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The Courtship of Severus Snape

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This story is No. 3 in the series "The Reinvention of Draco Malfoy". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Follow Jocey Malfoy as she decides to pursue her own destiny, in spite of him, and everyone else.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Joyce-CenteredEllandrahSylverFR18630,1781317,2464 Dec 116 Nov 13No

A Summer to Remember, Part I

A Summer to Remember, Part I

Disclaimer: HP and BtVS verses are the exclusive property of their copyright holders. I'm just playing with them.

A/N: As the title indicates, this is the first of a multipart set, covering the summer after Jocelyn's fifth year. This was sparked by an off the cuff comment by Joyce in a recent chapter of Fool's Consequences.

Warning: Contains allusions to significantly underage sexual behavior.

My thanks to vidicon both for his contributions, and for his beta work. He continues to be a source of inspiration for me.

Also, thanks to my reviewers, and to Wolfkin for the rec. I adore you all. ^_^

Feedback: bunny food and oxygen for the muses...

On to the story...



Jocey was excited. Her parents had informed her that Severus was going to be spending the summer with them at Malboral. They’d made a special visit to Hogwarts just after her birthday to give her the news. She was sixteen, and just finishing her fifth year at school. Sev had been Owled by Nicholas Flamel about an apprenticeship, but he wouldn’t be leaving to do that until mid August.

Practically bouncing with glee, Jocey packed her trunk and hurried down the stairs to the common room. She met Lily Evans near the portrait hole. Her friend laughed at her, and asked, “Where’s the fire, Jocey?”

“Oh Lily! There’s no fire, I’m just so excited! Sev’s going to be spending the whole summer with Mum and Dad and me at Malboral. Mum and Dad are usually so busy in the summertime that I’m going to have him all to myself for most of the holiday!”

Lily grinned. “You’re going to have him, are you?”

Jocey smirked. “You bet your buttons, Lil. First chance I get.”

“About time. The two of you were giving ME headaches with all the mooning about.”

Jocey whirled, emitting a startled yip of surprise before squealing, “Remus! Don’t sneak up on me like that!” She wrinkled her nose, “And only you could get away with a pun like that. ‘Mooning about’. Honestly! Your best mates are rubbing off on your sense of humour.”

“Sorry,” he replied, clearly entirely unrepentant.

Rolling her eyes, Jocey turned back to Lily. “So what about you? What grand plans do you and James have for this summer?”

Lily smiled. “Well, he’s talked me into taking a tour of the Continent, for a couple of months. But of course I have to be back in time to start my apprenticeship. And James is planning on going into Auror training. I think. He’s been a little vague about that.”

Jocey grinned. “If you’re touring the Continent, make sure you take the time to visit my Bonne Maman. She lives in the south of France and you know she likes you.”

Lily shrugged noncommittally. “Maybe. It depends on what James has in mind. He’s planning the whole thing, since he’s paying for it.”

Jocey gave her a fierce glare, propping her fists on her hips. “Don’t you dare let him run you over just because you finally agreed to let him try to court you. That big-headed prat needs to remember who he’s dealing with. You tell him he’d better make time to visit with Bonne Maman, or I will tell her that you’re wandering about the Continent unchaperoned and she’ll find YOU.”

Lily raised her hands in surrender. “Alright, alright. I’ll make sure James knows we have to stop and visit with Dame Hélène.”

Jocey smirked. “Good. What about you, Remus? Any big plans we should know about? Any beautiful girls you plan to sweep off their feet with your quietly dashing charm?”

Remus rolled his eyes. “No to my knowledge, no. I’m going to spend the summer with my parents, and do a bit of travelling. They’re convinced that they can find a cure for my... issues. We’re going to Asia this year.”

Jocey winced. “Ouch. Sorry, Remus. I wish they’d just accept you, and learn to live with the fact that you are who you are. You’re my friend, and I really wish I could help you. If you ever need anything, you Owl me straight away. Promise?”

Remus smiled. “I promise. And thank you, Jocey. You’re a sweetheart. If you weren’t dead gone on Sev, I might ask YOU to be my girl.”

Jocey blushed. “That’s sweet, Remus. Thank you. Now, are we all ready to go? Mum and Dad said they were sending a coach for Sev and me, and I want to see you two off on the train first.”

“Will Sev be joining us?”

“Of course.”

“Lovely. I’ll get the chance to hug him goodbye.”

Jocey snickered. “And then spend the entire train ride back getting molested by a jealous James.”

“Of course,” Lily replied, deadpan. The three of them burst into gales of laughter as they left Gryffindor Tower, headed for their last meal of the school year.

*****

Jocey hid her smirk as she watched James Potter’s face while Lily hugged the stuffing out of Sev. The bespectacled boy was flushed, and grinding his teeth in jealous fury. The moment Lily let Sev go, Jocey put her hand on his arm, and smiled sweetly at James. “Enjoy your summer, Bambi. We’ll expect Lily back safely in time for her to begin apprenticing under Master Flamel.” James fumed, but didn’t respond to her baiting. Jocey had started calling him by the infuriating Muggle nickname after Lily had convinced Lord and Lady Malfoy to allow her to take Jocey to a Muggle cinema to see a double feature of children’s films. The first had been Bambi, and the second, a brand new (at the time) film, called The Aristocats. Of course, because Remus and Severus had gone along, James had decided to crash, and Jocey had been calling him ‘Bambi’ ever since.

Earlier in the schoolyear, Jocey had caught wind of a scheme that very nearly had her angry enough to crush the life out of Sirius Black. The only reason James Potter escaped the bulk of her ire is because he actually made the effort to stop what would have become a tragedy without intervention. Although Lily, Severus, and Jocelyn all knew what Remus was, none of them had ever found out where the Headmaster put him during the full moons. They had assumed it was somewhere safely locked up in the castle. Their assumptions almost got Severus killed.

Jocey didn’t hear about the ‘accidental’ misdirection of Severus until he was already in the tunnel underneath the Whomping Willow, and then she only learned of their perfidy when Lily attacked James for it. Jocey gave both boys an icy glare and informed them that if Severus came to harm, she’d kill them both. Black laughed. James Potter believed her. He told her where the secret entrance was located, then stared in astonishment as she ignored his presence in favour of shifting into her Animagus form and diving into the House Elf tunnels.

Black’s girlish scream would have been amusing if she wasn’t terrified out of her mind for her intended. When she reached the grounds, she was met by a large stag, with a rat clinging to its antlers. The rat squealed in fright, but had no choice when the stag dropped it and nosed it toward the knot that stilled the great tree. The great stag went thundering through the opening under the tree, followed closely by the racing serpent. When they reached the end of the tunnel, Jocey’s sense of smell told her exactly where they were. The Shrieking Shack, just outside Hogsmeade.

Severus’ scent was very close as well, and she followed it. When she arrived in the room where the males were, she saw James fending off Remus, who had Severus trapped on the far side of the room. Severus, wisely, was flattened to the wall, behind a barrier spell. Jocey dove for Remus, wrapping him in her coils and taking him to the floor so that he couldn’t move. With a glare, as cold as only a snake can make, she indicated that she expected James to get Severus out safely while she restrained the violently struggling werewolf. Almost diffidently, the stag approached the very human Wizard, and angled his head, pointing his antlers first at Severus, then at the door.

With a glance at Jocey, wound around Remus, Severus dropped his shield and walked imperturbably toward the door. As he passed, Remus snarled in his direction, and he shook his head. Sighing, he said softly, “I expect to see you back in the castle within the hour.” Then, he walked out, followed by an abashed looking stag.

With the human smell gone, Remus’ struggles quickly subsided, and Jocey relaxed, freeing him from her coils. He nosed her, curious, and she ran the side of her head along his neck... her best attempt at a gentle hug without arms. He returned the gesture, and she looked him in the eyes for a long moment, before butting him gently with her blunt head, and turning to slither out of the house. He made to follow her and she turned, fast, and butted him harder, in a clear signal to stay put. He made a peculiar whuffling sound, and flopped down on a piece of furniture, watching like a forlorn puppy as she left.

When she’d cleared the tree, and made her way back to the castle, she shifted out of her snake form, and staggered slightly, clutching her bleeding shoulder. Watching for her from the great doors, Severus shouted, ”Jocey!” and ran to sweep her into his arms.

“You’re safe,” she breathed, and passed out.

When she came to, she was in the infirmary, with a bandage on her shoulder, and her parents frowning down at her. Severus was sitting worriedly in a chair beside her bed, and Madame Pomfrey was checking her over with her wand. Remus was resting in the next bed over, and three chastised looking ‘Marauders’ were standing back, looking as though they’d rather be facing off with Grindelwald without their wands than be in the Hogwarts hospital wing just then. A brief discussion was had, and ended with her father leaving the school to register Jocelyn’s Animagus status with the Ministry of Magic. After putting a flea in the ear of three boys who had seriously endangered his daughter, and who only got off that lightly because Jocelyn was NOT infected by Remus the night before. Jocey thought they looked more afraid of her than her dad, when they left, however.

Black avoided Jocelyn entirely after that, but James Potter actively sought to make amends, and Pettigrew followed his leader – Potter. Because James owned his actions, and tried to make things right, he earned a measure of Jocey’s respect, and an olive branch was extended when Severus agreed to attempt to make peace for Jocey and Lily’s sake. James’ willingness to take responsibility for his own actions was the key to Lily’s acceptance of his pursuit of her, and they began seeing one another, although James was still terribly jealous any time Severus touched Lily.

Hence Jocey’s current amusement at the hazel-eyed boy’s expense. Lily knew full well how he reacted to her friendship with Severus. They might have buried the hatchet, so to speak, but James was terribly possessive, and Lily knew it... and used it to her advantage. Because it amused Severus, he didn’t object to being James Potter’s ‘bark collar’, as it were.

When the whistle blew on the Hogwarts express, Jocey pounced on Lily, hugging her fiercely and whispering, “Go get him, Lil. I’ll see you in August.”

Lily grinned. “Enjoy your trip to Malboral, Jocey. You’ve been waiting long enough for it.”

Then, the train was pulling away, and Lily was hauled onto the last car by James, and they were gone.

Severus and Jocey walked to the castle alone, enjoying the warm early summer day and each other’s company. The Malfoy carriage that met them was not one of the big, heavily curtained winter coaches, but an airy, open Phaeton. Romantic, yes. Private, not at all. The driver tipped his hat to the couple, and flicked his whip the moment they were settled. Jocey gave Severus a wry smile. He returned it. Neither of them was fooled by the last minute change of conveyance. Lord Malfoy obviously didn’t want his daughter getting up to anything... improper... during the ride home for the summer.

*****

Severus watched the gates in the wall surrounding Malboral swing open with awe. He’d been to the property once before, of course, but had been inside an enclosed coach, with Lucius, Jocey, and their parents. Today, he received the full effect of the massive family seat, and was duly impressed, though not intimidated or embarrassed to be there. His reaction differed from the acute discomfort he’d felt at the Malfoy family Christmas, because he’d eventually accepted that Jocelyn Malfoy did, in fact, want him for no other reason than himself. He’d spent enough time with her and her family in the intervening year and a half that he was becoming accustomed to their highly visible lives, and while he occasionally still felt like a crow beside a phoenix, he knew he’d stay beside Jocelyn until the day he died. And probably wouldn’t last long should she die before him.

Jocey elbowed Severus in the side, snapping him out of his staring as they passed through the open gates and into the huge estate. Here and there, tenant farmers raised their hands in greeting, and Jocey waved back at them. The carriage drew up in front of the house, and the couple alighted, walking sedately toward the Lord and Lady of the Keep, who were waiting on the great wide stair to the front door.

When they reached her parents, Jocey smirked at her father. “A Phaeton, Dad? Really?”

Abraxas grinned guilelessly. “I thought you would enjoy the fresh air on the way.”

“Sure, Dad. And there’s just not enough fresh air in a coach with no panes in the windows. Of course.”

Ermingard coughed softly. “Perhaps you might show Severus the grounds while your things are attended to by Dobby?”

Jocey smiled. “That’s a brilliant idea, Mum. He hasn’t been here since last year, and there wasn’t enough time to show him everything then.”

“Off you go, then. Supper is at seven.”

As Jocey hauled Severus off to explore, she heard her mother say to her father, “Abraxas, if I might have a word?” and found herself grateful that she wasn’t the focus of that particular tone.

They were nearly thirty feet from the Keep when she asked, “What would you like to see first? There’s the Quidditch pitch, the lake, the game preserve... or we could visit some of Dad’s tenants. They’ve always got interesting stories to tell, especially if we’re willing to lend a hand for awhile.”

Severus blinked, asking without thought, “You do farm work?”

Jocey raised an eyebrow. “Of course I do. So do Luce, and Mum and Dad, when they have time. These people are OURS to protect and look after. We’d be pretty poor patrons of the people if we didn’t know anything about them.” She angled her steps toward the wide, well-maintained footpath that led around the periphery of the family’s private grounds, skirting the tenant farms.

Severus blinked. He’d never heard of the relationship between the nobles and the people put like that before. She made it seem like a privilege and an obligation to be a noble. He asked about it, and her response surprised him more. “Jocey, you speak as one who cares deeply for her people, which I respect, but isn’t it a little unusual? I mean, Black’s a noble, and he treats everyone like scum. Potter is little better, and I haven’t met more than a few who are any different.”

Jocey was silent for a long moment, and Severus was actually afraid he’d offended her, before she responded. “No government is perfect, Severus, but every government has the same underlying purpose. To provide protection and leadership for the governed. When the people in authority forget that, you see bourgeois aristocracies emerge. It doesn’t really matter what the structure of the government is, in those cases, the few with wealth rule over everyone else, and simply take, because they believe it is their right. It’s when the wealthy and powerful remember that they owe their wealth and power to their people that you find proper governance. When people like my father take the time to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their people, earn their trust and respect, and respect them in return, you have peace.

“Father says that’s what’s wrong with the Twelve Kings. They’ve been entitled to their crowns for so long that they forgot what they mean. The Council was formed to protect our people from extinction at the hands of the waves of Muggle conquerors... first Rome, then the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, and so on. The Kings were leaders, warlords really, who could and did protect and safeguard our people from the invaders over and over again, but this land has been settled and static in its leadership and succession for centuries now, and the role of the Kings has become a sort of static body that holds the power to rewrite all our laws at once, should they see fit to do so. Of course, in order to do that, all Twelve have to meet in Council, and come to a consensus about whether they WANT to destroy and rebuild our entire government, which is what keeps them from doing it on a whim, and more often when they’re called to Council, they make minor changes, and leave the basic structure mostly intact. But because they’re ‘Kings’ in the ancient definition, some of them think they can take whatever... and whoever... they want. Father taught Luce and me to treat our people with respect and care, because without them, we would have nothing. It’s an honour to lead people, and should be repaid with honour.”

Severus thought about what she’d said. Then, his brow furrowed. “But I thought that the Founders were from four of the Ruling Houses? Aren’t their lines dead?”

Jocey shrugged. “People assume they are, but there was a full Council a little over a century ago, so I suppose they’re probably still around, just not prominent families. That happens sometimes, especially if there aren’t any male heirs born for a few generations.”

He nodded. “That makes a certain sort of sense, I suppose. Jocelyn, how do you know so much about the Twelve Houses?”

She laughed softly. “Well, for one thing, both my parents have Royal lines in their pedigrees. Then too, I’ve been... pursued... by a King, and an Heir.”

“An Heir?” he asked, surprised.

Jocey nodded. “Before I set my cap for you, a certain Heir we both know tried to catch my eye. Of course, the fact that I SAW him being an obnoxious prat and a bully practically every day, to everyone but me, rather clued me in that he was not the man I wanted to marry, and likely never would be.”

Severus stopped in his tracks. “Black tried to court you?”

She smirked. “Made a complete hash of it, too. Arrogant git. He thought that just because his dad is one of my dad’s best mates, that he could just strut in and snap me up. Never mind that I loathed him for being a jackass, or that my Father had already warned off one self-centred Royal who thought they could simply claim me. I’m no man’s property. You’ve never treated me with anything less than respect, and that’s one of the many things I love about you, Sev.”

Severus quirked an eyebrow at her. “Are you trying to divert me from the subject of Black trying to court you?”

“Yes. It happened toward the end of my third year, not long before the day when he and Potter learned that you actually did have friends, so it doesn’t matter now. He never tried to do anything more than posture, strut, and brag, so it doesn’t make a lick of difference. He’s a poor loser, and a spoilt brat, but he’s not our concern, alright?” Jocey smiled up at him, her arm wound through his. “This is our holiday, Sev. Let’s make a pact not to bring up any of those boys again, alright?”

He smirked. “Not even Lupin?”

She pouted. “Of course not. Remus is my friend, and yours too, if you’d let him be. I meant Potter, Black, and Pettigrew, of course.”

“If you wish to avoid speaking of them, then we will. I reserve the right to curse Black with something nasty should I see him at any point during the summer, however.”

Pursing her lips, Jocey drawled, “How sweet. You’ll defend my honour, when it hasn’t been slighted.” Then, she smirked. “Just don’t get caught by my Father if you do curse Black. Having to explain to Orion that his son has some new disfigurement because you were avenging my honour might be rather difficult to manage without any proof that he did something... not to mention the fact that my parents know I can defend myself quite adequately, thank you.”

Severus sighed. “Must you spoil my fun, Jocelyn?”

Jocey laughed. “I’m not spoiling your fun, Sev. This summer, we’re making our own fun. That’s why my mother is no doubt tearing into my father right this minute for his meddling. Because I have a surprise for you. Come, you didn’t tell me what you wanted to do, so I think I want to go swimming.” Grinning impishly, Jocey seized his arm and led him toward the lake.

*****

Jocelyn was correct; her mother was indeed tearing into her father, with the full fury of an offended mother. She’d begun politely enough.

As the young witch and her wizard walked away, Ermingard looked at her husband, a serene smile on her face, and steel in her blue eyes. “Abraxas, if I might have a word?”

Abraxas Malfoy studied his wife, familiar with that tone. “You’re angry with me. Let’s retire to the conservatory to discuss it.”

Ermingard’s eyes narrowed a tiny fraction. Her husband knew that the conservatory was her favourite room in the somewhat austere Keep, and he was hoping to dim her ire by having their discussion there. She smiled slightly as she replied, “Yes, do let’s. I want to see how my Angel’s Kiss cuttings have fared over the winter.”

Abraxas frowned. “Ermingard, you have no need of Angel’s Kiss. Why are you cultivating it?”

She smirked. “It’s not for me, Abrax. It’s for Jocelyn. She might be planning to marry Severus in a few years, but I rather doubt she wishes to move that date up due to preventable circumstances.”

His frown turning to a scowl, Abraxas declared, “If that boy causes it to become necessary for Jocelyn to use Angel’s Kiss, I’ll have him taken to the dungeons and flogged within an inch of his life.”

Ermingard stopped in her tracks, and crossed her arms. “You will do no such thing.”

Her husband halted, and turned to face her, standing rigid and straight, and giving a thunderous scowl. “Ermy, she's our little girl! She's too young!”

Ermingard resisted the urge to stamp her foot, and settled for pinning him with a frigid glare. “Abraxas! She's sixteen years old, and she's a Malfoy. How long has Lucius been sexually active?”

Abraxas shifted his stance, slightly, suddenly defensive. “Since about the time he turned fifteen.”

Ermingard pressed her point. “Mm-hmm. And how old were you?”

Cringing slightly, he replied, “Fourteen.”

“Right.” Raising an eyebrow, she demanded, imperiously, “And what about your father?”

His cringe was more pronounced this time, and she knew she had him, “Almost fourteen. But my father was atypical even for a Malfoy-”

Lifting her chin, Ermingard’s rejoinder bore the force of a whip-crack. “Exactly. Jocelyn has shown more restraint than the last THREE generations of MALE Malfoys, and you will NOT interfere when SHE decides she is ready. Severus has not pushed her in any way, and he's been very responsible about this whole matter.”

He tried again, “But Ermy-“

“No, Abraxas. You will not interfere.”

Defeated, Abraxas let his shoulders slump a bit. “Yes, dear.”

Ermingard smiled. “Good.” Then, she cocked her head and added, “No more of your Slytherin tricks, either. The open carriage was cute, but if you try anything more direct, like packing either of them off somewhere and ruining their summer...” she trailed off, letting her gimlet stare say all she needed about consequences.

Abraxas sighed. “Fine, fine. I’ll let them have their summer holiday. But she’d better be on that potion before they do anything.”

Her smile turning to a smirk, Ermingard informed her husband, “She’s been on it since we went to the school, though she did say that she had... plans, and had no intention of ruining them by being too impatient. Something about some new spell she learned, and surprising Severus before she got what she wanted. I didn’t press for details.”

Abraxas sighed. “Right. Plans.” He shook his head, looking woeful. “When did my little girl grow up enough to start planning her own introduction into the carnal world?”

Ermingard snorted. “Probably about the time she started spying on Lucius and Amelia.”

Abraxas blinked. “She what?”

Ermingard repressed her laughter, though her eyes sparkled with mirth. “Well, they haven’t exactly been discreet whilst here at Malboral the last few summers. I think she first saw them the summer before Lucius’ seventh year, although I don’t think she stayed to watch on purpose until last year. She did delight in interrupting their trysts by sending Skippy slithering through their various hideaways. Lucius doesn’t know she was doing it deliberately, he thinks Skippy was interfering by coincidence or because the snake found it amusing. Jocey and I had a long mother-daughter talk while you were explaining the ‘Malfoy curse’ to Severus.”

“Ah. I see. Then it’s a good thing I warned him, isn’t it?”

She shrugged. “I don’t think he would have succumbed to her blandishments until he felt truly certain of her intentions beyond curiosity, to be fair to him. He’s a frighteningly responsible and somewhat repressed young man. They’re quite well-matched, of course. He settles her more outrageous behaviours, and she pulls him out of himself. They balance each other nicely.”

Abraxas shook his head in resignation. “You’re right, of course.”

Ermingard smiled. “I often am. Now, why don’t we go look at the young plants, then we can go to our rooms, and enjoy the start of our own summer holiday.”

Smiling at his wife, Abraxas nodded affably. “That sounds like a splendid idea, my dear.”

*****

Jocey led Severus to a shaded clearing that overlooked the lake, and began stripping off her robes. Severus raised both eyebrows, and asked, “What are you doing, Jocelyn?”

Jocey slanted him a sardonic look. “Going swimming. Most people do that in bathing suits. Like this one.” She shed the last layer of her clothing, displaying a conservatively cut – by Muggle standards – swimsuit in black and white.

He looked appreciatively at her legs, and smiled. “Very pretty, Jocey. But I don’t have a bathing suit.”

She smirked. “Yes, you do. You just have to put it on.” She stuck her hand into the mass of fabric at her feet, dug around a bit, and pulled out a dark green pair of trunks. Severus eyed them sceptically. They were shorter than anything he’d ever worn, barring his pants, and he doubted whether they would fit. She rolled her eyes at him. “Try them on, Sev. I won’t peek, I promise.” Her smile was impish, but she dutifully turned her back when he took the shorts from her.

He frowned thoughtfully at the trunks, then put them on under his robes, working off his trousers and pants without removing his robes. To his surprise, the bathing shorts fit, though they rode nearly as high on his thighs as hers did on hers. They were snug, but not uncomfortable, and he took off his robes, then cleared his throat self-consciously.

Severus had never been to a beach, or gotten a suntan in his life. Jocey looked over his smooth, pale skin, and commented, “We better not spend too much time in the sun this way. You’d burn. But the suit is just for when we come out of the water, really.” Then, she hesitated. Looking up into his eyes she asked, “Severus, you trust me, right?”

“Yes, of course. Why?”

“Because if you’ll let me, I want to show you how the world looks, from another perspective.” She retrieved her wand from her discarded robes, and held it in the fingers of both hands as she smiled nervously. “You know I consistently score top of my year in Transfiguration, and Professor McGonagall let me hand in an independent research project in human Transfigurations. So, again, if you’ll let me, I would like to use the spell I developed on you. Professor McGonagall let me test it on her once, and she wasn’t harmed,” Jocey explained, the last sentence coming out in a breathless rush.

Severus hesitated, then remembered how gamely she had agreed to let him test the pain relieving alertness potion he and Lily had developed on her. How could he trust her any less? “Yes. Show me your new spell, love.”

Jocey took a deep breath, pointed her wand at him, made a complicated swirling wriggle with it, and intoned, “Rex Conde Verto.”

Severus felt his bones shifting, and his vision changed. His perspective lowered a good two feet, and everything was in black and white. Then, unconsciously, he flicked his tongue out, and his environment had colour again. He twisted his head around to look at himself, and realised that she’d turned him into a great black serpent just as she shifted forms.

{Sev? How do you feel?} she hissed, and he startled.

{You turned me into a snake?}

If snakes could smile, Jocey would be grinning. {Yes. You’re a Royal Anaconda, like me. Come on, let’s swim. It feels amazing to swim like this!}

Before he could respond, she darted into the water. He moved his long, unfamiliar body experimentally, and after a few moments realised that his body worked better if he didn’t try to consciously control it. He followed Jocelyn into the water, and filled his lungs before submerging, swimming rapidly after her. As he cut through the water he realised that while he could barely see anything with his eyes, he could feel every tiny vibration caused by objects touching his body in the water, and his tongue worked as efficiently in the water as the air for helping him ‘see’. He detected Jocelyn’s swimming form some few metres off to his left and moved toward her.

Jocey waited until Sev seemed to have his bearings. Then, when he moved toward her in the water, she allowed him to catch up, and wound her elongate body around him, pulling and rubbing until he duplicated her movements. After a long moment of affectionate twining, she loosened her hold on him and headed off into the lake, intent on showing him all the secret underwater features she’d found years before while exploring with Skippy.

The two of them spent the remainder of the afternoon swimming, and when the sunlight was slanting across the lake, making the trees cast long shadows over the water, Jocey led Sev back to the spot where they’d left their clothes. She turned herself back, then pointed her wand at him and ended the spell on him. Severus stood, rolling his shoulders, and bending his back as he got used to having his own body again. Jocey grinned at him. “What do you think?”

He smiled. “That was surprisingly fun. I almost wish you’d told me about that spell back at Hogwarts. I’ve always been curious about the lake. Do you swim in it?”

Jocey nodded. “Whenever I get the chance. The only thing in the lake that isn’t afraid of me is the giant squid, but he doesn’t bother with me, because I’m not always in the lake, and I don’t hunt anything while I’m swimming. Maybe you could visit me at school next year, if Master Flamel gives you some time off during your apprenticeship, and I can show you the lake?”

Shrugging, Severus replied, “I suppose we will have to wait and see. For now, I believe it’s getting close to the time your mother said dinner would be served.” He began putting his clothes back on, over the swim trunks she’d given him.

Following suit, Jocey put her own robes back on as she replied, “You’re right, we should get back.”

As they walked back toward the Keep, Severus asked, “I’ve always wondered, how do you keep your wand and clothes with you when you turn into a snake? I would have thought any object that wasn’t part of your body would be left behind.”

Jocey shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just always worked that way. Anything I’m wearing or holding in my hands just seems to... become part of me as I turn, so that I still have it when I turn back. It doesn’t work with people I’m touching, though, thank Merlin! That would be disturbing.”

“Agreed. I wonder if you would mind me looking into the phenomenon?”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “As long as it doesn’t mean you’re planning on spending the entire summer with your nose in one of my dad’s books.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Good. Because I’ve been looking forward to having you practically all to myself ever since Mum and Dad told me they were inviting you.”

Severus grinned wickedly. “Books will be of limited use. It will take plenty of practical experimentation. To see if some or no clothes make a difference. So yes, you shall be seeing a lot of me, and I shall be seeing a lot of you this summer…”

Jocelyn blushed furiously. Severus very rarely said things like that, trying very hard to keep himself – and her – in check in such matters, to not let things get too far. For him to make such a remark meant he was in a very good mood and properly appreciative of the way she looked in her bathing suit. “Sev! That’s not what I meant. I want to be with you, not an object of your study. ”

Severus gave her a faintly ironic smile. “As my lady commands. Though the way you eye me upon occasion tends to make me feel I’m little more than an interesting specimen under a Muggle microscope.”

Jocelyn rolled her eyes and sighed, waving her hand in defeat. Severus in full on wit-mode was hard to defeat. “Smartarse.”

“Such language, but yes, your arse is very smart. Very smart indeed,” he drawled, laughing as she buffeted his arm. It was going to be an interesting summer.



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