SS: Hey Guys!
LL: The next chapter is finally up!
SS: Sorry for the extra long break - real life has been pretty difficult for us since the holidays but hopefully we can start updating regularly again.
LL: So without further delay - please enjoy!
Chapter Nine – Gryffindor Vs Slytherin
All the excitement surrounding the troll finally subsided as the highly anticipated Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Slytherin approached. It was a cool evening as Temperance walked along one of the hallways of the castle, humming quietly to herself. She stopped suddenly, hearing muffled voices up ahead. They must have heard her footsteps as the talking stopped almost as soon as she did. Reaching the end of the hallway, she was met by Severus and glancing over his shoulder, saw Argus Filch disappearing down the hallway behind him.
"Professor Starfall," he greeted her.
"Good evening, Professor Snape," she replied politely enough, her eyes immediately fell to the book in his hand. "Reading up on Quidditch?" she nodded at the object.
"No," he answered abruptly. "I confiscated it from some first year Gryffindors who seem to have no respect for school rules." Temperance subtly rolled her eyes wondering if he would ever give up this grudge he had against Gryffindor.
"Really?" she looked at him, her tone exhausted. "Was that really necessary?"
"Are you questioning my actions, Professor?" his voice becoming low.
"Not at all," a playful smile formed across her lips as she saw something move from the corner of her eye. Holding out her hand, she continued. "I shall return it to the library for you then." Severus stared at the open hand for a long moment before turning his gaze back to her eyes, which glistened brightly at him. Pursing his lips, he then handed the book to her. Without saying anything more Severus walked past her and started his way down the corridor.
"Would you like me to heal that for you?" she glanced over her shoulder at him.
"What?" he snapped, turning back to her. Temperance spun around to meet him once again.
"Your leg, you've been limping since the troll attacked," she held the book in front of her, arms crossed over her chest.
"Are you accusing me of something Professor?" he slowly stepped closer, straightening himself so he towered above her.
"Only at using a poor healing potion… or charm," she shrugged letting her arms fall by her sides.
"Hmph," he replied, turning on his heel. Temperance watched him leave, feeling a strange weight on her chest. She shrugged it off, looking to her left.
"Mr Potter?" she inquired, gazing towards the dark corner at the end of the hallway. Harry stepped out into the dim lighting.
"How did you know it was me?" his puzzled expression looking up at her.
"It doesn't take a genius to know who Professor Snape took this book from," she handed it to him with a warm smile.
"Thank you, Professor," he said sheepishly placing the book under his arm.
"You're welcome, now off with you before you get yourself into any trouble." Harry disappeared almost as quickly as he had appeared. Temperance felt herself sigh, before turning to leave herself.
The next morning was the day of the Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match. It seemed that the entire school had turned out for the event. Temperance arrived late at one of the stands.
"Ah, Temperance, come sit by me," Albus said aloud and she clumsily made her way to the space next to him, falling and tripping over various cloaks and scarves as she went.
"Headmaster," she greeted, brushing down her lilac dress and blue cloak in an effort to maintain some dignity before taking a seat in the space beside him.
"Who do you fancy?" he leaned over and asked.
"Excuse me?" the words came out a little higher pitched than she would have liked.
"For the win?" he laughed at her reaction.
"Oh, um-, I'm not sure. Gryffindor have a strong team but I hear Slytherin have a good winning record, though I'm not sure about their means…"
"All's fair Temperance, remember that," he looked out as the students took their places. Madam Hooch shouted something from the ground below as the ball flew up into the air. Suddenly the teams were moving quicker than Temperance could keep track of. She had never been into sports as a student and would rather spend her time walking outside while the others watched the Quidditch games. It was definitely as fast-paced and dangerous as she had heard. Various cheers and boo's erupted from around the stands as the waiting crowds showed support for their team.
Albus straightened in his chair as he watched Harry suddenly wrestle with his broom.
"What's wrong with Harry?" Temperance said seeing his struggle. The Weasley twins appeared beside him, trying to help Harry control the unruly object. Albus was almost standing when a commotion erupted from one of the other stands. Everyone turned their attention to the shouts as Temperance looked back at Harry. "Whatever it was, he seems to be over it now." Albus settled back into his seat and continued to watch the match, his face was stern with troubled thoughts. "Are you okay, Albus?" she reached over to him with concern.
"Yes, I'm fine dear," he patted her hand gently. It did not have the comforting effect he hoped and instead Temperance felt more concern at his behaviour. Albus always knew more than he let on but she had hoped for a little more disclosure between them. Putting those thoughts to the back of her mind, she turned her attention to the game in time to see Harry speeding to the ground. From the cheers that erupted next, she assumed Gryffindor had won the game.
Astrid's time at Hogwarts was going by so fast; it had been three weeks since the incident with the troll and things had finally gotten back to normal. Christmas was fast approaching and all the students were excited to be going home. Unfortunately Neville would also be going home to celebrate with his family. Astrid was not really looking forward to being alone; students who had no family to go home too would usually stay at Hogwarts over the festive holidays.
One morning at breakfast while discussing their homework for that day's potions class, an owl flew towards them. It came to a stop in front of Neville and dropped a letter from its mouth. He picked up the letter and began to read:
I am writing to invite your little friend Astrid to our home for Christmas. You mentioned in your last letter that she would be spending the holidays alone at the castle and I thought it would be nice for you to have a friend over for the festive period. I will collect you both from the train station when the Hogwarts Express arrives.
Neville looked up from the letter with a shocked expression.
"Gran has invited you to come and spend Christmas with us!" he told Astrid excitedly. Astrid was equally shocked, while she was happy not to have to spend the holidays alone she didn't know why Neville's gran would invite someone to her home that she didn't know.
"Why would your gran invite me to stay at yours over Christmas?" she asked. Neville shrugged a little, looking sheepish.
"W-well I've mentioned you a few times in my letters to her; she thinks it would be good for me to have a friend home for the holidays. I think she's happy I've actually made a friend to write home about."
"That's really nice of her to offer," she smiled. "But… would you want me to spend the holidays with you?"
"Yeah that would be great!" he replied enthusiastically.
"Cool, then I'd love to spend the holidays with you and your family." It was from that point on that Astrid started to really look forward to Christmas. This would be the first time that she had spent Christmas with a proper family and she couldn't wait.
"Only twenty days till Christmas!" Minerva said excitedly from her chair beside the fire in the teachers lounge. A groan echoed around the room. "And bah-humbug to you all as well!" it seemed she had taken some offense to the moans.
"Do you have plans?" Temperance asked from over her magazine trying to keep her tone cheery, hoping to lighten Minerva's mood again.
"I'll likely stay here with the students."
"Yes, it's the perfect time to relax and get some reading done," Pomona Sprout chimed in.
"I'm going to participate in the Extreme Winter Sports competition in Canada," added Rolanda Hooch. "Nothing like a bit of competition at this time of year," she rubbed her hands gleefully, taking a seat beside Minerva. Temperance closed her magazine and looked out at the darkening sky.
"I think I'm going to go for a walk," she announced standing up.
"Mind and wear your heavy cloak – it's cold outside!" Minerva called after her.
"Yes mother," she replied sarcastically and laughed. Temperance quickly ran back to her bedroom and looked out her winter cloaks. There were only three that she could find, she picked the dark green one and threw it over her shoulders before heading out.
"Off for a walk?" Severus' low baritone sounded beside her as she stepped into the brisk cold air.
"Of course," her blue eyes twinkled in the light. He stepped closer to her; Temperance noticed he was also dressed in his winter cloak.
"Would you mind if I join you, tonight?" he asked quietly and she noticed there was something different in his demeanour.
"Not at all, is this business or pleasure?" she smiled playfully as they made their way down the path to the black lake.
"I'm running low on some ingredients; however I also wanted to speak with you alone." Temperance felt her chest tighten as their pace slowed. Severus looked out in front of them glancing occasionally in Temperance's direction while she averted her eyes, choosing instead to look at the ground.
"I'm intrigued, Professor Snape. What could you possibly have to say to me that requires this much distance from the castle… and alone?" she tried to keep her tone light, although admittedly, she had started to feel nervous whenever she found herself in conversation with Severus. He seemed to hear the flutter in her voice and did his best not to show his amusement.
"I wanted to… apologise for my behaviour towards you of late. I…"
"It's okay, Professor Snape," she cut in. "I realise that we are colleagues and should remain professional. I should not have assumed…"
"No. That's not what I meant," he jumped in, stopping in front of her. She looked up at him, unable to hide the surprise on her face. Severus seemed to be having difficulty finding the words he wanted to say. Temperance looked into the dark pools of his eyes and saw the conflicting emotions there. Her chest tightened again and she was surprised to feel a strong need within herself to pull him closer. He looked down into the glassy blue eyes smiling up at him, trying to see what she felt at that moment. He couldn't.
"You know, the eyes are the windows to the soul, Professor Snape," she broke their gaze and slowly started to walk again. She waited until she felt him beside her before continuing. "Even when we suppress our memories and control our physical appearance, if you look closely, the eyes will still give away our deepest emotions," she smiled up at him. He turned to meet her gaze once more. "Let's move past the last few weeks, like they never happened, Professor…"
"You can call me Severus, when we are alone," he said softly. Temperance wasn't sure how to react to this gentler side of Severus.
"Okay Sev," she giggled, skipping ahead, hoping to play down her happiness.
"No, Severus," his tone returned to its usual seriousness. They walked along in a comfortable silence for a while as they reached the forest. "I don't believe we ever finished out conversation about your Animagus." Temperance tensed a little as he continued. "You have more than one?" his eyebrow raised as he looked at her.
"Yes," she answered.
"You realise they are a reflection of one's soul?"
"Therefore each witch or wizard can only change into one," his gaze never faltered from her, hoping she would give something away. Temperance simply nodded in reply. Severus gave a deep sigh. "You know, I looked up your Animagus at the Ministry's register." He smirked upon seeing the glare she shot him before quickly returning to her original stoic expression. "Do not be offended, I was simply intrigued. They are public records afterall, Professor." They continued walking. "You are registered as a snow-white cat with sapphire eyes, the same I saw when you first arrived at Hogwarts." A small smile spread across Temperance's lips knowing how much this was bothering him. "There are none others registered," he finished. He waited for an explanation in silence. Temperance had to admit that she was enjoying his annoyance, probably a little too much.
"You seem to have done your homework, Severus," she finally said but offered nothing more. "Oh look, Lavender! I do believe that's on your list," she ran ahead. Severus sighed to himself again, knowing that she was either teasing him or didn't trust him enough to share her secret. Both could equally be true. He decided not to pursue the topic at this time, hoping she would tell him the truth when she was ready.
Temperance helped Severus find the other ingredients he listed and it wasn't long until every item had been accounted for. The forest was dark and cold as they made their way back, walking along behind the floating basket of ingredients and the bubble of light Temperance had made.
"Are you ever quiet?" he asked her in an even tone.
"What are you talking about?"
"You realise you constantly hum while you walk?" Temperance couldn't tell if he was annoyed.
"I love music," she shrugged. "When I was little my mum used to read me this book. I can't quite remember the name…" she was quiet for a moment trying to recall it. "Anyway," she shook her head. "I always remember; there was a boy walking through the forest and he always sang to keep away the goblins because they didn't like music," she nodded.
"So, you hum to keep away the goblins?" a smile started to tug at the corner of his lips.
"Well, I have walked through a lot of dark forests in my time and have yet to be attacked by any!" a small chuckle escaped her. She looked over at Severus, who also seemed to have found some amusement in her story. Suddenly she ran ahead and squealed. Severus drew his wand instantly, ready for anything that met them.
"What is it? Is something wrong?" he called trying to catch her. As he reached the edge of the forest he stopped with a confused expression. There in the clearing was Temperance dancing around in circles as a light dusting of snow fell from the sky.
"It's snowing!" she yelled at him excitedly. He relaxed then and looked at the ground, trying to hide the large smile which had formed on his lips, surprising even him. When he felt more in control of himself he looked back at the little witch gazing up at the black sky, her eyes shining brightly as her hair reflected the starlight. Severus felt his breath catch in his throat and an unfamiliar flutter in his chest as he took in the scene before him. He tried to shake it off and walked towards her.
"Professor…" he started.
"Temperance or Temp if you like?" she beamed at him. "Severus."
LL: Hope you enjoyed - short one this week but next time it will be longer, we are going to try and update every other week so keep checking!
SS: Also I know its late but Happy New Year! Its the year of Slytherin!
LL: You mean snake?
SS: Same difference!
SS/LL: Until next time readers :o)