Life is a conundrum, to be sure. Always throwing up obstacles when they are least expected and most certainly not warranted. The afternoon four years ago haunts me still, as though taunting me to remember every sordid detail which followed and has stuck like shit to me since that time. I lurk in the shadows of thoughts and deeds now, more for my own security than for any other reason. A shadow creature, often labelled with the whispered epithet of greasy bat, I have fully assumed that position despite my best efforts to soften my teaching methods. I have no desire to watch and involve myself in the interactions of my students, preferring instead to consider only my own peace of mind.

As I sit here and ponder her latest missive, sent to entreat my forgiveness yet again and to beg me to use my influence, such as it is, to remove what she sees as obstacles, to our mutual benefit. There is no mutual anything, no benefit other than an Obliviate to wrench out the memories poisoning my soul.

I had believed her sincere in wanting to learn from me, not realising that her motivation was more deliberate, and more cunning, than even I could deduce. She was forceful in her admiration and her desire for the gift of knowledge swayed my objections to her presence. I had no desire to prolong her education, and yet...and yet, it was flattering to be asked to mentor her prior to her Potions apprenticeship with an old colleague in London. Had I looked more closely, instead of falling prey to the vanity of being asked for help, I would have derailed her enthusiasm gladly. What started as a weekly session, quizzing her on some of the more advanced and volatile interactions that she would normally have learnt in the early part of her apprenticeship, turned into her finding her way to the classroom on an almost daily basis, with often the flimsiest of reasons, and towards the end, no reason at all. I took up the mantle and allowed her to pick my brains as it were, little knowing that she would count this as active encouragement.

She was more than happy to assist me in my own work, and to complete some of the more tedious tasks my position as a Potions Master required. I obliged her, allowing her free rein to assist in my daily brewing, and, on more than one occasion, the odious task of checking the classroom stocks and supplies. Her help was useful, as it freed me to continue my individual research without constant interruptions to my free time. Her eagerness was infectious, and I found myself more often than not remaining in the laboratory, ostensibly to watch her technique, but it was a more...it was more than that. I enjoyed watching her work, watching her methodically dice, chop and prepare potions I now found utterly boring after so many years. Often, her questions were insightful, leading my mind to consider other interactions and scholarly research I might pursue once my space became my own again. On more than one occasion I asked her why she found the dank recesses of the Potions laboratory more to her liking than time with her friends. She always adroitly steered the conversation back to an article she knew would be of interest to me, and so I let her lead me to more interesting topics than the latest news of her friends.

Thinking back, there was one occasion where she bitterly recounted that her friends did not like her meddling, preferring to make their own decisions and that their individual values were significantly different. I thought nothing more of it until now, but perhaps her actions towards me hid more victims of her manipulations? I don't know, nor do I care to search for the answer.

It was folly, pure folly. I had no intention of encouraging her advances, and yet there was a certain attraction to the girl. Nothing sinister, at least on my part, but there was a definite meeting of minds in some of the moments we shared. She lulled me into a position of caring and I felt her lure me into her web, in almost the same way as Voldemort had enticed me so long ago. That I seemed willing to follow her Siren song adds yet another layer to my shame.

She made me feel as though I was a worthy mentor, a teacher well enough regarded to offer her the opportunity to absorb more complex ideas than I had been able to cover in the formality of a classroom setting. My vanity at the accolade of her request for my assistance blinded me, and the fact that she was able to worm her way into my affections was, to my mind, superficial and yet magnetic. All of it, from the time I opened my door to her and allowed her into my private space, was poor payment for a life spent actively discerning the motivations, both good and bad, of those around me. My career as a spy, a shadow creature used to keeping others at arms' length, blinded me in the worst possible way. Her letters have continued to pry at my soul, always reminding me of my weakness.

I maintained a professional distance, never established prolonged contact, and merely directed her brewing verbally, though she would at times stand unbearably and rather too intimately close to me. Her invasion of my space seemed accidental, and I thought little of it at the time, merely distancing myself when she chose to stand too close to me. Looking back, it was the fatal error of my not understanding her desire to maintain that contact and merely regarding her infractions as accidental, rather than pre-meditated. I was lured into complacency, my natural reticence defused and my innate sense of danger negated so well that even now I can't tell when the change in her motivations occurred.

She was the predator and I the prey. She lured me with the promise of friendship, companionship and a like mind wanting to cleave knowledge from dry theory to its myriad practical applications. I think back to her studiousness, her absorption of complex problems, and I feel all the more betrayed because I opened myself up to her curiosity and my assumption that it was her desire to ilearn/i, and not something infinitely more sinister, at play. More fool I to allow the web of her deceit and power to envelop me and consume me whole. My folly was to allow her too close - all for my desire to keep her regard always.

It is the gist of her latest dross that has so inflamed me. Her opinion is that I iencouraged/i her advances, and that, having allowed her to take mutual benefit, I have now turned on her with no regard for her feelings – her love for me. It is more of the same, more recriminations delivered with the intention to wound me and further her aspirations to overturn the decisions of her peers. She is deluded in her efforts to clear her name, with no true understanding of why I wish to have no further contact with her. That much is clear from her words, words guaranteed to strike a chord, to wound as well as advance her insistence of my complicity. My complicity, if such a thing is possible under the circumstances, was to allow her perception of me to move away from the role of a teacher and into the infinitely more rewarding position of mentor...and friend. Any chance for i'us,'/i as she puts it, disappeared with her actions. It is poor payment for an act of kindness on my part so long ago to have it skewed and turned, in her mind, into some malevolent gesture on my part to gain her heart, and, having taken my i'pleasure,'/i discarded her to her fate. Her letters are precise on that point. I have, it seems, abandoned her to the fate of anathema within the magical community, and for no justifiable reason.

Her gall! Her unmitigated gall to send this drivel to me, as though it makes up in any way for her treachery. It is her third letter in as many days, as many days as it has taken the Wizengamot to decide her fate, as it happens. Her constant reiteration that I instigated all of this with my actions in defending her honour in the Slytherin thoroughfare is a bitter potion to swallow. Had I known she would latch upon my defence as a prelude to rape, I would have, as I've written already, left her to the bruising fate of crossing Miss Bulstrode. I still don't understand how and why it all changed, or when for that matter. Like a rock scouring against a depression, it plays on my mind constantly, though with no satisfactory answer forthcoming. I'm not sure she even knows the truth of it. She has been relegated to the status of pariah within her adopted world, soon to be expunged by the simple expediency of breaking her wand and exiling her permanently.

Her begging missive is yet to find the flames of my hearth again, but it will soon. I am still debating turning this latest plea over to my legal counsel, and so it still sits crumpled on the flagstones at my feet. They want me to keep any further correspondence as continuing evidence of her disintegration, but I find myself dithering over something I wish was already dealt with. It smacks of duplicity to not accede to their wishes, and yet I find myself wondering at what amusement could be found in the pathetic begging of a woman unable to comprehend that I wish to never again hear her name uttered in my presence, let alone meet her to discuss this i'misunderstanding.'/i

I have no desire to continually see every sordid detail trotted out for the amusement of those who would wish ill of me, though that element dissipated immediately following my testimony under the influence of Veritaserum. Oh, I saw them snickering in the gallery on my way in the door, their amusement at my vulnerability all too apparent. The righteous indignation of her friends, with their suitably blunt assessment of this somehow being, i'all my fault,'/i was to be expected, but even they desisted and quieted as I stepped down from the stand and exited the room as quickly as was possible. I was not desirous of knowing just how she protested my complicity in the act, but according to the transcript my counsel obtained for me, one would have thought iher/i the victim - for seducing her, for encouraging her advances, and for allowing her to act upon her desires - not I. I, who had no recourse but to comply with an Unforgivable uttered with the full intention of binding me irrevocably to the actions she chose to force me to commit.

Imperioed to obey, to titillate, tease and provide a vessel for her gratification, I could not shake off her commands, nor her gratuitous and wholesale disregard for my resistance. I resisted as I could, which is to say very little at all. It is a matter of pure physiology that to become aroused, one needs a catalyst, a reaction guaranteed to elicit the necessary response. It still leaves me shaking with suppressed rage to think that she used her power to pervert, to force me into an action I would not have believed her capable of instigating, and when she had finished her use of me, blithely and calmly state that she looked forward to seeing me again.

I could do no more than gape at her, and I still shake my head wondering at what caused her to act in that way in the first place. I may not be the most appetising of morsels, but even she has no inkling of the depth of my hatred for her actions and for her. Her expulsion from her adopted world, it seems, is weighing heavily upon her, though her actions seem, at least to me, in no way remorseful. Her latest missive shows no regret, and no true understanding of her crime. Her previous letters, all now destroyed, never gave me an inkling of why she chose me, and it is a question I have often wished to know the answer to, but not at the expense of her holding any further power over me.

I was not present for the sentencing, as I knew absolutely that the urge to look away from her during the proceedings was too strong. I have no wish for her to use any sign of weakness as a form of leverage against me, even across the distance of a courtroom. I also had no desire to be an exhibit trotted out for the rank amusement of the masses, the jeering innuendo from those too stupid to realise that, in all of this, I was the one wronged, the one injured and relegated to an afterthought by everyone present in that initial trial. It is as though I, the victim, am to be continually punished for an act so obscene that finding adequate words to describe it all continues to escape me. I have no intention of having my counsel plead for a more severe penalty with her letters as the guiding force. It is hard enough to admit my inability to resist her actions, coerced though I was, but I wish there to be an end to it all.

It is decided. I cannot surrender this latest entreaty to my counsel, though they will more than likely be annoyed at my failure to comply with their wishes. It does not augur understanding in any form, merely desperation, and incites only loathing and further punishment for me to have to surrender the letter.

I had thought it might be even mildly cathartic to watch her poisonous words unfurl and burn in my fireplace, but it leaves me numbed and fighting the urge expel the contents of my stomach. It seems that no matter what I do, she will always retain a hold on my being, a power I have no hope of purging. My words, written as they are now, will soon join the ashes of her letter, and I can but hope that will be the end of the whole sorry incident.


...You said you loved me, and you were sincere, I know it. So, what has happened? Did I do badly, revile you with my body, and seek that which you did not want? What? Answer me! Damn you, Severus...answer me...