“The Sorting of Suzie Sefton”
Chapter Four: Buzzing Humbugs
Suzie hears more Slytherin gossip, gets to know more members of Slytherin House, and has reason to worry about her Head of House.
Characters: Suzie Sefton, Draco Malfoy, others
Chapter Four: Buzzing Humbugs
Tuesday, 1 September 1998
The next morning, Suzie woke before the Charmed globe lit itself. She still wasn’t sure how the Automagical candles worked, so she lay there in the near pitch-black darkness, the only light coming from the crack at the bottom of the door. She hadn’t slept well. First, one of the other girls—Beryl Burbage, Suzie thought—had cried into her pillow behind her curtains until she fell asleep. Suzie felt sorry for her, but it made her think about her own home, her own bed, her own toys, dolls, music, bicycle, and everything else she was missing, especially her mother and father. She lay awake trying to think instead about the adventures ahead of her and not about the pit in her stomach, caused this time not by nausea, but by homesickness. Then sometime in the middle of the night, after she had finally fallen asleep, one of the other girls had gotten up and stumbled around in the dark, gone to the loo, leaving the bedroom door open so she could easily find the right door again, and then come back a few minutes later to climb back into bed. The light from the corridor had succeeded in thoroughly waking Suzie, though, and she could see the advantage to pulling her curtains around her bed as three of the other girls had.
The minutes and seconds seemed to creep by, and then the globe began to glow gently, gradually becoming brighter. Suzie swung her legs out of bed, grabbed the clothes that she had set out the night before, and shuffled off to the bathroom. She didn’t want to wait in a queue to wash her face and brush her teeth. She hadn’t had a shower the night before, but she decided that would have to wait until that night, since she didn’t know when the prefects would be by to bring them up to breakfast.
It was chilly in the dungeons in the morning, and as soon as she’d washed her face, Suzie quickly pulled on the clothes she’d selected: black jeans, a green blouse with ruffles at the cuffs, and a grey zippered sweatshirt. She made sure that her green ruffles were neatly pulled out from the grey sweatshirt’s sleeves. It wasn’t layers of black, but it would do. Back in the bedroom, she pulled the bedclothes up, straightened the pillow, and then sat on the edge of her bed to pull on her black trainers. They were new and had cool velcro tabs instead of laces. She had a pair of white ones with cute, colourful little bugs on them, but she thought the black ones were more grown-up and Slytherin-looking.
Beryl, Xenia, Lida, and Mary were all moving around, rummaging through their bags and trunks, finding clothes to wear. They seemed still half-asleep, so Suzie picked up her knapsack, which she’d readied the night before on Perpetua’s advice, and looked through it to make sure she had everything she needed. Charms, Transfiguration, Herbology, Potions, and History of Magic textbooks, and the first two Defence textbooks; dragonhide gloves for Herbology; three pens, a fat notebook, several sheets of parchment in a neat folder, and two quills and a bottle of ink. At home, she’d practised writing with a quill, but it gave her writer’s cramp, and she still preferred her pens. Since everyone else would be using quills, she’d try using them, too. There might be other Muggle-borns in her classes, though, and they might use pens. She assumed that she wouldn’t need anything for Astronomy, which everyone at the feast had confirmed was only taught after dark. Her wand was on her bedside table, and she’d put it in her wand pocket after she put on her school robe.
Suzie opened the drawer to her bedside table and considered the contents—the sweets remaining from the train ride the day before—but decided to save them for later and not put any in her book bag.
She was just pulling on her school robe—now with a Slytherin patch on it, somehow magically appearing overnight—when Ursula, Elizabeth, and Perpetua came in, knocking as they opened the door.
“Okay, you lot! Breakfast! Come on! Don’t want to be late! You get your schedules this morning, too, so you need to be prepared to go straight to class from the Great Hall,” Ursula said. “Got your wands? Come on, Beryl, get your shoes on!”
“I haven’t been to the loo yet,” Lida whined, her hairbrush in one hand and her left shoe in the other. Her pleated plaid skirt was askew, too.
“Well, hurry up! Elizabeth, you stay here with the slowcoaches. Anyone who’s ready, come with me and Perpetua now, all right!”
Suzie shoved her wand into her wand pocket, smiling again at its warmth, and followed Mary and Xenia out with Ursula and Perpetua. They met the first-year boys in the company of the other wizards. Suzie smiled at Asghar and noted that Marion seemed to be having the same trouble getting started that Lida and Beryl were having, since he and Kevin Harper were both missing. Together, the eleven students trooped up to the ground floor and the Great Hall, where students were already eating and talking noisily.
As Suzie waved across the Hall at Toni, who smiled and waved back, she saw Professor Snape walking along the edge of the room, heading toward the back of the Hall. Remembering what Perpetua had said to her the night before, Suzie watched him carefully. She didn’t know what Professor Snape usually looked like, but he looked fine to her now, standing tall and walking with purpose, his black robe sweeping behind him dramatically. Perhaps he was a bit pale, and there were dark circles under his eyes, but he no doubt had cares and worries that weighed him down. He didn’t proceed to the staff table, as Suzie had expected he would, though, but opened a small door, disappearing behind it.
Suzie shrugged to herself and settled down to eat. She reached for the box of cereal making its way down the table, deciding to be careful of what she ate that morning, as Madam Pomfrey had recommended. There was a pitcher of pumpkin juice making the rounds, but she’d tried it last night and thought it was pretty gruesome. Instead, she poured herself a mug of tea and put a lot of milk in it. A breakfast like she had every day at home couldn’t be bad for her, she thought, missing with a sudden twinge the sound of her mother’s singing as she juiced some fresh fruit or pulled some homemade muffins from the oven. Suzie swallowed hard and ate her corn flakes.
Suzie was just finishing her breakfast when Professor Snape reappeared, stared out across the room, then strode toward the main doors and left the Hall. Suzie hoped he’d had breakfast. Her mother always said it was a mistake to go without breakfast, though her father only ever had coffee, waiting a couple hours before he had something to eat. Maybe Professor Snape was like her father that way, and he’d have an egg and cheese sandwich halfway through the morning.
The morning went by more quickly than Suzie could have thought possible, with Charms and Double Transfiguration taking the entire morning. In the afternoon, she would have Herbology, History of Magic, and Potions; the next morning, it would be Charms and Transfiguration again, with Defence added, but only Potions and Herbology in the afternoon. She was really looking forward to Potions. She knew she could make a better impression on Professor Snape. Of course, anything would be an improvement after having thrown up on him the evening before.
Slytherin first-years took Charms with Ravenclaw, and Suzie had immediately run over and given Toni a hug, feeling as though she was seeing an old friend. Toni was too surprised to reciprocate, but she grinned happily and the two girls had sat next to each other. They would also have Astronomy and History together, and they each promised to save the other a place, whoever arrived first.
At lunch, the Slytherin table was full of whispered rumours. It seemed that half the staff was missing from the Great Hall that noon, and someone said that Professor Snape was dying. Suzie was alarmed. Perpetua had been right: Professor Snape was ill.
“He’s not dying,” Kevin Harper said authoritatively. “He was taken sick during our class, but a house-elf appeared and Disapparated with him. I fetched Professor Dumbledore—he had me take over his third-year class—and Dumbledore said he was going straight to the infirmary. That must be where the house-elf brought him.”
“But why are so many other teachers missing, then?” Lettie Pepper asked, gesturing toward the staff table. The only Head of House present was Sharon Carter, the new Head of Gryffindor. “I was there, remember?! I saw him—it was dreadful.” She blinked hard, trying not to cry.
“Pull yourself together, Lettie,” Perpetua said. “I was there, too. He wasn’t dead. He was having a seizure of some sort. I’m sure the teachers are all doing whatever they need to in order to help Madam Pomfrey and the Headmistress with their work. It’s not exactly routine to have the Deputy Headmaster collapse on the first day of school.”
Suzie swallowed hard and nibbled at her cheese sandwich, listening to the older students debate what might have been wrong with their Head of House. She noticed that even in this discussion, Perpetua didn’t mention that they’d seen the school matron in the dungeons with a basket of potions the night before. She guessed that was Slytherin discretion. Knowing that Professor Snape had likely been sick the night before, as well, only increased Suzie’s worry rather than lessening it. She didn’t understand what he was doing, teaching when he was sick, especially if the matron knew he was ill. It was probably because he was a hero, she decided, and he simply did his duty no matter how he felt. She would have to take him as her example. After all, Professor Hagrid did say that he was the greatest Head of Slytherin in history. On the other hand, Professor Hagrid had also implied that Professor Snape didn’t have much fun. Suzie didn’t think she’d emulate him in that way. Maybe once he was feeling better, he could have more fun. She really had to read How the Light Side Won and find out what Professor Snape had done that made him such a great hero—besides almost dying.
Suzie had time before her next class, and she didn’t feel like listening to more speculation about Professor Snape’s condition and whether he had been the victim of a new curse or whether he’d just never completely recovered from his injuries of the previous May. She picked up her book bag and slung it over her shoulder. Lida, a few seats down, got up and followed her out to the entry hall.
“Want to sit on the front steps?” Suzie asked. “We’ve seen hardly anything of the grounds.”
Lida nodded. “Okay. That’s a good idea. Herbology should be fun. It’s out in the greenhouses. And now that Potions was cancelled, we have some time free after History of Magic. We could take a walk before Herbology.”
Suzie nodded, grabbing one of the door handles and pulling with both hands.
Suzie turned her head. A tall, slim, blond-haired Slytherin stood behind them with his wand drawn. Suzie let go of the door handle, then jumped out of the way when the door opened. The slim wizard’s grey eyes sparkled for a moment as he took in Suzie’s delight.
“Thanks! That was great!” Suzie said.
“This is Lida Shelby, and I’m Suzie Sefton.”
“I know. I believe that everyone has heard of Suzie Sefton, the witch who lost her lunch all over Severus Snape.” The grey eyes glinted with a touch of humour for a moment, then it was gone again.
“And you are . . .?”
“Wow! Draco! That’s gotta be the coolest name ever!”
Draco followed Lida and Suzie out the front doors and leaned against one of the large stone dragons that flanked the steps.
“You’re Draco Malfoy,” Lida said.
Draco twitched his shoulder.
“So, is ‘Draco’ like dragon?” Suzie asked, pointing at the dragon. “Like in ‘Draco dormiens numquam titillandus’?” She had carefully memorised the school’s motto, which had been at the top of her Hogwarts letter.
“Yeah, it is. These dragons are new, though,” he said, slapping the side of one. “Guess the steps were damaged, so they put these in when they fixed them.” The wizard’s grey eyes clouded over for a moment. “There’s another new one over the gates, with that motto you just quoted.”
“You must know Professor Snape really well,” Suzie said, having noted that this must be the Malfoy everyone had spoken of, and wanting to get to know him better but without sounding like she was being nosy.
“He wasn’t at school last year,” Lida interrupted.
“But you’re older, right?” Suzie asked, ignoring Lida. She didn’t want Draco to become annoyed and leave. “I mean, you were a student here before that?”
“Yes. I returned for my seventh year.” He paused, considering the little dark-haired witch in front of him. “I had to leave before the end of my sixth year. Family business.”
Suzie nodded. “I see. It’s good you could come back and finish school!”
Draco twitched a slight smile and looked out across the grounds to where some other students were throwing around a funny looking ball. Suzie thought he looked sad.
“Do you think Potions will be cancelled tomorrow, too?” Lida asked.
Draco shook his head. “They’ll find someone else to take it if Professor Snape is still ill. A couple years ago, when Professor Dumbledore was still Headmaster, he taught Transfiguration when Professor McGonagall was sick. I don’t think the Headmistress could teach Potions, but she could probably get someone else to. I think her brother’s a Potions master.”
“Yeah, he is,” Lida said importantly, obviously glad to show off some of her own knowledge. “My brother is doing his apprenticeship with him. He told me how Mr McGonagall blew up his own apothecary to fool Riddle. Lawrence didn’t know he was going to do it, but Mr McGonagall sent him to visit us for the weekend, and that’s when he exploded the shop, and with him and his wife in it, too. They weren’t hurt very much, but the apothecary was a complete wreck.”
“He blew up his own business?” Suzie asked. What kind of war was this?
“Yeah, Riddle was going to do all these attacks in Diagon Alley and McTavish Street, and of course, the Order of the Phoenix couldn’t let everyone know they knew about it, but they did, probably because of Professor Snape—the Daily Prophet didn’t say so, and my brother didn’t know, but you know it had to be Professor Snape who gave the warning—anyway, the Order of the Phoenix did what they could to close businesses and stuff so that fewer people would get hurt when the Death Eaters attacked. Mr McGonagall is the Headmistress’s brother, and since she was practically running the Order of the Phoenix—they say it was Arthur Weasley, but really, a Weasley?”
“The Weasleys are an old wizarding family,” Draco interrupted. “They have always been in the Order of the Phoenix. I wasn’t in the Order, but from what I understand from the papers, the Headmistress ran everything here at Hogwarts and was in charge of, well, the spy operation, and Arthur Weasley was the Head of the Order after Dumbledore . . . supposedly died. Weasley was one of the first out those doors during the final battle—well, not those doors, those are new.”
“You weren’t even here, Malfoy,” a voice came from behind them. It was Patterson, the one who had made the crack the night before in the common room.
“I wasn’t either,” Suzie said, turning to look up at Patterson. She didn’t see any reason not to like Draco, but Patterson annoyed her. She looked at his hands. No ring. Maybe he just wasn’t wearing his. But maybe he didn’t have one. “Did you actually see the battle? Were you there?”
“Well . . .” Patterson blushed and looked away.
Draco smirked and gave Suzie an appraising glance.
“Do you think that Professor Snape will be okay?” Lida asked no one in particular.
“I do. He’s got to be,” Suzie said fervently. “Madam Pomfrey’s probably giving him potions and he’ll be at dinner tonight.”
“I wouldn’t count on that,” Patterson said, coming down to sit beside the girls and leaning back on his elbows, stretching his long legs. “You don’t fall down in a fit because you have a cold—or an upset stomach.”
“I think he’ll recover,” Draco said, still leaning against the dragon, “but he didn’t look well last night. I hadn’t seen him in over a year, and I’ve never seen him looking like that.”
“He looked even worse at the end of last year, Malfoy,” Patterson said. “And I mean, that was before he was almost killed by the Dark Lord.”
“Riddle,” Draco said softly. “Call him by his right name, Patterson.”
“Yeah, well . . . I guess you’re right,” Patterson said, sounding subdued. “Professor Snape didn’t look very good last night, either.”
“He didn’t eat dinner, I noticed, or breakfast,” Draco said. “But I still think he’ll be all right. I’ve known him my whole life. He’s Snape. He’s Slytherin. He’s strong. He’s made it through everything else. He’ll make it through this, too.”
“And he’s being taken good care of, right?” Suzie asked. “I mean, it’s not like he collapsed when he was all by himself somewhere.”
“Right, here’s the best place to be sick, outside of St. Mungo’s,” Patterson said with a nod. He pulled a small white bag from his robe pocket and took a sweet from it. He popped it in his mouth. “Want one? Droobleberry-flavoured buzzing humbugs.” He held the bag out to the others, and Lida took one. She giggled as it buzzed in her mouth.
Draco took one and put it in his cheek. Suzie laughed as his cheek vibrated, and Draco winked at her. Patterson offered her the bag. Suzie shrugged. She’d hardly had any lunch, and she’d been good at breakfast. Regular Muggle mint humbugs had never made her sick. Her stomach felt fine. Just one wouldn’t hurt. She took out one of the stripy green and purple humbugs and put it in her mouth. As soon as it touched her tongue, it began to buzz, and she burst into giggles.
“They buzz till you get to the centre, unless you bite them. It’s better to suck them,” Lida explained.
“You’re a Muggle-born?” Patterson asked.
Suzie nodded, sucking on the humbug. She’d have to get more of these somehow.
“I thought there was something . . . um, different, about you,” Patterson said, one eyebrow raised.
“Her excitement at an opened door was my first clue,” Draco said with a good-natured grin. Suzie liked Draco.
Patterson laughed. “Oh, yeah, that’s some amazing spell. Have to be careful how you use your wand in the beginning, Sefton, or it’ll explode on you, and they don’t let you get another one for a whole year. Don’t go trying anything dangerous with it, like opening doors—or bottles of butterbeer!”
Lida giggled, but Suzie’s eyes widened. Her wand could explode?
“Don’t listen to Patterson. He’s just an old gas basket. Always has been,” Draco said. “It’d be really hard to blow up your own wand just by using it. Probably impossible.”
“Oh, good,” Suzie said, clearly relieved. She couldn’t imagine trying to find another wand if hers exploded. It had taken long enough to find one the first time.
“Time to get back in—Defence next,” Patterson said, standing. “Are you taking Defence, Malfoy?”
Draco shook his head. “I’ll make sure these two find their next class. What’s your next class?” he asked, turning to the girls.
“History of Magic,” Lida said.
“The book looked really interesting,” Suzie said. Her humbug wasn’t buzzing as much. She must be almost to the centre.
Draco and Patterson exchanged looks.
“You want to tell them the bad news about Cahill, Malfoy? Or should we let them discover the grisly truth on their own?”
“They’ll discover it two seconds after class starts,” Draco said, flicking his wand and opening the front doors.
“He’s not very good?” Lida asked.
“Let me put it this way,” Draco said. “Our last History teacher was dead; this one makes you wish you were. Binns was a ghostly bore; Cahill’s a ghastly one.”
Suzie giggled, and Draco shot her a quick grin.
“I’m dropping it,” Patterson said as they stepped back into the castle. “You two don’t have that luxury, though. You have to take it through your OWLs. With any luck, he won’t last that long.”
Suzie had reached the centre of her humbug, and the Droobleberry flavour was intense, like a combination of elderberry and under-ripe plum. It was nice, but . . .
“I think I’m going to be sick!” That seemed to be her embarrassing new mantra, she thought desperately.
“The nearest girls’ loo is—” Draco began. “Well, it’s moot now, I suppose.” He swished his wand, cleaning up the entry hall floor.
“I’m so sorry,” Suzie said, tears rising in her eyes. She blinked them back. This was getting beyond embarrassing.
“Can you get to History on your own, Lida?” Draco asked.
“I’ll drop her on my way to Defence,” Patterson said.
“Come on, Suzie Sefton—or should I call you ‘Suzie Sickly’?” Draco asked. “We’ll go up to the infirmary, get you something.”
“Thanks,” Suzie mumbled. She’d been so careful at breakfast and lunch, too. How could she have been sick three times already? “I can go on my own, though. It’s on the fourth floor.” She’d already been there twice, after all.
“I want to see you get there all right without being sick again,” Draco said, starting up the stairs with her. “Was it the humbug, do you think?”
“I don’t know. I suppose so,” Suzie said miserably. It seemed she couldn’t eat anything new and fun.
“Some people are allergic to Droobleberries,” Draco said. “My mother is.” He looked around as if about to impart a deep, dark secret, then he whispered, “She doesn’t just get sick to her stomach, though: she turns purple!”
Suzie giggled, and Draco smiled.
“There’s other good flavours of buzzing humbugs,” Draco continued. “You can try them and see how they are. If it was the buzzing that bothered you, you would have been sick sooner.”
Draco knocked on the infirmary door and pulled it open. It seemed deserted. A house-elf popped into view.
“Can Strilpa help?”
“We’re looking for Madam Pomfrey,” Draco said.
“Madam Pomfrey be’s busy.” Strilpa looked over at Suzie. “Is an emergency?”
“Not really,” Draco said. He put his hand on Suzie’s shoulder and turned her around. “Let’s go find someone else. You just need a tummy potion. Any of the teachers can probably help you there.”
They walked down the corridor, then took a left into another broad hallway. At the end of the hall, Suzie could see a sign above a set of double doors.
“The library!” She had wondered where that was.
“You like libraries, too? This one’s great, and we have a new librarian. Laura Walker Manning. She seems decent,” Draco said.
He pushed on one of the doors, and it swung open easily.
“Madam Walker Manning?” Draco said politely.
The witch at the desk turned around and smiled. “Just ‘Ms Walker Manning’ is fine. Can I help you find something?”
“This is Suzie Sefton. She was sick. Again, that is,” Draco said, obviously assuming that everyone in the school had heard that she’d thrown up all over the Deputy Headmaster. “Madam Pomfrey is busy. I thought perhaps—”
“Of course!” She looked around. “I can leave for a few minutes.”
The three stepped out into the hall.
“You can leave her with me,” Ms Manning said.
“That’s okay. I can get her to her class after,” Draco said. “I think it was the Droobleberry-flavoured buzzing humbug Patterson gave her. She seemed fine till she got to the centre.”
“Just a buzzing humbug? Not something from the Weasleys’ shop?” Ms Manning asked.
“Yes, just a buzzing humbug. I had one, too,” Draco replied.
They returned to the infirmary, where Strilpa reappeared and again offered her help. This time, Ms Walker Manning asked her to open the Potions cabinet for her, which the little elf did with alacrity.
“Everybody’s going to hear about this, I know it,” Suzie said miserably, slouching into a chair. “I’ll spend as much time in the infirmary as in the Great Hall. Everybody will talk about it, how Suzie Sefton came to Hogwarts and threw up everywhere she went, including on Professor Snape.” She blinked hard, trying not to cry. She hoped she hadn’t made Professor Snape sicker than he already was.
Draco sat down next to Suzie and patted her shoulder awkwardly. “Don’t worry about that. I’m sure that they’ll find other things to talk about. It’ll be okay.”
In a moment, Laura Walker Manning returned to Draco and Suzie with a bottle of potion and a spoon.
“This is the same potion that I used to give my own daughter when she was small,” Laura said. “It should fix you right up!”
Suzie obediently opened her mouth for the potion. She swallowed it, and nausea swept over her again. Before she could give any warning, she threw up, losing the rest of her lunch all over Draco. It was purple.
“I’m so sorry,” Suzie wailed.
Draco lifted his arms slightly, looking down at the mess, but before he could draw his wand, Ms Walker Manning had hers out, and she cast two charms, one to Vanish the vomit and one to freshen him up.
“Let’s try this again,” the witch said, pouring out another dose of potion. “That sometimes happens. A second dose should do the trick.”
Suzie swallowed the potion, and this time, she nodded. “Better,” she said.
“Good. Now I have to get back to the library. Could you sit with Miss Sefton for a while, Mr—?”
“Draco Malfoy,” Draco said. “Yeah, I can. Then I’ll get her to class, like I said. I’ll explain to Professor Cahill why she’s late.”
“Oh . . . History of Magic, is it? Well, take your time,” Ms Walker Manning said. “I’m sure you can get the notes from someone else in class, Miss Sefton—and remember, just because an older student offers you a sweet doesn’t mean you have to take one!”
When the witch had left, Suzie looked up at Draco, who was staring across the empty infirmary.
He blinked and looked down at her. “What? Oh, yes. You’re welcome.”
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m just wondering where everyone is.” He gestured at the empty infirmary. “Even if they had Professor Snape in a private room with an Imperturbable on it . . . there’d be some kind of activity. People in and out of the room. Lamps lit in the ward. They must have taken him somewhere else. St. Mungo’s, maybe.”
“What’s St. Mungo’s?”
“Wizarding hospital in London. There are a few other wizarding clinics, but St. Mungo’s is the big hospital.”
“Is that where they took him after he was bitten by that snake, Nagini?” Suzie asked.
Draco shook his head. “I don’t think so. I wasn’t in the country at the time, but I think they treated him here.”
“Where were you? You said you were away for a year?”
“A little more than a year . . . my mother and I were in Sweden.”
Suzie thought about that, and she remembered what Lettie had said about him having “run away.” “Can I ask . . . why were you and your mother in Sweden?”
“Lucius Malfoy—my father—made some ill-advised decisions. Tom Riddle . . . it would have been bad for us. I wasn’t as worried for myself, understand, but my mother . . .” Draco averted his eyes.
“Your father was in the Order of the Phoenix?” Suzie asked.
Draco flushed. He shook his head shortly. “He, um, he was one of Riddle’s followers,” Draco said softly. He looked over at her. “You’ll hear about it anyway, one way or the other. He was in Azkaban prison. He was a Death Eater. I was supposed to become one, too. Riddle blamed him for something that went wrong, a raid on the Ministry, and then when Riddle wanted a job done, he wanted me to do it. A kind of . . . payment for my father’s failure. He had my mother prisoner, too, you see, or virtually one.”
“So of course you’d want to save your mother!” Suzie cried sympathetically.
“Yeah . . . I did.” Draco let out a light sigh. “Anyway, after they’d faked Dumbledore’s death, the Headmistress came to me. Had me brought to her, actually. By Snape. She helped my mother and me leave the country. They set us up in a house in Sweden until it was safe to return.”
Suzie had the sense there was a lot more that Draco wasn’t saying, but he was clearly uncomfortable talking about it at all.
“I’m glad the Headmistress could help you and your mother,” Suzie said.
Draco nodded curtly. “So you see, Sefton, Slytherin House has far more interesting things to gossip about than your stomach and its tendency to turn at inconvenient moments.” He smirked. “Not that I suppose there are convenient moments for such things.”
Draco stood. “Okay, c’mon little snakeling, let’s get you down to Cahill’s class. We’ve delayed as long as we can. And whilst you’re sitting there being bored in the extreme, remember: what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
“Did Nagini make Professor Snape stronger?” Suzie asked as they stepped out into the deserted corridor.
Draco paused and looked down at her, his grey eyes unreadable. “I suppose she must have,” he said softly. “We’ll certainly see, won’t we?”
Author’s Note: You might now be interested in reading Death’s Dominion, the events of which were alluded to in this story. (Death’s Dominion is a T/M-rated AU Year 6 & 7 Snape-centric fic.)
You can see more of Suzie Sefton in A Long Vernal Season, an AU postwar Snape-centric fic; the first two parts are T-rated. Ratings for individual chapters rise after Chapter Twenty-Eight.