There was minimal light in the Slytherin common room, making it rather difficult for Severus to read. With great irritation, he leaned closer to the page. He had to sweep his hair behind his ears so that the black strands wouldn't cover the words. Then, with a heavy sigh, he realized he was far too tired to comprehend much of the book anyway. He slammed it shut, creating a loud thud that echoed through out the empty common room.
At least, Severus thought it was an empty common room.
"What is that you're reading, Dear?" asked a sultry voice.
Severus looked up to see a witch standing with her back to the roaring fire place. Her shadow (as curvy and seductive as she was) stretched all the way to where he sat. She slowly approached him, still waiting for an answer.
But Severus had no words to say. Narcissa Black had never talked to him before. She was the temptress of Slytherin. Everyone knew that. She'd toy with boys until they fell hopelessly in love with her. Severus, however, wasn't that dim witted.
"A book. Ever heard of them?" he asked, returning his eyes to the small font of the page.
The sarcastic comment was not enough to make her leave. She simply waltzed her way over, and sat beside him on the emerald green rug.
"No," she said, playing along, "I've never seen one of those before in my life."
"Maybe if you pried your eyes away from the mirror…." He smirked. He was confident this would be enough to send her away, but she seemed too persistent.
"Why so bitter?" she asked. Her small hand found his shoulder "Does this have something to do with that Mudblood girl?"
Severus snapped his head upward and glared at her pretty blue eyes.
"I can see this is a delicate subject for you, my dear. It must be hard loosing some one you love, even if she is muggle born."
"How do you know anything about that?" he growled. It didn't seem likely that a girl like Narcissa would keep up with his affairs.
She simply twirled her blonde hair with her free hand, "I do my research, but not nearly as much as you do." The hand on his shoulder slid seductively down his arm, and took hold of his hand. Squeezing tight, she said, "That's why I've come to you."
"What do you want, Narcissa?"
"You've heard, surly, about my older sister?" she asked.
"Bellatrix?" He assumed, while pulling his hand out of her grasp.
"No, no, not Bella. My other sister- Andromedia."
"Ah, yes. The quiet one?"
"Yes, her…" she paused before continuing, "She was arranged to be married to a Malfoy, but she ran away with some Bloody Muggleborn, and got herself disowned by the entire Black family."
Severus had heard enough. He stood up, clutching his book to his chest. "Maybe I'm mistaking, but I don't see what any of this has to do with me."
He didn't take more then two steps before Narcissa jumped up and fallowed. "Severus, please, wait," she pleaded.
The desperateness in her voice made him pause. He stared at the door to the boy's dormitories, as she walked up behind him.
"With Andromedia out of the family, Mother wants me to marry the Malfoy." There is no sadness in her tone, only anger.
"Then why not run away like your older sister?" he said simply, still not turning around to face her.
"Because I'm not a fool!" she spat.
"Then marry the man!" Severus mocked.
"He's diabolical and crude, and 6 years my senior, I might add."
This had caught his attention, and Severus turned on his heels until they're eyes met. "Are you referring to Lucias?"
"Out of the question! Lucias is a brilliant wizard, and a decent match, and he's very powerful, too. Only an idiot would cross him!"
Now that he was looking, Severus could see that dark circles of smeared make up surrounded her eyes. Had she been crying?
"Listen. I'm not going to run away, or refuse him. I'm simply looking for a way to turn his attention elsewhere without disgracing my family. I just- I can't figure out how. You're the brightest wizard in this school. Help me,Dammit!"
One of Severus's eyebrows rose high on his forehead. "Brightest, you say?"
"Oh, shut it! You already know that!" She snapped.
"I am bright," said Severus openly, "that is exactly why I refuse to lose my favor with the most power pure-blood family there is."
When she spoke next, her voice returned to its sultry tone. "Isn't there anything you want more then your favor with Malfoy? There has to be something that you desire, other then the Dark Mark."
He shook his head.
"What do you desire, Severus?" She asked, through barely parted lips. Then she went on to say, "you know, you may be brilliant at Occlumency, but your little friend, or should I say, former friend, certainly isn't."
"What- you dare raise a wand to her!" he said, hotly.
But Narcissa only laughed. "I knew it," she suppressed a smile. "I didn't do a thing to the Mudblood. No need to get so… protective."
"Don't toy with me, Narcissa Black!" He was rather upset with her for tricking him, but she went on with little notice.
"I can keep your secret, Snape. I can do a lot of things for you… If you help me, that is."
"I already told you--"
"I can help you get her back," Narcissa said.
Severus eyed the young witch. She was the most popular Slytherin 5th year. If she could improve him…. Well, who's to say that Lily wouldn't accept him again?
And he longed for nothing more then her forgiveness.
"I'll take your hesitation as a yes!" chimed Narcissa happily, "now go to bed, Dear. We have a lot of work to do."
Hours later, Severus turned in his bed, having the most beautiful dream. Lily was there and he was there, and that was enough to make it pleasant. He looked at her. She looked at him. There was little else. Maybe a thin layer of mist around there feet, but that was all.
"Severus?" a beautiful voice whispered. He opened his eyes, realizing that the noise wasn't apart of his dream.
There Narcissa stood, looking down on him.
"How the Hell did you get in here?" he hissed.
"Just get up," she said. Then she threw something light onto his stomach, "and put these on."
She walked out, leaving Severus extremely confused. How had she gotten into the boy's dormitory? What time was it? And what had she thrown onto his bed….
He sat up and rubbed his tired eyes. Then he checked the time with the watch on his beside table. 6:00 in the bloody morning? He looked down at his sheets; sitting on top was a set of muggle garments.
"What the Hell is this?" He asked Narcissa as he came into the common room.
"I told you I was going to help you, didn't I? Well, then you have to work out, get a muscle other then your brain. Now, put on those work out clothes."
"I have an O.W.L today!" he growled.
"Do you want my help or not?"
"Not!" he said.
She only frowned a bit and then said, "Go change."
Wearily, Severus did as he was told. The garments were simple black shorts and a Slytherin-green T-shirt. They seemed to have never been used, making them the newest muggle clothes he'd ever worn. By his bed, he also found a pair of running shoes. He pulled them on, wondering where Narcissa had gotten any of this stuff.
He returned to the common room to find Narcissa also wearing the ridicules garments. Hers were a deep shade of violet.
"Great, they fit you like a glove," she said.
"I look ludicrous! Where did you get-"
"I sent out my house elves to get them. Now, come on," she said, heading toward the door. Severus followed, as he pictured in his mind an ugly little house elf walking into a sport's shop.
"What, exactly, is your master plan for this morning?" he asked groggily.
"We're going out for a bit of exercise before exams," she said merrily.
They left the dungeons and walked out into the halls of the castle. Severus kept his voice in a fierce whisper, "I don't want to be tired during my morning exam!"
"It's potions," she said, "you'll get an '0' no matter what."
Severus said nothing. Truth was, he was a bit flattered that she had even noticed he was good with potions.
He fallowed her all the way out to he empty Quiditch field. The sun had not yet rose and that the grass was still wet with dew.
After her eyes traveled the length of his scrawny body, Narcissa said, "Clearly your not too use to this…"
"and you are?" Severus sneered.
"Actually, I run often. What? Don't look at me like that! I know it's… muggle, but I need to stay in shape, and since I'm not fond of Quidicth, I have to exercise the muggle way."
Severus bit back the rude comment he was planning on making, and instead, he said, "Don't you think this is kind of useless?"
"What do you mean?" She asked, as she pulled her arms in awkward positions.
"I mean… I'm not a Black!" he said, referring to the fact all of the members of the Black family were blessed with good looks. "Don't you think my appearance is a bit of a lost cause?"
"No," she said, "but you're self esteem might be."
She helped him stretch himself out. Severus was amazed that she hadn't even mentioned Malfoy. He was thankful, too, because he had no idea how to help her out of her predicament.
Lucias Malfoy was the oldest in the Malfoy's very powerful, very rich family. He worked for the Dark Lord, and was diffidently in his favor. Severus first met the notorious wizard on his very first day at Hogwarts. After the Sorting Hat placed him in Slytherin, he sat down beside Lucias at the table. Truthfully, Severus had always liked him a bit. True, he was a sly bastard to most, but he had always been particularly nice to Severus when he was a first year, probably because he realized his potential as a Death Eater, even at the young age.
Narcissa was right; the only way to get out of the marriage is to get him to decide to call it off. But she had to do this task without ruining her reputation or getting disowned by her extremely prejudice family.
"You get lost in thought easily, don't you?" she mocked. "Were you thinking about her?"
"No!" he snapped.
"Okay, okay. Save your energy. You're going to need it."
She took off, running on the rim of the Quiditch field. Severus followed, trying to keep up with her steady pace. His first reaction was – This is easy, but then there was an aching pain in his chest and a fire in his throat. His legs got tired and he could hear his pulse pounding like a drummer in a band. He forced himself to finish the lap. Then, when Narcissa came to a halt in the spot where they began and Severus collapsed onto the cold ground.
"Out of shape?" she asked.
"I was never in shape!" he barked. Her laugh was flirty and cruel. "You're enjoying this far too much."
"I'm only trying to help, my dear. I promise, as you put that mind of yours to work on my problem, I'll make you tantalizing by the end of the summer."
"Now, give me… let's say, 10 push up. Then we'll do another lap."
"You'll kill me," he sneered.
"I'm insulted, don't you trust me?" she asked, her blue eyes widening.
Severus answered truthfully, "no."
After two more laps, Severus walked back down to the dungeons sweat- soaked and soar. Narcissa was at his side.
"So this summer, we'll work on looks. We'll bulk you up, do something with that hair-"
"It won't do any good, my dear."
"Once we return to school, I'll work on popularity."
Severus couldn't keep from rolling his eyes.
"Now, go wash up," she said.
"I don't need you to tell me," he said. He hurried away from her. Right before he got to the Male Slytherin's Restroom, he heard her call, 'don't forget to wash behind your ears.'
Severus sunk into the heated water of the bath. He didn't have very long before breakfast would begin, but the water soothed his aching body. He took in a deep breath then slid his head beneath the surface.
I have agreed to help Narcissa Black weasel her way out of an arranged marriage, he thought, she's going to make me over, and help me win Lily back.
He broke the surface of the warm water, breathing in the air. Lily Evans, Lily Evans, Lily Evans.
Sometimes, Severus thought, the sound of her name is enough to make me happy. Lily Evans, Lily Evans…
This wasn't one of those times. He wanted to see her. He wanted her so badly that he was willing to negotiate with a Black, to plot against a Malfoy, and give up his future as a Death Eater.
He leaned forward and turned up the temperature on the facet until it was scorching hot. Then he let his arm burn beneath the running water.
He had no idea what to do to help Narcissa. In fact, he had no idea if he could even trust her. He didn't know if he could win back Lily, or how she felt. So, he got out of the bath, dressed, and headed for the one thing he was confident he knew for sure- potions.