Characters: Severus, some Ravenclaws, several Slytherins
Word Count: 622
Summary: Severus is troubled by a Slytherin riddle.
Disclaimer: This work of fan fiction is based on characters and situations created by J. K. Rowling and owned by J. K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made from (and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended by) the posting of this fan work.
Author's Note: Anonymous prompted me with Professor Snape: riddles, romantic/sexual tension, and the Black Lake.
On a stroll by the Black Lake one quiet Saturday afternoon, Severus spied some of Flitwick's Ravenclaws trading riddles with several of his Slytherins and stopped to observe their game.
"Who can answer this one?" Astoria Greengrass, the youngest amongst them, asked, her gaze pausing on Malfoy before sliding around the circle of students. "I have a sister: I give birth to her, and she, in turn, gives birth to me. Who are we?"
A groan rolled through the group.
"Easy," said Parkinson, glaring at Malfoy as he stared at Greengrass' older sister. "Day and night."
Greengrass appeared crestfallen.
"You only know it because you heard it last game," retorted Malfoy, ignoring Parkinson's venomous expression as he turned to smile at Greengrass. "Good try."
Daphne didn't smile back, but Severus saw how her face softened at Malfoy's praise of her little sister and thought sourly, Personal point to Malfoy.
"Who's next?" asked Davis.
"The sister, I think," Chang replied, with a wink at Daphne at the same time that Bulstrode insisted, "Zabini!"
"Daphne it is, then," Malfoy said, his "enthusiasm" clearly not winning him any points with Parkinson.
"Do your worst, Greengrass," Zabini challenged, shifting his position a little away from the flushed Bulstrode, who immediately slumped sulkily into a dejected posture.
"All right," Daphne replied, glancing quickly towards Severus and then back at Zabini. "I'm a strange creature, for I satisfy women—a service to the neighbours!" Everyone but Daphne's sister laughed at her opening, which she uttered with, Severus thought, a rather unladylike huskiness. "I grow very tall and erect in a bed—"
"Oh, really, Greengrass!" exclaimed Parkinson, only to be shushed by Malfoy while Severus stood rigidly behind them, trying not to betray the fact that he shared Parkinson's irritation.
"—and I'm hairy underneath. From time to time a beautiful girl," she said, leaning forward into the circle and lowering her voice as if sharing a secret, "the brave daughter of some churl, dares to hold me, to grip my russet skin, to rob me of my head—"
Zabini applauded. "Excellent!" and Severus saw that Bulstrode's irritation was also great.
He cleared his throat to put a stop to the "game," but even as the others straightened where they sat to hear him, Daphne continued.
"—and puts me in the pantry."
Edgecombe giggled. "Is that what we're calling it?"
"Go on, do," urged Malfoy.
"At once that girl with plaited hair who has confined me remembers our meeting, and her eye moistens." She sat up, smoothing down her tight green jumper. "Who am I?"
"What are you, you mean," Severus said sternly.
"No fair, Professor Snape! You're not playing," objected Zabini.
"So I'm not." This, Severus directed at Daphne, although he only watched her out of the corner of one eye as he acknowledged Zabini with a nod.
"Well then?" Daphne asked, her smile undimmed. "What is it?"
A thoroughly inappropriate riddle, that's what it is, thought Severus, noting the silver threads winking within the soft green yarn of Daphne's jumper as the other students considered their answers.
At last, Bulstrode sighed. "She's going to win again. She always wins."
"That's not true. Zabini wins sometimes," protested Parkinson.
"Yes, but not this time," he said.
"Oh, for Merlin's sake!" Severus exclaimed. "It's an onion! Don't any of you read?"
"It's not as though the Old English Exeter Book is required reading, sir," Daphne said primly, before adding, "but I'm not surprised that you know it. Thank you for playing."
I'm not playing, Severus thought, feeling oddly as though he'd been dismissed as well as welcomed. With a curt nod, he continued on his way towards the lonelier side of the lake, damning his interest in riddles all the way.