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Jaded by Joela

Format: Novella
Chapters: 18
Word Count: 45,228
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme,

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Lupin, McGonagall, Snape, Tonks, Narcissa, Draco, OC
Pairings: Snape/OC

First Published: 10/15/2005
Last Chapter: 04/18/2008
Last Updated: 04/22/2009

Summary:

Many many thanks to ~*JadedSolace*~ for the incredible banner! In the dark times that follow HBP it seems that there isn’t anything to be optimistic about. Nothing could be truer for a broken family. A devout wife searches for her estranged husband. ***HBP Spoilers*** Recommended Story of February 2006


Chapter 1: Preface
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A/N: God only knows what’s gotten into me (because I sure don’t) but I have to get this out of my head so I can move on!

Jaded
By: Joela


Preface


It was raining in London. It had been storming across the country for what seemed like days. Harry was awaiting the arrival of Hermione Granger at his new residence, number Twelve Grimmauld Place. He had left the Dursley’s on his 17th birthday and moved into the city; that was only yesterday. Harry had agreed to allow the old Black house to be an outpost for the Order of the Phoenix, a slowly shrinking group who was allied against the Dark Lord Voldemort. As such people were often coming and going from the ancient house.

Ron was staying with Harry on a permanent basis at the manor. Things had been grim, to say the least. It appeared that Hogwarts would remain closed indefinitely because the unthinkable had happened there only a few short months ago: a death on the grounds of the prestigious wizarding school. The head master of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, was murdered on the rooftops of the old castle. Voldemort was gaining power and the Order of the Phoenix was dwindling. It was mild to say things were grim.

Harry and Ron had received word from Hermione that her parents wouldn’t let her leave their ‘protective’ care until they absolutely had to. She would be 18 soon, and as the Muggle law said, they would have to let her go. She would come soon, but until then they would wait for her. Harry had made a vow not to leave for Godric’s Hollow until she returned to them, and he intended to keep that pact.

The Order members really didn’t stay that often when they came, if they came at all. Number 12 was not a safe place for them to convene as the traitor among them knew of the house’s location. This evening there were four Order members at Harry’s house, a very rare occasion indeed.

Ron had just opened the door for the fourth.

A tall woman came in quickly dropping the hood of her cloak back she nodded stiffly to him, “Mr. Weasley.”

“Hello Professor,” Ron said solemnly.

Minerva McGonagall swept her cloak off and shook the water from it before hanging it on the hat rack by the door. She reached out and patted his shoulder sharply. She said nothing as she headed hurriedly toward the kitchen.

Remus barely glanced up from some parchments he was looking at when McGonagall entered. However, Tonks leapt nervously to her feet and Molly Weasley dropped a teacup that fell to the stone floor shattering into hundreds of pieces leaving hot tea all over the ground.

“I didn’t mean to startle everyone,” McGonagall said clearly into the silence that followed the crash.

“Oh Minerva,” Molly waved a shaky hand, “you didn’t startle us.”

“I’ve just come from the bedside of Archer McAlister, he was attacked by a group of Death Eaters in one of the southern cities.”

“Anything?” Remus asked passing another glance at McGonagall.

Her lips thinned unhappily, unblinking she shook her head, “Nothing. He could tell me nothing.”

“It’s getting worse,” Tonks said collapsing back into her chair.

A silent look between Remus and Tonks went unnoticed by the others, but it made a brief smile pass over Tonks’ lips.

“Were we expecting any other members?” McGonagall asked suddenly.

“What?” Molly asked, a bit taken aback by the query.

“I don’t believe so,” Remus answered.

“I heard a knock,” McGonagall extracted her wand and left the kitchen. Quickly the others followed.

McGonagall was glad to see that the knock seemed to have been missed by Harry and Ron. She glanced over her shoulder at the three who had fallen, strategically, in behind her. Without hesitation she snatched the door open and four wands jerked out at the ready. Lightening flashed and the silhouette of a slight individual accompanied by a much smaller body illuminated in the instantaneous flash.

“I must see Albus Dumbledore or Minerva McGonagall,” The hoarse voice of a woman came from the person in the middle shouting over the clapping thunder and driving rain.


Chapter 2: Pride
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Pride


“Madeline?” McGonagall asked, squinting at the figure.

“Minerva,” the woman said jerking her hood off, even in the rain. She called over the echo of the heavy down pour, “Yes it’s me. Please let us in.”

“Go away Madeline,” McGonagall growled, “you’re not welcome here!”

At first the three had started to let their wands fall, but at the new tone in the old woman’s words they all went stiff again.

A whimper came from the small person next to the woman called Madeline. Shivering it clutched at her leg after clearly fighting the cold for some time. She raised her chin to the four, with water dripping from her nose, eyelashes, and chin she went on, “I was told to come here if things went badly. Things are going badly!”

“I said you are unwelcome in this house!” McGonagall reiterated.

Madeline stepped forward, “I must have answers.”

“We have none,” McGonagall sniffed.

“Please,” Madeline said, with absolutely no inflection, “we’ve come so far.”

There was a pause and Molly dropped her wand and hurried around McGonagall throwing the door open the whole way, “For heavens sake Minerva she has a child in the rain. Let them in.”

“As do many Death Eaters,” McGonagall snapped sharply as her nostril’s flared.

Madeline stepped in after the tiny boy. She seemed to have missed McGonagall’s accusation or she was purposely ignoring her sassy attitude. Remus and Tonks both let their wands drop by their sides, however neither was so hasty as to put their wands completely away.

Once completely inside Madeline dropped to her knee next to the little boy. She quickly unfastened his heavy black rain cloak and swept it off. He was shivering under the thick material. She pulled him close and rubbed his tiny body until his quivering subsided. Being a mother herself Molly recognized the bond between the two and knew first hand Madeline’s concern for the little tyke.

Upon better inspection Molly saw a handsome family. The child didn’t look a day over three. He was thin but appeared to be well cared for in his fine clothes. He had clearly inherited his mother’s bronzy skin. He had dark hair and huge matching inky black eyes that were silently taking in the surrounds. Molly recognized his inquisitive expression but she couldn’t place it.

Finally Madeline got to her feet. She appeared to be in her late twenties. She was petite, looking quite dwarfed next to the extraordinarily tall Minerva McGonagall. She strangely resembled McGonagall. Her sharp features mirrored the old witch in many ways. However, where Minerva’s features made her look severe Madeline’s were prim if not arrogantly haughty. It was as she removed her hooded rain cloak that Molly was truly relieved that she asked them in; despite her lithe frame Madeline was carrying a heavy swollen abdomen under her fine crimson robes.

She looked over to Minerva, “I can assure you, I’m not a ‘Death Eater’. I have no need to meddle in your affairs, I’m here for news. Forgive me,” she gave a slight bow to other three, “I’m Madeline Alcott.” She placed a hand on either of the boy’s shoulders, “This is my son, Sereth.”

As she, Remus, and Tonks exchanged introductions Molly was better able to hear Madeline’s proper dialect. It was clear that her accent was American without the interference of the pounding rain.

“It’s a pleasure,” Madeline produced a slim smile. “Now, please, any information you can give me about the status of Hogwarts would be helpful. I’ve been in a frightful worry. I have heard nothing in months and all my letters to the school have been returned.”

“Surely you’re not serious,” McGonagall said in sheer disbelief.

“I would not risk my children’s safety by throwing them into an active war zone were I not absolutely serious.”

She needed to hear nothing more, McGonagall bowed her head briefly. “Molly,” she said, turning her gaze firmly on Madeline again, “perhaps you should take Sereth into the living room where he can warm by the fire.”

It was clear that the thought to argue passed over Madeline’s face but McGonagall reached out and placed a hand on her arm. Taking a deep breath Madeline knelt next to her son, “Sereth, go with Mrs. Weasley just for a few moments.”

The child gave a tiny, almost unperceivable, nod.

Gently she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”

“Yes, mommy,” His tiny voice amended his action.

Madeline took his hands and squeezed them, “Thank you.”

Quickly he leaned over and pressed his lips to hers and then reached way up placing his hand in Molly’s. Madeline watched for a moment while he trotted swiftly alongside her to keep up. She stood and smoothed her robes before turning back to them.

“How old is he?” Tonks asked.

“He’s just turned three.”

“Please,” McGonagall gestured in the other direction and they started to make their way toward the kitchen. “If you are speaking true and you honestly don’t know the circumstances surrounding Hogwarts then you most certainly are in grave danger.”

“Goodness Minerva, you make it sound as if someone’s died.”

Everyone stopped just long enough for Madeline to realize she’d made a verbal error. She saw pain in McGonagall’s eyes and a clear expression of melancholy on both faces of Remus and Tonks.

As they stepped into the kitchen Madeline whispered, “Good God, what’s happened?”

“I’m afraid there’s no gentle way to say this,” McGonagall began. “Severus Snape is responsible for the death of Albus Dumbledore; while on the Hogwarts grounds.”

Despite her proud manner and obnoxiously prim etiquette Remus had to catch Madeline rather suddenly at these words. She recovered almost instantly. She nodded a quick thank you to Remus before shaking her head and pointing her nose in the air, “Impossible.”

“It’s true,” Remus confirmed.

“I don’t believe you,” she sniffed.

“Maybe you should sit Madeline,” Tonks offered, drawing a chair away from the kitchen table for her. Madeline shook her head, cradling her belly as she sat. Her mind was reeling. She thought surely she’d spill her last meal on the floor in front of them. She knew she had to pull it together; she had to focus and get answers. Thousands of miles away from home in the presence of near strangers was not the place to loose her composure. Surely there was some explanation for all of this misunderstanding.

After sitting in rigid silence McGonagall cleared her throat and went on rather uncomfortably, “Madeline…you knew nothing of this?”

She should have seen it coming, but she didn’t and it hit her like a ton of bricks falling from a skyscraper. Again she remained calm as she shook her head, “No, I didn’t. He mentioned nothing of the sort over Christmas.”

“Are we to understand that you are familiar with Severus?” Remus queried awkwardly.

Madeline arched an eyebrow at him, an expression that gave her a very stern look, “I would have to say so. We’re married.”

Tonks snorted, then proceeded to cough from behind a teacup she had just raised to her lips. She lowered the cup and stifled her choking coughs, masking them very poorly before adding, “Forgive me. How were we unaware that Severus was married?”

“There were a select few that knew the conditions of our union. Minerva was one of those individuals. Our relationship is very delicate. Severus lives here in England while I remain in the United States. We are both teachers and as such we spend holidays together. Some might find our style odd but for us it works nicely. I was under the impression that Severus had a fear of the Dark Lord. He asked me not to take his name for my safety. We had decided that once this war was settled we’d make our family sedentary somewhere; as I would have it. I think he’s been intentionally hiding me. Whether for my safety, as he would have me believe, or because of his fear of what the Dark Lord might say or do to him remains to be seen.”

“Does he know of the child?” Remus asked quickly, indicating her belly.

“No. I spent two days over Christmas at Hogwarts. That’s when this happened. I haven’t spoken to him since.”

“Your owls were returned from Christmas on?” McGonagall asked.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I’m still a little unclear on how this happened,” Tonks was pacing the length of the table with her hand pressed to her forehead. “When did you meet?” She stopped abruptly and looked, disbelieving, at Mrs. Snape.

Madeline looked over to Tonks, “It was the summer of 1990, and I was as naïve as I could be. I was twenty years old, fresh out of advanced schooling, had been offered and accepted a teaching position at the Academy of Alchemy, where the administrators thought it would be wise to send some of us for additional training at seminars around the world. As you know, magic is practiced differently across the world and would be advantageous for us, as instructors, to understand better for versatility. Hogwarts was my team’s final stop. Albus Dumbledore had offered several courses that had been approved by the Ministry of Magic for the summer world wide, event. Like many of your regular students, I’m sure, I’ll never forget the first moment I set foot through those castle doors…”

---


“It’s enormous!”

“No kidding.”

“Come on Madeline, we don’t want to loose you in this place.”

Madeline Alcott was one of five who were visitors from the Academy of Alchemy that would be learning a little more about the practices of the most prestigious school in England, and maybe even the world. She had seen many magnificent things on her trip from Australia to China, then north through Russia, across to Germany, then France, and now England, but nothing as breathtaking as the view from the Great Hall in Hogwarts castle. She was looking curiously out one of the tall windows that overlooked the grounds when a voice interrupted her.

“Magnificent, isn’t it?”

Madeline turned to see who had addressed her. She found herself faced with a tall, ancient man, she immediately recognized as Albus Dumbledore. She nodded stiffly, “I concur, I’ve never seen its equal.”

“You’re young, you have time.” He bowed his head, “Albus Dumbledore.”

“Madeline Alcott, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“The pleasure is mine,” Dumbledore said passing by and going to the next person to greet. Unfazed by his odd behavior Madeline went back to appraising the lush lawn that extended out to a lake, which was overhung by a giant tree. She stayed there until Dumbledore called the group to attention.

“Please, join us here, at the table.” Dumbledore said, gesturing to a long table that was prepared for nine spots at the very end.

The five foreign instructors took their seats next to one another while Dumbledore sat across from them, surrounded by a tall, slim, old witch, an unnaturally large man, and a surly looking guy dressed in black.

“I trust your journeys have been kind and earned you much knowledge,” Dumbledore began. “I’d like you to meet Hogwarts' deputy headmistress Minerva McGonagall, she will be showing you a little about transfiguration,” he gestured to the only female among them. Next he pointed down the row to the gloomy looking figure, “Professor Snape is our Potions Master, he will be demonstrating for you Alchemists a few advanced potions and he will also be giving a few basic lessons in the area of Defense Against the Dark Arts.” At this Madeline narrowed her eyes and turned from him quickly glancing down the table to the last man to be introduced, “And finally our game keeper and grounds supervisor, Rubeus Hagrid.”

The large man gave an awkward, but friendly wave to the group.

“Now, as I understand it you five are from a school that has particular focus bases: meaning that you know limited general magic and more-so focus your strengths in one discipline.”

They all affirmed what Dumbledore had said.

“Our courses will broaden your understanding of magic in general, as you know these events are meant to; for our professors to better understand your way of educating let us explain and examine this issue. Here,” Dumbledore offered to the first Academy instructor, “is Cooper Bishop, his focus is…”

As Dumbledore let the words hang Cooper cleared his throat, “Uh…my focus is evocation, specifically Electromancy. I harness and use electrical currents offensively and defensively.” He nervously shifted, indicating he was finished speaking.

Taking her cue the next in line went. She was more excited and at ease when speaking to the group, “I’m also in evocation. I’m Kantela Bailey. My area of expertise in evocation is Pyromancy. My abilities mirror Warrens only rather than electric I can manage fire.”

“Carlyn Menard,” the third spoke, barely over a whisper, “My focus is Illusionary and Enchantment. My abilities are mostly defensive, I can control a crowd through mesmerizes and confusion spells, among others. More narrowly I am in the field of control, I can levitate multiple objects and managed their different directions all at once.”

“Hey. Mullins, Brent Mullins,” the fourth, quite mellow, gave a lazy wave, “I’m the main Healing instructor. I mostly speed up the convalescent process. My focus is medicinal in nature, it’s that simple really.”

All eyes fell on Madeline. Sitting very still, with her hands folded delicately in her lap, she met the eyes of each at table across from her before she spoke. She knew, when she started speaking someone, on either side, would become adversarial and she expected it to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. “My focus,” she raised an eyebrow, passing her stern look on Severus, “is in a discipline I was strictly instructed not to practice, nor demonstrate while on these ground. The Minister of Magic himself addressed me personally and warned me that I would be tossed into Azkaban, is it, without the batting of an eye should I step out of line in the least. It would seem that you’re going to have your hands full Mr. Snape, I’m a Necromancer. My art by nature is dark.” She waited for a flinch or sneer from what she mistook as the official Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She had come to know that most people of magical origins gave her a wide berth when they found her wizarding strengths. When she received no reaction she went on, “My secondary skill is evocation, in the Pyromancy range because I was brought onto the team to manage a local vampire infestation; though my first education is an expertise in skeletal rising.”

“You must understand the way we see it, it isn’t the magic that makes the individual evil or dark, it’s the individual themselves that manage that,” Carlyn added as if to give an excuse for Madeline’s presence in the castle.

“Right,” Kantela snapped under her breath.

“Right,” Madeline confirmed haughtily, “my skills have been your saving grace more than once.”

“Kantela,” Brent barked before she had time to rebuttal. “Madeline’s right, she’s rescued you too many times to count, and you owe her for that even if you fear her focus set.”

Nostrils flaring Kantela stood down from the argument, and Madeline turned her head, still held high, away from others. She knew one of them would break, her line of work could be touchy at times. Kantela was still bitter about a trap she’s fallen into by the vampires just before leaving the U.S. and her aggression had been misguided at her savior – the young Necromancer who arrogantly frowned on the others.

“Well,” Dumbledore said clapping his hands together, “It’s lovely to have you here. Your rooms have been made up for you, you’ll find your belongings there now. The rest of the night you may rest, we will have supper at sunset, and lessons will commence tomorrow.”

She needed a map, but would never try and find someone to help direct her. She couldn’t remember which corridor she’d taken last. Hagrid had told her that she couldn’t miss it when he gave them all instruction on how to get to their rooms.

“Can’t miss it,” she sniffed, aggravated, stomping her foot in frustration.

“What is it that you can’t miss?”

Madeline swung to see the stern looking Potions Master. She glanced up to him, desperately hoping that the lost expression she was certain she was had been wearing was gone. She stiffened and produced a coy smile, “Come to lecture me in private on the wicked ways of my existence?”

“Hardly,” He hissed.

There was a momentary silence that turned into understanding. When Severus offered his arm to the woman, she took it. She would be better suited being led by someone who knew the castle then sulkily being lost on her own. “I’m hoping that you’ll be able to give me an advantage by knowing the way my adversaries will see me, in your Defense Against the Dark Arts seminars.”

“I see,” he said guiding her smoothly down an adjacent corridor. “I know there are institutions throughout Europe that give lessons in the Dark Arts but I had no idea that there were places that turned out actual Necromancers.”

“Clearly you haven’t done enough research then.”

“You needn’t be so defensive Madeline,” he said suddenly. “I find it necessary to tell you, I’m not judging you by your profession. On the contrary, I’m fascinated by it.”

“So that you would use me as an example in your next Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson? No,” she snapped, “I will not be your test subject on which to conduct your little experiments.”

“You misunderstand,” he said plainly, taking another turn. “I’m only standing in as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor because I understand the Dark Arts intimately. My true position is Potions Master, and that alone.”

“I see,” Madeline didn’t offer an apology, though it was understood between them.

“Here we are,” Severus said suddenly, stopping in front of a door.

“Where?” She looked up to him with wide eyes, momentarily letting her guard down and for a brief instance allowing him see her innocence.

He dropped her arm, “Your room.” And with that, he turned and headed back down the hall. She watched him in awe, he hadn’t needed to point out her conundrum and his advantage over her, instead he fixed the situation without making her look foolish – a feat that impressed her. In that moment, knowing that he had respected her pride, Madeline found instant infatuation. It was something she had never experienced before. And, as it stood, she wasn’t sure if she liked it or not.

As the days past, her crush grew. She found herself daydreaming and following along after the Potions Master if just to get a passing glance. She knew nothing of appearance, her feelings had transcended physical, she loved him for his proud manner.

“Madeline,” Severus looked up from his desk in the office that was across from the potions dungeon, “you’re here, again.”

“Yes,” she said briefly, then grasping for something to discuss she went on, “I understand the theories of...”

“You understand everything,” he said, “you have no need to discuss if further. You are a gifted Alchemist and that translates admirably to Potions.” He didn’t ask why she’d come, it would be breeching that ever condescending pride she carried with her.

“Severus,” she said finally, “I’ve brought you something I thought you might enjoy.” She extended a thick leather bound book to him. Across the front were the words, Advanced Necromancy. “I just finished reading it. It’s an excellent guide for those of us who are fascinated by my profession. I thought it might give you a better understanding of me.”

He looked at the crisp cover on the book, his fingers itching to open it right there. He fought the urge and gently placed the book on the desk, “Thank you.”

“Your welcome.”

“I would like to understand you Madeline. And though this book might be an excellent representation of what you do it does not make you.”

She looked affronted, “It is what I most identify with.”

He raised a hand, “Again, you misunderstand me. Though I look forward to reading this book, I would like more to understand you by talking with you. Would you consider a private dinner with me tonight?”

A brief smile passed over her lips, “I would be delighted to join you.”


---


Tonks looked completely appalled at the idea that Snape was married and more so that there was a ‘dating’ period that befell the murderer, but Madeline didn’t seem to notice.

“We were married by Christmas. There never seemed to be a more appropriate match then ours.”

“Yes, and now you can see our hesitation,” Remus remarked, uncharacteristically bitter.

“I understand your questioning of me. But you must also understand it is not my business, my place, or my interest to join in this war.”

“Surely Voldemort could use a witch of your talents,” McGonagall interjected. “And so could we.”

“No,” she said with some sort of finality. “You know Minerva, though I am good at what you call the Dark Arts I have many failings in your basic magic. My purpose in magic differs from yours and as such I would, in fact, be at a disadvantage.”

“He’s using Inferi, you have the skills to manage them,” McGonagall added.

“Yes,” she said plainly, “but I must remind you, this is not my war. I will not yield either way. I’m sorry. I’ve come to find my husband, and I plan on doing just that. Now, though, it would seem I have more questions than answers. I have no intention of fighting against you either Minerva. Know that I have no plan of joining Severus, if what you say is true. However, I do want answers from him. My concern and decision not to join is strictly for the safety of my children, you must understand. My opinion and answer to you might be different had I nothing to concern myself with except myself.”

McGonagall nodded in a conciliatory manner, “Should you change your mind…”

“I’ll know where to look,” she said climbing to her feet. “Thank you, for you hospitality and your information.”

“Where will you go next?” Tonks asked.

“I have a pretty good idea.”

~*~*~

A/N: Thank you for checking out chapter 2. I hope you enjoy this chapter. I would be greatly appreciative if you would be kind enough to let me know what you think when you’re done reading. This story has been plaguing me and I just had to tell it. As we go through this search with Madeline you will see many snippets of Snape's life...that is what this story is intended to be...a collage of Snape's life. Again, thank you for reading and please let me know what you think if you have a moment.

Chapter 3: A Man’s House is His Castle
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A Man's House is His Castle


It was sunny on the countryside, the following afternoon, when Madeline and Sereth arrived at a little cottage on the outskirts of a tiny coastal community.

“The beach,” Sereth pointed across a large open prairie that seemed to stretch for miles where it finally met a cool aquamarine body of water.

“Yes baby,” Madeline said.

She silently wished that the beauty she saw surrounding them would extend beyond the door and into the tiny house, but she knew that was nothing more than a wistful hope that was soon dashed from her mind. She didn’t bother with dreams anymore, it was a waste of energy.

Realizing she could put it off no longer she reached out and rapped quickly. Hurried, shuffling footsteps could be heard on the other side of the paper-thin door. The door inched open and two huge, scared eyes set in a less than pretty face peered out from the small crack between them. An unidentifiable sigh echoed as the door swung open.

“Madeline, Sereth.” The woman was wearing a reluctant smile. Madeline didn’t mistake it for anything less than pure joy, for she had only seen the tired woman, worn well beyond her years, smile a handful of times in the past seven years that she had known her. When she did smile, though it looked reserved, it was always genuine.

“Eileen,” Madeline greeted her mother-in-law with some sort of mixed feelings that she couldn’t quite identify.

“Please, come in,” the frail, fragile woman said just as Sereth was wrapping his tiny arms around her leg. The same, wary, smile passed over her face as she bent and collected the little boy in her arms.

“Is Tobias home?” she asked peeking into the small living room as she stepped through the threshold of years of pain and toil. Madeline felt awkward in very few places, however this was one of those few places where she would have been happy to avoid if she could. She couldn’t bring herself to admire the shell that was Eileen Snape, the only thing left of the once cleaver witch was a broken old woman who was filled with her husband’s ridiculous notions about the world, which Eileen fought internally because she didn’t want to believe them. Madeline pitied her, beyond anything else.

“No,” Eileen said quietly, bowing her head, “I am expecting him later this afternoon. Oh my,” Eileen freed her hands from the grasp she had on Sereth and placed them, shocked, to her mouth. The smile again, Madeline thought surely the woman would die from happiness due to their visit. “I had no idea you and Severus planned another baby.” She eagerly reached for Madeline’s stomach, but recoiled and turned away before touching her, “I’m sorry.” She quivered.

Madeline’s brow furrowed and she sighed pitifully on Eileen. She reached out to her, “Eileen,” she took her by the shoulders and scooping her hand up she pressed it to her belly, “don’t be sorry. We’re family. Though I must admit Sev and I never planned children – we didn’t not plan them either, however I’ve been surprised, twice.”

At this Eileen put both hands on her, “Wonderful,” she whispered more to herself than anything, “Severus always wanted a girl.” Eileen looked at Madeline’s young face, into her eyes and said, “He loves you, dear.”

“Yes,” Madeline agreed to pacify her. She turned away, “I’ve come to ask about Sev…” she glanced over her shoulder, “When was the last that you heard from him?”

Eileen was still standing as she had been, with her hands extended to where Madeline was standing, but had since left. She thought for a moment, “Christmas I suppose. When I received your gift and letter.”

“You only received the items from the two of us?” Madeline asked.

“Yes,” Eileen said.

“The one sent by post, not owl?”

“That’s right. It is odd that I haven’t heard from him, he usually writes monthly. Yes,” she nodded as if surprised by this new fact, “The first of the month, I always hear from him.”

Severus had warned Madeline about sending owls to his parent’s house. Mr. Snape loathed owls and everything they stood for so for Christmas they always sent mail the Muggle way as to prevent any misunderstandings between the husband and wife.

“Please come in, sit. I’ll make some tea.” Eileen urged.

Again, to pacify her, Madeline agreed to a cup of tea. She settled Sereth in a seat at the kitchen table first, where he could barely see the table top. He seemed pleased just being allowed to sit at the table with his mother. She smiled, a trait she rarely exhibited as well, at him as she told him to place the napkin on his lap. He did so, but it fell to the ground. Madeline retrieved it for him several times as it reacted the same continuously. Finally she instructed him to sit all the way back. He laughed at the mini game they’d played until Eileen returned with the tea.

“He laughs,” Eileen mumbled, pleased; it was clearly a silent wish she had always harbored for her own son that never seemed to come to fruition. She placed a cup in front of Madeline, a bowl of steamy porridge in front of Sereth, and took another cup of tea to her seat with her. Just as Madeline was placing a sugar cube in the steaming liquid they all heard the door slam hard enough to rattle their teacups.

“Oh my,” Eileen said suddenly, in sheer terror. “Sereth!”

The little boy looked across the table to his grandmother (where he had been perched on several pillows, as his porridge was delivered, to reach is food). She moved to get to her feet but froze, as heavy footsteps thumped toward the dining room, and time seemed to elapse all that much faster.

“Eileen!” Came the thundering voice as the footsteps entered the room. All three heads turned to see a thick, mean looking aged man with long dark hair and a hooked nose.

“What the hell are you doing here? And where’s that good for nothing son of mine,” He boomed.

Madeline narrowed her eyes, and sipped her tea placidly, “It’s lovely to see you too Tobias.”

“Damn Yanks have no respect!” He growled just as he noticed young Sereth…in his seat. His face turned red and no words came as he launched himself, with no warning, at the very confused looking little boy.

Madeline tossed her teacup down and scrambled to her feet, while Eileen clapped her hands to the sides of her face as she was thrust several decades into the past…

---


Tears, a lot of tears. That’s what filled the house from the day Tobias Snape brought Eileen Prince, as his new wife, into it. There had been even more tear falls the day Eileen was told by a Muggle doctor that she would soon produce a child. She had wanted to be joyful, she had wanted to laugh and be excited, but she knew her husband and she knew the only reaction she would get from him was negative in nature.

He had fooled her, told her he loved her, before she knew his true nature. He became the dangerous Tobias who came barreling at her with vicious intent days after their union. Because she had little experience with being the recipient of male attention she had quickly fallen desperately in love with him the moment he spoke to her, regardless of his non magical upbringing. Her parents had arrogantly disowned her when she agreed to marry him.

His abusive nature didn’t stop with her; her baby, the thing she cherished most, became another focus of his rage. There was no indication of what made him so violent or any signal when he would break and, as with most abuse cases, when Tobias took his family out (a rare occasion indeed) they portrayed a perfect, well mannered, normal, household.

The day was a bright and sunny one, with golden rays filtering into the dining room bringing with them the salt spray smell of the ocean that was not so far off. Tiny six year old Severus was contented eating his porridge and Tobias was grumbling distastefully at the newspaper in his hand. Eileen stepped into the kitchen for a matter of seconds when she heard the sound of ceramic shattering and then a muffled thud. She dropped the rag she had just collected to start on the dishes and bolted for the next room over.

Severus was precariously hanging several inches off the ground by his father’s grasp, a nasty bloody nose seemed to be the result of the noise Eileen had heard.

“I told you NO!” Tobias shook the house with his shout. Eileen came around the table.

“Tobias please,” she begged, her eyes fixed on the small boy trembling with his tear filled eyes squeezed tightly shut anticipating another blow.

Severus fell to the floor in a crumpled heap and Tobias turned on her, “If I wanted anything from you…” he was so irate he didn’t finish his thought, but he brought hell’s fury down on her. Severus’s small whimpering cries couldn’t be distinguished over the violence taking place before him. He huddled himself in the corner and sobbed: all of this just because he asked to be allowed to go out and play in the warm spring day.


---


“NO!” Madeline dove for Tobias, but it was too late. Sereth had been hefted out of the chair and tossed like a rag doll across the room. She ran to her son, dropping all semblance of pride, and skidded on her knees next to him. The child had two large tears welling in either eye. She sat him up in the corner where he looked at her sadly, sitting absolutely still, making no sound what-so-ever.

Madeline climbed to her feet and swung on her father-in-law, “How dare you!” She growled lowly as she trembled with rage.

“Stupid boy shouldn’t have been in my chair! You damn Yanks think you can waltz in here and do whatever you like, whenever you like. Somebody’s got to teach you and if my son is too afraid or stupid to do it -”

“Severus is a good man and I would never stand for such injustices!” She raised her chin high, “No one should.” Reapplying her haughty attitude she looked down on him and lowered her voice dangerously, “You don’t deserve what you have you disgusting piece of filth!”

No sooner had the words left her mouth than she felt the world spinning and her face searing in hot pain. She could barely make out Sereth’s shout over the ringing in her ears. Sereth had climbed onto her and she wrapped her arms around him, picking him up with her as she got up from the ground.

“Good heavens, she’s pregnant Tobias,” Eileen managed to say barely above a whisper.

“It won’t be the first mistake Severus has made,” Tobias spat.

Madeline didn’t budge for a moment, she stood her ground holding her son while trying to regain her bearings. Her head felt like it had split wide open and the world was still spinning around her.

“You’re right, it won’t. I’m sorry Eileen,” she said glancing at the terrified woman then she looked to Tobias, “You’re lucky I’m not in a more dangerous mood myself.” And with that she turned and left the Snape house with no lingering regrets and no more than a second thought. She wished for a very brief moment that she had made Tobias understand the real meaning of pain, but she respected Severus more than that and she wanted no additional problems for Eileen. She ran the thought from her mind, she had no time to bother with the past, her next destination was far and she had to make it there with haste.

~*~*~

A/N: As always, thank you for reading. Please let me know what you think and that I'm not totally crazy for writing this tale. I’m having writer’s remorse for this story, haha. Chapter title borrowed from the song of the same title.

Chapter 4: Not Quite What Was Intended
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Not Quite What Was Intended


It was dusk when the train pulled into Hogsmeade village. The shops were closed up tight and only two people, aside from Madeline and Sereth, climbed off the car.

“Dark times mum,” A pruned old man said to her.

“Yes, dark times, indeed,” she murmured as she pulled her hood up around her head and watched to make sure her son followed her lead. He did and then reached up and took her hand.

The man bowed his head and scurried off in another direction, presumably toward the Hog’s Head. Madeline smirked, watching him disappear in the distance. She suspected the Hog’s Head would be closed, but she couldn’t be sure. It mattered little to her; Hogwarts was quite a distance and she knew they’d have to walk it.

An unnaturally cold fog had settled all around the area. It was chilly as the night wind picked up. They started the long walk to the castle.

Sereth was dragging his feet by the time they could see the gates of the closed school. He had been a little trooper, fighting his sleepiness the whole way without complaint. Madeline, on the other hand, was certain her feet were swollen and her face was aching from the chill. Tobias had split her face wide open where his hand came across her cheekbone. She didn’t have time to find a magical healer, she had sworn and wished Brent were nearby, he could clean that little cut up with no trouble at all. However, as it stood, she had no friends here to fix the constantly bleeding laceration and had to make due with a little Muggle practitioner in the city outside of Severus’s hometown. He had administered no pain medication as he explained that he was giving her seventeen stitches. Sereth had also suffered a nasty broken arm, that was set in a series of bandages and plaster the doctor who had stitched Madeline’s face called, ‘a cast’. He had a huge deep purple welt that had also grown to the size of an egg on the side of his head.

Though the school was closed the gates were wide open. The entire grounds were laid out before them. Not a single window was illuminated in the pitch black night. However a pearly white tomb was almost glowing in the scarce moonlight. A lump developed in Madeline’s throat, but you could never tell from her outward appearance. She guided Sereth toward the stone casket.

They stood for several moments before the new home of Albus Dumbledore’s body. Sereth was starting to sway with tire so Madeline took him several feet away and laid him in the grass, placing her traveling cloak over him as a makeshift blanket.

She floated back over to Dumbledore. She circled the tomb, before finally reaching out and placing her hands on it, “My God! What’s happened? It can’t be true, it can’t,” she was almost begging now, in the solitude of her own thoughts. She could almost hear his voice:

“Magnificent, isn’t it?”
“You’re young, you have time...”


He had trusted her husband and, as it looked from here, Severus had betrayed the only man who gave him complete faith. He trusted Severus enough to disclose the location of the Order to her.

The thought to commune with him through magic crossed her mind, but left quickly – speaking with the dead could be dangerous. She would not betray his memory by violating his rest. He would not have wanted that. His dancing eyes were playing over and over in her mind. He had been one of the few who had known her well enough to trust her. Many were hesitant, from the moment they learned of her trade, Minerva McGonagall was one of those skeptics, but not Albus Dumbledore; he had a special way of appraising the person and nothing more.

She had seen their interactions, she knew what Dumbledore had meant to Severus, it just didn’t make sense…

---


“Are you certain there is no one you wish to invite?”

Severus was looking rather disgruntled, but that was nothing uncommon. He didn’t respond.

Madeline waited. When the silence dragged on for several minutes she said, “It is unlikely that they will attend. It’s so far, however you might be more comfortable knowing people if they see fit to attend.”

“Comfort is not my concern,” he said, standing and stalking across his office. He often swooped around letting his robes billow behind him when stalking, she noticed, an act that gave him a bat-like appearance. She held back a shutter, it was amazing how vampire in nature it was. “My goal for that day is already outlined,” he said turning back and extending his hand to her.

She placed the quill and parchment to the side and went to him, giving her hand to him. He pulled her nearer, “My intention is to make a promise.”

“As is mine,” she watched him trace the lines of her face with his eyes. If he could look gentle, he did in that brief moment while memorizing her features. “It was kind of you to agree to allow this event at my home. The least we could do is invite some of your friends.” She said quietly.

He turned from her, standing rigidly with his hands pressed behind his back, “As I fear a soon rising of the Dark Lord I wouldn’t have it any other way. It would be unsafe for you, should it be known among my peers that I have been wed. And should the Dark Lord ever find the truth…well I wouldn’t even want to linger on the thought. Therefore the only option for your desired full festive event is to have it across the sea. My mother will be there, and I would like to extend an invitation to Albus Dumbledore.”

“You must remember Severus, this is none of my doing, my family wouldn’t allow it without a ‘full festive event’.” Madeline reminded him.

“Indeed,” he snapped crisply.

“I shall speak to Dumbledore myself then.”

“Excellent.”

The time passed quickly, and before Severus knew it December was upon him. He had arrived two weeks before the wedding and felt as if he had seen Madeline less than ever in those two weeks. It was a whirlwind event which led to him standing in a corridor that led into a receiving hall where he would promise his life to someone else. It would be a lie to say he wasn’t afraid.

He glanced through a long window where he could see hundreds of people waiting for him. They didn’t seem anxious, rather they seemed calm among their private conversations. Then, at a table near the front his eye caught a long silver beard and tall pointed hat of deep violet. Dumbledore had come. He was merrily chatting with a group of equally ancient wizards who seemed pleased to have him. A smug smile befell the Potions Master.

“Severus.”

Snape turned to see a handsome man, with long black hair and Madeline’s same sharp, pointed features headed his way.

He extended his hand, “I’m sorry this is the first chance we’ve had to meet. I am Isaac Alcott. Madeline is my sister.”

Severus accepted the outstretched hand. If nothing else was obvious about the man, it was that he was the brother of his bride-to-be. Severus smoothed his fine black dress robes.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you. She speaks of you often,” Isaac brushed a piece of dust from his sleeve as he glanced at Severus. “Assure me that you will take good care of her. You must understand she is one of the most prized things in my life.”

“You have my word,” Severus said icily.

“Good,” Isaac sniffed haughtily. “I have a few select friends in your country. Have you heard of Lucius Malfoy?”

“I am familiar with him, yes.” Severus thinned his lips. Isaac was appraising him and he didn’t like it.

“Excellent!” Isaac beamed arrogantly, “He is a dear friend of mine. I often visit him and his family when traveling overseas. My daughter is of the same age as their son, Draco. They have proven to be fine playmates. You should have seen him to this event, I’m certain Lucius would have found the time to attend.”

“No, I would prefer no mention be made of this to Lucius.”

Isaac snorted, puffing his chest up.

“Madeline and I have decided not to inform my community of this.”

Bewilderment passed over Isaac’s face that turned to slight anger “Are you ashamed of my sister?”

“Certainly not,” Severus narrowed his eyes. “My intention is protection. Should the Dark Lord know of this Madeline could be in sever danger. When the war is finally settled things will be different.”

“I see,” Isaac frowned. Severus could see the similarities that would make Lucius and Isaac close friends. “I will ask my family to respect your wishes; as such, I will also do as you ask.” Isaac extracted a golden pocket watch, “8:05, hmmm…it is very unlike Madeline to be late.”

Just then the door behind them burst open and a familiar face, matted with sweaty hair and dirt, appeared. “Excuse me,” she said scooping up a handful of dirtied dress robes and making a dash for the door. It was the easily excitable Pyromancer who had attended the summer seminars with Madeline.

“Kantela,” Isaac began, but she swooped past him so quickly that he didn’t have time to get anything more out. She pushed the doors to the receiving hall open and scurried between the tables.

It was only a matter of seconds before the receiving doors opened again and a graying man who looked quite tired was frowning unhappily in a disheveled mess. He stopped in front of Severus and Isaac but faced Kantela. “The cemetery?! Why in Merlin’s name would the vampires choose a showdown with Madeline in a graveyard?”

“I don’t think they chose the location,” Kantela was breathing heavily as two other familiar faces appeared. Dumbledore and Carlyn slipped unnoticed from the idle chatter going just beyond the doors.

“Had to have a night wedding!” The graying man threw his hands in the air. “Good heavens, who chose the location?”

“A group of kids from the local public high school,” Kantela gulped, “Some stupid pseudo séance non sense, sir.”

“They never do it right. It’ll be a feast for those vampires. Is she alone?”

“Brent was there.”

“Between the two of them they should be able to handle it.”

Kantela lowered her eyes, “Zachariah Skinner, the vampire prince, was said to be there.”

There was a sudden still in the hall. Finally the little man blew up, “Well, what are we waiting for?! We had better hurry!”

“Come Severus,” Dumbledore said in a calm tone, placing a hand on his shoulder. “There is no need to worry just yet.”

They arrived by means of apparation to an old cemetery canopied by sprawling trees where gentle moonlight would have been lovely sprinkling onto the thick green grass if it weren’t for the chaos happening all around. The little man, who Severus learned was the principle of the Academy of Alchemy, Dr. Jasper Dunlap, had taken Dumbledore in the apparation, and Isaac had offered the same service to Severus since they weren’t familiar with the area.

Dunlap held up a hand, signaling they wait a moment. Heeding the man, they were left to watch. A group of lively youngsters were just beginning to scatter, accompanied by their shouts of horror as many pale, pointed teeth monsters swooped after them. The vampire clan was infinitely faster than the humans, scooping them up with ease. Suddenly a fine twinkling dust settled over the ground, followed almost instantly by a few eerie words coming from somewhere in the middle of the dust cloud, caused the grass all around them begin to churn. From all of the crypts below, marked by headstones, skeletons were clawing their way to life.

A glimpse of Madeline could be seen among them, her pearly white gown almost aglow in the pale moonlight. She threw her hands up and hissed a brief series of commands in an unrecognizable language as the frantic rattling of bones rang out and an entire skeleton army was born. She hissed a few more words and the skeletons clamored around to what appeared to be her directions.

“No!” Dumbledore said suddenly, clutching Severus’s wrist as he made to go in the direction of Madeline. “She understands what she’s doing. If you disturb or distract her she will loose focus and concentration and it may be her undoing.”

Severus did not argue as he looked back across the field of devastation where Madeline was extracting a silvery wand from her sleeve. She dropped next to a fallen boy who was covered in slipper red blood. She touched his face, spoke to him too softly to hear and bowed her head before raising her wand. A bright white light shot from the tip of her wand and the boy’s body jerked to life. He climbed clumsily to his feet, standing on crooked legs, complete with a vacant expression. She gave him a pointed direction and he stumbled off toward a group of vampires. She hurried to another fallen body and began to repeat the process, but this time she looked up frantically. The group across the cemetery heard her shout, “Brent! Hurry, this one’s alive!”

Severus made to go in again. “What are we waiting for?” He growled, “I thought we came to offer assistance.”

Dunlap nodded, “We need the advantage. They haven’t noticed our presence as of yet.” He scanned the cemetery again, “I have not yet seen the prince. The crowd must thin out before we will have the advantage.”

“Madeline and Brent could be dead by then,” Severus snarled.

“Yes, a risk they are willing to take. We all are; if it is what must be done.”

Severus opened his mouth to rebuttal, however Dumbledore interjected, “Severus…in time. Be patient.”

Brent came skidding to a halt near her where she stood quickly surveying the damage. Skeletons were being shattered into hundreds of pieces, vampires were being clawed to ribbons by razor-like bone phalanges, and a few zombies had been awoken to pry the attention of the vampires away from the fleeing high school students. It was clear that she wasn’t interested in fighting a war here, she just wanted to cause enough of a distraction for the kids to escape, and hopefully Brent and her as well.

It wasn’t exactly what Severus had in mind when he considered a wedding. As he watched Madeline, in her now filthy wedding dress, shout commands to her skeletal troops he was mesmerized. He had seen their match, recognized their similarities, understood that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life alone, was attracted to her, and could see himself living with her. She was just cleaver enough to have his attention, but he had not loved her. However, in that moment, he found what he loved and it truly lived in her. She was bold and could wield the dark arts like no one he’d seen in a very long time. Like she had come to love him for his mannerism and coy arrogance, he fell for her in an instant – she was what he wanted in a life partner. She seemed perfect, her pretty honey colored face angrily shouting at the skeletons. She was what his mother had not been, strong, he loved that.

It was clear the cost of controlling fifty or so skeletons was wearing on her as she began to pant heavily but continued screaming orders. Many vampires lay in heaps on the ground alongside piles of bone pieces, and suddenly it seemed from nowhere, a shadow swooped into the center of the group. A demanding presence appeared in heavy fine leathers, porcelain white skin, long silky raven hair, and perfect pointed canine teeth he accentuated purposely when he smiled at them, “Madeline Alcott, finally we meet.”

“No!” Carlyn broke the group and bolted for the vampire. She drew her wand and pointed it promptly at Madeline. Shock came over Madeline as stared awkwardly at the soft spoken illusionist.

“Carlyn!” Dunlap shouted, but it was too late. Restraints had shot from her wand that enveloped Madeline clasping her arms and legs together. In response the skeletal army collapsed into little piles where they had all been standing.

Carlyn dropped to one knee at the vampire’s feet, “Prince Zachariah, I have for you the mage who has been destroying your family.”

“I can see that.” He said oily.

“Carlyn, I’d hate to think you had anything to do with this,” Madeline growled.

“Oh precious,” the vampire prince came to her brushing her hair from her shoulder, “please sit.”

“Never!”

“You will sit,” He said pushing her to the ground.

“You can push all you want, I will never yield to you. I’m not afraid to die.”

Dunlap had advanced the group forward some, now knowing that their presence was made aware. Dumbledore took an additional step forward but the prince spoke first. His voice was smooth and articulate with a crispness that was almost irritating. “Finder’s keepers I always say,” he slithered around behind Madeline who was kneeling grudgingly on the upturned soil. “She is lovely, isn’t she?” He ran a hand across her neck. Madeline went sort of rigid and Severus balled his fists. The prince pointed a long nailed finger at Severus, “You must be the Brit. We’ve heard so much about you, courtesy of Carlyn.” His tone was a little too pleasant as he went on, “Forgive me. Madeline and I have a long running history…” he bent over her and peered at her face, “of trying to kill one another.” He laughed nastily as he quickly ran that long jagged nail across the exposed fleshy part of her neck. A thin line of crimson instantly bubbled up and he collected up the blood with his pinky. After sucking the sticky liquid from it he smiled, “Yes, quite tasty. I think I’ll keep her.” He smiled down to her, “I’m going to enjoy you.”

“Not now,” Dumbledore warned Severus as he stiffened again. Severus was almost shaking from holding back. He couldn’t let the vampire kill her, not now, now that he wanted her, now that he
needed her.

Madeline didn’t respond as the vampire gave another gruesome chuckle. The chuckle turned into a cackle, and the cackle turned into a choke. A creepy smile crept onto Madeline’s face.

“Now!” Kantela barked. A ring of fire encircled Carlyn, who shrieked despite her soft voice. Dumbledore had extracted his wand and was pointing it at Madeline, whose restraints promptly evaporated. Dumbledore went to her and helped Madeline to her feet. She turned on the vampire who was now clutching his throat, gasping. Her smile remained as she reached up and bloodied her own finger then wiped it across his cheek, “We’re alchemists, my blood was poisoned today – especially for you by Kantela. If you take me down, you better believe you’re going with me.”

He was able to get one last look at Madeline before he became a horrible sight of festering bubbles that eventually caused him to burst into sudden flames leaving only a pile of dust on the ground.

“Thank you headmaster,” Madeline said to Dumbledore. “I believe if I had been tied much longer I would have lost my fingers.”

“It was quite tight,” Dumbledore nodded. “Now, I believe we have a very important event to get to.” His twinkling eyes were smiling at her.

“Absolutely,” Madeline said turning from the old headmaster to Severus. “Please consider forgiving me for my poor appearance on such an important day.”

“Appearance is not my concern,” he smirked, “my intention is to make a promise.”

“As is mine,” she went to him, taking his extended hand.


---


“Now, I believe we have a very important event to get to…”

Madeline felt her face burn in pain. A tear had slipped down her cheek and entered the fresh wound on her face. She swore under her breath as she wiped the tear’s trail away. Taking a deep breath she shook the horrible image of Severus murdering Dumbledore from her mind.

“There must be an explanation,” she reminded herself sternly.

“Who’s ‘ere?” A nighttime lantern was bobbing in the distance, several inches over her head. She recognized the rough voice immediately and responded promptly as not to get herself unnecessarily killed.

“Hagrid, its Madeline Alcott.”

~*~*~

A/N: Thank you for reading. I really appreciate it.

Chapter 5: Sweet Dreams Sereth
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Sweet Dreams Sereth


“Madeline?” The yellow glow of the lamp illuminated her face which she had quickly managed to steady. Not the faintest indication could be seen that she had been crying. He looked down to her, his heavy brow furrowed, “Now that’s a name I reckon I haven’ heard in a long time. What’re yeh doin’ here?”

“I’ve come to pay my respects to Albus Dumbledore,” She told him firmly.

Hagrid let out a low grumble that surprised her, he had always been so annoyingly friendly that any sign of aggression from him shocked her. Her heart was hammering so hard in her chest that she thought surely he could hear it through her bosom. Apparently he remembered she had been close to Severus, but Hagrid was never one to know the truth around them. She was thankful for that in this moment, for she knew he wouldn’t be as patient as Minerva had been.

“What’s that?” Hagrid held the lamp high to light the clumped up cloak that Sereth was sleeping beneath.

“Hagrid,” Madeline reached up and placed her hand on his arm, “That’s my son. He’s sleeping.”

“Yer son? I didn’ know you was married.” Hagrid looked back over to her, then noticing the dark red line down her cheek he said, “Yer hurt.” His skepticism of her passed very quickly and his demeanor turned to concern.

“I had tiff,” she said removing her hand from him and placing it to her cheek. “Please let him sleep, he’s had a difficult few days and he’s not well. He was hurt too.”

“Are yeh alone?” Hagrid turned around with the light, looking over the grounds. “But yeh can’t be alone, what with a little tyke an’ another…” he trailed off nodding to her stomach. “It’s not safe, these times.”

“Hagrid, I’m alone,” she said quietly. “I can assure you. I must admit, I’m a bit overwhelmed by all that’s happened. I won’t keep you,” she gave him a slight bow, “Sereth and I will leave then.”

“Codswollup,” Hagrid said sternly, “’course the two of yeh’ll be staying here overnight.”

“That’s very kind of you Hagrid, but -” Madeline cut off quickly at a muffled moan from under the cloak. She turned and Hagrid held the lamp over the bunched up material. It shifted, followed by another mumble. Madeline bent next to her son.

“Sereth,” she said moving the cloak back but it was clear he was deep in a horrible dream…

---


It was fall, the tree leaves were just starting to brown on the edges and the air was cold despite the clear sky and bright sun. The lake water was gleaming and the grounds were teeming with Hogwarts students. Many of them had gathered around the glassy water where something was happening.

A handsome dark haired boy positioned his finger to his lips, indicating those around him be quiet as he edged up on a dark, angry looking boy. Another dark haired guy snickered as a pretty red-head buried her head in his shoulder.

“Why must he?” The red-head said.

“Shhh Lily, this is going to be brilliant.”

The handsome one was already snickering with the cleaver image of what was to come as he lashed out quickly, snatched the boy’s robed over his head, pointed his wand at him, and shouted a few words. The boy was instantly hoisted several feet off the ground and, in an awkward mess of twisted up robes, lodged into the tree branches overhanging the lake. In the mix, the boy’s wand had fallen out of his disheveled robes and was lying on the grass.

“Black!” The boy dangerously wedged in the branches growled.

“Oh Snevillus don’t be so stuffy, after all we’re just hanging out with you. Er – maybe you’re the one hanging out…with us. Well, if nothing else it’s clear that you’re hanging.” He laughed then reached down and collected the 14 inch mahogany wand, “Thanks for the wand. I always wanted an extra.”

As if on cue there was a sudden crack and the branch holding Severus gave a sudden start, then it dropped a little lower. Another snap echoed and the tree gave way dumping Severus in the lake. The crowd roared with laughter. Severus floundered in the water for a few moments, but quickly found his way out.

He had spent his entire life bullied by a terrible father, pushed around by others his whole seven years at Hogwarts and he wasn’t about to take it anymore. His fair skin had gone an abnormal shade of pink as, dripping wet, he approached Sirius. There was no consideration, no hesitation, and no pause as Severus nailed Sirius clean in the jaw. Despite being scrawny and gaunt he knocked Sirius off his feet, if by nothing more than surprising the charismatic young Black.

Sirius wiped a bit of blood from his lip before bouncing dangerously back to his feet.

“Sirius,” Remus, a shaggy haired, worn looking kid caught him around the arm and jerked him back before he could unleash hell on Severus. “Don’t do it.”

“Remus, let me go.” Sirius grumbled dangerously.

“Yeah, Remus, let him go,” Severus smiled nastily. It was completely out of his nature, but Severus could take no more and wandless he had no choice but to do things the dirty way.

“Severus,” A pale hand came down on his arm. He looked up to a lovely blonde girl who said, “Here, I’ll donate to your cause.” She extended her wand to him.

“Thank you Narcissa,” He sneered accepting the outstretched wand.

“Just thought you needed bath,” Sirius was saying. “I suppose I should have added soap.”

“Nobody asked you,” Narcissa snapped.

“Oh, come on Narcissa,” Sirius looked disgusted as he frowned, “Don’t pretend as if you like that dirt bag just because Lucius does.”

“That’s uncalled for Mr. Black,” McGonagall’s voice cut the air like a knife. The crowd parted and started to disburse as McGonagall waded her way into the middle. “What are you doing with two wands and what happened to your lip?”

“Nothing,” Sirius snarled, “I just fell.”

“Well I suggest you be more careful in the future,” she stated sharply. It was clear that she was only playing ignorant to the soaking-wet-Severus and busted-lip-Sirius. “Now if you would kindly return Severus’s wand. You have no need for two and both of you go on about your business now.”

“Watch you back,” Sirius hissed in a low tone to Severus, “I owe you now.”

“Don’t worry, I will.”

At that point Sirius chucked Severus’s wand at him and just as it was about to whack him square between the eyes…


---


Sereth bolted upright and shouted, “DADDY!”

“Sereth?” Madeline reached out to him, cupping his face in her hands, “Sereth? It’s all right. Just a dream.” He looked at her with his wide black eyes. He glanced over to the tomb, past it to the lake, then to the tree overhanging it. “So mean,” he mumbled then shuffled closer to her and wrapped his arms around her.

She heaved a great breath and looked up to Hagrid, “He suffers from night terrors.”

Hagrid nodded sympathetically. Madeline patted Sereth’s head, she was glad Hagrid didn’t ask anymore as she had purposely failed to mention that his dreams were often reflections of past events nor had she wanted to reveal what had caused such a young child to have such awful dreams – for it pained her to even think about it.

“Now, yeh’ll come in for some tea at leas’,” Hagrid said.

“Oh Hagrid, thank you, but we really must be going. There is so much for us left to do. I haven’t got much time.”

“One night’s not gonna hur’, besides nothin’s open in town this time ‘o night anyhow.”

Madeline nodded slowly, “All right Hagrid, just tonight. We’ll need to leave very early in the morning though.”

“’Course,” He beamed understandingly. It was clear that he just wanted company. Madeline couldn’t even imagine what it must be like being on the Hogwarts grounds alone, she could understand his need for human interaction. He was right, she should stay there for the night. She hadn’t had a real night’s sleep in several days and if she left she would just end up letting Sereth sleep in her lap, when he could be in a real bed for the night, while she sat up waiting for the train. However, she told herself that she couldn’t loose focus; tomorrow’s destination was quite a trek and she had to find Severus soon or she’d start to loose hope.

~*~*~

A/N: Thank you for reading and if you have the time, and find it in your heart to do so, please review. Thanks again!

Chapter 6: With Arms Wide Open
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With Arms Wide Open


Again it was night and a light rain had overcome the landscape of London and its surrounding areas. Madeline and Sereth were trudging along a narrow row of gloomy buildings, weaving up and down row after row of identical shabby little homes.

“This can’t be right,” Madeline said staring at a little house at the end of a road called Spinner’s End. “There’s no way…”

When Severus had told her he owned a small house in a Muggle community she had no idea what to expect; but she knew it wasn’t this. Whenever visiting him it had always been at Hogwarts Castle, she had never seen the place he owned. She hadn’t been disgusted that he owned a house in a Muggle neighborhood, as many European pure-bloods would have been, as she lived within the same arrangement in the heart of sunny Florida. However her existence was significantly different than this; it was one where all magic folk lived among non magical people because of the delicate arrangements made between many various magical races (not just wizards and witches).

She was a little overwhelmed that she had let him live in a place such as this, there had to be better Muggle areas.

He had given her a key and the address, nothing more. Using both she entered the dinky abode.

It was dark, none the less clouds of dust billowed up when she shut the door. The sitting room was beyond what Madeline would stand for in her own home, to say it was cluttered was mild. She lit the only lamp in the house and was almost sorry she had. “No, I must have the wrong house.” She said suddenly.

“But the key works,” Sereth said climbing up onto the couch next to a tiny table that looked as if it were very precariously balancing on three legs.

“Yes,” Madeline said clutching the key to her chest. She knew that there had to be hexes, jinxes, and curses on the house that wouldn’t let anyone enter who wasn’t invited or didn’t have a key; therefore Sereth must be right.

It seemed that no one had been here in months, and with that thought Madeline’s heart sank. The ages of dust, unmoved books, and mold scent were clear representations of the lack of habitation this place had had. She wanted to clean it, for Severus. She wanted to draw the curtains back and let sunlight in, like she hoped she had to his life. The heavy gray clouds and rain were an indication of how horribly things were going – they were a solid expression of how she felt: the trail was cold, her husband was a murderer, and she couldn’t think of anywhere else to turn.

Sereth looked up to her, “I’m tired Mommy, I want to go home.”

With that Madeline thought she’d die, right there. Sereth hadn’t complained once since their arrival, he had been strong and brave despite the attitude Minerva had given them, the broken arm and nasty purple lump from his grandfather, the long walks from train stations, and the ever occurring night terrors.

“Soon,” was the only thing Madeline managed saying before her voice cracked. Her belly gave a jolt and she doubled in pain.

“Mommy!” Sereth perked, leaping up to the couch cushions.

“I’m all right Ser,” she said, sinking onto the couch next to him. Clutching the arm of the couch she pulled him close, “I’m all right.” The pain eased just as her eyes fell onto the tiny table and the book on top of the table.

Madeline reached for the book. It was a heavy leather bound volume she recognized immediately. “Amazing,” she mumbled running her hand across the raised lettering that spelled: Advanced Necromancy.

“Mommy?” Sereth asked.

She looked at him as she fanned the pages, “I gave this to him. To your dad.” Two items fell promptly from the book onto Madeline’s lap, she stifled a laughing sob at them. A yellowed piece of parchment, with her long curly writing dated June of 1994 met her eyes first. It surprised her, for she knew that Severus destroyed their correspondence, so that no one could find it later. It simply said: Severus, you’ll need to come to me. I have been told I won’t be able to travel until Sereth comes. Forever yours, Madeline. The other item shocked her, she had no idea that Severus kept photos…

---


Snow was falling on grounds of Hogwarts blanketing the grounds in a beautiful white glow. She had been there since the beginning of December, they had celebrated their 3rd anniversary, spent Christmas together, but New Year’s was quickly approaching, which meant Madeline would be traveling back to Florida soon as classes at the Academy would be beginning in the next week.

She greeted Severus the morning following Christmas in a long white night gown. She was shivering and quite pale as he glanced up from a pile of potions exams.

“Come to remind me how disagreeable Hogwarts winter weather is?” He smirked dipping his quill in a red ink bottle and then happily scribbled up the parchment in front of him. When she didn’t respond he looked back up to her, “I thought you’d never wake.”

“I wish I hadn’t,” she hissed.

A dark look passed over Severus’s face as he went back to the tests. “What troubles you?”

“I’m leaving soon,” she said awkwardly.

“What?” Severus looked up to her again. This time he set the tests aside. “Have you arranged to leave early?”

“No.”

“Madeline,” Severus got to his feet. She was still shivering and her normally bronzy skin was milky white. He reached out to her but she stepped away. His expression hardened at her response to him, “Are you well?”

She raised her chin and scanned the rows and rows of jars that lined Severus’s office. “No.” She turned a little green. Quickly her hand shot to her mouth, but she stifled the sick feeling in her stomach.

“You should see Madam Pomfrey,” Severus said stepping toward her again.

Madeline, once more, took a few paces away from him, “No. She can’t help me. I’ll be fine, in time.”

“Madeline, you’re not well. This much is clear.”

“Stay back!” She shouted at him when be made to go to her again.

“What’s wrong with you?” He growled. “You’re clearly not yourself.”

Still quivering, in her bare feet, and very shaken look she frowned. “I’m not. I never thought I’d leave my bedroom in less than a robe. Goodness, what if someone saw me?”

A very concerned look passed over Severus’s face. Her line of reasoning was troublesome to him, she rarely acted strangely – in fact this was the first time she ever had. If there was anything he could be sure of, it was Madeline’s temperament and actions. She was almost always reserved, conservative, and often harshly arrogant – never timid, shaken and scatterbrained.

“Come, I’ll go back to the room with you.”

“You’ve done enough,” and with that she fell limply forward and emptied her breakfast on the floor there, at his feet. It would be a lie to say that this was the first time someone had vomited in his office. Students were often so frightened when being beckoned to see him that they reacted similarly, a feat he took on proudly. But Madeline was not one of his scared students and her being sick was not what he ever hoped for.

He hurried to her and made her sit in his chair. He brushed the hair from her face and forced her to look him dead on. “Madeline, you must see Madam Pomfrey, you must.”

A smile tugged at the sides of her mouth but she fought it back, “I already have…yesterday.”

“Why are you not in the hospital wing?” He questioned.

“I’m frightened.”

“Why?”

“Severus, I’m with child.” She said softly in a voice she didn’t recognize as her own.

It was as if he hadn’t heard anything she said when he questioned, “What?”

“Sev…” she folded her arms around herself, “I’m going to have a baby.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

Very slowly she nodded, “Positive.”

“When…” he paused, “how…how did this happen?” A crease of concern formed between his eyes.

“Well,” Madeline smiled, then she snickered nervously, “I’m pretty sure you know, I mean, you were there, after all.”

Like his mother, he rarely smiled, but at this he did. He even snorted a pleased laugh.

“Sev,” she reached a shaky hand out to him. Placing it on his shoulder she whispered, “I’m scared.”

“Don’t be,” he said suddenly pulling her to her feet. “This is wonderful news, you shouldn’t be afraid.”

“I think I’m going to be sick again,” she managed a weak smile.

Quickly he got her back into the seat and began to pace the length of his desk. With his hands folded behind his back he went on, “I must admit these are not the times to procreate, as the Dark Lord’s rising is imminent. We will have to be even more careful about knowledge of our relationship, for with the birth of the child our lives will become secondary. From here forward I will destroy all letters from you, for the safety of you both.”

She nodded and stood, “As you wish.”

He came over to her and wrapped his long arms around her, another thing he rarely did, display outward signs of affection, “This is very wonderful news Madeline, I’m thrilled. Don’t be frightened, you’re brave and strong…you’ll be a fine parent.”

“As you know, I’ve never been very good with the living,” she admitted and he gave another reluctant chuckle.

Seven months later Severus was traveling across the Atlantic at his wife’s request, to be there for the birth of his son. Madeline had told him several months earlier that they would produce a boy. Frantic letters back and forth discussing names for a son were delivered by magical owl and promptly tossed into fires once read. Severus had wanted to name the boy Salazar after the founder of his house in Hogwarts, while Madeline had requested Serian for the creator of the Academy of Alchemy.

It was in early May that Severus received a letter from Madeline with Sereth’s name on it, a request that informed Severus that she had researched his lineage and Sereth Prince was the first in his line to enter Hogwarts a few hundred years ago. Severus immediately agreed, and in early June he got a letter saying Sereth would keep her from visiting him over the summer and he would have to come to her. He was privately pleased for this news, the last thing he wanted was Sereth to be born at St. Mungo’s Hospital where word could leak out about him. However, it meant another trip to the United States, where he had only visited a few times since their marriage. The more he considered it, the more he wanted to tell Madeline that they shouldn’t see one another for some time; after all his location could be tracked when he went to her and her coming to England regularly would be exceedingly dangerous in the months that would follow – after all his brand had been causing him copious amounts of pain in recent months. However, he was too greedy to make such a request of her as he wasn’t sure he could live without seeing her…or his son.

“Severus,” Isaac met him at the airport.

“Hello Isaac,” Severus extended his hand.

After shaking Isaac led the way, “I hope the ride wasn’t all that terrible. I know it’s inconvenient, Mundane, er – Muggle I believe you call them, transport.”

“I have traveled this way many times. It is inconvenient, yes. However, I’m here and as that was my intent I can’t be displeased.”

“Just on time too, Madeline is at the hospital now. Sereth decided to arrive early.”

“What?” Severus’s gaze bore into Isaac.

“Just what I’ve said, otherwise I imagine you would have expected her to collect you.” Isaac reached out and caught Severus by the shoulder as he made to hurry out of the terminal. “Severus.”

Snape looked at Isaac’s hand perched on his shoulder then up to the chiseled face of Madeline’s brother, “I believe this calls for haste, Isaac.”

“I’ve been told troubling rumors, from Lucius, surrounding events happening in England. A rising – a rebirth if you will, just last month. I will only say this once, you promised me, some time ago, that you would take good care of Madeline, and you would keep her safe. I hope you won’t get her mixed up in this. And I hope you will keep your word.”

Severus felt the blood in his face get warm. “I have no intention of putting Madeline or my son,” his words were like venom, “in harms way.”

“Good,” Isaac nodded sharply, “then we’re in agreement.” And, as if nothing had happened Isaac threw his arm around Severus’s shoulder and proceeded out of the airport, “Now, if you don’t mind we have a birth to get to.”

The doctor, at first, had refused to let Severus in the delivery room at Madeline’s request. The word was she had refused him because she had screamed that she would kill him, then raise him from the dead where she would make him serve as her slave for what he’d done to her. The healer had agreed, for the moment, to submit to her request for fear that it might cause her too much stress. So, Severus was left in a waiting room with Madeline’s family. Isaac and his wife, a proper and stern looking witch named Venya. Isaac and Venya’s pretty little thirteen year old daughter Jaselle, who was all knees, elbows, and gauntly thin, was there. Mr. and Mrs. Alcott, a distinguished old pair, sat beside Venya. They would have looked like any generic old couple if it wasn’t for both wore tall pointed hats – a fashion that had long since died in America, but it was clear that the couple themselves were outdated.

“Now,” Brent arrived at the door in a white smock, “come now!”

When Severus hurried to the door Brent threw his hand up dashing a thin powder at him that trickled down around him. Brent mumbled a few words and Severus’s being twinkled briefly.

“Okay,” Brent threw the door open the rest of the way, and at the surprised look on Severus’s face went on. “Sorry, you had to be decontaminated first, the room must be completely sterile and free of outside germs.”

Severus didn’t bother responding he simply followed Brent into the next room over where he could hear Madeline screaming. For a moment he thought he wouldn’t be able to make it there. He had never heard her scream, not even when the vampire had attacked her. His feet wouldn’t move and when he finally convinced them it was like trudging through molasses.

“Come on!” Brent grabbed Severus and jerked him along.

“I didn’t know you were delivering the baby,” Severus said quietly, trying to gather his strength.

“Course, she wouldn’t have it any other way,” Brent shrugged. “Mad and I have been friends forever. We went to school together at the Academy and then we even went to advanced training in DC at the same time. We roomed in the same ghetto apartment in Maryland for a couple years while in class up there. She wouldn’t have anybody else do this for her. She trusts me.”

If Severus didn’t know better he thought for a moment he felt a singe of jealousy shoot through him. Why did this man get to spend so much time with
his wife while he was stuck thousands of miles from her?

“Hurry, if you’re not there she’ll kill me…and I can’t even fathom the horrible things she’ll do to me when I’m dead.”

Severus was just in time to see Sereth come into the world, and for a moment he thought he’d cry. All things, good and bad, were forgotten by Severus and he was left with only joy; a thing he wasn’t sure he’d ever felt before. It hurt to feel that much pleasure. Holding the tiny infant in his arms he bent to Madeline, who was on the verge of passing out. “Welcome to the family Sereth Snape,” she managed.

Severus held the baby a little closer, feeling his tiny sleeping breaths against his body just as a flash brightened the room. Brent grinned from behind the camera, “You might not be happy with me now for snapping a surprise picture but you’ll want this later, I promise.”


---


Madeline fingered the edge of the photo.

“Is that me?”

“Yes,” Madeline said handing him the picture. Sereth was studying the picture as a tap echoed on the door.

She and Sereth looked at one another and as Madeline headed over to the door Sereth went back to studying the picture.

“Dad looks mad,” Sereth said.

“That’s nothing out of the ordinary Sereth, your dad always looks mad,” Madeline said.

“I miss him,” Sereth said touching the picture where Severus was looking from the baby in his arms to the camera and back again.

“Me too baby,” Madeline admitted pulling the door open just a crack; as she did an owl swept into the living room. The handsome owl proudly extended its leg.

Madeline gathered up the parchment the owl’s leg was offering to her. Her eyes narrowed as she read over the letter.

“What’s it say Mommy?”

“Oh Isaac,” she mumbled angrily, “I’m going to kill you when I get home.”

“What is it?” Sereth asked again.

“We have one more stop to make before we go home Ser, I’m sorry. I had hoped to start back tomorrow. It looks like it’s going to have to wait a few more days.”

“Okay,” he said. “Do you know where Daddy is and can I take this thing off now? It itches.” Sereth lifted the arm set in a heavy white cast.

“No,” Madeline said. “Brent will take care of that arm when we get home. Now come on, lay down, we’ll stay here tonight.”

~*~*~
A/N: Okay, I know this is a hasty update but, courtesy of bad weather, I was able to get some writing done over the past few days. I hope you like it. As it stands I don’t think I’ll be able to write anymore until later in the week, but I’ll do my best to get more by this weekend. Chapter title borrowed from the song of the same title. Thank you for reading and any words you have for me would be greatly appreciated! Kisses, Joela


Chapter 7: And Now it Has Come to This
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And Now it Has Come to This


It was huge: expansive and elegant. Madeline gave the heavy knocker a crisp snap. She heard it echo on the other side door. “Remember, you must behave.”

Sereth nodded.

“I’m sorry?” She asked. “I didn’t hear you.”

“Yes Mommy,” he added.

The door opened and Madeline gave a short nod, “Narcissa Malfoy, I received your owl last night.”

“Madeline Alcott,” The fair woman beamed at her. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Isaac speaks of you often and when he wrote, saying that you and Sereth would be in England…well, I wouldn’t have you stay anywhere else. Please come in.”

“Yes, he can be exceedingly helpful,” Madeline’s mocking sarcasm went unnoticed by Narcissa as she stepped into Malfoy Mansion.

It was just as pristine inside as it appeared from the outside. There were ancient and beautiful tapestries, amazing paintings and hundreds of photos on the walls. Madeline’s eye caught a glimpse of someone she recognized: Jaselle, (her niece) as a toddler, standing aside a pretty platinum blond little boy. They were both holding handfuls of red berries and covered in strawberry juice laughing their hearts out. Next to that picture displayed one of Lucius and Isaac both looking proud and haughty. Madeline chuckled, quiet the pair they were. Narcissa had a house-elf escort Sereth to a play room where she assured him he would find all sorts of things to entertain him while he stayed with them. He wasn’t at all reluctant when Madeline nodded her head and said he may go.

“It’s so good to finally have you here,” Narcissa smiled bringing her into a sitting room. “Isaac said your husband wouldn’t be able to join us, that he was busy with something or other. Klopp, fetch the wine, we have guests.” A shaky little house-elf hurried off at Narcissa’s words.

“No, he is indisposed at the moment.” Madeline bowed her head briefly.

“I trust that things are well?”

“Oh yes, never better,” Madeline lied.

“What was your profession again, I swear Isaac’s told me hundred times.”

Madeline thought for a moment to lie but Narcissa went on, “Necromancy was it?”

“That’s right,” Madeline nodded. “I teach.”

“Well if only you could pass your trade on at Hogwarts, something useful might come out of it.” She gave a slight laugh, “If Hogwarts opens again that is.”

Madeline merely hummed in response.

“What is it that your husband does?” Narcissa quickly picked up the conversation.

“He’s a teacher as well. His skills lie in alchemy, potions that is.”

“Does he teach at the Academy as well?”

“No,” Madeline shook her head, “he teaches at…another school.”

“I see,” Narcissa smiled just as the house-elf, Klopp, returned with a silver tray, two long stemmed glasses and carafe of deep red wine.

“None for me, thank you, Narcissa,” Madeline shook her head.

“Of course, I wasn’t thinking,” Narcissa recovered quickly, ordering for a glass of water in turn. “I had forgotten how small they were at three.” She sighed dreamily, “I always wanted another one.”

“Lucius?”

“Yes, he found having a son made the little world complete. And though I’m thankful for Draco everyday, it would be wonderful to have more. You and your husband must be thrilled.”

“Thrilled,” Madeline mimicked Narcissa. “You keep looking Narcissa, it’s all right.”

“Oh goodness Madeline I didn’t want to say anything but what happened?”

“I was in a tiny scuffle. I’m okay.”

“It looks bad Madeline,” Narcissa said leaning over examining the cut on Madeline’s face. “Are those…stitches?”

“Yes, I didn’t have much of a choice…I was in a Mundane – I mean – Muggle neighborhood when it happened.”

Narcissa waved a hand, “It’s all right, I understand the subtle colloquialism that separate us; remember we’ve been friends with Isaac for some time. But goodness, it looks painful. And Sereth, how long will he have to wear that thing?”

“I was told some ridiculous amount of time in weeks, but I’m having it off as soon as I get home. I have friends at the Academy who can correct the issue.”

“You should take him up to St. Mungo’s in the morning. I know it’s not exactly the most efficient place but they could take care of it right away and he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore.”

“Oh that won’t be necessary, we won’t be staying much longer. Perhaps only overnight.”

“Nonsense. You’ll be with us the rest of your time in England.”

“Narcissa, I meant that we’ll be traveling back to the United States tomorrow.”

“Oh,” she looked a bit taken aback. “But you’ve just arrived.”

“I mean you no disrespect, however it would seem that things are a bit upturned here.”

“Yes, you could say that,” Narcissa nodded, it was clear that the war was on the tip of her tongue but she refrained from mentioning it, just then. Klopp, appeared at that moment and reported that Sereth had fallen asleep. Narcissa instructed the house-elf to have him put up in the great suite in the south wing. The tiny creature nodded before disappearing.

“It’s a shame, he’ll miss dinner.” Narcissa frowned.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine, though I appreciate your concern. He needs his rest, the travels have been difficult for him.”

“I can only imagine,” Narcissa feigned concern. “Shall we?”

“Of course,” Madeline said, getting up and following Narcissa’s lead. She took her through another hall of photos before leading her into the dinning room. A long table was already prepared with four place sittings close together at the end of the polished oak table. “Are you expecting more guests?” Madeline asked.

“Not guests, the others who live here: my son, Draco and my sister, Bellatrix.”

“I see,” Madeline smiled briefly. She had heard of Bellatrix from Isaac, and she didn’t like the idea that Mrs. LeStrange would be gracing the dinner table with her presence. Madeline could handle Narcissa, she was noble and proud, easily predictable; however, Bellatrix was said to be a bit erratic and hot tempered.

“Please,” Narcissa offered a chair up to Madeline, which she promptly accepted.

“You really are Isaac’s sister,” Narcissa stated matter-of-factly. “You don’t merely carry the Alcott appearance, you have the same air. I imagine you’ve been told this before?”

“Many times,” Madeline gave another slight nod.

“I’m sure Sereth will have it too.”

“Undoubtedly,” Madeline agreed.

Bellatrix and Draco entered together, just as Narcissa was taking her own seat. Bellatrix gave an awkward start at seeing Madeline. “Do you think it wise to be playing hostess now Narcissa?” She asked with little concern for the weight of her comment. Madeline cocked an eyebrow and tipped her head at the thick jawed and narrow eyed Bellatrix.

Ignoring her sister Narcissa said, “Bellatrix, Draco, this is Madeline Alcott; she’s a friend.”

“Hello,” Draco said sitting across from Madeline.

“A pleasure,” Madeline nodded.

“You’re Jaselle’s aunt, right?”

“That’s right.”

Draco nodded approvingly.

Bellatrix noticed Madeline’s belly hidden under the table when she sat next to her. “Are you pregnant?” Bellatrix hissed in horror.

“Yes,” Madeline smiled snidely.

Bellatrix wrinkled her nose in disgust and looked at her empty plate, “I’m not hungry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Narcissa barked.

“Yes, Bellatrix, don’t be ridiculous,” A sharp spiteful voice cut into the conversation.

Madeline felt her heart leap into her throat as her gaze shot to the entrance of the dining room.

“Severus,” Narcissa quickly got to her feet, “we weren’t expecting you until later this evening. I’m very glad you could make it to dinner, please, join us.”

“Now I’m really not hungry,” Bellatrix grumbled climbing out of her chair and stalking away.

“Don’t mind her,” Narcissa said, in general. “She has a special way about her. Madeline,” Narcissa smiled, “this is Severus, he’s a friend as well. He used to teach potions at Hogwarts, and for a time Defense Against the Dark Arts, if you know anything about your husband’s trade the two of you will get along admirably.”

Severus’s gaze fell onto Madeline, who he seemed to have overlooked at spiting Bellatrix. A rush of emotions, that he wasn’t prepared to deal with, flooded him. He was instantly faced with the image of a strange little family in a Muggle town in Florida who all practiced Necromancy, a weird series of events that led to his wedding, a warm beach on the Atlantic ocean that Madeline loved, a prestigious school that taught strange focused magic, a charming tourist looking man who befriended his wife, the birth of a son, snow at Hogwarts, seminars on potions with a touch of Defense Against the Dark Arts, a book called Advanced Necromancy…

---


He was pacing the length of his office, it was nothing out of the ordinary. He was found doing that a lot lately. Any moment now, any moment…he heard the knob turn and creak of the door. He didn’t turn, he waited…looking at his eye high level of pickled creatures. Finally a pair of arms snaked around his chest.

“Sev, I’m sorry I’m late.”

He refrained from snorting and just let her hold him for a moment.

“Sereth is sleeping, the trip tired him out, but he is looking forward to seeing you.”

“I have shared his anxiousness.” Severus reached out and pulled her around to face him. She laughed.

“I’ve missed you darling,” Madeline smiled laying her head against him.

“Again, I share in your misplaced emotions.”

She pulled away and looked into his stern face, “Misplaced?”

“Yes, these times are dark, and not suited for -”

“Sev!” Madeline cut him off. “You’ve never gone five minutes at seeing me for the first time in months without telling me how dark and dangerous things are. We’re magic folk, things are never happy and glorious. Never, period. Can’t you just appreciate that I’m here and you’re there and it’s a tiny ray of joy in this moment.”

“But the Dark Lord -”

“But nothing Severus,” Madeline said sharply. “I want to be seen, appreciated. For a moment suspend your thoughts of him and think of your wife, who will only be here for two days.” With each word she eased closer to him and naturally he leaned over to meet her. There was nothing delicate about the passion that pumped through their bodies as their lips met for what seemed like the first time in their lives. It had been months since they had seen one another, and clearly something both of them recognized – and desired. Neither of them had ever showed outward signs of needing the other, however in the moment of stress and anxiety that filled the world around them they were left only feeling comfort in each other...


---


It was a very potent memory that cut off sharply and left him feeling vacant and alone when Narcissa questioned, “Severus? Are you well?”

“Yes,” he snapped quickly.

“Madeline is Isaac Alcott’s sister.”

“We’ve met,” his lip curled.

A gentle smile passed over Madeline’s face but the softness in her expression was not mirrored in her bitter words, “You do remember. It had been so long I was almost certain you’d forgotten me. You’ll forgive me for not standing to greet you, I’m exceedingly tired from my journeys across the country.”


Chapter 8: Clearest Indication
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Clearest Indication


He didn’t respond and Narcissa pointed to the spot set for Bellatrix, “Please Severus, you can have Bella’s place.”

He swept across the room and slipped into Bellatrix’s seat, he looked down to her. “What brings you to England Ms. Alcott? Family?”

“Why yes, you could say that,” Madeline answered.

“It would appear that you’ve been wounded,” he added scathingly.

“So it would seem,” she agreed.

He glanced at her again and suddenly went rigid, then added angrily, “You are a foolish girl.”

“Severus!” Narcissa growled.

“I’m sorry?” Madeline stared at him.

“Only a weak minded female would think it appropriate to bring a child into these very dangerous times.”

Narcissa paled and it looked as though she went weak in the knees at Severus and Bellatrix’s treatment of her guest. Even Draco was sitting perfectly still in shock.

Madeline shot to her feet where she tossed her napkin over her plate. “I’ll remind all of you, for the first and last time, these are not dark times for me! I’m not part of your ridiculous war!” And with that she spun on her heels and swept out of the room.

“Severus, she could prove to be very useful to us in the war. Now look what you’ve done!” Narcissa scolded him. “Go! Amend what you’ve done. If you don’t mind I’ll remind you of something, you are also a guest in my house and I won’t have you treat my friends that way.”

Smoothly Severus rose from his chair and eyed Narcissa without a word, but left the room none the less.

Severus hurried across the huge house, he knew where Narcissa put up all her ‘special’ guests; the south wing. She was never petty and, as such, she always went all out when she acted as a hostess.

He pushed the first door open without knocking. The room was enormous, with high ceilings and huge windows of which the curtains were drawn tight at the moment. A small lamp on the bedside was lit. The flame was low casting a dim orange glow on the giant bed. A heavy black comforter was pulled tight with a small lump, dwarfed by the huge bed, in the middle.

Severus quickly went to the bedside, he knew exactly what lie underneath those sheets immediately. He hesitated before gathering the covers. A tiny tuft of raven black hair was the only piece of the sleeping person visible under the blanket. Carefully, Severus reached out and drew the blanket back. Deep in sleep, Sereth didn’t even budge. Gently Severus reached out and brushed the hair from Sereth’s eyes. Momentarily his hand ran over the bruised lump. His softened expression when instantly sullen and then irate as he noticed the arm in a cast tucked under his head.

“That was nicely played,” a soft feminine voice spoke quietly to him.

Severus stood quickly and turned to see Madeline standing just inside the light of the lamp.

“Likewise,” he added going to her.

He stepped very close to her. Her protruding belly touched his thin abdomen and a warm vibe of safety echoed through her as their breath filled the same space just before their mouths touched. Her soft lips only brushed his before she stepped back and he was left reaching for her.

“Madeline?” He questioned bending over and touching baby she was carrying. “This happened over the holiday?” His voice was so soft she almost didn’t hear him.

“Merry Christmas to me,” she said gently.

He reached up to her cheek, but without touching it he asked, “What’s happened to you?”

“It’s nothing,” she drew back.

“It’s clearly something, how did this happen?”

“It’s nothing,” she said again, “to concern yourself with.”

“Madeline…”

“No Severus,” she said suddenly sharp. “You owe me answers. It’s been eight months and I come here to find that you’ve killed someone.” She lowered her voice again as if she were saying something that was indecent. “Someone who meant a lot to me.”

Severus’s face contorted in a nasty looking grimace, his nostrils flared, and she thought for a moment (if she didn’t know better) that he was going to strike her. She raised her chin. “Go ahead, do it,” she challenged harshly, “then I’ll know the truth about this whole thing.”

He let loose a huge breath and turned away from her, “What are you doing here?”

“Did you not hear me? Have you seen me? Eight months Severus!”

“It’s dangerous, I couldn’t…”

“But you’ve not denied that you did something terrible.”

Severus dropped his face into his hands and mumbled something indistinguishable.

“Severus?” She reached out to him, but Sereth brought both of their attention around. He was writhing under the covers and moaning desperately. They exchanged worried looks and both rushed to his bedside.

Madeline was pulling a tiny pouch from the side of her belt as she tugged the covers off from him. He was sweating and shaking, as he kicked and thrashed. She took a pinch of powder from the bag and sprinkled it over his face. Almost instantly he went still and heavy back into a deep sleep.

“It’s a sedative to help him rest,” she said.

A concerned look went from Sereth to Madeline, “What’s happened to him?”

Madeline licked her lips nervously, “He’s been emotionally scarred. His response to the event has been night terrors.”

A wave of anger passed over Severus again, “And who is responsible for this injustice?”

Madeline sucked in a long, deep breath, “I’m afraid to say that I have to carry that burden.”

“You?” Severus looked horrified.

“You will get no more from me until you explain yourself!” She growled. “I have a mind to take Sereth and leave right now as it is.”

“Madeline, this is a delicate situation that is extensively complex.”

“And?”

He closed his eyes to give himself a moment. His voice came wrathful into her mind, he would not speak a word aloud. “So be it! Yes, I killed Albus Dumbledore. However,” Severus raised a hand, despite his tight lips, “I know how you take to misunderstanding me, so you will listen – Albus asked for my help in his demise. He was going to die as it was, he had ingested a fatal poison. To prove my allegiances to the Dark Lord Dumbledore requested I fulfill an unbreakable vow I had made with Narcissa. He gave me the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts with the foreknowledge that I would only serve a single term in the position.” His voice lowered in her mind, “His intention was to have me bring down the Dark Lord from the inside. As he was already mortally wounded it made my loyalties look all that much more convicted. And my loyalties appear solid; as he wanted it. Trust me when I say I never wanted to heed his wishes.”

This time he spoke with his voice, “Now it’s your turn, what have you done to my son?”

She stood and crossed the room, “Your abbreviated tale leaves something to be desired. There are many whys left there.”

He was on his feet and angrily rushed to her in a matter of seconds, “You must trust me and my word – I meant none of this.”

She looked up to him. There was a pause and pain, “I do – I made that promise when I married you.”

“Now what have you done to my son?” He demanded.

“It has a lot to do with what I’m doing here,” she said instantly nervous. She fiddled with the top button her high necked velvet robe. “It’s terrible. I lied when I said I wasn’t concerned with war, things have managed to go awry at the Academy as well. It started in January, just after I returned. War broke out between the vampires and the Changelings. Because we use the Changeling freeholds, you know heavily glamorous locations, for our magical communities we had to side with them, where many of the werewolves took up the vampire’s fight.” She ran hand along her head as she paced the length of the room. Her voice shook as she turned back, “The new prince, he’s mean. Not to say that Skinner wasn’t, but this guy…he’s vicious and brutal in the medieval sense. That is to say, he’d rather torture than kill…”

---


Madeline was just exiting the Academy as she pulled a pair of sunglasses down over her eyes shielding them from the bright sunlight. She was looking forward to seeing Sereth and to sit down and write to her husband. Mrs. Alcott had taken Sereth for the day to the local springs where he could play in the park and feed the fish.

Madeline arrived at the nearly vacant park about an hour later. She was early, she knew as much. No doubt her mother was entertaining Sereth in one of the many playgrounds. Madeline stopped for a moment, to let the January sunshine wash over her. If it were anytime but the middle of the afternoon she’d closely watching her back; all sorts of nasty creatures crawled the local parks after dark. She heard the sound of grass crunch behind her but she was too slow as a strong arm wrapped around her pinning her arms to her sides with the force to almost crush her ribcage. The other hand went over her mouth.

“Madeline.”

“Mmmmm,” she mumbled as she wiggled, but all that got her was a more painful squeeze. The arms around her were inhumanly strong and the pasty white pale fingers mashing her nose into her face would suggest vampire in nature – but it was daylight.

“Ah Madeline,” he said again.

Then she recognized his voice, the vampire prince who had taken over for Zachariah Skinner. Her mind was racing, that was impossible; if there was one advantage she had it was daylight.

“No skeletons here except, perhaps, a few once beloved pets. Oh my, what a dilemma, what will you do now? Wonder how I’m standing here, in the glorious sunlight I haven’t seen in more the 800 years?”

His voice was grating on her as he hoisted her off the ground and slipped unnoticed into a nearby cove of trees while a family mingled by. She felt him take a long inhaled breath. “You smell divine. What is that aroma you’re carrying? Fresh…” he was saying to himself aloud. Madeline was fighting a vicious series of tremors that were trying to overtake her; she was alone without a wand or spell components and he clearly had the upper hand. Her only chance was if her mother happened to find them, but even then Madeline though she had little chance against this beast.
He gave a sudden laugh that was jarring, “I recognize it now…how delightful…you will be delicious…too bad you’re not more ripe.” His pausing between thoughts was making her even more uneasy. “You’re just full of fresh blood. So fresh, in fact, I bet you don’t even know it yet. It will satisfy my sweet tooth, ah yes – it makes you a teeny weeny bit warmer you know; being pregnant.”

Madeline went sort of limp in his grasp.

“You didn’t know then, did you?” And at that he didn’t wait, she felt his canines sink into her neck. She felt the warm and viscous nature of her blood run down her neck and onto her sweater, which quickly reddened. She thrashed, however it did nothing but tire her out quickly as it drained her faster. He didn’t stop at her neck, when she had been bled past weakness he tore at her arms and chest with his nails until it pooled where he could sip it from her skin. Then, just before unconsciousness, he leaned over her, “Thank you for that wonderful desert, I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. The one everyone told me to be afraid of. You don’t seem very dangerous to me, lying there.” He shrugged it off, “If you survive this, and oh I hope you do, prove to me that you’re strong, I’ll be looking forward to a repeat performance when you are ripe.” He reached over and gave her gut a quick pat, “Ta-ta.” And with that he swooped out of there and vanished in the distance.

She could see it; running red into pools in the grass just outside of the thicket he’d taken her into. She couldn’t move her head or her limbs, though she wished she could, at least to wipe her face which was becoming exceedingly sticky. Then she saw what she had hoped she wouldn’t, Sereth’s tiny feet just outside the wooded area. He would see her soon. She could hear him calling out for her, apparently it had reached 3:30. She saw his foot come down into one of the pools, which he noticed immediately. “Oh God, please no,” she thought. “No Ser, look the other way baby.” She vaguely heard screaming and then nothing.


---


“I woke up in bed at home. My body was healed, except this.” She pulled down the top of the high necked robes, where a gauze patch was slightly pink in the middle. She peeled back the white fabric to reveal two perfect puncture wounds in her neck that immediately began to bleed. She quickly replaced the gauze and straightened her collar, smoothing it tight against her neck.

“Madeline,” Severus was on his feet and heading to her.

But she went on, “He could have made me one of them that day, but he didn’t. He wanted me to suffer and for Sereth to suffer. I still have no explanation as to how he was out in the daylight, but I’m almost certain he has a powerful magic item. And clearly they’ve learned a few tricks about getting us permanently. They’re like sharks, they can smell blood. He was right, I didn’t know. She’s strong,” Madeline circled her stomach. “I never thought she’d pull through, but she did – and so did I.”

“She?” Severus asked.

“Yes, a girl. Your mother told me, ‘Severus always wanted a girl’ she said.” Madeline looked up to him.

“You saw my mother?” Then a draining feeling came over him and he glared at her, “He didn’t do that to you.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Madeline sniffed.

“Madeline! Don’t protect him. I now know how to explain the Muggle remedies for your wounds.”

“Sev,” Madeline went to him, “it’s over. I choose my fights, and that wasn’t one I wanted.”

“They can’t make it stop?” Changing the subject Severus’s hand grazed her neck.

“No. Not yet anyway. The clerics have slowed the bleeding immensely. Brent is working on an antidote everyday. It’s a new weapon they're using against us in this war. It’s got to be something magical, but none of ours have figured it out yet. It’s like that potion poison Kantela thought up, they can’t fight that either.”

“He must have thought you were dead,” Severus said looking painfully back to Sereth.

“Yes, that’s exactly why he’s suffering now,” Madeline waved a hand. “It’s the reason I’ve come. This event made me realize something…we’re going to die Sev. Maybe soon, maybe not; but we will die. I couldn’t go without seeing you one last time before I go into my war wholeheartedly. You know, in the tenure of our relationship, in our marriage, you’ve never once told me that you loved me. I stand here before you now to do just that. Severus Snape, I love you – with all the life in me. Not a single day goes by that I don’t live for you, to see you again, to touch you, to feel you, to hear you and to love you. You must know these things, if you know nothing else in the world, know that I love you and I am yours.”

He stared at her. He didn’t move, he didn’t breath…had he really never expressed in words what she meant to him. She had to know, she had to. Or did she? Slowly he went to her, “Madeline Snape…” where to being? “I love you.” And he left it at that.

~*~*~

A/N: Chapter title borrowed from the song of the same title.

Chapter 9: A Dangerous Request
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A/N: Okay. This chapter requires some explaining. First it is the final chapter of Jaded (it starts right where the last chapter ended) and the first chapter of Jaded’s sequel (two for one!) – which will not be posted as a separate story, but as a continuation of this story. With that said, you can stop at this chapter, dust your hands, and be done with it; however you can also go forward with it if you choose to. As a warning the future chapters will focus mostly on Madeline and less on Severus, but please understand that Severus is a HUGE part of her life so he will be there a lot. You’re going to get a glimpse of the Academy of Alchemy and the way it works in this chapter. Please understand the 1st person POV is only being used in this chapter as a bridge/mini preface to personify Madeline a bit more. It will not be used in future chapters. And now, a much needed disclaimer: I don’t own the Potterverse and I’m only borrowing JK’s characters also there are some White Wolf themes used throughout this piece. As always thank you for reading and please review if you have a moment, I’d really appreciate it!


A Dangerous Request


My name is Madeline Alcott. I’ve always had the knowledge that life would be trying, on a good day – today isn’t one of those days. In fact I might go out on a very shaky limb and say that today is a vile day. I’m standing in an uncomfortable house, extremely far away from where I’m familiar trying to reason with my very emotionally inept, scarred, surly, brooding, and (above all) unnecessarily angry husband. I dare say, despite the distaste for our discussion, he and my son, Sereth, are the only positive things available to me at the present. That aside, we’ve woven a dangerously delicate lie, to my hostess Mrs. Lucius Malfoy, that is poorly tied at the ends and ready to unravel any second now. What can I say? I’m Necromancer, not actress – and a teacher to top it all off.

He was looking at me the same way he did the first time he sat in on one of my classes. It was an incredulous expression that harbored on shock and resentment…


---


“Where will I find Madeline Alcott’s classroom?” Severus asked Dr. Jasper Dunlap, the principle of the Academy of Alchemy. The little man scurried around something like a rodent and was always in a fluster. He pointed up a crowded walkway, “Just behind those doors.”

Severus had spent the summer with Madeline in her home city of Altamonte Springs, because he would be able to stay longer there with her as the Academy classes began nearly three weeks before Hogwarts did.

The Academy of Alchemy was nestled in a public place to Muggles, similarly to St. Mungo’s Hospital. The only difference was this place trafficked Muggles on the inside of the building where St. Mungo’s housed the appearance of an abandon building. Secret magic classes happened behind shops in a mall. Severus regarded it as foolish and poorly planned, however when he had seen the extensive and intricate rooms masked to Muggle eyes he was surprised to find that it almost rivaled Hogwarts in majesty.

He slipped silently into the area Dunlap had directed him to. It was empty of living beings at the moment. The highly vaulted ceiling was draped with black and red velvet, shelves of books lined the room, with a chance every now and then strategically placed skull book end. There was a table at the front with varying sized containers, a shallow basin, and a pile of bone fragments. The fifty or so chairs were in neat little rows and nothing seems an inch out of place. The fragrance that occupied the room was odd, a sort of dead flower smell mixed with incense. And the whole place burned in soft, dim ochre. Each corner of the room had two, what appeared to be, complete sets of yellowy-white human skeletons. Several sets of vampire jaws were displayed as if they had been caught and reeled in like some giant sail fish. Nine months they had been married, and she still fascinated him each day.

As students in navy and baby blue uniforms started to filter in Severus loped to the back of the room and loomed quietly in the shadows. They were young, he would have call them third years; Madeline had smiled briefly amused and told him they were ‘8th graders’ – or first year focus.

They didn’t seem to notice him as they chatted, giggled, stomped, sulked, and hurried to their seats in all fashions as thirteen year old students tend to do. He silently wondered how these students would fair against his own Hogwarts pupils. All the students found chairs quickly when the door snapped shut.

She seemed young, his wife. Severus hadn’t noticed previously how youthful she actually was. However, among these thirteen years old, that she didn’t even senior by ten years, he felt old. She didn’t notice him as she started right away, slipping behind the desk.

“Good morning class. I’m Ms. Alcott and I’ll be your first year focus teacher. As you all know this will be your first class in your selected path. Understand that there will not be much wand use in this area, so if you’ve come here for that you’ve picked the wrong path. With that said, I hope you’ve all brewed and dried your spell components that were listed to you at the end of last year when you selected this focus, because we won’t be waiting to get started.

“Some of the things we’ll cover are how to animate and control the dead, plague the living, drain life force, even feign death. Now,” she reached over the table and dipped her fingers into one of the small containers. She retrieved a tiny bit of fine, silvery dust, “you’ll need Anything Powder,” she reached into the next and pinched out a heavier, yellow-green one, “Worm’s Ward, and,” to the next she went, “Manical Root.” She peered up to her students who were all reaching into their leather bags extracting long belts or ropes with tiny pouches down the length of them, presumably filled with all sorts of these dusts, powders and other oddities. A slim smile played on her face as she seemed proud, “Did everyone formulate their components?” It was clear that she was expecting a negative response, but when she received none she cocked an eyebrow and folded her hands together, “Excellent. Today we’ll be going over animate the dead. It’s imperative that you understand this skill, if you learn nothing else as a Necromancer. To start-”

But a hand shot into the air, followed by a young gruff voice, “Ms. Alcott?”

She peered down at the thick boy who had interrupted her, “Yes Brandon?”

“Will we be learning about the Soul-Split?”

Severus perked, an action that was mirrored by several of the students.

She didn’t even bat an eye as she brushed past him and paced the rows silently. They all seemed to lean in waiting for her response. Finally she nodded sharply, “The Horcrux, yes. That is a topic reserved for juniors, therefore you won’t be covering that area for another four years. I will say this about it now though,” it was then that her gaze caught Severus; a shocked and inquisitive look on his face (it was clearly a taboo topic in England, and she could tell that she was fulfilling the stereotypic theme of vulgar American by addressing it), “there are many thing you will learn however some things you should never do. This is one of those things,” she snapped harshly. “You will be taught how to make them, how to destroy them, how to sense them, but most importantly how to recognize those who use them – because those that are willing to go to that length are very dangerous and mostly likely past sanity.”

“Have you ever met someone who has made one?” A girl in the back of the class asked.

Madeline paused, “Yes.”

The class erupted in buzzing chatter. Madeline pinched a bit of dust from one of the other containers and threw it in the basin causing a bright flash and a loud crack that brought still quiet down around the room.

“Silence! That’s enough about a subject I can only hope all of you will make it to – you all applied to get into this school and you all applied to this program of study that you can be sent from just as you were received into to it! I’m lucky to have survived such a meeting and so would any of you if you ever come across someone mad enough to be that foolish. I hope to never be in that situation again, and you should hope it never befalls you. Save advanced studies for advanced minds, do I make myself clear?”

Several ‘yes ma’ams’ rattled through the crowd, and despite the stern lecture from their new teacher by the end of class, when many of the students had once dead biology frogs hopping about the room, all such harshness was forgotten and she had won them back over.

She went to him as the students thanked her and moseyed out leaving limp frogs on the desk. He was staring at her, his expression hadn’t changed since she noticed him in the room, “Severus…”


---


“Severus…” her voice carried the same as it had that day, when he watched her address the same topic he wanted desperate to ask her about now. She could read his expression, despite its stony nature. She shook her head, “No Sev, no.”

“Madeline you know, don’t you?”

She took a deep breath and pressed her hands to her forehead, “I know the truth about all of this, yes.”

“How?”

“Severus,” Madeline stepped away, “I’m not involved, I won’t be involved. I’m sorry. You don’t have the basis on which to understand this sort of devil – and trust me when I say it’s of the devil.”

“Who was it?” He asked abruptly, rather than arguing the idiosyncrasies of his knowledge of the Dark Arts.

“What?” She asked reflexively.

“You told your students you knew someone who had performed the Horcrux.”

Her cheeks flushed and she clasped her hands close to her chest where she paced the length of the room, “My brother.”

“Isaac?” Severus sounded almost surprised.

“Heavens no,” Madeline barked. “Elijah.”

Severus stood in silence waiting for her to go on. When she didn’t he prodded, “Elijah?”

“Yes, he was five years my senior and six Isaac’s junior. And he was completely daft,” she added curtly.

“You continue to use the phrase ‘was’ when describing him.”

“He’s dead, of course. Another burden I have to shoulder. I killed him, just before I took his job.” She hissed.

Severus stood, uncharacteristically, in shock, “You?”

“That’s right, me. One of those little dangerous things you don’t know about me,” she was rigid with her back perfectly straight and her arms absolutely still. He felt very much like those students getting a lecture from her about the evils of such vile magic. “It takes something that is without reason to be that stupid, and when you half yourself you loose your given right to life. I take no pride in having taken Elijah from my family but I have no shame in it either.”

“Did you destroy the item as well?”

“Them, yes.”

“More than one?” Severus questioned.

“He was a clever bastard,” she smirked, “My parents’ wedding bands. He figured that since they were laced with an unbreakable vow they were indestructible. He was wrong of course.”

As she made her way back to him he opened his mouth to speak but she pressed her hand over it, “Stop Severus, these are doors you don’t want to open with me. I will not share with you what I know, I can’t.”

“You won’t,” he growled.

“And that,” she nodded, doing her best to sound gentle and understanding, “yes.”

“You could assist and end all of this now, yet refuse.”

She fought the tears that were threatening to escape. She wouldn’t do it, she wouldn’t cry in front of him, she wouldn’t hide behind his promise to Isaac that meant she would stay out of this mess, she would stand on her own principles even if it meant that she would deny her husband what he asked. She was angry at herself for even having to convince the urge of crying to subside. “I will not stand here and fight for a cause with magic that is not allowed so that in the end I can be thrown in Azkaban Prison for being labeled a Death Eater when all along I was fighting for the side of right, no. My magic alone brands me evil by your standards!”

“I know all of these things, but is it not worth it?” He took her tightly by the arms and almost shook her.

“Maybe.” She said quietly. “But that’s why you’re fighting it and I’m taking our children somewhere far away that’s safe.”

A stirring from the bed caused them both to draw their attention away from the discussion at hand. Sereth was sitting up, in the middle of the bed, staring sleepily at them. A huge smile lit his face as he bound from the bed and raced to his father. He stopped a few feet short, folded his hands in front of him, restraining the urge to throw himself onto Severus and said politely, “Hello Dad.”

When Severus knelt next to the little boy Sereth didn’t wait, he thrust himself wholeheartedly onto Severus, “We missed you Daddy.”

Reluctantly Severus wrapped his arms around the child and lifted him off the ground. He just held Sereth silently for a few moments, maybe feeling that it might be the last time he’d see him or maybe just enjoying the moment, his intention wasn’t clear. Severus was most often stern with Sereth, as was Madeline, making him be polite and answer with yes ma’am, no sir, please and thank you. He was happy to please them and always did as they asked; but in that moment Madeline was certain that Sereth would have fought anyone who tried to pry him from his father’s arms – as it was a rare occasion that Severus showed the boy any sort of affection.
A strange expression passed over Severus’s face and his arm squeezed reflexively around Sereth, then he shook that arm. He bent over a stool, with Sereth still clinging to him, at the end of the bed and picked up Madeline’s traveling cloak that had been delivered by the house-elf. He chucked it at her. Then he reached over and scooped up Sereth’s and draped it over his shoulders with his free hand. “You must leave.”

“What?”

“Now!” Severus shouted.

“Severus, what’s going -” Madeline went to him.

“Not now Madeline, just heed me,” Severus told her. When her face went sour he added, more gently, “There is no time. It burns.”

Madeline didn’t say more, she tossed her cloak on and hurried to the door. Severus followed still carrying Sereth. She hoped they would miss Narcissa in the rush to get out of Malfoy Mansion before the possible arrival of the Dark Lord. This wish was not granted as Narcissa and Draco were both at the foot of the staircase when Madeline and Severus hurried down them. Madeline didn’t bother pretending, nor did she acknowledge them as she turned back, “Sereth, you must come with me now.”

“No.” He said with as much conviction as he possibly could.

“Sereth baby, now isn’t the time to be adversarial. Do as I say,” she told him sternly.

“Don’t make me,” he begged to Severus. “She’s going to die.”

“She’s not going to die,” Severus told him just as sternly as Madeline had been. “Sereth, go with your mother.”

“We’re never going to see you again, are we?” Sereth asked.

Severus didn’t respond he simply handed him over to Madeline.

Madeline paused and started to go back, “Severus -”

“No, you’re wasting precious minutes. Go.”

She reached out to him and their hands met briefly when she said, “I love you.”

Narcissa stared in shock and disbelief as Madeline stopped to thank her for her hospitality, her kindness, to tell her it was lovely meeting them finally, and to apologize for their hasty exit. And with that, she was gone.



Chapter 10: A Mother’s Worst Fear
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A/N: This is a filler chapter to get this story rolling. I just wanted everyone to know that this is just some back story and things of that nature to get this story lined up for where it needs to be. Future chapters will be similar to what you saw with the first part of Jaded. And I just want you to plan on reading more of Severus Snape (I hope everyone’s all right with that) than I had previously intended. :-) The quote on the snapshot of Madeline up there is from the first chapter of this story, for anyone who was interested.



A Mother’s Worst Fear


It was a long trip, with few answers, more questions, and a broken heart Madeline returned home in preparation for the new school year. She feared Sereth may have been right when he asked Severus, “We’re never going to see you again, are we?”

They arrived late and spoke to no one until the following day, the day it all started. Madeline had come in her office early, as she often did. Venya, Madeline’s sister-in-law, had insisted on taking Sereth for the day and Madeline had agreed telling Venya to let Isaac know that she would be after him later in the day. She was still tired and recovering from the time difference as she dipped into her office before anyone was around to catch her.

She sat behind the black lacquered desk and stared at her reflection in the polished obsidian colored surface for some time. She had forced herself to feel nothing for so long that she was almost numb to the world. It had been a rough couple of weeks.

“Sit up straight.”

Madeline’s eyes darted up to a familiar face that made her heart sink and her stomach turn. “Hello Mother.”

“Well,” The tall woman pointed her nose in the air and turned away snootily. “You’re still slouching.”

Madeline pressed her shoulders down and leaned up in the chair, “What brings you here?”

“You, of course. Venya had Sereth so I knew where to find you.” She widened her eyes, glancing at Madeline briefly. “How was your trip over seas?”

“Lovely,” Madeline lied. She knew her mother, standing there with nothing less than confidence, would ask for no other reaction – regardless of the amount of truth in her response. “You never give the impression that anything is out of the ordinary,” she had been instructed as a little girl, and it stuck with her.

The tall woman swept across the office and ran her hand along one of the many displayed animal skeleton’s spinal cord as she nodded sharply, “Excellent. Then you’ve done as you were to do?” Mrs. Alcott turned and peered down her long nose at her daughter.

Madeline looked at her hands folded in her lap, “Mother…”

“Of course you didn’t!” Mrs. Alcott was at the foot of Madeline’s desk in an instant. She was glaring angrily at her daughter through narrow eyes. She didn’t blink, not once as Madeline did her best not to breathe. Madeline bit her bottom lip.

“Ask me how I know?” Mrs. Alcott leaned over the desk and tightened the little bit of space between them.

Madeline raised her chin and said clearly, “How did you know?”

Mrs. Alcott was breathing fire as she paused for several long seconds. Finally she pulled back, apparently Madeline had reacted appropriately because she didn’t scold her. However the fury was still present, she simply reached in her sleeve and extracted a rolled parchment tied with a black ribbon. She whipped the scroll on Madeline’s desk so hard it gave a loud and sudden snap. Madeline didn’t even bat an eye, she held in the urge to jump at the crisp noise that echoed in the previously silent room.

Mrs. Alcott pointed an irate finger, so much so that it was shaking, at the scroll, “That’s how! That! You left it behind! Or perhaps you just forgot!”

“Lower your voice,” Madeline hissed, “you’re making a scene.”

“I’m making a scene? There’s no one here to make a scene for!”

“I’m here,” Madeline raised an eyebrow as she reached for the paper but drawing back before taking it up. She knew what was in there, she knew what her mother wanted, and what her mother thought she was going to England for – and it all laid in that paper.

“Yes, I can see that!” Mrs. Alcott snapped. “But…why…what…?” She sputtered for a few moments before Madeline smoothed the folds of her robe in her lap.

“I have a family Mother, it’s not easily tossed away. Not by you.”

“Do you know why I didn’t ask that you make an Unbreakable Vow with Severus on your wedding day?” Mrs. Alcott’s tone calmed and she pretended to smile.

“Why Mother?”

Again, Madeline had the right response because Mrs. Alcott went on, once more turning on her fury and she jabbed her long bony finger at the scroll, “So that one day you could ask for a divorce!”

“Enough,” Madeline got to her feet, raising her voice to match her mother’s.

“Don’t even take that tone with me Madeline!” Mrs. Alcott roared. “I’m doing what is best for you.”

“I think I can decide what is best for me, Mom.”

“Well Severus isn’t it.” She spat. Then, taking several deep breaths, she calmly went on, more gently, “You have such a bright future but you’re being dragged down by the dead weight of a husband who doesn’t care for you. You could get out of this school and move on with your life if you’d just do some reorganizing.”

“I like working here.”

“It was suitable for your brother, Elijah, but you’re better than all of this.”

“Better than what?” Madeline wrinkled her nose. “Mom I went to this school. This is the best school on the east coast. We have some of the best students because of the complicated, difficult, and selective application process.”

“I know that,” Mrs. Alcott stiffened. “But, it’s still teaching. There are so many more noble things that you could be doing.”

Madeline restrained the urge to roll her eyes, “What would you have me do?”

“Considering that you decided to have children I would have you be a mother!” Then she audibly mumbled something that sounded very much along the lines of Severus’s worthlessness.

“That is one label for me, but not the only. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Severus and I are expecting a second child. I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak ill of him.”

“Don’t get sassy with me,” Mrs. Alcott shook her head viciously. “I had hoped there was some other explanation.”

“Mother!” Madeline looked appalled as she sank back into her seat. “I would never consider…”

“Well,” the nasty woman cut her off sharply as she sniffed, “I can only tell you again that I didn’t make you promise your life away in an Unbreakable Vow so I hoped…”

“I would never consider such a thing and I’m completely offended that you would even suggest it.” Madeline was certain her face was red despite her attempt at calmness.

“I don’t have the energy for this just now. Madam Gast has requested your presence; I told her I’d pass the information on.” She reached out and tapped the scroll, “Get that started right away Madeline. I promise it will be best for you and your children. Remember, you are my first concern. Oh, and have Brent removed that horrible thing from Sereth’s arm and get him to fix your face…I can’t even believe you left home like that.”

She didn’t bother asking how Madam Gast knew she had returned as her mother vanished behind the door. Madeline sank deeper into her chair, never in all of her life would she believe the words “you are my first concern” from her mother. She knew her mother’s intentions must be malicious and she wouldn’t be surprised if the old bat had already auctioned her off to some rich mage who was closer to home. She could do without the distance between herself and Severus but she wasn’t unhappy.

Finally she reached into her desk and pulled out a silvery wand and a heavy leather belt with tiny pouches lining it. She couldn’t even dream of fitting the belt around her waistline at the moment, however she reached into one of the sacks and dusked the scroll with the powder she extracted and then hissed something that sounded like, “Shirak” and the parchment sizzled and then disintegrated in a poof of flames.

It was only a matter of minutes before she was knocking on a door that was labeled with the title: Madam Michelle Gast, Vice Principle, Head Sorceress, 5th Ranked Mage.

“Come.”

Madeline pushed the door open, to what appeared to be the outdoors. Madam Gast’s office was enchanted by several forms of magic that gave the ongoing impression that it was a perfectly clear day at noontime no matter what hour of the day it actually was. Her desk was fashioned out of a misshapen old oak tree with a nearby stump serving as the chair. One would never be able to tell they had just come from a monument of consumerism in this serene forest-like landscape. Madeline knew the actual office didn’t reach past a few feet in each direction, but it appeared that the woods went on for miles.

“Madeline! I’ve been expecting you. Heavens Mad, you look awful.”

“Thank you,” Madeline nodded mockingly.

“Please sit,” The tall thickly build, middle aged woman hustled Madeline onto one of the many landscape friendly pseudo chairs rather than commenting on her poor form. This one happened to be a tree branch that hung very low to the ground. “The fresh air’ll help you feel better.”

“My mother said you’d asked me to come.”

“Oh yes, Josephine stopped by this morning, I knew she’d be to see you…she was in quite a fluster now wasn’t she?”

“Quite,” Madeline agreed trying to sit steady, but her head was feeling very heavy all of sudden.

“I’ve called you here to update you on the happenings while you were out gallivanting.” The woman chuckled in a guttural belly laugh that made Madeline want to curse her. There was nothing to laugh about at the moment.

“Yes?” Madeline asked sharply.

“Well,” Madam Gast cleared her throat and stifled her jolly attitude, “Things have been better, that’s for sure. It could be worse though. However, the Wizarding Republic Government has offered aid to a dispute request issued by the Ministry of Magic. There are apparently horrible things going on over there. They’re asking for volunteers, I thought maybe -”

“No,” Madeline didn’t need to hear anymore. Slowly she picked herself up on wobbly legs, she stumbled a little and she felt Madam Gast catch her at the elbows. “Michelle, contact Brent…I think I need him.”

Her head was spinning, nothing had gone right for days. There was stress and pain, she remembered being told to push, Brent’s gentle voice telling her she’d be okay, the bright sterile lights of the hospital, and being asked what she wanted to name the brand new baby girl that was being deposited into her arms. She held the tiny child for a matter of seconds before she felt her body start to get weak, “Eileen,” she had said to those around her and then blackness.

She blinked her eyes open. She had no idea what day it was, or how long she’d been asleep. It all seemed like a bad dream; a very surreal existence, and for a very brief moment she thought she was still a teenager, sleeping in a little late for class and then almost leapt from the bed, but a hand came down gently on her forehead, “Mad, you’re awake.”

She tried to focus on the face before her, she recognized the voice. “Brent,” her voice came out awkward and dry, as if she hadn’t used it in days. “Please tell me I’ve dreamt the last, oh, eight years.”

“I wish I could,” there was something in his voice, something she’d never heard before…perhaps a tinge of fear.

She tried to sit up, but he pressed her shoulders down. “Brent, where’s Sereth and Eileen…I gave birth to her didn’t I? I vaguely remember it. The pain would suggest yes.” She tried to smile, “How long have I been asleep?”

“You’ve been through a lot, from what Sereth tells me. We got him all fixed up, like new…and that scratch on your face won’t even scar.” Brent said pouring her a glass of water. “You’ve overworked yourself far too much, hence the early delivery of Eileen.” There it was again, the fearful tone, or maybe it was pain, she couldn’t place it. “You shouldn’t have been doing it all. Stress is bad.”

“That’s life Brent,” Madeline retorted accepting the offered glass. “I was due in a couple of weeks, it's not that early Brent. Where are they?”

“Sereth is with Isaac and Venya.”

“And Eileen?”

She could see him now, clearly. He stood and paced to the other side of the room, “She’s gone Mad.”

“What?!” Madeline shot up in her bed so fast she’d forgotten she was only in a nightgown. She didn’t care though as she implored him, “How do you mean, gone?”

“Two nights ago, they day you delivered her, she was stolen from the nursery. She’s gone Madeline and we don’t know who took her.”


Chapter 11: A Hunter
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A/N: This chapter has been fixed up and edited a lot. I couldn’t leave it up with the way it was because it was mostly sloppy so I have gone back and fixed it all up. There was a little bit of a plot problem I really needed to address, so it was down for a little bit…but I’ve got it all smoothed over and stuff. Anyhow, thank you for reading I really appreciate it. Please review if you have a moment.

A Hunter


Pounding. He tried to sleep through it, no doubt the soon-to-be 8th grade first year Healing focus kids (who had returned a week early for classes starting the following week) downstairs were blowing things up with the spells they’d learned over the last school year; it was nothing. But it persisted and Brent was forced to sit up, Sereth was sleeping in the room next to his and he was ‘supposed’ to stop them if they were being too loud. However, Brent encouraged his students to try new things, the other cleric teachers on his floor hated that about him, because it often ended in them bustling downstairs in their nightdress serving detentions for something one of the other instructors asked of them. As such Brent had told all his kids to make sure the noise stopped after eleven at night so he didn’t have to fill out the paperwork to revoke their detentions – but currently it was 2am. He wondered absently as he moseyed sleepily to the door why one of the other teachers hadn’t gone down there already.

As he pulled the door open he was shocked to find that it wasn’t students exploding things, but someone beating on his door. He smiled stupidly, with tufts of sleep affected hair sticking out at odd angles all over his head, “Hello Severus.”

“Where is she?” He snarled with no warning.

“Whoa,” Brent held up his hand like a police officer directing traffic, “I thought we could start with some nice hello’s, then maybe I could scrounge up some tea, you know, friendly stuff…oh and I could wake up all little before you bite my head off.”

“My apologies,” Severus hissed with no indication of actual sorry in his tone as he swooped into Brent’s third floor apartment. Severus had been there before. The whole apartment complex called Sundance Apartments was owned by the Academy of Alchemy and served as the dorms for the students. There was one building designated for each focus set, with the exception of Evocation. Since most students went into Evocation there was a building for each subgroup of the Evocation focus (Pyromancy, Aquamancy, Electromancy, Terramancy, and Wind Control). Two separate buildings sat on the edge of the complex for the 6th and 7th graders who didn’t have a focus yet. “She’s not in the Necromancy building, I assumed you would know where to find her.”

Brent heaved a great breath and ran his hand through his wild hair, “You’re gonna want to sit down.”

“I’ll stand,” Severus snapped.

“Suit yourself,” Brent shrugged and shuffled into the kitchen. He let Severus brew in the living room for a few moments while he whipped up a cup of coffee. When he returned Severus was puffing angrily but still standing.

“Do you know where she is?”

“First, what are you doing here?”

“I thought it was clear? I’m looking for Madeline.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes, she looked close to delivery; she must be due soon. I wanted to be here when it happened.” Severus sniffed. He didn’t bother mentioning how difficult it was to leave England for the time being, nor the lies he had to fabricate to slip away for this time.

Brent nodded, obviously accepting Severus’s answer. Feeling as though he needn’t answer questions, as it was, Snape appeared to get even more irritated.

“She’s not here Severus,” Brent said.

“I didn’t expect her to be here,” Severus said slowly in a low tone that hovered on malice. “I expected that you would know where I could find her.”

Brent sipped his steaming coffee, as he sank into one of his comfy chairs. He stared at the liquid swirling in the black cup. “I haven’t heard from her in three days.”

“But you have seen her since she returned?”

“Yes.” Brent took another deep breath, “She wasn’t well.”

“Excuse me?” Severus’s jaw went rigid and he wore an expression of serious contempt. He made it clear that Brent was treading on dangerous ground, but the young cleric didn’t bother to notice as he tipped his coffee cup up and drained it.

“Sick, you know, unwell,” Brent reiterated.

“I heard you,” Severus barked hastily.

“Well,” Brent got to his feet and nodded to Severus, “you can go on back home now.”

“What?” The aggravation rose in Snape as he stared unrelenting at Brent.

“You’ve missed your purpose, she had the baby nearly a week ago.”

“You found it necessary to keep that information from me?” Severus accused more than questioned.

“Look,” Brent said in earnest, “way I see it, you need my help. To get it you’ll have to accept my hospitality. Now sit and I’ll make you some tea and explain. It’s the middle of the night Severus, you won’t get anywhere now – except maybe dead in the war that’s raging out there.”

“Are you implying that I’ve never experience war? Nor that I could handle it?” Severus was stretching his patience as he knew he did, in fact, need Brent’s help.

“I never insinuated either of those things. Now please, I think I can answer some of your questions. Also, mind your voice; Sereth is sleeping in that room there.” He pointed across the way when he got up and went back into the kitchen as Severus was left with a sour grimace at the news of his son’s presence in this house.

Brent returned with a cup of tea that he handed to Severus. Severus sipped it without complaint, despite the fact that American tea was never as good as what he was used to.

“Well, she gave birth to Eileen five days -”

“Eileen?” Severus queried unsteadily. He stifled the pride that welled in his chest and refrained from allowing it to show outwardly at all.

“Yes,” Brent nodded. “That very night Eileen was kidnapped.”

“Kidnapped?” Severus repeated sharply. “How?”

“We don’t know, nor by whom.” Brent added.

“You mean you weren’t watching her?”

“I’m sorry Severus I was too busy trying to keep your wife alive, the healthy baby was secondary in my mind. Besides we have nurses who take watch over the newborns. It would appear that a minor shift change which was scheduled improperly allowed for the disappearance of Eileen.”

Severus didn’t respond he simply pinched his lips in a mean looking frown and went silent, doing his best not to do something he would soon regret. The tinge of jealousy reared its angry head in Severus’s mind, this man should not be so close to his wife.

“Anyway, I had to be the barer of bad news when Mad woke two days later. She went insane. Completely mad and left Sereth with me while she went for Eileen.”

“She has some idea who has the child then?” Severus’s thin patience were fighting his sanity as he tried to grasp the wholeness of the events surround Madeline and Eileen’s disappearance.

“No. That’s the problem.”

“Why did she leave Sereth with you?” Severus cocked his head and tried not to look displeased, but failed dismally.

“Because she knew her family would go berserk over Eileen missing. And, of course, she was right; they have. She didn’t want Sereth in that environment. They’ve been coming and going looking for her. The Academy is organizing a full search if they doesn’t turn up in a couple of days.”

“Why haven’t you gone looking for her?” A devilish smile played on Severus’s mouth and the nasty remarks that would follow about Brent trying to be a hero were reserved, for the time being.

“I know what I’ll find and I couldn’t bear it. Even in her annoyingly haughty, cocky, and obnoxiously arrogant way she’s still my best friend. I love her Severus, as much as you do in a different way. Besides she wanted me to care for her son, and I will take her wishes and carry them out. Anyhow, you’re here now.”

“Yes and I’ll be taking Sereth.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, he’s safe here. You need to find Madeline.”

“I have the intention of doing just that,” Severus sneered. This man, who sat across from him, casually chatting it up was infuriating. He threw around that word he, Severus, couldn’t even express and spoke as if he were allowed to discuss such a topic with as much ease.

“Leave Sereth with me, go find her, and by God please bring her back,” Brent’s face lost some of its charm and worry passed over it. “I’ve not seen her like that many times. If there’s one thing Madeline is, it’s predictable. She’s always so irritatingly proper that I could choke her, but she was nearly beyond any semblance of sanity. I can only think of one other time that she was that erratic.” It was as if Brent has slipped into a distance past that pained him to think of as he stared uncomfortably in his empty cup.

“Erratic?”

“Yes. Completely irrational…”

---


Madeline clicked the knob to her parent’s downtown Victorian style home. It was nestled in the heart of a sleepy town that had sprawling trees that sent shadows onto the tiny two lane road where exciting things never seemed to happen. Children played with their dogs in sprinklers running water into the hot July afternoon and on a very rare occasion a car might pass by with the window rolled down where the driver would wave at the people cultivating their perfectly edged driveways.

They would never know that behind the door of the Alcotts, who seemed a perfectly normal couple if not a little prissy, would exist a vast mansion because of the magic infused with it. It looked as charming and delicate as the other four or five bedroom houses that lined the road in neat little rows, but when one stepped through the threshold of the abode a beautiful and ancient mansion awaited them.

She and Brent had just arrived for a small vacation from Advanced Training in their respective fields. They had spent two years in Washington DC learning intense variants of Necromancy and Healing with few breaks since their graduation from the Academy of Alchemy. Both were delighted to arrive on familiar soil where the air was sticky with humidity and the sun burned more amazingly than in the steely concrete and mortar city. This was home. Cool spring waters and roaring oceans surrounded every aspect of this life, it was the one thing Brent knew his young companion would yield to. She would kick back, relax, and toss her shoes to the side while she sat back and soaked in the glorious heat of summer in Florida. She called it a weakness he told her it was charm.

“Come on Mad! Why do you want to stop here, when the beach is calling?” A very young and spunky version of the future mellow cleric asked.

“Be patient,” She warned him lowering her eyes and gracefully floating across the shiny polished wooden floor to a thick, heavily ornamented banister. “Or you’ll be going alone.”

“Right,” Brent snorted, “that’s an empty threat.”

“What do you know of empty threats?” She hissed looking down the bridge of her nose on him from the first step leading to the next floor.

“Cut it out creepy, you look like your mother.”

“Good,” Madeline gave a sharp cocky nod.

Brent just rolled his eyes and made to follow her up the stairs but she stopped and he nearly plowed her over. “What now?” He moaned. “It’s calling me Mad, the beach…”

“Sssshhhhh - ” she waved her hand and when he started to protest again she smack her hand over his mouth, “Silence!”

Her face lost all expression and then color as she dug her nails into his cheek.

“Ouch!” Brent pried her hand from his face. “Madeline?”

She blinked and shook her head gently. “No…no, no, NO! It can’t be.”

“Can’t be what?” Brent was saying but she had already grabbed up a handful of skirts, hiked them up over her knees, and was taking the stairs two at a time. “Madeline, wait up!” He was trying to keep up as she ran the long hall throwing doors open left and right as she went. She was muttering something but he couldn’t tell what. Her look was wild as her hands frantically traced along the wall as she dashed the long corridor.

She stopped suddenly and swung on him, she was searching his face for something. His blank look made her mouth turn down and twist in a crooked frown. “Damn!”

“What?” He asked again almost annoyed.

Her breath caught awkwardly as she dropped to her knee, “Give me some Anything Powder.” When he continued to stand stalk still she shouted, “NOW!”

Fumbling in his pockets Brent dug for the one universal component among the foci. His fingers brushed a pouch and he quickly snatched it out and tossed it to her. She sprinkled some on the wooden floor and whispered a few random words and waited as the powder twinkled then turned to white smoke.

Slowly Brent was cautiously stepping backward, “Madeline….?”

She looked quite feral as she watched the smoke turn to various shapes he couldn’t identify. With each new symbol she looked as if she’d explode right there until finally she ran her hand through the swirling translucent mist and shouted, “I’ve seen enough!” Brent thought for a moment she was going to rip his throat out, and for a moment, a brief moment, she scared him enough to cause him to distrust her.

“Mad…” he questioned, taking another step back.

She lunged at him, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him as violently as she could, “I’m going to kill him,” she said in a low voice, “I must.”

“Kill? What is this kill?” Brent was mostly mouthing and looking like some overgrown fish as he did so.

“It’s a Horcrux, in this house. HE BROUGHT THAT EVIL INTO THIS HOUSE!”


---


“Erratic,” Brent repeated. “She lost it, and she kept that word…she killed him. It was the first real one she’d seen, and it scared the hell out of her. Did she ever tell you that her original intention was to be a Hunter?”

“No.” Severus said sharply.

Brent smiled and gave a reluctant smirk, “Yeah, that dream left right away after that incident. She had spent most of her time in DC studying them, she had planned on moving to the city where she could work in the government being a Hunter. She doesn’t even talk about it anymore, in fact after that occurrence she doesn’t even tell people that her first two years in Advanced Training was focused in Horcruxes. She shifted quickly and picked up that Vampire path thingy in her final year.”

“Am I to understand a Hunter seeks Horcruxes?” Severus asked.

“Yep, that’s right. There are hell’a dark mages out there who’ve made ‘em then gotten themselves killed. All those Horcruxes are just sitting out there, being benignly dangerous. But,” Brent shrugged, “that’s why we have Hunters. Making the world safer one dark wizard at a time.” He smiled like some idiot special announcement speaker at a Quidditch match.

Severus reflected for a brief moment on this new information. She clearly knew something at Malfoy Mansion that she wasn’t sharing. He shook the aggravation of it from his mind, he already knew that. Severus stood, “I’m going for her and my daughter.”

“Severus, stay the night.” Brent encouraged him. “Sleep, even if for just a few hours. It’s going to be rough out there.”

Severus thought on it only for a matter of seconds, “Yes, that would be wise. I would appreciate it if you would mention to no one that I’ve come.”

“Done.”

“Even Sereth, for now.”

Brent nodded, “Agreed.”

“It will be best if I have the advantage of surprise.”

Brent nodded as he pointed to a door next to Sereth’s, “You can stay in that room. If I were you, I’d try Cassadaga first. It’s a community that specializes in the supernatural, you’ll find Wraiths there, they sometimes have knowledge that we don’t.”

Severus simply turned and headed for the room, but he paused before entering, “I expect that excellent care will be taken of Sereth.”

“You have my word.”


Chapter 12: A Little Help
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A/N: After much agonizing over this chapter I’ve finally decided it’s ready to be posted. My story boarder and I worked with this chapter for some time last night. I wasn’t happy with it, she thought it was good. There is lots of filler information I’ve been dying to get in, that is the best part about this chapter…to me. :-) I hope you guys like it. As always, thank you for reading and please review if you have a moment; I’d really appreciate it. And to Miss Mandy, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to respond to your review…I took down that chapter to do some edits and somehow the review remained but I can’t access it to respond…but as always thank you!

A Little Help



Cassadaga proved to be a tiny city, only the length of a quarter mile down a two lane road that led to an ancient looking Spanish design haunted hotel. Thick gray clouds hanging low in the mid morning sky gave the impression that this was a dismal place to be. It seemed that the whole place died with all its inhabitants' years ago. Small neon signs indicating palm reading or Tarot card fortunes were the only evidence that anything happened in this place. Severus figured most of them were hoaxes anyhow, but still the strange feeling that this place should always be covered in a thin mist of fog remained.

There was no one on the main road as Severus was left to ponder where he would find the Wraiths. Madeline had discussed Wraiths with him the same day they got in a heated discussion over wands and spell components. Severus had argued that her line of work was much more manageable because she didn't have to carry a wand while she held that wand use would be much more convenient.

"A thing that will do everything? How easy."

"Wand use is nothing of the sort. Easy is a poor word to describe wand use. That aside I've seen you use a wand," he snapped.

"Yes," she had said, "on one person. I could never raise and army with my wand."

"Exactly."

"But then I'm forced to carry all of these pouches that do different things and hope I have everything with me all the time. It's very inconvenient. If I had one source that did it all…" she snorted, "I'd be unstoppable."

"If only that were true."

"Look, you sometimes have to use an incantation and you always have to wave your wand around. I must address my spells with three things: components, gesture, and incantation. Don't complain."

He repressed the thought and the sound of her voice in his head. She was so snotty sometimes that he wanted to hex her and she had a very bleak outlook of the American Wizarding World. Everything about it was dark, and she described it as such. He was surprised because the little interaction he had had with it seemed far more cheery than he had the tolerance for. He tired to remember all she'd told him about Wraiths.

"They are not ghosts," she had said when he offered that explanation. "They are spirits and they can be dangerous. We have ghosts, yes, but Wraiths can, on occasion, interact with the real world where ghost can't. Wraiths can't always be seen, but that doesn't mean they aren't there thinking you can see them and that they are interacting in society. We can only see them in places where we can suspend our disbelief enough to see them – or on occasions where we suspend that disbelief; for example, Halloween. They differ from ghosts because they believe they are still alive, and that's why they sometimes affect the real world. And they can be malicious, though not always."

She had frustrated him with this explanation, he knew of ghosts like this. It was clear that her people separated each group and clumped them into different categories; after all Professor Bins matched this description, except that he was absolutely benign. Still he wasn't sure he was prepared to deal with these evil spirits who assumed they still had a body.

He paused under one of the many old trees that sat along the sidewalk.

"Uncle Severus?"

Snape snapped around so quickly that had to mind his balance. Exiting one of the tiny lopsided establishments was Jaselle Alcott. Her short black hair was cropped around her pretty little face. She had grown into her body more than the last time he'd seen her. She wasn't nearly as lanky as before but still she was too thin. She stepped gracefully down the rickety stairs and met him at the sidewalk. They were all like carbon copies of the next, each Alcott had the same snobbish attitude and prim expression. Jaselle tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled.
He did his best not to loose his composure, "Jaselle, hello."

"Good morning," she sniffed.

"Are your parents here?"

"No, I was just picking up a few things," she raised a bag that was stuffed and clumpy looking. "Classes start next week, I'll be a senior, and I needed…well…stuff."

Severus thought he saw the bag give a shimmying movement but his eyes went back to her young face. She looked almost exactly like Madeline did when he first saw her, if she was filled out a little more; after all Jaselle only lacked a few years to be Madeline's age when they'd met.

"What are you doing here?" Jaselle finally asked.

"I'm seeking Madeline."

"In Cassadaga?" Jaselle raised one eyebrow. "You must have been to see Brent. He's always going on about the Wraiths – how they know things. Personally I think you should go after those tea drinking creeps; the Slaugh circle is the way to go. No offense about the tea thing. Besides, you don't want to see these Wraiths."

"I think I do," Severus said. "Can you tell me where to find them?"

"Of course, but I'm coming with you."

"No."

"Yes, you'll need my help. If as nothing more than a navigator. And by your presence here without my family's knowledge I am to deduce that you don't want them to know. The best way to keep that information quiet is to take me with you."

She was slick, and he wasn't sure if he liked that or not. The point was that she was right so he nodded, "Fine."

"Good," she grinned. "Let me just take these back inside for safekeeping and I'll be right back."

He was trying to reason with himself about letting Jaselle come along when she returned. "Are you positive you want to see them?"

"Absolutely."

"Come on," Jaselle waved him over, "you can only see them in the graveyard here. I'm sure they're everywhere in this city, but you can only communicate with them in the cemetery; it's one of those places that their little shadowy world overlaps ours."

He wasn’t really listening to Jaselle who was saying something and had been for some time, "I'm sorry?"

"Oh," she shook her head, "I was just wondering if you'd seen the Malfoys recently?"

"I have."

"How is he? I've written but nothing's getting there."

Severus presumed she meant Draco and as he went to respond he noticed they'd made it to a very old graveyard. There was a heavy, thick mist that hovered several inches off from the ground. Many misshapen headstones with the words nearly washed away sat at odd angles all over the open field that stretched only a few hundred feet in each direction. He felt Jaselle take a step back as the smoky images of several people approached.

"Oh God," she whispered, "he still lives here."

Severus didn't ask who as the Wraiths drew nearer. She was still backing up when one rushed her, "TRAITOR!"

Before Severus could blink the shadowy being, that was once a man, had Jaselle off the ground and pinned to a nearby tree. "Jaz, you filthy little traitor, just like the rest of them!"

"Let go," she was trying to loosen his grip as her face was starting to go blue, "Let me go!"

Severus quickly extracted his wand and shot a silent spell at them. He figured if the Wraiths could affect his world then perhaps he could do the same in theirs. His deduction was accurate as Jaselle fell to the ground in a crumpled heap clutching her throat and coughing while the Wraith was left shaking his hand in pain.

It was in that moment, as the Wraith turned on Severus that he was able to get a full view of the creature that lived in the cemetery. He was tall, broad shouldered, and handsome. His hair was pinned back with a leather strap and his fine robes suggested that he was once a wizard. He wore a smirk that Severus had seen hundreds of times on Madeline. Severus didn't lower his wand, "I want to know where Madeline is."

"Yeah me too," the man said, "so I can kill her, but she never comes over anymore. Scared, I think. She knows what I'd do to her for taking my job! You must be Severus Snape. My parents speak of you often, about how much they hate you. Tell me, Sev, has Madeline given you divorce papers yet?"

"Elijah!" Jaselle hissed from the tree she was now holding for support.

Severus sneered at the ghost but said nothing. It was clear that this thing still thought he was alive. He spoke in the present tense and acted as if he were still living each day: like he went to his parent's house, was involved in conversation with them, and was up-to-date on current events, this ghost definitely thought he was alive – so much so that he was able to attack Jaselle.

The image of Elijah snorted, he looked just like Severus had imagined him, "I remember when she came back with the information about you…"

---


"How were the seminars darling?" Mr. Robilard Alcott asked his youngest child and only daughter. The table was set for six. Madeline had just returned from England that afternoon. Josephine Alcott had a feast prepared by the hired help when she heard that Madeline would soon be home. Robilard sat at the head, with his wife, Josephine, to his right and his oldest son Isaac to his left. Next to Isaac was his wife Venya and beside her sat ten year old Jaselle. Madeline was situated next to her mother and as she lifted her eyes from her glass and then looked back down to her plate her mother clipped her bowl with the knife to make a sudden piercing sound.

"If she had kept what she intended on doing she wouldn't have had to travel the world," Mrs. Alcott snapped.

"Now, Jo dear, Madeline is a big girl; she can decide to do what she wants for herself."

"Besides," Isaac added with a smile at his baby sister, "she owes it to Dr. Dunlap since she robbed him of a Necromancy teacher."

Madeline leaned over with a wild grin, tapped her glass to Isaac's and said, "Cheers to that."

He produced a wide smile and took the drink in one swallow at her toast.

"That was uncalled for," Mrs. Alcott growled. "You two should mind your manners at the table."

"Be calm dear," Mr. Alcott waved lazily. "Now that you've both been tacky, in your mother's eyes, how were the classes sweetheart?"

Again Madeline went back to staring at her plate, "Fine. Excellent."

"I hear they teach Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, did you have to take it?" Venya queried in her low, sort of, demanding voice.

"I did," Madeline nodded.

"How were Durmstrang's Dark Arts seminars? Better than ours?" Isaac cut in.

"Not better, no. They still teach general magic so it's not nearly as focused as ours is. But it was still fascinating, nonetheless."

"Defense Against the Dark Arts?" Mr. Alcott sniffed. "They teach that?"

"Yes, it's not really applicable here, but it serves the English community quite well."

"How?" Mrs. Alcott looked absolutely appalled. "They'd be better off teaching them Dark Arts so they know how to defend against them."

"It was interesting to see how an opponent might see me," Madeline added defensively. "The teacher was great."

"Great?" Isaac asked with a smirk. "That's high praise coming from you."

Madeline's cheeks went rosy and Isaac dropped his fork, "Madeline? You're not yourself. Who was this teacher?"

The table went absolutely still as Madeline raised her chin and looked at each face present.

"You're smitten," Isaac said in awe at Madeline's slack jawed expression. "I can't believe it, you are absolutely taken with something or someone."

"Darling," Mr. Alcott said setting his flatware aside and sitting up absolutely straight then reaching his hand out to Madeline, "is it true?"

"Yes, Daddy, I'm afraid it is," Madeline took his hand.

He squeezed it, "Excellent baby girl, who's the lucky guy?"

"Snape, Severus Snape."

"I've heard of him," Isaac nodded.

"He's a Potions Master," Madeline said, "and a very good one at that. We've decided to get married."

No one moved, no one even breathed until the table erupted in a stream of questions.

"QUIET!" Robilard shouted and a hush fell over them. His eyes went to Madeline. He appraised her at the table for several long, agonizing moments. She kept her head high and didn't break his eye contact until he smiled softly, "If that is your wish, so be it baby."

"What?!" Josephine's temper flared and she rose from her chair so quickly that it shook the table. "First she becomes a teacher and now this? She was meant for Dade Hanson, not some yahoo in England!"

"Sit down Jo," Robilard warned.

"No!" Josephine threw her napkin on the floor and stalked out of the room with all due haste and slammed the door as she went.

"You weren't meant for anyone Madeline," her father told her reaching out and patting her hand, "not like your mother means it anyhow. I'll fight this one for you, don't listen to her."


---


"Mom's never liked you, NEVER! I hope you rot in hell, and I'd never help you find my crazy bitch of a sister!"

With that the Wraiths he'd appeared with vanished with him. Jaselle stumbled over to Severus still holding her soar throat, "That went well. Don't say I didn't warn you."

"He believes all of that?"

"All that he said was true, the believing part is that he's alive which is just arrogant and cocky of him. If he would have just accepted that Aunt Mad killed him he wouldn't have to live in this tortured existence. Shoot, he still thinks he has dinner at my grandparent's house on weekends. Now, did you want to give my lead a shot?"



Chapter 13: High Tea
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A/N: Again with me and my twisted view of the world in which I write. Yes, this is a little more of the heavy, opaque, and strange magical world that exists in my head. And, like before I posted this chapter and took it down; fixed it, looked at it – kicked it a couple times then decided to post it again. I don’t know why I’m having such trouble feeling brave enough to just let it be (I cross my fingers every time I post because I know my view is different), I guess I’m still afraid it’s all too strange - lol. Let me just remind you that I don't own the Potterverse and some themes present are borrowed from White Wolf. Thank you for reading, I really appreciate it!



High Tea


They walked back to the small establishment where Jaselle left her purchases. She had insisted on sending word to the Sluagh in an attempt to find more information.

“Where can I find the vampire nest?” Severus asked sharply.

Jaselle didn’t even bother looking at him. She whipped the paper thin door open so quickly it seemed as if it might snap off the hinges. “They don’t have her.”

“What would give you the impression that they haven’t got her?” Severus queried cocking an eyebrow.

“My grandmother checked that lead out herself, the first day Aunt Mad went missing. That was our exact thought as well. It’s never the obvious one Uncle Sev.” Jaselle frowned as she walked over to the dinky serving counter set in a small, very hot, tiny waiting area. “It’s just me Madam Hannigan,” Jaselle called over the desk as she collected a scrap of paper, that was once a flyer for some local happenings, and a ball point pen from behind the counter. “I’m leaving my stuff.” She hollered as she scribbled on the blank back of the paper. She quickly folded it up and reached behind the counter again retrieving a miniscule amount of silvery dust. She sprinkled it over the paper and mumbled a series of incantations. Instantly the note vanished. “I hope he’s home, if not someone else might get a surprise letter,” Jaselle grinned.

“And in the meantime?” Severus asked, slightly annoyed.

“We wait,” she looked up to him impatiently. “Let’s get out of here.”

As they left the air-condition-less shop, in the heat of August, Jaselle explained, “Remember the Sluagh are Changeling faeries, they’ll be awkward and old fashioned; not to mention obnoxiously quiet so you must listen closely.”

“I am familiar with them,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Have you ever met one?” Jaselle asked haughtily as they stepped onto the sidewalk. “Because I heard the Ministry of Magic shooed them away years ago.”

“I have not met one,” Severus looked down on his niece with narrow eyes.

“The books don’t do them justice,” she offered apologetically.

At that point a tall, gloomy figure slinked out from behind a nearby tree. He was tall and bony, with shoulder length unkempt, greasy, black hair, pearly white skin and dark, sunken eyes. He looked unnatural, not in an undead vampire sort of way, rather the opposite, in a very alive and almost glowing with magic sort of way. His sudden appearance gave Jaselle a start and she glowered at him.

The individual looked placid, if not unnecessarily depressed. He was young, perhaps in his late teens. He shoved his hand in his pocket and extracted the flyer. His dark tee shirt clung to his exceedingly skinny chest and his black cargo pants looked as though they’d fall off if he removed his belt. He extended it to her.

“You asked for me,” Severus saw his lips move and thought he heard the young man’s voice carry on the wind saying something of that nature though he wasn’t quite sure he’d deciphered it properly. His voice was so soft it almost rang in Severus’s ears like a bell rather than actual words to be interpreted.

“Yes,” Jaselle reached out and took the note back, “that was fast.”

“It was unlikely but convenient, I was in town.” Again it was inaudible and Severus was straining to hear, without appearing to be having any difficulty.

“Well?” Jaselle asked. “Tell me Sleeper, can you get us into a High Tea?”

The young man glanced at Severus, his dark eyes were eerie. They verged on frighteningly depressive. The Sluagh absorbed Severus’s demeanor. His lips moved but this time Severus heard nothing at all.

“Payment?” Jaselle asked. “What sort of payment?”

“I was thinking the sort of a social nature,” Severus took a step closer and he heard the kid’s sing-song voice quietly addressing them again. He would never admit that the young lady at his side was right, he was unprepared for how soft the Sluagh’s voice was, how he looked, and his intensely malcontent demeanor. However, he took it in stride as he did with everything else and he adapted quickly; no one would have ever thought that step nearer was because he couldn’t hear the strange, slouching young man before him.

“Yes, and?” Jaselle asked.

“I will see that you and your friend…” Sleeper paused as he cast those abrasively melancholy eyes on him again, “receive invitations to High Tea this afternoon, should you agree to attend the Homecoming Dance as my companion.”

Jaselle stared at him for several seconds in shock before nodding without a second though, “Fine, done. But you better see that both of us get invitations and make sure nothing is hidden during the meeting.”

“Until later then,” he bowed and stepped off behind the tree.

“Their secrets always come at a price. I should have anticipated such a thing,” Jaselle said looking over her shoulder at Severus.

“I have read that they can ooze under doors, through key holes, and other things of that nature. That is how they retrieve their secrets.”

“Yes, that is true. It’s creepy really. I’ve never seen one do it of course, but I know they can. Then they share all they know at these little get-togethers.” Jaselle shrugged, “It’s like with anything else magical though, all those Mundanes, er – Muggles, out there see they see a juvenile delinquent who wears black and sneers, you see a faerie born of nightmares; only because your disbelief is already suspended.”

“And the other faeries, will we see any of them?”

“Course not,” Jaselle said. “Well not at the tea gathering at least, but they’re everywhere around town. The Sluagh are very protective of their secrets, I’ll be surprised if Sleeper will be able to get us in at all. It’s uncommon, if not unheard of, to allow non-faeries into the gatherings even though we’re magic users. See, we harness the power of magic, where they are the magic. I imagine it would be tough to be a magical creature living in a human body. We think we have it tough managing two very different worlds, imagine being part of two different worlds.”

Just then a tiny child came skidding out of the building straight ahead of them at the end of the road. She was perhaps five, her long dark hair was bouncing as she ran. She stopped short right in front of them, her crazy black hair covering her shadowy, sunken eyes and glowing white skin: her Victorian, gothic, dress astray after the mad dash. She was clearly a very young Sluagh. She dropped to one knee and raised two, heavy, yellowed envelopes to them. If she was saying anything Jaselle didn’t respond or mention it so Severus assumed she wasn’t speaking.

Severus reached out and took the envelopes. In neat, black, calligraphy style, penmanship across the front one read: Mister Severus Snape and the other: Miss Jaselle Marie Alcott. He handed the one addressed in her name to Jaselle. He didn’t bother asking how Sleeper had known who he was he just peeled the item open.

“Did I mention word travels fast in the Sluagh circles?” Jaselle smiled weakly.

“I was aware,” Severus scanned the request for his presence at a fine mid-afternoon High Tea offered by the Lady Morganna and Mistress Black Widow.

~*~*~

It was not far and they arrived ten minutes early to an ancient abode that looked as if it were on its last leg. The wooden frame was crooked, the paint was peeling, and the dying grass, brown shrubs, next to the wilting flowers showed serious signs of neglect. The windows were all closed and the curtains were drawn tight, there was not one welcoming thing about the old house. But it was not at all intimidating to Severus, as many passers-by might be frightened by its uninhabited appearance and ghostly nature.

The bell gave a ring that sounded like a magnificent grandfather clock striking midnight. The door was opened by an exceedingly tall looming figure. His appearance could be described similarly to Sleepers, though this man was aged several years past the dark teenage boy. He extended his hand, palm up, to Severus. Severus handed him the yellowed invitation and the creature gave a slow, graceful bow allowing him to enter without reading the note. The same routine was repeated with Jaselle.

The house could have been beautiful inside. It reminded Severus of his in-laws extensive mansion masked by a quaint little home in suburbia, only covered in years of cobwebs and dust. This house was made of all dark oak. The curtains being drawn made the heat linger in the air and gave the impression of evening outside, despite the fact that they had just come in from a cloudless, blue, two o’clock sun in summer. It smelled of something warm and sweet, as well as flowery and spiced; however it also had an overpowering aroma of putrid and rotten too. The many shelves were covered in cracked nick-knacks of various shapes and sizes, that in their prime might have been of great value, taking up every available space on the walls of the sitting room to the right.

The tall man turned and headed down the hall that led straight ahead. Severus and Jaselle followed without any words. The man’s one step covered two of both Severus and Jaselle, however he seemed to be used to such things as he loped along very slowly and they were able to keep up with his wide gate easily. His slim body gave the illusion that he was much taller than he actually was though Severus figured he was at least six and half feet tall. His long face was situated in a frown and his sunken cheeks matching his black eyes were slightly unnerving.

He brought them into another sitting room where several large cushy, moth eaten chairs awaited them. After sitting down silently, alone, for several minutes a woman arrived. She was like the rest. Her clothes were outdated, ruffled, lacy and black, her hair was long and dark while her porcelain white skin glowed. The shadows around her eyes were heavier and gloomier than the others, but she still carried the glamorous, strange, and magical aura that the rest did.

She carried a misshapen tray, with a steaming chipped teapot and three cracked cups and saucers, with spoons, sugar and cream in little jars, and a plate of stale and possibly rotten pastries. She placed the tray on the coffee table that the chairs surrounded. A wary smile passed momentarily over her thin, dark lips as she nodded. She mouthed a word that looked like ‘Welcome’ and gestured to the tea. Severus looked at the cups and teapot, like the nick-knacks this was probably once a very expensive set of high quality serving dishes. In the books he had read that the Sluagh like things that had outlived their regular wear. It was a symbol of their dreary life. They liked bugs, particularly spiders, and he had no doubt in his mind that the Mistress of this house was named for a spider with reason. The cobwebs that lingered throughout the house were probably made by what the Sluagh who lived here considered ‘friends’, and that’s why the corners were left unclean and full of spider silk.

Severus and Jaselle exchanged quick glances and both reached for a teacup simultaneously as the hostess left them with the china and sweets.

“Don’t expect to feel warmly welcomed,” Jaselle whispered through tight lips as she let Severus pour the tea in her cup, “they are social creatures only among their own, passing off everyone’s gossip in secret. That’s Black Widow, she might give the impression of hospitality but expect her to soon be spiteful, show distaste at our presence, and act politely rude when the other guests arrive.”

Severus didn’t speak to the any of the Sluagh who were beginning to arrive. Occasionally he would nod when a sullen face would greet him similarly, however he mostly sat quietly and sipped his tea. He had been surprised at the quality of the beverage served. He had anticipated the terrible drink he had been given in Brent’s apartment, but this tea was better than any he’d ever had in his lifetime. He figured the faerie Sluagh must use magic when making it to please and entertain their guests, it was the only thing in this place that would actually meet the standard at a Muggle tea. The men, of all ages, came in once fine top hats with heavily jeweled walking canes – missing a stone here and there, while the ladies, also of varying age, wore fancy moth eaten dresses ruffled with yellowed lace and similar well worn fineries – however there was one other commonality among their look, they all were heavily draped in black. Severus often wore black, today was no different, therefore he blended well but Jaselle was like a crimson ruby, in her red robes, thrown into a sea of onyx. She drew the guests’ attention hastily as they entered, whispering to one another in tones so low that no one but their companions could hear.

He wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed but quickly the second sitting room in the warm house was filled with people. Every chair was taken and those that didn’t have seats lined the walls, sipping their tea and whispering to one another. Severus couldn’t hear the specifics in the whispers, however he could rarely (but on occasion) make out a name or place. Once he thought he heard Hogwarts and something with his name in it but he couldn’t be certain. Finally the one who had delivered tea to them stood and the already quiet room, despite the conversations going on around them, went still.

She raised her hands, “Welcome friends.” Her announcing voice was one that he would use when speaking quietly to a companion, but in the motionless room her voice carried just to the walls. Everyone around them smiled in awkward little grins, bowed their heads, and gave brief waves returning the greeting. Her soft voice was almost musical as she went on, “I’m sure you’ve all noticed our outsider guests today. Please welcome Mr. Severus Snape and Miss Jaselle Alcott – ” she paused to allow the crowd of skinny, shallow eyed, gloomy, people to pass whispers about them quickly. She bowed at the waist deeply and said, “I am Mistress Black Widow this is my friend Lady Morganna,” she indicated an aged woman sitting uncomfortably straight in a chair at her left. “We are to understand you seek information.”

“Yes,” Severus said addressing the woman in his own low hiss that was more powerful in this group than the Minister of Magic himself. He placed his teacup and saucer on the small coffee table in front of him, “Madeline Alcott is my wife – ”

One side of the woman’s mouth turned up and Severus paused. “We know, don’t insult me or my guests with such obvious facts. We also know you are looking for her. In fact, we knew you were coming for the birth of Eileen before you did.” She scanned the crowd and another eerie smile came and went over her sullen face. When any of the Sluagh smiled it was more frightening than when they didn’t, it was like a mad clown in a fun house sort of wicked smile.

“I know things about your wife that would make the devil himself blush,” the woman said pacing in front of the coffee table. Her long vestments swept around her twiggy legs. And for the first time since he entered this house he felt awkwardly uncomfortable, but he remained composed as she glanced her sad eyes on him. “Did you ever wonder what she was doing with only Brent in the graveyard on your wedding night? Did you ever consider why Kantela was the one who came back to get help? Brent was asking her, begging her, not to go through with it. She tried to poison her brother Isaac when she was ten because he killed her cat. She wanted to name Eileen after her great grandmother Miranda and she went to find you in England because she missed you while she lied to her mother promising she’d ask you for a divorce.”

Severus just snorted. He cast a disbelieving glance at her. “Gossip,” he snapped.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “Gossip?” She hissed, “How dare you defile this meeting, one you shouldn’t have even been invited to mind you, with your pathetic disbelief…I’ll tell you about gossip!”

“Allow me,” the fragile old lady named Morganna rose to her feet. She looked at him, their eyes met and she didn’t blink. “Once Potions Master Severus Snape, lusting after a position just out of your reach – you went into Defense Against the Dark Arts knowing you would only serve one year, but you don’t know why you knew that. Your will was broken at five when your father busted your nose, let you bleed on the carpet, and then made you clean it up. At eleven you entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where you made instant enemies with a charming man named Black, Sirius. You still hold animosity to popular charismatic men due to the relationship you developed with him. You’re jealous of handsome friendly men because you find them threatening; to you Brent Mullins is one of those people. You held a secret affection for a girl named Lily Evans that manifested into a real crush in your sixteenth year. You never told her, she never noticed, and then married a friend of that charming man you hated; pitching you deeper into hate. You still loathe their son.” She didn’t seem to pause, even to breath. She didn’t blink as her black eyes stayed locked to his. He could feel Jaselle’s gaze on him, but he couldn’t look at her. Lady Morganna continued in her soft, sweet, floating voice, “You spent a good deal of time severing the evil wizard Voldemort, that’s the only thing about you that would be clearly obvious. You’re afraid of Madeline, that she might break your black heart the way the Evans girl did. She is also intimidating to you – and sometimes, in secret, you wonder what she is doing with you. We have wondered this as well. A few months ago you murdered Albus Dumbledore against your will. Shall we talk about the events surrounding the day you received that skull and snake Dark Mark on your arm?”

“No,” he hissed, “that will do.”

Jaselle narrowed her eyes and raised her chin, “Will you tell us where my aunt is?”

“Why should we help you or her, for that matter?” Black Widow cut in. “She has not always been the person she is today. I…we…owe her nothing.”

“On the contrary,” Severus spoke, “without Madeline the vampires might win in your war.”

“A war they started. We never declared war on them, the vampires created this.”

“And that makes it okay to lose?” Jaselle argued.

“You need us as much as we need you witch,” Black Widow said. “Without the faerie magic that holds your school up, your magical residences, and all other places you magic folk go, you would be forced to move away from prying Mundane eyes. Your people will not let them win, you need us.”

“Yes and, likewise, you need us. Help us now,” Jaselle pleaded. “Where is she?”

“She would not do the same for me. I owe her suffering. Oh yes, there was a time, before I was this,” Black Widow touched her bony chest, where her sternum protruded through her shallow skin, “this fits me much better though, when I was on the same path as she. She was evil and vile…”

---


Madeline was leaning on the railing of an upstairs balcony, overlooking an escalator between classes. She was young and lively arrogant. Her dark eyes tinkled with malice as a skinny soft spoken girl in her classes made to head down the stairs.

“Korrigan Keegan,” Madeline poked the awkward girl in the ribs, forcing her to drop a pile of Necromancy books she was already precariously balancing.

“Piss off Alcott,” she whispered with as much conviction as she could when she bent to pick up the astray books.

“Fighting words,” Madeline smiled slapping her foot on one of the covers of the novels Korrigan went to pick up.

“Let go.”

“No, this is fun.”

“What’s fun?” Korrigan looked up to Madeline disgusted. “You’re arrogant and mean. Does being pretty and popular give you the right to act that way?”

“Why yes, it does,” she smiled.

“Fine, descend from your throne and mingle with the common folk, but do it nicely,” Korrigan gritted her teeth and jerked the book out from underneath Madeline’s foot. As she did so Madeline was thrown off balance and tumbled backward. Korrigan let out a pleased, soft snicker.

“Funny is it?” Madeline swooped with instant haste and extracted her wand poking Korrigan in the neck.

“You don’t even know how to use it,” Korrigan hissed quietly.

Madeline poked her harder with it, “No. I took one Wands, Charms and Magic of the Old World class and I don’t remember a damn thing from it, but I could still impale your chin with it!”

“Do it!” Korrigan barked.

“So poor you want to die?” Madeline’s anger rose and she pushed harder.

“It must be nice to have money, though I’ll take the family who loves me any day over what you have. Everyone knows your mother has sold you off to some rich man twice your age as soon as you turn twenty-one.”

“I like Dade, for you information, heathen. He’s the best Hunter the Republic has seen, and together we’ll be rich
and powerful. I’ll serve my purpose without complaint, you should consider doing the same. If it means that the world needs little creatures, like yourself, to walk on so that which is better can rise, so be it! Perhaps you should consider a job so you can come live in the dorms with us – the rest of the real Necromancers. I know a good street corner.”

“You and your pursuit of glory, fame, money, and power; is that all you see?”

“Power,” Madeline stepped back looking Korrigan over with a strange glean in her eyes, “yes, power. I will be the most powerful magic wielder in the world.”

“That’s a scary thought,” Korrigan grumbled.

At that Madeline thrashed out catching the collar of Korrigan’s Academy of Alchemy shirt and swung her around slamming her hard against the balcony railing. “How dare you impugn me you tiny piece of filth. You aren’t worth my time.”

Fear rose in Korrigan like she had never felt before and she knew she’d erred, no one would notice her missing from the crowd. She was terrified that Madeline might actually kill her. It was a silly thought, Madeline wasn’t a killer, just a bully; yet it lingered in her mind. Still she felt strange, cold, like the heat had drained completely from her being, like she was dead. She could feel Madeline’s hands on her, but she wasn’t pushing her anymore; instead it seemed as though Madeline were holding her up, or cradling her. She sort of felt like she was falling or maybe flying…she couldn’t really tell. She could hear Madeline saying something but she couldn’t make out what. Finally the world was returning in strange colorful swirls. The first thing she saw was Madeline leaning over her.

“Korri, are you all right?”

“Yes, I think so…what happened to me?” She questioned and for a brief moment she thought she’d lost her voice completely – she knew she was trying to talk, but it seemed as if nothing had come out.

“I think I scared you to death,” Madeline managed a weak condescending smile. “Or to life, as it were.”

“What do you mean?” Again the breath passed over her lips but she couldn’t hear her own words.

“You’re going to be kicked out of magic school Korri. You’re a Changeling, a faerie, a Sluagh. It looks like I scared you out of your chrysalis and into your dream dance, into your faerie awakening.”

The girl, once named Korrigan, who had always been soft spoken, shy and an outcast now looked on the world a little differently – she was an awakened faerie, no longer a student witch: as simple and as quickly as that. The world was a little brighter and took on a strange magical edge that could not be explained. She could see her pale arms, now somehow a little paler, and she could feel her throat contracting; her voice shrinking.

“They’ve come for you. I called them, you need to be with your own kind right now. The Sluagh will take you away. Don’t be afraid.”

Korrigan’s eyes went to Madeline and she thought for a moment she’d cry. “I don’t want to be a faerie. I don’t want to be magical!”

“Don’t fight it,” Madeline said. “Don’t fight. I’m sorry Korrigan, I really am.”

“Get away from me!”

And with that Madeline stepped away without another word.


---


“I’m better here,” Black Widow scowled at Severus. “She was a nasty, mean, vicious girl, just like the rest of her family, until she killed. I’ve heard killing can make a person; and it did for that horrible waste of skin.”

“Silence,” Morganna hissed. “We owe Madeline for your presence here. She might have tortured you in your young life, but she could have let you die there that day…but she didn’t. We owe her for giving you to us Mistress, even if yours was a late birth into your faerie self. She saved you that day, not destroyed you. And as such we will offer what we know.” Morganna looked to Severus again, this time with less intensity. “She came here, yes, three days ago. We don’t know where the child is, we have heard nothing through the grapevines; however Sabella,” Morganna pointed to a Sluagh hiding in the shadows, “suggested Madeline try Dade, he’s a better investigator than we. She had, at that time, agreed. The most we know is that she left here with the intention of trying him next. Now I suggest you leave this house, you are no longer welcome here banal wizardfolk.”


Chapter 14: The Unusually Macabre Collection
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The Unusually Macabre Collection


Severus was staring angrily at the house from the canopy of a shadowy tree, the light dappling his face in the mid afternoon sun rays.

“You really served the Dark Lord? Can I see it?” Jaselle leaned over Severus’s shoulder. “The Dark Mark.”

“No,” he growled lowly. “You are far too eager Jaselle, you should mind your manners; your father would be displeased.”

At that the girl receded under the tree as well. She spoke softly, “At least my source, though a little unpleasant, yielded better results. Results we can’t use, but better results none the less.”

“What do you mean ‘can’t use’?” Severus asked.

“I’m not going to Dade’s house! Are you mad?” Jaselle looked up to him. “My father would have my head for even saying it let alone considering actually doing it.”

“You will take me there,” Severus said.

“What?! No,” Jaselle said sternly. “I will do nothing of the sort. Dad hates Dade. And so do I, for that matter.”

“If he is the way to Madeline won’t you consider setting aside those unnecessarily harsh assessments of this man?”

“Unnecessarily harsh assessments…” Jaselle lingered on that for a moment. “Are you daft? Did you hear them in there? Dade Hanson was liked by the crazy girl that Aunt Mad was in her youth, grandmother adores him and my father, who likes you, can’t be in the same room as him. Aren’t those fair indicators that he’s not someone you want to associate with?”

Severus leaned over very close to Jaselle. He was almost barring his slightly yellowed teeth at her. “None of those things concern me. Take me there.”

Jaselle did her best not to look frightened, though she was not hiding her feelings well as she gulped. “All right, but like with the Wraiths, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

~*~*~

The wasn’t like any of the other houses they had been to, this house was a mansion from the outside: three stories, sitting on the beach, with a perfectly landscaped yard, and swaying palm trees leading up to a heavily windowed beige stucco residence. As they took the walkway leading up to the home (if it could be called that) Severus felt more uncomfortable than he had ascending the rickety stairs of Mistress Black Widow’s dingy house.

They didn’t have to ring the bell, a man appeared in the wavy glass of the front door before they’d gotten to the welcome mat.

“JAZ!”

“Hello Dade,” Jaselle said as mildly as she could when the door burst open.

Severus raised an eyebrow. Dade was not the man that he had expected. Though he had heard little of this man, he was far from what Severus had anticipated. He was tall, thick, robust, and jovial. He was wearing an Italian white suit, there was nothing that suggested magic user in his dress that smelled heavily of leathery aftershave. His flowery shirt beneath the white jacket was unbuttoned to the third one, revealing a tuft of salt and pepper chest hair that seemed to fit with the appearance of the house. Rather than some talented wizard Dade looked like a retired Mafioso taking up his remaining days on the beach. He must be in his mid forties, but it only made him more distinguished – and he wore it well.

“I was wondering when you would come, since Madeline spent a night here two days ago. After all this should be her house too. Come in, come in,” he threw and arm around her shoulder.

“Dade,” Jaselle said slipping out from underneath his arm. “This is Severus Snape. Uncle Sev, Dade Hanson.”

Dade’s eyes met Severus’s only briefly before he scanned Severus’s whole appearance. Instantly a wide smile appeared on his sun browned face and his hand shot out to Severus, “Excellent! It’s a pleasure Mr. Snape.”

Severus’s lip curled, and a natural sneer developed on his face, as he accepted the offered hand, “Likewise.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you,” Dade said pulling the double doors open. “I hope not to be disappointed. From what I understand you are a…talented man.”

Severus raised an eyebrow and slipped into the bright house. He chose not to comment he just hummed in a non committal manner as he examined the walls, heavily accentuated in natural light. It was full to the brim with all sorts of strange objects.

Dade leaned over close to Severus and grinned proudly, “Admiring my Burners I see.”

Jaselle did her best not to grunt or grumble but she was certain something had escaped her as she turned away disgusted.

“Burners?” Severus queried.

The gregarious man leaned back and looked shocked, though it was clearly an act, “Pardon me? You are not familiar with Burners? Well,” he pointed to a small room to the left. “I had this house built for Madeline, after all I had anticipated…well never mind. I have 4, 819; only two are not mine. See,” he widened his eyes and leaned into one of the many glass cases displaying the mismatched objects and pointed.

Severus looked past irritated as he cast a scathing sneer on Dade but looked in the case none the less. Propped up against one another were two glittering golden rings.

“A gift to me, from her.”

Severus was staring at them, he could only guess what exactly they meant.

“Horcruxes?” Severus questions, “Elijah’s?”

“Heck no! Burners, once Horcruxes, now exercised of the evil and simply the burned object – hence Burners. I keep them all, all the ones I exercise. Trophies you see. When I hit 5,000 I’m retiring. But yes,” he was like a hyperactive child bouncing around from topic to topic, “they were the rings that Elijah poisoned and Madeline handled.”

Even at his distance Severus could see his reflection in the gold of the wedding rings. He and Madeline had never worn bands and a part of him wished they had now; but he didn’t linger on the thought – there was a reason they didn’t tell everyone and if he had worn a ring it would have violated their agreement about the arrangement around their marriage. Dade had been explaining about how he managed wrangling a werewolf to capture one of the Burners in a case off to the right. This room looked like a jewelry store what with all the cases separating life from the things protected behind the glass casing (and who knows what spells) and he couldn’t even fathom Madeline living in this environment.

He looked over to Dade, though the story he was telling was probably true, Severus couldn’t help but be reminded of Gilderoy Lockhart. He was absolutely disgusted with Dade. He had heard somewhere that Dade was a Hunter (it was clearly his profession from the macabre nature of the things he took to decorating his life with) which, at its very base, meant he was a trained Necromancer. He was the most boisterous Necromancer that Severus had ever seen – it was obnoxious.

“He’s the best Hunter in the world,” Jaselle leaned over and whispered to Severus. “And…he knows it.”

“As fascinating as your story is,” Severus raised his voice, cutting into the valiant tale, “what can you tell us about Madeline.”

“How do you mean?”

Severus felt his jaw go rigid, “I suppose where she is would be a start? You said she stayed here, where did she go next?”

“She left yesterday morning. I had no way of tracking Eileen as I could a Horcrux. Though it happens when people use living things for a Horcrux, it is uncommon. I could feel it and use magic to see where one would have traveled to, but a living thing with no darkness imbued in it? There’s no way to know where she is unless someone saw her being taken or someone confesses. I wish she were still here.”

“What?” Severus said.

“Because you’re here,” Dade said hoarsely. “She would have wanted to know. And she might not have been so crazy. You must really be somethin’.” Dade bit his lip.

Severus was almost appalled at Dade’s manner of speaking. He wanted to tell him to shut up and perhaps pass a good hex on the man who was verging on jealous of him. Severus wasn’t sure he had been envied, and if he had, it was never this obvious.

“Did you know that you’re her reason?”

“Her reason?” Severus was definitely annoyed now.

“Yes…”

---


Dade swung the glass French doors open when he heard the knocking. “Madeline!” He beamed.

“Hello,” she managed, through tight lips.

“Come in, come in!” He waved her over. “I’ll get some wine.”

As he glided off toward the kitchen Madeline stood on the expensive Spanish tiled floor and looked back out the open door, across the wooden porch, that led to a beautiful pool, and then out to the white sand beach of the Atlantic. The waves were crashing heavily on the shore line, she smiled…there was once a time that she wanted nothing more than to live in this very spot; but that time was long gone. A frown tugged at the corners of her mouth, but she fought it back just as Dade returned with two long stemmed glasses and a carafe of wine.

“Crystal. I picked them up in India last time I was there. I hope you like it.”

“It’s lovely.” Madeline’s nimble fingers toyed with the base of the glass he’d handed to her.

“I know your taste for fineries. Does it please you?”

She thought to laugh, but battled that down as well. ‘Please me,’ she thought, ‘if only you knew what actually pleases me.’ “Yes,” she lied, but she did it well and he poured the wine with no further consequence.

Standing in the house that was designed and built for her she was lost for what to say. He thought items would make her happy and so had she. She drowned the thought in wine as she tipped the glass back and chugged nearly half of the dry Mascato. There they were all the things that made him content. She could see several glass cases, shielding bowling balls, gold chalices, pictures, and other oddities that were once prized possessions by evil wizards who thought these items worthy of holding soul fragments. An Egyptian necklace, a bowtie, and a bowl of marbles – it always fascinated Madeline just how many magic users thought marbles appropriate for Horcruxes.

“Beautiful aren’t the?” He breathed seductively on her neck as he leaned over her thin shoulders and tapped his wine glass to hers.

“Yes,” she lied again, a habit was found easy with him.

“Together we can fill this house with them, the whole house. It will be the best, most priceless collection on the continent; possibly even the world.”

“Your collection is already the most extensive and most priceless,” Madeline’s voice was emotionless and almost bored as she pointed this out.

“What troubles you Madeline?” He asked, hearing it this time.

She untied a small velvet bag from her pouch belt and dumped the contents onto the bar as she set her glass down: two golden rings; one large, one small. “I thought you could have them.”

Dade leaned over and eyed them suspiciously.

“I don’t care for them.”

“These are…”

“My parent’s,” Madeline said shortly. “Elijah.”

He was still leaning over them, inspecting their qualities. He glanced up at her and then back to the bands. He reached out a trembling hand and very softly ran his finger along the edge of them. “Magnificent,” he whispered. “My dear’s first hunt. Perfect.”

“I’m getting married,” Madeline said turning away from him.

He straightened and looked over to her with a confused expression, “Of course, next summer.”

“December,” she corrected.

“If that is your wish, so be it,” he went to her, but she stepped quickly out of his grasp.

“No Dade I’m marrying someone else in December.”

He stood stalk still for several seconds, just staring at her back. “But, the power we could have. The money we could make. We could be famous.”

“I have no doubt,” Madeline nodded.

“But…”

“I’m going to teach in Elijah’s place.”

“Is that where you’ve been this summer?” He asked suddenly aware.

“Yes, I was taking classes across the world to be better educated in how to instruct my students beginning next week.”

“So what?” Dade said quickly. “Why not stay with me? You could still teach if that is your wish. This house is yours, I did it for you!” He huffed angrily then asked, “Do you love him?”

Madeline looked at the ground.

“You can’t, how long have you known this man?”

“I met him over the summer.” Madeline said.

“Do you love him?”

Madeline shook her head, “No.”

“Madeline,” Dade spoke more gently this time, “Do you love him?”

She pressed her shoulders down and looked out across the room full of Burners, “No.”

“Look at me!” He caught her around the shoulder and swung her to face him. “Tell me now! Tell me you don’t love him!”

Madeline looked helplessly up to him, her proud manner chased off, her bold unstoppable arrogance beaten back, “Yes Dade, I love him, with every ounce of my being. He is what I want, my match. I’m pained without him at this very moment; though I could never tell him so.”

“Damn it child! You don’t know what you speak of. Where’s that girl I know? The one who wants power and glory?! WHERE? WHERE!”

“Gone,” Madeline mouthed, “she’s dead, and now there’s me.” Madeline slammed her fists against one of the glass cases. “You know nothing of life Dade! Nothing! You pretend to live each day yet don’t come close to understand the essence of what makes life worth while. You live behind your ‘collection’ and things. The things are what you care for! Nothing more! And they make you look pretty, oh yes, they make you look bold and dashing – but what’s that? Who cares!” She pounded on the glass again. “I will not be one of your things, one of your trophies! I won’t. You can’t pet me, polish me and put me up on your mantle. I’m a person. I refuse to live like this, I want to feel purpose and he does that. He respects me. ME!” She poked her chest vigorously. “Who I am. Not some image of fame or power. I don’t need that…in fact, I don’t want that. I want to be a wife, a teacher, and a mother. No one of consequence. Just a woman, one of many in the crowd, just a Necromancer, nothing fancy.” She ran her arm along one of the shelves pushing the various Burners onto the floor carelessly, “These are what you care for, nothing else! When you learn to love, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. When you learn that there’s more than Horcruxes and the next chase. Elijah…he made me see. The fear in his eyes when I rained Burning Plague through his veins brought sense into my fat, thick little head. Then I met Severus, sweet Severus, who sees Madeline through the books, classes, and dark magic. He appreciates me – Madeline.”

“Your mother will never have this.”

“She’s going to have to, all of you are,” she said recomposing herself. “So start right here. Accept it however you must. Yes, Dade, I’m done lying to you – I love him, I really really do.”


---


“I think perhaps you should reassess your perspective,” Severus said. “She is clearly the one who is remarkable.”

“There is no question there,” Dade nodded, “however, she would not be her without you. Keep that in mind when you search for her.”

“Have you any idea where she might have been going next?” Severus chose to address a different topic.

“Yes, I think she might have been going to seek out Bastien Corbett…the Vampire Prince who gave her the un-healable neck wounds. I can tell you where to find him.”


Chapter 15: Sleeper's Helping Hand
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Sleeper's Helping Hand


“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Jaselle whispered. “You don’t know anything about the politics of the war or the vampires. You’re stepping in over your head here. If Aunt Mad can’t get out-”

“Jaselle,” Severus cut in, “enough. I’ve never asked for your approval, and I’m not seeking it now. I have one intention and if that means seeking it through the vampires then so be it.”

Jaselle fell silent and then added quietly, “I just don’t want you to get hurt too.” She peered northward, the sun was inching closer to the horizon and the sky was turning a brilliant shade of crimson and orange while the few thin clouds were only a purplish hue. She reached into one of her many tiny pouches along her belt where she drew out two vials. She extended one to her uncle. “Here, drink this.”

Severus took the small glass tube and looked at the vibrant red liquid.

“Blood of Fire.” Jaselle explained. “It burns going down so I suggest taking it in one swallow. If they bite you…well you’ve seen the effects; Mad used it on the other Prince the day you got married. Kantela invented it.”

She was right – it felt like his esophagus was on fire as the thick potion inched into his stomach. It spread through his limbs all the way to his fingertips and toes as the magic took effect. The heat of his blood didn’t simmer with time, he figured when it did he would know the potion had run its course.

What seemed like out of know where, a long slim hand gripped Severus’s wrist. He gave no indication of surprise, though he was startled, but turned rather suddenly as Sleeper slinked out of a nearby shadow.

He folded his long arms over his skinny chest and nodded to them.

“Good evening,” he said in his ever whispering voice. “I have word, news. You’ll want to come with me.” His shadowy eyes were wide and glassy as he started in the other direction. Without questioning they followed him.

Severus wanted to ask, as they walked for what seemed like miles, where they were going but he was certain he would only hear half of what the brooding youth might say. Finally he stopped and fingered them in close to him.

“It might sting for a second,” Severus thought he heard him say before Sleeper did a small pirouette and then blinked his eyes shut heavily and said ‘ta-dah’.

Jaselle gripped his arm as it felt like he was slammed by his heels into slab of cement. It was jarring and painful as his breath caught and the wind was pushed from his lungs without warning. As his head stopped spinning he realized he had been transported to a small clearing and he was actually standing on thick green grass. Jaselle released his arm and stumbled a few feet away coughing and clutching a nearby tree; apparently it effected her the same as it had him.

“A sooner warning would have been nice Sleeper,” she mumbled.

“Sorry,” he said, though there was no indication of actual sorry in his tone. “I knew you wouldn’t agree to be brought as such. Changeling magic is rawer than your ‘fine’ art of the same.”

“Where are we?” Jaselle asked.

“Gemini Springs.” Sleeper said.

“But-” Jaselle paused as she saw what Severus had.

He was frozen in his spot. A few hundred feet away was a crumpled mess of cloth. The moon was just coming up and the white light of the crescent was casting a gentle glow on the form under the branches of a huge tree. Severus had spent an afternoon many years before memorizing the unmoving features of the woman who lay still on the hill. He would recognize her anywhere. He stepped closer. Her color was gone but she looked quite peaceful in the moonlight.

He could hear words being exchanged softly behind him but he didn’t bother to listen as to what was being said. As he drew nearer he could see a small stream of red running from her lips down her once bronzy cheek onto the ground. Her neck was solid crimson and her chest was not moving with any indication of breath.

He dropped down next to her. His finger tips met her icy cheek and methodically he reached up and pushed her eyelids shut.

“Madeline?” He mouthed picking up her head in his hands. He shook his head in disbelief. He had seen death, many times, but for some reason he couldn’t understand this one…he just couldn’t grasp it. “Madeline?” He questioned again, giving her a tiny shake. Her body was freezing and her head was lying in a small pool of blood. He leaned over her.

Only as a clear drop fell onto her nose did he realize it was a tear of his own. He gritted his teeth angrily

“Stop!” Jaselle was suddenly there. He’d forgotten about Sleeper and his niece. She grabbed him by the shoulders. “Move away!”

“Get off!” Severus growled at her.

“Don’t Uncle Sev,” Jaselle said. “You’re just going to make a fool of yourself.”

Slowly Severus’s head turned and the stare that he gave Jaselle bore into her soul. He leapt to his feet and whipped his wand in her direction, not completely knowing what he was doing. He stood perfectly still between Madeline, laying limply on the ground, and Jaselle who was staring wide-eyed at him.

“Uncle Sev,” Jaselle said softly raising her hands defensively, “please don’t.”

“Get away,” He hissed. “She’s mine.”

“Severus,” Sleepers voice carried in his direction. “Don’t do something you will soon regret. You should hear Jaselle out on this matter.”

“She’s not dead,” Jaselle spoke clearly.

He added venomously, “She’s cold, not breathing, and bloody. She’s clearly dead.”

“She’s a Necromancer,” Jaselle said plainly. “She’s not dead. Roll her over on her side. She’ll vomit when she wakes, they always do.”

Jaselle made to move closer but Severus jerked his wand in her direction and she fell back closer to Sleeper. “Please,” Jaselle pleaded, “she’ll wake on her own eventually…but why wait. I can wake her now. I promise. Please Uncle Sev, let me go to her.”

“She’s dead,” he said again coldly. He was holding back any indication that he was feeling anything but the slight quivering of his wand hand would suggest that there was some emotion bubbling beneath his hard shell. “She’s my responsibility.”

“I know you’ve sat in on her classes,” Jaselle said as she took off her belt, knelt on the ground, and began mixing several powders. She went on without looking up, “The first thing one learns is how to feign death when in a tough situation. You know, fake it…like an opossum; only much more real.”

Severus reasoned with this explanation. It was true, he remembered her telling the students that they would learn the trickery of faking one’s own death. Finally he let his arm fall and allowed Jaselle to go to her.

Jaselle hurried past, before he changed his mind. She tipped Madeline’s head back and dumped the concoction in her mouth. “You have no idea how many Necromancers have been buried alive.”

To his amazement Madeline’s chest heaved to life and she lurched forward emptying her stomach on the grassy hill. She coughed and sucked in several rugged breaths. Quietly he sank down to his knees next to her again.

“What good would it be if you didn’t really look and feel dead?” Jaselle said as she climbed to her feet and stepped away giving them some privacy.

Madeline chocked some more and wiped her chin after spitting out several mouths of blood. “It must have been nearly three hours,” she said to herself, looking at the grassy ground as she was perched on all fours, “my stomach was nearly full of blood.” Quickly her hand went to her neck which she drew back to examine the slick red liquid that covered her palm. Finally she twisted her head around to see Severus kneeling next to her.

A smile slipped onto her lips, “Hello Severus. Forgive me, I’m not exactly presentable at the moment.” She reached over and tucked a thick lock of blood caked hair behind her ear.

He stared at her in sheer and utter disbelief. The events of a few weeks earlier came to mind and he said sternly, “Don’t be ridiculous. I love you Madeline, whether it be in your typical appearance or some other way.”

Her smiled widened, “I’m glad to see you.”

Quickly the grin faded and she dumped another amount of blood and bile onto the ground.

“What’s happened?” He asked pulling her hair back over her shoulder.

“I’d forgotten how unpleasant this process is.” She mumbled. “I know who has her, Eileen, and it isn’t Bastien Corbett…”

---


Madeline headed out in the early morning hours. She didn’t care if the creatures she was seeking weren’t active in the day, she was going after them. The war was raging hard on the wizard front and to have an item that the Alcott family would die for would be a huge advantage to the vampire population; not to mention endanger the Academy as she was a teacher there. There were many logical reasons for the vampires to have taken Eileen.

Dade knew where the Bastien’s hideout was and he had told her where to find him. She had arrived quickly and blindly.

Rage didn’t make her very stable and it was clear as she barged in on the small abandoned building that severed as a fortress to the night dwellers.

“Where is he?” She as roared to the third vampire she had come across. This one she didn’t kill.

“My pet, I’ve been waiting for this moment.” A makeshift throne composed of an ancient wicker king’s chair laced with black crushed velvet and bejeweled with rubies was situated along the back wall of the building. Bastien was perched in it and the vampires all disbursed, allowing him to have a direct view of Madeline. “I’m disappointed, you’re alone.”

Just then a scraggly looking pale faced vampire darted through the crowd and whipped his dark sun glasses off before taking a kneel and bellowing in a slurred vernacular, “Sir, sir, the girl is coming…the Necromancer they talk about…she’s coming!”

“Thank you Michael,” Bastien said slowly and mockingly. “I never could have known. Did you guys know?” Bastien raised his hands and the crowded roared with various responses. They were a scruffy bunch, but strong and dangerous none the less. The vampire population had grown under Bastien’s watchful eye. He took excellent care of his clan – and they were all just as vicious as he. However, he didn’t tolerate mistakes or ignorance.

In a flash he had set the vampire called Michael a flame and in an instant he was nothing more than a smoldering pile of dust and ash. The crowd was so silent that Madeline’s gentle breaths could be heard.

“Leave us,” Bastien said sternly and the whole building emptied in a matter of seconds. Madeline watched the vampires sneak out of floor traps and ceiling tiles, for none could walk out the doors into the hot, sunny morning.

It was just the two of them.

“How’s your neck?” He smiled evilly.

“Fine,” she lied. “Where’s my daughter?”

He shrugged then paced in front of her, “Who knows. I’m glad you’ve come to visit me, I’d like to keep you.”

“Stop with the games Bastien. Tell me what you want, I’ll do it; just give me Eileen.”

“You’ll do anything I say in exchange for your infant?”

“Yes,” Madeline snapped with no hesitation.

“That’s a shame. I don’t have her. When she came to offer the baby to me I never dreamed you’d give yourself for her.”

“She?” Madeline asked.

Bastien snapped his fingers and suddenly two vampires grabbed up either of Madeline’s arms while a third removed her belt and pouches. Apparently they weren’t as alone as he had led her to believe.

“That’s right sweetheart,
she…” Bastien said as she was clapped in iron cuffs and chained to a tether. “Come on don’t play dumb, you know who I mean…you know who she is…” he laughed coldly. “Now I don’t have to keep the baby and I still get you. I’ll be back for her at sunset.” He told the three vampires who’d chained Madeline, “let no one touch her.”

It took nearly half the day for them to pass out, but as Madeline had expected her three captors took a mid afternoon nap. She reached over and ripped the neck out of her dress and peeled the gauze patch off from her wounds. After squeezing the punchers she was able to allow them to bleed enough so that it looked like she’d been drained recently. Then she whispered the one spell that didn’t require components, the one spell that she prayed would fool them, the one spell that might save her life. As soon as the words left her lips she went limp and still, cold and visibly dead.


---


“They dragged you up here, the three of them,” Sleeper added, “fighting over which one had done it. Each thought one of the others had drunk you. But they all wanted to cover the evidence so they dumped you here. Word spreads fast.”

“In your circles Sleeper, yes.” Madeline nodded. She eased over to Severus. “I’m sorry that you have to see me like this.”

“Madeline,” Severus’s tone was crisp, “we’ve already discussed this.”

“I know,” she looked pained, “but I feel indecent.”

“You’re fine,” Jaselle bent to Madeline and threw her arms around her. “Don’t worry about it. Aunt Mad, tell us…who has Eileen? Where must we go?”

Madeline drew back and looked at the three awaiting faces, she shook her head in sadness and disbelief. “One of the few who had access to Eileen that night, someone we didn’t expect.” Madeline reached out and touched Jaselle’s shoulder, “Your grandmother went to see the vampires the day I left to find Eileen; she didn’t check it out as a possibility for where the baby was…she went to offer Eileen to the Prince.”


Chapter 16: The Reason
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A/N: I know it’s been a long time coming, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to update; but here it is! I hope you all enjoy it. Thank you for reading! This is not the end, BTW, there will be at least one more chapter.

The Reason


The silence carried for some time as the shock settled over them.

“Why?” Jaselle finally asked hoarsely. “Why would she do that?”

“Because her priorities aren’t in order,” Severus arched an eyebrow, answering for Madeline who had keeled over again. She didn’t look well. Her eyes were heavy with months of worry and tire, and her normally honey skin was an almost putrid shade of white behind crusted blood. To fake her own death she had sacrificed much of her own healthy blood and was now suffering from it, however she wouldn’t consider admitting such a thing. She nodded at Severus’s words as wiped her chin with the back of her hand. “Yes, she’s crazy.” Madeline whispered. “Though I have a few of my own questions for her.”

“Come Madeline,” Severus reached out to her and hoisted his wife to her feet.

Jaselle didn’t move to get up, she stared helplessly where Madeline had been still shaking her head in disbelief.

“I will recover overnight, it’s nothing,” Madeline told Severus. Secretly she understood the expression he was wearing and though she would rather not discuss it she knew it wasn’t going to go unmentioned forever so she decided to end it now. “Tomorrow we will approach her,” Madeline raised her voice for all of them to hear, “and we will solve this issue. Sleeper I trust you won’t mention this to yours until after I’ve handled this situation. It’s imperative that we have the advantage, and word moves fast among the Sluagh.”

“You have my word Mrs. Snape,” Sleeper sank at his waist in a deep bow.

“For now we will return to Brent’s house,” Madeline said. Severus’s nostril’s flared but he did not argue. For a moment he was reminded of the old lady, with years of secrets and a sweetly bitter manner who had revealed things about himself that even he didn’t want to remember; Brent was part of that, what he still thought of as, gossip. The thought did not remain as he rarely lingered on anything.

It was nearly midnight by the time Severus, Madeline, and Jaselle arrived on Brent’s doorstep. Sleeper had abandoned them with the promise of seeing them the following day and Madeline thought she heard him mention something about obligations but she couldn’t be sure.

It was nearly a repeat performance as the previous night when Brent tugged the door open in a mildly sleepy state. His yawn ended abruptly as he saw Madeline standing weakly in his doorway. Hastily he threw the door open and grabbed her up, instantly seeming fully awake.

“You look one key off from dead,” Brent said squeezing her tightly.

“I was,” she managed to squeak under his heavy embrace.

“Please,” Severus growled prying Brent off from Madeline. “Your previous diagnosis holds Mr. Mullins, she is unwell.”

Brent’s smile had infected his whole personality in a matter of seconds and Severus’s angry tone went unnoticed by the healer. “Thank you Severus. Please come in,” he waved to the three of them.

Brent bustled around getting drinks for his guests as well as vials and powders to give Madeline strength and boost her body’s ability to reproduce the blood she’d lost. After he settled in across from them he noticed Jaselle’s melancholy look, Severus’s ever present sneer, and Madeline’s exhaustion. It was then that Brent’s smile faded. He took a deep breath, “Well…”

“Is Sereth safe? Have you taken good care of him?” Madeline queried as she forced down more of the terrible hot brew Brent had insisted she drink.

“I took excellent care of him,” Brent chuckled. “He was just perfect and I made him answer all my questions just like you always insist. Your mother came and picked him up today, she wanted him for the night.”

The cup slipped from Madeline’s hand and fell to the floor shattering in a magnificent array of ceramic shards and steaming yellowed liquid.

There was no pause, no moment of consideration, Madeline climbed to her feet and turned to Severus, “We must go there, now, time is of the essence.”

“So it would seem.” As always Severus was not of the mind to openly question Madeline as it would undermine her need for respect. He knew she’d show him no less consideration were the circumstances reversed, it was part of what made them able to understand the other.

“You can’t leave,” Brent moaned. “You’ve just arrived.”

“We must,” Madeline said. And there it was…Severus was comforted, the reason Madeline loved him, married him, and wanted to be with him, because Brent was willing to breech the threshold of respecting Madeline’s wishes. “Please, stay here now. You will better serve this cause if you be patient. Jaz, go to your father and bring him to my parent’s house. Make haste!”

Jaselle scurried to her feet and vanished in a poof of silver dust with the words accompanying the spell lingering just behind her. Severus and Madeline followed in Jaselle’s footsteps disappearing quickly after Madeline weaseled a small amount of anything powder from Brent.

Madeline pounded on the door she and Severus appeared before. She didn’t stop until she heard the catch unlock. As the door cracked open her father’s face appeared.

“Madeline, thank goodness.” His handsome aged face passed a glimpse of relief as looked her over. “Severus, please come in.”

“Robilard,” Severus nodded stiffly. They had never had any animosity, in fact Robilard had heartily expressed his approval of the Potions Master at their wedding reception and his like of the man had continued to grow over the years. This was an attribute that was best explained by the happiness that Severus brought to his daughter.

Madeline reached over and grabbed Severus’s arm before he entered the house. At his wife’s touch Severus paused, waiting for her next move. “Where is she? Where is that basket case?”

“I beg your pardon,” Robilard’s tone matched his disapproving expression which turned to concern. “Heavens Madeline you look terrible, your mother will be extremely displeased at seeing you. Clearly whatever’s happened to you has had an effect on your mental stability.”

“My mental stability is not in question however-”

“Madeline!” Josephine Alcott’s voice was shrill on the midnight air as she arrived behind her husband in her night dress and evening robe. Her talon-like hand pushed past her husband and caught Madeline around the wrist, “Standing outside in the open looking like a heathen, you’ll embarrass us.” Her eyes surveyed Severus briefly, but she turned her nose up without addressing his presence at all.

Severus’s shoulders straightened and he raised a questioning eyebrow, but the moment didn’t last as Madeline twisted her arm free and pounced past her father, full out, onto her mother clinging to her long, thin neck mercilessly. “How dare you question my appearance! I suppose by now you’ve determined you’re the cause of it!”

“MADELINE!” Robilard was shouting. Both Severus and Robilard moved to intercept the two, but Madeline turned a wild eye on them.

“Shut up!” She was seething as she responded to her father. Quickly her attention went back to Mrs. Alcott. Madeline had pinned her mother against the first interior wall of the Alcott house. Slightly blue in the face and clawing at Madeline’s hands cutting off her air Josephine was helpless. “Where are they? WHERE ARE THEY?!”

“Madeline,” Isaac pushed into the group taking action, where Severus was reluctant to do so and Robilard was too astounded to intervene, and pulled his sister free from her soon to be victim. Jaselle had arrived with her father and was lingering silently in the background helplessly still in shock and disbelief.

“Isaac, she…she…” Madeline puffed angrily.

“I know what she did,” Isaac said coolly. “Mother?” He barked, demanding an answer. Josephine leaned on the wall, coughing and holding her neck.

Finally reaching his wife, Robilard helped to steady her. “What’s the matter with you?” His fury turned to Madeline who was once more trying to get past Isaac.

“Mother?” Isaac tried again. “Where are they? Where are Sereth and Eileen?”

Robilard drew back and looked his wife over questioningly, “Oh Merlin, it can’t be true. Jo?”

Set behind her heavily lidded eyes a nasty smile developed. She peered up to Robilard, “Oh but it is my sweet, it is.”

With those words Robilard Alcott let his wife go and she fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Slowly he stepped several paces back aside his two children and gaped at her awkwardly. “Why?”

“I would do anything for my babies! ANYTHING! And if it meant for Madeline to grow and move past her obstacles,” Josephine shot Severus a hasty glare, who had slinked back into the open doorway, “then so be it! I do what’s best for them!” And with that she reared back and spit at Severus’s feet.

Madeline’s mind was reeling. Her mother couldn’t possibly mean was she said, eliminate her, Madeline’s, children so she could move on. Then it hit her, a conversation that had went mostly unnoticed by her nearly two weeks ago…


“Do you know why I didn’t ask that you make an Unbreakable Vow with Severus on your wedding day?” Mrs. Alcott’s tone calmed and she pretended to smile.

“Why mother?”

Again, Madeline had the right response because Mrs. Alcott went on, once more turning on her fury and she jabbed her long bony finger at the scroll, “So that one day you could ask for a divorce!”

“Enough,” Madeline got to her feet, raising her voice to match her mother’s.

“Don’t even take that tone with me Madeline!” Mrs. Alcott roared. “I’m doing what is best for you.”

“I think I can decide what is best for me, Mom.”

“Well Severus isn’t it.” She spat. Then, taking several deep breaths, she calmly went on, more gently, “You have such a bright future but you’re being dragged down by the dead weight of a husband who doesn’t care for you. You could get out of this school and move on with your life if you’d just do some reorganizing.”

“I like working here.”

“It was suitable for your brother, Elijah, but you’re better than all of this.”

“Better than what?” Madeline wrinkled her nose. “Mom I went to this school. This is the best school on the east coast. We have some of the best students because of the complicated, difficult, and selective application process.”

“I know that,” Mrs. Alcott stiffened. “But, it’s still teaching. There are so many more noble things that you could be doing.”

Madeline restrained the urge to roll her eyes, “What would you have me do?”

“Considering that you decided to have children I would have you be a mother!” Then she audibly mumbled something that sounded very much along the lines of Severus’s worthlessness.

“That is one label for me, but not the only. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Severus and I are expecting a second child. I would appreciate it if you didn’t speak ill of him.”



“All of this because you think it would better me?” Madeline asked angrily but restrained her physical responses to the emotion. “Your logic is extremely ill conceived mother. If you would follow your argument just a little further you would realize that it leads me to the same situation you so nobly fight for me. They are my children and, likewise, I would die for them. I will not stop here, I would still die for them. And if it means having to get through you…I will not yield. Now where are they?”

“Josephine you can’t be serious about this, tell us where they are,” Robilard cut in heatedly.

Her eyes went to him and for a moment it looked as though she’d break into tears but it passed and she went stony. “No. I stand by my intentions.”

“You’ll die by your intention,” Madeline growled.

“If I die now, you’ll never find them. Besides you have no spell components with which to kill me.”

“I do,” Isaac added snidely.

“I’m telling you, you won’t find them.” Josephine barked. No sooner had the words left her mouth and Sereth’s voice echoed into the room.

“Mommy!”

Everyone’s attention turned to the little boy whose hand was wrapped in that of the excessively skinny, surly young man who had served by Severus’s side from most of his journeys in search of Madeline, Sleeper. Bundled quietly asleep in his other arm was Eileen wrapped in a pink blanket. He let Sereth’s hand go so the boy could run to his mother and he gently placed Eileen in Severus’s arms.

Sereth didn’t stop as he would for his father, he threw himself into Madeline’s open arms. She scooped him up and held him tightly. Meanwhile Josephine reached for her components but Isaac and Robilard intercepted her well before she could harm Sereth, Eileen, Severus, or Madeline.

“My apologies,” Sleeper said in his tiny, whisper. “My lie was not meant maliciously, but I had to speak to my friends. It served you well for they had learned where the children were.”

“This isn’t the end,” Josephine hissed. “I will free you Madeline, you’ll see.”

But her words went unnoticed as Madeline had found her way, with Sereth, to her husband and little Eileen where she was content admiring her family.


Chapter 17: Epilogue
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There Are No Happy Endings Because Nothing Ends


It had been two days, but it felt like a grand total of two minutes as time seemed to evaporate. Severus watched Madeline gently place Eileen, who was peacefully asleep as if nothing out of the ordinary had ever happened to her, in a white bassinet. He loved her apartment, he always had. The decorations were ancient tapestries and scrolls with medieval incantations stitched into the cloth or painted by thousand year old Chinese mages. It was always dim with the same fragrant smell that her classroom possessed. There was also a worn leather mixture in the air from the shelf of sacks that held complete skeletons of various creatures; he knew she animated them on occasion just to make sure she still could.

He cleared his throat to break the silence, and then went on to say, “As always, not a moment’s rest. Tomorrow I’ll return to England.”

Though she had placed Eileen into the cradle several seconds ago she still leaned over the sleeping child. She fiddled absentmindedly with the blankets around the baby. Her dark hair was pulled back into a series of braids; she had since cleaned up and mostly recovered from death. Her color had returned, but she still looked a bit ill from the weeks of worry and tire that had hung like a dark cloud over her. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes before she leaned deeper into the bassinet and adjusted the pink blanket again.

It was there, like crystal quartz pasted to her cheek, a clear bubble of shiny water. And then Madeline nodded stiffly.

Severus wrinkled his brow at her. He thought for a moment she might turn on him, she looked quite tense – like she’d break, again.

Finally she looked over to him, in a stony hollow sort of expression. The tear had vanished and she shook her head at him. “I can’t do it anymore Severus. I can’t,” she said evenly.

“What do you mean? I don’t understand your purpose?” He hissed lowly.

“I won’t. I’m sorry.” She raised her chin at him. “You will take me with you, if you will not stay here with me.” There was no other alternative in Madeline’s mind, and it was clear in her words; she meant not to leave him, she meant (rather) the opposite. Severus stared at her, he had not expected this day to come; he knew that she wanted them to be closer – geographically – however, things were so complicated. “I’m tired of pretending like this is normal. I know what you’ll say, ‘but it’s not safe’…and I’ll tell you what I always do, ‘it’s never safe’.” A wary smiled played on her face, “And there was a time, only weeks ago that I agreed with you about safety. I feared for our children and their lives; but Severus,” she went to him, and with true conviction she went on, “I’ve learned they aren’t safe here either. I’ve seen enough death to last a lifetime. I know how complicated it is for you but is this not worth it?”

“Your mother is no longer a threat.”

“Yes, that much is clear.” Madeline nodded, “She will live forever behind some sort of bars, we’ll see to that, whether it be the padded sort or the criminal sort. But who’s to say the same won’t happen again through some other medium. Severus…”

“Madeline,” he began.

As she could tell by his tone and inflection where he was going she cut him off. Her face was placid and her voice was crisp, precise, and emotionless, “Severus, I’ll volunteer for the assistance offered through the Academy to the Ministry’s cause.”

He could feel his jaw go tense but he knew there was no fighting this, and he went on spitefully anyhow, “You’ll complicate things for me.”

“Forgive me but you agreed to those complications seven years ago when you made a promise to me.”

She took a step nearer to him. He was still frowning, as he often did, when he reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders. He pulled her close, “It will be better, as I’m sure you’re aware and are using to your advantage now, to choose where you’ll go rather than be assigned by someone.”

“Precisely.”

“You must understand that you are jumping into a war and you know the circumstances surrounding me. You must also understand that though we are closer in miles we still can not flaunt our union; soon things will be different, the end is near. And, since I have the advantage of intimate knowledge of my own war, will you do as I say when you relocate?”

She looked up to him, “Absolutely.”

~*~*~


Little had changed in the last month at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. It was storming, thunder cracked and lighting lit the night sky in jagged little spears of white. Ron stumbled down the stairs. Harry had locked himself in one of the upstairs rooms for a few days now and Ron wondered if he would come out even when Hermione arrived. Things were bleak.

He pulled the door open and before he could invite the individual in he was being pushed to the side.

“Forgive me,” she said pulling her cloak off and shaking the rain from it in the doorway.

“Um?” Ron looked at the woman he didn’t recognize awkwardly as she reached over and closed the door. He stared at her, she was younger than he expected when she removed her cloak.

“Is Minerva McGonagall here?” She asked.

“Who are you?” Ron questioned.

“Madeline?” McGonagall’s voice resonated through the atrium in sharp shock.

Ron peeked over his shoulder at McGonagall standing next to his mother and father. “Company,” he smiled weakly.

“Forgive my intrusion,” she said to Ron glancing at him briefly. He was taller than her with his gangly long legs. “My name is Madeline Alcott.”

“What are you doing here?” McGonagall asked.

“I’ve come with the intention to accept your offered proposal upon my last visit. I wish to assist you.”

“Come in,” she said. “Mr. Weasley please find Madeline a towel and see if a fire’s been made in the living room.”

Ron nodded and disappeared as McGonagall brought Madeline into the kitchen with Molly and Arthur following closely behind.

“What’s made you change your mind?”

“I learned that you were not mistaken in the events around Albus. I was offered the option to serve your cause through my own government, but I thought that here with you things might be more productive as you attack the source rather than go through channels.”

“You found him then?” McGonagall asked.

“No, but I need no further explanation after speaking with various persons surrounding the death.”

“Where are your children?”

Madeline accepted an offered cup of tea, “They are with my father across town. He moved here with me; he had nothing back in the States except my brother and me. There was a bit of trouble on the home front and he needed a brief escape from the memories for little while. So, he came with me – for now.”

“I see,” McGonagall nodded. She was still staring at Madeline skeptically. There was doubt, it was clear but McGonagall knew the numbers of the Order were falling while Voldemort’s group was increasing. She had little choice, Madeline could be a powerful ally in this fight if it came down to the Dark Arts; she could also be a dangerous enemy if she was turned away. With the questions still lingering about Madeline’s allegiances, but the fear of having her against them, McGonagall got an idea. “Excellent, I still hold; we can certainly use a person of your talents.” To keep a watchful eye on the new member of the Order McGonagall knew just where to keep her, “But as to keep from questions about your presence among us you we will need you to serve a position as well.”

“Like a job in the professional sense?” Madeline asked.

“Precisely.”

“By all means,” Madeline nodded.

“Excellent. Hogwarts needs a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and with your experience as a teacher it will be quite fitting, provided Hogwarts will open next term.”

“Me? Defense Against the Dark Arts? Minerva I don’t think that would be appropriate. I know nothing of defending against the Dark Arts. Perhaps Potions, I am well versed in potion making – you know my base knowledge is in Alchemy as all students in the Academy are.”

“We have a Potions Master,” McGonagall presented a slim smile. “You will be a fine Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher as you have an intimate knowledge of the Dark Arts – what better person to teach against them?”

Madeline remained composed and proper as she sipped her tea. She thought on it for some time. Finally she placed her cup to the side and looked at the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and then to Minerva, “Very well, I accept.”


Well this is it, the end of this piece. Thank you for reading this piece and staying with me through this whole thing, I really appreciate it. I know it’s left kind of open; just in case I feel like revisiting it…just in case. :-)

Chapter 18: Postscript
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Thank you for my loyal readers of this story. This chapter has been on my mind since finishing DH some time ago. I always liked to think that it fit in with cannon and was possible though not probable. This is my final addition, a way to wrap up questions and fill in all the holes to keep it congruent with JK's novels. I hope you like it. I would appreciate any feedback you might have. Thank you so much for reading! Special thanks to Jackie, Haley, the other Mandy and Juls for making this chapter possible. Go-Go Team Awesome!

Postscript




Madeline was sitting in her office recording a neatly stacked pile of tests into a grade book. It was in her nature to finish things promptly, grading was no exception. She glanced at the tall grandfather clock that sat across the vaulted room. It stood aside two full skeletons that had no bar connecting them or holding the bones in place, they were standing by magic alone. She took in a great breath allowing it to fill her chest.

There was a crisp knock on her office door that drew her head around sharply to look at it. The clock read half past 8 in the evening. Classes were winding down for the inevitable let out for summer, therefore it was rare for students to come to her office at all – let alone this late. If it had been Brent Mullins, the healing teacher and her best friend, or the newly married Kantela Ives, the magical fire specialist instructor – the Pyromancy teacher, they would have likely just come in.

She straightened in her seat, smoothing her red velvet robe and applying her most naturally curt expression. “Come.” She said pointedly. The door didn’t creak open, it was pushed ajar with determination and force but closed just as promptly. Madeline did her best to hold back her surprise at who had arrived. Standing in her office was the king of the local fae population, Dexter Murphy. He was a young man, barely older than her graduating students – but he held a sort of charisma, charm and command she couldn’t quite place. His race was mystery to her, a flighty sort of creature comprised of pure magic wrapped in the body of a human to hide and disguise themselves so they too could exist with the Mundanes. The Sluagh were this sort of magical creature, a subclass of the fae race. The fae were allies of the mages, a good thing Madeline figured as their magic was more raw and powerful than the conduits of sorcery that mages had to be. Most fae were mischievous, playful and sometimes dangerous with their magic. Dexter was no exception to this rule, he was often full of coy joking; but when the occasion called for it he could set aside his true magical nature and pull for the serious human side of himself. It was what made him a good leader; a good king.

She got to her feet. “Your majesty, what brings you here? Is it a matter of the court?”

His dark eyes cut to her, their typical dancing and laughing nature holding no such emotion today. He seemed rather drawn, if not a little sad. Madeline couldn’t help but notice how unnatural it looked on him. “I’m sorry to say, no. I come on issues of a personal nature.” He said striding over to her. His true appearance was masked to the Mundanes who didn’t believe in magic, who didn’t live with it as she did. To her trained eyes she saw and elfish looking man, wearing tall pointed ears and a slightly ethereal face structure. The same way Sluagh, to those who knew, saw pasty skin and hallow sunken eyes.

Madeline’s expression hardened, her brow furrowed and her eyebrows knitted together. “Please sit.” She said pointing at the chair across from her desk.

“No Madeline.” Dexter said moving closer to her. “Not this time. I think it would be best if you came to this chair and sat.” He said taking her hands and guiding her over to the handsomely crafted wooden chair. After she took it he knelt before her bowing his head slightly. “Sleeper, my Sluagh advisor, arrived moments ago with news from England. News of the war going on there and news of your husband. Madeline, there’s no delicate way to say this, forgive me for being so base and pointed, but he’s been killed.”

The words hit her like icy water and she laughed hollowly, shaking her head. “Impossible. Surely you’re mistaken – surely Sleeper heard wrong.” Madeline’s voice was choked in sheer disbelief. She felt her throat close a little and her chest tighten as well as a sharp prickling behind her eyes. Though her words denounced his she couldn’t help but hear the honesty ringing in them; and there was the ever present fact that Sluagh knew everything from the gossip about who’s was sleeping with who all the way to decisions the prime minister of England would make before he knew he would make them. She had no idea how they came by their secrets but they were never false, they were often gritty and honest.

“No ma’am, it’s true. Know that he didn’t die in vain. He helped in the final fall of the Dark Lord Voldemort. England is a free nation again.” Dex said, the only hint of hope in him was echoed in that moment.

“And to what cost!” She snapped, stepping up from her seat. She whipped around and pressed her hands firmly on her desk, hoping to hide her shaking knees and queasy stomach. “The loss of many for one man, one horrible vile man. Dex it will never end – it didn’t end here for us last year when we destroyed our foe – there are still dangers here; the same will be true there.” She bit into her tongue bitterly. They were just words now, words to keep the tears at bay, words to cover the pain, there was little truth or meaning in them.

She felt his hand rest on her shoulder blade comfortingly, there was warmth radiating from him. It could have been her imagination or it could have really been there but it seemed as if she was absorbing some of his magic through the contact; as if she were gaining a small amount of strength from it. Even in its smallest measurement, it helped.





“You will leave this land now. Immediately.” Severus told her shortly. He was standing at his full height, his arms were folded over his chest and wearing a typical Snapely sneer. After Minverva McGonagall was rejected as Headmistress and he was named Headmaster by the Ministry of Magic he was granted the power to choose his own staff. Under the guise of a loyal servant of the Dark Lord Severus had appointed all Death Eaters to the vacant posts at Hogwarts. When Madeline had appeared in the cusp of danger on his proverbial doorstep he was less than pleased.

“I have no intention of abandoning you or this country. I’ve come to stand by my husband and make my intentions known. I will not run Severus.” She told him defiantly.

“I’m not asking you to run Madeline, I’m telling you to keep our children safe. This isn’t even a discussion, it’s not up for debate. I will not hand you over to the Dark Lord – that’s exactly what you’re asking of me.” He snapped. Though it seemed as if he were being unwilling to bend, and perhaps he was, his true meaning was masked. There was a deep seated fear in Severus that something dreadful could happen, and likely would, to his family if they stayed in England. He didn’t give out love lightly, rather he didn’t give it out at all, so when that emotion was present in Severus he meant to keep it. He refused to let anything happen to them, as long as it was in his power.

“It’s just as dangerous at the Academy Severus. Just because our biggest foe, of the time, was defeated in May doesn’t mean we’re safe. It doesn’t mean others haven’t risen in her stead. Trust me when I say they have. It’s only been three months and there’s a struggle over who will next succeed her. There’s a man Severus, one by the name of Norman, who’s learned how to steal souls by murder. He kills fae and places their magic in mages, witches, wizards, whatever you want to call them.” She threw her hands up in the air angrily. “He’s breading a race of powerful troopers by murder, and a side effect of that amount of magic in one being – insanity. Insanity Severus, one mortal being isn’t meant to hold that much magical power; it drives them crazy. Are you listening to me, really hearing me?” She was staring at him unblinking in her seriousness. “He’s targeting mages – mage’s children specifically. He can mold them that way and as being born as a fae is mere chance with no genetic principle he’s targeting the ones he knows have a genetic element – witches and wizards. Our children are in danger Severus – serious danger. Here, I’m a pureblood by your standards; we’re safer here.”

Serverus was already shaking his head. He understood her words but couldn’t fully grasp the danger as he’d never lived it. What he did know was that she was more than in trouble where she stood, and he meant to help her understand – by force if necessary. “Do you know a man by the name of Blaine Kipp?” He asked tersely.

Madeline drew her head back on her neck not fully understanding how this question came to play in any of the things she’d told him. “I do. He was a student of mine. He graduated a little more than a year ago.” She remembered him well, he was a dedicated Necromancer, strong in his suit but he was lazy, a jokester. He was too busy entertaining the class than reading, yet still managed decent graded and proved to be a successful wielder of the Dark Arts. He was kind, gentle and friendly too. Madeline figured he had too soft of a hand.

“He was here, in England a month ago and exposed that Dark Lord to the art of Necromancy. I have it on good authority that the Dark Lord visited the Sophia’s, a loyal group of Death Eaters, where this Blaine Kipp was staying just to learn more of the art. I’m under the impression that he got little of the actual practice of it but now that he knows it’s practiced, actively practice, he has a taste for it, a hunger. I have no intention of handing you to him – and believe me Madeline that’s exactly what he’d ask for. You have no idea what he’s capable of and I will not let you learn.”

Madeline stood still for a moment, letting this news wash over her. “And he’s still here, teaching him the ways of Necromancy?” She asked quietly, but with no less sharpness.

“No.” He replied tartly. “That’s exactly the problem, he’s sent out many of his most loyal to seek out any that he can find. Any at all, I’ve kept you existence secret this long and I can continue to do so – only if you’re not available. You might be a pureblood but you forget that our children aren’t, by my doing. Sereth and Eileen as a significant concern of mine.”

She shook her head again. “Dunlap was murdered on the school grounds, in the school. Have you heard?” She asked. “We have a new principal. How is that any different from Dumbledore’s death? How can you possibly think its safe?”

He moved closer to her and gripped her shoulders while maintaining his stiff posture. “I never said it was safe. What I’m saying, my wife, is this – you know your monsters and I know mine. I’m no more prepared to face yours than you are mine. Go home – keep my son and my daughter safe. Keep my wife safe.” He leaned over and pressed his lips to her forehead. “Please.”






The last memory of him, his final words to her, flooded her. They washed over her mind over and repeatedly; his final plea to abandon him in an attempt to protect herself and their children. She wondered how she’d explain to Sereth where his father was, how Eileen would grow up vacant of the man who did actually love her despite his inability to show it outwardly. Madeline knew he loved them, she knew he loved them all.

It felt as if her heart had been plunged through with a dagger and the blood from her was pouring out leaving her cold and vacant; dying. She straightened in her spot, forcing the tears down. Now was not the time for tears, they would be reserved for her own private sanctuary where she would have the luxury of indulging in the emotions of the heart fully; without the young king there. Though he meant well Dexter was hardly the person who was meant to shoulder her broken spirit. It didn’t matter that he was there and willing to do so, she would not yield to that.

There was still shock coursing through her veins. Disbelieve was present. He had been her match, her life mate, the man she gave more that all of her being to. She had given him something she didn’t even know she had – her heart and soul. “Thank you.” She said dryly. “Thank you for bringing this information to me, you may go now.” She could feel him opening his mouth to respond, his lingering presence reinforced it. “No Dex, not now. Just leave me.”

She didn’t hear him exit, but she knew he was gone. Once alone in the company of no one but herself Madeline sank into the nearest chair she could find. There she allowed the tears to come, full and hard. She cried like she never had before, she cried so painfully harsh that she wasn’t sure she’d ever recover. The pain sliced into her so abruptly and so wholly that she thought her chest might cave in.

She wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed but her eyes were sore by the time she lifted herself from the chair and moved around behind her desk. As she thought she couldn’t cry a single tear more, another bout of them sprang to her eyes and rolled relentlessly down her puffy and pink blotched cheeks.

She reached in the top drawer of her desk and extracted a fresh parchment. Dipping her quill in the nearby inkwell she began to write. It was a letter to the keeper of documents for magic society in the United States, the Wizarding Republic Government.

To Whom It May Concern:

Henceforth disregard any documentation provided by Madeline Alcott, see attached marriage license. From this day forward understand that I, Madeline Alcott, will be addressed in all official and nonofficial writing and verbal articles as Madeline Snape. These are my wishes, please see that I am registered in all files as such.

Sincerely,
Madeline Snape


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