First time

Elizabeth's first lesson

Chapter 25

Elizabeth’s first lesson

When Elizabeth finally got back to Ravenclaw Tower, it was well past midnight. She, of course, knew that she was being horribly irresponsible, seeing that she did, after all, have a class to teach in only a few hours, for which she should undoubtedly be fit and well rested, but she had to admit that she didn’t really give a damn. For now that she had, after two long years of suffering, finally managed to remove the barrier that the object of her love interest had so uncompromisingly set up between them, she simply couldn’t bring herself to sacrifice the precious time that she could spend with him just to get some extra sleep, as she was quite certain that all the excitement she was currently experiencing would most likely keep her awake anyway. And since Snape didn’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to let her go either (although he did – rather unconvincingly, one might add – sporadically remind her that maybe it would be a good idea to actually start thinking about going to bed), they simply continued talking and talking (with an occasional kiss in between, of course) until they were both too tired to do anything except share one last goodbye kiss and then drowsily shuffle off to their respective bedrooms.

Luckily for Elizabeth, the common room was already deserted when she crept in through the portrait hole, and even Violet appeared to be far too sleepy to ask her any inconvenient questions. And so, with her thoughts still lingering some nine floors below her, Elizabeth merrily made her way up the winding staircase which led towards her dormitory, making sure to keep as quiet as possible as she reached the heavy door and pushed it open. The last thing she wanted was to wake Jane up, after all, and have her start-

“So, Elizabeth, how did it go?” came a sudden voice out of the darkness, causing the blond witch to cry out in surprise as well as shock.

“Jane!” she exclaimed as soon as she recovered, quickly lighting the tip of her wand and closing the door behind her so as not to provide the whole of Ravenclaw Tower with an early awakening. “How come you’re not asleep?”

“Simply because I’m waiting for you to give me some first-hand information,” replied Jane, eagerly sitting up straighter in her bed.

“Yes, Elizabeth, we’re both all ears.”

“Hermione?” gasped Elizabeth, briskly pointing her wand towards one of the farther beds which had until then been immersed in darkness, only to see her Gryffindor friend beaming at her from under the covers. “How on earth did you get in here? I thought students weren’t allowed to visit the living quarters of a house that was not their own.”

Hermione flashed her a wicked smile. “I’m not Head Girl for nothing, you know. I can go pretty much anywhere I please. But enough of that – tell us about Snape!”

“Wait a minute ... how do you know that that is where I’ve been?” asked Elizabeth suspiciously.

“Well, it really wasn’t that hard to deduce,” smirked Hermione, in an almost Malfoy-like manner. “Neville and I had decided to pay you a short visit before bedtime, to wish you good luck with your first lesson tomor-, no, today, but Madam Pomfrey told us that she had already let you go. So we went up to Ravenclaw Tower, thinking that perhaps you had gone to your dormitory to prepare your notes and things, but you weren’t there. Neither were you in the library, the only other place we’d checked, because after that it became quite clear to us that there was obviously only one plausible spot you could’ve possibly disappeared to – the dungeons. After all, I myself had told you to go and talk to Snape, so I should have known that it would be the first thing you’d do as soon as you were released from the hospital wing.” She threw Elizabeth an impatient look. “Now, will you finally tell us what had happened between you two or not?”

Glancing from one ready-to-turn-her-into-some-very-nasty-looking-animal-if-she-didn’t-start-talking-immediately friend to the other, Elizabeth had no choice but to do as she was asked. “All right,” she sighed as she tiredly sank down onto her bed, “but I’ll make it short. Today’s my big day, after all, so unless I want to doze off in the middle of my lesson, I really should get some sleep.” And with that, she started recounting the events of the past few hours, keeping nothing (except for the nature of the things she had seen in the Pensieve) to herself but at the same time trying to avoid going into too much detail.

Hermione and Jane both kept relatively silent as their friend wound her way through her narrative; the only way to tell that they were, in fact, listening attentively being an occasional snicker or a sharp intake of breath issued every time Elizabeth reached the point in her story where she described some of the more cheeky reactions the Potions master had had to deal with from her. However, when she eventually got to the part where she and Snape had come to kiss for the first time, Jane simply couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“You’re kidding!” she cried, looking utterly bewildered. “The evil Potions master ... he ... but ... that’s unbelievable,” she finished somewhat incoherently, regarding Elizabeth with awe.

“Unbelievable?” said Hermione nonchalantly. “Why? He was bound to give in sooner or later; he’s only human, after all.”

“Well, it’s just that sometimes he doesn’t look it,” muttered Jane, still throwing Elizabeth incredulous looks. “If I had to count how many times he’d taken points off Justin and me for even the slightest display of affection... Oh, never mind.” Waving her hand in a dismissive gesture, her expression suddenly became decidedly mischievous. “So, Elizabeth,” she said, grinning from ear to ear, “is he a good kisser?”

Hermione sniggered into her hand.

Elizabeth smiled too, but her smile was rather more of the dreamy kind. “Wonderful,” she replied absently, but quickly snapped out of her reverie and added: “But then again, I wouldn’t really know, now, would I; I’ve never kissed anyone before so obviously I can’t compare. Still, I’d say that even if he were the worst kisser in the world, I wouldn’t really care, because for me it all depends on who is kissing me, and not how. And – for the first time, at least – I was too nervous to notice such things anyway; I thought I’d stuff something up, like I wouldn’t know what to do or, even worse, do it all wrong.”

“But you didn’t, did you?” said Hermione knowingly. “It all came naturally.”

“Well, yes,” confirmed Elizabeth thoughtfully. “I simply released all of the feelings and emotions that have piled up inside me during the past two years, when all I could do was watch him and bitterly dream of what I then thought could never be, and from then on my mind just lost control and gave way to ... I don’t know ... instincts, I suppose. All I could feel was his warm body crushed against mine, and his soft lips gently claiming my own, and ... he still smells of camomile, by the way,” she finished abruptly, before her imaginative mind could supply her with the appropriate mental images. She needed to get to sleep soon, after all.

“Well, I think that was a more detailed description than we had asked for,” remarked Jane, making a disgusted face, “but still, what happened then?”

“We eventually decided that his office wasn’t exactly the nicest place to talk, and so he took me to his private quarters,” said Elizabeth matter-of-factly, sounding as though she had already visited Snape’s rooms a thousand times before. “He’s got something like a lounge there, which – he told me – he uses mainly for receiving visits, so after I had made him actually light a fire for once, since the room was absolutely freezing, we sat down on the sofa and simply enjoyed being together.” She shrugged. “Well, and that’s about it, I’d say.”

“No sex?” inquired Jane, looking disappointed.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Wouldn’t you want a bit too much from him?” she asked waspishly. “Personally I think that getting him to kiss me was more than enough for today. Plus, I’m quite happy with the way things are at the moment.”

“Of course you are,” agreed Hermione. “Really, I think you’re doing just fine.”

“Thanks, Hermione,” said Elizabeth gratefully, throwing a meaningful look in Jane’s direction before adding: “But now, if you two don’t mind, I’d finally like to get some sleep. Good night.”

And, wasting no time, she quickly changed into her nightgown and then eagerly climbed back into her warm bed, falling asleep within moments with the vision of her beloved swimming before her eyes.


“Wake up, Elizabeth, or you’ll be late for breakfast!”

Elizabeth only groaned and rolled over, pulling her covers closer to her chin.

“Elizabeth, your lesson’s starting in just over an hour!” urged a different voice this time, while its owner reached down and firmly shook Elizabeth’s shoulders.

“Five more minutes,” bargained the blond witch as she buried her head deeper into her pillow.

“Snape might be at breakfast,” offered the first voice suggestively.

“Jane, you really are unbearable,” muttered Elizabeth, reluctantly opening first one eye and then the other.

Fifteen minutes later, she could already be seen entering the Great Hall and heading straight for the High table, where she unobtrusively claimed a seat next to her – now former – Potions teacher. Luckily it was the only empty seat there was, because otherwise she would’ve probably considered, so as not to arouse any suspicion, finding a chair next to somebody a little more friendly-looking. Like that plump, middle-aged woman over there, obviously one of the new teachers Dumbledore had recently hired.

As it was, however, she could do nothing but turn her attention towards Snape and cheerfully bid him ‘Good morning’, to which he immediately replied with a curt nod and a scowl. For a short moment, Elizabeth was overcome by a truly disconcerting feeling – that all that had happened last night between her and Snape had been nothing but a beautiful dream, and that now everything would be back to normal. She quickly shook the feeling away. Snape was merely putting up a very convincing act, and the fact that she had managed to squeeze his hand under the table whereas he squeezed right back was all the reassurance she needed. It was a simple gesture, no doubt about that, but at that moment it meant more to Elizabeth than all the kisses of the world.

Breakfast was over much too fast, however, and after Professor Flitwick (‘Filius from now on, Filius!’ Elizabeth mentally corrected herself), as well as a few of the other teachers (excepting Snape, of course), had jovially wished her good luck with her first lesson, Elizabeth hurriedly left the Great Hall in order to get at least slightly prepared. For although her classes had been the last thing on her mind so far, now that there was a little less than half an hour left until the start of her lesson with a group of Gryffindor and Slytherin fifth-years, she was beginning to get increasingly nervous. It was all very well that she was quite comfortable in the theoretical field, but, as Snape had reminded her more than once during their private lessons in the hospital wing, everything else only came with experience. All right, but what if she got killed by an exploding cauldron sooner than she could gain any? What then?

Her mind infested with such (and much worse) thoughts, Elizabeth eventually reached her dormitory and heavily sank down onto her four-poster bed. For a while she just sat there, letting her mind wander, before at last she got up, gathered her notes on the potion she was going to make the fifth-years do today, and went through them one last time. Personally she thought that the potion seemed like a relatively easy one to brew, but what remained to be seen was whether her class would be of the same opinion. After all, Snape had once grudgingly forewarned her that one of the Slytherins – some painful existence called Avesbury – was almost as talented at melting cauldrons as Joshua and Jamie had been, which meant that she would definitely have to keep her eyes open at all times. Although, with her current lack of sleep, she wasn’t quite sure whether she’d manage that.

Time was pressing on, however, and so, even though she’d much rather be doing almost anything else, Elizabeth reluctantly set off for the dungeons, throwing her dormitory one last dejected look before she left.

The students were already loitering about the classroom door when she eventually reached the Potions corridor, many of them regarding her with unconcealed curiosity as she let them inside.

‘They’d better like what they saw,’ thought Elizabeth bitterly as she walked up to the teacher’s desk and then turned around to face the class. It felt decidedly strange standing where she had seen Snape stand and glare at her so many times before, and she briefly wondered whether he had ever felt even half as nervous as she was feeling just then. She seriously doubted it.

Doing her best to pull herself together, however, she inadvertently allowed the class a little more time than was necessary to get settled, and so by the time she was finally ready to begin the lesson, most of the students were already engaged in a not exactly quiet conversation. Well, there was only one way to fix that...

“Silence!” she called, just loudly enough to outvoice the talkers.

To her great delight, the command had had the desired effect: the Gryffindors immediately hushed up and turned to look at her with an air of expectancy. The Slytherins, however, were a different case altogether. No only did they keep on talking, but it almost looked as though they had decided to make a show of pointedly ignoring her.

‘Now what?’ thought Elizabeth desperately. ‘Should I yell at them until I go hoarse, or should I simply resort to... No, I can’t do that. The lesson had barely started, after all; what would they think of me? That I’m some twisted version of Snape who only takes points from Slytherin? Definitely not. But maybe I could try ... yes, why not?’

“Excuse me,” she said sweetly, eyeing the Slytherin section of the classroom with as much contempt as she could possibly muster, “I really do hate to be a bother but it seems to me that some of you have obviously not realized that the lesson had already begun.”

“So what?” interrupted a fat, arrogant-looking boy sitting at the very front of the classroom.

Elizabeth met his gaze with calmness. “So nothing. It’s just that I expect you all to shut up.”

“Professor Snape didn’t mind us talking,” said the boy defiantly, glancing over at the other Slytherins who quickly nodded in agreement.

“Maybe, but, although the fact might have possibly escaped your attention, Professor Snape no longer teaches this class. You have a new teacher now, and your new teacher would appreciate it if you spoke only when called out.”

The boy reacted by simply glaring at her, obviously at a loss of what to do. On the one hand, he didn’t really want to go messing around with a teacher, but on the other, he knew that he would look bad in front of his class mates if he gave in without at least a decent fight. It seemed that he must have eventually come to the conclusion that the second option might perhaps prove even worse than the first one, for his expression slowly changed from sulky to determined as he muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “Make me.”

“I beg your pardon?” asked Elizabeth, just to make sure.

“I said make me,” repeated the boy, looking rather smug as several Slytherins whistled and cheered.

Elizabeth shrugged. “As you wish,” she said slowly, doing her best not to show that what she was going to say next was exactly the thing she had been hoping to avoid. “Would a detention and a deduction of ten points from Slytherin suffice?”

To her enormous relief, this had caused the boy to fall silent at last; all she got in reply was a hateful look, which she pretended not to notice. Instead she turned her attention towards the other Slytherins, who had meanwhile begun a heated discussion largely accompanied by a variety of angry glances in her direction, and menacingly added: “And if I hear one more word from any of you, I will not hesitate to make it more.” The chatter immediately died down, although the glares remained. “Now,” continued Elizabeth, her expression slowly softening as she looked over the whole classroom for once, “as I have already told Mr-” she briefly consulted the parchment bearing the sitting order which Snape had prudently provided her with “-Kensington here, I will be your new Potions teacher from now on. My name, for those of you who don’t know me, is Elizabeth Woodhouse, and I’m sure we’ll all get along splendidly, just as long as you do what you’re told. I really do hate resorting to punishments of any sort, but, as you have just seen, I will most certainly do so if the situation asks for it.”

She looked around once again, happy to see that by now she had almost everyone’s full attention, perhaps even Mr Kensington’s, who was currently busy glaring at his desk but obviously knew only too well what was being said.

“Well,” Elizabeth declared cheerfully, “I think that will do as far as the introduction is concerned; now let’s get down to business. Please open your books on page 158 and read everything about the Dragon Breath Potion; I will ask you a couple of questions concerning the text when you’re finished.”

She watched with satisfaction as the class promptly started flipping through the pages of their textbooks until, at last, everyone had found what they were looking for and immersed themselves in reading. Well, no, not everyone. Mr Kensington’s book was still lying closed on his desk, while its owner had unconcernedly resorted to playing a game of Naughts and Crosses with his neighbour (who, according to Snape’s sitting order, incidentally turned out to be the infamous Mr Avesbury).

Elizabeth couldn’t believe her eyes; the nerve of the boy was simply incredible. How dare he...!? No, she wouldn’t get all worked up about it. She just wouldn’t. She would deal with the matter calmly, and if that meant making Slytherin a hundred or so points poorer, so be it. Yes, it was, of course, true that she had originally come with the resolution that she wouldn’t end up teaching the same way Snape had, seeing that she was quite sure that while she (and perhaps also Hermione) might not have minded his harsh methods, the rest of the Hogwarts students weren’t nearly as tolerant, but maybe there was no other way. She wasn’t being unfair like him, after all ... or at least not yet.

“All right, I think all of you must have read the text at least three times by now,” she called some ten minutes later, allowing herself a small smile as some of the students started at the sudden sound of her voice ringing through the room, “so let’s move on to the questions, shall we? Mr Kensington, what will happen if you add the dragon teeth before you pour in the blood?”

“Me again?” exclaimed the boy, making a face. “But you’ve already spoken to me today, Professor; why don’t you ask somebody else?”

Elizabeth was just about to deliver a suitably sharp reply when the classroom door suddenly opened and a tall figure dressed all in black slipped in, quietly taking a seat at one of the back tables without anybody but the Ravenclaw noticing.

Elizabeth felt her throat tighten. ‘No, no, no!’ she wailed inwardly. ‘Not him! Just when I thought that things couldn’t get much worse, he has to come along and... Now he’s going to see just how badly my teaching’s going, and I’ll bet everything I own that he won’t think too highly of me after that. After all, I have a student who keeps on answering back all the time, kids who are permanently whispering something into each other’s ears, and I don’t even want to think about what he’s going to say when he sees his house losing a batch of points every ten minutes or so. Or when he’ll have to carry one or more of his students up to the hospital wing, simply because I haven’t been able to spot their close-to-explosion cauldrons in time. Which is bound to happen, especially now that he’s sitting there and unconsciously making me even more nervous than I had been to begin with. Why did he come, anyway? Didn’t he realize that it would look suspicious?

‘I’ll ignore him,’ she decided eventually. ‘I’ll do my best to carry on as if he weren’t here. At least he’ll see how his precious Slytherins behave when they’re convinced he’s not around.’

And so, with a great deal of effort, she quickly tore her eyes away from the back table and leisurely resumed her dialogue with dear Mr Kensington, acting as though her momentary silence had been nothing more than a dramatic pause.

“Because I’m interested in what you have to say, Mr Kensington, and not somebody else,” she stated resolutely. “And, for your information, the fact that you have drawn attention towards yourself as soon as the lesson started is purely your problem, definitely not mine.”

Mr Kensington only shot her a dirty look (already about the hundredth one that lesson), but said nothing.

“Well?” demanded Elizabeth testily. “I’m waiting for you to answer my earlier question.”

“What question?”

“The one about the dragon blood and teeth,” Elizabeth ground out.

“Oh ... um ... could you please repeat it?” said Mr Kensington, looking as innocent as a new-born. “I’ve forgotten the exact wording.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes for a moment, as if praying for patience. ‘I will kill him,’ she seethed. ‘I really will.’

In the end, though, she merely repeated her question, causing Mr Kensington’s face to immediately light up with triumph.

“I don’t know,” he said smugly.

Elizabeth, however, looked even smugger. She knew it would come to this all along, after all, only she hoped that it would take slightly less time and vexation.

“Well, of course you don’t,” she drawled, “seeing that you obviously found a game of Naughts and Crosses more interesting than your textbook. Twenty points from Slytherin.”

She could virtually feel Snape glaring daggers at her from the back, but she refused to look his way.

“Twenty?” cried Mr Kensington, incredulity written all over his porky face.

“Well, you did have a partner, didn’t you?” said Elizabeth derisively. “Or do you mean to tell me that you played the game all by yourself?”

Mr Kensington turned a nasty shade of red, but whether it was from anger or embarrassment Elizabeth could only guess. “I will ... I will tell Professor Snape that you’ve been picking on me,” he choked out after several seconds of tense silence.

“Oh, you don’t need to bother,” said Elizabeth with a sweet smile. “I will tell him myself. And I’m sure that when I do, he won’t hesitate to additionally give you one more detention to go with all those points you’ve already lost your house today.”

This time, she simply couldn’t resist throwing a quick glance at her beloved, who looked as though he was about to say something but then thought better of it, having evidently decided to keep the class uninformed of his presence for just a little while longer.

Fortunately, Mr Kensington had unconsciously resolved to follow his example and finally shut up, leaving Elizabeth to continue her questioning without any further complications. In fact, even the second part of the lesson, where the students had finally got round to working on their potions, seemed to be going suspiciously well: nobody – not even Mr Kensington – was talking or hissing instructions into their neighbour’s ear, none of the potions showed any signs of exploding, none of the cauldrons looked as though it was ready to melt ... everything was simply perfect. Almost too much so, one could say.

Elizabeth was standing at the front of the classroom, watching the students with growing satisfaction. Occasionally she would take a short walk among the tables, gaze into various cauldrons and gently inform their owners of the mistakes they had made, however minor they might have been. Something told her that she must have unconsciously picked that habit up from Snape. She had been under his influence for quite a long time, after all.

As the end of the lesson drew near, however, Elizabeth’s enthusiasm slowly gave way to tiredness, which she had, of course, expected, only not so soon. How on earth would she survive until the end of the day when she already felt like dozing off right there and then? Maybe she could sneak up to her dormitory and have a short nap after this lesson was over, seeing as she was quite sure that she had a free period then. And perhaps it would also be a good idea to get her hands on some coffee.

Momentarily absorbed in her musings, she didn’t notice Mr Kensington’s partner, Mr Avesbury, drop the wrong ingredient into his potion until it was far too late. There was no time to run for cover, there was no time to even draw out her wand ... all Elizabeth could do was watch in horror as the potion frothed and hissed ... it was bound to explode any moment now ... considering how fiery it was, it would undoubtedly take several days before any of them would get out of the hospital wing...

Evanesco!”

Dazedly, Elizabeth watched as the contents of Mr Kensington’s cauldron suddenly vanished, leaving behind nothing more than a cloud of thick smoke. But even though she couldn’t see a thing, she knew only too well who was responsible for the timely spell. The rest of the class seemed to have finally noticed him as well, for they were all throwing anxious looks to the back of the classroom and whispering excitedly. All Elizabeth could make out, however, was a tall silhouette pointing a wand at the now empty cauldron innocently standing on the front table. That was, of course, great, but what was a poor teacher to do in a situation like this? If only the silhouette would come over and help her out...

But no: by the time the smoke had finally cleared, Snape was already sitting down again and looking just as bored and impassive as he always did, which meant Elizabeth would have to figure something out on her own. Fine ... so ... would it matter too much if that ‘something’ turned out to be simply copying what she remembered Snape doing in his classes? She could only hope that it wouldn’t, because her brain stubbornly refused to supply her with an alternative solution. And so...

“Mr Avesbury,” she snarled, crossing over to stand right in front of the unfortunate potion spoiler (why only didn’t she watch him more carefully?) and proceeding to stare at him menacingly, “I have a simple little question for you.” She was pleased to observe that the boy was beginning to look increasingly disconcerted. “Where exactly did you go wrong with your potion?”

Mr Avesbury looked at his hands. “I don’t know,” he peeped.

Elizabeth sighed, then briskly turned towards Mr Avesbury’s partner. “Mr Kensington, where did he go wrong?”

“Dunno.”

Elizabeth gave him a fake, pitiful look. “Yes, of course. Why am I not surprised? Not only did you not read the text you were supposed to, but you also failed to pay attention during question time. In fact, I believe that the answer to my present question closely relates to the answer you had been unable to provide me with earlier, Mr Kensington.” She paused for a while, this time indeed only for dramatic effect, before continuing. “You will both write me an essay – three rolls of parchment on the correct brewing procedure of the Dragon Breath Potion, to be handed in next lesson. In addition, Mr Kensington will come here tonight at seven to serve his detention.” Needless to say, the two boys immediately started muttering discontentedly, but Elizabeth forced herself to ignore them. “As for the rest of you – leave your cauldrons where they are; you will finish the potion next lesson. Class dismissed.”

A wave of undescribable relief flooded her as she watched the students fumble with their books and bags before they slowly set off for the door, until, at last, she and Snape were the only remaining occupants of the room. Neither of them looked as though they would move or speak any time soon, however, although Elizabeth silently wished for the exact opposite.

‘Why doesn’t he say something?’ she asked herself frustratedly. ‘Why doesn’t he tell me that I should quit teaching before it’s too late? Why doesn’t he yell at me for ruining his house’s chances of winning the House Championship? Why does he act as if I were invisible?’

Well, it was as clear as daylight that if anybody were to make the first move, it would have to be her. And so, with a deep breath, she eventually left her place by Mr Kensington’s cauldron, crossed the room in several quick strides and then, as casually as possible, took a seat on the edge of Snape’s table. The reaction this act evoked, however, wasn’t nearly as positive as she had hoped it to be: all Snape did was raise one eyebrow, something Elizabeth didn’t find exactly encouraging. In fact, she felt very much as though she had suddenly returned back to her student days, and was, without any chance of changing the outcome of her punishment, senselessly expected to provide a prompt explanation for being caught in a place which was strictly out-of-bounds.

After another minute or two of silence, however, during which she determinedly avoided Snape’s gaze, Elizabeth simply couldn’t stand the tension any longer; she had to get rid of what was on her mind or she’d undoubtedly go crazy. It was all a matter of opening her mouth and...

“I was hopeless, wasn’t I?” she blurted out before she could change her mind.

Snape smirked. “It could have been worse,” he said neutrally.

“No, it couldn’t,” opposed Elizabeth, trying to convince herself that Snape’s disinterested tone existed solely in her imagination. “If you hadn’t shown up and emptied that cauldron, half of the class would be in the hospital wing now.” She gave Snape a curious look. “Why did you come, anyway? I thought you were determined to keep our relationship a secret, or have you already changed your mind?”

“Certainly not,” said Snape dryly. “However, Dumbledore had sought me out shortly after breakfast and asked me to be so kind as to make certain that your first lesson doesn’t cause you any difficulties. Apparently, the man foresaw that a disaster was on the way and-”

“And he was, of course, right, as usual,” finished Elizabeth, before Snape could do so himself. No, there was indeed no point in denying it now – Snape was being deliberately cold to her, which could only mean that she had done something to upset him. And while it didn’t, of course, take a genius to work out just what that something was, since she had suspected that the house point issue would turn out to be a bit of a problem all along, inwardly she had still been hoping that maybe he would actually understand. After all, he constantly took points off other houses as well, didn’t he? But no, she had obviously overestimated him. Apparently, he thought that while he could easily deduct as many points as he wanted, she possessed no right to do the same. Well, if that was the case, then it would probably be a good idea to somehow convince him that such a view was horribly selfish and unfair. Somehow... Oh god, why did he have to make things even more difficult for her than they already were?

“Severus?” she peeped eventually, her voice coming out unusually high and timid.

“Yes?” said Snape, whose voice, on the other hand, sounded cold and unconcerned. Moreover, his dark eyes were regarding Elizabeth with such intensity that she found it difficult to breathe, let alone speak. Wasn’t that the ultimate paradox? She loved him, she had even kissed him, and yet, at times, she was still afraid of him.

“I’m sorry,” was all she managed to force out at first, unwittingly grabbing Snape’s hand for reassurance. To her great surprise, he didn’t pull away.

‘Could that mean that he isn’t half as angry with me as he’s trying to make me believe?’ she mused as she pondered over what to say next. ‘That he knows he ought to be upset but isn’t, and so instead he’s only pretending to be, just to teach me a lesson? Gosh, that sounds silly. And yet... Well, I’ll definitely have to talk to Hermione about it, and see what she thinks. But for now...’

“I know you probably think I’m absolutely horrid for taking all those points from Slytherin,” she resumed pleadingly, gently stroking Snape’s palm with her thumb for added effect, “but I thought that you of all people would understand just how hard it is for a new teacher to gain respect. I promise you that next time I’ll do my best to award your students as many points as I possibly can – be that for correctly answering even the most pathetic of questions or simply just cutting up their slugs the right way, I really don’t care – but even you have to admit that today there was simply nothing to-”

“Yes, I believe you have made your point quite clear, Elizabeth, thank you,” Snape cut in impatiently. “What I fail to understand completely, however, is why deducting house points and handing out detentions still didn’t satisfy you? Did you perhaps think that by undermining my authority you would come to increase your own? Or can you, although I highly doubt it, offer me a different explanation?”

“Undermining your authority?” breathed Elizabeth, completely perplexed. “But I don’t remember-”

“You don’t remember?” repeated Snape scornfully. “Well, let me remind you... Using your own words – directed at Mr Kensington, of course – I believe you said: ‘I will tell Professor Snape myself. And I’m sure that when I do, he won’t hesitate to additionally give you one more detention to go with all those points you’ve already lost your house today.’” He threw Elizabeth a triumphant look. “Surely you remember now?”

“I ... yes,” said Elizabeth faintly, her momentary inability to add more surprisingly induced by Snape’s unintended demonstration of how brilliant his memory really was more than anything else. The man was a genius, that much was certain. “But ... where’s the problem? You would give him detention, wouldn’t you?”

Snape looked at her as if she had just lost her mind. “No, I most certainly would not.”

“Why?” Not a good question, Elizabeth knew, but she couldn’t think of any other way of finding out.

“I thought you might be capable of working that out on your own,” said Snape, looking disappointed, “but I was obviously mistaken.”

Elizabeth felt as if her heart was being torn to pieces; the man sure knew how to hurt her in the most effective manner. No yelling, no reproach, just a simple ‘I was obviously mistaken.’

“A teacher should never vouch or rely on the help of other teachers during classes,” Snape continued, still sounding as though he were saying something painfully obvious, “unless it is something that only the Head of House can deal with. It is a sign of weakness. The students will sense it, of course, and their respect towards the teacher will lessen considerably.”

“That still doesn’t explain why you wouldn’t give Mr Kensington detention,” said Elizabeth meekly, feeling more and more like a five-year-old being lectured on why it is unadvisable to touch a hot stove. “I agree that I have probably lost even the little authority I had had to begin with, but how could I possibly undermine yours just by saying what you had so perfectly quoted here is beyond me. You were there, weren’t you? He would deserve another detention, wouldn’t he?”

“Perhaps,” said Snape non-committally, “but that is beside the point. I rarely give detentions to Slytherin students, so even if Mr Kensington did deserve to receive one, it would look decidedly strange were it to come from me. Either people would think that you have somehow succeeded in making me obey your wishes, which, believe it or not, would undoubtedly cause my authority with the students to decline rather dramatically, or, even worse, they would start speculating about our relationship.” He regarded Elizabeth with a degree of contempt as he added: “Does this suffice to finally help you realize just how foolish your remark had been? Or do I need to continue?”

“No, I understand perfectly,” muttered Elizabeth, desolately staring down at her hands. Yes, she had made a mistake, but couldn’t Snape be just a tad more understanding about it? She was only human, after all. Which, as a by-product, also brought along the ineluctable fact that right now, more than ever, she needed Snape’s support (and a great deal of it, too), rather than contempt. Of course, she couldn’t really expect him to suddenly start whispering words of comfort into her ear, as that would be deeply uncharacteristic of him, not to mention unsettling, but a kiss or two would... No, considering the way he was looking at her, definitely not. Then again, he couldn’t stay angry with her forever, could he? Perhaps if she made an attempt to talk him out of it... Yes, but the problem was that for once she hadn’t the slightest idea of what to say. Everything Snape had taxed her with was only too logical, after all. So ... how about putting in a little more physical contact? If he still hadn’t removed his hand from hers by now, then maybe he wouldn’t object to something a bit more daring, either.

And so, with a mumbled “This table is getting a bit too hard for comfort,” and without waiting for Snape’s consent, she leisurely slid off said table and settled on her lover’s lap.

‘Oh ... well ... not that sitting here is much better,’ she thought with amusement, watching Snape press his lips together and turn away, his pale cheeks tinted with pink. However, whether he was angry because his earlier words had just been somewhat depreciated by his ... actions, or whether he was simply embarrassed, Elizabeth couldn’t tell. Either way, what she did know was that at that particular moment he looked almost ... cute, maybe even handsome, and that it was she who had had such an effect on him, a fact she still couldn’t quite understand although it pleased her to no end. This was, after all, the evil Potions master whom she was referring to, the man whom everybody considered incapable of even a hint of feelings or emotions, and yet, here he was now, looking like a puppy which had peed on the floor and was expecting to be punished. A rare sight indeed, but not exactly what Elizabeth had been hoping to achieve. In fact, she was quite sure that her next step should probably be some kind of attempt at fixing the situation, although at the moment her brain felt hopelessly empty, and therefore not exactly ready to provide ideas. Least of all good ones.

“Severus, look at me,” she said finally, forcing herself to sound firm.

Snape hesitated, but eventually obeyed, his expression so dark that even Lord Voldemort would have thought twice before he’d as much as consider opening his mouth. So much for the puppy look, then.

Elizabeth, however, had already decided to speak her mind, which meant that not even the deadliest of Snape’s glares could possibly put her off. “Severus, I...” she began, but that was as far as she got. Try as she might, she could no longer resist the power of Snape’s mesmerizing gaze, and it didn’t take long before she found herself in its complete entrapment. Thankfully, the silent threat it radiated only a few seconds earlier had already dissipated, and was replaced instead by something that made Elizabeth’s heart beat so wildly it almost burst. And so, although there were at least a thousand things she would have liked to say at that moment, in the end it came down to only one: “I love you,” before she eagerly threw her hands around Snape’s neck and pressed her lips to his. Needless to say, Snape didn’t object at all.

When, at last, the couple broke away, to say that they both looked as though they had acquired an unusually bad case of bed hair would be a severe understatement.

“Perhaps we should take this elsewere,” suggested Snape as soon as he was able to think clearly again, gently pushing Elizabeth off his lap and standing up.

“What, don’t want to get caught snogging in the Potions classroom?” inquired Elizabeth with a mischievous grin. “Personally I think it could be quite interesting to observe the reaction of the unfortunate person who’d come to stumble upon us. Take McGonagall, for example-”

“Don’t call alarm, Elizabeth,” warned Snape as he hastily set off for his quarters, his black (and also somewhat rumpled) robes billowing behind him.

‘Looks like my nap will have to wait,’ thought Elizabeth with a snigger, doing her best to keep up with Snape’s long strides, ‘although I can’t really say it bothers me. After all, what can possibly outdo a healthy dose of morning kisses?’
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