"Well, well, Snape."
Black's voice resembles that of his Gryffindor relative so uncannily that only the weight of Advanced Transfiguration
in your lap prevents you from reaching for your wand.
Without looking up, you lean down to take a spare piece of parchment from your bag, fold it carefully and mark the page – and only then grace Black with a glance.
"You weren't so courteous with my brother earlier today."
You briefly wonder whether he saw the incident or only heard about it, and are surprised with how little it really matters to you at the moment. Nor are you concerned with the fact that more will question you about today yet. You will handle it. You have survived worse. And the worst thing is yet to come.
You smile darkly.
"To each their own, Black. He will get his due."
"Plotting revenge now, are you?"
There is something very different on your mind now. It takes up most of your thoughts, and even the book in your lap is only something to occupy your hands and eyes, something to hold on to quite literally so as not to clench your fists, or the armrests of your chair, something to concentrate on, turning the pages at relatively regular intervals to create the illusion of reading.
You lift the edge of the book to demonstrate the cover to Black.
"Transfiguration O.W.L. tomorrow."
"Studying? For someone who has been hanging around upside-down in the courtyard half the afternoon, you seem pretty calm."
The knowledge that the façade you are putting up is working well to fool someone – at least Black – comes as a small relief. The first one on this day, certainly. Unfortunately, it is short-lived, as you know all too well the saying of masks being apt to become one with the face. You almost missed the moment. At least, you hope that it is almost
, and not too late yet. That she will also believe it is not too late.
You raise an eyebrow skeptically.
"What would you expect me to do? Seek a shoulder to cry on?"
Black leaves, obviously disappointed. You open the book again, and it takes you a few turned pages to understand that you are actually reading this time, instead of flipping the pages blankly like you used to do before his arrival. The calm you were faking seems to settle inside you and leave no room for emotion – not even for the horrible empty feeling of some minutes ago. You try to seek it, desperately, to shut down the defenses that sprung up out of their own volition and refuse to lower now.
She will not believe you unless you act like you are actually feeling something.
Stop thinking like this! Stop this instant, damn you! You can still feel, you still have a heart, you have not yet become… that which you are trying to seem to everyone. It is not too late yet… It is not.