Title: "Veronica Mars and the Vagabond Squib" 2/2
Authors: Angel Grace and monimala
Fandom: Veronica Mars, Harry Potter
Character/Pairing: Lamb/Veronica and implied Hermione/Snape
Word Count: 15,000
Disclaimer: Not ours, although we enjoy playing with them. Rob Thomas is God, and J.K. Rowling has more money than God, so we're pretty much outnumbered in the deity department.
Summary: Veronica's a wizard and Mala and Gracie are quite possibly high.
Spoilers/Warnings: General spoilers for the VM S1 & 2 mysteries and the Harry Potter universe through HP: HBP. Some dirty words and adult content, crossover, AU, crack!fic.

The next few days and nights passed with surprising speed. Though her cell phone didn't work on school grounds, owls really did prove to be quite useful and the one she'd left with Backup actually came back one morning with a note from Dad that said, "I bought a top hat. I expect you to pull a rabbit out of it when you get back. BTW, have also enrolled in Clown College." She sent back a pithy message to the effect of, "I've always wanted a unicycle," and "I love you."

All in all, she didn't find it that hard to adjust to life at Hogwarts. If she discounted walking right through Nearly Headless Nick and screaming her head off. And running into the centaur out by the Forbidden Forest. And getting her ass grabbed by a poltergeist named, of all things, Peeves.

Veronica found she excelled at Charms, kind of sucked at Transfiguration, couldn't stir a potion to save her life (or Professor Malfoy's), and only enjoyed History of Magic because Hermione actually used some magical variation of Power Point to illustrate her lectures.

And she also found that Lamb was still going cross continental in the ginormous Tower bed. And every morning, he would wake up without even realizing he'd curved up against her. The man was a sleep-spooner. Despite this, Veronica had yet to ask McGonagall or Hermione if they had another room to spare. For better or worse, Lamb was the only thing from Neptune she had to hold on to. Even if that meant literally.

He was turning out to be a better tour guide than she expected, too. Even if he couldn't actually do anything magical, he understood a lot of the theory, not to mention all the random words that people threw around. She still wasn't sure what a Blast-Ended Skrewt was…and she wasn't sure she wanted to know.

They'd been there a month before Hermione finally asked the question she'd obviously wanted the answer to since the beginning. "So what's going on with you and Lamb?" she inquired over breakfast.

Veronica finished chewing and swallowed, hard. "Nothing, really. I've known him since I was a kid, but somehow he never mentioned the whole magic thing. I'm not even sure why Professor McGonagall asked him to come along."

"That not what I meant, and you know it. What's going on with you, *personally*?"

"I told you, nothing. We barely tolerate each other."

"Really," Hermione said skeptically. "I think it would be awfully hard to share a room, let alone a bed, when you barely tolerate someone. Particularly when he looks like *that*."

Something clenched in the pit of Veronica's stomach, but she ignored it. "There's nothing going on. We're not even really friends. We're just two people from the same place who share a room. And a bed."

Hermione's look said that she didn't believe it, but she also didn't press the issue. As she took a sip of pumpkin juice, Veronica casually asked, "So what's going on with you and Professor Snape?"

Hermione, who was sipping pumpkin juice, too, ended up spitting the entire mouthful across the table. Unfortunately not far enough to land on Draco, who was still, in Veronica's opinion, a major prat. "There is absolutely nothing going on with Professor Snape and I," Hermione said, after delicately dabbing juice off her robes.

"Well, obviously," snorted Veronica, glad to have someone else's love life (not that she herself had a love life of any kind) to focus on. "That's why the guy's such a joy to be around."

Her friend wasn't nearly as amused as she was. "And your Lamb is such a pleasant fellow?"

"He's not my Lamb!"


God, she really was the brightest witch of her generation, wasn't she? Veronica conceded defeat and scowled, slouching down in her seat and eating the last of her bacon before the plates disappeared. She'd actually gotten it down to a science since the dishes glimmered a little before vanishing completely. It was like the popping noise before the flame spurt in the Florin Fire Swamp. She, wisely, kept the silly observation to herself. It was entirely possible Hermione had seen The Princess Bride, being Muggle-born and all, but Veronica didn't want to risk looking stupid. Not when she'd fallen off a broom in front of a bunch of 11-year-olds just yesterday.

She was full up on stupid for the week.

At least until she got to her next Defense Against the Dark Arts session in 20 minutes. She had the distinct feeling that Hermione's not-significant other was going to try to make her feel like a raving idiot.

They'd done nothing but study theory and strategy for the first few sessions -- the uses of the Unforgivable Curses, how to disarm an opponent, etc. She could "Expelliarmus!" with the best of 'em…and seeing tarantulas writhing around being "Crucio"-ed was still making her have nightmares. Probably half the reason she didn't mind having Lamb in her bed. She wasn't going to think about the other half.

But today…today Snape had promised her they would actually be confronting "your worst fear." He'd kind of swished while saying it. Only instead of seeming gay, he'd just seemed really really British…and kinda frightening.

When she got to his classroom, it was empty except for Snape and Lamb, who was sprawled out at a table reading a copy of Maxim he must've gotten in Hogsmeade. He and Snape were studiously ignoring each other…which was, as she'd come to accept, better for everyone's collective health. A cupboard stood at the front of the room and it rattled violently.

"Let me guess? The skeleton in your closet, Professor?" Veronica asked, sweetly, drawing her wand from the folds of her robes.

"No, Miss Mars. Yours," Snape drawled, curling his lip.

"What are you talking about?"

"Inside that cupboard is a boggart. Do you know what a boggart is, Miss Mars?"

"Not a clue."

He scowled. "A boggart is a shape shifter. No one knows the true form of a boggart, because when you encounter one, it immediately takes the shape of the thing you fear most." He leaned down a bit, his voice dropping to a cruel whisper. "It's an insidious creature, ferreting out the terror from the deepest, darkest recesses of your mind."

She shuddered ever so slightly. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Lamb was suddenly paying very close attention. "So how do I stop it?"

"It's really quite simple." Dear Lord, the man was practically purring. "You see, all it takes to stop a boggart is laughter. When it emerges from the cupboard, you must immediately imagine a way to make it absurd. Raise your wand, like so, and say 'riddikulus,' all while focusing on transforming it into something ludicrous. If you are successful, it will be forced to assume the form you have imagined."

"That's all?"

His smile was acidic. "That's all. Now practice the spell once before I open the cupboard."

She brandished her wand as he had shown her and shouted "Riddikulus," which made her feel, well, rather ridiculous.

With a flourish, Professor Snape opened the cupboard door, and out came…

…Veronica. She stared at her doppelganger. This was her greatest fear? Then her mind began to catalogue the details-the broken blood vessels in her face, her haggard appearance, the vodka bottle clutched desperately in her right hand. And there was a thin white line on the fourth finger of her left hand…where a wedding band no longer lived. She looked like her mother. She *was* her mother. Tears flooded her eyes, but she resolutely raised her wand.

"Riddikulus!" she cried, thinking with all her might what she would look like with a foot-tall blue mohawk. The image wavered, and then shifted, and she fled the room before its two other occupants could see her crying.

Lamb leapt to his feet. "You enjoyed that, didn't you?" he snarled at Snape…who did look pathetically pleased. Like he'd gotten off on it. Then, the boggart drew his attention, and he realized it no longer looked like Veronica. Instead, Uncle Bobby stood before him, wielding a Louisville Slugger in one hand and hitching up his tobacco-stained pants with the other. Lamb wrenched his gaze away, and ran after Veronica.

If he had stuck around for just another minute, he would've seen Bobby turn into a very familiar petite brunette, laughing at Snape and saying, "Really, Severus, as if I could ever love a git like you." Since he didn't, he just heard the echo of Snape chanting "Riddikulus!" and slamming the cupboard shut.

When he skidded into the corridor, he encountered a couple of giggling third year girls. There was no sign of Veronica. "You're the American squib!" a pinched little redhead declared, like she'd found some new species of Hippogriff. Lamb snarled several things of the four-letter variety before he pushed past the group and headed for one of the dozen flights of ever-moving staircases.

As he suspected, he found her in the North Tower, flopped across their bed, one arm over her eyes. She wasn't crying. Just lying perfectly still. And somehow, that was worse.

"Why am I here, Lamb?" she asked, when the mattress dipped slightly from his weight. "Why are either of us here?"

"I don't know about you, but it totally got me out of having to attend the Southern California Uniformed Men convention in Compton. I mean, who the fuck wants to go to Compton, right?"

Veronica barked out a laugh, which was a good sign. "Donnie, that spells 'Scum.'"

"I know. Terribly accurate, huh?"

"Did you think of it while you were climbing the ladder?"

"Terribly obvious, too." He reached over and gently, gingerly, moved her arm. "Come on. Don't let Snape's mind games get to you."

"You still didn't answer my question. What's the point? If this big war is over and Voldemort's gone, why train me?"

"It makes you stronger, Mars." He shrugged, an ironic grin creeping across his face. "You see the wizard. You get some backbone."

Veronica looked up at him, her own smile equally wry. "If I'd known then what I know now, I would've transfigured you into a coat rack."

He flopped down beside her, chuckling. "I've seen your attempts at transfiguring. I would've ended up with a metal leg and that's about it."

"Oh, shut up, Squib."

"Bite me, Witch," he retorted.

"Hell, no. I don't know what disease I'll pick up."

They lay like that, in comfortable snarky banter mode, for several minutes. Until all thoughts of boggarts and alcoholism and baseball bats had vanished…and Veronica was actually poking Lamb sporadically in the side like an annoying kid sister in the backseat of a station wagon. Okay, maybe not a kid sister. Maybe the really hot barely legal sister of somebody else.

"You're not going to end up like Lianne," he told her, poking her back. Twice.

"I know," she replied, softly. Then, she caught his fingers, squeezed them, and made as if to pull him up. "Come on, Sheriff. I've still got a half hour left in this lesson. Let's go kick some ass."

They made their way back to the DADA classroom, but Professor Snape was nowhere in sight. "Should we try his office?" Veronica asked.

"By the time we make it there and back, it will be time for your Potions lesson anyway," he pointed out.

She made a face. "Have I mentioned how much I hate Potions?"

He grinned. "Once or twice. An hour."

"Shut up. You're not the one who gets reprimanded for not slicing the boomslang skin finely enough."

"I think you're going about it the wrong way. I mean, you can cook, right?"


"It's not really so different than baking a cake, is it? You add the ingredients in the right amounts, follow the directions, and boom! Cake."

"Except that if I add too much flour I'm not liable to blow myself to kingdom come."

"There is that," he conceded. "It could be worse, though. You could have Snape for Potions."

"I guess that would be worse than Malfoy…" She smirked. "But I think Draco was checking out my ass the other day. Maybe the two of you could start a club."

Lamb couldn't stop the flush from creeping up his neck, or the hot stab of jealousy. Where did that guy get off, checking out a student like that? Just because *he* did it on a regular basis didn't mean just anyone could!

She laughed out loud at the look on his face. "Calm down, Deputy. If he tries anything, I can always give him boils. Or something."

He felt his shoulders unclench. At least it didn't seem like she was interested in the prat. What did he care, anyway? And when had he started saying "prat" again? He shook his head, and forced himself to listen to what Veronica was saying.

"So where do you go during my Potions lessons, anyway? You always stick around for the rest of my classes, why not that one? Afraid of getting blown up?"

He'd been wondering when she was going to ask that question. Honestly, he was amazed that it had taken her a month. "I go flying," he admitted quietly.

She looked confused. "Flying?"

"On a broom. Out on the Quidditch pitch. Madame Hooch has a free period during your Potions lessons, so she lets me use it then."

"You can fly?" she asked, obviously astonished. "What about the whole squib thing?"

He shrugged. "Most of the magic is in the broom anyway. It's about agility more than anything else."

She pouted. "Now you tell me. I thought it was just one more deficiency in my witchiness. It looks like fun. Maybe one of these days I'll make it twenty feet without falling off."

He smirked. "Well, if you're a very good girl, Veronica, I'll give you a ride on my broom sometime."

"You know, Weevil tried to pick me up with a similar line once."

"Did it work?"

"Well, I *have* ridden bitch," she murmured, suggestively, just to watch the steam shoot out Lamb's ears. Then, she blew him an obnoxiously cheery kiss and headed towards Potions.

"I *could* ride a bitch," muttered Lamb, heading in the opposite direction. And since he'd had a month in bed with her to try it…why the Hell hadn't he? That girl was going to be the death of him. Either that or the best sex he'd ever had. Trying not to think too much about *that* possibility, he fled to the Quidditch pitch.

Something rancid was bubbling in a cauldron when Veronica walked into the Potions classroom. Wrinkling her nose at the smell, she asked, "What died in here?"

Draco glanced up from the parchment he was reading, a look of exasperation on his face. "A third year, very nearly. I have to wait for that…concoction to finish stabilizing before I can dispose of it, or I might lose a hand. Possibly two."

"Lovely," Veronica murmured. "You like this subject why, exactly?"

Malfoy stood up and walked over to her, invading her personal space. "Don't you remember, Veronica?" he breathed. "Because it allows me to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses."

She took a step back. "Sure it does. So what are we bewitching and ensnaring today?"

"The truth," he said, surprisingly without flourish. "Veritaserum."

"Isn't that a bit…advanced?" she asked cautiously. "I mean, I have trouble brewing a simple sleeping draught."

"Don't worry," he said smoothly. "I'll be right beside you the entire way."

Great. Just what she'd always wanted.

Out on the Quidditch pitch, Lamb eagerly mounted his borrowed broom. It wasn't exactly state of the art, but all that mattered was that it allowed him to fly.

With an expert kick, he soared up into the cold blue sky, the wind whistling in his ears. This had been the one thing he actually enjoyed during his Hogwarts days, the one place where no one laughed and called him squib. He would have loved to join the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, but it was practically forbidden for first years.

Pushing aside painful memories, Lamb concentrated instead on the intensely liberating feeling of flying. Muggles simply had no idea what they were missing out on. Airplanes just couldn't compare to this. He banked right, and began a leisurely lap around the castle. As he neared the windows of the new Potions classroom, he couldn't resist flying lower. He was just curious to see what Veronica was up to, nothing more. And if that Malfoy git was trying anything…

He gritted his teeth at the thought, and flew in closer, hoping that no one would notice him hovering like a pathetic Peeping Tom. Staying off to one side, he peered through the window just in time to see Malfoy capture Veronica's mouth in a passionate kiss. With a startled yelp, he promptly fell off his broom.

Inside the classroom, Veronica placed both hands on Draco's chest and shoved. "What the hell do you think you're doing, Malfoy?" she shouted, swiping the back of her hand across her mouth in disgust.

He seemed completely shocked by her reaction. "I thought we had a connection," he replied. "You're obviously attracted to me."

She gaped at him. "And you're obviously delusional." Angrily, she turned away from him and picked up her Potions textbook. As she lifted it up, the cover caught the edge of the cauldron. They could only watch in horrified wonder as it went hurtling up into the air, sending freshly brewed Veritaserum everywhere…including into their open mouths.

On the bright side, it washed the taste of Draco right out.

"Oh, bugger," he said, coughing and spitting.

Veronica couldn't help herself. Even as she debated sticking her finger down her throat because she was starting to feel really weird inside, she asked, "So you thought we had a connection, huh?"

Draco's face got even paler. She didn't know that was humanly possible. He looked like he was trying, with the utmost effort, to keep from having a bowel movement or something. But then the words tore out of him: "N-no, I just wanted to get into your knickers."

She cackled with laughter. "I guess my potion worked, Professor!" And then the wooziness kicked in, and the sense that something very cold was filling her throat. "Oh, bugger," she echoed, closing her eyes. She was, no doubt, mere seconds from spilling everything she'd ever done in her life. Including that time she and Lilly streaked naked across the Kane property at 2 AM because they'd gotten totally wasted on Peach Schnapps.

And if she didn't move…which was proving to be difficult…she was going to be sharing that oh-so-charming story with Malfoy, who'd wanted to share bodily fluids. Oh, ew.

Could this get any worse?

Professor McGonagall burst into the classroom and answered that question. "Lamb's been taken to the hospital wing. There's been an accident."

Veronica didn't need a broom to fly.

"Wait…wait…Professor McGonagall…she's taken Veritaserum…she needs an antidote…"

She ignored Malfoy and reached Madam Pomfrey's domain in record time.

She skidded to a halt just inside the door, and scanned the hospital wing. It was empty except for a bed near the back, beside which Madam Pomfrey was standing. Suddenly nervous, and still feeling a bit nauseous from the Veritaserum, she took a few careful steps forward. What would she find when she reached the bed? How badly had Lamb been hurt? It frightened her to realize that she didn't know what she'd do without him.

"Excuse me, Madam Pomfrey?"

The older witch looked up. "Oh, hello, Miss Mars. I gather you're here to see Mr. Lamb? He's a bit groggy right now, but he should be good as new in a little while."

Relief flooded her. "That's good to hear. What happened?"

"Apparently he felt off his broom. Right outside the Potions classroom, from what I understand, though what he was doing there I'll never know."

Understanding began to dawn. So he'd been lurking outside the Potions classroom, had he? She waited until Madam Pomfrey had wandered away, and then stepped right up to the side of the bed. "Hey there, Donnie boy," she said casually.

His eyes slowly opened, and she noticed they looked a little bleary. "Veronica? What are you doing here?"

She went to make a snarky remark, but all that came out was, "I was worried about you. I wanted to make sure that you were okay." Horrified, she clapped a hand over her mouth.

"Are *you* okay?"

"I accidentally ingested Veritaserum," she admitted. Crap. She hadn't wanted him to know that. He wasn't above using it to his advantage,

Sure enough, Lamb managed a smile. It was probably the only part of him that wasn't bruised. He looked like Hell. Fortunately, living Hell. "Are you sure that's all you ingested?" he murmured. Prick. She hoped he was really hurting. Okay, she hoped he was fine, but she really, really didn't want to admit that again. "Malfoy kissed me, so there was probably some amount of saliva before I pushed him away…and I really didn't want to think about that. I didn't even have time to brush my teeth thanks to your dumb ass on that broom. I hate you, Lamb."

"Do you?" The color was starting to come back to his face and he flexed his fingers. The attitude, of course, had never left. "Do you really, truly, hate me?"

Veronica bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. She clenched her fists hard enough to cut a few half moons into her palms. Lamb stared at her, expectantly, and she couldn't get the thought of him falling out of her mind. Plummeting off that broom. Oh, God, what if no one had been there? What if he'd just ended up lying on the grounds until he…? "I don't hate you. You know that," she whispered.

He smirked. "What do you like best? My winning personality? My clear skill with a broom?"

Veronica swallowed, still tasting the remnants of serum. Thank God she wasn't in a full body bind because she turned, so at least he couldn't see her face. "I like…I like how you hold me at night."

He was dumbfounded. "How I what?"

Her voice was still barely above a whisper. "How you hold me while we sleep. You've done it every night since we got here." Before he could question her further, she ran from the room… probably in search of the antiserum and her pride.

He lay back on the slightly scratchy sheets, completely stunned. He thought back to all the mornings he'd woken up alone in the enormous bed in the North Tower. Never once had she been in his arms…or anywhere in sight, for that matter. And all this time…

He allowed himself a genuine smile. She hadn't kicked him out of bed, or asked for a different room. She had stayed.

Apparently he needed to fall off brooms more often.

Veronica managed to make it through the rest of her lessons without incident. Professor McGonagall had tracked her down and administered the Veritaserum antidote, so at least she didn't have that to worry about. Lamb had remained in the hospital wing for observation, and she was grateful for the time away from him. She wasn't sure how she was going to face him after what she had admitted.

By the time dinner was over, she was exhausted, but she was still in full-on avoidance mode. Rather than return to the North Tower, she headed for library, where she spent four hours completing her homework. She could barely keep her eyes open as she climbed the ladder, and she desperately hoped that Lamb would already be asleep.

Today just wasn't her lucky day. He was sitting up in bed, reading a magazine, which he set down as soon as he noticed her. "Hey," he said softly.

She dropped her books on the floor with a thump. "I can't deal with this tonight, Lamb. And I already took the antidote, so don't think you're going to pry any more secrets out of me."

That familiar, infuriating smirk was back. "There's more than one way to get secrets out of a woman, Veronica."

"Good to know that bump to the head didn't alter your winning personality."



"Hold me?"

She made a beeline for the bathroom, and slammed the door.

The room was dark when she finally emerged, and as far as she could tell, Lamb was asleep. Moving as silently as possible, she crawled into bed beside him and closed her eyes.

She was just drifting off to sleep when she felt his hand on her waist. Her entire body tensed, but he tugged ever so slightly. With a sigh, she relaxed, and allowed him to pull her close. Spooned together, they fell asleep.

The next morning, Veronica did what she always did. She awoke before Lamb, slowly crawling out of his arms and getting ready for the day. She tried her hardest not to look back at the bed and its occupant before she climbed down the ladder. She stopped off in the owlery to send a note to her dad before heading down to the Great Hall for a bit of brekkie. Dad's last letter had been something along the lines of, "Dear Veronica, I hear rumors that I have a teenage daughter. Have you seen her? My dog is facing major abandonment issues and I can't find my holiday socks."

She wanted to go home. She really did. But she knew that she wasn't done at Hogwarts. "Dear Mr. Mars," she'd written back. "Your daughter is in good health. She hasn't succumbed to the horrors of British dental decay or started staying 'Cheerio.' Tell Backup I love him. Your holiday socks are in the linen closet behind the extra tea towels. P.S. Lamb's okay, too. He doesn't miss being sheriff so now's the time to stage a coup."

In the Hall, a seventh year Slytherin guy gave her the eye and patted the seat next to him. Veronica kept walking. You'd think they would've noticed her up at the staff table by now and left her alone. It wasn't like the students went around hitting on, say, Professor Flitwick, did they? And if they did, she preferred to live in a state of abject denial.

Slumped in her usual chair, Hermione looked exhausted. Circles ringed her eyes and she was practically falling asleep in her coffee. "Are you alright?" Veronica asked, grabbing a scone from the nearest tray.

"Fine." The yawn and the brittle tone belied the word.

Instinctively, Veronica peered down the length of the table. Snape's chair was empty. Ah-ha. So the not-couple had a not-fight. What exactly did that say about the odds for not-makeup sex? And how exactly *had* those two gotten together? Because the mental picture of said sex was going to give Veronica a complex.

Of course, the mental picture of sex with Lamb was giving her a complex, too. Just an entirely different one. "Sex with Lamb." Good God. That had to be dark magic at work, making her even consider the words and their meaning.

She rushed through breakfast, opting out of giving Hermione her usual barrage of Snape-related shit since she was so at odds herself. Flitwick was testing her on Summoning Charms today and she was determined to prove to the tiny little wizard that she could summon anything and everything he asked her to. If only she could summon some sanity in the process.

"Oh, Veronica…?"

She paused, turning towards the table where her friend was still working on her coffee. She was probably going to be at it until long after the Great Hall cleared of students. "Yeah?"

"Could you come find after your Charms exam?" She sounded every inch Professor Granger, like the verbal equivalent of "come see me" in red ink on the cover of a blue book.

"If this is about my paper, I know The Sorcerer's Apprentice wasn't a legitimate reference. I just couldn't help myself," Veronica laughed, lamely, going into kiss-ass pupil mode.

Hermione managed a smile, though it proved strained when a familiar swirl of black robes finally appeared in the emptying hall. "No, no, it's not about your paper. In fact, I also rather enjoyed your references to 'Bored Moldywort.' Just…come to my office."

"Okay." Veronica gave her a reassuring nod…and fled before she had to contend with whatever relationship angst was about to hit the fan.

The corridor near the History of Magic classroom was crowded with students when Veronica made her way there after the Charms exam. She waited patiently until a group of awkward first year boys had dispersed, and then slipped through the door of Hermione's classroom. Her friend was scribbling furiously on a piece of parchment, and didn't seem to notice her arrival.

Veronica took a moment to study the other woman, noting the dark circles under her eyes, and the messy bun in her hair. Eventually, Hermione glanced up. "Veronica! I didn't hear you come in. How was your Charms exam?"

Veronica grinned. "It went really well. I actually feel like I know what I'm doing in that class."

"That's wonderful. I just hope you'll do as well with History of Magic next week!"

She made a face. "It's not *all* going to be about the Goblin Rebellion, is it?"

"Not all…just most of it," Hermione responded cheekily.

Veronica took a seat at one of the student tables. "So what did you want to talk to me about?"

A look of deep sadness came over Hermione's face. "I wanted to apologize for what happened during your Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson yesterday. I've told Severus time and again that humiliation is not an effective teaching method, but the bastard still seems to revel in the discomfort of students."

"How did you hear about that?" Veronica asked, suddenly fearing that all of Hogwarts knew of her showdown with her Boggart alter ego.

"Don told me about it when I went to visit him in the hospital wing yesterday. He was quite concerned about you."

"Concerned enough to be spying on me during Potions, apparently."

"What's that?"

Veronica quickly filled her in on Lamb's broom-related escapades. To her surprise, Hermione didn't seem to find it very amusing. "Come on, it was a *little* funny," she insisted.

Hermione just shook her head. "How can you be so cavalier about this? The man is obviously crazy about you, but you treat it as nothing but a joke. He followed you all the way to another country, for goodness sake! Why, I'd give anything for…" She stopped abruptly, her cheeks turning pink.

"For Snape to do that for you?" Veronica finished for her.

"Well…yes! Veronica, I've known Severus Snape more than half my life, and I can count on one hand the number of times he's shown even the slightest affection for me."

"Have you ever told him how you feel?"

Hermione's laugh was sad. "Oh, indeed! What am I supposed to say? 'Severus, I realize that you very likely hate me, but I've been desperately in love with you for the past five years. Perhaps you'd fancy a nice snog in the old Potions classroom?' The man would have me packed off to St. Mungo's straightaway!"

"You might be surprised, Professor Granger."

All of the color drained from Hermione's face as she looked up and saw Snape standing in the open doorway.

"How…how long have you been standing there?" she practically squeaked.

"Long enough…Hermione."

Veronica took that as her cue to leave, nearly bolting from the classroom, shutting the door behind her. When she had made it a sufficient distance down the corridor, she dissolved into a fit of laughter. Oh, how she wished she'd had her camera to capture Hermione's expression!

After she composed herself, she made her way to the North Tower, where she planned to do some reading before meeting Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures. She couldn't quite control the gleeful giggles that kept bubbling up as she walked. While she didn't especially want to contemplate two of her professors snogging—*particularly* Snape—she couldn't help being happy that their relationship was finally progressing.

By the time she reached her room, Veronica was practically giddy, something she hadn't felt in a long time. With a flourish of her wand, she yelled "Accio, book!" into the empty room. Her Care of Magical Creatures text came whizzing across the room and landed firmly in her hand. She hopped up on the bed and started Summoning things at random, reveling in the feel of doing magic.

Lamb poked his head up through the door in the floor, and had to duck to avoid a speeding sneaker. "Veronica, what are you doing?"

She turned to look at him, a speculative gleam in her eyes. With a careful point of her wand, she said, "Accio, Lamb."

"You're really not supposed to Summon *people*, Veronica," he grumbled as he picked himself up off the floor a moment later.

He stopped grumbling when she impulsively kissed him.

And breathing, too.

The hand holding her wand hung limply at her side as the other one came up to cup his face. She kissed him sweetly, without tongue, and it was both over much too quickly and completely perfect.

"Wh-what was that for?" he gasped, feeling like hitting the floor all over again.

"Became you came."

"It's not like I had any choice. You accio-ed me. Do you know how humiliating it is to go whizzing through the corridors of Hogwarts? Believe me, it's happened to me before. Just ask Charlie Weasley. No, never mind, don't ask Charlie because it'll give you ideas."

She punched him. And then she kissed him again. This time, it was just a little less chaste. "No, because you came *here* with me." Her hands were fisted in his robes, as if to keep him from running away, but he had no intention of going anywhere. Not when she was looking at him the way she was. With her eyes all sparkly and…and affectionate. He was having a severe Sally Field moment: You like me, you really like me!

"You don't say no to Professor McGonagall," he pointed out, his mouth going dry. "Unlike you, she can actually turn me into a coat rack."

"Stop it, Lamb. Just admit you can't say no to *me*."

"What about you, Veronica Mars? What are you saying to me right now?"

She arched up on her toes, whispered the spell. "Accio."

He closed the millimeters between them without any help from magic at all. His arms apparently knew what to do because they'd been doing it for a month without him even realizing it. "You're a witch," he sighed against her jaw. "You've always been a fucking obnoxious little witch." And the way he said "fucking obnoxious," made it patently clear that he really meant "beautiful" or "addictive," or "really fetching in a pair of low-rise jeans."

"Does that make you my flying monkey?" she teased, slipping her arms around his waist.

"Absolutely." And then he was the one initiating kisses. The kind he'd been imagining for years while trapped behind his desk back in Neptune. The kind he'd been craving ever since they landed in Hogsmeade. Yeah, he'd come here for her and he would go anywhere for her, too. Hell, he'd do anything just to breathe the same air. The taste of her, all berry-tart and laughing, was better than flying.

Which meant the landing was going to be twice as bad. Odds were, Madam P. wouldn't be able to heal the fractures with a wand-wave and a pink potion.

He pulled back with almost inhuman effort, putting a good six feet between them…though it wouldn't do much good if Veronica be-spelled him again. "You," he accused, drawing in frantic lungfuls of air (the same air!), "have no idea what you're doing. You're just…caught up in all of this. You're going to wake up tomorrow and remember reality, Veronica. It's not Hogwarts. It's Neptune and we're going to be back there as soon as you ace your last exam."

The accomplished glow from all that summoning was starting to dim a little but her nerves were jangling from the heat of his mouth, from the way it felt to be pulled against his chest while fully awake. She was completely aware of every muscle, every breath, and the fact that he wanted her so badly it had to hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. Which reminded her… "Tomorrow I'm going to wake up in your arms."

Lamb closed his eyes, tightened his jaw, and suggested, "Then maybe I need to get a different room." He looked like he was martyring himself. A concept she hadn't even realized he was familiar with.

Veronica tried not to take it too personally. At least he wasn't swishing around and playing with boggarts. Hell, she had it easy compared to Hermione. "Why now?"

"Because I'm not going to be able to lie next to you without wanting to fuck your brains out."

Oh, yeah. He was miles ahead of Severus Snape in the relationship race.

"I'm not necessarily seeing a problem with that," she pointed out, advancing a few steps. Cautiously. The man was more skittish than a wild Hippogriff (sure, Hagrid insisted that Beaky was perfectly tamed, but this was *Hagrid*.).

"Keith might see a problem. Or two. Or ten."

"Dad's in Clown College. I'm sure he and his oversized shoes will be very happy together."

"Your dog hates me."

"Actually, compared to how he acted with both Duncan and Logan, I think you two could be on the verge of a beautiful friendship."

She watched Lamb swallow panic. His Adam's apple moved up and down convulsively and she cursed herself for never noticing that tell before. It would've come in so handy back when they were staunch enemies. Fortunately, it was a great weapon now, too.

"I'm a squib," he reminded, feebly.

"Do I look like your gran and gramps?"

"No. Thank God."

"So, quit it with the maidenly vapors," she urged. "What little brains I have left after that Charms test are practically begging to be fucked out."

He whimpered. And his feet moved towards her, with the rest of him following somewhat slowly. "What if you regret it?"

"Unless you're a one minute wonder, I think I'll be okay," she snorted. But she couldn't help the doubt slipping out. The *self* doubt. "What if you regret it, Lamb?"

The realization that she was just as uncertain as he was seemed to flip a switch inside him. "Not bloody likely," he practically growled, and *goddammit* he needed to get out of this country before he started saying things like "bugger" and "wanker" on a daily basis. "The only thing I'm going to regret, Veronica, is not spending the last month in bed with you." She giggled and, bemused, he corrected his phrasing, "the last month in bed with you…inside you, all over you, and generally wearing you out until you're too tired to function."

"Why didn't you ever try?"

"I didn't want to lose a limb."

"God, I really am smarter than you, aren't I?"

And with that not-so-gentle rebuke, Veronica removed her wand from her pocket. "Accio, Lamb's robe," she said, punctuating the clear incantation with a flick-swish.

She smiled up at him, and he knew that there was no getting out of it; she had him exactly where she wanted him. Not that he was objecting, really. He reached out, settled his hands on her waist, and tugged, pulling her body flush against his. He reflected that it would be awfully handy to have a bit of magical ability right about now, but barring that, he'd have to do things the old-fashioned way.

Nimble fingers went to work on removing her robe, and a passionate kiss silenced her clever mouth, effectively stealing her magic. He felt her hands sneak beneath his t-shirt, and he decided that magic was overrated, because the warm touch of her fingers on his skin was much more satisfying than just having his clothes fly across the room.

They were forced to break their kiss when she tugged his shirt over his head, and just as he was lamenting that loss, he felt her hands and her mouth on his bare chest. Suddenly kissing didn't seem so important.

Veronica took her time exploring the broad expanse of his skin, which still had a healthy California tan. She couldn't help being impressed by the planes and contours and actual defined musculature that had been so woefully absent from her past partners. With a wicked smirk, she flicked her tongue over his nipple, and reveled in the sound of his answering hiss.

Was it possible for Hufflepuffs to speak Parseltongue or was she just that good at foreplay? Pulling back slightly, she gazed up at him. "Tell me, Donnie Boy, my Wizarding liaison and tour guide…any major differences in magical sex that I should know about?"

"I haven't had any wizard sex. Mary Sue Speedman introduced me to her Muggle delights in Fort Worth when I was 14."

She grinned. "So, this is a first time for us both."

He grinned back. "Be gentle with me." At her skeptical expression, he offered, "Or not."

There was more grinning, and he couldn't restrain himself anymore. Yanking her close, he threaded his fingers through her hair and kissed her deeply. She responded eagerly, her tongue in his mouth, her hands clutching his biceps, and his brain just on the edge of exploding.

Several sweaty, frantic moments later, she was down to nothing but her underwear, and his brain had gone right over the edge into happy, blissful pyrotechnics at the sight of almost-naked Veronica Mars.

"I was right," he gasped, rocking back on his heels to stare up at her. God, what a fantastic view.

She slid her thumbs below the waistband of her insanely practical but incredibly sexy cotton panties and began to shimmy out of them. "About what?"

"Voldemort wouldn't have stood a chance against you."

He barely gave her the chance to step out of her underwear. In fact, one ankle got tangled comically in a leg-hole as he rose and swept her up into his arms. She shook it free, sending Victoria's Secret sailing across the room to land on a dusty crystal ball they'd unearthed one quiet Sunday. They landed on the bed with pretty much the same amount of not-quite-Olympic level grace, but that didn't matter because they were kissing and she was touching him and he felt more magical than any poser squib sheriff had a right to feel.

"You were right," she murmured, rubbing her cheek against his thigh.

He jerked up, trying hard not to bite through his tongue…since Veronica would, no doubt, love the things he planned to do to her with it. "A-about what?"

"Seeing the wizard *has* made me stronger."

"Got that backbone, did you?"

"Mhmm. Amongst other things."

Veronica had a lot of things to thank Hagrid and his jaunty pink umbrella for. Finding her strength and the reserves of her magical abilities was at the top of the list, with finding Lamb…the *real* Lamb…a close second. Though thinking about the big lug at a time like this was kind of icky. Probably ickier than hoping that Snape and Hermione were in a similar naked position somewhere in Snape's secret lair. Oh, God. Naked Snape. Make it stop!

"Okay, *what* is making you make that face? I think my erection is shrinking here, Mars. I'm fragile."

Not *that* fragile. The man was seriously understating. She cocked an eyebrow at the still impressive rise beneath his animal-print boxers ("The house elves are holding my plaids hostage until I tip!" he'd excused.) and reassured him with a husky chuckle of, "Patience, Don."

"…is not a Hufflepuff virtue," he grumbled.

But loyalty was. And she had the distinct feeling that she'd made a friend for life. A friend…and definitely more. The exact definition could wait. The gorgeous, mostly naked man just a few inches away probably couldn't. Not much longer. Not without unseemly embarrassing results.

When she tuned back in to Lamb's ramblings (the man did tend to go on, didn't he?), he was observing, "You know, I think this bed is enchanted. It's not nearly as big as it looks."

She thoughtfully tapped her chin. "I wonder what *else* isn't as big as it looks…"


With a gleam in her eye that was all Slytherin cunning and Veronica Mars' pain-in-the-ass brilliance, she finished making his clothing…and his sanity…disappear. "Accio, boxers!"


December 31, 2006.

e-mail mala.