A/N: I love this chapter. I love, love, love it. I'm not even sure why I like it so much. It just makes me grin the entire way through. Also, in my humble opinion, the style and tone of this chapter are awesome. I'm sorry it took so long, but there were some issues in RL for both me and my beta. Also, though I have the plots for the next four chapters, chapter four and I are currently waging war, so I'm not sure when that'll be up. To tell the truth, I want to get something done with Tumble Down before I go back to focusing on this. -Sighs- And to think, once upon a time I told myself I'd only do one WIP at a time. Anyway, enjoy!
Thank you: To my reviewers and readers, who rock my socks! And to Shakespeare, who graciously didn't come and haunt me when I started stealing lines from his sonnets as chapter and story titles.
Beta: Major thanks to the fantastic Missy Padfoot! She has an astonishing body of work, so you guys should go check her out.
Disclaimer: Whatever. -Sulks-
Kevin Roth was unusually optimistic, even for a Hufflepuff. He firmly believed that every cloud had a silver lining, and was more inclined than most to completely ignore the fact that the reverse was also true- every silver lining had a cloud. This glass-half-full attitude was usually met with scorn from the Slytherins ("Get out of my way before I get my "friends" to flatten you."), patronizing from the Gryffindors ("Mmhmm mate, that's nice. Oh, there go some of my friends, I'd better run."), and indifference from the Ravenclaws ("Did you hear about the Djinn clans of ancient Babylon and their effect on the transmogrification properties of the Mystic Kettle of Nargledirk?"). Despite these not-so-positive reactions, the attitude remained strong amongst the Hufflepuffs.
As previously mentioned, Kevin was even more prone to optimism that the average badger. That being true, it was a strange sight to see the round-cheeked face, boyish despite the fact that he was in his teens, scrunched up in anxiety and anger. Stranger still, the sixth year was darting down a hallway, doing his utmost best to keep to the shadows and out of the view of anyone who may have been walking down the third floor corridor. The reason for this suspicious behavior- Kevin happened to be out of his common room, at night, past curfew.
Although those who break the rules deserve to be punished for their transgressions, as is fair, Kevin really could not be blamed for his after-hours meander through the darkened halls of Hogwarts. The real rascals deserving of blame for Kevin's predicament where none other than the infamous Weasley twins. Normally Kevin, being an innocent-until-proven-guilty sort of fellow, would not have immediately assumed that the incident that had resulted in him being out past curfew was their fault. However, he had a modicum of common sense. When one sees two known pranksters walking down a hallway that leads to one's common room with self-satisfied looks on their faces, and upon touching said common room's door ends up transported to a dusty, little-used corridor on the third floor, one must assume that said pranksters are to be blamed.
Kevin was quite mild, and had an excellent sense of humor, and so would likely have laughed the incident off, even commended the twins for their work- if their prank had not resulted in him being extraordinarily late for meeting his girlfriend. Having been late for three other such rendezvous in the past, Kevin's anxiety was more attributed to his girlfriend's reaction than to the possibility of being caught.
The location of the corridor that he had appeared in was at the remote heart of a maze of unused, off-limits passageways. He turned a corner and was extremely glad to find himself in familiar territory. Hopefully he would be able to placate his girlfriend when he arrived back at his common room. Kevin rushed around another corner, down a set of stairs, through a door masquerading as a wall, down another corridor, through a tapestry, one more corner and-
Kevin skidded to a halt, staring at the malevolent spirit hovering over the stairwell that would shortcut Kevin two floors and let him out near his common room.
Peeves grinned maliciously.
Kevin took a step back.
"STUDENT OUT PAST CURFEW! STUDENT IN THE HALLWAYS! FILCH! SNAPE! MCGONAGALL! COME QUICK! STUDENT OUT AND ROAMING THE HALLS!"
Swearing viciously, the sixth year turned and ran back the way he had come, Peeves hot on his heels. Around a corner, through a tapestry, down a corridor, through a door. Burst out in the middle of a corridor, up a set of stairs, round a corner, all with Peeves just behind him, yelling at the top of his lungs. Kevin put on an extra jolt of speed, putting two corridors and a tapestry between him and the poltergeist. Grinning triumphantly, he slipped behind a suit of armor and through the door masked by it. He closed the door quietly, pausing a moment.
He waited until he heard Peeves go rushing by, now calling, "Come out, come out, wherever you are! I know you're somewhere around here, my little Huffie!" Still grinning, he turned and trekked, with some trepidation, up the stairwell that the hidden door had been concealing. This stairway was particularly temperamental, never leading to the same place twice. Kevin just prayed that he would end up on one of the lower floors.
No such luck. He groaned upon recognizing a portrait that he knew for certain was on the seventh floor, glaring at the painting of a deer that had once been the entrance to the stairs. It stared innocently back. With a sigh, he trudged down the corridor. The seventh floor was particularly difficult to navigate, with several staircases that led to several destinations. Kevin set off for the one that would take him the farthest down.
He was only a corridor away from the staircase he needed when he heard it. He stopped dead, cocking his head to the side. Again! A barely audible squeak of a trainer. It was somewhere up ahead of him. One squeaky shoe stood in between him and his ticket to freedom. Well, there were also a few floors and most probably a homicidal caretaker to contend with, but still. He needed to get to that staircase. Taking a deep breath, Kevin stuck his head around the corner.
No one was there.
No squeaky shoes.
Nothing between him and the staircase.
With a quiet, whispered whoop, Kevin dashed across the hall, making a beeline for the protection of the stairs.
Foot in midair, he turned his head to look in the direction the order had been issued from. The familiar form of Professor Snape stood at the far end of the hallway, glaring ominously. He was not, to Kevin's sudden confusion, looking at him. He was looking at what appeared to be an empty patch of wall. Perhaps the bat had taken one too many Longbottom-esque explosions to the head over the years. For all Kevin cared, he could take points from as many rule-breaking patches of wall that he wanted, as long as he didn't look down the hall. Carefully, ever-so-carefully, Kevin set his foot down. Then, just as carefully, he withdrew into the patch of shadows behind him. He couldn't risk making his way to the stairs now.
He returned his attention to the Professor, who was still glaring at the stone before him. Kevin was rather surprised that the wall didn't crumble under the pressure. Suddenly, Snape shifted his weight, crossing his arms impatiently and intensifying his glare.
"Are you going to show yourself or will I have to force you?" He snapped irritably.
Hmm. Perhaps this was just the man's unique way of dealing with particularly reticent hidden doorways. With a glare as formidable as Snape's, it was not a totally improbable theory. Snape growled; a truly terrifying sound that almost made Kevin wish he was facing down his girlfriend. Almost.
This seemed to do the trick, as the air before Snape seemed to warp, then suddenly, and person appeared.
Short stature, black hair, green eyes, silver cloth clutched in one hand.
Damn, Kevin had been anxious to see if Professor Snape's tactics would work on the wall.
Still, this could prove to be an interesting interaction. Kevin had never personally born witness to a Potter-Snape showdown, and was quite looking forward to it. Apparently seeing the two in action was unforgettable. Leaning forward with all the morbid fascination of a teenage boy, he watched the drama unfold.
"Care to explain your presence in the hallway, Mr. Potter?"
"Not particularly." Potter flashed a cheeky grin. Kevin drew in a breath, eagerly looking at Snape for a particularly cutting retort.
"You'll have to do better than that, Mr. Potter." Snape's posture was lax, his voice soft. Tension seemed to be brewing between the two.
Potter raised an eyebrow. "What if I don't want to?"
Snape stepped forward, his arm flashing out to pin Potter to the wall. He leaned in close to the smug-looking teen.
"I don't particularly care what you want."
Potter smirked. "Oh, Professor, that's not very nice. And after I came all the way out here to brighten up your day."
Snape raised his eyebrows. Down the hall, hidden in the shadows, Kevin did the same.
"Well, you see sir, I know how much you adore handing out detentions, and I thought that I would wander the halls, cross your path, and give you the perfect excuse to do that which you love."
Kevin stared at the Gryffindor. This looney-tune was the man who had defeated Voldemort? Maybe power didn't corrupt- maybe it just made you mad. That explained Dumbledore. And Potter. And Snape, Conqueror-Of-Walls. Then, to further Kevin's disbelief, Snape laughed.
The sound was warm and deep, astonishingly pleasant to listen to. Snape leaned in, resting his forehead against Potter's.
"Such a generous soul."
Potter grinned and chirped, "You know it!"
Snape pulled back slightly, resting his hand on Potter's cheek. The two looked into each other's eyes, and suddenly Kevin had the very distinct feeling that he should be anywhere but where he was at the moment. His feeling was justified when Snape and Potter kissed.
It was light, soft, more of a peck than a kiss. It held the familiarity of a long-standing relationship. Kevin was astounded to realize that it looked rather like the ones his mother gave his father right before he left for work. Loving.
The two wizards broke apart, and Snape stepped back. Potter smiled up at him, eyes twinkling.
"I'll assume that I have a detention." It was not a question.
"Eight o'clock. Don't be late."
Potter gave a two-fingered salute, and the two men went their separate ways. Potter around the corner, and Snape down the staircase that Kevin had been so eager to descend. Kevin, for his part, stayed in the shadows.
Interesting interaction indeed.
A/N: Reviews slaughter writers block!