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