Narcissa had just over a year of this left, then everything would change. She looked at the head table. Professor Slughorn wasn’t at breakfast again. Probably some student was trying to buy his way to a passing grade with a gourmet breakfast. She had never needed to play that game—her name and her talent spoke for her and she earned her high marks. She eyed her own table discreetly next, while buttering her toast.
Narcissa looked at Snape, one of her first year Slytherins. He was having a hard time fitting in. It was no wonder that he’d turned to the red-haired Gryffindor. Cute girl, but too common. More pretty milk-maid than princess. Definitely a Muggleborn, judging from how little she knew about what was appropriate. But she would keep him out of the Slytherin inner circle, guarantee him no acceptance. Narcissa could help him with that—if she could make him see reason. She sipped her tea, preferring it to pumpkin juice.
Snape looked up from his breakfast and caught the red-haired Gryffindor’s eyes. Even from here, Narcissa could see how startling green they were. The witch smiled at him. He nodded at her. This was worse than she thought if a couple of twelve year olds were acting like they had a relationship. She needed to talk to him. As soon as possible.
She glanced over at Lucius. He smiled slightly and tipped his head. She gave him a trace of a smile back. Yes, she knew all about that kind of communication. She’d gone to Hogsmeade with him twice, but still wouldn’t let people call him her boyfriend. That was where they were heading; she could read the writing on the wall, but she was in no hurry to let it happen. Right now, it felt comfortable when she was by his side. It felt like she belonged there. But no rush of butterflies or fire or whatever was supposed to happen.
Snape got up from the table. So did the red-haired Gryffindor. She would have to hurry. She abandoned her remaining breakfast and hurried after Snape, leaving Lucius with a faintly confused look in his eyes. “Snape, wait,” she said, once she followed him out the door.
“Black, I have somewhere to go. I can’t talk with you right now.”
She touched her prefect badge. “You need to talk to me, now. Class doesn’t start for an hour. What else could you be in a hurry for?”
“Pulling rank, Black? Very well.” Snape folded his arms stubbornly.
“Let’s step over here where we won’t be overheard.” She took his upper arm and steered him into the trophy room. He went along easily, but the look in his eyes was anything but friendly.
“Why do you need to talk to me, Black?” he asked.
“I want to be your friend, and as a prefect, I need to look out for you and help you fit in with Slytherin house.”
“Failing miserably, aren’t you?” he sneered.
“Look, may I call you Severus?” When he nodded grudgingly, she continued. “Good. Call me Narcissa. I want you to succeed. I’ve heard you get brilliant grades, but Hogwarts is about more than classes. You were sorted into Slytherin for a reason. Learn from your housemates. Use them for friends, or at least tools to get ahead. Stay away from other houses, especially Gryffindor,” she emphasized the last word.
“You don’t approve of my friendship with Evans,” he stated flatly.
She realized she was on dangerous ground, so she backed off a little. “Be friends with whomever you wish, but if he or she is from another house, then keep it hidden. It won’t help either of you to be seen together. Gryffindors are even more against Slytherins than we are against them. Do you think they’re being kind to her when she’s seen with you?”
He hadn’t considered that. He didn’t want them to hurt Lily. “Secret friends. I’ll consider it.” Suddenly he saw something flying through the air towards him. Without thinking, he reacted, blocking the object, a water balloon, with his arm. Its path diverted, it hit Narcissa on the side of the head and splattered all over her—not water, but deep red dye. Gryffindor red. Severus sputtered, “I’m sorry, Narcissa… I “
“Say nothing more,” she answered through her teeth in a low near growl. “Sirius Black!” she called with icy fury, aware that she recognized the laugh before she even registered that she heard laughing.
She was answered with another burst of laughter. “Sorry, Cuz… it was for him, not you. But you look damn fine in red.” He laughed harder. She reached into the draperies and came up with an ear, with the rest of Sirius attached. “Ow, you’re hurting me!”
She pinched his ear tighter and dragged him towards the door. “Come with me!” she told both Severus and Sirius. Sirius really had no choice, but Severus followed meekly. They went down the stairs and to the dungeons. Minutes later they were at Professor Slughorn’s office.
She pounded on the door with her left fist. “Come in, what’s the problem?” Slughorn opened the door. He started off smiling, but then took in Narcissa’s appearance and his eyes widened. “Is that blood? Are you all right, Miss Black?”
Sirius choked back a snicker, so she pulled his ear harder. “It’s dye. Sirius meant it for Snape, but got me instead. I’d like you to help me get it off, then do whatever you need to do to make sure Sirius never pulls another stunt like this.”
“Boys, sit down. I’ll aid Miss Black.” The two sat on the divan while Narcissa followed Slughorn into the potions room.
“Let’s start with something simple. Scourgify!” He pointed his wand at her. She felt a hot moist sensation, and looked at him for confirmation. “Nothing yet. Let me try again.”
He tried several more spells unsuccessfully, then pulled out a potion. “I don’t know how safe this is on your hair and skin, but it should take it off your uniform. I wouldn’t advise trying it on your hair unless you use a little at the ends first to test it and are prepared to cut it off it if doesn’t work. I wouldn’t attempt it on your skin.”
“How bad is it?” she asked, trying to keep the alarm out of her voice.
“You don’t know?” He acted surprised; given her name most people supposed she spent much of her time in front of the mirror. He was no different, it seemed. In response he summoned a hand mirror and passed it to her. She gasped. Not only was the left side of her blonde hair now deep scarlet, but her left cheek was mostly scarlet, and the rest of her face and neck was covered in red splashes of dye. She couldn’t stop her eyes from misting over this time. “Will you Floo my mother?” she asked very softly, the angry pride in her voice cowered.
“Of course, my dear. I’ll do that right now. You wait here, and I’ll assign those two detentions, then call your mother.”
“Snape only deflected the balloon. He didn’t do it. It was all my cousin. Sirius wanted to get Snape. He’s after him all the time.”
“Ah, I see. Very well. I’ll take care of this. I’ll be right back.” He left, and she continued to look with horror at her reflection.
Five minutes later he returned. “Sirius has a month’s worth of detentions and will have that increased every time he gloats about what he did to you. Your mother is on her way. She just wanted to get her coat before she Flooed here.” Narcissa nodded and followed him back to the office just in time to see her mother step out of the Floo.
“What have they done to you? My most beautiful daughter! Don’t you worry. I know just the place to take you. They’ll fix you right up.” Narcissa nodded miserably and followed her mother through the Floo. She could hear Sirius’s laughter ringing in her memory.
Her mother continued to fuss over her once they got to the Black estate. “Please, Mother,” she finally asked, wishing she would lessen her embarrassment instead of increasing it. “Make whatever Floo calls you need to make. I am going to my room and changing out of my clothes.” She hurried off, glad to be free of her mother’s pity.
She peeled off all her clothes and stepped into the shower, scrubbing herself until she was raw and washing her hair four times. When she stepped out, she hurriedly changed into a clean robe and looked in the mirror. She was still splotched with red, and the hair on her left side was completely red. Not orange ginger red—candy apple red. She heard her mother knock on the door. “Narcissa, your Aunt Walberga is here. We’re ready to go.”
She opened the door. “Aunt Wallburga? Why is she coming?”
“She is paying for the treatments. Her son did this, and she feels responsible. He’ll be punished far more severely by her than he will by Hogwarts, don’t you worry.” Narcissa wondered if Mother had really asked Wallburga to pay because it was Sirius’s fault or if it was because she was so good at saving Knuts. With three daughters and married to the respectable but not wealthy side of the Black family, Mother’s skill in saving and cutting corners had been useful over the years. Her mother looked at her appraisingly. “Wear a hat, Dear,” her mother added, handing her a wide brimmed hat.
“No thank you, Mother.” Narcissa squared her shoulders, finally deciding that while her face was splotched, her dignity wouldn’t be.
Her mother raised an eyebrow, then thought better of it and vanished the hat. Narcissa followed her to the library, doing her best to walk proudly. Aunt Wallburga looked at her. “Sirius will not forget my anger at this soon, Narcissa. This is unworthy of a Black. I am paying for your facial and hair style at the top Pureblood only beauty salon, but it is coming out of his pocket money. He won’t receive a Knut from me for several months.”
“Mother, the dye is fabric dye. It won’t come off…”
“You just rest easily and let yourself enjoy the treatment, Little Cissy. We’ll make things right.”
She reluctantly Flooed with them to Esmeralda’s Noble Salon and Day Spa. She stood quietly and calmly, trying to hide her humiliation, as the witches examined her hair and skin carefully. Finally they sat down together, speaking to all three witches, but Narcissa the least. “We have these choices. The dye is permanent and won’t come from the hair. That gives three choices. Cut it and remove the dyed parts, dye the rest to match or to cover it—we could go black or dark brown or deep auburn, or use a strong bleach that will strip all the colour from the hair.”
Narcissa hated all three choices, but before she could answer, her mother answered, “We’ll bleach it then. What about her skin?”
“That’s easier.” The head witch explained, “The dye only dyed the top layer of skin. We have a potion that will peel the top layer off. It will leave her rather pink and sensitive to the sun for a short while, but all the dyed skin will be removed. Many witches get this treatment to make the skin wrinkle free and get rid of age spots and other kinds of spots.”
“Good. We can do that,” her aunt answered.
“Wait… what about what I want? You are telling me that my hair will be bleached colourless and that my skin will be peeled so that it is pink and sensitive? I do not care for either idea, thank you. It sounds like my hair will be ruined, and my skin will hurt.”
“We can tone your hair with a little golden blonde afterward. It will be nearly natural. Your skin will be sensitive, and you will have to forgo make-up for a few days, but we can teach you a glamour charm to take care of the appearance,” the witch explained.
“Wait, why not just teach me the charm, and I will use it while I wait for the dyed skin to shed naturally? Why not just use a glamour charm for my hair too?” Narcissa asked.
“Charms are only so deep, and won’t last while you’re asleep. This way ensures you’ll have no teasing from the witches in the dorm,” her mother answered.
“Druella, a perfect solution. Do what you must. I will pay,” her aunt commanded.
Narcissa shrugged and, against her better judgment, put herself into their hands.
Three hours later she was a platinum blonde with bright pink skin, but no more dye. She looked in the mirror and didn’t see how this was much of an improvement. She touched her hair, and it felt like straw; repulsed, she moved her hand away. “I thought you were going to tone it so it looked and felt natural.”
“It is blonde. We would have done more, but your hair is so damaged now that we didn’t dare tone it. We have a deep conditioning potion for you to use on it every night, then wash out every morning. The conditioner will deepen the colour slightly as you use it. In a month’s time, it will be healthy and toned to your natural colour.” Narcissa doubted that the straw hanging from her head would ever feel or look natural. And how was sleeping every night with a deep conditioning potion all over her head going to save her from being teased?
“What about my face?” she asked. It was only then that she noticed the even deeper pink of her neck.
“Keep it well moisturized and away from sunlight, and we’ll show you the glamour charm to use in place of make-up. The pink should be gone in three days, and then you can wear make-up again if you wish.”
The only makeup she wore most of the time at school was mascara and a little lip gloss.
“You could just stay home for a week, Narcissa… I’d love to have you with me.” Her mother said this so pityingly that Narcissa couldn’t wait to get away from her.
“I have a test in Charms tomorrow, Mother. I cannot miss it.”
“Surely the professor will allow you to take it later, this is an emergency…” her mother started.
“It’s not an emergency. I’m fine. I’m going back to school tonight. I have my prefect duties to see to.” She wasn’t going to be pitied any longer than she had to. She turned to the beauty witch. “If you’ll show me those glamour charms.…” she suggested. Soon Narcissa had learned the charms and was sent on her way with advice to come back in a month, then her aunt paid for one small and one large jar of potion to moisturize her skin and hair.
Once back at the estate, Druella Black proceeded to entice Narcissa to stay longer than a few hours. She finally convinced her to stay until dinner, but that was all the further Narcissa would go. She couldn’t wait to get as far away from their pity as possible.
Lucius had been curious to see her leave at breakfast… he’d been even more curious when she wasn’t in the hallways between classes. When she wasn’t at lunch, his curiosity turned to concern. He moved next to the first year she had pursued that morning. “Snape,” he said calmly.
“Malfoy… “ The boy shifted his plate nervously.
“Have you seen Miss Black since breakfast?” he asked casually.
“Not since Slughorn’s office.” Snape answered.
“What were you two doing there?” Lucius asked.
“I don’t know that she wants people knowing. Slughorn made us promise not to talk about it.”
“He didn’t mean not to tell me. I’m her boyfriend. What happened?” he asked, hoping he was hiding his alarm.
“Her cousin, the one in Gryffindor, he tried to pull a prank on me, and it got her instead. I think Slughorn sent her home. Black got detentions, but I don’t think it’s enough.” Snape’s hand slapped the table. “I want to get him.”
Lucius smiled slightly at seeing the evil spark in Snape’s eyes. “I might be able to help you with that, but how is she? Did he hurt her?”
“No… but he got fabric dye on her. It wasn’t coming off with a spell.”
Lucius felt an angry coal burst to flame in his chest. “I’ll help you get even. What did you have in mind?”
“I need a good itching potion. Something that won’t come off easily, or will come off in a way not expected. I know how I’ll get it on his clothes, if I can find a House Elf who’ll do it.”
“You don’t need a house elf, just a conspirator inside Gryffindor who’ll do it for a galleon or two. I’ll pay. And I’ll have the potion for you within a week.”
“I have a friend in Gryffindor,” Snape started, then remembering what Narcissa told him, qualified it, “my potions partner. There were an odd number of Gryffindors and Slytherins, so we ended up partners. Good thing she isn’t a lazy dolt.”
“Would she be willing to do it? Gryffindors tend to stick together. How much money do you think would buy her assistance?” Lucius asked.
“None. If she feels sorry enough for Narcissa, she’ll do it. She’s that kind of witch… you know, fighting for the underdog sort of thing—like most Gryffindors.”
“Yes… I know the type. Excellent. It never hurts to save a Galleon for something else. I’ll get back to you when I have the potion.”
He turned to his lunch and ate it silently. What had that blood traitor cousin of hers done to her? He wanted the details, but he didn’t want to be seen as wanting them. He would find out from Narcissa when she came back. Soon, he hoped.
She didn’t come to her afternoon classes. Nor was she at dinner that night. He really began to worry over just what her lousy little blood traitor cousin had done to her.
At seven that evening, he was sitting in the library studying when he saw her come in. Her gate was proud, her shoulders squared, head erect, but her eyes didn’t hold contact with his. She quickly looked away and starting moving towards another part of the library. No, she was not all right. He hurriedly got up and moved to her. “Narcissa, wait.” He took both her hands in his. “Come study by me. Or let’s go somewhere else to study.”
Her eyes looked at the restricted section. There was a carrel on the far wall of it for advanced students to study. It was then he noticed her flawless complexion, her radiantly glowing hair, perfectly in place… she was under a glamour charm. He could always spot them. He’d made noticing which witches were under them a kind of specialty of his. He’d never seen her use one before. He dropped one of her hands and lead her to the carrel. He quickly put up a Muffliato charm. “We won’t bother anyone here, and they can’t hear us.” He pulled out a chair for her, then sat down next to her. “Tell me what happened.”
“It was just a prank gone wrong, that’s all. Only it was meant for Severus. It was not a funny prank, not with permanent dye. It was mean-spirited. I am ashamed that Sirius is a Black.”
Severus? So that was Snape’s first name, he thought. Good to know. “What exactly happened?”
“The balloon full of dye was meant for Severus. He deflected it, and it got me. Right in the head. I suppose it would have been very funny if it was removable with a simple spell or potion, but it wasn’t.” She looked away. Merlin, how bad was it? he wondered. “I spent the whole day at a beauty spa having my hair bleached, and my skin abraded, with my mother and my aunt pitying me and clucking over me. It was horrible, but the dye is gone.”
If it’s gone, then why is she wearing a glamour charm?… but… now Lucius did something he knew he was going to regret, but he wanted to know what that stupid little twit had done to his girl. Not that she would allow him to call her that, he hadn’t even kissed her yet, but HIS was what she was, whether or not she knew it. He pointed his wand at her and whispered, “Finite Incantatum.”
Her eyes went wide, but he grabbed her hand and wouldn’t let her run off. Her skin was bright pink from her collar bone to her hair line and up her forehead. Her hair was the biggest shock… it was the same white blonde as his. But she was still beautiful, still the witch he wanted to look at every day of his life. She was all the more beautiful for the fury dancing in those ocean blue eyes of hers… fury… “How dare you!” she yanked her hand away and slapped him, hard.
He ignored the sting on his cheek and smirked at her. “I dare because I care more for you than I do for any other witch I know. I dare because of something I should have done a long time ago that this little prank doesn’t change.” He leaned in closer, reached up, and tucked her hair behind her ear, then he kissed her. Her soft lips were unmoving, but didn’t refuse the kiss.
“Oh…” she said as he pulled away. “I…” She pulled her wand out of her pocket. Her face grew redder, and he suspected she was blushing.
He hid his shame. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be… damn her stupid berk of a cousin. He would make him pay.
“No, don’t change it back.” He held her hand again.
“I need to. Just because you do not seem to mind, does not mean I will not face questioning and teasing from the others.” She pointed the wand at herself. “But thank you for not pitying me.” She cast the incantation and put the glamour charm back on herself. She pulled out her books. “I really do need to study, but I will see you on patrol tonight.” She smiled sadly. There was a question in the way she looked at him that hadn’t been there before.
Lucius took the cue and left for the potions shelves. He had some research to do.
Severus sat down to breakfast, not far from Narcissa. He felt almost protective of the older witch now that she had taken the prank that was aimed for him. She was right about other things too. And if she could help him be accepted in Slytherin, it would pay off later. He noticed she looked all right now. They must have found a way to fix it.
The morning mail came and with it the news. Daily Prophets and packages from home and letters were being delivered all around the Great Hall. Soon a bellowing filled the halls. Someone had received a Howler. He looked around the room to see whose misery he could smirk at… but the Howler soon told the whole hall:
“Sirius Black! What did you think you were doing! To your own cousin! I am ashamed to call you my son! Do you have any idea how much it cost to fix your cousin’s face and hair? Well you will, because it is coming out of your pocket money! You had better change your ways and never do anything to shame or embarrass Narcissa again! And after all she does to keep you out of trouble!”
Severus glanced over at Narcissa. For once, her poise was completely gone, and she was sitting with her mouth open. Then she regained her erect posture and calm demeanor and pulled up The Prophet in front of her, supposedly reading the articles. Only the paper was upside down. The witches at the table started whispering to each other. He would make that Gryffindor pig pay.
Three days later, Lucius came to him bearing the potion instructions. “You had better let me make it. It’s an advanced potion. I’ve heard it’s your best subject, but you’re still a first year. This is a special one. Water intensifies it. It has to be reversed with mineral oil application.”
“We can make it together. You can show me how, “ Severus insisted. He looked the list and instructions over. It was advanced. “How long before it’s ready?”
“We can have it ready in a few hours. Meet me in the potions practice lab Saturday morning. Have you got your helper ready?” he asked.
“I will. I’ll meet you Saturday then.” Severus handed the potion back to Lucius. This would be good. He had potions class later that day. It would give him the opportunity to talk to Lily.
He took his seat next to Lily and hoped he would have the chance to talk to her when Slughorn wasn’t paying too much attention. “Hi,” she told him, her deep red hair glistening and green eyes dancing. It would be a lot easier to act the way Narcissa had instructed him if Lily weren’t so pretty.
“Hullo.” He sighed then looked at Sirius Black, sitting at the table with James Potter.
“What’s the matter?” she asked, her eyes filled with concern. Good, it had worked.
“Him,” he said, pointing at Sirius from behind his cauldron. “Did you hear what he did to my friend, Narcissa?”
Lily whispered back. “I heard he did something, but I didn’t hear what.”
“He threw dye on her. It ruined her hair and got all over her face too. It wouldn’t come off. She’s about my only friend in Slytherin and now she’s miserable.”
“But she looked normal… oh, she’s using a glamour charm. Poor girl. She’s so pretty too. Is Sirius being punished?”
A glamour charm? He hadn’t thought of that. “Detention with Slughorn, and that Howler from his mother. But that was more a punishment to Narcissa than Sirius,” he said. “It’s not fair.”
“No, it isn’t. She always seemed nicer than the other Slytherin prefects, too.” She was thoughtful for a moment, then said, “We should give Sirius a taste of his own medicine.”
“Good idea,” replied Severus. “But what… I mean, I can make an itching potion or something, and if I just knew how to get it into his dorm, we could put it all over his sheets… but other than bribing an elf, I don’t know how I’d get in there.”
“Can you really make the potion?” she asked.
“Yes. I can make it Saturday morning.”
“Then I’ll do it. I can get into their dorm room.” Just what he’d hoped she’d say.
“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble.”
“I can do it. It won’t be too hard. Where do you want me to put it? Just on his sheets, or in his undergarment drawer too?” she asked. Severus grinned. She really should have been in Slytherin.
“You’re a genius, Lily. Put it wherever you feel inspired. Just don’t get it on you. Wear gloves,” he told her.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get it done. Narcissa went through a lot of embarrassment. Sirius is constantly picking on the girls in our house, as well. He thinks it makes them like him or something. I’d love to help you take him down a peg or two.”
“For the fairer sex, then?” Their eyes twinkled mischievously at each other.
“For the fairer sex,” Lily confirmed.
“Snape, Evans, are you two ready to tell the rest of the class what about the calming drought has you two whispering so much?”
“Our apologies, Professor Slughorn. We were just discussing when was the best time to add the asphodel,” Lily answered.
“Excellent idea. Let’s all discuss that.” Slughorn then began asking questions. How did Lily do it, Severus wondered. She was perfect.
Lucius had tried to talk to Narcissa several more times that week, but she was avoiding him. She would come around. He had no doubt of it. In the meanwhile, the witch he would some day propose to had been embarrassed, and he would be able to get even with hardly any effort. He gathered the ingredients and recipe for the potion then headed to the practice potion lab.
Snape was waiting for him, cauldron ready. Together they carefully chopped and crushed ingredients, then put them in the cauldron, simmering and stirring precisely.
“We need to carefully evaporate all the liquid so that all you have left is a powder. The powder won’t cause irritation and a rash until it is wet. So perspiration, showers, handwashing, et cetera, will all cause it to activate. It cannot be deactivated without oil. That should keep him scratching for quite awhile.”
They kept stirring, evaporating it without letting it burn. Then they extinguished the heat and put the powdered remains in a glass jar, being careful not to touch it. Lucius screwed the lid on the jar and handed it to Severus. “Good luck. Don’t get caught.”
“You needn’t worry there. My potions partner in Gryffindor is doing all the dirty work. She was horrified at what Black did to his cousin.” Snape grinned maliciously.
“Excellent. You have some talents, I see, Snape. And not just with a cauldron, although I noticed that as well. I won’t forget this.” Lucius hurriedly cleaned up his potions and cauldron, then headed out to watch the Quidditch game.
. . .
Sunday morning Malfoy sat at breakfast, wondering if the potion had been used yet. He didn’t have to wonder long. He looked over at the Gryffindor table and saw Black starting to shift uncomfortably, and so did his friend Potter. Seems she got both of them. All the better. The red head was being calm and cool. No one would suspect her. Too bad she was a Mudblood. Useful talent she had there.
He reached his hand over to Narcissa’s and gave it a subtle squeeze, then looked at her cousin. Her eyes followed his. When she saw Sirius shifting uncomfortably, he nodded ever so slightly, then gave her a covert wink. The slightest pleased smiled touched the corners of her mouth. The two boys continued to shift and scratch uncomfortably. Finally they left the table, nearly bolting out of the hall. Severus sat across from Narcissa, and he too smiled slightly. When Narcissa noticed, her own smile widened.
“So, it seems you two are friends now,” she said, not saying they had worked together on the prank with so many ears around. “Perhaps you two would care to join me on a walk after breakfast?”
Severus cleared his throat. “I need to have a talk with my potions partner and congratulate her on her excellent delivery. So I won’t be joining you.”
“Thank you, Severus,” she told him.
After breakfast Lucius took Narcissa for the promised walk and told her everything.
That night, as Narcissa made her prefect rounds, she saw the list of students who were checked into the hospital wing. Sirius and his friend Potter were among them. She decided to check in on her cousin. Her parents would expect it. She pocketed a couple chocolate frogs, something she kept on hand for motivating young Slytherins, and headed to the hospital wing. Both boys were abed, their hands mittened to keep them from scratching. They were both clearly miserable.
“What are you doing here?” snarled Sirius.
“You are still my cousin. I came to see how you were doing. I brought you and your friend here each a chocolate frog.”
“I’m doing great, what do you think? I can’t even take these mittens off. Pomfrey has them charmed on our hands so we don’t scratch. So don’t bother with the chocolate frogs. We can’t open them.”
“I can do that much for you, Sirius.” She unwrapped a frog and put it to James’s lips, which he gratefully opened. Then she opened the second one and popped it in Sirius’s open mouth. Lucius had told her the nature of the potion he used. The two boys were miserable. She touched her still damaged hair. Twenty-four hours was not too long of a punishment. If Pomfrey didn’t get it figured out by morning, she’d suggest mineral oil… or leave it for them anonymously or something. Especially his friend, Potter. He did nothing to deserve being punished with Sirius.
“What is Pomfrey doing for you?”
“She’s trying to figure out what the rash is from. Washing it just makes it worse. She’s in our dorm room right now checking our bedding and laundry to see if it was washed in something we’re allergic to. Right. Allergic. Someone did this. This wasn’t an accident.”
“Maybe you two have an enemy,” she suggested, “if that’s what you think. Of course, you might be having an allergic reaction.”
“You were my first guess. But you coming here and bringing me chocolate, I don’t think you did it. I am sorry. It wasn’t aimed at you, Cissy. It was a stupid prank.”
“It was cruel, Sirius. It was as cruel to whom it was intended as it was to me.”
“Well, I apologized, to you.”
Potter finally joined in. “Thanks for the chocolate, Black. But as far as Snape goes? He deserved it. You should see him, hanging out with a Gryffindor witch all the time. He needs to keep with his own kind.”
“I see,” Narcissa said, straightening up. Maybe Potter did deserve it. Or maybe his feelings were not so different from her own in warning Severus to stay away from his friend in public. “I need to finish my rounds. I’ll be back to check on you two in the morning. I will try to owl my mother and see if she has a treatment for the rash.”
“Thanks, Cissy. Good night.” She hurried off. Just to cover her back, in case questions were asked, she did send her mother an owl, asking what treatment she had used when Bella had that horrible rash after swimming in the pond that was overgrown with poison water hyacinths. Mother had used an oily formula, she remembered, not the usual rash treatment.
She finished her rounds, then headed to bed.
At breakfast, an owl came from her mother. Lucius looked over curiously as she opened it, but she didn’t show him what it said—a simple description of Bellatrix’s peculiar rash and the potion that had worked on it. Narcissa walked up to the head table and handed the letter to Madame Pomfrey. Before Pomfrey could ask a question, Narcissa hurried and sat down again, relieved that Pomfrey would take it from there.
“What was that about?” Lucius asked her, his eyebrow arched.
“Just a recipe of my mother’s. It was one Pomfrey was interested in.”
. . .
Down on the Gryffindor table, Lupin talked to Pettigrew. “Stupid that we can’t figure out who did it. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a chart or a map that showed us where everyone is all over Hogwarts? If we’d had that, we could have seen who did that.”
Pettigrew shoved a piece of toast into his mouth and chewed hurriedly, washing it down with some pumpkin juice. “We could make it. Maybe you and me could invent it. You’re clever. I bet we can figure out what spells it needs. And when James and Sirius are better, they can help us make it.”
“You’re right. We can do this.” Lupin grinned. “Great idea, Peter.”
Peter finished the last of his breakfast and got up to go to class. First class, Potions. Near the class room, she saw Evans turn a corner with that Slimy git she was partners with in Potions. He ducked behind a tapestry and got as close as he could to hear them. Slughorn wouldn’t be starting class for another eight minutes.
“I just had no idea it would be so severe. I didn’t want to put them in the hospital. I just wanted to teach Black a lesson about pranking people.” His mouth dropped open in astonishment as he heard Evans explain this.
“You can’t back out now. What’s done is done. If they find out you did it, they’ll never leave you alone,” Snape answered.
“I didn’t exactly act alone, Severus. And I didn’t mean to get Potter. He wasn’t in on the prank. I just wasn’t sure which stuff belonged to Black.”
Peter grinned. So, that was it. And he was the only one who knew. He walked smugly into Potions and sat next to Lupin. “I have some news,” he whispered. “But I think we should save it for lunch time and the hospital ward.”
The boys didn’t have to take their lunch in the hospital ward because by lunch, Sirius and James joined them, rash completely gone. Peter gaped at James. “How did it clear up so suddenly?”
“Sirius’s cousin. Pomfrey was going on and on about how nice Narcissa was to write to her mother and ask her for the potion she had used to clear up Bellatrix’s poison hyacinth rash. Pomfrey found a powder on our bedding and in our drawers though, so ours wasn’t from swimming in ponds.”
“Do you think it was Narcissa, and she just felt guilty? How else would she know that the potion from Aunt Druella would work?” Sirius asked.
Now it was Peter’s turn to shine. “It wasn’t Black. It was Evans and Snape. They were trying to teach Sirius a lesson about pranking.”
“How did you find out?” James asked.
“I overheard them talking to each other outside of Potions.” Peter grinned.
“Evans! I’ll kill her!” Sirius stood up.
“Wait. Why did Evans get me too?” James asked.
“Maybe she wasn’t sure which bed was Sirius’s. I don’t know,” Peter answered. “But she did tell Snape that she didn’t mean to get you. They didn’t see me listening.”
James looks softened considerably. “It’s not her fault. Not mostly. It’s Snape.” He practically spit out Snape’s name. Then his voice took some authority to it and Peter knew who had finally become the alpha male of their group. “We’ll get her, but in little ways. We have to win her to our side. Show her what a git Snape really is. But we wait. Malfoy is looking out for Snivellous now. So is your cousin. Malfoy will be gone in just over two months. Your cousin in another year. Then the real war against Snape will begin.”
The other boys nodded in agreement, knowing that their Hogwarts careers just got a little bit more interesting.