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December 5th, 2006

(no subject) @ 04:53 am

wee_little_me:

Title: Trailing Whisps of Ambiguity
Author: rakina
Rating: NC-17
Parings: Harry/Snape
Genres: general
Warnings: Under 18 - Harry is still at school. Snape is a vampire, isn’t he? Includes Voyeurism and excessive sherry consumption; and various sexual acts to be a Voyeur at, if you follow me.
Word Count: 1/2=5597 2/2=6535
Status: Complete. 2 chapters.
Summary: This is the sequel to In Case Snape Decided to Eat Him. Sybill Trelawney is, as everyone knows, an old fraud. She certainly isn't heroic, she is a sensitive soul who shouldn't have to deal with such nasty truths.
Review: I havent read In Case Snape Decides to Eat Him, but the story makes perfect sense without it. Its well writen snarry from TRELAWNEY'S!!! perspective.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2


“Now, if we’re all here, Minerva will pass out the latest papers from the Ministry. These things are tiresome, but we would all be well advised to ensure our classes meet the new guidelines. We do not want a task force of crusading educational reformers descending on our venerable castle, do we?”
“Perish the thought!” Professor Flitwick squeaked. He had been teaching Charms for long enough to know his classes worked very well and Hogwarts turned out well-trained witches and wizards, at least in the area of Charms. Why, only last year Descendius Slope had won the All-Schools Medal for his final year experimental charm-work – a very fine spell designed to slow a person’s fall, whether it be from a broom, down a flight of stairs, or any mishap that resulted in a body uncontrollably obeying the force of gravity in a rapidly downward direction. Yes, Filius knew his pupils received the best education possible. What did those Ministry idiots know about educating children anyway?
“I foresee problems in the future -”, Sybill Trelawney began in her fluting, mystical voice which everyone present knew was assumed, her normal accent being that of her native county of Essex.
“Well, there’s a novelty!” Snape interrupted her before she could expand on what she might have Seen. “If we had a staff meeting where you didn’t foresee problems I am quite sure we would all expire from the shock.”
Sybill frowned at Snape. Really, he was such a bitter person. Not for the first time, she wondered what she would learn if she could take his teacup back up to the North Tower with her. She was sure she would be able to find out what had made him this way – there must be more to it than his Death Eater past; perhaps he was unlucky in love. Sybill snorted at the ridiculous thought and covered it by pulling a lacy handkerchief from her blouse’s neckline (the others didn’t like to think where she kept it) and fluttering it in front of her face. Of course Snape was unlucky in love – it was unthinkable that anybody would want to have any intimate contact with such an unfortunate. Snape was as unappealing physically as he was personality-wise. Really, it was quite bad enough that Sybill had to encounter him at meetings and feasts when she was required to leave her tower to answer the headmaster’s ‘invitations’.
But Snape was as paranoid as he was unpleasant; at the end of meetings he banished his cup with a wave of his wand, ensuring no unauthorised person got the chance to extract bodily fluids, hair or anything else magically useful from the items he had used. When Minerva impatiently shoved a sheaf of papers into Sybill’s hands – apparently she’d been speaking to her for a while with no response – Sybill gave up the useless line of thought and tuned back into the meeting.
Peace reigned; everyone was occupied reading the small print of their subject’s guidelines, their new, improved, Ministry-issued guidelines.
Well, it was peaceful if you ignored the random snorts, huffs and groans that escaped from the readers. And if you successfully blanked out the muttered cries of ‘Ridiculous!’, ‘Whatever next?’, several occurrences of ‘By Merlin!’ and even a shout of ‘Goliath’s gonads!’ from Hagrid.
After ten minutes or so, Albus clapped his hands to get his staff’s attention. “Well, shall we have some tea and discuss this?”
It was a purely rhetorical question, because everyone was always served with tea whether they wanted it or not. Severus had learned not to object, he’d even accepted the wisdom of drinking the beverage if he wanted to make any progress towards meaningful debate. His fellow staff-members also knew this, so Albus’ announcement was met with no dissension.
There was a lull while the house elves served them. Sybill watched her own elf, Dilly, who was exclusively allocated to her service. She caught the little elf’s eye. Dilly knew what the Divination teacher wanted, and she trembled.
Trelawney had told the elf to keep a watching brief. The day would come – she had Seen it – when Professor Severus Snape, the Darkest wizard in the castle, would neglect his usual routine. Then, Dilly was to act. She was to bring Severus Snape’s teacup to Sybill, and Sybill would reward her with a brand new lacy handkerchief of her very own. Handkerchiefs did not count as ‘clothes’, like tea towels they were mere accessories, and Dilly wanted to possess one more than she wanted anything else in the elfverse. She would be the envy of all the Hogwarts’ elves. Well, excepting that weird creature Dobby, who was so abnormal you didn’t have to consider his opinion anyway.
As the meeting drew on, Sybill resigned herself to the thought that, yet again, she would come away empty-handed. She could easily take Hagrid’s huge cup, or Hooch’s, or Minerva’s, but it was the unobtainable that she wanted… the holy grail of Hogwarts staff cups. She sighed.
And then all hell broke loose.
“I’ll hex the bastards into Fairyland!” Snape roared. “And they’ll go without their balls, or my name’s not Snape.”
Albus’ mild expression showed a ripple of distress, but it soon passed. He had plenty of experience at handling his most volatile staff member by now. Minerva, although she had as many years’ experience, had not yet come to terms with Snapish temper tantrums.
“Really, Severus. Control your language. What kind of example are you presenting to the students?”
Snape sneered at her, as he always did when she chided him. “Students, Minerva? Do they attend staff meetings these days? Has that insufferable know-it-all Granger been appointed Staff Adviser already?”
“Of course not, but if you get into the habit of coming out with such language, you’ll forget yourself and do it in front of the students one day.”
“I have more control of the students than anyone here,” Snape growled. “They do as I tell them, and quickly, so there is no need to lose control of my language in the dungeons, I can assure you.”
“Now, now, let us not get sidetracked,” Dumbledore interrupted. “What made you make that… outburst just now, Severus?”
Severus’ eyes reluctantly released the fixed power-glare he’d attached on the deputy headmistress in the hope that he could cause her to vanish under the heat of his scrutiny, and swivelled around to face his boss.
“There is a clause here, number 18c,” he told Albus as he pointed with a yellow, stained finger at the offending piece of parchment. “It states that those of us who are Masters of our subjects,” here Snape paused and directed sneers towards Sybill and Hagrid, who were not so qualified, “have to be retested. We have to pass a Ministry-written paper. Those dolts at the ministry are no better than children when it comes to Potions, or Dark Arts for that matter. I would fail them all if they were in my senior class. Trolls, the lot of them.” Severus’ voice was beginning to rise in agitation again.
Defence Against the Dark Arts, Severus,” Dumbledore chided quietly. “I am sure you have nothing to worry about academically. And that applies to my entire staff; I have every confidence that you will all fulfil these new, and somewhat pointless, guidelines without difficulty.” Dumbledore paused and beamed at each of the anxious-looking attendees. “Indeed, in my opinion these guidelines are little more than a time-wasting exercise.”
“Well, you may have time to waste, Albus,” Severus continued, still very disgruntled. “But I do not. If you wish me to continue with that Wolfsbane experiment –”
“Yes, yes; well, we’ll discuss this at greater length later,” Albus interposed. When the conversation threatened to turn towards Order business, it was time to move on. “I think we should all take our papers and study them at our leisure in our quarters. And as that is the only order of business this evening we may as well disperse to do just that. Unless, of course, anyone has any other problems?”
“Albus, I really need to talk about the School Fund for Charity Brooms,” Hooch said.
Severus groaned. “Of course, let us concentrate on Quidditch. Perish the thought that something of importance to education should be discussed.”
“I have told you before-” Hooch began, jumping to her feet.
“Yes, you have. At tedious length that has convinced me of nothing except the veracity of my perception of Quidditch, which is at best an inane distraction from the important academic function of this school -”
“Yes, yes, Severus,” Albus had raised his voice now, and although it could not be called a shout, it focussed all the teachers’ attention back to him. “This meeting is over. Rolanda, I will speak to you privately in a moment.”
Hooch, mollified and hopeful of further funds for the provision of decent brooms to pupils from low income families, bit back her next comment and sat down.
Severus swept to his feet in his usual dramatic fashion. Black robes billowed as he stalked out of the room, still highly agitated by the Ministry interference in his teaching methods. He was widely acknowledged by those who knew anything about the subject to be the best potions researcher for years. If things had been different, he would have been feted, wealthy and popular by now. Swallowing the bitter bile of self-recrimination for the bad choices of his youth, Severus was, for a wonder, distracted enough to leave his cup un-banished.
Sybill fluttered to her feet, her deep-sleeved, filmy blouse trembling in the movement of air as she rose. She caught Dilly’s eye and the little elf flashed a nervous grin before turning and gathering Severus’ cup up with Sybill’s own and disappearing to the kitchens.
Sybill felt she was floating on air as she drifted back to the North Tower. Ministry guidelines could wait; she had something far more important to read this evening.

***

Sybill entered the sitting room in her tower and immediately set an early-warning charm to let her know if anyone approached. Normally, no one did. Few made the journey to the castle’s farthest tower, unless for a lesson or a reading. Sybill made a few extra galleons from private readings; she had posters up in The Three Broomsticks, the Hogsmeade Post Office and the public library. She had posted one in The Hog’s Head for a while, but after an unfortunate episode with an unsatisfied hag who complained when her promised tall, dark stranger hadn’t appeared after six months – she had refused to accept Hagrid as the promised beau – Sybill had removed it.
Sybill poured a nice glass of sherry and set it on her little table before sinking into her comfiest armchair. The relaxing atmosphere of the room was necessary for her to reach her best Seeing state. Her glass was large, able to hold a good half-pint of Sybill’s chosen tipple. The incense was burning at just the right level – the Mystic Seer blend that she saved for her own use; the children got the cheaper Out Of This World brand. Just the right number of candles flickered at strategic points around the room to create weird shadows and a mysterious ambience. The Other World was very close, once Sybill settled she would immediately travel to The Beyond.
Dilly popped in carrying the precious cup cradled against her scrawny chest. Her eyes, which were normally prominent, positively bugged out. “Here it is, mistress. Dilly has brought you Professor Snape’s cup,” she squeaked.
“Thank you, Dilly. You have done marvellously,” Sybill enthused, holding out her hand. “You are sure nobody saw you take it?”
“I is sure, mistress. I was quick and nobody watches house elves picking up crockery, no indeed.”
Sybill supposed that was no more than the truth as she waited for the elf to pass over the cup. But Dilly continued to clutch the cup to her chest and Sybill wondered what the problem was, until she remembered her promise. “Oh, of course, I promised you a handkerchief, didn’t I?” she cried, and got up and crossed to a chest of drawers which was covered with candle-holders, incense-burners, amulets and divination tools of many kinds. When Sybill pulled open the second drawer down, the whole lot rattled as if Hogwarts was on the receiving end of a minor earthquake.
“Here you are, and very well deserved,” Sybill said as she returned to her seat and handed Dilly a small, white handkerchief with silver lace around the edge.
Dilly gasped in delight and almost shoved the cup into Sybill’s hands as she grasped her prize. “Thank you, mistress. I is so happy!” That said, Dippy Disapparated without even asking if Sybill needed anything further; she couldn’t wait to show that big-head Dippy, he’d have to eat his words now. The other elves always pitied her for her North Tower duty, but now she’d show them.
Sybill took the cup. Fine china, of course; Albus never served tea in any other kind. This one had a delicate blue pattern of Chinese phoenixes flying around it. They were motionless at present, but once hot tea was poured into the cup the birds would start to describe graceful arcs around the outside. Sybill sighed with contentment and settled down to her reading.
Looking inside, she let out a startled cry and almost dropped the cup.

***

Severus had an uneasy feeling; something was wrong. Something had happened; he felt it in the marrow of his bones. He grimaced as he swept down to his dungeons, Ministry papers clutched in his hand as if he would crumple them into submission. He couldn’t for the life of him think what could possibly be wrong. It had only been one of Albus’ routine staff chinwags, and therefore immediately forgettable. Even with the Ministry tomfoolery it was an irrelevance. Nothing serious could be the matter – Potter hadn’t been mentioned once. In Severus’ experience, Harry Potter equalled trouble; one rarely arrived without the other following close behind.
He entered his rooms, warded his doors for the night, and headed for the firewhisky bottle. That would banish this sense of wrongness.
Banish! He hadn’t banished his cup. He called himself every kind of idiot for making such a first-year blunder, but it was too late now.
He poured a double measure of the whisky and scowled as he sipped it. The elves would have dealt with it; there was no reason to worry.

***

Sybill was a Mistress of Tessomancy. She had seen it all in her time at Hogwarts. Well, she would have said she had, if anybody had asked. But she had never seen anything like this.
Even Potter’s Grim, as plain as the nose on your face, had been nothing – a mere footnote – compared to this.
Severus Snape’s cup held tea leaves, of course. But Sybill could not read them.
None of the leaves were in the bottom of the cup. Instead, they seemed to climb up the sides of the vessel, in imitation of the ivy on the outside of her tower. The remaining liquid, a little pool in the bottom of the cup, was in its proper place, so it was unbelievable that the leaves should seem to be shrinking away from it, trying to climb out.
Sybill, Mistress of Tessomancy, was buggered. “I’ll be buggered,” she opined in her twangy, Essex accent.
“Although hopefully not by Severus Snape,” she added, shuddering as she looked at the aberration that was his teacup.

***

Sybill donned her fine, multi-layered, grey, silk cloak. It could get chilly in the corridors after curfew, and she rarely went far, except to ensure the uninterrupted supply of sherry that was merely a divinatory prop. Without the right frame of mind, The Beyond was uncooperative. Sherry was just one of the tools Sybill used to reach that state; it was the only reason she drank it.
As she entered the library she noticed the lights were still on near to the librarian’s station. Pince was cataloguing, or ordering books, or some such mundane activity required for the running of the place. Sybill had rarely spoken to the woman, who was almost as sharp and disagreeable in nature as the Potions master. Well, only almost.
“Sybill?” Pince looked up in surprise as she heard soft footsteps and the accompanying flutter of many layers of silk. “You’re a rare visitor.”
“As you know, Irma, I have my own personal library handed down by my family. It rarely lets me down. However, I am short of one volume and decided I would need to visit the library. It is wholly admirable the way you have this place running, Irma. For students it must have all they need.”
“Hogwarts’ library goes much further than that,” Pince replied, anxious to ensure that this vapid visitor did not go away with the impression it was a mere school library. “A thousand years of collecting have resulted in the most impressive magical library this side of the Alps. I am sure you will find something to help you with your problem. What aspect of Divination are you struggling with?”
Sybill drew herself up to her full height, which was impressive for a woman. How dare this mere shelver of books imply that she needed help with Divination? She was no fairground palm-reader!
“I do not need help. I merely need to check a historic reference. And I am quite capable of finding the book, thank you, Irma.” Sybill stalked off, much less airily than she normally did. In fact, she’d lost her mystic air completely.
Irma Pince watched her go towards the Restricted Section. Stupid creature! Who did she think she was fooling? She’d left behind a cloud of incense fumes and a hint of sherry in the air. The woman was a drunk who contributed nothing useful to the running of the school, in Irma’s opinion. Everybody knew Divination was a subject chosen by students who needed soft options, the type who couldn’t do Potions or Arithmancy, and even struggled with Herbology. Irma returned to her perusal of the latest issue of Library Update, determined to use her share of Hogwarts’ budget for the benefit of real teachers she could admire… like Professor Snape.
Sybill found the Divination section. It was copious, though most of the books looked quite old. Never mind, what she was looking for wasn’t likely to be a recent find, or she’d have read about it in The Mystic’s Mirror, or possibly The Quibbler.
Two hours later Sybill found it. The book was old, and the pages brownish. Sybill didn’t want to consider what the vellum was made from. The study had got difficult; the hand-written books were hard on the eyes as the writing went back through time, passing through Victorian copperplate to almost foreign-looking medieval script.
Cocksnicket’s Complete Liquid Diviner was no more than a series of anecdotes and opinions left by the fifteenth-century witch Acetabulum Cocksnicket. In those days, the leaves were herbal rather than tea, but the principle was the same. The witch was fond of making up little rhymes, mnemonics for the intellectually challenged, in Sybill’s opinion, but charming. Most were rubbish, but this one just might mean something:

If the leaves will not talk,
the wight cannot walk.

The wretched woman hadn’t elaborated much, just a sentence or two about cups that couldn’t be read. It was the only reference Sybill had found to unreadable tealeaves. It had to be the answer!
Wight, of course, was an old word for person, usually man. ‘Cannot walk’ was a puzzler. Severus Snape walked a lot, and very definitely. Indeed, he swooped, batlike. Sybill frowned.
Perhaps it meant that the man couldn’t walk in a normal fashion. Snape moved dramatically, he almost flew across the hallways, black robes flapping. Really, the man could play Dracula without makeup.
Sybill’s blood ran cold. Maybe the wight couldn’t walk meant he was dead. Was Snape a zombie? An Inferius? Undead?
All a-flutter, Sybill rushed out of the library, passing a startled Irma Pince who was now writing out her order ready to send to the Wizard’s Book Depository.
“I bet she hasn’t even put the books back,” Pince grumbled.

***

“Hey, have you noticed Trelawney?” Ron asked as he took his seat for lunch. It was his first meal in the Great Hall since he’d been let out of the hospital wing. He’d finally been pronounced bubble-free by Pomfrey when she examined him after breakfast.
Hermione glanced at the staff table and was surprised to see the Divination professor sitting there eating her meal with the rest of the teachers. Trelawney rarely ventured down from her tower and Hermione rarely thought of her.
“I bet she’s here to make sure Harry goes to her lesson,” Ron continued, grinning.
“Yeah, she loves me that much,” Harry said.
“Well, you know she does. You’re her pet victim.”
“Ridiculous!” Hermione said, summing up her opinion of the subject and its teacher.
“Snape doesn’t look happy,” Ron continued, still studying the staff.
“And that’s news?” Harry asked.
“I mean he looks worse than usual,” Ron said. “And he keeps glaring at her. She keeps looking at him and he doesn’t like it, you can tell.”
Harry wanted to steer the conversation off the subject of Snape. He hoped Ron’s recent mishap had taught him not to bother Snape and Harry had already decided he wouldn’t be joining Ron on a Snape-hunt again. Harry needed Ron to stay in the dorm and sleep tonight, because Harry had an appointment he had to keep in the dungeons. Alone.
“Yeah, well, that just shows how normal he is,” Harry said.
“She’s staring at Harry as well,” Hermione observed. “First Professor Snape, then Harry. Her head goes from one to the other. Maybe she’s trying to work out who to issue a prediction about next.”
“She looks like a weathervane,” Harry grumbled. “Anyway, I glare at her just like Snape does when she keeps pestering me. Unfortunately, she’s pretty glare-proof. You know it’s Divination straight after lunch, don’t you?” Harry redirected the conversation a little.
“Yeah,” Ron answered. “Did you do those studies into the Minor Arcana?”
“Yeah. Two, three and four of swords. I can see why the whole deck takes a term; it’s a lot more complicated than you’d think. All that stuff you can read just from a card with numbers on it.”
“Rubbish,” Hermione said.
Ron and Harry sniggered. It was a shame Hermione wasn’t still taking Divination, it would have kept them awake in class sometimes.

***

Really, Severus was as prickly at mealtimes as he was in meetings. No wonder the students were constantly moaning about him. Sybill had found someone had carved death to snape on their table in the place allotted to card spreads. She had been annoyed at the desecration and the interruption to the harmony of her room, but in a way she could sympathise with the anonymous carver. Sybill was glad she wasn’t his student; she could just imagine how unfair and harsh he might be. She shivered and turned to the matter of the moment, the fifth year students.
“You have all handed in your essays and I will return them next week. Meanwhile, I think it is time we indulged in a little revision. Your OWLs are approaching more quickly than you realise, and my Inner Eye has detected some deficiencies in your memories. Particularly you…” she pointed at Ron and Harry. “So we will spend the lesson revising Tessomancy.”
“That’s better than the Tarot,” Harry whispered. “At least we’ll get a cup of tea and it’s not difficult.”
Ron nodded and got up to get their tea things as directed by the teacher. The process of tea preparation was simple now they were in their fifth year, and they all conjured a pot of steaming tea. Harry was ‘mother’ and poured.
Harry drank his tea with a sinking feeling that wasn’t just the liquid going down into his stomach. He knew Trelawney would read his cup and he knew she’d find something terrible there. He didn’t need the Inner Eye to predict that.
“Let me see your cup, boy,” she said, pointing at Harry. It gave Harry no satisfaction at all that he’d been right.
Sybill took the cup and peered inside. She staggered back a little and held onto the back of Neville’s chair to steady herself. “Oh… oh, my!”
Harry put on his most bored expression ready for the dire prediction, but surprisingly Trelawney didn’t say anything else, she took the teacup with her and sat on her own chair, peering inside. Becoming aware that the class had gone quiet, she looked up to see them all watching her.
“Well, get on with your readings. I will do Mr Potter’s myself.” She flapped a hand to reinforce her decision. Once satisfied they were working again and beginning to discuss their findings, she turned back to the cup.
It was just extraordinary. Whatever did it mean? It had to be a fluke, or a problem with the tea blend, perhaps this type had sticky leaves or something. Sybill chided herself for being ridiculous. As a Seer she should know not to ignore evidence or try to explain it away, only fools failed to take note of omens.
Potter’s teacup had some leaves in a pattern in the bottom, but it also had some ivy-like trails around the sides. The only other cup she’d ever seen like that was one she’d seen mere hours ago – Snape’s. Was there a connection between the dark Potions master and the Boy Who Lived? That’s what the cup was telling Sybill.
The centre leaf-pattern spoke of dark times ahead, but that was almost boringly normal for Potter, and Sybill ignored it. No, the leaves were talking and leading her to another path entirely. Back towards Snape.
Sybill walked around the class discussing their progress, peering into each cup, but of course none of the others had climbing leaves. She returned to Potter’s table where his partner Ron Weasley looked suspiciously like he was asleep. She had taken Potter’s cup, but just because Weasley didn’t have a reading to do, didn’t excuse him, he should have taken note of what Potter was saying about his own cup. Foolish boy! The unwary were destined to be surprised.
“Mr Weasley!” she shrilled, her voice far more strident than normal, an undercurrent of Romford in the inflection. Yes, he had been asleep; he’d snorted like a pig and jumped when she spoke.
“What do the Fates have in store for you?”
The boy went as red as his hair – not a pretty sight – and stuttered, looking for help towards Potter. She let him bluster for a while, then said, “I can see you are not proficient at this discipline, as of course I had foreseen. You will do ten readings before our next lesson, complete with diagrams and interpretations. I will get you to be a Tessomancer, whatever it takes.”
Ron’s face was a picture of dismay. Sybill turned to Harry. “And you, Mr Potter, will stay behind after this lesson. I need to speak with you about your reading. Privately.”
“But it’s Potions next, Professor,” said Harry. “Snape will give me detention if I’m late.”
“I will write you a note for Professor Snape,” Sybill fluted sweetly. Potter had to do better than that if he wanted to get out of this, and she wasn’t about to let him. It was crucial that she had another look at his teacup.
As Trelawney wandered away in her usual aimless manner, Ron frowned at Harry. “Can you believe it? Ten bloody Tessomancy readings, with bloody diagrams!”
“I’d rather do those than stay behind with her,” Harry grumbled.
“Yeah… you might have a point. She always makes a beeline for you. You don’t think she fancies you, do you?”
Harry groaned at that; the thought made him feel quite ill. “I wish you hadn’t said that, Ron,” he moaned.

***

Harry’s suspicions were aroused further when the others left the room after their lesson. Trelawney patted the chair next to her own and Harry walked towards her.
“Harry, my dear, I wanted you to stay so I could check your reading. I have worked out what that first cup told me, but I would like you to give me another. It needs further study.”
“I don’t think I ought to,” Harry objected. “It’s Potions next.”
“And why should that matter? What is a cup of tea between… friends?” Sybill asked, trying to put the boy at ease. Really, she had never been good with children; it was so hard to get on the same plane. Sybill’s mind worked on a completely different level.
Harry’s problems were twofold now. Trelawney wanted to get cosy, and Snape was going to take Harry’s tardiness as a gift. “Well, Professor Snape will be annoyed that I’m late - ”
“I have told you, dear boy, I will give you a note. Severus will be fine.”
What planet is she orbiting at the moment? Harry wondered. Snape was never fine, and Harry had seen no reason for Trelawney to be confident in that direction. “And then if I drink any more I’ll need to go to the toilet, and he won’t let me out of his class.”
“Nonsense, nonsense. Don’t be nervous, dear boy. You can go to the toilet on the way to the dungeons. There is nothing to be afraid of,” she twittered as she poured them each a fresh brew into new teacups. “Now, drink up and let’s get started. When I have done the reading, I will tell you if there is anything you need to be aware of. I think there will be,” she enthused.
Sybill took Harry’s cup once he’d finished his tea. Really, the boy liked his tea hot; it would scold Sybill’s mouth to drink hers that quickly. Ah… yes… the same again. A small pattern in the base and a fair number of leaves trying to defy gravity. Odd, most odd. Snapeish.
“There is an oddness about your teacup, Harry,” she began, noting with pleasure the wary look on his face. At least this child was beginning to take her pronouncements seriously.
Harry was convinced by now that Ron had got it right. Trelawney fancied him. What could be worse?
Sybill continued, “The central pattern speaks of a darkness in your future. It is very close to you; in fact it is right on top of you!”
Harry felt a shiver run down his spine. Trelawney was usually easy to disregard, but today felt ominous. It was Ron’s fault, that’s all it was.
“You are in danger, dear boy. Your cup is strange…” her voice trailed off and Harry let it go.
Trelawney sat staring into the pattern without speaking. After about a minute she looked up; her eyes were dilated, out of focus. Harry wanted nothing more than to go to Potions. That’s how uncomfortable he felt.
“Well, you may go,” Sybill said.
“Umm… the note?” Harry quavered.
Trelawney took parchment and quill from the desk behind her and wrote a line or two, signing with a ridiculously curly flourish. Harry took the note gratefully and lost no time getting out.
By the time Harry had stopped at the boy’s loos and made himself as comfortable as he could, he entered Snape’s class twenty minutes late.
Snape’s eyes flashed when the classroom door opened and Harry walked in. His thin lips stretched into a welcoming smile – the sort of smile a python gives to a mouse. Harry could see the trouble brewing and hurried forward, note brandished in front of him. “I had to stay behind after Divination, sir,” he gabbled.
Snape’s expression soured as he took the note. “My, my, Mr Potter. Special treatment in Divination now. Is there no professor in this school who can treat you as an ordinary pupil? Oh, yes, of course. There’s me.”
Harry didn’t answer, but he didn’t join his friends’ table; he knew better than to walk away from Snape.
Severus scanned the note:

My dear Severus,

Well, that was annoying for a start. Snape’s sour expression turned dangerous.

I was forced to ask Harry to stay behind. His reading signalled that he is in danger, imminently. There is a dark force about to overwhelm the boy. Please take special care of him whenever he is in your hands. Oh, and please excuse his lateness, it was entirely my fault.
Sybill.


“Well, well,” Snape muttered again. Perhaps Trelawney wasn’t such an old fraud after all. Maybe she could See, sometimes. And Severus would be sure to take very special care of Harry, once he was in his hands. He smiled his welcoming smile once more.

Harry watched the reaction to his note and felt ill. If it made Snape happy, it must be awful. But Trelawney was an old fraud, everybody knew that.
“I hope you manage to survive this lesson, Potter. It would appear that you are in imminent danger, according to our resident Seer. And she is correct! You are in imminent danger of a detention if you do not get over to your desk and assist your friends.”
Harry scrambled over to Ron and Hermione, desperate to return to normality. Normality for Potions class, anyway.
 
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