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In Retrospect. by Magical Maeve

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It was pitch dark when she left the castle, the stars obscured by low cloud, and she found herself once again passing through the courtyard that had seen such drama earlier. Flickering lamps now lit the way to the bridge and had circumstance been different she would have found it quite a pleasant walk. There were a few students moving around, although she didn’t know most of them, and then a couple of boys rounded the corner of the main building. Her heart almost stopped as she recognised James first, and then Sirius Black’s brooding face came into view. Sirius’ nose looked perfectly normal, confirming her interpretation of Lily’s note. They were almost upon her before James realised who she was and he gave her a completely unreadable look. She looked beyond him to Sirius and to her utter astonishment Sirius smiled at her.

–All right, Red?” he asked. –Off for an evening assignation.”

She was about to open her mouth when she saw James shaking his head at her.

–Something like that,” she muttered.

–Watch out for bats; lots of them in the grounds. Wouldn’t want them getting tangled in your lovely hair.” And with a smile he punched James on the arm and they were gone.

She watched them enter the castle, shaking her head at Sirius’ odd behaviour. Surely he would have something to say about what she had done to him; surely he wasn’t the type to just let something like that go. She carried on to the bridge, hoping Lily could shed more light on matters.

The place was deserted except for Lily’s solitary figure standing at the midpoint of the wooden structure. The other witch turned and gave a small wave, but there was no smile of greeting there, instead Lily looked grave, as if she was now quite unsure of her new friend.

–Cold,” Maeve observed, rubbing her gloved hands together.

–It is December,” Lily replied, her green eyes sombre.

–I got your note.”


–Okay.” Maeve turned and looked out across the landscape, her eyes blinking into the blind darkness.

–Is there something you want to say?” Lily asked, her tone more like a mother with a troublesome child than someone talking to one of her peers.

–Should there be?” Maeve felt her hackles rise slightly at the implication she had done something seriously wrong.

–Do you know how much magic it took to fix Sirius?” Her voice was a fraction higher, though she was still in control of her emotions.

–Not much. I didn’t hit it with a particularly strong curse. It’s not my fault he’s a bit weak.”

–You shouldn’t have hit it with any curse!” Lily’s hands were on her hips. –Hitting a fellow student with a curse is punishable by expulsion from the school.”

–I guessed as much, but as I haven’t even been given a detention I’m assuming whatever you did fixed more than just his nose.” Maeve could hear creaking and couldn’t decide if it was the bridge or her own shaky moral high ground.
–You’re welcome.” Lily didn’t normally like sarcasm, but faced with Maeve’s seeming lack of remorse she fell back on it like a crutch.

–I didn’t say thank you.”

–Then perhaps you should.”

Maeve gritted her teeth. –Perhaps Sirius should say sorry.”

–If Sirius said sorry to everyone he annoys we’d never hear the end of it. He’s always annoying people, but he’s basically harmless. What on earth did he say to you to make you do that to him anyway?” There was the hint of thawing in her voice.

They were both now leaning over the side of the bridge, talking into the night, their anger at each other evaporating.

–It’s not what he did to me; it’s what he’s doing to Severus Snape.” She pushed stray hair from her face. –It’s more than harmless.”

Lily puffed out some air, as if blowing away the notion that Sirius’s behaviour was anything other than high jinks. –Severus Snape can take care of himself. He has quite the reputation for Dark Arts.”

–He might have a reputation, but he appears to be following the rules better than I am and not using the Dark Arts on anyone else. And no one person can take care of themselves when faced with a group of bullies. I bet James Potter isn’t the only crony following Sirius around. You shouldn’t be so blinded by a bit of charm. I’ve met Sirius’ type before. I don’t like them. Anyone that can tip someone on their head and humiliate them in front of other students is just a nasty bit of work. I’m surprised you’re falling for it. I thought you were cleverer than that.”

Lily didn’t respond immediately; she allowed Maeve’s words to penetrate. The cold was biting harder now, the first flakes of snow dropping from the night sky.

–I like James,” she said eventually. –He’s asked me to Hogsmeade a couple of times. If you like James you have to like Sirius, they kind of come as a pair. Actually, there are four of them in the group, but James and Sirius are inseparable. Severus can be a strange boy sometimes and he really winds Sirius up for some reason. I’m not saying it’s right and I would have tried to stop it too had I been there, but Severus has to fight his own battles. He’s going to be quite a powerful wizard, I think, so he just needs to put Sirius in his place once and for all and then they’ll move on.”

–Or it will get worse,” Maeve said. –Each prank will get worse until someone really gets hurt. Sirius won’t stop if he’s the kind of person you say he is. If Severus hits back it just gives him a reason to go on. Severus probably knows that, which is why he’s being restrained.”

–You talk as if you know Severus. You don’t know any of these people,” Lily argued.

–I’ve seen enough other people.” Maeve looked at her. –What I really don’t understand is why I just saw Sirius and he acted like nothing had happened earlier.”

Lily avoided her gaze. –I might have made him forget what happened. It’s the best way to stop him ruining things for you because there’s no way he would have let it lie. Professor Dumbledore would have expelled you.”

–You used a mind-modifier? Now who’s breaking rules?” Maeve didn’t know whether to be appalled or grateful. –Mind-modification is for Muggles, not wizards.”

–I cleaned him up and made sure he had no recollection of what happened from the point he left Severus in the boat house. James asked me to do it so I did. He actually said he’d never seen a girl look so angry and he was pretty wary of you, but he also said Sirius was behaving like a complete arse. It’s the first time I’ve heard him openly criticise Sirius so he must have been behaving like a prat.”

–He was.” Maeve was grim. –And thank you, for helping me. –

–Was Severus all right?”

–That I don’t know,” she admitted. –He left before I… you know.”

Lily nodded. –He’ll be in the library. It’s Defence Against the Dark Arts in the morning and he always likes to swot up before that particular lesson. You’ll definitely find him there if you hurry. Library closes in half an hour.”

Maeve thought about it for the shortest time and then with another hurried thanks, bolted for the castle.

Madam Pince frowned at her as she entered, her breathless state entirely at odds with the calm of the library, but she ignored the librarian and moved quickly through the stacks. He was at the farthest table hunched over a book, his hair obscuring his face. It felt like a very long time before she was at his side and she could see him stiffen as she approached. She stretched out her arm and was about to touch his shoulder when he turned swiftly to grab her hand before it could land.

–What are you doing,” he hissed, his expression lethal.

–If you continue to fight my attempts to be nice to you I’ll only try harder,” she said, wresting her hand free and perching on the side of the table that he was working at. She reached out her hand again, and something in her face made him allow her to place it on his shoulder as she had originally intended, his eyes watching the fingers warily, as if they might turn into a trap at any moment.

–Did you want something?” he asked.

She hated the flat tone in his voice, her anger at Sirius Black filled with fresh fuel.

–Do you want to take a walk before curfew? I’d like to ask your advice.” She smiled, skating around the events of the afternoon.


–Because I think you’re the cleverest person I’ve met since arriving, and I include some of the professors in that. Perhaps you can teach me how to conduct myself at school without getting expelled?”

His forehead creased into a frown. –What do you mean?”

–Put those books away and I’ll tell you.”

She enjoyed watching him pack his things away; there was a neatness and precision about the whole procedure that she found soothing. Once his quill was cleaned and stowed away along with his books, he stood and pulled his cloak from off the back of the chair before swirling it around his shoulders. He really wasn’t at all unpleasant to look at if you focused on that dark intelligence in his eyes, and the steel in the set of his jaw. Those things pleased Maeve more than a nice hair style and easy charm.

–Where do you want to go?” he asked as he swept ahead of her and out of the library. –It’s only an hour or so until we have to be back in our dorms.”

–You choose,” she said, trotting slightly to keep up with him. –Somewhere quiet.”

They left by the main entrance, Severus taking the path around the school to the back of the Great Hall. It had become much colder and she was regretting the lack of a more substantial outer garment.

–Where exactly are we going?” she asked, hoping the answer wasn’t going to be the lake.

–Vegetable patch at the back of the Great Hall,” he replied.

–Very romantic.” She grinned at his back.

–I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be romantic,” he snarled, stopping so quickly and turning that she cannoned into him and he had to grab her to stop her toppling over.

–Joke,” she said, not minding at all that he had hold of her arms longer than strictly necessary.

–Not funny.” He released her and carried on walking.

–It must take some effort,” she remarked, stepping over a small wall and onto a gravel path. They seemed to be walking towards a solid brick wall.

–What must?” There was definitely a sigh of exasperation accompanying his words.

–Being so prickly all of the time.”

–I am not prickly. I just have a low tolerance level for people.” He reached his hand towards what turned out to be a wooden door set in the wall and turned a giant iron handle. The door swung inwards, allowing entry into a well-tended and immaculately ordered walled garden filled with every type of produce imaginable. Low lights illuminated the walls, giving just enough visibility for them to negotiate their way around the beds. She could smell the wonderful odours of damp leaf mould and soil despite the cold. No snow was allowed to settle here, the paths and beds all cleared of the white stuff.

–This is interesting,” she said, looking at the naked plum trees growing up against the walls and thinking that their branches were splayed out like prisoners on a rack. Maeve made a mental note to stop reading Muggle histories; it was clearly starting to affect her.

–Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” he replied, casting her a long look.

–I wasn’t being sarcastic. This is interesting. I’d like to see it in daylight. I’ll bet there are all kinds of cool ingredients in here that could be borrowed for Potions experiments.”

–Well, yes, there are,” he confirmed, giving her a sudden insight into his spare time activities.

–We’ll have to talk about this afternoon,” she said, coming to a standstill. –If we want to be friends, anyway.”

–It’s nothing for you to worry about. Black and Potter will go away eventually.” She ignored the look of sadness on his face. –And who said I wanted to be friends?”

–You’re here, aren’t you? Anyway, I wasn’t talking about Black and Potter. I was talking about you pulling out your wand and pointing it at me.”

–You pointed yours first,” he retorted.

–To help you, Severus, not hurt you. I thought your reaction was pretty extreme considering.”

He rammed his hands in the pockets of his robes and looked mutinous. His eyes had a way of shuttering themselves when he needed to think, and with Maeve watching him in expectation he really needed to think quite badly.

Pulling his wand had been an instinctive reaction to several years of having to defend himself against the select group of Gryffindors known rather fatuously as the Marauders. He usually managed to deflect the worst of their so-called pranks, but occasionally, and today had been one of those occasions, he wasn’t quick enough. What really irked him was they never did anything too serious, or inflicted damage that would be either noticeable or lasting. He was between the rock of embarrassment and the hard place of being labelled a tell-tale if he went to the teachers. Not that he ever would go to the teachers; that would just be humiliation on top of humiliation, especially in the fifth year. He rubbed the bridge of his nose with his fingertips as he willed inspiration to come and explain away why he had pulled his wand in anger on this pretty, charming witch who hadn’t spoken to more than a handful of times.

–I can literally feel myself aging,” she said, her arms folded in a hurry-up attitude.

–I was waiting for you to do something undesirable to me,” he replied, hearing the weakness of his excuse even before it had passed his lips.

She blushed a little as she suddenly understood his reaction, feeling stupid for not realising it sooner. Any wand pointed at Severus probably wasn’t usually done in friendship. For the briefest of moments he had assumed she was just another student trying to taunt him.

–Sorry,” she said, chastened. –I didn’t think. I should have told you what I was doing.” She disarmed him by taking his hand and holding it, as if it was a normal thing to do, as if they really were friends.

–Are all the Irish witches so forward,” he asked to cover his confusion.

–No, I don’t think so. I don’t know what it is about you. I suppose that’s the thing with people, isn’t it, you can never know what it is that makes you like one person and loathe another. My gran had a saying that the heart will have what the heart will have and the head can go hang. I think she would probably think this was one of those situations.”

–Your grandmother sounds like quite a wise person.” He normally dismissed silly sayings as the sign of a feeble mind, but he actually quite like that one, it did, after all, end in a hanging, something he would quite like to have done to Sirius Black.

–She’s a bit bonkers, if I’m honest. Cleverest person I know, but slightly batty.”

–It must run in the family,” he said with a deadpan face.

She raised an eyebrow and peered at him closely. –Did you just make a joke, Severus Snape? I do believe you did.”

–I don’t joke,” he replied, but this time there was a ghost of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

–Ha!” she said, and punched him lightly on the arm with her free hand. Neither of them had noticed they were still attached by the other one. –I have found your weak spot. You do have a sense of humour.”

–We should head back soon,” he said, a little disturbed by the sudden intimacy. –What did you actually want to speak to me about? You said something about being expelled.”

–Ah. That. Yes.” Now that they were alone her reaction to Sirius suddenly didn’t seem quite so clever or her request for advice to not get expelled quite so funny. Now that he was standing there with his piercing black eyes looking right into her she felt the first twinge of regret at hurting Sirius; as if she had somehow failed Severus by doing so. –There was a thing, after you left.”

–A thing?” he asked, looking even sharper, though she wouldn’t have thought that possible. With an inner smile she realised he would make a very good teacher, or at least a teacher good at sniffing out misdemeanours.

–Sirius was being a creep, so I hit him with a small spell.”

–What sort of small spell.”

She was waiting for him to let go of her hand the further she progressed down the story, but he was still holding it, just.

–One from the Sanguine family; the Damnum one.” Her voice was tiny; as if the quieter she spoke the better it would sound.

–That’s not a spell, Maeve, that’s quite an advanced curse.” He looked at her in amazement, and it wasn’t her imagination; he was definitely holding her hand tighter. –I almost don’t want to ask which bit of him you used it on.”

–His nose,” she admitted.

–You gave Sirius Black a bloody nose using an advanced curse. – He laughed, a full blown laugh that she thought was the best thing she had heard since arriving at her new school. –What are you still doing here? You must have nine lives.”

–I have Lily Evans,” she said, and told him the full story.

He shook his head at her, at both her and Lily really. He had spent his school career not practising all the spells and curses that he shouldn’t know but did, and here were these two, flouting every rule there was about using magic on a fellow student. He’d clearly underestimated the Evans girl too, if she could pull that off on a wizard like Black.

–Promise me that you will never, ever use a curse on a fellow student again as long as you are here. I’m only just starting to like you so I don’t want you expelled just yet.” He was deadly serious, she realised, and he was now holding her hand very tightly indeed; she had almost lost all feeling in it.

–I promise,” she said. –What about a minor charm?”

–Maeve, please,” he said, –don’t. Do what I do and ignore him, not that he’ll come after you again anyway if he can’t remember earlier. –

–He might if I hang about with you, which I intend to do, by the way.” She had to remove her hand; her fingers were going numb. Linking her arm through his, which involved some complicated cloak manoeuvres, she reminded him of the time. They hurried from the vegetable garden together, matching each other’s’ stride perfectly. It was five to eight when they ran up the steps to the school, and one minute past when they both entered their respective common rooms, breathless but happy.