Episode 10: Shell Shock

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Written and Directed by Humaira K and Gill P

Guest starring
Cate Blanchett as Narcissa Malfoy
Elisha Cuthbert as Sofia Conti
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Genevieve Gaunt as Pansy Parkinson
Kristin Kreuk as Brigitte Dietrich
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew

Severus gazed tiredly at his working class as he once again prowled between the tables but with a lot less vigor then he usually had. Visiting and worrying about Sydney was draining. Sometimes after an exceptionally grueling session with the Healers she took it out on him and Jack.

The other man in her life that he was warily accepting as one in his own. The man had near enough set up home in Sydney’s hospital room and for that Severus was jealous. Jealous that while the Governors and Dumbledore understood his absentness from Staff meetings and meals they could not let him take a sabbatical. Losing one teacher was bad enough; they couldn’t lose two, not with Christmas so near. There was so much to do for the seventh years that Severus had been on autopilot for most of his lessons. Jack meanwhile had staked up more paid holiday leave then he could shake a stick at. Even his boss had told him to be with his daughter. Lucky bastard.

“That’s the way – Shellshock/Hold on!/It’s never enough/It’s never enough until your heart stops beating/The deeper you get, the sweeter the pain/Don’t give up the game until your heart stops beatin.”

The children had noticed, he was sure, but they didn’t dare even breathe wrong in his presence. He was grateful he had taught them fear and discipline. They may not respect him, but these were life skills they desperately needed. Life wasn’t fair.

Currently he was supposed to be teaching a class of Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, paying close attention to the Hufflepuffs as they may be hard workers but they tended to stuff up from time to time. Sydney’s latest outburst invaded his thoughts. Once again she had rejected him one day sobbing into Jack’s arms as a particularly nasty memory was unearthed during her captivity and the next time he visited she was her usual sunny and optimistic self.

A Hufflepuff had forgotten to add the vital bats eyes to the potion and it was currently colouring a nasty shade of orange instead of the blue it should have been. The feelings of frustration came out in a particularly nasty chastisement to the terrified student, “You dunderhead! Call yourself a third year? Even a first year knows that you must add bats eyes to this potion! What are you going to be like in your Christmas exams Jones?! 20 points from Hufflepuff for your blatant idiocy. And 20 points from anyone who even dares to breathe wrong! Tip this potion and make it again in detention tonight at 8 o’clock!”

There, he felt a little better. Ignoring the whimpering Hufflepuff and moving on to the next table.

* * *

Draco watched with little interest as Sofia scribbled furiously on a spare bit of parchment paper. Something about the furtive look on her face held his attention longer than thirty seconds though. He watched with an amused smile on his face, as her face changed. It was though she were writing something so desperately important that she needed to get all the words out on paper and out of her head. Sofia was not one to reveal her emotions in her face so easily. To do so would be to show all of her hands, and Sofia never liked to lose.

Draco took great care in memorizing her facial expressions. She looked calm, almost child-like, in her demeanour. In all the time they had been “together”, she showed little emotion towards him, even when they were kissing.

Finally she sealed the envelope with a spell, and took a quick glance around the busy common room. Draco averted his eyes, as Sofia’s fell on him. Before he could take another breath, Sofia had run out of the common room without so much as a goodbye.

Sofia was the kind of woman who liked people to notice when she was entering and leaving a room. To not so much as stretch her arms and yawn loudly, thereupon getting someone’s attention was very much unlike her. Upon further inspection, he realized, she had been like this for a while. This secretive behaviour was not something new. So now he had to find out where she was.

He made for the Owlery, as quick as a cat and as silent as one, he hoped.

But he was a few second too late. Sofia had released the owl with its letter attached, and a happy look on her face. His foot scraped against the floor, breaking her focus, and her face hardened as she turned.

“Draco,” she said coldly, when she caught sight of him standing there. “What are you doing?”

“Just following up on you, darling. Who are you writing letters to?”

Sofia shrugged. “What business is it of yours who I write to?”

“A boyfriend perhaps? One that your parents would never approve of? Of course, this would help make our charade more believable if I knew the source of this madness.”

Sofia rolled her eyes and swept past him to leave the Owlery. “Please. I would never involve myself with something so trivial.”

“A pen friend, then?”

She turned and looked up at him. “What do you really want?”

Draco smiled. “I just wanted to know what you were wearing for the Yule Ball next week. As a ‘couple’,” he said, making quotes with his fingers, “we should match.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sofia said airily. “It’s already taken care of.”

“Now Sofia,” Draco said, leading the way back to the common room, “shouldn’t I get at least some say in what we wear?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Very well. After you,” Draco said.

“Thank you,” Sofia replied.

She was withholding something from him, and he knew just the girl to help him out.

* * *

Harry walked along the edge of the lake thinking about how eventful his last year at Hogwarts was already becoming. Sydney carted off to St. Mungos for attacking a student. Anastasia attacked by Bellatrix Lestrange and the upcoming Yule Ball.

Natasha Darcy had nearly died of happiness when Anastasia informed her she needed dress robes and an actual dress for the ball, as well as a suit for Harry. He was scared to think what he might end up wearing if it was all left to Anastasia’s mother.

The silence was welcoming after the constant noise of everyday life in the castle. He pulled the cloak around him to ward off the cold once again thinking it was time to go back.

As he passed the Whomping Willow memories assailed him of Sirius, Lupin and Peter. Each memory as sharp and painful as if it had happened a moment ago, knowing at least one of them was dead. The one he’d actually thought would be the parent he never had. He wondered what had become of Peter and trudged back to the castle not noticing the scurrying rat as he watched Harry from the shadows.

The rat followed Harry for a few moments carefully avoiding his footfalls then just as suddenly changed into a fully-grown man. Peter Pettigrew was back.

“Harry,” said Peter. His voice was hoarse, little used from not speaking in human form for months.

Harry froze as his name was called out. He was shocked to see Peter Pettigrew standing in behind him.

“Peter,” said Harry turning around, his whole body ready for an inevitable attack.

They stared at each other neither saying a word nor moving an inch.

“What do you want?” asked Harry pointing his wand at the Animagus.

“I want your parents to be alive, I want Sirius to be teasing me, and I want to be able to go home to my mother. I want a lot of things Harry, it doesn’t mean I’ll get them,” said Peter shrugging helplessly.

“But you’re the reason they’re all dead. You’re the reason I’m an orphan and the saviour of the damned wizarding world when all I want is for the couple in the few photographs I have to be alive,” said Harry calmly putting down his wand.

“You trust me enough to lower your wand?” asked Peter unsurely.

“I don’t trust myself enough to be able to make rational decisions where you’re concerned. If I wanted you dead I wouldn’t need a wand. There are other forms of death far more painful then any I can use to release you.”

“I want forgiveness Harry, if you forgive me I’ll hand myself into the Aurors,” said Peter getting down on his knees.

“I can’t forgive you Peter. Not after all the lives you took and the life you destroyed. If you suddenly grew a conscience while you were away, good for you. Now leave me alone.”

“I can’t do that Harry, you need me as much as I need you,” said Peter getting up.

“I don’t need a murderer who killed my parents,” said Harry coldly walking away.

* * *

Draco watched her like a hawk. Brigitte Dietrich was Sofia’s best friend, and had been since first year. If he was going to find out who she was writing to, she was the one to go to. The flippant brunette was paging through a teen wizarding magazine, as a shadow cast itself against its glossy pages. She looked up to see Draco standing over her.

“Move,” she drawled. “You’re blocking my light.”

He knelt beside her and tried to turn on that Malfoy charm his father and brother were so notorious for. “Brigitte, who does Sofia write letters to?”

“What?” Brigitte said, not even paying attention.

“I just saw my fiancee write a letter to someone, and she refuses to tell me who it was.”

“Fiancee,” she chuckled in reply. She turned a few pages and watched the wizarding photos of models showing off the latest dress robes. ‘Just in time for the holidays!’ the adverts yelled from the magazine.

“I was sitting on my throne/Rapping on how no one else knows/We’re not really into each other/We were forced into being lovers/Down to Earth, we maintain/In this whole ordeal that’s fame/Wonderin’ what you’re thinkin’ next/And is your mind that too complex/Once again I escape to where you are/And find a place down in your heart/It’s a shame that this whole game/Has got me goin’ insane/So let’s go deep.”

“Irregardless,” Draco replied. “Who is it?”

Brigitte raised an eyebrow and shut the magazine. “What’s it to you? You’ve both got secrets that you’re keeping from each other. Would you be willing to tell your secrets to the world if someone asked you?”

“My secrets are my own,” Draco replied, trying to keep his cool.

“As are hers,” Brigitte said, opening the magazine again.

Draco tore the magazine from her, and threw it across the common room. Most of the Slytherins had retired for the night, so the noise didn’t bother too many other students. “Tell me who she’s writing letters to.”

Brigitte’s mouth dropped open at his aggressiveness. “What’s your malfunction, Malfoy? Even if you tortured me, I wouldn’t tell you!”

“If that’s what it takes,” he said, grabbing her arm. Draco couldn’t figure out why he was so obsessed with wanting to know, but it was too late to turn back now.

“Draco!” Professor Snape said sharply. His haggard eyes took in the scene before him: Draco with his hand on Brigitte’s upper arm, and Brigitte with a very scared look in her eyes.

“Sorry Professor,” Draco said immediately, letting go of Brigitte. “I thought I saw something on the couch beside Brigitte.”

“It’s getting late,” Professor Snape said.

“Yes of course, Professor,” Brigitte said. “Good night Draco,” she said venomously. Draco stepped back and let her walk away.

“Deep into the minds (of a king)/And who once was in love/Tryin’ to hide behind me, oh/ Let’s go far, farther than a dream/If you told her once that you loved her/Then don’t come back to me.”

As soon as she could, Brigitte locked the door to the dorm she shared with Sofia and Pansy. Pansy pretended to be asleep, and shamelessly listened in on their conversation.

“I don’t know why you can’t tell him,” Brigitte said.

“Because!” Sofia replied.

“What kind of answer is that? If you’re trying to keep up pretences, at least let him know!”

“No I can’t!” Sofia cried in a quiet voice, so as not to disturb Pansy. “My reputation is at stake. We’ve had this discussion already, Gitte. Please.”

“You need to sort out your priorities. In all the years I’ve known you, have I ever questioned your character?” Brigitte said softly. “No one would judge you, Sofie.”

Sofia looked away. “Yes they would.”

Pansy stopped listening, as her dorm mates continued to talk. But she had a feeling she knew what they were talking about. A plan began to formulate in her mind, as sleep fogged her mind.

* * *

Severus was having a hard time on concentrating on the marking in front of him. All thoughts strayed back to Sydney and the last conversation he’d had with Jack Bristow. That man could simultaneously unnerve you and yet make you trust him without blinking his eyes. He could have been that man; he had been that man until Sydney came along.

His life had taken on a new meaning since her abrupt arrival into his life and he was still waiting for the dream to end. But the nightmare he couldn’t stop, the one he was waiting for had happened and now nothing mattered.

“You call me on the phone, you left me all alone/All I get from you is shellshock/Another day goes by and all I do is cry/All I get from you is shellshock.”

A gentle knocking on his door brought him out of his stupor and he went to answer it. Dumbledore walked in with a grim look on his face. Usually he would have been summoned had the old man had something serious to say.

“I don’t know how to say this Severus, but there have been several complaints about your teaching after Miss. Bristow’s departure. So much so the governors are on the verge of firing you,” said Albus unceremoniously sitting down onto the couch.

“What?!” asked Severus in disbelief. He hadn’t been that distracted. He’d been teaching the brats to the best of his ability since Sydney had gone.

“I’ve already had to talk them out of firing Sydney but I can’t lose you as well Severus. Not so close to Christmas. I’ve told them I will take matters into my own hands,” he said gravely.

Severus eyed the headmaster warily, a gentle probing entered his thoughts and despite his better judgement he let it happen. Albus sat back apparently satisfied and sighed.

“You will continue to teach Severus, despite your distractions but one wrong move and I will not hesitate to fire you and forbid you from visiting Sydney,” he said before Severus could refuse to him. “Severus you are safe here at Hogwarts and Sydney will continue to be safe here. Need I remind you of the attacks happening to both our students and teachers outside these gates? If you love that woman as much as I know you do, you will be a professional and teach your charges with your full attention. And in return I will talk to the Healers at St. Mungos, I’ll see if Sydney can come home for Christmas.”

Severus was in shock. He’d do anything for the old man he thought of as the father he’d never had anyway, but for this carrot Dumbledore dangled in front of him he’d do anything.

“I understand Headmaster. I will do as you ask,” he said with a curt nod.

“I’d tell the world and save my soul/But rain falls down and I feel cold/A cold that sleeps within my heart/It tears the earth and sun apart/But that’s the way that I can win/A victim of your evil sin/You’ve lost the hold you’ve had on me/By causing the changes that you never see.”

Dumbledore relaxed and pulled out those Muggle sweets he was so fond of, “Lemon drop?”

* * *

Meliza was dreading the Yule Ball. So much had happened at Hogwarts and to its inhabitants this year, she couldn’t fathom why people would want to even celebrate in the midst of the chaos. But Professor Sprout made a very convincing case. All she said was “If we go down, we go down dancing.”

She smiled at this memory, as she rushed from Potions to Gryffindor Tower. Hermione was working on an elaborate present for Professor Bristow, and Meliza had just asked Professor Snape for his help in getting the present to her. In all the years she had been a student of Professor Snape, he looked pleased. Of course, Meliza could’ve mistaken the look on his face for a grimace. She could never tell with him.

But as she rounded the corner to fly up the stairs to the Fat Lady, a figure caught her eye.

“Suddenly it all looks so familiar/Gone and wrecked it like I always do/Don’t you know it?/Life is out to kill ‘ya/But you still go getting on with it.”

“Pansy!” Meliza said before dropping the last syllable abruptly. They hadn’t spoken for a while, and they hadn’t plotted any further on getting Draco back.

Pansy was with her friends, and didn’t speak nor make eye contact. Pansy casually dropped some rolled up parchment papers near her, before flouncing away down the stairs.

Meliza looked at Pansy’s retreating back quizzically, but scooped up the forgotten parchment. Students were coming and going, so she moved off to one side and unrolled one. Her eyes flew over the words in utter surprise. It was a letter addressed to Sofia. “Dearest Sofia,” it began. There wasn’t a name telling of the author, only the alias of Snowflake, but the letter was certainly not your garden variety letter. She didn’t have time to think, as Hermione opened the Fat Lady’s portrait. Meliza shoved the letter into her shoulder bag.

“Seen better times than right now/But I’m not running away/No nothing’s gonna bring me down/It’s just been one of those days/I’m not the only one.”

“Mel! What did he say?” she asked excitedly.

“He said yes!”

“Thank goodness,” Hermione said, as though a big weight was lifted from her shoulders. “Don’t forget, we’re all going to meet before dinner tonight in the Muggle Studies classroom. The picture is going to be so cool!” Hermione’s idea was to get everyone who Professor Bristow had touched with her teaching together to take a wizarding photograph or two, to remind her of what she was missing.

Meliza followed her down the stairs. “How many people are going to be in the picture exactly?”

“I lost count, actually. Me, you, Harry, Ron, Seamus, Anastasia, then Ron blurted it out at breakfast, and it spread like wildfire.”

“I just hope nothing goes wrong.”

“I just hope we can fill in the picture!” Hermione said.

They laughed as they entered Ancient Runes together.

* * *

Gryffindor Tower wasn’t enough to accommodate all the students that turned up for the picture so they had moved to the Great Hall. Barring nearly all of the Slytherins except a few who dared turn up just because they liked controversy, nearly everyone who’d ever attended her lessons or talked to Sydney Bristow turned up. The Hall was filled with noisy chatter as everyone remembered small kindnesses Professor Bristow had bestowed upon them and their increasing knowledge of the Muggle world.

Colin Creevey was having a hard time positioning everyone so that they could all fit in, and in the end he decided to do one main photograph with everyone in it and then clusters of groups, to be put into a photo album with comments from the students. Hermione and Meliza were astounded at the show of support for the teacher and were even more surprised when Jeremiah, the student Sydney attacked, turned up. He was still recovering after the attack.

When everyone was finished, they all trooped to Professor Snape’s quarters with the Slytherins in the lead along with Meliza and Hermione. Professor Snape angrily opened his door to find nearly the whole of the student body outside. Before he could say a word, Hermione timidly handed him the album.

Watching his reaction as he opened it was astounding. He was speechless as he looked at it quizzically and then at the students at his door.

“It’s for Professor Bristow,” she said, her voice shaking a little, “To cheer her up while she gets better.”

“Thank you,” said Professor Snape sincerely and with an unheard of smile, “She’ll appreciate it. Thank you.” Then he closed the door leaving an astounded student body in shock.

* * *

Lucius sighed. He didn’t know whether he should be pleased or not. He had just received the latest report from Draco. Sydney Bristow was in hospital for attacking a student. Now would be the time to strike. Unfortunately, Julian was nowhere to be found. His eldest was notorious for leaving for hours at a time with no time frame of his return. It infuriated Lucius, but he was trying to learn when to let go of his children. They were getting older, as he was.

Snow had been falling for a few hours now, and hadn’t ceased. It dusted the surrounding area of the Malfoy castle with a thick white coat. The fire crackled in the fireplace quietly. He was waiting for Narcissa to bring him his nightcap: Muggle brandy in a small glass. The door opened.

“Don’t ask me/What you know is true/Don’t have to tell you/I love your precious heart/I, I was standing/You were there/Two worlds collided/And they could never tear us apart.”

“Lucius?” she whispered softly, as she set the tray down on the table beside him. She grasped his hand and he returned a faint smile. “Working hard?”

“Yes,” he said, drawing her into his lap and holding her tiny body against his. He sighed again and hugged her tightly from behind.

“You know, it’s almost time for the Yule Ball at Hogwarts,” Narcissa said conversationally, as Lucius placed gentle kisses all the way up her spine.

“Are Draco’s dress robes ready?”

“Yes, but I didn’t have to send them. Sofia wrote to me last month and said she’d take care of it,” Narcissa replied, turning around and wrapping her arms around his neck. She leaned down and their lips met. “I remember our first Yule Ball,” she continued, her eyes soft.

“We could live/For a thousand years/But if I hurt you/I’d make wine from your tears.”

“You wouldn’t dance with me,” Lucius accused her, his eyebrow raised playfully.

“This coming from the same man who ruined my entire Wit-Sharpening Potion that year by dumping too much ground scarab beetle into my cauldron!”

They laughed and kissed again.

“I haven’t laughed like that in ages,” Lucius said, shaking his head. “The Covenant expects too much of me. I can’t be everything to everyone.”

“And you shouldn’t. Leave the Covenant. They’re not holding anything over your head.”

“Well, Julian’s inheritance, for one. Wanting to get Sydney and Nadia is another.”

“I told you/That we could fly/’cause we all have wings/But some of us don’t know why.”

“You don’t need the Covenant for that,” Narcissa said, her eyes darkening. She looked at him pointedly.

A light bulb went off in his head, as he looked at her. “What are you saying?”

“We’ll talk about all that later,” Narcissa said, handing him his brandy. Lucius drank it one gulp, as Narcissa got up off his lap and sashayed to the middle of the room. “Shall we dance?” she asked, holding her hand out coquettishly.

“I, I was standing/You were there/Two worlds collided/And they could never ever tear us apart.”

Lucius smiled, placed the glass down, and walked towards his wife. He enveloped her in his arms, and they danced to a song only they could hear.

Fade out

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