his pocket.
"I'll be back," Sirius told him with a wicked grin. "Don't wait up."
It was a week before Severus recovered, feeling sufficiently removed from pink panties and the recollection that Potter had nicked a pair of Evans's some time before to feel at least somewhat reassured that he wouldn't be forced to address the issue. By this time, Sirius's Clean Mouth Plan was put into full-- and highly annoying-- effect.
"It's a Twelve-Step Programme, though I've had to jump around a bit," Sirius explained one sunny afternoon whilst spreading Mooncalf dung on a bed of honking daffodils. "Moony says that sort of ruins the whole point of having steps at all, but it's going to take forever if I do it in order."
"Clever of you," Severus told him, following in Sirius's tracks and doing his best to hold the watering can so as not to alarm the flowers.
"The first step is admitting you have a problem," Sirius explained, "which is simple enough. I wouldn't have started the Programme if I didn't have a problem, right? I mean, I bloody swear too fucking often, and that's just not on! The second, though, is recognizing a greater power that can give you strength. Moony says my greater power simply cannot be blowjobs, which leaves me at a bit of a loss…"
Severus winced, nicking one of the daffodils with the spout and setting it honking. "Shh!" he hissed, because when you got one going, more were sure to follow. This, of course, would alarm the ringing rutabaga, and if not put quickly to an end, the entire greenhouse would wind up sounding like a demented bicycle race.
"Numbers three and four though, examining past errors and making amends for these errors, are going alright," Sirius continued. "Except Moony told me apologizing to James for calling him a mouldy sack of dung when what I'd really meant to call him was a mouldy sack of sodding useless shit didn't count. Can't figure why…"
"Baffling," Severus agreed, bending to shush the flower.
But the damned daffodil wouldn't stop, and its neighbour was starting to look restless. As a last resort, Severus poured the upturned cup of its bloom full of water. Unable to enunciate, it merely spluttered, gurgling and spitting water onto its neighbours. Spent, it hung its sad, sodden daffodil head in defeat.
Severus was about to move to the next flower when the sight caught him. Its delicate petals hanging downward, beads of water dripping from their tips, the image hit him like a broomstick upside the head: Evans standing ankle deep in the lake, her soft yellow robes skimming the surface, the setting sun catching the ripples on the water and the highlights in her hair. The memory was so vivid, he could nearly feel her skin as she'd slid her finger along his, and he'd taken her hand.
If only he could have that night back, he'd… well, he didn't know what he'd do. Probably nothing; he was hopeless. If he had been Sirius, he'd've done something. Sirius Black did crazy things like snog Gryffindors under stolen invisibility cloaks, then brought them back to his dormitory and took their robes off in his bed. Severus Snape did not.
"I could help you," Sirius offered.
"What?" Severus demanded, taken aback.
"Um, helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions? The sixth and final step, didn't you hear me?" He looked concerned. "Are you alright? You've gone all peaky…"
"I'm lovely," Severus told him, glaring at the offending flower for good measure before following Sirius down the row again.
"Well, I don't know if I'd go quite that far," Sirius told him.
"Amusing," Severus said, throwing him a dark look. "And I thought you said it was a twelve-step programme, not a six-step."
"I'm using the condensed version," Sirius admitted.
"Suits you," Severus told him. On second thought, Sirius Black was an idiot, and being more like him was really the opposite of what any sane person should desire, even if it would get him a bit of action. In fact, it was sheer idiocy.
Nothing proved this point better than when Sirius's brother was named Slytherin Seeker.
Severus himself was still recovering a week later, having nursed a DADA essay through the tougher moments as a drunk might a bottle of Firewhiskey. He was prepared for a cosy evening of griping whilst Evans brewed something fascinating yet pointless, but Evans had other plans.
"The Felix Felicis is ready," she told him the moment he walked in the door. He wasn't sure when she'd learned to make the potions room appear for herself, but as unnerving as it was, he did suppose it was more convenient than having her stand out in the hall waiting.
"Bully for you," he said, throwing himself into a chair opposite her.
"How much luck do you think a tablespoon would give?" she asked. "A couple of hours, maybe? It's seven now… have you decided to be nice so I can give you some?"
"Nice? Me?" Severus asked.
Evans rolled her eyes. "No, the bloke behind you. Don't tell me you're honestly going to miss out on imbibing questionably legal potions with-- knowing you-- probable Dark effects. That would be silly, wouldn't it?"
Even knowing she was just trying to goad him into whatever hackneyed plans she had dreamt up over this evening's pudding, Severus couldn't help but be intrigued. The potion did look properly finished, having turned the colour of molten gold in its small cauldron. Large drops were leaping like goldfish above the surface, only to splash back down without spilling the merest amount.
"You know this can only end badly," Severus informed her. "Like that time with the babbling beverage. Oh, and the Veritaserum, you remember how that went?"
"Ah, brilliantly?" she said.
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"Fine, I'll drink it by myself. All alone. Just me. But you're missing out," she told him. Dipping into the brew, she withdrew a spoonful, blowing on it before bringing it to her mouth. Frowning, she licked her lips in a way that Severus thought was probably illegal in several Eastern European countries.
"Well?" Severus prompted when she said nothing.
Evans grinned. "I'm going to go see James."
Severus gaped. "You what?"
"Well, I've been meaning to talk to him, and I just get this feeling that now would be a good time," she answered with a casual shrug of her shoulders. "Yes, James Potter is definitely the man I need to see right now. Don't you think he looks very grown up this year?"
Severus grabbed Evans's elbow as she made for the door, dragging her back to the table which held the Felix Felicis. Here goes nothing, he thought, and spooned a large dollop of it into his mouth. It tasted slightly sweet, like honey, and filled his stomach with a strange but fulfilling warmth.
And suddenly, anything was possible. The world was his, like a spell to be moulded to his desires, and bending it to his will was not only possible, but positively easy. Evans was watching him with quiet interest, and when he looked at her, he felt that he could dance; not that he wanted to or ever would in a million years, but that he could, and bloody well enough to sweep her off her feet.
He was a god.
"So what shall we do?" Evans asked, and Severus knew immediately how to answer:
"We need Potter's Cloak."
"That's what I was saying," Evans told him. "Do you think he'd loan it to me if I asked nicely enough?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "Evans, James Potter would loan you his spleen if you asked, nicely or not."
Evans laughed. "Stay here for a moment, and I'll get it from him. Don't go anywhere!"
Severus wouldn't have dreamt of it, of course, as he knew exactly what to do and where to go with that cloak. He realised also that he'd be needing a vial, and he slipped one into his pocket a mere moment before Evans walked back into the room.
"He was in the corridor, and he had it with him," she said, holding up the shimmery fabric. "Incredible good luck, hmm? I think he was arguing with Black again."
"For once, he's come in useful," Severus told her. "He's spent now though, I'm sure it'll never happen again."
He was momentarily confused as she threw the cloak over his head, but as soon as it settled, wispy fabric sweeping over his feet, he knew it was for the best.
Out in the hallway, Sirius and Remus were talking just beside the portrait of the fat lady. Remus was red-faced, his arms held across his chest and gaze toward his toes, with Sirius trying to catch his eye. Concealed by the Invisibility Cloak, Severus strode out in front of Evans to see if he could hear them.
"…understand what you're saying, Moony, but I didn't realise you meant…"
"It's not like I don't want to, I just don't want to rush into… if we regret it…"
"I know, but how bloody long do you expect me to wait? I'm--"
"Hi, Remus," she said, waving. Only after a distinct pause did she add, "Black."
"Sorry, can't talk Head Boy stuff right now," Sirius replied, frown twisting his lips. "Too busy being sexually repressed."
Remus made a spluttering noise, and Evans laughed. "Tell me about it," she said, and walked straight past them.
"See?" Severus heard him say as Evans passed and Sirius turned back to Remus. "Even she gets…"
Luckily, Severus didn't hear him finish the sentence.
They were on the fourth floor when Evans turned away from the staircases, and Severus slid in close to her to hiss in her ear, "Where are we going?"
"Library," she whispered.
"We need to see the Gamekeeper!" Severus hissed back, just managing not to trip over the edge of the cloak. "Evans, stop it, turn around! The library will still be there tomorrow!"
"Fine!" she exclaimed. A Ravenclaw walking past gave her a strange look as she turned on her heel and marched back the way she came. "We'll just go and see the Gamekeeper, then!"
Severus sighed. Honestly, who cared about the library on a night like this?
Of course, Evans was even less pleased when the Gamekeeper wasn't in. She stood at his front door with her arms crossed, looking murderous as Severus peeked in through one of the grimy windows, Cloak thrown over his forearm.
"There was something really good in the library, you know! If I've missed out on it because of you, I'll…" she sighed and slouched against the ramshackle old building. "Well, I haven't decided what I'll do because I'm not that devious, but it'll be unpleasant, I guarantee you. You'll regret it."
"I'm terrified," he told her. "Calm down." All he could see was a lot of dirty looking, oversized furniture and a cage containing what appeared to be ferrets. But he was sure this was the right place…
"Let's just go for a walk," Evans offered, picking herself up out of her slouch and straightening her Head Girl pin.
"What, down by the lake?" Severus asked, his voice staying remarkably level as he remembered the last time they'd "walked" together.
Evans shook her head and grinned. "I was thinking somewhere a bit more… interesting. Come on!"
Severus had never been into the Forbidden Forest before. Neither had Evans, though the Gamekeeper had invited her once to see some dugbogs "aw nacho-rell," which the man apparently thought meant "in their natural habitat." She weaved in and out of the trees in front of Severus, arms in the air beside her and fingers gliding through the leaves, the light of the setting sun tinting her form golden yellow.
"Isn't it lovely?" she asked.
"It is," he agreed, though not with the precise question she'd asked.
"What's that?" she asked, and stopped in her tracks.
"Shh!" she hissed. "I hear something!"
Severus came to a halt behind her, so close that he could run his fingers though her hair. She turned and brought her finger to her lips to keep him quiet as she listened, and he tucked a strand like fine silk behind her ear.
"There! Do you hear it?" she asked, not batting his hand away.
He wasn't sure what the noise was, but he did hear something. It was low, like a grunt, and didn't come from a human mouth, though this didn't frighten him. Severus slid his fingertips to her cheeks, skimming across the soft skin, and asked, "Should we go and see what it is?"
Not far away, they found a clearing in the brush, and though night was swiftly falling, white sparkled up at him, and Severus could make out what was in it: a unicorn. It was a pair of unicorns, in fact, a mare with its newborn foal, golden and delicate on the ground. The sounds they'd heard must have been the young one's birth, and the tiny little thing was still sticky with its mother's fluids.
Severus and Evans watched as the mare licked it clean, nudging at it to stand as the foal blinked and searched in the twilight for some way to make sense of it all. Reaching out with its gangly legs, it attempted to pull itself to its feet, plopping on its arse more than once in the process. When it finally succeeded, it took a few shaky steps, and then trotted off with its mother into the night.
Evans gasped and whispered, "That was so amazing! Do you know how rare it is to see something like this?"
She was leaning against a tree, body warm beside Severus's, eyes still riveted to the scene. The hair he'd put behind her ear had fallen back around her face again, and he slid it back in place. He ran his knuckles across her jawbone, bringing his fingers to rest below her chin.
"I see it every day," he told her. "Every moment. Every second…"
"What do you mean?" she asked, her eyes dark and liquid in the night.
Severus kissed her.
He couldn't say why he did, only that he had the distinct notion that he should.
The notion was apparently correct in its assumptions because she kissed him back, sliding a hand behind his neck to pull him close. She was warm and soft and sweet, and everything else he'd ever thought she would be, breasts pressed against his chest and hand soft in his hair. He brought his hands to her hips and drew her to him there as well, a thigh on either side of his.
He scarcely noticed when she pulled the Invisibility Cloak from his arm, only kissed and kissed and dreamed of never stopping. When his hand pulled at the fabric of her robes, bunching it to get to the skin beneath, she wrapped her leg around his waist, brought both hands to his shoulders, and urged him to the ground.
Spread out beneath him on the Cloak, she was the most perfect thing ever, tonight was the most perfect night ever, and Severus could do no wrong. He ran his lips down her neck, beneath her ear, and into the hollow at the base of her neck in which her necklace rested, warm from her skin, the taste of metal in his mouth.
"Sev," she whispered, head tilted back and eyes closed, and he felt her hands against the skin of his thigh.
The rest was the most delicious of blurs, skin against skin, hands on his back, and the sound of her voice in his ears.
Afterwards, lying warm in her arms, something shining silver-blue on the forest floor caught his eye. He remembered the vial in his pocket and scooped some of the liquid into it without Evans noticing. Unicorn blood sold for a hefty price.
The common room was deserted, the fire burnt down to embers. Down in his room, all was quiet save Sirius moaning in his sleep about something involving quaffles. Severus slid between the sheets, Evans's scent still clinging to his robes, feeling like the luckiest man on Earth.
The next morning, he did not feel so lucky.
In fact, he felt distinctly ill.
How in Merlin's name could he have done such a thing? How could she have let him? Such a disgusting, reprehensible, unthinkable, incredible thing? She'd brewed the potion wrong, he'd got all the luck, that was the only explanation. The only way she would ever have allowed him to touch her, much less-- he was clearly the last person on the planet she'd have wanted to--
Oh holy mother of fuck what was he supposed to do now?
His brain flicked through countless scenarios, each one worse than the last-- she would never speak to him again, she would hate him, she would get him expelled, she was--
How could he have been so bloody fucking stupid! he demanded, shoving his feet into his shoes and all but throwing himself out of the Slytherin dungeon.
He didn't go to his classes that morning, instead locking himself inside their potions room, mixing and chopping with the utmost urgency. The elixir was just cool enough to bottle by the end of Arithmancy, and he stuck a dose of it in his pocket and rushed out the door.
Evans was walking beside a unremarkable girl with wavy brown hair, laughing about something until she spotted him. Her eyes caught his for a moment, and she ducked her head. She must've said something to the other girl-- Severus thought her name was MacDonald-- because she glanced at him, nodded somewhat apprehensively, and walked the other way.
"Hey," Evans said, face burning red.
Severus cleared his throat.
"Um, about… last night…" she started.
"Don't go and try pinning the blame on me," Severus commanded, cutting her accusation off at the pass. "It was all your idea!"
"You brewed it wrong," Severus hissed. "I told you not to take shortcuts! This is what happens when you think you're too good for directions: disaster! Don't you understand? For one of us to be lucky, and the other not--"
"Oh… so that's what happened," Evans said.
"Isn't it obvious?" Severus demanded.
"I should've known," she returned, worrying at her bottom lip. "Sorry."
Severus's mouth, poised for a nasty comeback, hung open in shock. She wasn't supposed to apologise for being taken advantage of! Sure, he was accusing her of being in the wrong, but that was only because he felt too ill at the mere thought of what he'd done to even…
Evans sighed. "It was wrong of me, okay. So I'm sorry. Alright? But I can't undo it, so don't give me that look. It was an accident."
Severus shook his head to clear his thoughts. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the vial, cupping it against his palm in case someone might chance to pass by. "I brewed this for you. Take it immediately."
Severus rolled his eyes and pressed it into her hand. "Now, Evans!" he insisted when she raised the potion up to stare at its putrid colour. "Neither of us needs any reminder of your little mistake!"
"Do you think I'm stupid?" Evans asked.
"Do you think," Evans demanded, eyes flashing and face twisting into a look of abject fury, "I'm stupid?"
But before he could stop her, she'd hurled the vial at the floor. It shattered into a hundred pieces, the glop inside it spattering across the stone. "I hate you, Severus Snape! I wish I'd never met you!" she shouted.
Severus was too busy feeling horrified at what she'd just done to watch her run down the hallway, or think what it meant that she was crying. He had to get the potion cleaned up off the floor before anyone who might recognize it saw. Contraceptives were one thing-- those would get you a stern look and a possible detention-- but abortifacients…
Severus didn't feel up to facing society at large, so he spent the rest of the day in the potions room, picking at some food he found stuffed in his bag that had gone greyish around the edges. He felt as though his life had gone the same way.
Today was a nightmare, but last night felt like a dream, something belonging to someone else. When he closed his eyes, he could feel her mouth on his, her skin beneath his fingers, her legs sliding up his thighs. He could smell her, taste her, and recall how warm it was inside her, and know he'd never feel anything like that ever again.
He'd always known life was hideously unfair; did it really warrant such a vivid reminder?
He returned late to his room, having stared blankly at nothing for longer than he cared to admit, feeling weary to the bone, his stomach mostly settled after having vomited back up the greyish meat. He opened the curtains to his bed, but it felt foreign to him, cold and alone, and he knew it held no comfort.
Behind his own curtains, Sirius was doing something illicit with both hands under his nightshirt. He looked up at Severus with some alarm. "Ah, busy here?" he offered.
Severus scowled at the length of unclothed thigh against the Slytherin green of his sheets.
"Are we shagging tonight, then?" Sirius asked, hands still under his robes and laugh held tenuously beneath the surface of his voice.
Severus crawled onto his bed and pulled the curtains shut behind him.
It was nothing like lying with Evans. Sirius was all hard planes and angles, hands too strong and tone too deep. He gave when he should've taken, moved when he should've stilled, and whispered things against Severus's neck he had no desire to hear.
And he bit.
But his body was warm and pliant, his skin soft against Severus's, and they fell asleep tangled up in each other, Sirius's breath against Severus's cheek.
When Severus awoke the next morning, it was to the realisation that in his desperation he had done something not only rash, but utterly unpardonable. He turned his guilt upon the only viable alternative.
"You just cheated on your boyfriend," he said.
Sirius, who had been regarding him with a peaceful look that made Severus want to vomit up his stomach lining, frowned. "Sev--"
"You cheated on him, on your Moony, with me, you're a cheater," Severus babbled. "How could you do such a thing, betraying him like that, like you don't care at all, what sort of person are you, anyway?"
Sirius made a noise. "I didn't--"
Severus hit him.
"Ouch! Bloody Fu--udgesickles! What are you doing? Have you lost your…"
He carried on, but Severus ignored him, shame flaring in his cheeks as he pulled on his robes. His pants were hidden somewhere in Sirius's mess of sheets, and he swore loudly and verbosely as he searched, panic seeping in.
"…don't really think it's that big of a deal, Severus," Sirius was saying when Severus realized he was still talking. "It's not like it was real sex anyway, since you didn't actually… you know. And it's not like either of us are going to tell him, right? Okay? Yes? Severus? Hello?"
"Stop trying to justify your treachery with semantics," Severus demanded, finally spotting his pants sticking out from under Sirius's pillow. He rolled them up and stuffed them into his pocket. "You're a wretched excuse for a human being, Sirius Black!"
Severus made to escape, but Sirius grabbed his wrist. "It's fine, Severus, calm down. Nobody has to know. It'll be our secret. Okay?"
Severus shook his head, heart hammering in his chest. "But you love him. You love him!"
Sirius let his wrist slip from his fingers, and Severus tore from the room, nearly knocking Stebbins to the ground as he pelted through the door. "Oi!" the boy exclaimed, but Severus paid him no heed.
It was all ruined now, everything was ruined, and he was going to stick his head down a toilet and drown himself. It was the only option, he saw this now, and he'd've saved everyone a lot of trouble, himself included, if he'd done it years ago.
Given his luck though, he'd end up spending eternity with Moaning Myrtle, so he nixed that idea and went for breakfast instead. Evans wasn't there, thank Merlin, though there were a number of other individuals who would have done well to not be there either.
"Merlin's sake, have you showered lately, Snape? And by lately, I don't mean this year," one of them told him.
"You smell like something crawled up your robes and died," another announced.
"Go fuck yourselves," he advised, and somehow managed to keep his egg yolks and dry toast down until he got to the showers. It was odd watching it swirl in the water around his feet, yellow and white and green tinged, looking as though his stomach hadn't even begun digesting it.
In hindsight, he should've realised he couldn't avoid Evans forever.
He did wish he could've held off on it just a bit longer, though, as being locked in the potions room with her was not necessarily the best case scenario.
"I told you I was sorry," she said to him. "What more do you want from me?" She was sitting on the floor against a cabinet filled with empty bottles and puffer-fish parts with a book propped across her knees, looking tired and cross and even more beautiful than he'd remembered.
He wasn't sure what he wanted, so he turned his back on her and poked about at the books on the bookshelf as though they had the ability hold his interest for more than three seconds, which of course they didn't. It seemed nothing did anymore.
"You can't ignore me forever," she declared.
"Yes I could," he retorted.
She sighed, and he heard the thud of her book on the ground and the slide of her heels as she pulled herself to her feet. He fussed with the spine of Les splendeurs des potions perdues.
Evans sighed. "Look, it was a mistake. People make them. It's called being human. And I realise you like to think you're above the rest of humanity and our paltry, lacklustre existence, and I can see how recognizing your mortality or falling off your high horse or…" she made a noise in the back of her throat, "whatever could be upsetting, but you can't tell me you didn't enjoy it, Severus Snape, because I know you did!"
"What are you talking about? Have you hit your head on something?" he asked, and turned to stare at her, as she was making less sense than even a Gryffindor was entitled to. "Of course I enjoyed it! What man in his right mind doesn't enjoy sex?"
"Then why in God's name are you being such a child?" she demanded. Colour sprang to her cheeks the way it always did when she was angry.
"I was being considerate!" he insisted, and felt as though it was only partially a lie. "I hardly thought you'd want to see me after your silly potion went wrong and compelled me to take advantage of you!"
"You took advantage of me?" she said, brow creased but face unreadable. "You must be joking!"
"Yes, I'm in utter hysterics on the inside, Evans," he snorted. "Absolutely bubbling over with glee. Are you looking for an apology? Is that what this is about? Because if you're expecting me to get down on my knees and beg forgiveness, you're going to be waiting a very--"
"You didn't take advantage of me!" Evans spat. "I took advantage of you!"
Severus gaped at her.
"You weren't the one to get all the luck-- I was!" she declared.
"You most certainly were not!" he countered, offended at the very concept.
"Are you completely obtuse?" she yelled. "Of course I was! I've wanted to have sex with you for months!"
"You wanted to have sex with me? What in Merlin's name is wrong with you, Evans?" he shouted back, infuriated beyond measure. "I was obviously the one who wanted you! No one wants to have sex with me but Sirius Black, and that's only because he's obviously a complete and utter--"
His words were cut off when Evans grabbed him quite forcibly by the front of his robes and kissed him.
It was hot and sweet, and there wasn't time to think of who wanted what, and why they wanted it, and whether or not it would throw the world off its axis if they went through with it. It just happened, and Severus let it happen, wanted it to happen, and that was the way it was meant to be. They ended up in a pile on the floor, he with his robes rucked up to his waist and she with her thighs around his and her panties dangling from her right ankle.
They were lacy, with pink flowers stitched at the waist.
"Sev?" she said, and cupped his cheek in her hand. Her eyes beneath his were as wide as they were deep.
"This doesn't mean I'm your boyfriend," he told her, trying to keep the panic from his voice but failing. Because he was still warm and safe inside of her, some part of his soul washed clean with the relief of it, but if she thought this meant he was going to walk her to class and carry her books for her, sit next to her during meals and write sappy love poetry--
"Thank God," Lily said with a smile. "You'd be the worst boyfriend ever."