Chapter Six // Curiosity Killed the Cat
Palma de Animus // Chapter Six - Curiosity Killed the Cat
A/N: Heh. It's almost been a year since my last update. Whoops. Funny story though, I was in the shower the other day, and my mind just drifted towards this story and started writing up this chapter for me. In all honesty, I haven't written anything of any fictitious capacity since my last update. My creative writing class was over, and truthfully, however much one slacks during first year university, one will still never have the time to sit down and write. (Especially when one becomes endowed with boyfriend, whiny roommate with daily dramas, and flailing GPA.) But I said I liked this story, and I stick by it. I really do like this story, and I want to see it go somewhere. So if you'll stick with me and my wildly sporadic updates, I'd like to tell you this story.
"Did you hear?" Hermione asked breathlessly as she slid into her seat at breakfast. "Dumbledore has made Defence Against the Dark Arts a mandatory course for all students!"
Harry blinked at her for a moment when Ron burst out into a yawn and reached for a piece of toast. "Only you would get worked up about a curriculum change, 'ermonee," he said, his last words muffled as he swallowed the bit in his mouth. "Really, no need to be so excited on the first day of classes."
Hermione responded with a "Tsk" and brushed away the crumbs he'd sprayed in her direction. "Some of us care about our education, Ron. But more importantly -- "
"This means they want Buffy's here for student safety?" Harry asked incredulously. "I thought -- "
"Yes," Hermione interrupted impatiently, "I had my suspicions that she was here to keep an eye on you too, but apparently that extends to the entire school. As I was saying, Dumbledore must /really/ trust her, if he's making her class mandatory."
Before either of the boys could respond, Professor McGonagall clinked her spoon against her glass at the Head Table and stood up. Neither Dumbledore nor Buffy were at the table, though no other professor seemed to notice. She, on the other hand, looked positively haggard and tired; her bun was tighter than usual, and her pursed lips even more so. When the Great Hall quieted down, she spoke. "When you receive your timetables today, returning students will notice a change to their schedules that they may not find suiting to their tastes. As some of you may know, Defense Against the Dark Arts has become a mandatory course for all years." McGonagall raised her voice over the low muttering that had started from the Slytherin table. "Let it be known now that these schedules will not," she emphasized, "not be changed under any circumstances. It is in your best interests." The stern look on her face stifled any would-be complaints.
"What do you think she means?" Ron asked, as the noise in the Great Hall slowly returned to its previous level.
"We'll find out soon enough, won't we?" Hermione nodded to the prefect (Dean Thomas, to everyone's surprise) who had begun handing out schedules at the end of the table. The noise in the Great Hall rose with each sheaf of paper that was handed out. As they waited for their timetables, they could make out some of the mumblings that surrounded them.
"That's ridiculous!' "
"Fantastic! Class with the Ravenclaws; maybe I can get me some homework help!"
"Wonder what your father will have to say about this, Malfoy." The trio looked up at the snickering Slytherin table, where Draco Malfoy merely slung his bookbag over his shoulder and walked out of the dining hall, stone-faced.
Just as they began to speculate over the incident, they received their schedules. Ron received his first. "Bloody hell! A full morning of DADA with /all/ the houses? Has Dumbledore gone mad?"
Hermione grabbed her schedule out of Dean's hand to verify what Ron had said. Looking at the paper, she shook her head. "All the sixth years, every Friday morning. There's no way Buffy can manage all four houses at once."
"Better than the seventh years," came Dean's quick response before he continued down the table. "They've got it Saturday morning."
"I guess Dumbledore really does trust her," Harry said slowly, looking up from his schedule. "But there must be some mistake -- " he laid his schedule out on the table for the other two to see. "They've put me in for Potions before dinner. I haven't enough OWLs to take it, though."
"Hang on." Ron leaned closer to the paper and pointed at the block of time Harry had Potions in. "D'you see that?"
Underneath the boldly scripted word, 'Potions', there was no name of the professor teaching the course, like all the other courses had. Instead, there was a faint flickering of green ink that hadn't been there before.
"Professor Snape's name!" Hermione whispered in shock. "Does that mean --"
'Professor Severus Snape' inked itself into the parchment stubbornly for the briefest of seconds, and then blinked out completely.
"I think that means Snape is no longer teaching Potions," Harry finished.
"I am Potions Master of Hogwarts, Albus! It is my job to teach those horrible children!" There was a note of desperation amidst the bold obstinancy of Snape's voice. His voice, however, was not very imposing, as it was still hoarse and weak. It corresponded well to the rest of him; he was currently lying on a bed in the Council's headquarters, almost entirely bandaged up and reeking of ointments and potions. The bits of skin that peeked out of the swaths of bandages were purpled and bruised, and one of his eyes was so swollen that he could not open it, despite the best of his effort.
"You are in no condition to teach, Severus," Dumbledore responded gently. "Nor is it wise to have you walking about the school when all of Voldemort's forces believe you are dead."
"So you hide me instead? Lock me away like some rabid murderer in Azkaban? I will not let myself be put under house arrest like some dog!" Snape spat with all the viciousness he could manage.
"But we'd feed you and play with you and walk you every day," Buffy piped up, clearly bored with the patient's temper tantrum.
"And maybe, if you're a good boy, we'll even let you help us do some oh-so-fun research!" Xander added, his good eye shining with amusement.
Dumbledore's own eyes mirrored some of the same mirth. "Then it's settled. You will be lovingly cared for under the watch of Ms. Summers' family, and we will temporarily replace your position at the school -- by someone even you will deem competent, Severus." He spoke before Snape could even open his mouth to reply. "Now, if you'll excuse me, Severus, Ms. Summers and I have some impressionable young minds to brainwash." He nodded his wizard-capped head at Buffy's friends. "Mr. Giles, Mr. Harris, young Ms. Summers." With that, he took Buffy's hand and apparated them out of the building.
"Wow, he sure knows how to make an exit," Dawn noted, still giddy from meeting 'ohmygod Gandalf!' She paid no attention to the fact that Snape looked like he was ready to kill her.
Giles, however, did. Cleaning his glasses feverishly, he stuttered, "Ah, Dawn, perhaps - perhaps you can help me with this, ah, translation I need help with." Glasses in one hand, Dawn in the other, he pulled her out of the room.
Xander snickered. "Guess it's just you and me, buddy."
"I do not need to be watched like a child," Snape sneered.
"We have ourselves a pouter!" Xander got off his chair and proceeded to pour himself a glass of water. "On the contrary, Mr. Sulky, you do, if you don't mind me saying so." He knew fully well that his companion would, indeed, mind. "If you could escape from the Big Bad being as dead as you were, you're even more capable of escapage now that you've healed some. But it's important to look deeper than the surface of things, because if you look, you'll see that clearly, we do trust you some. Instead of having someone with two eyes watch over you, there's only one eye on you. That's half of what it could be, you'll notice."
Snape could've sworn that the other man had just winked at him, but seeing as only one eye was exposed, it was entirely possible that he'd merely blinked. Either way, he was disturbed. Never had he met a man so bloody cheerful about a lost eye, and this man was no Alastor Moody. Since he'd met Xander, the miniscule iota of him that wasn't bitter and angry had been itching with curiosity about how this mere muggle had lost his eye. Muggles being simple creatures as they were, he simply could not fathom what could be so dangerous as to poke out an eye. He would not, however, deign himself to ask.
Snape appeased the nagging scientific curiosity in his head by allowing himself to take a look at the muggle. He was now flipping through some glossy magazine titled 'Maxim'. The first time they'd met, Xander was wearing a black eye-patch. Today, it was beige plaid. Idly, Snape wondered what it looked like under that eye-patch.
But he would not ask.
More time passed. The annoying chit from before, Dawn, had returned briefly to give Xander a heavy, dusty-looking tome with a few whispered instructions. Before leaving, she snatched the 'Maxim' out of his hands. Pity. The woman on the cover had been rather good looking for a muggle.
He had not taken this man to be the diligent type, so Snape was surprised when he realised that Xander did not stray from his task with the book. He was even more surprised when Xander closed the book gently, careful of its age. The last person he'd seen take such care with books aside from himself and Dumbledore was Madame Pince.
"Ready for some lunch?"
Snape couldn't stand it any longer. His first prolonged contact with muggles, and he was already brimming with questions. There was so much about them that conflicted with what his mind had written in stone. They didn't, in fact, live in poorly hand-crafted log buildings. Their method of written communication wasn't through chipped stone tablets. Perhaps he should have taken Muggle Studies when he was a student Hogwarts. The same scientific mind that elevated him to Potions was now betraying him.
"How - " Snape bit out begrudgingly, "What could a muggle like you have possibly experienced to lose an eye like that?"
Snape¡¦s frustration being intense enough to be felt from across the room, Xander grinned. ¡§Curiosity killed the cat, you know.¡¨
Comments please! I promise I'll walk them and feed them and play with them every day. (I also promise another chapter within a month's time.)