I know what you're thinking; Severus Snape? That's the guy I've been going on and on about? In short, yes. I am not delusional or mental, I know that he's not the most popular guy in school (not by a long shot) and I realize what people say about him. I know that he doesn't have classic good looks as most would define them, but to me, he's a dark, mysterious Adonis. When he looks at me with those deep black eyes, it feels as if they are boring into my soul. His lithe body makes it seems as if he floats down the halls, rather than walks, and his pale skin contrasts so dramatically with his long, inky black hair that it can't help but draw attention. And the way he speaks in that deep, silky, baritone, each word stated with pointed enunciation…oh, that gets me every time! Even if you don't think he's physically attractive, you have to admit that voice is smooth! I am practically melting into a puddle just thinking about it! Yes, I have it bad.
But can you really blame me? Aside from all the physical things I love about him, he's got the greatest sense of humor! What? He does! Okay, so he doesn't go around pulling childish and embarrassing pranks like those incessant Marauders, but that doesn't mean he has no sense of humor. His humor is just more subtle; much more like mine is. He is quiet most of the time, but at just the right moments he'll throw out a deadpanned witty acerbic comment that is so spot-on, it's uncanny. Some people think he can be cruel, but he usually only unleashes his sardonic humor on those who deserve it, those who pick on him or bully people. Besides, at least all he does is wound with words. There are plenty of guys in this school who hurt others utilizing far worse methods.
Then of course there is Severus's astounding intelligence. He is consistently at the top of the class and his knowledge of potions is nothing short of astonishing. Not only can he mix up any potion you give him, but he's even created his own unique ones. I am no slug at potions either, but if I tried to make one of my own from scratch I'd likely blow up the school. Severus is so creative, and he has the knowledge and instincts to put that to use. I've heard rumors that he's even invented his own spells! If he can do all of this at only 16, can you imagine what he'll accomplish once he's graduated? What I wouldn't give to be there at his side as he blazes his path to glory!
Not that I would be one of those girls who simply hangs off the arm of her man and feeds off of his accomplishments, of course. I have plenty of lofty ambitions of my own, and I am going to achieve them no matter how diligently I need to work and how hard I need to study. In fact, I have my hopes set on getting into the top Healer program in the world and finding a way to cure the effects of extensive exposure to the most detrimental curses. Together, Severus and I would be the most accomplished and intelligent couple in decades!
If there is one thing that I have over the ever-adored Miss Evans, it is my academic abilities. Like I said before, Lily is definitely smart, but she can't outshine me in that category. Not to brag, but I am the second highest ranked student in our year (second only to Severus himself), and as a ninth generation Ravenclaw, learning is a passion that is practically in my blood. I have to admit that I take some delight in watching Lily's face contort in disappointment each year when the rankings are announced and she always falls short of the top three. Oh, come on! Don't look at me like that! You'd indulge in the guilty pleasure too if the object of your true love's affection was knocked down a peg by you.
Especially if that seemed like the only consolation you'd ever get. It's true that Lily isn't actually dating Severus, but they are the best of friends. They spend so much time together you'd think they were joined at the hip. Apparently they've been friends since before they came to Hogwarts, having lived on the same block, so I have a decade of history to compete with. Plus, it's crystal clear that Severus wants to be so much more than friends with her. The way he stares longingly at her when she isn't looking is a dead giveaway. His eyes dance and it seems like the weight of the world just disappears for him. If only he would look at me like that, I'd be the happiest person in the world. Why Lily hasn't snagged him up yet is beyond my comprehension. Could it be that she truly is oblivious to his feelings? Or is she just playing with him? If it's the second, and she ends up hurting him, I swear I'll tear out that pretty hair of hers strand by strand until the only shiny thing glistening on top of her head is her scalp.
This is the thought that was swimming through my daydream filled brain as I walk into Advanced Potions and take my usual seat by the front of the class. Lily comes bounding in joyfully with her friend Alice Roberts, and I can't help but scowl as I see her. Of course she doesn't notice as she is too busy shining her thousand watt smile at Professor Slughorn, who is eating it up like it is crystallized pineapple. Roberts sees my sneer, though, and gives me an irritated look. I am about to confront her, but then Severus comes gliding into the classroom with his usual grace, and all thoughts of Evans and Roberts immediately fly out of my brain.
My breath hitches as he brushes by me to reach the front table across the aisle from me, walking so close that I can smell his intoxicating earthy scent of ash, potion residue, ink, sandalwood, and a hint of cinnamon. I nearly let an audible sigh escape my lips as I drink in the scent, imagining what it would be like to be enveloped in that scent, surrounded by his arms…but thankfully I regain control of myself just in time and manage not to moan out loud. I shake my head to clear the fantastic vision from it and try my best to concentrate on the lesson. It wouldn't be good to get into trouble on the very first day of school, after all.
"Hi Ellie," a slick, arrogant voice breaths next to my ear suddenly. "It looks like the summer has been good to you," David continues, licking his lips and staring unabashedly at my chest as I lift my eyes from my textbook to stare at him coldly.
"Shove off, Yaxley," I reply nonchalantly. I've found that if I show that he is getting to me, it is infinitely more difficult to get rid of the creep. He is so messed up he believes that if a girl gets angry with him it means she is turned on. Ugh!
"Oh, such coldness from such a burning beauty!" he retorts with feigned sadness. "I'm hurt, my darling, truly," he says softly as he leans in close to me.
"Alright you two, that's enough flirting. You can continue your romantic rendezvous after class, but right now it's time to brew!" Sluggy suddenly booms with a beaming smirk in my direction. I freeze in horror and can immediately feel myself blushing profusely as the class giggles and Yaxley smiles widely. I turn my head slightly to the right and see to my dismay that the perfect Miss Evans and her friend are chuckling at me, and Severus is looking on in mild disgust, a small sneer appearing at the corner of his beautiful mouth.
"Brilliant," I mutter sarcastically as I allow my head to hit the lab table. I really hate Slughorn.
"Today we'll be brewing the Draught of Living Death. If any of you are skilled enough to brew a passable example of the potion you will win this," he beams as he holds up a tiny glass vial filled with clear liquid. "This, is Felix Felicis. More commonly known as?" he asks as the professor's pet's hand shoots into the air. "Yes Miss Evans?"
"Liquid luck," she says with a confident smile.
"Correct, of course!" Sluggy affirms as he dots on her with sickening pride. Even more sickening is the way Severus's face lights up as he watches her smile widen. I tug my gaze away from the scene before the ache in my chest suffocates my heart and I concentrate on the task at hand. Liquid luck is exceedingly valuable. If I can win it, perhaps I can finally get Severus to take notice of me as more than just 'that geeky Ravenclaw who always comes in second at the school rankings.'
With newfound tenacity, I gather my supplies and carefully read over all of the instructions, following them to the letter.
"Want to help me with my potion?" David asks in a tone that I guess is meant to be enticing or seductive but just seems ridiculous to me.
Without missing a beat or so much as looking up from my textbook, I deadpan "Not in the slightest."
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Severus turn slightly towards me as a small, amused smile graced his lips. My heart soared. He noticed me! And he liked my joke! I am now more determined than ever. I set up my cauldron and, for the first time in my potions career, I don't even glance up towards Severus while I work. I can't afford the distraction if I want to win this! Halfway through my brewing, as I am carefully counting my 6 clockwise stirs before switching to 4 counterclockwise stirs, my concentration is broken.
"Is this supposed to be orange?" David asks in a whisper, having snuck right next to my ear unbeknownst to me as I had been so enveloped in perfecting my potion. I gasp and jump back, swearing at him, and effectively dumping my entire cauldron over. I watch my perfect green draught puddle on the table and flow off the edge, splashing onto the floor with a sickening glopping noise, taking all hope of me winning the liquid luck with it as it flows down the drains built into the floor.
"Hmm, guess not," David answers himself with a shrug as he sees the tint of my now ruined potion. I raise my head, narrow my eyes at him, and seethe.
"I'm going to sodding kill you!" I growl, taking him by surprise. "You've ruined it! It was perfect and you've ruined it!" I shout as I advance towards him, the murderous look in my eyes causing him to fall off his stool and stumble backwards.
"Hey, calm down, Ellie. It was just a potion," he says with his hands up defensively.
"It was not just a potion!" I counter, thinking how that potion could quite possibly have been the first step in finally getting somewhere with Severus. "I swear, I'm going to cut out your intestines, fashion a noose, and hang you with them!" I yell as I leap for him, wand drawn. Slughorn shakes himself from his wide-eyed amazement at the scene before him and steps in front of Yaxley just before I can reach him. Unfortunately it was too late for me to stop the hex I had already begun casting, and Sluggy ends up with a face full of ugly boils.
I gasp at the sight and drop my wand, knowing I am really in for it now. My classmates chuckle behind me as Sluggy's face grows red in anger.
"Dumbledore's office! Now!" he bellows before I can so much as start to apologize. I lower my head and leave the room as people snigger at me and Slughorn tries to regain control of the class.
I can't believe it! In five years at Hogwarts I had never received a single detention, never cost Ravenclaw a single point, and here it is the first day of 6th year and I am being sent to the Headmaster's office! I am a prefect for Merlin's sake! Dear Merlin, what if Dumbledore expels me?! I'd be the first Bradford ever to get kicked out of school. All because of stupid Yaxley! I really might kill him the next time I see him.
I arrive at the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office and realize with glee that I don't know the password. Oh well, I guess I can't get up there; I'll just have to talk to him later…yeah…later. Just then, much to my dismay, the wall opens and I realize that I am expected. I sigh and step onto the moving stairs, allowing them to carry me upwards at their own slow pace. I'm certainly in no hurry.
All too soon I reach the top and find the door already open. I peer warily into the opening, torn between my anxiety and the amazing mechanisms all around the room.
"Come in Miss Bradford," Dumbledore calls out without any emotion in his steady voice. I move slowly towards the gigantic wooden desk in the center of the room and sit down hesitantly in front of the powerful wizard. "Lemon drop?" he offers with a smile as he extends a small golden bowl filled with candies towards me.
"No thank you," I reply with a slight hitch in my voice.
"Relax Miss Bradford; you aren't going to be expelled," he says with an amused smile.
I let out the breath I have been holding since I entered and feel my body release some of the tension it has been holding onto. "Thank you Headmaster," I breathe.
"You're welcome, but there really was no need to worry. You have a spotless record and are one of the best students in the school," he assures me.
"But I hexed a professor!" I can't help but blurt out, chastising myself silently afterwards. To my shock, Dumbledore just laughs.
"Yes, but it wasn't intentional," he replies with his eyes twinkling. "I am curious, though, as to what provoked you to attack young Mr. Yaxley."
"Uh," I grimace. "Well, you see…he caused me to knock over my potion, which I had worked very diligently upon to make sure it was perfect…" I begin. Wow, it sounds kind of lame when I hear it out loud like this…
"I can see where that would be frustrating, but why was this particular potion of such importance?"
"Well…you see, uh…Sluggy, I mean Professor Slughorn, he said that whomever brewed it perfectly would win a vial of Felix Felicis, and I really wanted to win it," I explain as I feel the blush creeping over my cheeks.
"I see," he says thoughtfully as he reclins a bit in his chair and stroks his long white beard. "Felix Felicis is a powerful and useful potion, but I have always found that we make our own luck. Perhaps, if you attempt your endeavor without the aid of the potion, you will find that the results are just as good. Many times the key to success, and what liquid luck often grants, is simply having the confidence to try. Just making the decision to, say, approach someone and talk to him, building a friendship, can make all the difference in the long run."
"Yes, Headmaster," I answer with a nod as he wishes me luck and dismisses me, amazingly without any punishment at all.
Walking down the halls back to the Ravenclaw dorms, I can't get Dumbledore's advice out of my head. It isn't so much the words he said, but more the way he said them. It almost seemed like he knew what I had planned for the liquid luck, but that isn't possible, is it? Oh Merlin, I hope the old man can't read minds! If so, I shudder to think of the things he's caught me thinking about throughout the years.
I shake my head slightly to purge that disquieting notion and practically fall into one of the plush royal blue armchairs in the common room. Maybe Dumbledore is right; I've been pining over Severus since third year and, sure I've spoken with him in class, but I've never really made a concentrated effort to be friends with him outside of classes. I need to spend more time with him…preferably without Lily around. How to do that, though? They always seem to be hanging out together, that is when she isn't being chased around by James Potter, yet another of her many admirers.
Hmm, how can I spend more time with Severus? Maybe we could share a hobby…what does he like to do? He's always reading, and I've seen him playing wizard's chess fairly often. Most of the time, though, he's content just to work on his potions. "THAT'S IT! POTIONS!" I shout, causing the few other Ravenclaws in the room, all of whom had been studying, to turn towards me sharply and stare at me as if I had finally snapped. I give them a small wave and smile and sat back down in the chair, ducking a little lower to avoid their annoyed glares. I could start letting my grade slip in potions, and then get Severus to tutor me. Despite today's little incident, I am usually one of Sluggy's favorite students, so there's no way he'd let me get a poor grade in his class. When he sees that I am falling behind, he'll want to find a way to help me, and I can suggest a tutor. Seeing as Severus is the best in the class, Sluggy will appoint him to help me. Then, it will just be me and Severus, alone, bonding over his favorite subject. All of his focus will be on me and we'll get to talking about things other than just school. Soon enough he'll realize how compatible we are, and with any luck, he'll forget about Lily and I can make my move!
But what if he doesn't think that we're compatible? What if, after spending all this time alone with me and getting to know me better, he still has no interest? What if he still wants Lily? I'll be crushed! I'll be heartbroken…but…at least then I'll know for sure. If he doesn't feel the same way that I do, then maybe it is time to move on. Yes. I have to do this. I've wasted too much time wondering 'what if'. It's time to find out for sure…whether I like the result or not.