It was a commonly known fact that there was a bitter rivalry between Professor Danvers and Professor In-Ze. The two heads of Gryffindor and Slytherin barely talked to each other, and when they did, it was through hastily muttered jinxes or fierce words.
None of the students knew what had happened between the pair, and according to the prefects, they'd been at it since they were at Hogwarts together, as students, and it had never stopped.
It was at the point in the school year where they were getting particular vicious. Most of the students found it hilarious, and it was oddly one of the things that brought the Gryffindor and Slytherin students together, each side placing bets on when things would next kick off. It was a rather clandestine operation, but everyone knew about the board in the Teachers Lounge with the teachers' own bets on.
"Turn to page 155," Professor Danvers asked, flicking her wand to close the window shutters and gave the antiquated projected a few taps.
The thud of books and the odd mutterings notified Alex that they were suitably engaged. Turning towards the screen, she ran her fingertips over the scars on her wrists.
"As you know, the last Wizarding War was mostly fought by the efforts of the Order of Kal-El, an offshoot of the Order of Phoenix that existed to fight the very real and new thread that Myriad and Non Maluminus."
"Professor," Alex's eyes fluttered closed, and attempted to ignore the niggling of the ache in her wrists, "Didn't you fight in that war?"
"Yes, Mr Wiggins," the Deference the Dark arts teacher muttered. This was the last class Alex wanted to teach, but the necessities of the curriculum that Headmaster Henshaw was pushing meant it had to be taught about, in the same way the Second Wizarding War was taught earlier in the curriculum.
There were general murmurs amongst the students, and Alex knew the efforts to calm them was pointless. It was still a tough subject for staff and students alike, but it needed to be taught about.
"Somehow the Myriad troops had adapted the Imperius curse, and their concept was simple: mass mind control, permanently, to remove the Ministry of Magic and give Non the power to rule as he wished, in the memory of Lord Voldermort."
It seemed so alien for Alex to talking about it, like it was just a simple history lesson. It didn't seem like it had happened to her, only 12 years ago, just before she left Hogwarts herself. She was right where these students were about to be, and they all seemed so innocent. Despite the chaos caused, the Wizarding world was in relative peace, still reeling and rebuilding, despite the time passed.
"It was a losing battle, until Astra In-Ze, your own Head of Slytherin, revealed herself to be a triple agent, per say, working with the Order of Krypton to ultimately bring down the Myriad Program."
"But how did she manage to get in so deep, Professor?" a student called out, "She was just merely a student."
"Half-Veelas are particularly... alluring, as I'm sure you've all heard about in your other classes," Alex called out, trying to ignore the lump in her throat.
She was all to aware of their allure.
"Now, the point of this history lesson is to highlight to you how often the simplest charms can be used to great effect. The majority of the Order of Kal-El were merely students, who decided to rebel and join the forces to fight the upcoming revolution, as Non called it."
"When did you join?"
"Why do you always call him Non?"
"Didn't the other Professor Danvers have a part?"
"Did you fight alongside Professor In-Ze?"
The questions hit her like a hex each time, each one going directly to her gut and making her vision swim. She knew of her reputation, or all of their reputations, and the students were always going to be interested. But the idea of reliving it all for a mere story...
"Enough!" Alex's voice shouted, wand pressed to her throat and the sonorous charm muttered under her breath. "You will practice simple spells until you get them right, and you know how you can use them for maximum effect. Gryffindors, pair up with a Slytherin each and get started."
The professor relaxed slightly when she saw the moving students hurriedly finding a partner. With a slight flick of her wand, the desks and chairs moved to the sides of the room and made the usual space in the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom.
Retreating to the back of the room into her office, she dropped into her chair, and held her head in her hands. She knew she could go to the Hospital Wing and get Kara to give her a numbing potion, at least to take the edge off, but that would mean leaving the students and-
"I heard you were talking about me?" a voice came from the doorway. She had barely noticed the students suddenly going quiet, or the presence she knew too well standing at the entrance to her office.
"Not now, Professor."
She stood up swiftly, knocking her chair back and turning away from her fellow Head of House.
"Just not now, okay? If you want to moan about house relations or the Slytherin Quidditch team, you can talk to me at dinner."
"I brought this."
Astra stepped forward, the black robes barely fluttering. The pale hand, contrasting heavily against the dark fabric emerged and placed something on her desk.
"I thought you could do with it. I know how your wrists get when it gets brought up."
Alex couldn't stop her fingertips from running against the raised lines of the scars along her wrists. They usually didn't bother her in the summer, but the past had a way of dragging up the pain she thought had stopped a long time a go. She nearly reached for the pain potion until her hand faltered.
Her eyes finally settled on the Potions' professor. She was dressed as she usually was, the dark robes covering her thin form. The white streak in her hair still stood stark against her dark hair, that Alex knew was from a potions accident in Astra's fifth year. Her cheekbones were still as prominent, and her piercing eyes were focused on Alex.
"Thank you," the Gryffindor Head of House whispered, forcing her hands away from her wrists and instead moved to the pockets of her jeans. She avoided robes whenever she could, feeling them cumbersome, and instead went for muggle clothing most of the time.
The moment was broken when the door abruptly slammed shut behind them. Astra moved to open it, but the slight spark at her fingertips as she touched it made her recoil.
"What's wrong?" Alex asked, moving around the table to join her colleague. She could see the slight shimmer of orange through the door. Magic.
"It's sealed shut," the Potions professor muttered, waving her wands.
Alex swore under her breath lightly. It was the last thing she needed, to be stuck in her office with the one person she couldn't deal to be around right now.
She could still hear the bustle of students behind the door. One of their spells must have hit the door. Taking the wand out of the back pocket of her jeans, she quickly cast the counter spell.
Turning the doorknob again, nothing happened. She pushed hard, her shoulder jarring into the door again and again. She wasn't going to be stuck here.
"Don't touch me," Alex spat, withdrawing her arm from the light touch of the other professor.
"I don't want you to get hurt."
Alex felt the surge of emotion that had slowly being building up throughout the class come up, and she felt the magic in her sizzle.
"Well, 12 years too late."
Her mind tried to not flashback to those memories, the past that she so wanted to forget. In the grand scheme of things, she should be happy she survived, when so many others didn't. Kara's parents. Astra's twin.
"You know if I could take it back, I would."
Astra's voice was deep and raw, and Alex could see the emotion and anger brewing in her eyes.
That anger that had never really stopped for 12 years. The anger that was so different from what they had had.
"I said I loved you." She said far louder than she expected, the sound rattling inside her head amongst the pumping of her blood in her ears.
Astra went pale.
It was one thing they never talked about. The one thing they'd never mentioned.
"I said I loved you, and you walked into that battle knowing very well the likelihood of us both coming out alive. You were a triple fucking agent, and I was expected to lead half the operation, Astra, and you walked away without saying it back!"
Alex knew she was shouting. She knew the students on the other side of the door could probably hear her. But right now, all the pain that had been brewing under years of fierce looks and jinxes was coming to a head.
"So many people died that day. And all I can remember is watching Non come directly for you. I had to watch the love of my life be hunted by that mad man, and you never said it. Was I just a fling for you? Someone to fuck so you could scratch that itch? Someone to occasionally take your mind off things during the hell we were going through??"
She tried to look Astra in the eye, but her face was hidden behind the dark curtain of hair.
It felt like Alex's heart was beating out of her body. The prickling of magic and emotion entwined. She hadn't felt like this since the night horrors, the ones she had to escape with dreamless sleep so she could get past what had happened.
"I loved you."
Alex barely heard the words, hidden under the pounding of blood in her ears.
"I-If I had said it back, I wouldn't have walked into that war. And we both know we had a duty to fulfill. I couldn't admit that and then watch you die."
Alex felt her breath hitch.
"I still do."
She suddenly remembered Astra's face under the moonlight, lying beside the Great Lake. She remembered the scars that mapped her bare back, from years of abuse that Astra never talked about. She remembered the soft pressure of her lips and the feel of her breath against her neck.
Astra still loved her.
"It's been twelve years," she muttered, trying to ignore the breaking of her voice.
Astra carefully took a step towards her, and the coolness of her hands made Alex shiver.
The pressure on her scars felt odd. No-one had ever really touched them apart from her own hands, the harsh puckered skin white against Alex's slightly tanned skin. Astra's thumb felt remarkably soft despite the deep callouses from the years of potion work.
"I'll never forgive myself for these," Astra muttered, her voice thick with emotion.
Alex closed her eyes tight, trying to ignore the barrage of images. The dampness of the stone floor. The searing pain. Astra's face swimming in front of her failing vision.
"You had a cover to maintain, that was bigger than either of us."
Alex barely opened her eyes when Astra came impossible close and she suddenly felt the warmth of lips on hers. It took her seconds to respond, her body frozen amid the fury of emotions. Astra felt familiar but unknown, like a whisper of a dream coming back to her memory.
"I never stopped loving you." Alex muttered under the lips covering hers, her hands wrapped tight in Astra's robes. Her hands still hovered lightly on her wrists, her thumb rubbing gentle circles.