Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 4

Severus Snape wanted to get one thing clear: he absolutely, positively abhorred and detested children. He hated the scent of sweat and outdoors the first years brought in; the adolescence of the second years; the moody third years; the disagreeable I-really-do-know-everything-and-you're-just-an-old-foggy fourth years; the hormone-driven fifth years; the hormone dripping sixth years; and lastly, the We're-almost-out-so-why-do-we-care? seventh years. He hated children when he was a child, and he hated children even more as an adult. So why did he accept the position of professor?


Sinistra. Potion professor of old, she didn't like how the fumes from potions made her hair look greasy. As she knew about that thing with the guy in the extremely questionable club in Naples -a thing Severus never wished to hear exposed to the light of day- he was blackmailed. Damn sly Slytherin hag. He satisfied himself with the knowledge Sinister Sinistra was going to come down with a bad case of diarrhea soon.

Severus managed to keep his cackling in check. Such rare moments of laughter needed to be bottled and saved for first through fifth year Hufflepuffs. They always made the best fearful whimpers.

Thinking of laughter, is that.... chortling I hear? Severus almost flinched in discontent at such a rare commodity polluting his humor-free hallway. It wasn't as if Severus couldn't take a good lark every once and a bit; he and Danforth were known to rival the Marauders in their wit, cunning, and pranking. Too bad Danforth died at the Dark Lord's feet; Severus sort of missed the idiot from time to time...

Such bitter thoughts need not pay heed. There was irrefutable laughter... in his hallway! Oh the horror, the nerve, the complete inanity of it!... Severus clearly thought, as he had many times before, that he needed to start spreading the sarcasm and melodrama a little thinner when it came to his inner musings. Good insults and crabby emotions were wasted in his own mind.

When he found the source of the laughter, any action of looming and sullenly sulking-slash-glaring at the offender quickly flew out the window. Two boys ("Now, Severus, sixteen year olds are hardly boys," he heard Albus admonish in his head) stood in his hallway, one lost in petulant confusion as he scratched his head through his thick mane of chestnut hair, and the other doubled over, wheezing and struggling to get his giggles under control as his normally pale face flushed a rosy dusk in amusement, clasped eyes tearing, hair falling neatly into his face.

Severus Saris Snape had not had the privilege to witness Draco Ibenes Malfoy laugh so hard since his fourth birthday party, when Lucius Malfoy had incidentally become the victim of Jobblewokker Draught. That mirth had been celebrated by both Severus and Draco when Lucius, speaking unwillingly in nothing but pig Latin and periodically changing from spots to stripes to zigzags of varying color, stomped off to brew himself a cure.

It would be that brat, Severus conceded finally, staring long and hard at the new Gryffindor. Of course he could see the boy should have been sorted; even exchange students were sorted into the houses as any normal first year. His anger with the Draught of the Living Dead debacle.... followed shortly by the Wolfbane fumes that engulfed his entire lab due to a little too much asaine... Well, it overshadowed his desire to have an extremely intelligent, cunning, and resourceful new Slytherin in his midst. At the time, Severus believed Duo Maxwell would have been more trouble than he was worth.

Yet the boy, no matter how troublesome, would have made such an excellent addition to his house. Severus' only consolation was that Minerva McGonagall, Ice Queen of the Tight Ass, would not stand for Maxwell's accidental brand of insolence. The boy had a fair chance of driving the old battle axe into early retirement.

"I did something stupid, didn't I?" sighed the braided boy in resignation. Maxwell certainly did stupid things; still, he was far from stupid. "Lay it on me hard, D-man. I can take it."

The youngest Malfoy managed to reign over his giggles, but his amusement clearly shown in his silvery eyes as he straightened and met the violet-eyed boy boldly. "Battle Axe McGonagall," Scary how his students managed to pick up nicknames he was positive he'd never uttered, Severus filed absently, "doesn't own a cat, Maxwell."

Maxwell frowned. Brightened in realization. And he finally gained a sickened stance, wearily staring at the Slytherin student before him. "I turned McGonagall green, didn't I?"

Malfoy didn't reveal the fact he had been impressed with Maxwell's quick deduction. "Full marks for astuteness, Maxwell."

What? Wait, that explained that potion Minerva had requested through owl post. Severus almost grinned; there wasn't a chance that he was going to allow that old hag to live this down.

Maxwell was beginning to look a little green himself. "I guess now isn't a cool time to think about what I did when I was practicing that shaving spell..."

Draco was quivering so hard trying to control his mirth. Snape felt something strange occur with his mouth; it twitched, slowly tilting at the corners until he had an almost full-grown grin, and he was a little put-out to realize he hadn't felt such humor himself in a long while. Was that a snicker that escaped from his throat?

Apparently it was. He found both boys facing him, he leaning casually against the doorframe of his classroom, arms and ankles crossed nonchalantly with a single raised eyebrow and a strange tilt to his mouth. The braided boy didn't look surprised at the intrusion; Severus was positive the boy had known he was there the entire time. Draco Malfoy wasn't quite so fortunate, and by the look in his eyes, he was probably going back to his fourth birthday party as well; it had been the last time he'd seen his godfather look so truly amused.

Severus found himself shaking his head. "Green and shaved... It explains so much that is the old codger and how she's been acting."

Draco caught himself smiling slightly, and the boy wiped it away instantly. His face set into his perfectly stone-cold mask, the boy corrected his stance; instead of pleasantly relaxed as he had been, the blonde Slytherin had conformed into his original stiff, up-tight posture. One would have never guessed there had been a change, Severus mused to himself thoughtfully, if not for the faint cords of content that lay behind the young man's stormy eyes.

Severus found himself taking a page from the younger man's book; it was effortless to slide his greasy-git Potions Master façade back into its firm place. It had been a constant expression for twenty years, after all.

"If the two of you insist on making nuisances of yourselves so early on a Monday morning," Snape sneered icily, "then I suggest you step in and reassess yourselves for today's lesson instead of crowding the hallway." The fact there were no other students in the deserted hallway didn't seem to detour the dark man at all. "Higher Entities know some of you need the study."

"Of course, Professor," Malfoy agreed amiably, gracefully sweeping down to place his discarded possessions from the stone floor and gliding into the classroom in one seemingly fluent motion.

Through the entire proceedings Duo Maxwell hadn't missed a beat. He grinned and shouldered his own belongings, never having fallen from his shoulders as Malfoy's had, and he slyly winked in the direction of his Potions Master. "Sorry, Prof, just having a little outer-house experience," he chirped in a tone that clearly read 'Oh bugger you, you old sod, and bloody well take the wand out of your arse'... but without all of the British denominations.

Malfoy stopped when he heard this explanation and had to scoff in amusement. "Oh, I see. So you arrested my progress because I have a nice arse?"

Maxwell was practically glowing in sensuality as he leered appreciatively through a slow analyzation of Malfoy's robe-clad body. "Correctomundo, amigo. You would be killer in a pair of low-riding, black leather pants with a mesh shirt."

"Ah," Malfoy said slowly. The blonde Slytherin, Severus noted, hid his ignorance well. I should give the boy a cookie for his acting skills, remarked his Inner Severus.

"Funny you should say that," the blonde boy went on, "because Zabini said the same."

A slow grin curled the corners of Maxwell's mouth as he finally took a step to enter the classroom. With a sly glance to Severus, the braided boy remarked casually, "As a forewarning -because I like you, y'know- D-man's going to rebel. Soon."

And Severus' treacherous mind whispered, Very soon. He could not help being pleased about it.


"Where did Duo disappear off to?" Seamus said suddenly, startling the rest of the sixth year Gryffindors. Harry blinked owlishly, his eyes swinging to the seat the popular boy had once occupied. Sure enough, there wasn't a sign of the new Gryffindor.

"That's odd," Hermione remarked softly, barely heard above the sudden din of the rest of the curious house. Harry knew exactly what she meant; he was thinking the same. Duo might have been new to Hogwarts, but Harry could tell the boy was the sort that was outgoingly cheerful and naturally loud and noticeable. Clear rarities like the length and style of his hair and the amethyst tinge to his eyes, accompanied with his sparkling personality were supposed to be hard to ignore. How could a guy so casually entrancing, entertaining, and chatty as Duo Maxwell suddenly... up and leave without notice?

Seamus blinked at the empty space beside him. "Huh. Did anyone see him leave?"

Everyone within hearing shook their head in the negatives.

"You would think we would have noticed," Dean Thomas frowned. "One moment he's entertaining us with fascinating tall tales, the next he just... fades out? That's very strange."

"I wouldn't look too much into it," Ron replied, casually munching on a piece of warm toast smeared with a liberal amount of grape jam. "He probably went up to get his books or something. God knows I'd like a minute of composure to prepare for the Hell that is Snape's class," he added as a ruefully bitter afterthought, drawing snickers from both Seamus and Dean.

Harry glanced at Hermione for confirmation; both of them saw how Duo packed most of what he needed for Potions into his backpack, which he had carried down into the Great Hall for breakfast. Duo had been very precise in his packing while he readily chattered on and on about this and the weather and that and flying and greenhouses three and six having been taken out "through suspicious methods that might have conceivably had to do with some misfortune on my account. I'm sure it was an accident, whatever I might have not done. Who'd want to learn about a bunch of freaky plants, anyway?"

The sixth year Gryffindors were slow to head to class; they mingled lightly in the halls leading to the Potions dungeon ("Anyone else think it's so very wrong to teach class in a dungeon?" Seamus had said moodily. Hermione replied with a swift "don't be stupid" and calmly explained that sometimes some ingredients reacted badly with sunlight, and sometimes fumes were too obnoxious to handle through the normal Hogwarts hallways. No one wanted to admit that Hermione had a point).

The five Gryffindors were dismayed to see Malfoy's watchdogs prowl down the hall in a stumbling gait, finally reaching the classroom and turning inside. "Great," Ron grumbled, "and where dumb and dumber go, the one with half a brain cell to share is bound to be nearby."

"He might already be gracing the classroom with his blond presence," an unfamiliar voice quipped, startling the four out of their dismay. The reason for the unfamiliarity of the voice was simple, and Harry was a little confused to realize: of the five years they had been attending Hogwarts, none of them had ever heard Blaise Zabini speak; at least, Harry was sure he hadn't. It was a common myth that Zabini was either deaf, mute, or extremely anti-social.

Zabini's voice, whatever the case, was deceptively soft and musical. Millicent Bulstrode, another silent Slytherin, took up a place at his side. Zabini glided by the four without halting, Bulstrode trampling at his side like an elephant joining a panther.

Clear dusky eyes flickered toward the group, an odd expression of mixed disinterest and polite warmth painting those dark blue eyes mixed with amber orange. "Or Greg and Vince just fed him to the squid in the lake and they've come back for a round of celebrating with butterbeer and Snape," he added in the same unchanging, musical tone, an eyebrow lifting in something akin to amusement. An odd expression of closed-off interest flickered across his coldly pretty face as his mouth tilted into a small grin before adding, "You never really know."

The two least antagonistic Slytherins (missing their usual third, a plain-faced girl named Moon) seemed to lack venom when it came to speaking with any students at all; of course, they usually didn't speak to any student at all. Is he... checking out-? Harry was too stunned to answer his own question, and quickly decided to shove it far, far away from his mind.

"What a weirdo," Ron mumbled when the quiet Slytherins were out of earshot, scowling at their backs with venom as the five s l o w l y made their way to the Class From Hell. "Why does Dumbledore even put up with the lot of them? I say we save ourselves the trouble and toss them all out with a nice, swift kick in the bum for good measure."

"I'm sure Slytherins have purposes," Hermione insisted with doubt coloring her voice. "Though it's disheartening to know that it's a complete mystery."

"I find them kind of entertaining myself!"

Harry was startled out of his absent musings by the jovial voice that he'd grown so used to in just a day. "Duo!" he said, pleased that the boy hadn't actually disappeared into thin air. "There you are. You vanished on us."

The braided boy with the violet eyes was quick to grin, letting his chair land solidly on all fours before standing to meet his house mates. "I have a tendency to do that," he admitted proudly. "Actually, I caught sight of someone who looked damn uncannily comparable to a friend of mine. I had to go say hi and bug the crap out of him looking for any family quirks I could find."

"Did you find any?" Seamus questioned, placing his books and taking a seat in the back of the third row.

"Yeah, but not enough to really see if Quat and the dude are related." He blinked at the congregation of Gryffindors taking their seats in the back. "Why, exactly, are you guys all sitting in the back?"

"Snape," Hermione replied primly. "Every year since the first the guys in Gryffindor try to take all the seats in the back. Snape always spreads us out before taking ten points from Gryffindor for conspiring against a teacher."

The braided boy looked suitably impressed. "You can't say Sev doesn't do things by halves, can you?"

"Too bad that's one of the things he takes points off for that actually happens," Ron said resentfully, glancing around the class before uttering a groan. Draco Malfoy certainly haunted the dungeons already, along with cronies Goyle and Crabbe and the oddly silent Zabini and Bulstrode. Parkinson was no where in sight, but Lavender and Parvati had yet to show, either.

"I guess now isn't a cool time to admit that I have a shameless habit of flirting with him during class," Duo said with a lusty grin. The rest of the attending Gryffindors stared at him in uncomprehensible horror. "What? Have you ever seen that man in a pair of well-fitting blue jeans? Snape has one sexy-"

"URGH!" Ron groaned loudly, clutching his stomach as if he was in pain. Dean and Seamus didn't look too well, either.

Suddenly Duo's expression changed minutely, as if he realized what was coming, and he began to shake his head and wave his hands, trying to get them to stop, stop, STOP you idiots, but they were too riled up to notice.

"He's Snape," Seamus moaned.

"His hair is greasy-"

"He's a poncy git-"

"A poncy prejudiced git-"

"His nose takes up his entire face-"

"And he's like fifty years old!" Ron ended Seamus' and Dean's list of Why Snape Isn't Good Looking Even In Third World Countries, No Offense To Third Worlds.

"Potion fumes don't make my hair look so clean, either," Duo pointed out. "He acts like that because it's sickeningly obvious he hates kids, but he's been roped into a job that requires being around them a good part of the year. He's prejudice because, frankly, everyone else judges him and his house first, so I surmise he's trying to get in his first. His nose is a respectable Roman nose that looks very sleek on him, and he's going on thirty-six. It doesn't change the very apparent fact that Sevy has a very sweet package under those billowy robes." He suddenly looked a little guilty as he clasped his hands behind his back and rocked on the back of his heels innocently. "Nor does it change the fact, erhm, that he's, uh, been standing behind you since 'Urgh'."

Harry, tense because he had also seen the same thing as Hermione and Duo had, slumped at his friends' horrified, pale expressions. His head fell against gravity, and he closed his eyes tightly before reaching under his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose. Somehow he just KNEW he was going to be roped into whatever punishment Snape would deal out...

When Harry's emerald green eyes settled on the imposing figure of a disapproving Potions Master, he couldn't help noticing that Snape just might have 'a very sweet package under those Billowy robes.'

Oh, damn it all to hell...



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